Category: politics

The truth about the opposition

I’m speaking of the opposition to gay rights and marriage equality.

Here is what I see as the real truth. The opposition numbers far below supporters. For example today at the Maine State House.one Peter LaBarbera (aka Porno Petey) of Americans for truth against Homosexuality (ATAH), was having a little pre-voting speech. Of course the entire content of LaBarbera’s speech was filled with religious biogtry.

The real issue is how many supporters of LaBarbera and ATAH showed up. There were about 36 people from what I read over at Pam’s House Blend.

Per the breakdown only 9 of them were part of Porno Petey’s Posse.

I’ve seen the same thing here in RI when NOM does a dog and pony show. They get maybe five or six of their ‘friends’ to come out. Here is one example from a Marriage Equality RI gathering back on June 6, 2009.

They’re to the center left in the above photo, all five of them including Chris “The Whore” Plante, NOM RI Director.

What I’m trying to say is this, those who oppose us are a vocal minority. It isn’t easy being a bigot. That’s why you’ll see several hundred supporters and maybe a dozen opposition if you’re lucky.

Same was true at the National Equality March in D.C. You had the usual crazies like the WBC but the opposition was maybe 0.00000001% of the total crowd.

And then let us look at the Catholic Church in Rhode Island.

How many people still attend church? I know when I go by Holy Ghost church down the street from me on a Sunday morning I don’t see a full parking lot nor do I see a lot of people in there.

Nope, instead who do we hear from? That dwindling class, the clerics who oppose marriage equality. They’re loud about it too. You get bigots like Malone in Maine, or Tobin here in RI. They are bishops but I refuse to respect use of the honorifics for the religious. And I’m sure we’ll hear from John Codega or Bernard Healey at the next round of hearings. But the reality is, they’ve lost this battle and they refuse to admit it. Instead they’ll beat around biblical passages to try and prove that their god is in the right.

Their god has been wrong before (Need I mention slavery? Or the other Levitical passages regarding grooming and eating habits?).

But we on the side of equality will prevail. We are learning how to outshout the opposition without having to raise our voice because of the sheer numbers we have that support us.

And I’m putting Speaker Murphy and Senate President Paiva-Weed on notice once again. You’re both playing with fire. You don’t want to see what happens when the body you lead goes against your wishes.

And to Governor Carcieri, hugs and kisses! It is now my prime mission to not only aggravate you but to annoy you so much that the real bigot in you will shine through.

I attended the National Equality March for gay rights

We left Saturday evening around midnight. We were supposed to leave at 11PM but the one of the drivers had twisted his ankle.

It’s a good thing too. We had about 34 people a the Stop & Shop on Branch Ave rally spot, and we picked up another 20 students from Brown University. So we managed to fill a bus, in fact we actually had to turn a few people away.

On the ride down I think the only one who got any sleep was my friend Rich. Otherwise I was either listening to my iPod (Which needs a little surgery, the earphone jack is messed up.) or talking or trying to sleep but I was far too excited to sleep. Very early in the morning I did hear someone explaining quantum physics and the Standard Model to Luther but I’m not sure who it was, probably one of the Brown students.

Other people that I knew on the bus were both Brians (Brian C. and Brian R.), Josh, James, Shaun, Paul H. and Paul L, and Brandon and probably some whose names escape me at the moment since one of the effects of sleep deprivation is loss of cognitive function.

We got in to Washington, D.C. at 7:30AM and the first order of business was breakfast and yes, coffee. I needed the caffeine blast. Supplemented it with Coca Cola later on at lunch.

We went to this little Burger King since it was the only thing that was a) not a Starbucks and b) We couldn’t find a basic mom and pop shop in D.C. that served breakfast. So Burger King it was. I had a sausage croissant with something that might pass for home fries but turned out to be hard little pucks of potato .The second floor of the place was straight out of the 1970’s:

Burger King in DC
Burger King in DC

Don’t worry – you’re not seeing things. I guess the caffeine had kicked in when I snapped the above frame.

After BK we ran into the Equality Utah folks at a convenience store. Rich was a little shocked by that since Utah is well known as a Mormon stronghold

We spent a little time wandering around D.C. checking out statuary, monuments and such.

Saw the White House and I can’t believe how dinky it looks.

White House
White House

She who hocked the Jewels to finance the journey of Columbus. Apropos for Columbus day isnt’ it?

Queen Isabel
Queen Isabel

The inscription roughly translates to “Ysabel’s first Catholic kingdom of aragon castile islands and mainland of the ocean sea.

