VOTE on SF Pride! Do you want a) an anti-war whistleblower, or b) a pro-war, bomb-promoting, racist, rape-inciting float in your Parade?

DECISION 2013The God’s honest truth is, I forgot that the Bradley Manning fiasco isn’t the first time I have been irritated by San Francisco Pride. A year ago I wrote about this really remarkable float that materialized in the Parade:

We must take all measures necessary to stop Iran from obtaining dildos NOW: Iran180 float at SF Pride, 2012

We must take all measures necessary to stop Iran from obtaining dildos NOW: “Iran 180” float at SF Pride, 2012

That racist, rape-excusing representation of a leather queen forcibly sodomizing an Iranian politician decked a float which was crowbarred into the 2012 festivities by the neocon, astroturf, pro-war front group Iran 180. After I described it, the image began to haunt my dreams so intensely and disturbingly that only a truckload of sleeping pills and a botched prefrontal lobotomy could excise Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and the nuclear-tipped dildo from my fantasies.

But now I remember; now I see. It’s OK in the eyes of SF Pride officials to embrace a float indulging in racist stereotyping, promoting war, and inciting sexual assault. What’s not OK is to invite an antiwar activist who exposed US human rights abuses and lies. Kapish!

Glenn Greenwald wrote yesterday about all the corporate miscreants whom Pride welcomes while barring Bradley Manning, because, after all, unlike Manning, they have money. But I think the Rape Float is in its own special category.

No doubt the honchos of Pride would insist that they don’t actually censor floats at the Parade; just Grand Marshals. First off, I don’t believe them. If the God-hates-fags fanatics at Westboro Baptist Church tried to fit a float in the procession, would the Board agree? If the KKK offered its decorative services, would they be gratefully accepted? Doubtful; It’s just anti-Iranian racism that in the current circumstances passes muster. And second: Bradley Manning was elected Grand Marshal of the 2013 Parade, by a somewhat larger electorate than the nine-member Board. Nobody voted for the Ahmadinejad grotesquerie, except the paid flacks and propagandists of Iran 180 and their funders.

US Special Forces patrol the sector of Market Street near Duboce Ave., just outside the SF Pride headquarters

They free us for our hatreds: US Special Forces patrol the sector of Market Street near Duboce Ave., just outside the SF Pride headquarters

SF Pride, however, has promised a new Dawn of Democracy in the Bay Area, possibly facilitated by US military occupation of its offices. The official statement by Lisa Williams, Administrator of the Coalition Provisional Board of Directors of SF Pride, condemned

a system whereby a less-than-handful of people may decide who represents the LGBT community’s highest aspirations as grand marshals for SF Pride. This is a systemic failure that now has become apparent and will be rectified. … [A]s an organization with a responsibility to serve the broader community, SF Pride repudiates this vote. The Board of Directors for SF Pride never voted to support this nomination.

The Purple Revolution comes to the Castro: You should see my other organs

The Purple Revolution comes to the Castro: You should see my other organs

Great!  Since the Board of Directors is suddenly conscious of its “responsibility to the broader community,” I suggest the broader community help it out by practicing that most elemental of democratic freedoms, the one the US promotes with such success from Florida to Fallujah: Voting.  Cast your ballots now! The question is:

Would you rather have Bradley Manning at Pride — an antiwar activist who exposed US secrets and is certainly controversial? Or a rerun of the Rape Float — from a secretive group claiming falsely to be “grassroots,” promoting war and inciting dildo-wielding racial hatred, and uncontroversial only because from its comfy PR offices it takes easy shots at politically easy targets?

You can cast your votes by writing SF Pride at info@sfpride.org;  social@sfpride.org; and donations@sfpride.org. Or you can call them at +01 (415) 864-0831.

Send them your vote now!  After all, as even Binyamin Netanyahu knows, when it comes to our tools — sexual and otherwise — our choices are the most important thing.

Netanyahu-bomb-9-1

Poem of the day

Painting on the junta's Qasr al-Aini wall, Cairo, via @GSquare86

Auden wrote this in 1945 after serving in occupied Germany. It’s a useful reminder for wall-builders and wall-destroyers alike.

From Memorial for the City (by W. H. Auden, 1907-1973)

Across the square,
Between the burnt-out Law Courts and Police Headquarters,
Past the Cathedral far too damaged to repair,
Around the Grand Hotel patched up to hold reporters,
Near huts of some Emergency Committee,
The barbed wire runs through the abolished City.

