Monday, July 31, 2006

John Aravosis responds to a New York Times editorial

In response to this July 30, 2006 New York Times editorial: A Senate Race in Connecticut John Aravosis writes in his americablog:
We are turning into a police state. No, there are no ovens and mass executions in America. But if people believe that the only lessons we learned from World War II, from fighting the Soviets, and from every other war, cold and hot, that America ever fought is to simply avoid genocide, well, that's a rather short-sided lesson to take from history.

I hate to quote Star Wars as the authoritative word on freedom, but there was a hell of a quote in the last film:

"So this is how democracy dies, to thunderous applause."
Read the whole of John Aravosis response: New York Times editorial: Dump Lieberman, Vote Lamont

Sunday, July 30, 2006

World Can't Wait

World Can't Wait is organizing people living in the United States to take responsibility to stop the whole disastrous course led by the Bush administration.
We seek to create a political situation where the Bush administration's program is repudiated, where Bush himself is driven from office, and where the whole direction he has been taking U.S. society is reversed.

We seek to mobilize millions to express their outrage, to speak the truth, to act with urgency and form an organized political resistance. We welcome any individuals and groups who agree that the Bush Regime should be driven out, whatever their political party affiliation or lack thereof. We reach out to people who have been fooled by Bush, and to those who have been most seriously affected by the outrages inflicted by the Bush Regime.

World Can't Wait - Drive Out the Bush Regime

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Bump Kitchen ~ hot Northwest blues and grooves!!

Alec and I went to see and hear wonderful Bump Kitchen this afternoon at Lacey's Huntamer Park in Woodland Square. We had heard them once before briefly (2 songs I think) at a fundraiser for Hurricane Katrina victims. I didn't buy thier CD then, and regretted it so I went online and ordered it from their website. WOW!


Bump Kitchen is a very hot Northwest blues and grooves band:
Tony Harper: lead vocals & percussion
Jho Blenis: guitar & vocals (he writes many of the songs too.)
Everett James: drums, percussion & vocals
Mark Bittler: keyboards & vocals
Joe Bevens: bass & vocals

Tony Harper and Jho Blenis (above)
Mark Bittler on what he told Alec he calls his "funk stick" (above)

Joe Bevens is on bass, Everett James is on drums & Tony Harper is singing. (above)

OK, go ahead. Call me a silly fan.
I asked, and got Alec to take a picture of me with Tony Harper
at the end of this fabulous concert. :-)

Check out their website for more information. Bump Kitchen

Friday, July 28, 2006

Army dismisses gay Arabic linguist (bold is my emphasis - Gabi)

JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. -- A decorated sergeant and Arabic language specialist was dismissed from the U.S. Army under the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy, though he says he never told his superiors he was gay and his accuser was never identified.

Bleu Copas, 30, told The Associated Press he is gay, but said he was "outed" by a stream of anonymous e-mails to his superiors in the 82nd Airborne Division at Fort Bragg, N.C.
and
On Dec. 2, investigators formally interviewed Copas and asked if he understood the military's policy on homosexuals, if he had any close acquaintances who were gay, and if he was involved in community theater. He answered affirmatively.

But Copas declined to answer when they asked, "Have you ever engaged in homosexual activity or conduct?" He refused to answer 19 of 47 questions before he asked for a lawyer and the interrogation stopped.
Read the whole article: Army dismisses gay Arabic linguist
by Duncan Mansfield, Associated Press Writer
July 27, 2006 ~ Seattle Post-Intelligencer

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Dysfunctional Family?

If you are from a dysfunctional family, you have either received or written a letter like this. Don't waste any more of your valuable time digging deep into the depths of your soul to tell your family off. Instead, let me do all the hard work for you. You just sit back, take a load off.
Check out The Dysfunctional Family Letter Generator

Yesterday: Court upholds gay marriage ban in Wasgington state - with quotes from two of my friends

A divided Washington Supreme Court ruled Wednesday that same-sex couples have no right of marriage under the state constitution, rejecting claims by 19 couples who sued to overturn a 1998 state law that strictly limited marriage to heterosexuals.
and
"We are disappointed. We were hoping for a victory," said Jeff Kingsbury, an Olympia City Council member and plaintiff who stood on the Temple of Justice steps Wednesday with his partner, Alan Fuller, to talk about the ruling.

