Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Showing Some Love for Joe.My.God

If you're so inclined, take a moment to check out Joe Jervis' absolutely incredible blog at Joe.My.God.  He's gotten twitter shout outs from Rachel Maddow among others and he's actually managed to scoop the mainstream press on several issues, the most current one being Dr. Laura's decision, last night on Larry King, to leave her radio show at the end of they year.

His reporting and writing is clear and concise and he clearly labels his sources.  He is a true journalist in my book.  His blog is well worth your time; I check it every day and always find it informative and enjoyable.

Plus, he's really easy on the eyes, if you're into hot bear type dudes.  ;)

Once Again in the News....

Sometimes, I really hate my home state; today is such a day.  Just once, I'd like to see some headlines that doesn't make South Carolina look like it's totally populated by morons, extreme conservatives and psychopaths. Witness the story of Shaquan Duley, the mother who, in an eerie echo of Susan Smith, smothered her two sons and then drove her car into a river to make it seemed as if they young boys had drowned.

Let me clarify a few points before my coming comments:  I don't know Ms. Duley, nor do I know her family or her home situation.  All I know of this story, like you, gentle readers, is what I've read in the AP and seen on the news.  Orangeburg is not close to me and is, in fact, around two hours south of me.

Now for the comments:  There was absolutely ZERO excuse for Ms. Duley's behavior.  She is 29 years old, has been a mother for five years (she has a 5 year old son who is still alive) and there's nothing that's been reported about a diminished mental capacity.  She should know better.  She has admitted to smothering a 2 year old and an 18 month old with her own hands, placing them in a car, driving it into the river and then lying to passers by and the police about what happened.

I hope they throw the book at her.

Children are a sacred gift.  Even were they unwanted, there are many, many options that Ms. Dulay could have used to safely be rid of the children.  If she would have taken the children to the nearest hospital and told them that she was thinking about hurting the children, they would have been put into protective custody pending an investigation.  Bam!  Problem solved.

As a fairly bleeding heart liberal, I felt a moment (and only a teeny tiny moment) of white guilt when I first heard this story.  My brain immediately went into "we have failed her as a society" mode while I was reading. For that, I apologize to those two young boys.  This wasn't a failure of society; this was a spoiled woman who refused to live up to the responsibility of her own actions.  By bringing those children into the world, she had a responsibility to take care of them, even if it meant giving them up.  By murdering those boys, she took the easy way out and my soul cries out for vengeance against her.  Forget justice; there's no justice for those two boys.  I want vengeance, pure and simple and I'm struggling against my long-held repulsion at the death penalty.

I need to go take a shower and brush my teeth now.  The bile is making me nauseous. 

Friday, August 13, 2010

The Resurgence of the Wife Beater

Okay, I've been away for a little while, mostly because I am growing increasingly frustrated with the pop culture mentality of our current politics and society.  I do keep up with the news and goings on of pop culture, though, since I seem to be a glutton for punishment.

Recently, we've seen the "comeback" of Eminem with his new song "Love the Way You Lie."  With Rhianna guesting on the singing part of the song and a slickly polished video starring Dominic Monaghan and Megan Fox, it seems that the former Slim Shady is back on top of the rap and pop worlds, as I first heard this song at, of all places, a gay bar.

To be completely honest, I fairly detest Eminem.  I find him incredibly misogynistic, homophobic and dangerously violent in his lyrics.  At the gay bar, however, it was much too noisy to hear the lyrics.  I had briefly heard the beginning of a story on this new song (before I quickly changed the channel) and that it was a departure from the norm; a new, gentler Eminem, so to speak.  So, I decided to give him another fair shake, as I appreciate his talent for writing, even though I deplore the message he gives (see this post about the Tea Party I did earlier for my rationale here).

Cue my Google-fu skills:  I went to YouTube to watch the video and googled the lyrics so I could read along as the video played.  My reaction, you ask?  My first thought as I was reading the lyrics and watching the video was most likely "What the fuck?" followed by "Oh wow."

You'll remember this story:  the short of it is that Rhianna and Chris Brown were a couple and he beat the snot out of her.  She took him back and he did it again.  She dumped him.

Now Rhianna is doing the singing part of the song for Eminem.  Her lyrical part:  "Just gonna stand there and watch me burn/But that's all right because I like the way it hurts/Just gonna stand there and watch me cry/But that's all right because I love the way you lie/Love the way you lie."  Fairly innocuous, right?  That's what I thought as the song began (and this was the main clip I remembered from the bar as I really like Rhianna's voice, so it stood out for me).

So, to contrast, let's study Eminem's rap, specifically the last part of the song.  "Don't you hear sincerity in my voice when I talk/Told you this is my fault/Look me in the eyeball/Next time I'm pissed/I'll aim my fist at the drywall/Next time there will be no next time/I apologize even though I know it's lies/I'm tired of the games I just want her back/I know I'm a liar/If she ever tries to fucking leave again I'mma tie her to the bed/And set the house on fire."

