Saturday, December 06, 2014

Seasons of Hope....

I woke up to see a brilliant sunny and cold day here in London. It is one of those early Winter days were the sunlight has that particular Northern Hemisphere winter gold tinge to it.  No snow here in the UK yet , but they say our first dusting could come as early as mid week.  So I was feeling pretty good. 

Then I saw the news from back in Northern California...
(via Joemygod)

Ronin Shimizu, a former student at Folsom Middle School in Folsom, California, took his life on Wednesday afternoon but police are not releasing any further details about his death.

The school district has confirmed that the boy's parents, who also have a younger son, complained on multiple occasions that he was being bullied and officials said that they followed protocol. But friends say that the taunting continued. He recently left Folsom Middle School to be home schooled. 

On Thursday night, friends and their parents gathered outside the Shimizu home to hold a quiet candle light vigil. "I heard that people called him gay because he was a cheerleader," one of his teammates told CBS Sacramento at the vigil. Ronin was the only male cheerleader with the Vista Junior Eagles Cheer Team.   



 Daniel Thigpen with the Folsom Cordova School District said that officials were looking into the complaints made by the boy's family. "Any allegations of bullying related to this specific incident, we're certainly reviewing how we responded to those and we'll use that as an opportunity to always take a look at how we respond to future allegations," he said. Grief counselors are at the school to help students and staff. The Vista Jr Eagles, the team Ronin had cheered for, also released a statement as they shared photos of the young, grinning boy in his cheer uniform.

Let's state up front, this is not going to be a calm and pleasant posting.

It is time for somebody to go to jail.

I want to see  the officials of that school district  charged.  Criminally charged  with negligent homicide.    There seems to be this idea in the United States that middle school,  (or as I knew it. "Jr. High"), is supposed to be hellish.   It is seen by many as a given fact.   When I went to  middle school,  there were teachers who honesty viewed students, tormenting each other,  as some sort of sick, twisted "rite of passage" that was supposed to happen.

On the nutjob insane "Evangelical Right"   in the United States,  attempts  to prevent tragedies like this one are opposed as "attacks on religious freedom."  Klu Klux Klan alumni and global hate monger Tony Perkins,  all but loses his mind if a school district tries to implement anti-harassment / bullying programs.    Yet you can bet all the money you have and more, that his Theo-facist hate group,  the "Family Research Council" will be stone silent  on the death of this young man.  

These bigots are killing children.   They belong in Prison.  This isn't  "defending religion",  it's committing faith-based murder by proxy.

Earlier this week,  an Arizona pastor made  headlines after claiming that "we can have an AIDS-free world by Christmas" if gays were  executed".

The Huffington Post  reports that Pastor Steven Anderson, who runs Tempe's Faithful Word Baptist Church, made the shocking claims during a sermon delivered Nov. 30.   Arguing that members of the gay community are "filled with disease because of the judgement of God," Anderson said, "Anybody who's a homo or bi -- it's all the same category -- sodomite is what the Bible would call them."

Citing Leviticus 18:22, he then added, "It was right there in the Bible all along ... It's curable right there... if you executed the homos like God recommends, you wouldn't have all this AIDS running rampant."

In the wake of major victories for LGBT rights, bigots like Perkins and Anderson have just  stopped filtering.  They are now openly advocating for the death of  LGBT people.

We find ourselves this month, in the season of Advent.  That part of the liturgical calendar that precedes Christmas.  It is hailed as a season of expectation, preparation and hope.   In Christian churches around the world, the four weeks leading up to Christmas, each marked by a candle on Advent wreaths, symbolize the hope that we are not simply adrift in the sea of life.   That we have a very real relationship with  the source of that life.   Immanuel - God With Us.

As a person of faith , I have always taken great comfort from that.   Yet I will be honest with you and confess I don't feel hopeful or comforted today.    I don't feel expectant, nor do I feel the presence of  the peace which defies all understanding.   Today I am not feeling any of these things. 

What I feel today  is anger.   I feel rage and yes , even hatred.   Right now I don't want peace on earth.   I want the people who allowed the torture and death of 12 year old Ronin,  and the countless others like him, to suffer... a lot.   I want  Tony Perkins , and those  like him,  who actively encourage that torture, to  suffer in as dark,  lonely and terrified a manner as he, and those like him have driven children like Ronan to.

