Jive in the [415] Blog | Gay LGBT News Political Commentary: January 2013 January 2013 | Jive in the [415] Blog | Gay LGBT News Political Commentary

January 31, 2013

Rep. Gabby Giffords To Congress: You Must Act!

Former Rep. Gabby Giffords testifies before the Senate Judiciary Committee 1/30/2013.

If you didn’t hear any sound bites from the Senate Judiciary hearing about gun control that took place yesterday, you must be living in a foreign country. Though I’m sure that most Europeans, and our neighbors to the south in Central America, as well as South America, heard something about the hearings.

Former Rep. Gabby Giffords testimony was dramatic, heartbreaking, compelling, and riveting, all at the same time. “Be bold, be courageous, Americans are counting on you,” she implored of the Senators present at the hearing, “You must act.” The former Congresswoman is still recovering from the assassination attempt in Tucson, and I think it’s impossible to ignore her passionate plea for sensible gun control legislation.

Gun nut Wayne La Pierre took issue with any testimony that advocated a sensible approach to gun control. This guy must live on another planet, and he’s not doing the National Rifle Association (NRA) any favors, anytime he opens his mouth.

I heard an interesting statistic yesterday. There are apparently an average of 30,000 Americans who die as a result of gun violence in the United States each year. 13,000 Americans are murdered, and 17,000 Americans use a gun to commit suicide. In my opinion, that means there are 30,000 deaths each year that are preventable.

While the Senate Judiciary Committee met in Washington, D.C., the Connecticut state legislature’s Bipartisan Task Force on Gun Violence Prevention and Children's Safety, convened a hearing in Newtown, Connecticut - not far from the site of the tragic Newtown massacre.

In The Connecticut Post, reporter Ken Dixon described the testimony in an article entitled “Violence in America rebuked at Newtown High hearing.”

The people of this wounded, shattered town spoke Wednesday night.
They want major changes in gun control, improvements in school security and more effective mental health programs to help prevent future shootings.
In the soul-searching after Adam Lanza's rampage at Sandy Hook Elementary School, some said the culture of violence in America -- where the Internet and video games breed isolation and feed psychopathic urges in the 21st century -- must change.
In the auditorium at Newtown High School, for hours of recollections and testimony, they said that assault-style weapons should be banned and that doctors need to help police identify mentally disturbed patients who might become the next Adam Lanza.
Some called for a greater sense of community, where neighbors know each other's names and can reach out to one another in times of trouble and distress.
Others said the right to "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness" trumps the Second Amendment right to bear arms.
David Wheeler, whose son Benjamin was killed that day, said that it's crucial to identify and monitor people in mental distress.
"We lost our Benjamin to an unstable, suicidal individual who had access to a weapon that has no place in a home," Wheeler said, calling it "unacceptable" that Lanza had access to the weapons of his mother, even if they were legally purchased.
"The right to life trumps the right to bear arms," Wheeler said. "Let's honor the founding fathers and get our priorities straight."
I watched and listened to many talking heads on different cable news stations. While many “expert analysts” said that there’s a bipartisan consensus to mandate background checks, they said that an assault weapons ban is likely to fail. Considering that an overwhelming majority of Americans support the assault weapons ban, it’s going to be important for all of us to reach out to our members of Congress, to let them know that we expect them to do everything they can to pass this assault weapons ban.

I concur with David Wheeler completely. The right to life and living does trump anyone’s right to bear arms. I hope that Congress is listening, as they really do need to get their priorities straight.

And we need to give them a large dose of straight talk. Straight talk indeed!

straight talk in a queer world.        jiveinthe415.com              
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January 26, 2013

Sayonara Sarah!

