Religious/Right Wing Prejudice Interferring with the Administrative Duties of Judges and other Civic Officials

I can’t begin to tell you how absolutely disgusted I am with that right wing Republican Judge in Oklahoma.

Judge Bill Graves is a first class right wing jerk who should be removed from the bench without retirement benefits or severance pay.

He violates every judicial ethic requirement that exists.

The bench requires Judges to not only sit in judgement but to impartially administer such legal processes as name changes.

If I go before a Judge with the request to change my name to say “Rainbow Starchild” and the Judge thinks that is a silly hippie name and I am frivolous for changing my name to that he or she may ask me if I am certain I wish to do this.  But that Judge can not say, “I hate hippies and therefore am not going to legally change your name to some hippie fantasy name.”

I actually thought transsexual and transgender people’s fights for the right to change our names ended some thirty years ago.  It seems totally anachronistic to have to refight these battles, because a bunch of Christo-Fascist Republican bigots have decided transsexual and transgender people are the new battle front in the right wing war on LGBT/T people.

Now there are some HBS assholes out there who would actually side with this judge.  These pathological bigots think my taking a human rights/civil rights stand on the rights of all people means I’m not really transsexual.  This is funny since I’m forty years post-op, but their bigotry trummps their ability to think clearly.

If all one can see is identity and identity group solidarity then we wind up totally lacking in empathy for anyone outside our particular group.

It doesn’t matter what that group is.

We see it in the Mitt Romney and his friend among the Neo-Nazis who gathered last week in an orgy of racism and bigotry.  We also see the same sort of bigotry among the Jennifer Ushers and other highly dubious sisters of transsexual purity.

People have a right to change their names in this country.  Various states have different papers and procedures but in so far as I know every state has a procedure for changing one’s name legally.

There are certain names generally names of rich or famous people which are off limits as it is presumed that changing ones name to one of those names could be an attempt to confuse and capitalize on the other person’s fame or access to wealth.

Some states notably California used to permit a person to have two different names on their driver’s license/state ID card.  I know this because of actor friends who had to use different professional last names due to their name already being in use by another actor.

This brings us back to legally changing one’s name.

While the procedure may vary it generally includes filing of paper work and publicly posting a legal notice of intent which informs credit bureaus and creditors of your intent to legally change your name.

The court appearance is generally pro forma with no one objecting and with the Judge simply signing and stamping a seal on the petition.

Then you have to do all the rest of the leg work of informing all who are relevant including the official issuer of identification i.e. driver’s license/state ID of your name change.

This isn’t supposed to be a matter where a Judge gets to interject his or her opinion, as the Judge is acting as an agent of the court, and is merely reviewing the papers and any claims  as to why the petitioner should not be issued a change of name.

This is especially not an area where a Judge should be allowed to interject his religious opinion or base his refusal on religion.

A civil court is a secular institution and Judge Bill Graves is sitting on the bench of a circuit court.  He is not Torquemada and his court room is not an instrument of any church.  He is not an Imam and we do not practice Sharia in the United States, be that Sharia the Muslim version or the radical right wing Christian version.

If Judge Graves is unwilling to accord people their Constitutionally  guaranteed equal rights then he should step down or face censure.

We are a secular society where people are not required to live under the mythology of any religion.

President Barack Obama Letterman Interview

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Senate Republicans Spit on Veterans: Veteran benefits bill heads to vote as Democrats plead for end to GOP blocks

Perhaps the rich elite effete  chicken hawks like Mitt and the rest of the draft dodging Republicans would be more likely to support Veterans is some of their party actually served in the military.

From The Guardian UK:

Bill that would provide $1bn to help veterans who are returning home has been repeatedly sidetracked by Senate Republicans

in New York, Wednesday 19 September 2012

Veterans groups and Democrats are urging Republican senators to put political bickering aside and stop blocking a bill which would help offset high unemployment rates among veterans.

Senators were due to vote on Wednesday on the bill which would cost $1bn over five years to help veterans find employment in public work projects and as police officers and firefighters. It gives priority to the newest generation of veterans, post-9/11, whose employment prospects are almost three percentage points below the national average.

Minutes before the vote, Patty Murray, the Democratic senator who introduced the bill, gave an impassioned speech from the floor, asking for unity to pass the bill which she said “should not be killed by procedural games”.

She said “I urge my colleagues to join with us in waiving this point of order. To join with us in telling our veterans that we are not done investing in their care and benefits – not by a long shot.”

She said that a vote for the point of order proposed by the Republicans sent a message to veterans telling them: “We have spent enough on our veterans.” It would have a long-lasting impact, she said, not only to kill their ability to pass the bill but would also affect other veteran bills to improve mental health care access and to allow those who had lost the ability to have children access to fertility services.

