There is a big controversy brewing. It has been discovered that a letter from Obama during the No On 8 campaign was not effectively used to counter our opponents. It was sent to the Alice B. Toklas group, a Democratic club in San Francisco.
It seems there was an idiotic concern that no one would know who this club was. There was also some misplaced hesitation because people did not want to hurt Obama's chances of winning. This strategic disaster was unfortunate, because the opposition flogged the fact (See Above) that Obama was against same-sex marriage. Here is an excerpt from the Obama letter:
"As the Democratic nominee for President, I am proud to join with and support the LGBT community in an effort to set our nation on a course that recognizes LGBT Americans with full equality under the law. That is why I support extending fully equal rights and benefits to same sex couples under both state and federal law... And that is why I oppose the divisive and discriminatory efforts to amend the California Constitution, and similar efforts to amend the U.S. Constitution or those of other states...Finally, I want to congratulate all of you who have shown your love for each other by getting married these last few weeks."
To begin with, Obama's letter should have been placed in a full-page ad in the Los Angeles Times. His statement should have been repeated endlessly. It was clearly a mistake not to do so.
The fact that there was a big debate over this is also disturbing. Sometimes things are not very complicated. Chemistry and trigonometry are complicated. Deciding to use Obama's letter in a significant and robust way was not.
And this point about the letter being to Toklas - which people would not get? Um, please. Who cares if he wrote the letter to the Smurfs? It was still a hot commodity that should have been leveraged. This was a no brainer.
I know there are many people who worked really hard on this campaign and they deserve our deep gratitude and respect. They put their lives on hold and had many sleepless nights to win this battle. And, we should always place these things in the context of the swirl of a campaign - much like the fog of war.
But, this does seem like a missed opportunity.
Finally, there are some who think that activists outside the No On 8 campaign should have promoted this letter. I think it is wrong to assign blame to other advocates. Personally, I did not want to do anything to mess up the Prop 8 campaign. (I also did not know about this letter). They had a huge operation and I did not want to jeopardize it, get in the way - nor be blamed - for undermining their message and our chances in California. So, I stepped aside and focused on the things that Truth Wins Out does.
I think many others felt the same way and said, "let the campaign handle the campaign." So, to say that we are now responsible for not sending out campaign messages is a little unfair. What if each one of us had set up mini-Prop 8 message machines? Would that not have led to chaos?
Let's admit mistakes. Learn from them. Move on, and win next time. The Prop. 8 battle, the post-analysis, the protests and the court case have strengthened our community. It is like each one of us has gone through a graduate school course in campaigns and activism. We are better than ever - and will grow stronger by learning from our tactical blunders - not promoting Obama's letter being chief among them.
(Perhaps someone who was high up in the No On 8 campaign has a different take and can shed some light on this issue?)
So, Jamie - my boyfriend - and I were sipping some wine last week and looking to get frisky. Fortunately, there was an amazing new CD by recording artist Ron Perkov that fit the mood. His new "Intimate Chill-Out" CD was packed with cool tunes and smooth, sexy vocals - that were perfect for romance, as well as just relaxing. I highly recommend it, plus Perkov is easy on the eyes.
While this is welcome news, there is no guarantee of a "welcome mat" for gay and lesbian soldiers if the ban is lifted. In the years since Don't Ask, Don't Tell was adopted in 1993, there has been a rigorous effort to force religion into the barracks. Fundamentalist Christian groups have infiltrated some of our leading military bases and have made life uncomfortable for anyone who does not conform.
This first came to light in 2005 after the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs had become a bastion of Anti-Semitism and Christian proselytizing. The problem escalated as some cadets were reportedly harassed and called "filthy Jews." A chaplain who complained about the Biblical abuse was unceremoniously demoted and shipped off to Japan. To stop the attempted conversions, the military brass had to meet with the Anti-Defamation League.
Sadly, the proselytizing continues with powerful military leaders behaving more like missionaries, than soldiers entrusted with fulfilling military missions.
"Why is it acceptable that soldiers are unable to serve this nation without attending state-led religious practices they find offensive and false?" Specialist Dustin Chalker, an army medic based at Fort Detrick, in Maryland, asked in The New York Times.
The Times article said that many service members are made uncomfortable by the outsized influence of private groups, such as Officers Christian Fellowship and the Campus Crusade for Christ's Military Ministry.
"You can't and shouldn't eliminate the spiritual component in the military," argued Bruce Fister, Executive Director of Officers' Christian Fellowship, in the Times.
