Tuesday, June 30, 2009


Let me set the scene: It's 10 pm, I have just purchased my favorite cherry lollipop from 7/11, and I'm taking a moment to pause and enjoy the artificial flavors on the sidewalk.

Then a middle-aged man exits his car, takes one look at me, and with a tone of bewilderment and arrogance asks (with an obnoxious look on his face to top it off), "Are you pregnant?"

"No," I reply, matching his ugly glare with an are-you-on-drugs sort of squint.

"Oh, sorry. I was going to say that you are too young."

At this point, the man enters 7/11 and I get into my car. Dumbfounded, I need a moment to get my thoughts together, when I decide it is only appropriate to chase this man down. I re-enter 7/11, find the man at the cash register, and point my artificially-flavored cherry lollipop at him.

"So what if I am pregnant? What business is it of yours? I don't care what you think my body looks like, MY BODY IS NONE OF YOUR BUSINESS."

Not much of a talker now, the man awkwardly mustered up an, "I agree."

As a woman, it seems like my body is automatically subjected to some heightened degree of commentary and observation. Whether it's sexual harassment, or the housekeeper telling my mom that I am "mas gorda," far too many people feel entitled to giving me an unwarranted and unwanted opinions.

Let me introduce a small concept called "boundaries." My body is mine. It's not yours. It's none of your business. Keep it to yourself.

Kucinich overcame Crohn's disease with veganism

Ecorazzi posted a special message delivered by Representative Dennis Kucinich for Vegan Earth Day. First of all, I love Dennis and Elizabeth. Secondly, since most people could care less about carbon emissions from dietary consumption or the torture of animals, I'd like to focus the health aspect. DK had Crohn's disease--to which there is no known drug or surgical remedy--and fought it off with a vegan lifestyle (and Chinese medicine, but I'm not sure what that entails).

Reminds me of some Dead Prez lyrics: let your food be your medicine...

Anyway, here is the DK clip:

declare your energy independece to Senate leaders

The American Clean Energy and Security Act passed in the House and is heading for the Senate. Let Senate leaders Harry Reid and Mitch McConnell know that this fourth of July, you stand for energy independence.

Sign here

Monday, June 29, 2009

I'm on a low-carbon diet

I cannot stress enough how every conversation I have about my veganism turns into a conversation about weight. It seems that there are two alternatives: I either must have lost a tremendous amount of weight from living off of vegetables, or I must have ballooned up because the only thing I can eat out is pasta. Skinny Bitch has only exacerbated the issue.

Emphasis on weight and counting and measuring everything humanly possible bothers me. I prefer to avoid self-destruction and self-deprecation and think about my health, the planet, and animals. That's why I am just so giddy over a fun new phrase I found in the Summer Issue of VegNews.

The Low-Carbon Diet

That's right. 16 pounds of resources to produce 1 pound of dead, tortured cow? I prefer low-carbon to low-carbs any day. Chomp on that.

Obama's dirty little (energy) secrets

While the recent House passage of the American Clean Energy and Security Act is a historic "first" in the battle against climate change--with Waxman, Markey, and Gore all reiterating the "first of many" mantra to climate activists--skepticism is just as appropriate, if not more, as celebration.

Eyebrows first went up when the bill called for the repeal of key provisions in the Clean Air Act, leaving no carbon regulation of coal-fired plants. One can only imagine that the effect will be similar to mischievous children who are not supervised or disciplined.

Then, earlier this morning as I was reading a blog post on the Obama Administration's lack of full disclosure and re-defining of the Freedom of Information Act, I also learned that Obama rejected the FOIA request for Secret Service logs revealing the identities of big coal executives visiting the White House. Despite the fact that as a Senator, Obama criticized Bush for his secret meetings with oil execs, Obama has pulled the same stunt to discuss "clean energy."

I get the fact that there are only 32 Democratic Senators and 157 Democratic Representatives that are from less-than-average coal-reliant states and that compromise for the sake of political viability is a shady game that must be played--but denying public and legal requests for information and holding secret meetings is a step too far, especially for a president who built his platform on transparency.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

new obsession: SCOTUSblog

I LOVE this blog: Supreme Court of the United States Blog

Rep. Baldwin introduces LGBT health disparity bill

Representative Tammy Baldwin introduced the Ending Health Disparities for LGBT Americans Act (ELHDA) earlier this week, declaring that "Our current health care system fails LGBT Americans on many levels.”

