Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Are You White and in Need of a Job? Check Out Opportunities in China

For all those white folks who cry foul regarding affirmative action, or for those white folks who feel that President Obama is favoring black people in this country, China has a job for you, and all you have to do is be white.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Adolescent Music Flashback: INXS

I still remember the opening chords to "The One Thing" on MTV, and when I looked up to the television, there was Michael Hutchence slinking on the screen. That was my introduction to INXS, and by the close of that video, with the table of aphrodisiacs and suggestive food play, I was a fan. At the time, I'd no idea that they were from Australia, and it just so happened that I'd stumbled upon my first Australian Rules Football match (Go Bombers!!) around the same time. So, the combination of INXS and the AFL really peaked my interest in things Australian.

Meanwhile, INXS just kept pumping out one great song after another. "Don't Change" is a total early classic. My friends and I felt so "cutting edge" and trendy for professing our awareness and appreciation of INXS. I also had a crush three members of the band, something I didn't share with my friends at the time.

I must say that my two favorite albums from INXS are "The Swing" and "Listen Like Thieves." I can listen to those albums on repeat, and on each listen the goodness just pours right back into my ears. The following is a listing (with YouTube links) to some of my favorite songs from those two albums:

"Johnson's Aeroplane"
"The Swing"
"Dancing on the Jetty"

"What You Need"
"Kiss the Dirt"
"Listen Like Thieves"

The last INXS album from my adolescence was "Kick," and those at my undergrad who dogged INXS shut up following "Need You Tonight" and "Mediate." By the time "New Sensation," Devil Inside" and "Never Tear Us Apart" were released, INXS was blaring all over campus.

It still pains me that Michael Hutchence is no longer with us. I think he had one of the great voices of our generation. Here are some vids from "Kick" as a reminder.

Gays Not Protected Under the U.S. Constitution at All According to Virginia AG Cuccinelli

First, I am a proud Virginia Boys State alumnus ('85 at Lynchburg College), so I was beyond angry when I heard that the Virginia AG had the audacity to say to Virginia's most promising high school boys that the GLBT community was outside of the purview of the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. I guess Cuccinelli missed those little SCOTUS cases of Romer v. Evans and Lawrence v. Texas. Bluntly put, those cases have helped to protect people like me from people like Cuccinelli.

Cuccinelli's comments are just another reminder to me that if the religious right had genuine power in this nation, then the GLBT community would likely be persecuted openly, told that it has no rights that should be respected, and would possibly face imprisonment for simply being G, L, B or T. Ultimately, I just hope that these are merely examples of the last gasps of the bigoted as the society changes for the better and drowns them out.

In the mean time, I can only imagine how the gay and bisexual guys in that audience felt upon hearing Cuccinelli's words. I hope that they realize that there is no turning back on the gay rights movement. And maybe, just maybe, Cuccinelli helped to inspire one or even some of those boys to join in the fight for gay rights.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Booeymonger Love

I don't know why, but Booeymonger crossed my mind today. From 1997 through 2001, I was at the Wisconsin Avenue "Booeys" I don't know how many times per week. It helped that I had friends who lived in a group house two blocks east down Jenifer Street; they were the ones who introduced me to the restaurant. I was particularly in love with the "Ace," "Chalet," "The Manhattan" sandwiches (and try the tortellini or fruit salads, and definitely snag cookie for dessert). But I especially loved eating breakfast out on the enclosed patio overlooking Wisconsin on Sunday mornings. There was nothing better than getting lost in the New York Times or the Washington Post while I was out on that patio. Once I moved from American University Park to Southwest DC, I didn't go as often, and by the time I moved to Logan Circle, I stopped going altogether. I had too many choices just beyond my door. But I think it's time to do another Sunday morning run to "Booeys" in the near future.

If you've never been, then there are four locations in the DC area, three of which are easily accessible via Metro. The original location is in Georgetown over on Prospect. Until I started writing this post, I didn't realize that Booeymonger is celebrating it's 35th anniversary. Congratulations! I hope this post gets new folks to check it out and old "Booey's" fans to stop by again.

