Friday, November 28, 2008

Is Liberation Theology for White People Okay With You?

During the middle of the Presidential race, the media gave quite a bit of attention to the Trinity United Church of Christ (Barack Obama's place of worship for 20+ years) in Chicago. The church was heavily criticized because it has a strong emphasis on addressing the needs of the Black Community. I think it makes sense for them to take that stance. After all, they're in Chicago. With a local population that consists of so many Black people, somebody needs to address their spiritual and social concerns and this has been the church's role for thousands of years.

I thought about this today when I was watching a video clip on Jesus' General. It was the trailer for a documentary called "Banking on Heaven". It exposes the polygamy, abuse, and murders that regularly take place in the Fundamentalist Latter Day Saints (Mormon) church communities. It includes interviews with people who have escaped from these communities and have made it their mission to help those whose lives have been negatively affected as a result of growing up in those circumstances. Beyond those mentioned in this particular documentary, there are several ministries that have been established with the goal of helping those who in this situation.

I'm not saying that many women, children, and teenagers in the FLDS church don't need help. It's clear to me that they do. What I wonder about is why so many people don't seem to have a problem with the ministries (run primarily by white people) that are designed to focus their help on those who are in this almost exclusively white community, but become highly offended if they hear about a ministry that is primarily by black people that is designed to focus its help on those within the black community.

Is liberation theology okay with the average American only if its ministers and targets are white?

Update: I listed Obama's former church as "Trinity Church of Christ". The name of the church is actually "Trinity United Church of Christ". As a commenter pointed out to me, the Church of Christ and the United Church of Christ are two separate organizations with no ties to each other. I apologize for the omission.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

It's Not Thanksgiving. It's our Day of Mourning

I wrote my annual Thanksgiving post a bit early this year. Here it is for those who didn't see it before:

A Modern-Day Thanksgiving Story

My post from two years ago contains a lot of links for those who want to explore this issue in depth:

For Those With Warm and Fuzzy Feelings About Thanksgiving

Here is another essay written by a Native American woman explaining her views about this faux "holiday":

Why Don't You Celebrate Thanksgiving? An Essay

Music Meme: Muse

Hat tip to Renegade Evolution

Rules:- Choose a singer/band/group- Muse

Answer the following using ONLY titles of songs by that singer/band/group

1. Are you male or female? New Born
2. Describe yourself. Creep
3. What do people feel when they’re around you? Hysteria
4. How would you describe your previous relationship? Ruled by Secrecy
5. Describe your current relationship. Endlessly
6. Where would you want to be now? Supermassive Black Hole
7. How do you feel about love? Plug-in Baby
8. What’s your life like? Butterflies and Hurricanes
9. What would you ask for if you had only one wish? Thoughts of a Dying Atheist
10. Say something wise. Sing for Absolution

Even though Muse is my favorite band, VanGoghGirl never really cared for them. Imagine her reaction when she found out that the Twilight movie soundtrack featured one of their songs. Now that she knows that Stephenie Meyers is a big fan of Muse, she's been a little more receptive to it. With the popularity of everything associated with the movie, maybe we'll see a brand new generation of teens listening to "rock for clever people".

Monday, November 24, 2008

Libertarians Defend Social Conservativism?

Today, American Thinker has an utterly ridiculous article on its blog called, "A Libertarian Defense of Social Conservatism".
"However, praying in public school is outlawed, based on that same Constitution."
This line alone shows how uninformed Hoven really is. Praying in public schools is not and never has been outlawed. It's too bad Hoven doesn't stop there because he only goes on to make himself look even stupider.
"Just think for a moment about the things you are actually forced to do or are prevented from doing. Seat belts. Motorcycle helmets. Bicycle helmets...Mandatory vaccines for your children...Keeping the money you earned."
Anyone who doesn't want to get their child vaccinated can simply refrain from putting their child in public school or any other program where it's required. I know plenty of home-schooling parents who do this and it certainly hasn't violated any laws. I think it's extremely stupid for them to risk their child's life in this way, but "liberal do-gooders" certainly haven't created any mandatory vaccination laws.

Likewise, if someone doesn't want to wear a seat belt or a motorcycle/bike helmet, they don't have to. On your private property, you can go as belt-less and helmet-free as you want. Both "social conservatives" and "liberal do-gooders" have decided that they want people to use these tools, so it isn't a case where only one group is responsible for these laws. If you're going to be on the roads with the rest of us, I certainly don't want your body being hurled into my car because you don't have on a seat belt and I don't want to see your brains splattered up against my car because you don't have on a helmet.

