Sunday, November 23, 2008

Defend Equality - Love Unites

Love this. Created by Shepard Fairey.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Star Trek Trailer

I grew up with the original Star Trek TV show, which I have fond memories of. The Tribbles! But I've never been interested in any of the subsequent Star Trek movies or shows. (I may have seen a movie in the 70's, not sure.) Until now. J.J. Abrams is directing a re-make, set to come out in May 2009. Abrams was the creator of Alias, Lost, and Fringe, among other TV shows. Somehow, this version looks a lot more compelling than any of the other millions of Star Trek entertainment products that have come out since the 60's.

Either that or I'm morphing into a middle-aged scifi geek (see sidebar about Torchwood obsession and TV shows I'm watching which include Dr. Who, Fringe and Stargate Atlantis).

Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince Trailer

Just for fun. Brand new.

Superficial Me/ Hillary Clinton

Why do I start losing interest in politics as soon as the election is over? My eyes are starting to glaze over when I look at the political headlines. Apparently I'm one of those superficial people only interested in the horse race. Sigh.

Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State. Well, this is very interesting. Somehow I hadn't anticipated Obama would appoint her to his cabinet. And in such an important position! I guess we all have to hope flying into Yugoslavia under non-existent gunfire was adequate preparation. Thomas Friedman had an interesting column about how the best secretaries of state had very close relationships with the president they served, such that other countries would know that whatever the Secretary of State said was the president's position, that the SoS had the president's full backing. He wondered whether Obama and Hillary Clinton could have such a relationship. Madam Secretary?, November 18, 2008. I guess we'll find out.

French Women Don't Put 7 week Olds in Day Care

Yet another article about the wonders of French maternity benefits. The United States provides few maternity benefits compared to other developed nations. The only thing our government provides is 12 weeks off of work. No salary. The law guarantees that you will have a job to return to, but it doesn't have to be the same one you had. It's supposed to be comparable, but that seems like something businesses could fudge and would be hard to enforce. What this means in practice is that many mothers have to go back to work as soon as medically possible, which means six weeks after birth. This results in 7 week old babies in day care, which I witnessed when my son was briefly in day care as a (much older) baby. This is just wrong. A baby that young shouldn't be separated from its mother. Many developed countries give maternity benefits up to a year or more after the birth! Some pediatricians recommend that a baby be with its mother full time for at least a year. Preferably nursing. Returning to work quickly also makes it more difficult to continue breast feeding and reduces the mother's incentive to begin breastfeeding at all.

French people strongly support the extensive maternity benefits provided by the French government. These benefits are phenomenal compared to the United States: "Taken together, a mother of two calculated, the various programs of financial support can rise to more than $800 a month, plus the value of the public schooling for babies [available for free at age 3]. A more recent measure has made it possible for mothers of three children to take off up to three years while receiving about $600 a month, in addition to the usual child-support payments." (emphasis added)

We can't even get guaranteed paid maternity benefits for a measly three months in this country. This is really one of my pet peeves. This is because of the power of business over our government. If business doesn't want it, it's unlikely to happen. (another pet peeve)

With Each French Birth, A Dividend from the State


Fla. Teen Commits Suicide with Live Web Audience, A.P.
"A college student committed suicide by taking a drug overdose in front of a live webcam as some computer users egged him on, others tried to talk him out of it, and another messaged OMG in horror when it became clear it was no joke. Some watchers contacted the Web site to notify police, but by the time officers entered Abraham Biggs' home — a scene also captured on the Internet — it was too late...
As police entered the room, the audience's reaction was filled with Internet shorthand: "OMFG," one wrote, meaning "Oh, my God." Others, either not knowing what they were seeing, or not caring, wrote "lol," which means "laughing out loud," and "hahahah."

Friday, November 21, 2008

Funny quote from Stephen Colbert

"From now on, if a gay person in California wants to get hitched, they will do it the way God wants: to Liza Minnelli."
Liza Minnelli famously married and divorced two gay men.

50 Sexiest Movies Ever: are any gay?

Entertainment Weekly (EW) this week has lists of "The 50 Sexiest Movies Ever" and "25 Sexiest TV Shows on DVD". Do any of their choices have gay content? Let's see. Of the movies, I've seen 30 out of the 50. (Warning: lots of photos here.)

- #7 "Y Tu Mama Tambien": I still haven't seen this, but it's on my list. EW describes the sexiest moment: "A drunken boisterous celebration escalates into a sensuous threeway. As Mercado (a woman) heads south of the border, the guys unexpectedly - and passionately- kiss." Score!
Flixster - Share Movies

- #20 "Mulholland Drive": another one I never got around to seeing. Sexiest moment: "Sweet Betty (Naomi Watts) invites amnesiac Rita (Laura Elena Harring) to cuddle, and their good-night peck leads to more. Betty whispers, "Have you ever done this before?"".
Flixster - Share Movies

- #29 "Bound" - OK, I did see this one! Sexiest moment: "[Jennifer] Tilly shows [ex-con handywoman Gina] Gershon that she, too, is extremely useful with her hands."
Flixster - Share Movies

- #30 "Maurice"; I'm not sure I would have included this one. (I actually own the DVD of this one.) I previously described Maurice's relationship with Clive, played by Hugh Grant, as bloodless. Clive is very repressed and refuses to do almost anything. Sexiest moment (according to EW): "Alone in the dorms, Maurice and Clive stroke each other's hair before nuzzling into their first embrace." That's pretty much all they do. Maurice's involvement with a hot gamekeeper (yes! a gamekeeper! those English) is much more satisfying on that score.

Flixster - Share Movies

- #39 "The Talented Mr. Ripley"; I did see this, and I loved it. Starred Jude Law and Matt Damon. Sexiest Moment: "...when Tom (Damon) and Tom (Law) play a simple game of chess - over a bathtub, with Law naked inside - every move is an advance and a rebuff. Nothing that steamy ever ends well."
Flixster - Share Movies

- #47 "Kissing Jessica Stein": I saw this one too, but I wouldn't include it on this list. Interesting, but not great. I'd give it a B. Sexiest Moment: "Hoping to get lucky, two lunkheads approach the ladies at a restaurant and proceed to extol the virtues of girl-on-girl action - all while Helen secretly fondles Jessica's thigh under the table." Umm, I don't even remember that, that's how much of an impression it made. I think part of the problem was Jessica really didn't give off any lesbian vibe at all and the whole relationship seemed forced and awkward. Just look at this picture.
Flixster - Share Movies

- #49 "Yossi & Jagger": Haven't heard of this one before. Now I want to see it. Israeli soldiers in a "less tormented version of Brokeback Mountain's Jack and Ennis". Sexiest Moment: "The guys go at it, fully clothed, on a snowy hillside. Because we see mostly close-ups of their faces as they make out, joke, and laugh, what's sexy is their sweet delight in one another."
Flixster - Share Movies

- (arguably) #50 "300": no gay content described, but the aesthetics lean that way.
Flixster - Share Movies

So there's quite a few movies with gay content on their list!

Now, what about the TV shows? They have fewer here. Conspicuously missing: "Queer as Folk".

