AMERICAblog NewsChris Andoe – AMERICAblog News http://americablog.com A great nation deserves the truth // One of America's top progressive sites for news and opinion Wed, 18 Jul 2018 21:38:51 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.8.7 It’s time for a somber national discussion about [INSERT LATEST MASS SHOOTING HERE] http://americablog.com/2018/05/its-time-for-a-somber-national-discussion-about-insert-latest-mass-shooting-here.html http://americablog.com/2018/05/its-time-for-a-somber-national-discussion-about-insert-latest-mass-shooting-here.html#respond Fri, 18 May 2018 15:39:06 +0000 http://americablog.com/?p=144407 This story, first published years ago, was inspired by some American mass-shooting long-forgotten. Sadly, we are forced to republish it on a regular basis. It’s time to have a somber national discussion about the [insert shooting tragedy here] tragedy. Before we get started, let’s go over a few basic ground rules. 1. In the wake of […]

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This story, first published years ago, was inspired by some American mass-shooting long-forgotten. Sadly, we are forced to republish it on a regular basis.

It’s time to have a somber national discussion about the [insert shooting tragedy here] tragedy.

Before we get started, let’s go over a few basic ground rules.

1. In the wake of the __________ tragedy, it’s time for us all to come together as a nation and not assign blame. This is not the time, for example, to talk about how it’s easier to purchase a gun in America than it is to vote, or buy French cheese. I fact-checked the graphic below, it’s for real:

GUNS-CHEESE

And I quote White House spokesman Jary Carney, speaking about the murder at Sandy Hook school in Newtown, Connecticut of at least 18 young children:

“I’m sure [there] will be rather a day for discussion of the usual Washington policy debates,but I don’t think today is that day,” Carney said.

Fortunately, President Obama’s subsequent statement was better.

GOP House Speaker Paul Ryan was true to for: “[Now] is not the time to jump to some conclusion [on legislation].”

Then there’s Trump White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders: “The only person with blood on their hands is the shooter. This isn’t a time for us to go after individuals or organizations.”

2. And we won’t tolerate any second guessing of the Second Amendment right to carry assault weapons, or questions about how the Framers could have possibly envisaged an assault rifle over 200 years ago, or why a “hunter” needs six thousand rounds of ammunition, or kevlar, or smoke grenades to kill a pheasant.

Open Carry gun owner at JC Penney store in Utah

Open -carry gun owner at JC Penney store in Utah. What could possibly go wrong?

3. While the shooter may have been inspired by political fliers showing the victim in cross hairs, or may have come unhinged by inflammatory rhetoric about how said victim was coming for the shooter’s guns, discussing such motivation at this sensitive moment would be completely inappropriate. Not to mention, disrespectful to the __________ victims.

Sarah Palin showed US Rep. Gabby Giffords' district in crosshairs shortly before Giffords was shot in the head and nearly killed in an assassination attempt.

Sarah Palin showed US Rep. Gabby Giffords’ district in crosshairs shortly before Giffords was shot in the head and nearly killed in an assassination attempt.

4. If the tragedy involved someone flying a plane into a government building, or for that matter blowing up a government building, now is not the time to discuss people like Rush Limbaugh or Sean Hannity or Donald Trump (no names, please), or Republicans generally (no political parties, please), incessantly trying to convince their audience that any government official, agency, or entire branch of government is evil and/or “un-American” and/or out to get them or our country or our freedom.

drudge-hitler-obama-stalin-578x500

5. And definitely don’t mention the Republican party’s frequent claim and/or insinuation, including suggestions from the GOP candidate himself, Mitt Romney, that the sitting Democratic President is a socialist, which in American parlance actually means “communist,” which actually means “Soviet,” which was America’s deadliest enemy out for our utter destruction.

Sure, it would be entirely understandable why someone would take up arms against a Soviet takeover of the United States, but a Democrat said something mean once about a Republican’s dog, or something, so aren’t both parties really to blame, thus making the charge moot?

tea party

Tea Party rally. The Islamic symbol at the bottom right of the poster is a nice touch. Ira Bostic / Shutterstock.com

6. Never, ever mention the NRA.  Sure, they’ve proven themselves, time and again, incapable of passing laws that effectively keep guns out of the hands of crazy mass murderers, but that’s no reason to blame them for the _______ tragedy because it’s just too early to cast blame on anyone other than the shooter, who was obviously crazy, and thus this month’s anomaly.

Now, let’s discuss for a moment the race of the shooter and the race of the victims.

7. If the ______________ tragedy involved angry white men opening fire on brown people of faith, this is definitely not the time to replay clips of bombastic commentators and politicians getting white men in places like Kansas whipped into a frenzy over Manhattan’s zoning criteria for non-Christian houses of worship.

8. But feel free to discuss if all brown people, and thus the shooter, or his victims, were Muslims – sorry, I meant to say “radical Islamists.”  And even if neither was a Muslim, make sure you discuss that point incessantly – Muslim, Muslim, Muslim, Muslim – so as to eventually sow suspicion in the public’s mind as to whether there really is a Muslim angle to this story.

9. Speaking of which, this is not the time to discuss the more general fear mongering around words like “Muslim,” including the ongoing, successful, attempt by Republicans to convince their base that our dark-skinned former President is one.

Okay, I think we’re ready now to discuss the ______________ tragedy.

First off: It is entirely acceptable for a Republican to opine that the tragedy could have been averted had the victims all been armed (please disregard previous tragedies where armed police officers, or members of the military, were themselves injured by the shooter).

Second: Poignant, but ultimately meaningless, gestures such as lighting tragedy candles at nighttime vigils, and posting anti-gun petitions on Change.org, are to be encouraged.

Finally: Clutch your pearls, and all together now, ask the purely rhetorical question: “How could this happen?”

Forty-eight hours after the shooting, return to talking about Trump’s tweets and the latest Kardashian wedding until the next shooting occurs, then refer to point 1 above.

PS: If the victims of the ___________tragedy were black, ignore the above restrictions and take up a collection for the shooter’s defense fund.

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It’s time for a somber national discussion about [INSERT LATEST MASS SHOOTING HERE] http://americablog.com/2018/02/time-somber-national-discussion-insert-latest-mass-shooting.html http://americablog.com/2018/02/time-somber-national-discussion-insert-latest-mass-shooting.html#comments Wed, 14 Feb 2018 23:00:58 +0000 http://americablog.com/?p=143934 This story, first published years ago, was inspired by some American mass-shooting long-forgotten. Sadly, we are forced to republish it on a regular basis. It’s time to have a somber national discussion about the [insert shooting tragedy here] tragedy. Before we get started, let’s go over a few basic ground rules. 1. In the wake of […]

The post It’s time for a somber national discussion about [INSERT LATEST MASS SHOOTING HERE] appeared first on AMERICAblog News.

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This story, first published years ago, was inspired by some American mass-shooting long-forgotten. Sadly, we are forced to republish it on a regular basis.

It’s time to have a somber national discussion about the [insert shooting tragedy here] tragedy.

Before we get started, let’s go over a few basic ground rules.

1. In the wake of the __________ tragedy, it’s time for us all to come together as a nation and not assign blame. This is not the time, for example, to talk about how it’s easier to purchase a gun in America than it is to vote (or buy French cheese). I fact-checked the graphic below, it’s for real:

GUNS-CHEESE

And I quote White House spokesman Jary Carney, speaking about the murder at Sandy Hook school in Newtown, Connecticut of at least 18 young children:

“I’m sure [there] will be rather a day for discussion of the usual Washington policy debates,but I don’t think today is that day,” Carney said.

Fortunately, the President’s subsequent statement was better.

2. And we won’t tolerate any second guessing of the Second Amendment right to carry assault weapons, or questions about how the Framers could have possibly envisaged an assault rifle over 200 years ago, or why a “hunter” needs six thousand rounds of ammunition, or kevlar, or smoke grenades to kill a pheasant.

Open Carry gun owner at JC Penney store in Utah

Open -carry gun owner at JC Penney store in Utah. What could possibly go wrong?

3. While the shooter may have been inspired by political fliers showing the victim in cross hairs, or may have come unhinged by inflammatory rhetoric about how said victim was coming for the shooter’s guns, discussing such motivation at this sensitive moment would be completely inappropriate. Not to mention, disrespectful to the __________ victims.

Sarah Palin showed US Rep. Gabby Giffords' district in crosshairs shortly before Giffords was shot in the head and nearly killed in an assassination attempt.

Sarah Palin showed US Rep. Gabby Giffords’ district in crosshairs shortly before Giffords was shot in the head and nearly killed in an assassination attempt.

4. If the tragedy involved someone flying a plane into a government building, or for that matter blowing up a government building, now is not the time to discuss people like Rush Limbaugh or Sean Hannity (no names, please), or Republicans generally (no political parties, please), incessantly trying to convince their audience that the occupant of the White House, or any government official, agency, or entire branch of government is evil and/or “un-American” and/or out to get them or our country or our freedom.

drudge-hitler-obama-stalin-578x500

5. And definitely don’t mention the Republican party’s frequent claim and/or insinuation, including suggestions from the GOP candidate himself, Mitt Romney, that the sitting Democratic President is a socialist, which in American parlance actually means “communist,” which actually means “Soviet,” which was America’s deadliest enemy out for our utter destruction.

Sure, it would be entirely understandable why someone would take up arms against a Soviet takeover of the United States, but a Democrat said something mean once about a Republican’s dog, or something, so aren’t both parties really to blame, thus making the charge moot?

tea party

Tea Party rally. The Islamic symbol at the bottom right of the poster is a nice touch. Ira Bostic / Shutterstock.com

6. Never, ever mention the NRA.  Sure, they’ve proven themselves, time and again, incapable of passing laws that effectively keep guns out of the hands of crazy mass murderers, but that’s no reason to blame them for the _______ tragedy because it’s just too early to cast blame on anyone other than the shooter, who was obviously crazy, and thus this month’s anomaly.

Now, let’s discuss for a moment the race of the shooter and the race of the victims.

7. If the ______________ tragedy involved angry white men opening fire on brown people of faith, this is definitely not the time to replay clips of bombastic commentators and politicians getting white men in places like Kansas whipped into a frenzy over Manhattan’s zoning criteria for non-Christian houses of worship.

