«These debates remind me of an old, old television show called To Tell the Truth where a panel of celebrities tried to identify a remarkable character from a group of imposters. The show always ended with the host demanding that the true character reveal himself. And had the final Presidential Debate followed the same format, you would have heard something like this:
“Will the real Willard Mitt Romney, please stand up!”
We needed that revelation tonight because, truthfully, it was hard to know if Romney was even there; he sounded so much like Barack Obama! Quite clearly, Romney was aiming to fix his bullyish, antagonistic image, especially with women voters. In his 2nd sentence of the night, answering a question about America’s role in the Middle East, Romney hoped for the “greater participation of women in public life”. Whoa… who is this guy? Clearly not the guy who collects binders full of women.
Unlike the previous town hall debate, where Romney got a little nasty, this debate showcased a milder mannered Mitt. He even had the gall to admonish the President for attacking him!! “Attacking me is not talking about how we address these issues”…. What chutzpah!
That little performance had to be a little disconcerting for Obama who has been jousting with that other Romney fellow for the better part of a year, carving out a political platform on which to stand so that the American voter can make a clear choice. But tonight, Romney honed his chameleon skills, fading from attacker to samaritan, from hawk to dove, from patrician to man of the people. It was an Oscar-worthy performance that registered surprise on Obama’s face. It must be hard to hit a moving target, especially one you can’t even recognize.
Following the second debate, Charles Pierce from Esquire Magazine wrote a scathing review of the Republican candidate, identifying the many personas of Mitt Romney. There was the arrogant white guy, the whiny frat boy, and the obnoxious bully: Lofty, Snippy and Dickhead. Tonight we met a fourth character, Shifty, who sounded a lot like Lofty reading from the book of Obama. In fact, he appeared to agree with Obama on almost every foreign policy matter, with just occasional hawkish interjections from you know who. While Shifty applauded the president for his use of sanctions to deter Iran’s pursuit of nuclear weapons, Dickhead insisted America should take a stronger stand: tougher sanctions and more international pressure. Whatever that means. Obama called him on this puffery, suggesting that the same ideas, spoken in a louder voice, do not constitute a difference. Or do they? Would Dickhead actually take us into another war? Hard to know, because Shifty is constantly playing to the audience, spewing whatever rhetoric will win him a vote. It’s impossible to pin him down on details.
Honestly, this debate was a bit of a bore. If it wasn’t for the surprise guest that inhabits Romney’s every performance, we may have opted for the baseball playoffs. The focus was supposed to be foreign policy, but eventually the talking points all came back to the economy and we were inundated, once again, with the same glut of tired statistics we’ve heard too many times before. But this is where Shifty likes to take the conversation because the economy is in the tank and he is a self-described successful businessman. But look at the business he was in. He made his reputation executing leveraged buyouts, purchasing companies in financial straits that need a cash infusion to stay alive. But often these companies were destroyed, the employees laid off, the pension funds ransacked and the assets sold. That’s the business Shifty was in. This is the guy that says he “knows business”, he knows “how to create jobs”. This is the guy that wants to take charge of our economy! Sure, and while were at it, let’s put the undertaker in charge of nutrition. Makes about as much sense.
At this point, we’re more than a little tired of the endless campaigning. And although Shifty has made the process a little more exciting by keeping us guessing, we are ready to get on with it. Tonight, thankfully, was the last of the debates. When next you hear from us, our fate will be decided. If Obama is given another term, you will hear a collective sigh of relief. It will mean that Americans, who finally came to their senses in 2008, are still hanging onto a thread of sanity. On the other hand, if the crown is handed to Shifty and his friends… well, let’s not go there.»
After the first debate between Barack Obama and Joe Biden and the VP debate, Susan Wood is back on Yagg commenting on the second presidential debate, with the help of her friend Paige Braddock (thanks to them both!).
«The second Presidential showdown took the form of a town hall debate, a forum where regular folks get to ask regular questions… questions that concern their everyday lives. It is a format intended to give us a more intimate view of the candidates as they interact with real people. It was a refreshing change that proved interesting.