Across the plains,
Between two hills, two villages, two trees, two friends,
The barbed wire runs which neither argues nor explains
But where it likes a place, a path, a railroad ends,
The humour, the cuisine, the rites, the taste,
The pattern of the City, are erased.

Across our sleep
The barbed wire also runs: It trips us so we fall
And white ships sail without us though the others weep,
It makes our sorry fig-leaf at the Sneerers’ Ball,
It ties the smiler to the double bed,
It keeps on growing from the witch’s head.

Behind the wire
Which is behind the mirror, our Image is the same,
Awake or dreaming: It has no image to admire,
No age, no sex, no memory, no creed, no name,
It can be counted, multiplied, destroyed
In any place, at any time destroyed.

Is it our friend?
No: that is our hope; that we weep and It does not grieve;
That for it the wire and the ruins are not the end;
This is the flesh we are but never would believe,
The flesh we die but it is death to pity;
This is Adam waiting for his city.

Poem of the day

Van Gogh, Wheat Field with Cypresses, 1889

Late Ripeness (by Czeslaw Miłosz, 1911-2004) 

Not soon, as late as the approach of my ninetieth year,
I felt a door opening in me and I entered
the clarity of early morning.

One after another my former lives were departing,
like ships, together with their sorrow.

And the countries, cities, gardens, the bays of seas
assigned to my brush came closer,
ready now to be described better than they were before.

I was not separated from people,
grief and pity joined us.
We forget  — I kept saying — that we are all children of the King.

For where we come from there is no division
into Yes and No, into is, was, and will be.

We were miserable, we used no more than a hundredth part
of the gift we received for our long journey.

Moments from yesterday and from centuries ago –
a sword blow, the painting of eyelashes before a mirror
of polished metal, a lethal musket shot, a caravel
staving its hull against a reef – they dwell in us,
waiting for a fulfillment.

I knew, always, that I would be a worker in the vineyard,
as are all men and women living at the same time,
whether they are aware of it or not.

A who’s who of the Iranian firewall

A friend from Iran sent me this link tonight; it’s amusing, in a disturbed and disturbing sort of way.   The “Iran Firewall Test” allows you to “use the Internet in Iran in real time” to explore what people in the country can access or not through ordinary Web means. What’s blocked, and what’s not? Enter your favorite website, and see.

There are already mysteries I’ve stumbled on in five minutes of playing with it. Why is Salon blocked while Slate isn’t?  Why does the New Republic lie afoul of the firewall but not — get this — Commentary? Barack Obama’s reelection effort isn’t censored; the White House is. Mitt Romney’s campaign site is open to any Iranian to view; perhaps the ultimate step in his political evolution is to succeed Ahmadinejad. So, too, World Net Daily, the rabid right-wing Christian page (“American’s Independent News Network”) can be perused by the most militant of Teheranis. But you can’t get Wonkette.  Iranians will never learn the true meaning of Santorum.” Dan Savage’s column is blocked, and so is Dr. Ruth, and so is Rex Wockner’s blog. But neither COYOTE in LA nor SWEAT in South Africa — both of them sex workers’ advocacy organizations — is. You can get to the Ford Foundation but not the Soros Foundation. You can get the Colbert Report and the Daily Show, but not Saturday Night Live.

This little blog is unblocked, at the moment, a dubious honor; if you want anything read in Iran, just let me know and I’ll facilitate it.  One feels like reciting Brecht’s poem:

When the Regime commanded that books with harmful knowledge
Should be publicly burned and on all sides
Oxen were forced to drag cartloads of books
To the bonfires, a banished
Writer, one of the best, scanning the list of the burned, was shocked to find that his
Books had been passed over. He rushed to his desk
On wings of wrath, and wrote a letter to those in power ,
Burn me! he wrote with flying pen, burn me! Haven’t my books
Always reported the truth ? And here you are
Treating me like a liar! I command you:
Burn me!

Poem of the day

The Midnight Skaters (by Edmund Blunden,1896-1974)

The hop-poles stand in cones,
The icy pond lurks under,
The pole-tops steeple to the thrones
Of stars, sound gulfs of wonder;
But not the tallest there, ’tis said,
Could fathom to this pond’s black bed.

Then is not death at watch
Within those secret waters?
What wants he but to catch
Earth’s heedless sons and daughters?
With but a crystal parapet
Between, he has his engines set.

