Friday, December 16, 2022

Sam Smith, Carole King

The 30-year-old singer was performing at the White House on Tuesday (13 December), after being invited by Biden to celebrate the progressive change to laws.

The Respect for Marriage Act applies to same sex and interracial couples in the US, and protects their rights as couples by officially recognising their marriage.

During the performance, Smith sung “Stay With Me” and altered the usual lyrics of “This ain’t love it’s clear to see,” to “This is love it’s clear to see,” to mark the occasion.

“My deepest thanks to President Biden and First Lady Dr Jill Biden for inviting me to perform at the White House, it was a true honour,” wrote the singer in an Instagram post following the event.

I wish it had been publicized.  I saw about 15 reports on it -- TV and print -- and they all mentioned Cyndi Lauper but none included Sam.

Staying with music, VARIETY reports:

Daisy Edgar-Jones has landed the plum role of Carole King in Sony’s upcoming film adaptation of the stage musical “Beautiful,” a package as high-profile as it is pedigreed.

“Daisy has a spirit and energy that I recognized as myself when I was younger. She’s a tremendous talent and I know she’s going to give a great performance,” King told Variety.

Jones is familiar to Sony, having starred in the studio’s box office winner “Where The Crawdads Sing.” She will be directed in “Beautiful” by Academy Award nominee Lisa Cholodenko (“The Kids Are All Right”).

Cholodenko and Stuart Blumberg, who co-wrote “Kids Are All Right” together, recently completed their own pass on the “Beautiful” script, which is currently in development.

She doesn't look a damn thing like Carole King.

You know who did?  Debra Winger.  Back in the early 80s, believe it was the ONE TO ONE tour, we were backstage speaking with Carole and after we walked off, I told C.I., "You're right.  Debra Winger does favor her from certain angles."  Debra's too old to play Carole in her 20s and 30s.  That's too bad because she had physical similarities and, in certain tones, vocal ones as wll.

"Iraq snapsot" (THE COMMON ILLS):

Thursday, December 15, 2022.  The House Oversight and Reform Committee held a hearing on violence against LGBTQ+ members.

We'll start with this.

Michael Anderson:  I was bartending that evening when the attack began.  I felt more terrified than I ever have before.  I ran for my life that night and hid -- praying and hoping the violence would end.  When I stared down the barrel of that gun, I realized I stood no chance against a weapon of that power, magazine capacity, and seemingly automatic firing rate.  While I prepared for my life to end in that moment, I prayed.  I panicked.  And I prayed some more.  God must have heard my prayers because two brave men stopped the shooter moments before he would have inevitably found me.  I saw my friend lying on the floor, bleeding out, knowing there was little to no chance of surviving the bullet wound.  I had to tell him goodbye while I continued to fear for my life, not knowing if the attack was truly over.

James Slaugh: The events of November 19th were a nightmare come true.  Right before midnight, on the eve of Transgender Day of Remembrance, my boyfriend Jancarlos and I were about to leave when a shooter walked in.  Several POPs rang out and I immediately felt a searing pain in my arm.  I fell over knowing I had been shot.  My right arm wasn't working but I was able to call 911.  I saw everyone on the ground, glass panes shattered and blood running from my arm and chest where shrapnel had come through.  Jancarlos was next to me, shot in the leg, but thankfully alive.  To my horror though, I saw my sister bleeding out.  She had been shot over five times. My heart rended ed as she tried to dial 911 with her good arm.  I called out to her and I heard no response.  I don't want to imagine what may have happened had the shooter not been taken down.  Five wonderful people were still murdered and may we never forget their names 

Matthew Haynes: When I opened Club Q twenty years ago, Colorado Springs was a very different place.  There were picketers greeting our opening.  I'm proud to have remained in Colorado Springs over the years -- even when we did not feel welcome.  Club ! has been a home for the community for 20 years.  We are proud to say it will once again become the home for our community.  One man full of hate will not destroy us.  Club Q is for everyone regardless of who they love and how they present, regardless if this is different than how you or I may love.  LGBTQ venues and small business across our nation are extensions of family for us all.  And, for many, they are the only places we can find acceptance.  Club Q will need all the resources available to help us rebuild what was stolen from us.

Michael, James and Matthew survived last month's shooting at Club Q.  The three were testifying before The House Committee on Oversight and Reform.  US House Rep Carolyn Maloney is the Chair of the Committee.  

Carolyn leaves Congress next month.  She was first sworn in in January of 1993.  She used her last weeks in Congress to focus on a very important issue -- at least important to most people.  It wasn't important to any Republican on the Committee and I do have to wonder if they're unaware that they have members of the LGBTQ+ community and allies of the community in their districts?  It would be great if, in 2024, these 'representatives' could be voted out. 

