Friday, January 30, 2009

In Which We Haz a Sad

I think I retired from soccer tonight. After having worked reasonably hard in the gym for the past few months, dropped some poundage to make my creaky knees happy, and pumped up the cardio fitness... I embarrassed myself pretty well on the field after all that. Knees were stubbornly sore, feet forgot how to be quick, legs decided they didn't want to be fast, former decent touch on the ball apparently took off for Maui sometime last week without telling me. We play in the bottom division and I can't keep up any more. Not even with the girls.

So I am washed up at 41 after 32 years of playing, with about a ten year break there in there to go to grad school and have the kid and stuff. Highlights were a 3rd-place finish in the Indiana State Cup with my women's team when I was in high school (no high school girls' soccer in South Bend back then), a season and a half on the club team at Northwestern (no varsity soccer in the Big Ten except for Indiana and Michigan back then, and the verbal assurance that I could walk on at Notre Dame didn't come with any scholarship money attached), and a co-ed championship in Tucson in 2000 that saw my teammates vote me Player of the Match in the final game. Permanent souvenirs include missing cartilage in both knees and a patch of scar tissue on my left shin that will never go away.

The days of goofy tan lines are over. I am now relegated to 40 Year Old on an Elliptical Machine Land. Ah well.

Friday Fun Day in BoltLand

Snuggies frighten me. I'm glad somebody has take action.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Barry, Object Lesson. Object Lesson, Barry.

Okay, Mr. Bipartisanpants. You made a big deal about wanting to reach across the aisle and work with legislators from both parties to solve this giant economic disaster that both Democratic and Republican lawmakers contributed to, and that both Democratic and Republican voters are suffering from. That's great and noble and a wonderful example for our nations children and, apparently, fairly short-sighted.

You agreed to strip funding for Medicaid family planning from the package because it got John Boehner's purity-drenched undies in an uncomfortable knot (in fact, it gave him such a whopping case of the vapors that he totally accidentally said the program would cost 100 million dollars rather than actually saving 70 million dollars over the next ten years and providing comprehensive healthcare to thousands of women who can't afford it otherwise). You did this because both sides have to compromise and sacrifice certain things in the spirit of cooperation, right? And because poor women are so used to taking it in the teeth anyway, the Medicaid family planning was the easiest symbolic sacrifice to make in order to win Republican support for a stimulus plan that was guaranteed to pass the House anyway due to the Democratic majority, right? Right?
The vote was 244-188, with Republicans unanimous in opposition despite President Barack Obama's pleas for bipartisan support.

Oh. Well, that was totally worth it, then. It was also totally worth it to commit $275B to tax cuts and only $90B to infrastructure projects. Because it's far more important to give individuals $500 tax breaks that will most likely go either straight to a credit card bill or to China, via Wal-Mart, than to fix bridges that will, say, allow millions of people to drive over the Mississippi River for the next forty years without winding up sandwiched between cement and dirty water.

Yes, you signed the Ledbetter Act, and that's both way awesome and way overdue. That makes me happy, and I'm still happy you won. But for fuck's sake, stop giving away shit when--remember this?--you won, and when you already have the votes you need lined up, and when you know the other side will sit on their hands no matter how much woman- and minority- and gay-repressing stuff you cede to them in the name of "bipartisanship." They know they're losing the war, but they'll happily posture all day to wring every last concession out of you they can. You think you're being cooperative. They think you're being a pussy and are ready to jump all over that six ways to Sunday.

Bush never quite got the "fool me once" saying down. You need to make it your mantra.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

A Heart-rending Plea for Assistance

Can somebody please get my head on right as regards the Twitter? Seriously, am I supposed to let my followers know what I'm doing on a minute-by-minute basis, or just daily, or what? And is it bad that I forgot to check in for maybe three months after setting up the account? Am I obligated to pay attention to it now? I am flummoxed and do not enjoy the sensation one bit.

Well, Knock Me Over with a Feather, Volume Three Thousand and Four

I really need to get out for a hike so I can post some nice pictures and wax lyrical about the natural beauty of Arizona. Because otherwise I'm stuck writing about Cathi Herrod, who is neither, and it hurts me where I live.

A gay commitment ceremony planner in Phoenix has filed a proposal to create "civil partnerships" in Arizona that would entail all the legal rights and responsibilities of marriage but leave the magic word "marriage" to the straights. It's the usual list of visitation and inheritance rights, plus marriage-like requirements for financial support of spouse and children, as well as provisions for legal dissolutions mimicking divorce without calling it that. He even included a bit barring the partnership ceremonies from being performed during any religious service in order to calm fears among the more hysterical Christian set that their churches would be co-opted for leather bear weddings every Saturday in June (although that probably means the proposal automatically flunks constitutional muster, but I do appreciate the effort).

Cathi Herrod isn't biting.
Cathi Herrod, president of the Center for Arizona Policy, which backed both earlier ballot measures, said her group will oppose this plan to create what she called "marriage counterfeits."

"Marriage — and the benefits of marriage — should be reserved for one man and one woman," Herrod said.

So another day, another plea for special rights from the people who backed a constitutional amendment that was marketed as only being about protecting sacred sacred marriage from the homos, and goodness me of course isn't about taking anyone's rights away and certainly isn't going to keep anyone from hiring very expensive lawyers to cobble together some documents that don't cover every contingency and may or may not stand up in the face of opposition from conservative ICU nurses or distant Baptist relatives you met once who are more entitled to your property after you die than is your partner of thirty years. Of course it's not about that.

Except, of course, when it is.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Required Viewing for Tonight

Blago's peeps inexplicably booked him to appear on Maddow tonight (1/27/09); apparently they are not familiar with the good doctor's Enhanced History Reenactment Event explaining the early stages of the pay-to-play scandal. Or with last night's summary of Helmet-hair's whirlwind media tour yesterday.

Well, this should be fun.

