30 November 2007

World AIDS Day...

In thinking about World AIDS Day tommorow, December 1st, I was going to post something, I don't know, moving, activistic, attention-getting..., but I was struck by an obituary in today's Chicago Sun-Times -

Reverend Anthony Hollins, 1965-2007 Pastor also an AIDS activist, choreographer.
"He was a tireless worker," said Iva Carruthers, who heads the Samuel D. Proctor Conference, a group that works with 5,000 ministers throughout the country. "He believed he was called to do his work."

Mr. Hollins, senior project manager for the Proctor Conference, was Carruthers' top aide, organizing such events as public hearings on the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

But his work didn't end there. Rev. Hollins also was an AIDS activist, dance choreographer and minister....

During the 1980s he performed with the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater. He also performed with Gus Giordano Jazz Dance Chicago. He served as personal assistant to the executive producer of the "Judge Mathis" show and co-produced the television shows "Time for Healing" and "House on Fire....

Mr. Hollins formed his own dance troupe for youth, The New Life Performance Company, and taught dance at Trinity United Church of Christ and St. Sabina Catholic Church."

I never met Rev. Hollins, but I do remember reading about him in Chicago Community papers and hearing about him from friends in the African-American community. The courage for a Black man to work in the area of AIDS awareness, on the Southside of Chicago, and who was HIV+ is monumental. The Black Community is normally in complete denial of a problem even existing. He was marvelous. He will be sorely missed.

In the article there was a sentence that, as they say, took the wind out of my sails.
Mr. Hollins was to be the recipient of the "Hope and Spirit Award" at the Gospel Shoutout for the 2007 World AIDS Day of Prayer, sponsored by Walgreens and U.S. Rep. Danny Davis.

Tomorrow, December 1st.

His is one death in many, I know. When 6,000 children each day loose a parent to AIDS, the problem is global. He was one of the people taking action trying to help at least one of these children. His job was important and he took on the challenge. Not only will he be missed, there will be a large hole in the community and the universe.

John F. Kennedy wrote a book called Profiles in Courage. If the book was written today, Anthony Hollins' would be one of the chapters.

You can read more about World AIDS Day here.

it does take a queen for the right perspective...

Mario Cantone:
"There is nothing stranger than seeing a 45-year-old woman in a baby doll dress"

about Marie Osmond's ragdoll get-up on Dancing with the Stars

i love Mario Cantone, especially the stories about his family and his aunt. being from an Italian family, i can really identify with it.....

45-year-old babydoll?

if you read this quickly, hopefully, you didn't get a mental picture... oops, to late!


you are in luck though. i couldn't find a photo of her in it. only the video

- i mean, if you're up to it or if you haven't seen it or... if you liked it?

UPDATE: 2:20 pm - for those of you in the Chicagoland area, i just saw this in today's paper. Marie will be here NEXT week on Friday with her Magic of Christmas show. you're in luck.

[i don't believe that i typed the word lust initially instead of luck. is my Freudian slip showing? you always have to let a girl know when she can't see behind herself.... oops, i think i just had a nellie attack. lord, i haven't had one of those in years! forgot how good they can feel...]

Marie Osmond in Chicago.dll.png

an idea the Repubs could use to get the voters up and out...

BANGKOK, Thailand -- Vote-buying is an old practice in Thai politics, but one candidate for December's Thai election has reportedly come up with a new tactic -- handing out Viagra instead of cash.

The allegation, made Thursday by a campaign worker against a rival party, comes as rules about handing out favors to voters have become stricter than ever, barring even the distribution of free T-shirts and soft drinks.

Sayan Nopcha, a campaigner for the People's Power Party in Pathum Thai province just north of Bangkok, said the drug used to treat sexual dysfunction in men was being distributed to elderly male voters at social functions. AP

NOT even in Chicago, the home of Vote Early and Vote Often, would we stoop so low to do something so insulting as this.

at the lease, we'd make sure there was a hooker chaser...

tequila or otherwise...

Buchanan & DADT: it must have been a joke....

Pat Buchanan accused Brigadier Gen. Keith Kerr of lacking courage by his question at the Republican CNN/youtube debate the other night - Pat Buchanan: Retired gay Brigadier General lacked 'courage' for not coming out sooner. He had to have been making a funny.

Buchanan is adamant about upholding the law of the land, and Don't Ask Don't Tell is the law of the land.

The general swore an oath -
"I, _____ (SSAN), having been appointed an officer in the Army of the United States, as indicated above in the grade of _____ do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign or domestic, that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservations or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office upon which I am about to enter; So help me God." Oaths of Enlistment and Oaths of Office

In Buchanan's own words:
"When the general did not identify himself as a fierce partisan of Hillary Rodham Clinton and presented himself simply as a military man who had served and who was gay, and who obviously did not have the courage, frankly, when he was in the military to come out of the closet and say 'I'm gay,' and to attack the Republicans for lacking the courage to take a position he was unable to take; I think makes him look rather bad."

It's a joke. Right?

Is Mr. Buchanan saying that Brig. General Kerr should have broken the law? Just the name DADT - Don't Ask Don't Tell - explains the law clearly.

The true courage that Gen. Kerr showed is in following the law against his own personal convictions. I'm sure to be a brigadier general one must have more than average intelligence, shown exemplary actions in the line of duty, and acted respectfully of both his/her oath of office and the Constitution.

Is Buchanan talking out of both sides of his mouth - at the same time?

just asking...

oh, and the NYT today has a story entitled A New Push to Roll Back ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’.
Marking the 14th anniversary of legislation that allowed gay men and lesbians to serve in the military but only if they kept their orientation secret, 28 retired generals and admirals plan to release a letter on Friday urging Congress to repeal the law.

“We respectfully urge Congress to repeal the ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ policy,” the letter says. “Those of us signing this letter have dedicated our lives to defending the rights of our citizens to believe whatever they wish.”

The NYT even has a graphic showing that LGBT men and women are abiding by the law in following it and staying in the Armed Services against their own personal convictions in order to support and defend the Constitution of the United States:

DADT military chart.jpg

Is Mr. Buchanan going to say that these 28 retired generals not coming forward while they were in service showed lack of courage also? After all, they too were upholding the law of the land by supporting the DADT when they were on active duty. It can't be because they were all gay. The leading member of the group is Gen. John M. Shalikashvili, retired chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Wait! Again, I'm sorry. I forgot that Gen. Shalikashvili is an immigrant from the Georgian region of Russia. Mr. Buchanan's new book, Day of Reckoning: How Hubris, Ideology, and Greed Are Tearing America Apart talks at length about how the polyglot and the opening of U.S. borders are helping to diminish and disassemble this great nation of... immigrants. That must be part of problem. He's actually one of those liberal, secular Europeans. That's it. Those people accept everyone and go against everything that is traditionally American. You know - disenfranchisement, bigotry, christianism, unacceptance. We've fought wars to protect these things.

oh, wait, again. So did General Shalikashvili and the other generals and admirals. Even if they didn't support those kinds of beliefs, because they believed you had the right to have them.

duh! Mr. Buchanan, you're an immigrant too, and as my grandfather would say from pig-shit Irish. He knew. He was one. My grandmother, on the other hand was lace curtain Irish. With my mother's family being Italian after being exiled from Albania 500-600 years ago due to the Ottoman Empire's Islamic horde invading the enitre Adriatic area, I come from the best of both worlds, actually all worlds.

and I'll tell...


because i had a s****y week and i need it - iPhone going weird, car seat not working AND a herniate disc...

we all need a laugh...

