Friday, December 28, 2007

Candidates by (un) Intelligent Design…

I have to admit, I was kinda waiting for this one… Republican Presidential candidate Ron Paul says he doesn’t believe in the Theory of Evolution.

Uh.. ok…

Hearing that from Mike Huckabee, or Tom Tancredo or even hearing several different versions of that from Mitt Romney would not be all that surprising. But I will confess I was secretly rooting for Ron Paul, only because he really isn’t a Republican . He is a Libertarian running as a Republican. A fact that annoys the heck out of the Republican Party. Watching various Fox News talking heads have to ask him questions at the GOP candidates debate is pure fun. For a while there Congressman Paul was the only reason I tuned into the GOP debates. Yet when we look at the Republican Party of 2007-1008 lets be honest, Larry Craig has a better shot at the GOP Presidential Nomination than Ron Paul does. But, over the last few weeks and months Ron Paul had been saying some pretty sensible sounding things. Stuff like;

“Cliché’s about supporting the troops are designed to distract from failed policies, policies promoted by powerful special interests that benefit from war, anything to steer the discussion away from the real reasons the war in Iraq will not end anytime soon.”

And..

“Deficits mean future tax increases, pure and simple. Deficit spending should be viewed as a tax on future generations, and politicians who create deficits should be exposed as tax hikers. “

As a result, friends of mine, longing for the days before the Republican Party lost its mind and sold its soul, have flocked to the Ron Paul bandwagon. Ah, but then in one brief moment, perhaps without even meaning to, Ron Paul showed us all exactly what is wrong with the GOP.

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I have said it before and it still rings true. For the GOP sanity is optional. Now, I don’t want to get into a debate on Evolution versus Creationism. And to be honest I have never seen how the two concepts are incompatible. The bible says “God made…” the bible does not say how exactly. Yet in a frantic quest for the support of a fanatical religious conservative base, GOP candidates have been in a race to prove who is biggest fundamental case in the Republican Party.

Now if you want to reject the Theory of Evolution be my guest, that is entirely your prerogative. My problem with that is, don’t do it half way. The GOP may not like evolution. But they sure love Darwin’s theory of natural selection. Which is how this all relates to health care.

Huh?

That’s right. Health Care.


Here are few facts to consider. In 2008 the United States of America, over 18,000 people between the age of 18-64 will die because they do not have access to affordable health coverage. That is more than the September 11th attacks and Hurricane Katrina combined. What is the GOP response? “Let the Market decide”

How many times do we hear the great GOP rallying cry; “Let the Market decide!”. Well anybody who has had basic high school economics can tell you the two basic market forces are Supply and Demand. When demand for goods or services exceeds supply the price goes up. When supply for that same good or service exceeds demand the price goes down. Basic economics right? Yet in the case of Health Care, demand will always vastly exceed supply. So the GOP solution to address the deaths of nearly 350 people a week in this country boils down to economic Darwinism. Survival of the richest.

It’s always interesting to see when a healthy well insured Republican says “Health Care is not a right!” Yet claim that the ability to carry a concealed firearm, or enact public policy based on a lopsided misinterpretation of the Bible somehow are. The most basic fundamental American rights, are spelled out in our nation’s founding document.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

How is right to life, something all the GOP candidates repeatedly claim to be champions of, not directly connected to access to affordable health care? And to say the Government has no role to play is to deny the next sentence in our Declaration of Independence.

That to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.


When talking about health care, the GOP loves to selectively paint “the Government” as some kind of beast that roams the countryside eating damsels and burning villages. Yet when talking about other issues like, who can or cannot get married, or who should have control over a woman’s body, or the need to invade countries that never attacked us, the Government becomes a warrior angel defending freedom and standing firm for the rights of “families”, (or at least James Dobson’s narrow definition of what constitutes a family.)

The real question that needs to be asked of all the GOP candidates from Ron Paul on down the line is simply this. How many people in the United States this year will have to die, so you can feel ideologically comfortable?

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Monday, December 03, 2007

We now Join the GOP Debate In Progress...

Welcome to the Republican Presidential Candidates primary debate!

FOX NEWS HOST BRIT HUME: And now let's meet the candidates.

Congressman Tom Tancredo of Colorado, Congressman Ron Paul of Texas, Former Governor Mike Huckabee of Arkansas, Former Mayor Rudy Giuliani of New York City, Governor Mitt Romney of Massachusetts, Senator John McCain of Arizona, Senator Sam Brownback of Kansas,; and Congressman Duncan Hunter of California.

Here now is the format of this debate. Each candidate will be asked a series of questions on wide range of foreign policy , domestic issues and perhaps others matters. Answers are limited to one minute each. With points being scored by the most effective use of the following:

Global War on Terror or “GWOT” = Ten Points
Islamic Fascism , Islamic Fascist terrorist = Ten Points
Any combination of the words “Hillary” and/ or “Clinton” = Ten points.
“Secular Progressive(s)” = Five points.
(BELL RINGS)

Let's get started. We will cover a number of issues tonight, Let's begin the questioning with my colleague Chris Wallace. Chris?

WALLACE: Thank you, Brit. I just want to say how brave it is for you to be leading this debate while we are in the middle of a Global War on Terror . (BELL RINGS) Wow! Ten points for me! Ok then, Good evening, gentlemen. Let's talk about illegal immigration. A question for you all …. As president, would you continue to protect us from the hordes of Islamic Fascists who see to exploit the weak enforcement of our borders? Mayor Giuliani?

GIULIANI: Chris, ever since 9-11, and by 9-11 I mean September the eleventh , two thousand and one, and by September 11th , 2001 I mean the day we began the global war on terror against the Islamic Fascist Terrorists that the Clintons especially Hillary would appease through secular progressive policies…
(BELL RINGS) (BELL RINGS) (BELL RINGS) (BELL RINGS) (BELL RINGS)

OTHER CANDIDATES: Ooooooh! Ahhhhhh!

ROMNEY: Well, Chris, first of all, the Islamic fascists (BELL RINGS) clearly want our borders to be wide open so they can bring the Global War on Terror (BELL RINGS) to our nation’s homes and schools.

WALLACE: Senator McCain...

MCCAIN: GWOT! Vietnam, Victory, Honor, Islamofacists!

HUCKABEE: Secular Progressives! GWOT! Clinton! Jesus!
(BELL RINGS) (BELL RINGS) (APPLAUSE)

WALLACE: Congressman Tancredo, Why are you still here?

COLORADO REP. TOM TANCREDO: I am not really sure, but , I listen to my colleagues up here talk about this, and I ask -- uh…. Umm.. … GWOT! GWOT! Hillary wants to invite the Islamofascists to tea with secular progressives! (BELL RINGS) (BELL RINGS)

WALLACE: Nice save Congressman!

TANCREDO: Thanks Chris!

CALIFORNIA REP. DUNCAN HUNTER: FENCE! FENCE! GWOT! GWOT! HILLARY!

FRED THOMPSON: zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz!

GIULIANI: 9-11! September the eleventh! The day after September 10th!

MCCAIN: Vietnam, Hillary, GWOT!

ROMNEY: GWOT! GWOT!

WALLACE: Senator Brownback, I know you're itching to get in this. ; I have one for you. Your colleague, Senator Larry Craig of Idaho, is making it difficult for the Republican Party to claim to be the party of family values. Now, I know that as his friend, what do you say to Senator Craig's second thoughts about resigning?

KANSAS SEN. SAM BROWNBACK: Hillary Clinton wants Secular Progressives to force our surrender in the Global War on Terror!
(BELL RINGS) (BELL RINGS) (BELL RINGS)

(APPLAUSE)

WALKLACE : Another e-mail question for all of you "For the sake of the GOP, should Larry Craig resign immediately?"

HUNTER: GWOT!
ROMNEY: HILLARY!
GIULIANI: 9-11!
TANCREDO: ISLAMIC FASCISM!
MCCAIN: VIETMAM!
THOMPSON: zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz!
HUNTER: BUILD A HIGHER FENCE!
HUCKABEE: … ISLAMOFASCISTPROGRESSALISTICCLINTONALLYDOCIOUS!!!

