Catapulting the Propaganda: Tender Sensibilities and Faux Outrage

When a foreign official accuses another nation of engaging in Goebbel-esque propaganda campaigns, it’s sure to make news. Yesterday, Brazil’s trade minister accused “rich nations” (read: the U.S.) of using Joesph Goebbel’s infamous strategy of repeating lies enough times that the lies become conventional wisdom. The Bush administration reacted sharply – but didn’t deny the accusations, only the reference.

Commentary By: Richard Blair

Faux outrage always amuses me, particularly when it’s projected for media / public consumption. Here’s how it works: someone (say, a politician) will make an outrageous or insulting accusation; hyperbole to emphasize a point. Someone on the opposite side of the political fence takes public umbrage – “Gasp! How can you say that? Oh, my tender sensibilities!” – without disputing the main point of the accusation.

Such an occasion occurred yesterday at World Trade Organization (WTO) headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland. According to reports, in advance of a WTO meeting this week, Brazil’s trade minister Celso Amorim accused “rich countries” of engaging in Goebbel-esque propaganda in attempting to ram through the Doha trade accords:

Brazil sought to play down a spat with the United States on Sunday that threatened to sour a week of key World Trade Organisation talks after its foreign minister likened arguments of rich countries to Nazi propaganda. Brazilian Foreign Minister Celso Amorim told reporters on Saturday that “misinformation” about the WTO talks recalled the comment of Nazi propaganda chief Josef Goebbels that a lie repeated often enough will be accepted as truth.

A spokesman for U.S. trade chief Susan Schwab said Washington regretted the comment. “We are here to negotiate on substance and that kind of venomous name-calling does not have a place in these talks,” spokesman Sean Spicer said on Sunday…

By way of background, the Bush administration has been trying to hammer out an overarching WTO deal ( _blank”>the Doha accord) since they’ve been in office, and have met with tremendous resistance from developing countries. In response to this resistance over the past seven years, U.S. negotiators have done what the Bush administration has fashioned into an art form: catapulting the propaganda, telling outright lies and half-truths, and acting as an 800 pound gorilla on the world trade stage.

Admittedly, most Americans (and the legacy media) don’t pay a moment’s worth of attention to this stuff, but when the trade minister of another country starts making nazi references to characterize the Bush administration’s approach to trade talks, it becomes news. And apparently, the tender sensibilities of U.S. negotiator Susan Schwab were offended. The U.S. State Department immediately began dialing up the faux outrage, and issuing statements that refer to Schwab’s heritage as the child of Holocaust survivors.

What’s interesting is that none of the statements deny the crux of Amorim’s characterization of the talks, only that Schwab was personally offended. But then, that’s how the Bush administration’s communication apparatus has always rolled. Deflect, rather than deny. Ratchet up the rhetoric, rather than respond to the core issues (and certainly there are many core issues in dispute, at least in terms of agricultural trade).

In the end, though, Celso Amorim probably accomplished what he intended to do with such inflammatory remarks. He made the point that the U.S. is controlling the WTO “message” in a manner that does little more than amplify the interests

Friday, August 5th, 2011 by Richard Blair |

Innocence Lost: The Path From Purity To Pragmatism

The attainment of morality is an elusive construct. Attempting to define the morality of a society is even more complex. Often, the combatants seeking to instill morality believe, with certainty, that the end justifies the means. In truth, cohesion often requires the concession of purity.


Commentary By: Daniel DiRito

AshesOfInnocence.jpg

Many Americans like to look at Europe as an example of the moral decay we can expect if we continue to alter our values and ignore our long standing Christian principles. Implicit in this belief, amongst many on the religious right, is the presumption that one’s morality is directly correlated with one’s sexuality…and that goes beyond any consideration of one’s orientation. It also includes a belief that sexual activity is only acceptable under the umbrella of a marriage. That means that sex before marriage is unacceptable and it also infers that both parties are expected to be virgins.

Along with these sexual mores and our disdain for Europe is a growing belief that Islam is an unacceptable religion…or at the very least a religion that will not lead to salvation and therefore it cannot lead to one’s admittance into heaven. Fortunately, life often provides the contrasts and comparisons necessary to illuminate the absurdity and/or hypocrisy of our beliefs…and our predisposition to judge others while ignoring the need for self-examination.

An article in The New York Times provides the backdrop for some measure of reflection…and an illumination of the slippery slope that moral certainty often becomes. The prevalence of Islamic immigrants in Europe has served to pit a strict religious ideology against a far more secular society…and that has led to some rather convoluted interpretations of propriety.

It seems that a number of the Islamic women (note that we don’t focus on the Islamic men) who have partaken in the sexual freedoms afforded by European culture now find themselves in the unenviable position of being unacceptable marriage partners. Islamic teaching require that a bride be a virgin, and should that not be the case, she can be rejected and the marriage can be nullified

Friday, August 5th, 2011 by Daniel DiRito |

Newt Slams Obama on Faith, Ignores Real Americans Dying

Newt slammed Barack Obama for appointing a gay former Methodist Minister to his Office of Faith-Based Partnerships. He pandersd to the extremist gay-hating wing of the GOP. We’re not surprised. This ignores Americans in pain, not just gay Americans, but even the mother of an 11 year old boy, a suicide taunted with hate of the gay.


