Monday, June 29, 2009

Stonewall 40, or 1968?

Police raid a new gay bar in Fort Worth, Texas and things get ugly. This update from Box Turtle Bulletin:
Ft. Worth police have issued a press release (Word Doc: 34KB/2 pages) blaming club patrons for police officers’ excessive show of force during Sunday morning’s raid on the Rainbow Lounge on the 40th anniversary of the Stonewall Rebellion. The cops are raising their own version of the “gay panic” defense, claiming that two patrons made “sexually explicit movements” and another “grabbed the [Texas Alcoholic Beverages Commission] agent’s groin.”

People on the scene find those charges incredible. Todd Camp, a former Ft. Worth Star-Telegram reporter who was at the bar, said, “No one was acting aggressive to officers.” Another eyewitness, Chuch Potter, told a local CBS affiliate, “I can guarantee there wasn’t a man in this bar that would’ve touched one of those officers, knowing they were arresting people.”

Even straight people at the Fort Worth Weekly find the police department’s shrieking sex-crazed-zombie-homos excuse unbelievable. Straight guy Jeff Prince was working on a story that took him to another gay bar a few years ago, and steeled himself against the guaranteed out of control lecherous onslaught that awaited him:

As I sat there, I kept figuring one of these guys would hit on me. I was going to politely explain to them that I wasn’t that way. Except nobody paid any attention to me. For 10 or 15 minutes not a single person spoke to me or approached me. I was relieved and offended at the same time. What am I chopped liver?

Another straight dude Weeklyteer Dan McGraw did a cover story called “Waking Up the Rainbow” in 2005 about gay politics in Fort Worth and spent several nights incognito at a gay bar called Best Friends. He had a similar experience of being ignored. “It was like hanging out at any other bar,” he said. “Most of the guys had been married before and had kids.”

For some reason, however, Fort Worth police and Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission officers went into a gay bar on Saturday night and the patrons allegedly became fraught with horn and damn near raped our boys in blue.

City councilwoman Kathleen Hicks says she’s disturbed by the raid. She joins openly gay councilman Joel Burns in calling for an investigation into the raid that resulted in seven arrests and sent one man to the hospital with a critical brain injury.
First thought: why do insecure straight men convince themselves that a gay man will hit on them because somehow, they're irresistible? Hello! Just a quick men have better taste than you can ever imagine, so get over yourselves. We ain't into straight asshats.

Good ol' Texas where big hair and bigger homophobes flourish. This is the kind of stuff that led to the Stonewall riots in the first place. But since we're talking Tex-ass here, all bets are off as to how this will work out.

Meanwhile, prayers for the man with the blunt trauma blood clot in his brain would be deeply appreciated.

Oh, and welcome once again to 1968!

Sunday, June 28, 2009

40 Years After Stonewall..

A tribute by the San Francisco Gay Men's Chorus:

I am grateful that I was present at the beginning - and still around to talk about it. Maybe I'll write a post about my experiences on that night and the one following.

And so it goes.

Second Class Citizens - 40 Years On...

Frank Rich in today's New York Times nails it.
LIKE all students caught up in the civil rights and antiwar movements of the 1960s, I was riveted by the violent confrontations between the police and protestors in Selma, 1965, and Chicago, 1968. But I never heard about the several days of riots that rocked Greenwich Village after the police raided a gay bar called the Stonewall Inn in the wee hours of June 28, 1969 — 40 years ago today.

Then again, I didn’t know a single person, student or teacher, male or female, in my entire Ivy League university who was openly identified as gay. And though my friends and I were obsessed with every iteration of the era’s political tumult, we somehow missed the Stonewall story. Not hard to do, really. The Times — which would not even permit the use of the word gay until 1987 — covered the riots in tiny, bowdlerized articles, one of them but three paragraphs long, buried successively on pages 33, 22 and 19.

But if we had read them, would we have cared? It was typical of my generation, like others before and after, that the issue of gay civil rights wasn’t on our radar screen. Not least because gay people, fearful of harassment, violence and arrest, were often forced into the shadows. As David Carter writes in his book “Stonewall,” at the end of the 1960s homosexual sex was still illegal in every state but Illinois. It was a crime punishable by castration in seven states. No laws — federal, state or local — protected gay people from being denied jobs or housing. If a homosexual character appeared in a movie, his life ended with either murder or suicide.

The younger gay men — and scattered women — who acted up at the Stonewall on those early summer nights in 1969 had little in common with their contemporaries in the front-page political movements of the time. They often lived on the streets, having been thrown out of their blue-collar homes by their families before they finished high school. They migrated to the Village because they’d heard it was one American neighborhood where it was safe to be who they were.

Stonewall “wasn’t a 1960s student riot,” wrote one of them, Thomas Lanigan-Schmidt, in a poignant handwritten flier on display at the New York Public Library in the exhibition “1969: The Year of Gay Liberation.” They had “no nice dorms for sleeping,” “no school cafeteria for certain food” and “no affluent parents” to send checks. They had no powerful allies of any kind, no rights, no future. But they were brave. They risked their necks to prove, as Lanigan-Schmidt put it, that “the mystery of history” could happen “in the least likely of places.”

After the gay liberation movement was born at Stonewall, this strand of history advanced haltingly until the 1980s. It took AIDS and the new wave of gay activism it engendered to fully awaken many, including me, to the gay people all around them. But that tardy and still embryonic national awareness did not save the lives of those whose abridged rights made them even more vulnerable during a rampaging plague.

On Monday, President Obama will commemorate Stonewall with an East Room reception for gay leaders. Some of the invitees have been fiercely critical of what they see as his failure, thus far, to redeem his promise to be a “fierce advocate” for their still unfulfilled cause. The rancor increased this month, after the Department of Justice filed a brief defending the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), the most ignominious civil rights betrayal under the last Democratic president, Bill Clinton.