  • Daniel Davis Aston, 28
  • Kelly Loving, 40
  • Ashley Paugh, 35
  • Derrick Rump, 38
  • Raymond Green Vance, 22

The shooting also left twenty-five people injured.

Michael, James and Matthew made up the first panel before the Committee.  The second panel was made up of Human Rights Campaign's Kelley Robinson, Pulse Nightclub shooting survivor Brandon Wolf, National Center for Transgender Equality's Oliva Hunt, Inside Out Youth Services' Jessie Pocock and The Williams Institute's Ilan Meyer.

We'll note this exchange:

Committee Chair Carolyn Maloney:  The violence that took place at Club Q follows years of long efforts by some state lawmakers to erase LGBTQ+ people from school curriculum, limit their access to healthcare and undermine their ability to fully participate in society.  Now state lawmakers are not alone.  They're have been many actions here in Congress pushing the same kind of draconian, extremist policies.  For example, more than 30 House Republicans introduced their own version of Florida's "Don't Say Gay or Trans" law which would restrict federal funding for schools that include LGBTQ+ people in their curriculum.  I'd like to ask Ms. Robinson: How would a federal policy suppress even mentioning LGBTQ+ persons in classrooms further undermine the ability of LGBTQ+ Americans to live authentically and safely?  Ms. Robinson?

Kelley Robinson: Thank you for the question.  And it's so critically important what we teach our kids matters.  We're teaching curriculum that not only shows how important history is and what we can be in the future but also what we value, who matters, who deserves dignity and respect.  If we erase LGBTQ+ people from the curriculum, it erases a value in our lives.  As Brandon said, this is our opportunity to be better and we can do that.  And it starts with how we educate our children.  And I also want to be clear that when we allow the pieces of legislation to move forward that erase our communities, that dehumanize us, what it does is create a dangerous environment that does support and feed these seeds of hatred that exist in our world.  It's not only dangerous, it's violent to our people. 

Committee Chair Carolyn Maloney:  Thank you.  Ms. Pocock, what would a federal "Don't Say Gay or Trans" law mean for the LGBTQ+ youth navigating their communities across the country from your experience?

Jessie Pocock: Yes, you know, we worked really hard on a similar "Don't Say Gay" bill that was being proposed in our, uh, in our state and, you know, the truth is that we all need mentors and examples that we can grow into and see ourselves in.  And when our -- When we as a nation are hiding our faces or our experiences or our contributions to this nation, it really impacts young people and their ability to see others like them and their ability to learn how we've contributed to this nation.  But more than that, it's erasure and it hurts.  And so our young people tell us that what they see and hear and feel when school board members or politicians are advocating to erase them is that they feel like they don't belong.  They feel like their public schools are not for them.  And so it is so critically important that we are always cheering these young people on.  And one real simple way to do that is to give them access to folks like me and those of us on the panel who are LGBTQ and incredible human beings in this world because they can be too. They just need us to support them and show them how. 

Committee Chair Carolyn Mahoney:  Thank you.  Following the enactment of Florida's "Don't Say Gay or Trans" law, anti-LGBTQ+ rhetoric on social media surged by more than 400%.  Astonishingly. Dr Meyer, what is the relationship between this surge and anti-LGBTQ+ rhetoric and the kind of violence that took place at Club Q last month?

Dr Ilan Meyer:  I think it was mentioned already in the panel, this kind of incitement encourages people to enact what they think is righteous because of religious convictions and other types of ideologies that are portrayed on social media wrongly and clearly this is creating an environment where such violence is seen as not only acceptable but, as I said, righteous and desirable and causing LGBT people a lot of harm -- not only in the -- those of them who actually experience violence, but also everybody in the community who witnesses it,

 A note.  Many Democrats in the hearing use LGBTQIA.  Some used the more common LGBTQ or LGBTQ+.  I myself haven't used LGBTQAI here.  It stands for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Intersex and Asexual.  That's an expansive term and it's good to expand.  We'll try to use it here in the future.  

Let's move to two idiots.  First, Yvette Herrell.  She showed up for a moment in the hearing and completely misunderstood everything had been said -- most importantly when she completely distorted Dr Meyer's remarks, twisted them to make them something he never said.  I am not going to sully his reputation by repeating her nonsense here.  She also didn't understand basic English as evidenced by her distortion of what Dr Pocock was speaking of.  (Or maybe her staff just wrote her poor crib notes -- she wasn't present for the remarks from either that she elected to comment on.)

Another idiot?  Ranking Member James Comer used the hearing to repeatedly play a victim.  Most infamously where he all but sobbed while proclaiming of the hearing:

Unfortunately, Democrats are using Committee time and resources today to blame Republicans for this horrendous crime.  This is not an oversight hearing.  This is a "blame Republicans so we don't have to take responsibility" for our own defund the police and soft on crime politics.