(BELL RINGS) (BELL RINGS) (BELL RINGS) (BELL RINGS) (BELL RINGS) (APPLAUSE)

BRIT HUME: Wow! Thank you, Governor.

BRIT HUME: Congressman Paul, apparently we have to ask you a question…. Why do you hate America?

PAUL: Well, first off, you're making stuff up….

BRIT HUME: I'm sorry time’s up… moving on..

PAUL: Hey! Wait a second!.....

HUME: Senator Brownback, you have a rebuttal to Congressman Paul’s answer?
BROWNBACK: Hillary will lose the GWOT by letting secular progressives force Gay Marriage into our schools!

(BELL RINGS) (APPLAUSE)

PAUL: You people are nuts….

(AUDIENCE BOOING)

PAUL: Did I mention I really love guns?
(BELL RINGS) (APPLAUSE)

GIULIANI: I love guns too!
(LAUGHTER)

ROMNEY: Guns are Cool!

MCCAIN: I used guns in Vietnam

THOMPSON: zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz!

TANCREDO: Hello? Is my mike on?
(LAUGHTER)

HUCKABEE: GWOT!

PAUL: Can I respond... to what you said before?

HUME : No your time is up…

HUNTER: HILLARY!

TANCREDO: THE TROOPS!!!

(((WILD APPLAUSE))))!!

WALLACE: Another nice save Tom!

ROMNEY: I like Troops!

MCCAIN: In Vietnam I was the Troops!

(APPLAUSE)

GIULIANI: Hate it when he does that…

BROWNBACK: So unfair….

HUNTER: Show off!

HUCKABEE: Jesus, GWOT! Hillary, Troops!
(BELL RINGS)

HUCKABEE: YES! I still got it!

CHRIS WALLACE: Congressman Paul, do you still hate America?

PAUL: That’s crazy! I never said…

HUME: Thank you, Congressman… your time is up The next question is for Gov. Romney,.

PAUL: Oh come on! You have got to be kidding me… !

ROMNEY: Thank you Brit, allow me to answer your question before you ask it…. GWOT!

(BELL RINGS)

GIULIANI: The day before September 12th is 9-11!

TANCREDO: *stomps foot* HILLARYCARE!
(BELL RINGS) (APPLAUSE)

HUME: Okay Tom, you can come to the next debate.

TANCREDO: Woo hoo!

HUNTER: Secular Progressive Islamo-fascist Homosexual Marriages of Illegal Immigrants!
HUCKABEE: Performed by Hillary!
BROWNBACK: After an Abortion!
GIULIANI: On September the eleventh!

MCCAIN: IRAN!
(CROWD GASPS!)

HUME: All right, Senator good one. That gives you the last word here, sir.

MCCAIN: Hillary Clinton, GWOT, Victory , America.
(BELL RINGS) (APPLAUSE)

BRIT HUME: That is it for us tonight. Our thanks to the candidates and their staffs, to our Fox News writing staff at the Republican Party. END

Monday, November 26, 2007

As we move into the Holidays...

We pause to view one of my favorite Holiday TV moments...

Thanks Rolf & John :)

Monday, November 19, 2007

Doctor Who meet... well, Doctor Who!

A special scene filmed for the British charity telethon "Children in Need"
where Doctor #10 (David Tennant) meets his 5th incarnation (Peter Davison)

Just watch it.. PURE FUN!

Thursday, November 15, 2007

James Dobson's WORST nightmare!

Oh Dear God!! IT'S THE END OF THE WORLD!! A normal, well adjusted, talented kid who has (GASP!) TWO FATHERS! AIIIIGHGHHH!!!! Obviously this ISN'T from the United States, where inane bigots like Dobson talk about no child "left behind" but would rather have a kid like Terrence have have NO Family than one that doesn't meet HIS defininitions. This video is great...

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Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Autumnal Thoughts...




















Here on an Autum night, amidst the grass, and the falling leaves.
Drunk on the crickets and the starry sky.
Oh what fine stories we could tell,
With these stars to tell them by.

How we expected to live in a paradise
Of easy jokes and loving grace.
Then we awoke, and turned on the light
And saw each other’s human face.

I choose hope, I believe in green.
I believe in the contradiction that turns out true.
I believe all that is essential is unseen.
And for this lifetime, I believe in you.

So I will remember a sweet Autumn night.
So lovely, and so full of grace.
Above your head, the universe hung its lights.
And I reached out and touched your face.

All of the lovers and the love they made:
Nothing that was between them was a mistake.
All that was ever done for love’s sake
Was not wasted, and will never fade.

All who have loved shall be forever young
And always walk in grandeur on a clear Fall night.
They live in every song that is ever sung.
In every painting of pure light.

O love that shines in every star
And love reflected in the silver moon.
It is not here, but it’s not far.
Not here yet, but it will be here soon.
- Garrison Keillor

Friday, October 05, 2007

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Weapons of Mass Distraction



WASHINGTON (AP) -- Gen. Peter Pace, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, caused a stir at a Senate hearing this week when he repeated his view that gay sex is immoral and should not be condoned by the military. Pace, who retires next week, said he was seeking to clarify similar remarks he made in spring, which he said were misreported.

Hmmm, okay... Let me see if I understand this....

Over three thousand American Soldiers have died in the a war under his command, Soldiers have had to scavange scrap metal to armor vehicles, under his command. Wounded veterans have languished neglected and ignored in squalid conditions in VA hospitals, under his command. Billions of dollars of have gone missing from military contracts and inept management, all under his command.

With all that, what do you suppose keeps outgoing Joint Chiefs Chair General Peter Pace awake with worry?

Sex.

Apparently the threat posed by unmarried soldiers having sex, especially gay sex is the reason General Pace was unable secure Iraq, catch Osama Bin Laden or effectively manage the oversight of taxpayer resources.

"Are there wonderful Americans who happen to be homosexual serving in the military? Yes," he told the Senate Appropriations Committee during a hearing Wednesday focused on the Pentagon's 2008 war spending request.

Wow, . The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff sitting before the United States Senate manged to show that he is only slightly less stupid than the President of Iran, who seems to think Homosexuals don't even exist in his country

"We need to be very precise then, about what I said wearing my stars and being very conscious of it," he added. "And that is, very simply, that we should respect those who want to serve the nation but not through the law of the land, condone activity that, in my upbringing, is counter to God's law." Pace said.

Fine, lets talk about "God's Law" for a moment. One of the most basic statutes of God's law is that God doesn't like false witness. Looking at General Pace's testamony over the last three years on the subject of Iraq we see the stark contrast of his words with the reality on the ground. One can only conclude General Pace was either lying or is an idiot wth no clue of the realites of his own command.

God's law clearly commands General Pace to look after the poor. How many soldiers and their families have been forced to pay for body armor, medical treatment and even hospital food. (The pentagon bills wounded soldiers $8.10 a day for their own food in military hospitals.) Yet that doesn't seem to bother General Pace as much as gay sex seems to.

"I would be very willing and able and supportive" to changes to the policy "to continue to allow the homosexual community to contribute to the nation without condoning what I believe to be activity -- whether it to be heterosexual or homosexual -- that in my upbringing is not right," Pace said. Pace noted that the U.S. Military Code of Justice prohibits homosexual activity as well as adultery.

Actually no, adultery is not listed as an offense in the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ). Articles 77 through 134 of the UCMJ detail what are "punitive offenses" (things military personnel can be prosecuted for), and Adultery isn't on the list.

Adultery is covered under Article 134, which is also known as the "General Article." It prohibits conduct which is of a nature to bring discredit upon the armed forces, or conduct which is prejudicial to good order and discipline.

There is a street in the Itaewon district of Seoul, South Korea just a short walk from the main gate of Yongsan Garrison , one of the largest American Military bases in the world. The street is commonly known as "Hooker Hill." On any given Friday or Saturday night you can see pleanty of American Military personnel, many of them wearing wedding rings, frequenting the impressive concentration of brothels found there.

General Pace never mentioned his outrage over this in his testamony. Yet he expressed at length his deep personal concerns over the danger to the military posed by homosexual conduct.

To hear General Pace tell it, the real threat to good order and dicilpline is not, extended tour after extended tour, or a VA system that is failing wounded soldiers, or contractors getting paid ten times the average salary of enlisted personnel. Not even the continued lack of adequate equipment or an exit strategy from an Iraqi civil war seem to have the same weight on General Pace's moral threat scales as the idea of two men and one cot seems to have.

