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.

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

If you're gonna steal, only steal the best

I have a confession to make. Most of us bloggers steal shamelessly. We read someone's thoughts and ideas on a message board or blog and figure we can improve and expand on them. Viola! We have a blog!

I try not to steal too shamelessly. And when I do, I try to make sure that I give credit to the person whose ideas I'm expanding upon, or at least make sure there a link to the original source material.

But sometimes I find an idea so perfect in its presentation, so forthright in its logic, so succinct and profound and meaningful, that it would be a shame to "borrow" little bits of it to be edited into words I could pass off as my own.

Such a case is a "Faith Matters" column on the pending Federal Marriage Amendment being considered next week in the Senate. The column was written for Scripps Howard News Service by David Waters. In a scant 628 words, Waters manages to sum up all that is wrong and hypocritical about the Federal Marriage Amendment ... something I'd be hard-pressed to do in ten times that many words.

So with kudos to David, here's the entire text of his column (including an e-mail address if anyone feels so inclined as to send him an atta boy):

Marriage is under attack, but not by 'them'

We're pouring hundreds of billions of dollars, not to mention thousands of troops, into the quicksand that is Iraq.

Millions of Americans are uninsured or underinsured. Millions more can't afford the health care they need.

Gas prices are hurting every level of government, every business and every individual except the oil barons (in and out of the White House).

The government can't seem to stop spying on us or lying to us.

Our borders are about as secure as a screen door in New Orleans.

Mother Nature is getting hotter and testier with every passing storm.

We've got big problems.

So, naturally, some of our political and religious leaders have something more important on their minds:

Gay marriage.

Must be an election year.

"Today, the institution of marriage is under attack," Sen. Bill Frist, R-Tenn., said a few months ago when he promised to haul the Marriage Protection Amendment _ which defines marriage as a union between one man and one woman _ out of cold storage and up for a vote in early June.

"The danger this betokens for family life and a general condition of social justice and ordered liberty is hard to overestimate," stated a letter sent last week urging Congress to approve the amendment. It was signed by "the Religious Coalition of America," an impressive list of 50 religious leaders, including Rick Warren, James Dobson, Charles Blake and Eugene Rivers, and all eight U.S. Catholic cardinals.

Frist and the "Coalition" are right about one thing. The institution of marriage is under attack, but not by homosexuals.

By heterosexuals.

The percentage of men and women who get married every year is as low as it has ever been in this country.

More than half of all African-American children are living in single-parent homes. Fifty years ago, that figure was 22 percent.

One in five white children are living in single-parent homes. That figure has tripled in the past 50 years.

One in three children in America are born to unwed mothers!

I'm not a fan of exclamation points, but the previous sentence should shock us all.

As any judge, police officer, teacher or president can tell you, children born out of wedlock are more likely to live in poverty, drop out of school, commit crimes, go to jail and father (or mother) children out of wedlock.

"The union of a man and woman is the most enduring human institution, honoring _ honored and encouraged in all cultures and by every religious faith," President Bush said.

"Ages of experience have taught humanity that the commitment of a husband and wife to love and to serve one another promotes the welfare of children and the stability of society."

Bush said that in 2004, the last time politicians used the Marriage Protection Amendment as an election-year distraction.

No doubt the president and the Senate majority leader _ not to mention the 50 black and white ministers who signed the letter "in defense of marriage" _ are seriously concerned about gay marriage.

But if they're serious about protecting the institution of marriage, they should start by figuring out a way to stop straight people from having children out of wedlock.

Require men to marry the mother of their children and to be responsible for their care, or send them to jail.

Require women to marry the father of their children, or take their children and their welfare benefits away from them.

Require all men and women to undergo premarital counseling and parenting training before they can get a marriage license.

Stop obsessing about the specks in the eyes of gay people who want to get married.

First deal with the planks in the eyes of child-bearing straight people who don't.

(Contact columnist David Waters at or by mail at The Commercial Appeal, P.O. Box 334, Memphis, TN 38101.)

OK ... so feeling inspired? Good! Here's what you need to do. Click on this link to the Human Rights Campaign's on-line petition about the Federal Marriage Amendment and let your lawmakers know how you feel.


Monday, May 29, 2006

Collision course: LGBTs next major challenge will come from the Left

Call it "not-so-friendly fire," but the next major obstacle to LGBT equality will come not from the far Right and their religious zealots, but from the Left and portions of the Democratic Party.

