Rolling power outages and the Super Bowl

HARDY HABERMAN  |  Dungeon Diary

The Electric Reliability Council of Texas, or ERCOT, mandated rolling power outages to reduce demand during peak periods, at least that was the story. These lovely folks gave no warning, they just started cutting power.

Now comes word that critical services did not get cut — hospitals and emergency services, and the stadium in Arlington. Say what? Yup, DART riders got stranded as power to critical signaling devices was cut, hotel guests were stuck in dark elevators and stairwells, disabled people were stuck in their homes in the dark, but Jerry Frigging Jones and his stadium had all the power they needed. God forbid football gets delayed!

So what the hell does the Super Bowl have that that you and I don’t? Apparently cutting power would be a security risk. That is the lame story anyway.

So finally Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst gave us the real answer. Cold weather knocked out about 50 of the 550 power plants in Texas and there also was an increase in demand.

“Lack of adequate winterization and preparation appear to be a major cause of the outages,” he said in a statement. “This is unusually cold weather for Texas, but we obviously need to ensure that we are adequately prepared. That’s why we will continue to work with state agencies and energy providers to find out where problems occurred and how to prevent them in the future.”

So it comes down the the magic Genni of deregulation. Companies bent on squeezing every penny from their investments didn’t have a plan in place for cold weather. Lovely! Instead of buying power from other grids, they just force their problem on the state’s citizens. Meanwhile practice in the stadium goes on as planned.

We can all sleep more soundly, albeit more chilly with the power out, that football will still be played on Sunday. Thank God!

—  admin

Who is really guilty?

It’s time for all of us to take responsibility for helping create a climate of violence and hate

HARDY HABERMAN | Flagging Left

I am guilty — guilty of seeing a connection between the rabble-rousing rhetoric of Sarah Palin, Glenn Beck and others as a catalyst for the actions of a twisted Arizona man.

Guilty of sensing the tragic and outrageous events in Tucson as some kind of clarion call.

Guilty of hoping the tone of political discussion in this country might in some way be softened by the senseless murders and injuries caused by a man with a gun.

Guilty of thinking to myself these words, “See, now look at what you have done!”

Yet my confession does nothing to ease the pain and suffering of those in Arizona. The families of the murdered political aide, the innocent girl, the elderly couples will still grieve, and the husbands, wives and lovers of the injured will still worry and spend sleepless nights at hospital bedsides.

Like so many others, I long to make sense of the events in Arizona by casting about for someone to blame and until the man who committed the murders confesses, I will have no proof. The reason is locked in his mind, and all the pundits and psychologists and TV talking heads cannot know the real answer.

I am guilty of trying to figure that out as well.

It’s natural to look for reasons for unreasonable acts. It is what makes us human, our desire to somehow connect the dots and make sense of what happens around us and to us.

Unfortunately, doing that can lead to wrong conclusions. Less fortunate still is the desire to use inexplicable events as an excuse to further our personal agenda.

I could easily point to Sarah Palin’s website with the now infamous “bull’s-eye map” and ask, “How is that not a direct call to action for every mentally unstable person with a firearm?”

I could point to the Tea Party and their signs reading “Bury Obamacare with Kennedy,” and ask, “How is that kind of jingoism not a call to violence?”

I could point to the YouTube videos of the accused shooter who ranted about “There’s no flag in the constitution. Therefore, the flag in the film is unknown. Burn every new and old flag that you see.”

I could point to those videos and ask how could he not be a deranged anti-government mad man?

I could point to the pundits and commentators and politicians who have jumped to conclusions they fear are the truth.
More telling about this whole event is the number and direction of the finger-pointing — not just by me, but by people on both the right and the left.

Most of those fingers point to the vehemence of the rhetoric and what passes for political discourse. When the Pima County Sheriff spoke of Tucson being Tombstone, the metaphor was not lost on many.

The fact that Sarah Palin’s staff removed the “bull’s-eye map” only minutes after the shootings, the fact that politicians told their staffs to be more vigilant and aware of possible threats, the fact that commentators on both sides jumped to the conclusions about the “tone of the discussion” may hold an answer.

