Thursday, December 31, 2009

Keeping 'em honest

Soon after the attempted Christmas day terrorist attack to blow up flight 253 bound for Detroit, several Republican politicians and talking-head propagandists have been taking full partisan advantage of an opportunity to score some political points. These persons include former Vice President Dick Cheney, Republican strategist Karl Rove, Republican Congressman Peter King, Republican Senator Jim DeMint, and Republican Congressman Pete Hoekstra.

Fortunately, the White House is firing back.

And MSNBC, particularly via Rachel Maddow, is keeping them honest.


Yep, you heard it right. In addition to trying to capitalize politically by attacking the President for presiding over a country in which there was a failed terrorist attempt — something they used to claim they deserved to win more elections for — they've sunk even lower now. They are trying to raise money off of terrorism.

I suppose the Republicans are getting desperate for money these days, and if they have learned anything over the past decade, it is that fear & paranoia can be a real cash cow!

In a related issue, I think it is important to set the record straight on something. It has been widely reported among the talking-heads on TV (including Chris Matthews), conservative blogs (including Andrew Sullivan), and certainly from Republican politicians looking to capitalize politically, that Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano had said that "the system worked" in regards to this terrorist attack.

I, too, thought her remarks (or my understanding of them) to be outrageous; absolutely unacceptable. But while I have no love for the entire concept of the Orwellianesque "Office of Homeland Security", once I did a little more research on this, reviewed the video footage, I have come to realize that the comment truly was taken out of context. The Ms. Napolitano was referring to what the system did after the incident. Which, admittedly, is really not that important a discussion compared to what happened before. It is the before that she and the administration should be focused on. Nonetheless, it is important to keep the proper perspective on all this and to form honest assessments.

In addition, the President has referred to this incident as a systemic failure.

Meet the Press discusses the past & future decades

There was a lot of really good analysis this week on Meet the Press with David Gregory. Guests included: NBC Chief Foreign Affairs Correspondent Andrea Mitchell, Gov. Deval Patrick (D), Mayor Michael Bloomberg (I), former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich (R). They mostly covered the past decade and what is ahead for the United States in the next.

Some highlights below::

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

I am convinced


From early on I have been supportive of the war in Afghanistan. Whereas I opposed the war in Iraq, and knew it to be unjustified, unnecessary and reckless, I have believed the opposite is true of the war in Afghanistan. To this day I still support the war there and President Obama's decision to send more troops as part of Gen. McChrystal's counter-insurgency plan.

I recall being very impressed during the presidential campaigns that while many anti-war liberals had begun to turn their propaganda machine against the Afghanistan war, Barack Obama was clear in distinguishing between the unnecessary war in Iraq and the quite necessary war in Afghanistan.

A few years ago, many of those same liberals claimed to know this distinction as well, but somewhere along the lines — perhaps through a taste of increased power by the Democratic party over the reigns of government — their anti-war ideologies kicked in and they decided that Afghanistan is absolutely hopeless and without purpose. I and many others haven't wavered. Should not waver. Certainly not yet. And I feel very comfortable knowing that we have a President who hasn't wavered on this either.

I'll waste no time trying to convince those who foolishly believe that we can somehow negotiate with terrorist organizations like al-Qaeda. But to those who supported the war in Afghanistan — believing it was unfortunate but necessary — who have since changed their mind about our presence there, I urge them to give the President some time.

Give stability in Afghanistan one last chance. Just a few more years could turn things around there. Afterall, it will be the first opportunity this new Administration has had yet. And it will be their only chance. Even Gen. McChrystal and others have stated that we really only have one last opportunity to turn things around there, and if we can't accomplish this in the next 2 years then there is nothing else that can be done.

It is absolutely vital that the area is made more secure. Vital to the region. Just because the Bush administration dithered for 7 long years, this is no reason to throw up our hands and resign ourselves, Afghans and the entire region as a whole to defeat.

What is it that makes me so sure that all of this is worth it? A lot of things, including the firm belief that the consequences of failing are far, far worse than trying. However, three interviews earlier this month on Charlie Rose's program certainly helped reconfirm to me that we are on the correct path.




I highly recommend watching these interviews:
Gen. McChrystal - 12/9/2009
Adm. Mike Mullen - 12/3/2009
John Kerry - 12/2/09


There are no direct links yet at the website, but the interviews are streaming under the "Recent Shows" tab.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

'Gay' certainly comes in all stripes


There are some highly unusual characters over at the Independent Gay Forum. Dare I say, queer?

I've read articles at the site for at least a year or two, and contributed comments on occasion but rarely followed those of others. It didn't seem that very many people posted there and I was busy with a lot of other, more mainstream forums.

Sometime in the past 6 months or so it seems posting became more frequent at the Independent Gay Forum, and I've been spending more time there.

