Sunday, October 26, 2008

"Write To Marry" Day - October 29

Join us by writing your own post on or before October 29 for Write To Marry Day, and submit it to Mombian to add to the blogswarm. Or, if you care to, you can show your support by using the image above to link to the Write To Marry Day site.

All bloggers who are against Prop 8 are welcome to contribute posts, regardless of where they live or whether they are LGBT or not.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

In Which I Meet the Mutant Poodle At Last!

Had a delightful get-together with my friend Mutant Poodle at a nice Italian outdoor café. We've been online friends for some time, but this was the first time we got to meet in person. He's just as cute and smart in real life. I got to sign his copy of The Price of Right, and of course we talked politics until even the waiter remarked about it...

I really enjoy meeting up with my online friends. It reminds me that what we're doing and what we're about is real and tangible, and not just 'keyboard kommando-ism'. Plus, they're invariably very cool people. We got a photo memento thanks to MP's trusty iPhone.

Hooray! AM New York Says I'm A 'Rabble-Rouser'!

I received a newspaper review from AM New York.

If they meant to be critical by calling me a 'rabble-rouser', then they do not know of whom they speak.

They couldn't give me a higher compliment. I'm thrilled. My aim is definitely to rouse the rabble. Fuck the phony 'objectivity' that thinks you can sit around and academically 'discuss' what is happening to our nation with the same kind of bloodless, dispassionate attitude with which one might lay wagers on an ant-race.

Hell yes, I'm mad; hell yes, I'm pointing fingers. It's way past overdue. The right has turned 'liberal' into an epithet that makes Democrats and the media alike quake in fear at the thought of being labeled as such; mostly because that's the Republicans' worst fear - real liberals, real liberalism. And the same can be said of 'angry liberals'! We have learned to back off of standing up for ourselves and our values for fear of being branded 'angry'.

Oh noo-oo-oo-o! Please, Mr. Luntz, pleeeze don't call us 'angry'! Look! You can kick us in the groin as hard as you like - we won't be mad! Go ahead! Kick us! See, we're not angry at all! Just don't call us that scary word!

Just as Barack Obama has to find a way to avoid being called the 'angry black man', so as not to ignite the fears and prejudices of the most ignorant section of the electorate, Democrats should know that calling us 'angry' is the Republican way of telling us what they're most afraid of - Democrats who are mad about the way they've been rolled in the back alley by this administration. When African-Americans decided they'd had enough of being treated like shit for hundreds of years, and decided to do something about it, civil-rights activists were accused of being 'angry', because those who had the power and privilege - white men - were terrified that they were going to have to deal with this just fury. So the tactic of accusing the disenfranchised of being 'angry' is a time-honored Republican tradition. And for the last eight horrific, traumatic years, Democrats have been disenfranchised.

Call me what you want. I don't care. I'm mad, and I hope you are, too.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

A Picture Is Worth A Thousand Words - No! On Prop 8

A Little Sarah-Snack For Your Consumption

Vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin has not sat for an interview on Meet The Press, nor has she been made available for an interview on any other Sunday morning show.

She has, however, appeared on “Saturday Night Live.”


Every Little Bit Helps

Yesterday, in the break room at work, I helped someone to vote.

A co-worker was saying that he wasn't sure if he was going to be able to vote on Nov. 4. He had recently moved and had changed his registration, but he didn't know how to check to see if it had gone through. He was afraid of going to the polls and being turned away.

I hooked him up with our local county registrar website, LA, and we put his current info into the questionnaire.

It turned out that, yes, he was correctly registered.

That was a vote that probably would not have been cast. I walked around for the rest of the day feeling as if I had done something worthwhile.

Little things mean a lot, y'all.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

PoliTits Is No Boob On Economics!

DCup from PoliTits has just put up one of the breast - uh, I mean, best ways I have ever read of describing the real-life effect of 'trickle-down' economics.

Go there at once, I tell you!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

My Buddy Got Married! Hell to the No On Prop 8

(please go to No On Prop 8 to donate or volunteer - it's crucial!)

