Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Anderson take down!!

Anderson Cooper is great. He always has hacks on who know nothing, but they're generally important hacks because they represent hackery-at-large. What I mean by that is, the people he has on who are cooks are generally accepted as non-cooks by their base. He then has them on, eviscerates their arguments in a calm, clear manner, and does so simply by stating facts. Here he takes down a Texas State Representative who, along with Palin, Bachmann and others, seems to get his information mainly from email forwards. Anderson takes him down, point by point, and makes him look idiotic. Sure, it might not sway the people who agree with him, but at least it reassures me that there are SOME people who understand facts are important.

Here's the video:

I particularly like when he says, "Sir, that's just an internet rumor that you're spreading." The Representative says, after a pause, "um...no it's not." Ha ha, classic!

Kamala Harris!!

She is my new Attorney General! She declared victory today and California will see a continued era of leadership from the position of "top cop". Her credentials are sterling, her intellect is intimidating, and her future is bright. Her transition team includes:
former L.A.P.D. Chief Bill Bratton, criminal justice reformer Connie Rice, and former Secretaries of State Warren Christopher and George Shultz...
This is, I believe, barring any ridiculous corruption or something out of the blue, the beginning of what will be a quick rise to even larger prominence.

What's in a name??

Democratic politicians in the South have been defecting to the Republican party exacerbating the losses of NOV 2. While this sounds bad, on its face, for Democrats, I really don't care. After all, Democrats are served well by losing people who say things like:
Democrats have now become the party of the [Atlanta] metro area and of blacks. That’s not to be derogatory. It’s just what it is.
to the other party. The South can continue to vote against its economic and political interests in favor of divisive social issues which they will lose in the long run. While doing so, they will condemn the Republican party to irrelevance and force it to reevaluate. We may see a resurgence of Conservativism despite Republicanism, if all goes well. Until then, I say good riddance to those who would abandon their party to get a coveted R after their names and look forward to the rise of a new Democratic Party in the South and a new Conservative party everywhere else.

environmental "expert"

Phyllis Schlafly, better known as a conservative columnist who often supports the losing side in culture wars, has thrown her weight behind often derided and incredibly ignorant SEN Inhofe of Oklahoma. Calling him the "Senate's environmentalism expert", she derides the Environmental Protection Agency for creating stricter standards for factories and power plants which release, "100,000 tons or more of carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, hydrofluorocarbons, perfluorocarbons or sulfur hexafluoride."

The funny part is, even after writing that list of unpronounceable chemicals that no sane person would want to inhale, she immediately goes into an argument AGAINST regulating said chemicals. This was all done in an article generally deriding anything the Obama administration has accomplished with very little in the way of suggestions or otherwise of how to move forward.

But, governing has never been a strong point of people like her, unless it's in the bedroom. But, at least she was upfront an honest that she doesn't think the above mentioned chemicals are dangerous. If she wants more of them in her life, maybe she can move to Love Canal? Until then, I'm perfectly happy with the Environmental Protection Agency protecting, you know, the environment.

random musings on a long, boring day

A long day at work always produces rambling lists of stuff I'm reading. This begins....NOW:

  1. Best quote about Wikileaks I've read yet:
    Just as the modern right requires frequent reminders that prior to Europe's liberalism and America's New Dealism life was for many a living hell utterly without safety nets, the modern left needs reminding that not all national security measures are a "military-industrial" scam.
    PM Carpenter.
  2. Joe Scarborough finally speaks truth to...I don't even want to call her "power"...so speaks truth to self-perpetuating fame:
    I am offended by Palin’s attempt to build herself up by tearing down great men like Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush.

    Palin is not a stupid woman. But like the current president, she still does not know what she does not know. And she does know how to make millions of dollars, even if she embarrasses herself while doing it.

    That reality hardly makes Palin unique, but this is one Republican who would prefer that the former half-term governor promote her reality shows and hawk her books without demeaning the reputations of Presidents Reagan and Bush. These great men dedicated their lives to public service and are too good to be fodder for her gaudy circus sideshow.

    If Republicans want to embrace Palin as a cultural icon whose anti-intellectualism fulfills a base political need, then have at it. I suppose it’s cheaper than therapy.

    But if the party of Ronald Reagan, Paul Ryan and Marco Rubio wants to return to the White House anytime soon, it’s time that Republican leaders started standing up and speaking the truth to Palin.
  3. SEN Ben Nelson (worth mentioning he's a Democrat) said the following about the DREAM Act:
    I’m not going to support any act that I don’t think adds to jobs, or military or to the economy. Consequently I won’t support any motion to proceed or any kind of cloture on the DREAM Act.
    It seems clear to me that the DREAM Act would help the military as well as the economy. By legalizing immigrants who are here illegally (brought as children under the age of 18), we create further incentive for people to join the military, help to integrate marginalized people, spur further assimilation of immigrants and their families and help to broaden the tax-base. To deny that the DREAM Act is related to these issues is incredibly short sighted. Apparently if something isn't in the name of the Act itself, SEN Nelson can't see the connection.

    Luckily, a member of the White House sees this obstruction (which is mainly Republican, even with defector Senators like Nelson) and said the following:
    This is about accountability, not amnesty. It will take a few Republicans to get this through Congress, but they have to realize we can’t keep kicking the can down the road. They have to help govern and to solve some of the problems.
  4. I'm hesitant to post this, because a good friend of mine is involved with the making of the video as well as deeply involved with the group the video promotes. But, I saw the video and had a rather negative reaction to it. While I will admit the guy on the right can dance pretty well (the guy on the left, unfortunately, not as well--better than me probably, but not as well as the other guy), what I could not shake was the genuine distaste for this kind of advertisement.

    Watch the video and try to guess what it is the video is promoting. Is it a bar? A club? A game show? No. It's Church! Now, I can understand the need to draw a new crowd--the point is to get people in and then get them to God, but seriously? A "money machine"? I'm not sure what it is, but something seems entirely too...too...money-changers about luring people to church with a "money machine" for me to be comfortable.

That's it for now kids. I'll probably be posting a lot come the next few days as work is slow...I apologize to those of you who are annoyed by my all-too-frequent posting, but hey, you can always click the little "x" box that says to hide me...right?

double your donations!

Chris Hughes, a co-founder of facebook, and his partner have pledged to match donations, up to 25k, for four marriage equality groups. If you ever thought about donating, even five dollars, now is the time, because your donation will be doubled!

Monday, November 29, 2010

so rare...and yet so scary

It's so rare a politician can simultaneously do the following in 120 characters or less:
  1. plug her book
  2. display her ignorance
  3. manage to GAIN support
But I'm guessing Palin's latest "tweet" does just that. First, I find it ridiculous the most we know about what a possible Presidential candidate thinks is what she can fit into 120 characters or less. But that's beside the point. What is "on point" is her use of the word "treason" in reference to someone who isn't American posting something on a non-American hosted website.

Do I agree with the publican? No. Is it treasonous? Not unless you're referring to the actual release of the documents by the American 22 yr old "real American" Soldier who stole them. If, however, she is referring to the recent publishing of the documents, then no, it is not treasonous by any understanding of the word.

She does manage to dilute a complex situation into a completely unrecognizable and artificial simile as per usual, while leaving out details which would make even her contrived parallel false. When saying she "stopped" the leak of her book, what she really did was post-facto get websites to remove leaked portions. So, her book WAS still leaked, the only difference is it was leaked by people who operate within the US system so she had recourse to stop them.

Beside the point, however, as people who love her love her precisely BECAUSE she's so simple and ignorant. Pathetic...but scary at the same time.