Read the whole thing at the link above and, oh, by the way, Happy 40th Anniversary.

More later.


Saturday, June 27, 2009

HRC and Orbitz. Did anyone notice?

As you can tell from my previous post below, I don't get around much. I watch even less TV, but while watching a documentary on History International I saw this. On the first viewing I didn't catch the obvious, but then (as usual) it was replayed over and over and I finally noticed the EQUAL sign patch on the shirt worn by the guy on the right. An homage to HRC and the LGBT community for our support. Nice.
I found it on YouTube:

Yes, I am slow, but who'da thunk it?
Happy Stonewall 40th Anniversary to all. Time it was, and what a time it was...

More later.

Tomorrow and the Future?

When asked recently about any plans for tomorrow and the future and my response was - I ain't so sure about either anymore. There's an old saying that "if you want to make G*d laugh, make plans." And more often than not, it seems to be true. Some random thoughts on life...not that I have one.

Yesterday, on the way to Job #2 I was rear ended while stopped at a red light. The well coiffed old bat didn't know how to drive (or brake) her big new SUV and slammed into me. I got out of the car and screamed at her. She rolled down her window and asked why I was upset...yep, those were her first words. How dare I interfere with her air-conditioned ride! She didn't care about any damage and was about to drive away, but I guess seeing that I could spit nails or chew her face off, decided to get out and exchange insurance info. I filed a claim with her insurance company before going to work and will contact mine on Monday because they were closed yesterday.

Working two jobs to dig out from under and maybe get some kind of life one day, just doesn't want to work out for me. Rent is going up next month, auto insurance went up due to the last accident and will likely go up again - though this was not my fault either. I'm still paying off the hospital and emergency room folks. All other expenses are going up weekly, but salaries remain the same.

Three years ago I had a nice house, big screen TV, great surround sound system, and a life partner of 30 years. Then I was hospitalized and out of circulation for 4 months following the surgeries. During this time I found out that my partner was seeing someone else and planning to build a new house (and life) with him. Two years ago I went from home owner to homeless in the space of a month. Everything went with him to his new life - including many of his gifts to me. I began learning that I didn't require much to live comfortably, and a good thing too, because I had nothing.

Finding this tiny apartment was a blessing, and the healing experience I needed so badly began. Then the fall last November sent me to the ER with a fractured spine and more medical bills. The hospital and ER staff worked out new payment plans - adding the new charges to the existing one - and I went back to work.

Though I continued to search for another part time (or a full time job) the tanking economy made that futile until this past April when I got job #2. That said, if the economy doesn't improve soon, job #1 may be in jeopardy. Luxury items are the first scratched off shopping lists and fine jewelry is a big time luxury.

Fortunately, I love both jobs for different reasons and the extra money will help eventually (I hope!) but not yet. I'd like to go out for dinner or drinks once in a while, but the budget is too tight for those luxuries. Aside from the 3 shift meals offered weekly at job #2, I do all my cooking. And this accident will cause more upheaval, time, and expense. Oh, Joy!!!

I stopped planning for the future when my world fell apart and my health and insurance went south. I can't bring myself to make another attempt. Anything, as the event yesterday shows, can happen at any time to send my life into another spiral of chaos and planning a future will only tax whatever energy I have left. Taking each day as it comes and doing what needs doing to get through isn't much of a life, but it is all I have for now.

Oh well. Blather, rinse, repeat. At present I have a roof over my head, healthy meals on the table, and the ability (creativity?) to get the bills paid on time. There is also gin, tonic, lime, and Absinthe. So, there's that...

And so it goes.

Lazy Caturday

I totally agree...

More later.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

FEMA Misspent Millions Intended for Katrina Victims

Yes, I know, I keep getting emails begging me to stop beating the dead horse. Well, FEMA is far from dead and needs to be held accountable. Four years on and ...
WASHINGTON — The Federal Emergency Management Agency ignored the law and misused millions of dollars to build two warehouses after hurricanes Katrina and Rita, according to government investigators.

Some of the money FEMA misused should have gone toward Katrina victims in Louisiana, according to a Homeland Security Inspector General report obtained by The Associated Press. The report is expected to be released Thursday.

"FEMA had no authority to use appropriated funds to construct the two buildings," the investigators said, adding that the agency violated a prohibition against agreeing to spend money without congressional authority.

In the summer of 2006, FEMA spent more than $7 million on two warehouses the agency said it needed to repair trailers and mobile homes used by disaster victims. One of the warehouses was paid for from federal disaster relief fund, which investigators say is not permitted. The other warehouse was paid for with proceeds from sales of travel trailers and mobile homes _ also not allowed.

The report says senior officials at FEMA rejected the proposals for these warehouses, but they were built anyway.

Rep. Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., said this report confirms his ongoing concerns about FEMA's lax contracting policies.

"It shows, in this instance, FEMA's disregard for the law," said Thompson, who chairs the House Homeland Security committee. "This is another example of FEMA gone wild."

After the 2004 and 2005 hurricane seasons, FEMA set up 12 sites to store emergency housing units. Once hurricane victims left the disaster housing, the units were moved to these storage sites to be cleaned, repaired and refurbished. FEMA wanted to put up maintenance buildings at two of the sites _ Selma, Ala., and Cumberland, Md., the report said.

FEMA officials told the inspector general that senior agency officials "disallowed" the proposals to build these sites, but "eventually the projects were approved and funded," the report said.

The Cumberland building was delivered without electricity, lighting or other utilities and couldn't even be used for repairs, the report said.

FEMA spokesman Clark Stevens said he could not comment on a report that hasn't been released.

But, he said, "FEMA does not tolerate wasteful spending and is committed to making sure that any past mistakes are not repeated."
Yes, well, we'll see, won't we?

