Marriage is love.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

SOTU & Petraeus Synchronicity -- Can a One-sided Will To Win Prove Enough?

Two big but seemingly unrelated things happened on the Hill yesterday -- the State of the Union speech and the appearance of Lt. Gen. David Howell Petraeus at a hearing to confirm him as the new U.S. ground commander in Iraq.

You can watch the SOTU at ThinkProgress -- something I suggest doing even if you've seen it already as they've synthesized it in a searchable video form annotated with a relatively comprehensive fact checking. I encourage writing letters to the editor refuting Shrub's speech using these countering facts as a basis. You'll have to comment on the things that were absent -- any mention of Katrina and the failture of the Gulf Coast recovery effort that has Barney Frank referring to it as a form of "ethnic cleansing" and that there were no bones thrown to the religious political extremists and what that means, for instance -- on your own -- well, that and Michele's Manic Prez Grab. Post copies of them in the comments section here for all to see. (I plan to hit the dangerous horsepucky that is Shrub's big healthcare plan hard myself, so critical is that regarding our disproportionately under- and self-employed thus disproportionately dependent on individually underwritten health insurance LGBT population.)

What else a fact-checking analysis of the SOTU misses, beyond Shrub's making yet another threat of creating a new front against Iran, in looking just at the section on Iraq, is the folly of relying on our will to win in a war that will depend instead on the will of the Iraqis. We have not been short of will to win -- the sacrifices of life and/or limb of well over fifty-thousand American fighting women and men to date are proof enough of that, not to mention the willingness of hundreds of thousands more to serve and millions more to do without loved ones in service abroad plus the people's engagement in war debt that will haunt our grandchildren and beyond.

No, we are not short of will to win.

This 'will to win' mantra figured prominently in Gen. Petraeus' remarks at his hearing, too.
Before anyone thinks to write me off as some military-hating uber-liberal, let me say that I deeply admire Gen. Petraeus, whose career I first took notice of in the early days of this war when he commanded the fabled 101st Airborne at Mosul and my cousin, Lucian Truscott, was permitted to be an embedded journalist with his troops there for a time. I learned through long, almost daily correspondence with Luc how deeply Gen. Petraeus cares for the troops under his command. (Especially instructive was a description of the general's immediate and blistering phone call to the KBR supplier who was delivering to troops at a forward station moldy fruit and cold-instead-of-hot food from filthy kitchens for premium prices when my cousin brought this to his attention. Even more instructive was the general's attentive follow-through -- the effect of which was extended even beyond his area of command.)

I favorably compared his treatment of prisoners to that at Abu G'raib then came to a similarly positive comparison of his method of flushing out insurgents in residential neighborhoods (called "cordon and knock") compared to the more terror-inducing methods being employed elsewhere that were reinforcing the growing insurgency, and how he coupled that with the only reconstruction program in Iraq that really worked. "The real goal is to create as many Iraqis as possible who feel they have a stake in the new Iraq," he said about his program that combines a comparatively low-violence soft hand militarily with lots of direct local diplomacy and dependable follow-through such as ensuring that local contractors are given as much preference as possible and that they are treated fairly and paid on time.

I started doing more research into his background and discovered what a strong intellect and fine education he has (West Point, Princeton's Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs (MPA, PhD in International Affairs with a dissertation on how Vietnam has affected U.S. military strategic thought), a post-doc fellowship at Georgetown, and deep study of how the British and others have done both good jobs and bad in dealing with insurgency-based conflicts, among many other accomplishments. And I've kept tabs on his progress since then, including his short stint trying to train the Iraqi security forces and what he learned from that before he was reassigned to command Fort Leavenworth and the Army Combined Arms Center (home of the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College, from which he'd been the honor graduate of his class and where he wrote and oversaw adoption of the Army's new manual on handling insurgencies) before he could really get that going. His has been, to say the least, a stellar career of a man with a reputation for not accepting failure and the energy and vision thusfar not to have had to.

And therein may lie the problem. Gen. Petraeus has never seemed to have had the sobering, annealing experience of major failure. He believes he can out-think, out-strategize, out-plan, and out-will the enemy he faces in Iraq -- and he believes it with a surety that only the perpetually successful would claim. But take a look at what happened in Mosul after the 101st was rotated back home in the Spring of 2004 -- it literally fell apart like an unmaintained house of cards on a windy plain.

