Saturday, September 29, 2012

Understanding Those Who Oppose Gay Marriage

Check out this wonderful five minute video exploring the opposition to gay marriage:

Friday, September 28, 2012

University of Iowa Homecoming Parade 2012!

It's been a long night. The boys and Mark and I spent the evening in downtown Iowa City for the University of Iowa's 100th Homecoming celebration. The big Homecoming parade was fun as always. I'm not sure how we managed it, but we managed to find ourselves standing behind a young gay male couple and their three girls. A few spots down from us was a lesbian couple and their daughters.

Even though he graduated from high school last spring, Leslie is still a member of Best Buddies. Best Buddies is a school organization that matches disabled and non-disabled students in friendship. It's pretty big around Iowa City. Leslie's 9th and 10th grade Buddy did wonders for helping him adjust to high school in ways that neither we nor his teachers would've been able to do. I can't say enough good about the group. Leslie came home with a note telling us he was to report to the Best Buddies spot at 5:30 PM. They had a sign and a bunch of recumbent bikes. He ended up biking his way through the parade route and had a really good time.

Besides the Best Buddies, we got to cheer on Nero's daycare (Lucky Pawz), my gym (Core Fitness), and of course all of the politicians. Dave Loebsack was there along with the Johnson County Democrats. There was a pretty good amount of Republicans marching in the parade, but they were definitely dwarfed in both size and enthusiasm by the Democrats.

We will be playing against Minnesota tomorrow and hopefully will come out victorious against them. Either way, it will be a big party here in Iowa City. Homecoming weekend always is. So have fun, be safe, and enjoy the game tomorrow. Go Hawks!

"Yes Iowa Judges" Tour Concludes in Iowa City

I wrote earlier this week that the Iowa State Bar Association was launching its "Yes Iowa Judges" tour of Iowa to campaign for all of Iowa's justice and judges who are up for retention votes this November. Basically, they were following around Bob Vander Plaats and Iowans for Freedom's "No Wiggins" bus tour. Except today. Today, the Iowa State Bar Association wrapped up its tour in Ames and Iowa City -- two of Iowa's communities that BVP and his allies won't travel near.

According to their schedule, "Yes Iowa Judges" was supposed to meet at the Johnson County Courthouse today at 1:30 PM. So I took off time from work and walked there to find that they had already made their speeches and were packing up their stuff. Which was kind of disappointing, but I got a nice picture of their truck while I was there.

The Press-Citizen was there and reports that about fifty people -- mostly attorneys -- showed up to listen to Christine Branstad speak out in favor of Iowa's judges:
“Turn over your ballot and vote ‘yes,’” said Christine Branstad, a Des Moines attorney and daughter niece of Iowa Governor Terry Branstad.
Apparently, they were hoping to get more college age people at today's event. If they'd wanted that, they should have made arrangements to be closer to downtown and advertised the event more effectively. Still, I'm glad that the Iowa State Bar Association is out there supporting Iowa's judiciary this year and not allowing BVP and his anti-judge/anti-gay family cronies to rule the message or the campaign.

Updated to Add: I guess I should have read the Daily Iowan today. Despite earlier reports that the "Yes Iowa Judges" tour would be at 1:30 PM, it apparently was re-scheduled for 1:00 PM today. Please excuse me while I wipe egg from my face...

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Why Is Louisiana's Governor in Iowa Over a Local Campaign Issue?

Iowans for Freedom wrapped up their "No Wiggins" bus tour today. I don't know who exactly they had traveling with them today, but yesterday Iowa voters were treated to a visit by the governor. The governor wants you to know that there is an Iowa Supreme Court justice up for a retention vote on the Iowa ballots and he wants every Iowan to vote against this justice.

Check out this stump speech by the governor from yesterday:

Wait a minute! That's not Governor Branstad campaigning in Iowa on a statewide ballot issue. That's not Iowa's governor telling Iowans to vote against members of Iowa's Supreme Court.

That's Governor Bobby Jindal of Louisiana. What is Gov. Jindal doing four states north of his own state campaigning over an election that has nothing to do with him or his state?

It's telling that three of the four groups that make up Iowans for Freedom are based outside of Iowa and that the "No Wiggins" bus tour has to shop around for another state's governor to campaign on this important election issue.

This is an Iowa election issue. These out-of-state groups need to mind their own business and stick to mucking up their own states of Louisiana, New Jersey, Illinois, and Colorado.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Paul Ryan Heckled by "Lyin' Ryan" at Des Moines Event

I don't know how I missed this one. Paul Ryan spoke at a political event one week ago Monday over in Des Moines, IA, and was urging Iowans to get out and vote for the Romney/Ryan GOP presidential ticket. It was a pretty standard campaigning event.

But what got me excited was the presence of a protester from New York who wants you do know that he doesn't believe in Ryan's truthiness and he had a creative way of getting his point across:
Outside the hotel was "Lyin' Ryan," 20-year-old Ethan Kelly of New York, a volunteer with Progress Iowa. He was dressed as a lion to get people to recognize Ryan's "lies."

"This election is very important, and it's the first I'm allowed to vote in," he said. "It's important we get Obama re-elected because he is doing everything he can for students and young people."
Check out the images of this guy's costume. It's beautiful in its simplicity.


Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Two Regina High Students Arrested Over Recent Bomb Threats // A Third Suspect Is Still Being Sought

Last month and last week, students at Regina School (Iowa City's Catholic private school) had to be evacuated because of bomb threats. My biggest initial worry at the first bomb threat was that some crazy LGBT person had made the threatening calls. That fear is looking less and less likely now that Iowa City Police have arrested two of Regina High School's students:
Twice this school year, the threats shut down Iowa City’s Regina Catholic Education Center. The brothers are being held in the Linn County Juvenile Detention Center while police continue to investigate and school officials mull further punishment. Austin Daniel Troyer, 17, and Alex Michael Troyer, 15, of Iowa City, were arrested Friday on suspicion of first-degree harassment, an aggravated misdemeanor. Both suspects face two counts each of the charge, which involved aiding and abetting because they acted in concert with two other people, according to the juvenile complaints.

The Regina Board of Education met Tuesday evening to discuss taking further action against the students, who are about one year apart – Alex Troyer will turn 16 in October and Austin Troyer turned 17 in August – and who are both listed as sophomores at Regina...

Police suspect a third person not affiliated with the Regina Catholic Education Center might have been involved, and further investigation is underway to identify and arrest that person, according to an Iowa City police news release...

(Regina CEO Lee Iben) did not disclose details about what investigators suspect prompted the threats and what involvement the brothers are accused of having, but Iben did say that there is no evidence indicating the students actually had bombs or a plan to harm the school or its students.
I'm curious to learn why the boys did this -- assuming they are indeed guilty of what they are accused of doing. I will post more as I learn more.

Iowa State Bar Launches "Yes Iowa Judges" Statewide Tour

(Originally written on 09/24/12): Justice Not Politics Action has been campaigning in parts of Iowa in support of Supreme Court Justice David Wiggins and other Iowa justices and judges with its "Yes on Retention" events. Meanwhile Iowans for Freedom launched it's anti-judge/anti-gay family "No Wiggins" bus tour (featuring "famous Iowans" Rick Santorum and Bobby Jindal). Now another group has stepped forward in November's retention election.

