Monday, June 29, 2009

Defending the Indefensible DOMA

by Al Falafel
In recent years, several States have guaranteed gay and lesbian couples the freedom to marry as a basic civil right."

Right off, I feel nauseous reading this opening volley in the current assault against the LGBT civil rights movement that comes by way of the Justice Department's Brief filed in a US District Court Case challenging the so-called "Defense of Marriage Act." It sickens me since I know where this is leading.

This is how you start an argument against same-sex marriage as a basic civil right?

It is the height of cynicism, worthy of Karl Rove, Dick Cheney, or George W. Himself, to assert that the issue at the bottom of all this is no issue at all - and never was.
b
This business about "several States [having] guaranteed same-sex couples the freedom to marry" sets the disingenuous tone of this argument, which is carried through the entire brief:
"You uppity perverts should just shut the hell up and be grateful that a few backward states have so graciously - but wrongly - granted you the right to offend us 'real' Americans with your existence and to mock our real marriages-made-in-heaven with your godless fake ones!"

Such heartfelt sentiment was to be expected from the Bush Administration. But - appallingly - it seems to have spilled over into the allegedly gay-friendly Obama Justice Department.

It is, in fact, partly the work of one W. Scott Simpson, a Bush holdover (Mormon by coincidence?) who is named as Senior Trial Counsel on page 1 of the brief filed June 11, 2009.

Since that filing just weeks ago, other Repugnicans have used different language to convey the same sentiment and to advance the same political agenda. In Pennsylvania, for instance, State Sen. John Eichelberger (R. Bumphuk County), has introduced a Constitutional Amendment to ban same-sex marriage in the commonwealth. When asked in an NPR interview if the state's only policy toward same-sex couples should be to punish them, Eichelberger relied on his Repugnican talking point cheat sheet to declare, "They're not being punished! WE'RE ALLOWING THEM TO EXIST," damn it!

No big surprise, perhaps, in the land of "man-on-dog" Santorum to hear a Repugnican saying such things out loud. But what the hell is the Obama Administration and a Democratic-controlled Justice Department doing using those same Repugnican talking points in a case against DOMA? Isn't this is one of the federal benchmarks of institutionalized homophobia that Obama vowed to use the full force of his office to repeal?

Fanning the embers of outrage over Obama's crass betrayal of his LGBT supporters on this key issue was the Administration's hurried response to the initial uproar that began to surround it. Disturbingly, any vocal criticism that may have caught any mainstream attention was quelled by deft political manipulation of the media by Obama's White House response team.

It is the tedious legal language of this motion that caused a few days delay before anybody who could digest it was able to convey how truly damaging it is to the struggle for LGBT civil rights. A few days was time enough, however, for Obama and his handlers to smack together a headline-grabbing proclamation of some "positive" crumb they could toss out there and distract their fuming LGBT constituency while at the same time not draw too much blow-back from the repugnant right. What they came up with and trotted out to sensational fanfare is Obama's decision to grant partners of LGBT federal employees spousal benefits!

Flash! Boom! Brilliant! Take a bow, Mr. President. A grateful queer nation thanks you for allowing us to exist in your government. Even the Repugnicans of today, having become inured to our existence on this planet, will raise no fuss since this small gesture is can just as easily be undone and is, afterall, clearly devoid of any meaning or substance.

The Fed's granting of spousal benefits is just mimicking what most private sector employers of any size have already been doing for decades. But it is actually less than that since it lacks the single most important measure granted by other employers - health insurance coverage! (I don't know what LGBT spouses do get out of the new acknowledgment of their existence - maybe an invitation to the annual employee picnic?)

But the maneuver worked. The media bought it, hook line and stinker! Nary a peep has been heard in the press about how the LGBT civil rights movement may be set back by decades if Obama allows the offensive action of his Justice Department to go forward and if it succeeds in supporting the constitutionality of DOMA. And now, if the straight majority catches any word about the LGBT population being at all upset with our liberal President then WE come off looking like a bunch of whiney ingrates!

There is so much wrong with this deeply offensive motion and the politics surrounding it. So much has been written about it already by legal scholars and critics, some of whom are ardent LGBT Obama supporters. If the President does not soon and strongly disavow it (preferably firing Simpson and Co. in the process) then we can only assume that this is where his true sentiments lie. Regardless of the elegant lip service he pays to us when he needs our votes we will have to see him as being no more enlightened than the most repugnant Bush Administration official.

How can we not feel as though we've been made fools of again?

The crass cynicism of the motion does not stop with opening clause, of course. It carries all through the long and twisted brief painting a background scenario of the issues in the dankest tradition of historical revisionism. Reading through the motion you are asked to suspend your disbelief and ignore the turbulent experience that brought us same-sex lovers to this contentious point in our long struggle for equal rights. You are, in effect, asked to swallow the fantastical idea that the State legislatures of this great nation have spent the last decade or so reasonably and civilly considering the idea of encoding same-sex marriage into their laws on a benevolent "experimental" basis.

