Thursday, July 24, 2008

More Craziness from Camp McSame

As Sen. Barack Obama continues on his picture-perfect trip through the Middle East and Europe, the petulance and pettiness of the McCain camp is breathtaking. It was McCain with the help of the RNC who chided, prodded and taunted Obama for not ever visiting Iraq (and a negative ad that states that remarkably still airs). But the success of this "high-risk" mission and the childish responses coming out of Camp McSame have diminished what was once a decent politician to that of an over-aged adolescent who throws tantrums because he doesn't get things to flow his way.

Blaming the Media. Aww poor John McCain can’t get media attention while Obama dazzles world leaders, our own troops and huge throngs on foreign soil. When a representative of the U.S. speaks to tens of thousands of Berliners, which garnered world attention, Camp McSame cannot understand why? It wasn’t long ago that President George War Bush had to be literally sneaked into London under the cover of darkness just to speak to Queen Elizabeth II. And Britain is our closest ally!

Again, you get what you ask for. Camp McSame pushed Obama to visit Iraq, and he will return home triumphant. Not such a great strategy on their part.

Learning Curve? John McCain criticized Obama’s trip by saying, "In a time of war, the commander-in-chief doesn’t get a learning curve." Maybe so, but McCain’s constant flubs concerning Iraq and the Middle East make George War Bush seem knowledgeable.

His confusion of Sunni and Shi-ites is unbelievable considering his self-expressed expertise of the area. His comment that Iran trains al-Qaeda when in fact it doesn’t was another example of lack of knowledge despite his many trips to the war’s theater.

Then there is his mistaken chronology of events with respect to the surge and the Anbar Awakening and his notion that the surge caused this event. Like a parrot who had his seeds laced with a banned substance, McCain repeats and repeats over again, "The surge is working. The surge is working." But he cannot define what success in Iraq actually means, and he ignores the other factors, such as the Anbar Awakening, for the reduction in violence.

And one can throw in his utter disregard for history when he referred to the Czech Republic as Czechoslovakia on several occasions. Adding more to the heap is McCain referring to a non-existent Iraq-Pakistan border. McCain is the foreign policy and national security expert? And someone PLEASE tell me what qualified Ronald Reagan to be commander-in-chief when he ran for President!
McCain is also seething over Iraq Prime Minister al-Maliki for his moving closer to Obama's timeline for a troop withdrawl.

Obama and Rising Gas Prices. In an incredible display of dishonesty and stupidity, Camp McSame launched an ad that actually blames Obama for the rise in gas prices. This is a head scratcher if I ever saw one. How low will they go? Answer: see below.

Portraying Obama as a Traitor. This cops the award for flagrant smearing. McCain said and said again that Obama would rather lose a war so that he can win an election.

The fact that this jackass is even competitive speaks more about the voters in this country than anything else. Hopefully, Obama's presence on the world stage will help America see the light that he is a plausible and much-needed President of the United States.

Friday, July 18, 2008

An Open Letter to Al Gore

By Steve Charing

Dear Vice-President Gore,

As a gay man, I believe it is critical that Senator Barack Obama be elected president on November 4. Sen. Obama stands with the gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender community on most issues that are important to us with the sole exception of same-sex marriage.

I recall you hadn’t been a major advocate for us during your years as vice-president, but I am confident that some of your positions have softened since then as you have recognized that one of the main tenets of the Declaration of Independence—all men are created equal—applies to our community.

Besides Sen. Obama’s pro-gay stances that include the repeal of "Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell" and the Defense of Marriage Act, plus his promised support for a comprehensive hate crimes bill and federal employment non-discrimination legislation that encompasses sexual orientation, his vision and leadership as well as his economic, environmental and foreign policies will steer America back on the right course.

On the other hand, a win for Senator John McCain would serve to do the opposite. He even recently announced his opposition to same-sex adoptions, which does nothing more than to punish innocent children.

Moreover, the next president will be faced with the likely prospect of filling two to three Supreme Court vacancies, which is crucial for many reasons, not the least of which is the likelihood the Court will face the question of the constitutionality of same-sex marriage bans.

For these reasons, the election of Sen. Obama is vital to our community, the nation and the world. And that is why I am imploring you to accept the vice-president position on the ticket with Sen. Obama should he ask that of you.

I fully understand your previously expressed views that you would not be interested in being on the ticket. I acknowledge that your work on climate change is far more significant than your political aspirations. I also recognize that you had been the vice-president for eight years and do not look forward to a repeat of that experience.

But please consider the fact that your addition to the ticket will all but guarantee the victory for Sen. Obama. With your extensive resume, you add the foreign policy and military gravitas that he lacks for which he is being unfairly vilified.

You are well respected and admired around the world, and your mere presence in the Administration would restore America’s good will and make it easier for other countries to embrace our ideals. As such we would fight a smarter war on terrorism and would gain the needed cooperation from other nations.