The Iowa State Bar Association just approved a plan to speak out in favor of all Iowa's judges and justices who are up for retention voters this November. They will issue a postcard mailing. They will send out car window stickers. Representatives will speak to civic groups across the state. And they will begin traveling the state this week with a counter-message to Iowans for Freedom's anti-judge message:
The “Yes Iowa Judges” statewide tour will travel to 19 communities around the state beginning 9 a.m. Monday at the state Capitol. A mobile display vehicle sporting large red white and blue signs stating “Yes Freedom, Yes Liberty, Yes Iowa Judges” will park at a specific location in each community. Association members will address the media and members of the public and answer questions.

The week long tour coincides with the bus tour sponsored by the Family Leader and several other organizations in their anti-retention campaign against Justice David Wiggins, who was part of the 2009 ruling that led to legalizing same-sex marriage in Iowa.

According to bar officials, members during the tours will provide Iowans with the truth about the state’s judicial system and its judges and justices as a “counter-balance to the misinformation frequently espoused by vote no groups.”
"Yes Iowa Judges" visited Des Moines, Pella, Ottumwa, Burlington, and Muscatine earlier today. Tomorrow they will visit Davenport, Cedar Rapids, Dubuque, and Cedar Falls. On Wednesday, they will visit Mason City, Marshalltown, Fort Dodge, and Carroll. On Thursday, they will visit Council Bluffs, Sioux City, Spencer, and Orange City. And Friday, they will start out in Ames and conclude in Iowa City. I will do my best to rearrange my work schedule to attend the Iowa City event.

Updated on 09/25/12: Husband Mark pointed out some great Bob Vander Plaats quotes right before bed last night. BVP is the thrice-failed gubernatorial candidate who finally struck gold back in 2010 when he led the charge against Iowa's Supreme Court justices in retaliation for their unanimous decision to declare Iowa's DOMA law unconstitutional. This is what BVP had to say about the "Yes Iowa Judges" tour:
"We know the bar association is going to do the chicken thing and they're going to follow us around because they don't have what it takes to develop their own tour."
BVP is obviously being dense or he's trying to avoid the whole purpose of the "Yes Iowa Judges" tour. They purposely chose to follow the Iowans for Freedom bus around to each and every "No Wiggins" stop to provide a counter-balance to the distortions that BVP and his out-of-state allies are putting out there. The Iowa State Bar Association is also working hard to prevent the politicization of the judiciary that BVP and his allies say they are fighting against:
(Attorney Christine) Branstad criticized Vander Plaats for again claiming he's running a grass-roots effort supported by Iowans when the campaign is funded by out-of-state money contributed by political action groups. Vander Plaats' effort in 2010 received an estimated $1 million in contributions from five organizations opposing gay marriage from outside Iowa.

"The campaign against Iowa's judiciary by Bob Vander Plaats is funded by out-of-state money, the speakers are from out of state, and the buses are from out of state," she said. "It is simply an exercise in the use of PAC money and special interest money and out of state interests."

Dan Moore, a Sioux City lawyer and past president of the Iowa State Bar Association said Vander Plaats is spreading false statements about the court decision. He said the justices didn't bypass the Constitution in their decision but upheld its protections. The judges decided that under the equal protection clause of the Constitution the state could not deny same-sex couples a marriage license. They struck down an Iowa law that allowed only a man and a woman to be legally married.

"We call upon Iowans to reject their use of prejudices and falsehoods and to reject their efforts to politicize our courts," Moore said.
It's worth noting that the "Yes Iowa Judges" tour is indeed tailing the "No Wiggins" bus tour, but it is also touring two additional Iowa communities on its final day: Ames and Iowa City. BVP and his marriage inequality friends never come here. I guess they're most likely to run into the very families that they are seeking to disenfranchise in these two communities. In other words (to paraphrase BVP himself), they're doing the "chicken thing".

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Iowa City Police Seeking Accused Thief // UPDATE: Suspect Arrested

(Originally written on 09/20/12): The Iowa City Police released yet another request for public assistance today. This time police are seeking a man whom they think stole a credit card and subsequently used it to make unauthorized purchases at Liquor Downtown and Mega Bite. The theft and purchases happened on September 7th. The attached image is one of the suspect and was obtained from video surveillance footage at Liquor Downtown.

Iowa City Area CrimeStoppers are offering an award of up to $1,000 to you if you can provide information leading to that suspect's arrest. The number you can call is 358-8477.

Updated on 09/23/12: KCJJ reported an arrest in this case earlier today:
Iowa City Police have arrested an identity theft suspect accused of using a stolen credit card to make purchases in downtown Iowa City... That man has now been identified as 18-year-old Undrea Trevelle Hatchett of Oak Lake Park Road in Coralville. Upon his arrest Hatchett denied stealing the card but admitted to using it fraudulently. He’s charged with Forgery and Unauthorized Use of a Credit Card. If convicted he faces a maximum of seven years in prison.

Man Arrested for Kicking Over Planters in Downtown Iowa City

It's been a bad week for downtown Iowa City's plant life. First the Iowa City Police release a picture of a woman who's being sought for pulling plants out of the planters outside Hotel Vetro. Now a Cedar Rapids man has been arrested for kicking over planters near the same downtown hotel earlier yesterday morning!:
Police were called to hotelVetro just before 2am Saturday after a report of a male causing a disturbance. Arriving officers witnessed 32-year-old Matthew Merrill Strand of Deer Run Drive Northeast leave the hotel and kick over a large planter near the entrance. Strand ran from police, but was apprehended a short time later. An investigation determined that Strand had actually kicked over a second planter before police arrived. Estimated damage was $1,000.
Keep in mind that these must be very important VIPs (Very Important Plants) for this man to be facing over two years in prison for kicking them over.

Meanwhile, I still haven't heard if the wanted woman has been identified yet.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Romney Volunteer Personally Thanked by Paul Ryan & John Sununu for Making 1,000,000th GOP Campaign Phone Contact

If you live in Iowa and you have a phone, chances are that you have receive calls from political campaigns and from political polling companies since the beginning of President Obama's presidential term (though we had a nice bit of respite following the Iowa Caucus. Yesterday, one of those callers -- Karen Zmoos of Cedar Rapids -- has been calling Iowans on his behalf since 2008 and recently made the millionth phone contact to an Iowa voter. She got rewarded yesterday for her campaign work by former New Hampshire governor and Romney campaign surrogate John Sununu. This is what he had to say:
“I’m from New Hampshire where we really, really believe in the blocking and tackling of campaigning,” Sununu said. “I can’t tell you how significant that is to getting Mitt Romney elected.”
Originally, GOP vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan was supposed to call her at the Romney Campaign office, but accidentally called her at home instead. Zmoos wasn't terribly upset by this as she was pretty excited to find a phone message from Ryan on her message machine.

Personally, I think it's pretty neat that the Romney campaign is tracking these things are positively surprising its volunteers like this even if she's part of the political machine that keeps my phone ringing every evening. It shows that she and her colleagues are noticed and appreciated. Good job, Romney campaign!

Friday, September 21, 2012

Nero at Daycare -- 09/21/12

Looks like Nero's having a good time playing hide & seek over at doggy daycare today. Check it out:

Jughead NOT Canceled. He's Just on Hiatus. // Updated to Include Jughead Relaunch Idea!!

(Originally written on 09/20/12): Earlier this week, I posted upsetting news that Archie Comics was canceling its JUGHEAD comic book. Turns out that's not entirely true. Comic Book Resources contacted Archie Comics' new director of publicity and marketing, Adam Tracey, and got the full story:
As you’re aware, Archie has been reinventing itself for the last three years. That reinvention process is most visible in books like Life With Archie, Kevin Keller, The Art of Betty & Veronica, the New Crusaders comic, the Sonic and Archie Super Specials, and much more. Because Jughead is a very important character to us, that reinvention process will also apply to him. So while we’re putting together exactly how to do that, we’ve put the Jughead comic on hiatus until the relaunch happens. Fans of Jughead can rest assured that they’ll definitely be seeing more of him in the future.
Commenters are already speculating that Jughead will come out as transgendered or that he'll lose the crown or that he will become vegan. I have no clue, though I'm curious what will come out of this relaunch process. I'm all for shaking up the JUGHEAD title and giving the guy a little publicity. Give new readers and older readers a reason to pick up the book.