About a year ago, when Romney was holding steady in the Republican primary campaign, it seemed that 2012 might prove to be the most polite, least negative election process the US has seen in a long time. President Obama is certainly a statesman with impeccable manners. And Mitt seemed to comport himself as a gentleman during the primary debates. So this election had the potential to be different. But things have changed. Perhaps the veneer of politeness is simply wearing thin. Mitt has recently been labeled a bully, and, as one pundit put it: “the bully got whipped tonight”.
Much of the debate focused on the economy: the usual questions and the predictable answers that we’ve heard many times by now. But a few questions delved into new territory and elicited some interesting responses.
First a question directed at Romney came from an undecided voter that was concerned about repeating the past: “what is the biggest difference between you and George W. Bush”. Hmm, I think I can answer this:
Bush was the guy with a big chip on his shoulder.
Mitt is the guy with the crown of entitlement on his head.
It was a bit humorous watching Mitt dance with that question, trying to distance himself from the previous Republican administration without upsetting the Bush supporters. In the process he had to admit that Bush left the country with a huge budget deficit and a trade imbalance with China.
It was equally surprising to hear Obama’s distinction between Mitt and Bush, because he painted Bush as more humanitarian. Ouch! That is setting the bar pretty dang low.
Gas prices have taken a big jump lately. And there has been a steady price increase during Obama’s tenure. Of course Mitt blames him for this. Never mind the laws of supply and demand, the manipulations of Wall Street speculators and the complex machinery of oil and gas production. Mitt boils it all down to drilling. Drill, baby drill. Mitt insists that we should open up public lands for drilling. But you have to ask where those lands are. You can bet some of these are national park lands and open space. Mitt is not a big supporter of government preservation of open space. He’d rather see it returned to the private sector.
Let’s move on to gun violence. What are the candidates going to do to reduce the increasing gun related crime in this country? Both candidates want to reduce violence but Mitt is against additional laws that outlaw automatic weapons. (I guess the National Rifle Association might think that’s too restrictive.) Like Obama, Mitt supports education as a deterrent to street crimes. And marriage.Mitt thinks folks should get married before having children and that will reduce crime. He’s equating single parenting with increased violence. With very few words, he insults every single parent on the planet. (Not to mention every gay parent, single or not, that doesn’t have the right to marry!). Perhaps he’s confusing the facts… it is the lack of planned parenthood and the sad reality of unwanted children that contribute to crime more to crime in this country and around the world. Too bad Mitt’s doesn’t embrace planned parenthood and marriage equality!
When asked if the American people misunderstand Romney the man, Mitt responds with this: “….I care about 100% of the American people”. Holy love-in! That’s a lot of caring. Not a lot of points for sincerity with that answer. What about the 47%? You know, those slackers that feed from the public trough. Does he really care about those people? And the 12 million illegal immigrants? Those are the folks he intends to make so uncomfortable that they will leave the country voluntarily. Does he care about them too? Oh that’s right. He doesn’t have to. They’re not Americans.
For awhile there Mitt was just a rich, arrogant, white kid. But the more he talks, the more he seems like a wolf in sheep’s clothing.
Does Mitt’s caring extend to women? If so, why doesn’t he support the Lilly Ledbetter act so that women are guaranteed equal pay for equal work? He didn’t really answer that, but he did share his efforts to find and hire qualified women for his state cabinet:
“And I — and I went to my staff, and I said, “How come all the people for these jobs are — are all men.” They said, “Well, these are the people that have the qualifications.” And I said, “Well, gosh, can’t we — can’t we find some — some women that are also qualified?”
And — and so we — we took a concerted effort to go out and find women who had backgrounds that could be qualified to become members of our cabinet. I went to a number of women’s groups and said, can you help us find folks? And I brought us whole binders full of — of women.”
Binders full of women? Why does that sound like cages full of dogs…
Gosh, Mitt, would you strap your grandmother to the roof of the car too?»
Watch the debate:
If you can’t see the video, click on Complete Second Presidential Town Hall Debate 2012: Barack Obama vs. Mitt Romney – Oct 16, 2012
Drawing by Paige Braddock
After the first debate between Barack Obama and Joe Biden, Susan Wood is commenting on the VP debate, with the help of her friend Paige Braddock, whose famous character, Jane, found her way into the drawing…
«It’s inspiring, isn’t it, to witness true leadership in action, calm in the face of fury, critical thinking in the midst of chaos. These are the qualities we have been looking for! Eureka! Martha for President!
