Saturday, October 31, 2009

Liz Cheney: Straight Up Liar

In the past, I've posted about Liz Cheney on this blog. I pointed out her double standards. But now, I've come to a new conclusion.

Cheney is someone who simply does not deserve to be listened to; she deserves no audience. I say this not because she has a political perspective that I do not share. I say this because she is a straight up liar, and my girl Rachel Maddow made that so plainly clear last night on her show:

Visit for Breaking News, World News, and News about the Economy

And then there is this segment on "Countdown" last night.

It should be made clear. Until Liz Cheney can learn how to operate in a world where things like facts and truths matter, no one should bother to listen to a single syllable that she utters from her mouth. We don't need to be subjected to another person who is nothing but loud and wrong.

Let me make this clear once again. Liz Cheney is a liar. Even if one doesn't agree with the politics of Rachel Maddow and Lawrence O'Donnell, one cannot say that they are both lying about Cheney. I think that the next time she appears on a program for a debate, either on the radio or on television, someone should confront her on the lies she has told. Make her explain herself. If they don't, then shame on every person who fails to do so; they will be giving her their imprimatur to continue spewing lies.

Furthermore, I d-double dare Liz Cheney to go on Rachel Maddow's show. THAT'S RIGHT, D-DOUBLE DARE!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Justice Scalia and Dissents

"Scalia on Brown v. Board of Education: I Would Have Dissented"

When I saw that headline on Huffington Post, something didn't feel right. I fully admit that I am no fan of Scalia's judicial philosophy, but I digress. I then went to the link provided in the post, and read it twice; I saw no mention of Brown v. Board of Education. Problem. Finally, I saw this post over at Balkinization that included an update (and a video clip) that made sense. Scalia would have dissented in Plessy v. Ferguson, which brought constitutional imprimatur to the idea of "separate but equal" back in 1896 that the Brown decision overturned in 1954.

What I found interesting about this little episode was the ease with which I could believe that Justice Scalia would have dissented in Brown. Yet, I am glad that my very next instinct was not to believe it without some type of proof. Because, even with a lifetime tenure, Scalia saying that he would have dissented in Brown would be like stepping on a landmine of landmines.

Huffington Post has updated the first post I saw, so the link I have will be the updated version. Here is the link to the video clip if someone is interested in watching the discussion between Scalia and and Justice Breyer; it's actually interesting.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Bipartisanship? Whatevah!

I just finished reading Howard Fineman's piece for "Newsweek" online, and he hits the nail on the head with regard to the pointless pursuit of bipartisanship on the part of the Obama administration. This effort would only make sense if the GOP was actually interested in working with Obama. It isn't, so watching Obama wax about bipartisanship following the Senate Finance Committee's vote was painful, because it was hollow. This is an instance where the push for bipartisanship feels more like ass covering, just in case the legislation doesn't do what you hope to do, than a real effort on the part of both sides of the aisle working to improve the lot of the American people. So, to Obama, I would say that if you think you have a good idea, then own it, and act like you have a massive Democratic majority in Congress. Let Hill Republicans continue to do their version of "talk to the hand," and ignore them accordingly, because this push for bipartisanship is a damn waste of your time.

Preserving GLBT Historic Sites

When I've had opportunities to speak publicly about the need to diversify the historic preservation movement, I always made sure to say that GLBT related historic places needed to be designated as historic sites and/or preserved. It is no secret that the preservation world is one of the most GLBT friendly, but that interest and expertise has not been put to the most effective use when it comes to preserving GLBT related historic sites.

That is beginning to change. I think that it is important for Americans to realize just how deep the GLBT presence in this country happens to be, and the best way to show that is through historic places. For example, I was proud when the National Trust for Historic Preservation, upon acquiring Philip Johnson's Glass House in Connecticut, made sure to identify it as a site with a significant GLBT historical relationship (and if you have not had the pleasure of visiting the site, I highly recommend that you visit it; stunningly beautiful is an understatement).

