Friday Night Fun and Culture: Blues Edition

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Hate Group Focus On The Family Promotes Dangerous ‘Ex-Trans’ Ministries

From Think Progress

By Zack Ford
on Oct 25, 2012

Focus on the Family’s promotion of ex-gay therapy is nothing new, but this week the anti-LGBT group also started promoting “resources for transgenderism and gender identity disorder.” In addition to citing familiar ex-gay ministries, the links also include efforts to convince transgender people that their gender identities are wrong — the result of “confusion” — and that they should try to conform to their biological sex. For example, the UK ministry Parakaleo aims to help “those seeking to re-establish their God given gender identity and destiny.” Another link highlights an author who claims to “expose and debunk the promises of gender change surgery.” Given the American Psychiatric Association is in the process of declassifying transgender identities as a disorder, Focus seems to be invested in demonizing trans people and denying them affirmation regardless.

Congratulations Allyson: OutServe-SLDN Taps Trans Veteran as Executive Director

Note I have added Out Serve to the Blog Links on the side Bar

From Out Serve:

Jonathan MillsOn 25, Oct 2012

ORLANDO — Activist and veteran Allyson Robinson will be the new executive director of OutServe-SLDN, the newly combined organization announced today as they kicked off their annual conference here.

Robinson, who is transgender, brings significant professional and military experience to her new role. She will push OutServe-SLDN forward with their vision to secure equality for LGBT military personnel and enhance the readiness and effectiveness of our nation’s military.

“I grew up in a military family. My dad is a Vietnam veteran, his father was a veteran of WWII, so in many ways, the Army was our family business,“ Robinson told OutServe Magazine. “So, this feels like coming home for me in a lot of ways.”

Hailing from Scranton, Penn., Robinson is a 1994 graduate of the U.S. Military Academy, where she majored in physics. Her professional military accomplishments include interning at the Los Alamos National Laboratory and commanding Patriot missile units in the United States, Germany and Saudi Arabia. She was also a senior trainer and evaluator for NATO and advisor to the armed forces of Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Qatar.

After resigning her commission in 1999 to pursue a calling in the ministry, Robinson worked in the Azores and central Texas, devoting herself to the issue of systemic poverty. Returning to school, she earned her master’s degree from Baylor University with an emphasis on social justice in 2007.

Watch the video

Prior to accepting her new position, Robinson headed the Human Rights Campaign Workplace Project where she helped corporate human resource departments, emphasizing the value of inclusion and empowerment of LGBT professionals in the workforce. Her efforts also promoted awareness of transgender issues, driving corporate responsibility toward inclusion and equality of transgender people.

Robinson is now charged with the mission of ensuring all LGBT service members and their families have the same rights and privileges as their straight counterparts, as well as continuing to urge the military to embrace and promote the value of a diverse workforce.

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See also Huffington Post:  Allyson Robinson, Transgender Veteran, Named To Helm Advocacy Group For LGBTs In Military

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Lana Wachowski receives the HRC Visibility Award

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R. Clarke Cooper’s Obnoxious ‘Log Cabin’ Endorsement Of Mitt Romney

From The New Civil Rights Movement:

by Scott Rose
on October 25, 2012
Reposted with Permission

On May 9, 2012, President Obama made public his support of same-sex marriage.

In multiple venues, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney subsequently affirmed his opposition to both same-sex marriage and civil unions.

Republicans in Congress voted to reaffirm the so-called Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA).

R. Clarke Cooper, Executive Director of the Log Cabin Republicans, then issued a press release, in which he said this:

“Governor Mitt Romney’s statement in opposition to not just marriage but civil unions jeopardizes his ability to win moderates, women and younger voters, especially as a large majority of Americans favor some form of relationship recognition for their LGBT friends and neighbors. Ultimately, the response of the Republican candidates this election cycle will determine not just endorsements by Log Cabin Republicans, but the votes of millions of Americans who are simply tired of the culture wars.”

Notice: Cooper drew a line in the sand over Romney’s opposition to same-sex civil unions.

And, he did not say that the Log Cabin Republicans’ endorsements “might” be determined by Republican candidates’ responses to Romney’s opposition to same-sex civil unions.

Cooper said that Republican candidates’ responses “will determine” the Log Cabin Republicans’ endorsements.

Having issued that specific warning over opposition to same-sex civil unions, but then having gotten no concession from Romney on civil unions, Cooper and his Log Cabin Republicans went ahead and endorsed Romney anyway.

What this shows, is that Cooper and his Log Cabin Republicans have no LGBT-rights-related leverage of power whatsoever with Mitt Romney.

Romney does not have to do anything LGBT-rights-related for them — not even when they issue a political ultimatum to him and his party — for him and his party to be able to count on their political support.

