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September 13th, 2016

The Man With No Conscience Rides Into Town…

I see the new Clint Eastwood movie is getting its first reviews beyond the right wing swamp

eastwood_sullies

Sully is, in theory, based on Sullenberger’s 2009 memoir Highest Duty (co-authored with Jeffrey Zaslow). “Until I read the script, I didn’t know the investigative board was trying to paint the picture that he had done the wrong thing. They were kind of railroading him,” says Eastwood in one promotional trailer. It’s not surprising Eastwood was ignorant of any railroading by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), since it’s a narrative absent from Highest Duty, or anything actually said or written by the NTSB.

Go read the whole thing to see the takedown of the movie’s central lie. This movie laughs in your face and lies to you. There’s just no other way to put it. Its central fact, that the National Traffic Safety Board tried to railroad pilot Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger and co-pilot Jeffrey Skiles, is a lie. A damnable lie.

But a lie you could see coming in the first trailer released for it. This is Talks To An Empty Chair Eastwood telling the audience in the Fox News cocoon everything they want to hear about how evil the federal government is. In the process he’s turned people who lived these events into stick figures in an antigovernment morality play, meant not to tell the story of an American hero but to encourage Americans to fear and mistrust their own government. Eastwood spits in the faces good people who work diligently every day to make travel safer for all of us. Because in the libertarian mindset, a government that can require corporations to care about anything other than profit, such as customer safety, can only be evil.

It’s a damnable lie, easily seen for what it is with even a cursory fact checking of the sources. But Eastwood knows his audience. They don’t want facts, they want their bigotries validated. Even if it means that someday the aircraft they’re on crashes and burns because CEO compensation mattered more than their lives, and lawsuit settlements were seen to be less costly than fixing a potential life threatening problem.

 

by Bruce | Link | React!

September 11th, 2016

Basket Of Deplorables

If I were to do a political cartoon today about a basket of deplorables, I would draw a basket and instead of putting the usual Trump supporters and right wing kooks into it, I would put a bunch of TV and Big Media logos into it. There’s your basket of deplorables.

You have to appreciate growing up in the 60s as I did, living through the great civil rights moments as a kid, coming of age politically in the early 70s, how the current media indignation at Mrs. Clinton’s calling out Trump’s racist supporters is a big reason why we still have a problem in this country with racism. As Nixon expertly calculated, cultivating the racist vote via calculated dog whistles is an easy way to harvest votes from a certain voting population that carries little to no political risk. And that is because of ostentatious media indignation whenever democrats call out these republican dog whistles.

I’ve watched it through the decades. Carter called Reagan out on starting campaign in the place where three young civil rights workers were killed by the Klan, with a speech on “state’s rights”. The media got all up in arms about it, as though Carter had committed some unforgivably rude libel against his opponent. But anyone with half a brain could see what Reagan was doing there. The dog whistles could have stopped right then and there if the media had jumped on Reagan instead, but they loathed Carter, hated the democrats, and so Reagan got a pass to continue with it. Which he did, and which the republicans have been perfecting now for decades. It’s been the song and dance ever since: calling out republican winks and nods to the American gutter is out of bounds according to the dictators of what is and is not civil political discourse.

Now we have Trump, who isn’t even bothering to dog whistle to the bigots. And media Still plays indignant when it’s called out. Meanwhile black Americans are still being held down, their lives cheapened, by systematic racism, and the media pays no attention until riots happen. And then they blame “both sides” for not finding solutions, as if both sides were equally to blame.

But both sides are not equally to blame. And the big corporate news media, by pushing back whenever democrats call out GOP racist dog whistles, have bought themselves a share in that blame. When the terms of “civil discourse” redline any discussion of how politicians cultivate the racist vote, it allows racism to stay alive and well politically in the Land of The Free And The Home of The Brave.

Is that because the boardrooms of the big American corporations are largely racist themselves?  I doubt it, but they like republican economic policies better than the democrat’s, and in the rarefied heights of Valhalla they see no reason to make such a big deal out of racism in America.  Especially if that discussion costs them friendly republicans in congress. Black Lives Matter? Oh mon dieu…Our Profits Matter!!

