Thursday, February 26, 2009

Responding to the Republican Response

Out of nothing more than morbid curiosity, I actually watched the Republican response to President Obama's speech before Congress on Tuesday night.

Jindal Ho!

But first, of course, I had to watch the President himself. Not that I HAD to, you understand. I tentatively decided to expose myself to it with no prior commitment. So I told myself. Such political theater can be old school b-o-r-i-n-g at best; infuriating to sit through in recent memory, and never more than an indulgence in crass manipulation of public opinion, which I resent more than anything. I pride myself on my long held ability to resist the kind of charisma that is Obama's strongest, scariest suit. I would prefer to just read the transcript of the President's speech tomorrow, rather than let myself be sucked under the spell of his rhetorical embellishments tonight. So gifted with gab, this guy could probably make a fetid turd glisten like gold on national TV.

No sir. I wouldn't let myself fall for any of that. I kept the remote in hand. There might have been something on HBO or Comedy Central I would rather fall asleep watching. But resist as much as I did, I stayed with PBS through the entire speech.

Obama's reputation for giving good oration is definitely well-founded. It was an uncommonly magnificent performance. The delivery itself, apart from any of his actual words worthy of an Academy Award. You have to admit that there is real value in that. It is downright redeeming to wake up the morning after such a spectacle having been beamed to the world from our country and not feel humiliated because we just treated the human race to another embarrassing Thanksgiving Day pageant at the local school for retards.

And speaking of the Academy Awards, is it a coincidence that the still-retarded Republican Party response was given by the Indian-American governor of Louisiana? True to their offensively shallow, out-of-touch character, it just seems to me that the Dumb Dog Billionaires who pull the GOP strings think their message of "tax cuts for the rich" is going to go over better coming from the wide eyed visage of a brownish-skin manchild who sort of resembles the star of this year's Oscar winner and was rewarded with a trip to Disneyland the next day (this is true).

It is SOOOoo insulting how transparent their shallowness is. They appoint a hard core conservative who happens to be black to head their racist party, a radical right wing bimbo to take second place on their misogynist ticket and a goofy Indian-American sock puppet to give their immigrant-hating Party's follow-up response after Obama's opening act. And they think we will buy this shit? Are they just daring us to make some comment they can screw into a sexist or racist slur on them? "How dare you talk that way about our boy? Can't you see he is defective? Mean, cruel, vicious liberals!"

Anyway, as taken in as I was by the President's powerful rhetoric, I am still powerfully bothered by the short shrift given to this military escalation in Afghanistan. I am still not buying the fiction that this is about trying to stop terrorism. Come on! That's Bush's line and this is Bush's war. We have rejected all that.

And Obama is smarter than that. He knows that waging war in a Middle Eastern country can only / has only / exacerbated the threat of terrorist acts against Western Culture. He knows we have no legitimate business in Afghanistan. I think it was the only time I saw him wince during his long lovely speech - when he declared that we were not going to let terrorists get away with planning further attacks on America and that's the a reason for our being there (that's about all he said about it, isn't it?).

Obviously Obama doesn't believe this stuff himself. It has to be a devil's bargain that's keeping us there.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Haunted Honeymoon? - or - Obama's Achilles Heel?

I have to say that I am enjoying the Obama Pesidential honeymoon as much as anybody else. Not only is it nice to see so many Americans making virtual love to the handsome new face of our nation - all drunk on Obama's good vibes and sending good vibes to him. How great it is - after so much group wretching at the very sight of the previous office-hoder for eight long years: I am right there myself.

It only adds to the pleasure of it all knowing that the hapless, out-of-touch idiots in the Republican Party have become so impotent: unable to get much traction - try as they do - under their wheels spinning foolishly in political mud of their own making. They try and try to derail Obama's raging machine, smear him and his policies with the same empty rhetoric about solving all our problems with tax cuts (laugh track). And all it earns them is a sharper, clearer spotlight on their true collective character: a monolithic bunch of obstinate cretins who only give a damn about the wealthiest 2% of people who helped get them elected (Joe the Voter is not the one who writes their payoff checks).