The court's 5-4 decision sends the issue to the Legislature, Kingsbury said, where he hopes activists can push for full rights for gays. His side ultimately will prevail, he said, though he didn't say how soon he expects that to happen.
and
Olympia activist Anna Schlecht said that the ruling disappointed her.

"I think what we got is a well-annotated 'tough luck,' " Schlecht said.

Schlecht was in Milwaukee, Wis., with her partner, Sarah Vanucci, who was tending to Vanucci's dying mother, a Catholic who supports their right to marry, Schlecht said. The circumstances of the couple's tending to the mother as any other family might do underscored the unfairness of the ruling in her mind.

"I'm sitting in a motel in Milwaukee supporting my partner who is facing her mother's pending death, making arrangements. We have all the responsibilities of marriage but none of the rights," Schlecht said.

"I'm kind of choking back tears. It feels … without using foul language, it feels like a real cold-hearted dismissal of our humanity. We have all the same needs. We have the same obligations to our families, to our children and grandchildren."
Read the whole article: Court upholds gay marriage ban by Brad Shannon ~ The Olympian ~ Published July 27, 2006

Saturday, July 22, 2006

The dog says 'moo' ~ the “Born Different” campaign in Colorado Springs

Moo’ campaign sets off sparks
A gay-rights advertising campaign featuring a puppy who says “moo” has drawn scrutiny from some members of the Colorado Springs City Council, who said city light poles shouldn’t be used for political statements.

The Born Different ad campaign has been running since early June in TV commercials, on billboards, yard signs and other media.

The message is that gay people were born that way, and the ads are intended to start conversations on the topic, campaign organizers said.

Mayor Lionel Rivera and Councilman Bernie Herpin raised questions this week about campaign banners hanging from city light poles downtown. Other elements of the ad campaign more directly address the subject of sexual orientation, but the downtown banners show only the silhouette of a dog and the word “moo.”
and
Gill Foundation spokesman Bobby Rauzon said Tuesday no city official had contacted the campaign about concerns over its content.

“This actually doesn’t have anything to do with anything political, it’s a simple effort to try and foster an honest dialogue, and I think that here in El Paso County that dialogue has been lacking,” he said.

“Maybe it’s worked. City councilors are talking about it. The mayor’s talking about it. We hope they continue talking about the puppy that moos.”
Read the whole article: ‘Moo’ campaign sets off sparks ~ By PERRY SWANSON ~ THE GAZETTE ~ July 12, 2006

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The dog says 'moo'
[photo caption: Moos to you: Norman is the face of the “Born Different” campaign.]

As opposing groups work to sway voter opinion on same-sex unions, a puppy named Norman wants Colorado Springs residents to discuss a simpler question: Are people born gay?

The freckled visage and comical "moo" of the 10-week-old Brittany spaniel is popping up on local billboards, buses and street posts, and in theaters. Norman also stars in radio and television spots.
Read all of The dog says 'moo' - Springs is the target of a new public interest campaign ~ by Cate Terwilliger ~ The Colorado Springs Independent Newsweekly ~ July 13-19

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For Springs, domestic partnership an issue in dog days of summer
COLORADO SPRINGS - Norman vs. Sherman. It's a dogfight.

And the biscuit these two puppies are tussling over is public perception of gays and lesbians.

Last month, pictures of a little Brittany spaniel named Norman began appearing on Colorado Springs light posts, billboards and television ads, uttering a one-syllable "Moo" instead of a "Woof."

It was the Gill Foundation's campaign to boost its message that gays and lesbians are "born different" and don't really choose their sexual preference. That message is expanded on www.borndifferent.org

No sooner had Norman mooed than the machinery of Focus on the Family whirred to life to counter the Gill message.

James Dobson's Colorado Springs-based ministry stands firmly against same-sex marriage, gay rights initiatives and, now, mooing puppies.

