Forty Years Ago Today I Entered The Hospital

While Dr. Laub and his team ran their clinic out of offices at Stanford and every one on the team was involved with the Stanford University Medical Center they did not perform surgery there.

Instead we were relegated to Harold D Chope Community Hospital in San Mateo.

It was as though they were ashamed of giving  us the operations we needed.

In the weeks just prior to my entering the hospital my mother had waged a last ditch campaign to get me to change my mind.  She pulled out every manipulative and emotionally blackmailing tool she could think of and dumped them on me.  Then she hit with the threat of disowning me completely.

She wanted me to try being a guy just one more time.

I told her that the alternative to my not getting my surgery wasn’t my being a guy, it was my being a queen.  That what I had done with the hormones and the consciousness changes made it impossible for me to ever be a guy.

Jerry was angry at the toxic bullshit my mother was dumping on me and I was really afraid to discuss how upset I was with Stanford because they might cancel my surgery. My sisters could be a bunch of judgmental bitches, something that hasn’t changed in forty years so talking to them about being afraid of the consequences of getting surgery wasn’t a good idea.

It was a Monday afternoon, the night before I had fasted.  I wouldn’t eat solid food for the next week or so.

Jerry had been really protective of me, seeing to it that we had a lot of weed, telling me everything was going to be alright.

We didn’t have a car and so I took the train to San Mateo and a cab to the hospital.

I had paid all the surgeons fees and the hospital deposits before hand so all that remained was for me to check in.

It wasn’t like we could share rooms even though we were spending nearly two weeks in the hospital and they were doing one or two surgeries a week.

Instead we were stuck down in a small ward of individual rooms located in the basement of the hospital.

No one ever told me it would be easy.

Some of the deserters I knew had a slogan they used in ‘Nam.  “Just suck it up. It don’t mean nothing…”

If being treated in a way that was shabby was the price I had to pay then I would just suck it up and get on with it.

Once I was in the hospital room I became the center of all sorts of activity. Last minute blood tests. Laxatives, enemas, pubic hair shaving, scrubbing with anti-bacterial solutions.

Dr Laub dropped by and asked how I was doing and did I have any reservations about going through with the operation. I lied through my teeth and said everything was fine.  I didn’t tell him that if I went ahead with the operation my parents were going to completely disown me.

I remembered the Serenity Prayer poster and the idea of doing what I had to do.

By the time evening rolled around I was drained and a little scared.  I wanted the result and yet I hated the whole process.

I felt like a piece of meat being put through some sort of ritual but I knew in my heart I had to do what I was doing.

They gave me a sleeping pill but I still had a hard time sleeping.

I just wanted to be over and done with the whole process.

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NOM-Regnerus ‘Gay Parenting’ Study: A One-Percenter Dirty Campaign Trick

From The New Civil Rights Movement:

by Scott Rose
on June 20, 2012

Reposted with permission

The Republicans’ Problem

Imagine you are Mitt Romney, running as a Republican for president.

Your net worth is about $250 million.

The people most eager to see you elected are billionaires — for example, the Koch brothers.

The voters know you are getting tax deductions for your wife’s dressage horses.

And you’re on record, promising to lower your own taxes and those of the Koch brothers, while raising taxes on the middle class.

How in the world will you get middle class voters to support you?

Scapegoating a Minority

Scapegoating a minority is one of the oldest dirty tricks in the political books.

Ignorance-fueled hatred is a goldmine for ruling-class people looking to gain an additional power advantage.

You distract the lower classes’ attention from the fact that your bad economic policies are unjustly disadvantaging them, by portraying the hated minority as a mortal threat to them and the society.

Why Demonizing Gays is so Effective Politically

Given an ignorant enough block of people, one can have success by telling them that a hated minority is a danger to the nation, and is out to get their children.

Notoriously, for example, the Blood Libel held that Jews stole Christian babies to use their blood to make matzo. It mattered not, that blood is not a matzo ingredient; lies give life to anti-minority demonization campaigns.NOM’s endless demonization of homosexuals is a tissue of lies.

NOM, by the way, exploits anti-Semitism in the populace, when doing so will advance its anti-gay agenda.

An Astonishing Coincidence

The so-called National Organization for Marriage repeats and repeats that same-sex marriage will spell doom for civilization.

And, the Southern Poverty Law Center has noted NOM’s enthusiasm for demonizing gays by fraudulently conflating homosexuals with pedophiles.

