Monday, December 31, 2007
Poor Bradley. He doesn't know what to do when Nikko steals his new bed. He's too timid to chase the cat away, so he goes into Dan's room when his bed is occupied. The "children" are a hoot sometimes.
Today's New York Times is full of hard hitting commentary on the state of our country. Read Paul Krugman on the two different universes that are the major political parties in America today. Of the Republicans he writes: "the G.O.P. is still controlled by a conservative movement that does not tolerate deviations from tax-cutting, free-market, greed-is-good orthodoxy." And don't forget the kowtowing that all the Republicans do the nut case fringe fundamentalist Christian right. Read Roger Cohen on how the disastrous and now in shambles American foreign policy in Pakistan contributed to the death of Benazir Bhutto. Finally, be sure to red the lead editorial for a scathing recap of the horrendous Bush presidency post 9-11.
Perhaps in 2008 we will see some national course corrections. Let's hope so.
Happy New Year!
Sunday, December 30, 2007
Our good friends Richard and Tom treated us to a lovely dinner last evening at "Knock," a trendy new restaurant in downtown Philadelphia. We had a great meal and a great time. Thanks Richard and Tom!
Saturday, December 29, 2007
High on the list of things that make my blood boil, pun intended, is the archaic and bigoted lifetime ban on giving blood directed at any gay man who has ever had sex with another man.
This ban is totally discriminatory and a relic of the past. In these days I hear pleas for blood donors on a daily basis. The science does not support an arbitrary lifetime ban on gay men in light of the fact that other even higher risk groups are not excluded, and all donated blood is tested. Before the ban I was a regular blood donor. This policy hurts innocent people who could benefit from blood donations by people such as myself.
I have just read and signed the petition: "FDA: Stop Banning Gay Men From Donating Blood"
Do you believe gay men should have the right to donate blood? Please take a moment to read about this important issue, and join me in signing the petition. It takes just 30 seconds, but can truly make a difference. Please sign here:
Thanks and Happy New Year!
PHOTO: Philadelphia's Boat House Row beautifully illuminated for the holidays with all new hi-tech LED lighting (click on the photo to enlarge it)
Friday, December 28, 2007
The clock from the Macy's light show reminds me that time is running out in 2007. There are just s few short days left until 2008. It was a pretty good year for us, I think. We did some foreign travel and enjoyed summer very much. The holidays were fun. Let's hope that 2008 is another good year.
The murder of Benazir Bhutto continues to be in the news. The turmoil that is occurring could escalate into something worse. The Bush policy of propping up Musharraf and hoping for democratic elections is in shambles. We continue to pour money into Pakistan ostensibly to help Musharraf fight terrorism, yet some observers feel that there is no oversight coming from us and that the money is actually going toward arming Pakistan against India. We're focused on Iran, which does not have nuclear weapons, while Pakistan, that does have bombs, is in danger of melting down. Speaking of 2008, I hope we can get through the last horrible year of George Bush's presidency without something else terrible happening. (Is that better, Dan?)
Wednesday, December 26, 2007
PHOTO: Rudolph at Macy's
Tuesday, December 25, 2007
Photo: The Nutcracker and Clara from the Macy's holiday light show.
Monday, December 24, 2007
Sunday, December 23, 2007
Saturday, December 22, 2007
PHOTO: A great holiday display at Philadelphia's Bellevue Stratford hotel.
Friday, December 21, 2007
Thursday, December 20, 2007
Macy's has spared no expense in revamping the historic Grand Court Light Show. Here are some excerpts featuring new narration by Julie Andrews, showing the new LED lighting and the new stuctural framework that enambles Macy's workers to more easily install and take down the display.
Wednesday, December 19, 2007
Tuesday, December 18, 2007
PHOTO: The next to the last in the series of Macy's Philadelphia holiday display windows.
Monday, December 17, 2007
Sunday, December 16, 2007
Author Philip Pullman, who wrote the book on which the movie is based, has this to say about Catholic League chief nutcase William Donohue:
"Why don't we trust readers? Why don't we trust filmgoers? Oh, it causes me to shake my head with
sorrow that such nitwits could be loose in the world."
PHOTO: The third in the series of Macy's Phila. holiday windows.
Saturday, December 15, 2007
PHOTOS: The second in the series of Macy's Philadelphia holiday store display windows. CLICK ON THE PHOTOS TO ENLARGE.
Friday, December 14, 2007
Thursday, December 13, 2007
In today's New York Times., columnist Roger Cohen comments on Mitt Romney's religion speech:
Religion informed America’s birth. But its distancing from politics was
decisive to the republic’s success. Indeed, the devastating European experience
of religious war influenced the founders’ thinking. That is why I find Romney’s
speech and the society it reflects far more troubling than Europe’s vacant
Romney allows no place in the United States for atheists. He
opines that, “Freedom requires religion just as religion requires freedom.” Yet
secular Sweden is free while religious Iran is not. Buddhism, among other great
Oriental religions, is forgotten.