Over the weekend, my friend Doug got married.

After 17 years of living together, and 7 years of parenthood, he tied the knot with the love of his life in a small, private ceremony.

When marriage equality was approved in California, he told me he didn't know whether or not he and his partner would get married or not, because of the real possibility of an amendment to the California constitution that would rescind that civil right. Just thinking of the ability of someone who has no business in Doug's private life being able to give or take away his right to marry makes me see red.

Who do these people think they are? How dare they?

I was driving along in the Valley the other day when I passed a park with some Yes On (H)8 picketers marching around. One sign proclaimed "Prop 8=Religious Freedom".

At least that comes right out and says it. According to these people, if you do not codify their belief system into law, even if their beliefs are unconstitutional, even on a matter which is none of their business and robs you of your civil rights without having an impact upon them in the least, you are denying their religious freedom.

Equal rights for my gay and lesbian brothers and sisters is an issue that is extremely important to me. I don't blog about it on a regular basis, mostly because I don't feel as a straight person that I have the right to be a 'spokesperson' for the LGBT community. But I do feel that it has to take all of us, gay and straight together, to stand up for what's right on this issue - not 'special rights' but equal rights. All I have to do is think of how I'd feel if some Nosy Parker decided that they could undo my marriage just because of their own twisted and perverted belief system and a shitload of money. It is revolting. It is disgusting. And it is wrong.

I must say that I don't get how anything that encourages stability and family values, like marriage, can possibly be anything but good for society as a whole. But, this of course is not about logic - it is about fear.

I'm so happy for Doug, and I'm glad he and his partner husband decided to 'go for the gold' even in the face of possibly losing it. I wish my friend Kenny could have had that chance to stand up in front of everyone and celebrate his love and commitment. The God of my understanding created Kenny exactly the way He wanted him to be, with a heart full of love to offer another person. I will be working for the right of all my gay and lesbian friends to be able to exercise their right to marry, which is inherent to all people, but is currently being denied by people who should have absolutely no say in the matter.

I will trot out my article "The 'Defense' Rests" again, although I've posted it several times over the past 4 years, because it sums up my feelings on this issue and my intersection with it.

The 'Defense' Rests

I received my first marriage proposal at the age of eighteen. My fiancé, a year older than I, was a real catch. A Tom Hanks look-alike, he was tall and lanky, with curly brown hair and a sweet, slightly loopy smile. Kenny was smart, funny, athletic, a gifted actor and a talented saxophone player who helped me get a full-tuition music scholarship at the community college he attended a year ahead of me. His mom had been my first piano teacher, and we had been friends ever since I was in the eighth grade. We bonded in high school, both of us being theater geeks, band nerds - not terribly popular but cool with being 'on the fringe'. Music and drama helped us both to find our own place in the spinning vortex that is high school.

Kenny was a college sophomore and I was a freshman when he proposed. We were both music majors, and both had jobs as well - I was playing keyboards in local bands at night, and he was the night manager of a convenience store. Unlike most of my other male friends, Kenny was already planning for a home and family. Hard-working and thrifty, he was putting away money for a down payment on a house. I adored him. We had so much in common - including the fact that we both liked guys.

Yep, Kenny was gay. It was not a 'lifestyle choice'; it was not a 'sexual preference', like 'preferring' tea to coffee. Believe me, Kenny did not just wake up one fine morning and say, "I think I'll alienate my family, exclude myself from the social mainstream, jeopardize my ability to choose where I live and what I do, and lay myself open to rejection, discrimination, violence, hate, and fear." Folks, I'm afraid he was born that way. Take it from someone who grew up with him.

As close as we were in high school, we never talked about it. He had a 'girlfriend', a sax player at another high school, and we both pretended that he was in love with her long enough for him to have a prom date. It wasn't until after I graduated in the late '70s and disco was king that Kenny opened up to me about being gay. He introduced me to the gay subculture in our town, and I went with him to the gay bars and the all-night discos. He would have crushes on guy after guy, always so sure that this one was 'the one', but somehow it never seemed to work out. Although finally free to 'be himself' with other people who felt the way he did, the long-term relationship and stability that he wanted so much was at odds with the hedonistic excesses of the era, and there was no social framework in place to support him.

