Monday, October 31, 2005

Very, Very Scary

Andy as Eminem. Sigh.

Halloween Brings out the Freaks

No, I'm not talking about witches, demons, devils, College Republicans or even people who dress their dogs up like a happy meal.

I'm talking about the Fundamentalists.

Fundamentalists, as I like to point out, come in two flavors: religious and secular. Not only do we have the traditional nitwits worried that dawning a black hat will turn you into a Satan-loving witch, we now have radical secularites opposed to kids wearing costumes on Halloween because of its religious origin.

Everyone, please get a grip.

Christians, if you're so worried that your child will become a devil-worshipper if he dresses up like Dracula, why not assert some parental control and dress your kid up like a Bible character? Sure, the other kids won't know who Simon of Cyrene is, but look at it as a teachable moment. It's so easy. If you think there's something demonic about throwing a sheet over your head and pretending to be a ghost, then sprinkle silver glitter all over the sheet and, voila! Lot's Wife!

And if you're the kind of parent who would object to that, you can always dress your kid up as an ACLU lawyer.

Friday, October 28, 2005


WNBA star Sheryl Swoopes came out this week. She also has said she believes that she wasn't born a lesbian, and that we choose our sexuality.

I certainly feel I was born this way; never in a million years would I have chosen this path for myself. That doesn't mean I dispute Ms. Swoope's assertion; I wouldn't dare. But I wonder for the gay rights movement, how much of our momentum comes from the belief or experience that orientation is biological? And, ultimately, why does it matter?


Part of the broad legal strategy for achieving full civil equality for the gay community under the law in America is predicated on the idea that marriage is the constitutionally protected fundamental right to marry the partner of your choice; this is the response to the counter-argument that homosexuals are not banned from marrying in the United States, as long as they marry an opposite-sex partner.

I don't think there's any validity to the counter-argument, but I'm also not convinced that our legal strategy is necessarily accurate.

Love is not really about choosing; for me, that ties in with the whole issue of sexual orientation. It's not a question of my "choosing" a woman; the fact that I am emotionally and erotically attracted to men lies outside my power to choose.

But we also don't really choose the individuals we partner with. Not really. I mean, if I could choose who I wanted to marry, I'd have done it by now. But none of them were interested back.

So where does choice come in? Love is this bizarre, unexplainable phenomenon by which two people find themselves committed to one another in an emotional union. It's a force of nature, not something we reason out with ourselves and our partners. We don't say, "You seem nice, would you like to love me?" It doesn't work that way. How often have we met people who were perfectly nice, perfectly viable...but, we just didn't -- and couldn't -- love them in that way?

I have no answers, only questions.

Have a great weekend.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Charles Krauthammer Wins Supreme Court Death Pool

A week ago I asked for your bets on what would happen with the Miers nomination. Of those that submitted guesses, Steve came the closest (he hoped she would withdraw but thought Bush would make her see this through) and, not surprisingly, Little Cicero was way, way, way, way off.

Harriet, thanks for playing. We have some lovely parting gifts for you. Don't let the door smack your ass on the way out.

He doesn't read my blog and he didn't enter my contest, but the Washington Post's Charles Krauthammer called this one exactly right. In an editorial entitled, "Miers: The Only Exit Strategy," Krauthammer advised the President to create an irreconcilable difference over the release of internal White House documents critical to the proper evaluations of Miers' nomination.

And indeed, the New York Times reports this morning, "President Bush...blamed her withdrawal on calls in the Senate for the release of internal White House documents that the administration has insisted were protected by executive privilege."

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Overheard in New York

Scene: a dim pool hall in Manhattan's West Village, Christopher Street.

I am lining up a ridiculously easy shot, 4-ball in the corner pocket.

The cue ball leaps over the 4-ball and bounces onto the floor.

Bystander: Showoff.

Practical Applications of the Martini

Last night I went to a straight bar on the Upper West Side to say farewell to a wonderful friend who's leaving New York to sing in Europe for five months.

I asked for a Grey Goose martini, dry, no olive.

What I got was a glass of vermouth with a splash of vodka. Blech. It tasted like bilgewater. (Yes, I speak from experience. No, you can't ask.)

