Monday, December 22, 2008

Don We Now Our Gay Apparel

I'm not gay, but I support the "gay agenda." I wonder, if you're only pushing one issue, do you have an agendum? If so, gay-bashing would seem a failed, Rovian political stratagem that should have receded along with the power of the bitch-slapped GOP after the last election, so that gays and lesbians might enter a new dawn of equal protection under the law. It would seem, that is, until two things happened; Proposition 8, an initiative banning same-sex marriage, passed in California; and Barack Obama invited one of the bill's primary advocates to deliver the invocation at his forthcoming inaugural. To paraphrase the Three 6 Mafia, "It's hard out here for a gay."

While the majority of the populous is preparing to celebrate their new president, homosexuals must endure the galling sight of Rick Warren, pastor of the ironically named Saddleback Church near Los Angeles, delivering the invocation. Warren is the author of the bestseller, "The Purpose Driven Life," which received a lot of press a couple of years ago after that woman in Georgia read it to a rapist-killer, and he decided, with the assistance of a little meth, to allow her to live. Warren's philosophy may work for outlaws, but Rachel Maddow has reported on the fine print, now removed, from the Saddleback Church's website that said homosexuals who were unrepentant of their gay lifestyle would not be welcomed as congregants. (Did you notice how I so delicately avoided saying "church members?") That's reminiscent of a country club that bans Jews, or putting up a sign that says, "We Reserve the Right to Refuse Service to Anyone," and Warren is supposed to be one of the newer thinking evangelists that believe that climate change and the AIDS scourge are worthy of Christian attention. I suppose that gays are the last minority at which you can still throw stones, even forty years after the 1969 New York Stonewall riots. Before that, police were allowed to rough up and toss someone in jail for being publicly gay. You haven't come a long way, baby.

We were discussing how downright sorrowful it is that in this year of societal evolution, gays should suffer such a setback that rights granted them by the power of the state, could be taken back by a fear-driven ballot initiative. Melody said that everyone knows that you are born gay, and this discrimination is like hating someone because they have green eyes. I answered, "Not exactly, we all know what's at the core of this hatred, and it is "the act." Melody replied, "If that's what it is, then you're spending way too much time thinking about something that's not your business." But if it's not the act, why is it that so many homophobes seem to have no problem with lesbianism, especially if the chicks are hot? Melody is correct. Someone is born gay or they're not. Who would ask for all that tsuris? We all knew gay children with whom we grew up, but in the immortal words of Chris Rock, "they just didn't have anyone to be gay with" yet.

Candidate Obama could be infuriating, even to his most ardent supporters, during the campaign when he refused to engage his detractors. Then, after he won the nomination by running to the left of Hillary Clinton, his sprint back to the center was rivaled only by Ussain Bolt. I understand what Obama is attempting to do with the Rick Warren invitation. He's trying to bridge a gap between himself and "people of faith" who didn't vote for him in the first place and never will. But aside from Rick Warren's public comparisons of homosexuality with incest and pedophilia, Barack Obama is playing politics with God. This Saddleback symbolism may pacify some, but it violates the human code of conscience which demands, "First, do no harm." Not even the benediction by the sainted Reverend Joseph Lowery can't gloss over this bit of "scratch my back" politics with the Evangelical Right. It's sort of like putting lipstick on a pig.

Obama defended his choice of Pastor Warren and added that the message of the campaign was to promote dialogue between differing groups. Barack added that he had been "a fierce advocate for gay and lesbian Americans," while simultaneously opposing gay marriage. With heterosexual marriages failing at the rate of one out of two, and the out-of-wedlock birth rate skyrocketing even while the stigma of unwed pregnancy fades as we watch the gestation of the Palin teen, shouldn't we, as a society, be encouraging long-term relationships between loving couples, even of the same sex? Wouldn't that dampen the sexual promiscuity that the fundamentalists so despise, and lower the risk of acquiring AIDS in homosexual men? For those who consider same-sex marriage a threat to the public good, others still believe in the pursuit of happiness and the redemptive power of love. I think either John Lennon or Jesus taught that, too.

