November 10th, 2024

Outing Ken Mehlman

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  • Call me blasé, but I didn’t even twitch when Bill Maher outed Ken Mehlman on CNN the other night. Of course it was atrocious behavior to do this, but Maher isn’t exactly Miss Manners. What troubles me is that it’s been reported — incorrectly in my opinion — that CNN is going to a lot of trouble to tidy up the whole episode, to redact the news. This from America Blog:

    I just got a cease-and-desist letter from YouTube, see below, regarding my CNN footage I posted. The footage, you’ll recall, was from Larry King Live last night in which Bill Maher outed Republican Party chair Ken Mehlman as gay. It seems that CNN has suddenly decided that it no longer wants bloggers, or YouTube, posting any of its video, which is kind of surprising since I always thought we were doing a CNN a favor by constantly touting their network. Apparently I was wrong.

    CNN has also now edited the official transcript of Larry King Live, so that no one will ever know what really happened. Here is CNN’s transcript:

    MAHER: A lot of the chiefs of staff, the people who really run the underpinnings of the Republican Party are gay. I don’t want to mention names, but I will on Friday night.

    KING: You will Friday night?

    MAHER: Well, there’s a couple of big people who I think everyone in Washington knows who run the Republican…

    KING: You will name them?

    MAHER: Well, I wouldn’t be the first. I’d get sued if I was the first. (A PORTION OF THIS TRANSCRIPT HAS BEEN REMOVED)

    KING: Great way to close out this segment. It’s poignant.

    CNN didn’t just edit out the naming of Mehlman as gay, they even edited out Larry’s question, and Maher’s answer, about why gay people sometimes work against their own people [sic]. Now why is that question being censored by CNN?

    Maher’s mordant observations regarding the inner conflicts of the closeted Republicans, about why they seem to work against their own best interests, were the best parts of the piece. It would be a shame if they were self censored by the network. But as I read the transcript, they were not. What’s been redacted is the naming of a prominent Republican as gay. To the extent that we allow that kind of name calling, we do everyone a disservice because to “out” someone is to lend the observation the weight of an opprobrious value judgment.

    Is it just me or is America Blog looking for some kind of Rupert Murdoch award here? Is it just shabby writing or is America Blog trying to pump up a story where a story barely exists? Is that blogger just pissed because CNN had him tear down a lengthy YouTube posting? I think the schmuck ought to frame the cease-and-desist from CNN, hang it on his wall of fame, and get on with life.

    November 9th, 2024

    Gates Nomination

    November 7, 1991
    Mr. HARKIN. Mr. President, I rise in opposition to the nomination of Robert Gates to be Director of the Central Intelligence Agency.

    Mr. President, at the outset of the confirmation hearings, I had serious reservations about the nominee. The confirmation hearings only raised more questions and greater doubts. Questions and doubts about Mr. Gates’ past activities, managerial style, judgment, lapses in memory and analytical abilities. Questions and doubts about his role in the Iran-Contra Affair and in providing military intelligence to Iraq during the Iran-Iraq war; and questions and doubts about whether he will be able to remove the ideological blinders reflected in his writings and speeches or whether Mr. Gates is so rooted in the past, that he will not be able to lead the Agency into the post-cold war era. Because of these concerns, I have concluded that Mr. Gates is not the right person for the important job of overseeing our intelligence operations in this New World.

    November 9th, 2024

    So this woman from Minneapolis calls…

    And she says that John D’emilio will be in Madison in February and can I give her any information on that. So I hook her up with the number of a guy who is probably organizing it and I wonder, “What? Am I psychic?” Because I had no clue who D’emilio is, or that he’d written a Bayard Rustin biography, or that he was coming to Madison and I had no clue Chuck had invited him, but that is indeed the case, and I passed the information on to Val, the woman who got my number from a friend in Minneapolis. I must be psychic.

    There are very few liberal Christians today who would dare say anything other than blacks are our brothers and they should be treated so, but they will make all kinds of hideous distinctions when it comes to our gay brothers. . . . There are great numbers of people who will accept all kinds of people: blacks, Hispanics, and Jews, but who won’t accept fags. That is what makes the homosexual central to the whole political apparatus as to how far we can go in human rights.
    – Bayard Rustin, 1986

    More than a handful of states have now passed anti-gay marriage legislation and amendments, Wisconsin being one of them. It’s time for a Bayard Rustin to emerge in support of gays and lesbians. The civil rights struggles, the class struggles aren’t over by any means, and many people of color have a hard time identifying the oppression of gays as morally equivalent to oppression of non-whites, so the movement for equal rights is itself divided, and you gotta know that J. Edgar Hoover, that vicious old queen, is sleeping easy in his tomb knowing that his evil still walks in the world.