So I have a question for all the CEOs and VPs and Whomever It May Concern at the heads of these big media conglomerates who’ve been dictating the terms of polite political discourse for the past several decades, ever since Reagan found political deliverance in the heart of the old Confederacy. See that man at the head of the Republican ticket? You put him there. You put a piss ignorant bellicose narcissistic lout within arm’s reach of the nuclear button. Don’t be blaming the Tea Party or the Republican Base…you deliberately gave the race hatred that festered down there space to grow and gain power within the party. You not only turned the light off, you made turning it back on a political offense. Now look at what you accomplished. Does it bother you? Does it frighten you? Tell me…tell us all…how far down into the gutter are you willing to drive this country, for your bottom line? For your tax cuts? For your deregulation? For your gig economy where workers have no rights a boss is bound to respect?

How far into the gutter?  How far down is rich enough for you?

by Bruce | Link | React!

September 4th, 2016

Perverts

This came across my Facebook stream the other day…

not_must_read

 

But the IPR’s most fascinating piece was published a few months earlier, in August 1993. The article, written by IPR Foundation senior fellow Col. Ronald D. Ray, purported to be an argument against allowing gays to serve in the military. “The homosexuals are not as a group able-bodied,” Ray urges. “They are known to carry extremely high rates of disease brought on because of the nature of their sexual practices and the promiscuity which is a hallmark of their lifestyle.”

That’s fairly conventional anti-gay obloquy, especially for the time. But from there, the polemic quickly descends into a stunningly graphic description of gay sex acts…

Link to the article Here.  Coincidentally, or not perhaps, I saw this a day after I was reading another online rant about how us gays are obsessed with sex. I say “perhaps not” because these things tend to percolate up from the sewer all at once and you just know someone read an article about how gays are preoccupied with sex somewhere and the next thing you know it’s making the rounds and all the usual suspects are repeating it as if it was some new groundbreaking discovery. But it’s an old lie, one part meant to dehumanize us, reduce us to a sexual urge, and one part projection. If we’re the ones so obsessed with sex, what are you then, so obsessed with talking about our sex.

There’s a scene in Patricia Nell Warren’s groundbreaking novel The Front Runner where Harlan Brown, the coach and lover of out gay Olympian Billy Sive, is having a chat with some old friends who work as sports reporters. They confront him on the rumors about his having a sexual relationship with Sive, and while Brown tries to stand up for the honor and the dignity of their love, the reporters, old friends, try to make Brown understand that in the mass media, honor and dignity won’t even buy you a cup of coffee. Which only makes Brown angrier…

“Did it ever occur to them that maybe Billy and I don’t merely go to bed together? That we love each other?” I was really getting mad now. “That neither of us wants anybody else? Do they know so little about human nature?”

“You’re the one’s a dummy about human nature,” said Aldo. “They want to think the worse…”

Finally one of the reporters, Bruce, suggests that they do an interview with the two of them which would hopefully allow the readers to see them as human beings apart from the ugly stereotypes of homosexuals common in those days.

Brown agrees, thinking it a great idea. Aldo pointedly asks if they can dispel the other rumors too…

“What other rumors?” I said.

“You really want to know?” Aldo asked. He was furiously tearing up a piece of bread.

He started to tell me. When he’d finished I’d had one more sociological revelation. Society had tried to teach me that the gay mind was an open sewer. Now I knew, beyond any doubt, that it was the straight mind that was the sewer…

The next scene is Brown back home telling Billy what Aldo had said to him…all the carefully specific and brutally ugly sexual perversions cataloged against gay people back in the early 70s when Warren was writing her novel. All I have to add to it is either Warren or her editor chose to keep a bunch of it away from the page, otherwise her readers might have become so completely disgusted they simply stopped right then, or she herself chose to stop digging into it when it got ugly enough. I’ve had a bunch more of it waved in my face since I read that book, and I’m here to tell you there is no bottom to the grotesque sexual fantasies of bigots. But it’s unfair to lay all that at the feet of heterosexuals. Now I knew, beyond any doubt, that it was the straight mind that was the sewer… No. It’s the mind of the bigot that is the open sewer. And the fact is, sexual corruption is something they throw at all the hated Others, be they gays or Jews or Blacks or (Hi Donald!) Mexicans.

