Sunday, November 30, 2008

Tell Congress and Obama to Pass the DREAM Act

Let's not blow another opportunity to do something decent, right, smart, and prudent, and honest. After all, we're all immigrants at some time in our lives, all dependent on the kindness of strangers. Maybe that's one reason that all the sacred scriptures make such a point of requiring everyone to give our best to strangers, travelers, visitors, and guests. At one level, it's about acknowledging our common humanity and interdependence.

Nowhere is that clearer than in education. The DREAM Act offers a clear choice. Either we consciously add the children of undocumented residents to the legions of despairing, uneducated poor, or we give them the means to realize their vast potential. Seems like a no-brainer to me.


Every year, thousands of undocumented American students graduate from college and high school, and face a roadblock to their dreams -- they can't drive, can't work legally, can't get loans or establish credit, can't further their education, and can't contribute to the economy. It is a classic case of lost potential and broken dreams.

The federal DREAM Act (Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors Act), is a bipartisan legislation that would permit a select group of undocumented students conditional legal status and eventual citizenship granted that they meet the following requirements:

--if they were brought to the United States before they turned 16, are below the age
of 30,
--have lived here continuously for five years,
--graduated from a U.S. high school or obtained a GED
--have good moral character with no criminal record and
--attend college or enlist in the military for at least two years.

Barack Obama has stated that undocumented students brought up in the United States are "American for all intents and purposes." Senator Richard Durbin has implored Congress to "give these kids a chance." Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch has said: “In short, although these children have built their lives here, they have no possibility of achieving and living the American dream. What a tremendous loss for them, and what a tremendous loss to our society.”

Why penalize children for the actions of their parents? Why throw away the talent we have invested in from K-12 right when we can make use of it? Why deport students from the ONLY home they have ever known?

Let's bring these students out of the shadows, out from underground. Tell President-Elect Obama to pass the DREAM Act in 2009. Talented students and their families living in fear of raids and ripped apart by deportations, cannot afford to wait for change.

- DREAM Activist (MA Graduate DREAMer - Blogger), San Francisco, CA Nov 24 @ 01:27PM PST

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

It Gets Better: Begich Beats Stevens in Alaska Senate Race

Even if Stevens wins every one of the 2,500 uncounted ballots, he still loses. Nuff said.

This leaves us with final decisions yet to be made in MN and GA. Fingers, toes, and eyes crossed.

TX County Indicts Cheney and Gonzales

Associated Press reports this little bit of intrigue:

McALLEN, Texas -- Vice President Dick Cheney and former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales have been indicted on state charges involving federal prisons in a South Texas county that has been a source of bizarre legal and political battles under the outgoing prosecutor.

The indictment returned Monday has not yet been signed by the presiding judge, and no action can be taken until that happens.

The seven indictments made public in Willacy County on Tuesday included one naming state Sen. Eddie Lucio Jr. and some targeting public officials connected to District Attorney Juan Angel Guerra's own legal battles.

Regarding the indictments targeting the public officials, Guerra said, "the grand jury is the one that made those decisions, not me."

Guerra himself was under indictment for more than a year and half until a judge dismissed the indictments last month. Guerra's tenure ends this year after nearly two decades in office. He lost convincingly in a Democratic primary in March.

Guerra said the prison-related charges against Cheney and Gonzales are a national issue and experts from across the country testified to the grand jury.

Cheney is charged with engaging in an organized criminal activity related to the vice president's investment in the Vanguard Group, which holds financial interests in the private prison companies running the federal detention centers. It accuses Cheney of a conflict of interest and "at least misdemeanor assaults" on detainees because of his link to the prison companies.

Megan Mitchell, a spokeswoman for Cheney, declined to comment on Tuesday, saying that the vice president had not yet received a copy of the indictment.

The indictment accuses Gonzales of using his position while in office to stop an investigation in 2006 into abuses at one of the privately-run prisons.

Gonzales' attorney, George Terwilliger III, said in a written statement, "This is obviously a bogus charge on its face, as any good prosecutor can recognize." He said he hoped Texas authorities would take steps to stop "this abuse of the criminal justice system."
OK well this makes me happy. Of course I expect that both will speedily be pardoned. Fun while it lasted.

Private prisons are a blight on civilization. But that would be right up Cheney's alley, that would: spreading blight on civilization where 'ere he goes, traipsing about willy-nilly, a sadistic F'd up Johnny Appleseed from Hell.

This Has to Stop. Now.

I'm pretty upset. Five minutes ago, moments after I fired off an email to Newsweek for its bogglingly irresponsible article, "Is Obama the AntiChrist?," I learned that a Roman Catholic cardinal at the Vatican has called Obama's agenda "destructive," "violent," and "apocalyptic," and inquired what grieving Catholics should do with "our hot, angry tears of betrayal."

