Summer versus winter!! Very different. The shoreline to the left in each photo is Long Point, which divides the lake almost about 1/2 way across - the largest part of the lake is on the other side of the point from where our house. These shots are of the left portion shown in the wider photo I posted earlier.
Saturday, November 03, 2007
Virginia is such a wonderful place. I mean, where else can you run for office, not address the real issues confronting the state, and just demonize your opponent and other citizens. Virginia State Senate candidate Jill Holtzman Vogel has joined other GOP sleaze bags and a mailer, with anti-gay and anti-Muslim overtones, is being sent by the Republican Party of Virginia on behalf of her campaign. The cards were sent to arrive in mailboxes less than one week prior to election day, November 6th, and after the endorsements of the areas largest papers. PageOneQ has the following highlights (http://pageoneq.com/news/2007/Republican_Party_sends_last_minute_antigay_antiMus_1102.html):
The mailer attacks Vogel's opponent Karen Schultz, criticizing her "liberal record" and usage of "image consultants" and "slick mailings." It goes on to highlight other candidates her consulting firm has supported, specifically writing about a Muslim man and a lesbian woman. Holtzman Vogel is running on a "pro-family" platform to represent Virginia's 27th district in the State Senate, garnering the support of the Virginia Conservative Action PAC and Laurie Letourneau, founder of Mass Voices for Traditional Marriage during her residence in Massachusetts. Letourneau left Massachusetts after it affirmed equal marriage rights for same-sex couples.
Meanwhile, Holtzman Vogel's husband Alex's lobbying firm has been paid $510,000 in the past three years, according to the US Senate's US Lobby Registration & Reporting Disclosure Page, lobbying for LGBT-friendly media giant Viacom.
I had an e-mail exchange some time back with Ms. Letourneau, and believe me, the woman needs serious medication. If Holtzman Vogel is in bed with Letourneau, she is a nut job herself.
On a related note, I previously posted about a GOP candidate that was misleading voters on his opponent's position on sex education. When I challenged the Republican Party of Virginia on it, I was advised by RPV via e-mail to my office e-mail address that (1) the mailer was "accurate factually," which it was not and (2) that the "sentiments accurately reflected the opinion of the members of the GOP in Virginia." Why the Log Cabin Republicans continue to work for a party that would happily exterminate them baffles me. The only way this crap will end is to have the GOP utterly crushed to a minority status so that either the Party ditches the wingnuts and Christianist or it remains in the minority permanently.
Oh goody! If hired mercenaries were not enough, Blackwater is expanding it service to include spies for hire. According to the Washington Post, The Prince Group, the holding company that owns Blackwater Worldwide, has been building an operation that will sniff out intelligence about natural disasters, business-friendly governments, overseas regulations and global political developments for clients in industry and government. So are the Chimperator and Emperor Palpatine Cheney using them here in the U.S. to spy on would be terrorists (i.e. anyone the Chimperator doesn't like or deems to be a threat in his never-never land of warped reality)? It truly would not surprise me. And I wonder how many bloggers are on Chimpy's enemies list.Here are story highlights (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/11/02/AR2007110202165.html?hpid=topnews):
The operation, Total Intelligence Solutions, has assembled a roster of former spooks -- high-ranking figures from agencies such as the CIA and defense intelligence -- that mirrors the slate of former military officials who run Blackwater. Its chairman is Cofer Black, the former head of counterterrorism at CIA known for his leading role in many of the agency's more controversial programs, including the rendition and interrogation of al-Qaeda suspects and the detention of some of them in secret prisons overseas.
They have the skills and background to do anything anyone wants," said RJ Hillhouse, who writes a national security blog called The Spy Who Billed Me. "There's no oversight. They're an independent company offering freelance espionage services. They're rent-a-spies." Black and Richer spend much of their time traveling. They won't say where. It's a CIA thing. Black called at midnight recently to talk about Total Intel from "somewhere in the Middle East."
When I first saw this headline, my immediate thought was: OMG, Bush and Cheney have staged a coup and are seeking set up a dictatorship!!!!
Then I saw that it was a story about Pakistan. Obviously, if Pakistan is on the verge of having all Hell break loose, the mess in the Middle East created by the Chimperator will get even worse. Funny how I thought Chimpy said our goal was to develop democracy. This does not sound like that to me. Here are Fox News highlights:
ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — Gen. Pervez Musharraf declared a state of emergency in Pakistan on Saturday ahead of a crucial Supreme Court ruling on his future as president, suspending the constitution, replacing the chief justice and cutting communications in the capital. Pakistan's main opposition leader, Benezir Bhutto, flew back to the country from Dubai after visiting family and was sitting in an airplane at Karachi's airport, waiting to see if she would be arrested or deported, a spokesman said. Reports said around 100 paramilitary troops surrounded her house.
Seven Supreme Court judges immediately came out against the emergency, which suspended the current constitution. Police blocked entry to the Supreme Court building and later took the chief justice and other judges away in a convoy, witnesses said. "The chief of army staff has proclaimed a state of emergency and issued a provisional constitutional order," a newscaster on state Pakistan TV said, adding that Musharraf would address the nation later Saturday. The government halted all television transmissions in major cities other than state-controlled Pakistan TV. Telephone service in the capital, Islamabad, was cut.
A copy of the emergency order obtained by The Associated Press justified the declaration on the grounds that "some members of the judiciary are working at cross purposes with the executive" and "weakening the government's resolve" to fight terrorism. The U.S. and other Western allies urged Musharraf this week not to declare martial law or an emergency that would jeopardize the country's transition to democracy. Crucial parliamentary elections meant to restore civilian rule are due by January.
The emergency was expected to be followed by arrests of lawyers and other perceived opponents of the government, including civil society activists and possibly even members of the judiciary itself, a ruling party lawmaker said on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue. Private Geo TV reported that the president of the Supreme Court Bar Association, Aitzaz Ahsan, had been arrested. He was a lawyer for Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammed Chaudhry, whom Musharraf tried and failed to oust this spring, sparking a popular movement against military rule. Geo also reported that the chief justice had been told that "his services were no longer required."
