Atlantis Alumni

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Keep Prayer And Preachers Out Of Inauguration

From the Capitol Times, Madison, WI:

Freedom From Religion Foundation sues over prayer at inauguration
Samara Kalk Derby — 12/30/2008 5:52 am

The Freedom From Religion Foundation is suing to stop prayer from being part of the Jan. 20 presidential inauguration.

The Madison-based foundation, its co-presidents Dan Barker and Annie Laurie Gaylor and several of its members are among the 29 co-plaintiffs in a federal lawsuit, Newdow vs. Roberts, filed Monday by attorney Michael Newdow in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. The suit seeks to stop the Presidential Inaugural Committee from sponsoring prayers at the official inauguration.

The 34-page legal complaint said for most of the country's history, clergy has not led prayers at inaugurations.

Similarly, the lawsuit seeks to stop U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts from using the religious phrase, "so help me God," in the presidential oath of office.

Roberts is among the defendants, along with inaugural committee officials -- such as chairperson Sen. Dianne Feinstein -- and Revs. Rick Warren and Joseph Lowery, who have been invited to deliver the invocation and benediction.

"Interlarding those ceremonies with clergy who espouse sectarian religious dogma does not unite, but rather divides, our citizenry," Newdow's complaint reads. "Similarly, instead of instilling confidence in our governmental structure, it tears at the very foundation upon which that structure is built."

This is Newdow's third lawsuit over the issue, so Gaylor said she is not holding her breath about getting the court to agree in time for the inauguration.

"But even if we don't get the injunction, it is also asking to have a judge declare this practice unconstitutional," Gaylor said. "The lawsuit could continue after the inauguration. We think we should win. Whether we will win in today's current climate, I don't know."
Of the nation's 57 public presidential inaugurations, Newdow pointed out, 39 were devoid of clergy-led prayers and only 18, spanning the last 72 years, have included them.

The notion that "so help me God" was added to the presidential oath by George Washington is a myth, Newdow said. Not until 1881 can the first use of "so help me God" as an addition to the presidential oath be traced. The phrase was apparently used only intermittently until 1933, according to the complaint. That unauthorized alteration has been used by the Chief Justice since then.

The complaint points out that the Bible that is traditionally used in the inauguration, not only calls atheists fools, but says atheists as blasphemers should be put to death, Gaylor said.
"There is good reason for those of us who are nonreligious to be offended by the Bible, by God being brought up at an official inauguration," she said.

Gaylor takes great joy in naming Rev. Warren in the lawsuit, knowing that he will be served.
"There's been a great deal of concern about the unsuitability of his selection for the invocation and we concur wholeheartedly. But we think it's unsuitable for any clergy to pray at the inauguration," Gaylor said.

"We are First Amendment purists. It's not just that we think he is politically incorrect. It doesn't really matter which clergy you have. They have all been Christian since this became a custom in 1933. And that is exclusionary to those of us who aren't Christian, to those of us who aren't religious," she said.

"We aren't against free speech, but what we are against is religion in government, and we are against the constitution being meddled with," she said.

It was significant that the Founding Fathers chose to put the entire oath of office for the president into the Constitution, Gaylor said, noting that a lot of people don't realize it's in there.
"And yet the first action we see Inauguration Day is to have that Constitution basically violated by a religious oath," she said.

Gaylor said it is fine for the president-elect to have clergy pray over him in a ceremony when he becomes president, but it shouldn't be done publicly. It should be done at a private inaugural event and be privately paid for, she said.

"We think it is very important to keep our nation secular," she said.
The Freedom From Religion Foundation is a national association of atheists and agnostics that has been working since 1978 to keep church and state separate.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Del Amitri - Driving With The Brakes On: Stereo

Ever feel like you know what you should do but you can't and you don't know why?

Christopher Hitchens On Rick Warren

Hitchens writes in SLATE:

...if we must have an officiating priest, let it be some dignified old hypocrite with no factional allegiance and not a tree-shaking huckster and publicity seeker who believes that millions of his fellow citizens are hellbound because they do not meet his own low and vulgar standards.

Had Bush Gotten His Way...

New York Times columnist Bob Herbert writes today about the largely missing in action president in recent days, and Bush's legacy:

There seemed to be no end to Mr. Bush’s talent for destruction. He tried to hand the piggy bank known as Social Security over to the marauders of the financial sector, but saner heads prevailed.

Yes, imagine if Bush had gotten his wish and "privatized " social security. Then comes the implosion of the U.S. economy. Presto! We would then have the end of the safety network for our seniors.

Herbert continues on Bush:

When Mr. Bush officially takes his leave in three weeks (in reality, he checked out long ago), most Americans will be content to sigh good riddance. I disagree. I don’t think he should be allowed to slip quietly out of town. There should be a great hue and cry — a loud, collective angry howl, demonstrations with signs and bullhorns and fiery speeches — over the damage he’s done to this country.

Damage indeed! Bush is a war criminal and he and his vice president, and that creep Rumsfeld should be prosecuted and jailed.

Jim

Monday, December 29, 2008

Pretty Holiday Scene



This is the Waterworks Cafe restaurant with the Cira Center Building in the background. The Cira building has display lighting all year long, but the holiday colors are particularly pretty. The Cira building is actually on the other side of the Schuylkill River from this vantage point. We having dinner with friends at the historic Waterworks restaurant on New Year's Eve Eve, and staying home giving a friend dinner on New Year's Eve.

Jim

Harvey Fierstein: "Obama Is A Coward"

Harvey is none to pleased with Obama's selection of Rick Warren to be on the stage during his inauguration:

"President Elect Obama, your victory was made possible in no small part to the votes and wallets of the gay and lesbian community along with our supporters. Turning your back on us does not make you more mainstream American. It just makes you a coward."

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Frank Rich Castigates Obama Over Warren

Frank Rich in today's New York Times laments Obama's choice of homobigot pastor Rick Warren. Obama is starting out his presidency "on the wrong side of history," writes Rich. So true, and not good.

Warren’s defamation of gay people illustrates why, as does ourpresident-elect’s rationalization of it. When Obama defends Warren’s words by calling them an example of the “wide range of viewpoints” in a “diverse and noisy and opinionated” America, he is being too cute by half. He knows full well that a “viewpoint” defaming any minority group by linking it to sexual crimes like pedophilia is unacceptable.

Robin Williams

Watch this and laugh!

Saturday, December 27, 2008

NY Times Editorial: Pass Gasoline Tax Now

With prices at the pump as low as they have been in years, Americans may not be able to resist the temptation to go back to gas guzzlers. The Times advocates insuring that gasoline prices stay high from now on to keep this from happening:

A bitter recession is not the most opportune time to ratchet up the price of energy. But if the Obama administration is to meet its twin objectives of reducing the nation’s dependence on foreign oil and cutting its emissions of greenhouse gases, it needs to start thinking now about mechanisms to curb the nation’s demand for energy when the economy emerges from recession in the future. This also would serve as a signal to American automakers and American drivers that the era of cheap gasoline is not going to last.

Friday, December 26, 2008

The Bad Economy

I took an informal poll of our dinner guests last night. The question was: "Will the economy worsen and will we fall into a depression?" The answers were mixed. I've read some reports suggesting that there is about a 50/50 chance that we will actually fall into another great depression before this is all over. This is not your garden variety recession. It's something more severe, a major economic readjustment. At least one guest, our friend Louise, agreed with me that the refusal of Republicans in Congress to bail out Detroit was all about breaking the UAW.

Jim

Thursday, December 25, 2008

QaF 308 - I decided you should take me back

How I miss the boys.

