Atlantis Alumni

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Of Pride Parades And Gay Rights Marches

In 1979 I marched in the first national gay rights march on Washington. It was a sober affair on an overcast fall day. The tone was serious and political. In 1987, in conjunction with the second MOW, I was arrested along with more than 700 other activists on the steps on the U.S. Supreme Court. We were protesting the Bowers V. Hardwick decision that has since been overturned. But that was the last time I felt good about joining a march. After that the tone of the national march changed. The next march in 1993 was more of a big party. But I couldn't understand what we were so happy about. Nothing much had changed in terms of gay rights. Today, I feel the same way about gay pride parades. There was a time when these parades might have meant something by making us more visible. But now we are all too visible and all too ignored. Feel good pride parades are just parties. They don't get anything accomplished. We still lack basic equality. We need to do hard political work. Count me out on the pride parades until we have a real reason to celebrate.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Bring Back The Draft

The all volunteer army turns out to be a very bad idea. With the more affluent sons and daughters of Americans now immune from military service, there is a detachment of most Americans from what our military is doing. There are no protests against the wars of agression and choice in Iraq and Afghanistan because no one is forced to fight in these immoral conflicts. The other negative effect of the all volunteer force became apparent in the McChrystal affair. A new military rogue culture has developed with people like McChrystal and his staff behaving like unprincipled cowboys, believing that they are above the law and can do whatever they want. McChrystal was Dick CHeney's henchman in IRaq, responsible for torture, kidnapping and other forms of questionable behavior. We need the draft again to force avarage Americans to once again become engaging in what our leaders are asking our military forces to do.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Why Are We In Afghanistan Anyway?

There are few if any Al Queda terrorists in Afghanistan...between 10 and 100, according to experts. So, why are we fighting and dying there? One reason is to make Obama look good politically...not "soft on terror." The other reason seems to be the presence of oil and gas in the region, and the "strategic importance" of the area. Actually, Afghanistan is our modern day Vietnam...a war we shouldn't be involved in and one we cannot win. Obama knows this but lacks the moral strength to end our involvement. Now that Obama has installed General Petreaus to run the war, the war will go in indefinately. Petreaus will ask for more time and more troops and he will get both. Obama's promise to begin withdrawing troops next year is history. This country continues its slide downward under the "change we can believe in" president. There appears to be little hope for us.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Gay Collaborators Meet With Obama

Message to the gays who went to the White House yesterday to schmooze with Obama:...full equality will never come as long as we refuse to demand it and hold politicians accountable, including Democrats, for lying to us or failing to fulfill their promises. Study the civil rights movement...ML King operated independently of the Democrats...JFK and LBJ were forced to act by the pressure generated by the movement...the non violent actions etc. We need to emulate those tactics. Tea with Obama doesn't cut it.

Monday, June 21, 2010

The Trouble With Obama

Kerry Eveveld at The Advocate:

This president and this White House only move decisively when their hand is forced. And that's something every advocate—whether working on behalf of labor, reproductive rights, immigration reform, the environment, or LGBT equality—should work into their calculus if they hope to inspire change during this administration.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Cossack Diorama

Ukrainians love dioramas and we saw several of them in museums during our trip.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Storm In Kherson

When we were in Kherson, Ukraine, at the Cossack Horse Show, quite a thunderstorm came up!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Obama Disappoints Again

From Huffington:

Obama: "in the end, I am confident that we're going to be able to leave the Gulf Coast in better shape than it was before."

That is a "ridiculous statement, and worrying," said Susan Shaw, the director of the Marine Environmental Research Institute. "Obviously he has no idea of the consequences, or doesn't want to."

Obama's Failure To Lead (Again!)

Obama has just promised that the Gulf "will be better than it was before." Who is he kidding? It will take decades if ever for the Gulf to recover from this oil spill disaster. This is not leadership, this is lying. Better he finally tell the truth to the American people: we are out of oil and we have to change our way of living to reflect this reality. This means no more cheap gasoline and higher costs for all forms of energy. Offshore drilling must end because it is not safe. Our oil imports must be reduced and eventually eliminated because our dependence on oil from our enemies is not in our national interest. Will Obama have the courage to tell the truth and lead tonight when he gives his first oval office address to the nation? Don't hold your breath!

Peter Daou at Huffington thinks it's Obama's last chance to show leadership:

From day one, the principled critique of Obama has come from the left. From gay rights to civil liberties to secrecy to the environment to Afghanistan and national security, progressive opinion-makers have gone after the administration for failing to fulfill its overarching purpose of being the anti-Bush, to reverse America's near-fatal, turn-of-the-millennium mistake, to restore sanity to a nation that temporarily lost it, to reinstate fealty and respect for its greatest values. Unfortunately, the president and his advisers have been far more solicitous of opponents on the right, treating progressives like a familial annoyance, a needless irritant... The saddest part of all this is that principled progressive policy is also good politics, something lost on the vast majority of Democratic strategists.

