I wake up this morning from what my Fitbit confirms was a really lousy night’s sleep. Ten hours, but sprinkled within that two periods of wakefulness and 23 (!) periods of restlessness. I turn on my morning Pandora station, a generic “Relaxation Radio” channel. It starts playing a lovely, relaxing piano melody. Now I’m beginning to feel a tad better. So I look to see what it is that’s playing.
It’s called The Dark Night of The Soul. The artist is Philip Wesley. I had no idea the dark night of the soul was so…relaxing.
Some days you get up on the right side of the bed. Some days you get up on the wrong side of the bed. And some days you get up on the surreal side of the bed.
If Trump wins, don’t blame me I voted for… won’t cut it. Don’t blame me I voted for the democrat, I tried to stop him…, is only marginally better. But this is our country, all of us. We are all to blame for what it becomes. In a time like this, it is not enough to wave the flag and strike a pose.
I appreciate how it is that involving yourself in politics can make you feel morally dirty. Perhaps this is why the old time protestant fundamentalists here in America so ostentatiously kept themselves out of worldly matters. But for those of us who care, and who cannot look away at injustice, that is not our destiny. At its best politics is still mostly compromise and consensus and you are presented with choices that you probably don’t like, but can live with, in order to get one small good thing accomplished. At its worst it is a bitter knife fight in the human gutter where you find yourself making decisions and backing choices you desperately didn’t want to make, in order to save ground you know you absolutely cannot afford to lose.
But that is our lot in life. If the fight to make this a better world isn’t making you feel dirty, you are not in the fight.
by Bruce |
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July 25th, 2016
In 1980, little Libertarian dweeb me voted for Ed Clark. Embarrassment keeps me from naming his running mate. I seriously believed I was helping a new movement which would transform America. We didn’t get Libertarian government (thank goodness), but we did get Ronald Reagan, who kicked off his presidency by breaking the air traffic controller’s union with the help of military air traffic controllers. I was shocked. Nonetheless,I did it again in 1984, voting for Bergland and Lewis. I was dedicated to the cause. I was a useful tool.
My awakening from my Libertarian slumber began in 1986 when Hardwick v. Bowers came down, and nearly all my fellow freedom fighters gave it their hosannas. Freedom it seemed, ended at the state line. That was June. In July of that year came the moment, though I didn’t know it at the time, which I will always regard the climax of Reagan’s presidency: the moment he laughed at Bob Hope’s AIDS joke during the re-dedication of the Statue of Liberty. In a nutshell, that was everything about the Reagan years. I was a useful tool.
Maybe there simply weren’t enough votes for Carter back in 1980, or Mondale in ’84, for those of us who voted third party to have made a difference anyway. But Reagan taught me a lesson about politics, one which the Sage of Baltimore neatly summed up when he said an idealist is someone who, upon noticing that a rose smells better than a cabbage, concludes it will make a better soup.
I appreciate people have strong feelings about Mrs. Clinton as the democratic candidate. I completely understand how Mr. Sander’s supporters would be feeling angry at how the process went. I’m not exactly thrilled myself. Was the process rigged against him? You can make a strong case that it was. It’s harder though, to make an equally strong case that he’d have won the nomination if the playing field were level, or that he’d be any more likely to win against Trump in the general. You have to make assumptions in each of those cases that are nowhere near as certain as I’m hearing said in some quarters. But okay…I can see the disappointment and anger.
I have policy disagreements with Mrs. Clinton that are deep and profound. All in all I would rather it was Sanders than her. But I am getting really, Really tired of the she’s as bad as he is if not worse claptrap I’m hearing more and more of now…again in certain quarters. There’s a cartoon making the rounds now of a guy holding up a baby and asking another guy to choose between one of two horrible deaths for it, and when the other guy says nether the guy holding the baby says “lesser of two evils man!”
I’m going to be blunt: if you really believe that’s an intellectually honest comparison either you have not been paying attention this past week or you’re insane. It’s one thing to say that on this or that policy issue you cannot be moved, and another to say both these candidates would be equally that destructive to this country and the world at large. That’s not merely stretching a point, it’s claptrap.
I appreciate the moral quandary here. I’m not absolving myself of the moral implications of the choice I am making. But there’s an element of exactly that in the rhetoric I’m hearing now in some quarters. If Trump wins don’t blame me, blame the democrats for not running a better candidate. But it is not that simple. It’s one thing to take a moral position. But morality is not a cocoon. It is not absolution. It’s about choices. And responsibility. We are always to blame. The question is, did we fight the good fight, or just strike a pose. If the fight isn’t getting you dirty, you are not in the fight.
