Category Archives: Politics

Why not me?

I’m 42, soon to be 43, and I’m HIV-. I’m a gay male in the United State who grew up with the warning that if I had gay sex I would get AIDS and die. It hasn’t happened to me.

But why not? Luck. That’s all it can be.

I’m not particularly promiscuous, nor am I a prude, and nothing near a virgin. Sex can be amazing, and why not enjoy it?

I look at my friends, so many of whom are dealing with the disease in their lives. In their bodies. Living with it. Owning it. Not letting it control or destroy them.

Undetectable.

Alive.

Living, loving, and wildly still out there creating and changing the world. Fighting for a better place. Standing tall and proud and not backing down, not for the disease and not for the world, either.

Inspiring. That’s what they are.

I find that, on this day when we yell from the roof tops that AIDS is still here, still very real, and still very bad, that these amazing people stand on the front lines and fight to remove a stigma and that inspires me. I stand with them, beside them, hold their hands and shedding tears at losses just like them.

And because of dumb luck, I’m not on the front lines. I don’t have HIV, that I know, and I need to get tested today as it’s that day, and I’m pretty sure I know how it will come back, but it’s something we do.

I remember my first HIV test. It had to be a blood draw. In a doctors office. And sent away, like a macabre cereal box-top prize that would arrive in a few weeks. And it did. In a plain white envelop, with my name typed on the outside, with a single sheet inside it, and I had to steel myself to open it. I sat in the huge windows of my apartment in Bozeman that overlooked Main street and I cried as I opened the letter, sure that my world was about to crash to nothing.

But it didn’t. I was spared.

I move to Portland not long after, and met amazing, wonderful, talented people. And after a short few months, I got to go to my first funeral for one of those amazing, talented, wonderful people I’d just met. That was weird. It also started a pattern that I’ve kept for nearly 23 years of getting tested every 6 months. Not everyone died, but too many did. I still miss them, even though I can’t recall their real names, only faces or drag names or nick names or something they once said that was so funny I laughed until I cried, and it still brings a touch of joy with a soupçon of melancholy when I do remember it.

I moved to Phoenix, and met more amazing people. I was there when some found out they’d seroconverted. Most are still alive, but not all. Medical science has changed the world, but not eradicated this plague. It’s amazing what we can do, and it’s more amazing what people faced with this choose to do. Inspiring doesn’t really cover it.

I moved to Caribou, and met amazing people, who couldn’t wait to get out of The County and move to a city. I spoke about condoms and caring for yourself, and saw them leave and it was good. And things happen, and it’s not always good things.  But they stand and they fight and life continues for most of them.

I moved to Houston and got a taste of a truly metropolitan city, and worked at a nightclub of outstanding proportions. And I met many who were positive, and knew many who seroconverted and I know they face the challenges head-on and don’t shirk away from the fight. And they are awesome. And still, life continues for many, but not all.

I moved home to Montana. I met a group of gays, and found a life I love, and a community that accepts me for the bombastic asshole I am, knowing that my passion and my inability to shut up can work to make a difference in our lives. I thought maybe I could hold the virus at bay, stop it from creeping into my life here, but I was the first person called when a friend seroconverted, and we got together and I made sure he was ok and wouldn’t do anything to harm himself, and I was pissed at the virus that it was back and I couldn’t stop it. But I wasn’t going to sit down and stop fighting.

So I stand. I fight. For equality. Against the stigma. And when people ask me if I’m HIV+ I have to tell them, no, I’m not. But it’s simple luck, and I still get tested. In fact, I’m getting tested tonight, at 5:30, and while I don’t know the results, and I’m supremely lucky, I get tested with a pall of dread covering my mind because it can happen to anyone. It can happen at any time. It’s still here. It’s still deadly. And it’s not cured.

On this World AIDS Day, I stand with my friends who have been directly afflicted or affected by this scourge and miss so many of you. I want one more time to hold you, to tell you I love you, to give you warmth and a moment of safety, fleeting and imaginary that it may be. I don’t know why it got you. I don’t know why I’m so fucking insanely lucky.

I just know I want it to go away, and never bother anyone again. And I wish those it took were never taken, and that tears at my heart with sharpened claws and bloodied talons. I never want to lose another, but it seems I will because we have no cure.

Except knowledge.

Get tested. Know your status. Get on PrEP. Change the world. Love your friends.

AIDS-Ribbon

Just fucking stop!

Oh, my head.

I’ve read this posting twice, and looked into it enough that I had to reread it another three times, thus reaching a fifth, but one that lacked liquor.

Fuck. Me. Sideways.

There is so much that’s wrong with the current level of disturbing language/signage/garbage surrounding our politics that I’m beyond flabbergasted. I’m appalled. I’m disgusted.