Some other friends had just returned from a singing engagement in Brazil and brought her a pair of beautiful handcrafted earrings from a market in Rio. "Oh...but, I wonder if anyone else has tried them on?" asked my friend.

"Here," I said, passing her the "martini" I wasn't able to finish. She dunked the earring loops into the glass and then put them in her ears.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

DNC: Does Not Change

One of the things that separates me from the neanderthals currently occupying the White House is that I view introspection and the ability to say, "I was wrong," as a great strength, not a weakness. After all, if you're driving a car and the road turns but you don't, you're going to have an accident. "I stayed the course!" won't look too good on the police report.

Sticking with the same metaphor, if you take a wrong turn, you'll get where you want to be a lot faster if you turn around.

So in that spirit, I may have been wrong.

A visit to the DNC website is a profoundly disheartening experience. What's at the top of the page? Tom DeLay's mugshot. Now, I, like a lot of other people, chortled over DeLay's arrest warrant. It's one thing for a private citizen to enjoy a corrupt politician's comeuppance, but it's another thing entirely -- a tacky, pathetic thing -- for the opposition party to put it at the top of their webpage.

In all fairness, Congressman DeLay has not yet been convicted. The arrest warrant and mugshot were merely legal formalities. (Click here for some really great mugshots, if you're into that sort of thing.) Democrats should not be celebrating DeLay's fall. They ought to be kicking themselves that they were so weak and so ineffectual that someone as corrupt and stupid as DeLay got as far as he did and stayed there so long. What we are seeing is self-destruction and certainly not anything we can take credit for.

The mugshot accompanies an article titled, "GOP Culture of Corruption Unraveling." Well, it does look that way, but the message is: Republicans are corrupt, so vote for us! Please. As Howard Dean said so often on the campaign trail, "We can do better."

I was attracted to Howard Dean because I felt he was speaking truth to power; getting out there and saying things that desperately needed to be said, and that in attacking Bush he wasn't being partisan, he was talking up truths that were so far away from the sugar-coated fantasies the White House was spinning they seemed to many Americans like crack-induced hallucinations. His verbal gaffes were refreshing, because they were raw and sincere, not buffed to a high-gloss by round after round of DC-spinmeisters and partisan message-mechanics.

So I was very optimistic when he took over the DNC, because I was convinced that in Dean we had a man who would really tackle the issues facing Americans today and that he would use his position and influence to do hard-hitting cost analysis of Bush's budgets to show that the President isn't doing what he says he's doing, that compassionate conservativism means apparently having a special empathy for corporations and college roommates.

But the flip side of that is offering an alternative. It's simply not enough to say, "Bush is wrong." It's not. We have to take Bush's budget figures, as one example, and line them up with a solid alternative proposition that says, "Here's what we want to do." I'm not seeing that anywhere.

There's also the text of a radio address on Iraq by former presidential candidate Wesley Clark. Now, here's a man who really ought to be speaking with authority on military operations. He asks the following questions: "How can we do a better job with less corruption in the reconstruction of Iraq? And, how can we make Iraq's neighbors a part of the solution, instead of a source of the problems inside Iraq?"

But he doesn't answer them.

As a person of faith, I am delighted that the Democratic leadership has taken notice that faith matters in this country; 60% of Democrats believe in God. But you know, it's not enough for there to be a link on the webpage for Howard Dean, a lapsed Episcopalian, to salute Yom Kippur. How about a guest article written by a Rabbi talking about how the values and sentiments expressed during the Jewish holiday of atonement translate into everyday life and how those messages can form a plan of action to make America better?

It gets worse. Click on the link for information about the Katrina recovery efforts. "Gulf Coast Needs Relief, Not a Right-Wing Agenda from Bush." Then it lists in paragraph after paragraph, everything that Republicans are doing wrong. "DNC Research has compiled some examples of right-wing policies President Bush is pushing that will hurt, not help, Gulf Coast residents recover and rebuild from Hurricane Katrina," says the story. Too bad they didn't compile any expert recommendations about how to do things better.

Congressional leadership in Washington contains some real kooks. I was appalled by Dianne Feinstein when she pleaded with stellar Supreme Court nominee John Roberts, "I'm trying to get your feelings as a man." Lady, the entire point of the proceedings is to determine that we get judges whose personal views are separate from their professional responsibilities.

