March 11, 2011

Footage of the Great San Diego Tsunami of 2011.

As Goes Iowa…

January 5, 2011

By Chad Belville, Guest Satyriconista

Iowa, a square state in the Heartland, is one of the few states in the US that allows any two adults of legal age to marry, regardless of gender. Unlike every other state where Supreme Courts found that government should legally recognize the unions of two same-sex adults, the Iowa decision was unanimous and shot down all arguments against limiting legal recognition, including those of tradition, religious bias, and the red herring argument that removing the gender restriction of two adults to enter into a bi-lateral contract will lead to allowing persons to enter into contracts with plants, animals, or upend the entire bi-lateral nature of the marriage license and allow polygamous marriages. The decision was well-written and should be a foundation for all other states to follow.

Immediately following the decision, the usual right-wing activists vowed to reverse it and take those rights away with an amendment to the Iowa Constitution. This requires approval by both House and Senate in two consecutive sessions of the Legislature followed by a popular vote. Democrats in control of both chambers refused to bring the issue to the floor, thus maintaining the equal rights of all adult citizens.
This past November, Republicans took control of the Iowa House of Representatives, who vowed to pass a bill that could eventually send the issue to the voters. The Iowa Senate remained in control of the Democrats and the Leader of the Senate, Mike Gronstal, has vowed not to bring this discriminatory amendment for a vote. Senator Gronstal can effectively keep such an insidious vote at bay for this legislative term but what happens beyond 2012 remains a mystery. His position is that civil rights of minorities should never be subject to approval by a popular vote, and he is absolutely correct.

As more time passes, more people realize gay people are not imported from far-away lands to indoctrinate kindergarteners but instead are their friends, neighbors, and relatives. Attitudes change and the urgency to take away the legal right to not testify against a same-sex spouse fades. These right-wing wackos know that time is not on their side; they know that if they do not pass constitutional amendments right now their battles will be lost as public opinion turns against them. Massachusetts has a similar system of amendment; after passing once and failing the second time through both Houses the issue died off. The fanatics moved on to take away or prevent establishment of rights for gay couples in other states where their shrieking could be effective.

In the State of Iowa, one man really stands in their way. Senator Gronstal’s position on equality and civil rights has painted a target on his back for the social conservatives who wish to turn back time. The National Organization for Marriage will expend millions of dollars to unseat him as punishment for opposing their bigoted beliefs, regardless of whether or not they can ever succeed in passing an amendment through both Houses in consecutive sessions. They led a successful campaign to remove 3 of the 7 Justices from the bench of the Iowa Supreme Court so their threats must be taken seriously.

Over the next two years, tremendous pressure will be put on Senator Gronstal to allow a vote on the floor of the Iowa Senate. Groups that are friendly only to Ozzie and Harriet-style families but not any others will pour money into anti-gay campaigns in an attempt to roll back the rights of a very small minority for the sake of their religious purity. Iowa is a small state, and the money from outside organizations will have a serious effect on the outcome. For now, equality in marriage is the law of the land in Iowa, but it is extremely vulnerable. The old saying is that “So goes Iowa, so goes the country” which used to apply to Presidential primaries but applies here and now to the issue of equal rights in the eyes of government. I have donated directly to Senator Gronstal’s campaign and to OneIowa, the umbrella civil rights organization that is countering NOM’s campaign of bigotry. I will continue to donate all of my equal rights contributions to Iowa organizations because the battle there is so acute and my donation dollars can do the most good. While I support things like the Employment Non Discrimination Act, the outcome of national equal rights activism is not on such a tiny fulcrum as in Iowa. I am asking anyone that will listen to join me in donating to the campaign of Senator Gronstal and OneIowa where small donations WILL make a difference.



Rest in Slack, Brother

December 30, 2010

In honor of Cliff Heller, who merged with the infinite on this day in 2006, the Legal Satyricon flag is lowered to half mast and there will be no posts today.

If you happen to find yourself with a bottle of tequila nearby, I would like to invite you to take a shot in his honor.

