The Scientist's View

12.21.2008

Good politics

I though about my post yesterday last night. I wasn't sure that I hadn't been too cynical in my view that Obama was just being politically savvy by have Pastor Warren do the invocation for the inaguration.

Personally, I do agree with Homer's comment:
Obama fell off his pedastal with this shitty decision.


I also wondered if this was a good step for gays or was I being too glib. I have to reverse my verdict. I think Obama has been consistant in his belief that dialogue is a good thing - whether it is with those whose country prays for your destruction (Iran), has expanionistic tendencies (Russia), a wary ally (France), an enthusiastic ally (Britain), or internally those who are on the Right. Rick Warren might be the first of these complex dialogues. And (time for more cynicism) - it is the inaguration of the President of these United States, not the Democratic winner. So it should (in all fairness) involve as wide a swath of representatives from the large voting blocs in our country as possible. But I being way to optimistic that those conversations between the Obama Administration and the conservative/religious right would change any minds.

To sum up Rick Warren, I think the following excerpt from the mailer his church sent out before the 2004 election is quite telling:

  1. What does each candidate believe about abortion and protecting the lives of unborn children?
  2. What does each candidate believe about using unborn babies for stem-cell harvesting?
  3. What does each candidate believe about homosexual marriage?
  4. What does each candidate believe about human cloning?
  5. What does each candidate believe about euthanasia—the killing of elderly and invalids?



Well, I for one wouldn't fit in that church. Also, another chance for the church to get involved in the election but technically not violate any laws. He did not endorse anyone in 2004 and this was just a mailer to get people to consider some very important points when going to the voting booth.

Reading his website, his Wiki entry, the Saddleback church website - everything looks very agreeable (if you answer the questions above in the "correct" manner). The web content is very uplifting and positive - and Christ is sprinkled throughout but not too heavily. There is no eternal damnation, no mention of Hell, no overt mention of donations (HRC take note), none of the old school Southern Baptist dogma. This softened version of Christianity along with some clever focus group work and marketing has generated exactly what suburbanites need. Clear direction, warm & fuzzy approach, and the ability to "belong" to something.

One important reality to keep in mind is that Obama is president of the 52% that voted Yes on 8 as much as he is president to the 48% who voted No on 8. I think I was being overly optimistic yesterday - any benefit of a long term conversation with Republicans via Rick Warren is just a pipe dream for finding a ray of light in what is essentially politics.


Some randomly sampled opinions:

Daily Kos:

Great comments, overall. I do want to clarify something: I'm not suggesting that fighting for the right to marry isn't worthwhile. Rather, it's the fight over Rick Warren's role in the inauguration that I believe is the comparatively smaller issue that threatens to derail more important matters. Some folks have suggested this one issue is worth ignoring all others. Just as the lawyer in "Ragtime" wanted to focus his energy on fighting real hardships rather than insults, so I want to suggest we do the same.


From Dave at AOL's political blog:

Oh for pete's sake. The selection of Rick Warren is one of those easy ways for Obama to appear to bridge the culture divide without actually doing anything hard. A prayer is not legislation, or anything remotely resembling such. The fact that Obama says he supports traditional marriage while opposing prop 8 should have clued you in on the fact that he really is on your side, but politically he can't afford to associate with the gay mafia too much.

Probably because of hysterical overreactions like this.

The real fun begins with don't ask, don't tell. Save your ammo for that one. Also Obama needs to keep reminding everyone that he isn't a Muslim. Rick Warren could help there.


Andrew Sullivan:

Rick Warren will give the invocation at Obama's inauguration. Warren is a man who believes my marriage removes his freedom of speech and cannot say that authorizing torture is a moral failing. Shrewd politics, but if anyone is under any illusion that Obama is interested in advancing gay equality, they should probably sober up now. He won't be as bad as the Clintons (who, among leading Democrats, could?), but pandering to Christianists at his inauguration is a depressing omen. More evidence that a civil rights movement needs to realize that no politician can deliver for us what we have to deliver on our own.

12.20.2008

Good politics and oddly enough, good news for gays

Interestingly, Obama decided that the press was not giving him enough attention. So he makes it unavoidable for them to cover him. He does so by picking the right-ish slanting Christiam Rick Warren to lead the invocation at the inaguration. Pretty sly piece of politics and good press to boot.


(Chris Crain has a lengthy entry regarding Rick Warren; the posting has some interesting opinions from Chris' readers as well as Chris.)

Some thoughts.


1) People can get angry about Rick Warren's positions and stances - but he is a popular minister to many Americans. He is not of the hate-monger mold of Jerry Fallwell et al. It is pretty clear from his work over the past few years, Rick Warren represents, embodies, and regurgitates a lot of the suburban views. Those who live in their little suburban cocoons don't do well with extremes - they need their religion to be doled out in tender little morsels, essentially pablum, that are vaguely Christian-esque.

2) Obama is in a bit of a bind at the moment. Bush pushed the entire auto mess onto Obama starting March 31st. At which point, some very very very hard decisions are going to have to be made. Best to keep the press off that reality this week, next two weeks are Christmas and then January will be the inaguration (and the car companies will be digesting their allowance in the first quarter). This clever press deflection is Clintonian to the Nth degree.

3) Obama's players are just about all named and there is a gap before Christmas - time to fill it with something that has the appearance of content - but is really not that meaningful.

I, for one, don't see this as anything more interesting than press manipulation. Rick Warren doesn't want to burn gays at the stake. He doesn't want to put them on trains. He's just a garden variety homophobe that preaches in that Campbell's Soup for the Soul sort of tone. Christian Republicans, like gays, are an unavoidable reality. But there are alot more of them than us. Hence our rights get repressed and not theirs.

But what Rick Warren represents is pretty interesting from the gay angle. The hard right and the previous culture wars, whipped up most recently by Darth Rove, had a very sinister element to it. There were terms like "agenda", "activist", "sanctity", etc when talking about anything gay. The hard right's views in the W era are not the same as Rick Warren's views. That is something to mull over. If the moderates/indepedents rejected all things old school Republican in 2006 and more so in 2008 (I mean John McCain effectively ran as the anti-W) - it is something of a phase shift to wonder who/what will lead them in the short term. Is it someone like Rick Warren whose moderate tone and moderate Republican stance reflect a swining of the pendulum back towards the center? It doesn't mean that the moderate right supports gay marriage - but gay marriage is no longer being promoted as one of the key signals illustrating the deterioration of our culture/heritage/tradition (whatever term the hard right likes to use).

The gay media should put this event in perspective. Rick Warren is being asked to pray - and that is about it. He is not being given a cabinet position or being asked to be an advisor. People aligned with him represent a very key demographic in this country that POLITICALLY cannot be ignored, that being the right-slanting suburbanites. People like those that I grew up with. For Obama to ignore them would be somewhat expected - but politically, no including them is pretty short-sighted.

As I stated above - this should be, to a limited extent, considered a net positive for gay rights. I know that sounds weird - but when looking at the big picture - it is encouraging to see that Rick Warren is tacking left in being a part of the new Administration's goal to bring together the secular and the religious to continue and expand an on-going dialogue. He's not pro-gays, but he is also not using gays as chum in the on-going culture wars.

My man Dallas

Dallas Clark, plays for the Colts. A Sunday afternoon highlight!










12.16.2008

Christmas tree fun

We bought our Christmas tree last weekend from Kidman Tree Farm which is north of town up by the lake. Bubba, H.M. and I all agreed on a 7-8 foot tree that looked like it had a great shape (the branches had not yet fallen). So we ordered it up, brought it home and set it up. It drank water for a week and then we decorated it on Sunday.

Bubba had a red and white theme in mind and he wanted to keep it simple - picture below.



Unfortunately, the tree appears to have scoliosis. We have been adjusting it all week. Compounding that, the stump isn't even so it develops a lean every few days. I try to ignore it, but it drives Bubba nuts.



We even decided to let the palms in on the action.

Gay question on the census???

Mike Petrelis has an interesting post today about the need for a gay census.

