Sunday, December 28, 2008

Tinselfish is not the name of a drag queen!

(Although I can picture a performer with a name like Holly Tinselfish.) Then it's like a thorny tinselfish (Grammicolepis brachiusculus)? Not this time. Tinselfish is a novel and the tagline explains the title: “Underneath all the a fish out of water.” Another tagline I use is “Real guns. Real tinsel.”

My book was recently included in the Drewey Wayne Gunn Collection of Gay Male Mysteries and Police Stories in Duke University's Rare Book, Manuscript and Special Collections Library. I would be interested in finding out if an earlier version of the book (the earlier title was Life Doesn't Always, published in 2004) was listed in Gunn's book The Gay Male Sleuth in Print and Film: A History and Annotated Bibliography, published in 2005.

The following is how I describe the book to librarian-types:

Tinselfish offers a look at gay West Hollywood in the early 00's. Cafes, bars, and club nights which no longer exist are mentioned and described. The two-volume set is written as a series of screenplays for a TV detective series, but they are written to be read as a cohesive novel and not as screenplays composed in the industry's abbreviated, codeworded style. Book 1 includes a detailed, extensively researched account of a closeted Amish farmer's difficult coming-out process in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, in the 70's and 80's. It also includes a chapter/episode which focuses on the gay scene in Philadelphia in the late 80's around Walnut and 13th. (Find Book 2 here.) Both books extensively reference classic films noirs of the 40's and 50's and highlight the encrypted gay subtext of many of those films. Several chapter/episodes explore homosexuality in traditional Arab and Persian cultures as well as the gay Arab-American experience in Los Angeles since 9/11. Each chapter/episode includes endnotes citing the books and screenplays referenced in the text. Other chapter/episodes explore Hollywood history and examine Intolerance, Clara Bow, Busby Berkeley, and Sunset Blvd. and the different film technologies and styles prevalent at each stage. A minor subplot in the novel involves tracking down ex-Nazis in South America in the years following WWII. A recurring theme is the dilemma of an actor trapped in a movie franchise he hates because the franchise does reasonably well at the box office.

Because the novel is written as a series of screenplays, it should be considered experimental fiction, an exploration of the one literary form reading or looking like the other. With the novel set in “Hollywood,” the reader's Hollywood-insider experience is enhanced by going through the same reading process as an actor or director reading a screenplay. (As a compromise, the text is set in a Roman font rather than the standard typewriter font.) Another continuing theme is depression and its medications, and in the experimental vein, one chapter/episode presents an attack of severe depression as alternating time-lapse and slow-motion cinematography. The detailed descriptions of these effects allow the reader to envision what are otherwise exclusively visual techniques, as well as to gain insight into the emotional disruption of severe depression.

Tinselfish is not only an entertaining read, carefully written and exhaustively proofread, but is also educational and enlightening in its exploration of different cultures, regions, timeframes, topics, and genres.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Block the Bush pardons

From the People's Email Network:

Speak Out Against The Planned Bush Blanket Pardons BEFORE They Can Happen

Pay no attention to the handful of Christmas pardons granted by Bush. This is mere political window dressing to distract from the bumper crop of blanket absolutions, including one for himself, scheduled to be released just before midnight on Jan 19th. Cheney would not so arrogantly be bragging on TV about how he authorized torture if it were not so.

But there is a resolution in Congress, H.Res. 1531, preemptively condemning any such move if we can just get enough members of Congress to sponsor it (already 10 so far). Many of you have submitted a action page on this already. Please do it again, especially if your representative did not hear you the first time.

Action Page To Stop The Bush Pardons:

Each action page you submit is another lump of coal in Cheney's stocking. [John's comment: And we all know how clean coal is as a fuel. No greenhouse gases. No residual sludge. Clean energy for tomorrow's world.] Some have speculated on the possibility of post-inauguration impeachment, especially considering the fact that many insiders are waiting until then to spill the beans. Maybe they don't want to get bumped off in asuspicious plane crash like Mike Connell. But a self pardon at the very last minute would certainly be grounds for some kind of action, perhaps even impeachment, if and only if Congress would react and take action immediately
Father God, please save us from your people.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

For 5,000 years, every culture, every religion...

has implemented or condoned slavery. So what's your point, Warren? Historical precedent isn't a very reliable support for an argument. In fact, you've probably already been contacted by quite a few historians who can show you with actual historical and archaeological evidence that your blanket statement "every culture, every religion" was wrong. But your response to each of them is a shrug, because you already know what you want the truth to be.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

The Warren invocation: It's just a prayer

Yes the choice of Rick Warren to deliver the invocation at the inauguration is an insult to progressives who feel that Prop 8 stapled bigotry onto California's constitution. And it's appropriate that we voice our disapproval vigorously. But if Warren's invocation makes evengelicals preen a little and feel smug but results in their being a little more willing to work with Obama, then the good that is accomplished outweighs the harm. It's not as if Obama appointed Warren to a Cabinet position. It's just a five-minute prayer, during which kids will fidget and grownups on both sides of the fence will yawn, and afterward Warren will leave the stage and that will be it. The symbolic gesture will dissipate into the winter air.

Addendum: My message to Warren via Courage Campaign's petition:

Rev. Warren,
Your girth indicates that you have very strong appetites and that you indulge yourself in some of them, apparently unaware that your excessive weight undermines your credibility. As an obese wealthy person, you send a clear message that you are appetite-driven (bigger congregation, more revenue, more TV time, greater political influence), which runs counter to the message you preach from Scripture. I'm surprised your congregation overlooks your wealth and obesity, but you certainly aren't the first obese minister to have achieved your level of fame, e.g. Falwell, Hagee. When a minister preaches what people want to hear, people don't concern themselves with what disconnect there may be between the simple, service-oriented life promoted by the minister's sermons and the appetite-driven life exhibited by the minister himself. You should have already examined your heart deeply to see how this disconnect could have happened. God wants you to be rich? God wants you to be fat? What passages of Scripture support those ideas? I could point you to Scripture passages that lead the Christian away from obesity and wealth. But, of course, you already know those passages—a discrepancy that calls into question your credibility as a leader in any discussion of moral issues.

Friday, December 12, 2008

A well-regulated militia in Yosemite

From Freedom States Alliance:
As a parting shot, the Bush administration has overturned a regulation to keep guns out of national parks. Despite the objections of every living former director of the National Park Service, tens of thousands of national park visitors, and several ranger organizations, the Interior Department has published a rule that will allow loaded, concealed guns in most of the country's national parks.

This rule is a gift from the Bush administration to the National Rifle Association and the reversal of this ruling should be among the Obama administrations first actions upon taking office in January.

