Friday, August 31, 2007

It is a love that can more openly speak its name...

Something we don't think about very often is people from older generations who are also homosexuals. But, as last week's 'My Turn' column from Newsweek magazine illustrates, there are indeed older Americans who are very much homosexual and many around them may not have known or even seriously suspected. While not so much the case 20-30 years ago, we are finding out more and more in this new century, as homosexuality becomes less taboo and gay people take the brave step of coming out, homosexuals really do include all demographics.

The GLBT community needs a lot more poignant stories like this one. Some excerpts:
"And then I met a woman: a teacher on campus, who helped me see beauty in the whole world. At 28, for the first time, I was loved and knew love, for myself, for the person I really was.

"But while glorying in my never-before-experienced happiness, I knew it had to be hidden. She was married. Often, the only way to see her was with her husband. I was also dating her brother, and we all would sometimes go dancing.

"That relationship ended after a few years, when my loved one's husband intervened. I didn't see her until years later, when I stood in line at her book signing at USC. She was alone, cordial; she asked about my mother. But no, she couldn't join me for coffee afterward."

...

"Finally, after almost nine years since my beloved partner's death, I am able to do what I could never have braved in earlier years: pre-sent myself herewith to the world as a lesbian, along with all the women who ask to be judged by the full facet of our characters.

"Why am I now able to speak the unspoken? A friend at the retirement community where I live recently came out in the local and national newspapers. When I saw her do that, I thought, for heaven's sake, nobody can fire me, I'm 88 years old, my parents are gone.

"Still, I was frightened. It took me several days to put this essay in the mailbox. I owe a lot of credit to people who are comfortable enough in their own skins to say, "This is who I am.""

Yes, this is who we are, and we're not going to hide in shame in anymore. We're going to demand our rights to equality like anyone else would, and no amount of Republican huffing & puffing, conservative pontificating & demonizing is going to stop us.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

The environmental holocaust deniers?

It is amazing that there is still such a concerted effort of denying humankind's effects on our environment in spite of the obvious evidence to the contrary and just good old fashioned common-sense. Ah, but money changes everything...

A recent Newsweek article really put a lot of this denial movement into perspective:

"Through advertisements, op-eds, lobbying and media attention, greenhouse doubters (they hate being called deniers) argued first that the world is not warming; measurements indicating otherwise are flawed, they said. Then they claimed that any warming is natural, not caused by human activities. Now they contend that the looming warming will be minuscule and harmless. "They patterned what they did after the tobacco industry," says former senator Tim Wirth, who spearheaded environmental issues as an under secretary of State in the Clinton administration. "Both figured, sow enough doubt, call the science uncertain and in dispute. That's had a huge impact on both the public and Congress.""

"The reaction from industries most responsible for greenhouse emissions was immediate. "As soon as the scientific community began to come together on the science of climate change, the pushback began," says historian Naomi Oreskes of the University of California, San Diego. Individual companies and industry associations—representing petroleum, steel, autos and utilities, for instance—formed lobbying groups with names like the Global Climate Coalition and the Information Council on the Environment. ICE's game plan called for enlisting greenhouse doubters to "reposition global warming as theory rather than fact," and to sow doubt about climate research just as cigarette makers had about smoking research."

"Groups that opposed greenhouse curbs ramped up. They "settled on the 'science isn't there' argument because they didn't believe they'd be able to convince the public to do nothing if climate change were real," says David Goldston, who served as Republican chief of staff for the House of Representatives science committee until 2006. Industry found a friend in Patrick Michaels, a climatologist at the University of Virginia who keeps a small farm where he raises prize-winning pumpkins and whose favorite weather, he once told a reporter, is "anything severe." Michaels had written several popular articles on climate change, including an op-ed in The Washington Post in 1989 warning of "apocalyptic environmentalism," which he called "the most popular new religion to come along since Marxism.""
Hey, this environmental "religion" is much more rational than the same old 'Jesus will fix it all' religion that got us where we are now, up to our polluted lungs in 'climate-change is cyclical'...

And last but not least:
"Those who doubt the reality of human-caused climate change have spent decades disputing that. But Boxer figured that with "the overwhelming science out there, the deniers' days were numbered." As she left a meeting with the head of the international climate panel, however, a staffer had some news for her. A conservative think tank long funded by ExxonMobil, she told Boxer, had offered scientists $10,000 to write articles undercutting the new report and the computer-based climate models it is based on."
Yep, and apparently Alexander Cockburn collected his 10 grand and then some for publishing a series of climate-change denial articles in the, oddly enough, liberal Nation magazine. Nothing really surprises me about this pay off other than how low it allegedly was...

Friday, August 10, 2007

A Democratic Ron Paul?

I read this article in Newsweek magazine today and found it to be a good one. To hear George Will tell it Democratic candidate Chris Dodd might actually be a good choice, well at least as far as protecting the Constitution is concerned.

An excerpt:
"Contrary to the Supreme Court's rejection of President Truman's 1952 claim of an inherent power as commander in chief to seize steel mills to prevent a wartime strike (Justice Jackson concurring: "No penance would ever expiate the sin against free government of holding that a president can escape control of executive power by law through assuming his military role"), this administration claims not merely inherent but exclusive presidential powers to:
  • Treat all of America as a battlefield on which even American citizens can be declared "enemy combatants," seized and held indefinitely, and intelligence can be collected by any means the president orders.
  • Disregard—or interpret into nullities—provisions of the Geneva Conventions, the Convention Against Torture or U.S. law that inhibit the president from acting as "sole organ" of the nation regarding national security.

""There is," Dodd says, "a hollowness to this campaign." If, however, Dodd distills his anger into a message about how a swollen presidency threatens the constitutional balance between the two political branches of government, that message might resonate. Certainly prosecuting the case against presidential aggrandizement would give the son of the Nuremberg prosecutor a distinctive theme. It also would give him a seriousness largely lacking in a campaign that is indeed hollow because its pervasive subtext—loathing of this president—is more visceral than intellectual.

"With his support measured in little amounts, Dodd has little to lose and a large role to gain. It would be the role of a constitutionalist candidate who promises that, as president, he would prune from his office much of the grandiosity it has acquired from audacious recent assertions of uncircumscribed powers."