Monthly Archives: May 2009

Not a Satisfactory Answer

In watchingthe California Supreme Court try to split the baby in some completely egregious way this week, I was saddened for my friends in the gay community. The court upheld Prop 8, which others far more intelligent and involved than I, can parse at length regarding the legal issues involved. From an outsiders view, it seemed to me to be a case of “you’re just thiissss clossseee to being what you want, but we don’t want to give it to you” that you get from grade-school kids on the playground.

Doing what’s right isn’t always easy. I get that, so I understand to some degree why people without a dog in the fight (read: many voters and probably most of the justices on the CSC) feel it better to support the status quo than to say, “Hey, this needs to change.” Still, we need people who are willing to do things that are uncomfortable when they are in the position to change things for the better.

One of my favorite stories comes from a meeting of baseball executives before the 1947 season, in which the Brooklyn Dodgers were attempting to integrate baseball. Branch Rickey made the case to bring Jackie Robinson from the Montreal affiliate to the majors. The owners cast a ballot on the issue and voted 15-1 not to let him play. Commissioner Harold “Happy” Chandler was the final authority on such matters and he recalled years later the phone call he got from Rickey once that meeting was over.

Chandler listened to Rickey briefly and with little fanfare agreed to let Robinson play. A stunned Rickey asked why this man, the former senator and governor of Kentucky and a man who once supported Strom Thurmond’s Dixiecrat run for the presidency, would support such a move. In his autobiography, and in almost every interview he gave until his death in 1991, Chandler’s answer was the same:

“I’m going to have to meet my Maker some day and if he asks me why I didn’t let this young man play and I say it’s because he’s black, that might not be a satisfactory answer.”

The answer might have sat well with his Maker, but not with baseball ownership. He was effectively ousted from the commissioner’s spot in 1951 when his term expired and his contract wasn’t renewed. He went back to Kentucky and became governor again. He would help integrate the schools in Kentucky, decline an invitation by George Wallace to be his running mate and earn election to the Baseball Hall of Fame. He wasn’t a saint by any means, having once declared the country of Zimbabwe to be “all nigger now” and having stood on the side of Thurmond’s Dixiecrats for more time than any decent man should.

However, when the chips were down, he put principle ahead of politics, what was right in front of what was easy and he gave us the modern game in which players of all races, creeds and colors join together on a field of green to show us poetry in motion.

In the movement toward equality among marriage, there needs to be a voice of strength and power who steps up to say, “this concept that it’s supposed to be Adam and Eve not Adam and Steve is a pithy bumper sticker, but when I meet my Maker, that might not be a satisfactory answer for denying human rights to human beings.” Someone needs to stand up and put principles ahead of politics, long-term gain ahead of self-interest and the betterment of others ahead of the safety of one’s own position.

Who will be Happy?

Even Conservative Senator Box Turtle

Is saying DAMN SON.


I have to admit, I knew it was gonna be repulsive but these aren’t even dog whistles. These are full-on “C’mere, boy! Here, Fido! I have a stick for you! Who’s a good puppy? Who’s a good puppy? You are! Have a milkbone! Good boy!”


Friday Ferretblogging


… and off:


Newt’s Gone Off His Meds Again


Something I find sadly informativere:Newt’s latest ‘intellectual’ flatulence is the response from the political press, which is to assume that this dessicated creep is saying something newsworthy.

Not two weeks ago, this same Newt Gingrich demonstrated quite clearly that he was and remains an ass and buffoon, using the public airwaves to throw a tantrum about remarks made byNancy Pelosi…remarks that turn out to be “probably right.”

But the political reporters either have the attention span of gnats…or the mentality of gossip columnists. Actually, I apologize–to gossip columnists, who make no claim towards serious journalism.

Oh, and I seeKarl Rove‘s doing his thing, snottily dismissing Judge Sotomayor as a “schoolmarm,” which, come to think of it, is roughly akin to the insults hurled at Kathleen Blanco in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina and the flood. Figures.

