Thursday, June 30, 2005

Am I the first to refer to both "George Fwill" and "Jedgar Hoover"?

Google turns up no hits on [fwill jedgar]. Does that really mean that I'm the first person on the web to use those two nicknames together?

George Fwill is really George F. Will, a conservative pundit since pterodactyls roamed the skies and Nixon still frothed about Jews and commies in the Oval Office, currently a columnist for the Washington Post and New Sweek and numerous television programs. He has clearly lost his mind, though, because he refers to Michael Moore and MoveOn.org as "sources of rhetorical extremism" [ABC News This Week, 2005-06-26] — putting them in the same category as extremist leaders who tell their followers to kill all Americans. Mr. Fwill, you demean yourself when you make such a laughable charge. Michael Moore and MoveOn.org are no more "sources of rhetorical extremism" than George F. Will and Newsweek. Sadly, even with that comment, George Fwill is still one of the closest to sane and reasonable among conservative voices.

Jedgar Hoover is the name used by Lily Tomlin in her Ernestine persona to refer to the director of the FBI — until 1972, the only director the Bureau had ever known, Mr. J. Edgar ("Turd Blossom") Hoover. Mr. Jedgar Hoover would routinely wiretap into Ernestine's cord-board.

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I want my LOGO™!

MTV has launched a new basic cable channel called Logo. Its purpose is to give "Gay America a home on television where we can go to see ourselves."

My cable provider is listed as one of the ones that carry it(!), but I can't find it, the cable company's online channel guide doesn't include it, and my TiVo don't know nuthin' 'bout no new channel. I want my Gay MTV! (Duh, as if "Gay MTV" weren't already redundant.)

However, I have the inimitable joy of watching Graham Norton on BBC America.

Without Graham Norton (and Alan Cumming and Jon Stewart and Randi Rhodes), Life Itself wouldn't quite be impossible, but it would certainly be a lot less fun.

But while you're at it, don't stop at just those four. Leave room for Y'all (not yet on iTunes) and the Asylum Street Spankers (iTunes) and Pansy Division (iTunes) and Robert Reich's Reason and Fareed Zakaria! These are things that give me hope for the future of America. These are not coïncidentally things that the radical conservatives can't stand and will ferociously marginalize if they can't ban them outright. That's about the territory I want this blog to inhabit.

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Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Morgan Spurlock's "30 Days" on FX

The FX cable network finally found something besides Cops to fill up its schedule. The promo I saw, quite honestly, didn't do much for me. Morgan Spurlock made his name with Super Size Me, a film about his life-threatening experience spending 30 days eating nothing but McDonald's food. The promo sounded like he was just trying to milk the same concept, but didn't give me any real clue as to what else he could spend 30 days doing that would be worth watching.

Fortunately, Spurlock got a guest spot on The Daily Show last night, giving us a glimpse of the sorts of things he is trying to do with the new show. On tonight's episode, a 33yo white male Christian from West Virginia travels to Dearborn, Michigan (the town with the highest proportion of Moslems in America), and lives as a Moslem for a month, dressing as a Moslem, eating as a Moslem, and even going to mosque to pray as a Moslem. This isn't some gimmicky "reality TV" show where a group of people sharing only their immaturity are thrown together so that the rest of us can laugh at their inanity. Dave, the man from West Virginia, takes his assignment very seriously, wrestling with such questions as whether saying Moslem prayers is a betrayal of his Christian faith. He also experiences first-hand the subtle and not-so-subtle discrimination he faces just because he dresses as a Moslem, even in Dearborn, where 1/3 of the residents are Moslem.

Living for a month with a Moslem family gave Dave only a little taste of the reality of life as a Moslem American, but it was enough to dramatically change his perspective, as well as the perspective of those who watch the show with an open mind.

This is what reality TV should be. Watch it on FX cable channel, Wednesdays at 10pm (Eastern/Pacific).

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Daily Show on hiatus

The Daily Show with Jon Stewart is on hiatus for a few days, because they're moving to a new studio. Thank goodness the Indecision 2004 DVD came out yesterday! Disc 1 focuses on coverage of the Democratic National Convention in late July. Disc 2 focuses on the Republican National Convention in August and September. Disc 3 is bonus material, including samples of all the major correspondents (Stephen Colbert, Rob Corddry, Ed Helms, Samantha Bee, Bob Wiltfong, and even Steve Carell), plus the Continental Skiff Boat Oarsmen for Veracity's exposé of that notorious coward George Washington.

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Warren G. Harding

About a quarter century ago, the good people of Texas elected a state treasurer by the name of Warren G. Harding. Most of them undoubtedly voted for him just because his name sounded familiar, or because of his Democratic party affiliation. He was eventually forced from office by scandal. But who was the more famous Warren G. Harding?

Until January 20, 2001, Warren Gamaliel Harding was the worst President the United States ever had. Elected in 1920, Harding openly admitted that he didn't have the knowledge or the skill to run the nation, so he left that job to his cabinet officials, many of whom were crooks. To the extent that Harding cared at all about politics, he, as good Republican, favored "laissez-faire" economic policies; in other words, the free market should regulate itself without interference from the government. Picked as a "dark horse" candidate despite his lack of distinction in government service, Harding successfully concealed numerous scandals in his past, including drinking and womanizing. The Republican Party was forced to bribe his mistress, Carrie Fulton Phillips, to keep her mouth shut. The Republicans also bribed Harding's brother-in-law, although his only sin was being Catholic — a major problem in trying to win KKK support in the Midwest. Harding's administration was rocked by scandals involving corrupt oil dealings, but Harding himself died before the scandals could reach all the way to the top.

And then, 80 years later, along came George Walker Bush, displacing Harding from the title of Worst American President. Funny, though, how much of the description of Harding fits Bush.

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Fort Bragg in Plain English

El Presidente George Dubya Bush gave a speech last night at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, discussing two marginally related topics: Iraq and the so-called War on Terror. I present here for your consideration a plain-English translation of what Dubya meant to say:

I'm pleased to visit Fort Bragg, "Home of the Airborne and Special Operations Forces." I thank you for your service, your courage, and your sacrifice — but most of all for not having your daddies' friends pull strings to get you a cushy assignment where you were absolutely guaranteed never to see combat, because for anyone except a future President, that would be unpatriotic. Now, to make myself seem patriotic, I'm going to repeatedly mention 9/11, even though it has absolutely nothing to do with Iraq: not a single 9/11 terrorist was from Iraq, trained in Iraq, funded by Iraq, or even given directions to the nearest Wal-Mart by Iraq.

The aim of the terrorists is to remake the Middle East in their own grim image of tyranny and oppression — by toppling governments, by driving us out of the region, and by exporting terror. But we won't let them: we will remake the Middle East in our own grim image of tyranny and oppression — by toppling governments, by driving them out of the region, and by exporting terror. The difference is that we are right because Jesus Christ is on our side, not some stupid Allah guy.

After September the 11th, I made a commitment (that means "really strong double promise") to the American people: This nation will not wait to be attacked again. We will defend our freedom to subjugate other people. We will take the fight to people who had nothing at all to do with attacking us.

Iraq is the latest battlefield in this war, because actually finding Osama bin Laden and the other real terrorists would be, like, totally hard and all. Besides that, I've been itchin' to get that bastard Saddam since way back before I became a dry drunk. General John Vines put it well the other day: "We either deal with terrorism and this extremism when it comes to us, or we create a fertile training ground abroad to create thousands upon thousands of battle-hardened terrorists ready to come attack us as soon as they're done in Iraq." My political strategy of keeping America in a constant state of fear depends upon having a steady supply of new terrorists, and Iraq is the perfect place for us to train those terrorists to come kill Americans.

Our mission in Iraq is clear. We're hunting down a few terrorists, and training far more than we're hunting down. We are creating a source of violence and instability, and laying the foundation for war for our children and grandchildren, except that Christ will probably come back before our grandchildren will be old enough to be cannon fodder.

The work in Iraq is difficult and it is dangerous. Like most Americans, I'm glad that my kids weren't stupid enough to volunteer, and even more glad that I managed to weasel out of serving my country when it was my turn. Is the sacrifice, the violence and bloodshed, worth it? It is worth it, because it's your kids, spouses, and parents who are getting maimed and killed, and it is vital to the future security of my theocratic right-wing junta.

Our military reports that we have killed or captured probably almost 1% of the foreign fighters in Iraq who have come from Saudi Arabia and Syria, Iran, Egypt, Sudan, Yemen, Libya and others. (Probably Albania, too, because I need a pretext to bomb them next.) They are making common cause with true Iraqi patriots who don't want to see the Great Satan impose its own singular vision of democracy. They are succeeding in turning the Middle East into a base for attacks on America and our allies around the world, and every day they are recruiting more new terrorists than we can kill, capture, or deter.