"Keeping the money you earned" is also another silly argument. If you're going to make use of the services that taxes pay for, then you're trying to get something for nothing if you don't pay for them. Is it really libertarian to believe that you should be able to use what others pay for without paying in yourself?
I can get pornography right at my keyboard, or drive a mile and get all the sex toys I can fit into my car. I can walk to the nearest casino to gamble (but can no longer smoke there). I do need to travel to Nevada for a legal prostitute. If my teenage daughters had wanted abortions, they could have had them free and without even notifying me. (However, had they taken Advil to school, we'd all be in trouble.)
Basically, Hoven sides with those who want to be free to do what they want with their body when it comes to vaccinations, but sees nothing problematic or hypocritical about those same people trying to restrict a woman's freedom to do what she wants with her body. Do the "social conservatives" think they should have to notify anyone if they don't want to receive vacinnations? "Liberal do-gooders" are the ones who think that both "social conservatives" and the rest of us have a right to bodily autonomy.

I'd also like to hear how "liberal do-gooders" are responsible for the fact that he can get pornography on his computer. Somebody should explain to Hoven how the internetz work. While they're at it, maybe they should explain to him how libertarianism works, too. Hey Hoven, it's called personal freedom. Yer doin' it wrong. If you don't want porn at your keyboard, don't put it there. If you don't want sex toys, don't buy 'em.

Hoven goes back to the abortion issue here:
Let's talk about the unavoidable issue: abortion. Who made it a federal issue? The ACLU and then the Supreme Court. Before 1973 it was left to the states; some allowed it, some didn't. Different states could adopt different criteria. Some might allow it under all circumstances. Some other none. Some at 12 or 20 weeks. Some might define "health" of the mother in different terms.

But all that flexibility was halted with Roe v Wade. Since 1973 abortion has been a Constitutional right. Do you know where that right is found in the Constitution? In these words of the 14th Amendment: "[No state shall] deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law." Those words, according to our finest Constitutional scholars, mean it's OK to shove scissors through the skull of a baby and suction its brains out, as long as that skull has not yet left the birth canal.
The Supreme Court ruled that the Constitution halted all that "flexibility" that the states exercised to restrict a lot of other basic freedoms. Anti-reproductive freedom advocates always try to use the so-called "partial birth abortion" as a way to appeal to people's emotions. We could describe any number of things that people do with their bodies in a way that might offend the sensibilities of some Americans. So what?! Does that mean the Constitution doesn't really give everyone the rights spelled out in the 14th Amendment?

If I want to handle snakes in my church, if I want to smoke cigarettes, if I want to pierce and flay and burn and tattoo my body, if I want to have a hysterectomy, if I want to live out in the woods with no electricity or phone lines, if I want to wear a loin-cloth and carry a cross around on my back, if I want to use birth control, if I want to wear skirts even when I'm jogging, if I want to give birth to a dozen or more children, if I want to let someone gag me and spank me and call me a very bad girl, if I want to go un-washed and un-deodorized, the Constitution says I have the freedom to do that, too. One would think that a libertarian would agree with such an interpretation of it, but when you're not interested in libertarianism and what you really want is just the freedom for you to do what you please, I guess Hoven's comments make sense.

Hoven also decided to venture into the subject of gay marriage.
I am not dead set against gay marriage. I'm mildly against it, but if it comes to an honest vote in my state and passes, I can live with that. But so far, every single time the issue has gone to a popular vote, the people voted it down. The only reason it is legal in two states right now is because of the courts in those states; a mere handful of robed Merlins made the decisions.

I also think it a bit risky to redefine such a fundamental institution that has been defined as between one man and one or more women in every successful civilization I know about, for the last 6,000 years or so.
Once again, Hoven throws out libertarianism. Libertarianism doesn't assert that what freedoms a person should have depends on what others feel about their decisions. Either the Constitution dictates equal rights for all or it doesn't. Even if the majority of voters disagree, the Constitution is the deciding factor and the courts are there to interpret it. If he doesn't like the fact that the courts are the institution we've established to play this role, then his problem is with the Constitution itself and the American people who insist on using it as the basis for our laws.