In that time I've read some very good articles and some interesting, well-informed, intelligent comments. It's very encouraging. But I've also read some patently ignorant, offensive, bigoted garbage, too.

There are clearly many conservatives and even militant Republicans that post there, some of which are just beyond belief. Like the homosexual man who only votes Republican, likes Sarah Palin, reads Anne Coulter, watches Fox News, listens to Rush Limbaugh, despises the 'war on Christmas', clearly isn't fond of Muslims, loves guns and war and hates liberals.

In spite of all this typical, militant conservatism, he also claims to have had 50 sex partners (I suspect that he is younger than 30), assumes that he's safer from disease by using condoms with strangers than trusting to do without the condom with a monogamous partner, and he saw nothing offensive about Adam Lambert's AMA performance. In fact, he seems to look upon Mr. Lambert as some sort of role model who has somehow advanced the homosexual struggle for equality by shoving simulated oral sex into the faces of the mainstream America who was watching the show that night...

Seriously, I could not make this up.

Another right-wing blogger there is far more socially conservative than this. To the point of being fascist. He relies on nauseating, regurgitated propaganda to implicate the entire homosexual population based on the actions of some. Oh, yeah, and we're just as guilty as them if we don't all band together and stop those who engage in inappropriate behavior...

He manages to paint a caricature of homosexuals in general as being sex-crazed hedonists who tend to prey on children and either participate in or defend despicable and/or criminal sexual behavior. Publicly, by the way. And (in his reality), none of us ever get arrested for this, either. Apparently law-enforcement has recently become too afraid of lawsuits to arrest homosexuals for committing crimes. Hmmm... News to me.

He also depicts, what he calls “gay-sex marriage” advocates, as attempting to destroy marriage and society. Oh, and we're hypocrites because most of us don't vote Republican. Why hypocrites? One reason is because we claim marriage is a “basic civil right” {see Loving vs. Virginia} but yet we don't defend adults marrying children and people marrying animals, etc. Ah, but in other posts, to the contrary he claims that we (all) do defend these and other highly controversial forms of marriage. Apparently you can have your cake and eat it, too.

The supposed moral to the story is, “gay-sex marriage” is just a “smokescreen” for destroying marriage and furthering the agenda of the “Obama party”. Yes, he derisively refers to the Democratic party as the “Obama party”.

Speaking of which. We're also, according to this homophobic troll, hypocrites because most of us voted for Barack Obama, who opposes same-sex marriage just as nearly all (or is it all now?) Republicans do. Oh the hypocrisy!

He fails to grasp the obvious flaw in all this specious (and despicable) reasoning of his.

I clued him in on it, and he's still having fits over it. I informed him that President Obama and most Democrats support letting the states decide same-sex marriage, many even support legalizing same-sex marriage; most Democrats support ending Don't Ask, Don't Tell; eliminating the so-called Defense of Marriage Act; ending discrimination against homosexuals in employment (some of which has already gone in place for the Federal government); and the Democrats pushed for and passed a Hate Crimes bill which includes sexual-orientation. (Which, by the way, Democrats had to attach to a defense spending bill to do so. Unscrupulous, I admit, but the damn thing got passed in spite of the groaning and moaning of Republicans, most of which wouldn't dare vote against a defense bill.)

Juxtapose the above to Republicans who have passed constitutional amendments in some 30 states banning same-sex marriage (all in an effort to elect more Republicans, mind you); attempts to pass a national constitutional amendment permanently establishing marriage exclusively for heterosexual couples only; writing and passing DoMA; fighting anti-gay Hate Crimes legislation; opposing court decisions which overturned unconstitutional laws targeting homosexuals, including anti-sodomy laws in Texas; deep opposition to same-sex adoption and even their so-called “compromise” — same-sex civil unions in various states. The list goes on and on...

Yes, yes homosexuals are such “hypocrites” for supporting the only major national party which has actually improved, rather than undermined our efforts for equality. As I informed this blogger the other day, he is the worst example of cognitive dissonance I have ever encountered anywhere.

{Be aware that the rest of this post is dealing rather frankly with sexual content that could be considered graphic to some}

Monday, December 28, 2009

Musings

  • Leave it to the media... In this case TMZ and the Daily Beast. On the "Cheat Sheet" at the Daily Beast the 22nd story was titled, "JFK on a Boat With Naked Women?" which claimed "TMZ has released a previously unpublished photo that appears to show John F. Kennedy tanning on a boat as two naked women jump off into the ocean, and two more tan in the nude on the upper deck. The photo, believed to be taken during a Mediterranean boat trip that then-senator JFK took with brother Ted Kennedy and Senator George Smathers in 1956, has been authenticated by multiple experts."
A bombshell, right!? Wrong. At the same "Cheat Sheet", story number 6 is titled, "Sexy JFK Photo a Fake". According to the story, "TMZ now says that the color photo is a fake: It ran in Playboy in 1967." Does this mean the next time TMZ informs the public of something as if it's verified we can just ignore it? This might be a good idea, yes.

