Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Rachel Maddow Helped to Show What Happens When Opinions and Facts Clash

I give major kudos to Rachel Maddow and her staff for getting interviews with all three candidates running for the U.S. Senate seat in Alaska.  If you haven't seen the show, I recommend it, particularly Maddow's interview with sitting Senator Lisa Murkowski.  But the portion of the show that I want to highlight is the portion when Maddow talks with Miller supporters.

Listen to what these folks are saying. The guy that Rachel talked with is clear that Attorney General Eric Holder is the most anti-gun AG we've ever had. "Let's look at his voting record before hand," the guy says, and when Rachel let him know that Eric Holder has never held elective office, it was nothing but "deer in the headlights" for this guy. And then there was the woman who is convinced that the New Black Panther Party is essentially getting special favors because they are black (I would bet the farm, if I had one, that she is a Glenn Beck fan, and drank every syllable of Beck's pronouncement that Obama is a racist and hates white people; the fact that Obama was raised by his white family, whom he loves, of course, doesn't matter).

Folks can call me whatever they want, but what they will never be able to call me truthfully is a low information person. Therein rests the problem that I think is going on way too often on the right, and right wing media and politicians use that low information voter to their advantage (please note that even in the face of the fact that Eric Holder had never voted on a gun issue, that didn't really stop the guy interviewed from feeling what he felt; Eric Holder, and subsequently Barack Obama = bad, regardless of the circumstances).And this is my central problem with an organization like Fox News.

It's one thing to have a bias, but work hard to simply report the news, while maintaining clear lines between news reporting and opinion making. But it is another thing altogether to marry the two; Fox has (mostly) married the two. That does not help its viewers in the long run. Again, say what you will about MSNBC or CNN or NPR, but I am confident their news divisions try to maintain objectivity, while giving its opinion makers space to make their opinions. The Wall Street Journal does an excellent job of this on the right, and I have long been comfortable with the veracity of its news articles, even when I think that their op-ed columnists have lost their minds.  And I can say the same with local Fox affiliates that I've watched both in Washington, DC and down in Hampton Roads, VA.  Yet, the cable station is just something to behold, and I don't mean that in a good way.

The result of all of that Fox and tea party GOP hard work is what Rachel showed the world last night. 

Be Passionate About Politics, But We Can Do Better Than This II

Only in a Dick Cheney mindset infected world can you have the man who clearly stomped on the woman near Rand Paul ask for an apology from the woman he stomped on (h/t The Political Carnival). 

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Be Passionate About Politics, But We Can Do Better Than This

When I saw this clip out of Kentucky, I have to admit that I was shocked. Even if this anti-Paul protester had been a man, there was no reason for that pro-Paul coward to use his foot on a this woman who was already down. That was hate, and there is no justification for it.

Monday, October 25, 2010

What Do Democrats Do When the GOP Accidentally Lets the Truth Slip Out?

So I saw this post over at Think Progress, and I watched the clip attached to the post (which I will add to this post), and I tried to read the National Journal article referenced in the post, but couldn't (it's behind a pay firewall, and I will look for the actual publication and read it).  By the time I finished the Think Progress post, the first thought that came to my mind is that the Democratic Party would be fucking fools not to run with the words Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell told report Major Garrett (formerly of Fox News, if I am not mistaken) that his "single most important" job is to make President Obama a one-term President.

If I were the head of the DNC, I would be ordering ads cut right now.  And I would be putting McConnell's words into what I believe are their proper context:  "Fuck the pain of the American people; we just want to get back into power by any means necessary."

I have tried my level best.  I hoped that there would be some things that were just so important to the United States as a country that the GOP would be willing to act in good faith with a President facing crises of near epic proportions.  But it is more clear to me now than it has ever been that the leaders of the GOP, and concomitantly an overwhelming majority of their supporters, would rather take down Barack Obama than actually try to help the American people.

I have not heard a single GOP proposal explaining how Republicans would tackle the genuinely pressing problems that we are facing as a nation (and "tax cuts" are played; try something else).  Republican sponsored amendments offered during the sausage making process are offered not to provide meaningful conservative ideas, but only to gum up the process overall.  The GOP claims that they haven't been consulted during many of these efforts, but those lies are in the gutted legislation that limps over to the President's desk, and most particularly in the legislation that never makes it to a vote in the Senate.  It's sickening.

It's at times like these when one can see exactly the true differences between the Democratic and Republican parties.  Imagine if Harry Reid or Nancy Pelosi had said anything akin to that in 2007.  The world would have fucking exploded, and the GOP would have been holding the detonator with glee.  I just don't think that the Democrats have it within their DNA to go hard like the GOP, and at this point it's a shame.  It could be so simple.  They could ever stretch the truth to the break point like the GOP does regularly.

