Archive for the ‘politics’ Category

When the election results were coming in way back in November, I tried to reassure my quailing, flailing and wailing Millennial roommate that we also felt this way when George W took office, and that it wasn’t that bad and that we survived.

However, after just one week with this orange creature in office it’s clear things are going to be much, much worse than Bush. In fact, Trump is making W and even Mitt Romney look like better options. Hell, I’ll take Megatron or Dr. Evil or Dr. Moreau at this point. Not only are we going to have to put up with his nasty face and attitude for 4 years, but also put up with the remnants of what is left with this experiment in democracy.

And throughout all this I’m wondering where the fuck are the Baby Boomers and “Greatest Generation” – you know, the ones who told me when I was 10 that the Russians were going to bomb us and take over our country? Now through old fashioned propaganda tactics done with new tools, the Soviets are achieving their goals. And where are the Boomers? Oh they’re quiet because they don’t want their investments upset. Leave it to my generation to clean up the mess. AGAIN.

If there’s one good thing about this shithole of an administration, it’s a hard dose of reality for the teens and 20-somethings who grew up in Obama’s “nice” administration. Now everyone is a bit more awake and aware of what happens when other types of people are in power. Trump and Pence are out there and they don’t have all your best interests in mind.

I’m wondering how I’m going to manage my anger and disgust for the next 4 years. Despite having gone to a shrink for anger management, I really have no idea how I’m going to manage it. Perhaps it’s time to go back to the shrink proactively and ask him.

In other news, I went to West Virginia during inaugural weekend and the Women’s March. It was a good get away although my house mates were not the outdoorsy types. They could not be extracted from the house even though it was 60 degrees out. So I hiked by myself and found an old abandoned bus and heard a raven in the valley. At night, I heard the unsure hoots of a great horned owl.

I found our Priscilla: Queen of the Valley vehicle for the weekend up on the ridge. #Priscilla

A photo posted by jimbo (@jimbo3dc) on

My job is going well. I’ve been at it for almost 3 months. I am back to tweeting and blogging for work, but also lots of writing too. It’s good to be back doing what I’ve wanted to do for 4 years.

Gríma Wormtongue - the original fake news blogger?We are approaching the 10th anniversary of WhiteCottonGate, where a handful of valiant bloggers battled the insidious machinations of a fake blogger. Nowadays, fake blogging or profile misrepresentation is commonly known as “cafishing.” At the time we were all aghast that a person could do such a thing. Today, we know it is all too common. Was this guy a vanguard of his time, a social media savant?

I’ve been thinking about it a lot since the Comet Ping-Pong conspiracy paranoia that’s been going around. Basically some stalwart internet trolls have gathered online to hyper-analyze emails leaked during the presidential campaign. Not being trained in legal or investigative sciences (science is wrong anyway), they have gone over convenient portions of the emails and have come to their own conclusions. These conclusions have led to a crazed fanatic gunman who actually entered the restaurant armed with a rifle, even firing it in the restaurant while families and staff were there. All because he was convinced there was a child pornography/slavery/torture ring there because all his conspiracy theory friends on the Internets said so.

Their belief system has something to do with Hillary and her sex slave ring. I don’t quite understand why they need to think she is a Madame Supreme and not just a lifetime political entity. I guess because she’s female? I mean, if she’s been in politics this long, she must be leading a sex slave ring, right?

Since then these trolls have been attacking nearby businesses, individuals who work there, and are now extrapolating their “investigations” to anyone remotely linked to Comet, and to other musical venues. I personally know some of these people and they are scared and exhausted. Basically anyone who seems “suspicious” to them is probably guilty of pedophilia. And increasingly it seems to be anyone or anything they don’t understand, like queer or punk culture in DC. These people can’t believe there are drag queens or music venues in the District of Columbia who _aren’t_ child molestation rings. Underneath it all I think it’s just a veiled witch hunt in the guise of righteousness. They think “these people are different, they must be guilty, and we should punish them.” Basically because they must be gay. It’s really frightening and dangerous. They reach these conclusions, make accusations, and armed gunmen appear to “investigate.” They are an independent collective of judgement, jury and executioner. It’s fucking insane. It’s a mob mentality that only snowballs and will one day do real harm to innocents. And it has happened before in history and can happen again.