8. But feel free to discuss if all brown people, and thus the shooter, or his victims, were Muslims – sorry, I meant to say “radical Islamists.”  And even if neither was a Muslim, make sure you discuss that point incessantly – Muslim, Muslim, Muslim, Muslim – so as to eventually sow suspicion in the public’s mind as to whether there really is a Muslim angle to this story.

9. Speaking of which, this is not the time to discuss the more general fear mongering around words like “Muslim,” including the ongoing, successful, attempt by Republicans to convince their base that our dark-skinned President is one.

Okay, I think we’re ready now to discuss the ______________ tragedy.

First off: It is entirely acceptable for a Republican to opine that the tragedy could have been averted had the victims all been armed (please disregard previous tragedies where armed police officers, or members of the military, were themselves injured by the shooter).

Second: Poignant, but ultimately meaningless, gestures such as lighting tragedy candles at nighttime vigils, and posting anti-gun petitions on Change.org, are to be encouraged.

Finally: Clutch your pearls, and all together now, ask the purely rhetorical question: “How could this happen?”

Forty-eight hours after the shooting, return to talking about the Olympics and the latest Kardashian wedding until the next shooting occurs, then refer to point 1 above.

PS: If the victims of the ___________tragedy were black, ignore the above restrictions and take up a collection for the shooter’s defense fund.

The post It’s time for a somber national discussion about [INSERT LATEST MASS SHOOTING HERE] appeared first on AMERICAblog News.

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It’s time for a somber national discussion about [insert latest mass shooting here] http://americablog.com/2017/10/lets-discuss-the-insert-shooting-tragedy-here-tragedy.html http://americablog.com/2017/10/lets-discuss-the-insert-shooting-tragedy-here-tragedy.html#comments Mon, 02 Oct 2017 14:00:00 +0000 http://dontaskdontgive.com/2012/08/lets-discuss-the-insert-shooting-tragedy-here-tragedy.html Another mass-murder in America by gunfire. It's time for candlelight vigils & other meaningless gestures.

The post It’s time for a somber national discussion about [insert latest mass shooting here] appeared first on AMERICAblog News.

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This story, was first published years ago, inspired by some American mass-shooting long-forgotten. Sadly, we are forced to republish it on a regular basis.

It’s time to have a somber national discussion about the [insert shooting tragedy here] tragedy.

Before we get started, let’s go over a few basic ground rules.

1. In the wake of the __________ tragedy, it’s time for us all to come together as a nation and not assign blame. This is not the time, for example, to talk about how it’s easier to purchase a gun in America than it is to vote (or buy French cheese). I fact-checked the graphic below, it’s for real:

french-cheese-and-guns-correctedx

And I quote White House spokesman Jary Carney, speaking about the murder at Sandy Hook school in Newtown, Connecticut of at least 18 young children:

“I’m sure [there] will be rather a day for discussion of the usual Washington policy debates,but I don’t think today is that day,” Carney said.

Fortunately, the President’s subsequent statement was better.

2. And we won’t tolerate any second guessing of the Second Amendment right to carry assault weapons, or questions about how the Framers could have possibly envisaged an assault rifle over 200 years ago, or why a “hunter” needs six thousand rounds of ammunition, or kevlar, or smoke grenades to kill a pheasant.

Open Carry gun owner at JC Penney store in Utah

Open -carry gun owner at JC Penney store in Utah. What could possibly go wrong?

3. While the shooter may have been inspired by political fliers showing the victim in cross hairs, or may have come unhinged by inflammatory rhetoric about how said victim was coming for the shooter’s guns, discussing such motivation at this sensitive moment would be completely inappropriate. Not to mention, disrespectful to the __________ victims.

Sarah Palin showed US Rep. Gabby Giffords' district in crosshairs shortly before Giffords was shot in the head and nearly killed in an assassination attempt.

Sarah Palin showed US Rep. Gabby Giffords’ district in crosshairs shortly before Giffords was shot in the head and nearly killed in an assassination attempt.

4. If the tragedy involved someone flying a plane into a government building, or for that matter blowing up a government building, now is not the time to discuss people like Rush Limbaugh or Sean Hannity (no names, please), or Republicans generally (no political parties, please), incessantly trying to convince their audience that the occupant of the White House, or any government official, agency, or entire branch of government is evil and/or “un-American” and/or out to get them or our country or our freedom.

drudge-hitler-obama-stalin-578x500

5. And definitely don’t mention the Republican party’s frequent claim and/or insinuation, including suggestions from the GOP candidate himself, Mitt Romney, that the sitting Democratic President is a socialist, which in American parlance actually means “communist,” which actually means “Soviet,” which was America’s deadliest enemy out for our utter destruction.

Sure, it would be entirely understandable why someone would take up arms against a Soviet takeover of the United States, but a Democrat said something mean once about a Republican’s dog, or something, so aren’t both parties really to blame, thus making the charge moot?

tea party

Tea Party rally. The Islamic symbol at the bottom right of the poster is a nice touch. Ira Bostic / Shutterstock.com

6. Never, ever mention the NRA.  Sure, they’ve proven themselves, time and again, incapable of passing laws that effectively keep guns out of the hands of crazy mass murderers, but that’s no reason to blame them for the _______ tragedy because it’s just too early to cast blame on anyone other than the shooter, who was obviously crazy, and thus this month’s anomaly.

Now, let’s discuss for a moment the race of the shooter and the race of the victims.

7. If the ______________ tragedy involved angry white men opening fire on brown people of faith, this is definitely not the time to replay clips of bombastic commentators and politicians getting white men in places like Kansas whipped into a frenzy over Manhattan’s zoning criteria for non-Christian houses of worship.

8. But feel free to discuss if all brown people, and thus the shooter, or his victims, were Muslims – sorry, I meant to say “radical Islamists.”  And even if neither was a Muslim, make sure you discuss that point incessantly – Muslim, Muslim, Muslim, Muslim – so as to eventually sow suspicion in the public’s mind as to whether there really is a Muslim angle to this story.

9. Speaking of which, this is not the time to discuss the more general fear mongering around words like “Muslim,” including the ongoing, successful, attempt by Republicans to convince their base that our dark-skinned President is one.

Okay, I think we’re ready now to discuss the ______________ tragedy.

First off: It is entirely acceptable for a Republican to opine that the tragedy could have been averted had the victims all been armed (please disregard previous tragedies where armed police officers, or members of the military, were themselves injured by the shooter).

Second: Poignant, but ultimately meaningless, gestures such as lighting tragedy candles at nighttime vigils, and posting anti-gun petitions on Change.org, are to be encouraged.

Finally: Clutch your pearls, and all together now, ask the purely rhetorical question: “How could this happen?”

Forty-eight hours after the shooting, return to talking about the Olympics and the latest Kardashian wedding until the next shooting occurs, then refer to point 1 above.

PS: If the victims of the ___________tragedy were black, ignore the above restrictions and take up a collection for the shooter’s defense fund.

The post It’s time for a somber national discussion about [insert latest mass shooting here] appeared first on AMERICAblog News.

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“Gateway Pundit” Jim Hoft’s repulsive ploy to use Orlando to benefit Trump http://americablog.com/2016/06/gateway-pundit-jim-hofts-repulsive-ploy-use-orlando-benefit-trump.html http://americablog.com/2016/06/gateway-pundit-jim-hofts-repulsive-ploy-use-orlando-benefit-trump.html#comments Thu, 16 Jun 2016 15:50:52 +0000 http://americablog.com/?p=137997 How freaking dare you use the deaths of 49 largely Latino and Black people to push your wretched agenda?

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After spending his professional life stoking venom against LGBT people, “Gateway Pundit” Jim Hoft, famously dubbed “The Dumbest Man on the Internet” for his shoddy reporting standards and conspiracy peddling, and reviled in St. Louis for mocking an activist who died from breast cancer, decided the Orlando tragedy was the perfect opportunity to come out of the closet and usher the mourning LGBT Community into the waiting arms of Donald J. Trump.

So glad those 49 horrific deaths could be put to good use.

Hoft writes:

I came out in the 1980s to family and friends during the AIDS epidemic. I saw a lot of friends get sick. I saw a lot of friends die. I went to a lot of funerals.

It was a scary time to be gay.

Like most gay Americans, I don’t wear my sexuality on my sleeve. I go about my daily business. I try not to harm anyone. I love my family. I love my friends. I love my country.

I’ve been a conservative activist for years. But today I’m coming out as a conservative gay activist.

In the past few years I’ve built one of the most prominent conservative websites in America. I created The Gateway Pundit because I wanted to speak the truth. I wanted to expose the wickedness of the left. I was raised to love my country. Today I serve my country by defending her from the socialist onslaught.

But last night at least 49 gays were slaughtered at an Orlando club.

Despite this obvious Islamic attack, Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton are still in denial.

I can no longer remain silent as my gay brothers and sisters are being slaughtered at dance clubs.

There is only one man who can lead this nation and protect all gays and all Americans. His name is Donald Trump.

In 2015 a conservative Supreme Court granted gays the right to marry.

In 2016 only one candidate will protect gays from another Islamist attack.

I pray that gays will come back home to the Republican Party – no more death.

Dear God, please no more death.

It’s really hard to explain just how wretched Hoft is without picking up my computer and slamming it against the wall. This is someone who tried to take down GLSEN (Gay Lesbian Straight Education Network), an organization devoted to helping gay high school students avoid bullying, by claiming GLSEN taught fisting (a sex act) techniques to fourteen year old kids, and handed out “fisting kits” and recommended about first graders having orgies.

Here’s a sampling of Gateway Pundit’s GLSEN stories:

gateway-pundit-anti-gay-stories

And here are a few more Gateway Pundit stories:

by default 2016-06-16 at 11.09.41 AMby default 2016-06-16 at 11.07.51 AM

And, my personal favorite, here is how Hoft, a gay man, welcomed the historic news that President Obama had nominated the first openly-gay Secretary of the Army:

by default 2016-06-16 at 11.13.32 AM

You get the idea.

Hoft routinely promotes the work of disreputable anti-gay hate group MassResistance, designated a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center, to bring down GLSEN founder Kevin Jennings when the Obama Administration appointed the openly -ay educator Assistant Deputy Secretary for the Office of Safe and Drug-Free Schools.