The only way our enemies (Democrats, Libertarians, and even moderate Republicans) can succeed is if we forget the lessons of September the 11th, because there was never a terrorist attack anywhere in the world before it, and we don't really care about any attacks since then, unless they help us ram through our policies without meaningful debate.

Rebuilding a country after three decades of tyranny is hard, and rebuilding while at war is even harder — but far more profitable for Halliburton. Our progress has been uneven. We're improving roads that we blew up, rebuilding schools and health clinics that we blew up, and working to improve basic services like sanitation, electricity, and water, that we disrupted.

In the past year, the international community has stepped forward with minimal assistance. Some 30 nations have a total of at least 40 or 50 troops in Iraq, and many others are contributing token non-military assistance. The stupid United Nations is in Iraq, god damn them, to help Iraqis write a constitution and conduct their next elections. Katherine Harris and J. Kenneth Blackwell will be available to help the Iraqis hold open, free, and fair elections, just like Florida and Ohio.

Some Americans ask me, if completing the mission is so important, why don't you send more troops? Well, first, that would undermine the message of my "Mission Accomplished" banner on that battleship two years ago. Secondly, it would be wildly unpopular at home, and might undermine my efforts to sabotage Social Security and fight the true enemy of America, gay marriage.

Under the régime of Saddam Hussein, the Shia and Kurds were brutally oppressed, and the vast majority of Sunni Arabs were also denied their basic rights, while senior régime officials enjoyed the privileges of unchecked power. The other critical element of our strategy is to learn how my administration can enjoy those privileges of unchecked power. Once we achieve that, we can leave the Iraqis to kill themselves or rebuild or whatever.

The Iraqis have held free elections and established a Transitional National Assembly. The next step is to write a good constitution that enshrines freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, freedom of religion, and equal justice under law — but not gay marriage or flag burning — in permanent law.

In this time of testing, our troops can know: The American people are behind you, as long as it doesn't cost any money. This Fourth of July, I ask you to find a way to thank the men and women defending our freedom — by flying the flag, sending a letter to our troops in the field, or making some other symbolic gesture to hide the fact that we aren't willing to pay for battle armor or health care for our troops. The best way to honor the lives that have been given in this struggle is to cut funding for the Veterans Administration.

After September the 11th, 2001, I told the American people that we would get Saddam one way or another, and nothing else really matters.

— President George Walker Bush, June 28, 2005
So there you have it. We need to fight gay marriage, flag burning, Social Security, and fair taxation, because otherwise the terrorists win. All you schlubs out there need to send your sons and daughters to fight and die, because the cushy lives of rich Republicans are at stake.

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Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Cliff's Notes on my Federal Marriage Amendment

On Saturday, I posted my proposed wording for the Federal Marriage Amendment, designed to protect America from the most dire threats we face today: lesbians with cats and gay men with well-decorated living rooms. I'm a veteran of three years in the YMCA's Youth in Government model legislature program, but I realize that most of my readers probably went glassy-eyed in the first paragraph or two. I thus present you the "plain English" translation of my version of the Federal Marriage Amendment:

  1. "Equal protection of the laws" no longer applies to fags, dykes, or terror suspects.
  2. The Congress was given too many powers, so we're taking away a few; in particular, the power to declare war.
  3. Habeas corpus is a barrier to efficient law enforcement. The Secretary of Homeland Security can suspend it whenever the President's poll numbers dip.
  4. If the President is impeached, he should be able to pardon himself. Also, that "advice and consent of the Senate" stuff is inefficient, so Karl Rove can now appoint all federal judges and sub-cabinet officials.
  5. All those powers we took from Congress in #2, we'll just give them to the President.
  6. A sex scandal is now grounds for impeachment, but treason against the nation in the service of your political party isn't. Also, political expediency is now the only defense against impeachment; otherwise, you're presumed guilty.
  7. Karl Rove can restructure the court system at will. Any court case that is embarrassing to the party in power will be quashed. Treason is whatever we say it is.
  8. Officials of the government will no longer swear loyalty to the Constitution, but rather to the President's agenda. Oh, and only fundamentalist Christians can be in government.
  9. The White House can do whatever it wants, without asking Congress or the courts.
Oh, and for our next Supreme Court nomination, we'll toss a coin between John Bolton and Karl Rove.

Basically, I just wrote down what our government is moving towards. If we're going to do it anyway, we may as well say it openly.

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These nutbags think we could have WON in Vietnam

Golly gosh, if it just hadn't been for all those people saying we had no business being in Vietnam, if it hadn't been for the press showing all those pictures of dead and maimed soldiers and civilians, if we had just had the political will to win, we could've shown those Viet Cong bastards what for! And by golly, we're not going to repeat that mistake. The true lesson of Vietnam is that we need to bomb the gooks, sand niggers, or whoever the hell, into oblivion, because there is no problem that cannot be solved by the suitable application of American military power.

Sounds a bit like the ravings of a street person who forgot to take his meds this year, but no, it's a pretty close paraphrase of Brendan Miniter's article in today's Wall Street Journal.

We can hope that [President Bush in his speech tonight] will mention Vietnam because that metaphor is getting hard to escape. Not because the U.S. is embroiled in a far off, unwinnable war that is somehow compromising the nation's moral character — although convincing us of that is clearly the goal of the critics who never tire of using Abu Ghraib, Gitmo and the Patriot Act to claim the administration is tossing civil rights to the wind. Those were the conclusions drawn by the antiwar left [during Vietnam] and ended up being apt as the pressure caused the U.S. to retreat and betray our allies in Vietnam. ... Rather the Vietnam metaphor is apt today because the U.S. is in a war it can win and is winning, if only those inside the Beltway would stop preferring defeat to victory and disgrace to honor. — Brendan Miniter, June 28, 2005, in the Wall Street Journal, emphasis added
Miniter's delusions are astonishing. The Ho Chi Minh régime was "oppressive," engaging in "continuing human rights abuses." Well, that's true, but the South Vietnamese régime was hardly a poster child for good governance. He goes on to describe the loss of "fewer than 2,000 people [in Iraq] in more than two years" as "an outcome that would have been dismissed as utopian before the invasion." I guess Miniter wasn't listening to Vice President Cheney:
Tim Russert: Do you think the American people are prepared for a long, costly and bloody battle with significant American casualties?

Dick Cheney: I don't think it's likely to unfold that way, Tim, because I really do believe we will be greeted as liberators.

— Vice President Dick Cheney, on
Meet the Press, March 16, 2003
So a war that is still red hot, with daily casualties, is "utopian" compared to being "greeted as liberators"?

America was missing one crucial ingredient to win the Vietnam War: the support of the South Vietnamese people. The one crucial ingredient we are missing today is even marginal contact between the political leaders (Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, etc.) and the reality in Iraq.

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Monday, June 27, 2005

War on Christianity

A lovely quote and comment from The Daily Show, as repeated on This Week.:

The long war on Christianity in America continues today on the floor of the United States House of Representatives. — Rep. John Hostettler (R-Indiana)

Yes, the long war on Christianity. I pray that one day we may live in an America where Christians can worship freely, in broad daylight, openly wearing the symbols of their religion — perhaps around their necks — and, dare I dream it, maybe one day there could even be an openly Christian President, or perhaps 43 of them, consecutively. — Jon Stewart
You tell him, Jewey McJewington!

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L. Patrick Gray, Mark Felt, and Watergate

L. Patrick Gray was on ABC's This Week this week, speaking publicly about Watergate for the first time in over 30 years.

Gray was Mark Felt's boss at the time, the acting director of the FBI, and was forced to resign because of suspicion he might be involved in the Watergate cover-up. When Jedgar Hoover — the only director the FBI had ever had — died in 1972, Nixon appointed Gray as acting director, hoping that Porter Goss Gray would "clean house" at the FBI, meaning that he would purge anyone not loyal to the President.

Indeed, Gray's own record around the Watergate era was quite mixed. Gray admits freely that, on orders from the White House, he destroyed certain papers and turned over other original files to White House operatives without keeping copies. John Ehrlichman told Gray to stop the pursuit of the money trail in an active investigation until certain aspects could be "clarified" by the FBI. Gray pursued the investigation anyway. On June 28, 1972, John Ehrlichman and John Dean asked Pat Gray to destroy an envelope full of documents from Howard Hunt's safe, including false top-secret cables indicating that the Kennedy administration was involved in the assassination of the Vietnamese president [Ngo Dinh Diem]. Gray eventually complied with the request and burned the documents.

Gray says that he was "operating on the presumption of regularity, that those guys [Ehrlichman, Dean, Hunt, etc.] were not trying to sandbag me, and I didn't have for a moment any feeling that they were setting me up." For a Naval officer, especially a submariner, implicit trust in the integrity of other officers is often a matter of life and death; however, for the director of the FBI, investigating a crime with clear connections to the White House — Gray admits that he knew at the time that Hunt was involved in the Watergate burglary — it is unjustifiable.