Something the Catholic Church has done, with an enthusiasm equal to NOM’s.

NOM has a great deal in common with the Catholic Church, which is a determined NOM collaborator. The Church conflates homosexuals with pedophiles, and five former U.S. ambassadors to the Holy See endorsed Romney on the same day. What a coincidence, then, that the Republican party shields the Church from proposed legislation to lift the statutes of limitations for prosecution of child rape.

The Evil NOM Plan to get Children of Gay Parents to Denounce Those Parents

In March, 2012, NOM strategy documents became public through a court order. They described schemes to “drive a wedge between” and to “fan hostility” between African-Americans and gay Americans. The election year political goal of the wedge driving, and the hostility fanning, is this; peel enough religious anti-gay African-American voters away from Obama for Romney in states with tight races, such as North Carolina, such that, together with other tactics, Romney wins in those states.

Notice carefully; where NOM is very aggressively busy, attempting to get religious African-Americans to vote for Romney — mainly on the basis that “same-sex marriage is an insult to us and to God” — its greatest successes will most likely be among rural religious anti-gay African-Americans. That is to say, NOM is most likely to have election year success with the populations least likely to benefit economically from a Romney administration. That is why Romney considers NOM a key ally.

The NOM strategy documents further described a scheme to get Latinos not to assimilate into modern American life, by maintaining opposition to gay rights, and making that opposition a marker of cultural identity. See what NOM was doing there for Republicans? The right wing complains all the time, that immigrants are not assimilating. So NOM is killing two birds with one stone; drive Latino voters to Republicans through hate-mongering against gays, while increasing, in the election year, an appearance that Latinos are not assimilating, the better to provoke white and African-American voters into voting for Republicans, who are tough against immigrants.

Say it out loud; NOM is an arm of the national Republican party. National Republican leaders coordinate their strategies with NOM. NOM’s Robert P. George got Romney to sign the NOM pledge, he is personal friends with Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, and House Speaker John Boehner appointed him to the U.S. Commission for International Religious Freedom.

One evil plot described in the NOM strategy documents seemed risible when first told to the public in March; NOM had planned to hire somebody, dedicated to getting children of gay parents to denounce their parents.

Naive Democrats and gays scoffed.  ”Look what that silly NOM tried to do!  Looks like they couldn’t find a single kid to denounce his gay parents.”

And, as far as that went, it might have been true.

Yet, NOM co-founder Robert George had already secured $785,000 for a “fixed” sociological study that absolutely had to 1) produce results demonizing gay parents,  and 2) be produced in a hurry and in time for the 2012 elections.

NOM’s commissioned study, in effect, got children to appear to condemn their gay parents.

Democrats and gays should not have scoffed, when they first learned that NOM was plotting to make gay parents look bad through their children. If NOM says it is carrying out an evil plan, look for NOM to be carrying that evil plan out.

NOM’s and Regnerus’s Deceitfulness Related to the Study

In his published study, Regnerus states forthrightly that his aim was to compare children of married heterosexual couples with “young adults who grew up with a lesbian mother or gay father.”

Buried in Regnerus’s write-up of his study — which covered present-day young adults who were children up through the 1990s — is an admission that the majority of those among his survey responders who said 1) that one of their parents had had a “romantic relationships” with a same sex partner, had 2) been born to a mixed-sexual-orientation couple, whose gay or lesbian member eventually faced down the sham marriage, and came out as gay.

What is Regnerus’s excuse for not including any planned gay families?  The business of getting the surveys out and answered was contracted to a company called “Knowledge Networks.” Knowledge Networks does not go looking for specific demographics needed for a survey. The company will not, for example, take on a project where 3,000 left-handed Chinese people over 5’9″ are needed to answer questions. In the entire world, there are many more than 3,000 left-handed Chinese people over 5’9″.  But the trick is, they are not in Knowledge Networks’ existing list of enrolled potential survey subjects. Knowledge Networks has an existing list of potential survey subjects; it will not go out looking for a demographic not adequately represented on its existing lists.  The company does seek to sign up more general population members for later studies. That accrual of people from the general population, motivated to be on Knowledge Networks’ lists of potential survey responders, constituted the “public” from which Regnerus culled his study subjects.

Regnerus alleges that it would be “too difficult” to find actual children raised by gay parents; the truth is, had he worked with a company that operates differently from Knowledge Networks, he would have been able to find an adequate number of children of gay parents. In particular, had Regnerus wished to be honest and accurate about a gay parent survey — instead of rushing his study to completion for Republican political purposes in an election year — he would have opted for the slower route of finding actual children raised mainly by gay parents.