He shows a Wikipedia-level appreciation of
other religions, admiring “the commitment to frequent prayer of the Muslims” and
“the ancient traditions of the Jews.” These vapid nostrums suggest his innermost
conviction of America’s true faith. A devout Christian vision emerges of a U.S.
society that is in fact increasingly diverse.
Romney rejects the “religion
of secularism,” of which Europe tends to be proud. But he should consider that
Washington is well worth a Mass. The fires of the Reformation that reduced St.
Andrews Cathedral to ruin are fires of faith that endure in different, but no
less explosive, forms. Jefferson’s “wall of separation” must be restored if
those who would destroy the West’s Enlightenment values are to be
If the Republicans get their way, and a Huckabee or a Romney is elected president, we will have a cultist as president. If this happens, the United States will then be held hostage to a cult, the Christian cult. Alarm bells should be sounding in the minds of all Americans who treasure freedom. If this drift toward making the country a Christian cultist bastion is not stopped, we will lose the freedoms that made this country great. These Christian cultists must be stopped.
Wednesday, December 12, 2007
Just imagine what the Europeans must be thinking about the United States. We criticize the Arab states over their fundamentalist Muslim believers. Yet, here at home we have fundamentalist Christians running for president who openly declare that their religion is what guides them and will guide them as president.
No wonder the Arabs fear another crusade!
PHOTO: Philadelphia's holiday tree located at City Hall Plaza
Tuesday, December 11, 2007
"I am relieved to find your blog and so agree with all of it. I am living in a red state until I can figure out how to get back to NY. In the short course of my employment here I found out that Florida, land of the chad,is also an"at will" work state which means that individuals have no rights.As far as I can tell "At Will" "work is a polite descriptor for contemporary institutionalized slavery and is the creation by the same people who believe in outsourcing our work to countries who do use slaves to make goods. Now I can tell you this is an oxymoron: workers have no rights here and can be kicked out of work for any reason whatsoever with the exception of discrimination at the state level but I can tell you having been let go recently after two months of working for a company here in Florida that companies can make up any reason and throw the baby out with the bathwater. I was clearly discriminated against because I am an advocate for gay rights and suggested they create a support group for gay men in their facility.What's worse like a typical child sex abuse perpetrator I was told not to tell anyone or I would not get my severance pay. I had to sign a document that stated that I gave up all of my civil liberties under the law. This all in the context of a substance abuse treatment facility that wants the NY market! Can you imagine! In addition there is a move to create a Christian workplace in this facility as well. This is all mostly unspoken and happens underground since the company takes public monies. Each area of it has a Christian minister who presides over it overtly and not and I suspect weeds out those people who are not Christian or who are not invested in their agenda. I was fired because someone perceived me to have an interest in creating a "gay movement" on campus. "Don't talk, Don't tell" permeates the culture and workplace here.Make no mistake about it West Palm Beach is NOT a gay friendly place no matter how you look at it and if you have money Florida loves you but if you are a worker who needs work "fogetaboutit"."
Barbara Ann Levy
Barbara, we're sorry that Florida didn't work out for you. Hurry back to New York.
I'm not surprised at this story. The town in Florida with the highest concentration of gay and lesbian people, Ft. Lauderdale, has a rabidly homophobic mayor (Naugle) who has joined with conservative fundamentalist religious leaders in a campaign to demonize gays. There's no way we're moving to Florida or even considering visiting again anytime soon.
My guess is that this race has a few more twists and turns. Something
terrible could happen in the world, in which case the wartime mentality would be
back in spades. Obama and Huckabee could beat Clinton and Romney,
respectively, in the early states, only to fall victim to their own weaknesses
later on. You laugh, but this thing could still spin into the lap of Fred
Thompson or John McCain, Chris Dodd or Joe Biden.
Actually, that would be refreshing. It's time to really shake up politics in this country. However, none of these candidates (Thompson, McCain, Biden, Dodd) represent the kind of change that we need.
PHOTO: The beautiful holiday tree at Philadelphia's "Love Park."
Monday, December 10, 2007
Here's what Andrew Sullivan believes we are becoming:
"Theodemocracy: the blending of government with a universally ChristianNow, add to that the detestable Huckabee, who stands by his determination to quarantine people with AIDS, and Rudolph Giuliani, who said yesterday that gays are not sinful but their actions are.
populace in which faith is the prerequisite of public office. This is the vision of America that Romney is proposing. He has behind him the power brokers of the Protestant right, the theocons of the Catholic right, the Mormon church and the vested interests of a Republican party elite that, in the wake of George W Bush, wants to extend the theodemocratic principles of an antisecular movement.
What has happened to America?
PHOTO: At Liberty Place in downtown Philadelphia, daily holiday concerts.
Sunday, December 9, 2007
PHOTO: One last beautiful fall 07 shot of these fiery maples along the path of our morning walk in Fairmount Park.