News: Governor Sarah Palin, President Obama, LGBT Members of Congress and Republicans hatch a plan to steal presidential elections

Congress has never been an accurate reflection of the country it serves. It remains far whiter, wealthier and more male than the nation’s population. But as their numbers in Congress gradually increase, there is a sense among these newcomers that they are forcing some of their colleagues to rethink gay rights and homosexuality. The presence of openly gay men and women and their families was a factor that many believe was decisive in turning the tide for states where same-sex marriage was legalized by legislatures. Seeing them helped put a human face on a concept that many legislators had thought about only in the abstract.

straight talk in a queer world.     jiveinthe415.com              
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January 25, 2013

Rhode Island Inches Closer To Marriage Equality

Rhode Island State Capitol

The Rhode Island General Assembly approved Rep. Arthur Handy’s marriage equality bill 51 - 19. The bill will now be considered by the state Senate. According to Dan McGowan, a WPRI.com Reporter, passage in the state Senate is not guaranteed.
“It was important that this House of Representatives stood and finally said we stand for equality, we stand for justice, we stand for tolerance in the shadow of our great founder Roger Williams,” said House Speaker Gordon Fox.
The bill now heads to the Senate, where a contentious battle is expected to unfold. Senate President M. Teresa Paiva Weed, D-Newport, said Thursday it could be months before the Senate takes up the bill.
Paiva Weed, D-Newport, has indicated she will not block a vote out of the Senate Judiciary Committee although she opposes same-sex marriage. Judiciary Committee Chairman Michael McCaffrey, D-Warwick, is also against the legislation, but advocates say they are confident the committee will allow the bill to go before the full Senate.
It blows my mind in 2013, that politicians can stand before a reporter or their constituents, and say that they oppose equality.

The Civil Rights Act is a law that prohibits discrimination based upon race, color, religion, sex and national origin. At some point in the near future, sexual orientation and gender identity will be added to the Civil Rights Act. These marriage equality votes are the moral equivalent to voting for or against the Civil Rights Act, and a legislator who fails to support marriage equality is endorsing homophobia and discrimination.

And that’s completely unacceptable.

straight talk in a queer world.        jiveinthe415.com              
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The Incompetent Congress Gambles With Their Own Money For A Change

The American Flag and Capitol Dome  - the incompetent Congress

I know that I’m hard on the Republican led House of Representatives, and justifiably so. Their rhetoric can be downright scary, and their draconian ideas even more so.

The House is pretty incompetent as a legislative body, and most of that can be attributed to the GOP’s general intransigence.

With a record low approval rating, the Boehner brigade spent last weekend on a retreat away from Washington, DC. I don’t know whether anyone was drinking kool aid, but upon their return they announced that they wouldn’t hold the debt ceiling hostage --- for the time being. They agreed to extend the debt ceiling, and honor US financial commitments, through May. After that who knows.

Lisa Mascaro wrote about the GOP change of heart for the Los Angeles Times.

Stepping up their austerity campaign, House Republicans plan to demand far deeper spending cuts from President Obama to balance the federal budget in just 10 years, an extraordinary goal that would hit Medicare and other safety-net programs.
House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio), confronted with a more conservative Republican majority, agreed to the dramatic initiative to coax reluctant rank-and-file lawmakers Wednesday to approve a temporary suspension of the $16.4-trillion debt limit without any cuts in spending.
The new proposal to balance the budget in a decade would zero out the federal deficit almost twice as fast as previous Republican efforts.
The US debt, and the budget deficit, are two separate entities. If Republicans are interested in forcing an austerity budget down the throats of the American people, the long term effects will be beyond disastrous. Look at the economies of the European Community right now, and their high unemployment rates, and stagnant economic growth, for evidence of what would happen to our economy. And It’s not good.

Jonathan Weisman of The New York Times described why House Republicans agreed to raising the debt ceiling.
“We know with certainty that a debt crisis is coming to America. It’s not a question of if. It’s a question of when,” Representative Paul D. Ryan of Wisconsin, the Republicans’ vice-presidential nominee last year and current Budget Committee chairman, said as he vowed to press ahead with deep spending cuts.
To give House Republicans a rationale for giving in on the debt ceiling after dropping demands for offsetting cuts, the House legislation included a provision that would withhold the pay of lawmakers in a chamber of Congress that fails to pass a budget blueprint by April 15.
That allowed House Republicans to turn a spotlight on Senate Democrats, who have not passed a detailed budget blueprint since 2009. 
“It took one week in which their paychecks were on the line, and now the Senate is going to step up and do the right thing,” Representative Eric Cantor of Virginia, the House majority leader, said after the vote.
So instead of terrorizing the US economy in the near term, they decided to hold their own salaries hostage, unless a compromise is reached. If this drags on for six months, they will still get their $175,000 salary, they will just have to wait to have it deposited in their bank account.