Childish insults hurled from people with the mentality of twelve year olds…Republican Party ‘leadership.’

Print Isn’t Dead

Say the guys who make the things that give you the print:

But all the gloom-and-doom predictions that newspapers will one day
disappear isn’t scaring workers at the Kaspar Sho-Rack Company, based
in Shiner, Texas. The company lays claim to being the world’s largest
manufacturer of coin-operated and no-charge newspaper vending machines.

Don Kaspar is president and a fourth-generation member of a family business that began in 1898 manufacturing wire products.

“There’ll be printed newspapers for years and years” said Kaspar,
president of a company that is actually part of the larger Kaspar
Wireworks. Still, he concedes, “Business is down about 25 to 30 percent
from about five years ago.”

It wasn’t until the late 1950s that
the privately owned company was approached by the now defunct San
Antonio Light newspaper to develop an early version of coin-operated
newspaper machines.

The early versions of newspaper machines were simple and made mostly of wire, but by the mid-1960s they were all made of metal.

The machines typically consist of a thick metal housing, shelves, doors
and hinges. But the heart of any machine is the coin mechanism, which
can have 150 moving parts, according to the manufacturer. Some advanced
models introduced in 1999 feature lithium batteries to run the
coin-collecting mechanism.

Often weighing around 100 pounds,
these hand-assembled machines cost on average $450 each, with
refurbished models selling for around $300, the company says.

The zenith of the company’s business may have been the 1980s, when the
introduction of USA Today landed it a contract to build and deliver
100,000 coin-operated machines. Today only 65,000 machines populate the
nation’s sidewalks, according to a USA Today spokesperson.

65,000 is still a lot. I like that you can basically hear the reporter asking these guys to go along with the OH GOD OH GOD WE’RE ALL GONNA DIE IPHONES CRAIGSLIST FUCK THE KIDS THEY DON’T READ storyline and the guys saying, “erm, calm down, son.”


Sotomayor for Supreme Court


WASHINGTON –President Barack Obama tapped federal appeals judgeSonia Sotomayor for theSupreme Court on Tuesday, officials said, making her the first Hispanic in history picked to wear the robes of a justice.

If confirmed by the Senate, Sotomayor, 54, would succeed retiringJustice David Souter. Two officials described Obama’s decision on condition of anonymity because no formal announcement had been made.

officials say Sotomayor would bring more judicial experience to the
Supreme Court than any justice confirmed in the past 70 years.

A formal announcement was expected at midmorning.

had said publicly he wanted a justice who combined intellect and
empathy — the ability to understand the troubles of everyday Americans.

Democrats hold a large majority in the Senate, and barring the unexpected, Sotomayor’s confirmation should be assured.



On health care, not just coverage:

But reform isn’t just about
coverage. It’s essential to bring down the cost of healthcare. That’s
why a second major element of our reform is cost reduction.

go after fraud and abuse, cut red tape, and make sure that doctors and
patients know of the latest, most effective therapies for their
conditions. As experience has shown, it’s better – and cheaper – to get
it right the first time rather than have patients go in and out of the
hospital. So we’ll start paying for the overall quality of care, not
the quantity of procedures. We’ll make certain that doctors and
patients will have better information so they can decide which
treatment is best based on real evidence.

healthcare costs threaten the economic survival of this nation.
Bringing them under control will not be easy, and all of us – business,
labor, providers, and government – will have to make real sacrifices if
this is to work.

I’ve been yelling about this since the election: It is completely pointless to give everybody health insurance if, even WITH that insurance, it still costs thousands of dollars to get your shit fixed. If you work part-time and have no sick days, if you work hourly for minimum wage and get the minimum, you’re still fucked when they need to take out your kidney. If your insurance pays half or even two-thirds or even 90 percent of what you need done but the other 10 percent is $10,000, I don’t know about you but right now that would break me and I’d be maxing out the Mastercard.

