Saturday, June 6, 2009

Reagan's Legacy of Failure

Reagan Years: A Contrarian's View

h/t to Millard Fillmore's Bathtub

California abandoned the memory of the guy who worked tirelessly to keep California in the Union during the Civil War, Unitarian Universalist preacher Starr King, replacing his statue in the U.S. Capitol’s pantheon of state heroes (two to a state) with a statue of Ronald Reagan. June 4 mark[ed] the fifth anniversary of Reagan’s passing. Older son Kenny sent a note today, saying he now understands why I was so troubled by the Reagan years. Some guy at The Free Speech Zone added it up — it has what AP history classes call a “point of view,” but calculate the serious factual error to fact ratio:

1) Treason: As a private citizen, and BEFORE the election, in contravention of both law and tradition, Reagan’s minions and handlers illegally negotiated with the Iranians to induce them hold the American Embassy hostages until after the elections,to embarrass President Carer and to prevent his successful negotiation of an “October Surprise.” Sent future VP George Bush, Sr., and future CIA chief William Casey to Paris to negotiate the deal.

2) Sent arms, including chemical weapons, to both Iraq and Iran during the decade-long Iran-Iraq war, making those two countries the two biggest US arms trading partners at precisely the time when it was illegal to trade with either due to both US and UN laws.

3) Iran/Contra: Used drug traffickers to transport illegal arms to Nicaragua, ignoring the contraband which was brought back on the return trip, creating a massive and immediate increase in cocaine trade in urban California. Illegally used the CIA to mine harbors and ferry Contra troops in Nicaragua. Eventually, several administration staffers were convicted of crimes ranging from lying to Congress to conspiracy to defraud the U.S. The scandal involved the administration selling arms to Iran and using proceeds from the sales to fund a guerrilla insurgent group in Nicaragua

4) Created alQaeda in Afghanistan to oppose the Soviet puppet/occupation there

5) Sponsored right-wing, State terrorism in El Salvador, Honduras, Haiti, and Guatemala against indigenous insurgents who were fighting the dictatorial, hereditary regimes there. Illegally invaded and occupied Grenada, overthrowing the democratically elected President

6) Lied about ALL of this activity before Congress, and suborned his Secretary of Defense to perjury, as well.

7) Rescinded Carter policy that all US international financial support be based upon valid human rights records.

8) Took the world to the brink of nuclear war, putting nuclear weapons into Europe, violating the very provision that was the settlement to the Cuban missile crisis.

9) Instituted the so-called “Mexico City” doctrine, effectively barring recipients of U.S. foreign aid from promoting abortion as a method of family planning.

10) Instigated trickle-down/voodoo economics, which was the beginning of what has recently culminated in the crash of the bubbles. Here is a subset of his regime’s economic sins:

a) Within the first year of the policy, we were in a depression caused in large measure by the policy. The “historic” 27% tax-cut was skewed two to one in favor of those making over $200,000 per year, in percentages, and far more in real dollars. By the end of the second year, increases in state and local taxes more than replaced the cuts for the middle class. b) Wages throughout Reagan/Bush remained stagnant in real dollars for the next 12 years, the longest and worst growth performance in middle class wages in US history. Average national growth was the lowest since the early 30s.

c) Conspired with corpoRat and congressional allies to sustain spending by loosening credit, to replace the wages they were not going to increase.

d) Named Ayn Rand acolyte and free-market apostle Alan Greenspan as Chief of the Federal Reserve.

11) The HUD/DoI Scandals: Samuel Pierce and his associates were found to have rewarded wealthy contributors to the administration’s campaign with funding for low income housing development without the customary background checks, and lobbyists, such as former Secretary of the Interior James G. Watt, were rewarded with huge lobbying fees for assisting campaign contributors with receiving government loans and guarantees. Sixteen convictions were eventually handed down, including several members of the Reagan administration.

12) Appointed some of the “worst” Federalist Society/strict constructionists to the federal bench, including Scalia, Kennedy, and O’Connor, ALL of whose votes were crucial in (illegally) installing GW Bush in the presidency in 2000, and named Rehnquist Chief Justice.

13) Ordered the revocation of the FCC regulation called “the Fairness Doctrine,” and opened up the Press to the rash of consolidations which has led, now, to a compromised, toothless, stenographic, lap-dog “Fourth Estate.”

14) Initiated the attack on labor unions by attacking PATCO, the Air Traffic Controllers union, creating a crisis in airport control towers nation-wide, and importantly, started the slow erosion of US worker wages and benefits.

15) Through the appointment of James Watt, who claimed that the environment was “expendable” since the “second coming of Christ was at hand,”, Reagan reduced clean water and air standards, reduced labor, mine, and industrial safety standards,and cut funding to supervisory and regulatory agencies charged with monitoring those industries.

16) Increased the defense budget to 240% previous levels.

17) Systematically ignored the beginning of the AIDS/HIV epidemic, blaming the victims publically.