Blue Skies and Rest in Slack

Blue Skies and Rest in Slack

Charitable Satyriconistas

December 20, 2010

By Vaughn Greenwalt

Keeping with the spirit of giving this Christmas holiday season, we at The Legal Satyricon are giving back to the causes we support. It is our hope that you, our readers, will also give back in any way you can. If you haven’t tucked one of those long-shaped cards (that every kid knows has money in it) under the shedding pine of an organization yet, here are some ideas from yours truly:

Tatiana Von Tauber supports the Young Survival Coalition Savannah and is a driving force behind The Art Cure project.

THE Marc Randazza will be donating to The Art Cure . Marc is donating to The Art Cure for no particular political reason. He just did it to support Tatiana, because that’s how he rolls.

Marc will also be donating to Public Citizen, because despite the fact that he disagrees with them pretty often, they support free speech fights where others dare not tread. They often take on over-reaching intellectual property owners — and even have resisted some of Marc’s own own efforts. But, even when they make Marc’s paid gig more difficult, he recognizes that it has nothing to do with ego, and that PC and its people are the real deal. Marc feels that they are, quite possibly, the most important group fighting for free speech today.

Satyricon henchman, J. Malcolm Devoy is donating to The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) . Ever since his newspaper imbroglio in college, he has been trying to support them annually, along with everyone else caught in that situation. On one level, it’s fun to get under the skin of people who wear ugly hats and use “other” as a verb. But FIRE has been an important force supporting students in the face of self-preserving faculty members and college/university administrations, and participated in some important impact litigation.

When asked what charity he was donating to this year Jason A Fischer replied “Fuck charity (just kidding).” Jason supports Medecins Sans Frontieres, a.k.a. Doctors Without Borders , and Feeding America. Jason know these organizations don’t have anything overtly to do with political causes, but that’s how Jason rolls.

This year Jessica Christensen gave to the non-profit “Margins of Faith,” which is the organization that supports the online magazine Killing the Buddha. Ktb was founded by and is run by friends of hers from her undergraduate days at Hampshire College, and had its 10th anniversary this year. Normally, in the past she has given each year to NPR and then volunteered locally. This year, she volunteered with CUESA CUESA (her local farmer’s market in SF), but she’s giving to KtB in lieu of NPR (in part because NPR has pissed her off of late). Jessica will also be volunteering at a soup kitchen in Bremerton, WA on Christmas Eve this year.

Vaughn Greenwalt is a broke-ass law student and this job only pays him in an ABA Top 100 voice to talk shit. However, this year he will try to muster up enough text book buy-back money to donate to Helping Hands: Monkey Helpers for the Disabled. Helping Hands is a national nonprofit serving quadriplegic and other people with severe spinal cord injuries or mobility-impairments by providing highly trained monkeys to assist with daily activities. Vaughn is donating to them because his simple mind thinks it is cool as shit; he’s always wanted a monkey helper and he’s not even (technically) disabled. If it would make his life easier he’s sure it would make a handicapable person’s life easier too! If he has anything left over he will donate to the Electronic Frontier Foundation because he will probably be asking for them for a job after graduation and he hopes they will see this post. EFF is a donor-funded nonprofit and depends on your support to continue successfully defending your digital rights. Because two-thirds of their budget comes from individual donors, every contribution is critical to helping EFF fight — and win — more cases.

Charles Platt donates to everyone from “crazy far left journalist” to cacti. Charles will be showering his (apparently) excessive funds on The Institute for Justice (fighting eminent domain laws right now), The ACLU, Families Against Mandatory Minimums (still fighting, although not winning), Counterpunch (puts slightly crazy far-left journalism online), Infowars (the Alex Jones site, puts extreme libertarian/conspiracy
videos online), and The Desert Botanical Gardens: Phoenix, AZ

Happy holidays from all of us here at The Legal Satyricon to you and our organizations of choice. It is our hope you will find one of our causes to your liking and contribute as well. Best of luck in the new year!

Joy to the world, and naked women

December 7, 2010

By Tatiana von Tauber

"Size Zero" is a downer.

As a boudoir photographer I see lots of women naked. Most clients fall into two groups: Those who look so hotter than they ever thought they could, or those who use boudoir photography to confirm they are as fat, cellulite-ish or unsexy as they feared (I’m an artist, not a Photoshop God). Too often I deal with clients’ self-body hatred and it’s come to a bothersome point — having befriended women whose bodies are scarred not for beauty but for self-preservation and basic survival.