- "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" (Willow/Tara)
- "Six Feet Under" (David/Keith)

- "The L Word" (naturally)

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Real Women Eat Fries

McDonald's recruits real moms to convince other moms that fast food is OK. There's nutrition in french fries! Really! They're full of potassium! This is almost a direct quote from this article. Moms volunteer to go behind the scenes to see how McDonald's produces its food and report back on a McDonald's website. The company is betting on recent evidence that the public believes "people like themselves" more than experts or journalists. (Apparently the same sentiment that revved up red-meat Republicans at Sarah Palin rallies.) Among the amazing discoveries the women made: Egg McMuffins contain actual eggs! Salads are bagged by plastic-gloved hands! "McDonald's is gambling that even if the moms say negative things -- one said the food contains too much sodium -- the company will win points for transparency." Too much sodium? Naah, I don't believe it.

McDonald's Courts Moms as Fast Food Emissaries

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Consequences of Gay Marriage

(snagged from gypsylady at livejournal)

This is what change means

In Surprise Speech, Obama Promises Global Leadership On Climate Change (includes video of speech)

What a relief to have a president who recognizes the dangers of global warming and is willing to do something about it.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Proposed "Provider Conscience" Regulation Endangers Access to Medical Care

The Bush Administration is attempting to pass into law a regulation that allows health care workers to refuse to provide any service that they object to on moral or religious grounds. Protests Over a Rule to Protect Health Providers, New York Times, November 18, 2008. According to the New York Times, a "torrent" of objections has been raised, including one from two commissioners of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the federal agency with jurisdiction over employment discrimination claims. There are several problems with the proposed regulation. One is that it is redundant. Current federal law already protects employees from discrimination on the basis of religion. Employers must make reasonable accommodation to religious beliefs. There is a long-standing body of law on this point that could be contradicted by the proposed regulation, throwing the law in this area into chaos. The following quote succinctly describes some of the other problems:

From NOW (Nat'l Organization for Women) letter to Michael Leavitt, Sec'y of Health & Human Services, concerning proposed regulation:
The reason advanced for the proposed regulation is redundant. Current federal conscience clauses already protect medical professionals who refuse to provide treatment and services based on their religious objections. The proposed regulation is vague. It omits any definition of abortion entirely, thereby inviting providers to use personal interpretation and political views (including the view that birth control and contraceptives are the same as abortion) when determining women's access to medical care, family planning and contraceptives. The proposed regulation is hostile. It has no regard for women's autonomous ability to make fundamental decisions about their healthcare and family formation and allows the views of health care providers to trump the religious, moral and ethical decisions that their female clients and patients have made.

The proposed regulation is harmful. It undermines health care workers' ability to offer the very services for which they are funded and it will discourage doctors and health care clinics from providing the full range of legal, medically-necessary reproductive health services for fear of losing federal funds.

The proposed regulation is also of particular concern to gays and lesbians, who could easily be denied health care based on the provider's "moral or religious beliefs". This has certainly happened to lesbians seeking artificial insemination, among other things. Critics: Proposed 'Provider Conscience' Regulation Threatens Public Health, The Advocate, Sept. 27, 2008.

This article describes some other situations in which almost anyone might be denied appropriate health care under the proposed regulation.
Proposed federal 'Provider Conscience' Rule dangerous

Obama is opposed to the regulation and has said that he will rescind it if it becomes law. That will take three to six months, however. (NY Times)

Monday, November 17, 2008

Clever clues from crabbyanne

1. Never bring homemade muffins for a preschool snack. Especially if they have extraneous weird substances like blueberries. Stick with the easy, cheap Goldfish crackers and raisins, which were way more popular than those homemade muffins, even after careful refinement to find the kind most kids would eat. (Mini buttermilk spice muffins with NO fruit, nuts or other crazy lumpy additions, if you want to know.)

2. Don't waste time hand-sewing felt circles on your child's cat costume to make it look like your actual cat, Jasper, when it will be covered up by a sweater and coat because it's too cold. The important cat signifiers are ears and tail. Not carefully sewn on felt circles that no one can see. Particularly when your child tears off her costume in a mysterious frenzy to be naked in the living room, in the middle of the day, for no reason, causing aforementioned carefully sewn felt circles to rip off.

3. Don't buy Safeway's new store-brand "green" dishwasher soap. It leaves a greasy film on kid's plastic cups, requiring them to be handwashed after being washed in the dishwasher. Yucky.

4. Fall: leaves, pumpkins, Halloween, cider. And every weekend ruined because at least one person in our family has been sick or traveling. Fun times!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Condoleeza Rice Spruces Up for Private Life?

(By Jason Decrow -- Associated Press)

Whoa! What happened to Condoleeza Rice? She's quite the glamour puss here. Love the hair, love the biceps, baby. Wow, this woman looks fantastic. She must be looking forward to getting out of the Bush Administration. My partner said, "Now she can come out." LOL And then I said, "Yeah, she can hook up with Wanda Sykes". Hard to believe the woman is 54.

She's accepting an award from Glamour Magazine.
"Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice was honored in part for persuading the United Nations to recognize rape as a weapon of war. Rice accepted her award wearing a chocolate brown and gold sleeveless gown that revealed the payoff of her disciplined workout regimen: those arms, those biceps, those impressive 54-year-old guns flexing as she stood onstage holding her award!

Her hair, twisted into an updo, was as spectacularly shiny as shampoo commercial tresses. Frankly, she might have been glowing -- in an "I'm going back to Cali" sort of way."

Glamourous Achievement: A Definite Do, by Robin Givhan, Washington Post, November 16, 2008

I didn't know she'd helped convince the UN to recognize rape as a weapon of war. Nice work, Condie. (And I thought she'd cut her hair short, but apparently not. I think she should. Especially if she's going to snag Wanda.)

Bond, Gay Bond

This seems germane to my previous post about Daniel Craig's speculation that James Bond could some day have a gay love scene, and that it's a great idea. New James Bond. (Daniel Craig has played James Bond in the last two movies.)

TV John: I want to be the next 007, The Sun, November 15, 2008.

Here's the brief text:

"Gay actor John Barrowman yesterday revealed he wants to take over from Daniel Craig as the next James Bond.
The Torchwood star, 41, auditioned for the role before Pierce Brosnan became the womanising spy in 1994 — but was told he was too young.
John said: “They really liked me but said to come back in 20 years.
“Maybe in a few years time...who knows?”
When asked on radio if he would play 007, he said: “Bring it on baby.”
But one Bond nut, Andy Lloyd, said Barrowman, who married his gay lover two years ago, was “not macho enough”."

I'd like to know if Andy Lloyd has seen Torchwood, in which Barrowman seems plenty macho. If Barrowman can't play Bond, maybe he could play Daniel Craig's gay lover. But that would probably melt the screen.

Hit Me With Your Rhythm Stick: Testosterone Rules Sunday Daytime TV

(enough with the Ian Dury references, which you probably don't get unless you're old enough to have listened to pop music in the early 80's)

We Watch So You Don't Have To: Sunday edition

I drive past four churches this morning, parking lots packed, to reach my chosen place of worship, Gold's Gym. As usual, I take up my position in front of the eight TV screens hovering in space above the ranks of cardio machines. Sunday's a bit different from weekday mornings. Not a spatula or makeup tool in sight. No weight loss stories, no relationship advice. No cute young guys, unless they're football players. What do we have instead? Football on three screens, Meet the Press on another (Katty Kay of the BBC - I love her! That's her in the photo), Fox News, CNN and local programming featuring "Export Licensing: Procedures" (suitable for Washington, D.C., city of nerds). In other words, testosterone rules. The women must all be at church.

