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Thursday, September 13, 2012

I’ve pretty much given up on expecting sense and, more importantly, COMMON sense, out of the ReThugnican Party these days. I mean, you’ve got a man running for President who thinks that it’s perfectly OK to monger another war in the Middle East. What I didn’t expect – and indeed, I don’t think ANYBODY expected this or saw it coming, is the sheer, unmitigated gall as well as the cynical, self-righteous BS that Mitt Romney got up after our consulate in Benghazi, Libya was stormed and our ambassador and 3 other folks that worked with and for him were brutally murdered on Tuesday.

By now, we all know the story. On September 11th, during a “protest” about a film that demonizes Islam, the consulate was stormed by a group of armed men who used RPGs to blow up the walls and set the place on fire, after which they brutally murdered Ambassador Chris Stevens, Sean Smith, a foreign service information management officer, and two others whose names are being withheld because their families haven’t been notified yet. This is the first time since 1979 when Adolph Dubbs died in Afghanistan that an American Ambassador has been killed in the line of duty.
And of course, Mitt Romney just HAD to yap about it. HAD TO. He’s got NO foreign policy experience, he is a completely tone-deaf person when it comes to diplomacy, and he’s just plain . . . well, STUPID. This is a man that goes to the Olympics and manages to insult one of our closest allies, for cry-yi-yi (and I won’t even go into what happened in Poland!). Of course, that doesn’t keep him from having and disseminating his opinions. He shut have kept his indiscreet mouth firmly shut rather than opening it and proving to the world that he’s a complete and utter fool, braying like a jackass about something that he knows absolutely nothing about.

I’m with James Rainey (http://www.latimes.com/news/politics/la-pn-mitt-romney-pastor-jones-20120912,0,884310.story?track=rss); “Mittens” should just triple down with “pastor” Terry Jones. You remember him, don’t you? He’s the braying jackass that was going to burn Korans at his “church” on the anniversary of 9/11 in 2010. Seems that “pastor” Jones is the main person that promoted the low-budget, anti-Muhammad film that sparked riots and triggered the killing of the U.S. Ambassador to Libya Chris Stevens on Tuesday. Known as "Innocence of Muslims" or "Muhammad, Prophet of the Muslims," the incendiary flick depicts Muhammad, Islam's holiest prophet, as a thuggish womanizer, and Muslims as homosexuals, child molesters and madmen. SUPPOSEDLY this film was done by an amateur film-maker named Sam Bacile.

So, just who IS Sam Bacile, and what on earth did he think he was doing? Interesting question, isn’t it? What he thought he was doing, of course, was fomenting exactly the sort of reaction that he got with this atrocious piece of crap. He got the Religious Reichians© all stirred up in all of their smug, self-righteousness, and he got the Muslim world all stirred up to violence. And he got a big dividend as well: he managed to get an Ambassador and 3 other folks killed as a result. WHO he really is, is a question that a WHOLE lot of people would like to know. Because, you see, *HE* doesn’t seem to exist (http://www.cnn.com/2012/09/13/world/anti-islam-filmmaker/index.html).

AND, in the meantime, Mitt “WEATHERVANE” Romney, as I said, just HAD to comment about what happened at the Egyptian Embassy as well as comment on the deaths in Libya. Just HAD to. First he tried to bitch-slap the President for “a lack of clarity on foreign policy” (when he hasn’t got any experience in that particular field of endeavor), and then he further criticized the White House for a supposed apology issued from the embassy in Cairo after protesters first gathered there. "An apology for America's values is never the right course,” Romney said. Here’s the statement that was issued:

“The Embassy of the United States in Cairo condemns the continuing efforts by misguided individuals to hurt the religious feelings of Muslims -- as we condemn efforts to offend believers of all religions. Today, the 11th anniversary of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States, Americans are honoring our patriots and those who serve our nation as the fitting response to the enemies of democracy. Respect for religious beliefs is a cornerstone of American democracy. We firmly reject the actions by those who abuse the universal right of free speech to hurt the religious beliefs of others.”

So, where’s the apology? I don’t see one.

His own church issued a statement condemning what he said – and, when your OWN church condemns you for intolerance, that proves that you’ve gone too far. And that’s what “Mittens” did. He went a long way past too far. His cynical, self-serving attempt at politicizing a real tragedy caused in part by the very people that he’s been so assiduously wooing is contemptible. Worse that that, it was wrong – and worst of all, it has served to put embassy staff in the Middle East at far greater risk of being assaulted, hurt or killed. All because he could NOT resist jumping in, off script, and “proving” that he’s his own man, and damn the facts in the case, which he knew NOTHING about except that he wanted to embarrass the President and try to beat up on him for “apologizing” to a religious organization about which he knows nothing and cares less about.

All I see here is a stupid, small-minded, narrow souled religious bigot who has been more than willing to whore himself to a narrow-minded, small-souled group of religious, racist bigots. For votes. I wonder if he even cares that he has sold out everything that he ever professed to believe in when he was running for, first, Senator and later, Governor of Massachusetts. Or did he ever really believe it in the first place?

Here’s what he said in his news conference: “The embassy in Cairo put out a statement after their grounds had been breached, protesters were inside the grounds. They reiterated that statement after the breach. I think it's a -- a terrible course for America to stand in apology for our values. It's their administration," said Romney, referring to the embassy in Cairo. "Their administration spoke. The president takes responsibility not just for the words that come from his mouth but also from the words of his ambassadors, from his administration, from his embassies, from his State Department. They clearly sent mixed messages to the world. The statement that came from the administration - and the embassy is the administration - the statement that came from the administration was a statement which is akin to apology. And I think was a severe miscalculation."

Nope, it wasn’t a miscalculation on the administration’s part, honey. It was a complete and total miscalculation on YOUR part, fired by your desperate need to make people notice you and your opinions.

Gangers, I don’t know about y’all, but here’s what I think: This is NOT a man that I want answering the red phone at 3:00 AM.

Monday, August 20, 2012

WHEN STUPIDITY IS INEVITABLE . . .

I’ve heard a lot of politicians say some pretty stupid things in my time – but Todd Akin of Missouri really, REALLY takes the prize for stupidity.