It’s a fact; NOM’s Robert George, who commissioned the study, needed to have it completed, with negative implications against gays, in time for use in the 2012 elections.

The circumstances of the survey responder recruiting, and Regnerus’s evasions and untruths about the recruitment, alone are very incriminating of him.

NOM and Regnerus appear to be colluding in a disinformation blitz, wherein the public is given to believe that Robert George handed off $785,000 to Regnerus, with no idea whatsoever about how Regnerus might wind up conducting his study, or whether he would even have it completed in time for the 2012 elections. Just how dumb do these people think we are?

Important to note: Regnerus’s written study says that it was supported “in part” by the Witherspoon Institute, where George is Senior Fellow, and by the Bradley Foundation, where George is a Board member. Who gave the remainder of the money for the study, and how much did they give?

It is known that secrecy for donors is a NOM specialty. Click into the pages of a Ku Klux Klan website, to where they talk about how “qualified” candidates can join the KKK. One reason the KKK always gives for joining, is that “It is a secret society; nobody on the outside will ever know that you belong.” The very fact that NOM has resorted to donor secrecy, demonstrates that its brand of bigotry increasingly is becoming too extreme for mainstream America.

Nonetheless, even though Regnerus admits that he did not study planned gay families, he and NOM are running around, telling the public that a gay parent is a bad parent.

Regnerus Politically in Cahoots with NOM

Beyond stating that the intent of his study was to compare children of gay parents to children of heterosexual parents — (without actually studying children raised mainly by gay parents) — Regnerus describes study goals that correspond precisely to NOM’s political motivations, and that also happen to position him as a highly-paid “expert” on the superiority of heterosexual parents to gay parents. Regnerus states that previous studies of gay parents were carried out mainly on affluent subjects, and he praises himself for having carried out a study that included “gay” parents from the middle and lower classes.

This is key, so pay attention: Although Regnerus studied people from different class levels — that is to say, people with dramatically different levels of access to money — his observations written and spoken about the differences in child outcomes are focused on the parents’ sexual orientation, the topic assigned him by NOM’s Robert George; not a word is said about how the parents’ financial situation impacted child outcomes. Regnerus does acknowledge that finances are a factor; but that’s all he does; he doesn’t at all talk about how money impacted outcomes. The study attracted a disproportionate number of African-Americans and Latinos, and especially, African-American and Latino adult offspring of gays or lesbians from broken heterosexual marriages, who were urgently needed in order for Robert George to get the type of “data” needed for his anti-gay Republican propaganda campaign.

For emphasis; had Regnerus analyzed his data from the viewpoint of how money impacts child outcomes, he would have produced a result antithetical to Robert George’s Republican political goals for the study. Having taken $785,000 of Republican political money from George, Regnerus was not going to produce an analysis that George and the Republicans could not use to their advantage in the 2012 elections. When Regnerus denies that he produced political propaganda made to order on a cash commission, one must assume he is lying.

How did Regnerus wind up with disproportionate representation of people of color mainly with modest to low incomes? Knowledge Networks provided incentives to participate; $5 for an initial screening, and $20 for taking the survey. Obviously, the less money one has, the more one will be motivated to earn $25 by responding to a survey. The bitter irony is that the disproportionate percentages of survey responders who took that tiny bit of pin money because they needed it, were enabling Republican operatives through a weapon to be used against them in the elections. Exactly how were wealthy people motivated to take this survey anyway, if that is not too much to ask? I have shown how the 1% stand to benefit from the political uses made of this study, and I have reported that a $25 incentive was paid to survey participants. Would a wealthy person responding to the survey be more motivated by the $25, or by the potential Republican political benefit to be had through the promotion of the study? There is no way to fact-check who took the study, because study subject confidentiality is part of survey ethics. I am just noting, if there was dishonesty involved in luring particular people to take the study and to answer it in assigned ways, we would have no way to learn whether that had happened.

Regnerus writes in his study that negative results about gay parents were needed to counter studies that showed positive results for children of gay parents. And he says that his is the study that provides negative results. Regnerus writes: “the empirical claim that no notable differences exist” — (between children of straight and gay parents) — “must go.” 