A winter statistic



why does the week(s) after Thanksgiving always seem sooooo loooooonnnnnngggggggg?

28 November 2007

fallout from ENDA...

As a result of the exclusion of transgender from the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), there has been a couple of major resignations over at the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) from its pullout in the organization's previous support for an all-inclusive bill.

Donna Rose and Jamison Green have resigned as the only transgender members of the HRC Business Council. Donna had previously resigned from the HRC Board of Directors over its pullout. I believe this now severs all relationships between the organization and her.

Normally, I am not in favor of resignation as a form of protest. Divorcing oneself from a situation prevents working from the inside to make change happen. Also, there is always someone out there waiting to replace you, and usually supporting what management wants.

This time, I think their resignations are the best call for action. There are four sentences in their resignation letter that glare and shout at me:
On November 8, the day after the ENDA vote in the House of Representatives, we requested an opportunity to meet personally with HRC President Joe Solmonese to share our concerns and to discuss HRC's strategy for addressing recent legislative shortcomings before making a decision to stay or go. As the only transgender representatives on the Business Council our community expects us to have some influence, or at least to receive the courtesy of a consultation. Almost 3 weeks have passed since that request and we have heard nothing in response. This lack of response speaks volumes, so we feel compelled to take this stand today.

Speaks volumes is a bit of an understatement. When management has a bunker mentality, it is almost impossible to help change happen. Sometimes it takes a shock treatment or a complete lobotomy to try to force revision and rethinking of an organization's stance. Unfortunately, we take a calculated risk by taking actions like these. We can never be certain it will have an effect until much later.

In this case, I certainly hope it does. It's making a stir at Pam's House Blend and PageONeQ. Two sites that make a difference.

HRC has not been one of my favorite groups for a long time. Personally, I think that they focused too much on the divisive same-sex marriage issue at the expense of broader issues such as ENDA.

I understand that the marriage issue can be considered part of the broader sense of equality, but it has its own aura of emotionality for the wingnuts and others. ENDA is less so, if we are to believe the polls. People seem more willing to accept equality in job and living while not attacking their solemn, most sacred rite of marriage. [If you would like to know my personal view on the marriage issue, check out the NYT OpEd by Stephanie Coontz in this past Monday's issue. People should do whatever they like, and historically marriage in its present form is a fairly new conception.]

As far as meeting the needs of the far wider community, the marriage issue has been a distraction. Now we have further distraction with this latest move on ENDA.

I understand full well that passing a bill in any form was and should be a priority, but a loud and long commitment should have been made by HRC to take steps to make it totally inclusive - with not exceptions, even if it meant in the future.

Silence to the request by Donna and Jamison for a meeting doesn't send a supportive message. It speaks loud words of possible other issues and reflects the dissension that LGB's - at least as HRC - want to keep quiet from the population as a whole. The truth is much more powerful than any agenda.

as a sidebar - couldn't find anything about the resignations on the HRC website. I don't know if that means anything. It's just curious.

universal healthcare policy...

...he departs A. W. O. L. to establish a community clinic in a little up-State village where his father, a physician of the horse-and-buggy school, is dangerously overworked. Naturally the local housewives didn't like disclosing intimacies to such an upstart, and the young doctor meets all kinds of opposition — no mention, of course, is made of the American Medical Association—until he correctly diagnoses the mysterious ailment of one of the town elders. Movie Review, New York Times, Dr. Kildare Goes Home, September 19, 1940.

And the solution to all of the opposition? Dr. Kildare, in the movie, starts the clinic with the idea that everyone in the town of approximately 1,000 people pays the clinic 10¢ a week to support and keep the clinic open to ALL, not just those who can afford healthcare. Oh, and he also has a very radical idea to keep the costs down - preventive medecine.

It seems that the issue of universal healthcare has been around for a long time. Fighting the same battles, meeting identical roadblocks [notice the sly mention of the AMA in the review], and jumping similar hurdles.

Let's see... 1940 to 2007........ hmmmm, that's 67 years, and where are we now?

Sounds like an indistinguishable battle to me. Mr. Bush wouldn't even sign the S-CHIP bill to support our kids. The first link on the government's website for the program is Low Cost Health Insurance for Families & Children. Read low cost as the real reason the Tsar and his compatriots will not support it.

Where's the money in it for them?

"Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose." - the more things change, the more they stay the same...

do we need a Dr. Kildare and a mysterious ailment of epic proportions to force the change to happen?

just asking...

this is exactly how i'm feeling these days...

i had been searching for the exact words that would describe what i've been feeling lately but Dustin Hoffman's father-in-law said it perfectly -
Actor Dustin Hoffman explains about aging gracefully: "I remember when I hit 60, my father-in-law said to me, 'How do you feel?' I said, 'Well, I accept being middle-aged.' He said, 'Middle-aged? How many people do you know who are 120?' "

my grandmother also had a saying that i've always loved -
The man who said life begins at 40 should have been shot!

and of course there's what i always said to RT -
Life's a bitch and then you die.

and he did. seventeen years ago. he'd laugh everytime i'd say it...

wow! talk about bizarre! today would have been RT's 63rd (?) birthday and it is the 16th anniversary of my father's death.

the mind certainly does work in mysterious ways...

27 November 2007

Article II section 2 - U.S. Constitution...

He [the President] shall have power, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, to make treaties, provided two thirds of the Senators present concur;

New York Times headline, 27, November 2007 - U.S. and Iraq to Negotiate Pact on Long-Term Relations money quote -
The “Declaration of Principles” signed Monday via video link by President Bush and the Iraqi prime minister, Nuri Kamal al-Maliki, does not specify the eventual number of American troops nor the length of their deployment. That issue is certain to be central in the 2008 presidential campaign that will be under way as American and Iraqi negotiators work toward a July deadline on a treaty governing relations between the two countries.

The question -

Does this, then, mean when the negotiations are completed [projected for July 2008] that the treaty will be presented to the Senate for the mandated two-thirds majority?


will we see some finagling* by the Bush/Cheney administration?

just asking...

*fi·na·gle (fə-nā'gəl); verb: intransitive: 1. to use crafty, deceitful methods; 2. to get or achieve (something) by guile, trickery, or manipulation

we've not seen any of this for the last four years, have we?

Edwards health plan Gestapo-like?

The Democratic candidates aren't immune from proposing things that are forced on people either.
Edwards says, "every time [people] come into contact with either the healthcare system or the government, whether it's payment of taxes, school, going to the library, whatever it is they will be signed up."
Edwards Gets Into The Mandate Scrum -- Jonathan Cohn, TNR, 27 November 2007

How would this happen? What if I don't want to? Why do I have to do it? How much will it cost?

Why not just socialize the entire thing?

wait... that would be, ummm, undemocratic?

just asking..

Romney & the American dream...

He makes it very clear that it is not for everyone:
I asked Mr. Romney whether he would consider including qualified Americans of the Islamic faith in his cabinet as advisers on national security matters, given his position that "jihadism" is the principal foreign policy threat facing America today. He answered, "…based on the numbers of American Muslims [as a percentage] in our population, I cannot see that a cabinet position would be justified. But of course, I would imagine that Muslims could serve at lower levels of my administration."
A MUSLIM BELONGS IN THE CABINET - by Mansoor Ijaz in the Christian Science Monitor

The Republicans are anti-quotas and political appointments based on identity.

So what about pro-quotas?