Debunking the "Sanctity Of Traditional Marriage"

Traditional Marriage Perverts Tradition of Marriage
by Jeff Goode (Californian)

About a decade ago, as a young playwright, I was hired to write a script for the Renaissance Festival of Kansas City. It was a period piece about knights and jousts and intrigues of the court, building up to a lavish royal wedding between a prince and a princess, restoring peace to the troubled land.This was one of my first professional writing assignments, so I was really excited about doing all the research and making sure that everything was historically accurate, especially the royal wedding which needed to follow all the traditions exactly.Over a summer of research, I learned a lot of surprising facts about the history of marriage and weddings, but by far the most shocking discovery of all was that the tradition of marriage-as-we-know-it simply did not exist in those days. Almost everything we have come to associate with marriage and weddings - the white dress, the holy vows, the fancy cake and the birdseed - dates back a mere 50 or 100 years at the most. In many cases less.And the handful of traditions that do go back farther than that are, frankly, horrifying. The tossing of the garter, for example, evolved from a 14th Century tradition of ripping the clothing off of the bride's body as she left the ceremony in order to "loosen her up" for the wedding night. Wedding guests fought over the choicest bits of undergarment, with the garter being the greatest prize. Savvy brides got in the habit of carrying extra garters in their bodice to throw to the male guests in hopes of escaping the ceremony with some shred of modesty intact!It turns out that marriage, in days of old, was a barbaric custom which was little more than a crude exchange of livestock at it's most civilized, and a little less than ritualized abduction at it's worst. That's why you'll find no reference to white weddings in the Bible, or the union of one man and one woman. Because up until fairly recently, there was nothing religious about it.You will of course find plenty of biblical bigamy, practiced by even the most godly of heroes - Noah, Abraham, David, Solomon - because that's what marriage was in those days. Even in more enlightened New Testament times, the only wedding worth mentioning (the one at Cana) is notable only for the miraculous amount of wine consumed.In the 21st Century, we've heard a lot about the sanctity of marriage, as if that were something that has been around forever, but in reality the phrase was invented in 2004. Google it for yourself and see if you can find a single reference to the "sanctity of marriage" before the Massachusetts Supreme Court legalized same-sex unions in that state. The proverbial Sanctity of Marriage sprang into being because opponents of gay marriage needed a logical reason to overturn an established legal precedent. And the only thing that trumps the Constitution is God himself. Unfortunately, God is still pretty new to the whole marriage game (or he might have made an honest woman out of the Virgin Mary, am I right? Try the veal!)The truth is that marriage has always been more a secular tradition rather than a religious one. Up until the early Renaissance, in fact, couples were traditionally married on the church's front doorstep, because wedding ceremonies were considered too vulgar to be performed inside the building: After all, there was implied sex in the vows and shameless public displays of affection. No clergyman in his right mind would have allowed such an unholy abomination on the premises.But as times changed, ideas and attitudes about marriage also changed. So when people became religious, matrimony became holy. When people became nudists, clothing became optional. And so on throughout history.And the wonderful thing about the institution of marriage - the reason it has remained strong and relevant through thousands of years of ever-changing times - is its unique ability to change with those times.Marriage is, and always has been, a constantly evolving tradition that never fails to incorporate the latest shifts in culture and climate, changing social habits, fashions and even fads. (Because, seriously, that chicken dance is not in the Bible.)Thus, in the 1800s when the sole purpose of marriage was procreation and housekeeping, marriage between an older man and a hard-working tween girl was considered perfectly normal. Today we call it pedophilia.For thousands of years marriage was essentially a business transaction between the parents of the bride and groom. But in the last century or so, we've finally seen the triumph of this new-fangled notion that marriage should be about a loving relationship between two consenting adults.Followers of the Mormon faith can tell you that the traditions of their forefathers included a devout belief that polygamy was appropriate and sanctified. But modern Mormons generally don't support that vision of happiness for their daughters.And during the Civil Rights era, when opponents of interracial marriage tried to pass laws making such couples illegal, we came to realize that they, too, were wrong in trying to redefine marriage to prevent those newfound relationships.Always marriage has triumphed by becoming a timely celebration of our society, rather than a backlash against it. It's strange, then, to see "tradition" used as a weapon against change, when change is the source of all its greatest traditions. Just ask the white dress:In 1840, Queen Victoria of England married Prince Albert wearing a beautiful white lace dress - in defiance of tradition - in order to promote the sale of English lace! The image was so powerful that practically overnight the white wedding gown became de rigueur for the well-heeled bride. And then it became de rigueur for every bride.By the dawn of the 20th Century, the white dress had also inexplicably come to symbolize chastity. (Even though blue was traditionally the color of virginity - "something borrowed, something blue...")And the new equation of white with virginity eventually achieved such a rigid orthodoxy that older readers may remember a time when wedding guests who happened to know that the bride was not perfectly pure would have felt a moral obligation to demand that she change into something off-white before walking down the aisle.Fortunately, as cultural norms eased during the Sexual Revolution, a sort of "don't ask, don't tell" policy took hold where all brides were required to wear white regardless of their virtue and the less said about it the better.In recent years, as a generation of divorcees have remarried and a generation of young people have entered wedlock with some degree of "experience", the pretense of a connection between literal virginity and the bridal gown has become entirely obsolete. A colorful journey for a custom which has always seemed iron clad, even as it was evolving over time.And not all traditions have to do with changing sexual standards. The long-time custom of pelting the newlyweds with birdseed did not exist before the 1970s when animal-lovers realized that songbirds were bloating on dried rice that they found on the ground after the former custom.Economic times have caused families to rethink the age-old convention of the bride's father paying for the entire ceremony - a last vestige of the days of dowries when a young man had to be bribed to take a free-loading daughter off her parents' hands - that well-established custom has gradually given way to a more humane approach to sharing the financial burden.Even religious traditions of marriage have experienced constant metamorphosis over the years. As more interfaith couples have wed, we have seen the emergence of multi-disciplinary ceremonies where couples have chosen not to follow the out-dated tradition of rejecting one or both of their faiths as a prerequisite of holy matrimony.One of the most beautiful weddings I ever attended was between a young Jewish fellow and his Catholic fiancé, whose mother was born in France. The ceremony was performed by both a rabbi and a priest with intertwining vows in English, Latin, Hebrew and French. A perfect expression of the union of their two families, yet one which would have been unthinkable just a generation before.But, again, marriage has such a long history of changing with the ever-changing times, that the last thing we should expect from it is to stop growing and changing. We know today that marriage is not a rote ritual handed down by God to Adam & Eve and preserved verbatim for thousands of years. It is, rather, an expression of how each community, each culture, and each faith, chooses to celebrate the joining of loved ones who have decided to make a life together.Christians do not expect Jesus to be central to a Buddhist wedding, nor do Jews refuse to acknowledge Lutheran unions because they didn't include a reading from the Torah. Marriage is what we each make of it. And that's the way it always should be.Perhaps the greatest irony of the traditional marriage argument is that it seeks to preserve a singular tradition that has, in fact, never existed at any point in history.Because, honestly, which traditional definition of marriage do we want our Constitution to protect?* The one from Book of Genesis when family values meant multiple wives and concubines?* Or the marriages of the Middle Ages when women were traded like cattle and weddings were too bawdy for church?* Since this is America, should we preserve marriage as it existed in 1776 when arranged marriages were still commonplace?* Or the traditions of 1850 when California became a state and marriage was customarily between one man and one woman-or-girl of age 11 and up?* Or are we really seeking to protect a more modern vision of traditional marriage, say from the 1950s when it was illegal for whites to wed blacks or hispanics?* Or the traditional marriage of the late 1960s when couples were routinely excommunicated for marrying outside their faith?No, the truth of the matter is, that we're trying to preserve traditional marriage the way it "was and always has been" during a very narrow period in the late 70s / early 80s - just before most of us found out that gays even existed: Between one man and one woman of legal age and willing consent. Regardless of race or religion (within reason). ...Plus the chicken dance and the birdseed. Those are okay.But there's something profoundly disturbing about amending the Constitution to define anything about the 1970s as "the way God intended it."