So beyond sad.

And so it goes.

Non Discrimination Bill Passes in Delaware!

Never thought I would get to type that title, but it really happened last night. SB121 - Non-Discrimination Bill passes DE House & Senate - now awaiting Gov Markell's signature
http://legis. delaware. gov/LIS/LIS145. NSF/vwLegislatio n/SB+121? Opendocument

EQUAL Rights for ALL in Delaware

ACLU of Delaware, LGBT Civil Rights Project

Delaware - CAMP Rehoboth - Community Legal Aid Society, Inc.

Delaware LGBT State Employees - Delaware Liberty Fund - Delaware Pride

Delaware Stonewall Democrats - Delaware Unitarian Universalists for Equality - JUST for Youth

PFLAG Wilmington Chapter - The Rainbow Chorale of Delaware - UofD LGBT Caucus

The House suspended its rules and tonight passed SB121 by a vote of 26 YES, 14 NO, 1 Absent. Three amendments were introduced, and all were defeated.

The bill now goes to Gov. Markell who is expected to sign the bill as early as this weekend.

SB121 tonight was passed in the Senate by a vote of 14 YES, 5 NO, 1 Absent.
All three amendments that were put forward were defeated. It has taken ten long years to get this bill to the floor of the Senate. This is truly a great day for EQUAL Rights for ALL in Delaware!
It's time for a festive cocktail before dinner.

More later.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Enough Said...

This is NOT going to happen this time.

And so it goes.

Monday, June 22, 2009

White House Conference Call with LGBT Leaders

This is from AMERICAblog's John Aravosis:
White House deputy chief of staff, and the political director, have a 2pm conference call scheduled with the members of the gay caucus of the DNC. The administration has also scheduled a meeting this week with the top non-profit gay rights groups.

Privately, I also wrote to four White House contacts on Friday night and asked that they also schedule talks with the top gay rights leaders with constituencies online - the top leaders involved in the uproar over the past week - including, if those leaders are interested, Pam Spaulding, Andrew Sullivan, Joe Jervis, Dan Savage, and Andy Towle (I suggested those names as a starting point, not exclusively), and of course Joe Sudbay and me as well. I received no response.

Joe and I have been talking about this, and we've been fascinated how the White House's response to gay issues has been very 1990s. Thinking that the gays are the third rail of politics, when in fact the polls are pretty darn great on our issues (even with Republicans, conservatives and churchgoers, when it comes to DADT). Thinking that the major issues confronting the community are hospital visits and changing the names on our passports, instead of growing community anger over Don't Ask Don't Tell and marriage. It's as if the White House is stuck in 1993.

Then we started thinking about the White House's last-minute effort to reach out to the gay groups for cover (holding the hastily-arrange benefits memo signing last week, and now holding conference calls and meetings with the DNC's gay caucus and the traditional non-profit gay rights groups. It's all very 1990s in that the White House fails to recognize the importance of the online community overall, but also to this particularly uproar.

Back in the early 90s, if you had HRC on board, you could pretty much write your own ticket as a politician trying to woo the gay community. Towards the middle 90s, you had new groups like Service Members Legal Defense Network (SLDN), and established groups like GLAAD coming into their own. You also had NGLTF, and others of course. Zoom ahead to 2009. Not only is it not a certainty that having any one of the top gay groups on board is enough to win over the community, but it's no longer clear that even having most of them on board is enough.

Why? Because of the Internet.
The community at large is getting more and more agitated, even angry at the DOJ brief comparing our relationships to incest and pedophilia and I don't think the WH is going to get out of this one easily. Unless of course, the champagne and caviar make our "leaders" swoon and sign on to whatever the WH is selling this time.

Read the rest here. Stay Tuned.

And check for updates.

More later

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Support for Public Health Plan

Click image to embiggen.

I have no health insurance. It disappeared with the break up. At my age and income level it is out of the question, but I would be willing to pay higher taxes for that peace of mind if given the opportunity. I took on the second job to rid myself of the burden of hospital debt from last November when I fractured my spine and the hospital has been great about working out a payment plan that wouldn't break the budget, but I want to get out from under, so to speak.

More later.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Healthcare Reform: Tellng the Truth

The Republican Health care Horror show. And then, the truth:
We know our economy and fiscal future are tied to building on what works in our health care system and fixing what’s broken.

Here are 12 ways health care reform will help you and your family.


• No more co-pays or deductibles for preventive care

• An annual cap on your out-of-pocket expenses-- no longer driving Americans to financial ruin

• An end to rate increases based on pre-existing conditions, gender, or occupation

• Group purchasing power of a national pool if you have to buy your own plan

• Guaranteed, affordable oral health and vision care for kids


• Keep your doctor and your plan if you like them

• More plan choices, including a high-quality public health insurance option that would compete with private companies


• An end to coverage denials for pre-existing conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, or cancer

• Get the care you need with an end to lifetime limits

• Job and life choices will no longer be based on health care coverage


• Doctors-- not insurance companies-- in charge of health care decisions

Why are those in Congress adamant about thwarting health care reform? Could it be lobbyists? Nah.

And so it goes.


Gays to Obama: "We've Seen Enough."

From Wayne Besen writing at HuffPo. Here's just a snippet:

For what seemed like forever, Democrats told us that when the big bad Republicans went away, our lives would improve. Well, the Republican nightmare is over, so why do I still feel like I'm in the middle of a political Friday the 13th movie?

The Democrats took our money, our votes and our volunteer hours and now they tell us to wait patiently, like good little gays. As far as I'm concerned, if the donkeys can't deliver now, they can kiss my ass.** The Democrats run the show in Washington and if they will not act like a majority party, then they do not deserve to be one.