More Fun In Ex-Catholicdom

Another day, another couple of flights of stairs further down into irrelevance for the Holy Church.

These things do not upset me any more, nor do they surprise me. With each successive outburst, be it a Vatican flunky blaming birth control-spiked female urine for male impotence or the pope haughtily calling global gag rule-rescinding President Obama arrogant, the layers are peeled back just a little bit more on true nature and the lie is given to protestations about the dignity of individuals.

The most recent dust-up came courtesy of an excommunicated British priest reinstated over the weekend by Papa Ratzi; the Brit and three others had been booted for being ordained by some crazy-ass ultraconservative archbishop who broke away from the church in '69 because he didn't like the changes brought about by Vatican II. One of these changes was presented in an encyclical that said Catholics had to be nice to Jews and stop calling them Christ-killers and stuff. The Brit, one Bishop Richard Williamson, apparently has troubles with this one, given his propensity for Holocaust denial (eh, only a couple thousand Jews were killed, and none of them gassed, and if any stray ones did happen to be gassed it totally wasn't Hitler's idea) and Jewish-Masonic conspiracy theories (they started the first two world wars and are trying to start the third one right now, which by the way they kicked off by blowing up the World Trade Center in a controlled demolition).

The Vatican officially cleared its throat yesterday after that little awk-ward! moment and reminded the world that the former Hitlerjugend pope does not have an anti-Semitic bone in his body and expects the rest of the church, including Bishop Williamson, to follow suit. Williamson's still back on the roster, though, without having to sit out any games for conduct violating team rules.

But is there more? Oh, of course there's more. The Vatican only got its Prada panties in a wad over Williamson's reams of anti-Semitic comments. His anti-gay comments? They're giggling right along. Way back in '97, Williamson wrote a piece for the Saint Pius X Society newsletter--we've talked about this little group of nutters before--about homosexuality. Apparently feeling no compunction to parrot the usual lines about respecting the dignity of all God's children, he found that line between dignity and deprecation which is usually demarcated by gay=pedophile and vaulted right over it with miles to spare.
However, God did not wait for the founding of the Catholic Church to instill in men the horror of this sin, but he implanted in the human nature of all of us, unless or until we corrupt it, an instinct of violent repugnance for this particular sin, comparable to our instinctive repugnance for other misuses of our human frame, such as coprophagy.

Therefore what is "innate", or in-born, in human nature concerning homosexuality is a violent repugnance.

He could have stopped there, really, with his poo argument wrapped up in at least the veneer of polite society with the standard detached scholarly language and ecclesiastical syntax of all pastoral documents, whether they come from the pope or the parish priest or a schismatic bishop. But instead, he bizarrely veered off into what I can only describe as the contra argument presented in gayface.

"Oh, but Our Lord had chawity,(unlike thumwun we know who wath tho nathty to Pwintheth Di!). Our Lord loved thinnerth, and faggotth, and tho thould we!!"

Awesome. At first I thought he was doing Princess Bride for some unfathomable reason, but no, he's lisping. Right there in the middle of his very grave and dignified statement. Faggotth? Really? Did the Vatican repudiate any of these statements? Even the bit about coprophagy (seriously?), for fuck's sake? Um, no. No, the Vatican did not.

And for that I say thank you. Really, thank you. Thanks for showing your true colors. Don't even try to brush this guy under the rug or yammer about him not really representing the church's teaching about the very subtle difference between calling a person's innate nature repugnantly ticket-to-hell stamping and calling the person himself repugnant and hellbound. And don't say he was only mincing and lisping for effect while he was still in his state of schism and therefore not really Catholic. You own this bastard part and parcel for as long as you keep him, and the lack of an official wrist-slap rebuke that the church loves and respects all human beings, even the faggotth, speaks volumes. It's nothing we didn't already know, but it never hurts to be reminded.

So keep it up, Rich and Ratzi. Keep showing yourselves to the sun.

More, of course, at the Blend and Box Turtle Bulletin.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Actions Louder than Words

Dismayed though I may be to come to the conclusion that Hopey let his politician's instincts shepherd the words that fell out of his mouth during the campaign (particularly the fluffy part of the herd including God, is, in, the, and mix), I can get over it pretty quick if the quality of printed words he signs his name under continues to be this high.

Support for the LGBT Community

"While we have come a long way since the Stonewall riots in 1969, we still have a lot of work to do. Too often, the issue of LGBT rights is exploited by those seeking to divide us. But at its core, this issue is about who we are as Americans. It's about whether this nation is going to live up to its founding promise of equality by treating all its citizens with dignity and respect."