I am past wanting peace, justice and understanding.  I want vengeance.  Old Testament, wrath of God, fire and brimstone vengeance.   I want those who hurt Ronin and who revel in hurting others who,  in their small twisted view have committed the great sin of simply being different , to lose everything they hold dear.  I want karma  to be a sword that strikes these bigots down in as messy and painful a way as possible.    And I  want to revel, and even rejoice in their pain.

So yes,  I guess in this Season of Advent I am hopeful.   I hope that the blasphemous, murdering bigots of the Family Research Council,  Focus on the 'Family', the National Organization for Marriage,  and all the other assorted Nazi shit-stains that lurk in their shadows,  will feel even a fraction of the pain, misery and death they joyfully incite others to inflict  on kids like Ronin Shimizu.

Yeah I know... so much for goodwill toward men,  right?

I guess the reason  I am just so angry right now , is  because  I wish I could have talked to Ronin.   I wish I could have told him that life was so much bigger than Junior High, and it truly was going to get better.  I wish I could  have told him about the 12 year old kid  in Sun Prairie Wisconsin  who hated sports,  loved theatre  and politics  and was constantly aware of just how different he was from other kids, and  how those differences were at the time, utterly terrifying.  Especially in a school where the absolute last thing you ever wanted to be was... different. 

I wish I could have told him that he would survive  Middle School "guidance counsellors"  who are useless.  I wish I could reassure him that he would  survive insecure  kids who saw attacking him as a cheap way to make them selves feel better about who they were.  I wish I could have told him that  one day he would leave behind lazy teachers who turned a blind eye,  or even worse felt  that his pain was somehow "good for him".

But I can't tell Ronin that, no one can,  because he is dead.  Dead at the hands of the people in the very place where he should have been safe, and where he should have been  valued the most.  His own community.

I really don't have a point to make here.   Other than this madness has to stop.  If you are so moved. I urge you to support  those who are working to help bring about that change.

The Trevor Project - http://www.thetrevorproject.org

The Stand Up Foundation - http://www.standupfoundation.com/

The Give a Damn Campaign - http://www.wegiveadamn.org/

The Human Rights Campaign - http://www.hrc.org/

The It Gets Better Project - http://www.itgetsbetter.org/

Thursday, December 04, 2014

Hollywood's Predictions vs. Reality...

32 Years ago, in 1982,  Ridley Scott's  ground breaking Sci-Fi movie. "Bladerunner" painted a stunning vision  of what Los Angeles might look like in 2019...



So  LA,  you've got 5 years to sort  that whole flying police car thing out....

Ok,   so aside from a lack of flying cars,  thick toxic smog, and  huge Chinese digital billboards,  Los Angeles in 2014 does look sort of  "bladerunner-ish".



 

Monday, November 03, 2014

Wisconsin's Moment of Decision....

Many of my friends are shocked  when they learn that I,  used to be a Republican.  How could I,  a good progressive Gay man ever have been a member of the GOP?    The answer is found in a conversation I had  one afternoon when I was thirteen years old.

 I was attending an event hosted at Vilas Hall, on the University of Wisconsin Madison Campus.    The event was to promote a media literacy and education  organization I was heavily involved with at the time    Like many such events I attended, I spoke fairly early in the program and was the youngest speaker. I would then have to sit there while speaker after speaker began to blur together and my 13 year old mind began to wander. Realizing. I was in danger of nodding off, I quietly excused myself, and  ducked out into the adjacent "green room" to get a drink of water.

As I walked into the lounge area I heard the sound of a Television, and saw an older gentleman sitting on the couch watching the University of Wisconsin Football game. With his curly white hair and trademark red vest, I instantly recognized former Wisconsin Governor Lee Sherman Dreyfus. I had met Governor Dreyfus a few times previously and was fiends with his daughter Susan. With whom I worked with on media literacy and education projects.