This is all still so fresh and new. We have been banging our heads against the wall for so long - not wanting to think our leaders are really as evil as nearly everything they did showed that they were. Never knowing for sure whether we should pity them for being so stupid or hate them for being so wickedly corrupt. Even in the face of one unbelievably - but predictably - backward, indecent, despicable policy action after another and another... You know where this is going.

In just one month it seems as though the whole world has changed. And it's true in many ways. But if you have been driven to paranoia like me - having had our hopes dashed too many times in our lives - you can't help but feel like it's still been all too easy. Like we might be moving at such a pace that some major things are liable to slip unnoticed into this blissful honeymoon suite - intentionally or not - that we will end up regretting let go by us before too long.

Nobody wants to be a spoiler. I don't want to be the one to say anything negative in the middle of this lovefest for the New Administration. I do not wish to piss on the rare bold actions they have taken on so many important progressive matters in addition to saving the economy, even getting it to ease up on us common folk who have grown accustomed to being shit on.

But under all this warm and fuzzy, good lovin empowerment I have to say I'm more than a little bothered about certain things.

It's great to be rid of Bush but... What about...?

For instance, what about this surge in American military involvement in Afghanistan? I'm sorry. It scares me that so little attention is being given to the fact that we are quietly rushing headon into that country, committing ourselves to another quagmire waiting to happen with no more clear a purpose or reason than the Bush Administration had for invading Iraq. Few seem to notice it and no one seems to question it much... so far.

What the hell are we doing? Why are we gearing up for another major war in Afghanistan? What are our "vital interests" there? What are the threats to our country? What are we defending there?

Someone has to ask and someone has to explain this. What are we fighting for or against? What is the exit strategy?

I do not want to be thinking about this. I do not like where my mind goes.

I do not want to believe for a moment that some kind of promise was made to one of the Bush Administration holdovers. I cannot bear to think things like maybe it was part of a political strategy to garner Republican support in the general election to keep Bush's Defense Secretary Richard Gates willingly involved in the new administration by granting him free reign over military decisions regarding our involvement in Afghanistan's civil war. Would Obama have done this in order to display a bent for bipartisanship in his government even when we elected them to bring major change to just this sort of thing?

Ew. It feels dirty and cynical to entertain such thoughts. It makes me feel as though I'm falling under an evil spell cast by those hateful racist neocons who still spread so many hateful lies and toxic speculations about our refreshing new President. I loath the idea of someone possibly picking up on my doubts and paranoia about this move toward war and using them to bolster their own ignorance and prejudices.

But I cannot help it. In the middle of this happy honeymoon I fear for the possibility of seeing Obama and all of us who are currently swooning over him made fools of. Especially after seeing how staunchly disinterested the Republican Party is in the concept of true bipartisanship. If, as it seems, we are building up troops in Afghanistan for no better reason than to humor the Republican Gates and keep alive an illusion of inter-party collegiality then we the electorate have a duty to call a halt to it now.

If Gates cannot serve without waging war then get rid of his GOP Bush-kissing ass, no questions asked!

On the other hand, if there is some legitimate reason for the Afghani surge then we must demand to know what it is.

Why are we so eager to fight in what was once called the [former] Soviet Union's Vietnam? Do we have to have an ersatz Iraq or another Vietnam to keep us from feeling like losers? Why exactly is it that we are we standing by while this government pushes another surge in US troops to die on foreign soil now? As much as we love him can we afford to let Obama make this big a mistake already?

Who are we after?

Bin Laden? Do we still feel he is worth risking thousands of more lives - sending many Americans to certain death and running down other human lives as collateral damage? Need I also mention the waste of precious dollars by the billions we would lose trying to swat down a dirty cave-dwelling mosquito like Bin Laden? As much psychological damage as his existence has caused us - is it worth it? Couldn't one such small man be taken out more efficiently with a Mission-Impossible or some other covert style CIA operation and not involve our military?

If the fate of that country affects that whole region of the world why do we have to take the lead in this war? And what are we doing acting unilaterally?

Taliban? Of course Taliban rule was a horrific plague on that country's people and culture when they held power in recent years. If the Taliban regained controlling power there it would be a damn shame. But the last time they held power they were easy enough to depose. We knocked them out in a matter of weeks as a prelude to exercising our new found military muscles in that devastating invasion and costly occupation of Iraq. Big mistake! But now that THAT is winding down must we really go back to Afghanistan as though it is our fate? Or our responsibility?