The obsession by the Bush Adminstration and it's various mouthpieces over all things Gay is not hard to understand. If I were General Pace I too would be looking for something else, anything else to talk about, besides the colossal blunder and lethal quagmire that is the war he has supposedly been in charge of fighting.

To talk about gays, makes for great stock footage on the Fox News Channel. General Pace standing up for his core moral, and religious beliefs , defending the military from the "gay agenda".

A good friend of mine currently serving in Iraq is, as General Pace put it, one of those, "wonderful Americans who happen to be homosexual serving in the military." On his third tour, his "gay agenda" is pretty simple. - Stay alive and come home.

Yet for General Pace, the real danger to the military isn't the civil war raging all around my friend in Iraq, but rather the idea when he does finally come home to his partner of twelve years, they wont be sleeping in twin beds.

Proberbs 3:34 says "God is stern in dealing with the arrogant." It's probably a very good thing for Peter Pace that the United States Military isn't governed by religious law after all.

Ok, this was pretty funny...

Being old enough to remember the original cast of Saturday Night Live (SNL) I will confess that over the past couple of seasons I had pretty much given up on the show. It just hasn't been funny. But even I had to admit THIS was pretty good.

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Friday, September 14, 2007

The End of the Bush Era



I actually marked my calendar. Thursday, September 13th, 2007, George W. Bush's presidency came to an end. Not his term, but his presidency.

Much like the horrific quagmire of war and strategic failure he leaves us with in Iraq, other aspects of this administration will be felt long after this failed president rides off to whatever awaits him when his term expires. But his "Presidency", has ended.

Lyndon Johnson knew it when his Presidency had ended on the fields of the Tet Offensive. Richard Nixon knew it when his Presidency had ended in 18 minutes of silence on an Oval Office tape. One truly wonders if George W. Bush knows his Presidency ended with admission by his surrogate, General David Petreus that he honesty did not know if the billions of dollars and thousands of American lives spent in Iraq had made America safer or not.

It was painful to watch. The American Presidency reduced to a desperate plea to a diminished base consisting of only those Republicans who would support him regardless. Not out of any real affection for him, or belief in his policies, but simply out of hatred for those who disagree with him.

The purpose of the speech to the nation was clear. It was George W. Bush trying to make one last pitch of a multi level marketing scam, to people who has already bought into it, and are now stuck.

The President knew he was not going to convince the American People to support his war. A war begun on lies and fought on ego. The American People have moved on. They know reality carries no weight with George W. Bush. For the vast majority of Americans mislead by their President, failed by their Congress, it is come down to waiting for January 20th 2009.

By cowering in fear of their own electoral mandate, Congressional Democrats have chosen to allow the continued death of American soldiers out of fear of being painted in campaign ads as "soft on terror" or "not supporting the troops. As a result, there is little chance that anything will change before 2009 . The President made it abundantly clear he knows that too, when he spoke not about the reality on the ground in Iraq, but rather spoke of the fantasy-Iraq that he alone sees, and clings to like addict clinging to his fix.

In the long strange trip of George W. Bush, He sees Iraq as a nation of people yearning for democracy, George Bush's democracy. He sees a war against Al-queda where he leads a grand coalition of 36 nations in the battle to save the Iraqi people. A people who really do want to get along, they just are being mislead by "terrorist killers and extremists". And all of Iraq looks with hope to their central government to lead the way , and all we need to do is just stay there long enough and "victory" will happen.

In his speech the President at long last admitted that for him, staying "long enough" is an open ended timeline. In admitting his vision of war beyond his term, George W. Bush finally told the truth.

Beyond the simplistic catch phrases of good versus evil. Beyond the endless repetition of the bold-faced lie that Iraq is somehow connected to the events of 9/11. Beyond the billions of dollars wasted, and yes even beyond the thousands of American, and hundreds of thousands of Iraqi lives lost , beyond all that, lies the true legacy of George W. Bush.

The desperate need to never allow for the idea that he might not be right. Regardless of the facts and regardless of the costs. The final act of the Bush Presidency was to say to this nation and the world, that George W. Bush will not lose face , regardless of how many people have to die to make sure of it.

In the last 500 or so days of this President's term , we as a nation will have to come to terms with those costs. And the real question to ask anyone who would seek to succeed the sad failed Presidency of George W. Bush , is not just how and when do we bring our troops home, but also how do we restore the nation we would bring them home to.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

The time has come to stop "Playing"

I am always amazed by Keith Olbermann's clear, concise empassioned honesty. He is the heir to Edward R. Morrow, and once again, his "special comment" speaks for us all. Watch it, then send it to everyone you know.

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Text Transcript:

Finally tonight, a Special Comment about Mr. Bush's trip, and his startling admission of the true motive for this war, which was revealed in his absence.

And so he is back from his annual surprise gratuitous photo-op in Iraq, and what a sorry spectacle it was.

But it was nothing compared to the spectacle of one unfiltered, unguarded, horrifying quotation in the new biography to which Mr. Bush has consented.

As he deceived the troops at Al-Asad Air Base yesterday with the tantalizing prospect that some of them might not have to risk being killed and might get to go home…

Mr. Bush probably did not know that, with his own words, he had already proved that he had been lying… is lying… will be lying.... about Iraq.

He presumably did not know, that there had already appeared those damning excerpts from Robert Draper's book "Dead Certain."

"I'm playing for October-November," Mr. Bush said to Draper.

That, evidently, is the time during which, he thinks he can sell us the real plan.

Which is, to quote him: "To get us in a position where the presidential candidates, will be comfortable about sustaining a presence."Comfortable” -- that is -- with saying about Iraq, again quoting the President, "stay... longer."

And there it is, Sir.

We've caught you.

Your goal is not to bring some troops home -- maybe -- if we let you have your way now;

Your goal is not to set the stage for eventual withdrawal;

You are, to use your own disrespectful, tone-deaf word, playing at getting the next Republican nominee to agree to jump into this bottomless pit with you, and take us with him, as we stay in Iraq for another year, and another, and another, and anon.

Everything you said about Iraq yesterday, and everything you will say, is a deception, for the purpose of this one cynical, unacceptable, brutal goal -- perpetuating this war indefinitely.

War today, war tomorrow, war forever!

And you are playing at it!

Playing!

A man with any self-respect, having inadvertently revealed such an evil secret, would have already resigned and fled the country!

You have no remaining credibility about Iraq, Sir.

And yet, yesterday at Al-Asad, Mr. Bush kept playing -- and this time, using the second of his two faces.

The President told reporters, quote -- "They, (General Petraeus and Ambassador Crocker) "tell me if the kind of success we are now seeing continues, it will be possible to maintain the same level of security with fewer American forces."

And so, Mr. Bush got his fraudulent headlines today.

"Bush May Bring Some Troops Home."

While the reality is, we know from what he told Draper, that the President's true hope is that they will not come home; but that they will stay there, because he is keeping them there now, in hope that those from his political party fighting to succeed him, will prolong this unendurable disaster into the next decade.

But, to a country dying of thirst, the President seemed to vaguely promise a drink from a full canteen -- a promise predicated on the assumption that he is not lying.

Yet you are lying, Mr. Bush.

Again.

But now, we know... why.

You gave away more of yourself than you knew in the Draper book…

And you gave away more still, on the arduous trip back out of Iraq -- hours in the air, without so much as a single vacation.

"If you look at my comments over the past eight months," you told reporters, "it's gone from a security situation -- in the sense that we're either going to get out and there will be chaos, or, more troops. Now, the situation has changed, where I'm able to speculate on the hypothetical."

Mr. Bush, the only "hypothetical" here is that you are not now holding our troops... hostage.

You have no intention of withdrawing them.

But that doesn't mean you can't pretend you're thinking about it, does it?

That is your genius, Sir -- as you see it, anyway.

You can deduce what we want -- we, the people, remember us? -- and then use it against us.

You can hold that canteen up and promise it to the parched nation.

And the untold number of Americans whose lives have not been directly blighted by Iraq -- or who do not realize that their safety has been reduced and not increased by Iraq -- they will get the bullet points: 'Bush is thinking about bringing some troops home. Bush even went to Iraq.'