Like, no Muslims. No Lesbians. No Gays. No Jews. No African-Americans, etc.

How about NO Mormons?

just asking...

Chicago Sun-Times: Shock makes Cheney's heart OK...

on page 26! and this was the entire story:
WASHINGTON -- Doctors administered an electrical shock Monday to Vice President Dick Cheney's heart and restored it to a normal rhythm. Cheney went home after the procedure. AP

two sentences, buried in a small corner on a back page...

were that it was this simple...

does it count as understatement or hyperbole?

just asking...

26 November 2007

H.E.D.A.C. -- a little bit of hope ...

goes a long way...

In spite of the politics going on in this country, we've just finished a holiday for thanksgiving and we are beginning a holiday of giving. The media is rife with all the news of spending and gift giving and cheer and happiness. I'd like to take this time to let you in on a little secret that began here in Chicago in 2005 by some friends.

As a result of Hurricane Mitch in 1998, most of the countries in Central America suffered unbelievable damage and destruction. Hurricane Mitch was probably the strongest to ever hit the area with winds over 180 mph.

One of the most devastated countries was Honduras. It's infrastructure as well as economy was nearly destroyed. One of the biggest losers was education. The schools in the outlying regions were in complete disarray and non-functioning. The children were the most effected and the least worried about.

H.E.D.A.C. was organized by friends to directly deal with the children, the schools, the towns and the people instead of going through a myriad of governmental and philanthropic organizations. They go down to Honduras each January and work with the schools and system. The organization takes itself to the fore. Here are some photos that show what they do.

Back Packs.jpg
piles of backpacks...

Supply Pack.jpg
supplies in each backpack...

HEDAC Desks.jpg
a truckload of desks for a school...

Painting a Schoolroom.jpg
painting one of the classrooms...

The kids.jpg
a gaggle of the kids,
with their backpacks...

2007 Group.jpg
the group on the 2007 trip

As you can see, they put themselves out-there for these kids.

I invite you to visit their website - H.E.D.A.C. and help out.

The site has a link to MAKE A DONATION and I have put a permanent link in my sidebar. The 2008 trip is coming up quickly in January and you can help make a difference.

Education is the greatest gift you can give - to anyone...

the state of the "process of government" in a single statement...

The quickest way to destroy the functionality of American government is to destroy the rule of law itself. Declare the Executive supreme and beholden to nothing, flood the Department of Justice and the federal courts with lickspittle political loyalists with no personal code of honor, upend the balanced counterweight of the separation of powers, terrify the populace into submission to avoid any hue and cry, roll out the grand distraction of war to get the flags waving and the newsrooms into line, and never obey any law or regulation imposed by anyone, ever. "Bad, Worse, Worst and Beyond" by William Rivers Pitt in Truthout

When you couple this statement with the article in Harper's I mentioned in a post yesterday, Resurrecting the Star Chamber, the situation has a focus that should no longer be blurry but the media, and even the cable networks, have been ignoring it. Keith Olbermann has come the closest but I'm not sure how serious anyone really takes the things he's saying.

I'm beyond angry. I'm more sad and scared. No, actually, I'm scared to death. There are 11 months left until the 2008 election and 13 months left until we actually have a new president. Anything can happen in that time, and if the wrong person becomes president, it will get even worse.

great suggestion for the new Surgeon General...

Saw this on a t-shirt and the more I thought about it, the more sense it made.

Lorreena Bobbitt for Surgeon General

think about it... It just might make Mr. Bush consider the things he's doing with a little bit more intensity.

cajones, man..., cajones.....................

monday morning mayhem...

1. Just how dry is it in Georgia?
It is so dry in Georgia that
- the Baptist are starting to baptize by sprinkling,
- the Methodists are using wet-wipes,
- the Presbyterians are giving rainchecks,
- and the Catholics are praying for the wine to turn back into water!

2. I need a favor...
My neighbor has a puppy he's giving away (FREE!). It's a Dachshund, it's house broken, and it's great with kids.

He's giving it away because his wife says the dog 'stares' at her when she is undressing, and that gives her the 'Heebie Jeebies'. I think she is just weird!

If you're interested, or know someone who is, let me know. Here's a picture of the dog.

Free dog.jpg

they do say people and their dogs look alike...

3. church bulletin bloopers...

The sermon this morning: "Jesus Walks on the Water." The sermon
tonight: "Searching for Jesus."

Ladies, don't forget the rummage sale. It's a chance to get rid of those things not worth keeping around the house. Bring your husbands.

Miss Charlene Mason sang "I will not pass this way again," giving obvious pleasure to the congregation.

Next Thursday there will be tryouts for the choir. They need all the
help they can get.

Potluck supper Sunday at 5:00 PM - prayer and medication to follow.

The Associate Minister unveiled the church's new campaign slogan last Sunday: "I Upped My Pledge - Up Yours."

these are all real. oh, my...

4. sex and the elderly...

Maxine older sex life.jpeg

y'all have a great week, now, ya hear...

25 November 2007

now, this brings up a lot of questions about equality...


the Europeans just have such a much better attitude about this sort of thing.

what d'ya think?

more proof of John Dean's "Broken Government"...

Harper's Magazine has a powerful article by Scott Horton entitled "Resurrecting the Star Chamber". It makes the case that the Bush/Cheney administration has been in the process of resurrecting the "Star Chamber" used during the Stuart and Tudor reigns and abused highly during the terror of King Charles. It was the model of what our Constitution is not.
When the Founding Fathers looked for a model that reflected the abuses they objected to—in short what they intended to forbid by their new Constitution and Bill of Rights—they turned to an English institution, the Court of Star Chamber. It was a state security court with ancient roots which flourished under the Tudor and Stuart monarchs. The Star Chamber court operated in secrecy, was not bothered by the picky evidentiary rules that emerged in other courts, and did not believe that those appearing before it on state security charges had many rights—certainly not the right to counsel, nor even the right to conduct a defense. It relied very heavily on torture to extract the evidence it sought to convict, usually a confession—though rarely, of course, a confession with any validity, since the application of the rack would quickly get the subject to say whatever was desired, truthful or not.

Sound familiar?

Horton has a little tidbit in his article that is scary as all hell.
Reports have begun to circulate that the Administration has put together a group of scholars headed by a right-wing activist judge to craft legislation to introduce a new court of Star Chamber, perhaps to be floated in the coming year.

It's not that far of a stretch using Horton's logic.
As we see in the public pronouncements of the Bush Administration, accusations leveled at detainees in the war on terror are leveled for political effect, and often to parallel partisan political campaigns. If those accusations are rejected by a court, it therefore undermines confidence in the Administration and the Party. Which is why, in the Bush view of justice, a failure to convict is unacceptable. And which is why the Bush view of justice is no justice at all.

The Tsar and his Rasputin have seriously derailed the Constitution and railroaded the Courts by stacking it with partisanship and influenced it with politics. There is less and less transparency left in our Government.

If you haven't yet read John Dean's book Broken Government, I highly recommend it. Dean follows the history and outlines the steps that the neocons, christianists, and wingnuts have taken to not just take over the game but used deliberate strategies to change the rules of the game as set out by the Founding Fathers.

I don't know if we're going to come out of this or not. It took twenty years after Watergate to return to a semblance of normal Constitutional equilibrium, and some people strongly believe that Cheney has orchestrated all of this as revenge. Cheney shows that he strongly believes Nixon's logic of extra-legality for the presidency:
Well, when the president does it that means that it is not illegal.... 
Lincoln said, and I think I can remember the quote almost exactly, he said, "Actions which otherwise would be unconstitutional, could become lawful if undertaken for the purpose of preserving the Constitution and the Nation." 

