Sunday, November 30, 2008

How Does an Agnostic Explain Death to a Child?

He dodges. Well, this agnostic dodged.

Eli out of the blue the other day said, "I'm sad."

"Why are you sad?" I asked.

"I miss Ranger."

Ranger, in case you haven't been paying attention, was our dog who lived with us for nearly 16 years who died in August.

The topic came up again on the drive to Akron for Thanksgiving. He was talking again about Ranger. The LTR said she was in Heaven with God.

"Daddy, who's God?" he said.

Hoo boy.

"A woman named 'Oprah,'" I almost said. I quickly thought better of that and took the courageous option. "Pappa will tell you," I said.

Look, I could do the heaven and God bit as tools to explain death in a way that's at least somewhat palatable. The idea of living after death in paradise makes death seem, almost, well, bearable.

I'd like to believe in a heaven where we meet our lost loved ones and enjoy paradise forever. Oblivion scares me. Not being scares the shit out of me. And I guess I project that fear unto my son. Maybe he could deal with the idea that this life is it. After all, he is all about living in the moment. Instead we sugar coat it.

I couldn't give him the standard Christrian spin, though I'd once drank that Kool-aid. And although I'm not able to proclaim the existance of God I'm not ready to deny His existance. I just don't know. And uncertainty just doesn't seem, well, fatherly. It's not comforting.

But it's comforting to hear the LTR use the usual religious crutches in explaining God and Heaven to him.

But one thing I notice...there is no difference between the version of God and life after death explained to a four year old and the version understood by a 40-year-old.

I guess when it comes to death we are all children afraid of the dark.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

'I No Longer believe in Marriage"

Via Andrew Sullivan, Tom Ackerman has an idea:

Tell 'em you don't recognize marriage anymore. And watch them squirm.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Conversation from a Bookstore

Me: Hands the clerk the book I am buying.

Clerk: Oh, I need to read this one.

Me: Actually, I'm going to read this one, but you can read one of the others back on the shelf.

Clerk: stares at me.

Well, I mean, really...

Goddamned

That's the name of the title track of Jay Brannan's new album. It's a great album, get it on iTunes.

But with all the recent examples of people voting their religious prejudices into state constitutions and laws, I thought it a good time to post this particular song. If you're religious and your faith isn't strong enough to withstand riddicule, stop reading. No, I take that back. Especially if you can't withstand riddicule of the myths you cling to, please keep reading. Here's one of my favorite parts to the song, speaking of mythology:

zeus was afraid of his girlfriend
so he swallowed her in bed
then he bore forth athena
when they cracked open his head
her brother tried to rape her
athena got away
and when his seed hit the ground
the grass gave birth that day
now we all freely admit
this story's clearly bullshit
no one would lay down their life
or start a war for it
so throw your stones and pray
you'll be rewarded someday
i hope it all goes your way
but something tells me
no one's coming to save you
no one's coming to save you
no one's coming to save you
save yourselves
from turning earth into hell

Here's the vid:

Things We Hate About Christmas

Not just that it's not even Thanksgiving yet, for chrissakes, and we're hearing Christmas music...it's the advertisers who use Christmas tunes with rewritten lyrics to hawk their crap.

The most abused holiday tune for this purpose? Hark are the Bells. Coming to a Garmin commercial near you, Ad nauseum.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

A Workout We Can Believe In

Obama skips church and goes to the gym.

See? He really wasn't in the pew during the "God damn America sermon." He was on the StairMaster.

Does it bother anyone else that he has to be defensive about not going to church? The most connected to God I ever felt was alone, high in the Peruvian Andes. No church, no preacher, no steeple. Just God. And me. And great cardio. Perhaps StairMaster is the true stairway to Heaven.

And I like songwriter Jay Brannan's take:

Why don't the Gideon's put condoms in the drawers?
Bibles don't save many people anymore.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Obama and DADT

I think I understand why Obama will move slower than I would (and the community would) like on repealling DADT. Some read his appearent un-boldness to a lack of commitment to the repeal. Others think it's undue caution. These people say Obama is afraid of an anti-gay backlash like (Bill) Clinton failed to stand up to.

I think differently. I haven't seen anything (yet) that makes me think Obama is backing off his conviction that DADT is unjust and should be repealed. And I do think people are more accepting of gays in the military now than when (Bill) Clinton was first elected.