This was where I came in. As we saw it, our getting married could solve a lot of difficulties (Your Honor, I plead the ignorance of eighteen). Kenny's mom knew me and liked me; she would be happy that Kenny would have 'social validity'; Kenny could have the home and family he wanted - well, at least the home and the appearance of a family. I could have my cake and eat it, too - a partner who would be there for me financially and emotionally without asking for sexual fidelity, who would give me a home and not care what time I came back to it!

Well, as it turned out, we didn't get married after all; there was that pesky detail of 'being in love' that we knew, as young and nutty as we were, was the real reason for getting married. As much as we loved each other as friends, there would never be a marriage in our hearts. We went our separate ways; I went on the road and he stayed in our home town, still working, still saving, still waiting and hoping for the dream to come true. We still kept in touch, and when I came home to visit my family, we'd get together and catch up on each others' lives. Kenny eventually got the home, but the life partner to share it with never came along.

After a few years, I moved to California and my visits were spaced farther and farther apart. Sometimes I saw him, sometimes I didn't, but there was always 'next time'. I got married (for real) and after the birth of my first child, I flew back home with my husband and new son, eager to introduce them to my family and friends. I couldn't catch up with Kenny; I left messages on his machine, but in the whirlwind of activity surrounding the new baby, I put Kenny on my 'next time' list.

Two weeks after I went back to California, my sister called me to tell me that Kenny had died of AIDS.

When I hear people talking about the "Defense of Marriage", it just makes me want to spit. I believe that if Kenny had been allowed to marry, if there had been a social structure in place at that time that encouraged and rewarded commitment in gay people as well as straight, that Kenny would most likely be alive today.

Just who are they 'defending' marriage from? Is there some straight woman that won't be able to find a mate because the gay boys 'got' all the good men? The arguments that the staunch 'Knights of Matrimony' throw out don't hold water to me.

Jan LaRue, a member of the Concerned Women of America ('concerned' with getting all up in other peoples' private lives!) - a lawyer, for gosh sakes - talks about why gay marriage is so very wrong...

"Granting a marriage license to homosexuals because they engage in sex is as illogical as granting a medical license to a barber because he wears a white coat or a law license to a salesman because he carries a briefcase. Real doctors, lawyers and the public would suffer as a result of licensing the unqualified and granting them rights, benefits and responsibilities as if they were qualified."

Qualified? Qualified?!?

Yes, I guess the lovely and talented Lyle Menendez is 'qualified' to get married. No doubt the devilishly handsome Scott Peterson, with his boyish charm, will be married before you know it, taking his pick of jailhouse proposals from the coterie of killer-hags that are inundating him with marriage offers. After all, he is single!

point: A child should have a mother and a father.

counterpoint: First off, I think it pretty much goes without saying that in today's society, reproduction is not the only reason to be married. I don't remember the 'Fertility Test' when my husband and I were applying for our marriage license. There are straight couples who (gasp!) choose not to have children! And how about the couples who just can't and decide to live with it? Should their licenses be revoked? What about parents who have lost a partner to divorce or death? Should their children be taken away from them?

Then, of course, what about the straight couples who have absolutely no business having children, and have them any old way? Abusive parents, neglectful parents, parents who, in their heart of hearts, don't want children but have them because of outside pressure? Am I to believe that a loving, committed gay couple would be worse for the emotional health of a kid than parents like these? Apparently so. That's right along with the "Murphy Brown" school of condemnation - those awful, selfish women who want a child so badly that they choose to have one without being married. Selfish? Most single (by choice or not) moms (and dads) I know have very little 'self' at all - they're too busy trying to raise their kids right in a two-income society. They're always at the bottom of the list. But I digress. Maybe we could force them to marry a gay man or woman. One of the opposite gender, naturally. Serve them all right.