18)The S&L collapse: Reagan’s “elimination of loopholes” in the tax code included the elimination of the “passive loss” provisions that subsidized rental housing. Because this was removed retroactively, it bankrupted many real estate developments made with this tax break as a premise. This with some other “deregulation” policies ultimately led to the largest political and financial scandal in U.S. history: The Savings and Loan crisis. The ultimate cost of the crisis is estimated to have totaled around USD $150 billion, about $125 billion of which was consequently and directly subsidized by the U.S. government, which contributed to the large budget deficits of the early 1990s.

19) Called ketchup a vegetable for the purposes of school-lunch funding and reduced early education and head-start funding.

20) Symbolically ripped the solar panels, installed by Pres. Carter, from the White House,and blamed trees for causing air pollution.

I had thought the savings and loan crisis more the result of Senate Banking Committee Chairman Jake Garn’s doing, but the dates are right. Nobel Economics Memorial Prize winner Paul Krugman offered some insight there, don’t miss Krugman’s column on our current economic woes.

He didn’t mention the killing of the program to wipe out measles, in the 1981 Budget Reconciliation. Paltry program cost $3 million a year, should have been done by 1985. Savings of about $12 million. Without the program, measles roared back. I could come up with a half dozen similar stories.

History teachers, got enough for a POV question on Reagan?


Friday, June 5, 2009

Today in Gay History

June 5, 1981

The Centers for Disease Control announced that five previously healthy gay men in Los Angeles had been diagnosed with PCP, a very rare form of pneumonia that did not ordinarily infect people with healthy immune systems. This announcement was the first official warning of what would become known first as the "Gay Cancer," then GRID (Gay Related Immune Deficiency) and finally, AIDS.

The CDC's mortality statistics, calculated through 2007, the last year for which compilation is complete, shows:

The cumulative estimated number of deaths of persons with AIDS in the United States and dependent areas, through 2007, was 583,298. In the 50 states and the District of Columbia, this included 557,902 adults and adolescents, and 4,891 children under age 13 years.

Freedom to Marry
~ As much about Justice as about Love


Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Bloggers Celebrate LGBT Families Day 2009

One of Crapaud's favorite gay bloggers, Waymon Hudson of Bilerico Project, posted this on June 1, 2009. Something worth pondering.

I often tire of the labels that those against LGBT people put on our families. They say they fight for "traditional marriage" and preserving "traditional families", T304195A.jpgas if there is such a thing. Their close-mindedness extends beyond just our community and hits any family that doesn't have some idyllic 1950's "Leave it to Beaver" scenario with mom, pop, kids, and a picket fence.

Whether it be our loving LGBT relationships, our chosen family of friends and support network, children raised by someone other than their biological parents, or single parent homes, we all get stuck with the same label by the fundamentalist crowd:

"Non-Traditional Family."

As someone who grew up with what they would view as the perfect scenario for a family- 2 parents for the three kids- I can say I much prefer the stability and love of the family I have built now.

CIMG1184.JPGAs much as I dislike labels, I often refer to the circle of love and support as my chosen family. It includes not only my husband and our son, but also our close friends, extended family, and others. As they say, "It takes a village"- and we have built our little tribe up to withstand just about anything life could throw at us.

I sometimes wonder how people can put their lives and families into such a little, constricting definition. By expanding my view of what family is beyond just what I was raised with, I have gained strength, support, and joy. In fact, when I started to deal with some of the difficulties part of my "traditional" family caused me, it was my real, chosen family that got me through it.

kiss.JPGThat's why I think that our greatest strength as a community are our families, however you choose to personally define it (or rather, not define it all). We show others that even through discrimination, adversity, and not being recognized in the eyes of the law, we thrive.

There's an old saying that "you can pick your nose, but you can't pick your family." Thankfully, our community is leading the way in breaking that stereotype. We know that family isn't in the genes, it's in the love you surround yourself with.

For more "Blogging for LGBT Families Day 2009" blogs, visit


Tuesday, June 2, 2009

June is LGBT Pride Month

H/T to Joe.My.God for calling this proclamation to the attention of the Crapaud Clan!

Obama Issues Gay Pride Proclamation

Hours after a similar statement released by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, President Obama has issued his own recognition of LGBT Pride Month. Here is his complete proclamation (PDF).


Forty years ago, patrons and supporters of the Stonewall Inn in New York City resisted police harassment that had become all too common for members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community. Out of this resistance, the LGBT rights movement in America was born. During LGBT Pride Month, we commemorate the events of June 1969 and commit to achieving equal justice under law for LGBT Americans.

LGBT Americans have made, and continue to make, great and lasting contributions that continue to strengthen the fabric of American society. There are many well-respected LGBT leaders in all professional fields, including the arts and business communities. LGBT Americans also mobilized the Nation to respond to the domestic HIV/AIDS epidemic and have played a vital role in broadening this country's response to the HIV pandemic.

Due in no small part to the determination and dedication of the LGBT rights movement, more LGBT Americans are living their lives openly today than ever before. I am proud to be the first President to appoint openly LGBT candidates to Senate-confirmed positions in the first 100 days of an Administration. These individuals embody the best qualities we seek in public servants, and across my Administration -- in both the White House and the Federal agencies -- openly LGBT employees are doing their jobs with distinction and professionalism.

