Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Palin's Email Talk With Wasilla Paper;

Media Elite, Rape Kits & Gay Books

Sarah Palin, or surrogates who hopefully ran the replies by the candidate, answered some written questions posed by her hometown paper the Frontiersman. Many subjects were addressed, including, the matter of my recent donation of gay children's books to her local public library. "Heather Has Two Mommies" and "Daddy's Roommate" sure know how to put a politician in the hot seat and raise questions about a candidate's views on censorship.

From today's Frontiersman web site:

[Question] Reporters from around the globe have been investigating policies and decisions you made during your time as Wasilla mayor. Regarding the flap over questioning then library director Mary Ellen Emmons, at the time in December 1996 you said inquiries you made to her about censoring materials in the library were “rhetorical.” Please explain. Were there books at the library at that time you wanted removed? Was there ever a list of books you didn’t want at the Wasilla library? Also, a San Francisco man recently donated two books to the Wasilla library that attempt to explain homosexual family life to children. Do you see any reason these books should not be placed on the library’s shelves?

[Palin reply] As people there know, all questions posed to the library director were asked in a context of professionalism, regarding the library policy that was in place. Before I became mayor, there was conversation in our community about what sorts of books were appropriate for the public library. I asked the librarian about the process for answering that question as a way to familiarize myself with city staff and the issues being discussed in Wasilla at that time. I certainly never advocated banning books. This was a ridiculous, false claim. Supposedly one of the books the media claims I banned was “Harry Potter,” which wasn’t even published back then. There were never any books banned and any reports claiming otherwise are grossly false.

I’ve always believed the government closest to the people governs best, so I won’t try to second-guess local officials back home.

Cruise on over to the Frontiersman site and read the entire email interview.
Palin's Lack of News Conferences Not Important

Reason number 369 I am so over the corporate media is the belief by a top honcho at CBS News that it's no big deal the woman who may become vice president of the USA, and scary heartbeat away from the presidency, hasn't held one news conferences since she was selected for the GOP ticket.

What I interpret in the quote below from Paul Friedman is that Katie Couric's chats with Sarah Palin are boosting ratings for his news division and driving lots of eyeballs to the CBS News web site, reasons why he's not complaining that Palin has so far failed to meet the press in a news conference setting.

Friedman may not think the tight bubble encasing Palin, keeping her away from media Q & A sessions that aren't exclusives is part of a "stage" she's going through, like puberty, which she'll soon outgrow, I believe the American voter and our democracy are ill-served by shielding Palin so tightly from reporters.

Someone should tell this out-of-touch news executive that the 90-minute Biden/Palin debate this Thursday is simply not enough probing of both candidates who want to start living in the Naval Observatory come January.

Free Sarah Palin! Let Her Hold a News Conference!

From this morning's SF Chronicle:

"All politicians go through a stage where they want to minimize how much they are exposed to the media," said Paul Friedman, vice president of news at CBS, the network that scored one of the three major Palin interviews. He shrugged at what could be learned in a news conference that couldn't in a one-on-one interview. "I just don't think it is that cosmic of an issue. We'll see more of the candidates soon. Just wait for the debates."

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Obama, Bears & Santa at Folsom Street Fair

The only reason why I went to the fair this year was to take lots of photos of the shenanigans that grace the leather streets of San Francisco, is because I fear Peter LaBarbera and his crew of crusaders may have missed it. I wouldn't want them to not see all the fun of today's fair.

Okay, that wasn't the real purpose of attending. I wanted to see the thousands of people enjoying themselves on this warm Sunday. Not sure why, but a few men asked to rub my belly this year and there were more women than last year, or so it seemed to my queer eye. Enjoy the photos!

And a big thank you to all who allowed me to take their photos. Click on the pics and watch 'em grow.

Obama imagery was everywhere.

Look over Mr. Smiling Bear's shoulder --
The New York Times had a booth!

One of many fillies on parade.

Frida Kahlo painting comes to life.

Pays to advertise.


Kid with the best mohawk cut on any head today.

What are you wearing under that kilt?

All tied up.

That's quite a basket.

Waiting to pee.

Fur on beef.

Thin, black and wearing a white jock strap.

Did the photo come out okay?

He had to be at least 6'7" tall.

Was there too much Obama-promotion? No.

Santa, aren't you early this year?

Sometimes a cigar is not just a cigar.

$25K To Have Tea With Mooselini Palin?

Two days after her debate with Joe Biden, Sarah Palin will be in Colorado to meet with elitists who just happen to have a couple of thou doing no good in the bank and want to help her and John McCain get elected to the White House.

Will she still be on the ticket next Saturday? Can she recover well enough from what many expect will be a disastrous debate performance to actually charge people so much moolah to have tea and coffee with Mooselini? How many careless decisions will McCain make between now and the pricey kaffeeklatsch? Stay tuned and find out.

From the Denver Post last week:

It's been years since a cup of coffee cost a dime, but $25,000?

That's the price tag to sip a cup of Joe with Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, who is slated to arrive in Colorado next week. Republican John McCain's running mate is holding a fundraiser Oct. 4 at Centennial Airport, where "VIP coffee" is $25,000 a person, according to the invitation.

Iranian President: No 'Executions of Homosexuals'

Amy Goodman, a veteran progressive journalist who along with Juan Gonzalez hosts the daily TV/radio show "Democracy Now!," spoke with Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad last week and asked him about the July 19, 2005, hanging of two gay teenagers in the city of Mashad. He denies they were hanged for anything to do with homosexuality.

As one of the organizers who has helped organize annual commemorations about the hangings, I'd like to extend deep thanks to Goodman for raising the hangings and Iran's treatment of gays in her talk with the president.

Here is their exchange, excerpted from the full transcript:

AMY GOODMAN: July 19th is a day that is honored around the world, where two gay teenagers, Iranian teens, were hung. This is a picture of them hanging. They were two young men, named Mahmoud Asgari and Ayaz Marhoni. Do you think gay men and lesbians should die in Iran?