In the Bizarro World scenario this brief draws, there have been no hard-fought civil rights trench battles - risen to the level of a "culture war" on "perversion" declared by opportunistic Religio-pugnicans in the 1980s; no ugly clashes between fag-hating religious groups and mourning families of AIDS casualties and gay-bashing victims have raged on the public stage for over forty years. We have not been oppressed by ignorance and hatred for centuries, nor have we ever been victims of mass extermination, violence, murder or often driven to suicide. We were never a people forced to suppress our deep personal identities and conform impossibly to societal roles enforced by the tyranny of majority (negative) opinion. And we are not now forced to accept an inferior legal status steeped in religious tradition and other irrational forms of prejudice.

We are, it seems, some new kind of life form the States only recently discovered and are allowing to exist to a certain extent. They mean us no harm. But they can't quite figure out how we could possibly fit in with them - the truly higher form of life that makes all the rules - without upsetting their whole world view and offending their sense of entitlement. They are willing to let some states "experiment" with guarantees of "freedom to marry as a basic civil right" - allowing us to exist - but only on a limited experimental basis.

Put another way, the sense of this brief in support of DOMA is that our benevolent state governments, in their wisdom, voluntarily looked down upon their citizenry and discovered that people were forming "nontraditional" relationships among themselves. The states apparently saw this and wondered how they could help us. Their approach was to be "cautious" so as to preserve the peace of the land by not upsetting those citizens who might not understand. A few states were chosen or volunteered to act as "laboratories" where the novel concept of tolerance would be tested using those poor misguided souls who wanted to "pretend-marry" each other (for goodness sakes!) as guinea pigs.

It is, in fact, only a deep but baseless sense of heterosexual entitlement that continues to deny homosexuals our rights to life, liberty and pursuit of happiness as American citizens who happen to be gay. Homosexuals have always walked among the humans and homosexual activity was finally decriminalized in America in 2003. Homosexuals have always formed relationships among themselves but homosexuals in relationships today are still oppressed by the straight majority due to an assumed supremacy of those who claim to be purely heterosexual (such boasts of straight exclusivity is obviously part of the big lie perpetrated even by self-righteous closet cases who endorse it until caught having homosexual relations themselves).

After the opening clause, this is how that concept is introduced in the Justice Department's motion:
"Yet, as same-sex couples in these States have won what they understandably view as a vital personal right of surpassing importance to their happiness and well-being, other States have reaffirmed the traditional understanding of marriage as the union of a man and a woman as husband and wife, an understanding held as a matter of profound moral and religious conviction by many of their citizens."

Since this is a case against the federal government, the Obama Feds are arguing that it should be dismissed on the grounds that the States, in taking on this "experiment in alternate forms of marriage," effectively relieved the federal government of any responsibility for its citizens in regard to marriage. It's the usual Repugnican cop-out, mouthed even by former VP Darth Cheney, that it should be up to the states to decide whether his lesbian daughter can have what he takes for granted as a non-lesbian everywhere across this country (think he really believes that?).

The most infuriating thing about all this is that the Feds did not HAVE to do or say anything concerning this case. Rather than going to the twisted disgusting lengths they did - later using the tired old repugnancy of equating homosexual activity to incest, bestiality and child abuse - they did not need to file a brief at all. The original case, Smelt & Hammer v. USA, is a very weak one. It was never our best chance to defeat DOMA and it will likely be thrown out of court on purely technical grounds.

The hearing for Obama's motion for dismissal of this suit is scheduled for August 3, 2009.

It can be withdrawn - and Obama should see to it. Pronto!

Jim Fouratt on The Colbert Report

by Dick Mac

Jim Fouratt is an inspiration. He has worked tirelessly in both the political and entertainment arenas for decades.

Jim was present at the Stonewall Riots forty years ago, and he continues to work for the rights of homosexuals, and all people.

The Colbert Report can be a tough forum in which to discuss progressive issues, and I am impressed that Jim took the opportunity to speak out. He does a fantastic job, and Colbert seems sincerely interested and supportive.

The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Jim Fouratt
www.colbertnation.com
Colbert Report Full EpisodesPolitical HumorMark Sanford


Good work, Jim!

Thursday, June 25, 2009

United States Meets Spain in a Confederations Cup Semi-Final

by Dick Mac

It's Winter in South Africa.

It was a chilly 37F last night. Not frigid, but certainly chilly.

At the Free State Stadium, in Mangaung/Bloemfontein, Spain was playing host to the United States Men's National Team.

The Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) is comprised of soccer federations from 202 nations around the world, and Spain is unanimously considered to be the best team in the world.

The players who make up the Spain team are household names everywhere in the world except the United States: goalkeeper Iker Casillas plays for Real Madrid, along with Sergio Ramos; Carles Puyol plays for Barcelona; David Villa plays for Valencia; Fernando Torres and Xabi Alonso play at English powerhouse Liverpool; Cesc Fabregas plays for my Arsenal; and Joan Capdevila plays for Villareal; and others.

Joining Capdevila at Villareal is 19-year-old American, Jozy Altidore, a big, skillful, hard-working striker who came out of my Red Bull New York organization and is part of the future of United States soccer.

Also playing for the USA (and barely known around the world) are Ricardo Clark, of the Houston Dynamo (also formerly of my RBNY), Michael Bradley (also formerly from New York), Landon Donovan, from the LA Galaxy, Clint Dempsey from Fulham FC in England, Tim Howard (also formerly of New York) from Everton in England, Carlos Bocanegra currently playing at Rennes and formerly of Fulham, Oguchi Onyewu currently at Newcastle in England (and one of the bright stars of American soccer), Jonathan Spector of West Ham United in England (a product of the formidable Manchester United academy), and others.

