Wednesday, September 29, 2010

If Only Someone Could Have Reached Tyler Clementi Before....

This news about the Rutgers freshman who committed suicide after his roommate videotaped and posted his sexual encounter with a guy is just heartbreaking.  I've had a hard time trying to contain my emotions on this in order to do this post.  There are so many questions that will remain unanswered.  What drove Tyler Clementi to suicide over this?  Did he think his family and friends wouldn't accept him?  Had he really even accepted himself?  Why would Clementi's roommate do something so invasive and foolish?  Who could Clementi have talked to that could have prevented this?

Every GLBT person has been in that vulnerable position of not being sure if he/she will be accepted by family and friends, and some simply cannot handle the idea of having their truth known.  I remember being completely scared all through college that my "secret" would be discovered, but I made it through, like millions of others.  I just wish that someone that Clementi respected and loved could have been there to help him through this, to tell him that he should give things a chance to get better.

Things an Alumnus Needn't Do: Stalk a Current Student at Your Alma Mater

I love my alma maters, and I certainly follow their progress (though I am more partial to my undergrad than my grad school, but that is to be expected).  However, I can tell you that I have no clues or concerns about their student body presidents, and I certainly wouldn't mount a one man campaign against one, even if I disagreed with him/her.  So this mess out of Michigan is just plain creepy:

Monday, September 27, 2010

Crazy is as Crazy Does

I am not sure of the veracity of this report (it is the New York Post after all), but I am sure that if it is true, a fair few on the right will be having a field day with all sorts of false linkages and conspiracy theories.  I couldn't even bring myself to read the comments section.  And I am sure the government law enforcement types are going to keep a closer needed eye on the Nation of Islam and the New Black Panther Party (well, one group's file is quite long I'm sure, while the other is both too new, too small, and too inconsequential, beyond Fox News, to have generated a big file yet).  Actually, it seems like a sick version of "The Bachelor" for crazy anti-Semites.

On Fearing Your Base (GOP) and Hating Your Base (Dems)

I can't remember who said it, or where I saw it, but I think the following is an interesting point:  Republicans fear their base, and Democrats hate their base.  I think that it is true on the whole.  The McCain re-election campaign is an excellent example.  That man abandoned almost everything that made him interesting in 2000 and mildly palatable in 2008, and all because of a primary challenge to the right.  McCain knew he had to abandon stated positions that might have angered AZ primary voters (fear).  Columnist Michael Smerconish wrote an article at Salon talking about the purging of the so called Republicans in Name Only, and the national party is going right along with that effort (fear). 

Meanwhile, the Democratic party, from President Obama on down have been making it a point to bash the Democratic base (here is the latest).  It's incredible to witness.  I cannot imagine a GOP candidate ever telling member of its base to "stop whining."  I would hazard a guess that if the Democrats really suffer a major blow in November, then it will be because they worked so hard to try to show voters likely never to vote for them that they can stand up to their "crazy" and "radical" base.  And I am sure that without a hint of irony, the Democrats, should big losses come their way, will blame their base, and not themselves.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Not Impressed with Glenn Nye

Since I split my time between Washington, DC and Hampton Roads, VA, I have been following the big political races of both areas.  Earlier, I wrote about an aspect of DC Mayor Adrian Fenty's loss to City Council Chair Vince Gray.  Now I want to focus attention on the House member who represents the area where I stay in Virginia, Glenn Nye.

I think that Glenn Nye is going to lose in the 2nd Congressional district. When I see his ads, I see a man who is trying desperately to appeal to people who did not vote for him.  It is true that the 2nd is a GOP leaning district.  But his term seems to have been catered to people who are not in his base, or even among the people who actually supported him in the last election.  His vote against health insurance reform is particularly damning, because whatever it was he told himself to justify his "no" vote, it will not suffice for the people in his district who had an expectation that he would support the President on health insurance reform.  As a result of this vote, and some others, Nye now has an unenthusiastic base.  Nye seems to have abandoned the people who put him in office, and now they are wondering what to do in November.

Meanwhile, down in Florida, Rep. Alan Grayson is poised to hold his seat, in another GOP leaning district.  Grayson has been an unapologetic Democrat.  He has shown himself to be for the Democratic base time and time again, and as a result, his constituents are eager to send him back to Washington.  Grayson shows that he has principles, that he listens to the people who actually supported him, and is fearless in the face of Republican chicanery.  Nye?  Not so much.  Nye looks like he is running scared.

