Monthly Archives: June 2009

Some GOOD news for a change

Democrat Al Franken smiles as he meets the media at his house ...

Associated Press photo

Democratic U.S. Senator Al Franken of Minnesota smiles in Minneapolis today after his victory over Repugnican Norm Coleman was made final. Franken’s victory makes it possible for President Barack Obama to get his — America’s — agenda through the U.S. Senate filibuster-free. (Gee, remember that “permanent Repugnican majority”?)

I live in California, which is sinking like the Titanic these days — all that I can say to those morons who actually voted for Repugnican Arnold Schwarzenegger in the bullshit gubernatorial recall election in 2003 is that I told you so — so it’s nice to hear some good news for a change:

Democrat Al Franken officially made it to the U.S. Senate today after his Repugnican challenger Norm Coleman, who had been the incumbent in the U.S. Senate seat for Minnesota, finally conceded to Franken after the Minnesota Supreme Court unanimously ruled that Franken, not Coleman, should be seated in the U.S. Senate.

Coleman had urged Franken, for the good of Minnesota, to concede to him after the  first vote count had Coleman beating Franken by only 215 votes. With such a microscopic margin Franken was entitled to a recount, and the recount showed that Franken actually had won the November election by a 225-vote margin.

Suddenly the welfare of the people of Minnesota wasn’t as important as it was when Coleman initially had been declared the winner, because after the recount Coleman didn’t take his own advice and concede to Franken.

Sore Loserman Coleman instead dragged the fight out for months, during which time the people of Minnesota were down one senator in the U.S. Senate. Because Repugnicans are fucking hypocrites.

But now, Franken, as the 58th Democratic U.S. senator, along with two independent senators who usually vote with the Democrats, will be the actual help to the people of Minnesota and to all Americans that Coleman lied that he would be.

Good always wins out in the end. The Repugnicans can obstruct progress, and they do, but they can’t obstruct it forever.

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White House falls into wingnuts’ ‘legislating from the bench’ word trap?

So the Joe the Plumbers must be celebrating that today the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that white firefighters in Connecticut were the victims of unconstitutional, reverse discrimination. A bonus for the wingnuts is that in making its ruling, the Supreme Court reversed an appeals court decision in which Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor had joined.

Oh, please. Isn’t this the same right-wing U.S. Supreme Court that, 5-4, installed George W. Bush as president, even though the majority of American voters (nationwide and in the pivotal state of Florida) had voted for Al Gore? (Today’s aforementioned Supreme Court decision, as so many of them are these days, was 5-4…)

As far as affirmative action goes, I can argue either way. As a white male (a gay white male, but still a white male), I can’t say that I’d be thrilled to be passed over by a less qualified individual because that individual isn’t a white male. That doesn’t seem fair. At the same time, the stranglehold that white males have had on power in the United States isn’t fair, either.

There isn’t an easy solution that is fair to everyone involved.

The White House is saying that Sotomayor was only following legal precedent when she made her decision in the case involving the white firefighters, and that it is the Supreme Court Five, not Sotomayor, who have violated legal precedent. 

This proves, White House spokesman Robert Gibbs proclaimed today, that “There’s little political significance to whatever the [Supreme Court] decided today in terms of Judge Sotomayor except to render a fairly definitive opinion that she follows judicial precedent and that she doesn’t legislate from the bench.”

Yikes.

I’m not sure that the Obama administration’s parroting of the unelected Bush regime’s and the Repugnican’s “legislating from the bench” propaganda is such a good idea.

While I’m all for throwing the Repugnicans’ own shit right back into their faces, I’ve always had a problem with the Repugnicans’ “legislating from the bench” line.

Judges don’t legislate. They interpret existing legislation. When judges interpret existing legislation in a way that the wingnuts don’t like, the wingnuts call it “legislating from the bench.” (When judges interpret existing legislation in a way that the wingnuts do like, then, of course, the judges are just being great judges and most certainly are not “legislating from the bench.”)