His blog entry has a longish statement of support for the idea from Larry Kramer (LOVE HIM!) as well as plans for Britain to do a census that includes questions about sexual orientation/identity/preference (whatever they want to call it now).

It would be an interesting experiment to try - have an official statistic to account for how many "non-straight" people there are in the country (and by geography/state/locality). I do wonder how people would react to a question on a census form that asks about your identity?

Here are the two forms and their questions for the 2000 census:

What are the U. S. Census Questions?

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, there are two types of forms, and only one will be mailed to your residence. The mailing is done by random computer selection. The first form is called the short form. This is mailed to 83% of all United States households. This form is very basic and has seven questions for the head of the household: name, age, date of birth, sex, race, Hispanic origin, homeowner or renter. The rest of the individuals in the house receive six questions: name, age, date of birth, sex, race, and Hispanic origin.

The second form is called the “long form.” This is the form that people could have a problem with as a more intrusive invasion of privacy since it has 53 questions. This form is mailed out to 17% of the population. The computer selection sends this to one out of every six households.

Generally, the U.S. Census long form covers the following subjects as allowed by federal law (Title 13 of the USCS):

Social characteristics of Population: marital status, place of birth, citizenship, year of entry, education-school enrollment, educational attainment, ancestry, residence 5 years ago (migration), language spoken at home, veteran status, disability, grandparents as care givers.

Economic characteristics of Population: labor force status (current), place of work and journey to work, work status last year, industry, occupation, class of worker, income (previous year).

Physical characteristics of Housing: units in structure, number of rooms, number of bedrooms, plumbing and kitchen facilities, year structure built, year moved into unit, house heating fuel, telephone, vehicles available, farm residence.

Financial characteristics of Housing: value of home, monthly rent, shelter costs, (selected monthly owner costs)


So it is pretty clear from the 2000 census template that there is easily room in the census long questionnaire under "Social Characteristics of the Population" to slide in a question about sexual oreintation/identity/preference.

I thought about the questions asked and one really stuck out in my mind - the one called "Grandparents as Care Givers". Now this must be a socially engineered question because it evokes one of two thoughts in my mind: 1) poor kids, mom and dad died in some accident and the kids had to be raised by grandma/grandpa and/or 2) poor kids, mom and dad vanished for some reason (drugs, escaping the law, abandonment, etc) and the kids had to be raised by grandma/grandpa.

Now I don't intend to be non-sympathetic, but who really cares from a census standpoint how many grandparents are primarily the child's care-giver? If that statistic is of sufficient concern to the general populace to make it onto the long form questionnaire then it seems of sufficient merit in some social engineering way to be calculated.

Given that we are seeing a pretty "active" discussion about gays and gay rights in our country and we have NO idea how many "non-straight" folks are out there, it is a pretty reasonable idea to include a question about sexual orientation. Now if this were to make it onto the census form, how many multiple choice questions are provided and in what order?

Example:

Please describe your sexual orientation/identity (Reminder: All census form information is for statistical use only and individual identities will not be revealed).
a) male homosexual
b) female homosexual
c) male bisexual
d) female bisexual
e) asexual
f) transgendered
g) intersex
h) queer

Now I have always like queer as a "non straight" bin because even the most sincere of our activists will make some joke about how unwieldy the "non-straight" acronym is and what it is. It is always like GLBTIQ, LGBTI, GLBT, etc. Its like the word scramble that doesn't make a real word. So lets say that we pick the letters G (gay), L (lesbian), B (bisexual), A (asexual), T (transgender), I (intersex), Q (queer) - best I can come up with is GLABTIQ (pronounced glab TIK') which isn't exactly charming.

Acronyms are a pretty interesting part of the whole equation - I have sat in on meetings and read about many more meetings where the question of the order of the letters in the acronym is somehow important and it seems that G or L always starts the acronym. However, if we are to believe Kinsey, wouldn't B start the acronym? And do we really know how many asexual people there are out there? Lots of men married for >10 years would claim their wives are asexual. How many men are asexual? Are there more people who are asexual than gay/lesbian?

My point, and there is one in here somewhere, is that if we don't know the basic stats of our community beyond the oft cited (and suspiciously rounded off ratio) of 1:10 are gay(-ish), then we don't have the ability to be considered (or recognized legitimately) as a minority. Liberal mayors and mayoral candidates in big cities always appear at gay pride parades, there are alot of votes there. Similarly, if we had gay numbers from the census, it might make politicians (and policy makers) think about how to approach their communities. If you have 5%-10% of your community that is "non-straight", that is a pretty decent chunk. And the converse is also true, if only 0.1% of your community is "non-straight", then there is little incentive from politicians or policy makers to consider gay rights in a voter context.

It is a pretty compelling idea to get some hard statistics on the number of "non-straights" in America.


PS: Who would play Larry Kramer in a biopic of his life??? Ben Kingsley could easily handle the older Larry.

12.14.2008

Bubba's Tacky Christmas Tree Farm

Naseuatingly Cute Pix of Linus


Weather is going to get cold



My handy-dandy Weather Bug shows some cold weather is coming this week- Kevin's bestest Christmas present ever.

Note that in the upper left in big numbers is the current temp - that is 48 degrees on Sunday morning at 8am. Tonight's low will be 3 - with 20-30 mph winds and some mixed precipitates. Tomorrow's high will be 5. It warms up Tuesday in order to dump

And here it is at 2pm. 18 degrees. Wind is blowing at 20mph sustained now. Some snow flurries to boot.


12.13.2008

Foiled at every turn

I had a super-duper busy week full of just tons of great things. My plans for a mental health day this past Monday were foiled at 8:30am when I was told that some equipment of mine caught on fire over the weekend. So I trudged into work to inspect the charred remains.

I was OK with working Monday because I had a backup plan. A killer blizzard was supposed to hit Des Moines Tuesday. I told everyone to stay home and planned to skip the gym and sleep late. Plus Tuesday was the day that the Iowa Supreme Court heard the gay marriage case (I wanted to watch the simulcast of the court presentation in the late morning followed by trashy daytime TV all afternoon). Well, the killer blizzard was, in fact, warm rain. Dammit! Therefore I could not avoid my only meeting of the day at 8am. And once at work - there is no way to get out before 5:30pm. It just doesn't happen.

So I seriously put my foot down. I was committed to take the day off on Wednesday (I mean, how hard can it be to get a day off?). I'd enjoy the Day without a Gay. Well, it being "one of those weeks", half my lab was sick and we have very firm deadlines to meet before X-mas. So I had to work in lab all day to help out. It was actually fun (so I did it again on Thursday and Friday). Actually, I'm pretty cute in goggles and a lab coat. So for the past 3 days, I tortured the lab with super-fierce cha-cha remixes, bumbled experiments, and tried to figure out where to put the disco ball. By Friday afternoon - they were seriously questioning how I had made it through grad school and hoping that I would go back to doing whatever it is that I do in my office.

Some good stuff happened this week though:

1. Manuscript is headed out for review - only took 9 months to write. It is always like getting a weight off of your shoulders to get a manuscript out.

2. Went to a new restaurant called Proof in Downtown - great ambiance, wonderful downtown view from huge plate glass windows, and the food was pretty good. Last night was a trip to Italy! First course: Yummy seafood salad. Second course: Ravioli in a tres tasty sauce. Third course: Duck lasagne. Fourth course: Spiced gelato and a small cakish thing (the cake did not work). 40 bucks per person for the prix fixe. Carly (the owner) came over and visited for a bit - she and Bubba swapped Africa stories.

3. Went to film viewing on Monday sponsored by OneIowa. There was a mixer at the art house cinema's lobby. The short movie that was produced by OneIowa and concerned gay marriage. It was a collage of people talking about their views of why gay marriage should be legal. Overall, it was pretty good and local media was there.
There was a request for donations which was tactfully put at the end of the presentation.