 He saw me, motioned me over (remembered my name), and cheerfully announced that the Badgers were up by 7. I sat down next to him, and we watched game for a few minutes in companionable silence. He then turned to me and asked me how I was doing. I. talked briefly about the Media education project I was there to help promote.

Then I got up my courage and asked if I could ask him a personal question. Governor Dreyfus smiled and said; "So is this an interview Dave?". I assured him we were off the record, he laughed and gestured for me continue.   "Why did you want to be Governor?", I asked. Dreyfus had recently finished a very successful term, then not run for re-election. A move that had surprised most, and frustrated many inside the Wisconsin Republican Party, as the conventional wisdom was, had he run again, he would have won re-election. Quite easily.

Looking back at the television to check the score, he reached over and turned the sound down  and then asked me if I had ever noticed  the murals in the rotunda of the. State Capitol building, just a few a blocks away.      I proudly replied that I had,  and eager to demonstrate my knowledge, rattled off the names of the four murals that form the base of the rotunda.   Government,  Justice, Legislation, and Liberty. 

The former Governor of my home state then went on to give me the best civics lesson I have ever had. He explained that he had benefited from the education system and professional and economic opportunities that living in Wisconsin had provided. Consequently he felt an obligation to "do his part" to ensure that those opportunities and advantages he had enjoyed,  were protected and expanded.    

He went on to say that our system  was set up to make that possible.   The executive branch (Government)  worked with the Legislature and the State Senate  to craft and pass the laws (Legislation) that were then interpreted by the courts (Justice).  Combined, this system of checks, balances and cooperation between all three entities,  ensured freedom and opportunity for everyone (Liberty).    

It was at this point his daughter poked her head into the room and chided us both for. "hiding out" and said we should re-join the event next door.   I shook Governor Dreyfus' hand and thanked him for taking the time to talk with  me.   "My pleasure Dave", he said, and we went back into the next room. 

It would be a conversation that would stay with me for years, and it was that day that at the ripe old age of 13,  I. decided that I , like  Lee Dreyfus,  was Republican.   I would join the Young  Republicans campaigning for Ronald Regan in 1984,  and two years later,  I would cast my first vote.  While a student in Germany in 1986, I proudly walked into the. American Consulate in Munich,  filled out my absentee ballot and cast my first ever vote,  for Republican Tommy Thompson for Wisconsin Governor.  

I would go in to become an active member and officer of the College Republicans,  even chairing the CR election efforts on campus for. Bush-Quayle '88 and '92.  My reasons were clear.   It was a Republican who had showed me the power of our system of government to make the lives of Americans better,  and by extension,  the world a better and safer place. 

So what happened?   Why did I leave the GOP?    The most concise way to answer that question to simply say the. GOP left me.   Or more accurately the GOP left me, Lee Dreyfus, Tommy Thompson, George HW Bush, Bob Dole and yes,  even left Ronald Reagan.


Wisconsin was the birthplace of the Republican Party.   I used live in the town of Ripon Wisconsin, and would regularly go past the landmark where the GOP had its creation.  The Republican Party on the ballot tomorrow in Wisconsin bears no resemblance to the that party.  Let alone party of Lee Dreyfus.  

The Party of Scott Walker  sees our great system of cooperative branches of government, with its checks and balance, as an obstacle not an asset.  Scott Walker is a man who serves a small select group of  corporate and financial interests. The people of the great state of Wisconsin,  are at best a nuisance to be tolerated,  and in truth,  often seen as a threat to the  agenda those interests have tasked Walker to deliver for them. 

The Republican Party is addicted crazy.  It has embraced the darker politics of division and fear in place of  faith in our system and public service to our citizens.    Like many addicts, the  Wisconsin Republican Party, and by extension the GOP as a national party,  doesn't want to get better.  The only way for the GOP to stop digging the deep  dank dark hole  it as been wallowing in since 1992,  is to finally hit rock bottom.

This isn't just an election.  It's an intervention.    For  the GOP,  it's time for tough love.  A vote for Scott Walker  and the GOP is a vote  to return to 50 million Americans with out access to health insurance.  It is to turn the stunning natural beauty of the state of  Wisconsin into a strip mined, fracked toxic wasteland  where water catches fire when it comes out of the Tap.