They say gays are obsessed with sex but if you look carefully what you find is that it’s the bigots who are obsessed with it, to the point that it’s all they can see when they look at us. Homosexuals don’t love, they just have sex… We have to be inhuman, so persecuting us can be righteous.

Don’t take that “Must Read” in the Slate article headline there too seriously if that sort of graphic talk about sexual kinks bothers you. It bothers me but I’m use to it, ironically enough because A) the bigots keep waving it in my face and B) I got an eyeful of heterosexual kink back in the day every time I went to buy my gay newspapers, because back then the only places I could find them were in those seedy little “adult” bookstores you find tucked away in decaying strip malls or certain city neighborhoods. I’ve written about this before: for a period of time in my life I had to walk a gauntlet of heterosexual pornography just to get my damn newspapers. I mention it here so you know why A) I became inured to graphic discussions about sex at an early age and B) why I’m laughing in your face if you just tried to tell me gays are perverse in ways heterosexuals just aren’t.

Seriously, go browse the wares in any of the charming stores down in Baltimore’s The Block and ask yourself how you’d like it if your deepest most intimate feelings for the love of your life, all the wonderful moments you were in their arms and they in yours, were judged always by what the people on the covers of those magazines are doing. Would it make you angry? Ask me how it makes me feel.

The fact is that some gay people are horrible human beings. We can name a few: Roy Cohn, Joseph McCarthy’s right hand man during the red scare, Ernst Röhm, leader of Hitler’s SA, Jorg Haider, Austrian fascist leader who spent his last hours in a gay bar with a hot young blond. And that ugliness of character is bound to come out in the bedroom…

“Politics like sex is only a by-product of what the essential person is. If you are mean and selfish and cruel it will come out in your sex life and it will come out in your politics when what really matters is that you are the sort of person who won’t behave like that.”

-Mary Renault, as quoted in Mary Renault: A Biography by David Sweetman

But it’s a mistake to lump all gay people into some faceless mass of humanity for exactly the same reason it’s a mistake to lump people together for the color of their skin, or their religion, or the color of their hair, or whether they’re right or left handed. And it’s a mistake bigots want you to make, because it’s one they make themselves. So they can see themselves as righteous people. So they don’t have to name the sewer they’ve made a home in.

by Bruce | Link | React!

July 22nd, 2016

No, They Are Not Courting Gay Voters…

The Washington Post asks…

What’s up with all the gay rights shout-outs at the Republican convention?

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 | Link | Comments Off on No, They Are Not Courting Gay Voters…

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.

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on The Rot Is Not At The Top

June 20th, 2016

Why Orlando Happened

In a nutshell…

‘Satan made gays’: Georgia church sign attacks LGBT people after Orlando shooting

Pastor Bobby Wright explained to WXIA that he was not concerned about the sign stirring up hatred following the Orlando shootings.

“I haven’t cursed anyone. I haven’t called anyone a name,” Wright told the station. “I’m a voice for the community.”

He also insisted that LGBT people would be welcomed at his church.

the_devil_made_gays

 

This Anti-Gay Texas Pastor Says He’s Praying for Survivors of the Orlando Terror Attack to Die

first_queer_mass_murder

“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..

he_did_it 

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Why Orlando Happened

May 23rd, 2016

Like A Good Neighbor, State Farm Will Pick Your Pocket…(continued)

Seriously starting to consider consulting with a lawyer about State Farm Insurance and Scott Garvey, the agent(s) that’s been screwing around with me.

1) I got a letter from the Maryland Insurance Administration concerning my protest of their rate hike on my policy, for damage to my car while it was parked in front of my house, that was caused by a neighbor. State Farm (you may recall) said they were raising my rate because they had to pay out. Yes, because I chose to work the claim through them rather than the other agency I did not trust. But they got their money back from the other agency, including my deductable. So the MD Insurance Administration apparently got them to agree to roll it back and refund the extra.

Well, it’s been two months and not only have I not seen a refund, the next six month bill came last week and it is Even More than the previous one. So soon I will be sending another letter to the MD Insurance Administration, basically telling them that State Farm is giving them the finger.