In an interview that aired on Sunday, Representative Akin made what has GOT to be one of the stupidest, most misogynistic statements that I’ve ever heard (http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/the-fix/wp/2012/08/19/todd-akin-gop-senate-candidate-legitimate-rape-rarely-causes-pregnancy/). His statement, said in an interview airing Sunday that “legitimate rape” rarely causes pregnancy, is, frankly, beyond stupid. It’s egregious, it’s horrendous, and he is now reaping the reward that he so richly deserves, that of scorn, rage from women of all walks of life and disbelief. Off-the-cuff remarks, my ass. He was simply stating what he deeply believes, that only sluts get raped, and that rape rarely results in pregnancy anyhow, so why should there be legal abortions for the victims of rape to begin with?

His assertion that a woman’s body has ways to shut down and prevent pregnancy is all bullshit, not borne out by the FACTS. Fact is, if a woman is fertile, and a lot of times even when she isn’t, rape can and in about 35% of cases DOES result in pregnancy (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8765248). Now, admittedly, this is an old report, from 1996, but if even ONE unwanted, forced pregnancy results from an incident of forced intimacy, like rape, that’s at least a THOUSAND too many.

Regardless of anyone person’s position on abortion (and I am not an abortion proponent, but that’s a thought for another column), this crap is not something that should be part of the national debate on abortion. In point of fact, there shouldn’t BE a debate on abortion, since Roe v Wade is the law of the land, regardless of what the Republican Party and the ReThugs© that are running it nowadays think. I want somebody to explain to me what the difference is between “legitimate” rape and rape. Rape is the forcible physical penetration of an unwilling victim by a sexual predator, and it doesn’t matter whether the victim is a male or a female. The key word here is “forcible”. So, is this the thought process that all Republicans and Rethugs hold, or is this just the abberant thought process of one nasty man who doesn’t know what he’s talking about?

Well, let me make one thing crystal clear: Rape is not about sex, it’s about power. Period. Tell me, Mr. Akin, have *YOU* ever been forcibly penetrated? And, “If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.” REALLY? In what alternate universe does this happen?

I’ve been raped twice. Both times, it took extensive psychotherapy to deal with the shame and the fears that came with this, even if I was the victim. Used to be, if you reported a rape, the first words out of the cop’s mouth were “and just what were you doing to cause this?” Most women rarely reported rapes precisely because they couldn’t deal with the scorn, the shame and the notoriety of being that sort of victim. I can’t even begin to imagine what I would have done myself had I gotten pregnant from either rape.

Politicians and activists who espouse this view often suggest that women who haven’t been raped will claim to have been raped in order to obtain an abortion. An Idaho state lawmaker apologized earlier this year after urging doctors to make sure women who claimed they had been raped were sure of that fact. Representative Akin himself has suggested in the past that women may claim to be raped as a strategy during divorce proceedings. Needless to say, this is territory that GOP leaders would rather not have Representative Akin wander into. Getting into the particulars of “legitimate rape” (as opposed to what? ILLEGITIMATE rape? do they mean spousal rape? Incest? WHAT?) and the female reproductive system has the potential to make this a headache for the GOP.

GOSH, I hope that happens. Really.

What a completely contemptible person he is – and I’ve got to wonder just how he would react if one of his female family members had been raped and impregnated as the result. Would he cast them out as unclean? Insist that they bear the “child of shame”? What WOULD he do?

Representative Akin should look up Clayton Williams and his run for Governor in Texas back in the 1990 race. During the campaign, Williams publicly made a joke likening rape to bad weather, having quipped: “If it’s inevitable, just relax and enjoy it”. That remark cost him both the race and his would-be political career.

We’re all supposed to just sit back and, like most chuckle-headed Republican women, pretend that there isn’t a war on women and women’s rights going on right now in this country. Of all of the hard-won rights that we’ve got, access to abortion is one of the most divisive – and the most necessary. As I said, I personally don’t believe in abortion, but, damn it, I am NOT the person that has been divinely appointed to point the finger of shame at a scared 13 year old whose father has raped her and who is now pregnant with a child that she not only doesn’t want but whose conception can actually physically threaten her health, not to mention what it’s already done to her mind. Eugene Robinson had this to say about the subject (http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/eugene-robinson-todd-akin-comment-brings-war-on-women-back-to-prominence/2012/08/20/c4570fae-eafd-11e1-9ddc-340d5efb1e9c_story.html?wprss=rss_homepage):

“That “female body” line is not only a frightening glimpse at the dangerous nonsense rattling around inside the heads of some on the far, far right. It is also — in its sheer, befuddled, clueless anatomical ignorance — an illustration of why we need more women in public office. When Akin says “ways to try to shut that whole thing down,” what exactly does he mean? What does he envision happening inside that mysterious, unknowable realm? Is it sorcery? Witchcraft? Akin, by the way, is a member of the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology. I am not kidding.”

IDon't know about y'all, but I personally find that fact to be even more frightening than I do the fact that this contemptible male person thinks what he has said in public. He’s on the House Committee on SCIENCE? So where is he GETTING his science? And there’s more: less than week after he won the Republican nomination in a three-way race, Akin was being asked repeatedly by high-level fellow Republicans to drop out of the contest. And that’s despite his attempt to back away his initial comments. About the only good thing that’s come out of this horror is that both the Republican candidates for President and Vice-President have openly condemned his remarks. And they didn’t even have the courage to do it in person, either. Nope, they issued statements through their spokespeople. Unlike President Obama, they didn’t have the guts to come out against one of their own.

President Obama said today (http://news.yahoo.com/president-obama-calls-akin-comments-offensive-declares-rape-182741585–abc-news-politics.html):

"The views expressed were offensive. Rape is rape and the idea that we should be parsing and qualifying and slicing what types of rape we’re talking about doesn’t make sense to the American people and it certainly doesn’t make sense to me. What I think these comments do underscore is why we shouldn’t have a bunch of politicians, the majority of whom are men, making health care decisions on behalf of women.”

At this juncture, there is a huge outcry against Representative Akin. He’s being pressured at this point to get out of the race for Senator from Missouri. I hope that he does bow out of the race. And I also hope that he withers away as he deserves to, into a mean and dishonourable silence.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

I belong to a very interesting group on Linked In, and there’s been a discussion about religion, spirituality and christian belief systems on there that I have found to be absolutely fascinating.

