29 April 2010

More FOX than FOX.

Today on NPR they did a story on Catholic child rapers, which concluded with the "expert" cheering what a great job Ratzinger has done (ignoring that Ratzinger was instrumental in the coverups) and how Ratzinger's (homophobic) "reforms" have been really helpful.
There was a story on Arizona's "Papers Please" immigration law, where they allowed Professor Kris Kobach, (who wrote the law on behalf of an overtly racist organization, a small fact they didn't bother to mention), to defend it against callers who mostly supported it. One caller who objected to the law was clearly insane.
There was also a segment on the Tea Party movement, explaining why it's not really quite as racist as it is because they found a black guy in the movement, and the black guy didn't think it was racist.
Finally, there was a segment that gave some asshole from Goldman Sachs the opportunity to say what great things Goldman has done for the community.
Okay, did I mention this was on NPR?
Holy shit.

SCOTUS holds that crosses are special.

By now you've heard that SCOTUS has decided 5-4, in Salazar v Buono, that crosses at ad hoc war memorials are not "merely" symbols of Christian belief, and even if they were, "the Constitution does not oblige government to avoid any public acknowledgment of religion's role in society."
Apparently WWI was a religious war. I did not know that. I fault my public education.
Typical of the Roberts "Vatican" Court, justice isn't blind, it's sectarian. All five conservative Roman Catholics, as usual, voted as a bloc. Justice Kennedy's longwinded, muddled and absurd holding descends into full pathos:
Here, one Latin cross in the desert evokes far more than religion. It evokes thousands of small crosses in foreign fields marking the graves of Americans who fell in battles, battles whose tragedies are compounded if the fallen are forgotten.
Bullshit. The cross at issue is sections of white metal pipe stuck in the ground in a park the middle of nowhere. Hell, the cross that's standing now isn't even the original, so a "historical structure" argument doesn't even have merit. There are WWI memorials all over the world, there is a national day of remembrance, and the war is still taught in schools. The soldiers are collectively not in any danger of being forgotten, and absolutely nothing prevents any American from erecting a WWI memorial with a cross on their private property.
But that's not good enough for Christian theocrats.
Lest you think I'm being unfair to Christians, it's worth noting that park officials previously rejected a proposal to locate a Buddhist shrine near the cross.

23 April 2010

How do we start our revolution?

I've been thinking about this a lot lately.
HRC is happy with incrementalism. Join the Impact got a good start with its rallies, but promptly petered out. Get Equal shows terrific promise, but is so far a little one-dimensional. That said, it wasn't for them, I'd say the gay rights movement was pretty much stalled and spiraling into bitch-only mode.
So what's the key to getting the movement moving again? How is it done?
Are we too far away, both temporally and in character, from the Civil Rights movement of the '60s to be able to mimic its successes?
Is there a way to do a real netroots movement that could have the immediate impact and success of the Haiti donation texts, but also be long-term sustainable within the short-attention-span theater of the internet?
Do we start an entirely new movement, separate from the dozens of of existing groups, or do we form some kind of a congress that builds on their experience and strengths? Would such a confederation work together toward a common goal or just become a colossal turf war?
How do we start our revolution?
We should have something in place when the larger LGBT public and our supporters come to realize, in a few months, the full extent of our political betrayal.

15 April 2010

"My notion of patriotism."

I'm almost certain that I'm the only person on Earth who doesn't care for the Harry Potter series.
However, I find that I do like the author very much. Unlike tax-cheating multimillionaire assholes like U2, J.K. Rowling says in a Mother Jones interview:
I chose to remain a domiciled taxpayer for a couple of reasons. The main one was that I wanted my children to grow up where I grew up, to have proper roots in a culture as old and magnificent as Britain’s...A second reason, however, was that I am indebted to the British welfare state; the very one that Mr Cameron would like to replace with charity handouts. When my life hit rock bottom, that safety net, threadbare though it had become under John Major’s Government, was there to break the fall. I cannot help feeling, therefore, that it would have been contemptible to scarper for the West Indies at the first sniff of a seven-figure royalty cheque. This, if you like, is my notion of patriotism. [emphasis mine]
Yes, I do like.

08 April 2010

The law of unintended consequences.