A vote for Scott Walker is to hand the public purse over the  Koch Brothers, and then gut public education and  services to  pay  their bar tab.  It is to sacrifice Wisconsin's place as American's Dairy Land in favour of becoming the. Mississippi of the North.  An under-educated, under-employed, over polluted gilded swamp of the very very rich,  the very very poor and nothing in between.

Tea Party activists like to scream about how they "want their country back", which is nothing more than code for not wanting a black man in Oval Office.   Well I want  my Party back.  I want  a Republican Party that  believes in the synergy of Government, Justice , Legislation  and Liberty.

It;s time  to give the GOP a time out.   It's for the people of Wisconsin to step up and save the Republican Party.   How?  By voting  for Mary Burke,  and voting for the Democratic Party.  

 

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Glimpses of a Previous Life....

The  recent  court victories in the United States have made this year's  National Coming Out Day something of a celebration in many parts of the U.S 

Now more than 60% of Americans live in a state that has equal rights for same sex couples.  Now the number of states that don't discriminate outnumber those states that  are still trying to cling to bigotry.   

Recently  we went out with friends here in in London and saw the brilliant movie "Pride".  It tells the story of the unlikely alliance between striking British coal miners in the 1980's and the LGBT community.



As  heart warming  a film as it is, (and one I highly recommend you go see), the film also does a remarkable job recreating the feel of the. LGBT community in the early 1980's.   Of course, by that I mean the fear, many LGBT people felt everyday back in early 1980's.  A time when gay bashings, even in places like  in central London were a common occurrence, rarely if ever investigated by police..  When in many places, just  being, "out" was literally risking your life.

It was a look back in time that was more than a little unsettling.   Yet at the same time a very real affirmation of just  how far  things have come.    Which   has prompted me to once again,  revisit  and update one of first blog entries I ever wrote, back in  October, 2006.


I was bouncing around the web and stumbled on zabasearch.com. It is a site than helps you locate addresses of people. So out of curiosity I typed in the name of my best friend from High School. Sure enough a result for his name came up. Not sure if it was the right person rather than call, I sent a note with my business card attached saying, if this was who I thought it was, to please write back.

A couple of weeks went by... and I forgot about it. I honestly didn't expect to hear anything back. Then I got an email and it was indeed from him. It is an interesting experience in a way. I really have not heard from him since I attended his wedding.
 
At the time I really envied him. He and his wife  were starting to build a life.   Now has an amazing  son with a  brilliant daughter.    In his note, he said it was amazing to hear from me couldn't wait to hear all about what I have been doing over the past few years.

I will confess, at the time I had very  mixed feelings about that.

For the most part, I hadn't kept in touch with anyone from my High School days. Don't get me wrong, I enjoyed High School, had great friends and good memories. Yet it really was a whole different life. Like many LGBT kids in the mid to late 80's I was closeted and terrified of coming out. On some level every day had some undercurrent of fear of my "secret" being discovered. The ultimate put-down was to say something was "gay" or to be called a "fag". You saw the kids who were even slightly effeminate or "different" getting tormented on a daily basis.

So you kept your mouth shut and your eyes closed. When you watched those 80's brat-pack movies, while your friends oggled Molly Ringwald and Ally Sheedy, you didnt admit to anyone, not even to yourself that you thought Rob Lowe and Emilo Estavez were really hot.
 
Add to that, the media was full of stories of this new "gay disease" called AIDS, and the Reagan and first Bush Administrations were not interested in getting any information about it out to the public.
 
The first time the Reagan White House Press Secretary  Larry Speakes  was asked about AIDS, his glib,  joking response, is horrific and sickening when we  read it  now,  in the aftermath of the death of  Millions of people world wide.
 
So like a lot of gay kids I didn't know what to think. Could I get AIDS by coming out? By even holding hands or kissing a guy? Was it really God's way of getting rid of homosexuals? The fear you felt was this huge cloud that hung over you every day. You really did wonder if you were destined to be miserable and alone for your entire life.