I guess I'm to believe by her tweets that she'd have stopped the economic crisis by cutting taxes, stopped the oil spill by somehow stopping the flow herself, stopped the Israeli/Palestinian crisis by hastening the second coming, stood up to the "lamestream" biased media by only appearing on FOX News where she's a paid commentator and also somehow stopped the wikileaks fiasco by charging a foreigner with treason. It all stands to reason in bizzaro-world though.

START treaty--the triumph of politics over policy

I have often written that policy is suffering at the feet of politics.

The START treaty, or the failure to ratify it, may go down as the ultimate example of this. What SEC Clinton and the Obama Administration have done in negotiating this treaty has been, or should be, one of the most important things in the recent history of the United States in securing our freedom and protecting the future from nuclear annihilation.

Passage of the START treaty, however, is unsure. Not because of some grand issue with the content of the treaty, nor because of any disagreement with any particular part of it (at least, not on behalf of a majority of Senators required to pass it), but because of blatant political considerations.

You see, the Republicans, vowing to not allow a victory for Obama and his administration, did not want to vote on START. SEN Kyl, of Arizona, was the GOP's point man for negotiating the treaty and, despite his Tea Party credentials and vows to fight earmarks, gained over 80 BILLION dollars of earmarks in the START Treaty to pacify Senators from states where new projects would go. Now, after basically bending over backwards to pacify Republicans to get the votes to ratify a treaty (that is supported by EVERY living Secretary of State and which builds upon a treaty ratified in 1992 with 93 Senators voting for it), SEN Kyl is saying...

No. No vote on START. Why? Because he says there's not enough time for debate. Apparently it takes two weeks to debate START...why? There's no good reason for it other than political posturing. Republicans have successfully threatened to filibuster enough bills in Congress that during lame duck, Harry Reid will have to try to push through:
  1. START treaty (reducing nuclear arms)
  2. DREAM act (allowing for citizenship based upon military service of college)
  3. repealing Don't Ask/Don't Tell
  4. extending Bush Tax Cuts (let's not kid ourselves...allowing them to expire isn't a tax increase, it's simply a return to normal, despite people claiming otherwise)
So, Reid will have to pick and choose his battles, losing one or more of the above, all of which Republicans (not en mass, but enough to gain at least 3 to avoid a filibuster) say are good policy, but would be bad politics (for them) if they passed under the Obama administration.

Can you imagine your parents acting this way? It's like a divorced couple telling their kid, "I know you need a liver transplant AND chemotherapy, but I don't want your FATHER getting credit...so I'll only support one, and he'll have to choose which. Then, when you die, I'll blame him for not getting you the other."

Yep. It's just like that folks. Politicians playing chess with our country. Only, when one of them calls "check-mate"...WE lose.

military "expertise"

I just read in an article that:
Graham is, by virtue of the fact that he has served in the military (as a JAG lawyer), widely considered a leading GOP spokesman on defense matters.
Now, here is where journalists and the general public's lack of understanding about the military comes into play. You see, statements like this seem perfectly logical: SEN Graham was in the military, so he's obviously knowledgeable about military issues. Right?

Wrong. You see, for those of you who don't know, JAG Lawyers, while in the military, are not "Soldiers" in any usual sense of the word. The idea that by being a JAG lawyer, one has special insight into the workings of Soldiers' minds is basically ridiculous. JAG lawyers, while I have nothing but respect for them and wanted to be one myself, will never be "down with the Soldiers". They will always be far, far from the "front lines". Why is this important? Because to rely upon Graham's experience as a JAG lawyer to make arguments about sleeping arrangements and showering conditions (the usual arguments brought up against repealing Don't Ask/Don't Tell) is a bit like arguing that Senator Boxer is probably the best person to address issues of Gang Violence because she was born in Brooklyn.

What's my point? Simply that the lack of military experience in general society makes damn near ANYONE who has ever put on a uniform some sort of "military expert" now. Take a look at the news and see how many "retired" Majors or Captains, or even Lieutenant Colonel's for that matter, who opine about the state of international relations, current military operations or Don't Ask/Don't Tell. Why do you think none of the news commentators ever ask what it was they DID in the military? Odds are, it was completely un-related.

I guess my point is, just because someone was in the military doesn't mean you have to take his or her opinion about things at face value as some sort of "expert". This doesn't just go for those who are opposed to DA/DT either, there are people on the other side of the fence who are the same.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

last night

Someone said, in all seriousness, that he thought I'd like Palin. He was surprised I did not. He then went on to explain that he thought she'd be a good President because she'd pick good advisers.

I pointed out that it's already clear she doesn't pick good advisers because 1. you can see who she's picked and they're not intelligent or experts at anything and 2. her performance during the debate and the election in general through now have shown no marked improvement of understanding the issues.

He told me, and again, this was serious, "She doesn't HAVE to know anything. That's why she's smart."

I should point out that this gentleman is a fairly moderate, gay man.

Now, if people like this guy buy into this "less is more" crap when it comes to intelligence and knowledge, then how do we win? When someone's prime qualification is LACK of qualification, how do we win? Have we become, as a country, so backwards that we're actually looking for a leader that makes us appear smarter in comparison? Have we taken down the pedestal because instead of giving us something to aspire to, it reminds us of our own failings so instead we (mixing metaphors) lower the bar and call ourselves successes?

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

reframe the debate

Progressives constantly lose the battle to frame the debate. Hell, even the term "progressive" is one that was coined because conservatives had made "liberal" a dirty word, so we started calling ourselves progressives. It's really not a new thing, that's why on the liberal side, the terms used in the abortion debate are "pro choice vs. anti choice" and "pro life vs. pro abortion" on the conservative side.

Anyone following the debate about equality for gays and lesbians has seen this on numerous fronts. This is the reason we have a debate about "gay marriage" instead of about "marriage equality". It is the reason we continue to allow people to refer to heterosexuals being married as "traditional marriage". If I were to frame the debate, I would use the terms "marriage equality vs. exclusionary marriage". Why? Because that's what foes of inclusion are arguing for. They're not arguing to "protect" anything, they're simply arguing to keep group X from enjoying the benefits of it.

Look, for example, at the National Organization for Marriage, whose sole purpose is to PREVENT people from being married. They are actively raising millions of dollars to spend in Illinois to exclude a group from being married. In their press release, they write,
This dangerous bill would create same-sex marriage by another name – extending to same-sex couples all ‘the same legal obligations, responsibilities, protections, and benefits of marriage.
I don't even need to point out how it is the OPPOSITE of dangerous to push people into relationships where they have "obligations, responsibilities, protections and benefits"...hell, there was a time when Conservatives actually believed those things were GOOD for people. So it's a group entirely devoted to excluding people from obligation and responsibility, but it's called the "National Organization FOR Marriage"...explain that one to me?

So, you see, it is all about how we frame it. So, from now on, I won't discuss "gay marriage". I'll only discuss "marriage" or "marriage equality" or, if I'm feeling particularly angry, I'll refer to "exclusionary marriage". Feel free to join me.

On a semi-related note, conservative Catholics are jumping through their collective asses right now to run damage control on the Pope's statement that a person is less morally wrong using a condom when having sex if he has AIDS than not using one.

Of course this seems obvious to the rest of us, but that's because the rest of us, who aren't still living with 15th century sexual morality, aren't the ones trying to fit a square peg into a...hell, a round hole doesn't even get across the absurdity of claiming condoms are immoral and SPREAD AIDS. Maybe...a square peg into a dime-slot machine?

Birthright Citizenship...