Fox News has a new tag line. As we all know, it was formerly "Fair and Balanced", but was hardly that. Now it's "America's News HQ". It seems more than a little suspicious that it has a new tag line right when Obama wins the election. Was "Fair and Balanced" sullied by too close an association with Republicans now on the downswing? (BTW, the Fox News website sucks big time. Time for some re-tooling, I think.)

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Wanda Sykes

Wanda Sykes comes out as a result of Prop 8 Interesting fallout from Prop 8. I made the mistake of looking at the comments to this article on Yahoo!News. They were filled with virulently homophobic religious people ranting about how their "rights" were taken away by the CA judges that declared it was unconstitutional to deny gay people the right to marry. Among other hateful things. Really awful and depressing. I posted a comment asking them if they'd like to come to my house and tell my children their parents are going to hell because God doesn't approve of our relationship. Now I have a really bad taste in my mouth - ugh.

Daytime TV update

More Booty Pop Panties! The Today Show featured them again on Friday! Incredible. This time they had footage from the Jay Leno show with the caption Jay is obsessed with Booty Pop Panties. Booty Pop Panties' publicist is certainly earning their money.

Fox News: what a difference 10 days makes. Headline on ticker of Fox News: Is Barack Obama making it cool to be an American again? I thought he was a terrorist-friending wealth-distributing Muslim socialist. Now he's the essence of Americana. Jeez.

Mormons Tipped Balance on Prop 8; Rant about Gay Marriage

The New York Times has a fascinating article today on how Mormons tipped the balance in Prop 8 getting passed. Mormons Tipped Scale in Ban on Gay Marriage. The Mormon church was afraid that Prop 8 would be defeated as the election drew closer. They poured resources into passing it and exhorted church members to get involved. They planned a whole campaign to get it passed, including door-to-door canvassing. What's interesting is that the plan expressly avoided mentioning gay people. Their focus was on being "pro-marriage", not anti-gay.

Their tactics shed some light on their thinking. Apparently they believe that God created marriage, and only between a man and a woman. If a potential voter expressed religious thinking, canvassers were to emphasize this point, and that Prop 8 supports marriage and isn't anti-gay. If potential voters expressed disinterest in the whole issue ("who cares? I'm not gay"), the counter arguments included hypothetical consequences such as churches losing tax-exempt status, or people being sued for their personal opposition to gay marriage, or school children being "taught" to support gay marriage.

Obviously, these arguments have a lot of problems. The one I have a big issue with is the idea that preventing gay people from marrying somehow helps straight people get or stay married. What's the logical causation there? How does one flow from the other? How does it effect straight people at all? It seems irrelevant. They seem to believe that allowing gay people to marry dilutes the potency of marriage for everyone. But that just makes no sense at all. Their argument fails at that point. I think the thing is, they believe God mandates marriage only between men and women. That's a matter of faith. You can't argue about faith. If your position is based on faith, there's just no where to go with that. You also can't convince people who don't share that faith. Unless you rely on irrational fears about gay people, which is exactly what they did. This is where all anti-gay marriage arguments end up.

And that brings me to my other point. They say that prohibiting gay marriage is pro-marriage and not anti-gay. They don't seem to be able to see that it must be anti-gay, by definition. Denying gay people the right to marry is denying a fundamental right that the Constitution guarantees for everyone else. It's akin to saying gay people can't have children. It's separating out gay relationships for separate and unequal treatment. If you believe gay people shouldn't be able to marry, you clearly believe that gay relationships are not equal to straight ones. That's "anti-gay". To deny this is hypocrisy, plain and simple. They're trying to argue that they have no problem with people being gay, as long as they don't try to get married. That is just bullshit.

Another point: if their goal is to support marriage and not be "anti-gay", wouldn't allowing gay people to marry actually support marriage? Our society traditionally sees marriage as the culmination of a romantic relationship, the basis for families, the ultimate expression of love for another person. You'd think that "pro-marriage" people would want more people to get married, not fewer. They're saying, it's fine to be gay, but we're going to deny you what our society says is the ultimate expression of love.

They also argue that their position is "pro-family". This is also utter crap. They don't seem to be aware of or care that gay people have families too. Denying gay people the right to marry is damaging for our children. As it stands, our families are not acknowledged by the law. If we have children, one parent may be unable to have a legal relationship with their own children. For example, in my own family, one parent is the legal parent of our two children, whereas the state in which we live denies the other parent the right to adopt one of the children. That parent is the legal parent to only one of our children. We would have to move to another state in order for that parent to adopt the second child. This kind of situation leaves our relationships vulnerable to hostile family members who might go to court to obtain custody of a child in case of a death or breakup. If we break up, the courts have no laws to apply in determining custody of children or other issues that arise when families break up. Courts have to wing it. We have to try to create a legal regime through powers of attorney, wills, and other kinds of legal contracts that aren't really adequate. Not to mention the problems that are created when one parent moves to another state that may have different laws about gay relationships or parenting. None of this is conducive to creating more secure outcomes for children. If gay people could marry, we would be covered by all the existing laws about adoption, divorce and child custody. Not to mention Social Security and other benefits that accrue to married couples and their children. How is denying gay families these legal protections pro-family? It makes absolutely no sense. Unless you believe that being gay is bad and you wish all gay people would just go away.

More on the argument that allowing gay marriage would mean children would be "taught" gay marriage in school: the basis of this argument is that children must be protected from knowledge of gay people, that being gay is some kind of contagious disease that can't be allowed to sully the innocence of children, that somehow the mere knowledge that there are gay people means children are finding out about sex prematurely. Because we all know that being gay means you're a sex maniac who wants to have sex with children. Aside from these ridiculous stereotypes about gay people, this denies the reality of gay families. Do the Mormons and other anti-gay marriage people think these children need to be protected from their own parents? Our children go to school with children with straight parents. These children meet our children, they meet us, they know that Johnny has two mommies or two daddies. They think nothing of it. Often, they wish they had two mommies! Sounds good to them. The "pro-marriage" people think that gay people all live in the Castro or Chelsea and have no contact with their innocent children. They are wrong. As the saying goes, we are everywhere. And their children aren't going to suddenly turn into sex-mad transvestites as a result. It all comes down to fear of gay people. (And I have ideas about why that is, but that will be delved into another time.)

Here's one of the ads that tried to scare people about gay marriage being "taught" in schools:

Here's another one that lays out all their arguments:

Friday, November 14, 2008

Funny cat pic

funny pictures of cats with captions
more animals

More of the ghey

Tomorrow, November 15, there will be protests nationwide at 1:30 EST against the passage of Prop 8 in California. Join the Impact. I hope this gets media attention. I won't be able to go to the one closest to me, unfortunately.