What I've come to admire (begrudgingly) in GOP politicians is their willingness to say "fuck you" to those who don't agree with them, because they know that their supporters are looking for that strength (even though I think most of their principles are sketchy at best and dangerous at worst).  Rep. Grayson represents a similar bent on the Democratic side, and he is being rewarded for his authenticity.

There is nothing Glenn Nye can do to change his votes in the House, but I am more than confident that he, like many of his fellow "Blue Dog" Democrats, will not survive the onslaught of the likely mid-term election voter for this year (those who see Obama-Pelosi-Reid as a trifecta of evil, and long for President McCain).  Perhaps he will learn a lesson, if his loss comes to pass:  stick with the people who actually pulled the lever for you, not the people would never support you (remember that "D" is tied to your name).

UPDATE 09/29/10:  I wanted to make sure I posted this before anyone tried to suggest I was hiding facts.  The latest poll has Rep. Grayson now trailing his GOP challenger among likely voters.  Even with that said, my point about an energized base still holds.

Adolescent Music Flashback: Sting

I still remember the first time I saw Sting.  I was watching MTV, and the "Every Little Thing She Does is Magic" video came on.  Sting's is the first face I saw, and I was gobsmacked.  From that moment, I had a massive crush, and I knew I had to learn more about him.  I didn't realize I would crush on his music as well.  Naturally, The Police became (and remains) one of my all-time favorite bands, but it was Sting's solo effort after The Police that really caught my attention.

"The Dream of the Blue Turtles" is nothing short of stunning, and I cannot say that enough.  I know that there were many fans of The Police who did not seem terribly pleased with this artistic departure, but I was not one of them.  Everything about that album seemed to reflect changes that were going on in my own life.  It was released the summer between my Junior and Senior years of high school.  So I felt that just as Sting was going through a transition in his life, so was I.  I also had the pleasure of seeing Sting on "The Dream of the Blue Turtles'" tour at the College of William & Mary with my good friend Tod, and I remember both of us leaving William & Mary Hall bigger Sting fans than we had been walking in.  I was also determined to learn more about Branford Marsalis and Kenny Kirkland, who played with Sting for, I believe, the first two solo albums.

To this day, I still enjoy watching the video for "If You Love Somebody Set Them Free," because the dance styles of the two background singers remind me of my mother and one of my aunts (and the song is awesome).  The smooth sista in the black pants moves eerily like my mother, and the gregarious sista is my aunt all over.  And, the concert video/documentary "Bring on the Night" is a total family favorite (it's cool watching my gran rock out to Sting).  I also had the song "Consider Me Gone" playing on repeat, as my time for heading off to undergrad grew closer.

By the time Sting's second solo album "...Nothing Like the Sun" came out, I was in college, and my adolescence was near over, so the videos below really represent that narrow window of time between '85 and '87.  And I still harbor a little crush on Sting, who grew into an incredible man and humanitarian.  Please enjoy.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Is This a Bridge Too Far?

I have not delved too deeply into discussions of civil liberties on this blog, but I did not want to ignore this particular issue.  I've been following Glenn Greenwald's ( reporting on an American, Anwar al-Awlaki, who apparently has deep ties with al Qaeda, and is now somewhere in Yemen.  Through a number of posts, Greenwald has expressed outrage toward the Obama administration for essentially putting a hit on al-Awlaki, without due process.  The ACLU and the Center for Constitutional Rights has filed a lawsuit on behalf of al-Awlaki's father, in order to challenge the government in issuing this hit without a charge or an indictment, as well as the overall legality of a law allowing such actions to take place.  The Obama Justice Department has now invoked a "state secrets" defense in order to have the lawsuit dismissed outright. 

Let me begin by saying clearly that I am confident that Anwar al-Awlaki is indeed a bad man, a dangerous man more like.  He and his rantings have been tied both to the Fort Hood shooter and the underwear attempted bomber, and as I mentioned, he is known to be working with al Qaeda.  With that said, and until someone can provide me with a better explanation, I firmly believe that as an American citizen, al-Awlaki continues to enjoy his rights, in spite of his repugnant associations and alleged actions.  I agree with Greenwald that the actions of the Obama administration seem to be a bridge too far.

This action seems like it would not get past the protections provided to American citizens through the 5th Amendment and 14th Amendment.  Input from any attorneys, legal historians or political scientists would be much appreciated.  And if I am right about this, then I think that there should be a trial at least to examine the legality of the actions of the Obama Administration.