Thus the "What the fuck?."  How in the world could someone who has been a victim of domestic violence agree to have anything to do with this song?  I very strongly believe in never blaming the victim or criticizing the methods with which someone deals with their trauma, but does Rhianna honestly comprehend the way this makes her look to the public, particularly women who may also be dealing with abuse?

And then let's talk about Megan Fox and Dominic Monaghan.  My personal opinions aside (I pretty much think of Megan Fox as a no-talent media whore), I fail to understand why the two would sign up to be in this video, which, by the way, is chock-full of incredibly violent imagery, towards both of them in a domestic abuse scenario.  

This is the kind of thing our society has come to celebrate and it makes me sick to my stomach.  That anyone could glorify these lyrics and video by giving it airplay is morally disgusting to me.  I can deal with violence; "Cop Killer" was, in my opinion, a necessary song for it's time and opened up eyes and dialogue where the issues were pretty much being ignored.  But there's no underlying message behind this song other than "I'm justified in beating the shit out of my significant other, tying her to a bed and burning the house around her."  So much for the new Eminem.

There is absolutely nothing "romantic" about a partner doing physical violence to their significant other.  It's not love, it's not even lust.  It's power, domination and control, akin to rape.  It worries me that this is being called a "sappy love song" in some of the comments on YouTube.  If this is the new generation's idea of love, we're in trouble as a society, and I can assure you that same-sex marriage has NOTHING to do with this deterioration of the sanctity of marital relations.  Why aren't the conservatives/religious right screaming at the top of their lungs about this?  Probably for the same reason that it was once legal to beat your wife in my home town, as long as it was done on the courthouse steps on a Sunday afternoon with a switch no bigger than the husband's thumb.  Yay traditional marriage.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Memorial Day part 5

More protest music leading up to the Memorial Day post, which I will do as my own video!  I don't know if anyone's following or not, but I have decided to do a video for Memorial Day where I will talk about the things that are important to me.

Today's music is a mixed bunch.  We start off with an independent artist, Catie Curtis, who wrote "People Look Around" in response to the tragedy of Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans.  With the gulf oil spill, it's sadly appropriate again.

Catie Curtis - "People Look Around"



Next up is a humorous video by Tom Lehrer.  If you're not familiar with him, check out his other videos on YouTube as he blends humor with relevence.

Tom Lehrer  - "Send the Marines"


And last up for today is the best folk singer to ever put word to paper.  Pete Seeger is recognized as the person singularly responsible for the folk music revival in the late 50s and he wrote many songs that are staples today.  "Bring 'Em Home" is about the soldiers in the Vietnam War.

Pete Seeger - "Bring 'Em Home"

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Memorial Day Part 4

Okay, today is back to the trenches, so to speak, with war protest songs.  

For our first number, here's Peter, Paul and Mary (and Mary Travers is sorely missed), with a song written by Bob Dylan, which I'm sure you know.

Peter, Paul and Mary - "Blowing In the Wind"


Next, we return to the wonderful Suzanne Vega.

Suzanne Vega - "The Queen and the Soldier"


And finally, my favorite protest singer of all time, Phil Ochs, who is also sorely missed these days.

Phil Ochs - "I Ain't Marching Anymore"

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Memorial Day Part 3

Today, I'm going to post about a subject that is very important to me with some wonderful songs that touch on the topic of child abuse.  With all the press recently about the Catholic Church and the apparent systemic perpetuation of abuses of children, I felt it was incredibly appropriate.

Children come into this world with no choice of their own.  Even if one follows the christian tradition of "the sins of the father are visited on the children," a child is defenseless and must depend on the adults in their lives to grow and prosper, becoming adults themselves.  Sadly, there are adults who literally hold the power of live and death over these children and prey on their weakness.

Abuse can take many forms; the physical and sexual garners the most attention.  The mental torture can leave scars that, while not visible, are as long lasting and dangerous.  This first song, by Genesis, touches on the power that words can have in shaping a child's life.

Genesis - "No Son of Mine"


Being helpless to stop abuse sometimes isn't just a child's problem.  Natalie Merchant describes an adult who is witnessing abuse, but feels powerless to do anything about it.

Natalie Merchant - "What's the Matter Here?"



Children often lie about their various bruises and the torture they are going through, both because of a sense of shame and fear of further abuse.  One of my favorite artists, Suzanne Vega, describes such an encounter with a neighbor child.

Suzanne Vega - "Luka"



Though my dear friend Free posted this video last month on his wonderful blog, I feel that it's more current than ever and I have a strong desire that Sinead O'Connor needs vindication for her courageous actions more than 20 years ago.  On her infamous Saturday Night Live performance, which fairly ruined her career in the US, she attempted to bring attention to the horrors that are now too large to cover up, the abuse going on in the Catholic church.

Sinead O'Connor - "War"


Sinéad O'Connor - WAR - SNL - For more amazing video clips, click here

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Memorial Day Part 2

Continuing on with the Memorial Day protest music, I decided, given the current climate through what seems like the entire world these days, to go with straight out anti-war music.  The first one is from one of my favorite singer/songwriters ever, Phil Ochs and the second is from Freda Payne, best known for her 60s hit "Band of Gold."

Enjoy.