But. The comparisons he would invite between the start of his administration and the (Bill) Clinton one would be inevitable if he tackles this out of the starting gate. That's a comparison that I wouldn't want made of my administration. It has nothing to do with fears of an anti-gay backlash...and has more to do with not wanting to be seen as Clinton Part III

Yes, yes...lots there are lots of Clintonites popping up in the new Obama administration, including Bill's wife. But Cheney and Rumsfeld were Ford administration retreads and the George W. Bush tenure was just so much like the Ford years, no?

The top guy and what he does is what matters, and so far Obama has been careful not to replicate (Bill) Clinton's mistakes during his transition. That would include not jumping on DADT. Not because of substance or a fear of a backlash or a changing of heart...but because he doesn't want to provide an easy narrative that compares his actions to the former president...who got off to a rocky start. Obama is about smooth. He will do this, I think...but find the smooth path, if possible.

Obama can appoint Clinton people...he just can't act like (Bill) Clinton.

And if the smooth path is not possible, ole Barack better be willing to take a few rocks for the gays who want to serve. Because he said he would and it's the right thing to do.

I have returned.

Back from Hawaii. I fetched our son home for Thanksgiving.


Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Honoring All Veterans

I'll always feel humbled by those men and women who left the comforts of home and have served in the U.S. military to protect and defend our freedoms. I'm especially proud of the gay men and women who serve proudly despite it being illegal for them to do so under Don't Ask Don't Tell.

The first casualty of the current war with Iraq, Marine Sgt. Eric Alva, tells his story and why DADT should be repealed.


Keith Olbermann Speaks Out on Prop 8

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Obama and Gay Rights -- Don't Get Your Hopes Up

I was a gay cheerleader for Obama, no question, and am thrilled and relieved he won.

But this quote from Joe Solmonese, leader of the Human Rights Campaign, is just insane:

“I think this is a milestone moment in American history and a milestone moment for the GLBT community,” Solmonese said.

What? The election of a Democrat is automatically a "milestone" moment for the GLBT community?

Shouldn't we wait until Obama has actually delivered something for the gay community before declaring victory for our community?

The WashBlade article that quoted Solmonese is rife with swooning statements from other gay rights leaders. Feeling the euphoria, you'd have thought voters defeated the anti-gay initiatives in three states instead of the depressing opposite.

Hey guys -- by declaring victory for gay rights and your love for Obama before he's actually done anything, aren't you taking the pressure off of him to actually do anything? You've not so subtly telegraphed that a democratic victory in and of itself = gay victory. And it ain't necessarily so. Remember Bill Clinton and Don't Ask Don't Tell not to mention DOMA?

We gays have our noses so far up the Dems asses they don't need to stick their neck out for us to retain our votes and our money. After all, where else will we go, right?

Can you name me one Democratic office holder of national prominence who has taken a risky stand for gay marriage when it would matter? If Obama is so eager to help gays, he could have taken a vocal stand against Prop 8, which he was said to be against. It could have made a difference.

So, I'm skeptical. And I would think it'd be smart politics if our so called gay "leaders" would be too, and not wet themselves just because we elected more Democrats to office.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Nasa Image of the Day: Obama Logo in Space?

NASA says these are galaxies in the constellation Cetus...but if you look at the smallest one (in the circular galaxy in the middle)
don't you see something a little familiar?

Out with the Old, In With the New

Fareed Zakaria notes that we're poised on a new age in which the old liberal vs. conservative ways of looking at the world don't work anymore. The Democrats, he seems to suggest, adapted, while the Republicans clung to their obsolesence:

Conservatives were ascendant in the 1980s and 1990s because they offered
powerful prescriptions for the problems of the 1970s--stagflation and social
unrest at home, and Soviet expansionism abroad. Arguing for less government,
traditional values and a tough response to Moscow worked. But though the world
changed, conservatives have trotted out the same ideas to every successive
crisis. Consider John McCain's response when asked how he would handle the Wall
Street meltdown. McCain vowed to end earmark spending, which has absolutely
nothing to do with restoring confidence and credit to the markets.

I felt the same way about McCain's saber-rattling over Russia's invasion of Georgia -- he was treating Russia like the Soviet Union and casting West vs. East as if the Cold War was still on.

Obama recognizes the change and you could hear explicit expressions of it in some of his rhetoric. I recall hearing him say something like this:

"The question today isn't whether Americans want big or small
government. That's the old question. Today, Americans want
better government."

Who after Katrina couldn't agree more with that?

The Republican Party has some serious soul searching to do and it needs to find itself. My Republican friends (the few still talking to me) all agree the party needs to return to "real conservatism." Then agreement stops when I ask them to define what "true conservatism" is.