"Why is the unemployment rate stuck at 9.6%?  Because Mitch McConnell's single most important job is to defeat Obama."  You can put in almost any issue in the question portion, maintain the following sentence, and beat it into the heads of the American populace.  Or what about this:  "What is more important to the GOP, defeating President Obama in 2012, or helping the American people in 2010?"  It's a good fucking question that needs to be asked repeatedly, even to the point where our sycophantic (for GOP generated memes) political journalists might actually ask that question until we get an honest answer.

I firmly believe that there are liberal and conservative political ideas that have worth, and that would benefit our country.  That yin and yang is necessary, and it has helped to make this country the great country it is.  But I think it is downright un-American for one party uniformly to obstruct the efforts of the party that won the majorities in elections simply to help create a climate so that the out party can regain power, even at the expense of the pressing needs of the American people. 

I am more than confident that the Democratic Party will not have the courage to say anything like what I've written publicly, in front of microphones, or to its supporters.  Nope.  The Democrats "single most important" job seems to be not to piss of Republicans. 

Juan, Juan, Juan II

When I first heard about Juan Williams situation, I wondered aloud if Williams was the autumnal Shirley Sherrod, and NPR the latest USDA.  But I realized quickly that the analogy didn't work at all.  Now, I am going to be lazy and just ask folks to check out this post by Ta-Nehisi Coates, because he nails my thoughts on this Sherrod/Williams (bad) comparison pretty damn near perfectly.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

A "Bill Cosby Liberal?"

Okay, this whole Juan Williams thing has made people a little crazy.  This line that Williams' free speech rights were somehow abrogated is bullshit.  And now this weird new line, and something that only someone like a Brit Hume could imagine, of the "Bill Cosby Liberal" is just strange.

I will say it now.  I am no fan of white folks who jump on an imaginary bandwagon of support when a prominent black person criticizes aspects of the black community.  In this instance, I think there is a missing ingredient when you look at Cosby's comments and Hume comments:  actual respect for the people being admonished.  And by attempting to link Williams' words of irrational fear with Cosby's words of genuine concern, Hume showed me just how little he respected what Cosby actually said.  I think Hume saw the Cosby commentary simply as an opportunity to assuage his own disdain for aspects of the black community.  By the way, people seem to forget that Bill Cosby got a lot of support for his comments from many black folks, including me (does that make me a "Bill Cosby Liberal?"). 

All of this love from the right directed at Williams feels fake to me.  My guess is that the real reason he is getting support is closer to what Glenn Greenwald suggests, than any other explanation I've heard.  I also would love to know what Williams' defenders would have to say about Williams points that Andrew Sullivan unearthed from an old colloquium sponsored by The New Republic (one that I actually remember hearing about).

Though I will be very glad when this tempest in a teapot finally comes to an end, I pray that we will not have to suffer hearing the words "Bill Cosby Liberal" ever again.  Cosby's comments were about moving folks forward; Williams comments were about giving people a pass to hold on to irrational fears.  So not the same thing.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Is It Hypocritical to Campaign on the "Failed" Stimulus, While Simultaneously Seeking Funds from It or Touting its Benefits Locally?

I've just been looking through some of the letters from members of Congress requesting funds or supporting projects requesting funds from the "failed" stimulus program.  Cognitive dissonance anyone?  The Center for Public Integrity has made available letters (in a post on its website) requesting those funds. 

The very least these folks could do is have an ounce of integrity, and I am including those Republicans who are running for Congress too.  If the shit works, and brings or saves jobs in your district, be honest about that.  It's not that difficult.

What If We Followed Britain's Lead and Announced Nearly 500K Public Sector Job Cuts?

I am really interested in seeing how things will work out in the UK with this 490K job cut in the public sector.  First, I will be fascinated if the proposal actually goes through.  Second, I will be fascinated to see which UK agencies are hardest hit.

It might surprise some folks who know me to hear that I think this isn't necessarily a bad idea, and that it is one that I think we could consider here in the U.S.  The problem, of course, will be where to aim the hits.  Conservatives would try to deem that the Departments of Defense and Homeland Security as sacrosanct.  Liberals might try to deem Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid as sacrosanct.  I think that our political climate, as it stands right now, would not tolerate across the board cuts. 

I think that we need an efficient well-run government.  No, it doesn't need to be some bare boned, beast starved conservative fantasy, nor does it need to be a bloated leviathan (which is more like it is now).  But no matter what happens, I want a fully funded Smithsonian Institution and National Park Service.  And I want the new markets and historic tax credits extended so that we can revitalize historic neighborhoods and actually help the various real "Main Streets" across the country (and create jobs that cannot be outsourced).  But that's just me.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Juan, Juan, Juan

Clearly, Juan Williams of Fox News (and now formerly National Public Radio) learned nothing from the firing of Rick Sanchez.  How are you going to say on national television that Muslims in full regalia on a plane make you nervous, and not think that shit will not end pretty?  That comment should have been made at the bar with some gin or vodka somewhere nearby.  Even if you believe something like that, it is just better to keep it to yourself.

