Monday, June 30, 2008

On Pride

I wasn't going to touch on the subject this year, as I am still sufficiently repulsed by the actions of the local organizers that I cannot bring myself to attend their event - which if we count bodies (400,000 by police estimate) in attendance was a screaming success (we'll see what it looks like, if we're allowed to, when the numbers come in). I may attend up in Vancouver.

However, having staggered across a post in a blog I read fairly regularly (a now-vanished post) gently deriding Pride as counterproductive and continuing with the "why can't they just keep it in their bedrooms" meme.

Yeargh. Over the years, I've written this post in different words, at different times, and in different places at least five separate times, and I'm really not eager for round VI. However....

Pride didn't happen spontaneously, and it didn't originate in a grandly festive party in a world that celebrated folks of LGBT persuasion. It didn't originate among a bunch of buttoned-down straight-laced LGBT folks campaigning for incremental change - it originated in a decidedly run-down bar in New York, the Stonewall Inn frequented by drag queens, escorts, and sundry down on their luck gay folks, and was anything but a celebration.

Things were different then. It was 1969 and the times were tumultuous - anti-war protests, the civil rights movement and race riots combined with a hot summer to leave far too many neighborhoods a roiling incendiary stew merely waiting for a spark to detonate it.

It was still common for police to raid LGBT bars and events, and beating up patrons and staff before hauling them off on "infamous charges" that ended careers and destroyed lives. It was not especially uncommon for bar owners and event sponsors to pay protection to police in order to assure they and their patrons would be either not harassed, or harassed less often.

Bashing, though it still occurs today, was far more common then and more frequently lethal. Those who by their very nature ("born outside the closet with the door locked behind them") stood little chance of hiding successfully, were particularly vulnerable - and such were the patrons of the Stonewall Inn. The very existence of gay bars in New York had only been legal since 1965, prior to which the gathering of three or more gay folks in a bar was grounds for that bar to lose its' license.

Reparative therapy ("We can De-GAY you or your offspring!") had not yet been shown to be the cruel fraud that we know it as today, and its' regiment of aversion therapy (or torture, if you care to be honest) still stalked the land unchallenged, with uncounted victims - suicides, nervous breakdowns, and a wide varity of otherwise damaged folks were still being abused by that abhorrent cottage industry from Hades.

Debateably relevant was the death of gay icon Judy Garland the day before the raid on the Stonewall Inn, contributing to the emotional ferment in the streets. Certainly, in latter day accounts, this has been considered a factor in events.

In the midst of this flammable emotional concoction, nine officers of the NYPD (one uniformed, 8 not) began a raid of the Stonewall Inn at 3 a.m. on Saturday morning - June 28, 1969.

It did not go well. Debate continues on when and how precisely the fun began, but in almost all accounts, a flashpoint was hit inside the bar, and for the first time, the gays fought back. First, with drag queens heating pennies red hot with lighters before flinging them at officers, and proceeding rapidly to thrown bottles and full-out brawling. Before the evening was out, the officers were barricaded inside the Stonewall Inn as it was being set alight by its patrons. Four days of rioting followed.

The LGBT community had, quite simply, had enough. The Mattachine Society, an early body of polite gay activists, was soon done and the "Gay Liberation Force" was born. The time for asking nicely was over.

Soon, in more and more cities, Pride Celebrations sprang up commemorate Stonewall - first in protests, and then in celebration as things got better over a period of decades - there was less to protest, and more to celebrate...and it was safer to celebrate.

The theme might be said to be shifting, even today, from Twisted Sisters anthem "We're not going to take it" to "Wasn't that a Party" by the Irish Rovers, and more than once the argument for one thing or another between the LGBT community and various governmental sorts has boiled down to "Would you rather the party, or the protest?".

Many of the pioneers of the Stonewall era are still with us, rebels and protesters slightly ameliorated by age, but as a result of the AIDS epidemic blowing the guts out of an entire generation of potential community leaders, only now barely beginning to step away from the leadership roles in the community in favor of younger folks, and still possessed of a grim determination that as a community, we never want to return to the dark days of the pre-Stonewall era.

That's the history. The present reality is increasingly the community "letting it's hair down", not dissimilar to Mardi Gras or Seafair (before the bluenoses got hold of it), in a vast and mighty party of increasingly commercial nature. That it *can* is a good thing, as that means the tense protests of yore are less necessary. That it could revert to its' roots of angry protest is part of our protection as a minority community.

