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The Smart Way to Boycott Putin’s Olympics

UPDATE: See MSNBC video below.

LGBTs in Russia are really suffering under Vladimir Putin’s new “anti-propaganda” law, and American Gay people are properly concerned, especially when we see what a political, financial and propaganda windfall he’s about to reap next year with the Olympics.

This has prompted a movement in San Francisco and New York, led by the writer Dan Savage and others, to boycott Russian vodka, especially the Stolichnaya brand, which for decades has touted itself as the quintessential brand of Russia’s quintessential drink (and advertised heavily in LGBT media).

Gay bars dumping so-called Russian vodka. (Jonathan Alcorn/Reuters)

Gay bars dumping so-called Russian vodka. (Jonathan Alcorn/Reuters)

But as we’ve since learned, Stoli isn’t made in Russia; it’s now made in Latvia, and the holding company which owns it issued a statement in July proclaiming itself a “fervent supporter and friend” of LGBTs – as well it should be, considering how much money we make them. So this Latvian base has prompted critics, Gay and otherwise, to denounce the vodka boycott – without coming up with any better ideas.

Some people have floated the idea of boycotting the Olympics themselves – which is closer to the mark, in my opinion, except (as Jimmy Carter discovered), it doesn’t work. The athletes who trained for the 1980 Games weren’t allowed to go, so they sat around and sulked, telling everyone how deprived they were, and four years later the medalists at the Los Angeles Olympics had their records tainted in the popular mind because “the Soviets weren’t there.”

So along sped Greg Louganis, the poster boy for Gay Olympic athletes, this summer to criticize the “boycott Sochi” movement because of those poor deprived athletes – most of whom, at least in the glamour sports, make a lot more money than Gay bartenders do, and even Gay bar owners. MSNBC had Louganis all over its air as soon as the boycott idea surfaced – which got me to thinking.

I like Greg Louganis and admire him. But he’s no one’s idea of a trenchant political analyst or even a Gay spokesman. If his opinions were worth listening to, he might have said, “Don’t keep the athletes from going, because they’re good at winning public sympathy and causing a backlash.” Or he could have gone even further and said, “What ought to happen is that LGBT sports fans and our allies shouldn’t go to Sochi and shouldn’t buy tickets.”

So since nobody seems to have thought all this through correctly, here’s the smart idea. Don’t boycott Stoli; don’t boycott the Olympics.

Don’t boycott the advertisers; they’re too big a group, while boycotts must be focused to be effective.They make too many products, and even if you want to punish them, you’re likely to buy their products even as you tell yourself you’re boycotting them. Know why “Boycott Koch Industries” doesn’t work? Because they have a near-monopoly on paper products. Are you giving up toilet paper these days? When you buy more of your favorite brand, do you really turn the package around to find out who the manufacturer is? (You should; don’t buy Georgia-Pacific, a subsidiary of Koch Industries.)

Procter and Gamble will probably advertise; even if you follow the company fairly closely, it’s hard to keep up with everything they make. P&G buys and sells brands every week. They don’t make what they used to make, and a brand that used to be owned by someone else is now owned by P&G.

They’re not the proper focused targets. Boycott NBC-Universal instead. Just don’t watch the Games.

Look who's on top in this logo. NBC's who American LGBTs should boycott. They're the easiest to hurt and you don't have to lift a finger.

Look who’s on top in this logo. Boycott the biggest company behind the Olympics, NBC. They’re the easiest to hurt and you don’t have to lift a finger.

NBC’s the one paying the massively corrupt International Olympic Committee, which talks out of both sides of its mouth like graduates of the Putin School of Doubletalk, all those billions for the broadcast rights.

Don’t watch the opening and closing ceremonies; don’t watch the competitions. Simple. (You can see all the highlights the next day on YouTube anyway.)

If you really want to get NBC’s goat, liberal Gay person, don’t watch MSNBC either during the Olympics. Make Rachel Maddow squirm. Be a real Inner and stick it in Chris Hayes’s face. Instead of watching – you won’t miss any news anyway; there won’t be any during the Olympics – fire off a tweet every night, “Boycott #Olympics Rachel Maddow @TRMS @MSNBC #corporatemasters #Putinsucks.”

This Gay woman is owned by Vladimir Putin's sex partners at NBC-Universal.

This Gay woman is owned by Vladimir Putin’s sex partners at NBC-Universal.