Few hate LGBT people like Hoft’s BFF and MassResistance founder Brian Camenker, who denied gays and lesbians were killed in the Holocaust (the US Holocaust Museum says otherwise), claimed that the gay agenda included legalizing bestiality, traveled to Jamaica to encourage the nation to pass laws criminalizing homosexuality, and who has viciously fought against anti-bullying and suicide prevention programs aimed at LGBT youth. Camenker’s organization lauded a book that claims gays were behind the Holocaust. It’s beyond despicable that Hoft, a gay man, promoted Camenker, the worst of the worst when it comes to anti-gay hate.

It’s also sadly telling that Camenker and his hate group are still promoted all over Hoft’s Web site. It’s one thing if Hoft repented for promoting anti-gay hate groups. It’s quite another when Hoft is still giving them oxygen. To this day, there are still 120 stories on Hoft’s Web site that mention MassResistance:

by default 2016-06-16 at 11.42.26 AM

Jim Hoft hatched and ill-conceived plan to lure a mourning LGBT Community to endorse Trump.

Jim Hoft hatched and ill-conceived plan to lure a mourning LGBT Community to endorse Trump.

Hoft missed no opportunity to spread rumors about anti-bullying efforts either, using his blog to claim an Anti-Bullying Conference was mostly focused on how to satisfy sexual partners.

Charles Johnson at Little Green Footballs has a great deal of history with Hoft, who retaliated against Johnson’s fact checking by smearing Johnson with accusations of supporting porn and fisting kits in classrooms.

On Hoft’s pitch to lure LGBT people to the Republican party with a rich history of demonizing them, Johnson writes:

The idea that gays should “come home” to the Republican Party is so delusional it beggars description; this is the party whose presidential candidates openly endorse a far right pastor who thinks gays should be executed, a party that works ceaselessly to deny basic rights to LGBT people, a party that has tried for years to pass amendments to the US Constitution that would permanently ban gay marriage, etc., etc. The list of Republican anti-gay positions is practically endless.

For Hoft to say he “tries not to harm anyone” and wants to “speak the truth,” well — wow. Again, this is the guy who for years has been propagating every fake and/or dishonest right wing conspiracy theory that bubbles out of the fever swamp, a guy who spread a completely phony story that the cop who shot Michael Brown in Ferguson had suffered major injuries after being attacked by Brown and used a crudely altered version of a CT scan to do it, a guy who often cites white supremacist websites and has even plagiarized them for his crummy right wing blog, a guy who often refers to black protesters with dehumanizing terms like “roaches.”

It’s not surprising that Hoft stepped off the stage at his ridiculous debutante ball and face-planted. Comments across social media and the blogosphere have been unforgiving, and rightfully so.

What got to me the most was his audacity to use the line “my gay brothers and sisters.” I ain’t your brother, buddy. The “We” in We Are Family doesn’t include you and never will. You’ve gleefully spent your pitiful life polishing the shoes of those demonizing and dehumanizing us to win elections. You’ve perpetrated the nastiest smears about our community, including that we prey on children. And you’ve never recanted any of them.

Like you, I live in St. Louis. But unlike you, who have been completely absent from our LGBT community aside from attacking us, I know who really made the history you seek to exploit. People like Michael Mullen, who founded PAWS after finding pets dead from starvation in the homes of AIDS patients. People like Daniel Flier, who co-founded St. Louis Effort for AIDS and personally bathed countless patients rotting in their own urine and feces because hospitals wouldn’t touch them.

And how freaking dare you use the deaths of 49 largely Latino and Black people to push your wretched agenda? You’re a cheap, shameless and desperate hack representing a cheap, shameless and desperate party. A party whose nominee is a peddler of cheap suits, and a party whose constituents think political action is sitting in the drive-thru at Chick-fil-A. 

You will NEVER be one of us. And neither will your dominatrix daddy, Donald Trump.

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Facebook OK with stalker’s AIDS allegations http://americablog.com/2016/05/facebook-ok-stalkers-aids-allegations.html http://americablog.com/2016/05/facebook-ok-stalkers-aids-allegations.html#comments Sun, 01 May 2016 20:00:51 +0000 http://americablog.com/?p=137117 Facebook stands by man claiming a drag queen has AIDS

The post Facebook OK with stalker’s AIDS allegations appeared first on AMERICAblog News.

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Drag queens have had a turbulent relationship with Facebook as of late, most notably the real-name controversy resulting in many performers losing the ability to use their drag names on the site, along with the company’s questionable “fixes” to the problems that policy created.

Now, the St. Louis LGBT community is in an uproar after Facebook repeatedly refused to pull the posts of a local man accusing a beloved entertainer of having AIDS. The man, who is banned from every drag bar in town, is also operating a bogus fan page to defame and harass the two entertainers in his crosshairs.

The twisted saga of the man’s fixation with entertainers Jade Sinclair and Janessa Highland can be found here, but after driving over a hundred miles to watch to two perform, the man, who identifies as heterosexual, became obsessed with ruining them any way possible. This includes trying to get them fired from jobs through online trolling, spreading rumors involving venues closing and health code violations, making claims about HIV status, threatening to bring a knife to the club and, bizarrely, vowing to become a drag queen himself — some sort of superior, evil twin of Highland.

Here are a few examples of statuses reported dozens of times, but deemed acceptable by Facebook:

AIDS claim AIDS 2fan page

Darin Slyman, CEO of Vital Voice Magazine, the state’s largest and oldest LGBT publication, had the following to say when reached at his branch office in Kansas City.

It’s baffling and unacceptable that Facebook refuses to take action against this abusive behavior, but it has been great to see the way the community has rallied to support these entertainers.

Show Director Jade Sinclair

Show Director Jade Sinclair

ab highland

“Queen of Controversy” Janessa Highland

When Super Gay Radio personality Paul InMass received Facebook’s response that accusing someone of having AIDS doesn’t violate Facebook’s Community Standards, he sent a scathing reply:

emery replyFalsely accusing someone of having AIDS and creating a page solely for harassment is disgusting that it doesn’t violate community standards. Would it be the same result if someone made a harassment page for Mark Zuckerberg claiming he has AIDS? If so I know some people who would be happy to start one.

 

For Sinclair and Highland, their Facebook-sanctioned harassment shows no signs of stopping.

today

But trolling is the least of their concerns at the moment. Although he’s banned from venues for his abusive behavior and threats of approaching the stage with a knife, Pedersen  posted an update suggesting he was in the audience of a recent show.

latest

Two main critiques of Facebook have been that they’re a nanny state and that their policies are arbitrarily enforced, but after rejecting demands that Pedersen, his fan page or even individual posts be removed, it seems the nanny is off somewhere hitting a pipe.

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The night Ferguson burned http://americablog.com/2015/11/the-night-ferguson-burned.html http://americablog.com/2015/11/the-night-ferguson-burned.html#comments Tue, 24 Nov 2015 16:30:28 +0000 http://americablog.com/?p=134254 An excerpt from Delusions of Grandeur recounting last year's protests.

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One year ago, the St. Louis region burned in the wake of the grand jury decision not to indict officer Darren Wilson for the shooting death of unarmed teen Michael Brown. I was back in the area as a result of the turmoil in my own life, triggered by the implosion of a 14-year relationship which spurred me to leave my home and career in the Bay Area for a failed reboot in New York, and then decide to downshift and return to St. Louis to finish my book, Delusions of Grandeur.

Following is the excerpt from my book regarding the events of that night.

Over a hundred days passed since unarmed teen Michael Brown was shot and killed by Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson, and as the region braced for the grand jury’s decision on whether to indict Wilson, it became popular to speculate about the coming storm. The public was whipped into a frenzy by the media, particularly the false reports from local right wing blowhards like “The Arch City Pundit,” who circulated a fake list claiming the protesters planned to shut down the region’s hospitals. PD Ferg

I’m not scared of much. I’ve walked from San Francisco’s gritty Tenderloin to the pre-gentrified Mission drunk, many times. I’ve wandered alone all over NYC at fifteen, back before Manhattan turned into Disneyland. I’ve strolled past ruins in Detroit. I’ve climbed through the pitch black basements of abandoned buildings and have been to the East St. Louis projects at two in the morning.

When something is perceived to be scary I often make a beeline to check it out. That’s also how I’ve made some great friends.

I wasn’t going to hide from protests. This was my city, and I wanted to see what was happening and talk to the people. My cosmopolitan friend Karen, a professor who divided her time between her hometown of St. Louis and her husband’s hometown of Milan, Italy, had been reading and offering feedback on this book. I invited her to join me in going up to meet the Ferguson demonstrators who’d been camped out along New Florissant Road around the clock for months.

It was a drizzly night, and we first went to dinner at the Ferguson Brewing Company, a microbrewery a few blocks from the encampment, and then drove up to find a group of about a dozen holding down the corner. Florence, a heavy Black woman in her sixties, sat on a cooler wearing a disposable poncho while commiserating with Dan, a white man also in his sixties, about eyesight problems, particularly when driving at night. Behind the cooler was a bottle of Orange Crush and a bucket of soup.

“Would you like some soup?” a young man offered.

We’d just pissed away a chunk of money on dinner and drinks, and it was humbling that this scrappy group of people, who were feared and vilified in the media, were offering to feed us.

“How does it feel to be the most feared group of people in the country right now?” I asked Florence and Ed, while a diverse cluster of twenty-somethings stood behind them.

“The media needs a villain,” Florence replied.

We then drove to Canfield Green, where Mike Brown was shot and a memorial was set up in the middle of the road. We passed boarded up businesses where artist Damon Davis plastered posters of raised hands, images that were being shown in galleries as far away as Boston.

The creativity coming out of the region was getting national and international attention. London’s Daily Mail marveled at the elegant protest of song that interrupted the St. Louis Symphony, with protesters singing “Which side are you on?” as banners demanding justice for Mike Brown unfurled from the balcony. Chalk outlines symbolizing unarmed black men shot by police, a concept created by St. Louis artist Mallory Nezam, had spread around the world. The cutting edge .Mic proclaimed, “Ferguson Now Has the Most Powerful Street Art in America” and the Ferguson Protesters were in the running for Time’s Person of the Year.

There was no bigger critic of the city than my estranged husband Damon, who was raised within a mile of Ferguson, and even he gave a nod. “There’s a lot of good work happening in St. Louis right now.”

On a Monday afternoon it was announced that the Grand Jury reached their verdict, and the announcement would be delivered at eight that evening.

Businesses around the region that hadn’t done so already boarded up their windows, especially in Ferguson and in Clayton, the county seat. Local governments and businesses closed early. My dog groomer and several others I knew fled for the countryside.