Also, and this is just me? Even if we make everything free, even if we make the best doctors on the PLANET pay YOU to come see them, if we don’t make it quick and easy to get appointments and get to them and get out again, it’s still going to be a pain in the ass to get antibiotics for your bronchitis and easier for you just to ignore it for six weeks until you’re coughing up blood and in the ER.

Fourth, we’ll make it possible for
the elderly and disabled to live at home and function independently.
Our bill will help them afford to put ramps in their homes, pay someone
to check in on them regularly, or any of an array of supports that will
enable them to stay in their communities instead of in nursing homes.

we will take strong steps to see that America has a 21st-century
workforce for a modern and responsive healthcare system. We must invest
in training the doctors, nurses, and other health professionals who
will serve the needs of patients in the years to come. And we must make
sure that an emphasis on primary care and basic prevention is at the
heart of our efforts.



Dog Whistles Only Work on Dogs


But the fact is that screaming about about quota queens and welfare
moms and young bucks buying T-bone steaks simply is not a magic bullet
anymore. It works with white southerners and it works with Chris
Matthews’ cranky uncle. But the Republican party has already maxed out
with that demographic. Unless they can improve their standing with
women, Latinos, and younger voters, they’re screwed.Obviously,
attacking a Latino woman for being a Latino woman will hurt politically
with Latinos and women. And younger voters don’t hear 40 year-old dog
whistles that well.

I think they hear them just fine, I don’t think they give a fuck, is all. The younger-than-40 set has seen firsthand how well that shit worked out for our parents: Their pension plans and retirement accounts are gone despite a lifetime of hard work and promises kept, their lives were fraught with racial and religious and sexual tensions over the rightful place of the minorities and the chicks, and all they’ve got to show for it is a worn-out Barcalounger and a prescription for Xanax.

I mean, for fuck’s sake, I don’t even bother arguing with Republican dickheads my parents’ age anymore because they’ve already pretty demonstrably lost everything and rubbing it in just tires me out. Are you better off now than you were eight years ago? Are you better off now than you were 30 years ago? Is your house worth more? Do you have any hope that your grandkids will go to college the way you did, without it bankrupting your children? Is the factory down the street still open? How many people work there, as many as before? There’s only so much you can lay at the feet of girls and Mexicans and we’re over here going, yeah, yeah, yeah, gimme a job, gramps.

I will say this for the younger generation: Those kids my sister’s age and younger who I know are relentlessly practical, infuriatingly so in fact. How will this help me? How will this benefit the life I want to live? It ain’t that nobody’s studying philosophy and Latin grammar anymore, but everybody I know in his or her twenties has not just one plan but several contingencies and ain’t none of them involve going to a tea party rally to yell about government hating the Baby Jesus. The freaks who do show up there are the exceptions; the rules are at their second jobs trying to pay their own way through college or fucking high school because Dad just got laid off.

The dog whistles come through loud and clear, and there’s always that moment of temptation, because wouldn’t it be nice if it was all somebody else’s fault that we’re not king of the world, somebody powerless we didn’t have to worry about kicking? But then the phone rings and it’s the bill collectors again and that drowns out that dog whistle good.


Blowed Up

Well, this should be fun for everybody.

If only John McCain was president and could just tell them to cut it the fuck out. I’m sure they’d listen.


You just have to wait…

I’m in aSupremes kinda mood, what with Sonia Sotomayor’s nomination and all. I’ve been following with particular interest the potential makeup of the court with Sotomayor on it. And there’s one thing that keeps coming up, besides the obvious first Latina story. As Josh Marshall points out, Sotomayorwould be thesixth Catholic on the court.

Which, in my mind, begs the question: Where is the representation for the non-religious on the highest court in the land? I’m one of roughly34 million people (pdf) in the United States who identify themselves as having no religious affiliation. That’s 15% of the U.S. population. And we’re a growing minority–we made up only 8% of the population in 1990. I’m no militant–it’s kind of hard to be militant when your beliefs have the consistency of the Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man. But even theStay-Puft Marshmallow Man can be dangerous when miffed. And I have to say, I’m a little tired of feeling like theMilton Waddams of minority groups in the United States.

