Howl of the KweerWolf

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Location: Kansas City, Missouri, United States

Doing my part to irritate Republicans, fundamentalists, bigots and other lower life forms.

Monday, January 24, 2005

Handy guide to telling Republicans apart from neoconservatives

You know you're in trouble trying to define something when the word's entry in the online dictionary Wikipedia runs on and on and on after and introductory paragraph that explains how difficult the word is to define:

"Neoconservatism is a somewhat controversial term referring to the political goals and ideology of the "new conservatives" in the United States. The "newness" refers either to being new to American conservatism (often coming from liberal or socialist backgrounds) or to being part of a "new wave" of conservative thought and political organization." (

Nevertheless, for those whose interest in "news programs" runs largely to what celebrity breakups are featured on "Entertainment Tonight" or those who have suddenly come to the realization that the Republican Party is on the verge of tearing itself apart as the old-style Republicans square off against the new-fangled neocons. Those cracks in the GOP facade began to show around the time Dubya completed his inaugural address in which he pledged the U.S. to standing with oppressed people who sought freedom and liberty. Nice words, but coming out of the Commander-in-Chimp's mouth it sounded a bit like "We're gonna spread freedom and liberty all over the world, even if we have to send in troops to enforce democracy."

Ah, and therein lies the first and major difference between the Republicans and the neocons. Republicans believe in taking a defensive posture and rattling a few sabers when necessary unless we are attacked first. The appropriately acronym'd MAD (for "mutually assured destruction") is a Republican idea. During the Cold War our position was If you don't try to blow us up, we won't wipe you off the map with our nukes. Neocons, on the other hand, believe it's the U.S.'s sacred mission to aggressively impose American democratic values on "rogue" states through covert or pre-emptive military action, regardless of domestic or international law. For an example of that type of mentality, see ... oh, I don't know ... the war in Iraq, maybe.

The differences don't stop there. Just follow these basic guidelines and before long you'll be able to tell a Republican from a neocon within two minutes of the time they open their mouths on "Meet the Press:"

Republicans uphold and revere the Constitution. Neocons feel constrained by the Constitution because it prohibits their desire for world domination. Because the Constitution is just one more obstacle to them, neocons feel entirely justified in using whatever means it takes to circumvent it.

Republicans believe in fiscal responsibility. Neocons want to divert as much money as possible into military spending - even if it adversely affects the nation's economic health.

Republicans believe in a small federal government. Neocons aren't so concerned with this issue. Heck, most of them don't care about any domestic issue as long as they feel they are on the roan to global hegemony.

Many Republicans are religious to some degree or another. Neocons are frequently described as amoral and will only refer to religion if they see it as a way to steer and influence the masses.

Lastly, and perhaps most important in separating the sheep from the goats ... the wheat from the chaff ... the Republicans from the neocons: Most neocons are Republicans only by convenience. They don't share the same ideology that drives true Republicans. However, most Republicans are most assuredly not neocons.

That last point is something Democrats need to drive home now that Bush has scared a sizeable portion of his party with his inaugural address. It's our job to make sure the Republicans know they aren't misunderstanding what they heard, and encourage the true Republicans to rise up and take back their party from these imperial goats in neocon skin!


Saturday, January 22, 2005

"This sponge is making me gay!"

The war in Iraq. The inauguration of the Commander-in-Chimp ... oops! I mean "Chief." The re-vamping of Social Security. The Iraqi elections. And what issue has some folks so worked up this week? A cartoon character who lives in a pineapple under the sea and just may be ... gasp! ... "promoting the homosexual agenda."

Yep, that's right. SpongeBob Squarepants has been "outed" by a couple of religious extremists groups for a video in which he encourages tolerance. ... Oh! Say it ain't so, SpongeBob!

What is it about gay people that gets fundaMENTALists so hot and bothered, their breath ragged and their palms all sweaty?

The cynic in me wants to believe that once Communism (or "godless Comm'nism" in the parlance of TV preachers) ceased to be a viable enemy, the fundies had to come up with a new bogeyman. They could take to the airwaves and send out letters warning that without all those checks coming in from fearful pensioners, "homo-sec-shuls" would run rough-shod over the country in a matter of weeks and poor little Johnnie would be enrolling in Intro to Sodomy along with his entire third grade class. Oh, the horror of it all!

