Tuesday, November 24, 2009
The man consulted his portable GPS and replied, "You're in a hot air balloon, approximately 30 feet above ground elevation of 2,346 feet above sea level. You are at 31 degrees, 14.97 minutes north latitude and 100 degrees, 49.09 minutes west longitude.
"She rolled her eyes and said, "You must be an Obama Democrat."
"I am,"replied the man. "How did you know?"
"Well," answered the balloonist, "everything you told me is technically correct. But I have no idea what to do with your information, and I'm still lost. Frankly, you've not been much help to me."
The man smiled and responded, "You must be a Republican."
"I am," replied the balloonist. "How did you know?"
"Well," said the man, "you don't know where you are or where you are going. You've risen to where you are due to a large quantity of hot air. You made a promise you have no idea how to keep, and you expect me to solve your problem. You're in exactly the same position you were in before we met, but somehow, now it's my fault."
"Return to your own self, enter into your own heart, learn the value of your soul, ponder what you were, are, should have been and can be."
Saturday, June 20, 2009
Malcolm X asked his brothers and sisters to fight for their rights. He reminded us that begging for ones rights doesn't work. We must demand our rights; be willing to die for our rights. He stated, "The price of freedom is death."
Our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters have bled and died for the rights of straight people in every war since the beginning of time. And we are still second class citizens. So I wonder what would happen if every gay or lesbian soldier, sailor, marine, airman, or reservist came out. What kind of hole would that leave in our military?
Maybe the way to get DADT repealed is to come out en mass!
Tuesday, June 16, 2009
We've probably all heard or seen reports of how horrible the Canadian "socialist" health care system is. Well, I'm here to tell you it's all a bunch of b.s. Just read for yourself about how Canadians fiercely defend their system.
Click on the link above to learn about a) Americans who have lived in Canada and used the system, and b) Canadian natives who use and love their single-payer health care system.
Then remember it the next time you see or hear an attack on the sanest and least expensive model that guarantees health care for all: single-payer.
Now, keep it in mind when considering that our president is attempting to include a "public plan" in his healthcare reform bill. He's not advocating for single-payer - although I wish he would. He's simply asking for an option that will offer healthcare coverage to people who don't have a plan, or who can't afford any plans currently being offered. All others will be able to keep the plan they have, or buy any other plan they may want.
Unless we include a public option in this package we simply won't achieve reform; for-profit insurance companies won't have sufficient incentive to trim their costs/prices. So contact your congressmember and senators and demand that they support a healthcare reform bill that includes a public option.
Thursday, May 28, 2009
Tuesday, the California Supreme Court announced their approval of Proposition 8 (some call it Prop H8). The 6-1 majority went to great lengths to argue that they were not relegating lesbians and gays to second class citizenship because they would not be allowed to call themselves married (except for the 18,000 who got married between May and November last year). They insisted that gays and lesbians have a right to all of the benefits of marriage, they just can't call it that.
So let's just stop calling any sort of legal union Marriage and then we'll all be equal. It's a pretty simple way to resolve this disagreement over the use of the term Marriage. If all can't use it, then none should be permitted to. Let's just call them all Domestic Partnerships, or Civil Unions and be done with it.
Carlos Moreno, the dissenting justice, was correct, in my view, when he said that our constitution should protect unpopular minorities from the tyranny of the majority. But the majority of the court disagreed thereby aligning themselves with the tyranny of the majority. They insisted that the word "marriage" could be reserved for heterosexual unions. In other words, separate but equal is equal. Never mind that the U.S. Supreme Court ruled 55 years ago in Brown v Board of Education that separate but equal is "inherently unequal" .
Prop 8 proponents insist that they aren't discriminating against lesbians and gays; they're just protecting the holy estate of matrimony. I suggest that the best way for them to protect it is to make it a private arrangement; get government out of the marriage business. Let's just eliminate Marriage from all legal documents including the license to wed. Let's call them Civil Unions or Domestic Partnerships on all legal documents, including the county license, and see how that works.
Wednesday, April 29, 2009
Our President has taken a middle road on the issue of Americans who torture: CIA agents who tortured will not be prosecuted because they were following orders.
Unfortunately, in this case, I believe he is wrong. I disagree with him for specific reasons:
1. The CIA is an intelligence group: Central Intelligence Agency. Get it? They should not be interrogating anybody. Their mission is to gather intelligence.
2. The FBI refused to participate in what is being euphemistically called "enhanced interrogation methods" because they were not legal. The CIA chose to do so.
3. After World War II German soldiers asserted that they had just been following orders when torturing Jews. They were convicted and some were executed. "Just following orders" was not an adequate defense.
4. Lindy England, Charles Graner, and Col Janice Karpinski did not get a pass on the torture that happened at Abu Ghraib.