4. Tuesday night was another mixer - this one was to thank Lambda Legal for their role in arguing the case before the Iowa Supreme Court. The mixer was held at the Pappajohn Center - a poured concrete architectural disaster. Lambda Legal folks chatted with the crowd and did some quick thanks to OneIowa and Iowa in general for all the support on the case. Local media was there and overall it was a nice event. and request for donations was tactfully at the end. Proof (See item 1) did the catering - I overheard several queens chattering about how good the food was. Carly, corner the gay market and you will do quite well!

5. HRC did cover the Iowa marriage case - in their blog.

Overall - I thought that OneIowa did a great job this week of highlighting the Iowa Gay Marriage case and creating some opportunities for people to be involved.


HRC went into full crisis mode this week over Pat Boone.

Pat's quote:

"...there is a real, unbroken line between the jihadist savagery in Mumbai and the hedonistic, irresponsible, blindly selfish goals and tactics of our homegrown sexual jihadists."
- Pat Boone, December 6, 2008


I actually think that Queer Nation (does it still exist?) should change their name to Sexual Jihad. It has a certain snap to it. So HRC sends out an e-mail with a very clever donations strategy:


Boone and his buddies continue to stir up fear, even if they have to lie. It's exactly how they passed the California marriage ban.
We need your help to stop the radical right from painting a movement about love and dignity as violent and radical. We need your support to stay strong, smart, and nimble, to combat these growing attacks with the simple truth: all we want is equality.
Make a donation to HRC on behalf of Pat Boone. Your gift helps HRC combat these lies – and sends the message that our call for equality cannot be silenced.
We'll even send Mr. Boone a note with your first name and gift amount to let him know you've donated in his name.


Ummm - are you actually serious? I'm not donating ANYTHING in Pat Boone's name. And who cares about Pat Boone anyways? Why not send out an e-mail about the Iowa Supreme Court Case instead??? Whatever.


Jimbo sent me a funny e-mail about the HRC/Pat Boone drama.


'sigh'

HRC: "OMG PAT BOONE IS SO MEAN!!! BUT YOU CAN HELP!

1. DONATE TO US!
2. SIGN UP ON OUR MEMBERSHIP LIST!
3. DONATE TO US!

OMG PAT BOONE IS SO MEAN!"

12.09.2008

Day without a gay made it onto Drudge!

Now this is what I am talking about. A relatively balanced article about "Day without a Gay" and the article even has links at the end.


SAN FRANCISCO (AP) - Some same-sex marriage supporters are urging people to "call in gay" Wednesday to show how much the country relies on gays and lesbians, but others question whether it's wise to encourage skipping work given the nation's economic distress.

Organizers of "Day Without a Gay" - scheduled to coincide with International Human Rights Day and modeled after similar work stoppages by Latino immigrants - also are encouraging people to perform volunteer work and refrain from spending money.

Sean Hetherington, a West Hollywood comedian and personal trainer, dreamed up the idea with his boyfriend, Aaron Hartzler, after reading online that a few angry gay-rights activists were calling for a daylong strike to protest California voters' passage last month of Proposition 8, which reversed this year's state Supreme Court decision allowing gay marriage.

The couple thought it would be more effective and less divisive if people were asked to perform community service instead of staying home with their wallets shut. Dozens of nonprofit agencies, from the National Women's Law Center in Washington to a Methodist church in Fresno collecting food for the homeless, have posted opportunities for volunteers on the couple's Web site.

"We are all for a boycott if that is what brings about a sense of community for people," said Hetherington, 30, who plans to spend Wednesday volunteering at an inner-city school. "You can take away from the economy and give back in other ways."

Hetherington said he's been getting 100 e-mails an hour from people looking for volunteer opportunities, and that his "Day Without a Gay" Web site has gotten 100,000 hits since mid-November.

Despite Hartzler and Hetherington's attempt to fashion a positive approach, some organizers of the street demonstrations that drew massive crowds in many cities last month have been reluctant to embrace the concept, saying that it could be at best impractical and at worst counterproductive to "call in gay."

"It's extra-challenging for people to think about taking off work as a form of protest, given that we are talking about people who may not be out (as gay) at work, and given the current economic situation and job market," said Jules Graves, 38, coordinator of the Colorado Queer Straight Alliance. "There is really not any assurance employers would appreciate it for what it is."

Graves' group nonetheless is arranging for interested participants to volunteer at the local African Community Center in Denver. The agency said it could find projects to keep 20 people busy, but so far only 10 have pledged to show up, said Graves.

Scott Craig, a fifth-grade teacher at Independence Charter School in Philadelphia, had no problem requesting and being granted the day off. So many of the school's 60 teachers were eager to show support for gay rights they had to make sure enough stayed behind to staff classrooms.

About 25 teachers plan to take Wednesday off and to have their work covered by substitutes while they discuss ways to introduce gay issues to their students and volunteer at the local branch of the American Civil Liberties Union, Craig said. A letter telling parents why so many teachers would be out went home Monday.

"We want to get the conversation going in the community that gay is not bad," Craig said. "For kids to hear that in a positive light can be life-changing."

Join The Impact, the online community that launched protests last month over the passage of gay marriage bans in California, Florida and Arizona, has urged people to withdraw $80 from their bank accounts Wednesday to demonstrate gays' spending power, and to devote the time they might otherwise spend watching TV or surfing the Internet to volunteer work.

Witeck-Combs Communications, a public relations firm in Washington that specializes in the gay and lesbian market, published a study this year that estimated that gay and lesbian consumers spend $700 billion annually.

Bob Witeck, the firm's chief executive officer, said it would be difficult to measure the success of Wednesday's strike since gay employees occupy so many fields. And rather than suspending all consumer spending for the day, gay rights supporters would have a bigger impact if they devoted their dollars to gay-friendly businesses year-round, Witeck said.

"Our community leaders who are running book stores, newspapers, flower shops, coffee houses, bars and many, many other things are hurting right now, so paying attention to their needs during this hard time is an effective form of activism," he said.

Hetherington said he has been careful to design A Day Without a Gay - he came up with the name after the film "A Day Without a Mexican" and liked it because it rhymed - so no one feels excluded or threatened.

He has specifically urged high school students not to walk out of their classes and assured college students they won't be disloyal to the cause if they go ahead and take their final exams. He also has listed opportunities - ranging from writing letters to members of Congress about federal gay rights legislation to spreading the word about Wednesday on social networking sites - for gay marriage backers who cannot miss work.

---

On the Net:

http://www.daywithoutagay.org/

http://jointheimpact.com/

12.08.2008

From the Atlanta Bucks RFC Miss Ruck and Maul Benefit


Love the pic.

Vote totals on Prop 8 shows clearly that black voters are not the cause of the loss...

It is very useful to look at the totals county by county when discussion matters of race and Prop 8. The full totals are conveniently reproduced on Jim's 2.0 blog.

Note that the difference in votes was 500K out of over 11 million votes. Most interesting statistic is the counties that had the largest margin of Yes votes.

I'm not the world's expert on California - but I can tell you right now that Orange County and San Bernadino counties are the problem. And they are not demographically packed with religious black folks.

It took me <5 minutes to find this data and about 2 seconds to interpret it - what magical force has prevented the author's of the article Pam is referencing to do the same?

Oh, that is right - they need to sell paper and why not race bait? In these troubled times, with papers going out of business left and right - shouldn't the Times be a little bit concerned about producing meaningful and useful content? Is it really worthwhile for anyone to support a paper that is so obviously distorting a picture of reality (the data below is freely available with a quick Google search).



