Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Gaza terror factions agree to a "truce"

Several factions of extremist groups in Gaza have agreed to a "truce" with Israel. That's good news.

Here's the thing. Israel has said repeatedly that if the rocket attacks, weapons smuggling, and other terrorist attacks from Gaza cease, Israel will stop doing military operations in Gaza. The blockade that Israel has placed on the territory is purely defensive. It's not meant to punish the residents of Gaza. The blockade should be lifted when the attacks from the territory cease. It's that simple. Call it a truce or what have you, the point is that Israel has no interest in attacking Gaza if it is not, in turn, being attacked by Gaza.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Tulsa named "emerging city for same sex couples"

The Advocate has named Tulsa an "emerging city" for same sex couples. From the article:

"I think The Advocate did pick a set of cities that sort of demonstrated, at a city-level, some of the broader trends that we're seeing," Gates said in a telephone interview. "The counts of same-sex couples are growing dramatically higher in more conservative parts of the country. And my read of that is that it is, perhaps in large part, due to acceptance of lesbian and gay people is starting to move beyond the coasts in the U.S."


Living in tulsa as a same sex couple is an exercise in contradictions. On the one hand, we've never had a problem getting an apartment together, and our landlords have always been welcoming. We have occasionally run into discrimination in leases- having to put down two application fees instead of just one as a straight couple would - but actually our current apartment manager didn't make us do that. We're a little concerned about what kind of legal hoops we'll have to go through when we want to buy a house, but we'll cross that bridge when we come to it. The main complaint we all have is that we have no legal relationship, and in order to build a legal relationship, we'll have to pay a lawyer and sign a whole lot of complicated paperwork - whereas a straight couple just gets married.

Monday loldog

funny dog pictures
see more cute dogs and puppies

Friday, April 25, 2008

In "important scientific research crucial to the future of humanity" news

Fartproof underwear.

No, seriously.

Well here's a bit of good news

The OK State House has voted to eliminate the state sales tax on groceries. It's not clear from the article where the bill is in the process, but that would be a nice break. Now, if we could only eliminate ALL sales taxes, we'd be getting somewhere.

Happy Friday

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Forever War

Bill in Portland Maine, a Kossack who does the "Cheers and Jeers" column daily, creates a brilliant parody of Poe about John McCain.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Kossack eats John Ashcroft's head

A student at Knox College (a great school that I almost attended) gets all up in John Ashcroft's grill, and gets snapped at by the former Attorney General. Great story.

Fix our damned roads, Oklahoma!

Our roads are literally killing people. Can we please do something about them?

Obama gets Brad Henry

Obama just netted another super delegate: our own governor, Brad Henry.

Ok, emo bands, now it's war.

I just heard a horrid abomination of musical horridness. Two Emo bands mangling "Under Pressure." Why was this allowed?

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

What part of "it's freaking over" does Pennsylvania not understand?

Argh.

And so we go on. And on. And on. And we tear ourselves in half, and Mark of Cain wins in November.

Fucking Democrats. I'm voting for Cthulhu.

Happy Earth Day.

Conservation can only be a tiny percentage of what solves global warming. The only real solution is to stop using fossil fuels completely and forever. The only clean, safe, viable and practical alternative to fossil fuels is nuclear power. Click the link to find out more.

Monday, April 21, 2008

On Gravitas, Charisma, and the election

cross-posted to Daily Kos.

I got on the Howard Dean bandwagon right after the disasterous 2002 midterms, and I didn't get off till the bitter end. This cycle, I did not see a candidate like Dean, a galvanizing figure who had two components necessary to move me: gravitas and charisma. Sure, there was plenty of gravitas: Richardson, Biden, Dodd. And there was plenty of charisma: Edwards, Obama, Clinton. But no candidate had both.

Thus, I spent a large part of 2007 trying to figure out whether gravitas or charisma would matter more. I supported Edwards for a time, and then he inevitably disappointed me. I decided I would go with the candidate who really reflected my political positions, regardless of whether he had a shot at winning, and so I gave my support to Kucinich. Kucinich dropped out. I went to an Edwards rally, and he convinced me again to vote for him. Then he dropped out the very next day.

