Archive | May, 2013

Bigot of the Week Award: May 31, Roman Polanski

31 May
Bigot of the Week

Bigot of the Week

I need to send out a huge thank you to my friend and LGBT ally, Jennifer Carey for her nomination of this weeks’ bigot! Outspoken director Roman Polanski managed to add to the wrong side of his legacy with some very misogynistic comments this week. Speaking to the press at the Cannes Film Festival, Polanski offered bizarre non sequiturs, medial nonsense, and vicious sexism–I suspect we need to up his Haldol dose significantly!

I think it’s a pity that now offering flowers to a lady becomes indecent. […] trying to level the genders is purely idiotic. I think it’s a result of, like everything else and I will be Marxist here, of progress in medicine and these are outcomes of it. I think that the Pill has changed greatly the woman of our times, masculinized her … that chases away the romance from our lives and that’s a great pity.

I’m not sure where to even start with this. The most innocuous bits are the strange idea that offering flowers is anti-feminist (perhaps he needs to work on his delivery…) and the nonsensical claim that anything he said is vaguely Marxist. (Remember, Marx was a  defender of women’s rights!)

Far more troubling is his absolute dismissal of any attempt at gender equity. Does he not understand oppression? This isn’t about all people being identical, it is simply about social justice — ensuring that all people have equal opportunity and access. Apparently he’s getting his science from the modern GOP, too, claiming that birth control masculinizes women and destroys romance. That manages to be a mix of medical lies and outright lunacy. One would think that a man who built his career on movies exploring sexual freedom — including the S&M picture that got him to Cannes — would be a bit more celebratory of science that makes sex more free from consequence.

Polanski may have directed a couple of classics and suffered some significant personal tragedies. One would think that being a Holocaust survivor and having his wife brutally murdered would have endowed him with a greater sense of empathy and the human condition. Alas, it has not. He also skipped town the day before his sentencing on unlawful sex with a minor after raping a 13-year-old. He’s been a fugitive from justice for nearly 40 years. It seems he’s also a fugitive from common sense and basic decency.

Will the Real Jan Brewer Please Stand Up?

29 May
Inspiration strikes?

Inspiration strikes?

In many ways it would probably be far easier to believe that Hell has frozen over, or that Dick Cheney has a heart (not just a heart facsimile), or that poverty has finally been eradicated than to believe Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer’s recent broken clock moment. In a stunning display, she demanded legislative support for President Obama’s Affordable Care Act.

Yes, you read that correctly.  The Governor who signed a bill to allow concealed weapons in Arizona the day before the shootings in Tucson, the Governor who believes women should have no rights to govern their own bodies, has now vetoed five bills and will continue to veto any bill that comes before her until Arizona expands Medicaid and passes a state budget. Medicaid expansion is one of the lynchpins of the Affordable Care Act and would help millions of Americans.

Governor Brewer stated:

I warned that I would not sign additional measures into law until we see resolution of the two most pressing issues facing us: adoption of a fiscal 2014 state budget and plan for Medicaid.  It is disappointing I must demonstrate the moratorium was not an idle threat.

Of course, this has not made our Jan popular at her own Tea Party.  The ever charm-free Senate President Andy Biggs (R-Gilbert) told NBC News that he would do everything in his power everything ” to keep a vote on Medicaid from even coming to the floor.”  Lovely! I guess Biggs (ironically named) has a very small heart for any population that is underserved and dependent on Medicaid.

I’m not sure what has gotten into Brewer’s Tea, or perhaps she has stopped drinking Bachmann and DeMint’s homemade brew.  While I am still not a fan of Brewer, I feel I have to acknowledge good behavior. We have three branches of government for a reason. It’s good to see an executive applying some checks and balances to an out-of-control legislature and demanding proper care for the citizens of her state.