Largest Margin of Victory Yes Votes



  1. San Bernardino County (185,874)

  2. Orange County (168,269)

  3. Riverside County (118,241)

  4. Kern County (97,957)

  5. Fresno County (85,820)



Largest Margin of Victory No Votes



  1. San Francisco County (177,148)

  2. Alameda County (111,377)

  3. Sonoma County (62,568)

  4. Santa Clara (62,073)

  5. San Mateo (59,606)


Highest Yes Percentage




  1. Tulare County (75.40%)

  2. Kern County (75.30%)

  3. Modoc County (74.20%)

  4. Kings County (73.70%)

  5. Madera County (73.40%)


Highest No Percentage



  1. San Francisco County (75.20%)

  2. Marin County (75.00%)


  3. Santa Cruz County (71.40%)

  4. Sonoma County (66.10%)

  5. Mendocino County (62.20%)


Narrowest Yes Victory (<5%)



  1. Los Angeles County (0.56%)

  2. Nevada County (1.70%)

  3. San Luis Obispo County (2.41%)



Narrowest No Victory (<5%)



  1. Monterey County (3.5%)

12.07.2008

EQCA shenanigans

Michael Petrelis highlights the typical antics of the HRC types whose "leadership" did absolutely nothing to help Prop 8.

Another item from Petrelis' posts this weekend was an article from Boston gay rag written by one Jeff Epperly (who Michael is friendly with):


Longtime San Francisco political gadfly and blogger Michael Petrelis, who hates the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) almost as reflexively as Andrew Sullivan hates the Clintons, is up in arms because he got an invitation recently for a night of "pampering and relaxation" at a local spa to benefit HRC. "What’s next?" Petrelis asks. "Get a face-lift and HRC gets 10 percent from the plastic surgeon, to fight the next ballot proposition? Purchase a Mercedes and the dealer gives a percentage of the sale to HRC?"

I like Petrelis, but his anti-HRC crusade veers off into the comical a bit too often these days. I wouldn’t go to a silly spa night to benefit any group, and I certainly don’t enjoy putting on a tux and dining on chicken with the LGBT glitterati at posh events. I point this out because of the tendency of those who’ve decided to pile onto the Human Rights Campaign vis-à-vis the California Proposition 8 loss to paint anyone who chooses not to join the anti-HRC feeding frenzy as being beholden to HRC’s glam aura as "professional" Washington insiders -- as if being professional LGBT lobbyists in a capital full of professional right-wing lobbyists is a bad thing on its face ...

The torch-and-pitchforks mob currently hounding HRC around the Prop. 8 loss either have very short memories or a shallow frame of reference for their anger. HRC gave $3.4 million to the anti-8 campaign, which is exactly the kind of role one would expect them to take in a fight in which local organizations rightfully took the lead and HRC provided support ...

Prop. 8 was a California loss that should be laid at the feet of a local campaign that had too little money too late and a disjointed message that failed to speak to the constituencies -- moderate religious voters and voters of color, in particular -- who put Prop. 8 over the top ...

For those same people to now claim to know what’s best for all of us is worse than revisionist history. It’s a recipe for disaster in a world where Prop. 8 has taught us that, as much as we might disagree, opportunistic political cannibalism only drives apart a community that should know that we need everyone to do his or her part in myriad ways that by themselves cannot possibly capture the complexity needed to move us forward.


The problem with this analogy is that cannabalism implies some sort of desire to consume another for a reason that might be nutritional (i.e. you are on a desert island) or it might be religious in nature (i.e. tribal consumption of their members in the pacific, as one example). I doubt that anyone criticizing HRC wants anything to do with the metaphorical consumption of that organization.

Jeff's point in this article is pretty clear. It is a nice thought too - why should we spend out time fighting within when the enemy is on the outside. We can handle our internal problems ourselves and no need to air our dirty laundry. We really should all get along.

But then there are these nagging problems with this column.

1) Use of the term cannabalism - If Michael's criticims gets a bit over the top then how does one describe the use of the term cannabalism? That word is over the top. And grossly inaccurate.
2)Use of the term shallow ("a shallow frame of reference for their anger") - In the vein of my post yesterday, if you are giving 3.4 million bucks - ought you not control how it is spent? I'm wondering why HRC justifies it efforts in CA with some dollar amount? It is silly for HRC to expect one organization to do all the work. If you are a big political organization (e.g. HRC) - you can give money to local organization AND run a parallel effort that overlaps but does not usurp the CA effort. Has anyone paid any attention to Karl Rove's tactics? Take a page from his book and BE AGGRESSIVE, BE BE AGGRESSIVE. Funny how Jeff's article heaps the blame on the EQCA group and absolves HRC ("Prop. 8 was a California loss that should be laid at the feet of a local campaign that had too little money too late and a disjointed message that failed to speak to the constituencies"). Isn't it HRC's role to educate local organizations for this very reason?
3. I just love that Prop 8 suddenly has become a wedge issue. Really, has it? Did Jeff just conveniently forget that 1 million people went to the streets Nov 15th. No on 8 rallies should have shown the leadership that IN SPITE of losses, the gay community is moving forward. The rallies were not about bitterness and in-fighting - by all accounts, they were mostly about hope and a time to reflect how far we have come and how far we have to go.

I would like to support the HRC -and I think many of the cranky bloggers out there would too - if they just pulled their head out of their ass and knocked off the top-down bullshit.

If one needs yet another example - 6 couples are going before the Iowa Supreme Court on Tuesday in an attempt to legalize gay marriage. Now I just went to the HRC home page and copied the lead page. Mind you that gay marriage is one of HRC's lead issues and this court case is being held in the Midwest. Kind of a big deal as this would offer a case for Minnesota and Wisconsin to do the same.

Can anyone find the Iowa case on the webpage? Oh perhaps I need to look behind the ad for the HRC store.

Q.E.D.

12.06.2008

Chris Johnson, director of interactive communications for the HRC

Jon Aravosis linked into a Washingtonian article regarding Chris Johnson.

Mr. Johnson is a director of interactive communications for HRC. The HRC-sponsored blog that he oversees is called the HRC Back Story. It is pretty much a diluted version of very established aggregator-type blogs with varying authors, Pam's House Blend is the most interesting in this style that I happen to visit. But there are many blogs of this style out there and they are great places to check out what is hot.

In any case, Chris Johnson was interviewed for the "Interesting" persons column in the Washingtonian magazine. Below is some excepts from the Q&A.


Q: The Los Angeles Times ran an editorial pointing out some of the weaknesses of the “No on Proposition 8” movement. How is HRC working to address some of these problems?
CJ: In all honesty, I wish that HRC had been allowed to take a greater role in the day-to-day operations of the “No on Prop 8” campaign. Without question, I think there should be a full accounting of the way that campaign was waged.


OK - this answer is really really really infuriating. HRC has to ask for permission or wait for an invitation? Am I actually to believe that this organization gave its money to No on 8 and DID NOT DEMAND A ROLE IN HOW THE MONEY WAS SPENT. You have got to be kidding me. You know HRC understands the fucking concept of how money can be used and controlled - hell they just published a buyer's guide for the holidays. If they can help gay consumers use their money to effect change - should we expect the same of HRC when they are deploying their cash????

This response is so passive (particularly for the interactive communications director) when you look at what Join the Impact managed to do in 10 days. Umm, Join the Impact had no money, no established network of donors, no friendly outlets to disperse their message - and they managed to get 1 million queers and allies out on the street. But Mr. Johnson's organization, the HRC, cannot seem to place demands on how their contributions were used in No on 8.

It is just insulting.



Q: How important do you think it is for the gay community to find a leader or spokesperson to whom people from both within and outside the movement can relate to?
CJ: I’ve never really thought about that question. I feel that people’s experiences and priorities within the LGBT community are so varied that it may be nearly impossible to find a single leader to corral such an unruly cast of characters. (Mary Poppins, where are you?).


You have got to be fucking joking. The director of interactive communications has never considered whether the gay community could possibly have a national leader/spokesperson? Do most queer people like being called unruly? So who is "ruly"? Straight people? Mr. Johnson is clearly being flip - but think about the underlying bias in his answer.

I, for one, do not appreciate being reduced to something that needs to be lassoed by an umbrella-toting ray of sunlight. Mary Poppins, I mean really. Seriously. You cannot say that you work for the HUMAN RIGHTS CAMPAIGN and spout this sort of gibberish. Gay rights are human rights. Trans right are human rights. etc etc etc.

I'd suggest that Chris talk with a professional about how to give a humorous answer. Jimbo could probably offer some pearls of wisdom.