5. Unenforced laws become unenforceable. If we are a nation of laws, not men, then we must uphold and enforce our laws.
6. Our President doesn't have the authority to decide whether illegal acts should be investigated. That authority resides with the DOJ. Attorney General Eric Holder should make the decision. I sincerely hope that he pursues investigation of these acts of torture, either internally or by the appointment of an independent counsel. Then let the chips fall where they may.
When the Bush Administration decided to use "enhanced interrogation methods" it did so knowing the methods were torture, and illegal. Else why would they have asked for legal opinions from political appointees in the DOJ in support of their tactics several months later? Remember, the torture began in August of 2002 at about the time Khalid Sheikh Mohammed (KSM) was captured. The memos written by John Yoo, Jay Bybee et al, were not written until the spring of 2003. It's called CYA.
As an aside, I find it rather amusing to note that Karl Rove, George W Bush, Dick Cheney, and others have asserted that the Library Tower (Bush/Cheney called it the Liberty Tower) in Los Angeles was saved from destruction, via aircraft, in the spring of 2002 by using "enhanced interrogation methods" on KSM, who promptly gave up the plot. Except that according to their own records, KSM wasn't captured until August of that year.
When it comes to the Bush Administration I recommend we apply the Regan Doctrine: Trust but verify.
Tuesday, February 24, 2009
per Barbara Boxer. I guess that about covers it. Our president was game-on tonight and wiped out the opposition.
Bobby Jindahl's response was so bad. How bad was it? According to conservative NY Times columnist David Brooks, "Jindahl's speech was possibly the worst response to a presidential address in history."
I do have a few thoughts about Jindahl's speech:
a) if he thinks a high speed train between San Francisco and Los Angeles will get him from Disneyland to Las Vegas, I hope somebody will teach him how to use Google maps.
b) he said, "Government can't help you. Look what happened after Katrina?" To that I say, Yeh, Republicans were in charge. Way to go, Jindahl.
c) if the Republican Party plans on hanging their 2012 presidential hat on Jindahl they will LOOSE. I guess I hope they do just that.
Finally, I'm very proud of our President, and of the American people for electing him. He delivered for us tonight and our job is to support him while holding him accountable.
So, my message to you? Tag, you're it.
Click on link above for the answer.
Or maybe you have a better idea. I invite you to post your recommendation here.
A tip of the hat to Fake Howard Dean for this.
Sunday, February 22, 2009
Saturday, February 21, 2009
Benjamin Netanyahu, Likud Party leader chosen Friday to form the next Israeli government, is proud of a conversation he had with Barack Obama last summer in Jerusalem when Obama was still running for President.
“You and I have a lot in common,” Mr. Obama said, according to Mr. Netanyahu’s account. “I started on the left and moved to the center. You started on the right and moved to the center. We are both pragmatists who like to get things done.”
Whether Netanyahu's account is accurate remains a question but the substance of it is telling. If Netanyahu believes, and is proud of, such a conversation, it suggests that he sees himself as a pragmatist. The question is how he defines pragmatic.
He has said he wants to form a centrist governing coalition and has even called on Kadima, the centrist party of Tzipi Livni, his leading opponent in the recent election, and the center-left Labor Party lead by Ehud Barak, the country's Defense Minister, to join him in a unity government. Ms. Livni has said she prefers to go into the opposition but has agreed to meet wtih Netanyahu on Sunday for discussions. Barak has already said he will head into the opposition.
But in Israel it is believed that Netanyahu's government is likely to consist of parties of the right that oppose a Palestinian state and want to continue expansion of settlements in the West Bank. If so, pragmatist is not what I would call him.
“I don’t think he has much compunction in sacrificing an ideological position as long as it keeps him in power,” said Yaron Ezrahi, a liberal political scientist at Hebrew University. “We either need a prime minister who is ideologically committed to a two-state solution and has the power to move the country in that direction, or a very flexible opportunist who appears committed to the right but acts according to what is necessary,” according to a story in the New York Times today (link above).
Which is Netanyahu? We shall see.
Nouriel Roubini, rock star economist and professor at NYU, who is sometimes referred to as, "Doctor Doom," is anything but a downer according to Tunku Varadarajan's column in yesterday's Wall Street Journal.
"The man has instant impact on public debate. An idea he floated only last week -- that our "zombie banks" be temporarily nationalized -- aired first on Forbes.com, where he writes a weekly column. It has evolved, in the space of just a few days, from radical solution to almost received wisdom," says the Varadarajan column.
It "is something the partisans would have regarded as anathema a few weeks ago. But when I and others put it in the context of the Swedish approach [of the 1990s] -- i.e. you take banks over, you clean them up, and you sell them in rapid order to the private sector -- it's clear that it's temporary. No one's in favor of a permanent government takeover of the financial system," opines Roubini.