So when I went to Comet Pizza last week to support their business in light of these online mob attacks, I posted a picture to Instagram from the location, deliberately adding hashtags that might draw the trolls’ attention. In computing it’s called setting a “honey pot.” Predictably within minutes they began commenting with their righteous condemnations of me and the location for crimes they have communally agreed upon. Saying the restaurant harbors tortured children in the basement and such (this place has no basement). I began to try to reasonably interact with them, assuring these people who have never set foot in the restaurant or DC that this was just a neighborhood restaurant and entertainment venue, but the probing questions continued. It quickly became clear to me they had a belief and they were sticking to it, and when I did not answer their questions the way they needed for me to justify their beliefs, they became even more suspicious. They use the same language as cultists, holding on tightly to a belief of something that isn’t there, working themselves up into a deeper frenzy.

And there are hundreds of them. It makes me feel kind of hopeless knowing there are that many people are out there with a fake belief system, from fake news, from fake sources. But that explains the anti-vaccination movement too (which also bothers me).

10 years ago it took 4 of us with coding, archival and investigative skills to unearth the truth on one single fake blogger. How do we combat an army of Marc Whitecottons who seek to undermine an entire nation, and attack anything different from themselves? I really don’t know where to start here, aside from being aware of the problem, spreading the word about these people and the accusations they are spreading, and to stand strong against lies and paranoia. They are attacking culture and queer things in DC, and it could become serious some day soon. I’m genuinely worried. But you start coming at my city and the people I know, it is on. I will not let this happen. Especially from faceless trolls typing away from their mom’s basement.

Or are they really just trolls?

In light of the news about Russian cyber-influence that may have turned the tide of the November elections, it’s also entirely possible that there are Russian elements behind these online witch hunters. They seek to undermine this countries’ stability either from within the government or outside through our cultural institutions. Most of them could indeed be paranoid American troll citizens, but whipped up into a frenzy by Russian online troll infiltrators. It’s some really frightening Cold War tactics. Frightening, but tried and true. In the olden days it was called “propaganda.”

Of course, that could mean I am a secret Russian propagandist too! How much to you really know about me? Haven’t you always thought there was something odd about me?

Well that was a surprise, wasn’t it? I’m still reeling. We’re going to have an Orange Cheeto Jeesus CombOverlord for president. We shall overcomb.

My gay friends are reeling, and worried, as are like all my other friends who aren’t white and straight. What the fuck, U.S.? I think my biggest disappointment is that all those people voted for him, more than I’m disappointed that he’s actually going to be the president. You voted for him, then you deserve what’s coming. As in more of the usual.

I think it hurt a lot because we were also so hopeful for our first female president. I was perfectly fine with her politics and was sure Hillary would have done a great job. And the gays had gotten used to feeling secure for 8 years. It is good to know when someone has your back, and a very shitty feeling when you are suddenly aware some rights you gained may be taken away.
Obama doesn’t get a 100% on his report card from me, but he exceeded my expectations in some areas. I never imagined it would be legal for gays to marry across the nation by the time I was 40. I did not think Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell would be repealed.

And once you get those privileges that straight white people take for granted, it’s real hard to take them back. But let them try.

It’s the first week in and we seem to be experiencing an uptick in violence and vandalism targeted at minorities. The supremacists Trump emboldened during his campaign are out of the closet and ready to share their thoughts with anyone now. We’ll see how that goes over when they bring their supremacy with them to DC in January.

In 2001 when George W. Bush’s administration took office things seemed pretty bleak in DC. But there is a limit to what a president can accomplish. Checks and balances and all that. Not all campaign rhetoric survives the journey to policy. We may never know the extent of damage done by Dick Cheney behind the scenes, and there certainly was a lot of mess to clean up after W’s term. But we survived and did a lot better later.

I can tell you Trump’s best appointees will not be prepared to contend with the behemoth bureaucracies of some of the larger government agencies. Their ability to affect change will be limited, as it was for Obama’s appointees. And even if the Republicans control the House and Senate, there are deep internal differences within their party that will slow the lawmaking process as well. Are you a Tea Party Republican or a Lincolnian Republican? They are as different as Republicans and Democrats. Hopefully.

I don’t want to see our country go through damaging populist phases other countries like Germany, Turkey and Venezuela have gone through. But we are a young country, and that possibility will rise again if it doesn’t in the next four years. But I don’t think it will. “The Government” is a massive, bloated beast that is not easily beaten into submission, even by noisy orange monsters.

This isn’t my best piece of writing but I think it was more important that I wrote it to feel better. I remain somewhat optimistic sometimes, but more often filled with dread about the next four years. I am afraid America made a terribly bad choice.

