ARE YOU AS PISSED OFF AT CONGRESS AS I AM?

Raul Labrador, Mike Simpson, Idaho Congressmen, RepresentativesDear Rep. Raul Labrador and Rep. Mike Simpson,

I am writing to you to express my personal outrage and disappointment that you have decided to put the political ambitions of the Tea Party over what is best for the American people and your Idaho constituents.

Your decision to support this pointless government shutdown is nothing more than a shameful political stunt. Continue reading

Who’s Really Smearing Who? VanderSloot is No Victim

Frank VanderSloot, Melaleuca, Obama, Mitt Romney, Idaho Statesman, Sean Cockerham, It's Elementary, Peter Zuckerman, Post-Register

The Idaho Statesman dedicated a large portion of its front page feeding the allegation by Frank VanderSloot that he is a victim of an alleged smear campaign backed by President Obama.

The May 18 article, “Idaho businessman VanderSloot says Obama is smearing him,” by Sean Cockerham lacked balance and simply aided VanderSloot in whitewashing his indisputable public anti-gay record. Continue reading

How Obama’s DOMA Decision Affects Idaho

Boise Weekly City Desk Jody May-Chang

By Jody May-Chang
Originally published on BoiseWeekly.com Feb. 24, 2011

Calling it an “historic position,” Idaho scholars and activists cheered the Obama administration’s move to no longer defend the federal Defense of Marriage Act.

In Wednesday’s announcement, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder called the act unconstitutional by denying gays and lesbians the right to marry.

David Adler, director of the McClure Center for Public Policy Research at the University of Idaho, told Citydesk the change would carry a great deal of influence in the courts.

“The fact that the Justice Department has changed its position reflects the fact that it can, in fact, change a historic position on a constitutional issue,” said Adler. Continue reading

Idaho Soldier Serving from the Closet. DADT Repeal Doesn’t Lift All Burdens

Boise Weekly City Desk Jody May-Chang

By Jody May-Chang
Originally published on BoiseWeekly.com Dec. 30, 2010

Despite the recent repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, the policy remains in effect for several more months at least, leaving an estimated 65,000 active duty military service members still vulnerable for discharge for being gay, lesbian or bisexual.

One Idaho soldier now serving in Afghanistan as a combat medic is risking more than her life for her country. She is risking discharge because she is also a lesbian.

To protect her identity Citydesk will refer to her only as “Savanna,” which is not her real name.

“My time in service has been rough,” said Savanna. “I was aware of the DADT policy, but I don’t believe now that any soldier who DADT directly affects really understands how difficult, mentally and emotionally, hiding their true identity will be until it’s too late to turn back.”

“During basic training,” Savanna recounted, “a small group of lesbians were unfairly blamed for being ‘too close’ to who was obviously a lesbian drill sergeant. I am thankful to have had a First Sergeant who stood for what he believed was right. He pulled each of the trainees facing the indiscretion aside and helped us to send home anything that could be perceived to be against the DADT policy (letters, pictures etc.) before the investigation began.”

“I am willing to die for my country. Who I go home to at night and who I love should hold no substance,” she said. Continue reading

One-on-One Interview: Fehrenbach Flying High Since DADT Repeal

By Jody May-Chang ©2010

Lt. Col. Victor FehrenbachBorn on Wright-Patterson AFB in Ohio where his father was a navigator and his mother a nurse, Lt. Col. Victor Fehrenbach was essentially born to serve.

After giving his entire adult life to the Air Force as a combat pilot, this highly decorated war hero has been grounded and sitting behind a desk for the last two and a half years.

After being outed as gay by a civilian, Fehrenbach learned, Sept. 11, 2008 his commander recommended him for separation from the U.S. Air Force under Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, (DADT).

Today however, the elated Fehrenbach no longer needs his jet to fly since President Obama signed the repeal of DADT into law Dec 22. Stationed at Mountain Home AFB since 2007, Fehrenbach talked to this reporter the next day about his turbulent journey.

The day of the Senate vote (Dec. 18), “I was actually in the Senate chamber,” said Fehrenbach. “I was counting on my fingers as we went.” Suspecting 61 votes and perhaps some surprises, he knew it was in the bag when his senator, George Voinovich (R-OH), voted yes.

“I knew then it would defiantly pass the 60 mark and I knew it was over.” The final vote was 65 to 31.“Gosh, there was probably ten minutes where I was extremely emotional,” Fehrenbach recalled. Continue reading

Free Speech Draws Criticism from Constitutional Defender

This morning the following comment was posted on piece I wrote almost two months ago:

Lee Arthur Rice II November 10th, 2010 at 11:06 am

“The name is Lee Arthur II of the Shines-Rice family. Unfortunately, the reporter is sadly mistaken about my actions. Had he taken the time to ask and speak with properly and in a professional manner he would have discovered the true regarding my drawing and actions. It is hypocritical and unethical to claim to be a reporter and not understand how to be or act like one. Much love and God bless.”

Mr. Rice’s comment was in response to the following image and caption about his art work. The story was a commentary piece on the re-launch of Bryan Fisher’s Idaho Values Alliance with new president Gary L. Brown. The publicized media event was sponsored by the conservative Idaho Freedom Foundation.

Idaho Values Alliance Press Conference Obama Swastika
God led African American artist Lee Arthur Rice II, (left above center) from voting for Obama to making him out to be a Nazi. At a public event where the media was invited to cover events taking place on State property, Rice exercises his Constitutional First Amendment right to free speech through displaying his art and handing out marketing materials. This staunch defender of the Constitutional Freedoms and Liberty that made this country great, hypocritically attempted to prevent this member of the press from taking a close-up of the swastikas Rice drew in Obama’s eyes.