The recent elections showed nothing if not that Americans are generally dissatisfied with the state of the economy. Immediately after the elections, Marco Rubio, Senator Elect from Florida, said the following during his acceptance speech:
we make a grave mistake if we believe that tonight these results are somehow an embrace of the Republican Party.
So, you'd think Republicans would focus not on divisive social issues, but on the economy.

No such luck. What's first on the agenda? From McClatchy News:
As one of its first acts, the new Congress will consider denying citizenship to the children of illegal immigrants who are born in the United States.

You would think this is blatantly unconstitutional, considering the 14th Amendment guarantees citizenship to anyone born into the United States. Currently, most of Europe has citizenship laws similar to that which some Republicans are now pushing for--that only the children of current citizens are granted citizenship, and look at how well that's worked out.

You see, America is based upon a system wherein we assimilate people with differences, draw upon their strengths and help to build an ever greater union. By creating two classes of Americans (those whose parents are American and those who are not) we do nothing to help new arrivals assimilate and instead create an entire class of people who are denizens of the United States, but have no buy-in to the system. Remember the riots in the outskirts of Paris by the Arab under-class? Many of them grew up in France, but were not French citizens because their parents weren't both French. Look how well that worked.

This effort to undermine the fourteenth amendment would be less offensive if it were coupled with an actual plan of how to reform our immigration policy. However, there is nothing that is being forwarded to actually change the laws to make it easier for children of immigrants to become citizens.

SEN Reid has committed to bringing the DREAM Act to the floor as a stand alone bill during Lame Duck. This Bill would grant citizenship to children brought illegally to the US as children if they complete College or enlist in the military for a defined period of time. It will be interesting to see how supporters of repealing birthright citizenship vote on this ACT. If being an American is no longer a function of birth, nor of accomplishment (college) or dedication to the country (military service), then what is it a function of?

In all fairness, I should state this issue holds more than academic interest for me. My mother's parents were illegal immigrants. Were this law to pass, my mother would be illegal, and as such, I imagine, so would I. My father, while from the Philippines, came across legally. So what would we, as a country, be missing out on were we to make the children of illegal immigrants non-citizens? A Doctor, a Lawyer, a West Point graduate and decades of military service. And this, all within the first generation.

But hey, we're all just sitting around waiting for our dole of government cheese right?

Monday, November 22, 2010

What I'm reading...

I'm reading my blogs and, as always, have reactions to share. A lot of random stuff today, and entirely too many articles about Sara Palin. Seriously, between her and her daughter on Dancing With the Stars (um, since when has getting pregnant early and being the daughter of a one-time VP nominee made one a "star"?) I have had entirely too much Palin for a lifetime, let alone a night.

In any case, what am I reading?
  1. Joe Miller, the Tea Party crazy who won the Republican nomination for Senate in Alaska is calling for a full re-count of all ballots in the state. This wouldn't be too terrible a thing if the intent was to ensure full enfranchisement of all voters, or if he had a chance of winning. The thing is, numerically speaking, he can't. The number of ballots he wants thrown out are still over 2,000 shy of catching Murkowski. It's a quixotic attempt to become a Senator and a waste of Alaska's money.
  2. Sharon Angle, another failed Tea Party candidate (this time in Nevada) took a page out of Palin's playbook (I know, after saying I'd heard too much of the dirty-P-word, I wrote it) and decided that some people aren't real-Americans. Where does she draw the line? Around urban areas. Here's her awesome quote explaining why she lost the election (because, you know, it couldn't have been calling a room full of Latino students "Asian looking" or her horrendous debate or the fact she literally ran from reporters a few times). No no, it was because,
    "I find the people in the rural counties more educated on the issues and seem to be more tied into their communities. The urban areas seem to have more of a disconnect from the issues that affect their communities."
    Seriously, if politicians keep excluding those of us who live in cities and suburbs of being un-American, uneducated or otherwise, my head will pop.
  3. Meghan McCain, an occasionally smart republican but always firebrand, says she wants to "Kick Obama's Ass in 2012." She's also said she's on team Romney, which I find ironic considering Obamacare so closely resembles Massachusetts' Health Care law, which Romney signed into law as Governor. The thing that really bothers me, however, is her saying,
    I want to go out and do it all over again with somebody else -- I want to go get a Republican elected. I want to kick Obama's ass the next election and get a Republican elected.
    Even this, to be honest, wouldn't bother me if she would categorically reject supporting Palin (yes, again) if she becomes the Republican nominee. Otherwise, it rings not of honest policy and instead of pure politics.
  4. Michelle Bachmann, another crazy who happens to be running America right now, refuses to back down from saying on the news that Obama's last overseas trip would cost voters 200 million dollars a day. While her refusal to say she was wrong bothers me, what bothers me more is what she considers justification for her ignorance. She says,
    I didn't say if I believe it or not. What I said was a I was quoting a newspaper.
    You see, when you're a Congresswoman for the United States of America, the idea that you would go on the news and say something that may, or may not, be true because, well, it was in the newspaper (an Indian newspaper), seems ridiculous. Wait, not ridiculous, it seems absurd. How can we expect her to vote non-ignorantly if she can't realize something is absolutely absurd on its face...not only doesn't realize it's absurd, but freely spreads it as truth. The answer is, we can't, and shouldn't. But her base loves her, so it doesn't matter.
  5. Kamala Harris is gaining in her lead to become California's next Attorney General! This is good news for California and pits California's Democratic takeover of government against Texas's Republican takeover. Both states have similar deficits and similar problems to face. What happens over the next four years will be interesting. The rise of Kamala Harris is a good thing for the California Democratic party, but a better thing for the state. She's smart, she's just and she's a much needed breath of youth and intellectual rigor.
OK. So...that's all we've got for tonight. Enjoy the articles if you read them! I've gotta get back to watching trash TV with my mom!

MORE nostalgia...

My mom moved in recently and we have to open all her boxes because the army won't move anything that's already packed. If you know me, you know I've already got a large nostalgic streak. So, unpacking all these boxes has been fun for my mom and I. There are all kinds of things we've found, a short list of which is below. We'll continue to unpack, while drinking screw-drivers, but I thought I'd share a list of some of the cool things we've found so far:
  1. A dot-matrix birthday card from Jeffrey Zito to me. He was my best friend in first grade. The card is an 8.5x11 sheet of pre-perforated dot-matrix
  2. Photos of my sisters when my sister was my niece's age.
  3. My "Golden State Exam" scholar certificate.
  4. My Junior High yearbook.
  5. Freshman high school ID card.
  6. A newspaper from the month I joined the Army. Front page, above the fold: Survey of Troops Finds Antigay Bias Common in Service
  7. An 8x10 of my Grandpa, Jack, in his Navy uniform
  8. A newspaper clipping of my Grandpa, Frank, getting his dog blessed by the old Monsignor of the parish my whole family went to on Saint Francis of Assissi's celebration
I will try to add photos as I scan them.

health care chamber of commerce

It's been clear for a while that campaign finance reform is needed, although the opposite (less regulation) has been the recent norm. These last elections were some of the most expensive, and most secretive in history. Groups like American Compass and others funnelled millions and millions of dollars into local elections under the guise of "citizens" and the American Family Association spent MASSIVE amounts of money in Iowa to oust judges who, God forbid, determined that the state could not apply marriage laws unequally to gay and lesbian citizens.

The Health Care debate (debacle?) is a prime example of what happens when ridiculous amounts of money are spent and by whom is hidden. Bloomberg news just released an article with their findings about the matter. Apparently the Chamber of Commerce (not the local group that promotes small, local business, but the national group that fights against taxes, worker safety, unions etc.) had more than HALF...that's right HALF...it's budget paid by the Health Care Lobby.

