Tag Archives: Olympics

Women’s History Month 2014: Jackie Joyner-Kersee

3 Mar

jackie_joyner_kersee_21March is National Women’s History Month.  To start the celebration of women, I would like to honor and pay tribute to Jackie Joyner-Kersee . Today is also Joyner-Kersee’s 52nd birthday.  Joyner-Kersee has won more medals than any other female athlete in Olympic track and field, with three gold medals, a silver, and two bronze.  Joyner-Kersee retired at age 38 in 2001.  Joyner-Kersee and Babe Didrikson are celebrated as the greatest female athletes of the 20th Century.

One of the reasons why I wanted to celebrate Jackie Joyner-Kersee was her dedication to social justice and paying it forward. After she retired, she established the Jackie Joyner-Kersee Youth Center Foundation — a foundation that provides sports lessons to youth and families to improve quality of life with It is based in her hometown of East St. Louis, Illinois.  Joyner-Kersee also helped to establish Athletes for Hope, an organization that encourages other athletes to work toward making a positive difference in the world.

Thank you, Jackie Joyner-Kersee, and Happy Birthday!

Bigot of the Week Award: August 16, International Olympic Committee

16 Aug

SochiBoycottThanks to my friend and fierce LGBT ally Jennifer Carey for inspiring me to write this article. SJFA readers will remember the story about the violent homophobia in Russia right now, but I fear It Gets Worse. Now all athletes who show any type of solidarity for their LGBT brothers and sisters will be punished by the International Olympic Committee (IOC).  My how very 19th Century of the IOC.  It is as if the history of the persecution of folks with the pink triangle by the Nazis during WWII never happened.

The IOC, in a very Gestapo like manner, declared that anyone trying to make it safe for LGBT athletes, “Any participant who steps out of line may be punished, not by the Russians but by Olympic chiefs themselves.”  The IOC is calling upon Rule 50 from the Olympic Charter which states that the Olympics is not for political or religious propaganda — and here we have the blatant hypocrisy.  All the folks spouting their religious hate are facing no consequences, but those trying to ensure the emotional and physical safety of other human beings are being arrested and punished. How sad that the IOC willfully suffers the delusion that promoting human rights is a “political” agenda.

Do we need to be worried that Putin seems obsessed with us gay folk? Do he and Scott Lively need to finally announce their “love that dare not speak its name.”   I find it ironic that Putin the dictator of Russia is willing to grant political asylum to Edward Snowden, but then tortures LGBT folk.  Yes, for those not reading the newspapers, LGBT teens in Russia are being tortured.

Sadly, the United States cannot approach this issues from a place of innocence. Most part of the southern United States and even parts here in Oregon LGBT folk have to live their lives in fear.  We do not get to claim righteous indignation and moral superiority over Putin and his homophobic merry band of haters and fear mongers, for we have the same closet cases here in our own backyard.

Call to action: Yes, I fully support boycotting the 2014 Olympics in Sochi, but I would also ask that all of us that are committed to social justice stand in solidarity with ALL of our LGBT brothers and sisters around the world: Russia, the United States, Uganda, Cameroon, and Zimbabwe.

Black History Month 2013: will.i.am

11 Feb

will.i.amToday it is my pleasure to honor and celebrate musician and social justice activist will.i.am. William James Adams was born in L.A. in 1975. He grew up in the Estrada Courts projects surrounded by poverty and struggling minority families. He was raised by Debra Adams, a single mom who wanted the best for her son and pushed him to be true to his unique self. She fostered his musical inclinations and helped him get in to Pallisades Charter High School, where he met Allan (apl.de.ap) Pineda.

The two formed Atban Klann, a socially-conscious rap group, which caught the attention of Eazy-E. He helped them land a deal before they were out of high school. They recorded and performed while will.i.am was also a regular on the rave scene, taking in a wide variety of musical influences. After Eazy-E’s death, the group transformed into the Black Eyed Peas and began one of the biggest musical careers of the last 20 years.

Solo and with the group, will.i.am has won seven Grammys, eight American Music Awards, a Billboard Music award, and dozens of other awards and accolades. Along the way, they have sold over 60 million albums and spent dozens of weeks atop the American and British charts. What makes will.i.am so remarkable is that he has channeled his money and success into making the world a better place.