Ah, where's Orly Taitz when you need her?

A revolution whose time has come?

Though I despise violence, I believe in the necessity of revolution at times {when it's justified, Tea Baggers}.

What has been going on in Iran since the elections over the summer has been both heartbreaking and inspiring. To watch as common people and opposition leaders organize to challenge the corruption and oppression of the draconian Ahmadinejad regime is inspiring. And, of course, the violent clashes, the killings, including Neda Agha-Soltan, the police brutality, thuggery among pro-government advocates, the mock trials, torture, imprisonment of political dissidents are all heartbreaking.

I saw this photo this morning in the news and found it very symbolic, powerful.

Protesters — the oppressed lashing out against the oppressors. And at least in this case, having the upper-hand.

It's tragic that in these latest protests several have reportedly been killed, including the nephew of opposition leader Mir Hossein Mousavi who was reportedly shot in the back. Still, what the Iranian people are doing is heroic. They are standing up to their government which has disenfranchised them. They are trying to shape their destiny in any way they can whilst living under a regime that isn't accountable, doesn't heed the will of the people and is not open to change. Among other things, they seek more representation, basic civil rights like freedom of speech and assembly, and of course the most basic of all, they seek human rights.

That is what, to me, makes all this inspiring.

I hope that we here in the U.S. and the West in general will give the people of Iran as much support as we can. But I also believe we must tread cautiously in doing so.I don't believe that we should meddle too much in these domestic affairs, 1) because I believe it best for our nation to avoid foreign entanglements as George Washington once warned our young nation, 2) because it will only bolster the claims by the regime and Islamic extremists that the United States is imposing its will, and that the discontent among the common-folk is manufactured.

We should also take heart that here, in what is often depicted as enemy territory by neoconservative ideologists, Muslims are rebelling against oppression, against a regime that acts in defiance of world security, and they are clamoring for a more democratic form of government. It reconfirms that there are indeed moderates to be found among Muslim nations; there is hope that terrorism and Islamic extremist ideology can be countered by the very people who are sought to be recruited to it; and democracy can be both compatible with and welcomed by the peoples of the Middle-East without having to drop bombs to convince them.


Newsweek article on the presumed spiritual leader of the reform movement, Ayatollah Hussein Ali Montazeri
Newsweek article on the experiences of journalist, Maziar Bahari, who was held captive by the Iranian regime for 4 months
[EDIT: An interesting article at the Daily Beast about the growing civil rights/revolution in Iran]

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Musings

  • Michael Arrington, founder of TechCrunch was was quoted as in a Time magazine article about the future of information technology: "A hundred years out, one of two things is going to happen: either we're going to nuke ourselves into the Stone Age, or we're going to perfect virtual reality, like Second Life. I mean, imagine, we can just plug in and be anything we want to be and do anything we want to do. We'll never unplug."
And critical-thinking would disappear, our intrinsic humanity would cease to exist, and life would have no purpose. No thanks. Honestly, I'd rather we nuke ourselves back to the Stone Age.
  • "[Sarah Palin is] the only thing between 2004 and 2009 that's ever given any energy to the Republican Party—No. 1, because she's a woman, and No. 2, because she expresses herself well." ~ Sen. Chuck Grassley
Really... So Chuck finds her to be articulate with her combination of folksy metaphors and disjointed syntax (A.K.A. Palinisms)? Well, I suppose when you consider the lack of substance, she is good at expressing that...

I also find the hypocrisy quite telling that while Democrats who are intrigued by Barack Obama's African-American heritage are accused by right-wingers as being racist, these same folks don't see it as sexist when Republicans are intrigued by Sarah Palin's gender.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Total economic collapse?

Or at least a Dow that will crash to well below it's recent worst back in March of this year. This, according to Robert Prechter, who bases his predictions on mathematical formulas which he developed from studying Ralph Nelson Elliot, an accountant and market forecaster from the 1930's.

Apparently his predictions are accurate — the changes in the market that he predicts do tend to happen — but they are generally off by several years.

I'm certainly no economist, and I don't have much to base this guess on other than instinct and what seems to me as common sense, but I have been convinced that the economic collapse we saw at the end of 2008 to the first quarter of 2009 was merely a hiccup. While it was framed as at the edge of a total global economic collapse, I don't really believe it was. Instead, I have believed that this is what would follow if we continued doing what we have been doing — (including, but not limited to) running huge trade deficits, exporting more manufacturing jobs than we're creating, relying heavily on a consumer-based economy, not significantly increasing our agrarian production, and allowing banks to operate largely unregulated.