But personally I hope they keep the crown.

Updated on 09/21/12: I've been reading reactions to JUGHEAD's relaunch for the past several hours and got to wondering how Archie Comics might "reinvent" one of their most iconic characters. Keep in mind that they have done this before and (like most comic book reinventions) he eventuall reverted back to his classic depiction.

I seriously don't see what they can do to change Jughead himself to attract new and former readers to him without turning off his current fans. My personal thought is that Archie Comics need to do what they have done for ARCHIE and KEVIN KELLER and LIFE WITH ARCHIE and use current events like Occupy Wall Street or the Olympics into his book and then spin-out the story with a Jughead flavor.

But there was one other idea that I thought of this morning that might be kind of fun. What if Archie Comics were to relaunch JUGHEAD as a joint comic book? Kind of like how each issue of LIFE WITH ARCHIE has parallel stories featuring "Archie Marries Veronica" and "Archie Marries Betty". My idea is for them to have a comic book featuring "Jughead" stories and then parallel "Reversedale featuring J.J. Jones" stories. They could call it "LIFE WITH JUGHEAD".

Reversedale appeared to be well-received and I personally thought that Jughead's female alternate (J.J.) was one of the better gender-reversed alternates. There have already been calls for Archie Comics to revisit Reversedale. This would be a great way to explore these characters as well as grad media attention and pull in curious new readers. There would still be the issue of keeping both stories fresh, exciting, and engaging. But I'm confident that both storylines could accomplish this with the right vision.

What do you think? Good idea or not? Or maybe you have a good idea for relaunching JUGHEAD. If so, I'd love to hear your thoughts!

Iowa City Dog Park ID'd as Second Best in the Nation!

Here is something that's pretty cool. Dogster recently named Iowa City's Thornberry Off-Leash Dog Park one of the "10 Amazing Dog Parks You Need to See in Your Lifetime". Not only did we make the list, but we managed to score the Number 2 spot! This is what Dogster had to say about the park:
Featuring 12 acres, a pond for water warriors, a fenced-in area for smaller dogs, a Lucky Pawz Playground, running water, and eco-friendly disposable waste bags with pipes to underground “poop tanks” where the bags biodegrade when in contact with water -- is it any wonder Thornberry made our top 10? Open from dawn to dusk, Iowa City requires a yearly access fee of $35 per resident ($40 for non-residents) with a discount for dogs who are spayed/neutered.
Bonus Points: With its Halloween parties and dog paddle events, Thornberry works with the city of Iowa and welcomes volunteers.
I'm a big fan of Thornberry Dog Park. I used to get out there nightly when Nero was a puppy, but now we usually only make it on the weekends. I wrote the following review early this year (partially in response to a negative review). This is what I wrote last March:
I take my dogs to the dog park in Iowa City often; usually twice weekly. The membership is extremely affordable. There are young trees growing at the Thornberry park, so they don't offer much shade. But there are two covered benches in the main park area and one covered bench in each of the alternative park areas. The Thornberry Park has the main running area, but it also has a park area reserved for small dogs only and one additional park area reserved for small groups and/or more aggressive dogs who need the chance to run, but who really aren't safe to play with other dogs.

I like the pathway in the dog park. It's especially nice during the weeks when snow is melting or when there is a lot of rain and, as a result, the ground is muddy. I often see people use the pathway to get some exercise while their dogs play with others.
Iowa City has a second dog park named Rita's Ranch Park. I don't get out there as often as the Thornberry Dog Park, but it's a nice alternative -- especially on Hawkeye Game Days!

I found this neat video on YouTube that scans the main running area at Thornberry Off-Leash Park:

Lastly, I thought it would be fun to post a second clip highlighting one of the hazards of going to the dog park: Dog-on-human collisions! If you have visited the park often enough, you learn to reduce risk of injury by keeping your knees a bit slack. Check it out:

Congratulations, Thornberry Off-Leash Dog Park!

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Iowans for Freedom Launching Anti-Judge Bus Tour Across Iowa // Updated to Include Bus Schedule

(Originally written on 09/08/12): There is this group called Iowans for Freedom, which is basically a spin-off of The FAMiLY Leader and it's lead by tons of The FAMiLY Leader's leaders such as Bob Vander Plaats and Tamara Scott. They have plans to launch yet another anti-gay bus tour across Iowa. The bus tour's message? "No Wiggins". Iowa Supreme Court Justice David Wiggins is one of the justices who unanimously struck down Iowa's DOMA law back in 2009, which paved the way for gay and lesbian couples like myself and my husband to become legally married in the state of Iowa. He is on the ballot this year for a retention vote. But in 2010, BVP organized an effort to get three of Wiggins' judicial colleagues thrown off the bench during their own retention campaigns.

The "NO Wiggins" bus tour wants to "educate voters about the need to affirm judicial integrity by removing politics from the court via activist judges like Wiggins." In other words, Iowans for Freedom wants to remove politics from the court by inserting politics into the court and warn them that they must issue court decisions that they approve of or else they will be branded as "activist judges" and kicked out over one specific court decision.

The Iowans for Freedom bus tour will begin early on September 24th in Des Moines and will travel to 17 different Iowa communities. The bus tour is sponsored by CitizenLink (a Focus on the Family program) and The FAMiLY Leader and co-sponsored by the National Organization for Marriage and

In other words, Iowans for Freedom consists on one Iowa-based organization plus one Colorado-based group, one Illinois-based group, and one New Jersey-based group. And these out-of-state groups have promised to flood roughly $100,000 into Iowa to defeat this one judge.

One More Quick Thing: Check out this blog article by ARSARBENT featuring a video produced by Iowans for Freedom and featuring BVP and Tamara Scott. The video tries characterizing Justice Wiggins as this activist judge who is trying to get around the Iowa Constitution, presumably on the issue of gay marriage. Of course, Wiggins' words were totally taken out of context. He was not trying to get around the constitution. He was interviewing a new candidate for the Iowa Supreme Court. She was not licensed to practice law in the state of Iowa and that is a requirement for the Iowa Supreme Court. He was asking her -- using dry humor -- why they should send her name to Governor Branstad as an applicant when sheconstitutionally doesn't qualify for the position (at least not at the time of the interview).

Updated on 09/20/12: Iowans for Freedom announced their bus tour dates earlier today. Their anti-judge bus plans to visit Des Moines, Pella, Ottumwa, Burlington, and Muscatine on Monday, September 24th. They plan to visit Davenport, Cedar Rapids, Dubuque, and Cedar Falls on Tuesday, September 25th. They plan to visit Mason City, Marshalltown, Fort Dodge, Carroll on Wednesday, September 26th. Finally, the plan to visit Council Bluffs, Sioux City, Spencer, and Orange City on Thursday, September 27th. As always, BVP and his friends are avoiding Iowa City and Johnson County.

Pitch Perfect Performs "Starships"

I seriously can't stop listening to this song tonight. I'd never heard of PITCH PERFECT before today. Now I can't wait to watch it when it debuts later this month. Enjoy!:

Iowa City Police Searching for Vegetation Vandal

One might think that Iowa City has its hands full chasing down K2 abusers and Catholic school bomb threat hoaxers, but apparently crime never sleeps in this city. The Iowa City Police released information yesterday about their search for an alleged criminal whose sense of anarchy knows no bounds.

