Thursday, November 30, 2006
In many ways she was the typical grandmother...plump, a wavy mane of snowy white hair and the ability to bake chocolate cookies unmatched by any other. Her cooking was a central fact of Barker family life when I was a kid. Most Sunday afternoons after church all or some of her five sons and their families would gather at Ma Barker's dining room for fried chicken, homemade noodles (often imitated, never matched), mashed potatoes and various vegetables. I can still hear my grandfather (who passed 11 years ago) intoning his usual prayer: "bless this food that it may nourish our bodies, and bless the one who prepared it."
As a young adult, traveling between my new home of Washington, DC and my parents' house in Illinois, I would stop over at my grandparent's in Ohio as a halfway point. I would wake to the sounds of her stirring in the kitchen while the smell of fresh bacon enticed me to crawl out from underneath the quilt that she (or her mother) had pieced and stitched together.
In other ways she was not the typical grandmother. She wasn't overly affectionate or sentimental. She was sharp as a tack and sometimes that sharpness found its way to her tongue. Her father was Scots-Irish and her temperament was more given to a stoic Scot than a jolly Irishman.
And yet -- she had an impish side and when her funny bone was tickled she would let loose with a girlish giggle. My grandad once told me that, after having dated Isabel (she went by her middle name) for five years he finally decided he should get a kiss and "chased her all over the back seat." My grandad might not have used those exact words but that's the meaning I remember and I have no doubt that grandma met those words with a twinkle in her eye, a giggle and sharp retort.
One of my favorite stories of my grandmother is of her pulling her kids in a wagon across the street from the house to the feed mill my grandpa owned at the time. It's an image that squares with my recollection of her: strong, enterprising, independent. The mill, no longer in operation, still stands diagonally across the street from the house where she lived, raised five boys, helped ride herd on countless grandchildren and great-grandchildren. And she left this earth knowing (if memory serves) two great-great-grandchildren.
Neither she nor my grandad were overly demonstrative or affectionate ( I was shocked when I saw them kiss on New Year's Eve at midnight in 1971 while watching Guy Lombardo ring in the New Year). But they still managed to provide love, strength and support.
One example that sticks vividly in my memory is when one of my pet rabbits was attacked by a dog. It was clear the rabbit -- Gretel -- wouldn't make it. My parents shipped me to spend the night at my grandparents, I guess to spare me the pain of watching my pet die. The next morning my grandmother gave me the news that Gretel had died during the night.
I think I took the news quietly, like a big boy, and walked out to the front porch -- the "sun parlor" as they called it. There I sat and silently mourned the death of my pet, trying not to cry. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw my grandparents standing in the doorway, watching, my grandpa with his arm around her waist. I don't know if they knew that I saw them there, but I felt their concern, love and support. It's an image -- the two of them standing in that doorway -- that I think of to this day whenever I feel overwhelmed or alone.
I'm thinking of it now.
Goodnight, Grandma. And say hello to Grandpa.
Wednesday, November 22, 2006
In the meantime, here's a fun place to visit to see some old-fashioned Hollywood beefcake.
Tuesday, November 21, 2006
Personal Testimony: I prayed to God every night as a teen to take "those feelings" away and yet every day "those feelings" dogged my every step. "Those feelings" never went away. At the risk of losing my parents, my sister, everything, I one day realized that if God wasn't answering my prayers by taking "those feelings" away he was answering it another way -- saying -- I made you the way you are, and it is good. So stop pestering Me.
So, why are so many church leaders (not to mention Orthodox Jewish and Muslim leaders) persisting in their view that homosexuality is wrong despite a growing stream of scientific evidence that is likely to become a torrent in the coming years? The answer is found in Leviticus 18. "You shall not lie with a man as with a woman; it is an abomination."
As a former "the Bible says it, I believe it, that settles it" kind of guy, I am sympathetic with any Christian who accepts the Bible at face value. But here's the catch. Leviticus is filled with laws imposing the death penalty for everything from eating catfish to sassing your parents. If you accept one as the absolute, unequivocal word of God, you must accept them all.
For many of gay America's loudest critics, the results are unthinkable. First, no more football. At least not without gloves. Handling a pig skin is an abomination. Second, no more Saturday games even if you can get a new ball. Violating the Sabbath is a capital offense according to Leviticus. For the over-40 crowd, approaching the altar of God with a defect in your sight is taboo, but you'll have plenty of company because those menstruating or with disabilities are also barred.