I hope this story (http://content.hamptonroads.com/story.cfm?story=136132&ran=237314&tref=po) plays out and Jim Gilmore does in fact run against Mark Warner for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by John Warner. Gilmore left office as an unpopular Governor in contrast to Mark Warner who left with a roughly 70% approval rating. In fact one reason that Mark Earley did not succeed in being elected as Governor and lost to Mark Warner was because Earley, a former law partner of mine, did not sufficiently disavow and repudiate some of Gilmore's unpopular positions. In fact, when I first met Mark Warner as Governor, it was at the Equality Virginia Legislative Reception during Mark Warner's first year in office. Needless to say, people found it humorous that I had switched parties since Gilmore had appointed me to a state authority and I had been Earley's campaign co-chair in Virginia Beach. But I digress. Here are highlights from the story:
A long-brewing confrontation between Virginia's past two governors appears certain to be played out before voters next year, as Democrat Mark Warner and Republican Jim Gilmore move toward a show down for the U.S. Senate. Warner, 52, announced his candidacy in September. Gilmore, 58, is expected to toss in his hat before Thanksgiving, according to several of his political advisers. "These men don't like each other, they don't respect each other, and there should be a lot of fireworks,Gilmore and Warner are different in style and substance.
Gilmore, the son of a Richmond meat cutter, is proud of his working-class roots. He is blunt, conservative, highly partisan and confrontational. Warner, the son of an insurance man, made a $200 million personal fortune in cellular phones and technology investments. He is a cautious dealmaker who prides himself on building bipartisan coalitions." said Stephen Farnsworth, a political scientist at the University of Mary Washington.
Gilmore has billed himself as an expert in assessing terrorism. He points to his chairmanship of a federal commission on homeland security that issued a 1999 report warning that the nation was vulnerable to a terrorist attack. He was governor when the Pentagon, in Northern Virginia, was attacked on Sept. 11, 2001. He still serves on public and private think tanks that recommend policies for combating terrorism. As a presidential candidate, Gilmore pledged to oppose new taxes and take conservative stands on social issues. He said the nation needs to maintain a strong effort in Iraq.
Warner has not yet staked out positions on some national and international issues. Warner starts the race as the frontrunner. A poll by The Washington Post last month showed him leading Gilmore 61 percent to 31 percent. After announcing his Senate candidacy on Sept. 13, he raised more than $1 million in campaign donations in the second half of the month.
Barring something terrible happening, Mark Warner should be able to defeat Gilmore. I have known Gilmore since law school, and believe me, Mark Warner is who we need in the U.S. Senate, not Jim Gilmore. In addition to being the weaker individual for a Senate position, Gilmore would be a Christianist tool - I suspect he's already received a pledge of money from Pat Robertson.
I am safely arrived in Charlottesville after an uneventful drive with incredibly no delays on the Interstate. Surprisingly, there is still not that much color in the leaves since the month of October was warmer than usually. Much to my surprise, UVA managed to beat Wake Forest in the home football game today, which must have been great: perfect weather and UVA pulling it out. Meanwhile the Montepelier Races were held today at Montpelier, home of James Madison. I did not go, but my sister said it was gorgeous. The races - which include steeplechase and flat track events - were started many decades ago by Marion DuPont Scott, who was an heir to the DuPont fortune and also married to classic era film star Randolph Scott. I understand that some of the local vineyards, including Barboursville (my favorite) had displays at the races.
Before driving up, I went by the doctor's office and was put on a steroid that will hopefully rid me of my itching and the hive like welts. At this point, all test indicate that I do not have the serious blood disease first suspected. Rather, it is thought to be some allergic reaction combined with extreme stress: (1) the divorce war - more hearings are set for next Friday morning, including on my motion to set aside the interim property settlement opinion due to the judge's anti-gay bias - and (2) worry about the firm cash flow with the residential real estate business near dead except for investor clients. In short, I guess I will be blogging for a while longer.
On the way up, I spoke with my oldest daughter for the the first time in many months (I wanted to tell her the further medical news) and it was very friendly and, needless to say, I am VERY happy. I will be seeing my younger daughter tomorrow when I pass through Richmond on the way back to Norfolk. I do not think either of them know how much talking to them lights up my day.
I will post more later tonight after my mom goes to bed. For now, I wanted to post the above thoughts and also to display the photo set out above. It is a view looking across the lake from our family summer home on Brantingham Lake in the Adirondack Mountains in Northern New York State. Those who have read early posts about me growing up know how much the summer house and my summer friends meant to me. It was one place I excelled in water sports - slalom water skiing, swimming and sailing - and did not get mocked for being a non-athlete in football, etc. My brother was up at the camp - the local terminology - in October and took some great photos that he downloaded to my mom's computer. (When my lap top died a few months ago, I lost hundreds of photos that had not been backed up to another hard drive).
Friday, November 02, 2007
The results of the poll on the "Male Beauty" posts was running 67% in favor of keeping the posts. Therefore, I will continue to mix them in with serious and other posts. I also moved the Neopod down on the blog since some said the novelty had worn off. Until the trial period is over, I will keep it since to me it interesting to see how varied the locations of visitors can be within a period of only a few hours.
I will be traveling to Charlottesville tomorrow to visit my Mom for the weekend, so my access to the computer will be limited. I will try to post when possibly, but can make no promises. Her internet service is a bit crazy since she lives outside of town. The weather will hopefully be decent since Hurricane Noel will be directly offshore. Currently, we are not supposed to get much ran since the storm is expected to stay a considerable distance offshore. Winds are supposed to be in the 50 MPH range.
I was looking over a web site searching for more "male beauty" shots and ended up having an e-mail exchange with a photographer, Adam Bouska (see: http://www.adambouska.com/). Adam also has a blog that I will link to in the future. I have his phone number and may do an interview and post the results. One of his photos is at left.