Hero of the Week Award: May 24, Eileen Peterson

24 May

RacismI need to say a huge thank you to friend, activist, and LGBT ally, Bruce Kestelman for nominating Eileen for HWA.  Honestly, Bruce needs to also be celebrated as HWA also for many of the same reasons we are celebrating Eileen.

Standing up for Social Justice seems like it would just be obvious and easy.  Working to ensure space for equity and equality and treating all humans with dignity and respect feels like it should be a no brainer.  Sadly, this is not the case.  I suspect all of us have too often witnessed very ugly behavior on different social media sites around human and civil rights issues.  I know I have seen my fair share of awful, nasty, ugly behavior on Facebook and on LinkedIn around the issues of racial equity and marriage equality.  Garbage that I will not bother to repeat here spews forth from the foaming mouths and frantic fingers of bigots everywhere.

Delightfully, within all of this muck there are gems I find that need to be celebrated.  People with tenacity, grace, and perseverance that gracefully — and at times with great wit — work hard to interrupt oppression.   Eileen Peterson is someone who does not shy away from social justice issues.  I admit that there have been times when comments get so ugly, I throw my hands up in despair and walk away from interrupting oppressive comments.  I recently read a thread on LinkedIn regarding marriage equality and I have to say that Eileen Peterson won my heart over.  She does not use accusatory or inflammatory language, but she does try to hold people accountable for their behavior and she asks great clarifying questions that help to expose they hypocrisy within people’s arguments.

Today I felt the need to celebrate the individual and collective voices that work with great respect and dignity to interrupt oppression.  Everyday people like Eileen, Bruce, Jennifer Carey, and the amazingly large list of friends I have had the honor and privilege to know in the past two years, need to be celebrated for their dedication to social justice and fierce determination to eradicate racism, homophobia, misogyny, and poverty. I applaud you all!

Honorable mention this week goes to the Peace Corps. Reversing a long-standing discriminatory practice, the Corps announced this week that it will allow same-sex couples to apply for joint service. Married heterosexual couples have been able to do so all along. The Peace Corps could have waited for DOMA to fall; instead, they took a proactive step and will usher in equality starting next month. Nicely done!

Bigot of the Week Award: May 24, E.W. Jackson

24 May
Bigot of the Week

Bigot of the Week

Congratulations Virginia Republicans! Your nominee for Governor, current Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, is a pretty nasty piece of work in his own right (aggressively anti-choice, virulently homophobic, suing to destroy the Affordable Care Act, trying to gut the EPA’s powers…) Somehow, you managed to find a candidate for Lieutenant Governor who is at least as horrifying.

Minister-turned-politician E.W. Jackson is charm free and worse. After decades as a Democrat, he made headlines a few years ago with a very public refutation of the party and a baffling insistence that the GOP was “better for the black community.” (Bonus facts: he called support of Democrats “slavish devotion” and predicted a black landslide for Romney — what a madcap!) A Baptist bishop and founder of Exodus Faith Ministries, Jackson turned to politics and founded the creepily-named S.T.A.N.D. (Staying True To America’s National Destiny — he and Michele Bachmann must be close friends with the way they re-write history). He ran unsuccessfully for the GOP nomination for Senate in 2012; last week the state GOP convention gave him the nod for Virginia’s second-in-command.

Jackson has a rabidly homophobic history — that obsession makes you wonder what’s in his closet behind those well-pressed bishop’s robes; could it be Marcus Bachmann? Just a couple of choice quotes:

Their minds are perverted, they’re frankly very sick people psychologically, mentally and emotionally and they see everything through the lens of homosexuality. When they talk about love they’re not talking about love, they’re talking about homosexual sex.

Homosexuality is a horrible sin, it poisons culture, it destroys families, it destroys societies; it brings the judgment of God unlike very few things that we can think of… It’s an authoritarian, totalitarian spirit.