Excuse me, why is there a "spiritual component" in a pluralistic military whose goal is to safeguard a people governed by the United States Constitution? The very document that they are entrusted with protecting forbids a state religion.
The fact is, a service member can pray anytime he or she desires. Within a ten mile radius of almost any base is a plethora of evangelical or fundamentalist churches to choose from. Thus, no one will be denied their freedom of religion if the presence of these predatory organizations is expunged from military bases. It is time to drain the swamp.
Of course, we all know the purpose of these groups is to turn religion from a private, individual matter into a coercive team sport. "Team Jesus" is a better instrument to pressure cadets into converting -- especially if it offers ambitious soldiers a competitive advantage to rise through the ranks. (At the Air Force Academy in 2005, the football coach actually did post a locker room banner that read, "Team Jesus.")
It is also problematic that a group with the name "Crusade" is allowed anywhere near our military. In case these religious renegades haven't noticed, we are fighting two wars in the Muslim world. The very word "crusade" is a potent rallying cry for Al Qaeda to recruit terrorists to murder U.S. forces. A group with a name like Campus Crusade sends the wrong message and may endanger our troops.
Finally, religion does not always equate with moral superiority. I wouldn't doubt if the porn lobby is secretly cheering for mass conversions on military bases. A new nationwide study of credit card receipts from a major online adult entertainment provider shows that states that consume the most porn tend to be more conservative and religious than states with lower levels of consumption.
"Some of the people who are most outraged turn out to be consumers of the very things they claimed to be outraged by," said Benjamin Edelman at Harvard Business School.
As we contemplate the battle over allowing openly gay people in the military, we should also consider what type of military they would serve in. As a nation, we must ensure that the military's number one priority is preparing for war, not worship. If we don't grapple with this issue, Don't Ask, Don't Tell may become, Do Tell, Live In Hell for gay and lesbian service members brave enough to come out.
In 1988, Don Wildmon's American Family Association (AFA) went after Mighty Mouse. The Tupelo, MS group claimed the naughty pixilated mouse had snorted cocaine. Yeah, I know the rodent is hyped up sometimes, but the charge still seems a little bizarre and far fetched.
The cartoon's creator, Ralph Bakshi, had fallen under suspicion by the AFA because of his role in making an X-rated animated feature, "Fritz the Cat." However, Bakshi had also won an award for "Mighty Mouse" from Action for Children's Television.
In the disputed episode, Wildmon charged Bakshi with portraying Mighty Mouse as experiencing drug-induced exhilaration after inhaling the petals of a flower. Mighty Mouse had sniffed cocaine, Wildmon contended.
Bakshi defended his cartoon, insisting that Wildmon had interpreted the scene out of context. However, Bakshi said he was removing the scene because of his concern that the controversy might lead children to believe that what Wildmon was saying was true. Wildmon interpreted the cut differently. "This is a de facto admission that indeed Mighty Mouse was snorting cocaine," Wildmon said. "We have been vindicated."
Well, this was the beginning of James Dobson claiming that Sponge Bob Square Pants was gay and the late Rev. Falwell saying that the the purple teletubby Tinky Winky was gay. In terms of nuttiness, Wildmon was way ahead of his time - and the AFA's crusades rage on today.
(partially excerpted from the Media Coalition, Christopher M. Finan and Anne F. Castro)
I absolutely loved Frank Rich's column today in the New York Times. The best part was when he exposed the utter hypocrisy of Republican up-and-comers Bobby Jindal, Louisiana's governor and Mark Sanford, South Carolina's governor. Both of these phonies have sold the bogus story of rising from difficult circumstances though hard work. The reality of these silver spoon spinners looks a little different than the campaign storyline. Rich writes in the New York Times:
What such G.O.P. "stars" as Sanford and Jindal have in common, besides their callous neo-Hoover ideology, are their phony efforts to portray themselves as populist heroes. Their role model is W., that brush-clearing "rancher" by way of Andover, Yale and Harvard. Listening to Jindal talk Tuesday night about his immigrant father's inability to pay for an obstetrician, you'd never guess that at the time his father was an engineer and his mother an L.S.U. doctoral candidate in nuclear physics. Sanford's first political ad in 2002 told of how growing up on his "family's farm" taught him "about hard work and responsibility." That "farm," the Charlotte Observer reported, was a historic plantation appraised at $1.5 million in the early 1980s. From that hardscrabble background, he struggled on to an internship at Goldman Sachs.