Andrew Sullivan On Pope Benedict

"We have not yet really absorbed what a reactionary he is."

That's being charitable..the pope is a bigoted asshole.

Jim

An Animal Friendly Dinner Party

We're having friends over for dinner today. There will be seven of us and I'm looking forward to a festive evening. I'll be cooking today, and for the first time I'm going to make a vegetarian entree: Tofuturkey. I've tried the stuffed tofu substitute poultry entrees that are available at our local Whole Foods and I like them. So this evening we'll have something that didn't have to die available for myself and anyone else who is so inclined, in addition to the traditional "dead bird" that we're all used to.
Jim

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Auto Bailout: People Hurt By The Passing Of An Era

The automakers are now shutting down the plants that made SUV's throwing hundreds of workers out of their jobs at the holidays. While it's difficult to feel much compassion for the corporations that should have adjusted their production to the realities of the energy situation long ago, it is heartbreaking to see so many people's lives disrupted.

From today's New York Times:

Dan Doubleday, who had 22 years on the job, broke down in the plant’s snowy parking lot afterward. I was a fork lift driver,” he said, glancing at his watch through welling tears. “Until about seven minutes ago.”

“For a while we had it made,” Ms. Gonzalez said. “I just wish it would have lasted.”

And perhaps it could have lasted, if America was not first and foremost a country where the god of unfettered market capitalism, run on the backs of workers for the benefit of greedy executives and shareholders, is worshipped. No, we don't want Socialism here. We don't want the workers to have any say, any input into production and the way corporations are managed. Socialism comes though, in the end, in the form of billions of dollars in government bailouts, except that the bailouts go to the corporations, not the workers.

Wake up America!

Jim

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

星舰迷航 Star Trek,Phase_II

Gay love abouard the Enterprise! I like it.

Obama Is Not Charming Enough

Obama is not charming enough to make the bigots on the right behave when it comes to gay equality. Says Barney Frank:

"I think Rick Warren's comments, comparing same-sex relationships to incest, is deeply offensive, wildly inaccurate, and very socially disruptive," Frank said. "And I'm glad he is talking to the Muslims. I'm glad everybody's talking to everybody. We're not here talking about not having conversations. We're talking about singling somebody out for a great honor. And I think the president-elect made a serious mistake in doing that."

Frank thinks that Obama overestimates his own ability to charm the right wing into being nice and being cooperative. I think Barney is right and Obama is deluded. But Obama is not alone. Andrew Sullivan, and even Melissa Ethridge think we ought to be talking nice with bigot Warren and his ilk. Do we never learn?


Jim

Monday, December 22, 2008

Sunday, December 21, 2008

the eagles (farewell) - new kid in town

30 years plus and still great

Senator Caroline Kennedy? Yes!

From Politico:

QUESTION 2: Same-sex marriage. Do you support the right of gay and lesbian couples to marry? Do you think it's appropriate that Rick Warren, who campaigned to ban gay marriage, is delivering the invocation at Obama's inauguration? If not, have you expressed that to the president-elect?

ANSWER: "Caroline supports full equality and marriage rights for gay and lesbian couples."

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Catholics And Gay Boys

"Think of the fate of the young Catholic boy who, early in adolescence, begins to figure out his sexuality and discovers, to his dismay, that he is totally oriented towards other boys and men. His church tells him over and over again that he is intrinsically morally disordered and that it is a mortal sin to engage in anything other than marital heterosexual sex. The church commands a life of celibacy and physical isolation for him..."

Art Leonard blogging about the movie "Doubt" nicely sums up the way I was brought up in a good Catholic household, and taught that I was not normal and a sinner. It took me many years to overcome the damage done by the Catholics. It bred in me a genuine hatred of all religion.

Macushla

Rufus, in Lederhosen, singing without a mike.

Bishop Robinson On Rick Warren Pick

Episcopal Bishop (and openly gay) Gene Robinson on Obama's selection of homobigot Rick Warren for his inauguration:

“I’m all for Rick Warren being at the table,” Bishop Robinson said, “but we’re not talking about a discussion, we’re talking about putting someone up front and center at what will be the most watched inauguration in history, and asking his blessing on the nation. And the God that he’s praying to is not the God that I know.”

Obama doesn't care, Bishop Robinson. Obama is a politician and this is a calculated political move. The gay community needs to understand this in terms of politics and respond to it in a political fashion. The best way to do that is to light such a fire under Obama that this sort of political calculation (the gays will just have to swallow this) is too costly for him to make in the future.

Jim

Friday, December 19, 2008

Obama's Inclusiveness Includes Bigotry

As others have pointed out, if Obama really wants to be "inclusive," then why not invite an anti-black racist, and an anti-Semite to co-officiate at his inauguration? Then he can open up a dialog with these bigots at the same time he's making nice to anti-gay "Pastor" Rick Warren. But he would never invite a David Duke or some Jew hater because that would provoke universal outrage. Yet anti-gay bigots are still getting a free pass from Obama.

For Obama, gay people remain the only remaining minority that it's still OK to demonize. I find this outrageous. I won't be watching the Obama inauguration. Gay people should not participate. The gay and lesbian marching band that is supposed to march in the inaugural parade should stay home. The gay community should rise up in anger over this. For the gay community there should be anti-Rick Warren demonstrations on inauguration day, not celebrations.

Jim

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Auto Industry Curiousity

I am very interested in one question: what do auto workers think of the bailing out of the auto industry? I'm kind of tired of hearing the UAW shpiel. Can we hear from some real people that have a real stake in the industry?

Is there someplace on the web that has the opinions, thoughts and ideas of real auto workers? How about the non-union folks that everyone seems to be jabbering about working in the South? How's that working out?

Marc

Obama Picks Anti-Gay Bigot For Inauguation

Statement by Rea Carey, Executive DirectorNational Gay and Lesbian Task Force:

"President-elect Obama campaigned on a theme of inclusivity, yet the selection of Rick Warren to give the invocation is a direct affront to that very principle. This was a divisive choice, and clearly not one that will help our country come together and heal. We urge President-elect Obama to withdraw his invitation to Rick Warren and instead select a faith leader who embraces fairness, equality and the ideals the president-elect himself has called the nation to uphold."

Obama Anti-Gay Inauguration Participant

From Equality California:

"It is appalling that President-elect Barack Obama would invite California Pastor Rev. Rick Warren, an ardent supporter of Prop 8 and someone who is opposed to the equality of LGBT Americans, to give the invocation at his inauguration. It is a slap in the face to the millions of LGBT Americans who supported his historic candidacy. Would President-Elect Obama invite someone to give the invocation who supported eliminating the civil rights of a minority other than the LGBT community? Of course he wouldn't!"President-elect Obama should immediately rescind this invitation. It would be impossible for any self-respecting LGBT person to be expected to participate in the inauguration where a vocal opponent of our equality is given such a prominent role."EQCA is asking its members to sign the following petition to President-elect Barack Obama at www.eqca.org/takeaction: Dear President-Elect Obama:We the undersigned demand that you revoke the invitation of California Pastor Rev. Rick Warren due to his opposition to equality for LGBT Americans and his active support of Proposition 8 which eliminated the right of same-sex couples to civil marriage in California and put discrimination into the California Constitution.EQCA works to achieve equality and secure legal protections for LGBT people. To improve the lives of LGBT Californians, EQCA sponsors legislation and coordinates efforts to ensure its passage, lobbies legislators and other policy makers, builds coalitions, develops community strength and empowers individuals and other organizations to engage in the political process. www.eqca.org

Gay Messiah - Rufus Wainwright

"Gay Messiah"

He will then be reborn
From 1970's porn
Wearing tubesocks with style
And such an innocent smile

Better pray for your sins
Better pray for your sins
'Cuz the gay messiah's coming

He will fall from the stars
Studio 54
And appear on the sand
Of Fire Island's shore

Better pray for your sins
Better pray for your sins
'Cuz the gay messiah's coming

No it will not be me
Rufus the baptist I be
No I won't be the one
Baptized in cum

What will happen instead
Someone will demand my head
And then I will kneel down
And give it to them looking down

Better pray for your sins
Better pray for your sins
'Cuz the gay messiah's coming

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

New Holiday Laser Light Show

We have a new holiday treat here in Philadelphia this year in the large lobby of the city's newest and tallest building, the Comcast Tower. Projected against the wall of the lobby is a laser light show that lasts about ten minutes. It is remarkable. After viewing the show, you can go downstairs and have lunch in the new food court. I hope to see it again with Dan after I get over this sinus cold I caught last weekend.