On Tuesday, Focus unveiled its new "straight" puppy Web site, www.no-moo-lies.com, featuring a basset hound named Sherman, who barks as biology intended. During a news conference, a Focus employee dressed in a dog suit, who serves as a mascot at the group's visitors center, made a brief appearance.
and
Tail of the tape

Norman
  • Breed: Brittany spaniel
  • Description: Energetic, intelligent, vigorous, easy to train.
  • Physical characteristics: Mostly white, medium-length coat with orange, brown or black spots, 17 to 22 inches high at the shoulders, 30 to 45 pounds.
  • Temperament: Considered sensitive and good-natured.
Sherman
  • Breed: Basset hound
  • Description: Short, descended from bloodhound.
  • Physical characteristics: Smooth, short coat in combinations of white, brown and black, large head, long ears, short legs and stocky body. Usually 12 to 15 inches high at the shoulder, 50 to 65 pounds.
  • Temperament: Mild-mannered, friendly, gentle.
Read the whole article: For Springs, domestic partnership an issue in dog days of summer ~ By Dick Foster, Rocky Mountain News ~ July 19, 2006

MOTHER OF SUICIDE VET FLIES OLD GLORY UPSIDE DOWN

Four months after returning home from Iraq, Army reservist Jason Cooper hanged himself. And not even 'patriotic' entreaties or vandalism will stop his mother from flying the flag upside down.
and
Terri Jones lost her son Jason Cooper just over a year ago.

He was an Army Reservist in the Iraq War.

On July 14, 2005, four months after returning home to Iowa, he hanged himself.

He was 23.
and
Now a member of Gold Star Families for Peace, Jones says she’s “forming a subchapter support group to help with military families who’ve had a suicide” after their loved one returned home.

“So far we know of about 70” such tragedies, she says.
Read the whole article: MOTHER OF SUICIDE VET FLIES OLD GLORY UPSIDE DOWN ~ Matthew Rothschild, The Progressive ~ July 18, 2006

Friday, July 21, 2006

Early morning reflections

We do get sunny days in Washington state - especially in the summers which are beautiful and almost always dry. The temperatures are usually mild too, but today it is predicted to be a possible record-breaker in the high 90's! Its already 83 degrees at 11:20 am.


This is a reflection early this morning on the wall across from my chair in the living room. I finally remembered to grab the camera before it was gone.


That reflection changes from moment to moment, and is gone then as the sun moved higher.

The painting partially seen is "Suet Farm" by Alex Ohge. My Alec was in the 2001 Bumbershoot Invitational Art Exhibition. Artists showed multiple works and agreed to trade one piece with another artist. Alec got this one which we really enjoy.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Three photos from the beach at Percival's Landing

Grasses and rocks along the beach at Percical's Landing.

Kayak lessons? Or just a group of people out together in those colorful boats.

I have always loved that old bouy.

Monday, July 17, 2006

For those of you who remember Fenceberry News

From: Fenceberry
Date: 07/16/06
Subject: About Aleta,the fence in fenceberry, for some internet friends...

Hi all, I'm writing to a few of you from our old 'articles list' because I thought you would like to know. Aleta has been diagnosed with cancer. It has come on very fast and very hard. The cancer is from an unknown origin, it is still in the stem cell phase and very fast growing. It is a non-small cell type. None of this really means much to me, except that my Aleta has cancer and it is throughout her body. She has undergone her first round of chemotherapy and is tolerating it very well. She doesn't have the nausea that can come from that treatment and I am greatful for that. She is on oxygen at home because her lungs have been attacked and the right one doesn't expand to its full capacity. We discovered this condition on June 15th. She has basically been bed- ridden since about the 22nd. She has been in and out of the hospital a couple of times and had every conceivable test. Her oncologist, Dr Jean Grem, is with the Nebraska Medical Center and they have an excellent cancer team and reputation. We are cautiously hopeful and are taking one day at a time. Aleta is alert but fatigued, partly do the chemotherapy and partly to the lower oxygen intake. She has been sleeping in our reclining chair for the last few weeks because it is too painful for her to lie flat on her back in our bed. We have requested a hospital bed and will find out on Monday if that will be possible. Insurance companys can be a$hole$!

Some of you who are getting this email are friends, and I apoligize to you for the way I am giving you the news, in a 'bulk mail letter', but at this time it is the best I can do. The others who are receiving this have been internet acquaintences that we have never met, although some we have, and we have felt a connection to you.

Neither Aleta nor I are 'believers' in the traditional sense. We don't believe in an all powerful being or an after life, but we do believe in connections with other people. Over the last several years of our lives, all of you have met something to us and we have felt a connection to each of you, even if we have never seen you or heard your voice. I know that may sound silly, but it is true. So I'm hoping that if you have also felt that connection that you will send good feelings and wishes our way. If you are inclined to send a note or card, they would be very welcome and a much needed distraction. We have always enjoyed hearing about your lives and activities. Please DON'T send flowers or gifts. You can also drop her an email, she really doesn't get on the computer much anymore, it's just not very comfortable. But I can print off any notes you send so she can read them. If you care to send a card, address it to Aleta Fenceroy 4775 Decatur Street, Omaha, NE 68104

Thanks in advance,
Jean - the berry half of the FenceBerry family

PS I know I have missed many people who might be interested in hearing about how Aleta is doing, so if you know of anyone else then please feel free to forward this message.

