Tuesday, March 30, 2004

Any Bets on Who's the First...

Cartoonist to come out with a drawing of Cheney holding a Dubya doll giving testimony to the 9-11 Committee? Am I the only one the see the ironic humor in this situation? If Iwere a cartoonist, I'd have it drawn and be famous by midnight on the West Coast. Whoever picks up on this, please give me my five minutes in the sun by crediting me for the idea. How do I call Mark Fiore?
What She Said

I recently blogged on the pledge of allegiance. Essentially I said it just isn't important to me. In my comments section, an anonymous visitor "YY", took the time to reflect on its effect on her/him as someone from a different culture than my own. So profound was this comment, in my mind, that I wanted to put it on the front page. Here it is:

"As a foreign (Japanese) kid in an American school in the fourth grade when first confronted with the pledge becoming familiar with the pledge was part of learning the new language. The act of reciting an oath to the flag of a country not my own (being just a visitor) did not bother me very much and I understood the politics of it for what it was. What always did bother me was the "under God" phrase.

"Growing up in the latter half of the twentieth century in a secular society, in a non-religious household, my natural inclination was toward, how shall I put it, atheism. I felt a greater deal of discomfort in acknowledging God than in proclaiming allegiance to country not my own.

"Americans typically would not be conscious of the invocation of God that occurs in context of authority as would a visitor from a more secular society. Sudden surprise of finding God reference occurs in typical instances: "In God We Trust" on the currency, in the pledge and in numerous instances of prayer as opening to gatherings. Being non-religious, these reminders do cause some discomfort, as blasphemy would to the religious. YY"

I don't think I could summarize the importance any more succintly than this. Thank you, YY. If you ever come back by this way, linger and get to know us. You are very perceptive and articulate. I'd like to get to know you better.

Taco Meatloaf

Now that I have your attention... Thanks, Lisa, it works.

This morning I went visiting, stopped by the Fulcrum to see what Charles2 had to say, and was introduced to Lisa who writes Kamakaze Kumquat. She was great. I didn't have a lot of time, but I read everything she had to say today including links, and still wanted more. So I went into her archives from day 1 to see who this woman is. She's my new best friend. I proudly add to to my list of Cousins in the Heartland. Hey, I llike that. I'm going to rename my blogroll that. Go visit and see what I mean.

Friday, March 26, 2004

What it Says

Amendment 1. Proposed September 25, 1789; ratified December 15, 1791.
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; ...

If Congress passes a law that says we are a nation "under God" then Congress has taken sides in the discussion as to whether or not there is a God. To require a group of school children to then affirm Congress' decision is forcing a religious concept on those children. It seems pretty clear to me.

If the Supreme Court says, "Dr. Newdow, sit down. You're incredibly silly for being here." I would probably agree with them. I think it's an incredible waste of effort and resources. In fairness though, I say that about a lot of issues with which I disagree. Dr. Newdow doesn't need to get your permission or mine to exercise his constitutional rights. It bothered him and he pursued it at his own expense and expertise all the way to the Supreme Court. That's his right. I still disagree with him on the importance, but then I'm a White, Protestant Christian, traditionally raised, so there is no doubt in my mind that the God being invoked is mine. I can afford to be cavalier about it.

As silly as I think Dr. Newdow is though, I have to say that I think he's absolutely right. I also think he's going to lose. Despite what the Constitution says, it means what five of nine justices says it means.

I predict the Supreme Court will allow under God to remain in the Pledge. Millions of kids will continue pledging their little hearts away, never giving any thought to what they're saying, just as they have for the past 100 years. I would like to propose some additional wording to the pledge. They can be tacked onto the end. Here's my proposed sentence: "And I promise to vote in each and all elections."

It would give it a lot more punch than invoking an indifferent God who really doesn't take sides in national disputes.
Friday Pet Blogging

Beauregard's an odd cat. Maybe all cats are odd. I don't know, this is my first. I grew up with dogs. We now have 11 years together. The person giving him to me gave me a line of bullshit about how he was from championship Maine Coon stock.
Maine Coons can get big, real big. Beauregard stopped growing at about 12 pounds. I realized Beau was not a Maine Coon at about 3 years of age when I visited a friend with a real Maine Coon like this one here.