The Washington Monument:

Washington Monument
Washington Monument

We saw that as well as statues of Andrew Jackson, and other notables.

We grabbed lunch at a little place called Cosi’s. I had the roast beef with wasabi and pickled ginger. It was a little pricey since the sandwich, chips and a drink came to $9.99. Though I very rarely order out anymore so I may have lost touch with prices. I ended up taking $60 with me and only spending $30 throughout the day.

I noticed during the morning that we didn’t see a lot of people milling around. I found out later why that was the case.

They staggered the locations and times for all the bus drop offs.

Just before the march there was a little warm up march.

We left the restaurant at about 11:30AM and made our way over to the rally point at 15th and K Streets. What we hadn’t realized it buy by the time we got to the really point, there was that a large group had already stepped off for the march. If you click on my flickr photos you’ll see a few parts where the pictures capture the march as it’s already turned the corner and is heading down another street.

Here is a video when we were waiting to kick off the march. They staged it pretty well though.

An Edge Providence photographer took some pics with me, Rich, RI Rep. Frank Ferri, and his partner Tony Caparco. Rich and I both had our MERI t-shirts on.

I’ll have more video from the march soon. I hadn’t realized what a bear it is to process just 15 or so minutes of raw video.

During the march itself we were chanting various things. At one point a D.C. cop helped us to keep cadence with his whistle.

When we finally got to the U.S. Capitol it was getting mobbed. I decided to go use the facilities but couldn’t get back in to hear the speakers. So I wandered the city a bit instead but I can tell you this, the crowd was at least a quarter million people or more.

And there were only a small handful of religious idiots on the sidelines. One carried the standard “1 Man, 1 Woman” sign. Fucking bigot. I believe but cannot verify that I told him to “Stick your god up your ass.”

Otherwise the parade was uneventful. We did have a chant-off with a group from Texas though. And I loved every minute of it. As I post more video and pictures you’ll understand. In fact the march had a certain energy to it. I really really loved being there.

On the bus ride back we watched the movie “Milk”. The movie was ideally coupled to what we just did. That was Harvey Milk’s main modus operandi. Get out and be an activist.

One funny moment came when Paul L. was perusing Facebook learned that I was gay. I just gave him the “It’s pretty obvious.” look.

Otherwise on the ride back we pretty much slept. I even slept from the end of Milk until we were just about out of Connecticut. So that’s about an hour and half. I did wake up in time to see Orion just above the horizon when we were still in the Connecticut woods.

Got home around 2:40AM, kissed Keyron, and went to bed. Rolled out of bed at 9AM. And I’m still recovering. My throat is sore and I’m just coming down off a major caffeine jag. This is the reason I don’t normally drink coffee.

I know that this one came on kind of fast but I think we’ll see another one next year. I just have that feeling because of the foot dragging over DADT and DOMA. So I think they should start planning now. We need to turn up the pressure on our elected reps. If you didn’t make it this year, you damn well better make the next march!

And I promise to be more coordinated next time, E.g. I’ll buy a throw-away cell phone so we can all link up. And I think knowing the city a little better I can suggest rally points (10th and K is actually a good one) for those who wish to join the group.

And when I got home I had an idea. The idea was to find all Marriage Equality supporters in Governor Carcieri’s home districts. Couple that with the fact that Carcieri has open door Thursdays and you can see where this is going. I found 250 people on the list so here we go!

In which I charge Governor Carcieri of RI with Perjury

We’ve recently become aware that RI Governor Donald Carcieri is going to be the keynote speaker at the Massachusetts Family Institute.

Governor Carcieri has accepted an invitation to headline the annual fundraising banquet for the Massachusetts Family Institute, an advocacy organization that promotes marriage between a man and a woman and considers homosexuality “an unhealthy practice and destructive to individuals, families and society.”

First a little background on the Massachusetts Family Institute.

They hold themselves to be fairly innocuous and even friendly. Look at these points from their about us page:

* Educating families and children about the dangers of unsafe Internet use
* Preventing sexual abuse of children
* Enforcing statutory rape laws
* Strengthening, protecting, and preserving marriage between a man and a woman
* Restricting gambling within the Commonwealth
* Providing resources to help fathers meet the financial and emotional needs of their young families
* Educating children and adults on the spread of dangerous sexually transmitted diseases, and the benefits of sexual abstinence
* MFI is an independent, not-for-profit organization and supported through the generosity of our contributors.

Note the highlighted segment.