Q: Comparisons between the gay-rights movement and the civil-rights movement have been drawn, both at protests and in the press. Is gay really the new black, or just how worrisome is this comparison?
CJ: I’m not really into comparing battle scars to determine who has suffered the most in our country, but I can certainly identify with the sense of a despised minority using everything it has to fight for its place and respect in our society. I think that’s what makes talking about the LGBT equality movement using the 1960s civil-rights movement imagery so appealing. For many LGBT people who have perhaps always felt oppressed or struggled with feeling inferior, I think the civil-rights language speaks to that sense of unjustified loss deep within them. They want to convey their pain in the most powerful way possible.

I personally think the political danger lies in that for many black people, referring to the civil-rights movement conjures up centuries of brutal racial struggle stemming from their ancestors being brought from Africa in chains and enslaved, followed by years of Jim Crow laws and legal racial intimidation that restricted every aspect of one’s life, etc. It makes them immediately suspicious or even opposed to your argument—especially when they consider religious teachings against homosexuality. There are some black people who promote talking about the gay-rights movement in civil rights terms, but I suspect there are even more voters who are put off by the comparison.

And yes, I know some civil-rights leaders such as Congressman John Lewis, Julian Bond, the late Coretta Scott King, and Bayard Rustin endorsed the comparison, but I just don’t think their position on the issue resonates with the majority of black people today.


Oh now we get an answer with some sort of cerebral activity. How kind. Too bad the answer is saturated in identity politics bias.

CJ reminds all of you gay folks - you don't get to use identity politics like blacks do because you belong to a minority that is too "new" in terms of its recognition. And that Mr. Johnson has just informed you what many in Prop on 8 debate were wondering - what is the view in the black community about gay marriage. Now interestingly, it turns out that black voters in California were not in any way the deciding factor - and in fact is appears that a majority of blacks appeared to favor supporting the existing law to allow gay marriage based upon polling. So are black folks in California different from the ominous silent majority he mentions?? Just a question.

NOTE: This article appeared to be published in the Washingtonian on Dec. 4th so his answer is not due to a publication date.

It actually bothers me quite a bit to see the HRC playing slice and dice with identity politics. No one wins when we do this - I mean do blacks get the trump card or Jews? Or average Russians during the Stalin years? Or average Chinese under Mao? Aborigines in Australia? Native Americans? And so on.

CJ starts with the smart answer - there is no need to compare battle scars. But then he goes and does just that. The answer, if anyone at HRC was paying attention to the supposed message they are distributing, should be thus: All minorities need protection from the majority and we stand ready to assist in this fight so all are given the respect that a human life deserves.

No need for images of chains and brutality of slave holders. But Chris couldn't stomach the idea that gay rights and black rights are human rights. He has to remind all of us not to even try that "Gay is the new black" shit. And he'll remind us of the silent black majority of the voting block that goes to church. Its a ATL sort of answer. And you can tell that CJ clearly believes that gay rights sit on a lower stratum of the civil rights totem pole than black rights. Very very sad to see this coming from a director in the HRC. Bias is bias. When CJ supports the mentality that black rights trump gay rights - how can we have equality. I'd suggest the HRC vet this kid's communications and send him to Camp Equality for a refresher course about how to stay on message.


Q: How do you respond to Andrew Sullivan's criticism accusing HRC of not taking enough of a role during the Prop 8 campaign? Do you agree with the idea that the organization is in need of reform?
I honestly don’t read or pay much attention to that guy. The only time I think about him is when his name pops up in my “Human Rights Campaign” Google alert—and that usually means he’s in a tizzy about something. I’d agree that there are always things HRC could do better, but how a group can send staff, mobilize volunteers, and give millions of dollars to a campaign and be considered “passive” just really bakes my noodle. I guess there are a few folks out there who are entertained by him grinding his axe, but I don’t think he really speaks to, or for, people like me.


Now this is rich. Just two seconds ago CJ was complaining that the HRC did not get enough input to be effective in No on 8. Now CJ is protraying HRC in some sort of dramatic light of leaving no stone unturned in the fight for No on 8.

Now many folks, including myself, have at least one beef with Andrew Sullivan. But I would NEVER think of reducing him to "entertainment" - particularly from some 30 year old kid who clearly thinks very highly of his position. I'd just throw in a reality check here - how many hits does Andrew get and how many hits does CJ get. And let's look at the resume - Andrew has published how many books? He was editor of the New Republic for how long? How often is he quoted in the mainstream media?
And CJ, where are you books, editorships, links to the mainstream (crickets chirp).

I would also suspect that the interactive communications director for HRC to look past Andrew's presentation and think about the content of what he (and many like him) are saying. Andrew's comments on HRC have alot of resonance in the blogosphere (this is not to say that he speaks for the whole community - rather that his posts often are reflections or direct contributions of ideas ripping about the gay activist/political/information aggregator blogs). I would expect for Chris Johnson to think of Andrew (and he has a really big straight liberal audience) as a bellwether.

A bellwether is any entity in a given arena that serves to create or influence trends or to presage future happenings.


If I were Chris, I would stop thinking of Andrew as the problem and start thinking of Andrew as part of the solution. HRC is taking tons of licks right now in the blogosphere. The actual damage really comes from the protests re: No on 8. The popular response startled everyone - but it is clear that there is something of a Stonewall 2.0 brewing out there. HRC, always the target for being monolithic and money hungry, actually appears to have become irrelevant - the relevance of the organization ended on November 15,2008. Join the Impact better win the HRC visibility award for showing why HRC when from ineffective to irrelevant in the month of November. Wouldn't that be great!

The role of interactive communications should be something more than gathering content and reposting it - no, this person's role should be to see what and where HRC can improve its role and efficacy through the collective voices on the web. It does not mean that each and every comment should be acted upon or even considered - but this person should act as an editor of the web for the HRC and provide grass-roots input. HRC had a wonderful chance to help out Join the Impact. It could have boomeranged itself back into relevancy by collaborating with Join the Impact. Instead the HRC ignored it. It would rather provide seaweed wraps at spa nights to console its members about the No on 8 loss.

Many people in the blogosphere, including Andrew Sullivan, have gone from complaining about HRC as an organiztion to basically discussing as if it were already dead. If you think of Andrew as a potential bellwether - the repeated HRC obits that happened after Nov 15 protest should scare the shit out of HRC. But as the blogosphere continually has shown - the navel gazers and Congressional asskissers at the HRC hive on Rhode Island Ave only do top-down.

Hint to HRC: The hard right did bottom up in the 80s and they dominated the Congress in the 90s with the Contract with America starting in 1994 and cornering Clinton into his "triangulation" strategy. Obama did ground up in Iowa caucuses and won decisively - remember HIllary was actually THIRD in Iowa. Howard Dean started the 50 state strategy as head of the DNC using a bottom up approach to lay the groundwork for victory in 2008. And of course Join the Impact.

Grass roots is where it is at - in terms of money, viralcy of information distribution, and ability to reach those of us out in the hinterlands.


Concluding comment:
I'm also going to use a direct quote from CJ:

I can only hope that the setback in California will inspire real, sustained efforts to earnestly understand the complex ways that race, religion, and sexuality intersect in the struggle for equal rights. We need to go back to the drawing board on how we talk about these things. There’s a lot of mutual distrust to overcome.


Does this "mutual distrust" really exist? A million people went to the streets and proteste on November 15thd. We have a renewed sense of pride as a gay community that binds us together - this is the Stonewall 2.0. Did CJ read all the blogs on Nov 15, 16th and 17th showing all the marches and protests. Gay flags everywhere. Signs promoting equality carried by gays and straights. There is a path forward like there never has been before. The gays are taking on the hate of the Mormons and Catholics and showing their hypocrisy. We are turning the corner. Talk of mutual distrust misses the entire point of Stonewall 2.0.

Boycott HRC. Until their coffers run dry - they will not change.

Perfect example of HRC at its least effective

JumptheSnark has a great entry on an HRC-sponsored inaugural-ish sort of party. I seriously hope that the drink of choice "Equaltinis" is a joke - because I can actually see those HRC boobs coming up with some 20 dollar top shelf concoction to bring some verve to the party.