Phil Ochs - I Ain't A'Marching Anymore



Freda Payne - Bring The Boys Home

Monday, May 24, 2010

Memorial Day

I have a friend who does an internet radio show, playing mostly acoustic, singer/songwriter type music, though he does other genres as well.  Since I am a big acoustic music fan, I started listening to his radio shows and became friends with him and introduced him to new artists and music, which he would feature on his shows.

One year, as Memorial Day was approaching, he wanted to do something a little different for the holiday weekend, so I suggested, as the war in Afghanistan and Iraq were in full motion and Bush had not yet declared "Victory," that he do a weekend of protest music.  Not necessarily war protest, though those types of songs are much easier to find, but all kinds of protest.  To my mind, what better way to honor those who have died fighting for America than to use our First Amendment rights.

I know most people won't agree with me on this; that Memorial Day would be a time of patriotic propaganda meant to glorify fallen soldiers and extoll America's willingness to fight and die for what we hold dear.  That's fine.  Just as I don't agree with most things the Republicans believe (and almost NOTHING the Tea Party believes), diversity is a good thing. 

So in the spirit of how I remember Memorial Day, and in homage to my good friend Larzdapunk, I'll be giving you some of my favorite protest music from now until Memorial Day.  I hope you enjoy it.

Rhen


Tom Paxton and Friends - She Sits on the Table

Nina Simone - I Wish I Knew How It Would Feel To Be Free (Live)

Thursday, May 20, 2010

The Truth Revealed?

Okay, so if you've read this blog before, you know I have a problem with the Tea Party Movement.  What I hadn't vocalized, though, were my suspicions about the entire motivations ultimately responsible for the beginning of this so-called "Grass Roots Movement."

Now, I don't have to.  Rand Paul does it for me.




As I told a friend at work, the one who claims he was a "Tea Partier before there was a Tea Party," my suspicion was that the entire movement was based on the discontent about a black man being our president.  No one will come out and say that; after all it's the 21st century and race relations are "so much better" these days.  And admitting that one is racist is political suicide, even in the deep south.

However, I am nothing if not pragmatic.  I am of the post-segregation generation.  I have seen racism, on scales both large and small.  My father was a racist.  Most of his family were racists.  I have worked, and still do work, with racists.  The customers who patronize my business are racists.  And I have known racist politicians.

So, when I hear about people questioning the fact that Obama isn't legally president because he won't/can't produce a birth certificate, in my mind, they're using that as a cover story because they can't say what they really mean:  Obama can't be president because he's black.  When I hear someone talking about Obama's "socialist agenda", I translate it as "black agenda."  And when the Republicans, en masse, stall every piece of legislation or nomination that comes through the Senate, I think they're doing it because of race.

I'm not saying that everyone is a racist, far from it.  But it would be incredibly naive of me to think that race has nothing to do with the current political climate in this country.  I got into an argument with two friends of mine who are professors at a private college here.  They claimed that race relations are better currently than they ever have been.  I told them they were wrong; that the only reason they seem so is because it's illegal to do the kinds of things that were done before the Civil Rights Act was passed.

And if Rand Paul does have a "Tea Party Mandate," will that include trying to take us back to a time when the Civil Rights Act doesn't exist?  Is this the whole aim of those in power with the Tea Party?

I think so, but I'm a pragmatist.  I hope and pray that I'm wrong.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Emotion can be a powerful motivator

So I was working on a post last night dissecting the Manhattan Declaration, but I found out that I'm really, really rusty on writing those kind of analytical papers.  I'll struggle on with it, though and share it with you when I feel it's worthy of reading.

But the emotions that I felt, not only from reading that piece of vileness disguised as morality, but from other things going on these days in both my own life and the world, refused to be bottled up.  Something else I'm rather rusty on is writing poetry.  I haven't set down pencil to paper to write verse in, well, longer than I'd care to admit.  Early this morning though, the words just seemed to come, so I thought I'd share them with you.

LOVE LIKE JUSTICE
That statue up there --
The one with the scales,
You know her.
That's my love - eyes plucked out
By those who tell me
I've no right
To see his face as he
Puts a ring on my finger.

TO OUR FIERCE ALLY
There's all kinds of allies.
Daniel had a Strong Ally
When God made those lions
Lie down before him.
Timmy had a Faithful Ally;
Lassie was always there
After all.
Hell
Even Ol' Bush had a Determined Ally
Who'd say "Fuck You"
When needed.
Mr. Obama, I think you need
To look up the words
"Fierce" and "Ally"
In Webster's.

DAMN YOU, BP
I'd like to say the only
Oil I use is to cook --
But then I remember plastic.

THE WORLD I KNOW
I know Wiis
But I remember Ataris.
I know Ipods
But I remember 8-tracks.
I know the Internet
But I remember BBS.
I know cell phones
But I remember party lines.
I know inner peace
But I remember god.

Monday, May 10, 2010

RIP Lena Horne

This seems to be swiftly becoming the year for losing people that I've long admired.  I just received the news that Lena Horne, one of my favorite artists ever, has passed away at the age of 92.