There are so many people and places that are important to telling the American story that are tied to the GLBT community. Dr. Franklin Kameny's home was recently landmarked in Washington, DC, a first for a GLBT site in the city. I just saw this post on Towleroad, regarding Natalie Barney of Dayton, Ohio, who was a lesbian author based in Paris. And of course, the Stonewall Inn is a National Historic Landmark, the highest designation for an historic site for its significance on the nation.

Clearly, there are a number of other places that can be identified and landmarked, if not saved to highlight and preserve our GLBT history. Personally, I would love to see a place related to Bayard Rustin designated. What about the founding site of the Daughters of Bilitis? Has it been identified for possible designation?

I hope that more professionals and practitioners within the preservation movement, particularly the GLBT folks within it, will really put their considerable talents and skills to pushing for the preservation of GLBT historic sites. Organizations like the Rainbow History Project have been doing the research to identify potential places for preserving. We in the preservation community need to follow their lead with preservation action.

Class Warfare, My View

Why does the phrase "class warfare" carry such weight with people who aren't rich? I have never understood that, especially when it becomes quite clear that the class warfare that has been waged has been against the bottom 95%. I mean it's strange that people are real quick to level all sorts of attacks and judgments on people who are poor, but will not say boo to those who are robbing us blind.

I characterize the last thirty years as class warfare carried out against those of us who aren't in the top 1 to 5 percent of income earners. That tiny lot got real fat off of the backs of the rest of us. They even let a little of what they didn't want trickle down to some of us, enough so that our concerns about growing income disparities, and stagnant wages would be ignored. They fanned the flames of blaming the poor, and got it so that the notion of helping your fellow man when in need was nothing short of taking something out of your wallets to give to those who deserved nothing more than scorn.

When all of that came tumbling down last year, I had a small hope that something just shy of a real revolution would come. But I should have known better. I still remember the blip of outrage that came in the wake of the Enron scandal. Talk about a canary in a coal mine, but it wasn't sustained.

So, I was happy to hear about this "Showdown in Chicago" protest at that American Bankers Association meeting. I would love to see full scale protests on Wall Street everyday for the rest of the year, because those tricks deserve it. Tax the hell out of every bonus given. Cap those salaries for those who recieved my tax dollars.

I am still waiting to see a revamping, for 21st century realities, of the economic measures put in place under FDR. This era of regulations and taxes being bad has to come to an end. Too many of us truly want something for nothing, and too many of us act like we are rich, so we support the rich in all that they do, even when what they do benefits only them, and leaves us in fiscal pain. I am all for striving, and who wouldn't want to be rich. But it is shameful watching people who are not rich speak so forcefully for the interests of the rich, and denigrate those who simply don't have.

Where are the demands for genuine help for the middle class? What happened to that program to relieve those under threat of foreclosure? What penalities will come to those who took this economy to the brink of the abyss? And when will folks who don't have money stop propping up the policies that have kept them stuck for the last several years? What will it take to break that habit?

Saturday, October 24, 2009

When Will the Cheneys Pass Out of All Knowledge?

The Cheney family is threatening the sanity of most clear thinking Americans, and someone needs to put all their madness out in the street for everyone to see. It is embarrassing to me to know that there are people who actually believe what these people have to say, even in the face of truth that contradicts almost every single syllable they utter.

Dick Cheney has the unmitigated gall to talk about "dithering" on the Afghan War. Did I miss the inertia that took over in Afghanistan, while we launched an unnecessary war against Iraq? Did I miss the "dithering" within the Bush administration when it came to finding Osama bin Laden? Liz Cheney, whose credentials to speak about anything substantive continues to elude me, talks about keeping America safe, but I think that will happen once she decides to leave the United States.

Now, I can passenger seat drive with the best of them, but damn, these people take the cake (spit in it, slap it in your face and then blame you for baking the cake in the first place).