Interpeting existing legislation is not always easy to do, because existing legislation often is fairly useless in changing times.

Same-sex marriage, for instance, is not an issue that the Founding Fathers felt they needed to deal with.

However, because the Founding Fathers were silent on the matter of same-sex marriage doesn’t mean that the prohibition of same-sex marriage is constitutional.

In fact, in their foresight, the Founding Fathers adopted the Ninth Amendment, which states:  “The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.”

We Americans are supposed to be all about freedom, yet the same wingnuts who can’t shut up about “freedom” are the very same ones who want to deny actual freedom to everyone but to themselves and their cohorts. Since the U.S. Constitution was written by rich white men, and thus the Constitution guarantees the rights of rich white men, and since the wingnuts want rule by stupid rich white men to continue indefinitely, the wingnuts term any modern deviation from the law of the days of the rule by rich white men as “legislating from the bench” — ignoring the Ninth Amendment, of course. 

No, it’s not “legislating from the bench,” it’s interpreting the law — which is necessary for the social, spiritual and legal evolution of the United States of America, which the evolution-denying wingnuts want to prevent at all costs, because they want to continue to try to drag us backasswards rather than to help move us forward.

The United States of America that I know and love is a United States of America in which liberty and justice for all actually means what it says. I envision the United States as a nation in which individual rights continue to expand. The wingnuts envision the United States as a nation in which time not only stands still, but in which time goes backasswards.

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Dr. Jesse to the rescue — again

Rev. Jesse Jackson, from left, and his son Rep. Jesse Jackson ...

Associated Press photo

Jesse Jackson, left, accompanied by his son, Illinois Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. (center), speaks to Joe Jackson, father of Michael Jackson, yesterday in Encino, a suburb of Los Angeles.

I used to respect Jesse Jackson.

I saw him once, in the late 1980s, when he came to my university as part of his tour for his seeking of the 1988 Democratic presidential nomination (which he lost to Michael Dukakis).

He excited me back then.

Not anymore.

I can’t call him “reverend” anymore, since he knocked up one of his staff members, who bore his child in 1999. Hey, that was between Jackson and his wife, but you can’t use the title of respect “reverend” after you knocked up your employee.

Then, Jackson, who I didn’t know went to medical school, injected himself into the Terri Schiavo debacle in March 2005, which I wrote about at the time. Terminating Schiavo’s feeding tube was tantamount to murder, a crusading Dr. Jackson proclaimed, but Schiavo’s autopsy confirmed what neurologists already had confirmed: Schiavo’s brain damage was such that no, there never was any chance that she ever would come back, but that she always would remain a vegetable (or, as we used to call them in my nursing days, a gork).

Now, Jackson, a spotlight whore, has injected himself into the death of Michael Jackson (no relation, I’m pretty sure). Here he is below, surrounded by members of the media outside of the home of Michael Jackson’s family in Encino, a suburb of Los Angeles, yesterday:

The Rev Jesse Jackson address the media outside the family home ...

Associated Press photo

Dr. Jackson, because he is such a medical authority, insists that a second autopsy is necessary in order to rule out foul play in Michael Jackson’s death; the first autopsy, conducted by Los Angeles County, apparently wasn’t good enough, and so now a second, private autopsy is necessary, you see.

“It’s abnormal,” Jackson told the The Associated Press today after he visited with the Jackson family. “We don’t know what happened. Was he injected and with what? All reasonable doubt should be addressed.”

This is what the once-respectable Jesse Jackson has been reduced to: being a media whore over other people’s misfortunes, injecting himself into a family fight as to whether or not a brain-dead woman should be allowed to die a natural death and injecting himself into the unexpected death of Michael Jackson.

Jesse Jackson, like Michael Jackson, should have quit while he was ahead.

Michael Jackson, unfortunately, probably will be remembered more for the sad and pathetic latter portion of his life than for his accomplishments, and, I suspect, so will Jesse Jackson.