Whatever the reason Jared Lee Loughner may have had for opening fire at point-blank range on Congresswoman Giffords, the act gave substance to what so many have feared.

All the talk and ranting and chanting could erupt into violence, that is the biggest fear, even of those using the harsh language.

It makes for great visuals to whip a crowd into a frenzy, but beyond the visuals, it creates a force that can take on a life of its own — the “mob.”

And though it might not operate en-masse, mob mentality can still push individuals to violent acts.

That’s why everyone from John McCain to President Obama are urging calm. That’s why it’s time to do a bit of soul searching. That’s why it’s time to retract those pointing fingers and start examining our own actions.

Sadly, not everyone will heed the call. Already, irresponsible voices are screaming on radio and TV, looking to exploit the still-fluid situation and the fog of facts.

Already, the sad cult led by Fred Phelps is heading to Tucson to wave inflammatory signs lauding God’s vengeance for the murders and blaming America’s acceptance of homosexuals for the crimes.

And once again I find myself guilty of trying to find someone or something to be the target of my anger and grief.

I only hope that my sincere belief in the power of peace will be greater than my baser instincts. My desire to hope is stronger than my surrender to despair. My passing reaction to hate will not succumb to my instinct to love.

Hardy Haberman is a longtime local LGBT activist and a member of Stonewall Democrats of Dallas. His blog is at http://dungeondiary.blogspot.com.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition Jan. 14, 2011.

—  John Wright

2011 was (will be?) one heck of a year!

Hardy Haberman Flagging Left

On New Year’s Eve, I sent out a “tweet” wishing everyone a Happy New Year and a “none too fond goodbye to 2011.” It only took a few moments before I was reminded that 2011 had not even started.

So, in the spirit of the strange time warp I somehow fell into, here is my “look back” on 2011.

It was quite a year, especially in LGBT politics. Even though the U.S. House of Representatives was dominated by Republicans, Congress still managed to move a modified version of the Employment Nondiscrimination Act (ENDA) through. And after a few changes in the Senate, it was signed into law by the president.

The main provisions concerned religious organizations, and they were allowed to continue to be as bigoted as they want without government interference.

Meanwhile on the local scene, at least three openly gay candidates announced plans to run for judicial and city council positions. Most notable was activist and radio personality Jesse Garcia, who announced his run for mayor.

Nationally, the field of candidates for the 2012 presidential race narrowed when Sarah Palin announced she was ending her political career to focus on yet another reality TV show, “Real Housewives of Wasilla.”

Her daughter, Bristol, will headline her own dance review in Las Vegas next year at the new trailer park-themed hotel opening on the famous strip.

No word yet as to whether Levi Johnston will co-star.

Additionally this year, in a bold move, the LGBT conservative group GOProud changed their name to GOAway following yet another rejection by the Republican Party national convention as well as the Conservative Political Action Conference, which barred the group from attending its functions. A spokesperson for the group called the move, “a more rational way of stating the real agenda of the Republican Party while maintaining our group’s identity as supporting conservative values.”

In other LGBT news, another dozen homophobic evangelical pastors have been added to the growing list of “outed clergy.” It has been a bad year for closeted clergy since the escort web site “RightWingRentBoys.com” had their records released through WikiLeaks.

On the West Coast, since Prop 8 was overturned by the high court, LGBT couples are flocking to romantic wedding chapels in the Golden State. The boom in business has started a whole new honeymoon destination travel trend, as gay-themed resorts are cashing in on the influx of business.

The “Beary Marry Honeymoon” package from one Russian River resort offers a woodland wedding with party-sized “Bear Soup” hot tubs.

Though our state naturally lags behind, the Texas Legislature did manage to pass a civil union law awarding same-sex couples most of the rights of married couples.

Though the governor’s office denies any influence in the matter, most people assume the passage was a result of behind-the-scene bargaining and perhaps downright blackmail in a matter of a male escort who has yet to be named.

In tech news, the announcement late in the year of a public offering for Grindr has the stock market salivating. Many experts expect the smart phone app will exceed Facebook in revenues in the coming IPO.

The company got an extra boost after the heterosexual version was released last fall.

The publishing industry was rocked this year by the closure of the Dallas Morning News. Most media experts believe the publication’s ultra-conservative editorial policy and resistance to change was instrumental in the venerable institution’s demise.