There are lines in prologue of "The Fellowship of the Ring" that sum up my feelings regarding the entire Cheney family: "History became legend...legend became myth. And for two and a half thousand years the [Cheneys] passed out of all knowledge." If only we could be so blessed.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Adolescent Music Flashback: A-ha

Like millions of other people, I fell in love with the video for the A-ha song "Take On Me." It was like nothing I'd ever seen before. The song was pop music hotness, and I bought the album "Hunting High and Low" purely because I loved that one song. It also helped that I thought the members of the group were among the most beautiful men I'd laid my teenage eyes on at the time (particularly keyboard player Magne Furuholmen). To my surprise, I found that I really liked the album as a whole, and I realized that "Take On Me" was far from my favorite song on the album. Here are the songs that I really liked from "Hunting High and Low" (how can you not love YouTube?):

"Train of Thought"

"The Sun Always Shines on TV"

"Blue Sky"

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Lobbying While Muslim II

One of the reasons I enjoy watching Rachel Maddow, is because she makes it a point to show just how out there some people can be, particularly those on the right. In her coverage of the alleged secret plot of Muslim infiltration of the U.S. government, primarily through internships on the Hill, Maddow reaches across the aisle. She talks with former Bush administration appointee Suhail Khan about these allegations against the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR). Check out the segment.

This whole scenario reminds me that throughout the history of the United States, some in power have resorted to fear mongering, knowing that there will always be a part of the populace willing to be afraid of both real and phantom menaces. One of the points raised by Maddow toward the end of that segment of her show, is that the four members of Congress who called for an investigation of CAIR have yet to formally ask the Sergeant at Arms of the House for an investigation.

Why is that, and when is that formal request coming?

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Concerning Dress Codes and Men's Colleges

Morehouse College has developed an official dress code for its students, and the penalty for not following the proscribed code is possible suspension. Some of the items not allowed, as reported in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, include caps or sunglasses inside buildings and jeans at official programs. The most curious items banned were women's clothing. Actually, I was a little taken aback that women's clothing had to be included in a dress code at a men's college. For a school that had a notorious gay bashing seven years ago, I was surprised to find that some Morehouse men clearly do drag openly enough to be caught in the web of the new dress code. This can only mean that the climate on that campus has really changed for the better, in terms of tolerance for the gays. That is brilliant progress, particularly within a community of black men and future leaders.

Personally, I like the spirit of the dress code. I like that the leadership of Morehouse wants to honor the legacy of the great men who call the school their alma mater (including one cousin of mine). Yet, there is something superficial about the whole thing. I don't think that greatness will come from proper and acceptable styling, but again, I understand the sentiment behind the code.

Hell, I would love to see a return to the styling of men of the early 1960s as shown on shows like "Mad Men" or movies like "Down With Love." For me that period was the height of men's fashion and styling, but I digress.

I wish the folks at Morehouse well, and though I can't speak for the men of Wabash, I can guess that the men of my alma mater, Hampden-Sydney, might have a real problem with the rule about caps inside the buildings. I mean that was like a part of an overall Hampden-Sydney uniform: khakis/jeans, Oxford button down, Hampden-Sydney sweatshirt, and a cap. Attempt to change something like that at H-SC, and a revolt would ensue.

Friday, October 16, 2009

A Conservative Interpretation of the History of the United States (for a Friend)

I would like to say that the United States of America, with some minor challenges in some areas, is a little slice of heaven on earth. Our intentions, though sometimes poorly executed within and without the nation, are good, always. We have brought democracy and freedom to more people on the planet than any other nation in recorded history, whether those people wanted it, were really ready for it, or actually maintained it. We are a Christian nation that is alright with having other religions recognized, but those religions have to remember the primacy of Christianity within all we do. The United States has also revolutionized race relations in the world, though it's best that we not really recall the history of that achievement, since it brings up the few less pleasant times in our collective past.

