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Archives, 2005 Nov. 30

Wednesday December 21, 2005

Meanwhile, Back At The John Smid Clean Shaven Manly Men’s Volleyball Club…

The folks at the Queer Action Coalition have this little tidbit posted:

Is Love In Action in need of some Love In Action?

Over the past week we have been informed of a few interesting, yet unconfirmed, incidences that lead us to believe that Love In Action may be experiencing difficult times...

It’s a good read, not gloating but simply noting that since LIA barged their way into the world spotlight by forcing ex-gay therapy onto gay teens against their will, they’ve apparently fallen into some difficult times. Interestingly, it seems that membership in the residential program is down. Now is this because the heightened scrutiny on them is clearly showing people that their program simply doesn’t work, unless you stay in it forever? But I wonder if their isn’t also some reluctance on the part of gay adults, who may otherwise be inclined to go this route, to take it with people who are perfectly willing to force themselves onto gay kids who are content to be who they are.

Face it…how comfortable can someone really be, trying to rid themselves of their same sex sexual longings, in the company of miserable, frightened, heartbroken kids who are there against their will? How comfortable can someone really be opening up their deepest feelings to people who have no trouble whatsoever prying those feelings by force out of helpless teenagers? How comfortable could anyone with even a shred of basic human decency be in that kind of environment…a willing volunteer among terrified and miserable child prisoners?

We know in fact, because of a BBC documentary about a man who checked himself into Love In Action, that the presence of a teenaged girl who was in the program against her will was disturbing to him, and to the BBC crew filming him. I’m convinced that the emotional assault on her was a big factor in his checking himself out of the program. And it doesn’t surprise me in the least that Smid and company never considered this when they came up with Refuge, and probably can’t understand, even if it’s spelled out for them, why that situation would bother anyone.

So…anyway…go visit QAC because it looks like they’re posting again. I particularly liked the part where someone says Dr. Rice “has been heard murmuring that the devil is in the midst at Love In Action, referring to internal conflicts within the organization.” I thought to myself Cartoon Material…! And scroll down to where they’re holding a fundraiser for Morgan Jon Fox’s This Is What Love In Action Looks Like documentary and put a few bucks in the bucket.

by Bruce Garrett | Link |

He Knows If You’ve Been Bad Or Good…Tra, La, La…

Yes, there is a lot of alarm going ’round, and rightly so, after president dry drunk is claimed he can break the law, at any time for any reason he sees fit to call a national security issue. as Atrios says, “The conservatarian movement is now officially dead.”

At a press conference Gonzales basically just implied that Bush could do whatever the fuck he wanted no matter what Congress does with the Patriot Act.

Digby, who you should read often, puts it this way:

Look, the problem here, again, is not one of just spying on Americans, as repulsively totalitarian as that is. It's that the administration adopted John Yoo's theory of presidential infallibility. But, of course, it wasn't really John Yoo's theory at all; it was Dick Cheney's muse, Richard Nixon who said, "when the President does it, that means it's not illegal."

This was not some off the cuff statement. It was based upon a serious constitutional theory --- that the congress or the judiciary (and by inference the laws they promulgate and interpret) have no authority over an equal branch of government...

But this is all excuse making. No…the conservatarian delusion officially ended the week after election day 2000, when the political right conspired to steal an election it could not win by legitimate means, and the conservatarians went along for the right. Anyone not too afraid to look at that fact head on could see who was driving that bus for what they really are, and the word is Fascists. But many conservatives and libertarians choose not to see. Power intoxicates even the idealists. Perhaps especially the idealists.

Now it seems, the old line conservatives, libertarians and even the old boy republicans, have become thoroughly appalled by the latest revelations, the latest sickening glimpse of the man behind the down home Texas facade. Finally it seems, a line has been crossed

No, Bush was desperate to keep the Times from running this important storyówhich the paper had already inexplicably held for a yearóbecause he knew that it would reveal him as a law-breaker. He insists he had "legal authority derived from the Constitution and congressional resolution authorizing force." But the Constitution explicitly requires the president to obey the law. And the post 9/11 congressional resolution authorizing "all necessary force" in fighting terrorism was made in clear reference to military intervention. It did not scrap the Constitution and allow the president to do whatever he pleased in any area in the name of fighting terrorism.

What is especially perplexing about this story is that the 1978 law set up a special court to approve eavesdropping in hours, even minutes, if necessary. In fact, the law allows the government to eavesdrop on its own, then retroactively justify it to the court, essentially obtaining a warrant after the fact. Since 1979, the FISA court has approved tens of thousands of eavesdropping requests and rejected only four. There was no indication the existing system was slowóas the president seemed to claim in his press conferenceóor in any way required extra-constitutional action.

Perplexing? It was there for all to see back in 2000. This is nothing new. When the three movement conservative supreme court justices, Rehnquist, Thomas, and Scalia, threw away everything they’d ever written about the limits of Federal power and state’s rights, to install their boy in the White House, you had to know right then what these people are made of.