One year later and nothing has really changed, except unemployment is a lot higher, millions of Americans have had their homes foreclosed, the nation is a lot farther in debt, and while we were told that many banks had simply become "too big to fail" (they were too big to exist, without question), they're even bigger now! Or as Andrew Ross Sorkin refers to it, they are "too big to fail²".

Our solution seems to be to get back to massive, needless consumerism. Oh, and to inflate the next unsustainable bubble until it, too, pops. This is, of course, no sustainable solution at all. And so, we didn't just avoid economic Armageddon last year — economic Armageddon is still yet to come. And if it does it will be due not just to extreme greed, recklessness and corruption, it will also be due to the lack of competence and conviction of our political leaders and representatives.

Check out this article at TIME.

I also highly recommend checking out Charlie Rose's interview with Andrew Ross Sorkin from October 19 of this year. No direct link is available at the website, but you can find the interview at the website under the "Recent Shows" tab.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

The American Dream

Here lately I have noticed, with the bad economy and debates about capitalism, etc. taking place, I've been thinking about what the American Dream is. To me, the American Dream for most folks would include at least these three things:
  • Owning your own home and automobile
  • Giving your children a better life & better opportunities than you had
  • For your standard of living to generally increase rather than decrease throughout your lifetime

Thursday, December 17, 2009

The politics behind the reverse on principles

We may have some answers now as to why the Obama administration has reversed course on several campaign promises. Massimo Calabresi and Michael Weiskopf wrote a revealing article for TIME magazine a few weeks ago. In it, they detail some of the events leading up to and following President Obama and members of his staff deciding to end the use of torture techniques against suspected terrorists, suspend the constitutionally dubious practice of indefinitely detaining suspected terrorists without charge or trial, to close the Guantanamo Bay prison, to release photos and memos of the abuse of suspected terrorists by U.S. agents, and to hold trials of several suspected terrorists in a conventional court of law in New York.

Some of these decisions have been reversed since the administration took more principled stands, like releasing the torture photos, ending military tribunals and suspending indefinite detainment without charge or trial. Others just simply haven't been fulfilled yet, like the closing of the Guantanamo Bay prison facility.

While some of these decisions may have been practical, like the photos and military tribunals, others appear to be simply political. I find this seriously disappointing. Our country is not showing leadership, or "leading by example" as President Obama dubs it, when it comes to human rights and civil liberties by continuing or even embracing the same sort of unconstitutional methods that the Bush administration had relied on for years. This is not what many of those who voted for Mr. Obama, myself included, expected when we cast our votes and it's certainly not what we were promised.

Some are choosing to defend the administration on the grounds that Mr. Obama had made promises that, once given a more complete view of all the details and consequences of such decisions, were deemed too impractical or risky to do from a national security standpoint. Even assuming this were true, then he never should have made such principled arguments and promises in the first place. This claim would also illustrate that he possessed a lack of experience and breadth of knowledge of these situations. Which in turn would strongly suggest, considering that he spoke out so assuredly in spite of his inadequate awareness, a real lack of responsibility on his part.

There was one thing about the article I found particularly misleading:
"The President was moving away from some promises he had made during the campaign and toward more moderate positions, some favored by George W. Bush. At the same time, he quietly shifted responsibility for the legal framework for counterterrorism from [former top White House lawyer, Greg] Craig to political advisers overseen by [chief of staff, Rahm] Emanuel, who was more inclined to strike a balance between left and right."
Correction, anyone who has made even a cursory examination of Rahm Emanuel's past practices in politics would know that he is more inclined to make his decisions based solely on political expediency. It has nothing to do with striking ideological balances.

On my soapbox

I saw a story at the Daily Beast and, for some reason, I just had to vent:

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Musings

  • Ex-justice of the peace, Keith Bardwell, who refused to marry an interracial couple in Tangipahoa Parish, Louisiana, recently claimed, "I'm not a racist. I just don't believe in mixing the races that way."

Ah, yes, and that sort of focus on race and a misguided concern about races "mixing" would, by definition, qualify as racism, which would make you, a racist...

This reminds me of those anti-gay types who claim they don't have a problem with gay people, they just don't think they should have to hire us, or serve alongside us in the military, or have their kids taught by us in schools, or have to share their exclusive right to marriage with us.
 
  • This week on the Wanda Sykes show, the guests were discussing stereotypes on television, specifically the embarrassment that is 'Jersey Shore' on MTV. Wanda said, "I'm like this. Hey — black people — we've had to put up with 'Flavor of Love' for years, so. Hey, deal with it... We're looking at it and going, 'White people are looking at this! I'm going to have to kill everybody on that show."
Exactly! This is exactly how I felt as a homosexual watching Adam Lambert's lewd performance at the American Music Awards — Straight people who haven't had a great deal of real life experiences with us are watching you act like some sort of hedonistic dominatrix.