Jim

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Joint Chiefs Chairman Mike Mullen And DADT

From Today's New York Times:

In preparation for his new commander in chief, Admiral Mullen is overseeing the final stages of a comprehensive military strategy review of the border region of Afghanistan and Pakistan — one of four such studies in the government — to guide Mr. Obama in his first days as president. More quietly, he has also had initial conversations with his top commanders about potential changes in the “don’t ask, don’t tell” law that allows gay men and lesbians to serve in the military as long as they keep their sexual orientation secret.

That's good news. Obama has indicated that he wants an end to Don't Ask, Don't Tell, but it will be difficult unless the military top brass are on board. Admiral Mullen seems to be more sensible than Colin Powell, whose current position on DADT is that is should be reevaluated. Reevaluated? Powell is a backward jackass.

Jim

Monday, December 15, 2008

Double Duty

I'm doing double duty these days...writing a lot more on my blog about my heart condition than I am here, unfortunately. If any readers here are interested, that blog is here.

Jim

Better Aim Next Time!

I wish he would have clocked Bush with one of those shoes! Bush is a liar and a war criminal. He has soiled the presidency and turned this country into an international pariah. He can't leave office to soon. He should have more than just shoes thrown at him, he should have "the book" thrown at him for breaking international law by authorizing the use of torture.

Jim

Sunday, December 14, 2008

You Read It Here First

From the AP:

"What this is is the Southern conservative senators trying to destroy the United Auto Workers, trying to destroy unions," said Mike O'Rourke, president of a UAW local at a GM factory in Spring Hill, Tenn., Corker's home state. "It's a sad day in America when the senators turn their back on Main Street."

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Bush To The Rescue???

Can it be that George Bush will exit the White House having done something right for a change? If he manages to save the Detroit Big Three in spite of the neanderthal Republicans in the Senate, he may at least go out the door on a positive note.

Jim

Friday, December 12, 2008

Destroy The UAW: What The Republicans Really Want

The Republicans scuttled the bailout of Detroit for one primary reason: to break the United Auto Worker's union. What do they have to lose? The devastation that the collapse of the American auto industry will cause - the loss of hundreds of thousands of jobs and small to medium sized businesses - will be Obama's problem in January, not theirs. This is their golden opportunity to finish the job that Ronald Reagan started when he broke the air traffic controller's union. That lead to the decline of union power over the past quarter century. Now the Republicans can finish off one of the last strong unions in the country, the UAW.

American workers, those "Reagan Democrats," a lot of them, have supported the Republican Party to their own detriment. Too bad that it's too late now to reverse the trend, even if they finally wake up and see what has been done to them by the very people they voted for.

Jim

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Art In Miami

Fernando Carpenada's dolls on dispaly at the Bridge Art Fair in Miami last weekend.

Good News Out Of New York State

New York State Senate Minority Leader Malcolm Smith has broken off negotiations with the so-called "gang of three" renegade conservative Democrat senators who were insisting on no gay marriage vote in return for their support. To his great credit, Smith stated that the civil rights of New Yorkers should not be a bargaining chip in any political negotiations. I hope New York voters will pick up on this and get rid of the three, including Mr. Diaz, a Pentecostal minister who can't keep his personal bigoted beliefs out of his politics.

Jim

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

John Stewart Nails Huckabee

..."I'll tell you this: Religion is far more of a choice than homosexuality. And the protections that we have for religion? We protect religion -- and talk about a lifestyle choice -- that is absolutely a choice. Gay people don't choose to be gay. At what age did you choose not to be gay?"

- John Stewart to presidential wanabee and religious bigot Mike Huckabee

Problems With Two Democrats

It's a rainy Wednesday here in Philadelphia...and unseasonably warm. I'm thinking about putting up our holiday tree, but I don't want to drag one home in the rain, so that will have to wait until later this week.

I can't believe the arrogance and stupidity of the Democratic governor of Illinois, getting busted for pedaling a senate seat. That is really disgusting. Someone who is elected ought to be held to the highest standards of conduct, but apparently in Illinois there must be something in the air or on the water or somewhere, because a whole series of governors there have ended up in jail. This current elected criminal ought to be sent to the pen for a long, long time.

Another Democrat, our president elect, continues to mold his new administration in a fashion not too comforting to progressives who supported him. I do not approve of keeping Gates at Defense. That's not change, that's more of the same. Most of the rest of his appointments including Hillary are to his right politically. Oh I know he has said that these experienced hands will implement his new agenda of change, but I"m skeptical. The transition has already leaked stories to the effect that Obama will delay his promises to raise taxes on the wealthy and end "Don't Ask; Don't Tell." This seems like more of the same political crap to me. I hope I'm wrong.

Jim

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

A View Of The Reef By Glass Bottom Boat

Here's a photo that Dan took while onboard the glass bottom boat tour of John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park in Key Largo, Fl. The reefs are very shallow in places, and you an easily see lots of great fish and corals either by snorkeling or in a boat like this.

Jim

Monday, December 8, 2008

Back In Philly

We returned early this morning from beautiful and warm Miami Beach to 22 degree Philadelphia. Ouch! We had a great time in Florida though. On Sunday we drove down to Key Largo. Dan went on a glass bottom boat and I went snorkeling in Pennekamp State Coral Reef Park, the third largest such reef in the world and one of the best places anywhere to see beautiful underwater sea life. Dan saw a rare sea turtle, and I got to see two beautiful large spotted rays, lots of barracuda, and a ton of beautiful corals and reef fish. That's a good way to spend a day in Southern Florida!

Jim

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Blogging From Miami


We had a nice day yesterday here in Southern Florida. We went to the Bridge Art Fair in Miami to meet up with our friend Howard, who lives in Ft. Lauderdale. It's always nice to see friends who live in the area when you travel, and Howard graciously drove down to meet us. We had a nice lunch together.

In the late afternoon we spent some time around the luxurious pool at the Fountainebleau. It's fun to live the life of the rich and famous, if even only for a weekend!

We spent the evening in South Beach. We had dinner in a fine Japanese restaurant that offered some of our favorite sake and foods. They went went for a stroll on Ocean Drive, which was busy as always. If I had a choice of places to have a getaway apartment in Florida, South Beach would be my pick hands down. I don't care for Ft. Lauderdale. It's boring and there's nothing to do there. South Beach is always fun!

Jim

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Miami Beach Weekend


We're in Miami Beach for the weekend. Dan has paintings in an art show in Miami, the Bridge Art Fair. Former Cherry Grove art dealer Barbara Ann Levy is showing a number of artists including Dan at the Art Fair. We're staying at the landmark Fontainebleau Hotel, which was recently refurbished. The weather is great! Today we're planning to drive down to Key Largo so that I can jump ion the water and see some tropical fish.
Jim

Friday, December 5, 2008

New York: Gays Get Screwed Yet Again

We saw the film "Milk" last night, and I was going to write a blog entry about it this morning until I read the New York Times story on how the Democrats in the New York State Senate cut a deal with three "dissident" conservative Democrats for their support. The bottom line is the gay marriage will be blocked by these three in return for their support of the party leadership:

Mr. Díaz is now confident that there will be no vote in the Senate next year on legislation to legalize gay marriage, something which most Senate Democrats support but which Mr. Diaz strongly opposes.