I don't consider myself a religious person but rather a spiritual one. There have been more truly horrific things done in the name of "religion" than can be ennumerated here. The slave trade, for one, was justified by biblical quotations, and the same thing is going on today in the GLBT community.

I often have wondered how it is that people can justify hand-picking, often out of context, what they want FROM the Bible to justify whatever they want to bolster their own prejudices. It clearly states IN THE BIBLE: "There is no God". Of course, put it into context and use the entire quote, and it's entirely different: "The fool has said, there is no God."

The mainstream religions got into the business of religiousity and out of the art of spirituality a long time ago. Making religion a business brings both money and power which is of course the object of the exercise. Look, for example, at the R/C Church. I am not longer permitted to practice as a Roman Catholic because I'm a lesbian. According to Leviticus, I and my wife - to whom I am legally married IN THE STATE OF TEXAS - are fornicators, adulterers and abominations. Once again, hand-picking the scriptures/strictures that conform to the people in power's prejudices to justify oppression and exclusion. Old covenant vs New covenant - and which one do most mainstream religions follow? The one that brings them in the most money and power, of course. Check out Jim Jones and The Peoples' Temple.

This country was NOT founded on religious principles since most of the founding fathers were very careful public christians while their preferred POV was that of deists. This country was founded as a secular nation without a state religion, which is one reason the founding fathers set things up the way that they did. Otherwise, we wouldn't have the doctrine of separation.

This is something that I feel very strongly about. I (along with approximately 4 million OTHER Roman Catholics) was excommunicated from the church - for the "sin" of being GLBT. The word "sin" means an offense against god, which was the basis for their justification but if you have the premise that god is all-powerful and all-knowing, then his creations are neither sinful nor imperfect. We are as he made us. So, how is this a sin?

I have often been confronted with religious fundamentalists whose sole rationale is the Levitican stricures, and I have always asked them if they follow all of the strictures, and not just a few. For example, a person is supposed to walk a mile outside the city limits to dig a toilet pit. How many people do that these days? And just how long would it take somebody in, say, Houston, to get to the city limits, on foot? I can't think of any. Neither can I think of people that stone their children to death for said children being disrespectful.

Read the whole of Leviticus some time. It will give you nightmares. It does that to me.

Friday, July 20, 2012

“BECAUSE I FELT LIKE IT . . .”

I, like the rest of the world today, woke up to the sickening events in Aurora, Colorado. I lone gunman went to the movie opening of THE DARK KNIGHT RISES and shot up the theatre, killing 12 people and injuring 59 more. He wasn’t trying to commit “suicide by cop”, either – he surrendered without a fight. So, what’s the reasoning behind his actions?

Let me say at this point that I am a member of a group called PINK PISTOLS, which is a GLBT shooting club that is also a member of the NRA. I take my 2nd Amendment rights very seriously; the one recourse that all people of the United States have access to combat tyranny is the right to keep and bear arms. However, an armed citizenry and a RESPONSIBLE, well-educated citizenry are two separate things. Most people aren’t psychologically capable of shooting to wound or kill even in defense of their lives.

I know a lot of people that think that gun control laws in this country are too draconian and far too strict. They believe and often say that they should have the right to have any sort of gun that they want to have, up to and including automatic weapons with ammunition drums, to defend themselves from . . . whatever. A lot of the ill-informed also use those automatic weapons to hunt creatures like deer and so on. I won’t debate the merits of using an automatic weapon on an herbivore, since I bow-hunt. The fact remains that using an automatic weapon for anything other than its’ designed purpose is pretty stupid.

Check out what an automatic weapon is designed to do: Throw multiple rounds at a fast rate of speed at a designated target that is moving quickly. Well, that makes it OK to use for hunting, right? Wrong. An automatic weapon is designed for one purpose and one purpose only: to disable, wound or kill a very dangerous predator, another human being. That’s its’ only purpose. That is the rationale behind the armed services having such weapons. Even if a person armed with an automatic weapon doesn’t kill or wound the person or people that she/he is shooting at, just the sound of the weapon’s firing is enough to scare that person into taking cover.

Most people that have and use automatic weapons haven’t taken a gun safety course, they don’t know how to effectively use such a weapon, and, in most cases, they think that using the weapon means treating it like a garden hose and spraying the bullets around. Thus, we have the horrific massacres in places like Afghanistan, or Iraq, or Chechnya – or Aurora, Colorado.

It’s easy to squall and bawl about our 2nd Amendment rights – but what about our 2nd Amendment RESPONSIBILITIES? We have the right to keep and bear arms, and very few checks on who is allowed to buy and keep them. The only check required in most states is that licensed gun dealers must keep up-to-date records of their gun sales, including the name, address and occupation of the person to whom they sell the weapon and request a background check on anyone buying a gun. The NRA shrieked to high heaven when the Brady Bill requiring a 3 day waiting period and a background check became law – and that was just for HANDGUNS. Professor Paul Campos of the University of Colorado Law School had this to say about the tragedy (http://www.salon.com/topic/gun_control/page/2/): “Today, murder in Aurora, CO. is an interesting topic.”

Yup, I guess that you could characterize this as an “interesting topic.” Rep. Louis Gohmert of Texas had this to say about the tragedy (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/07/20/louie-gohmert-aurora-shootings_n_1689099.html?utm_hp_ref=mostpopular): “Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Texas) said Friday that the shootings that took place in an Aurora, Colo. movie theater hours earlier were a result of "ongoing attacks on Judeo-Christian beliefs" and questioned why nobody else in the theater had a gun to take down the shooter.”

What a chuckle-headed fool. If anybody else had had a gun, all that probably would have happened would have been that far MORE people would have gotten hurt and killed. Just because a person has the Constitutionally-protected RIGHT to keep and bear arms, DOES NOT MEAN that that person has the right to open fire in response to a perceived or real attack. That’s just like yelling “FIRE” in a crowded enclosure. More people are hurt and killed trying to get OUT of the enclosure.

And what about the shooter? What about HIS reasons for doing what he did?

I expect that he’s going to try and plead insanity, and what he did was certainly insane. By any definition of insanity, he was unbalanced to even contemplate what he eventually wound up doing. However, he planned what he did with immaculate precision. Apparently, from the early reports, he had been planning to do something like this ever since he dropped out of medical school in May. And, in my view at least, that makes him sane. I also expect that, when all is said and done, his reason is going to be something along the lines of “I felt like it”, or “because I could.”