Pensioners and others easily fleeced responded and televangelists learned a basic lesson in economics: Thar's gold in them thar queers!

But maybe there's something a little more ... well, sinister ... to the way the right-wingers trot out the dreaded "homosexual agenda" at the drop of a sponge.

Several years ago the American Psychiatric Association published a study on homophobia, the fear and revulsion some people feel toward GLBT folks. After identifying a group of strongly homophobic men, they invited them into the laboratory to view pictures and photographs. Once there the researchers attached devices to the men's (ahem) "organ of regeneration" that would measure any responses those good ol' boys had while lookin' at nekkid pictures.

Strange as it may sound, those devices registered arousal on a majority of the men identified as homophobes when pictures of naked men popped up on the screen. Well, strange to the rest of the world. We gay men have known for years that the kind of guy who makes himself feel superior by referring to other men as "faggots" or "rump rangers" or worse were really just itching for an opportunity to play Hide the Sausage.

I was reminded of the APA again yesterday while I was watching ABC Nightly News about the whole SpongeBob controversy. Decrying SpongeBob's insidious request for tolerance was Stephen Bennett of the rather uncreatively named Stephen Bennett Ministries (

Read further down in the small print under the photo of the entire Bennett family (Hint: Stephen's the one with the really poofy hair) and you'll find this gem:

"Stephen Bennett struggled with homosexuality until he was 28 years old. Alcoholic, bulimic and a drug addict, his destructive life style nearly killed him. Over 11 years actively as a promiscuous homosexual with countless male partners, many of Stephen's friends are now dead from AIDS. Finally, one day while happily involved in a long term, committed relationship with a man he was in love with, Stephen was confronted by a Christian knocking at his door with a Bible in her hand. He would never be the same again."

So apparently Stevie is cut from the same cloth as John Paulk, the former poster boy of the ex-gay movement who appeared on the cover of Newsweek with his wife and kids and ended up getting caught sneaking into a Washington, D.C., gay bar a few months later (

With leaders like this, it's no wonder the religious reich is so OBSESSED with what two men do with their genitals. It's like setting a pack of cigarettes down in front of a non-smoker. They don't reach for one. They don't start to lick their lips with anticipation. They don't react at all. Set the same pack in front of someone who's quitting smoking and see how long it is before they start to fidget in their seats, their eyes straying back to the forbidden object again and again.

For a good portion of the religious reich's leaders, I'm sure the decision to question SpongeBob's sexual identity (Hey! Here's a clue: Sponges are asexual, you morons!) and accuse him of promoting tolerance for homosexuals must have gone something like this:

"Hmmmm. What's this? ... Oh, it's just a sponge that's a cartoon character. ... Sponges have holes. Things go in holes. Wait! That's like SEX! That's DIRTY! ... But that's OK because sponges wipe up dirt. That's a girl's job. But wait ... he talks like a boy. He must be gay! What's it like to be gay? Why am I thinking about being gay? ...

Oh my God! Save me! This sponge is making me GAY."


Deeds ... not just pretty words

It sounded so nice and, well, "united." Twenty-two gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender organizations (ranging from the Log Cabin Republicans on the right to the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force on the left to the Human Rights Campaign from the whatever the hell its position is these days) got together and drafted a unity statement.

In essence, the statement vowed that the diverse organizations would continue the fight for LGBT equality in the face of continued opposition from the religious reich ... oops! I mean "right" ... who is masquerading as the Republican Party these days.

For a brief, shining moment, it appeared that we were growing up as a movement. The '50s had been a gestation period as groups like the Mattachine Society ( and the Daughters of Bilitis ( took the first hesitant steps out of the womb-like closet. Then came the Stonewall Riots ( in 1969 and the modern American gay right movements was born amid the brutality of New York City cops, the taunts of angry drag queens and the sounds of shattering glass and rocks thudding against riot gear. In the '70s we entered our turbulent adolescence to the throbbing beat of disco music and confused sexual freedom with true freedom. Like misbehaving teenagers who found themselves grounded, the '80s saw many of us sent to our rooms as AIDS was decreed from the pulpit (and frequently from the government) to be the punishment for our wild adolescence excesses. The Clinton era of the '90s saw us emerging and claiming a place at the table. There were gains. There were losses. But on the whole, the gains outnumbered the losses.