I knew I had to be in Ferguson.

I called John Aravosis to let him know I would cover the events for AMERICAblog, and then asked Karen, who was preparing to return to Milan, if she’d like to join me.

Hundreds of protesters shut down New Florissant Road through the heart of Ferguson while reporters from around the world mingled. Chants included, “We’ve got nothing to lose but our chains,” and, “Stop killing our kids.”

I sent photos to Aravosis, but he asked for video. My phone didn’t have enough memory, so I had to decide right then whether to delete hundreds of photos from the past year or two. Photos from the California coast, from my cross country trip, from my time in New York. All pictures symbolizing past lives and what I’d traded to be where I was standing.

FergusonI was near a beat up, graffiti covered car in the middle of the street that was serving as a stage for several protest leaders who stood in anticipation of the verdict. Quiet fell over the crowd as Brown’s mother, Lesley McSpadden, climbed atop the car to stand with half a dozen others as the Prosecuting Attorney read his long, meandering statement, which was broadcast over loudspeakers. Before most of us heard it, she shook her head as tears rolled down her face.

“Defend himself from what? From what? Tell me that!” she yelled in response to the assertion that the officer acted in self-defense.

“That’s right, sista” said a soulful woman standing next to me. “We with you, baby. It’s ain’t over. It ain’t over.”

“Everyone wants me to be calm. Do you know how those bullets ripped through my son’s body? What they did to his body?” McSpadden continued as cameras clicked and flashed in the frigid night air.

“Ain’t no peace!. Ain’t no calm!” a woman in the crowd yelled in support. “He didn’t die in peace, there ain’t gone be no peace!”

“They wrong, they wrong!” McSpadden sobbed as she doubled over in grief.

“They don’t care about us! Fuck them!” someone yelled.

Brown’s stepfather, Louis Head, then shouted, “Burn this bitch down!”

The video I took was on its way to 180,000 hits, and my social media was blowing up, mostly with people telling me to get out of there.

The crowd was restless and tense, bottles and other objects were thrown at the police, who were lined up in riot gear behind barricades. I reported to John Aravosis over the phone and when the crowd began to move, I told him I was leaving. I knew chaos would break out any minute.

From Karen’s apartment we monitored the situation on television and on our computers. Several buildings in the Ferguson area were burning, looting had begun, and the FAA diverted flights from Lambert St. Louis International Airport due to machine gun fire.

In the Shaw section of South City, protesters shut down Interstate 44, and a mile away on South Grand protests turned violent as numerous windows were smashed. Hours after the violence ended police heavily tear gassed the intersection of Grand and Arsenal, where many peaceful demonstrators and brand new 15th Ward Alderwoman Megan-Ellyia Green were taking sanctuary at MoKaBe’s Coffeehouse. With nowhere to go as the tear gas seeped in, patrons and demonstrators sought refuge in a sealed basement.

The issue of police brutality was front and center on the national conscious, with tragic cases in New York, Cleveland, and other places around the country, spurring massive demonstrations, and the epicenter of it all was the great awakening in St. Louis.

The night of the verdict, as I logged off, I made one final post, making sure the pearl clutchers didn’t misunderstand where I was coming from with my coverage of the fiery mayhem. Many were looking on in horror at the images on their screens, but while I’d prefer there to have been no arson and looting, I saw it as a mere forest fire. There are pinecones that only release their seeds in fire, and I knew there would be much sprouting from the charred and storied ground.

The moment was so powerful, there was no place on Earth more relevant that evening.  The change happening here would transform the dysfunctional structure of St. Louis County and the ninety municipalities/ fiefdoms that stifled regional progress, but would also impact people around the world, as we’d see from subsequent protests.

I wrote: For the record: There’s no place I’d rather be right now. I don’t want a gentrified or suburban life. I’d rather live in a passionate city in flames.

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November 1978: The month San Francisco unraveled http://americablog.com/2015/11/november-1978-the-month-san-francisco-unraveled.html http://americablog.com/2015/11/november-1978-the-month-san-francisco-unraveled.html#comments Wed, 18 Nov 2015 16:56:48 +0000 http://americablog.com/?p=134107 Natural disasters aside, the city has never gone through a more turbulent time.

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headlineMost anyone familiar with Armistead Maupin’s Tales of the City can relate to the character Mary Ann Singleton, the naïve, wide-eyed young woman from Ohio who found herself immersed in 1970s San Francisco. On a normal day in the counterculture capital, life could be a surreal experience, but natural disasters excepted, there was arguably no more turbulent month in the city’s history than November 1978.

I once worked with a woman who moved to the city from Kansas on the 18th of that month, which was the day prominent San Franciscan Jim Jones and nearly a thousand others from the area, including 276 children, died in an act of mass suicide/murder at his Jonestown compound in Guyana. The Jonestown Massacre was the most deadly single non-natural disaster in U.S. history until September 11, 2001, and also remains the only time in history in which a U.S. congressman was killed in the line of duty.

Less than ten days later, shots rang out at city hall and reporters gathered to learn what happened. Diane Feinstein, then president of the board of supervisors, delivered the unimaginable news that Mayor Moscone and Supervisor Harvey Milk were assassinated by former Supervisor Dan White.

The San Francisco of the sixties and seventies was a great experiment. The people who gravitated to that place did so with a purpose, often to be part of a movement, to forge new territory and reimagine reality. Like any other experiments, some of the results were wonderful and some were disastrous.

November 1978 was a month that would change the course of history, ending lives, launching political careers and galvanizing a movement.

Jonestown and the Milk/Moscone assassinations aren’t often remembered together, but they were products of that unique time and place, and each year around this time I remember my own Mary Ann Singleton and her remarkable first month in San Francisco.

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Epic racist meltdown at Mizzou http://americablog.com/2015/11/epic-racist-meltdown-at-mizzou.html http://americablog.com/2015/11/epic-racist-meltdown-at-mizzou.html#comments Wed, 11 Nov 2015 17:26:35 +0000 http://americablog.com/?p=133911 Not a good look.

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It was a turbulent evening at Mizzou last night, following a day of student protests and confrontation with both the university administration and the media. However, as the night wore on activism gave way to ugly backlash, with social media threats to kill black people (an arrest has been made on that front) and one really pissed off white guy throwing an epic tantrum captured in this video where he tells protesters to “take a walk to Africa.”

Anonymous and other users on Twitter have identified the man as Mizzou student John Lee Couper. While we don’t yet have confirmation, he did announce his plans to be at the speaker’s circle, and his social media posts reveal the level of insane anger he holds toward protesters, “liberal bastards,” Bernie Sanders and Seth Rogen (?!). But the person he really hates is Rachel Maddow, writing on Facebook:

JLC 1Hey Rachel Maddow. You get 80,000 views on a good day. I’m willing to bet I have 80 million people who disagree with you. We will not be infringed. Your abuse of the press will end and I am willing to die in order to put a stop to your radical views that have plagued my nation. You better bring it. I use words, not buzz words. I use my brain, not my heart. I will not tolerate history repeating itself in my Nation in one years time. You will not be on television if I have anything to say about it.

And

I don’t care how many bridges I burn. A true Patriot will defend terrorism, foreign and domestic. I’m not going to stop until there are people in Washington that are willing to unite us.

In the shadow of the Missouri State Capitol, which features a bust of Rush Limbaugh, Couper and many of his peers were raised on toxic, inflammatory political rhetoric, so it’s not surprising some might be willing to die to silence a cable news anchor. The impact of such rhetoric is often downplayed, but it wasn’t long ago we saw a man shoot Congresswoman Gabby Giffords after Sarah Palin created a graphic putting her in crosshairs.

Let’s hope the old saying, “an empty wagon makes the most noise” applies to Couper and his comrades. If he can limit himself to talk, he may fill Limbaugh’s shoes one day.

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Save San Francisco’s Cadillac Hotel http://americablog.com/2015/11/save-san-franciscos-cadillac-hotel.html http://americablog.com/2015/11/save-san-franciscos-cadillac-hotel.html#comments Wed, 04 Nov 2015 15:00:01 +0000 http://americablog.com/?p=133497 A place for those with nowhere else to go needs your help.

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In the 1960s two visiting brothers from Ohio checked into the historic Cadillac Hotel and had to extend their stay due to an epic blizzard in the Midwest. They never got around to going back, and both still lived at the hotel when I sat behind them at one of the monthly jazz concerts in the grand lobby a few years ago.

“Now and then I still think about going back,” one said.

sunset-the-cadillac

The Cadillac Hotel

Not long after that concert the brother who told me the story passed away, and the state decided the other was incapable of living alone and needed to be institutionalized. Owner Kathy Looper and her manager Magali Echevarria​ went to bat for that vulnerable old man, who was frightened and alone, and agreed to personally look after him so he could stay in his home.

“Humanity” is not a word used often when talking about the state of housing in San Francisco — where young tech workers pay up to $1800 for a bunk bed and long-term tenants are evicted by the thousands — but the Cadillac Hotel has long been an oasis for those of limited means or with nowhere else to go.

While many do make the Cadillac their permanent home, some use it as a place to get their bearings when they land in the city.

“I had only been in the city for a month, slept place to place carrying luggage everywhere and still trying to hold a full time job. Spent all my money just to come to the city so trying to live check to check and save for a place to live and eat… it sucked!” began Narada Johnson, who moved from St. Louis to advance his career in the beauty industry.

“Once I found shelter [at the Cadillac] it sucked ’cause I’m in a strange place, strange people, and I kept asking myself ‘is it all worth it?’ over and over. Then I met my neighbor Miss Eddy. She had no friends, no family, and she was a lot older We were meant for each other. She would always cook for me with what little she had, and I would always make sure I return the favor by getting her tobacco. She was and is everything to me.”

Once Mr. Johnson was on his feet he moved on, making room for the next tenant. “When I moved Miss Eddy told me to have a great journey. I ran into her last month and I asked if she’s still at Cadillac. She said she will always be there ’cause she has no where else to go.”

In my book Delusions of Grandeur I revisit how I first became acquainted with the Cadillac and the Loopers when I was assigned to supervise the hotel:

The open position was for the portfolio that included the Cadillac Hotel, which was owned by titans of the Tenderloin District, Leroy and Kathy Looper.

The Cadillac was their baby. A San Francisco landmark, the historic brick building was built right after the 1906 earthquake as a luxury hotel. The ballroom was once a gym and many notable boxers trained there, including Muhammad Ali.