Mitt Romney has a long history of opposition to same-sex civil unions, so it should not have been any surprise to Cooper when Romney reiterated his opposition this past May.

If Cooper now wants to claim that with his press release, he meant that all other Republican candidates, but not Mitt Romney, would only receive the LCR’s endorsement if they did not oppose same-sex civil unions, that would be an additional sign of political ineptitude on LGBT rights.

If you are specifically a gay-interest political group affiliated with a party, and draw a line in the sand on an issue for your party’s candidates, but not for your party’s presidential candidate, all other candidates’ will laugh at you, because without the party standard bearer on your side of the issue, your drawing of a line in the sand over that issue is utterly meaningless to their campaigns.

The Log Cabin Republicans have comported themselves like Mitt Romney’s lapdogs, not like LGBT rights negotiators.

They made a failed, disingenuous attempt to save their public face — after their craven and cowardly cave-in on civil unions — by alleging to have accomplished something with Romney on ENDA. Their public statements about it are an obvious and ridiculous P.R. ploy that did not accurately reflect the fact that they had accomplished nothing with Mitt Romney on ENDA. Cooper’s self-serving and self-promoting reports of a private discussion with Romney on LGBT anti-discrimination matters are utterly void of specifics. Anything that Romney and Cooper can not say jointly to the public about their alleged common ground on LGBT rights is totally meaningless. Cooper strengthened his business connections to the Romney network while accomplishing nothing for gay rights.

In this context, it is worth recalling that Cooper was part of Bush administration efforts to role back environmental protections put in place by the Clinton administration. Cooper turned an April, 2012 article about Earth Day celebrations in Texas into an opportunity to lavish praise on former first lady Laura Bush and the Republican party. He had the nerve to credit only Republicans for the Endangered Species Act.  Meanwhile in documented reality, the Bush administration, of which Cooper was at times a part, eliminated independent scientific review of endangered-species-related matters, and otherwise gutted the law, as Republicans had been attempting to do for over a decade.

So there is a discernable pattern of Cooper publicly flattering powerful Republican figures while betraying the underlying cause at issue that he is pretending to champion.

Cooper has endorsed Romney for personal advancement, not for the advancement of LGBT rights.

In the nightmare event of a Romney presidency, LGBT Americans could only expect for the Log Cabin Republicans to accomplish less than nothing for gay rights with a Romney administration.

New York City-based novelist and freelance writer Scott Rose’s LGBT-interest by-line has appeared on,, The New York Blade,, 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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Objectivity Does Not Mean Neutrality: The Danger of False Equivalency in the Media

As I have pointed out to some of my readers recently:  My Blog has a point of view.  Like the underground papers of my youth, such as Max Scheer’s Berkeley Barb and Art Kunkin’s LA Free Press, I do not pretend to be objective or fair and balanced.

I’m an advocate.  I publish material that I believe in.

If you want objectivity go to the New York Times or Guardian UK.  They are establishment press with a ton of resources.

I write some posts and try to get people to read the stuff I’ve read over the day.

From Common Dreams:

by David Gutman
Published on Thursday, October 25, 2012 by Common Dreams

What happens when public officials don’t tell the truth? Traditionally it’s been the role of the media to point this out. It is the role of the media not only to uncover hidden deceit, but also to point out deceit in plain sight. The media should not and cannot hide behind the phony gauze of neutrality. As Daniel Patrick Moynihan famously quipped, “Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but not their own facts.”

It is the job of the media to distinguish between the two, and to clearly and blatantly point out the discrepancies to the public.

And yet, too often, they do not. The media, too often, reports what officials say and how they say it, and doesn’t delve into the substance and accuracy of the statements.

The truth is objective, a presentation of both sides of an argument is not necessarily objective.

When a topic is noisily debated, journalists go to pains to present, with equal space and import, both sides of the topic. Usually this is a good thing. The public should know the arguments from all sides of a contentious issue.

But sometimes, and this may sound overly simplistic, but it remains true, there is only one credible side to a debate.

The earth is getting warmer, and man-made carbon emissions are causing it.
Humans evolved from apes. You cannot cut taxes by 20 percent and close enough loopholes to be revenue neutral without raising taxes on the middle class.

Study after reputable study has shown these statements to be true. (Admittedly there have been fewer studies of the last claim because it is so much newer, but every reputable study has found the above statement accurate). Yet we still see news stories in which “experts” from both sides of the argument are called upon and given equal standing to make their case.

Paul Krugman, the Nobel-winning economist and unabashedly liberal New York Times op-ed columnist, wrote about this phenomenon in 2000.