I consider myself fortunate with Beauregard. He has a lot of character. He also enjoys people. I've had parties where it was wall to wall people, and Beauregard gets right in the middle. He doesn't like being treated like a stuffed animal. You may stroke him briefly, in an admiring sort of way. He is a cat after all. He doesn't like being picked up though. How would you like it if strangers 100 times your size picked you up and held you closely. He's not rude about getting away from you, just insistent. He doesn't run away from you once he's free either. It's not you he's rejecting. He just doesn't want to be picked up by a giant he's just met. He likes being on the same level as the company, so he sits on the back of the sofa, or the chair, or the stereo, or on top of my computer as I type--if I let him.

He greets me at the door when I get home, and follows me from room to room, talking. He has a rather small voice which sounds more like chirping than meowing. If I go to the garage, he follows me and hangs out while I putter. In the most charming of ways, he is my constant companion.

Thursday, March 25, 2004

A Class Act

Norbizness over at Happy Furry Puppy sums up Richard Clark's testimony Wednesday, calling it a class act. I know a lot of words and their meanings, and I can't think of a word that better describes Clark than that. I thought his response to that idiot Jim Thompson was priceless.
"No, I don't think it's inconsistent at all. I think, as I said in your last round of questioning, Governor, that it's really a matter here of emphasis and tone. I mean, what you're suggesting, perhaps, is that as special assistant to the president of the United States when asked to give a press backgrounder I should spend my time in that press backgrounder criticizing him. I think that's somewhat of an unrealistic thing to expect." (Richard Clark in response to a question by Jim Thompson, former governor of Illinois.)

I haven't had much to say about the 9-11 Commission hearings. There are better people out there who are covering it. My expectations of this commission are absolutely zero. First, it was appointed by Bush & Co. The Republicans on it are party hacks and the Demoocrats on it are suspect. It is not the nature of American politicians to accept responsibility for anything, and that blanket indictment covers Democrats as well as Republicans. That made Richard Clark's apology to the families of the victims of 9-11 all the more poignant: "I also welcome the hearings because it is finally a forum where I can apologize to the loved ones of the victims of 9/11. To them who are here in the room, to those who are watching on television, your government failed you, those entrusted with protecting you failed you and I failed you. We tried hard, but that doesn't matter because we failed. And for that failure, I would ask -- once all the facts are out -- for your understanding and for your forgiveness." (Richard Clark in his opening statement on Wednesday.)

Drink Your Kool-Aid!

Go visit Jesse over at The Gotham City 13, via Michael at Musing's Musings. Kool-Aid. Quenching my thirstitude since I found Jesus. Brilliant, just brilliant. I may have to buy the poster.

Wednesday, March 24, 2004


Listlessness and dissatisfaction. God, what a great word. I'm experiencing it right now. Not my first time, so don't worry for me. Too much.

I having a bit of a disconnect from everything right now. I know you all have felt it, feel it, will feel it, etc. etc. ad nauseum. Nothing matters. Nothing matters. Nothing matters. It doesn't matter how much they lie. It doesn't matter how much they get caught in their lies. They know that their side doesn't believe anything anyone says that's negative. Bush can fart between now and November and his mignons will swear he's singing, joining in the chorus, saying up is down, black is white. Bad is good. I want to focus my thoughts elsewhere. We need to stay balanced, too. Everyone, take a deep breath. Thanks for indulging me. I feel better already. Now, on to today's post.

Old Cat Man's rooster died today.

That's Big Daddy. That's what Old Cat Man called him. He probably called himself Sylvester, or something like that. Big Daddy died today. OCM is marking his passing by taking a moment.

If you haven't read Old Cat Man's blog yet, take a minute or two and stop by. OCM lives on a few acres on the side of a mountain somewheres in Colorado. I think he's in his 60s, retired in the sense of not having to go to an office everyday, but he's wide awake and paying attention, all the time, everywhere. He's also irreverently chronicling our times, cleverly using letters, a bit of photoshop, a sharp eye and biting comment. He and I are close in age and sentiment, yet worlds apart in our experience. As I get to know him, I learn everyday how much more we're alike than different. I'm Gay, he's straight. I live in a mad urban environment, he's up on a mountain in Colorado. Still, our lives and our goals have become interconnected. He may be a new friend to me, but damn, it sure seems close.

Big Daddy's death triggered a lot of thought and memory for me. I grew up in the country with chickens that lived in a yard with a rickety old chicken house with a couple of old roosters, one old, one a little younger. I thought it was natural selection until my cousin told me that it's customary to eat the ones that don't lay eggs, leaving an occasional rooster for whatever reason. You wanted a good rooster, though, cause when a hen decided to nest, you didn't want her incubating blanks.