I want to watch the clip before I say more about this, so there will be more to come.

UPDATE (10.21.10):  First, I found a clip that I think has solid context.

There are three points I want to make about this, now that I've watched a more complete clip.  First, Williams did not need to tell the world that he felt nervous when he sees Muslims in full regalia.  I understand that this was a moment of honesty, but one should always think twice and then speak once.  If Williams had said that there are Americans who look questionably at Muslims in full regalia in this post 9/11 world, and that though that happens, we still need to remind ourselves that we cannot blame all Muslims for the actions of a few, then I think that Williams would have both won the argument and kept his job.  I am not going to pretend to know the particulars of either NPR's journalistic policies, or the contents of Williams' contract with the organization, but if he violated the terms of his contract, then that is what he did.

Second, I totally reject is this idea that Williams has had his speech rights denied.  It just isn't true, no matter how many times folks on the right try to say it is.  I also found this analysis highlighting the recent firings of journalists based on what they said interesting, particularly the reactions from prominent folks on the right. 

Finally, I will admit that I didn't really like the way that Williams framed his admonishment of O'Reilly.  But, I don't feel like his comment was as bad as his Fox News colleagues Brian Kilmeade or (most definitely) Glenn Beck.  And I still don't understand how Beck survived calling the President an outright racist who hated white people (including, presumably, the only people who raised him).  Williams comment was questionable, even if many people might feel that way, but we've heard worse from people who suffered little to no costs for saying it.

Things a Virginia Fourth Grader Needn't Know

I was floored when I read the Washington Post article noting that the primary fourth grade Virginia history textbook states that thousands of black folks fought for the Confederacy.  I love that it was an historian (Carol Sheriff from William & Mary) who sounded the alarm on this issue.  Ironically, we both attended a conference on Race, Slavery and the Civil War at Norfolk State University just last month, and one of the key issues discussed that day was the role blacks played in the Confederacy.  There was a distinct effort on the part of the various historians who were speaking to make it clear that this notion that there were thousands of black Confederate soldiers is just false.  Even University of Virginia historian Ervin Jordan, who recently published a work covering blacks fighting for the Confederacy, argued that the historical evidence simply does not support the idea of thousands of black Confederate troops. 

Like many other historians who have looked into this issue (one of my first papers in graduate school was an examination of Confederate slave impressment legislation in South Carolina), I was done when I read that the textbook also states that two black battalions fought under Stonewall Jackson.  In the Post article, the textbook's author, Joy Masoff cites Jordan's book and Internet research as her sources for her points regarding black Confederates.  But two things need to be known on the Jackson issue.  First, blacks were not allowed to bear arms for the Confederacy until 1865, as the Civil War was coming to a close.  Second, Stonewall Jackson was killed in 1863.  Unless Jackson openly defied the government of the Confederacy before his death, which is highly unlikely, there is no way that he commanded two battalions of black soldiers.  Masoff's research was simply shoddy on that front, and if it hadn't been caught, thousands of Virginia fourth graders, including my nephew, would have been taught lies presented as facts.

Instances like this remind me of why I am so glad that I chose American history as my field of study, but it also reminds me of what so many people don't know.  Knowing American history should not be a privilege, yet it sometimes feels that way. 

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Will Being Gay in Uganda Lead to Execution or Imprisonment? IX

I feel bad that I am just seeing this story (over at Box Turtle Bulletin, which reported it back on October 4th) of a Ugandan tabloid, Rolling Stone, essentially outing several of gay Ugandans by posting tons of pictures.  I am just reading the update now.  Take some time and check out the links.  It is both a sad and fascinating situation in Uganda right now.

A Reminder That Simply Being Gay Can Get You Fired, Regardless of Actual Job Performance

Imagine if your partner/spouse was being abusive to you.  Of course you would call for help, and hope that that help would indeed come.  But would you expect to be fired from your job, as a result of your call for help?

Down in Hattiesburg, MS, Andre Cooley is now a former Corrections Officer, because he called 911 to help him deal with his allegedly violent boyfriend.  When the Sheriff, Billy McGee, found out that Cooley was gay, he authorized Cooley's firing (h/t Rod).  It didn't matter what Cooley's record on the job was.  All that mattered was that Cooley was gay (can you imagine this happening to a female Corrections Officer who called 911 about an abusive boyfriend/husband?).  According to an article from the Clarion-Ledger, McGee said the following:  "He got in a fight with his boyfriend, and the police were called to his house for a domestic disturbance....Those kinds of incidents don't speak well for people in law enforcement."

I just want people who read this blog, particularly those who aren't gay, to understand what happened to Andre Cooley.  The man was fired simply because he was gay.  Not too long ago, someone commented on an earlier post saying that gays could live in peace, but that we choose to marginalize ourselves (I guess like we choose to be gay, right?).  Tell that to Andre Cooley.