She added: “Join with us in moving forward with a bill that is paid for, that won’t add to our deficit, and that shouldn’t be killed by procedural games.Join with us in putting veterans above political obstruction, and back to work.”

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Citing God and science, Oklahoma judge refuses transgender name changes

There is no god.

From LGBTQ Nation:

Monday, September 17, 2012

An Oklahoma judge has repeatedly denied transgender women their petitions for a name change to reflect their female identity, ruling that the requests were made for a fraudulent purpose.

In two separate cases, Oklahoma County District Court Judge Bill Graves has denied the name change request, citing science, DNA, and God’s own desire “for them to stay male,” reported The Oklahoman.

In the most recent case on August 30, Graves denied a request by James Dean Ingram, 29, to change her name to Angela Renee Ingram, and reportedly told Ingram that “you can’t change what God gave you.”

Last year, Graves told 62-year-old Steven Charles Harvey — who was seeking to legally change to Christie Ann Harvey — that a person cannot really change his or her sex because the person’s DNA stays the same, and because “God created man in his own image.”

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on the “disclosure” myth and the cissexist imagination

Looks like another blog for me to keep an eye on.  Maybe y’all should check it out too…

From Lefty Girl:

Lefty Girl
September 18, 2012

This Sunday, Erica and I posted our joint response to some unfortunate comments made by trans man porn star Buck Angel during an interview with Salon, in which he publicly bought into society’s trans-misogynistic victim-blaming narrative that trans women are being “disrespectful” if they do not disclose trans status in romantic/sexual relations with their partner. The following would be the most pertinent quote:

I’m a huge advocate for disclosure, because I believe a lot of people get themselves in bad situations because they do not disclose. For example, trans women who might hook up with a cis-gendered guy and then he goes home with her and finds out she has a penis and flips out and beats her up or kills her. That’s horrible, and I really believe by not disclosing it’s very disrespectful to the other person because they might not be into it and it makes them feel very freaked out about themselves.

Here I would like to elaborate on our previous response, more narrowly focusing on the issue of disclosure and drawing out more fully the implications of the above line of thinking.

In the initial posting, we touched on the case of Gwen Araujo, a trans woman of color who was tortured and then murdered by strangulation in Newark, California in October 2002 by four men, at least two of whom she had previously engaged in sexual relations.

According to the standard narrative of how events unfolded, it was during a party held at a private residence that these men began asking questions about Gwen’s status. One of them then went into the bathroom with Gwen and forced her to reveal her genitals against her will, confirming her trans status. It was this confirmation that preceded brutal violence in which Gwen was beaten on the head with a soup can and had a skillet smashed across her face. The setting only becomes more gruesome when we consider that much of the violence apparently occurred in front of party attendees.

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Why the Uproar Over Naomi Wolf’s Vagina?

From In These Times:

We need to stop castigating “bad” feminists for everything they do–even when they write silly books

BY Sady Doyle
September 12, 2012

Naomi Wolf’s new book is almost too boring to review. Despite all the coverage, and the mini-controversy it’s drummed up, Vagina: A New Biography has few thrills to offer outside of the look you get from a Barnes & Noble employee when you buy the thing. The only real story of Vagina is its role in Wolf’s ongoing expulsion from feminism.

But let’s cover the book first. Half of Vagina is comprised of sloppily recycled medical information that wouldn’t surprise a sixth-grade health class. Wolf, for example, is stunned to learn that nerves–even the pelvic nerve! Where orgasms come from!–are connected to the brain. Speaking of the brain: Wolf is also amazed, at length, by the fact that there are chemicals up there, and that those chemicals can make you have feelings.

Which leads us directly into the other half of Vagina: the daring assertion that getting laid makes you happy. Not that you should ever use such coarse terms around Naomi, who is apparently so linguistically and metaphorically refined that when a friend used the word “cuntini” to describe vulva-shaped pasta (it’s a long story) and served her some innuendo-laden salmon fillet, her “heart contracted” to such an extent that she “could not type a word of the book–not even research notes–for six months.” Wolf prefers florid, purple, highly euphemistic accounts of how unlocking the “Jade Gate,” via the “Goddess Array,” can lead to a “sense of deep emotional union, of postcoital creative euphoria, of joy with one’s self and with one’s lover, of confidence and volubility and the sense that all [is] well in some existential way.”