We boys watched those roosters, too. Remember, we're farm kids. We know the score. That old rooster was getting himself some everytime he turned around. I sure liked that idea, once I learned what "getting some" meant. You hear people say if there is such a thing as reincarnation, they want to come back as a cat and just lie around all the time and purr and get fed. Yeah, and probably be castrated. Farm boys want to come back as roosters. Man, the odds may not be good for becoming Big Daddy, but if you made it, the rewards were great!

Old Cat Man, buddy, I'm with you tonight. Rest in peace, Big Daddy. You had your moment in the sun.

Tuesday, March 23, 2004

Stupid is as Stupid Does

From the Letters to the Editor of the Cleveland Plain Dealer, via Michael at Musings Musings via Atrios.

"Too high a price on naughty words?"

"I was wondering why the Republicans believe that hearing a four-letter word on the radio is more damaging than death or catastrophic injury. Consider that the Bush administration wants to increase FCC fines for indecency up to $500,000 per violation per station, yet at the same time, it wants to restrict noneconomic damages in tort cases to $250,000 or $350,000.

"So if a DJ says a four-letter word on the radio, the harm is so appalling that a fine of $500,000 per word, per station is justified. But if someone is paralyzed, killed or otherwise catastrophically injured, the most the family could get for the (noneconomic) loss would be up to $350,000.

"Apparently, Republicans have reworked the children's adage about words never hurting to: 'Sticks and stones may break someone else's bones, but words will hurt me worsely.'"

Dennis Mulvihill.
(Mulvihill practices tort law.)

This is convoluted logic at its fundamentalist Republican finest. Fining stations for obscene words enhances the power of the state. Limiting the ability of the individual to obtain redress for injury, intentional and accidental, limits the individual. Hmmm. Oh, now I get it. I don't like it, but I get it. Saying "fuck" is dangerous. Getting "fucked" by bad doctors, sloppy hospitals, and such is just part of the risk each of us takes for being so fucking plebeian as to put ourselves in harm's way in the first place. What a brave new world Republicans want to create for us.

Sunday, March 21, 2004

One Year Later

And no, I wasn't there. Instead, I sent another $20 to the Kerry campaign. That's what I would have spent on tolls, fares, lunch and probably a drink at my regular pub.

Last year I was a bit hostile towards the demonstrators. I was still in the "they wouldn't be saying those things about Iraq if it weren't true" phase of denial. I have learned a lot this past year. First of all, yes they would say those things if they weren't true. There are no weapons of mass destruction. Intent to develop programs is not the same. That's not what they said. Yes, I'm happy Saddam Hussein has been taken down. My heartfelt best wishes to the Iraqi people as they attempt to put their lives back together. I'm gloomy about their prospects, though. Iraq sort of reminds me of Yugoslavia in that once the glue (Tito, Saddam) is gone, there's nothing holding the rest together. Just replace the Serbs of Yugoslavia with the Sunni of Iraq, and you have the promise of serious grief down the road.

It doesn't take a crystal ball to see moderation taking the most hits. Extremism always wins in these kind of fights. I guess the most important question Americans can start asking is, "Which state do we put our two or three million new Iraqi immigrants that we'll be forced to take on humanitarian grounds to save them from massacre?" I say we send them to Texas. If they take to Texas as well as the Cubans have to Florida, it won't be long at all before they can have several of their own Congressmen and maybe even a Senator.

Bush & Company's efforts against terrorism seems to be about as successful as puring gasoline on a hill of fire ants. It burns a few, disrupts the colony, spreads them around and makes them real mad. It doesn't get rid of the fire ant problem. Bin Laden is still free. Probably his money is still free, too. Those details are always murky. We've certainly learned that just because our government says something it don't make it so. Boy, are the Europeans mad about that. I fail to understand why Republicans in this country aren't mad as hell, too, but they just keep denying that there's anyway but Bush's way. Everybody's wrong in the whole world except them.

It's true that there haven't been any bombings in this country since September 11. Fundamentalism however doesn't target just the United States. In the case of Islamic fundamentalism, it targets anything identified as Western: Australians in Bali, Germans in Egypt, a neighborhood in Morocco, Jews everywhere. Does anyone truly believe they are safer because Saddam Hussein has been captured and his brutal reign in Iraq is over?

It's understandable how we got sucked in by Bush & Company's strategy. It seems to be an American tradition. In Vietnam we faced a near invisible foe. Did we give up fighting just because we didn't know who to fight? Hell no, we tried our best to bomb southeast Asia into the stone age. Problem with that strategy is that they were already in the stone age. Fast forward to Afghanistan, another stone age country with no rich targets. Damn, what's a cowboy general going to do? Choose another country with lots of rich targets ruled by an ugly dictator that no one likes, especially his own neighbors.

