In a country that doesn't (officially) recognize state-sponsored religion, whose Constitution says "all men are created equal," where bigotry and bias are abhorred — why do otherwise intelligent and sensitive people feel they can engage in hate speech against gay people?

Despite tenets such as [More...]



We're seeking other writers who would like to monitor news reports and file their discoveries and perspectives here. If you're interested, click here to send an e-mail.



Saturday, April 23, 2005

God Bless Colbert King

Finally -- someone is rallying the troops of fair-minded Christians against these extremist zealots who aim to advance an American jihad. God bless The Washington Post's Colbert King.

Hijacking Christianity . . .

The American flag was appropriated by the political right wing years ago. Now the Christian right is trying to hijack religion. This time it shouldn't be allowed to happen without a fight.

In 1969 I returned to the United States from Bonn with my family after working for three years on issues directly affecting the security of American interests. It was the height of the Vietnam War. What did I find when we reached home? The flag had been taken over by self-styled patriots, noncombatant domestic supporters of the war and vocal opponents of the civil rights movement. Nixonites and George Wallace supporters were sporting flags in their lapels and stickers on their cars. Old Glory had been appropriated as the exclusive property of those who believed in "law 'n' order," a hard-line foreign policy and the primacy of conservatism in American politics.

It didn't help that some Vietnam War protesters stupidly burned the American flag. But what really ensured the loss of the flag to those who fancied themselves as having a monopoly on patriotism was the failure of equally patriotic Americans on the left and the middle to have any stomach for a fight.

Emboldened by their appropriation of the flag, ideologues on the right have now set their sights on religion, and specifically Christianity, as the means to promote their political agenda. And as the promoters of tomorrow's "Justice Sunday" national telecast have demonstrated, there is no depth to which they won't sink in their campaign to seize the country.

The statement by one of the sponsors of tomorrow's event, Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, is an example of the Holy War that is being launched by the right. In one of the most outrageous smears to be uttered by a so-called religious leader, Perkins said that "activist courts, aided by liberal interest groups . . . have been quietly working under the veil of the judiciary, like thieves in the night, to rob us of our Christian heritage and our religious freedoms." That is an unmitigated lie that should not be allowed to stand.

Which judges are out to rob Christians of their heritage? That is religious McCarthyism. Perkins should name them, provide evidence of their attempted theft of "our Christian heritage" or retract that statement with an apology. Don't count on that happening.

Angered by Democratic opposition to some of President Bush's judicial nominees, Perkins's group has also put out a flier charging that "the filibuster . . . is being used against people of faith." To suggest Democrats are out to get "people of faith" is despicable demagoguery that the truly faithful ought to rise up and reject.

But will that occur in American pulpits tomorrow? The Christian right counts on the religiously timid to keep their mouths shut. So why not exploit religion for their own ends? They will if we let them.

And that's just it. Americans of faith -- and those lacking one -- ought to vigorously resist attempts by power-hungry zealots to impose their religious views on the nation. That means standing up to them at every turn.

It means challenging them when they say of Americans who support a woman's right to choose; the right of two adults to enter into a loving, committed, state-sanctioned, monogamous relationship; the right to pursue science in support of life; the right of the aggrieved to launch aggressive assaults against racism, sexism and homophobia, that they are not legitimate members of the flock. Where do those on the religious right get off thinking they have the right to decide who is in and who is out? Who appointed them sole promoters and defenders of the faith? What makes them think they are more holy and righteous than the rest of us?

They are not now and never will be the final arbiters of Christian beliefs and values. They warrant as much deference as religious leaders as do members of the Ku Klux Klan, who also marched under the cross.

They should be resisted, not pandered to by politicians. Case in point: Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist. The Republican leader is going to appear by videotape at tomorrow's self-pity party. He shouldn't. But if he does, Frist should use the occasion to tell the assembled that they are wrong in saying Bush's nominees are being blocked because they are people of faith. He should say that invoking Christianity as an instrument to advance a political agenda or to vanquish a political opponent is divisive, demagogic and beyond the pale in American politics. And if Frist shows up on TV and passes on the opportunity to place his party on the side of tolerance and goodwill, then his performance will be Exhibit A in the case to be made against his presidential quest.