Starting in New York at the famous Cotton Club, Ms. Horne went on to performances in movies such as Cabin In the Sky and performed the title song for the movie Stormy Weather.  Unfortunately due to the times, Ms. Horne's performance in Stormy Weather was a stand-alone part, designed to be cut out of the movie in the South, where scenes by black performers couldn't be shown.

Ms. Horne was blacklisted during the 50's McCarthy era for her progressive political views.  She went on recording and performing in nightclubs and then participated in the March on Washington in 1963.  She was also a staple on the late 50's and 60's variety shows.

I'm sure there are more comprehensive biographies of Ms. Horne out there, so I'll let you search for them if you wish, but I'd like to share some of my favorite clips of Lena Horne, via YouTube with you.   I love her voice; it was distinctly unique in the world, much like Ella Fitzgerald's.  But where Fitzgerald was an earthly presence on the screen, Ms. Horne radiated royalty.  When she was performing, everyone took notice.  Her bearing was regal, her voice sharp and majestic and her movements deliberate.  She was a true artist, the likes of which we are sorely lacking today.  She will be deeply missed.



Sunday, May 9, 2010

Happy Mother's Day

So, since today is the day we honor Mothers for their sacrifices and devotion, I thought I'd share some examples from nature of what motherhood is all about.  Enjoy.  :)

And Happy Mother's Day to my mom and all other mothers who might be reading.
















And the hits just keep on coming.....

It’s been a rough year for the Catholic church.  As more and more scandals concerning the covering up of sexual molestation of children pour into the media, we get this story from Charlotte, NC.

Perhaps the Church should stay silent, like they have on the proposed Ugandan legislation, even though other religions have thrown in their opposition to such a measure?

I think I’ve made my disdain for the Catholic Church well known; if not, then the following video should make them very clear.

(Warning: Extremely Not-Safe-For-Work, or a Catholic Mass)



Anyone who knowingly shields a pedophile from prosecution is a monster.  Even if it’s done for “humanitarian” reasons, such as the perpetrator’s advanced age, or promises to remove themselves from working with children.  The damage that the pedophile has done is permanent; a small measure of healing may be possible from seeing their molester face punishment.

Hint to Ratzinger:  Throwing money at a problem rarely makes it go away.  And it tends to make you look like a buffoon when everything’s said and done.  Check out Mark 11:15.  Perhaps Jesus himself should pay a visit to the Vatican and throw out those people who would give money to pay for the crimes done to these children?

My Take on George Rekers et al.

I’ve been wanting to do a post for a while about the whole “Gays can be cured” movement in this country and the recent news about George Rekers gives me the perfect opportunity to make one.

In case you haven’t been keeping up with the news, here’s a link to the Miami News Times, who broke the story and there’s a video below by my favorite newsperson, Rachel Maddow.  They can explain what happened better than I.



I first became interested in doing a post about this by coming across this article by Ted Cox, in which he, a straight reporter posing as a closeted gay man, describes his experience in a gay-to-straight conversion weekend.  It’s compelling reading, if a little frightening.

There’s also this story about the proposed bill going through the Uganadan parliament right now.  Apparently, one of the sources they used as “research” into the proposal to further criminalize homosexuality with, in some cases, the death penalty, was Richard Cohen’s book, “Coming Out Straight.”  I have a particular venomous attitude toward Richard Cohen, as he continues to espouse his views even after being expelled from every legitimate Psychiatric/Psychological  association there is.  Cohen is a very outspoken proponent of “ex-gay” therapy, claiming that he, himself, is “ex-gay” and now a married father of three and is the founder of the International Healing Foundation, a conversion program with an innocuous sounding name.  Caleb Lee Brundidge, a “sexual reorientation coach” for IHF, was recorded speaking before a Ugandan conference on homosexuality, video below.  Apparently, Brundidge isn't aware of Lawrence v. Texas.



In my good friend Free’s post about this issue, I said “Schadenfreude, indeed. As Rekers' religion teaches, he is now reaping what he sowed. James Dobson was incredibly quick to drop all ties with Rekers as soon as the story broke, removing any links from Focus on the Family's website to Rekers' site.
“Although it seems petty and cruel of me, I WANT Rekers to see what life is like on my side of the fence. I want him to be ostracized and degraded because of what he is. And I want it to be incredibly public, just as Ted Haggard's was. Perhaps it will help to show those of a moderate bent that their "gays can be cured/are less than human" views are simply pure hypocrisy.”

I mean every word of that quote.

The psychological damage that these people do, especially to young gay men, is horrific, often irreparable.  For someone who is struggling to come to terms with the fact that their orientation is different from others' and to be told that, through therapy, they can be made “normal” should be a crime.  It is hate, pure and simple.

And, at least in Rekers’ case, it’s a simple matter of self-loathing.


UPDATE:  Thanks to Joe of Joe.My.God, I found this response to the Rekers story by Rentboy.com.  (Be careful; while this post is SFW, the Rentboy.com site certainly isn't.)

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

My Main Problem with the Tea Party Part Two

As I said in part one of this post, my main problem with the "Tea Party" movement is that the people in the crowd protesting either have their facts wrong or just don't know what they're protesting.  And here's a video clip from a Tea Party rally in my own home state of South Carolina (in fact, in a neighboring city).