  • Queerty.com asks the loaded question, "Is This Really Too Offensive To Ever Show America?" accompanied with this picture: 


Nope, I don't think so, but I think this



was probably too offensive to display at the American Music Awards, yeah.
Particularly at this point in our struggle for equality, when we should be trying to be taken seriously.

And that is my reason for disliking this whole fiasco, regardless how those with the political-correctness agenda want to frame it.

Monday, December 14, 2009

How to spot a bigot...

I read this article at the Independent Gay Forum the other day and it got me to thinking about bigots and the difference between bigotry and mere prejudice.

I really do believe there is a distinction, one that many of us, including myself, aren't always so good at acknowledging. I know that I've been a bit too quick to use the term "bigot" to describe those who propagate negative stereotypes about homosexuals, marginalize our legal inequalities, and either support or even vote to deny same-sex couples marriage (not unlike racists who were outraged after the Supreme Court overruled anti-miscegenation laws in 1967 and would have voted to ban interracial marriage if they would have had such an option).

In spite of the prejudices they cling to, and the damage they cause, I realize that while I certainly oppose their view — believing they are misguided, misinformed, and probably selfish and/or careless — many of them probably don't quite add up to the definition of bigot.

So what would that definition be? Well, that depends on your dictionary — they're all over the place. But I decided to put together a list of what I believe are some important criteria:
  • is the intention of the person espousing their belief hostile, including the unapologetic use of words they know to be insulting?
  • do they tend to resort to sweeping generalizations about entire groups of people as opposed to making important distinctions about individuals?
  • are they seemingly incapable of making somewhat reasonable arguments supporting their view?
  • is there an unwillingness to be challenged or admit that their view may be flawed?
  • are they closed-minded to genuinely considering and understanding contradicting views?
  • is there a refusal to accept new information which might undermine their belief?
  • do they seem devoid of much sympathy or empathy with the group of people they are not comfortable with?
  • do they really even understand what they believe and why?
The last one is a bit complicated. Because, in my opinion, it can either suggest that they are completely irrational in their view, and thus would certainly be by definition bigoted in their beliefs, or it could be that they've never really known anything else and in a sense they just don't know any better. Such a person might not be accurately described as a bigot. It would depend on how they stacked up on the other criteria.

I'd say that if you could describe a person or their actions as fitting more than 3 of these then they probably are a bigot. But then it also depends on which ones and the severity...

In the end, I think perhaps whether or not one is a bigot is just one of those things one knows when they see it.

In the future, I am going to try to be a bit more careful about when I apply the word. But make no mistake, bigots do exist and few of them ever imagine themselves to be as blindly prejudiced, intolerant, unreasonable & backward as they indeed are.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Musings

I have decided to try something new. I often read little blurbs in magazines or hear remarks on TV that, to me, really seem to get at the heart of something or really illicit a response, but, there is no venue to do so. Then I realized, well, yes, actually there is. Right here.

This is what I will be doing with my posts titled (and taggged) 'musings'... Consider it sort of like a twitter feed (which I don't have, nor want), only less constrained and with more substance.

  • According to James Poniewozik in Time magazine a few weeks ago, Sarah Palin said on Oprah Winfrey's show, "You don't need a title to make a difference..."

This is true. One certainly does not require a title, like governor, to achieve some improvement in one's community. However, in regards to you, Ms. Palin, and your former title as Governor of Alaska, you were elected to a public office. Chosen among the residents of Alaska to fulfill that duty to the best of your ability, providing responsible leadership and honestly representing your constituents for one term. You made it half way through that term and then decided to quit.

You gave up, and shirked a huge responsibility in the process. That was your decision to make and now you must accept certain consequences of that decision. Don't expect to be respected for it. And don't expect folks to take you seriously as a political figure in the future. There really is no legitimate reason to entrust you with public office again.


  • Apparently at a closed-door, no-cameras-allowed event held for Sarah Palin, she instructed her audience of sycophants: "Don't let anyone ever tell you to sit down and shut up."
Don't worry, I won't. I will not be marginalized; I will not be disenfranchised; and I will not be silent. This is directed especially to those social conservatives who think they can dictate people's personal lives through legislation, as well as those "populist" fascists like yourself who think you are the arbiters of what qualifies as "real America" and "real Americans".