Most third party groups act like the presidency is all there is to government. But look at how the tea party has operated in recent years, regrettably to great success. They go after the local elections, the school boards, the city councils, and from there they have wielded great power, beyond their actual numbers, in the statewide offices. They go after the governorships, and the statehouses. Now they have congress, and enough strength in the Senate to stifle nearly everything president Obama has tried to do.
Where are the Greens? Where are the Libertarians? Beyond a handful of down ticket elections, they’re nowhere. And I can say as someone who collected signatures for the Libertarian candidates in the 70s, they never were. It was always the presidency and then when their candidate predictably lost, back to the media of libertarian magazines, think tanks and discussion groups and bellyache about how horrible Washington was. That is not a political movement, it’s a cult. And that mindset, that aim for the presidency first and foremost, is what keeps voter turnout appallingly low in off year elections. Not a presidential election year? Then who cares anyway. And there, in the elections few Americans pay enough attention to, the extremists have caused enormous damage.
If you can’t vote for Mrs. Clinton because her involvement in the human catastrophe in the middle east is too much, I respect that. But Trump’s rhetoric about keeping us out of foreign wars can’t rationally be regarded as anything more than another one of his empty promises, especially if he delegates policy to Mike Pence the way George Bush delegated to Dick Cheney, and Mrs. Clinton at least is much more trustable with the nuclear codes. But the fact is, she’s more trustable in a broad spectrum of policy issues that have a direct bearing on the lives of everyday people here and abroad. If your intentions are to help improve the lives of the common man and woman, being effective matters. Don’t be mocking all those republican thoughts and prayers every time there is another mass shooting and then vote for someone you know perfectly well cannot win, and allow a thug and his mob to burn everything down, that so many have died for to get us even this far.
Don’t blame me… If ultimately your argument is sometimes things have to get worse before they can get better, then you are not merely accepting that the worst will happen, you are making that it must happen a part of the plan. There’s your blame.
We have more questions than answers about why gay rights is a recurring theme on stage in Cleveland this week. Is this a way to try to counter GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump’s unpopularity among minority groups? Are Republicans trying to expand their base after the Orlando shooting, which targeted the LGBT community? Is this another signal that cultural views about gay rights are shifting in conservative circles? Does this even resonate with an LGBT community that has spent the past year batting down Republican-led policies like a game of whack-a-mole?
What you need to understand about this, about Trump’s claim to be a protector of LGBT lives against Islamic violence and Newt Gingrich’s amen, and the sudden burst of convention talk about LGBT people, is they are not talking to LGBT people. This is not the republican party reaching out, finally, even in a small insignificant rhetorical way, to LGBT people. They said everything they wanted to say to us in the platform.
There’s nothing new about this. They are talking to heterosexuals, who might feel ashamed about voting republican, given the party’s hostility to LGBT people. Perhaps they have LGBT family members, or friends, or co-workers, who they love and respect. Perhaps they just don’t feel comfortable walking with bigots. What all this talk about LGBT people now is for is giving those people an excuse to vote for a man and a party that wants to take away every hard won civil right LGBT people have gained since Lawrence v. Texas. A party that, by its own enthusiastically endorsed platform would put us back into 1950s America of anti-gay witch hunts in government and the military, police raids on gay bars, censorship of gay books and newspapers, arrested for sodomy, or even just for dancing with a same-sex partner in public. On the stage last night, Trump gave them a way to vote for all of this, and still see themselves as decent people.
That’s what this is about. Trump and the republicans are giving them a way to hold onto their self respect, while putting a knife in the back of their LGBT neighbors. He’s giving them a way to look in a mirror and still see themselves as loving the LGBT people in their lives, not someone who sold them out in exchange for a strongman’s promises.
by Bruce |
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July 21st, 2016
Guest Speaker At The Fascist Gathering…No, Not That One…The Other One…
The group’s founder and Thiel’s host is Hans Hermann-Hoppe, an anarcho-capitalist former professor at the University of Nevada. Hoppe sets the tone for these gatherings. In his book Democracy: The God That Failed, he envisions a stateless “libertarian order” that purges homosexuals and literally anyone who believes in democracy. “They will have to be physically separated and expelled from society,” Hoppe writes, referring to “advocates of parasitism, homosexuality, or communism,” among other undesirables…
And a gay man is his guest. And the GOP’s too, tonight. Arguably billionaire Thiel isn’t desperate for Right Wing welfare dollars.