I prayed that my team didn't embarrass themselves against Spain. I told co-workers and friends that if we lose by less than three goals, we could hold our heads high. After all, Spain had not lost a match in 35 outings, dating back to 2006, and had won their previous fifteen.

Within minutes of kick-off, the USA was pressing hard on Spain goalkeeper Casillas (one of the best in the world) and Charlie Davies, who plays professionally with Hammarby Fotboll, in Sweden, repeatedly attacked from within the box, including a lovely bicycle kick that went just wide in the opening minutes. Clint Dempsey had a nice shot on goal in the ninth minute and Casillas found himself all over the penalty area, trying to keep the ball out of the netting. An early yellow card to Landon Donovan was not a bookable offense, and I became weary that referee Jorge Larrionda of Uruguay, who has always dealt harshly with the USA, would find a way (as he has in the past) to dismiss an American player or two.

Spain's attack was persistent, though, and only brilliant defending by the USA central defenders, most notably, Onyewu, and remarkable goalkeeping by Tim Howard, kept the score line at 0-0, until the 27th minute.

Charlie Davies got the ball to Clint Dempsey, who moved it to Jozy Altidore at the top of the box, and with Xavi pulling his shirt and crawling all over him, Jozy turned, broke away, met Casillas one-on-one and scored the first goal of the match.

Improbably, the score line read ESP 0 - 1 USA!

Although Spain controlled the ball most of the first half, USA continued to drive forward and Spain seemed to be back on their heels without a plan. After many corners taken short, Spain delivered a full cross from a corner kick in the 31st minute. Superior defending and goalkeeping by the USA kept the ball out of the netting. Spain was whistled for more offsides calls in the first half than I think they've seen in most entire matches.

Joan Capdevila saw a yellow card in the 36th minute for pulling on the shirt of Altidore, an offense that had been repeated over and over during the first half-hour, but had not been called. This led to a free kick just north of the box by Landon Donovan. The USA team charged forward, with Dempsey and Bocanegra attacking from Casillas' right. Dempsey, either not hearing or not knowing of Bocanegra's perfect positioning, attempted a header that missed the mark. This missed opportunity is a hallmark of American soccer: either plays do not take command (Bocanegra) and demand the ball; or players with massive egos (Dempsey) believe that they are the only players capable of scoring and ignore the cries of their teammates. I will never know which transpired last night, but we did not score when we should have. Either Bocanegra or Dempsey failed as a teammate and I fear that team leadership will never address this sort of lapse.

In the 38th minute, the brilliant, young Fernando Torres found himself in the position he loves: in the box, in front of the keeper, with a wide-open shot. He doesn't miss these. Just as he teed-up his sure goal, Onyewu flew in from his left and cleared the ball. Torres was left literally dumbfounded. I think the entire viewing audience was shocked that Torres, one of the finest strikers in the world, was denied what everyone assumed was a sure goal.

At the half, each team had had four goal scoring chances, and Spain had seven corner kicks to the USA's 1, and yet, USA led by one.

Early in the second half, Landon Donovan delivered a corner into the box and as Clint Dempsey made an attempt, he was kicked by Xabi Alonso, and there was no whistle. I sincerely believe that a yellow card and possibly a penalty kick would have been awarded if the players had been reversed.

Spain played much better than the USA in the first 20 minutes of the second half. They seemed destined to score as the USA was failing to close-down the midfield, playing sloppily and allowing Spain into their third of the field. Suddenly, when the USA was attacking, they seemed to be making cheap plays and lucky shots. If Spain was going to score, this was the time to do it.

A block by Rico Clark in the 66th minute seemed to turn the tide again. Although Spain continued to push hard and play solid, physical soccer, the USA seemed back on its feet.

Cesc Fabregas was taken out in the 68th minute, and the USA replaced Davies with Benny Feilhaber right afterwards.

By the 73rd minute, it became clear to me that Oguchi Onyewu was not the only defender doing a superb job. Jay DeMerit was all over the back of the field, defending well, and frustrating the Spanish superstars.

Next thing I knew, Feilhaber was passing to Landon Donovan who was stopped by the formidable Sergio Ramos, got the ball to Clint Dempsey who scored a second goal!

By the 78th minute, Spain looked very tired, and another substitution seemed to offer little relief to the frustrated Spanish players. Dirty play ensued, and tactics not fitting for the number one team in the world were employed to no fruitful end and a couple of cautions were issued. Even Carles Puyol, whom I admire and respect because of his tenacity and hard play seemed to be stooping to rough play tactics you would expect from lesser players, from lesser teams, in lesser matches.

Jozy Altidore was substituted for Connor Casey in the 84th, and shortly thereafter, Michael Bradley was dismissed with a red card for what was deemed a harsh tackle; but was hardly a dismissible offense. Perhaps he should have received a yellow card, but a straight red was uncalled for and the referee began to show his consistent inconsistency.

Dempsey was substituted in the 88th, and as regulation time drew to a close, the Spanish players showed their impatience with the situation. Three minutes of added time was insufficient for Spain to break through the brilliant USA defense, and the final scoreline was an improbable ESP 0 - 2 USA!

I didn't weep, although I thought I might; but, I couldn't really say anything aloud. My team beat the best team in the world, and we will play in the final match for the Confederations Cup against either Brazil or South Africa.