Regarding the Now Infamous Article on Gen. McChrystal

Before commenting on the article of the moment from Rolling Stone, I wanted to read it in full. Now that I've done so, I have to say that it was an incredibly interesting read. Obviously, the runaway hits for our media were the unabashed comments of Gen. Stanley McChystal and his staff, but I felt that it was good to read honest assessments of the failings of the Afghan War from a number of sources, including our troops there. By the closing paragraph, I felt that my inclinations were confirmed: We need to get out of Afghanistan, period.

Whatever we could have done for the better in Afghanistan was lost when the Bush administration abandoned the capture of bin Laden for the wholly unnecessary war in Iraq. I think that what good we could have done is now lost, especially considering that we are apparently are no longer really fighting al qaeda in Afghanistan. At this point we seem only to be harming our troops who have been fighting almost aimlessly and non-stop for nearly a decade. The aforementioned Michael Hastings article, as well as an op-ed from Boston University history professor Andrew Bacevich, confirms as much. And from what I can tell, counter insurgency is nothing more than another word for perpetual war.

On a different note, and going back to the Hastings article, I could not believe the level of shade thrown at Rolling Stone by the folks in the mainstream media. You would think that Rolling Stone was some piece of shit publication to hear the criticisms. I was glad to see Frank Rich go to its defense in his op-ed today, because I think that Rolling Stone has produced several hard hitting and thorough political articles; I am especially a fan of the work of Matt Taibbi (check out all that he has written about Wall Street, particularly Goldman Sachs, to see what I am talking about).

I think that the President has made a poor decision in not looking to revise his Afghan War strategy in light of the recent events. Perhaps he and his staff need to read Hastings article without blinders this time around. McChrystal's comments against the administration people were not the most important aspects of that article, and I think that an important moment is about to be lost. This war, these wars really, must come to an end. The GOP and its supporters will tear the President down regardless of his decision, so why not end the war in Afghanistan. Bring our troops home to a hero's welcome, and focus on stopping terrorist networks as Vice President suggested ages ago. It does no one any good to exacerbate the blunders of a past administration no matter how honorable the intentions; we can no longer afford them, and our troops need no longer bear them.

Friday, June 25, 2010

On Beauty and Hopefully Beating Ghana at World Cup Tomorrow

Benny Feilhaber from the U.S. World Cup team:

I rarely do posts like this, but I couldn't help it (h/t Towleroad). And if you looked at this clip, well....

Good luck to the U.S. team tomorrow!!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Sometimes, You Have to Speak Your Truth, and I Hope Everyone Heard Rep. Barton's

Please watch Rep. Joe Barton (R-TX) apologize to BP's Tony Hayward this morning:

Barton, it seems to me, made it clear that he does not give two shits for the people who have been directly affected by this disaster who isn't an executive or a shareholder of BP. To those people, he offered his most sincere apology. Meanwhile, he gave a big old "fuck you" to the "small people." Even the Chairman of BP was willing to express awkward concern for that lot, and to the tune of $20 billion.

I also hope that every single member of the House who has a district in the strike zone of this oil, and their constituents, understands exactly where Barton stands (I applaud Rep. Jeff Miller for taking a stand on Barton and his comment. Miller's district includes Pensacola, FL. And don't think that Barton is alone in his sentiment. What I am sure the people of the Gulf coast see as the beginning of some restitution to their forever altered lives, people like Barton and the Republican Study Committee see a "shakedown" or "Chicago-style" politics (Rep. Miller might want to issue a statement against the RSC as well). That "shakedown" will help a fisherman pay his/her mortgage. That "shakedown" will help to allow thousands of people to avoid the fate of the millions of Americans who remain out of work.

I think that the political default setting for most Republicans is to agree with what Barton said in his apology (of course that changes if it's an issue directly affecting their districts), though I doubt that many would be so bold as to do it that publicly. Please note that many of the comments coming from the GOP (not including Miller's) have been either in support of Barton, or attempts to parse Barton's position. Sadly, this little window showing the depth of the GOP's relationship with oil companies will likely do nothing to stem the undeserved support they receive from the very types of people who need the type of assistance that Obama has just secured (and before anyone starts, the Democrats have their own distinct relationship problems as well, but that is not what I am talking about right now).