Furthermore, Hoven is exposing his ignorance when he makes the claim that gay marriage is the redefining of a fundamental institution. For the majority of recorded history, marriage has been a private agreement with no need for approval from any state in order for it to be considered valid. People started coming together as couples and raising families long before any government decided to start dictating whose relationships should be legitimized. Hoven also neglects to mention the fact that plenty of societies that did define marriage as between "one man and one or more women" eventually proved unsuccessful. Evidently, how marriage is defined plays no role in whether a society thrives or flounders.

Hoven's comments about God are a complete red herring.
I am not religious myself, but I kind of like the idea that whoever makes and enforces our laws thinks that some invisible being knows his every move and will judge him accordingly in eternity. I would not be offended if the being he prays to is the one who gave the Sermon on the Mount.
Over 75% of Americans describe themselves as Christians of some sort. This majority includes many that Hoven might describe as "liberal do-gooders". However, "Liberal do-gooders" aren't the ones who claim that only those politicians who subscribe to one particular interpretation of Christianity should be allowed to govern. In fact, "liberal do-gooders" are the ones who think that people like Hoven have the right to be agnostics or deists or lapsed-Catholics or atheists without others trying to force them to follow other people's religious beliefs.

I wonder how long it will take for the real libertarians on American Thinker to step in and correct Hoven. I won't be holding my breath. These days, the unpopularity of the Republican "social conservatives" have a lot of them trying to re-label themselves as libertarians without really being willing to adopt libertarian principles. Many libertarians have such a Napoleonic Complex after being such an insignificant presence in the American political scene for so long that they are willing to accept the poseurs without blinking an eye. Ahh, the things that political desperation will tempt people to do...

Friday, November 21, 2008

Twilight Fever

So, as everyone with a pre-teen or teenager probably knows already, the movie adaption of Stephenie Meyer's best-seller "Twilight" premiers in theatres this weekend. Somehow, I got designated as the official parent person to accompany VanGoghGirl and her bestest buddies at the movie tonight. It's not really a sacrifice since I've also read the entire series and, despite certain problems with some of the portrayals, rather enjoyed it. Okay, the truth is, I'm really glad that I'm playing chaperon because it gives me a good reason for being there without looking like a total loser for being so excited about a teen movie.

So, instead of a quiet Friday night at home, we are now ordering pizza and the girls are in the living room watching another vampire/werewolf movie, "Underworld", until it's time to head out. I'll be back later on to share my totally unimportant opinion about it. Meanwhile, you can check out the teen heart-throb, Robert Pattinson, in these trailers for the movie.

Just Can't Sleep

I've been up ever since yesterday at 9 a.m. and I'm still not sleepy. *sigh* You'd think that with all of the narcotics that I have to take in a day, it should never be a problem for me to get to sleep at night. Nope. Instead, I only feel drowsy throughout the day when I might actually be able to interact with the world and get more things accomplished. The internetz are so boring tonight. I don't want to start any games because that would only wake me up even more. Maybe I'll crack open a book.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

The Repercussions (International Transgender Day of Remembrance)

Today is the 10th Annual International Transgender Day of Remembrance. I've been trying to think about how to talk about this for a few days now. This day memorializes those transgendered people who have been killed simply because of who they are.

This isn't about people just dying peacefully in their sleep. That I can deal with. Death is just as much a part a life as is birth. Today is about those whose lives were cut short, those who were prematurely eliminated from the world of the living. That is something I just can't accept. That is not inevitable.

I've been wondering what this means. I think the universe, the Creative spirit, the bigger-than-you-and-me thing, or whatever you want to call it, put us on this earth together for a reason. The Creator also made us with a great deal of diversity. Tall, queer, Asian, lesbian, transgendered, short, disabled, gay, cis-gendered, Latin@, non-disabled...We are all meant to be threads in a beautiful tapestry encompassing the earth.

So what are the repercussions when we allow people to cut short the lives of those who are already struggling to hang on at the margins of our societies? Perhaps, the results are that things start to unravel. Once this supposedly problematic element of society is removed, who else will end up on the cutting room floor? Others who exist around the margins are the first to be affected, but it doesn't stop there, does it?

Maybe, when the threads that bind us to one another are snipped away because we decide that some lives don't matter as much and that we'd be better off without certain kinds of people, eventually, it becomes impossible to hold together any sort of working, thriving communities where anyone can feel safe from harm. That could conceivably include those who see themselves as completely mainstream, normal, and morally superior to those in marginalized communities who are being murdered every day just because of who they are, just because their lives are not considered valuable.