The truth is that mainstream religion has moved beyond animal sacrifice, slavery and the host of primitive rituals described in Leviticus centuries ago. Selectively hanging onto these ancient proscriptions for gays and lesbians exclusively is unfair according to anybody's standard of ethics. We lawyers call it "selective enforcement," and in civil affairs it's illegal.
A better reading of Scripture starts with the book of Genesis and the grand pronouncement about the world God created and all those who dwelled in it. "And, the Lord saw that it was good." If God created us and if everything he created is good, how can a gay person be guilty of being anything more than what God created him or her to be?
Interesting to read some of the responses to the good minister's article. Typical (although there are thoughtful ones as well) is this one:
And remember...Jesus Loves You.
THE CHICKENS HAVE COME HOME TO ROOST -- Chickens scratch around in the barnyard, in the fields and woods during the day. But at night they come home to the hen-house to roost. This saying is comparing a person's evil or foolish deeds to chickens. If a person does wrong, the "payback" might not be immediate. But at some point, at the end of the day, those "chickens" will come home to roost. "One has to face the consequences of one's past actions. In English, the proverb goes back to Chaucer's 'Parson's Tale' (c 1390). It was also know to Terence (about 190-159 B.C.) First attested in the United States in the 'Life of Jefferson S. Batkins' (1871). The proverb is found in varying forms: Curses, like chickens, come home to roost; Sooner or later chickens, come home to roost..." From "Random House Dictionary of Popular Proverbs and Sayings" by Gregory Y. Titelman (Random House, New York, 1996).
Monday, November 20, 2006
Sunday, November 19, 2006
Still, she's no puritan. She makes a point of calling her governor, Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich, "Gov. Blow-job-o-vich." I don't care who your mother is, you just don't expect to hear the words "blow job" cross her, ah, lips.
The 'rents left a while ago, the LTR is at the gym and the kid is napping. So I'm taking a peek at the Internet to see what I've been missing. More later.
Wednesday, November 15, 2006
Which of course always leads my mind to where on her body she is getting hair removed, which are not thoughts that mix well with an oatmeal breakfast.
I know men go for this as well...something I've never really understood. Of course I live with someone who has created toxic chemical dumps on his body with mutliple hair-inducing products to try and grow hair, to tragi-comic effects.
Tuesday, November 14, 2006
We need to refocus on our conservative principles of less government, lower taxes, less regulation, strong national defense, judicial restraint, and fiscal conservatism.Let's see:
"conservative principles" means "whatever will keep us in power (see Rich Galen)."
Less government: See Patriot Act and Detainee bill
Lower taxes: okay, they have us there
Less regulation: See WV coal mine accident victims
Strong National Defense: See "Slam Dunk" intelligence reporting
Judicial restraint: See Terry Schiavo
Fiscal Conservatism: See Prescription Drug Benefit
The Republicans became less about principles before the election and more about power.
One reflection as Bush 41 returns to the stage: I was in New Orleans when Bush the elder gave his acceptance speech and said his famous "Read my lips, no new taxes" line. And was serving his administration when he reversed course and supported new taxes. I remember reading in the WashPo at the time a Jim Baker quote....where he said of the inconsistency of the lips and the tax raising, well, one was campaigning and this is governing.
I understand that governing involves compromise. But what you say to GET power matters. The problem with the Bushies is that the principles are soft and Baker's dichotomy of politics and governing is what begat the "say whatever it takes" mentality of the GOP in 2006.
Ironic that Baker has to return to clean up the mess.
Monday, November 13, 2006
I've always admired Sullivan, even if I don't agree with him 100% of the time. He is almost usually thoughtful, and almost always profound, as he is in this interview. Like the answer to the question, "is there a point where the closet becomes morally indefensible?:
SULLIVAN: It's never been morally defensible. It's just humanly understandable.And he echoes Frank Kameny, a plus in my eyes:
By diverting attention from the fundamental issue -- that gay people are fine, gay is good -- I think we actually helped [our opponents]. Frank Kameny is the great example. Just never, ever, ever concede the principle.And my son likes him...last Friday, after the three of us lunched at Trios, our son saw Sullivan on the cover or MW and made a beeline, opened the newsbox and carried a copy like a talisman for the next 30 minutes...an eternity in two-year-old time.
The first thing is an admonition to not be judgmental in this case. The man is in fact guilty of all sorts of wickedness...If you're going to make admonitions you should follow them...but then again, the religious right behaves by its own rules -- and we should just follow them.
