Monday, November 24, 2008

Bye bye Detroit

The American Auto industry is in trouble. A lot of people think t he only way it can be saved is by entering Chapter 11, which will allow it to re-negotiate with its creditors, most notably the unions. But Congress is not going to do anything that will allow the auto companies to void union contracts. Union members, as we always do (I'm not in the UAW but I am a member of the PSC, which is part of the AFT, which is affiliated with the AFL-CIO--lots of letters there) believe they have "given up enough." They insist that it's time for management to give something up. But it's no secret that it's labor and pension costs that are dragging the Big Three down. Yes, they are very poorly managed--Rick Wagoner has got to go--but it is pensions that have to go. But if the auto giants default on their pensions the Pension Benefit Guarantee Corporation will take them over and hundreds of thousands of retirees will see their retirement income fall significantly. Taking money from old people is never something Congress feels good about, and taking money from unions is something we democrats don't come to naturally.

So a bailout is the only way. But congress can't get a bailout together. Republicans want to see the unions busted, and enough democrats are either on their side or too gun-shy to vote for yet another unpopular bailout. Yes, they know that the old axiom that what's good for GM is good for the country still hold true: but they also know that people are saying enough is enough.

And the only thing I'm really worried about is how all this is going to effect NASCAR.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Kristalnacht, Part II

Last week, California constitutionally banned gay marriage. Today Gay Marriage became legal in Connecticut. Thank God there is some justice in the world somewhere.

Like a lot of people who were ecstatic over Senator Obama’s presidential win last week, I’ve had a hard time coming to grips with the passage of Prop 8. My outrage is difficult to contain, my dismay difficult to bear. That the sate I lvoe and call home could do something so heinous makes me wonder whether it's all worth it. Life I mean. The news that the large turnout of black and Hispanic voters likely doomed gay marriage is even more discouraging. The oppressed become the oppressor. It is so sickening. And the news that out of state money, mostly coming from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, largely funded the measure is more outrageous still. I don't preach any kind of revenge--we cannot become oppressors ourselves--but what the LDS church did, it seems to me, must be illegal in a nation where church and state are supposed to be separate.

I am in the process right now of writing a screenplay inspired by the marriage of the mother of my good friend Joyce to her long time partner Lee this past summer. Only now I don’t have an ending. I am certainly sorry now that I finally changed my registration to New York. I wish I could have cast my actual vote against Prop 8, even in a losing effort.

Long time readers of this blog, and those who have purchased my book, will remember that in 2004 when this came up I compared being Gay in America right now to being Jewish in Germany in 1933. This is not hyperbole. It’s not about concentration camps. There has been legislation passed officially stripping them of a basic human right, just like happened to Jews in Germany. The minute you single out a group of people, based simply upon who they are, and say “you don’t have the rights the rest of us have,” you have started down that road to oppression, be it miscegenation in the South in the 1920s or in Germany in the 1930s or anti gay marriage laws in California, Arizona, or anywhere else today: you are committing a crime against humanity. We have people in Iraq dying for something we blithely call “freedom” while here at home we are taking freedoms away from people because we don’t like their lifestyle. How can we look at ourselves in the mirror and not see the hypocrites we have become? Freedom? Not in California, thank you very much. Move to Connecticut. You can be free there.

How more cruel can you be than to say to someone “you don’t get to marry the person you love?” I mean really!

To me it all comes down to this: a friend of mine posted on his blog that he knows a woman with a sixteen year old Lesbian daughter. She had been very active in the No on 8 campaign, as had her whole family. When Prop 8 passed she locked herself in her bedroom, in tears (I don’t know if she’s emerged yet. A lot of heartless people will look at that and say “she’s sixteen. She doesn’t know what she is yet, and besides, locking themselves in their bedrooms is what sixteen year old girls do.” Maybe. But imagine being sixteen years old and being legislated against. Imagine being sixteen years old and having the people of your state say officially, constitutionally, that you don’t matter; that you can have your rights stripped from you simply because of who you are; that you are not a full citizen; that you can be oppressed. How would that make you feel.

I was already furious with the ignorant bigots who passed this hateful and oppressive ban. But if for no other reason than the tears of that sixteen year old girl, they should be tarred, feathered, and run out of California on a rail (and I only put it that way to be charitable).

For shame!!!!!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008


Last week after the election I said I was sad because my mom, who voted the 2nd amendment ticket right down the line, didn't watch the elections returns and didn't get to see the euphoria over us having elected a black president. Mom went to great pains to remind me that she'd voted for Shirley Chisholm in 1972. Point mom.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Dancing in the Streets

There is dancing in the streets in New York City.

At one in the morning there was yelling and cheering.

Horns were honking.

I cannot remember feeling this inspired or elated. This must be how people felt when Regan was elected.

As devastated as New Yorkers were on this day four years ago, their happiness today is greater still.

The physical sensation I felt when Olberman made the call last night, a tingling all up and down my body, a feeling of complete euphoria, took me totally by surprise.

This is not another presidential win. This is FDR or Regan. This is the return from the wilderness. It is political salvation.