2) Whilst shopping for another insurance carrier, I discover that State Farm posted my claim to the Lexus-Nexus database as an “accident” claim rather than a “comprehensive” claim. That’s significant because “accident” raises the rates other agencies will quote me. But since the car was parked when it happened it should have been posted as “comprehensive”. So I’ve been given a number to call Lexus-Nexus and now I have to challenge that too. Which of course I will.

Enough of this crap and you get the sense that it isn’t merely bureaucratic clusterfuck, it’s policy and the company really is predatory by nature.

[Update…] Even allowing that I’m being quoted higher prices because State Farm posted my claim as an “accident”, the prices I’m being quoted for the same coverage are still Hundreds of dollars less over a six month term. 

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Like A Good Neighbor, State Farm Will Pick Your Pocket…(continued)

May 4th, 2016

When Did The Social Contract Start Including Everyday Low Low Prices?

This video is making the rounds in the Internet Tubes…

Angry Woman In Walmart Throws A Fit Over Man Using Food Stamps

As a child sits in the man’s shopping cart looking on, the woman complains about how she is paying for his food with her tax money.  

“You know, I put in 50-60 hour weeks… trying to provide for my family,” the man says, although some of his words are unclear.

“You’re not providing for it, I am,” the woman snaps back. “The government is.”

The grim joke here is the government is also providing for this woman. As the article notes, she’s shopping at WalMart. Many of their workers need food stamps and other assistance because WalMart won’t pay a living wage. Without a doubt she’s shopping there, perhaps for the convenience if it’s a nearby store, but most likely for the Every Day Low Low Prices….stuff that costs less so she doesn’t have to spend more. I’d have told her the rest of us are supporting her too. But I don’t shop there. 

The man suggests she complain to her lawmaker or vote Republican. 

“Oh, trust me, I am not a bleeding heart fucking liberal,” the woman answers.

I’m shocked, shocked. No lady, you’re a typical American of a particular type that likes to have their cake and eat it too at the expense of someone else. If your household is making enough you don’t need assistance then you can afford to shop somewhere they pay their employees enough they don’t have to go on public assistance. That poor man and his kid have fewer choices than you do. They need the low cost of goods and assistance even then to buy them. You just want the cheap goods the rest of us taxpayers are making possible by providing WalMart employees public assistance. 

So who’s really the freeloader? It’s you lady. It’s you.

angry_walmart_lady

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on When Did The Social Contract Start Including Everyday Low Low Prices?

January 5th, 2016

Yes, He’s A Kook…But What Do You Think That Means?

Just in case you’ve forgotten over the holidays how batshit crazy this man is, this clip from The Rachel Maddow Show is well worth watching.  The clips of his news interviews over the birth certificate are instructive.

Just a few weeks ago George Will was warning that a Trump candidacy would destroy the conservative movement

One hundred and four years of history is in the balance. If Trump is the Republican nominee in 2016, there might not be a conservative party in 2020 either.

But the suit and tie conservatives like Will, bellyaching that Trump might destroy the conservative movement, need to point their fingers in the mirror instead. Trump is what he is, because the kook pews are what they are, and the kook pews are what they are because the country club crowd found them useful enough to enable them. Will to this day idolizes Ronald Reagan, who began his successful campaign for the presidency in 1980 in a Mississippi city near where James Earl Chaney, Andrew Goodman, and Michael Schwerner were murdered for registering black voters, with a speech about state’s rights. He knew perfectly well what Reagan was doing that day. They all did.

Yes, Trump is nuts. What do you think that means? The moral judgement attaches to those who knew better, or could have known better had they wanted to, but took the belly flop into the gutter anyway. Morality is choice, and Trump just is what he is and his followers just are what they are. The judgement on bargains made with the devil attach to the bargainer. Donald Trump is the face in the conservative mirror.

Donald_Trump

 

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Yes, He’s A Kook…But What Do You Think That Means?

October 13th, 2015

Like A Good Neighbor, State Farm Will Pick Your Pocket.