What I find interesting right now is that there seems not to be a hue and cry about this case.  It is particularly interesting that the so called Constitution loving Tea Party people have been extremely quiet about this seemingly unconstitutional power grab by the Obama administration, following of course on the heels of a seemingly unconstitutional power grab by the Bush administration.  And I suspect that this silence is because of what al-Awlaki has been accused of doing.  It seems like another case of "if you haven't done anything wrong, then there is no reason to worry" perspective that many on both the left and right (but much, much more on the right) took regarding warrant less wiretapping.  But, they can spend time waxing poetic about the Obama administration's "attack" on the 10th Amendment over health insurance reform.

Even the worst among us within the citizenry are presumed innocent until proven guilty, and they still require the government to follow the Constitution and criminal procedure.  From what I've read, it looks like the Obama administration is seeking to do something that is outside of those parameters, and few seem to care.

UPDATE (09.29.10):  Here is an interesting link with a podcast dealing with this issue.

Friday, September 24, 2010

If You Are Following the Bishop Eddie Long Case(s)...

...let me suggest that you follow the coverage being done over at the excellent blog of Mr. Rod McCollum, Rod 2.0.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

So the Plans to Invade Iraq Started as Early as November 2001?

One of the most frustrating aspects of the Obama administration for me has been its unwillingness to review all of the aspects that led to the Iraq War, as well as how that war was prosecuted.  We now know that there were no weapons of mass destruction.  Sane people knew that there was no connection between Saddam and al Qaeda. 

So over at Think Progress, it's been reported that newly declassified documents show that as early as November '01 the Bush administration was trying to sort out reasons to go into Iraq.  Sadly, there will be no outrage, and there will be no calls for an investigation.  Sad, isn't it?

Economic Policy Obfuscation GOP Style

I was watching Keith Olbermann last night, and I was fascinated by the segment that he did on "small businesses."

Now I am going to err on the side that Olbermann's reporting is correct. If that is the case, and "small business" has indeed been transmogrified into a simple brand that would include the likes of Bechtel and hedge fund groups, then Americans are being played for chumps. The GOP is just pretending to offer support to "mom & pop" shops. It seems, and this is never a stretch, that the party's real goal is to provide yet more tax relief for millionaires and billionaires at the expense of our national deficit, and all in the hopes that this lot may decide to expand their businesses here in the United States.

Again, I will give the GOP branding credit.  Republicans have convinced millions of middle and lower income Americans that they are looking out for them economically, but when you look more closely at aspects of their agenda, it is one that seeks only to help the wealthiest among us.  Sadly, Democrats are getting just as bad (which isn't good for regular Americans of any political philosophy), but that GOP branding has made it so that "Democrat" is almost an obscenity.    The combination of making all taxation seem bad, making government as a whole seem evil, and pretending that class warfare is something that comes from the bottom up, as opposed to the top down, continues to drive millions of Americans to vote directly against their actual (as opposed to aspirational) economic circumstances.  And that's fine.  Vote your aspirations, but don't try to perpetrate the fraud that GOP economic policies, particularly the long term policies, will actually help the middle and lower classes fulfill those aspirations.

So with that said, I plan to read the new GOP pamphlet "A Pledge to America," and I urge others to do the same.  Apparently, the reviews already appear mixed, particularly from fiscal conservatives.  And I admit that I will be reading it with total skepticism.  The bits I've heard about include maintaining all of the Bush tax cuts, which we really can't afford, and tired retreads of the "cut taxes, purchasing health insurance across state lines, and tort reform" line for health care.  There also has been no specificity on spending cuts, but definite expansion of say the Defense budget.  And it's all wrapped in jingoistic language (I noticed that while I was reading the opening paragraphs).

So if Olbermann is correct in pointing out the "small business" fraud being perpetrated by the GOP, I would hazard a guess that other aspects of the GOP economic agenda are similarly fraudulent, particularly as it relates to the middle and lower classes. 

Caveat Emptor

GOP Pledge to America Final

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Repeal DADT? Fail II

After reading these two posts by Andrew Sullivan over at The Daily Dish, I thought that instead of trying to add my two cents (there really is nothing to add to these excellent posts), I ask visitors to this site to read them for themselves.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

An Anti-Gay Minister Fooling Around with Men? No Way

So, Bishop Eddie Long has been accused of sexual coercion. Rod used the one of my favorite terms to describe Long's situation: schadenfreude.

Larry Summers is Resigning? Don't Let the Door Hit You....

