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Aug 2012 08

by Steven Whitney

During the past week, Republicans have fervently fanned the flames of our ongoing culture wars in order to distract, deflect, divide, and conquer. And, once again, it’s just in time to muddy the minds of an already half-hapless electorate just prior to a national election.

This time the battleground is Chick-fil-A – a chicken joint started in 1946, a time when taxes were high and small business start-ups flourished across the country. A few weeks ago, its President, Dan Cathy, publicly supported “the biblical definition of the family unit” and warned ominously that supporting same-sex marriage invites “God’s judgment on our nation.”

While I myself believe God looks very favorably on any marriage and family built on love and devotion, Mr. Cathy seems to think we’re in store for an apocalyptic display of His considerable wrath, not unlike Pat Robertson implying that Hurricane Katrina was God’s punishment for legalized abortion.

Cathy’s comments caused a backlash among fair-minded consumers, which then created predictable blowback from the Religious Right. A successful “Kiss-In” was held by GLBT organizers while Mike Huckabee orchestrated an equally successful “Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day” in response.

In a curious instance of parallel opposites, the last time fast food servers were in a big-time Human Rights skirmish was in 1960, when four young Black students began a sit-in at the local Woolworth’s lunch counter in Greensboro, North Carolina, spurring a nationwide challenge to racial inequality in the South. So a question must be asked: if he could fly back in time, would Mr. Huckabee have organized a “Segregated Lunch Counter Appreciation Day?”

At this point everyone on both sides has acted within the rights granted them by the First Amendment. And while some observers may seethe, as a nation we will stand tall or fall mightily on our protection and preservation of these primary rights.

Yet the most legally and morally troubling aspect of this brouhaha comes from two surprising sources: a handful of the nation’s mayors and The Huffington Post.

The only limitation in the First Amendment is that the government – local, state, or national – cannot restrict any of the rights granted within it.

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

But as if on cue, just when a small Chick-fil-A crisis was about to pass almost unnoticed into history, mayors from Boston, Chicago, D.C., San Francisco, and other cities shoved it into the spotlight by grandstanding pro-GLBT platforms and actually threatening the chicken franchise with bans of various sorts. While politicos generally pander to the electorate, this time they made things worse, not only by igniting a firestorm, but by changing the conversation. Now, instead of having to defend the indefensible – homophobia – Chick-fil-A has been pushed into the more just position of defending its First Amendment rights. From the big bully on the block, the mayors transformed both Dan Cathy and Chick-fil-A into martyrs to the cause of “traditional” marriage – hence, the veritable firestorm.

Rather than abuse political pressure, the mayors would be better advised to launch municipal investigations to determine if Chick-fil-A practices discrimination in hiring or any other areas of its business…and to advocate for legislation favoring all human rights, including passage of Gay Marriage acts. That is a legitimate use of political power. Remember, everything has a flip side – if government can punish a chicken joint for speaking out today, it can punish you for expressing opposite opinions tomorrow. That is why the First Amendment is inviolate.

The second troubling aspect of this ruckus was Noah Michelson’s misguided piece in The Huffington Post, one of our most influential political website. If he was just an independent blogger, I’d pass on commenting, but Mr. Michelson is listed as the editor of their Gay Voices section, so when he’s wrong, a lot of readers walk away misinformed.

In his article, Mr. Michelson states that Chick-fil-A‘s stance is not a First Amendment issue because it makes a lot of money and then donates millions to anti-gay causes. But I would imagine that Mr. Michelson also donates money he makes from his employment to pro-GLBT advocacy groups…and that is his right, just as it is the right of a private business and those who work for it to donate a portion of their earnings to charitable or political causes they believe in, as wrong-headed as they may be.

Secondly, Mr. Michelson more or less makes the ages-old argument that Chick-fil-A’s speech is too terrible to be protected. In support of that, he urges readers to link to selected sites, gaze at photos of beaten and murdered GLBTs, and read the tragic stories that accompany them. While only sociopaths could not be saddened and outraged by his examples, he’s still dead wrong, understandably reacting only with his emotions. (In trials of heinous crimes, certain photos are deemed inadmissible because of the inherently prejudicial nature they would provoke on jurors’ emotions.)

Mr. Michelson states that he is “in love with the First Amendment.” But it’s a dubious claim from someone who obviously does not fully understand it.

Freedom of speech – indeed, the entire First Amendment – applies equally to the best, most moral people and the worst, most indecent racist, homophobic, pedophiliac motherfuckers under American jurisdiction.