Certainly Mark Felt had some personal motives for going to the press instead of to his boss with the evidence he had about Watergate — Felt was angry at being passed over for promotion — but, given the things that Gray has admitted, it would have been a breach of his duty for Mark Felt to trust in Pat Gray, even though Gray came forward and gave direct testimony to the Congressional committee, "telling the truth exactly as I saw it and letting the chips fall where they may." There was simply too much at stake to trust in a man who has admitted to even limited tangential collusion with the cover-up. Indeed, the fact that Gray himself says that he did not even suspect that Mark Felt was Deep Throat, shows the gaps in his perception that diminished his ability to do his job.

I don't fault Pat Gray for feeling personally wounded that Mark Felt did not trust him, but, as Gray himself says, "I think [Mark Felt] was treacherous only to me, a man who trusted him." Gray refused all contact with Nixon after Watergate, because "this man [Nixon] had junked not only his own Presidency, but junked the career of so many other people, many of whom had to go to jail."

A key point in remembering Watergate is that it was crucial to remove Nixon from office not simply because of one cover-up of one illegal deed, but because of the dishonest and illegal way that Nixon ran his administration. A key quote from Nixon to Gray:

I got to have a relationship here where you [Gray] go out and do something and deny on a stack of Bibles. — in the Oval Office, February 16, 1973
Although Pat Gray was an honorable man, the very essence of our democracy was at stake, and it would have been irresponsible and unpatriotic for Mark Felt not to have leaked his information to the Washington Post. The United States of America as we know it, could not have withstood the completion of Nixon's Presidency.

Personal loyalty to the President must never override loyalty to the Constitution of the United States. Without that solid foundation, no structure in our government can stand.

[quotes in this article are mostly drawn from the June 26, 2005, episode of ABC's This Week with George Stephanopoulos, used under the Fair Use doctrine.]

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Louie Gohmert has learned nothing from the wars of the 20th Century

I'm watching C-SPAN live right now, and Representative Louie Gohmert (R-Texas) is decrying the U.S. withdrawal from Vietnam as one of America's darkest hours, because the U.S. should have had the political will to fight and win the Vietnam War, by any means necessary. After all, "the end justifies the means" is the unofficial motto of the Communist Republican Party. Gohmert speaks about the tragedy of learning nothing from our experiences of war in the 20th century.

The lesson of Vietnam is that we should never have gone into Vietnam to begin with. It was a Democratic President who lied to get us into that war. The Gulf of Tonkin "incident" was staged as a pretext for expanding American involvement, eventually leading to the deaths of over FIFTY THOUSAND American soldiers, and uncounted Vietnamese men, women, and children, all in an effort to prop up an unpopular, undemocratic government against a genuine movement of the people. Just because we didn't like Ho Chi Minh, doesn't mean that he wasn't the right choice for the people of Vietnam.

The lesson of Iraq is that we went about the process of régime change in a disastrously wrong-headed way, with disastrously inadequate planning and a disastrous lack of contact with the reality of the situation. We certainly should have known that Saddam Hussein could not have had stockpiles of WMDs, because the WMDs have a limited shelf life. Saying that Saddam had massive stockpiles of chemical and biological weapons is about like saying that he had massive stockpiles of milk. Saddam was a bloodthirsty tyrant, but far more Iraqis have died since the invasion than would have died under the status quo ante. Saddam wanted to build weapons and be an aggressive regional bully, but he was in a very small Anglo-American box, unable to realize those ambitions.

Furthermore, our continued military presence continues to inflame the continuing violence of the growing insurgency.

The United States needs to accelerate its withdrawal, as well as the withdrawal of troops from Singapore and Rwanda and even those wily Albanians, from Iraq — not only for the sake of the U.S. troops, but also for the sake of the Iraqi people.

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A Sad Day in the Forty-Hectare Wood

(That's still "the Hundred-Aker Wood" for us Americans.)

Paul Winchell, inventor, actor, ventriloquist, and voice of Tigger in many of the Winnie the Pooh cartoons, died early Friday in his sleep. He was 82.

The most wonderful thing about Tiggers is, they're bouncy, trouncy, flouncy, pouncy, fun, fun, fun, fun, fun!

(Actually, 100 acres is slightly larger than 40 hectares, so I claim the extra 47 square metres [506 square feet] in the name of the Free State of Christiania.)

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Sunday, June 26, 2005

Fareed v. Fwill on Snuffaluffagus

The ever fantabulous Fareeeeeeeed! Zakaria was on the roundtable panel on ABC's This Week with George Snuffleupagus Stephanopoulos facing off against conservative columnist and man of occasional principles George Fwill. Mr. Fwill had to do double back flips to evade the obvious.

I think on Iraq, Secretary Rumsfeld has been Orwellian, not truthful. He has consistently said things were going well when they were not, consistently said we didn't need more troops when we did, then quietly increased the number of troops by 25,000, all the while saying we actually didn't need more troops. I think it's very difficult to make the case that Rumsfeld has been truthful about the war in Iraq. — Fareed Zakaria on This Week, June 26, 2005
However, George Fwill does point out some valuable history, too:
If that fog had not been in the East River after the Battle of Brooklyn in August 1776, our Revolution might have ended two months after the Declaration. If Atlanta had fallen — and this really gets to where the weakness is — if Atlanta had fallen on December 2, 1864, instead of September 2, Lincoln would have lost the 1864 election, President [George B.] McClellan would have sued for peace, the Union would have been dismembered. So these near-run things don't always have to come out the way they did. — George Fwill, June 26, 2005
But then Fwill presses his luck:
In fact, it is the 2008 election in this country that could produce a victory for the insurgency. [George Stephanopoulos: How is that?] By electing a President who says "if elected, I will withdraw." — George Fwill, June 26, 2005
But Fareed, with a nice assist from Martha Raddatz, pulls Fwill back to reality:
I think it will actually happen earlier than that, George. My understanding by people who know more about this than I do, by the end of next year you will get to a point where the Army really is stretched beyond capacity because of the use of reserves. — Fareed Zakaria, June 26, 2005
There's more, but there are naked homosexuals cavorting (behind a privacy fence) in public, so I shall take my leave.

[Spelling of "Snuffleupagus" corrected 2005-07-14, thanks to my brother Bill. Misspelling left unchanged in the title 'cause it's part of the URL. — ed.]

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Welcome, Skippy-philes

kangaroo

skippy the bush kangaroo is working towards its millionth hit! At the rate they're going, skippy will make it to a million before The Third Path hits a thousand, but hey, I have only just begun.
We shall satirize them on the beaches, we shall satirize them in the fields and in the streets, we shall satirize them in the hills; we shall never surrender, and even if, which I do not for a moment believe, this blogosphere or a large part of it were subjugated and starving, then our Empire beyond the web, armed and guarded by gummi worms and caffeinated soft drinks, would carry on the struggle, until, in the Goddess's good time, the New Blogosphere, with all its power and might, steps forth to the rescue and the liberation of the old.
Go on, check out skippy; maybe you could be the millionth hit.

While you're out and about, you've still got a few hours to vote in the AOL/Discovery Channel Greatest American thingie. Please, please, please knock the Gipper out of the top slot!

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SAT Analogy Question

Yeah, I know the SAT eliminated the analogy questions, but I'm one of those weirdos who feels nostalgic about taking not only the SAT but also the GRE.

Me : Racist ::
  1. Racist : Nigger
  2. President Bush : Genderqueer Kinky Queer Pagan Liberal with a History of Political Involvement
  3. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad : President Bush
  4. Jocks : Trogs
  5. all of the above
Take a wild guess, or show your work in the Comments section. There's nothing in the question you can't find easily via the search engine of your choice (verified on Google).

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Saturday, June 25, 2005

Alternate Text of the Federal Marriage Amendment

President Bush has gone on record favoring a "Federal Marriage Amendment," an amendment to the Constitution of the United States to establish forever that a marriage is between one man and one woman, no dykes or fags allowed — unless, of course, you're a total closet case who ruins the life of some innocent young heterosexual, because they're OK as long as they still vote Republican. [For a plain English summary, click here.]