In the aftermath of the VP debate, we all had a mad little crush on the debate moderator, Martha Raddatz, a journalist and writer with a deep understanding of foreign affairs. And no we aren’t serious about a write-in candidate for president, but let me revel in this crush just a moment longer. It was a pleasure to watch Martha handle the debate process. In fact, it’s thrilling when someone on the political stage actually makes sense. It’s akin to rain falling on scorched earth.
But more to the point… this debate was lively. And a bit confusing. The discussion about foreign matters was all over the place. It was hard to tell if there was actually substantial disagreement between the two parties until it came to this question:
Raddatz asked: «What’s worse: another war in the Middle East or a nuclear armed Iran.» We liked Biden’s response. The sanctions against Iran are working. War is a last resort. Bring American soldiers home.
On the issue of Medicare and social security, honestly, we were all struggling to make sense of the answers. Clearly these systems won’t go on forever without some help, but Ryan’s plan gave us the impression that we will all be out trying to buy insurance in our golden years. We didn’t like that answer. We’ll go with Biden who was strident about the need to care for the elderly.
Then Raddatz raised the topic of abortion, and posed the question like this: “tell me what role your religion has played in your own personal views on abortion. …. And please, this is such an emotional issue for so many”.
Biden’s response wins again. He does not believe that he, or the government, has the right to tell a woman what she can or cannot do with her body. Amen!
Ryan, on the other hand, is against abortion and doesn’t think the issue should be decided by the court. That’s a provocative statement that he didn’t follow up on. He’s either advocating for state’s rights or perhaps a constitutional amendment. Both are scary thoughts and especially threatening given that four sitting judges on the Supreme Court are over the age of 70. It’s likely that at least two of these seats could be replaced by the next administration. The most likely of these are two seats previously appointed by President Clinton, which means that two liberal or centrist judges could be replaced by a conservative president, swinging the court to the right. This could result in Roe v. Wade (a woman’s right to choose) being overturned. Not good at all.
So these were the salient points that caused the small group of friends in my living room to give the night to Biden.
All in all, this election process is tiresome. It’s too long, it’s too expensive and most of the chatter is a giant waste of time. So Martha scored another point when, toward the end of the night, she relayed the sentiment from an American soldier who complained that these election campaigns are very negative. And then she posed this bold question: “… at the end of the day, are you ever embarrassed by the tone?”
If you can’t see the video, click on Complete Vice Presidential Debate 2012: Joe Biden vs. Paul Ryan –
Drawing by Paige Braddock
For Yagg, Susan Wood, an out lesbian from California, has agreed to comment on the first presidential debate, which took place last night in Denver, between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney:
Tonight a small group of my neighbors gathered to watch the debates… a gathering we labeled “Lies and Pies”. (There was an assortment of savory and sweet pies for dinner, along with an assortment of unsavory and not so sweet lies for entertainment.) We had recorded the event so as not to miss any of it, and about half way through we hit the pause button on the DVR in order to lessen the tension in the room. Some folks were starting to shout at the television, others covered their eyes as if they couldn’t watch anymore, and those with even smaller spleens opted to go hang out in the kitchen.
Because it felt as if we were watching a boxing match where one guy is up against the ropes and taking punch after punch without fighting back.
What was that about? It was disappointing, especially after all the bad press Romney has gotten lately with the leaked 47% video, the foreign relations faux pas, and the taped awkward exchange he had with a gay man who asked if Romney would support same sex marriage.
The list goes on. And Obama didn’t take him to task for any of it!
Romney played to the left all night long. And while these leanings would usually speak to me, I find them impossible to believe. He’s an unapologetic elitist who is now attempting to steal the votes of the undecided. And indeed, he said all the right things while the president appeared to remain passive. It was simply baffling.
