Thursday, February 28, 2008
Tuesday, February 26, 2008
More from the "You Can't Make This Up" pages, this time from Right Wing Watch.
The governor of Texas has written a new book about the Boy Scouts, but parents expecting a positive, civic-minded story about personal development will be disappointed: instead, Rick Perry has apparently taken up a defense of the youth organization’s anti-gay policy.
Perry, like the Scouts, has made banning gays and atheists the Maginot Line of what he calls the “culture war” against the "virus of secularism." In a condensed interview with the New York Times Magazine’s Deborah Solomon, the governor lays out his explanation of why excluding gays is so important to scouting:
Solomon: Why do you think a homosexual would be more likely to bring the subject of sex into a conversation than a heterosexual?
Perry: Well, the ban in scouting applies to scout leaders. When you have a clearly open homosexual scout leader, the scouts are going to talk about it. And they’re not here to learn about that. They’re there to learn about what it means to be loyal and trustworthy and thrifty.
Solomon: But don’t you think that homosexuals might also be interested in being loyal and thrifty? The argument that gets made is that homosexuality is about sex. Do you agree?
Perry: No. Well, then why don’t they call it something else?
Hmmm ... Do you think Prick Perry has ever encountered the word, "heteroSEXual"?
Honestly, you just can't make this stuff up!
Talk show host Tyra Banks questioned Republican presidential candidate and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee about homosexuality and same-sex marriage in an interview scheduled to air Friday on "The Tyra Banks Show."
In response to whether he wanted the gay vote, Huckabee responded, "Sure, I want every vote. Seriously, I want to be president of everybody. And I can disagree with people over a choice they make in their life or a over a lifestyle and still be their president." The rest of Huckabee's answers about gay issues are here.
Thursday, February 14, 2008
I have not forgotten that I said I would write about the stuff that was keeing me away for the blog a few weeks ago. In a way, they still are, but I've incorporated them into my life now, and they seem to have found their place.
It all started with a major project, quitting smoking. I think I've finally done it. After everything from acupressure to herbs to nicotine gum and patches, I think I have finally been able to quit thank to what seems nearly like a miracle to me ... Chantix.
I am just about to complete my fifth week on Chantix. I am one of the lucky ones who has no significant side-effects from it. I had some very trivial nausea and lightheadness for an hour or so during the first day I took the initial dose. That quickly disappeared and has not come back at all. For awhile I was concerned it might come back to strike as I went through the first week of gradually titrating up to the full dose. Fortunately that never happened. I am having the side effect of vivid dreams, but that's not really a problem. They're not nightmares, they're just fun. Mine have been mostly about traveling to some of my favorite spots.
One of the interesting things about it is that you're supposed to keep smoking during your first week on Chantix. Before the week was over I noticed that I had already begun to lose interest in smoking. In fact, when I went out on the porch to smoke what was to be the very last one, I decided not to bother with it. Since then I've managed to avoid them completely ... and without all the horrific stuff I went through the other times I've tried to quit. It's really quite amazing.
I intend to complete the full recommend 12-week program even though it seems almost like I won't need the second of the two "continuation packs." If has worked this well for the initial 5 weeks, I want to be sure that I get the maximum effect from it.
So then in order to try to avoid as much as the inevitable weight gain as possible, I decided to get a little more serious about a walking routine. The only problem is that I get so very bored by healthy brisk walks. So I decided to get one of those new Sirius Stiletto 2 portable satellite radios I can take with me on the walks, a fun little gadget that receives radio from the satellite or from wi-fi. It acts like a Tivo and records your favorite shows. It also acts like an Ipod and let you load it up with your favorite audio. And if you're not inclined to do that, it loads itself up at random with material from the stations you listen to. So I have plenty of things to keep me entertained while I go on my increasingly longer and longer walks. I've been listening to a lot of Michelangelo Signorile on Sirius OutQ as well as the outrageous Derek and Romaine.
So ... it has taken me awhile to incorporate all of this stuff into my daily routine, but I think I'm getting there. And for my dog, Mr. Harley, it is just the best possible thing to happen because going on walks is really his favorite thing in the whole world ... well with the possible exception of those Apple Oatmeal Bark 'n Fetch Biscuits from Three Dog Bakery.
Things are good.
Tuesday, February 12, 2008
Box Turtle Bulletin's Jim Burroway writes:
If one were to write an anti-gay book for the conservative Anglicans in Britain, I would suggest that they might want to pay closer attention to the cover art. Is it just me, or does this look like an odd choice to you?