Overall, the best way to understand the United States of America is to look at the best aspects of our past and present, to move beyond the things that have been interpreted by some (Liberals) as negative. To engage some of the few conflicts that have taken place in our past is to capitulate to an overarching negative, dare I say Liberal, perspective of understanding our nation. To do something like that undermines the greater good that the United States continues to strive to provide for the world at large.

In many ways, and for the sake of making sure that the United States always puts its best foot forward, perhaps we should return the presenting American history as it was presented in the golden age of the American experiment, the immediate post-WWII period (before the spectre of social history really got a foothold within broader American historiography). In that golden age, historical interpretations were best understood through political, diplomatic, economic and Great Man perspectives, and American history reflected the greatness of a nation in all of its glory.

By returning to these basic historiographical principles, we will best be able to understand who we are as Americans, and how we can proceed to spread freedom and democracy throughout the world.


Interracial Marriage, a Threat to Children?

I wasn't sure if I should have laughed or cried when I heard about the Louisiana Justice of the Peace (Keith Bardwell) who was so concerned about the well being of the potential children of interracial couples that he refused to marry an actual interracial couple who sought his services.

I also never realized that allowing black folks the opportunity to use one's bathroom was the way to distinguish between a racist and a non-racist. But in Mr. Bardwell's world, all you need is bathroom access.

I suppose he missed that little SCOTUS decision of 1967: Loving v. Virginia. But, it's nice to know that another "family values" supporter is looking out for the children. Which reminds me. I wonder what he thinks of Obama, a promise or a problem with regard to bi-racial children? I wonder.

Lobbying While Muslim

Stupid is as stupid does.

The Council on American Islamic Relations is being accused of planting spies on the Hill to influence policy (you know, like the health insurance lobby). My guess is that these members of Congress leveling the accusations probably also think that there is a secret cabal of Jews who control all of the world's money.

Rep. Keith Ellison immediately came to mind, when I saw this story. He is one of two Muslims in Congress (Andre Carson, D-IN, is the other). I found this article regarding Ellison, and this current episode of madness. He and Carson better watch themselves while driving. Black and Muslim? Dude, they are so going to be profiled.

I wonder if Muslims have a greater understanding now of what black folks in this country can, and continue to, experience. All of the suppositions, innuendo, and presumptions heaped upon a body can wear that body down. Like black folks, Muslims are getting a good lesson in how the actions of a few (real terrorists who practice some form of Islam) translates into the treatment of the many (all of the other people who happen to practice Islam). I wouldn't wish that type of treatment on any group.

As to those members of Congress trying to channel their best McCarthy, I wonder when they will begin proposing segregation policies directed at Muslims (Lord knows their supporters are clearly up for that). I am sure that they could learn something from our internment of Japanese Americans and German Americans to provide some guidance. Perhaps they will breathe more easily when the "Muslim Menace" is successfully quarantined from the rest of society, American citizen or not.

I hope Ellison lets his genuinely mentally challenged colleagues have it.

Dumb asses

UPDATE: I just found this post at Think Progress that asks an interesting question about the authors of a book that the members of Congress used to support their claims against CAIR.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

A Rush of Indifference

For some reason, all of this talk about Rush Limbaugh and his now failed attempt to become a partial owner in the St. Louis Rams never really moved me. I mean I find his brand of "humor" and "satire" completely unappealing, and I do think that it would have been fascinating to see if the black NFL players would have protested. But I thought I would throw it out there to people who stopped by, and wanted to offer comments.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Michael Steele Trying to Keep It Real for the GOP

After hearing all of the hype, mostly in the form of derision, about the revamped website for the Republican National Committee, I thought I would mosey on over and check it out myself. Now, I'd heard about Michael Steele's blog "What Up?" but apparently that title has changed. But it was the page of Republican heroes that really caught my attention.