I can just hear those guys talking amongst themselves. "Hey, in Crawford, an A-rab is an A-rab. It don't matter if its Bin Laden, just as long as its A-rab butt being kicked." "Right, boss. We get two birds with one stone. You get credit for standing tall in the face of terror. We get a country rich for sacking." Who knew they were talking about sacking the U.S. Treasury and economy? Who knew?

I'm rambling now. Happy Sunday, all. Take some time off today, take a walk, smell a flower, bless a child, visualize a new government we can trust to help us imagine a better world. I'm going there now. Peace.

Friday, March 19, 2004

Blog Anniversary

One year ago today, I made the first entry into my "blog."

March 19, 2003

Everyone seems real tense. This war thing is getting on everybody's nerves.

Posted by: Houston / 2:40 PM

Thursday, March 18, 2004

The Scalia-Cheney Connection

I agree with Scalia. If he didn't recuse himself when he made his friend Vice President, why should he recuse himself now. He's absolutely right. His mind was made up well before he went duck hunting with a man who was Vice President only because of the persuasion of Scalia's influence among his fellow justices, in an airplane owned by an oil company. I might well ponder, who owns whom? Scalia snubs our middle-class expectations of impartiality my attacking the Sierra Club for its audacity of suggesting that his long-term friendship with Cheney would somehow influence how he might hold in a case. Any case. And in doing so, no one asks about the plane owned by the oil company. Maybe Scalia will recuse himself from all future cases where the Sierra Club is a party. That would itself be a plus.

I honestly believe that the duck-hunting trip did not influence Scalia in any way whatsoever. That is not the only reason for recusal, though, and Scalia knows this.

Recusal is also used when the justice wants to demonstrate how important and sacred the law is, by avoiding even the appearance of influence. You want to see this demonstrated, observe the California Supreme Court and how they practice the art of recusal.

If the public loses faith in the courts, our civic agreement is damaged. In this country, we have resorted to civil war only once. To do anything which would make Americans lose confidence in an impartial judiciary is to do serious damage to our tripartite government. Scalia in his cynicism has done us great harm.

Think not? Ask anyone you know if they think the Supreme Court would be impartial should a case similar to Florida occur again in 2004. Watch the ones who say yes. Watch their eyes. Notice the flicker of fear in some of their eyes just before they answer. That flicker of fear is the acknowledgement that the Court is no longer accepted as impartial by half of the country. The fear you see in their eyes is genuine.

I have not voted for a Republican candidate for President in over 30 years. The one issue that has always motivated me: the Supreme Court. I wish I had the option of having other issues in the Presidential race. I don't. It's totally about who appoints federal judges. Kerry at his worst, will do better than Bush at his best. I used to be critical of Bill Clinton for his appointments of Ginsburg and Breyer, but a good friend pointed out to me that both Breyer and Ginsburg are masters at building consensus. That's equivalent to playing no-trump over a bid of spades: stay away from trump and you're commanding the game.

Every night before retiring, I pray for the health of Stevens (84), Renquist (80), and O'Connor (74). Scalia is also up there at 68, but that seems young when compared to Stevens and Renquist. Scalia is evil. He has the kind of ego that would sink the ship just to show his superiority to the rest of the passengers. Intellectually, I think he's incredibly dishonest. He's as faithful to the Constitution as a Church of God minister is at interpreting the Bible.

My point in all of this is let's just make sure the next person who gets to shape the future by his appointments to the Supreme Court is someone whose opinion in this matter is one that we can trust, and it ain't Bush.

Wednesday, March 17, 2004

What country are you?

I got this from Diana Moon over at Letter from Gotham. The test is deceptively simple.

For the record, I challenged the first conclusion, and demanded a retest. The questions change, so obviously the results. I didn't like my first answer. This answer is okay.

You're Canada!

People make fun of you a lot, but they're stupid because you've
got a much better life than they do.  In fact, they're probably just jealous.
 You believe in crazy things like human rights and health care and not
dying in the streets, and you end up securing these rights for yourself and
others.  If it weren't for your weird affection for ice hockey, you'd be
the perfect person.

the Country Quiz at the href="http://bluepyramid.org">Blue Pyramid

Hail, Canada.

Tuesday, March 16, 2004

We are called to bear witness to the truth.

My blog-buddy, Wanda, wants everyone in the world to read an essay by a friend of hers.

My reaction to Amy's essay was to first ask, how can I make everyone I know read it? Can't do that, can I? Okay, let me ask nicely. Please, please go read Amy's essay. She says everything that my heart is screaming and that I try to say with each word I write.