Among some Democrats who otherwise call themselves Progressives, there's a snarling, snarky attitude toward LGBT issues that seems to be growing. Oh sure, they aren't quite as venomous as Republicans and their lap dogs in the religious reich. The far Right would prefer concentration ... opps! I mean "re-education" camps. Democrats, meanwhile, will just encourage gays and lesbians to move to the back of the bus.

So what's shrinking the Democrats' "big tent"? It's the convergence of two issues. First, the Democratic Party is terrified of being associated with the idea of "gay marriage" as it was in the 2004 election when Repugnantcans herded their sheep (a.k.a., their base) to the polls with amendments in 11 states banning same-sex marriages. Among some Democrats, LGBTs bore the brunt of responsibility for Kerry's loss. Many Democrats tried to distance themselves from the marriage equality issue. Others made sure LGBTs got the message to shut up and sit down on otherwise politically progressive forums such as Democratic Underground.

After a few months the infighting died down, but it never really was adequately addressed and it certainly never went away.

Enter reason two for the anti-LGBT backlash on the Left. Last month Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean made some major missteps in the eyes of many LGBT Democrats. First he fired his director of LGBT outreach after the man's partner penned an editorial that Dean wasn't doing enough for LGBT issues. Then he appeared on Christian mullah Pat Robertson's odious "The 700 Club" and bungled his own party's 2004 platform by claiming it stated marriage is between a man and a woman only. (For the record, the platform says nothing of the kind. For more information, check out this earlier blog entry.)

LGBT resentment bubbled over and editorials begin showing up in gay publications questioning Dean's ability to lead. Some, like an editorial titled "Time for Howard Dean to resign" from The Washington Blade, took a more blunt approach:

I’ve always been suspicious of his pandering to gay voters when he thought he needed us. It is clear now that he thinks we are a burden on the Democratic Party, and he is moving away from us as fast as he thinks he can get away with it.

To do so is wrong strategically and a betrayal of the party’s ideals. People don’t want wishy-washy statements — they want clear position statements from their politicians and their parties. That is what wins supporters and elections.

So Howard Dean must go.

No sooner did these editorials began to circlate than the Democratic anti-gay backlash began.

The editorial was posted on the LGBT forum on the Democratic Underground - usually a fairly quiet forum populated by LGBTs and their straight allies - and angry "progressives" began to pounce.

The editorial opinion was called "useless" by one straight poster. Another called it "hogwash." Gays and lesbians were accused of disloyalty to the party and the man who brought civil unions to Vermont. (For the record, Dean's action in Vermont was a response to a court order in Baker v. Vermont requiring that the state extend marriage rights to gay couples. The Vermont legislature came up with civil unions as a response, which only satisfied the Court's ruling by technicality, giving gay couples many of the same rights but not the same status. So far from being a hero for gay rights, Dean opted for a compromise position.) Other straight Democrats accused the editorial of being planted by Log Cabin Republicans - the only LGBT folks they can "officially" hate.

Throughout it all, the attitude expressed by the heterosexuals who ventured into the LGBT forum was: "Shut up. You're gonna cost us another election."

And all this in a supposedly "progressive" forum.

Those angry Democrats are what we can expect to face, at least among some segments of the Democratic Party, during the coming election season. They will excuse their own bigotry by claiming at least they aren't Republicans, but their message comes across crystal clear: Move your ass to the back of the bus and don't say a word.

Furthermore, when the Federal Marriage Amendment goes down in defeat (which it is almost certain to do) the Democrats will use it for years to come to claim they've done their job for LGBT rights. In essense, LGBT issues will be stymied. Instead of using their efforts to help LGBT rights progress, the Democrats will claim they've done enough simply by keeping those rights from regressing.

So vote for us, Democrats will say, because we aren't as bad as the other guys. Never mind that you're not making any progress under us. Just sit there at the back of the bus and we'll get around to your issues ... in 2040 ... maybe.

I'm not fully ready to abandon the Democratic Party. There are good Democrats out there. But I no longer trust the leadership of the Party and I no longer believe they have our best interests at heart.

However, I'm not above holding my vote hostage and telling the Party they can either play ball or my vote and my contributions will go to support a third-party candidate.