The Bergen Record in Hackensack, N.J., editorialized that the attempt by the Christian right to dominate all three branches of government "has to frighten anyone who is not a Christian conservative. It should frighten us all." Baloney. It should make us mad. Fighting mad. -- Colbert I. King

Link --> http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A10688-2005Apr22.html

Microsoft = Evil

Sorry I've been out of commission this past week. I'm appearing on stage again. Tonight's show is our last one -- so I'll be posting updates consistently again this coming week.

Look what happens when I take a week off. Microsoft caves in to misguided right-wing pressure.

The whole sad story is detailed below.

It's time to download Firefox. Go now --> http://www.mozilla.org/products/firefox/

L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center Condemns Microsoft's Withdrawal of Support for Civil Rights Bill, Asks Company to Return Award

LOS ANGELES, April 22 -- In response to Microsoft's withdrawal of support for legislation that would have outlawed discrimination against gay and lesbian people in Washington, the L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center, which presented Microsoft with its Corporate Vision Award in 2001, is asking the company to return the award.

"We honor companies that, among other things, set a high standard for others by exhibiting leadership in advancing the cause of lesbian, gay, transgender and bisexual equality," said L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center Chief of Staff Darrel Cummings. "Because of Microsoft's apparent capitulation to the demands of anti-gay extremists and withdrawal of support for a bill that would do nothing more than protect gay and lesbian people from discrimination, we believe it's no longer worthy of our highest corporate honor."

At the L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center's 30th Anniversary Gala in 2001, Microsoft was honored because the company had been a leader in opposing anti-gay initiatives, was one of the first companies to offer domestic partnership benefits and include sexual orientation in its corporate non-discrimination policy, and has supported AIDS and GLBT organizations across the country. Center leaders are concerned about the company's apparent shift in its support of civil rights legislation for the GLBT community. Phone calls from the Center to Microsoft have not been returned.

"One of the most basic civil rights is protection from discrimination," said Cummings. "By withdrawing support for legislation that would protect the GLBT community from discrimination -- especially in its home state -- we're very concerned about the direction Microsoft is headed. It sends a dangerous message to the rest of corporate America, and to society in general, and may be cause for our community to evaluate its support of Microsoft." -- U.S. Newswire

Link --> http://releases.usnewswire.com/GetRelease.asp?id=46293

Saturday, April 09, 2005

Maybe His Partner Will Be a Calming Influence

I don't know if other gay commentators will be quick to forgive this guy. But I'm giving him a pass for now. Yes, he helped get Jesse Helms elected, but we've all done stupid things -- things we sincerely regret -- in our pasts. It appears he's trying his hardest to distance himself from the prevailing trend of Republicans invoking radical Christian conservative ideals. For that alone, I'll give him the benefit of the doubt. For now.

(By this, of course, I mean I'm not criticizing his prerogative to get married. If the union of other right-wingers and Repugs have escaped our attention, let's not break precedent now. The issue is that we should all be afforded the right. Criticize him for his views, sure. But if we didn't clamor for the dissolution of Dr. Laura's marriage when she spouted off like the rightwing bitch she is, we ought to give this guy a break on his nuptials as well.)

G.O.P. Consultant Weds His Male Partner

WASHINGTON, April 8 - Arthur J. Finkelstein, a prominent Republican consultant who has directed a series of hard-edged political campaigns to elect conservatives in the United States and Israel (during) the last 25 years, said Friday that he had married his male partner in a civil ceremony at his home in Massachusetts.

Mr. Finkelstein, 59, who has made a practice of defeating Democrats by trying to demonize them as liberal, said in a brief interview that he had married his partner of 40 years to ensure that the couple had the same benefits available to married heterosexual couples.

"I believe that visitation rights, health care benefits and other human relationship contracts that are taken for granted by all married people should be available to partners," he said.

He declined further comment on the wedding, which was in December.

Some of Mr. Finkelstein's associates said they were startled to learn that this prominent American conservative had married a man, given his history with the party, especially at a time when many Republican leaders, including President Bush, have campaigned against same-sex marriage and proposed amending the Constitution to ban it. Mr. Finkelstein has been allied over the years with Republicans who have fiercely opposed gay rights measures, including former Senator Jesse Helms of North Carolina, and has been the subject of attacks by gay rights activists who have accused him of hypocrisy. He was identified as gay in a Boston Magazine article in 1996.