PRESIDENT MAHMOUD AHMADINEJAD: [translated] No, there is no law for their execution in Iran. Either they were drug traffickers or they had killed someone else. Those who kill someone else or engage in acts of rape could be punished by execution. Otherwise, homosexuals are not even known who they are to be hung, in the second place. So, we don’t have executions of homosexuals. Of course, we consider it an abhorrent act, but it is not punished through capital punishment. It’s basically an immoral act. There are a lot of acts that can be immoral, but there’s no capital punishment for them.

I don’t know where you obtained these pictures from. Either they’re a network of drug traffickers or some other—or people who generally might have killed someone else. You know that we take our sort of social security seriously, because it’s important. What would you do in the United States if someone picked up a gun and killed a bunch of people? If there is a person to complain, then there’s capital punishment awaiting the person. Or drug traffickers, if they carry above a certain amount, volume, of drugs with them, they can be executed in Iran.

AMY GOODMAN: There is the death penalty in the United States, but many in the progressive community feel that it is wrong and are trying to have it abolished.

PRESIDENT MAHMOUD AHMADINEJAD: [translated] Well, there are different opinions about it. It’s lawmakers, legal professionals and sociologists that must examine it, see what best suits every society, because the rights of the society sit above the rights of the individual. I don’t wish to say anything about it, to make a comment, because there are experts who must do it.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Obama Said 'John' 25 Times,

McCain Never Said 'Barack'

Here are two tid-bits from tonight's presidential debate that I find very telling, about how each man not only debated, but how he viewed his sparring partner and how he comports himself when addressing those who oppose him.

Sen. Barack Obama used McCain's first name 25 times. Showing what? That he acknowledges his opponent as an individual, and gives respect to the man just by addressing him directly by name.

But Sen. John McCain never uttered the name Barack once. What does that tell me? That he couldn't extend a simple conversational courtesy to Obama. He simply wasn't programmed to relax and let go of his anger, which he had too much of tonight.

Seeing McCain battle from Ole Miss, giving us another scary glimpse of how he'd act on the world stage with adversaries, is more reason to make sure he remains in the Senate.

Friday, September 26, 2008

SF City Hall: Fundies, Folsom,
Gays & NAACP Branch President

Anti-gay crusader Peter LaBarbera and his crew of five others from Americans for Truth About Homosexuality held a press conference morning in front of San Francisco's City Hall to protest the upcoming Folsom Street Fair, a leather and BDSM festival that celebrates 25 years of giving the fetish crowd what they want.

Before LaBarbera began his event I engaged him in small talk, shook his hand, and he asked how I was doing. We've dealt with each other before and we have a small rapport. After exchanging pleasantries, I held up a sign showing Ayaz Marhoni and Mahmoud Asgari, two gay teens hanged in Iran in 2005, moments before they were executed, with these words next to the image: "STOP the executions of gays in Iran, Iraq & Saudi Arabia."

I then addressed the small crowd, comprised mainly of curious or angry gays, about the killings of gays in the Middle East and the denial of human rights for many gays around the world. LaBarbera was not pleased I was co-opting his press conference.

He blathered on about how the Folsom Street Fair is alleged harmful to good morality, called for shuttering sex clubs, ending public nudity at the fair and called on Rep. Nancy Pelosi to denounce the fair. I stood next to him or his associates holding my sign during the entire press conference. Other gays loudly challenged LaBarbera and his pals to embrace tolerance and acceptance of gay people and gay marriage.

The entire affair lasted a little more than 30 minutes. Here are photos I took this morning:

Peter LaBarbera. Me to him, in homage to the Folsom fair: "You're sweating like a pig."

The enormous sign on the left is a blow-up of the mayor's proclamation for the fair.

The photographer and reporter on the left are from the Chronicle. All other folks are gay community members.

Two beautiful lesbian lovers and partners en route to getting hitched. "Our love is beautiful and not up for your condemnation. Why are you so threatened by lesbian love?" said the partner on the left. We gave them a round of cheer and congratulations.

Pudgy me, holding my sign, ruining LaBarbera's photo-op.

The Rev. Amos C. Brown, longtime president of the San Francisco unit of the NAACP, forcefully calling for showing love and kindness to gay people.

In the heat of the sun and arguing, a cop intervenes and asks Rev. Brown to move on.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Meghan McCain, Like Her Father,
Must be Stopped!

I'm tired. Really tired of almost eight horribly long years under Bush and Cheney. I'm sick of the constitutional perversions they've carried out, among other atrocious acts. When I think of the "you never know what will happen next" way in which they carried out the most extreme plans on their agenda, I get nauseous. America is too great and precious to me to allow four more years of reckless leadership without a fight.

It's not enough to work to keep McCain away from the Oval Office. His entire team and family members who been actively campaigning for him, particularly Meghan with her "golly-gee"-infused blog, must be kept away from getting their hands on the levers of powers that come with the White House.

Now is the time for me to declare myself one American who wants to close the book described by McCain's daughter Meghan on her blog today:

Hi everyone. As I'm sure you have seen, there's a lot of uncertainty over what we'll be doing in the next few days. We were so excited to get back on the trail, starting tomorrow. We're waiting to see what happens along with everyone else. As soon as we know, we'll fill you in. Another chapter in the "you never know what will happen next" book is unfolding...

The only reason why that book is unfolding the way it is, is because of the spoiled POW brat heading up the GOP ticket.

McCain's Campaign Suspension on His Site

With his reckless and impulsive leadership qualities on full display Sen. John McCain promised yesterday to suspend his campaign and asked that the first debate with Sen. Barack Obama be postponed. The text of his speech was posted on his site:

Tomorrow morning, I will suspend my campaign and return to Washington after speaking at the Clinton Global Initiative . . .