At a minimum, the LGBT vote makes up 3 percent of the electorate, or about the same size as the Jewish vote. Most of those LGBT voters vote Democrat. In a close election, LGBTs can provide the swing votes as we did with the election of Bill Clinton in 1992. We need to remind the Democratic Paty of that. We need to let them know that we will not take a seat on the back of the bus. And we need to let them know that without our support, the Democratic Party may once again find itself twisting slowly in the wind come election night.


Saturday, May 27, 2006

'X' marks the allegory

It's a pretty safe bet that teenage boys weren't the target audience for "Brokeback Mountain" when it opened late last year. But this weekend many of those teenage boys will be flocking to what is likely to be the gayest movie of the summer: "X-Men: The Last Stand."

Yep. You read that right. The latest installment of the X-Men series is gay, gay, gay. And not in the "that's sooooooo gay" parlance of the young that signifies something is lame. Gay in the sense of "I wish I could quit you, Wolverine."

Since X-Men premiered as a comic book back in 1963, there's been something different about the series. I remember reading X-Men comics back in the late '60s. There was something about the characters that struck me as comforting and oddly relevant - feelings I didn't get from Superman, Spiderman or even Batman and his young sidekick, Robin.

The X-Men spoke to me about being "different" in much the same way that the Disney movie "Dumbo" and Han Christian Anderson's story of The Ugly Duckling equated differentness as specialness in my pre-teen years. The X-Men derived their powers not from being born on another planet or from vast wealth that allowed them to afford bullet-proof outfits, but from mutations. Something within them made them mutants and gave them their powers. For someone just beginning on his own path of being "different," the X-Men universe was a comforting one.

Being gay wasn't something talked about in the '60s, at least not in a positive way. But being different was something that I could relate to. Every month I picked up the latest installment of the X-Men and read it cover to cover in one of the old vinyl-upholstered booths at Parsons' Drug Store ... usually while sipping a cherry phosphate.

Gradually I gave into the peer pressure to put aside comic books as "kid stuff" and move on to other pursuits. Then in 2000 the first X-Men movie came out and what was a vague undertone in the comics of my youth announced itself loud and clear in the movie. Take, for example, this line from the anti-mutant villian, Sen. Kelly: "Now I think the American people deserve the right to decide if they want their children to be in school with mutants. To be taught by mutants! Ladies and gentlemen, the truth is that mutants are very real, and that they are among us. We must know who they are, and above all, what they can do!" It doesn't take much imagination to replace "mutant" with "gay" and hear that same line (or ones even more vehement) that are delivered against LGBT people in the pulpits and houses of political power on an almost daily basis.

The second film, "X-Men United," came out in 2003 the gay subtext moved even closer to the surface. There was even a "coming out" scene when Bobby Drake, a.k.a. Iceman, comes out to his parents as a mutant. His mother responds with "Well, have you ever tried not being a mutant?" Now there's a scene most of us can identify with.

Now comes the third installment, "X-Men: The Last Stand," that features a plot line ripped out of the headlines. A vaccine is invented to "cure" the mutants. Think of this as the ultimate "ex-gay" therapy. The idea of being just like everyone else is tempting to some, such as Rogue whose touch can be deadly. (Would this mark Rogue as a self-loathing mutant?) But others proudly defend their right to be openly mutant.

The character of Storm (Halle Berry) is given this gem of a gay ... oops, I mean mutant pride line to deliver: "There's nothing to cure, nothings wrong with any of us for that matter."

Adding to the "mutant as metaphor for gay" subtext of the X-Men films is the openly gay director of the first two movies, Bryan Singer. The third film in the series is directed by Brett Ratner, presumably so Singer was freed up to direct "Superman Returns" which opens later this summer (and begs the question of whether the latest film incarnation of the Man of Steel will contain any gay subtext). Singer, incidently, will turn his attention to a film that doesn't disguise its gay material under super hero uniforms next year when he directs the long-delayed version of Randy Shilts' "The Mayor of Castro Street" about the life and death of openly gay San Francisco Supervisor Harvey Milk.

So until "The Mayor of Castro Street" opens next year with a story of a real life hero, we'll have to content ourselves with tales of fictional superheroes with a gay subtext hidden beneath - just barely beneath - the surface with the latest X-Men movie.

And maybe, just maybe, the some of the teenage boys who will turn out in droves to see this weekend's release of "X-Men: The Last Stand" will have the proverbial light bulb go on right above their heads that the classmates they call "faggot" are a whole lot like the mutant superheroes they cheer on the screen.