  • On Friday's edition of Hardball, when setting up his segment with Dr. Brenda Ekwurzel, Chris Matthews said of anthropogenic climate-change deniers who incessantly stand in the way of efforts to limit carbon-emissions and convert the nation & world to greener technologies, "we're not going to appeal to the far right; we're not going to appeal to the deniers watching tonight because they do not want to hear anything that gets in the way of their piggish attitudes. But let's talk about those who would like to save this planet for future generations and don't just want to eat it up between now and their own personal retirements."
That basically sums up the mentality of these disingenuous people right there — complete and utter selfishness. They'd rather save their bottom lines today and score political points than save the lives, property, environment and expense of future generations who will without doubt suffer greatly on all four fronts from our inaction today. Disgusting.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Highlights from President Obama's Nobel Prize acceptance speech

I was very impressed with the President's Nobel peace prize acceptance speech in Oslo, Norway. I was proud as an American to have a President who is as able to convey such a sincere, high-minded and articulate message to the world. I also agreed with most of his sentiments.

Below are some highlights from the speech. The entire transcript can be found here.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Thank you, Chris Matthews!

Chris Matthews had a good show on Wednesday. A testy exchange between Republican neoconservative apologist Ron Christie and left-wing, son of the former President, Ron Reagan.


They discussed the joke that is Dick Cheney, though it's not a damn bit funny that this amoral former Vice President and not-yet-convicted war criminal, has gone on the rampage again, declaring that the current President of the United States is giving "aid and comfort" to the enemy through some of his policies. Chris is exactly right, this is constitutional language, an accusation of treason.

Ron Christie is so devoid of integrity; he's just a Republican propagandist and, as Chris Matthews introduced him, a "long-time loyalist to Dick Cheney", of which he seems to be quite proud. This speaks volumes to his lack of character and scruples.

This was just the latest example in what a truly despicable, evil man, Dick Cheney is, to advocate so vociferously for torture, to be such a proponent for detaining people without trial or even charge, indefinitely, and lest we forget, it was through his lies and manipulation that we were dragged into the unethical, unnecessary morass that has been the Iraq War.


Later on the show, Democratic Congressman Alan Grayson (though correct in his sentiment) showed what I thought was a real lack of class for an elected representative of the people when he responded to a question about Dick Cheney's most recent accusations of treason against our sitting President.


When asked by Chris Matthews, "How far is [Dick Cheney] going to go so he gets to speak at the next Republican Convention?" To which Congressman Grayson responded, "I don't know. You know, on the Internet, there is an acronym that is used to apply to situations like this. It's STFU. I don't think I can say that on the air, but I think you know what that means."

Shut the fuck up. Yes, and Cheney most definitely needs to do so. He's done enough irreparable harm to this country and really should be in a prison somewhere, but that remark was seriously juvenile for a man of his position. By the way, I think Mr. Cheney has already landed that speaking gig at the Republican convention.

But this from Congressman Grayson was just hilarious: "I remember Bush Jr. kissing Prince Abdullah on the cheek... ...and then holding his hand for an extended period of time. Maybe if he let him get to second base, then gasoline would be $1 a gallon."

Seriously, to all those who are criticizing the President for having showed a sense of decency and respect in bowing to the Japanese Emperor, as is in keeping with Japanese culture and custom, shut the fuck up. Where were your criticisms during the frequent truly humiliating blunders of George "Dubya" Bush on his misadventures abroad? And strolling in the garden holding hands with the Saudi King, the Saudis who are far more an enemy to the interests of this country than the Japanese will ever be!


An interesting bit of information came up on this show. Bruce Springsteen, of which I am a fan, declined to perform at the inauguration of newly elected Governor of New Jersey, Republican Chris Christie, who is a huge Springsteen fan. Many celebrities would have just taken the money, but Mr. Springsteen, a Democrat, put principle ahead of money. Good for him.


I saved the best for last, Chris defined progressivism and contrasted it to a more radical approach:
"A progressive is somebody that moves along step by step, so that everybody can get aboard, so that we have a democratic process that gets aboard this new change that we're going into."


"A radical is someone who wants everything the way they want it now." ~ Chris Matthews

BINGO! This is why, though I am conservative/libertarian in regards to certain issues, I have long considered myself to be largely a progressive. Not a "liberal" pushing more radical, immediate, fundamentalist-type change. No. A "progressive" who mostly supports moving forward gradually, deliberatively, reasonably, sensibly, creating consensus along the way and achieving better results because of it. I have no patience and no tolerance for those who undermine this and generally pursue radicalism.

And yes, there are a lot of liberals these days, like Congressman Grayson, who call themselves progressives in an effort to appear more moderate, but they're not.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Some of us still support decency

A contributor to the Independent Gay Forum has the right idea about the harm that stunts like Adam Lambert's at the American Music Awards can inflict on our community by perpetuating stereotypes of licentiousness. It's a good article with some great points. This segment summed it up nicely:
"Adam Lambert, you may say that “I’m not trying to lead the fucking way for the civil rights movement that we’re in right now,” but the fact is that we ARE in a struggle for our civil rights and you are a pop culture figure (thanks in no small part to the support of gays and gay allies.)