No matter what nuance exists in other parts of Regnerus’s description of his study, his bottom line result for public consumption is that 1) whereas previous studies of gay parents showed that gay parents were not more harmful to children than heterosexual parents, they were all flawed. I have come to the rescue by 2) scientifically demonstrating that homosexual parents are a danger to children.

Exactly what Dr. Robert George ordered!

Regnerus also discusses how studies of gay parenting have been used for legislation and court cases; he is positioning himself to be NOM’s highly-paid “expert” for Senate and Congressional hearings and court rooms. He already knows that NOM’s Robert George can come through with the big bucks for him.

Blame the Victims

The lion’s share of “bad” outcomes for children that Regnerus and NOM pin on homosexual parents, actually are attributable to class differences.

For example, “smoking marijuana” and “being arrested” and/or “being convicted or pleading guilty to any charges other than a minor traffic violation” are counted as “bad” outcomes (that get pinned on homosexual parents).

Ask yourselves; if a person is innocent until proven guilty, why does merely getting arrested count as a “bad” outcome? Then ask yourselves; who is more likely to be falsely arrested, a white heterosexual man in a business suit, or a black teen wearing a hoodie?

And consider how it happens, that people plead guilty, and/or are convicted of misdemeanors related to alleged illegal marijuana possession, or related to any alleged misdemeanor.  If you are a teen from a wealthy family, your attorneys will either get your case dismissed, or get you the very minimum conviction and sentencing, and then they will, for a fee, help you to expunge the conviction from your record. But, if you are a teen from a poor family, the court will not care about you, you may or may not be assigned competent representation, and a judge, to get rid of your matter, might accept a plea bargain, without bothering to tell you that a competent attorney handling your case would get you off the charges.

Regnerus assigns to various levels of “Educational attainment” labels of  ”good” and “bad” child outcomes, even though he does note that money impacts educational opportunities. Face it; if a Romney son is accepted to Harvard, he’s going to Harvard. If the child of an unemployed welfare recipient gets into Harvard, but does not have adequate scholarship money, that child is not going to Harvard. Nonetheless, Regnerus and NOM are pinning lesser “educational attainments” on gay parents.

Note; the differences between children of heterosexual and gay parents that Regnerus is crowing over, are allegedly “statistically significant,” but he is using them to smear all gay parents. Just because he found negative differences for some children of gay parents, does not mean that all — or even anything close to a majority — of children of gay parents had “bad” outcomes.

Change the lens through which all the data in the NOM-Regnerus study are viewed, so that what gets compared is wealth and income level, and absolutely, you will see that the wealthier the parents, the better the statistical outcomes for the children, and the poorer the parents, the worse the statistical outcomes for their children. Yet we don’t hear Regnerus saying that his study showed that children of rich parents have better outcomes than do children of poor parents, no matter the parents’ sexual orientation.  What we do hear Regnerus saying, is that previous studies of gay parents focused mainly on affluent gay-headed families, and that because his study included far more gay parents of modest to poor means, his study gives a better picture of what gay parents really mean in terms of child outcomes. Again, one must assume he is outright lying and he knows it; money is far greater a determiner of child outcomes than is a parent’s sexual orientation.

The point is already established beyond any doubt, yet I’ll provide one more example. For the survey subjects to have been with a gay parent on public assistance is counted as a negative, and, for those children now as adults to be on public assistance also is counted as a “bad” outcome. Yet, with the unemployment picture in the wake of the worldwide financial crisis often meaning that for every job opening, there are five job seekers, why is being on public assistance counted as a “bad” outcome to be pinned on homosexual parents? It is urgently important to note, that a young adult unemployed — though with wealthy parents — would not be as likely to go on public assistance as an unemployed young adult with poor parents. Yet, Regnerus and NOM are telling the voting public that gay parents  are more likely to produce children who go on public assistance. In his written study, Regnerus suggests that homosexual parents will produce more public-assistance dependent children — perfect for Republicans to use as a political weapon against homosexuals.

I’m going to take that a step further. The study found far more children of a lesbian parent than of a gay male parent. Here is what Republican policies do; 1) they do not provide equal pay for equal work for women; 2) they do not provide anti-discrimination job protections for lesbians, or gays; 3) they do not provide the tax advantages for gay parents raising children; the extra money the government requires from the lesbian parents, is available for heterosexual parents to spend on their children, towards “good” outcomes.

So the Republicans have the deck stacked against the lesbian parents judged to be “bad” parents through this survey, but the Republican NOM operative Robert George and his anti-gay shill Mark Regnerus are pinning the accountability for financial hardship on lesbian mothers instead of on Republican economic policies, where the blame belongs.