The " Rev." Fred W. Phelps Sr., is truly a nasty character and I find him personally reprehensible. Thus, I was pleased to see that his "church" was hit with a $10+ million judgment from a case arising out of the picketing of the funeral of an Iraq War victim. What is interesting is to hear the straight solder's family basically saying what the LGBT community has said about Phelps for years. Here are highlights from a New York Times story ( http://www.nytimes.com/2007/11/02/us/02protest.html?_r=1&oref=slogin):
BALTIMORE, Nov. 1 —After a year and a half of anger, grief and legal maneuvering, the father of a marine killed in Iraq has said the success of his suit against a fundamentalist sect that picketed his son’s funeral means more than the jury’s $10.9 million damage award on Tuesday.
“If I can take whatever they have and stop them, good,” said the father, Albert Snyder, 52, a salesman from York, Pa., whose son, Lance Cpl. Matthew A. Snyder, 20, was killed two months after arriving in Iraq in January 2006. “I was not motivated by money. I want to shut this church down, if you can call it a church. I call it a cult or a hate group. I sat in that courtroom for a week and a half and never once heard them say a good thing about God.”
Mr. Snyder said he hoped that other military families whose relatives have been picketed would take his victory in Federal District Court here as a signal to step forward. “I had seen them do it to another family,” Mr. Snyder said, “and it brought back all the bad memories. I don’t even know how I got the courage to do it. I was like the papa bear: ‘You can do anything to me, but don’t try to do it to my children.’ Those people tarnished Matt’s coffin.” Mr. Snyder said his only hope was to cripple the church financially.
One does have to wonder why most of what one hears coming out of the mouths of "Christians" nowadays is mostly hate and the demonization of others. Not exactly what Jesus preached.
No doubt some of the Christianist will have their panties in a wad over the addition of a gay couple to the Desperate Housewives character line up, even though I am sure the show is already on their "condemned list." My feeling is that the more gay characters there are on television - especially in rolls that show we are basically like everyone else - the better. Here's what USA Today reports on the new characters:
[T]hey may be the most unconventionally conventional gay couple on broadcast television. The relationship of Bob (One Life to Live's Tuc Watkins) and Lee (Judging Amy's Kevin Rahm) is less than idyllic. There's marital tension. One likes the city, one likes suburbia. One's conciliatory, one's acerbic. One tries to blend in, the other couldn't care less. They have secrets. In other words, they're not that much different than most of the straight couples on Wisteria Lane.
"In capturing the gay suburban experience, the joke is they have the same issues as everyone else," says series creator Marc Cherry, who eschewed stereotypical characterizations of gay men. "The politically correct thing would have been to have everyone get along with them. But there's a lot of comedy to be played against type."
Both actors relish the high-profile roles. "Marc should be applauded for creating gay characters who aren't issue-oriented. A lot of the time, gay characters are known through issues — coming out or health problems," Watkins says. "There are a few cliché gay jokes on Desperate Housewives. But Bob and Lee aren't stereotypical. They have horrible taste. They have a sense of humor. They're a little mean. They're certainly not PC."
The Washington Blade has a story (http://www.washingtonblade.com/2007/11-2/news/localnews/11492.cfm) on the re-election race of Bob Marshall, a co-author of Virginia's hateful "Marriage Amendment" who has flat out admitted that he'd be happy if every gay in Virginia packed up and moved from the state. Yep, a homophobe of the highest order who obviously has no respect for the concept of freedom of religion for all citizens. It's live by his religious views or the highway. I truly hope the man is defeated for several reasons, first and foremost, the Virginia General Assembly does not need anyone as vile as Marshall among its membership. Moreover, a defeat for Marshall could be a signal that Northern Virginia is moving further away from electing Christianists to office. Here are some story highlights:
In an election year with no major statewide races, voter turnout could be the key factor in determining whether a stridently anti-gay lawmaker retains his seat in the Virginia General Assembly in next week’s election. “With a low turnout election, those who do turn out to vote will have twice the impact,” said Tom Osborne, treasurer of the Virginia Partisans Gay & Lesbian Democratic Club. “It depends on who is more likely to turn out, those who love Bob Marshall or those who hate him. The trend statewide this time around is Democrats are more motivated than Republicans.”
Roemmelt said he also expects the race to be tight, but that other factors could work favorably for him, such as the tremendous growth in his district — the fastest growing in the state with 10,000 new voters since the last election. “Our job to convince them that I’m the guy and get them out to vote,” he said. “We’ve been contacting voters. I think it’s a great opportunity for them to have choice in the election.”Roemmelt said Marshall’s core supporters are “still flaming passionate” in their opposition to gay issues, especially marriage, but that voters in the middle have moved on to other issues.
Lampo compared the District 13 race to the race between progressive Democrat David Poisson and anti-gay Republican incumbent Dick Black, co-author of the 2004 Marriage Affirmation Act.Marshall and Black have been described as two of the most anti-gay politicians in the General Assembly. Marshall co-authored last year’s Virginia marriage amendment and backed a bill to restrict gay and straight non-married couples from adopting children. Black was defeated in 2005.
If Marshall is defeated, it will definitely merit a champagne toast.
Some have disagreed with exposing the story about Bethlehem High School principal Paul Schum. They have argued that there's no documentation of anti-gay statements, etc., by Mr. Schum. While that may be technically true, one must look at the larger institution for which he works and its consistent anti-gay message. Yes, I will admit that my main beef is with the Catholic Church and the posion it continues to throw out against gays to this very day. Having been raised Catholic and not leaving the Church until later in life, I know only TOO well the extreme harm it and its minions - of which Schum is but one - inflict on countless LGBT individuals everyday. Only God knows how many have been driven to suicide because of it. Like it or not, Schum in his position as principal is a facilitator in the dissemination of the Church's poison.