How contemptible.

My heart goes out to the parents and families of those who died this day, and to those whose loved ones are still alive. I wish that there was something that I could do to mitigate their pain and sorrow. There isn’t – and there never will be.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

APARTHEID NATION?

Something that was discussed in great detail on Dr. Melissa Harris-Perry’s program yesterday was Attorney General Eric Holder’s speech to the NAACP convention held here in Houston this week past. He brought up some interesting points, which made me think. A lot.

With the advent of voter ID laws here in this country, we’re heading backwards on voters’ rights, according to Mr. Holder. Mandating that EVERYBODY has to have a valid photo ID of some sort, issued by the state in which that person is voting, Mr. Holder said, was like unto the reintroduction of poll tax laws. Me, I think that the situation is a lot worse than people realize. I think that we’re trying to institute apartheid into this country.

Here’s the Webster’s dictionary definition of apartheid:

a•part•heid ( ah-pärt heit )
n.

1. An official policy of racial segregation formerly practiced in the Republic of South Africa, involving political, legal, and economic discrimination against nonwhites.

2. A policy or practice of separating or segregating groups.

3. The condition of being separated from others; segregation.

And, here we go again. Backwards into the old-time abominable practice of Jim Crow laws and segregation.


Mr. Holder said Tuesday he opposes a new photo ID requirement in Texas elections because it would be harmful to minority voters; he also told the NAACP in Houston that he will do everything he can to make sure the law doesn’t stand, adding that the Justice Department “will not allow political pretexts to disenfranchise American citizens of their most precious right.” Under the law passed in Texas, Holder said that “many of those without IDs would have to travel great distances to get them — and some would struggle to pay for the documents they might need to obtain them. We call those poll taxes,” Mr. Holder added spontaneously, drawing applause as he moved away from the original text of his speech with a reference to a fee used in some Southern states after slavery’s abolition to disenfranchise black people.

Mr. Holder spoke a day after a trial started in federal court in Washington over the 2011 law passed by Texas’ GOP-dominated Legislature that requires voters to show photo identification when they get to the polls. Under Texas’ law, Holder noted, a concealed handgun license would serve as acceptable ID to vote, but a student ID would not. He went on to say that while only 8 percent of white people do not have government-issued photo IDs, about 25 percent of black people lack such identification.

“I don’t know what will happen as this case moves forward, but I can assure you that the Justice Department’s efforts to uphold and enforce voting rights will remain aggressive,” the attorney general said, adding that the arc of American history has always moved toward expanding the electorate and that “we will simply not allow this era to be the beginning of the reversal of that historic progress.”

“I will not allow that to happen,” he added.

OK, but I’m wondering just how he plans to stop it. Yeah, yeah – I know, we’ve got a Constitutional amendment saying that things like literacy tests and poll taxes aren’t legal any more, but, sheesh, people, this is happening right before our eyes, and we’re not doing anything to stop it for the most part.

I grew up in Texas during a time when there was segregated EVERYTHING: restrooms, lunch counters, drinking fountains, busses – you name it, we had it. Well, folks, South Africa had it too, for a long time, and it was finally gotten rid of, thanks to people like Nelson Mandela. There is still a lot of racism there, but eventually, through generational change, it will finally die almost completely out.
We had (and truth be known, still do have) our own version of apartheid here in this country, beginning after the Civil War. Couldn’t call the freedmen slaves any more, so they were called sharecroppers or tenant farmers, and they were herded into neighborhoods kept far, FAR away from the white people. There were/are 2 kinds of segregation, and what we see now and what is still endemic in this country is something called hypersegregation.

Hypersegregation is a form of racial segregation that consists of both unforced and forced geographical separation of racial groups. Most often, this occurs in cities where the residents of the inner city are African Americans and the suburbs surrounding this inner core are often white European American residents. The idea of hypersegregation gained credibility in 1989 largely due to the work of Douglas Massey and Nancy A. Denton and their studies of "American Apartheid" when whites created the black ghetto during the first half of the 20th century in order to isolate growing urban black populations by segregation among inner-city African-Americans. It has also been called “white flight” because the white people that lived in the inner cities ran like hell to get AWAY from the black people that were moving into their enclaves. There was a phrase that defined that era – and it’s as disgusting today as it was then: “Well, I don’t really have anything against n()s but I sure don’t want to live next door to them.”

It’s a vicious, vile practice. Know what’s the saddest thing about it? Racism and segregation are alive and well right here, RIGHT NOW, in this country.

Take a look around you, gangers, and tell me that what’s going on in this nation right now isn’t sickening. We have, for the first time, a black man in the highest office in the land. We have a smart, shrewd, thoughtful, well-educated BLACK MAN IN THE WHITE HOUSE. Black people had the temerity to actually VOTE for this man, and the white ReThugs have been trying to get rid of this uppity n() ever since. Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell has publicly stated too many times to count that the one and only thing that the Republican Party should be focused on is defeating Barack Obama. To that end, both the Senate and the House Republicans have stalled or defeated legislation all in the name of making sure that the President is a one-term President. What’s the best way to do that? Disenfranchise people that would vote for him.

We now have the resurgence of segregation by way of required voter IDs. Not only coming back into style, but actually being pushed by white people. Never mind that the Voting Rights Act says that this sort of crap is illegal, there are very inventive people finding very inventive ways to stop both old and new voter registration. The three worst states are Tennessee, Florida and Pennsylvania – and Texas isn’t far behind. Alabama has one, and Arizona, of course, has their “PAPERS, PLEASE” law in effect as well. Wisconsin has one, as does Mississippi. Add Indiana to the mix as well. Are you seeing a pattern here?

I didn’t expect anything better out of the Southern states than what’s been transpiring – but I honestly thought that the Northern states were a bit more intelligent.

This is being done, as the ReThugs will tell you, to stop voter fraud. Well, guess what? In the past 2 general elections, there have been less than 1000 case of voter fraud recorded in the entire country.THE ENTIRE COUNTRY. The Brennan Center for Justice has published two papers about this (http://www.truthaboutfraud.org/), and even the Republican Party has admitted that voter fraud isn’t as wide-spread – MAYBE – as they first thought.