It seems to me that Romney presented a completely changed platform claiming that he is all for the struggling middle of the road American family, when, in fact, his profile over the past year has been anything but this… witness the video leaked about two weeks ago where he criticized nearly half of this country’s citizens for taking public handouts. Tonight these same ‘freeloaders’ are apparently his new pet project. He now claims to be willing to take from the rich to give to the poor (ie: tax cuts for middle income families and none for the rich). Apparently he’s decided to embrace those nasty socialist themes like redistribution of wealth. What do I think? I think he’s lying through his teeth. I think he is playing to the voters he wants to impress while winking at his cronies in the box seats. I also think it is much easier to make bold claims when you are not the guy that has to show up at the office tomorrow morning and actually govern the nation, … when you are not the guy who has been battling to fix our hugely fucked up economic mess while shutting down a war… two wars. And when you are not the guy who has been trying to get things done in the presence of an uncooperative congress.
Meanwhile, Obama answered questions at a slow pace, and tried to convey details that will be lost on most of the public. That’s the thing about these debates. There’s a deluge of huge numbers bandied about and it is difficult to digest, even if you do believe it. Take the $716B “cut” that Obama is supposedly making to medicare. I think that whole discussion was twisted to look like the cuts would be taken directly from the insured, when I believe that the “cuts” are savings brought about by changes to make the system more efficient.
But, in the end Romney dominated the evening and that is very disturbing. He successfully used the words ‘trickle down’ to describe Obama’s economic plan. Hard to believe that reference went unchecked! And, ironically, he managed to label the president “partisan”. And again, Obama was so restrained. In my opinion, Obama has held onto the ideal of bi-partisan cooperation way passed the breaking point. So this was just insulting. But one of the big bombs that Romney dropped tonight was “China”. When asked how he would cut the deficit, he said he would ask if a program was worth borrowing money from China to get it funded. Those are inflammatory words in this economy. And they will speak to the folks struggling to find work.
So it didnt’ help that the moderator had no control over the proceedings and the questions were too broad. But in the end, I have to say that Obama had a poor showing. Kills me to say that.
Obama has certainly had a difficult 4 years. But personally, I am relieved that he is at the helm of this country and the one that has been attempting to guide us through this mess. I believe that he is a person with principles. And that those principles put the welfare of the people above profit and the bottom line.»
If you can’t see the video, click on Presidential Debate 2012 (Complete) Romney vs.Obama – 10/3/2012 – Elections 2012
Who is Susan Wood?
«Born and raised in Sonoma County, California. Spent my early years near the town of Sebastopol: horses, chickens, apple orchards, 2 room schoolhouse, the whole rural upbringing.
I had goals of becoming a writer and so studied journalism at the Cal State University. Then later found myself in the world of science and technology. I studied computer science while working for Hewlett-Packard and became a software designer. I now write software in the field of instrumentation and measurements
for Agilent Technologies.
I still live in Sonoma County because it is one of those great places on earth. It’s politically liberal, close to the ocean, near San Francisco and the weather is excellent. And there are plenty of places to explore by motorcycle. That’s a big plus. My girlfriend and I have been exploring the west coast from California to Canada on two wheels for the past few summers.
I love to travel and manage to get away at least once a year, not enough. Absolutely love Paris 🙂
I live by myself mostly, if you can ignore the cat. But that’s unlikely.»
In this exclusive interview, François Sagat explained that he was fascinated by the lucidity, irony and humour of Erik Rhodes.
How did you react when you heard Erik Rhodes had died? I was walking in the street with a friend, we were going to the gym and I got a text message from a photographer friend in London: «Have you heard from Erik Rhodes recently?». I froze instantly. I had indeed had a conversation with Erik (James) on Twitter last week after not having heard from him for a long time of. He seemed to be just out of the hospital for some reason. We were joking online. After that text, I checked immediately his official Twitter account and I read what I had feared. I started weeping like a fool on the street. His death really upsets me.
You wrote on Facebook that you admired him. Why? What kind of man was he? I’ve always had a lot of affection for him even though we were not close friends. I was even obsessed by the character for a while. I met Erik at the GayVN Awards in Los Angeles in 2006. Back then, my English was awful. He came to me and paid me a compliment about the movie Arabesque [produced by Raging Stallion Studios], I was impressed. Since then, we stayed in touch, without much ambiguity.
We ran into each other during official events, but key ones, in New York or San Francisco. We didn’t have much time to chat, but we were talking to each other online, up until the day when we had a scene together. However, this shooting was less important than the conversations we had when we were not shooting during this trip in Prague.
«I was fascinated by his lucidity on himself and the people surrounding him, his sensititvity, his knowledge of music and film, and by what he wrote, by his irony, by his sense of humor.»
