Sunday, January 29, 2006

State of the Union

Well The Shrub will give his "State of the Union" speech this week, and I bet he leaves out the following:

The economy slowed to a 1% growth rate in the Fourth Quarter of 2005. GM, Ford and other major companies are laying of tens of thousands of workers. Wages are stagnant for most workers. More and more Americans do not have health insurance, and health care costs are soaring. He has done nothing to solve the health care/insurance crisis.

His plan to "privatize" Social Security, a major theme in his last SOTU speech, was a failure, rejected by the majority of the people despite his "Townhall meetings" to build support.

A number of people in his adminstration and the GOP have either been indicted or are under investigation for various criminal behavior.

Iraq is moving toward an Iranian-type Shiite theocracy government. Islamic extremists are gaining power and popularity in the Middle East.

A growing number of congressional leaders, including Republicans, believe that Bush broke the law by wiretapping American citizens without a warrant. A majority of Americans believe support impeachment for this crime.

Samuel Alito will probably get Congressonal approval to be appointed to the Surpeme Court, and the freedoms of American citizens will be in great jeopardy. Alito sides with big business and government against workers and people. He praised Robert Bork and shares his extremist interpretations of the constitution and civil rights.

According to a recent CNN poll, most Americans (54%) disapprove of the job he is doing as president. (His approval rating is around 40%). 58% believe his second term is a failure, and 52% say his entire presidency is a failure.

This is the real state of the union!

Bush is a failure, and a danger to freedom in America and around the world.
He should be impeached before the next "State of the Union" speech!

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Hillary's Plantation Remark and Media Bias

Hillary Clinton has been under attack for her statement at a black church that the House of Representatives was being run like a "plantation." This is probably the first true thing she has said in a long time.... But anytime a Democrat makes a trusthful statement about the neo-fascist Republican State, they are viciously attacked by Republicans as well as the media.

Republicans tried to claim that the statement was rascist, even though conservatives have used the term "plantation" many times, including Newt Gingrich referring to the Democratic Congress as a "liberal plantation."

Chris Matthews had a "panel" on Hardball (MSNBC) that included John Scorobrough and Tucker Carlson, TWO conservatives, to criticize Hillary. Chris Matthews consistently attacks the "liberal left", especially Howard Dean and Al Gore, for being too radical and extreme. Matthews is conservative, but is considered to be a "moderate".

Al Gore has become the spokesperson for progressive Democrats, and the more he speaks the truth about the Bush Administration and its crimes, the more he is attacked.

The media is clearly under the control of the corporate rich and the conservative right. When will networks like MSNBC offer a libera/progressive talk show? Hint: Air America's Rachel Maddow would make a great host!

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Good News for a Change

We have some good news on gay rights in the U.S. A Maryland ciruit court judge declared the state's ban on gay marriage to be a violation of the Maryland constitution. It willl be appealed to the state's Supreme Court, but it is a temporary victory. However, when judges make these kind of decisions, they are labelled "liberal activists" and attacked by the anti-gay Christian Right, and it will probably motivate many voters to oppose gay marriage in a future ballot initiative.

The Washington House approved a law to prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation, and it looks like it might pass the Senate this time because one Republican senator says he has changed his mind and would vote for it. We'll see...

But there is BAD news, it looks like Canadians will elect an anti-gay pro-Bush Conservative! So much for moving to Canada... Venezuela or Bolivia are looking pretty good now.. and Chile has elected an women atheist/socialist so it looks like Central and South America are moving to the left....

Monday, January 16, 2006

Remembering MLK

Every year politicians (Republican and Democrat, liberal and conservative) and the media celebrate the life of Dr. Martin Luther King. It is worth remembering, especially this year, the MLK was rediculed and dismissed by the mainstream media and considered too "radical" by many politicians for speaking out against the Vietnam War. He even said that the U.S. was one of the greatest abusers of human rights. He called for cutting military spending and increasing social welfare spending! He would be very out of place in today's "centrist/right" mainstream.

MLK was considered a threat to national security and was wiretapped by the FBI and was under constant government surveiance.

It is hypocritical for jingoistic war criminals like George W. Bush to even mention MLK in a speech. Today's right-wing Repubicans are equally hypocritical for praising MLK when they are advocating the exact opposite values and policies he died defending.

And many black pastors and churches seem to have forgotten King's appeal for social justice and equality beyond just race. King died defending workers striking in Memphis. He said "injustice against anyone is an injustice against us all." Today, black preachers and churches are aligning with the conservative right to restrict the civil rights of gays and lesbians and to support the militaristic and unjust social politicies of Bush and the GOP.

When right-wing fascists like Bill O'Reilly and Rush Limbaugh attack "liberalism", they are attacking the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King! If you want to know what liberalism is really about, read the speeches and writings of MLK!