Sorry. I have not heard a single good rational reason for it. Not from Obama. Not from anybody. We should not be going there. Give us a break from constant warring in that part of the world for crying out loud.

If, in our absence, the Taliban does gain control again then we can talk about how to deal with the situation that develops. Don't we expect our new leadership to talk about such things rather than strike militarily and unilaterally?

This is nothing more than a dangerous and unwarranted folly, I fear, that could severely disrupt this honeymoon and soon sour this country of all the so-far well-deserved good vibrations that we are exchanging with the Obama Administration. Escalating our involvement in Afghanistan is already causing rifts in the progressive coalition that brought what we still hope to be sweeping change to this country.

Peace-niks are growing uneasy and starting to make noise about this and that makes our allies who are less attentive to the issue uncomfortable in their on-going state of bliss. They may tend to reflexively defend Obama, at least giving him the benefit of the doubt. But he is wrong on this. Dead wrong.

We may have to - dare I say it? - take to the streets. As much as we love our new President and wish him the best we should not be afraid to start kicking up in protest of this unacceptable war. Even if it did nothing to deter Bush's rush into conflict with Iraq nothing ever happens until we start making noise, letting our leaders in government know that we feel about them going on a foreign killing spree in our name.

If we don't get some satisfaction on this matter soon, if we are not soon told why this military action is taking place, then maybe we have to plan a massive march on Washington for sometime before summer (DC is totally hell in the summer).

Meanwhile, the old order stands, relatively quiet, arms locked in determined bullheaded solidarity - just waiting on the sidelines to take advantage of the smallest crack in our unity of purpose which they stand ready to pounce and exploit for political gain, so desperate they are to regain control over the power in this American government and destroy our hope for real and lasting change.

Sorry. Hope I didn't ruin the honeymoon.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Utah Senator Threatens America

Late news from Utah - the state that exports hate by funneling millions of dollars to fund anti-gay measures in places like California: State Sen. Chris "The Butt(hole)" Buttars has now positioned himself to be a serious threat to the security and well-being of a sizable segment of his own constituency and the entire country's citizenry.

Of course, the targets of his hatred are decent, law-abiding, tax-paying Americans and our families who happen to be members and supporters of America's LGBT minority.

An elected official broadcasting a deep personal prejudice (founded in stubborn ignorance) against ALL gay people - especially those of us in committed loving relationships - Sen. Buttars' sets a frankly terroristic tone and example for a volatile public looking to vent their pent-up anger.

He has demonstrated perverse audacity in condemning US as "America's Greatest Threat!" over the likes of Osama Bin Laden, Kim Jong-Il, Dick "The Torturer" Chaney and Bernie Madoff.

This man, Buttars, has shown himself to be a clear and present danger to those millions of Americans like myself who support legitimacy for our fellow citizens who happen to be gay. He is unfit to lead.

The hostile tone of such hateful rhetoric from persons in leadership positions has proven to incite violence against individuals and entire groups named as a "THREAT" without cause.

In these times of deepening national hardship - due to the state of our economy and other disasters wrought by such leaders as Buttars himself - it is especially irresponsible for this man to spread lies using abusive language.

We responsible LGBT Americans love our country and support our leaders who call for defense against her REAL threats and enemies. Likewise we condemn those who would use their positions to incite violence against any of our fellow citizens and their families.

I hope you will join the Human Rights Campaign in condemning Sen. Buttars' remarks as well. And I hope you will urge that official action be taken by supporting the move to censure Sen. Butt-ars.

HRC has organized a write-in campaign to Sen. Michael Waddoups, President of Utah's State Senate, calling for censure of Chris Buttars. As one of Utah's leading public servants, it is Waddoups responsibility to protect the safety and well-being of the Mormom state's citizens. Visit the HRC website to add your voice to the call for punitive action against Sen. Buttars' mean-spirited rhetoric.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Court Date set on Proposition Hate

Time is fast approaching for the debut of the next chapter in the book of California's Proposition Hate, er, 8.

A California Supreme Court hearing is scheduled for March 5. This follows from the suit filed by opponents of the amendment to the state's Constitution which became effective after a 52% majority expressed their opinion at the polls in November.