I am sick and tired of this religion, if you will, of the marketplace. Whether we are talking oil companies, auto companies or banks, they are concerned first and foremost with the bottom line. If "small people" are helped, so be it. But that is not their concern. Too many people worship at the feet of the corporation (like Rep. Barton). We always hear about the "excesses" of government, mostly aimed at programs that help poor people (though too many tend to ignore the real excesses, like warrant-less wiretapping or the practice of torture in our name) from some, but that same lot rarely talks of the excesses of the corporation. No, they apologize for governmental excess. Good job Rep. Barton.

UPDATE: Barton has issued a retraction. I would have hoped that he would have stuck to his guns on this one.

Only Just Learning About the Event Behind U2's "Sunday Bloody Sunday"; Shame on Me

I just finished reading Chris Weigant's blog post on Northern Ireland's "Bloody Sunday." What an incredible turning point in an historical event! I realized that the U2 song was political in nature, but in the classic way that we Americans can ignore foreign issues not directly related to us, I didn't bother to research what Bono was singing about. This is a part of the reason I really enjoyed Weigant's post; he goes into Bono's concerns about how "Sunday Bloody Sunday" would be interpreted.

I also agree with Weigant's point that something like the investigation headed by Lord Saville, as well as the apology rendered by Prime Minister David Cameron, would be near impossible to imagine in the United States for almost anything. I can only imagine the uproar that would ensue, if Obama offered a similar level of criticism to the actions of the U.S. military, even for a past actual atrocity. We just have a large swath of the American populace that simply doesn't brook criticism about the country (unless it's directed to someone or something that they deem "un-American," then all bets are off (tea party anyone?)).

I am glad that Britain took this step years ago to find out the truth regarding "Bloody Sunday," and though the report does nothing to bring back those who lost their lives in '72, it does exonerate them of any wrong doing, and restores honor to those men.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Looks Like We Will Be in Afghanistan Forever Now II

I agree with Jon Stewart 1000%. With the discovery of those mineral deposits, Afghans are f*$ked until all of those minerals can be depleted by multi-national corporations. Oh, and did I mention that the U.S. will be in Afghanistan FOREVER?

Monday, June 14, 2010

Looks Like We Will Be in Afghanistan Forever Now

If you thought we would be leaving Afghanistan anytime this century, then I suggest letting that thought go. Apparently, there was a discovery of minerals in Afghanistan that sounds akin to the discovery of oil in Saudi Arabia. Meanwhile, over at Huffington Post, Paul Jay (Real News) points out that we have known about the potential for massive amounts of minerals in Afghanistan since '07.

Though President Bush did not go into Afghanistan with this information in mind, I wonder if President Obama will keep us in Afghanistan to protect and ultimately exploit resources that our corporations (the real power of our nation) could use. If it goes as I suppose it will, then the United States will be tethered to yet another Asian country that doesn't exactly welcome us with open arms.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Arizona Continues Building a Bridge Too Far

I just finished reading an article over at Time, and I found it particularly disturbing. Now that Arizona has passed its draconian immigration law, a law that cannot be enforced without some form of racial profiling (ask yourself who looks like an illegal immigrant, and you will understand the profiling part, and I bet Heidi Klum look-a-likes don't come to the front of your brain), some in the GOP are ready to go for the U.S. Constitution itself. The same person who brought us the immigration bill is now gunning for the children of illegal immigrants who were born here and are U.S. citizens.

The 14th Amendment defines citizenship quite clearly, and though it may piss people off, those children are citizens, period. What I find interesting, is that no one seems to be willing to do the hard work of pushing for a new amendment modifying the qualifications for citizenship. It is also strange that the likely supporters of this type of legislation are the same people who've spent the entire Obama administration screaming for a strict adherence to the Constitution. Funny how that works.