We SO don’t need a return to the days of voter suppression. That’s just another form of institutionalized denial of rights. We no longer have organizations that are even willing to try and register voters. The League of Women Voters gave up on registering voters in Florida because some of them were arrested for it. We no longer have ACORN, thanks to the contemptible efforts of James O’Keefe and his corporate shills. So, what’s going to happen?

I don’t know. All I can do is put this up:

First They Came .... poem by Martin Niemöller

"In Germany they came first for the Communists, and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Communist. Then they came for the Jews, and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Jew. Then they came for the trade unionists, and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a trade unionist. Then they came for the Catholics, and I didn't speak up because I was a Protestant. Then they came for me, and by that time no one was left to speak up."

He wrote this while he was in Dachau.

Can’t happen here again? Think again, people. Think again.

THINK.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Yet ANOTHER thing I didn’t think I’d live long enough to see. . .

((QUICK NOTE: I just tried for the upmtiumth time to access this blog, and here it IS! YAY! I'm BAAAAAACK!!!!!!!!!!!!!!))


Let's face it, I am a news junkie. I watch all sorts of news/infortainment/opinion programs every day, and I've been increasingly distressed to see the news programs degenerating into infotainment, more and more slanted to reflect the host's prejudices, and rarely being newsworthy to boot.

Well, on July 9th, 2012, I was galvanized while watching HARDBALL (with Michael Smerconish subbing for Chris Matthews). It's the second time this month that something has happened that was newsworthy that literally made me cry. And, it's something that's been a very long time coming. On June 19. 2012, Mr. Alan Chambers of Exodus International, Inc., sent out a letter to his faithful followers announcing a new direction for the organization (read it here: http://alanchambers.org/defining-exodus-letter-from-alan-chambers-for-june-2012/) that has stridently embraced a "PRAY THE GAY AWAY" approach to "curing" homosexuality through reparative therapy. On July 9, he appeared on Chris Matthews' show and discussed this with substitute host Michael Smerconish.

He chose to do this because he had talked with Mr. Smerconish several times, beginning on Mr. Smerconish's radio program 3 years ago, defending Exodus International's stand on (AND USE OF) that most disgusting of practices, reparative therapy. The complete transcript of his remarks can be read here: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/48134422/ns/msnbc_tv-hardball_with_chris_matthews/t/hardball-chris-matthews-monday-july/

Mr. Chambers said: "Well, I want to be clear about what those changes are. The fact is, my life is still as it was when I was on your radio program three years ago, and I still hold to a biblical sexual ethic where homosexuality and other forms of sexuality are concerned. But what I think what’s changed for me is, really, the overemphasis on this issue in ways that we don’t emphasize other issues in the church. And specifically, with regards to reparative therapy, that so much of that type of technique and therapy is focused on changing attraction or changing temptation, when I don’t find that there’s a biblical reality that says people will necessarily change their temptations or change their struggles. So I want to be very, very clear about that."

Mr. Chambers also stated that he thought that "praying away the gay" was a lazy approach to a complex problem. He also stated that people that were practicing "reparative therapy" and promising a 100% cure were unrealistic.

No SHIT, Sherlock!

He admitted that he still has same-sex attractions but added that he was in love with his wife and that he didn't act on those cravings - and anyway, that his cravings were always for his wife - and that he was (and this was belligerently said) very much in love with his wife and that he had a very happy marriage. The difference, he also said, was that, while he still had the temptations, he didn't act on them.

In other words - and in my opinion - he didn't say much of anything that couldn't be interpreted as his trying to defend his own personal position on "reparative therapy" (which is that it works some of the time, on some people) but that just because somebody identifies as being GLBT, that God doesn't love them, or that they have no hope of Heaven. He also said that he believes that nurture is more important than nature in how a person is shaped, and who that person turns out to be, be it GLBT or straight.

Here's what I think - and I'm certainly not alone in this - is that Mr. Chambers and his contemptible organization have finally been defeated by the mountains of scientific evidence that we are indeed born with our sexual identities, and that trying to change the hard-wiring that we are born with is an exercise in futility. Of course, over the years, that philosophy of "pray the gay away" and the use of "reparative therapy" had made him and his organization a literal Grand Canyon full of cash. Some of that cash was used to help defeat Prop 8 in California, and to push the individual states' and the FedGov versions of DOMA. which defines marriage as the union of one man and one woman, and that GLBT people should never be allowed to marry because after all same-sex unions can't be fruitful and multiply as all people are called to do in the Bible.

Mr. Chambers, in other words, along with all the other so-called christian movements that deny us our civil rights, still believes in the Old Covenant with an angry, vengeful God. He is just going to stop trying to force people into a form that he and the others of his contemptible ilk think we should all fit into. He's trying to cover his and his organization's collective asses. Not only did Mr. Chambers allow, encourage and endorse reparative therapy, Exodus International allowed as well as encouraged its own staff to use personal stories to promote it and their organization. They all LUUUUUUUUUUUUUURVED the sinner, and hated the sin. I still haven't figured out how being a loving, kind, compassionate human being who loves somebody of her/his own sex is sinful. This is pure Old Testament nonsense.

Know what Jesus’ big bugaboo was? Count on it, it was NOT homosexuality. Nope, it was adultery and divorce.

Andy Comiskey of Desert Stream ministries, writing in his book “Pursuing Sexual Wholeness,” called homosexuality “spiritual disfigurement” and believes that “Satan delights in homosexual perversion because it not only exists outside of marriage, but it also defiles God’ very image reflected as male and female…Another related source of demonization is the homosexual relationship itself…That attachment and communion are indeed inspired, but their source is demonic.”

Demonic? REALLY?

However, that's not the worst thing that Exodus International has done. During the height of the AIDS crisis in the early 1908s and continuing through the 1990s, Exodus International purposely used scare tactics to recruit new clients. Fear is a great motivator, after all, and by using this abominable tactic and by subjecting terrified people to what amounted to then, and still amounts to today, public humiliation and private torture. There are a lot of GLBT people that went through the "reparative therapy" process more than once - and some of them wound up dead by their own hands, when they couldn't get rid of their temptations and cravings, as they had been promised would happen if they just prayed enough, were celibate or in a heterosexual relationship no matter how much they hated it.