 And of course at time I thought I was the ONLY gay kid on earth. Now I know that there were in fact more than a few. Even at my own school. But at the time, the sense of isolation was overwhelming. But then, time moved on. I left and in many ways never looked back. I moved to Europe, studied there, came back to WI and went to college, after graduation worked, travelled back to Europe, then even moved to Asia. Eventually, I came back to the US and settled in Chicago, and then I came out.

Like many people, for me coming out was a frightening and painful process of self-discovery and acceptance. I think back on the fear I felt in those days and it seems like I am watching a movie of someone else's life. A life that I would not ever want to revisit. Yet in truth it was MY issue, not my friends. They had no way of knowing what I felt. The whole traditional High School experience of the first date, first dance , first kiss, first umm... "whatever", while a given for everyone else, was just not possible for a lesbian or Gay kid in South Central Wisconsin in the 1980's. Or at least  was convinced , it wasn't possible for me.

Many Gays and Lesbians who should be my age never lived to see today. The statistics on suicide for LGBT youth in the 1980's and 90's will give you nightmares. I am so amazingly fortunate to have the family that I do. My parents are the two most incredible, supportive and amazing people in the whole world. Coming out to them while scary as hell, was truly the end of an old life and the beginning of a new much brighter and happier one.
 


 ( Just in case I haven't told you - Thanks Mom & Dad.)

 I marvel at many of today's LGBT kids with "Gay Straight Alliances". I was delighted to see my own High School now  has a GSA. When I read about kids taking their same sex partner to a high school dance, I can only smile and be amazed at how, at least in some places how far we have come. Though certainly for thousands of LGBT youth in America the reality has not changed from the one I knew .

Over the years I didn't stay in touch with people back from "back home". One wedding, an occasional Christmas Card was pretty much the limit of my contact , and even that soon stopped.  Then one day someone  asked me why I didn't keep in touch with people from those days, and  I didn't really have a good answer. Hence my card to my friend.  It would be the start of an interesting journey for me...

It is worth noting,  the friend I wrote to and about  in  2006 , like so many other  amazing friends from my life  showed me  in words and deeds  what I have always suspected;  My friends are in general, a lot wiser than I am.   As we mark today's  National Coming Out Day there are straight allies in my life who  I still cannot thank enough,  
 
From the amazing friend who answered that letter in 2006, and reminded me why were friends in the first place, and  still today reminds me to laugh at life more than 30 years later.  To other amazing friends who proved my fears unfounded.   The remarkable  couple in Georgia who's friendship, (that has spanned both decades and continents), literally changed my life.  To the lawyer in Dallas, and  the school teacher in Boston who both  challenged my own stereotypes , and instead, ended up teaching me invaluable lessons about acceptance and true friendship. And as always, my incredible family who show me everyday the power of love over fear.
 
And yes, to those, who for reasons political, social, and religious felt they could not continue our friendship. I thank you as well. Not because I don't miss you, for believe, me, I do miss you , every day. Yet I owe you my thanks for showing me that the choice to live authentically does not come without cost, and therefore must not, ever be taken for granted. 
 
 Lastly, to my amazing husband Eric. Who with one brilliant. smile took my hand and changed my life. Without even trying, you provide me with living proof every day that taking those steps to come out of the closet were by far, the best ones I have ever made.
 

 
 

Happy National Coming Out Day



 

Wednesday, October 08, 2014

Remembering a Dark October Night...

Wednesday October 7th, 1998 was a fairly ordinary day in Chicago. I was working for a small consulting firm in the near West suburb of Oak Park, and had spent the day in a series of fairly productive meetings. So I felt pretty good when I got home from work. I was puttering around my apartment making dinner when I picked up the remote control for the TV and turned on CNN.

The lead story was a brutal attack of a young man in Laramie Wyoming named Matthew Shepard. Shepard, age 21, had been beaten into a coma and left tied to fence along a rural highway outside the city. The news report noted that the victim was a young gay man and was not expected to survive.

I remember walking down into “boystown” (the north Halstead area of Chicago, and the center of the city’s Gay community). There were lots of people standing around outside the bars, and restaurants along Halsted Street, talking about what had happened in Wyoming. A makeshift memorial had been set up on the corner of Halsted and Roscoe.