P.S. I should add that actually, Jesse Jackson has a long history of using others’ misfortunes for his own personal/political gain. Notes Wikipedia:

When [Martin Luther King Jr.] was assassinated on April 4, 1968, in Memphis, Tennesee, the day after his famous “I’ve been to the mountaintop” speech at the Mason Temple, Jackson was in the parking lot one floor below.

Jackson’s appearance on NBC’s “Today Show,” wearing the same [MLK-]blood-stained turtleneck that he had worn the day before, drew criticism from several King aides; some King associates also dispute Jackson’s description of his personal involvement and also of the sequence of events surrounding the assassination.

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On the death of Michael Jackson

I don’t really have anything to say about the unexpected death of Michael Jackson yesterday at age 50 that hasn’t already been said everywhere else except that it’s rather sad that he very apparently believed that the Anglo look was the gold standard of beauty.

I mean, he went from this:

Michael Jackson, from his days as part of The Jackson 5, poses ...

Reuters photo (undated)

— a fine-looking boy — to this:

REFILE - ADDITIONAL CAPTION INFORMATION  U.S. pop star Michael ...

Reuters photo (taken March 2009)

Had Jackson lived to continue his facial evolution, I guess that eventually he would have looked something like this:

But seriously, take it from this blue-eyed, thin-lipped, pinched-nosed Anglo that really, you are beautiful just the way you are. (I’ve said that before and I’m saying it again.)

Don’t be a Michael Jackson. At least where your face is concerned.

P.S. I see that now some more thoughtful and more analytical news pieces regarding Michael Jackson are coming out, now that the initial shock that he died has passed.

This piece, although perhaps a bit morbid, makes the case that Jackson is probably worth more dead than he was alive; his California homestead, Neverland, is anticipated to become a tourist attraction like Elvis Presley’s Graceland.

This piece talks about Jackson’s issues with race, noting that Jackson’s 1991 hit “Black or White” (probably my favorite song [and music video] of his) seemingly was a personal statement, and quoting an associate of Jackson as having said that if Jackson could have done it over again, he probably wouldn’t have changed his appearance so drastically over the years…

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In defense of non-monogamy

South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford tearfully admitted to having ...

Associated Press photo

A teary-eyed South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford (top) and a teary-eyed Jimmy Swaggart. These wingnuts are assbites, to be sure, but could it be that monogamy is a tall order for most men — and that it isn’t their fault?

As much as I love to see the downfall of any Repugnican hypocrite (that’s pretty much redundant, Repugnican hypocrite…), I can’t say that I have been relishing (much) the latest Repugnican infidelity scandal, that of South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford.

The biggest problem that I have with Sanford, whom I know of only because he jumped upon the “Obama’s economic stimulus plan = (gasp!) socialism!” bandwagon, is that he didn’t decide to remain in Argentina with his mistress.

But seriously, to me the larger question — seriously — is whether or not the human male, straight or gay, is meant to be monogamous.

My understanding of primatology, or at least of mammalogy, is that it’s biologically advantageous, and thus more or less innate, for a testosterone-driven male to spread his seed, so to speak, as widely as possible, while it is the estrogren-driven female who desires the stability of monogamy, since she is the primary caretaker of the offspring, if for no other reason than that it is the female who lactates.

(Yes, with non-heterosexual and transgendered individuals things can be different, but most gay men I know seem to be at least as sexually adventurous as are straight males. What gay and straight men do have in common is testosterone, and even though gay men cannot reproduce, of course, as Harvey Milk is quoted [accurately or not] as having said in the film “Milk,” we sure keep trying!)

Why do we human beings think that we are exempt from biology? Many if not most Americans will even argue that humans aren’t animals, they’re humans, although any biologist or zoologist will tell you that yes, of course humans are animals as they define the term “animal.”