The money line:

$350 or $375 for tickets -- is it a fundraiser? Or just an expensive party?


Imagine how many servers HRC could buy for Join the Impact?

Join the Impact co-founder and some interesting links

Nice posting here from JoeMyGod regarding an article about Amy Balliett.

Her entry in Wiki.

From Daily Kos on Nov 12th.

NY Times blog entry on idea of making Milk a box-office success by direct action (i.e. every gay person goes to make it a box-office smash). New Yorker review was fantastic of Milk (which helps the cause)


A pretty interesting timeline of Join the Impact evolution over two weeks in the Industry Standard.

Rex Wockner has the latest direct action activities for December and January from Join the Impact.

12.05.2008

OMG - The Christmas decorations will soon appear (shudder).

Well it appears that winter has now descended upon Des Moines. It has snowed twice already this week and we are getting a round of light snow tonight and then another round of snow/ice Sunday night into Monday. At least it is not too cold - no below zero weather yet.

All this white stuff means only one thing - Christmas is upon us!

Bubba will be hauling out his trashy Christmas displays this weekend and we'll go buy a tree. )Note: we were just too lazy last weekend to tackle the boxes and it snowed and was windy all weekend so we vegetated on the couch). Now, I've always argued for being tasteful in one's excess regarding Christmas. A moderate sized tree, a few lights, some simple ornaments, a wreath for the door. Boring, but tasteful. Not Bubba. If it is shiny, sparkles or rotates - he will buy it. He loves the sheer vulgarity of the holidays. The house will soon be drenched in knick-knacky Christmas kitsch. I keep telling myself, "it is only one month of the year and you do love him".

I'll post pics and let them speak their 1000 words.

12.03.2008

Detriot's game of chicken is officially on

I watch the spectacle of Detroit alternating between a spanked child and a past-his-prime quarterback with some amusement. The last installment before Congress saw the CEOs of the Big 3 sent home with their tail between their legs for demanding 25 billion when riding corporate jets with their hat not exactly in their hand begging for some cash from the Federal trough.

After regrouping, the "atmospherics" (such a great term) of the demands changed. The CEOs did a road trip in a hybrid and then demanded a total of 9 billion more bucks. Geez, what would the total have been had they ridden a bike to DC?

To bring this charade into perspective, it is interesting to parse some of the talking points.

1. GM and Chrysler are now saying that they will be insolvent by New Years Day without a cash infusion from the Federal Government. Interesting development given that they were giving timelines in Quarter 1 or 2 next year just a few weeks back. False urgency? I think we are starting to see the makings of full disclosure this time around.
2. GM and Chrysler have drawn a very clear line in the sand this week. Bankruptcy is "not an option". More succinctly, one CEO stated that Plan A is for a cash infusion and there is no plan B. Interesting how the CEOs have decided to play offense vis a vis bankruptcy. They hold, at this moment, no trump cards but are playing as if they have a full house. Bluffs only work when no one really knows what the table is holding - but in this case (point 1) everyone knows that GM and Chrysler are not viable.
3. Fun fact seen on the Lehrer Hour tonight - if any of the Big 3 go under, the recession will morph into a full on depression. This little nugget goes to the GM CEO.
4. Ford, "healthiest" of the three, is asking only for a line of credit that need not be accessed immediately. Well, I'd imagine they are still churning through the $26 billion they got for mortgaging the entire business in 2006 - right down to the inherent value of the blue oval.
5. None of the Big 3 can seem to sell a car in Quarter 3. Sales which started their descent in 2007 are nearing a fatal nadir as 2008 winds down.
6. There is lots of talk about fuel economy and hybrids and re-engineering platforms for the small chassis platform. Umm, you guys kind of missed the boat there. Gas is now $1.54 per gallon in Des Moines. People currently are not buying in response to the economy, not gas prices. You could have put fuel efficient cars on the platform years ago - but, oops, SUVs and trucks were the cash cow.

There is alot more here to divine from the tea leaves - but what it boils down to is just this. The Big 3 have no real desire to change anything. This is the metaphorical drunk wanting one more swig of hooch, and then he'll quit.

The car companies (by Ford's own admission today) have lots of fuel efficient models that sell quite well in overseas markets. And, now, they are moving quickly to adapt their platforms to build these cars. Interesting - CAFE was always blamed for the car companies woes but oddly enough, these very companies can make fuel efficient cars that people buy in the rest of the world. Just not here.

These are just theatrics before the final showdown. The game of chicken has started - but the end is many miles down the road. Are hybrids the key - not if anyone hates the car. The Prius by Toyota is hideous but they sell. Are electric cars the key? Well if you make it look like the EV1, only the most hardened of liberals can stomach that gravy boat of a car. Is ethanol the key? Well, now that they are all going under because of the precipitous drop in gas prices - don't look for domestic improvements here (let's just ignore that Brazil has a thriving car market where drivers can titrate between ethanol and gas depending upon the price - either works in their flex fuel cars).

The point of the showdown is that these companies need focus - bankruptcy can bring this. Government money will not. The most interesting thing I have read on the topic recently came from the WSJ - just slice and dice the factories up to Honda, Toyota, BMW or whomever else. We already have a domestic car market that works and those companies can use the existing facilities much more efficiently than the Detroit dinosaurs. Politically, it will never happen. But it is intersting to think about.

The politicians, and this is now outside of Obama's hands (he is breathing a temporary sigh of relief until Jan 20th, no doubt), are going to have to sort out the fate of Detroit in December. If the companies won't make it past New Year's - well, someone has to blink.

Make a wish

I got my 11,111th visit this morning!

Glad I was kicked out of bed at 3:53 am for being too congested. Bubba can't stand my congestion brought on by being allergic to just about everything in the house (i.e. cat, dog, dust mites, dust (that provides the mites their sustenance) which in turn is being exacerbated by the super dry air of the upper Midwest.

ANYWAYS, supposedly, one is to make a wish if one sees 11:11 on the clock. Well I am buying a lottery ticket today - as Mary Chapin Carpenter sang on her album Come On, Come On "I feel lucky!"

12.02.2008

Gay marriage goes before the Iowa Supreme Court Dec 9th!

Iowa may be the next state to grant full marriage rights to all couples! Dec 8th and 9th have several festivities associated with this historic event. Brought to you via OneIowa.




One week from today, Iowa will take the national spotlight as the case for marriage equality goes before the Iowa Supreme Court. Join One Iowa across the state to celebrate and learn more about this historic opportunity for equality.


Oral Argument Watch Parties!

Given the interest in the case and limited capacity, we anticipate that there will not be enough seating for everyone in the Supreme Court chamber. To accommodate growing interest from our supporters, One Iowa has planned several “watch parties” across the state!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008 - 9:45 – 11:30 AM
Des Moines Watch Party - Des Moines Public Library, 1000 Grand Avenue
Ames Watch Party - ISU Memorial Union, Gallery Room (3rd Floor), 2229 Lincoln Way
Iowa City Watch Party - Iowa City Public Library, 123 South Linn

We are making every effort to ensure a live-feed at each of these locations; but due to technology limitations and previous experiences in other states, we cannot make any guarantees on the quality of the live-feed. Regardless, this will be a great way for our supporters to gather for a truly historic event!

Due to extremely limited seating we strongly encourage you to join your closest watch party, but if you prefer to attend oral arguments in person, click here for more information from the Iowa Supreme Court.



"Our Story" Movie Premiere -- RSVP

Monday, December 8, 2008 - 6:30-8:00 PM
Fleur Cinema and Cafe, 4545 Fleur Dr., Des Moines

Join us for the public premiere of "Our Story", One Iowa's short film featuring Iowans speaking out in favor of marriage for gays and lesbians. Come celebrate with us and don't miss your chance to mingle with the stars! Light appetizers will be provided with a cash bar.
Remarks by Senator Matt McCoy and Des Moines Register Columnist Rekha Basu.