And now half the republican leadership is facing corruption investigations. But of course. When people who are motivated by nothing more noble then simple greed and pure unadulterated selfishness get into power, how else do you expect them to behave? They started looting the moment they got their hands on the levers of power. And they did it secure and serene in the knowledge that might makes right. And for years the conservatarians looked the other way, or mumbled half hearted tut, tuts.

Even now there are people clinging to the myth that this is all about fighting the war on terror. Oh really…?

Pentagon Labels Gay Kiss-In A 'Credible Threat'

WASHINGTON, DC ñ According to recent press reports, Pentagon officials have been spying on what they call "suspicious" meetings by civilian groups, including student groups opposed to the military's "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" ban on lesbian, gay and bisexual military personnel. The story, first reported by Lisa Myers and NBC News last week, noted that Pentagon investigators had records pertaining to April protests at the State University of New York at Albany and William Patterson College in New Jersey. A February protest at NYU was also "The Pentagon is supposed to defend the Constitution, not turn it upside down." listed, along with the law school's LGBT advocacy group OUTlaw, which was classified as "possibly violent" by the Pentagon. A UC-Santa Cruz "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" protest, which included a gay kiss-in, was labeled as a "credible threat" of terrorism.

Servicemembers Legal Defense Network (SLDN) condemned the Pentagon surveillance and monitoring. "The Pentagon is supposed to defend the Constitution, not turn it upside down," said SLDN executive director C. Dixon Osburn. "Students have a first amendment right to protest and Americans have a right to expect that their government will respect our constitutional right to privacy. To suggest that a gay kiss-in is a 'credible threat' is absurd, homophobic and irrational. To suggest the Constitution does not apply to groups with views differing with Pentagon policy is chilling."

The simple fact is that the wiretapping laws Bush ‘authorized’ the breaking of allow for a warrant to be applied for up to 72 hours retroactively after the fact. The simple fact is that the courts that have been set up to oversee the application of this law have approved nearly all the government requests for warrants, and have only rejected four of them since 1979. So this business about how they can’t wait in an emergency to get a court order is pure bullshit. We’re either left with the prospect that Bush simply believes that the rule of law is for chumps and doesn’t care who knows it anymore, or he’s going around the warrant process because he knows damn well that no court is going to authorize the kind of domestic spying he wants to do, because there are no laws that allow it and no courts, not even conservative packed ones, who will sanction it. Like…oh…spying on journalists, or on your political opponents. The kind of thing police states do all the time. The kind of thing you do when you know perfectly well you have no democratic legitimacy, and you think democracy is a joke anyway.

This is serious business. The most serious business this republic can face. Are we still a democracy? Do we still have a government of laws…or do we now have a government only of men…? Not Andrew Johnson’s thumbing his nose at the Tenure of Office Act, a law enacted by Congress over Johnson’s veto to protect Lincoln’s Secretary of War, not Bill Clinton’s equivocating to Ken Starr about the sex he was having in the White House, rises to the level of danger to the republic that Bush’s conduct now represents. Conservative scholars Bruce Fein and Norm Ornstein say that should Bush keep defying the law on spying on Americans Congress should consider impeaching him. I say ‘consider’ is the wrong word here. If there is anyone left on capital hill these days who knows what being an American means, as opposed to being a loyal party member, then they must know they’d have no other choice. They Must impeach a president who believes he answers to no law, who believes that the constitutional rights of Americans exist only at his pleasure, and they must do it quickly.

QUESTION: Is spying on the American people as impeachable an offense as lying about having sex with an intern?

BRUCE FEIN, constitutional scholar and former deputy attorney general in the Reagan Administration: I think the answer requires at least in part considering what the occupant of the presidency says in the aftermath of wrongdoing or rectification. On its face, if President Bush is totally unapologetic and says I continue to maintain that as a war-time President I can do anything I want ñ I don't need to consult any other branches ñ that is an impeachable offense. It's more dangerous than Clinton's lying under oath because it jeopardizes our democratic dispensation and civil liberties for the ages. It would set a precedent that Ö would lie around like a loaded gun, able to be used indefinitely for any future occupant.

NORM ORNSTEIN, AEI scholar: I think if we're going to be intellectually honest here, this really is the kind of thing that Alexander Hamilton was referring to when impeachment was discussed.

For some time now, and more pressingly ever since it became staringly obvious that Bush and the Bush republicans lied this country into a war, the question hasn’t been whether a clique of power hungry madmen are at the helm of the ship of state, but whether or not America, the land of the free, the nation founded on liberty and justice for all, dedicated to the proposition of government of the people, by the people and for the people, still exists. I suppose that in the weeks to come we’ll see. If Bush is not held accountable for his lawbreaking this time, if he can get away with literally declaring himself to be above the law, then America’s future is in dreadful doubt. The worst may still be yet to come.

by Bruce Garrett | Link |

Tuesday December 20, 2005

Why We Fight…(continued)

I have family in Virginia. For many years after retiring, mom lived in a little corner of that state called Hillsville. I used to visit her regularly, and especially during the big Labor Day flea market down there. It’s a huge affair, transforming a tiny rural town into a massive sprawling bazaar with thousands of vendors in tents and RVs and, no kidding, hundreds of thousands of visitors over the four day weekend. Some years I brought a friend or two along with me. Times were, I’d hoped to bring a boyfriend along to see the spectacle, and meet mom. But mom passed away several years ago, and I am still woefully single. If I’m glad of anything in this life though, it’s being spared the necessity of choosing between ever seeing mom again, and the fear that if something happened to either me or my spouse while one or both of us were inside that state, our lives could be transformed in an instant into a living nightmare.