-- Barack Obama, June 1, 2007

  • Expand Hate Crimes Statutes: In 2004, crimes against LGBT Americans constituted the third-highest category of hate crime reported and made up more than 15 percent of such crimes. President Obama cosponsored legislation that would expand federal jurisdiction to include violent hate crimes perpetrated because of race, color, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, gender identity, or physical disability. As a state senator, President Obama passed tough legislation that made hate crimes and conspiracy to commit them against the law.
  • Fight Workplace Discrimination: President Obama supports the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, and believes that our anti-discrimination employment laws should be expanded to include sexual orientation and gender identity. While an increasing number of employers have extended benefits to their employees' domestic partners, discrimination based on sexual orientation in the workplace occurs with no federal legal remedy. The President also sponsored legislation in the Illinois State Senate that would ban employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.
  • Support Full Civil Unions and Federal Rights for LGBT Couples: President Obama supports full civil unions that give same-sex couples legal rights and privileges equal to those of married couples. Obama also believes we need to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act and enact legislation that would ensure that the 1,100+ federal legal rights and benefits currently provided on the basis of marital status are extended to same-sex couples in civil unions and other legally-recognized unions. These rights and benefits include the right to assist a loved one in times of emergency, the right to equal health insurance and other employment benefits, and property rights.
  • Oppose a Constitutional Ban on Same-Sex Marriage: President Obama voted against the Federal Marriage Amendment in 2006 which would have defined marriage as between a man and a woman and prevented judicial extension of marriage-like rights to same-sex or other unmarried couples.
  • Repeal Don't Ask-Don't Tell: President Obama agrees with former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff John Shalikashvili and other military experts that we need to repeal the "don't ask, don't tell" policy. The key test for military service should be patriotism, a sense of duty, and a willingness to serve. Discrimination should be prohibited. The U.S. government has spent millions of dollars replacing troops kicked out of the military because of their sexual orientation. Additionally, more than 300 language experts have been fired under this policy, including more than 50 who are fluent in Arabic. The President will work with military leaders to repeal the current policy and ensure it helps accomplish our national defense goals.
  • Expand Adoption Rights: President Obama believes that we must ensure adoption rights for all couples and individuals, regardless of their sexual orientation. He thinks that a child will benefit from a healthy and loving home, whether the parents are gay or not.
  • Promote AIDS Prevention: In the first year of his presidency, President Obama will develop and begin to implement a comprehensive national HIV/AIDS strategy that includes all federal agencies. The strategy will be designed to reduce HIV infections, increase access to care and reduce HIV-related health disparities. The President will support common sense approaches including age-appropriate sex education that includes information about contraception, combating infection within our prison population through education and contraception, and distributing contraceptives through our public health system. The President also supports lifting the federal ban on needle exchange, which could dramatically reduce rates of infection among drug users. President Obama has also been willing to confront the stigma -- too often tied to homophobia -- that continues to surround HIV/AIDS.
  • Empower Women to Prevent HIV/AIDS: In the United States, the percentage of women diagnosed with AIDS has quadrupled over the last 20 years. Today, women account for more than one quarter of all new HIV/AIDS diagnoses. President Obama introduced the Microbicide Development Act, which will accelerate the development of products that empower women in the battle against AIDS. Microbicides are a class of products currently under development that women apply topically to prevent transmission of HIV and other infections.

The parts on prosecuting voter suppression and eliminating drug sentencing disparities are nice too. As well as the whole thing about eliminating racial profiling.

And yesterday, Day One, also brought us the pay freeze for senior White House staff and strict regulation of lobbyists (even as the Bush administration disperses to top-dollar jobs within the industries they had allegedly been regulating), and the promise of Guantanamo closing. Things are, dare I say, looking up.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Red Stars Draft Part... Four?

Tempting as it is to play Calibrate That Gaydar with the Chicago Red Stars' roster, I will content myself with noticing that they drafted one Megan Rapinoe out of Portland last Friday, and also that she got rid of that awful fauxhawk she was sporting before the college season. Now if she can avoid blowing her ACL for a third time, the Stars may be pretty charmed indeed.

No word on what this means for the Chicago-Washington rivalry, or if it has inspired a certain member of the Freedom to crank up her rehab schedule a bit.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Inauguration Day Occasional Liveblogging

7:57 (Tucson time): The flag is bungeed to the mailbox at home--lesbian resourcefulness at its best--and the coffee is brewing in the office. We have donuts. We are watching and waiting.

Michelle just handed a beribboned box--chocolates? cow print lingerie for Dallas?--to Laura, and now they're heading inside the White House for their own coffee. Not sure about the pale gold dress; I guess it's appropriately solemn and looks like it's warm enough to withstand a dash from limo to door without too much discomfort. Holding out hope that she'll change into something funner and more royal blue for the balls.

Jesus, look at all those people. My toes would be falling off at this point if I were out there. But it's an awesome sight and I hope things stay friendly and nobody gets stupid. Anticipating a stirring call to service in Obama's speech, and enough calls to unity and country to make even the bitterest heart swell with something approaching optimism. Bring it, Hopey.

8:22: I want a donut.

8:39: I should have known better than to get excited about Rachel co-anchoring MSNBC's coverage as long as Chris Matthews is anywhere near a microphone. He's talking over everyone, and I have yet to get a visual of the good doctor. Is she wearing a hat with ear flaps? That would be too adorable for words.

Oh, there's Ted Kennedy, in--as Tweety says--a Don Corleone hat. The man had part of brain hacked out, for chrissakes, let him be.

The White House doors have opened, so coffee must be over. Annnnd here come... Lynn Cheney and Jill Biden. Jill's curiously not sporting duct tape over her mouth, so coffee was probably every bit as entertaining as I suspected it would be.

8:43: John Kerry comes out in a gaggle of cowboys. I'm confused. And there's the Cheney lesbian. Now the sentries are saluting but no one's coming out. Awkward! Oh, now here comes Cheneybot on Wheels. Has anybody checked that cane he's holding across his knees? Not that Obama needs to worry; he'll probably accidentally plug Lieberman instead.

Ah, here come the boys. Oh, they're riding together. Awkward times two!

9:12: Mama Biden's in a wheelchair, but looks like she's ready to hop out. Olbermann says Bush 41 is "walking old." Concur. Bar hasn't changed a bit, which may be the singular advantage to looking like you're eighty throughout your sixties and seventies. Here are the Carters, looking good. Now Clintons. Love the color of Hilary's coat, and thank god the woman was sensible enough to wear pants on a cold-ass day.

9:21: Ooh, there's the Lincoln bible. It's big. Good thing Michelle's an athletic woman.

And there are the moving vans. Slightly less inspiring.

Squeeeee! Here come the girls! Sasha is rocking that orange scarf and mittnes. Again, love the color of Malia's coat. Do you sense a pattern here?

9:29: Look at all those people. Unreal.

Here come Michelle and Jo.

Tweety needs to STFU already. Oh, is Rachel still there? The boys actually pause long enough for her to both start and finish a sentence. I still have not seen whether my earflapped hat fantasy is coming true.