Commentary By: Steven Reynolds

As usual, it is all about the GAY! Newt Gingrich knows if his comeback is to be successful, he needs to pay homage to the radical Christian extremists who whine about gay marriage and gay anything. So he’s slamming Barack Obama’s appointments to the White House Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships. Newt is slamming the appointments, but he’s really slamming the gay, and he’s got a lot of support ont he extremist anti-gay wing of the Republican Party. Here’s what Newt had to whine about, from CNN:

Newt Gingrich said Tuesday the Obama administration is “intensely secular” and “anti-religious,” the former House Speaker’s second hard-hitting criticism of the new administration this week.

In an interview with FOX News, Gingrich said he strongly disagreed with Obama’s choice of Harry Knox – an outspoken activist for gay rights – to the White House advisory council on faith-based initiatives.

“I think their goal is to have a very secular America in which government dominates everything,” he said. “Why wouldn’t you put an anti-religious, left-wing zealot on a faith-based group? It’s a perfect pattern for this administration.”

Since 2005, Knox has served as the director of the Human Rights Campaign, a national organization that advocates on behalf of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals. He is also a former Methodist pastor.

Newt evidently missed the list of people Obama appointed. (Here’s the list, Newt, since you obviously haven’t read it.) It’s got a ton of people who are quite religious. sure, Newt might not like that there’s a Hindu on the list, and he might not agree with the politics of Jim Wallis, but that doesn’t mean those folks are irreligious, as Newt claims. Knox isn’t irreligious either. But he is gay, and Newt attacking his appointment with falsehoods is par for the course. Newt himself is converting to Catholicism as a serially divorced man, so the hypocrisy of him defending religion falsely is rich, rich, rich.

More scandalous is the ugly politics of attacking gay people in this country. Why scandalous? Such attacks and ugliness lead to an environment where real people, real Americans, are hurt. Sirdeaner L. Walker is one of those Americans. She came home Monday in Springfield, MA on Monday to find her 11 year old son, Carl Joseph Walker-Hoover, hanging by an extension cord. The boy had been taunted at school. He’d been called gay by the other kids. Repeatedly.

America’s tragedy, and the Republican Party’s shame is that they treat gay and lesbian citizens as if they were trash. In doing so these “leaders” give license t

Friday, August 5th, 2011 by Steven Reynolds |

President Bush Says No To Insuring More Children

There is an inherent risk for those who ‘œhave’ to infer that those who ‘œhave not’’¦deserve not’¦that what they lack results from their lack of effort and that if they are coddled by the government, they will never demonstrate the necessary initiative to alter their situation absent the assistance of the government.

Commentary By: Daniel DiRito

Sometimes comparison proves to be the best means to understand the intentions of those who have been elected to public office’¦especially since the spoken word is often the tool by which politicians manipulate voters. When it comes to understanding President Bush, comparison is necessary’¦and the results offer a string of contradictions that defy the rhetoric of compassionate conservatism.

In a New York Times article, Paul Krugman provides readers a look into the position of the President with regard to the expansion of programs to cover uninsured children’¦programs that the President supported in the past’¦but programs that the President is opposed to expanding despite their success.

When a child is enrolled in the State Children’™s Health Insurance Program (Schip), the positive results can be dramatic. For example, after asthmatic children are enrolled in Schip, the frequency of their attacks declines on average by 60 percent, and their likelihood of being hospitalized for the condition declines more than 70 percent.

Regular care, in other words, makes a big difference. That’™s why Congressional Democrats, with support from many Republicans, are trying to expand Schip, which already provides essential medical care to millions of children, to cover millions of additional children who would otherwise lack health insurance.

But President Bush says that access to care is no problem ‘” ‘œAfter all, you just go to an emergency room’ ‘” and, with the support of the Republican Congressional leadership, he’™s declared that he’™ll veto any Schip expansion on ‘œphilosophical’ grounds.

The House plan, which would cover more children, is more expensive, but it offsets Schip costs by reducing subsidies to Medicare Advantage ‘” a privatization scheme that pays insurance companies to provide coverage, and costs taxpayers 12 percent more per beneficiary than traditional Medicare.

Strange to say, however, the administration, although determined to prevent any expansion of children’™s health care, is also dead set against any cut in Medicare Advantage payments.

Well, here’™s what Mr. Bush said after explaining that emergency rooms provide all the health care you need: ‘œThey’™re going to increase the number of folks eligible through Schip; some want to lower the age for Medicare. And then all of a sudden, you begin to see a ‘” I wouldn’™t call it a plot, just a strategy ‘” to get more people to be a part of a federalization of health care.’

Looking at this particular situation offers ample opportunities for relevant and informative comparisons. First, let me suggest that the President’™s position is neither conservative nor compassionate. There has been little disagreement that George Bush’™s Medicare prescription drug program was the largest expansion of entitlements in recent memory and most analysts believe it will cost far more than the original estimates.

On its surface, one might argue that adding a prescription drug benefit was an act of compassion’¦and to a degree that conclusion has some merit. However, this is where comparison becomes an enlightening tool.

It is well known that the President is in favor of privatizing entitlement programs and one could argue that the prescription drug benefit was a logical step in that direction and likely the only means by which he could initiate such a plan’¦given that is has the appearance of compassion. One can look at the high costs of the program as the essential seed money for turning the corner towards privatization.