So I was left with Clinton or Obama.

I've never liked Hillary Clinton. I saw her speak once, several years ago, at a Jewish activist conference, and I swear, it looked like she was playing a role, like she was acting. She was so inauthentic, so fake, that it really turned me off.

But Obama had never won me over. He had tons of charisma, but it didn't seem that he had any gravitas at all. Gravitas is a difficult concept to define, but to me it means that you have a solid foundation of knowledge and experience upon which your candidacy is based. Plus, Obama had seriously pissed me off with the whole Donnie McClurkin fiasco.

Faced with the choice between Clinton, who was inauthentic, but had at least some gravitas, and at least a little charisma, and Obama, who seemed like a charisma machine with nothing backing it up, and who had sat at the table with vicious homophobes, I gritted my teeth and voted for Clinton in Oklahoma's primary on February 5th.

Since then, a lot has changed. Hillary Clinton's campaign has been so negative, so vicious, so Machiavellian, that it has really turned me off. The suggestion that her slash and burn tactics are designed to engineer a McCain victory so that she can run against him in four years sickens me, because I honestly wouldn't put it past her.

Obama, on the other hand, has shown a great deal of gravitas over the past few months. His speech on race was an exercise in tact, eloquence, and showed an intellectual depth that I haven't seen from any modern politician. The fact that he wrote it himself is further evidence that there's a lot more to him than I had previously thought.

Plus, Obama has reached out to the GLBT community and has mollified most of my concerns about the Donnie McClurkin fiasco.

If I were in Pennsylvania, I would vote for Obama tomorrow. Because of the way Obama has run his campaign, he has shown that behind his charisma, there is indeed a great deal of gravitas. Because of the way Clinton has run her campaign, it is clear that behind her charisma, there is a vicious Machiavellian streak that is quite unsettling, and that undermines whatever gravitas she might have once been able to claim.

In my view, this race is over. Our candidate is Obama. Let's unite behind him, and get to work on defeating John McCain.

Monday loldog

cute puppy pictures
see more cute dogs and puppies

By the way, in case you're confused, my "Happy Friday" posts always contain video, and my "Monday loldog" posts always contain a picture. :-)

Thursday, April 17, 2008

OK legislature overrides Henry's veto of 1878

The legislature has overriden Gov. Henry's veto of an anti-abortion bill. The bill forces doctors to perform ultrasounds before abortions, and "protects" health care providers who refuse to perform abortions.

That's the part that really gets me. If we're going to have laws that give doctors the right to exercise religious or other non-medical bias in deciding what procedures to perform, then we're in for a world of hurt. The decision of whether or not to perform a particular medical procedure should be based only on sound medicine and medical ethics.

For me, though, the bottom line is this: don't we have other things to worry about in this state? Aren't our roads and bridges in state of dangerous disrepair? Aren't our schools underfunded? Can't we do something about our state's shameful record when it comes to food insecurity? Is abortion really the one thing we need to pinpoint right now?

Still, kudos to Gov. Henry for having the chutzpah to veto this bill, even if it did get overridden. I've been pissed at Henry before for signing 1804 and that law that makes it easier to shoot people in public, and this doesn't make up for either of those, but still, kudos are in order here.

Oh, the above link is to an article in The Oklahoman, which is a terrible right-wing shill of a newspaper, but the article gives a pretty good description of what the bill does.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Gaza-Sderot Blog

There's a new blog that started in January written by two people, one of whom is in Sderot, and the other of whom is in Gaza. They communicate with each other and share their experiences on the blog. I recommend taking a look at it.

JStreet

There's a new kid on the block in Israel policy. Organized to be a counter-weight to AIPAC, JStreet is backed by a lot of good people in the progressive Zionist sphere. I reserve judgment on them until I've heard more, but here's their pitch:

I thought you might be interested in this video from J Street, a new pro-peace, pro-Israel political voice:
http://www.jstreet.org/campaigns/a-new-pro-peace-pro-israel-political-voice

And if you'd rather read a short message from J Street, check it out below.
************************
For too long, uncompromising right-wing leaders have imposed their narrow definition of what it means to be "pro-Israel" on American policy, undermining long-term Israeli and American security interests while squashing real debate about America's foreign policy in the Middle East. It is high time that mainstream Americans fought back.