While I was glad to hear that Larry Summers was planning to resign, I think it's 18 months too late. And I blame Obama for putting in someone so beholden to Wall Street and dismissive of Main Street, and as a result of that appointment (as well as Geithner), Obama's economic policies, in my mind, have been misguided with regard to wide swath of Americans (for example, this idea seems to me a year late). And I still have yet to understand why something like a 21st century WPA or CCC wasn't even considered, even for the Gulf oil spill (where the bill could have been covered by BP, and not the American people). Perhaps it was because people like Summers, who have long forgotten what regular people experience in times of need, surrounded the President.

And let me make this clear. With every complaint I have regarding the Obama administration, I still hold that Obama is 1,000 times better than what McCain would have been on virtually all of the issues that this President has tackled since his inauguration.

Repeal DADT? Fail

I think I would have been more surprised if Sen. Reid actually got the cloture vote on the Defense Authorization bill I had no expectation that any of the GOP Senators would vote in favor of this bill, perhaps even if they'd been promised the world. Nor was I surprised that the Democrats failed to get all 59 of its majority members to support the bill either; we've seen the Keystone Senators play their games for the last 18 months. I also was not surprised by the lack of substantive interest from the White House. It was, as an advocate for the repeal of DADT, said, "a political train wreck."

Right now, I am going to hold off from a full unloading of my feelings on this issue. Since Sen. Reid voted "no" today, I know that the bill can be offered up again for a cloture vote, a vote that will come after the mid-term elections (better known as the revenge of the pissed off McCain supporter elections).

I am an ant's tooth away from giving up entirely on the Obama administration with regard to anything substantive related to gay rights. Right now, it appears that Obama is comfortable enough with government sanctioned discrimination that he had his administration barely carry water to secure passage of this bill. I doubt that he will issue an Executive Order to halt the discharges until the "Study" is released. And isn't that interesting. All of these people, including Sen. Webb of Virginia and the President, are pressed to have the DADT study completed before any action toward repeal, yet no one, to my knowledge, has had a problem with gay service members being kicked out.

Clearly, their perspective does not matter in this instance. Maybe if the gay service members all worked on derivatives and hedge funds or for health insurance companies, then perhaps their concerns would have been taken more seriously. After all, isn't that how Washington works these days?

Monday, September 20, 2010

Adolescent Music Flashback: Tears for Fears

I did not hear Tears for Fears first album, "The Hurting," until I was an adult. But when I was a teen, it was all about "Songs from the Big Chair." What an incredible album! Every single song on there was just stunning, and certainly added to the soundtrack of my senior year in high school. So instead of blathering on, I think I will just direct everyone to the songs below. Perfection!

"Shout" is the perfect song to do "the snake" to, and those who can do it know what i mean. The video made me that much more hungry to see the White Cliffs of Dover. Beautiful.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

"Don't Call My Name, Don't Call My Name..." Obama (Especially Regarding DADT) beat me to the punch, but they nailed my feelings on this: Lady Gaga has stepped into the breach where President Obama, based on his own self identification as a "fierce advocate" for gay rights, should be when it comes to sealing the deal on killing by legislation "Don't Ask, Don't Tell." The post links to "The Advocate" reporter Kerry Eleveld's post, and it is telling in too many ways.

Toward the end of the post, Eleveld brings up Lady Gaga, and explains what she has done in the last couple of weeks to show her support of ending DADT, including having discharged/resigned gay service members escort her to the VMAs, to tweeting to her fans information explaining a filibuster, and urging them to call their Senators, to posting a video on YouTube on this issue. And President Obama?

UPDATE: I was just over at Towleroad, and I saw that Lady Gaga is heading up to Maine tomorrow (one of my favorite places) to rally supporters for repealing DADT, and sending a message to Senators Snowe and Collins. I love it.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Sometimes I am Really Amazed By the Utter Contempt for the Lower Classes in Our Country

During the health insurance reform madness of last summer, I had an interesting conversation with a long time friend of mine (we've known one another since we were 12). He expressed his concerns that health insurance reform in almost any iteration would be a kick in the teeth of the middle class, which is a rational concern. Fine. He then went on to say that he was tired of his tax dollars going to help lazy poor people. After a little cross examination from me, he wanted to make it clear that he was not talking about the working poor. He had in mind the classic avatar for the poor: a welfare check receiving, public housing living, food stamp using, work averse poor person. He felt that those people didn't deserve the largess that "Obamacare" might provide.