I see people, some of whom I’m related to quite closely, tossing about divisive, destructive, delusional arguments that, when examined, lose whatever microscopic patina of sensible disagreement completely, only to be exposed as the contemptible whining of sore losers. Then there’s the contemptible, vitriolic, asinine boot-licking that oozes out from the other side of the aisle in the hopes that someone will mistake it for caring, thoughtful, discerning governance.

I must pause, because I feel I need to point out that I’m not a lapdog to the liberal side of the aisle, nor am I somehow blinded by and enamored of the conservative side of the aisle. I love my parents very much. They are both very amazing people. My dad and I didn’t always get along. There were times, not so very long ago, when if we spoke to each other more than once every three years, we’d been in contact too often and needed some space. That’s not the case anymore, although we don’t agree on everything and still get into arguments about who is right and who is wrong. Dad tends to think the liberals are wrong, and being lead there by the unions. Can you guess what I tend to think?

Nope. You’re wrong. Thanks for playing.

I tend to think everyone is wrong.

I’m hoping that I’m center of the road, but currently that means I’m pragmatic and thoughtful and I do care, quite a bit, about the human race, I just don’t like much of it. I find the lack of movement on LGBT issues by the Obama administration to be a huge betrayal. Worse, I know it for a horrible mistake on his part, but he won’t listen to me. I find the bitching by the conservatives about the $1Trillion cost of reforming health care, after they just spend $3Trillion on two wars in the Middle East, and almost another $1Trillion on bailing out banks that were “too big to fail”, to be hypocritical at best, and insane and criminal are also possibilities.

Yes, it’s going to cost some money, but listen up fucker, it’s money spent directly on our citizens – that’d be you, your family, friends, neighbors and countrymen – directly. I think that taking out Saddam makes citizens of the US safer, but it’s an indirect benefit. Healthcare would be a direct benefit to all of us, although it won’t solve every fucking problem either.

The liberals want to “make it all better for everyone”, not realizing that the only way to make everything equal on all levels is to whittle everything down to the lowest common denominator. It doesn’t take much past a day in kindergarten to realize that won’t work, but their hearts won’t let them see reality, and their heads are wont to follow.

The conservatives want to make sure that any changes we do make are in the direction of biblical supremacy and theocracy, but they like to hide it under the guise of “the directives of the Founding Fathers” and that other bastardized bastion of the weak-minded, “Original Intent” which has come to mean “shit we like, so there, nyah”. They also want to make sure that if anyone is spending their money, it’s not the damn government.

Which brings me nicely to the article that prompted this post. Let me quote you the good parts:

“These individuals came all the way from Southeast Texas to protest the excessive spending and growing government intrusion by the 111th Congress and the new Obama administration,” Brady wrote. “These participants, whose tax dollars were used to create and maintain this public transit system, were frustrated and disappointed that our nation’s capital did not make a great effort to simply provide a basic level of transit for them.” — Rep. Kevin Brady, R-Texas

No, for real. Read that shit again. I’ll wait.

Done? All five times? Are your eyes trying to backflip in your head, or have they just succumbed to the stupidity and are now bleeding?

First off, if there is an investigation opened on this, it will be, by virtue of the fact that DC Metro is part of, well DC, which is Federal, so this would be a Federal Issue. A Federal Issue that will cost Federal Money. Federal Money that those very same protesters were trying to tell this idiot to stop spending like it’s going out of style.

Second, Metro is under attack from all fronts – political, obviously, but also from time and age, the metropolitan area’s growth, the ridership, etc. Metro doesn’t have the resources to up the trains for the event, and thus couldn’t even if they wanted to.

Third, they didn’t want to. Or, more precisely, there wasn’t a real need for more trains. If you’re going to any big event, like an NFL, NBA, or NHL game (ha! could happen), it’s just like going to the airport – go early, pack the night before, don’t bring a gun (even if you’re in Arizona and you can, don’t) and know that you will be delayed. Metro can handle anything, if people are patient and plan ahead a bit. I know, I was there for a hugely busy event called Gay Pride, and it was fine. Yes, I had to wait for the next train. Yes it was *gasp* nearly 15 minutes away. How. Did. I. Survive?

We may never know.

Regardless, as using a publicly-funded socialist/communist system such as the Metro-rail is counter to your argument – since it is paid for by all for the betterment of all and it is therefore a completely socialist system – your group should have worked together and pooled your money and gotten buses that could transport everyone just like they do in communist Portland, OR fucking walked. After all, it was a MARCH ON WASHINGTON.

Those that took cabs did what this 9.12 movement says it’s really all about – keeping their money and spending it their way on things that help them, as the government cannot be trusted to build something that works. Those of you who are going to try to be a smart ass with me (bad move, I’ve got that gig down), I will cut you off at the pass by pointing out that just because it doesn’t work the way someone expects doesn’t mean it’s broken. (Except for Windows.)