As we know, the program has been viewed to have achieved mixed results but there is no doubt that it provided insurance companies with a subsidized entr–©e into the living rooms of millions of Americans. Let me attempt to explain. The prescription drug benefit allows those on Medicare to purchase the benefit from an array of private providers’¦a move that begins to put in place a ready made structure for further privatization.

Such a plan achieves two important goals for a President in favor of privatization. One, it begins to give insurance companies an expanding role in providing care for the millions of seniors on Medicare’¦a move that is good for large corporations in the business of health care’¦including drug manufacturers. Two, it is an important incremental step in taking the government out of the health care business and entitlement programs.

Coming back to the Schip program, one can begin to use comparisons to uncover actual motivations. The number of uninsured Americans is well documented as a politically charged issue. In approving a plan to cover a number of uninsured children, the President achieved points for compassion just as he did with the prescription drug benefit. These programs also helped to hold off calls for universal government health care’¦a direction which this President opposes.

When one looks at the Bush administration position on the relative costs for the Schip plan and Medicare Advantage, we see that compassion and conservatism are secondary to the ideology of privatization. Granted, one could argue that the ultimate goals of the measures endorsed by the President have conservatism at their core’¦meaning less government and more market determined programs and costs.

In that regard, perhaps these spending measures’¦which are seemingly incongruent with conservatism’¦and which have raised the ire of traditional conservatives’¦have been shrewd considerations and calculations on the part of the President intended to push the country towards more privatization.

Now, why should Mr. Bush fear that insuring uninsured children would lead to a further ‘œfederalization’ of health care, even though nothing like that is actually in either the Senate plan or the House plan? It’™s not because he thinks the plans wouldn’™t work. It’™s because he’™s afraid that they would. That is, he fears that voters, having seen how the government can help children, would ask why it can’™t do the same for adults.

And there you have the core of Mr. Bush’™s philosophy. He wants the public to believe that government is always the problem, never the solution. But it’™s hard to convince people that government is always bad when they see it doing good things. So his philosophy says that the government must be prevented from solving problems, even if it can. In fact, the more good a proposed government program would do, the more fiercely it must be opposed.

This sounds like a caricature, but it isn’™t. The truth is that this good-is-bad philosophy has always been at the core of Republican opposition to health care reform. Thus back in 1994, William Kristol warned against passage of the Clinton health care plan ‘œin any form,’ because ‘œits success would signal the rebirth of centralized welfare-state policy at the very moment that such policy is being perceived as a failure in other areas.’

But it has taken the fight over children’™s health insurance to bring the perversity of this philosophy fully into view.

Krugman’™s analysis is valid but perhaps it stops short of identifying the ultimate misconceptions that underlie such a philosophy. George Bush is no doubt a product of privilege and in that reality his ability to comprehend the struggles of those at the opposite end of the spectrum is undoubtedly insufficient.

There is an inherent risk for those who ‘œhave’ to infer that those who ‘œhave not’’¦deserve not’¦that what they lack results from their lack of effort and that if they are coddled by the government, they will never demonstr

Friday, August 5th, 2011 by Richard Blair |

Deciphering What Is Written On The Bathroom Stall

Clearly, there has been an inordinate historical focus upon the pursuit and punishment of those engaged in same sex encounters’¦likely a derivative of established social norms and values. Over time, it also appears that there has been a growing awareness that programs to limit public sexual activity need to evolve and to begin incorporating methods that seek to extinguish the behavior as opposed to criminalizing it.

Commentary By: Daniel DiRito

As the blogosphere has sought to digest the meaning of the Larry Craig incident, it has begun to spur a worthwhile debate‘¦one which has been ignored and has lurked in the background in ways eerily similar to the behavior that led to the arrest of the Senator.

Generally speaking, the public is opposed to encountering unexpected or offensive behaviors in public environments’¦and that is a reasonable concern for those within government to address. Clearly, the opinions regarding which behaviors constitute a nuisance or create the conditions under which to charge an individual with a crime will vary from individual to individual’¦often dependent upon one’™s values, one’™s religious beliefs, ands one’™s propensity for tolerance. The fact that there are discordant beliefs simply complicates the task for those charged with monitoring such activities.

By and large, citizens believe that law enforcement departments are committed to treating each individual fairly and with the same level of respect for their civil liberties. At the same time, history tells us that this isn’™t always the case. Regardless, most citizens afford our law enforcement departments the benefit of the doubt’¦which is as it should be’¦but only to a point.

In writing about the Larry Craig situation, I broached the question of whether the targeting of men who have sex with men (I avoid using the term gay because studies indicate that many of the men who participate in these clandestine encounters are married and consider themselves to be heterosexual) receives a level of attention that is commensurate with that given to those who engage in opposite sex liaisons in public locations.

I have asked readers and colleagues to ponder the question and to cite any examples whereby tactics similar to those employed in the Senator’™s case are being utilized to charge those engaged in opposite sex public encounters. At the moment, I have not been provided with any such examples’¦though a few individuals have cited prostitution stings as examples. I have discounted such examples because they constitute a specific crime that is not at play in circumstances like that of Senator Craig’¦meaning that the individuals charged in men’™s restrooms are engaging in consensual sex without the exchange of money (by definition the exchange of money is an act of solicitation), which generally leads to charges of lewd behavior, indecent exposure, or disorderly conduct.