I didn’t watch the first Clinton/Trump debate last night, but I did scan the articles, reviews and snarky posts the next day. I still can’t believe this is happening. But then again, the RNC chose Sarah Palin as their VP in 2008. And they are aghast that the Democrats keep winning the Presidential races. I sense a severe lack of leadership in the party due to their inability to offer challenging candidates. And 13 people running for the Republican choice starting off didn’t help either. I’m very unlikely to vote for a Republican president, but I would at least prefer a viable choice. I think it’s good for our democracy to have a realistic Republican candidate too. I will be voting for the competent, experienced one for the record.

I am waiting for my background check to start for a security clearance for a government job. I don’t think any of my contacts listed have been called yet. It’s quite a frustrating wait. But it’s back at my former pay grade in an agency I’ve wanted to work for doing what I’ve wanted to get back to for some time. I’ve applied to hundreds of government jobs since I moved out to Portland and back with only about 4 interview calls. I finally got this one and they’re eager for me to start too. But we must all wait for this security theater to go through. It will be nice to get back to work and I’m ready now.

In the mean time I’m going to Provincetown this weekend. The weather won’t be great. In fact the ferry service messaged me to tell me we’ll be taking a bus up the cape due to foul seas. But it will be a great getaway, and a cheap one too. My flight back from my last trip was a mess due to the global Delta breakdown so I got a nice fat voucher for future travels.

Brett PrejeanHere’s a really good foreign policy article about the realities of terrorism today. You are far more likely to die of sheer boredom from lack of drama now that BrettCajun has retired from blogging. You see, now that he’s married, he’s far too emotionally advanced to stoop so low as to blog. There is so much more to do, like brunches on Sunday, or trips to CostCo.

She always pictures herself as a Sith, but I always thought of her as the love child of these two characters:
Jabba the Hutt

Anyway, I currently work close to a big target for terrorists. I was near the Pentagon on 9/11, and lost a neighbor and rugby acquaintance in the attacks. But I am far, far more likely to be horribly mutilated by a motorist with Maryland plates on my bike ride to work than I am of being blown up by a terrorist. I ain’t skeered of no ISIS.

With same-sex marriage up for debate in the Supreme Court and Ireland, there’s been a lot of news and Facebook rants about the subject. We hope for the best, and it’s been an amazing change in public attitudes.

And yet there are those gays who vote against, remain silent, or otherwise host anti-gay presidential candidates in their homes. It’s always Schocking how they could support such candidates, or otherwise remain neutral on the issue.

Of course same-sex marriage is about equality, but I’ve always argued that finances and economics are at the core of the issue. The ability to build up (or legally divide) equity, protect your property in the event one spouse dies, and tax benefits for couples is centric to a civil arrangement.

Rich gays have the finances to make legal arrangements in the absence of same-sex marriage laws. They can hire a lawyer to protect their assets, but it still won’t help them with visitation rights in hospitals and other details. But in the end the legal aspects aren’t a big concern for power couples. They’ll just call their lawyer about it.

Gays with low- and middle-incomes don’t have this option, or it would be very expensive for them to get legal support. They’re essentially powerless in the eyes of the state if the relationship goes downhill or one partner dies. That’s why marriage equality is more important for the rest of us.

That’s about all I have to write about lately. Sorry I missed a whole month! I write a lot at work and when I get home my fingers have nothing to contribute to the keyboard. 4 months into the new job and when I get home I’m often drooling and staring at the wall.

The recent ugly flurry of proposed laws that could allow businesses to deny service to gays (and many others) based on their religious convictions got me thinking of the time such a denial happened to me. It’s something I haven’t written about yet on this blog, but perhaps it’s time to share.

I think it was the summer of 1992 when I was notified I would work in an intern position as a park ranger with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in Rock Island, Illinois. I was just finishing up a summer as a naturalist at a bible camp in southwest Wisconsin. One of the counselors was going to college in Rock Island, and had room in their house I could live in while I interned. There was another roommate who I would be sharing the house with as well, and would meet her the next summer.

The bible camp I worked at was primarily ELCA Lutheran, one of the more progressive “synods” within the Lutheran church. I was confirmed as ELCA Lutheran, and never heard a bad word spoken about gays then nor at the bible camp where I worked and also went as a camper when I was younger. The other synods – usually named after a state like Missouri or Wisconsin – aren’t so progressive. Maybe things have changed with those last two synods. I don’t know though, I haven’t been a practicing Lutheran in a long time. But saying you’re “Lutheran” could mean you’re progressive or quite the opposite. I would learn about these differences later.

I was out of the closet by 1992, and the fellow counselor knew I was gay. The other roommate – whose name was Bridget – did not know I was gay. I think I discussed the issue with my fellow counselor and we may have decided to keep it on the down-low at first. I can’t recall those details, but Bridget would eventually find out.