“If a presidential candidate were to declare that the earth is flat, you would be sure to see a news analysis under the headline ‘Shape of the Planet: Both Sides Have a Point.’ After all, the earth isn’t perfectly spherical.

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CNN: Romney Won’t Respond To Questions About His Support For Mourdock

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Republicans’ Shocking Positions on Rape and Pregnancy Aren’t Outliers — They’re Central to the GOP Agenda

From Alternet:

With the takeover of the G.O.P by the religious right, Mourdock’s position on abortion, rape and incest is in line with the party platform — and echoed by top party leaders, including Paul Ryan.

By Adele M. Stan
October 25, 2012

With all of the excitement attending the recent comments of Richard Mourdock, the Indiana Republican candidate for U.S. Senate, that a pregnancy conceived in rape is “a gift from God,” much of the political class is shaking its collective head at the refusal of presidential candidate Mitt Romney to revoke his endorsement of Mourdock — or at least to pull his endorsement ad for the former state treasurer from the Hoosier state airwaves. What they’ve missed is the fact that, in the Republican Party of today, Mourdock’s position is the new normal.

Even Romney’s running mate, Rep. Paul Ryan, held a no-exceptions abortion stance — at least until Romney, who would allow exceptions for rape and incest, elevated him to the national ticket. As reported by TPM:

“I’m very proud of my pro-life record,” Ryan told WJHL-TV in Virginia in an interview aired Thursday. “I’ve always adopted the idea, the position, that the method of conception doesn’t change the definition of life.”

Nearly all of the Republican presidential primary candidates take the same position: that a rape-induced pregnancy is the will of the Creator — and they signed a pledge in Iowa that said as much. Of the 33 Republicans running for U.S. Senate this cycle, all but three are anti-abortion, and among them, at least nine oppose any exceptions in cases of pregnancy by rape and incest. (That the incest portion of this position has gotten little attention is even more troubling: Should an 11-year-old-girl really be required to bear her father a child?)

Against some stiff odds, the Republican Party is smelling winds of change that would render it control of the upper chamber this year, which would require a net gain of four seats. Romney doesn’t dare risk harming a single candidate — or his own chances of winning the votes of religious-righters — which he could if he withdrew his support from any of them.

The party’s cruel platform

If you still have any doubts, just look at the abortion plank in the Republican Party Platform, as reported by the Associated Press:

The party states that “the unborn child has a fundamental individual right to life which cannot be infringed.”

Note the lack of any exceptions.

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Republican Ohio Senate Nominee Defends Mourdock After Rape Comments: ‘He’s A Class Act’

From Think Progress:

By Scott Keyes
on Oct 25, 2012

Ohio Senate nominee Josh Mandel (R) defended neighboring Indiana Senate nominee Richard Mourdock (R) for his comments that pregnancies resulting from rape are a “gift from God,” calling Mourdock a “gentleman” and a “class act.”

Mandel was initially asked yesterday whether he agreed with Mourdock that “God intended” for pregnancies from rape, but the Ohio Republican was unwilling to take a position at the time. A day later, Mandel stuck up for Mourdock on the Laura Ingraham Show, defending his character and claiming that the Indiana GOPer had apologized for his comments.

Treasurer @JoshMandelOhio on Richard Mourdock: “”He’s a gentleman. He’s a class act. He apologized for his comments and I accept that.””

In fact, Mourdock pointedly and repeatedly refused to apologize for his comments during a press conference yesterday. It was this very refusal that led Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) to withdraw his endorsement of Mourdock.

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Tina Fey Blasts Politicians Over Rape Controversy

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Missouri Republican Senate Candidate, Todd “Legitimate Rape” Akin Repeatedly Arrested in the Eighties Blocking Clinic Access

From RH Reality Check:

by Robin Marty,
October 25, 2012

Missouri Congressman Todd Akin’s arrest in 1987 for blocking clinic access became public information after a report published by the People for the American Way. Now, local reporters have combed the news archives to learn that the arrest was not a one-time event, and had occurred multiple times prior to Akin’s first successful political campaign.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch has found records of at least two other arrests, both occurring within weeks of each other in 1985. Both arrests happened two years prior to the 1987 arrest reported by PFAW.

The Post-Dispatch writes:

The first of the events, according to the newspaper’s archives, was on March 15, 1985. “Nineteen anti-abortion demonstrators who refused to leave the waiting room of an abortion clinic in the Central West End were carried out by St. Louis police officers Friday morning,” read the next day’s paper.

Among those arrested, according to the story, was William Akin, 37, of a Creve Coeur address. The age and address are consistent with other information the newspaper has about Todd Akin.

Three weeks later, another six protesters, including Akin, were arrested at another St. Louis demonstration. “Police had to carry Akin into an elevator,” the story read.