By the way, two of the books editors are involved with the web site Anglican Mainstream, which happens to be on our list of Cameron Collaborators. I can only guess what kind of lunacy is in this tome.
Saturday, February 9, 2008
I will not clap when a Senator from the state of New York stands two feet in front of me and answers a question about her thoughts on marriage equity and instead tells me it's a "state issue."
I am heartened when the "real candidate for change" stands in a black church and speaks against homophobia, but dismayed when he never speaks on the need to end it completely to achieve equality.
John Amaechi made news last year when he became the first NBA player to officially come out in his book, Man in the Middle. While checking out Keith Boykin's new website, The Daily Voice, yesterday I ran across this piece by Amaechi. Chalk up another who feels that these candidates give lip service to the concept of equality, but that neither one of them is willing to stand up for it.
Today on Super Tuesday when the two presidential candidates will most likely become apparent, each campaign appears to be talking about "change." I wonder if we are speaking about "change" in the right way.
When I talk about change, it is normally associated with positive, progressive, forward thinking milestones being reached in society and with equality. Moreover it is sweeping change that brings tangible improvement to the lives of not only all minorities, but all people.
Instead, as I look at the candidates, I am struck by the fact that the most that is being offered is the promise of progress - an indefinite process through which we hope change will occur over some time but without any specific timeline.
I am not an incrementalist - probably never will be. I want it all and I want it now; because it's right and proper, and because other countries - even ones that struggle to feed and shelter their own citizens and who are steeped in hundreds of years of religious rule - have made these changes already.
I will not clap when a Senator from the state of New York stands two feet in front of me and answers a question about her thoughts on marriage equity and instead tells me it's a "state issue." I am heartened when the "real candidate for change" stands in a black church and speaks against homophobia, but dismayed when he never speaks on the need to end it completely to achieve equality.
I demand equality without asterisks, without caveats. That's something I can support.
I want change that does not shift the prejudices and oppression of the mainstream to the minority on the next rung down on the ladder We do this, eager to shift the harsh glare of societal contempt from one group to the next, without regard for the consequences to our collective freedom.
I want change in every area of society the way Spain handled the marriage equity issue. I challenge anyone to suggest Spain is not a legitimately religious country. Yet, with a handful of words added to their constitution, and a few eloquent sentences from their Prime Minister, the legislation passed. In fact, when the law was passed, José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, Spain's Prime Minister, said simply, "...a decent society is one that does not humiliate its members."
When I talk about change in the context of social justice, equality and social advancement, I am not discounting progress. Progress is important and it gives us hope. And while it may only influence a small part of society, it remains a beacon for the whole. But progress is a process and not a goal, and we must not be placated by the process causing us to lose sight of the goals.
Equality of opportunity is a goal worth fighting for. It would demand real change demonstrated by legislation, public policy and a revolutionary shift in our society's attitudes towards differences. The result would be a society where women no longer bang their heads against the glass ceiling, and people of color, the poor, the GLBT and every other minority community cease to be legally marginalized and federally humiliated. This changed society would reflect at long last a world where everyone is able to achieve some measure of equal access to the oft talked about, but elusive, American dream of having the same opportunities, responsibilities and restrictions as everyone else.
Change resonates through the entire of society and in its wake whole groups of people have tangibly better lives, more rights, responsibilities and protections. I am looking for this when I hear politicians speak of change.
I look at my options for November 2008: a maverick Veteran, a Mormon businessman, a female "voice of experience" and the bi-racial "candidate for real change" and I don't feel spoilt for choice.
It won't mean a change for America just to elect a woman or black person to the helm. I cringe when people suggest it, the subtext being somewhere between "we recognize how hard it is for a minority to rise to these heights (but we don't want too many of you trying)" and a pat-on-the-back of "aren't we a brave and noble nation for considering a woman and a black guy to lead us!"
I haven't made up my mind. But of the two candidates I can look at without bile rising in my throat, I'd take either over another Republican with more surges, abstinence-only programs, anti-abortion legislation and misappropriated evangelical furor. Because I too feel I must be satisfied with progress, even if I don't see it leading to real change in real time - or even in my lifetime.
Friday, February 8, 2008
Just saw this on TV and was happy to find it on the Comedy Central site. I can't say I'm one of Joe Solomonese's biggest fans, but I do like this one. And I have to give him credit for the terrific shudder/grimace in Part 2 of the episode.