The Loopers bought the property in 1977 and established the first non-profit “Single Room Occupancy” (SRO) hotel west of the Mississippi, housing about a hundred and sixty low income tenants. That SRO model now dominated the neighborhood, which was a great thing or a horrible thing, depending on who you asked. Because of the structural groundwork Leroy Looper laid, it was nearly impossible to gentrify the Tenderloin, which remained a centrally located island of realness and relative affordability, even as skyrocketing rents displaced longtime residents in the rest of the city.

Looper mural

Mural celebrating the Loopers

The Loopers were known by everyone in the neighborhood, from politicians to homeless people on the street, and Leroy was referred to as “The Father of the Tenderloin.”

I’d seen Leroy around the office from time to time, a big and tall Black man in his seventies. We’d never been formally introduced, but he always greeted me with a smile. He and his wife Kathy, who was about twenty years younger, welcomed me warmly and soon became like my San Francisco parents.

Conversations with them were fascinating because they were so deeply rooted in that city. They personally knew all the players of the past fifty years including Harvey Milk, Diane Feinstein, every mayor, and even cult leader Jim Jones.

retro loopers

(From left to right) Kathy Looper, Leroy Looper, and Sarah Kearney

Now the hotel is faced with being condemned by the city if they don’t come up with $300,000 for electrical upgrades by the end of this year, causing everyone from notable musicians to The San Francisco Chronicle to take note.

As the cornerstone of the Tenderloin, the loss of the Cadillac would be devastating for a city whose soul is already hanging by a thread. In addition to the 160 residents, also in jeopardy is a doctor’s office for Chinese immigrants, the Bay Area Women’s and Children’s Center, a HeadStart program for 40 children, the Tenderloin Museum and SF Clean City.

A benefit concert is taking place Saturday,  November 14 at the hotel, located at 380 Eddy Street. Over 11 bands, including Lavay Smith, Dirty Cello, and Wendy DeWitt will be performing from 12 – 6 p.m. and everyone is invited to enjoy the show. Admission is free, but donations are encouraged.

Donations for this worthy cause can be given in person at the benefit, or through this Crowdrise fundraiser. 100% of the proceeds will go directly to the Cadillac Hotel through Reality House West, Inc.  a non-profit 501c3 with the State of California. All musicians and organizational staff are donating their time.

Anyone who knows San Francisco knows just how much of it has been lost. For longer than most of us have been alive the Cadillac Hotel was a place you could find shelter when all else failed. Even as the city morphed into something unrecognizable, it endured, and remains a home for many of the wonderful misfits that once defined that mythical city nestled in the clouds, barely hanging on to the mainland.

For the love of God save it.

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Discussing bio queens with Miss Coco Peru http://americablog.com/2015/10/discussing-bio-queens-with-miss-coco-peru.html http://americablog.com/2015/10/discussing-bio-queens-with-miss-coco-peru.html#comments Wed, 21 Oct 2015 02:09:45 +0000 http://americablog.com/?p=132831 Drag is serious grown folks business in the gay community.

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Drag is serious grown folks business in the gay community, and I’ve recently noticed a generation gap around issues like queens who don’t wear padding or who keep a full beard, but most of all I’ve noticed stark differences in the way we respond to “bio queens,” which are women who perform drag as women. After all, until relatively recently “drag queen” was synonymous with “female impersonator,” and the art was the illusion.  coco

I enjoy a good drag show, and love a bad drag show, but the first time I saw a cis woman on stage lip syncing and carrying on I was confused.  In the following months I initiated discussions with numerous friends and acquaintances on the topic, and heard a variety on opinions which largely, but not always, broke down along generational lines. Over 35 and you’re probably not a fan, but for Millennials it’s perfectly normal.

My forty-something friend Jack in Pittsburgh doesn’t get it. “I’ve been trying to wrap my head around it, but I cannot understand what they are trying to express or add to the art form. While cis women have their struggles I think coopting another minority’s art form is just bad form. Kind of like white rich kids thinking they can be hardcore rappers.”

31 year old Brian Ray, who performs as “Suzy Cydal” in St. Louis, finds nothing at all strange about women performing drag. “Fundamentally I’ve never ever thought drag meant a dude trying to look like a girl. Suzy doesn’t have boobs. A drag queen to me is a larger than life character, living art, so it never crossed my mind that a woman couldn’t do that.”

I decided to reach out to my absolute favorite drag queen of all time, star of stage and screen, Miss Coco Peru. I caught up with Coco at her home in Los Angeles and for the first few minutes she thought by “bio queen” I meant biographical, which she certainly is with her colorful life stories.  We got that ironed out, and then she explained how, like bio queens, she was also new and different when she hit the scene around 1991.

“When I created Coco my vision was to not pretend to be female. Back then drag queens didn’t talk or tell stories” Coco began, explaining that even in her stories she’d say things like, “When I was a little boy…” She wasn’t interested in creating the illusion of being female. “Drag was like a suit of armor, a safety net for the audience, and I think it made the audience more comfortable.”

Miss Peru recalled working with a female queen at a show in Texas. “It was delightful. I thought her whole energy was ‘other.’ She probably felt she didn’t belong anywhere either, and I was happy she found a way to navigate through that.”

I asked if she thought women performers need to do something above and beyond, since they don’t have to create the same illusion.

“Like what?” she asked.

“I know a female performer, Charlotte Sumtimes, who’s literally glued rhinestones to her eyelids. She puts on a spectacular show and nobody mentions or event thinks about her gender. The complaint I hear often is that many female performers come off as a Jr. High talent show act.” I replied. “But even the worst male drag queens can be fun to watch, seeing how wrong it all is” I said.

She said both male and female performers should go above and beyond, and confessed to sharing my guilty obsession with really bad drag.

“My favorite bad drag queen is in Spain and she’s so awful and so much fun. I craw from bar to bar just to find her” she said.

Regarding the accusations of cultural appropriation, “All of us in the gay community have been survivors. We’ve done so much that did get appropriated, and that we didn’t always get credit for. But anytime someone wants to self-express I don’t want to stand in their way.” Coco said. “And if the performer is no good, you can always get up and go for a drink.”

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San Francisco, where “Eviction = Death” http://americablog.com/2015/01/san-francisco-eviction-death.html http://americablog.com/2015/01/san-francisco-eviction-death.html#comments Tue, 27 Jan 2015 22:13:01 +0000 http://americablog.com/?p=125778 Welcome to the new San Francisco.

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It was out of boredom, and a touch of morbid curiosity, that I clicked on the link a friend shared for a two bedroom $895,000 condo in San Francisco’s Castro district.

Just when it seemed that SF real estate speculators couldn’t get any more surreal, this one actually left me clutching my pearls.

For longtime residents, San Francisco is a city in crisis. Speculators have exploited the Ellis Act, and tens of thousands have been evicted in recent years. (More than a couple have committed suicide as a result.) And in my opinion, this real estate announcement deserves special recognition for the amount of nerve it took to come up this feel-good whitewashing of the current state of affairs

This is how the ad describes the Castro and its ongoing “transition”:

“Eureka Valley includes the world-renowned Castro district, and has a wonderfully rich history as the epicenter of the gay rights movement. Today, the neighborhood is undergoing another transition as the long-standing gay community welcomes young families to the increasingly diverse neighborhood. On the eastern end, coveted Liberty Hill offers tremendous views and one-of-a-kind residences. Located centrally with downtown access via Muni streetcar and freeway access just off of Market Street, the hard-to-resist neighborhood is also graced with a wide variety of architectural styles and property types — including many pre-Quake Victorians. Bustling Castro Street is home to some of the city’s most beloved landmarks, including Harvey Milk’s store front and the historic Castro Theatre, as well as great restaurants and bars, clubs and pubs serving all your nightlife needs. A celebratory attitude often reigns, as each year the streets come alive during the Castro Street Fair and Pride Week. Venture up the hills and you’ll find quieter streets lined with charming, well-kept homes. Locals love to take advantage of many hidden mini-parks like Kite Hill, and the Seward Street slides.”

Wow, talk about warm fuzzies. The longstanding gay community got together and decided to give up their rent controlled apartments in droves to welcome the new, and mind you, “diverse,” new residents. The old displaced queers are just as jolly as a smiling pig on a BBQ sign.

I took the liberty of inserting a few points. Here’s my rewrite:

Eureka Valley includes the world-renowned Castro district, and has a wonderfully rich history as the epicenter of the gay rights movement (locals refer to it lovingly as the Disneyland of Gays Gone Bye). Today, the neighborhood is undergoing another transition (Thanks Ellis Act loopholes!) as the long-standing gay community welcomes young families (not unlike how Native Americans welcomed European settlers).

The San Francisco fog rolls in, courtesy of the wonderful short film "Adrift."

The San Francisco fog rolls in, courtesy of the wonderful short film “Adrift.

On the eastern end, coveted Liberty Hill offers tremendous views and one-of-a-kind residences. Located centrally with downtown access via Muni streetcar and freeway access (because, of course, you’re driving your BMW fifty miles to Mountain View) just off of Market Street, the hard-to-resist (hard to resist displacing thousands through evictions) neighborhood is also graced with a wide variety of architectural styles and property types — including many pre-Quake Victorians. Bustling Castro Street (Now with no public nudity and tamer window displays, for your comfort) is home to some of the city’s most beloved landmarks, including Harvey Milk’s store front and the historic Castro Theatre (all powered by the green energy of Harvey Milk spinning in his grave), as well as great restaurants and bars, clubs and pubs serving all your nightlife needs. (That “your” makes me nervous. But with each gay displaced from the Castro they paint another rainbow) A celebratory attitude often reigns (aren’t gays fun?! — we ship them in from the East Bay), as each year the streets come alive during the Castro Street Fair and Pride Week (aka your friends will think you’re interesting). Venture up the hills and you’ll find quieter streets (i.e., a nice break from those gays) lined with charming, well-kept homes. Locals (in San Francisco that means anyone who receives mail there) love to take advantage of many hidden mini-parks like Kite Hill, and the Seward Street slides.”

Behind the feel good veneer are real stories, like that of Jonathan Klein, a well-known and beloved owner of a local travel agency. He had recently been evicted when he made his way to the iconic Golden Gate Bridge and took his life.