When my cousin was there, he was already picking up grumblings from caring officers on Petraeus' staff about the problems a lack of continuity were causing. It's not that they distrusted or disagreed with their general's basic thinking on counter-insurgency work in Iraq -- exactly the opposite. But they were aware that it would take a great deal longer than the time they had been allotted which is many times longer than the five months that Gen. Clark and the White House flaks have been alluding to as our begin-to-get-out date. His is, as I mentioned above, a program that depends on reliability, relationship-building, and follow-through -- and that, as well as training a security force to make the economic and infrastructure repairs and changes happen then take meaningful hold takes time -- lots of time -- and probably many more troops than he's being given to work with.

Further, Petraeus' methods have been primarily worked out on guerrilla forces predominantly focused against an invader in a way that temporarily superceded old ethnic, religious, or political conflicts and civil wars. Iraq, in contrast, is more and more a case of full-blown civil war with our troops getting killed by getting in its way as well as by a small outside force of true terrorists allied loosely with one faction in the civil war -- but only very loosely. Maliki has yet to disavow the use of U.S. trained Iraqi security forces on behalf of one of those factions -- the Shia. And Maliki and the Kurds are growing increasingly friendly with the Shia extremist-Iranian-Syrian-Hezbollah quadrangle that threatens more each day, with the U.S. backing of the Sunni Saudi regime, to blow the region sky high.

Gen. Petraeus is a very smart man who adjusts his thinking fluidly when new input requires and I have no doubt that he'll do as much of that as he's allowed to do this time, too. But there're two more things not in his favor -- the way both this administration and, in response, Congress on both sides of the aisle have and likely will treat this war as political fodder more than a military and diplomatic problem and the disgusting ignorance of too many of them of even the basic knowledge of the region, its history, and its culture necessary to competently formulate policy that has a chance of success. It is will without honor or discipline and any soldier knows what a dangerous combination that is.


The Poodle Genuflects To The Rat

The world's most powerful hate group, the Roman Catholic Church, is at it again. According to AmericaBlog, RatCo's latest attempt to undermine fairness and equality under the law in favor of irrational antigay hatred comes in the U.K. via rumored to be Catholic wannabe Tony Blair.

The RCC's opposition to the implementation of a basic civil rights law there, the Equality Act, is taking the same sorry turn we've seen so often from them -- threatened shut down of social services agencies (this time adoption placement) unless they get a religious exemption that gives them a free pass to discriminate not just with church money which nobody argues is their right to do, however despicable of them to do it, but with public money.

Just like the Boy Scouts, they want to have their cake and eat it, too, which their spin machine has masked as concern for children -- a concern which their own priests' actions have time and again proven to be a lie. In this case, their rhetoric is indisputably Orwellian as denying children happy, healthy homes with gay adoptive parents does nothing but keep children in the system longer which has real, measureable negative effects both on the children themselves and the public purse as well as increases the risk to other children at risk by reducing the percentage of the social services resource pool that can be directed towards keeping them safe and sound.

In the the U.S., we've given them a religious exemption in ENDA -- one they don't need to ensure their religious freedom and one of the things that makes ENDA not worth the trouble of passing -- and in some state LGB (and sometimes T)-inclusive civil rights laws. The Brits, Welsh, and Scots should note that such exemptions have not stopped church leaders from opposing our basic civil rights -- only exposing their bigotry has brought occasional relief from their onslaught of hate.


Friday, November 10, 2006


Now that the ballots are in and it's apparently clear that the dems will take both the House and the Senate, the talk on the town is the big "I" word. Will we or will we not see impeachment hearings?I heard from a very liberal friend yesterday that she felt that impeachment should not be the first order of business. Now bear in mind, this person has a hatred for Bush hotter then the heat of a thousand suns. However, she believed that we need to address the business of the people first. Deal with the war, social security, economy, ect... Concluding that in reality probably less the half of the people in the country had the stomach for impeachment, she felt that we need to be the party of reason and stay above the fray. This morning on talk radio on the way to work I heard echoes of the same sentiment.