Defund the police and soft on crime policies?

Let's, for the sake of argument, insist that's true.

What the hell does that have to do with the shooting?

Three patrons of the bar -- Richard M. Fierro, Thomas James and an unidentified trans woman -- took the shooter out.  This wasn't a case where the police were outside the club waiting to come in.  Does Comer really believe what he said?  If so, can he pass a drug screen?

If he can't, that would explain the hair.  Did no one on his staff have a comb?  You can't get those cheap hair cuts and not comb.  I don't have to comb.  All I have to do is run my fingers through my hair.  But I pay for a good haircut.  The upper right side of his hair looked like he cut it himself.  And someone please tell him to sit on his jacket's coat tails or not to wear the jacket.  Is he that stupid?  Does he not know you sit on the jacket to get a crisp and clear line on the shoulders?

Comer also lost it during US House Rep Cori Bush's time.  

For those who don't know, unlike the Senate, members of the House have only five minutes each round for questioning and comments during a hearing.  Five minutes.   And any sensible person knows not to interrupt a committee member during their five minutes (five each round).  But there was Comer sputtering of Bush's remarks -- while she was speaking, "That -- that -- Madam Chair -- I mean, my G**."  If you're new here, out of respect for all, we do not allow what some see as blasphemy to go up here -- for any deity.  We always censor God if it's being used in vain.  That's why we're censoring Comer.  I'll also add that I believe he was using the name in vain.  I could be wrong.  You could also read it as he was calling Carolyn Maloney his God.  I don't think that's the case but I'll give him the benefit of the doubt.

Not that he earned it.  

He gave an opening statement that was over 640 words long.  In it, he did manage to decry attacks on African-Americans, on "Asian communities, Jewish communities and Christian communities" on "churches and pro-life institution," on "all races and ethnicities"  . . .  He left "on Comet, on Cupid, on Donner and Blitzen."  

Know who else he left out?


That's what the hearing was about but in his opening remarks he did not note them.  (He referred to victims!  Yes, he did.  And, sorry, the victims included straight people.)  A hearing about violence against LGBTQ+ and Comer can whine about himself but can't say, even once, that attacks on LGBTQ+ are wrong.  "Republicans condemn violence in all forms," he insisted . . . while refusing to decry violence against that community.  Shameful.

He's full of it.

And everyone needs to grasp that.  Do not say, "Well he said all forms."  Yes, he did.  And then he went on to specify groupings, many, many groupings.  None of which were lesbians, gay men, bisexuals or transgenders.  That is reality.  Those were his own words and he wrote his opening statement out ahead of time.  He included every word he wanted.  He didn't want to include LGBTQ+.  Don't pretend otherwise unless you're an Aunty Gigi (a self-loathing closet case who is more worried about impressing straight conservatives than in defending his own rights and those of his family.  Aunty Gigi is best exemplified by Glenn Greenwald).

Let's also note that he looked like he wanted to puke when Michael Anderson testified the following:

To my fellow LGBTQ community, events like this are designed to discourage us from speaking and living our truth.  They are designed to scare us from living openly, courageously and proudly.  We must not succumb to fear, we must live prouder and louder than ever before.  We must continue to be who we are, for who we are is exactly who we are meant to be.  And to the children watching this, feeling you may not be like other kids:  I understand you and I see you.  You deserve to be exactly who you are, no matter what anyone has to say.  In the words of my personal gay icon Christina Aguilera, you are beautiful no matter what they say.  Words can't bring you down, so don't let them bring you down today.

I'm sure the Aunty Gigis will insist that by not naming them, Comer was being kind -- after all so many others in his Republican Party trash them out right with one lie after another.  They'll pick the belly lint and be content pretending its chocolate covered cherries.  Too bad for Aunty Gigi, the rest of the country's not so pathetic.

Again, five people were killed in the attack on Club Q and twenty-five were injured (but how nice for Comer to try to make it all about himself).  James Slaugh spoke of his sister who was injured in the attack:

I have always struggled with my sexuality, not because I deny who I am, but because many others do -- because others want to hurt me for being me.  My coming out story involves my family and their support.  My sister Charlene paved the way for me to accept myself.  After she was forced out of the closet and ultimately the house by our mom who -- at the time -- believed being gay was a sin, our household went through a transformation.  In the end, love won, as it always will.  Our mom became loving and accepting.  She chose her children and it was this road to my sister and I had to endure that allowed me to feel safe enough to say, 'Hey, Mom, I like guys.'  She recently passed.  But before she did, for the past 15 years, she has been an advocate for our community, especially in her religious circles.