In the wake of the suicide, civic leaders and the local media, always struggling to shield the new, monied residents from discomfort, went to great lengths to downplay the eviction as a factor, instead highlighting the general issue of “depression.” Those closest to him, however, made their feelings known. A temporary memorial was placed outside of Klein’s travel agency including a prominent sign reading: “Eviction = Death” — a play on the famous AIDS logo of the late 1980s and early 1990s, “Silence = Death.”

Friend Cleve Jones posted the following on his Facebook page:

“Everyone in San Francisco talks about the skyrocketing rent and the increasing evictions. It hits older and disabled people the hardest. Many of my friends have lost their homes, people like Peter Greene and Jonathan Klein, who operated the Now Voyager travel agency on 18th Street since 1984. Peter and Jonathan have been despondent. The politicians talk but do nothing to protect us. Today I learned that Jonathan has taken his life and I am overwhelmed with sorrow.”

One of the most offensive parts of the mass displacement in San Francisco is the feel good spin the speculators and city officials insist on selling, and all the hand wringing about anything that might make the tech workers uncomfortable. It would be better if they’d just man up, kept it real, and replace Kumbaya with a more fitting theme song.

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Born out of Pain: St. Louis artists respond to Ferguson http://americablog.com/2014/12/born-pain-st-louis-artists-respond-ferguson.html http://americablog.com/2014/12/born-pain-st-louis-artists-respond-ferguson.html#comments Thu, 04 Dec 2014 18:00:58 +0000 http://americablog.com/?p=125071 As the smoke clears I see the passing of the old guard, and the rise of a much more dynamic St. Louis.

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I’ve bounced around the country in the last year or so, from San Francisco to New York, but in the spring I decided to come to St. Louis to finish my book of short stories, “Delusions of Grandeur,” since many of the tales take place in the haunted old river city.

It turns out I couldn’t be here at a more interesting time. Protesters have shut down streets and major interstates. Parts of the region have burned. Flights have been diverted from Lambert St. Louis International Airport. Mass “die in” protests have shut down malls and intersections.

In the wake of Michael Brown, the passionate city is a place where anything can happen and where creativity abounds. From the now iconic “Hands up” pose born on the streets of Ferguson, to protesters interrupting the symphony in an elegant protest of song as banners unfurled from the balcony.  St. Louis artist Mallory Nezam started #ChalkUnarmed, drawing chalk outlines of people on public sidewalks or plazas, then adding the name of an unarmed black man who was killed by a police officer, with the date and location of his death. #ChalkUnarmed had spread to other cities around the nation. http://empathyeducates.org/st-louis-artists-respond-to-ferguson-with-chalk/

Cbabi (pronounced Kuh-bob-bi) Bayoc is a local artist famous for his portraits of black fathers interacting with their children. Cbabi stands for Creative Black Artist Battling Ignorance and Bayoc (which he waited for his wife to discover) stands for Blessed African Youth of Creativity. Cbabi wanted to have a last name that included the attributes of the wife he was going to bear children with because the last name, he felt, should reflect both parents and not just the father.

In 2012 he embarked on a sensational project, “365 Days With Dad,” creating a portrait a day of a father interacting with his child. While the project caught fire over social media, Bayoc wanted to make sure the black community at large was included, and set up temporary studios in local markets to reach his audience.

R.I.P. SON photo courtesy of Cbabi Bayoc.

R.I.P. SON photo courtesy of Cbabi Bayoc.

I was struck by his latest print, R.I.P. SON, which depicts a black father with his two boys, one which has a target on his chest. The prints, which are available for $35, are powerful and heartbreaking.

I’m an optimist, and as such I see the beauty in the response to the Brown tragedy. I see the young emerging leaders in the streets. I see long-ignored issues being addressed. I see art and creativity flourishing. Nationwide, unarmed black men are killed by police with horrifying regularity, but are typically in less passionate cities where the victim is simply mourned over potato salad. It’s the response of St. Louisans that made Mike Brown different, and ignited a national discussion.

A little over a century ago St. Louis was the nation’s 4th largest city. A metropolis mighty enough to launch the first transatlantic flight which bore her name, and to host the first Olympic games in the United States. From the smoldering ashes I see a city awakening, more relevant than she’s been in a century, exporting her culture in hands-up poses, chalk outlines, dialogue, stories, art and cries for social justice.

As the smoke clears I see the passing of the old guard, and the rise of a much more dynamic St. Louis.

@EmperorAndoe

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BREAKING: Grand jury refuses to indict Officer Wilson http://americablog.com/2014/11/reporting-live-ferguson-missouri.html http://americablog.com/2014/11/reporting-live-ferguson-missouri.html#comments Tue, 25 Nov 2014 01:54:42 +0000 http://americablog.com/?p=124944 Chris Andoe is on the ground in Ferguson, Missouri, reporting live as the grand jury prepares to announce.

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UPDATE: A grand jury has decided not to indict Officer Darren Wilson for the death of Michael Brown.
______________

It’s pandemonium out here, they’re stampeding the police, they’re pushing down the barriers.

Michael Brown’s mother was standing on a car when the decision was read, she broke down. The crowd broke down the temporary gate, things were being thrown at the cops, but things have now calmed down. I have a front row seat.

Here’s video of Michael Brown’s mother, wearing the brown leather jacket and white hat (the paper confirms that’s her), speaking after the decision not to indict:

A quick video of the crowd after the announcement, once things calmed down a bit:

And here’s a better video of a portion of the crowd chanting:

I’m on the ground in the Ferguson, Missouri, taking photos and videos and sending them to John back in Chicago.

I’m at the main street in Ferguson, and it’s impassable. The tension is rising, people are saying “the only thing we have to lose is our chains,” and “stop killing our kids.”

This is ground zero, the heart of downtown Ferguson, directly in front of police and fire station.

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This is the most intense part. The second protest is in another neighborhood, Shaw, but this is the heart of it.

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Main street is unpassable.

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Here is some video I shot. The quality is somewhat weak, as I’m having to upload it from my phone:

There are about 600 people here right now (though I’m not good at crowd numbers). And at least 200 media as well.

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police-lined-up amnesty-observer

Another friend I’m with is scared. She says people are ready to blow, and she’s getting scared. The tension is so volatile.

More in a moment.

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He moved to NYC, and became Airbnb’s bitch http://americablog.com/2014/04/moved-nyc-became-airbnbs-bitch.html http://americablog.com/2014/04/moved-nyc-became-airbnbs-bitch.html#comments Wed, 30 Apr 2014 15:00:12 +0000 http://americablog.com/?p=118379 Chris Andoe loved using Airbnb, and couldn't understand why the neighbors were so snippy, until he moved to NYC.

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Last Summer a friend of mine got married in San Francisco, and through Airbnb, the website that allows individuals to rent out lodging, rented an entire house above the Castro for his traveling guests.

A large balcony overlooked the skyline, but it was difficult to enjoy because an unreasonable neighbor called the owner to complain if anyone so much as laughed too loudly. On at least three occasions in one afternoon calls came in telling us the neighbor, who we dubbed “Buzz Killington,” was complaining.

Less than a year later I’m living with my brother in New York when a Wall Street guy rented the loft downstairs, then the steady stream of tourists began cycling through. “Nah I’m not even living there! I get over $500 a night through Airbnb,” the Wall Street guy, seemingly drunk, boasted to another neighbor, who needless to say wasn’t as impressed with him as he was with himself.

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Concierge via Shutterstock

While Airbnb probably works fine when properly-hosted, there are numerous issues that arise when hotel guests are living among you, sans the accompanying hotel staff. Someone’s always locked out and looking to neighbors to allow them into the building. “Where are you going?” my brother asked a guy who pushed past him at the door. “Upstairs, asshole,” the tourist replied.

Sometimes guests decide to party on the rooftop directly above us, which is prohibited, and they often ask for directions and advice. This morning, not knowing what to do with unwanted garbage, a group of tourists just left the bag in the foyer, where it still remains.

Basically, the neighbors are expected to be the doormen, concierge, security, and porters for the self-satisfied Wall Street Airbnb operator who rented the unit under false pretenses in a city with a severe housing shortage.

With each passing day I’m more empathetic to good ole Buzz Killington, who didn’t sign up to live next door to a flophouse and listen to an endless stream of cackling tourists two feet from his back window.

When I think of that neighbor calling the Airbnb operator dozens of times a week, I now think to myself, “Give ‘em Hell, Buzz! Give ‘em Hell.”


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San Francisco in the golden age of ‘Glassholes’ http://americablog.com/2014/03/san-francisco-golden-age-glassholes.html http://americablog.com/2014/03/san-francisco-golden-age-glassholes.html#comments Fri, 21 Mar 2014 13:00:08 +0000 http://americablog.com/?p=115430 Chris Andoe, who recently moved from SF to NYC, laments the Google Glass(holes) who have ruined his former home.

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I was working in San Francisco’s Mission District when I made an effort to befriend the office nerd.

To say that Timothy was socially awkward would be an understatement. Because of the way he craned his neck to peek over his cubicle every five minutes he earned the nickname “Meerkat”, but that was just the beginning. Upon meeting a new client or coworker Timothy would strike up a conversation about what he learned while googling them. And then there were the Facebook issues.

Facebook stalking was Timothy’s primary social outlet, and on Monday mornings he’d lumber around the office with a self-satisfied smile, arms held in a T-Rex fashion with his folded hands resting on his ample belly, interrupting work conversations with something like: “It looked like YOU had a lot of fun on your camping trip! Haha!” Later in the lunchroom, he’d gleefully recap everyone else’s weekend.

Sure it was all information that was freely available online, but aren’t there still issues of boundaries and decorum?

I’ve thought a lot about Timothy lately in the wake of Peeping Tom/Anti-Privacy Advocate Sarah Slocum’s headlines claiming she was the victim of a “hate crime” after angry bar patrons flipped her off, and reportedly took the Google Glass off her face while she was recording them at a Haight bar.

The woman who flipped her off exclaimed “You’re killing our city!”

Those words have resonated with many San Franciscans in the wake of mass evictions, and the pervasive impression of the new tech-worker residents as soulless parasites feeding off the “cool” they’re displacing.

GOP Rep. Michele Bachmann in Google Glasses (source: Luke Russert via Twitter)

GOP Rep. Michele Bachmann sporting her Google Glass (source: Luke Russert via Twitter).