Apparently it's not enough that Sarah Palin ignited the "patriots" and the racists to shout kill slogans. Now, no less than Newsweek and a member of the upper tier of the RC hierarchy have elected to stoke the flames still higher. Much higher.

My concern has partly to do with the overlaps among four populations: extremely conservative Catholics, Protestant fundamentalists, racists, and extreme Rightwing militia/minuteman/"patriots."

All of them are already whipped to frenzies of rage by the election of the young African American moderate. Just visit the Free Republic site for proof. Remember: This nation has been subjected to a steadily ant-liberal toxic infusion for some thirty years. I mean the likes of Michael Medved, James Dobson, Pat Robertson, the late Jerry Falwell, Ann Coulter, Michael Savage, Rush Limbaugh, Dennis Miller, Tom DeLay, Tom Tancredo, Lou Dobbs, and the rest. When it takes only one zealot alight with holy conviction, pouring apocalyptic kerosene on the white-hot flames of race, religion, and nativism isn't merely irresponsible. It's explosive. It's all but inciting assassination.

As I wrote to Newsweek's editors:

Regarding -- Well, golly! Can’t you do something else to make sure some paranoid fundamentalist nut job kills the next President? It wasn’t enough for you that Palin stirred the “patriots” and the racists to shout kill threats? That Southern Law Poverty Center is warning of a sharp spike in threats and violence toward African Americans (and others)? Now you have to go the next giant step by giving credibility to those who think that he’s “the anti-Christ”? Why don’t you just take out a contract?

I’m aghast. There’s a responsible way to write about stuff like this, but surely it isn’t to give it the Newsweek imprimatur, as you do here:

"The people who believe Obama is the Antichrist are perhaps jumping to conclusions, but they're not nuts: "They are expressing a concern and a fear that is widely shared," Staver says."

You could have troubled to interview universally respected, educated biblical scholars such as John Shelby Spong or Elaine Pagels or Bart Ehrman, who could have spoken to End Times phantasms like “the anti-Christ” from a deeply knowledgeable, profoundly Christian place. But nooooo. In tone and content, you’ve both perpetuated the public view that only fundamentalists speak for all Christians, and quite possibly put the President-Elect’s very life in graver danger than ever.

You’ve got a young wife, two little girls, the Secret Service, the majority of Americans, and a whole, breathless, hopeful world to answer to.

If anything happens to him, the ensuing chaos will dwarf today’s troubles. Thanks ever so for upping the odds. Shame on you. Serious heaps of shame on you. What were you thinking?

Even Blitzer himself--as today, for instance--is stoking the flames. Inadvertently? Who can say. All day long, his drum beats incessant fear to thrum within conservative Americans, that Obama will abolish restraints on gay men and lesbian women in the military. Whether he will or won't we don't know. It gets ratings. Consequences be damned.

What's disturbing, in other words, is that the timing is as troubling as the content, because it adds weight to the heavy backpack of outrage that zealots on the Far Right have toted since Obama was first nominated. And remember: For at least the last eight years, Bush has explicitly "Christianized" the US military and military academies, and created his own private army. Think Mikey Weinstein. Think radical extreme Christianist Erik Prince and his private mercenary military force, Blackwater.

Bush, Blackwater, the Christianization of the armed forces, and 30 years of anti-liberal hate propaganda, in my view, raise the ante far beyond anything we might have anticipated when John and Bobby Kennedy and Martin Luther King, Jr., were assassinated. There's a sinister constellation of means and motive on a scale unprecedented in this country. Not even the run-up to the Civil War saw these things.

It troubles me enormouslythat I'm not seeing or hearing, anywhere, even a sporadic appearance from even one universally respected, highly educated biblical scholar to speak for Christians (as contrasted with Christianists) about the meaning of concepts like "the anti-Christ," Apocalypse, Armageddon, and the like--what they are, what they aren't, what they mean, what they don't mean.

For that reason, all--and I mean ALL--that most Americans know are the fevered nightmare fantasiesof extreme Christianist militant Tim LaHaye, co-author of the Left Behind chronicles.

And remember: The Left Behind series of cheap novels--close to 100 million copies have sold--hawk a violent, bloody fundamentalist vision of the End Times, and reportedly have inspired at least one computer game that advocates killing anyone who can't be converted to militant Christianist fundamentalism. These things weren't even on the horizon when the Kennedys and King were assassinated. And we have no way of knowing how many folks are running around out there who've been fed this poison since birth. We do know there are a lot of them.

What can you and I do? Make ourselves and everyone we know acutely aware of these developments, challenge anything in the media anywhere that fans these flames even inadvertently, and hold the whole country accountable for ensuring that we protect this young President-Elect and all the hope that he has stirred in hearts across the world.