I plainly and simply do not agree. In the last six years we have learned at immeasurable costs how fragile our democracy is. Six years ago when some of us said, voters fraud, most people thought we were crazy conspiracy theorists. Now, it's a commonly held belief that elections have been tampered with and the office of the President was stolen, not once, but twice. Most of the rest of the world can see clearly that our democracy is broken, if not failed entirely.The issues like the war, the economy, and social security are incredibly important. However, I believe that at this point, our paramount issue, our paramount responsibility, not only to our citizens, but to the world, is preserving our democracy.

I do not want impeachment hearings for the arbitrary purpose of sticking it to Bush, I believe he will burn in hell for his crimes against humanity. Impeachment hearing are necessary in our country right now for the purpose of disclosure to the American people of how one administration can destroy a democracy. We need to know what happened and how it happened so we can learn from our mistake.The American people need to learn a hard lesson of responsibility and accountability. Only with a hard look at what happened in the last six years that led us to this catastrophic place can we learn how to prevent a tragedy of the magnitude that the Bush administration has reigned on the world.

I have heard people suggest that yes, we need to call for impeachment, but just not as a first order of business. I strongly disagree. Now that the democrats are basking in the afterglow of a republican ass kicking, it's fun to day dream about having control of not just Congress, but also the Presidency for decades to come. That kind of arrogance is familiar and dangerous. The reality is we may only have two years. God, I hope it's forever, but it may be two precious years for a window of opportunity. We don't have time to waste trying to appear as a party of civility.

This Congress has a moral obligation not only to the citizens of the United States but to the rest of the world to open the books on this administration for full disclosure through impeachment. For more then 200 years the United States was a beacon of democracy, demonstrating that the fragile experiment was something to strive for. Many world governments modeled themselves after our ideal. Now that ideal is in shambles. The first order of business for putting it all back together is facing the devastation and showing the world we are not afraid to say what's wrong for everyone else in the world is wrong for us too. Criminal behavior is just that, criminal and we will address it.

Please join me in contacting your representatives and soon to be representatives to demand immediate impeachment proceedings as a first order of business after the swearing in.The world is waiting for us.Please leave you comments and let us know how you feel about IMPEACHING the PRESIDENT NOW!!


Sunday, October 22, 2006

My posting over at Pam's

Julien! Thanks for leaving my access to the blog!

Here's what I posted for Pam in her absence - I hope readers here find it worth pondering . . . .

Groggy Good-Morning from Rochester in Blue New York

'Bean, formerly a regular contributor to Julien's List, is a Cranky-and-Irritable member of the Democratic arm of the Democratic Party. As a GLBT healthcare-professional-in-training, he is passionately devoted to liberal politics and to his evolving career in the operating room. He also possesses a deep-seated passion for dark chocolate and snazzy cars. 'Bean and his life-partner Eric (a Physics professor at a SUNY university) live in Rochester, New York.

Good morning blenders.

I'm already behind schedule as I woke at 0100 and 0400 because poor Hubby's congested sinuses rumble when he lies on his back. I needed a bathtubfull of Java in my brain before trying to type - mostly to ensure I pay at least some attention to things like "grammar" and "spelling" and "a little coherence."

It's VERY nice to be back at the blend, as briefly as I will be here: I love my work in the operating room as I am finishing this particular phase of my education (and, hence, rarely visit any blogs because I have no life, at all, of any kind) . . . but I confess I miss the intensity, stimulation, and some of the personalities here.

That said, I wanted to start my part of the Guest Blend Experience with a gripe.

Yep - a gripe: I'm genetically cranky as the long-time regulars know. I just ain't one of those liberals who wants to hug a single damn thing and I don't ooze "caring" and "warmth" from my pores. I never have been "cuddly" and, in truth, I doubt I will ever be.

Anyhow . . . .

Yesterday, while watching the local 11-o'clock news in Blue New York State, I noted the following:

(1) Republican Tom Reynolds, Pedophile Supporter and Enabler (henceforth, PS&E in place of "Pedophile Supporter and Enabler"), airing attack ads stating, "Millionaire Jack Davis will cut Medicare, Medicaid, and job growth programs. Millionaire Jack Davis will raise taxes. Millionaire Jack Davis is just another tax-and-spend liberal New Yorkers don't need." Republican Reynolds, PS&E, and his attack dogs include taped, out-of-context statements right from Davis's mouth to "support" Reynold's claims.