The Ku Klux Klan (KKK), as odious a group that has ever existed, marched 50,000 hooded members down Pennsylvania Avenue in our nation’s capital, protected by the First Amendment. Their supporters donated money to their evil brotherhood and the stories and photos of their torture, lynchings, and murders would turn the stomach of Hannibal Lechter.

An offshoot of George Lincoln Rockwell’s American Nazi movement planned a parade in Skokie, Illinois, home to a large community of Holocaust survivors. Yes, there was outrage – the reports and photos of the murder of six million were almost incomprehensible – but, as documented in When the Nazis Came to Skokie, the swastika-bearing marchers won support from the ACLU, the Supreme Court (citing First Amendment rights), and, surprisingly, leaders of Skokie’s Jewish community. Apparently, refugees from a totalitarian state knew more than anyone the importance of free speech.

If any group’s speech was ever too terrible to be considered free, I’d put the KKK and Nazi-wannabes at the top of the list. And yet, they still held that right because they were Americans, and in America we let everyone have their say and hope that facts, common sense, and decency prevails – that is who we are, or at least who we are supposed to be, as a nation. Rightly or wrongly, a democracy ultimately believes in its people.

Journalists who make a difference are those who act, not whine or threaten to jump out of the window if they hear one more reference to their opponent’s rights. Especially when bullies, cowards – and, in this case, chicken shits – hide behind a First Amendment cloak. Over the last thirty years, the GLBT movement has engineered the smartest, most admirable and effective campaign for human rights anywhere in the world. They did it by being aggressive – by showing solidarity in boycotts and expressing their First Amendment rights to protest through outrage and ridicule – not by crying when somebody said bad things about them. Gay Pride was and is pure genius and its effect has been positively felt in every part of the globe. Yes, there are still many battles to win, but if any group can truly overcome, I’d bet on the GLBTs. And I’d also wager they’ll do it without impeding the rights of those who are hell-bent on denying theirs.

Related Posts:
The Vagina Solution
Fighting Back Part 4: The Big Liar, Intimidation And Revenge
Fighting Back Part 3: Fighting Fire With Fire
When The Past Is Prologue
Fighting Back Part 2: Defining Rovian Politics
Fighting Back
The Electoral Scam
Being Fair
Occupy Reality
Giving. . . And Taking Back
A Tale Of Two Grovers
A Last Pitch For Truth
America: Forget it, Jake. It’s Chinatown.
Gotcha!

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Aug 2012 07

by Lee Camp

It all seems to be coming together into one. 90% of our media is owned by only six corporations. Every movie is about a super hero, and we act like the President is the only lawmaker who matters. How much further can things condense? Are we headed towards a cultural singularity? An end point?

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Aug 2012 01

by Steven Whitney

A few weeks ago, the Republican-controlled House of Representatives in Michigan sought to force into law some of the most restrictive anti-choice legislation in our country – placing onerous regulations on abortion providers and banning all abortions after 20 weeks.

Rep. Lisa Brown objected on religious grounds, arguing that her Jewish faith allowed for therapeutic abortions when the mother’s life is in danger, without regard to the length of pregnancy. And, during a heated debate on women’s reproductive health, she actually uttered the word “vagina.”

The reaction was swift – Republicans were so shocked by the word that Brown was banned from speaking on the floor for “violating the decorum of the House.”

“What she said was offensive,” said Republican Mike Callton. “It was so disgusting, so vile, I don’t even want to say it in front of women. I would not say that in mixed company.”

In the next day’s Detroit Free Press, Brown retorted: “If they are going to legislate my anatomy, I see no reason why I can’t mention it. After all, it is the medically correct term.”

If I were a woman I’d ask myself how anyone who thinks the word vagina is “vile and disgusting” could cast an unbiased vote on issues relating to women’s health care. But I’m not, and since these squeamish Republicans seem caught in a Peter Pan syndrome that forbids them from ever growing up, they need help in finding a word sufficiently acceptable for – well, you know – that thing…down there. Otherwise, the ages old Battle between the Sexes might just become a full-blown GOP War on Women.

Obviously, the c-word isn’t suitable. First of all, Republicans believe the c-word is compromise and, secondly, if vagina offends them, the actual c-word would give these pussies cardiac arrest.