So, Rep. Brady, think about what you are going to do next. And then think again. Maybe three or four more times. And then just drop it. Don’t apologize, we know it won’t be sincere, and frankly, it isn’t needed. Just pretend you were never speaking.

It’s what I’m trying to do with the lot of you.

The shot speech heard round the world

There are so many things to point out about what went right for the McCain camp today with their announcement of Sarah Palin for Veep. Perhaps the most right was her speech. Not because she said so much that it’s clear that she’s the real deal, but because she, in her first stump before national and international press, she was cool, calm, focused, and clever. And it’s the clever part that made it.

It’s quite possible someone else wrote parts of her speech. After watching McCain turn on his maverick positions to solidify the base, we know that someone has been Roving him with “if you want to get elected, just say this, you don’t have to mean it, it’s just to get their vote” for a while. So it’s entirely possible that one of them wrote this speech. I just doubt it because it was too clean, to wide, and too specific to be from that camp.

Here’s the video, you can watch it again if you missed it.

Most specifically, the parts where she first starts to outline the best parts of McCain (emphasis added):

And this is a man who has always been there to serve his country, not just his party. And this is a moment that requires resolve and toughness, and strength of heart in the American president. And my running mate is a man who has shown those qualities in the darkest of places, and in the service of his country.

Gang, it doesn’t get any clearer than that. The possessive is dangerous most times, but it was brilliantly used here to show McCain’s sacrifice and to service, and in a very “This land is your land, this land is my land, from the friggin beltway to the bridge to nowhere” sort of way. She didn’t play into the politics of ultra-inclusiveness, the politics of “we”; she played up the individual, the politics of “I”, which, for Republicans, has to be a sigh of relief – after all, political accountability can only come from personal responsibility. She came across as a Woman of the West, to me, which, of course, she is. She’s a hunter, a member of the NRA, and today she proved she can hit a bulls-eye.

She stood proud-yet-humble, strong, humane, and approachable. Yes, she’s a hockey mom. Yes, she’s relatively new to politics. Yes, she’s a chance. But her speech proved that she’s a good bet, even if the odds are long. Not because she’s just like everyone else, but because she’s just enough like us to relate, but seems to shine with the good qualities we all look for in ourselves.

I don’t know what my mom thinks, but I’m sure she’ll post something over there soon. Regardless, The Fight™, it’s on!

Rights and Restrictions

This week the Supremes are coming out of a 69-year long hibernation and taking up the issue of Gun Control. Dahlia Lithwick’s coverage over at Slate has been both about the court and about the dubious activities from the Bush administration. I don’t get a good feel for where she stands on the issues, but she tends to be liberal, so I’m guessing she’s for gun control. I happen to be for *some* gun control, but not for eliminating them entirely. Which is a much harder stance than it should be. But that’s not what I want to discuss. I want to discuss the U.S. Constitution’s Second Amendment, so let’s first quote that mutha:

A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

Now, I’m not going to get into the debate about the commas and capitalizations, you can read up on that yourself. It’s worth it, but only academically, as it serves to incredibly cloud what is, in reality, a very clear issue.

As Ms. Lithwick states, the problem comes from interpretation. Which is a nice way of saying it’s a PEBKAC error. Or an I.D.10t error. Ok, fine, it’s the reader, not the words, and whether the reader comes to the conclusion that the militia is a group right or that having arms is an individual right. And this is where it’s good to point out that this bit of inked flotsam is a fucking amendment, and therefore follows the tenor and impressions of the document that is amended by it. And since that document is the Constitution, which only does two things, we should first look to those things.

The first thing the Constitution does is establishes the rights of people. Why? Because it’s the people who then, as a group, determine the functions of government. The only other task that the Constitution does is restrict the rights of government. Those are the only things that the entire document does. Nothing more, nothing less. Don’t believe me? Read it. And all those places where it outlines the branches of government and all that jazz – that’s where it explicitly tells other branches what they can’t do, and who has what power and how it’s all balanced. That’s more restrictions on government. Rights are for people – period.

Now, is this always followed? Nope, but any amendment that does the reverse and takes away people’s rights while giving more power to the government, like the one about “Thou Shall Not Drink” are reversed.

Which leads me back to the lovely Second Amendment. While I am certainly a child of the last 69 years, having only been alive for about half of that time, I’m not a pawn of the NRA. I have my own brain, I choose to use it every once in a while. Like now.