I believe that every Republican that invokes the black folks who were a part of the party in its past needs to make sure they offer a caveat about the Southern Strategy, as well as the sea change that swept the South, when white Southerners RAN from the Democratic Party, mostly over Civil Rights issues, that they'd controlled for generations (the Democratic Party also needs to remind people of its problematic history as well), Strom Thurmond and Jesse Helms are emblematic of the shift. We've now reached a point in time when young white Southern Republicans might be shocked to find that their grandparents or great-grandparents were Democrats who loathed anything associated with Republicans (once known as the party of the dreaded Negro, Carpetbagger and Scalawag).

With that in mind, I am glad that Steele has been pushing to show the former diversity of the GOP. The harder task is trying to get a broader cross section of the country to accept the new tenets of the current GOP, which are essentially the political perspectives of white Southerners and Christianists who really are quite comfortable with big government (when that government serves their purposes), but deride it when big government serves those they do not feel deserve it. That diversity will not be easy to achieve.

I genuinely wish Michael Steele well. It will be a great thing to see a more diverse Republican Party. The current Democratic Party does not need a monopoly on racial, ethnic and sexual minorities. It's not good for the country to have one party be, essentially, the party of Americans of primarily European descent (various classes represented), and the other party the one for everyone else. It's also important for folks in both parties to understand their histories, and how the demographics of their parties changed (and why). It's all about keeping it real.

Hey! Maybe "Keeping it Real" should be the title of Steele's blog instead.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Obama's Big Gay Speech? Uh, Not So Much

So hate crimes legislation will be signed when it reaches Obama's desk. Great. Yet, this speech is feeling like rhetoric. I am not hearing anything related to dates that things will begin to take place, or specific pieces of legislation that are in the congressional hopper right now. These ideas remain lost in a fog of inaction.

He has mentioned his disdain for "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," and Obama has even said that he is committed to ending it, but, again, I am still waiting to hear something substantive. When will that happen? Why not offer to do a stop-loss order and freeze the processing out of those who are being forced out under this horrible policy? That would have been a great announcement.

He is now on about DOMA, but again who is writing this "Domestic Benefits and Obligations Act" that he mentioned? Which members are going to be responsible for shepherding this legislation?

Obama has fallen on boilerplate statements regarding the GLBT community, and it's disappointing. Simply re-stating your hopes is not sufficient any longer Mr. President. I am also sure that P-Flag appreciates the shout out, and it is a shout out that is well deserved. Yet, the GLBT community needs a genuine fierce advocate, like the woman you profiled.

I just don't think that that fierce advocate is Barack Obama. Hell, his own speech should be enough to make him change his mind about civil marriage equality. But, it hasn't. And so, Obama is leaving the stage having said nothing new. That, to me, is the real shame, a lost opportunity.

Mr. President, might I suggest that you hold off from addressing the GLBT community until the time comes when you really have something revelatory to say or something groundbreaking to report. Otherwise, it's a waste of your time and our time. Mr. President, you cannot afford that, nor can we. Too much is at stake. A fierce advocate would know that.

My New (Actually My Longtime) Hero: Julian Bond

I had the pleasure of meeting Julian Bond when he spoke to a history class at American University where I served as the Teaching Assistant. I escorted him to the class, and in the time that we had together, I mentioned that we had something in common: a single sex college education. Bond ribbed me about not having gone to Morehouse College, and I let him know that I was able to blaze a trail at Hampden-Sydney, since no one in my family had been there (an older cousin of mine is a Morehouse man).

We met again a few years later in Richmond, when Bond served as the 2005 keynote speaker at the Commonwealth Dinner for Equality Virginia. He remembered our men's college connection, and I thanked him for serving as a speaker on the issue of gay rights. In that speech, Bond made a very cogent argument showing the connection between the Civil Rights Movement and the Gay Rights Movement.

It was with great surprise that I saw this op-ed in yesterday's Washington Post. Once again, Bond reiterates his full support of GLBT equality by heartily endorsing the Equality March set for DC tomorrow, and he shows once again the connections between the two rights movements. Bond belongs to a small minority of black leaders, past and present, who speak forcefully and publicly in favor of gay rights, and for this I say thanks, once again.