I know this might sound harsh, but it could be that we are receiving our just deserts. Maybe those who are now upset, because their once-cushy existence is now threatened, ought to get up off their asses and do something to protect marginalized folks like the transgendered population. Maybe then we wouldn't have so many transgendered friends, family, and community members to mourn today. Maybe this fucked up world is exactly what we've reaped through our inaction and complicity with those who killed these beautiful souls. Maybe we'll change. Maybe all of society will go up in flames and if anything or anyone is left standing, hopefully they'll have learned something from it all.

Karma Police
-by Radiohead

How to Mourn
-Queen Emily

Ten Years-400 Dead...And Counting
-Monica Roberts (TransGriot)

Full Listing of Transgender Day of Remembrance Blog Posts

American Abortions are to Blame for Influx of Immigrants? Sure, Buddy. Whatever you say.

Hat tip to MattBastard

The Washington Post's David Lieb reports
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo., Nov. 13 -- A Republican-led legislative panel says in a new report on illegal immigration that abortion is partly to blame because it is causing a shortage of American workers.

The report from the state House Special Committee on Immigration Reform also says that "liberal social welfare policies" have discouraged Americans from working and have encouraged immigrants to cross the border illegally.

People, what can I say about this? I mean, other than it's utterly ridiculous. Now, I might not be all that old, but I am old enough to remember the "Welfare Reform Act" that kicked millions of people off of the programs that made it possible for people to get the help they needed to take care of their families. Some states, including Louisiana, decided to stop giving assistance to parents who were trying to improve their job prospects by going to college full-time. Seeking a degree wasn't considered sufficiently productive in the eyes of the government.

Now, what do you suppose people will do when they are faced with a pregnancy and they have no way of supporting another human being for (at a minimum) the next 18 years? Regardless of how you feel about it, abortion is inarguably a lot more affordable than taking care of a child. Maybe if jobs paid a living wage and we had universal health care, women might not see abortion as the only feasible option available to them.

I think it should also be said that, I don't see any reason why we should prefer one sort of worker (e.g. legal/illegal) over the other. I'm more concerned about the treatment of all workers. Are they being exploited? Are they able to improve their economic status if that is their goal? See, if we improve the way that the workers are treated and if we worked to improve the skill levels of those who will make up our future work force (and that of our neighboring countries), I'm pretty sure that we'd see a reduction in a lot of the things that Republicans complain about.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Cuz That's Just The Mood I'm In

I'm the new cancer, never looked better, you can't stand it.
Because you say so under your breath.
You're reading lips "When did (s)he get all confident?"

Haven't you heard that I'm the new cancer?
Never looked better, and you can't stand it.

- "There's a Good Reason These Tables Are Numbered Honey, You Just Haven't Thought of It Yet" by Panic! at the Disco in American Sign Language (at Deaf Jam 2006)

Salgirah Mubarak! Wendy Harpham's Cancer Anniversary

Wendy Harpham over at Cancer Survivor's Blog just marked her 18th annual cancer survivorship anniversary. Eighteen years! This is better than any birthday. Please go over and congratulate her. I'm sure she'd like it. Her blog has been invaluable to me for a long time now. Her perspective as both a doctor and a long-term cancer survivor is quite unique. Check it out.

To celebrate, I'm linking to the most beautiful cake I could find on the internet with an 18th theme:

The Kids Are Growing Up Before My Eyes

The weekend of Hallowe'en my kiddos (VanGoghGirl and TheGingerKid) went to their first mixed-gender teen parties. They seem to be getting to the point where they no longer see each other as inherently icky. I felt pretty comfortable with them being at these parties because I know all of the parents involved and I made sure to go inside and have a chat with them before we left the kids. We let them know that we'd be back to pick them up at 10 p.m. That's an hour past VanGoghGirl's weekday bedtime, so she was really thrilled about being allowed to be out so late without us being there. Both events were costume parties, so the kids had the opportunity to dress up and show their creativity. After wearing school uniforms day in and day out, they were all excited to be able to see what each person would choose. VanGoghGirl went as a pirate and TheGingerKid dressed up as some scary looking guy from Texas Chainsaw Massacre.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Not Even The Angels

Daisy is a feminist, politically progressive Catholic blogger from Greenville, South Carolina. Her local priest has recently declared that no Catholics who voted for Obama should partake in Communion until they submit themselves to penance for doing so. Here's the letter he gave out to parishioners last Sunday:

Dear Friends in Christ,

We the People have spoken, and the 44th President of the United States will be Barack Hussein Obama. This election ends a political process that started two years ago and which has revealed deep and bitter divisions within the United States and also within the Catholic Church in the United States. This division is sometimes called a “Culture War,” by which is meant a heated clash between two radically different and incompatible conceptions of how we should order our common life together, the public life that constitutes civil society. And the chief battleground in this culture war for the past 30 years has been abortion, which one side regards as a murderous abomination that cries out to Heaven for vengeance and the other side regards as a fundamental human right that must be protected in laws enforced by the authority of the state. Between these two visions of the use of lethal violence against the unborn there can be no negotiation or conciliation, and now our nation has chosen for its chief executive the most radical pro-abortion politician ever to serve in the United States Senate or to run for president. We must also take note of the fact that this election was effectively decided by the votes of self-described (but not practicing) Catholics, the majority of whom cast their ballots for President-elect Obama.

In response to this, I am obliged by my duty as your shepherd to make two observations:

1. Voting for a pro-abortion politician when a plausible pro-life alternative exits constitutes material cooperation with intrinsic evil, and those Catholics who do so place themselves outside of the full communion of Christ’s Church and under the judgment of divine law. Persons in this condition should not receive Holy Communion until and unless they are reconciled to God in the Sacrament of Penance, lest they eat and drink their own condemnation.

2. Barack Obama, although we must always and everywhere disagree with him over abortion, has been duly elected the next President of the United States, and after he takes the Oath of Office next January 20th, he will hold legitimate authority in this nation. For this reason, we are obliged by Scriptural precept to pray for him and to cooperate with him whenever conscience does not bind us otherwise. Let us hope and pray that the responsibilities of the presidency and the grace of God will awaken in the conscience of this extraordinarily gifted man an awareness that the unholy slaughter of children in this nation is the greatest threat to the peace and security of the United States and constitutes a clear and present danger to the common good. In the time of President Obama’s service to our country, let us pray for him in the words of a prayer found in the Roman Missal:

God our Father, all earthly powers must serve you. Help our President-elect, Barack Obama, to fulfill his responsibilities worthily and well. By honoring and striving to please you at all times, may he secure peace and freedom for the people entrusted to him. We ask this through Our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God for ever and ever.


Father Newman

As a person of faith, I've always had a fondness for elements of the Catholic religion. Being born and raised in the Catholic enclave of New Orleans I'm not sure that it would be possible for me to feel otherwise. That's why Father Newman's letter bothers me. It simply isn't anything like the Catholic Church that I grew up around. The Catholic Church that saw was not only tolerant, but also inclusive. One could be Catholic or non-Catholic and they'd still be treated with respect.

When I think about it, I shouldn't be surprised that VanGoghGirl has expressed so much interest in becoming a Catholic. As a child, she spent many, many hours at the Catholic church on campus. The Newman Center, as it's named, was the host of almost all social events for the International Student's Organization. Every month or so, it hosted a get-to-know-you-better social event where students of a particular faith tradition would serve food and anyone could come and meet students and faculty who were adherents of that faith. The Muslims had a turn. The Hindus had a turn. The Baptists had a turn. Plenty of non-religious student organizations used the center to host their events, too. The Newman Center was also the place where my mentor Professor Mackie Blanton (the organizer for UNO's yearly Muslim-Christian Dialogue) started up a local Start The Adventure In Reading site that bussed in second and third grade students from economically-disadvantaged areas so that college students could serve as free tutors for these kids who were showing signs of falling behind in their studies.

It was a wonderful place. You could steal in a mid-day nap, watch television, cook up a feast in the kitchen, grab a cup of coffee, meet new people. It was a great place for me to study after I picked VanGoghGirl up from the pre-school next door. Studying at the library was an impossibility because you can't reasonably expect a toddler to sit in a chair and be silent for hours at a time. However, at the Newman Center, she could run around the first floor and talk incessantly to the priest while I was able to get some homework and studying done.

The church, under the direction of Father Burney, never tried to dictate to us what we should believe about God and what we needed to do in order to have a relationship with our Creator. Father Burney never asked me about my religious affiliation or political views even though he freely and regularly talked to us students about what he believed. I remember having conversations about Mary Magdalene, St. Therese, St. John the Baptist and so many other saints and religious figures from different religions.