No doubt about it, mothers and fathers are great. Optimal, even. I am not suggesting that the mom-and-pop deal is just another family model choice. It's not. It is the dominant one, and, all other things being even is the situation that our society set up to best suit a family. But all things are not always even, and just as no one in their right mind today would force a woman to stay with an abusive man 'for the sake of the children', the idea that any two heterosexuals (no matter how sick and dysfunctional) are better parent material than any two homosexuals (no matter how emotionally healthy and loving) is not an idea that I am prepared to accept. I am sure that there are bad gay parents out there. But I know there are bad straight parents, lots and lots of them, and no one is suggesting we abolish marriage for straight people because of that. I might even posit that, as a group, gay parents might have a higher percentage of good parenting because they often have to go to extraordinary lengths to have children, and in the face of strong opposition. It doesn't just 'happen', and I suspect the process would tend to weed out the less-motivated.

Gender role modeling? Maybe. But the overwhelming majority of gay people have (drum roll, please)… straight parents! What happened there with the 'gender modeling'? Good parents of any kind make sure their kids have positive models around them.

And then there's always the trump card - IMMORALITY! Who sez? God sez! Whose God? My God! Oh, my God. I'm not even going to bother to discuss the Bible quotes in Leviticus that are trotted out on a regular basis - smarter people than I have refuted the 'cherry-picking' of Levitical laws employed by those who feel that God Hates Fags. To these people, I say, "Fine. You're absolutely right. No one should force you to marry a gay person." Like any self-respecting queer would want to. Our country was founded by people who left their homeland and traveled thousands and thousands of miles to be free to worship as they pleased. And, yes, they were Christians. But the whole idea
(and a radical one it was) as expressed by our Founding Fathers, some of whom were religious and some of whom were not, was to build a country where everyone was free to worship as they pleased - not just Christian Puritans. Freedom of religion. Freedom NOT to worship if so inclined. Again, I'll leave the debating of the Constitution to my betters, but unless I'm way off the mark here, the United States of America is not a theocracy*. Isn't that exactly what we're trying to avoid setting up in that other place…what's it called again?…oh, yes - Iraq!

Well, folks, I'd better get out while the getting's good - I can see I'm heading into deep water here. But I'm still not convinced that there is any sort of justice in the fact that a mass murderer can marry and have children, if he or she chooses a partner of the opposite sex, but a law-abiding, upstanding member of society - if gay - cannot. To my mind, Your Honor, the 'Defense' doesn't have a leg to stand on.

(*note - I wrote this in 2004 - obviously that was a naïve and foolish statement.)

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Radio Interview This Morning - Basham & Cornell!

*Update below - audio link!

This morning I'll be talking to Lydia Cornell and Doug Basham on their wonderful Las Vegas-based morning progressive radio show Basham & Cornell. The show is on at 8 AM Pacific time.

I met Lydia at a Progressive Dems of LA meeting, and I was so impressed with her smarts, her humor and her spirituality. We were both in the process of writing books. At the time she was receiving death threats from Ann Coulter acolytes when the Coultergeist published Lydia's personal information online in retaliation for challenging Coulter's grotesque lies and misinformation thinly disguised as 'humor'. Doug Basham and I share similar backgrounds in music and magic (I was a magician's assistant) before becoming involved in progressive issues.

I am excited to be on their show!

Update - you can listen to the audio from the Oct. 15 show here!

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Monday, October 06, 2008

First Interview Coming Up This Friday - Alicia On With the Young Turks

Here comes my first interview!

I'm scheduled for the Young Turks this Friday, October 10 at 7:30 ET.

I hope you can tune in - I can use the support.

Friday, October 03, 2008


Yesterday, I had a lovely lunch in Hollywood with my friend DivaJood of Journeys With Jood (and the previous mea culpa post). I met the Diva several years ago through an SCTV newsgroup, and we found out that we had many more things in common. The beauty of the Interwebs is that I got to meet her at all. Even though she is relatively close by as the crow flies, we wouldn't have connected since our work and social circles don't intersect. So I'm lucky that our paths crossed this way.