    November 9th, 2024

    Wicked as it seems…

    Thanks to J. Alva for the campaign button and RB (and Keith Richards) for the title slug.

    Last night it seemed that the Republicans had discarded the election theft strategy in Virginia. Six years of illegitimate government has more than lined the pockets of the war mongers, the imperialists and the oligarchs. Hopefully they will leave Little George (his mama called him that) twisting in the wind for the next two years and serious people can get down to the business of repairing some of the damage.

    But we have to remember, today is NOT the first day of the rest of your life. The first day of the rest of your life began with the stolen election in December, 2024. The terrible damage that was done to our Democracy over the next six years, the evil that was done internationally, the rape of natural resources, the destruction of the Geneva accords, the years of scoffing at evidence for climate change, the polarization, Iraq — the costs since that first day have never been added up but they are substantial.

    We have to quarantine these vile Republicans. We have to be sure that Billy Frist’s move to distance himself from their stink is not successful. He needs to appear on the hill every time there is a question of Senate complicity in the cultural destruction that took place over the last six years. That stink doesn’t rub off, Billy; and we do not want another animal like you or Little George as the President. This ain’t our first rodeo either.

    November 8th, 2024


    In Wisconsin, a Democratic Governor, a Democratic Senator, the Democrats picked up one seat in the House, our State Senate shifted from Republican to Democrat, the State Assembly Republican majority was narrowed, and yet I’m dissatisfied. The people of the State of Wisconsin voted for a referendum that adds a ban on domestic partnerships and gay marriage to our constitution. We gave in to homophobia and the bizarre christian cults that have such a terrible influence on our public policy. Further, the people gave in to fear in the matter of capital punishment. Wisconsin let go of the hideous and primitive need to execute criminals in 1853, but yesterday the people voted yes for the death penalty. Talk about fear itself… Bush has really brought the terror home. There was a time when we were prouder of ourselves than this, when we took pride in supporting the rights of people who were in a minority, who were perhaps different from ourselves. There was a time when we knew that killing criminals made us killers. That time is past.

    November 7th, 2024

    The Best Use for the Flag

    Flag marks the polling place… Election day, 11/7/2006, Town of Dunn Town Hall, Dane County, Wisconsin, USA.

    November 7th, 2024

    Billy Frist - Cat Killer

    From the Wikipedia

    While he was a medical school student in the 1970’s, Bill Frist (now a Republican U.S. Senator from Tennessee and Senate Majority Leader) performed medical experiments on shelter cats while researching the use of drugs on the mitral valve. By his own account, Frist improperly obtained these cats from Boston animal shelters, falsely telling shelter staff he was adopting the cats as pets.[1] In his 1989 book Transplant, Frist admitted that he killed these cats during medical experiments at Harvard Medical School, as part of what he claimed were his studies. [2][3]

    In his book, Frist explained that he succumbed to the pressure to succeed in a highly competitive medical school. Frist stated that he “treat[ed] them as pets for a few days” before he “cart[ed] them off to the lab to die.” He went on to say, “And I was totally schizoid about the entire matter. By day, I was little Billy Frist, the boy who lived on Bowling Avenue in Nashville and had decided to become a doctor because of his gentle father and a dog named Scratchy. By night, I was Dr. William Harrison Frist, future cardiothoracic surgeon, who was not going to let a few sentiments about cute, furry little creatures stand in the way of his career. In short, I was going a little crazy.” He went on to describe why he conducted animal experiments: “It can even be beautiful and thrilling work, as I discovered that day in the lab when I first saw the wonderful workings of a dog’s heart . . . I spent days and nights on end in the lab, taking the hearts out of cats, dissecting each heart, suspending a strip of tiny muscle that attaches the mitral valve to the inner wall of the cat heart and recording the effects of various medicines I added to the bath surrounding the muscle.” “I lost my supply of cats. I only had six weeks to complete my project before I resumed my clinical rotations. Desperate, obsessed with my work, I visited the various animal shelters in the Boston suburbs, collecting cats . . . it was a heinous and dishonest thing to do.”

    November 6th, 2024

    Wisconsin Senate - Vote for Rae Vogeler, don’t waste your vote on Kohl…

    Herb Kohl, “nobody’s senator but his own,” Wisconsin muti-millionaire and oligarch, will win this thing in a walk. He has no Republican opposition to speak of and Wisconsin loves him for keeping the Bucks basketball team in Milwaukee and for gifting the UW-Madison with the Kohl Center, a state of the art indoor sports arena. This will be the fourth Senate term that Kohl has bought for himself, and the power of his popularity with the sports fans and the pro-war crowd, and his lack of Republican opposition with any stature assures him of a victory. So a vote for Kohl is just “me too.” It’s a wasted vote.