Fight back today with J Street, a new pro-peace, pro-Israel political movement dedicated to a new direction for American foreign policy in the Middle East:
http://www.jstreet.org/signup

Together, we will fight for the best interests of Americans, Israelis, and all residents of the Middle East by forcefully advocating for a truly pro-Israel policy. We will make our case both on Capitol Hill and in the media by seeking (1) a real American commitment to a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and (2) an American policy towards the Middle East based on working with allies and resolving conflicts through diplomacy. Sign up today:
http://www.jstreet.org/signup

Sincerely,
Jeremy, Carinne, Joel, and Isaac
The J Street Team

P.S. If you're on Facebook, join our Facebook group here:
http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=14133986845

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

An attempt at a poem

Consider this a first draft. I used to write poetry all the time when I was younger, but I haven't done it much recently. Last night I watched a fascinating PBS program about Walt Whitman, and it inspired me to attempt to write poetry again. So, without further ado, here's this:

How to write with the unabashed soul of Whitman
when I have an ironclad and cynical intellectual shell
encasing my emotions
To break free of that shell requires
a supreme act of faith and of will
to cast off the
inevitable judgment
How to break free
and yet avoid the
comfortable trappings of cliche
and tired metaphor
How to find a new voice
within the context of all that is
same
stifled by timeclocks
wasting hours staring at the endless television
and slowly dying
everything is convenient
everything is comfortable
everything is compatible
When I was younger
I dreamed dreams
I believed I could change everything
given the right tools
but I had those tools
at least some of them
but I coasted the years away
the tools at my feet
rarely used
because I fell into the lazy ease
of what passes for comfort these days
exciting myself with plastic novelties
like a new couch, tv, or a nice dinner out
but what is the point
when the clock still ticks towards inevitability
and the mind atrophies
how do I write with the unabashed soul of Whitman
when my own soul is lost in static?

More proof that the surge is working

Monday, April 14, 2008

For no particular reason

here's today's Song of the Day:



"Cities in Dust" by Siouxsie and the Banshees

Carter just doesn't get it

And here's a quote that proves why:

“I think there’s no doubt in anyone’s mind that, if Israel is ever going to find peace with justice concerning the relationship with their next-door neighbors, the Palestinians, that Hamas will have to be included in the process,” Carter told U.S. television network ABC News’s “This Week.”


No, Mr. President. You're making the same mistake that Chamberlain made. Hamas is a terrorist organization that should neither be legitimized nor appeased. Meeting with its leaders is a slap in the face to all of those innocent Israelis who have been brutally murdered by suicide bombers and rocket attacks from Gaza. Your profound misunderstanding of the situation on the ground is frankly stunning considering your stature as a global voice for human rights. The only way peace will happen in the Middle East is for extremist elements like Hamas to be marginalized, discredited, and eventually disarmed.

I am, however, pleased that Carter decided to visit Sderot. I am on the Community Relations Council of my local Jewish Federation, and our Shaliach, who is the Israeli representative to the Jewish community here, is from Sderot. Each month, he gives us reports of life under constant threat of rocket attacks. Of how people have to scramble for cover when the "Color Red" alarms go off, giving maybe 20 seconds warning of a rocket attack. Of how rockets can explode anytime, anywhere, whether the warning sirens sound or not. Of how an elementary school has "blue" rooms that are fortified against rockets, and "yellow" rooms that aren't, and how students have to know which color room they're in and where the nearest safe room is. Of how every soccer field has a bomb shelter in it.

All of these things result directly from the official policy of Hamas, whose stated policy is the destruction of Israel and the establishment of an Islamist theocracy in its place.

These are the extremists that Carter wants to legitimize by meeting with their leaders.

No, Mr. President. You don't get it. And I don't blame the Shin Bet for declining to provide you extra security during your visit. Until you wake up and realize that Hamas is the enemy, and only the enemy, you're on your own.

Monday loldog

funny dog pictures
see more loldogs ask - i can has hotdog?