I am directing my campaign to work with the Obama campaign and the commission on presidential debates to delay Friday night's debate until we have taken action to address this crisis.

But if suspending means no longer running anti-Obama/Biden video ads on your web site, which I think it should, then the McCain suspension is bogus.

Check out this video on Obama/Biden and coal, to see the alleged suspension in action. Interested in dozens more TV and web ads from the maverick? Go here to view them all. It's not enough that he's supposedly taken his ads off TV, but they should also be removed from his site.

In this age of the web, I believe when a candidate says he or she is going to suspend their campaign, it should mean they will also put their web-posted video ads on hiatus.

Of course, the candidate would also post a statement fully explaining the suspension of the ads, and the larger campaign. But in the case of McCain and his staff, no such statement is on their site.

All I know about McCain's promised suspension are his few vague words from yesterday, with no details presented by his staff on the campaign's site. You will not find suspension specifics on his site. This makes it easier for him to escape being held truly accountable.

And what about more info on McCain's push to delay tomorrow night's debate with Obama? Is that delved into with attention to details? In a word, no:

What: Presidential Debate: September 26th in Oxford, MS
When: September 26, 2008 9:00 p.m. ET
Where: The University of Mississippi

Please watch John McCain debate Barack Obama in a Presidential Debate, focusing on Foreign Policy, on September 26th in Oxford, Mississippi . . .

Answer Format: The debate will be broken into nine, 9-minute segments. The moderator will introduce a topic and allow each candidate 2 minutes to comment. After these initial answers, the moderator will facilitate an open discussion of the topic for the remaining 5 minutes, ensuring that both candidates receive an equal amount of time to comment.

If what we've seen in the past four weeks from the McCain/Palin political train wreck (which I've been watching through my fingers covering my eyes), is any indication of how they and their team would run the White House, and gulp, the country for four years, then we're all in for a scary time if they win the election.

But you knew that already, right?

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

(The broken line, on the downward slope, represents the HIV poz rate for all patients at SF City Clinic. [Page 114.])

SF DPH: HIV Down 33%,
Gay Gonorrhea -12%, Syphilis -16%

Maintaining their customary silence about the latest annual STD report showing remarkable and continuing significant declines of HIV infections and other diseases, the San Francisco Department of Health last week released the 2007 report without any fanfare or attempt to garner gay community or mainstream media attention.

Let's go over the important stats from the STD control and prevention unit of DPH.

The report notes that the HIV seropositivity rate at City Clinic, the municipal health facility where much HIV/STD testing is performed, experienced a 33.3% decline from 2006. This positivity rate is not the rate for the city, but it is a telling surrogate marker for HIV transmission. (Page 114.)

Total gonorrhea for the city fell 18.5%. Early syphilis dropped 16.3%, while primary and secondary syphilis fell 16.9%. Chlamydia infections fell 2.8%. (Page 6.)

Male rectal gonorrhea declined by 12.3%, another prime surrogate marker for determining San Francisco's HIV infection rate. However, male rectal chlamydia cases increased 15.1%. Here is the reason why:

Rectal and pharyngeal screening for gonorrhea and chlamydia for men who have sex with men began in 2003 and has expanded beyond the STD City Clinic to local providers serving MSM populations. As a result, increases in case detection may be a function of increased screening for this often asymptomatic infection. (Page 76.)

If the falling HIV, rectal gonorrhea and syphilis numbers are enough good news for you from the new report, here are more encouraging stats.

Non-gonococcal urethritis decreased 15.6%, while pelvic inflammatory disease fell by 7.0%. (Page 83.)

All these declines of HIV and STDs, in my opinion, are fantastic developments in the control and prevention of infections, and should be discussed at public forums held by the DPH. Sadly, DPH is resolutely silent about the new report and the declines. DPH has issued no press release about the report.

It strikes me as strange, to say to the least, that silence is the rule in San Francisco as sexually transmitted diseases continue to show decreases. Why can't the DPH herald the new report and praise sexually active gay men for acting responsibly to reduce and control new infections?

After years of closely observing the DPH and how it handles HIV/STD rates and new reports, I can honestly say the department is really only interesting in promoting the new stats when rates are climbing, even by the smallest margins.

But when annual reports document dramatic falling rates of HIV and STDs, the operative mode is to do nothing that calls attention to the declines, and we certainly never hear DPH offer any praise and positive reinforcement to gay man for bringing infection rates down.

I would think the DPH would welcome press and gay community attention for the new report. That the department would also explain how and why the rates fell, and town hall meetings would be held to disucss how to keep the stats going down. We might even get the DPH experts to say if the myriad social marketing ads were responsible for the drop, or other AIDS Inc-driven prevention programs, or community-created practices such as serosorting, played a role in the reduction.

In any case, the silence from DPH and AIDS Inc about the continuing decline of HIV and STDs is not healthy or beneficial to fighting AIDS.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

AK Paper: G/L Titles Donated
to Wasilla Library

The newspaper of record for Wasilla, Alaska, is the Frontiersman and today's edition includes an extensive front-page story about my donation of two gay-themed books to the local library. Click here to view the PDF of the front-page image.

Michael Rovito wrote the page 1 story and will likely follow developments, as the librarians decided whether to accept the books or pass them along to a library support group to be resold.

A big shout-out to E. Ross and Tim Stallard, two gay Alaskans supportive of the book giving project, for their public endorsement getting gay books on library shelves up north, and to reporter Rovito, for his story and mentioning Ross' web site and using a quote from Stallard, who operates the gay wilderness and travel business Out in Alaska.

From the Frontiersman article:

Responding to news reports about then-Wasilla Mayor Sarah Palin asking a librarian how she would feel about banning books, a San Francisco man has donated two children’s books dealing with homosexuality to the Wasilla Library . . .

The news — old news in the Mat-Su Valley, but new in the Lower 48 — prompted Petrelis to send to Wasilla “Heather Has Two Mommies” and “Daddy’s Roommate,” both children’s books that explain gay lifestyle.