Yes, but the Constitution is not under attack from outside the government. Bush/Cheney are the government and they are the ones doing their best at squandering the Constitution.


Humans rely on tradition, especially when it comes to the holidays. There are things that families do year after year after year that validate the support that we have for each other. I was fortunate enough to have grown up in a fairly large Italian family, though my last name is the most Irish in the world. My father's family was only his parents and his sister. My mother's family came from southern Italy and their were six children born. If your Italian, you know what a large Italian family is like when they are all together. I've since learned from experience that Greek, African-American, and many other cultures are the exact same way.

When I would bring roommates or friends home for Thanksgiving, they invariably would ask if my family was always like that. Like what? Loud! and they would be amazed that I would be just as loud as the rest of my family. Not only that but I would slip into my Sout-zide Chicago accent. It's like an entirely different language.

After Mom and all of my aunts and uncles died, the traditions that my family created and followed basically died with them. I have four cousins but we very seldom see each other and we don't even know where MD is. That's what happens. I still have the traditions and memories in me and like all things family, when I think of them I get a warm rush all over. I'm sure you do too.

I have a very close relationship with my friends Carol, Lorraine, Ed, & Sharon and Ed & Lorraine's son Marco. We have been friends for 40 years. We began working together and more or less created a new family. I spend holidays at Ed and Lorraine's house, with Lorraine's niece and nephews and their kids. Carol & Sharon come after they've spent time with their families. We have day-after the holiday traditions.

The day after Thanksgiving is always the "Great Christmas Tree Hunt." Ed, Marco, sometimes Lorraine's nephew David and if Ed's mother, Thelma, is in town and I climb into Ed's old Caravan and ride for hours to hunt for a Christmas tree. Actually, it's not hours, but if you were to listen to Marco complain about all the wasted time driving so far to get a tree, you'd think that the 12 mile ride was taking hours. We've been doing this since Marco was little. He's now 25! He's not old enough to it admit yet, but he loves it. You'll see that in a picture below.

In addition to the regular trees (there was, until this year one for the family room and one for the living room) Ed insists on finding the ugliest, most unwanted Christmas tree we can find to put on the back porch. [I think it's really for the squirrels, but he would never admit it. He hates squirrels.] The lady at Anthony's Tree Farm called it the Charlie Brown tree. The tree that nobody wants and is left lonely behind in the forest. How sad! I think everybody feels like that tree sometime or other...

Here are a few pictures that either Ed or I took over the weekend - another tradition...

Makai & the turkey.jpg
Makai gets turkey-abused. Being only 6-months old, he has no say. Makai, and please don't tell Lorraine I said this, is her great-great nephew.

Man-Man gets his car.jpg
Manman desperately wanted a radio-controlled car. Of course, if you look closely, he broke the antenna within five minutes.

just the right tree.jpg
Usually it takes forever to pick just the right tree. This was on the second try. Never been that fast before...

the Charlie Brown Tree with Marco.jpg
Marco holding up the Charlie Brown Tree. Told you the smile would be telling.

Ed Bunyan.jpg
Ed really does do the Paul Bunyan thing and cuts, err, saws down the tree...

Shaking the Charlie Brown Tree.jpg
Charlie Brown gets all the loose needles shaken off. You can better see that it is a true Charlie Brown

Makai & me.jpg
I normally do not post pictures of myself. I've had a thing about it ever since I read that some Native American tribes would not allow pictures be taken of them because they believed it captured their souls. That, and if you've ever been in Europe, everyone from Tokyo is there and they pull on your sleeve and say, "Picture, picture." as they stand in front of Notre Dame and ruin the view. I can't stand that...

But Makai is what holidays, tradition and family is all about. There are many different kinds of families and no one has the monopoly on family. The battle that has been waging over family for the past several years forgets that everyone, without exception, has a family, is part of a family, and can begin their own family and traditions. I had and have a great family!

now... it's on to Christmas - the celebration of the children... what joys will it bring you?

just asking...

24 November 2007

another one bites the dust...

a Bush buddy that is. This one's not in the U.S.

Prime Minister John Howard, a staunch support of the Tsar's policies concerning Irag and a staunch conservative in Australia, had what the New York Times is calling "a comprehensive defeat". He also lost his own seat in Parliament. The first Prime Minister to ever do that.

Early estimates had the Labor party gaining some 20 seats, to gain a14-seat majority in the 150-seat lower house. Television prediction seven had John Howard suffering the indignity of losing his own seat in the Sydney suburb of Bennelong in parliament to a former television anchor and rookie politician, Maxine McKe

The new Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd, a Labor Party leader, is 50 years old and promises to bring change in order to meet the challenges facing the country. He also is seen quite differently than Howard.
Mr. Rudd’s rather dry image was if anything enhanced by the revelation which emerged shortly before the beginning of the campaign that he had got drunk and visited a strip club when he was on a visit to Scores New York in 2003.

“He seems more personable, approachable,” Marcelle Freiman, a university lecturer with two children, who voted for Mr. Rudd in eastern Sydney said. “He doesn’t seem arrogant yet and I have respect for him.”

I think the word arrogant is telling. It's a reaction to the years where leadership has been, as in the U.S., based on hard-nosed near-authoritarian government that has a mindset of "We know what's good for you better than you do. In a world where things are changing at an extremely fast rate because of technology, people are tired of waddling in the backwaters of antiquated thinking that put restrictions on everything.

Mr. Rudd has made very clear what his priorities are:
He has said his first acts as prime minister will include pushing for the ratification of the Kyoto climate agreement and to negotiate the withdrawal of Australian combat troops from Iraq.

This election is also telling because of what it forbodes for the United States. The seeds were planted with last November's midterm Congressional election. You can see it in the fighting going on in the primary races going on right now. The Republicans running for the presidential nomination are all over the map and seem lost and floundering. The Democrats, on the other hand, are similar in their differences. I'm certain thatif Mr. Bush were running for reelection we would be seeing a very different fight going on in the U.S.

On top of all of this the Tsar has another support problem. A second of his buddies is gone. Poland elected a new Prime Minister also and his actions speak in this headline from HuffPost - PM: Poland to End Iraq Mission in 2008

With the rats leaving the ship in the US [think Karl Rove], talking mouthpieces revealing secrets [Scott McClellan' s book What Happened], and now Australia and Poland no longer supporting the excursion in Iraq, the Tsar must really be having a bad day.

let's keep the momentum going...


short week, long weekend for most...

A nurse walks into a bank totally exhausted after a 20 hour shift.

Preparing to write a check, she pulls a rectal thermometer out of her purse and tries to write with it.

She looks at the flabbergasted teller and without missing a beat says:

"Well, that's great.... that's really great... some asshole's got my pen."

no comment...

22 November 2007

a family rememberance...

I'm not sure how widely known Maxwell Street is in other parts of the country, but in Chicago people still talk about it. It was an institution, especially during the Great Depression, where most people could afford to buy the things they needed. The market was notorious for not just sales but the shenanigans that went on with them. It was filled with characters such as street-hookers, scam artists, immigrants, fair-minded merchants, pickpockets, and an entire gamut of society that would make a great movie.

Maxwell Street.jpg

I remember hearing about Maxwell Street from my family when I was growing up. Most stories were really funny. They needed, as did most people in Chicago at the time, to shop for necessities to survive, as well as amusement, I'm sure.