In this festive season of goodwill toward men, that should include gay men and women as well. And in this time of political renewal and the promise of a more just society, I take President-elect Obama at his word that he will be a "fierce advocate," for the only dis-included group at his upcoming gala. I understand that gays will march in the inaugural parade, but at the risk of aggravating straights by acting-up. Their mere presence has already been unjustly illuminated. Mainstream society's delusion is that this Rip Taylor, gay caricature has been accepted to be the norm, rather than the low-keyed, respectable citizen working at the desk next to yours, who also happens to be gay. That is who I wish Obama had considered before extending the invitation to Rick Warren to utter the opening words of a new era. A far better choice for the invocation would have been the Reverend Al Green of Memphis. Reverend Green has made it abundantly clear through his ministry and his music that his major concerns are "Love and Happiness." It makes you want to moan for love. The constitutionality of Proposition 8 will yet be tested by the California Supreme Court, so Merry Christmas everybody, and fight the power.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Magical History Tour

The criminal Bush has been making the rounds lately, trying to convince everyone that he wasn't that bad, but at every turn he continues to step on his dick. Bush told Fox "News," "I didn't compromise my soul to be a popular guy." What soul? And now that Sen. Carl Levin has mentioned the potential for indictments concerning cases of state torture and violating the Geneva Conventions, Bush can look forward to being a very popular guy in Federal Prison. Leaked GOP talking points encouraged Bushies to say that he "maintained the honor and dignity of the office." I guess that means he didn't diddle an intern on his desk. But I would have much preferred he screwed his secretary instead of the Constitution. We're all the blue dress now. Fortunately, George picked up some Iraqi shoes to match.

The shoe dodging video is like a good Beatles album where you recognize something new with every listening, in this case viewing. My initial reaction was shock and outrage. After all, Goober is my president, too. And although I detest the man, his smug, willful ignorance, and the wreckage he has created in the world, I never wished him personal harm. I've often thought that perhaps if someone had kicked his ass 35 or 40 years ago, it might have done wonders for his humility problems, but what purpose would that serve now? Still, the shoe tosser might have heaved something more dangerous while the Secret Service was having a coffee klatch in the back room. I understand they scanned the crowd for weapons and the Iraqi journalist was known by the people in attendance. They said the same thing about Jack Ruby.

Bush passed it off as a messy expression of democracy. Hell, he never even stopped chewing his gum. In true Democracies, however, you don't hear the protester's screams in the next room while the Prime Minister's bone breakers assure him an extended stay in the hospital. Now, the Iraqi journalist/shoe tosser is a folk hero in the Arab world, and even much of the Western world, for one reason; he is the only outraged civilian Bush has had to face in eight years. In my questioning of the Secret Service's reactions, I'd forgotten that there are millions of angry people in the world who would literally die for proximity to Bush, and the true miracle of the Service's protection is that the only harm done to the President in his entire term was by a pretzel.

For eight years, Bush's audience's have been so carefully screened, if they were not big money donors or soldiers, he couldn't get a word out for the shouts and boos. His bubble is so thick, he hasn't so much been heckled in public, and yet he continues to portray himself as merely a victim of circumstance. All those bad things- war, rendition, wiretapping, corruption, economic collapses, hurricanes- just happened to take place while Bush was busy doing the nation's business. Only that one lonely protester in New Orleans that shouted, "Go fuck yourself, Mister Cheney," got through to this gang. Cheney is so contemptuous of the public and the law, he's admitted approving "harsh interrogation techniques" against detainees. In effect, Cheney is saying to the next Justice Department, "bring 'em on." Thus far, Cheney has been accountable to no one, so let the investigations begin, the subpoenas fly, and the chips fall.