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Here is a Southern Voice September 03, 2004 article about Fenceberry, Jean Mayberry and Aleta Fenceroy:

Fenceberry logs off
Lesbian couple closes informal news service after eight years
by CYD ZEIGLER JR. and BRYAN ANDERTON

Sunday, July 16, 2006

In & around Olympia



We were driving through Steilacoom on our way to a play in Gig Harbor on Friday. I thought this was an old closed factory. The sign says it is the West Tacoma Public Recycle. I don't know if it's still used, but I thought it was an interesting set of buildings.



This is a bunch of people in cars waiting to get on the Steilacoom ferry to McNeil Island. I have never been there. It has quite a history as a prison - first for Washington Territory then a federal penitentiary when Washington became a state in 1889.

From Wikipedia:
Its most famous inmate was probably Robert Stroud, the "Birdman of Alcatraz," who was held there from 1909 to 1912. By 1937 the federal government, which had been accumulating parcels adjacent to the penitentiary, had purchased all the land on the island and compelled its last residents to leave. Charles Manson was an inmate from 1961 to 1966 for trying to cash a government check.

Washington state took over the penitentiary from the federal government in 1981. It is now called McNeil Island Corrections Center. According to the state, it is the only facility in the U.S. to have been a territorial, federal, and state prison, and is the only prison left in North America that is only accessible by boat or air.

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Then today we went back downtown to Percival's Landing for a walk. It was a beautiful day and there were lots of people and boats of all shapes and sizes.



This is the vintage tugboat Sand Man. Alec and I have watched it being restored over time.





Here is Alec talking to the man onboard. I asked his name but I forgot it -- sorry! I also forgot the name of the boat' mascot, a black dog.

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This strange looking boat was tied up on the dock next to the Sand Man. We didn't see a name on it.



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I found these views below of what is under the piers wonderful!


Friday, July 14, 2006

"Cool By Default" a great new music video by Steve Schalchlin ~ and a rave theater review of Jim Brochu's "Zero Hour" in The Los Angeles Times

When the rest of the world is so damn lame that you end up cool by default.
Cool By Default a great new music video by my friend Steve Schalchlin

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Steve's partner Jim Brochu wrote and is performing in a new play "Zero Hour".

Check out this rave theater review in the Los Angeles Times:
*Jim Brochu’s striking resemblance to Zero Mostel enhances his portrayal of the late actor in “Zero Hour.”
and
Teenage Jim Brochu met Zero Mostel while visiting a friend backstage at "A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum." They became friendly during the show's run, but when Brochu asked for Mostel's autographed picture some years later, the famously temperamental star screamed "You're not worthy!" Years later, Mostel came to see Brochu, then a professional actor himself, in a show. When Brochu returned to his dressing room, he found an envelope. Inside was an autographed picture of Mostel.

That picture can be seen in the program of "Zero Hour," Brochu's one-man show at the Egyptian Arena Theatre. By reports, Mostel was a mass of contradictions who vacillated between the explosive and the tender-hearted. Presented by the West Coast Jewish Theatre and directed by Paul Kreppel, "Hour" captures Mostel's rich contradictions in a loving but unvarnished homage as entertaining as the man himself.
Read the whole review: In 'Zero,' a legend incarnate by F. Kathleen Foley ~ July 14, 2006

articles: "San Franciscophobia" and "Real Christians Fight Intolerance"

San Franciscophobia
We're stuck with a terrible war and a worse president, and all the GOP can do is scream, "Pelosi and her Nancy boys are coming"?
This is pathetic.
and
People who want to take a swing at San Francisco should think twice. Yes, the Irish coffee at Fisherman's Wharf is overpriced, and the bus tour of Haight-Ashbury is disappointing (where are the hippies?), but the Bay Area is the cradle of the computer and software industry, which continues to create jobs for our children. The iPod was not developed by Baptists in Waco, Texas. There may be a reason for this. Creative people thrive in a climate of openness and tolerance, since some great ideas start out sounding ridiculous. Creativity is a key to economic progress. Authoritarianism is stifling. I don't believe that Mr. Hewlett and Mr. Packard were gay, but what's important is: In San Francisco, it doesn't matter so much. When the cultural Sturmbannfuhrers try to marshal everyone into straight lines, it has consequences for the economic future of this country.
San Franciscophobia by Garrison Keillor ~ Salon.com ~ Jun. 07, 2006
(Garrison Keillor's "A Prairie Home Companion" can be heard Saturday nights on public radio stations across the country.)


