Achy Obejas

writer & translator


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The GOP can’t stop repealing Obamacare

SC State Sen. Bill Chumley

SC State Sen. Bill Chumley

It never stops. Ever.

The Republican obsession with repealing Obamacare continues, no matter that a Republican appointee on the Supreme Court provided the vote to determine its constitutionality. No matter that people rejected the party’s presidential ticket– which ran on the premise of repealing the law on the first day of their term.

The Republican-led U.S. House has voted to repeal the law 33 times, with a new effort underway already in the 113th Congress sponsored by Rep. Michelle Bachman. And now the U.S. Senate, where we have come to expect a bit more reason, has a new GOP sponsored bill to consider which would eliminate the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate, thus rendering it useless by uncoupling its programs from its funding mechanism.

And that, of course, is not all.

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Sandy Hook ‘truthers’ warn about Obama gun plan

(Text from conspiracy website about Sandy Hook)
President Barack Obama went for broke today, announcing plans to introduce legislation by next week: an assault weapons ban, limits on high-capacity magazines, expanded background checks and new gun trafficking laws.

Daring the GOP — polls strongly support the White House on this issue — Obama also promised to bypass Congress and executive order his way to increased enforcement of existing laws and better communication among federal agencies on gun matters.

Talking tough, right? Talking legacy, eh?

Not according to a group who believes this is the result of a carefully planned conspiracy to take away U.S. guns and lead us closer to a fascist state.

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Best Picture breakdowns: ‘Life of Pi’ a gorgeous visual and spiritual journey

lifeofpi

 

I encountered Yann Martel’s Life of Pi with a chip on my shoulder, determined not to like it. Acontroversy whirled around it, not just because the premise was almost identical to Moacyr Scliar’s Max and the Cats, but because Martel — though freely acknowledging the inspiration — had been a total dick about it.

“Why put up with a brilliant premise ruined by a lesser writer?” Martel had said by way of explaining why he’d never read Scliar’s brilliant little book but took its idea for his own.

As an admirer of Scliar’s, I was disgusted by Martel and went into the pages of Pi looking for evidence of the lesser writer. What I found instead was a beautiful story that hooked me from the go: I loved the writing if not the writer.

And when I heard a movie was to be made of it, I was taken aback: What could this story about spirituality, about such a personal journey, render visually besides, well, a shipwrecked boy and a tiger on a boat? A story about loss — and Pi loses everything: his family, his country, his purpose — is marked by absence.

Forgive me my lack of imagination: Director Ang Lee and cinematographer Claudio Miranda have opened up this very insular story with a stunning visual palette. Indeed, it’s the best and most assured use of 3-D I’ve ever seen. There are so few of the usual attention grabbers and so many utterly breathtaking moments. The ocean itself, water, is almost a universe in itself: a peach colored mirror, a sky crowded with constellations, a tomb, a glass partition between life and death, earth and heaven. It’s a place of plenty and a black hole, a torment and cradle of divine grace.

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Obama chooses gay affirming Latino priest for inauguration

luis leon
President Barack Obama finally got it right: He picked another Cuban to participate in the inauguration, a gay-affirming Episcopal priestnamed Luis León. Miami has never loved Barack as much as it does these days, with two locals sharing the inaugural spotlight: León and poet Richard Blanco, the son of Cuban exiles and the first openly gay man to participate in these festivities.

But León won’t be making history, like Blanco, as the first Latino to give the blessing this time. That’s because he was the first Latino to give the blessing in 2005, for President George W. Bush.

That’s right: In his inauguration for a second term, after a campaign in which Bush explicitly and outrageously supported a constitutional amendment to ban same sex marriage, Bush — the evangelical and right wing fave — reached out to León, whose church has gay, non-celibate priests, once had a gay bishop, blesses same sex unions and ordains trans priests.

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How did Jim Giglio get picked in the first place?

Rev. Louie Giglio was to deliver the benediction at President Barack Obama's inauguration but withdrew after LGBTQ groups protested anti-gay remarks he made in the 1990s. (AP/File)

Rev. Louie Giglio was to deliver the benediction at President Barack Obama’s inauguration but withdrew after LGBTQ groups protested anti-gay remarks he made in the 1990s. (AP/File)

I have no idea what the Rev. Louie Gigliothinks about gay people these days. But in a sermon from 15 years ago, he called homosexuality a sin and sought to entice repentance from followers who engaged in it. And that, apparently, is what got Giglio disinvited from the presidential inauguration, where he was set to to give the benediction.

Believe me, I was pretty dismayed to see President Obama invite yet another evangelical preacher with a negative focus on queers to come celebrate the beginning of his second term after he had Rich Warren, whose record of inflammatory anti-gay preaching is pretty clear, at his historic first inaugural.

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Richard Blanco — gay, Latino poet — chosen for inauguration

 

 

 

 

 

blanco
For years, whenever I visited my mom in Miami, she’d casually mention a friend she ran into now and then whom, she said, also had a child who’s a poet. I don’t actually identify much as a poet — I’m much too in awe of real poets to do more than dip a toe in — but I didn’t go out of my way to mention this. What I soon realized was that her friend’s offspring and I shared several attributes not often sources of pride in our families, and what she and her friend shared, I think, was a way of being relaxed and happy about their queer Cuban children and their writing — in both cases, in a language different than theirs.

Several years ago, long after we’d met — though I don’t remember where we met, exactly, somewhere writerly or Cuban or both — Richard Blanco and I were at a bar here in Chicago during an AWP event and he said, “You know your mom’s friend is my mom, right?”

So when I heard today’s news — that this sweet, kind, talented, gorgeous and big-hearted Cuban gay man had been tapped as President Barack Obama’s inaugural poet for his second swearing in — I had to take a breath and hold my heart.

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Gay GOP group hits Hagel with ad, ignores Republican homophobes

File: Sen. Chuck Hagel, R-Neb. in 2007, on Capitol Hill in Washington.

File: Sen. Chuck Hagel, R-Neb. in 2007, on Capitol Hill in Washington.

When it comes to queer stuff, Republicans never cease to amaze and amuse me.
Here in Illinois, Pat Brady, chair of the state GOP, just came out unequivocally for same sex marriage while the crazies in Congress just authorized yet more bucks to keep defending the Defense of Marriage Act in the courts — a bill whose costs already exceeds $2 million in taxpayer money.

Meanwhile, last week, the Log Cabin Republicans, the oldest gay GOP group out there, threw away $100,000 on a full page adin the New York Times denouncing former Nebraska Sen. Chuck Hagel because he once wondered aloud if an openly gay ambassador — whom he stupidly described as “openly, aggressively gay” — was a good idea.

What’s so wrong with that? Well, for starters, Hagel hasn’t been nominated or appointed to anything. The ad calling him out is based on a rumor — a persistent one, I admit — that President Obama is considering Hagel, an honest to God maverick Republican, to lead the Pentagon. But Hagel has been pummeled so hard for once having referred to pro-Israel forces as the “Jewish lobby,” and for expressing a willingness to talk to countries such as Iran and Pakistan, that it’s unlikely that he’ll ever actually get the nod.

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