I’d much rather see members of Congress suffer for their transgressions, than you or me.

Let’s hope that they get to work on this, as it may be a lot of fun to watch.

Stay tuned.

straight talk in a queer world.      jiveinthe415.com              
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Hillary Clinton Exits Stage Right A Star

Hillary Clinton testifying before Congress

In The Washington Post, Suzi Parker wrote about Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s combative testimony in Congress, before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and the House Foreign Affairs Committee. The article is entitled “In her Capitol Hill Swan Song, Hillary Clinton shines,” and shine she did.
Remember how Hillary Rodham Clinton’s critics said she faked her December stomach illness, which included a concussion and a subsequent blood clot, because she was scared to face scrutiny from Congress?
As the kids say, whatevs. Hillary conquered Capitol Hill on Wednesday. She looked anything but frightened as she spent six hours testifying and answering questions about Benghazi in front of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and the House Foreign Affairs Committee.
It was Hillary’s final major appearance as secretary of state before she vanishes into private life for the first time since the 1970s. Wearing an emerald green jacket and geek girl glasses, Hillary engrossed her fans, who love her when she talks tough (and lawyerly).
It was, at its core, terrific political theater.
For Hillary, the testimony was a triumphant capstone on her term as the chief U.S. diplomat. If Hillary had not dealt with the Benghazi affair before she left office, she could have been viewed as a failure and a weakling. Instead, she came blazing onto Capitol Hill intrue Hillary style, concluding the Libya drama on her terms and exiting the Washington stage to regroup for her next adventure – a new book, global speeches or a presidential run.

Run Hillary! Run!

straight talk in a queer world.        jiveinthe415.com              
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Kristen Kish Kicks Ass In Top Chef's Last Chance Kitchen

Top Chef's Kristem Kish Josie Malave-Smith and Tom Colicchio in Last Chance Kitchen
Kristen kicked Josie's ass in Top Chef's "Last Chance Kitchen" and survives another week.

January 24, 2013

Colorado Civil Unions Move A Step Closer To Reality

Colorado State Capital Building Denver, Colorado

Denver, Colorado --- The Colorado Senate Judiciary Committee passed a Civil Unions bill (SB 13-011) on a party line vote 3-2 yesterday. The legislation would extend state recognition to LGBT relationships under civil law. The bill now moves to the Senate Appropriations committee for consideration.

Reporter Lynn Bartels writes in the Denver Post that passage of the bill is nearly guaranteed.

The outcome of civil unions this session is not in doubt: Democrats control the Senate, House and the governor's mansion. But that didn't stop a string of witnesses from testifying for more than four hours, urging the bill's passage or its death.
Kellie Fiedorek with the Alliance Defending Freedom said the bill "fails to provide significant safeguards for the religious liberties of all Coloradans."
Carrie Gordon Earll with CitizenLink, an arm of Focus on the Family, said the bill isn't about benefits, but about moving toward redefining marriage.
Senate Bill 11 now heads to the Appropriations Committee, one of a number of steps before the measure makes it way to the governor's desk. It is expected to be signed into law by Gov. John Hickenlooper in March and become law on May 1.

Colorado State Senator Jessie Ulibarri (D-21)
Bartels described the journey that gay State Senator Jessie Ulibarri (D-21) has been on over the last few years.

For two years, Jessie Ulibarri and his partner testified in favor of civil-union bills introduced in the Colorado legislature. For two years, they watched the bills die.

This year, Ulibarri has a different role and civil unions will have a different outcome.

“I’m living proof that democracy works, that if you fight really hard you can change the laws,” he said.