Though it leaves Dallas without a major newspaper, niche publications like the Dallas Voice and Dallas Observer have seen circulation grow in both their online and print editions.

So as I bid a fond farewell to 2011, I just want to thank everyone who has written in complimenting me on my insightful and enjoyable columns over the past year.

Ok, well so much for fantasy! Now, I wonder if anyone will save this and see how close I came with my predictions?

Hardy Haberman is a longtime local LGBT activist and a member of Stonewall Democrats of Dallas. His blog is at http://dungeondiary.blogspot.com.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition January 7, 2011.

—  Kevin Thomas

Will we let our gay language die off?

Polari — a mixture of Italian, Romany and Yiddish with some backward-spelled English sprinkled in — is a unique piece of the history of LGBT culture

Hardy Haberman Flagging Left

CAMP
DOLLY OMI PALONES | The Austin Babtist Women know how to camp it up. Have you ever told someone about the “campy” drag show you saw at the club? Or maybe you recommended that “butch” lesbian mechanic who did such a great job repairing your car? If so, then you have spoken Polari.

It almost knocked my ogle fakes off my eek when I aunt nelled that the bona omis and palones at Cambridge University reported Polari was in danger of dying out. Without Polari, cackle about that fantabulosa trade you vardered — you know. the omi with the vogue in his screech and the bona basket? — would never be the same.

Before you go blaming the editor for that previous unintelligible paragraph, I assure you it was mostly proper English with a smattering of Polari sprinkled in to make it understandable only by those in the know.

Polari (from the Italian parlare, “to talk”) is an old slang language that was used by actors, circus and carnival folk and the gay subculture of Brittain. It comes from a strange mix of Italian, Romany and Yiddish, with a few odd backward-spelled words added here and there.

Though it started in England, many words color the vernacular still used today in our own LGBT culture.

The term “camp” is Polari for “exaggerated.” Our expression “rough trade” also descends from this slang.

It was a colorful way for gay people to communicate without being overheard in potentially unfriendly surroundings.

But why should I care if this archaic slang dies out or not? Well, Polari is part of our heritage, every bit as much as the Stonewall Riots and Harvey Milk.

Next time you hear someone use the terms “chicken” for a younger man, or “butch” for a masculine woman or man, they are using elements of Polari. If you have ever admired a “basket” or “zhooshed” your hair, you are using remnants of that near-dead language that have seeped into our daily lexicon.

It might seem like a small thing, but I find myself fascinated with it and feel the LGBT community and culture will be a little poorer if it fades away.

So in the interest of proving the linguists at Cambridge University wrong, I offer a compiled list of useful Polari words:

Ajax — close by
Aunt nells — ears
Auntie nelly fakes — earrings
Basket — the bulge of a man’s crotch
Batts — shoes
Bijou — small
Bod — body
Bona — good
Bungery — bar, pub
Butch — masculine
Camp — effeminate or exaggerated
Capello — hat
Carsey — toilet
Chicken — young boy
Charpering omi — policeman
Cottage — public restroom
Cottaging — do the math!
Crimper — hairdresser
Cove — friend
Dish — attractive male backside
Dolly — pretty, pleasant
Drag — clothes, esp. women’s clothes
Eek — face (abbreviation of ecaf which is face backwards)
Feele — young
Feele omi — young man
Naff — bad
Ogle — eye
Ogle fakes — Glasses
Omi — man
Omi palone — effeminate man
Palone — woman
Palare — to talk
Riah — hair (backwards)
Slap — makeup
Troll — walk or wander or cruise
Vada — to walk or wander
Vogue — cigarette
Walloper — dancer
Zhoosh — fix or tidy up.

Now go out and troll off to some bona bijou bungery and palare with your coves.

If you are interested in more details on Polari, check out Paul Baker’s book, Fantabulosa: A Dictionary of Polari and Gay Slang.

Hardy Haberman is a longtime local LGBT activist and a member of Stonewall Democrats of Dallas. His blog is at http://dungeondiary.blogspot.com.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition December 17, 2010.