My man of the match was Tim Howard, the goalkeeper, but without the brilliant defending of DeMerit and Onyewu, he might have let in a goal or two.

Go USA!



Edited for typos and grammatical errors

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Jonathan Tasini for Senate - 2010

by Dick Mac

Jonathan Tasini is a progressive Democrat running for United States Senate from New York.



Kirsten Gillibrand was appointed to the U.S. Senate to replace Hillary Clinton as the Junior Senator from the State of New York. Clinton was bad enough, but Gillibrand flip-flops like no other Democrat you've ever seen. She represents a minority: conservative Democrats of upstate New York.

As a progressive and intellectual, Tasini is capable of representing all of New York.

Support Jonathan Tasini

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Jon & Kate: Why Straight People Shouldn't Be Allowed To Have Children

by Dick Mac

People should really wait until they are mature and confident in life before they get married and reproduce. Heterosexuals prove over and over again that they are incapable of restraint, self-control, and self-sacrifice. Marrying in their twenties and making babies as soon as they can, they then divorce when they discover themselves or what to discover themselves.

Heterosexuals regularly create families they cannot support and make commitments they refuse to keep.

Jon & Kate are a couple of American hicks who decided to over-populate, and turn their family into a sideshow that would make P.T. Barnum blush.

Everything seemed lovely and fine until, like almost all heterosexuals, they were unable to remain faithful, and are about to divorce, leaving eight (yes, EIGHT) children in another broken home.



When will the government and/or the churches intervene to put an end to this irresponsible, costly, and unfair practice.

Stop Straight Marriage Now!

Stop irresponsible heterosexual breeding!

Monday, June 22, 2009

Repugnican Healhcare Horror Show!

by Al Falafel

Let's pause for a moment to check in on how goes the Repugnican campaign to convince us Americans that healtcare reform would not be good for us . . .

Friday, June 19, 2009

Fundamentalism and Theocracy - Entertainment for the weekend

by Dick Mac

I have always maintained that the most dangerous countries in the world are theocracies. Iran, The Vatican, and Israel, all nations built, to some degree or another, on religious tenets, have been the most difficult nations for the international community to deal with.

Afghanistan, under the Taliban, was as hideous as the other three, but we have successfully destabilized that nightmare. And although the killing in Afghanistan continues, it seems that a secular government will form and those people will be freed from theocratic tyranny.

My fear for the United States since the election of Ronald Reagan and the promotion and success of Christian fundamentalism, is that we are surging towards a theocratic structure that has not really been stemmed, yet. The election of a two Democrats since 1980 has done nothing to hamper the rise of American fundamentalism. in fact, the current American president invited a pro-theocracy (which is intrinsically anti-Democracy) bigoted minister to preside over his coronation.

Iran, though, remains the most dangerous theocracy, because unlike Israel and The Vatican, there are no Western powers keeping them in check. They are like the neighborhood bullies, henchmen, and thugs for the more respectable Arab nations in the Middle East. They do the dirty work that our "allies" in Saudi Arabia can't be seen doing: promoting terror, acquiring nuclear weapons, and the like. Iran is relied-upon by some of our allies to be the bully of the oil cartels.

American fundamentalists cannot be relied upon to stop Iran, because they are intrinsically prone to support religious-based rule, whether it is Christian, Muslim, or Jewish.

So, we sit and watch as the fundamentalists in Iran plan their next repressive move, which will likely come this weekend. Television commentators will feign shock, as if this is somehow out of the ordinary, that this is somehow not what Americans want. In reality, Americans don't care what happens to Iran, any more than they care what happens to the United States. The news from Iran is entertainment. The reassertion of fundamentalism in Iran will be a welcome sideshow to this week's College World Series and Major League baseball's ongoing steroids promotion.

Fundamentalism will assert itself anew in the Middle East and the American president will promote fundamentalism in the Untied States by ensuring further repression of the rights of homosexuals, and the Israelis will kill some more Muslims in Palestine or Lebanon.

Theocracy will continue to gain popularity and most Americans won't even pay any attention.

Theocracy and religious fundamentalism are the most dangerous socio-political movements in the world.

Pay attention.

Here's a hodge-podge of stuff I've read recently:

Iran’s Supreme Leader Warns Protesters

Conservative Christians: Obama's Gay Benefits Order Approximates Marriage

Israel garbled Lebanon phone networks

And there's always:

Left I on the News

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Feel the O U T R A G E ? ! ! ! ! !

by Al Falafel

Since last Wednesday, June 10, I have been operating with blinders on, working on a super big deal deadline-driven project that required me to focus! focus! focus! for my day job. For six days I dutifully blocked out all background noise: TV off. No radio or newspaper. Only an occasional glimpse at the fleeting news alerts that popped up in my email, which I noticed when I had to check in to see if any communications had come in from the folks I was working with on this heavy loaded thing. The only time I was able to tear myself away from this task was when I could no longer focus my eyes and found myself stretching my fingers in pain and still hitting the wrong keys on the keyboard. When that happened I would creak away from my desk and plopped down in bed for a few hours rest only to jump back into the fire when I woke up.

You get the picture.