All of which means: Getting laid makes you happy. And yet it takes about 333 pages, in hardcover, for Wolf to spit that out. To be fair, Wolf also advances the breathtakingly original hypothesis that being happy can sometimes get you laid, as set forth in this experiment on page 34: “If you have a lover or husband who is willing… wait for a moment until he or she has said something really reassuring and admiring of you as a woman; then let him or her touch your nipple.” The nipple, Wolf argues, will be more responsive than it would be if your lover had, say, just uttered the word “cuntini.”

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Did NOM Chairman Joke It ‘May Be A Good Thing’ If Iran Drops Nuclear Bomb On New York?

From The New Civil Rights Movement:

by David Badash
on September 18, 2012

Did John Eastman, the Chairman of NOM, the National Organization For Marriage, say, “it may be a good thing” if Iran drops a nuclear bomb on New York? Eastman’s comments were made last month in front of an audience of Tea Party groups in California. In this video, below, Eastman clearly can be heard saying:

“If Iran develops a nuclear weapon, as we think they’re about to, with an intercontinental ballistic missile that they’ve picked up from Russia, and they aim it at New York, and it takes out the entire eastern corner grid…”

Then, immediately seemingly responding to an audience member, Eastman, laughing, says, “that may be a good thing.”

The audience laughed.

The audience member’s comments are inaudible, so it’s unclear what “may be a good thing.” Perhaps the audience member talked about Reagan’s “Star Wars” defense system?

Dr. Eastman is welcome to contact us to “fill in” what the audience member said that elicited his ”that may be a good thing” comment.

Eastman spoke to a group of California Tea Party members, and earlier in the video can be heard  comparing President Obama‘s tenure — and especially Obamacare — to Japan Emperor Hirohito’s bombing of Pearl Harbor. “I fear all we have accomplished is awakened a sleeping giant,” Eastman says, wrongly quoting Hirohito (the mis-quote comes from Japanese naval admiral Isoroku Yamamoto.)

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Rapture Bunny Tim LaHaye: If America Doesn’t Bless Israel, ‘We’re Going to Incur the Curse of God’

Why can’t we be rude to the totally delusional Rapture Bunnies and just label them as totally insane?

From Right Wing Watch:

by Kyle Mantyla
on Tue, 09/18/2012

End Times enthusiast and Rapture Bunny Tim LaHaye has recorded a Christian voter mobilization video for his wife Beverly’s organization, Concerned Women for America, in which he declares the “liberal secularists” control the media, education, and the government and they “are not our friend; in fact I don’t think they’re friends of America” because they want to “destroy the culture.”

But LaHaye’s primary concern is America’s relationship with Israel, as he claims that America has only been blessed by God “because we have been better to the Jew and Israel than any nation in the history of the world” and warns that “if we change that …  then we’re going to incur the curse of God”:

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Voter ID laws and roll purges are the real defrauding of US democracy

From The Guardian UK:

Americans instinctively back fairness, which is why ‘voter fraud’ has made a strong Republican rallying cry. But it’s a con, Tuesday 18 September 2012

There are three inducements of support that Americans are powerless against: the promise of whiter teeth, the suggestion of no-diet weight loss and the cause of justice.

Political campaigns tend to couch their appeals in terms of the last, though parts of the Romney-Ryan economic pitch could be described as the second. In today’s truly divisive debates, both parties have usually engineered a rhetorical claim to the side of fairness: gay rights advocates propelled themselves forward when they began to argue for “marriage equality” against the outdated complaint of “special rights”.

Americans rankle at unearned privileges as much as they rally, in the main, to equality. Hence the widespread, enthusiastic support of voter ID laws (they poll with about 75% in favor) makes total sense if you see the laws exactly the way their authors and promoters talk about them – as barriers to voter fraud. After all, voter fraud is when criminals unfairly manipulate voting, the most basic expression of fairness available in a democracy.

Asking Americans if they support measures against voter fraud is like asking if they support measures against adults suiting up for Little League baseball. The problem is that there are probably more cheaters in baseball than voting: a recent analysis found cases of alleged voter fraud running about one for every 16,000 voters. What’s more, voter ID laws work in such a way that a no-adults-in-Little-League equivalent would ban not just grownups from playing, but also anyone who looked adult-ish and didn’t show up for practice with documentary evidence of minor status.

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Mitt Romney’s 47 Percent Problem

From Flager Live:

September 18, 2012

One of the many challenges of John McCain’s campaign four years ago, besides the past-due expiration date on the candidate himself, was Sarah Palin’s IED of a mouth. If the campaign wasn’t finished before her nomination, she doomed it. The biggest challenge for Mitt Romney, among too many to flip-flop through, is Mitt Romney’s mouth: what were IEDs in the McCain campaign are now suicide bombings in Romney’s, with Romney the Groundhog-Day bomber: he self-destructs, and comes back for more. Maybe Mormons have more in common with Buddhist notions of reincarnation than we knew.