Put the Blame Where the Blame Really Belongs

There should be no discussion about the “results” of the NOM-Regnerus study that does not insist on acknowledging that the study above all is Republican party propaganda being used in an election year to pin the blame for Republican-led devastation of the middle classes fraudulently onto homosexual parents.

Emphasis must be placed on the fact that NOM funded this study for Republican advantage in an election year, and that NOM and Regnerus are demonizing gay parents with no regard for how the additional stigmatization inflicts harm on innocent gay people and the children they are raising.

Regnerus must not be let off the hook for his despicable collaboration with greedy malicious Republican bigots intentionally inflicting harm on innocent people, to gain additional political advantages for the 1%, while being paid handsomely thanks to the Republican operative Robert George.

When Regnerus has access to a mass audience, he dances the dance that NOM’s Robert George, Mitt Romney and the Koch brothers want him to be dancing. For example, consider this ABC TV interview, where Regnerus directly states that children of gay parents have significantly worse outcomes than children of heterosexual married parents. Unlike in his written study, where one finds nuances, and admission that he can not claim causation between homosexual parents and the perceived “bad” outcomes, for the mass TV audience, the message he delivers boils down to “Homos hurt children.”

Jerry Falwell’s and Matt Barber’s anti-gay Liberty University is a Republican-NOM political stronghold. Romney recently addressed the graduating class, telling them he shares their “values,” even though NOM’s William Duncan told a Liberty symposium that homosexuals are not human. In April, 2012, Matt Barber and other Liberty U. officials participated in Calvary Assembly’s “The Awakening; Turning Voices into Votes.” Barber’s segment — held in the “Sanctuary” — was titled “The LGBTQ (QIAAP) Agenda: Winning the Battle and Messaging the Masses.”

That is what Regnerus is doing when he says on ABC TV that homosexuals hurt children; he is “messaging the masses,” for the Koch brothers, Mitt Romney and NOM.

New York City– based novelist and freelance writer Scott Rose’s LGBT– interest by– line has appeared on Advocate .com, PoliticusUSA .com, The New York Blade, Queerty .com, Girlfriends and in numerous additional venues. Among his other interests are the arts, boating and yachting, wine and food, travel, poker and dogs. His “Mr. David Cooper’s Happy Suicide” is about a New York City advertising executive assigned to a condom account.

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Dr. Scout Proposes to Liz Margolies at the White House

From Feministing:

By Jos
June 19, 2012

This past weekend, the White House held an LGBT Pride reception. Dr. Scout, who is the director of Network for LGBT Health Equity at The Fenway Institute and is transgender, had been planning for this party for a year. In the middle of Cross Hall, in front of the US Marine Band, Scout did this (skip to 1:55 for the goods):

The video’s hard to hear, but here’s Scout’s prepared proposal:

Because the last three and a half years, you have been an amazing adventure. Because you try harder than anyone in the world. Because while I’m a little scared to spend the rest of my life with you, because you’re so damn fierce, I’m also amazingly excited about the possibility.

This is, first and foremost, a personal moment between Scout and Liz. An incredibly human personal moment, since Liz Margolies, who is executive director of the National LGBT Cancer Network, is ambivalent about the institution of marriage and actually had to give the proposal a couple seconds of thought! Scout told me:

I was scared witless even before the event, but then when she started backing away I thought, “Oh no! We agreed remember, you’re going to say yes. Remember, yes!”

And she did!

Complete article at:

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HRC, Sebelius unveil report on medical facilities

From The Washington Blade:

By Chris Johnson
June 19, 2012

Human Rights Campaign President Chad Griffin and Secretary of Health & Human Services Kathleen Sebelius unveiled HRC’s annual report evaluating the LGBT friendliness of medical facilities throughout the country at a media appearance Tuesday.

The two appeared together at a news conference at Howard University Medical Center — a facility that received a perfect score in the new report — to talk about the findings in HRC’s 2012 Healthcare Equality Index, which is the fifth such report from the organization.

Griffin said during the news conference that medical facilities shouldn’t deny a patient the ability to see a loved one — whether it’s a same-sex or opposite-sex partner — while visiting a hospital.

“At no time are we more vulnerable than when we’re lying on an emergency room gurney or in a hospital bed,” Griffin said. “It’s a scary time; not a time to be alone, and we desperately need our loved one by our side. And of course, that’s exactly where they want to be, not sitting in a waiting room feeling scared or helpless, or even worse, in a car racing home to find legal papers that prove our relationships while critical medical decisions are being made without us.”