Religious bigots like Diaz continue to be able to subvert the rights of the gay community in this country. It's an outrage. The gay community seems powerless to fight back, whether it's against the Mormons in California, or their ilk in New York State.

What would Harvey Milk do in this case? He'd be out there yelling at the top of his lungs for every complacent, closeted, comfortable gay and lesbian to come out, and if they are out to then get involved in the fight. But we have no Harvey Milk today, we have only the Human Rights Campaign, which takes the approach that it's best to raise money and funnel it to politicians who are all to eager to abandon us for political expediency. When you see the film "Milk" you are impressed with the leadership of Harvey Milk as so beautifully portrayed by Sean Penn. Thirty years ago he helped defeat an anti-gay proposition in California. This year we lost Prop 8 in California. And we lost it for the very reasons Milk rejected the strategy of conservative gay activists in 1978: we can't win if we have no pride in ourselves, if we hide who we are.

As Larry Kramer wonders: "Where is the outrage?" How long will gays and lesbians continue to accept second class status or worse? Forever? I also read a headline that states: "Prop 8 Sundance protest fizzles." Really? Another blow. We gays must enjoy being beaten up, that's all I can figure. We take it and take it, and then come back for more. When will we say enough is enough?

Jim

Thursday, December 4, 2008

The 12 Gays of Christmas

How VERY gay!

Milk: The Film

Out gay law Professor and blogger Art Leonard writes:

The depiction of Harvey Milk's scorn for the milquetoast media campaign
that the gay "powers" were running against the Briggs Initiative is very timely,
in light of the scorn many of us have expressed for the similarly evasive and
"closeted" campaign that the No on 8 people ran, without success, in
California.

Too bad we didn't learn any lessons about coming out in 30 years!

I was concerned, when I first read about this film being made, that
stocking the leading cast with ostensibly straight actors would mean a lack of
poetic truth in the result.... but they all enter into the enterprise such gusto
that this is never really a concern. When Harvey and Scott first link lips
in the subway, you know that Hollywood has finally seemed to get over the qualms
about "playing gay" on screen.

We're set to see the film this evening with friends.

Jim

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Wanamaker Organ Holiday Concert


On Sunday I attended a lovely holiday concert sponsored by the Friends Of The Wanamaker Organ. The concert featured the Philadelphia Brass Ensemble accompanied by the organ. It was a rainy day and the crowd in the store was not as large as usual, but the concert was a real holiday treat.
Jim

Monday, December 1, 2008

Will The Tail Wag The Dog?

Today Obama announces the appointment of Hillary as Secretary Of State. Obama has also asked Secretary Of Defense Bill Gates to stay on for at least a year. Is this change? In one respect, I guess that it is. Obama has always advocated an end to divisiveness. So by selecting Hillary and keeping Gates, he makes it more difficult for Republicans to unite in opposition to his new administration. After all, Hillary is more of a defense "hawk" than Obama, and Gates is a Republican installed by Bush junior. But what about the kind of change that the left wants, we won't get that with Hillary and Gates, and other "centrist" appointments. And one wonders who will be in control in DC after January 2o? Will it be the new president, or will it be the coalition of centrist types that he is surrounding himself with?

Jim

Sunday, November 30, 2008

The Wacky Religionist "Do-Gooders"

And for all the do-gooders who want to start waving their religious
beliefs in my face, please don't. While I respect your right to
believe what you want, please also respect mine. I do not believe in religion.
Your arguments hold no weight with me. If it comes down to a life not worth
living, then I would rather no life at all.

This was written by a friend of mine, named Anna, who lives in New Zealand. Anna will have open heart surgery on December 10. On her blog she wrote about her wishes should something go wrong and she ends up in a situation where she cannot recover and has no real prospects. She wants out. I understand and agree with her. It's a shame that good people like Anna who are facing great challenges have to worry about the religionists and their wacky cults and the effect that they have on everybody else.

Jim

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Macy/Wanamaker Holiday Light Show 2008 - Return Of Magic Tree

Always a joy, this is the Holiday Light Show at the former John Wanamaker (now Macy's) store in central Philadelphia. The huge tree in the center is back in the display after being totally re-wired. Macy's has invested a lot of money in the Light Show and in the historic Wanamaker organ. Good for them!

New York State Gay Marriage Problem

The gay community has waited for years for Democrats to gain control of the New York State Senate in the hope that a marriage equality bill would finally be passed. Now that the Dems have a slight majority the issue of gay marriage has become a political football with three conservative Democratic senators threatening to withhold their support from the Democratic candidate for senate leader. These renegade senators, one of whom is some sort of minister from Brooklyn, are opposed to gay marriage, and they are demanding that the issue not be voted upon.

WTF? ...if you know what I mean. On the heels of Prop 8 we now have this fiasco in New York State, where once again religionists are standing in the way of equality for gay people. When will it ever end?

Jim

Friday, November 28, 2008

Terrorism And Travel, And Thanksgiving

For those of us who enjoy foreign travel, the situation in India is frightening. Islamic terrorists targeting foreigners, especially Brits and Americans...this is not exactly conducive to making reservations to travel to any part of the world where Muslims are present...and where are they not? Where are the condemnations of these terrorist acts from Muslim leaders, I wonder?

We enjoyed a lovely Thanksgiving dinner with good friends. It was a nice, relaxing day. The dinner was interesting. There were six of us: two gay male couples who have been together for a combined total of over 50 years but can't get legally married; and two divorced single women looking for partners who could get married if only they could find the right man. The old single women's lament comes to mind: "All the good men are either already married or gay."

Jim

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Add Your Own Caption


A Heart Valve Surgery Diary

Well, I did set up another blog where I can vent about my heart problem. You can read it here but it's really intended to be read primarily by others who have a similar heart condition.

Jim

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Obamamediocracy?

Rumor had it that he was going to appoint one John Brennan to some important national security post, until lots of observers pointed out that this guy is tainted by his CIA experience related to the issue of torture. I think he's gone now. The New York Times notes that several of Obama's key economic appointees are some of the same people who are actually to blame for laying the foundations of the current economic meltdown. Is this change we can believe in? I don't think so. Luckily, people are watching.

I've been preoccupied lately with a personal health issue - appointments, and I'll need some tests...heart related. I'm considering starting a separate blog about it. It's serious but I'm on top of it.

Jim

Monday, November 24, 2008

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Brian Wilson: That Lucky Old Sun


The great Brian Wilson live at the Keswick Theater, in Glenside PA last night on tour in support of his new album, That Lucky Old Sun. At 66, he's still writing and performing great stuff. This new album is another almost seamless rock oratorio, a love letter to youth, the sun, love, and Southern California. Nobody does it better.

Gays And The Religionists: Prop 8

Maureen Dowd in today's New York Times on the new movie about Harvey Milk:

The movie, chronicling the rancorous California fight of gay activists
against church-backed forces in the ’70s to prevent discrimination against gays,
is opening amid a rancorous California fight of gay activists against
church-backed forces to prevent discrimination against gays.

Some things never change...or do they? The overall culture now is much more accepting of gays and willing to embrace equal rights for gay people. It seems that a part of the populace is still holding onto medieval views about sexuality, but if we gays had waged a better campaign we could have won the Prop 8 battle. Our ads were timed late and actually somewhat closeted. We blew it, now we have to fix it.

Jim

Saturday, November 22, 2008

THE Holiday Movie of 2008!

Gotta see this! Dan put me onto it. Gay kids today are so lucky to have their own love stories and heroes to see in the movies!

Friday, November 21, 2008

Obama-Biden Administration And Civil Rights

Click on the title to read the list. Pretty impressive words...let's see how much get's done.