The greatest expression I can think of of how big this is here in NYC, to me and mine, is the fact that I could not find a newspaper this morning. I checked at my bodega and all the news stands around work. They were all gone--all of them. The Times, the Post, the Daily News, Newsday, even the Sun. Every daily had been snatched up at six am the minute they hit the stand, according to one vendor I talked to. It's not all a bunch of guys trying to cash in on a collectible on EBAY. It's that people want a souvenir of what might be the most monumental day of their lives.

So, yeah, I'm happy. Not totally though. Prop 8 in California, designed to overturn the state's Gay Marriage law, won. That makes me sick to my stomach. There is no excuse for that kind of bigotry. The people who supported Prop 8 said they were protecting traditional marriage. From what? People who love each other? My friend Joycee's mom, a dear dear woman, married her long term partner a month after the Supreme Court legalized it this past spring. They are not a threat to anybody. It is infuriating, the way conservative Christians try to force their beliefs down everybody else's throats. It only proves once again that Gays are the new Jews: second class citizens whom it is perfectly ok to discriminate against. I am so sorry at this moment that I finaly changed my registration to NYC this year. For shame, California! Shame on you!!!

I am really sorry for my mom (who will probably read this). She seems quite distraught over the election--about as distraught as I was in 2004, which was devastating. I so wanted her to understand that this may well be the finest moment in the last 100 years of American history. As a black man said on MSNBC last night "from now on when I tell my children they can grow up to be president I'll be telling the truth." This is the validation of the Emancipation Proclamation and the Voting Rights Act. It is certainly the greatest moment of my life time. I don't think I've felt this good about anything political since the Berlin Wall came down. No, not even then. Only my personal achievements, like graduation, rank with this, but those were personal, just for me: this is our nation. It is the world. It is everybody. I wish mom could see and feel that.

I'm also sorry for my girlfriend's Aunt Shirley. On Monday Night Aunt Shirley was named Keith Olberman's "Worst Person in the World" for refusing to give Halloween candy to the children of Obama supporters. Some fifteen minutes. I don't think she is having a very good way (but we are laughing our asses off).

Ok, so in the end it was about race after all.

For 21 months we have been told that the Obama campaign was not about race. Well last night MSNBC finally tore the cover off of that lie. It was about race. It was about race and redemption and redress and reparation. And it was beautiful.

It started with Chris Mathews being almost giddy about how different America would be if we could elect a black president. It continued with the interviews of black leaders about how important the moment was. But the true moment, and the one that frankly shocked me, was when Olberman made the call and they spent more than five minutes cutting from location to location to cover the cheering. It was like watching the ball drop on New Years Eve. And every where they cut, from Times Square to Grant Park in Chicago to a college in Georgia to a black congregation to Rockefeller Center, you saw the crowds of people jumping up and down and screaming, as expected, but you also saw people of color in stunned disbelief, weeping, singing, falling to the ground in relief or in prayer. One of the most moving sights I saw last night was the shots of Jesse Jackson, shaking uncontrollably, tears streaming down his face.

This was a man on the moon moment. This ranks up there with the Emancipation Proclamation. Is racism gone? Of course not. But we, after 400 years of systematic oppression and genocide have moved beyond our old prejudices. We have proven that race is *not* an issue for a majority of Americans. And we have proven to the world once again that we are the greatest nation on earth, that the American Dream really means something. Obama did not win the white vote. He lost it 55% to 43%. And he won 95% of the black vote. Both those figures suggest that race is still a big deal. But while racism was clearly present in this election, it was so small a factor that it was inconsequential. Most people on both sides voted on the issues.

And America became a country once again that stands tall in the world. After centuries of exploitation and oppression by Western nations the most powerful, conservative, richest white country in the world has elected a black man as president. We have elected the son of a Kenyan immigrant our president. If that isn’t the American Dream I don’t know what is! We proved, to every one, that we are a nation of hope, of ideals, that we are the land of opportunity, that we truly are the greatest country in the world.

God bless America!


Tuesday, November 04, 2008


It is 11:02 in New York City, and America is officially different. Forever.

Dewey Wins! Dewey Wins!

I am still not feeling safe. I am still worried. I'm not sure I trust the exit polling.

But they just called Ohio for Obama. That is huge. McCain can't win without Ohio. New Mexico has been called. If it holds true that's 200 electoral votes for Obama without California, Oregon, Washington, or Hawaii. There is no way. McCain is toast, and this could be a landslide.


God, I hope and pray...

Election Day

Is it finally here?

Four percent in Ohio, Florida, and Virginia is not very close. That's within the margin of error. If the vote is close in those three states, and I mean Ohio in 2004 close, not even Florida in 2000 close, McCain will probably win because the elephants have an army of lawyers and an efficient dirty tricks machine in place. Stealing the election is their victory scenario, they've practically said as much.