Once, a student started talking about how they came to believe that Jesus and Mary Magdalene were married and carried on a sexual relationship with each other. The student was telling us all about the books he had read that led him to that conclusion. I felt like the student was trying to show disrespect for the priest and the priest's church. I wasn't a Catholic, but to push the issue while we were guests at the church just seemed rude, at the very least. I thought that Father Burney would be angry about what the student was saying. It was certainly offensive to me.

I tried to get Father Burney to explain how it simply wasn't possible for the son of God to do such a thing. I was dumbfounded when Father Burney said that, even if it was true, it wouldn't change how he viewed Jesus. I think that answer made me just as confused and frustrated as the comments expressed by the student. Now that I'm older, I can see that Father Burney defused what could have turned into a very contentious conversation that really wouldn't have been reflective of the sort of place he wanted the center to be. It was a place where we could grow at our own pace and, over the years, that's exactly what we did. It was Father Burney's patience and wisdom that made the church a place where I wanted to spend hours upon hours.

As I looked at the letter from Daisy's church, I reminded myself that her priest doesn't own the church. This is also Father Burney's church and when I compare the two, I know which priest best reflects the attributes of the Creator that the Catholic Church helped me learn how to love.

For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come,
Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
-Romans 8:38,39

A Political Safari Scene

The McCain campaign’s classless cowards

Operation Leper

McCain aide fired for 'trashing' staff

Through their binoculars, the curious liberal tourists watched as the increasingly rare Republican species engages in the now documented process of eating its own kind.

For the Love of God, Please!!

My fellow religiously-inclined inhabitants of the United State of America, I have a request. Would you please help us all by not using religion as an excuse for promoting or condoning discriminatory, separate-but-equal laws? Is that too much to ask? From where I stand, it certainly doesn't seem like an unreasonable request.

I've wanted to write about the Proposition 8 vote for several days now. It made me really pissed off that people were put in a position were they felt forced to prove that they deserve to have the same rights as everyone else.

As a person in an inter-racial relationship (and as someone who can not marry thanks to insane legal roadblocks for people with disabilities), Prop. 8 really angers me. It's no different from the laws that forbade people in relationships a lot like mine from marrying. Folks had all sorts of excuses for wanting to prevent whites and blacks from marrying. As with Prop. 8, many people used their religion as the basis for their discrimination in the exact same way. Do you think I'm making this up?

"Almighty God created the races, white, black, yellow, malay and red, and he placed them on separate continents. And but for the interference with his arrangement there would be no cause for such marriages. The fact that he separated the races shows that he did not intend for the races to mix"
Does that sound familiar to anyone? Given how short our collective memory seems to be in this country, I'm figuring that most people won't recognize that quote. Well, it came from Judge Leon Bazile's decision in the landmark Loving v. Commonwealth of Virgina case. It wasn't until 1967 that the Supreme Court recognized that the prohibition of Richard and Mildred Loving's interracial marriage was a violation of their rights. 1967! It wasn't until 2000--that's eight years ago--that the state of Alabama decided to abolish its prohibition against inter-racial marriages, but look at things now.

Now we have the same people pointing their crooked little fingers in disapproval and shock that someone should actually want to marry the person they love. What a surprise, right? If you go to any one of these mega-churches and temples, you are sure to see inter-racial couples. Down here in Louisiana, the ones I've visited have lots of families like mine and I've heard preachers talk about how proud they are that their place of worship is so "color-blind" because we are all children of God.

A few years ago, these organizations were using the same religion-based excuses to justify prohibiting consenting adult couples in love from getting married. It didn't work then. All it did was make inter-racial couples fight even harder and, eventually, even the religiously-inclined came to see the light. Hating people rarely makes them cower and give in. Loving will eventually win out. On the 40th anniversary of the Loving v. Virginia court case, the late Mildred Loving explained it better than anyone else I've heard. In part, it reads:

My generation was bitterly divided over something that should have been so clear and right. The majority believed that what the judge said, that it was God's plan to keep people apart, and that government should discriminate against people in love. But I have lived long enough now to see big changes. The older generation's fears and prejudices have given way, and today's young people realize that if someone loves someone they have a right to marry.

Surrounded as I am now by wonderful children and grandchildren, not a day goes by that I don't think of Richard and our love, our right to marry, and how much it meant to me to have that freedom to marry the person precious to me, even if others thought he was the "wrong kind of person" for me to marry. I believe all Americans, no matter their race, no matter their sex, no matter their sexual orientation, should have that same freedom to marry. Government has no business imposing some people’s religious beliefs over others. Especially if it denies people’s civil rights.