Federal Marriage Amendment

We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure [actually, that should be ensure] domestic transcendence tranquility, provide for the common defense secretary, promote the general welfare state, and secure the blessings of bigotry liberty to ourselves and our posteriors posterity, do ordain and establish this Twenty-Eighth Article of Amendment to the Constitution of the United States,

Section 1. Section 1 of the Fourteenth article of amendment to the Constitution of the United States is amended to read:
Section 1. All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and the state wherein they reside. No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States except fags and dykes; nor shall any state deprive any person except fags and dykes of life, liberty, or the pursuit of happiness property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction except fags, dykes, and "terror suspects" the equal protection of the laws.
Section 2. Article I, Section 8, of the United States Constitution is amended to read:
Section 8. The Congress shall have the power to lay and collect cut taxes, duties, imposts and excises, to pay the incur debts and provide for the common defense contractor and general corporate welfare of the United States; but all duties, imposts, drug laws and excises shall be uniform throughout the United States;

To borrow money on the credit crapshoot of the United States;

To regulate deregulate commerce with foreign nations all them damned fur'ners, and among the several states, and with the Indian tribes;

To promote stifle the progress of science and useful arts;

To constitute tribunals inferior to the Supreme Court;

To define and punish piracies and felonies committed on the high seas anywhere we damned well please, and offenses against the law of nations;

To declare war, grant letters of marque and reprisal, and make rules concerning captures on land and water;

To raise and support armies, but no appropriation of money to that use shall be for a longer shorter term than two years;

et cetera, et cetera

To make all laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into execution enemies of the Ruling Elite the foregoing powers, and all other powers vested by this Constitution in the government of the United States, or in any department or officer thereof.
Section 3. The second paragraph of Article I, Section 9, of the Constitution of the United States is amended to read:
The privilege of the writ of habeas corpus shall not be suspended, unless when in cases of rebellion or invasion or really scary Fatherland Motherland Homeland Security video press releases the public safety political convenience may require it.
Section 4. Article II, Section 2, of the Constitution of the United States is modified as follows:
The President shall ... have power to grant reprieves and pardons for offenses against the United States, except in cases of impeachment.

He shall ... nominate, and by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, shall appoint all kinds of people: but the Congress may by law vest the appointment of such inferior officers, as they think proper, pretty much anybody in the President alone, in the courts of law, or in the heads of departments, or in the deputy chief of staff in charge of policy.
Section 5. Article II, Section 2, is amended to include all powers removed by Section 2 of this amendment from Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution of the United States. [Basically, the President has all the power that the President says the President has. That's so that he can more efficiently check-and-balance himself, instead of needing two other branches of government to do it. Tax cut! I mean, Who wants ice cream!?]

Section 6. Article II, Section 4, of the Constitution of the United States is amended to read:
The President, Vice President and all civil officers of the United States, shall be removed from office on impeachment for, and conviction of, treason, bribery, tawdry sex scandal or other high crimes and misdemeanors unless they're politically expedient treasons, bribes, high crimes, or misdemeanors.
Section 7. Article III of the Constitution of the United States is amended to read:
Section 1. The judicial power of the United States, shall be vested in one Supreme Court, and in such inferior courts as the Congress deputy chief of staff may from time to time ordain and establish. The judges, both of the supreme and inferior courts, shall hold their offices during good behaviour... at the pleasure of the President.

Section 2. The judicial power shall extend to all cases blahblahblah that are not politically inconvenient.

Section 3. Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying war against them, or in adhering to their enemies, giving them aid and comfort getting caught. No person shall be convicted of treason unless on the testimony of two witnesses to the same overt act, or on confession in open court with or without torture.
Section 8. The final paragraph of Article VI of the Constitution of the United States is amended to read:
The Senators and Representatives before mentioned, and the members of the several state legislatures, and all executive and judicial officers, both of the United States and of the several states, shall be bound by oath or affirmation, to support this Constitution the President's agenda; but no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States.
Section 9. The President and the principal officers of the executive departments shall have the authority to enact such regulations as are necessary to effect the provisions of this amendment, with or without the "advice and consent" of anybody.

[Forget Alberto Gonzales! How about John Bolton for Supreme Court? If anybody challenges him, we'll say it's because they're prejudiced against people with ugly mustaches. Or hell, just put Karl Rove right in as Chief Justice. Nope, definitely the time that one party controls the Presidency, the House, the Senate, the Supreme Court, the military, and the media, that's absolutely the right time to remove protections for the rights of minorities — especially by Constitutional amendment.]

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Friday, June 24, 2005

ONE more voice

Dear President Bush,

Because:

  • ONE billion people around the world live on less than ONE dollar a day;
  • The US government spends less than ONE percent on overcoming global AIDS and pverty;
  • Citizens are uniting as ONE across political and religious divides to support action to overcome the emergency of global AIDS and extreme poverty.
At the G8 leaders meeting on July 6th we urge you to:
  • Help the poorest people of the world fight poverty, AIDS and hunger at a cost equal to just ONE percent more of the US budget on a clear timetable;
  • Cancel 100% of the debts owed by the poorest countries;
  • Reform trade rules so poor countries can earn sustainable imcONEs incomes.
We urge you to lead an historic deal with other nations to help Africa and the poorest nations overcome global AIDS and extreme poverty. Together as ONE, we can Make Poverty History this July.

Sincerely,
[Sign the ONE campaign's letter; no financial contribution requested, just your voice.]

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Gay Nazis to Lesbian Feminists

Very short entry tonight, because I'm going right to bed. I have another film in a little under 10 hours.

Today was my crazy day in the Frameline 29 LGBT film festival (read my festival blog), even though it was one shy of the most films in one day. I went from the Castro Theatre to the Roxie Theatre, back to the Castro, then back to the Roxie, for four consecutive films. These sneakers were made for walkin', and that's just what they'll do, they're gonna walk all the way up and down 16th Street over and over again.

The first film I saw today was about gay Nazis. I'm not talking about Republicans or even Baathists, I'm talking about Nazis as in Germans who believe that Hitler was a great leader. There were prominent Nazis in the Third Reich who were widely known at the time to be homosexual, and there are prominent neo-Nazi leaders today who are gay. It boggles the mind.

The last film today was Left Lane, about lesbian feminist atheist socialist slam poet Alix Olson. I felt just a tiny bit more at home with the lesbo feminazi commie Jesus-hater scene than with the gay skinhead neo-Nazi bullshit, but then again, I also picked Alix Olson over a documentary about famous gay male porn star Peter Berlin. I think I made the right choice.

Now my browser seems to have crashed. Oh, goodie. We'll see if this post makes it into the blog tonight....

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Thursday, June 23, 2005

Cartoon Action Heroes

I was busy seeing quite a few movies the last few days before the cinematic marathon known as the Frameline Festival. The last three films I saw in the "outside world" were in the style of comic books, even when done as live-action rather than animation.

I've already written about how I think that George Lucas missed the opportunity to write not just a great science-fiction comic book, but a great science-fiction epic. His bumbling turned what could have been a masterpiece for all time into a highly profitable bit of pulp. I mourn for the Star Wars that could have been.

A few days ago, I went to see The Adventures of Sharkboy and Lavagirl in 3-D, a mix of live-action and animation, with much of the action in 3-D. On one level, it was a simple children's film; indeed, the director's son shares in the writing credits. However, the story has some more sophisticated undercurrents beneath the superficial coolness of 3-D. At its core, the message was, dream something better and then work to make it real. Especially telling was that the title characters' superhero powers were entirely the product of a real child's imagination, and they also mirrored his own insecurities.

Just before the Frameline film festival started, I went to see Batman Begins. I was most impressed by the fact that this movie steered away from the simple cardboard cutout, black-and-white, good-and-evil imagery of so many film productions of comic-book stories. Neither the good guys nor the bad guys had one-dimensional motivations. Of course, it was also a well-made action film.

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Weirdos who want to actually COUNT the votes

I just got my copy of the e-mail newsletter from the Verified Voting Foundation, a.k.a. VerifiedVoting.org. These people are committed to the strange notion that it is somehow important to reliably count the votes in a democracy! What silliness. I mean, next they'll be saying that we should have a government of laws, not of men (not even men and women and transsexuals and genderqueers?). What then? A free press? Innocent until proven guilty? Give me a break.

We should all proudly walk up to the electronic black boxes, cast our American votes for the candidates of our choice, and just trust the party in power to tell us when they lose an election. If you're some kind of fanatic who believes in "democracy" and "freedom," maybe you should just go check out the Verified Voting web site. Democracy and Freedom are fine for Iraq, but we don't want them here in the good old U.S.A.!

My web site does not automatically produce an auditable paper trail (that I know of). Even the hit counter will lie if I tell it to. Goddess bless America!

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Unlikely Sales Prospect

I've been too busy with the film festival to blog much about politics this week, although I have a really great Tavis Smiley on my TiVo, talking about the conviction from a 40yo civil rights case, plus all sorts of other goodies waiting for me. I also caught last night's Daily Show with Bill Moyers as guest, and I've caught enough snippets of the story about the Corporation for Public Broadcasting chair's spying on the show that I'm certain I'll follow up soon, but today's entry is a little closer to home.

I got something in my mail yesterday, an advertisement with a Personal Satisfaction Guarantee that "this new product promises to make you sexually active and alive." Well, that'll be just a bit of a trick, since the solicitation is addressed "Good news for you, Eugene Dickerson." Gene lived in this apartment before I did. The thing is, Gene died in 1994. You will therefore permit me a small measure of skepticism that this herbal male supplement will make Gene "sexually active and alive."

Gene still gets a surprising amount of mail, 10 years after his death. I'm sure he'd be gratified to know that a company that was founded several years after he passed away, wants to hire him to help them in a fast-growing industry. I have no idea if Gene would be qualified for the job — I mean, I know there are minimum-wage jobs where the only requirement is to have a pulse, but even there Gene comes up a bit short. Maybe he could be an employee benefits coördinator at Wal-Mart.