I'll be blunt - these ads by Republican Tom Reynolds, PS&E? These ads are good. They're very good.

These ads are, not surprisingly, also profoundly dishonest and misleading - but what can one expect from a Republican more vested in protecting his own job, his party, and the most high-profile child molester of this Shining New Century to-date?

(2) Democrat Jack Davis is airing the most pathetic "It's time for a change" rebuttal to Republican Reynolds, PS&E, I have ever seen: Davis would have a better rebuttal if he hired a bunch of high school drama students and gave those students a cam-corder and 20 bucks.

Worse, Davis and his ads ignore that Republican Reynolds, PS&E, has dutifully followed Dear Leader's policies (Medicare cuts, Medicaid cuts, other social-service and retiree program cuts), all the while filling his fat pockets (and astoundingly-large belly) along the way.

(3) An ad supporting sHillary Clinton, Republican-Lite, with an interesting mix of words and imagery. I don't remember specifics, but phrases resembling "Hillary Clinton voted to prevent further terror attacks on New York and supports legislation protecting the symbols or our great nation," juxtaposed with images of sHillary, surrounded by a forest of American flags; "Hillary Clinton supports legislation protecting mothers and their children," juxtaposed with images of sHillary and an African-American mother holding a newborn baby.

(4) A news report following these commercials stating that Republican Reynolds, PS&E, is now ahead in the polls - and this in a DEMOCRATIC state.

I think what I am seeing here, in my own small part of the nation, reflects the problems of the Left in the nation as-a-whole.

Specifically, these problems:

(1) Republicans are better at playing a clean-faced game of very dirty pool than Democrats. As proven by going back to Nixon, playing dirty pool with the guise of a gentleman (or gentlewoman) just plain works.

Voters like tough politicians.

(2) Democrats taking the "moral high road" because "we are better and above that sort of thing" does not work.


The fact that a man, Republican Tom Reynolds, PS&E, who knowingly aided, abetted, and protected a known child molester for years, is LEADING in polls . . . and worse yet, he's leading in polls in a DEMOCRATIC state.

There is the mirror-side to this issue, too: whenever Democrats jump on Republicans for the Republican's misbehavior, the Republicans shriek "Unfair! Unfair! Partisan politics! Partisan politics!"

Ironically, those same Republicans, such as Tom Reynolds, PS&E, are the first to attack - even when the Democrat has done nothing.

Democrats need to take a lesson from this particular tactic.

Voters like tough politicians.

(3) No matter how far right ANY Democrat steps (ESPECIALLY sHillary Clinton), NOBODY Right-of-Center will vote for that Democrat: the Right-of-Center will always vote for a Republican.


By pandering to (1) The Base, (2) the business community, and (3) the Protestant Christian community, Republican Tom Reynolds, PS&E, is a few points ahead of the Democrat . . . and this lead is in a BLUE state.

Voters just plain like tough politicians.

Which leads me to a second, related gripe.

On this particular issue of Democrats pandering right . . . sHillary's ad is an utter joke. Mind, that ad is polished, professional, slick-as-hell, and stylish. sHill's Madison Avenue friends (i.e. Rupert Murdoch - who helped her raise funds earlier this campaign season, as you may remember) served her well.

The irony is that, with the imagery in the ad, sHill's makes overt allusions any political junkie will recognise. And those allusions are actually why I don't remember the ad as vividly as I would like: these allusions were so well-done, so right-pandering, and so unexpected I went into cognitive shock. I really could not believe this was an ad for a Democratic candidate. That moment, I instantly realized the ad was NOT targeting New York Democrats. SHill's ad is targeting center-right political junkies, who will catch and understand the imagery.

The images in sHill's ad (1) point towards her vote for the Iraq war; (2) her cheerleading for Bush Administration policies in Iraq; (3) her co-sponsoring of anti-flag-burning legislation; (4) her willingness to "compromise" on abortion; (5) her continued support of both DOMA and a Federal Marriage Amendment; (6) her pro-Reganomics stances (stances she shares with her husband Bill) supporting both tax cuts and pro-business, not pro-worker and pro-New-York-Citizen, policy.