Please sign our petition to encourage the incoming Obama administration to reverse this rule so we can keep our national parks safe from gun violence.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Jerry Falwell with a pretty face

I can't believe it. It's going to happen again. Four more years of a conservative White House. I'm already beginning to prepare emotionally for seeing mobs of conservatives on TV shrieking with unbelieving joy that they've won the Biggest Football Game in the World a third time in a row, and for seeing bloggers rub salt into the wounds of the loser lefties by posting pictures of crying babies. After '00 and '04, why should it come as a surprise?

By all means, give the people what they want. That's the nature of democracy. One takes the good with the bad. One just hopes that there are enough checks and balances left in the system to keep the people from genuinely hurting themselves with the choices they make.

It's surprising how close Obama and McCain are in the polls. One could have expected that Obama's rockstar status during the primaries would have given him a significant lead in the campaign. But there doesn't appear, yet, to be an unstoppable momentum building toward bringing Obama's freshness and intelligence to the White House. It may be just the way the media are presenting the two candidates and consciously trying to avoid the favoritism toward Obama they exhibited during the primaries. But one would expect that, by now, there would be a huge, youth-driven wave of enthusiasm for a changing of the guard in Washington, for the torch being passed to a new generation. But my perception isn't that the tide is flowing strongly in that direction.

I've just learned that a Clinton fundraiser, Lynn Forester de Rothschild, is now backing McCain instead of Obama. She says "I believe that Barack Obama, with and Nancy Pelosi and Howard Dean, has taken the Democratic Party—and they will continue to—too far to the left. I'm not comfortable there."

Of course Ms. Rothschild isn't comfortable on the left. After building her multimillion-dollar telecommunications company, she married into the Rothschild banking family of England and her net worth is probably in the hundreds of millions. One wonders if she wandered into the Democratic party by mistake. She says she will step down from her position on the DNC Platform Committee (how did she get on the committee in the first place?) but will not be changing parties. We would, however, heartily encourage Ms. Rothschild to change parties. It's very simple: When one wants to make mountains of money, one doesn't become a Democrat. The philosophy and focus of the party are counter-productive to the amassing and retention of great wealth. One wonders if Ms. Rothschild actually infiltrated the upper echelons of the DNC in the same way that Mary McFate infiltrated numerous gun-control organizations as an NRA mole.

I've also recently learned that, while Mayor, Sarah Palin wanted a book written by a Baptist minister from the neighboring town of Palmer to be banned from the public library in Wasilla. The book is Pastor, I Am Gay by Howard Bess. Palin now denies trying to have the book banned, but Bess says "This is a small town, we all know each other. People in city government have confirmed to me what Sarah was trying to do." Bess, now a retired American Baptist minister, also says of Palin "She scares me. She's Jerry Falwell with a pretty face" and "At this point, people in this country don't grasp what this person is all about. The key to understanding Sarah Palin is understanding her radical theology."

When comparing the virtual landscapes created by the rhetoric of both parties, I wonder why there isn't a wholesale evacuation of the right because of its unrelenting drive toward tight moral control of the individual by the unelected government of business. Why isn't there a mass migration toward the healthy, digital landscape of the left? Why should the tide of this campaign be pulled in both directions with equal force? Because being controlled is comforting and feels safe? If only voters on the right could see their landscape with disinterested clarity. They would see everything in the landscape, including the pews and pulpits, covered with a thin, gummy film of petroleum.

Monday, August 18, 2008

The Reverend Obese Millionaire

God has truly blessed Rick Warren's ministry. He's plump as a fatted calf, he's a multi-millionaire from his book sales, and his congregation is one of the largest in the nation. Like the Dean Martin song says (more or less), if he were any more blessed, he'd be sick.

My only question is, why would God reward the faithfulness of his servants with treasures on earth? He told us not to lay up for ourselves treasures on earth. Y'know—moths, rust, thieves. So why would he himself reward his servants with what he told us not to accrue? It's okay if God gives us treasures on earth, but it's not okay for us to lay up for ourselves treasures on earth? Is that what that verse means? So, the treasures Rick Warren has been laying up for himself in Heaven, like he's supposed to, God is giving part of those treasures to him now as an advance, like an advance from a publisher? I'm confused. If life here on earth is supposed to be like a strait gate and a narrow way, why would God bestow so much treasure on his servants that their way becomes undeniably broad?

I hope Warren preaches a sermon soon about his various treasures on earth to clear this issue up for all of us. And while he's at it, he could also explain God's blessing McCain with so much treasure on earth too. I've just learned that he owns ten very pricey homes. Ten? Ain't that a kick in the cred.

Friday, August 08, 2008

A response from Congressman Schiff

Thank you for contacting me regarding your support for introducing articles of impeachment against President Bush and Vice President Cheney. I appreciate hearing from you and welcome your input.

I share your concern about the policies and actions of President Bush and Vice President Cheney and I am deeply troubled by the potentially precedent-setting expansion of executive power at the cost of our system of coequal branches and the civil liberties guaranteed to all Americans. The Executive Branch is an extraordinarily powerful one; in order for the checks and balances to function properly, both Congress and the Courts must resist an excessive assertion of executive power that is at odds with the interests of the American people or violates the Constitution. Despite the challenges that our nation faces, we must not cast aside the values and ideals that our people have defended for centuries.

The Founding Fathers wrote the Constitution with the intention that no one branch of government should become too powerful. With the oppression of monarchical rule only recently behind them, they sought to prevent the rise of a too-powerful executive by crafting a calibrated system of checks and balances that allows for interplay between the three branches of government. Congress has an important legislative function, but it has an equally vital role in providing oversight and we must continue to aggressively exercise this prerogative.

On the specific remedy of impeachment, the Founding Fathers established a high standard requiring the determination of high crimes and misdemeanors. After witnessing the misguided, destructive and polarizing impeachment of President Clinton, I can well understand why they raised the bar so high. There is no question that the President and Vice President have done a great disservice to the country in many ways, and I am deeply troubled by their views of executive authority and performance in office. We must continue to do vigorous oversight and let the evidence lead us where it may; at the same time, we must not be deterred from the highest imperative of changing our Iraq policy, reversing the Administration's intrusive surveillance policy, meeting the challenge of global climate change, and turning around our ailing economy.

Recently, Rep. Kucinich introduced an article of impeachment against the President (H.Res.1345) on the House floor and requested a vote to refer the legislation to a committee with appropriate jurisdiction. I voted with Rep. Kucinich to refer this legislation to the Judiciary Committee. On July 25, 2008, the House Judiciary Committee, of which I am a member, held an important hearing to probe these matters. The hearing, entitled "Executive Power and Its Constitutional Limitations," included testimony from Rep. Dennis Kucinich who testified about the impeachment articles he has introduced.