There have been rumors about Lindsey Graham's sexuality for as long as I've been in the state of SC.  And yet, he still gets huge amounts of votes from the Republicans in the state.  Now that Senator Graham published this op-ed piece with Democratic Senator Charles Schumer outlining a bi-partisan immigration reform plan, he is suddenly subject to attack by the Tea Partiers.  And they are attacking him for working with a Democrat on the very issue that the speaker represents, you know, his DAY JOB!!!  

William Gheen is the head of ALIPAC, a political action committee for immigration reform.  The headline on their website?  "We must reverse illegal immigration!"  Okay, so wasn't Lindsey Graham trying to do just that?  Why attack him in an area that has nothing whatsoever to do with his politics?  And to claim that he's being blackmailed to keep himself in the closet?  That is pandering of the worst sort, to the lowest form of people, judging by the cries coming from the crowd.

And another point, which Free brought up in my previous post.  Going to TPP.org, which claims to be the Tea Party's "official website," lists "Fiscal Responsibility, Limited Government, Free Market" as their main goals.  Seriously, it's in big bold letters right on the top of their page (which I haven't linked to because I just couldn't make myself do it; if you want, just type it in your web browser's address field.).  

So, where are the protests against Arizona's new immigration law?  This is the most intrusive piece of legislation I've seen come out of the states ever.  Or Oklahoma's new anti-abortion measures?  Preventing private insurance from paying for a medical procedure?  Sounds like a cap on free market to me!  Requiring a woman to watch an ultrasound and get a lecture on fetal development and preventing her from suing a doctor who doesn't give her the information to make an informed choice?  Sounds like serious government intrusion to me!

But, immigration and abortion are something that most of the members of the Tea Party come down solidly against, so it's okay to cap the market or have the government intrude on.  And besides, who really cares if that makes them into hypocrites?  Nobody's gonna remember it in a week, right Senator McConnell?

Speaking about Financial Reform to the Seattle Times, Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell said "You know what happens on Monday or Tuesday versus what happens later is something largely lost on the general public."  Really?  Is the general public that attention deficit?  I think the leaders of the Tea Party movement count on just that.  And it seems to be working.

Monday, April 26, 2010

On Aliens...

Okay, going to show my age here, but with ABCs re-telling of the 1983 miniseries "V", I feel compelled to post about this.

I loved the original miniseries.  To a young kid like myself who was already wise to what was going on in our country at the time, the show was a perfect metaphor for our political climate.  The story line was provocative and edgy.  The imagery, though appearing dated now, was incredible.  I was completely hooked, though not so much with the second miniseries or the abysmal regular series.  So when I heard that the series was coming back, I was hesitant, but reluctantly began to watch it courtesy of Hulu.

I have now watched all eight episodes of the new series.  It's a huge failure to me.  I think the whole "regular people forming militas to fight the tyranny" hits a little too close to home for me now, given the stories coming out of Oklahoma these days.  And the idea (spoilers ahead if you haven't watched!!!!!) of being able to tell if someone is a "terrorist" by their ability to have human emotion is slightly disturbing as well.  Yes, I know these are aliens and not human beings, but still.  It seems to me that the people writing the show have taken the best parts of the original miniseries and left them on the cutting room floor.  I think that the success of shows like Lost and Heroes have made the "mysterious group with a sinister agenda" the trendy thing right now.  The problem is, V is nowhere near as good as Lost or Heroes (at least the first season).

It's also interesting, in news this week, the interview with Dr. Stephen Hawking about his new documentary series.  My favorite quote from the interview?   “We only have to look at ourselves to see how intelligent life might develop into something we wouldn’t want to meet. I imagine they might exist in massive ships, having used up all the resources from their home planet. Such advanced aliens would perhaps become nomads, looking to conquer and colonise whatever planets they can reach.”

I'm not sure that I like the idea of Earth closing itself off from the rest of the universe.  If there is indeed intelligent life out there, I'd like to know about it and meet them.  It would be interesting to see if they were more advanced than us or if we can expect many more generations of our current issues.  Of course, there's always the possibility, promoted by Dr. Hawking, that any aliens we meet could turn out like this:

My Main Problem with the Tea Party

So, I'm having a conversation with a friend of mine at work who identifies himself as "Tea Party before there was a Tea Party."  He's staunchly conservative and a huge proponent of "small government."  He and I have had some very interesting conversations over the years and our political and social views are diametrically opposed.

As I was ranting (yes, I admit I was ranting) about the new Arizona new Immigration Law, we began to talk about Grass Roots Movements and he asked me what I thought about the Tea Party Movement.  I told him that I think true Grass Roots Movements are a great thing for this country and that most of the genuine progress we've seen on social issues in this country have sprung from such.  However, I think that there is an ulterior motive to the Tea Party Movement.  To clarify my point, I said that the people who come out to attend these Tea Party protests don't really seem to understand what it is that they are protesting.  They come to these protests using government-funded mass transit to protest overspending by the government.  They rail against the Health Care Reform law, saying they don't want government run health care, and hold up signs saying "Leave my Medicare Alone."