Comer was imitated by his fellow Republicans on the Committee.  Virginia Foxx, Fred Keller, Jody Hice also couldn't say gay or trans -- maybe they thought were in a Florida school?  

Couldn't mention the L or the G or the B or the T or the Q.

We need to note Glenn Grothman because he did say "gay."  He truly did.  Speaking of people murdered in the US this year, he decalred, "I assume some of them were gay -- I don't know."  


He didn't know.

I guess that passes for compassion and awareness for Republicans on the Committee.

It was funny to watch the Republicans run from the terms.  Jody Hice, for example, freaking out and frothing about how people "blame Republicans for these attacks" without ever saying who the attacks were on.


Hice did say that "the rise of hate crimes concerns me, it concerns all of us" and went on to identify the "hate crimes" as mean people who said Trump staffers should have difficulty finding employment.

Yes, that is the great hate crime, Hice, you nailed it.  

And he offered this statement -- without saying who said it or whom it was said to -- as an example of a hate crime, "You're all trash.  I hate you and I wish you harm."

Jody, when your wife speaks to you like that, consider marital counseling.

Jody did manage to say, as he got really angry about someone being denied service at a food establishment, "This was not LGB community, this was Christians!''


Dr. Meyers tried to explain what a hate crime was during the hearing and it sailed right over the Republicans heads.


For other coverage of the hearing, see Ruth's "Allies are needed (House Oversight Committee)," Kat's "Respect for Marriage Act is only step one, more needed," "Cori Bush speaks some truth in Committee hearing," Trina's "LGBTQ youth need a safe nation (Dr. Jessie Pocock)," Mike's "Texas, come claim your idiot (House Oversight Committee)," Stan's "Shontel Brown, Chris Wallace, Wonder Woman" and Rebecca's "glenn greenwald wants to be the biggest bitch there is ."  

Let's not the Committee's press release on the hearing:

At Oversight Committee Hearing, Survivors of Anti-LGBTQI+ Violence Underscore Dangers of Anti-LGBTQI+ Extremism

Dec 14, 2022
Press Release
At Oversight Committee Hearing, Survivors of Anti-LGBTQI+ Violence Underscore Dangers of Anti-LGBTQI+ Extremism

Washington, D.C. (Dec. 14, 2022)—Today, Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney, Chairwoman of the Committee on Oversight and Reform, held a hearing to examine how the surge of anti-LGBTQI+ policies advanced in legislatures across the country and the proliferation of extreme anti-LGBTQI+ rhetoric are fueling violence against LGBTQI+ people in the United States, including the mass shooting that took place at the LGBTQI+ nightclub, Club Q, in Colorado Springs last month.


“Last month, a person with an AR-15-style assault rifle entered Club Q—a nightclub that served as a haven for LGBTQI+ people in the Colorado Springs community—and opened fire on unsuspecting bar patrons and staff.  The attacker’s depravity robbed us of five innocent lives—Daniel Aston, Raymond Green Vance, Kelly Loving, Ashley Paugh, and Derrick Rump,” said Chairwoman Maloney in her opening statement.  “Let us honor them by recommitting to the bold action necessary to ensure that every person in the United States can experience the freedom to live authentically and safely—regardless of who they love or how they identify.”  


The Committee heard testimony from Michael Anderson and James Slaugh, survivors of the deadly Club Q shooting in Colorado Springs, Colorado, and Matthew Haynes, founding owner of Club Q.  The Committee also heard testimony from Kelley Robinson, President of the Human Rights Campaign;  Brandon Wolf, survivor of the Pulse Nightclub shooting;  Olivia Hunt, Policy Director of the National Center for Transgender Equality;  Jessie Pocock, CEO and Executive Director of Inside Out Youth Services; and Ilan Meyer, Distinguished Senior Scholar for Public Policy at the Williams Instititue


Survivors of anti-LGBTQI+ violence and expert witnesses emphasized that Republicans’ extremist rhetoric and harmful policies have contributed to surging violence, intimidation, and an unprecedented rise in hate crimes against the LGBTQI+ community. 


  • Mr. Anderson testified: “It was places like gay bars and clubs that helped me embrace who I was and formed me into the man I am today … If you are fortunate enough to intimately know LGBTQ people, you will find some of the kindest, funniest, accepting, and most welcoming people. Those are the people that found a safe place in Club Q and deserve to once again have that safe space … I can still hear the rapid firing of bullets today.  It’s a sound I may never forget.  It’s a sound I hope no one here or anywhere else in this country has to hear.”