So while I’m perfectly ready and willing to condemn Sanford for having raked Bill Clinton over the coals for Clinton’s infidelity when Sanford was a U.S. representative, I don’t know that I’m ready to condemn Sanford for his own infidelity when I surmise that monogamy is not natural to many if not most human males.

If monogamy were innate, why, then, does it fail so often?

Monogamy, I surmise, is a societal creation, not a biological reality for many if not most human males (and perhaps not for many human females, either), and to shame and condemn anyone for something that is biological, for something that is innate — like homosexuality — is potentially to make someone feel awful about himself or herself about something that is beyond his or her control.

So yes, let’s criticize the Repugnicans for their idiocy and their hypocrisy and for their frequently treasonous behavior, but we need to examine this monogamy thing more closely before we condemn any male who finds monogamy to be challenging if not impossible.

My boyfriend, of course, wholly disagrees with me on this…

P.S. An Associated Press piece titled “Analysis: Why Do Politicians Cheat?” — credited to all-female writers — typically wholly overlooks the biological aspects of infidelity/non-monogamy.

My guess is that most people take social conventions as givens, as reality, and don’t even question them. A great number of people are too afraid (and/or lazy), I think, to reconsider, much more to actively challenge, the worldview that they’ve been spoon-fed, including the societal belief that a man should be happy with one mate until death does him part, and that if this doesn’t work for him, then he is defective and/or sinful.

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The Repugnicans may go to Iran and join the struggle for freedom there

A screen grab taken from a video posted on YouTube, allegedly ...

A screen grab taken on June 21 from a video posted on YouTube ...

AFP images

These are YouTube video grabs of a young Iranian woman reportedly named Neda, who reportedly was shot to death in the chest during a protest in Tehran on Saturday. Hopefully the Repugnicans and other warhawks won’t try to use such tragedies as Neda’s death as an excuse to push the United States, which already teeters on the brink of Repugnican-induced collapse, into yet another war in the Middle East for the benefit of the war profiteers, such as Dick Cheney’s Halliburton. 

Iran is a bloody mess, to be sure.

At least 17 Iranians reportedly have been killed while protesting against Iran’s old guard in the aftermath of the nation’s June 12 presidential election, which the protesters claim the old guard rigged in order to keep hardliner President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in power.

The Repugnicans — yes, the same bunch of traitors who mired us in the illegal, immoral, unprovoked and unjust Vietraq War — unsurprisingly are clamoring that the Obama administration isn’t doing enough about the current turmoil in Iran.  

The images coming out of Tehran indeed are heartbreaking, such as the images of the apparent shooting death of a young Iranian woman, who, it appears, has become sort of a martyr even though it’s not clear who shot her, whether she was shot by a member of the Iranian old guard or whether she even was killed by friendly fire.

It would be wonderful to see the Iranians free.

It also would be wonderful to see the Tibetans and the Chinese free from Chinese totalitarianism, too, but why aren’t the Repugnicans and the other warhawks clamoring for us to free Tibet and China? And Saudi Arabia from its oppressive monarchy, while we’re at it?

There are many nations around the world that aren’t free (don’t make me Google that fact), and the United States of America cannot free them all.

“Team America: World Police” is just a movie.

Fact is, during the eight long nightmarish years of rule by the unelected Bush regime, the Repugnicans put the United States of America into its weakest state at least during my four decades on the planet.

The United States, rotting from within like the ancient Roman Empire did, still teeters on collapse, but the Repugnican traitors (that’s redundant) apparently want us to put even more resources that we don’t have into yet another fucking war in the Middle East.

The Repugnicans need to sit the fuck down and shut the fuck up. They lost the election of November 2008 and they need to start acting like the losers that they are.

The United States of America still needs to recover from the grave wounds that the unelected, lawless Bush regime inflicted upon it. As tragic as the theocratic, totalitarian oppression of the Iranian people is, now is not the time for the United States, which is on life support, to go meddling in the Middle East even more.