Mr. Vice-President, you conjure up the affection from millions of Democrats and Independents as a result of the 2000 election fiasco and your statesmanlike post-Vice-President years when you rightly earned the Nobel Prize among other honors. You are popular with women and older voters who are crucial in battleground states. You will convince wavering Clinton supporters to support the ticket and add even more excitement from the electorate, including younger voters who applaud your concerns for their futures.

As important as those, I envision your role as vice-president would be significantly upgraded to reflect the new Administration’s commitment to climate change and energy independence. You recently challenged Americans on the need to use clean energy sources. As a partner in the Obama Administration, you would have an official platform to advocate the needed changes and to work directly with Congress to see them through.

While I am confident that Sen. Obama will prevail regardless of his running mate, I am concerned that the Republican fear and smear machine will effectively undercut him. The false rumors and lies that are perpetuated without any outrage from the McCain camp have already sullied a good man.

And these assaults just don’t solely stem from independent swift-boat types. Sen. McCain chided Sen. Obama for not visiting Iraq. Now he’s attacking him for doing so. When will this end?

This is where your position on the ticket would help mitigate the effects of the GOP’s tactics. You, along with Sen. Obama, will unify an emboldened Democratic Party and bring new voters to more than offset the ignorant, the racists, the homophobes and those who maintain that Iraq attacked us on September 11.

The path of an Obama-Gore administration will lead us to a sound economy, a sane tax policy, universal health care, improved education, a better chance for peace in the world, concrete steps to effect climate change, and yes, full equality for all my GLBT brothers and sisters.

A guy can dream, can’t he?

Monday, July 14, 2008

The New Yorker's Bad Judgement

Yes, The New Yorker is satirical. But its upcoming cover that depicts Barack and Michelle Obama in the manner they did was over the top. Why? Because it simply feeds into the false stereotypes that the right wing has been desperately trying to push in an effort to smear the Obamas.

Why shouldn't they? They have John McCain as their standard bearer. They know he cannot win unless the Obama family is demonized. And The New Yorker simply aids in that process--wittingly or not.

Keep in mind this is the country that was dumb enough to elect George W. Bush TWICE. A quarter of the electorate still thinks Iraq attacked us on September 11 and believes Iraq posed a military threat to us. They buy into this crap, and The New Yorker should know better. Never overestimate the intelligence of the American people.

Over 10% of the country according to a recent Newsweek poll believe Obama is Muslim. All this cartoon did was to spread the myth because the editor had to explain the purpose of the cover. When you have to explain satire, it is considered a failure.

According to MSNBC, Obama had been the focus of their covers by a 2 to 1 ratio over McCain since January. If the magazine wants to be fair about perpetuating falsehoods, why don't they sketch McCain dressed in a hospital gown in a nursing home wielding an M-16 chanting "My friends, the surge is working. The surge is working..." countless times.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

As we marched, nation marches towards equality

The following letter was published in July 10 edition of the Howard County Times/Columbia Flier:

In sharing in the celebration of our great nation's 232nd birthday, it was an honor for the Columbia/Howard County chapter of PFLAG-Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays-to participate for the first time in the 4th of July River Hill parade.

Over 20 members of our chapter marched with our neighbors up Great Star Drive to affirm one of the basic tenets in the Declaration of Independence to which we honor: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal."

Our group consisted of parents who have gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgendered children; gays and lesbians of all ages; same-sex couples in long-term relationships and those with toddlers of their own. Some live in the very River Hill neighborhood through which the parade took place.
We did not possess a fancy float, but we proudly marched behind our chapter's banner while waving American and rainbow flags and wishing all the spectators a Happy 4th.

As we passed by the large and diverse crowd and tossed tasty goodies to the many children, we were moved by the warm reception from the onlookers with a large number voicing their support and encouragement. We not only trumpeted our country, but we also celebrated the progress we are making towards achieving the Declaration's principles of full equality for all, though clearly much more progress is needed.

The recognition and good wishes we received on this glorious day were heartwarming, and PFLAG looks forward to marching with our neighbors again next year.

Steve Charing

Steve Charing is the media coordinator for PFLAG-Columbia/Howard County.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

McCain Just Being McCain?

When asked about the increase in US exports to Iran during the Bush Administration, with the largest export being cigarettes, McCain was reported to have said, “Maybe that’s a way of killing them,” he said, laughing, according to a pool report. “ This follows his "Bomb Bomb Bomb Iran "joke."

Why is it that the media brushes off McCain's flip and irresponsible remarks by saying, "Oh, it's McCain just being McCain"? Yet when Obama made those off-the-cuff "bitter" remarks at a supposedly private function, it dominated the news cycles for a month?
Think about it.
They won't admit it, but the press is definitely giving McCain a free ride on his missteps. Everything Obama does is under a microscope, however. And don't give me the "but we all know who McCain is and we know so little of Obama." That's a load of excrement.