This is a horrific reality that gay and lesbian Americans have had to live with since Virginia, the state that says it is for lovers, passed the Affirmation Of Marriage Act, so draconian that by some accounts it even takes from same sex couples the ability to hold joint checking accounts in any kind of security. Or as the founder of Virginia’s largest family law practice and former head of the Virginia Bar Association’s family law section Edward D. Barnes put it to the Washington Post recently, “I would eschew the word ‘safe’ for the moment…”

Contracts such as wills and medical directives aren't really marital documents, he says, and, therefore, the law doesn't appear to be aimed at them. But because the law hasn't been tested in court, he is advising his gay clients to craft paperwork that plays down any romantic connection to their partners -- the opposite of what he told them before the new law passed. For now, he says, gays and lesbians need to seek out expert legal help and pray that their documents can withstand any potential legal challenge. "Since there's been no interpretation of this law, no one could give an ironclad" guarantee that wills and medical directives won't be affected, he says.

Which was the situation facing two retired women who lived in a home they’d owned in downtown Fredericksburg for 17 years:

Supporters of the law insist that it isn't intended to take away anyone's rights, but to affirm traditional values and an existing law that already banned gay marriage. But no one Tibby consulted -- legislators, lawyers, activists -- could tell her what judges might do with medical directive documents and wills under the new law. The legislation would have to be challenged in court before anyone could know for sure.

And with the religious right doing its level best to stack the courts with their own, and especially if Bush gets his chance to stack the Supreme Court with religious right activists, then all those convenient ambiguities in all those defense of marriage laws will come down on gay people like an axe. This is something every gay couple who lives in a red zone, like Barbara and Tibby, must face. And in fact, those two have had to face it already…

At this stage of their lives, Barbara and Tibby can't afford to be a test case. All that matters to them is being able to know, 100 percent for sure, that they will be together until the very end. They already know what it is like to be kept apart. Tibby still reflexively puts her right hand on her heart when she describes being barred from Barbara's recovery room at Alexandria's now-closed Circle Terrace Hospital, where Barbara had a hysterectomy in 1984. "Family only," the nurses said, quoting hospital policy. Then, as now, the law did not entitle Tibby to be with Barbara.

This Post story is a good one and you should read it for a sense of what the anti-gay right is doing to this country, let alone the lives of gay and lesbian Americans. All this bullshit about protecting the sanctity of marriage is swept away by the simple sickening fact that they’re going after any and all means same sex couples may use to protect themselves. It isn’t just marriage they want to deny us, but to be with our loved ones in the hospital. It isn’t just marriage they want to deny us, but the ability to insure that our loved ones are taken care of, when they can’t take care of themselves. It isn’t just marriage they want to deny us, it’s any shred of peace and contentment and above all security in each other. If they were so worried about the sanctity of marriage they’d be working to shore up their own faltering and failing unions. This is about destroying the lives of innocent people simply because they hate us, and they think that hate makes them righteous. They praise Jesus for the pain in our lives, and will fight furiously to insure they always have the right to inflict that pain. Because if we don’t cry, if we don’t bleed, then they aren’t righteous.

One day in March, Barbara pours out all her pain in her journal, mourning the loss of everything from her neighbors to the evening shadows on the Rappahannock. "Goodbye to our beloved church family," she writes. "Goodbye to friends of 30 years . . . Goodbye to all that is familiar and known and fits so well."

What is slowly happening to America, thanks to the Bush republicans who for decades now have been stoking fear and loathing of homosexual people for votes…

…and thanks also to a good many conservatives who feel a measure of distaste at all the hate mongering, but who regard themselves as republicans first and Americans second, this country is slowly becoming a patchwork quilt of territory where gay and lesbian American can live in peace, verses territory where our homes, our unions, and our very lives are in constant jeopardy. People are being forced to choose between living under a constant threat, or leaving behind family and friends they may never see again, for a chance to live the American dream that those family and those friends take for granted.

When Pat Buchanan said to Nixon, “Let’s split this country in two and we’ll pick up the bigger half”, did they realize that they were talking about splitting families apart too, let alone every small neighborhood full of people who had grown up together? Did they even care, these two champions of virtue and morality? We know what they did. They called it the ‘Southern Strategy’, but it could have just as easily been called the ‘Victory Through Fear And Loathing Strategy’. Instead of reaching out to Americans by speaking to the best within us, by appealing to our mutual hopes and dreams for a better tomorrow, they very deliberately took a bellyflop into the gutter for votes. And to this nation’s everlasting shame, it has worked for them again and again.