This is not about making unreasonable policy demands, but about the Democrats recognizing the daily struggles faced by gay people. A new report by The National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs said, "Violence against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people increased 2% from 2007 to 2008, continuing the trend of a 24% total increase in 2007."

Yesterday, I read about a lesbian who was barred from visiting her partner in a Fresno hospital, and as a result her partner received the wrong medication. Last week, I was in conservative Western Michigan where I spoke to young people who were nearly driven to suicide as a result of anti-gay attitudes.

We need a president who recognizes these evils and demonstrates the courage and leadership to enact the change he so eloquently promised during his campaign.

**Emphasis mine.

Read it all HERE.

More later.

A Caturday Beauty

And Kevin Richardson ain't too bad, either. Here's a bit more...

Warms the heart on a dreary, humid caturday.

More later.

Friday, June 19, 2009

A Sunshiney Day

The Planets aligned in my favour today and a happy camper am I.

The sun rose into a clear sky for the first time in FOUR days - and it was good.
There was little humidity all day - and that was good.
The Kitchenaid stainless steel saucepan I ordered arrived and was purchased on the way in to work - and it was very good.
The mystery package waiting at the post office contained a bottle of Absinthe - and that is better than good.
The letter from the IRS apologizing for THEIR error arrived at the post office - and that was damned good!
The work day at job #2 went smoothly and very well - and it was good.

While there is a threat of thunderboomers this evening, the air smells clean and fresh and the light breeze rustling the sheers is cooling the apartment.

Next up:
Gin and tonic

I have a real day off tomorrow and no plans to speak of - and that's the best.

More later.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Delaware non-descrimination bill voted out of committee

Action is needed. Just received this in an email.
The Senate Insurance Committee reported SB121 (the non-discrimination bill) out of committee by a vote of 5 YES and 0 NO on Wed, June 17th!

Similar bills have been known HB99, HB36, HB5. This bill would add the term “sexual orientation” to the already-existing list of prohibited practices of discrimination -- forbidding discrimination against a person on the basis of sexual orientation in housing, employment, public works contracting, public accommodations, and

Next steps...
The full Senate is scheduled to debate and vote on the bill Tues, June 23, 2009 at Leg Hall in Dover. The public is welcome to attend - just bring your photo id.

IF there is a majority vote in the Senate in favor of this bill, it will move to the House for a vote. IF there is a majority vote in the House, the bill would go to the Governor's desk for signature.


PLEASE CALL the legislators that have “gone out on a limb” to support
this bill and thank them for their leadership & support. These
elected officials are getting “beat up” for standing up and doing the
right thing. A simple ‘thank you’ can do wonders.

Senator David P. Sokola (302) 744-4139
Senator Karen Peterson (302) 744-4163
Senator Patricia Blevins (302) 744-4133
Rep. “Pete” Schwartzkopf (302) 744-4351
Rep. “Bill” Oberle Jr. (302) 744-4171
Senator Catherine Cloutier (302) 744-4197
Senator Bethany Hall-Long (302) 744-4286
Senator Harris McDowell III (302) 744-4147
Senator Margaret Rose Henry (302) 744-4191
Senator Brian Bushweller (302) 744-4162

Calls often are better than e-mail. But if you don’t feel comfortable calling, please send an e-mail. (E-mail addresses are available via the links below).

No need for prepared remarks – just call, leave a SIMPLE message with a staff person – thanking the Senator/Representative for their support and asking them to vote in favor of SB 121, the non-discrimination bill. You may be asked for your name and home address.

PLEASE CALL the other State Senators/Representatives and ask them to
support SB121:
State Senators:
State Representatives:

SB121 (the non-discrimination bill) can be viewed via:
A bit of good news in an otherwise disappointing week for our community. Do what you can to help.

More later.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Obama Betrays Gay Community

From AMERICAblog's John Aravosis, an opinion piece at Salon.

Here's a taste:.
June 17, 2009 | Team Obama keeps telling lesbian and gay Americans like me to be patient. If we just wait a little longer, administration officials whisper to us lovingly (and out of earshot of the media), after the White House finishes with healthcare reform and getting the troops out of Iraq, your time will come. In the meantime, cheer up -- we put a gay band in the inaugural parade!

Everyone loves a parade, but we don't like being betrayed. And while gay and lesbian Americans were initially willing to cut our new president some slack, the president's now-clear reticence to follow through on even one of his many campaign promises to the gay community has put the Democratic Party on the precipice of an ugly and very public divorce with this once-solid constituency.

During the presidential primaries, then-candidate Obama promoted himself as the biggest defender of gay rights since Harvey Milk. He would be a "fierce advocate" for our rights, he promised, and he even out-gayed Hillary Clinton: telling gay and lesbian voters that while she was for a partial repeal of the so-called Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), he'd get rid of the whole damn thing.

And there was much rejoicing.

Then, not so much.

About a year before the November election, primary challenger Obama invited Donnie McClurkin, a homophobic gospel singer who claims to have been "cured" of his own homosexuality, to lead a series of concerts in the South in order to woo the black vote. The gays were not amused, but candidate Obama held firm. The gays forgave the Big O until a year later, when then-President-elect Obama chose evangelical preacher (and well-known homophobe) Rick Warren to give the inaugural prayer. Again, the gays expressed their ire, Obama wouldn't budge, and his advisors continued to whisper sweet nothings in our ears about how glorious the future would be once Dear Leader was finally in office.

But a funny thing happened on the way to equality. Rather than clouds opening up and angels descending from on high, Barack Obama became president and things never got better for the gays. In fact, they got decidedly worse.
The rest is HERE. (There is one pop up, but just close it and read on.)

And so it goes.