This amendment holds that roughly 10% of the marriages previously recognized under the law in 2008 would be invalidated without due cause or recourse and that no further marriages between same-sex minority couples would be permitted in the state.

Proponents of Proposition Hate, in filing their audacious counter suit, were apparently less than satisfied with having successfully enshrined heterosexual supremacy into the Constitution. They seem to be intent on destroying the happiness and security of every newly legitimized family that took advantage of the marriage option while it was temporarily legal. They have enlisted none other than the despicable Kenneth Starr of Whitewater fame to argue that those who were married while it was legal shall have their marriages disolved.

Compulsory imposition of Divorce, regardless of the will of the married couples and their families.

Meanwhile, a group organized to defend the rights of all to marriage in California has produced a video to argue their case in the court of public opinion.

"Fidelity": Don't Divorce... from Courage Campaign on Vimeo.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Caught on Film: The End of Paleo Politics?

Fuel: The Movie opened on the West Coast last week and will be making its way to a theatre near you soon. It won all kinds of festival awards including the Audience Award at Sundance for best Documentary. It is reported that audiences are standing up to cheer this movie unlike anything since Billy Jack (ugh!).

Thanks to Christina Erickson of the Huffington Post for spreading the word about this important new movie and for introducing the term "Paleo Politics" into our contemporary lexicon.

It's been quite a while since we've had a new political term that so perfectly fit the over-arching concept of our time. "Paleo-" links the failed economics of fossil fuel dependency with the obsolete and defunct ideas of political dinosaurs like Mitch McConnell and his Republican cronies. After trying to pull us all into the deadly oil slick they've made of the world it's high time they became extinct.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

My Two Cents worth on the $787 Billion Stimulus... and Atheism

Well, nobody said it was going to be easy, but after a full month of sustained whiny Republican obstructionism, the economic stimulus bill finally passed and will be signed by President Obama on Tuesday. I was personally relieved that the final bill deleted the $1 Billion in nuclear weapons spending snuck into the Senate version. Also stripped from the plan was another wasteful, nonproductive $50 Billion in loan guarantees for the nuclear power industry and $4.6 Billion to support the fiction of "clean coal" technology.

It has been incredibly irritating to watch the Republican clowns in Congress trying to upstage the new administration's attempt to do something about the economic mess those Bozos spent so long building up. How can you not be pissed off knowing that every single House Republican and all but three arm-twisted Republican Senators voted against the bill - which is in no way perfect - because it does not give enough in tax cuts to their rich friends? The These jerks would rather sit back and let the global crisis escalate rather than go along with a stimulus plan that they know has a chance of staving off a total economic meltdown.

When the GOP cries "Country First!" they are obviously talking about the country of Iraq.

Republican tax cuts will do no more to stimulate the economy than their deregulatory mania, their expensive and opportunistic invasions of foreign countries and their egregious violations of our Constitutional freedoms did to keep us from arriving at this desperate point in history.

In fact, Congressional Republicans have been so wrong on every important issue that has affected our lives over the last half-century, why don't they just shut the hell up and go away for good?

Of course, that's not likely to happen. Right wing extremists have their heads so far up their behinds they do not even realize how out-of-touch they are with reality. But don't expect that to stop them.

By all appearances they have taken a cue from their new de facto GOP leader, Rush Limbaugh(!) and adopted the strategy of knee-jerk opposition to everything Obama stands for. Under the dildo-head's leadership they will work to make sure Obama's every program fails in hopes of maintaining their standing as the only viable opposition party in order to regain power in 2012 or sooner.

And to think, until the Cheney/Bush Administration left the stage right-wing talk-show hosts used to take their cues from the Republicans in government!

Of course, the recent change in Administrations and political party dominance has also brought about a swift uptick in the activities of the GOP's base - the fanatic religious right.

While our progressive coalition catapulted Obama and the Democrats to their lofty positions of power the radical right minority has wasted no time in puffing themselves all up to regroup and recoup their losses. Typically they have ramped up their active vilification of all their enemies: anyone who does not accept Biblical authority or Jesus Christ as their lord and savior.

After the Obama plan fails, you homos will all have to head back to San Francisco. You of the too-far-left will always have a place in Gitmo (on the Communist island of Cuba). You blacks can catch the next boat home to Africa, and you freakin' atheists can just go to hell. Those lines all intersect and cross in many of the voters who made up the winning coalition and gave us the new distinction as the ruling party's base.