I was sent this great link to a hilarious Sarah Palin rap video. Enjoy!

Managed to survive the debate without my brains dissolving into mush and leaking out of my head. Biden rocked; Palin was a small-town weather girl. I kept expecting "Film at eleven!" as she mugged for the camera. She had the TV personality's unsettling trick of staring directly into the lens - it's creepy how camera-cognizant she was. I'll go into more detail in the next post later today. But Biden did great, and he had quite a tightrope to walk.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Mea Culpa - Forgive Me, Diva!

I need to take a minute here to thank my dear friend, the wondrous DivaJood, for her kind review, both on her blog Journeys With Jood and on Amazon, that has sent some of her fine readers my way - and even sent them to buy The Price of Right!

And I must beg her forgiveness, for she recently informed me (I blush with shame even now) that she was not on my blogroll!

As I said in her comments, my only defense is that, her being such a good friend and fave blogger, I naturally assumed that she had been on the blogroll all along.

It has been corrected.

And lunch is on me.

A Chat With Hank and Benny - How To Fix Your Big Mess

Hank, Benny - we need to talk.

I know you're supposed to be the whiz kids, financial-wise. And I know that I'm just another dumb consumer with no arcane inside knowledge like you fellas.

But I'll tell you one thing. You guys - you Masters of the Universe, pulling the strings from on high - claim you "never saw this coming."

Guess what? I did.

I've seen it coming for a long time, and so have a lot of other people I know. We've been talking about it for years. What is surprising is how long it took to finally happen.

Maybe it's too basic for you to understand - maybe that's the problem. But you guys have always been about the supply-side, trickle-down theory of economics, and after trying it your way for almost 30 years, it's time to admit that your way doesn't work.

Y'all are all about "if we give everything to the big guys at the top - the mega-corporations and wealthy investors - then their success will mean success for everyone else on down." But I'm afraid that hasn't panned out too well. It's one thing if it's just the wage slaves that are being crunched. Eventually, though, it ends up biting you in the ass as well.

So - Benny, Hank, I have a proposition for you. It's kind of an old idea, but it worked pretty darn well while it was implemented, and it just might be worth a shot.

Have you thought about the trickle-UP theory?

I know it sounds crazy, but just listen.

Okay. You see, the bottom of the food chain is where the action is. And we wage slaves have been seeing our incomes drop steadily (when adjusted for inflation) over the last 25 or so years. Once Reagan castrated the unions, he upset the power balance that makes the so-called 'free market' a viable way to conduct business. If there is no advocate with the strength to represent the workers, negotiations over pay become completely one-sided. This means that businesses are free to eliminate raises, and cut salaries and benefits as low as they can, which makes their profit margin higher.

Are you with me so far, fellas? Good!


This cut in wages is not accompanied by cuts in the cost of living. The cost of living continues to increase at its regular rate. While big business is getting wealthier, and wealthy individuals are getting wealthier because much of their income is derived from investments, which are taxed at half the rate of wages earned through work, the wage slaves are paying a higher and higher percentage of their income towards basic living expenses. Even if their pay is not cut, but remains the same, it turns out to be a pay cut anyway if their expenses on essentials (food, transportation, utilities, mortgage or rent, medical, etc.) rise every year.

So, what do people do? They take on more work if they can. They cut back on expenses wherever they can. But you get to a point where both of these options are finite, unlike the raise in the cost of living. And the implementation of NAFTA and the free-trade frenzy means that there are less jobs available, and the ones that are available pay less.

Now, you smart guys have told us that when the consumer stops spending, the economy goes into a tailspin. And the last thing you want us to do is to tighten our belts.

So what do you guys do?

Here's where we're at the crossroads.

If you want people to continue to buy things to keep the economy going, there are two ways to do it. One way is to pay them better wages so they can afford to buy more. The other way is to make them go into debt to do it. That way it doesn't come out of business' bottom line; make consumers pay the credit card companies (Bush's biggest campaign donors) for the privilege of going into debt.

You guys picked the second way.

Not a smart idea.