I don't have anything to say right now because unnecessary words are but clutter in our minds. What she said.

Monday, March 15, 2004

Getting the Message Across

Going to work this morning, I noticed a guy frantically drawing on the sidewalk in front of the MacArthur BART station in Oakland, California. On my way home this afternoon, I saw up close what he had been doing.

"the dead are ours, the wars are yours"

On another sidewalk, he had done a chronology of the past year on the sidewalk, much like our blog entries have also done. The last panel was this message.

"Here Now, the Future is unwritten. The World is at War. We are both targets and accomplices. What they can do in Spain, we can do here." I do not know who this sidewalk prophet is, but he sure as hell spoke to me today.

What Spain has done, let us do here.

Sunday, March 14, 2004

Terror is a symptom of the illness

Lambert, one of the writers of Corrente has an excellent discussion about Bush's failure to make any significant headway against terror because of a fundamental flaw in his understanding of the nature of fundamentalism, the true source of all terror, Muslim, Christian, and plenty of others. He suggests we redefine our efforts by calling it a Campaign Against Fundamentalism. I found it over at The Right Christians. Go read it when you have a few minutes. It's very thought provoking.
Al Qaeda or ETA

The Talking Dog thinks the bombings in Spain are the work of Al Qaeda: "Yesterday's atrocity in Madrid occurred, of course, precisely 30 months to the day after the events of September 11, 2001; more scary, it was pointed out that the two attacks were... 911 days apart (I do the math at 912-- but that's so freakishly close I'll concede the point). Did ETA do it? Not on those facts. Only the gollum monster created by Saudi corruption and paid for by Saudi petro-dollars could be capable of evil to that degree...." The Dog has plenty more to say about the Bushes and their friends, the Saudis. In the comments under this post, is a letter that someone penned in the style of Mark Twain's Letters from the Earth. It is satire at its best. I hope Bernie and Talking Dog don't mind my quoting it here.

"I can't take it anymore. I'm driving this clown around, and it eats at you. Lately, it just doesn't stop eating me up. I've gotta tell someone to ease the pressure. What better place than this site. First, no one I work for reads it. Second, my boss is very familiar with talking dogs. He used to see them all the time, along with yodeling monkeys and scat-singing rabbits. I've been with this joker a long time. In fact, a talking dog told him to run for President. I was there for the hallucinations. I've been there since the boob stumbled his way out of college."

"The final straw was on Thursday, when I drove him to a memorial service in a public park in Long Island. At first, all he kept asking was what was popular with the "Long Islandonians", or was it "Long Islandians?" Once the Crew set him straight (usually by giving him the Gameboy to play), he wanted to know what the memorial was for. "Hey, who died?" Now you know why he didn't speak there."

"Afterwards, it was off to a local fund-raiser, or "fun-raiser" as he calls them. The scene is usually the same, he wants to limbo dance while two blonds pour Jaegar and cranberry juice shots down his mouth. This explains why only a select few have access to him. They pay so much to get into the inner circle, they're gonna keep their mouths shut so they don't ruin their investment. He picked up $1.6M that night, asking each contributor to 'bark if you love me.'"

"I gotta go, there's only a short amount of time when I'm not watched."

"Posted by Bernie Z at March 13, 2004 09:49 AM"

Brilliant, f*cking brilliant.

Friday, March 12, 2004

We are all Spaniards

My heart is heavy with grief tonight. Terrorists have killed almost 200 people in Spain in the most despicable act of terror since the Bali bombing last year. May the dead rest in peace. Amen. May the survivors be healed and made whole, physically and spiritually. Amen. May the guilty be brought to justice. Amen.

Friday Cat Blogging and Poetry

My blogroll to the right is literally, the blogs I read on a regular basis. It is not a static list as it changes constantly. I'm about to celebrate my first year anniversary as a blogger. I'm almost embarrassed to look back, but I grew up believing the measure of a man is not where he is as much as how far did he come to get here. I've come a long way. Everybody over there influences me. Flavors me. Teaches me. And I shamelessly borrow from all of them.

Viking Zen does poetry on Fridays. Calpundit does pictures of his two cats on Friday. N'Todd has pictures of his dogs and cats, and even occasionally a poem. In solidarity with my virtual friends everywhere, here's my cat, Beauregard, in all his regal splendor, and for poetry, one of my very favorite poems that influenced me when I first imagined what my young kitten told me when I asked him the name by which I would call him. (I know that's a convoluted sentence, but I'm pretty sure it says what I meant for it to say.)