The alternative is unthinkable.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Made it to CNN!

Hey, Cool! At least some of my post to the CNN Newsroom made it on-air:

I would be happy to give the Big 3 funds to retool, re-educate its workforce, and re-grow a productive American Middle Class. I would not be happy to fund the same old mediocrity, environmental apathy, and golden lifestyles for patently failed executives. Thank you. JS

Big Three Bailout

As I just wrote to the CNN Newroom:

Regarding this Big 3 bailout: I'd like to see an interview with all three CEOs that said this:

What happened to personal accountability and pride? I can't imagine my senior managment father--a WWII Paratrooper--ever begging the government to save his rear if he had mismanaged his business into crisis. He would have been too ashamed, felt too responsible, and been too proud to ask someone else to pay for his messes.

Isn't that an American value anymore? If it isn't, maybe the country should be more focused on that than on undermining the Constitution by making war on gay people's human rights!
If we do bail out the Big 3, then we certainly DO have the right to impose conditions. I vote for: New boards, new management, no layoffs, and a commitment to manufacture vehicles that are increasingly less oil dependent.

I would be happy to give the Big 3 funds to retool, re-educate its workforce, and re-grow a productive American Middle Class. I would not be happy to fund the same old mediocrity, environmental apathy, and golden lifestyles for patently failed executives.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

And Now for Something Completely Different. . .

Turn your sound on. Trust me.

Friday, November 14, 2008

That Straight Blind Spot

Of all the amazing things that have happened in the last two weeks, the discovery that a large number of straight people can vote to strip away our constitutional rights AND THEN BE SURPRISED WHEN WE'RE UPSET has to be at least second on the list.

Like the manager of El Coyote, an L.A. restaurant with a large gay clientele, a Mormon who contributed $100 to support Prop 8. Or the Mormon artistic director of the California Musical Theatre--of all things--for his support. Both expressed confusion and dismay that what they saw as a personal decision should have offended their clients, colleagues, and friends.


What can explain that straight blind spot?

Well, lessee. What indeed?

First, there is a centuries-long tradition among heterosexuals of deriding, scorning, mocking, trivializing, and otherwise dehumanizing homosexuals. It can't be easy to break the habit.

Next, there's the intrinsic relationship between sexism and heterosexism, making it just as easy to deride, scorn, mock, trivialize, and dehumanize women. The two constantly reinforce each other. No surprise, then, that just about the time we begin to make progress on one front, the other starts eroding. After Putt-Putt, and thanks to the Family Research Council, keeping women and Queers in their place is conservative America's favorite family pass-time.

Then there's the longstanding media fiction that there really are two equally valid viewpoints when someone else's human rights are concerned. How many times has Larry King or Bill Maher or CNN or NBC staged a "debate" between a supporter of "gay marriage" and an opponent of "gay marriage"? It's always predicated on the lie that the quarrel is about a rite and has nothing whatsoever to do with the explicit constitutional rights of every person to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness--any one of which touches directly on the choice of whom or whether to marry.

After all, they say, it's only a disagreement about "preserving traditional marriage." Not. Words matter. "Preserving"? "Traditional"? By implying that there's one monolithic institution, those words erase the truth that marriage has undergone a myriad changes over the centuries. Hetereosexually speaking, marriage has included mere contracts for financial convenience and to consolidate power. It has included divorceable marriage, assigned marriage, plural marriage, open marriage, drive-thru marriage, Britney marriage, serial marriage, mail-order marriage, and common-law marriage, almost all without drawing a peep from the Officially Godly Contingent about the "sanctity" of it all.

Implicit lies and distortions mount up over time. Sooner or later, there's an accumulated pseudo-reality, a backdrop of unstated assumptions against which we tilt all but in vain. It serves to erase fact--especially when, before Congress, or one notch over on the dial, a phalanx of fascist Christianists has been spewing lethal lies about us and/or our relationships for thirty years.

Not least is the mainstream media's famous penchant for ignoring crimes of violence committed by heterosexists against gay men and lesbian women and trans-gendered persons. We know about them because we are the victims and we know the victims, and because our media cover these crimes for the horrors they are. But, except for the most egregious horrors, mainstream straight media spare straight people the discomfort of ever having to connect the dots between between a Matthew Shepard, on the one hand, and the vicious carping of an Ann Coulter, the lies of Christianist zealots like Fred Phelps or James Dobson, and the way reporters and editors choose to portray or erase us, on the other.

I link straight surprise to straight denial. Given centuries of pretending that we don't exist at all, straight denial that we've ever been oppressed at all is actually not amazing. It's even clinically predictable. What better way to deal with the consequences of one's behavior than to pretend there are none? And if there are none, what on earth can we possibly be pissed off about?