Make her ratings drop and I guarantee you’ll get her attention. And she’ll tell her boss, who’ll tell his boss – which might eventually help shape NBC’s news coverage of Russia, Putin, the Games, the IOC – and the latest bill introduced in the Duma, authorizing the Russian police to confiscate the children of Gay people.

Remember, we got Anita Bryant fired back in the ’70s, because Florida orange juice was a specific target, easy to remember.

Refuse to watch the Olympics. And every day they’re on, skip MSNBC and tweet its hosts.

Then when it’s over, declare victory and return to your normal programming.

That’s how to do Gay politics and win. LGBTs in Russia are depending on us. We must win this, and I’ve just told you how.++

[http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/3032507&#8243]

Do we need a Christian Left political action committee?

One of the elders, watching over his fields.

One of the elders, watching over his fields.

There’s a story in today’s New York Times, interviewing historians about 20th century mainline Protestantism, which the reporter (wrongly) equates with the Christian Left.

See it here: A Religious Legacy, With its Leftward Tilt, Is Reconsidered.

I think she’s wrong that Methodists, Episcopalians, Disciples, Presbyterians and UCC/Congregationalists always or even mostly have a leftward tilt, and that the Christian Left doesn’t also include, say, the Baptist Jimmy Carter and most U.S. Catholic nuns. But disputing the article is not my point; the piece is fine as far as it goes. The questions it raises for people of faith are more important than what she chose to include or leave out.

Namely, where are we today as progressive Christians? What more should we be doing to assert our Christian values into the public dialogue?

This morning, dailyoffice.org ran this photo and caption:

Bring the DREAMers Home: demonstrators for U.S. immigration reform Monday on Fountain Square, Cincinnati, Ohio included Manuel Perez and the Rev. Paula M. Jackson, rector of Church of Our Saviour/La Iglesia de Nuestro Salvador, Mt. Auburn. (Alejandra Pimentel)

Bring the DREAMers Home: demonstrators for U.S. immigration reform Monday on Fountain Square, Cincinnati, Ohio included Manuel Perez and the Rev. Paula M. Jackson, rector of Church of Our Saviour/La Iglesia de Nuestro Salvador, Mt. Auburn. (Alejandra Pimentel)

The demonstration, and the photo of it I was able to obtain, are well-timed; the House of Representatives is taking up immigration reform today. Most people don’t really expect it to pass without another avalanche of draconian punishments for “illegal aliens,” but we’ll see.

What bothers me about the debate around this issue is that a Christian interpretation of it is completely lacking. The so-called “illegals” are “strangers and sojourners” in Old Testament parlance, and “neighbors” in Jesus-speak – as in “Love thy neighbor.”

They are also scapegoats, just as Christ was, for the real problems of the nation – financial collapse, unemployment, and the replacement of democracy with oligarchy.

William Holman Hunt: The Scapegoat, turned out and left to die.

William Holman Hunt: The Scapegoat, turned out and left to die.

Scapegoats are not allowed, Christians; you know that. There can be no question that the racism and prejudice against Latinos must stop at once.

And while there are plenty of U.S. Christians saying these very things, we get consistently drowned out by shock jocks and their imitators in Congress.

I suppose if we were equally shocking we’d get on the teevee too. But there has to be another way.

What about a political action committee that’s specifically organized by and for the Christian Left?

There are many vehicles for the Secular Left and they all do good work. But so much of the vitriolic right-wing opposition claims Christ that I think we should take him back again and set him free from his fundamentalist captors.

The basic reason fundamentalist Christianity exists is to promote racism, sexism, homophobia and war. The Southern Baptist Convention is the proof of this in its very existence; it was founded to defend slavery.

As I look around the Episcopal Church, I see several manifestations of firm belief in Christ and in God’s liberating mission to save humanity. For heaven’s sake he parted the Red Sea a long time ago, to free the Jews from slavery.

That act is still God’s template. So is the Crucifixion, which set us free from sin.

By Luiz Coelho, Jr., an ordained deacon in the Anglican Episcopal Church of Brazil. A Gay guy, too.

By Luiz Coelho, Jr., an ordained deacon in the Anglican Episcopal Church of Brazil. A Gay guy, too.

At 62 I don’t feel like I’m the person to organize the Christian Left PAC (nor that that’s necessarily the best name for it; we’re talking mainstream Christianity here). It’s something younger activists ought to do.

But they’re not, so I keep thinking about it.