Here comes Bush. The crowd has burst into Na Na Hey Hey Goodbye, and the Marine band promptly strikes up a jaunty cover fire tune. Oh dear. It might be just people in the vicinity of the MSNBC mikes several hundred yards from the stage. Huh. Not sure if I should say funny as hell but not quite as classy as we would like, or not quite as classy as we would like but funny as hell.

Oh, here is the official Bush and Cheney introduction, accompanied by Boehner and some other douchebag. The tepidness of the applause is overwhelming, although MSNBC wisely switched to mikes on the stage rather than those in the midst of the rabble.

9:37: Biden. Feinstein and Pelosi. Obama coolly strolling through the corridor.

Oh, is Eugene Robinson still here? He manages to slide a word in edgewise past the Matthews/Olbermann goalies.

We switch to NPR out of frustration over the MSNBC audio freezing up. And hear an in-depth discussion of how many people are wearing purple. And red. And blue. And coats. And hats. WTF?

And here comes the man. Cool as a fucking cucumber as the bezillion people in the crowd go nuts.

10:26: Chief Justice Roberts mangles the oath, inevitably condemning us to four years of wingnuts howling that Hussein isn't really the president because he didn't recite the words required by the Constitution, but Obama follows up with a good speech. Nice shout-out to the atheists, major mad props for the shout-out to the Constitution, in whatever distant corner it's been cowering and whimpering for the last eight years, mush-appreciated reminder of that whole equality and justice thing.

Oh, and Rick Warren? Hypocrisy, ur nailing it egzactly. And I'm sure Jesus enjoyed you sharing with the crowd all the little pet names you have for him.

I'm not feeling the poem, but that's okay.

And I have no idea what Joseph Lowery is saying, but the cadence is nice. Oh, now I'm getting it. Maybe his mouth was cold at the beginning; lord knows I have trouble talking when my face is frozen. Now he's rhyming. Amen!

Now I want to watch the parade, and hope the video feed catches up a little. Are the shriners going to be there? It ain't a parade without a fez.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Cheneybot 2000 Initiates Self-Destruct Sequence

Dick Cheney will be attending the Inauguration in a wheelchair tomorrow, allegedly because he pulled a muscle in his back while moving his stuff out of the bunker. Sympathetic as I should be to the whole pulled back muscle idea, I suspect that his robo-heart only functions while he is still officially in power, and they don't want it to be too obvious when he slumps over at "so help me God."


My Facebook status says I'm sitting back and watching for a while, which was my personal admonition to self to absorb and think rather than scurrying off to blog each new thing rubbing me wrong when all I want is to join in the giddiness over the inauguration.

Uh, no, that didn't exactly last very long.

Rick Warren is America's PastorTM and it's high time I accepted it. The token bone tossed to the gay folk who got their knickers in a twist when the high-profile invocation gig was handed to a vocal homophobe turned out to have less meat on it than the Thanksgiving wishbone. Bishop Gene Robinson got the real opening invocation, we were assured, you know, because it happened first and was the big We Are One populist concert at the foot of Abe Lincoln's statue yesterday, and of course Team Obama had planned that invite way before anyone even knew Rick Warren was going to get center stage, so shush and be happy you're in the big tent. Except that nobody watching TV heard Bishop Robinson's invocation, because HBO didn't broadcast it. And no more than a couple dozen people at the Lincoln Memorial heard it either, because the sound system got shut off right before he began and only got turned back on in time for everyone to hear "Amen." And today we find out that the decision to schedule Robinson just before HBO's official start of coverage came not from HBO but from the Obama team.

And the keynote address for the MLK Day service at Ebenzer Baptist in Atlanta? Delivered by Rick Warren. Because nothing says equality like a guy who fights to deny certain peoples' civil rights.

Guess it's time to get over it. Rick Warren wins. Because working to eliminate poverty (good) trumps supporting African pastors who encourage murdering suspected witches (bad), because claiming to respectfully disagree about Biblical morality (good) trumps equating gay marriage to incest (bad). Complaining that Gene Robinson was rendered silent and invisible is the height of unappreciativeness because he got invited in the first place, and that should be more than enough. We Are One, unless we're gay, in which case we need to stop all the fucking whining, because apparently you're allowed to call dibs on discrimination, and when we bark back it makes us the bigots.

The Inauguration is about so much more. I want it to be about so much more, but how many times are we supposed to hold our noses and look the other way because we can find enough good to trump the bad that keeps tumbling out into plain view? It didn't need to happen this way, and that's the part that bothers me the most and tempers my enthusiasm, my hope, for what comes next.

Tomorrow I'll celebrate the exit of the most corrupt and destructive adminstration in American history. As for the rest, well, I'll be sitting back to watch.

Additional and far more eloquent commentary here, here, here, and here.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Mail, We Get Mail

If you so much as sent out a positive vibe about Barack Obama during the campaign, you probably landed on the mailing list, and you probably got the same e-mail I did this morning:

Never having been one to be rude, I promptly replied.

What am I doing tomorrow? I will be, for roughly the 14th consecutive day, wondering what the hell you guys were thinking when you invited Rick "Hitler is My Role Model and African Pastors Who Advocate Witch Hunts and the Executions of Gays Are My Best Buds" Warren to give the invocation.

Why, what are you doing?

They may have been looking for something more along the lines of signing up for the Renew America Together project, but you can never be too sure about these things.

Suddenly Summer Sunday

Barely two weeks past Epiphany and not only is it NO MORE HAPPY CHRISTMAS in Tucson, but no more winter as well. We have vaulted directly into a long succession of what would be perfect Chicago June days, 73 degrees, bright blue skies, and so much sunshine that the shady side of the street is very inviting, but with enough of a breeze to make it okay if you can't marshal the energy to stroll over there. The burgers-on-the-grill scents wafting out of Bob Dobbs' Bears and Cubs neon-signed windows, paired with the occasional whiff of cigarettes from the patio completed the illusion.