LGBT ATM is Shutting Down

From Pam's House Blend, with quotes from others:
Your pressure is working, Blenders. This administration, the Congress and the DNC need to see the LGBT ATM shut down. NOW. That June 26 LGBT DNC fundraiser is toast. No one is buying a partner benefit plan that doesn't include health insurance, for god's sake. Will he announce an effort to send Congress something to act on? Uh, keep dreaming - his DOJ just wrote up a brief that uses defenses against incest and underage marriage to claim our relationships are unworthy of equal treatment under the law. They can't unring that bell.

Read it all HERE.

The Obama administration just keeps stepping in it.

More later.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

National Equality March, 2009

There is this from JMG:

Cleve Jones: We Have The Permit, The March On Washington Is Definitely On

Speaking with me by phone this afternoon, activist Cleve Jones confirmed that despite earlier reports that the National Mall was previously booked and unavailable, he does have a permit from the Parks Department for a Columbus Day weekend March On Washington. "We put in a request for the West Lawn of the Capitol, where the Obama inauguration took place, and we got it. Nobody else had applied for it," said Jones.

Jones added, "We've been getting nothing but complete cooperation from all the authorities - the DC police, the mayor, the Parks Service. They told us, 'Go ahead, you've got it. Put the word out.' They are happy to work with us and are expecting a lot of people."

I asked Jones if he could provide a physical copy of the permit. He explained, "You put in your application, they approve it and time-stamp it, and that's all they give you for weeks. The actual paperwork usually isn't issued until ten days before or so." Jones claims that two of the other events reportedly scheduled to occur on the planned weekend will not, in fact, take place. (I've been unable to find any internet mention of the "Million Man March For God", one of the three events listed in the above-linked post.) The third scheduled event, an annual breast cancer awareness rally, is run by a group that Jones said has worked side-by-side with him many times in previous years when their events coincided with National Mall displays by the NAMES Project. He expects friendly cooperation from them.

As to the cost of putting on the weekend, Jones stresses that the MOW will be a stripped down, no frills, purely activism-focused event. "This will not be a three day mulit-media spectacular" he said. "Most of the hundreds of protests I've organized cost nothing. We will have a minimal stage, a sound system, and enough port-a-potties for the crowd. That's it. We won't be flying in celebrities and putting them up in fancy hotels. This will be a two hour march, then a two hour rally, and then sending everybody home to their congressional districts to organize for 2010." Jones said that in addition to a Sunday rally on the West Lawn, he is hoping to put together a Saturday night candlelight HIV/AIDS vigil at the Lincoln Memorial, but won't have confirmation of that item for a few days.

Regarding the MOW's timing, Jones has this to say: "It's a three day weekend, it's easier to travel, and the weather is usually very good. That's why previous marches have taken place on that weekend. Much has been said about Congress not being in session on that week and that's why we are organizing this march at the congressional district level. This is not a march as we've seen in the past. It's an organizing tool to build a national network of grassroots activists." Jones estimated that "most people on the west coast will be able to come to this march for less than $700."

While opposition to a MOW in 2009 has been quite strong, Jones dismissed the naysayers. "Many of the the people opposing this march are the same people pushing for a repeal of Prop 8 in 2010." Jones questioned the wisdom of continuing to fight local battles for LGBT rights, saying, "It's just an endless state by state, city by city, county by county battle could go on for decades at enormous cost. But if we could shift our focus and seize this historic moment and get federal legislation, get SCOTUS [on our side], we could end it all at the federal level. People in leadership seem so invested in an incredibly long, local level, deeply impermanent struggle."

Jones issued this call to action: "We should be saying, 'Enough of this, we demand full equality under civil law.' We should be marching, engaging in nonviolent civil disobedience every day. We have a window, but it's already starting to close. If you think you're going to get anything out of Obama in the second half of his term, you don't know anything about political history. In a year, he'll be in full re-election mode."

Referring to today's DOJ-DOMA news, Jones closed with this: "It's so clear that Obama and the Democratic leadership are turning their backs on us. If we don't go for it now, we'll get nothing. It's beginning to smell a lot like Clinton."
Short and sweet, I like that.

I hope the organizers can keep this one focused on the important issues that are in need of immediate attention.

Here's the first promo video:

More later.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

The Queen's Veggie Garden

Well, there is an uproar in the UK by those who want to raise their own food because prices are through the roof there, too. I just love this story - and the colour coordinated umbrella. (Click image to embiggen.)

They were called Victory Gardens here in the US.

From the Telegraph:
For the first time since the Second World War vegetables are being grown in the Palace's grounds alongside ornamental plants. The move comes amid a surge in demand from people up and down the country to have their own allotment to grow their food during the recession.

The Queen's organic vegetable patch is about 10 yards by eight yards in size. It is at the rear of the garden in an area which is called the Yard Bed.

Guests attending the Queen's garden parties will be able to see her new allotment over the summer.

"The Queen is very keen on gardens in general and she is always willing to try out new things," said a royal source. "She attends the Chelsea Flower Show each year and has always been fond of Kew Gardens."

Claire Midgley, the Deputy Gardens Manager, last week showed the Queen a variety of vegetables that are being grown, including runner beans, "Stuttgarter" onions, "Musselburgh" leeks, sweetcorn, "Red Ace" beetroot, "Fly Away" carrots and an endangered variety of climbing French beans called "Blue Queen".

No chemicals have been used to cultivate the allotment sites. Liquid sea-weed has been used to feed the plants and forms of garlic are being used to deter aphids.

Like the rest of the garden, water from the palace borehole is used to irrigate the plants. Mulch from the palace's compost heap has been used to bed the vegetables in.
Now, did you know that Buckingham Palace had a compost heap of its very own? Well, I wouldn't have expected it to be on the grounds proper, but...You learn something new every day...

Read it all HERE.