  • Mr. Haynes testified: “I know that we, our Club Q community, are in the thoughts and prayers of many of you.  Unfortunately, these thoughts and prayers alone are not saving lives. They are not changing the rhetoric of hate.  None of us ever imagined that our little bar in Colorado Springs would be the target of the next hate crime, and I again repeat that we were targeted for the next hate crime … When you take hate and access to military style assault weapons, putting those together is total carnage.”


  • Mr. Slaugh testified: “ I don’t want to imagine what may have happened if the shooter had not been taken down that night.  Five wonderful people were still murdered and may we never forget their names.  Ashley Paugh, Raymond Green Vance, Daniel Aston, Derrick Rump, and Kelly Loving.  We miss each of you.”    


  • Responding to Rep. Cicilline, Brandon Wolf testified:  “Words have consequences...people should be accountable for the things that come out of their mouths and when you’re willing to traffic in cheap shots and bigotry against a marginalized community that is already seeing hate against it on the rise, already seeing violence rising across the country, when you’re willing to traffic in those things to score political points, you have to be accountable for what happens next. you have to hold yourself accountable for the impacts of your words.


Witnesses detailed the growing list of harmful anti-LGBTQI+ policies championed by Republicans at every level of government and the ways in which they are undermining the ability of LGBTQI+ people to live authentically and without fear.


  • In response to a question from Rep. Bush about the proliferation of Republican bills targeting LGBTQI+ people, Ms. Robinson stated:  “It’s a crisis that we are experiencing.  We are trying to be able to live freely, safely, and wholly as our true selves in every aspect of life.  And what we see is continued legislative attacks paired with extremist rhetoric.  And when some of these bills are moving forward whether or not they are enacted, they have a devastating impact on our community.”


  • Responding to a question from Chairwoman Maloney about the threat of a federal “Don’t Say Gay” law, Ms. Robinson testified:  “When we allow these pieces of legislation to move forward, that erase our communities, that dehumanize us, what it does is create a dangerous environment that does support and feed these seeds of hatred that exist in our world. It’s not only dangerous, it’s violent to our people.”


  • Brandon Wolf explained the impact of Florida’s law limiting discussion of sexual orientation or gender identity in schools:  “We’ve seen books being banned with LGBTQ characters across the state.  We’ve seen teachers being told to hide their family photos in their desks.  We've seen school districts like Miami Dade County refusing to recognize LGBTQ history month for instance, saying that it might violate the “Don’t Say Gay or Trans” law.  Those are just some of the impacts.  They’re weighing most heavily on LGBTQ families who fought really hard to see their loved ones recognized and respected.  It's weighing on teachers who are fleeing the profession, we have over 9,000 teacher vacancies in Florida in part because they’ve been undergoing character assassination over the last couple of years. And finally it’s weighing most heavily on LGBTQ young people.  The Trevor Project tells us that almost two thirds of trans young people are experiencing poorer mental health outcomes because of policies like House Bill 1557 in Florida.  So in short, the debate over the humanity of LGBTQ people is making life harder and less safe for people, especially in the state of Florida.”


  • In response to a question from Rep. Raskin on how extreme Republican laws affect the mental health and physical safety of LGBTQI+ youth, Ms. Hunt testified:  “When children are told that they’re not part of society, it teaches them that they don’t belong, that they are lesser-than, and that they are not as worthy as their classmates and as their peers.  And that’s not the message that we should ever be teaching to young children anywhere in this country.”


Witnesses and Democratic Members emphasized the need to take bold action to push back against extreme anti-LGBTQI+ policies and advance the health, safety, and rights of LGBTQI+ people


  • Responding to a question from Congresswoman Norton on the importance of the Equality Act, Mr. Wolf testified:  “It’s important because we are not afforded the same nondiscrimination protections as other people. I say this as a person in the state of Florida. One of the things we’ve worked on with Equality Florida for years is implementing comprehensive nondiscrimination protections for LGBTQ people in our state, so what does that mean?  It means protecting people from being denied housing because we have a boyfriend, not a girlfriend.  It protects LGBTQ people from being fired because we have a picture of our spouse on the desk.”


  • Responding to questioning from Rep. Raskin, Ms. Pocock explained: “We know that when you build an inclusive classroom you have young folks who are more engaged, who are more likely to show up in school, and so the best thing that we can do is prevent negative outcomes by creating an inclusive classroom, an inclusive church, an inclusive home.  That is hands-down, the research shows, the very best thing we can do for young people.”



117th Congress

We may return to the topic tomorrow.  I've got enough my notes to do so and it was an important hearing.

Turning to Iraq, MIDDLE EAST EYE reports:

A coalition of anti-war groups and rights organisations have signed a letter urging congressional leadership to put forth a measure to repeal the 2002 Authorization for the Use of Military Force (AUMF) for Iraq.