"We are in a dangerous moment. Our political allies are quickly backing away from us, thanks to losses on gay marriage in California and Maine and the Democratic loss of the governorship in New Jersey.

"Whereas just over a year ago it seemed like gay marriage was an inevitable wave sweeping the country - and a tsunami in New England, New Jersey and New York — now it feels like the tide has turned. The hate crimes bill victory was followed by a vicious hate crime in Puerto Rico. We have hearings on ENDA, which could go either way. We have Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell hearings which are being put off until 2010. We have a President who isn’t sure he is our friend.

"And what is the mainstream most worried about, Adam Lambert? Why are they afraid of our partnerships, our service to our country, our working lives, our families? They are worried because they think gay life is exactly what you portrayed on the American Music Awards: focused on the kind of sex that turns people into animals (almost literally, in this case, with crawling dancers leading you on leashes), geared toward enticing children (ABC is a network owned by Disney, for heaven’s sake), degrading, rapacious, empty.

"This is why mainstream America votes against gays, Adam Lambert. Not because of people who have families and jobs and bills and weddings. Because of people like you, who use sexuality thoughtlessly in order to advance your own agenda, instead of thinking about the very real consequences your actions will have on others’ civil rights."


Here's my comment. Naturally, Mr. Lambert has his defenders, people that seem to want to just keep pushing that envelope on what qualifies as decent. Or do they want to completely remove the concept of decency? I wonder...

I've been having an exchange with one guy who defends Mr. Lambert as a gay artist he can "admire"... Seriously? Might I suggest we aim higher... My latest post.

There was some very pithy comments in opposition to Mr. Lambert's performance, and the support of it.

Highlights:


[REDACTED: the blogger whose quotes were here turned out to be a homosexual-hating bigot with an agenda to work against the equality movement]

"Why should I care about getting rid of the double standard so that Adam Lambert can portray oral sex on stage when I think the standard is awful?" ~ Jorge

Alas, brevity is not a gift I have yet acquired.

Sunday, December 06, 2009

More misguided defense of Adam Lambert

More knee-jerk over-reaction from some members of the homosexual community. Some are all fired up, invoking "bigotry" and "hypocrisy", and ready to start a boycott. Soon to follow from the anti-homosexual crowd: more claims that the gay community yet again defends the indefensible. All this because Adam Lambert has been criticized to some degree and apparently censored by ABC for his lewd performance at the American Music Awards.

I believe in calling out bad behavior when I see it, and that goes for my community as well. We take a lot of flak for being an "immoral" crowd. I believe in challenging both those who claim this, and those among us who make this portrayal seem an accurate description. My comment at Queerty.com. Another comment at The Daily Beast.



[EDIT:]

Saturday, December 05, 2009

Theocons hijacking political system; time to turn up the heat

Harry Jackson is an outspoken bishop who has become a celebrity among right-wing groups for his dogmatic stance against same-sex marriage, including extensive lobbying in an effort to deny marriage to same-sex couples. He spent a great deal of time and effort trying to prevent any sort of recognition in Washington, D.C. of same-sex marriage, but recently failed in that endeavor.

He has since been virtually declaring war against politicians who do not uphold his theological views. A clear attempt to thwart our constitutional prohibition of church and state, I'm wondering when the feds are going to cut his religious organization's 501(c)(3) tax-exemption status...

Obviously our community is coming under increasing attack from bigots who have been thus far adept at using a tyranny of the majority to legislate away our civil rights; the ugly dark side of democracy — popular sovereignty.

Much of this is desperation from the fact that the anti-homosexual crowd have been losing ground. Even as same-sex marriage has been banned in over 30 states, and both California and Maine has stripped same-sex couples of an established right to civil marriage, the gay rights movement has won on many fronts, including legal protections against hate crimes, against discrimination in employment and housing, more recognition by the federal government, recognition of civil unions and domestic partnerships, and polls indicate more support for same-sex marriage than ever before. Five states also currently do or soon will perform and recognize same-sex marriages.

At this point it seems clear that it is only a matter of time before they will have lost in their effort to codify theology into our government and deny equal protection and due process to homosexuals and same-sex couples. Nonetheless, we are really going to have to turn up the heat if we are to achieve justice. We're going to have to be smarter about our battles, more organized, and more focused on the issue. In fact, I think it is time for us to become single-issue voters on homosexual equality.

I would normally never support single-issue voting, but considering how small a minority we are and what we are fighting for and against, I think it would be in our best interest to mostly let this issue guide us in who wins our votes. Those who favor homosexual equality and vote accordingly should get our support, even if we disagree with them on most every other issue. Those who do not represent our interest should be ruthlessly opposed. Also, we need to demand that our government uphold I.R.S. statutes and have tax-exemption status removed from those churches and religious organizations who entangle themselves in politics.