In light of all I have shared this morning, I just have one question I want answered (ouside of, "When is sHill getting the hell out of New York to return, permanently, to Arkansas?").

Where are the strong Democrats?

Feingold, who regrew his testicles after losing them during the 2000 Ashcroft debacle (Feingold cast the deciding vote in favor of Ashcroft, an "Olive Branch" to the Bush administration: it seems Feingold has since seen the error of his ways), does anyone outside the (1) net-roots, (2) minorities, and (3) GLBT folks have a spine out here in Democrat Land?

Are there any strong Democrats around who can fight - especially given we don't need to spin-and-lie like Republicans to win at hardball given both the facts and issues (and, one would hope, our ethics, too)?

I will vote this November.

I will, for the most part, vote Democratic this November.

I surely will not vote for sHill this November: I will vote for her Green Party or Socialist Party of Communist Party opponent.

But I have to confess, in more cases than I would like, when I cast my vote this November? I will also worry that my vote is being wasted on the lesser of two evils.

So, anyone know? Democrat with a spine? Seen one lately? Or are we, The People, The Party Backbone, and The Party Checking Account screwed yet again?

Will we, once again, not win by fighting for anything - but rather win because people have grown disgusted with Republicans?



Saturday, October 14, 2006

Rep. Gerry Studds, 1937-2006

Rep. Gerry Studds, age 69, died today due to pulmonary embolism. With the Foley issue hot in the press, Gerry's affair with a page that rightfully earned him censure is the MSM's obituary meme but they're neglecting the critical dissimilarities.

Gerry, unlike Foley, had the courage to face his problem with dignity and accept his censure with grace. He used it as a wakeup call to grow into both personal acceptance of himself as a gay man and a strong advocate for our equality under the law.

I will never forget the image of him summoning the Congressional liaison team of the office of the Commandant of the Coast Guard into his office after it was made known that the Commandant was joining in with the Navy Secretary's illegal use of official military means to encourage and enable military personnel to lobby Congress during the gays-in-the-military battle of 1992-3 and that the Coast Guard commandant had personally invited Gary Bauer to deliver an inflammatory prayer breakfast speech on the subject in the wake of bigoted servicemembers' attacks on both civilian and military people perceived to be gay in that time of heightened emotion -- and that the commandant had worded the invitation to the prayer breakfast to his subordinates in the D.C. area in a "must attend" manner that was impermissable given its religious nature.

The two handsome liaison officers in their impeccably tailored dress whites squirmed uncomfortably in their chairs in Gerry's office where they were unceremoniously commanded to sit as Rep. Studds read the salient portions of the Constitution to them, lecturing with particular emphasis on treason involving the military overstepping its bounds by trying to usurp civilian control of the military.

Gerry's was no idle instructional reading. As chairperson of the subcommittee overseeing the Coast Guard, he held their purse strings. The message was not lost on the commandant.

I remember, too, Gerry's gentle power when he visited the Holocaust Museum on the pre-opening day set aside for Congressional preview. At the time, visitors were randomly assigned the name, picture, and brief biography of a person who actually experienced life in the Holocaust as they were just before the Nazis came to power.

As luck would have it, the machine issued Gerry the information of a young gay man whose birthday he shared but who was just barely a generation older than Gerry.

Gerry took the elevator to the exhibit's fourth floor beginning, lingering over the dense information about how the Nazis seized power and remarking about similarities to the present day. He spent extra time at the portion exhibiting pink triangle artifacts.

At stations along the museum's tour one put the information pass of the person one was assigned to follow into machines that updated the information as the Holocaust years progressed. Gerry put the ticket into the machine every time with great hope, seeming to hold his breath as he read the fate of "his" shadow fellow each time.

One by one, the machines informed everyone else in Gerry's tour group that the person they were assigned had perished but, in a seeming miracle, the young man Gerry was assigned survived.

Then, in the bleakest part of the museum came the last machine telling of any remaining peoples' fates in the last days of the Holocaust. Gerry put his card in the machine and it printed out a short statement telling of his young man's capture, internment, and demise in a death camp just days before its liberation. Gerry began to cry, quietly saying over and over, "It could've been me. It could've been me."

He kept the young man's information pass and, I've been told, referred to it throughout his life after that, using it as an inspiration to make positive change.