You can fool some of the people all of the time, can't you, Mr. Bush?

You are playing us!

And as for the most immediate victims of the President's perfidy and shameless manipulation -- those troops, yesterday sweating literally as he spoke at Al-Asad Air Base...

Tonight, again sweating figuratively in The Valley Of The Shadow Of Death...

The President saved, for them, the most egregious "playing" in the entire trip.

"I want to tell you this about the decision, about my decision about troop levels. Those decisions will be based on a calm assessment by our military commanders on the conditions on the ground -- not a nervous reaction by Washington politicians to poll results in the media."

One must compliment Mr. Bush's writer.

That, perhaps, was the mostly perfectly crafted phrase of his Presidency.

For depraved indifference to Democracy, for the craven projection of political motives onto those trying to save lives and save a nation, for a dismissal of the value of the polls and the importance of the media… for a summary of all he does not hold dear about this nation or its people -- nothing... could top that.

As if, Sir, you listened to all the "calm assessments" of our military commanders --rather than firing the ones who dared say The Emperor Has No Clothes, and The President, No Judgment;

As if, Sir, your entire presidency was not a "nervous reaction", and you yourself, nothing but a Washington politician;

As if, Sir, "the media" does not largely divide into those parts your minions are playing, and those others who unthinkingly and uncritically serve as your echo chamber, at a time when the nation's future may depend on the airing of dissent.

And as if, Sir, those polls were not so overwhelming, and not so clearly reflective of the nation's agony... and the nation's insistence.

But this President has ceased to listen.

This President has decided that night is day, and death is life, and enraging the world against us, is safety.

And this laziest of Presidents, actually interrupted his precious time off to fly to Iraq to play at a photo opportunity... with soldiers... some of whom will... on his orders... be killed before the year... maybe the month... is out.

Just over 500 days remain in this Presidency.

Consider the dead who have piled up on the battlefield.... in these last 500 days.

Consider the singular fraudulence of this President's trip to Iraq yesterday, and the singular fraudulence of the selling of The Petraeus Report... in these last 500 days.

Consider how this President has torn away at the fabric of this nation in a manner of which terrorists can only dream... in these last 500 days.

And consider again how this President has spoken to that biographer: that he is "playing for October-November"… the goal in Iraq is "To get us in a position where the presidential candidates will be comfortable about sustaining a presence"… and consider how this revelation contradicts every other rationale he has offered... in these last 500 days.

In the context of all that… now, consider… these next 500 days.

Mr. Bush, our presence in Iraq must end.

Even if it means your resignation.

Even if it means your impeachment.

Even if it means a different Republican to serve out your term.

Even if it means a Democratic Congress -- and those true Patriots among the Republicans -- standing up and denying you another **penny** for Iraq, other than for the safety and the safe conduct home of our troops.

This country cannot run the risk of what you can still do to this country... in the next 500 days…

Not while you, Sir... are playing.

Good night, and good luck.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Go See Jersey Boys!

I will be honest, I really didn't get excited about "Jersey Boys" when it first hit Broadway, and actaully never really understood all the hype. Probably because I had never gotten into the music of The Four Seasons. So when we went to see it last night here in San Francisco I went expecting it be two hours of my life I would never get back.

WOW was I wrong.

The show quite simply is amazing! I now understand why it won the Tony Award for Best Musical. Hardly a conventional "Juke Box" show, "Jersey Boys" tells the story of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons. The national tour is here until the end of September then it heads out on the road. If it comes to your town GO SEE IT.

Here is a sneak peak...

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Thursday, August 23, 2007

Friday, August 10, 2007

Reflections on the HRC Forum



I will be honest, as I sat down to watch the HRC/Logo Presidential forum, my expectations were pretty low. Let’s face some facts. The issues surrounding equality for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Americans have not had the greatest track record in terms of uniting the electorate. The very idea that two people of the same gender might enter into some sort of vaguely defined legal partnership became this massive boogieman used by the GOP to ensure “fifty percent plus one” victories, in 2000, 2002, and 2004.

It was interesting to watch all of the Democratic candidates try to navigate the difference between two words. “Marriage” and “Union”. Senators Clinton and Obama both tried very hard to explain how a civil union as it has all the same rights as a civil marriage was essentially the same thing. Mike Gravel and Dennis Kucinich both focused on the need for equal treatment under the law, but also seemed confused by the idea that civil unions and marriage were not really the same thing. And yes, John Edwards seemed to be struggling with the question many people outside the LGBT community want to ask; “If the rights are the same, who cares what you call it?”

Then, New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson in space of ten minutes said that he was the most “electable” of the Democratic candidates, and that he thought being Gay or Lesbian was a choice. Whoops. Strange how he didn’t tell the AFLCIO members at Soldier Field that since working in manufacturing is a choice too, losing their pension and health care wasn’t really his problem. Yet by saying sexual orientation is choice he is legitimizing unequal treatment under law for millions of Americans. I don’t know any Gay or Lesbian American (and living in San Francisco I know a few…) who woke up one morning and said; “Gee, If I choose to be Gay, I can be demonized by my own government, condemned by my religion and face a lifetime of struggle for the same basic rights to life, liberty and pursuit of happiness that everyone else takes for granted! Sounds great, where do I sign up?”

The only thing Governor Bill Richardson proved last night in terms of his “electability” is that he is electable, if he was running in a Republican primary

John Edwards really wasn’t able to clearly answer why the notion of same sex marriage makes him uncomfortable and civil unions do not. But the reasons are not hard to understand, and are theological not political. The religious sacrament of marriage is very hard to untangle from the institution of civil marriage. Yet we have a separation of church and state, (And John Edwards was the only one on that stage last night to make that important point.) if seen in this context the issue becomes clear.

We would never regulate someone’s civil rights based on whether or not they have been baptized. We would never deny someone health care based on whether or not they have been “born again”. So the problem seems to be one of language. Some people cannot separate a religious rite blessed by a church, from a legal union sanctioned by the state. It is time to remove the word marriage from it’s civil context. Nobody gets a “Marriage License” from the state, because the state has no business administering a religious sacrament. Instead if you want your relationship blessed by the church fine, that’s marriage. But if you want any of the over 1000 federal benefits that apply to a couple in a legal partnership that is a Civil Union - for everybody.

In most Western democracies if you want to get “married” you have to go the court house or city hall to do it. If you want a religious ceremony as well fine, but that’s your decision. The idea that a religious official has the power to grant or deny access to civil rights is frankly nuts, and also anti-American. I am in fact a pastor’s son, and yet will say my Mother (a Lutheran Pastor) should have no power to create a legally binding civil partnership between two people. If a couple would like her to bless their union that has been created between them by the state , fine... rent tuxes buy the flowers and knock yourselves out kids. But a religious ceremony should not have ANY bearing on what civil rights you have or don’t have.

If we are truly a nation where all our citizens are guaranteed equal treatment under the law, then it is time to live up to that promise. If “marriage” is not just a religious rite, but is in fact a civil institution with taxpayer funded rights and privileges, then to deny two legal adults of no direct family relation access to those rights based on religious considerations is not just wrong, it is unconstitutional.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Two Thumbs Up for - Colma The Musical!

Colma, for those of you reading this outside of CA is a suburb of San Francisco a short ways down the penninsula from the City. Colma is sometimes called the "dead city" becaue it's where the bulk of the cemetaries in the SF Bay area are located. Residents in Colma are quite serious when the tell you the dead outnumber the living by 3 to 1 in Colma.

So when Tim told me there was a movie musical out about growing up in Colma, I thought the concept would make even less sense than the opera "Nixon in China" . In any event, we went and saw it at the Embarcadero cinema a few weeks ago. To be honest I went in expecting to be bored silly. (Hmm.. indie film musical, how uh... quaint.)

So I was surprised to discover I absolutely loved this movie. The story is not terribly deep, but as a "coming of age" film , the plot has wonderful moments, both funny and poignant, that will resonate with most anyone. Plus, I have to admit that the cast is pretty much irresistible.  The three leads HP Mendoza,, Jake Moreno and L.A. Renigen are young, very cute, can sing, and act. Mendoza wrote the story and all the music and lyrics. (Hmm, young, good looking and very talented - ugh.. don't you just hate people like that?) 