"Making the Case" Des Moines Reception -- RSVP

Tuesday, December 9, 2008 - 6:30-8:00 PM
Pappajohn Center, 1200 Grand Ave., Des Moines

Oral arguments in the landmark Varnum v. Brien case take place before the Iowa Supreme Court on the morning of December 9. Join us in the evening for a reception to discuss this historic event with remarks by Camilla Taylor, Lambda Legal's senior attorney on the case. If the district court ruling is upheld, it will provide gay and lesbian couples the freedom to marry; full marriage equality in Iowa. Wine and hors d'oeuvres provided.

11.30.2008

Day without a gay


Join the Impact - fresh off a great debut on November 15th, now has a new initiative.

Day without a Gay.

The effort encourages you to call into work as "gay" and then take that day (i.e. Dec 10, 2008) to volunteer or do service for your community. I feel a mean case of "gay" coming on!

HRC Buyer's Guide

Wow, something tangible and useful from the HRC! And I am not being sarcastic.

The buying guide is pretty useful for those of us who want to support gay rights/human rights when shopping (the ultimate vote in this country really is with your pocketbook).




Download the buyer's guide.

Quick note: The guide will pop up pretty large (reduce the zoom to <100%).

Snowy days in Des Moines

The weather guys kind of screwed up this forecast. All week we were supposed to have a little precip, nothing big. However, some energy came together and the system slowed down and voila, we have snow!

Wet flakes and relatively warm temps make for that fluffy, fairytale-like snow that sticks to everything. The picture is of our humble little abode on a snowy Sunday morning.





Linus and kitty are getting quite cozy now that it is cooling down. Cute pic of them snuggling.

11.29.2008

Leadership failure?

Michael Petrelis has a very interesting link today to SF Bay Times.

11.28.2008

Ridiculous

From Bloomberg:

Nov. 27 (Bloomberg) -- General Motors Corp., criticized by U.S. lawmakers for its use of corporate jets, asked aviation regulators to block the public’s ability to track a plane it uses.

“We availed ourselves of the option as others do to have the aircraft removed” from a Federal Aviation Administration tracking service, a GM spokesman, Greg Martin, said yesterday in an interview. He declined to discuss why GM made the request.

Flight data show that the leased Gulfstream Aerospace G-IV jet flew Nov. 18 from Detroit to Washington, where Chief Executive Officer Richard Wagoner Jr. spoke to a Senate committee that day and a House panel the next day on behalf of a $25 billion auto-industry rescue plan.

Representatives at the Nov. 19 House hearing including Democrat Gary Ackerman of New York faulted Wagoner, Ford Motor Co. CEO Alan Mulally and Chrysler LLC CEO Robert Nardelli for taking private jets to Washington to plead their case.

“Couldn’t you all have downgraded to first class?” Ackerman said.

Thanksgiving

We had a delightful Thanksgiving at home with H.M as our guest.


How could one give thanks without Champers and bacon?




A Thanksgiving still life by morning's light - Mimosas with orange and grapefruit juices.




H.M. was here for Thanksgiving and she made biscuits - her first time ever. They turned out great!




I made an apple pie (and crust). Turned out pretty good - I have not made crust in awhile so the dough ended being a bit overworked - but the pie looks good and tastes super yummy! I think Rome apples make the best pie but I could not find any - so I used another old reliable - Macintosh.




The relish tray - pre-dinner.




I cook my turkey in an oiled brown paper bag. It is a bit unusual - but it works beautifully. The bag keeps the turkey juicy and moist and the skin still browns up nice. It is a bit messy - but worth all the bother. Dry turkey breast sux.




Dinner! We had turkey, stuffing (in the turkey), mashed potatoes, candied yams, pan fried corn, green bean casserole, broccolini, muffins, cranberry, and butternut squash soup.


11.25.2008

Morality vs Equal Protection under the law

Oh dear. William McGurn had a textbook case of shortsightedness today in the WSJ in his entry on the Opinion page entitled" "Gay Marriage and the California Courts".

I shan't go into great detail about the article - it is pretty vapid stuff about how the majority is welcome to impose its will and usurp the courts' protection of the minority.

I will, however, pick out one interesting quote:

..gay-rights activists see no moral difference between two men who want to get married and the traditional male-female couple making their walk to the altar."


Ummm, given that marriage is a civil ceremony in all 50 states (not a moral ceremony in the view of the state) - one does have to wonder where equal protection under the law stands. Marriage is a state issue, by and large. States can define when a couple can get married (i.e. restrictions on bigamy, age, mental condition, etc). But marriage itself is the union of two willing participants (most of the time) that requires the blessing of the state through a license. That means it is a contract. The Federal Government ensures that the rough parameters of marriage in the states are (for males and females) rather fair. To wit - no marriage between people of differing races can be denied in our country despite what the majority of the population, in any given state, might inherently believe, be it moral or otherwise.

Ergo, morality and marriage might be very fervently tied together by many people but "morality" is not allowed to prevent marriage in obvious cases of discrimination. I mean did anyone actually protest that Tiger Woods (mixed racial composition) married a white woman? 100 years ago, in many states of this great Union, mixed marriage would not be allowed. But in the 1950s and 1960s, the courts actually started to impose the real meaning of the Constitution where bias (read: morality) is not allowed under the Constitution with regard to mixed race marriages.

So I just finished reading the article and was incensed.

I don't want to get married, period. Bubba and I have been together for 7 years and our interest in marriage has nothing to do with commitment or existing Federal Law - we just don't talk about marriage as part of our path. I don't think it is a good idea for many gays to get married - 50%+ of straights cannot seem to get it right and we should learn from their mistakes.

But I want to ensure that people who want to make that choice to allow government intrusion into their lives are given every chance - hell, it might work for them and think of all the benefits. Marriage between two willing people is standard in our country - and the recent paradigm is that so long as one person has a vagina and one person has a penis then that is their right (given certain constraints). Thus, is morality now reduced to an innie-outie paradigm? Two penises, no marriage for you. Two vaginas, no marriage for you either. We've reduced marriage restrictions to something as silly as what people were born with between their legs (or more specifically, that one must have two X chromosomes and the other must have one X and one Y chromosome). The sex chromosomes are the same as the color of ones skin - it is just some DNA after all.

Opposition to gay marriage - or more specifically, subscribing to arbitrarily imposed rules by the majority - is what is at play. People who don't even believe (much less think about Christ) can get married and this is sanctioned by the state. Thus what role is "morality" actually playing here? A Hindu couple from Asia who has no meaningful interest in Christ or Christian principles has their marriage validated upon entry into this country. Is that "moral"? What rational thought can be given by the majority in this country to support a marriage of two people who the Christians implicitly believe are going to Hell? If we are going to split hairs - why would any Christian support a "pagan" or "non-believer" marriage? Oh I forgot - the penis and vagina matter here - not their "moral" beliefs (note: I picked Hindu arbitrarily).

If we are going to be "moral" (read: Christian) then let's get fucking moral. Make baptism in Christian faith required. How about weekly attendance at Sunday School.

You see how silly this can become if you sit and ponder it.

A moral marriage is just some idiotic construct that is sufficiently plastic to adapt to the times. The reason that Hindu marriages are recognized by the state is that the majority has said that some sinners can get married and others cannot. Completely arbitrary in my opinion. The majority in this country will let a sinning couple doomed to Hell get married and have it recognized if they have a penis/vagina dichotomy. However, a Christian penis/penis couple is forbidden.

Silly games, I know. But that is where gay marriage is now. Silly rules decided by the majority in complete defiance of the Equal Protection Clause. Can any strict constructionist please point to the Constitution and find the statement that only that couple with a one to one ratio of penis and vagina are allowed to get married.

(Crickets chirping loudly).

The courts are in place for this very reason. Silly and arbitrary rules imposed by the majority need to be revised in accordance with the law of the land. If marriage is a contract that some decide is legal and others decide is moral and yet others decide is both - the courts have to step in and clarify.