The LGBT rights movement has achieved great progress, but there is more work to be done. LGBT youth should feel safe to learn without the fear of harassment, and LGBT families and seniors should be allowed to live their lives with dignity and respect.

My Administration has partnered with the LGBT community to advance a wide range of initiatives. At the international level, I have joined efforts at the United Nations to decriminalize homosexuality around the world. Here at home, I continue to support measures to bring the full spectrum of equal rights to LGBT Americans. These measures include enhancing hate crimes laws, supporting civil unions and Federal rights for LGBT couples, outlawing discrimination in the workplace, ensuring adoption rights, and ending the existing "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy in a way that strengthens our Armed Forces and our national security. We must also commit ourselves to fighting the HIV/AIDS epidemic by both reducing the number of HIV infections and providing care and support services to people living with HIV/AIDS across the United States.

These issues affect not only the LGBT community, but also our entire Nation. As long as the promise of equality for all remains unfulfilled, all Americans are affected. If we can work together to advance the principles upon which our Nation was founded, every American will benefit. During LGBT Pride Month, I call upon the LGBT community, the Congress, and the American people to work together to promote equal rights for all, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim June 2009 as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Pride Month. I call upon the people of the United States to turn back discrimination and prejudice everywhere it exists.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this first day of June, in the year of our Lord two thousand nine, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-third.


Monday, June 1, 2009

Today in Gay History

June 1, 2007

A Domestic Partnership law

went into effect in Washington State

By registering, unmarried gay couples and unmarried straight couples could have their relationships recognized by the state, and thereby be accorded automatic rights formerly only existing in favor of married spouses: hospital visitation rights, the ability to authorize autopsies and organ donations, and inheritance rights when there is no will.

After almost 2 years without the earth coming to an end, that state's legislature recently passed a bill that extends all the 170+ state-given benefits and obligations of being married to same-sex or opposite-sex couples who register as domestic partners.

It's dubbed the "everything but marriage" law. Its point is: Marriage Equality may still be technically in the future, but in the meantime gay and lesbian couples in Washington state should have the same legal protections as everyone else there.

The measure adds domestic partners to sections of laws where previously only spouses were mentioned, including areas referring to probate and trusts, community property and homestead exemptions, and guardianship and powers of attorney.

Opponents argued that expanding the current law dilutes traditional marriage.

"This measure will have a negative impact on our families, it will have a negative impact on the Defense of Marriage Act and a negative impact on society," said Rep. Bob Sump, R-Republic. He cited no examples of how this sudden evil effect would come about.

Giving lie to the convention that its only "marriage" that the right wing-nuts oppose, the dark force powers of hatred and bigotry have invaded Washington with $$ and €€ and ++ BS ++ to try to gather signatures to overturn all this progress by placing "Referendum 71" on the fall ballot.

Referendum 71 seeks to overturn the latest expansion of Washington's domestic partner law, which gives registered partners the same state rights as married couples. It doesn't apply under federal law. The umbrella groups sponsoring this referendum, Protect Marriage Washington, and Washington Values Alliance need to gather 121,000 valid signatures of Washington voters on a petition by July 25 to legally compel the issue to referendum.

A pox on their houses I say!!


The Big Gay Chip on My (Straight) Shoulder

Rob Thomas ~ Singer, Activist
Writing recently on the Huffington Post

. . . I'm writing about basic civil rights. We've been here before, fighting for the rights of African Americans or women to vote, or the rights of Jewish Americans to worship as they see fit. And, just as whites fought for African Americans or Christians for Jewish Americans, straight people must stand up and be a voice for gay people.

I've heard it said before, many times, that if two men or two women are allowed to join into a civil union together, why can't they be happy with that and why is it so important that they call it marriage? In essence, what's in a name?

A civil union has to do with death. It's essentially a document that gives you lower taxes and the right to let your faux spouse collect your insurance when you pass away. A marriage is about life. It's about a commitment. And this argument is about allowing people to have the right to make that commitment, even if it doesn't make sense to you. Anything else falls under the category of "separate but equal" and we know how that works out.

The support of legalizing gay marriage is in no way meant to change the ideals of the section of Christians who believe that homosexuality is a sin. But we should refuse to let other people's ideals shape the way we live our lives. Each of us has a short ride on this earth and as long as we stay in our lane, and don't affect someone else's ride, we should be allowed to drive as we see fit.

I am a straight man, with a big gay chip on my shoulder.

Read the Whole Article here

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Stand Out Story of the Week




Today in Gay History

Happy 190th Birthday

Walt Whitman

born this date in 1819

The male body and the male genitals are for Whitman a prime example of the act of suppression in the name of propriety. He will name them and praise them, locating them directly in the landscape of nature poetry:

Root of washed sweet-flag, timorous pond-snipe, nest of guarded duplicate eggs,it shall be you,
Mixed tussled hay of head and beard and brawn it shall be you;
Trickling sap of maple, fibre of manly wheat, it shall be you . . .
Winds whose soft-tickling genitals rub against me it shall be you,
Broad muscular fields, branches of liveoak, loving lounger in my winding paths, it shall be you,
Hands I have taken, face I have kissed, mortal I have ever touched, it shall be you.
("Song of Myself," ll. 535-543)