“I said, ‘I’m going to send copies of both books just to make sure they’re on the shelves,’” Petrelis said . . .

There is no evidence that Palin ever banned any books from the library, although many Outside media outlets have incorrectly reported to the contrary . . .

Library Director KJ Martin-Albright said she has received the books but, like any donation, they have to go through a process that determines what to do with them.

There are two options for donations, she said. Either the library puts the book on the shelves or gives it to Friends of the Library to be sold. Martin-Albright said factors such as the author’s reputation, importance of the subject matter to the library’s collection, space availability in the library and a litany of other factors are used to determine the fate of donated materials.

As of Monday, there is no timeline for when a decision on the books Petrelis sent will be made, and Martin-Albright stressed every donated book goes through the same process . . .

Bent Alaska, a blog chronicling gay news and events in the state, praises the donation on its Web site.

Tim Stallard, owner of Out in Alaska, a gay and lesbian guide service, said he thinks Petrelis’s effort is well-placed.

“I think it’s a good statement,” Stallard said. “I think in a free society like ours, openness and education and information are always important.”

Stallard added the timing is right after the Wasilla Public Library was thrust into the spotlight when Palin was named to the Republican ticket.

Gratuitous beefcake shot. Two gay men enjoying a rafting trip organized by Tim Stallard's Out in Alaska wilderness experience agency.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Anchorage Daily News Raw Video:
Palin 'Truth Squad' Meets the Press

I've just started watching the ten-minute press conference held today, I believe, in Anchorage by the McCain/Palin "Truth Squad." I like how Palin's spokesperson calls her boss an "open book." May the donated gay books to Wasilla's public library soon be available for opening.

Some notes from the Anchorage Daily News on the news from the video:

The Palin/McCain camp looked to pitch the state personnel board as the only "legal forum" for the state to look into Palin's firing of former Public Safety Commissioner Walt Monegan ...

Palin spokeswoman Meg Stapleton says she doen't know if Palin is supporting Sen. Ted Stevens as he fights federal charges this week.

Wasilla Librarian:
Accept or Resell Donated Gay Kid's Books?

As she promised earlier today, E. Ross of BentAlaska.com did indeed contact the Wasilla public library, to inquire about the recently donated gay children's books, and their fate. This is her report:

Donated "Heather" and "Daddy's Roommate" Will Be Accepted or Sold by Wasilla Library

by E. Ross

Two popular gay-themed children's books, "Heather Has Two Mommies" and "Daddy's Roommate," were donated to the Wasilla Public Library in Alaska, where Sarah Palin was mayor, by gay and lesbian Americans concerned with attempted censorship.

The full press release was posted earlier: Gay Americans Donate Children's Books to Wasilla Library, On Eve of Banned Books Week.

I called the Wasilla Public Library when they opened today.

"We received the books," said KJ Martin-Albright, Library Administrator at the Wasilla Public Library, "and we sent a copy of our library donation policy and a receipt to Mr. Petrelis."

"Karen Davis, the youth services librarian, will decide if the books will be accepted and placed on the shelves, or be given to the Friends of the Library and sold at a book faire."

"Rest assured that we are not dodging him," said Ms. Martin-Albright. "He should be hearing from us soon."

Bent Alaska thanks Mr. Petrelis for this generous donation, and encourages Ms. Davis to accept these wonderful children's books. We look forward to seeing "Heather Has Two Mommies" and "Daddy's Roommate" on the shelves of the Wasilla Public Library.

And I thank E. Ross and other gay Alaskans for working with me to create a friendlier environment for gays, and gay-themed books, in the state. I'm keeping my fingers crossed Ms. David agrees to place the books on the shelves.

Gay Americans Donate Children's Books
to Wasilla Library,
On Eve of Banned Books Week


Email: bentalaska(at)gmail(dot)com

Michael Petrelis
Phone: 415-621-6267
Email: mpetrelis(at)aol(dot)com

Gay and lesbian Americans concerned with attempted censorship at public libraries recently donated copies of "Heather Has Two Mommies" and "Daddy's Roommate" to the Wasilla, Alaska, public library. This show of support for diversity and First Amendment rights is a pro-active direct response to reports that former mayor and now GOP vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin may have tried to remove the children’s books from the shelves in the 1990s.

The two gay-themed books were given to the library to guarantee they were available for the Wasilla community to read and enjoy. The donation was made in anticipation of Banned Books Week, which begins on September 27.

Ultimately, the gay and lesbian Americans would like to place copies of "Daddy's Roommate" and another gay-themed children's book, "And Tango Makes Three," on the shelves of Alaska's one-hundred-and-one public libraries. ("Heather" is out of print, which is why "Tango" was chosen.)

San Francisco activist Michael Petrelis and his longtime partner Mike Merrigan gave the books to not only insure local kids would have access to them, but also to strengthen diversity in Alaska.

“When we first became aware of this story concerning Palin’s possible call for literary censorship, it dismayed us,” said Petrelis, who blogs at PetrelisFiles.com. “If Palin’s attitude towards literary freedom, not to mention her respect for diversity, have not changed since the 1990s, then her qualifications for vice president are certainly to be called into question.”

Local gay support for the donation came from E. Ross of BentAlaska.com, a gay news and activities service web site based in Anchorage.

"Giving gay books to the Wasilla public library is a wonderful pro-active way to foster communication and encourage reading. Many libraries and schools have been pressured to ban ‘Heather Has Two Mommies’ and 'Daddy's Roommate' over the years, proving that citizens against diverse opinions and tolerance pose a danger to education and unity everywhere. These two titles are prime examples of books that should have a secure place on many public and school library shelves,” said Ross.

Ross will be contacting the Wasilla librarian after the donation, to confirm that the library will place the books on the shelves. She will write a follow-up report and share it on her BentAlaska.com site.