To address those who claim that we choose our sexuality, I'd ask - "Um, when did you choose to be heterosexual?" And continue with inquiries about what person in their right mind would choose to self-select to be harassed, discriminated against, and generally get a bonus ration of crud in far too many places in the world and our nation...

As far as I can tell, some folks are born rigidly hetero; some rigidly LGBT; and most, depending on their environment, circumstances, and dumb luck fall someplace on a Bell Curve between those two extremes, coming at some point to a self-definition that "feels right/truthful" to them (or a mighty deep closet in which to wallow in guilt, self-hatred, and assorted drama).

For me, the first Pride I attended in about '90 or so was a revelation - my god, there were "other people like me", and I was not the "only one", and not everyone was "living the stereotype" - there were lots of just regular folks having a good time in a positive environment. Surely, there are excesses, but no more so than at Mardi Gras. It was as if a gorilla had climbed off my shoulders, and it was "ok to be me".

And finally, Pride isn't a collection of saints, either. It's a whole bunch of folks, almost all of whom have spent some portion of their lives hiding their identity from themselves and others, letting their hair down and celebrating in what, for a day or two, is a space we feel as our own, and safe - not surprisingly, some folks get a little harm (no blood), no foul.

I have my issues with certain pride organizers (or I would not refer to them as pond scum), but not with Pride. It combines celebration, community safety, and the role of the canary in the proverbial coal mine (and makes for one major fundraiser for community organizations, if done right) into a single joyous package.

Perhaps in 2009 we'll see respectable organizers in Seattle. In the meantime, I hope I can hit Vancouver or Palm Springs 2008.

Obamatron Dirty Tricks??

It seems that anti-Obama blogs have been going "off the air" with unusual regularity lately according to Warner Todd Huston over at Newsbusters, with the further allegation that this is some sort of concerted effort by the Obamatrons to utilize a flawed spam detection system to take out opponents blogs.

Being a cautious sort, I've updated my wordpress version (gotta love that import function) and posted the link on the main blog (i.e., here). I am but a pawn in the game of life, but it would peeve me mightily to be locked out of my own blog - particularly when I have the option to keep a backup version live on another service. I'll update it every couple of days, I expect, and while I suspect I'm much too small fry to be affected, doesn't cost me anything to be cautious.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Heller: Time for a Modest Celebration

We did win. As is typical of important decisions from SCOTUS, it is a *close* one at 5-4, our favor. Also, as is typical of SCOTUS, it is a largely incremental decision that if read closely offers all sorts of hints to even moderately cagey politicians as to the likely direction of the Court in similar cases - a blueprint, if you will, for "how to stay out of our sights" from SCOTUS.

The best example I'm aware of is the series of cases beginning in the 1940's that eventually led up to the Miranda case, which effectively required, in the end that all arrestee's be read what came to later be referred to as their "Miranda Rights" upon arrest or detention. In that series of cases, the SCOTUS of the day didn't just one day haul off and go from "zero" (where rubber hoses and back room interrogations were ok) to Miranda in one fell swoop - they took several cases, scattering (in retrospect), that logically LED to Miranda.

Heller is not our Miranda. Heller is early days. It's a good decision that lays some really hopeful groundwork for us, but it does not incorporate the Second Amendment against the states under the 14th Amendment, and it does not wholly eliminate licensing and other control schemes (it merely hints that more drastic SCOTUS action may be available in future cases regarding such issues, and that a high standard will be set for such schemes survival).

I would've *liked* a far broader decision invalidating everything from GCA '34 forward and wholly incorporating the 2nd against the states, but this is a happy and good start.

By all means, let us celebrate Heller. It's huge advance, but the battle is far from over - a shout of glee is well within the appropriate.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Electric Cars...

Had an interesting opportunity the other day - had driven past a dealership (MC Electric) that, not surprisingly, offered electric vehicles rather than internal combustion sorts - which piqued my interest.

Given fuel prices and the fact that Mom's car is aging (and at 79, she's given up freeway driving), I stopped in after a relatively upbeat visit to the medical guru, and chatted with a staffer - ended up even going for a test drive of a Miles Electric vehicle, a rather boxxy 4.5 seat affair, speed-governed to 35mph (a new highway legal model governed at 80mph expected in early '09).

In terms of drive-ability, pickup was good and braking was acceptable. I was put off a bit by the dull hum rather than the usual engine noise - nothing huge, but the absence was strange when I'm used to the engine noise as part of the environment cluing me in on what's going on with a vehicle at any given point. A note, batteries need replacing roughly every 5 years at a cost of about $400 a whirl.

