Monday, November 24, 2008

Beating a Horse That's Not Quite Dead

Much ink and pixels have gone under the bridge in the wake of the success of Proposition 8, a ballot initiative which rendered same-sex marriages null and void in the allegedly progressive state of California. Rather than vent my own spleen over this half-witted endorsement of intolerance, I'll turn the discussion over to someone who's said a lot more than I could say - and on national TV too. (Loyalty oath department - I'm not gay. I just can't abide medieval attitudes toward sex and sexual orientation).

Sunday, November 16, 2008

One Size Never Fits All.

Photo Creative Commons by
Sparkletography - Non-comm, attrib,
no derivs.

Two of the blogs I follow regularly are the ones by author and commentator Greta Christina, both her own and the one she writes for (which is a sex-toy vendor, so it's probably not safe for work).

Her most recent one for Blowfish cuts to the very heart of our belief system concerning love, sex, and/or marriage. Most of us frankly don't give these beliefs a second thought. It's hard to do so when you're pressured to conform not only by friends and relatives, but by television, Hollywood and the music industry. We don't question these beliefs even when, when it turns out they're not quite right for us.

Check this excerpt out:

...If we know anything at all about human sex and human sexual relationships, it’s that the only constant is variety. Human beings have an almost infinite variety of sexual and emotional experiences: an eye-popping smorgasbord of feelings and desires, prejudices and preferences, turn-offs and needs. And we should be tailoring our decisions about sex to fit our individual experiences. We should not be forcing our sexual and romantic decisions into a one- size- fits- all garment . . . one which, like most one- size- fits- all garments, really fits only a handful of people. ...

Read the whole thing here

Monday, November 10, 2008

About the new graphic

Artist unknown.
Graphic Creative Commons 2008

C.S. Lewiston.
Non-comm, attrib, no derivs.

Like a lot of you, I spend a lot of time in thrift shops. The above graphic came from a mix tape. (Remember mix tapes? You'd sit down in front of a device called a cassette deck with a stack of vinyls. You'd choose songs from each of the vinyls and dub them onto the tape in sequence). I didn't even look to see what was on that mix tape, but this handmade collage caught my attention.

I have incorporated this graphic into my blog's new header. My sincerest thanks and compliments to the person who created it.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

It can STILL happen here.

Like a lot of you, I'm elated that Barack Obama won the election.

Like a lot of you, I'd like to take a well-deserved breather. Nothing wrong with that.

Just remember, it's not over. Not by a long shot. Check out these excerpts from a press release by People for the American Way:

Did you read Paul Krugman's column in Monday's New York Times? On the day before the Blue Wave washed over national and state elections across the country, he asked the important question, "What will defeat do to the Republicans?" and provides several reasons why we can expect the Grand Old Party to take a hard turn to the extreme Right. We agree. With the Right in its new role as "the opposition," get ready to see an invigorated right-wing grassroots, media and organizational infrastructure.

  • The Heritage Foundation is already digging in its heels saying they will not let President-Elect Obama bring about the change he's promised.

  • Right-wing blogs, talk radio and television outlets like Fox News will experience a boom, and new personalities will emerge (remember that the Rush Limbaughs of the world became popular during the Clinton years and the power of the progressive netroots is in many ways attributable to backlash against the Bush administration and right-wing government).

  • With the failure of a Republican presidential candidate who tried to distance himself from the current administration, and the popularity of Sarah Palin, who appealed to the far-right base, many will make the case that the best political strategy is a hard-line and unabashed commitment to right-wing ideology.

  • One of the only victory trends enjoyed by the Right on Tuesday was in anti-gay ballot initiatives in Arkansas, Arizona, Florida and, sadly, even California, emboldening the Religious Right to repeat these tactics in state after state.

  • And finally, with President-Elect Obama and the Democratic Senate in a position to undo many of the Right's most cherished gains in its favorite area of focus: the federal courts -- this, perhaps more than anything else, will energize the Religious Right's grassroots.
...And we can't see a repeat of the early 90's. What happened was that the organized Left went dormant, became complacent and didn't keep the pressure on the administration and Congress to deliver on their promises to America. The Clinton administration was subject to unrelenting attacks from the Right -- as Obama's surely will be -- but too many progressives thought they could stop fighting once the election was over. ...

Read the entire press release here. Yeah, they're soliciting donations, but even if you don't want to contribute money, you need to know that the game is far from over. Stay current. Stay active. The worst thing we can do right now is to slack off. It's never too late for another Republican takeover, one which could make George W. Bush look like a moderate.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008


As I sit here, listening to John McCain wax downright rhapsodic about Mr. Obama in his concession speech on WFMU's web-only special program, "Electile Dysfunction", I can only think of the words of the late Phil Rizzuto, who once said "HOOOOOLY COWWWWW!"

Mr. Obama's win was bigger than 1992, when Bill Clinton high-speed coasted to victory leaving the first George Bush in the dust. But remember, Bill Clinton had help in the form of third-party candidate H. Ross Perot, who sucked up a substantial number of Republican votes. Mr. Obama didn't have such an advantage this time around.