It didn’t have to be that way. But the people in the pews found that they didn’t really believe in the Christ who said we have to love our neighbors, and the patriotic and virtuous conservatives found they weren’t as patriotic and virtuous as they’d supposed after all. And it happened the day they both realized that their fears and loathings and hatreds could exalt them, and give them power that a religion of peace and a love of country would not. So they shed their religion and their virtues like snakes shedding their skin, and now the refugees are on the move.

Copyright © March 4, 2002 by Bruce Garrett
All Rights Reserved.

Link

by Bruce Garrett | Link |

Monday December 19, 2005

Poor Little Fella…

You spend so much emotional energy in this struggle preparing for the worst, that sometimes it’s a shock when the worst doesn’t happen. Of course it shouldn’t be…

There’s more on the cartoon page.

by Bruce Garrett | Link |

Wednesday December 14, 2005

No…Actually I Wasn’t Right After All…

Ford’s changing course. Or rather, not changing course to appease the AFA. They’ll be maintaining their gay supportive policies after all…

You asked directly for us to have Jaguar and Land Rover reverse its plans and advertise in gay and lesbian targeted publications in 2006. As we said, Jaguar and Land Rover made a business decision about their media plans and it would be inconsistent with the way we manage our business to direct them to do otherwise. It is clear there is a misperception about our intent. As a result, we have decided to run corporate ads in these targeted publications that will include not only Jaguar/Land Rover but all eight of Ford's vehicle brands. As we have said, the content will be appropriate and effective in connecting with the intended audience. It is my hope that this will remove any ambiguity about Ford's desire to advertise to all important audiences and put this particular issue behind us.

So I had it wrong after all. Whatever was going on between Ford and the AFA, Ford isn’t going to be appeasing them at the expense of the gay community. This is a big relief.

I’m this day and age of spin, spin, and more spin, I’m actually very impressed, heart-lifted even, by the clear and unambiguous reaffirmation by Ford of their commitment to fairness and dignity for gay and lesbian Americans. This is a good day for all of us.

[Update…] And just to make sure everyone knows they mean it, Ford put their statement on the front page of their web site!

by Bruce Garrett | Link |

Tuesday December 13, 2005

We Value All People. Now Get Back In The Closet.

I was right. Ford is just going to stick to their story.

Neil Giuliano, president of the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, was among the gay leaders who met with Ford and said Monday night he was "shocked and disturbed" by the company's statement.

...

"They are clearly not reaching out to the LGBT community to try to correct what they led us to believe was a wrong impression" made by the AFA, claiming credit with influencing Ford's business decisions, Giuliano said.

"It's very disappointing and frustrating. It almost feels like we were played."

You were Neil. Now Ford can claim it was willing to meet with gay activists too. But let it be said that you didn’t have much choice. You can’t very well go off on Ford about kowtowing to the AFA without first getting their side of the story. And now you can say that you were willing to meet with Ford too, and all Ford gave you for your trouble was a lot of greenhouse gas.

Ford’s game from now on is going to be to keep mouthing platitudes about their respect for diversity, while treating gay and lesbian consumers like they are radioactive. That statement Bill Ford made wasn’t directed at you and me Neil, it was aimed squarely at heterosexuals, because Mr. Ford knows that any boycott of Ford is only going to work if heterosexuals get involved with it too. They’re trying to peel off as much of our straight support as they can. They don’t give ratshit about what gay people think anymore.

They’ll keep the gay community, and the gay civil rights struggle at arms length, all the while speaking soft platitudes about diversity. They’ll treat us in their advertising and their marketing as if we didn’t exist, all the while mouthing sweet nothings about respect for people regardless of their sexual orientation. Those sweet nothings are meant exclusively for heterosexual ears to hear and believe. Ford’s game now is to talk the talk, but not walk the walk, and thereby paint any calls by the gay community for a boycott as being extremist and militant. And meanwhile, Ford kowtows to the worst bigots in America.

And the next step, never doubt it, is to get rid of domestic partnership benefits for their gay and lesbian employees. The AFA isn’t going to stand for Ford keeping that. The scam will likely be to make them vanish somewhere in negotiations with their unions, or as some kind of overall benefit restructuring, to meet coming economic challenges. I’m guessing that the benefits will vanish into some generic haze, like an anti discrimination law that is rewritten to take out the references to “sexual orientation”, and instead refers to some vague “non specific” class of people. Ford will get to claim they’re still treating all their employees equally, while not mentioning gay people by name, and in fact leaving same sex couples without the benefits they once had.