Other than going to church with my mother - a real sacrifice in my mind that I make in deference to her - I have not stepped in a Catholic church in over eight years. To my view, despite the good it may do in some of its charitable endeavors, under the past and current heirarchy, the Catholic Church continues to be a corrupt, hypocritical and - in my opinion - evil institution. The difference between the anti-gay mindset of its leadership and Islamic fundamentalists is but one of degree. To the victim, I wonder sometimes if physical murder may be less cruel than life long torment and self-hate, which is the Church's main commodity towards gays. Here is Pope Benedict XVI's view of homosexuality:
it is a more or less strong tendency ordered to an intrinsic moral evil, and thus the inclination itself must be seen as an objective disorder... Letter to the Bishops, 1986, quoted in National Catholic Reporter .
to create a legal form of a kind of homosexual marriage, in reality, does not help these people. Interview with Italian newspaper La Repubblica, 2004
That's the message Mr. Schum is supporting, directly and indirectly.
Last year, by coincidence, I was visiting my mother the weekend before the November election when Virginia's anti-gay "Marriage Amendment" was on the ballot. As is my practice, I went to church with her because it means a lot to her to not have go alone now that my Dad is gone (back then, he had been dead for slightly over a month). On that weekend, all parishes in Virginia were commanded to read a joint letter from Virginia's Catholic bishops supporting the "Marriage Amendment" and opposing any recognition of gay relationships. Suffice it to say, the depiction of gays as an moral evil out to destroy marriage was the main message.
I was so disgusted that I walked out of the service and waited in the church lobby for my mother. While waiting, I killed time looking at various bulletin boards and displays. What really was disgusting is that in the lobby of the same church (which in many ways is a liberal parish given the liberalizing influence of UVA which dominates the parish) were programs for all kinds of "social justice" and "repect for human dignity." Except for dignity for gays or social justice for gays that is. We LGBT individuals in short, did not reach the level of being treated as fully human and worthy of such efforts. I am sorry, but in my view anyone who is an official functionary of The Catholic Church who is caught as Mr. Schum was caught deserves to be exposed and humiliated.
BTW, mother and I have talked about her continued attendance at Catholic mass and she basically feels at age 80, it's a bit late to be looking for a new denomination. She says she simply ignores what she doesn't agree with. While I do not agree with her approach, at age 80, she is entitled to do as she wishes.
Thursday, November 01, 2007
A number of us bloggers debated via e-mail whether the principal player (no pun intended) this story deserved to have his story further circulated and commented upon. In general, my feeling is that if someone is actively taking and/or supporting anti-gay actions (either via legislation or religious message), they are open game. e.g., Richard Curtis, the recently resigned Washington State GOP cross-dresser or baptist pastors and Catholic priests who demonize gays in the pulpit and then seek out gay sex on the sly. Thus, someone like Catholic High School principal, Paul Schum is less clear cut case.
I ultimately decided to do a post because (1) most Catholic Schools do have religious instruction as part of the course of studies, so it is likely that he enforced educational practices that put forward an anti-gay message, teaching self-loathing to his LGBT students, (2) the Catholic Church in many areas is actively working to deny gays equal civil rights (the bishops in Virginia sent out letters to be read at all parishes urging a vote in favor of the Marriage Amendment last November), and (3) the Catholic Church says we gays are are inherently disordered and must suppress who were are. Perhaps it is partly guilt by association to some, but I felt the hypocrisy factor was sufficient to cover the story. Here are highlights from a story on WHAS 11 News (http://www.whas11.com/topstories/stories/103107whasjnTopPrincipalcited.1c7543fd2.html):
Fishnet stockings, fake women’s breasts and black leather. That is the way Louisville Metro Police say they found a Catholic school principal. That principal of Bethlehem High School in Bardstown, Kentucky is on personal leave after being cited for loitering for prostitution. The allegations are shocking for those at this small Catholic high school.
Police say when they found Dr. Paul Schum in an alley way in Louisville, he was wearing fishnet stockings, plastic women’s’ breasts and black leather. “Honestly I don’t know it seemed like it’s unbelievable you know, not that it happened, but that it was Paul,” says neighbor Kyle Wooten.
The police report says on Tuesday night the principal was found at 22nd and Stone in Louisville—an area police say is known for drug activity and prostitution. The principal has told those from the Bardstown community this is all a misunderstanding and his name will be cleared.
The Archdiocese of Louisville issued the following statement on Wednesday: "The Archdiocese learned today about the allegation against Dr. Paul Schum, principal of Bethlehem High School. Per our policy, Dr. Schum has requested and is taking personal leave from his position as principal of Bethlehem High School pending the outcome of the investigation. Dr. Schum denies the allegation." Dr. Schum is currently on personal leave from Bethlehem High School pending the outcome of the investigation.
A copy of the arrest citation can be seen here: http://www.thesmokinggun.com/archive/years/2007/1101071principal2.html. Maybe he heard about Richard Curtis' outfit and wanted to out do it???
I am glad that the mainstream media has picked up on this story nationally(CNN's Situation Room, covered it yesterday). It can only help to continue to depict the GOP and many of its "family values" legislators as hypocrites, since the sex scandals just keep on coming. Better yet, maybe the "sheeple" to use Pam Spaulding's term, will begin to wake up and realize they have been played and manipulated by by the GOP and its members who parrot the family values rhetoric. Here are highlights:
Washington State lawmaker Richard Curtis resigned his office tonight after a man he allegedly paid for sex spoke to the media about the encounter. Curtis is the third conservative lawmaker in just as many months to resign amid allegations of soliciting gay sex. CNN noted similarities between the seemingly 'pressured' resignations in this and other Republican scandals involving homosexuality.
While I have not yet been able to confirm it - since Curtis has wiped his former legislative web page clean - there are some search results that suggest that Curtis was previously awarded as GOP legislator of the year. If anyone can confirm this, I'd appreciate it.
The nonpartisan Rockway Institute, which conducts research on LGBT policies and programs in order to provide scientific, accurate information to the media and lawmakers, has released a new report on a study done concerning gays in the closet at work. From my own experience, I have to agree with what the stress of fear of discovery and the possible negative consequences do to you. You are not yourself, nor are you at your best and most creative. Here are highlights of the findings:
A questionnaire study of more than 500 gay, lesbian and bisexual employees across the U.S. has found that “fears about disclosing a gay identity at work had an overwhelmingly negative relationship with their career and workplace experiences and with their psychological well-being.”