One of Mr. Finkelstein's associates, who declined to speak on the record, citing Mr. Finkelstein's desire for privacy, said Mr. Finkelstein did not view his marriage as a political statement and had specifically decided to have a civil ceremony rather than a religious one. This associate argued that [during] the past 20 years, Mr. Finkelstein had identified himself as a libertarian and an opponent of big government, distancing himself from social conservatives as they have gained political muscle and dominance in the party.

Mr. Finkelstein's associates declined to provide his spouse's name. He was married at his home by a gay state official, whose name and office were not released. The ceremony was attended by relatives of both men, a few friends and a state legislator, an attendee said.

None of Mr. Finkelstein's better-known political clients, among them Gov. George E. Pataki of New York and former Senator Alfonse M. D'Amato of New York, attended, that person said. Several of Mr. Finkelstein's long-term political associates said that he had not told them about the wedding, and that they had learned about it from a reporter.

The wedding was disclosed by an associate of Mr. Finkelstein's, and he confirmed it in the interview.

Mr. Finkelstein has frequently come under criticism by gay rights groups for representing politicians who have been ardent foes of gay rights. He helped create the template for a line of attack he repeatedly invoked against Democrats, including Mario M. Cuomo of New York, describing them as liberal.

In Israel, Mr. Finkelstein used similar attacks against the Labor Party as an adviser to Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and as a consultant to the winning and losing campaigns of Benjamin Netanyahu, the former prime minister.

Mr. Finkelstein has regularly described himself as a libertarian who supports same-sex marriage and abortion rights while opposing big government. In an interview with Maariv, an Israeli newspaper, after the American elections last year, he criticized the Republican Party as growing too close to evangelical Christians, warning it could cause long-term damage to the party.

Details of Mr. Finkelstein's relationship have appeared in regular news accounts over the years, as they did in the Boston Magazine article, which reported that Mr. Finkelstein lived with his partner and two children in Ipswich, Mass.

Still, some conservative friends said Mr. Finkelstein's marriage would roil conservatives and highlight divisions among them over the importance of social issues to their movement.

"In recent years, Arthur hasn't pretended to be a social conservative," said one longtime conservative associate, who cited Mr. Finkelstein's aversion to publicity in declining to be identified. "But this is the same man who was the architect of Jesse Helms's political rise." -- Adam Nagourney

Link --> http://www.nytimes.com/2005/04/09/politics/09finkelstein.html?ex=1270699200&en=ca95af744bb6439b&ei=5090&partner=rssuserland

What Happens When W Meets a Crowd He Can't Handpick?

I have no direct comments about this. I just figure, because it is hardly being covered in the American mainstream media (I found this in the Toronto Star), it should be posted on as many alternative sources as possible -- so it can be known and recorded for history.

You have to be some piece of work to be booed by a crowd at the Pope's funeral, no?

Bush Jeered by Vatican Crowd

VATICAN CITY ‹ U.S. President George W. Bush joined throngs of the faithful today in paying final respects to Pope John Paul, the pontiff whose stands on abortion and other social issues meshed with his but who criticized both him and his father, former president George H.W. Bush, for waging war with Iraq.

Not only was Bush Jr. the first U.S. president to attend a papal funeral, he also headed a delegation to the three-hour funeral mass that included his father and former president Bill Clinton.

When the president's face appeared on giant screen TVs showing the ceremony, many in the crowd outside St. Peter's Square booed and whistled.

Bush rode to Vatican City in a limousine displaying two flags, the customary American flag on the right fender and, as a tribute to the Pope, the white-and-yellow Vatican banner on the left.

On Thursday, Bush offered fresh regrets to Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi over last month's shooting death of an Italian intelligence officer in Iraq by U.S. troops, his spokesman, Scott McClellan, said.

Bush stayed out of public view on Thursday, meeting privately with Italian leaders and U.S. Catholic leaders in town for the funeral.

The president wanted to stay out of the limelight ahead of the funeral because "he recognizes the significance of the moment," said McClellan.

Relations between the United States and Italy were strained last month when U.S. troops in Iraq fired on a car rushing an Italian journalist to freedom, killing an Italian intelligence officer and wounding the reporter.

Berlusconi denounced the attack. Shortly thereafter, he announced plans to start drawing down his country's 3,000-strong contingent in Iraq in September, although he said the two events were not related.