So, now that all that is behind me (for the most part) and I am ready to start catching up on those lost and foggy days, what happens? I find out that, during my work-induced stupor the equivalent of a freakin' nuclear bomb was dropped on this country's LGBT population. It happened last Friday!

How did I miss it? Where were the outraged queers I would expect to hear screaming in the street, their angry cries piercing the air and blasting through my apartment windows?

Our hope is lost! Obama has betrayed us!

His Justice Department mowed LGBT America down last week: kicked us to the curb, burned us to a crisp with the brief they filed in a suit brought against DOMA. A suit they came out on the wrong side of. OUR President, Mr. Hope and Bliss, who had pledged to destroy the hated beast, DOMA, has done worse than turn on us. With no warning or even a simple "by your leave," he has apparently joined forces with those who feed and worship the DOMA dragon that lives for one purpose and one purpose only - to crush us, the American LGBT population.

I can't bring myself to read too much about this disaster as my work is not yet completely done and this just pisses me off so bad that I am already STEAMING way too much about it. I cannot afford this upsetting imposition on my time just yet.

The best thing I could think of doing was to ignore most of the reports that are streaming through the cybersphere and to go right to the source so I could see for myself what it is that has everyone on the net buzzing with righteous outrage. I located a copy of the brief and began to read through it and - god damn it!!! - It's bad. Really really bad. I can't begin to think about how ripping angry I will get when I have the time.

In a couple of days, when I CAN afford to start processing this catastrophe, they are going to hear from me. Oh boy, are they gonna get a letter! Obama first. And then the boneheaded jerks who put their names to this brief - some nobody called Tony West (such a gay name!), who is Assistant Attorney General, and James J. Gilligan, Assistant Director (Little Buddy? Is this a joke?). Their names appear right under "Respectfully submitted" on the official Obama Administration brief, viewable at "Obama's Motion to Dismiss Marriage case."

Also taking responsibility for this brief is another big nobody, W. Scott Simpson, (Doh!) Senior Trial Counsel. His email is even listed right on the brief, scott.simpson@usdoj.gov and fax: (202) 676-8470. And phone: (202) 514-3495.

If anyone has the kind of time I don't have right now and if they want to vent their anger over this shit as much as I do, well, it seems like this guy is just asking for it by putting his contact information out there.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Bwah-ha-ha-ha! Obama will repeal the Defense of Marriage Act, and the Pope will convert to Judaism!

by Dick Mac

Well, gay and lesbian taxpayers have had their noses rubbed in it once again!

After supporting Barack Obama in his presidential bid, partly because he promised to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), the Justice Department has released a brief defending DOMA! Not just defending DOMA, but comparing gay marriage to incest and paedophilia. Obama's lawyers have argued that DOMA should be upheld. If Obama agrees with this, he should be dismissed summarily by all progressives; and if he is going to pretend he didn't know this brief was being filed, then he shows himself as a completely incompetent manager.

I am not surprised, as I have no confidence in post-Reagan America. Barack Obama is not interested in making America a better place. He may be interested in treating it a little better than his four immediate predecessors, but he is interested in securing his personal fortune, and nothing more. Obama's arguments that gay marriage is the same as incest and paedophilia show that he is just as much a bigot as every other Protestant heterosexual man in America, and perhaps more so.

The Democrats and Republicans need to be pushed out as the only parties in America. Liberals, intellectuals, and free-thinkers, along with their progressive counterparts in religious and immigrant communities must unite to form at least one more political party.

Now that Obama has shown his true, truly homophobic, truly anti-American, anti-taxpayer colors with his position on DOMA, Americans should prepare themselves for his next trick: total support for Don't Ask Don't Tell.

Gay people must pull all support for the Democrats if they want to have a place at the table. A place that they pay dearly for with their tax dollars. A table at which they are denied a seat, even by their so-called allies.

This is a reprehensible situation and Obama should be ashamed of himself. He, like Bill Clinton, gets one vote from me, and that vote was already cast. Irrespective of his opposition in 2012, I will vote against him.

Vote progressive, just don't vote Democrat or Republican.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Hiram Monserrate

by Dick Mac

I live in Brooklyn and enjoy watching the New York political circus. One recent escapade has been particularly amusing.

Hiram Monserrate, a state senator, elected as a Democrat from Queens, is one of two New York City senators to recently jump ship and announce they will become Republicans, or they will at least vote with the Republicans. This eliminates the Democratic majority in Albany, and gives conservative upstaters the votes they need to prevent funding for New York City, funnel tax dollars away from the City, most importantly, prevent gay marriage.

I am all for communities electing representatives who share their ideological concerns and ideas. If the voters in Hiram Monserrate's part of Queens want a conservative, anti-gay, pro-business Republican (is all of that redundant?), then they should elect such a politician. However, they elected a Democrat which, although does not immediately equate a support of gay marriage, certainly shows a desire to have a less conservative senator than most upstate communities.

When the voters in Elmhurst next go to the polls to elect a state senator, I hope they will elect a senator who truly represents their interests. Irrespective of their liberal or conservative desires, I hope they vote Hiram Monserrate out of office.