Maybe they'll also get the idea that it's not a good idea to pick on the faggots 'cause you never know which of them might have some kick-ass super powers, too.


Monday, May 22, 2006

Freddie Phelps' l'il cult of hate gets egg on its face ... among other places

You know it just had to happen. Someone was going to get fed up with Fred Phelps and his cult of inbred followers from Topeka's Westboro Baptist Church.

And sure enough, someone did!

From an Associated Press account of yet another one of Phelps' funeral demonstations - this one in the small town of Seaford, Delaware (population 6,000 or so) which has lost two young men in Iraq in less than two weeks:

Police were seen making several arrests and the state police helicopter had to be called into disperse the crowd after a clash Sunday in Seaford between a handful of anti-gay Kansas church members and hundreds of demonstrators supporting the American military.

Members of the Westboro Baptist Church came to Seaford’s Gateway Park to demonstrate before the funeral for Marine Corporal Cory Palmer, who died earlier this month from injuries suffered in Iraq. The group believes God is punishing America for being too tolerant of homosexuals by killing soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan.

But they were far outnumbered by troop-supporting demonstrators. Some broke through police barricades, hurling insults and chicken eggs onto the anti-homosexual demonstrators.

As a Seaford volunteer fire company van came to pick the Kansas based group up, eggs and bottles were thrown at the fleeing group and then the crowd broke the police lines again, shattering the windows in the van.

Stephanie Hansen, a lawyer for the town of Seaford says the town did everything it could to protect the group.

Let me preface what I'm about to say by noting that I'm not an advocate of violence, but ...

Go, Seaford!

It's about friggin' time someone said "The hell with the First Amendment, you boil on the ass of humanity! You crossed the line of simple human decency long ago ... and now we're going to kick your ass!"

Phelps and his followers - mostly family members and those who have had the misfortune or poor taste to marry into the clan - will no doubt use the incident to play victim and cry about how persecuted they are as simple God-fearin', Bible-believin' Christians. Poor Fred! The only sympathy he gets from me is not from being pelted with eggs and bottles, but from being so tragically wrong about the meaning of the word "Christian."

A disbarred lawyer himself, Fred has made sure most of offspring from his withered loins went to law school. A good portion of the Phelps phamily phortune comes from cases the family has won against those who oppose him. No doubt he'll probably try to sue the town of Seaford for failing to protect his little band of cretins and miscreants. We can only hope that this time the judicial system has had enough of Fred's antics and tells him to stuff a sock in it because his funeral protests are reprehensible. Likewise, I hope the five people arrested for going after the Phelpses have their cases dismissed and are welcomed back into the community with a parade.

Finally, it looks like America is getting fed up with Fred.

"Victimhood" and potential lawsuits aside, I truly hope that as the crowd broke through police lines and rushed the demonstrators that the Phelpses experienced a moment of pure terror at the thought that they might be pulled to pieces at the hands of a mob. The only thing that could have made the moment more perfect would be if the Phelpses cried out in unison to whatever perverted version of God they pray to only to be answered by a loud, booming voice from above saying, "Go get them, Seaford!"

And on a personal note, I'm hoping Freddie and his freak show plans a trip to Kansas City soon. If they do, I'll make sure to visit the local dog park before hand. Eggs are expensive and bottles are recyclable. But a fresh pile of steaming dog shit is free and makes a much more powerful statement about Phelps and his family.


Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Tony Snow gets 'tarred' and feathered

By the time I got home from work today I had two e-mails from friends and acquaintances informing me that "Tony Snow used a racial slut in the first full press conference today!" By the time I'd fixed dinner and sat back down at the computer, I'd received three more e-mail variations on the same "Tony Snow is a racist" theme.

While all the e-mails differed slightly, on two points they all seemed to agree. First, Tony Snow, the former FOX News (or as I prefer "Faux News") anchor and newly appointed White House press secretary used the term "tar baby" today. Second, there was a preponderance of exclamation points in the e-mails to drive home the point of outrage over the use of a racially charged word!!!!!!!!!!!!