Like the time Aunt Sarah was walking through Maxwell Street to purchase something. One of the hawkers approached her and quite assertively tried to sell her underwear. Her response was, "I don't wear underwear." This was probably back in the 1930's. You can imagine she not only had a mouth on her but wasn't afraid to use it. I loved her for that as well as much else.

My grandmother, Nu Zina, told the story of going there to buy a pair of shoes for one of my uncles or my grandfather. She picked them out; the salesperson wrapped them in the finest newspaper; and she took them home. When she got home they were both left-foot shoes. I can hear her swearing and cursing in her Italian dialect of Gok in my head right now.

She went back to Maxwell Street and lambasted the man. Of course, she really didn't speak English, so one of my aunts or uncles went with her - probably Aunt Sarah. He relented and gave her another pair.

When she got home she unwrapped the shoes and the epithets spewed forth from her mouth so loud and fast that the whole neighborhood knew what had happened. This time, he gave her two right-footed shoes.

My grandfather had to go back this time. He was afraid she'd kill the guy. He got a right and a left shoe this time. He probably told the guy that, though my Nana was only about 4'9", she'd kick his ass right into Lake Michigan from where he stood on Maxwell Street - a mile away from the lake.

There are many notorious reasons and stories why Maxwell Street is so famous. There is one with which a lot of people around the country would be familiar - Chicago-style Blues.

Maxwell Street 1942.jpg

made even more famous by Jake and Elwood -

Jake & Elwood.jpeg

These are the types of memories that give Thanksgiving meaning...

hope you're having a great one...


can't find the turkey?

Turkey lamp.jpg

they must have gone on vacation...

Turkey sunbathing.jpg

i baked all day - baguettes, white bread, ciabatta, wheat bread, apple pie, tarte tatin. the house smells incredible. tomorrow a surprise dessert and then i'm off to friends for the weekend...

have a great Thanksgiving...

21 November 2007

you all know...

if you're a regular reader, that there are some things that I absolutely can't resist posting - blonde jokes, Maxine, the Tsar, christianists, cell phones, hypocrisy...

well, two of them have come together to make a statement that I must relay to you. Maxine and cell phones -

Maxine and cell phones.jpeg

i want one of those moving signs for the back window of my car. you know, the kind that they have a Wendy's, banks, etc that have messages on them. [maybe I should get a patent on the idea?] having one would allow me to keep both hands on the wheel. the first message i would put on it would be

Get off the frakking phone and drive!

well... i probably wouldn't use the word frakking...

20 November 2007

big guns coming from both sides...

SCOTUS today decided to hear a case that directly considers the right of an individual to own, carry, use a gun.
The Supreme Court announced today that it would l decide whether the Constitution grants individuals the right to keep guns in their homes for private use, plunging the justices headlong into a divisive and long-running debate over how to interpret the Second Amendment’s guarantee of the “right of the people to keep and bear arms.”The New York Times

The issue has long been undecided and both sides of it have constantly fought for their stand. The last case was some 70 years ago and the Court limited it using the word militia as the key to its decision, declaring that an individual did not have a right to keep arms.

The Constitution has one statement - A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed. Amendment II.

Does it mean that the States have the right to have militias who are armed or can people directly arm themselves as part of militia. The Second Amendment does lay itself open to both interpretation.

The case itself comes from a resident of Washington D.C. who believes that she has the right to own a gun for protection while the city has banned ownership. She believes that she has the right to safeguard herself and her family from the high rate of crime in the District.

Of course, the issue has been greatly complicated by two things. The Constitution uses the word States. This case is not from a state. It's from the District of Columbia. Hairsplitting, but a big distinction. The other complication is broader - emotion.

Police Departments, especially, want guns controlled for not only their own protection but the general citizenry itself. Here in Chicago, not a week goes by that another child is shot and killed. Most of the weapons used are not legally purchased or registered. The vast majority of the killings are done by other children. This same things happens in all major cities.

The National Rifle Association is on the opposite side. They want no control of guns. They use the reason that hunting is a sport that is enjoyed by many and, if guns were outlawed, then the sport would die. Of course, just the name of the organization limits in what it believes. Hunting is done with rifles. The organization has never supported using Uzis or 9 mm Lugers for hunting game. They even state that it would be unfair to the game. Yet, they do not want any restrictions, using the argument that when you ban one kind of gun it is only one step away from outlawing them all.

So, SCOTUS will now decide by sometime next summer. The decision has to finally be made. The interpretation has to come about concerning the Second Amendment. This problem is not. The problem is the Court that is hearing the case.

This is not the Court that should consider the issue of gun ownership. It is too ideologically stacked. It is the exact thing that the neoconservatives and the Bush/Cheney administration have been working so hard to accomplish. This Court has been politicized. The majority on the Court have an agenda that reflects what the neocons have been working on for 20 some years.

The Court that should be hearing this case, and others like it (for example, a woman's right to decide what to do with her own body) should be a court that has no political agenda, owes no unspoken favors to anyone, or keeps a judicial open mind with no polemics.

The process of government is what might really be at stake here. If the Court cannot deal with this case in an open mind, the Right, again, has weakened the Constitution.

election day...

Fibber McGee: "Do you know what people will say on Election Day?"

Molly McGee: "The Republicans vote from force of habit."


who cares about the issues...

19 November 2007

can someone please explain...

what exactly is the difference between partly cloudy

partly cloudy.jpeg

and partly sunny?

partly sunny.jpeg

Meteorologists use the two all the time. Does one mean mostly sunny and some clouds? Does the other mean mostly cloudy and some sun?

For example, today in Chicago the weatherpersons said that it was going to be partly cloudy.

oh, wait...

never mind...

it's been grey, cloudy, misty and foggy...

foggy day.jpeg

they're always wrong anyway, so it really doesn't matter...

DO THEY REALLY MEAN IT? "Democrats Say They Won’t Back Down on War"

That's the headline in today's New York Times.

There are all kinds of quotes from various Dems in the article signifying that they are going to be relentless.

“We are going to keep plugging away,” said Senator Carl Levin of Michigan, chairman of the Armed Services Committee.

“There is a lot of unease and disappointment,” said Senator Christopher J. Dodd of Connecticut, who is running for president. “The perception is that we are not leading on this issue. I get it every single day, wherever I go.”

But Mr. Murtha, one of the most respected voices on military affairs, said Democrats would not relent in their effort to pull out the troops.

“For two years I have publicly fought for the redeployment of our troops from Iraq,” he said. “Congressional Democrats will not stop championing the will of the American people until our troops come home.”

big words, but is there a bigger meaning?

The Republicans, on the other hand, are retorting with their usual stand:
“The commander in chief is the guy in charge of running a war, and they can’t affect that,” said Senator Mel Martinez, Republican of Florida. “And they are not going to get the votes to do what they are trying to do, so I don’t see why they continue.”

Senator John Ensign, Republican of Nevada, echoed his party’s contention that Congress should not interfere with the making of progress in Iraq. “The American people, I think, would rather have General Petraeus running the war than members of Congress,” he said, referring to Gen. David H. Petraeus, the top commander in Iraq. “He has proven his strategy is working.”

The GOP is making one additional push against what they perceive as a purely political strategy by the Dems:
“The Democrats have been pursuing a very political agenda, rather than a get-things-done kind of agenda,” Mr. Martinez said, adding that the vote on Iraq last Friday was “designed to satisfy Moveon.org,” in a reference to the liberal, antiwar group.