The director of the Wasilla library, KJ Martin-Albright, last week posted a note to the Publisher's Weekly blog regarding these issues:

At one point, "Heather Has Two Mommies" was challenged at the Wasilla Public Library and it was decided to keep it on the shelf. So, why is it no longer there? Well, Wasilla out grew the size of its library about twenty years ago . . . Along with the fact that library collections are dynamic and not static, anything on the bookshelves has to earn its real estate. If it isn't circulating, it doesn't stay. I know this is not the ideal, but it is our reality. The library no longer has "Heather", but we do our best to offer materials encompassing all different points of view and presenting every side to an argument.

For approximately $2,300, the gay activists, in collaboration with the Lambda Rising gay book store in Washington, DC, would purchase two gay children’s books and they would be shipped and donated to every one of the state’s public libraries.

When Sarah Palin returns to being the full-time governor of Alaska on November 5, we'd like for her to find her public library system has welcomed these gay-themed children’s book as a gesture of respect for equality and diversity, which is a true American value.

People interested in donating to this project can contribute directly through PayPal, by sending their monetary donation to mpetrelis@aol.com. Questions about this effort can be directed to the same email address.
# # #

Obama Rally in Wasilla Attracts 60

The local newspaper for Sarah Palin's hometown, the Frontiersman, reported over the weekend on a rally held last Friday. What was so special and newsworthy about it? The fact that this was an action for the Obama/Biden ticket. Nice to see a few dozen folks showed up and publicly voiced their opposition to McCain/Palin, while also rallying for political change in November.

BTW, my gay eye caught two things of queer interest in the photo from the Frontiersman. One, look at the large green street sign in the upper left section. It reads Crusey Street, which I hope is pronounced cruisy. Second, dig the hunky silver-goateed bear with the Vets For Obama sign on the lower right. He'd be quite popular at San Francisco's Lone Star Saloon, a bear lair.

Here's an excerpt from the news article:

WASILLA — Nearly 60 supporters of Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama — and at least one supporter of Republican candidate John McCain who stood in the background — livened up a moody September Friday with a spirited rally.

Witty signs and shouts of praise for Obama came from the revelers. And although those passing by were generally cordial, a few one-finger salutes and derogatory comments were hurled from those motoring past on the Parks Highway at the intersection of Crusey Street.

Patti Fisher, a Wasilla resident who helped organize the rally, said she wanted to make clear the event was not an anti-Gov. Sarah Palin showing. “What we want is people to know not everyone is for McCain-Palin,” Fisher said. “We want people to know there is an alternative."

Using 21st century connectivity, Fisher said she began e-mailing friends about the planned corner rally, which eventually blossomed into a mass e-mail
announcement . . .

Thursday, September 18, 2008

NPR Host Paid Nearly $500K;
President Got $624K

The corporate media pays its executives and star reporters and anchors good money for their services, but the top salaries on the corporate and reporting sides at the nonprofit National Public Radio news operation, don't approach the millions of dollars paid each year to the likes of marquee TV news personalities, but the NPR salaries are still sizable.

I looked at the 2006 and 2007 IRS 990 filings by NPR and found some healthy six-figure compensation packages.

In 2006, Ed Gordon, who had hosted "News & Notes," received compensation totaling $478,456, before he left NPR.

The tax filing for 2007 reveals Kevin Klose, president of NPR, partial take home package was $474,171, and he also received $153,057 from the NPR Foundation, for a total compensation of $624,228.

Next comes the CEO, Kenneth Stern, who got $429,037.

On the news reporting side, the top salary went to Barbara Della Porta Rehm at $383,139. After her came Robert Siegel at $350,288, then Renee Montagne at $332,160, with Steve Inskeep rounding out the list at $331,242.

NPR is to be saluted for posting their IRS 990 forms on their site, and making them easy to find. Media transparency is soo much easier when the outlets provide salary information for anyone to see.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Gay Alaskans Protest Ex-Homosexual Meeting

I've been getting in touch with gay Alaskans, and to my pure delight there are quite a few out of the closet gays and allies, and one site I'm impressed with is run by E. Ross called BentAlaska.

Check out the fabulous and informative web site and read a report from a protest over the weekend promoting gay visibility, love and full acceptance, as an ex-gay group proselytized inside a church.

From the report, which notes the large, and welcome, participation of our parents, friends and loved ones:

"Our gay kids are not sick, they're not evil, and they don't need changing," said Jane Schlittler, chair of PFLAG Anchorage. "We're here so that truth wins out."

Kirt and Roger stand together near the church parking lot. They were married in Canada, the first gay couple from Alaska to be legally wed.

"I'm here for people like Stuart Matis," said Roger, "a young gay man in California who thought it better to put a bullet in his head rather than live with the shame that these people in the church create."

Here are two photos of the action. Judging by the folks in the pictures, and seeing practically all youthful faces, I am pleased to see younger generations of gays hitting the streets up north for LGBT visibility and political organizing.

And finally, here is the clip of the local TV news story on the ex-gay meeting and pro-gay action outside:

Hey, all you bent and gay Alaskans -- San Francisco says:
We love you! Keep up the great activism.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Signage from the pro-gay forces in July.

CA's Prop 8 is Not About Gays or Marriage?

Silly me, I thought California's proposition 8, the initiative about gay marriage equality, was about gay marriage. But based on the outreach posters and materials from the No on 8 forces, the pro-gay-marriage folks, which omits the words "gay" and "marriage" altogether, I'd say the No on 8 leaders have not only de-gayed the the proposition, they've also divorced it from anything to do with marriage.

Back in July, at a community town hall meeting in San Francisco with campaign leaders, I raised the matter of closeting the fight to defeat the measure. Signage at the time avoided using the word "gay," but at least "marriage" was used. Excerpted from the Bay Area Reporter account of the forum:

Later on during a question and answer session, Michael Petrelis also brought up the issue of wording, stating that Equality for All, which is the coalition of LGBT and allied organizations against Prop 8, should use the word "gay" in campaign signage. He pointed to one of the signs on the wall that read, "Vow to vote No on the marriage amendment." . . .