Also, here's a good video that reminds us of all the excellent reasons to protest:

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Women Pay Much More for Independent Health Insurance

Women often pay up to 50% more than men for independent health insurance not offered by employers. Women Buying Health Policies Pay a Penalty, New York Times, October 29, 2008. I find this appalling. It simply seems wrong. Insurance companies naturally cite actuarial realities to justify this disparity. Women give birth, women go to doctors more. Not only is their insurance more costly, it often does not offer maternity coverage. A woman cited in the article was putting off having a child because it would cost her $8,000 out of pocket. In contrast, employers cannot legally charge women higher rates than men for the same insurance. It's considered sex discrimination. Shouldn't the same principle apply in the individual health insurance market? It's not like women get pregnant by themselves usually. Except for lesbians or single women using sperm donors, a man is involved when a woman has a baby. Moreover, there's a public interest in women getting prenatal care and giving birth to healthy babies. If insurance is too expensive, women are less likely to get prenatal care. I like this quote: "Marcia D. Greenberger, co-president of the National Women’s Law Center, an advocacy group that has examined hundreds of individual policies, said: “The wide variation in premiums could not possibly be justified by actuarial principles. We should not tolerate women having to pay more for health insurance, just as we do not tolerate the practice of using race as a factor in setting rates.”"

After this article was published, the New York Times ran an editorial arguing for elimination of gender-based price disparities. Gouging Women on Health Insurance

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

From Pink Triangles to Pink Lollypops

This is a very sad story. Every year on Veteran's Day, there's a ceremony to honor gay veterans at the grave of Leonard Matlovich, an Air Force sergeant who became front page news in 1975 when he came out to his superiors and was ejected from the military as a result. Gay Veterans Gather to Honor Their Own, Washington Post, Nov. 12, 2008. I remember when he was on the cover of Time magazine. Matlovich was not allowed to be buried in a military cemetery, even though he received a Bronze Star and Purple Heart for his combat service in Vietnam. A few gay veterans are buried nearby. This article vividly evokes the scene.

Reasons to be Cheerful, Part 3

Ah, the winds of change. Still reeling over the phrase "President-elect Obama" and here are some of the reasons. The Bush administration has gutted important constitutional provisions such as the Fourth Amendment and instituted torture as an official policy of the U.S. government. Today the Washington Post reports that Director of National Intelligence Mike McConnell and CIA Director Michael V. Hayden expect the Obama administration to give them the boot "because both have publicly supported controversial Bush administration policies on interrogation and telephone surveillance". Top Two Officials in U.S. Intelligence Expect to Lose Jobs. High five!

And more: Guantanamo Closure Called Obama Priority. This article from today's Washington Post says that "Among the thorniest issues [regarding closing Guantanamo] will be how to build effective cases without using evidence obtained by torture, an issue that attorneys for the detainees will almost certainly seek to exploit." Well, duh. Yeah, just a little bit of a problem. Which is one of the reasons why it's not such a good idea to torture people. That's why American citizens are protected by the Fourth Amendment, which protects us against "unreasonable search and seizure," including "seizure" via physical torture. The article goes on to say that "Human rights advocates and some advisers expect the new administration to outlaw torture and enhanced interrogation techniques..." It's really pathetic that this has to be done. I think most people were under the impression until Bush came along that torture was already illegal. I've seen arguments that it has been illegal all along and that no additional legislation is necessary. But perhaps it's more a public relations necessity rather than a legally requirement. A clarification. The article discusses arguments for a special "national security court" rather than referring Guantanamo detainees to regular federal court for criminal prosecution. I suppose this would be different from the military tribunals that Bush already set up, in that it would be civil and not military. But I think any special court is suspect. The article quotes J. Wells Dixon, a staff lawyer at the Center for Constitutional Rights, which represents some detainees. " "What a national security court is designed for is to hide the use of torture and allow the consideration of evidence that is not reliable," he said." That's exactly right.

We Watch So You Don't Have To:
Another in a series of reports from the land of daytime TV

Yet another 45 minutes staring at 8 TV screens at the gym. Here's a useless product taking advantage of women's body image insecurities. The Today Show featured Booty Pop Panties. These are underpants with pads on the butt! Uh, how many women really need this kind of padding? What is the market? Yet in looking for a picture of them, I discovered that they've been featured on several daytime TV talk shows, such as The View, Regis and Kelly, and Rachel Ray. So weird. As is this ad from the Booty Pop company.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Veteran's Day; More on Prop 8

Today is Veteran's Day. There was a lot more traffic in my area today. There are many federal and military employees around here, so that makes sense. I went to the bank, forgetting it would be closed. Duh. If I ever knew that Veteran's Day commemorates the armistice of World War I, I forgot until I heard it on NPR today. How could I not know that? I'm in my 40's and have a history degree. Like I said, I may have known once upon a time, but loss of brain cells due to age or mind-altering substances wiped it out.

More on Prop 8 fallout today: Not surprisingly, lawsuits have been filed challenging the validity of Prop 8. Back to the courts again. Apparently the issue is a procedural one. Did Prop 8 amend or revise the California State Constitution? Legislative action is required to amend the constitution, whereas a proposition may revise it without any legislative action. This is what non-lawyers like to call a legal technicality. But you can see how important it is. According to the Washington Post, 18,000 marriages hang in the balance. Wow. That's a lot. Legality of Same-Sex Marriage Ban Challenged, Washington Post, November 10, 2008.

I'd like to know why Schwarzenegger is all of sudden vehemently pro-gay marriage. According to the Post, he said of Prop 8 opponents:
"They should never give up," he said in an interview on CNN. "They should be on it and on it until they get it done."
Schwarzenegger has been ambivalent on the issue, previously rejecting legislation allowing same-sex marriage and stating that marriage should be between a man and a woman, but he indicated Sunday that he is hopeful that the California Supreme Court will "undo" the measure."

It would've been more helpful if he hadn't rejected that legislation rather than just blabbing about being "on it and on it" now.

This is wonderful, moving, impassioned argument against Prop 8 by Keith Olbermann (thanks to Julie for the link):

Monday, November 10, 2008

Sarah Palin Gets Weirder and Weirder

Palin Blames Bush Policies for GOP Defeat, A.P., November 10, 2008. Ya think? Swift turn-around there.

Brain Dump: Lindsay Lohan, Happy and Gay; Prop 8 Fallout; Rachel Maddow

Brain Dump. Random interesting things. All gay related, it turns out.

I don't know if anyone's been following the Lindsay Lohan and Samantha Ronson saga. Well, not really a saga, more a game of cat and mouse with the media. Lindsay's been slowly working her way round to acknowledging she's in a relationship with Ronson. I find these stories of celebrities coming out of the closet fascinating. Today this tidbit appeared on Yahoo!News: Lindsay Lohan Opens Up About her Relationship with Samantha Ronson. According to an interview in Harper's Bazaar, Lohan acknowledged she's been seeing Ronson "for quite some time," and that most of her family is supportive. The most amusing parts were that "when asked if she had previously "been with a girl" by Harper's, the actress replied, "I don't know, maybe." LOL Must have been before rehab. And this is totally cool:
"Lindsay said she does not consider herself a lesbian, but as for whether she thinks of herself as bisexual, she told the magazine, "maybe." "I don't want to classify myself," she continued. "First of all, you never know what's going to happen -- tomorrow, in a month, a year from now, five years from now. I appreciate people, and it doesn't matter who they are, and I feel blessed to be able to feel comfortable enough with myself that I can say that."
Of course, my prediction is, after she and Ronson break up, she'll be with a man.