Co-sponsors include Reps. Henry Waxman, Barbara Lee, Mike Honda, and Nydia Velazquez.

Baldwin explains that the government lacks basic data on sexual orientation, gender identity, and health, and for this reason, this bill includes investments in data collection and research as well as:
non-discrimination policies for all federal health programs, provides funding for cultural competence training for health care providers, extends Medicare benefits to same-sex domestic partners, creates a new office of LGBT Health within in the Department of Health and Human Services, and provides funding for community health centers who serve the LGBT community. full article

call your reps now to add additional solar and wind to climate bill

On a conference call with Al Gore, the Repower Campaign, and climate "superactivists" from around the nation, Al Gore announced that the Clean Energy and Security Act--also known as the Waxman-Markey Bill or ACES--would be on the floor Friday for a vote.

Since then, climate coalitions and individual citizens have been working non-stop to advocate for a stronger, better bill.

Here's the deal: ACES doesn't offer any more wind and solar than the Department of Energy already has in the works. Since Speaker Pelosi decides which ammendments are voted on and which are not, please call your member of Congress and tell him/her:

"ask Speaker Pelosi to support the Titus-Giffords-Heinrich clean energy amendment."

Then report your call to MoveOn here (you'll have to click on the "the contact info is NOT correct box" because I can't seem to get a blank form without my rep's name on it.

Don't know who your member of Congress is? Find out here.

Monday, June 22, 2009

trans federal employees included in recent Obama memo

According to John Berry, director of the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) and the highest-ranking openly gay official in the Obama Administration, the presidential memorandum that President Obama signed last week giving same-sex domestic partners of federal employees benefits also extends to trans employees. Full article

Sunday, June 21, 2009

destroying levees and restoring the environment

The clock is turning back on 16,000 acres purchased in the 1960s. Bulldozed and dried out, this land lost its forests, wetlands and marshes for levees and a giant soy bean farm.

The Ouchley brothers plan to undo this damage as best they can:
There is a growing awareness that Louisiana’s levees have exacted a huge environmental cost. Inland, cypress forests and wetlands crucial for migrating waterfowl have vanished; in southern Louisiana, coastal marshes deprived of regular infusions of sediment-rich river water have yielded by the mile to an encroaching Gulf of Mexico. Some scientists have suggested opening levees south of New Orleans so the Mississippi River can flow normally into the swamps. full article

Saturday, June 20, 2009

counting same-sex partnerships

The Wall Street Journal reports:
The White House said Thursday it was seeking ways to include same-sex marriages, unions and partnerships in 2010 Census data, the second time in a week the administration has signaled a policy change of interest to the gay community.

The administration has directed the Census Bureau to determine changes needed in tabulation software to allow for same-sex marriage data to be released early in 2011 with other detailed demographic information from the decennial count. The bureau historically hasn't released same-sex marriage data. full article

Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee approves sketchy energy bill

The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee approved of a sketchy energy bill that would open up oil and gas drilling in the Gulf of Mexico and does not include any mandatory reductions in heat-trapping gases (although another Senate committee is focusing on this aspect).

The bill also calls for utilities to produce 15% of their electricity from wind and solar by 2021--a weaker target than the current House bill.

The New York Times reports:
The energy bill includes money for clean energy technologies and training for workers in new energy-related industries. It calls for expansion of the nation’s stockpiles of petroleum reserves to deal with sudden shortages or steep price increases. It provides federal incentives for projects to capture and store carbon dioxide, the chief greenhouse gas, and encourages a solution to the problem of storing nuclear waste. full article
Both Republicans and Democrats are hoping to strengthen the bill, for their respective positions, on the floor.

Not promising.

Nestle Cookie Dough is recalled


Thursday, June 18, 2009

FREED Act has 17 co-sponsors

A few months ago, I blogged on my experience lobbying for the Federal Response to Eliminating Eating Disorders Act (FREED) with the Eating Disorders Coalition (EDC).