Then the prickly pear pads I had to dodge in order to continue down the sidewalk brought me back to the desert. Well, that and the hoots coming from the Cardinals bandwagon jumpers watching the game at the bar and in many houses I passed on the way home.

The flock of lesser goldfinches has returned to our yard, along with the house finches and white-crowned sparrows. Gila woodpeckers have polished off the suet cake in the feeder my dad made for us, and continue to squawk from all points of the yard and surrounding trees. The hummingbirds perched in the mesquite squeak their hope for new sugar water. Spring has sprung, calling me up to the trails in the Catalinas while water's still running. It finally cracked 0 in Chicago yesterday. This isn't a bad place to be in January.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

In Which Rick Warren Self-Godwinizes

You probably saw this already, but it bears repeating. Rick Warren plans to take over the world for Jesus using the model of that great mid-20th century motivational speaker. No, not FDR. No, no, not Churchill either. JFK? Nope. No, goofball, he's invoking the hands-down best organizer and mover of men (and women and children and old folks and Gypsies and homos and, oh yes, Jews) the world has ever seen.

He invoked Hitler.

Yes, Rick Warren wants people to come to Jesus with the same fervor the brown-shirted kids of 1940s Germany brought to the Hitlerjugend. Because that certainly ended well for lots of people.

Watching this fucktard share the podium with Barack Obama on Tuesday was going to make me want to puke enough the way things were. Now it's worse. Is Obama going to shake his hand? Bro-hug him? There are factions you really do want to reach out to, and then there are factions you don't want to touch with a goddamn fifty-foot pole. A guy who advocates mindless, conscience-free blind obedience and loyalty is one of those. And I don't give a flying fuck if Warren claims he was only lauding the brownies' belief in and dedication to their cause and their leader, somehow in cold dissociation from the havoc they wreaked and carnage they wrought. Because you can't divorce anything about the Nazis (not the efficiency, not the BDSM chic, not the choreography, nothing) from the whole picture just to have a convenient example to reference.

Especially not when both your organizations are known at least in part for, shall we say, less than inclusive policies toward Jews and gays.

Sigh. Hey, at least Gene Robinson got the B-team gig at the Lincoln Memorial.

Random Saturday Bits

Blogging whilst on painkillers sounds very appealing right about now, but since I have none I will settle for blogging whilst propped up on a heating pad and wondering exactly how many oxycontin a body could theoretically take before going Limbaugh. Because currently it feels like my left trapezius has ripped itself away from my spine and is currently in negotiations with the deltoid and triceps to blow this cowtown and hop the next train for LA. Who knew some innocent pushups could derail things so badly? Am I really that old? Fuck.

Airplane disasters! Speaking of prescription knockout pills, I am deathly afraid of flying, so the images of the plane floating in the Hudson with a ferry sidling up to it saying o hai yur not supposed to be in teh water gave me a serious case of the willies. I can pull it together enough, though, to roll my eyes at the inevitable yowling about miracles and angels and God being the co-pilot and say well, can't definitively go either way on the God/angel thing due to their convenient inherent invisibility, but what we can say with 100% confidence is that what they did have on a very well-designed and built aircraft was a pilot with Air Force fighter experience, a side venture teaching aviation emergency response and survival, and oh yeah glider training, and an actual corporeal co-pilot who hopped into the 36-degree water to retrieve life vests for passengers and flight attendants to organized the evacuation and passengers who followed instructions and helped each other. They had the best of humanity all rolled up into one incident. Oh, and there wasn't any ice on the river or barges in the way, so I guess if you're looking for something to pin on divine intervention you can choose that over luck, but whatevs. Did I mention I hate to fly? If I gotta do it, I hope that pilot or one of his students is driving my big sky bus.

Inauguration Mania! Well, sure. I'll watch it at work and then have a few people over for dinner that night, and will try to keep my creeping bitterness at bay by repeating it's not McCain it's not McCain over and over if that's what it takes to scrub the image of Rick Warren from my brain. And since I can't make it to DC for any of the official Inauguration Gay Orgies, does anyone know where the Tucson one is going to be held? You know, just in case my dinner party starts to drag.

Facebook craziness! Many people I went to college with all discovered Facebook in the past month, maybe six weeks, which means it's been one big weird timewarp since then of catching up, looking at pictures, and wondering how so many of these people manage to do things like ski Whistler and fish Barbados when I can barely get my bills paid on time. Be that as it may, there still needs to be some oh-so-clever word coined to describe the weird little rush you get when long-lost friends suddenly pop up again and want to send you a Martian or potted plant or some other damn thing, and they don't look a day older than when you were drunk-ass 22-year-olds stumbling up the stairs to the el platform together. Except that they do, because you do too.

Back hurts! A lot! Diving into the Tiger Balm momentarily!

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Gene Robinson, Full of Grace

Maddow got an exclusive with Bishop Gene Robinson last night about his invitation to give the kickoff invocation for Inauguration Week, and the bishop demonstrated absolute grace and congeniality. I think I would have preferred a little sound and fury to go along with it, since it ended up signifying nothing anyway.

Robinson has been a semi-official advisor to the Obama team for a while now, and, based on what he said in the interview, he certainly has a more active role with Obama than Rick Warren does, so it's not surprising that he didn't ripple the waters very much. I have to admit disappointment in his dodge of Rachel's question about Obama's apparent flip from a 1996 statement that he fully supports marriage equality and would fight any efforts to oppose the same, choosing instead to say that he feels Obama is committed to equal rights for all Americans--when his unequivocal opposition to gay marriage on religious grounds during the campaign really seems to indicate something different.

The bishop is happy and appears to be optimistic. I get the sense that he takes the don't tell lies commandment more seriously than some of his more vocal evangelical brethren, but then again he probably takes the whole forgive their trespasses against us thing seriously too, so I do not know if his lack of rancor regarding the Warren invitation truly reflects a big picture that is better than I think or if it reflects a Christian life the way it's actually supposed to be lived re: bein' all nice and stuff.