The post-truth compulsions of the Romney campaign are making us nostalgic for Richard Nixon. But three howlers stand out (so far) from that video of Romney’s talk at a post-convention fund-raiser Mother Jones acquired (see below): his alleged joke about wishing he was Latino, his rejection of the two-state solution between Israel and Palestine, which would be an astounding reversal of 35 years of American aims and policy going back to the Camp David accords of 1978, and of course this statement, the most damaging at home, which must have lacked the usual warning savvier political candidates tend to respect (“don’t try this at home”):

There are 47 percent of the people who will vote for the president no matter what. All right, there are 47 percent who are with him, who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe the government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you-name-it. That that’s an entitlement. And the government should give it to them. And they will vote for this president no matter what…These are people who pay no income tax…[M]y job is is not to worry about those people. I’ll never convince them they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives.

Romney’s backtracking in a rapid-deployment news conference Monday evening was clever but convincing only to the extent that it confirmed his pirouetting skills and the vacuum at his political inner-core: he’ll fill it with whatever is necessary to say, to win, in any given moment. He smoothed the edges of his abrasive statements at the fund-raiser, but he did not retreat from the fundamental points, and dug his hole deeper in some regards, especially when he cast the election in purely self-serving mathematical terms, when he described his aims at no more than winning 50.1 percent. That’s not the best way to portray oneself as a statesman-like leader who recognizes the limits of his appeal but nevertheless aims to represent the entire nation.

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Romney suffers fresh blow in second day of fallout from leaked video

From The Guardian UK:

Crude analysis of Israel-Palestinian conflict comes the day after damaging ‘47%’ remarks from secretly recorded vi

in Washington, Tuesday 18 September 2012

Mitt Romney refused to apologise on Tuesday for describing 47% of Americans as government-dependent “victims” in a covertly recorded video that has thrown his presidential campaign into disarray.

In an attempt to save his campaign from ruin, Romney went on the Republican-friendly Fox News network just as the rightwing Drudge Report published excerpts from a 1998 tape showing Barack Obama favouring “redistribution”.

The apparently co-ordinated attempt to stem the crisis from the video, published on the Mother Jones website, followed a stumbling press conference on Monday night in which Romney tried to defend comments made at a fundraiser in Florida.

A second clip was released on Tuesday in which Romney is heard setting out his views on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, claiming the Palestinians are not interested in peace.

Asked on Fox News if he had “kissed half the electorate goodbye” with the comments, Romney said: “I’m talking about the perspective of voters who I’m not likely to get to support me. Those who are dependent on government, and those who think government’s job is to redistribute … I’m not going to get them.”

He acknowledged that some people do not pay income tax – the figure is actually 46% – for good reason: “There are a number of retirees, members of the military who aren’t paying taxes and that’s as it should be.

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Hartmann Vs. Selig – Trickle-down economics only creates a nation of peons

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After 225 Years, It’s Time to Respect Constitutional Rights of Workers

From Op Ed News:

By 9/17/2012

When the United States occupied Japan after World War II, General Douglas MacArthur and his aides worked with Japanese citizens to write a Constitution that would assure Hideki Tojo’s militarized autocracy was replaced with democracy. Fully aware that workers would need to have a voice in the new Japan, they included language that explicitly recognized that: “The right of workers to organize and to bargain and act collectively is guaranteed.”

When the United States occupied Germany after World War II, General Dwight David Eisenhower and his aides worked with German citizens to write a Constitution that would assure that Adolf Hitler’s fascism was replaced with democracy. Recognizing that workers would need to have a voice in the new Germany, they included a provision that explicitly declared: “The right to form associations to safeguard and improve working and economic conditions shall be guaranteed to every individual and to every occupation or profession. Agreements that restrict or seek to impair this right shall be null and void; measures directed to this end shall be unlawful.”

When former First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt chaired the International Commission on Human Rights, which drafted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights that would in 1948 be adopted by the United Nation as a global covenant, Roosevelt and the drafters included a guarantee that: “Everyone has the right to form and to join trade unions for the protection of his interests.”

Americans have for generations accepted the basic premise that labor rights are human rights. And when this country has counseled other countries, and the international community, on how to forge a civil and democratic society, we have long recognized that the right to organize a trade union and to have that trade union engage in collective bargaining as an equal partner with corporations and government agencies must be protected.