At the hearing, I spoke of my deep concerns with the conduct of this Administration and its overreach of constitutional limitations—particularly related to the areas of surveillance, interrogations, and the intelligence used in leading up to the war in Iraq. I used this opportunity to call upon Congress to create a select committee—in the mold of the "Church Committee"—to conduct a comprehensive investigation of activities engaged in by the Executive Branch to determine their impact on the civil liberties of Americans.

The "Church Committee" was established in 1975 in response to abuses during the Nixon Administration. The Committee produced 50,000 pages of documents and published 14 reports—leading to a variety of crucial reforms including the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. I believe that Congress should initiate a similarly robust investigation of Executive Branch abuses to ensure continued Constitutional accountability and to implement necessary reforms.

Please be assured that I will continue to do my part in every other way to ensure that Congress provides a check on the Executive and ensures that the Administration is held accountable for its actions.

Adam B. Schiff
Member of Congress

Monday, July 28, 2008

Judiciary impeachment opponents

Congressman Schiff,

You're an impeachment opponent?? According to the email from, you and Debbie Wasserman Schultz and Mel Watt are opposed to impeachment hearings, even though "by the end of the hearing [on July 25], even the see-no-evil Republican witnesses admitted Congress should consider impeachment."

We aren't asking you to be another Tom DeLay and railroad impeachment proceedings through Congress. We want you to support looking into the evidence because at this point there is some agreement that the evidence seems "credible and substantial." And you're continuing to oppose looking into what crimes may have been committed by the Bush Administration?? Why?? What have they offered you in exchange for blocking the investigation? When important players like Karl Rove blithely ignore a Congressional subpoena, you know something's up and the Administration has something to hide. And you're not interested in looking into it??

Is something rotten in District 29?

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Lieberman's conflicting allegiances

Dear Senator Lieberman,

You need to make a decision about who "your people" are. Are you primarily Jewish? Then you need to be an Israeli. Are you primarily American? Then you need to let Israel stand on its own. Israel is a strong, modern nation capable of handling the repercussions of its invasion of Palestine in 1948. The U.S. doesn't need to be involved anymore as hired mercenaries protecting a fledgling nation. Your love of Israel should lead you to become directly involved in developing Israel's policies and strategies, without maneuvering the U.S. to implement those policies. Follow your heart.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

It’s not OPEC’s fault

Dear Congressman Schiff:

I've only recently learned that gas prices are affected by futures traders. I thought OPEC was solely responsible for the high prices. But as it turns out, the bubble in real estate prices (before the subprime mortgage crisis) and the current bubble in gas prices have a lot in common. Investors don't mind high prices if they believe they will continue to rise indefinitely, but eventually every market corrects itself. The bubble bursts and we have a recession until the next bubble.

In the 80s, it was the reckless S&L loans to foreign countries that helped bring about the Black Monday of 1987 ("The 80s are over!!") and precipitated the deep recession of the early 90s. In the later 90s, it was the frenzied speculation in dot-coms that brought about the dot-bomb and the recession that was already in place by 9/11. This time around, we're hit by two bubbles at once, subprime mortgages and oil futures. Obviously investors can't exercise caution when they smell an opportunity to make a killing.

If the CFTC were to raise margin requirements and close loopholes that allow unregulated speculation in energy futures, the speculative excess that has driven gas prices so high would be reined in. Please take action to pressure the CFTC to make the changes that will benefit almost every American. The current extremes in gas prices benefit only a small elite.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Gay marriage in California

One of the many items I've created on
The California Supreme Court ruled today in a vote of 4-3 to reject state marriage laws and allow same-sex couples to marry. Maura Dolan writes in her article for the Los Angeles Times "The reaction to today's ruling outside the courthouse in San Francisco was one of jubilation as couples, once denied marriage, hugged, kissed, shouted and shook their fists at the sky."

Ron Prentice of the conservative California Family Council, in reaction to the ruling, said "With the November ballot we will have the opportunity for the people of California to once again define marriage as only between a man and a woman and this time place it into California's constitution which would strengthen it and keep it out of the hands of the courts."

Now that California has sunk to this unprecedented level of depravity, I expect that conservative Southern states will begin sending missionaries to California to try to help pull these poor lost souls from the tar pits of sin they've gotten themselves mired in. I can picture earnest young people declaring to their churches that they feel that God has called them to be missionaries to California. It's not a bad idea, actually. Living in California with all their expenses paid? It could be worse. God could've called them to Africa or to the rainforests of the Amazon. Or, worse yet, to Afghanistan.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Bush confesses to approving torture

Impeach Bush and Cheney for Torture

On 4/11/08, George Bush told ABC News he personally approved of the approval of torture—including waterboarding—by Dick Cheney, Condoleeza Rice, Donald Rumsfeld, Colin Powell and George Tenet.

"Yes, I'm aware our national security team met on this issue. And I approved."

In the wake of this shocking and appalling confession, we've come to a historic moment where every American—and every Member of Congress—must take a stand.

Either you're for torture or you're against it. And if you're against it, you must support the only Constitutional remedy: impeachment.

We don't need a Special Prosecutor when the President has publicly admitted to approving war crimes!

It's no excuse to say, "We can't impeach Bush because President Cheney would be worse." We know that Cheney directly approved torture, so they must be impeached together. If they were convicted by the Senate (or resigned to avoid impeachment), Speaker Pelosi would become President, as prescribed by the Constitution.

It's no excuse to say, "We don't have the votes to impeach Bush and Cheney." Democrats didn't have the votes to impeach Nixon when they started, but when the House Judiciary Committee reluctantly adopted Articles of Impeachment, Nixon resigned rather than face impeachment.

Nor is it an excuse to say, "We don't have time to impeach Bush and Cheney." Bush admitted both his own and Cheney's guilt, and Condoleeza Rice, Donald Rumsfeld, Colin Powell and George Tenet are witnesses. There's no need for impeachment hearings—an impeachment resolution based on Bush's confession could go straight to the floor for a vote, just as it did on 11/6/07 when Dennis Kucinich introduced H.Res. 799, Articles of Impeachment for Vice President Cheney.

And finally, it is utterly immoral for Democrats to say, "We shouldn't impeach Bush and Cheney because it would hurt the chances of electing a Democrat in November." Simply stated, politics should never come before the prosecution of torture.

Dr. Martin Luther King famously said, "A time comes when silence is betrayal. That time has come for us in relation to Vietnam."

Thanks to Bush's confession that he approved torture, that time has come for us in relation to Iraq.

My email to Congressman Schiff:

I don't consider valid the comparison of impeachment proceedings for Clinton and for Bush. Clinton's proceedings were divisive because they were purely partisan. Bush's impeachment hearings, because they would be initiated by allegations of actual war crimes which resulted in thousands of deaths, would be non-partisan by nature, except for the extreme right wing, a minority of the American people.