I am excited to announce that we have 17 co-sponsors:

Rep. Patrick Kennedy [D, RI-1]

Rep. Tammy Baldwin [D, WI-2]
Rep. Dan Burton [R, IN-5]
Rep. Lois Capps [D, CA-23]
Rep. Russ Carnahan [D, MO-3]
Rep. Gerald Connolly [D, VA-11]
Rep. John Conyers [D, MI-14]
Rep. Joe Courtney [D, CT-2]
Rep. Diana DeGette [D, CO-1]
Rep. Jo Ann Emerson [R, MO-8]
Rep. Barton Gordon [D, TN-6]
Rep. Steven LaTourette [R, OH-14]
Rep. Thaddeus McCotter [R, MI-11]
Rep. James Moran [D, VA-8]
Rep. Grace Napolitano [D, CA-38]
Rep. Todd Platts [R, PA-19]
Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen [R, FL-18]
Rep. Christopher Smith [R, NJ-4]

Supreme Court declines to hear border fence case

The Supreme Court has declined to hear a case challenging the constitutionality of whether or not the federal government can trump local and state laws in order to build a fence between the United States and Mexico.

The Hill reports:

Under President Bush, Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff approved two waivers that disburden fence planners of having to comply with "all federal, state or other laws, regulations and legal requirements" of construction. full article

This includes the ability to ignore the Endangered Species Act and and the National Environmental Policy Act.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Barney Frank to reintroduce ENDA as all-inclusive

According to his adviser, Representative Barney Frank (D-MA) is planning to re-introduce an all-inclusive version of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act that passed in the House in 2007.

The older version of ENDA was--despite a lot of controversy--split into two bills, separating sexual orientation and gender identity. The bill did nothing in the Senate and died. Now, Frank claims the political climate is more conducive to pass with protections against gender-based discrimination and sexual orientation in one shot.

Southern Voice reports:
Sanchez said that, as of Wednesday, the bill had eight House co-sponsors, including four Democrats and four Republicans. Among the sponsors were gay House members Frank, Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), and Jared Polis (D-Colo.). The lead Republican sponsor is Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.). full article

and here it is

The Washington Post reports:
In an Oval Office ceremony, Obama signed a presidential memorandum that gives same-sex domestic partners of federal employees access to long-term-care insurance benefits and allows civil servants to use sick leave to care for ailing domestic partners and children not related by blood or adoption. He also ordered the Office of Personnel Management to advise agencies within 90 days on how to comply with anti-discrimination regulations. full article

placating the vote

Now that several powerful gay fundraisers have withdrawn from a DNC fund raiser in June where Biden is speaking, Obama is expected to announce that same-sex partners will be receiving federal benefits on Wednesday

click it OR STICK IT

I am so angered by all of the money and resources wasted on this Click It or Ticket business.

A) I agree that minors should be legally required to wear seat belts and that the state can legitimately seek to enforce the safety of those who are not of legal age to decide for themselves, and who may or may not have adequate legal guardians.

B) I am an adult. How I decide to sit in my own car, so long as I am not harming or potentially harming another, is my business only. The state needs to leave my body alone.

C) WE ARE IN A FISCAL CRISIS. Why in the world are national and local funds spending money to advertise this junk, especially when the target group is males from age 18-34?

THESE ARE NOT EVEN MINORS. If the ad campaign sought to crack down on the deaths of small children, perhaps I could muster up some understanding.

Monday, June 15, 2009

love this quote

"If I had my life to live over, I would do it all again, but this time I would be nastier."--Jeanette Rankin, first woman elected to Congress

Sunday, June 14, 2009

vegans against PETA

I always love when another voice enters the discussion. And we all know I have my legumes with PETA (recall my discussion of PETA and transphobia)

I also hate the default imagery associated with veganism.

Check out Vegans Against PETA

Obama wishy-washy on LGBT issues

A few days ago, the Obama Justice Department, in filing a notice of a motion to dismiss the first same-sex marriage case filed in federal court, upheld the Defense of Marriage Act--although he opposed DOMA as a presidential candidate.

The dismissal came shortly after June 1st, when President Obama declared June Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Pride Month. While the religious right is outraged, evangelicals are not Obama voters to begin with. No political loss.

Although I am not a fan of marriage, it is clear to me that a marriage license is a tangible item, and dedicating a month is abstract, symbolic and not particularly productive. I am not impressed by the dog and pony show.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

carbon markets and conservation

Interesting article regarding the insignificant weight of bio-diversity as a reason to protect tropical rain forests. Not to worry, though. Carbon markets to the rescue.