Regenerative brakes (a brake that generates electricity when employed), and the ability to plug in to any normal 110v AC socket at a home or business are pretty darned handy. Three point seat belts are in place, but no airbags in the current models.

At 22k for a new car with air conditioning and all the standard features on board, it's not a bad deal - and for someone with a short to moderate commute or in errand mode, it's ideal. Seventy-five cents for a full charge, lower maintenance costs, reduced insurance (due to the governed 35mph top speed) tot out to saving around 3k a year according to dealership figures - and the quiet satisfaction of knowing you're not paying any fuel taxes to support government programs you disagree with.

I'm recommending it to Mom, and suggest for folks who need a new vehicle and are tired of gas prices (and with the coming election, more than likely no hope of improvement for four years..) that electric is coming of age.

Twelve Reasons I'll vote for McCain

1) He's not Barack Hussein Obama.
2) He's not from Chicago.
3) Jeremiah Wright was never his pastor for 22 years.
4) He's not married to Michelle Obama.
5) He actually has a chance of winning.
6) He's not a product of the Daley machine.
7) He hasn't thrown 9 close associates under the bus, claiming he "didn't really know them"
8) He's not violently opposed to the Second Amendment.
9) He's not likely to curse us with nationalized health care (See: Britain, NHS)
10) He can actually complete a sentence without a minimum of three "ummm, ahhhh, hmm"'s
11) We'll probably still have an economy after his first term.
12) He honestly doesn't give a damn about LGBT issues, as opposed to pretending to just enough to buy our votes.
13) He's not likely to nationalize the refineries. (How to make problem worse: Put gov't in charge)

Sunday, June 15, 2008

The Endless Contest

This post evolved from a reply I made over on the SF-PinkPistols list in response to a writer suggesting that it was the duty of "gay gun-lovers" to hold their noses and vote for Barack Hussein Obama, as he would allegedly forward LGBT civil rights which (according to this poster, more achievable/important than 2A rights).

The above graphic is my present best guess on how things look for the Electoral College at the moment, and is created using the electoral estimator at the Washington Post. The below is my "upgraded" response to that view, and hints at some of the reasons that I believe that as gun owners, much as we may hold McCain in disdain, that faced with the threat of an Obama presidency, we have no choice but to support McCain and urge our friends, family, and acquaintances to do the same.

I disagreed.

In his argument he stated that what he described as full civil rights for the LGBT community are inevitable, and that a McCain presidency would at most delay the process of achieving that goal.

I suggest if we accept that as true, it actually diminishes any actual or perceived need to vote for Barack Hussein Obama as in that case LGBT civil rights are inevitable with only the timeline in dispute. Firearms rights, however, particularly under an Obama administration are on much more dangerous ground and thus in much greater need of such protection as we can afford them.

If we are less hopeful regarding LGBT civil rights, given the ever-present phenomena of "backlash" (to which he also alluded), many of us may well take the position that it is time for LGBT activism to take a breath, for us to consolidate our gains, and allow the mainstream majority to catch their breath and realize that if same sex marriage (or our current civil rights gains) are generally accepted as legal and on a par (legally, at least) with opposite gender marriage and civil rights that:

1) The world won't end.
2) Straight folks won't rush out (more than usual) and get divorces.
3) LGBT won't sudddenly spring up all over (it isn't catching).
4) That, if they mind their own business, it really won't matter to them.

Given a chance to catch their collective breath, most folks (LGBT and otherwise) are fairly decent folk and pretty ok with the notion of equality before the law for all with neither privilege or prejudice against any. If we keep pushing, on the other hand, we might just provoke the backlash we decidedly do not want.

An Obama presidency might well be considered, from such a viewpoint, as poking a sharp stick at a sleeping (or at least groggy) giant that best serves the LGBT community by remaining blissfully lethargic.

For many of us, the *only* position we agree with Barack Hussein Obama on even somewhat is LGBT civil rights, and even then, many of us have reservations about issues such as hate crimes legislation. For example, I truly don't care *why* someone is having the crud kicked out of them by a band of thugs, I merely desire that it stop immediately and that very bad and consistent things happen to the thugs regardless of the reason for the beating, excepting self-defense (and I have great difficulty imagining 5:1 as self-defense).

For us, it is the *act* that offends far more than the reason - at least partially because telepathy is not required to ascertain most criminal acts, where divining the reason for misbehavior is much more treacherous.

Blessed with lawful carry, we are in a position to choose defend ourselves and our loved ones against the bullies, bigots, and generally bad persons that would harass, assault, maim, or kill us. I would suggest reviewing this essay for a more detailed rationale.