In the mean time, if you want an herbal product guaranteed to raise the dead, just watch your mailbox.

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Monday, June 20, 2005

Penn & Teller Skewer "Self-Help" Workshops

There was a brand new episode of Penn & Teller's Bullshit! on Showtime tonight [links in sidebar], about the ridiculous things people spend money on for grooming, coloring, concealing, removing, or replacing hair. However, I was more interested in the re-run from Season 1 that they ran after the new one. (You can rent the DVD. Look for the Season 1 disc with "Self-Helpless" on it.) That episode was about "self-help" workshops, specifically including some in which participants walk barefoot on hot coals or broken glass, or else break an arrow by placing the point of the arrow against the base of their throat and pressing. [Please do not attempt any of these cheap parlour tricks unless you really know what you're doing. Although they are all fairly easy for most people to accomplish, they are also fairly easy to do incorrectly, possibly causing serious injury. When considering performing these stunts, it's also a good time to reflect on the old saying, "A little knowledge is a dangerous thing."]

The hucksters workshop ringleaders try to pass off their cheap grade school talent show tricks as some kind of magical, mystical, probably Native American because they're so spiritual just because they didn't have gunpowder, whiskey, horses, or a cure for smallpox spiritual breakthrough. Penn & Teller pass them off as nothing more than cheap stunts. Thing is, both sides are right and yet they're both full of bullshit.

The reality is, there are two levels involved in each of these tricks, and the trick only works with both of those levels reaching harmony.

Firewalking Scientifically, as Penn & Teller's real expert David Willey (not only a scientist, but a science teacher) explains, the wood and the dead skin on the bottom of your feet are both pretty lousy conductors of heat, so, as long as you keep moving, you'll be fine. [Again, please do not attempt this stunt without qualified adult supervision.] Psychologically, the participants are presented with an apparently impossible task. Conventional thinking does not provide for nonchalantly walking across a bed of hot coals. Firewalking isn't really impossible, but it plays impossible on TV. The lesson, and the potential for self-help, lies in learning to question the inner voice that says, "No, I can't do that." Sometimes that voice is right, and it's important to honor and respect the inner voice when it is right and true in saying no. I can't really use the power of my mind to make bullets stop in mid-air, no matter how many times I watch The Matrix.

However, what about other things in life where inner doubt holds us back? I could never get that attractive person to like me. I could never have a job where my work is appreciated and valued. I could never have a healthy relationship with my parents because they have so much trouble accepting my homosexuality. I could never make a real difference in other people's lives. Those kinds of messages from the inner voice should be questioned — given a third-degree interrogation, if you will — rather than meekly accepted.

Does that mean that just by your having finally realized that something might be possible, it suddenly becomes easy? No, of course not. Earlier today, I outlined why I believe that it is possible to achieve peace in Palestine/Israel/Pisralestine, but that still leaves you the question of how to actually do it. Just saying that somehow somebody will like me and want to leap into the perfect relationship doesn't make him instantly appear. Just saying that I'm an adult and my parents are adults and 17 years after I came out to them they might somehow suddenly deal with it, doesn't make that happen, either. Just saying that I can clean up my cluttered apartment doesn't make the magic elves perfectly organize everything while I'm asleep. I told a friend of mine who wanted someone to hold his hand while he came down off a 4-day methamphetamine binge that I know full well it's not nearly as simple as "Just say no!," but all the same he's got to figure out a way to stop saying yes. Maybe that's 12-step, or maybe it's preaching the gospel of Ron Popeil's rotisserie oven, or maybe it's quitting cold turkey and not hanging out with the people you used to tweak with, or maybe it's something else entirely. His answer might not match someone else's answer.

Okay, just to finish the list, let me give you quick summaries of the science behind the other two tricks.

Walking on glass Very similar to firewalking. The sharp points of the glass mostly point sideways, and with suitable care and supervision it's reasonably easy to avoid having a single sharp point jab directly into your foot. Additionally, the thick skin on the sole of your foot is fairly difficult to cut.

Breaking an arrow with your throat Your throat has a tough, sturdy tube made of cartilage for your airway. It has evolved not to be obstructed or crushed easily. Again, with suitable care and supervision it's reasonably easy to break a cheap wooden arrow or even bend a long piece of rebar with your throat.

Let me recommend a self-help seminar that I personally found quite transformational. I did a week-long trapeze seminar a few years ago with Peter Gold. The seminar was billed as a "circus workshop," in which trained instructors would teach me how to perform on a trapeze; the self-help interpretation was entirely my own. I'm not exactly acrophobic (extreme fear of heights), but I do clutch the railing when I peer down from a bridge or tall building, even if I'm in an enclosed observation lounge. Leaping off of a half-inch-thick (13mm) polymethyl methacrylate (Plexiglas®) platform 24 feet (7.3m) above a brick floor (with a net and other safety equipment, of course), was not in my previous repertoire, but I broke through the inner voice of doubt and did it and had fun. There's no great mystery to trapeze: you jump off the platform at just the right time, and then perform other moves at just the right time, and then you hope that you're strong enough and nimble enough to push off hard enough and then catch the bar or the other person's arm or whatever. Most of all, you practice until that sense of timing seems innate and the strength and agility are proven. I think that with 20 or 30 years of daily practice I could get good enough to be an understudy to a trapeze artist at a crappy county fair, but that wasn't the point. I didn't go to a seminar to learn how to think about doing something different in my life, I went to a workshop to actually do something different. It's still up to me to take that back to my everyday life.

I also watched a PBS show with "self-help" guru Barbara Sher. She had a remarkable and revolutionary approach: first, figure out what you love to do and what you want to achieve. Then figure out how you can achieve it, probably with lots of help from friends and colleagues and acquaintances. It's far from the only step, but the first step is to have the confidence and determination to pursue your dreams.

To put it in scientific terms, faith in yourself is a necessary but not sufficient ingredient for sustained success.

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Okay, what was the Japanese hosteller saying?

On tonight's Daily Show, Rob Corddry interviewed some foreign visitors in New York City. A young Japanese tourist spoke in Japanese, with Comedy Central's subtitles saying

Americans are so dumb. You can't understand me. I screwed your mother, round-eye. She begged for my c∗∗∗ over and over again. I came for the hatred; I stayed for the ballbags.
As I've said before, boku wa nihon-go hanashi mas sen. I caught "America ... des ka ... New York ... des ka," but not much else.

What did he really say?

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About the Details

There's an American television character (Stan on South Park) who, when told of the details of a situation that does not concern him, says simply, "Don't care, don't care, don't care."

Did his cousin cut off the testicles from your uncle's donkey? Did your great great great great great great great great uncle's next-door neighbor dump kitchen scraps in his 37th cousin's front yard? Did he blow up your sister and then piss on her dead body?

I DO NOT CARE. No one else cares much, either. We just want everyone to be happy and live in a land of rainbows and chocolate waterfalls and candy cane flowers, or at least stop killing people.

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Seriously, how about some peace in the Middle East?

The enmity between Jews and Palestinian-area Arabs goes back farther than the United States can conceive. It goes back to a time when Rome was just beginning to expand, or maybe even farther. The mighty Anglo-American Empire Builders were grunting savages just figuring out what to do with those rusty-looking rocks, and Egypt wasn't the center of all civilization, it was all civilization in almost all it had contact with. Moses was a newbie on this little problem. He missed the first couple of innings of the pennant game.

So it requires just a tiny bit of hubris to propose any sort of solution that will bring peace to the region — in time for the November 2006 U.S. elections. (Let's not forget our priorities, after all: how will peace in the Middle East affect the balance of power in Congress?)

The way I see it, there are two obvious paths available to the Pisralestini people.

1. Continue confronting each other militarily and with guerrillas and terrorists or with terrorists in uniform flying in Army helicopters, or whatever the hell you want to call what the other guy is doing. Let's see — that's worked out how well, over just about any time scale you want to talk about? Last 10 years, definitely the Jews in the lead, but with a heavy toll in injuries and death, and a certain measure of recovery for the Palestinians from their losses of the previous couple of decades. Last hundred years, nobody wins, but lots of people die and get forced from their homes. Last thousand years, Arabs had a strong start (I mean, seriously, do you think that the ability to READ — much less do math — would have survived Europe's "Dark Ages" without some outside help from, oh, I don't know, maybe the ARABS? Sounds like a load of ᡔᢇᢇᡙhit to me.) but hit a wall at about the 40km mark of the marathon race.

Gee, do you think that maybe the fact that we insist on thinking of a marathon as 26 MILES instead of 42,195 mètres could just maybe be at least a symptom of the reason that so many people want to Kill Americans? No? The fact that we're so arrogant wouldn't have anything to do with people loathing us? Doesn't wring any belles?

but I digress....