Read Bond's op-ed, or watch the following video of Bond speaking to the Los Angeles chapter of the Human Rights Campaign, the nation's largest gay rights lobby. It's a compelling presentation, and one that I think more than quells those weak attempts by too many to deny a relationship between the rights movements. And, I especially want black folks to listen to what Bond has to say here, and I dare them to challenge his understanding of Civil Rights history:

Friday, October 9, 2009

Obama Wins Nobel Prize, and the Right Will Personify Apoplexy

Actually, I'm not sure apoplexy is strong enough to describe the coming reaction from many on the right regarding the POTUS being awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.

Though I offer my hearty congratulations to Obama, I have to admit that this seems rather premature. It was definitely politically motivated. As the New York Times reported, Obama was selected because "[h]e has created a new international climate." And it was also noted that the Nobel committee wanted "to enhance Mr. Obama's diplomatic efforts so far rather than anticipate events in the future."

Seems to me that this is a direct slap at the foreign policy legacy of the Bush years, which for the most part deserves that slap. But, to give Obama the Nobel Peace Prize, simply for climate change (meaning the change in the realm of American diplomacy), just feels like a reach. Further, this is change for which we have seen no real results come to pass. Of course this is not Obama's fault; the man has been in office for less than a year. There is little that anyone in his position can do outright in that amount of time.

However, I am sure of at least this: some on the right will have even more horrific things to say about Obama than they had before. This move by the Nobel committee was akin to adding gasoline to a raging (and completely irrational) bonfire. Yet, there is a small part of me that is smiling this morning, because I know that they will be soooooooooooo pissed by this.

Again, I totally congratulate Obama. Well done on being selected. But, I would not be surprised if Obama is as surprised by this announcement as most of us are.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Thanks for the Half-Smoke (with Ben's Chili, Cheese and Onions) and the History

Though I never had the pleasure of meeting him, I would like to say thank you to Ben Ali, the founder of Ben's Chili Bowl, in the U Street Corridor of Washington. Mr. Ali passed away yesterday, and the legacy that he has left is one to be reckoned with. A simple restaurant established in 1958 in the old Minnehaha Theater became an institution and a symbol of perseverance, and it just so happened to serve really good food (I already said what I liked).

Stories are already being filed about Mr. Ali and his legacy (here, here, and here are just a few); there will be more to come, and he deserves every single accolade. Mr. Ali embodied the spirit and resiliance of Washington, the city, and we were lucky that he chose to make this city his home.

I extend my condolences to the Ali family, and may Mr. Ali rest in peace.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Civil Marriage Equality Coming to Washington, DC

I've lived in Washington, DC for more than half of my life, and as proud as I am to be a resident of Washington, I am more proud today. At-Large Council member David Catania introduced legislation today that will bring civil marriage equality to the city. And, it looks like there will not be a strong effort mounted on the Hill during the 30 day review period to stop the legislation.

Here is the video of Catania introducing the legislation:

The only complaint I have is that none of the black Council members, unless I am mistaken, offered to say anything regarding the legislation's introduction. Obviously, Council members Jim Graham and Jack Evans would have something to say, considering the fact that their wards have large and visible GLBT constituencies. But, there are large swaths of black GLBT residents in Washington throughout all of the wards of the city. Would it have hurt any of them politically to say something publicly in favor of Catania's bill?

Yet, I recognize that the more important matter is that the majority of the City Council is poised to pass Catania's bill, and Mayor Fenty is prepared to sign it as soon as it hits his desk.

Ultimately, it will be nice to know that if I am lucky enough to find a man I would want to spend the rest of my life with (and he with me), I will be able to get married in the city I call home. Incredible.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Random Rantings on a Sleepless Night

When one is up at some un-Godly hour, one cannot help but think of odd things. I felt the need for some Dave Matthews. I'd not seen the video for "You and Me," so it seemed like as good a time as any.