I walked into the 7-11 there on the corner and bought a small votive candle, lit it and placed it with the growing number of candles, handwritten notes and flowers that were being placed around a picture of Matthew that someone had printed off the internet. I stayed for a little while talking to people who were gathered there. Some people were angry, others sad, but we all knew that something in our own community had changed as a result of what had happened,  hundreds of miles away in field outside Laramie.

In 1998 I had just moved to Chicago after being overseas in South Korea. I was in the middle of my own “coming out” process,  and was gathering up my courage to have “the talk” with my parents when I went home for Thanksgiving in a few weeks time. I will admit the news of Matthew Shepard’s brutal murder shook me up. Suddenly the decisions I was making to live openly and honestly as who I was, had potentially fatal consequences.

On an intellectual level you always knew that there were “gay bashers” out there. People who were so conflicted about their own sexuality that they felt the way to “cure” themselves was to attack others for what they feared most about themselves. Yet now those hypothetical risks, were not so hypothetical.  What's more, those cosequences now  had a face, and a name.

As I walked home, my thoughts turned to Matthew Shepard’s parents. What must they be thinking and feeling? Had they known Matt was gay? Did it really matter? Years later I would have the great honor of meeting Judy Shepard,  and hear her tell her own powerful story .

Now 16 years later, I marvel at how my own life has changed. I am married to an amazing man, we have incredible friends and loving families who remind us every day,  that the world is not as bleak and dark a place as it seemed,  on that October night in 1998.

Yet I am still saddened and angry that there are many people in America who honestly feel that Matthew Shepard got what “he had coming to him”. That demonizing , discriminating against, and even murdering Gays and Lesbians is somehow “doing God’s work”.

People with a vested interest in keeping LGBT people as the one group it is still safe to hate. People who seek to profit, personally, politically and even economically from fomenting deadly hatred and fear of others. Bigots whose actions and beliefs are the farthest thing from being Christian, yet claim to have a monopoly on what they claim God thinks and who they claim "God hates".

I really don’t have a point to make here, other than to say it’s important to remember Matthew and so many others like him who have died as a result of hatred and bigotry. If you want to get involved, here are a few great places to start...

The Matthew Shepard Foundation: http://www.matthewshepard.org/

The Trevor Project: http://www.thetrevorproject.org/

The Ben Cohen Stand Up Foundation: http://www.standupfoundation.com/

The We Give a Damn Campaign: http://www.wegiveadamn.org/

The "It Gets Better" Project:  http://www.itgetsbetter.org/

Thanks,

Dave

Monday, October 06, 2014

Marriage Equality Comes to 5 More States

The United States Supreme Court today, declined to hear legal appeals from 5 states seeking to overturn lower court decisions that ruled their respective bans on same sex marriage unconstitutional.    By declining to hear the appeals, the High Court essentially ruled marriage equality to be the law in the US States of   Wisconsin, Indiana, Oklahoma, Virginia and Utah.


The ruling is a massive blow to proponents of writing bigotry and discrimination into state constitutions. The tired outdated bigoted call of “States Rights” is being shrieked from various corners of the Right Wing Nuttysphere. The typical sad cast of bigots have thrown themselves in front of whatever microphones and cameras they can find, to wail and nash their teeth. Lamenting how horrible it is that they are no longer allowed to deny basic civil rights to people they don’t like.

Fox News’ favourite white supremacist and certified hate group spokes-bigot Tony Perkins all but stamped his feet and threatened to hold his breath until he turned blue demanding that Congress pass a federal marriage discrimination act , enabling states  to decide what minorities get equal rights and which ones don't.   Cue the frantic whining...
"Congress should respond to today's announcement by moving forward with the State Marriage Defense Act, which is consistent with last year's Windsor ruling and ensures that the federal government in its definition of marriage respects the duly enacted marriage laws of the states."