Impeachment proceedings would not necessarily result in impeachment. They would simply examine the evidence and make it clear to the people what happened and why. And if no impeachable crimes were committed, the people would be shown clearly why what appeared to be war crimes actually weren't. The proceedings would be extremely informative for people regarding how their government operates and how it is structured and balanced.

As a voter who approves and appreciates your activity in Congress, I urge you to change your mind regarding the impeachment of the President and Vice President. I urge you to represent me and the many voters in your district who want to see the right thing done. I would actually accept Bush being exonerated, fairly, of wrongdoing, because I would have learned from the hearings that my impressions had been wrong, that what actions were taken by the Administration leading up to and during the war in Iraq were acceptable in the context of Constitutional and international law.

Impeachment hearings would be cathartic for me and for a lot of Americans. The nation is already divided. Examining the evidence carefully and publicly would provide healing.

Thanks very much.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Babies accelerate global warming

I know this one's a stretch for you, but if you sit down and think about it for a little while, you'll eventually be able to connect the dots.

Last December, ABC News reported that there is a baby boom occurring in the US. "In 2005, there were two children born for every American woman. Last year, the so-called 'fertility rate' rose to 2.1 children for every woman." Fortunately, the rate is no higher than that. "That's still nowhere near what it was during the height of the baby boom, when the rate hovered somewhere between three and four kids per family."

Between 3 and 4 kids?? Which means that the families having 1 to 2 kids back then were offset by families having 5 to 6 kids. And the families having 0 kids were offset by families having 7 or more kids. Seven kids?? What were they thinking? The logistics alone of feeding and clothing that many kids is staggering. (Crash Ow! Mom! Bang Thump Stop throwing your food! Waaaaaa Hurry up, we'll be late! Whooooooosh Bonk Mom! Bangbangbangbangbang Waaaaaaaa Stop it! Crash)

"Okay," my hypothetical Jennifer says, "maybe those people who have like 17 kids are sort of dumb, but why would my having a baby affect global warming? That's caused by greenhouse gases from factories and cars and herds of cattle. What does that have to do with my baby sitting in a highchair eating mashed peas? My baby won't produce that much greenhouse gas." No, you're right. But do babies stay babies? Generally they grow up and buy SUVs and newspapers and groceries, live in buildings constructed at least partially of wood, and watch TV and turn lights on in the evening. "Okay..." Jennifer concedes, unconvinced. Yes, you're right, one adult's carbon footprint isn't really that big, if that person recycles, turns unnecessary lights off, buys a fuel-efficient SUV, consolidates road trips for running errands, uses public transit to get to work, stuff like that. "My child would grow up knowing how important those things are." That's great. But multiply your adult child's conservative carbon footprint by 300 million Americans and collectively you get a giant carbon footprint.

I believe the fertility rate should drop to 1.5 or even 1 so that the population actually decreases over the years. That alone would significantly slow global warming and reduce some of the urgency for finding new landfills for the trash we generate.

However, from an economic standpoint, a reduction in population isn't always beneficial, since a smaller population produces less revenue overall. Statistically, the higher the IQ and level of education people have, the fewer children they generally produce, and so a reduction in population would likely result in a greater reduction of those with higher levels of disposable income, and less of a reduction among those with less spending money and a greater need for government services. Economies can thrive in huge populations because the more people there are, the more revenue they generate. Substantial revenue can be generated even from people with very low incomes, provided there are enough of them.

For a reduction in population to be as much of a benefit economically as environmentally, there would need to be a greater reduction at the lower end of the income scale, and less of a reduction at the higher end. Jennifer snorts. "So only rich people should have kids?" Actually no, because (theoretically) most "rich people" are lower-income people with insatiable appetites. We don't need more of them. But people with higher levels of education and higher salaries generate revenue more efficiently. One middle-class person might generate revenue equal to what 10 working-class people might generate. With fewer people generating more disposable income per person, the environment and the economy benefit.

But it's difficult to suggest to a community that they encourage educated people to have more kids and less-educated people to have fewer kids. The self-worth of those encouraged to have fewer kids would be significantly affected. They would feel rejected by their own communities. If that encouragement had been a familiar, congenial custom all along in our communities, we would have the environmental and economic benefits of the custom now and there would be no hard feelings. But asking a community to begin encouraging professors and architects to have kids and discouraging hairstylists and truck drivers from having kids would be seen as an attack on our natural right to have a family.

I understand those feelings of rejection and have no foolproof remedy for them, but financial compensation might help those people feel a little better. If a low-income family has 1 child instead of 5 children, their need for government services is greatly reduced, and their tax liability should be reduced proportionately. Currently, a family's tax liability is reduced for each of the children they produce, and it could be argued that these tax breaks are an unconscious encouragement to have more kids. Conversely, if a family's tax burden increases with each child they have because their need for government services increases, a new idea like having fewer kids would be easier to adopt.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Carpe Cranium Political Tees

Political T-shirt designs offering the discerning wearer the opportunity to inject subtle irony into public discourse.

Iraq: Six Months At a Time

Endless war on the installment plan

This video makes it clear: No matter what happens in Iraq, the Bush Administration and John McCain always have the same answer: 6 more months.

They're at it again this week, asking for six more months. But six months won't change anything—except the body count and the price tag.

So please forward this video to your friends, and let's keep the pressure on to bring our troops home.

Saturday, April 05, 2008

10 mind-boggling reasons not to vote for McCain

10 things you should know about John McCain (but probably don't)

1. John McCain voted against establishing a national holiday in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Now he says his position has "evolved," yet he's continued to oppose key civil rights laws.1

2. According to Bloomberg News, McCain is more hawkish than Bush on Iraq, Russia and China. Conservative columnist Pat Buchanan says McCain "will make Cheney look like Gandhi."2

3. His reputation is built on his opposition to torture, but McCain voted against a bill to ban waterboarding, and then applauded President Bush for vetoing that ban.3

4. McCain opposes a woman's right to choose. He said, "I do not support Roe v. Wade. It should be overturned."4

5. The Children's Defense Fund rated McCain as the worst senator in Congress for children. He voted against the children's health care bill last year, then defended Bush's veto of the bill.5

6. He's one of the richest people in a Senate filled with millionaires. The Associated Press reports he and his wife own at least eight homes! Yet McCain says the solution to the housing crisis is for people facing foreclosure to get a "second job" and skip their vacations.6

7. Many of McCain's fellow Republican senators say he's too reckless to be commander in chief. One Republican senator said: "The thought of his being president sends a cold chill down my spine. He's erratic. He's hotheaded. He loses his temper and he worries me."7

8. McCain talks a lot about taking on special interests, but his campaign manager and top advisers are actually lobbyists. The government watchdog group Public Citizen says McCain has 59 lobbyists raising money for his campaign, more than any of the other presidential candidates.8