When he was done, I asked him why he seemed more angry with poor people than with the leaders of the health insurance/pharmaceutical industry who have been driving up the costs of health care for decades. At first, he didn't really have an answer, but after a while, I suggested that perhaps it's because most people know that you can't get to them. Those at the top in the various industries are almost completely out of reach. The poor, regardless of working or lazy, are much easier targets. After a few more rounds, we both conceded some points. He agreed that politicians definitely listen to those at the top long before they would listen to folks in the middle class, and I conceded that indeed there are people who abuse the welfare programs that we have in this country.

That anecdote came to mind as I read about the rise in the country's overall poverty rate, and remembered that Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said, and then walked back, that small business owners who create jobs were "the hardest hit by this recession." When I added to my list an opinion piece by Bruce Bartlett on the lack of impact the Bush tax cuts had on our economy, I decided to write this post.

As I was reading the Bartlett piece, I was struck by the various people he cited or quoted who were convinced that supply-side economics was the way to go. These people are convinced that if you provide rich people with virtually any tax break or elimination (income, capital gains, estate), then someone with the spirit of noblesse oblige will rise with a mighty cry among the landed gentry, and they will provide their happy tenants with some of the basic means necessary for survival. Though they may not like the analogy, I think that many of my friends on the right would be in lock step with this economic agenda. Naturally, I think it's a bullshit agenda. Perhaps if I were in the business of developing private planes and yachts, or selling fine jewels, then I might see a real uptick in my income. But I suppose that lot would feel that it was my fault that I didn't go that route, and therefore the rewards flow accordingly.

All I am saying is that there is no doubt in my mind that the lowest among us on the economic scale are despised by those in the middle (those at the top could care less I think), because they cannot vent properly against the people who really are holding them back, retarding their advancement, and putting their futures in jeopardy. Last time I checked, the poor do not have that kind of power and clout. So why not direct that rage, tea party people, against the trick asses on Wall Street who were responsible for the single most devastating loss of assets in the modern era? Why do I still hear about the evils of the Community Reinvestment Act, or Fannie and Freddie? Why point only to the things that a) weren't as responsible for the mess as you claim, and b) seem to help those who need help?

Are you too afraid to direct your real (and sometimes legitimate) anger at your economic betters? They are the ones who pay for lobbyists to assure their needs are met. They are the ones that politicians of all parties are in the pockets of. Why not go after them? Oh well, I suppose it's just easier to kick someone when they are already down.

UPDATE: I thought I would make it clear with this update that that contempt for the poor and/or disaffected isn't just a GOP phenomenon. Take it away Sen. Bayh (never liked your politics anyway).

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Yes Gray Won in DC, Fine; But is That a Reason to Insult Fenty Supporters?

Now that I split my time between Washington, DC and Hampton Roads (with most of my time now spent in Hampton Roads), I've had to lead essentially a double life. I average one to two weeks monthly in my old DC neighborhood (Logan Circle in Ward 2, and I will be back full-time when my work in Hampton Roads is done), and I miss it terribly; I am glad my cousin still lives in the same neighborhood, so when I come to the city for meetings, I am just a block away from my old place.

I wrote that little preface to address an op-ed that I just read by Courtland Milloy. It's been a long time since I've read something so mean spirited and vitriolic. Milloy displayed nothing but contempt for people like me (though his main target was white folk), fans of the work that Fenty was doing and attempting to do in the city. I realized that Adrian Fenty was simply attempting to build on the structural changes that former mayor Anthony Williams (can he come back?) implemented during his two terms. I also realize that Fenty was a first class, arrogant, self aggrandizing ass, but I didn't see this as enough of a reason to fire him. Milloy clearly begged to differ.

I want the best for DC. I want it to be a top notch thriving city for all demographic groups. I think Fenty was trying, but the majority of Democrats in DC went for Gray. Cool. I also think that Milloy went too far, and that subtle invoking of the tiresome "Plan" was all over that op-ed. Might I suggest gloating with a lot less invective? A more diverse DC is not a bad thing, in spite of what Milloy seems to suggest. And Gray's ascension will not stop that train from coming.

I Sort of Agree With David Frum?

I am not sure what to make of this. Here I found myself reading a blog post by David Frum. I know. What's even more strange is that I found myself agreeing with about 85% of what he said. As anyone who has read my blog knows, I am no conservative. I am, however, interested in interesting ideas, even those I may not agree with. I also think that when folks from varying political philosophies get together to be serious about resolving an issue for the country, and not simply playing games like most of the GOP has been doing since January of '09, then the country as a whole benefits.