Sitting around hoping to take credit for the imminent self-destruction of the current administration is not a winning strategy. The American people deserve better.

Monday, October 24, 2005

Redefining Marriage

One of the conservative buzzphrases that gets thrown around in the culture war is the idea that gay rights activists are trying to "redefine" marriage. See for example this Op-Ed in yesterday's Fort Worth Star-Telegram, where the writer argues, "Homosexuals are free to have the adult relationship they desire, but they do not have the right to redefine marriage."

What kind of nonsense is that? I'm free to have the relationship I want, as long as it's not a relationship that he doesn't want me to have? Boy, that's some freedom. Let's hear it for America! (This editorial aspires to intellectualism but doesn't quite get there; for example, the writer cites "studies" which show "that children who grow up in a fatherless household are many times more likely to commit suicide, end up in prison or do drugs." But what about children who grow up with two fathers, not none? Lovely of him to cite the risks of unstable heterosexual relationships as a reason to deny full civil equality to same-sex couples. Also he writes, "the only three good things that came out of the '60s are my daughters." Yeah, too bad about that pesky civil rights movement.)

The justifications these social conservatives throw up never make any sense. Some of them actually try to claim in court that same-sex marriage should be banned because the state has a compelling interest in promoting heterosexuality for the sake of the survival of the species. Um...? How paranoid do you have to be to think that heterosexuality is on the wane?

They love to argue that we need to ban same-sex marriage in order to protect children, arguing that heterosexual marriage is primarily about procreation. But if that were the case, why would my marriage to a man be any more threatening to a stable society than any of Rush Limbaugh's three marriages, all of which ended in divorce and none of which resulted in any children? If gay people should be denied marriage privileges on the basis that they can't procreate, then shouldn't we ban the marriage of infertile heterosexuals?

While we're on the subject, let's talk parenting: gay couples have to really want to become parents. It's something they have to plan, and frequently have to jump many hurdles to accomplish, whereas any heterosexual too stupid to use a condom can become a parent.

"It's always been that way" is not a defense. If we could really make that argument, we'd still have the slave trade and women wouldn't be working outside of the home.

Besides, gay marriage is not a new, radical assault on thousands of years of tradition; first of all, today's heterosexual marriages in no way resemble "marriages" of the past millennia, where in almost every culture around the world women have been regarded as man's property, where prepubescent girls were bartered to cement financial and political contracts. Secondly, gay folk have always been around, and presumably thousands of years ago the heterosexuals in control were just as unlikely to acknowledge that we form lasting, committed stable relationships as they are now. It's not that gay marriage is new; it's that for centuries the straight world has chosen not to see what was hidden in plain sight.

So that brings me back to "redefining marriage."

Let's say that you open Webster's Dictionary and look up "zebra," where it says that "The zebra is a large, rainbow-colored mammal related to horses found in the jungles of Nevada and Wyoming."

Well, we know that definition is wrong. Changing the definition in the dictionary to make it reflect what a zebra actually is is not the same thing as proposing radical changes to the zebra itself.

If your definition of marriage doesn't reflect reality, don't blame me for changing it.

Friday, October 21, 2005

He Made Me a Mix Tape

Inspired by a friend's blogpost today, I decided to look up my first boyfriend. He lives in Florida now; I found him on the staff webpage where he works, along with a pic. He's still cute.

The story of how we met is a good one.

Picture it: Manhattan, 1994. Labor Day Weekend.


I was a student at Manhattan School of Music, was working part time at Satan's Gift Shop (er, um, I mean The Shops at Lincoln Center), and had just moved in to my first apartment. It was a good-sized, spacious studio with a walk-in closet. Unfortunately the building's boiler was totally unreliable, so there was often no hot water and sometimes no running water at all.

Columbia University used to -- and still might, I don't know, I'm a little old now -- have LGBT dances the first Friday of every month. I didn't often have a lot of "luck" there, but on this particular evening I caught someone's eye, and he caught mine. I was 20, he was 23, and in law school out on Long Island, and had driven in with some friends for the dance. He had the thickest Long Island accent (what did you think I was going to say?) I'd ever heard. I was in love. He drove me back to my apartment after the dance, but nothing happened, as he was also chauffeuring all his friends back to the Island. But we did exchange numbers and I promised to call.