What do you think? Do you not find, faithful ones, that nearly every public policy question on the American agenda is spoken of in the Bible?

Republicans in the House want to end Food Stamps, while Christ told Peter, “Feed my sheep.”

We cannot let this impasse go on, because people suffer horribly from our inaction.

I do know this: we have to take on Christian fundamentalism full in the face. That’s something we’ve never been willing to do before, which I think is probably mainstream Christianity’s biggest mistake in the last 100 years.

But from 9/11 to the shooting of Malala, the Pakistani schoolgirl who advocates for universal education, we’ve seen what fundamentalist violence is like. We’ve seen it when so-called Christians bomb abortion clinics, assassinate doctors, bomb Gay bars in Atlanta, send Orthodox priests to beat up Gay people in Russia; we see it in Israel, in Hasidic communities in New York. We’re even seeing it lately among Buddhists in Myanmar!

Slavery. Scapegoats. Patriarchy. Homophobia. Attacking the poor. Trayvon Martin. The Military-Industrial-Religious Complex, in case you’ve forgotten George W. Bush and the “Left Behind” series. None of the enemies of Christ are going away anytime soon, there’s too much money and power in sin.

We’ve lacked nerve; we’ve been unwilling to endure persecution. So we kind of nibble around the edges of theology and politics, not wanting to mix them up too much, even though half of what Jesus said was directly “political” as we understand it today.

“Feed my sheep,” don’t cut Food Stamps.

Strap your sword upon your thigh, O mighty warrior, *
in your pride and in your majesty.
Ride out and conquer in the cause of truth *
and for the sake of justice.

— Psalm 45

I know we’re lovers, not fighters – but we’re fighters too.++

First same-sex wedding on a U.S. military base.

First same-sex wedding on a U.S. military base.

Liberal Naiveté Never Ceases to Amaze

That Maddow grrl is eloquent, a genius; but she still strikes me as naive half the time. (Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images)

That Maddow grrl is eloquent, a genius; but she still strikes me as naive half the time. (Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images)

I like liberals; I’m one of them. But they do amaze me with their inability to understand good and evil.

They don’t see political issues in those terms – which might be a helpful way to prevent yourself from falling into the intellectual trap of thinking “My side’s good and their side’s evil,” just because you’re on one side.

– But not if you’re actually confronting evil.

Let me define some terms here: preventing the poor from getting health care from Medicaid – as scores of un-United States are doing, thanks to Republican governors and legislative supermajorities – is evil. The Federal government’s paying 100% of the costs for three years, which will save the states big money, but no dice.

Throwing the poor off Food Stamps, as John Boehner’s House Republicans have tried to do – that’s evil. Their Farm Bill tried to cut $20 billion from Food Stamps, while the Senate’s comprehensive immigration bill adds $40 billion for border security.

We’re going to secure our borders by starving people? That’s fiscal responsibility?

Meanwhile legislatures in North Carolina, Ohio, Texas and elsewhere are taking advantage of a holiday weekend by passing draconian anti-abortion bills, knowing full well that the public favors the status quo on abortion and Democrats are unprepared to defeat them.

It’s the unprepared part that bothers me.

A Texas state senator, Wendy Davis, has become a political star by waging an 11-hour filibuster against a close-the-clinics bill. She was prepared; the rest of the Democrats largely were not, which made her instantly amazing.

Texas State Senator Wendy Davis, at a rally at the state Capitol July 1. I'm glad she's being acclaimed, but she wasn't that coherent on the Maddow Show.

Texas State Senator Wendy Davis, at a rally at the state Capitol July 1. I’m glad she’s being acclaimed, but she wasn’t that coherent on the Maddow Show. If you think she’s ready to be governor, you might find yourself muttering “Oops.”

In North Carolina they’re bellyaching about a bill that purported to ban Sharia law but was suddenly turned into an anti-abortion measure and passed as lawmakers headed out of town.

But what did those Dems expect? This is what Republican majorities do.

No one’s really surprised; Republicans understand the human vagina about as well as they do a foreign religion – it’s all the same to them, they don’t need to read the bill – but now Democrats are running around saying they done us wrong, when all they did was act on the power voters gave them – since Democrats can’t be bothered to vote for a mere governor or legislator, while Republicans do turn out. All these folks were lawfully elected, because progressives really don’t give a damn. If there isn’t a Barack or a Hillary at the top of the ballot, they don’t show up. They just complain mightily afterward, while Republicans couldn’t care less.