More news as it happens!

Monday, November 03, 2008

Shoe Leather Democracy, Part 2

Obama headquarters, Scranton, Pennsylvania.

(Names, except those of candidates, have been changed to protect the innocent).

The last time I blogged about door-to-door canvassing, I was doing voter registration in Scranton, Pennsylvania, a major city in a critical swing state (and the hometown of vice-presidential hopeful Joe Biden). Two weeks ago, I was in Elmira, New York, going door-to-door with our organizer, Janet, for two campaigns; universal health care (the dead issue that won’t go away) and congressional hopeful Eric Massa.

The first thing you learn as a door-to-door canvasser is that there aren’t many people home on a Saturday afternoon, at least none who’ll answer the door when you knock, especially when it’s a few weeks from Election Day! We knocked on several doors in a middle-class neighborhood before being greeted by a sweet gentleman and his family. Seems that he and at least one of his relatives lived on Social Security disability benefits, so when we informed them that Eric Massa’s opponent, Republican incumbent Randy Kuhl, wanted to privatize Social Security (you know, by turning over its trust fund to Wall Street), they were very interested indeed!

Another of our prospects was a 78-year-old widow who had lived through the Great Depression of the 1930's. Like a lot of us, she was convinced that we were looking down the barrel of another one, and she had not a few choice words for the Bush clan. On our way from her house to another, we ran across two young men standing next to their parked truck. When Janet asked them if they were registered to vote, one of them remarked that he had just recently been released from prison. She informed him that as long as he wasn’t behind bars, he had just as much right to vote as anyone else. Our most interesting prospect apart from the widow was an elderly man who’d been in the Navy when John F. Kennedy was president. He related his story about how he had been standing only a few dozen feet away from the president as he reviewed the men on board his ship.


Yesterday, (Saturday) several of us car-pooled once again to the critical swing state of Pennsylvania to canvass door-to-door for Barack Obama. Florence, Harvey, David and I (names once again changed to protect the innocent) all piled in to Florence’s car and drove down route 81, with a spirited discussion of our man’s standing in the polls going all the way down.

As if to remind us of just what is at stake for our nation in this election, we got a surprise when we arrived in Scranton. Normally, organizations which depend on volunteers count on 30 per cent of the people who commit actually showing up. Today was different. Today, all of the people who’d originally committed to help with the day’s work showed up, and then some. I met volunteers from as far away as Columbus, Ohio and New York City. The little storefront, behind a bakery, which served as a satellite office for Obama headquarters in that city was packed. It looked for a while as if we were all going to be fifth wheels. Not that this was necessarily a bad thing. In all the years I’ve been volunteering for political causes and candidates, I had never before seen this kind of turnout. Eventually we were given lists of voters to be contacted and set out for the appropriate neighborhoods.

The first thing you learn about Scranton is that the street corner you’re looking for might not necessarily have a street sign on it. This made our journey to our assigned neighborhood rather interesting. Fortunately, it wasn’t located too far away from a main drag. One of the first people that Florence and I encountered was a man washing his car in his driveway. Florence opened the discussion by asking who he’d planned to vote for. He replied that he had heard reports that Obama favored late-term abortions which involved the killing of babies. His concerns were obviously based upon inflammatory Republican and religious-right rhetoric. I pointed out that late-term abortions were relatively rare and were only done when absolutely necessary. I went on to remark that abortion was a megaton of cure, and that I believed in an ounce of prevention. I reminded him that in localities with legitimate sex education, where students are taught how sex and sexuality really work, and that sex isn’t the great forbidden fruit that Hollywood and popular culture make it out to be, that kids wait longer before becoming sexually active and take proper precautions when they finally do, which cuts pregnancy rates (and therefore abortion rates). Unlike a lot of right-leaning voters, our man seemed receptive not only to my arguments but to Florence’s about the state of the nation and the economy. We left him to his car-washing and wished him well.

The rest of the day went rather uneventfully. A lot of the doors that we knocked on went unanswered. Florence approached a home where three pre-teenaged boys were playing on their front lawn. Florence told one of them she was with the Obama campaign, and asked one of them if their parents were home, which they weren’t. One of the boys remarked, “I’m for McCain, because Obama has nothing to offer. But, I’m a child, so I can’t vote anyway!”.

At one point we got lost. We pulled into a nearby gas station, whereupon Florence asked a pair of young women who were passing by for directions. These recent high-school graduates were very friendly and helpful. Florence gave them some lawn signs and literature about voting rights, and sent them on their way.


It’s not over yet. I’m going to be calling voters in swing states. I’m going door-to-door and dropping off campaign literature. I’m calling and e-mailing everyone I know to remind them to get out and vote tomorrow. You should seriously consider doing the same.

This just in:My sincerest condolences to Barack Obama for the passing of his grandmother, Madelyn "Toot" Dunham.

This also just in: Filmmaker Michael Moore weighs in on tomorrow's election. VERY highly-recommended reading.