In the meantime, we have to continue pressing our case in other ways. Organizing, educating, enlightening, countering prejudice and propaganda where we find it. My letter to Bishop Jackson, via his church website:

Friday, December 04, 2009

Why I watch the NewsHour with Jim Lehrer

The Newshour program with Jim Lehrer is about to undergo a fifth name-change since it's creation in 1975.

On Monday the program will become the PBS Newshour. The plan is to work more with local Public Television stations and integrate more with the Internet. Other than that, while there will be some changes to the format there doesn't appear to be any drastic changes and the new program will retain the same lineup of journalists who have been filing reports on the show for years and one new correspondant — Hari Sreenivasan.

I have seen no definite word on whether lead anchor Jim Lehrer will be leaving the show in the foreseeable future. I certainly hope not. I really do appreciate his style of honest, un-opinionated coverage and his dispassionate demeanor.

Speaking of style, on Friday night's program at the end of the name-change segment, Mr. Lehrer described the guidelines that are a part of the "MacNeil-Lehrer" journalism that has been the heart of the show for well over two decades now: 
  • Do nothing I cannot defend.
  • Cover, write and present every story with the care I would want if the story were about me.
  • Assume there is at least one other side, or version to every story.
  • Assume the viewer is as smart and as caring and as good a person as I am.
  • Assume the same about all people on whom I report.
  • Assume personal lives are a private matter until a legitimate turn in the story absolutely mandates otherwise.
  • Carefully separate opinion and analysis from straight news stories, and clearly label everything.
  • Do not use anonymous sources or blind quotes except on rare and monumental occasions.
  • No one should ever be allowed to attack another anonymously.
  • I am not in the entertainment business.
Brilliant! The show represents quality journalism, an invaluable resource today, which puts mainstream media coverage and the partisan infotainment of MSNBC and FoxNews to shame.

This style of journalism should be required study for anyone pursuing a journalism major.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Well done, Mr. President

Due to some personal issues in my life at the moment, I am not going to provide as much detailed commentary as I had planned, but I will say that I was very impressed with President Obama's speech at Westpoint this past Tuesday on the "Way Forward in Afghanistan and Pakistan". I emphatically agree with his take on the Afghanistan situation, our role in it, and why we should put an increased focus in gaining stability for the region. I've always been impressed with how Mr. Obama (supposedly the uber-liberal) has shown himself to be a pragmatist who understands that sometimes war is, in fact, necessary. I've also been impressed that he has shown himself to be someone who correctly knows the difference between necessary wars and unnecessary, unlike those who ran against him in 2008.

In spite of naysayers, I believe the President gave a great deal of deliberation on the matter, far more so than President Bush ever did. While Karl Rove may claim that it took Bush & Co. 50+ days to "remove the Taliban from power in Afghanistan", and though he may pontificate about how long it took President Obama to make what I believe is a wise decision in Afghanistan, I would bring to his and his apologist's attention that the Bush administration that he was a part of had 8 long years to create real stability in Afghanistan and they failed. I would also remind Karl Rove and his apologists that the current President is having to send tens of thousands more U.S. combat troops to keep the Taliban from returning to power & al-Qaeda from re-gaining a safe haven in Afghanistan 8 long years after Bush & Co. supposedly made defeating both a priority...

Seriously, after 8 long years of dithering, these imbeciles who are a shame to their country should refrain from trying to score partisan political points and instead support this President who is showing a real commitment to repairing their monstrous fuck up. At least give him two years, a quarter of the time you had, then you can run your hypocritical mouths all you want.

My other thought on this development about the troop build-up is that, though I expected as much, I'm very disappointed by some of the reaction on the left to the President's decision. There is so much disingenuousness from the likes of Keith Olbermann, Rachel Maddow, some members of Congress, and various left-wing pundits and bloggers. Comedian Bill Maher even took it upon himself to refer to the President as "Barry", which was as immature as those knuckle-dragging, uninformed, right-wing conspiracy theory nuts who have invented the myth that Barack Obama was born "Barry Obama" and later changed his name to Barack, like some sort of militant Black Panther member. Mr. Maher also went on to dishonestly compare President Obama's speech to Mr. Bush's.

I'd like to remind some of these people that in addition to the fact that al-Qaeda have repeatedly used terrorism against us and our allies and have vowed to do so again, and in addition to the fact that regaining a safe haven in Afghanistan is a threat to our national security, that many of these folks used to claim in their opposition to the Iraq war that Afghanistan was indeed the legitimate war all along. And just because they may have used this claim to dispel accusations that they were, in fact, anti-war peaceniks who oppose war at all costs for naive ideological reasons, they should know that some of us are going to hold them to their words and their positions.