The researchers, Belle Rose Ragins and Romila Singh of the University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee and John M. Cornwell of Rice University, wrote “these findings were both striking and disturbing; those who reported more fear of the negative consequences of full disclosure had less positive job and career attitudes, received fewer promotions, and reported more physical stress-related symptoms than those who reported less fear.” The article, “Making the Invisible Visible: Fear and Disclosure of Sexual Orientation at Work,” was published in The Journal of Applied Psychology (2007, Vol. 92, No. 4, 1103-1118).
The researchers Ragins, Singh, and Cornwell concluded that deciding whether to come-out is an exceptionally difficult career challenge facing lesbian/gay employees that typically goes unnoticed by employers. However, the threats to employment security are real. There are no laws prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation in 31 states, and such discrimination remains “widespread” in practice. For example, previous research indicated that between 25 and 66 percent of lesbian or gay workers had experienced discrimination. Of the participants in this study, 37 percent said they had faced discrimination because others suspected or assumed they were gay or lesbian. More than 10 percent said they had been physically harassed. More than 22 percent said they had been verbally harassed. Nearly 31 percent said they had resigned from a job, had been fired from a job or had left a job because of discrimination.
Green added: “As other recent surveys have shown, the vast majority of Americans think that it is unfair to discriminate against people for personal characteristics that are unrelated to their actual job performance. For example, the May 2007 Gallup Poll reported that 89% of Americans believe that employment discrimination against lesbian and gay people should be illegal. For those whose job it is to shape employment policies in work settings and at all levels of government, the current study’s findings should be instructive. Safety in coming-out is good for workers and employers alike.”
More information on the study can be found here: http://www.alliant.edu/wps/wcm/connect/website/Home/Research%2C+Consulting+%26+Public+Resources/Research+Institutes/Rockway+Institute/Rockway+in+the+News/Fear+at+Work+10-07
This story New York Times story (http://www.nytimes.com/2007/11/01/world/middleeast/01dubai.html?_r=1&oref=slogin) about a 15 year old brutally attacked and raped in Dubai also highlights the hypocrisy with which gays are treated in the Middle East. Likewise, it underlines the fact that foreigners in Islamic countries (something we were told regularly when I worked for the oil company in the 1980's) truly need to use heightened care since you often will not get fair treatment under the host countries' laws. Moreover, frequently, your embassy either cannot or will not do much to help your situation. I applaud this boy and his family for refusing to let the dirt be swept under the rug. Here are highlights:
Just after sunset, Alex says he was rushing to meet his father for dinner when he bumped into an acquaintance, a 17-year-old native-born student at the American school, who said he and his cousin could drop Alex off at home. There were, in fact, three Emirati men in the car, including a pair of former convicts ages 35 and 18, according to Alex. He says they drove him past his house and into a dark patch of desert, between a row of new villas and a power plant, took away his cellphone, threatened him with a knife and a club, and told him they would kill his family if he ever reported them. Then they stripped off his pants and one by one sodomized him in the back seat of the car. They dumped Alex across from one of Dubai’s luxury hotel towers.
Alex and his family were about to learn that despite Dubai’s status as the Arab world’s paragon of modernity and wealth, and its well-earned reputation for protecting foreign investors, its criminal legal system remains a perilous gantlet when it comes to homosexuality and protection of foreigners. The authorities not only discouraged Alex from pressing charges, he, his family and French diplomats say; they raised the possibility of charging him with criminal homosexual activity, and neglected for weeks to inform him or his parents that one of his attackers had tested H.I.V. positive while in prison four years earlier.
“They tried to smother this story,” Alex said by phone from Switzerland, where he fled a month into his 10th-grade school year, fearing a jail term in Dubai if charged with homosexual activity. “Dubai, they say we build the highest towers, they have the best hotels. But all the news, they hide it. They don’t want the world to know that Dubai still lives in the Middle Ages.” Alex and his parents say they chose to go public with his case in the hope that it would press the authorities to prosecute the men.
Alex’s Kafkaesque legal journey brings into sharp relief questions about unequal treatment of foreigners here that have long been quietly raised among the expatriate majority. The case is getting coverage in the local press. It also highlights the taboos surrounding H.I.V. and homosexuality that Dubai residents say have allowed rampant harassment of gays and have encouraged the health system to treat H.I.V. virtually in secret. (Under Emirates law, foreigners with H.I.V., or those convicted of homosexual activity, are deported.)
Alex’s case has raised diplomatic tensions between the Emirates and France, which has lodged official complaints about the apparent cover-up of one assailant’s H.I.V. status and other irregularities. The tension and growing publicity over the case seem to have prompted the authorities to take action. “The grave deficiencies or incoherence of the investigation appear to result, in part, from gross incompetence of the services involved in the United Arab Emirates, but also from the moral, pseudoscientific and political prejudices which undoubtedly influenced the inquiry,” the French ambassador to the United Arab Emirates wrote in a confidential cable dated Sept. 6.
A doctor examined Alex the night of the rape, taking swabs of DNA for traces of the rapists’ sperm. He did not take blood tests or examine Alex with a speculum. Then he cleared the room and told Alex: “I know you’re a homosexual. You can admit it to me. I can tell.” Alex told his father in tears: “I’ve just been raped by three men, and he’s saying I’m a homosexual,” according to interviews with both of them. Although rape victims here generally keep quiet, some who have been raped in Dubai have shared testimonials in recent days on boycottdubai.com, a Web site started by Alex’s mother.
The western world truly needs to demand that Muslim countries that expect deferential treatment live up to international law standards, particularly in the area of human rights. Oh, I forgot. We are hostage to their oil, so they get to get away with rape (and murder) without accountability to the standards of international law.