Sebelius noted the Obama administration’s work on improving LGBT health, mentioning accomplishments such as the hospital visitation memorandum and a move to bar insurers from discriminating on the basis of LGBT status.

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Home foreclosures drive Americans to suicide?

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America Could Have Dropped Big Oil Decades Ago — What Happened?

From Alternet:–_what_happened/

Renewables are still just scraping by, while we’re beholden to dirty fossil fuels. An important history lesson explains why.

By Aaron Skirboll
June 19, 2012

This story is not new. Today, solar energy is picking up momentum. But despite the current numbers and the recent raves, the solar saga, and that of renewable energy as a whole, has been going on for decades. It is a history of false starts and stutter steps.

First, the good news. According to the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), 2011 showed record-breaking numbers for U.S. solar installations. The industry’s best year ever saw demand rise by 109 percent over the previous year. With tremendous incentives and benefits for homeowners, and as prices continue to decline, the future looks bright for this alternative energy source.

However a quick glance to the past throws harsh light on the fact that we’ve been at this precipice before. In 1978, the White House Council on Environmental Quality issued this glowing statement: “Our conclusion is that with a strong national commitment to accelerated solar development and use, it should be possible to derive a quarter of U.S. energy from solar by the year 2000. For the year 2020 and beyond, it is now possible to speak hopefully, and unblushingly, of the United States becoming a solar society.”

The key words here being “strong national commitment,” because just as timber, coal, oil, gas, and nuclear received enormously strong federal support, solar needs the same kind of government backing, which as of yet, the sector has not seen. The statement should instead read, We could become a solar society, if only we wanted to become a solar society.

The process of generating electricity directly from sunlight, known as photovoltaic (PV) effect was first observed in Paris by 19-year-old Alexandre Edmund Becquerel in 1839. Albert Einstein won his only Noble Prize for his discovery of the law of photoelectric effect, which was an integral part of future photovoltaic technology. After groundbreaking PV research at Bell Labs in the1950s, it was finally in the ’70s, when a combination of American spirit and ingenuity met simple necessity to bring modern solar technologies to the forefront as a power source. The trigger was the Arab Oil Embargo of 1973 and 1974. Out of this crisis, came the Energy Reorganization Act of 1974, and then formation of Energy Research and Development Administration, (ERDA), which would in later years become the Department of Energy. The goal of ERDA, which had an initial budget of $4.3 billion, was to bring together all the efforts devoted to energy research and development, including solar, under one umbrella. Or in the law’s wording to use “all energy sources to meet the needs of present and future generations… to make the nation self-sufficient in energy.”

Despite the initiatives, high oil prices and fuel shortages continued to plague the United States throughout the ’70s.

Continue reading at:–_what_happened/

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Dimon in the Rough: How Wall Street Aims to Keep U.S. Regulators Out of Its Global Betting Parlor

From Robert Reich:

By Robert Reich
Tuesday, June 19, 2012

The Commodity Futures Trading Commission, the main regular of derivatives (bets on bets), wants to extend Dodd-Frank regulations to the foreign branches and subsidiaries of Wall Street banks.

Horror of horrors, say the banks.

“If JPMorgan overseas operates under different rules than our foreign competitors,” warned Jamie Dimon, chair and CEO of JP Morgan, Wall Street would lose financial business to the banks of nations with fewer regulations, allowing “Deutsche Bank to make the better deal.”

This is the same Jamie Dimon who chose London as the place to make highly-risky derivatives trades that have lost the firm upwards of $2 billion so far – and could leave American taxpayers holding the bag if JPMorgan’s exposure to tottering European banks gets much worse.

Dimon’s foreign affair is itself proof that unless the overseas operations of Wall Street banks are covered by U.S. regulations, giant banks like JPMorgan will just move more of their betting abroad – hiding their wildly-risky bets overseas so U.S. regulators can’t control them. Even now no one knows how badly JPMorgan or any other Wall Street bank will be shaken if major banks in Spain or elsewhere in Europe go down.

Call it the Dimon loophole.

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Trouble brewing at the San Onofre nuclear power plant in CA

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Greece as Victim

From The New York Times:

By Paul Krugman
Published: June 17, 2012

Ever since Greece hit the skids, we’ve heard a lot about what’s wrong with everything Greek. Some of the accusations are true, some are false — but all of them are beside the point. Yes, there are big failings in Greece’s economy, its politics and no doubt its society. But those failings aren’t what caused the crisis that is tearing Greece apart, and threatens to spread across Europe.