Report: Monserrate returning to Dems

Sen. Hiram Monserrate and Sen. Pedro Espada: Call them Dumb & Dumber

At Center of Maelstrom, a Senator Used to Chaos

Less to the point, but certainly supporting the notion that he is unfit for office, in December, 2008, Monseratte was arrested:

Monserrate Arrested (Updated)

State Senator-Elect Accused of Slashing Companion’s Face

Friday, June 12, 2009

Minnesota Senate Race

by Dick Mac

In their desperation, the GOP has invested millions trying to retain Norm Coleman's Minnesota Senate seat in the same manner that George Bush won the 2000 Presidency: have the Courts appoint you.

I think the GOP rightfully believes that if they can get their court battle between Coleman and Al Franken, the winner of the election, all the way to the Supreme Court, Coleman will be appointed Senator. I sincerely believe that the right-wing justices would easily deliver a Kafka-esque ruling giving the seat to their friends in the GOP.

Hopefully, the lower courts will successfully stymie that plan, and it the end is in sight; but, maybe not.

On Wednesday, a Ramsey County court administrator entered a judgment that Coleman must pay Franken $94,783 to cover court costs for the ongoing attempt to overturn the election results. Coleman's attorneys, of course, have filed another appeal of the result of the two-month trial that ended with Coleman losing to Franken by 312 votes.

Life does truly imitate art. Coleman looks like a clown. It is Franken, though, who has been a professional comedian, bringing a clown-like character to life with his creation of recovery-cripple Stuart Smalley. Franken's image now is that of a very smart, hard-working intellectual, whose desire to bring sanity back to our crippled nation cuts a stately figure next to the whiny, petty Coleman.

Coleman has the coffers of the GOP to keep this ridiculous court battle going, but I would like to think he has some family member or close friend who could encourage him to go home, lick his wounds, and plan his next dreadful attack against America and sensibility.

Sadly, we will await the decision of the Minnesota Supreme Court and hope that they, too, have had enough of this tedium and let Franken get to work in Washington.

Minn. court orders Coleman to pay $95K to Franken

In Minnesota, a Battle Without End for a Senate Seat

Thursday, June 11, 2009

The Right Continues To Get Their Way

by Dick Mac

As the nation moves towards the center-right, away from the far-right, the leaders of the far right have lost control of their minions.

Anti-abortion terrorists have increased their crimes against health clinics across the country. See my earlier article, Poisoning The Legacy Of A Physician, and law enforcement agencies at every level refuse to enforce the law. When was the last prosecution under FACE?

Holocaust deniers find more outlets for their voices and increase their attacks against humanity. See, Gunman shoots, kills, guard at Holocaust Museum.

A wanton drug-addict is traveling the country declaring himself the new voice of the Republican Party, and it's working. See, Republicans See Gingrich, Cheney, and Limbaugh as Their Spokesmen.

The far right is one the offensive and if we do not shout them down, silence their glamour, and show the cracks in their wares, the media will soften on them again and they will be presented in a positive light.

It is important to regularly point out that the American right promotes domestic terrorism and is a menace to the good order of the United States.

All the "Reagan Democrats" and "Joe Six-Pack Republicans" who have pushed the nation to the far right with their sentimental notions about reproduction, Jesus, race-relations, and a woman's place in the world, need to be ignored. Either they see the error of their ways, or let's embarrrass them back into their kitchens and bar rooms, where the world is safe from them, and away from the voting booths.

Enough of the terrorism and hatred from the far right. Enough!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

New York State Foolishness

by Dick Mac

It can no longer be called "politics"!

The behavior of the Democratic Party in response to the defection of two of its members to the Republican Party is laughable.

New York Democrats, led by the buffoonery of the current state administration, are a joke. They no longer have any idea how to balance the demands of a generally-liberal downstate and a generally-conservative upstate. They seem to be lost in a self-serving labyrinth of power-grabbing that prevents them from presenting anything resembling a unified front, a plan, or a political agenda.

Add to that mix a meddling billionaire who doesn't even really seem to want to live in New York, and you've got a collision of power-brokers that will bring only one result: chaos. The taxpayers of New York will suffer, and the Democrats will dance while the Republicans fiddle, and the state burns.

No other state in this nation is more in need of a third-, fourth-, and fifth-party.

Whether you are liberal or conservative, left or right, rich or poor, gay or straight, you are being abused by the current two-party system. Neither the Democrats nor the Republicans are serving you - they are serving themselves - and the Governor and congressional leadership are the primary culprits.

Now is the time to vote for an alternative party, and I suggest the Greens.

Green Party Of New York State

Feeling Slighted, Rich Patron Led Albany Revolt

Poll Finds Paterson Deeply Unpopular

Albany Drama Is Tragedy and Farce

Ask About Latino Politics in New York

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Repugnant Party Politics

by Al Falafel

The nomination of Sonia Sotomayor for Supreme Court Justice is just one of the latest triggers to set the Repugnican Party trash-talk machine a-sputtering.

(Why is it that a nominee's personal experience, race or gender is only an issue when it is not a straight white male being considered? hmmmmm... Antonin Scalia, John Roberts, and Samuel Alito would never let their personal backgrounds influence the way they think or how they apply the law. No siree. It's a white thing. Minorities just wouldn't understand.)

Making such a significant decision that will shape the legal and social landscape of this country for years to come is one of the most powerful functions that the victor in any US Presidential campaign gets to perform. So it is perhaps no surprise that the biggest sore losers in the race would be going so totally spastic over Obama's pick, especially coming so soon as it does after the bruising the repugnant GOP took in the recent election.

