Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Monday, July 28, 2008

Last Sunday's Church Shooting in Knoxville, TN

As usual when something like this happens, I am never sure exactly how to blog about it... I think the best way to start is with the facts...

Police: Accused shooter hated liberals, expected to be killed

The shotgun-wielding suspect in Sunday’s mass shooting at the Tennessee Valley Unitarian Universalist Church was motivated by a hatred of “the liberal movement,” and he planned to shoot until police shot him, Knoxville Police Chief Sterling P. Owen IV said this morning.

Jim D. Adkisson, 58, of Powell wrote a four-page letter in which he stated his “hatred of the liberal movement,” Owen said. “Liberals in general, as well as gays.”

Owen said Adkisson specifically targeted the church for its beliefs, rather than a particular member of the congregation.

“It appears that church had received some publicity regarding its liberal stance,” the chief said. The church has a “gays welcome” sign and regularly runs announcements in the News Sentinel about meetings of the Parents, Friends and Family of Lesbians and Gays meetings at the church.

The church’s Web site states that it has worked for “desegregation, racial harmony, fair wages, women’s rights and gay rights” since the 1950s. Current ministries involve emergency aid for the needy, school tutoring and support for the homeless, as well as a cafe that provides a gathering place for gay and lesbian high-schoolers.


As I sit and write this here in "liberal" San Francisco, my thoughts are turning to people I know who continue to make excuses for the Anti Gay rhetoric of the GOP.

As a collective entity, the Republican Party and it's bankrollers in the Conservative Evangelical movement, have spent massive amounts of time and energy and money demonizing a LGBT Americans. Saying from the both the podium and the pulpit that Gay and Lesbian Americans are a "threat" who are "attacking" families and children. Calling for their followers to “fight" some phantom’ gay agenda’ and to "defend traditional values".

The Repubilcan Party and their conservative surrogates on the Religous Right like to paint a simplistic picture of the world where you are either in favor of "freedom" or you are supporting the "terrorist killers". Likewise the GOP has said loud and clear from the podium of their last four national conventions that if you believe that all American citizens deserve equal rights then you are "anti family".

The same people who criticize public dissent of the Bush Administration as "Motivating terrorists to attack us", continue to verbally attack LGBT people and will dismiss the hate crimes that follow as the "lone acts of disturbed individuals". The hypocrisy exhibited on the right is beyond belief.

Conservatives will say with great indignation, that I cant possibly blame them for the actions of one individual Yet to think that the flood of anti-gay rhetoric coming for people in power, people in authority, (both political and religious) has no effect, means you are either willfully blind, or deliberately dishonest.

Do I blame Karl Rove, Ralph Reed, Bill O'Riley, James Dobson and their like for the actions of Jim D. Adkisson in Knoxville TN last Sunday? No, conservatives cannot be blamed for his actions, but their rhetoric IS partly responsible for his motivation.

In Germany in the 1930's Hitler and his National Socialist Party, ranted against the "Jewish threat", and mobs of young men then took to the streets of Berlin, smashed windows, burned stores and homes and beat up men and women. THIS IS NO DIFFERENT.

To my conservative friends, (and yes I do mean friends) who continue to excuse the the bigotry and politically expedient HATE spewed by conservative mouthpieces on behalf of the Republican party , you either really do hate Americans who are different from you , or you don't mind profiting poltically from that hate.

This is no longer about Right or Left, it's about right and wrong. This isn’t about are you for tax cuts or gun ownership, it's about do you agree with people who believe that one group of Americans are lesser human beings than others.

This debate is no longer about public policy. This is about whether it is ok for our government to vilify an entire group of people for political gain, and then not be held accountable for the consequences of that vilification.

Are we a nation that truly seeks to "crown they good with brotherhood"? Or have become that nation that Martin Niemöller warned of in his speech on January 6, 1946, to the representatives of the Confessing Church in Frankfurt...

When the Nazis came for the communists,
I remained silent;
I was not a communist.

When they locked up the social democrats,
I remained silent;
I was not a social democrat.

When they came for the trade unionists,
I did not speak out;
I was not a trade unionist.

When they came for the Jews,
I remained silent;
I wasn't a Jew.

When they came for me,
there was no one left to speak out.

We see this on a much smaller scale, as John McCain gives in the temptation to demonize some Americans, in order to scare others into supporting him. Last week in an effort to divert media attention from his rival, John McCain accused Barack Obama of being more interested winning a political campaign, than winning the war in Iraq.

When talking about the "War on Terror", conservatives love to ask - "whose side are you on?" That is indeed the question we need to ask.

It's time to ask do you truly believe that "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness."?

Or will you stand with the Republican Party as it continues to seek political victory through social and religious division?

How many dead Americans are an acceptable number if it helps you win the White House?

Sunday, July 27, 2008

10 things you should know about John McCain

(but probably don't):

1. John McCain voted against establishing a national holiday in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Now he says his position has "evolved," yet he's continued to oppose key civil rights laws.

2. According to Bloomberg News, McCain is more hawkish than Bush on Iraq, Russia and China. Conservative columnist Pat Buchanan says McCain "will make Cheney look like Gandhi."

3. His reputation is built on his opposition to torture, but McCain voted against a bill to ban waterboarding, and then applauded President Bush for vetoing that ban.

