Thursday, November 24, 2011

Giving Thanks

 By the time you read this, I will be passed out on the sofa in a turkey  induced coma inexplicably in front of a TV with a football game playing on it.

Such is the Great American tradition for Thanksgiving.  Additionally, I suspect many of you will have had uncomfortable conversations with family members you only see once or twice a year as well as catching up with who lost their hair, who is pregnant and who has died in your biological family.   Again, its all part of tradition for many folks.

Oh yes, and then there is that whole "thanks-giving" thing.  That's the real reason for the holiday, not the celebration of gluttony and football.  So just what is there to be thankful for this year?

Well, I have a few things I am personally thankful for that I would like to share, so in the spirit of the holiday, indulge me.
First I am thankful for my family of choice.  My loving partner of 16 years and our mutual friends enrich my life more than they will ever know.  They endure hours of my ranting and raving, and they still find it in their hearts to love me anyway.  They only occasionally roll their eyes and almost always laugh when I have climbed too high on my soapbox.

I am thankful for my biological family, both those still alive and the ones who have long since passed out of my life.  They taught me some very important lessons and they gave me the most valuable gift I possess, the gift of acceptance.  They love me just as I am with all my flaws.  That gift never gets old, but only if you pass it on to the rest of your family, friends and even strangers.
I am thankful for the strides made in LGBT rights in the past year.  The repeal of DADT, more equal visitation rights for LGBT families in hospitals and the beginnings of the repeal of the misnamed Defense of Marriage Act.

I am thankful for the contributions of so many citizens to the "It Gets Better" campaign.  Those simple heart-felt videos make an amazing difference to LGBT youth at a critical time in their emotional development.  I am thankful to the attention paid to the problem of bullying, something that affected so many of us in school and beyond.

Lastly, at least in this column, I am thankful for the new spirit of activism that seems to have blossomed in this country.  The Occupy Wall Street movement, though slightly disorganized shows that young people in our country still value what matters.  I had almost lost hope of that in this age of greed-is-good philosophies.

The OCW movement has only started to bubble up through the American consciousness and it has a long way to go.  The media is looking for simple ways to describe it and find only a muddle of principals that don't make good sound-bites, therefore they go with the lowest common denominator, visuals.  Pictures of bearded neo-flower children in tent cities and the occasional trouble maker become the face, not the earnest frustration with the way money flows from poor to rich in America.

It reminds me of the fledgling gay rights movement around the time of Stonewall and the Compton's Cafeteria riot.  The LGBT  community was angry.  Angry at the years of oppression and discrimination and they wanted to do something about it, they just didn't really know what.  The riots were just the outward sign of that frustration and the first real stirrings of a broad movement for LGBT rights. (At that time, simply called "gay rights".)

The frustration and emotions of the OCW movement understandably boil over as well, and my hope this Thanksgiving is that they will coalesce into an easily grasped declaration of the problem and a proposed plan of action to solve it.
Thanksgiving comes during a season of change, a time when the days grow shorter and the weather colder.  We gather together and feast as a defense against the fading of the light but we do so knowing that Winter is only a season, and it will eventually change into a glorious spring.   So for all I have to be thankful for, and for all the troubles we might face, I still believe in the promise of Spring.  The promise of things getting better.  Getting better for our LGBT youth. Getting better for the 99%. Getting better for everyone.  But like Thanksgiving dinner, it doesn't happen without someone getting in the kitchen with a recipe and cooking up a storm.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Bryan Fischer Warns of Muslim Turkeys this Thanksgiving!

Break out the industrial strength crazy, Bryan Fischer (of the American Family Association, a recognized hate group) is at it again.  He has decided that just because Butterball Turkeys are classified as Halal they must be secret sacrifices to Allah. They are also Kosher, does that make them secret Jews?

Try not to choke on your Thanksgiving turkey while you watch this idiot who is full of stuffing.

New Study Shows Fox News Viewers Know Less About News Than Those Who Don't Watch News.

According to a new poll by Fairleigh Dickinson University, people who watch Fox News know less about what is really going on that people who claim they don't watch news at all.  Why am I not surprised?

The fact that Fox News slickly packages Republican propaganda and sells it as news is well known, but the fact that Fox covers less real news than other outlets may be the reason.  For example, Fox Viewers were asked about the Egyptian uprising that overthrew Hosni Mubarak, and were 18 points less likely to know the outcome.  On other international topics they consistently scored lower than people who don't watch TV news at all.

Those viewers most informed watched the Sunday morning talk shows where news is discussed at length and usually without the fluff that comes with most Fox shows.

Read the rest of the depressing results here.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Pregnant Woman Pepper Sprayed and Punched by Seattle Police - Miscarriage.

The Occupy Seattle group witnessed a brutal attack on a pregnant woman by Seattle Police. The pepper-sprayed her and punched her in the stomach even as she was screaming she was pregnant. Now according to reports she has suffered a miscarriage.

The police response to the OCW movement has been completely over the top. Police need to stand down and consider just who they are protecting.

The video clip below was just after the attack and is kind of jumbled, but it is clear the pregnant woman is injured and in pain. Watch it if you have the stomach for it.

On The Road in Indiana

As I write this post I am sipping coffee in a coffee shop in Michigan City Indiana. The coffee is fine, but the surroundings are strange. I feel a whole lot more like I am sitting in Paradise, Nevada at one of the hotels on the famous Las Vegas Strip. You see casino gambling came to Indiana a few years ago and since then some things have changed. Apparently, what started as the idea of riverboat gambling gave way to full blown casinos along the shores of Lake Michigan.

Al Capone would be frowning. The very vices he sold have now been embraced and gone mainstream. No need for the wise guys, its all about politics and jobs now.


Now, I am not complaining. The hotel is very nice and convenient to our friends who live here along the Indiana shore of Lake Michigan. I am just confused. I see a nice casino-hotel-spa worthy of Las Vegas plopped down in the midst of a shipyard, low income houses and docks. As far as I can tell there is no economic prosperity springing up around the casino, just a noticeable increase in pawn shops and check cashing joints.

Such is progress in modern America. We seem able to find so many ways to take money from the middle class and poor and redistribute it to the wealthy. The American Dream?

Some day, there will be no more money for the rich to gather and then they will move on to another more luxurious place. I hear Dubai is lovely this time of year.