I am certain that Rachel should not wear that shade of green, though, at least not in combination with reflective neck makeup.

And Now, a Soccer Note

Were I the general manager of the Chicago Red Stars, Chicago's entry in the upcoming Women's Professional Soccer League, I might be a tad bit tweaked at Kate Markgraf. Markgraf has been an anchor in the central defense for the national team for the past few years, compensating for sub-par speed and more physical geekiness than you might expect from a national-level player with excellent positioning and reading of the game. The Red Stars tabbed her as one of their three picks in the national team allocation, which was designed with the dual purposes of acquiring the players with the top skills and best potential for being a fan draw, particularly for season-ticket buyers. Markgraf fit the bill because of her value as a mentor for up-and-coming defenders, even if her own field impact is waning with age, but mostly because of her engaging if geeky personality and Notre Dame pedigree, which was calculated to pull dozens, and possibly legions, of loyal Chicago-area Domers into the stands at Toyota Park.

What could go wrong with that? Oh, this. The Stars announced on Saturday that Markgraf will miss the entire 2009 season because she's pregnant. Wait. Let's reword that for maximum impact. Markgraf will miss the entire inaugural, make-or-break, chip-on-the-shoulder, put-up-or-shut-up season of pro futbol feminino's last realistic shot at existence. Were I Emma Hayes, I would not be so distressed at losing the increasingly lead-footed Markgraf in the back--she's not going to make or break either the team or the league, and they do have US Player of the Year Carli Lloyd on the roster--but I would be mighty annoyed that I pissed away my second pick on a player who wasn't committed enough to the team or new league to, I don't know, ensure she'd be able to play.

Maybe the pending baby was unplanned. That part's nobody's business, but still, a second-chance league that hasn't even gotten out of the gates yet should write a no-pregnancy clause into every big-name player's contract. At least for the first year. NuvaRings all round!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Cognitive Dissonance, Part Two Million

There are parts of Indiana I absolutely love, places my heart goes back to over and over again: South Bend, where I spent the majority of my adolescence, and McCormick's Creek, a state park near Bloomington where I spent some of the best individual weeks of my life.

Indiana, the nice part.

You can keep the rest of the state.

Opponents of same-sex marriage said today that they would try again to amend Indiana’s constitution to prohibit gay unions, this time with a re-worded amendment they hope will answer critics’ concerns.

In previous legislative sessions, the proposed amendment stated: “Marriage in Indiana consists only of the union of one man and one woman. This constitution or any other Indiana law may not be construed to require that the marital status or the legal incidents of marriage be conferred upon unmarried couples or groups.

Turner said that the changed language is meant to be clearer. It would not bar domestic partnerships, he said, but would bar civil unions.

It is uncertain whether the measure will make it out of the legislature and onto the ballot, since several key legislators--unlike their colleagues in Arizona--understand that marriage equality is already banned by statute, making an amendment redundant. The proposed amendment's biggest obstacle is one Patrick Bauer, D-South Bend, the speaker of the Indiana House. I went to school at various times with two different guys named Patrick Bauer, but I don't think either is this guy. In any event, I'm at least gratified to see a South Bend Democrat stand up for what's right.

I am not the least bit gratified to hear Tony Perkins shilling for the amendment on behalf of the Indiana Family Research Institute, as reported over on the Blend. This is the organization, remember, that had Tony Dungy shilling for contributions at a protect-marriage-dinner shortly after the Colts won the Super Bowl, and which is repeating the lie that the amendment is only about sacred holy fucking matrimony, not not not civil unions. Despite both of the amendment's sponsors in the state legislature clearly stating that civil unions are in their sights as well.

Side note: fundamentalist Christian apologists argue that the commandment forbidding false witness is not, after all, an injunction against lying in general, but specifically directed at witnesses giving false testimony in legal proceedings against other Hebrews. So modern Christians are free to lie, lie, lie their pants off when it's convenient for stomping on gay folks, a giant get out of jail free card, immunity in the big Jesus elimination challenge they're more than happy to nominate us for.

Too much Top Chef, Boltgirl? Possibly.

Whatevs. The callus is too thick for these things to sting much any more. McCormick's Creek and the Grotto at Notre Dame still call my heart. My head, meanwhile, says meh, you still live in Arizona.

Mysteries of the Intertubes

I confess to occasionally checking the Sitemeter, with "occasionally" here of course meaning "sometimes on an hourly basis." We take our validation where we can get it and are not sorry. Maybe a little ashamed, but not much.

Anyway. I apparently have a reader from Rwanda. Interesting! But who got here by searching "erotic stories." Do not want to know!

Monday, January 12, 2009

In Which We Are a Lame-Ass Excuse for a Semi-Political Blogger

I did not watch or listen to W's last presser today, because this close to the end of the nightmare I did not want to be spurred to grind what's left of my nubbin teeth by the sound of that voice or whatever random words it was saying. One of my co-workers gave it a gallant effort but had to stop after the "misunderestimated" intro--W apparently has been watching a little too much Frank Caliendo; at least he didn't feel compelled to fill the uncomfortable, laughterless silence that followed with a heh heh heh. Jon Stewart probably had a field day. Will check tomorrow.

Oh, I was very gratified to hear Ken Blackwell explain that anybody can get over teh gay if they just try hard enough.
The answer is that I've never had to make the choice because I've never had the urge to be other than a heterosexual, but if in fact I had the urge to be something else I could have in fact suppressed that urge.

Neato! As I remarked to Top!Secret G-woman this evening, this is like me never having had the urge to eat a kalamata olive, but being totally sure I could resist one if the temptation had ever arisen. Just like I could completely suppress the urge to write with my left hand or go to the Talladega 600. Or the urge to breathe water. Thanks for the insight, Ken!