Well, I do declare, Miss Scarlett. Isn't that what the GOP has been doing for the last several years? Aren't they the ones who were touting a "Republican" government forever? A major fear of the Founding Fathers was not just monarchy but also a terror of the majority. Mr. Rove made comments over and over about a permanent Republican government.

My, my, how times change...

So, the Dems are keeping up the rhetoric that they mean business. I've done two previous posts on this: what would happen if the Dems were to do what they say? and then an UPDATE. But just a couple of days isn't proof in the pudding...

i want to see this continuing when the money runs out that the Pentagon has. i want to see the Dems sticking to their guns to use a well-worn cliché. i want to see, ultimately, the process of government forced back into use, where the Tsar and his minions start talking to the Dems about compromise. not threatening and throwing tantrums that it's their way or the highway.

talk is cheap. action speaks a thousand times louder.

hhhmmmmmm? i wonder, if any Dems are reading this, that they got the point that i used all the italicized clichés in a cynical/sarcastic way?

just asking...

monday morning mayhem...

i certainly hope all of you have a shortened week with the Thanksgiving holiday. if you're traveling, have a safe trip. to get your holiday started, here's some mayhem...

1. first you gotta buy the turkey...
A lady was picking through the frozen turkeys at the grocery store, but couldn't find one big enough for her family.

She asked a stock boy, "Do these turkeys get any bigger?"

The stock boy replied, "No ma'am, they're dead.

2. great turkey recipe...
Here is a turkey recipe that also includes the use of popcorn as a stuffing - imagine that!! I thought it was perfect for people, who just are not sure how to tell when poultry is thoroughly cooked, but not dried out.


12-14 lb. turkey

2 cups melted butter
2 cups stuffing (Pepperidge Farm is good)
2 cups uncooked popcorn (ORVILLE REDENBACHERS LOW FAT)
Salt/pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Brush turkey well with melted butter, salt, and pepper. Fill cavity with stuffing and popcorn. Place in baking pan with the neck end toward the back of the oven. Listen for the popping sounds.

When the turkey's butt blows the oven door open and the turkey flies across the room, it is done.

3. another turkey recipe...

Your dinner will be the talk of the TOWN!!
You should try this!
Sure to bring smiles from your guests!
Here is a new way to prepare your Thanksgiving Turkey .

1. Cut out aluminum foil in desired shapes.
2. Arrange the turkey in the roasting pan, position the foil carefully. (see attached picture for details)
3. Roast according to your own recipe and serve.
4. Watch your guests' faces...

sexy turkey.jpg

i mean, if you have nothing better to do...

4. instead of turkey...

you could try moose, but you'd have to hunt it yourself...
Two hunters went moose hunting every winter without success. Finally, they came up with a foolproof plan. They got a very authentic female moose costume and learned the mating call of a female moose. The plan was to hide in the costume, lure the bull, then come out of the costume and shoot it.

They set themselves up on the edge of a clearing, donned their costume, and began to give the moose love call. Before long, their call was answered as a bull came crashing out of the forest and into the clearing. When the bull was close enough, the guy in front said, “Okay, let’s get out and get him.”

After a moment that seemed like an eternity, the guy in the back shouted, “The zipper is stuck! What are we going to do?” The guy in the front said, “Well, I’m going to start nibbling grass, but you’d better brace yourself.”

angry moose.gif

oh, no! cornholed by moose again...

thinking fast...

Thanksgiving cows.gif

18 November 2007

sadness and shame...

from someone having the right priorities.

I've always admired Archbishop Desmond Tutu. He, along with Nelson Mandela, is one of the greatest heroes of the 20th century for his work in South Africa and the rights of man all over the world. He's saddened by the state of his own church, the instrument through which he did all his work.
"Our world is facing problems -- poverty, HIV and AIDS -- a devastating pandemic, and conflict," Tutu said.

"God must be weeping looking at some of the atrocities that we commit against one another.

"In the face of all of that, our Church, especially the Anglican Church, at this time is almost obsessed with questions of human sexuality."

On a BBC radio program that will be broadcast on Tuesday, Tutu was also asked if he was ashamed of his church:
"If we are going to not welcome or invite people because of sexual orientation, yes.

"If God as they say is homophobic I wouldn't worship that God."
Tutu hit out at those religious conservatives who believe homosexuality is a choice.

"It is a perversion if you say to me that a person chooses to be homosexual," he said.

"You must be crazy to choose a way of life that exposes you to a kind of hatred.

"It's like saying you choose to be black in a race infected society."

He specifically takes on Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury and the leader of the Anglican Communion.
"Why doesn't he demonstrate a particular attribute of God's which is that God is a welcoming God."

"You must be crazy to choose a way of life that exposes you to a kind of hatred.

"It's like saying you choose to be black in a race infected society."

Criticising Williams, he added: "Why doesn't he demonstrate a particular attribute of God's which is that God is a welcoming God."
Agence France Presse

it must be very difficult for a man who not only teaches the word of Christ but abides by his precepts in all parts of his life to deal with comrades who focus on destroying others and peace...

pulse of the nation on Iraq?

A Gallup poll taken at the end of October focused on how much longer Americans believe we will be in Iraq after the 2008 election.

The question asked:
Suppose a [Republican/Democrat] is elected president in 2008. From the time that [Republican/Democratic] president takes office in January 2009, for how many more years do you think the United States would continue to have a significant number of troops stationed in Iraq?

Some results:
4.1 - average more years predicted for U.S. troops in Iraq if a Democrat is elected president in 2008

7.4 - average more years predicted for U.S. troops in Iraq if a Republican is elected president in 2008

39 - percent who believe America's time in Iraq will be "more years than it should be" if a Democrat is elected president in 2008

57 - percent who believe America's time in Iraq will be "more years than it should be" if a Republican is elected president in 2008

Here's the weird part:
5 - percentage of people with No Opinion if Republican is elected
4 - percentage of people with No Opinion if a Democrat is elected

weird, you ask?

First, who does not have a opinion on Iraq? Second, wouldn't it be great to say that you don't care? Third, I'm not really sure what third would be...

You can see the complete article here: Most Americans Expect U.S. to Be in Iraq Several More Years

17 November 2007

fire rainbow...

Fire Rainbox.jpeg

The rarest of all naturally occurring atmospheric phenomena.

The picture was captured this week on the Idaho / Washington border, the event lasted about one hour.

Clouds have to be cirrus, at least 20k feet in altitude, with just the right amount of ice crystals and the sun has to hit the clouds at precisely 58 degrees.


"The arc (sometimes called a circumhorizontal arc) is usually produced by plate oriented crystals and is a close relation to the circumzenithal arc. Light rays enter the almost vertical crystal side faces and leave via the lower horizontal face (ray path 3-1). The refraction of the almost parallel sun's rays through faces inclined at 90° produces pure, bright and well separated prismatic colours ~ purer than those of the rainbow. The colours are at their best when the crystal tilts are smallest. Large crystal tilts produce more pastel hues." [Source: Atmospheric Optics]

UPDATE: what would happen if the Dems were to do what they say?

So the funding bill approved by the House is rejected by the GOP in the Senate. It's same old, same old that has been going on for the last year, The Washington Post reports. No surprise here. The Bushdogs will wag their tails, pant in fear, and drool all over themselves.

The Democrats now have to put OUR money where their mouths are -
Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (Nev.) said he may bring the Democratic bill back to the floor in December. He and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) have decided that Bush will not receive more war funding this year unless he accepts Democratic withdrawal terms.