Not only are long term residents being displaced at historic levels, the new residents feverishly work to tame the neighborhoods they’ve consumed – complaining about noise from nightlife, and electing leaders sympathetic to their pro-gentrification agenda, like Supervisor Scott Wiener, who in 2012 stamped out one of the last libertine vestiges of the Summer of Love with his nudity ban.

Although people offended by public nudity had 88,000 municipalities in the US to choose from, and about 39 San Francisco neighborhoods were it wasn’t common, a vocal group moved to the epicenter, Market & Castro, then carried on and caterwauled about being “eye raped,” until the local laws were brought in line with places like Topeka and Peoria.

Now there’s a move by some to rebrand half of the Castro with the less “gay,” more collegiate-sounding name, “The Quad.”

Like Slocum, Timothy felt entitled to feed off the lives of those around him. When I began writing in opposition to the nudity ban, he felt entitled to target my unrelated livelihood – unsuccessfully attempting to use my writings and Facebook posts against me.

Slocum, it turns out, was accused by neighbors of surreptitiously recording them with her smartphone through an open window, according to court documents. They successfully got a restraining order against her.

Glassholes aren’t big on boundaries, and their kind seem to have reached a critical mass in San Francisco. Whatever the future holds for the city, we can be certain it will be recorded.

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Jesusland to gorge itself in support of Duck Dynasty http://americablog.com/2013/12/jesusland-gorge-support-duck-dynasty.html http://americablog.com/2013/12/jesusland-gorge-support-duck-dynasty.html#comments Fri, 27 Dec 2013 18:07:21 +0000 http://americablog.com/?p=109613 Nothing woos soccer moms and millennials like making Charlie Manson's younger brother your party's new posterboy.

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A segment of Americans enamored with reality television star Phil Robertson’s controversial anti-gay, pro-plantation, and pro-child-bride positions plan to show their support by donning camouflage and gorging themselves on fast food. They plan to eat until they get their Phil.

They call themselves “Phil Phans” (a play on “Phil Fans,” get it?), and have set their “Chick-Phil-A National Support Day” for January 21st, the day after Martin Luther King Day.

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First some background.  Robertson. the star of A&E’s show “Duck Dynasty,” found himself in some hot water after he told GQ the following (I’m quoting a larger portion to give some context):

“We’re Bible-thumpers who just happened to end up on television,” he tells me. “You put in your article that the Robertson family really believes strongly that if the human race loved each other and they loved God, we would just be better off. We ought to just be repentant, turn to God, and let’s get on with it, and everything will turn around.”

Nothing says "woo those soccer moms" like having Charlie Manson's younger brother lookalike be the rallying cry for your party. (Phil Robertson photo by A&E)

Nothing woos soccer moms, and millennials, like making Charlie Manson’s younger brother the new poster-boy for your party. (Phil Robertson photo by A&E)

What does repentance entail? Well, in Robertson’s worldview, America was a country founded upon Christian values (Thou shalt not kill, etc.), and he believes that the gradual removal of Christian symbolism from public spaces has diluted those founding principles. (He and Si take turns going on about why the Ten Commandments ought to be displayed outside courthouses.) He sees the popularity of Duck Dynasty as a small corrective to all that we have lost.

“Everything is blurred on what’s right and what’s wrong,” he says. “Sin becomes fine.”

What, in your mind, is sinful?

“Start with homosexual behavior and just morph out from there. Bestiality, sleeping around with this woman and that woman and that woman and those men,” he says. Then he paraphrases Corinthians: “Don’t be deceived. Neither the adulterers, the idolaters, the male prostitutes, the homosexual offenders, the greedy, the drunkards, the slanderers, the swindlers—they won’t inherit the kingdom of God. Don’t deceive yourself. It’s not right.”

Robertson continues, this time equating being gay with being drunk or a terrorists:

Old Phil—the guy with the booze and the pills—died a long time ago, and New Phil sees no need to apologize for him: “We never, ever judge someone on who’s going to heaven, hell. That’s the Almighty’s job. We just love ’em, give ’em the good news about Jesus—whether they’re homosexuals, drunks, terrorists. We let God sort ’em out later, you see what I’m saying?”

In a culture that readily accepts highly-processed chemicals as “food,” it was only a matter of time before we found people going to the same artificial trough to meet their other needs, from spirituality to political expression.

Lindsay Graham chick-fil-a

Lindsey Graham celebrating the anti-gay Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day.

In the past eighteen months we’ve seen an odd phenomenon in many regions of the US: the meteoric rise of the greasy fast food bag as a new symbol of moral righteousness.

Long thought of as mere garbage, this former agent of death is now the exulted symbol of a desperate people’s moral compass (life imitates art). Politicians like Sarah Palin and Lindsey Graham proudly pose with their grease-god to show just how much they too hate whatever latest minority the Republican party is hating on these days. (And yes, the irony is apparently lost on Miss Lindsey.)

Phil Robertson is being called “The Next Ronald Reagan” by some who compare his quotes equating homosexuality and bestiality with this earlier Reagan statement on the AIDS epidemic:

“Maybe the Lord brought down this plague… because illicit sex is against the Ten Commandments.”

But of course, that wasn’t the only controversial thing Robertson’s ever said. In 2009, Mr. Robertson spoke of the virtues of marrying 15 year old girls, as opposed to 20 year old women, because young girls are easier to train:

A good woman is hard to find. Mainly because these boys are waiting until they get to be about 20 years old before they marry ‘em. Look, you wait till they get to be about 20 years old, the only picking that’s going to take place is your pocket. You gotta marry these girls when they’re 15 or 16, they’ll pick your ducks. You need to check with mom and dad about that, of course.

More than ever, highly-mobile Americans move to progressive neighborhoods or cities to be around like-minded individuals, and the Phil Phan’s Facebook page offers a bizarre peek into what’s going on in broad swaths of the GOP side of our nation.

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These people are angry, xenophobic, homophobic, racist, sexist and don’t know how to express it any other way than by doing what comes naturally to far too many of them: gorging on fast food.  (You know what’ll really show God you’re a true believer? Getting diabetes.)  They’re also not terribly bright. Sarah Palin joined the pro-Robertson bandwagon before admitting that she hadn’t actually read what Robertson said. Maybe she was just hungry.

Chick-Fil-a has no connection with Phil Robertson, but his supporters like Chick-fil-A’s anti-gay reputation, and enjoy eating their calorically-dense meal options in homo-free zones.  Of course, the irony is that Chick-Fil-A, increasingly uncomfortable with its president’s outspokenness, has been trying to move away from the whole fire-and-brimstone thing, as it apparently isn’t terribly good for business outside of Jesusland.

Many of us outside of the conservative movement can’t understand how a hunger-strike-in-reverse is a protest.  But if the Left really wants to show compassion for these miserable souls, maybe we should just announce that broccoli is anti-gay – along with a good jog.

@EmperorAndoe

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Mary Cheney grows a pair on gay marriage – or not http://americablog.com/2013/11/mary-cheney-grows-pair.html http://americablog.com/2013/11/mary-cheney-grows-pair.html#comments Tue, 19 Nov 2013 18:15:19 +0000 http://americablog.com/?p=107643 Mary Cheney gave anti-gay Romney $2500. Backbones don't suddenly develop at 45, when they were non-existent at 44.

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Mary Cheney has now decided she’s shocked and offended that her sister Liz has the same anti-gay positions, on gay marriage in particular, as the Bush Administration, which Mary herself spent years campaigning for.

Please.

As far back as 2000, Mary happily allowed herself to be used as a prop for the wildly deceptive “compassionate conservative” branding effort the Bush ticket was promoting, then sat silently by as political appointees like Scott Bloch busily worked to take away the protections of federal employees who were LGBT, and Monica Goodling reportedly attempted to purge the administration of gay employees. People less connected than Mary needed our help.

Where was Mary Cheney?

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From DearMary.com

Although the first three years of Bush’s term were hard on gay people, I would argue that the lowest point for us in recent history was in 2004.

Bush, Rove and the Republicans had long used us as a wedge issue, but in their efforts to defeat rival John Kerry they kicked it up a notch by pushing the Federal Marriage Amendment, an amendment to the United States Constitution forever enshrining anti-gay bigotry in the nation’s founding document, something that would also have banned civil unions and domestic partnerships, and quite likely led to the vitiation of all gay rights laws nationwide.

Mary Cheney, working as her father’s director of vice presidential operations in perhaps the ugliest campaign in a generation, again remained silent. You might recall that John Aravosis launched a Web site and campaign in 2004, called DearMary.com, imploring Mary to speak up and help her own community – to no avail. The administration continued to push constitutional amendments to ban same sex marriage on state ballots across the nation.

After those elections and brutal anti-gay propaganda wars, after we were successfully maligned, marginalized and vilified in order to keep Republicans in power, the United Church of Christ decided to run a commercial telling queer people that we were welcome at their church. Yes, the climate was so hostile that a church felt the need to do that. No major network would agree to run the commercial out of fear of offending the Bush Administration.

To this day that infuriates me, and to this day I believe heads should roll for that decision.

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The DearMary.com home page

It’s during times of hardship that you know who your friends are, and at the end of 2004 not even the network that brought us Will & Grace was standing with our people. We were on the cold side of the wedge.

I take the cynical view that all parties in the Cheney family are following a script which allows them to have their cake and eat it too. Mary’s helping out Liz by feigning outrage, which draws attention to Liz’s anti-gay bona fides. Mary gets to pull a Ken Mehlman, attempting to salvage her legacy while making amends with those she’s betrayed, after profiting handsomely from her long career as a Republican quisling.

Five minutes ago, Mary Cheney was showering anti-gay marriage Mitt Romney and other anti-gay GOP candidates with campaign cash, and didn’t bat an eye at their anti-marriage positions. This moral outrage, lecturing her sister about being on the wrong side of history, is hard for me to swallow.

Backbones don’t suddenly develop at 45, when they were non-existent at 44.

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Don’t understand the GOP shutdown strategy? Think “gambling addict” http://americablog.com/2013/10/gambling-addict-gop-already-lost-car-now-betting-house.html http://americablog.com/2013/10/gambling-addict-gop-already-lost-car-now-betting-house.html#comments Thu, 10 Oct 2013 12:26:47 +0000 http://americablog.com/?p=104509 If you want to understand the GOP strategy behind the shutdown and debt default, think of a really bad gambler.