Link --> http://www.thestar.com/NASApp/cs/ContentServer?pagename=thestar/Layout/Article_Type1&c=Article&cid=1112953574682&call_pageid=968332188492&col=968705899037&DPL=IvsNDS%2f7ChAX&tacodalogin=yes

Sunday, April 03, 2005

Potential Defense: 'But We're Republicans. That's What We Do'

I have to admit -- this doesn't shock me that much. I mean, they're gay, yes -- but they're still Republicans.

I just find it hard to believe the worker who was fired didn't know beforehand the behavior he uncovered was simply par for the course for any Republican.

Yes -- my bias is showing. But until Karl Rove is expunged, I'm afraid it will be hard for me to think any differently.

Former Worker Sues Gay Republicans For $15 Million

Washington D.C. --  The former Chief Operating Officer for Log Cabin Republicans is suing the organization, claiming he was fired for blowing the whistle on questionable spending, and for libel.

In a suit filed in Superior Court for the District of Columbia, Dwight Lodge alleges wrongful termination, negligent supervision and defamation.

The suit claims that Lodge joined LCR in January 2004 where he streamlined the organization, helped develop online fundraising, and oversaw the running of the gay GOP group. 

But, in October, the suit says, Lodge became concerned about "improper and well-documented business and financial practices of LCR/LEF¹s Executive Director, Patrick Guerriero."

Lodge alleges that among the problems he uncovered were the "misuse of restricted funds, reclassification of funds and creation of false reports to obtain matching funds, and the reclassification of funds to hide losses incurred by certain programs for the purpose of misleading the board."

The court papers allege when Lodge presented his concerns to Guerriero last November, "Guerriero cavalierly and inexplicably dismissed Mr. Lodge¹s concerns. Within three weeks, Mr. Guerriero began disseminating defamatory rumors of Mr. Lodge¹s purported 'drug use.'"

On December 22, Lodge says, he was fired.

The suit says Lodge has "suffered, and continues to suffer, severe pain and suffering and extreme mental anguish and emotional distress," and he "has suffered and will continue to suffer a loss of earnings and other employment benefits and job opportunities."

The suit seeks $5 million for each of the three allegations plus legal fees. 

Log Cabin said it would fight the suit.

"Dwight Lodge was dismissed for good cause," LCR lawyer Craig Engle told 365Gay.com.

"The board of Log Cabin has complete confidence in Patrick Guerriero and his stewardship of the organization," Engle said from New Orleans where LCR is holding its annual convention. -- 365Gay.com Newscenter Staff

Read the entire article here --> http://www.365gay.com/newscon05/04/040105lcrSuit.htm

Saturday, April 02, 2005

What Are the Odds? Ask Karl Rove

Science -- and a group of University professors from across the nation -- are confirming what we've all suspected all along.

Scientific Analysis Suggests Presidential Vote Counts May Have Been Altered -- Group of University Professors Urges Investigation of 2004 Election

The absence of any statistically-plausible explanation for the discrepancy between Edison/Mitofsky¹s exit poll data and the official presidential vote tally is an unanswered question of vital national importance that needs thorough investigation.

(PRWEB) March 30, 2005 -- http://uscountvotes.org/ucvAnalysis/US/Exit_Polls_2004_Edison-Mitofsky.pdf

Officially, President Bush won November's election by 2.5%, yet exit polls showed Kerry winning by 3%. According to a report to be released today by a group of university statisticians, the odds of a discrepancy this large between the national exit poll and election results happening by accident are close to 1 in a million.

In other words, by random chance alone, it could not have happened. But it did.

Two alternatives remain. Either something was wrong with the exit polling, or something was wrong with the vote count.

Exit polls have been used to verify the integrity of elections in the Ukraine, in Latin America, in Germany, and elsewhere. Yet in November 2004, the U.S. exit poll discrepancy was much more than normal exit poll error (and similar to that of the invalid Ukraine election.)

In a recent survey of US members of the world's oldest and largest computer society, The Association for Computing Machinery, 95% opposed software driven un-auditable voting machines, of the type that now count at least 30% of U.S. votes. Today's electronic vote-counting machines are not required to include basic safeguards that would prevent and detect machine or human caused errors, be they innocent or deliberate.