Meantime, Obama stands astride history. Conservatism, as I knew (and supported) in the 80s and 90s may not be dead but it is obsolete. We'll see what Obama can achieve in this new era and if the Republicans can find their footing.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Reax on Prop 8

Andrew Sullivan tries to find a positive note while conceding this was a gut-punch:

My own marriage exists and is real without the approval of others. One day soon, it will be accepted by a majority. And this initiative in California can and will be reversed, as California's initiatives are much more fluid than those in other states; and the younger generation is overwhelmingly - 2 to 1 - in our favor. The tide of history is behind us; but we will have to work harder to educate people about our lives and loves and humanity.

It cannot be denied that this feels like a punch in the gut. It is. I'm not going to pretend that the wound isn't deep and personal, like an attack on my own family. It was meant to be. Many Obama supporters voted against our rights, and Obama himself opposes our full civil equality. The religious folk who believe that Jesus stood for the marginalization of minorities, and who believe that my equality somehow threatens their children, will, I pray, see how misguided they have become. And make no mistake: they won this by playing on very deep fears of gay people around kids. They knew the levers to pull.


Dan Savage finds a new culture war:

African American voters in California voted overwhelmingly for Prop 8, writing anti-gay discrimination into California’s constitution and banning same-sex marriage in that state. Seventy percent of African American voters approved Prop 8, according to exit polls, compared to 53% of Latino voters, 49% of white voters, 49% of Asian voters.

I’m not sure what to do with this. I’m thrilled that we’ve just elected our first African-American president. I wept last night. I wept reading the papers this morning. But I can’t help but feeling hurt that the love and support aren’t mutual.

I do know this, though: I’m done pretending that the handful of racist gay white men out there—and they’re out there, and I think they’re scum—are a bigger problem for African Americans, gay and straight, than the huge numbers of homophobic African Americans are for gay Americans, whatever their color.


Ar Pam's House Blend, Autumn is upset that voters approved animal rights but denied gay rights:

Whether or not Proposition 8 ends up being defeated or being approved by California voters, one way to look at the Prop 8 vote is in light of the Proposition 2 vote. And that is that a larger percentage of Californians are against mistreating farm animals in hoow these animals are caged than are against mistreating gay and lesbian human beings by eliminating their fundamental marriage rights. Put simply, If one evaluates by the votes cast and the percentages of the votes cast, the rights of farm animals appear to be more important to Californians than the rights of gay and lesbian human beings.
Dale Carpenter notes we gays are still the detested "other:"

Over the past few days I’ve volunteered at various sites in the Bay Area trying to get people to come out and vote against Prop 8. This included speaking at a rally, distributing literature, and holding up signs to passing motorists. While I got an overwhelmingly favorable reception, not surprising for the Bay Area, I saw firsthand an angry and ugly underbelly of the opposition to gay marriage. I was called a “sicko,” had the Bible cited to me more than once, was asked whether I’d want my "own child to be one,” and was told that “they” molest lots of children, among other things.

And Eugene Volokh offers the depressing analysis that those who got married while it was legal will lose their designation:

According to the text of the amendment, as soon as the amendment takes effect, only male-female marriages are valid or recognized. (Nor is there any language in the initiative summary, or the supporters' arguments, that purports to interpret this text as not applying to existing marriages.)










Some Marriage Equality Good News

Rabid homophobe Rep. Marilyn Musgrave, author of the Federal Marriage Amendment, lost her bid for re-election.

So sad.

Not.

Author Michael Crichton

Dies of cancer at 66.

Wrote Andromeda Strain and Jurassic Park, among many others.

Thoughts on Prop 8

Fuck.

That's the short version.

That a majority can vote to stip rights from a minority is fucked up. That some people get to vote to invalidate the relationships of others is fucked up. That people who overwhelmingly voted for change by supporting Barack Obama also voted their homophobia is fucking infuriating.

I'm also mad at myself. I was so obsessed with the Obama campaign I didn't pay much attention until the end. So I made some donations, posted a few blog comments and sent a few emails. Looking at it rationally, there was nothing I could have done to change the outcome. The blacks and Latinos who flooded the polls also voted for discrimination. But I still feel like I could have done more, should have done more.

As goes California, so goes DC. We may have hope in the White House, but I can give up my hope that DC will follow California and pass marriage equality.