The crime that she's accused of? She allegedly pulled plants out of their pots outside downtown Iowa City's Hotel Vetro:
According to a police press release, on Sept. 7, at 9:20 p.m., surveillance cameras at hotel Vetro captured a woman pulling plants out of the planters located in front of the hotel, destroying the plants in the process. Police say they are pursuing the woman who committed the criminal mischief as part of an overall effort to cut down on nuisance behaviors in downtown Iowa City.
Iowa City Area Crimestoppers is offering $1,000 to anyone whose tips lead to the arrest of this accused plant vandal. You just need to give them a call at 356-8477.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Zach Wahls Inteviewed on PATV's "Talking With..."

Check out this half-hour interview with Zach Wahls, where he discusses everything from the presidential election, gay marriage, political discourse, and the NFL. Check it out here:

Another Fake Bomb Threat at Regina School (Iowa City's Catholic School)

Nearly one month ago today, a caller left a bomb threat at Regina School, Iowa City's Catholic school. Fortunately, that bomb threat was a prank call, but we really haven't heard any follow-up from either Regina Catholic Education Center or from the Iowa City Police Department.

Unfortunately, Regina Catholic Education Center received a second bomb threat shortly after noon today, which prompted police intervention and an evacuation of all Regina students. The time around, the caller said that he was "a block away, wanted money and they had 20 minutes to evacuate." Bomb dogs swarmed the school building and surrounding grounds and, once again, it turned out that this was another prank call.

Hopefully, the police will figure out who has been making these bomb threats soon.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Captain America Elected President of the United States of America!

Remember a couple weeks back when I posted my Favorite Five Comic Book Presidential Candidates? Looks like I was premature with that piece. If I'd waited a few weeks, I could have used this new Marvel Comics storyline to introduce the concept.

It looks like one of Marvel's best known heroes will become elected President of the United States of America tomorrow. Captain America is set to become elected President through a write-in ballot effort.

Keep in mind that this is part of Marvel's Ultimate Comics line. The Ultimate Comics were an attempt to start fresh with all of Marvel's main characters. Get rid of all the continuity baggage and allow new readers the chance to read their favorite heroes' right from the beginning. Then the years passed and the Ultimate Comics accumulated its own continuity. So the Captain America in the Ultimate Comics isn't really the Captain America who has been portrayed in Marvel Comics over the past 70 years.

Confused? I wouldn't worry about it. Just check out this link for more information on Marvel's Ultimate Comics books.

Back to President Cap. A few months ago, Washington DC got nuked and the USA went all crazy. Chunks of states have split from the USA, which has led to all sorts of chaos and craziness. With all this uncertainty, the American people decided to turn to one man who they believe will unite us once again: Captain America! No word on who becomes the vice president or what political party President Cap represents.

This storyline will begin tomorrow in ULTIMATE COMICS: THE ULTIMATES #15 and will be followed up with issue #16 a couple weeks afterwards. It should be interesting to see how this storyline plays out.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Jughead Canceled // UPDATE: Jughead NOT Canceled!!! Update Below!

(Originially written on 09/17/12): I visit the Archie Comics Fan Forum occasionally and offer my two cents when I'm feeling generous. Anyway, I learned some sad news this evening: Archie Comics has canceled one of its longest running titles. JUGHEAD has been canceled.

Someone noticed that the comic book title was suddenly not being offered for subscription on the Archie website. Then somebody finally e-mailed the Archie Comics office and received confirmation:
I emailed the subscription dept.:

"I'm sorry at this time the title has been canceled."

Sad day at Archie Comics.

#216 in Nov is the last solicited issue for now.
Keep in mind that the JUGHEAD title has been published since 1949. Back in 1987, the JUGHEAD title was canceled in April and relaunched in June with a new creative team so it's possible that JUGHEAD the comic book will get resurrected yet again. After all, he is one of comic book's more unique characters.

Maybe the problem is that JUGHEAD has been around for 63 years. I don't read the title regularly, but I assumed that the character is such an iconic Archie Comics character that his book will always be around. Obviously that's not the case. Like any other comic book, it needs a certain number of readers to purchase the book or else it cannot remain.

Then again, there is a lot of fresh buzz coming out of Archie Comics these days. ARCHIE has grabbed attention because of the title character's multi-part interracial love story with Pussycat Valerie. Also, they used contemporary events such as Occupy Wall Street to launch a story. Not to mention the fun "Reversedale" gender-swap issue. Then there was the gay wedding story in LIFE WITH ARCHIE, as well as the Cheryl Blossom breast cancer storyline. KEVIN KELLER used the recent London Olympics in its latest storyline and it will also be guest-starring George Takei in a few months.

Why has there not been similar attention-grabbing stories coming out of JUGHEAD? (Not to mention BETTY & VERONICA!!!)

So maybe there's blame to go around between the publisher and the readers. And -- for all I know -- maybe there's a master plan for relaunching Jughead in a totally new and different book.

The moral of the story is that we cannot take our favorite comic books for granted. If we don't want to see other Archie Comics staples disappear, we fans need to subscribe to the books or place them on our pull-lists. And we need to promote these books among our friends and our kids. Otherwise there is no way that these books will survive.

Updated on 09/20/12: Good news! Looks like JUGHEAD is not canceled, but will be instead placed on hiatus while Archie Comics works on relaunching the title. Check out this link for more information.

Fox News Hoaxed by "Former Obama Supporter"

Someone at FOX AND FRIENDS forgot to vet this "former Obama supporter/new Romney supporter" before inviting him onto the show to interview. It made me chuckle. Enjoy!:

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Vote "YES on Retention" // UPDATED: Zach Walhs & JNP Seek Support During Hawkeye Game

(Originally written on 09/13/12): Last week, I wrote about Iowans for Freedom (the coalition of mostly non-Iowan anti-gay family groups) and their plan to launch a "No Wiggins" bus tour. The purpose of the "No Wiggins" bus tour is to discourage Iowan voters from voting to retain Supreme Court Justice David Wiggins in retaliation for his participation in the unanimous 2009 Varnum v. Brien court case which struck down Iowa's DOMA law and paved the way for gay and lesbian families to legally marry in this state.

Yesterday, another group -- Justice Not Politics -- announced its own campaign in support of all Iowa justices and judges including Justice Wiggins. JNP will officially kick off its "Yes on Retention" campaign here in Iowa City this Saturday, 09/15/12, and will follow up with another event in Indianola on Sunday the 16th.

The Iowa City event will go from 12:30 PM-2:30 PM on Saturday at a tailgate event for the Iowa VS. UNI football game. JNP supporters will solicit supporters and pass out campaign materials. Zach Wahls -- one of Iowa's most famous and well-spoken young speaker, writer, and well-balanced son of lesbians -- will also be at the Iowa City event.

This is why voting "Yes on Retention" is important for all Iowans:
“Iowa judges have a strong tradition of ruling based on the law,” said Sally Pederson, former Iowa lieutenant governor and chairwoman of Justice Not Politics Action.

Iowa Democrats, Republicans and independents need to stand together to prevent out-of-state special interest groups from intimidating our judges by threatening to spend millions to oust them,” Pederson said in a statement. “Voting yes for retention on the back of your ballot is a vote to protect our courts, and to stop the groups trying to intimidate judges.”