If the Repugnicans feel so strongly about launching Operation Iranian Liberation (that’s OIL for short), I invite them to take the next boat or plane to Iran and join in the struggle for freedom there.

But not a single member of our military goes to Iran to die for the Repugnicans’ business interests in Iran, as more than 4,300 of them already have in Vietraq, and not one American taxpayer’s penny goes to OIL, serving only to make the treasonous plutocrats of the Repugnican Party even more filthy rich at the expense of the Iranian people and at the expense of the good of the United States of America.

P.S. This Los Angeles Times piece identifies Neda as 26-year-old Iranian Neda Agha Soltan.

The more you read about Neda, the more tragic her death strikes you, but I think it’s important that we not allow our emotions to overrule sound judgment where foreign relations are concerned.

Many apparently well-meaning individuals, such as Peter Daou on the Huffington Post, are being critical of the Obama administration for supposedly not doing enough about what’s going on in Iran, but these critics, like Daou, aren’t offering up any actual workable solutions, just criticism.

Iran is a mess right now, but there is not much that the United States can do about it.

Maybe, had the unelected Bush regime not incredibly retardedly named Iran as among the “Axis of Evil” in 2002, the United States could do more right now than it can…

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‘The gay ATM ran dry’

I and millions of other non-heterosexuals won’t give President Barack Obama or the Democrats another fucking pink penny until they follow through on their campaign promises and stop taking us for pansies who will bend over and take it perpetually. We’re beyond sick and fucking tired of being treated like a pink ATM.

I don’t usually regurgitate others’ work in its entirety, but this piece by gay blogger John Aravosis (via Salon.com), titled “President Obama Betrays the Gay Community,” is worth regurging in its entirety (links are Aravosis’); I agree with every word of it. As I wrote back in December, I regretted my vote for Obama even before he took office.

Team Obama keeps telling lesbian and gay Americans like me to be patient. If we just wait a little longer, administration officials whisper to us lovingly (and out of earshot of the media), after the White House finishes with healthcare reform and getting the troops out of Iraq, your time will come. In the meantime, cheer up — we put a gay band in the inaugural parade!

Everyone loves a parade, but we don’t like being betrayed. And while gay and lesbian Americans were initially willing to cut our new president some slack, the president’s now-clear reticence to follow through on even one of his many campaign promises to the gay community has put the Democratic Party on the precipice of an ugly and very public divorce with this once-solid constituency.

During the presidential primaries, then-candidate Obama promoted himself as the biggest defender of gay rights since Harvey Milk. He would be a “fierce advocate” for our rights, he promised, and he even out-gayed Hillary Clinton: telling gay and lesbian voters that while she was for a partial repeal of the so-called Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), he’d get rid of the whole damn thing.

And there was much rejoicing.

Then, not so much.

About a year before the November election, primary challenger Obama invited Donnie McClurkin, a homophobic gospel singer who claims to have been “cured” of his own homosexuality, to lead a series of concerts in the South in order to woo the black vote. The gays were not amused, but candidate Obama held firm.

The gays forgave the Big O until a year later, when then-President-elect Obama chose evangelical preacher (and well-known homophobe) Rick Warren to give the inaugural prayer. Again, the gays expressed their ire, Obama wouldn’t budge, and his advisors continued to whisper sweet nothings in our ears about how glorious the future would be once Dear Leader was finally in office.

But a funny thing happened on the way to equality. Rather than clouds opening up and angels descending from on high, Barack Obama became president and things never got better for the gays. In fact, they got decidedly worse.

On taking office, Obama immediately announced that he was doing away with the Clinton-era concept of special assistants who served as liaisons to various communities like gays and Latinos. He then went ahead and appointed special liaisons to some of those communities anyway, but never to the gays.

Around the same time, the White House website, once detailing half a page of presidential promises to the gay community, overnight saw those pledges shortened to three simple sentences. Gone were five of the eight previous commitments, including the promises to repeal both Don’t Ask Don’t Tell and DOMA.

