Monday, December 29, 2008

Clinton, Russians, and Gays

Hello and Happy Monday! I haven't had to work in almost two weeks due to my fateful trip to Pittsburgh, so it's been a bit of a rough and hectic morning back at work in DC.

Luckily, I've had the time to look at some of the day's goings-on. In addition to some of the stories from SHEAm (including the new library policies..) , here are a few I'm following:

** Bill and Hillary Clinton are among the most admired people in America! USA Today (I know, hardly a Pulitzer shoe-in...) conducted its annual poll and found that Barack Obama tops the list of admired men (the first president-elect to top the list in more than 50 years) while Hillary Clinton topped the most admired woman list this year and has won 13 of the last 16 years!. While it's admirable that Obama tops the list, President Bush has topped it for the last several years, and presidents are commonly the headliners.

More interesting to me is that Hillz can lose her presidential campaign and still hold the number 1 slot, especially given all the attention for Sarah Palin these days. Go Hillary!!

For the record, Palin was 2nd, Oprah was 3rd, Condi 4th, and Michelle Obama 5th. On the male side Bush was a distant 2nd, John McCain was third while Pope Benedict XVI, Rev. Billy Graham, and Bill Clinton all tied for fourth.

**In other political news, the Republicans are at it again. In the fierce fight for the Republican National Committee Chairmanship, the hits have turned racist. RNC candiate Chip Saltsman's gift to the members of the RNC (who elect the Chairman) was a CD supposedly set to lampoon liberals. Among the titles: "We Hate the USA", "John Edwards' Poverty Tour," "Wright place, wrong pastor," "Love Client #9," "Ivory and Ebony," "The Star Spanglish banner," and worst of all "Barack the Magic Negro," a spoof of "Puff the Magic Dragon". Unsurprisingly, several of these first aired on Rush Limbaugh's show. While it's one thing for an 'entertainment' figure to broadcast these (though still hard for me to believe), it's much worse for the potential leader of a major party to flagrantly distribute these as a means of campaigning. It's so absurd it's almost comical to think that a candidate for the GOP (a party with at best a reputation (fair or not) for being a generally exclusive club of olf white rich men) sending out such blatantly racist material in an effort to gain votes. SNL couldn't have written it any better.

While many have come to Saltman's defence, including Ken Blackwell, an African-American competitor for the RNC Chairmanship, even some in the GOP leadership are reaizing how bad this kind of stuff is for the party. Florida Republican Party Chairman Jim Greer had this to say:

"As the GOP Chairman in one of our nation's most ethnically and culturally diverse states, I am especially disappointed by the inappropriate words and actions we've seen over the past few days," Greer said. "I am proud of those party leaders who have stood up in firm opposition to this type of behavior."

“In Florida we have worked hard to reach out to ALL citizens to promote the Republican Party's principles and values while ensuring that our commitment to African Americans, Hispanics, and other minority communities is sincere and credible. Actions such as the distribution of this CD, regardless of intent, only serves to promote divisiveness and distracts us from our common goal of building our party.

“Today, the GOP has an unprecedented opportunity to embrace change and inclusion, and we are either going to welcome this opportunity fully or watch it slip through our fingers. We can only achieve success if Republican leaders reject racial or any other acts that divide us and instead embrace what unites us as a nation.”

At this rate maybe the Republicans will just continue to implode no matter what happens with President Obama and the new Congress.

**The Sky is Falling! Now from the WSJ courtesy of Hayes: A Russian academic predicts the end of the U.S.... in 2010. Igor Panarin has been predicting for years that the US would fall apart due to moral and economic collapse that would spark a civil war. Only now he's getting media attention. He's not a crackpot and seems to be well respected in Russia, this is a bit unnerving. While I have a really hard time thinking there is much behind his predictions, it's still a little scary to think about, especially since he's being given some real attention and being taken seriously by some. How will it happen? Well:
Mr. Panarin posits, in brief, that mass immigration, economic decline, and moral degradation will trigger a civil war next fall and the collapse of the dollar. Around the end of June 2010, or early July, he says, the U.S. will break into six pieces -- with Alaska reverting to Russian control.
But what happens to the rest of country?

California will form the nucleus of what he calls "The Californian Republic," and will be part of China or under Chinese influence. Texas will be the heart of "The Texas Republic," a cluster of states that will go to Mexico or fall under Mexican influence. Washington, D.C., and New York will be part of an "Atlantic America" that may join the European Union. Canada will grab a group of Northern states Prof. Panarin calls "The Central North American Republic." Hawaii, he suggests, will be a protectorate of Japan or China, and Alaska will be subsumed into Russia.
Scary thought! What do you think? Is this possible in the next year or two? In 10 years??

Be sure to check out the map at the bottom of the article showing what used to be the US...

** Other news from the wide world of Russia: In a television poll, Russians selected Josef Stalin as the third-greatest Russian ever. Yes, the same guy who killed millions of his citizens in the purges in the 1930s... Good job Russia! Maybe we shouldn't take that last story so seriously...

***Now for some stories from the gay world:

*A direct link has finally proven what most people have known all along: that homophobic families who reject LGBT teens cause great harm to the teenagers. While the findings won't as a surprise to most people, this is one of the first times a peer-reviewed article with significant data will appear in a major medical periodical.

The article, entitled "Family Rejection as a Predator of Negative Health Outcomes in White and Latino Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual Young Adults", will appear in a January edition of Pediatrics.

Dr. Caitlin Ryan, the Director of the Family Acceptance Project at San Francisco State University, who led the project had this to say:

"For the first time, research has established a predictive link between specific, negative family reactions to their child’s sexual orientation and serious health problems for these adolescents in young adulthood—such as depression, illegal drug use, risk for HIV infection, and suicide attempts.

"The new body of research we are generating will help develop resources, tools and interventions to strengthen families, prevent homelessness, reduce the proportion of youth in foster care and significantly improve the lives of LGBT young people and their families."

Some shocking statistics from the study:

LGBT young people who are rejected are 8.4 times as likely to attempt suicide, 6 times more likely to be depressed, 3.4 times more likely to use drugs, and 3.4 times as likely to engage in unprotected sex as others their age.

Hopefully this leads to some changes in policy and practice!

*Marriage! A member of the New Hampshire state house has introduced a measure to allow gay marriages! While NH is ahead of many states by already allowing civil unions, State Rep. Jim Splaine is introducing a bill for full marriage equality. Hopefully he's successful! While there have been some major setbacks recently (read Prop 8), luckily we can still look to the progressive northeast for some sanity. Read the entire story here.

* Victory in LA! A gay couple that has already adopted a young son (who remains unidentified for his own sake) won a victory in Federal Court over an issue in Louisiana. LA authorities had refused to list both fathers' names on a birth certificate for the son (who was adopted out of state). Because both men were legally recognized as the adoptive parents of the child in New York, the full faith and credit clause of the constitution is in effect. Federal District Court Judge Jay Zainey didn't even require a trial, but ruled on the face of the issue that Louisiana must publish the birth certificate with both men's names! Congrats!

More to come later, but this will do for now...

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