Ulibarri is now a Democratic state senator. He not only serves on the Senate Judiciary Committee but also will act as its chair when this year’s civil unions measure, Senate Bill 11, is heard in committee this afternoon.

Ulibarri and his partner, Louis Trujillo, in 2011 and 2012 told lawmakers about their problems with medical care although they had signed a designated beneficiary agreement and power of attorney. They worried about their two children, Israel and Silvia, in case of a catastrophic event.

Aside from Senator Ulibarri, there are 7 LGBT state legislators in the Colorado state legislature.

Colorado voters banned marriage equality in 2006 when they passed Amendment 43.

straight talk in a queer world.      jiveinthe415.com              
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New Rules - Rula Jebreal Must Appear On Real Time With Bill Maher Every Week

Bill Maher on HBO's Real Time with Bill Maher 1-18-2013

I really enjoy watching Real Time with Bill Maher, and after what seemed like a long hiatus, he finally returned to HBO last Friday night January 18, 2013.

Maher is a progressive who welcomes guests that represent every hue on the political spectrum. From extremist right-wingers to the exceedingly liberal, he’s hosted them all, and I admire him for that. There are many guests on Real Time with Bill Maher that I would never want to be in the same room with.

On his first show of the 2013 season he welcomed former Senator Bob Kerrey (D-NE), comedian Martin Short, former Rep. Steve LaTourette (R-OH), and journalists Michelle Caruso-Cabrera and Rula Jebreal.

Until Rula Jebreal came out to plug her book, the show was good, but lacked the usual fireworks. Rula Jebreal was fantastic and her appearance completely changed the tenor of the show, and ratcheted up the energy by 100 degrees.

Rula Jebreal appearing on Real Time with Bill Maher 1-18-2013

I don’t know much about Rula Jebreal, though Wikipedia tells me that she’s been a journalist in Italy for years. She’s a Palestinian who was born in Jerusalem, is very intelligent, and extremely sharp witted. She’s apparently working for Newsweek/The Daily Beast as a foreign affairs journalist, and I would think that after her charismatic appearance on Maher’s show, that US network news organizations would be trying to hire her immediately.

After Maher used the “F” word, she said "you can be as vulgar as you want to be," much to the delight of the audience at home and in the studio. When he tried to start a conversation about Manti Te'o and the Notre Dame football scandal, she wondered why they would discuss something so trivial when there are important things happening in the world.

Jebreal provided an update on Israeli and Palestinian politics, and explained the political and economic challenges facing the middle east. She also touched on the fact that in both Israel and in the United States, "right-wingers use fear" campaigns to gain power and push their extremist agendas.

When she spoke about America and said that we’re “the most entertained and the least informed” people in the world, I applauded the television.  

I think there should be New Rules for Real Time with Bill Maher

Rula Jebreal should be on the show every week.

straight talk in a queer world.      jiveinthe415.com              
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January 23, 2013

TV Talk: Top Chef Seattle Judges Screwed Up Big Time

TV Talk image of Top Chef and Project Runway All Star Logos

Project Runway All Stars Judges Got It Right - Anthony Ryan Auld Wins!

Top Chef Seattle

Bravo’s Top Chef producer’s seem to keep increasing the number of cast members each season, and that’s a mistake. It took quite a few episodes before I warmed up to this cast, but the show is in top form now. Tonight a new episode of Top Chef Seattle will be airing, and after last week’s episode, I’m still feeling a little ambivalent about watching, though I know I’ll end up tuning in anyway.

In last week’s “Restaurant Wars” episode, the judges sent home Kristen Kish, and that was a HUGE mistake and very short-sighted. Kristen has done very well throughout the competition, and was a frontrunner to make it to the finals. Kristen was the team leader of the losing team in “Restaurant Wars.”  
Top Chef Seattle Judges Tom Colicchio Gail Simmons and Padma Lakshmi

The problematic preparation was bouillabaisse. I don’t know if you’ve ever tried bouillabaisse, but it happens to be something I love. The Proven├žal fish stew is delicious, and I could live on the liquid part of the stew. The controversy stemmed from their being a lack of the liquid portion of the stew, which is what makes it so tasty. So I could understand why the dish disappointed the judges.