You hyper-inflated the housing market and put wage slaves into a position where the only way they can keep their heads above water is to borrow against their 'equity'.They can't work any more hours; they can't cut any more expenses; and the Bankruptcy Bill made sure that there's no way around the problem other than to go into debt. That way you keep the consumers quiet and spending for a little while, anyway - long enough to give you time to finish grabbing up all this crazy money laying around.

Pretty soon, though, the borrowing has to stop. Even an uninformed idiot like me can see that. And, as the consumer goes, so goes the nation - from micro to macro, we've been borrowing as a nation the same way wage slaves have been borrowing as individuals.

The merry-go-round spins faster, faster, faster! Higher and higher we go!

Then - pow! The ride stops, the brakes are on and everyone flies off the painted ponies. A rush to the bottom ensues.

So my suggestion is that we try Idea #1 - the trickle-UP.

Start at the bottom by paying wage slaves well enough that they can buy things. It may seem as if that would cut into business' bottom line in a way they don't care for. Salaries are a liability, not an asset. But in the long term, it is an asset because you are buying future customers with that money! It is a sound investment with a very high rate of return.

People with paychecks can buy stuff. People without paychecks can't buy stuff. It's as simple as that.

When we had strong unions, everyone was paid better, not just union workers, because non-union companies had to compete salary-wise. Better-paid workers are better customers; better customers are better for business. Better-paid workrs pay more income tax, but since they have more money anyway, it does not cut into their quality of life. Better regulations insure that not only the public, but the businesses are protected also. Everyone wins here - maybe not the zillionaire CEOs, but how much gold can one person eat anyway?

So there you have it, Hank and Benny.

No need to thank me, fellas - just go and do the right thing. Start helping the folks at the bottom, and it will trickle UP - even to you guys!

It works - it's been done before.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Hell Yes, I'm An Elitist!

I received this great link to a Sam Harris article from my friend Larry Brown.

One of the most truly terrifying things about the last eight years has been the triumph of ignorance. There has always been a tendency on the right to demonize intelligence, referring to educated, intelligent people as 'ivory tower elitists' and 'eggheads', and conflating brains with being 'out of touch' with the 'real folks'. But, until 2000, this tendency was not making national policy decisions.

George W. Bush, in celebrating his own lack of intellect and curiosity, has made a virtue of ignorance, and by breaking the glass ceiling on stupidity, demonstrated to those who already think this way that there are no limits to where ignorance can take you. He has also demonstrated that governing by ignorance is not only possible, but easily done, and that ignorance can beat intelligence, given the right set of circumstances.

The vile presidency of George W. Bush will not finish when he leaves office. With his obsession over his 'legacy', it turns out that the repercussions from his assault on the country will be rippling far and wide for a long time. Any future president who wants to exercise unlimited power with no pesky Constitutional constraints will find the way made smooth by the precedent set by George W. Bush.

Case in point is the love child of George Bush and Dick Cheney, Sarah Palin. While George Bush is a relative latecomer to the fundamentalist fold, he insisted that "God told him to attack Iraq." He relies on his 'gut' instead of brains, and considers that a completely acceptable, even preferable choice. Sarah Palin takes those traits to a whole different level. No Johnny-come-lately she, Palin was steeped in fundamentalist principles from birth, and is both far more radically religious and far less educated than George W. Bush. Which, in the Bizarro-World of right-wing logic, makes her...even better! According to the Bush standard, all you need is a mule-stubborn refusal to yield to be a successful world leader, and intelligence just gets in the way of that. Sarah Palin describes it as "you can't blink." What she means is "you can't think."

This demonization of intelligence is getting worse, not better, as the ignorant and venal are rewarded ever more richly in our society. If the unthinkable come to pass, with a McCain presidency Sarah Palin - would-be book-banner, science-hater, reproductive-rights-destroyer, Rapture-ready end-timer - will be a fibrillation away from being the leader of the free world. One would not think it possible, but she makes George W. Bush look like Noam Chomsky.

Hell, yes, I'm an elitist. You should be, too.