No, the origins of this disaster lie farther north, in Brussels, Frankfurt and Berlin, where officials created a deeply — perhaps fatally — flawed monetary system, then compounded the problems of that system by substituting moralizing for analysis. And the solution to the crisis, if there is one, will have to come from the same places.

So, about those Greek failings: Greece does indeed have a lot of corruption and a lot of tax evasion, and the Greek government has had a habit of living beyond its means. Beyond that, Greek labor productivity is low by European standards — about 25 percent below the European Union average. It’s worth noting, however, that labor productivity in, say, Mississippi is similarly low by American standards — and by about the same margin.

On the other hand, many things you hear about Greece just aren’t true. The Greeks aren’t lazy — on the contrary, they work longer hours than almost anyone else in Europe, and much longer hours than the Germans in particular. Nor does Greece have a runaway welfare state, as conservatives like to claim; social expenditure as a percentage of G.D.P., the standard measure of the size of the welfare state, is substantially lower in Greece than in, say, Sweden or Germany, countries that have so far weathered the European crisis pretty well.

So how did Greece get into so much trouble? Blame the euro.

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The Christian Nation Fiction, Then and Now

From The Council For Secular Humanism:

Once and for All, Is America a Christian Nation?

Susan Jacoby
Summer 2012

When I was growing up in the fifties and sixties, almost no one in politics or everyday life went around proclaiming, “I am a Christian.” If indeed you were a Christian—that is, someone who considers Jesus Christ the Messiah—you identified yourself as a Lutheran, a Methodist, a Baptist, a Catholic, and so on in excelsis in order to let others know where you stood in the vast American religious landscape.

Calling oneself a Christian today, by contrast, has a special, politicized meaning. For most people in public life, this self-identification suggests a particular form of conservative Christianity, a brand of religion that seeks not only to proselytize but to impose its values on others through the machinery of the state. The huge exception to this rule is President Barack Obama, who has been forced by the birther-paranoids to advertise his credentials as a Christian in order to refute the lie that he is a “secret Muslim.”

Once upon a time (until around 1980, actually), the appellation “Christian” used to mean “right-wing Protestant,” as a consequence of the historic animosity between many forms of American Protestantism and the Roman Catholic Church. That is no longer true, as demonstrated by GOP primary hopefuls Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich, the darlings of Protestant fundamentalists, although they personify the cliché “more Catholic than the pope.” (In Gingrich’s case, the relevant pontiffs would be certain medieval and Renaissance vicars of Christ who produced numerous children through extra-pontifical liaisons.) Santorum is in fact a Catholic fundamentalist—unlike the majority of American Catholics, who do not accept either the notion of papal infallibility or the Vatican line on sexual behavior. Liberal Catholics, well aware of the political meaning of Christian in American politics, generally call themselves plain old “Catholics.”

Thus, when Santorum and Gingrich used their dog whistles throughout the Republican primaries to imply that Obama is not the Christian he claims to be, what they really meant is that he is not their kind of Christian. It has also become standard for politicians to offer a nod to “our Judeo-Christian heritage” in an effort to display theocratic inclusiveness. The slippery Gingrich never stumbled over this phrase, but Santorum often did, dragging Judeo out to four syllables so that it came out “Jew-day-ee-oh.” It is clear that this ecumenical platitude was not a part of the sanctimonious Santorum’s upbringing.

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Julian Assange stand-off at the Ecuadorian Embassy begins

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Eisenhower’s Warning Ignored, Presidential Power Has Risen to Sinister Level

From Truth Dig:

By Bill Boyarsky
Posted on Jun 20, 2012

By following a warlike path—and getting a free pass from too many progressives—President Barack Obama is making sure that foreign policy will remain in the hands of the military-industrial complex.

Hardly discussed in the presidential campaign is how Obama personally picks targets on a kill list, hugely has increased drone attacks, and wages cyberwarfare against Iran. If these actions had occurred under Bush-Cheney, liberals would have taken to the streets. Instead, the practices are accepted as facts of life, barely worth comment.

The truth is that in the last half century, this kind of presidential power, backed by the military and the arms industry, has been enshrined as permanent policy. And it will continue no matter who wins in November or in future elections. Whoever is in charge, the military, the intelligence spooks and the war industries always seem to co-opt the president.