The more I see and hear from Frum, the more I believe that he is sincere in his desire to see all of our politicians work toward some solutions that will benefit the country as a whole. I think he is correct in suggesting that the tea party Republicans do not share that perspective. I think that most of that lot believes that there is nothing that Democrats, moderates or liberals can bring to the table that will help the country. Because of that sentiment, and I see each time I listen to them speak or read what they write, I cannot take them seriously. I cannot remember who wrote it, but someone suggested that the tea party Republicans essentially were doing performance art.

With that said, I am not stupid enough to dismiss their ability to win elections; tea party Republicans most definitely are a threat (in a multiplicity of ways). But do I think that they are ready actually to attempt to tackle the deep seated problems of this country in a substantive way? Not at all, especially when you begin your effort with the sense that nothing your opposition has to say is worth hearing.

Besides, I am still trying to understand the line "I want my country back." When did it leave you?

On Oprah Returning to the Town That Closed a Public Pool (in 1987) Because an HIV+ Man Took a Dip

Yesterday, I was determined to watch Oprah. She was going back to the small town of Williamson, WV, where she'd done her show following the closing of a public swimming pool after an HIV+ man used it. I remember seeing this episode 23 years ago. I was a closeted college student at the time, and was worried that even watching the show would give hints to my sexual orientation, but I was determined to watch it.

Here is a trailer for the return show. It's interesting how some of those old feelings returned as I watched the show yesterday. The fear and hatred in that 1987 audience was as thick as pea soup, and I loved that Oprah brought back the folks who most stood out. It was also interesting to learn that one of Mike Sisco's sisters, and a child that he used to babysit have since come out of the closet, both of them citing Sisco as both a hero and an inspiration. Indeed he was. I would not have been brave enough to sit before my whole town the way he did. And I now wonder how many closeted people were in that audience either joining the mob or sitting silently in horror.

Of the guests who were particularly cruel to Sisco that Oprah brought back, only two of the three offered apologies to Sisco's family, and both, solid Christians I am sure, argued that compassion both for Sisco and his family was missing in that room 23 years ago. The remaining cruel guest, now a radio talk show host, spent most of his time on air trying to justify his prejudices, and everyone else in that room seemed to be aware of the fact that he was more sorry that he was seen in a bad light, than sorry about the basis for his vitriol.

It was a confusing time for me in the late '80s/early '90s. I was afraid to do anything, and that continued even after I came out in '93. Thankfully, I grew less concerned about what others thought, but the spectre of HIV haunted me for a long time, too long in my estimation. It certainly helped to have a cousin who is both gay and a doctor, and one who has dedicated his practice to helping those with HIV. I've learned so much from him and his patients over the years, and let the fear go.

That seemed to be the message that Oprah conveyed yesterday: the importance of letting go of fear. I am sorry that Mike Sisco did not make it to see Oprah return, and it would have been especially nice to see him confront that man who was "repulsed" by Sisco and "his lifestyle" (a phrase I loathe deeply). Personally, I am so glad that that fear from the late 80s has essentially gone, and "the gays" have moved more and more into the mainstream of American life. I wish that all of those who died from complications related to HIV, particularly the gay men, could be here now to see how far we have come.

The Folks at "The Daily Show" Pontificate on How Dems Can F&*k Up in November

As I watched the pundits talk about this idea that the nomination of tea party people as the GOP standard bearers for the upcoming (since they really are pretty much disgruntled Republicans), I found it interesting that a fair few of those pundits saw this as a good development for their Democratic challengers. Now most people who follow politics know that Democrats can be particularly adept at snatching defeat from the jaws of victory, and I wonder if we do not have the potential of seeing the same for November.

I couldn't help but laugh out loud last night while watching "The Daily Show" opening segment which brought out John Oliver, Wyatt Cynac and Jason Jones to discuss just how the Democrats still have ample time to "fuck this up."

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Tea Party Primaries - Beyond the Palin
Daily Show Full EpisodesPolitical HumorTea Party

It's just so true.

I think that Democrats should be particularly concerned about these tea people from a political perspective. As conventional wisdom and recent history show, the mid-term elections are all about older white people, the group that has loathed Obama from the very beginning. If that is the case, then the craziest of the conservatives will indeed ascend into office. Personally, I think that this indeed will happen. I sometimes think that perhaps they need to get in so the world can see just how twisted their political perspectives happen to be, and then I sober up.