Organizers said Justice Not Politics Action plans to engage supporters and volunteers to encourage Iowa voters to “flip their ballots” and vote in favor of retaining the justices and judges whose names will appear on the back of the general-election ballot.
It was unclear from the Gazette article what will be happening at the Indianola event. There also wasn't any information about subsequent events. Hopefully that information will be forthcoming and I will share it on this blog.


Updated on 09/16/12: The Iowa City Press-Citizen reports today that Justice Not Politics Action did indeed show up with Zach Wahls and many other volunteers outside the Iowa/UNI football game yesterday outside Kinnick Stadium in Iowa City. Their goal was to get people educated about the judicial retention campaign this November and supporters to flip their ballots to vote YES for Justice David Wiggins and the other Supreme Court justices up for vote this year:
Many voters are unaware of the judicial measure at the bottom of the ballot and fail to cast a vote, said Matt Sinovic, a representative from Justice Not Politics Action. He said that in 2010 as many as two in five voters failed to complete the ballot.

“They did vote for governor or other races, but they didn’t go all the way down the ballot, so we’re encouraging people to flip the ballot and vote yes,” Sinovic said. “They may have been unaware of what was at stake, so that’s what the campaign is for and what our job is this year: to make sure people are educated about their choices and make sure that they know they need to vote yes, go all the way down and vote yes to retention.”

Although many fans were distracted at the stadium, rushing to get to their seats and take photos before kickoff, the group of volunteers were able to collect about 200 signatures in support of the cause. “When you think politics, you probably don’t think Iowa home game, but I think this is a very passionate issue that a lot of people care a lot about,” (Zach) Wahls said.
Wahls notes in this article that as much as 95% of the money spent campaigning in 2010 against Iowa's Supreme Court justices came from out of Iowa. 2010 was when Bob Vander Plaats led the charge against Justices Marsha Ternus, Michael Striet, and David Barker in retaliation for their unanimous decision in the Varnum v. Brien case, which struck down Iowa's DOMA law and allowed gay and lesbian Iowans to legally marry.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Did Homosexuality Kill Off the Dinosaurs?

Quite possibly, according to this image:


Real Men Don't Marry Women If They're Gay

There's this event called the Values Voters Summit going on that showcases social conservatives' attacks on LGBT people and our families, as well as attack various progressive groups and stances. I haven't paid too much attention to it this year. But I thought I would highlight a tweet from Matt Barber of Liberty Counsel:

I won't go into whether or not gay men are "real men" or not.

What I do wonder is why social conservatives continually push gay men and gay women into heterosexual marriage? How many straight men want to marry a lesbian? How many straight women want to marry a gay man? How many parents would be thrilled if they found out their daughter was engaged to a gay man? If you called Dr. Laura and asked her for advice on saving your marriage to a lesbian, she'd tell you to run away fast.

I understand that some of these marriages work out. But they are totally mismatched. I believe the Christian term is "unevenly yoked". Most of the time, they eventually fall apart.

It is completely irresponsible for people to nudge gay men and women into heterosexual marriages. It isn't fair to them and it's totally not fair to their heterosexual spouse or any kids that come from these marriages before they implode upon themselves.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Glee Excitement: Sue Sylvester's New Baby Has Down Syndrome

I enjoy watching GLEE. I don't get to watch the show as much as I used to and I sadly missed most of the season premier this past Thursday in order to watch Dan blindside Danielle and Shane on BIG BROTHER. Now I'm kicking myself for missing GLEE's premier because I missed my opportunity to meet Sue Sylvester's little baby girl. Her name is Robin Sylvester and, it turns out, she has Down Syndrome.

One of the things that I love about GLEE is its inclusion of people with Down Syndrome on the show. My favorite GLEE-character has long been Becky (Sue's tyrannical assistant -- awesomely acted by Lauren Potter). And then there is Jean, Sue's now deceased and forever loved sister. And now we have little Robin. That's more recurring characters with Down Syndrome than pretty much any other television series in American -- if not worldwide -- television history. Which is both remarkable and wonderful.

I cannot wait to see what GLEE has planned for Baby Robin. Most television series would focus on the parents' grieving cycle over giving birth to a child with Down Syndrome. Given what we have seen over the years with Sue and her uncharacteristic soft spot for people with disabilities, I cannot imagine her character falling into that predictable trap. But it will be interesting to see what struggles -- if any -- that she and her baby encounter during the new season.

Principal Scuttles Cosmetology Class Because One Student Looks Gay

Assuming everything reported is correct, it's being reported that Principal Thomas Amons of Beaumont Independent School District's Taylor Career and Technology Center has shut down the school's Adult Cosmetology class and fired its instructor because one of its male students is thought to be gay. According to this article, he was legally prohibited from kicking out the student himself solely because of his sexual orientation so he did the next best thing: he discontinued the entire cosmetology program effective yesterday:
“I don’t understand this. I really don’t,” (instructor Cequada) Clark said. “(Amons) told me he would rather shut down the program altogether than to have ‘riff-raff’ like that in the program. The next day, he shut down the program.” Clark, who has headed the adult cosmetology program since 2009 at BISD, said, “Earlier this year, I learned he had a problem with gay guys while we were at the hair show in April.” Clark said at the hair show, Amons told her that he never wanted to see “flamboyantly gay guys” in the BISD program like the men enrolled at other programs competing in the event...

“As soon as we got a student that (Amons) thought was gay, that was the end. He saw (Gray) come into the class, and then he came to get me out of there,” Clark said of Principal Amons, a man who also serves as a deacon at Antioch Missionary Baptist Church. The instructor said she was told to tell Gray he wasn’t welcome in the program. Feeling a moral objection to what was taking place, she refused. “I told (Amons) if he wanted to tell that young man that, he would need to do that himself...”

“I take this very seriously. Most of my students coming in are single moms trying to move ahead and make a life for themselves. My thing is, I bust my tail off with this program: I give God the glory because it’s been doing good since I’ve been there. At the very least, I’d like to see Mr. Amons apologize to that young man and to allow those already entered in the program to finish their instruction to get licensed,” Clark said, adding that the right thing to do would be to continue the program and allow Gray to enter...

Gray... said he was initially excited to start the BISD program... “He never even talked to me. He just judged me. I don’t know and I don’t care (why); I just don’t want him to be over any other kids and maybe do that to them, too. He can cause a lot of trouble for students like that.” Gray said he is gay but has never been open about his sexuality before now, and was forced into the spotlight when word was given to the entire class that the reason no one would be furthering their education in cosmetology was because of him. “Six or seven other girls in there can’t get their license because of me,” Gray explained. “That just isn’t right. Right now, I can see I’m going to need counseling. I wasn’t at the point in my life to really open up about my sexuality. This is a big depression on me – he thought I was gay, and he didn’t want me around. That’s pretty tough to hear.”
Instructor Cequada Clark was subsequently fired after publicly discussing this whole mess. Amons himself has so far managed to stay off the record in the new reports I've read.

The school, according to its website, has a culinary art program. Hopefully any gays in there stay in the closet or else there won't be much more to the school's curriculum!

Seriously though, assuming everything reported is correct it's pretty shady that the entire Adult Cosmetology program was shut down in order to keep one student out of the program. These students are trying to learn a trade that will help them become productive members of this society. Now they have all been cut lose because of one man's alleged prejudice.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

New Poll: Iowa Voters Likely to Retain Supreme Court Justices

Speaking of the upcoming judicial retention campaign, The Sioux City Journal reports that Iowa voters are likely going to vote to retain all four of the Iowa Supreme Court justices -- including Justice David Wiggins. Social conservatives are trying to give Wiggins the boot because he voted -- along with the rest of the Iowa Supreme Court -- to strike down Iowa's DOMA law in 2009. The other three Supreme Court Justices who are currently on the ballot for retention were appointed to the court following thrice-failed gubernatorial candidate Bob Vander Plaats' successful 2010 campaign to vote out three other justices involved in that same 2009 DOMA decision.

