Friday, October 31, 2008

Hate Crimes on the Rise

On Page A4 of the SF Chronicle on 10/28/08 in the Digest section, the article screams "Hate Crimes Against Gays, Lesbians Rise". Here it is:

WASHINGTON- Hate crime incidents decreased slightly last year, despite a surge in crimes targeting gays and lesbians.
The FBI reported more than 7,600 hate crimes incidents in 2007, down about 1 percent from the previous year. The decline was driven by decreases in the two largest categories of hate crimes- crimes against race and religion. But prejudice against sexual orientation, the third-largest category, increased about 6 percent, the report found.

I'm really glad that racial and religious hate crimes are down. It's about time.

But I have to ask myself why crimes against LGBTQ are up? Is there something going on that might stir up public contempt? Particularly in the less stable, impulsive, violent, antisocial types out there?

Ok, Palin wasn't around when these incidents were occurring, so I can't blame her. But Palin types have been around forever. The "I oppose gay marriage" but love the gays mentality.

Remember when "love the sinner, hate the sin" was big? One big ol' justification for continuing your homophobia, your bigotry and your discriminatory beliefs.

I've always felt that politicians, religious leaders and other people in positions of authority who use their power to whip up divisive attitudes, were also responsible for the loonies out there who use the words of the President, or the Pope, or the Fox news commentator, to justify in that split second, the use of violence and oppression to solve their own emotional problems.

Un-American sentiments, expressed recently by the "Yes on 8" people in California, are wrong. If you are "Yes on 8", you bear the blood of every person in those numbers who was harmed or killed by a fringe nut empowered by your beliefs. Deal with it.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

The Diva

I can't take it anymore.

Every tarted up appearance, every faked "Joe the Plummer" inflection, every attack on Obama's character...has baited me into yet another blog about the bee-yatch from Alaska.

I've written about how the right wing mob is so easily susceptible to idol worship before. I'm going to write a "So you want to go into politics" how-to blog soon where I discuss the basic things you need to do to run a campaign in the US. Beginning with saying the words "I love Jesus" and ending with something about "family values". This strategy is guaranteed to work, no matter your true ethical standards, behaviors or beliefs. Just say the words "gays are inferior to us all" or "abortion is murder" and you are virtually guaranteed to lock up the fundamentalist base. They don't think. They invest their full faith in you no matter how corrupt, narcissistic or phony you really are. It's part of the training.

But Sarah Palin really takes the cake.

Ok, she's so "pro-family" right? Can somebody explain to me how any mother could abandon her "special needs" child during the first year of life, particularly when we all know that later bonds are established during these first few months and perhaps even more so with a child who needs extra love and support? What does this say about this woman's true beliefs? She flew on a long flight after her water broke, during a time in her pregnancy that most physicians would caution against flying.

Now, normally, I say let's not bring the candidate's children into our discussions. BUT, in this case, this is a woman who regularly brings her judgment to what other families should look like. She injects her own purported religious belief system into the political dialogue, obviously attempting to win points with the voters, regardless of whose civil rights are affected or which hate groups she stirs up.

So, a woman who believes in family values, who has a baby with Down's syndrome and a pregnant teen daughter, who are likely in great need for a close bond with their mother at important times in their lives, chooses to forego her role as mother to run for national political office.

So I'm thinking if she REALLY believes in family values first, wouldn't you think that she'd want to be there for both her children with high needs at the moment? And also, if she were self-aware, wouldn't you think she'd say to herself "I am a rising star in this party, but I'm not quite ready for national office, maybe given my family situation at the moment, I'd better pass on McCain's offer"?

To me, her personal choices speak volumes. This woman uses her religion affiliations to further her political ambitions. She chooses to use hateful, divisive attack speech on the stump to further her career rather than bringing the values of a real mother to the campaign. Perhaps that's why she's not convinced the majority of women that she's the right choice for them. Something about her doesn't ring true. She's a true diva, concerned with only herself, her appearance and her career.

She's the epitomy of hypocrisy.

From Jay Leno: "According to a recent poll, 61 percent of people surveyed said that they'd rather see Sarah Palin in a bikini than Pamela Anderson. Although 99 percent said they'd rather see Pamela Anderson as vice president."

Saturday, October 25, 2008

You won't believe it!!

This has got to be one of the funniest videos about the campaign I've seen.  An Obama-McCain DANCE off!!!

Friday, October 24, 2008

Opie and Richie go for Obama!!

Ron Howard shows his support for an amazingly funny way.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Christian Shame

Here in California, we're fighting for basic civil rights.

Yep, some people out here think that it's not only the right thing to do to stop gays from marrying, but it's the Christian thing to do.

Ok, I get that religious fanatics are threatened to the core by social acceptance of me and my husband.  I get that their rabid homophobia is irrational, emotional and reeks of their own disturbed and fragile sexual identities.