Even Lindsey Graham, the conservative Republican Senator from South Carolina, says he wouldn't take the idea off the table and Alan Greenspan, former head of the Fed said this week in Financial Times, "it may be necessary to temporarily nationalize some banks in order to facilitate a swift and orderly restructuring."
"I think that we're going to see the policy adopted in the next few months . . . in six months or so," states Roubini. "Six months from now, even firms that today look solvent are going to look insolvent. Most of the major banks -- almost all of them -- are going to look insolvent. In which case, if you take them all over all at once, you cause less damage than if you would if you took over a couple now, and created so much confusion and panic and nervousness," he continues.
But you can read the whole story on the WSJ opinion page (link under title of this column). Be sure to pay attention to the part about how the press has covered this whole situation.
If you don't believe your vote counts check this out.
More than 140 countries have agreed to negotiate a legally binding treaty that would slash the use of metal mercury. Its intent is to reduce people's exposure to a toxin that negatively affects brain development in infants and young children everywhere.
The agreement was announced at a meeting of United Nations Environmental Ministers in Nairobi yesterday and happened after the Obama administration reversed the Bush administration's position on the issue. China, India and other nations immediately agreed to endorse the goal of a mandatory treaty.
And what was the Bush administration's objection to such a treaty? According to the Washington Post, "The Bush administration had said it preferred to push for voluntary reductions in mercury emissions because the process of negotiating a treaty would be long and cumbersome."
For years environmentalists have been lobbying for just such a treaty and all it took was electing a president who believes that protecting our children is worth a "...long and cumbersome..." negotiation.
"Only a few weeks ago, nations remained divided on how to deal with this major public health threat which touches everyone in every country of the world. said Achim Stiner, executive director of the U.N. Environmental Program. "Today, the world's environment ministers, armed with the full facts and full choices, decided the time for talking was over -- the time for action on this pollution is now," Stiner continued.
In an interview earlier this month, Steiner said the agreement "will be a major, confidence-building boost for not only the chemicals and health agenda but right across the environmental challenges of our time, from biodiversity loss to climate change."
Formal negotiations will begin late this year and should be completed by early 2013. The White House issued a statement saying a future treaty would use "a combination of legally binding and voluntary commitments" to cut mercury emissions from industrial processes as well as coal-fired power plants and small-scale mining.
"The United States will play a leading role in working with other nations to craft a global, legally binding agreement that will prevent the spread of mercury into the environment and improve the health of workers, pregnant women and children throughout the world," said Nancy Sutley, who chairs the White House Council on Environmental Quality, in the statement.
"While the majority of mercury exposure in the United States stems from non-domestic emissions, all 50 states have issued mercury contamination advisories for fish in their waters. Marine mammals eaten by native Arctic peoples, such as pilot and beluga whales, have mercury concentrations that exceed recommended levels," says a Washington Post story.
The story continues: "Environmentalist Susan Egan Keane, a policy analyst for the Natural Resources Defense Council who attended the Nairobi session, called the agreement "an amazing and astonishing turn of events."
"For six or seven years, the Bush administration had absolutely blocked any attempt to create a legally binding instrument," Keane said. "The Obama administration, within three or four weeks of inauguration, was able to put that into reverse."
An aside of pride: Nancy Sutley is from Los Angeles and happens to be a lesbian; just one of the many gay and lesbian appointees in the new administration.
Thursday, February 19, 2009
I can't believe we lived through eight long years of really rough wilderness.
And on the labor front: Hilda Solis is finally going to be confirmed as Labor Secretary - no thanks to the 19th century Republican Party that obstructs every worthwhile thing that's happening in the Senate. They just can't believe that we're going to actually have a Labor Secretary who supports Labor. What a concept?
They've been spoiled the last eight years what with Elaine Chao sitting on 13 corporate boards and being married to Mitch McConnell (R) Ky, the Republican Minority leader, while serving as Labor Secretary for the Bush Administration. Chao took what some call a "relaxed attitude" toward the regulation of coal mines - especially safety regulations. She also instituted a wage freeze on certain farmworkers; something her husband couldn't get done in the Senate. Oh and she attended Mitch's fundraisers and chatted up his corporate donors while hiring his former aides.
And now the Republicans are SCREAMING about the fact that our new Labor Secretary supports the Employee Free Choice Act. They're actually demanding that she recuse herself from most issues under her direction because she is truly a Labor Secretary, not a corporate beard pretending to be one.
What a difference an election makes. How sweeeeet it is!
On the other side of the country: when a pair of gay dads are traveling across country via air with their twin baby girls, how does it work? You wouldn't believe how complicated it is what with birth certificates etc. Max Mutchnick (created Will and Grace) and his husband flew to New York recently to show off the girls to their grandparents - well check it out: the link is above.