This is what 60%+ of all Americans want.

The White House response?
That is out of the question, said White House spokesman Tony Fratto, who dismissed the Democratic vote as a political stunt.

"Once again, they tried to pass a bill that provides incremental funding, tries to micromanage the war from the halls of Congress," Fratto said. Democrats "know that such a bill will be vetoed, should it ever come to the president's desk," he said. "They know this because we've been through this dozens of times now."

And they need to keep going through this over and over and over and over OR not even consider a special funding bill for Iraq. The Constitution clearly states that the Congress has the only power to fund war. If they don't fund it because they can't pass a bill or no even present a bill for a vote, they are doing their job as proscribed by the Constitution.

The Tsar needs to understand this. The Tsar needs to get over it. Maybe, then, he will somehow realize that there really wasn't anything to get over except his self-serving, unadulterated hatred for the Constitution...

One thing that would help is for each of the Democratic candidates for president to make a definitive statement saying that they support the Congress in this. Enough of the rhetoric of My presidency will get us out of.... They need to make a strong statement each time the Congress takes the action it did and each time Bush vetoes what they do, that they support the continued effort of the House and the Senate to reinstate and reinforce the process of government that Bush has nearly destroyed.

just do it...


a little late. I worked yesterday and then went into the city for one of the greatest opera productions/performances I've ever seen. talk more about that later today. I was on the expressways a lot yesterday and the holiday drivers have already started traveling. soooooooooo, when I saw this I knew you all could appreciate it...

cell phone sign.jpeg

hope you're having a great weekend...

15 November 2007

brush up your Shakespeare...

William Shakespeare

The Mike doth protest too much, methinks.

Which work of Shakespeare was the original quote from?

Get your own quotes:

a couple of others that popped up as i put more in...

Give thy Mike no tongue.

O excellent! I love Mike better than figs.

This above all: to thine own Mike be true.

Our revels now are ended. These our actors,
As I foretold you, were all spirits and
Are melted into Mike, into thin Mike.

[thin I wish...]

thanks Brent...

i like this one.

Obama just stepped in it...

with all the hoopla with Hillary at the last debate saying that she understood Spitzer's wanting to give undocumented immigrants but she was against it, Blitzer point blank asked, "Do you support giving undocumented immigrants driver's licenses?"

He was looking for a "yes or no" answer. Obama said yes and put his foot further down his throat than Hillary did by saying he favored it when he was in the Illinois Legislature.

Blitzer went down the line and asked all of them the question. Only Hillary and Biden said, "No." The others all qualified their answers.

what would happen if the Dems were to do what they say?

The Democrats gained control of Congress last November on the promise of bringing troops home and ending the U.S. involvement in Iraq. The power that they have is the power of the purse. Congress is the only branch of the government that can authorize spending bills for conflicts.

Tsar George says that the Congress is trying to micromanage the war on terror when it wants to put time limits or conditions on funding. HE is the commander-in-chief and, consequently, the only one who can lead the fight. There is a definite conflict.

Since last November, every time that George has asked for money for Iraq, aka the war on terror, the Democrats have put up a fight only to back down with the rhetoric that George and the Republicans use accusing them of being un-American, putting the troops in harms way, or supporting terrorist.

There has also been quite a number of Dems who just seem to agree with whatever George wants. [I live in the IL-3 Congressional district and Lipinski is known as a bushdog when he really a lapdog] These Democrats have forsaken the principle's of the party platform and forgotten the process of government set out in the Constitution.

Now, Senator Reid has made one statement and suggested one move that would severely cramp Tsar George's style.

First, via Huffpost:
Democrats who lead Congress likened President George W. Bush on Thursday to a bully on Iraq war policy and vowed to spend no more on combat without a deadline for bringing U.S. troops home.

"He damn sure is not entitled to having this money given to him just with a blank check," Sen. Harry Reid, the Democrats' Senate leader, told reporters.

"Americans need someone fighting for them taking on this bully we have in the White House," he said.

Reid and other Democrats, who hold slim majorities in both houses of Congress, accused Bush of wanting a free-flow of hundreds of billions of dollars for the Iraq war, all the while being tight-fisted on the home front.

"Every dollar we spend in Iraq comes at the expense of people in America," Reid said

They've even gone ahead and said that the Pentagon can use some of the $450 billion it just gave them. Of course, the tsar and Pentagon says there isn't that kind of money and needs supplemental funding specifically for Iraq.

Along these lines, the Republicans have attacked a report released yesterday that the actual cost of the war is about $1.5 trillion dollars when the hidden costs are included with the most important being the rising cost of oil. By the time the current bills are paid on the war it could total $3,500,000,000,000.00 by 2017, if there are no more charges made. That is $3.5 trillion!

Of course, the House did just pass a $50 billion Iraq bill and Bush says he's going to veto it. Good! Let him veto it. Let them pass it again. Let him veto it again. If he's playing the game, play the game better.

The second thing that Senator Reid has hinted at is putting an end to recess appointments that Tsar George is good at doing. When the Senate does not approve an appointee, he has merely waited until a recess making the appointment that he wanted anyway. [He took a different stance with Mukasey, saying he wouldn't appoint a AG at all if he didn't get what he wanted. It would have been interesting if it happened. After all having no AG was better that Gonzales. The bushdogs gave him what he wanted though.]

From Rawstory:
A plan engineered by "Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) to eliminate all extended recesses except for the traditional August break during the 110th Congress may have an added benefit for Democrats," Roll Call reports.

"It could be a back-door way of preventing President Bush from unilaterally installing controversial nominees in key executive and judicial branch posts through recess appointments, a favorite tool of the president over the past six years," John Stanton writes.

Now this would be interesting. It might just force the Tsar to negotiate with Congress, as the process of our government intends, or he would have to fill vacancies from within the existing department as an acting status until he's gone.

But here is the real dilemma - are the Democrats going to find the cajones to stand up this time and will they keep to them once they find them? It's a big question.

if they really want to win the 2008 election, they better...

wach wat yu du sai...

I spent nearly all of my adult life in education. Sometimes I wonder what effect I had on the kids. I just hope that this person wasn't one of my students...

Keep in mind this actually really did happen!!!!

This is someone who was moving from an insurance claims office.

Okay, so this is how I imagine this conversation went:

Walmart Employee: “Hello ‘dis Walmarts, how can I help you?”

Customer: “ I would like to order a cake for a going away party this week.”

Walmart Employee: “What you want on the cake?”

Customer: “Best Wishes Suzanne” and underneath that “We will miss you”.

Please, scroll down to see the cake...


NCLB is supposed to work, but you have to put your money where your law is. The Tsar has never done that and he's lauded the law's successes. Instead, he's giving our money to things like Blackwater, Iraq contractors who have not done their job, and to support a war that has not really seen any true long term success.

So, I guess we'll just have to look forward to surprise parties with surprises like the one above...

13 November 2007

book report: "Gay Artists in Modern American Culture: An Imagined Conspiracy" by Michael S. Sherry

I finished reading Michael S. Sherry’s book Gay Artists in Modern American Culture: An Imagined Conspiracy, and I highly recommend it to all, especially for its perspective on tracing the way our world reacts and treats gays from back in the 20th century forward. It’s fascinating.