What does that mean? When the government was attempting to write and pass a health care bill to ensure that all Americans had access to affordable health care (our country still falls on the bottom half of industrialized nations in terms of the health care available to our citizens even though we are the richest country in the world), the Health Care lobby was actively spending money fighting against it. They were, however, smart enough to know that people would see the blatant conflict of interest there, so just gave the money to a more innocuous sounding group...the Chamber of Commerce, who would do their dirty work for them.

Read the article here, and be upset.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Congressman Pence on MSNBC

Congressman Pence on MSNBC says, when asked what he thinks about repealing DADT that we should wait to see what the survey says.

When the reporter asks if the report does say what leaks say (that most service members have no problem with it) weather he'd support repeal, he says...well, no, because he doesn't believe it and it's obvious that it will affect morale.

Seriously? These people ordered the study assuming that soldiers would veto repeal for them and provide cover for their bigotry. Now that soldiers have proved themselves more forward thinking and less bigoted than our own government, they are ignoring the soldiers to protect them from...themselves. Ridiculous.

honesty is too much for some...

What's it like to be a Catholic, gay teenager today? This boy talks about it.

His article was written for his high school newspaper, but the school, a Catholic school, later took it down from their website. Why? I'm not sure. The Catholic Church teaches that being gay is not a sin, but that acting on it is. He criticized the Arch Bishop for spending funds on a campaign against equality in civil marriage, but even that doesn't go against Catholic teachings.

All I can imagine is the simple admission that someone is gay, and the plea to make their lives better, is considered antithetical to the school's teaching. While the Church says otherwise, it remains virulently homophobic and will continue to bleed members until it changes into the loving church that it claims to preach.

It's pathetic this high school found this boys honesty to be potentially damaging to his peers and shows the fear that the Church has of simple, human truth.

American Family Association--not JUST against gays

In case you were wondering what the American Family Association (more popularly known for protecting marriage by keeping gays out) has to say about the recent awarding of the Medal of Honor, luckily they've posted a blog post about it:
We have feminized the Medal of Honor.

Read the article. The author makes himself sound like an idiot far better than I could.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

hidden in plain sight

There is a show at the National Portrait Gallery right now that I wish I could see. The title of the show is Hide/Seek, and focuses on portraits of gays and lesbians, but veiled, coded or hidden, throughout history. (Was that comma placed correctly?)

There is an immediately to this showing. A sense that there is a movement which has been brewing for a long, long time. The idea of capturing oneself in images, be it a painting or a photograph, has been around as long as we have. But for gays and lesbians, like everything else in life, there have been limitations to what can be captured, or how.

Jeff Sheng has been working within this realm of capturing, while simultaneously hiding, in his images of currently serving service men and women. His photo series, "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" is incredibly evocative and moving.

Like the painters, photographers, sculptors and other artists before, Jeff has found a way to capture the person, while keeping him secret. You can tell so much about the people in this series...other than who they are. Unlike the painting at top, however, which attempted to hide the sexuality of the subjects while keeping the identity open, Jeff makes sexuality the premise and identity what one must "seek".

It is not, however, only an artistic pursuit. As gays and lesbians become more accepted, and more accepting of themselves, the two--sexuality and identity--will unite. This has happened before, and does now, but sometimes this takes on extra political significance as people politicize the desires of someone to simply "be".
Recently, two lesbians in Southern states, independently of one another, decided to wear tuxedos for their high school yearbook photos instead of the drape and earrings required. One school allowed the girl to, the other (pictured above) allowed her to take the photo, but left her out of the yearbook.

The idea that ones sexual identity could have impacts upon his or her personal and political life seems ridiculous, however, it continues to happen. But, lest we think this is a new phenomenon, this gallery showing reminds us that it has been going on for as long as there has been art. And, I believe, helps tie the gay and lesbian community of today to a history that could easily have been forgotten. By rooting the community in its past, it helps to pave the way for the future, and give perspective on today.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

TSA debate online

This is an interesting conversation. I haven't read it all, but there are some good points on either side, once you weed out the emotional responses, the ideologues and the ignorant. I was particularly irked by Pelosi (daughter, not Speaker) and her response. I am becoming increasingly annoyed by the Moore-ishization (ref. Michael Moore of Fahrenheit 9/11 fame) of left leaning politicos. Her attempt to equate TSA scanners with the multi-trillion dollar military-industrial complex by simply replacing "military" with "security" is a ridiculous false parallel and her use of her child being "groped" reeks of a fear tactic.

Without being able to talk about real issues without immediately reverting to fear, pandering or worst-case scenarios, how can we be expected to solve issues?

With this particular issue, I'm becoming more and more frustrated with people throwing around words like "rights" and "unreasonable search" when neither fits correctly. What I mean to say is, there are words and phrases which are particularly important to our legal lexicon. I am no lawyer, but I know what a right is, and I know that "unreasonable searches and seizures" are vitally important terms to understand when studying Constitutional Law. By using them inappropriately, or out of context, it muddles the ACTUAL context and lessens their impact and importance.
I thought we'd be done with her, or, at least, be able to ignore her, but alas...NO.

She has now admitted to "considering" a run for President. Is there anyone who doesn't think she will? That being said, a quote from her upcoming profile demonstrating not only her lack of a grasp on facts, but on simple definition:
I’m on television nearly every single day with reporters … Now granted, that’s mainly through my job at Fox News, and I’m very proud to be associated with them, but I’m not avoiding anything or anybody. I’m on Facebook and Twitter. I’m out there. I want to talk about my record, though.”

You see, the difference between being "out there" and being a pundit on Fox news as well as posting on twitter and facebook is that none of the above (and yes, that includes Fox news) requires one to face a hostile audience or answer questions that are other than leading or softball.

By avoiding actual media scrutiny, a tactic she advised Sharon Angle and Christine O'Donnell to follow, she enables herself to not only present her best side, but simply avoid all issues that she either does not know about (foreign policy) or is obviously lying about (remember her bridge to nowhere support/lack of support). If there is no one to ask the "tough questions" damn near anyone can seem electable. Why? Because you're a living info-mercial. The Ronco Food Dehydrator seemed AMAZING on TV too...but it wasn't running for President.

I have a facebook and a blog (twitter seems silly). When I post, people write comments and, assuming I notice them, I write back. It's generally civil debate and people agree or disagree. You'll find that on her facebook, where Palin is "out there", there isn't even debate...there is just...her, yelling into the echo chamber. See here for an example. I'm not running for President and I'm pretty sure you all know more about me and what I believe or think, what I've thought over the years, and when I've made mistakes than we do about this woman. She's the Miss America of politicians...a human twinkie...vacuous and without substance, but difficult to resist if you're looking not sustenance, but entertainment and comfort.

This is a CHRISTIAN Church!

I was driving to Los Angeles the other day and drove by a semi-completed structure that was clearly a house of worship--it was large, looked like a hotel lobby and had a dome type structure. So, it was either a church or a mall, but I guessed Church since there was only one Starbucks slated to open there ("we proudly serve starbucks!" was on the marquee).

There was also, oddly it seemed to me, a banner tied to the middle of the dome which read, "This is a CHRISTIAN Church" or something similar. I thought it odd and then drove on, not thinking of it again.

Then, today, I stumbled upon this on Crooks and Liars. Apparently, the mere shape of a dome causes anti-Muslim hysteria. Because, you know, Phoenix is high on the hit list of al-Qaeda. Not that I haven't said so before, but this kind of ignorance--being afraid of a structural shape (!!) because it MIGHT be the future home of worshipers who share the same religious title as people who are terrorists--it's ridiculous. Not only is it ridiculous, but it's scary.