All across  Teabagistan the rage  over what is seen as  "judicial activism" is in full throated  cry.  
You know what Tony?   Good.   Go ahead,  scream, cry,  rend your garments  and say the world is coming to a horrific end.    Nobody cares.    You are full of shit, and  pretty much have nothing left but the same cries of states rights that your buddies in the  Klu Klux Klan spewed with faced with the reality of equal rights for  African Americans.     You even have had your day in court... repeatedly;   Every time you  and your assorted ilk have had to prove under oath in a court of law your lies about  LGBT Americans  you have lost. 
Then we have your favourite old refrain  that  my marriage is somehow an "attack" on the institution of marriage.   A claim you can't back up with any evidence whatsoever.  Whenever subject of equal rights for gay and lesbian couples is part of our national discourse, self proclaimed  social conservatives always claim it is an "attack" on marriage and the family. 
The Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary defines that word as:

Attack
Pronunciation: &-'tak
Function: verb
Etymology: Middle French attaquer, from (assumed) Old Italian estaccare to attach, from stacca stake, of Germanic origin; akin to Old English staca
transitive senses
1 : to set upon or work against forcefully
2 : to assail with unfriendly or bitter words
3 : to begin to affect or to act on injuriously
4 : to set to work on
5 : to threaten (a piece in chess) with immediate capture
intransitive senses : to make an attack
6: the act or action of setting upon with force or violence

Hmmm… to set upon or work against forcefully huh? Ok, so if we take that argument seriously, to give gay couples the same rights as straight couples; Not more rights, not any new rights that straight couples do not currently have, but ONLY the exact SAME rights,  has somehow injured, damaged and potentially will even destroy heterosexual marriages and families.

Again... Wow. I guess I only have one question then. How?  It is worth pointing out this was the same question you were asked in Court, and were completely unable to answer.

Does today's ruling   mean that straight couples will  lose any of the 1,100 federal benefits and protections that they currently have? Does legal gay marriage mean straight couples can’t file joint tax returns, have, adopt or raise children, pass on social security survivor benefits, or make medical decisions for each other? Does the legalization of marriage for gays and lesbians mean that straight people can no longer marry, and those who are married must get divorced? 

In these 5 states will the marriages or families of any heterosexual change in any way?  

The answer of course is no they won't But bigots are never interested in facts. When faced with them ,Tony Perkins and his ilk generally fire back with the only arguments they can come up with. The tired and completely discredited idea that States have the right to put the civil rights of a minority group up to a vote. When they lost that argument, they fell back on their old favourite; That gay marriage cheapens or lessens the value of the institution of marriage .

But since none of the marriage rights or benefits that straight couples have will change now that Gays and Lesbians are able to marry, what opponents of gay marriage are really saying is that letting gay couples marry cheapens their own marriages in their own eyes. Letting gays and lesbians get married means they now have a right that only heterosexuals had. And for some people that is unacceptable.

It's not just that some people want to prevent gays and lesbians from having equal rights, they want make sure that gays and lesbians have no rights at all. They see equal rights for everyone as an attack on them.

That's interesting. Even though the rights and benefits afforded to couples in “traditional marriage” clearly would not change in ANY way, some people firmly believe that their own marriage would lose value, and might even come to an end, if gay couples are given the same rights.

There is another word for someone who is irrationally fixed on the artificial preservation of inequality that they feel is in their favour. Merriam-Webster's dictionary has the same word for it.

Bigot
Pronunciation: 'bi-g&t
Function: noun
Etymology: Middle French, hypocrite, bigot
1: a person obstinately or intolerantly devoted to his or her own opinions and prejudices

This irrational nonsensical argument against equality in civil marriage is nothing more that the fear of losing what is seen as a civil superiority, coupled with the desire to take religious beliefs and codify them into civil law. It is bigotry, pure and simple.   And the courts have agreed.   
The last gasp argument from these hate mongers is that somehow, they  are the real victims of oppression. That they have a right  to  deny civil rights to people they  don't like, and  that right  has been 'attacked' by  activists judges.
People like Tony Perkins,  Brian Brown, Brian Fischer, and  Julaine Appling,  have made careers picking and choosing from the bible to justify their hatred.  Now they  are very very  upset to find that  they cant pick and choose from the US Constitution as well

Monday, September 15, 2014

Undeclared Wars & Unending Delusions

Once Upon a Time...  Wars  were  declared by Congress...