And note the abstinence part. Yes hide your heads in the sand and pretend that your teenager won’t know how to have sex. It’s pretty simple, animals do it all the time. Tab A to Slot B and bam, the owner of Slot B is impregnated. All because you taught abstinence instead of human sexuality.

A little further digging finds this:

MFI does not consider homosexual behavior to be merely an alternate lifestyle or sexual “preference”; it is an unhealthy practice and destructive to individuals, families and society. Our compassion for those plagued by same-sex attraction compels us to support the healing of those who wish to change their behavior. MFI strongly opposes any efforts by political activists to normalize homosexual behavior and all attempts to equate homosexuality with benign characteristics such as skin color, or the “gay rights” movement with the civil rights movement.

It is not an alternative lifestyle, it is a life. It is not a sexual preference, using the word preference implies that being gay is a choice. I’d like to ask their membership and our Governor, when did you decide to be heterosexual?

They then go on about healing homosexuality “for those who wish to change.” I’m one recalcitrant homo, I don’t want to change, and I don’t believe in God. Yes I’m a godless gay heathen. You can try changing me whilst staring down the barrel of a gun held by me.

And we’re not trying to equate being gay with anything. What we are asserting is our civil rights under that pesky document, the RI Constitution. I direct you attention to Article 1 Section 2. Granted, it was only inserted in 1986 but it’s still part of our Constitution as it stands.

Section 2. Laws for good of whole — Burdens to be equally distributed — Due process — Equal protection — Discrimination — No right to abortion granted. — All free governments are instituted for the protection, safety, and happiness of the people. All laws, therefore, should be made for the good of the whole; and the burdens of the state ought to be fairly distributed among its citizens. No person shall be deprived of life, liberty or property without due process of law, nor shall any person be denied equal protection of the laws. No otherwise qualified person shall, solely by reason of race, gender or handicap be subject to discrimination by the state, its agents or any person or entity doing business with the state. Nothing in this section shall be construed to grant or secure any right relating to abortion or the funding thereof.

All laws made for the good of whole. Note, WHOLE. That means everyone. Not just the 90% or so of RI’ers who identify as heterosexual.

Now here’s where the crux of my argument comes in. This is the oath that the Governor has sworn not just once but twice.

Section 3. Oath of general officers. — All general officers shall take the following engagement before they act in their respective offices, to wit: You being by the free vote of the electors of this state of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations, elected unto the place of do solemnly swear (or, affirm) to be true and faithful unto this state, and to support the Constitution of this state and of the United States; that you will faithfully and impartially discharge all the duties of your aforesaid office to the best of your abilities, according to law: So help you God. Or: This affirmation you make and give upon the peril of the penalty of perjury.!

So I now charge RI Governor Carcieri with Perjuring his oath of office. My reasoning behind this is his vociferous opposition to my rights as enumerated in the RI Constitution. By doing this and being the headline speaker for the Massachusetts Family Institute he is in direct violation of not just my rights, but the rights of all GLBT people in RI.

Good Article on the Birther/Healthcare/Socilist BS out there

Check out this Newsweek article.

In other words – Machiavellian thought. The ends justify the means.

Doesn’t surprise me since I consider that type of behavior to be intellectually lazy. It reminds me of the guy who attended an abortion protest. He asked the participants if they though abortion should be illegal and every one answered in the affirmative. He then asked each a second question: What crime should a woman who seeks an abortion be charged with? The blank stares were stunning.

I may have high Machiavellian tendencies but that’s just from working in state government for 5 years.

But I see this same method being used to stop marriage equality too. Look at the likes of Maggie Gallagher, or even RI Director Chris Plante. They usually tip-toe around even mentioning same sex marriage but I found a video clip of Maggie just bashing the hell out of the idea.

It’s come to the point in time where most of the people (aka sheeple) can be lead along because our education system has failed. This was by design mind you, for a population capable of critical thinking skills is a danger to the status quo.

For example, what would have the administration of George W. Bush been able to get away with if the majority of our 300 million plus could actually compare and contrast, to think about what they were shoveling instead of blindly trusting them to do the right thing.

We’re in the age of psyops. The CIA perfected it, and now it’s used on us on a regular basis. Look at the credit bubble, the housing bubble, et al. The message all along was “buy, buy, buy”. Some of us ignored the message. We also ignored the FUD (Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt) being served by the Bush administration. Maybe it is because years ago I switched off the television and radio. There are those who promote the idea that people who don’t watch television or listen to the radio are somewhat socially inferior.