Last July a neighbor cut it a tad too close trying to park in the space in front of mine, and hit Spirit’s driver’s side front fender and did some damage. My security cameras caught the whole thing, but he fessed up (he’s a nice guy…very apologetic.  His wife, their infant son and his in-laws were in the car with him when he did it and he was just red with embarrassment). Nobody was hurt. He called his insurance company (Erie Insurance Exchange). Eventually the total cost of the damage to Spirit was $1,322 for the body work, which was completed in August (to perfection by Valley Motors), of which I had to pay my $250 deductible. My agent assured me they would try to get my deductible back from the other insurer (which they did).

I filed the claim with my insurance company, State Farm, because after talking with his company I felt uneasy about trusting them to do a proper estimate and not give me any trouble over getting my car repaired. State Farm sent out a very professional adjuster to look my car over and give me an estimate, which I took to my dealer. Later, I got a check from State Farm, and a letter stating that they would now seek subrogation from the other company.

Last Saturday State Farm sent me a letter notifying me they were raising my rate for…get this…”NOT AT-FAULT ACCIDENT, PAYMENTS OF $1,322 COLLISION”

Hahahahaha…you’re NOT AT-FAULT and we’re going to be reimbursed for the money we paid you…so now we’re raising your rate! It’s a NOT AT-FAULT WIN-WIN!

So I went to complain to my agent, (Scott Garvey on Roland Avenue), today, and basically got a bunch of boilerplate smiles and explanations of why I have to pay more even if I didn’t do anything and they are getting the money back from the other company anyway. They gave me a very well practiced performance and a very polite and professional stonewalling. One of the managers looked at me throughout the entire exchange as if he could barely keep from laughing at me. Oh you poor thing…you think complaining is going to get you anywhere with an insurance company? How…adorable.

So my next step is to file a formal protest with the Insurance Commissioner. But since that was the advice I was given on my way out the door my hunch is the reason they don’t care is because they know they don’t have to.

And truth be told I feel somewhat foolish. I trusted them. Why did I do that? This isn’t the country I grew up in once, where big business was at least theoretically regulated against gouging their customers, and accountable to the regulators. When I left the offices of Scott Garvey they were all looking at me like I was some poor imbecile who thought his clean driving record, and monthly payments on the car insurance, plus the other business I do with State Farm, actually meant I didn’t deserve to be screwed over at the first opportunity. But I will at least Try to get some satisfaction about this.

I just today got one of their letters inviting me to invest in their State Farm retirement savings accounts. Let me see if I can explain to the droid who wrote me that why that isn’t likely.

I’m going to need a lot of postage stamps in the coming weeks…

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Like A Good Neighbor, State Farm Will Pick Your Pocket.

July 8th, 2015

Question

These clerks and judges who say they’re not granting marriage licenses to same-sex couples because it goes against their “sincerely held religious beliefs”…I have a question. Have you ever…Ever…Even Once….denied a heterosexual couple a license on the basis of your religious beliefs?

Or is is just the gay couples you have religion about?

 

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Question

June 1st, 2015

Inappropriate Behavior

This came across my news stream just now…

gay valedictorian

Evan Young, a graduating senior at Twin Peaks Charter Academy High School in Colorado, was recently blocked from giving his valedictorian speech and outed to his parents.

With a 4.5 GPA and a scholarship to Rutgers University, Young was selected as valedictorian of his graduating class. Although he had agreed to edit his speech according to Principal BJ Buchmann’s revisions, Young refused to exclude his admittance to being gay.

After Young refused to remove the statement from his speech, Principal Buchmann called the student’s father, Don Young. Don recalled the conversation to the Daily Camera:

“Mr. Buchmann called me and said, ‘I’ve got Evan’s speech here. There are two things in it that I don’t think are appropriate. One was he had mentioned another student’s name. And then there was his coming out that he was gay.’”

Evan was not allowed to give his speech and was not recognized as valedictorian at his May 16 graduation.

Look carefully: They didn’t just tell him he couldn’t give his speech…they denied him his honors as class valedictorian too. It was a rank the kid had achieved by virtue of his 4.5 GPA.  But he was proud.  And worse, he was a gay kid who had achieved.