The McCain of today is not the McCain of 2000. He has abandoned many of his once held principles to win an election, and now he acts like the drunken grandfather at a wedding with his disturbing jokes. hehehe

But the media still is working for him. Old memories won't die.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Pride Unifying For Us, Exploited by Others

By Steve Charing

The streets surrounding the Pride block party and parade have long been swept and trash picked up. Pieces of wrapped candy, rainbow trinkets, beads, plastic bottles, confetti—all gone now. The grounds at Druid Hill Park have also been restored to its former state. Although those remnants of Pride 2008 are no longer, the fond memories will stay with us.

On balance, this edition of Baltimore’s traditional June extravaganza was superb. I credit the outgoing Pride coordinator, Joel Rosado, as well as the GLCCB and the legions of volunteers who made for a smoothly run, professional and extraordinary weekend of June 21-22. Phone calls to Craig Wiley, executive director of the GLCCB to ascertain his perspective on Pride, were not returned.

The parade was kicked off by the campy high-heel race. The fabulous procession that featured gay and straight-owned businesses, lgbt organizations, political groups and other clubs actually began on time. Crowds lined the short parade route along both sides of Charles Street and cheered each float and cluster of marchers.

As soon as the parade ended, almost on cue, the block party began. Thousands packed narrow Eager Street made even narrower by the food and merchandise vendors. If you didn’t know the person pressed up against you, it was only a matter of time that you did.

The block party is always a fun event. If you can manage to slither up and down packed Eager Street, undoubtedly you will encounter an old friend or two who you have not seen since, well, last year’s Pride.

Drinks flowed; people consumed the array of aromatic food, and danced to the eclectic, high-energy music performed on stage at the intersection of Eager and Charles.

The next day’s festival in the park attracted thousands more. There was less partying and not quite as young a crowd that showed up on Saturday. It was more of a family atmosphere as many lgbt folks brought their children and, of course, dogs.

People came from all over Baltimore and beyond with some even venturing from Ohio to attend the festivities.

A variety of very good entertainers did their thing as people sat or laid out on the grassy field in front of the stage and relaxed on this warm, humid day that had been threatened by ominous weather forecasts.

Pride-goers meandered their way through the park’s trails to visit a wide variety of booths that presented such notable organizations as PFLAG, Equality Maryland, Chase-Brexton, Human Rights Campaign, and as a sign of things to come, Gays for Obama.

A group representing state District 43 was situated along side the comparable folks from District 45—both districts in Baltimore. They were there to organize lgbt and supportive residents in their respective districts to form a grass roots movement in an effort to secure marriage equality in Maryland.

Merchants peddled their wares and crafts. Food and drinks were in abundance. Affirming religious organizations had booths and tables to show that you can be gay and still be welcomed by churches and synagogues. Venerable groups like the OWLS, Prime Timers and C.O.M.M.A.N.D. were in force. Even newcomers to the festival like GAY.COM were there to give away T-shirts.

Naturally, thousands of gay people enjoying themselves could not be allowed to stand by a handful of Bible thumping zealots who can cite Leviticus but most likely can’t spell it. They were harassing the crowd early on, but they were skillfully and professionally forced by Security to conduct their unwanted preachings at the festival’s outer perimeter. Some festival-goers taunted the sign-waving goofballs which, unfortunately, gained them the attention they were so badly craving.

But they weren’t the only ones exploiting our Pride for political points. The day before, WBFF-45 was among the few media outlets that covered the parade. But some saw it as an opportunity for the FOX station to offer a platform for right wing, anti-gay conservatives.

Columbia residents Rob Lance and his partner of 30 years Tim Edwards were, along with some others, interviewed by the reporter on questions ranging from what marriage plans the couple may have in light of the California legalization of same-sex marriage to what Pride meant to them. Rob and Tim thoughtfully explained that if the amendment to California’s constitution failed in November, it would bring them that much closer to gaining marriage equality in Maryland—the preferred site of their marriage.

Much of the response, however, wound up on the cutting room floor. "I think WBFF reduced all those interviews down to basically nothing of substance while giving a platform to Don Dwyer to spew his venomous and vile anti-gay B.S.," fumed Lance. "Nice that they used Pride as well as California's ruling for marriage equality to let this dumbass do his usual shtick."

With this wonderful rainbow-laden Pride celebration fading in the rear-view mirror, our community must focus on some significant issues. For one thing, the disturbing news that HIV/AIDS is increasing among young men who have had sex with other men warrants attention. I think the younger members of the community are getting too lax and feel immortal—a dangerous attitude for those who scoff at unprotected sex. We need to push hard that barebacking is unclean and life threatening.

We also have an important election in November that will determine the chances of any success on the equality front. And we should do everything we can to help fend off the referendum in California, which would stop the marriages of same-sex couples.

Nonetheless, the enjoyment of Pride is still fresh. I had been interviewed at the festival by Washington, D.C. radio station WJFK. The reporter asked me what Pride meant to me. I essentially told him that it was a time for our diverse community to come together as one and celebrate all our accomplishments through the years and look towards the future.

During these two Pride days, at least, our community is unified with a common purpose. Others, however, don’t want to see that.