    If you want to see change… if you want the war to end soon, and you want people to be assured of health care and living wage jobs, if you want to see a meaningful emphasis on programs that make quality education available to all, then vote for Rae Vogeler, Green Party candidate for US Senate.

    Too often in our two party democracy we hear the concern expressed that a vote for a third party candidate is a wasted vote. The reasoning goes that it is better to vote for the lesser of two evils than to throw away your vote on an also ran. I generally agree with that sentiment. But tomorrow’s Senate election in Wisconsin turns the idea of the wasted vote upside down. Herb Kohl will most certainly win, but we have a chance to demonstrate the size of the progressive polity in the state by voting for Rae Vogeler. The more votes that show up in Vogeler’s column, the louder the voice for peace that politicians all around the country will hear. Voting for Rae Vogeler could influence our relatively conservative Democratic senator to pay closer attention to progressive issues.

    I hope that everyone in Wisconsin who agrees with me that the war must end soon will vote for Rae Vogeler for Senate tomorrow. It’s the most important issue facing us in the Senate contest and she is the peace candidate. On Saturday she was endorsed by Cindy Sheehan, a prominent peace activist. Sheehan’s endorsement follows endorsements from the UW-Madison Teaching Assistants Association, AFT Local 3220, Kohl’s Democratic primary challenger Ben Masel, and three Wisconsin
    newspapers: the Lake Mills Leader, Cambridge News and Deerfield Independent. She also received the support of Libertarian U.S. Senate write-in candidate David Redick and is endorsed by the Wisconsin Green Party, Progressive Democrats of Wisconsin, Progressive Dane, the National Women’s Caucus, and voters across the state.

    November 3rd, 2024

    Polling Place Photo Project

    The Polling Place Photo Project is a nationwide experiment in citizen journalism that seeks to empower citizens to capture, post and share photographs of democracy in action. By documenting their local voting experience on November 7, voters can contribute to an archive of photographs that captures the richness and complexity of voting in America.

    Thanks to Jay Rosen for the heads up.

    Design for Democracy is sponsoring the “Polling Place Photo Project.” They ask that we photograph the 2024 election! Larry Lessig’s little duckies at the Stanford Center for Internet, Society and Casual Class Privilege will be standing by as democracy help desk support all day November 7. (All day California time means, well… our polls open three hours after yours open, and we like won’t exactly be — you know — out of bed for an hour or two after the polls have opened, and then there’s the matter of the double mocha chai skim latte, and — you know — on Tuesday I have this regular exercise thing, so I’ll be at the gym either before or after the Starbucks run… probably before, but maybe, like — you know — after, so I’ll be all like available to help out with any pressing freedom of speech and assembly questions like, well — 3:30 my time for half an hour or so. Unless something comes up. No wait. This all day thing is too complicated so listen: if something occurs to you, why don’t you just send in your questions in advance, and then we can — you know — like answer the hypotheticals for you).

    November 2nd, 2024

    Joseph Stiglitz

    Common sense from an economist unbeloved by the oligarchs.

    October 31st, 2024

    Another f’ing nazi…

    Senator Allen, accompanied by Brown Shirts, appears to have prematurely adopted a policy of violent confrontation when approached by the press. Hopefully Stark will sue his pants off. And their shirts. And the right-wing lout will lose the election. hopefully.

    October 31st, 2024

    The offending text…

    Here then is the excerpt from the Bishop’s “personal and confidential” message to his subordinates that I find so offensive:

    Please listen to the enclosed message: it deals with the marriage referendum, the death penalty referendum, and the issue of embryonic stem cell research. The message is educational in its purpose, and is certainly nonpartisan. What I expect of each of you is a simple introductory statement that the bishop has required this message to be played during the homily time at all Masses of obligation on November the 4 th or the 5 th. If you can express some support for the message that I offer that would be appreciated but not expected. I must make it very clear that any verbal or nonverbal expression of disagreement with this teaching on the part of the priest will have to be considered by myself as an act of disobedience, which could have serious consequences.

    Here is a link to the audio that the Bishop requires be played at all “masses of obligation” the weekend before the election.

    Tom Bozzo provides a nicely reasoned examination of the Bishop’s testing the limits of 501(c)(3) free speech in an electioneering context. Among many other fine arguments, he says,

    On same-sex marriage, the Church position, as we’ve noted before, is a mishmash of incoherently selective Biblical fundamentalism and rank hypocrisy. Once you move beyond ancient assertions of at best dubious provenance towards a rational view of homosexuality, it becomes frankly silly for any self-appointed defender of marriage to want to do anything other than encourage the formation and preservation of stable relationships. Morlino is also a fan of the “we’re just saving civilization” pitch, regarding which we note the continuing absence of the breakdown of civil society in those polities that tolerate same-sex marriage or at least equivalent civil rights.

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