A flyer for the movie summarised it this way:
In the town of Colma, just south of San Francisco, the dead outnumber the living one thousand to one. Here, one wouldn't expect teenagers to burst out in song, or dance around cemeteries and streets. But, that's exactly what happens. Best pals Rodel, Billy, and Maribel find themselves in a state of limbo; fresh out of high school, they are just beginning to explore a new world of part-time mall jobs and crashing college parties. As newfound revelations and romances challenge their relationships with one another and their parents, the trio must assess what to hold onto, and how to best follow their dreams. It's a love song to the city, and to the residents who dream of a better (and more musical) life.

Speaking of the music, the tunes are simple yet pretty hummable , (I find complexity to be overrated, - how many tunes from Stephen Sondheim's "Assassins" can you hum off the top of your head? None? Really, I'm shocked... ) The songs range from the wonderfully catchy "Crash the Party" and "Goodbye Stupid" to the heartbreakingly poignant "Crazy like Me".

Colma the Musical is not in theaters here anymore, but a DVD release is forth coming, but if you find you have the chance to see it, definitely do.

Here is the trailer. Enjoy!

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

From Today's Milwaukee Journal- Sentinel



Now his face can be shown.

Dennis Getto
1949-2007

By AMY RABIDEAU SILVERS
Posted: July 24, 2007

Dennis Getto - restaurant critic for nearly 25 years at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and The Milwaukee Journal - died Tuesday of pulmonary fibrosis. He was 57.

Like the newspaper's own Clark Kent, Getto went to great lengths to keep his identity secret, wanting to have the same experience that any other diner would have. He often disguised his appearance, growing assorted beards, wearing awful wigs and even a cowboy hat.

He always made reservations under assumed names and paid in cash. Friends dining with Getto soon realized that he kept a small tape recorder in his shirt pocket, the better to discreetly dictate notes.

And Getto's face never appeared on the newspaper page. But he did pose with a grocery bag over his head in promotional ads. Yet another classic showed only Getto's green eyes peering through two Krispy Kreme doughnuts when the franchise hit the Milwaukee area.

In yet other chapters of his life, Getto taught journalism at the University of Wisconsin, swearing any students who worked in restaurants to secrecy. They couldn't tell their bosses when Getto was on the job.

"Students loved him and flocked to his courses," said David Pritchard, a journalism and mass communication professor. "I can't tell you how much we're going to miss him. He was very warm and witty and very good at telling politically incorrect jokes."

In addition to his wife, survivors include son Paul and brother Carl.

Services are pending.
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Dennis Getto, was the best writing teacher I ever had. If you have ever enjoyed anything I have written, a good deal of credit and thanks goes to this man.

Thanks Dennis.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Religous Extremists & The Real Attack on Faith

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Victor Hugo once wrote: "Be obliged to acknowledge this: Infallibility is not infallible, there can be error in dogma." It is sad to see how much we have forgotten that simple bit of wisdom.

When did our civil discourse, our debate of public policy become a question of good vs. evil? When did we redefine a person's worth in the eyes of the Almighty as which political philosophy they are prepared to embrace without question? Is there really a difference in what side of the aisle your pew is on?

There are some in America today who definitely think so. As has happened many times in our history, we find ourselves again debating what our founding fathers believed, and what some claim those same founders wanted all of us to believe. Thomas Jefferson was wary of mixing God and government, but John Witherspoon felt just as strongly that our nation was and should always be guided by "divine providence." So which is it? Honestly? I don't know.

However, there are few things I do know. Government is not a religion, it is a function. Ideology is not theology and should never be followed as such. Political operatives are professionals not prophets and should never go unchallenged when they claim to have a lock on truth. A nation founded by Judeo-Christians is not a mandate to create an exclusively Judeo-Christian nation.

To claim that God would vote for you is a combination of arrogance and ignorance on a biblical scale.

"Ubi Caritas et amor Deus ibi est. --Where charity and love are, there God is." There God is. Not in political telecasts masquerading as evangelism. Not in scripted sound bytes trying to re-define who is, or is not, a "person of faith."

God is not a member of any political party. To claim otherwise, to suggest otherwise, to infer otherwise truly is blasphemous. Those who would use religion to gain an advantage in debates over public policy cheapen our national heritage as a land founded by people fleeing religious intolerance.

Look no further than the public gallery of United States Sentate to see the real"attacks on faith." Where a small group of angry bigots sought to terrorize an American Hindu Cleric, Rajan Zed of Reno, Nevada. Three anti-American bigots all belonging to a group misnamed "Operation Save America", traveled to Washington from North Carolina, to show how hateful, how ignorant and how anti-American they are. They did this by interrupting the Senate invocation. Why? Because the minister praying didn't share their narrow, paranoid, fear-driven ideas about who God is, and who we all are supposed to hate.

This is The true attack on faith, it is an attack on the very foundation of American greatness "E Pluribus Unum." Our diversity.

There is an act of terrorism happening before our eyes. It is the hijacking of faith, where the goal is neither salvation nor enlightenment, but rather political advantage. "There can be error in dogma." Victor Hugo's warning is one we would do well to heed.

Friday, June 29, 2007

Legacy Accomplished

"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. -- That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed."

There are times, when you sit down at the keyboard and just have to stare at the blank page for a while, because you don't know where to begin..

The past few weeks have been nothing short of remarkable in short two hundred and thirty-one years since our nation's founders set out ``to brave the storm in a skiff made of paper." As the Fourth of July approaches, I find it to be a good idea to read the text of that Declaration of Independence and do a quick check to see how we as a nation are living up to it. The reason being, that even in 2007 words really do matter.

"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. --

We live in a time when the President of the United States defines "all " as only those people who conform to his particular limited , fearful and skewed view of the world. He is the President who history will remember for his legacy of "fifty percent plus one." A legacy where the key to victory is to divide people as much as you can, then prevent any who oppose you from having equal access to the political process. Be they people of color, people who don't speak English, or people who are not Conservative Evangelical Heterosexuals

For over two centuries, men and women have died to secure and defend those unalienable rights. Wars have been waged and won to advance those rights. People from all parts of the world came here, and continue to come here in hopes of sharing in those rights. Yet in the last few weeks we have seen the President and Vice President of the United States show their clear contempt for, and fear of those rights. The past weeks have seen attacks on our freedoms by our own Executive Branch that boggle the mind.

Be it their attempt to end habeas corpus, ridiculous claims of executive privilege, an irrational obsession for secrecy, and a complete disregard for the balance or powers and mistrust of the most basic principles of our democracy. The true legacy of George W. Bush and the Republican Party is their eight year campaign to do what King George of England couldn't do, defeat American independence.

When critics dare question, you call them traitors, you have your surrogates question their character, their motives and their very humanity. In his inaugural address, George Bush's Father lamented a time in our nation where "not each other's ideas are questioned, but each others motives." Sixteen years later, George W, Bush has embraced the politics of personal destruction, making his own legacy one of division, rancor and politically expedient hate.

"--That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed."

The legacy of George W. Bush is the sad combination of ignorance, arrogance and a deep mistrust of this nation's people and our founding principles. Fueled by years of a rubber stamp Republican Congress that now has the gall question why the new Democratic leadership has not been able to instantly clean up the mess they spent the last decade making. All against the backdrop of George Bush's personal war in Iraq. Make no mistake. This misguided, misbegotten war of choice, that has claimed the lives of thousands of Americans and hundreds of thousands of Iraqis, is the heart of the Bush legacy.

President William McKinley once said; "Unlike any other nation, here the people rule, and their will is the supreme law. It is sometimes sneeringly said by those who do not like free government, that here we count heads. True, heads are counted, but brains also . . ."

The legacy of George W. Bush is the modern day embodiment of those who would sneer at the idea of free government. Where intellect is derided and blind loyalty regardless of consequence is rewarded. Where Science is discarded in favor of a flawed misinterpretation of Christian theology. Where the will of three quarters of the American People can be ignored if it doesn't fit George W. Bush's frighteningly narrow view of the world.