I don’™t want to devolve into a legalistic discussion though some basic understandings are required for this debate. Firstly, laws can and do vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction so one size doesn’™t fit all. Secondly, courts have offered a number of rulings on the subject though no definitive across the board position can actually be derived.

Relevant to this topic, the Senator’™s actions constituted disorderly conduct’¦despite what he may have intended to do. In essence, intention doesn’™t necessarily equate with the ability to convict on the lewd behavior charge. The fact that he plead to the lesser charge (disorderly conduct) is evidence of this reality. Further, in some of these cases, the accused have successfully argued that their actions in a closed door stall in a restroom facility cannot equate with disorderly conduct because their actions didn’™t actually take place in public. The argument is open to interpretation and it can progress into questions of a fundamental granting of constitutional privacy privileges.

With that said, one can see that the issue is more complex than one might expect. Notwithstanding, it is important to note that the issue isn’™t solely one of legality as it is reasonable to consider other factors’¦such as what the public can legitimately expect upon entering a public restroom. While I am personally opposed to using these restrooms for sexual liaisons, the issue requires a much more comprehensive analysis.

To introduce the other considerations, let me begin with a simple example that will hopefully illuminate my concerns. Suppose one conducted a survey whereby the objective was to gauge the public’™s reaction and response to witnessing an apparent sexual encounter in a public restroom. In the study, the respondents witness 50% of the situations involving same sex participants and the other 50% involving opposite sex participants. In both cases, the sex of the participants is obvious, as is the sexual nature of the activity.

The respondents are then confronted as they exit the restroom in order to gauge their reaction as well as what they believe to be the appropriate response from law enforcement. Each respondent is asked to explain what they believe they witnessed to insure that they properly identified the sex of the participants. Once that is determined, they are asked to respond to a multiple choice question outlining the action they believe should be taken.

The first answer is, ‘œWhile I don’™t think they should be doing this in a public restroom, I’™m not in favor of it being a crime.’ The second answer is, ‘œI think that they should be charged with a crime in the event that a law enforcement officer were to be summoned’. The final answer is, ‘œI think that law enforcement needs to establish a sting operation to target those who might intend to engage in such activity in order to catch and charge them’.

My own belief is that the responses would be skewed towards answer number one with regards to opposite sex participants and towards answer number three with regards to same sex participants. I say as much because it would likely reflect the beliefs held by most Americans’¦meaning that heterosexual sex is viewed to be more acceptable than homosexual sex. In fact, I would contend that many of the respondents would laugh off the heterosexual activity while many of those witnessing homosexual activity would be outraged.

Therefore, one must ask whether the existing law enforcement actions being conducted in situations similar to that in Minneapolis’¦which led to the arrest of the Senator’¦reflect a societal bias with regards to homosexuals. In the absence of similar operations aimed at heterosexual activity, it seems safe to conclude that the treatment is not equal’¦and is likely reflective of prejudice.

Let me offer an even simpler example to reinforce my argument. All things being equal, a kiss between same sex couples in public will elicit a negative reaction (a moral judgment)’¦while a heterosexual kiss may elicit no reaction or at worst a negative reaction that such behavior doesn’™t belong in public’¦but rarely a negative moral judgment.

If that same bias is being applied to the actions of law enforcement (and it seems difficult to assume otherwise), we have a problem with selective and unfair discrimination.

Let me share part of a discussion I’™ve been involved with on this very topic. The information is from an individual who works with this issue and the men who are being charged with these types of offenses. I am not including his name or the organization as a matter of privacy. While I don’™t agree with every point made, I think it provides some important insight into a perspective that is often omitted from discussions of this issue.

Ok. The agency I work for has worked on hundreds of these cases. We have won lawsuits on the matter so I am going to respond to this last post with a few items.

1. Undercover operations have 0 deterrent effect. There is no evidence that sting operations against gay men have a deterrent effect. In fact the opposite is true. When members of the public see uniformed police ‘“ THAT is a deterrent. It makes many people feel more safe and if you combine it with signs saying that illegal behavior will be prosecuted or that surveillance is occurring (it doesn’™t have to be occurring) then you could argue there is a deterrent goal by the facility. But hiding a police officer does not prevent crime all it does is A. catch criminals or B. invites entrapment by overzealous cops who are frustrated with cautious perpetrators that refuse to take the bait. This is the reality.

2. Charging people is the goal. Police are very politically motivated. Their jobs and their bosses jobs are very much designed around getting rid of undesirables including queers. These operations usually carry a higher charge like in the Craig case where he claimed he had to negotiate it down to a misdemeanor. Charging felonies is about getting queers on the sex offender registry, shaming them in public, or costing them so much money they won’™t dare fight the charge in court. We had a case of 770 arrests in 4 months. Almost all were innocent. 50 of the guys got in touch with (agency name omitted) and all were acquitted because the officer refused to show up for court, meaning that he would commit perjury about what he put in the police reports. There is a fine for the charge, a fine for the court fees, attorney fees and sometimes there is a ‘œnuisance abatement’ charge so they can take your car which costs hundred to get it back. This is thousands more if you go to court. I repeat. These charges do not deter men or else every cruisy area where there were arrests would see reductions. This is not the case.