Browsing through several online and hard copy thesauruses, there are literally hundreds (perhaps thousands) of street synonyms listed for vagina, some complimentary – slang like sugar, honey pot, sweet spot, tunnel of love – and others too vulgar to print in a family column. Some are neither naughty nor nice, but none really fill the bill, especially considering the unwanted trans-vaginal ultrasounds the GOP intends to force on women who want abortions – calling them trans-poontang scans would be a hard sell.

There’s less good news in the second most spoken language in America. The Spanish word for vagina is…la vagina. The same damn word, with the added insult of a feminine article preceding it. Feminine words in the esteemed halls of Congress – you must be kidding.

Of course, there are hundreds of Spanish street expressions, but just like in English there are none that fit every woman. While I can indeed envision Sarah Palin referring to her chocha, especially during one of those wild voodoo dance ceremonies which exorcises demons, I cannot see the more distinguished Senator Olympia Snowe calling hers a hoo-hoo.

So synonyms in either language fall short of our goal.

What if we used a symbolic representation – perhaps… a flower? Certainly not a Venus Fly Trap – Republicans are already too scared to even say the v-word, much less picture themselves devoured by it. We need something less threatening – say, an American Rose. It’s beautiful and opens wide in the morning sun. What more could any Republican want? But alas, a rose by any other name is still a rose. So that’s a wash.

Something from the internet? How about a yahoo? No, that’s what most Republicans shout when they finally get into a vagina…with the noted exception of the K Street mob. Or google? Sorry, but that would inalterably change the whole meaning of “googling” someone before a first date.

Maybe the art world has the answer. Like calling it an O’Keefe – or perhaps just a Georgia – as tribute to the woman who painted so much flora resembling the object of our attention. Then again, when Republicans actually look at her work, they find it “disturbing.”

A Picasso might be good, but he lived in France too long and we know the GOP considers all things French to be tres vulgaire. A Klimt sounds almost right – not many Republicans know what a real Klimt is anyway. Unfortunately, he was Viennese and the GOP probably wants its v-word moniker to sound American. Besides, another Viennese – Sigmund Freud – messed up their heads with all that dirty sex stuff when they were kids.

Since none of these suffice, perhaps the best possible solution is to rename the vagina after an esteemed servant of the people – like calling a hundred dollar bill a Benji because Benjamin Franklin’s picture adorns it.

Wait a second, I think we’re onto something…I’ve got it! A true eureka moment!

Eric Cantor!!

His last name is short and flexible and he’s undoubtedly the biggest actual c-word in Congressional history. Republicans everywhere could now speak openly about a woman’s cantor, even their infections (cantoritis) or cantoral discharges without fear of – as Rick Santorum would say – throwing up all over themselves in abject disgust. And, you have to admit, even trans-cantoral ultrasounds has a certain je ne sais quoi ring to it.

Eric Cantor himself should be proud. Examining his record and agenda, it’s clear that he has long aimed to become the public face of the c-word…and now it’s within his grasp. And how could any other Republican object? More than half the people on earth have one of these things and now it’s going to be rebranded as a cantor, in honor of one of their own.

It’s the perfect vagina solution.

Related Posts:
Fighting Back Part 4: The Big Liar, Intimidation And Revenge
Fighting Back Part 3: Fighting Fire With Fire
When The Past Is Prologue
Fighting Back Part 2: Defining Rovian Politics
Fighting Back
The Electoral Scam
Being Fair
Occupy Reality
Giving. . . And Taking Back
A Tale Of Two Grovers
A Last Pitch For Truth
America: Forget it, Jake. It’s Chinatown.
Gotcha!

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Jul 2012 26

by Lee Camp

If “naughty words” offend you, then for the love of God DO NOT WATCH THIS VIDEO! Well, actually, if naughty words offend you then maybe you need to watch this video more than anyone else. Seeing as you’re already on SuicideGirls.com, I can’t imagine curse words upset most of you. But perhaps there are other words that piss you off more than a word like “shit.” Let me know what they are in the comments section below!

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Jul 2012 25

by Steven Whitney

[The Fighting Back series began with a simple question: given their minority status for most of the last 80 years, why is the GOP so successful at winning elections? Exploring one answer, the series has first focused on Karl Rove’s free adaptation of Joseph Goebbels doctrines of PropagandaIndoctrination, Intimidation and Revenge, Distraction and Disinformation, and Divide and Conquer. In coming weeks, we’ll seek more answers in a myriad fields and offer solutions aimed at turning the tables on the party that favors corporations and the 1% over the vast majority of Americans.]