Jim

Thursday, November 20, 2008

California Supreme Court & Prop 8

I've done a bit of reading online this morning...of various takes on the prospects of Prop 8 before the Ca. court. Generally, it seems that the feeling is that the court will uphold 8. In fact, one observer thinks that the reason the court agreed to hear the case quickly is that the justices have already made up their minds to uphold 8. One justice that voted for gay marriage back in the Spring voted against hearing the case - but that could have been for "procedural" reasons. Another justice voted to stay the proposition until the court could review it. That would indicate that there is at least one vote on our side. We won't have a decision until probably mid-2009 at the earliest. Will the gay community mount an ongoing public campaign of demonstrations against 8 lasting until then?

Jim

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Gays Get Dumped On Again

The California Supreme Court has voted 6 to 1 to hear the case against Prop 8 but they refused to stay it until they have ruled. In other words, the rule of the right wing religious inspired mob to strip a minority, gay people, of their fundamental rights under the California constitution AS DETERMINED PREVIOUSLY BY THE COURT - this travesty, will stand until the Court rules. Only gay people have to endure this kind of treatment...no good way to say it...being shitted upon by straight people. Fuck you I say to anyone and everyone who is not prepared to support gay equality, including the California Supreme Court.

Jim

My Proposition 8 Fixation

I wondered how I'd feel in the months before the election, if Proposition 8 was approved in California. Now I know. I feel pretty bad. It's tough for me to even blog about other issues, automaker bailouts, the Obama transition, etc. I'm just fixated on the loss in California. There is some hope that the California Supreme Court will invalidate it as being an unconstitutional initiative. However, I'm not holding my breath for that particular outcome because it involves gay rights and it's just about always OK to dump on gays. So, I watch the discussions on other blogs and wait like everyone else for the California Court to rule.

Jim

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

My Grown up Christmas list

...that right would always win...no more lives torn apart...that Proposition 8 is overturned or repealed...

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Prop 8 Philly Protest Pix
















Philly's ANti-Prop 8 Protest - Youth!











Where are the middle age gays and lesbians? I felt a little like a relic. I suppose the torch has to be passed and I'm glad the kids are engaged, but where are the older gays and lesbians? Are they too comfortable or too bored?
Jim




Anti-Proposition 8 Protest Nationwide Today!

There will be anti-Prop 8 protests today in something like 80- cities across the country. Good. It' about time the gay community woke up. As Larry Kramer noted: "I guess gay people are tired of being hated." The Philadelphia protest starts at 1:30 PM...rain or shine....and it's rainy here so I guess I'll get a little wet this afternoon.
Jim

Obama: Governing From The Center?

Will he make Hillary Secretary Of State? I doubt it, but Obama I think will turn out to be unpredictable. One thing that distresses me is the thought expressed by some pundits that Obama will "govern from the center." That's just what we don't need...more Democratic Leadership Council centrism in the mold of Bill Clinton. That will mean no real health care reform, and backtracking on progressive positions in regard to taxation, the environment, and gay rights (DADT), to name just a few. Why is it that when the Republicans get into office they govern from the right wing fringe yet when the Democrats get their chance they feel that they have to be "centrist?" The public pandering to turncoat Democrat Joe Leiberman is an example of the wimpy way Democrats behave too much of the time. Kick him out and do with Bush Junior said he would do when he won the second time: use the political capital you've earned to push through your agenda. I'm already disappointed in Obama and he hasn't even been inaugurated yet. I didn't vote for him but I had high hopes anyway. Silly me.

Jim

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Republican Party's Dearth Of Leadership

On MSNBC's "Morning Joe" TV show today there was a fascinating discussion of the current plight of the Republican Party. It was noted that a little over a decade ago, after the rise of the Gingrich wing of the Republican Party, it was said that the Democrats lacked a leader and a message. This was the case until the rise of Barak Obama, the commentators noted. He represents a new kind of leader with a new message, one attuned to a more modern time, at least this was the argument put fourth.

Then ensued a discussion of who in the Republican Party could play the same part for them as Obama has played for the Democrats. Sarah Palin? Newt Gingrich? Tim Pawlenty" Bobby Jindal? Some thought Jindal might be the next Republican political messiah, but I think he's too old time conservative, as on social issues, to fit the bill. What they are going to have to come up with is somebody really new, just as Obama materialized seemingly out of nowhere, somebody with a message and a demeanor to fit the 21st century...conservative on economic issues but probably more libertarian on social issues. Otherwise, the Republicans will be left with their "base" of social conservatives, parts of the South, and little else.

Jim

Prop 8: Marriage Equality, Oppressive Institutions

Some gays think that our battle for marriage equality is misguided. Marriage is an antiquated and oppressive institution, they believe. Having marriage equality as the primary thrust of the current day gay rights movement is a mistake, they maintain. Instead, they believe that we ought to be focusing on things like workplace protections, hate crime prevention legislation, etc. They want to jettison the fight over marriage, because they believe marriage give the religionists a public relations tool to use against us.

I disagree with this for two reasons: 1. Marriage is first and foremost a civil contract that can and does stand apart from religious sanction for many people, and 2. We ought to take on the religionists whenever and wherever they seek to impose their beliefs upon us.

There is no reason to think that if we cede the battle over marriage to the religionists that they will all of a sudden approve of us and support our demands for other forms of gay rights legislation, and every reason to think that they will continue to oppose gay equality across the board. On marriage, as with DADT, I say make me equal first, then we can talk about whether or not certain institutions are oppressive.

As for gay rights organizations like HRC and president-elect Obama, of course they'll disappoint anyone who has their head screwed on properly. We should detach our fight for equality from the Democrats and HRC. As was the case with the civil rights movement of the 60's our movement should be politically neutral. Let the Obama's come to us for our votes and approval, rather than handing our support to them on a silver platter in spite of their unsatisfactory positions on gay rights.

Jim

Prop 8 And The Black Community

On Andrew Sullivan's blog:

"That was our mistake. So many African Americans don’t look at gay marriage
as a civil rights issue. They look on it as a religious one. And we, for
whatever reason ... fear? Arrogance? Complacency? We did not do enough outreach
to them. We need to begin a dialogue with them, because we should be putting
this back on the ballot every election every year until we win," - David
Geffen
, to Kevin Sessums. Amen.

I like the idea of putting Prop 8 repeal on the ballot every year until we win. As for the problem that the gay community has with African Americans, that will be tough given the fact the African American president-elect Obama opposes marriage equality. We can do outreach at the grass roots level, but we also have to make a compelling case to the new president that he is wrong headed in his opposition to our fundamental right to marry our partners. There's nothing wrong with a two pronged approach. I just don't see national gay rights organizations holding Obama's feet to the fire on this. They're just delighted that McCain didn't win. This, it seems to me, is an inadequate posture going forward. We have to demand full equality and we have to demand it from Obama.

Jim

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Proposition 8 National Day Of Protest

This Saturday, November 15, there will be protests all across the country against California's Proposition 8. In Philadelphia, the protest will take place at City Hall at 1:30 PM. Hopefully, this will once again send a message to politicians that anti-gay discrimination is unacceptable and make the point that the rights of a minority should never be subject to a popular vote. Click on the title of this post above to go to the local Philadelphia Prop. 8 protest site.

Jim

Monday, November 10, 2008

No Quick Fix

There's no quick fix. There, I said it! There is no quick fix for the economy. We can't just do a stimulus package here, ship a dollar to this bank or that bank, whatever silly idea our little hearts desire. This isn't something we can get out of by printing more money and hoping that the economy holds together with bobby pins and glue.

It takes years to get into the kind of economic mess we are in. It will likely take the global population of the world at least a decade to pull everyone out.

By the way, I am for letting some of the institutions that have imperiled the economy go down the toilet. I've already seen many abuses of the so called "bailout" funds at AIG and others.