I’m beginning to see how the discussions between Ford and the AFA went. The AFA threatened a boycott. The Ford executive suite, for whatever reason, came to the conclusion that making the religious right angry would be worse for their bottom line in the long run then making the gay community angry. So Ford agreed in principle to meet the AFA demands. My thinking is that they came to this conclusion even before they sat down with the AFA. When they did sit down with them however, I think that Ford’s position was that any agreement between them and the AFA could not result in major damage to Ford’s image or Ford’s bottom line. The AFA may have come to the table with their set of carrots and sticks, but Ford was not without its own. How many red state jobs, Ford may have asked, would the AFA like to loose in a scorched earth battle between their supporters, verses the gay community and its supporters?

So I’m betting now that the secret treaty goes something like this: Ford immediately stops advertising directly to the gay community, and immediately withdraws all fundraising support for gay events and causes. I think the concession to allow the Volvo ads to continue reflects which straight consumer profile Ford is most worried about joining a gay counter boycott. The ads Ford will use won’t acknowledge the existence of gay people. Ford is essentially writing off the gay market here, so those ads are only there to buy them support among heterosexuals. And while Ford is pulling back on tangible support for the gay community, they will maintain a rhetorical support for diversity, also to buy them support among straight consumers. Ford is also allowed to keep their domestic partnership benefits for now, with the understanding that they will be eliminated later. And Ford may do all this while publicly claiming not have agreed to the AFA’s terms. The deal is that both parties will keep the specifics of the agreement secret, in order to prevent a consumer backlash.

So where does that leave us? Simple. However Ford and the AFA try to spin this Ford, at the behest of bigots, is pulling back on its support of the gay community, and gay equality. What we do is note each and every instance of that pull back. Here’s where Ford was…here is where they are not… When the first round of generic ex-gay advertising comes off the presses, I would throw it up side by side with previous Ford advertising to the gay community, and let the comparison speak for itself. I could compare Ford dollars, and Ford presence lent to gay community causes next year, with that of previous years, and that of other causes and communities Ford supports, and let the comparison speak for itself. I would, for the foreseeable future, compare the actions of the post AFA Ford with those of the pre AFA Ford, and let the comparison speak for itself. The AFA isn’t letting Ford off the hook with talk alone. But Ford is going to throw up a relentless smokescreen over the next few quarters about how it supports diversity, to cover it’s pull back from the gay community. All we have to do, is show that for Ford, diversity now ends at the gay community’s doorstep, and it didn’t before.

by Bruce Garrett | Link |

Reposted Cartoon.

I bumped the JPEG compression quality up a tad and that took care of the rippling effect I was seeing. But it nearly doubled the size of the file. (sigh) I reckon I’m just going to have to accept that the color cartoons will take up more bandwidth.

My apologies to those of you with dial-up modem connections and slower speeds. I’m open to suggestions.

by Bruce Garrett | Link |

Monday December 12, 2005

Mission Accomplished

Dan Perkins (aka Tom Tomorrow), vents a tad for all of us…

We put up our Christmas tree yesterday. It doesnít have much to do with my faith, or more specifically, my lack thereof ó itís been a few years since Sunday School, but I donít recall that Jesus had much to say about the relative merits of Douglas Firs vs. Scotch Pines. But itís still an important ritual, providing a sense of continuity to the scattered threads of my life.

And you know what? I donít want the spectral presence of Bill OíReilly hovering over that room. I donít want that moment to be about politics. I donít want the yearly bittersweet act of hanging the handcrafted ornaments I inherited when my mother died to feel like some sort of concession to the right-wing knuckleheads.

Atrios said it well a few days back ó these people have managed to spoil Christmas. Itís the story of the Grinch, re-told, except this time, the Grinch has learned to be even sneakier ó heís sucking the joy out of Christmas by posing as its biggest defender, creating conflict and strife where none need exist.

I grew up with my Yankee Baptist maternal grandmother in the household, a lady who didn’t seem to ever be happy unless she was making everyone else around her miserable. I’ve seen the element of that in this Christmas holy war since the religious right first started yap, yap, yapping about it a few years ago. They’re taking Christ out of Christmas…! Bullshit. Anyone who thinks this is about people demanding respect for the Christian origins of Christmas hasn’t been paying attention for the last couple decades of the Kultar Kampf. What’s offending these louts is that people they loath have been enjoying themselves at this time of year, when by all rights they should be down on their knees asking God to forgive them for being born.

There is a gay bookstore I visit frequently, Lambda Rising, that carries an assortment of rainbow stickers, including a cute little rainbow fish that always brings a smile to my face whenever I see it. We’re told so often that we have no right to any sort of spirituality, any kind of relationship with our maker just as we are, that whenever I see gay people fiercely holding on to their spirituality in spite of all the hostility I cannot help but feel delighted, and never mind what my own beliefs are. So in these stressful times, when it seems like the religious right has managed to take the joy out of every wonder and delight of the holidays, your gay and lesbian neighbors have a word of advice, gleaned from years of relentless spiritual oppression:

Screw The Bastards!