The Second Amendment gives people a right to bear arms. Nothing more, nothing less. The “well-regulated militia”, the reason given, is just that, a reason. The states’ ability to form and keep militia is outlined earlier in the Constitution itself, along with all the responsibilities of it. But remember the time this was written. It took 20 days for the Continental Congress to recess and reconvene when delegates from South Carolina needed to confer with their leaders. There wasn’t a telephone, and certainly no way to drop lift in a battalion at any of the battlefields. Citizens had to defend themselves, and they needed to keep guns to do so. Which is why this is patently obvious as just a reason for the next bit.

Now, to be clear, I’m not one of the nutjobs that advocates getting rid of the government because they suck, but if the U.S. were attacked and I were forced to protect those I love, I’d rather not do it with kitchen utensils. Sporks aren’t nearly as effective as guns when faced with Hamas. Do I honestly believe this will be needed? Not in my lifetime, I hope, but why not be prepared?

As for those nutjobs? They are why I think some gun control is good. How to do this is harder than it should be, but there’s got to be a way. And we should keep striving for it.

To me, the Second Amendment is clear – the people have the right to bear arms because the people may need to become a militia to defend themselves. In modern terms it would be worded different, but the meaning would be the same. Probably something like

People may need to gather and become a local militia if the infrastructure of the USA and/or their state is compromised or destroyed. Because of that potential need, people have the unrestricted right to bear arms although they are never absolved of the responsibility of ownership of such lethal, powerful items.

It all boils down to people have this right so that government, our own or another, can’t take any rights away through force. “Live free or Die” isn’t a bumper sticker, my friend.

Politic-tick-boom Montana

Yep, just when it seemed that we could finally have a news report that wouldn’t include the phrase “latest poll results” we hear that the twits who thought that Ron Paul was a good idea have, now that McCain has the nomination, lost their shit. And no, it’s not funny. These people are off kilter already, and now they are mad, which has turned them into a mob, complete with torches and sack-cloth tunics. But I digress.

Roger Koopman has decided that there are 14 Republican traitors that need to not be re-elected. And here’s the best part, Koopman is already a complete right-wingnut with a special phone direct to Jesus and a rather spiteful hatred of anything that he doesn’t understand. While he may have a triple-digit IQ (I have no idea) after reading what he’s got to say, and what he plans on doing, I’m pretty sure that the first digit is a zero. Why? Oh because

Assisting Koopman in “the liberty project” is David Hart, state coordinator for Republican Ron Paul’s presidential campaign in Montana, who, via e-mail, urged Paul’s “Montana Freedom Fighters” to help recruit candidates.

is why. I don’t know if you caught it, but given that my readership is generally outside of Montana, let me tell you.

Realize that this is Montana, The Last Best Place. Well, the last best place to hide while writing a manifesto and sending out mail-bombs, Teddy. And Teddy was merely one of the more notorious figures nationwide because of where he sent the bombs. Had he just mailed them in Montana, he’d have been relegated to the slag heap of history with the rest of Montana’s nutjobs.

Nutjobs that tend to be hiding in plain sight in my lovely home state. Nutjobs that Ron Paul has riled up and organized. You know what happened the last time nutjobs got organized in this state? They went nuts.

Let me sum up this little gem from 1996 for you:

  • Nutjobs near Jordan, MT, keep hearing about the national debt.
  • Nutjobs start bitching about the debt. None can shut up about it. Ever.
  • Nutjobs decide to do something, because something must be done.
  • Nutjobs do what is obviously the right thing to do to reduce the debt the U.S. has to other nations.

Allow me to interject, as you might be thinking “Gee, Hamm, that doesn’t seem too bad. What is your problem?” and if I weren’t from Montana, I would be thinking exactly that. But I’m from here. I know these people. Trust me, it’s not going to end well. Just from going over the story I hear their voices in my head as they verbalized their hatred and distrust of “the gubbament”.

  • They decided to try to create their own, new, country, complete with a court system and currency.
  • They then placed liens on property owned by people who worked for “the gubbament”. The liens were, of course, authorized by the new country’s courts. (Presumably, The Honorable Bubba Cockbite presiding.)
  • The money from those liens was to be collected and used make a “good faith” payment on our national debt. (Which, if you followed along, would be the debt of a foreign nation – if any of this crap had been legal!)

Yes folks, Montana. Lovely state. Great skiing. Amazing summers. Fantastic wilderness, resources, and even a lot of good people. I can’t forget the good people, just because I’m pointing out that we grow the World’s Largest Nuts™ – only ours don’t grow on trees, but they do have the ability to vote. These are the people that Ron Paul and his Baffling Brigand of Bigots have decided to rile up. These are the people that they’ve decided to organize and aim at a target.

Are you following along here? Do you get how very dangerous this is? Just in case you don’t, it’s like covering a baby in bacon and tossing it to a pitbull. And like those 81 days in 1996, this, too, won’t end well.