3. Police mostly are not responding to public complaints. Police know about cruisy restrooms because of websites and a few public complaints. We have filed Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) after FOIA after FOIA and never once have we received a public complaint of public sex. If this is such a big problem, which justifies an undercover operation, there should be some documentation. Nada. In (state omitted), the State Police even called their operations ‘œBag a Fag’ operations and printed T-Shirts saying so. This is the sign of bias not serving and protecting. If there are really people observing public sex (which is rare because most of this activity is committed by guys that do not want to be seen or caught) then a uniformed cop walking in should be able to see the same thing right. Right. But they don’™t want to deter it or stumble across it, they want to invite it. They want it to happen. 9 times out of ten these men never get a warning and sent away. They invest so much money and time that they love charging on the first offense, charging high and publicizing the hell out of it.

4. I have trained over 1000 police, some as a condition of our lawsuit and nearly all of them believe that gay sex is so sick they would do anything to root it out. I have had cops say out loud in a training that they would watch two women go at it, send a str8 couple home and bust a gay couple. I have also had cops admit in these trainings that these operations are scams designed to make money and shame people. Some chiefs and some prosecutors won’™t honor them at all. In (state omitted) we have shut down many of these when high level chiefs have admitted that uniformed cops are an effective way of dealing with the ‘œproblem.’

I think this is invaluable information’¦information that gives the reader a first hand view of the realities confronted by those who have engaged in such activity and the obstacles they face’¦but it also provides insight into which methods may be effective in limiting or deterring these activities as well as exposing the possibility that the motivations of those who establish programs like the one found in Minneapolis may be biased and misguided.

It’™s difficult to argue in favor of a program that isn’™t effective’¦unless, of course, one is particularly prejudiced against those who are participating in the behavior. If the goal is to extinguish this activity, it appears that these sting operations are less than effective.

Rather than rely upon one source, I consulted a document prepared by the U.S. Department of Justice titled, ‘œIllicit Sexual Activity in Public Places’. The following excerpts are from this lengthy document and they reiterate and reinforce some of the concerns shared in the prior quotation.

There are widely different perspectives on public sexual activity. Some do not believe the behavior constitutes a public safety threat; some view the behavior as a ‘œvictimless crime’ involving two consenting partners; and some see the behavior as a threat to the community’™s ‘œmoral decency.’ ‘œImpersonal,’ ‘œcasual,’ and ‘œanonymous’ sexual behaviors have negative connotations to many people, as they stand in contrast to ideals of romantic love, monogamous relationships, and long-term commitments. Moral overtones pervade discussions of nudity and sexuality, particularly when they address same sex interactions. These judgments often underlie the public’™s concern. Community morals and beliefs about how the law should regulate morality will affect how each community addresses the problem. This guide does not adopt any particular moral perspective; it is intended to inform you about the effectiveness and consequences of various approaches to controlling public sexual activity.

Primarily, such activity constitutes nuisance behavior and does not pose a serious threat to community safety.

The responses to public sexual activity can be fraught with difficulty. Charges of harassment, entrapment, bias and discrimination against homosexuals have historically surrounded efforts to address public sexual activity between men. Therefore, it is vital that you objectively analyze the problem so that you develop fair and effective responses.

Certain patterns (e.g., opposite-sex coupling at a ‘œlovers’™ lane’) have not been studied empirically, while others (e.g., same-sex contact in public restrooms) have been studied much more extensively. It is important to note that engaging in same-sex activity does not necessarily imply a homosexual identity; in fact, many men who have sex with men in public places are married or otherwise heterosexually involved, and do not consider themselves to be gay.

When apprehended, many offenders may suffer substantial social repercussions, in addition to any criminal justice related consequences that may ensue. Threats to their marriages, friendships, jobs, reputations, and social standing often cause them to try to distract attention from their behaviors by showing exaggerated degrees of respectability, such as strong ties to the religious community or passionate condemnation of homosexuality. The larger the community’™s moral objections to public sexual activity mean that participants have much to lose if they are discovered.

Two things are immediately apparent. One, The Justice Department realizes that efforts to limit this type of activity have moral considerations’¦and that can lead to prejudicial judgments. Two, the fact that same-sex activity is the only activity that has been extensively studied supports my contention that little effort is expended to suppress similar heterosexual activity. It also suggests that a bias has existed for many years with regard to homosexual activity and it has often been targeted.

A lack of privacy may also be the reason for male sexual activity in public restrooms. In particular, men with heterosexual identities may want to conceal their behavior from significant others. Their heterosexual identities also deter them from using other, less-public venues such as gay bars or sex clubs. Some homosexual men also lack the freedom to pursue same-sex partners privately due to family or peer disapproval. A community’™s condemnation of homosexuality may drive the behavior to remote, although public, locations, particularly among those exploring their sexuality and not yet connected to the gay community.

Most researchers and practitioners agree that focusing solely on arresting those engaging in public sexual activity is unlikely to reduce the overall scope of the problem. In your response strategy, you should acknowledge that it will be difficult to affect people’™s motivations for engaging in the activity. A balanced approach combining enforcement strategies and those targeting environments that support the behavior is most likely to decrease the prevalence of the activity and the public’™s concern about it.