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A Rare Look at Why The Government Won’t Fight Wall Street

From Rolling Stone:

Matt Taibbi
Sept. 18, 2012

The great mystery story in American politics these days is why, over the course of two presidential administrations (one from each party), there’s been no serious federal criminal investigation of Wall Street during a period of what appears to be epic corruption. People on the outside have speculated and come up with dozens of possible reasons, some plausible, some tending toward the conspiratorial – but there have been very few who’ve come at the issue from the inside.

We get one of those rare inside accounts inThe Payoff: Why Wall Street Always Wins, a new book by Jeff Connaughton, the former aide to Senators Ted Kaufman and Joe Biden. Jeff is well known to reporters like me; during a period when most government officials double-talked or downplayed the Wall Street corruption problem, Jeff was one of the few voices on the Hill who always talked about the subject with appropriate alarm. He shared this quality with his boss Kaufman, the Delaware Senator who took over Biden’s seat and instantly became an irritating (to Wall Street) political force by announcing he wasn’t going to run for re-election. “I later learned from reporters that Wall Street was frustrated that they couldn’t find a way to harness Ted or pull in his reins,” Jeff writes. “There was no obvious way to pressure Ted because he wasn’t running for re-election.”

Kaufman for some time was a go-to guy in the Senate for reform activists and reporters who wanted to find out what was really going on with corruption issues. He was a leader in a number of areas, attempting to push through (often simple) fixes to issues like high-frequency trading (his advocacy here looked prescient after the “flash crash” of 2010), naked short-selling, and, perhaps most importantly, the Too-Big-To-Fail issue. What’s fascinating about Connaughton’s book is that we now get to hear a behind-the-scenes account of who exactly was knocking down simple reform ideas, how they were knocked down, and in some cases we even find out why good ideas were rejected, although some element of mystery certainly remains here.

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Screwed – Citizens United

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Bill McKibben: The 350 Parts Per Million* Solution?

From Fire Dog Lake:

By: Robert Meeropol
Tuesday September 18, 2012

Last Friday evening my wife and I heard Bill McKibben, the founder of*, speak at Amherst College. Bill is probably the leading environmental activist in the country. The 650 people who jammed the original lecture hall, and the 300 more who flooded the video-fed, auxiliary venue, were a testament to his drawing power and the growing unease so many feel about climate change.

Bill did a great job of demonstrating the gravity of the situation by making these points, which he also laid out in a recent article in Rolling Stone Magazine:

  • The only thing the world’s nations could agree upon at the failed climate change conference in Copenhagen in 2009 was that it would become extremely difficult to sustain civilized life if global temperature rose more than 2 degrees Celsius.
  • We’ve already raised global temperature by 1 degree.
  • In order to avoid topping the 2-degree limit we cannot emit more than 565 more gigatons of CO2 into our atmosphere before 2050.
  • Fossil fuel companies already have known reserves of coal, oil and gas that, if burned, would produce 5 times more pollution than the 565 gigaton ceiling.

I’d add to this nightmare scenario that oil and gas companies are doing everything in their power to find new reserves and to bring that fuel to market as quickly as possible.

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Fracking in Suburbia

From Truth Out:

By Andrew Spear and Mike Ludwig
Tuesday, 18 September 2012

The oil and gas boom is known for turning rural neighborhoods upside down as massive drilling rigs arrive, bringing new wealth, industrial development, environmental problems and media controversy with them. Broadview Heights, Ohio, however, isn’t the typical farming community that is so often associated with oil and gas drilling.

Nestled in the southern end of Cleveland’s considerable sprawl, much of Broadview Heights is distinctly suburban, especially Michelle Aini’s neighborhood. Aini lives in bright development with trees so small that they can only be a decade or so old. The relatively new houses on her block are all tall, boxy, strikingly similar and well kept, carrying the trademarks the upper-middle class’s Midwestern American dream.

About 79 gas wells have been drilled in Broadview Heights since 2005, including one well about 600 feet from Aini’s house. Last year a gas leak at the well had Michelle fearing for the safety of her family. Trees hide the well from view.

“The trees are our saving grace right now,” Aini explains in her driveway after sending her six-year-old son off with a babysitter. When the well was fracked and drill rig was in the air, she would later explain, she felt like she was “living in Texas.”

In 2004, the Ohio legislature took the right of local municipalities to regulate the permitting, spacing and location of oil and gas wells. As a result, the gas rush has brought small, conventional fracking operations and wells into neighborhoods.

Under Ohio law at the time the well near her home was drilling, only those living within 500 feet of a well had to be notified about the drilling, Aini said. Her neighbor received a notification letter last summer, but her the Aini and her husband did not.

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