Adding to a growing sense of angst, senior White House officials kept telling the media that they weren’t sure when, if ever, the president would follow through on his promises to the gay community.

Then there were the Cabinet appointees. Three Latino nominees but nary a gay in sight.

And finally, last week our president had his Department of Justice file a brief in defense of DOMA, a law he had once called “abhorrent.” In that brief, filed on the 42nd anniversary of the Supreme Court ruling in Loving v. Virginia (which outlawed bans on interracial marriage), our own interracial Harvey Milk, not lacking a sense of historical irony, compared our love to incest and pedophilia.

Shit, meet fan.

Tonight, President Fierce will try to make amends by signing either a memorandum, a directive or an executive order, directing some federal agencies, but not others, to provide some benefits, but not others, to some gay federal employees, but not others, at some undisclosed time in the future. (And the benefits may reportedly go away when Obama leaves office.)

First problem, federal agencies already have the right to provide these benefits to gay employees — and several, including at least one DOD agency, do. Second problem, the administration can’t tell us exactly which benefits they’re talking about and for which employees.

That’s because this was all hastily thrown together after the incestuous and pedophilic gays nearly brought down a Democratic National Committee gay pride fundraiser scheduled for next week. A gay blogger got hold of the event’s guest list and published it, and once D.C.’s gay paper, the Washington Blade, announced that it would be staking out the entrance to the event with camera and video, the $1,000-a-head attendees started dropping like flies.

In other words, the only reason we’re getting anything: The gay ATM ran dry.

Don’t get me wrong. Some federal employees getting some benefits at some future point is definitely something. But it’s not an answer to why this president directed his Department of Justice to defend a law he previously opposed when he didn’t have to. It doesn’t explain why the DOMA brief linked a key Democratic constituency to pedophilia and incest. Or why this president has already overseen the discharge of 253 gay service members, and has refused to issue a stop-loss order ceasing those discharges. Or why he won’t lift a finger to push Congress to repeal Don’t Ask Don’t Tell.

The president would like us to believe that he’s awfully busy being president, and if we only wait a little while longer, we’ll get our rights. Of course, the president isn’t too busy to stab the community in the back by continuing the military discharges, defending DOMA, and comparing us to pedophiles. (On Wednesday, White House spokesperson Robert Gibbs was given a chance to repudiate the DOMA brief’s language about incest and pedophilia and would not.)

When, Mr. President, will be a good time to set my people free? When will the leader of the free world get a breather, a presidential timeout as it were? (And I thought this was the administration that could walk and chew gum at the same time.)

Are we really to believe that 2010, a congressional election year, will be any more timely than today? Or 2011, the beginning of the presidential primaries? Or 2012, with a congressional and presidential election? There is quite literally no time like the present.

The real problem is that Team Obama is stuck in 1993. Perhaps some advisor has convinced our once-fierce advocate that gay rights is the third rail of presidential politics. Just look at what happened to President Clinton 16 years ago when he tried to help the gays, the insider is likely warning.

But 2009 is not 1993. Sixty-seven percent of Americans now favor granting same-sex couples the right to marry or join in civil unions. Sixty-nine percent support letting openly gay men and lesbian women serve in our military, including a majority of Republicans (58 percent), conservatives (58 percent), and even churchgoers (60 percent). And an overwhelming number of Americans have long since supported passing legislation banning job discrimination against gays.

The controversy is in President Obama’s mind — at least it was until it became real and moved to the Democratic Party’s pocketbook.

What can the president do to avoid outright rupture with the gay community? He needs to start fulfilling his campaign promises — even one would be a nice start. He needs to stop the discharges, and stop the Falwellian legal briefs in support of a policy he opposes. He needs to push — really push — for legislation banning job discrimination, repealing DOMA, and lifting Don’t Ask Don’t Tell.

Many of us were willing to cut our new president some slack. Not anymore.

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