Joe Solomonese on the Colbert Report
Gay Christian wins £47k pay-out
A gay Christian who won a discrimination claim against the Church of England was awarded more than £47,000 in compensation today, the organisation backing him said.
John Reaney, a 42-year-old from North Wales, took the Hereford Diocesan Board of Finance to an employment tribunal after his appointment to the role of youth worker was blocked on the grounds of his sexuality by the Bishop of Hereford, the Rt Rev Anthony Priddis.
Stonewall, the gay equality organisation which funded the claim, said the Diocese of Hereford was today ordered to pay Mr Reaney £47,345.
A spokesman for Stonewall said this included £33,000 for loss of future earnings and £7,000 damages specifically awarded for "psychiatric injury".
Stonewall chief executive Ben Summerskill said: "We’re delighted that the tribunal has sent such a robust signal, both to the bishop and other employers.
"The substantial level of compensation sends out a very clear message. Not even a bishop is above this law."
According to Stonewall the Bishop's costs are estimated to be a further #50,000.
Stonewall added that the tribunal had also said it expects the Bishop to undergo equal opportunities training.
The tribunal, sitting in Cardiff, ruled in July that: "The respondents discriminated against the claimant on the grounds of sexual orientation."
I have to admit that in recent weeks I've been feeling more and more uncomfortable with the tone of the Barack Obama campaign and his fervent followers. I'm beginning to see parallels between them and fervent Bush worshippers.
The Obama crowd may not be so overtly denominational as the Bush group is, but it does seem very much like the "oh-so-nuage" styles of Joel Osteen, Tony Robbins, or Robert Schuller, very heavy on the vague "power of positive thinking" stuff while lacking detail on the issues. Apparently I'm not the only one, as Jake Tapper of ABC shows us.
Sure, Obama is a hugely talented orator and quite the handsome fellow too. I even find a very pleasing quality in his voice, a very welcome change from Dubya, who affects me like 1000 fingernails simultaneously scratching blackboards. "Charismatic" is probably a fair description for Obama, I think. I enjoy hearing him speak just like many others do. But I keep waiting for him to put all that vague stuff away and start dealing with policy and issues.
Sure, after the last 16 years of right-wing toxicity who wouldn't want a change? But it seem to me that's a foregone conclusion. I want to know exactly what's planned to make this change. So far I've paid most attention to what he's been saying about civil rights and health insurance, and I've not been impressed when he becomes a little bit specific.
And Obama Wept
Inspiration is nice. But some folks seem to be getting out of hand.
It's as if Tom Daschle descended from on high saying, "Be not afraid; for behold I bring you good tidings of great joy which shall be to all the people: for there is born to you this day in the city of Chicago a Savior, who is Barack the Democrat."
Obama supporter Kathleen Geier writes that she's "getting increasingly weirded out by some of Obama's supporters. On listservs I'm on, some people who should know better – hard-bitten, not-so-young cynics, even – are gushing about Barack…
Describing various encounters with Obama supporters, she writes, "Excuse me, but this sounds more like a cult than a political campaign. The language used here is the language of evangelical Christianity – the Obama volunteers speak of 'coming to Obama' in the same way born-again Christians talk about 'coming to Jesus.'...So I say, we should all get a grip, stop all this unseemly mooning over Barack, see him and the political landscape he is a part of in a cooler, clearer, and more realistic light, and get to work."
Joe Klein, writing at Time, notes "something just a wee bit creepy about the mass messianism" he sees in Obama's Super Tuesday speech.
"We are the ones we've been waiting for," Obama said. "This time can be different because this campaign for the presidency of the United States of America is different. It's different not because of me. It's different because of you."
Says Klein: "That is not just maddeningly vague but also disingenuous: the campaign is entirely about Obama and his ability to inspire. Rather than focusing on any specific issue or cause — other than an amorphous desire for change — the message is becoming dangerously self-referential. The Obama campaign all too often is about how wonderful the Obama campaign is."
The always interesting James Wolcott writes that "(p)erhaps it's my atheism at work but I found myself increasingly wary of and resistant to the salvational fervor of the Obama campaign, the idealistic zeal divorced from any particular policy or cause and chariot-driven by pure euphoria. I can picture President Hillary in the White House dealing with a recalcitrant Republican faction; I can't picture President Obama in the same role because his summons to history and call to hope seems to transcend legislative maneuvers and horse-trading; his charisma is on a more ethereal plane, and I don't look to politics for transcendence and self-certification."