The Thought of His Name

And now, from T.S. Elliot, a treatise:

The Naming of Cats
The Naming of Cats is a difficult matter,
It isn't just one of your holiday games;
You may think at first I'm as mad as a hatter
When I tell you, a cat must have THREE DIFFERENT NAMES.
First of all, there's the name that the family use daily,
Such as Peter, Augustus, Alonzo or James,
Such as Victor or Jonathan, or George or Bill Bailey -
All of them sensible everyday names.
There are fancier names if you think they sound sweeter,
Some for the gentlemen, some for the dames:
Such as Plato, Admetus, Electra, Demeter -
But all of them sensible everyday names.
But I tell you, a cat needs a name that's particular,
A name that's peculiar, and more dignified,
Else how can he keep up his tail perpendicular,
Or spread out his whiskers, or cherish his pride?
Of names of this kind, I can give you a quorum,
Such as Munkustrap, Quaxo, or Coricopat,
Such as Bombalurina, or else Jellylorum -
Names that never belong to more than one cat.
But above and beyond there's still one name left over,
And that is the name that you never will guess;
The name that no human research can discover -
But THE CAT HIMSELF KNOWS, and will never confess.
When you notice a cat in profound meditation,
The reason, I tell you, is always the same:
His mind is engaged in a rapt contemplation
Of the thought, of the thought, of the thought of his name:
His ineffable effable
Deep and inscrutable singular Name.

Happy Friday. Go out and do good, be kind, be well.

[I substantially changed the first part of this post. It didn't say anything very important before I changed it, and all my changes did was to lengthen it considerably in the same rambling nonsensical sort of way, so... No harm no foul.]
A Few More Pictures

This picture was taken by Sherry Glassman, one of my friends and colleagues at work.

This next picture is one of the two guys I mentioned in my previous entry who exchanged their vows in front of the demonstrators last night.

Stuart Sanders and Ross Ladouceur. Congratulations, boys. You can just tell my their expressions that they are a real threat to heterosexual marriage.

Thursday, March 11, 2004

The March

At 4:00 p.m. today, the call went out from one of the very respectable, mainstream (for Gay) , same-sex marriage advocacy groups [Marriage Equality California] for citizens to rally in reaction to the California Supreme Court's decision. I answered the call. For all of you, dear friends of my new virtual community, I responded.

Along with a little help from my friends.

How can my camera make so many look like so few? I was hoping for 25,000 people. We probably had less than 1,000.

These are the faces that the religious right is saying are attacking marriage.

On the steps of the Supreme Court. There was a couple, two young men, who were in the line to be married today, smartly dressed in tuxedos, wearing flower leis, who addressed the crowd and spoke of their heartache at being denied marriage. To an insistant chant of exhortation, the couple expressed their vows of devotion to each other, witnessed by the thousand there gathered. That same assemblage, with a mighty voice, declared them spouses for life. That was a very powerful moment for me.

I don't even have a boyfriend. Still, I can't begin to tell you how this has affected me. In my own mind's eye, I am an unlikely poster boy for Gay and Lesbian rights and same-sex marriage. One of these days I'll have to tell you more of the story of how I came to be, but later. What I'm saying is, I would never have picked me as the one likely to write about this stuff. I'm kind of surprised by it. If what I'm writing doesn't make sense to you, don't worry, it doesn't make sense to me either.

I am experiencing an extreme transitional moment. I am being redefined by it. As with most experiments, if there wasn't an element of doubt as to the probable outcome, there wouldn't be any fun in doing it, now would there?

I'm glad I'm in the same boat as the rest of you.

The Cost of Bigotry in Human Terms

Jeanne Rizzo and her partner Pali Cooper arrive ten minutes after the California Supreme Court issued a stay stopping the city's issuance of marriage licenses to people of the same gender.

It's become clear to me in the past month that the only reason Gays and Lesbians are denied the right to marriage is because of state enforced religious bigotry. That's the long and short of it.

The California Supreme Court's action is not a surprise, but ya' know, it still hurts. This is a short post. Twenty or thirty thousand of my friends are getting together in the Castro this evening and plan a little march down to the civic center. I'll be there with my friends and my family. I know that some of you are with me, and I've got a little index card with your names on it. It's symbolic, but what the hell.