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If you can’t figure out why the Republicans keep upping the ante in their ongoing battle to defund health care reform, simply ask yourself why a gambling addict doesn’t walk out after losing the rent money. Because such a move would mean accepting his loss, and facing reality.

Instead, the addict’s thinking is that by betting the car payment too he could win everything back and more.

The Republican party’s first bad bet was sitting out during the health care reform debate.  As is their way of late, the Republicans didn’t try to make Obamacare better, they tried to shut it down every step of the way. (So, actually, we’re dealing with really bad gamblers who have more than a touch of hubris.)

GOP Sen. Ted Cruz, one of the authors of the government shutdown to kill Obamacare.

GOP Sen. Ted Cruz, one of the authors of the government shutdown to kill Obamacare.

Remember how the health care reform debate started?  That’s right, the Republicans sent their black-helicoptered thugs to shout, and shut, down Democratic town hall meetings in August of 2009.  They didn’t show up to express another point of view, or to make the bill – and our health care system – better.  They went for broke, put all their bets on the most extreme position possible – saying “no” to any reform at all – and ultimately they lost. The Affordable Care Act passed, and while it wasn’t everything we wanted, it was a bit step in the right direction.

So, the Republicans did what any bad gambler would do.  They lost the car, so they decided to bet the house.  (In this case, judging by recent polls, the literal US House.)

Tea party obama hitler guns

The Republicans petulantly shut down the entire federal government so they could defund Obamacare.  If they can’t get what they want, then you can’t get what you want, whether that’s your cancer drug trials at NIH, Head Start, nutrition for women, infants, and children, food safety inspections, or even death benefits for the families of US service members killed in the line of duty.

But of course, like any good bad-gambler, the GOP was able to find just enough money to help themselves, that’s why John Boehner deemed the US House sauna and swimming pool “essential” while cutting off money to the families of dead US troops. That’s not to say that the congressional Republicans aren’t entirely heartless – they did give up towel privileges at their “essential” taxpayer-funded gym.

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Tea Party rally. The Islamic symbol at the bottom right of the poster is a nice touch. Ira Bostic / Shutterstock.com

As John wrote the other day, the Republican party is now at a whopping 70% disapproval rating for how they’re handling the budget talks.  That’s down 7 points from last week.  In a perverse way though, the more the Republicans Obamacare strategy backfires, the more motivation they have to keep gambling, and upping the ante.

The GOP refuses to “surrender,” but the rent-money’s spent – so what do they do? They gamble with the money set aside for families of our fallen troops, the money used to feed infants and teach preschoolers, and the money used to keep our food safe. They’re betting with the earnings of 800,000 furloughed workers (now around 450,000, as DOD workers were deemed essential), and as if that’s not enough, they’re prepared to bet the entire world economy simply to save face.

The latest GOP threat, to default on the national debt, is no joke.  While the Republicans continue to insist that a default wouldn’t hurt the US or world economy, and in fact wouldn’t even be a “real” default at all, the experts say otherwise.  All the experts – Republican ones included.

Bloomberg News posted a horrific story the other day, titled “A U.S. Default Seen as Catastrophe Dwarfing Lehman’s Fall.”  It’s difficult to misinterpret where that story’s heading.  Just as difficult as it is to misunderstand where the Republican party is heading.

What’s needed with this people isn’t a negotiation. It’s an intervention.

Or perhaps a SWAT team.

@EmperorAndoe

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Our Chris Andoe, on the death of his dog Sophie http://americablog.com/2013/09/chris-andoe-death-dog-sophie.html http://americablog.com/2013/09/chris-andoe-death-dog-sophie.html#comments Fri, 06 Sep 2013 22:00:05 +0000 http://americablog.com/?p=102418 "We’d make our end of life decision when she no longer enjoyed the things she loved, that day was yesterday.

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In 2006, we found Sophie limping down the street in Oklahoma City.

I called to her and she came right up and wanted to come inside.

I gave her food and water, then we called the Golden Retriever Rescue to pick her up. She was in horrible shape with a cut paw and hundreds of ticks of all shapes and sizes. This was around nine in the morning.

At about 4:30 in the afternoon, I went out back to find my husband Damon bathing her and picking off ticks as he wept. He said he just couldn’t stand the thought of them being all over her.

Seeing as she was baptized in his tears, I knew she was now ours.

Sophie and our other dog, Brawny the yorkie.

Sophie and our other dog, Brawny the yorkie, who would dutifully clean Sophie’s eyes each and every morning.

We didn’t know what to name her, and toyed with a few names until one evening we went for a walk through the neighborhood with our friend Trish and her dogs. One short street was more like an alley because four backyards faced it, each with at least one barking dog. It was always chaos walking through there with those dogs barking and our dogs barking back. I looked at her, and she was limping along with a big smile and I immediately thought of the dinner scene in the Color Purple when after being so sad, Sophie starts laughing and saying, “Sophia home now! Sophia home!”

Sophie and Brawny have two daddies.

Sophie and Brawny have two daddies.

For seven years Sophie’s been part of our family. Each morning, Brawny (our yorkie) would clean Sophie’s eyes as she lobbied us for walks, rides and treats.

Sophie's last moments, surrounded by her family.

Sophie’s last moments, surrounded by her family.

Sophie enjoyed playing with dogs, but truly loved people. At the park she would approach each and every bench to greet everyone, and this brought a great deal of joy to the homeless and mentally ill. One such woman greeted her daily and when she saw someone shoo Sophie away she hugged her and said “Don’t you worry about them Sophie!”

Sophie had cancer and was wasting away. We said we’d make our end of life decision when she no longer enjoyed the things she loved, and that day was yesterday.

She’s traveled with us through eight states and down countless trails. Last night we went to her favorite sunny spot by the bay where she just rested in the grass.

She was too tired to be nervous as we got to the vet. I spread out my hoodie and she laid down resting her head on my lap. She passed surrounded by her family.

Farewell old friend.

sophie-sun

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A hot gay mess in St. Louis http://americablog.com/2013/08/a-hot-mess-in-st-louis.html http://americablog.com/2013/08/a-hot-mess-in-st-louis.html#comments Tue, 20 Aug 2013 02:00:21 +0000 http://americablog.com/?p=100769 Chris Andoe takes a queer look at a gay old town: St. Louis.

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I’m a collector of colorful characters. And I’ve summoned them all to St. Louis for Labor Day Weekend, a city that not only has character, but is in itself a character.

Following the local LGBT community over social media is like watching a soap opera – and I’m not talking about your run of the mill bar feuds or relationship drama. No, in St. Louis you have a queen successfully pretending to be an attorney for months – handling cases in the courtroom and collecting fees before getting caught.

You’ve got a bar owner rumored to have burned down one of his bars for the insurance money, then getting his mugshot in the paper for allegedly embezzling funds from a Hamburger Mary’s – all while former employees, who publicly complain of bad checks, vent about him showering his beautiful young boyfriend with expensive gifts including a car.

AB-Skyline-300x250You’ve got another top bar owner charging a $30 cover for an emotional going out of business gala, only to open up for business as usual the following morning.

You’ve got a beloved local celebrity forced to resign from leading the LGBT Center for misuse of funds.

You’ve got a trans advocate who, having fallen out of favor with the establishment, bitterly calls out community pillars in epic tirades vowing revenge.

Then there’s the former Pride President turned convicted sexual predator. And this is just scratching the surface. I live in the Bay Area, have traveled from New York to New Zealand, and I’ve never seen a show like this.

AB-Lafayette-200x300Drama aside, St. Louis’ sizable LGBT community is vibrant, interesting, and uncommonly hospitable. The city is rich with gay neighborhoods where couples enjoy palatial historic homes with lush gardens; many circa 1880 to 1925, for prices that make coastal queens cringe. They make use of those homes too. I’ve never seen anyone who can entertain in the home/garden like my friends in St. Louis. And speaking of friends I’ve lived there on two occasions and have no greater concentration of friends in the world. St. Louisans aren’t only a good time, they’re fiercely loyal.

St. Louis has an impressive backstory, which I’ll attempt to highlight in one breathless paragraph. A few miles east of the Gateway Arch is the World Heritage Site Cahokia Mounds. The ancient city of Cahokia was the largest settlement north of present-day Mexico and was larger than London in AD 1250. The French flag and the Spanish flag flew over St. Louis before the Americans took over. Little more than a century ago she was the 4th largest city in the nation, neck and neck with Chicago, and was the largest city west of the Mississippi. A city mighty enough to host the first Olympics in the United States and to launch the first solo nonstop transatlantic flight. As recently as 1960 St. Louis was larger than Dallas and Atlanta combined, so the brick urban core is substantial.

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John Schwaig & Brian Derton

Guests attending my “Jet Set: Gateway Glitterati Weekend” include my San Francisco happy hour crew, known as “The Castro Consorts”, “The Mayor of Gay Oklahoma City” Floyd Martin and his entourage, a group of high-powered Kansas City attorneys, a straight auto mechanic from the great plains, a gal from Tulsa who explained sex to me when we were in the third grade, and a couple dozen others from around the country.

We’re taking over two floors of the historic Chase Park Plaza, and our main public event is a show called “HOT MESS” at Rehab St. Louis on August 31st. VitalVOICE gossip columnist Penelope Wigstock sums it up this way:

That's me.

That’s me.

“Former St. Louisan and AMERICAblog/Vital VOICE writer, Chris Andoe, is bringing his twisted dog and pony show to the Lou on August 30th. He’s named the weekend “Gateway Glitterati,” and if you’re wondering what treats might be in store for those who participate, check out an old David Lynch film or watch one of Stefon’s “club revues” on Saturday Night Live: narcoleptic drag queens, loud drunks with access to limitless booze, an entrepreneur with a glory hole franchise, and garden variety predators and sycophants…these are a few of my favorite things!!! The highlight (?) of the event-Hot Mess- takes place at Rehab on Saturday, August 31st. Mark your calendars and make it a point to stop in to see the Emperor and his merry troupe of misfits as they entertain and delight the curious and uninhibited.”

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My cast of characters will take to St. Louis like catfish to the Mississippi, and any kindred spirits or voracious voyeurs are welcome to join us for an epic weekend in this storied metropolis. Like Sunset Boulevard’s Norma Desmond- once the biggest star the world had ever known, St. Louis is a regal old diva. With her world class attractions, fine architecture, fascinating residents and one of the most recognizable skylines in the world, she’s just as BIG as ever!

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