Sherry, an expert on the history of mid-twentieth century America, focuses on the 1920’s, 30’s, 40’s, 50’s, & 60’s, the time before and the direction after World War II, as being pivotal in the outlook of and on gay artists. (Sherry uses the word “queer” and it makes perfect sense.) The country’s changing perspectives were tremendous on homosexuality, artists, and people in general as developed by the main stream media of the time, politicians such as Joe McCarthy and critics/reviewers like Patrick Dennis*. It was a time of cultural growth that America had long desired and a quest for acceptance of a purely 'American' culture that the country had long coveted from the rest of the world, specifically “old” Europe.

Sherry points out that there was no “definable” American culture before WWII as far as most “modern” anthropologists and historians were concerned. He uses the idea that a country has a “culture” when it is seen to be exportable, and they were convinced the Europeans looked down on America because they believed the only true art that came from America was jazz and it wasn’t considered serious art.

He traces the works of Copland, Bernstein, Barber, Menotti, Williams, Albee, Johns and other influential artists of the time - all queer - and how they were instrumental in the creation of an “American” culture that was finally accepted by the Europeans in earnest. Though the country was grateful, the media, straight cultural “doyens” and politicians were also in horror that it was all done by queers. World War II ended the xenophobia that existed from WWI; it gave the country a sense of power that was not felt before; it created an influence that the U.S. never had before this time; and it also sought an awareness of “masculinity” that was perceived to be paramount in the new world view. In addition, people couldn’t get passed personal petty prejudices and jealousies in which the works of queer artists played the major role in creating the long sought “American” culture.

If you couple this with the ensuing Cold War, a lot of frames of reference fall into place in the struggle that has been on-going between the queer and straight communities. The fear that ran through the arts specifically and the country in general, exacerbated by Senator McCarthy’s commie witch-hunt, brought about the change from an open-secret of queers existing in the population to the creation of the “closet.”

Interestingly, Sherry suggests the term “closet” might be traced to an article in Time magazine. Gays lived in a “closed” subgroup much like African-Americans, Latinos and other ethnicities who band together for a reliance on “self-sameness” both as a means of protection and just plain old having things in common. The “d” was turned into a “t” and the rest, as they say, is history.

McCarthy subpoenaed Aaron Copland to testify before HUAC because he not only thought Copland to be a “commie” but also one of them. Of course, it didn’t help that the Soviets liked Copland’s music and actually premiered a number of his works. President Eisenhower realized how important Copland’s work was for the country and intervened telling the senator to back off; McCarthy only called Copland to a private session. Quite ironic considering both McCarthy and his aide, Roy Cohn, were, you know, queer.

T The chapter on Samuel Barber is extremely heartbreaking. Sherry traces Barber’s success and naivete from his patrician beginnings in West Chester, Pennsylvania through the fiasco of the building and opening of Lincoln Center, the new home of the Metropolitan Opera. With the prior success of his opera Vanessa, Barber was the logical choice to create a purely “American” work for the opening. Lincoln Center was to be the new centerpiece of the recently established “American” culture, a destination to which lovers of the arts would flock from around the world. The center was a mess from its inception to its opening, even with some best intentions behind it, by bickering, politics, and egos.

When Barber’s opera Antony and Cleopatra bombed, as far as the critics were concerned, the failure of the opening was squarely put on his shoulders, but it was the impossible situation that he was put into by others. The extended argument for masculinity in the arts, the premise that everything had to reflect the new “culture”, and the American perception that “bigger is always better” may have caused the true failures of the opera. Subsequent productions have proven worthy.

T The straight MSM had a love/hate relationship with the queers and aghast as well as fascinated, or maybe titillated, by their successes and influences. Critics of the era were especially venomous and harsh, bringing forth theories that queers hated women designing clothes to make them look ugly, that there was a pathological problem with queers, or that playrights such as Albee and Williams actually were writing their plays with “homosexual” undertones and only covering it up to hide what they really were trying to spread. What has become known as the “homosexual agenda”, perhaps?

The subtitle of the book - "An Imagined Conspiracy" - demonstrates this idea. While it appeared to many of the time, as it does today, that a conspiracy was being orchestrated to make the arts in America “queer,” in effect, the conspiracy was against the queers. The MSM, the politicians, the critics, the psychologists and many other groups were so hellbent on the rest of the world seeing the culture of America as masculine and making it live up to the new American “empire” created by WWII, they used any and all means of repression, mostly innuendos, insinuations and aspersions, to destroy the emergence of a conjured up queer conspiracy .

America has always tried to hide away what she considered “dirty little secrets”. Nothing should tarnish the new empire. Everyone should fit into a mold, imagined or real. Better to oppress rather than to express.

Gay Artists in Modern America: an imagined conspiracy is more than a history of the time it takes place. It actually is a work that identifies the groundwork that was set and that distinguishes the influences on what is happening in America. The lives and works of the artists are fascinating, but they couldn’t imagine how they advocated a much broader impact that resonates in the fight for such things as ENDA, the Matthew Shepard Act, and marriage today. I highly recommend this book to any and all who have an interest in recent queer history and the influence it had and has. Michael Sherry must be commended for producing a book that parallels his other works on World War II and the ways it changed America.

*yes, that Patrick Dennis, author and nephew of the real Auntie Mame

i'm calling this a book report for two of reasons.1. i'm not a reviewer; so i don't feel it would be right for me to say it is a review. 2. i taught and worked in education for so many years; i assigned and graded hundreds of book reports. i think it's only fair that i do what i had my kids do...

wasteful spending my a**...

The veto, of a measure providing $150.7 billion in discretionary spending for the Departments of Education, Labor, and Health and Human Services, was announced as Bush was en route to southern Indiana to deliver an economics speech at which, his spokeswoman said, he would criticize Congress for its "wasteful spending."

This as Tsar George signed a $450 Billion bill for non-war funding for the Pentagon and is soon to be presented with a bill for billions of war funding.

We are approaching $500 Billion for the "war on terror". If one included such factors as the higher cost of oil, lost productivity and interest payments on money borrowed to finance the wars, the real costs would nearly double, to more than $1.5 trillion. (International Daily Herald)

Our kids, our elderly, our health, our laborers are not important.

The tsar charges this Congress as spendthrift needing to remove the pork. This from the man who took us from a balanced budget with surplus to the largest debt in the country's history with things like a Republican Congress that funded a million dollar bridge to nowhere in Alaska?

Oh, and this was all done while he was on his way to give an economics speech in Indiana.

We don't even know if the man can add 2 + 2.

give me a break...

there's always a way out...

i don't think i need to say anything more...

12 November 2007

no matter what...

thought it was time to replay the song that the first half of this blog's title comes. It's Andrew Lloyd Webber's No Matter What from his show Whistle Down the Wind. I've included the lyric this time.

The group singing is Boyzone at the special that was done for Sir Andrew's 60th birthday, I believe.


No matter what they tell us
No matter what they do
No matter what they teach us
What we believe is true

No matter what they call us
However they attack
No matter where they take us
We'll find our own way back

I can't deny what I believe
I can't be what I'm not
I know I'll love forever
I know, no matter what

If only tears were laughter
If only night was day
If only prayers were answered
Then we would hear God say

No matter what they tell you
No matter what they do
No matter what they teach you
What you believe is true

And I will keep you safe and strong
And sheltered from the storm
No matter where it's barren
A dream is being born

No matter who they follow
No matter where they lead
No matter how they judge us
I'll be everyone you need

No matter if the sun don't shine
Or if the skies are blue
No matter what the end is
My life began with you

I can't deny what I believe
I can't be what I'm not
I know, I know
I know this love's forever
That's all that matters now
No matter what