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Real Christians Fight Intolerance

A reverend declares that gay bashing is an attack on the gospel -- and that real Christians don't participate in any form of discrimination.
Gay bashing is not just an opinion, it is an assault. Just as the Klan did, religious fundamentalists have a right to believe that homosexuality is a sin. They even have a right to preach a message of hate. But when they harass people in public, it is time for Christians to rise to challenge their intolerance.
Real Christians Fight Intolerance by Rev. Jim Rigby ~ AlterNet ~ July 14, 2006

Wednesday, July 5, 2006

Coverage in The Seattle Times: Neo-Nazi rally draws protests, heightened security

Among the protesters was Robert Guerrero, 42, of Tacoma, who wore a traditional Tlingit cedar headband and a cape decorated with the image of a raven as he beat an elk-hide drum. Guerrero said he was at the protest to represent indigenous people.

"These folks need to know that they are immigrants," he said, gesturing toward the neo-Nazis. "They want to get rid of immigrants? Well, go ahead."
Read Neo-Nazi rally draws protests, heightened security by Curt Woodward ~ The Associated Press / The Seattle Times ~ July 3, 2006

Tuesday, July 4, 2006

Born on the 4th of July ...

Understanding the Meaning of Freedom
by George Lakoff
Not since the Civil War has America been more divided politically. The Civil War was fought over the question of what freedom in America was to be. The issue was in the open for all to see: human slavery, the bluntest effrontery to the idea of freedom.

The Culture War today is once more about the question of what freedom is to be in America. But it is subtler. No slaves. Instead, ``detainees" in Guantanamo, held without due process; more than a million young African-Americans in US prisons, many held for nonviolent or victimless crimes; torture in Abu Ghraib and at secret destinations in Egypt and Syria; government spying on ordinary citizens. No slaves. Instead, illegal immigrants who want to come here to do back-breaking work for low pay and few rights. Remarkably, all this is in the name of ``freedom." It is a right-wing conservative conception of freedom and it flies in the face of the freedoms declared by the Founding Fathers and expanded upon since.
Read all of Understanding the Meaning of Freedom
The Boston Globe ~ July 4, 2006

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To Defend Our Freedom, We Must Defend Voting Rights
by Jesse Jackson
If the greatest liberty is the freedom of speech and assembly, enshrined in the First Amendment to the Constitution, then the greatest power to enforce our liberty is the vote. For the civil rights movement, the Voting Rights Act -- passed after Bloody Sunday in Selma -- was essential to transforming the South. The act empowered the federal government to police the states that were using a range of devices to suppress African-American votes. The act required that any change in election laws in the states with a history of segregation be pre-cleared -- and that none be allowed that would diminish the right or the power of minority voters.

Now that basic principle is under assault once more.
Read all of To Defend Our Freedom, We Must Defend Voting Rights
The Chicago Sun-Times ~ July 4, 2006

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Patriotism and the Fourth of July
by Howard Zinn
The Declaration of Independence gives us the true meaning of a patriot, someone who supports a country's ideals, not necessarily its government.
and
Mark Twain, having been called a "traitor" for criticizing the U.S. invasion of the Philippines, derided what he called "monarchical patriotism." He said: "The gospel of the monarchical patriotism is: 'The King can do no wrong.' We have adopted it with all its servility, with an unimportant change in the wording: 'Our country, right or wrong!' We have thrown away the most valuable asset we had -- the individual's right to oppose both flag and country when he believed them to be in the wrong. We have thrown it away; and with it, all that was really respectable about that grotesque and laughable word, Patriotism."