Proposition 8 and other Anti-Gay Ballot Initiatives

This is one that requires some more research. These anti-gay ballot initiatives are a quadrennial favorite. Gah, when are they going to quit with this? The California one is the worst because it took away a right that had already been given, twice in the case of San Francisco. The actual text of the new law is: “Only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in CA.” It's only a matter of time, folks. The hodge podge of gay marriage laws in this country is not going to last. You just can't have a couple of states here and there allowing same-sex marriages, a couple of other ones allowing some form of civil union or domestic partnership. As a legal matter, this is not going to work in the long run. That's why every state has laws recognizing traditional marriages performed in other states. It would be a legal nightmare if you didn't. And that's what will happen with same-sex marriages. How many decades it will take, who knows? But eventually it will be legal in every state, and the federal government will have to recognize it and give same-sex couples the same benefits and rights as traditional married couples. And now that more same-sex couples are having children, the complications from the crazy quilt of laws will get even more ridiculous. This is exactly why federal law pre-empts state law in some areas, because it makes no sense to have 50 different versions of laws covering the same topic (e.g. immigration).

Andrew Sullivan, gay conservative yet not-quite-Republican pundit (he supported Obama), has an encouraging entry about Prop 8 here: Prop 8: Chill.

Other interesting things about the fallout from passage of Prop 8 are the number of protests against the Mormon Church and some other churches in Southern California, Mormon Church Draws Protest over Marriage Act, New York Times, November 9, 2008, Prop 8 Protesters Target Mormon Temple in Westwood, Los Angeles Times, November 8, 2008, Thousands in Salt Lake City Protest LDS Stance on Gay Marriage, The Salt Lake Tribune, November 9, 2008 ; the effort to start a boycott of the State of Utah Utah Faces Boycott After Mormon Work for Prop 8, Associated Press, November 7, 2008; and the fact that African-Americans voted overwhelmingly for Prop 8. Gays, Blacks, Divided on Proposition 8: For many African-Americans, it’s not a civil rights issue., Los Angeles Times, November 8, 2008.

The boycott of the State of Utah strikes me as slightly absurd. The State of Utah is not the same as the Mormon church. Not everyone in Utah is a Mormon. Isn't it more likely to hurt random Utah residents rather than the Mormon church? Not sure about that one.

(This blog is ending up being a lot more about gay stuff than I expected, by the way.)

Rachel Maddow

Rachel, Rachel, how do I love thee, let me count the ways. To be honest, I haven't seen that much of her political talk show on MSNBC yet. But it's hard not to love this totally out, sharp as a tack, Rhodes Scholar, lefty-liberal TV and radio personality. She also has a show on Air America. She's gotten a ton of media lately: a profile in New York Magazine The Dr. Maddow Show, November 2, 2008, another profile in The Advocate, The New American Classic, and inclusion in Out magazine's Out 100: The Men and Women Who Made 2008 a Year to Remember, with a total glamour shot that makes her look like a 1940's movie star.

The first time I saw her on TV, before I knew anything about her, I knew she was a lesbian. It's pretty obvious. In the New York magazine article, she says that she always wears grey suits on TV so no one can say anything about what she wears, so discussion about her clothes won't detract from the content of the show. LOL. (so I'll make a comment about her make-up - sorry, Rachel.) They started her off with very pink, pale make-up, which didn't suit her. You can really tell that she isn't someone who normally wears make-up and The Advocate article confirmed that. They seemed to have improved that and the makeup is more subtle now. I'll never forget reading an article in The Washington Post about "the new face" of TV political pundits, where they mentioned several African-American and Latino commentators, and...Rachel Maddow. I thought, well, it must be because she's a lesbian. Nope. Because she's a young woman! They didn't mention the fact that she's a lesbian at all. (she's totally out, that's not the issue). I was shocked. It's fantastic to have an out lesbian have a successful political show on TV, and her sexuality isn't even an issue. (Also see "Ellen" and the defunct "Rosie" for similar.) I predict Rachel Maddow is going to be big for a long time to come.

Mini-plug for one of the objects of my obsession with the TV show Torchwood (see right sidebar), John Barrowman, who's also on the Out 100 list, with a similarly glamourous photo. John Barrowman in bed here, making fangirls and boys happy the world over. And I loved this Victor/Victoria shot of another Out 100 nominee, Diana Nyad, here. The Out photographers rock!

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Hot sauce kitty

Neo says, this food you're giving me just doesn't have the right kick. And when does the craps game begin?

Barack Obollywood video

This is pure brilliance. I wish I'd made it. (Thanks to Paige for the link.)

Saturday, November 8, 2008

News and Notes from Pop Culture Land

Jon and Kate Plus 8

This is a show on TLC about a family with 8 children: 2 twins and sextuplets. It's their top-rated show. What is the appeal? I admit that I’ve never seen it. I would never watch a show in which parents have to deal with the logistics of 8 children. It sounds truly awful to me. There’s something deeply offensive about the whole idea. Are we supposed to be impressed with their fecundity? Do they travel in a school bus? According to Yahoo! TV, in the next episode
“The 10 Gosselins head south to Walt Disney World, a trip that takes more than 15 hours to travel through seven states.” (They live in Pennsylvania.) Why, oh why would I want to watch this? Sounds like a complete nightmare.

Apparently now the family is traveling to Hawaii so the parents can renew their marriage vows. There was a big advertisement for it on the back of Entertainment Weekly this week. Ugh.

TLC Jon & Kate Plus 8 website

Recap of Jon and Kate’s appearance on Oprah in 2/08

Review of the show in Entertainment Weekly

The World Unseen

This movie sounds interesting. Two women in 1950's South Africa become involved.

From the website:
In 1950's South Africa, apartheid is just beginning. Free-spirited Amina has broken all the rules of her own conventional Indian community in South Africa by running a café, a safe haven of laughter, music and home-cooked food; a ‘grey area’ for those who fall outside the strict ‘black and white’ rules of the apartheid-led government.

Café regulars include Amina’s feisty waitress Doris, her gentle ‘Coloured’ business partner Jacob and the sparky White local postmistress Madeleine. Long accustomed to the racial barriers of the country and its new laws, Madeleine and Jacob nevertheless share a budding attraction.

Miriam, on the other hand, is a doting mother to her children and a demure and subservient wife to her chauvinistic, frustrated husband, Omar. Quietly intelligent, Miriam has never assumed that she may have choices in life.

When Miriam meets Amina, their unexpected attraction throws them both off balance. Although Miriam manages to subdue her fascination with unconventional Amina, she finds herself slowly inspired to confront familiar and familial constraints. Shortly after their encounter Miriam moves to an isolated life in the country, but even here apartheid is placing its cruel footprint on society, and these injustices bring the two women together again, cementing the basis of their growing feelings.

Meanwhile Jacob decides to pursue a love affair of his own and he and Madeleine begin a tentative, touching relationship. But the best intentions of both are overcome by practical challenges and indignities of simply spending time together.

Even the fearless Amina, faced with the strength of her feelings and with the reality of Miriam’s situation, starts doubting herself. And Miriam finds herself making some courageous choices that will change her own life forever.