The Democrats’ naiveté troubles me, because it’s not like you can’t learn all there is to know about good and evil if you’d just pick up your Bible.

It’s all there, because human motivations haven’t changed in 10,000 years.

There are seven deadly sins, uhkay? Let us start with Greed and Pride. They’re all over the pages of that book.

It’s about greed and pride – but these liberals are babes in the woods. They heard the Bible was about God, and they don’t believe in God because the Pope and Pat Robertson are batshit crazy, so they don’t bother to read the instruction manual, which leaves them squawking that Republicans done us wrong and they can’t understand it.

Of course many liberals are fervent believers in God And All That; I’m one of them. Chris Matthews, E.J. Dionne, Jr. and Chris Hayes are all semi-public Catholics. I don’t know Joy Reid’s affiliation, but that lady’s grounded in the Black church.

Secular progressives do not see a use for God, and while they’re entitled to their faith or lack of one, they drive me to distraction. They have no grounding in classical justice, which is another thing That Book is about.

See, they think they’re inventing justice here and now, brand-new – which makes them dumb as rocks.

What the Bible does is make you see into the ugly heart of Greed. Do that, and you won’t be surprised by Mitt Romney’s “47%” comment.

Capitalists have to attack the poor. Otherwise voters might decide that Greed is not good and vote it out.

The good news in what we’re seeing now, as the Republicans fall inexorably into their death spiral, is that Romney and Rubio, Ryan and all their lesser lights are out of the closet with their hatred of the poor.

They don’t hate them individually – they don’t think they hate women or Gay people either – but they are forced to hate the poor as a class, because people without money threaten the notion that “the United States is the greatest country on earth” and capitalism is the best economic system ever invented.

It isn”t. Anything-goes Capitalism is one giant Monopoly board. Sponsored by Citibank!

Remember how much you hated your cousin, the ruthless Monopoly player?

In my case it was my brother Steve, and it took me decades to find out he wasn’t a horrible human being. I came to love him dearly; he was only half-horrible.

I believe in regulated capitalism as the best system for creating jobs and a middle class, promoting the work ethic, generating innovation through competition, and keeping the rich from robbing us blind – which they’ll inevitably do if there aren’t cops patrollng your Monopoly board.

MonopolyMan

It’s no accident that the Republican death spiral coincides with the most blatant promotion of “Makers, Not Takers” in today’s political rhetoric.

Even the racism, sexism and homophobia of today’s GOP makes a certain logical sense if you dig deep enough: they think Straight White Males are the ones who got us here, and if we’re to keep prosperity going we have to keep pale men in power.

(Please do not notice they are robbing you blind.)

Jesus knew about greed. His father YHWH wrote the book on it. I am sorry the secular Democrats never read the book.

I do not trouble any woman or man about their religion; freedom of conscience on religious and other matters is what makes us Americans.

The Vatican’s now the House of Crazy and Pat Robertson flies around like an Alzeheimer’d bat. We all know that.

But if you’d like to know about the sins of Pride and Greed, you could try reading the Book just once in your life. It’s a story of heroes and villains, and God comes out even more spectacular than Superman.++

(comicvine.com)

If he’s so Straight, why’s he always showing off his junk? (comicvine.com)

Pride Day Gallery: Bye-Bye DOMA, Hello Equality

You can enlarge these pictures with a click or a touch.

Jim Borgman of The Cincinnati Enqurier won the Pulitzer Prize for this drawing.

Jim Borgman, Pulitzer Prize winner, The Cincinnati Enqurirer.

(The Rev. Deacon Leilani Nelson)

Love and flowers. (The Rev. Deacon Leilani Nelson)

Castro Throng, 6.26.13 (The Rev. Deacon Leilani Nelson)

Castro Throng, 6.26.13 (The Rev. Deacon)

A Tuesday night, not a weekend; 6.26.13. (The Rev. Deacon Leilani Nelson)

A Tuesday night, not a weekend; 6.26.13. (Deacon Leilani)

Cynthia Wides & Elizabeth Carey, trying the knot at SF City Hall.