There’s the problem. Gay kids have to hate themselves at least as much as they are hated, if not more. They must know they are unworthy. So they silenced Evan and took away his class rank. If they could have, they’d have erased from human memory the fact that he’d ever been his school’s valedictorian. They had to. The problem wasn’t that he would have told other gay kids that it was okay to be gay, but that he would have shown them by his example that they could rise themselves up and achieve too. That was the unforgivable sin.

by Bruce | Link | React! (3)

May 21st, 2015

You Repent First. Take All The Time You Need…

Some years ago, a young adult fresh out of high school struggling to find a workable career path, I fell in with some friends of a friend who had a shop building custom speakers and sound equipment cases for bands. In addition to building speaker and equipment cabinets, they also had an impressive sound system of their own design capable of filling a theater, which they would rent out along with their services as sound guys whenever a band needed something a bit more than the bar sized sound systems they had with them.

To make a long story short, one day while I was out with them doing a gig somewhere in Virginia, the manager of the band we were working with noticed my little lambda necklace. This was back in a time before the rainbow flag, when the lambda was the recognized symbol of the gay rights struggle. He points at it and says somewhat belligerently “Why are you wearing the gay symbol?” This was a period in my life where I was still being careful who to come out to, but at the same time I’d made a resolution to myself not to lie if cornered. Well, I was cornered just then, and hoping for the best I told him it was because I’m gay, “We don’t allow gays in our crew he says. Bernie, one of the co-owners of the speaker shop, begins laughing and saying that I’m just joking. Somehow this only made me dig my heels in more. “No, says I…I’m gay.”

Next day Bernie fired me, taking pains to insist it wasn’t because I’m gay…I just wasn’t working out. Somehow.

Time passes…the universe expands… Some years later I run back into the old friend who connected me with Bernie and George (the other co-owner). How are things? Fine, how about you? Blah…blah…blah… As we’re busy catching up with what’s been happening in our lives, Glenn asks me if I’d heard about what happened to Bernie. No, says I, what’s up with him? He’s in jail, says Glenn. Couldn’t keep his hands off of under aged girls, he says.

Glenn eventually stopped talking to me after friending me on Facebook and being shocked, shocked, to discover what a militant homosexual I am. Oh well. On judgement day let it be said I would rather stand before my creator as an unrepentant sodomite, than have to account for some of the heterosexual lives I’ve witnessed with my own two eyes.

duggar_molester

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on You Repent First. Take All The Time You Need…

May 1st, 2015

Except That The Reason You Hate Roe Has Nothing To Do With Abortion

Jeremy Hooper tweeted this today…

@goodasyou  If I were part of the “pro-life” movement, I’d be appalled at ham-fisted way anti-gay activists are selling “new Roe”

I heard a lot of this at the NOM Rally last Saturday. It was as if they’d accepted the fact that if not now then soon enough same-sex couples will gain marriage equality in the United States. There was a sense in it of The South Will Rise Again.  You heard it over and over: yes we were stunned by the Supreme Court decision in Roe, yes we were demoralized and weary, but we rose up and got to work, and began to chip away at Roe, and we never gave up, and behold now how we are on the very threshold of reversing that hated decision. We can do the same if the court rules for the homosexuals. Yes, yes, but Hardwick v. Bowers happened in 1986, thirteen years after Roe (1973), and seventeen years later it was gone, and with it every state sodomy law and Roe is still there.  You need to leave your cocoon of comfortable conceits about yourselves and your splendid little culture war and take a look at why that is.  If you can.

Start by taking a good honest cold-eyed level headed look at why you think opposing abortion is so much like opposing same-sex marriage, because the only way they can be similar is if you never regarded the central evil of abortion as being the taking of a life, but rather the freedom of women to choose their own sexual and reproductive destiny. Then you can make a plausible case that Roe and same-sex marriage are similar battles: one being about the freedom and equality of women, the other the freedom and equality of homosexuals, both being about people whose freedom and equality you regard as a threat to yours. The freedom to dominate women. The freedom to scapegoat and persecute homosexuals. Seen in that light, yours isn’t a struggle to deny freedom to others, but simply a matter of defending your own sacred god given freedoms.