If there was ever an organization that should be called a domestic terrorist organization, all of the groups that pushed "reparative therapy" should be labeled as such and prosecuted. Unfortunately, that isn't going to happen. We - and by "we" I mean everybody that finds this sort of thing completely repugnant - should never forget Exodus International's past, or that, no matter what they are saying now, they are leopards that aren't changing their spots, just their rhetoric. There is no way that Alan Chambers should be allowed to cover up Exodus International’s harmful and in a good many cases lethal history of the use of fear, intimidation, brain washing, and anti-gay propaganda since it was founded in 1976.

As I said when our first Black President was elected, I never thought that I'd live long enough to see that day. Now, here's another thing that I never thought I'd live long enough to see: A fundamentalist christian group finally admitting that they were wrong in forcing people to pretend to change, in the name of Christ and for the power of the almighty dollar.

Let's hope that this finally spells the end of that thoroughly debunked method of torture, 'reparative therapy".

Sunday, July 8, 2012

You Must Have an Agent . . . or Not

You Must Have an Agent . . . or Not

Another excellent post from The Passve Guy's blog. Please read and enjoy!

I am HOPING that, one of these days, I will be able to access my blog here again and without posting somebody else's posts. Until then, I've got 2 new blogs up on Word Press: The Thorny Question, and Wilma's Musings.

I HOPE that Google is going to be able to fix the problem - but until then, I'm still on Facebook (Wilma Howe Bennett) and on Word Press (cherose228).

Thank you all for the loyalty that you've shown me over the time I've been posting.

Regards to you all,

Wils

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Is the Stigma of Self-Publishing Finally Gone?

Is the Stigma of Self-Publishing Finally Gone?

I found this MOST excellent article in my Inbox - all thanks to Passive Guy for sharing it. It is timely and thought-provoking.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

WEASELS OF THE WEEK, APRIL EDITION

It’s been a while since I did a WEASELS column, and, after watching the nightly news programs that I enjoy, I thought it was about time to do another one. Understand, I don’t have as strong a stomach as I used to have in regards to the political nonsense that’s going on lately. I’m removing Rick Santorum from this list, principally because, while I thought – and still DO think – that the man is a wild-eyed Eisenhowerian idiot as well as a racially insensitive and homophobic bigot, he’s got enough troubles in his life right now. I pity both of the Santorums with my whole heart. It’s not easy having a special needs child in your life (as I know all too well, having a couple of kiddos that have them) but to have one with the problems that Isabella has, and to know in advance that she’s not going to live for very long is something that I wouldn’t wish off on my very worst enemy on the longest day that I live. Goddess Bless you all, Santorum family.

OK, on to the weasels.

WEASEL OF THE WEEK, #1: As usual, Willard “Mitt” Romney. Le SIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIGH. I don’t think that I really need to go into detail here other than to say that he’s NOT going to be crowned KingOfTheUnitedStates if he actually does secure the nomination, regardless of what he thinks. If, that is, he DOES think.

WEASEL OF THE WEEK, #2: Rick “GovGoodHair” Perry. Again, le SIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIGH. What with his stupid insistence on trashing women’s health care here in Texas, need I say more? The only person that’s going to be surprized when he is defeated in his next race for governor is going to be: RICK PERRY. Pissing on women’s issues is not exactly a smart thing to do. Tends to piss off the women – and, dear GovGoodHair, we DO vote and we DO care about getting f’ed over by men.


WEASEL OF THE WEEK, #3: Allen “CrazyMan” West. From the Daily Inquisitor (http://www.inquisitr.com/218423/allen-west-calls-80-house-democrats-communists-then-he-rants-like-a-lunatic/): Rep. Allen West apparently wants to be the 21st century version of Joe McCarthy, telling nearly 100 visitors at a town hall event in Florida on Tuesday night that he recently “heard” that 80 House Democrats are actually members of the Communist Party. What I find disturbing, to put it mildly, is here is a man that served in the Army for 20+ years, and only reached the rank of Lt. Colonel. From his biography in Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Allen_West_(politician), Col. West elected to retire after an investigation of his conduct during the interrogation of a detainee in Taji, Iraq. “elected to retire” is militaryspeak for “resign or be prosecuted”. And now, he’s seeing Commies in the Progressive Democratic Caucus? Puh-LEEEEEEEEEEZE, give me a break. My only question is just how long he’s going to be a representative!

WEASEL OF THE WEEK, #4: Al Gore and Joel Hyatt of CURRENT TV. I followed Keith Olbermann over to CURRENT TV when these folks hired him for a number of reasons. I liked what he had to say, and, while I thought that he went a lot over the top in his opinions, at least he wasn’t afraid to HAVE opinions and express them. I loved the “Fridays with Thurber” segments, and I liked the way that he poked holes in peoples’ pretensions. If I thought that, sometimes, he should have shut the F up, on balance he was about as objective a person as could be wished for. Unfortunately, CURRENT TV, while it really is trying to be a serious competitor in the overly crowded cable news biz, isn’t exactly doing a great job. I was really happy to see Jennifer Granholm and Cenk Uygar added to the line-up; I’ve watched them both and thought that they both were interesting people. Unfortunately, and ultimately, both of them are pretty boring. Replacing Keith Olbermann with Eliot Spitzer is a big mistake. I like Governor Spitzer, don’t get me wrong, just as I like Governor Granholm and Mr. Uygar. It’s just, well, a little of them all goes a very long way. Basically, they’re all pretty boring.

WEASEL OF THE YEAR (NO contest): George Zimmerman. Period. No matter what political follies we get in this country, this man – or rather, this person of the male persuasion – committed an act of murder. He’s been charged with murder in the second degree, which means that the death penalty is off the table. Regardless of whether or not he is actually convicted in the legal sense of the word doesn’t really matter at this point. Yes, I can hear you all now: “WHAAAAAAAAAAAAT?????????? It does TOO matter”. No, it doesn’t. Regardless of the outcome of his trial, he is going to have to live with the fact of his having killed someone who wasn’t guilty of anything other than walking down the street, being black. He’s going to have to live with that for the rest of his life, which I honestly don’t think is going to be either long or happy. If he is convicted, he’s going to spend his time in prison in either AdSeg or SuperSeg because if he were to be placed in general population, he’d live only as long as somebody in one of the black gangs didn’t recognize him.