Park Ranger Jimbo

Lock and Dam #15 on the Mississippi River in Rock Island, IL. I worked for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers interpretive park ranger.

The next summer came around and I moved in the house and started the internship. I mostly worked at a visitor center that overlooked Lock & Dam #15 on the Mississippi River. I often sat at the front desk answering visitor’s questions, giving talks about why there are dams on the river, and led nature programs. In the winter bald eagles would gather around the base of the dam which made for good birdwatching. And things got pretty exciting there during the Flood of ’93 when I got deployed to Des Moines to ensure emergency sources of water were potable after their water treatment plant got flooded.

The roommate situation seemed to be going all right at first. Bridget was tidy, if not a bit icy. Back then we didn’t have the Internet or cell phones, and communicating with potential dates was done with the shared house phone. I think Bridget must have overheard a conversation I was having with a potential date or something, and talked to the other roommate about it. She brought it up and said that Bridget didn’t want to have me as a housemate because I was gay. As I recall the basis for her problem with me was her religion.

I was 23 at the time, didn’t know my rights, or whether or not I even had any. Plus the icy silence in the house was becoming uncomfortable. I think I tried to talk to Bridget about it, and she started crying. So I moved out, mostly to keep good relations with my original counselor friend. And I didn’t want to live where I wasn’t liked. The first place I moved to was a stark and lonely apartment complex with noisy neighbors where I didn’t get a lot of sleep. Then I moved to a somewhat better shared housing situation with a friend of the (nicer) roommate until the end of my internship.

Throughout my time in Rock Island I didn’t meet many other people and I think it was an overall lonely time in my life. And the experience of getting iced out of my first housing situation for being gay gave me some lasting anxiety about living where there are few other gays. It’s probably a basis of my initial evaluation for moving to DC – a larger city with a sizable gay population where people are more tolerant of gays. My experience wasn’t unique, which is a big reason why most gays flock to larger cities. Things are changing fast, but in some parts of the country attitudes haven’t changed much.

Getting kicked out of a house, losing a job, or being denied any kind of service for who you are is a shitty feeling. There are all kinds of religions, and even more types of convictions depending on what branch of religion you’re involved with. So these laws being proposed in several states open the door for legally denying many kinds of people for many reasons. I’m aware that they probably won’t be successful, but for those who could be turned away in these states I know from experience that it’s an unpleasant feeling at best.

Brad Davis in "Midnight Express"“Do you have a criminal record?”

It was probably the “Umm…” that first set off the Canadian border security guard who was screening my passport and me. That was my first mistake.

It was late when my Bolt Bus arrived at the Canada/U.S. border just shy of Vancouver, British Columbia. I had planned to visit a friend and his partner for a long weekend getaway on Bowen Island. Our bus had some mechanical difficulties along the way making an already long journey from Portland even longer. So I was tired and ready to get to my destination, not really focused on the questioning from the border guard. I’d gone through customs before in many other countries and not had any problem, and I don’t have a criminal record. So while my attitude may have been perceived as laissez-faire, it was far from flippant. But his series of questions and what I answered would keep me from crossing over into Canada.

I presented my passport and Oregon drivers’ license, and a return ticket. Then he asked me how much money I was carrying. I said I had $80, and that my host was paying for the ferry ticket to Bowen and making meals. He asked me incredulously if I thought I had enough money and I resisted the urge to say, “Don’t they have ATMs in Canada?” But I knew I was under scrutiny and kept my mouth shut.

Then he asked me what my line of work was. “I’m currently unemployed.” I should have lied, as proof of employment is listed under “Additional Documentation Which May Be Helpful” in the fact sheet shown at left that the guard handed to me. Highlighting is his own, click to embiggen. I was also unable to produce proof of current residence since I had just moved. And honestly I didn’t think of bringing proof of anything since I was just on a simple weekend getaway. These criteria are what Canadian border security can use to keep you out of the country if they think you’re running the border to find work in Canada.

Would I work in Canada? Sure, living in Vancouver would be fabulous, but that wasn’t my intention and I never mentioned anything of the sort to make him suspicious. Plus my host in Vancouver mentioned many times that government jobs in Canada are just as scarce as they are in the US these days. But apparently suspicion of shiftlessness is grounds for rejection at the border.