"Are we going to take the campaign out of the closet?" Petrelis asked. "I don't like the sign. I'm fighting for 'gay marriage' on the sign."

But longtime bisexual activist Maggi Rubenstein countered that the campaign should "push for same-sex and LGBT, rather than gay, with all due respect" to Petrelis.

Kendell was blunt in her response to the issue. "There's no doubt that it will be very clear to everybody – it's a big ol' homo thing. You will see yourself reflected in what we're doing."

Kendell also said that the language issue "wasn't intentional or calculated."

"The campaign messaging is one of those things that's a moving target. This is feedback we will certainly feed into that," she said.

Now, I happen to respect Kate Kendall and her advocacy very much, and I believed she was quite sincere when she made these comments in July. I had hoped that at this point, less than two months from election day, there would be signage from the No on 8 campaign mentioning gays. Not only hasn't that happened, but the campaign leaders have now omitted even the word marriage from their propaganda.

Yes, I'd like to see Prop 8 consigned to the electoral waste dump in November, but I favor doing it without running a campaign effort that renders gays, and even marriage, invisible.

Monday, September 15, 2008

New Yorker Omission:
Author of Palin Stories Gave Obama $250

Philip Gourevitch, editor of the Paris Review and staff writer for the New Yorker magazine, has written a medium-length "Letter from Alaska" article about his visit over the summer to Alaska, and his chats with Gov. Sarah Palin, appearing in the current issue. In last week's edition, he penned a short piece for the "Talk of the Town" column, about her nice comments towards Barack Obama. From the column:

Before she was running against him, Sarah Palin—the governor of Alaska and now the Republican candidate for Vice-President of the United States—thought it was pretty neat that Barack Obama was edging ahead of John McCain in her usually solidly red state. After all, she said, Obama’s campaign was using the same sort of language that she had in her gubernatorial race. “The theme of our campaign was ‘new energy,’ ” she said recently. “It was no more status quo, no more politics as usual, it was all about change. So then to see that Obama—literally, part of his campaign uses those themes, even, new energy, change, all that, I think, O.K., well, we were a little bit ahead on that.”

Excellent reporting in both Gourevitch pieces that told me things I didn't know before reading the New Yorker. However, the magazine failed to disclose that Gourevitch donated $250 to Obama's campaign back in December 2007. Click here to read the info from the FEC about this gift.

You decide if the donation clouded or influenced in any way what was reported in the two pieces, or Gourevitch's outlook on Palin and her policies.

Over the weekend, I sent email to Gourevitch, his boss David Remnick, editor of the New Yorker, and a spokeswoman for the publication, asking why the donation was not revealed to readers, and as of noon today, I haven't received a reply. If they do write back, I'll share their comments.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

NYT: Palin Tried to Ban 'Daddy's Roommate'?

Since we're in Rovian territory here and the McCain/Palin operatives are at work, rest assured they'll start denying what is reported in this New York Times story on Sunday. On Monday, I'm sending a copy of "Heather Has Two Mommies" and one of "Daddy's Roommate" to Wasill'a public library, just to make sure there are copies on the shelves for everyone to read. Be sure to look at the YouTube video about "Daddy's Roommate":

Witnesses and contemporary news accounts say Ms. Palin asked the librarian about removing books from the shelves. The McCain-Palin presidential campaign says Ms. Palin never advocated censorship.

But in 1995, Ms. Palin, then a city councilwoman, told colleagues that she had noticed the book “Daddy’s Roommate” on the shelves and that it did not belong there, according to Ms. Chase and Mr. Stein. Ms. Chase read the book, which helps children understand homosexuality, and said it was inoffensive; she suggested that Ms. Palin read it.

“Sarah said she didn’t need to read that stuff,” Ms. Chase said. “It was disturbing that someone would be willing to remove a book from the library and she didn’t even read it.”

“I’m still proud of Sarah,” she added, “but she scares the bejeebers out of me.”

Click here to read the full NY Times article.

MSM Question Palin's Alleged Mexico, Canada Trips

There are lots of allegations coming from the mouth of Sarah Palin, many of which are not getting the proper scrutiny they deserve from the MSM, mainstream media. But some things are being questioned by the MSM, including her claims to have visited America's neighbors.

From Charlie Gibson's interview of Palin for ABC News:

GIBSON: Did you ever travel outside the country prior to your trip to Kuwait and Germany last year?

PALIN: Canada, Mexico, and then, yes, that trip, that was the trip of a lifetime to visit our troops in Kuwait and stop and visit our injured soldiers in Germany. That was the trip of a lifetime and it changed my life.

Today's Boston Globe provides some answers to some basic questions. Did she really travel to Mexico? Was it a business trip or a vacation? What about her travels to Canada?

Palin also told ABC that she had traveled to Mexico and Canada. Her campaign had previously mentioned a Canada visit, but not a trip to Mexico. Comella said yesterday that Palin had visited Mexico on vacation, and Canada once last year.

"We did not have 100 percent confirmation about the Mexico trip in the initial days we were being asked. It was a personal trip," Comella said.

Palin's campaign did not respond to requests for details about when she traveled to Mexico and where she went, nor did it provide details of her 2007 Canada trip or indicate whether it was for business or pleasure.

Doesn't sound to me like she gained any valuable experience while south of the border last year, experience that would help her, if she ends up Vice President of the U.S. of A. I'm looking forward to reading some details in the MSM about her single journey to Canada last year and wonder if it was of a political nature.

Kudos to the Boston Globe and other MSM outlets digging into every claim by Palin herself and the operatives at the McCain headquarters.

Disney/ABC Director Gave $30,500 To Obama

In my post a few days ago on donations from members of the board of directors of the Disney Company, parent company to ABC TV, I mentioned the possibility that one member, Judith Estrin of JLabs LLC, may have donated $28,500 in July to Barack Obama. I sent her an email seeking clarification.