Going to be a fun year for politics, folks! Please remember also to keep Mr. Martin and Mrs. Fulton, Trayvon Martin’s parents, in your thoughts and prayers.



WHAT, EXACTLY, IS INTEGRITY?

WonderWife is looking for a job. Again. So, here we go on the roller-coaster of the employment search. So far, 5 replies, 4 phone interviews – and, HOPEFULLY, a new job quick. With the skill set that she’s got now (she passed her Certified Weld Inspector testing a couple of months ago), she shouldn’t be out of work for very long.

Why is she unemployed? That’s an interesting story, actually, and it begins and ends with her personal ethicality and her personal integrity. The dictionary definition of integrity according to Webster’s Dictionary is interesting as well (http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/integrity). To wit:


1: firm adherence to a code of especially moral or artistic values: incorruptibility

2: an unimpaired condition: soundness

3: the quality or state of being complete or undivided: completeness

Last Friday, she was ordered to sign off on something that wasn’t right. Structurally, it passed a cursory examination, and probably wouldn’t have split or caused problems. It wasn’t QUITE up to specs, but it was close enough. Trouble was, it was a piece of drill stem with a marginal weld that was going out to an offshore oilfield to be placed in a deep-water/deep-drilled well (anybody out there remember the Deep Water HORIZON?). She refused to sign off on the piece of pipe; when she was told “do it OR ELSE”, she quit. Walked away from a very well-paying job with benefits on a point of principle. No, she didn’t ask me if it was OK if she did this. She didn’t need to. She knew that I’d back her decision even if it means we were going to be having a bit of a hard time until she found another job. Y’see, my wife has personal ethics and personal integrity.

She had the integrity to refuse to compromise on matters of principle as it related to her job. She has always had this. Has it made her life hard? Yes, it has. There aren’t very many people out there that would do something like this. That’s why I love her so much. She cares now and has always cared, throughout her life, to do what’s right, even if it costs her, sometimes, more than she can afford to lose. Kinda reminds me, in a lot of ways, of the speech that the fake President made at the end of DAVE. You remember, the line where he says that he ought to care more about doing what’s right than doing what’s popular, and that he should be willing give it all up if he doesn’t do that. If he isn’t, then maybe he doesn’t deserve the job in the first place.

I have been following the Republican electoral process with a great deal of interest, because of three men that were in the race (and who now are not, for various reasons). These three men were all men of principle and personal ethics. They weren’t liars or prevaricators. They were honest and honourable men. Even if I found some of their positions to be, well, extreme and Eisenhowerian (Rick Santorum) or fairly chuckle-headed in some ways (John Huntsman), or just plain incomprehensible in this day and age (Gary Johnson), still, they all had the integrity to state their positions and stand by them. Unfortunately, their principles and honesty didn’t get them very far.

I hope that whatever company hires WonderWife appreciates her integrity. I’m proud of her.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

IN THE DEATH OF A CHILD – PART 2

I, as the rest of the world, have been both shocked and horrified at the murder of Trayvon Martin, and the lies and (apparently) callous indifference to his fate. I honestly thought that the worst of this abominable story was behind us – and I was wrong.

Wrong, WRONG, WRONG.

It’s taken me some time to digest the newest revelations in this agonizing story. I’m still trying to deal with them – and if I’M having a hard time, I cannot imagine what Mrs. Fulton and Mr. Martin, the child’s parents, are going through. Bad enough that their child is dead and in such a horrific fashion. Worse, that his body was dumped into the morgue as a “JOHN DOE” and subjected to all sorts of testing for drugs and alcohol. Worse still, that the man who racially profiled him, stalked him, and, basically, hunted him down as if he were a rabid animal, is still unarrested, uncharged, and free to walk the streets. Worst of all is the video of Mr. Zimmerman being taken through the police garage to his “questioning”.

I don’t normally watch the national news at dinner time. I have a hard enough time forcing myself to eat these days without the added aggravation of listening to pundits and reporters bleating on and on about things that are guaranteed to both ruin your appetite and raise your blood pressure. So, I missed the original broadcast on ABC News of the video of Mr. Zimmerman being walked through the police garage. I did see it on Ed Schultzs’ show, and I was appalled. There is no sign of any injury to Mr. Zimmerman’s head, there is no sign of any injury to his face, there is no visible blood on his shirt (which is tucked in – which it wouldn’t be IF there had been the titanic struggle that he claims there was), he and the police officers seem to be having quite a cordial conversation, his body language shows NO stressfulness – in short, he seems to be relaxed, clean and not worried at all about what’s going on.

What’s even more egregious than Mr. Joe Oliver, Mr. Zimmerman’s supposed friend, saying that Mr. Zimmerman has been diagnosed with PTSD, clinical depression (plus crying himself to sleep every night because of his actions, although I don’t know how Mr. Oliver would be in a position to have actually witnessed that) is Mr. Zimmerman’s father going on television this evening and saying that his son told HIM that an unarmed 17 year old teen saw the gun, and told Mr. Zimmerman that he (Mr. Zimmerman) was going to “die tonight”. I’m sure that Mr. Zimmerman actually did say that – and I’m equally sure that he might actually believe it. I don’t believe it for a minute. Unless the child was so high on something that he was actually physically flying through the air, he would neither have attacked a man with a gun, nor would he have threatened the same man. Run like hell’s hounds were on his trail? You bet. Challenge him? A large male person with a large gun? NOT A CHANCE.

I don’t think that I would want to be living in George Zimmerman’s head right about now.

There are now two families that have been torn to pieces by Mr. Zimmerman’s actions. The family of Trayvon Martin, and the family of George Zimmerman. OF COURSE, Mr. Zimmerman’s father is going to do whatever he thinks is possible to save his child from the consequences of his actions. It’s unfortunate, to put it mildly, that Mrs. Fulton and Mr. Martin don’t have quite the same options that Mr. Zimmerman’s father does. His child is still alive.

Their child is dead.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

IN THE DEATH OF A CHILD

I haven’t been writing much lately, mostly because it’s springtime and the dad-ratted disease that’s been living with me for the last 8 years always flares up around this time and robs me of a lot of energy. It’s hateful that I can’t overcome this STUPID disease more readily, but then, that’s the nature of chronic, terminal diseases. They eat you up alive.