Friday, April 11, 2008

Randi Rhodes and Air America Radio

I listen to Air America Radio at work sometimes. Randi Rhodes was one of my favorite hosts.

Recently, Air America suspended Randi because she said some, shall we say, undiplomatic things about Hillary Clinton and Geraldine Ferraro. Randi has now left Air America radio, and will begin a new show on a local talk radio station in West Palm Beach, Florida, on Monday.

I've been torn about this situation since I heard about it. I was one of the first to jump on Don Imus when he had his little "nappy headed hos" moment. Thus, I had to ask myself whether this situation was different from that one, and if so, how, and, most importantly, should I be angry at Randi, or should I be angry at Air America?

My partner and I came to an interesting conclusion.

Point One: Don Imus gratuitously insulted young, innocent basketball players with absolutely no provocation, using racist, sexist, and otherwise offensive language with no justification whatsoever.

Point Two: Randi Rhodes insulted two public figures who have repeatedly been the butt of satirical jokes and are natural targets given their position of prominence in American politics. She did use offensive language, repeatedly.

Thus, we have a crucial difference here. Don Imus insulted innocent basketball players; Randi Rhodes insulted public figures who are natural targets for political attack.

Was she justified in calling them "fucking whores?" Probably not. But let's keep in mind that she was doing so in the context of a stand-up comedy routine. That puts a spin on it that has to be taken into account. Let's also remember that John McCain had a similar talk show host problem at the end of February, and that right-wing radio hosts regularly spew hateful filth all over the airwaves, and they never lose their jobs.

I think that the conclusion has to be two-fold.

1) Randi Rhodes probably shouldn't have called Clinton & Ferraro "fucking whores," but there is no way that her comments rise to the level of Don Imus or what right wing talk show hosts say on a daily basis.
2) Air America seriously overreacted when they suspended her, and have, as a result, lost one of the most perceptive, intelligent, and entertaining talk show hosts on the air today.

I for one will be listening to Randi's new show on Monday, and I encourage those of you who agree with me to do the same, and to contact Randi and let her know she hasn't lost you as a listener. At the same time, I will continue to listen to Air America radio hosts such as Ed Schultz, Thom Hartmann, and Rachel Maddow, all of whom are wonderfully perceptive and intelligent hosts in their own rights.

Happy Friday

Been a bit of a crazy week. Here's something to think about:

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Spring in Oklahoma

Tornado sirens at 3:00 AM. My favorite thing ever.

Thankfully, it looks like the rotation is not near me. I'm going back to bed in a minute. Of course, I won't sleep; the rotation may not be near me, but I will be hearing the big nasty thunderstorm with all the thunder, lightning, and baseball-sized hail.

Fun.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Tulsa Kossack proves how a red state republican can turn blue

Interesting diary from a fellow Tulsan about a personal political transformation. I'd post highlights of it, but I think it's better if you just click the link, read it, and post your own comments to it.

Monday loldog

funny dog pictures
see more loldogs ask - i can has hotdog?

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Friday, April 4, 2008

Obama's speech today on MLK assassination anniversary

Two things really stood out to me:

...he had seen that Americans have "the capacity," as he said that night, "to project the 'I' into the 'thou.'" To recognize that no matter what the color of our skin, no matter what faith we practice, no matter how much money we have – no matter whether we are sanitation workers or United States Senators – we all have a stake in one another, we are our brother's keeper, we are our sister's keeper, and "either we go up together, or we go down together."


This paragraph touches on something that's profoundly wrong with the politics of the reactionaries and ultra-capitalist libertarians on the far-right fringe who control so much of the political dialogue, especially in certain parts of the country, like Oklahoma. They believe in a politics of opting out, of "why should I pay taxes for X to help this other person with Y? It doesn't affect me." For example, "Why should my taxes go to help someone on welfare? Why don't they just go get a job?" Well, I don't know why "they," this mystery person who's sucking your money out of your pockets, doesn't go and "get a job," but I'll bet you that if "they" had a little help, they'd be more likely to do so, if they could. This is a politics that says, "I am an island. I control everything in my life, so you should control everything in your life, and leave me alone." The fact is that we're not islands, and the actions of one do affect the lives of many. If you pay taxes to help someone else through a difficult patch without a job, and that person is then able to get a job because of the help that your taxes provided, that person then becomes a productive member of society, helping to lift the economy for all of us. Even looking at it from a purely capitalist "self-interest" position, it makes a lot more economic sense to provide a safety net for people than to simply let people starve. The more we help the poor to succeed, the more they contribute to the economy, thereby creating more jobs, more opportunity, and more profit. Someone in the gutter with no way to get out doesn't do anything for the economy.