Of course, you could pick any issue in the news of the day and relate this same observation about this New Repugnican Party: whatever the Obama-led Democrats are doing or proposing is automatically met by vicious knee-jerk opposition from the GOP's designated repugnant mouthpieces. And when it's time for a vote, the remaining elected Repugnicans in Congress, on orders from the home office follow the party line and "Just Say No."

In a democracy, the minority party (or more preferably parties) in opposition to the ruling party can always be expected to clash over differences in policy and ideology. But it is safe to say that no sitting President of any party has ever been so publicly vilified so quickly - starting from day one of this new administration. That Obama has not enjoyed the traditional "honeymoon" as prior Presidents have had with both parties is only undetectable because of the overwhelming support he has earned within his own Party - who, with the progressive independents who helped oust the despised Repugnicans eight months ago, now constitute the majority opinion of Americans.

Though not unexpected, the immediate full-blown obstructionist posture the New Repugnicans have adopted after the 2009 election signals something radically different in American politics from what we have ever seen before.

It is now obvious that their current stance represents no mere difference in vision among members of Congress in different parties and the Executive branch of government which can only be held by one party at a time. It is clearly the substance of a calculated political Master Plan devised by Repugnican Party strategists as a means to keep the extremist voter base emotionally engaged. Having let slip their monopolistic grip on power, they can ill afford to lose the only numerically significant voter base they have: those who can be easily manipulated to vote against their own self-interest simply by exciting their most irrational fears, prejudices, and undeserved feelings of entitlement.

The unconscionable political twist they have added is a provision of deniability to those elected members of Congress who actually have constituencies to whom they can be held accountable. You may have noticed that most Congressional Repugnicans, currently in office, tend not to speak out publicly with anything near the level of vehemence that their unelected mouthpieces do with no inhibition in the least.

In fact, most of the official rhetoric used in responding to the Democratic agenda - the floor speeches in the House and Senate - is empty at best. It is either pointless and bereft of any workable ideas or it consists of blatant regurgitation of the garbage that brought us to this point of desperation (i.e. "blah blah blah... don't tax rich people or corporations... blah blah blah.").

A look through the official Talking Points posted at GOP.gov is revealing in that it relays those points in the restrained way their party's legislators are commanded to address them in their official roles. You will not find there any off-the-wall sound bites like "We want Obama to fail!" But the crafty effect of the Talking Points overall is to frame every issue in baseless projections about the future effects Obama's agenda will have on the US economy if super-rich people have to continue paying taxes.

This provides the required cover for those schmucks who have the job of casting votes as elected Representatives to do so with no further explanation and the potential to say "I told you so" later when some of the measures do not fully achieve the goals set for them. At the same time the language in which they are stated allow the Talking Points to be picked up and run with by the designated mouthpieces at Fox News and elsewhere.

Of course, the Talking Points are primarily intended to have an audience of one: the syndicated Repugnican fathead, Rush Limbaugh, who has proved his seemingly super-unhuman capacity to cast the fearful projections in the most extreme light allowable within the rules of the FCC, which were compromised under the Bush Administration (for just this purpose?).

With few exeptions (the insane Rep. Michelle Bachmann, R-MN springs to mind) Congressional Repugnicans are dutifully following the script and sticking to the role assigned to them. That is: to keep their mouths shut other than just saying "nay" (witness the totally partisan House vote on the first economic recovery bill).

As though by long-advanced planning it is now the function of those unbridled Limbaughs, Hannities, Becks and the whole Faux News gang of loudmouth idiots and unelected jerks WHO REPRESENT NO ONE but their commercial sponsors, to do the dirty work of keeping the base engaged until the next election cycle.

Even the token/puppet Repugnican leader, Michael Steele, was forced to bow his head in submission to the Master Plan and retract his critical remarks about the ignorant arrogance of Rush Limbaugh. Failing to bow down to Limbaugh would have thrown a monkey wrench into the plan and no doubt cost the hapless Steele his patronage job.

The unelected backroom Repugnican strategists - including their once-acknowledged evil-genius leader Karl Rove (Bush called him "the Architect") - have even applied a mid-level layer of deniability to their blueprint for rebuilding the Repugnican power structure.

Former office holders like the has-beens Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich and Dick Cheney are given a special role to play that ostensibly adds a level of credibility to the Repugnican cause since they have not yet signed any lucrative contracts with Fox News or another GOP propaganda organization. Since the Party cannot risk losing any more seats they currently hold, and since the ones filling those seats are only assigned one word to use ("no") these stand-in losers have to make themselves available to spout the party line on talk shows where they are interviewed by the has-beens who have signed up as talk-show "entertainment" hosts.

The Repugnican Mater Plan is a gamble, of course, that is firmly rooted in a confidence in the ignorance of the American masses. While the Democrats in and out of office have to look like they are actually trying to do something to fix the unfathomable mess they stepped into, Congressional Repugnicans just have to stand by and offer nothing but complaints about the partisan nature of the Democrats' actions (the nerve!) and just make sure to just show up and use their one-word vocabulary when the yay or nay vote is taken.

The only other complaint they make is that the President is trying to accomplish too much ("accomplishment" a forbidden word in their vocabulary and the idea of it is totally outside their realm of experience as highly paid "servants of the people").