The next morning I had an appointment in Newark to greet a friend of mine who was flying in for a one-year internship with the U.N. He was nervous about finding his own way into Manhattan so I volunteered to help. Naturally after a hot, humid fall night where I'd been out dancing and hanging out with a bunch of smokers, I woke up sticky and stinky...and there was no running water. I ran out and bought some bottled water to clean myself up with, and headed out to EWR.

I met Mike at the airport and got him settled in his room at the Vanderbilt Y. We went to dinner, and then when I got home I discovered that a) the water still wasn't running and b) there was a message on my machine from Louie. (Yeah, Louie. Remember answering machines? Oh, and the other thing about no running water is that once you flush the toilet and the tank empties, it doesn't I had no toilet, either. At least, not one I could flush.) Louie was going to be in the city the next day, and would I be free to meet?

Well, I had to work on Sunday, and I didn't fancy showing up at Lincoln Center after two days in hot, humid weather without a shower. So I called a friend of mine and asked if I could crash at his place so that I could have a shower in the morning on my way to work. I called Louie back and left a message that I had to work until late afternoon, but that he could call me and hopefully we could meet up afterward. (This was before cellphones.)

So it was about 10 p.m. and I was waiting for the 1 train in the station at 190th Street. A guy came and sat down on the bench near me and started talking. I didn't really pay any attention to him until he said, "I'm real hungry, do you know what I mean?" as he pulled back his coat to reveal the handle of a pistol tucked into his belt. Fortunately he let me keep my wallet in exchange for my cash.

Then he asked my name. "What for?" I wanted to know.

"You seem like a good guy, I want to pray for you." (This coming from an armed mugger.)

I said, "Just tell God, 'the blond in the subway station,' I'm sure he'll remember." Just then the train came and I walked far away from him. No, I never reported it.

When I got to my friend's apartment he said, "Jeez man, you look like hell."

I said, "Well, I haven't showered in two days and I just got mugged at gunpoint." I wasn't sure if "at gunpoint" counted since I only saw the handle, but I didn't feel like being technical.


The next morning I had to borrow $1.25 (!) from my friend in order to buy a subway token to get to work. I had also just switched banks from Shittybank to Chase and Chase had put some sort of 14-day hold on my deposit so I wasn't able to withdraw any cash. I hadn't really figured out what I was going to do; I surely wasn't going to tell my parents I'd been mugged by a guy with a gun. They didn't need to add that to their anxiety.

At some point in the afternoon, Louie called. Yeah, it was a major violation to be receiving personal calls on the job, but he was worth breaking rules for. He asked how my weekend was going and I told him. "Oh my God!" he said, "God" coming out kind of like "Gwawd!"

School didn't start for me until Wednesday, and I didn't have to work again until Wednesday night, so he invited me to come spend Labor Day with him at his house on Long Island. I could at least be guaranteed of a shower. He met me at Lincoln Center as I was getting off and we traveled back up to my very humble apartment in Washington Heights (not the one I have now).

"Oh my Gwawd, you don't even have a bed," he said. (Or running water, for that matter.) I packed some clothes and we headed back downtown and got on the Long Island Railroad bound for Mastic-Shirley.

When we finally got to his house, out in the middle of frickin' nowhere, there must have been 20 cars parked in front. A teenager was throwing up alongside the front walk. "Waw, fuck!" said Louie. His sister Dawn (pronounced, "Duwawhn") was throwing a big party with all her high school friends.

"Oh my Gwawd, Duwawhn, what are you doing? Mom and Dad are gonna be here any minute!"

"Wah? I thought they were coming back tomorrow?"

"No, shithead, they're coming home tonight!"

"Waw, fuck, okay, everyone, out of my house NOWWWWW!"

Of course, Louie knew full well that his parents weren't coming back until the next day, but it worked like a charm getting rid of his sister's friends.


I spent the night in Louie's bed. Nothing happened! I was a good boy. I was determined to wait for "the one."