He has also repeatedly compared Planned Parenthood to the KKK. He calls the national Democratic platform “worthy of the Antichrist” and calls Democratic leaders “slave masters” for assuming that African Americans might actually vote in their own best interests. (Another fun fact: Jackson defends the 3/5 black citizenship clause in the original U.S. Constitution as “anti-slavery.” Isn’t he witty?) Sadly, he reminds me of Clarence Thomas.  The lateral oppression be bears down on the black community is nothing less than shameful!  Am I the only one that sees his internalized racism?   Does it feel as though the GOP is tokenizing Jackson?  Just asking.

Virginia is a reddish state, but in statewide elections the Democrats have been trending. (Obama took the commonwealth in 2012.) Let’s hope reason prevails and the Cuccinelli-Jackson 19th Century Hate Parade fails to launch.

Dishonorable mention this week goes to those scamps at the Boy Scouts of America. They surely hoped to get some better press yesterday when they voted not to consider gay scouts completely disgusting. Unfortunately, by saying vaguely that they won’t deny membership “on the basis of sexual orientation alone” they give local troops plenty of leeway to oust gay scouts for any number of imagined transgressions. More significantly, by refusing to even consider allowing LGBT adults to serve in any leadership capacity, the Scouts play into the disgusting gay=pedophile myth. Rather than embrace equality, they cowardly BSA has created a confusing mishmash worthy of DADT, set up gay scouts to fail, and embraced ignorance and prejudice. That’s quite the achievement — is there a badge for that?

The Elephant Who Cried “Scandal!”

21 May
That's supposed to be MY White House!

That’s supposed to be MY White House!

Poor President Obama. If you looked at the headlines or the Congressional calendar last week, it was his worst week ever, as his administration was bogged down in scandal after scandal. Or was it?

First, there was the ongoing attempt to politicize the attacks on the US Consulate in Benghazi. (Dick Cheney Wannabe) Rep. Darrell Issa (R – Nastyville) held more pointless hearings to get exactly the same information. There was some understandable confusion right after the attacks. U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice repeated some partially incorrect CIA talking points to the media. The White House and State Department have been very forthcoming with all the information Congress demands. There are some real security lessons to learn, but the GOP would rather try to smear the very popular Hillary Clinton and attack the President. ABC’s Jon Karl screamed scandal as he revealed “new” White House emails. The only problem? They were old, incomplete emails — provided to Karl by Republicans.

Next, the mess at the IRS. A branch office (in Cincinnati) used the term “Tea Party” to analyze tax exempt applications for “social welfare” agencies. “Political targeting!” cried the GOP. Well, maybe. But since the dreadful Citizens United decision, the number of organizations trying to get such status has gone from under 700 to over 2400 a year. Republicans have slashed the IRS budget and refused to craft legislation that would give the agency guidelines for implementing Citizens United. One office made a poor decision, but NO APPLICANT WAS REFUSED THE STATUS — except for one liberal organization. It must be a scandal, though! (Curiously, although the record clearly shows that the White House learned about the problem about a month ago, long after the practice was stopped and an internal investigation launched, at least one person DID know about it way back in July — Rep. Darrell Issa.)

Finally, the Justice Department demanded hundreds of phone records from the AP. This is actually disappointing, fitting into the pattern of domestic spying and privacy infringements that have been part of the Holder DoJ for years. From drones to wiretaps, it’s a blemish on Obama’s potential legacy. Oh, but so far his administration, however foolishly, IS FOLLOWING THE LAW. A law shoved down Congress by a Republican president (Remember good old W?  If you want someone to blame for this law, then blame W, trampling rights as he lied his way into Iraq.). Oh, and the GOP actually likes spying on the press, so never mind, no real pressure here.

Bad news for the GOP: all their screaming and hearings aren’t getting much traction. Sure, the Sunday talk shows (aka the McCain hour–always a pleasure trip into insanity) and the newspaper headlines are parroting their points in the name of “objectivity.” The real impact though? Not so much.