I've never been in favor of outing, although recent events like the GOP's shameless gaybaiting and the examples of Foley and Haggard make it tempting to see outing in a new light.
I don't know whether Mehlman is gay or not. Like everyone else in DC, I've heard the rumors, just as I heard the rumors about Foley (which does not make the Mehlman rumors true).
And that what makes outing so problamatic. Unless you've had sex with the guy, how do you know?
But the real problem I have with it is the self-righteousness of it. Sure, it's easy to feel like you have the moral high ground in the case of a Haggard, who's paying for gay sex while supporting one of the most anti-gay provisions on the state ballot.
But what if he was opposing a hate crimes bill? Do you out him then? Not all gays favor hate crimes legislation. Who decides? Madonna?
The irony of outing, though, is that everyone already knows. Even Lou Dobson knew about Haggard. Everyone knew about Foley. And if Mehlman is gay no one who has a gaydar or good fashion sense will be surprised. Memo to all who are in the closet: people know. And your attempts to stay "hidden" only make you look silly, not only to friends and family but to the gay prostitute who's sucking your dick.
The election also showed the term "conservative" is no longer meaningful. I don't know what conservative means nowadays, and neither does Bush or Rove, at least until they take the next poll.
However, we just elected a lot more Democrats who are closer to the political center than the left, while the House leadership is far left...which means some old fashioned intra-party dog fighting the Dems are famous for.
With a morally bankrupt GOP and a raucous Democratic caucus , Americans may not regain much confidence in either party between now and 08.
It's time for another Ross Perot, without the looney tunes.
It remains to be seen whether Poppy's men can bail W (and thus the country) out of the current mess. Or at least make things somewhat better. Maybe they can remind W. of some lessons he probably learned at daddy's knee:
1) play well with others (like Europe, which includes France. And maybe even Syria and Iran. You may be between I Raq and a hard place someday, and need help)
2) Don't hit (or waterboard, sexually abuse, electrocute or transfer prisoners to third world countries to be waterboarded, sexually abused...)
3) A penny saved is a penny earned (avoid entitlement programs like a prescription drug benefit program that will bankrupt the nation but still make seniors spit up their metamucil in an indignant fit)
4) Be wary of men who wear their religion on their sleeve (because they probably have gay hookers and meth hidden up their sleeves)
5) Don't be stubborn or prideful (no matter how many times you say "stay the course" you're not getting that nation-state!)
6) Rules are NOT meant to be broken! (Leave habeus corpus alone, dear)
7) God's voice does not sound like Karl Rove's (and Jesus doesn't talk like Dick Cheney)
Saturday, November 11, 2006
Thursday, November 09, 2006
To which I said, "Mom, are you watching Fox News all the time again?"
She'll be here visiting next week. I'll be sure to see she watches a little Keith Olbermann and Jon Stewart while she's here.
- My mom (not avoiding her, really)
- A recording that called leaving the number 202/767-7639 which is some sort of help desk for something I don't need help for -- this was left muplitple times
- A foggy Assistant Artistic Director saying something about scores
- A radio station from Atlanta wanting to interview the LTR on an issue he doesn't "do" anymore
- The delivery guy with our Thai food
John McCain and Ken Mehlman, both urging us to vote for the "strong slate" of Republican candidates in the District of Columbia. Geez...these guys must of found the meth Haggard threw away. Strong slate? Let's see:
The DC GOP candidate for mayor got just 6 percent of the vote, 2 points more than the Green Party candidate.
There wasn't a Republican candidate for City Council Chair or for the Council seat in Ward 1 (my ward). The Republican candidate for the at-large district council seat actually got 2 points less votes than the Green Party candidate.
"Strong slate?" Heckuva job, guys...
Excuse me, I need to go call my mother.
Wednesday, November 08, 2006
A defeat for marriage equality in seven states across the county. How many such defeats will it take to get leaders of every national gay organization to come together and plan a true grassroots movement for our community? Enough black tie galas...we need feet on the street in Lynchburg, in Madison, in Charleston, Knoxville and so on. The only bright spot was Arizona...where good ole Barry Goldwater conservatism prevailed.
But, overall, last night was a great defeat for a cringing, corrupt GOP and a great victory for the Democrats and a victory for divided government. Here's hoping, in the end, last night will have been a good victory for the US of A. Old Lady Liberty could use some new help.