DOMA: A More Likely Scenario

From a forum at DU by Political Tiger:
  • Despite all the hoopla, the assertion that "Obama defends DOMA" simply is NOT true.
  • You see, the Department of Justice has a legal obligation to defend the United States when it is a party to a criminal or civil action. This has already been pointed out by some people and promptly dismissed by those determined to lay all the blame on Obama, however, try to deny that truth as one might, it is the truth.
  • This is laid out under Title 28, Section 547 of the United States Code:
  • United States Attorneys conduct most of the trial work in which the United States is a party. The United States Attorneys have three statutory responsibilities under Title 28, Section 547 of the United States Code:
  • •the prosecution of criminal cases brought by the Federal government;
  • •the prosecution and defense of civil cases in which the United States is a party; and
  • •the collection of debts owed the Federal government which are administratively uncollectible.
  • But....but....but it's still Obama's fault! It had to be cleared with Obama! Obama had to have OKed the brief! Obama's hand is all over this! Obama hates the gays........
  • WRONG!
  • You see, under The United States Department of Justice - United States Attorneys Manual, TITLE 1; DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE ORGANIZATION AND FUNCTIONS ( ), there is a section titled "Department of Justice Communications with the White House" ( ).
  • Under Section 32:
---Read it all HERE.

This makes more sense to me than the other accusations, but hey, when you've gotten the shitty end of the stick so often it pays to be skeptical. Working with the probable truth is much better than worst case scenarios, isn't it?

Stay tuned.

And, I WANT to believe this president's word is good for us all. But, that's just me.

More later.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

A Job #2 Mystery

Paging Inspector Clouseau...

So there I was at job #2 yesterday preparing for the day and setting up for the wait staff. One errand sent me to the basement and as I rounded a corner at top speed almost slammed into a... baby carriage! Imagine my surprise, I thought, WTF?

Then it all came back:

Memorial day weekend a young couple, apparently with a baby, chose to dine at the restaurant. It was raining so they covered the little darling with plastic more to protect the expensive Pram than the little one, I think. However, the state fire code frowns on baby strollers or carriages of any sort in restaurants and the couple had to leave the carriage in the corner of the entryway.

It was a busy Sunday night, being Memorial weekend and all, and no one noticed until the end of the night that the carriage was still in the entryway covered with plastic. To be sure the little one was not left "by mistake" (ahem!) the interior was checked carefully. No baby, thank G*d. It appears the family and their party had a few too many margaritas and simply forgot the pram and left. They would have had to see it on the way out. Hard to miss something that big. You'd think it might have triggered a memory, no? Well, no.

So everyone assumed the couple would return Monday to retrieve their expensive treasure for their bundle of joy.

When I arrived for work that Tuesday morning I saw a mound of plastic on four wheels and had no idea what the story surrounding it was. Clearly, the couple had not returned for the pram Monday, but everyone was convinced they would be back for it. By Friday it was annoying and in everyone's way, so the owners decided to store it in the basement until the family returned for it.

Now people leave strange things (not only sun glasses, hats, scarves) in restaurants - oh the things left behind and the stories I could tell - but they're usually retrieved quickly.

My almost collision was a shock. What sort of parents would leave an expensive carriage at a beach resort restaurant? Maybe they got drunk that night, but surely would have remembered something that large was missing sooner or later. Three weeks on, it remains in the basement.

Out of sight, out of mind, perhaps? Or, something more...Imaginations are going wild on this case.

More later

Obama DOJ Defends DOMA

As Rev. Gene Robinson recently told the Hotline in the National Journal, “patience is wearing thin” with President Obama. The LGBT will not be marginalized and taken for granted. Here's part of the press release issued Friday by the NGLTF:

We are very surprised and deeply disappointed in the manner in which the Obama administration has defended the so-called Defense of Marriage Act against Smelt v. United States, a lawsuit brought in federal court in California by a married same-sex couple asking the federal government to treat them equally with respect to federal protections and benefits. The administration is using many of the same flawed legal arguments that the Bush administration used. These arguments rightly have been rejected by several state supreme courts as legally unsound and obviously discriminatory.

We disagree with many of the administration’s arguments, for example that DOMA is a valid exercise of Congress’s power, is consistent with Equal Protection or Due Process principles, and does not impinge upon rights that are recognized as fundamental.

We are also extremely disturbed by a new and nonsensical argument the administration has advanced suggesting that the federal government needs to be “neutral” with regard to its treatment of married same-sex couples in order to ensure that federal tax money collected from across the country not be used to assist same-sex couples duly married by their home states. There is nothing “neutral” about the federal government’s discriminatory denial of fair treatment to married same-sex couples: DOMA wrongly bars the federal government from providing any of the over one thousand federal protections to the many thousands of couples who marry in six states. This notion of “neutrality” ignores the fact that while married same-sex couples pay their full share of income and social security taxes, they are prevented by DOMA from receiving the corresponding same benefits that married heterosexual taxpayers receive.

The rest is HERE.

It's feet to the fire time, friends.

UPDATE: From Towleroad.

For the record, here's the official response the White House sent Towleroad (also sent to other media) to the uproar over the Department of Justice's motion for dismissal of the federal same-sex marriage case:

"As it generally does with existing statutes, the Justice Department is defending the law on the books in court. The President has said he wants to see a legislative repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act because it prevents LGBT couples from being granted equal rights and benefits. However, until Congress passes legislation repealing the law, the administration will continue to defend the statute when it is challenged in the justice system."

More later.

Celtic Caturday

From here, as usual. Click image to embiggen.

More later.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Another Day in Paradise

A severe weather bulletin before leaving this morning about fast moving thunderboomers heading our way attracted my attention, but the sky was only a bit hazy when I hit the road. However, when I looked into the rearview mirror as I headed south, the northern sky was menacing, almost black. The storms were still pretty far north, so I made a scheduled stop at the pharmacy to pick up a prescription and a few items before going in to work.