Because our diverse coalition is seen as the right-wing's opposition base we are naturally ranked by order of detestability. To them, the lowest of the low among us are we who subscribe to no religion as they know it at all. Worse than suicide-bombing Islamic terrorists, our mere existence is so unfathomable to them as to offend their deepest sense of identity as human beings.

For those of us who are possessed of this one variable of human reality - commonly identified as "atheism" - the religious right apparently holds little more contempt than the American public at large. In fact, this is a point on which they seek to find common ground with the majority and may do so even more effectively than they have been able to find it with their common distaste for same-sex marriage, which has been pretty damn effective. The thing we queers have going for us, however, is that we are almost all born of heterosexual parents and, like it or not - know it or not - everyone has one of us in their family. Not so with atheists. Families tend to implant and perpetuate whatever religion they subscribe to, even among gay family members.

It is clear that religion is a major factor Americans use to evaluate political candidates. To this day there has been one and only one person ever elected to Congress who proclaims a personal non-belief in God: Rep. Pete Stark (D, of course) of the "East Bay" 13th District of California (of course). Rep. Stark has served continuously since 1973 but only came out as an atheist in 2007. In contrast, Massachusetts Democrat Barney Frank is the most well-known, longest-serving and most powerful gay person to serve in Congress. Frank has been out of the closet since early in his tenure which began in 1981. He has since been joined by two other openly gay candidates who ran while out, unlike Frank who waited until 1987 to publicly acknowledge his homosexuality and only did so after a mostly non-sexual sex scandal while in office. At the time this was still the norm as set by former Rep. Gerry Studds, also from Massachusetts, who came out in 1973 after being caught in a tryst with a congressional page - an accusation Studds never denied (ironically, Rep. Frank faced a censure attempt by none other than Rep. Larry ("I am not gay") Craig of the Minnesota Airport Men's Room toe-tapping fame.

Rating about a + 8.5 on the Kinsey Scale myself, I have for over 30 years been actively involved in the on-going struggle for recognition of the simple fact that sexuality does not define a person's social or political worth in and of itself. At the same time and all along I have also held that philosophical points of view - including religious, spiritual and worldly identities are equally irrelevant to an individual's standing in an ideal social construct.

I strongly believe that America's unique foundation, at the deepest level, has always rested our sometimes unconscious development toward that ideal. Seldom has the promise of this country's potential ever moved steadily along the path toward realization of that ideal for very long. After all, we are just a renewable collection of imperfect humans living through our limited time on earth, struggling with so many flaws, idiosyncrasies, and ever-changing distractions, cirumstances-not-of-our-making and priorities. Like wars and our economic survival.

We are all just gathered at the same big table waiting to order dinner, as it were. If we may use such a simple-minded metaphor what does it matter if my taste runs to chicken while you may prefer the beef? Excuse me, vegetarians are OK too. As long as there are enough edibles to go around, what do I care what you eat, how you think it should be prepared, what utensils you might use, and where it should come from... Ah, but that's where it gets tricky, isn't it?

Friday, February 13, 2009

Happy VD~

Talk about unlikely coincidences: my very dear, very busy and very neglected (by me) friend Judith was born on Valentine's Day (click on the title for a link to her blog).

I don't know, maybe it is altogether fitting and proper after all. It's just a few days after the joint birthdays of Abraham Lincoln and Charles Darwin - both 200 this year. Hers is also a week to the day after my deceased partner's birthday and a week minus a day before mine.

After my partner died in 1992 Judith created a piece of art commemorating his passing away. The image captured the moment in a way that is typical of her work from the time...

Mourning Glory, J. Schaechter 1992.

Judith is an incredibly wonderful normal person who I am lucky to know and am stupid enough to not keep in touch with. Even though we are neighbors I am ashamed to think about how infrequently I ever see her.

On her birthday Judith is giving a workshop at the Museum of Arts and Design at Columbus Circle in NYC. Too bad. I was going to call her and wish her a happy happy which I'll do anyway.

If you check out her work on the web and at Claire Oliver Gallery (513 W 26th St NYC) I guarantee you will just want to see more. She has that kind of effect on people.