The bouillabaisse was prepared by chef Josie Smith-Malave. (According to her biography, she currently lives in San Francisco.) Josie is a colorful character who also appeared on a previous season of Top Chef. She admitted she screwed up, and fully expected to be sent packing. Kristen took full responsibility for her team’s failure, and she thought she would be sent to pack up.

For some reason the female judges on the show are harder on the female chefs. Gail Simmons and Padma Lakshmi seemed to be arguing about which chef to eliminate, with both parsing the semantics and language of the chefs, rather than judging on the food preparation. I think both judges are terrific, but they messed up big time this week.
Top Chef Seattle contestant Kristen Kish

No matter what Kristen said, ultimately the bouillabaisse was Josie’s dish. While it was a team challenge, the individuals are still responsible for their individual dish. If that isn’t a rule, it should be. That would also eliminate any confusion during deliberations at judge’s table

Regardless, the judge’s sent home one of the most talented chef’s in the competition, and they made a huge mistake.

Fittingly, Kristen prevailed over CJ at Last Chance Kitchen, preparing bouillabaisse! So hopefully she will defeat the remaining challengers, to return to the main competition soon.

Project Runway All Stars Season One winner Mondo Guerra

Project Runway All-Stars

Mondo Guerra

Lifetime’s Project Runway All Stars is so much fun. I loved the first edition of the show, and the cast was really great. Mondo Guerra, the winner of Project Runway All Stars Season 1, is such an amazing talent, who deserved to win hands down, as he was in a league of his own. I wish we could see more him on TV each week.

Out of every season of Project Runway - he was the one person who I felt was cheated by the judges, when he wasn’t declared the winner. When he was chosen the winner of All Stars, I felt like a wrong was corrected (despite Mondo having to work that much harder to win).

There aren’t many gay HIV positive people on television, and like hunky Jack Mackenroth in Season 4, Mondo bravely revealed his status during Project Runway Season 8. Having Mondo, and other HIV+ people, on television helps to destigmatize the many misconceptions that surround HIV.

Project Runway All-Stars Season 2

I wish that each season going forward on Project Runway, that they would rotate the judges. Georgina Chapman has a sharp eye, and a strong opinion, and has really grown into her role as a judge on the show. I love seeing Isaac Mizrahi on television each week. In fact it would be good TV to have Michael Kors and Isaac as judges each week, as they are hysterically funny.

While I love the inimitable Tim Gunn, Joanna Coles is a terrific substitute. I like hearing her insight, and she asks the designer’s probing questions that Tim never asks.

Carolyn Murphy did a good job as the host, and got more comfortable, and grew into her role as the host, as the season went on.

In the final runway show, the designers had to design a 7 look collection in 4 days. Can you imagine?

The finalists were Emilio Sosa, Uli Herzner, and Anthony Ryan Auld. Uli Herzner’s collection was very artistic, ethereal and too editorial for me. Emilio Sosa’s collection was colorful and effusive, and while I liked the nod to the forties, I didn’t understand all of the looks. Anthony Ryan Auld’s collection was classic, with clean lines and vibrant colors. What he does extremely well, is that each design seems to have a surprise element, and I like that.

The winner of Project Runway All Stars Season 2 was Anthony Ryan Auld. He had a terrific season, was consistently great, and seems like an incredibly sweet guy. Another gay man won --- Congratulations Anthony!

It was too bad that Joshua McKinley didn’t make it to the finals. He just wasn’t as consistent as the other 3 designers during the course of the show. Despite not making it, it doesn’t diminish his talent as a designer. Though the bitchy snub of his friend Anthony Ryan did tarnish his image a little, if you ask me..  

What the designers accomplish during each episode of the show is incredible, and I hope that the fashion world scoops up these all star designers. I’m bummed that this show is over.

straight talk in a queer world.      jiveinthe415.com              

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