Regardless, we will see if indeed the Democrats "fuck up" even their glimmers of hope for November.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

It Took Them Long Enough to Bring in Elizabeth Warren

I was glad to hear that Obama has tapped Elizabeth Warren to begin working with the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. In the past, I've posted my disdain for both Tim Geithner and Larry Summers (here, here and here), and the fact that both of them have their misgivings about her made me all the more encouraged that she represented something right. Meanwhile, Warren has been a no-holds barred advocate for the middle class and for Main Street, and that has really been missing from this administration in a substantive sense. I hope that her appointment is a real signal that change is coming to this White House on helping the rest of us (that top 2% that the GOP is crowing for will always be fine).

Monday, September 13, 2010

This Bush Tax Cut Discussion is Just...UGH

Well, political Washington is back in full swing, and I am confident little will be accomplished before the mid-terms. The latest Washington madness has been the whole expiration of the Bush tax cuts, cuts that were passed in the Congress through reconciliation, like health insurance reform (though when the GOP pushed through the tax cuts, it was hailed as a remarkable victory; health insurance reform was hailed by these same victory "hailers" as a usurpation of government, but I digress). I think it reasonable to have the wealthiest among us pay more taxes; they are about the only ones who can afford it. And I am not surprised by this call from Senator McConnell to work diligently to ensure that those in his tax bracket are spared going back to Clinton era taxes (that must have been a terrible period of extreme taxation, the '90s).

As one who is working on his own small business (more clients please!), I can assure folks that most small business people do not take home $250,000 annually. It simply isn't true. Yet, to hear the GOP talk, the expiration of the Bush tax cuts, and expiration of their making, will hit that majority directly. I will always give the GOP credit for creating a fantasy world where even their mendicant supporters need to ensure that Mitch McConnell and Elaine Chao's taxes don't go up. How very clever indeed.

Personally, I believe that there has been class warfare going on for the last 30 years, but that class warfare has not been against the rich and/or wealthy (there is a difference). War has been waged against the middle, working and lower classes in our "classless" society. We have worked to maximize profits at the expense of American workers across the board. And many of us, by supporting things like excessive de-regulation and trickle down economic fallacies and playing police men of the world (have to keep the military-industrial complex sated), joined in on the fun, getting, at best, a home that might go into foreclosure, a 401K that is not worth very much, and a flat-screen television.

Let me know how much food those mendicants supporting the GOP will be able to put on their tables once the richest Americans secure those tax cuts we can't afford.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

On This Ninth Anniversary...

I woke up with a start. The telephone was ringing right at my head; it was my aunt calling. Once I was done with the brief conversation, I reached for the television remote, turned on the set, and turned to MSNBC. What happened next surprised the shit out of me: I stumbled right on the re-broadcast of the September 11, 2001 of the "Today Show," 9:02 am. Right there on my television was the second plane hitting the South Tower of the World Trade Center. And I did something I hadn't done since that day nine years ago, when I was sitting in my cousin's office after having been evacuated from the Library of Congress: I cried.

Oddly enough, my tears were not for the events I was watching. No, my tears were for my country on this ninth anniversary of this American tragedy. Seriously. Everything from the Lower Manhattan Islamic Center, to the trick ass "preacher" threatening to burn Korans, to the growing push to blame all Muslims for the actions of 19 fucks, and their still at-large leader, to the torture done in my name as an American by the previous administration (and Cheney's continual bragging about it), to President Obama's support of assassinating American citizens without due process, if they are deemed terrorists, to people trying to make Obama into a Muslim, because they see that as being yet another way to impugn his character (as if being a Muslim, in and of itself, is a bad thing), to the protests against mosques and Islamic centers around this nation, even those that have been in communities for decades, all came into my mind as I watched that plane hit the South Tower, while the North Tower burned.

I rarely give former President Bush credit for anything good, but he did the right thing in making it clear that our fight is with the people who organized the worst terrorist attack on American soil, not with Muslims in toto. Yet now, with President Bush gone, it's clear to me that many of his supporters were simply playing along until he left office. Now that he is gone....

I still remember how quiet it was in Washington that evening nine years ago. I still remember staying up all night wanting more information. I remember calling my friends in New York, and checking on my friends around Washington. I remember that friends of friends didn't come home that evening (three, if I recall correctly, and all in New York), and though I didn't know them, I felt for my friends who did know them. But what I've witnessed these last few months, particularly over this Islamic center, has made me feel nothing but shame. I feel like we are slowly but surely letting the fucks who attacked us on that day win. And it hurts more, because I know that we should be a better people than that.