[Update: After discussion with my editor and advisor, I've changed the title to say "Cost" rather than "Price." ]

Wednesday, March 10, 2004

"People Are Poor Because They're Lazy" - George W. Bush

"At Harvard Business School, thirty years ago, George Bush was a student of mine. I still vividly remember him. In my class, he declared that "people are poor because they are lazy." He was opposed to labor unions, social security, environmental protection, Medicare, and public schools. To him, the antitrust watch dog, the Federal Trade Commission, and the Securities Exchange Commission were unnecessary hindrances to "free market competition." To him, Franklin Roosevelt's New Deal was "socialism." Recently, President Bush's Federal Appeals Court Nominee, California's Supreme Court Justice Janice Brown, repeated the same broadside at her Senate hearing. She knew that her pronouncement would please President Bush and Karl Rove and their Senators. President Bush and his brain, Karl Rove, are leading a radical revolution of destroying all the democratic political, social, judiciary, and economic institutions that both Democrats and moderate Republicans had built together since Roosevelt's New Deal." - Yoshu Tsurumi, Professor, International Business, Baruch College, New York City. (Glocom Platform, Japanese Institute of Global Communications) [via Wonkette]

I just thought you'd like to know.

Tuesday, March 09, 2004

Hate for Jesus

There was a mob of extreme fundamentalists picketing San Francisco's City Hall today. From the looks of them, I'd say they were pentecostal fundamentalists. The women had long hair in buns, plain dresses with 3/4 length sleeves. The men were dressed in cheap suits and ugly ties. They were screaming hellfire and brimstone. I quickly made a sign that read: JUST FOR THE RECORD... CHRIST SAID NOTHING ABOUT HOMOSEXUALITY, and headed off for the steps of City Hall.

I thought several would have a stroke on the spot from overexcitement. I gave them about 15 minutes before my boredom threashold was breached. Thank God, too, because with that idiot yelling his hellfire and brimstone directly into my face, I wasn't sure my eardrums could stand much more. I still have this ringing in my ears.

Tomorrow I think I'll march against them in drag carrying a book of etiquette and pounding it like its a Bible, imploring them to give up their boorish behavior before it's too late.

Monday, March 08, 2004

In the Flow

This past week-end was an eleven on a scale of ten for week-ends. We've had a lot of rainy and cold week-ends this past winter in California. Spring did not come in February as we're used to. It waited. This past week-end, Spring arrived at my house with all the glow that it brings with it. My jasmine started opening the buds it has sported for two weeks now, my cattalaya orchid spikes seemed fatter and ready to pop open with color, there were plenty of spring smells in the air. I did use my nose spray every six hours both Saturday and Sunday, but that seemed a small price to pay for the two days.

On Saturday, my friend Gary (who is also my hair stylist) and I went thrift shopping for a couple of hours. I enjoy thrifting on a couple of levels. First, I fancy myself a pop-culture anthropologist digging through piles of artifacts. I can't tell you how many times after pulling a strangely designed article of clothing with a message in the design I've exclaimed out loud, "What were they thinking?" I can delight myself for a couple of hours, spend less than $20, and walk away with at least one new outfit. I go thrifting rather than bowling, not that there's anything wrong with bowling, it's just a different kind of high for me.

I end up buying a lot of clothes. Was I a clothes horse before I started thrifting, or did I become a clothes horse because of the advantage I had from thrifting? Tough question, but the answer is the same to both, I'm a clothes horse with a certain, muted flamboyant sense of style that comes from having a wardrobe that most theater groups would be proud to call their own. I know my colors, so to speak, from nothing other than having tried on a lot of clothes. I'm told that long distance runners get into a kind of flow after about an hour or so of running. I'm that way at thrifting. It's a gift. That was Saturday.

On Sunday a group of us drove up to northern Sonoma County and tasted the zinfandels from the 2002 harvest. The weather was perfect with the termperature in the high 70s, daffodils in bloom every direction you looked, and the company of four good friends. The wines were not memorable, but the company and the day were.

I was home by six and in bed by nine. I floated through today from the week-end's glow. God I love it when it happens like that.

Blessed be.

Wednesday, March 03, 2004

Give Till it Hurts

I gave the Kerry campaign $100 today. If one million people give $100, Kerry can compete with Bu$h. There has to be one million people who are able to give $100 to save this country. If I can, I'm going to give another $100 next month, just in case there are only 999,999 people who can afford $100. I'll take up the slack. This is a time to think that $10 is as important as one vote in Florida. Lord, people, it's the cumulative effect. Reach in your pockets and give. Here's their site. This is our fight.

[I retraced my steps and this idea came from N'Todd Says His Peace. Okay, so now I know exactly to whom I should give credit. Go, dude! You just got the queen of cheap to give money. That's a fucking miracle in itself. I hope John Kerry has about two or three million friends like you and me. It's showtime folks. Let's go out and make it happen.]