While the Chimperator and Emperor Palpatine Cheney try to convince the American public that things are improving in Iraq (personally, I take everything they say as a lie at this point), a veritable revolt has broken out in the State Department where diplomats are on verge of refusing to accept assignments in Iraq. One senior diplomat described assignment to Iraq as a "potential death sentence." Hmm, seem to me as if the folks within the State Department would have some feel for the reality on the ground. (We know that the Chimperator surely does NOT). If they do NOT want to go, I suspect things are in fact pretty bad. Here are some highlights from the Washington Post's coverage (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/10/31/AR2007103101626.html?hpid=topnews):
Uneasy U.S. diplomats yesterday challenged senior State Department officials in unusually blunt terms over a decision to order some of them to serve at the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad or risk losing their jobs.
At a town hall meeting in the department's main auditorium attended by hundreds of Foreign Service officers, some of them criticized fundamental aspects of State's personnel policies in Iraq. They took issue with the size of the embassy -- the biggest in U.S. history -- and the inadequate training they received before being sent to serve in a war zone. One woman said she returned from a tour in Basra with post-traumatic stress disorder only to find that the State Department would not authorize medical treatment.
Yesterday's internal dissension came amid rising public doubts about diplomatic progress in Iraq and congressional inquiries into the department's spending on the embassy and its management of private security contractors. Some participants asked how diplomacy could be practiced when the embassy itself, inside the fortified Green Zone, is under frequent fire and officials can travel outside only under heavy guard. Service in Iraq is "a potential death sentence," said one man who identified himself as a 46-year Foreign Service veteran. "Any other embassy in the world would be closed by now," he said to sustained applause.
In notices e-mailed to Foreign Service officers around the world late Friday night, Thomas wrote that State had decided to begin "directed assignments" to fill an anticipated shortfall of 48 diplomats in Iraq next summer. Separate e-mail letters were sent to about 250 officers selected as qualified for the posts. If enough of them did not volunteer, the letters said, some would be ordered to serve there. Foreign Service officers swear an oath to serve wherever the secretary of state sends them, but no directed assignments have been ordered since the late 1960s, during the Vietnam War.
Amid the anger expressed, the woman who was stationed in Basra said she had "absolutely no regrets" about serving in Iraq. "I wanted to go to a place where I knew it was important for my country to be," she said, "even though I had a lot of questions about the origins of the war to begin with." But citing her own medical situation and sounding near tears, she said: "The more who serve in war zones, the more that will come back with these sorts of war wounds. . . . Now that you are looking at compulsory service in war zones . . . we have a moral imperative as an agency to take care of our people."
First the Chimperator destroys Iraq and the U. S. military (especially the Army) and now he and Rice are on the way to destroying the diplomat corp too. One heck of a job, Chimpy.
John Aravosis at America Blog (http://www.americablog.com/2007/11/bush-and-gop-on-economics.html) has a nice, concise summary of what has happened to the US economy under the reigns of the Chimperator and the previously GOP controled Congress. It is not pretty:
1. Largest decline in housing prices since 1991.
2. Crumbling US dollar, weakest showing against leading five currencies since early 1970s. This includes
3. 37 year low against Canadian dollar. Against the UK pound, it's over $2 to buy only one.
4. Skyrocketing and "out of control" oil prices, record highs at the pump(war with Iran would make things much worse).
5. Billions of US taxpayer dollars lost, missing, and who knows what from Iraq. Costs for war to drag out for decades. 6. Record high budget deficit, compounded by GOP spending boondoggles.
In my days in the GOP, the Party supposedly stood for fiscal responsibility, limited government, and personal freedom. What we have today is the exact opposite. Moreover, government has crept into many more aspects of the lives of citizens, domestic spying on citizens is rampant, and if the Christianists had their way, our bedrooms would be under policing too. And yet the GOP has the nerve to say things would be worse under the Democrats. I think not.
This story (http://www.365gay.com/Newscon07/11/110107army.htm) shows the idiocy of banning gays from military service (particularly when gang members and felons are being waivered in). When this country will follow simple common sense and tell the Christianists to take a hike remains to be seen. In the interim, I feel no sorrow for the foes of recruiters in trying to achieve enlistment targets. Here are highlights:
(Washington) The Army began its recruiting year Oct. 1 with fewer signed up for basic training than in any year since it became an all-volunteer service in 1973, a top general said Wednesday. Gen. William S. Wallace, whose duties as commander of Army Training and Doctrine Command include management of recruiting, told reporters at the Pentagon that the historic dip will make it harder to achieve the full-year recruiting goal - after just barely reaching it in the year ended Sept. 30.
"It's going to be another tough recruiting year," the four-star general said. Making it even tougher is the decline in what the Army calls its delayed entry pool, which is the group of enlistees who have signed contracts to join the Army but want to wait before shipping off to basic training. Normally the Army tries to start its recruiting year with a delayed entry pool equal to about 25 percent of its full-year goal, which in this case would equate to 20,000 recruits. Instead, the Army began with 7,392 recruits, or about 9 percent of its full-year goal. Last year at this time the Army was beginning its recruiting year with 12,062, or about 15 percent.
That is of concern for us because the delayed entry program gives us guaranteed enlistees to meter out across the year," Wallace said. Without that cushion to begin the recruiting year, recruiters are going to have to sign up enough people to meet the existing goal as well as replenish the pool for next year.
Wednesday, October 31, 2007
Magic BellyButton (a former Catholic like me) scores a hit with her analysis of the Nazi Pope's latest pronouncements against any form of contraception. I have swiped her photo and posted it above, but for the full story, go to: http://mymagicbellybutton.blogspot.com/2007/10/bear-still-shits-in-woods-pope-still.html.
She also discusses (in another post) Australia's answer to Daddy Dobson & Co: Australian Christian Lobby . Some of her comments:
The ACL is committed to seeing "Christian principles and ethics accepted and influencing the way we are governed". When Muslims talk like that, of course, there are dark mutterings about "Sharia Law". All the major, and a few minor, parties replied to the ACL survey. But the Greens told them to get stuffed.
But a quick check of the rest of the survey shows why the Greens were right to have nothing to do with it. What is the big issue of the 2007 election campaign? The economy? Industrial relations? Tax reform? Education? The worm?Wrong. For the ACL, it's sex. Eleven of the ACL's 25 questions are about sex or reproduction, including the usual religious fixations with controlling women's bodies, homosexuality and pornography. No wonder ACL likes the Family First Party, which in recent days has taken its obsession with porn to new, erm, lengths.