September 11, 2001 was a tragic day in American history, no doubt. But we have survived worse tragedies. More importantly, we've come out a better nation, stronger in our principles, each time. Sometimes, when I look at our current political landscape, our talking heads and politicians, and some of my fellow citizens, I wonder if we have the same mettle our forefathers and ancestors had. Are we capable of looking evil in the face and staying true to ourselves as Americans, remaining the nation with the moral high ground? Or, have we been so cowed, so spooked, that we are willing to destroy those very principles that made us the envy of the world?

On this particular anniversary, I am not sure what that answer is.

"Anniversary" Suzanne Vega

Friday, September 10, 2010

Better Faces for the GOP

Yesterday was odd. I was conversing with my mother, and we both agreed that if the actual faces of the GOP were Meghan McCain and Colin Powell, then the GOP would actually be competitive with constituencies that have little to no time for the party right now. McCain an Powell might have the ability to make a person go "hmm" with regard to the party.

DADT Declared Unconstitutional, Finally

Though I know that none of these issues are settled, I am finding it very interesting that the courts, regardless of who appointed the judges, have been fairly consistent in coming down on the side of gay rights. Again, none of these issues are settled, and I know that Scalia and Thomas loathe gays based on their religious traditions (I am confident that Roberts and Alito do as well, but they haven't had a gay rights case come to them yet), but I am hopeful that the Constitution will out.

Yesterday, we saw a federal court side in favor of gay service members in a case brought by those associated with Log Cabin Republicans. "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" was declared unconstitutional yesterday. It was great to see that.

I think that it is important to remind people that just as the federal government was discriminating against gays under President Bush, the federal government is doing the same under President Obama. It is also important to realize that Obama would be held to a higher standard on gay rights, because he is a Democrat, since the village idiot even knows that the GOP platform all but jails gay folks (yes, Ken Mehlman, I still remember the GOP official position on the gays), so Obama deserves to be hammered on his gay rights positions.

I hope that this case will push Obama over that edge, at the very least, to push for a full repeal of DADT. It began with a Democratic POTUS, and it should end with one.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

When it Comes to Family History, Don't Wait Until it's Too Late to Seek Out Elders

Last week, I wrote a post on the old Green Book for black travelers during the Jim Crow era, and I wrote that I intended to talk to some of my older relatives about some of the places listed in my hometown (Hampton, VA). Well, I had a chance to talk with my grandmother (87), great aunt (89) and great uncle (91) about the places, and it was fun to see them nod their heads in acknowledgement.

My great uncle, who grew up in the Phoebus section of Hampton, was most familiar with the places in Phoebus, but he was also aware of place names in Hampton as well (Hampton was a part of Elizabeth City County before incorporation in 1952). I was told that one of his cousins had some tie to the old Horton's Hotel and Restaurant, the only black owned hotel in Phoebus (he couldn't remember if his cousin married Horton or not). My great uncle also remembered the old Club 400 at Bay Shore, the popular black beach at Buckroe Beach. There were no listings for my grandmother and great aunt's North Carolina hometown.

The conversation moved toward a general discussion of living under a Jim Crow system. I was particularly interested in my great uncle's story of his times in the UK and France during WWII. He said that he felt whole for the first time in his life during his time there, and that he was reluctant to return to the U.S. at the close of the war. Apparently, his older brother felt the same way (that great uncle was in France). I never had a chance to ask my grandfather about any of this; he left Hampton Institute and he was sent to the Pacific theater of war, though I think he only got as far as Hawaii.

I also had an opportunity to ask for the names of my great grandparents, and other great aunts and uncles and cousins (all on my mother's side of the family). It was cool to learn that one of my relatives was a local surgeon, who had to be hidden from white patients in order to do his work. Another relative was the first black member of the Hampton school board. I wanted to have a record of those names for the rest of us to have. So my plan, when I got home, was to organize this information and decide what to do.

Unfortunately, as I checked my e-mail messages, there was a note from my father letting me know that his mother had lost her battle with colon cancer. Without question, my joy from those earlier conversations about my mother's family's past left me. All I could think of is that I had not had an opportunity to have that type of discussion with my grandmother regarding my Dad's side of the family. So, I am off to Pennsylvania to attend her funeral. But I've also decided to seek out my oldest remaining great aunt up there, and ask her similar questions that I asked my Virginia relatives.

I think it's sad that too many of us only become interested in our family history when someone passes away. If you want to know your family's history, then I strongly encourage anyone who reads this blog not to wait to talk with those family elders. Seek them out. You may be amazed by the stories you hear.