Well, Estrin left me a voice mail message the other day, confirming that she had indeed given that large amount to him. In part, she said:

"You asked whether or not the [FEC] filing by the Obama office was a typo, and, in fact, it was not a typo. I just wanted to confirm that filing was public information, and that the filing is correct. And I think that is what you needed to know."

The confirmation from Estrin on the $28,500, means her total amount given to Obama, adding in her $2,300 donation in June, comes to $30,800. By the way, those are her only donations to a Democrat. All of her other donations, and they're substantial, have gone solidly to GOP candidates, including George W. Bush.

So at this point in the 2008 race, Disney directors have given $30,800 to Obama, versus $8,900 to McCain, spread out over a few years.

That concludes today's exercise in adding a small degree of transparency to a corporate media giant's board of directors and their FEC files and donations.

Friday, September 12, 2008

GOP v Dems:
House Floor Speeches on Palin

Pundits like to say that when Republicans are issued marching orders from party bosses, the troops follow orders and use every free available platform to get their message out, including the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives. I think a few GOP Reps have faithfully carried out their party duty in this respect in the past week on behalf of Gov. Palin.

A recent search of the Congressional Record reveals that Republican members of the House have made five speeches on the floor, defending their party's veep choice and criticizing alleged media bias against her, while no hits were returned showing any comparable one-minute speeches from Democrats attacking Sarah Palin and applauding media scrutiny of her record.

I hate to say this, but I gotta give points to the GOP members for using floor time, probably also covered by C-SPAN and broadcast into millions of voters' home, to rally their base for the presidential vote in November. Are the Democrats too shy to do the same from the House floor and on C-SPAN?

Let's look at who has taken to the House floor recently and what they've said about Palin and the press. Sorry, couldn't find anything from a Democratic member of the House about Palin to include in this survey. From the Congressional Record:

September 11:

Mr. [Lamar] SMITH of Texas [R].

Madam Speaker, sometimes the worst examples of unfair news coverage are what reporters choose not to say. For example, while the media often label Governor Sarah Palin ``conservative,'' they seldom call Senator Barack Obama or Senator Joe Biden ``liberal,'' despite the fact that the National Journal ranks Senator Obama as the most liberal member of the Senate, and Senator Biden as the third most liberal member of the Senate.

A comparison of television network news programs immediately after each vice presidential selection shows that newscasters continually referred to Governor Sarah Palin as ``conservative,'' but did not one time, not a single time, label Senator Joe Biden as ``liberal.'' The American people should encourage the media to apply the same rules to both Presidential tickets. Only then can we restore Americans' faith in news reporting.

September 10:


Mrs. [Candice] MILLER of Michigan [R].

Mr. Speaker, the campaign of Barack Obama cannot refute Governor Sarah Palin's record of change and reform as Governor of Alaska. She took on the ``Old Boy Network'' in Alaska and she won. She took on corruption throughout State government and rooted it out. She took on Big Oil and made it serve the interests of her State. She is a true agent of change.

So now the Obama campaign has decided that the way to get at Sarah Palin is through personal attacks and sexist insults. Yesterday, the Associated Press quoted the following: `` `You can put lipstick on a pig,' Obama said to an outbreak of laughter, shouts and raucous applause from his audience, clearly drawing a connection to Palin's joke. `It's still a pig.' ''

Well, Mr. Speaker, Senator Obama might find such jokes funny, but women will only find them insulting. American women also understand that if this is the kind of change that Senator Obama is offering to America, it is really no change at all. Senator Obama owes Governor Palin and the women of America an apology.

September 9:


Mrs. [Candice] MILLER of Michigan [R].

Mr. Speaker, over the past 2 weeks, we have seen both parties' commitment to change on full display.Barack Obama had the opportunity to make an historic choice and choose Hillary Clinton to join his ticket. But, oh, no. The ``Old Boy Network'' won out and Senator Obama went back on his commitment to change and reform by choosing a Senator who has been in Washington for over three decades.

Women understand this because we have seen it before. Sometimes no matter how hard you fight or how much support you have, someone will always stand in your way, regardless of paying lip service.

Contrast that with the choice made by Senator John McCain. He chose a strong woman to join with him to bring real change to Washington. From the PTA to the city council to the mayor of Wassilla to the Governor of Alaska, Sarah Palin has broken down the Old Boy Network, rooted out corruption, cut taxes, reduced spending, and brought real change to government. And now we see Senator Obama and his Democratic allies trying to tear her down and destroy another strong woman.

But the women of America will not be fooled and they will not be held back any longer. John McCain and Sarah Palin will bring change and reform to Washington and will finally shatter that seemingly unbreakable glass ceiling.

September 9:


(Mr. [Lamar] SMITH of Texas [R] asked and was given permission to address the House for 1 minute and to revise and extend his remarks.)

Mr. Speaker, according to a recent Rasmussen poll, more than half of U.S. voters now think reporters are trying to hurt Governor Sarah Palin with their news coverage, while a scant 5 percent think reporters are trying to help the VP candidate with their coverage.

The encouraging development is that the American people are letting the media, from MSNBC to Us Weekly to Oprah, know that they will not stand for slanted election coverage. By sending e-mails, canceling subscriptions, and contacting advertisers, they are making their voices heard.

This is an important development. The American people know that they do have a say in the media's coverage. For all those who are dissatisfied with the election coverage, I urge you to contact your local and national media outlets and demand the highest standards of journalistic integrity.

September 8:

Mr. [Ric] KELLER of Florida [R].

I thank the gentleman from Georgia for yielding.