A new Gallup shows the President’s favorables at 53-45, up 11 points from March. GOP ratings for the same period? Down 13, to the lowest since 1992. Maybe Republicans in Congress should focus on creating jobs and actually passing some bills for a change. Clearly, their obstructionist ways along with their “Get off my lawn” ranting is not working.

Hero of the Week: May 17, Pablo Pantoja

17 May
Hero of the Week

Hero of the Week

The Republican National Committee was very happy to have Pablo Pantoja on its payroll. Energetic, savvy, a decorated National Guardsman — what could be better? As a Latino in Florida, a state the GOP needs to win or steal to have a shot at the White House, he was well positioned to represent the hypothetical rebranding the party rolled out earlier this year. As the RNC Hispanic Outreach Director, his role was very important.

Sadly for the GOP, Pantoja also possesses a heart and a mind. Reflecting on the corrosive failure of the GOP’s fake embrace of minorities after their loss in November, he decided he’d had enough. In a powerful statement, he left his position and switched parties, becoming a vocal Democrat.

Yes, I have changed my political affiliation to the Democratic Party. It doesn’t take much to see the culture of intolerance surrounding the Republican Party today. I have wondered before about the seemingly harsh undertones about immigrants and others. Look no further […]

The complete disregard of those who are in disadvantage is also palpable. We are not looking at an isolated incident of rhetoric or research. … I think you get the idea. When the political discourse resorts to intolerance and hate, we all lose in what makes America great and the progress made in society.

It’s a scathing indictment of the othering done by the GOP as it attacks immigrants and minorities at every turn while callously courting their votes. Coming from an informed insider, it is particularly damning. As a nice parting shot, Pantoja also made a contribution to the ACLU for efforts to protect immigrant rights. Well done, sir, and welcome.

Bigot of the Week Award: May 17, Michele Bachmann (again…)

17 May
Bigot of the Week

Bigot of the Week

She’s baaaaaack! After her failed presidential bid and narrow victory to retain her House seat, Rep. Michele Bachmann (R – Wackytown) has been relatively quiet. (Mostly she’s been avoiding questions about campaign improprieties, but that’s another story…) As Minnesota became poised to be the 12th state to approve marriage equality for LGBT couples, however, she surged back into Big Ball of Crazy as she catapulted back into the media in her charm free form. Thanks to my niece Rocky for pointing out her latest rantings for this BWA.

She lamented briefly when her state was the first to reject a one-man-one-woman amendment last November. When the legislature enthusiastically embraced true equality, however, she became (more) unhinged. Calling equality the result of Demonic Powers (oh, those crazy demons!), she charged her listeners to engage in “spiritual warfare” against anyone who dares to suggest that LGBT Americans are legitimate citizens.

because it is one man, one woman – because God said it is. Not because it’s poll tested – because God said it is. And life – not because it’s poll tested, because God stands for life. He made us in his image and likeness. And if we tread too softly on issues, like taking on Islamic jihad, and if we fight too timidly, and if we strive too meekly, then I think we all understand we very easily could come face to face with defeat, and then our nation would in fact pay a great and a lasting price, one that none of us wants to face.

Wow! That’s a whole lot of things to hate in the name of God. Is god’s voice the only voice she hears in her head? She amped up the rhetoric as the bill headed to the Governor’s desk for a promised signature.

The Bible is very clear on this issue. Homosexuality is a sin, and God will punish communities that support it. Sodom and Gomorrah thought they could defy the will of God, and we all know what happened to them. If the governor signs this legislation into law the Minneapolis-St. Paul region will be next.

Bachmann has threatened to leave the state rather than hang around for the inevitable pillars of flame. Rumor has it that her husband, Marcus, will stay behind, and then who will backcomb our Michele’s hair?  Perhaps Michele will move to Tennessee and live with another Grand Dame of Hate, Anita Bryant. If the Supreme Court can do the right thing next month, maybe we can get her to leave the country.

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