The letter, sent to senators Chuck Schumer, Mitch McConnell, and Patrick Leahy, as well as Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi and Kevin McCarthy, among others, urged the lawmakers to take action on what it referred to as a "long overdue repeal".

As of Wednesday, 37 organisations had signed the letter.

"Repealing this outdated and unnecessary law would constitute a basic act of constitutional hygiene while also ensuring that the 2002 Iraq AUMF cannot be misused to breathe new life into an unforeseen national security crisis, driven by an unchecked president," the letter said.

"This scenario has already played out once, in early 2020; there is nothing to prevent it playing out again, until Congress takes the 2002 Iraq AUMF off the books."

And we'll note CENTCOM issued the following:

Dec. 14, 2022

Release Number 20221214-10


BAGHDAD – On Dec. 13, Gen. Michael “Erik” Kurilla, CENTCOM commander, visited Baghdad, where he met with Iraqi Prime Minister Shia’ Al-Sudani, Minister of Defense Thabet Mohammed Saeed, Chief of Defense Lieutenant Gen. Abdul Amir Rashid Yarallah, and commander of Joint Operations Command for Iraq Lieutenant Gen. Qais Al-Muhammadawi AI-Abbasi.

The leaders discussed the current security situation in the region, as well as opportunities to strengthen cooperation and coordination. They spoke of progress in the development of the capabilities of the Iraqi Security Forces. They also discussed ongoing operations to ensure the enduring defeat of ISIS.

Qais provided Kurilla with a tour of the Joint Command Center as well as a review of the Iraq command’s joint targeting process. He also recognized U.S. Soldiers assigned to Operation Inherent Resolve for their work alongside Iraqi forces.

These engagements strengthen bilateral relations between the U.S. and Iraq and reaffirm CENTCOM’s commitment to the security and stability of the Middle East.

The following sites updated:

Wednesday, December 14, 2022

Outrage!!! Outrage!!! Instant Outrage!!!

Where is FOX NEWS?  Someone immediately alert FOX NEWS!!! And THE WASHINGTON EXAMINER!!!!  AP reports:

A Mississippi man who pleaded guilty to raping and killing a 16-year-old girl is scheduled to be put to death Wednesday evening. He would become the second inmate executed in Mississippi in 10 years.

Thomas Edwin Loden Jr., 58, is set to receive a lethal injection at the Mississippi State Penitentiary at Parchman at 6 p.m. He has been on death row since 2001, when he pleaded guilty to capital murder, rape and four counts of sexual battery against Leesa Marie Gray.

In a late-night ruling on Dec. 7, a federal judge declined to block Mississippi from carrying out the execution amid a pending lawsuit from Loden and four Mississippi death row inmates over the state’s lethal injection protocol. Mississippi’s most recent execution was in November 2021.

B-b-but he's a Marine!!!!!!!  AP explains:

Loden, a Marine Corps recruiter with relatives in the area, encountered Gray on the road around 10:45 p.m. He stopped and began speaking with the teenager about the flat tire. “Don’t worry. I’m a Marine. We do this kind of stuff,” he said.

Loden told investigators he became angry after Gray allegedly said she would never want to be a Marine, and that he ordered her into his van. He spent four hours sexually assaulting her before strangling and suffocating her, according to an interview he gave investigators.

Where's the uproar?  Where's the outrage?  Oh, that's right those outlets don't really care, they just pretend to in order to score points.  

Also, I'm not calling for an uproar.  I'm mocking the outlets (see yesterday's "Oh, look, the press thinks its cute when it lies").

On the death penalty, REUTERS notes:

Oregon Governor Kate Brown, who leaves office at the beginning of the year, has commuted the death sentences of all 17 inmates facing capital punishment in the state, leaving them to serve life in prison without the possibility of parole.

The Democrat said she decided to use her executive clemency powers to commute the sentences because she believes capital punishment is immoral.

"I have long believed that justice is not advanced by taking a life, and the state should not be in the business of executing people, even if a terrible crime placed them in prison," Brown, who leaves office in January after reaching the term limit of eight years as governor, said in statement.

"Iraq snapshot' (THE COMMON ILLS):

Wednesday, December 14, 2022.  In the Kurdistan some women are setting themselves on fire, in the US Joe Biden takes part in history (even if the White House staff bungles it) and much more.

Yesterday, US President Joe Biden signed The Respect for Marriage Act into law.  The White House issued the following statement:

On Tuesday, December 13, 2022, the President signed into law:

H.R. 8404, the “Respect for Marriage Act,” which establishes statutory authority for same-sex and interracial marriages and repeals provisions of law that once prevented any State or territory from being required to give effect to a same-sex marriage from another State or territory.

Thank you to Speaker Pelosi, Representatives Nadler, Cicilline, and Davids, Leader Schumer, Senators Baldwin, Collins, Portman, Sinema, Tillis, Feinstein, and Booker, and many others for their leadership.