Then there's MSNBC's Chris Matthews who tells Felix Gillette in the New York Observer, “I’ve been following politics since I was about 5. I’ve never seen anything like this. This is bigger than Kennedy. [Obama] comes along, and he seems to have the answers. This is the New Testament."
And behold, Obama met them and greeted them. And they came up and took hold of His feet and worshiped Him.
The Holy Season of Lent is upon us. Can Obama worshippers try to give up their Helter-Skelter cult-ish qualities for a few weeks?
At least until Easter, or the Pennsylvania primary, whichever comes
Wednesday, February 6, 2008
The San Francisco Chronicle is reporting that Barack Obama refused to have his picture taken with San Francisco mayer Gavin Newsome during the time of the gay marriage controversy. [...] Today, of course, Obama's people are backpedaling away from that account like crazy. His deputy campaign director, Steve Hildebrand, who lives with his partner as an openly gay man, calls it "a ridiculous story." "Barack Obama gets his picture taken with gay people all the time," Hildebrand said. "Including me, his deputy campaign manager."
But just four years ago, current Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama is said to have declined to have his picture taken in San Francisco with Newsom, who was then at the center of a national uproar over his decision to allow same-sex marriage in San Francisco.
"I gave a fundraiser, at his (Obama's) request at the Waterfront restaurant," said former San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown. "And he said to me, he would really appreciate it if he didn't get his photo taken with my mayor. He said he would really not like to have his picture taken with Gavin."
But insiders at City Hall, both current and former members of Newsom's staff, recall the incident well. And you can bet that Newsom hasn't forgotten it either.
"He was pissed," said one former staffer.
In fact, early last year, Newsom alluded to the incident in an interview at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. Speaking to Reuters on Jan. 26, 2007, Newsom was asked about three potential Democratic candidates: Obama, Hillary Clinton and Al Gore.
He was asked about the flak he took after announcing that San Francisco would allow same-sex marriages - flak that included claims he had helped Republicans by handing them a wedge issue heading into a presidential election year. In the interview, Newsom admitted he'd been hammered over the decision. "And I'm not just saying from Republicans," he added at the time.
"One of the three Democrats you mentioned as presidential candidates, as God is my witness, will not be photographed with me, will not be in the same room with me," Newsom told Reuters, "even though I've done fundraisers for that particular person - not once, but twice - because of this issue."
Today, of course, Obama's people are backpedaling away from that account like crazy. His deputy campaign director, Steve Hildebrand, who lives with his partner as an openly gay man, calls it "a ridiculous story." "Barack Obama gets his picture taken with gay people all the time," Hildebrand said. "Including me, his deputy campaign manager."
Tuesday, February 5, 2008
This is an issue very close to me as I am a recent retiree from the health care industry. I sold my practice and retired earlier than planned because I simply did not want to deal with the insurance nightmare any longer. I suppose one of these days I should sit down and write out a long article about my experiences ... and even name names. But for now I'm still enjoying not having to think about it at all.
This issue has become the make or break deal for regarding the current race for nominations. I recall turning on a Republican debate a few months ago when they were discussing the health care crisis. I was shocked. I don't recall every hearing so much stupidity in one place .... ever. That's when I realized that the Republican slate is best suited to be the cast of a National Lampoon movie.
Of the remaining Democrats, there is only one candidate with a realistic plan born of many years of hard work and careful thought. The other seems to be the stuff of political sloganeering.
Jack Krugman has written a piece that attempts to bring to light the work of some researchers.
The principal policy division between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama involves health care. It’s a division that can seem technical and obscure — and I’ve read many assertions that only the most wonkish care about the fine print of their proposals. But as I’ve tried to explain in previous columns, there really is a big difference between the candidates’ approaches. And new research, just released, confirms what I’ve been saying: the difference between the plans could well be the difference between achieving universal health coverage — a key progressive goal — and falling far short.
Specifically, new estimates say that a plan resembling Mrs. Clinton’s would cover almost twice as many of those now uninsured as a plan resembling Mr. Obama’s — at only slightly higher cost. Let’s talk about how the plans compare.