Too few people in this country know that in the vast majority of states a person can be fired simply because his/her boss does not like the fact that he/she is gay.  And there is no recourse.  That has to change.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Speaking of Voter Suppression (and I am Not Talking About the New Black Panther Party)

I can understand a campaign ad that suggests that votes support one candidate or another for just about any reason; that is the nature of a campaign.  What I cannot understand is putting forth a campaign ad that actually tells a segment of the voting public simply not to vote.  I really am gobsmacked that a conservative group would really target Hispanic voters in Nevada, and ask them not to vote at all.  WTF!!!  Is there something wrong with asking to support the Republican or the tea party Republican candidates?  What about the other state focused races in Nevada?  Again, WTF!!!  I hope that every single Hispanic voter in Nevada, regardless of party or political philosophy is offended, and, in turn, will show up to the polls in numbers unprecedented.

P.S. Why are Representatives Maxine Waters and Charles Rangel, as well as Senator Barbara Boxer, in this ad? Senator Reid and President Obama make much more sense for this Nevada specific market.  And finally, will Fox News cover this actual attempt at voter suppression like they did the strange New Black Panther Party?  I know.  I know.

UPDATE (10.19.10):  I am watching "The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell" right now, and he is interviewing the man behind the ad.  And one of the points that O'Donnell raised was why not lay some blame on Republican officials who blocked immigration reform (which is appropriate).

Virginia Thomas Seems to Have Lost Her Mind

Lord Jesus.  I know Clarence Thomas' wife did not call up Anita Hill and ask Hill to apologize.  I guess all that tea party Republican blustering has given Thomas enough chutzpah to make a call like that.  Oh, to have been in Hill's office when she listened to that voicemail message.

The John McCain I Never Really Knew (And In Light of the Changes, I Think I am Glad I Didn't)

Many Republicans that I've gotten to know over the years often mentioned Sen. John McCain as an example of a Republican the even I might appreciate.  But my McCain knowledge, prior to the 2008 election, was limited at best.  Of course I knew that he was the son and grandson of Admirals, and that he was a prisoner of war during Vietnam.  I also knew that he was tied to the Keating Five scandal, but I didn't know to what extent or how close that situation came to bringing him down politically.  And I was also aware that the George W. Bush supporters in South Carolina successfully floated the lie that McCain had fathered a "black child."

I did not support John McCain in 2008 (I will never cast a vote for anyone associated with Sarah Palin), but I was fascinated by the number of people who talked about the changes they saw in McCain and in his positions.  However, I just finished reading Todd Purdum's Vanity Fair article on McCain, and I found it truly fascinating.  I recommend folks reading it, particularly those who were fans of the old John McCain.  I would love to hear if Purdum's article hits close to the mark for McCain supporters.

It seems to me that John McCain, because of the strong primary challenge this year, has become something that he apparently was not before, a tea party Republican.  And in tacking way right, McCain seemed to have abandoned past positions, reasonable ones, on DADT and immigration, to the detriment of the nation.  I would love to see what history will say about McCain.  What I am reading right now, is just plain ole interesting.

Rachel Maddow Knocked It Out of the Park With This One

There are times when all I can do is ask the readers of this blog simply to watch.  Here is Rachel Maddow breaking the memes of the mid-term elections so that they are forever broke.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

A Strange Day for Don't Ask, Don't Tell

Today has been a whirlwind of a day with regard to "Don't Ask, Don't Tell."  Now, I am not sure about the timeline, but I do know the following:  the Pentagon confirmed an internal memorandum making it clear to the JAG Corps across the services that all activity related to DADT has to stop until there is some movement by the Obama administration, and then Obama administration asked for a stay of the decision that declared DADT unconstitutional while it seeks an appeal.

A Reuters article noted that during a town hall meeting today sponsored by cable channels MTV, BET and CMT, Obama was asked about DADT, and said the following:  "This is not a situation where with a stroke of a pen I can end the policy....This policy will end and it will end on my watch."  Now unless I am mistaken, I think that Obama's statement is true, but with caveats.  If I am wrong, please correct me.  Is it not true that Obama has the power, with the stroke of a pen, to suspend DADT investigations and/or discharges while this situation is dealt with (including waiting for the Department of Defense review, as well as the appeal process of the recent ruling)?  If that is true, and Obama has that authority, why has he not exercised it?  Has he even checked that he has that authority, and if he has, why not communicate that?