Using the stunning South African landscape and jazz tunes of the time, The World Unseen explores a system that divides white from black and women from men, but one that might just allow an unexpected love to survive

Although it has an interesting premise, the reviews haven't been very good. Hmmm, maybe one to watch on DVD.

Review in The Globe & Mail

Review in The New York Times

Nicholas Hoult Grows Up

Does anyone watch "Skins"? This is a British show, on BBCAmerica in the US, about a group of teenagers. Naturally, it's much more graphic and honest about teenagers' lives than anything on American TV. I quite like it. Nicholas Hoult plays the ringleader of the group in the first two seasons, somewhat of a Lothario, as well as someone willing to experiment with his gay friend (the blond boy in the photo above). Hoult played the boy in "About a Boy", starring Hugh Grant, a cute, enjoyable movie from 2002.

Nicholas Hoult in About A Boy, 2002

Well, Hoult has growed up. *pointing to picture below* Now comes news from, that Hoult will play a "sexually ambiguous" grad student who flirts with a gay professor played by Colin Firth in fashion designer Tom Ford's directorial debut (wtf?), an adaptation of Christopher Isherwood's "A Single Man".ADuralde's blog. Whether Tom Ford turns out to be a good director or not, I don't care, I'll watch.

Now if we could just manipulate time and get an adult Hugh Grant and an adult Nicholas Hoult together at the same time and then meld them in an update of "Maurice" (in which Hugh Grant had a bloodless gay relationship with James Wilby in 1987). That would be interesting.

Obama Win Causes Obsessive Supporters To Realize How Empty Their Lives Are

From The Onion. Too funny. (thanks, Julie, for sending this to me)

Obama Win Causes Obsessive Supporters To Realize How Empty Their Lives Are

Friday, November 7, 2008

New James Bond: Quantum of Solace

This looks good.

And I completely randomly came across this:
Craig wants gay Bond scene
03/12/2006 - 15:40:31

Daniel Craig is urging movie bosses to revolutionise the James Bond franchise by including a gay scene involving the superspy in the follow-up to Casino Royale.

The heart-throb actor has also reportedly told studio chiefs he is prepared to film a full frontal nude scene to please both his male and female admirers.

He says: "Why not? I think in this day and age, fans would have accepted it.

"I mean, look at Doctor Who - that has had gay scenes in it and no one blinks an eye."

Yes, please.
(Dr. Who doesn't actually have "gay scenes" in it, although it does have a random gay, or at least, not so straight, character once in awhile.)

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Family Equality video project

The Family Equality Council is a group that "works to ensure equality for LGBT families by building community, changing hearts and minds, and advancing social justice for all families". I got this e-mail from them today about an interesting project they're doing in light of the anti-gay ballot initiatives that passed across the country on Tuesday.

UPDATE: Did I remember to do this for my family? Of course not.

November 6, 2008

Dear Families and Friends,

Today is a bittersweet moment for the LGBT community, our families and friends. The first presidential candidate to directly address LGBT family issues, Senator Barack Obama, has now become President-Elect Obama. What this means for our families’ health and happiness and the future of our movement for family equality is enormously positive.

But we also bore witness to disappointing losses with the passage of Prop 102, the Arizona marriage ban; Amendment 2, the Florida marriage ban; Act 1, the Arkansas foster and adoption ban; and now, as of today, Prop 8, the initiative to eliminate the right to marry for same-sex couples in California.

These votes hurt our families deeply and impact how we nurture and protect each other. I know right now many of you are angry, frustrated, scared and not knowing what to do. But we have to remain focused on the future, on the needs of our kids and on demanding the dignity and rights our families deserve.

The Family Equality Council has created a number of resources to help you talk about this election and to channel your emotions into forward movement for change.

Starting today, we are asking families and friends across the country to submit photos of themselves holding signs declaring their equality. To find out more about this new campaign, DECLARE YOUR FAMILY EQUAL, visit our website at We're going to create a video next week of the photos you submit and share it with the world so that while everyone is watching, waiting for us to react, they can see how strong, how beautiful, how truly resilient our families are.

The deadline for submitting photos to be included in the video is soon -- Sunday, November 9, 11:59pm EST. We want to create this video and start sharing it with the world as fast as we can. You can submit your photos and more at

With all that has happened in the last few weeks, especially in the last few days, we here at Family Equality Council want you to know that our mission has not changed and our determination to ensure equality for LGBT families is only strengthened by these setbacks.

Let's put all our emotions to work creating the world our children deserve.


Jennifer Chrisler
Executive Director
Family Equality Council

Post-Election Ramblings

It’s over. I can’t believe it. Eight years. Eight years of having all of my beliefs thrown in my face by George Bush. Eight years of “faith-based” initiatives, a completely irrational war against a country that was never a threat to us, the steady chipping away at constitutional rights, the expansion of a far-right judiciary, crony-run government, rampant anti-intellectualism, you name it.

Words can’t even express how relieved I am. When I hear the words “President-elect Obama,” I still can’t believe it. Somehow I wouldn’t allow myself to believe it could actually happen. After the hideous disappointments of 2000 and 2004, a part of me still refused to believe a Democrat could actually win. Gore should have won in 2000, but he lost due to his own missteps and the Supreme Court (it shouldn’t have come down to a few hundred votes in Florida to begin with). Kerry should have won in 2004 since Bush was a disaster, and Kerry was perfectly presentable. But somehow he let the Republicans Swift-boat our chance away. If a Democrat couldn’t win this year, when could they? If they’d lost, they should’ve just packed up and disbanded.

I almost feel sorry for McCain. He picked the worst year for a Republican to run for president. But he couldn’t wait, could he? He’ll be too old in four years. There wasn’t that much talk about his age, really, but I noticed the only demographic to vote overwhelmingly for McCain was the over-65 group. (I’m sure Obama’s race was a factor there also.) I personally thought that McCain was too old. Another fact about McCain that I never saw mentioned was his height. He’s only 5’ 7”! He’s the same height as me! Do short people ever win the presidency? I think I read an article once that said the taller candidate always wins. This makes sense, because a taller person just looks more presidential, commands more authority. It’s just human nature. In the debates, Obama looked much more presidential than McCain. McCain mainly seemed old and cranky, not to mention disrespectful of Obama, who was never less than courteous.

Obama's got this

Funny cats

Sorry, but this is funny, plus the big orange cat looks like mine.

funny pictures of cats with captions
more animals

Wednesday, November 5, 2008


AP – President-elect Barack Obama smiles as he gives his acceptance speech at Grant Park in Chicago Tuesday …

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

I Voted

I voted at approximately 1:15 pm at Fort Hunt Elementary School in Alexandria, VA. No lines! You could choose to vote on a paper ballot or on a machine. I chose a paper ballot because I don't trust the machines. There was only one thing to vote on other than President, Senator and Congressperson, something to give the parks more money. Yes, fine, who could argue against that? After filling out the ballot, I put it in a scanner, which immediately showed that it had scanned one more ballot. It showed a total of 587 at that time.

One curious thing. The Virginia Board of Elections adopted this policy recently, and it was prominently posted in several spots at my polling place.