That day we went out to Fire Island. I had never seen anything quite like it. It wasn't really beach weather; as I recall the temperature had plunged and it was extraordinarily windy. Still, I thought it was very romantic. I remember a beautiful sunset as we took the boat back to Sayville. Back at his house, he tried to get me to smoke pot. I declined.

I spent the night in his bed again. I guess I had decided he was "the one." Something happened.


His parents had come home sometime the day before. His father was ill with some condition or other, so I never actually saw him. He was a Titurel-like presence, a disembodied voice emanating from the back bedroom. His mother looked like Charo and sounded like Patty Bouvier impersonating Harvey Fierstein. I had been warned not to let on that Louie and I were "together." My cover story was that I was just a friend from college visiting for the weekend.

"I like you," rasped out Louie's mom. "You're not like Louie's other friends. He's always bringing around faggots." She made us waffles with cigarette ash for breakfast.

Louie and I drove around Mastic-Shirley running errands for a while. Everywhere we went, I felt like people were staring at me. The little old lady in line at D'Agostino's seemed to stare at me knowingly, "You took it up the ass, didn't you, you little whore."

Anyway, I went back to the city late that afternoon, and indeed the water was back on.

Louie and I broke up a few weeks later; the "distance" thing was an issue, plus he smoked and liked to go clubbing and smoke pot. And he was stupid. Very, very, very stupid. Nice, but...sometimes that's not enough.

He hadn't returned my calls for over two weeks, so I wrote him a letter announcing that I was breaking up with him. I was too naive to realize I'd already been dumped.

I still have the mix tape he made me, though.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Supreme Court Nomination Death Pool

Submit your guesses as to what will happen to Harriet Miers and when below.

Worst. Nominee. Ever.

Okay, okay, no, Harriet Miers is no Bernie Kerik (that we know about). And she's not even a Brownie.

But jeez louise, the bipartisan Senate committee sent her questionnaire back? If she can't even answer these difficult but basic questions to the satisfaction of her own party members, then THE WOMAN IS NOT QUALIFIED FOR THE SUPREME COURT.

I'm sorry to shout, but I feel like everyone in America knows this but the White House.

Here was the brilliant Dahlia Lithwick's recommendation:

So I am begging now. This is embarrassing. End it. Karl Rove: Either plant the 500 pounds of cocaine you keep for such occasions in Miers' car, or trot out some actress to play her bitter, gay ex-lover. You have the power to end this. So do whatever it is you do. But end the unnecessary pain and suffering now, before someone really gets hurt.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Bush: Excelling Where Kerry Never Could

In recent days the thought has occurred to me that perhaps in some way we are fortunate that Kerry lost the 2004 election.

I mean, okay, George W. Bush is going to be one very, very expensive lesson for the American people to learn, but he's tearing apart the Republican party more effectively than John Kerry -- or pretty much any other Congressional Democrat -- ever could.

Since the re-election, America has come to understand just what "compassionate conservatism" is all about: borrowing billions to take away the social security safety net and put it in the care of Wall Street; promoting cronies and their roommates to management positions at federal disaster agencies; protecting the credit industry while inflation rises and wages stagnate; cutting short a vacation to attempt to intervene in the life of one woman in a swing state; flying off to California to accept a souvenir guitar while a Category 5 hurricane bears down on a major city, etc., etc., etc.

Oh yeah. Iraq and that whole "War on Terror" thing. No, we haven't found Osama bin Laden, but Bush is about to use his veto power for the first time: to ax a bill that passed the Senate 90-9 on tightening the definitions of torture and appropriate handling of foreign detainees.

The saddest part is that Bush is just handing control of the country to Democrats, but there isn't a single person stepping up to the plate. Come on, folks. Republicans have lined up the lid on their own coffin; let's nail it shut.

Monday, October 17, 2005

Miers: No

I was, as with Roberts, going to wait until the Senate hearings until I issued a full opinion about Harriet Miers.

However, I have changed my mind and decided to oppose her nomination now.

I'm sure she's a lovely person. She might even be quite intelligent, well-schooled in constitutional law, and perhaps she would even be a supreme court justice for the ages. But I doubt it -- very much -- and here's why.