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Brokeback Mountain

I was finally able to get tickets (online) to see "Brokeback Mountain" at Studio on the Square this weekend, and the film lived up to my high expectations. After weeks of reading reviews from critics and viewers, I was finally able to see it myself. Even though I have been listening to the audio book of the excellent short story the screenplay is based on, and knew the story and ending, I was still moved by this powerful movie.

There are different views and interpretations of this complex movie, even within the gay community. The anti-gay Christian Right interprets it is an example of the threat homosexuality poses for "traditional" heterosexual marriages and families. Some gay people are not too comfortable with the main characters either, since they are married and probably "bisexual", they do not relate to them as "gay" characters. "Gay Liberationists" can view the movie as an example of how "the closet", imposed by traditional family and religious values, restricts the sexual and romantic freedoms of the characters and forces them into unhappy relationships. Regardless of these different views, there is no denying that the movie is a tragedy. But some of the greatest movies (and literature) are tragedies! The lack of a happy, clean ending is no reason to dislike the movie.

I've heard some criticism from gay men who do not like the movie because the Ennis and Jack are bisexuals, and bisexuals who try to "straddle the fence," make gay people look bad because of their behavior, etc. I would remind them that there are a lot of people between the 0 and 6 on the "Kinsey scale". The characters in Brokeback Mountain may not be gay! I don't know. Society forces people into the "gay" v. "straight" categories NOT nature! Human sexuality is more complicated than black/white gay/straight! Human sexuality is COMPLICATED!

I loved the movie because of its complexity. Unlike such "blockbuster" movies as King Kong (which I enjoyed because I love science fiction and escapist fantasy movies), Brokeback Mountian is grounded in reality, in real lives, in real characters, in real life situations. While modern urban gay people may not relate to the situation of Jack and Ennis in Brokeback Mountian, their stituation and life choices have been more common in history and American culture than the "sexual freedom" following the post-Stonewall gay movement. Brokeback Mountain begins in 1963, before Stonewall, before the "gay movement," before "gay bars" or "gay culture" was established in the United States. Little social space existed then for open same-sex relationships and for the few who tried it, there were great costs, as Ennis's recollection of the hate-crime murder of a gay man back in his youth.

Some have painted Jack as a "sexual predator." No, I see him as a dreamer. Jack clearly falls in love with Ennis, and has a dream, a belief, that they could be happy together, have a open relationship, live on a ranch together, etc. Ennis know better. He has seen society's violent reaction to such an open display of contempt for "traditional" family values. Ennis accepts the limits society has placed on him: he has no education, he is poor, he is married and has children to support, he has obligations to his family he cannot walk away from. He is trapped. That is the tragedy of this love story, like so many others (Romeo and Juliet). Yes, this is a tragic love story, it is not a "gay cowboy" movie.

No, Jack and Ennis are not "heroes." They are not perfect. In fact, there are things about them we cannot accept and do not like at all. I didn't like the way Ennis treated his wife. I felt sorry for her. But as he admits, "its not her fault." The sexism in the movie jumped out at me. It was the early 1960-70s, and women even then were treated as second class citizens by men.

Like the "real world," there are social forces at work in Brokeback Mountain. Sociologists focus on these forces which shape the choices we can make in society: religion, family, economics, sexism, heterosexism, and social class. Can humans free themselves from these social forces? It is a struggle we all engage in, and Ennis and Jack have to work within them as well. Getting free is a struggle, a hard and difficult task for the best of us.

As for the film, the cinematography is wonderful, the director did a brilliant job, all the acting is great, especially Heath Ledger who took my breath, not just because he is very HOT, but his acting is phenomenal. He gets into the skin of his character and creates an impression that wil stay with you, like other great acting roles which win Oscars, he is a sure bet. The movie should win Best Movie, Best Director and Best Actor at the Oscars, which gives me a reason to watch this year's Oscar show.

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Alito Confirmation Hearing: Victory for Christo-Fascists Likely

It looks like Samuel Alito will be confirmed by the Senate Judiciary Committee and will join his right-wing comrades Scalia and Thomas on the U.S. Supreme Court. The "confirmation" hearing was a joke. The Democrats, with only a few exceptions, failed to aggressively challenge Alito's lies and coverups of his record and views, and the Republicans wasted time with softball questions. Alito's record and views on Roe V. Wade, abortion, privacy, civil rights and executive privilege are very disturbing. He refused to say that Roe v. Wade was settled law, and he has made it known in the past that he opposes it and would like to take away a women's right to choose abortion. He was a "proud" member of the racists, sexist, anti-gay Concerned Alumni of Princeton and lied about his support of it (he said on a job application that he was a "proud" member of CAP to get a job with the racist, sexist and anti-gay Reagan administration.)