The phrase, “it shall be unlawful for any person... to...exhibit... other campaign material”
within the Code of Virginia, § 24.2-604 shall be interpreted as:

No person shall show, display, or exhibit any material, object, item, advertisement, or piece
of apparel, which has the purpose of expressly advocating the election or defeat of a clearly
identified candidate or issue.

Any person who does so shall be asked by the officers to cease from showing, displaying or
exhibiting the material, object, item, advertisement, or piece of apparel, or to remove or
cover it until they leave the prohibited area and polling place.

Nothing in this policy shall prohibit any person from bringing but not exhibiting any
campaign material within 40 feet of any entrance of any polling place.

It seems to me that wearing a T-shirt with a candidate's name on it hardly constitutes electioneering. I think this is probably a First Amendment violation. I know the ACLU of VA asked the State Board not to adopt this policy, but I don't know whether they filed a lawsuit to prevent its passage or enforcement. Maybe more on that later if I find out more. I just wonder why the State Board of Elections took such a hard stance. Who cares if someone's wearing an Obama or McCain T-shirt while they're voting? The party reps standing outside the polling place said people were wearing buttons and no one asked them to take them off. I'm going to find out more about this because I really think this is wrong.

UPDATE: I can't find anything about a lawsuit. The ACLU wrote the State Board of Elections a letter, but that's it, apparently. Here's the letter. The most interesting part of the letter is this:
The law in Virginia is obviously intended to ban electioneering in the polling place, not silent, passive personal political statements,” added Willis [ACLU VA director]. “We believe that the state has nothing to fear by allowing individuals to wear political buttons and t-shirts in polling places, that it is consistent with the constitutional right of free speech to protect such expression and, frankly, that registrars and poll workers have a lot more important things to do on Election Day than to monitor voters’ clothing.”

The ACLU’s letter also points out that the draft policy is likely to cause a great deal of confusion on Election Day because it implies the need to draw distinctions between expression in support of a particular candidate and more generalized political advocacy, a line that is often hard to draw even in court cases. For example, while a “Vote for Obama” or “Vote for McCain” button would clearly be prohibited under the proposed policy, it is unclear whether a pro- or anti-George Bush button or t-shirt with a donkey or elephant symbol on it would be allowed.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Sweeps Month on TV: the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

OK, so the fate of the world rests on the results of tomorrow's election. Let's talk about TV!

I won't be watching these TV shows in November, which allegedly are supposed to attract viewers during sweeps month:

- "Blush: The Search for the Next Great Makeup Artist" (Lifetime)

- "Monarchy: The Royal Family at Work" (PBS). They work?
(A commenter on my LiveJournal page said this: "Yes they do, some of them even have jobs, mostly they have official engagments - dedicate this, open that, vist this, launch this ship, review that regiment, entetrain this head of state and they do charity work, lots of it." It still sounds boring. And PBS seems to think its audience is obsessed with the royals.)

- "WETA's Guide to Christmas" (PBS) A tour of holiday preparations and activities across the D.C. area. Snore.

- "Super-Manny" (ABC) "Supernanny" spinoff. Is that really necessary?

OK, now here are some shows I'd definitely like to watch:

-"Brotherhood" (Showtime) From TV. com: "Brotherhood, a Showtime original series, follows the lives of two brothers in the Providence, Rhode Island Irish-American neighborhood known as “The Hill”. The blue-collar neighborhood has roots in old-world ways of street justice and shady dealings. Tommy Caffee (Jason Clarke) is a family man and local politician who is out to protect the community and its best interests. His world is turned around when his gangster brother Mike (Jason Isaacs) returns to “The Hill” to regain control of the seedy underworld."

This show has already had two seasons that I missed. I'd really like to catch up with it. It sounds vaguely like The Sopranos.

Brotherhood on Showtime

- "24: Redemption" (Fox). 24 hasn't been on TV in so long! This is a 2 hr prequel to the upcoming Season 7. My question is, can 24 redeem itself from its not so great Season 6? Also, it sounds like there will be a completely different set-up for Jack Bauer's relentless intensity. I read somewhere (sorry, can't remember where) that they've jettisoned the Los Angeles CTU (Counter Terrorism Unit), which was the base for all the prior seasons. Hard to imagine 24 without CTU. Does that mean no Chloe, Jack's tech whiz buddy at CTU? She pulled him out of an awful lot of fixes. Or was she actually killed in the last season and I've forgotten because it's been so long? (that's a distinct possibility)

Gay trivia: Cherry Jones, out lesbian primarily known for her Broadway and other theater roles, will play the new American President on 24. I wonder if this is the first time a gay or lesbian actor has played a President? (scurrying off to Google - how would you format that search I wonder?)

Personal trivia: My brother bears more than a passing resemblance to Kiefer Sutherland, who plays Jack Bauer.

From the Fox website: "Filmed on location in Cape Town, South Africa, and Los Angeles, 24: REDEMPTION stars Emmy Award winner Kiefer Sutherland along with new cast members Cherry Jones, Robert Carlyle, Gil Bellows and Academy Award winner Jon Voight. After sacrificing everything for his country, Jack Bauer (Sutherland) is wanted by the U.S. government and now stands to lose the only thing he has left: his freedom. Working as a missionary in Africa, Bauer is called upon to stop a ruthless warlord from drafting innocent children into his murderous militia. First, Bauer must confront his own torturous past and face an impossible decision that will change his life forever. A decision that will set the stage and raise the stakes for Season Seven, which debuts in January 2009."

Did I read that right? Jack's working as a missionary? Yeah, that's plausible. Then again, believability isn't this show's strong suit.

Here's the trailer:

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Obama's Position on Gay Marriage is Disturbing

“If Elected: Hopefuls Differ as They Reject Gay Marriage”, New York Times, Nov. 1, 2008.

I’m a supporter of gay marriage. I have a same-sex partner and children, so the issue directly affects me. I’ve never looked carefully at Barack Obama’s position on gay marriage. I’ve always supported him and knew I would vote for him in the primary and, with luck, the general election. His position on gay marriage was not going to change my mind on that score. However, this article in yesterday’s New York Times gives me pause. The article describes Obama and McCain’s positions on gay marriage and why they hold them. I knew that Obama opposed gay marriage and this didn’t surprise me. I don’t think any candidate for national office could support gay marriage and expect to be elected in this country, sadly. But apparently his reasons for not supporting it are religious and I find that kind of disturbing. I suppose because it seems irrational. And Obama seems supremely rational – that’s one of the things I love about him (after 8 years of irrational floundering in the White House). But you can’t reason with “God”. It’s like passing the buck, particularly for an attorney and former constitutional law professor.

According to the article, “Mr. Obama believes that marriage is a sacred union, a blessing from God, and one that is intended for a man and a woman exclusively”. This just seems very inconsistent with his generally liberal views. I’m a little skeptical that his position is simply politically advantageous rather than sincerely held. I’m not sure what to think about the whole thing. Anyway, if one believes in gay rights, that people shouldn’t be discriminated against because of their sexual orientation, that people should be able to realize the full potential of their lives, including long-term committed relationships and procreation, why does Obama believe that “God” suddenly draw the line at “marriage”? It’s even more strange when you consider that his own parents were personally affected by anti-miscegenation laws that prevented them from marrying in certain states. The article quotes Obama as saying “Look, when my parents got married in 1961, it would have been illegal for them to be married in a number of states in the South...So, obviously, this is something that I understand intimately. It’s something that I care about.” The article goes on to say that, “At that point, [Obama} veered onto legal rights, saying that — both in 1961 and today — it was more important to fight for nondiscrimination laws and employment protections than for marriage.”