Put up your tree, if that’s what you always do this time of year, and decorate it recklessly. Put up the Christmas stockings and the holly and the ivy. Celebrate Christmas, if that’s your thing this time of year. And when strangers greet you on the street with a cheerful ‘Merry Christmas’, great them in kind as you have always done. You’re not kowtowing to Bill O’Jackass, because Bill, and James Dobson, and all the other crackpots of the religious right think that all that Peace On Earth, Goodwill Towards All stuff is just a bunch of liberal bleeding heart crap in the first place. On what planet did these bigots, these hatemongers for profit, ever become the standard bearers of the Christmas spirit, because it sure ain’t this one.

You keep Christmas in your heart like you always have, spread a little good cheer and love to the ones you love like you always have. We know we’re not the only ones celebrating this time of year, and we know that does not diminish us at all, but makes us, makes our world richer beyond compare. So smile at the stranger, and wish them well. You and I know the form of the wish is less important then the wish itself, the old wish, for peace on earth and goodwill toward all. Smile and enjoy the company and companionship of loved ones. Sing all the old Christmas Carols you grew up on, and never mind who thinks you and yours are not Christian enough, or your neighbors not human enough to deserve contentment and happiness and all the wonders of life. This is the time of year when the days grow short and the night comes quickly, and humans have always shouted Peace and Love and Goodwill cheerfully into the darkness. Light your candles.

by Bruce Garrett | Link |

The Telling Aside

Fox News’ (of course) John Gibson interviewing critic Bill McCuddy about the season’s new films, one of which being Brokeback Mountain, remarks on the kiss between Ennis and Jack…thusly:

"What's more difficult to watch: George Clooney getting his fingernails ripped out in Syriana or that?"

Why…of course torture is so much easier for you to watch John, then affection and tenderness. And that’s probably true even when it’s not between two people whose attraction to one another you cannot fathom. That’s why Fox hired you.

Now go give Charles Krauthammer a big sloppy one.

by Bruce Garrett | Link |

Ugh!

There’s some oddness in the JPEG rendering of this week’s cartoon, that I didn’t notice while I was looking at it on Bagheera (the Mac G5). I checked the final JPEG on Mowgli (while running Windows) and it looked fine there too. But the Windows PCs I’m seeing it on now there is this odd rippling around some of the details, which I’ve come to learn is an artifact of how JPEG handles it’s predictive compression. There must be some difference in the JPEG libraries on Mowgli, and it might for all I know, be that when I installed Photoshop Elements on him (I run the full blown Photoshop on Bagheera) I got better image libraries in the bargan.

When I get home tonight I’ll try upping the JPEG quality or I’ll switch to GIF. I didn’t really want to do any of that because it increases the image file size, which will make them take all the longer to download for those of you who don’t have broadband.

Argh!

by Bruce Garrett | Link |

Freight

And another thing I don’t want to hear any more about, is how liberals and democrats aren’t supporting our troops. Oh really…?

SAN DIEGO -- There's controversy over how the military is transporting the bodies of service members killed overseas, 10News reported.

A local family said fallen soldiers and Marines deserve better and that one would think our war heroes are being transported with dignity, care and respect. It said one would think upon arrival in their hometowns they are greeted with honor. But unfortunately, the family said that is just not the case.

Dead heroes are supposed to come home with their coffins draped with the American flag -- greeted by a color guard.

But in reality, many are arriving as freight on commercial airliners -- stuffed in the belly of a plane with suitcases and other cargo.

John Holley and his wife, Stacey, were stunned when they found out the body of their only child, Matthew, who died in Iraq last month, would be arriving at Lindbergh Field as freight.

Freight. Freight. With the suitcases and mail bags and boxes of commercial goods destined for your local boutique stores. Says it all doesn’t it? The rich man’s son who ducked Viet Nam in the Texas Air Guard and then bailed out of that when it got boring is playing war now with other people’s kids, and when they break he’s treating them like yesterday’s broken toys. But it’s not just Bush, they’re almost all like that at the great Let’s Remake The Middle East In Our Own Image war room. Very few of them have actually worn a uniform or seen actual combat. But they all think war is grand…when it’s somebody else getting ripped to bits by it. I don’t want to hear any more about how liberals and democrats aren’t supporting the troops. When was the last time anyone saw Bush attending a military funeral, or standing at attention while flag drapped coffins were unloaded from a plane? Come to think of it…is he on vacation again now?

by Bruce Garrett | Link |

Secrecy Is The Beginning Of…What Was That Again…?

Secret laws. It’s come to this now. Secret laws.

John Gilmore is suing the government because he doesn't think he should be required to show ID before boarding a commercial flight. I think this is stupid and he deserves to be thrown out of court.

At least, that's what I'd think if it weren't for this:

The Bush administration...claims that the ID requirement is necessary for security but has refused to identify any actual regulation requiring it.

A three-judge panel of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals seemed skeptical of the Bush administration's defense of secret laws and regulations but stopped short of suggesting that such a rule would be necessarily unconstitutional.

"How do we know there's an order?" Judge Thomas Nelson asked. "Because you said there was?"

....The Justice Department has said it could identify the secret law under seal, which would be available to the 9th Circuit but not necessarily Gilmore's lawyers. But any public description would not be permitted, the department said.