9. McCain has sought closer ties to the extreme religious right in recent years. The pastor McCain calls his "spiritual guide," Rod Parsley, believes America's founding mission is to destroy Islam, which he calls a "false religion." McCain sought the political support of right-wing preacher John Hagee, who believes Hurricane Katrina was God's punishment for gay rights and called the Catholic Church "the Antichrist" and a "false cult."9

10. He positions himself as pro-environment, but he scored a 0—yes, zero—from the League of Conservation Voters last year.10


1. "The Complicated History of John McCain and MLK Day," ABC News, April 3, 2008

"McCain Facts,", April 4, 2008

2. "McCain More Hawkish Than Bush on Russia, China, Iraq," Bloomberg News, March 12, 2008

"Buchanan: John McCain 'Will Make Cheney Look Like Gandhi,'" ThinkProgress, February 6, 2008

3. "McCain Sides With Bush On Torture Again, Supports Veto Of Anti-Waterboarding Bill," ThinkProgress, February 20, 2008

4. "McCain says Roe v. Wade should be overturned," MSNBC, February 18, 2007

5. "2007 Children's Defense Fund Action Council® Nonpartisan Congressional Scorecard," February 2008

"McCain: Bush right to veto kids health insurance expansion," CNN, October 3, 2007

6. "Beer Executive Could Be Next First Lady," Associated Press, April 3, 2008

"McCain Says Bank Bailout Should End `Systemic Risk,'" Bloomberg News, March 25, 2008

7. "Will McCain's Temper Be a Liability?," Associated Press, February 16, 2008

"Famed McCain temper is tamed," Boston Globe, January 27, 2008

8. "Black Claims McCain's Campaign Is Above Lobbyist Influence: 'I Don't Know What The Criticism Is,'" ThinkProgress, April 2, 2008

"McCain's Lobbyist Friends Rally 'Round Their Man," ABC News, January 29, 2008

9. "McCain's Spiritual Guide: Destroy Islam," Mother Jones Magazine, March 12, 2008

"Will McCain Specifically 'Repudiate' Hagee's Anti-Gay Comments?," ThinkProgress, March 12, 2008

"McCain 'Very Honored' By Support Of Pastor Preaching 'End-Time Confrontation With Iran,'" ThinkProgress, February 28, 2008

10. "John McCain Gets a Zero Rating for His Environmental Record," Sierra Club, February 28, 2008

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Can we get a re-vote?

From the Facebook group: Can I get a re-vote? Protest the DNC and mail in a can

To Howard Dean and members of the DNC

We Americans cannot let it stand that FL and MI voices will not be heard at this year's democratic convention, that they will not have a voice in the nominating process for our presidential candidate. Approximately 9% of the electorate is being ignored and left out of this historic democratic process. The country and the world is watching how we proceed. In protest of the DNC's decision to strip the delegates of Florida and Michigan for doing what the first four states in the primaries were allowed to do without penalty, fellow Americans and supporters of the democratic process are launching a mail-in protest. CAN WE GET A RE-VOTE? Get ready, the cans are on their way to the DNC.

This is a monumental decision, whether to include these very important states in this process. Please make the choice that enhances democracy in the U.S.

Thank you.

Send your beer, soda pop, juice, vegetable, fruit, nut, pie filling, condensed milk, baking soda, tuna, Spam, coffee cans (please wash them first, then personalize them) to:

Howard Dean
Democratic National Committee
430 S. Capitol St. SE
Washington DC 20003

Nancy Pelosi
Office of the Speaker
H-232, US Capitol
Washington, DC 20515

Harry Reid
Office of the Majority Leader
528 Hart Senate Office Bldg
Washington, DC 20510


1. Make sure they don't have any sharp edges. Nothing that could be perceived as dangerous or hazardous.

2. Please decorate them. They need to be "presents", not trash.

Please focus your decorations on the support of voters' rights. The Democratic leaders will not listen to us if we act like we are trying to divide the party. We need their support. We already have some slogans that you are more than welcome to use.

This is not a protest in favor of one candidate over the other. Anyone who supports democracy and voters' rights is free to join and participate.

Our only common support is for the voters of FL and MI.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Sins of the President

Five years of occupation, five years of war crimes
A message from Ramsey Clark on the fifth anniversary of the Iraq invasion

1. The April 2008 issue of Vanity Fair magazine contains an investigative report entitled “The Gaza Bombshell” supported by “confidential documents, corroborated by outraged former and current U.S. officials,” which shows that after the Bush Administration pushed for Palestinian elections in January 2006, then, having failed to anticipate a Hamas victory, urged President Abbas to remove the fairly elected Hamas officials. Thereafter, President Bush, Condoleezza Rice and Deputy National Security Adviser Elliott Abrams backed an “action plan” to provide the means to develop an armed force under Fatah strongman Muhammad Dahlan “to crush the inevitable resistance,” which failed, touching off a bloody civil war in Gaza and the violent consequences since with Hamas rockets striking Israel and Israeli assaults killing hundreds of Palestinians in both Gaza and the West Bank. Congress was told only non-lethal aid as required by law, was being supplied to Fatah, while Secretary of State Rice raised cash to buy weapons for Fatah from which “at least 20 million of such lethal assistance got through.” The entire enterprise involved a conspiracy to commit impeachable offenses.

Far more dangerous than the Iran-Contra escapade of the Reagan Administration, in which Elliot Abrams himself was convicted, the Bush Administration has destroyed any chance for a united Palestine in the near future and peace in the Middle East. For his legacy Bush now hopes to impose a peace agreement between Israel and a Palestinian government without Hamas, both parties still reeling from the consequences of Bush’s planned violence. But a divided and traumatized Palestine is not capable of achieving a peace agreement that can win the support of the Palestinian people and secure peace. The U.S. has never denied the factual accuracy of this devastating report. Its only response was a self-righteous reiteration of US opposition to terrorism without addressing the statements in the story.

2. President Bush has vetoed Congressional legislation prohibiting torture by the CIA. Congress failed to override the veto by the required 60% of the voting members in the House, all in March 2008. This tells US intelligence agencies and military forces as well as the world at large that the US will continue its criminal practice of torture in violation of international and US law, a continuing impeachable offense.

3. President Bush is pressing the Government of Iraq, that his policies created, for a binding bilateral treaty recognizing a permanent US military presence in Iraq and a major share of oil exploration, development, production, distribution and control rights in Iraq for US oil companies. The new $700 million US Embassy in the heart of Baghdad will be the center of power in Iraq. Both are continuing impeachable offenses.

4. President Bush continues to threaten, among others, North Korea, Sudan, Syria and most of all Iran with the use of force, a violation of the U.N. Charter equal to the actual use of force. The threats are impeachable offenses. Considering his history, it would be naive and negligent to fail to act to prevent President Bush from further military aggression. Impeachment is the only sure way.