According to the poll, 47% of those polled favor retaining the four justices on this fall's ballot. 24% want to vote them out and 25% just don't know.

48% of those polled also support the 2009 Varnum v. Brien court decision and marriage equality in general. That's up 11 percent points since 2009.

Man Kills Uncle Over Pork Chops

This is a funny/sad situation coming out of St. Louis, MO. Apparently, a man and his uncle got into a debate that turned deadly. The source of their argument? What to call their supper:
A St. Louis man was slapped with first-degree murder, and armed criminal action charges Monday (Sept. 10) for killing his uncle, over a pork chops debate that turned fatal. John Cunningham, 43, and his uncle, 44-year-old Lessie E. Lowe, got into an argument over whether or not they were planning to cook pork chops, or pork steaks. Cunnigham thought the food should be called pork steaks, but his maternal uncle disagreed. They got into a physical altercation early Monday and had to be separated by another party. Still upset, Cunningham went to another room in the home grabbed a gun and shot his uncle. Lowe was later pronounced dead at the Barnes-Jewish Hospital...

As it turns out, Cunningham was right about the meat, they really are called pork steaks.
I've heard of meaty debates, but this one's unbelievable.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Killing the Professor

I'd promised myself that I would wait a few days before posting any more comic-related posts, but this seemed pretty big. The New York Daily News reported a huge spoiler this morning for AVENGERS VS. X-MEN #11, which will be released later today. AVX tells the story of the Phoenix's return to Earth, the Avengers' attempted kidnapping of Hope Summers, and the Phoenix's possession/corruption of Cyclops, Emma Frost, Colossus, Magik, and Namor. By the end of issue 10, the Phoenix had left everyone but Cyclops and Emma. I'm fairly certain from various spoiler images out there that Cyclops will end up being the sole avatar by the end of today's AVX issue.

But the big spoiler deals with a major comic book death. Looks like the AVX #11 will end with Professor Charles Xavier's death -- at the hands of Cyclops.

Keep in mind that comic book deaths are a dime a dozen. They say that death is forever and then they resurrect the dead. It happened with Jean Grey. It happened with Superman. It happened with the Flash. It happened with Cable. It happened with Colossus. It happened with the Human Torch. If they've killed a character, chances are s/he has been resurrected -- or will be once the right writer comes on board.

It the meantime, please join me for a moment of silence for Professor X.

Comic Book Resources discussed the motivations for killing off the good professor:
According to writer Brian Michael Bendis, Xavier had become an anachronism, as most of his former students are now too old to require a mentor. “He was this thing that was just floating around the X-books, with not the same amount of gravitas that he once had,” he said. “I did point out that he would matter more in death.” That death, which Bendis said "certainly will be talked about by message boards forever and ever," apparently won't be reversed anytime soon.

“This is about as serious and lasting a death as you’re apt to get in one of these," said Executive Editor Tom Brevoort.
One could point out to Bendis that students have a tendency of growing up and moving on to new adventures. They are then replaced by new students, who get taught by the older students' teachers. So Cyclops, Beast, Iceman, and Archangel might not need a teacher, but Rockslide, Anole, Dust, and Quentin Quire still need a teacher over at the Jean Grey School for Higher Learning. In other words, I don't buy it that Xavier has no purpose. But I guess he needs to justify Xavier's murder.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Dragons in Iowa? // Updated Below to Include My Five Favorite Comic Book Dragons!!!

(Originally written on 09/09/12): I was bopping about the Internet this morning and noticed this list of each state's weirdest unexplained phenomenon. I decided to jump ahead to Iowa and left scratching my head. This is what they had to say about Iowa:
Iowa -- Flying Dragon: A number of Burlington, Iowa, residents have reported seeing a dragon flying over their city in recent years. Two witnesses described it as brown-skinned with a long, snake-like body and 15-foot bat-like wings. Its head was shaped like a seahorse and it had a skinny tail flowing behind it. They watched the dragon slither through the air until it flew high up in the night sky.
Now I don't claim to know everything about Iowa, but I do try to keep up on the weird things that they reported in this state and I have never heard anything about dragon sightings in Burlington, near Burlington, or anywhere else in Iowa, for that matter. So I decided to do some searching and still came up with nothing.

Except... I did find one report written by a woman named Megan. She wrote about an incident from 2005 where she and her husband witnessed a flying dragon while driving on the streets of Burlington in the middle of the night:
I just happened to look up above the glaring bright Shottenkirk lights and saw something that I will never forget: It was brown in color, with a long body about 10 feet in length. The body was long and snake-like. It had bat-like wings somewhere between at least 15 to 20 feet across. The head was seahorse-like. It had a skinny tail flowing behind it.

I looked at Dennis and said. "Do you SEE that?!" and he said, "Yeah... oh, my god. What IS that?!" I actually stopped my car in the middle of the road (thankfully no one else was on it) and we just stared with our mouths hanging open. It seemed to kind of slither in midair, hovering above those tall lights above the car dealership, and it would occasionally beat its massive bat-like wings that sprouted out of its back.

Dennis then said, "It looks like... one of those Chinese dragons!!" And it did - it looked just like those mythical, serpent-like, slithery, winged Chinese dragons! It moved just like the ones you see in cartoons and drawings, slithering up and down in the air! We watched until it rose up higher into the sky, away from the illumination of the lights and out of our range of sight. It was incredible. We both swapped notes and separately drew pictures of what we had seen, then compared them - they are nearly identical. Call me crazy, but I think we saw a dragon! In Iowa!
Someone named Zeuz shared his own "Dragon in Iowa" story in the comments section here:
I live in Iowa too, in Grand Mound. We see dragons like that all the time, they normally come in the harvest time when the moon is really big and red. They often take cows from my neighbors pasture. I myself have spotted these dragons six different times, once in a group of three. Once I saw a large blue one with four wings, otherwise they look like the one you described
So there they are. The only two "Dragons in Iowa" stories that I could find following five minutes of Google-searching.

What do you think? Are there dragon's lurking the skies above Burlington or anywhere else in Iowa? Have you seen them? If so, I want to hear your story!

Updated on 09/11/12: I meant to include this latter material when I originally wrote this blog article. But a combination of time and fatigue prevented me including a list of my Favorite Five Comic Book Dragons!

5. Savage Dragon: The Savage Dragon is one of those comic book characters who are cool and iconic, but whom I know very little about. Most of my experience with him stem from his 1995 animated series. Dragon started out as a super-strong scaly-green creature with no memories. He soon joined the Chicago Police Department and protected the city from all sorts of nasty freaks. He became famous for meeting God and endorsing Barack Obama during the 2008 presidential campaign. Over the years, he has discovered his alien origins and moved into new directions that I haven't read. Still, Savage Dragon is a cool hero and worthy of this list of dragons.

4. Dragon Man: Dragon Man is one of those really cool Jack Kirby creations. He's a dimwitted android who has repeatedly sparred with all sorts of Marvel's heroes, including the Fantastic Four, the Avengers, Spider-Man, and even Power Pack. In recent years, Dragon Man's computer brain was updated by Valeria Richards, daughter of Sue and Reed Richards of the Fantastic Four, and ended up joining the Future Foundation team. The FF team is a bunch of brainy kids who are plotting to create a better tomorrow for humanity. As usually happens, everything new in comics usually reverts back to how it once was, so I fully expect to see the more animalistic version of Dragon Man in the future. But I'm enjoying the brainy Dragon Man of today while he lasts!