WTF? Call me naive, but I've never heard of a secret law. I've heard of secret courts and secret evidence ó which are bad enough already ó but not secret laws. When did this happen?

November 2000. You remember…the day the republicans stole America.

Secret laws. Secret laws that only judges can see, and only with special permission from the government…not defense lawyers. Secret laws. Secret laws. I don’t want to hear another fucking thing about how liberals and democrats are the enemies of truth, justice and the American Way. Not. One. More. Thing.

by Bruce Garrett | Link |

Where Appeasing Bigots Is Job #1

This week’s cartoon is about Ford and its apparently secret treaty with the AFA. It isn’t surprising that Ford doesn’t want to talk about it, but what’s really noteworthy here is that the AFA seems not to want to talk about it either, after initially trumpeting its success to its members. Now why are they getting all reticent all of a sudden? Do they understand, after all, how unpopular this can be for Ford? Do they realize how far out of the mainstream they actually are? The problem with that is that it’s never shut them up before. They’re on a mission from god and to hell with what everyone else thinks. ‘Tis a puzzler…

I’ve got more commentary on the matter on the cartoon page. Today Ford is supposed to meet with a few representatives of various gay community groups to discuss that treaty with the AFA that doesn’t exist. My hunch is they’re going to stick to their story that their decision to do nearly everything the AFA told them to do is merely a coincidental business decision on their part. The problem with that of course, is that the AFA seemed to know it was all happening before anyone else. They announced it. A few community reporters had to call and ask Ford and that’s when Ford acknowledged they were changing their policies. So if this was just a business decision, it was one that the AFA was privy to somehow, before anyone else was.

And you know…what really rubs salt in the wound as far as I’m concerned, is their decision to keep advertising Volvos in gay community publications, but only with generic ads. No more advertising that speaks directly to gay and lesbian consumers. Ford actually expressed regret to it’s own gay and lesbian employees that their advertisements to the gay community had offended people. So now they’re going to be buying ad space in our own community publications, to show us advertising that puts us back in the closet. If I were the editor of a gay magazine and Ford put something like that on my desk I’d flatly refuse to run it. And if I see a gay magazine running those ads it’ll go right on my Do Not Buy Ever Again list. You do not tell us to go back into the closet in our own media. That’s spitting in our faces and asking for our money.

Well…on another note… This is my first Mark and Josh cartoon in a while, and I’m getting more and more pleased with my color work in each one. I do the initial artwork as always, right up to the point where I’ve done my inks. Then I scan the inks in as line art and do the color in Photoshop. This is my first color one with the Watcom digitizer I bought several months ago, and using it was such a pure joy I found myself wishing I could spend more time on the cartoon. I’ll probably never do the pencils and inks in the computer…I just like working on actual paper and with real artist’s tools too much. But I can see myself adding color and repetitive details (like the brick work), and other fun touches, like Mark’s various Hawaiian shirts (this time of year he’s wearing flannel though) right in the computer. It’s a lot of fun.

Some of you may have noticed the same old pickup truck keeps popping up in my cartoons of these two. It belongs to Josh…it’s an old 1955 GMC that he rescued from a neighbor’s barn when he was just learning to drive. It figures prominently in the backstory I’ve developed for him. At some point I’d like to bring more of their background forward, I just can’t figure out how at the moment. These two started out as a nameless young gay couple who kept popping up in my cartoons and I hadn’t even noticed it until a friend pointed it out to me. So I worked up a couple of model sheets and made it official. Whenever I spend time with them on a cartoon it seems like I come to know them a little better. At some point maybe I’ll introduce them here more formally…give them some space to explain themselves.

by Bruce Garrett | Link |

Friday December 9, 2005

News That’s Thinner Then The Newsprint It’s Printed On…

I write letters…

To The Baltimore Sun:

Editors;

In your story on the Ford Motor Company decision to withdraw advertising from gay and lesbian publications, it appears your reporter missed other available information on the matter, or simply took whatever Ford spokesman Michael Moran told them as gospel. But there is much already out there that contradicts the statements made to your reporter by Mr. Moran...including statements previously made to others by Mr. Moran.

In a statement he gave earlier this week to the DC-based Metro Weekly, when asked about Ford's meeting with the AFA, Mr. Moran said, ''Ceasing advertising is an outgrowth of those meetings.'' Prior to that, when asked by a reporter for the Advocate about any agreements Ford may have made with the AFA, Mr. Moran referred that reporter to a statement made by AFA chairman Donald Wildmon who said, "They've heard our concerns; they are acting on our concerns. We are pleased with where we are."

But perhaps the most telling is the reportage coming from the industry itself. Industry publication Wards Auto has reported the following: "As part of the latest agreement hammered out Nov. 29 [between Ford and the American Family Association], sources confirm Volvo Cars will continue to advertise in the publications but will use generic ads not tailored to the gay community."

