Saturday, November 07, 2009

Closer to Equality in Washington State

Maine makes me sad, but this makes me HAPPY!

See for more information. Kathy Reim of PFLAG made an important point in an email today. While many of the votes came from King County, as expected, many did NOT. If you look at the state map and statistics on the Washington State site, you'll see that we got SOME votes in every county, and 30 to 40 percent in many of the rural counties. We are making progress, and this is not a "liberal" issue, or a "city" issue. It is simply a civil rights issue, and WE ALL HAVE EQUAL RIGHTS IN THIS COUNTRY. We just have to get the laws and judicial system to align with our Constitution.

Let's keep working.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Film: Silverlake Life, The View From Here

AIDS is a scary bastard, especially to the mother of a gay son. When Silverlake Life was filmed, it was a death sentence. However, the film-maker was fiercely alive while he survived, and ensured that this powerful story would be brought to the world by his lover, and then his student. Tom Joslin was not sentimental, but he was not afraid of love, of fear, of grief. Nor was he afraid of death, of AIDS, of losing his youth and health.

This film is lovely, heartbreaking, ugly and beautiful.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Movies and books

The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1939) is so tremendous. I've not seen any of the other versions, or read Hugo's novel, but I can't imagine a more moving or exciting screening. Charles Laughton was riveting as Quasimodo, in such a enormous contrast to the fresh innocent beauty of Maureen O'Hara, in her American debut. Her young champion Edmond O'Brien as Gringoire also stands in hearty, enthusiastic contrast to her persecutor Frollo, the Chief Justice, played in icy menace by Cedric Hardwicke. The sets, the medieval Paris and it's gem, Notre Dame -- superb! "Why was I not made of stone like thee?" Unforgettable.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

You reap what you sow - Film: Battle of Algiers

In the last couple of days, I watched Battle of Algiers La Battaglia di Algeri (1966) and all the extra material included in the Criterion edition of this classic film shot in 1966. I really wish Pres. Obama had seen it too, because his remarks about our goals and methods in Afghanistan seem fundamentally flawed to me.

What I take away from hours of film, biography, history, interviews, etc., is that you reap what you sow. If you use terrorism and force, you end up with chaos, which is the situation facing Algeria now. The French used force and torture, and won the battle of Algers, but lost the war. and the colony. The Algerians won their independence, but rather than a peaceful democracy, they are now fighting off religious fundamentalists.

We need to think more carefully about where to involve ourselves in the world, and how we do it. Because one reaps what one sows, in politics as in life.

It does not require a majority to prevail, but rather an irate, tireless minority keen to set brush fires in people's minds. - Sam Adams

Monday, March 23, 2009

President Obama, Please Protect and Uphold the Constitution

Please do what you have sworn to do, twice. A wise commenter on Pam's House Blend says, "If the California Supreme Court rules that the majority has the right, by a simple majority vote, to deprive members of minorities of constitutionally guaranteed rights, it will mark the end of America as a political idea, as a political and philosophic bastion against tyranny."

But the rule of law is not only under attack in California. Right now, rather than appointing a special prosecutor to investigate war crimes under the Bush administration, you are BLOCKING all efforts to bring these criminal up on charges. Do you want them prosecuted abroad? They must be called to account, and it must be here in the United States, and it must be soon, Mr. President. When will you appoint a prosecutor?

NEW: Today's news includes: Spanish Court Considers Trying Former US Officials: Spanish court considers trying former US officials over allegations of Guantanamo torture. This will continue until WE bring them to account.

You have said you would eliminate two of the blights on civil rights of LGBT people, DOMA and DADT (Denial/Defense of Marriage Act and Don't Ask, Don't Tell), two of the worst vestiges of the Clinton presidency. Constitutional scholars agree that DOMA directly attacks the "full faith and credibility" clause of the Constitution. It must be removed! And DADT is slowly eroding our military, based on no solid research -- quite the opposite. The authors of that deeply flawed policy are now calling for its removal, as are many retired Generals. Please move on this quickly.

The Washington Post recently on DOMA:

I'm deeply disturbed, President Obama, by your slow going on the worst of the civil rights erosions of the Bush era. NO ONE should be held without cause. NO ONE should be subjected to warrantless wiretaps -- ever. NO ONE should be held abroad by Americans, when we can not legally hold them here in this country. Charge the criminals, and let the courts do their work. Get warrants, and let the police do their work. Saying that you will stop doing these things, or changing the labels for the prisoners, will not repair the damage. Only the legal process can do that.

More Immunity Claims on Wiretapping from Obama DOJ:

Echoing Bush's lies, "we do not torture" -- that is not enough. Those who OK'd and order the torture need to be charged and prosecuted. Only in this way can we protect our nation from tyrants who seek to do what you so nicely SAY, but do not DO -- follow our values, follow our laws, follow our Constitution! Close the prison in Guantanamo, the one in Baghdad, the secret prisons. Expose the truth to the world by allowing the law to disassemble this effigy of tyranny.

I would appreciate readers contributing reputable sourcing.

A guarantee of equality that is subject to exceptions made by a majority is no guarantee at all. - Therese Stewart, San Francisco City attorney, representing plaintiffs, California State Supreme Court, March 5, 2009

Thursday, February 26, 2009

A Modest Proposal to Begin Health Care Reform

No, I will no advocate eating the children of the poor, as the original A Modest Proposal did. But I think we have the seeds of a good health care system in the US right now, and yet I hear of no one proposing to grow and use it. I speak of course of the Public Health Service. I believe that we should expand this service a thousand-fold, and have it work in cooperation with all other public health services and clinics around the country, whether state or county-based. Ultimately, we need a health clinic in every village or neighborhood.

We're running into a shortage of nurses and doctors, so why not offer worthy students a free ride through school in teaching hospitals, paid back by a few years of service in the PHS? NPR did a series about health care in Europe, and while I didn't hear all of it, some of the countries had a system reminiscent of this.

Also, we could easily fold volunteer service into this, because good nutrition and regular exercise are the foundation of good health. So we need community-based centers for health, where doctors and nurses can be based, as well as space for classes and activities.

See, the problem as I see it, is that so far the debate has not been about health CARE, but about medical insurance. While decent insurance is a good idea, what the insurance companies have been doing is rationing care, and scooping profits out of the system. Instead, we need to focus on HEALTH and CARE. Not money, not drugs, although those are a necessary part of the equation. But the focus should be on health care for all, using best practices at every level.

It's about time the debate was about the best way to achieve that goal.

There are risks and costs to a program of action. But they are far less than the long-range risks and costs of comfortable inaction. - John F. Kennedy

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Best Spinoff Book Series, EVAH!

Diana Gabaldon's Lord John books are wonderful in every way! Of course, it helps if you are a fan of the Outlander series, but even if you are not, the historical mystery/romance/suspense mix involving the Lord John Grey will delight you. They take place mostly in mid-1700s London, although Germany is the setting for two of the war stories, which take place during the 7 Years War.

Lord John is homosexual (not gay, not yet) when that could mean disgrace or even execution. It is a delight to see him finding love and some pleasure, while solving mysteries and doing good.

These stories were created and published somewhat out of order, so ideally one would read the story "Lord John and the Hellfire Club" first, then Lord John and the Private Matter (novel), "Lord John and the Succubus" (novella), Lord John and the Brotherhood of the Blade (novel), and finally "Lord John and the Haunted Soldier" (short story). There will be a third novel, Lord John and the Scottish Prisoner, and I can hardly wait for it! The short story and novellas are now available in one volume, called "Lord John and the Hand of Devils."

Unlike DG's Outlander books, these are about 300 pages each. :-)