Politically, I think it is safe to say that the Obama administration is in real peril of permanently damaging his credibility with the broader GLBT community.  And this is just the latest manifestation.  Furthermore, the administration is being played by the Log Cabin Republicans.  Through this lawsuit, that group has been able to cast a flood light on just how flawed the Obama administration's seeming half hearted efforts (remember the utter lack of lobbying for the Defense Re-Authorization bill's passage, before the current recess?) on DADT have been.  Obama has made it clear, and I can partly understand his reasoning, that he wants the process that his administration put forth to be completed.  And though I understand that by having Congress put an end to DADT, you reduce the level of noise from the right and minimize a backlash, it feels (to me at least) that the Commander in Chief has ceded the real power on this issue to Sec. of Defense Gates, and in the end what he says seems like it will go.  I hope I am wrong, and I hope that that "fierce advocate" for gay rights might finally show himself, but I am not so sure. 

In all honesty, I am trying really hard to believe the President on this issue.  Really hard. 

There is one last thing I want to get off my chest on this issue.  I've stated that I am glad that the Log Cabin Republicans put forth this suit, and the ruling that they got was indeed one that made me smile, but I think that it is disingenuous to beat up on the Obama administration while ignoring what the Republican Senators did to prevent the passage of the Defense Re-Authorization bill that would have put a legislative end to DADT (pending the DoD review).  I also want to remind Log Cabin Republicans that they remain members of a party that routinely rails against "activist (when the decisions are against Republican interests only) judges" for court cases precisely like this.  Check yourselves.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

In the Aftermath of the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" Injunction

Right now, I am watching The Rachel Maddow Show (no surprise there), and I am glad that Maddow has dedicated much of her show (it's still on) to the issue of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell."  I watched the interviews she conducted with two active duty officers in the Air Force, including one who is out to some of his fellow service members right now (I wonder if their unit cohesion has been irreparably compromised, and I wonder if any of that officer's colleagues who know of his sexuality are concerned about being checked out in the showers?).  The officer who has a partner had a story that needs to be heard by so many who look at this issue in the abstract.  He was concerned about what would happen to his partner, if something unfortunate happened while the officer was deployed.  What he had to do was heart wrenching to hear. 

If opponents to the ending of DADT think that it is easy for someone like me, a person related to veterans (grandfathers, father, younger brother, and cousins), to talk about the unfairness of this policy, then it is equally easy for those opponents, including straight service members, to dismiss the concerns of their gay, lesbian and bisexual fellow service members.  I've heard that some of those discharged were simply looking for a way out of the military, an explanation that I considered tantamount to calling those folks cowards.  But I cannot help but wonder about the people who didn't want to leave, the people who loved (and continue to love) their time in the military, and the people who continue to fight to remain in the military to this moment.  It seems easy to ignore those individuals, since they don't fit in the "I'm looking for an easy way out" narrative. 

I wish that the segments from Maddow's show tonight were already up on her site (I will add them later), because I think that her commentary regarding the manner in which the White House is handling this situation is spot on.  Essentially, the White House is putting all of its eggs in the Senate basket, and it has not thought much beyond that strategy.  That is the reality.  The awkward approach that this White House has taken toward the more substantive GLBT issues continues to speak volumes, and it isn't pleasant listening.

UPDATE 10/14/10:  Here are the clips from last night's show.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

And the Hits Just Keep On Coming for Homophobic Religious Types

Yet another religious figure, who probably waxed poetic on the evils of gays like me, just cannot seem to control his sexual urges, the natural ones.  I wonder if he "chose" to be gay on the Tuesday before he decided to hit on the first teenager?

Injunction Junction, What's Your Function? Stopping DADT Terminations and Losses

Though I don't know what the final chapter will say regarding "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," this current chapter is riveting.  The federal judge who declared that the 17 year old policy was unconstitutional has now issued an injunction against the policy's enforcement.  The Obama administration has 60 days to file an appeal.  That timing could easily fall into the time that the Department of Defense's review of the policy is due.  It will be quite interesting to see how that will play out.  If the DoD review is negative, will that send a signal to the administration to file that appeal?  If the DoD review is positive, will that signal to the administration simply to let the ruling stand, thus eliminating DADT in that fashion?  I must give credit to the Log Cabin Republicans for setting this snowball in motion.  I definitely disagree with them on the majority of policy issues, but in this instance, I support them 100%.

I am more than confident that we will be hearing about activist judges and legislating from the bench, but I think that because the people behind the suit are Republicans (including the affected service members), that call might not be as strong.  Of course, all of this could go down badly.  But today, I am cheering for all of those GLBT service members currently serving our nation, and their straight allies currently serving.  Savior this victory tonight.

Maddow Makes a Good Point (Like I'm Surprised)

Rachel Maddow has raised an interesting point about some of the most prominent of the Republican tea party politicians. Many people associated with the tea party Republicans have said repeatedly that their issues are fiscal, not cultural. Perhaps they should remind their standard bearers.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Yet Another Interesting Post by Ta-Nehisi Coates

I just noticed this interesting post over at Ta-Nehisi Coates blog over at The Atlantic.  I think that his question is an interesting one:  when there are no black people around to say one way or another, what would it take for a white person to call another white person a racist?  It is an interesting question.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

A Sad and Infuriating Bronx Tale

When I read the New York Times story about a group of men and boys who tortured and sodomized three men in the Bronx simply because they were gay, I was both horrified and pissed off.  If those reports prove to be correct, then those men were all chosen because they are gay.  They were tortured because they are gay.  At least one was sodomized with the handle of a plunger, and another with a baseball bat, because they were gay. 