5. On March 11, 2008, the early retirement, effective March 31, 2008, of Admiral William J. Fallon, the commander of all US forces in the Middle East, was announced. Admiral Fallon replaced General John P. Abizaid only last year, with great fanfare from the Bush Administration. Admiral Fallon failed to meet their expectations. He emphasized diplomacy over force in dealing with Iran, supported additional troop withdrawals from Iraq and expressed the view that the US had not given sufficient attention to Afghanistan. Thomas P.M. Garnett, a respected military analyst, wrote a profile of Admiral Fallon for Esquire magazine earlier this year entitled “The Man Between War and Peace,” in which he quoted the Admiral as saying the “constant drumbeat of conflict” from the Bush Administration directed at Iran was neither helpful nor useful. The removal of Admiral Fallon to facilitate further aggression in Iraq and threats or assaults against Iran is an impeachable offense.

All of these activities of the Bush administration involve new impeachable offenses committed within the last few months. How many more impeachable acts will occur if we fail to achieve impeachment now?

Speaking before the National Religious Broadcasters convention in Nashville, Tennessee on March 11, 2008—the first of three speeches President Bush has planned on the subject of his war and terrorism in advance of the testimony of General Petreaus and Ambassador Crocker before Congress next month—he insisted, “The decision to remove Saddam Hussein was the right decision early in my presidency” to a standing ovation. “It is the right decision at this point in my presidency, and it will forever be the right decision.”

Will President Bush tell the world when the decision “early in his presidency” was made to remove Saddam Hussein? Was it before or after September 11, 2001? January 1, 2003? Why did he claim his “Shock and Awe” aggression was necessary because Iraq had weapons of mass destruction and connections with Al Qaeda and not mention his purpose was to remove Saddam Hussein when he ordered that aggression? Does he believe as the “Decider” he had authority to remove Heads of Foreign Governments of his choice?

In the speech to Religious Broadcasters, President Bush frequently spoke of his desire to spread freedom and democracy, arguing, “The effects of a free Iraq and a free Afghanistan will reach beyond the borders of those two countries... It will show others what’s possible." Does President Bush believe Iraq and Afghanistan are free and democratic? Does he believe any country in the world would want to trade its condition for the present condition of Iraq or Afghanistan? Does he know of a village that wants to be destroyed so it can be saved?

“And we undertake this work because we believe every human being bears the image of our Maker. That’s why we’re doing this,” he told the Religious Broadcasters. If President Bush believes every human being bears the image of our Maker, why does he send young Americans and spend trillions of dollars to destroy the image of human beings across whole nations? Why do his policies seek always to empower the rich and impoverish the poor?

Do not the poor also bear the image of our Maker?

On March 14, 2008, three days after the federal reserve offered the biggest investment banks on Wall Street $200 billion in cash loans in exchange for hard to sell mortgages, backed securities as collateral, resulting in jubilant bankers and the greatest one day rise in the Dow Jones average in five years, President Bush appeared before grateful bankers on Wall Street to assure them there will be no recession, that his tax cuts for the rich early in his presidency were right and his economic policies will forever be right.

The probability that President Bush will strike Iran with missiles before the end of his presidency is a high risk. Perhaps he will act in the fall to make military concerns dominate the November elections. Then will he say “The decision to prevent a madman from possessing nuclear bombs was the right decision late in my Presidency...and it will forever be the right decision”?

(To learn more, visit

Monday, March 17, 2008

House Democrats reject telecom amnesty

Salon's Glenn Greenwald: "House Democrats reject telecom amnesty,
warrantless surveillance" (March 14, 2008)

As impressive as the House vote itself was, more impressive still was the floor debate which preceded it. I can't recall ever watching a debate on the floor of either House of Congress that I found even remotely impressive—until today. One Democrat after the next—of all stripes—delivered impassioned, defiant speeches in defense of the rule of law, oversight on presidential eavesdropping, and safeguards on government spying. They swatted away the GOP's fear-mongering claims with the dismissive contempt such tactics deserve, rejecting the principle that has predominated political debate in this country since 9/11: that the threat of the Terrorists means we must live under the rule of an omnipotent President and a dismantled constitutional framework.

...It's hard not to believe that there's at least some significant sea change reflected by this. They have seen that they can defy the President even on matters of Terrorism, and the sky doesn't fall in on them. Quite the opposite: an outspoken opponent of telecom amnesty, warrantless eavesdropping and the Iraq War was just elected to the House from Denny Hastert's bright red district, and before that, Donna Edwards ousted long-time incumbent Al Wynn by accusing him of being excessively complicit with the Bush agenda.

Virtually every one I know who has expended lots of efforts and energy on these FISA and telecom issues has assumed from the start—for reasons that are all too well-known—that we would lose. And we still might. But it's hard to deny that the behavior we're seeing from House Democrats is substantially improved, quite commendably so, as compared to the last year and even before that. It's very rare when there are meaningful victories and I think it's important to acknowledge when they happen.

Read the full story here:

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Hillary freeing her inner comeback-kid

My email to Versen (Hugo Zoom):

JV, yeah I'm all like "So" and there was this like thing and I just like finished watching the latest gnooze broadcast and I'm all like "Whoa..."

Funny. She is clever.

I'm drab. How are you? I'm surprised at how I felt about Hillary taking three of the states tonight. I was all like "Whoa..." A little disappointed. I suppose the media has painted Obama as such a darling that my brain started perceiving him as the sympathetic protagonist under attack by the strident Hillary. It, of course, is all scripted professional wrestling, so I shouldn't become emotionally involved either way. I did vote for Obama in the California primary, but I felt silly because I was so noncommittal about my choice and was just following what I sensed was the flow.

I didn't think your voting for Ron Paul today was a bad idea and I didn't make a face. I heard that Rush Limbaugh encouraged Republicans to vote for Hillary, so the crossover vote must be useful strategically, and your reasoning sounded logical to me.

As far as McCain mutating into a hawk after his experiences in Vietnam, I think it's because he doesn't remember much. In a documentary, a fellow soldier reminiscing about those days said that being with McCain on liberty was "like a train wreck." Hard drinking, hard partying all night. So apparently McCain spent a good portion of the Vietnam War hungover. (Do you think that anecdote is too cynical?)


Sunday, February 10, 2008

Dear Senator Feinstein

Thank you so much for voting to approve Michael Mukasey as Attorney General. This courageous action by you and your colleagues will reverberate for decades around the world as our government restructures itself from a tripartite system to a unilaterally powerful executive branch subjected to no checks and balances provided by the greatly diminished legislative and judicial branches. The need for this type of governmental structure in the economic realities of the 21st century could not possibly have been foreseen by the authors of the Constitution in the 18th century. I understand how difficult it is to make decisions that fundamentally change the Constitution, and I commend you and thank you for taking this bold step.