2. Give up entirely on the idea of a Palestinian Homeland. Also give up entirely on the idea of a Jewish Homeland. They're just not going to happen. Look guys, I'm sorry, but it's been like half a million hours already and you're not done with this little blood feud yet? To put it in terms of the ultimate arbiter of human civilization (and I do not mean civiliSation, thankyouverymuch) American so-called reality TV, YOU'RE FIRED! We're going to abolish Israel and the Palestinian Authority and replace them with a single completely secular nation of Pisralestine, where Jewish and Moslem beliefs, as well as Christian and Zoroastrian and Falun Gong and Seventh-Day Adventist and Mormon and Moonie and wiccan and Satanist and even Southern Baptist beliefs are viewed as equal before the law. Those sites in Jerusalem (or Bethlehem or Nazareth, etc., etc.) that two or more religious traditions regard as sacred, those sites will all be properties of the state, operated by the national parks board, with anybody who wants to do so being allowed to build a chapel near a park that is in one of their holy sites. Special attention must be paid, however, to Christian holy sites, especially holy sites revered by American wacko Christians. Those Christian sites will always be first in line for the park service budget. The Wailing Wall is crumbling from acid rain? Too bad; the Manger needs a new gold-plated toilet handle. The Dome of the Rock is falling apart because a commuter train runs not 10 cm from its walls? Tell it to someone who cares — the flowers at the crucifixion site died in the drought this spring, so we're having cut flowers flown in from Paris every day. That crown of thorns has to be FRESH! And no, we're not going to make the security guard at either site stop eating ham-and-cheese sandwiches, because it's his Jehovah-given right. Face it, Jews and Moslems, you're our bi-atches.

Not only that, but those beekeeper suits and the Abe Lincoln hats with the long beards and the bobbing like a pigeon all the time, those are just illegal, because, like, for real, they're totally, like, gay and all. (Look at the intelligence and wisdom of the current President of the United States and ask yourself if maybe he's going to appoint John Bolton as your new imperial overlord. All the unreality of a Valley Girl with the temper of Mike Tyson! What a great choice for a diplomat.)

Gosh, but this blog is called LincMad's "The Third Path"; what does that mean?

It means that maybe there's another alternative besides those two icky-nasty-ugly choices.

3. Sit down and figure out some way to stop throwing rocks at each other and play nice at recess not just today, but all week. Both of you. You have to figure out something that the Jews will accept as better than fighting and dying, and that the Palestinian Arabs will accept as better than fighting and dying. And you know what, American Jews and non-Palestinian Arabs don't get a vote in this one, the United States doesn't even go near it, you have the peace conference hosted by Tuvalu or Nauru or Kiribati (fully paid for — lock, stock, and barrel; caviar and champagne, or whatever Kosher and/or Halal delicacies you want — by the United States taxpayers, blank check as long as you're making real progress — including a cease fire that will hold as long as it takes for the talks to take root) or whatever other absolutely neutral country has nice beaches. Or you can do it in Siberia in January if you think that would somehow warm relations. I don't care. Just sit somebody down on each side — and that's way more than just two sides, by the way — with the combination of ego, knowledge, wisdom, and humility to commit to resolving this issue. I'm not pretending that it will be easy or nothin', or that loser guy/chick that was your predecessor would've done it already.

But really, I'm an American, goddammit, and I'm bored already with this Middle East conflict. I want to see what's on the other channels.

Oh, and by the way, I think that America should pick something closer to #2, because that's like all the spirit of the intention of the Founding Fathers and all that. But #3 is also my answer to addiction. Kayfine. I'm just annoyed because I don't have time for an episode of Danger Mouse (just out in the US on DVD!!) before I have to run to the theatre for the gay Jewish films. (Yes, in fact I have also gone to gay Palestinian films.) Oh, thank the goddess my TiVo is catching DeGrassi!

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Gov. Schwarzenegger Opposes Electoral Reform

California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has taken a bold stand against electoral reform in California. If he truly had the least interest in such a thing, he would not be putting all of his bets on a ballot initiative. He would be working with the Legislature to at least attempt to create a workable compromise for making the 2012 redistricting process, and all future redistricting, occur in a transparent non-partisan atmosphere of mutual trust on all sides, not trying to ram through a blatantly lopsided Republican plan in an artificial partisan hurry.

It's the same tactic that the pro-automobile, pro-big-oil lobby used to kill Saturday closure in Golden Gate Park. Propositions F and G, the two Saturday closure props that faced off in November 2000 and each failed with a 38+% vote, each contained "poison-pill" provisions to kill the other. For that reason, very few citizens voted "yes-yes." A small number voted "no-no," and large numbers voted either "yes-no" or "no-yes." That was enough to bamboozle Matier and/or Ross into stating falsely that the majority of the people of San Francisco voted against Saturday closure of JFK Drive in Golden Gate Park.

Governor Schwarzenegger's redistricting proposition is nothing but a smokescreen to conceal the fact that he considers our state's democracy to be less important than a game of craps.

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Saturday, June 18, 2005

Sommersturm

I'm deeply immersed in the Frameline 29 International LGBT Film Festival, which is why I'm not blogging here at quite my usual pace. Between a full day of films, with just the occasional break for food, stealing a half-hour to go to the gym so as to have some activity greater than lifting popcorn to my mouth, there's not much time to write about politics.

However, Sommersturm is one of several films in the festival that inspire the same reservoir of passion that drives me to write about politics. For my film review, check my queer film blog.

In a nutshell, the story centers on several high-school students coming to grips with their own sexual feelings and those of their teammates and friends. I was never on a rowing team; it wasn't an option in high school, besides which I was defiantly unathletic, even moreso than today. In college, I felt I had already missed the racing shell (boat), besides which I had other interests, and as you know from this blog, an unrequited love for the sport of skateboarding.

The tremendous resonance in my own life was more around feeling completely unable to admit even to myself that my crushes were all on male classmates. Indeed, when I think of being completely lost in a moment with another person, it's a guy. I've dated girls, I've kissed girls, I've done more than just kiss a girl, but it's the guys into whose eyes I melt. In high school, I lived in 1970's Dull-as-a-Tick's-ass (near Fort Worthless), surrounded by bible-thumping Southern Baptists. The mayor of Dallas faced a recall petition simply for speaking to a gay organization.

Of course, the other political resonance is in something the filmmaker, Marco Kreuzpaintner, said at tonight's screening: why is it that, while Europe and Canada are making major strides forwards in individual freedom, the United States is intent on winding the clock back to 1953? To be fair, the fact that Warner Bros. picked up a German film for international distribution but not for U.S. domestic distribution probably has as much to do with subtitles as with gay content. Still, can you picture an English-language film like this playing at the suburban megaplex?

Life, Liberty...
Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness
San Francisco AIDS Foundation; photo: Warwick May

The United States is supposed to stand for, in the words of one of my favorite posters, "Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness" (from the SF AIDS Foundation). I like that poster not merely for the two scantily clad young men pictured on it, but also for the political message. The "special rights" that queer people are seeking are simply the rights that mainstream society takes for granted.

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Friday, June 17, 2005

Check out my even newer blog!

For the next week and a half, I will be immersed in the Frameline 29 San Francisco International LGBT Film Festival. Since I expect to have a lot to say specifically about fillums that may not be of interest to non-festival junkies, I put that material in its own blog, Film Queen Reviews (QueerFilm.blogspot.com). Enjoy.

If my entries in this blog are a bit less compulsively frequent the next few days, now you know why....

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Uncharitable Awakening

My phone rang at about 9:30 this morning. For most people, that's a reasonably sociable hour, but I'm a night owl. My friends and family know never to call me before noon unless there's a killer asteroid heading not merely for earth, but specifically for San Francisco. So who called me at 9:30 this morning? The American Cancer Society, a charity whose goals I support, but to which I will not link because I'm annoyed that they called me at 9:30 in the morning.

I was tremendously pleased when the federal government finally created the national do-not-call list. Telemarketing calls to my home have trailed off to almost zero. Unfortunately, the do-not-call registry has two explicit exemptions for unsolicited cold calling: political campaigns and charities. The unreasonable reasoning is that somehow their First Amendment right to speak freely trumps my privacy right to not be bothered.

I did cold calling for a political campaign once, and I will never, ever do it again. I will do almost any other support work for a campaign I believe in, but I will not work the phone bank. When I did (back in 1988), several people told me, "If you people don't stop calling me, I'm going to vote for the other guy, just for spite!" I went so far as to re-register to vote without listing my phone number, but they just looked me up in the criss-cross directory. I re-registered to vote listing my phone number as 555-0123 (note: proper fictitious phone numbers in the U.S. must be in the range 555-0100 to 555-0199), but again they found me. What do I have to do to say "DO NOT CALL ME!"?