Read the entire story, and pay attention to the lurid details of what happened to these men, simply because they were gay.

I am sure that for some, they will be groaning, because "Big Gay" will take on this issue and make demands, as they have, allegedly, with the recent suicides of young gay men.  Those groaning will have to suffer discussions about anti-gay bigotry and the like.  I am tired of this notion that simply telling what has happened has become tantamount to whining and claiming "victimhood."  Or perhaps this is what we should expect from straight soldiers should Don't Ask, Don't Tell gets repealed.  Perhaps they would be so bothered by the mere presence of the now able to be open gays in their midst, that the only logical thing to do would be to harass them, or worse.

Those three men were the victims of people who decided that because those men were gay they deserved to be beaten, tortured and sexually assaulted.  I wonder how many of them were raised being told how bad or evil gays are.  I wonder how many of them felt that gays were just too out there right now, and it made them uncomfortable just knowing that.  I hope those issues are raised as the community tries to "heal." 

When the Government and the Private Sector Both Do Bad Things

When I read that 18 million dollars in government stimulus related funds had been issued to dead people and some folks who were in jail, my first thought was that this would be solid evidence for those of us who want more efficient government.  I also thought that this would bolster the position of those who argue against government altogether (the "government is bad," unless it's doing something I need (Medicare/Social Security) types).  But in light of the mounting scandal with the private sector mortgage lending industry, I am glad that I waited to write anything.

I think that both of these stories are good examples of how both sides, those who advocate for greater government involvement and those who advocate for greater free market involvement, need to see and acknowledge the problems that can be inherent in their favored positions. 

It makes no sense that this money should have gone out from the government without a reasonable check on the status of the individual due to receive funds.  Now, I think that for those people who'd been incarcerated or who'd died fairly recently, there should be some leeway granted.  I mean if I sent a letter to someone, and they passed away before receiving it, I wouldn't find out about that until after the fact.  But, there certainly should be constant updates for things like this, and the government needs to be much better with regard to information sharing and developing better and more integrative systems, if only to prevent things like this from happening (and kudos to the people who have been returning the funds).

But for all of the people who would gleefully point out this bit of government ineffectiveness, I am bothered by the cavalier attitude that was taken by those in the private mortgage lending industry who were not bothering with their own protocols and kicking people out of their homes as a result.  Personally, I think that is more cold blooded than mistakenly sending out $250 checks to the wrong people.  The only saving grace on this side is that those who didn't do their jobs properly can be fired easily.  On the government side, not so much, and that should change.

I think that we can agree that most people want our government, even as it is right now, to be as efficient and effective as possible.  And I think we can agree that most people want the private sector to deal with consumers honestly, making sure that they are doing what they are supposed to do, and reassuring its customers.  It all just reminds me that we cannot have it all one way or another.  Our society requires both an efficient/effective government, as well as an honest private sector, because abuse from either side should not be tolerated by anyone.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Hip Hop Remembrances: The Good Girls

Sometimes I think that straight folks think that gays and lesbians are incapable of recognizing the beauty of the opposite sex that attracts them.  It simply isn't true, and my example is The Good Girls.  Not only was this Motown girl group pumping out hot new jack swing beats, they were also some of the most beautiful women (Shireen, Joyce and DeMonica) on the scene at that time.  If you want to know what some of the hot dances were as the 80s became the 90s, watch the video clips below.  I have to admit that I never understood why The Good Girls weren't bigger than they were.  Granted, they were not En Vogue in terms of vocal abilities, but they were a fun group, and definitely good music for a party.  I think that too many slept on these ladies.  Enjoy.

Friday, October 8, 2010

I Now Want to See the New Doc "Inside Job"

I read through the New York Times online almost daily (and getting a copy of the actual Sunday Times and reading it is just one of the simple pleasures in life for me), and I just finished reading A.O. Scott's review of a new documentary called "Inside Job."  According to the review, the film is a thorough examination of the multiple reasons that led to the economic collapse of 2008.  Sadly, I think Scott's comment at the end of his review will prove to be quite true:  "Its fate is likely to be that of other documentaries: praised in some quarters, nitpicked in others and shrugged off by those who need its message most. Which is a shame."