John Garvey

This Unprecedented Administration has been made possible by a grant from Churchgoers Nationwide

(Email from Congressman Wexler)
Our Constitution is under threat and the most basic principle of checks and balances is being undermined. Not since Watergate has a president so openly disregarded the will of Congress.

During hearings in the Judiciary Committee yesterday, I told Attorney General Michael Mukasey that I called for impeachment hearings because of the stonewalling and blatant abuses of the Bush Administration. He responded by stating that he will NOT enforce a contempt of Congress citation against Harriet Miers and White House Chief of Staff Josh Bolten for refusing to testify before Congress. The video is here:

Alberto Gonzales may be long gone, but the Bush Administration continues its executive overreach with the new Attorney General.

We can debate the need for Impeachment hearings. We can argue its effects on the election or our agenda. But one thing is abundantly clear:

If Congress' right to require testimony is undermined, then our country's leaders - Democrat, Republican, or Independent - will be immune from accountability.

The power of the subpoena - to call officials before us - is one of the most fundamental safeguards in our system of government. To have it effectively discarded - by virtue of the President instructing Administration officials to ignore a congressional subpoenas and not even appear before Congress - is unprecedented. The idea that the Attorney General would willingly defend this position - despite Congress' constitutional right to call such witnesses - is outrageous.

Impeachment hearings could render this moot: The President, Vice President, and all officials under them would no longer invoke executive privilege. There would be no more smokescreens.

In one week, I will be delivering my letter calling for impeachment hearings to Chairman John Conyers. Already, 16 Members of Congress have joined my call, including 3 Judiciary Committee members. I am hopeful for more in the coming days, but it is important for you to reach out to your representative in Congress to express how you feel. You can view the current list of signers, here:

I do not know how Congress will react, but I do know this: I will pursue this course aggressively. I will not compromise away the constitutional role of Congress. Your support is invaluable. Please know that I am working everyday to ensure that the Bush Administration is held accountable.

Please continue to support this movement at

Yours truly,

Congressman Robert Wexler

Dear Chairman Conyers

(From Congressman Wexler to Chairman Conyers on 16 January 2008)
You have been a tireless champion of providing oversight to an Administration that has run roughshod over our constitution, that operates with no limits on executive branch authority and one that has repeatedly flouted the investigations and oversight the 110th Congress has tried to provide over the past year. We have the greatest respect for the work you have done and believe that impeachment hearings pertaining to Vice President Cheney are the best way to move that work forward.

Impeachment hearings will allow for the exact kind of oversight that you and the Democratic leadership have provided regarding the actions of the Administration but without the opportunity for the Bush Administration to ignore lawful requests for information, refuse subpoenas and effectively limit its own oversight.

Impeachment hearings can provide the opportunity to cut through the executive privilege defenses and force this Administration to answer a Congress it has clearly chosen to ignore. We know you would agree that as Members of Congress, we can not allow legitimate oversight to be thwarted or such a dangerous precedent to stand.

The charges against the Vice President relate to the core actions of this Administration, its unlawful behavior and its abuse of power. We are concerned with alleged crimes that are central to his duties of Vice President, including credible allegations of abuse of power that if proven may well constitute high crimes and misdemeanors under our constitution. As you know, the charges against Vice President Cheney include providing Congress and the American people false intelligence leading up to the Iraq war, the revelation of the identity of a covert agent for political retaliation, and the illegal wiretapping of American citizens.

We trust that you will hold a sober investigation and let the facts determine the outcome as you have as Chairman this past year. We sincerely believe that impeachment hearings are the appropriate and necessary next step given what we have seen of this Administration. Chairman Conyers, we are respectfully asking you join us and concerned citizens around the country in supporting impeachment hearings.


Robert Wexler

Dear Congressman Schiff

(From Congressman Wexler to House members on 16 January 2008)
Over the recess, I began collecting signatures online from citizens across the country in support of beginning impeachment hearings pertaining to Vice President Cheney. I was shocked by the overwhelming response. In just a few weeks, I have received almost 200,000 signatures. What I have learned is that Congress is way behind the American people on this issue. According to a November 13 poll by the American Research Group, nearly three-quarters of Americans believe that the Vice President has abused his power in office, and almost half believe he should be removed from office immediately. Now I am asking you to join me in supporting hearings by signing the attached letter to Chairman Conyers.

As I said in my op-ed with Representatives Luis Gutierrez and Tammy Baldwin in the Philadelphia Enquirer (attached), the issues at hand are too serious to ignore, including credible allegations of abuse of power that if proven may well constitute high crimes and misdemeanors as provided in our constitution. You do not have to believe that the case has already been made to support hearings. One of the important functions of hearings would be to put all the evidence on the table and let the facts determine where to go from there.

Chairman Conyers has been a leader in holding this Administration to account for its consistent pattern of ignoring the balance of powers set out by our Founding Fathers and baselessly asserting that it is above the law. I hope that you will sign the attached letter to Chairman Conyers asking that now he join us in support of impeachment hearings as well.


Robert Wexler

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Good news and bad from Iraq

From Congressman Adam Schiff:

Thank you for contacting me regarding the War in Iraq. I appreciate hearing from you and welcome your input.

In December, I traveled to Iraq with a Congressional delegation to assess the situation on the ground firsthand. It was my fourth trip to Iraq since 2003. These trips are always enlightening—it is deeply moving to meet and speak to the men and women serving in our armed forces. It's such an important reminder of the sacrifices they are making and courage they display every day. We had a lengthy meeting with General David Petraeus and other military commanders, as well as State Department personnel. The trip also gave me a chance to speak to the troops actually patrolling the streets of Baghdad, Anbar Province and elsewhere in Iraq to get their sense of the security situation and how it has evolved.

It was apparent to me in speaking to soldiers and commanders in Iraq that the security situation in the country has significantly improved over the past six months. The "Sunni Awakening," the turning of Sunni Sheiks against al Qaeda in Iraq, seems to be the primary cause of the decline in violence. Sunni leaders who had been deeply involved in supporting and sheltering the insurgents who were attacking U.S. troops and Iraqi civilians have found common cause with our coalition against al Qaeda. The brutality and indiscriminate violence of al Qaeda in Iraq seems to have convinced many local leaders that assisting U.S. forces is their best option. The security situation has also improved because of a decision, however temporary, by Iran to curtail the supply of some of the more lethal improvised explosive devices (IEDs). And finally, the terrible ethnic cleansing of many Baghdad neighborhoods has resulted in a de facto separation of some of the warring Sunni and Shia tribes.