Here is Judge Glen Davidson's opinion denying Constance McMillen's petition that the Court issue an injunction (temporary relief pending the outcome of an upcoming trial) requiring her high school administration to reassert its role in coordinating her class prom.
Miss McMillen is able to jump 3 of the 4 required hurdles: (1) she establishes a substantial likelihood she will win her upcoming First Amendment case; (2) she establishes there's a substantial threat she will suffer irreparable injury if her injunction is denied; and (3) she establishes her injury outweighs any damage the injunction might cause the school.
Then Judge Davidson writes:
However, the Court is of the opinion that its failure to grant an injunction in this instance does not disserve the public interest. Defendants testified that a parent sponsored prom which is open to all IAHS students has been planned and is scheduled for April 2, 2010. Though the details of the "private" prom are unknown to the Court, Defendants have made representations, upon which this Court relies, that all IAHS students, including the Plaintiff, are welcome and encouraged to attend. The Court finds that requiring Defendants to step-back into a sponsorship role at this late date would only confuse and confound the community on the issue. Parents have taken the initiative to plan and pay for a "private" prom for the Juniors and Seniors of IAHS and to now require Defendants to host one as it had originally planned would defeat the purpose and efforts of those individuals. [emphasis mine]
Thus Judge Davidson ultimately denied Miss McMillen's injunction on two basis: (1) the school district testified that Miss McMillen would be welcome at the "private" prom, and (2) the court was unwilling to force the district to uncancel its official prom because that would undermine all the work that had gone into putting on the inclusive "private" prom.
The "private" prom discussed in the ruling of course turned out to be the potemkin prom. It was "inclusive" only insofar as it worked as the dumping ground for a handful of unpopular and undesirable students. Their classmates — with the assistance of some district employees — enjoyed themselves at yet a third prom, whose existence didn't cause them to be "confused and confounded." This third prom was, of course, closed to Miss McMillen — which was its purpose.
Private segregated proms are a longstanding Deep South tradition, so Miss McMillen had a sense of what everyone was up to, and said in early March she knew she'd be excluded from her class prom if it was privatized.
The only person who apparently couldn't crack that code is Judge Davidson.
By not issuing the injunction against the school, Judge Davidson sided with the district, then the district repaid the foolish judge by making a mockery of his decision.
The actual case that gave rise to the injunctive hearing remains active, and now the school has invited contempt of court citations and a punitive damages claim.
Kudos!

07 April 2010

I will always love this.

Saw this over at Joe.My.God.
Skip the crap, jump ahead to the 1 minute mark.

Cart, horse, etc.

I wrote about the census in March of last year, complaining that certain couples in legal marriages will not be counted as a married due to the indefensible Defense of Marriage Act, (the law Obama chooses to defend.)
Apparently, last July the Obama Administration quietly — and I mean really goddam quietlydetermined that the Secretary of Commerce has sufficient statutory discretion to decide how to compile census data, and DOMA doesn't require the census bureau to edit gay people's data.
Now, when I say this policy change was quiet, I mean I didn't know about it. I must've been absent that day. I'm not embarrassed to admit I didn't know it either, since full-time US Census employees that I spoke to at a Census Bureau festival booth in August 2009 were also unaware of this policy change, and it's their profession. When Beloved and I confronted the three census employees with regard to the policy of "editing away" gay marriages, all of them just sputtered for a while until they retreated into "hey man, we just work there."
Okay, the deadline to return census forms was April 1, 2010.
So this is certainly puzzling:
MEDIA ADVISORY: Census Bureau to Unveil 2010 Census LGBT PSAs with Actor George Takei and Honorable Christine Quinn
Historic ceremony to mark new chapter in Census Bureau outreach to LGBT community
New York, NY – On Monday, April 5th, the U.S. Census Bureau will officially present a series of six public service announcement (PSA) videos, which will comprise the first-ever round of Census video communications specifically focused on encouraging the LGBT community to fill out and mail back their census forms. Each of the six videos features a different well-respected community leader appealing to the LGBT community. The videos can be found on the Census Bureau’s YouTube page: www.youtube.com/user/uscensusbureau# and at www.2010Census.gov in the Multimedia section.
Four days after the Census deadline, the Census Bureau is going to explain how and why LGBT citizens should participate in the census?
Good Christ.
I watched a few of the videos, but they were pretty terrible. The ones I watched didn't actually answer the questions, "Does 'unmarried partner' presume 'straight couples who choose not to marry' or 'gay couples who are barred from marriage,' or both, and if so, does it make sense to lump the two together?" and "If my state of residence disregards my legal out-of-state marriage, what is my marital status?" and "How can I report that I'm gay or trans if I'm single or don't live with my partner?" and "Federal law requires honesty in responding to the census even as other federal law punishes military personnel for honesty, which law should I follow if I'm a servicemember?"
I tried to find answers to these questions by poking around the Census 2010 website, http://2010.census.gov. I looked in "questionnaire assistance center"? Nothing. Is it in "questions you may have"? No. "Partners"? Heh, no. Went to search box, typed in "gay marriage" — zero returns.
Fun! This is like an SAT question.
Went to www.census.gov and looked around. Ah-ha! "special topics." No. "Minority links"? No. Went to search box, typed in "gay marriage" and got a bunch of research reports. "FAQs" returned 65 pages of links. Searched within for "gay", got information on data collection and links to some tabulated data.
Seriously, nobody is going to go to this kind of trouble to figure out how to properly fill out a form.
This administration's policy is — for the purposes of the census only — "you is what you say you are." Thus, even where a gay couple is legally barred from marriage, should they choose put an X in the "married" box, they'll now be counted as a married couple. This, of course, totally screws up the data by inflating the number of legally married gay Americans.
Don't get me wrong, I'm thrilled that some gay Americans are finally being counted. But must it be done in an utterly halfassed, haphazard fashion?