Thursday, January 08, 2009
Quoting Max Blumenthal of SmirkingChimp.com:
"Once hailed by Time magazine as "America's Pastor," California megachurch leader and best-selling author of The Purpose Driven Life, Rick Warren now finds himself on the defensive.
"Warren's defense against charges of intolerance ultimately depends upon his ace card: his heavily publicized crusade against AIDS in Africa. Obama senior adviser David Axelrod cited Warren's work in Africa as one of "the things on which [Obama and Warren] agree" on the Dec. 28 episode of Meet the Press. Warren may be opposed to gay rights and abortion, the thinking goes, but he tells evangelicals it is their God-given duty to battle one of the greatest pandemics in history. What could be wrong with that?'"
Well, let me see. How about, "Warren's involvement in Africa reveals a web of alliances with right-wing clergymen who have sidelined science-based approaches to combating AIDS in favor of abstinence-only education. More disturbingly, Warren's allies have rolled back key elements of one of the continent's most successful initiative, the so-called ABC program in Uganda. Stephen Lewis, the United Nations special envoy for HIV/AIDS in Africa, told the New York Times their activism is "resulting in great damage and undoubtedly will cause significant numbers of infections which should never have occurred."
"Warren's man in Uganda is a charismatic pastor named Martin Ssempa. The head of the Makerere Community Church, a rapidly growing congregation, Ssempa enjoys close ties to his country's first lady, Janet Museveni, and is a favorite of the Bush White House. In the capitol of Kampala, Ssempa is known for his boisterous crusading. Ssempa's stunts have included burning condoms in the name of Jesus and arranging the publication of names of homosexuals in cooperative local newspapers while lobbying for criminal penalties to imprison them.
"Dr. Helen Epstein, a public health consultant who wrote the book, The Invisible Cure: Why We're Losing the Fight Against AIDS in Africa, met Ssempa in 2005. Epstein told me the preacher seemed gripped by paranoia, warning her of a secret witches coven that met under Lake Victoria. "Ssempa also spoke to me for a very long time about his fear of homosexual men and women," Epstein said. "He seemed very personally terrified by their presence."
"When Warren unveiled his global AIDS initiative at a 2005 conference at his Saddleback Church, he cast Ssempa as his indispensable sidekick, assigning him to lead a breakout session on abstinence-only education as well as a seminar on AIDS prevention.
"During the early 1990s, when many African leaders denied the AIDS epidemic's existence, Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni spoke openly about the importance of safe sex. With the help of local and international nongovernmental organizations, he implemented an ambitious program emphasizing abstinence, monogamous relationships and using condoms as the best ways to prevent the spread of AIDS. He called the program "ABC." By 2003, Uganda's AIDS rate plummeted 10 percent. The government's free distribution of the "C" in ABC -- condoms -- proved central to the program's success, according to Avert, an international AIDS charity.
"On New Year's Eve 1999, Janet Museveni, who had become born-again, convened a massive stadium revival in Kampala to dedicate her country to the "lordship" of Jesus Christ. As midnight approached, the first lady summoned a local pastor to the stage to anoint the nation. "We renounce idolatry, witchcraft and Satanism in our land!" he proclaimed."
And things went down hill from there.
"AIDS activists arrived at the 16th International AIDS Conference in Toronto in 2006 with disturbing news from Uganda. Due, at least in part, to the chronic condom shortage, HIV infections were on the rise again. The disease rate had spiked to 6.5 percent among rural men and 8.8 percent among women -- a rise of nearly two points in the case of women. "The ‘C' part [of ABC] is now mainly silent," said Ugandan AIDS activist Beatrice Ware. As a result, she said, "the success story is unraveling."
"With safe sex advocates on the run, Warren and Ssempa trained their sights on another social evil. In August 2007, Ssempa led hundreds of his followers through the streets of Kampala to demand that the government mete out harsh punishments against gays. "Arrest all homos," read placards. And: "A man cannot marry a man." Ssempa continued his crusade online, publishing the names of Ugandan gay rights activists on a Web site he created, along with photos and home addresses. "Homosexual promoters," he called them, suggesting they intended to seduce Uganda's children into their lifestyle. Soon afterward, two of President Museveni's top officials demanded the arrest of the gay activists named by Ssempa. Terrified, the activists immediately into hiding.''
Rick Warren's disapproval of gays and lesbians has far reaching influence and we cannot afford to let up on this issue. I urge every person who reads this to go to http://change.gov and urge the Obama Transition team to acknowledge that Warren's AIDS program in Africa is seriously flawed and causing real damage in Uganda; that Rick Warren simply is not an appropriate person to honor with a prominent role in the Obama Inaugural.