After all this time and all this money and all this money and all this angst it is finally here. In the end, as Andrew Sulivan pointed out, it doesn't really matter. Barack Obama is the future of America--whether it happens now or four years from now almost doesn't matter. He is going to be president and even, if through some disaster, he is not, his movement will gain control sooner or later, because it is a true movement, like conservativism was in the 70s. Americans now realize how bankrupt the conservative revolution has become: morally, intellectually, politically, ethically bankrupt. The pendulum has finally swung back the other way. A grass roots movement of angry liberals, people who believe in working for the good of the community and the benefit of all instead of the good of the powerful and the benefit of the rich, people who believe economic justice trumps social prudery, has finally arisen and it will not be stopped. Sarah Palin may indeed be the future of the Republican Party, she may even get to be President one day, but--As with the Kenedy's in the 60s--she does not represent the rebirth of the movement but it's last, brilliant gasp of breath. Because as with the 70s, when the excesses of liberalism got to be too much for America, so too the excesses of conservativism over the past eight years has turned the stomachs of ordinary (read "real") Americans, and they aren't going to put up with it any more. No matter what happens today in the presidential race (and I'm still praying for a land slide), the Democrats will control the house by even more votes than they did the last session, they will control the senate, they will control most of the state houses and state legislatures: a fresh wind is blowing out of the blue states, and it will sweep away before it the locusts of greed and hate that have ruled us for far too long.

It is indeed a bright new day in America.

Monday, November 03, 2008

We Love Ya Tomorrow

In Virginia, Republicans are mailing out documents that look like they come from the elections commission and say that because of expected long lines, Republicans are supposed to vote on November 4th and Democrats are supposed to vote on November 5th.

In Ohio Republicans are telling people that if they have lost their homes to foreclosure they are no longer eligible to vote because they no longer have an address.

In New Mexico Hispanic voters (who must already be US citizens, of course) are being threatened with deportation if they show up to the polls.

In Pennsylvania Republicans are sending out mailings that link Barack Obama to the Holocaust.

In Nevada, voters have received calls from people claiming to be Obama volunteers and urging them to cast their ballot over the phone.

Students at Drexel have been told that police will be at the polls to keep anyone with a criminal conviction from voting.

All of these illegal scams are taking place in states with tight races that John McCain needs to win. They are a blatant attempt to suppress the vote and steal the election for John McCain. They are also a violation of the voting rights act, but these things enver get investigated. If you needed no more prompting to vote for Barack Obama, if you still for some unfathomable reason haven't made up your mind, this should make it up for you: these people, and by that I mean Republicans, are a threat to democracy. They are a threat to our country. They are unamerican. They are everything they have falsely accused Barack Obama of being. And this is our time to stand up and say "NO MORE!" This is our time to turn back the greedy, selfish, mean-spirited legacy of the Regan revolution, to take back our country for the poor and middle class, to stand up for jobs and health care and peace and prosperity and, most of all, for the dignity of man, for the dignity of every citizen of this country, and for the dignity of the office of President of the United States, which has been soured and sullied by being eight years in the control of a gang of contemptuous bullies who waged a phony war in Iraq to boost the profits of their oil cronies and ignored the constitution to advance their twisted ideological agenda. They must be stopped, and tomorrow we get to stop them, but only if we get to the poles in such massive numbers that none of their dirty tricks can stop the ass-whuppin they are about to receive.

It's time to lay the smack down on these guys. So tomorrow, no matter what you do, if you have to crawl on your hands and knees to get there, vote. Get out and vote for Barack Obama.

And anyone who votes for John McCain should be ashamed.


Saturday, November 01, 2008

four days to go

I am scared. I still think the Bradley effect is real. I still think McCain can win. Ohio can be stolen if not lost outright. Florida is always a Wildcard. Virginia is spooky. Truman beat Dewey in similar circumstances. Get out and vote, people!

So: apparently newspapers exercising their first amendment rights violates Sarah Palin's first amendment rights. I've been willing to cut her a of slack on some of the ill informed things she says, but this one pisses me off. The job of newspapers in society is to question and criticize those in power and those who seek it. Argue that they haven't been diligent enough in questioning Barack Obama (which is part of McCain's argument: fair enough). Don't wine when they criticize you. Since Nixon the republicans have undermined and attacked freedom of the press, to the point that for the first five years of the Bush administration he basically got a free ride. This is bad for democracy. Freedom of the Press is clearly outlined in the first amendment, the one Palin referenced. She really does need a lesson in civics. But she, like most republicans, counts on people not knowing or caring about what the constitution actually says--except about the 2nd amendment that is. The pachyderms seem to believe that criticizing their party and their candidates in not only unfair it is unconstitutional. Bullshit!

The rats are leaving the sinking ship. Even Bill Kirstal admits that Obama is going to win.

Bill Maher still pisses me off three or four times a show. Is he really that ignorant or just that much of an asshole?

Here are things that scare me about Obama: his position on guns and the second amendment. His attitude toward federalism. His position on the commerce clause. His health care plan (which doesn't go far enough), and I truly am worried that he will make it prohibitively hard for me to get rich.

But that pales next to the ways in which he inspires me, and the ways in which McCain scares me. Go Barack!