Let's look, then, at the American Cancer Society, a fine charity that does important work. If they send me a solicitation in my dead-tree mail, I will consider donating. However, I do not make charitable donations over the phone, most especially not on an incoming call. It's not particularly prudent to give your credit card number to anyone whose identity you cannot positively verify.

Commercial telemarketers are required to screen all of their calls against the national do-not-call registry. Politicians and charities are not required to do so, but they could if they choose. So why not choose? Is there really that much money to be made in calling people who have specifically gone out of their way to tell you that they do not want to be called? Personally, I'd be fine with having three separate do-not-call lists, so that those who want to fix the potholes or cure disease can still get those calls without the vacation timeshares in Burkina Faso. But until that happens, I think that responsible charities and political campaigns should voluntarily honor the do-not-call list.

It just makes sense: don't call people who have gone out of their way to tell you that they do not want to be called.

By the way, my response to the American Cancer Society this morning was quite G-rated. I simply said, "Please place me on your do-not-call list," and hung up. The person who called me doesn't decide whom she's supposed to call, so it's not her fault. My anger is focused more upon the people who gave her that list, and rolling over and going back to sleep was more important to me than tying up one operator on a wild goose chase.

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Thursday, June 16, 2005

A Salute to Michael Schiavo

The autopsy results for Terri Schiavo were finally released this week. Guess what? She wasn't in a "persistent vegetative state" at all! A person merely in a persistent vegetative state has at least some possibility of regaining consciousness. Terri Schiavo was brain dead, not in the ha-ha metaphorical sense (as in "President Bush is brain dead") but in the literal sense. Large sections of her brain tissue had died and been replaced with fluid. She was also completely, totally, utterly blind, incapable of responding to any visual stimulus, even if some part of her cortex had still been functional, because the connection from the optic nerve to the brain was dead and gone.

What does that mean? Well, to put it simply, Michael Schiavo was right all along. Certainly Terri did not want to be kept alive in that state — no person would. Terri's parents, the Schindlers, were acting not from a genuine concern for her best interests, but from a selfish inability to cope with the reality of the situation.

When politicians, Republican or Democrat, speak of "the sanctity of marriage" in one breath and then insist that the state of Florida, or worse yet the federal government, ought to intervene in a case like Terri Schiavo's, they expose their utter hypocrisy. The two positions are absolutely irreconcilable.

Michael Schiavo persevered through tremendous adversity for one purpose only: to see to it that his wife's wishes were respected. His courage and steadfastness stand as a beacon of hope amidst a sea of self-serving hypocrites. Robert Herring, Sr., a wealthy businessman, offered Michael Schiavo a million dollars to divorce Terri, clearing the way for her parents to prolong her hell-on-earth indefinitely, but he refused. To the end, he did what his wife wanted.

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Wednesday, June 15, 2005

My Challenge to Governor Arnold Schwuleficker

California Governator Arnold Schwuleficker has called a special election for November 8, 2005, to avoid the almost seven-month wait until the next regularly scheduled statewide election on 6/6/6 to vote on his proposals for budget reform, school reform, and redistricting reform. The only reason for the special election is to give the governor the ability to raise special-interest contributions that would be severely restricted in the 6/6/6 election, where Ahnold is expected to be a candidate. The referenda are also being viewed by both Democrats and Republicans as an up or down vote on Arnold's performance as governator.

I put forward this challenge to the governor: don't be a political girlie-man, Arnold Schwarzenegger. Announce today that if you don't win at least 2 out of 3 by solid margins, you will not run for re-election next year. That way, the voters of Kah-lee-for-nee-yuh will be able to choose between a real Democrat and a real Republican, instead of between a patsy and a cardboard caricature of an action hero.

Besides that, if you're not a candidate in the 6/6/6 primary election, you'll be able to sell your soul to Satan (again! must be some kind of "soul equity loan" or something) and raise unlimited out-of-state special-interest campaign contributions for a whole new round of initiatives! You'll be able to tap into the deep need of the people of Dayton, Ohio, to speak out on California politics by pulling out their checkbooks.

In this game of Texas California Hold 'Em, it's time to go "all in." Or are you just chicken?

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Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Reappearance of the Desaparecidos

The Supreme Court of Argentina today nullified two laws dating from shortly after the military dictatorship. The laws had granted amnesty to military officers for human rights violations, including abduction, torture, and killings. The term desaparecido (Spanish for "disappeared") refers to opponents of the government who vanished without a trace. Unfortunately, it is far from unique to Argentina.

At least 11,000, and possibly closer to 30,000, people died or disappeared during the seven years of dictatorship. The Supreme Court ruling clears the way for criminal prosecutions in at least some of those cases. Human rights groups estimate that as many as 300 to 400 military officers may be brought to trial.

Today is a proud day for democracy and accountability in Argentina, and also a reminder to the United States that we must never trade freedom for security. Indeed, while the comparison of Guantánamo to the Soviet gulag doesn't quite fit, the Gitmo detainees are quite literally desaparecidos — detained without the ability to contact their families or confer with a lawyer.

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Umm, Lynching is Bad, M'Kay?

I don't have any new sources, but I've been looking over the lists on various blogs of which U.S. Senators did not sign on as co-sponsors of the anti-lynching bill. There were about 15 Senators who missed the boat, if you excuse the one who caught it after it had already sailed.

Look at the states they come from. Both Republican Senators from Mississippi Burning. Both Republican Senators from Idakkko. Both Republican Senators from Why-oh-whyoming. [Postscript: I do not suggest by any means that everyone from those states is a raving racist; only that there are enough raving racists that their Senators are afraid to say that lynch mobs are a bad idea.]

Then there's Texas Senator John Cornyn, who spoke so eloquently of the importance of racial diversity in our judiciary.

Spineless panderers to the Ku Klux Klan, the Aryan Nation, and ... Wyoming? Gee, you'd think they might have learned something from the Matthew Shephard killing.

On the other hand, to those who make intemperate calls for regime change by assassination, I say you might as well get your white sheets, because you're no better than a lynch mob.

Update: AMERICABlog is keeping a tally of the Senators who have and have not yet co-sponsored the resolution. Even though the resolution already passed by a voice vote, it is still possible for a Senator to sign on as a co-sponsor. One of the Idaho Senators has done so, but it turns out that both Texans have not. Thanks to Eschaton for the link to AMERICABlog's latest tally. — 2005-06-15 1:27 P.M.

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In Honor of the American Flag

US Flag

Today is Flag Day in the United States of America, celebrating the proud legacy of the Stars and Stripes, that universally recognizable symbol of American values.

The red stripes symbolize valor, especially the valor of the brave men and women who have, over nearly 229 years, shed their blood for our liberty. The white stripes symbolize purity and righteousness, a commitment to do what is right rather than what is expedient. The blue field represents loyalty, sincerity, justice, and vigilance in seeking truth. The stars represent the sovereign states that comprise our nation.

It is always important, though, to emphasize the words symbolize and represent in speaking of the Flag. The flag stands for our Republic. The flag itself is just a piece of cloth, no more (nor less) important than a dishrag; it is the Freedom that the flag symbolizes that we must cherish.

Just as a parent would never dream of sacrificing a child in order to save a photograph of that child, neither must we as a nation ever sacrifice our freedom in the name of the flag. The thirteen stripes and fifty stars also represent diversity and pluralism, freedom of conscience, and freedom of expression.

As distasteful a statement as flag burning is, it must always remain legal if the Freedom that the flag represents is to have any meaning at all. If you see someone burning an American flag in a protest, what should you do? My answer is that you should salute the flag as it gives its life to protect the freedom it represents, because if freedom doesn't include the right to burn a mere symbol, it isn't freedom at all. Those politicians who wrap themselves in the flag and pander to voices who would outlaw flag burning, betray the very principles they claim to uphold.

For more information on the Flag of the United States of America, check out USFlag.org's web site.

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A Leftie I Can't Respect

I've been bashing our Commander-in-Chimp quite a bit, and lately also Governor Schwulenegger here in California, but my aim is to be an equal opportunity dispenser of satiric vitriol. For that reason, today I'd like to tell you a little bit about former San Francisco mayor Willie Brown.

I hope you can tell from my writings so far in this blog that my objections to His Willieness have nothing whatsoever to do with race, and I expect it's quite clear that I'm not at all offended that he authored and championed legislation to legalize private sexual relations between consenting adults of the same sex. Indeed, that's an accomplishment that I honor.

My objection centers on his style of governance. When Willie Brown ran for mayor for the first time in 1995, having been removed from the Assembly by term limits, a good friend of mine said, "Yeah, he's a crook, but he's our crook." In other words, because Brown consistently toed the good liberal policy line, any shady dealings he may have engaged in to get there were badges of honor rather than charges for a grand jury. Brown not only engaged in, but actively reveled in petty political payback. Brown's political friends could park anywhere in the city with impunity — a valuable perk in a city where one often needs to allow more time to circle for parking than to actually drive from Point A to Point B — using such things as an expired press pass for a radio station that no longer broadcasts. If I may play on a hackneyed analogy, Willie Brown enjoyed the making of the sausage even more than he valued the end product.