Bear in mind that, as the article says, Thiel has been waging a proxy lawsuit war against Gawker for outing him. Something you see a lot of in this struggle is the homosexual male who compartmentalizes their sexuality so completely they are barely capable of acknowledging it even in bed. At the low end of the economic scale these are the ones who end up getting caught in vice squad stings, but in the rarefied heights that’s not a worry. And they positively hate the rest of us who settled with our inner nature and are fine with it and willing to do our part to make this a better world for all of us…So Openly.
But there is also this strange, creepy, unsettling place where fascism, which is rule by the strongmen, meets and shakes the hand of libertarianism, which assumes the invisible hand of the marketplace by definition produces morally just outcomes. As they used to say, the struggle is everything: nature rewards the strong, and eradicates the weak. There are many ways of dealing with self-hatred. Almost all of them involve taking it out on someone smaller and weaker.
by Bruce |
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July 20th, 2016
The Roy Cohn Branch Of The Family
I see the Roy Cohn branch of the family had its day at the GOP convention the other night…
Headlined by the guy who just got the boot from Twitter for his racist and misogynist attack on Ghostbusters star Leslie Jones, an achievement considering the open sewer Twitter has allowed itself to become, on the same order as being too disgusting even for an S. Clay Wilson comic. He’s also the guy behind the “Gamergate” attacks on women in the gaming community, and Twitter was his useful tool for that one too.
“Growing up gay wasn’t that f**king bad.” he declared from the podium, adding without any apparent irony, “…I still don’t see the reason why the left-wing press mollycoddles and panders to an ideology that wants me dead.” So he’s changed his tune a bit since a year ago when he declared “If I could choose, I wouldn’t be a homosexual.” If I could choose, you wouldn’t be one either guy. Perhaps you and Phil Robertson could have drinks together and ponder which abrahamic religions quote Leviticus with more style.
He was followed by Pam Geller who began with a joke: “A jihadi walks into a gay bar, and the bartender says, ‘What’ll you have?’ The jihadi says, ‘Shots for everyone!’”
Ha ha. And half that convention floor would have helped buy them for him Pam, and the other half would have paid for his defense lawyers. Especially after seeing the artwork on those walls there.
And that artwork…try to look past the fact that they’re all barely, if that, of an age of consent. Photos of comely young guys are just fine by me. Swell even. But I’m a photographer and I can’t avoid seeing these images on another level, and what leaps out at me immediately is the predatory gaze in all of them. These photos aren’t about young male beauty but about young male naivete. The photographer invites you to look upon them not as objects of beauty and desire but as prey. Easy pickings.
Which fits nicely into the convention vibe though doesn’t it? It’s a cliché that when you scratch a homophobe you find a misogynist and vice versa. So the gay republican who reviled in organizing gamergate attacks on women on Twitter, and immediately zeroed in on the most socially vulnerable of the actresses in the new Ghostbusters movie, the one black woman, has his party zone plastered with images of teenage boys as sexual junk food. Because as nearly, if not exactly one-hundred percent of that convention floor would tell you, homosexuals don’t love, they just have sex. And if you hate all those other homosexuals enough, you don’t have to know how much you hate yourself.
by Bruce |
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The Gutter Speaks
Gavin Newsom, former mayor of San Francisco, talks about what he saw at the 2016 Republican National Convention in a video. I’d embed it here but Facebook makes that tactically difficult. But visit the link if you can, it’s worth listening to his passionate disgust at what he saw. And there’s no mistaking it, the republicans, just slightly more than a year after the Supreme Court acknowledged our right to equality in the marriage laws of this land, have written the most homophobic platform in their history. It is a snarling, in your face growl of contempt toward sexual minorities. But then, taken in context with the rest of it…the racism, xenophobia, hatred of women, hatred toward the poor and handicapped, it is of a piece. This is a convention of the human gutter.
Newsome talks mostly about the conversion therapy plank, and you can argue that if any one of the anti-LGBT planks says it all it’s that one. I have a running thread of posts here on this blog about how reparative-conversion-exgay therapy was born in the blood of innocents. That’s not histrionics, it’s a plain statement of fact. The first exgay ministry was Love In Action, founded originally in San Francisco and later relocated to Memphis Tennessee. It’s first three clients included a young man named Jack McIntyre, who killed himself because the stress exgay therapy could only exacerbate within him became too much. That’s not conjecture, he left a suicide note that said in part:
To continually go before God and ask forgiveness and make promises you know you can’t keep is more than I can take. I feel it is making a mockery of God and all He stands for in my life.
What people need to understand is that lethal self loathing is the intention. Not necessarily that it kills, but that it is complete and overwhelming and crippling. It must be a ball and chain on our lives, on our souls. We have to hate ourselves. Because then we are good homosexuals. We hide, we apologise for existing, we don’t expect basic human dignity, let alone assert that our hearts are not there for them to scribble their graffiti on and our lives, our hopes and dreams are not their stepping stones to heaven. We have to bleed, so they can feel righteous.