And with that, I'm off to bed.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Oh, for the Fuck of Fuck

The Daily Star's cartoonist earns his salary, I guess, by pissing off half the people half the time. This morning appears to be my turn.

I wrote a letter in response, and am waiting breathless by the e-mail to see if they'll print it.

I am very disappointed to see Fitz (1/8/09) fall prey to the meme that having a negative reaction to discrimination against gay people is in itself bigotry, or that liberals are the most intolerant people in the world because they won't play along with other people's attempts to enshrine into civil law their aversion to people different from themselves. I completely disagree with the beliefs of people who voted for Prop 102 in Arizona and Prop 8 in California, but I do not, as a result, work tirelessly to strip them of certain civil rights. If I am "bigoted" against those who decided to legally declare me a second-class citizen (and who would gladly return to the days when it was legal to fire me or evict me) simply because of who I happened to fall in love with, I suppose I'm also bigoted against the KKK and Holocaust deniers.


Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Cathi Herrod Will Not Go Away

Not content to have led the charge on Prop 102 (which enshrines second-class citizenship as the sole birthright of Arizona's queer population) Ms. Cathi Herrod, Arizona's chief Harpy-in-Residence, has just snicked a new notch on the right side of her belt with Arizona's approval of an official anti-abortion license plate after a nine-year fight.
The plates will feature a drawing of a young boy and a young girl in a two-inch box on the left side, with the words "choose life" along the bottom, where regular plates now have the motto of "Grand Canyon State."

Aside from allowing motorists to publicize their views, the arrangement also has financial benefits. Out of the additional $25 the state charges for special plates, $17 goes to the sponsoring organization.

"Proceeds from these licenses will support basically providing alternatives to abortion and promoting life," Herrod said, predicting her organization will be able to sell thousands of the plates.

The proceeds will go to the Arizona Life Coalition, which means they will be distributed among member organizations such as Crisis Pregnancy Centers of Tucson and Phoenix as well as Herrod's own Center for Arizona Policy. Despite the assertion by the AZ Life Coalition that disseminating "accurate information" is required by member organizations, rest assured that the money that will now be funneled to them with the full cooperation and facilitation of the state will help promote the ongoing message that abortion always causes psychological harm to the woman, imperils her future fertility and the health of any future children she might birth, as well as supporting Christian evangelizing of panicked women who happen to find the Crisis Pregnancy Center first in the phone book.

My only solace is that the wording on the plate, "Choose Life," implies--thoroughly inadvertently, I'm sure--that choice should still be the major component of the process, rather than compulsory full-term birth.

The natural response would be to push for a plate reading "Preserve Reproductive Choice," but the state commission created to approve special plates is ready to commit institutional suicide rather than risk being asked to approved the next special-interest plate that comes down the pike--this approval took a federal appeals court judge to force them to wield the rubber stamp--so this may be the last special plate Arizona gets. And that makes Cathi Herrod very happy.

Herrod said the legal fight to get the plates was worth it. "The 'choose life' message affirms the value of every human life," she said. Herrod said that message will "absolutely have a positive impact" on those who see the plates.

You're right about that, Cathi. Seeing one of those plates will absolutely make me want to impact the driver's face with my fist. How awesome would it be if the first one I see is on your car? Answer? It would be totes awesome, at least for one of us.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Obama Appointment Inside Analysis: Anonymous Source Edition

We can giggle nervously and uncomfortably about Obama's mulling CNN's very own Sanjay Gupta for Surgeon General--at least he hasn't gunned anyone down, unlike Tucson's very own Richard Carmona--but two done-deal appointments (Elena Kagan and Dawn Johnsen) are ones we can get behind and be happy about it. So says a friend with direct experience. From the e-mail machine:
I think that Elena Kagan as SG and Dawn Johnsen as head of the Office of Legal Counsel are both *excellent* picks. Kagan is almost literally universally admired on the left and right. She has had a stellar career and has really done wonders at Harvard (inc. recruiting top conservative law profs to the school). That she doesn't have appellate experience is not a big deal - other SGs have lacked it, and the key to the job is brilliant legal thinking and she's got that. It's of course possible she won't be the best at oral argument, but she'll probably do fine.

It will be hard for anyone to improve upon Paul Clement, the SG for most of the Bush years, who was truly an over-the-top brilliant amazing SG, probably the best appellate advocate ever in that spot*, but falling short of that is no shame. Anyway, while I guess she's liberal, I don't think that's shown up much in her work over the years, it's not a particular calling card of hers like it would be with, say, a Laurence Tribe or something, so it would be wrong for people to focus much on that. For 98% of cases, there's no difference between a conservative administration and a liberal one. The other 2%'s a bitch, but that's the way it goes, and it's Obama's call, not hers, which way the case will be argued (but obvs she has significant input into strategy on such a case). My Federalist Society colleague took a class from her at Harvard and said "she is a rock star."

As for Johnsen, I first came across her when I worked on the Violence Against Women Act. Johnsen was legal director of NARAL at that time so she was in on lots of lobbying and strategy sessions and I remember her well from that. I couldn't always keep up with the legal discussions over the bill at that time since it was before law school, but she was one of the few people who really stood out to me then for her astuteness and quick-mindedness and general brilliance. I've kinda followed her work over the years because of that connection, though mostly over the past few years that's meant seeing her on the Lehrer Report talking about executive power (and abuses thereof) under Bush, and she's been equally impressive on that front as on the feminist front. She worked at OLC long ago so she really knows that office, so I think it's a very good pick, and potentially the most important one he can make at DOJ. Any smart person can be SG -- I would've preferred Kathleen Sullivan over Kagan, but Kagan's a great choice -- but at OLC you really need someone who's truly brilliant for that office to work the way it's designed to (OLC's job is basically to set limits for the president, to know when to tell him NO, so you need a really good thinker to be able to set those boundaries properly, which did not happen under Bush b/c it was so politicized).