—  Kevin Thomas

A subsidy for millionaires disguised as tax cuts

Hardy Haberman  |  Dungeon Diary

So even as the Republicans are spouting blather about deficits, they are behind the extension of the immensely expensive subsidy for millionaires that has come to be called the Bush Tax Cuts. The Democrats have relented in opposing these because the GOP held unemployment benefits hostage until the subsidies were extended.

Meanwhile Republicans will rail about spending and deficits while creating an even bigger hole to dig out of. I sincerely expect they are planning to get the nation so deeply in debt that the only way out will be to cut all Social Security and Medicare to make ends meet. The GOP is relentless and they will do anything to get their way, and they hate both programs, even though the American people love and need them.

The GOP is a party of the rich, by the rich and for the rich and don’t believe them when they say anything different. They will talk about class warfare and how bad it is, but they have already won the class war. All of us are working and paying taxes to support the wealthy of this country, and it’s getting worse.

Meanwhile the Democrats try to reason and negotiate with the Republicans. It hasn’t worked in the past decade why should it work now?

—  admin

Does U.N. vote mean dark days ahead ?

With a simple majority vote of 9 countries, LGBT people are removed from category of ‘vulnerable populations,’ left exposed to arbitrary execution

Hardy Haberman Flagging Left

The United Nations recently took a vote and with a simple majority of just nine countries, they removed LGBT people from the special protections category of “vulnerable populations.” That category specifically mentions special protection from extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary execution.

What does this mean? Well, according to the U.N., we are no longer considered worthy of protection against arbitrary execution. In other words, it’s open season on LGBT people in a whole lot of countries.

It is important to note who voted against us: The Russian Federation, China, Rwanda, Uganda and Burundi plus a host of Middle Eastern countries joined the majority to remove us from that list.

In the case of the African nations, I cannot fail to mention that the radical right, especially the far-right ministers in this country, have been a big influence. If you will remember, the draconian anti-gay laws in Uganda were in part encouraged by religious groups from the U.S.

Cary Alan Johnson, executive director of the International Gay And Lesbian Human Rights Commission, said, “This vote is a dangerous and disturbing development. It essentially removes the important recognition of the particular vulnerability faced by lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people — a recognition that is crucial at a time when 76 countries around the world criminalize homosexuality, five consider it a capital crime and countries like Uganda are considering adding the death penalty to their laws criminalizing homosexuality.”

Essentially, the vote takes away any power the U.N. might have to protect the lives of LGBT people.

The vote has sent shock waves through the international LGBT community but seems to have had little traction herein the U.S. I suspect that is because much of what the U.N. does is considered unimportant by many Americans.

It’s sad that this body, where crimes against LGBT people have routinely been condemned, has now decided to become silent.

It should be noted who voted to remove LGBT people from this protected group. The list may surprise you:

Afghanistan, Algeria, Angola, Azerbaijan, Bahamas, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Belize, Benin, Botswana, Brunei Dar-Sala, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, China, Comoros, Congo, Cote d’Ivoire, Cuba, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Democratic Republic of Congo, Djibouti, Egypt, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Ghana, Grenada, Guyana, Haiti, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Jamaica, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Kuwait, Lebanon, Lesotho, Liberia, Libya, Madagascar, Malawi, Malaysia, Maldives, Mali, Morocco, Mozambique, Myanmar, Namibia, Niger, Nigeria, Oman, Pakistan, Qatar, Russian Federation, Rwanda, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and Grenadines, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Somalia, South Africa, Sudan, Suriname, Swaziland, Syrian Arab Republic, Tajikistan, Tunisia, Uganda, United Arab Emirates, United Republic of Tanzania, Uzbekistan, Viet Nam, Yemen, Zambia, Zimbabwe.

Two nations that really disturb me are Iraq and Afghanistan. I have been an ardent opponent to the wars the Bush administration started there, and now I have even more reason to hope for a speedy end to our involvement.

Many of the names on this list are “most favored nations,” as far as trade with the U.S., and one in particular is most disturbing since it already grants full rights to LGBT people: South Africa.

I can only hope they did not understand the gravity of what they were signing, but I suspect it may signal a new and more repressive future for the African nation that held the most promise.

