Wednesday, May 30, 2012

A True Conservative Speaks His Mind

Barry Goldwater was a truer representative of traditional Conservatism than those who claim the mantle today.  Read and learn...

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

An eventful weekend

Anyone who says there isn’t anything to do in Cleveland hasn’t dug deeply enough. Dan & I had a wonderful Memorial Day weekend.
Dan and I planned to go to the Cleveland Aquarium Saturday, but we discovered parking in the Flats was packed due to the annual Rib Fest. Reasoning that the Aquarium could wait for another day, we headed down to Tremont for a delicious lunch at Fat Cats. Tremont reminds me of some parts of Boston, and I like the close knit, slightly gritty quality of the place – which is at once urban and relaxed. Tremont is highly walkable, which is something communities must strive to be if they are to be successful in the future. If Dan and I didn’t work in the Eastern suburbs, we would call a place like Tremont home. 

From there, we headed to A Christmas Story House and Museum. I was only marginally aware of The Christmas Story until about ten years ago – I knew the movie was about Christmas and that part of it had been filmed in Cleveland. Although only the exteriors of the house were filmed in Tremont, the interior has been decorated to look similar to the film, with period furnishings and appliances. Two items that caught my attention were the wall phone with the number on the nameplate (incorrectly formatted as 216-298-4919, when back in the day it would not have included the area code and the number would read as CYpress8-4919), and the mixer in the kitchen. During the blackout of 2003, I had an old phone like this and it was the only way to make a call when the cell phone stations failed and cordless phones didn’t run without power. As for the mixer, I have one of a similar vintage which still works fine. They truly built things to last in those days, although my 70 year old electric metronome is definitely on its’ last legs.

Sunday, we went to see The Dictator. While not as screamingly funny as Borat, the humor was topical and the film engaging. I am reminded of W. C. Field’s axiom: We are here not only to entertain but to illuminate.

Monday was South Euclid’s Memorial Day Parade. Mason and I walked with several friends from FIDO. A particularly muggy morning, Mason really felt the heat. It was the first time I’d ever seen him walk with his tail down – I’m unsure whether it was because of the heat or the Brush High School band playing at full volume behind us – but he soldiered on like a champion and took a long nap that afternoon.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Why Conservatives should support same-sex marriage

It falls to a Brit, David Cameron, to explain why true Conservatives - as opposed to the phony Conservatives who have taken over the American Republican party - should support gay marrige.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Obama endorses same-sex marriage...

President Obama has come out in favor of marriage equality. While this announcement is a long time coming, and one can fairly be skeptical of why it took the President so long to make this endorsement, one cannot overlook that this is unprecedented: No President in American history has ever been in favor of marriage equality while in office. Even Bill Clinton waited until he’d been out of office a decade before he publicly stated his support for same-sex marriage.

Let us not delude ourselves that any great change on the issue will take place anytime soon. Indeed, President Obama’s announcement came one day after voters in North Carolina voted a venal anti-marriage amendment into their state constitution. The President has also stated that he believes the issue is best left to the states to decide for themselves, which is the most realistic approach for now but not in the long term. Repealing DOMA is simply not possible with the current House of Representatives. Passing a bill affirming same-sex marriage across the board in all 50 states would be difficult even with Democratic control of both the House and Senate. Fact is, often Congress is behind the people on civil rights issues – not ahead. Both bodies skew older and whiter than the populace as a whole – and support for civil rights is generational. In the short term, Obama’s announcement amounts to little tangible change, although the symbolic importance is considerable and may help change attitudes in some segments of the Democratic party that are not LGBT friendly. Ultimately, it will probably be up to the Supreme Court to resolve this issue, which is all the more reason to support Obama – not just in the ballot box, but in the campaign preceding election day.

To be sure, Obama’s decision to announce his support for marriage equality (he reportedly decided to support it months ago, and was looking for the right time to announce) is a gamble. It will certainly serve to fire-up the opposition – not that they were going to vote for him anyway. It will also ignite enthusiasm along his left flank, which has felt disaffected by his lack of action on a range of items from Guantanamo, prosecution of members of the Bush administration for war crimes, pursuit of single-payer healthcare – and until now same sex marriage. Many on the left were contemplating staying home on Election day – and one’s core base should never be taken for granted. That’s a lesson Obama had to painfully learn in 2010. So, Obama’s announcement is not an unwarranted or unprecedented gamble.

Travel back in time with me to 1948.

The Democrats, who had been in the White House since 1933, had been punished in the 1946 mid-term elections – with Republicans gaining control of both houses of Congress. Harry Truman was an unpopular President, with an approval rating of 39% in May of 1948. The Cold War was heating up, with those on Truman’s left accusing him of being a warmonger, while Republicans called him “soft” on Communism. Truman’s executive order desegregating the military and endorsement of a broad-based civil rights bill prompted Southern Democrats to break with the party and walk out of the Democratic National Convention – soon thereafter creating the Dixiecrat party with Strom Thurmond as their Presidential candidate. (Thurmond became a Republican in 1964.) Left-wingers had already created their own party: The Progressive party, with former Vice-President Henry Wallace at the head of the ticket.

Under these circumstances, no one thought Truman would win in 1948 – save for Truman himself. While the Republican nominee, New York Governor Thomas E. Dewey ran a safe campaign and spoke in broad platitudes, Truman spoke bluntly of the issues facing the country and how he would stand up for working Americans – whatever their color. Truman reminded Americans that they were all in the same boat, and would sink or swim together. More to the point, Truman cautioned that electing Dewey would mean a return to an unregulated economy and the “boom and bust cycle just like we had in the 1920s, that will end with a crash – which in the long run will do nobody any good but the Communists”.