3. Fin Fang Foom: If Dragon Man is an example of Kirby greatness, Fin Fang Foom is Kirby genius. Fin Fang Foom is a (usually) giant dragon who originally appeared in China and managed to turn back a horde of invading communists. Over the years, he has appeared and re-appeared to menace all sorts of Marvel heroes, including Iron Man and my beloved Pet Avengers. One of my favorite recent Fin Fang Foom appearance involves the time he was captured by the Fantastic Four, seemingly rehabilitated, and forced to perform menial jobs as part of the Fin Fang Four. I'm still not 100% certain if those story lines are canon or not!

2. Lockheed: Lockheed the Dragon is the longtime companion of X-Man Kitty Pryde and founding member of the Pet Avengers. Kitty encountered Lockheed during one of her early space adventures and adopted him (or was it the other way around). He ended up moving to the X-Mansion and then the England to help found Excalibur. The two clashed when she found out that he was really an alien agent sent to spy on the X-Men (one of my least favorite plot developments in X-Men history), but fortunately they reunited in recent months. Now he can be seen flying through the halls of the Jean Grey School for Higher Learning and breaking up fights amongst the various mutant students.

1. Jade Dragon: Jade Dragon is one of my favorite (and lesser known) comic book dragons. He is a Chinese patriot who possesses the ability to transform into a fire-breathing winged dragon. He was having a crisis of conscience in the middle of a mission to kill a bunch of temple monks. He found himself inadvertently transported to another dimension alongside Canada's greatest heroes, Alpha Flight, and assisted them with defeating the evil Dreamqueen. He stayed in Canada for a few more adventures before returning to China and joining a mutant dissident group called 3-Peace. Unfortunately, Jade Dragon hasn't been seen since. I have often fantasized that I would love to reintroduce Jade Dragon to Marvel Comics, either as a member of Alpha Flight or as part of an international team of heroes. Regardless, he remains my all-time favorite comic book dragon.

How about you? Who is your favorite comic book dragon? I would love to hear about it!

President Kevin Keller Honors the Anniversary of the 9-11 Attacks


Gay People Cannot Even Purchase Property Without Violating the Religious Liberties of Others!!! // UPDATED BELOW: Couple Files Lawsuit Against Diocese Over Scuttled Land Deal

(Originally written on 07/26/12): I don't get this at all. The Diocese of Worcester in Northbridge, MA, is selling property. A male couple was wrapping up negotiations when the Dioceses pulled out of the deal at the last moment. According to an e-mail that they stupidly forwarded to the buyers, the local bishop nixed the sale because the couple might use their newly purchased property as the site of a gay wedding!:
This embarrassing etiquette lapse occurred as James Fairbanks and Alain Beret were pursuing the purchase of Oakhurst, a 44-bedroom mansion in Northbridge, owned by the Diocese of Worcester. Fairbanks and Beret had searched for two years for the perfect renovation project, and hoped to turn the run-down estate into a banquet facility...

(T)hey received a brief email from the diocese's broker, LiSandra Rodriguez-Pagan, saying that the diocese decided to pursue “other plans” for the property. Beret and Fairbanks were stunned, but perhaps they should have anticipated rejection from the church. The men are gay and have been together for 35 years. They married in 2004 and live quietly in Sutton.

This week, Monsignor Thomas Sullivan, who oversees the sale of diocesan property, told me the deal fell through because of financing. “They couldn't come up with the money,” he said. “This happens all the time.” I told him the potential buyers believed that he rejected the deal because of their sexual orientation, or the prospect of gay marriages someday being performed at Oakhurst. Was that an issue? “No, it wasn't,” Msgr. Sullivan said. “It was an issue of them not having the financing. That was all.”

As noted, if you're going to discriminate, you should cover your tracks. Inadvertently attached to the email rejecting the counter offer is an email from Msgr. Sullivan to the diocesan broker:

I just went down the hall and discussed it with the bishop,” Msgr. Sullivan wrote. “Because of the potentiality of gay marriages there, something you shared with us yesterday, we are not interested in going forward with these buyers. I think they're shaky anyway. So, just tell them that we will not accept their revised plan and the Diocese is making new plans for the property. You find the language.
What business is it of the Diocese that this couple might allow a gay wedding or reception at their own banquet facility? By that point, it is no longer owned by the Church. They gave up their right to discriminate against LGBT people when they sold off the property. What's next? Will sacraments be withheld to people who lease an apartment to someone on the Pill?

Updated on 09/11/12: The AP reported yesterday that Beret and Fairbanks have filed suit against the Roman Catholic Diocese of Worchester for "loss of civil rights and dignity and for emotional distress". The couple claims they were discriminated against because they are gay. The attorney for the diocese disputes this accusation, insisting instead that the couple would be unable to finance the deal.

According to the AP, the diocese actually has a policy that forbids them from selling church building once used for worship for any purpose that is against Catholic church teaching, such as gay wedding receptions. I can't wait for some group like the National Organization of Marriage to use this lawsuit to claim religious discrimination and to spotlight why gay and lesbian couples shouldn't be allowed to legally marry.

Monday, September 10, 2012

New Study: No Negative Effects from DADT Repeal

The Palm Center, a research branch of the Williams Institute at University of California Los Angeles Law School, released the results of a study to highlight all of the negative consequences of Don't Ask/Don't Tell's repeal during the past year. They found nothing. No overall negative impact on military readiness. No problems with unit cohesion. No problems with recruitment. No problems with retention. And no problems with service member morale:
The authors of the study, who included professors at U.S. Military Academy, U.S. Naval Academy, U.S. Air Force Academy and U.S. Marine Corps War College, arrived at this conclusion after soliciting the views of 553 generals and admirals who predicted that repeal would undermine the military, as well as conducting interviews with expert opponents of DADT repeal, a number of watchdog organizations and more than 60 active-duty heterosexual, lesbian, gay and bisexual troops from every service branch.

They also observed several military units and administered several surveys, analyzed relevant media articles published during the research period and conducted secondary source analysis of surveys independently administered by outside groups.

"For almost twenty years, experts predicted that allowing gays and lesbians to serve openly would harm the military," said Aaron Belkin, the founding director of the Palm Center and lead author of the study. "Now the evidence is in, and the conclusion is clear: repealing 'don't ask, don't tell' did not harm the military, and if anything made it easier for the Pentagon to pursue its mission."
The biggest complaints I've heard have been from military chaplain groups -- and mainly retired military chaplain groups -- who have struggled with serving members of the military who are gay. They have struggled with serving gay and lesbian service members because homosexuality is against their religion. But they have somehow learned how to serve heterosexual service members who are Muslims, Pagans, or who belong to other religious groups -- something that also violates the tenets of their religion.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Mennonite Pastors: We Will Die Rather Than Return Kidnapped Girl to her Lesbian Mother

I've written a lot about the sad story of Lisa Miller, Janet Jenkins, their break-up, the decade-long child custody fight, and Miller's subsequent international kidnapping of the womens' daughter. Lisa fled to Nicaragua with their daughter Isabella in late 2009 after the Vermont and Virginia courts reached their last straws with Miller over her repeated disregard for shared custody agreements. Primary custody was to have transferred to Jenkins, but Miller fled the country with the assistance of others. One of those others, Mennonite pastor Kenneth Miller, was convicted last month of abetting international kidnapping and now faces three years in federal prison.