Now, faced with a hostile president and Congress and 13 states that have made homophobia an official policy by banning same-sex marriages and civil unions, 22 GLBT organizations forged a statement of unity affirming that they will continue to fight for equality even in the face of such long odds. It had the feel of the founding fathers putting aside their differences and signing the Declaration of Independence, thus thumbing their collective noses at England and overwhelming odds. And we all know how that ended.

Surely victory lies ahead and equality is just around the corner.

Or is it?

From this week's edition of The New York Blade there arose the first rumblings dis-unity as groups that were not part of the original 22 signatories raised objections:

"Gay leaders who were not a part of the unity statement criticized the collaborative document, noting that marriage equality was featured last on the agenda's priority list.

"One gay rights leader went further and said the statement appeared to be political cover for criticism the Human Rights Campaign received last month for what appeared to be a retreat from marriage equality and support for President Bush's efforts to privatize social security.Gay leaders who were not a part of the unity statement criticized the collaborative document, noting that marriage equality was featured last on the agenda's priority list."

Suddenly I get that same queasiness I experience when I watch Matt Crowley's The Boys in the Band ( For those who have never seen the play (or the movie version), it concerns a group of gay men in pre-Stonewall New York who gather to celebrate the birthday of one of the group. Sparks fly between Michael, the host (and poster-boy for self-loathing homosexuals), and just about everyone else in attendance. By the end of the play a tearful Michael bemoans that gay men seem destined to destroy each other.

As an historical "document," The Boys in the Band is a window into who we once were and provides insight into who we sometimes still are. As "entertainment," I always get the feeling I need a good, long shower after watching it.

I get that same feeling when I see cracks in the united front portrayed by the "unity statement." I can understand the reasons put forward by the organizers of the statement; yet, I can also identify with the feelings of those who are taking issue with it. On a smaller scale I've seen the same thing happen here in Kansas City. I'm royally pissed with another GLBT group claims credit or gets publicity for a project a group I'm involved with has been involved with. But when the shoe is on the other foot, I can say, 'Oh, I'm sorry you didn't get to take part in the interview, too' to another group while smugly thinking, Serves you right, you publicity whores.

On the whole, we as a movement have yet to move out of our adolescence. We've had to fight for recognition for so long that if a bit of that recognition goes to another group, we take it as a slap on the face. We tally up and catalogue such insults and when the opportunity arises, we exact a revenge by excluding those who we believe excluded us. A cycle is born and continues. And what Will Rogers once said about Democrats could apply so easily to us: When you tell them to form a firing squad, they stand in a circle.

That's the down side of the unity statement and all the "drama" that it has entailed.

But beyond all the backbiting and cries of "exclusion," there is hope. By getting a diverse groups of GLBT organizations to come together, we really have signed our own Declaration of Independence. We are free and independent now.

Once we were viewed as a bloc that voted almost exclusively Democratic. This allowed the Democratic Party to take us for granted. Witness Bill Clinton's wooing the gay vote in '92 with promises to overturn the military's ban on gays and lesbians. "I have a vision for America and you are part of it," he told us. Once elected, he compromised on the military policy down to the point where the final compromise was little different from the original position ( Then he signed the Defense of Marriage Act. Most recently he encouraged John Kerry to speak out against gay marriage during the 2004 elections as a way of courting rural voters. It seems the attitude of the Democratic Party toward gays has become "We only want to lock you away in the attic like a distant relative we're ashamed of, but the Republicans want to lock you up. So why would you vote for them?"

So now we find ourselves standing alone on the field of battle, two armies of mediocrity on either side of us. But in our solitariness we are free. That independence is out of circumstance and necessity at the moment. And that independence gives us greater power than we ever had before. We can swing close elections by throwing our support not to a party, but to individual candidates who best support our interests - whether they be Democrat, Republican, or a third party. If a major political party wants our support, let them earn it by deeds and not just pretty words.