All things considered, and while progress is both desirable and necessary, asking gun owning LGBT folks to throw ourselves under the bus for the "sake of the community" is a bit unreasonable.

Both the GOP and the Dem parties are hidebound collections of competing special interests held together by mutual despite for the other, lust for power, true believers, and the all too common "useful idiot".

Neither is worthy of our blind loyalty or our trust, leaving us to support that party which, as individuals, offends us least.

Neither, today, is our best buddy - the one takes us for granted as a "gimme" voting block, the other has given up on us as blind partisans beyond hope of reason of their opposition and beyond hope of reason; less kindly, for the one we are "useful idiots" and the other "hopeless idiots".

The one needs to be asked "what have you done for us LATELY?" and the other, "When are you going to work for our votes rather than giving up on us as hopeless?"

As regards national health care, all it takes is a long cold look at the NHS of Britain, and I shudder in horror at the very thought - and my concern is reinforced by all those Canadians engaging in medical tourism in the United States and elsewhere in order to get treatments or priority they cannot find in their less decrepit version of the NHS nightmare.

Many of us do not regard liberalism, at least in its' current form, as a good thing. We may be capitalists, or we may simply realize that under an Obama administration we would be relegated to criminal status and our rights that we enjoy in more civilized states (objective standards for grant of Concealed Carry licenses, reasonable regulations, etc) stolen from us under an Obama administration.

This makes McCain the one we'll likely find ourselves holding our noses for as we go to the polling place.

Speaking for myself, I believe both John McCain and Barack Hussein Obama to be utterly vile choices as presidential candidates. McCain as an unprincipled pragmatist, and Obama as the product of the utterly corrupt Daley Machine of Chicago (and virulently anti-gun, anti-carry to boot). I will vote for McCain not because I am enthused, but because I'm marginally less disgusted.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Obama Supports Our Military

Credit to LittleGreenFootballs and Investors Business Daily.

Doesn't the dedication to national security just make you feel all warm and fuzzy?

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Seattle Mayor to Defy State Law, bar CCW

I don't often use the limited "bully pulpit" a blog offers given my limited readership, but, dear readers, this one is just slightly important. I rec'd the below in an e-mail from Pink Pistols a few moments ago...identifying data has been snipped.

In breaking news today across all local media, it was announced that the Mayor of Seattle would bar concealed carry regardless of state license status on all city property in an announcement on Monday, June 9th.

It is suggested that comments be made to the city, and to local media (letters to the editor, etc) as soon as possible. Be polite, be knowledgeable, and be aware that the media will often choose to use your own quotes in a less than flattering fashion. Be sure to mention how this increases the risk of gay bashing in city parks and facilities, by ensuring that law-abiding gay folk are helpless in the face of the rising number of hate crime based assaults.


Seattle Times:
Seattle Post Intelligencer:

Revised Code of Washington (Pre-emption section re firearms)

Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels: (206) 684-4000
Seattle City Council Member Tim Burgess: (206)684-8806
Sally Clark: (206) 684-8802
Richard Conlin: (206) 684-8805
Jan Drago: (206) 684-8801
Jean Godden: (206) 684-8807
Bruce Harrell: (206) 684-8804
Nick Licata: (206) 684-8803
Richard McIver: (206) 684-8800
Tom Rasmussen: (206) 684-8808

Write early, write often, write politely. Explore issues of city liability, civil rights violations (law abiding persons barred from city facilities), gay bashing, etc.

This case may undermine pre-emption (statutes barring cities and counties from each having their own weird gun laws, like Massachusetts) not only in Washington, but other states as well. I cannot urge you to communicate your misgivings strongly enough.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Democrats on Obama

Democrats celebrate Obama's virtues. Courtesy of Free New Hampshire.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Obama - a racist?

First off, having run into it a few times, I'll start out by being really clear on definitions. I believe (and I suspect most dictionaries agree with me) that racism is a two way street. It's not about either who is in the currently more advantageous socioeconomic position, or who has held that position in the past.

Racism is the hatred or fear of individuals belonging to a specific racial grouping based on membership in the target racial group(s). It is a subset of bigotry, ugly and vile, and neither its' vileness nor its' inherent ugliness is in any way ameliorated by which way it's pointed at the moment. In common use, racism is considered to include speech and actions taken to denigrate, intimidate, or actually harm persons and property from motives based in racism.

That said, by all accounts, Trinity United Church of Christ appears *to me* to be a hotbed of racism long festering in the Chicago community - unusual only in that the racists are black, and the targets of despite are white.