06 April 2010

Majoring in bigotry.

By now you've read about honor-roll student Constance McMillen, the girl stuck in the Meanest High School in America — Itawamba Agricultural High School, of Fulton Mississippi.
Apparently the school is run by Glee Coach Sue Sylvester.
I do hope U.S. District Court Judge Glen Davidson has something exciting in store for Superintendent Teresa "stop hounding us" McNeese, Attorney Benjamin Griffith, Principal Trae Wiygul and the various teachers and parents who set up a fake prom and chaperoned the real "no queers or retards" prom — especially given that Judge Davidson ruled that excluding Miss McMillen violated her rights, but wouldn't order the school to reinstate the original prom based in part on the administration's implication that all students would be permitted to attend a new prom (which turned out to be the decoy).
IAHS Class of 2010, assuming you ever attempt to leave the tidepool you call a hometown, when you fill out the "Education" section on college and job applications, know that you might as well be writing "I'm proud to be a selfish, bigoted shitbag!" I hope it haunts you for the rest of your lives. I also hope that whenever you get short of money, you remember that tonic.com gave Constance $30,000 (and offered her a cool internship) because you're such an asshole.
Since your liar teachers and your degenerate parents evidently didn't teach you anything about history or decency, here's a more direct lesson for you — see if you can spot the parallels:
She spent all Saturday getting ready, fixing her hair, slipping into the pink floral dress her mother finished the week before. Her father, a Baptist preacher, helped pick her date, a respectable young man worthy of escorting his daughter, the first and only black student at Jones Valley High School.
She and her date drove that 1965 night with her father and a retinue of supporters and protectors toward the high school gym. They turned the corner.
The gymnasium was dark, empty.
"They had fooled us," Carolyn Tasmiya King-Miller said. "I remember going home that night in tears. I sat on the sofa in my prom dress, lying on my mother's breast and crying all night. That's when the silence started."
For decades, King-Miller, who now lives in San Francisco, has been stoic about the lonely, humiliating experience of integrating the school in Birmingham.
...white mothers of the prom planners had kept the location of the Jones Valley High prom a secret so she couldn't attend...
Although everyone knew, she didn't talk about her disastrous prom night. Her father told her not to humble herself by asking her classmates about the incident.
"Of course, they all taunted me about it — 'Did you like the prom, Caroline?'"
Vickii Howell reporting for The Birmingham News, printed in The Tuscaloosa News/Region Section — 24 November 2000
And lest you IAHS '10 morons think that story is a comedy, it isn't. Ms King-Miller's classmates ended up begging her for forgiveness 30 years later.
I hope eventually you develop at least that much decency. But I'm not optimistic.

On McCain's advancing dementia.

I don't blame an old guy for losing his mind. It happens, and it's sad.
I do blame the people around him who refuse to make him stop inflicting his crazy on an unsuspecting public. "John, you have been in the Congress for 27 years. You are a 73-year-old millionaire several times over. You've had a good go. It's time to give somebody else a chance. Don't let the end of your career make a mockery of the beginning."
That nobody can do this is evidence that, in the McCain camp, runaway egotism isn't just a problem at the top.

05 April 2010

UFO destroys roller coaster.

Actually, this is the rendering of the sculpture chosen to celebrate London's 2012 Olympics, which is represented by this equally hideous logo:
Somebody pointed out that it looks like Lisa Simpson blowing Bart. Now I cannot stop seeing it.
There's some pretty bad taste going on over the pond. I propose we airdrop Tim Gunn.

Important KC election tomorrow.