Saturday, December 8, 2007
PHOTO: Bradley enjoys the carpet of gold provided by our favorite tree. This year the tree dropped its leaves during the Thanksgiving holiday.
Friday, December 7, 2007
Thursday, December 6, 2007
The last great liberal era in the U.S. occurred almost 45 years ago, when important civil rights legislation was passed and Medicare was instituted under Lyndon B. Johnson's "Great Society." With the election of Richard Nixon in 1968, we embarked upon our national journey to the right. Most notably, under the "Great Communicator," Mr. Reagan, the progressive income tax structure that was in place was gutted, adding fuel to the growth of economic inequality that today is nothing short of disgraceful. Right wing Republican presidents have predominated in office since Nixon, interrupted only by Jimmy Carter's failed presidency, and Bill Clinton's eight years of "centrist" governance that was marked notably by the destruction of welfare, called "welfare reform," which threw many poor people into the streets. "Dubbya" Bush, with the complicity of Democratic lawmakers, passed yet another tax cut for the rich during his first term and tried to destroy social security during his second term. Social Security, of course, is the most important lasting liberal program remaining from F.D.R's "New Deal," which was the great liberal era previous to LBJ's "Great Society."
On the social front, right wing politicians now universally demonize "illegal" immigrants to the point where hate crimes against them are on the increase. Attempts have been made to pass a national constitutional amendment banning gay marriage, a blatant attempt to actually write discrimination into our constitution for the first time in our history. A few "blue" states treat gays and lesbians better, but only one allows marriage and thirty some states have written discriminatory provisions banning gay marriage into their constitutions.
As for our stature as a respected citizen nation of the world, that has been destroyed by our illegal war and occupation of Iraq. We refuse to sign the Kyoto Agreement, the treaty that encapsulates the international movement to protect our environment. We, along with China, are the two worst polluters in the world. We have renounced the Geneva Conventions and we have engaged in the torture of detainees. We have gutted key provisions of our own constitution, removing the great habeus corpus protections that have been the hallmark of democracy and individual rights for centuries, and we are engaged in spying on our own citizens. The current president is a liar, war criminal, and a law breaker.
No, we are not "more liberal" now. We have, in fact, dangerously drifted far to the right both in terms of domestic and foreign policy. If this trend is not reversed soon, there are observers that think we could actually degenerate into a fascist state.
Who out there now running for president would reverse this shift to the right? Not Ms. Clinton, who recently voted for what is essentially another blank check that would authorize Bush to attack Iran. All of the Republicans would continue in the mold of the current president. Liberals like Kucinich or Dodd have no chance to be elected.
We live in a very conservative, backward country. I fear for the future.
Photo: Another colorful view of our "private' path trough the park.
Wednesday, December 5, 2007
Tuesday, December 4, 2007
Give me a break, Mr. Stein. The problems in America today stem not from removing prayer from the schools, rather, in large part they stem from the negative and overbearing influence of Christin fundamentalists on our leaders(Bush) and our political system. Few make the claim that America is an atheist nation, but far too many make the claim that it is a Christian nation. The intent of the founders was religious liberty for all, not the establishment of a Christian state.
As for Christmas, Christians simply appropriated the pagan celebration of the solstice and have tried to made it their own. So excuse me if there's no Jesus in my holiday celebrations. He wasn't there thousands of years ago when humans first celebrated the wintertime change of seasons. So I'll be having a nice commercial solstice celebration. Have some fun around the holidays and don't worry about god and prayers. There are already too many religious fundamentalist fanatics out there who praying enough for everybody. Unfortunately, many of them want their god to grant them something that the rest of us wouldn't be too thrilled with.
PHOTO: The Graff Monument, which stands outside the Graff mansion at the historic Philadelphia Water Works.
Monday, December 3, 2007
PHOTO: This great Art Deco building from the 1920s is just around the corner from our house. It has been turned into a wing of the Philadelphia Museum Of Art, and it is now known as the Perelman Building.
Sunday, December 2, 2007
Saturday, December 1, 2007
Joining forces for a worthy cause, no matter how worthy a cause is still lending credibility to those who stand against us. What's next, a partnership between hen house manufacturers and the National Association of Hungry Foxes? Hillary, whose husband is responsible for Don't Ask, Don't Tell,
dances with Rupert Murdoch and Joe Solmonese sleeps with The Log Cabin
Republicans. Politics surely does make for strange bedfellows.
And yes, I know, many of you will say that at the time this DADT policy seemed
progressive. That's horse shit. At the time Hillary's vote to invade Iraq
seemed right to her as well. I remember that in both circumstances, many
Americans, including myself, looked at this new "progressive" DADT policy and
the call to war against Iraq in response to 9/11 and said "what the
fuck?"HRC and the Log Cabin Republicans in partnership? What the
PHOTO: The newly reconstructed steep walkway that leads from the Schuylkill Banks path to the Art Museum's rear plaza.