Speaking of which, the woman who was running for Congress on a platform of "not letting the terrorists win" by building the ground zero "mosque" (Renee Elmers, who is from North Carolina and therefore very concerned with lower Manhattan)--she won. She is now a legislator for the United States of America.

Let us hope for a short two years.


My new favorite time killer at work:

Seriously cool for some awesomely wonkish stuff. Want to know how many prior Hill staffers are now Congressmen? It's here! Highest income Freshmen House Members?? It's here as well! There is some random crap, some policy, and some things like all earmarks from fy 08 and fy 09. Then, there are gems like this one:
in 2008 Minnesota's Congressional delegation delivered 158 earmarks costing $330 million. The average earmark from Minnesota members was not $70 million as Bachman claimed but $2.1 million which is less than the $3.7 million Bachman earmarked.

So, for those of us who want our information from somewhere other than email forwards or cable news shows, this should kill hours and hours of our all-too-abundant free time!

Guess who

The following quote is one politico talking about another. I've taken out the "who" said what about "whom", but linked below so you can guess who is speaking. Seriously...guess, you'll be surprised, shocked, befuddled and maybe laugh:
We know that [X] wasn’t vetted through the campaign, and now, you know, some things are coming home to roost, if you will, which is inexperience, [X's] associations, and that ultimately harms our republic when a candidate isn’t — isn’t vetted by the media, that cornerstone of our democracy,"

So, a politician is saying that someone wasn't vetted by the media? Who is it?? And who is he/she talking about??

Find out here.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

A friend of mine has aligned himself w/ Dan Choi in his brand of activism regarding gay rights in general and DA/DT in particular (I try not to use the term "gay rights" because I think that narrows the scope of what is at stake--equality for all isn't an issue that affects only the minority...but I digress). It is no secret that I do not agree with the tactics that Dan Choi has used in this fight. Nor do I particularly agree with him as a figurehead of the movement. Unfortunately, when it comes to national politics, good intentions aren't enough, no matter how well intentioned or how good the motives.

That being said, I found myself this morning in a bind. When a good friend of mine (someone I went to basic training with in 2000) aligned himself with Dan Choi, what do I do? Do I feign support or do I restate my previously stated opposition to these tactics?

I came to the conclusion that by inserting oneself into the national political stage, especially in a very public manner, then I cannot disassociate the person from the actions. While it may hurt my friend's feelings, not supporting his actions, it is important to my own sense of self that I maintain my beliefs. The conversation we had about this is below (name redacted).

While I don't generally try to elicit comments, this time I do. A lot of you know who my friend is, since many of us were in the Army together. What is your opinion? Does my obligation to him as a friend trump my obligation to the cause and to my self? Moreover, have you been in this position before? What did you do? It is not the first time I've dealt with having someone in the national spotlight. Two of the guys I've known since DLI founded Servicemembers United. I am friends with JD, the founder of Citizens for Repeal and another friend worked closely with the Palm Center. This is, however, the first time I've had a friend try to leverage my friendship into accepting and supporting his political decisions--and it is not something I enjoy.

IM conversation post-DC actions (with no spelling changes...stupid spelling)
8:24am (him)
i did some stuff yesterday

8:25am (me)
you online right now?

8:26am (him)

8:26am (me)
sorry, I leave my computer on at home so my mom can use it, I wasn't there this morning
now I'm at work :(

8:27am (him)
that is fine. :)
yeah, i'm around.
looking at the ridiculous picture of me hogtied by DC park police

8:27am (me)
still in DC or home now/

8:28am (him)

8:29am (me)
any more tying up I should prepare to see?

8:29am (him)
nah, dan and I thought about it but we're tired and are going to sit in a hot tub instead
did you love it?!

8:30am (me)
have you never read my reactions to this before?
or do you mean do I love you sitting in a hot tub?

8:30am (him)
but this was me

8:31am (me)
because I can support hot tubbing, for sure

8:31am (him)
what I di, that I was insanely trussed up and yelling at newspeople!

8:33am (me)
I don't see the efficacy of chainging oneself to the whitehouse. a tree to keep it from being cut down, a gate to keep it locked
but an amorphous idea, I don't get
nor do I see storming Reid's office as altogether helpful

8:34am (him)
we didn't storm, we told them we were coming and had a very polite conversation.

8:34am (me)
that wasn't the press coverage

8:34am (him)
anyways, adam: your friend (name here) was the front page on the goddamn advocate.

8:34am (me)
in any case, I particularly don't like seeing uniforms on capital hill if they're not military advisors. I think it undermines the civil/military relationship we have and sets a horrible precident

8:35am (him)
we have had this conversation. plus, we have already agreed to disagree
plus, you're being a douchetard. a friend of your s is excited about something he did, and you're cutting him down on abstract ideals.

8:36am (me)
you and I have? when have you and I had this conversation?

8:36am (him)
when choi and HRC first had a falling out.

8:37am (me)
if my friend does something, public, that affects me and is a public political statement, I can't ignore the "abstract ideals" he is representing. asking me to do so is slightly ridiculous don't you think? Especially if you ask me, "what did you think"?

8:37am (him)
fine, adam.
please refrain from making negative comments on my facebook in the future.
I'm sorry, I'm actually feeling very insulted.
i have supported everything you've ever done. I'm not even asking for your support, just an understanding that this was a big deal to me and it was a very cool experience.

8:40am (me)
I didn't make a negative comment, I said I just hope you sat and thought about it first. If I had said I didn't think you did, that would have been a negative comment

8:40am (him)
i think you're very carefully ignoring the last part of that statement.
i just don't want to have this conversation right now

CNN and Fox

This morning, quite literally as the first conversation we walked into class, someone started reading CNN.com. Another friend made the usual joke of "oh, you read the liberal media?" Which sparked a conversation.

As per usual, I challenged him to point out an actual EXAMPLE of CNN's "obvious liberal bias" that counters Fox's "equally conservative bias" and was told that my "liberal indoctrination wouldn't allow me to see the point of his argument."

Not only was no argument made other than general assertions that they were opposing sides of the political news spectrum, but no evidence or examples were given. Why is it that when it comes to math or science, we expect evidence, logical follow through and then conclusion, but when it comes to politics, simply asserting a conclusion as fact is enough? Moreover, when you ask for evidence, you get the look of "how cute...he thinks this isn't true on its face."

So I throw out the challenge again, since no one has accepted on FB or in conversation. Where is there evidence of CNN's pervasive liberal bias? Where is the Glen Beck, Bill O'Reilly, Hannity, Fox and Friends or Gretchen what's-her-name on CNN? Are there examples on video of some of this liberal propoganda?

Monday, November 15, 2010

We are undermining ourselves. By "we" I mean those who are opposed to repeal of Don't Ask/Don't Tell. How? We're breaking the rules that we hope/need others to follow.

By wearing uniforms to make a direct political statement, we allow those who oppose us to do the same. By undermining the apolitical military, we allow others to leverage THIER military service (let us not kid ourselves into thinking that we are somehow the only ones with a political agenda, or that others don't have equal dedication to their own) into political action. But then what? Are those opposed to repeal not allowed to show up and protest in their uniforms? What about against a War? Against a President?

I could be wrong, very wrong, but I don't remember seeing photos of service members during Vietnam wearing their uniforms to protests. They'd wear part of it, to let people know they'd served--a jacket here, some ribbons there--but never going out as "LT X" or "SGT Y".