While reading over Talking Points Memo, I found this video, which is from  New Left Media (their bias is directly in their name as opposed to say, Fox News).  I wanted to share this with you.


Now, as I said, I'm all for Grass Roots Movements.  I even support the right of obviously disturbed people like the Westboro Baptist Church to share their views.  This is what makes our country great.  That being said, I think that if one is going to be out there protesting against something that the government is supposedly doing, it's not too much to ask to make sure that the government is actually doing what you say they're doing, instead of just listening to hyperbole or rhetoric by people who make a living doing that, such as Glenn Beck, Bill O'Reilly, Rush Limbaugh and Sarah Palin.  Time and time again, the points that these four in particular have brought up have been proven to be false.  And time and time again, their followers keep spouting that same rhetoric, even when offered proof to the opposite.  How do you debate someone who refuses to listen to facts?

Albert Einstein's famous quote "The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results" seems to apply here.  It makes me almost wish that Snopes.com was required reading.  Or that we could have runners at the bottom of our television screens that say "The program you are watching is most likely biased.  Please do your own research and form your own opinions."  And I would want those runners to be on Rachel Maddow and Keith Olbermann as well, thank you.

I don't trust the media anymore.  None of them.  Every media outlet in this country has an agenda.  So when I read or hear a story that interest me, I do my own research.  In the case of Health Care Reform, I went and read the proposed legislation. I did the same thing with Arizona's new law.  Doing things like this gives me the knowledge I need to enlighten people who think that the Health Care Reform law is socialized medicine.  It's nowhere near that, but the people in the above video don't seem to know that.  In fact, as one senior citizen mentions, they're still holding on to Sarah Palin's "death panel" ideas, even though those were proven to be false over a month before the law was passed.

We have become a country of sheep.  We follow whomever speaks the loudest, uses the most inflammatory words and has the highest ratings.  People are angry; the economy is in the crapper, unemployment benefits continue to go down, costs continue to go up.  Everyone wants to do something, find some outlet for their frustrations and anger, I get that.  But find out what's really going on before you rail against something that's not happening.  I'm incredibly incensed about Palpatine disbanding the Republic's senate and declaring himself Emperor, but I realize that it only happened in the Star Wars movies.  I'm not about to go out in public and make an ass of myself by calling for his overthrow.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

A Perfect Solution for a Stormy Sunday

After a lengthy conversation with my friend Free this morning and enduring the stormy weather that cut a devastating swath through Mississippi last night, I decided to devote today's post to one of my favorite singers, Loreena McKennitt.

While talking about poetry with Free, he mentioned the poem, The Lady of Shalott by Alfred, Lord Tennyson as one of his favorite poems, specifically because of the mention of Camelot and it's sing-song cadence.  I asked him if he had heard of McKennitt because she had set the poem to music and he hadn't.  I'm fairly excited to introduce Loreena's music to someone for the first time, so here you go, Free.  Enjoy it.



Thursday, April 22, 2010

Shades of the Past?

GetEqual, a rather out-spoken LGBTQ rights organization, has gotten some rather interesting, and possibly, disturbing attention lately.

I made this post last week about the heckling done by GetEqual at a fundraiser for California Senator Barbara Boxer.  Two days later, six members, including Lt. Dan Choi, a West Point graduate who was serving in the Army as an Arabic translator and was discharged for revealing he was gay, chained themselves to the White House fence as a protest aimed at ending "Don't Ask, Don't Tell."  Here's the video of what happened:



 I really, really hope that this wasn't a directive from the White House.  If it was, it smacks all over again of President Bush's "No Protest Zones."  I think we need someone from the current administration to explain why the media was pushed away from the protest.  I will write today to the White House via email and ask that question.  If I get a response, I will post it here.

The heckling and protests are only going to get worse for President Obama as long as LGBTQs continue to feel disenfranchised by a president who proclaimed himself "a staunch ally."  One of the things I have most despised about the last ten years in our political races was the use of a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage/civil unions touted around by the Republicans to garner votes.  Now, I'm afraid that the pendulum has swung in the other direction, as the community saw with Bill Clinton.  If this is indeed the case, which only the next two years will tell, then Obama has changed from our great hope to our great disappointment.

Happy Birthday, Lorenzo!

My partner's birthday is today and he went with his friends to Waffle House for a celebration last night.  Hilarity ensued, but I think I'll let the picture of the birthday boy speak for itself:

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Dorothy Height

I just heard this morning that Dorothy Height, the leading woman in the Civil Rights Movement, has died.  Dr. Height has a long history of helping to make conditions better for people, especially women.  She served in a volunteer capacity all of her life, working with various organizations such as the YWCA, National Council of Negro Women, Delta Sigma Theta and was handpicked by Eleanor Roosevelt in 1938 to help plan a World Youth Conference.  She also stood on the podium when Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered his "I Have a Dream" speech.

I'll provide some links for you to find out more about this wonderful lady and the legacy she left us all:


And here's a great speech by Dr. Height.  May she rest in peace.