If/when confirmed, Alito will be a victory for the Christo-Fascists, who have put their stamp of approval on this nominee. Pat Robertson, Jerry Falwell and the rest of the Christo-Fascist leadership have proclaimed that this would be a 30+ year victory for them.

There is no doubt that Roe v. Wade will be overturned if it comes up in the new Supreme Court, and the rights of workers, women, racial minorities and gays is in danger.

If you haven't done so already, PLEASE contact your representatives NOW to urge them to vote against confirmation of Alito.
Go to (People for the American Way) or (Human Rights Campaign) to take action!

Sunday, January 08, 2006

"Justice Sunday III": Christo-Fascists Rally for Alito

The Chriso-Fascists at Focus on the Family held "Justice Sunday III" today in Philadelphia to rally their Right-Wing Christian Soldiers for the confirmation hearing this week of Supreme Court nominee Samuel Alito. Jerry Falwell and Focus on the Family founcer James Dobson attended the meeting along with current president of FOTF, Tony Perkins, and Republican Senator Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania (the No. 3 Republican in the Senate).

Santorum told the group that liberal judges are "destroying traditional moriality, creating a new moral code and prohibiting dissent." He said the only way to "restore this republic our founders envisioned" is to appoint judges like Samuel Alito to the Surpeme Court, but he accused Democrats on the Judiciary Committee of wanting to drag the hearings "into the gutter," so they can continue their "far left judicial activism on the Surpeme Court."

Tony Perkins, president of Focus on the Family, which organized the event, said it wasn't about creating a theocracy, but a response to court decisions prohibiting the display of the "Ten Commandments" on public property and reciting Pledge of Alligiance with "one nation under god".

First, unlike the organizers of this theocratic roadshow, the "founders" insisted on a "wall of separation between church and state," which these wackos want to destroy. The only public display of religion prohibited by the Constitution is "state-sponsored" religious displays or activities, like school prayers and the "God Pledge."

Like other "Justice Sunday" events, JS III was held in a huge church, Greater Exodus Baptist Church. Its pastor, Rev. Herbert Lusk, endorsed President Bush from the pulpit during the 2000 Republican National Convention. It was rewarded with one of Bush's "faith-based" handouts, nearly $1 million!

While the Bush administration has been targeting ministers and churches which have spoken out against the illegal (and immoral) Iraq War and threatening them with the revocation of the tax-exempt status for violating the "separation of church and state," they don't seem to mind churches and pastors which used their pulpits to elect George Bush and helpd Republicans take control of Congress.

Saturday, January 07, 2006

Christian Right Watch

An anti-gay "pastor", Lonnie Latham, was arrested on lewdness charges for propositioning a plainclothes policeman outside a hotel in Tulsa OK. He was a member of the Southern Baptist Convention's executive committee and very outspoken against homosexuality. He spoke out against same-sex marriage and supported a Southern Baptist Convention diretive urging its 42,000 churches to befriend gays and lesbians and try to convince them that they can become heterosexual "if they accept Jesus Christ as their savior and reject theirr sinful, destructive lifestyle."

Guess he had seen "Brokeback Mountain"... we may see a lot more of this kind of reaction by repressed homos in the brainwashed anti-gay gay Christian Right.

In other news, Christo-fascist Pat Robertson suggested that Israel Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's stroke was a dvine punishment for "dividing God's land." "God considers this land to be his," Robertson said on his TV program The 700 Club. "You read the Bible and he says 'This land is my land,' and for any prime minister of Israel who decides he is going to carve it up and give it away, God says, 'No, this is mine."

I think "This land is my land" was a Woody Guthrie song....
Anyway, is Pat Robertson CRAZY or just plain EVIL? Maybe Both, but I think he is CRAZY! He has called hurricanes and other natural disasters "God's punishment" for various sins, he blamed 9/11 on gays and feminists, and he called for the assassination of Venezuela's president Hugo Chavez... this man is DANGEROUS!

The Wall Street Journal reports that three Christian ministers were caught "blessing" the doors and seats of the hearing room where Senate Judiciary Committee members will be considering the nomination of Judge Samuel Alilto on Monday (read it)

The ministers insisted they weren't taking sides in the Alito debate, but said God is interested in the hearings because of issues like abortion, public prayer and gay marriage being debated...

This is an example of how important it is to DEFEAT Alito! The Christo-fascists love him, which should be reason enough to stop him. He is a reactionary, anti-choice, anti-gay, anti-civil rights ultra-conservative Republican. This is another reason to impeach George Bush! He is clearly the puppet of the Christo-fascists who control the Republican Party. As the withdrawal of Harriet Miers demonstrates, Bush will do nothing to offend the Christian Right base of the Republican Party.

Monday, January 02, 2006

Fighting the Gay Right

Since I submitted my last Queer Notes column for the Triangle Journal News, I've been thinking about all the things I wanted to say but did not have the space for about what I have learned about the Memphis gay community and what is holding us back as a community.