So let’s be honest here. Your fight over Roe was never about the fate of unborn children. But that was always staringly obvious. Your political henchmen are busy taking food out of the mouths of the Born children, grinding the public school system into the dirt, keeping healthcare out of the reach of poor families.  So who really believes that you actually give a rat’s ass about the welfare of kids.  And let’s continue being honest and admit that the fight over same-sex marriage isn’t about homosexuality either.  Religious freedom…sure…if you define religious freedom as the freedom to scapegoat an innocent minority for your own failures of moral character because, and you would know this about yourselves better than anyone else, Christ on the cross just isn’t enough to wash your sins away.

So yes, from your point of view it’s easy to see how since you’ve been maintaining the fight against Roe, and even winning at chipping away at it, you can do likewise with same-sex marriage, should that be necessary. Perhaps you’ve forgotten your own rhetoric about abortion being a holocaust. Perhaps that holocaust keeps slipping your mind for some reason. Perhaps you never actually cared about all those millions of dead babies half as much as that women who can decide their own reproductive destiny aren’t yours to keep barefoot and pregnant in the kitchen anymore. But here’s the thing: nobody sane understands that gay couples getting married is like killing babies. The more you keep insisting it is, the more the rest of the country is going to see what their gay neighbors have seen and had to stomach for decades: you people are nuts.

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Except That The Reason You Hate Roe Has Nothing To Do With Abortion

April 30th, 2015

Less Than Toilet Paper

I’m sharing this entire Facebook post from Marci Tarrant Johnson one of the Public Defenders working at Baltimore City Central Booking today.  I saw the other day that one of the protesters accused Wolf Blitzer on CNN of thinking a broken window was worse than a broken spine. But it’s the broken respect for the rule of law here in America that leads to broken spines in, police vans, with prisoners inside that are being given “screen tests“.  Rioting in the streets is amateur business. Take a look at what professional disrespect for the rule of law looks like…here…

OK…here it is…

I’m going to try to keep this as brief as I can, but I’ve been asked by several people about Central Booking today, so I’ll give you guys the shocking highlights. As much as I’d like to, I can’t describe the particulars of some of the more egregious arrests, due to attorney/client privilege issues, but I would like to describe the Civil Liberties violations, and the deplorable conditions which people have had to endure.

As many of you know, more than 250 people have been arrested since Monday here in Baltimore. Normally when you are arrested, you are given a copy of your charging documents and then you must see a commissioner within 24 hours for a bail determination (“prompt presentment”) and given a trial date. If you are not released after the commissioner hearing, you will be brought before a judge for a review of the bail set by the commissioner. None of this was happening, so we sent some lawyers to Central Booking yesterday to try to help. I heard, however, that only 2 commissioners showed up, and the correctional officers only brought about 9 people to be interviewed because the jail was on a mysterious “lock-down”.

Today we were divided into two groups. Some of the lawyers were assigned the task of actually doing judicial bail reviews for as many folks as they could get interviewed and docketed. I was assigned to the other group. We were the “habeas team”, and we were to interview folks that we felt were being illegally detained, so we could file writs of habeas corpus. Governor Hogan had issued an executive order, extending the time for prompt presentment to 47 hours. We believed that this order was invalid because the governor has no authority to alter the Maryland Rules. As a result, all people who were being detained for more than 24 hours without seeing a commissioner were being held illegally.

Knowing all of this, I was still not prepared for what I saw when I arrived. The small concrete booking cells were filled with hundreds of people, most with more than ten people per cell. Three of us were sent to the women’s side where there were up to 15 women per holding cell. Most of them had been there since Monday afternoon/evening. With the exception of 3 or 4 women, the women who weren’t there for Monday’s round-ups were there for freaking curfew violations. Many had not seen a doctor or received required medication. Many had not been able to reach a family member by phone. But here is the WORST thing. Not only had these women been held for two days and two nights without any sort of formal booking, BUT ALMOST NONE OF THEM HAD ACTUALLY BEEN CHARGED WITH ANYTHING. They were brought to CBIF via paddy wagons (most without seat belts, btw–a real shocker after all that’s happened), and taken to holding cells without ever being charged with an actual crime. No offense reports. No statements of probable cause. A few women had a vague idea what they might be charged with, some because of what they had actually been involved in, and some because of what the officer said, but quite a few had no idea why they were even there. Incidentally, I interviewed no one whose potential charges would have been more serious than petty theft, and most seemed to be disorderly conduct or failure to obey, charges which would usually result in an immediate recog/release.