Used alone, enforcement efforts are likely to lead to displacement. Although not the most desirable outcome, there is evidence that when displacement does occur, the magnitude of the problem decreases with the move to a new location.

In addition, an exclusive focus on environments in which same-sex interactions occur can result in charges of bias and discrimination. Therefore, you must address the full range of public sexual activity and target particular locations based on objective, justifiable assessments of threats to public safety.

Again, the report confirms many of the same conclusions offered by the party quoted above and with whom I discussed the issue. I view the warnings in the last paragraph to be a tacit acknowledgment that there has been a focus upon same sex encounters. Note the use of the word objective’¦a

Friday, August 5th, 2011 by Richard Blair |

Opening The Files: 10/13/07

Things are heating up for both sides in the Get Gore campaign.


Commentary By: The Xsociate

An Assault on Nobel Reason

Depending on ones political slant, yesterday you were either suffering from Goremania or Gore-aphobia with the news that Al Gore had won the Nobel Peace Prize. Righties immediately sought to downplay the significance of the award. They were joined by the always obliging Fox News who, though a little slow on the uptake, were soon smearing in style.

With this cap to a year of awards, naturally the topic soon turned to the heated speculation (pun intended) of whether Al would seek out the most coveted prize of all: the Presidency. It’s not all that surprising that in the wake of this award, the thirst for a Gore candidacy would only become more parched. After all, it is but another example of how were it not for the decision of nine Supreme Court justices seven years ago to award Bush the presidency, we may not find ourselves in such dire straits regarding a multitude of problems facing humanity.

In light of that, it’s not surprising there are those pondering what might have been.

Noam Scheiber wonders what effect all the gaga over Gore is having on Bush. Al probably shouldn’t wait up for that congratulatory call.

Gotta love Fox News’ suggestion about who should have been awarded a “peace” prize. Then again, “peace” has been a pretty relative term with them for a while. Hunter, meanwhile, has some other suggestions.

Bob Franken ponders what a head to head with fellow Tennessean Fred Thompson would look like should Al run. For Fred’s stake, lets hope it doesn’t come down to giving short, concise answers.

And some wonder what Gore’s advocacy of confronting climate change has to go with a world peace. My bloghost at ASZ Richard Blair connects the dots for us.

(X-posted at The Xsociate Files)

Tuesday, August 2nd, 2011 by The Xsociate |

Rudy Fiddled And Diddled On Gotham City’s Dime?

It looks like Rudy Giuliani, the ever morphing mayor, has got some splainin’™ to do.

Commentary By: Daniel DiRito

New York’™s semi-smarmy super hero, the drag queen wannabe who no doubt wishes he could campaign wearing Annie Oakley-esque outfits complete with a pair of precious plaid holsters sporting a set of sassy squirt guns, apparently left some rather large loose ends in his winsome wake’¦and I’™m not talking about the backsides of his bevy of former Frauleins. It appears that Rudy made a number of trips to the Hamptons to shack up with Judy ‘œMake Room For My Vuitton’ Nathan on Gotham City’™s dime.

As New York mayor, Rudy Giuliani billed obscure city agencies for tens of thousands of dollars in security expenses amassed during the time when he was beginning an extramarital relationship with future wife Judith Nathan in the Hamptons, according to previously undisclosed government records.

The documents, obtained by Politico under New York’™s Freedom of Information Law, show that the mayoral costs had nothing to do with the functions of the little-known city offices that defrayed his tabs, including agencies responsible for regulating loft apartments, aiding the disabled and providing lawyers for indigent defendants.

At the time, the mayor’™s office refused to explain the accounting to city auditors, citing ‘œsecurity.’

The Hamptons visits resulted in hotel, gas and other costs for Giuliani’™s New York Police Department security detail.

Now one can speculate what America’™s mayor meant by ‘œsecurity’ when deflecting questions about these rather suspect expenditures’¦perhaps his psyche was subconsciously pondering the problems he might encounter if the woman holed up in Gracie Mansion had the goods on her cousin kissin’™ diddly dallying husband?

I could include additional excerpts but I’™m having way more fun sharing my silly and snide snark. When I read about Rudy’™s amorphous accounting, I couldn’™t help but harken to the head-scratching that followed his loquacious telephone interludes with wifey number three while standing at the podium to deliver a speech. Perhaps the current Mrs. Giuliani wants to keep account of her hubby’¦after all, she knows all too well about her hubby’™s clandestine capabilities.

Truth be told, I doubt Rudy could afford the crown wife number four might require should he elect to discard his current tiara topped trysterina. Besides, can the leader of the free world be found out to be kitty kaptured? I think not. Anyway, I suspect he will have to keep his untrustworthy tallywhacker in toe for the time being.

In the meantime, it looks like Rudy Rudolpho, the ever morphing mayor, has got some splainin’™ to do’¦and I’™m not sure he’™s all that capable of selling his version of ‘œvitameatavegamin’.

Sunday, July 31st, 2011 by Richard Blair |

Republicans Eating Their Own, Michigan Edition

Polls show them that social issues don’t work and that the GOP is on the wrong side of nearly every issue with voters, but when the Michigan GOP hires a consultant who tells them that, they stick their fingers in their ears and sing “God Bless the USA,” firing the consultant before the second verse. I’m thinking they don’t care about winning anymore.