Straight denial surely also plays a role in well-meaning straight counsel to us to tone it down, to choose another target, not the church. Together with enforced ignorance about heterosexism's effects for us--books about us are banned; sex education can't mention us; teachers, doctors, nurses, ministers, actors, firemen, cops, accountants, life guards, EMTs, athletes, kids, and all the rest of us still can't come out without paying an atrocious price--straight denial makes it possible to minimize centuries of heterosexist terrorization and oppression, utterly overlook the last 50 years in which we've tried every conceivable alternative means to gain full human equality, and ultimately see us as the cause of all this hostility, therefore accountable for toning it down. Oh please.

The fact remains: We didn't pick this fight. It began when we decided to take straight boots off gay and lesbian necks.

Straight people of good will, our allies and friends, can do something about straight denial. You can walk with us in protests, speak out for us in voice and print, join and donate to causes and organizations supporting our liberation, join us as amicus curiae in lawsuits to protect our rights, and educate, educate, educate other straights with whom you come in contact. I recommend the tried-and-true method born, not coincidentally, in the Women's Rights Movement, called consciousness raising. There are numerous resources out there to help you plan and conduct a CR group at church, at work, at the neighborhood coffee shop.

But whatever you do, don't wait. Next it could be your son or daughter who's savaged. For everyone's sake, don't get stuck in straight denial.

"The Dark Side of the Vote"

I've read a lot lately about Prop 8 and Prop 102, and the other anti-gay votes in Florida and Arkansas, but I haven't read anything that even begins to hint at how I feel about my fellow Americans writing me out of the Constitution, and how I feel about that massive straight blind spot, so well as this piece in the NYT by Judith Warner.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Pico Names His "Superior Scribblers"

As a new recipient of a "Superior Scribblers" Award, it's my duty and my pleasure to pass the award on to five other blogs that keep me online:

the sanctuary--simply a must-see for a three-dimensional take on immigrants, human rights, and immigration policy

Rivergarth--music, images, and musing, wry, slicing, and witty. Yes, Virginia. There are still creative, progressive brains in Kansas.

La Alma de Fuego--challenge and prose as only sharply honed talent can cook them up

Tennessee Guerilla Women--don't underestimate Tennessee. There's guts and gold in them hills.

Blog for Arizona--the first place to go for Progressive Arizona.

Recipients, please see the Rules and obey.

The Superior Scribblers Award!

You're lookin' at the newest recipient of the "Superior Scribblers" Award! (See top left.) Whattya think? Hot, huh?

In between celebratory shouts of joy and commemorative sips of my martini, I loudly sing the praises of my special Godfather, Ted McLaughlin, of the excellent Texas blog, Jobsanger, who passed this award to Yours Truly. Honored indeed to be in such company. Thank you, my friend. Here's to you!

A word about the "Superior Scribblers" Award from its founder, The [esteemed] Scholastic Scribe:

We've been participating in this Jacked Up Blogging Janx for 6 months now. This is our 200th Post. To Commemorate, Celebrate, & Generally Share the Bloggy Love, we've Created an Award. Yes, The Superior Scribbler Award is a Scholastic Scribe Original! We'd like to pass it along to 5 Extremely Deserving Scribblers. And we hope they pass it along, in turn. "Etcetera, Etcetera, Etcetera," as Yul Brynner would say...

Of course, as with every Bloggy Award, there are A Few Rules. They are, forthwith:

Each Superior Scribbler must in turn pass The Award on to 5 most-deserving Bloggy Friends.

Each Superior Scribbler must link to the author & the name of the blog from whom he/she has received The Award.

Each Superior Scribbler must display The Award on his/her blog, and link to This Post, which explains The Award.

Each Blogger who wins The Superior Scribbler Award must visit this post and add his/her name to the Mr. Linky List. That way, we'll be able to keep up-to-date on everyone who receives This Prestigious Honor!

Each Superior Scribbler must post these rules on his/her blog.

There now. Rules observed, I go to ponder which of my favorite blogs to anoint. Back anon.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

The Marriage War: Strategy Considerations

My wife and I got married in San Francisco, CA, in February, 2004, when Mayor Gavin Newsome first gave gays and lesbians the option. So I've got a more than a little interest in this matter. I'm not now nor have I ever been writing about it from a neutral perspective.

Of course I think GLBT people should be able to marry. I've written fairly extensively about why. In my way, I penned a somewhat contrarian analysis of why the issue matters so much to Republicans and what else it brings into their gunsights, and took a sarcastic swing at Cathi Herrod, doyenne of the Arizona Gay Haters' resurrected anti-gay proposition, Prop 102. Recently, I took up strategy, too.