The consortium that conducted the presidential exit polls, Edison/Mitofsky, issued a report in January suggesting that the discrepancy between election results and exit polls occurred because Bush voters were more reticent than Kerry voters in response to pollsters.

The authors of this newly released scientific study "Analysis of the 2004 Presidential Election Poll Discrepancies" consider this "reluctant Bush responder" hypothesis to be highly implausible, based on extensive analysis of Edison/Mitofsky's exit poll data. They conclude, ³The required pattern of exit poll participation by Kerry and Bush voters to satisfy the exit poll data defies empirical experience and common sense under any assumed scenario.²

A state-by-state analysis of the discrepancy between exit polls and official election results shows highly improbable skewing of the election results, overwhelmingly biased towards the President.

The report concludes, ³We believe that the absence of any statistically-plausible explanation for the discrepancy between Edison/Mitofsky¹s exit poll data and the official presidential vote tally is an unanswered question of vital national importance that needs thorough investigation.²

The full scientific report is available here:

An executive summary of the report is available: http://electionarchive.org/ucvAnalysis/US/Exit_Polls_summary.pdf.

Contributors and Supporters of the Report include:
Josh Mitteldorf, PhD - Temple University Statistics Department
Steven F. Freeman, PhD - Center for Organizational Dynamics, University of Pennsylvania
Brian Joiner, PhD - Prof. of Statistics (ret.) University of Wisconsin
Frank Stenger, PhD - Professor, School of Computing, University of Utah
Richard G. Sheehan, PhD -Professor, Department of Finance, University of Notre Dame
Paul F. Velleman, PhD - Associate Prof., Department of Statistical Sciences, Cornell University
Victoria Lovegren, PhD - Department of Mathematics, Case Western Reserve University
Campbell B. Read, PhD - Prof. Emeritus, Department of Statistical Science, Southern Methodist University
Jonathan Simon, J.D., National Ballot Integrity Project
Ron Baiman, PhD ­ Institute of Government and Public Affairs, University of Illinois at Chicago

US Count Votes is a Utah non-profit corporation. It is seeking financial support to complete its "National Election Data Archive" project. The goal of the project is to apply statistical and analytic methods to investigate the integrity of the 2004 elections and to provide for timely verification of the integrity of future elections..

Read the entire report here --> http://www.emediawire.com/releases/2005/3/emw222958.htm


Here's one Republican's view of the misguided direction the GOP has taken under the Bush administration. I'd like to say "Amen," but I fear I might confuse the fundies into thinking I am supportive of them.

The Grand Old Sectarian Party

31 March 2005 (The New York Times) -- By a series of recent initiatives, Republicans have transformed our party into the political arm of conservative Christians. The elements of this transformation have included advocacy of a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage, opposition to stem cell research involving both frozen embryos and human cells in petri dishes and the extraordinary effort to keep Terri Schiavo hooked up to a feeding tube.

Standing alone, each of these initiatives has its advocates within the Republican Party and beyond. But the distinct elements do not stand alone. Rather, they are parts of a larger package, an agenda of positions common to conservative Christians and the now-dominant wing of the Republican Party.

Christian activists, eager to take credit for recent electoral successes, would not be likely to concede that Republican adoption of their political agenda is merely the natural convergence of conservative religious and political values. Correctly, they would see a causal relationship between the activism of the churches and the responsiveness of Republican politicians. In turn, pragmatic Republicans would agree that motivating Christian conservatives has contributed to their successes.

High-profile Republican efforts to prolong the life of Ms. Schiavo, including departures from Republican principles like approving congressional involvement in private decisions and empowering a federal court to overrule a state court, can rightfully be interpreted as yielding to the pressure of religious power blocs.

...I do not fault religious people for political action. Since Moses confronted the pharaoh, faithful people have heard God's call to political involvement. Nor has political action been unique to conservative Christians. Religious liberals have been politically active in support of gay rights and against nuclear weapons and the death penalty. In America, everyone has the right to try to influence political issues, regardless of his religious motivations.

The problem is not with people or churches that are politically active. It is with a party that has gone so far in adopting a sectarian agenda that it has become the political extension of a religious movement.