If patriotism in the best sense (not in the monarchical sense) is loyalty to the principles of democracy, then who was the true patriot? Theodore Roosevelt, who applauded a massacre by American soldiers of 600 Filipino men, women and children on a remote Philippine island, or Mark Twain, who denounced it?
Read all of Patriotism and the Fourth of July
AlterNet. ~ July 4, 2006

Olympian: Neo-Nazis speak into sea of opponents ~ Alec: We Got Nazis & what I said at the vigil later

Olympian: Neo-Nazis speak into sea of opponents
500 foes, 200 troopers, 13 National Socialist Movement followers at rally

About 500 protesters drowned out 13 neo-Nazis Monday at the Capitol. The two groups were separated from each other by helmeted, crowd-control-equipped troopers. Throughout the day, about 200 troopers were on duty, the largest force of Washington State Troopers gathered there since the 1970s.
and
"The State Patrol did a great job," said Bryn Houghton of Olympia, who as a counter-­protest dressed as a clown with an Adolf Hitler-style mustache. "I thought (the National Socialist Movement) did a great job of humiliating themselves. You couldn't hear them and when you could it was illogical, as well as being bigoted."
Read Neo-Nazis speak into sea of opponents
by Venice Buhain and Adam Wilson ~ The Olympian ~ 7/4/06

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This morning Alec emailed this to friends and family:
Subject: We Got Nazis

While our friends and family in the
South and East are being plagued with floods and heat, we out here in the Pacific Northwest are plagued with Neo-Nazis. The National Socialist Movement (the self-identified Nazi party in the U.S.) has chosen Olympia, Wash., as a target for recruiting and building a base for what they claim will be a takeover of the West. They've shown up here on numerous occasions since January, wearing their brown uniforms and waving big red swastika flags. Usually when they show up they are in groups of six or seven. They filed for a permit to rally on the state capitol July 3 (yesterday) and boasted that Nazis from all of the Western states were going to converge on us.

Gabi and I joined in with a local group called Unity in the Community to counter their message of hate and exclusion with one of love and acceptance. We put on a big festival on the day before the Nazi rally with the theme of celebrating diversity, with speakers and entertainers representing all races, religions, etc. It was a wonderfully joyful day in the park -- the only downside being that I got slightly sunburned.

The next day the Neo-Nazis showed up as planned. Two hundred policemen stood between them and 500 counter demonstrators who wore clown outfits and rang bells and beat on drums so the Nazis couldn't be heard. There were only 13 of the brown-shirted hate mongers. They shouted in anger, but no one could understand what they were saying. Meantime, the counter demonstrators were dancing and drumming and generally having a grand old time, and making the guys in the brown shirts look really stupid. One young woman was wearing a T-shirt with a picture of Hitler with a clown nose and the legend, "Neo-Nazis are So 1938."

The day's activities ended with a sober wind-down with a candlelight vigil in memory of hate crime victims -- specifically two local youth, including our son, Bill. The other youth, Bob Buchanan Jr., was a young Euro-Asian man who was murdered by Neo-Nazi skinheads in 1992. Gabi was one of the speakers at the vigil, and she did a wonderful job.

We may have succeeded in making the bad guys look silly and inept, but they promised to be back, and they surely will. They don't give up easily.

Happy 4th of July,
Alec

--

Alec Clayton Art and Writing: http://www.alecclayton.com
Until the Dawn, a novel: http://www.alecclayton.com/writings.html
Imprudent Zeal, a novel: http://www.alecclayton.com/writings.html
As If Art Matters, essays and reviews: http://www.alecclayton.com/writings.html
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Thank you Alec.

This is what I said at the vigil after leaning Bill's last high school photograph against the sound system:
My husband Alec and I had two sons. Our youngest, Bill, came out to us as bisexual when he was fourteen years old. When he was seventeen he was very out. He was a member of Olympia High School's student activist club when they invited Col. Grethe Cammermeyer to speak for women's history month. All hell broke loose in the area then.

Soon after that Bill and his friend Sam were assaulted in a hate crime. Bill committed suicide about a month later because he lost hope that he would ever be safe.

My father was a German Jewish refugee. The hate he faced as a child in Germany is the same hate that my son and Bill and his best friend Sam faced on a street by Olympia High School on April 6, 2005.

The four young men who attacked them were the pawns of individuals who made them think their actions were right, and of a culture that does that.

Someone once asked me what I believed causes this to happen. My answer was evil. Yes I believe in monsters. Human ones. Not the ones who assaulted Bill and Sam – but the ones who twisted their spirits and make them think it was okay.