I am still not a political person, but I am proud that Richard's and my name is on a court case that can help reinforce the love, the commitment, the fairness, and the family that so many people, black or white, young or old, gay or straight seek in life. I support the freedom to marry for all. That's what Loving, and loving, are all about.
-Loving For All

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Congressman Paul Broun Warns That Obama May Be Hitler Redux

Oh boy!! You know, I try to live pretty openly and honestly about having schizophrenia. It does present its challenges but I manage just fine most of the time. Like many others who have it, I've learned how to deal with it. See, that's the good thing about knowing that I'm as mad as a hatter--I've learned how to avoid most problems because I can recognize the fact that there is an actual problem. I often think that some people would be better off if they were mad because that would actually explain the stuff they do and say.

For instance, a few hours ago, the Associated Press reported some statements made by Congressman Paul Broun from the glorious state of Georgia.

WASHINGTON (AP) — A Republican congressman from Georgia said Monday he fears that President-elect Obama will establish a Gestapo-like security force to impose a Marxist or fascist dictatorship.

"It may sound a bit crazy and off base, but the thing is, he's the one who proposed this national security force," Rep. Paul Broun said of Obama in an interview Monday with The Associated Press. "I'm just trying to bring attention to the fact that we may — may not, I hope not — but we may have a problem with that type of philosophy of radical socialism or Marxism."

Broun cited a July speech by Obama that has circulated on the Internet in which the then-Democratic presidential candidate called for a civilian force to take some of the national security burden off the military.

"That's exactly what Hitler did in Nazi Germany and it's exactly what the Soviet Union did," Broun said. "When he's proposing to have a national security force that's answering to him, that is as strong as the U.S. military, he's showing me signs of being Marxist."

Obama's comments about a national security force came during a speech in Colorado about building a new civil service corps. Among other things, he called for expanding the nation's foreign service and doubling the size of the Peace Corps "to renew our diplomacy."

"We cannot continue to rely only on our military in order to achieve the national security objectives that we've set," Obama said in July. "We've got to have a civilian national security force that's just as powerful, just as strong, just as well-funded."

Broun said he also believes Obama likely will move to ban gun ownership if he does build a national police force.

Obama has said he respects the Second Amendment right to bear arms and favors "common sense" gun laws. Gun rights advocates interpret that as meaning he'll at least enact curbs on ownership of assault weapons and concealed weapons. As an Illinois state lawmaker, Obama supported a ban on semiautomatic weapons and tighter restrictions on firearms generally.

"We can't be lulled into complacency," Broun said. "You have to remember that Adolf Hitler was elected in a democratic Germany. I'm not comparing him to Adolf Hitler. What I'm saying is there is the potential."

Obama's transition office did not respond immediately to Broun's remarks.

See, even if you stuck a camera in my face on my worst day, you'd probably never catch me saying anything as obviously paranoid and illogical as this. Wanna know why? It's because, when I think I've heard something really alarming, I always check to make sure that it's not just me. Poor Congressman Broun evidently didn't do that. Now he's gone and made himself look really, really stupid and no one can do a single thing about it. Sometimes I really pity the supposedly sane folks in this country.

Congressman Broun, if you happen to read this, Godwin told me to pass you this message:

Monday, November 10, 2008

Obama Daughters and Black Hair

I was checking out Huffington Post this evening because it has featured several really great slideshows featuring the Obama family. I found one tonight that was entitled "Obama Family PDA" that had pictures of Michelle and Barack Obama showing affection to their daughters. After looking through the pictures, I went down and read some of the comments. One person's response to another person's comments really made me pause for a moment. The first person said, "man those kids got great hair. it's gonna be fun to watch 'em grow up. the older one looks so much like her mother its crazy!!"

To that, someone replied, "Danny--your comment sounds a bit creepy". A couple of people stepped in and disagreed and I did too, but I decided to come here and post more because the exchange made me want to write about a few things that wouldn't really be on topic there.

In case I haven't mentioned it already, VanGoghGirl and I have gone completely ga-ga over the two Obama children. We think it is just awesome that there will be two little girls in the White House who look like her. Like her, they have very ethnically diverse family and heritage. Ten will get you twenty that they've also had to answer some of the same kinds of questions about their background that VanGoghGirl has grown tired of responding to over the years: Who is that white lady that came to graduation for you? How can your aunt be Asian even though none of your grandparents are? Why are you so brown if you're part white?