But the reality is, does it really matter what TV characters do, or what ads tell you to buy, or tell you that you need? Instead we ought to devote more time to knowing what government is doing, to mentoring, volunteering, knowing your neighbors, in essence making it a better place.

RI Tax Stupidity

Yes I’m calling on you Representative Costantino, I emailed you about the Amazon tax issue and got no reply at all. So I’ll do this publicly.

The Providence Journal recently had a piece that says a D.C. based group called Budget and Policy Priorities supports the so called “Amazon Tax” implemented by New York and Rhode Island.

This is just another example of the utter ignorance of our state legislators. Maybe if you didn’t give away the candy store in the form of tax breaks to corporations that hardly need them, you wouldn’t be in the bind you’re in now. Seriously, did Bank of America really need a tax break, or Fidelity? No they didn’t.

But the “Amazon Tax” astounds me. In this case RI basically told the big online (and small) retailers that they’d have to collect RI Sales tax on all sales.

And predictably what did Amazon et al do? They discontinued their relationship with all RI based sellers, e.g. people who lived in RI and sold their goods via Amazon et al.

The net effect of this is as I predicted to reduce net taxes in RI. There have been a few comments on the articles on the Providence Journal that make that exact point. If you’re a seller and can no longer sell on Amazon, you don’t generate any revenue for the state to collect taxes on.

Did our brilliant legislators even stop to consider that fact?

Here is my proposal:

It’s simple. Go into MA and copy their sales tax statutes and then paste them into RI general law over our sales tax statutes. Because the state loses more sales tax revenue to people taking a 10 or 15 minute drive into Massachusetts and buying big ticket items then coming back to RI. Lets say you buy a $1,,200 computer in RI, the total would come to $1,284 (7% sales tax) whereas in MA the total would come to $1,260, (5% sales tax), or a $24 difference.

The MA tax applies to categories that the RI tax doesn’t but it broadens the tax base. MA taxes OTC drugs, books, and clothing. RI doesn’t tax those.

But by tying RI’s sales tax rate to that in MA, you make it disincentive to travel to MA to make purchases.

Lets try an experiment:

Let the total retail sales dollars in ri (R) = $1,000,000,000
Let’s say that of those sales dollars, approximately 40% is non taxable leaving us with $600,000,000. Let us also assume that approximately 30% of sales flees to MA. That leaves $420,000,000 in sales with taxes at 7% being $29,400,000.

Now lets do the same thing and apply a 5% tax to the entire billion. Now you have parity with MA and you’ve broadened the tax base so that everything (Books, clothing, otc etc.) is taxed.

The state of RI would get $50,000,000, or $20,600,000 more in tax revenue.

It just makes sense.

RI Senator Leo Blais (R) Coventry in trouble again

The only reason I’m posting this is because Blais is one of our most vociferous enemies in the Rhode Island Senate. At marriage equality hearings he likes to say that he hears from ALL of his constituents when the reality is that he only hears from perhaps a small number of them.

I made this point in a meeting I attended at MERI. Most of our legislators only hear from us when we’ve got something to gripe about, they never get any encouragement from their constituents. I’ve made the point that we should all be contacting those legislators that support marriage equality and thanking them for that support and asking them to help us move it forward.

But Blais, he’s just a jackass plain and simple. Apparently he’s being sanctioned by the board of Rhode Island Board of Pharmacy.

From the article:

PROVIDENCE — The state Board of Pharmacy has taken disciplinary action against Sen. Leo R. Blais, R-Coventry, for a spate of violations uncovered in a routine inspection of his pharmacy, Pawtuxet Valley Prescription Center, in October 2007, including poor record keeping, a failure to segregate “outdated, unusable and mislabeled” medications to make sure none were dispensed and “misbranded drugs.”

The board voted unanimously on Thursday to publicly reprimand him and place him on probation for two years, during which time he will be monitored and be required to submit quarterly reports “evidencing compliance.”

And this isn’t Blais’ first time in the rodeo:

In 1999, the board suspended his licenses as a pharmacist, a pharmacy registrant (the person responsible for a pharmacy), and as a pharmaceutical wholesaler for six months but stayed the suspensions, instead placing Blais on probation for one year. The violations then included errors in dispensing drugs, dispensing drugs without a valid prescription and poor record keeping.

So in ten years Sen. Blais has been looked at by the Board of Pharmacy twice. During that time he’s also filed a Chapter 11 re-organization on his pharmacy.