Last weekend Elizabeth Edwards came to my city and by saying "I don't know why somebody else's marriage has anything to do with me", dared to affirm the idea that even in 2007 everyone has the right to the pursuit of happiness. Days later the GOP's most popular surrogate Ann Coulter, responded by saying she hoped terrorists would attack our nation and kill John Edwards. This too, is George W. Bush's legacy. The idea that if you can't win a debate based on ideas, you need only spew hateful nonsense because the media loves a good show and will give you a pass on what it was you actually said.

With only five hundred plus days left in his Presidency, George W. Bush and his party are looking for a legacy. They seem to have found it. It is a legacy of failure. Failure to listen to our friends, failure to learn from mistakes, failure to plan, failure to lead and the failure to secure life, liberty and pursuit of happiness for all our citizens.

It is a legacy of failing to trust the words on that faded skiff made of paper. Yet in the final analysis it is words found near the end of that declaration that may best describe the legacy of George W. Bush:

"A Prince, whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people"

Happy 4th of July, everybody.

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Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Wow! - One night in Wales...

A Mobile Phone Saleman from Cardiff conqured the world...

(If this doesn't make you smile, then nothing will)

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Wednesday, May 23, 2007

When Appeasement Betrays Us All...

I was struggling with how to respond to today's insane capitulation and cowardly surrender of Congressional Democrats to the whims of the worst President in American history. Fortunately Keith Olbermann again, says it better than I ever could.


Sunday, May 13, 2007

Time to get involved. Will you help?

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Hey there folks, as some of you know I have been blogging for Senator John Edwards over on his campaign website for a few months now. To be honest, the more I have learned about John Edwards, the more excited I have become, and the more convinced I am that he is the man we need in the White House.

So I am asking for your support, I have created a fundraising page for the Edwards campaign. My goal is to raise $500 for the current "end the war" ad campaign. If you or anyone you know are able to contribute, any amount is appreciated!

Here is the link to my Edwards For President Page

https://johnedwards.com/action/contribute/mygrassroots/?page_id=MjgyMzA

Thanks!

Dave

Friday, May 04, 2007

GOP Political Twister



Right hand ...where?

I remember when I was in college, our residence hall tried to set the world's record for the largest single game of "Twister" ever played. We had about two hundred people but didn't break the record. What I remember most from the attempt, was being sore for days from trying to twist my right arm six different ways to reach an elusive red dot that was just out of reach.

From what I saw last night watching MSNBC, the ten GOP presidential hopefuls are probably feeling the same way. What was billed as the first Republican debate, made our game of Twister look like a walk in the park. I have never seen ten men try so hard to twist, turn and reach for that one elusive red spot. the "mantle" of Ronald Reagan.

You had John McCain, who strained for reasons to attack Iran. Then you had Mitt Romney who twisted around his own record so much, he would need yoga lessons to untangle his own thought process. You had the also-rans desperately trying to out bigot, out bluster and out blast each other.

Duncan Hunter and Mike Huckabee want to build a moat across the US-Mexico boarder. Tommy Thompson, showed once again just how far down his throat he can shove his own foot, when he said it was ok fire people for being gay. (As of this morning his campaign was trying to quietly back pedal away from that.) And then there was Rudy...

Mayor Giuliani tried, I mean he REALLY tried to claim that red spot. He managed to work the phrase "Islamic fascist terrorism" in to as many answers as he could. Yet interestingly enough his own conscience got the better of him when asked about abortion. After trying to twist painfully aruond the issue, he admitted he suports a woman's right to make her own reproductive choices.

The Irony is by doing so, Rudy came closer to the "Reagan Spot" on that Twister board than any of the others.

What came through loud and clear on the stage at the Reagan Library was the Republican Party of 2007, is not the party of Ronald Reagan. It is not even the party of George HW Bush. What was on display last night was a GOP that has lost its mind, and sold its soul.

Amazing were the things that were NOT said. Nowhere on that stage did anyone come close to the Reagan ideals that government has no place intruding into people's private lives, or that "peace through strength" only works when you have strong partnerships around the world. None of the candidates seemed to understand that to promote freedom and human rights abroad we must first model them home.

All ten GOP candidates tried hard to pretend it was 1987 instead of 2007. They twisted to avoid their own culpability in a failed war on terror. They turned to deny their own hand in driving our nation to the brink of bankruptcy with reckless tax polices, insane spending during six years of a Republican congress, the complete neglect of over 47 million Americans without health care coverage, and a culture of corruption that as turned the party of Lincoln, Eisenhower and Reagan into the party of Delay, Abermoff, and Libby.

They stretched to avoid mentioning the damage their party has done to our Constitution. They strained to dance around GOP attacks on privacy, habeas corpus, the Geneva Convention, and Human Rights.

They fell over each other trying to prove who hated Mexicans more, who hated Hillary and Bill Clinton more, and who would fight the "Islamic Fascists" more. All they proved, is they represent a party that still thinks the way to win elections is to try desperately to divide Americans even more.

Abraham Lincoln led a GOP that sought to free the oppressed, unite the nation, and punish war profiteers. Last night we saw a GOP that still seeks to ignore oppression in countries that don't have Oil, or where the leaders are family friends> They didn't dare mention the fact we have a war profiteer for a Vice President.

Dwight Eisenhower led a GOP where war was always a last resort, and an unchecked military industrial complex is a threat to democracy. Last night we saw a GOP where an unchecked military industrial complex is their "base."

Even Richard Nixon understood we live in a world of interconnected global
relationships. Constructive engagement and détente' is always more successful than direct conflict. Last night we heard a GOP that still clings to a failed policy of you are either "With Us or Against Us".

Gerald Ford led a GOP where duty and the interests of the nation were more important than polls or elections. Where accepting responsibility for the actions you take in office is a president's first obligation. Last night we saw a GOP unable to even admit mistakes, let alone learn from them.

And sitting in that elusive red spot on last night's twister board, was Ronald Reagan, who always felt big government was never the answer for America's problems. Who felt faith was always a private matter. Last night we saw ten men desperately trying to use faith as a political tool. Ten men who think Big Government is great when it makes your base happy, leading a Republican Party that created the largest, most ineffective and costly expansion of the Federal Government in history.

George H.W. Bush once urged the GOP to see ; "In crucial things, unity, in important things diversity, and in all things generosity". Last night we saw the GOP of his son. A party that has left our nation more divided than at anytime since the civil war.

In the game of Twister they key to winning is who can adapt and change direction when needed, plan head while being flexible enough to reach the goal. What we saw at the GOP debate, was ten Republican candidates, who would rather break each other and our nation, than change their party's failed approach to government.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

When Reality Rains on The Parade...

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Four years, billions of dollars and THOUSANDS of American deaths later we have to ask; Mr. President, is the mission still accomplished?

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Star Trek: Of Gods and Men (full trailer)

Star Trek: Of Gods and Men (full trailer)




See this is what Paramount gets when they drop the ball with Star Trek and put out JUNK like the last 2 seasons of "Enterprise", fans team up with the stars and make their own movies!

Keith Olberman again... Says it best!





You have to watch this !

Cut and past the following link into your web browser

http://video.msn.com/v/us/msnbc.htm?g=3ef5ad97-15c0-42da-b389-c9365d38ae0f&f=00&fg=copy

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

A bit of excitement last night




A warehouse at the end of my street caught fire last night. Four SFFD units responded VERY quickly and kept the blaze from spreading to the large Apartment building next door. The photos were shot with my cell phone camera.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Psalm Sunday Sermons and Soundbytes



Warning: I am about to mix religion and politics so hang on...

" I'd rather see sermon than hear one any day."

-Waite Phillips,
Founder, Phillips Petroleum

I know it may seem strange to some to begin a piece on religion by quoting a famous oil executive, but we live in pretty weird times. So it seemed appropriate.

I can't count how often over the past 4 months I have heard the pundits of talk radio and cable news talk about which candidate will be embraced by "Values Voters."

I am always amused by that term. It suggests that only a select group of Americans take their personal values into account when choosing a elected official. The truth of course is the term is a code word . When the alphabet soup of cable news shows say "Values Voters" they mean conservative evangelicals. There is a popular perception that in order to be favored with the support of this particular group a candidate must first "prove" that he or she has embraced their values and beliefs, and by values, they mean a candidate's stance on abortion, gay rights, immigration and stem cell research.