She is on record as having said that George W. Bush is the "most brilliant man" she's ever met. Now, I'm sorry, call me a partisan if you wish, but that simply isn't possible. I don't even know of any Republicans who think Bush is "brilliant," let alone anyone who'd label him a shining beacon of intellectualism.

There are only two reasons for someone to make that statement. One, they're kissing Dubya's ass. Sorry, that's not an attractive quality in a supreme court member. Or, two, they really believe it, in which case they are a) not very bright themselves and b) have a horribly warped sense of what this man has "accomplished" during his time in the White House. No, any rational person with at least one foot planted in reality who hasn't been living in a commune in northern Canada since 2001 without access to the internet or other media would have to conclude that George W. Bush has made a real mess out of America.

So she's either an idiot, or she's one of those whose ideology blinds them to even the most painfully obvious realities.

No on Miers.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

How Lucky I Am To Have You

Living in New York City is like having a boyfriend.

An incredibly hot, intelligent, cultured boyfriend adored by your friends and family, who is also moody, high maintenance, frequently obnoxious and expensive to keep happy. You might be faithful to him, but you know he shares himself with other people. Many other people. He's got some friends you can't stand. Despite all of that, you love him more than words can say.

Though it's only the 16th, already it has been the wettest October on record. I think God is punishing us for hosting the Republican National Convention. Yesterday was shaping up to be another dark, dim Saturday where I lie on the couch trying to decide which DVD I'm least sick of, when suddenly, around 11:00, the clouds parted, the sky turned blue and the sun streamed forth with the blinding white brilliance of clear fall days.

This will be my tenth fall in New York, and I have learned to take full advantage of mild, sunny autumn afternoons before the thick grey clouds permanently settle in like the impenetrable ceiling of a cold, wet dungeon. I went shopping.

I didn't buy anything, other than a piping hot H&H sesame bagel.

I am the only person in Manhattan without a stroller.

Then I went home and took a nap.

After dinner, I got dressed and headed out on my own. Desiring a break from my regular routine, I ventured down to the East Village and put in appearances at Phoenix (where I ran into Stephen), Nowhere and Starlight.

Maybe it was the warm, tingling embrace of the four vodka tonics, but I decided to walk back to the A train on 8th Avenue from Avenue A. It was a cool, clear night with a gleaming full moon, and as I walked west along 14th Street I was mildly unsettled by my iPod's ironic selections: Duke Ellington's "Take the A Train" and the opening scene of Richard Strauss' Salome where the page sings, "Look at the moon! How odd she seems. She is like a woman, rising from the grave. Like a woman who is dead, she moves about slowly."

However dead she might be, I'm sure she's faster than the A train after midnight. Once I was back in Chelsea I popped into Gym for a pre-emptive pit stop. There I ran into Mike and Derek, so I stayed for another drink, and then bumped into my old pal Duke.

Like any boyfriend, New York can make you angry and drive you just plain crazy sometimes. But then it redeems itself and you think, "My God, how lucky I am to have you."

Friday, October 14, 2005

Seasonal Haiku: Aki

Sex and the City
alone on a Friday night
I need more vodka


Hello, and thanks to all of you who've emailed to complain that I'm not blogging enough lately and to ask if everything is okay.

Everything is fine; my company's most important annual board meeting is this weekend, and between projects related to that, my regular duties and a bunch of other things that have come up, I've been incredibly busy at work. I've barely had time to even skim the news, so I don't know what's going on in the world.

Here's what I do know: I had lunch with Scott today on his whirlwind trip through New York as part of his Attila-the-Hun-like conquest of tech companies. Scott and I have known each other since sophomore year of high school. It was good to catch up!

Thanks to the really fantastic weather we've been having, I am on my third umbrella in a week.

What's up with people in New York who have umbrellas the size of a small country? What is that about? Personally, I think it's a penis-umbrella, i.e., they're compensating for something. Whatever it is, it's just rude. Please get a personal size umbrella like socially responsible people so that yours doesn't take up the whole sidewalk. Sure, you'll be soaked from the waist down, but you'll feel better about yourself, sacrificing your dryness for the greater good.