Excuse me, I believe you have my Supreme Court seat.

There’s Always Somebody Making All Rich Assholes Look Like Assholes

ViaChicagoist, here we havea mishmash of fear of poverty, racism, crap communication, typical city bullshit, and the entire classist sundae is topped off with a heaping spoonful of entitlement:

One of Chicago’s more successful public schools sits just a stone’s throw from the new Barneys store in theGold Coast.
Ogden Elementary is the type of place where well-heeled parents pick up
their offspring in luxury cars, with many of the children destined for
a full slate of after-school activities to foster their development.

the aging school at 24 W. Walton St. will temporarily close next month
while it gets a nearly $60 million makeover, and exactly where the 400
or so kindergarten through 4th-grade students will learn while the hard
hats go to work has become quite a controversy in the swanky

So far, Chicago Public Schools
officials have narrowed the choices to two school buildings, both near
the former Cabrini-Green housing complex. Though the Ogden students
will have their temporary home all to themselves, moving them to the
Cabrini area — where only three of the original buildings remain —
has set off a dispute touching on everything from transportation costs
to class and race.

“I am not sending my child there,” said
Michelle Herman, mother of two Ogden students, one of whom would be
affected by the move. “That is directly across the street from the

“The reason I pay so much money to live in this area is because [Ogden] is the school my kids go to,” she added.

Ogden students would be dealing more with Cabrini’s notorious
reputation than the present reality of a rapidly gentrifying area,
parents have not been shy about voicing their anger. Some say they’ve
sent letters and placed calls to new schools CEO Ron Huberman, while
others are trying to use “connections” to see if something can be done
about the move.

That’s right. You pay a lot of money for your kids to go to a school so wealthy it’s getting moved TEMPORARILY so you can build another wealthy school in its place. You pay a lot of money for that privilege and you know, it’s not even so much I want to deny it to you as I want you to shut the hell UP about it. Good God, do you listen to yourself? Somewhere in the lessons you learned about being a human being, lady, humility got missed.

I want to take you by the ear and drag you down 20 miles south to see schools with holes in the ceilings and chains on the doors with kidsjust as nice as yours, just as deserving as yours, just as blameless as yours trying to learn with parkas on because the boilers don’t work. And I’d like you to explain to those kids how you pay a lot of money to live where you live. Not because I think they’ll understand or give a good goddamn about you, but because I want to see your face when you do it. Good Lord. Be as rich as you want to be, far as I’m concerned, I’m not going to take your money away, but can you have the marginal good sense not to bitch in public that you might have to rub up against somebody your country club wouldn’t approve as a member?

I’d like to call this racism (the Cabrini-Green area is historically black, the parents pictured in the story are white) but I don’t think it’s even that easy. I covered these stories for years; it’s never just race. It’s also the idea that poverty is catching, that people in “other” neighborhoods aren’t people and wouldn’t give you directions or loan you a cup of sugar or have lives anything like yours, that segregation is the answer to keeping you safe, that there is a way to wall yourself off from the problems of the world just by locking the doors of your minivan as you drive through “their” streets. It’s the idea that crime is something that happens to other people; you move out to a rich suburb to get away from everything and everyone who could hurt you and then some wealthy mother smothers her children in their beds and everybody says, “This is such a nice community,” confused and frightened:I thought we were safe here. It’s about the idea that location equals immunity from fear.

The public school system in Illinois is joke and the one in Chicago more so; schools for the rich are palaces and those for the poor are demilitarized zones and it’s been that way since the bottoming out of the manufacturing base in the late 1970s and it’s only getting worse now as the state budget crunch is passed on to municipalities. Cabrini-Green isn’t the worst of it; anyway that neighborhood now is really nice. My dad’s friend keeps a store there and we’ve been watching it change while we visited D over the years; from coke deals out in the open around the corner (my first childhood education in the reality of drugs of any kind) to now a billion Starbucks shops and pedestrian traffic that isn’t wearing plastic high heels. Anywhere I can’t afford the rent is nice enough to put a school, in my opinion, so the argument is bullshit on its face.