The increased number of U.S. troops have worked hard to consolidate the security gains, but unless political progress is made soon, none of these gains may be sustainable in the long term. I have maintained for the past three years that any lasting solution in Iraq will come from political progress, not military force alone. The hope was that the improvement in security would create breathing room for political change, allowing the sort of hard bargaining and compromise that is inherent to true democratic government. Tragically, however, there is precious little evidence that Iraqi leaders are willing to make those concessions, and little evidence of progress towards reconciliation.

Our military is doing its job, but we face an endless occupation unless the ethnic and sectarian groups that make up Iraq—the Sunnis, the Shia, and the Kurds—agree to negotiate through the political process rather than through armed conflict. When I met with State Department officials privy to high level discussions within the Iraqi government, they had very little good news to report. A budget measure and minor reform of the de-Baathification process were all they could point to—almost all of the the political benchmarks set by the President and Congress are yet unfulfilled.

While my time in Iraq was eye-opening and inspirational, it did not fundamentally alter my understanding of the situation on the ground, or my support for an orderly drawdown of our combat forces. The indefinite presence of U.S. troops will not force Iraqi political leaders to make the compromises necessary for lasting peace and stability. We can and have created the conditions in which reconciliation can take place, but we cannot force the Iraqis to live peacefully as one nation. Moreover, if we commit to stay in Iraq for years to come, the Iraqi people will have little incentive to work out their differences on their own, knowing that U.S. troops will always be there to tamp down the violence and discourage mass reprisals. Serving as a permanent police presence in Iraq is not in our national security interest.

We had to cut our trip short to rush back to Washington, D.C. for a vote on a bill that would provide another $70 billion in unconditional funding for the War in Iraq. I support funding measures for Iraq which set out our plans to draw down our combat forces, but opposed this "blank check." The House approved the unrestricted funding on a vote of 272-142, and it was signed by the President. I will continue to fight to change our course in Iraq at every available juncture, including the appropriations process.

It is my most fervent hope for 2008 that we will see continued reductions in violence in Iraq , and that the political deadlock will be broken. It remains clear to me that we should be planning for our withdrawal, not making plans to stay for years to come. Please be assured that I will fight for change and accountability in the weeks and months to come. Finally, I encourage you to visit my website,, to read my account of the trip on my blog, and to view photos from Iraq. Thank you for your thoughts, I will keep them in mind as this debate continues in the House.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Of primaries and documentaries

My email to Versen (Hugo Zoom):

Thanks for commenting on my last blog post. You did bring up an interesting point about how much money could be made from political ads if the CA and NY primaries were first. Ya wonder why they're passing up the bonanza.

I have been thinking that the reason for the hype for the Iowa and NH primaries on CNN is to manufacture drama. They treat it like it's a big story, and it becomes a big story because they draw so much attention to it. This, of course, has the benefit of making their advertising minutes cost more, but the upside is that more people turn out to vote. The more hype and drama, the more voters. Isn't CNN a wonderful company? (Just like Wal-Mart.) Still, I couldn't believe CNN's coverage of NH. It looked as if it were the actual election. They seem to have an unlimited budget for graphics and display screens.

Did you read the second comment on my post? The commenter was named Kalliope. (I hope that's a user name and not her real name.) She said breathlessly "The results were uplifting for all the reasons that you believe Iowa isn't relevant." You and I could dismantle the logic of that statement fairly easily, but at least her candidate won and she's happy.

I've never seen Trembling Before G-d. It would be just too annoying to sit through. The plot outline on IMDb says " to reconcile their passionate love of Judaism and the Divine with the drastic Biblical prohibitions that forbids homosexuality." Passionate love of Judaism? How can they love a religion that forbids meat and dairy being on the table at the same time? That allows eating meat only from the front half of the cow? That forbids eating without handwashing so that on a plane, where handwashing is nigh impossible because the restroom is so frequently occupied, one is required to wear plastic gloves when eating? (You knew you'd get me cranked up by sending me that article.) But then again, it's a religion that tells its followers that they are superior to everyone else in the world. Who wouldn't love that?

However, I've recently read three novels set in Israel as research for the story I want to write. (The Genizah at the House of Shepher, Bethlehem Road Murder, and The Last Secret of the Temple) The novels present both the Israelis and Palestinians sympathetically and honestly. Both have been brutalized and both have committed atrocities. Reading the books has been a good experience.

I also watched the documentary To Die In Jerusalem on cable recently. A young Israeli woman has been killed by a young Palestinian woman in a suicide bombing. The Israeli mother wants just to talk to the Palestinian mother to find out how such a thing could happen. After four years of trying to meet in person, they finally meet via a satellite hookup. It's a moving film. It follows the Israeli mother primarily, and she's likeable and one feels for her and what she's experiencing. But what I kept thinking through the whole film was that the key to the whole bloody mess, and what the Israeli mother couldn't begin to grasp, was that the invasion in 1948 should never have happened and that the Israelis shouldn't be there. One of the novels I read mentioned that some Palestinian families still have the deeds to their houses (the houses they were forced out of and which are now occupied by Israelis) and they've framed the deeds and have them hanging on a wall in their living quarters in the camps. That image pretty much sums it all up for me. Yes it's a simplistic answer from someone who is not physically or emotionally involved in the conflict, but it all does eventually go back to a framed deed on a wall and what it represents.

It will be interesting to see how you dissect my logic.

What's new with you?


Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Hey Iowa! We don't care what you think!

Why should you set the pace for national campaigns? Are your 3,000,000 residents representative of the whole rest of the country? That's a tough one, I know, so let me help you with the answer: NO.

Only 3,000,000 residents? Mostly white and still fairly bigoted? And you set the pace for the rest of us? Chicago alone, the third-largest city in the U.S., has a population equal to all of Iowa. The population of the U.S. is now 300,000,000. What percentage of the whole country do Iowans represent?


So why did you move the date for the caucus up from 19 January in 2004 to 3 January in 2008, when around 20 states scheduled their primaries for 5 February? So you could retain your role as the pace car? Did you ask us if we wanted you to be the pace car? Why didn't it occur to you to join the other states on the new Super-Duper Tuesday in February? Because you like the limelight and don't want to give it up? You really make important decisions based on what's good for the country. You are to be commended.

What I expressed hope for in my 1 July 2005 post about the primary system was that all primaries would take place on a single day so that earlier small-state primaries would have no influence on later large-state primaries. Well at least the primary for my state, California, has been moved up from 2 March to 5 February. It's better than nothing, but it still allows Iowa and New Hampshire to have inappropriate influence on each candidate's momentum.

Maybe it's the media's fault. Maybe the media should just ignore the Iowa caucus so that trailing candidates would stay in the race longer and let the more representative larger states have a say in who is eventually nominated. The Iowa caucus is about as nationally significant as the election of the senior-class president at a rural high school.