Yet, just like the values voters of GOP I attend church regularly, I belong to an established faith, and take the values and faith of candidates into account when I step into the voting booth. Yet I will confess my definition of faith and values probably differs somewhat from the voters that Focus on the Family sends pre election mailings out to.

Over the next year, we will hear a lot of talk about values. We already have heard the GOP try to scare up votes with the specter of Speaker Pelosi and "San Francisco Values". Well I live in San Francisco, and I may not have much in common with James Dobson and Pat Robertson, but like most Americans I too am a values voter.

Let me take a moment to tell you what is important to this "values voter".

My faith tells me that where charity and hope are there God is. So I am looking for candidate who understands that having 48 million Americans with out health insurance is morally wrong.

My faith tells me that respect for my elders is a good thing. So I am looking for a candidate who understands that the contract with and promises made to, all generations of Americans through social security, Medicare and Medicaid are not negotiable and must be kept.

My faith tells me that the greatest commandment is to love one another. So I am looking candidate who sees war not as tool for commerce or even domestic political gain but as a true last resort. A candidate who sees the lives of our men and women in uniform as far too sacred to risk on whim or to advance a political or economic agenda.

My faith tells me to be suspicious of people who pray loudly and make their faith a public display. So I look for actions to tell me what candidate believes rather than just words said at fundraisers and prayer breakfasts.

Having looked at all the declared and perhaps soon to declare presidential candidates here is what this religious values voter sees.

I see candidates who are scrambling to redefine themselves to sell their candidacy. I see candidates who make statements and promises that are in total contradiction of things they have said and done only a few years ago. I see candidates desperate to show how he or she harbors the same prejudice against certain Americans as as the groups whose campaign contribution checks they are desperate to collect and cash do.

The best way I know to sum what I am looking for in a "Values Candidate" is to quote a banner on the Edwards campaign website . "Tomorrow Begins Today."

Neo-Conservative Evangelicals seem to be obsessed with the idea of when the "end times" are coming, and even what they can do to help hurry that along.

Yet as a Christian , my faith tells me that the true work of kingdom of God is found here and now. The bible doesn't say blessed are those "waiting around to be raptured." My faith clearly says blessed are the peacemakers, blessed are those of work for justice and who persecuted for standing up for those who cannot stand up for themselves. My faith tells me this planet we live on is a gift and the stewardship of that gift is our responsibility.

My faith and values compel me to find a candidate who understands that tomorrow really does start today. A candidate who can inspire and motivate Americans of all ages and backgrounds to start now to build a better future. A candidate who will show me a sermon by living a faith that resonates with my values, rather than scrambling to convince me that they have the same fears and prejudices that I do.

A true values candidate will embrace my hopes, not play on my fears.

A real values voter understands that the time to work for universal health care is now, the time to stand up and oppose this insane misadventure in Iraq is now, the time to work for real dialog in the Middle East is now. The time to address the issues that impact our environment is now.

Nowhere does the Christian faith say it is ok to ignore these issues because the "end times are near so we don't have to worry about it. "

As a values voter, I would rather see a sermon than hear one any day. So when I hear candidates talk about faith and values, talk is pretty cheap. For me it is actions that speak loud and clear.

A San Franciscan's Dilema


"Don't give them any money, they'll use it to by drugs or booze!" A friend of mine scolded me the other day as I handed a homeless man on Market Street a dollar.

In all honesty he was probably right. Yet it is hard to just "walk by" a man lying on the ground who clearly has not spent a night indoors in a very long time. It is the greatest civic issue facing San Francisco. Our mass of homeless. For years the homeless migrated here for the mild winter, and for cash. The city used to hand out cash to the homeless in lieu of services. Until recently San Francisco had  the highest cash grants to the homeless in the country —nearly $400 a month, and recipients were not required to prove residency or even citizenship.    Well you can imagine what that did. It turned San Francisco into a magnet for the homeless.

I know this for a fact because there was a guy who always used to ask me for spare change on LaSalle Street in Chicago, and last winter, I saw him with his same cardboard sign on Market Street here in San Francisco. I asked him how he got here , and he told me he got enough money together for a bus ticket and came here. He had been told by other homeless, that SF handed out cash to people living on the streets. He was annoyed to discover when he got here, that the practice had ended shortly after a new Mayor took office.

It was  Mayor Gavin Newsom, who started "Care not Cash". A program where instead of getting money, the homeless get housing and other assistance. It has made a difference. In the time I have lived here, as  there has been a reported drop in the number of homeless on the streets. Yet, critics of the program say the impact has been minimal, and still doesnt address what they see as the root causes of homelessness. Critics of those critics, say the "homeless advocates" are apologists for drug use and petty crime, and dont want people to have to take responsilbity for themselves.  Reality as always, probably lies somewhere in the middle.

Yet this past week the homeless seemed to be everywhere. Maybe it's just good old Lutheran Lenten guilt, but it seemed everywhere I went over the past three days, I was asked for spare change .   It got to the point where I just didn't want to make eye contact with anyone anymore. And I felt really crappy about it too. Yet in all truth what good is one dollar, or a hand full of change going to do this person? What they really need is housing, substance abuse rehab and mental and medical health services. None of which I usually carry in my pockets as I walk down Market Street.

The rational side of my brain is quick to remind me that I give every month to my church, which in turn supports programs like the San Francisco Night Ministry. Which does try to provide those real needs I just mentioned. So why do I still feel so rotten when I pretend not to hear "spare any change?" from the guy with the paper cup? Part of the problem is despite programs like Mayor Newsom's the number of homeless that I see doesn't seem to be going down.

Yet I could give every cent I have to every homeless person I see and it wouldn't do anything to help solve the problem. So I keep walking avoiding eye contact and lamenting the fact that in spite of all the non profits, churches and social services working to aid the homeless in this city, it still seemed to boil down to someone asking me for change as I tried to make my way home.

I really dont have a point to make here. I hope that as we move into Holy Week and Passover,  everyone who reads this will find one organization that does good work, and donate to it. Be it the Red Cross, a church, a food bank or shelter. Maybe if we all did, it would accomplish something.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

We take a brief break from Politics...

To bring you this moment for The Arts. Ah... Culture!

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Let's Make the GOP Decide...

It’s time to give the GOP what they want. I’m serious. I am fed up with a Democratic congressional majority that is still functioning like an opposition minority. The time has come to use the power of majority to make the Republican Party and the Bush Administration put their money where their mouths are.

The War in Iraq:

The Bush Administration will get full funding for as long a surge as the President wants. On the following conditions:

- All the Bush Administration’s tax cuts are repealed and no new tax cuts for any of the upper tax brackets can be enacted so long as a single US Soldier is in Iraq

- No company or subsidiary of any company headquartered outside the United States is eligible for ANY government contracts.

- No future contracts may be awarded without competitive bid and approval by the House and Senate Armed Services Committees.

- All VA services and facilities must be fully funded. This must be done without increasing the federal budget deficit. Even if that means taxes must be increased to pay for it.

- “Don’t’ Ask, Don’t Tell” is repealed and LGBT Americans must be allowed to serve openly in the Armed Forces.

A Constitutional Amendment banning Gay Marriage:

The Bush Administration gets to give the far right the gift it has wanted to give for 6 years. Only, however on the following conditions:

- Gay and Lesbian Americans are able to claim the total cost per taxpayer of the over 1000 federal marriage benefits, the cost of marriage licensing, divorce and family courts, and child welfare services as a federal income tax deduction.

- Gays and Lesbians, as the only group now constitutionally barred from passing on social security survivor benefits will be the ONLY group given the option to invest their social security funds as they see fit.

- The creation of a Federal Divorce Tax

The Environment & Climate Change:

The Bush Administration gets it’s way on carbon emissions, oil drilling and mileage standards on cars. Only on the following conditions:

- Any new American vehicle that gets less than 20 miles per gallon is subject to annual federal tax of 25% of the original sticker price.

- Oil drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge must be conducted under the supervision of the World Wildlife Fund, and all oil profits derived from such drilling are subject to a new Federal Environmental Protection Tax of 20%

- Any American who buys a gas-electric hybrid can deduct 25% of the original sticker price annually from their federal taxes.