Rep. Gerry Studds had the courage to be real, to feel, to grow, and used his life's experiences in the service of others. The angels will welcome him and, I imagine the spirit of the young Holocaust victim he held in his heart will be among them.


Thursday, September 21, 2006

On Gay Men, Police, and the Parks

This is an open letter to a man who was recently detained at a public park because he was talking with his significant other after having walked past a playground with mothers and children present. Apparently one of the mothers complained to the police. It happened in Indianapolis but it could've happened almost anywhere in the United States.

Dear Scott,

Regarding your recent police detention for having the temerity to talk with another man in Broad Ripple Park:

What exactly was the complaint? If you'd wanted to sit in plain view of the others in that park and kiss and touch each other except for genitalia fondling, it was your right, you know.

Status is not probable cause.

Get the police report. Put it online here. Seek the help of an aggressive attorney who gets that this was outrageous.

This is hardly a rare and isolated incident.
* People in Indiana have been arrested for legal touching in a manner that could not have been seen by anyone -- constituting private behavior even though it occurred on public property. There have been court decisions in our favor on this.
* One fellow was arrested on an officer's lie for reading the Sunday paper at a picnic table, eating his McDonald's take-out breakfast, and not denying that he was gay.
* Another case involved a man exposing his penis standing facing a urinal -- the charge was public indecency. I couldn't help but wonder if the Indianapolis Police Department and Marion County Prosecutor expected him to use the urinal by peeing his pants.
* One esteemed lobbyist on police issues in Indiana's statehouse was well known as a cop for masturbating while watching men have sex in the park, priding himself on his ability to time his ejaculation so that he got off in time to arrest those he was getting off watching before they had a chance to.
* Not that long ago, some Indianapolis City-County Councillors actively pushed to ban all gay people from city parks. The officer/lobbyist above beat one arrestee so badly the day of one public meeting on the subject that the fellow's jaw was broken in several places and his skull was fractured.

If the complainant was an obvious idiot, as has been suggested, she should've been treated as such, with simple, discrete observation of you on the part of the officers establishing that there was nothing amiss if they couldn't figure out that she was an obvious idiot by speaking with her enough to leave you alone altogether. There was no cause to accost you demanding identification, much less hold you until you "checked out".

Even if you'd had a previous conviction for public indecency in a park, unless you were under probation condition or court order keeping you from such facilities, you had as much right as anyone to be where you were undisturbed.

Too many of us have internalized too much guilt about ourselves as sexual beings. It invariably surfaces in discussions about parks and such.

Remember, if you were hets, your public gropings would be considered cute, the places you did it would be iconographically nostalgic, with names like "Lover's Lane", and they'd celebrate it with cherry blossom petals falling gently to the ground to the tune of Etta James, calling it "Pleasantville" or, at the very least, the backseat of a '54 Chevy in "American Graffiti".

If they wanted to stop it, they would not hire (expensive) hunky plainclothes detectives to invade your private-in-erstwhile-public spaces nor persuade you to have sex in illegal ways when you might well have picked up someone and found some measure of legal privacy. They would not create special extra-punitive legislation that is unequally applied to you. They would not hold pre-election arrest sprees targeting you. They would not harass the private sexual venues that serve as alternatives to public behavior they claim they're trying to stop despite that they've barely done any of the things that have been demonstrated to reduce its incidence.

Not only would they stop belittling you and your people and disrupting your attempts to create lawfully married relationships, creating more of why this is an issue to begin with, they would cut back the brush, put warning signage and (cheaper to hire) uniformed officers in places where there was activity of concern to keep it from happening instead of verbally and physically communicating that they were people who would not be offended by your entreaties then busting you when you took them up on their offers.

You are not having more public sex than they are. You're just being punished for it many times more than they are. And the press colludes. And it will end when you make it end.


Friday, August 11, 2006

Wedge This!

Sen. Ken Gordon, proud new grandfather and Majority Leader of the Colorado Senate, just reminded me why I think he's the bee's knees. He's a Democrat who has, in a long career of political leadership, avoided partisan warfare, preferring to fight his battles on the merits of the issues with humor and integrity. He's running an uphill battle for that state's Secretary of State job * so that he can ensure that voting there is fair for all. If you can help his campaign, please do.