Commentary By: Steven Reynolds

In Michigan the Republican Party is just not too swift. Earlier this week they snubbed Governor Jon Huntsman, who was scheduled to speak in Grand Rapids, because he wasn’t conservative enough. Well, I suppose Sarah Palin is always available, if she’s finished solving the political problems of all the stillborn citizens in Alaska. Oh, the GOP in Michigan is so screwed that they hired a consultant to report on how to solve the political problem they have, of losing not just the Governor’s office or the registration advantage to Dems, but the State House and virtually every other meaningful political measure. So they hired Dennis Darnoi, long a Michigan strategist, to give them pointers. Then they fired him because he didn’t tell them what they wanted to hear. From Susan J. Dimas at Huffpo:

The message of tax cuts and social issues isn’t resonating anymore with voters, who have fled the party in droves, especially in big swing counties like Oakland and Kent. Demographics aren’t in Republicans’ favor in Michigan or nationally, with the fast-growing groups of Asians, Hispanics and young people all voting Democratic by scary margins.

So what’s the solution? Darnoi didn’t suggest anything radical like bowing at Obama’s feet and hoisting the Communist flag. No, he said Republicans should run on accountability and transparency while big government is OK with voters, as a recent Gallup/USA Today poll shows. He notes that moderate GOP candidates have enjoyed some success even in areas where the president won handily, like Kalamazoo.

He also believes that the GOP needs an image makeover, stat, as it’s perceived as wanting gays to stay in the closet and being on the wrong side of environmental regulations and alternative energy.

No kidding. The overarching view of Democrats used to be that they were limp-wristed, liberal weenies. But the ’80s and ’90s are over. What Republicans fail to realize is that their party is now tagged as being one of mean, bigoted blowhards. Of course, many are too busy self-medicating with the primal screams of Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck to notice that the ground has shifted beneath them.

The story here is that the Republicans in Michigan think they ought to recruit candidates who are even more extremist than before. A common sense guy like Darnoi had no chance with these folks. He’s not extremist enough.

It’s not the social issues, stupid. Of course, we could shout that loudly to the Republicans in Michiagan and the still wouldn’t dent their psyches. These people are evidently stupid. I guess they think if they can slam gays hard enough even more extremists Christians will vote. Two problems with that. Fewer people are identifying themselves as either fundamentalist or evangelical Christians, for one. Perhaps more significantly, Obama is winning the whole lot of the demographic groups when it comes to religion, Jewish, Christian, Muslim, Agnostic, Athiest, etc. They get a consultant who tells them to ease off the social issues and they kick him out, exactly the wrong strategic move. Hey, the heartland of Iowa also needs to give up on the social issues, according to a poll commisioned by the GOP, and I’m betting they ignore the results and try to gain seats by slamming the gays again.

I think we’ll see more of this myopia on the part of Republicans for some time. It is an extension of what Richard wrote about the other day, that nationally the Republicans are seeing themselves in worse shape than in years. The GOP brand is completely broken now, far worse than when Goldwater screwed up so badly. There’s hardly a Republican out there who doesn’t owe his job to a dwindling and extremist power base, with the rest of the country considering them hateful, incompetent and simply wrong on everything. I’m thinking this is a fine situation for Democrats to be in.

Saturday, May 2nd, 2009 by Steven Reynolds |

According to Poll, Time for Evangelicals to Ask WWJD Re Torture

Pew has stunning news out from a recent poll, that the correlation between allowing torture and church attendance is pretty strong. And what kind of frequent churchgoer prefers torture most? Evangelicals. Hold it a moment, isn’t George Bush an Evangelical? Have they even heard of Jesus the torture victim in his church?


Commentary By: Steven Reynolds

This is a stunning survey by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press and analyzed by the Pew Research Center’s Forum on Religion & Public Life. Here’s the graphs, and here’s the survey. The upshot is reported by CNN:

The more often Americans go to church, the more likely they are to support the torture of suspected terrorists, according to a new analysis.

More than half of people who attend services at least once a week – 54 percent – said the use of torture against suspected terrorists is “often” or “sometimes” justified. Only 42 percent of people who “seldom or never” go to services agreed, according the analysis released Wednesday by the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life.

White evangelical Protestants were the religious group most likely to say torture is often or sometimes justified – more than 6 in 10 supported it. People unaffiliated with any religious organization were least likely to back it. Only 4 in 10 of them did.

I would like to quote my wife on the subject.

Wow. Just wow. The people who would likely claim that they are most in tune with the teachings and doctrines of a man who was, well, tortured to death, are most likely to support torture and think it is “often” or “sometimes” justified. Unbelievable.

Man, this is disturbing. Sure, the survey is likely not merely measuring frequency of religious worship or the magnitude of one’s fundamentalism, but also how partisan one is a Republican. Yup, the correlation between one’s Republican partisanship and loving torture is probably even stronger than the one between religious practice and loving torture. What this tells me is that they’re teaching Republican values in these churches far more than they are teaching Jesus. How horrid such news is. How predictable, too.

Thursday, April 30th, 2009 by Steven Reynolds |

Following Specter, Two More Republicans to Leave the GOP?