Also, when carrying your umbrella when it's not raining or inside -- like going up the stairs in the subway -- please hold it vertically, not horizontally, and please don't swing it back and forth; those pointy ends are dangerous. Another reason just to get a personal-sized (aka, disposable) umbrella is so that it will fit in your purse/briefcase/ugly fake Louis Vuitton bag.

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, October 13, 2005

James Dobson: Liar

So now Dr. Dobson says that Karl Rove gave him permission to speak freely about their previously confidential chat. According to CNN, Dobson said Rove told him the nominee is "an evangelical Christian; that she is from a very conservative church, which is almost universally pro-life; that she had taken on the American Bar Association on the issue of abortion and fought for a policy that would not be supportive of abortion."

Just to remind you, Dr. Dobson previously said that he knew some things about Miers that he was "not at liberty to talk about."

So we are now to believe that Karl Rove made a special call to tell James Dobson facts about Ms. Miers that everybody already knew and he agreed to keep that confidential.


Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Andy's Ark

So this morning on the bathroom floor there was a cockroach that was -- I kid you not -- larger than Saturday night's mouse. Needless to say I did not get down on my hands and knees to take pictures of this one.

He was Hoovered into eternity.

Sunday, October 09, 2005

My New Roommate

It was a dark and stormy night. No, really, it was.

I'd been held hostage in my apartment most of the day, waiting for the rain to abate, trying to find inspiration to do something. Anything at all. I was unsuccessful.

After enjoying a traditional Manhattan bachelor's dinner (California Pizza Kitchen brand frozen BBQ Chicken Pizza, eaten while lying on the sofa in front of the TV drinking a Coke) while watching three episodes of Sex and The City, I joined him and his partner down the street at a neighborhood restaurant for dinner.

Okay, they had dinner, I had a Grey Goose martini, dry, no olive. Oh, and some cheesecake.

Don't look at me like that.

Anyway, a fine time was had by all. The storm was still raging when we left; my friends live around the corner from the restaurant; I had to walk about six blocks home. Rain was pouring from the sky, flowing in torrents in the gutters, the wind was blowing, turning my umbrella inside out and snapping the spoke-thingies, tearing the fabric off. The temperature had dropped about twenty degrees, and I was sopping and shivering by the time I got home. I decided a bath was in order.

I got the water running and then went into the kitchen for a glass of water, when I saw this:

I yelped, in a gayish sort of way.

Normally when I see a mouse (yeah, this wasn't the first time) they're as startled as I am, and they run away. Well...this guy just sat there.


I watched him for a few moments to see if he'd do anything. You know, away. Or perhaps sing "In the Still of the Night." I went back into the bedroom and got the biggest, clunkiest shoes I could find. Noooo! I wasn't going to stomp on him. I just didn't want him to attack my feet.

It could happen.

So I gently stepped over him on the way to the fridge and got some water. Stepped over him again. He just sat there. He was definitely alive. He was breathing and moving his head around. Anyway, I went and took my bath.

When I got out, he was still there, so I snapped a few pictures. He's not shy.

Anyway, then I went to bed. When I got up this morning, he was gone. He did leave some turds on the floor. Sigh.

Saturday, October 08, 2005

Advise and Conceal

"You will have to trust me on this one."

That's James Dobson, founder of Focus on the Family, on the subject of the nomination of Harriet Miers to the Supreme Court. "I know the person who brought her to the Lord," he said. "I have talked at length to people that know her and have known her for a long time."

Last weekend Dobson received a phonecall from Karl Rove about Ms. Miers. "Some of what I know, I am not at liberty to talk about," he said afterward.

Pardon me?

Sometimes ministers do need to keep things confidential. If I went to my priest for counseling or confession, it would be his responsibility to me and his duty to God to keep our conversations private. But it would also be inappropriate for him to say, "I know some good stuff about our friend Andy...of course, I can't tell you any of it."

Who are you, James Dobson? Who died and made you Senator? Why is the White House providing you with information about a Supreme Court nominee that will not be made available to the Senators, whose constitutional duty it is to advise the President on nominations and provide or withhold their consent?