Also, there had been a lot of talk about Kagan maybe being Obama's first pick for Supreme Court justice. But by having her as SG, I think that goes out the window- I don't think he'd elevate her within a year or two, which is when the next opening's likely to occur. I think she'd reasonably have to be SG for longer than that. So I think this means that his first pick will be a minority, and I'm pretty sure he wants to appoint the first Latino to the court, which means Sonia Sotomayor's (brilliant 2d Cir judge who I think is pretty well-respected on both sides of the aisle) stock just shot up significantly. Also, IIRC, Sotomayor was put on the federal bench (district court) by Bush 1, then elevated by Clinton, so she's an even safer bet for Obama. I don't know whether she's been involved in any controversial decisions in the 2d Circuit that people could arguably characterize as ideological. Nothing jumps out at me.

* As a minor example of his brilliance, Clement never brought anything with him when arguing before the Supreme Court. He just went up to the podium and held court, as it were. Some arguments at lower courts are certainly doable without notes, but at the Supreme Court??? Dude, I love that guy - the best in the business. Extremely conservative, but still I can't think of anything that should keep him from the Supreme Court.

There was also an interesting tidbit at the end of the e-mail hinting at a rumor my source will not commit to characterizing as either wild or not so wild, that the vaunted Mediterranean diet may not be so heart-healthy as thought, at least not for one of the current supremes. Although, should Death come a-knockin', he'll most likely just say vaffunculo to Death's bony ass with a chin flick and be done with it. Interesting nonetheless, and possibly putting Kagan or Kathleen Sullivan in play for a second SC pick sooner than anticipated, so do stay tuned.

Cutting-edge analysis, we haz it!

Sunday, January 04, 2009

Return to Ordinary Time

Despite the residual conditioning of a liturgical calendar that purses its lips and reminds me that Christmas is not over until Epiphany, my senses shake their collective had sadly and inform me that the holiday has, indeed, dribbled to a close. A few bowl games are still lingering in the hopper and leftover ham is sitting in the fridge waiting to prop up an omelet, and maybe half the houses on the block still have lights up, but it's effectively over for another year, leaving the vast expanse of January and February in front of us. As Januaries and Februaries go, we could do far worse than to spend them in southern Arizona, I suppose, since living in the desert means the winter storm that blew in this morning with low clouds and drizzle grading into rain and sheets of snow sweeping the mountains can be delighted in as a brief diversion giving us a different view, a respite from the sunshine and perpetual summer that is surely returning by midweek.

No resolutions are being cooked up in Chez Bolt this year. I try to avoid them, in any event, given my propensity for setting myself up for enough failure in ordinary time, so no need to up the ante for the holiday if there's no gun to my head. If I was being forced to resolve under duress, I would focus on actual cooking. A Barnes & Noble gift card from the girlfriend's ex-husband (bizarre extended family, we haz wun) was cashed in for Alice Waters' The Art of Simple Food, which has filled my fantasy life with all sorts of wonderful stocks, soups, and pastas (only on page 90 so far). Between that and the Top Chef obsession, I hope my kitchen turns out some quality dishes this year for my table and my freezer. And, in this perfect world, I will spend more time and money at farmer's markets and less at Safeway, and maybe save enough to eat more legitimate meals and fewer quesadillas.

Good living. It is my fondest hope and intent. As I head back to a daily grind in which mistletoe and evergreen boughs are conspicuously absent, I resolve to give it my best shot. If not, well, shit happens. May you find what you're looking for in 2009.

Relative Bliss

You may have hit a few blips, a few bumps in the early 2009 road, but take solace in the likelihood that your year has been nowhere near as crappy as my neighbor Daniel's year so far. He lives down the block, and we just met for the first time yesterday when his terrified but adorable puppy showed up in my yard.

The dog--an apparent Rotty/Dobie mix named Bruiser--had a PetFinder tag on his collar, so the girlfriend was able to track down his owner's name and number while Bruiser, all tail tucks and full-body wiggles, climbed into my lap to be comforted while he waited to be taken home.

Daniel walked up with a leash a few minutes later, looking like someone had gobsmacked him with a figurative cinder block, and mumbled that his girlfriend had just ransacked his house, sold his car, and stolen his computer before walking out on him, and had let the dog out in the process. He stammered out his appreciation to us, clipped the leash to Bruiser's harness, and walked back down the street, softly telling the dog I didn't think I'd see you again.

Good luck, man. Can't top that tale of misery.

Friday, January 02, 2009

Our Leading Economic Indicator

Let me preface by saying that rubber fake testicles hanging off the backs of trucks, especially when they cost in the neighborhood of twenty bucks, may be the most singular means of communicating "Hello, I'm a giant douche" the world has yet seen, and their squickiness is trumped only by the fact that they apparently were invented by a 70-year-old guy, although googling "truck nuts inventor" isn't giving me a reliable source for that half memory.

So yeah, I had thought they were the stupidest thing I had ever seen. Then I went to K-Mart (do. not. ask.) and saw this in the parking lot.

Need a closer look?

Truck Nutz, DIY version.

Wiffle balls. On a zip-tie. I salute you, Mr. Suzuki X-7 driver from Texas, for your refusal to let your dumbassery wilt in the face of recession. You understand the importance of faux genitalia on your vehicle, and if you can't buy the powder-coated aluminum version, you will just slap these homemade babies way off-center on your tow hook and say to hell with anyone who thinks that might maybe make you ever so slightly more of a douchebag than the ninety million other dumbasses with anatomically correct, if oversized, fake nuts on their trucks. Well played, sir. Well played.

Mud-flap silhouettes will undoubtedly have to be cut out of 7-11 hot dog wrappers starting any day now. Fix the economy, Barack. We can't take much more of this.