Leave it to the White House to mess that up.  This was a time to quote Joe.

A few outlets do, for a minute or two, they say Joe declared, "For most of our nation’s history, we denied interracial couples and same sex couples from these protections. We failed to treat them with equal dignity and respect. And now, law requires that interracial marriage and same sex marriage must be recognized as legal in every state in the nation."  That's really not an accurate quote but NPR and others are running with it.  What he said should have been in the statement that the White House released.

Was the communications team too busy chatting with a celebrity (one who, Marcia noted, wanted to thank people for the passage of the act but couldn't think of one gay person to thank)?  This is embarrassing, the White House needs to get its act together.  Yes, it's very good that the spokesperson had a talking to by legal and, yes, she stuck to her lane yesterday (even noting the Hatch Act all by herself).  But this was a historic moment and Joe's remarks needed to be noted.  The White House staff failed him. 

This was going to be the snapshot where we could just note some good work done by Joe.  Instead, we have to note that the tiny statement above, in bold, issued by the White House (a) isn't enough and (b) is so poorly written that when it appears to be a quote (after the colon in bold), it's not really a quote.  They bungled everything.

Joe has his problems and issues and we note them frequently here.  But this was Joe's moment to shine -- and he did -- and he's let down by the people working at the White House.  How very sad.

Let's note some of what Joe said:

Hello, hello, hello.  Today's a good day.  A day America takes a final step towards equality, towards liberty and justice -- not just for some but for everyone. Everyone.  Toward creating a nation where decency, dignity and love are recognized, honored and protected.  Today, I sign The Respect for Marriage Act into law.  Deciding whether to marry, who to marry is one of the most profound decisions a person can make.  And as I've said before -- and some of you might remember on a certain TV show ten years ago [NBC's MEET THE PRESS] -- I got in trouble -- marriage, I mean this with all my heart, marriage is a simple proposition -- who do you love and will you be loyal to that person you love.  It's not more complicated than that.  And the law recognizes that everyone should have the right to answer those questions for themselves without the government interference.  It also secures the federal rights, protections, that come with marriage -- like when you're loved one gets sick and you're legally recognized as the next of kin.  For most of our nation's history, we denied interracial couples and same sex couples from these protections. We failed -- we failed to treat them with an equal dignity and respect. And now, the law requires interracial marriage and same sex marriage must be recognized as legal in every state in the nation.  I want to thank all of you for being here today, for being part of this important movement.  


MONTANARO: Our latest NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist poll, which is going to be released Thursday, shows 68% are in favor of same-sex marriage. You know, it was still a bit of a surprise. I have to say, though, that the bill got through because it wasn't clear they could get the 60 votes to overcome a filibuster because Republicans really have been much slower to embrace same-sex marriage. But a dozen Republican senators voted for it, 39 Republicans in the House did, too. And it's really reflective of how the country, even Republicans, are changing, even though GOP support, you know, has been much less in our surveys, less than a majority.

SHAPIRO: All right. We've been describing this as now a law that protects same-sex and interracial marriage. Beyond that top line, explain exactly what it does and does not do.

MONTANARO: Yeah. Not everyone's celebrating this as the be all, end all - and it's not. You know, this was largely passed because of the threat that the conservative supermajority at the Supreme Court after the Dobbs ruling that took away the right to an abortion, you know, could overturn other rights, including same-sex marriage. You know, while this bill gives federal benefits to same-sex couples, make sure those marriages are recognized across state lines, it doesn't guarantee that states won't deny marriage licenses to gay couples again if the court overturns it. You know, and I have to say, one of the most overlooked things in this bill, you know, isn't just about same-sex marriage, but also interracial marriages. Easy to overlook because 94% in the latest polling say they approve, but majorities didn't approve until the late 1990s, which isn't that long ago for some of us.

Now let's move over to Iraq where AFP reports 3 Iraqi soldiers have been killed by a roadside bomb 20 miles outside of Baghdad. MEHR NEWS AGENCY reports:

On Tuesday evening, a heavy gunfire was reported in the US military base at the US Embassy in Baghdad, known as "Unit 3".

The shooting was reported as eyewitnesses had earlier announced the flight of as US military helicopter over Baghdad's Green Zone.

The shooting, the details of which are still unknown, happened in the area of the US military base located in the US Embassy inside the security and protected Green Zone of Baghdad, and some Iraqi sources, such as Sabereen News Telegram channel embarked on broadcasting its video clips.

Staying on the topic of violence, we'll note this from BBC NEWS.

Women in Iraq are facing rising levels of domestic abuse. Cases of gender-based violence have seen a surge of 125% between 2020 and 2021, according to the United Nations.