We will succeed. So long as we have a Constitution, states such as Vermont, Massachusetts, and Connecticut are reliable bellwethers. But our strategies will determine how long we have to fight, and what additional costs we'll pay. Some thoughts:

(1) It's trendy now to blame African Americans for passing Prop 8. That's really not smart. In the first place, it may well be because of young, new, first-time African American voters that the margin wasn't greater than it was. Olberman made that point last night, showing the numbers.

In the second, didn't we learn anything from the Obama/Hillary dust-up in the South Carolina primary? The LAST thing we need, as progressives, is a split in the ranks. No matter how bitter the irony of Black opposition may be to a community over-represented in the Civil Rights movement, we need to be clear about defining the real enemy. Instead of singling out African Americans when Hispanics and others are equally complicit, and instead of denigrating the African Americans who voted for Prop 8 and its ugly cousins in states like AZ and AR, we must target the racist, sexist, and heterosexist fundamentalists and evangelicals who, after all, are the real foe. Remember: African Americans who voted for Prop 8 or Prop 102, or any other anti-gay measure, didn't do so because they're African Americans. They did so only because of hateful, lying anti-gay propaganda from Far Right Christianists like Howard Ahmandson, Jr. THAT's the source of the problem. Let's keep our eyes fixed on the correct target.

(3) The energy we save by not attacking African Americans can and should be used for outreach and education in all conservative communities, including African American, Hispanic, Native, Asian American, and Anglo. Follow Obama's example: Never cede territory to the foe.

(4) I think it's stupid to picket churches. Think about it: A picture speaks a thousand words, right? The negative PR image is louder than anything we can shout. It doesn't help us to hand message validation to Christianists on a silver platter! They're saying that we're un-churched, godless, and opposed to everything holy and good. And sure enough, there we are, lined up screaming outside a church. Duh.

(5) Instead, I support targeted boycotts. Mormon leaders made the LDS church an aggressively public party to this struggle. Let's let them know, in no uncertain terms, that while we support their right to vote, the LDS decision to intervene militantly, across state lines has consequences. They are free to use the power of their institution and their money to pursue their objectives. So are we.

But I don't get limiting the boycott to Utah and Mormons. After all, Baptists and Catholics and others have been there long before the Mormons decided to put their feet on our necks.

Any group, corporation, organization, municipality, or state that waves an anti-gay flag doesn't deserve and should not receive gay dollars. In this recession, that message can have a major effect.

And this is critical: Not only the churches that actively urge hate, but also those that choose safe silence in the face of clear injustice are complicit in our oppression. Let them all feel what it means when GLBT people, our families, and our friends withdraw our support.
This can be tricky when denominations take a pro-gay stand but local member congregations choose silence or opposition. Know who's who and what's what.

(6) Similarly, anyone who supports us, we should support strongly. We must make it our business to know that PepsiCo gave PFLAG a half-million dollar grant, and buy Pepsi. As long as Coors funds the Far Right, drink Pepsi.

(7) Words matter. Use them wisely and well. Instead of using terms that affirm the lie that Christianists mean us no harm and hope only to oppose "gay marriage," we should begin now to talk simply about marriage. Not gay marriage, not straight marriage. Just marriage. From our point of view, the goal is not "gay" marriage, whatever that might mean. Our goal is equality in marriage.

And let's not talk anymore about "anti-gay marriage." From the Far Right point of view, the "marriage" angle is just a cover. This is not anti-gay marriage. It's ANTI-GAY. Period. Make no mistake about that. Let's strip the facade and take away the sophistry. This movement is only and always about oppressing gay and lesbian people, never merely about who has access to marriage rites. Let's not contribute to the confusion, OK? Call it what it is: Anti-Gay.

(8) Instead of re-inventing the wheel, it seems to me that activists across the nation would be wise to study the tactics and strategies of Evan Wolfson, often called the father of the marriage movement. When there's an expert hanging around, why not utilize his experience and knowledge? And there are strongly successful state law models out there. Washington State's is one of them. Let's go with what works, stay focused, and stay on message.

Gay Marriage, Immigrants, and the Borderlands

Two of the most divisive civil rights issues in the USA today are immigrants and GLBT persons. The two groups may seem radically different on the surface, but take another look.

In reality and in metaphor, both GLBT persons and immigrants live in the borderland, a place defined more by not-belonging than anything else. Both are seen as semi-persons when a person is one who takes ownership of full human rights as given, and lives so fully out in the sunshine as to be average, normative, commonplace.
Both, regardless of talent, potential, merit, or contribution, are deliberately fenced out by the dominant culture’s blanket appraisal of difference.
Thomas Sowell, the prominent rightwing African American political economist at Stanford's Hoover Institution, wrote on this election day that bans on gay marriage aren't about persons but rather about behavior.