Ballot initiatives to ban same-sex marriage and/or define marriage strictly as a union between one man and one woman will be voted on in eight states:
|Ariz. State Proposition 107-Define Marriage Results|
|Key: * Incumbent | Winner|
Precincts: 100% | Updated: 6:19 AM ET | Source: AP
|Colo. State Amendment 43 Marriage Results|
|Key: * Incumbent | Winner|
Precincts: 87% | Updated: 6:20 AM ET | Source: AP
|Idaho State Amendment HJR2 Marriage Results|
|Key: * Incumbent | Winner|
Precincts: 93% | Updated: 6:19 AM ET | Source: AP
|S.C. State Amendment 1 Define Marriage Results|
|Key: * Incumbent | Winner|
Precincts: 100% | Updated: 6:21 AM ET | Source: AP
|S.D. State Amendment C Define Marriage Results|
|Key: * Incumbent | Winner|
Precincts: 100% | Updated: 6:18 AM ET | Source: AP
|Tenn. State Amendment Define Marriage Results|
|Key: * Incumbent | Winner|
Precincts: 99% | Updated: 6:19 AM ET | Source: AP
|Va. State Amendment: Marriage Results|
|Key: * Incumbent | Winner|
Precincts: 100% | Updated: 6:24 AM ET | Source: AP
Tuesday, November 07, 2006
For you outside the beltway types, DC is so overwhelmingly Democrat, and we have no voting Congressional representation so the only real candidates are local, city government. The decisions were made in the primary in Sept.
But wouldn't it be a hoot if so many dems were complacent enough and the DC GOP had it's act together enough to turn out enough Republicans to elect whoever the Republican candidate was for Mayor? Won't happen, but kind of fun to think about, at least funner than John Kerry at open mic night at the Improv. Well, maybe not that fun.
The polling place was "staffed," as every polling place I've ever polled in, by little old ladies. They can't see, read or hear very well (both the LTR and I had to help our "staffer" find our names on the rolls) but how would the Republic function without them?
The LTR and I are settling in for a night of Thai-take out and Democracy. And hopefully a Democratic takeover.
I've come a long way from the days when I worked for Lee Atwater, God rest his impish soul.
When voters are presented with a generic congressional ballot, Democrats win 53-39. But there's simply no way that this will translate. Virginia, Missouri, and Tennessee, for instance, are hosting three of the nation's tightest Senate races. But travel a step down the ballot, and you will find only one close contest in those states' combined 29 house races. The entire state of California has only two somewhat tight contests--and it wouldn't even have those, except for a pair of GOP incumbents' associations with Jack Abramoff.
If the excesses of the GOP go unpunished at the ballot box I fear acts of unchecked desperation that will be embarked upon by an administration with two years of no accountability to no one.
But we will have been given front row seats.
Vote Dem. Or don't vote.
Monday, November 06, 2006
I'm doing it...sitting here in the District of Columbia I'm feeling left out...we've no national candidates to vote for (we don't have a vote for a Rep. or Sen. here) and Mayorlicious is effectively elected. Tomorrow is a formality here.
But we can influence folks out there in the hinterlands...and while we're at it, let's remind people divided government is needed now more than ever.
Sunday, November 05, 2006
Saturday, November 04, 2006
Sometime I'd like to go back to the counter, ask for validation, and have the clerk say, "you've made the right career choices, your hair looks good that short and your blog is informative and fun to read."
But I think the most I can expect is to save $2.
of a gay man doing the decent thing.
Another example of my "series" in highlighting gay Americans who embrace the truth rather than the closet, in contrast to the Mark Foleys and Ted Haggards (allegedly) of the world.
I say allegedly on Haggard because who can say definitively what was going on between those two men in a hotel room...but Haggard's story is pretty lame. I guess to an evangelical snorting meth is better than smokin' pipe.
The Administration justifies their methods and secrecy as necessary tools --dare we say "necessary evils" -- in the war on terror. Yet most interrogation experts say torture doesn't work.
We don't know for certain what techniques are being used. We do know that the vice president thinks "dunking" is okay and we know that waterboarding has been used. We know that sexual humiliation, sexual abuse and stress positions have been used -- we've seen the photos. And we know the CIA has shipped detainees off to countries who do use torture. That's what we know. The larger truth concerning facts the government doesn't want us to know is usually a lot worse.