LGBTQ Activists heckle President Obama

President Obama, at a fundraiser for California Senator Barbara Boxer, was heckled by GetEqual, an LGBTQ rights group.  Here's the video:



And a link to the relevant story:  Los Angeles Independent.

Several commenters to this story on Queerty.com speculated that Obama's promise of "We're going to do that" when hecklers shouted for him to end "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" will come back to bite him later.  I tend to agree.

Thanks to my friend, Free, for alerting me to the story and the discussion that followed.  I asked Free if he thinks that ENDA will pass.  I then asked him if he thought that President Obama would sign it.  See, I don't think that it WILL pass, saving President Obama the unfortunate choice of which segment of the population he will ostracize by signing it into law.  And make no mistake; if ENDA gets to his desk, whichever way he decides to go will piss off some group.

I feel very much let down by President Obama.  I understand that he has many balls to juggle and that recovering from our horrible recession is, and should be, the nation's first priority.  I appreciate the fact that the Health Care Reform was signed into law.  I also applaud him for his recent order that hospitals accepting Medicare/Medicaid can't discriminate and must let the patient decide who can visit and make medical decisions on their behalf.

But it's not enough.  I feel that Obama is doing just enough to trot out to the LGBTQs in 2012.  "Look, I appointed openly gay people to my administration (but not in any positions of real power).  Look, I ordered a study on Don't Ask, Don't Tell (even though several military leaders are for repealing it).  Look, I ordered hospitals to actually act humanely (because even the Republicans realize they can't fight this without looking like the bigots they are)."

I lost a group of friends over just this argument.  When Obama appointed Brad Kiley to the head of the Office of Management and Administration, I was deliriously happy, until I looked at what the Office of Management and Administration actually does.  Kiley is basically a pencil pusher with no real authority to do anything; he implements the policies that Congress decides federal employees will have.  When I complained to my friends that this smelt of pandering politics to me, they pretty much jumped on me en mass.  "But I want full marriage rights now.  I'm tired of waiting," I said.  They told me to be patient; that it takes time.  And one of them actually asked me "Were you planning on getting married anytime soon?"

I should explain:  They were all straight, married people.  Asking me if the reason that I wanted civil rights because I wanted to get married was akin, in my mind, to asking Rosa Parks "Are you planning on riding the bus tomorrow?"  I sent them an email saying that I was incredibly offended and, though I'd already forgiven them for offending me, it was just too exhausting to try and explain myself to them every time we had a discussion.  They didn't understand; after all, the world is made for them.  Not so much for me.

So, my baseline opinion hasn't changed (and yes, I would actually like to get married now).  I want my full civil rights and I want them now.  I want my gay family who are so inclined to be able to serve our country openly, without fear of expulsion.  I want to be able to leave property to my partner if I were to die without it being taken away by the state in a challenge.  I want to be able to adopt, or at least have the option to adopt. Hell, I want to be able to give blood.

I'm tired of waiting.  Obama did some good things but they are not enough.  If the government tried to please everyone during the civil rights era, Rosa Parks would still be riding in the back of the bus.  Why should he pander to the right-wing conservatives now?

Monday, April 19, 2010

A Most Compelling Reason for Marriage Equality

My friend Brian sent me an email today to let me know about the case of Clay Greene, from Sonoma County in California.

Clay, 77 years old,  and his partner of 20 years, Harold, who was 88,  lived in Sonoma County when Harold fell and broke his hip.  According to reports, Clay and Harold had all the proper power of attorney, wills and medical directives filed.  After Harold was admitted to the hospital, county officials were called in, preventing Clay from seeing Harold, and, rather surprisingly, admitted the two men, against their wills, to separate nursing homes.

In court, the county represented Clay as Harold's "roommate" and took control of all of Harold's resources.  They cancelled the lease on the house that Clay and Harold had rented and sold off all the possessions in the home, without trying to determine which possessions were Harold's and which were Clay's.  The court also gave the county access to Harold's bank account to pay for his care.

Harold died three months after he was placed in a nursing home.  Clay never saw Harold alive again after he took him to the hospital for his broken hip.  The final three months of Harold's life were spent alone, without the company of his 20 year companion.  And the only thing Clay has left of his last 20 years is a photo album he made for Harold.  He has not been able to recover any of the property that was his, let alone any of their shared possessions.

Clay is suing Sonoma County.  Here's the link to the lawsuit filed in court by Clay and the Executor of Harold's Will; the National Center for Lesbian Rights is helping with the legal representation.

So, tell me how "separate but equal" works here?  While doing research for this blog post, I came across another story of an elderly heterosexual couple who were treated somewhat similarly, though they were placed in a nursing home TOGETHER.  Their situation is horrible as well, but at least they have their long-time companions with them.

When my partner was sent to the hospital by ambulance because of an asthma attack, I was refused when I asked to ride along in the ambulance with him.  I was told I wasn't family.  We live together, we share each other's lives, we laugh together, we cry together and we have sex.  We raise a puppy together, pay bills together and spend a significant amount of time together.  How are we not "family?"  Why is the fact that we are two men instead of a man and woman so significant?  How much would it harm anyone to give us the same civil rights that our parents have?