Jim Gilchrist and the radical anti-immigrant Minutemen say, similarly, that they aren't focused on persons either, but rather on behavior.

In exactly the way that the Minutemen claim not to be racists, Sowell claims not to be heterosexist.

Both arguments are sheer sophistry.

Let's penetrate the fog.

Is it truly pure coincidence, then, that in both cases, their targets just so happen to comprise only one category of people instead of all people?

If the concern is the behavior "gay marriage," as Sowell claims, then isn't it a fact--despite Sowell's obscenely propagandistic hypothetical that two heterosexual men might marry "to make a point"--that only one authentic, reality-based category of persons is targeted? Yes, of course it's a fact. So then, is that fact a pure coincidence? No. The behavior "gay marriage" is intrinsic to the persons involved. It can't be separated from the persons, by definition: Gay marriage can't happen between heterosexuals or it isn't gay.

If the concern is law-breaking, as Gilchrist and the Minutemen claim, law-breaking also includes rape, murder, robbery, kidnapping, battery, child-abandonment, and drunk driving. Therefore, we should expect to see those who are moved to outrage by lawbreaking be equally focused on all crimes. Actually, we should expect to see far greater focus on the most serious crimes, like rape, murder, and kidnapping. Since we don't, we must ask whether it is truly just a coincidence that their focus is only on poor, brown people from south of the border. No, of course not. In this case, although the behavior can be separated from the person--others can and do enter the country illegally--Gilchrist isn't manning the Alaskan border snaring Russians.

Sowell argues that all law targets behavior, and that some behavior ought to be forbidden. That's true. And then he commits his second sophistry, by equating gay marriage with polygamy and pedophilia. In what precise sense can a marriage between two consenting adults be analogous to polygamy or pedophilia? He'd like us to gambol like little lambs after his demagogue's implication, but let's not. The truth is that, by definition, there is no comparison.

Sowell's third sophistry says more about his resolute bigotry than about anything else. He writes:
"Despite heavy television advertising in California for 'gay marriage,' showing blacks being set upon by police dogs during civil right marches, and implying that homosexuals face the same discrimination today, the analogy is completely false.
Blacks had to sit in the back of the bus because they were black. They were doing exactly what white people were doing-- riding a bus. That is what made it racial discrimination."

Really? OK, let's check. Let's make a couple of word changes and see what happens to Sowell's logic:
Homosexuals have to do without marriage because they are homosexuals. They want to do exactly what heterosexuals do--get married. That is what makes it heterosexist discrimination.

In Gilchrist's case and Sowell's, their outrage is in fact focused exclusively on a specific kind of person, making each man's target not behavior after all, but a single category of people, of perceived offenders.

And everyone knows it.

It's sad that both men try to delude us with dishonest argument, but when one of them is an accomplished scholar, it's also a dis-grace--a falling out of that state of grace that is conferred by intellectual integrity and openness of spirit.

The result, in both cases, if sometimes in different ways and degrees, is brutalization of both target and gunner. What's often overlooked, though, is that those who create or sustain injustice, like Sowell and Gilchrist, are often damaged more severely by their bigotry than their targets are. Without in any way minimizing that kind of dire deprivation--I wouldn't dare--it's not all about jobs and economic security: Would you rather be César Chávez or Tom Tancredo? Would you rather be Rosa Parks or Phyllis Shlafly? Would you rather be Harvey Milk or Dan White?

Not just the nation but all of us everywhere urgently need for bigger and better reasons the energy it takes to fence people out for unjust reasons. I believe that that energy was meant for, and is essential for, true, global, planetary, soul-and-body nourishment. When it’s diverted and perverted, everyone is starved. Not just those in the borderlands.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Winger Lies >

Here's a new site you'll want to bookmark! Wingerlies! It's not like they won't have material, God knows! It's wrangled by a respected acquaintance who happens to be a Dallas attorney.

As you know, W hissef is "retiring" to the Big D after he (finally) leaves the WH. This makes Wingerlies not just timely but also exceedingly well placed!

Welcome to the 'sphere, and congratulations!

A Verifiable National Threat: The GOP

"Republicans know how to run a business, run a government, and deal with national security."

This morning, as I contemplate our country's economic and national security catastrophe--we can't be in economic meltdown without being also being at grave security risk--I'm reminded that those who've run the government, the investment banks and the Big Three automakers into the ditch are Republicans.

I'm reminded, too, that Republicans love to boast about their patriotism. I just wonder where that patriotism was when the boys in the CEO suite made the decisions that trashed our flagship corporations, blew the world's confidence in our market, trashed our national honor, shipped our jobs offshore, and put the stockholder ahead of the nation.