That's what Obama is saying here - we've all got to realize that we're a part of something greater, and that the politics of "I am an island" do not work.

Then of course, Obama got out his pen and wrote this in the "Great American Quote Book,"
You know, Dr. King once said that the arc of the moral universe is long, but that it bends toward justice. But what he also knew was that it doesn't bend on its own. It bends because each of us puts our hands on that arc and bends it in the direction of justice.

So on this day – of all days – let's each do our part to bend that arc.

Let's bend that arc toward justice.

Let's bend that arc toward opportunity.

Let's bend that arc toward prosperity for all.

And if we can do that and march together – as one nation, and one people – then we won't just be keeping faith with what Dr. King lived and died for, we'll be making real the words of Amos that he invoked so often, and "let justice roll down like water and righteousness like a mighty stream."


Nicely done, sir.

Sinister Quote

Some of you may have noticed that I've put a quote at the top of the blog. This quote will change every so often, when I get around to it. At the moment, it's a pretty funny one from Terry Pratchett's book Interesting Times. Click the quote and it'll take you to the Wikiquote page where I found it. :-)

New Gas Prices Widget - How are Gas Prices Affecting You?

Look on the top of the blog for a new widget monitoring Tulsa's gas prices.

With gas prices as high as they are, my partner and I are having to make some real changes to the way we drive. For example:

1) I'm driving the speed limit or below at all times. If you knew me, you'd know why this is a major change. Nothing to see here, officer... ;-)
2) I'm not coming home at lunch to walk my dog. I had been doing this every day, but I just can't justify the cost anymore. The good news is that Wendy (my dog) is perfectly housebroken, so she's completely fine without a mid day walk.

Even with these changes, our cost for gas is still higher than we'd like it to be. I spend at least $100 a month on gas, and I'm sure my partner spends the same, if not more. Yet it doesn't make any sense for either of us to sell a car and start taking the bus, because we still need both cars. That's the problem with living in a city without decent public transit. We can take the bus in a limited way, but it still costs more to ride the bus to any given point in Tulsa than the comparable cost in gas.

Two major things have changed for us though because of gas prices.

1) We were planning a trip to Hot Springs, Arkansas at the beginning of May, but it now looks like that won't happen. I just can't justify spending more than $100 on gas roundtrip.

2) We're also contemplating flying to Dallas in June, rather than driving (we're going down to see Eddie Izzard - w00t!). Since we have my dad's travel privileges from his days at American Airlines, it's actually cheaper to fly and rent a car than it is to drive down there. Flying and renting a car, unfortunately, means that we won't get to go to Ikea while we're there and buy the dresser we wanted.

I know these seem like minor problems, but think of them in the larger context of the economy. If people like us, who are double income no kids, and theoretically have good sums of disposable income (though in reality we're on a tighter budget than we probably should be due to various factors), are putting off trips and not spending money in the economy because of gas prices, then what are people who are on really tight budgets doing?

How are gas prices affecting you?

Happy Friday!



No, it's pining for the fjords!

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Sinister Radio canceled

I'm going to have to re-think the whole podcast / radio thing. I think I'd prefer a format where I can record over myself if necessary.

Stay tuned.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

A Sinister Endorsement for McCain

For a long time now, I've been really concerned about the bickering in the Democratic race, so much so that I've been reluctant to pick a candidate. It seems clear to me now that neither candidate is willing to unite the Democratic Party around a coherent platform of change. Therefore, my only recourse is to endorse McCain.

John McCain is a seasoned leader whose decades of public service have prepared him amply for the position of Commander-in-Chief.

God, even writing this makes me a little nauseous. Why don't I just say "April Fools" now and save us all the heartburn?

;-)