My suspicion is that the nation of Benin, which brought the matter up on behalf of the African Nations Group, is planning something dark. I would not be surprised to see a whole new raft of severe laws against LGBT people in these African nations.

It looks like very dark times ahead for LGBT people in Africa and the Middle East. I pray I am wrong.

Hardy Haberman is a longtime local LGBT activist and a member of Stonewall Democrats of Dallas. His blog is at http://dungeondiary.blogspot.com.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition December 3, 2010.

—  Michael Stephens

Texas hops on the Crazy Train again

Leo Berman

Hardy Haberman |  Dungeon Diary

Just when you think sanity might have been restored, the delightful Texas State Rep. Leo Berman, R-Tyler, has introduced a “birther” bill in the Texas Legislature. Berman is the same representative who was famously quoted as saying, “Barack Obama is God’s punishment on us.”

Now easy as it would be to just paint this guy with the broad brush and call him “frigging nuts,” he represents a real problem in this state and pretty much most of the U.S. For a long time the Democratic Party has believed that reason and facts would win the day. If there were ever an argument against that, the last election cycle would be it. That little debacle for the Dems was won not by reason but by emotion. Mostly it was fear and bigotry. Fear stoked by the economic situation many American’s find themselves in and bigotry disguised as the “Tea Party.” The whole “take America back” thing is about having a black man in the White House. Every other argument is predicated on that unspoken premise and a closer examination of their rhetoric will reveal it.

So, meanwhile the Dems keep relying on reason. How has that worked so far? Not at all.

The whole birther thing is a racially charged non-issue anyway, but don’t let reason get in the way of some good old fashioned fear. Even though the Obama birth certificate has been widely circulated and there is more than ample proof of his citizenship, the birthers persist. Why, because it is a good excuse to scare people and to tap into that old bigorty thing again.

So while I could just call Rep. Berman wacko, I will instead call him what he is, a politician who knows how to whip up his constituents with the most powerful tools in the GOP arsenal.

—  admin

Cooking up some lame duck soup

Can the Democrats use the lame-duck session to make good on all their promises to the LGBT community? If not, then maybe we should start looking for candidates who will keep their promises

Hardy Haberman | Flagging Left

Do you hear that quacking sound? Nope it’s not the AFLAC duck, but a lame-duck Congress.

During this session, members who have been ousted can take their parting shots and actually try to do some of the things they promised before the previous election.

You would think that would be as easy as duck soup. Heck, what have they got to lose?

Well, that remains to be seen. When Congress returns on Monday, Nov. 15, they will have a lot of work to do. Much of it is related to spending. During the last session, not a single spending measure passed — which means that if the government is not going to shut down, a stop-gap measure will have to be enacted.
Then there is the matter of those Bush-era tax cuts that are set to expire. These affect mainly the wealthiest Americans, and you can bet the GOP won’t let these die without a fight.

The Democrats have a stake in it as well. There was a token: The $1,000-per-child tax credit that would be pared down to $500 and some relief on the “marriage penalty” that will make this a tough pill to swallow for the left.

On the health care front, there is a provision on Medicare that cuts what doctors are paid by 23 percent. That most likely will have to be fixed.

And on the Social Security front, there is a proposed one-time $250 payment to some seniors who didn’t get a cost-of-living adjustment this year. That measure didn’t fly in the previous session, and there is no telling what will happen to it now.

There is lots of unfinished business that was put on hold prior to the election when both parties were afraid to do anything that could be used as ammunition against them during the campaigns. Now the big question is, will Congress actually get down to business and do their job?

Your guess is a good as mine.

And then there is the “elephant in the room,” or more appropriately the “donkey in the room.”

That mythic creature consists of the LGBT issues that are still just empty promises. DADT, an unjust policy that even Defense Secretary Robert Gates wants repealed, may or may not get addressed, much less the Defense of Marriage Act or the Employment Non-Discrimination Act.

Though some progress has been made on the human rights front, LGBT citizens are still second-class when it comes to employment discrimination, marriage and serving in the military.

Wouldn’t it be a wonderful thing if the politicians put away their rhetoric and actually looked at the inequity caused by this institutionalized discrimination?
Wouldn’t it be nice if the president used some of his remaining political capital to actually push the reluctant Democrats to do the right thing?