It was about 11pm when I watched the Bolt Bus roll away as the guard looked up my files. No alerts, no criminal records were found. Then they took me to be searched, although strangely not as thoroughly as I’ve been searched at airports in DC. The guard was kinda hot but I didn’t get frisked, which was unfortunate. I had mentioned I was going to do some birdwatching as well, but they still freaked when they found my binoculars. “Do you always carry binoculars?” “Yes, I’m a birdwatcher.” When he removed my binoculars from my luggage and found my Peterson Field Guide to Western Birds underneath he said, “Oh.”

I was then escorted on foot to the U.S. Customs office where I went through more processing, albeit more politely. After that was done I asked where the nearest hotel was, and my guard mentioned it was not far away. He also said that Bolt Bus honors returned tickets of those marooned in the area and that I could catch one the next morning.

Bubblegum Wall

At the Bubblegum Wall near Pike Place Market in Seattle.

The motel was totally gross. “Do you have nonsmoking rooms?” No, he answered, and my room reeked. I hoped the tobacco stench and tar remnants on the wall and furniture would keep bedbugs away at least. There were holes in the wall and globs of hair in the tub. But I slept a bit and was up early the next day. I managed to catch a Greyhound that morning by slipping the driver some cash. I wasn’t in the mood to wait for the next Bolt Bus as I didn’t know when the next one would come through, and was happy to pay a little extra under the table to get the hell out of there.

I had a friend who was happy to host me in Seattle and recovered what was left of my trip. I went downtown and to Pike Place Market for a bit, then out to Diesel and Pony that evening with a friend from Portland for a few beers. I got on another Bolt Bus back to Portland the next day as I was tired from lack of sleep and wanted to be back to my “own” bed. I will wait to visit Canada another day when I have proof of employment and current address.

Should the Canadian government read this post and feel remorse for their lack of hospitality and beg my forgiveness, here are my demands:

  • A personal escort across the border by Ryan Reynolds, dressed as a Canadian Mountie.
  • A life-size replica of a Stargate.
  • A Battlestar Galactica Colonial Viper Pilot jacket, autographed (on the inside) by Jamie Bamber.

Oh hey it’s been a while. I moved and am now a housecub. I’m mostly settled, the new place is lovely, has no cats, and I get to have a garden plot. I’ve already planted acorn squash but have no idea how they’ll do in Oregon. This is a completely different growing scene than what I’m used to. I’m going to try potatoes for the first time as well.

I went to see my brother graduate from his nursing program, and of course I had to stop at Bonneville Dam to see more LAMPREYS!
They’re gross but cool in a way. Lamprey Pride.

It was Pride weekend here in Portland. I had fun! Because there’s a parade and a festival with cotton candy and I saw a bunch of people I got to catch up with. Of course it’s the season for dissent against Pride festivals for a few. This year’s article written by an angertwink is again about how we don’t need Pride celebrations. But it doesn’t speak for the majority of people who somehow manage to have fun at Pride.

This year I marched with the organization I’ve been volunteering with. The organization provides housing, medical services, and skills training to help homeless youth get off the street and back on their feet. Many of these youth are LGBT who were kicked out of their homes for being gay. Because that still happens even though some angertwinks still think we don’t need Pride celebrations. Anyway, a couple of heterosexual coworkers/allies brought their kids, dressed them up as small unicorns and put rainbow stuff all over their kiddie bikes and they all had a blast. I saw from pictures from DC Pride that a few straight allies marched with the Renegades to wave some rainbow flags and they also had fun. Perhaps we can learn from heterosexuals in these trying times: you should have fun at parades. It’s OK to have fun. And if you don’t think you’ll have fun then stay home.

I just applied for a scholarship to the Netroots Nation progressive blogger gathering in San Jose, California. There is an LGBT portion of the summit frequented by the likes of Joe.My.God, and I’ve always wanted to go. And I umm…have a lot of free time lately so it would be a good use of my time, and keep me up on my blogging and social media skillz. And for the record, in addition to Crazy Cat Lady posts I do have a political section on this here blog. And how many of you readers were inspired to check out LGBT inclusive sports after reading about my gay rugby adventures? This is stuff I want to continue to do – often for you – and will also help me in whatever career I end up with if I ever get a job again.

So here’s an opportunity for you to help out. Vote for me here. I’m one of 110 or so other applicants for a scholarship that will cover registration costs and lodging. I can foot the airfare. While I doubt I’ll get 900+ votes to get into the top 5 before the May 7 deadline, it would be nice to see my ballot get bumped up from the bottom of the pack.

Otherwise, 30 of the applicants will get chosen for a scholarship after the voting contest. I think I wrote a good application so we’ll see what happens. Although if you all spent your slow Friday and Monday at work voting for me and I got over 900 votes, my head (and heart) will explode.