When government becomes the means of carrying out a religious program, it raises obvious questions under the First Amendment. But even in the absence of constitutional issues, a political party should resist identification with a religious movement. While religions are free to advocate for their own sectarian causes, the work of government -- and those who engage in it -- is to hold together as one people a very diverse country. At its best, religion can be a uniting influence, but in practice, nothing is more divisive. For politicians to advance the cause of one religious group is often to oppose the cause of another.

...During the 18 years I served in the U.S. Senate, Republicans often disagreed with each other. But there was much that held us together: We believed in limited government, in keeping light the burden of taxation and regulation. We encouraged the private sector, so that a free economy might thrive. We believed that judges should interpret the law, not legislate. We were internationalists who supported an engaged foreign policy, a strong national defense and free trade. These were principles shared by virtually all Republicans.

But in recent times, we Republicans have allowed this shared agenda to become secondary to the agenda of Christian conservatives. As a senator, I worried every day about the size of the federal deficit; I did not spend a single minute worrying about the effect of gays on the institution of marriage. Today, it seems to be the other way around.

The historic principles of the Republican Party offer America its best hope for a prosperous and secure future. Our current fixation on a religious agenda has turned us in the wrong direction. It is time for Republicans to rediscover our roots.

John C. Danforth, an Episcopal minister and Republican who represented Missouri in the U.S. Senate (1976-1995), most recently served as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations.

Read Danforth's entire column here --> http://www.stltoday.com/stltoday/news/stories.nsf/editorialcommentary/story/26C4306CF413118F86256FD50037BC49?OpenDocument

Bush Twins Enlist

Bush Twins to Join Air Force Tech Unit in Iraq

By Thomas C Greene in Dover, Delaware
Published Friday 1st April 2005 06:26 GMT

First daughters Jenna and Barbara Bush will be assigned to a high-tech unit in Iraq, the Air Force Human Resources Command has confirmed. Having finished basic training at the Officer Training School (OTS) at Maxwell Air Force Base in Alabama, they are scheduled to receive advanced training in telecommunications at the School of Information Technology before deployment overseas with the USAF Information Operations Squadron. For security reasons, the exact dates have been withheld.

The girls' surprise enlistment was kept secret until they successfully completed their basic training. During an invitation-only press conference while on leave between OTS and their school assignment - conducted, symbolically, at Dover Air Force Base in Delaware where America's war dead are brought - the twins described their motives and rationale.

"We'd always planned to do this," Jenna explained. "But first, we had to graduate from college, and then we had to help our father win the 2004 election, to ensure that America would continue to have the kind of strong, inspiring leadership it needs in these troubled times."

"Right," Barbara added emphatically. "But now that the election is past, it's time for us to serve this wonderful nation of ours in a new way - in a way that reassures the American public that standing up to terrorists and rogue states, even at the expense of personal risk, is always the right thing to do."

Under questioning from reporters, Jenna acknowledged that "yes, it's important for our father's credibility as Commander-in-Chief as well. People still insist on saying that he side-stepped the Vietnam war, which of course he didn't - and it's very hurtful to hear that - but because he's the President, my sister and I sort of have to go beyond what would be expected of ordinary people."

The twins readily admitted to having been afraid of their parents' reactions to the news that they would enlist together and ask to serve together in a combat zone.

"We're their only children, so, naturally, we worried that they'd go totally postal," Barbara said. "But we prayed together as a family, and in time we all came to the same conclusion."

"Everyone knows what a devoutly religious and exceptionally patriotic family we are," Jenna added, "so it shouldn't surprise anyone to know that this wasn't as hard as it might have been for other people. Of course, it cuts both ways. I mean, when you're as close as we are, it's hard to let go of each other. But we made the ultimate argument: we said to our parents, 'how can we, as a family, ask other families to put their children at risk for the world's benefit, when we aren't willing to set the right example and accept the same challenges?'"
Legendary Bush family religious piety also played a significant role, the girls explained.

"As our father led us in prayer, asking for strength and wisdom from Our Lord - as he does in every important decision of his Presidency - divine Grace touched all of us, and we were of one mind," Barbara recalled. "We all understood that my sister and I had been called to set this example of hope and optimism for all of America and the world beyond. And we knew as well that it would be a disgrace and a scandal for us not to accept freely the consequences of our father's decision to go to war on behalf of freedom and liberty."