Tuesday, March 02, 2004

Just Say No to Republicans Borrowing Money

What a wild ride this past year has been. We recall a twice-elected governor and replace him with his exact opposite, a steroid pumping, botoxed diletante whose solution to California's budget crisis is to borrow money and let others pay it back. Just say no to Arnold. Vote no on Propositions 57 and 58. If Arnold wants to borrow the money, let him get his hands dirty with figuring out how to run the state with more economic efficiency. It's easy to run against the government, much harder to make it work.

Even though this is not a Gay issue, per se, this is an opportunity for Gay and Lesbian voters to send a message to the governor. We are not just a group he can bash conveniently when he's with his Republican friends in Washington. Riots in the streets, indeed. He owes us an apology for that remark. Not only was it a bald-faced lie, it was offensive. I think this is an appropriate way to demand it. Go ahead, Arnold, try to run the state without our cooperation.

Just say no.

Monday, March 01, 2004

Family History

I spent the past 8 hours or so inputting data from my family tree. I'm trying to re-create a virtual community of my Descended From Families and their neighbors and allies in western Louisiana and eastern Texas in the 1830s through the 1840s. They were a very interesting group of mixed-blood people who left South Carolina for a lot of different reasons around 1803.

Something unique happened to them between 1790 and 1860, they became an identifiable subgroup who came to be known as Redbones. They were mostly isolated from the dominant culture, and facing increasingly discriminatory laws that even denied them the right to legally marry their neighbors who saw them as being insignificantly different than themselves. On three and maybe four occasions the conflicts between my family and the White culture ended in shoot-outs. We didn't take to marginalization quietly. We had guns, plenty of young men who saw themselves equal to any man. Don Marler, author of Redbones of Louisiana, thinks we developed a culture perceived by the dominant society as violent in part to show our unsuitability for slavery, a condition not exclusively confined to African-Americans, but easily included Indians and people of mixed Indian and/or African blood. There is no denying that we were not full-blooded White. We're dark. We claim we're a mixture of American Indian and Whites. We're even willing to concede that there may be some Black blood. No big deal. Well, it was a big deal in 1836 in Texas where we were called Black for the first time. In Louisiana, we were called Mulatto, but nothing inferred by it other than the likelihood that one or both parents had a parent that was Black or Indian. You might say we eventually won. The U.S. census was still listing us a Mulatto until they discontinued use of the term, putting us in the White column from whence we came (we began as White in the 1790 census). Interesting, huh?

We have been considered Whites in Texas and Louisiana since the end of the Civil War for purposes of Jim Crow laws. Throughout the 1800s, there were a couple of dozen cases of members of my family being prosecuted for marrying across racial lines, always White. Extreme racism towards Blacks has been the rule in my family until recent generations, making it unlikely that there were any additional marriages with Blacks. End of story?

Not quite. Texas continues to write its history based on the assumption that since we were accused of having Black blood, therefore we were African-American identified then and we present day descendants of those Ashworths are just in denial for having Black ancestry. This is what the Online Handbook of Texas History has to say about my ancestor, William Ashworth. What they don't say is that in 1800, he is counted in the White column of the South Carolina census, but by the 1810 census, the United States began arbitrarily assigning people into racial categories, first FPC, then later, Mulatto. You can see, the Texas Handbook doesn't see William as being mixed-Blood, but represents him to be a Black-identified African-American. They even use socially acceptable terms rather than those old racist terms from the 19th century, like Mulatto.

A few years ago, I did a Google search of my ancestor's name and discovered a drawing of four of the sons of Keziah Dial and James Ashworth, William, Moses, Aaron and James, as Black men. The author, Dr. David Williams, never bothered to say that the drawings were an artist's conjecture, but even more deceitfully claimed the drawings to be part of a "collection" of the Texas African American Heritage Organization, or TAAHO. Dr. Williams declined to answer any of my several questions and will not be interviewed for the book.

We have never told our own story. I think it's time for us to tell the world who we are. Our name is our story. My other blog, Colored, Outside the Lines is where I work on that project. I know Mr. Steven Spielberg will want to do an epic movie of my family's struggles with Texas, if I can just have ten minutes to pitch it to him... (If anyone knows him well enough for an introduction, please call me me.)

The long and short of it, it's taking me dozens of hours to create a database that will allow me to create a virtual community of this time period. I think I once mentioned that I have 84 first cousins. Square that by a few generations, and you get an idea of how many cousins comprise my database.

My book, like myself, is a work in progress.