That Ward's Auto report is here: http://wardsauto.com/ar/auto_ford_averts_potential/index.htm

And in this article by Ward's headlined "Details of Fordís Deal With AFA Emerge", reporters Cliff Banks and Steve Miller write the following: "As part of the latest agreement hammered out Nov. 29, sources confirm Volvo Cars will continue to advertise in the publications but will use generic ads not tailored to the gay community. In addition, Ford has agreed not to sponsor any future gay and lesbian events but will continue to maintain its employee policies, such as same-sex partner benefits."

That Ward's Auto report is here: http://wardsauto.com/ar/auto_details_fords_deal/index.htm

This seems to flatly contradict the statement by Mr. Moran, that "The decisions on advertising were made for business reasons and not as a social statement one way or the other." Furthermore, though Ford alleges it will continue to advertise its Volvo brand in gay and lesbian publications, it will now use generic ads, rather then ads that specifically speak to the gay community directly. Ford will also no longer sponsor future gay and lesbian events. This may have immediate impact on fundraising at the Human Rights Campaign, which was to receive a portion of the proceeds from each new Volvo lease and sale. Additionally, The Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, has been running a Ford-sponsored promotion on its website since January. Ford would donate up to $1,000 to GLAAD with the purchase of specific Ford vehicles. All of this seems to have completely escaped your reporter's notice.

GLAAD was one of the 19 gay groups that signed on to the statement this week criticizing the automaker. Yet your reporter writes that "...many gay advocacy groups suspect the company bowed to pressure from the American Family Association." and "...other gay advocates say Ford's explanation of financial reasons might well be the truth." This is a pretty weak kneed brand of "he said, she said journalism" in light of prior statements by Ford company representatives that they did in fact reach an agreement with the AFA, let alone that when you can get 19 gay rights organizations to agree on a response to anything, that's almost news in itself. However Ford's financial issues may be factoring into this, there is little doubt in the industry or in the gay community that Ford has made a deal with the AFA.

If you need further evidence, consider Ford's own letter to its gay and lesbian employee group, where it states that, "The boycott was partly touched off by some ads produced and run in Europe, that some of our customers found offensive. Frankly, in retrospect we certainly could have marketed our product in a manner that was just as effective without offending anyone. We advised AFA that most of the ads were running outside of North America or no longer running." Text of that letter can be found all over the Internet now. So Ford itself is saying to its own employees that it is pulling these ads, not as a business decision, but because they offended people. Presumably people who don't much like gays, since no one is claiming the ads in question had any explicit sexual content.

So, to recap: Industry reporters aren't buying Mr. Moran's explanations, the gay community isn't buying it, and Ford itself is talking out of both sides of its mouth about it. Yet the Baltimore Sun seems content to passively accept Mr. Moran's spin. Can your reporters not afford to spend time actually looking into a story anymore? Why not just print whatever Mr. Moran's office faxes you then, and call that reporting?

---
Bruce Garrett
Baltimore, Maryland.

The above was written in response to this very superficial story about Ford Motor Company’s agreement with the anti-gay hate group the American Family Association, to stop advertising in gay publications, and stop funding supporting gay organizations through charitable donations. If you haven’t been following the story about Ford Motor Company’s secret treaty with the AFA, John Aravosis at AmericaBlog is doing an excellent job of covering the story, complete with contacts at Ford Motor Company you can write to express your displeasure to.

This is another example of why the mainstream news media is so worthless anymore. They just passively relate the spin from the professional spinmisters and if you’re luckily maybe they’ll include a line or two suggesting that the spin isn’t all there is to the story, and that’s all you get from them anymore. Last Tuesday Franklin Foer was bellyaching that blogs were guilty of reckless, sweeping assaults on important institutions, like The New York Times and The Washington Post, that would have a devastating long term impact. But it isn’t the blog world that’s making these press organs out to be not worth the paper they’re printed on anymore…it’s themselves. They’re not reporting anymore, merely relaying whatever the powerful want people to hear, and not much else. They’re killing themselves with their own damnable indifference to their own profession, and it’s vital importance to the democratic process. They don’t care anymore. They just don’t. They’re putting in their time, and collecting their paychecks, passing on the spin, as if the spin were news. A couple thousand plus American soldiers wouldn’t be dead today if they’d just done their goddamned jobs a few years ago. So maybe doing some actual reporting on Ford’s treaty with the AFA is more then I can ask for. But I’m still asking. Where the hell are you people? Does anyone in there give a damn about America anymore? Just wondering…

by Bruce Garrett | Link |

Thursday December 8, 2005

Switch Complete (almost)

You should be viewing this site from the servers at my new host now. Everything seems to be running fine, at least as near as I can tell from where I’m looking.

As I write this, there still seem to be some transitory email problems. Some mail is getting through right away, while other mail, sent from different mail servers, isn’t. It seems to all get delivered enventually though. The problem looks like some places aren’t updating their routing tables very quickly. Since this is the first time I’ve ever switched web hosts since I created this site, I have no idea if this is all par for the course or not. I suspect it is. So if you need to get hold of me quickly, %3

Visit The Woodward Class of '72 Reunion Website For Fun And Memories, WoodwardClassOf72.com


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