I mentioned the problems of leadership and members in gay organizations, but the larger problem I believe is apathy and political/religious conservatism. I estimate that at least half of the gay communty is political apathetic and is not involved in any political organization fighting for their civil rights. Another 25 percent or so are political (REPUBLICAN) or religious (CATHOLIC, ETC.) conservatives who support organiznations that are working against our civil rights.

I've been trying to point out the serious problem of Uncle Tom (gay) Republicans who support the anti-gay Republcian Party and candidates like George Bush who are alligned with the anti-gay Christian Right. I don't believe we should tolerate this kind of treason.

There is no justification for the gay Republican support of George Bush and the GOP. Here are their stated reasons for supporting Bush and the GOP, and my refutation of them:

1. Conservative gays support the Republican party because they believe in limited government.

* Then how can they support George Bush? Bush inherited a budget SURPLUS from Clinton and has turned it into record DEBT and DEFICITS.

The Republican Party supports BIG government! They support INCREASING corprate welfare and MILITARY spending... which is BIG GOVERNMENT! And the Republican Party supports an Orwellian BIG GOVERNMENT that invades the privacy of homes, families and bedrooms! The Patriot Act is BIG GOVERNMENT! The Busheviks can now keep track of what books you read and what websites you look at! The New York Times recently revealed that the Bush administration has been spying (wire-tapping!) American citizens without ANY legal, judicial or constitutional authority! That is BIG GOVERNMENT!

2. Gay Republicans support the Republican Party because they support a strong military and the "war on terrorism".

*So do Democrats! The difference is that Bush and neo-Conservatives ignored the threat of terrorism and failed to protect us from it. (According Richard Clarke and other terrorism experts and the 9/11 Commision!) According to many military supporters, the Bush administration (Rumsfield, etc.) have weakened our military considerably. Bush's illegal invasion of Iraq, which had NOTHING to do with fighting terrorism, has fueled more anti-american sentiment and terrorism!

3. Democrats, like John Kerry, Do not Support Gay Marriage either, so the Democratic Party is no better than the Republican Party...

*In fact, there is more support for gay marriage in the Democratic Party and among liberal Democrats than among Conservative Republicans. The main reason Democrats do not publicly support gay marriage is the Republican Party's political strategy of using cultural issues like gay marriage, "family values" and abortion to attack Democrats and win elections in the South and conservative states. While the difference between Democrats and Republicans on gay marriage is not clear, the differences on other gay rights issues is very clear. The Republican Party's platform explicitly rejects gay and lesbian civil rights, including protections against workplace discrimination, and supports the exlusion of gays in the military. The Democratic Party Platform supports civil rights, including civil unions and domestic partnership benefits, and calls for the repeal of the "don't ask don't tell" military policy, which Clinton was forced to accept as part of a compromise with the Republicans and the military. Remember that Clinton was attacked by the REPUBLICAN PARTY for his effort to end discrimination against gays in the military.. And Bill Clinton was the FIRST President to include gay and lesbian civil rights in his campaign and his state of the union messages.

We must challenge the Uncle Tom Republicans and refute their lies and misinformation. They are supporting an anti-gay political party and president and are supporting the oppression of gays and lesbians for mainly economic reasons... They are after all mostly upper middle class White men who care more about protecting their social status than social justice and equality.

So we must fight not only apathy in our community, but Uncle Tom Republicans who care more about capital gains tax cuts and supporting a homphobic military/industrial complex than they do about social justice or gay and lesbian civil rights.

Progressive gays, GAY LIBERATIONISTS, see the struggle for gay and lesbian civil rights in the larger progressive movements for economic and social justice. "Gay Liberation" is not just about the right of wealthy gay white men to commit sodomy in the privacy of their bedrooms.. it is about social, political and economic justice for everyone, including poor black women and poor gay and lesbians, and workers who are under attack by conservative economic and social policies.

Feminist Suzanne Pharr wrote a great book entitled "IN THE TIME OF THE RIGHT: REFLECTIONS ON LIBERATION" in which she compares two kinds of politics: Politics of Liberation (equality) and Politics of Domination (meritocary)" I will discuss these two politics more in a future column, but the Uncle Tom Republicans do NOT practice liberation politics, they practice a politics of DOMINATION (coporate power, meritocray, etc.). PROGRESSIVE/liberal gays practice liberation politics which supports economic, political and social EQUALITY. The Conservative Right has always opposed real EQUALITY.

I highly recommend another book on the Gay Right. Richard Goldstein's THE ATTACK QUEERS: LIBERAL SOCIETY AND THE GAY RIGHT. In this book Goldstein eloquently exposes the "homocons" (Andrew Sullivan, Log Cabin Republicans) and shows how they are at odds with the gay liberation movement.