The Special Session:

In 2004, a number of states put the issue of gay marriage on the ballot. Some say this helped turn out conservative voters and was a factor in Bush's reelection.

I'm not sure this is true, but it is part of the mythology of 2004, and it has caused both parties to look for ballot measures to help turn out their voters. In Colorado, the Republican ballot measure that was supposed to turn out conservative voters in 2006 was Initiative 55, the ban on services to illegal immigrants.

This is why some Republican leaders insisted we have a special session after the Supreme Court's decision to prevent 55 from going on the ballot. It had more to do with winning candidate elections than actually dealing with the issue of immigration.

During this special session, Republicans did not advocate for passing a law to prevent immigrants from receiving services. Instead, the Republicans pushed to put a measure on the ballot so that "the people can have their right to vote."

When Ed Jones (R- El Paso), went to the microphone and spoke of the "people's right to vote," I asked him if the people had a similar right to vote on domestic partnerships. I handed him a petition to help put domestic partnerships on the ballot. He wouldn't sign it. I tried to place a pen in his hand.

"Get your hand off of me," he said.

I said, "What about increasing the minimum wage? Do the people have a right to vote on that?"

Apparently the people only have a right to vote on services for illegal immigrants.

Let me be clear: I agree that immigration is a real issue that needs action. My objection is to those who would use it for political purposes in ways that cause collateral damage to people who are American citzens.

Joan Fitzgerald had a bill that allowed services only to those legally here, and would have done it as of August 1st, rather than after a November election. The Governor blasted it during a rare committee appearance.

But then something happened. Business went to the Governor and pointed out that nearly 200,000 people who would not be able to provide documentation are working in Colorado. There was a bill pending that would have caused all of these people to lose their jobs. I wasn't in the meeting, but when I heard that statistic, I thought we need to understand the impact of what we are doing a little better before we risk the economy of Colorado.

Maybe the Governor decided the same thing. In any case, he worked out a compromise with Democratic leadership, and we passed legislation that does require proof of citizenship before people can receive services, but doesn't put it on the ballot.

Some Republicans were outraged. Senator Mitchell (R-Broomfield) said in the Rocky Mountain News, "Bill Owens is the Bill Clinton of Colorado politics. He took over eight years ago, when the Republicans were in the majority in the legislature, and he's lost that. Now he continues to triangulate and make clever deals and treasure his personal approval rating."

This is an amazing statement from a Republican legislator about our Republican Governor. What has happened is that the Governor, as he did on Referendum C, has decided not to be a knee-jerk supporter of far right positions. He has this troublesome ability to pay attention to the welfare of the state and work across the political spectrum.

In the end, Colorado benefits from the compromise and a divisive issue does not end up on the ballot. We passed 11 pieces of legislation that deal with immigration now. This is frustrating to those who were looking for something to excite controversy and prejudice. Unfortunately these ploys often work.

People are upset. Many people work at low paying jobs. They don't have decent health care. They are frustrated with America's foreign policy, or the lack of one.

The current administration in Washington has done nothing to provide access to affordable health care for people. It has done nothing to help people who are not wealthy or in the pharmaceutical or oil industry. It can either face the justified wrath of the people in the next election or it can divert the attention of the people to some "other," for instance illegal immigrants, which they tell you are the source of your problems.

Don't let them trick you either here or in Washington.

Smite them with your votes.

Please forward this along.

Ken Gordon

* Watch his exclusive-to-the-net candidacy announcement ever here. It could well be the funniest such announcement of all time.


Thursday, July 27, 2006

Lesbian By the Grace of the Goddess, Queer By Choice

I've never been comfortable basing our rights on a 'we can't help it' rationale. It suggests that we're somehow pitiful things -- that non-exclusively heterosexual sexual orientation is a defect, not the 'every other point on the infinite-points line segment that is normal human sexual orientation' that they are.

It also begs the denial of rights to those who do exercise any level of control over their attractions (the stuff of sexual orientation at the combined sexual, affectional, and emotional levels) if such a thing is possible or to make conditional of those rights the exercising of abstinence or other-directional control of behavior related to those attractions a la the pre-Dos-Equis Exodus zombies.

Rights are rights. They are not meant to be conditional on accidents of birth or behavior one wouldn't expect of others. They are meant to just be -- as we are meant to just be.