It’s just a rumor at the moment, fueled by the abuse the Republican Party is showering on two of its biggest names, Michael Steele and Jon Huntsman. But this rumor will grow. Huntsman evidently isn’t conservative enough, and the RNC doesn’t want to trust Steele with its money. So why wouldn’t they defect to the Democratic Party?


Commentary By: Steven Reynolds

The GOP rank and file has been generally celebrating Arlen Specter’s departure from the party for the Democratic Party. Arlen gave them gravitas, seniority, and a big name. Sure, Specter was reviled by the Republicans for being too liberal, and he was reviled by the Democrats for selling out on principled issues like the US Attorney scandal, the NSA wiretapping scandal, and the Torture Regime of the Bush Administration. So Specter isn’t well-liked except by his moderate constituents in PA. But surely the calls of “Swine Flew” when Specter left the now extremist Republican Party are a bit whacked out. But that’s OK. That attitude will result in a couple other defections, and I’ve got some bold predictions about a couple Republicans who just might get fed up with the GOP and take off.

The first of my predictions is a supposed rising star in the GOP. Even though Utah Governor Jon Huntsman is young and hip and rich, the GOP doesn’t seem to appreciate his electability. Wait, let me make sure I’ve got that right. Huntsman, a Mormon, isn’t conservative enough. At least that’s what they think in Grand Rapids, MI. You see, Jon Huntsman supports civil unions for gay citizens in this country. Not gay marriage, mind you, but civil unions. And the Republicans in Grand Rapids, dominated by the extremists on the religious wing of the party, think Huntsman is a not sufficiently a supporter of traditional marriage. From the Salt Lake Tribune:

Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr.’s appearance at a Michigan county Republican Party event was scrapped this week after the county chairwoman said that hosting the moderate Utah governor would mean abandoning the party’s conservative principles.

Kent County Republican Party Chairwoman Joanne Voorhees abruptly canceled the party fundraiser scheduled for Saturday.

“The voters want and expect us to stand on principle and return to our roots. Unfortunately, by holding an event with Governor Huntsman, we would be doing the exact opposite,” Voorhees wrote in an e-mail quoted in The Grand Rapids Press .

Voorhees did not specify which issues she felt were contrary to the party’s principles and did not return messages left at the party headquarters and on her cell phone.

The group Campaign for Michigan Families praised the cancellation, attributing it to Huntsman’s support of civil unions, and urged the Oakland and Kalamazoo county parties, where Huntsman is also scheduled to speak this weekend, to do the same.

Now I’ve not heard from Huntsman that he might actually leave the Republican Party, but getting disinvited to an event is pretty big stuff. And Huntsman certainly doesn’t seem all that excited by Republican prospects in the next couple years.

Asked last week about the future of the GOP, Huntsman said “I don’t know where the party is moving. The party isn’t going anywhere.”

Well, Huntsman isn’t going much of anywhere, either, and especially not to Grand Rapids, MI. It may behoove Huntsman, who isn’t conservative enough for the extremist Republicans in Michigan, to think about joining a more inclusive political party, such as the Democrats. And he’s not the only big name Republican to be abused by his own party this week.

Michael Steele? The Republicans have been pretending Michael Steele is the GOP Chair for some time now, while taking turns kissing Rush Limbaugh’s ring. (Is ring kissing a sexual act on the order of teabagging?) Even though the RNC elected Michael Steele to the pretend position of RNC Chair, they don’t seem to quite trust him. You see, the Chair has control over spending some of that hundreds of millions of dollars the Republicans raise yearly. The members of the NC have decided they don’t want Michael Steele to have his paws on all that money. Really, they elect a black man as pretend RNC Chair, and now they want to make sure he doesn’t have the power to spend RNC funds. Let’s just say they never took that power away from any of their previous white pretend RNC Chairs. From the Washington Times:

A battle over control of the party’s purse strings has erupted at the troubled Republican National Committee, with defenders of Chairman Michael S. Steele accusing dissident RNC members of trying to “embarrass and neuter” the party’s new leader.

Randy Pullen, the RNC’s elected treasurer, former RNC General Counsel David Norcross and three other former top RNC officers have presented Mr. Steele with a resolution, calling for a new set of checks and balances on the chairman’s power to dole out money.

The powers include new controls on awarding contracts and spending money on outside legal and other services.

I’m simply amazed at the audacity of these folks. Michael Steele as the face of the Republican Party is about the only sign left of any diversity in the GOP. They’ve lost the Latino vote, the African American vote, the gay vote, the oyuht vote and the woman vote. It appears now that the middle aged white men who actually run the GOP are not about to let a black man spend their money. My goodness but there’s tons of room for a few tasteless jokes here, but I’m not going to go there. Nope, not a little bit.

I will say that Michale Steele and Jon Huntsman should look to Arlen Specter as an example. Were they to convert themselves to Democrats, as Specter has done, these guys could . . . be ridiculed openly by the GOP? But, wait, they’re already being ridiculed openly by members of the GOP. OK, ok, I’m not seeing much advantage of these two moving to the Democratic Party, but they sure are being abused by their own, and while the Democratic Party could always use another Governor and more influence in Utah, I’m not sure what we would do with Micheal Steele. Maybe we could put him in charge or redecorating or something?

Wednesday, April 29th, 2009 by Steven Reynolds |
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