Then on, blood shouts, on, on,
Twirl, wheel and whip above him,
Dance on this ball-floor thin and wan,
Use him as though you love him;
Court him, elude him, reel and pass,
And let him hate you through the glass.

Poem of the day

Rick Santorum says the Obama administration is soft on smut. “Hard-core pornography is very damaging, particularly to young people,” he declared, just like contraception, gays, and man-on-dog action. “A wealth of research is now available demonstrating that pornography causes profound brain changes in both children and adults, resulting in widespread negative consequences.”

With Santorum teasing the effects of booby pictures out of your brainwaves, and with our possible first Mormon president meanwhile buying up inert convention delegates like so many rubber dildos, this might be the moment to remember Reed Smoot. Back in 1930 the Utah Republican — the first Mormon ever to serve in the US Senate — proposed severe new tariffs on imports. (The “Smoot-Hawley Tariff” bill, passed that year, strangled trade and deepened the Great Depression.) During debate, Smoot also urged giving customs officers powers to keep “obscene” literature from the US.  From behind a Senate desk heaped with exhibits of “beastly” books, including such foreign filth as the Kama Sutra, Rabelais, and the poems of Robert Burns, Smoot demanded a ban on whatever offended “the moral sense of the average person.”

This response appeared in the New Yorker. It includes a Hall of Fame of ephemeral national heroes, unimpeachably moral figures, Prohibition supporters, and diehard Republicans of the time. How little has changed.

Invocation (by Ogden Nash, 1902-1971)

SMOOT PLANS TARIFF BAN ON IMPROPER BOOKS – News Item

Senator Smoot (Republican, Ut.)
Is planning a ban on smut.
Oh rooti-ti-toot for Smoot of Ut.,
And his reverend occiput.
Smite, Smoot, smite for Ut.,
Grit your molars and do your dut.,
Gird up your l–ns,
Smite h-p and th-gh,
We’ll all be Kansas
By and by.

Smite, Smoot, for the Watch and Ward,
For Hiram Johnson and Henry Ford,
For Bishop Cannon and John D., Junior,
For ex-Gov. Pinchot of Pennsylvunia,
For John S. Sumner and Elder Hays
And possibly Edward L. Bernays,
For Orville Poland and Ella Boole,
For Mother Machree and the Shelton pool.
When smut’s to be smitten
Smoot will smite
For G-d, for country,
And Fahrenheit.

Senator Smoot is an institute
Not to be bribed with pelf;
He guards our homes from erotic tomes
By reading them all himself.
Smite, Smoot, smite for Ut.,
They’re smuggling smut from Balt. to Butte!
Strongest and sternest
Of your s-x
Scatter the scoundrels
From Can. to Mex!

Smite, Smoot, for Smedley Butler,
For any good man by the name of Cutler,
Smite for the W.C.T.U,
For Rockne‘s team and for Leader‘s crew,
For Florence Coolidge and Admiral Byrd,
For Billy Sunday and John D., Third,
For Grantland Rice and for Albie Booth,
For the Woman’s Auxiliary of Duluth,
Smite, Smoot,
Be rugged and rough,
Smut if smitten
Is front-page stuff.

Poem of the Day

Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia

Prague, August 1968

August 1968 (by W. H. Auden, 1907-1973)

The Ogre does what ogres can,
Deeds quite impossible for Man,
But one prize is beyond his reach:
The Ogre cannot master Speech.

About a subjugated plain,
Among its desperate and slain,
The Ogre stalks with hands on hips,
While drivel gushes from his lips.

(N.B. Auden wrote the poem about the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia. Although he was politically conservative by this late point in his life — and supported the US war in Vietnam — some suspected it might also refer to the police violence at the Democratic Convention in Chicago in 1968.)

Chicago, August 1968

Poem of the day

The Typists (by P. K. Page, 1916-2010)

They, without message, having read
the running words on their machines,
know every letter as a stamp
cutting the stencils of their ears.
Deep in their hands, like pianists,
all longing gropes and moves, is trapped
behind the tensile gloves of skin.

Or, blind, sit with their faces locked
away from work. Their varied eyes
stiff as everlasting flowers.
While fingers on a different plane
perform the automatic act
as questions grope along the dark
and twisting corridors of brain.

Crowded together typists touch
softly as ducks and seem to sense
each other’s anguish with the swift
sympathy of the deaf and dumb.