What I don't get is:

(a) how come as an adult, tax paying, professional, responsible, peaceful person in the United States of America, my full civil rights to marry the person I choose is up for a simple majority vote?  Huh?  Liberty and justice for all?  What kind of crap is this?  Why don't I get to vote on which straight people get to marry?  I'd have definitely stopped George the first and Barbara from tying the knot and probably would've stepped in between whoever Karl Rove's parents were.


(b) how the Catholic Church (and other right wing religious groups) continues to get away with blatant political activity without losing its tax-exempt status.  I mean, isn't one of the reasons that churches don't have to pay taxes is that they promise not to pursue a political agenda from the pulpit?  If they truly believe in the virtue of honesty, wouldn't you think that they would relinquish that status so that they could pursue their political activity with integrity? Ok, so back to the Christian thing. 

It's one thing to fight for tradition.  Tradition can be a great thing, a comforting thing.  Like canning peaches from  your own tree or following in the family business footsteps.

But to blatantly ignore everything modern science and culture has to say about homosexuality in favor of antiquated and twisted logic and beliefs blows my mind.  Have we learned nothing from our history of exploiting and oppressing other minorities?

Let's just say, for argument, that homosexuals DO choose their lifestyles (which they don't). Isn't this a free country?  So it makes Father Pedophile uncomfortable to have to look at a proud and out gay man who makes no apologies- does this give him the right to make church policy?  What does give him the right to sit in judgment of me and the people I choose to love?

One day, the church WILL apologize for how they are behaving now.  Just like they had to apologize for their role in the Holocaust and for their treatment of priest abuse victims who were ignored for years, the church will eventually have to admit that their 21st century treatment of gay people was wrong and harmful.

Politicians who use my civil rights as a "wedge" issue to divide voters will be remembered one day just like the racists of the the past who felt so comfortable in their "rightness" about separation of the races, they promoted their support for oppression of minorities in campaign ads.  Jesse Helms and Strom Thurmond's political records will forever be tainted with their reputation as racist bigots, doomed to the tiniest of footnotes if at all.  

I'm no angel.  I make mistakes.

But I do try to live up to some standards.  I learned a lot about Christianity from the inside, growing up in my fundamentalist family.  I learned for example, that judgment of others is reserved only for God.  That means that when I want to get really angry at someone, particularly someone I don't really know,  I try to keep myself from going too far with that snap assessment I just made.  Just because I might not agree with someone, like John McCain or Sarah Palin, for example, it doesn't mean that I want to take away their rights or assume that my way is the only way.  I also suffer when I am not being sincere or genuine.  Something inside me screams "you're a fake! you're a fake!" and I have to eventually stop the charade.  It's like that virtue thing again- not lying.  I take that very seriously.

The stories of a peaceful, loving Jesus were the most moving and memorable to me from those times.  Amidst all the hell fire and brimstone sermons, there were these pearls of beauty. Stories of Jesus healing and inspiring and accepting.  Jesus hung out with prostitutes and thieves and challenged anyone to cast the first stone.

My problem is that the Christian church seems to have veered way off that path.  The church is a place to go to validate  your prejudices, to feel "ok" about your judging and to hear little sermons that justify your fear of strangers and your self-righteous take on life.

It's hard to try to live up to those standards I learned about as a child in Sunday School.  It's particularly hard to continue to show compassion and peace and to love my neighbor when they put up "Yes on 8" signs in their yards.  

Yet, I will continue to try to turn the other cheek and to show love to them even when they show so little love to me.  If they come to me for advice, I will give it.  If they come for food, I'll feed them.

Being a real Christian must be hard.

And lonely.

What a shame.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Firenze to Venice

Florence had a different pace. The hotel Albani was much better than the Ludovisi in Rome. The room was bigger and much more comfortable and the hotel had a gym! Believe it or not Brad and I both worked out yesterday! Combination of lots os pasta,pizza and gelato plus guilt I guess.

Florence felt more like a real working city and less of a tourist trap than Rome. Loved the quick tour of the Uffizzi Gallery but not really enough time to enjoy the Michaelangelio's or Leonardo works.

The David was breathtaking. Photos could not do it justice. I remember as a teen becoming facisnated with this period in history and been blown away by the attention to detail and perfect proportion of the forms arising from a block of white marble.

The sense of delicacy and life emerging from the masterpiece were almost too much. A metaphor for me perhaps of a life carved out of the stoney place I grew up. Not enough time to take it all in. Pictures are only shadows.

Michaelangelio's vision that the work was trapped already inside the block of stone and needed to be freed of the extra marble around it sounds familiar. Makes me want to continue chipping away at the unnecessary chunks of life that get in the way.Peeling away the nonessential and hanging on to the present.

On to Venice.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Ciao bella!

I'm on a bus on the way to Pisa this morning. The guide says the famous tower doesn't lean as much now. There goes the hope that I will be the one who gets to scream "Look out!" as it finally topples over after centuries of.slowly struggling with gravity.