Well, in my opinion, that’s fudging it a bit. That issue goes more to tactics rather than being a rationale for not believing in gay marriage. It’s certainly legitimate to argue that now is not the time to fight for gay marriage. But what Obama is saying is that, for him, that time will never come, he doesn’t believe in gay marriage.
Going back to the religious basis for Obama’s position, the article describes an encounter Obama had with a lesbian: “In one of his books, “The Audacity of Hope,” however, Mr. Obama describes a conversation with a lesbian supporter who became upset when he cited his religious views to explain his opposition. “She felt that by bringing religion into the equation, I was suggesting that she, and others like her, were somehow bad people,” he wrote. “I felt bad, and told her so in a return call. As I spoke to her, I was reminded that no matter how much Christians who oppose homosexuality may claim that they hate the sin but love the sinner, such a judgment inflicts pain on good people.”

Well, duh. And I agree. The “hate the sin, love the sinner” argument is utter crap and completely hypocritical. So...Obama, what gives? How does he square this “God” argument with his reasoning mind, or is he just a typically hypocritical politician who actually does support gay marriage, but isn’t about to say that publicly?

And McCain? Who really cares? Hopefully all of his positions will be moot after Tuesday.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Election Call to Action

Another missive from guest blogger, Dr. Carla Seal-Wanner, who's up in New Hampshire getting out the vote, even as we speak:

Red, White, and Black and Blue all over? Not this time…

The psychic bruises McCain and Palin are inflicting on citizens in the path of their campaign march are proof that they will put America last to win this election. By delivering desperate fear-mongering speeches filled with attempts to defame Obama’s character, misrepresent his policies and values, and even incite racial animus; McCain, Palin and their surrogates are destructively exploiting the basest “red and blue” cultural divisions in America. Despite how much is at stake at this moment in our country’s history, they undermine the critical domestic and international concerns that unify us as a nation, by perpetuating the clash of cultures, values and worldviews. Their hate filled campaign rhetoric is insulting to voters who have moved beyond the negative stereotypes used to win elections in the past by pitting Americans against each other.

As a reasonably savvy life-long political activist I did not expect this of John McCain. But, as the McCain-Palin spectacle of hatred and deception has unfolded to reveal the demagogic tone of his campaign, I was reminded of the closing statement in the late David Foster Wallace’s devastatingly insightful Rolling Stone article about John McCain’s failed bid for the presidency in 2000, McCain’s Promise.* Wallace describes the multiple examples of the candidate’s attempts to deceive voters that led him to suspect McCain’s integrity. He concludes by admonishing us to consider if “the man behind the curtain” riding on the Straight Talk Express is not just a very bad wizard but also a very bad man. “Whether he’s (McCain) truly for real now depends less on what is in his heart than what might be in yours. Try to stay awake.”

With less than a week to go before votes are cast for our next president, my eyes are so wide open watching his campaign devolve into partisan win-at-all-cost practices, I may have to have them surgically corrected to resume their normal width after November 4th. Yet, like Dorothy who came to her senses in Oz just in time to realize it was not the ruby slippers she needed to send her home, but simply the recognition that she was manipulated by a wizard that never had her best interest at heart, I think voters across the country are waking up, clicking their heels together and remembering: there is no place like home. Home in America USA, the divisive tactics of the McCain campaign are backfiring.

The lies suggesting that Obama is unpatriotic, dishonest about his religious affiliation, influenced by radical domestic terrorists, embraces socialist economics, and perpetuates voter fraud have resulted in mobilizing thousands of volunteers to join his Campaign for Change. Citizens of all ages and walks of life are on the campaign trail spreading healing salve on the bruises inflicted by these smears. Reaching out to fellow citizens, they implore voters to stay focused on what truly matters – leadership that will bring us unity, peace and prosperity. Their tireless effort is aimed at solidifying votes cast for a president, vice president, senators, congressmen and woman who celebrate our diversity as strength not weakness.

As an educator, mother, and grandmother my nervous system has been in overdrive since the outset of this presidential election. As a fully wired early Obama supporter, I have stayed informed on the issues, joined campaign initiatives to spread his message of HOPE and CHANGE, made donations and participated in fundraising. During the primary, as both the Clinton and Republican campaigns waged Rovian attacks on Obama’s character I ramped up my involvement and contributions. In the general election, since McCain put Palin on his ticket, I worried these efforts to ensure that our country evolves from the damaging economic, domestic and foreign policies of the Bush-era may not be enough. So, I caved in to this anxiety, put work and family demands on hold until after November 4th and went to the battleground state of New Hampshire to campaign for Obama.

This is not an unselfish act. I could not live with myself if I did not do everything possible to elect the leader that America desperately needs to keep us on an evolutionary track. A different outcome could send America back to an unenlightened 20th Century mindset about everything from our foreign policy, equal opportunity and individual rights to the scientific understanding needed to keep our species and planet in good health.

Many share this anxiety. I have met union members, teachers, CEO’s, small business owners, students from high school to graduate school, house wives and house husbands, Democrats and fallen-Republicans who have joined grassroots campaigns across the country. Turns out it is empowering to stand up to deceptive, cynical campaign tactics aimed at tearing American down rather than building it up! Who knew that citizens who have real hopes and dreams for America could accomplish so much? Oh, yeah … community organizers know that!

So, stay awake and make history. Prove that the way to put American first is to demonstrate that HOPE is alive and well in our nation of immigrants. Don’t wait for Toto to pull the curtain back for you or stop to take a nap in a field of poppies. The world is watching to see if America will put America first this time.

*Now published in an unexpurgated book version: McCain’s Promise, Back Bay Books, June, 2008.

Dr. Carla Seal-Wanner, children’s educational media expert, formerly Director of Columbia University’s Graduate Program in Instructional Technology and Media, current Education Director of

How to Talk like a Southerner

This is so true. Although not a native, I've lived in the South for a long time (although I don't think the D.C. suburbs of Northern Virginia really qualify as Southern - but before that I lived in Atlanta for a long time, which come to think of it, a lot of Georgians would argue isn't really Southern either!). In my personal observation, the following is completely accurate. Nothing marks Southern female speech as much as "bless your heart." (Although leave a comment if you disagree.)

Dahlia Lithwick in Slate yesterday Bless Their Hearts: In the battle for a changing Virginia, Democrats may be changing faster than Republicans:

Standing outside the stunning beaux-arts lobby of Richmond's legendary Jefferson Hotel in August, I struck up a conversation with a woman who—noticing my not-from-here accent—offered what she described as the golden rule of talking like a Virginian. In her 50s or 60s, impeccably dressed, and racing to make a dinner reservation at one of the tony restaurants in the city's historic Shockoe Slip, she patiently explained: "If you want to sound like a real Virginian, you just say, 'Bless your heart' after every single sentence. Doesn't matter how mean it is! You just turn to your hairdresser and say, 'I hate this goddamn, stupid haircut, bless your heart,' and you're from Virginia!