Perhaps Senator Blais should resign from the Senate and focus on his business.

Californians against Hate fight back!

This is great news. The anti equality groups are really having a tough time pushing their message. It is a Sisyphean task when you really think about it.

And even the architect of John McCain’s campaign has come out and said the GOP has to embrace marriage equality! Not to mention McCain’s wife and daughter trying to peddle the softer side of the GOP. Sorry but that is a tough sell. I see the GOP as the Party of Business. Remember that one? Their mantra seems to be cut taxes and increase spending. We’re going to pay the price of that one for a long time.

But it proves that everything being put forth by the National Organization for Marriage is deceitful and fraudulent. Not to mention I strongly suspect that NOM has a mole inside, how else could they not know what M4M stands for?

Californians against Hate/Mormongate
Californians against Hate/Mormongate

But I will say without a doubt that the Roman Catholic Church is involved with this too. Curiously I can’t find any records of the formation of NOM in RI, which means this is being driven from elsewhere. So I cannot get any financial info on the organization.

But if the Catholic church still has any money left, I’m pretty sure based on their lobby activity against marriage equality that they kicked a few bucks into NOM. Consider that Bishop Tobin and parish priest John Codega are both NOM ‘advisers’.

But of course church financial records are restricted, lest anyone get any idea how much all that real estate is really worth.

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Now playing: Blue Öyster Cult – (Don’t Fear) The Reaper
via FoxyTunes

Health Care Stories

This evening I attended a Spaghetti Dinner sponsored by Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI).

Met up with a couple of people on Sheldon’s staff that I had worked with when we were all at the RI Secretary of State’s office. Overall all about 130 people showed up for the event.

The event was MC’d by Providence Mayor David Ciciline:

Mayor Ciciline MCs Health Care Dinner
Mayor Ciciline MC's Health Care Dinner

And then Sheldon got up to say a few words before handing microphones out to the crowd:

Senator Sheldon Whitehouse
Senator Sheldon Whitehouse

It was a bit of a political who’s who, what with city councilmen John Lombardi (Ward, 13) , Nick Narducci (Ward 4), Peter Mancini (Ward 14), Terry Hasset (Ward 12), and Michael Solomon (Ward 5) and Rep. Grace Diaz. Also in attendance was Providence Police Chief Dean Esserman. One commonality among the politicians that attended, they all represent areas with a large number of elderly and economically disadvantaged.

There were some compelling stories. I didn’t tell mine but I’ve gone without treatment for this inner ear condition because I don’t even have coverage at this point. And the nerve sectioning in the inner ear won’t be cheap I’m sure. Other people were talking about the $15,000 for this, $7,000 for that, etc. The time and money wasted because we don’t have a viable public health care solution yet.

Sheldon did talk about a public insurance program. And he alluded to something that I should have asked but didn’t. He says that the public system will cause the private system to shape up. I suspect the public system would drain off the more expensive cases from the private insurers. In order to balance the system strong regulation would need to be put in place. Perhaps a fair system for those with expensive chronic conditions would be to create a pool of insurers including the public and assign people to those insurers by random lottery. This way all plans would share in the care for chronic conditions.

Sheldon did touch on efficiencies in health care delivery which is encouraging. But the idea of a for-profit insurer or a for-profit health provider runs counter to my beliefs. I don’t mean doctors and nurses should be taking a lower rate of pay, but that hospitals and insurers need to change the focus form providing for the shareholders to providing for the insured.

Our numbers are legion

The Providence Journal in its coverage of Governor Carcieri joining forces with the National Organization for Marriage put it’s poll on marriage equality back online.

Here are the current numbers:

ProJo Marriage Equality Poll Results as of April 10, 2009
ProJo Marriage Equality Poll Results as of April 10, 2009

56.99% in favor, 43.01% opposed. In other words 57/43. We’re bumping up towards 60% which means we now have majority support.

It has to happen sooner or later, either via legislative or judicial avenues. Its just that RI is starting to look foolish since our two nearest neighbors, MA and CT both have marriage equality and the sky hasn’t fallen yet.

Sure we get the likes of NOM with their most recent ad, howling about how a doctor gets abused, or how we take away choice. It’s all based on religious beliefs anyhow. Too bad, religion had its chance to be a force for good in the world. Instead they’ll now try to use marriage equality as a wedge issue. But people aren’t buying the bullshit any longer.

The tide is turning. Someone had posted a snapshot of NOM’s YouTube ratings, 99% of the time they got 1 star on their videos. I flagged a number as hate speech.