Thursday, October 7, 2010

A Small Victory for Homeowners in Foreclosure Trouble

I was very glad to see that President Obama decided not to sign the Interstate Recognition of Notarizations Act that would have made the foreclosure process for banks easier.  I think that something like this would have been rather innocuous under normal circumstances, but in light of the recent revelations that there have been all sorts of problems related to foreclosure processing, coupled with the continued problems with the administration's foreclosure relief program, the decision not to sign was the right one.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Is This a Bridge Too Far? II

If you recall, I did a post about the case surrounding the situation with Anwar al-Awlaki.  In that post, I relied heavily on postings written by Salon's Glenn Greenwald, and I agreed with many of the points he raised on the subject.  Now, Andrew Sullivan has offered a lengthy answer (following an earlier posting) to questions that Greenwald raised, and it makes for a fascinating read.  Sullivan also makes some really good and potentially, for me, persuasive points.  I strongly encourage the folks who read this blog to check both writers' positions on this fascinating subject.

I've decided not to focus on my position on this issue now, because I am currently re-reading the exchange.  But I did want to point out that this is what a discussion on politics and policy should look like between a liberal and a conservative.  In reading these posts, I am reminded of precisely what is missing in our political discourse:  substance.  And we are suffering from that loss.  Imagine our political leaders (though I think President Obama tries) having a substantive and actually informative discussion on issues.  What we get now is an assortment of empty rhetoric, pedantic talking points and meaningless sound bites.   

We need a real return to a discussion of issues in a substantive manner.  We need to force Americans legitimately interested in solving our many problems to step up to the intellectual (and civil) plate and play ball on a higher plane.  The Greenwald/Sullivan discussion can serve as a template.  What have we to lose by trying?

To All GLBT Youth, People in the Closet, and Those Serving in Silence, It Does Indeed Get Better

There have been five young men (Asher Brown-13, Raymond Chase-19, Tyler Clementi-18, Billy Lucas-15, and Seth Walsh-13) who were either gay or perceived to be gay who have committed suicide within the last month.  I could bring myself only to talk about Tyler Clementi's suicide on this blog, but I feel for the others as well, naturally.

In light of this tragic news, I am glad to see the effort that writer Dan Savage has started, the It Gets Better Project.  When I was a teenager suffering in silence, I wish there had been something like this around.  But that is neither here nor there.  I did what I had to do to live my life, and I was able to see for myself that it got better, that my life improved dramatically with regard to my sexual orientation as time passed.  This is a message that desperately needs as much publicity as possible.

I wish that the aforementioned young men had been able to have people in their lives who could have told them, and convinced them that it gets better.  Yes, it is difficult at times, but just keep living and learning and growing.  And this project, though directed at GLBT youth will also help those in the closet generally, and/or those serving in silence in the military. 

This project will save lives. and please remember that it gets better.

Let it Burn, Let it Burn, Let it Burn? II

I just thought that I would provide you all the plan that the Obion County, TN fire department presented to the county recently to help expand fire service to all county residents and abandon the subscription fee.  See here.  And the Obion County has just decided to expand the subscription service.

I will say that there is this resurgence in using the term "freeloader" of late, and frankly, it's bothersome.  The man was a past subscriber, and he forgot to pay this time around.  He offered to pay whatever price, and his neighbor, a subscriber, offered to do the same.  Add to that that the fire department had put out fires for non-subscribers in the past.  I think the phrase there but for the grace of God go I could be constructive here, and I am not terribly religious.  I also think that if you think that the homeowner who lost his home deserved to lose everything, including his pets, then it doesn't really help to say that you are sorry for his loss; it doesn't really seem like it.

Monday, October 4, 2010

In Jim DeMint's World

When I heard that South Carolina Senator Jim DeMint believed that people like me (gay) should be barred from the classroom (along with unwed mothers), I could not help but think of a comment that was left anonymously on this blog on the post related to Lawrence Summers departure.  Here is the part of the comment that is relevant to this post:  "Gays could live their lives in peace, but they see themselves as marginalized."

Now put that conservative's statement within the context of Jim DeMint's statement.  

Let it Burn, Let it Burn, Let it Burn?

When I read this post over at Think Progress this morning, I was a little bothered by what it meant broadly.  A Tennessee community offers, for a fee, access to its fire department for the rural communities within the county.  A family that did not pay the fee experienced a fire, and once the firefighters arrived, refused to put out the fire.  Theoretically, this quid pro quo works, as many folks (though not all) at the National Review pointed out.  And a part of me gets that.  I have subscriptions, and get access to things that non-subscribers do not.  Fine.  One problem I had with this is that the homeowner was willing to pay whatever he needed to get the firefighters, who were there watching the fire burn, to put out the fire, and he was still refused.  The homeowner was "too late."

That, to me, is a real flaw in that program.  Why not, in the case of an emergency, and with a person who is willing to pay, have something like an exorbitant emergency fee?  Instead of making a non-paying person suffer, especially with equipment that could help there in plain view, the loss of property, charge them a massive fee to do that work.  Of course, I am thinking of a person who can afford both a subscription and an emergency fee.  I wonder if this community offers graduated rates based on income so that you don't have people suffer solely based on their lack of a sufficient income, but that is another discussion altogether.