As I headed to the check out, a storm of intense ferocity hit the area that caused the building to shake as the rain, wind, hale, lightening and thunder rolled through with the roar of a 747 jet.

Genius that I am, I took precautions by bringing along an umbrella, rain slicker, and hat. Unfortunately, they were in the car when the storm blew in.

So I meandered around the drug store for about a half hour - not having meandered in years - discovering things that I had no idea would be on the shelves of a drug store. When there was a slack in the rain I made a run for the car - big mistake - the rain decided to increase as I was dashing through the parking lot. I got soaked to the skin

I lead a charmed life, no?

Making my way to the park-n-ride for the bus into town I observed the most bizarre lightening strike very close by. Unlike usual strikes this one remained virtually still - from clouds to ground - for seconds. It felt as though time stood still. And as soon as it retreated, the following thunder actually shook the car, rattling loose items in the glove box. Scary!!! This strike was VERY close. It was (I pray) a once in a lifetime visual event. I love thunderstorms, but only when I am in a safe place and can watch the action through a window. I would not enjoy viewing this storm again.

I learned later in the day that the strike hit a home in an upscale neighborhood and the house burned to the ground. Thank G*d, no one was home at the time. Yes, this is a very small town...

Meanwhile at job #2, A very handsome Russian guy looking for summer work came in with his girlfriend to collect an application, looked at me and said, "do you know you have beautiful eyes, you should not be sad" he then gave me the biggest bear hug I have ever had. His girlfriend smiled, then hugged me, too. They were probably in their 30s - I am old enough to be their father. OK, I survived.

Following my after-shift cocktail I caught the bus back to the car park wondering if I had an apartment to return to, and suddenly thought what a relief it would be if there was nothing. Seriously. I don't care about 'things' anymore. I have only held on to pieces of art that make me happy and a few of my own photographs; music CDs, but not many, and DVDs I will watch over and over until I die.

A blank slate would be nice. I need a different life.

And so it goes.

Monday, June 8, 2009

If this was Jesus...

I just couldn't resist. (Click to embiggen.)

More later.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Auschwitz: A Message in a Bottle

Seems appropriate to the events of yesterday and today:
Builders working near the site of the Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp have found a message in a bottle written by prisoners, museum officials say.

The message, written in pencil and dated 9 September 1944, bears names, camp numbers and home towns of seven young inmates from Poland and France.

At least two survived the Nazi camp, an Auschwitz museum official said.

The bottle was buried in a concrete wall in a school that prisoners had been compelled to reinforce.

The school's buildings, a few hundred metres from the camp, were used as warehouses by the Nazis, who wanted them protected against air raids.

Museum experts have checked the authenticity of the note, the Associated Press news agency reported.

Six of the prisoners were from Poland and one was from France, AP said. "All of them are between the ages of 18 and 20," the final sentence of the note reads.

An Auschwitz museum spokesman said the authors of the note "were young people who were trying to leave some trace of their existence behind them".

The Nazis murdered some 1.1 million people at Auschwitz - mainly European Jews, but also non-Jewish Poles, Roma (Gypsies), homosexuals, and others.
Between 18 and 20 years old! Their lives were - or should have been - ahead of them. Think hard on that bit. Never again, indeed.

And so it goes.

GLBT Groups Impatient with Obama

From Politico:

President Barack Obama’s promises of change are falling short for one core Democratic constituency: gays and lesbians, whose leaders say Obama’s administration isn’t keeping up with the times.

Gay rights campaigners, most of them Democrats who supported Obama in November, have begun to voice their public frustration with Obama’s inaction, small jokes at their community’s expense and deafening silence on what they see as the signal civil rights issue of this era.

His most important campaign promises repealing the Defense of Marriage Act and the military ban on openly gay and lesbian service-members have not been fulfilled.

And the news, which emerged quietly earlier this year, that he’d supported same-sex marriage back in 1996, then changed his mind, especially rankles. As mainstream Democratic politicians such as Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) move to support same-sex marriage, gay rights advocates say that the barrier-breaking president looks increasingly odd for opposing what they see as full equality.

“Obama is out of step with his party, which is overwhelmingly in favor of marriage at this stage,” said David Mixner, a veteran gay rights activist who is among the organizers of a march on Washington for same-sex marriage scheduled for this fall. “He’s out of step with the next generation.”

Gay rights issues have been moving at breakneck speed, none faster than same-sex marriage. Most public opinion polls now show more than 40 percent of Americans support same-sex marriage, seen as a fringe issue just a few years earlier. Already, five New England states and Iowa have same-sex marriage laws on the books.

“Politicians are finding out that their voters are moving faster than they anticipated,” said Democratic pollster Celinda Lake, who called Obama’s place behind that curve “surprising, because he is the next-generational candidate.”

She noted that Obama could be concerned about alienating older voters in the Midwest who would be turned off if he came out in support of same-sex marriage.

The piece makes some very good points and can be read HERE.

While I think he needs a bit more time it's good to begin the push now - and keep pushing.

More later.


Caturday Shakespeare

More later.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Katrina. NOLA. The Gulf. - Continued

Will this nightmare ever end? At least our new President didn't turn his back on them this time.
NEW ORLEANS – Thousands of Gulf Coast hurricane victims who have missed deadline after deadline to leave their federal housing are being offered additional help and the chance to buy trailers for as little as $1 as the government seeks to avoid mass evictions.

For weeks, officials have been warning people displaced by Katrina and Rita in 2005 that their federally supplied trailers and mobile homes might be repossessed if they stay.

Instead, President Barack Obama's administration said Wednesday the federal government will offer $50 million in new housing vouchers and give residents the option of buying their units if they meet safety standards and local zoning rules.