This group still believes that in ten years, if Iraq is self-governing, that they will be vindicated by history. Kissinger thought that too, about the carpet bombing of North Vietnam. In the end, it's the casualties that can never be forgiven, and to date, there are 4,209 U.S. soldiers confirmed dead, and another 30,000 wounded. estimates 1,284,105 dead Iraqi civilians, (other estimates go from 100,000 to 2 million. The figure is not officially recorded), and an additional 2.5 million people displaced. In that light, "A kiss goodbye from the Iraqi people," in the form of a flying shoe is a fairly mild protest for a "dirty dog." It's a good thing that when someone says "lame duck," Bush takes it literally.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Governors Gone Wild

Imagine this as a screenplay. Right before Christmas, a factory in Chicago gets their credit cut off by a greedy banker, played, of course, by Michael Douglas, and the company fires the entire workforce without even the benefits they have worked to earn. The workers, led by John Leguizamo and Jamie Lee Curtis, urge their companions to protest and, just like Rosa Parks, they finally get tired and decide to sit down. They believe they're going to jail, but the sympathetic police captain, Morgan Freeman, who used to be a working stiff, is hesitant to arrest anyone so close to Christmas. Two days later, the factory is surrounded by media and supporters and even the newly elected President, Denzel Washington, voices his support. But here's where the plot gets tricky. The workers' sit-in gets so much attention that the Governor, already under investigation, decides to get involved.

The arrogant Governor of Illinois, played by Alec Baldwin because of the hair and the temperament, comes to the workers' aid and puts pressure on the mega-bank, in this case we'll call it the Bank of America, to come off of some of the $25 Billion they've just been given by the government, to help out the working man. This makes the CEO of BoA, Kevin Spacey, worried about company image and his pension, and the Board goes into conference to consider the Governor's threats to cut off all state business with the bank. The next morning, the Governor's threats look like extortion as he is hooked up and carried away by the FBI who have been listening to his conversations, just as he invited them to do. Gary Hart appears here as himself. They even hear his greedy wife screaming in the background about appointed jobs and lucrative positions. I know it sounds impractical, but I really believe Kim Basinger could give an Oscar turn in this role. But just as things look grimmest for the factory workers, and they watch as their main supporter does a perp-walk, the bank decides it's Christmas time and peels off a few singles from their wad of billions and gives it to the company owners, Ben Kingsley and Judd Hirsch. I haven't decided yet if the bosses will give the money to the workers, or buy them each a Christmas turkey and kick them out the door.

Cut to a dimly lit office with a smiling President Denzel sitting with his Chief of Staff, portrayed by Hugh Laurie. They are both Chicago politicians and should be concerned that the Governor's arrest will rain on their inaugural parade, but they are chuckling. A recording just turned up where the Governor referred to his former colleague, the President-elect, as a "motherfucker" who would not give him what he wanted, and a no-nonsense Special Prosecutor, Nick Nolte, holds a press conference shredding the disgraced Governor's reputation and exonerating the new President. But here's the kicker. It turns out that the old bareknuckled Chicago poll, the President's Chief of Staff, was the one that blew the whistle on the Illinois Governor in the first place to protect his new boss. The two men clink snifters of cognac before a roaring fire while a montage shows all the factory workers' kids getting just what they wanted for Christmas and the company owners basking in the warmth of their generosity. As Sonny Corleone said to Michael just before he shot the police captain, "Yeah, they just might like a story like that."

Governor Rod Blagojevich, if not ending the Obama honeymoon, at least flushed the toilet while the Love Train was still in the station. He proves that greed, arrogance, and idiocy know no party, yet he is in a class all by himself for naked corruption. I had just written about former Tenn. Governor Ray Blanton and his pardon-selling scandal when Blagojevich goes and puts Obama's former Senate seat on eBay. Tennessee has had corrupt officials, but we only put them in jail one at a time. If, wait-who am I fooling, when Governor Blagojevich is sentenced, he can do time with Illinois' former Governor Ryan, a Republican. In fact, justice would dictate that they be cell mates, with conjugal visits from Bubba and Eugene. This blatant contempt for basic honesty may not taint Obama, but it certainly embarrasses him at an inopportune time, and gives ammunition to his enemies when his concentration needs to be elsewhere. If Blagojevich had a shred of decency, which is questionable, he would take the Elliot Spitzer route; apologize profusely, resign, and disappear. Or as they say in Texas, make like horseshit and hit the old, dusty, trail. The sooner the better.