While producing The Art Cure project, a breast cancer awareness art show and charity event this October, I met a group of wonderful women who have battled breast cancer and won. The leader of a Savannah breast cancer awareness affiliate is a proud survivor; however, just days ago she was re-diagnosed with a malignant spot in her breast and will undergo surgery Thursday. Chemo may be necessary as well.

Another friend, a 34 y/o mother of 4 is a BRCA 1 gene carrier meaning she’s 90% more likely to develop breast cancer in her lifetime than a non-carrier. Her mother is a survivor and most likely, at least one of her 4 children will have the gene too. Having options, my friend chose preventive surgery and had a double mastectomy less than a year ago and Thursday she’s having a hysterectomy to avoid her increased risk of ovarian cancer because of the gene. In fact, with unexpected complications with reconstructive surgery to her breasts she’s undergone over 10 surgeries this year alone. Of course, just this morning we heard Elizabeth Edwards’ cancer fight has come to a matter of time before she dies. Doctors can do no more and that further slumped my morning bliss.

I’m slightly paralyzed mentally as I battle the reality of having friends who seem to be having what I’d call “real” problems yet dealing with women on various levels who create their problems.

I have friends dying of cancer, replacing their breasts with scars to save their lives and find myself stuck in a very judgmental state of mind: fuck the silicone to add an extra cup to your lacking boobie confidence. Who cares about the extra flab on your thigh when your 45 year old ass looks so much sexier than your own mom’s ass at that age? That a 45 year old woman can pass as a MILF these days, now that’s something to applause because in my childhood women at 45 were old and quickly turning into fat grandmas while discarded into the kitchen or bingo games. I’m sure your grandmother looked more like Mrs. Doubtfire than anything Hollywood produces as mainstream mid-life bombshell turned rather hot “for your age” grandma. Don’t boo-hoo to me that you don’t like your own aging body and have me Photoshop you into a blur so you don’t have to face your own reality. At least you have a healthy body I want to say. I mean all this respectfully, of course, but sometimes being nice about it just doesn’t sink in.

Helping women realize their beauty is wonderful and rewarding. It’s the part of my job I get high on. Convincing women their imperfections are not ugly is another matter. It’s like being a lawyer and facing a deadlocked jury. The frustration of all that work to end up at a dead-end is baffling, annoying and draining. The biggest harm women do to themselves is to believe men actually give a damn about their cellulite or other female obsessed imperfections.

In the grouping of those I consider good friends and women I care about, one announced her malignant bump yesterday; another undergoes removing the last bit of biological femininity she was born with two days from now; another recently wrote about personal struggles from Borderline Personality Disorder wherein the meds are killing the once active sex drive (which really has a snowball effect) and another who deals daily with the struggle of the death of her child from a disease. I top this off with the fact that I live my life with a man I dearly love and who struggles daily with wounds from war, VA bureaucracy and PTSD as a result of serving in the United States Army for “freedom”.

I feel a more pressing need for higher meaning in my life this season than the usual.   The American Humanist Association suggests we celebrate “Reason” this season rather than “myth” of God.  I suggest we celebrate our lives, our bodies and our families.  Period.

I’m having one of those days where a good walk, a breath of fresh air and deep gratitude for my status quo is in order. I am healthy and surrounded by love. Most importantly, I know my worth and understand my value. Too many women are blind to theirs. In fact, on different levels the same applies to men.

Perhaps a good walk in the cool air is a good idea for you too. Ponder love and then see where your mind travels.

Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays and a Happy New Year to you all.

Tatiana von Tauber

Everything we know about life may change today

December 3, 2010

Nasa has apparently discovered a new life form – in a poisonous lake in California, no less. Wired explains:

All life on Earth is made of six components: carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, oxygen, phosphorus and sulfur. Every being, from the smallest amoeba to the largest whale, shares the same life stream. Our DNA blocks are all the same. (source)

But this little critter uses arsenic instead of sulfur phosphorous. If there can be an arsenic-based life form on earth, who knows what could be waiting for us out there…. pretty goddamned cool stuff if you ask me. Nasa is supposed to tell us more at 2 pm.

A Thanksgiving Prayer – William S. Burroughs

November 25, 2010

h/t Bob