The  United States Constitution explains  the powers to declare war this way:

The Congress shall have Power to declare War, grant Letters of Marque and Reprisal, and make Rules concerning Captures on Land and Water;

The United States of America has been at war now for 13 years. It is a very real war, that has cost hundreds of thousands of lives. It is in fact, the longest war in American History. It is also a war which has never been declared. It is war that has no "home front". It is war where the human costs have been borne almost exclusively by our Military men and women and their families.

The current threat of the "Islamic State of Iraq and Syria" is a direct result of our failure to adequately plan for, and secure a post-Saddam Hussein Iraq. The decision to dismantle then disperse the still -fully armed soldiers of the Iraqi Army, was the seed from which grew the rancid weed of Al-Qaeda in Iraq , which has now bloomed into ISIS

It is also most certainly a war if not mostly for, then predominantly about, oil. It is long past time for everybody to be honest. If there was no Oil in middle east we wouldn't care about what went on there. Anyone who claims otherwise is lying. It is reason we invaded Iraq in the first place.



But the truth in that admission is bigger than just saying this war is about oil. It is also being willing to admit that in 2014 we live in a completely oil-dependent world. Oil is a much a strategic resource as water and food. So to admit we went to war to secure the free flow of oil to the global market is not necessarily in and of itself all that shocking of thing to admit to.

Unless everyone is willing to give up everything we use Oil for; (Which is pretty much everything in our civilization from transportation,  to  energy and food production.  To   anything and everything made of plastic.) To decry the influence of oil on our strategic and military decisions is to be remarkably na├»ve.

Donald Rumsfeld Greets Saddam Hussein

So  lets be clear here.   The problem is  our addiction to Oil.   It is the reason behind  the  greatest  foreign policy and military  debacles in American history.  From the decision to invade Iraq, to our historical  long running   support  of ruthless dictators and undemocratic regimes  from the Shah of Iran,  to  Saddam Hussein, to the Saudi Royal Family.   

The day we free ourselves of our current all-encompassing need for Oil, is the day we free ourselves from the single greatest motivation for military entanglements in the Middle East. As long as this toxic black goo, found under the sands of that part of the world, is the most critical strategic and economic resource there is, then the stability there, is an issue that transcends the interests of individual nations, and is in fact a matter of Global security.

But the deep dark truth of the matter is, nobody wants to have THAT conversation. Least of all the Oil industry and those people and organizations both outside of , and within Government who are either personally or institutionally invested in our dependence on oil.

So it begs the question if there is a well armed, well funded military force, which openly declares that one of its chief goals is to harm the United States, and that force is in a position to exert enormous control over the world's most important economic and technological resource, is that not a clear and present danger to national security? The answer is to that question is simple, the implications of that answer, are anything but.

Is the United States at war in the Middle East? You would be hard pressed to find anyone who could with straight face give any answer other than Yes to that question. Yet we are spending so much effort to behave as if we are not. We are fighting a war against radical extremist terror groups and doing it via vague Congressional Resolutions that "authorize the use of force". But never actually honestly say what it is we are doing. We are at war.

There is not shared sacrifice in this conflict. It is the brave Men and Women of our military and their families who have paid that terrible price. We have even cooked the books so the economic costs of this war, running into the Trillions of Dollars have been hidden, put on the National Credit Card because raising taxes to pay for it was politically unpalatable.

Instead this 13 year old war has become the very thing President Eisenhower warned us about. It has become an industry.



It is time for America to be honest.    In recent days we have seen shameless political opportunists in Congress, like Senator Lindsey Graham, running on to Fox News to  decry  a lack of action by the President,  while  at the same time deliberately avoiding their own  constitutional obligations.  
 
 If we are to continue this open-ended war in the Middle East with  a new front against ISIS, then it is time for Congress to pass a Declaration of War. 

It it is time for the Nation to be truly put on a war footing, It is time that a tax surcharge on corporations and individuals be levied to pay for it. It is it time for the Draft to be re-instated to provide the force to fight it.

And as this war is about oil , it is time for petroleum rationing to be instated,   to force us as a Nation to come to terms with just how dependent on this one resource and its related industries we  truly are.

Anything less is a lie. The most costly and bloody lie in American history.   A lie which both political parties  are guilty of perpetuating,