Jim Newton, an editor at large and a columnist for the Los Angeles Times, takes us back to a time when a president wasn’t so easily conned. His excellent book “Eisenhower: The White House Years” should be a handbook for today’s policymakers, who are seduced by the tough talk, intricate communications devices and utter confidence of people who are often wrong.

For me and many others of a certain age, it’s hard to say anything pleasant about the time when Dwight David Eisenhower was president, from 1953 to 1961. Those bland and repressive Cold War years, the time of the Organization Man, were intolerable to anyone who harbored even a bit of rebellion.

Newton’s view of Eisenhower himself is generally more positive. “He was a good man, one of integrity and decency. But he was not always right. He was too enamored of covert action, and he did not fully appreciate the moral imperatives of civil rights, where his belief in measured progress, the middle way, impeded his sympathy for those who demanded their constitutional rights immediately.”

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During anti-Muslim hearing, Dem calls for ‘hearing on the radicalization of Christians’

From Raw Story:

By David Edwards
Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Texas Congressman Al Green (D) says he wouldn’t mind Rep. Peter King (R-NY) repeatedly calling hearings on “radical Islam” if he would also conduct a “hearing on the radicalization of Christians.”

During a Wednesday House Homeland Security Committee hearing on “The Radicalization of Muslim-Americans,” Green wondered why the chairman had only focused on one religion.

“If you agree that radicalization exists within all religions to some extent, would you kindly extend a hand into the air,” Green, who is the grandson of a Christian minister, asked the witnesses testifying before the committee. He noted that “all the hands are raised.”

“I don’t think that most people oppose hearings on radicalization,” the congressman explained. “I do not, not — N-O-T — oppose hearings on radicalization. I do oppose hearings that don’t focus on the entirety of radicalization. And if you agree that we have Christians, as has been mentioned by more than one member, Christians who become radicalized, they become part of Islam and they become radicalized as is being said, why not have a hearing on the radicalization of Christians?”

He added: “I do think that it is a problem of perception. People who see the hearings and never hear about the hearing on the radicalization of Christianity have to ask themselves, ‘Why is this missing?’ Why don’t we go to the next step and ask, how is that a blue-eyed, blonde-haired, white female in the United States of America can become radicalized to the point of wanting to do harm to this country? We don’t have that type of hearing. That’s the problem.”

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Message from the Street in Mexico: ‘The G20 is Illegitimate!’

From Common Dreams:

by Lacy MacAuley
Published on Wednesday, June 20, 2012 by Common Dreams

Today Mexican President Felipe Calderon, speaking in a press conference to conclude the G20 summit in Cabo, Mexico, reinforced why so many people oppose the G20’s neoliberalism, austerity, and corporate elitism. Austerity measures, he said, are like “bullets” that need to be “reloaded” again and again. His metaphor was appropriate. G20 policies promote systems that lead to suffering, destruction of communities, and destruction of the environment. These policies are like bullets, killing the people of the world. Here in La Paz, Mexico, a two-hour drive north along the coastline from Cabo, Mexico, the people held their own summit, as the G20 leaders and rich corporate elite met inside a militarized security barrier, in posh hotel rooms with shimmering seaside vistas. It was impossible for protesters to get closer to the official summit, though some tried to find a bus driver willing to brave the checkpoints and the security guards with automatic guns slung over their shoulders. Locals were told that no one could enter Cabo unless they were a documented resident.

Activists with the Peoples Summit, Cumbre de los Pueblos, went on a colorful march down the main tourist strip in La Paz on the evening before the official G20 summit was slated to begin. Several hundred strong, the march poured into the main plaza of the town, La Kioska, and held a rally and a rock concert. The Peoples Summit also contained two and a half days of energetic panel discussions and workshops on topics like capital flows, offshore tax havens, and climate change and adaptation.

The most enthusiastic discussions, though, were less reform-oriented – feminism, the financialization of nature, mining, workers’ struggles, corporate tourism development – discussions on creating our own solutions outside the security barrier in Cabo. Many summit participants felt that the hopes of the people cannot be expressed through the dry and corrupted policies of the G20.

Much of this spirit of change is expressed in the Statement of the Peoples Summit Against G20, a document that was put out by the summit participants. It was also felt through the words of the participants.

“We need system change, not reform,” said Romulo Torres, Peru, with the network LATINDADD. “If a new system doesn’t begin, none of the other changes will be important.”

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