George W. Bush wants an open ended war? Fine. Then his “base” is going to have to pay their fair share of the bill for it. The GOP wants to use LGBT Americans as their political scapegoats? Fine. Then they will have to vote for a gay only tax cut. You can’t deny people equal citizenship and then tax them as equal citizens. George W. Bush wants to ignore climate change? Fine. Then his “base” will have to pay the real financial costs of that stupidity.

The Bush Administration and the Republicans have claimed for years that their agenda is good for America but have never been willing to step up and pay the resulting costs. Well now is their chance to prove the critics wrong. I say give President Bush and the GOP what they want, AND make them pay the real price for it. Then watch Republicans run from their own “agenda” faster than Karl Rove leaking a CIA Agent’s name.

It’s time we made this election debate one of “either/or”. Either you are for one America where we all have opportunity, security and equality or you are not . Either you believe all Americans are entitled to the rights and privileges enshrined in our constitution or you don’t. Either you believe that government is of the people, by the people and for the people, or you believe it to be a tool for the enrichment of a select view. Either you believe that mankind has a responsibility to be noble stewards of our natural world or you see the environment as a disposable asset to be exploited for short term gain at any cost.

It’s time we made this election to be what it truly is. A referendum on what kind of nation we are, and would wish to be.

Friday, March 02, 2007

Ann Coulter Proves why she is Queen of Crazy

Speaking today at the Conservative Political Action Conference, right-wing pundit Ann Coulter said: “I was going to have a few comments on the other Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards, but it turns out you have to go into rehab if you use the word ‘faggot,’ so I — so kind of an impasse, can’t really talk about Edwards.” Audience members said “ohhh” and then cheered

I would post a long detailed response to her/it but Henry Rollins does so much better! Enjoy!


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Wednesday, February 21, 2007

525,600 Minutes...

As part of the year long celebration of our restored building St. Mark's Lutheran Church here in San Francisco held a special screening of the motion picture musical "RENT".

What made it really cool was we showed the film in the church sanctuary, one of the actual locations used in the filming the movie. The funeral scene (reprise of "I will cover you ",) was filmed at St. Marks.

It was a great evening with the profits from admission going to the ELCA worldwide Hunger campaign.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

From Today's New York Times

Editorial
Not Supporting Our Troops
Published: February 15, 2007

How do you explain to the thousands of American troops now being poured into Baghdad that they will have to wait until the summer for the protective armor that could easily mean the difference between life and death?

It’s bad enough that these soldiers are being asked to risk their lives without President Bush demanding that Iraq’s leaders take any political risks that might give the military mission at least an outside chance of success. But according to an article in The Washington Post this week, at least some of the troops will be sent out in Humvees not yet equipped with FRAG Kit 5 armor. That’s an advanced version designed to reduce deaths from roadside bombs, which now account for about 70 percent of United States casualties in Iraq.

The more flexible materials used in the FRAG Kit 5 make it particularly helpful in containing the damage done by the especially deadly weapon the Bush administration is now most concerned about: those explosively formed penetrators that Washington accuses Iran of supplying to Shiite militias for use against American troops.

Older versions of Humvee armor are shattered by these penetrators, showering additional shrapnel in the direction of a Humvee’s occupants. The FRAG Kit 5 helps slow the incoming projectile and contains some of the shrapnel, giving the soldiers a better chance of survival.

Armor upgrades like this have become a feature of the Iraq war, as the Pentagon struggles to keep up with the constantly more powerful weapons and sophisticated tactics of the various militia and insurgent forces attacking American troops. But the Army, the National Guard and the Marine Corps have been caught constantly behind the curve.

Unglamorous and relatively inexpensive staples of ground combat, like armor, have never really captured the imagination and attention of military contractors and Pentagon budget-makers the way that “Top Gun” fighter jets, stealthy warships and “Star Wars” missile interceptors generally do.

The Army says it is now accelerating its production of FRAG Kit 5 armor and handing it out to Baghdad-bound units on a priority basis. But it acknowledges that the armor upgrading project will not be completed until summer. Right now, it’s February, and the new American drive in Baghdad has already begun.

That’s a shame, if not an outright scandal, because up-to-date armor is essential for saving American lives.

Congress Debates Iraq... Again.





“I'm just a bill.
Yes, I'm only a bill.
And I'm sitting here on Capitol Hill.
But I know I'll be a law someday…
… At least I hope and pray that I will,
But today I am still just a bill.”
- Schoolhouse Rock

A threat to morale of our troops? A source of aid and comfort to our enemies? An attack on our own soldiers and their families? What could the United States House of Representatives possibly be debating that would warrant those dire predictions from House Republicans? Is Congress debating an instant whole scale pullout from Iraq? No. Is the House urging that the United States negotiate with Osama Bin Laden? Nope. Then it must be a debate over impeaching the President of the United States right? No, not even close.

The House of Representatives is debating HR 157. A non binding bit of political theater that does nothing more than say that a simple majority of the members of the House feel that the current plan to send 20,000 plus additional troops to Iraq is a bad idea.

As my nephew would say …. Well Duh!

I watched the debate on CSPAN as did many Americans and what struck me was how both sides of the aisle in congress basically want the same thing. They want to blame the other side for Iraq. Democrats won the 2006 midterm elections on this issue. The American people issued a loud and clear vote of no confidence in President Bush’s approach to and leadership of the war in Iraq. The message was clear, the message was unambiguous and it was unmistakable. Get our troops out of Iraq.

Over 70% of the American people say they are opposed to proposed troop surge and the current strategy in Iraq. Yet Speaker Pelosi can’t bring a bill to the floor that simply says the President will have no money to send additional troops and he must start to redeploy the troops currently in Iraq.

Over the course of the debate on HR 157 I heard a parade of Republicans say that to have a debate in our legislative branch of government on the issue of this war emboldens our enemies. Yet for 5 years those same Republicans kept saying that the terrorists attacked us because they “hate our freedoms”. So now our freedoms are emboldening the terrorists so we better not exercise them? Which is it?

Over the course of the debate on HR 157 I heard the same parade of Republicans say you can’t support the troops if you don’t support their mission.

If the mission is wrong, if the mission is fatally flawed , if the mission is ill-conceived, poorly planned and failing then the only true way to support the troops is to oppose the mission. The only true way to support the troops is to change the mission.. To continue to support a failed strategy is to deliberately place our troops in harms way. It is to deliberately and knowingly sacrifice the lives of America’s bravest and best to avoid admitting a mistake.

To support the proposed troop surge in Iraq is to attack our troops and their families not support them.

But rather than stand up and say that, the congressional Democrats promptly danced around the issue. They want to stop the surge, but they don’t want to stop the money, because stopping the money can be spun by Republicans as cutting off support to our troops. And make no mistake, for the Republicans that is their holy grail. This debate is not about winning the “War on Terror”, it isn’t even about Iraq. For the GOP it is about campaign ads in 2008 where they can claim the Democrats didn’t support our troops. It is not about winning the war, it is about winning back a congressional majority.

And sadly, the Democrats fell for it. For the Democrats in Congress it isn’t about Iraq either. It is about a paralyzing fear of those potential GOP campaign ads in 2008. It is not about ending this absurd misbegotten war, it is about a fear of losing their congressional majority.

Never before in American history as there been such a pronounced absence of rational leadership in our federal government. Congress is fiddling while Iraq burns, fueled by a sectarian civil war and American lives. The President of The United States, who twice swore a oath on the bible to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States, has made his legacy one of ignoring it.

The time has come to stand up. The time has come to pull our government, our nation and our democracy back from the cliff that this Administration would lead us all off of, and which Congress would follow like lemmings to the sea. The time has come for leadership.

Then maybe we will get actual solutions, instead of just another bill.">

Saturday, February 03, 2007

It's Time To Stand Up.

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John Edwards at the winter DNC meeting.

Friday, January 26, 2007

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Presidential Campaign Spotlight

Over the next few weeks, I will be featuring introductions to the various declared candidates for President of The United States in 2008

I will feature both democrats and republicans but as there are more currently declared democrats we will start there. In the interest of full disclosure I will confess I currently have a candidate I support. Senator John Edwards, so we will begin there.