The ACL survey isn't some neutral list of political positions to help those with monotheistic delusions to make up their minds how to vote.Instead, it pushes a nasty agenda focused on sex and discrimination.
As I have mentioned briefly in a prior post and in more detail to some of you via e-mail, I have had a few medical issues going on since I have some as yet undiagnosed condition. From initial blood work and other symptoms, the most annoying of which is itching all over (which makes sleeping a bitch), it was thought that I might have a rare blood disorder, Polycythemia. On last Friday morning I had a CAT scan done to, among other things, check to see if I have an enlarged spleen - one of the common symptoms- or any sometimes related liver problems. I got the results today and all was pretty much normal. Obviously, good news, but not any more dis positive of the true situation than what I knew before. I am waiting to see what my doctors recommend next and/or may go see a hematologist. For now, I remain alive and kicking.
Over the last two nights, I re-read Christopher Rice's book, "A Density of Souls." Some may find it quirky (especially some straights), but I find it an interesting view of life and society. It shows the hate and damage done by homophobia, the superficial nature of much in upper middle class life in the USA, and the Deep South in particular, since the story takes place in New Orleans. It also shows some of the intimacy and wonder of gay love. Having lived in Mobile, Alabama, just 120 miles to the east of New Orleans and with a very similar "Old Family" social structure, the book rings very true. There are also parallels to my former upscale neighborhood in Virginia Beach where I lived for 18 years during my marriage.
What also strikes home in the story is that most of the characters are "doing what they were told to do" by family and society, not following their true natures or their hearts. The result is that they go through the motions of a life, but in many ways do not truly live or find real happiness. It is the gay characters who seem to most see the false reality of those around them, all the while suffering for being "different" or "breaking the rules." I think being different and "breaking the rules," particularly in matters of sexual attraction, is what sets gays apart from the rest of society. At least here in largely backward Tidewater, Virginia. In truth, we are just like everyone else in so many ways, yet we do have a whole different perspective as a result of hiding our true identities while growing up and often even when out of the closet (e.g., at work). Of course, that different perspective merely adds to the "otherness" that so frightens some. Personally, I think that is a good thing and helps give gays a freedom of thought and action that others do not have. No doubt one of the reasons the Christianists hate us.
I have rambled. Sorry. I do recommend the book. I also often think of one of the poems in the book, which offers good counsel in times of stress:
"Fear cannot touch me,
It can only taunt me, it cannot take me,
Just tell me where to go.
I can either follow, or I can hold on to the things that I know.
The shadows are darkness, and darkness cannot talk."
It can only taunt me, it cannot take me,
Just tell me where to go.
I can either follow, or I can hold on to the things that I know.
The shadows are darkness, and darkness cannot talk."
Not to beat a dead horse, but this op-ed column from the LA Times (http://www.latimes.com/news/opinion/la-oe-ehrenstein31oct31,0,4417577.story?coll=la-tot-opinion&track=ntothtml) gives perhaps some of the best analysis as to why Obama really screwed up with the McClurkin disaster. It will be interesting to see if he can redeem himself with those in the LGBT community. Watching him in the debate last night, I truly do not feel that Obama is anti-gay. I do, however, wonder how hard he would push for gay rights if elected. Here are highlights from the column:
But what's really on Obama's mind isn't LBGT Americans. It's black voters. With so much of the African American vote snugly in Hillary Clinton's pantsuit pocket, the Illinois senator clearly is hoping to make inroads before South Carolina's crucial 2008 primary.
The offspring of a Kenyan father and a white American mother, Obama was raised in Hawaii and Indonesia without much churchgoing until he grew up and ran for office. So he is not only a generation but a world away from the political leadership most of us African Americans have come to know. Putting on Baptist drag and staging a gospel music show is precisely the sort of pandering Obama had scrupulously avoided. Until now.
Now a gospel star may have driven a wedge between Obama and his gay supporters and roiled others as well. For, by putting McClurkin in the spotlight, Obama has broken black America's 11th Commandment: "Don't talk about it in front of the white people!"
Black churches are so much at the center of African American public life, and so much in denial about the gays and lesbians in their pews and choir stalls. As the late Marlon Riggs said in "Tongues Untied," his acclaimed 1990 documentary about gay blacks and AIDS, "How many choir directors have to die before we know who we are?" The "Embrace the Change" lineup reflects how this struggle is far from over. McClurkin, who is a minister at an evangelical church in New York, calls homosexuality a "choice" -- needless to say the wrong one. The duo Mary Mary claims to love gays in a love-the-sinner kind of way, equating us with murderers or prostitutes. It is only Byron Cage of the Mighty Clouds of Joy who has been actively working to heal the gay-straight divide.
Gays played pivotal roles in African American history, but the community continues to wish away their sexuality. Blues legends Bessie Smith, Alberta Hunter and Ethel Waters all took female lovers. (Impresario Leonard Reed once said Waters was "so mean she married her second husband to spite her girlfriend when she found out she was sleeping with him.") Gay composer Billy Strayhorn gave the Duke Ellington Orchestra its sound, including its theme song, "Take the A Train." The fabled Harlem Renaissance was, frankly, a gay and lesbian movement led by the likes of Zora Neale Hurston, Bruce Nugent and Langston Hughes.
Over and above all these towers James Baldwin, the novelist and essayist whose accounts of the civil rights movement are without peer, and Bayard Rustin, the most important civil rights figure after the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. Rustin conceived of the 1963 March on Washington, but thanks to a vice arrest in Pasadena a decade earlier, he was forced to take a back seat during the unveiling of his masterpiece.Coretta Scott King never forgot Rustin's sacrifice and went on to support the gay-rights movement. Her daughter, however, the Rev. Bernice King, joined a 2004 march against same-sex marriage.
And so we now find Obama trying, as it were, to court both branches of the King family. It won't work. And his continued relevance to gay and lesbian African Americans is over.