It is my hope the military will remain apolitical. It is safer for the country, safer for our politicians, and safer for our Soldiers. Seeing people with whom I agree undermine this basic rule of democracy scares and saddens me, even if I agree with their aims.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

10 centuries in 5 minutes

Baby excitement...

My neice is almost two. She's just old enough that she can piece together words into almost sentences, so she says things like, "hide chase uncle Adam!" which I take to mean she wants to play hide-and-go-seek.

What I've taken from her is that there are FAR more things to be excited about in the course of any given day. She wakes up and gets surprised and excited about everyone she'll see. It's just me and her watching Grover and she goes through the list..."Nona? Auntyrene? Momma? Pappa? Unclrich???" And then, when she sees each, her eyes light up and she waves, "HI Unclerich!" And this goes on all day, every time she sees you...it's a surprise, and she's genuinely happy.

She also applauds at the end of every song. Sing the alphabet? Applause! Watch a commercial...applause!

I like it. It makes me feel like there is a lot I miss on my usual days because I've become too jaded to what's around me. Maybe I should be more genuinely happy just to see my mom every time I see her?

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Wonkish people of the world UNITE~!!!

The Committee on Debt Reduction released their report today. It weighs in at 50 relatively easy to understand pages. This should dominate the news for the next few days if the posthumous discussion of the last elections and war-gaming for the next can stop. I've posted it below because I'm awesome!

Click here to view shared files...

things to come...

In case you were wondering what kinds of things are coming under the new House Leadership, here is a quote from Representative Shimkus regarding global warming, or, more appropriately, why it isn't real:
The earth will end only when God declares it is time to be over. Man will not destroy this earth. This earth will not be destroyed by a flood.
It is here in lines 233-245 that he makes this argument.

While this isn't theocracy in the definite sense of the word, it does strike me as an affront on reason and the separation of church and State that this guy uses his theological beliefs to dismiss the scientific arguments of those who are testifying. Actually, in all fairness, he brought up this argument because for some reason the House felt the need to have someone speak on behalf of the "Council of Lutheran Churches" in favor of action on global warming. So, his argument was against the Bishop who was speaking. He was basically trying to undercut the Bishop's testimony (that if global warming affects the poorest of the poor and the marginalized, then we have a moral obligation to combat it) by arguing that the Bishop was theologically incorrect in even believing global warming was real.

It is ridiculous that this is part of the national, political discourse in the US. Now, people like this Representative will be making policy for the Country. Let us hope his knowledge of the bible is exceeded by his knowledge of the Constitution since he is, after all, a legislator and not a pastor.

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Zero Chance...

Barney Frank comes out and says what should have been said long ago. While those of us who are upset with the leadership the Democrats have shown on the issue of equality while holding control of the House/Senate/WH, anyone who thought "sending a message" and electing Republicans and Tea Partiers would somehow help are grossly mistaken. There is one party which pays lip service to equality and has some members who were stanch advocates, there is another that blocks any attempt at equality at every turn. The latter is now in charge of the House and it will be another two years before any meaningful pro-equality legislation will be passed. Luckily, enough Democrats kept their seats that Republican efforts to roll back the clock will be stopped.

I apologize for the all-too-frequent posting, but it's been a while since I've been as worked up and interested as I am now. But I guess I shouldn't apologize as a blog requires someone to come to it to read it, so if you're reading this, it's by choice, not like I'm yelling these things amongst a crowd who have no choice but to listen...right?


I really want to start writing more personally and less politically, but honestly my personal life doesn't hold much lately but dead ends and rabbit holes. But, hopefully things will turn around and I can start writing awesome things about my personal life again.

I'm picking up my mom this weekend and seeing my sisters, aunts, niece and nephew, which I'm looking forward to.

I'm home for lunch right now, which is unexpected. We were supposed to brown-bag it today, but then we realized that some people didn't have the right headgear. Actually...this is interesting (and by "interesting" I mean, one of those "only in the army" things)...

We are going to the "field" today. Literally a field, an open field, where we're getting a class on something we all already know. Now, normally we wear barrettes, but we were told we could wear our patrol caps (PC). What's the difference? Well, barrettes take two hands to put on and PC's only one. But in all honesty, there really isn't much different about them when we're talking a two hour class. BUT...for some reason, Army culture holds that the PC is vastly superior. The funny thing about this is--even people who NEVER wore a PC regularly (pre-2000) will make the claim that it is "much better." Why? My opinion is because the barrette is still considered effete as it is french. Also, much like the anti-powerpoint tide in the Army, it's an easy way for someone to gain "street cred" in terms of the Army to say something like, "Shinseki didn't know what he was talking about. The barrette should have been reserved for Special Forces and Rangers." The opinion is the Army equivalent of the yellow ribbon--a way to show solidarity with a group you're not a part of while not actually DOING anything to help that group.

Why do I bring this up now? Because there are four people who didn't have a PC today (including myself) who are now jumping through our asses to find ours so we can wear them for all of two hours in the "field". Ugh. Army norms kill me.

reading at work II...

OK, I shall type fast because this computer will quickly die. Here is what I'm reading at work:

  1. While it is tongue-in-cheek, the reaction of Limbaugh to the twinkie nutritionist says a lot about how he views the world. The quote that really hit me was the following:
    One of the reasons I know what I know is that I know liberals, and I know liberals lie, and if Michelle Obama's gonna be out there ripping into "food desserts" and saying, "This is why people are fat," I know it's not true. "Rush, do you really believe that? It's that simple to you, liberals lie?" Yes, it is, folks. Once you learn that, once you come to grips with that, once you accept that, the rest is easy. Very, very simple. Now, my doctor has never told me to restrict any intake of salt, but if he did, I wouldn't. I'd just spend more time in the steam or the sauna sweating it out.
    Here's what really gets to me about this quote. It's the logic that's implied--his doctor is a liberal. Why? Because he's an expert. Experts are liberal intelligentsia, by default. Doctors can't be trusted. Physicists can't be trusted. No one who KNOWS what they're talking about can be trusted to make policy decisions, only "soccer moms" and "average joe" isn't "liberal" and should be listened to. Disgusting.

  2. Rick Perry won for Governor...or, should I say, he won the position of "good springboard to run for President." Any Texan who voted for him who doesn't see this coming needs to go see the bats fly out from under the bridge...then jump off. Worse, his brand of anti-governmental populism is exactly the kind of thing that, while completely lacking in detail, knowledge and solutions, will sell well to a public that is looking for answers. While everyone is focusing on Palin and Huckabee, Perry is quietly working to position himself to come from behind. Immediately after beating Bill White for Governor, Perry quickly got to work fixing the $25 BILLION shortfall that the entirely Republican leadership of Texas has created. Wait? What is that? Never mind. In the face of opting out of Medicair, cutting education, and slashing CHIP forcing thousands of children living in poverty off of their current health care plan, the Governor of Texas has fled to the East Coast to promote his book in which he rails against...the 17th amendment (allowing for us to vote directly for our Senators) and Woodrow Wilson. Good job Texans...way to pick em. Looking forward, we can safely say that Texas is a bell weather of his conservative, tea-party agenda. Why? Because (see earlier link):
    Perry is arguably the most powerful governor in Texas history. His long tenure means he has named the people in every appointed position in state government. The House and the Senate are controlled by his party, and the opportunity to set an agenda and carry it through has rarely been better for a sitting governor.