But the argument isn’t the point. The point is we’ve divided up this city, this country even, into safe areas and danger zones so real in our minds they might as well be marked out with concrete walls topped with barbed wire, and on my side I’m okay and on your side you’re not and that’s all right by me? Hell no, that’s not all right by me and it shouldn’t be by you as well.

Irate parents have become a common part of the city public schools’
landscape, given the number of school closings in recent years.

though, isn’t being permanently closed because of low performance or
declining enrollment. Instead, the district is building a
state-of-the-art facility replete with underground parking.

I clicked over to the comments thinking it was gonna be a hellhole of “no nooooooo no noooo icky poor kids get away here’s what I hate about black people my kids deserve to have things your kids are crackheads” but for once, newspaper commenters for the win:

What is more important is where the Schiller students are going to
relocated to, to accommodate Ogden. Sadly, something always stinks with

Boo Hoo, let’s give them special status because they are rich. Let them
hire private guards for their kids with all their money or home school

I pay plenty of tax $$$$ and have no kids in CPS, do you want to give me a refund?

an underground parking garage? at an elementary school? What, for the limo and driver to wait in?

CPS, explain. I want use of that parking when I come downtown.

I am a City taxpayer and do not have a decent school in my
neighborhood! The kids are in mobile units due to overcrowding. Are we
getting a new facility with underground parking? Heck no! I pay double
as I pay to send my children to a private school with no overcrowding
and a real building…not a mobile unit.

Huberman is making changes where the money is…not where it counts to the children!

God forbid these kids see others live. It might interfere with their feelings of entitlement.


Thank Heaven, Here is Not All the World

Good God, there are days when it seems like the fight will never, ever, ever be over, right?

A new ballot initiative will putCalifornia back into the gay-marriage fight, which has considerably broadened in the months since Prop 8 passed. States likeVermont andMaine
have embraced gay marriage, and New York is among others that may do so
soon. And in a telling bit of irony, Moreno began his dissent by
quoting not from his own court’s historic 2008 opinion, but from one
issued earlier this year in Iowa. “The ‘absolute equality of all’
persons before the law [is] ‘the very foundation principle of our
government,'” he wrote.

For my disappointment and anger today, I have to thank not just the power of the Mormon church and the fearful bigotry of right-wing sex scolds everywhere in making what is the fundamental issue of equal protection under the law into a farce about sodomy in schools and someone else taking away your marriage.

I also have to thank my parents, who from the time I was old enough to point told me that mocking someone for his difference, or implying he is worth any less than me for it, was unacceptable, out of bounds.

I have to thank the young man who came and spoke to my (Catholic) high school “human sexuality” class about being gay, about always knowing he was different but never knowing quite how at first. I have to thank his courage and his humor and his generosity toward a bunch of privileged brats who wouldn’t know until years later what his words meant.

I have to thank the poor guy who suffered through being my ignorant ass’s first close, and out, gay friend, for slapping me around when I said something stupid, for talking to me and arguing with me and educating me when it really wasn’t his job to do so at all.

I have to thank my friends today, who every day live lives of beauty and joy that should be the envy of everyone, and against whom the very thought of pain is unthinkable.

I have to thank hundreds of thousands of people who stood up and fought discrimination in all its forms and continue to reach out to others despite setback after setback, insult after insult. Without them I would not be disappointed today. Without them I would not be angry.

Wiithout them, too, I would not be hopeful for the future. I would not be sure that we are now and have ever been on the road away from these small fears and toward hope and common decency, however long and rocky that road might be. For all that I have to thank those who fought Proposition 8 and everything like it. I have to thank them because even in defeat their voices raised are those that call to us from a better world, where we are better people. And hearing them, we can see the way clear to get there.


Photo by Derek Powazek.



Boom. Boom. Boom. Boom.