Lee Arthur Rice II, Barack Obama, Nazi, Swastikas, Artist

Artist Lee Author Rice II handed out this double sided sales flier at a public media event Sept. 19, 2010 Constitution Day, promoting his art work of President Barack Obama with swastikas in his eyes. The other side is dedicated to promoting his right-wing conservative political group, Son's of the Republic.

Mr. Rice – First of all I, the reporter, am a woman not a man. Secondly, your art work was on display at a publicized event, on public property and the media was invited, making your attendance and display fair game for editorial use.

I vividly recall noticing your framed art piece leaning up against the large replica of the U.S. Constitution, I was intrigued. My first thought was, “Wow that is really good, great likeness.” My second thought, “What’s an Obama supporter doing here?” It seemed incongruent with the event’s Tea Party-esk message. Approaching closer to investigate I discovered the swastikas, it was shocking.

Before I had a chance to snap a photo, you handed me your flier. When I went to take the shot you said I could not take a picture because it was copy written. I told you it was a public media event on public property, and so I took the photo.

The images were news worthy then and are still. I did not see you keep other media from filming or photographing you or your work. However, you tried to stop me and I think we both know why. That, Mr. Rice, told me all I needed to know. There was nothing about my conduct that was unethical, unprofessional or hypocritical as you claim.

Like so many of your political ilk, there is a fundamentalist reverence for the U.S. Constitution. Yet, for those who do not pass the religious conservative litmus test, the Constitution gets conveniently tossed aside. Your selective application of the First Amendment on the steps of the Statehouse on of all days, Constitution Day is rich with hypocrisy.

Your flier, posted to the right, told me the meaning of your drawing. The other side of your pitch to sell your Obama-is-a-Nazi art work is all about the “Sovereign” group God led you to, that apparently moved you to draw swastikas in the eyes of an, otherwise beautiful portrait, of President Obama. Readers can decide for themselves.

Mr. Rice, you will notice on the top of the piece you commented on it says “COMMENTARY” which means, “critique,” “description,” “observation” or “review.” (thesaurus.com). I simply described what I observed as opinion.

Despite your distorted version of the facts and questioning my integrity, I have left your comment as a dissenting viewpoint on this very website, something your friends at the Idaho Values Alliance will not do.

We live in a country where I get to say what I want, and so do you. That is what freedom and liberty are all about. As a Jew whose family immigrated to the United States through Ellis Island escaping the Czarist Pogroms of 1905, I have a deeply personal understanding of what is, and is not, a Nazi. Obama is NOT a Nazi by any stretch of the imagination.

Although I find your art work extremely offensive and inflammatory, as an American, I wholeheartedly defend your right to display it loud and proud as a piece of provocative art and your expression of free speech.

Mr. Rice, if you truly feel I have misrepresented you or your work, then I invite you to sit down with me for a one-on-one, on-the-record interview, so you can explain why you felt compelled to draw swastikas in the eyes of a drawing of our first African American president and why you have a problem with me reporting my opinion about it at a public news event.

I promise you, and my readers, to ask fair and reasonable questions, to listen respectfully and accurately report your answers. All you have to do is send me an email to schedule it and show up.

Idaho Values Alliance Re-Launch Draws Sparse Crowd and Offered Mixed Messages

COMMENTARY

Idaho Values Alliance President Gary L. Brown.

IVA President Gary L. Brown

Former abstinence educator and pastor of Coeur d’Alene’s NorthStar Church , Gary L. Brown, stood at the steps of the Idaho Statehouse Friday and announced his new role as president of the Idaho Values Alliance.

IVA had been dormant since former polarizing Executive Director Bryan Fischer left Idaho to become a national figure with the American Family Association and is now famous for his anti-Muslim hate speech.

Brown addressed a small crowd of about 30-40 for Constitution Day about the country now being, “[E]mbroiled in a different kind of war [from the American revolution]. This is a war being fought on the battlefields of the hearts and the minds of every American and every Idahoan. This is a war that is not being fought with muskets and bayonets. The weapons of this war are ideas, principles and values.” Continue reading

Open Season On Hate

Yesterday when I got a text message that Barack Obama had just signed into law The Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Hate Crimes Prevention Act, I was elated. In my mind I could hear the collective cheering across the country. Finally now we are legally defined and bias-motivated crimes against LGBT people would now be recognized for what we have known them to be all along, hate crimes.

Although law enforcement is now empowered to investigate and prosecute bias-motivated violence against LGBT people, that still does not change the hearts and minds of those who still hate us, especially those who see us as objects for sport.

On my way to an appointment less than a half mile from my home, I see a Toyota jacked up to where I would need a latter just to get in. On the back cab window was a pink sticker that said ‘Navy Wife’. I think to myself, there is a proud woman who is supporting her husband and our military! That’s nice.

Then I see this other sticker. I can’t really make it out so I inch slowly closer so I can read it. The woman probably thought I was going to hit her. I start to make it out. I was in utter disbelief. I just could not believe my eyes, I think my mouth even fell open. This was so disturbing that just a short distance from the safety of my home, in my own neighborhood, this proud Navy wife would probably like to see me and many of the people I love dead! If not, even just the thought that this was somehow funny is chilling.

We still have so much work to do! The truck proudly displayed this sticker:

Liberal Hunting Permit