He is an outspoken political activist who campaigned for President Obama in 2008 and 2012. He helped arrange the “Yes We Can” video and album that raised money and awareness for the campaign. Disdainful of how politics are practiced, he is optimistic about what good politicians can accomplish, especially after spending time touring outside the U.S.

The spark was traveling outside America and seeing it from a distance, seeing the way people viewed us. America went from this beautiful country to “Oh my gosh, you guys are so stupid.” But America tomorrow could still be the light of the world.

He is also a tireless activist for education, particularly science, technology, and math. He founded will.i.am angel, a non-profit dedicated to transforming lives through education, opportunity and inspiration. It provides educational opportunities for disadvantaged and marginalized children and helps create strong educational programs. He also spends a fair amount of time in Great Britain and has donated significant time and money to the Prince’s Trust there.

will.i.am clearly sees the intersections of oppression and the connection between ugly 1% politics and the spiral of poverty.

You can rule ignorance; you can manipulate the illiterate; you can do whatever you want when a people are uneducated, so that goes in line with corrupt business and corrupt politics. And they’re so transparent about it! They’re telling you right to your face that they’re cutting education because they want you to stay stupid. They don’t want you to know what’s good for your body, mind, or community, and they don’t want you to have a future, they just want you to consume the shit that they benefit from. They don’t want you to be rich, they want you to be butt-ass poor and in debt … That’s not my America.

On top of his talent and passion, he’s a witty, charming, and humble man who truly enjoys sharing his ideas. I first developed a real appreciation for him when he appeared on The Graham Norton Show with one of my favorite people, Miriam Margolyes. Their interaction is absolutely delightful and I dare anyone not to be in love with them both.

Before the age of 40, will.i.am has already made the world a better place and provided both example and opportunity to others. Who knows what else he will accomplish?

Mitt Romney: Around the World in 80 Gaffes

2 Aug

One of the nicer things said about this trip…

GOP Presidential hopeful Mitt Romney wrapped up his three-nation overseas tour, demonstrating his usual diplomacy, tact, planning, and magical power to reinvent reality with every third sentence. After a disastrous visit to England and a speech in Israel that was elitist, anti-Semitic and racist all at once, Romney managed to avoid any major missteps during his brief stay in Poland. Well, except for the trip’s press secretary, Rick Gorka, telling a reporter “Kiss my ass — this is a holy site.” Now that’s a sentence you don’t hear every day! The most likely explanation for Romney himself not adding to #romneyshambles in Poland is that he is completely devoid of humor, thus being unable to tell any Polish jokes…

How did the Romney campaign respond to the rampant criticism of the trip? With an etch-a-sketch, a pointing finger, and what can only be called Bain logic of course! When asked about his famous line comparing Israel with Palestine — “culture makes all the difference” — good ol’ Mitt had this to say:

[I] did not speak about the Palestinian culture or the decisions made in their economy. That is an interesting topic that perhaps can deserve scholarly analysis but I actually didn’t address that. I certainly don’t intend to address that during my campaign.

Oh but you did, Mitt, you did. Just like your pro-choice, pro-gay, and pro-healthcare stands of yore, it’s a matter of record. Even your robotic arms can’t shake the world hard enough to make the facts disappear.  So of course he resorts to a new tactic: the problem lies not in our Mitt, but in our press.

I realize that there will be some in the Fourth Estate, or whichever estate, who are far more interested in finding something to write about that is unrelated to the economy, to geopolitics, to the threat of war, to the reality of conflict in Afghanistan today, to a nuclearization of Iran. They’ll instead try and find anything else to divert from the fact that these last four years have been tough years for our country.

Um, Mitt, if you’re going to use “fourth estate” just use it. Don’t dither. And by the way, you haven’t addressed one single item on that list in your campaign either. You’ve nuked your primary opponents and tried to make people focus on the President, boldly ignoring the Republican administration whose mistakes he’s trying to fix and the Republicans in Congress who have spent “these last four years” obstructing progress for political gain. It’s the job of the press to tell us what a Presidential candidate is up to, just like it’s your job to convince America that you’re viable. So far, only one of you is doing your job.