"How could my sister and I, in good conscience, allow other Americans to shoulder this burden if we were not just as willing?" Jenna asked rhetorically. "How could our parents allow it? What a terrible message to send! Well, fortunately, that's not the way we Bushes are made. We have a long history of public service and personal sacrifice."

"Exactly," said Barbara. "It's an honor to serve America in this way. And if, God forbid, something should happen to us over there, we all have the convictions of our morals and faith to accept and endure it. We are an uncommonly patriotic family; make no mistake."

"But it's about far more than accepting sacrifice and risk on behalf of others," she continued. "Jenna and I are proud of the way that our father's policies have sown democracy and freedom throughout the Middle East. The first tender shoots are visible in Lebanon, Palestine, Iran, Egypt, and of course, Iraq. We want to be there for the great flowering of democracy that's coming. We want to experience it ourselves. To be honest, that's what we're most excited about."

Security was a recurring issue of concern among the press. During questioning, it transpired that the US Secret Service would continue providing protection services to the twins. Asked if this reduces the whole exercise to a publicity stunt, Jenna quipped that "that's one of the reasons we're not afraid to ship out."

"But seriously," she added, "Iraq is extremely fluid and uncertain security-wise. Our best protection isn't the Secret Service, but the fact that we all wear the same uniform. It will be difficult to pick us out from the crowd. I doubt that we'll be at greater or lesser risk than any other Air Force officers."

"If your Hummer drives over an explosive device, what difference does it make if you've got an agent sitting next to you?" Barbara added. "You're both going to get blown to pieces. Our grandfather's plane was shot down in World War Two. He didn't have Secret Service protection, but if he had, what difference would it have made? An agent wouldn't have kept the plane in the air; he would only have been one more person to rescue."

It was evident that the twins had worked through their decision thoroughly, and with careful consideration for their family and fellow Americans. Try as they might, the press could not rattle them.

They'd clearly shed their Gen-Y party girl ways during military training, while Jenna especially - who had long tended to self-indulgent pudginess and air-headed blonde gushiness - exhibited a surprisingly lean figure along with admirable mental and moral clarity.

It's become inappropriate to refer to them as girls now; they've earned the right to be called young women. They have, without the usual trickery of professional media relations management, positioned themselves as leaders of their generation, setting an example to be envied, and of course, to be emulated.

At the end of the press conference, in view of such unexpected and delightful developments, there was nothing left to do but stand and salute.

If you've gotten this far still believing this, I urge you go to the top and see what date this report was filed. Happy April Fools! The joke has been on us for quite some time now, no?

Link --> http://www.theregister.co.uk/2005/04/01/bush_twins_volunteer/

Friday, April 01, 2005


I'm so tired of tonight's "All Pope, all the time" coverage. What's respectful about obsessively watching the sand slowly trickle down from this man's hour glass? Isn't there a commandment that says, "I am the Lord thy God.... Thou shalt have no other gods before me"? It seems to me the cult of personality surrounding this individual man serving (supposedly selflessly) in a religious role is disrespectful to the divine Himself.  

How come when religious righties embrace a "culture of life" they routinely end up counting down the hours until someone dies?

Besides, contrary to the predominant conservative media blitz this week, there are plenty of open-minded, devout, religious people who think this Pope has been an affront to true progress for understanding, compassion, tolerance and mercy in the world. If these weren't destined to be true Christian ideals, I don't know what are.

I think an apt metaphor here might be milk. The Pope has an expiration date stamped on his ass -- and as he's gotten older, he's just soured. I think it's finally time the batch was freshened.

Unfortunately, as John Gallagher points out in the article below, the next holier-than-thou might be worse than even John Paul II. That's really hard to swallow. But, then again, I guess there's always something else to drink.

A Legacy of Homophobia

For anyone under 30, it's hard to imagine the Catholic Church as anything other than an ideological monolith -- intentionally insulated, closed to outsiders and incredibly hostile to gays and lesbians. After all, these are the folks who labeled us "morally disordered" and even "evil." And for that, we have John Paul II to thank.

More than any other pope in the modern age, he was a man of his time and place: the years of the Cold War and Eastern Europe. In such an environment, it's easy to develop hard and fast beliefs, especially when you have the institutional force of two millennia backing you up. It's not a coincidence that John Paul II, Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher all took their place on the world stage at the same time. The world was easy to portray in black-and-white terms (as it is again today) -- them against us, evil vs. good. (Guess which side you're supposed to be on.) And urging them on was the firm conviction that the liberal excesses of the '60s and '70s -- including gay liberation -- needed to be corrected or, more accurately, wrung out of the system as vigorously as possible.