When they beat Bill and Sam they did not see them as human. And in the very act they lost their own humanity.

Hate doesn't grow in a vacuum. It can't grow unless we allow it to. It grows on fear and it grows on silence. By speaking up now as a community we have said not here. Not now. By that very act we are healing from what they bring here.

Holocaust survivor Victor Frankl wrote in Man’s Search for Meaning:
“Suffering ceases to be suffering in some way at the moment it finds a meaning.”
People sometimes ask me how I survived Bill’s death. My answer is what makes you think I survived? They ask me why I am not angry. I answer them what do you think fuels me? Anger can be negative or positive depending on what you do with it. I’ve chosen to put the energy from my anger about what happened to Bill into working for change – hoping to help end ignorance and hate and fear – hoping to open people’s hearts and minds.

In September 2001 I wrote:

I want to recognize that this is a time when we all are aware of the vulnerability of our country and our people after the attacks on the east coast. I have been reading about people feeling that those acts of terror have stripped away the sense of safety that we as a nation felt.

While I acknowledge that is true in some important ways, I would also like to say that it has been a long time - if ever - since many of us felt safe, when so many people in this country and in our world are targeted, harassed, beaten and killed because of bias based on their real or perceived sexual orientation, gender identity, race, religion, ethnicity, ability, etc. Many of us have been aware that we have lived in a war zone all along.

Six years ago my youngest son was beaten because he was bisexual. He committed suicide a month later because he believed he lived in a world filled with hate he could no longer face. When I watched the news and heard that people were throwing themselves from the windows of the World Trade Center as it was being destroyed, I thought of my son Bill.

Moving back in time to January 26, 1997, I wrote this to friends:

This time of year is usually very grey in the Pacific Northwest, but we have been blessed with some sunny days. Today I was able to see the Olympic mountains across Puget Sound - they are covered with snow and quite stunning.

The sight of those mountains made me remember visiting Mount Saint Helens a few years ago with Alec and Noel and Bill. When we visited, the volcano had erupted years before our trip. The power of the destructive forces that had been unleashed still seemed overwhelming and un-survivable. Whole pieces of St. Helens were gone, as were people, creatures, whole forests... A lodge by the edge of Spirit Lake was buried there in the water that rose from all the trees that jammed and flooded the lake.

The mountain was forever changed; the losses were huge. And yet...and yet there was life returning to the mountain. A new tree pushing up here, a little animal there. We were delighted and awed by the healing that was taking place. Nothing would ever be the same, but something wonderful was growing out of those ashes.

And here I am, thinking of Bill, and of our losses. And seeing that it is SO huge, and that our lives are forever changed. The power of the destructive forces that were unleashed on Bill were overwhelming and un-survivable for him. And now, nothing will ever be the same for us.

And yet, there is healing - and there is something quite amazing happening - out of those ashes. You are all part of it... and knowing you all floods me with hope.

All my love... Gabi
----- © Copyright 2006 Gabi Clayton

Monday, July 3, 2006

Bush's Sick Vision of 'Democracy' ~ and ~ Bush Is Not Incompetent

Bush's Sick Vision of 'Democracy'
The president believes our government should work like this: President breaks law, Court says President broke law, Congress vows to pass law to make President's actions legal, President attaches signing statement indicating he will not follow law.

Perhaps the nation would be better served if all members of government simply played ring around the rosy or a good hearty game of tag, because this pantomime of a fully functioning system of checks and balances is an insult to those of us who actually believe in democracy.
Read Bush's Sick Vision of 'Democracy' by Larisa Alexandrovna, AlterNet. Posted July 1, 2006.

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Bush Is Not Incompetent
Bush's bumbling folksiness causes progressives to disregard him -- but he has been overwhelmingly competent in advancing his harmful conservative agenda.
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The idea that Bush is incompetent is a curious one. Consider the following (incomplete) list of major initiatives the Bush administration, with a loyal conservative Congress, has accomplished:
  • Centralizing power within the executive branch to an unprecedented degree
  • Starting two major wars, one started with questionable intelligence and in a manner with which the military disagreed
  • Placing on the Supreme Court two far-right justices, and stacking the lower federal courts with many more
  • Cutting taxes during wartime, an unprecedented event
  • Passing a number of controversial bills such as the PATRIOT Act, the No Child Left Behind Act, the Medicare Drug bill, the Bankruptcy bill and a number of massive tax cuts
  • Rolling back and refusing to enforce a host of basic regulatory protections
  • Appointing industry officials to oversee regulatory agencies
  • Establishing a greater role for religion through faith-based initiatives
  • Passing Orwellian-titled legislation assaulting the environment -- "The Healthy Forests Act" and the "Clear Skies Initiative" -- to deforest public lands, and put more pollution in our skies
  • Winning re-election and solidifying his party's grip on Congress
These aren't signs of incompetence. As should be painfully clear, the Bush administration has been overwhelmingly competent in advancing its conservative vision. It has been all too effective in achieving its goals by determinedly pursuing a conservative philosophy.