So far, even though President Barack Obama has repeatedly said DADT will be ended “on his watch,” there doesn’t seem to be any effort beyond rhetoric toward this end. I am beginning to doubt whether he or Congress has the political will (read “balls”) to pick up the LGBT hot potato.

After expending so much energy on enacting health care reforms, and being incredibly unsuccessful in framing the issue before the GOP dubbed it “Obama Care,” I don’t know if any further measures will happen.

Now, we have to rely on the remaining Democrats and those who have lost their seats to use the brief time of this lame-duck session to take up our cause, when they have a whole year’s worth of bills log-jammed in Congress. Since many of these representatives are not coming back to Washington after Jan. 1, our leverage with them is limited.

What can we do? Well, aside from the fantasy of the GOP suddenly deciding to turn gay-friendly, something that would blunt one of the most effective weapons in their arsenal of fear-based tactics, we might do well to punt.

Punting in this case means trying some unorthodox tactics.

Though I am loathe to say it, that might include more lawsuits like the Log Cabin Republicans tried against DADT. While I am still a bit suspect of their real agenda, which I believe was to embarrass the Obama Administration, at least it’s a shot.

Left-wing LGBT groups are going after the Defense of Marriage Act at a national level with lawsuits. This tactic will likely hit the brick wall of the Bush-era-packed Supreme Court, but it’s worth a shot.

Frankly, I am tired of being patient, and if the lame-duck Congress doesn’t deliver on its many promises to the LGBT community, then we might have to start finding new candidates who are actually socially liberal.

Unfortunately, that will be a much tougher recipe than duck soup.

Hardy Haberman is a longtime local LGBT activist and a member of Stonewall Democrats of Dallas. His blog is at http://dungeondiary.blogspot.com.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition November 12, 2010.

—  Michael Stephens

Boycott Glenn Beck and make a real difference

OK, I am lukewarm about the Target boycott. I have spoken about this before and won’t go into it again here, but this is a boycott that can really have a sweeping effect. I am talking about Glenn Beck.

This demagogue is spewing hate, not even candy-coated hate, just plain vile raw hatred. He does wrap it in he alleged message of “restoring honor” but everyone knows his meaning: Get America back into the hands of white conservative Christians.

So, what to do? Read this and then click the link and get involved.

Glenn Beck doesn’t just poison the airwaves with hatred. His hatred actually incites violence and murder.

• On 7/18/10, Beck inspired a gunman to attack the little-known Tides Foundation, after demonizing them for 18 months. The gunman got into a massive shootout with police and wounded two of them.

• On 4/4/09, Richard Poplawski murdered 3 Pittsburgh policemen after posting Beck videos on a neo-Nazi website.

• On 4/9/09, Beck poured “gasoline” on an “average American” and asked, “President Obama, why don’t you just set us on fire?”

• On 8/16/09, Glenn Beck dramatized giving Speaker Pelosi a glass of wine with poison.

Join over 60,000 progressive activists who are boycotting Fox News advertisers: http://www.democrats.com/boycott-fox-news-advertisers

Our boycott of Fox News advertisers is having a huge impact — over 200 advertisers have pulled their ads from Beck’s show. No sane company wants to destroy its brand through association with Glenn Beck’s hate.

— Hardy Haberman, Dungeon Diary

—  John Wright

Happy Birthday, Hardy Haberman!


Hardy Haberman, the longtime local gay activist who writes the Flagging Left column for Dallas Voice’s Viewpoints page and maintains the Dungeon Diary blog, is celebrating his birthday today.

We haven’t asked Hardy how old he is, but we did request permission to honor him by sharing two successive Tweets he sent out last week.

The first one caught our attention only because while we inferred that DFW Bound is some sort of leather group, we weren’t familiar with the abbreviation CBT, which as it turns out stands for “cock and ball torture.”

Having learned that, the second Tweet made us slightly uneasy, and in between giggles, we’re still trying to imagine what exactly he was picking up.

Then again, this is why we love Hardy — because he’s an out-and-proud leatherman and kink expert — and Christian, BTW — who isn’t ashamed of his sexuality. So here goes:

—  John Wright