To call forcing kids into it child abuse is imprecise. It is the rape of the soul. Adults and children alike. And in Cleveland now, these are its advocates. Unsurprisingly, they are also racists, xenophobes and misogynists, grifters, thieves and swindlers, sociopaths and paranoid cowards. Simply put, the human gutter. For generations, we have been dying for their sins because even the blood of Jesus Christ was not enough to get them clean.
The thing you need to understand about conversion/ex-gay therapy is that what’s important isn’t that anyone actually becomes heterosexual. It’s that everyone, gay folk, their families, their neighbors, gets the message that homosexuals are damaged goods at best, abominations in the eyes of god at worst. The scapegoat must always hang their head in shame.
This is telling…
A US navy veteran and now an LGBT activist, he spent four to six months in the group but their tactics began to alarm him. “One of the group leaders prayed and said: ‘I really feel like you have been molested but you’re just suppressing it.’ And I have never been molested in my life. So I would tell them, ‘I’ve never been molested, incorrect.’ And then it turned into a narrative where in order for me to even participate I would have to admit that I had been molested.”
The anti-gay ideology is of a piece. Every thread in it fits neatly together with all the others, like the intricate crackpot conspiracy theories about chemtrails or UFOs. This notion that a person’s homosexuality was caused by childhood molestation walks in lockstep with the notion that since homosexuals don’t reproduce they must recruit or they would die out, and this is why homosexuals are child molesters.
It’s a house of cards. Take away one card and the entire structure begins to fall apart. So this gay man had to have been molested, and as long as he insists he wasn’t, that can only mean he’s still fighting against the truth. Maybe he has a demon inside of him. Maybe he’s just not submitting to the will of god enough. But the possibility that he is a homosexual who wasn’t molested cannot be endured. Because if that could be true, then what else about homosexuality might be true, that we don’t want to know…
by Bruce |
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July 12th, 2016
The Rot Is Not At The Top
Here’s the new Hillary Clinton attack ad on Donald Trump. Basically it’s about how The Donald cheated a trusting small businessman out of his fee for designing and building Trump a nice clubhouse for one of his golf courses..
Is anybody really surprised by this? No, no…not just that it’s Standard Operating Procedure for Trump, not just that the man who could do this to a trusting small businessman is the likely GOP presidential nominee. No. Is anybody really surprised that the GOP grassroots of this day and age in America, really, really love him?
Think about it. They don’t want unskilled service workers to earn a living wage if it means their fast food and WalMart purchases might cost a bit more. They don’t want racial or ethnic minorities, women, gay folk, anyone who isn’t them to have an equal share of the American Dream, but they still want them to do the work of building America. They want their goods and services, but they don’t want to pay a living wage to the people who provide it. They want their job opportunities, but they don’t want their service workers and their kids to have a shot at decent jobs too, because then they might start holding their heads a little higher, and expecting fair treatment. They want their kids to get a good education, but they won’t support the public schools if it means they’re helping the kids from poor families get one too; but they still want those kids to serve them their burgers and pizza and ring up their purchases, preferably for next to nothing.
To call them cheapskates is ennobling. They’re plunderers, just like The Donald, perfectly in tune with the general republican mindset these days, and with the same entitled, grandiose view of themselves Trump and the lot of them have. Of course they like him. They say you take the measure of a nation not in how well it treats its well off, but by how well it treats its poor. Another way of looking at that is, if you’re the sort who would take advantage of someone who is utterly at your mercy, can anyone else really trust you?
Here’s a lesson for all you small business owners who think the republicans are better for business. The man who helps you cheat your employees out of a fair wage, will steal everything from you too and laugh in your surprised face.
Many signs have suggested that the Christian right has largely given up on pushing for ex-gay therapy. From the closing of Exodus International to the Southern Baptist Convention admonishing the harmful, ineffective treatment, it seems that those who reject homosexuality have embraced the idea of celibacy and singlehood instead.
But several news stories from the past week have suggested that many religious conservatives actually still want to see gays and lesbians wind up giving up their sexualities entirely to pursue different-sex marriages with kids.
And just never you mind what this may do to the innocent other halves of these marriage-as-cure marriages. If nothing else, that indifference to the lives of other people, usually heterosexual women, and their hopes and dreams of love and happiness, really shows how deep that sewer they keep mistaking for a conscience runs. Collateral damage, as one right wing terrorist once shrugged off responsibility for the children he killed.