The book of love has music in it
In fact that’s where music comes from
Some of it is just transcendental
Some of it is just really dumb
but I love it when you sing to me
and you you can sing me anything
The book of love is long and boring
and written very long ago
It’s full of flowers and heart-shaped boxes
and things we’re all too young to know
but I love it when you give me things
and you ought to give me wedding rings
-Stephin Merritt
Disappointed? Of course. But not surprised.

I timed my lunch break so I could hear the court decision on Prop 8 today. Honestly, my first reaction was relief that the 18,000 couples already married would retain their rights. That did surprise me, because I thought if the court was going to uphold it, they would “disappear” those marriages to avoid the resulting legal conundrum.

But that didn’t happen and I was relieved and that was my first reaction. And yeah, I know that’s not particularly politically astute of me, only seeing part of the picture.

Even via Twitter, good neighborLesbianDad (as usual) summed the bigger picture up perfectly:
Twitter _ Lesbian Dad_ An imperfect metaphor_ bei ...

It was because of her family, my sweet friends Jeff and William, IRL married friends and those spread all over the blogosphere, that I felt that first, imperfect, selfish, visceral relief. That those (relatively) few families made it into the lifeboats, that they wouldn’t go to bed tonight with their legal rights in question.

Then I got mad about the rest of it. Especially as the afternoon wore on, as protestors got arrested, and our president remained conspicuously silent. Especiallywhen this happened:

Q Robert, do you have any reaction to the California Supreme Court decision on Prop 8?

MR. GIBBS: I have not talked to the President about it. I think the issues involved are ones that you know where the President stands.

Really Robert? Sure, Candidate Obama was damned outspoken but I am not as certain wherePresident Obama stands. All I heard today was crickets. I don’t care that he was busy with his SCOTUS pick and Harry Reid’s fundraiser either, because there were a lot otherfierce advocates who took the time and trouble to offer support today. Also because he is the President and it’s his job to be busy.

At day’s end, though, what I am left with is not just hope, but determination. Also, the certainty, the absolute surety of knowing, that even though this battle isn’t over, hate and bigotry and fear and backward-thinking have already lost the war. It is inevitable. I know this today more than ever.

Someone who’s been at this much, much longer than all the rest of us thinks so too.Veteran LGBT activist Phyllis Lyon, age 84:

I’m optimistic about the future. Look at all the states that have now done this. Boom. Boom. Boom. Boom. They may not all last. But it’s going to be all right. It may not be while I’m alive, but eventually it will work out that if two people want to get married, they can get married and it won’t matter to whom. We went through this before with people of color. It will be OK.

Stop the Filibuster!

I wonder if Perkins and Dobson will host anotherJustice Sunday on Sotomayor’s behalf:

Dobson and his allies seem determined to force the confrontation. On
April 24 they hosted a “Justice Sunday” rally at a Southern Baptist
church in Louisville, Ky. During the event, which was broadcast to
conservative churches all over America, speakers insisted that
Democratic opposition to the Bush judges is a form of religious

The event at Highview Baptist Church was officially
sponsored by the Dobson-affiliated Family Research Council. Speakers
included Dobson andFRC President Tony Perkins.

During his remarks, Dobson called the Supreme Court “unelected and
unaccountable” and “out of control.” He added, “For 43 years, the
Supreme Court has been on a campaign to limit religious freedom. It’s
all on the line. It’s time to stop the filibuster.”

Frist, in
videotaped remarks, called for an up-and-down vote on Bush judicial
nominees. While working closely with the far right, Frist took pains to
try to maintain his moderate conservative image. He distanced himself
from House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Texas), who has called on
Congress to explore ways topenalizejudges who issue rulings thatdisplease conservatives.

“When we think judicial decisions are outside mainstream American
values, we will say so,” Frist said. “But we must also be clear that
the balance of power among all three branches requires respect–not
retaliation. I won’t go along with that.”


How low can you go?

Marriage in Limbo

Comedy writer Ali Daviscan be found on Twitter, where she is hilarious pretty much daily. Alsohere andhere, similarly hilarious.