Along with the flare-up, I’ve been hovering between hysterical laughter and deep-rooted nausea at the sheer, overwhelming number of amounts of BS that have been being propagated by the “orthodox” wing of the ReThugnican Party (in the form of Willard “Mitt” Romney, the world’s BEST lubricated Etch-a-Sketch weathervane”), the Religious Reichians© (in the form of Rick “Man on Dog, and oh, incidentally, I HATE women” Santorum), the sheer lunacy of the Tea Party “patriots” (in the form of Newt “GRINCH” Gingrich) and the absolute and complete stupidities that are being thrown out by the Libertarian Party (in the form of Dr. Ron “I don’t like ANYBODY that isn’t rich, white and male” Paul). None of them are – IN MY HUMBLE OPINION – qualified to be appointed city dog-catcher, much less be elected to be POTUS, but that’s a thought for another column.

One week ago, I, like just about everyone else who first heard the story, was sickened, horrified and savagely saddened by the story of the murder (yes, let’s call it what it is) of a 17 year old child by a self-appointed neighborhood watch person. Any story of this kind is horrifying, and when it’s the sort of story that this one has turned out to be, sickening. One 220+ lb. 28 year old man with a gun, against one 140 lb. 17 year old child with a box of candy and a can of tea. The 28 year old man in essence stalked the 17 year old, confronted him, had some sort of scuffle with him, and shot him dead. The child’s crime? Walking while black, after dark in a gated community.

What’s worse, and there is worse to come, in this sickening story is that the police listened to the 28 year old man’s tale of what he perceived as an immanent threat to his life as the excuse as to why he was stalking this kid. At the time, he was talking to the 911 dispatcher, who clearly told him at least twice NOT to either follow or confront the child. The worst part of this story is that the police didn’t even bother to try and find out who the child was, and only bothered to talk to the child’s parents AFTER the father filed a missing persons report. The child had been missing for three days at that point. THREE DAYS. I cannot imagine what his parents went through in those long, fearful three days. And then to be casually told by the police AFTER the missing persons report had been filed that their son was dead, had been dead for three days, and had been lying on a steel table in the morgue because none of them cared enough to even pick up the child’s phone and call the last number dialed to find out WHO the child was, argues a degree of both contempt and indifference that absolutely boggles the imagination.

Today, the police chief on whose watch this crime occurred temporarily stepped aside. The Justice Department is now involved, both because of the parents’ pleas and the pleas of the mayor and the city manager of Sanford, Florida. The national news media, starting with the Reverend Al Sharpton and going forward through all of the rest of the reporters, is involved. This is a very good thing. Too often, this sort of injustice gets overlooked, swept under the rug, ignored, what have you. Mostly this is because there is so much nastiness going on in the world nowadays that the policing agencies are completely overwhelmed with all sorts of crime, and they can only work on the worst cases. This, however, is a case that should never have been overlooked or relegated to the status that it was relegated to.

A self-appointed neighborhood watch captain, in complete defiance of neighborhood watch programs guidelines, was out “patrolling” while armed. NO neighborhood watch program allows its members to be armed, since a neighborhood watch program is chartered to be just that: a WATCH program. Yes, I’ve been involved with several neighborhood watch programs, and this is the one stricture that is an unbreakable part of the charter. You DO NOT go out armed. PERIOD. You are there to observe and report only. You are not a police officer. You do not have powers of detainment or arrest. You do not follow the code of criminal procedures or the penal code. You OBSERVE and REPORT suspicious behaviours to the proper policing agency, even if that means calling the dispatcher 50 times a month. Even more cogently, you DO NOT regard yourself as or act as if you are either the Lone Ranger or SuperCop, because you are neither.

Apparently, the neighborhood that the self-appointed vigilante was patrolling was prepared to turn a blind eye to this person’s shenanigans because he was useful. And so, he was allowed to go on about his self-appointed duties without check until he finally managed to do the one thing that he really wanted to do. He confronted a teen-aged boy, and he murdered him. There’s a Florida law that covers that, and here are the key provisions: The Florida law is a self-defense, self-protection law with four key components (http://www.cfif.org/htdocs/freedomline/current/in_our_opinion/florida-self-defense-law.htm.):

1) It establishes that law-abiding residents and visitors may legally presume the threat of bodily harm or death from anyone who breaks into a residence or occupied vehicle and may use defensive force, including deadly force, against the intruder.

2) In any other place where a person “has a right to be,” that person has “no duty to retreat” if attacked and may “meet force with force, including deadly force if he or she reasonably believes it is necessary to do so to prevent death or great bodily harm to himself or herself or another to prevent the commission of a forcible felony.”

3) In either case, a person using any force permitted by the law is immune from criminal prosecution or civil action and cannot be arrested unless a law enforcement agency determines there is probable cause that the force used was unlawful.

4) If a civil action is brought and the court finds the defendant to be immune based on the parameters of the law, the defendant will be awarded all costs of defense.

This is the law that the self-appointed neighborhood watch person is hiding behind. I pity George Zimmerman, the self-appointed guardian of the peoples’ safety, with my whole heart. He committed an act of murder, no matter what circumstances he thought he was in. He killed, in cold blood, a 17 year old black teen-ager whose only sin was walking while black. The Sanford police basically took his word for what happened. He wasn’t drug-tested, he wasn’t arrested, he wasn’t charged – and he’s probably going to get away with the murder. Except, of course, he’s going to have to live with the consequences of his deed. I can’t think of a worse prison to be confined to – or a more fitting punishment. He’s going to have to live with the consequences of killing, in cold blood, a child whose only sin was that he was a teen-ager who objected to being followed and harassed because he was black.

Trayvan Martin and all of the Trayvan Martins of this world deserve better than that. His parents are going to have to live the rest of their lives without their child. Worse, they will also have to live with the knowledge that the police of their community cared so little for the death of just one more black male child that they didn’t even bother to check his cell phone and call the last number dialed to identify him. Instead, they left his body on a steel table in a morgue and didn’t even bother to follow up until his father filed a missing persons report.

Somehow, the police chief saying “I’m sorry” just doesn't make it right.