Federal Emergency Management Agency spokesman Clark Stevens described it as an effort to "responsibly close out the agency's temporary housing mission."

About 3,300 households remain in federally supplied trailers and mobile homes in Louisiana and Mississippi, down from a high of 143,000 along the Gulf Coast after the storms.

Residents previously had the option to buy their trailers and mobile homes — smaller, travel trailers were excluded — but now the government is offering the units at rock-bottom prices to alleviate any cost concerns and help those who haven't decided what to do make up their minds.

Jacqueline Frederick, who was emotionally drained and fighting back tears last week as the deadline to leave her mobile home in southeast Louisiana approached, gasped when she heard about the reprieve. Her husband, Anthony, was more skeptical, given the couple's difficulty in securing subsidized housing to date.

"They've made so many promises," the 60-year-old said Wednesday. "I won't believe anything until something happens. Maybe a month after it happens."

State officials and residents' advocates sought a firmer understanding of the plan, its implications and how quickly the promised aid might reach the local level. Davida Finger, who works with low-income residents on housing issues as a staff attorney with the Loyola University law clinic, said her voice mail was full.
Read the rest here.

I read these stories and continue to shake my head in disgust. It is FOUR years on and residents of the Gulf remain in limbo.

And so it goes.

Which One?

h/t THC

More later

Thursday, June 4, 2009

One of those days...

Come on. You've had them. Whatever can go wrong goes disastrously wrong. Today was one of those. I haven't posted recently because working 6 or 7 day weeks doesn't leave time for much else.

NOTE: Thanks to my grandfather, I've never used an alarm clock.

It began when I woke up later than usual. I am usually good at figuring out the time by the sunrise. Not so, today. The heavy cloud cover lulled me into believing it was earlier than it was. Then I gazed at the clock and sprang out of bed. Did the necessaries (thank G*d I showered last night) and made it out the door only 10 minutes later than usual. As I was leaving my landlady gave me a piece of mail. It was from the IRS! That didn't register at that moment - getting to work was the first concern.

No sweat, I thought. No coffee, no breakfast food, but no problem. I had lunch and a snack to get through the day.

However, an ugly accident between a cement truck and a small Ford brought everything to a standstill for 20 minutes. The plan had been to hit the supermarket before work for a few items needing no refrigeration, and the rest of the list afterward. That was now out of the question.

Arrived at the car park at work only to find no spaces within close proximity to the store - oh, and it was now raining very hard. I had no slicker. By the time I entered the store I was drenched and cold. Fortunately, I had a tee-shirt in my pack so I hung the work shirt to dry, praying it would dry before I opened the store. It did.

The store was ready and open on time and I was fairly busy all day - no sale - but busy all day. Not good.

I was more than ready to get out of there when my relief arrived, so I could finally get the groceries and back to the apartment before the evening thunderstorms blew through.

The fave supermarket (where I am well known) is near work, so I arrived, grabbed a cart, pulled out the list and began checking off items in record time. Ran into a number of folks I know and enjoyed a brief chat with them before heading to the checkout. The woman ahead of me was trying to get away with a store special of 2 cartons of a premium ice cream for $6.00 by buying 8 cartons! The cashier kindly pointed out that the limit was 4 cartons and the old bitch promptly went batshit crazy. She was eventually led away to have a meeting with the manager as the ice cream melted in her cart.

My items were already on the belt and as I reached for the wallet a cold chill ran down my spine. I. HAD. NO. WALLET!

Yes, I remembered lunch this morning but in the rush forgot my wallet resting peacefully on my chest of drawers. I quickly apologized to Kelly the cashier, and began putting the items back into the cart to return them to the respective shelves. I must have looked a wreck. Kelly touched my hand and said, "I'll take care of that for you. Looks like you're having one of those days."

Bless you Kelly, you are psychic and a dear.

More later.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Hurricane barriers suggested to keep sea out of NYC

I found this interesting since most of America mistakenly believes that all is right with the world in NOLA. I would also suggest that if you read the entire article you read the comments by New Orleanians, as well as those of less informed outsiders. NOLA folks have a sense of humor and G*d knows, they need it. This from AP:
NEW YORK -- When experts sketch out nightmare hurricane scenarios, a New York strike tends to be high on the list.

Besides shaking skyscrapers, a major hurricane could send the Atlantic Ocean surging into the nation's largest city, flooding Wall Street, subways and densely packed neighborhoods.

As a new hurricane season starts Monday, some scientists and engineers are floating an ambitious solution: Barriers to choke off the surging sea and protect flood-prone areas.

The plan involves deploying giant barriers and gates that would move into place -- in some cases rising out of the water -- for storms. One proposal calls for a 5-mile-long barrier between New Jersey and Queens.

No one has formally proposed the structures, which would require extensive government reviews and billions of dollars.

But a first-ever conference on the subject this spring drew 100 researchers and engineers, who provided various conceptual designs. City emergency management officials say they're interested in hearing more if details develop.

Some scientists have questioned whether the barriers would be environmentally sound and socially equitable. But proponents say the structures could offer the best chance of preventing catastrophe in a city with hundreds of miles of shoreline, nearly 8.3 million residents and a vast web of crucial underground infrastructure.

New Yorkers are "living under the volcano, and people haven't thought about it," says Douglas Hill, an engineer who began discussing the idea several years ago with Stony Brook University oceanography professor Malcolm J. Bowman.

Warnings that New Orleans faced disaster from a major hurricane proved devastatingly true, they note, when Katrina struck in August 2005. The storm breached levees, flooded most of the city and killed more than 1,500 people in New Orleans and elsewhere.

The rest is HERE.

I wonder how long before the truth about the "lost" towns of Katrina is finally revealed. Bay St. Louis, Waveland, etc. This story (unfortunately) continues. The legacy of George W. Bush.

More later.


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