Friday, December 05, 2008

Singing In The Rain

This is going to be a great Depression. Not with a capital "G" like the 30s, because the tech economy is real and the Depression will be blogged. I heard a TV economist say in regards to the recession that, "it will be longer and deeper than initially imagined." That's what I told my wife on our wedding night and I was lying, too. There is too much entrepreneurial spirit out there to keep the American economy stagnant for long and once we chase the money changers from the Temple, perhaps free enterprise will be a bit freer for all without the old fix in place. Watching the Obama administration come together has been exhilarating just for the pleasure of watching a President who actually knows what he's talking about and can string more than two coherent sentences together. The economy is kicking the crap out of me, but I have such confidence that conditions will improve. It's like when you have a terrible cold and you smoke a joint. You still have the cold, only you don't care as much. I have no health insurance, but Sasha and Melia are adorable.

The question is, can't we speed this thing up? If you've been following the final days of Chuckles, you're aware that Bush would strip mine Jellystone Park if he could get away with it. He's attempting to turn as much public land over to his oil buddies as will fly under the radar and trying to see how many animal species he can bring to the brink of extinction. Tennessee used to have a governor named Ray Blanton who was as crooked as a spring twig. It was discovered that in his lame-duck days, he was selling pardons, or technically, his staff was shopping pardons that he then approved. The citizens of the Volunteer State ended up having to jerk his ass out of there and swear in the new Governor several weeks early to end the crime spree. Al Capone finally went down for income tax evasion, can't we arrest Bush for loitering?

Even the massive bailout of the economy doesn't overly concern me, except for I'd like to know where this barrel of money is that they're doing the bailing from. To paraphrase the late Illinois Senator Everett Dirkson, "Twenty billion here, twenty billion there, soon you're talking about real money." If the banks are hoarding the money, print notes with Bush's picture on them, call them Bush Bucks, and the banks will work late to get them out the door. The Big Three automakers are deserving of scorn for their thirty years of neglect, but I know that they already possess the technology to turn on a dime and start making solid vehicles. It's the oil and gas lobby that has kept the internal combustion engine king, although its planned obsolescence was probably considered along with tail fins. There is a 2006 documentary that you need to see, now on DVD, called "Who Killed The Electric Car?" directed by Chris Paine. These emission free, silent, and powerful vehicles already exist and are in need only of battery charging stations instead of gas stations. Here's a thought: Give them the loan, but put Arnold Schwarzenegger in charge of fiscal discipline.

This dire economy and grim retail season have shown us one thing. If you want the price to drop on a certain commodity, stop buying it. I received dozens of emails about boycotting Exxon or just buying gas on Wednesdays when all that was required to make the price of oil drop like the Times Square New Year's Ball was to stop driving. Oil prices dropped so precipitously, they had to put Ahmedinijad in the hospital for nervous exhaustion. We are a one car family now. I purchased a Honda scooter that gets 85 mpg. Want to know how to decrease the price of electronics, computers, and televisions? Stop buying that shit for awhile, and even customer service might return. My stepson was ultimately glad he didn't buy the iPhone on it's first day of release. So long Circuit City, so long Rite-Aid; you could have done so much better.

The Obama team has shown great skill already in warding off what potentially could have been a general panic and run on the banks. And in foreign affairs, those "Extenze" male enhancement tablets Hillary has been taking finally paid off for her. Now she's got the biggest balls in the cabinet and a job to match. Her selection as Secretary of State was inspired, as was Bill Richardson at Commerce. And you can't help but admire Robert Gates for his patriotic service in staying as Secretary of Defense while we wind down Rumsfeld's and Cheney's dirty business in Iraq. Despite the debris field caused by the Bush era, the cleanup feels well under way. It almost seems like prosperity's just around the corner, every man's a king, a chicken in every pot, and some pot for every chicken. I plan to endure the entertaining economic chaos with my chin up and my eyes open, and if I should falter, tell my family that I fell with my face to the enemy.

Since beginning Born-Again Hippies in 2005, this is my 101st posting. Thank you for reading and all your comments, Randy