The Kansas City School District has 61 buildings operating at less than half-capacity. District funding is tied to enrollment, which has plunged since those buildings were constructed as a result of the desegregation debacle, and the enrollment freefall is worsening. The money is no longer rolling in, the overall economy is a shambles, and pointlessly overspending to maintain buildings that aren't needed is itself a reasonable argument to consolidate the district.
Consolidation is in order for many other reasons, and the current superintendent is sensibly planning to do just that. However, the natural enemy of reason and progress — the Kansas City School Board — opposes the plan, as they typically regard the KCSD as an employment agency they administer on behalf of family and friends.
Tomorrow we can elect three new, hopefully sensible, folks on the board. I encourage you to vote for Crispin Rea Jr. (at-large), Kyleen Carroll (at-large), and Joseph Jackson (subdistrict 4). They plan to work with Superintendent Covington.
Another thing Kansas City can't afford? Paying off the contract of yet another superintendent the idiot school board forces out.
Turnout is expected to be dismal, so the outcome may be decided by a just a few votes.
_________________________________________
UPDATE: I voted around 5:30pm, and the machine had tabulated a whopping 250 ballots. Sheesh.

04 April 2010

Happy Easter.

03 April 2010

I really admire kids sometimes.

Take for example, this sartorially nose-thumbing bunch from Alabama.
Erica DeRamus said she knew her school had dress code policies, but didn't think her dress would violate them...'What cleavage? That's exactly what I said. I wasn't trying to be rude or anything, but that's what I feel,' DeRamus said.
But principal Trey Holloday [sic] said it violated school policy stating that dresses cannot have cleavage falling below the breastbone or hems more than 6 inches above the knee..."it's there for protection of kids and not for management of kids," he said.
See girls, the dress code isn't intended to manage you, it's to protect you...from doing things school administrators don't want you to do. Which I guess is a little "managey" if you think about it for about a nanosecond. Or it's like, precisely the definition of managing, assuming you've got the intellectual firepower to tie your own shoes.
But thanks for the lesson in doublespeak, Principal Holladay.
No sweat.
So anyway, 18 Oxford High seniors end up busted for prom dress violations, but only Miss DeRamus took the 3-day suspension.
The other 17 have chosen the alternative punishment: paddling.
Seriously.
Seventeen nearly legal schoolgirls are daring Mr. Holladay to spank them for the naughtiness of wearing dresses that were too sexy.
Holy shit! There's so much win here, it must violate some other school policy.

02 April 2010

Your concern is noted.

The Concerned Women for America have spoken:
the bullying and harassment students receive over their "sexual orientation"... is a manufactured crisis.
Oh. Kids everywhere are just imagining their beatings and bullying. Why would gay people be targeted for abuse and violence in such a tolerant Christian nation as ours? Seriously, where would such a crazy idea originate?
I look forward to the CWA's evidence that any measurable level of school violence consists of gay kids attempting to beat the Christianity out of their schoolmates.

01 April 2010

Obama advocates for discrimination. Again.