I'll tell you what kind of man James Dobson is. He's the kind who's so arrogant, who's so infatuated with his own self-righteousness, that he thinks he's practicing the highest form of Christian integrity by not betraying a confidence. He doesn't realize that his motivation for doing so is not to protect, but to deceive.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

The Misguided Priorities of Fundamentalist Faith

The New York Times today ran a fascinating-must read comparison of two Grand Canyon raft tours, one led by a born again creationist and another by a geologist. In it, the Grand Canyon stands as a metaphor for the gaping chasm between Americans who accept evolution and those who reject it as heresy.

"Ultimately, creationism is not just bad science to me, it's bad Christianity, it's Bible worship," said Alan Gishlick, a 32 year old PhD paleontologist and self-described devout Christian who joined the tour led by geologist Dr. Eugenie Scott.

"The more you learn about science, the more magnificent God is," added Susan Epperson, a former biology teacher who was the plaintiff in the 1967 Supreme Court case which ruled Arkansas' ban on the teaching of evoultion was unconstitutional. Epperson, now 64 and a member of her Presbyterian church choir, continued, "I can look at a rainbow, and I know that white light can hit water droplets and it gets dispersed and the light spreads out and has lots of different colors, and I also say, 'Thank you, God, for the rainbow.' "

The rainbow, as anyone familiar with Genesis knows, is the sign of God's covenant with us, made after Noah's flood, that He would never again destroy the earth in similar fashion. It's a fitting reference, since the leader of the other tour, Tom Vail, insists the Canyon was created during that very flood, a mere 4,500 years ago.

The Times reporter recorded that Mr. Vail claimed 80% of Christians "walked away" from their faith when studying science that contradicted the creation story. "It's foundational to our faith," he said, throwing a stick in frustration.

It is?

The foundation of the Christian religion is the Gospel. Nowhere in the Gospel does Jesus even mention the creation story, let alone insist on a six-day timeline. So why do they consider it so important?

"The whole thing becomes His reputation at stake," argued Diana Panes. The worry is that if Genesis 1 is not literally true, then perhaps neither is the Gospel. That fear is what drives the entire fundamentalist mindset.

"In the book of Genesis, it talks about God walking the face of the earth. Maybe His footprints are there," said Kathryn Crotts of Greensboro, NC, as she bent down to touch the floor of the Canyon. Indeed, the Times reporter described the creationists' mission as "an expedition in search of evidence that God created the earth in six days 6,000 years ago."

In search of evidence. Can anyone name for me someone else who searched for evidence of divinity? That's right, the disciple Thomas from the Gospel of John, who famously declared, "Unless I see in his hands the print of the nails, and place my finger in the mark of the nails, and place my hand in his side, I will not believe."

Though they won't admit it, that is what they're doing out there in Arizona, looking for physical evidence of God to justify their faith. But proof is not faith.

Faith requires no proof, because God's most important gift to mankind is free will: our privilege to choose whether to accept faith or not. Salvation is based on faith; if there is incontrovertible proof of God, then there is no point to faith.

Saturday, October 01, 2005

The Bush Approach to Diplomacy

I have frequently criticized this administration's approach to what it calls "diplomacy," which in the lead-up to the war on Iraq consisted mostly of attempting to bribe other countries into doing what we wanted, and in the case of North Korea has essentially amounted to stubbornly refusing to meet one-on-one with Kim Jong Il despite repeated invitations.

It's not just that they haven't any idea what compromise is; it's that they have zero understanding of and zero respect for viewpoints other than their own. It seems to never occur to them that some of their assumptions could be...well, just wrong.

Take the case of Karen Hughes, the White House's new undersecretary of state for public diplomacy, who on her recent trip to the Middle East was soundly scolded by a group of well-educated Saudi Arabian women (many of them doctors) for presuming that they want to live like American women.

And it's not just the message, but the messenger as well. Slate's Fred Kaplan nails it:

Put the shoe on the other foot. Let's say some Muslim leader wanted to improve Americans' image of Islam. It's doubtful that he would send as his emissary a woman in a black chador who had spent no time in the United States, possessed no knowledge of our history or movies or pop music, and spoke no English beyond a heavily accented "Good morning." Yet this would be the clueless counterpart to Karen Hughes, with her lame attempts at bonding ("I'm a working mom") and her tin-eared assurances that President Bush is a man of God (you can almost hear the Muslim women thinking, "Yes, we know, that's why he's relaunched the Crusades").