LifeSiteNews has a new article about the Nicaraguan Mennonites who've taken Lisa and Isabella in and who have protected her from U.S. and Nicaraguan investigators. Even though they are abetting the kidnapping of this child, these Mennonites are claiming government persecution and vow to suffer imprisonment or even death to keep Isabella away from her non-biological mother, Janet Jenkins:
The Brotherhood says that they forgive their persecutors, but will stand firm in the defense of Isabella, now 10 years old, who “has become an innocent victim of an ungodly agenda.” “Her wellbeing has not been given much or any consideration. According to the Bible we believe that God has given Lisa sole responsibility to care and protect her own daughter since she has no known father. According to the Bible it is a war between good and evil, a battle between God and Satan. As congregations we stand united in this spiritual warfare against evil.”

The Brotherhood add that they are willing to suffer imprisonment or death in the cause of protecting Isabella. “The fact is that suddenly we find ourselves having to choose between obeying God and man made laws,” they write. “We have chosen to obey God. We are willing to give up our rights, go to jail, or even die, for the cause of helping anyone become free from a sinful life and helping that person to live in obedience to God’s Word."
It's nice to know that there are religious communities who are willing to help out someone who creates and then breaks-up a family, who jurisdiction-shops, who repeatedly ignores unfavorable court rulings, and who then leaves her pets home alone to die while she sneaks out of the country to avoid a child custody transfer.

I don't care if Lisa Miller says that she is no longer a lesbian. She created a family with Janet Jenkins ten years ago. She bound herself to Jenkins when they brought Isabella into this world together. This case has escalated over the years because of Lisa Miller. She is now hiding out on foreign soil with her daughter -- forcing her daughter to take on an assumed identity away from her friends and family -- all because she refused to permit Jenkins' parental visits. Her contempt for the courts and for Jenkins' parental relationship of Isabella over years led to her losing primary custody. Someone will be going to federal prison because of the situation that Lisa Miller created. Others may follow. All because Lisa Miller refused to honor a visitation order.

I'll post more as I learn of it.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

United Church of Christ Applauds DNC's Support for Gay Marriage

One of the things to come out of the Democratic National Convention was the party's official support for marriage equality. The DNC approved the Democratic Party Platform early this week, which included a section supporting marriage equality, supporting the freedom of churches to decide whether or not they support (or not) same-sex marriage without government interferance, and rejecting the Defense of Marriage Act.

Rev. Mike Schuenemeyer, the UCC's executive for heatlh and wholeness advocacy applauded the decision: "These values belong in the platform of every person running for public office. They respect religious freedome and champion equality under the law. They honor the worth and dignity of every person and are among the core values of our faith." Various other conference and local church leaders throughout the United Church of Christ were also quoted in this article in support of the DNC's pro-marriage stance.

Friday, September 7, 2012

President Obama Is Coming to Iowa City // Plus My Favorite Five Comic Book Presidential Candidates!!

The 2012 Democratic National Convention is finally over and President Barack Obama managed to beat out people like anti-abortion activist Randall Terry and pony-advocate Vermin Supreme for the party's official presidential nomination. For whatever reason, the president decided to come back to Iowa City, IA, for his next big gig. As a result, downtown Iowa City is pretty chaotic and I have decided to hole up at home for a while.

All this thought about the RNC and the DNC and the never-ending political badgering that Iowans are subjected to got me thinking about all of my favorite presidential campaigns. I'm not talking about the Obama/Romney battle (or the Obama/McCain battle or the Bush/Kerry battle or the Bush/Gore battle or the Clinton/Dole battle, etc...). I'm talking about comic book presidential campaigns. There have definitely been more than a few over the years and I thought it might be fun to go through some of my favorite presidential candidates.

If you are a fan of Lex Luthor or Etrigar or Prez or Green Arrow, I need to apologize upfront. I know nothing about their political activities. So while one or more of them might have been stellar candidates, my ignorance will keep them off this list.

Here we go, My Favorite Five List of Comic Book Presidential Candidates:

5. Captain America: Back in the early 80s, Captain America was recruited to run for the presidency and very briefly considered it before deciding that he had no place serving as President of the USA. HOWEVER, Marvel Comics used to publish a cool series called WHAT IF?, which explored alternate story lines, such as What if Spider-Man joined the Fantastic Four? or What if Aunt May got bit by that radioactive spider instead of Peter Parker? WHAT IF? #26 explored the question of what if Captain America joined the New Populist Party and ran as their presidential candidate. Cap's campaign slogan was "America's choice for the 80s". If elected, Cap vowed to take the mask off his costume and let everyone see his secret identity. (As campaign promises go, that one was pretty weak, if you want my opinion.)

Throwing aside the idea that third party votes are wasted votes, Captain America deftly defeated both Ronald Reagan and Jimmy Carter. Unfortunately, President Rogers/Captain America ended up having to personally invade a South American country known as San Pedro and found himself under assault by the Red Skull. Captain America found himself in a no-win situation and ended up sacrificing his life (along with the Red Skull's) and managed to protect America's interests in the process. All this is to say that super heroes should not become presidential leaders because they can't stay out of the fight! But now we know for sure why Captain America shouldn't run for President of the United States!

4. Bill the Cat: Bill the Cat was another third party candidate. He was a disgusting parody of Garfield in the "Bloom County" comic strips. Somehow, Bill the Cat managed to secured the National Radical Meadow Party's presidential nomination... twice, in 1984 and 1988. Unfortunately, he lost both presidential campaign. One of those times was because he coughed up a furball on Connie Chung.

3. Graydon Creed: Have you ever wondered what would happen if Marvel Comics' mutant maniacs Sabretooth and Mystique had a one-night stand and had a baby together? Me neither, but someone did and the result was a anti-mutant hate-monger named Graydon Creed. He founded a group called the Friends of Humanity whose mission was to criminalize mutants. Somehow, the Friends eventually became a political party and Creed got nominated as a third party presidential candidate. He seemed to be doing well before the election, but found himself assassinated on the eve of the election. We later learned that his shape-shifting mother Mystique pulled the trigger in retaliation for something or another.

2. Howard the Duck: Back in the 1970s, Howard the Duck somehow got drafted as the All Night Party's presidential nominee. What followed was a series of assassination attempts and efforts by Big Money donors to corrupt and pervert Howard's campaign. Eventually, Howard's campaign got scuttled after the tabloids published scandalous pictures of him and his girlfriend Beverly lounging in a bubble bath.

1. Philip Nolan Voigt (AKA Overshadow): Back in 1986, I began reading one of my all-time favorite comic book series: DP7. It was the story of seven strangers who enroll in a clinic to help cope with their new super-powers, but who quickly learn that the Clinic is run by a shifty dude who want to manipulate his patients into becoming super agents and warriors. The patients escape and the Clinic's owner is eventually defeated. But his aspirations are not forgotten. The Clinic's founder is Philip Nolan Voigt. He has the power to take on the powers of any other paranormal. Not only that, but his copied powers "overshadow" the powers of the original paranormal.

Voigt resurfaced a year after his plans for the Clinic were scuttled. This time he used his powers on a grander scale. He used them to become the 1988 Democratic presidential candidate. Basically, he telepathically coerced most of America to vote for him. A few of his former patients were immune to his mind tricks and threatened to expose him, so he did what any self-respecting politician would do. He planted hypnotic suggestions in the minds of his other former patients' minds to commit suicide if his powers got exposed.

As hinted above, Voigt easily won the 1988 presidential election. Fortunately for America, another paranormal used the Starbrand to overpower Voigt's powers and they ended up getting short-circuited for a few years before he was able to cause too much mischief.

So how about you? Who is your favorite comic book presidential candidate? And would you vote for them? I want to know!