He was sweet, quiet, sometimes even shy too. Maybe I was fascinated by his melancholy, without illusions. But I think he was constant, true to himself, and above all honest and real.
Erik Rhodes did not hide his battle against depression but also against his addiction to all kind of drugs. Don’t you think he was struggling against a certain hypocrysy of the porn industry on all these issues? Yes, maybe he was the reflect of something others hide, erase or make prettier. This excess of honesty might have caused him some trouble with a lot of fools from the gay community, hidden or not behind their screens. But when you think about it, you don’t need to have a career in the porn industry to have addiction problems. I think that the way of revolving around oneself and the eyes of others, in all forms, can cause such a tragedy. To always be in need of thrills, of inachievables goals… He had the Art and Practice to tell fatal and terrible stories in such a candid manner, which I never found provocative. Depression was a fact, he talked about it openly.
People are not naive, but treacherous. I also speak knowingly, having touched one way or another to some mechanisms of this industry. The drug problem is the flagship behind the loss, the number one scourge, I’m not telling you anything new. But again, it’s not happening really «in» porn, but «around» porn. I’m not denouncing anyone: most of the big U.S. studios, through what I seen, are very touchy about the conditions of the models on a shoot. I’ve always known a rather sober Erik Rhodes during our meetings and collaborations.
His tumblr was called «A Romance with misery». It’s a terrible name, don’t you think? Yes, especially on his love relationships which he told as fatal, febrile, hanging by a thread. Relationships he entered with passion but at the same time by giving himself ultimatums. I followed his first blog for a long time, before tumblr, on which he was already writing on advanced depression. He always had a boyfriend, it seemed vital, and I also found some pain in his explanation of having ruined his life with porn, while continuing a meteoric rise in this activity without ever stopping using. I may have felt that idea sometimes, but just occasionally, never with the same consistency and fatality as he seemed to explain it. I think the problem is not porn, but what you make of it.
The worst is that in this extreme lucidity, one felt that humor was the only lift of his condition, as if the irony was his engine, a sophisticated humor and always fine… but dark.
Is his tragic destiny the behind the scenes of X movies? No, I don’t think that at all actually. The X movies were just a stage set I believe, I don’t know exactly, perhaps the main problem was the city of New York? The Gay New York, infamous like all gay concentrations in the world, whether in Paris, London or elsewhere, with all the drugs and possible identifications. Our decade is just rotting away faster.
«I think Erik Rhodes was too smart for most of his peers and just locked up in a whirlwind of misunderstanding»
It’s T Time! (‘Voilà les T!’ in french) is the first government funded health campaign for transgender and transsexual people in France.
It’s T Time! (‘Voilà les T!’ in french) is the first government funded health campaign for transgender and transsexual people in France. It consists of one website http://www.voila-les-t.fr [fr] and 8 videos. Here is the first one with english subtitles. Please share!
Brenda is a young lesbian who has fled from Uganda where she was persecuted because of her homosexuality. After more than 10 months, she has obtained the status of refugee in France.
Brenda is a young lesbian who has fled Uganda last February because she was persecuted. After more than 10 months, she has obtained the status of refugee in France. She explains what happens to her in a video interview for Yagg.
«We insist on reminding others that everyone of our religious confessions intends to respect the dignity of every human being without excluding anyone».
«We insist on reminding others that everyone of our religious confessions intends to respect the dignity of every human being without excluding anyone. In our respective religious traditions we affirm our fundamental attachment to love, to life and to its transmission for the future of humanity.»
It is by a joint letter that Gilbert Aubry, bishop of Réunion, Houssen Amode, president of the regional Council of the mussulman cult of Réunion and Daniel Minienpoulle, president of the Federation of associations and Hindu religious and cultural Tamul groups of Réunion, have responded to the letter sent at the end of November by LGBT Réunion, SOS Homophobia and The Refuge (read: Réunion elected officials called to condemn homophobia).
The representative of the three solicited religions have therefore united to emphasize the right to dignity of everyone (LGBT people included), while slipping in the following sentence an implicit condemnation of sexual relations between people of the same sex, putting the accent on their «fundamental attachment» to the «transmission [of life] for the future of humanity.»