Political polling was in its infancy then, and pollsters closed up shop weeks before the election - believing Americans had already made up their minds and would elect Dewey. Truman had the last laugh on election day. He had stood his ground, spoken bluntly, and won anyway by swinging enough undecideds to him.

In the end, it doesn’t matter whether Obama endorsed same-sex marriage for reasons of politics or reasons of principle. Nor did it matter whether Truman desegregated the military and recognized Israel out of conviction or to court African-American and Jewish voters. Truman’s and Obama’s respective actions moved history forward. Even if Obama loses the 2012 election, he can take comfort that he was on the right side of history. 

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

The bigots of North Carolina are hardly unique

North Carolina’s Amendment One - forbidding same-sex marriage, civil unions, and domestic partnerships - has passed. I can’t say I’m surprised at the vote - I expected it. One would be tempted to snark that this is the South, after all - and the vote passed in a state where first-cousin marriage is still legal. But Ohio passed a similar amendment in 2004. While acceptance of same-sex marriage has grown over the last eight years, I doubt Ohio’s amendment will be overturned here anytime soon. The sad truth must be told: North Carolina and Ohio are hardly outliers - there are only a handful of states where LGBT people have full and equal rights.

No matter how one wants to idealize certain areas as gay havens - whether it’s a gay ghetto like San Francisco’s Castro or a gay friendly state like Vermont - the truth is that prejudice and bigotry exist in every area of American life. Hate crimes occur in Provincetown every summer.  The percentage of welcoming vs. unwelcoming people might be different, but bigots are everywhere - and I write from personal experience. This is not going to change anytime soon. Just as there are some Caucasians who use the N-word in private conversation with other Whites 48 years after the Civil Right Act of 1964 was passed, so too will there be people who make “fag” jokes no matter what gains we make legislatively or judicially. Of course, many will tell you that Tuesday’s vote does not reflect bigotry, but Judeo-Christian principles. The use of a holy book to justify bigotry, whether that book is the Christian Bible, the Torah, or the Quran, is the last refuge of the bigots - just as patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel. These books have been used to justify slavery, the ownership of women, and holy war. The repression of LGBT people is no different. But whether bigotry can be “justified” is beside the point. For we are not seeking society’s approval or affection.

Ultimately, I don’t care whether someone “likes” or “approves” of me - although they are presumptuous to believe I necessarily approve of them. But as a citizen of the United States I demand my civil rights, and I will not rest until they are won.

*President Obama has just announced that he now supports full marriage rights for same-sex couples.  More on this in another post.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Barney Frank - Plain Speaking

"Any gay or lesbian person with any self-respect should not be voting for any of the Republicans, including Mitt Romney, who made the degrading comment in one of the recent debates about how he kept Massachusetts from being the Las Vegas of gay marriage, kind of cheapening this very profound thing for us. This is a faker who in 1994, when he was trying to beat Ted Kennedy in a different era, said 'Oh, I’ll be better than him on gay rights,' and of course he’s been outrageous.

"In fact in 2004, when the Massachusetts Supreme Court had ruled in favor of gay rights, there was an effort in the state Legislature to overturn it. Mitt Romney led a fight against a whole lot of legislators who had courageously voted with us to uphold gay marriage, and he tried very hard to defeat them. I think he gave the business I’m in a bad name. He is the most unprincipled, dishonest, intellectually flexible guy I’ve seen. There does not appear to be any public policy to which he’s committed." - Rep. Barney Frank, in an interview with Palms Springs' Desert Outlook.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Mittens, the cowardly hypocrite

What a disingenuous little creep Willard Mitt Romney is. Of course, anyone who endured the four years he was governor of Massachusetts will know this weasel will take any side on any issue to covet power. Romney’s term in the Bay State was one of the few times I haven’t regretted my decision to return to Ohio. Mitt truly has no principles, aside from wantonly and unapologetically engaging in animal abuse.

The latest example of Romney’s duplicity was his pooh-poohing President Obama’s decision to order the raid against Osama bin Laden - as if Romney has ever had to make a similar decision. Of course, Romney wants you to forget that he repeatedly stated his opposition to such a raid. Now, he’s trying to backpedal: “of course” he was for the raid all along. Romney topped it off by saying that “even Jimmy Carter” would have ordered last May’s raid on Bin Laden. I’ve no doubt that Carter would have ordered the raid. It was, after all, President Carter who authorized Operation Eagle Claw to rescue the Iranian hostages in 1980. The operation was a failure due to circumstances utterly beyond his control - the weather. But he took the responsibility and the blame nevertheless. Because that’s what leader do. That’s the difference between Jimmy Carter and pip-squeaks like Romney.

What too few people know is that Carter spent 10 years in the US Navy, eventually rising to the rank of Lieutenant. Carter, like many of his generation, answered the call to serve his country during World War II. Unlike many, he didn’t quit the military as soon as the war ended - he continued to serve until his father’s death compelled him to return to the family farm in Georgia in 1953. Why don’t many Americans know of Carter’s service? Simple: he never felt the need to boast about it.

What was Romney doing during the same period of his life? Avoiding service in Vietnam by taking draft deferments so he could canvas in France on behalf of his weird magical underwear cult.

Mittens certainly has nothing to teach Jimmy Carter about integrity, bravery, or decisiveness.
(Graphic by Josh Gilbert)