This crisis -- too paltry a word -- didn't sweep upon us suddenly and without warning. For thirty years, Republicans have made major policy decisions that they knew or should have known would bring us to this point. Where was all that patriotism?

If any teenage mom can explain the flaw in the notion that people will self-regulate, nobody can tell me that our leaders weren't fully aware that deregulation would bring bags of loot to a few at the price of disaster for the rest of us. If you haven't, yet, please read The Shock Doctrine. You'll see just how knowing and deliberate it all is--is, and continues to be. Pray, where is that patriotism?

Since even I can predict a market meltdown if there's nothing but air to sell, you can't tell me that our national failure to ensure that we are a producing economy--a nation that actually makes tangible goods of value--wasn't understood to be a guarantee that one day, an economy built on vapors would collapse. So exactly where was all that patriotism?

And now, when Bush is shoveling our tax dollars and those of the next ten generations out the door in secret deals with family banks and massive bailouts to AIG executives who, as we speak, are again lolling poolside at Arizona's most expensive resports, where's the patriotism?

The lousy management of business, banking, government, and economy is more than evident. So where's the patriotism?

And by the way, Department of Justice: Aren't there laws to stop the looting of the national treasury? Aren't there laws that require our public officials to exercise fiduciary accountability? Isn't rank, bald-faced theft an actionable offense?

I heard this morning that if the Big Three automakers go down, three million American jobs will be gone. If that happens, we're in the second Republican-created Great Depression. Therefore, if that's true, we have no choice but to bail them out, even though they themselves created their own demise. So much for Republicans' mantra of personal responsibility. But what gets me is that everyone saw it coming. It makes me furious that we're in this situation, and it makes me crazy that even one American saw fit to vote for even one Republican last week. A-a-astonishing.

I don't know if there's anything that the American people can do to ensure that those responsible are made accountable in a tangible, meaningful way--as in a racketeering conviction or something--and that we are repaid when the economy finally crawls back into the black. But one thing I do know, now forever and indelibly, and I hope you do, too: Republicans suck at business, government, and national security. They're not just bad. They're verifiably dangerous.

It's Still Cold in America for Some of Us

Monday, November 10, 2008

A Modest Marriage Proposal

Many have pointed out that marriage is a religious rite. As that's the case, IRS, state, municipal, military, employment, and any other secular, civil benefits that currently accrue to marriage shouldn't accrue to marriage at all. In fact, I should think that when they do, there's a probable violation of the separation of Church and State clause.

It's not an argument I've read before. This just came to me as one possible way forward: Let's let the religious fundamentalists control their fundamentalist religions, and enable the rest of us to control civil society in the USA. To that end, how about taking the equality emphasis off the rite of "marriage" and putting it on civil unions? It would work like this:

Provided ALL current and future secular, civil benefits that now accrue to marriage will then accrue to civil unions, let's push for equality in civil unions. Then, everyone who is civilly united will be entitled to all civil, secular benefits that now accrue to marriage. If they want the special religious benefits that accrue to marriage, they'll have to get married. The denominations will decide who can marry, and the Officially Godly People can fight that out among themselves and leave the rest of us in peace.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Our Immediate "To Do" List

If you're like me, you're getting one petition after another urging you to tell the new guy what to get done first. Does it surprise you that my immediate "To Do" list for Obama doesn't look like any of the others out there? Here it is:

Watch your back. I've learned that when W makes a big show of doing the right thing,it probably means he's going to do exactly the opposite. (Remember his promise of humility in foreign policy? Of "compassionate conservatism"? His pledge to be "a uniter, not a divider"?) Well. Bush's recent show of instructing his staff to ensure that there's a smooth transition struck a false note with me. It's not like he's got the country's best interests in mind.

That's it. I'm happy to back off and let President-Elect Obama do what he's doing right now; I voted for him because I trust his judgment.

However, I do have an immediate "To Do" list for us--for you and me and everyone who wants to get this country back together. Here goes:

1. Put the limelight and the pressure on the White House to stop the avalanche of last-minute executive orders and regulations that are designed to advantage Bush and Cheney's wealthy Republican buddies and to thwart the agenda of the newly elected President.

2. Vow right now not to let relatively minor disappointments in policy or immediate priorities cause us to splinter. We can best help Obama by giving him a powerful, united public base for doing the work he needs to do. He'd going to be more centrist than some of us hope, but just remember that whatever he does will be a vast improvement over the Republican alternative. Keep that in mind. There will be time in his second term for a swing to the Left.

3. Try to reach across the aisle. We have to help Obama heal the division. If we fail to do that, he and his family will be at even greater personal risk, and his ability to govern will be hampered by even more obstructionism and hatred. We can't turn his bitterest enemies into friends, but more moderate Republicans can be embraced if they wish to be.