4. McCain opposes a woman's right to choose. He said, "I do not support Roe versus Wade. It should be overturned."

5. The Children's Defense Fund rated McCain as the worst senator in Congress for children. He voted against the children's health care bill last year, then defended Bush's veto of the bill.

6. He's one of the richest people in a Senate filled with millionaires. The Associated Press reports he and his wife own at least eight homes! Yet McCain says the solution to the housing crisis is for people facing foreclosure to get a "second job" and skip their vacations.

7. Many of McCain's fellow Republican senators say he's too reckless to be commander in chief. One Republican senator said: "The thought of his being president sends a cold chill down my spine. He's erratic. He's hotheaded. He loses his temper and he worries me."

8. McCain talks a lot about taking on special interests, but his campaign manager and top advisers are actually lobbyists. The government watchdog group Public Citizen says McCain has 59 lobbyists raising money for his campaign, more than any of the other presidential candidates.

9. McCain has sought closer ties to the extreme religious right in recent years. The pastor McCain calls his "spiritual guide," Rod Parsley, believes America's founding mission is to destroy Islam, which he calls a "false religion." McCain sought the political support of right-wing preacher John Hagee, who believes Hurricane Katrina was God's punishment for gay rights and called the Catholic Church "the Antichrist" and a "false cult."

10. He positions himself as pro-environment, but he scored a 0—yes, zero—from the League of Conservation Voters last year.


Saturday, July 26, 2008

Your weekly dose of "Awwwwwww!"

Ok yeah I'm a big sap... But if this doesn't make you smile then you're pretty much a grinch to begin with..


Thursday, July 24, 2008

Wir Sind Alle aus Berlin...

The days to come will be full of comparisons of Barack Obama's speech in Berlin to that of Presidents Kennedy, Reagan and Clinton. Fox News and various GOP talking heads have been desperately trying to spin today's events in Germany as anything other than what it was. Something that the world has not seen since the year 2000.

Let's put aside the sad pathetic desperate spew coming from the American Right over today's speech. Instead, let's look at it for what it was, historic. Historic because it was not a presidential speech.

Barack Obama is not the President of the United States. He is in fact, not yet even the offical Democratic Nomimee for President. He is the junior Senator from the State of Illinois. Massive crowds turned out to hear both Presidents Reagan and Clinton. That is understandable. It was the President of the United States who was speaking. In 1987 I was one of the people in that crowd at the Berlin Wall when President Reagan spoke. Once upon a time in our history it was only natural and expected that huge crowds would turn out to hear the leader of the free world.

Yet in the past eight years when the American President travelled abroad the only crowds that turned out were throngs of protestors to jeer, rather than cheer his presence. This alone makes today's events in Berlin nothing short of monumental. Over 200,000 people turning out en masse to greet, listen to and cheer an American politician.

I could perhaps feel some sympathy for John McCain. First he challenges Obama to travel abroad. So Barack Obama takes McCain's tripple dog dare, and the Republican Party finds they have scrable desperately to try to divert attention from the success that trip generates. You all most can hear the GOP temper tantrum. "Hey! John McCain has travelled extensively abroad, given countless speeches too!" *Stomps feet*.

Yet as I watch the McCain campaign reduce itself to child threatening to hold his breath until he turns blue to get attention; I remember the electricity in the crowd that day President Reagan spoke. I remember German friends of mine cheering themselves hoarse when an American Politician spoke of his vision of a free and just world. Over the past eight years I was convinced I would never see that again.

Today, twenty one years later, watching the cheering crowds in Berlin, I have never been so happy to be proven wrong.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Post Vacation Thoughts....

I was back in Chicago and Wisconsin for two weeks. Celebrated 4th of July in Chicago with my friends Kyle & Marc. Then up to Madison WI to celebrate my Dad's birthday.

It is always intersting going back to Chicago. I lived there for five years. San Francisco, as friendly as a town as it is, is not an easy place to make new friends. Part of it is my own fault I tend to be somewhat reserved when meeting new people. Now once I get to know you I will never shut up, but the introductions on the front end are something I never have been able to do as easily as others have. So as yet another birthday lurks menacingly at the end of this week I find myself a tad more introspective, and yes retrospective than usual.

Now dont misunderstand I love San Francisco, I have a fantastic job and moving here was one of the better decisions I have made. Yet there have been more an a few times lately where I have found myself, even after 4 years here, feeing like a stranger in a strange land.

Coming back to Chicago to visit is always good for giving me that broader perspective. It is like a tiny little trip back in time where you get to spend time hanging out with old friends and see a little bit of the old "me". That sounds so odd I know but oh well.

I am coming to the conclusion that my rumblings of discontent maybe slightly more than just geographic.

It's hard not to feel like the character Bobby from the musical "Company". When I moved to San Francisco, part of me thought it was to find my life. In retrospect, a very silly reason, and not to mention, a huge misconception. You dont find a life. You make one. Where ever you want to. My life has always been where ever I am. Be it Madison, Wisconsin, Munich Germany, Chongju, South Korea, Chicago Illinois, and even San Francisco, CA.

Or anywhere for that matter.

So why not?

Oh well... Blow out your candles old man, make a wish... want something.