The associations have also sent this letter [IMAGE], in which they demanded a simple public condemnation of homophobia, to the local responsible politicians. To this day, they have only received one response. It comes from Jacqueline Farreyrol, UMP senator of Réunion and deputy mayor of Tampon. «You have managed, I believe, to notice my stand, last June in Congress, in favor of the proposal of the law introduced by M. Patrick Bloche, putting forward the opening of marriage to couples of the same sex», wrote the elected official. «Also, faithful to my convictions, I insist on assuring you that I, of course, declare myself to be against homophobia.»
Translated by Guy Estinvil, Chicago
The original article in French, on Yagg.
The first season of the web series Unicorn Plan-It just ended. It took almost 6 months for Yagg to interview one of its creators, Haviland Stillwell, but it was worth the wait!
The first season of the web series Unicorn Plan-It just ended. It took almost 6 months for Yagg to interview one of its creators, Haviland Stillwell (with Sarah Croce on her right and Ashley Reed on her left), but it was worth the wait!
How was Unicorn Plan-It born? I love creating, especially on set, collaborating, and raising an idea from start to finish. I thought of doing a web series, and mentioned it one day at the Abbey, at a table of women that included Ashley Reed and Sarah Croce. I also knew since the beginning of the idea for Autostraddle, Riese had always wanted a web series, so she was thrilled that we wanted to house the show there. Ashley, Sarah and I brainstormed and came up with a character driven comedy.
Why did you choose the web series format? Simply because it was the most accessible. I actually think Unicorn Plan-It will work very well as a half hour sitcom, and we can really expand on the stories and characters in that format, but our resources were limited for season one, and we all felt it was better to get started and produce the show, first as short webisodes, before actively shopping it to networks.
Why «Unicorn»? There’s this private joke among our bisexual readers/members who call themselves unicorns, because many people believe bisexuals don’t exist, just like unicorns. We chose Unicorns because we love them! I think they’re sort of the gay mascot. And regarding bisexuality, it totally exists, and anyone who believes it doesn’t is clearly living a very limited life, and not allowing their brains to expand! Harmony would council these people to release their old paradigm ways of thinking. Gallop on, Unicorns.
How do you work? Who writes what?
In terms of writing, all three of us wrote all six episodes for season one. It took us about a month and many writing sessions, and we just banged it out, as J would say. There are parts that were more heavy on one of the three of us, jokes that are very clearly one person’s humor or opinions that certain characters expressed that quite clearly came from one of the three of our brains.
It’s the end of the first season already, will there be a second one? You’ll just have to wait and see. 😉 We would like to, will just depend on funding and schedules. And what that means is, it depends on how much the fans of the show want more!
What have you heard from viewers? How did they receive the series? Were you surprised by some reactions (either positive or negative)? I am grateful that so many people love it! I’ve heard personally from many people, as well as on Autostraddle, facebook, etc., everything from «yay! this is hilarious!» to «the presence of this show is making it easier for me to be who I am».
If you could do it all over, what would you do differently? That is a great question. I’d like to throw it to your readers – what would you all like to see, if there is a season two? What are your thoughts and suggestions?
On Autostraddle.com, the webseries is presented as «written, directed, produced and edited by Real Lesbian Females». How important is it? Most of the projects I work on aren’t gay-themed in any way, but I felt like creating a sitcom with lesbian characters for «the mainstream» that everyone finds funny, regardless of their gender or orientation, was really key. I also feel like, as an artistic professional in the entertainment industry, I want to be a consistent example of how being open leads to the most happiness and success. I am blessed to have examples all around me, and it’s our job to keep paying it forward.
You received a Power Up award as one of the «10 Amazing Gay Women in Showbiz», you, along with Sarah Croce and Ashley Reed, were named «entrepreneurs of the Year» by Go Mag. You’re ending 2011 really well. What do you expect in 2012? Lots of mindblowingly fun work, kick ass good times, and a total raising of consciousness on a global level! I feel very blessed to have the opportunity to create every day, to work with amazing collaborators, and to constantly be challenged. It truly is just the beginning. Stay tuned!
Haviland Stillwell on Facebook
Want a Unicorn Plan-It t-shirt? Go to Autostraddle’s store!
Photos WingSpan Pictures