No, this is not a repeat from six months ago. Or nine months ago. But it might as well be.
Considering that Obama opposes the Defense of Marriage Act in speeches, then goes to court to argue that it's a perfectly reasonable, valid and necessary law, it really should come as no surprise that yesterday Obama's lawyers at the Department of Justice submitted to a federal court yet another defense of Don't Ask Don't Tell as a rational government response to the sinister homosexual agenda of workplace equality within America's largest employer, in the case of Log Cabin Republicans v. Defense Secretary Robert Gates.
So far, President Barack Obama has fiercely advocated against gay rights in court each time the issue has arisen.
How this distinguishes Obama from an avowedly anti-gay president is only in the amount of deception: Obama is the bigger liar.
Speaking of deception, not one, but two experts on the DADT policy deposed by Obama's Department of Justice say their testimony was manipulated and misrepresented by DOJ attorneys so that the reader of the government's Log Cabin brief is left with the false impression that those experts seem to endorse things that they actually do not. Nathaniel Frank, a senior fellow at the Palm Center says, "I really said the opposite of what the DOJ motion claims." Likewise, Aaron Belkin, director of the Palm Center said, “they completely misrepresented my statement in the deposition.”
These are very serious allegations — ones that would get a private lawyer called in for a disciplinary hearing.
The Log Cabin brief also cites in support of the DADT law General Colin Powell's 1993 testimony about his beliefs regarding gay soldiers' potential to disrupt unit cohesion — beliefs Powell very publicly disavowed weeks before the brief was submitted.
Another thing happened a few weeks before the Log Cabin brief was submitted. President Obama, during his State of the Union Address, asserted before Congress and the American public that DADT unfairly denies gay citizens their rights, and repeal of the law is "the right thing to do."
I leave it to you, dear reader, to determine why Obama is diligently attempting to have yet another lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of DADT thrown out of court, even as he obliquely concedes its unconstitutionality and claims to be diligently working on the law's repeal.
Maybe you're thinking the Log Cabin brief was written by some DOJ holdover appointee from the Bush administration. If so, you'd be wrong. It's the product of Assistant Attorney General Tony West, a San Francisco attorney and Democratic fundraiser appointed to head the DOJ's civil litigation division by President Barack Obama.
Perhaps not coincidentally, AAG West is also the author of the infamous pro-DOMA brief filed in the case of Smelt & Hammer v. United States that argued that it's perfectly reasonable for the federal government to refuse to recognize the fundamental right of gay American adults to marry the adult partner of their choice on the same basis that states won't recognize marriages between adults and children or marriages between close relatives. President Obama thoughtfully tacked on this personal message:
Today, the Department of Justice has filed a response to a legal challenge to the Defense of Marriage Act, as it traditionally does when acts of Congress are challenged. This brief makes clear, however, that my Administration believes that the Act is discriminatory and should be repealed by Congress. I have long held that DOMA prevents LGBT couples from being granted equal rights and benefits. While we work with Congress to repeal DOMA, my Administration will continue to examine and implement measures that will help extend rights and benefits to LGBT couples under existing law.
What...? Fuck you. That doesn't even sorta make sense. I believe DOMA is discriminatory and violates the Constitution's Equal Protection Clause, even though I'm arguing exactly the opposite in court. The law is certainly unjust, but sorry, my interest in tradition trumps your need for justice. Don't worry, I'm studying the issues and pretending to repeal DOMA. Seriously, that's his insane defense of the indefensible. And as it turned out, by "extending benefits under existing law" he meant "I'll be damned if I let some federal judge order me to allow some California dyke put her wife on a federal Blue Cross plan."
Naturally, President Obama doesn't feel compelled by tradition to enforce or defend every law, just the ones he finds inconvenient or harmful to...y'know, decent people. For example, federal immigration law required deporting an illegal alien military widow because she wasn't naturalized by a legal deadline. He didn't enforce that one, which is nice. Federal law requires busting medical marijuana dispensaries, but he won't do that either, which is good. Obama has also used "signing statements" on multiple occasions to articulate which portions of a given federal law he intends to ignore. Presidents Reagan, Bush, Clinton and W didn't feel compelled to defend every law they disagreed with either. Ferchrissakes, Marbury v. Madison was precipitated by President Thomas Jefferson ignoring part of a law he disagreed with as a matter of policy, and SCOTUS basically agreed he had the right to do so.
So "tradition" my aching ass.
Ultimately, in each case the Obama administration argues before the federal bench that discrimination against gays is a legitimate government objective, and laws specifically targeting gays for discrimination are the rational way for the government to accomplish that legitimate discriminatory objective.
The federal bench pretty much uniformly accepts this logic, because the "rational basis review" generally applied in gay Equal Protection cases has come to mean the court will either accept or invent some half-assed rationalization justifying the existence of the contested law. As you might imagine, that interpretation renders the word "rational" nearly as devoid of meaning as the word "review."
That analysis is also an incorrect understanding of how the standard of review was intended to be implemented. A law fails rational basis review when the law itself is irrelevant to achieving a legitimate governmental objective, or when the objective itself is invalid.
Since the president has conceded publicly, again and again, that the discriminatory purpose of DADT and DOMA are invalid, I wonder why some clever federal judge somewhere hasn't asked of one of Obama's lawyers or his solicitor general why they shouldn't be estopped from making arguments inside a courtroom that they've disavowed outside the courthouse.
I would, but I'm kind of a dick like that.
At the very least, some of these gay rights attorneys ought to be making that point in their own briefs.

America's backbone.

It's been one year since marriage equality came to Iowa. A year ago, Governor Chet Culver said he personally opposed equality, but would stand by the decision of the courts.
Meanwhile, the bigots have been busy, even proposing a constitutional amendment to undermine the legal rights of their family members, friends and neighbors.
The legislature rejected the amendment, the sky did not fall, nor did the wrath of God wipe Iowa from the map. But the governor did have this to say about the Iowa legislature:
...Discriminatory amendments to our state constitution have no place in our state constitution. Regardless of our personal views, we have a line that needs to be drawn between the executive branch and the judicial branch and I think Iowans are ready to move on and accept [the Iowa Supreme Court's] unanimous decision. — Governor Chet Culver
Ah, the flyover rubes of Iowa remain more legally progressive than California, New York, Washington, Oregon and Florida.
Well done, guys.