A couple of the e-mails even attached copies of White House transcripts of the press conference. These transcripts did, indeed, show that Snow did use the phrase "tar baby." Here's what he said:

Q: You might repeat the same thing, but why not declassify this? I mean, the President did talk about the surveillance program a day after The New York Times broke that story. This would seem to affect far more people, and it did sound like the President was confirming that story today. He was answering Terry's question --

MR. SNOW: Well, if you go back -- if you go back and you look through what he said, there was a reference to foreign-to-domestic calls. I am not going to stand up here and presume to declassify any kind of program. That is a decision the President has to make. I can't confirm or deny it. The President was not confirming or denying.

Again, I would take you back to the USA Today story, simply to give you a little context. Look at the poll that appeared the following day. While there was -- part of it said 51 percent of the American people opposed, if you look at when people said, if there is a roster of phone numbers, do you feel comfortable that -- I'm paraphrasing and I apologize -- but something like 64 percent of the polling was not troubled by it. Having said that, I don't want to hug the tar baby of trying to comment on the program -- the alleged program -- the existence of which I can neither confirm nor deny.

Later in the press conference, a reporter asked Snow to clarify his "hug a tar baby" remarks and this was the explaination he gave: "Well, I believe hug the tarbaby, we could trace that back to American lore."

The Left was ecstatic! In his first press briefing, Snow, the smarmy, smirking epitome of all thing FOX (which means "all things Republican") had been publicly unmasked as a (GASP!) racist! The exclamation points began to fly!!!!!!!!!!!! And so did the explanations that "tar baby" was a racist term for African-American babies ... sort of a younger version of "pick-a-ninnies" which was a racist term for black children after they passed toddlerhood ... and so on and so forth up until "the N-word" apparently kicked in at adulthood.

The somewhat more moderate Left pointed out that "tar baby" was from the Uncle Remus tales in which Br'er Fox makes a baby out of sticky tar and uses it to catch Br'er Rabbit. Aforesaid rabbit encounters the tar baby and, infuriated that the baby doesn't speak when addressed, slugs it and gets stuck to the tar. That's a slightly more benign explanation of the term, but the Uncle Remus tales (along with such children's "classics" as Little Black Sambo) have fallen into disfavor for being racially insensitive.

So take your pick. Tony Snow is either:

A) A racist; or

B) Racially insensitive.

Internet savvy bloggers quickly discovered that today's press briefing wasn't the frist time Snow has used the objectionable term. Back in 1999, Snow offered this piece of commentary about Kosovo: "Most congressional Republicans are guilty of appalling cynicism and silence. They figure Clinton has hugged the tar baby in the Balkans and they want to watch him writhe."

But while Googling "tar baby" you can also find some other columnist and pundits who have made reference to tar babies. And not all of them are FOX News commentators ... or even conservatives.

Here's this from U.S. Reppresentative Diane Watson of California: "The Bush administration now faces the danger of adopting by default a so-called “tar baby” option, where the more the U.S. tries to disengage itself from Iraq, the more bogged down it becomes."

And this from former CBS News anchor Dan Rather interviewing Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld: "Mr. Secretary, just this week there have been quotes in the paper, rank and file Americans, saying are we into a tar baby situation?"

Or this from liberal author Jim Kunstler's blog, Clusterfuck Nation: " This whole spectacle -- both the inept war itself and our debate about it here at home -- is particularly shameful for the official opposition, my party, the Democrats, because we could be talking about the so-called elephant-in-the-room, namely how we live in America and the tragic choices we've made, and the things we might do to change that -- but the party leadership is too brain-dead or craven to do that. As long as we don't, we're going to be wrassling a tarbaby in the Middle East."

Or even former Republican diva-turned-liberal Arianna Huffington who wrote: "According to the latest Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll, 57 percent of Americans are opposed to investing the time and money needed to rebuild Iraq. But the Democrats sit idly by, their thumbs otherwise engaged, while the administration's Iraqi tar baby grows stickier by the day."

Let's face it, we on the Left can't lob sticks and stones at Tony Snow unless we are willing to toss some friendly fire at our own compatriots.

As a spokesman for the Bush Administration, Snow showed incredibly poor judgement in his choice of words.

Is Tony Snow a racist? I doubt it. Did he make a stupid choice of words? Yes ... and so did Huffington, Rather and the rest. They all should have been called on it.

Despite my loathing for Tony Snow and the administration he represents, I'm not ready to call for him to be tarred and feathered over his tar baby remark. But I do hope he do better next time.