In Kalimantan, Indonesia, paying for each carbon ton saved proved more valuable than a plantation.

This raises the question: can we pay poorer nations to conserve their lands?

Sounds like a win-win situation to me.

San Fran mandates composting

The San Fransisco Board of Supervisors voted on Tuesday to mandate composting. Residents will now receive three bins: a black bin for trash, a blue bin for recycling, and a green bin for composting. Repeated and extreme violators may be fined.

The main goal in this initiative is to target apartment buildings; only 25% of multi-tenant buildings offer recycling.

Of course, there are objections, with some locals complaining that the role of government is not to be sorting through private trashcans.

While I am all for the government backing off, the over-proliferation of trash, hyper-consumption, limited lands available for dumping, and the consequences of pollution and carbon emissions both merit and demand government intervention.

Check out the full article

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

climate conference call with Reps Waxman and Markey

Earlier today, I joined climate advocates across the nation on a conference call with Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA) and Rep. Edward Markey (D-MA) to discuss the American Clean Energy and Security Act, otherwise known as the Waxman-Markey Bill or ACES. The call was co-sponsored by 1Sky and the Energy Action Coalition.

While Rep. Waxman rattled off some of the key provisions of the bill in his opening statement, Rep. Markey followed up with a grim report of Republican opposition--including references to green jobs as "sub-prime" jobs and "paper machete" jobs. Even more ominious, he explained the alternative plan generated by our friends across the aisle: more and more coal. Rep. Markey likened the climate-change skepticism and heavy coal initiative as "going from one pack of Camels a day to two packs of Camels a day."

However if Rep. Markey thought the only skepticism was coming from the GOP, he was mistaken. Climate advocates are wary of ACES, calling the renewable energy standards (RES) inefficient, offsets inadequate, the role of nuclear and coal questionable, and the helplessness of the EPA as unacceptable. The conversation was an hour long, but here are points that I found most critical:
  • In response to credits awarded to nuclear and the acceptance of coal as an energy source, Rep. Waxman reiterated that nuclear energy is not considered renewable. However, he did stress that the main goal of this intiative is to reduce carbon emission. If industries can reduce emissions while adapting coal use to new targets, that is acceptable. The objective is to keep pressing down on total carbon emissions. While both members understand that coal is a heavy contributor to emissions, so long as reductions are met, we are ahead of the game. In short, coal can be a part of our energy future so long as reductions are met, and the coal is produced on our own turf as a measure of domestic security.
  • In response to concerns that standards are not tight enough, the members explained that this bill simply provides a floor, but not a ceiling. The only exception is that, in terms of cap-and-trade, states must refrain from running their own cap-and-trade systems from 2012-2017 so that the national program can be put in place. During this time, however, states may tighten emissions standards. Under ACES, states will also receive money for research in efficiency and renewables.
  • In response to concern that ACES does not meet the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's (IPCC) targets, the members explained that the projected reductions of 17% below 2005 levels by 2020 will actually be upwards of 23% in consideration of allowances aimed at preventing tropical deforestation. Rep. Markey also added that this is a first step--one that has happened far too late, thanks to the last administration--and that new bills considering current scientific findings will be introduced in years to come. These issues will be monitored as we go forward.
  • As for uproar that 85% of allowances will be given away for free to polluters under the cap-and-trade system, staffers asserted that this is an incorrect statement. The configuration of 85% of total permits awarded for free to polluters is inaccurate, because this number also includes allowances that will be given to individual states, consumers, and in helping businesses transition. Additionally, 100% auction would pass enormous costs onto consumers in electricity bills. The current initiative is aimed to ease the transition, which will currently cost Americans less than a postage stamp a day (unlike Republican claims that this will cost families thousands of dollars).
  • Vague answers include whether or not offsets, which can be purchased by companies as a means of meeting reductions, will undermine the bill through over-relying on offsets, incentives to create useless projects to produce offsets, or sub-par offsets. Staffers assured that the bill has 50 pages of detailed text to create quality offsets and agreements between countries to ensure that international offsets are as high in quality as domestic offsets.
  • Lastly, answers provided to explain the inability of the EPA to regulate coal plants were entirely unclear to me. Staffers explained that consensus and creating a coalition on this bill is key, and that performance standards for coal are going forward. When the recording of the conference is released, I will re-examine this issue. I heard no answer the first time around.
I will say that I am content with giving away some free allowances for the time being, with the understanding that these allowances will have a variety of recipients (and therefore retract my harsh criticisms against Obama on this issue), not just high-polluting industries. I get that coal is going nowhere fast, that we need to wait for a renewable market to kick in and emerging technologies to drive this process forward--but I am not satisfied by stripping the EPA of its authority. I am not sure of the details, so this is something that will be revisited on The Colonic soon.