4. Continue the work of Civil Rights. Gay and Lesbian Americans were just told by three states in no uncertain terms that we are to be second-class citizens. It wasn't just African Americans, and it wasn't just Mormons. To their eternal shame, ninety-nine percent of local mosques, synagogues and mainline churches were either silent (complicit)or concurred with 100 percent of fundamentalist and evangelical churches that separate and unequal is good enough for us. They said that "certain inalienable rights" -- including "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness" -- don't apply to us.

Well, guess what? They apply to us. They also apply to immigrants and to women and to transgendered people, and to every other human being on this planet. Just as we believed in the sixties, we believe now that those rights weren't awarded by nationality or gender or sexual orientation. They are universal and they are inalienable. Let's remind our fellow citizens of that fact by every peaceful means necessary, and be even more determined to seize that birthright wherever it's in question.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

President-Elect Barack Obama

"Fourscore and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal." Abraham Lincoln

Tuesday, November 4, 2008


If ever there were a graphic illustration of the difference between hope and hatred, it is the photographs of the crowds attending Obama and McCain.

I am so proud of Barack Obama. He calls out all the best in me. I may not always agree with him, but I will never forget this night because America finally entered the Promised Land that Martin Luther King, Jr., pinned on the horizon for all of us to see.

To see this man tonight calling us all to step forward, to transcend race, gender, sexual orientation, fear, and paranoia is to take a giant step toward that Promised Land.

My heart is especially full tonight for America's African Americans. Now the least are the greatest among us. And that, my friends, is the unique promise of a great, great nation.

God bless America, and God bless this planet of which we are but a small part. This victory is for us all.


At 9:00 PM on November 4, 2008, CNN projected Obama to be the next President of the United States of America.

History is made, and the soul of America is changed forever.

God Bless America!!!!

President Barack Obama!

This election reaches all the way from 1960 to 2060 at least.

This is choosing Life, Liberty, Equality, and Justice for All.

This is the vindication of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the entire Liberal movement for social justice for African Americans--and by extension, women, all people of color, and GLBT people; the coming of age, at last, of an adolescent USA; a magnificent affirmation of the strength of our US democracy; an affirmation of the capacity of average Americans to know and affirm real character when they see it, and to right the country's course when it is vital to do so; and a total repudiation of everything that the GOP has stood for since Nixon was first sworn in.

Now it is our sacred and solemn duty to lead wisely and with justice, and to cement the coalition that Obama has called into being.

For now, CELEBRATE!!!

S'Obama! S'Gotta Be!

The champagne is chilling in the fridge in affirmation before the results, and for celebration afterward! It's looking good. See the count at the top of the left column.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Change We Need. Change We Can Believe In

It all seems perfectly clear to me.

We need jobs, the economy needs stimulus in the form of flowing dollars, and we have a global warming and closely related energy crisis to address immediately. If we can create a national renewable energy development program, we create jobs that provide cash flow, and we begin to address global warming and our dependence on foreign oil.

Fortunatey, it seems clear to Obama, as well. That, alone, is reason to reject his Neanderthal alternative.

If federal investment in renewable energy is "socialism," bring it on, baby. It's no more and no less "socialism" than federal investment in investment banking. The difference is that federal investment in renewable energy builds jobs. Therefore, it builds the economy from the bottom up. From the foundation. Federal investment in investment banking doesn't build anything. It creates, Pavlov style, a foolhardy Wall Street ever confident of a bailout. It attempts to build the house from the roof down. That, uh, doesn't work.

The infrastructure is worn out. We need money to fix it. Creating projects to re-build infrastructure at least gets us infrastructure for our money. Pouring money into investment firms doesn't even get us shares. Bring on federal investment in infrastructure renovation. The alternative is to contract out infrastructure innovation to the private sector. This accomplishes enormous wealth for a few, in the form of ownership of infrastructure and tolls for its use from the rest of us. If we're worried about redirecting wealth, I'd far rather redirect it to public ownership than to private oligarchies.

That money -- for healthcare and for infrastructure and college education for the next generations -- has to come from somewhere. It won't be coming from our 401(k)s anytime soon, thanks to Republican economic policy. It has to come from the federal government. This, by the way, is just another variety of "trickle down." Federal dollars are our dollars. Their investment in our collective wellbeing is hardly redistribution of wealth. It's OUR money to start with.

Let's get it out of Iraq so that we and our soldiers can get on with living, and with real priorities. Let's elect Barack and start a new era. Vote tomorrow if you haven't already. No matter how long it takes, vote. It's the most important election of your life.

Just DO IT

If you haven't already voted, get up early, get to the polls, and VOTE for Obama.