  3. Jim DeMint talks about how he and the Republicans will balance the budget and fix the deficit. He wants to cut Obamacare. Why? Because it cuts Medicaid. Um...does that make NO sense to anyone else? How should we fix the deficit? Cut health care. Why? Because it cuts the deficit. If that doesn't make sense to you, it's because it's illogical BS.

  4. While the ability to quickly move people and goods quickly from one market to another should be an obvious economic win that would not only stimulate the economy by bringing jobs, but also improve infrastructure for the better lessening traffic and increasing business opportunities. However, the new Governor of Wisconsin has denied the federal stimulus funds that were allotted for these "shovel ready" projects. How "shovel ready"? The state has already spent $14 million and prepared over 400 workers to build the project. The incoming Governor says it will be "expensive to upkeep" and so has vowed not to continue the project. Governor Cuomo, of New York, has already petitioned the Government for the funds to bring HSR to his own state.

Monday, November 08, 2010

Sirius XM: Gays Explain "Why I Voted Republican" to Signorile

Michaelangelo Singorile interviews gays who voted Republican. The interviews go from pathetic--"I wanted to send a message to Obama, so I voted for Ron Paul...No. I don't like Ron Paul."--to really sad, "I want to adopt...no, I didn't know the Senator I voted for wants to make that illegal.")

I know gay republicans, and that's fine. There are a few of them who even have valid reasons for being Republican (a few...). However, I know a lot more who, despite what they say, seem to be Republican because it gives them what I'll call "straight cred". What I mean by this is, in an effort to gain acceptance by the majority, they espouse views that are down the line right-wing in an effort to somehow court the majority's favor. By slamming immigrants and spending, being hawkish on war, supporting right-wing justices (including Harriet Meiers failed bit at a Supreme Court seat), these guys seem to think that somehow, the majority opinion (ie. straight white men) will be more accepting.

The incredibly sad part is, they wont. Acceptance doesn't come from buying into a self-loathing or prosecutorial ideology. Acceptance from others comes from accepting oneself. But that is a hard sell to someone who is in the closet, or if not in the closet someone who doesn't want to be who he is. Hell, I had a gay republican tell me two weeks before the 2008 election that he had not donated to No on 8 because, and this is a direct quote (I save IM messages), "It will never pass. All the liberals will do whatever dear leader says, so it doesn't matter what people in California want." So much for that prediction...

This won't always be the case. At some point, gays and lesbians will have full equality. Don't Ask will be over, ENDA will be passed (or gays and lesbians will be added to the Civil Rights Act) and DOMA will be no more. At that point, there will be a re-alignment of politics with the minority of gays being split between both parties. At that point, the Republican Party will start acting on its pocket book and hope that gays and lesbians forgot that they were crushed by years of Republican obstructionism. What remains to be seen is how quickly gays and lesbians will move on, forgive and forget. If this election is any sign, it will be far more quickly than most people think.

But, until that happens, Michaelangelo poses an interesting and difficult to answer question: Is it selfish for gays and lesbians to vote their economic interests over their civil rights?

A secondary question this interview brought up in my mind was the following: Has the push for acceptance taken the air out of the fight for equality? The two are not the same. Acceptance is what the third caller talks about. No, he cannot get married and no, he does not have equal rights. But, he says, he lives with his partner and has for years and they're happy. Does the representation on TV, the ability to go out and hold hands and the general "acceptance" (if simply NOT being attacked on the streets like in the past is acceptance) make the gay and lesbian population apathetic to fighting for full, legal equality? If one can be "happy enough" with the status quo, what is the impetus to fight for something more?

I know for me it's a simple matter of principle--that the very idea of America is that "all men are created equal" and so long as we, as a nation, do not uphold that belief, we are selling ourselves, and the nation, short. But not everyone sees it that way. So for those who don't see a broader message and meaning to their daily lives, then why bother? Would the Civil Rights movement have ever taken off if separate really WAS equal? If African-Americans could have sat at the same counters, had equal water fountains and sat anywhere on the bus and suffered nothing other than dirty looks (and hundreds of tax breaks and pension benefits etc.), would the movement have had the backing it did? It seems the movement for full equality for gays and lesbians is answering that question in the negative.

random readings and musings...

I'm reading before I go to bed. Never a good thing. Anyway, a lot of these articles are interconnected, but less a tangible connection than that they appear to be dots which, while not aligned perfectly, outline a trend that I do not like. They follow below, with a short comment on each, followed by my analysis of the overall trend:
  1. Admiral Mullen is "surprised" that General Amos, the Commandant of the Marine Corps, spoke out against repealing Don't Ask/Don't Tell. Besides the fact that his surprise seems a bit underwhelming, I wonder what Gates and Obama were thinking in picking him. Let's imagine, if you will, that the position of Commandant is unfilled and Obama is picking a replacement. Now imagine, hypothetically, that there is a General Officer who is a brilliant strategist, but he is also on record as having said something like, "Well, women don't belong in the military." Would that person be in line to be Commandant of the Marine Corps? Probably not. If nothing else, this shows you where Obama is in terms of being a "fierce advocate". He is, at best, a political tactician who does not prioritize equality in a way that is, as of yet, meaningful. In the balance of things, equality will always fall somewhere below economics and political ambition.
  2. The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals held that a high school cheerleader who wanted to sit out cheering for a boy who later admitted to raping her (the school new he was accused of raping her) was NOT exercising her right to free speech AND ordered her family to pay the schools court costs. Years ago I wrote about Judge Patricia Owens and will not do so again. Suffice it to say, this was not an unexpected decision considering the make up of the fifth court and the judicial outlooks of those Justices. I would have to read more about the pertinent legal background to have a less emotional and more educated reaction, but the decision seems absurd from an emotional point of view (admittedly, not the point of view from which to judge jurisprudence).
  3. In related but opposite news, a really good reaction to the ousting of three Iowa Supreme Court Justices is here. I highly recommend reading this...and then getting active. The forces of bigotry and homophobia have organized, have fund raised, and have influenced the last bastion of protection that minorities have. It is time that those of us who take seriously the role of the courts, the belief that all men are created equal, and the pursuit of happiness seriously to do so ourselves. The ousting of these judges is a travesty and a triumph of ignorance over the forces of reason. We must fight back. Here is a good quote from the article:
    What happened in Iowa on Tuesday deserves more attention from the press and public, in the same way that cancer cells that have taken root in the body and flourished into a tumor with its own blood supply deserve more attention. It’s time for our collective immune system to focus on these toxic intruders roaming from state to state with their multimillion-dollar war chest, metastasizing in a series of mean-spirited ballot measures that — particularly as of Tuesday’s vote — strike at the very core of our democracy.
  4. Five Anglican Bishops have taken up the offer of the Pope to become Catholic. Their move is a deeply seeded conviction that the truth of the Catholic Church's primacy, which they had previously disbelieved, is less unpalatable than women bishops or gay equality (I know...that was a convoluted sentence, but read it again and it is clearly a sarcastic masterpiece). They will join more in what will be, I am sure, a larger exodus from Anglicanism to Catholicism. By turning its own back on its less-important "doctrines" (married clergy, primacy of Rome etc.) the Catholic Church has opened its doors to those Anglicans who believe their own Church isn't homophobic or anti-woman enough. Apparently, if you can't beat em, just re-brand em!
Generally, these articles all tend to point in the direction of the triumph of ignorance over intelligence and rationality. It is a trend I do not like and do all I can to fight. However, it is larger than me and my blog (believe it or not) and has to be fought by all of us. This is not just an American issue, as demonstrated by the Vatican, it is a worldwide issue. And, it is imperative that each of us not only speak out when we can, but actively involve ourselves in pursuing the goals we seek.