The holding cells are approximately 10×10 (some slightly larger), with one open sink and toilet. The women were instructed that the water was “bad” and that they shouldn’t drink it. There are no beds–just a concrete cube. No blankets or pillows. The cells were designed to hold people for a few hours, not a few days. In the one cell which housed 15 women, there wasn’t even enough room for them all to lay down at the same time. Three times a day, the guards brought each woman 4 slices of bread, a slice of american cheese and a small bag of cookies. They sometimes got juice, but water was scarce, as the CO’s had to wheel a water cooler through every so often (the regular water being “broken”.)

My fellow attorneys and I all separately heard the same sickening story over and over. None of the women really wanted to eat 4 slices of bread 3 times a day, so they were saving slices of bread TO USE AS PILLOWS. Let me say that again. THEY WERE ALL USING BREAD AS PILLOWS SO THAT THEY WOULDN’T HAVE TO LAY THEIR HEADS ON THE FILTHY CONCRETE FLOOR.

Interviewing these women was emotionally exhausting. Quite a few of them began crying–so happy to finally see someone who might know why they were there, or perhaps how they might get out of this Kafka-esque nightmare. These women came from all walks of life. We interviewed high school students, college students, people with graduate degrees, people with GED’s, single women, married women, mothers, the well-employed, the unemployed, black women and white women. Almost all of them had no record. Those that did, had things like dui’s and very minor misdemeanors. Our group didn’t interview any of the men on the other side, but my colleagues reported very similar situations. On the men’s side there were journalists and activists, as well as highschool kids with no records, barely 18 years old.

As we were getting ready to leave, we heard that many of these folks might be released without charges, after being held for 2 days. When we returned to the office, our amazing “habeas fellow”, Zina Makar, single-handedly filed 82 habeas petitions. That is when we heard that 101 people were released without charges. I’d like to think that the amazing legal response to this injustice played a large part in their release, and I feel privileged to have been a part of it. They may be charged later, but I’m guessing most of them won’t based on how minor their alleged infractions are. There are still over a hundred folks in there that need to see a commissioner and/or a judge, but hopefully we have thinned the ranks a little, and we will keep fighting until everyone has received due process. (We are concerned about these folks potential bails, as we are hearing about bails in the hundreds of thousands of dollars for misdemeanor charges).

I’ll wrap this up by reminding everyone that all lives matter. We are all human beings. And we are Americans, and as such we are afforded protections under the law, the guilty and innocent alike. If one person is denied due process, we all suffer. If one persons rights and freedoms are trampled on, it’s not only a reflection on all of us, but it puts our own liberty at risk. The moment we view some individuals as more important than others, we cheapen ourselves. At the very essence of our democracy is the right to question and stand up to authority. During these trying times, we should all keep that in mind.

I’ll leave you with a beautiful picture that was taken today of one of the women who was released without charges. Her husband had been waiting outside CBIF trying to find something…ANYTHING out about when she might be charged or released. This was taken moments after she walked out the door…..

released in baltimore

This is why Baltimore keeps paying out millions in lawsuits that might otherwise be spent on our crumbling infrastructure. But pay attention to what this lawyer says at the very end…

I’ll wrap this up by reminding everyone that all lives matter. We are all human beings. And we are Americans, and as such we are afforded protections under the law, the guilty and innocent alike. If one person is denied due process, we all suffer. If one persons rights and freedoms are trampled on, it’s not only a reflection on all of us, but it puts our own liberty at risk.

We’ve all seen how the wingers love to wave the constitution around like it means something to them. Yet they are completely fine with all of this as long as it’s happening to everyone they hate…the darkies, the dirty f*cking hippies, anyone and everyone as long as it isn’t them. If this is your idea of liberty and justice than the U.S. constitution is less meaningful to you than a roll of toilet paper.

So next time one of them talks at you about how much they love the constitution, next time some winger starts babbling that Barack Hussein Obama or Hillary or someone, anyone in government whose policies they don’t like is VIOLATING THE CONSTITUTION and they’re all against that, laugh in their face.

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Less Than Toilet Paper

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