Doug Mainwaring also chimed in Monday, insisting that gay people can happily stay in different-sex marriages — citing himself as an example. “A man who walks away from a marriage because of same-sex attraction is no different from a man who abdicates his role as husband and father for sex with other women,” he scolded. “We shouldn’t view Trey Pearson’s actions as heroically true-to-self, but as simply selfish.”
Mainwaring is the religious right’s current “attack gay”…a gay guy who is happy to shovel his fellow homosexuals into the maw of the religious right’s self hate machine. And also, and indifferently, all that collateral damage. No Doug, a gay man who struggles his way out of the self hatred you need him to live his entire life in so you can feel righteous, isn’t being selfish. If his hopes and dreams of honesty and love need to be your stepping stones to heaven, the selfish greedy blood sucking bastard here is you. If Jesus dying on the cross wasn’t enough to sponge away your cheapshit sins, if other gay people have to die for them too because Jesus on the cross just wasn’t enough, then selfish isn’t even the word for the likes of you. That word would be Predatory.
Once upon a time, one of the first ex-gay clients in the first ex-gay ministry, Love In Action, Jack McIntyre wrote the following just before he killed himself…
To continually go before God and ask forgiveness and make promises you know you can’t keep is more than I can take. I feel it is making a mockery of God and all He stands for in my life.
He killed himself Doug. So he wouldn’t make another promise to god he knew he could not keep. Because the human identity isn’t a blackboard anyone can just scribble their will on. Because he was a homosexual. Because you can’t pray that away anymore than you can pray away being left handed, or blue eyed. There was nothing wrong with him in the first place. The ex-gay movement was born in the blood of innocents. No stream rises higher than its source. He killed himself Doug. So louts like you could be righteous.
You live in the lap of righteous esteem Doug, the useful tool of gutter crawling runts who would rather see a gay man’s heart ripped to shreds, see him end his life, rather than know a single moment of honest love and desire in the arms of another man. The support network you enjoy is built on the ruins of other people’s lives. It is drenched with their blood. And you can’t afford to look can you. So many gay men who end up finding a tree to hang themselves from, or putting a gun to their heads, because louts like you are telling them they’re broken. And be honest here…ultimately, you’re fine with that. Because better they kill themselves than they accept themselves, as in that old Baptist hymn, just as I am.
Because if they can find that honest, truthful happiness…then what does that make you? But you know what you are.
by Bruce |
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July 3rd, 2016
Gunshots That Echo Forever
Wandering the all new Disney Springs today. Almost the entire area that was once Downtown Disney and Pleasure Island has been massively redone. The old maps in my head are half wrong now. But staying at a nearby hotel makes it possible to get it out of my system without having to deal with the new parking garages and street changes. Tuesday I go to my DVC room at Boardwalk for a few days. I reckon I’ll hit the water parks in the morning and the theme parks in the evenings. Maybe. Boardwalk is nice enough I can just hang out there all day too. This makes for a nice respite from travelling the great plains last week, and my cameras being mostly disappointed this trip. But I got a few good ones. Tell you more later.
Disney Springs is crowded this holiday weekend. That’s to be expected. Normally I hate crowds. But every now and then they bring me nice things. Like beautiful young visiting latinos who still wear briefs, out of style though they seem to be in this country, and silken athletic shorts over them that, long and baggy though they may be, make that fact clearly evident, and let you see the seams move as they walk along in front of you…
I made reservations for the dining room at Wolfgang Puck’s tonight since it’s holiday crowded here and I wasn’t sure I could sit at the bar downstairs. Turns out that was no problem, but there was a bar upstairs too so I sat there. It’s not that I have to drink Every Night. But sitting at the bar makes it easier for the single traveler to talk with his fellow diners. And if the bar is empty, as it was this night for some reason, there’s always the bartender.
I was wearing my rainbow Mickey pin and the bartender noticed. He began telling me about his friends who were at Pulse the night of the shooting. Three guys, two of which were on the fence about going that night, and the third who really wanted to go, so the others went along with him, and they died and he lived, and now he can’t forgive himself…
“These 50 sodomites are all perverts and pedophiles, and they are the scum of the earth, and the earth is a little bit better place now,” Romero said in his sermon. “And I’ll take it a step further, because I heard on the news today, that there are still several dozen of these queers in ICU and intensive care. And I will pray to God like I did this morning, I will do it tonight, I’ll pray that God will finish the job that that man started, and he will end their life, and by tomorrow morning they will all be burning in hell, just like the rest of them, so that they don’t get any more opportunity to go out and hurt little children.”
My cartoon, for the next issue of my community newspaper, Baltimore OUTLoud…because somebody needs to say it..
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