By the end of the video, I was reminded of why I really enjoy the Dave Matthews Band. The image of all of those different people coming together on one song made me think of my ideal world: a wide variety of diverse people living with one another in harmony. I couldn't help but smile. Oh, and the song is really good too!

Monday, October 5, 2009

On the Perils of the Closet

When it comes to dating, I am like most other folks. I look for attractiveness, intelligence, a sense of humor, an open mind, all of the usual. But I also make it clear that I am looking for someone who is out, at the very least to his immediate family and friends. I think that it is a perfectly reasonable request.

Interestingly, I have found some push back to that, particularly with other black gay men. I was told recently that my desire for wanting to date guys who are out was "limiting." He is right, and I'm cool with that. On a date a while ago, when I talked about some gay issue I'd discussed at my old job, old boy was shocked that I would discuss "my business," a phrase I loathe, at work. I challenged him on his notion that talking about gay issues in the work place constituted "my business." By the end of the date, I was told that I was "too out" for him. I simply saw myself as living my life.

I admit that I have near zero tolerance for the realm of the "DL (down low)." I try to confine my exposure to that world to the pages of an E. Lynn Harris novel. I also differentiate between the DL person and someone who is closeted and trying to find his way out. The latter person, it seems, is on a trajectory to becoming an out gay person. The former seems to be quite comfortable where he is.

I raise this issue in light of two stories I've seen in the news. I saw the first story at Rod 2.0, which is about a former evangelical minister who is on trial for murdering the girlfriend of his housemate (a man he hit on continually apparently). The second is an AP story I found on Google News. It's about a former judge who has been accused of having sex with prison inmates in exchange for grants of leniency.

Do I know truly if either of these men are really gay? Nope. But the evidence certainly points boldly in that direction. I did wonder how different their lives would have been if they'd felt comfortable enough with themselves and/or their families to come out as gay men. I doubt we'll ever know, and I am confident that these men will go to their graves denying any homosexual feelings, tendencies or the like.

When I think of the closet, I think of struggle. In a better world, I would have come out in my teens, instead of my mid-20s. I held back out of fear. For example, I avoided playing football, and I would have been quite good, until graduate school (intramural football), because of fear. I pretended to be interested in women out of fear. I tried to exist in the midst of a lie that I knew wasn't working. Those were years of pain, sublimation and obfuscation, so why would I want to date someone who actively tries to remain in that space? Why would someone revel in that world, as those on the DL seem to pretend to do?

I wish that these two men had been able to be open about who they were and what they liked. Instead, the world gets to see, once again, the pathologies that the closet can create. And with regard to my fellow black men (others as well), I hope that we will see a rapid declension in the population of the DL world. But that will require courage, fortitude, honesty and strength on the part of those who live in that world. Will we see those numbers fall, or will we continue to see lives lived in fear, and/or stories like the aforementioned?

A Suggestion for Controlling the "Gordon Gekko-ization" of the American Economy

Having just finished reading Ross Douthat's op-ed in the Times, I was struck by something. Where is the accountability in the creation of the widest income gap since the end of the Gilded Age, since it was the policies (primarily, though not entirely) of the political party he seems to support that really accelerated that income gap? Where was this concern during throughout the last eight years? What were the sound economic principles from conservatives on the issue of income inequality?

Now, I am no economic historian, but if I recall correctly, from the administrations beginning with Reagan and ending with the second Bush, our political leaders dismantled the protections that had been put in place following the Great Depression (which managed to help move the country into unbridled prosperity for decades). I have wondered why there has not been a push from Congress to retrofit those measures for 21st century realities and put them back into place. The only answer I could find is that it would reduce the overall profits of the top 1% of income earners, which of course is out of the question.