But unlike Reagan and Thatcher, John Paul II had absolute authority. Even Ron and Maggie couldn't claim to speak for God. And the result of that absolute authority is a church that slammed shut the window of change that was opened during the Second Vatican Council. For a brief moment, it was possible to look at the church as a progressive force for good in the world. Thanks to John Paul II, that moment is gone.

And thanks to John Paul II, homosexuality has risen to the top of the list of modern evils. This elevation was due to his own experiences. As a young man, he lived through the Nazi occupation of Poland. As a bishop and then cardinal, he endured the repression of a communist regime. Once communism fell, something else had to take its place as the ideology of evil. With the rise of gay rights, we were the easy pick to fill the void.

It's not that John Paul II didn't take aim at other targets. There's always that hardy perennial -- abortion. But you have to admit that nothing seems to have spurred the Church and John Paul II on as much as homosexuality. Bishops who were considered weak on the topic, such as Bishop Rembert Weakland of Milwaukee, were essentially laid off. Dignity, the gay Catholic group, was banned from holding services in local churches.

The pinnacle (or nadir) of the John Paul II papacy has to be the notorious Halloween letter, issued in 1986, which declared gays and lesbians "disordered," "self-indulgent" individuals who "threaten the lives and well-being of a large number of people." So much for pastoral outreach. Even the pope's last major statement, his recent book, tore into homosexuality as an ideology of evil.

Don't expect the new pope to make any changes. Imagine a court packed with conservatives getting ready to select the next president. (OK, so you don't have to imagine it.) That is the operating definition of the College of Cardinals, which will choose the new pope. Since practically all were appointed by John Paul II, who enforced a pretty stringent litmus test for conservative ideology, it's hard to imagine them picking somebody from left field, so to speak.

One name being thrown around is Joseph Ratzinger, head of the Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and the author of the Halloween letter. As pope, he would serve for what would be a limited time (he is 77, after all, so the odds are against a very long papacy) while the church sorts out its next move. If you don't think things could be worse, think of a Ratzinger papacy. He's the James Dobson of the Vatican, watching to make sure that no one strays an inch from the philosophical hard line. With him as pope, every day would be Halloween. -- John Gallagher

Read the entire article here --> http://www.planetout.com/news/feature.html?sernum=1123

I Guess He Was Just Trying to Earn His "Kiddie Porn" Badge

Let me get this straight. If you're a law-abiding gay person, the Boy Scouts don't think you're fit to be part of the organization. But, if you have an unquenchable taste for kiddie porn, that's fine. As a matter of fact, you'll be eligible for a distinguished service award.

Let this be a lesson to any organization that wants to argue that its "moral vision" makes it necessary to discriminate against and exclude gay people. Karma will bite you on the ass every time.

Boy Scout Leader Charged with Child Porn Was Defender of Anti-Gay Policy, ŒYouth Protector¹

Boy Scouts of America¹s National Director of Programs Douglas Smith will appear in a Dallas courtroom tomorrow to face charges of possessing child pornography, according to reports by NBC News.

At one point, Smith served as Chairman of the Scout¹s Youth Protection Task Force, according to a web site operated by the Western Alaska Council of the Boy Scouts of America, RAWSTORYQ has discovered.

In addition, Smith was one of 42 recipients of a Distinguished Service Award, presented to "Arrowmen who have rendered distinguished and outstanding service to the Order on a sectional, area, regional, or national basis. It is given primarily for dedicated service to the Order and scouting over a period of years.²

The Boy Scouts have fueled controversy by keeping gays from its membership and leadership ranks.

In a bio published along with his award description, Smith was described as a resident of Texas who had achieved the rank of Eagle Scout, scouting¹s highest honor. Smith was also recognized for "his visionary support [which] has allowed our Order to move to new level." -- Michael Rogers, RAWSTORYQ Editor, with research by Scott Hutcheson

Read the entire article here --> http://rawstoryq.com/news/2005/index.php?p=45


No matter who you are or where you are on life's journey, you are welcome at the United Church of Christ.


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