Friday, June 29, 2012

Firewall Friday

I heard it exclaimed like this just this week, "it's hotter than fish grease in here!" I couldn't have put it any more colorful except to say that heat wave 2012 is happening all over including here inside COP 24/7. There was so much news that came crashing through both last week and this week that my smokin keyboard went into a "tilt" mode while my monitored literally said "going to sleep!" However, all is well and the dualing laptops are up and running ready to keep the flow of our unique take on the day's happenings and more. If the heat is on and its June, can it get any hotter in July. With all that saidd, now lets work!

The Healthcare Blizzard

After yesterday's historic Supreme Court decision to uphold the Affordable Care Act, the "blizzzard" of hate, hand wringing, definance, gutter politics and the kitchen sink has been thrown out for discussion by right wingers and "wingnuts" who seemed to loose their minds at the decision. The level of rhetoirc and veribage went beyond the pail and often lost sight of the fact that despite fault lines within this measure, health care reform was another "kicking the can" down the road procedure that Congress is so infamous for. So AHCA has been contested on almost every court level including the highest of our system which stated that it is constitutional that such an act can be instituted and provisions within it enacted. Now Congressional naysayers will be trying more political theater with a scheduled July 22 vote to reapeal this measure which seeks to assist those with pre-exisiting conditions, indiviudals who faced bankruptable situations, lifetime caps that precluded catastrophic care and basic access to affordable insurance for families. Plus the Supreme Court's decision allows the Obama administration to go forward with a law that will extend health coverage to as many as 30 million Americans through private health insurance and Medicaid starting in 2014. Furthermore, under the law, people who earn 133 percent of the federal poverty level or less will qualify for Medicaid coverage. Those whose income is between 133 percent and 400 percent of the poverty level will be eligible for tax credits to defray the cost of health insurance. Companies with at least 50 employees will have to provide health benefits to workers or pay a penalty to the government, and some smaller companies will receive tax credits for employee health insurance. And nearly every American will be required to obtain some form of health care coverage or face a penalty under the individual mandate. For those living with chronic illness such as HIV and AIDS, this is good news which will assist with creating a substanable pathway to either access care or remain in care. However, I was most disturbed by a picture on Facebook of a coffin draped in a U.S. flag with the caption, " death of the Constitution, 6.28.12," nothing could be further from the truth. Especially as Chief Justice actually quotes founding father Ben Franklin in his self written opinion concerning the governments taxing abilities as well as responsiblities involved with that element of our Constitution. For me, that doesn't sound any death bow by any stretch of the imagination. Meanwhile Presidential candidate Romney has continued his classic "flip flopping" with his "on day one of my administration I will reapeal Obamacare," stomp  that will resonate to those who are hell bent on removing President Obama from office, but I predict will eventually fall flat when he's pressed for details and alternatives. No matter where you stand on this issue, the stage has been set, the wagons are circling and there's gonna be a serious battle royal come this fall. Get ready to get your vote on!!  Watch this forum for continuing coverage, updates and breaking news surrounding this issue and more. (links courtesy of

Know Not?: The Video Rubuttal

Wednesday was offically reconized as National HIV Testing Day which included messaging from President Obama, CDC officials and collaborators around the country. Locally the Arkansas Deparrtment of Health promoted the day with its typical press conference to finally roll out it's long awaited HIV Awareness Campaign, "Know Now," crafted by bid winner Advantage Communications. The day was to commence with your ususal "window dresssing" of speakers, politicos and photo op's that are intended to send signals that you are down with the "order of the day" and so forth and so on. However, even as this campaign was being seen for the first time,  the images presented appeared to be represenative and to some degree culturally sensitive, however with a closer look the mising link was no same gender couples publicly represented in the presentation. Despite constant questioning from this forum, it has never been clear as to the destination of these posters. It's been mentioned that they will be offered to local barber shops, I assume beauty shops and other possible venues. Will they appear in local gay watering holes is undetermined. Also who will be apart of this distribution network or when these will be available also seems to be still pending. So what's up with all of this, since the Fed's spent almost 50 times as many Benjamins on their well crafted public relations campaign that prominently featured African Americans in numerous phases of gay life including "coupling." I can't go on without mentioning that their "already paid for" campaign was rolled out months ago and was directly available to states for "click and play" use. Yet it was decided that Arkansas would somehow trump that campaign with our own home grown mash up resulting in the "know Now" outcome. Meanwhile, the gents of Strilite who were not "officially" invited nor notified of the event which is a bit typical of those hastedly arranged ADH events, believed that this distinct omission was a "OUCH" moment. After an agressive power discussion, it was decided that a "rebuttal" was their order of the day which resulted in the full slide presentation being embeded on The Living Affected Facebook, You Tube and an embed here in this forum. The group surmized that if their work to empower and demonstrate pride among their peers wasn't apart of the public mix, by an institution that bound the group to the D-UP program which is a diffusion of innovation, which cites that self efficacy as a vital element to its success. How could this imaging be stigmatized and kept seperate from the entire campaign. It was the decision of the group to move ahead to mimic ADH's campaign noting their concerns and questions about off stage decisions that resulted in the exclusion. In full disclosure, I have been apart of this mentorship from its inception and believed in their concerns which led to my participation in the effort. Both at pre and post time, the search was on for comments and explanations on this mis-step. Already some have chided that this is a "much a do about nothing."  I couldn't disagree more. I find it disconcerting that a evidenced based intervention was plucked and inserted as a prevention module without a full understanding of the direct self efficacy messaging that its facilitators would embody and be charged to deploy to peers. The module chosen needed to connect the dots to all necesary messaging needed across the board. Its simply unacceptable to continue this "frankenmess" approach that when opportunity presents itself to control the "message" with consistency, continuity and aligned with cultural sensitivity it falls short due to some perhaps "comfort zone" thinking. I find it unthinkable to shepard the next generation of GBM into credible Opinion Leaders meanwhile not urging them to have an "opinion" on issues associated with their mission of "Brothers Keeping Brothers Safe." I would rather step aside than to allow these gentlemen to believe that the tongues untied of James Baldwin, Langston Hughes, Bayard Rustin, or Barbra Jordan that pre-date them were in vain and meant nothing in speaking to the powerful on behalf of the oppressed. I've let them know that "it's not only about taking your seat at the table, but demanding to be heard at the table is paramount."  The questions are basic, "why was the decision made to not display the images? Who made that decision? What was the rationale? And how do they justify their actions?  In closing just as the Know Not campaign states, ain't nobody mad, it seems that we "know now," that somebody's got some splanin to do. Let the dialog begin and begin and begin get the picture.


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