I'm always suspicious when someone even wants to know why we're other than exclusively heterosexual without wanting to equally understand why people are exclusively heterosexual. I mean, when was the last time you heard such a balanced inquiry outside of a university sexology department anyway?

Worse, this be-nice-to-the-queers-'cause-they-can't-help-it strategy sends a message of brokenness to our people when we should be instilling pride and strength in who we are.

The Kinsey researchers, as if they were precursors to The Matrix's Morpheus, used to ask a question of their gay-identified subjects, "If you could take a pill that would make you heterosexual, would you?" Most in those dark days near the dawn of our fight answered that they would.

How often today do we hear the question, "Who in their right mind would choose to be gay?" Can you imagine anyone asking who in their right mind would choose to be black or Jewish or any number of other non-majority members of protected classes just because they're oppressed?

'Neo'-queer that I am, I would not take that pill. I prefer to live an authentic life, unplugged from the matrix of het convention, demanding in body, soul, word, and deed to be exactly the queer I am blessed to be. If truth be known, I'm a gay supremacist, firm in the knowledge that we're better than hets in many ways that matter to me (and were proven superior by researchers acting on behalf of the U.S. Army, no less, trying to figure out if they could more easily tell who the queers were so they could more efficiently keep us out of the service). Even if I wasn't a queer supremacist and despite having suffered loss of family, jobs, and other opportunities, as well as having been subjected to antigay violence, including rape, due to my sexual orientation -- enough of the standard reasons given for why people in their right minds wouldn't choose to be queer to count and then some, I'd still choose to be a lesbian -- and it doesn't define me as crazy.

How else, after all, would I have the spousal love of my wife that grows fuller and deeper with every day of our lives? Where would I find such a delightful subculture so rich with beauty and humor and the sort of strength forged in adversity that so fits my soul?

I love how big our hearts are that we care not only for each other as if we're all each other's family -- which we are having defined family beyond mere blood to encompass all those who act like it -- but also care for those who've been our oppressors and their unwanted offspring when their own have discarded them as if the Sisters of Perpetual Annoyance were the inspiration of Mother Teresa (which, in an odd way in HIV-driven urban need, they were.) The highest per capita queer occupations are not hairdressers or actors, they're allied health professionals.

I love our freedom to define ourselves as we see fit and the creative diversity with which we've done so. And hets are now benefitting from the heightened ability we've achieved to cry that the Emperor has no clothes evidenced in drug access programs for those who cannot afford pricey prescriptions and in the end of certain cruel and time-wasting drug testing and approval practices, for example, as well as in deflation of the doctor-as-unquestionable-god nonsense in favor of healthier doctor-patient communication. (Not to mention that they're alive and free because queers did things like whip the Revolutionary troops into shape for Washington and saved their little behinds with that Enigma machine thing in World War II.)

I love that we bring color and delight to the world, that we reproduce more deliberately and at levels not leading to overpopulation, that we do brunch, that we have roots as sexual outlaws that give us vitality and chutzpah as a people and that the disconnect between sex and reproduction we're blessed with left us emotionally and in practical ways free to explore sex for its own sake in all its happy variety of possibilities.

I love our ethic that jealousy is not a thing to be cherished or valued (hat-tip and a hug to George Michael) but that the people we have loved before are (absent abuse, of course) -- that we are an army less of lovers than of ex-lovers made cherished friends anew. I love that our relationship ethics are founded not on ownership but on honesty and the deeper love it takes to really want for the object(s) of our affection what they want for themselves.

I love our camp and our comraderie, our arts and talents, our ability to survive. I love that we are finally as a people learning to throw off the shackles of het-imposed shame.

If I were exclusively heterosexual, I'd be denied the depth of intimacy that comes from sharing love with someone whose body and mind responds so like mine and I would be relegated to the state of never really fully grasping what the object of my affection really felt -- that always-reaching-never-quite-there-no-matter-how-hard-they-try existence that hets suffer. They may say vive l'difference. Although I'll admit to feeling compassion for their loss, I say horsepucky-- vive l'homogeneite!!

Now, don't get me wrong, I don't support any sort of anti-het oppression. After all, some or all of them might not be able to help it.