Happy Birthday Judith!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

In Other Words

I have nothing to add to the words of the late great Molly Ivans.

The above image and many others are available from The Mall of the Other America. suitable for framing and goes with any decor.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Proposition 8 Supporters Seeking Special Rights

According to California's campaign finance law, contributors to political causes are subject to public disclosure of their names within specific time periods during every election cycle. As of this writing, the deadline for disclosures of those who contributed to the November 6, 2008 election and ballot issues is tomorrow: February 2, 2009.

Last Thursday, a ruling by US District Judge Morrison England upheld the law after attorneys for the Yes on Prop 8 Campaign filed suit to grant their supporters the special right of keeping their identities private. Many of the donors have already been named in previous filings but those who contributed in the last weeks before the ballot will, by law, be revealed tomorrow.

It is believed that a huge last-minute drive for contributions funded the onslaught of TV and internet ads in the campaign's last few weeks and that most of that money came from out of state. The Yes on 8 officials indicate that up to 16,000 names of late supporters are on the list they been have trying to suppress. They still may file for an injunction to prevent the release of this lawful information as they appeal the ruling that upheld the law.

The basis of their request for such special, unprecedented exemption to long-standing campaign finance laws is a supposed widespread threat of retribution toward their donors by citizens who have had their legitimate marriages dissolved against their will a result of the passage of Proposition 8. There have been reports of calls for boycotts of organizations who gave money to ruin these people's lives and some of those affected by the new law have apparently taken it upon themselves to express their outrage at some of those donors by leaving emotional messages on the answering machines of some whose names have already been revealed.

No acts or even real threats of violence have been credibly reported. Yet they are pushing the idea that harassing calls could lead to violent attacks - like those that have been waged against family planning clinics including the murders of doctors who perform abortions (just check Wikipedia's entry on abortion-related violence).

Of course they are afraid of such escalation of violence from those who emotionally disagree with them in political and social matters - but only because that's what THEY would be likely to do.

Their fears are unfounded, however, because WE on the opposite side of the marriage issue ARE NOT LIKE THEM. We do not resort to violence and the mere suggestion that those who gave money to deny same-sex couples the basic right to their marriages need to be protected is pure poppycock. They are not political dummies - they knew what they were doing. They strategically held off contributing to the cause until the last minute - knowing their names would later be released - but they figured that no one would care once the deal was done.

Who woulda thunk that people do care and are not going to roll over and accept the outcome of a vote that reduced them to second-class citizens (at best) without a fuss?!

So, as part and parcel of their strategy we are hearing wildly imaginative scenarios, equating gay people with terrorists, in order to intimidate those who only seek to return the favor in some legal, nonviolent way such as a boycott against their funders - perhaps something like the one waged for years now by the organization "Life Decisions International."

This group keeps an updated list of businesses and organizations that support Planned Parenthood International, providing names, home addresses and phone numbers of the owners of businesses - many of them small, family-owned small businesses. Their aim is to encourage their followers to boycott, picket, harass and intimidate the people involved in these businesses and groups until they commit to denouncing Planned Parenthood and stop providing them support. You can check out their list of targets in your area by visiting 

Are the American People Wising Up At Last?

It's more than encouraging to hear that radical anti-American blowhards like Rush Limbaugh are not just getting a free ride as they spread their hateful bile on our national airwaves. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee launched the video below in response to Limbaugh's outrageously seditious statement that he hopes Obama fails...

Limbaugh has continually blasted Democrats for nominating - and now having elected President - Barack Obama, saying that it would never have happened had Obama not been black. It's only because of white liberal guilt that they raised him to the highest office in the land, says Rush.

I wonder what he thinks about the Republican National Committee finally choosing a black man to head their Party? In the same year that the first black Democrat took the Presidency and twenty years after the first black Democrat was elected to lead the DNC, there is not one black Republican in the Senate.

Yet the RNC elected a new black leader, Michael Steele, former Lt. Governor of Maryland.

Would the Republicans have done such a thing if the new Democratic President were not black?

Will Rush Limbaugh blast the GOP for their transparent cynicism?

And how does Mr. Steele see the propects of Sarah Palin's bid for the Republican Nomination for President in 2012?

I'm just wondering...