There is no question that we have to deal with illegal immigration, but no one in Congress, regardless of party, wants to touch the subject. That is a major problem. We also have an issue with enforcement, particularly those laws that forbid the hiring of illegal immigrants. We do have a porous border, north and south. But with all of that said, I am sick and tired of these "brown menace" scenarios, and freaked out people jumping about like the chickens of "Chicken Run" in panic mode.

It's almost always low to pick on defenseless children. It's even worse to suggest that we strip away citizenship based on the condition of the citizen's parents.

Regarding My Thoughts on the BP Oil Spill, Fareed Zakaria Expressed My Sentiments Almost Perfectly

Words like tiresome, misguided, silly and such have come to mind as I've watched or read the reactions to Obama's actions (and inaction) during this crisis. But Fareed Zakaria essentially nailed it, in terms of my thoughts on the media's coverage.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Introducing Alvin Greene of South Carolina?

I still haven't figured out what to say about Alvin Greene, the Democratic nominee set to run against Jim DeMint for the U.S. Senate, or that interview he gave on Countdown last night. I only have a question. If you are unemployed, why are you putting up $10,400 to run for the Senate, and not using that money to pay rent?

Thursday, June 10, 2010

John Boehner Said What About Our Helping Cover BP's Costs?

Right now, I don't think that this is the time to talk about the American taxpayer helping to cover the costs of the BP spill. Remember, this is still BP's fault John Boehner. And I suppose our helping Wall Street and GM was "bad" for America, but helping an oil company, one of the richest companies on the planet, will be "good" for America. I wonder if the tea people agree?

Monday, June 7, 2010

Perhaps Now is the Time for a Graceful Exit for Helen Thomas (and Take Pat Buchanan With You, PLEASE)

I don't think that there is any doubt that journalist Helen Thomas made a terrible statement that was essentially ahistorical in content. I certainly support a two state solution in Israel, and I also think that the current leadership in the country Cheney-like in its obstinate to any suggestion that moves a peace process forward. But to say that Jews should go back to Germany, Poland and the U.S. ignores the history of the Jews in Palestine and the deadly history of Jews in Europe. Now might be time for Thomas to retire gracefully. She has had an incredible career, and has really raised the bar for women in journalism. Those are things to be proud of.

I added that Pat Buchanan should join Thomas in retiring. And I can't think of much Buchanan has said or done worth acknowledging.

UPDATE: Helen Thomas has decided to retire, according to the Washington Post.

My Summer Reading Assignment: A New Life of E. M. Forster

Every summer I try to make sure to read some new history or biography, if only to keep my mind agile. I plan to read the new biography of E.M. Forster, which got a solid review from the New York Times. The biography benefits from the release of new papers from Forster's estate, and provides us fans with a more nuanced understanding of Forster, and what motivated him to write novels, and consequently, what caused him to stop. At the close of the linked London Times article on Forster, there is a wonderful journal entry from Forster that spoke to me (though I am far from 85): "Now I am 85 how annoyed I am with society for wasting my time by making homosexuality criminal. The subterfuges and the self-consciousnesses that might have been avoided."

I think he spoke for all of us who struggled with acknowledging our sexuality, and I am glad that we have moved to a place where kids are coming out as early as middle school and demanding to be respected. I think Forster would have looked upon those young gays with awe. And I am looking forward to learning more about one of my all time favorite authors.

"Only connect!"

Sunday, June 6, 2010

South Carolina on My Mind II

I am glad that I went to graduate school in South Carolina, met and became friends with conservative Republicans while I was there, and those are the only reasons that I cannot write off that state as a whole. But the GOP politicians of South Carolina continue to make a good case for wishing that these disturbed folks could stop ruining the reputation of a rather beautiful place.

From "you lie" Joe Wilson, to "it will be his Waterloo" Jim DeMint, to "don't feed the strays" Andre Bauer, to "rag heads" Jake Knotts, I wonder if that lot has truly lost its collective mind.