Kamala Harris...

She is running for AG of California and it's a tight race. She's currently the District Attorney for San Francisco and would complete a blue take-over of California's State Government. Currently, they are counting mail in ballots. Unfortunately, most of those are from Riverside, San Diego, Orange, and Los Angeles Counties (LA county is where here competitor comes from).

This is one of those rare elections which has wide-reaching consequences, both for the future of California as well as the future of the Democratic party. Kamala Harris is someone who could be a future Democratic star, if her rise isn't stopped earlier than it should. Her competitor received large amounts from Crossroads America, the Karl Rove funded super-PAC as he sees her as a future threat as well.

I only post this because it's an ongoing race, and one to watch. Moreover, Kamala Harris is someone to watch if you want to know what the future holds.

false dilemma

For those of you who are unsure what a "false dilemma" is in terms of philosophy, here is a good example from the news I'm reading this morning:
Voter approval of Proposition 8 that November raised questions about whether Newsom was electable statewide or would be too closely associated with gay marriage.
Here is the article.

Friday, November 05, 2010

Constitutional craziness...

OK. So, Oklahoma just amended their state Constitution with the following text:

This measure amends the State Constitution. It changes a section that deals with the courts of this state. It would amend Article 7, Section 1. It makes courts rely on federal and state law when deciding cases. It forbids courts from considering or using international law. It forbids courts from considering or using Sharia Law.
International law is also known as the law of nations. It deals with the conduct of international organizations and independent nations, such as countries, states and tribes. It deals with their relationship with each other. It also deals with some of their relationships with persons.
The law of nations is formed by the general assent of civilized nations. Sources of international law also include international agreements, as well as treaties.
Sharia Law is Islamic law. It is based on two principal sources, the Koran and the teaching of Mohamed.
Why is this ridiculous? OK, I am not a Constitutional Scholar, but this seems to be obviously Un-Constitutional on its face. How can a state Constitution be amended to directly contradict the US Constitution which reads:
This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in Pursuance thereof; and all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the Authority of the United States, shall be the supreme Law of the Land; and the Judges in every State shall be bound thereby, any Thing in the Constitution or Laws of any State to the Contrary notwithstanding.
Also, by singling out ONE religious law as being inapplicable in American courts, doesn't this "establish the free exercise" of religion somehow? Even if not, it seems ironic to me that a state which CONSTANTLY attempts to institute religious laws is now enshrining in its own constitution that "they" (Muslims) cannot enshrine their own religious laws in the state.

What I mean is this--the US Constitution provides for the Separation between Church and State (even if those words aren't directly in the Constitution it is pretty well decided by the Supreme Court). If the residents of Oklahoma who amended the State Constitution understood this, they would see it's redundant to specifically then say "Religion X will not be applicable in this state". Why? Because it's ALREADY ILLEGAL. However, these people are trying to have their cake and eat it too saying that Muslims cannot enact Sharia, but leaving the door open for Christians to impose their religion.

Also, by this definition, what about things that are both Islamic and Judeo-Christian in nature. Can Judges still site those, or does anything that would be covered under the "Koran and the teaching of Mohammad" be outlawed? If so, then the religious right may have just shot themselves in the foot.

It's ridiculous and wrongheaded...and passed with 70% of the vote.

Paris and New York

Check out this link. It's a cool New York/Paris comparison in graphic form.


So, this will not be news to some, but some of you may not have read about this--

The short story. Sarah Palin "favorited" the following image on her twitter from Anne Coulter

After the "lamestream" media caught on, she released the following statement:

“Jake, I've never purposefully ‘favorited’ any Tweet. I had to go back to my BlackBerry to even see if such a function was possible. I was traveling to Alaska that day...it was an obvious accidental ‘favoriting,’ but no one can mistake that Ann Coulter was obviously being tongue in cheek with that Tweet. Shall I correct this with whichever wonderful media outlet ran with this (an obviously bored reporter...since there must be nothing going on in the world today, like, um, ramifications of a shake up of power in the U.S. House of Representatives?).”

After releasing that statement, she immediately deleted her favorites (all of which were other conservative "tweets" [I use scare quotes because I think twitter is stupid...if it's important enough to tell the world, it shouldn't be able to be distilled to 140 characters]). Apparently she doesn't know how to "favorite" something on twitter, but does know how to delete them.

So, where does that leave us? She didn't favorite it, because she doesn't know how and it was a mistake, and even if it wasn't a mistake, then it was a joke, and any other time she had done it, it was a mistake, but now she has deleted it--so it was never true to begin with.

Welcome to 1984. Screen shot below of her page BEFORE revising.

I'm sure someone will bring up the New Black Panther's page on the Obama election website. So I'll quickly preemptively rebut anyone who tries to make these analogous. 1. The New Black Panthers posted to the Obama website, Obama (et al) did not link to them. 2. Obama's team admitted the mistake and said it would be immediately removed. 3. After removing, team Obama denounced the New Black Panthers and what they stood for instead of trying to justify it.

What's important here? The Kingmaker of the Republican/Tea Party thinks that we can re-write history damn near immediately. Let's all not let her.

Thursday, November 04, 2010


I like Pelosi. Sure, she has a blinking issue and her smile is awkward, but damned if there hasn't been as effective a Speaker as she's been. With all the talk of "Mama Grizzlies" out there, she is the antithesis. Give me Pelosi or Clinton any day over the Palins, Fiorinas and O'Donnells (who the electorate have been smart enough to avoid thus far). I think GOV Haley might be as smart as these, but the GOV race down there hasn't been high on my radar so I'll have to look into it.

My point is simply, I will miss the Pelosi era in the House, and she will be remembered as one of, if not THE, most effective House Speakers were ever had. Boehner would do well to learn from her if he intends on accomplishing anything under his short tenure--I give it four years, tops, but possibly only two.

A good article here.

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Reading at work...

I'm at work, and finished my slides, so now I'm stuck here reading in the interweb pages. What am I reading? Interesting stuff--the following:

  1. The Tea Party Patriots, the largest organization of Tea Parties across America, released their "plan" going forward. It's ambitious, at forty years, and includes everything from reforming the Judiciary to taking on culture. So, if anyone had any doubts that the libertarian leanings are bastardized by cultural conservatism, doubt no more, they've outlined their cultural-warrior plans as "lane four" of a four year plan:
    “All civilizations and empires have fallen because their cultures became decadent,” Meckler said. “We need to lift up conservative culture, family values and wholesome things by supporting conservative musicians, writers, artists and producers.”
  2. Democrats released a memo analyzing the election results. BLUF: Healthcare Reform is a scapegoat for general economic woes when Democrats lost seats.
  3. An interesting article on districting (aka. gerymandering). The article makes the case for an algorithmic definition of districts, and how that could be done. It reminded me of an academic project I read about years ago where a geographer tasked his students to re-do states today if the cultural geography stayed the same. How would they re-define state boundaries taking into consideration the lay of the land as it is. The most interesting one I saw used water sheds, existing population centers and mobility corridors to redraw states. I can no longer find the map, but it was interesting. There were only twenty states, each centered around an urban area, and each with its own (nearly own) water-shed.

What to expect of Republican House Leadership, these are mostly quotes from articles linked below:

    1. The GOP plans to hold high profile hearings examining the alleged "scientific fraud" behind global warming, a sleeper issue in this election that motivated the base quite a bit.

    2. Both parties have promised to crack down on earmarks, and Republicans will face significant pressure from their base to do so.

    3. My Rep, Darrell Issa, will begin issuing subpoenas for White House Staff.

    articles here and here.