The "unaffiliated" GOP mouthpieces on radio and TV are doing their part extremely well: conjuring the most extremely damaging, discredited and absurd fears about Obama's "socialist" agenda, among all the other ridiculous lies they make up on the spot. Of course, they are counting on the tried and true Rovian tactic by which the spewing of so much insipid crap, regurgitated as often as possible, creates solid truth in a calculated percentage of the thick ditto-heads of their listeners. This is how the Party will be guaranteed a reliable number of votes in the next election.

The rejected candidates who are assigned those stand-in roles in the game plan also deserve credit for dutifully mouthing and affirming the lies spread by those wired-in players on talk shows and taking the heat for those who still hold their seats in Congress. They have little to lose personally since they have been written off as potential candidates for office in the future, though this fact is contrary to the image they would like for themselves.

The Repugnican strategists are not interested in re-running those losers. Their past failures as politicians make them expendable pawns in the game. They can always find fresh meat heads to fill the roles of political candidates who can be thrust into the national spotlight that will be distracted by the novelty without having to repack all the known baggage of a Sarah Palin, say, or that dorky governor of Louisiana, Bobby Jindal, who they suckered into following Obama's first major address and became an instant laughing stock.
_____________

If you want to keep up with the Repugnican trash-talk sputterings but can't stomach the thought of actually listening to Rush Limbaugh's daily three-hour spew, the good folks at Media Matters for America are providing a real-time digest, dispatched by the hour, every day of the week. You won't believe this fathead's mind-boggling audacity! From what I can tell Limbaugh's role in the Repugnican Master Plan is modeled on that of Japan's Tokyo Rose during WW2.

Monday, June 08, 2009

How Do You Treat Your Vendors?

by Dick Mac

I have been in meetings representing both sides of this scenario. After all these years, I have landed on the side of the service provider.

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Saphin @ The Living Room, Friday, June 5, 2009, 9:00 P.M.

by Dick Mac

Jeff Saphin is performing at 9:00 PM tomorrow night, Friday, June 5, 2009 in New York City.

See the show at The Living Room [Ludlow at Stanton]. Be there!



Saphin

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

The US Military. More Than National Defense: It's a Job

...and some people are still being fired from their jobs with the Military just for being gay.

by Al Falafal

President Obama pledged to end "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" -- but in slightly more than 100 days as Commander In Chief he has done nothing to prevent 206 more gay military employees from being fired in that same time.

Lt. Col. Victor Fehrenbach is one of those Obama is firing. Fehrenbach is an F-15E aviator in the Air Force and, guess what? Turns out this decorated war hero and seasoned combat veteran who has served with honor for 18 years has apparently been unfit to serve all this time!

Ain't that a kicker?

Lt. Col. Fehrenbach is about to lose his whole career on account of being "heterosexually challenged." It's almost as though not being straight is some kind of disability as far as the military is concerned. But if it were discovered that he lasted so long and achieved so much with an actual disability just now discovered, he would likely be the focus of much praise and appreciation. Maybe even given a tenth medal to add to all those others he earned. Certainly, they would not force him out under a cloud with only two years to go before he can collect the full retirement package the has worked for over these 18 years of service.

The following video is lifted from the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network. If any of this makes sense to you and seems at all fair, don't bother going to their site and learning more about the issue and what you can do to help end it. Like President Obama, who has so many other things on his plate right now, you probably don't feel it's a big enough issue to give any time to right now. Not your problem, right? Not right now.

Monday, June 01, 2009

Poisoning The Legacy Of A Physician

by Dick Mac

Most mainstream media promote a conservative agenda that is so far to the right that famous Republicans like Dwight Eisenhower and Richard Nixon would have likely distanced themselves from the embarrassment that is American media.

The way the right-wing protects the mainstream media from criticism is by referring to it as the "liberal" media; but, short of The Nation and Mother Jones, there is hardly a liberal media outlet available in the United States.

The brilliance of this is that the mainstream media continually refers to itself disparagingly as "liberal" so it becomes fact.

In reality, mainstream media continue a persistent and effective attack on all things modern, intellectual, liberal, and progressive in the American mind.

Most recently, a murderer took the life of a physician while he was serving his community as an usher in church. The victim, Dr. George Tiller, had been shot in both arms in 1993, and his clinic was bombed in 1985. This past weekend's assault ended his life. Dr. Tiller was an obstetrician who provided abortion services.

The mainstream media have found perfectly negative terms in which to denigrate Dr. Tiller, knowing that the words they put to him are the words that American will remember.

Associated Press, via Yahoo!, referred to him as "abortion doc" in this article: Kan. abortion doc killed in church; suspect held.

The Los Angeles Time referred to him as "Abortion doctor" and a "late-term abortion provider" in this article: Abortion doctor George Tiller is killed; suspect in custody.

ABC News referred to him as an "Abortion doctor" in this article: Abortion doctor shot dead at Kansas church

Reducing a physician's life to that of an "abortion provider," knowing full well that it would taint public opinion against the doctor's memory and minimize the crime of his murderer, as if Dr. Tiller somehow deserved to die, is a consistent and persistent trick of the mainstream media.

They have to stop. They have to be told to stop. If you don't write to your newspaper or other news outlet to tell them that this sort of reporting is offensive, they believe you accept it.

Speak-up, speak-out.

God bless Dr. Tiller. May he rest in peace.