On April 5, 1985, Akin was arrested for a third time, one of 10 protestors who were “attempting to block entrances” at Hope Clinic for Women in Granite City, according to the paper. One clinic employee told the paper that the protestors caused minor damage and leveled “verbal abuse” at women entering the clinic.

The Hope Clinic arrest is the more interesting of the ones discovered by the post, as it appears to be the same clinic where four years later Teresa Frank assaulted a woman and Akin, who was no longer involved in protesting, used his political clout to try to get her a reduced punishment.

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Lone Liberal Rumble – Are Funerals for Miscarriages Coming?

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Paul Ryan: Providing Women With Affordable Contraception Is A ‘Threat’ To The Poor

From Think Progress:

By Tara Culp-Ressler
on Oct 25, 2012

At Paul Ryan’s speech on poverty yesterday in Ohio, he intended to explain how the Republican party’s platform would help combat poverty in America. But he made it clear that those GOP-endorsed policies don’t involve ensuring that women have access to affordable preventative health care.

As Talking Points Memo flagged, the vice presidential candidate cited the popular Obamacare birth control mandate — which eliminates cost barriers to contraception by requiring employer-based insurance plans to provide contraceptive services without a co-pay — as an example of a “threat” to the poor Americans who rely on assistance from government safety nets and religious charities:

Nothing undermines the essential and honorable work these groups do quite like the abuse of government power. Take what happened this past January, when the Department of Health and Human Services issued new rules requiring Catholic hospitals, charities and universities to violate their deepest principles. Never mind your own conscience, they were basically told –- from now on you’re going to do things the government’s way.

This mandate isn’t just a threat to religious charities. It’s a threat to all those who turn to them in times of need. In the name of strengthening our safety net, this mandate and others will weaken it.

But rather than existing as a “threat” to the low-income women who may need to turn to religious charities “in times of need,” Obamacare actually guarantees that those women will not have to pay up to thousands of dollars each year for their preventative health care, correcting the previously existing gender imbalance in health care costs. And the contraception mandate does not actually require Catholic-affiliated institutions to directly provide their female employees with any birth control services they object to, since it includes a workaround that allows those religious organizations to shift the costs of contraception coverage onto insurance companies.

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Invasive Grasses as Biofuel? Scientists Protest

From The New York Times:

October 23, 2012

More than 200 scientists from across the country have sent a letter to the Obama administration urging the Environmental Protection Agency to reconsider a rule, in the final approval stages, that would allow two invasive grasses, Arundo donax and Pennisetum purpureum, to qualify as advanced biofuel feedstock under the nation’s renewable fuel standard.

“As scientists in the fields of ecology, wildlife biology, forestry and natural resources, we are writing to bring your attention to the importance of working proactively to prevent potential ecological and economic damages associated with the potential spread of invasive bioenergy feedstocks,” the scientists write.

“While we appreciate the steps that federal agencies have made to identify and promote renewable energy sources and to invest in second- and third-generation sources of bioenergy, we strongly encourage you to consider the invasive potential of all novel feedstock species, cultivars, and hybrids before providing incentives leading to their cultivation.”

Invasive species currently cost the nation $120 billion each year. Many of these invasive species were intentionally introduced by government-financed programs. Kudzu, or “the vine that ate the South,” for example, spread uncontrollably in the 1930s after farmers were paid to cultivate it in an attempt to curb erosion.

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US downplayed effect of Deepwater oil spill on whales, emails reveal

From The Guardian UK:

Documents obtained by Greenpeace show officials controlling information about wildlife affected by the disaster

, US environment correspondent, Wednesday 24 October 2012

The images from the summer of 2010 were undoubtedly gruesome: the carcass of a young sperm whale, decayed and partially eaten by sharks, sighted at sea south of the Deepwater Horizon oil well.

It was the first confirmed sighting of a dead whale since the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico in April that year – a time of huge public interest in the fate of whales, dolphins, sea turtles and other threatened animals – and yet US government officials supressed the first reports of the discovery and blocked all images until now.

The photographs, along with a cache of emails obtained by the campaign group Greenpeace under freedom of information provisions and made available to the Guardian, offer a rare glimpse into how many whales came into close contact with the gushing BP well during the oil spill.

They also show Obama administration officials tightly controlling information about whales and other wildlife caught up in the disaster.

The plight of wildlife caught up in the oil spill – especially endangered species such as sea turtles and sperm whales – has enormous financial implications for BP.

The oil company asked a judge in New Orleans this week to finalise its $7.8bn (£4.8bn) settlement for economic damages arising from the spill. But BP still faces claims from the federal government for environmental damages, and accounting for wildlife killed as a direct result of the spill – from dolphins to turtles to whales – will be critical to the final bill.

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