In the Kurdistan region, women who feel trapped in abusive households often see suicide by self-immolation as their only way out.

The Kurdistan Regional Government has tried to combat violence against women, but many remain at risk.

The BBC has been granted rare access to one of the main hospitals for burns in Iraqi Kurdistan, where many women die of self-inflicted burns.

Meanwhile, the persecution of the LGBTQ community in Iraq continues.  THE SIASET DAILY notes:

The Iraqi Parliament recently drafted a law to ban publications regarding queer issues. This has alarmed the members of the LGBTQ+ community in the country.

The law would punish anyone who would for any reason “publish or promote” homosexuality in state’s media, institutions, schools, universities, social media platforms, books, cinemas, theatres, publications, and in public.

On December 3, 25 MPs, mostly from Shia group Coordination Framework, which opposes influential cleric Muqtada Al-Sadr, who is also Shia, signed a bill proposing the criminalisation of all publishing on LGBTQ+ topics in Iraq.

Individual citizens could be fined one million Iraqi dinars ($685), while government agencies and companies could be fined millions more. 

In the US today, US House Rep Carolyn Maloney will chair a hearing about the rise of violence aimed at the LGBTQ+ community in the US:

     Dec 12, 2022
Press Release
New Human Rights Campaign President Kelley Robinson, Pulse Nightclub Shooting Survivor Brandon Wolf Also Slated to Testify  

Washington D.C. (December 12, 2022)—On Wednesday, December 14, 2022, at 10:00 a.m. ET, Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney, the Chairwoman of the Committee on Oversight and Reform, will hold a hearing to examine how the surge of anti-LGBTQI+ policies advanced by Republican lawmakers and the proliferation of extreme anti-LGBTQI+ rhetoric are fueling a rise in violence against LGBTQI+ people in the United States.  The Committee will hear firsthand testimony from individuals impacted by this violence, including survivors of last month’s mass shooting at the Colorado Springs LGBTQI+ nightclub Club Q that took the lives of five people.


“From Colorado Springs to my own district in New York City, communities across the country are facing a terrifying rise of anti-LGBTQI+ violence and extremism,” said Chairwoman Maloney.   “I am deeply grateful that survivors of these attacks are coming before my Committee to share their stories with the American people.  Make no mistake, the rise in anti-LGBTQI+ extremism and the despicable policies that Republicans at every level of government are advancing to attack the health and safety of LGBTQI+ people are harming the LGBTQI+ community and contributing to tragedies like what we saw at Club Q.  Next week, Republicans on my Committee and across the country will be forced to face the real-life impact of their dangerous agenda.  I hope LGBTQI+ individuals across the country will see that Democrats in Congress are fighting for them and will continue to push for policies that protect and expand their ability to live authentically and safely.”


On November 19, 2022, a shooter armed with an AR-15 style rifle opened fire on patrons and staff of the LGBTQI+ nightclub Club Q in Colorado Springs, Colorado, killing five people and injuring more than a dozen others.


The Club Q shooting comes as extremist, right-wing lawmakers at every level of government have advanced harmful policies that undermine the ability of LGBTQI+ people to live authentically.  In 2021 alone, state legislators introduced more than 340 pieces of anti-LGBTQI+ legislation, including many that target LGBTQI+ people in classroom settings and health care. 


Following the passage of Florida’s anti-LGBTQI+ “Don’t Say Gay or Trans” law in March, vitriolic social media content alleging that members of the LGBTQI+ community were “groomers” skyrocketed by more than 400%.  Since 2015, hate crimes have increased by 40%, with the last two years being the deadliest on record for transgender and gender non-conforming people.




Full Committee hearing entitled “The Rise of Anti-LGBTQI+ Extremism and Violence in the United States.” 



Wednesday, December 14, 2022, at 10:00 a.m. ET




Panel I

Michael Anderson

Survivor of Club Q Shooting


James Slaugh

Survivor of Club Q Shooting


Matthew Haynes
Founding Owner of Club Q




Kelley Robinson


Human Rights Campaign


Brandon Wolf

Survivor of Pulse Nightclub Shooting


Olivia Hunt

Policy Director

National Center for Transgender Equality


Jessie Pocock

CEO & Executive Director

Inside Out Youth Services


Ilan Meyer

Distinguished Senior Scholar for Public Policy

The Williams Institute


Additional Witnesses to be Announced.



A livestream will be available on YouTube and the Committee on Oversight and Reform website.  




Seating in the hearing room is limited and as a result, credentialed media must RSVP to the Oversight Committee Democrats Press Office at no later than 5 p.m. ET on December 13, 2022. 



We'll wind down with this  from Will Lehman's campaign:

The following sites updated: