Texas: A not-so-great state

As Perry eyes the presidency and Dewhurst makes a bid for the Senate, let’s look at the story the numbers really tell

Phyllis Guest | Taking NoteGuest.Phyllis.2

It seems that while David Dewhurst is running for the U.S. Senate, Rick Perry — otherwise known as Gov. Goodhair — is planning to run for president. I wonder what numbers they will use to show how well they have run Texas.

Could they cite $16 million? That’s the sum Perry distributed from our state’s Emerging Technology Fund to his campaign contributors.

Or maybe it is $4.1 billion. That’s the best estimate of the fees and taxes our state collects for dedicated purposes — but diverts to other uses.

Then again, it could be $28 billion. That’s the last published number for the state’s budget deficit, although Perry denied any deficit during his last campaign.

But let’s not get bogged down with dollar amounts. Let’s consider some of the state’s other numbers.

There’s the fact that Texas ranks worst in at least three key measures:

We are the most illiterate, with more than 10 percent of our state’s population unable to read a word. LIFT — Literacy Instruction for Texas — recently reported that half of Dallas residents cannot read a newspaper.

We also have the lowest percentage of persons covered by health insurance and the highest number of teenage repeat pregnancies.

Not to mention that 12,000 children have spent at least three years in the state welfare system, waiting for a foster parent. That’s the number reported in the Texas-loving Dallas Morning News.

Meanwhile, the Legislature has agreed to put several amendments to the Texas Constitution before the voters. HJR 63, HJR 109 plus SJR 4, SJR 16, and SJR 50 all appear to either authorize the shifting of discretionary funds or the issuance of bonds to cover expenses.

Duh. As if we did not know that bonds represent debt, and that we will be paying interest on those bonds long after Dewhurst and Perry leave office.

Further, this spring, the Lege decided that all voters — except, I believe, the elderly — must show proof of citizenship to obtain a state ID or to get or renew a driver’s license. As they did not provide any funds for the issuance of those ID cards or for updating computer systems to accommodate the new requirement, it seems those IDs will be far from free.

Also far from free is Perry’s travel. The Lege decided that the governor does not have to report what he and his entourage spend on travel, which is convenient for him because we taxpayers foot the bill for his security — even when he is making obviously political trips. Or taking along his wife and his golf clubs.

And surely neither Rick Perry nor David Dewhurst will mention the fact that a big portion of our state’s money comes from the federal government. One report I saw stated that our state received $17 billion in stimulus money, although the gov and his lieutenant berated the Democratic president for providing the stimulus.

And the gov turned down $6 billion in education funds, then accepted the funds but did not use them to educate Texans.

The whole thing — Dewhurst’s campaign and Perry’s possible campaign, the 2012-2013 budget, the recent biannual session of the Texas Legislature — seems like something Mark Twain might have written at his tongue-in-cheek best.

We have huge problems in public school education, higher education, health care, air pollution and water resources, to mention just a few of our more notable failures.

Yet our elected officials are defunding public education and thus punishing children, parents, and teachers. They are limiting women’s health care so drastically that our own Parkland Hospital will be unable to provide appropriate care to 30,000 women.

They are seeking a Medicaid “pilot program” that will pave the way for privatized medical services, which will erode health care for all but the wealthiest among us. They are fighting tooth and nail to keep the EPA from dealing with our polluted environment. They are doing absolutely nothing to ensure that Texas continues to have plenty of safe drinking water.

They are most certainly not creating good jobs.

So David Dewhurst and his wife Tricia prayed together and apparently learned that he should run for Kay Bailey Hutchison’s Senate seat. Now Rick Perry is planning a huge prayer rally Saturday, Aug. 6, at Houston’s Reliant Stadium.

God help us.

Phyllis Guest is a longtime activist on political and LGBT issues and a member of Stonewall Democrats of Dallas.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition August 9, 2011.

—  Kevin Thomas

The lost art of cruising

‘Electro-tricks’ may be quicker and easier, but half the fun of the hook-up was working at it

Hardy Haberman | Flagging Left

I don’t get out much — at least to the bars. First of all I don’t drink anymore, and second, I am not really looking to hook up with anyone since I am in a very nice relationship.

I do, however, occasionally meet friends out for the evening or for a special event.

When I do go out, it is most often to our local leather bar, the Dallas Eagle, and I often indulge in a little people watching. I like to watch the crowd, the way people interact with one another, the ebb and flow of what was once a favorite past time of gay men: cruising.

What surprised me was the lack of that particular gay art going on.

First, let me say this is not a reflection on the Eagle; it’s a fine, first-class leather bar. What I noticed is something I have seen in other cities as well, and it bothers me a bit.

Now for those who might not know, cruising is a delicate dance men used to perform when looking for a partner, playmate or just trick du jour. It usually began with some long, slow looks, occasional subtle signals like a nod, the touch of the brim of a cap, a purposeful second glance or even just a slight change in body language.

If two people read the signals, and actually respond, it might proceed to sending over a drink — or a more direct approach. Often before actually making contact, you would ask a few friends if they knew the man in question, and for the leather scene that would also entail asking if anyone knew more intimate details: Was he a safe player? What was he into?

Of course, we also had the hanky code. It was a more direct and cut to the chase way to let folks know what you were seeking.

I won’t go into the details here, but the basics were: Hanky in the left pocket meant you were a top, and hanky in the right pocket meant you were a bottom.

Still, even with outward signs, there was an art to the whole endeavor. If done correctly, it had an element of seduction in it and all the sexual energy that went with it.

Sadly, I don’t see much of that going on anymore.

What I do see is guys checking their smart phones. Looking a little closer, I see them using Grindr, checking Recon and texting.

That’s when I realized what happened to cruising: It has gone the way of the dodo.

What was once a face-to-face encounter that actually took some time and energy is now a fast, down-and-dirty, “check a few profiles and text enough contacts until you pull a winning number” routine.

The whole cruising experience has become an electronic booty call with no mystery, no romance and no effort.

Oh yes, it is much more efficient. You can select from the variety of “neck-down pictures” and body statistics, like you were choosing a download on Amazon.

Find Mr. Right or at least Mr. Right Enough for Now, text a few lines, set a time and bingo! Insta-trick!

All very high tech and painless. No face-to-face rejections, no appallingly awkward moments. Just on-line chat and, essentially, “booking.”

It would seem to me that applications like Grindr and sites like Recon and CraigsList have replaced the whole cruising experience, and though it might be much more efficient, it really changes to atmosphere in the bars.

The heady sexual tension that used to permeate gay bars has given way to guys and gals on their smart phones texting or cruising — the web. One bar in Florida even has a screen where patrons can text directly to the screen, sort of a visual “shout out” for all to see.

Inevitably, the whole electro-trick phenomenon has spawned something totally unexpected. My partner commented on the subject of this column and suggested there should be an Angie’s List for Grindr.

I was surprised this morning when, while researching this piece, I found something very much like that.

Douchebagsofgrindr.com may just be a parody, but if not it offers some insight into the whole process. Personally, I find it kind of crass, but then I find the whole “electro-trick-speed-dating-booty-call” app thing crass.

It makes me long for the days of actually having to spend a little time to pursue and attract and seduce someone you were interested in. Try that now and I suspect you’d just get accused of being a stalker.

Hardy Haberman is a longtime local LGBT activist and a board member of the Woodhull Freedom Alliance. His blog is at DungeonDiary.Blogspot.com.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition August 9, 2011.

—  Kevin Thomas

Sue Ellen’s Date Our Gay tonight

Lookin’ for love in all the wrong places

Gay men don’t expect much to find a date at a lesbian club, but tonight that changes. The crew of Sue Ellen’s is auctioning off their one gay member for a date and a good cause. Don’t let the rain get you down, you might end up with a date.

DEETS: Sue Ellen’s, 3014 Throckmorton St. 9 p.m. PartyAtTheBlock.com.

 

—  Rich Lopez

DEATHS: James ‘Kissey’ Olson, James Edward ‘Beaux’ Geer, Ray ‘Alpha Pup’ Witt

James “Kissey” Olson, 62, died at his home in Dallas on March 30 after recently being diagnosed with liver cancer.

Olson was native of Iron River, Mich. After graduating from high school, he served in the U.S. Air Force for six years. He went to work for AT&T, living in Phoeniz, Little Rock and finally Dallas, where he retired.

He had lived in the Dallas area for more than 24 years.

His home here was party central and was always open to his many friends who will miss his and his hospitality.

Olson is survived by his mother, Minnie, and sisters, Ruth and Doris, of Iron River; his brother, Ron, of Milwaukee; his ex-wife, Jo, of Yuma, Az.; his two children, Scott and Amy of Phoenix, and six grandchildren; and his beloved Chihuahua, Moose.

Olson was cremated and his ashes were buried at Iron River. A celebration of his life will be held on the patio at The Hidden Door, 5025 Bowser St., on Saturday, April 30, at 2 p.m.

 

James Edward “Beaux” Geer, 46, died April 13.

Geer worked as a hairdresser with Salon D for 23 years. He was also an artist who founded “Healing Texas through the Arts” to showcase new artists and make their works available to the public.

Geer was truly loved by friends and family, and he had an innocent sweetness of spirit and extraordinary talent that turned everything he touched into a thing of beauty. His paintings provided a view into his soul. He will be profoundly missed by those who knew him and will keep him forever in their hearts.

Geer is survived by his mother and stepfather, Bill and Millie Ritter of Plano; his father, Thomas Geer, Lafayette, La.; his brother Greg “Blackie” Geer, wife Kayce, daughter Typhane and grandson Thor, all of Austin; his best friend and brother-of-the heart, Dale Hall; and a host of other family and friends. Plans are pending for a celebration of life memorial gathering.

 

Ray “Alpha Pup” Witt, 59, died March 30 from an apparent stroke. Witt, loving boy and partner to Daddy Ron Hertz of Dallas and a member of the Dallas leather community, was a former member of Discipline Corps and NLA-Dallas. He held the first International Puppy title presented in 2001, thus becoming the “Alpha Pup.” His gift for storytelling and his warm heart endeared him to many in the community and his presence will be missed.Witt is survived by his partner of 9 ½ years, Ron Hertz of Dallas; his mother, Duluth Witt of Lexington, Ky.; and his canine friend “Mugsy.” A celebration of his life will be held at a later date.

 

—  John Wright

GOProud Member: ‘I Don’t Really Like Gay People’

Hissey
Ebone Bell of Metro Weekly made the rounds at a recent nighttime GOProud event at the CPAC conference where she interviewed members of the conservative group, such as 22-year-old college student Matt Hissey. Aside from declaring his dislike for gay people, Hissey believes that only "straight-acting" gay men are "normal."

"I don't really like gay people that much. Gay people frustrate me, the stereotypical gay people, it frustrates me…someone who puts on a total act. I understand that some guys are feminine, which is fine. But some guys, at some point, are normal, straight-acting, whatever and the next minute they're jumping up and down. It just frustrates me. The whole conservative thing is just be yourself, be an individual and just don't be someone you're not. If someone does or does not accept you, that's fine but don't change who you are to look different to others."

Hissey also wants Sarah Palin to run for president in 2012 because she reminds him of his mom.

His bit about not liking gay people comes in at 1:39 in the video AFTER THE JUMP.


Towleroad News #gay

—  David Taffet

GOProud Member Doesn’t Like Gay People

GOPROUD MATT HISSEY X390A 22-year-old college student attending the CPAC conference with the gay
conservative group GOProud took time out from the event to tell Metro
Weekly he doesn’t much care for gay people and that only “straight
acting” gay people are normal.
Advocate.com: Daily News

—  David Taffet

Too juicy: Audience Member AT CPAC Yells To Cheney ‘You’re A War Criminal’

As a Blender on Facebook said, “whoops… they can’t even screen CPAC-goers for non-Kool-aid-drinkers anymore.”

CBS:


The annual convention has attracted about 11,000 conservatives to the nation’s capital, many of them young supporters of libertarian icon Ron Paul. They were ready this afternoon to show their opposition to the Bush administration when former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld was presented with the conference’s “Defenders of the Constitution” award.

Loud boos resounded through the convention hall as Rumsfeld’s name was announced on stage. The numerous young attendees got up from their seats and filed out of the room in protest.

The commotion only grew when former Vice President Dick Cheney surprised the audience by showing up to honor his longtime friend and White House colleague.

The crowd was on its feet, some cheering “Cheney for president!” The boos from CPAC’s libertarian contigent continued and at times interrupted Cheney’s remarks. “America is stronger and more secure” because of Rumsfeld’s service, Cheney said, prompting one person to loudly shout, “Where’s bin Laden at!”

Pam’s House Blend – Front Page

—  David Taffet

Ontario Catholic school board member compares gay-straight alliances to ‘Nazi groups’

Now she’s denying, a la Rick Warren and the infamous DOMA brief, that she meant to “compare” gay clubs and the Nazis. Then why invoke them at all?




AMERICAblog Gay

—  admin

More Discharged Service Member File Suit in Ninth Circuit

More Discharged Service Member File Suit in Ninth Circuit

Today, three highly decorated service members discharged under “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” (DADT) filed suit in federal district court seeking re-instatement and challenging the constitutionality of DADT.  In their complaint, which was filed before a Ninth Circuit district court in California, the three plaintiffs assert that the military bears the burden of proving that the sexual orientation of each discharged service member had a negative impact on the military.  The complaint states that if the military cannot fulfill this burden, the three plaintiffs should be re-instated in their respective branches and provided credit toward retirement for the period they were unconstitutionally discharged.

A similar argument was asserted before a different Ninth Circuit district court earlier this year in Witt v. Air Force.  The district court in Witt determine that the military failed to prove that Major Margaret Witt’s sexual orientation had a negative impact on the military, and provided for her re-instatement in the Air Force.  Also, occurring only months ago, a different Ninth Circuit district court declared DADT unconstitutional in Log Cabin Republicans v. United States.  The litigation in each of these decisions is ongoing, but illustrates the rise of litigation regarding DADT – particularly in the Ninth Circuit.

Earlier this year, the President expressed his support for repealing DADT and the House passed repeal legislation.  However, only last week, the Senate failed to take action on the Defense Authorization bill, which contained language that would lead to a repeal DADT.  Until Congress moves forward to legislatively repeal DADT, discharged service members are likely to continue to bring suits challenging the constitutionality of DADT and DADT discharges.

HRC applauds plaintiffs Mike Almy, Anthony Loverde, and Jason Knight  for their courage in challenging the DADT law, as well as Servicemembers Legal Defense Network and Morrison & Foerster LLP for filing this suit on behalf of the plaintiffs.


Human Rights Campaign | HRC Back Story

—  admin

More Discharged Service Member File Suit in Ninth Circuit

More Discharged Service Member File Suit in Ninth Circuit

Today, three highly decorated service members discharged under “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” (DADT) filed suit in federal district court seeking re-instatement and challenging the constitutionality of DADT.  In their complaint, which was filed before a Ninth Circuit district court in California, the three plaintiffs assert that the military bears the burden of proving that the sexual orientation of each discharged service member had a negative impact on the military.  The complaint states that if the military cannot fulfill this burden, the three plaintiffs should be re-instated in their respective branches and provided credit toward retirement for the period they were unconstitutionally discharged.

A similar argument was asserted before a different Ninth Circuit district court earlier this year in Witt v. Air Force.  The district court in Witt determine that the military failed to prove that Major Margaret Witt’s sexual orientation had a negative impact on the military, and provided for her re-instatement in the Air Force.  Also, occurring only months ago, a different Ninth Circuit district court declared DADT unconstitutional in Log Cabin Republicans v. United States.  The litigation in each of these decisions is ongoing, but illustrates the rise of litigation regarding DADT – particularly in the Ninth Circuit.

Earlier this year, the President expressed his support for repealing DADT and the House passed repeal legislation.  However, only last week, the Senate failed to take action on the Defense Authorization bill, which contained language that would lead to a repeal DADT.  Until Congress moves forward to legislatively repeal DADT, discharged service members are likely to continue to bring suits challenging the constitutionality of DADT and DADT discharges.

HRC applauds plaintiffs Mike Almy, Anthony Loverde, and Jason Knight  for their courage in challenging the DADT law, as well as Servicemembers Legal Defense Network and Morrison & Foerster LLP for filing this suit on behalf of the plaintiffs.


Human Rights Campaign | HRC Back Story

—  admin