But the trip was a success! So says Romney strategist Stuart Stevens, calling the least successful trip across Europe since Napoleon visited Russia “a great success, generally.” Wow! Now those are some inspiring words. Stevens also noted that Romney had answered “a lot of questions.” Well, to be fair, three questions outside 10 Downing Street is more than he’s answered clearly about his taxes or his time at Bain, but objectively it isn’t “a lot.”

Sadly, even the Republicans can’t spin gold out of this heap of bull-Mitt. Trying to put a brave face on it, party strategists and political consultants have come up with things like:

  • The question always is if you had to do all over again and get the exact same results, would you do it again? Well, in this case, no. But it’s not that big of a deal.
  • It comes under the heading “seemed like a good idea at the time.”
  • What they didn’t anticipate was how hot the media glare was going to be. They wanted to go over there and not make any news and they ended up making some.

Oh, poor Mitt! With friends like these, who needs an opposing political party. Of course the Democrats have assembled this handy clip reel so Mitt can remember his lovely trip. The more time Romney spends in front of the cameras, the clearer it becomes why the RNC doesn’t want W at the convention. The two are geting pretty hard to tell apart.

The Mitt-ish Are Coming! or The London Tea Party

28 Jul

Failure does not compute!

Poor Romneybot 2012! He can’t seem to calibrate his circuits for the correct response to anything these days. After weeks of his Mendacity and Obfuscation Routines failing to defuse his tax situation, he decided it was time to flee the country. His Safety and Secrecy Protocol directed him to either Switzerland or the Cayman Islands, but his Invasive Media Sensor indicated that this would only inflame the situation he was trying to avoid. Fortunately his Best Olympics Ever 2o00 memory implant sensed an upcoming games and he decided to journey to London (as the 1% are able to travel like this). Perhaps the more proper English spoken there would disguise his faulty language generator! He strapped Ann onto the top of a private jet and away they went. Sadly, his Social Miscue Engine kicked in, and the trip has been a disaster.

How big a disaster? On his second day a new hash tag showed up on Twitter: #romneyshambles. After the media released a clip of Mitt saying London didn’t seem ready for the Olympics, Mayor Boris Johnson laid into him in front of a crowd of 60,000. He bumbled a secret meeting with British Intelligence, refered to the dwelling at 10 Downing St. as a “backside” and forgot the name of a key politician when speaking to him on camera. Every bit the aloof, prevaricating, hypocritical, ugly American he’s shown since starting his campaign, he’s cast deep doubts on his ability to handle foreign relations even with one of our staunchest allies.

The conservative British tabloid The Daily Mail, never a big supporter of the U.S. at the best of times, has had a #romneyshambles tweet-fest with the visit. A few especially lovely examples include:

  • Diplomacy Romney style: casts doubt on Britain’s Olympic preparations; says last thing he wants is for US to be like Europe. Way to go Mitt!
  • Do we have a new Dubya on our hands?
  • Serious dismay in Whitehall at Romney debut. ‘Worse than Sarah Palin.’ ‘Total car crash’. Two of the kinder verdicts.
  • Another verdict from one Romney meeting: ‘Apparently devoid of charm, warmth, humour or sincerity.’

I guess this is what you get when your top foreign policy advisors are Dick Cheney and John Bolton.

Of course the Mitt-droid was able to activate his Faux News Defense Broadcast. The GOP Network has tried to stir up a bizarre meme that the Brits should be nicer to Romney because…he might be President someday. REALLY? Maybe ol’ Mitt ought to try to be Presidential overseas if he wants that wish to come true. In Romney’s defense, his Time Perception Meter has been off for years; he can’t remember when he left Bain Capital, when he started the Olympics, or when to file his taxes. Maybe he thought this was 1812 and he was on enemy soil.

Whatever the case, Romney is once again faring poorly when compared to President Obama. Comparing the London debacle with then-candidate Obama’s overseas trip in 2008, The National Journal came up with this headline: Romney Abroad – Candidate Obama Did It Better In 2008. Ouch. That has to hurt Mitt’s one feeling. He should cheer up, though; he’ll be leaving Britain soon, and off to Israel and Poland. What could go wrong there?

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