I don't respect Willie Brown because I don't believe he dealt honestly with the citizens of San Francisco. Call me naïve (Ooh, I love it when you call me naïve! Say it again, big boy!), but I believe that political leaders, from the local dog-catcher to the President of the United States, should always be forthright and honest with the public. The occasional exception to that rule — such as FDR's outright lies to the American people in the build-up to World War II, repeating in the 1940 election that he had no intention of sending American boys to fight in a foreign war even as he held secret meetings with then First Lord of the Admiralty [roughly Secretary of the Navy] Winston Churchill — only serves to highlight the extremity of circumstance that justifies breaking it. Building a combination foo-ball stadium and shopping mall isn't even on the same planet.

In short, except for minor differences of goals, Willie Brown would be an excellent fit in the administration of either George W. Shrub or Arnold Schwulenutter.

P.S. Happy Flag Day!

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The Great Threat to Heterosexual Marriage

This has already been all over the Internet. I picked it up off of someone's sig on an e-mail list.

Divorce rates among conservative "born-again" Christians are much higher than for other religious groups. The lowest divorce rates are among atheists and agnostics.

So, yeah, heaven forfend two fags or two dykes should want formal recognition of their pair bonding.

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Michael Jackson was Acquitted

I'm not going to bother to link to the story on some other web site, because, quite honestly, if you care about the details as anything but an acknowledged "guilty pleasure," you really probably shouldn't be reading this blog. Go back to your info-tainment while the grown-ups talk about some important things.

Things I DON'T Know:

  • Did Michael Jackson actually have illegal relations with a minor?

  • Did Orenthal James Simpson cause the deaths of Ronald Goldman and Nicole Brown Simpson?
Things I DO Know:
  • Michael Jackson's behavior with boys comes off as really creepy.

  • Faint praise though it might seem to some, Macaulay Culkin was willing to testify that, despite having many opportunities, Michael Jackson never touched him inappropriately. That does in fact demonstrate that Jacko is not a compulsive child molester, and you don't hear much about people who just pencil in "molesting children" if they're not too busy with writing sermons dry cleaning and mortgage payments.

  • Seriously: what child molester could possibly resist having the Home Alone boy in pajamas on his lap? Macaulay Culkin wasn't just a cute kid, he was the closest thing to a kiddie-porn star in mainstream film. He was Dennis the Menace on steroids, Huckleberry Finn with an angel's face, (Leave It to) Beaver's evil twin Skippy, or Opie Taylor after he snuck out some of the weed from his Pa's evidence locker.

  • I mean no disrespect to Macaulay Culkin in saying that. How could he possibly know at age 10 how many dirty old men were drooling over him? At the same time, I have no doubt that some of the adults involved did work that angle. Still, I'm glad to see that Mac seems to have made it through a contorted childhood and emerged as a serious grown-up actor. Go see Saved. Seriously. Not only can he really act, he's way cuter now. (He's also not only old enough to have sex, join the Army, or vote — he's even old enough to drink beer!)

  • Michael Jackson should build a whole separate guest house at Neverland Ranch. That way, any young boys who come to stay at Neverland can stay in a separate building with their own private bathroom and with their parent or guardian right across the hall.

  • Michael Jackson should never be alone in a room with a boy. He should have multiple eyewitnesses, including the child's parent or guardian whenever possible.

  • Michael Jackson should designate a staff member to help avoid any situations that might cause suspicion or discomfort. This staff person should have explicit veto power on any sleepover arrangements.

  • Under our legal system, since Michael Jackson was in fact acquitted (not necessarily found innocent, but found not to be guilty beyond a reasonable doubt), my suggestions above are simply common-sense advice, not legal requirements.

  • Both verdicts in the O.J. Simpson trials appear to me to be legally correct. From what I saw of the evidence, my personal opinion is that the preponderance of the evidence suggests that O.J. Simpson did unlawfully cause two deaths, but that the evidence of that fact as presented in the criminal trial did not remove all reasonable doubt.

  • I do not see a contradiction between saying that O.J. was "not guilty" but still "liable." The standards of evidence between a civil and a criminal trial are different, and for good reason.

  • We all (except for a handful of people with a reality-based connection to these cases) have more important things to think about!

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Monday, June 13, 2005

Special Election is On

Governor Schwarzenutbag announced a few minutes ago that, as widely expected, he is calling a special election for November 8, 2005, to accelerate by 7 months the vote on three of his pet initiatives. He is proposing school reform, election reform, and budget reform. In addition, outside groups have put two additional initiatives forward for the November ballot. One would require parental notification when a minor seeks an abortion; the other would restrict political activity by unions.

As reported in today's San Francisco Chronicle (sfgate.com), the governator's special election plans are opposed by some pretty heavy hitters, consumer activist Harvey Rosenfield of the Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights, and Republican former Secretary of State (and 2004 U.S. Senate candidate) Bill Jones. Rosenfield called the special election "an abuse of executive power," adding, "Never before, to our knowledge, has a sitting governor invoked his constitutional authority to call a special election when the only purpose of the election is the enactment of his own ballot measures. ... [Governor Schwarzenegger] has done more to undermine and corrupt the initiative process than anyone in state history."

Bill Jones, a supporter of Governor Schwarzenegger, decried the pay-to-play nature of the California initiative process, as well as the rigidity of a flat up-or-down vote on the proposals. "The process is too complex for yes or no votes."

I'm not exactly a fan of Harvey Rosenfield; in fact, I think he's fairly high up the list of people who have abused the initiative process. However, I agree with his call to require a majority vote of the Legislature to hold a special election, and most especially to prohibit the governor from controlling, coördinating, or raising money for campaigns directly related to ballot initiatives. (A major reason for Schwarzenegger's sense of urgency is that campaign finance rules are considerably tighter in an election in which he is also running for office. Since he will probably be running for the Republican gubernatorial nomination on 6/6/6, he would be much less able to raise millions of dollars in out-of-state contributions to fund his single-minded vision for Kah-lee-for-nee-yuh. Former Governor Gray Davis, a record-setter in sleazy campaign fund-raising, has been utterly eclipsed by the king of special interest palm-greasing, Arnold Schwarzenegger. If Davis could have raised the kind of money that Ahnold does, he probably would've survived the recall election — hell, he could've paid the Enron-inflated electricity bills out of his personal slush fund.)

Bill Jones also raises some important points. One of Arnold's propositions this time would restructure the entire process of drawing boundaries for state legislators and other offices. Arnold has a strong point, one that resonates with voters because he's absolutely right that the current system of allowing the Legislature to draw its own boundaries is badly broken and serves the people quite poorly. However, there are a number of huge flaws in his reform plan. First of all, he wants to redraw the boundaries in time for the 6/6/6 primary elections, so that the new lines would take full effect in the November 2006 general election. California will have to redraw its electoral boundaries after the 2010 census anyway; what's the big rush? In particular, state senators are elected to four-year terms on a rotating basis, half in each biennial election. Redistricting would require the entire senate to stand for re-election in 2006. That just kicks more lobbyist money into the campaign war chests, and clogs the airwaves with more distorted negative political ads. Beyond that, Arnold proposes to have a commission of three retired judges redraw the lines. I agree that the process should be taken out of the Legislature, but I have serious problems with the replacement plan, especially since the pool of retired state judges tilts much more to the conservative Republican side than the state as a whole. I also feel very strongly that the specifics of the process need careful review and extensive public hearings, not a simple yes or no vote by an electorate that is unlikely to read more than the first paragraph of the ballot summary. Let's not replace gerrymandering with Arnold-mandering.

Governor Schwarzenegger is also correct that our state budget process needs a serious overhaul, but again the devil is in the details. We need an open process with extensive public hearings to carefully balance competing interests, not just an up-or-down vote based on ten-second sound bites. Our state's schools also need major attention, but there, too, the details are important. California's public schools were once the gold standard for the entire nation; they are now a step up only if you're coming from Mississippi.

Ahnold is abusing the process for selfish political motives, to build momentum for his re-election bid in 2006. However, the cigar smoke is clearing away, leaving the voters to see not the powerful action hero they thought they voted for, but a power-hungry puppet of the special interests. All three of his current ballot measures hold an anemic lead in opinion polls; however, the pattern with initiatives is that they tend to start near their peak of support, with the yes votes melting away as people hear more of the details. Reforming things sounds good; the particular plans usually don't fare quite as well. That raises the significant possibility that one, two, or even all three of Ahnold's pet projects could go down in flames, maybe even killing his political future. We should be so lucky.

The California Legislature has sorely lacked leadership on these important issues. The widespread practice of "taking a walk" on controversial votes — being absent, effectively voting no, but yet not being on record with either a yes or no vote — rightly diminishes the legislators in the public's esteem. Unfortunately, we clearly cannot look to the governor's office for leadership, either.

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