Regardless of whether Barack Obama will turn out to be a good President, I think having Malia and Sasha and Michelle in the White House will always give me something positive to remember about it. I'm going to revisit this subject tomorrow but I just wanted to get this out tonight, for starters.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Are You Familiar With "Coonass"?

Have you folks who live outside of Louisiana ever heard of this word? I'm beginning to think this word might be unique to this area because I haven't heard it used outside of the south.

"Coonass" sounds kind of offensive if you don't know what it means, but it's almost looked at as a badge of pride. It's sort of used by the same class of folks who'd probably just be considered or consider themselves "rednecks" if they lived in other places, but there's a definite difference between the two.

Both terms are used here. "Rednecks" is sometimes used pejoratively to describe poor white people, in general. However, "coonasses" refers to those whites of a particular background, namely, Cajuns. It really isn't an insult. It's more like a signifier that people use to identify themselves as members of this group that has historically been looked down on and discriminated against, even by other poor whites.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Nader refers to Obama as an "Uncle Tom"

My little brother and his brilliant musician room-mates voted for Nader back in 2000 because he was the only candidate that was openly advocating for the legalization of marijuana, which appealed to their love of all things mind-altering. Some folks tried to blame the Nader voters for the fact that Gore didn't end up being our President. I still think that's scapegoating. I mean how were they supposed to know that things would end up being that close?

I'm also sympathetic with those who are trying to voice their displeasure with our two-party system that makes it impossible for anyone but a Democrat or Republican to become President and I understand that this motivated some people to vote for Nader. That's perfectly legitimate, in my eyes. However, Nader has now gone beyond his sometimes self-aggrandizing ways and shown that he is nothing more than an attention-hog who is even willing to resort to making racist slurs in order to stretch out his fifteen minutes of fame.

Update: Congratulations, Ralph Nader is the winner of our official "Special White Woman" award for the month of November.

By the way, is it just me or has Fox News commentator Sheppard Smith been expressing some surprisingly reasonable views lately?

Wednesday, November 05, 2008


I'm too tired to write anything right now, so I'm just going to post this video for your viewing enjoyment. It's all about, well, change.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Today I became a First Time Voter

Photo Description: VanGoghGirl and I stand in front of the polling station as I point to the "Handicap Accessible" sign.

Yes, it's true. Despite my long-held former position, I decided that this wasn't a moment that I wanted to let pass me by. The German, who is also a first-time voter, had already cast his vote during the early voting stage but I wanted to wait until today so that I could be a part of the energy that will propel millions of people to make a decision about the future direction of this country. While watching television this morning, I saw someone reading this ad. It really touched me and I thought others might like it, too. It really describes how I've been feeling about this liminal period in history.

There is a moment, a simple moment, before history gets recorded.

Before it goes in the books.

Before it appears as a question on a game show.

Or, on a midterm exam.

A moment right before the headline is written.

There is a moment when history lives in the present.

When we can watch it unfold in real time, right before our eyes.

And we can all assume our place in it.

Some people live for history

We live for the moment just before.

-CNN ad in the New York Times

Monday, November 03, 2008

Obama family photo

I keep thinking that Malia reminds me of Iman. I think it's the graceful forehead and long arms and legs and the beautiful, thick hair. It's obvious to me that these girls are being raised well. They are polite and poised and cheerful every time they make an appearance.

Madelyn Payne Dunham--R.I.P.

I just read that (U.S. Presidential candidate) Barack Obama's maternal grandmother, Madelyn Payne Dunham, has transitioned from this world to the next after battling with cancer. She was eighty-six years old. It's sad that she won't be here to share in, what I believe will be, her grandson's victory tomorrow.

(From left to right)
Stanley Ann, Stanley, and Madelyn Dunham

Sunday, November 02, 2008

The Scariest Halloween House Evahhhh!!

You know, just when I think McCain supporters have gone about as far as they can go to show how classless and hateful they truly are, they manage to find a way to out-do themselves.

If Shirley Nagel was doing this as her form of campaigning, wouldn't it have made more sense to only give candy to the kids whose parents didn't plan to vote for McCain? I mean, isn't that the main point of campaigning--to change the minds of those who aren't convinced that your preferred candidate is the right person for the job? If her neighborhood is anything like the ones I grew up in, this woman has just ensured that her house will now be the target of Halloween pranks every single year.

This guy ranks only slightly below Nagel. At least he had the decency to take down his signs after being shamed by the media and the town's mayor for a few days.