•How long has the left been warning that if Obama reinforces Bushian policies, he'll lose the ethical high ground and with it his administration's entire moral compass?
•How early in the health care debate were progressives arguing for a stronger bill through reconciliation?
•How forcefully have progressives been warning that the public derision expressed toward them by the White House Chief of Staff and other officials will suppress the leading edge of the Democratic base?
•How blindsided and disappointed were progressives by the administration's supremely ill-fated announcement of new offshore drilling?
•And how unlikely would Obama's election have been in the first place without the thankless and tireless progressive opposition to Bush when Bush's approval ratings were astronomical and Democrats had no stomach for fighting him?
...With the Gulf calamity, Obama is once again a step behind the progressive community. Problem is, you can only play catch up for so long before you're perceived as a follower not a leader...With the address to the nation on Tuesday, it's time for President Obama to show the world that we won't let this catastrophe fade into the bottomless ocean of inaction, that we will save ourselves and our home. It's time for him to look in the progressive mirror and go big, and go left.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Get Out Of Afghanistan Now!

From the "adding insult to injury" department: BP continues to profit by supplying the US military with oil to continue our useless war in Afghanistan. Seven more soldiers died this week and nobody noticed. We should get our troops out of there now!

Friday, June 11, 2010

The Disappointment That Is Obama

My bill of particulars against Mr. Obama:

1. Fails to close GITMO.
2. Fails to end Iraq War.
3. Escalates the war in Afghanistan.
4. Backs lifting ban on commercial whaling.
5. Opposes marriage equality.
6. Refuses to sign on to international treaty banning land mines.
7. Excercises no leadership to end DADT.
8. Argues in favor of DOMA with hateful anti-gay DOJ brief.
9. Gives only partial spousal benefits to federal GLBT employees and no health care benefits.
10. Fails to nominate a strong liberal to the Supreme Court.
11. Fails to advocate for a strong enough stimulus to create jobs.
12. Fails to press for real energy independence with tough conservation.
13. Favors offshore drilling.
14. Continues biased policy of unconditional support for Israel.
15. Continues improper Bush policies on secrecy, wiretapping, etc.
16. Keeps Bush appointee Gates on as Defense Secretary.
17. Refuses to cut defense spending.
18. Maintains Reagan era ban on gay men donating blood.

...and this is just the beginning!

Obama Backs Lifting Ban On Commercial Whaling

According to this article on line, Obama and company are in favor of lifting the 24 year old ban oncommercial whaling. That's nice. Another campaign promise broken.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Obama's Failure To Lead

An all to common thread among the critics of Barak Obama is his refusal to take the lead - to act presidential - on the important issues that the country faces and in fulfilling his campaign promises. Read Frank Rich in today's New York Times. Rich outlines how Obama depends upon his advisors too much (they are often wrong,) and fails to pull togehter the various themes and act on them in a way that could define his presidency in a poisitve rather than negative way. Rich pleads with him to fix his presidency by exercising forceful leadership.

The gay community knows Obama's failings all to well. We are overwhelming disappointed in him. Now a year and a half into his presidency he has done virtually nothing for us. Gay and lesbian servicemembers are still being discharged. The Obama Justice Department is still defending the Defense Of Marriage Act in Court, the Employment Non Discrimination Act is languishing in Congress...and the list goes on and on.

Obama is seemingly oblivious to the malaise affecting his presidency. He is lucky that so far no real viable opposition has emerged from the tired and backward-looking Republican Party. However, if he expects an energized base to help propel him into a second term he is in for a major disappointment himself. Frank Rich still thinks it's not too late for Obama to find his inner Teddy Rooosevelt, to become a forceful leader. I'm not so sure.

Cossack Horsemanship

Friday, June 4, 2010

Alternate Reality: Why Israel Is Wrong

Andrew Sullivan explains:

A country permanently occupying and colonizing a neighboring region, and treating its original inhabitants as dangerous interlopers, is the victim. An elite commando unit attacking a ship carrying toys and wheelchairs in the hours before dawn are those we should feel pity for. A country with 150 nuclear warheads and the strongest military in its region, the victor in every conventional war it has always fought, is somehow also always fighting for its very existence. A country backed by the sole superpower, supplied with aid by huge majorities in the US Congress, is facing extinction. Self-defense requires not civilly disabling and inspecting the cargo of an unarmed ship but raiding it at dawn and killing nine and injuring dozens. Basic human revulsion at a military that can kill over a thousand people - including scores of women and children in a trapped, impoverished enclave - can only be a function of anti-Semitism. A territory that is being systematically populated with Israelis in illegal settlements in contravention of the Geneva Conventions is merely a "buffer zone". You need to colonize buffer zones?

Invasion and occupation of neighboring countries is "forward defense". And asking that a two-state solution be moved forward by freezing illegal settlement construction and allowing a blockade that, while interdicting arms, doesn't seek to kill civilians and restrict the import of basic necessities is to deprive a country with 150 nuclear warheads of any legitimate form of self-defense.

This is a form of derangement, or of such a passionate commitment to a foreign country that any and all normal moral rules or even basic fairness are jettisoned. And you will notice one thing as well: no regret whatsoever for the loss of human life, just as the hideous murder of so many civilians in the Gaza war had to be the responsibility of the victims, not the attackers. There is no sense of the human here; just the tribe.

Something has been wrong here for a very long time, and now it is inescapable. Until the discourse is rescued from the victims of Israel Derangement Syndrome, Israel and America will slowly be drawn into wars they cannot ultimately win, lose every other ally they ever had, and embolden and fortify the very Islamist forces we are seeking to defuse and defeat.

The Viking M. Lomonosov

This is the ship we travelled on for 11 days in Ukraine. The capacity is 200 passengers and 100 crew.