And let's talk about Detroit. I was born in Detroit and I grew up just outside of Detroit. I know just a little bit about auto companies; many of my family members work for them, my family sold products to them and I grew up with "auto brats". Most of the kids I grew up with had parents that were executives in Ford, GM and Chrysler. We went on field trips in my school to the Ford Rouge River plant almost every year. At my high school graduation party my gift bag was from my friend's at General Motors. Most of the people that I graduated with attempted to work for auto companies. My first car was an Chrysler Omni Horizon (which I rebuilt several times with junk parts bought in Detroit Junk Yards near 8 mile road off of Woodward Avenue). Am I an expert? No. Do I have much more experience with American car companies than many or most? Well, yes.

American car companies have been going out of business for almost 35 years. They've been consistently behind the times with some bright exceptions like Lee Iacoca and the K-car and the Ford Taurus. Even with those successes, they let them (the models) linger far too long and tend to fall back on automobile comfort food; big cars with bad milage and mediocre customer service. I can tell you about one of my relatives that has worked for Ford for 40 years and for 30 of them he's been shuffled around, had his hours cut and had his pay fiddled with consistently. He is great at what he does and I can tell you he knows one heck of alot about building cars. Whenever I've asked him about restructuring in Detroit he's told me the same thing: wait until the spotlight is off of the auto companies and everything goes back to business as usual; bad quality, products that are out of touch and executive pay that is inconsistent with performance.

Here's my point: the same guys that have presided over the last 35 years or so of Detroit mess are still there. After years of high gas prices, these people are just figuring that the world might need more fuel efficient automobiles? Or people might be sick of paying the Saudis for oil and want electric cars? Or that Toyota is now bigger than all 3 American car makers combined?

The Detroit Executives are just figuring out now that they need cash, coincidentally at the same time the banks seem to be out of cash?

Here's something to think about when you hear about how we should bail out the auto companies: all American cars get most of their key components from another country. My first car that I mentioned? The 1979 Omni Horizon had a motor by VW. That was almost 30 years ago. And if you are lucky enough to be able to afford a Ford, GM or Chrysler product in this economy, check out where the American car was made. My American car was made in Canada.

Make no mistake, I am for American workers. I am an American worker. But I am not for Auto Executives that make bad decisions consistently over decades and still get a huge paycheck. I don't want to bail out rich people. I want the people that really do the work to keep their jobs. And I can guarantee one thing: auto workers jobs ain't cushy. They aren't easy and they shouldn't be treated with such a lack of respect or honesty. Auto workers should be treated with as much respect and integrity as any Vet coming back from war. These people do hard jobs and shouldn't be at the whim of the "quick fix".

Thus the point of this: there is no quick fix. There's no quick fix for banks that bought mortgage backed securities based on nothing, there's no quick fix for insurance companies that were insuring mortgages based on nothing and there's no quck fix for auto executives that build huge cars and trucks while the price of gas is widely fluctuating and consumers are opting for hybrids, electric cars and product that is reliable and inexpensive. There's no quick fix for greed and stupidity. I am leery of looking at any politician as a potential fix for this. It has to come from the people.

The banks are still trying to make huge amounts of money off of mortgage backed securities and the auto companies are still trying to sell huge lots of SUV's. I just saw a new commercial for the Escalade Hybrid. The theme of the commercial was "game set and match". At $72k plus per car and at 20 MPG on the highway, is this a company that really needs tax dollars?

Marc

After Obama's Inauguration

It appears as though President Obama will be focusing on the economy after his inauguration. He favors another stimulus package, which Bush opposes. Krugman offers the following advice:

My advice to the Obama people is to figure out how much help they think the
economy needs, then add 50 percent. It’s much better, in a depressed economy, to
err on the side of too much stimulus than on the side of too little.


Today the current administration announced additional bailout money for insurance giant AIG, bringing the total to $150 Billion. Bush & Co. have no problem bailing out big business but they oppose helping average Americans. So what else is new?

Will we bail out the automakers? Obama favors it, while the Republicans seem not too interested. I guess they wouldn't mind the loss of so many union jobs.

Will Obama tackle the health care crisis early on? There are two theories of how he should proceed: the "big bang" approach that addresses the economy, health care, and other issues; or the incremental approach. Many pundits feel that Obama is cautious by nature and that he will proceed slowly. We'll see.

Jim

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Will Obama Stand Up For Gay Rights?

Obama's lack of concern for gay community was evident during the election. He did little to help out and we got creamed on election day.

Frank Rich:

The success of the four state initiatives banning either same-sex marriage or same-sex adoptions was the sole retro trend on Tuesday. And Obama, who largely soft-pedaled the issue this year, was little help. In California, where other races split more or less evenly on a same-sex marriage ban, some 70 percent of black voters contributed to its narrow victory.

In Arkansas, they passed another initiative aimed at stopping gay couples from adopting even though there is a crying need for foster parents in that state. The usual suspects, evangelicals and conservatives, were behind the initiative.

Gays have every right to be outraged at the continuing demonization aimed at us by fundamentalist bigots, Christian and Mormon churcdhes, and retrograde political conservatives. This has to stop! One thing we need to do is to insist that the new president step up to the plate on behalf of the gay community.

Jim

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Sullivan: Chill Out On Proposition 8

Andrew Sullivan on the gay anger over 8:

Calm down. We are not experiencing a massive, permanent backlash.
The
next generation overwhelmingly backs the right to marry, and there is no sign of
cultural reversal, even if we have suffered some electoral set-backs. If Obama
has taught us anything, it is to keep our eyes on the prize, and not always to
react impulsively to hatred, bigotry or simple ignorance by exaggerating its
power over us. We are winning. We lost this one, by an excruciatingly small
margin. But the whole point of this movement is education in support of
toleration. Even though we lost, we persuaded many of something they barely
thought about a short time ago. I am immensely touched by the support of
straight readers and all of you, gay and straight, who donated time and money to
the No On 8 campaign. We need to remember this as well. And the sight of a small
minority having basic equality stripped from them by a religiously-funded
majority is itself educational. It has already changed minds. One thing we need
to remember is dignity in defeat. That's how it becomes victory.

Some good points here, but I don't think that the gay community's expressions of anger are a bad thing. We have a right to be angry...and to turn our anger into mobilization toward productive strategies for change.

Jim

Friday, November 7, 2008

David Foster - Carol of the Bells

I need something to cheer me up after the anti-gay triumphs on election day. Just in time...it's the holidays! One radio station in Philadelphia is already playing non-stop holiday music. Here's one family's light display set to a great version of "Carol Of The Bells" by Daivd Foster. Hooray for the holidays!

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Proposition 8: What The Gay Community Must Do Now

Yesterday was not a good day for me. I felt as though I had been punched in the stomach.

While so many people were celebrating the results of the election, many of us in the gay community were sickened and outraged at the outcome in California. Proposition 2, which protects farm animals from abuse, passed handily, while Proposition 8, which strips gay people of a fundamental right under the California constitution, also passed. It appears that farm animals have more rights in California than do gay people.

There's plenty of blame for this to go around starting with President-elect Obama, who stated his opposition to gay marriage in an interview with MTV just a few days before the election. African-Americans voted overwhelmingly in favor of Proposition 8. Obama could have spoken out forcefully to members of the Black community against Prop 8 but he did not. Then there's the governor of California, Mr. Schwarzenegger, who promised gays he'd be there for them in this battle but did nothing. Some criticism of the tactics of the "No On 8" campaign appears to be valid. Finally, I think the gay community nationwide failed to mobilize so as to counteract the activities of the Catholic Church and its supporters, and the Mormons.

On a day when history was made with the election of our first African-American president, another kind of history was also made in California. For the first time, the right of gay and lesbian couples to legally marry was stripped away from us. This is a black day for our nation. Gay people remain the only minority without legal protections, the only minority that it's OK to verbally bash, physically harm, to hate, and to take rights away from.