Through Fox News and other media outlets, Karl Rove has inculcated a false world view for the past dozen years through indoctrination tactics perfected by Joseph Goebbels, the former Minister of Public Enlightenment and Propaganda for Germany’s Third Reich.

How has he gotten away with it for so long? His resume reveals the answer: by intimidation and revenge – the true standards of “win at any cost” politics.

Certainly, part of the blame falls to those who were cajoled or browbeaten into compliance. As children, we’re taught to stand up to bullies, especially since they are essentially cowards…so it’s disheartening when elected officials fold their values under pressure (and, like the post-1994 Republican Congress, even became bullies themselves). But to be fair, Rove and his henchmen dish out frighteningly more punishment than a bloody nose.

In the late 1970s and early 1980s, drug kingpin Pablo Escobar employed a simple tactic that led Forbes magazine to list him as the world’s first narco–billionaire. Escobar would approach someone from whom he wanted something and offer them either silver (plata) or lead (plomo), meaning he would either make them very rich (silver) or riddle their body with bullets (lead). His plata o plomo strategy was copied quite literally by every subsequent cartel…and figuratively by Karl Rove, who adjusted it a notch for the American political arena.

As one White House aide put it: “Karl operates under the rule that if you fuck with us, we’ll fuck you over.”

In 1994, Rove-backed candidate Harold See ran for a Supreme Court seat in Alabama against Democrat Mark Kennedy, who had honorably served as president of the National Committee to Prevent Child Abuse and Neglect and whose commercials included a shot of him holding hands with at-risk children his group had literally saved. Enter Rove, who started a particularly malicious whispering campaign smearing Kennedy as a pedophile. The Atlantic Monthly’s Joshua Green correctly described the incident: “What Rove does is try and make something so bad for a family that the candidate will not subject the family to the hardship.”

That same year, George W. Bush ran for governor of Texas against incumbent Ann Richards, widely admired for the diversity of her administration. Soon, persistent rumors spread across the Lone Star state that Richards was a lesbian, several steps too far diversity-wise for Texans to venture at the time. Journalist Lou Dubose spotted a common Rove tactic: “Identify your opponent’s strength, and attack it so relentlessly that it becomes a liability.”

In 1991, while visiting one of Mother Theresa’s orphanages in Bangladesh, Cindy McCain spotted two sickly infants who, frankly, weren’t going to make it. On the spot, she decided to take them back home for medical treatment that saved both their lives. Two years later, John and Cindy McCain officially adopted one of the girls, Bridget, and arranged for the adoption of the other (Mickey) by the family of McCain aide Wes Gullet. For many, these were heroic acts of kindness and compassion…but to Karl Rove, they served merely as an opportunity to smear someone who stood in his way.

In 2000, Sen. McCain squared off against the Rove-controlled Bush in the Republican Presidential primaries. After McCain’s 18 point victory in New Hampshire, the smart money was on the Senator to win the nomination, especially as he held a 5 point lead heading into South Carolina. Rove cut into that margin with TV attacks implying that McCain’s days as a POW had left him mentally scarred (a real-life Manchurian candidate) and that Cindy was a drug addict. But then, asserted another White House aide, Rove devised the coup de grace – a fiendishly damaging question to ask Southerners via a phony poll: “Would you be more or less likely to vote for John McCain if you knew he had fathered an illegitimate black child?” Since McCain was barnstorming the state with Bridget, his dark-skinned daughter from Bangladesh, voters in this Old South state quickly began marching to the darkest of Rove’s tunes. Bush won South Carolina by a healthy margin and the race was essentially over.

Following his formula of hammering his opponent’s perceived strength, Rove had taken McCain’s admirable sense of character and turned it into a racist affront. It was a strategy so depraved only Rove could have stooped so low as to implement it – as noted by Meghan McCain: “Karl Rove is a pathetic excuse for a human being.”

Rove’s tactics in these scenarios incorporated the Big Lie, but he could bully with the truth, too – when he needed to.

In 2002, with America already at war in Afghanistan, the Bush administration tried desperately to produce even the flimsiest rationales for invading Iraq. Tipped to an unsubstantiated rumor that Niger had supplied Saddam Hussein with yellowcake uranium, the CIA asked former Ambassador to Iraq and 23 year Foreign Service veteran Joseph Wilson to investigate. After more than a week in Niger interviewing key players and examining technical information (including forged memos), Wilson correctly reported that the rumor was “highly unlikely.” Months went by and he thought the rumor had been discarded…until Bush cited it again in early 2003 as a compelling reason to invade Iraq. Wilson countered by writing an OpEd in the New York Times stating unequivocally that the yellowcake connection was highly suspect.