Personally, I find it ironic that blacks as a whole, including the (in my view extremely biased) judge who heard the property settlement portion of my divorce, are incensed when faced with discrimination against them, yet are far more likely than other domestic racial groups to be discriminatory against LGBT individuals. One would think that victims of discrimination would be a bit more less discriminatory towards other minority groups.
Just in time for Halloween comes this story (http://rawstory.com/news/2007/CBS_Bush_distant_relation_of_Vlad_1029.html) which indicates that Chimperator Bush is a descendant of 15th Century Prince Vlad the Impaler, whose bloody ways are the underlying basis for the Dracula myth. Well, both Chimpy and Vlad enjoy torturing others and hold a view that they are above accountability. I guess the Chimperator comes by it genetically. Here are some highlights:
Bush also turns out to be related to Vlad the Impaler -- the medieval tyrant who was one of the inspirations for the fictional Count Dracula. Some critics might say that Bush has certain things in common with Vlad, who is still honored by many Romanians for having saved their country from invasion by the Muslim Ottoman Turks. Vlad was a paranoid and bloodthirsty despot, however, who ruled through torture and murder.
According to Crime Library, "During his tenure, he killed by the droves, impaling on a forest of spikes around his castle thousands of subjects who he saw as either traitors, would-be traitors or enemies to the security of Romania and the Roman Catholic Church. Sometimes, he slew merely to show other possible insurgents and criminals just what their fate would be if they became troublesome.
Unfortunately, the article doesn't indicate whether Cheney is also related to Vlad - they certain seem cut out of a similar mold and equally crazy.
If one reads some of the leading Christianist groups' web sites - I do so from time to to "know the enemy" - it quickly becomes apparent that Halloween sends these folks almost into the spasms arising from the thought of a same sex couple kissing one another. Some of the discussion would be almost funny if the Chimperator was not often acting at the beck and call of these folks. Here are some highlights from wingnut Albert Mohler's web site:
The issue of Halloween presses itself annually upon the Christian conscience. Acutely aware of dangers new and old, many Christian parents choose to withdraw their children from the holiday altogether. Others choose to follow a strategic battle plan for engagement with the holiday. Still others have gone further, seeking to convert Halloween into an evangelistic opportunity. Is Halloween really that significant?
The pagan roots of Halloween are well documented. The holiday is rooted in the Celtic festival of Samhain, which came at summer's end. As Rogers explains, "Paired with the feast of Beltane, which celebrated the life-generating powers of the sun, Samhain beckoned to winter and the dark nights ahead." Scholars dispute whether Samhain was celebrated as a festival of the dead, but the pagan roots of the festival are indisputable. Questions of human and animal sacrifices and various occultic sexual practices continue as issues of debate, but the reality of the celebration as an occultic festival focused on the changing of seasons undoubtedly involved practices pointing to winter as a season of death.
Note how an obsession with sex always creeps in. A less studious approach is found on a joint conservative Catholic/Focus on the Family discussion of Halloween:
It is impossible to be middle of the road or neutral when it comes to whom a Christian serves. The Bible says that we must "choose ye this day whom ye will serve." (Joshua 24:15) Since Halloween belongs to Satan, it is he who is served when one participates in "Christianized" Halloween rituals and it is he who gains the right to spiritually afflict those who fellowship with him in this manner. God's people must purpose to reject all rationalizations for sin, no matter where they come from. Quench not the Holy Spirit when he convicts you about the sin of yoking what is holy (the Lord Jesus Christ) with what is evil (Halloween.)
One has to wonder how some of these folks got so crazy. However, for a really over the top rant, check out this site (which also links to a web page that trashes "Gay Friendly Christians): http://www.jesus-is-savior.com/Evils%20in%20America/Apostasy/making_halloween_holy.htm
It seems that sexcapdes are going on coast to coast. In the wake of the story about the Washington State GOP cross-dresser, this story pops up. Guess how many identify as gay? None. All of the men are married, with the exception of a Catholic priest. How do we say "Hypocrites," although I guess the involvement of a Catholic priest - his church is pictured at left - should come as little surprise. I swear these "straight" guys are truly giving gay sex a bad name. Here are some highlights from LowerHudson Online (http://www.thejournalnews.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20071030/NEWS03/710300364/1023/NEWS07):
BEDFORD - A sting aimed a men who cruise a rest area off Interstate 684 for gay sex resulted in charges against 20 men in the past month, including a Catholic priest and a registered sex offender. The sting, which also netted a local Rotary Club president and a 72-year-old man, was prompted by a complaint from a man who stopped to use the rest area with his 10-year-old son, said Capt. Robert Meyer, state police commander in Westchester County.
Most of the men were charged with either loitering or trespass violations or both. One was charged with forcible touching, a misdemeanor. Four were charged with exposing themselves and two with public lewdness, all violations. The 20 suspects are due in Bedford Town Court on Thursday.
Among those arrested was the Rev. Gary Mead, a Catholic priest from Millwood assigned to St. Gregory Barbarigo parish in Garnerville. Police said he fondled an undercover officer and was charged with forcible touching. Mead, 44, was previously assigned to St. Mary's Church in Wappingers Falls and, in the late 1990s, was parochial vicar at Holy Family parish in New Rochelle. A message left yesterday with the Archdiocese of New York was not immediately returned.
"Some of the activity we observed was very, very disturbing," Lutz said. "You can't believe the stuff we see," said Robert Becker, 25, of Brewster, a maintenance worker at the rest stop. "We're always calling the police." John M. Canzio, 47, of Bedford Hills, president of the Katonah Rotary Club, was charged with exposure, loitering and trespass. Canzio has an unlisted telephone number and could not be reached for comment. With the exception of Mead, all of those charged are married, police said. Although most of the illegal activity takes place at night, the crimes occur throughout the day, Lutz said.
I suspect some may not remain married for much longer, since the paper printed all of their names and home towns. As I have said before, what in the world were these guys thing? One would think even a moron would know: do NOT do it in a public place!!