What if there had been someone trapped in the home?  That was the next thought that came to mind as the report noted that the firefighters stood and watched the fire (though they did work to put out the fire that spread into a neighbor's yard, a neighbor who had paid the subscription fee).  Would they still have done nothing?  I am still trying to figure out why the firefighters even came out.  If they knew that the neighbor was a subscriber when the fire spread to that other home, how could they not know that the burning home's owner was not on the list?  The fact that they came out, and simply watched the place burn seems particularly cruel (if you look at those comments from the NRO folks, they seem to mock the homeowner, which is utterly unnecessary).  Interestingly, I don't blame the firefighters; they were following policy (though I would not want to be any of them right now).

Ultimately, I just don't think that services like police and fire protection should be provided only for those who can afford it.  Those are things that should be provided through out tax dollars without question.

UPDATE (10/5/10):  Here is a clip from last night's Countdown with Keith Olbermann.  The interview with the homeowner answers some of my questions, and it sheds more light on the policy.

Christiane Amanpour's Town Hall on Whether Americans Should Fear Islam is Well Worth Watching

I am long time fan of Christiane Amanpour, and I often felt that she provided a level of journalistic objectivity that is sorely missing in the field today.  I've found myself watching "This Week" more often now that she is hosting the program, so I was thrilled to see that she hosted a town hall on Islam in America.  The show itself was both interesting and, in places, infuriating.  Yet, it's better to see an actual attempt at a discussion on this subject than not.

I strongly encourage readers of this blog to check out the rest of the program here.  The one thing that I found particularly interesting about those arguing that we should fear Islam is that when they were in the presence of "moderate" Muslims, they all but accused them of not being moderate. Isn't it silly then to call for moderates to step up to the plate when you've already convinced yourself that there is no such thing as a moderate Muslim? And one key point that I will concede is that it is true that some Muslims do advocate violence when they feel offended, in ways that no other major faith does. That needs to cease altogether, and I don't know if it's doctrine or a lack of maturity, but in a free society like the United States, a violent response to criticism or even mocking of faith is simply not acceptable.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Regarding Rick Sanchez: Sometimes You Just Keep Some Things to Yourself

As I type this, I am listening to the tail end of the interview that former CNN anchor Rick Sanchez had with comedian Pete Dominick (see below, h/t The Daily Dish) this past Thursday. Sanchez said a whole lot of things in this interview, and I give him credit for speaking his truth, but considering what he said throughout that interview regarding minorities and how they are perceived, he forgot the cardinal rule that I know I was taught: you save some things for yourself.

Sanchez was putting shit out in the street about his employers in public. You just don't do that, regardless of your demographic profile. I am sure that it pissed him off to no end to have a higher up at his network say that he should be a reporter instead of an anchor. That would piss me off too, for exactly the reasons Sanchez stated, but that is something you would tell your boy at the bar after work (and start keeping a written log of other slights that might have a racial or ethnic component to it just in case), not someone with a radio show.

There were times when Sanchez just sounded like a wounded soul, and there is certainly a sense of his resentment among various minorities regarding the seeming ease with which privileged whites (white men specifically) appear to glide from one opportunity to the next irrespective of actual merit sometimes (the very charge that they sometimes lay on a minority moving up in an organization). Why else would Sanchez, in criticizing Jon Stewart, bring up Stewart's parents' old jobs and presumed upper middle class upbringing? I do wonder if Sanchez feels the same way about the conservative elite as he does about the liberal elite, especially since both sets often share similar pedigrees. Perhaps Sanchez is just angry that more people felt that they could trust Jon Stewart more for veracity in the news than him. He will have to tell that story himself someday.

I did think that Sanchez's criticism of Fox News was spot on. Each time I've tuned into the network (and it's often painful to endure), there seems to be some aspect of that business model Sanchez described in the interview, a business model that has proven to be wildly successful for the network. 

Ultimately, what I thought was the beginning of a mildly amusing back and forth between Sanchez and Olbermann/Maddow/Stewart, simply became a more dramatic story with a surprise ending on Friday. I wish Sanchez good luck.

Adolescent Music Flashback: Five Star

There are many times when I wonder if my friends really remember the UK group Five Star, I know that I ended up with three of their tapes (and two replacement cds) before they fell off of the radar of sorts.  It was clear that the Jackson 5 was Five Star's model, and they definitely had some hot moves in their videos.  To my surprise, they didn't blow up like I thought they would.  I mean Five Star was actually talented, but if I remember, they were bigger in the UK than they were here in the U.S.  And I still remember running to the living room to tune into "Nick Rocks," because I knew that they would be playing the latest Five Star videos.  So here is a sample of what I saw on many of those mornings before school.  Enjoy.