The anger in some quarters of the gay community is palpable. Hopefully, this will translate into a re-energizing within our community that is long overdue. The victories won by the religious right and other gay haters might very well embolden them to seek to further marginalize gay people in this country.

We must fight back. We must demand that politicians take principled stands on our behalf in exchange for our votes. We need to detach our fight for our civil rights from a reliance on politicians from any one political party. It's not too late to turn the tide on those who hate us but we must act on our own behalf. This is no time for complacency. There should be a renewed national gay rights mobilization. We must act now.

Jim

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

The End Of The Golden Age Of Gay Rights

Blogger Richard Rothstein:

America enters a new world on this day. But a golden age of gay
rights has died a quick death after a very short life. And as a gay
American I am once again faced with an almost daily decision: which mask do I
don as I head out into the heterosexual world?

As expected, Obama's base swept him into the White House while sweeping away gay rights, banning gay marriage in Arizona, Florida and California. The
question now becomes who will Obama ask for compromise? Will he honor the
wishes of his core African-American and Christian base or will he deliver on his
promise of full equality for all Americans?

No Time For The Gay Community To Celebrate

It appears as though it's a clean sweep for the anti-gay bigots. Marriage equality was defeated in Florida, Arizona, and probably in California. In Arkansas, the good citizens passed a ban on gay people adopting children. In California, the heavily Black and Hispanic populations of Los Angeles County actually voted in the majority in favor of Proposition 8 while voting for Obama. It's a black day for gay rights. As one writer put it on another blog:

Obama has become a powerful role-model for oppressed minorities in America.
He has set an example for African Americans in particular, whom exit poles
indicated as voting over 70% in favor of Proposition 8, on how to vote
homophobically while maintaining a clear conscience. In Obama's America,
non-whites have finally won acceptance into the highest reaches of mainstream
society, but queers remain firmly shut out.

I have no expectations that the plight of the gay community will improve under President Obama. I have no reason to have any such hope.

Jim

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Weezer - Undone -- The Sweater Song

Music break...I love this song...can't believe it's 14 years old!

Jim

The Obama Gay Marriage Disappointment

Talking Points Memo is one of the most read and respected political blogs out there. The other day a pro-Proposition 8 ad started appearing on TPM. Needless to say, many TPM readers wrote in to portest the ad. Josh Marshall has responded citing his policy of not censoring ads for content, only for accuracy. This is why he did not take down the ad:

Obama says he opposes Prop 8. And he says he's for civil unions. But he has
also said clearly that he opposes same-sex marriage. This is the ambiguity the
creators of the ad were clearly playing on. The ad may imply and I think it is
misleading; but it doesn't say something that is clearly false. And so we
decided to keep it running.

So, there you have it in a nutshell. Obama is totally wrong for publicly stating his opposition to gay people getting married. They are already getting married in Mass., CA., and soon, Conn., and what this country needs is a leader prepared to stand for justice and marriage equality for all citizens including gay and lesbian Americans.

Jim

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Proposition 8 May Fail..And Nader (Again)

The latest polling seems to indicate that the anti-gay marriage ballot initiative in California may fail. Bill Clinton and Arnold Schwartzenegger are now being quoted in ads and telephone calls in opposition to 8. Let's hope that this piece of pure hatred is defeated on Tuesday.

Meanwhile Carl Bernstein is whining about Nader in an article over at Huffington, worried that Nader could hurt Obama. Carl needs to chill a bit. The last time I checked democracy means that everyone should have a chance to run including Ralph Nader. Something tells me that if Obama loses it will not be because of Ralph Nader, rather, the Bradley effect (racism.)

Jim

Friday, October 31, 2008

Detroit Bailout: More Socialism For The Corporations

No, we don't want socialism here in the United States, except when we need to bail out the rich executives on Wall Street and corporate America. Now we are told that the next round of taxpayer funded socialism for the corporations will be in the form of a bailout for Detroit automakers, to the tune of some $25 billion so that Chrysler and GM can merge and thereby avoid going belly up.

I have an idea. Exxon-Mobil just declared a $14 billion dollar quarterly profit. Why not have them bail out Detroit? After all, without the gas guzzlers that Detroit has been pumping out steadily where would these obscene profits come from?

Jim

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Where Is Our Gay Martin Luther King?

Diane Silver writing in the Bay Area Reporter:

"...polls show an increasing possibility that we will lose the right to
marry in California.
Polls also indicate that a constitutional ban on
same-sex marriage may pass in Arizona, just two years after Arizona became the
first state to defeat such a prohibition.
Voters in Florida may be poised to
approve the most punitive kind of marriage ban - one that prohibits marriage
equality and any form of legal right for same-sex couples and unmarried
heterosexuals. Given that Florida requires a 60 percent "yes" vote to amend its
constitution, it's disheartening that polls show the ban within striking
distance of passage.
In Arkansas, an underfunded campaign is struggling to
defeat an initiative that would keep lesbians and gays from fostering or
adopting children.
Early voting has already begun in some states. The rest of
the country votes on November 4. We're running out of time. Pro-equality
campaigns report that they are short of money.
I'm not joking when I say we
need heroes right now. We need a Martin Luther King Jr. or a Gandhi. And, I
wouldn't at all mind if a Wonder Woman or Superman flew in to help."

We have no leaders...and no unified movement. What a shame.

Jim

The Opposite Of Courageous And Just Leadership

About California's Proposition 8 Andrew Sullivan notes:

"...Schwarzenegger and Obama stay silent. I will remember that. The tide of
hysteria and hatred that has swamped gay Californians and their families, funded
largely by the Mormon church, and largely ignored by the Obama
campaign..."

Shame!

Jim

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Why Obama Will Not Get My Vote November 4th

The lack of an organized gay rights movement spearheaded by a single powerful national leader has crippled progress for gay equality. For decades now gay people have been left with little choice but to grovel for crumbs from politicians who throw us under the bus after we vote for them. Progress toward gay equality has happened in spite of serious setbacks suffered at the hands of politicians that we thought were our friends. However, progress could come quicker if gays and lesbians viewed their struggle for equality as a separate battle, one that is detached from American politics.

Martin Luther King, the greatest civil rights leader that this country has ever known, led a movement that remained largely independent of partisan politics. For example, in the 1960 “change” election, he remained publicly non-partisan, even though privately he was supportive of John Kennedy. King knew that the path to racial equality came through principled insistence on justice, rather than hopeful support for candidates that are unwilling or unable to be fully committed to the goals of the civil rights movement.

Gay men and lesbians would do well to follow King’s example. We should insist on a full commitment to gay equality from candidates who are soliciting our support. If such a commitment is not forthcoming, then we must not support these candidates with our votes. JFK, and later Lyndon B. Johnson came to King for his counsel. Let us wait for politicians to come to us rather than voting for them out of the misplaced hope that they will do the right thing after they are elected. What incentive do they have to make tough decisions on our behalf if we don’t insist upon their commitment to full equality in advance?

Jim

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Samuel L. Jackson: NO on Proposition 8!

From Mark Malkin at E-Online:

"Samuel L. Jackson has joined the fight to keep gay marriage legal in California.
I just got word that the Soul Men actor recorded a radio spot
earlier today to urge voters to oppose Prop. 8, the ballot initiative seeking to overturn California's legalization of same-sex unions.
Jackson joins other stars who have taken a stand against Prop. 8, including Brad Pitt, Steven Spielberg, Ellen DeGeneres, Barbra Streisand, Molly Ringwald and Fran Drescher, as well as Pete Wentz and his Fall Out Boy bandmates. "

Good! He's a good actor and a decent person. Now we need more prominent celebrities to publicly oppose the effort to strip gay people of their fundamental rights in California. Where is Schwartzenegger? He promised "to be there" for the gay community in this. His wife went public yesterday with her opposition, but where is he?

Jim