But again, I recognize that there remain good people there (or from there), whom I can identify, and with whom I still speak, who see the world in ways that are vastly different than I do. And I want to believe that they would renounce the things that Bauer and Knotts said, and would be better raised than to say publicly what Wilson and DeMint said (even though they likely supported it).

I doubt that I could live there at this point. I would likely spend most of my time in a state of constant anger based on the overwhelmingly conservative politics of the state (even from some of the Dems), and I don't know if enough trips to Folly Beach, or Table Rock, or Drayton Hall would help make it better. I do, however, think that it is a shame that these people are becoming seared into the national conscience as representative of South Carolina, because I think they are doing the state a grave disservice. Yet, I know that there are hundreds of thousands of South Carolinians who are cheering on even the words of say Bauer and Knotts.

Yet for every Andre Bauer or Jake Knotts, there are likely five Ty'Sheoma Betheas out there who remind me not to write off South Carolina, and I won't.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Why Not Create a Temporary Government Jobs Program to Help the Folks in the Gulf (and Make BP Pay For It)?

There are many times when Chris Matthews just works my nerves, but when he is on, man he is on. Last night was an example of that. I think that he was right to share a really great idea, one that BP should pay for.

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Matthews invoked the New Deal era CCC program, but he stopped at volunteerism. Why not really make it into a CCC-like program and pay folks to go the Gulf Coast and help out? If you look at what Rachel Maddow was talking about last night, then it becomes clear that we could create an overall short term jobs program related to helping the people of the Gulf coast, from Louisiana to Florida.

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If, as Maddow says, manpower is a problem for preventing the oil from coming ashore, then isn't it possible that Obama could propose an actual temporary jobs bill, and make sure that the tab goes to BP. The workers could do the various and sundry things needed to help the people in the areas under direct threat, from laying out boom to cleaning animals to whatever. It can be a temporary program. It can cost the American taxpayer nothing, and it's a great way to make a wayward company pay for the tons of perks that it received over the years.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Adolescent Music Flashback: U2

I think that "Gloria" was one of the first videos I saw on the fledgling MTV back in the day, and I'd heard nothing like it. The guitar riffs from The Edge and the voce of Bono Vox were all new to me (I must have been around 13), and I really liked what I heard. I also developed an immediate crush on Bono. And somehow it made sense to me that U2 was not from the U.S.

Once I found out the name of the group, I was determined to watch MTV to see if they would do any other videos, and they did not disappoint. "Two Hearts Beat as One" and "New Year's Day" sealed the deal for me (and it was also when I noticed Larry Mullen, Jr.), and I was a fan of U2. Both of those songs are classics, total classics, and "War" was the first U2 album (yes, album) that I bought.

I don't think I'd considered the idea that U2 had a political perspective of any sort until I actually listened to the songs "Sunday, Bloody Sunday," and eventually "Pride (In the Name of Love)." The latter still gives me chills when I listen to it, just incredible.

By the time "The Joshua Tree" came out, I was a freshman in college, and I totally remember a good friend of mine from one of the nearby women's colleges calling to tell me that she'd heard "With or Without You," and to prepare for the goodness. She was so money with that assessment. I loved every track on "The Joshua Tree," particularly "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For," and "Bullet the Blue Sky."

U2 is still doing it after all of these years, and sometimes it is hard to believe that it's the same group that I happened to see at random all those years ago. They have definitely done Ireland proud, and they gave a black teen from Virginia some great music to remember.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

What About the Lives of those in the Gulf Coast Mr. Hayward?

Sadly, I am not surprised that the CEO of BP is whining about wanting his "life back." I just wish that he'd said that in a room full of Louisiana fishermen who are on the brink of losing their livelihood for at least a generation, if the spill projections are correct. Those folks, unlike Tony Hayward, will not get their lives back once the hole is plugged and the clean up begins. As with almost any corporate CEO, Hayward will likely be more concerned with the chlorine levels in his pool than with the lives and livelihoods that his corporation destroyed throughout the Gulf coast region. I am sure that Rand Paul sympathizes primarily with Hayward, after all, "accidents happen."