I agree that California ought to be able, in a free world, to ban gay marriage. However, California is not free, it is beholden to the powers of the Federal Government which derives is authority from the written law, of which the Constitution is a primary guiding force. If marriage is viewed by the Federal Government and the Constitution as a legal contract - then the matter is closed. Federal rights trump states rights every day of the week. Thus the states may refine their rules for marriage in an arbitrary fashion but is must comply with the spirit of the Constitution.

Morality is just a pretty term for bigotry. Ask any black person who is 70 and lived in the south about "Christian morality" and they will probably give you a pretty good case for why the Constitution's Equal Protection Clause is not something to be taken lightly. I just offer these thoughts to suggest that the Federal Government and the courts have a right and respobnsibilty to protect the minority.

Detroit gets the cold shoulder

Regarding my earlier post about Detroit and Obama - it is quite interesting to me to see the new administration (and Congress) standing up to Detroit and the unions.

Some interesting developments:
1. GM admitted this week that bankruptcy could be a possibility which is, in and of itself, shocking.
2. Chrysler and GM will be in a race to see who will run out of operating capital first - GM has a publicly known burn rate which places it somewhere between Christmas and St Patrick's Day to fail to have enough cash on hand to do day-to-day business. Chrysler is privately held and Cerebrus will be riding that ship down to the bottom of the ocean. Cerebrus picked up an 80.1% share in Chrysler for a cool 7.4 billion - a fraction of what Daimler picked it up for in the late 90s. Cerebrus figured that a focus enforced by private capital could whip the auto maker into shape.
3. The government, at this moment, has not taken up a bailout in any meaningful shape for the automakers. Meanwhile, Citi just got an astounding 20 billion of direct money (from the President's allocation of the bailout package - he has discretion to allocate 100 billion) and is now on the hook for potentially hundreds of billions of toxic loans should Citi not be able to cover them.
4. The press made some hay about the fact that the CEOs of the automakers (GM in particular) had rather plush travel arrangements to Washington to ask for a multi-billion dollar bailout. GM sold released, note not all, of their corporate fleet.
5. Obama has made noises about helping out Detroit but the package would require a quid pro quo - Detriot gets money and then has to make fuel efficient cars.

This last point is actually pretty interesting - I was listening to Rush Limbaugh the other day for a bit while riding around at lunch doing some errands - and he hit the nail on the head. Why should we give Detroit money without a coherent plan? Why should we give Detroit money for paying workers who don't work through their Jobs Banks programs? Why should the unions not concede horrendously expensive compensation for their hourly workers and ease their blockages of factory closings? And, most interstingly, how will Detroit make fuel efficient cars that anyone wants to buy given their current small chassis platform?

Detroit has buoyed an idea that bankruptcy is bad primarily because it discourages potential buyers from purchasing a car from a company that could go under, thus threaten the implicit warranties on a car.

This is clearly bogus - no one wants to buy a small car from Detroit because they are garbage. Detroit can't make a small car to save its life - it, however, can make a big SUV or truck. So, Rush asked quite cogently, how will Detroit suddenly pull out this miracle and rapidly convert their product development pipeline to small car design that is interesting and marketable?

Short answer to Rush's questin is the response of Washington - the government knows that Detroit cannot and, more pointedly, will not. Hence the game of chicken has commenced. The politicians are looking askance of Detroit's childish tantrums, and rightfully so, until there is some tangible measure of a plan.

Praise for politicians is not often heard here, but bravo for DC for at least showing some spine and not caving reflexively to the unions or big industry. The banks, however poorly behaved, still hold things of value (i.e. mortgages) which can be leveraged into a long term position (once the default swaps are unwound). Detroit, by comparison, has very little of value beyond their potential to unload tens of thousands onto the welfare rolls. The employees are going to land there anyways - so why not take the bitter pill now and get it over with rather than prolonging the agony?

And they only have to look at Honda and Toyota - both with large manufacturing operations inside the United States - to validate that the wounds are clearly self inflicted. The day of reckoning for Detroit has, at long last, arrived.

11.24.2008

You Go Girl

Michael Petrelis calls it out.

A must read regarding Elizabeth Birch and Larry Kramer (Love Larry Kramer - my most top favorite gay in the whole world! His poster is fabulous!)

DC trip

I went out to see my peeps in DC over the weekend. A very nice visit. DF fetched me from the airport for a quick jaunt out to Annapolis to see another peep who moved into a super cute neighborhood near the capitol. Drinks were had and chat, chat, chat. Then out to visit the bars.

Saturday, we did a quick tour of downtown Annapolis and the Naval Academy - pics below.

Then DF and I jetted back to the city. I met up with Jimbo for some drinks at Nellie's. We caught up - had not seen each other in a over year. Lots of good chat!

Then a festive Saturday night with the neighbors up in Takoma and visit with my darling new fairy god-niece, Peanut. Nice dinner and drinks.

Sunday was a trip over to the co-op and Takoma Farmer's Market with football and beer in the afternoon. I was sick all day Sunday (sinus drama) so the ride home on the plane was not fun.











11.21.2008

The Castro means something

Jimbo had an interesting entry about how gay people fare as they progress through their days. He was writing it after a very thoughtful entry from Dogpoet which is considering how gays should react when provoked - in this case the protesters coming into the Castro and being chased out.

Now that I have adopted Iowa as home (for a little bit at least), I've seen the bizarre counterpoint to the DC, ATL, SF gay ghettos where I spent the last 10 years. Out here, gay people come out at 20 and move to Chicago (never to return) or they get married at 20, have a bunch of kids and then come out at 40. Its the Iowa Midlife Crisis. And I'm not exaggerating for effect - if you go to the bar and meet someone over 40, odds are that they were married to a woman at some point.

Since I always knew I was a screaming homo and never made any serious attempts to use chicks as cover growing up or in my 20s, this is why I find the Iowa Midlife Crisis bizarre. Did they know they were gay? Did they get married out of love or because it is expected? Why spend your 20s in a domestic trap?

For me, the most powerful aspect of Brokeback Mountain was the concept of looking at a gay couple before the concept of gay existed. The most searing quote in the whole movie is when Enis exclaims "Its because of you that I am like this." Thus I suspect that many people growing up in small towns in the Midwest lack any concept of gay - particularly before mainstream media turned gay into the 'new black'. I grew up in Raleigh (not terribly progressive in the 80s, but not a complete backwater either) and so natural variation among the folks in town was fairly normal to me. However if you come out to the Midwest and go to a small town, you will see little to no variation at all in terms of color and appearance. Jack McCafferty said the night of Obama's win in the Iowa Caucuses that Iowa is the whitest place outside of the North Pole (It is pretty much true).

I'm meandering towards a point here - the Castro was the place in the 70s where those who "knew" what they were could go. It represents more than just a place where the gays live. It was a place tenderly portrayed by Armisted Maupin in the early parts of Tales from the City. It was a refuge for gays of all ages and a promised land for those who could get there from the oppressive hinterlands.

The Castro, to me at least growing up, was the place that people from Raleigh went and everyone knew why. You not only went there to come out, you essentially told everyone you were gay when you went there. It was the west coast oasis for gays and, being one of the first gay ghettos, allowed people to figure out what gay meant to them. So for those who were bold enough to make the move in the 70s, the Castro became one of the first little incubators for defining what being gay, and more specifically an urban gay, was. In short, it is hallowed ground.

The Castro is full of memories of our past - the clone as the look, the brutal crackdowns by the police in the bars, Harvey Milk's rise and his assassination, the sex clubs and sexual freedom, AIDS, the active genocide of the gays by the Federal government via their indifference, the subsequent loss of an entire generation of gay men (that gaping hole remained, rather obviously, when I was there in the 90s), and the reblossoming of the culture once condoms became part of the wardrobe and retrovirals hit the scene.


So I agree with Dogpoet, I wish I was there. I'd chase people out - it wouldn't even require a second thought. As I was telling Bubba the other day - straights have 99.999% of the country as theirs. Let us have our 0.001% of the country as our space.

Particularly a place as special to American gay culture as the Castro.