Almost immediately, Rove leaked to reporters Matt Cooper and Robert Novak that Wilson’s wife, Valerie Plame, was in fact a covert CIA agent specializing in WMD. It was the truth, of course, and once her cover was blown, Plame’s career was kaput. Never mind that Plame’s clandestine colleagues across the globe were put in grave danger and America lost its most effective nuclear intelligence operative. Bush got his “revenge” war (Hussein had put out a contract on W.’s father years before) and Rove got his revenge on Wilson, a man who refused to shade the truth for administration purposes. The cost was thousands of American lives, hundreds of thousands of Iraqi lives, and more than a trillion dollars spent on the Iraq war.

Of course, Rove’s actions were actionably treasonous in this case – the FBI even believed they had him nailed. But for some reason never adequately explained, Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald failed to prosecute Rove.

When pop-recording stars the Dixie Chicks publicly voiced their opposition to the Bush 2003 invasion of Iraq on stage, Karl went to work with his “Southern Strategy” friends. Soon, the Dixie Chicks were not only demonized and persona non grata at many venues and media outlets, with concerts cancelled and radio play diminished, they were even accused of treason via the underground rumor mill that Rove had long relied upon.

Rove’s hostile invective was even aimed to discredit whole countries. Just like in our own Revolutionary War, the French were our greatest allies in the War in Afghanistan. But they rightly wanted no part of Iraq; As bad as he was, they argued, Hussein did not attack the U.S. and there was no reliable evidence that he posed “a clear and present danger” to anyone, much less to the Western allies. France did not believe a country had the moral right to go to war just because its President wanted to, which pretty much sums up the Bush Doctrine. But by this time, Rove had convinced Bush he was “a war President,” and needed perpetual war (shades of 1984), so all things French became nearly traitorous (down to the absurd renaming of French Fries to Freedom Fries in the Senate cafeteria), and the build-up to Iraq II continued unabated.

When Senator John Kerry posed a credible threat to Bush’s re-election in 2004, Rove went after Kerry’s most obvious political asset by swiftboating his admirable Vietnam service. From a legitimate war hero, Kerry was turned into something akin to a Timothy McVey serial killer, while Bush, who went AWOL for about a year during the same era, literally strutted around in a flight suit with Commander-in-Chief emblazoned on its breast. Like a cherry atop an ice cream sundae, there was even widespread talk that Kerry somehow “looked French.”

Even the press was not immune to Rove’s intimidation tactics. First there were the wildly illegal wiretaps and surveillance by which the administration tracked “suspect” reporters. If any of the White House press corps still didn’t toe the line, Rove reduced their access to White House personnel in stages until they either came around or had no access at all and were necessarily replaced by their media employer. The message came through loud and clear – play Rove’s game or lose your job.

Rove is not going to change, and neither will his modus operandi. His inestimably low character and slimy strategies have been too successful (in the worst sense of the word) to alter.

But we can change. Politicians and journalists must be made of sterner stuff than we have seen in the last decade. We must start not only standing up to his intimidation tactics, but begin an all-out offensive against him – harsh, unyielding, and repeated endlessly, shouted from every media outlet and whispered in every dark corner of every American community. We must bloodlessly attack every particle of his loathsome being until he is thoroughly discredited and utterly destroyed. Until no one – not corporations, not his super rich amigos, no one – can afford to have anything to do with him. We must stomp on him until his reputation and his GOP architecture is dead. Then we must set fire to the remains to ensure that nothing arises from the ashes.

It’s plata o plomo without the silver, just the lead – the same game he plays but with one huge difference. Instead of spinning Big Lies, we have only to divulge and spread the truth – relentlessly, with a vengeance heretofore unimagined by liberal and progressive wusses. And repeat those truths over and over and over. We cannot rest until Karl Rove, and the willfully deceitful tactics he employs, are permanently interred in the graveyard of modern American politics.

Related Posts:
Fighting Back Part 3: Fighting Fire With Fire
When The Past Is Prologue
Fighting Back Part 2: Defining Rovian Politics
Fighting Back
The Electoral Scam
Being Fair
Occupy Reality
Giving. . . And Taking Back
A Tale Of Two Grovers
A Last Pitch For Truth
America: Forget it, Jake. It’s Chinatown.
Gotcha!

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