Until we can control the "Gordon Gekko-ization" of American capitalism, which has brought this nation to its current economic state, we will continue to suffer this type of income inequality. In that sense, the Democratic party needs to have a "come to Jesus" moment about what its policies should reflect. Why not update what the FDR administration put in place and make that the law of the land? Why not think more "Main Street," than Wall Street (removing the burden of small businesses having to pay the health insurance of their employees might free up some capital)? With these ideas, as well as developing a green manufacturing based economy, I think that the Democratic party will have a much better time tackling income inequality. Otherwise, the party may as well act like Republicans and continue to drive the majority of Americans into an economic abyss (like their conservative policies almost did).

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Celebrating U.S. National Parks II: What I Learned

I learned so much about the National Parks this week; it was one revelation after another. That is always the best way to hold my attention.

For example, I'd no idea that Buffalo soldiers were among the first to provide security to Yosemite National Park, under the leadership of Captain Charles Young.

I also did not know fully the inspiring story of John Muir, a man whose passion for the natural world inspired a host of people to follow his lead and seek to preserve the best this land had to offer for all of us.

Who knew that there was a Japanese immigrant, George Masa (along with Horace Kephart), at the heart of the story of the creation of the Great Smokey Mountains National Park?

I loved the story of George and Emma Cowan using their vacations, for over thirty years, to visit all of the existing national parks in their lifetime. I was also moved by the tragic story of Glen and Bessie Hyde (she was the first woman to attempt to sail down the Colorado through the Grand Canyon).

These are just a few of the many stories tied to the national parks. And I've been struck by the diversity that existed in plain sight in the American past, a diversity that is either ignored or maligned by too many. Like the diversity of the lands that make the various national parks so wonderful, so too a diversity of people made it so that the parks could be enjoyed by all.

This documentary refreshed my sense of joy in studying American history, and it reminded me that I still have an important role to play in helping to preserve the diverse historic places that made this country great.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

My New Hero: Rep. Alan Grayson

One of the reasons it took me almost two decades to join formally the Democratic party, after my short time as a Republican, was because of the utter spinelessness that I saw in the party. The GOP has been like that annoying Chihuahua that barks at any and everything, and the Democrats generally have cowered, as if that bark were coming from a Pit Bull. It took the charismatic Obama to come along for me to formally associate with the Democrats last year. To keep me in the party, I need to see more people like Rep. Alan Grayson.

In my previous post, I noted that I'd only heard of the man after reading a blog post by Matt Taibbi over at True/Slant. Taibbi embedded a vid of Grayson questioning the General Counsel of the Federal Reserve. Here it is:

Once I stopped laughing (while also cheering), I figured that I was done seeing Grayson for a while. But then came Tuesday evening, and Grayson's spot on satirical assessment of the GOP plan for health insurance reform:

I have not laughed that hard since the premiere of the new "Family Guy." It felt good to see a Democrat, and a freshman House member no less, fight back. He put the GOP's obstructing and obfuscating tactics out in the street, which someone needed to have done a minute ago. It was even better to watch him on CNN's "The Situation Room," where the world was subjected to watching Wolf Blitzer and crew (with the exception of James Carville) try to berate Grayson for essentially not being nice. Where were these people when GOP House members were accusing Democrats en masse of attempting to kill people through health insurance reform legislation? I was watching a media fueled double standard unfold (yet again) right before my eyes:

And, I just stumbled upon the small little gem that Grayson, in response to the congressional rescinding any and all funding to ACORN, has decided to use the broad language of the legislation as written to go after any fraudulent organization that uses taxpayer dollars. I would love to see Grayson go after as many defense contractors the way he went after the Federal Reserve's General Counsel, starting with Blackwater (or whatever it's called now) and moving seamlessly to Halliburton and its subsidiaries.

So for all of the reasons that I have highlighted here, Rep. Alan Grayson is my new hero. Many of the more "high profile" Democrats need Grayson to provide them with a refresher course in good old fashioned indignation and disgust. And every single member of the GOP on the Hill, I hope, has been forewarned that this particular Democrat might be a potential force to be reckoned with. I hope Grayson keeps doing his thing.