From my point of view, upon discovering oneself in such an organization, choices are limited. One can depart, confront the bigotry successfully, or become complicit in the bigotry. Confronting the bigotry unsuccessfully, and then hanging around while continuing to support the misguided group with your time, presence, and cash is perhaps an option - but not one that speaks of gumption or integrity.

The recent racially charged comments by Trinity's invited guest Father Michael Pfleger (currently ordered by Cardinal George to take leave to "contemplate his comments"), and the history of similarly charged comments by Rev. Dr. Jeremiah Wright (including the infamous "God Damn America" sermon), leaves me with a question or two regarding Senator Barack Hussein Obama.

The questions only become more pressing in light of the alleged full-bore anti-white-folks thirty minute rant by Michelle Obama at Trinity back in 2004 reported over at the blog of RobertaX. (The word alleged goes away right about the time I see a video of said rant, or a verifiable transcript) (CORRECTION: Pending further data, per Little Green Footballs - the "whitey" rant claim is false, and I suspect LGF would be dancing in the streets at such a morsel of anti-Obama goodness if it were true - thus a lack of motivation for falsehood).

Is Sen. Obama simply a racist fellow traveler spending 22 years at Trinity, does he lack the gumption to revile evil when he sees it, or is he simply too stupid to recognize racism when he sees it?

For us, the voters, I propose a different question - do any of the possible answers reveal a man that should be allowed within a half mile of the Oval Office?

It is presently among my fonder hopes that Hillary is rudely told to bugger off regarding the VP slot, and in high dudgeon runs an Independent campaign. One can *always* hope, after all.

I'm in a better mood, and more functional. That doesn't mean I'm suddenly a liberal or spontaneously enthused about those that suffer that affliction.

Side issues...

Had a lovely chat with my doctor the other day, and covered many issues in a brief period of time. A wide variety of things have improved, one is identified as being negatively affected by a certain, ummm, lack of rigid control regarding caloric and carb intake, I've lost four pounds, I have limited authorization to go play in a gym, and the doc and I had a most illuminating chat.

Since my father fell ill, and then passed, and my subsequent separation from my employer - combined with concerns about my own various health issues - my level of cheeriness has been notably sub-par, my social skills less than at their best, and I've been generally operating in something of a state of malaise. I suspect, though objectivity about ones own creative work is hard to come by, that my writing has rather deteriorated.

Not actively contemplating anything foolish, I fell into a state of mind that while I was certainly prepared to do any little thing that duty or ethics required, I wasn't precisely showing a great deal of initiative. I threw myself into clearing up Dad's estate and stabilizing Mom for independent living (fixing up her house, etc.) and began to withdraw into myself and become notably cranky, beyond my usual cynical abandon.

Though not a big fan of organized religion, I remain a believer nonetheless. I asked my higher power rather regularly that if He didn't have anything special for me to do...if He might be gracious enough to call me home.

My rationale was that I was heartily tired of having things repeatedly turn to dung, and if the good Lord was ready to take me, why, I was perfectly ready to go - not by my own hand, as that would be cheating by my lights, but if it was my time, I wasn't about to object.

I'm told this is called "depression". It is not, in my experience, fun.

My doc expressed that this was, perhaps, a less than ideal view and some medication might be in order. Between us, we looked at various issues, and he suggested a mild anti-depressant. I'm not exactly a big fan of pill-popping, and tend to warp medical folk when I argue against pain medications, so it took a bit of talking to get me to "try this out."

I agreed, and that was a couple of weeks ago. I'd forgotten, but back when I was doing my 40 day hospital stay, I'd also been placed on a mild anti-depressant, and it did good things. This time, the effects seem to have kicked in fairly quickly.

I begin to suspect this little issue hasn't been a "gee whiz, a bright shiny new malady" - instead, more something that's been low-level and undiagnosed for a long, long, time. More something that recent events exacerbated, than anything new. It would certainly explain a few things.

I'm waiting for my body to adapt and throw off the sleepiness I'm told is initially endemic to such things - but while not much in reality has changed, I have independent verification I'm notably cheerier and less cranky...and subjectively, I'm feeling much better - and a lot more active in my job search as savings, indeed, do not last forever (would that they did!).

Anyway. Hopefully this means that, in combination with other little improvements to life, I'll be posting more often, and in a more organized/less rambling fashion. I'm not posting this for a bunch of "pity pats" or sympathy comments - but more as an apology for not posting more regularly and for rambling a bit of late, and in the hopes that if someone else out there stumbles across this whilst in the midst of "life sucks, can we be done yet?" auto-pilot...that perhaps they'll find something worthwhile in my comments.