Stay tuned!

Declare your independence from dirty energy

This Independence Day, take action against dirty energy from June 27th-July4th. We need to call on President Obama and Congress to create strong and effective energy policy and to hold polluters accountable.

Get ideas and organize an event here.

Or locate events in your area.

For all of you Colonic readers, I will be organizing something in the LA area, but need to work out a few particulars before I register my event. If you're interested, please email me.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Harvard endows professorship in LGBT studies

The Boston Globe reports:

Harvard University will announce tomorrow that it will establish an endowed chair in lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender studies, in what is believed to be the first professorship of its kind in the country.

Harvard President Drew G. Faust described the academic post as an important milestone in an ongoing effort by faculty, students, and alumni to raise the profile of LGBT studies at the university.

The university has received a $1.5 million gift from the Harvard Gay & Lesbian Caucus...
Check out the full article

visibility at what cost: gay marriage and gay night life

My pal over at the Gluten Freeway sent an interesting article about the demise of the Boston gay bar scene. While the internet and online social networking has been described as a contributing factor, the acceptance of gay marriage is also thought to be nurturing mixed-orientation socializing at the expense of gay bars.

This raises the issues of "visibility at what cost?" Enclaves, whether religious, ethnic, or sexual, are created when a group of people is "othered" or differentiated on the basis of a specific characteristic. This is why I believe that Judaism is alive today--because of the vicious and even more subtle forms of Antisemitism that have followed Jewish people throughout history. Tolerance and assimilation would not have forced into preservation a strong identity and rich cultural heritage the way fierce hatred excluded and thereby cultivated a growing and strengthening sense of Jewry over time.

I think it's far too utopian to suggest that the acceptance of diverse sexuality will lead to the magical disappearance of gay bars. Exhibit A: Prop 8. However, I think communities will face changes differently at different times. And while many people choose to assimilate, others still choose to self-segregate--and some prefer a hybrid of the two.

Friday, June 19th: A National Day of Action for a Strong Climate Bill -- Sign Up Today!

The 1Sky campaign is organizing a National Day of Action to advocate for a stronger climate bill. The House of Representatives could very well pass a piece of climate legislation by the end of this month, and we need to make it as strong as possible.

Sign up here

the EDC has a new blog

The Eating Disorders Coalition has hit the blogosphere

Friday, June 5, 2009

Belgium city begins meat-free Thursdays

The Ghent City Council, in consideration of the green house emissions associated with the over-consumption of meat, has initiated Veggie Day every Thursday. Reuters reports:

The city is also promoting vegetarian meals in its canteens, schools and restaurants. Kindergartens and primary schools will offer vegetarian meals on Thursdays from September 2009. A city hospital has expressed interested in taking part as well and Balthazar hopes Ghent University will soon follow these leads.

The campaign also includes free vegetarian recipes in the free city magazine, cooking workshops for professionals and distributing a map of Ghent that indicates restaurants offering vegetarian options.

Ethical Vegetarian Awareness, which is behind the campaign, says that if every Ghent resident were to go meatless for just one day a week for a year, it would be the equivalent of taking 20,000 cars off the road. Full article

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

immigration and same-sex couples

In the immigration debate, Senator Leahy of Vermont is pushing to allow residency for the same-sex partners of American citizens. Check out the article

recession forces some brothels to consider female sexuality

Now that Las Vegas brothels are getting desperate for profits in a crippled economy, some are adding men geared toward pleasing female patrons.

That's right, folks. Female sexual desire is recognized only in times of desperation as a new quirk to hopefully make a few.

Read the article