As part of my job, I handle personnel issues, specifically the annual insurance sign up period.  I called our home office to ask about covering my partner on my insurance and was told that, since South Carolina doesn't recognize same-sex partnerships, they couldn't cover him.  (I already knew what their answer would be, but I wanted someone to tell me voice-to-voice; I can be a prick like that sometimes).  So when another employee came to me for help with his insurance, he put his common-law wife on his policy.  The requirements for covering his partner?  That they lived together for six months.  No wedding license, no ceremony, no recognition necessary.  So much for the sanctity of marriage.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

History repeating itself?

Okay, I had to work last night, so I missed the Rachel Maddow show.  No problem, I usually just watch it online when I get home.  I did so this morning; I wasn't expecting this little segment of horror:


Hopefully, this scares the hell out of you; I know it does me.  State Senator (and Governor hopeful) Randy Brogdon is self-identified as a Tea Party member.  And though you probably just watched the clip, I want to repeat his quote from the AP story:  The founding fathers "were not referring to a turkey shoot or a quail hunt.  They really weren't even talking about us having the ability to protect ourselves against each other.  The Second Amendment deals directly with the right of an individual to keep and bear arms to protect themselves from an overreaching federal government."

Now, I have never even pretended to be a Constitutional scholar.  I have, however, read the document and all it's amendments.  So in the interest of fair and balanced reporting, here is the text, in full, of the Second Amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America:  "A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed."

Okay, even an incredibly liberal reading of the Second Amendment can't come close to what Sen. Brogdon is claiming the founding fathers meant.  The militias referred there were to PROTECT the state, not raise arms against it.  That's what "being necessary to the security of a free state" means!  Does having government regulated health care reform somehow threaten our national security?

So, if this is a forward movement of the Tea Party, can we expect more of the same?  And speaking of Tea Party, their matriarch, Sarah Palin herself, had this to say when she was running for Vice President alongside John McCain in 2008:


Okay, so health care reform is fine and dandy when REPUBLICANS propose it, but let that upstart socialist/corporatist Obama do it and now it's cause to take up arms against an "overreaching federal government."  I get it now.  

I have a funny feeling that, had this happened during the Bush/Cheney years, people would have no problem calling Brogdan "insane" or even "seditious."  I have no problem doing either now.  This is planned sedition, plainly and blatantly.  If the FBI is not investigating him and all those in the Oklahoma government that support him, they should be ashamed.  And I'm absolutely ecstatic that the first of the many more to come midterm elections went solidly Democrat.  Here's hoping that the Tea Party movement being associated with Republicans moves more people to the Democrats as the only sane choices in the upcoming elections.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Diversity exists, even in terrorists

After another stimulating conversation with my friend HSCFree last night, I received, yet again, the inspiration for a blog post.

I was lauding Rachel Maddow for her willingness to call Scott Roeder a terrorist for his actions, walking into a church in Wichita, Kansas and shooting Dr. George Tiller for daring to perform abortions. Roeder was just sentenced to life in prison, effectively, for his actions; during his own testimony, he was totally unrepentant for what he'd done.

One of the biggest misconceptions among the American people is that terrorists are Muslim men. In fact, on the gay chat site Bear411, which caters to hairy bearded men and those who like them, one of the members has in his profile "attracted to dark skinned, hairy, bearded men. Terrorists are hot!"

So, I thought I'd do some research to educate people. Of the 22 acts defined by the FBI as "terrorism" from 1990 - 2001:

- 17 of those were committed by American organizations (Animal Liberation Front, Earth Liberation Front, etc).
- 4 of those were committed by White American men
- Only the 9/11 attacks were committed by Muslims

Please don't misunderstand me; I'm not trying to diminish the effects of 9/11. I lost a good friend that day from the actions of Al-Qaeda. And it is the most significant terrorist activity yet on American soil. But to ignore the other acts classified as "terrorism" to plant all terrorists as Muslim men is racial profiling to the extreme. People such as Ted Kaczynski, Eric Robert Rudolph, Clayton Lee Waagner, Timothy McVeigh, Terry Nichols and Bruce Ivins (who allegedly terrorized the country during the month after 9/11 by sending anthrax through the mail) deserve the label "terrorist" just as much as the members of Al-Qaeda. And more modern examples such as John Allen Mohammed and Lee Boyd Malvo, Jim D. Adkisson, James Wenneker Von Brunn, Joseph Stack and, yes, Scott Roeder, also deserve the moniker. (If you want to know more about any of the names listed, it's fairly easy to do a Google search. There are far too many links for me to add without taking all day.)

Terrorism isn't limited to one subset of a racial group. One simply has to ask a Briton or Irishman to determine that. They've been targets of terror attacks for hundreds of years. While I agree that we need to be vigilant as a country to protect ourselves from terrorists, I strongly urge that we not forget the actions of those mentioned above; they don't fit the current racial stereotype that the name "terrorist" is applied to. Forgetting about them leaves us incredibly open to more attacks of the same.

There is much more I could research and say about this topic (but I think I'll leave that to the historians like Free). Suffice to say the resources are out there if you want to know more. Knowledge is a good thing and it leads to an open mind, something the general public is sorely lacking these days.