Cynthia Wides & Elizabeth Carey, trying the knot at SF City Hall. (source unknown)

The Rev. Dr. Thomas W. Ogletree, retired from the Yale Divinity School, is up on charges now for officiating at his son's wedding. (Christopher Capozzelielo/The New York Times)

The Rev. Dr. Thomas W. Ogletree, retired from the Yale Divinity School, is up on charges now in the United Methodist Church for officiating at his son’s wedding. (Christopher Capozzeielo/The New York Times)

The minute Edie Windsor found out she beat the United States government. (Ariel Levy/The New Yorker)

The minute Edie Windsor found out she beat the United States government. (Ariel Levy/The New Yorker)

The most famous building in the world went Gay.

The most famous building in the world went Gay again; it always does, every year, it’s got Pride.

SF 6.26.13. (The Reverend Deacon)

Equal: imagine that. (The Reverend Deacon)

Ernest & Louie, Apostles to the Queers.

Ernest Clay & Louie Crew, Apostles to the Queers. That whiteboy’s gonna be a saint someday, you know he is, so let’s remember the gorgeous guy he takes delight in.

Priests of the Orthodox Church of Georgia beating a man for being Gay. Priests! (Reuters)

Priests of the Orthodox Church in European Georgia beat a man for being Gay as a police officer tried to get him to safety. Priests did this! May they rot in hell. (Reuters)

International Day Against Homophobia, May 17, Cuba. I didn't even know there was such a day, but Castro's daughter got involved. (Ramon Espinosa/Associated Press)

International Day Against Homophobia, May 17, Cuba. I didn’t even know there was such a day, but Castro’s daughter got involved. (Ramon Espinosa/Associated Press)

Jen Rainin and wife Frances: doggy & flags.

Jen Rainin and wife Frances: doggy & flags, nice chair. (Source unknown.)

Keith Ford kisses his fiancé Robert Hart, FDNY, 6.30.13. Watch out, people, the person who saves your life might be a Homo Sexual. (James Estrin/The New York Times)

Keith Ford kisses his fiancé Robert Hart, FDNY, 6.30.13. Watch out, people, the person who saves your life might be a Homo Sexual. (James Estrin/The New York Times)

Prop 8 plaintiffs Kris Perry and Sandy Stier wasted no time; they got married by the Attorney General of California. I think that's their oldest son looking on. (Dustin Lance Black, winner of the Academy Award)

Prop 8 plaintiffs Kris Perry and Sandy Stier wasted no time; they got married by the Attorney General of California. I think that’s their oldest son looking on. (Dustin Lance Black)

San Francisco, 6.26.13. I ran this on my prayer site and escaped unharmed. (Deacon Lani)

San Francisco, 6.26.13. I ran this on my prayer site and escaped unharmed. (Deacon Lani)

Mark Carson murder site, Greenwich Village, New York, May 17.

Mark Carson murder site, Greenwich Village, New York, May 17. (The New York Times)

More American. (Deacon Lani)

More American. (Deacon Lani)

One magazine, June 1963: we've been at this a long time, since before the word Gay was adopted. The editors couldn't conceive of actual legal rights, they wanted to promote relationships. Fifty years later, I believe that marriage equality, more than any other right we still need, is what breaks the back of homophobia. (bluetruckredstate.blogspot.com)

One magazine, June 1963: we’ve been at this a long time, since before the word Gay was adopted. The editors couldn’t conceive of actual legal rights, they wanted to promote relationships. Fifty years later, I believe that marriage equality, more than any other right we still need, is what breaks the back of homophobia. We’ve won, people, you can stick a fork in it. (Russ Manley/bluetruckredstate.blogspot.com)

Paul Katami & Jeffrey Zarrillo. (Patrick Fallon/The New York Times)

Paul Katami & Jeffrey Zarrillo. (Patrick Fallon/The New York Times)

World LGBT acceptance map, according to the Pew polling organization.

World LGBT acceptance map, according to the Pew polling organization.

Where it starte - which is why New York, not San Francisco, will always be the world's Gay capital. We fought back; that never happened before. We fought back. (source unknown)

Where it started – which is why New York, not San Francisco, will always be the world’s Gay capital. We fought back; that never happened before, though there were earlier protests in California and D.C. We fought back in New York, with fists, rocks and bottles flying – and the word spread worldwide. They scared the cops; that’s what made the difference. (source unknown)

Unconstitutional. The Castro, SF, 6.26.13. (Deacon Lani)

Unconstitutional, you mother——: The Castro, SF, 6.26.13.(Deacon Lani)

Butch boys. Let's give that man a Pulitzer Prize. (adamandandy.com)

Butch boys: Give that man a Pulitzer Prize. (adamandandy.com)