Tony's a smart guy. I'm sure he knows lots of big words. Lots of words would convey the point he was trying to make better than "tar baby." Like the word "quagmire," for instance.

Oh, wait. He wouldn't dare use that word for fear the press would believe he was making reference to the Iraq war.


Thursday, May 11, 2006

Born with two left feet in his mouth

Back during the keynote address at the 1988 Democratic convention then-Texas State Treasurer Ann Richards skewered the sometimes upper-crust but less-than-elegant speaking style of George H.W. Bush (a.k.a. "Bush the Elder") by describing him as "born with a silver foot in his mouth." Perhaps Republicans now have a target they can aim similar vitrile at in the person of Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean who seems to have been born with two left feet in his mouth.

Let's face it. It hasn't been a good week to be Howard.

First there was the dustup over his firing of the DNC's gay outreach adviser Donald Hitchcock less than a week after Hancock's partner, Paul Yandura, accused Dean of not doing enough to promote the cause of gay equality. You can read about the firing here and read Yandura's remarked that reportedly prompted the firing here.

Though Dean denies it, the firing has all the earmarks of retaliation. Barely had the dust begun to settle in that skirmish when Dean found himself in trouble once again with LBGT Democrats who are among the party's most consistent Democratic voters.

This time Dean has stepped in an even bigger pile of steaming political doo-doo. In what was supposed to be an effort to woo disaffected conservative voters, Dean made an appearance on fun-D'uh-Mental-ist whack-job and uber-conservative Pat Robertson's "The 700 Club." During his interview, Dean stated that "the Democratic Party platform from 2004 says marriage is between a man and a woman." Governor Dean went on to point out that Democrats seek to respect and provide equal legal protections to all families.

Depending on one's personal views, Dean was either: a) "mispeaking" in the style of the White House's current occupant; b) outright lying for the benefit of the fundie followers of Robertson; or c) had been sucking on a crack pipe just prior to his appearance.

For the record, here's the exact wording of the Democratic 2004 platform on the issue of gay rights and marriage equality:

"We support full inclusion of gay and lesbian families in the life of our nation and seek equal responsibilities, benefits, and protections for these families. In our country, marriage has been defined at the state level for 200 years, and we believe it should continue to be defined there. We repudiate President Bush's divisive effort to politicize the Constitution by pursuing a 'Federal Marriage Amendment.' Our goal is to bring Americans together, not drive them apart."

No reference to "one man and one woman." In fact, the platform even goes so far as to repudiate Bush's Federal Marriage Amendment proposal.

Reaction from LGBT organizations was swift.

The National Stonewall Democrats released a statement saying: "Our founders created a federal system that allows individual states the freedom to develop policy for their own families as they see fit. Democrats do not believe that the federal government should forcefully dictate family policy for individual states, as championed by congressional Republicans and the Bush Administration. Therefore, we strongly point out that Governor Dean incorrectly spoke when stating that the 2004 Democratic Party platform defines marriage as between a man and a woman."

From the Human Rights Campaign's Director Joe Solmonese: "Governor Dean's comments weren't a mere slip of the tongue but a glaring reminder of the governor's lack of leadership on this issue. As we face a Senate vote in June that threatens to put discrimination in our Constitution, Governor Dean should not only have known better but he should have used the opportunity to speak out about the lack of values involved in the current constitutional debate."

The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force went so for as to return a $5,000 contribution from the Democratic National Committee. In the Task Force statement, Executive Director Matt Foreman said: "Governor Dean's record on lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender issues since becoming DNC chair has been sorely and sadly lacking. The Democratic Party chair should stand by and fight for the party's own platform and values. In light of Governor Dean's pandering and insulting interview today with the Christian Broadcasting Network, we have decided to return the DNC's recent $5,000 contribution to us. We do so with great sadness, knowing that the Democratic Party has long been a champion of our rights."

Caught between a rock and a hard-headed fundie, Dean issued the following statement:

"I misstated the Democratic Party's platform, which does not say that marriage should be limited to a man and a woman, but says the Party is committed to full inclusion of gay and lesbian families in the life of our nation and leaves the issue to the states to decide," he said in a statement.

"The Democratic Party remains committed to equal protection under the law for all Americans. How we achieve that goal continues to be the subject of a contentious debate, but our Party continues to oppose constitutional amendments that seek to short circuit the debate on how to achieve equality for all Americans."

So let's recap, shall we?

Former presidential candidate Howard Dean enjoyed a great amount of support from the LGBT community. Under Dean's governorship, Vermont became the first state in the nation to offer civil unions for same-sex partners. He parlayed his popularity - and LGBT support played a large part in that popularity - into his successful bid to become chairman of the DNC. His elevation to that post was deemed a victory for the liberal wing of the Democratic Party ... and a defeat for the moderate, pro-business, socially conservative portion of the party represented by groups like the Democratic Leadership Council.

Safely installed in the ivory tower chairmanship of the Democratic National Committee, Dean embarks on a mission of being all things to all people. This leads him to an appearance on Pat Robertson's odious "The 700 Club" in which he tries to court religious conservatives who feel disenfranchised by the Bush Administration into the Democratic Party's "big tent."

Oops! I guess to accommodate all those fundies just looking for a chance to break ranks with Republicans and sign up for the Democratic Party, Dean had to kick the LGBT community out of the other side of the big tent.

When called on his actions by LGBT folks (who are disproportionately Democrats, by the way), Dean issues a less than satisfying mea culpa:

"I misstated the Democratic Party's platform, which does not say that marriage should be limited to a man and a woman, but says the Party is committed to full inclusion of gay and lesbian families in the life of our nation and leaves the issue to the states to decide," he said in a statement.

"The Democratic Party remains committed to equal protection under the law for all Americans. How we achieve that goal continues to be the subject of a contentious debate, but our Party continues to oppose constitutional amendments that seek to short circuit the debate on how to achieve equality for all Americans."
Now it's the fundies' turn to say See? We knew he was lyin'! We jes' knew Guv'ner Dean supported that dang homo-seck-shul agenda!

End result? The fundies Dean was trying to woo can't trust him. The LGBT community who would normally be natural allies with Dean and the Democrats can't trust him. In a matter of days Dean manages to piss off both ends of the political spectrum.

Way to go, Howie. I'm sure somewhere Karl Rove is dancing a little fairy jig and thinking I couldn't have sown the seeds if division any better myself!

With friends like Howie, the LGBT community doesn't really need any enemies.


Sunday, May 07, 2006

Is there anything this guy won't lie about?

American author and humorist Mark Twain once observed, "There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies and statistics."

Twain's quip, it seems, has become outdated. Because he died in 1910, Twain wasn't around to meet George W. Bush, a man he would certainly have added as a whole new category of liar.

This isn't going to be one of those blogs about how Bush lied and misrepresented intelligence data to get us involved in an unwinnable war in Iraq. Nor even about the myriad other issue in which Bush stands accused of bending the truth into a pretzel. Instead, it's a blog about how Bush can't even seem to tell the truth on inconsequential matters on which the fate of the free world doesn't turn.

When as during an interview with a German magazine about his best moment as president, Bush said this:

U.S. President George W. Bush told a German newspaper his best moment in more than five years in office was catching a big perch in his own lake.

"You know, I've experienced many great moments and it's hard to name the best," Bush told weekly Bild am Sonntag when asked about his high point since becoming president in January 2001.

"I would say the best moment of all was when I caught a 7.5 pound (3.402 kilos) perch in my lake," he told the newspaper in an interview published on Sunday.

When you think about it, it actually seems sort of human ... George W. Bush as the common man, bearing the weight of the world on his slumping shoulders but still finding time to cast a line into the farm pond on his Texas ranch. It's a rather bucolic portrait of a man who wants to show he hasn't lost his common touch.

But dig a little deeper and you find that, like Bush, his fvorite memory is a steaming pile of bullshit.

Check out the web site Catch Photo Release and you'll find a listing of record-setting catches. Here's what it said about the record for perch, the type of fish Bush claims to have caught in his farm pond:

This species lives in schools in deeper water during the day and is known to move into shallower water at dusk to feed. It is also often harvested commercially in the US and Canada. Yellow perch spawn when the water is between 45 and 52 degrees and don't build nests or guard their young. They have also been known to go into water that contains little or no oxygen for short periods of time to feed on bloodworms.

Yellow Perch World Record is 4lbs 3oz - Bordentown, NJ

White Perch World Record is 4lbs 12oz - Messalonskee Lake, ME

So here are the possible explanations. Either Bush is such a humble man that he fails to report that he caught a perch almost twice the size of the world's record or he can't event tell the truth about a fishing trip.

I'll leave it for the reader to decide which explanation is the most plausible; but for me I would update Twain's adage to read: "There are four types of liars in this world: liars, damned liars, statisticians and George W. Bush."


Saturday, May 06, 2006

An open letter to Mary Cheney

Dear Mary,

It's been almost 48 hours since I watched you being interviewed by Diane Sawyer Thursday on ABC's "Primetime." Your performance (and I fail to come up with any word other than "performance" to describe it) still causes my blood pressure to rise and my stomach acids churn.

I can deal with you being a Republican. I don't agree with your decision, but it is, after all, your decision.

What I can't deal with is your complete apathy toward issues that affect those of us who don't come from wealthy families in positions of authority.

I'm glad you felt secure enough to come out to your family. And I'm glad that, even through their tears, they accepted you. Not all of us are that lucky. Some of us have been thrown out by families who can't accept who we are. Some of us are estranged from our families for years. Some of us are never able to bridge the chasm with the families whose love is conditional on us being heterosexual.

If the interview showed you had one shred of self-respect, it was when you admitted there was a time during the 2004 presidential campaign (in which your political party used people just like you and your partner to scare conservative voters to the polls with the boogieman of gays and lesbians threatening "traditional marriage") you considered leaving the campaign.

But you didn't.

You hid behind mommie and daddie and when John Kerry mentioned you when asked during the debates if being gay was a choice, your parents feigned indignation and said Kerry was a bad man for "outing" you before the entire nation. (Never mind that you had been out for years while working for Coors Brewing Company marketing its swill to gay and lesbian consumers. And never mind that your parents said nothing when Republican presidential candidate Alan Keyes called you a sinner and a hedonist.)

When Diane Sawyer asked if you would still be a Republican if your father wasn't the vice president, you avoided answering by saying you "don't answer hypothetical questions." That's a cowardly cop-out.

Likewise, you hedged on answering if you would still support the Bush administration if your father wasn't on the ticket. Your answer: "I think he's a very good man. On these {GLBT} issues, he hasn't caught up." Well, d'uh! And no doubt he won't ever catch up if there are LGBT people around him who don't speak up.

Perhaps the most disheartening part of the interview was when you mentioned that Bush offered to give you time to let you give a public statement in disagreement, and your father indicated publicly he disagreed with his boss on the issue. You declined the offer.

Now there's an opportunity that 99.99999999 percent of us will never, NEVER have. And you passed it up. You could have be brave and let the Republican Party know that not only are their LGBT members among them, but that their anti-gay policies hurt families and individuals.

I guess it was just too easy to hide behind mommie and daddie. And their money. And their connections.

You don't have to worry about losing your job for being a lesbian. It was your connections that helped you land a well-paying job with America Online. I seriously doubt Steve Case will show up at your office some Friday afternoon and request you to clean out your office because you're a lesbian. And even if he does, you could trade your family name for a position at any number of other companies that would be more than happy to cash in on the name "Cheney" in their roster of employees.

You don't have to fear like most of the rest of us who work in areas where we can be fired simply for who we are. Those kinds of rights don't concern you because your family name insulates you from what the rest of us in the real world go through.

Then to top it all off you mentioned that you and Heather Poe, your partner of 14 years, have no need for marriage. "Well, from my perspective," you told Diane Sawyer, "Heather and I already are married. We have built a home and a life together. Um, I hope I get to spend the rest of my life with her. The way I look at it, is we're just waiting for state and federal law to catch up with us."

So in other words you sit on your rich, priveleged white ass and let the rest of us do the work so that one day the laws change and perhaps you and Heather can have an extravagent wedding.

I have no use for people like you, Mary Cheney. Because you've lived a priveleged life, you don't see the struggles of others who are just like you except they were born into families who don't have political power. No one can control what sort of families they are born into, but they can damn well develop a sense of empathy with what other people are going through.

Most of us don't bring home six-figure salaries. Most of us don't have powerful parents. Most of us don't have the contacts to publish our stories with major publishing houses like you have done with your book, Now it's My Turn. And most of us don't have to go through such tortured logic and arguments to justify why we can align ourselves with a political party who has declared itself our enemy.

Maybe one day you and Heather will have the privelege of getting married. But one thing is certain ... you've done nothing to earn that right.