We spent four fantastic days in Rome doing everything touristy you can imagine. This was the trip to touch the Coloseum,gaze at the Forum and look for the hammer marks on the Pieta left by a mad man.

Yesterday's drive through the Tuscan countryside was spectacular as was our favorite stop at the perfectly preserved midievil town of San Gimignano with the seven towers on top of a hill.

I'm starting to feel the energy here. There's an appreciation for history for style and for the here and now.

I can't describe really the feeling when you listen to stories about a simple stone structure built THOUSANDS of years before the US even existed. I feel so silly!

Sunday, October 5, 2008


Check out Tina Fey's brilliant take on Sarah Palin's VP Debate performance!

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Italy on my mind

Brad and I are heading to Rome in three days.

It's the first time for both of us in Europe so we're totally excited. I think we've both been on buying sprees for everything from new jeans to new boxer briefs to even a new fabulous Tumi upright. What does the sophisticated American wear in October in Italy?

Thank goodness, we live in an Italian ancestry-heavy part of California. Just this evening, we hit a hip birthday/housewarming party at Dana and Dan's house- pretty much Little Italy of the Peninsula. Everyone there, at least on Dana's side of the family had their own lovely story of the wonders we're about to enjoy. Multiple generations of Italian mothers and daughters with at least one father and son. A good time was had by all.

Brad is half Italian and half Irish while I'm pretty much Irish and mutt. Brad's mother was a DiBennedetti.

We didn't really have too many Italians in Forest City when I was growing up. We only had the movies and TV to tell us what Italian-Americans were like- not always flattering. I imagined that they all had Bronx accents and ate only pasta with red wine.

My experiences here in California have given me a broader perspective. Here are my observations:

Italian Americans are fun. They love to laugh. They love to cry (especially Erin when she's had a few cocktails...LOL). The love to argue and they love to make up.

The men are good at conversation. The women are strong, beautiful and funny (e.g. Dana, Marilyn and Erin). They all have opinions, and will defend them to the death, but they respect your right to defend yours to the death.

They have great skin, which makes them look younger than they really are. Or maybe they look younger because they act young and know how to laugh.

You can feel the passion about Italy. You can sense that there's a pride in identifying with a culture that is so rich and has contributed so much to the world in terms of art, style, and amore.

It's really exciting to think about visiting the place that brought us fine wine, great food, sleek fashion and Italian Americans.

If it's half as wonderful as was described tonight, I may not want to come home.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Winning by not F**king up

How do they do it? The king makers, I mean.

W never met a debate he won. I mean, let's be real- the man is an idiot! If substance and stature were the criteria for which we judge debates, there wouldn't be a Republican winner in decades.

When did the bar get set so low though that just showing up qualifies in the spin machine as a "win"?

Ok, granted, Sarah (or Caribou Barbie as Stephanie Miller puts it) didn't faint or scream "fuck you Obama!!" or stammer awkwardly into the camera like Cindy Brady on the school quiz show, but come on!! She didn't answer half the questions, choosing instead to insert the five or six talking points that she's finally managed to memorize extolling the greatness of her "maverick" John McCain.

She did not look presidential or vice presidential.
She didn't reveal substance or a command of the issues.

Was she sympathetic? No, but I did pity her for exposing the fact that she doesn't know that she's not qualified.

She comes across as someone with a mighty high opinion of herself. No, I've never studied the Constitution, and no, I don't actually know what the Constitution says about the office of the vice president, but gosh darn, I believe in myself!! One too many pageants if you ask me.

The only really interesting point in the debate was her answer about gay marriage.

So she made it clear that she does not support same sex marriage, but in a sly but brilliant move, Biden nudged her into a corner when he commented that what he thought he heard her say was that she supported full equal rights for gay couples. She flustered her response, essentially agreeing that they both didn't support MARRIAGE for gays, but supported full equal rights.

Although overlooked in the post-debate chatter I watched, I wondered in the moment what her right wing, strongly anti-gay supporters might be thinking. After all, her appeal for McCain was her appeal to the base. The base is not "tolerant" of gays (her word), they want to see us disappear.

By acknowledging that she has gay friends and that she agrees that full civil rights are in order, she flies in the face of James Dobson, who wants us "cured" and homophobes everywhere who want to encode discrimination into law. What will they say tomorrow I wonder- that her remarks were a mistake?

And if she really does feel that way, does that mean she's not the monster I've been imagining? Is she just a poor, misguided pawn of the McCain/Rove/Bush political machine whose perhaps promising career will be destroyed in a matter of weeks?

Ok, I started out hating her and everything she stands for. But now, I actually do feel sorry for her. She's trying her hardest. Someone told her that she was ready before her time.

When they lose in a few weeks, McCain goes back to the Senate where he will face the colleagues that he has thrown to the wolves. The "maverick" will be a joke.

Sarah Palin will go back to Alaska. And Tina Fey will go back to 30 Rock.