Perhaps gay rights hit its high water mark in my lifetime with the California State Supreme Court ruling. Our charge for full equality was soundly defeated yesterday. And I fear it's an electoral loss that will take a generation to overcome.

I am bitter. I want to declare I will never again attend another wedding. I will never perform in another wedding, as I have twice in the last year and a half. Until gays can legally wed in this country, let's stop attending their weddings, stop giving them gifts, stop making floral arrangements, planning their ceremonies and serving as their bridesmaids and groomsmen.

Fuck marriage.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Yes We Did

Thank You, Kenny Chesney, for Getting Me Through the Election

I've been trailing the candidates in multiple states since January: Nevada, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Missouri and Colorado.

I bought my first Kenny Chesney CD in Las Vegas and have been adding to it ever since.

So, thanks, Kenny, for helping me keep sane (and awake driving to all those campaign events).

And I'm totally ready to belt "She Thinks My Tractor's Sexy" at a karaoke near you...

Vote for Change

Today I voted for change.

Not just a change in who lives in the White House. Not a change in policy. I voted for a change in the guiding vision for this country. I voted for the hope that Americans can overcome our differences and be one people in a time of great challenge. I voted for the hope that we can debate the great issues before us without demonizing our opponents or relying on appeals to our basest instincts. I voted for the optimism of "yes we can" that proclaims - despite the dark clouds before us -- that better days are on the horizon. I voted for an America where people aren't defined by their race or religion. An America where the son of a broken home and of mixed racial heritage and of modest means can be the President of the United States.

The line to vote was the longest I've seen in the 11 years I've voted in the District, which was no surprise. It was like attending church service -- quiet thought, interrupted by moments of great joy, as when a DC Metrobus went by and the kids on board held up handmade Obama signs for those in line to vote to see.

And now, we wait.

Monday, November 03, 2008

I got side-tracked and didn't finish posting the rest of my reasons for voting for Obama. Here they are:

Calm and rationale in a crisis.

One can disagree with him on an issue and not be demonized as anti-American or unpatriotic. Or labeled a "terrorist."


He is literate and articulate and can explain his thoughts rationally.


He will not condone torture.


After misleading the country into an uneccessary war, the Republicans have shown they cannot be trusted with executive power.


He made a responsible pick for vice president.


He has the best chance of inspiring the country to unity in a time of great financial crisis and two wars.






McScrooged

No candy for McCain supporters! And if you ask me, the kid in the top hat about two-thirds through shows more intelligence and maturity than this insane McCain supporter (remember, "I'm proud of all my supporters." -- John McCain) Hattip: Earthling Blues


Stupid Headline

From the Pittsburgh Gazette:

Election is Tuesday; early voting ends tomorrow


Gee, ya think?

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Home

It don't take no ruby slippers and wicked witches to make me realize that there is no place like it. It's been almost non-stop travel the second half of this year, with the last month being constant travel and near-constant separation from the LTR. Next up is holiday travel and a trip to Hawaii to pick up my son. All good things.

But for now...two weeks at home. My own bed. My own shower of my design. My books. My dog. Pictures of my family. The LTR. The usual routine.

Bliss.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Patrick Mara for Dc City Council At-Large

I'll be voting for Patrick Mara for the DC City Council At Large seat.

The primary reason is that he will be an unabashed supporter of marriage equality in the District. His opponent, Carol Schwartz, a long time Council member and otherwise supportive of the gay community here, has until recently opposed it. I remember the HRC marriage rights rally where she proclaimed her support for civil unions but said marriage is between a man and a woman; so I wonder now how solid her support for the issue really is. When she states her support for gay marriage now it's with much hemming and hawing. I doubt we'd get much bold action from her should the DC Council take it up, which it is expected to in 09.

No such wishy-washyness from Republican Patrick Mara. He unequivocally states his support for gay marriage in the District. Further, he has stated his support for the Mayor's education plan. Although I don't have any children in the DC public school system, my tax dollars pay for it and any adult in the District should be ashamed of it. We're letting the kids down. Mayor Fenty's Administration has made progress in turning it around. Mara is behind the Mayor. I'm not sure Shwartz is.

In fact, after perusing her Web site, I'm not sure about anything about her. Yes, she posts past legislation she has supported. But in a change election year running on your record isn't the best tactic. I want to know what you want to do. I want to know your vision for DC.

It's not clear Schwartz has one. I believe Mara does. For those reasons I'll be voting for him this Tuesday.

(yes, I know there are other candidates running for this seat, but in my mind the only real choice was between Mara and Schwartz).