Both plans require that private insurers offer policies to everyone, regardless of medical history. Both also allow people to buy into government-offered insurance instead. And both plans seek to make insurance affordable to lower-income Americans. The Clinton plan is, however, more explicit about affordability, promising to limit insurance costs as a percentage of family income. And it also seems to include more funds for subsidies.
But the big difference is mandates: the Clinton plan requires that everyone have insurance; the Obama plan doesn’t.
Mr. Obama claims that people will buy insurance if it becomes affordable. Unfortunately, the evidence says otherwise. After all, we already have programs that make health insurance free or very cheap to many low-income Americans, without requiring that they sign up. And many of those eligible fail, for whatever reason, to enroll. An Obama-type plan would also face the problem of healthy people who decide to take their chances or don’t sign up until they develop medical problems, thereby raising premiums for everyone else. Mr. Obama, contradicting his earlier assertions that affordability is the only bar to coverage, is now talking about penalizing those who delay signing up — but it’s not clear how this would work. So the Obama plan would leave more people uninsured than the Clinton plan. How big is the difference?
To answer this question you need to make a detailed analysis of health care decisions. That’s what Jonathan Gruber of M.I.T., one of America’s leading health care economists, does in a new paper. Mr. Gruber finds that a plan without mandates, broadly resembling the Obama plan, would cover 23 million of those currently uninsured, at a taxpayer cost of $102 billion per year. An otherwise identical plan with mandates would cover 45 million of the uninsured — essentially everyone — at a taxpayer cost of $124 billion. Over all, the Obama-type plan would cost $4,400 per newly insured person, the Clinton-type plan only $2,700.
That doesn’t look like a trivial difference to me. One plan achieves more or less universal coverage; the other, although it costs more than 80 percent as much, covers only about half of those currently uninsured.
As with any economic analysis, Mr. Gruber’s results are only as good as his model. But they’re consistent with the results of other analyses, such as a 2003 study, commissioned by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, that compared health reform plans and found that mandates made a big difference both to success in covering the uninsured and to cost-effectiveness. And that’s why many health care experts like Mr. Gruber strongly support mandates.
Robin Morgan gives us a reality check. This is an excerpt. Be sure to find time to read the entire essay.
Goodbye To All That (#2) by Robin Morgan
Goodbye to the double standard . . .
—Hillary is too ballsy but too womanly, a Snow Maiden who’s emotional, and so much a politician as to be unfit for politics.
—She’s “ambitious” but he shows “fire in the belly.” (Ever had
—When a sexist idiot screamed “Iron my shirt!” at HRC, it was
considered amusing; if a racist idiot shouted “Shine my shoes!” at BO, it
would’ve inspired hours of airtime and pages of newsprint analyzing our national
—Young political Kennedys—Kathleen, Kerry, and Bobby Jr.—all
endorsed Hillary. Senator Ted, age 76, endorsed Obama. If the situation were
reversed, pundits would snort “See? Ted and establishment types back her, but
the forward-looking generation backs him.” (Personally, I’m unimpressed with
Caroline’s longing for the Return of the Fathers. Unlike the rest of the world,
Americans have short memories. Me, I still recall Marilyn Monroe’s suicide, and
a dead girl named Mary Jo Kopechne in Chappaquiddick.)
Goodbye to the toxic viciousness . . .
Carl Bernstein's disgust at Hillary’s “thick ankles.” Nixon-trickster Roger Stone’s new Hillary-hating 527 group, “Citizens United Not Timid” (check the capital letters). John McCain answering “How do we beat the bitch?" with “Excellent question!” Would he have dared reply similarly to “How do we beat the black bastard?” For shame.
Goodbye to the HRC nutcracker with metal spikes between splayed
thighs. If it was a tap-dancing blackface doll, we would be righteously
outraged—and they would not be selling it in airports. Shame.
Goodbye to the most intimately violent T-shirts in election history, including one with the murderous slogan “If Only Hillary had married O.J. Instead!” Shame.
Goodbye to Comedy Central’s “Southpark” featuring a storyline in which terrorists secrete a bomb in HRC’s vagina. I refuse to wrench my brain down into the gutter far enough to find a race-based comparison. For shame.
Goodbye to the sick, malicious idea that this is funny. This is not “Clinton hating,” not “Hillary hating.” This is sociopathic woman-hating. If it were about Jews, we would recognize it instantly as anti-Semitic propaganda; if about race, as KKK poison. Hell, PETA would go ballistic if such vomitous spew were directed at animals. Where is our sense of outrage—as citizens, voters, Americans?