It's not Bush the man who has been so harmful, it's the conservative agenda.
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The mantra of incompetence has been an unfortunate one. The incompetence frame assumes that there was a sound plan, and that the trouble has been in the execution. It turns public debate into a referendum on Bush's management capabilities, and deflects a critique of the impact of his guiding philosophy. It also leaves open the possibility that voters will opt for another radically conservative president in 2008, so long as he or she can manage better. Bush will not be running again, so thinking, talking and joking about him being incompetent offers no lessons to draw from his presidency.
Read Bush Is Not Incompetent by George Lakoff, AlterNet. Posted July 3, 2006

Diversity activists show united front

Unity in the Community, which organized Sunday's event, is a coalition of local human rights and diversity groups that formed in response to a rally planned today by the National Socialist Movement, a neo-Nazi group.

"It seemed like a wonderful response to tomorrow's rally, instead of meeting the hatred of the rally with more hatred," said Kirstin Batchelor, associate pastor of United Churches of Olympia.

People wandered in and out of the seven-hour event, which featured speeches in support of diversity by religious leaders and politicians, and a steady crowd of about 100 people were seated on the lawn throughout the day.

"This was a crowd that we were hoping for - a crowd that reflects the diversity that we believe that America supports," event organizer Anna Schlecht said.
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Foes attended

Several people at the celebration said "plainclothes" members of the National Socialist Movement were in attendance, and John Brandt, the Snohomish County unit leader of the National Socialist Movement, confirmed it Sunday.

"We wanted to know the general temperament of the crowd," he said. "We want to tailor our message to their temperament and their concerns."
Read Diversity activists show united front ~ Neo-Nazis plan demonstration today by Venice Buhain ~ The Olympian ~ July 03, 2006

Sunday, July 2, 2006

Rich City Poor City: Middle-class Neighborhoods Are Disappearing

Ron Miguel, a retired florist and native San Franciscan, can remember when a middle-class family could buy a home in the city without breaking the bank. But over the decades, he has watched that change.
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"It's bad for democracy," Karlinsky said. "When you have concentrations of poverty, people growing up there have less access to other life opportunities. The same is true at the other end, as well. ... We don't want San Francisco to become Carmel, just a city of the most wealthy. Then we're not a real city any more, we're a boutique."
Rich City Poor City: Middle-class Neighborhoods Are Disappearing from the Nation's Cities, Leaving Only High- and Low-Income Districts, New Study Says ~ by Tyche Hendricks ~ San Francisco Chronicle ~ June 22, 2006

Thank you for speaking up and standing up for unity in our shared community while we face neo-Nazis this weekend.

The Evergreen State College, St. Martin's University and South Puget Sound Community College take great pride in our welcoming community and in the roles our institutions have played in making this one of the most vibrant, diverse, creative and respected communities in Washington state. These qualities are a beacon that attracts the best and brightest people and businesses to our area.

Ironically, it is these very qualities that have attracted the neo-Nazis to us.
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Hate does not build community; it tears communities apart. Hate does not add to our community conversation; it sows violence and destruction. Hate does not make a good neighbor, a fine friend or a worthwhile leader.

While our democracy allows the neo-Nazi the freedom to spew their abhorrent rhetoric into the public marketplace of ideas, we, as a community, have a responsibility to vigorously and loudly counter them with our own positive, community-affirming message.
Thomas "Les" Purce is president of The Evergreen State College. Douglas Astolfi is president of Saint Martin's University , and Kenneth J. Minnaert is president of South Puget Sound Community College.

Read the whole essay School presidents stand united against neo-Nazi hatred The Olympian » Opinion : » Local columnists ~ July 02, 2006 ~ by Thomas 'Les' Purce, Douglas Astolfi and Kenneth J. Minnaert