What is torture? Here are some methods being used today as cited in Wikopedia:
Some medieval techniques of torture remain in wide use today. For example, tearing out the nails of the fingers and toes with pliers sometimes after first driving sharp needles into the extremely tender flesh underneath is still in common use. Slowly roasting the soles of the bare feet over hot coals was updated by the Russian KGB by using the flat, hot surface of an everyday clothes iron. Methods of confinement that take advantage of modern medical knowledge are also quite common. The prisoner, suitably bound to deter the expected range of reactive motion, may be connected to an electrical apparatus, where wires are wound around his fingers and toes and an electric probe is used to deliver current to his genitals. A signal generator and attached voltmeter precisely control the intensity of the pain so inflicted. Modern torturers also avail themselves of pharmacological techniques that were unavailable in the past: an example is the injection of drugs that heighten the human brain's perception of, and reaction to, pain before any physical torture is actually employed.Who knows if any of these techniques are being used. The Administration just locks people up, denies them basic cannons of Western civilization, such as habeas corpus, and says "trust us." When all the known empirical evidence shows that we can't.
Friday, November 03, 2006
Father Mychal Judge...who was killed while administering last rights to a fallen fireman on Sept. 11...was an out gay (celibate) priest. His story here and here.
I was looking for someone new to feature on my Gay Profiles in Courage series and found this instead.
Next time you encounter someone who supports ex-gay ministries, ask them if they would encourage their daughter (or neice) to marry an "ex-gay."
So, rather than engaging in glee at the thought of another (alleged) closet case hypocrite exposed, I want to highlight the lives of people who find the courage to live openly and naturally.
The first is Michael Shakelford.
She was talking about my son. And I am a "legal stranger" to him.
I wrote a note to the LTR. "I'm dying." The judge was telling me that I had zero legal rights concerning my son, All rights were vested in his mothers. My name is not on the birth certificate, his mother's partner's name is listed where it says "father."
So despite the fact that he shares my DNA, despite the fact he resembles me, despite the fact that the LTR attended birth classes with the mother, took her food during the pregnancy, cared for her lawn so she would have flowers to look at during difficult days, were present during the birth, wiping her face with a cool cloth and holding her hand, despite caring for him and feeding him at 3 in the morning, despite the fact that he calls me "Dad" and the LTR "Pappa," in the eyes of the law we are nothing but strangers to this boy we love.
Now, I know it's my fault. I didn't take advantage of legal protection when I could have and now it's too late. But I relate this because in states like Virginia ballot amendments are going before the voters that would strip gays of legal protections concerning their families. I know what that feels like. It feels like you've been vomited from the body of society. And it means for the next 16 years the ability to see my son rests solely on the good will of his mother. If she were to decree I could never see him again, there would be nothing I could do about it.
These ballot initiatives have real consequences...they aren't some abstract definition of conservative morality, they will have real meaning for real people and will do real harm to gay families...which include children.
I hope that come next Tuesday enough men and women of good will come together and choose not to make Gay Americans legal strangers to society.
Thursday, November 02, 2006
The content of the blog has gotten almost 100% political, which isn't too surprising since we're closing in on election day and there's lots to write about. I always intended this blog to be about both the political and personal but the tilt entirely to the political in the past week or so has made it seem harder to blog about more personal matters. I'm not sure it's a smart mix.
There's also been fewer posts in the last several days, reflecting the fact that work has picked up and I've been off site at client meetings. Today in NJ for a pitch meeting that went well.
I find it ironic that blogger's spell check does not include the words "blog" or "blogger."
The LTR just got home. I must go.
Wednesday, November 01, 2006
An Annapolis firm, VoxTec International Inc., developed the device and said it has steadily made improvements. But the goal of having a machine replace a human interpreter remains elusive, and the military is mounting a multimillion-dollar campaign to find a more capable successor, one that can translate both sides of a conversation, from English to Arabic and vice versa.In practice it sounds like a Saturday Night Live sketch:
"You say 'house search' and then it will say in Arabic: 'We're here to search your house. Please stay in this room. Do you have any weapons?'" said Tim McCune, the company's president.Why not have it translate, "Hi, how are you?" into, "Hey, are you a terrorist?"
Of course, the shortage of translators wouldn't be as acute if the military would stop discharging translators because they are gay.
According to the New Republic:
Between 1998 and 2004, the military discharged 20 Arabic and six Farsi language speakers under the "don't ask, don't tell" policy. The new data are not broken down by year, but additional figures from other reports suggest that about half the Arabic discharges came after September 11.Tell me again. Why aren't we winning in Iraq?