I have great respect for all four of the individuals running for President on the national tickets, Republicans and Democrats, but having been to Alaska and spent 4 days with the world leading experts on this issue, I can tell you that in my humble opinion Governor Sarah Palin knows more about this issue than all three men combined. I'm excited with the energy she brings to this debate and the knowledge she has about drilling because she knows these issues cold. And I hope in this Presidential election, whether you're a Republican or Democrat, listen to what this lady says because she's been saying what I learned over the past 4 days. There's very few of us that get to see it in person.


Well, look, the bottom line is this: We have a bill. The Republicans have a bill. We have a comprehensive bill. Yes, the cornerstone is ``Drill Here, Drill Now.'' But this is the all-of-the-above approach to energy independence, and that's what we have to have, not only for our domestic needs but for the security of this Nation. And I commend our nominee for President, John McCain, and our nominee for Vice President, Sarah Palin, because they understand we need to drill on the Outer Continental Shelf. And we will have a Vice President who is from an energy State and understands the importance of those resources that we own.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

'Palin Not Stalin' & 'Palin Pink' Trademarked

The tragic choice of John McCain two weeks ago, to ask Sarah Palin to be his running mate, is having repercussions in many ways across American culture and life. Who would have predicted anyone, much less four people, taking out trademark applications related to her?

On a lark, looking for a few laughs, I searched the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office's web site for recent trademarks related to Palin. Four hits were returned, each with either charm or weirdness.

Click here to visit the trademark search engine, then enter "palin" as the term, and you'll be linked to the four applications.

Let's check them out, and I hope your funny bone is tickled:

Word Mark
Goods and Services
IC 003. US 001 004 006 050 051 052. G & S: Cosmetics; Cosmetics and make-up; Cosmetics, namely lip primer
Standard Characters Claimed
Serial Number
Filing Date September 5, 2008
Current Filing Basis 1B Original Filing Basis 1B
Owner (APPLICANT) Wilson, Nicole L. INDIVIDUAL UNITED STATES 3701 Lambson Road Baltimore MARYLAND 21220
Type of Mark
Live/Dead Indicator
You go, girl! Are there enough GOP women and drag queens to make such beauty products with this color profitable? Probably, but I doubt that they're all registered to vote.

Word Mark
Goods and Services IC 025. US 022 039. G & S: Short-sleeved or long-sleeved t-shirts; T-shirts
Standard Characters Claimed
Serial Number 77562902
Filing Date September 4, 2008
Current Filing Basis 1B Original Filing Basis 1B
Type of Mark
Live/Dead Indicator LIVE
Um, besides the people who work for the company that took out the trademark, are there any other voters who are pro-choice and backing Palin?

Goods and Services IC B . US B . G & S: SECTION 1(b)
Standard Characters Claimed Mark Drawing Code (4) STANDARD CHARACTER MARK
Serial Number
Filing Date September 4, 2008
Current Filing Basis 1B Original Filing Basis 1B
Owner (APPLICANT) David Lawford Lawrence INDIVIDUAL UNITED STATES 1475 East Amber Fayetteville ARKANSAS 72703
Other Data The certification mark, as intended to be used by authorized persons, is intended to certify motivation, election, inspiration.
Live/Dead Indicator LIVE
Boring. Not worth trademarking. Will not be a hit at haunted houses this Halloween.

Word Mark
Goods and Services IC 025. US 022 039. G & S: Eyeshades; Golf shirts; Shirts; Sports shirts; Sweat shirts; T-shirts; Wearable garments and clothing, namely, shirts Standard Characters Claimed Mark Drawing Code (4) STANDARD CHARACTER MARK
Serial Number
Filing Date September 1, 2008
Current Filing Basis 1B Original Filing Basis 1B
Owner (APPLICANT) Karich, Eric K. INDIVIDUAL UNITED STATES 2807 St. Mark Dr. Mansfield TEXAS 76063
Attorney of Record Eric Karich
Type of Mark TRADEMARK
Live/Dead Indicator

I didn't know he was on this year's ballot. When did tyrannical and murderous Uncle Joe come back to life and become a choice for voters this fall?

Does the color of her lipstick qualify as Palin Pink?

CA's New HIV Stats Released:

Infections Up or Down?

In the past two months I've been pressuring the California Office of AIDS in Sacramento to greatly expand the amount of HIV infection rate data released to the public, especially on the agency's web site. Right now, CA's statistics are presented only in cumulative totals and it's not easy figuring out if the number of infections is up, down or stable.

I filed a public records request for HIV stats going back to mid-year 2002, broken down in monthly, quarterly and yearly format. Last week, the Office of AIDS provided me with the info requested in a slide format, which is presented below.

Even though I now have very current HIV stats in hand, I'm unable to say if recent numbers are climbing or falling. Yes, the second slide shows a dramatic surge in stats from 2006 to 2007, and slightly fewer stats so far in 2008, but I still won't say if I think the HIV rate in California is up or down.

The reason for my reluctance is because for too long the state's HIV reporting system was unique identifier based, meaning, a person's name wasn't attached to his or her testing paperwork, making it difficult to adequately track new infections. Then in 2006 the state finally shifted into a names based reporting system, which will one day mature to the point of telling us if very recent infections are increasing or not.

But because the local health departments and private labs, working with the state, are cleaning up their unique identifier HIV data, and those stakeholders are assessing the first few years' worth of names based HIV stats, there are many limitations to the data and caution is called for in interpreting the data on the two slides.

That being said, I want to applaud the Office of AIDS for being so open to my suggestions for improving presentation of HIV data, and better engaging the public through the agency's web site.

Dr. Michelle Roland, head of the office, and her staff have done a good job of posting new reports and statements to the public, about their activities. I anticipate even more improvements from the office staff in the next few months, and a better understanding in the gay and black community about the state's efforts at tracking, treating and controlling HIV/AIDS.

Finally, the Office of AIDS epidemiologists who prepared the slides, are available to answer questions about the slides and HIV stats for California. Give them a call at 916-449-5866.

For a larger format of the slides, please click on them.

Slide 1.

Slide 2.