Friday, December 31, 2004

God's Plan

Okay, fine. My prior post God is Great, God is Good brought a comment from Anonymous as follows:

"Anonymous said...
For the Lord is the one who shaped the mountains, stirs up the winds, and reveals his everythought. He turns the light of dawn into darkness and treads the mountains under his feet. The Lord God Almighty is his name! Amos 4:13

God's ways are as hard to discern as the pathwyas of the wind, and as mysterious as a tiny baby being formed in a mother's womb.Ecclesiastes 11:5

I think there are things we will not understand about God until we meet him, but I trust his plan is for the good."

Okay, even though I responded to this sad, sad comment on the post itself, I've got to expand a little. God, I've got to expand...

How wonderful it would be, how fucking wondeful it would be to just blithely go on about my merry way dismissing 125,000 or more dead and the possibility of just as many, if not more, dying from the effects (contaminated water supplies, filth, disease) of the South Asia disaster, as God's Plan, as God's fucking Plan and just sit back in my easy chair and wait for the 700 Club to flash on the tube with, undoubtedly the same fucking message: "The Lord works in mysterious ways."

Oh, man... Stay out of my way right now, 'cause if "...His plan is for the good," then I'm ready to bust some fucking Christian ass and send some fucking comfortable bible-thumping muthahfuckers to the emergency room.

Have a great New Year!

Anita Bryant - Good Christian Hate

Do you remember Anita Bryant?

Well, Dunner has given me an idea for a few posts which I don't know why I didn't think of myself. Before I decided to set aside my passion for writing in 1980 and envelop myself in the comfort of a career and the attendant security of that career as a public servant, my writings were fairly routinely published by Denver's gay rag -- which, incidentally, is still publishing quite successfully -- Out Front. And, after re-reading several of my published articles, I've got to say, as I've said before, the more things change, the more they stay the same. So, here goes:

Anita Bryant: Good Christian Hate (Published October, 1979)

Yes, now that I think about it, if it weren't Anita Bryant, it would be someone else. Indeed, it is someone else. Homophobes are a dime a dozen and most of them will tell you about it ... proclaiming their dislike of gays -- in no uncertain terms -- to anybody, anywhere, anytime.

Ms. Bryant, though, has applied a curious twist to this commonplace bigotry by suggesting that America's children are in great danger; that, unless the eradication of homophilia proceed forthwith, the innocent offspring of all God-fearing American parents are in for big trouble. Yes, indeed, what limp-wrested faggot or muscular bulldyke can resist the opportunity to "recruit" some blue-eyed, blond-haired child of eleven or twelve who happens to cross his/her path?

The humor of the situation is certainly grotesque. I'm gay and I love children, but I've yet to seduce one or walk door to door inquiring if the young man of the house would be interested in becoming gay. Of course, the molestation of young boys and girls is left to the psychotics (and Catholic priests, it seems), not happy, loving gay men and lesbians. If Ms. Bryant can't understand this, then her motives are not so much fed by bigotry than by some profound stupidity. But, then, what else is bigotry but stupidity wrapped in patriotism and religion?

One begins to recognize the difficulty Mr. Scopes must have had in trying to enlighten the people of Tennessee about the origins of the human species. No sir, no hot-shot teacher is gonna' convince God-fearin' Christians that science has more to say about life than the Bible.

Ever since I was in the Army and heard a story from a Master Sergeant who had played a clarinet in an Army Band where a certain citrus-selling singer was opening a state fair, I've had a fundamental dislike for that singer. It seems the singer was to perform with the band but, before she even appeared, her husband -- who also happened to be her manager -- instructed the officer in charge of the band that no enlisted men would be allowed to speak to her. She would, naturally, speak to and sign autographs for the officers, but she was off-limits to enlisted personnel.

No, it didn't matter then that most of the enlisted musicians were draftees who had had college and post-graduate training in music and could out-play and out-think the less than articulate career soldiers who happened to be officers. No, what was important, of course, was the matter of image. The singer certainly didn't want to be seen with mere enlisted men lest the orange juice buying public would get the wrong idea.

The point, of course, is that Ms. Bryant is taking a calculated risk in assuming a visible and vocal position atop the citadel of good Christian living. (Anything less than a lieutenant is surely closer to a dog than a pagan. And, what pain it would cause "good Christians" to associate with the base and sordid elements of this world.)

It seems Ms. Bryant must liken orange juice to those other "pure" attributes of middle America such as apple pie, motherhood and the flag. And, God knows, anybody who promotes orange juice must be as wholesome as the purest driven snow. The matter of image is foremost with Ms. Bryant. She is in the business of selling orange juice and what better way to do it than to set one's self up as God's champion on earth ... fighting the uncouth; the un-American; yes, and even the un-Godly. Indeed, I can hear it now. "C'mon, Martha, push that damned cart over to the orange juice section. Those goddamned fairies ain't gonna' push me around." And, somehow, a blow has been struck for democracy.

Some of us pursue more noble goals than selling orange juice and promoting stupidity. Some of us attempt -- in our own little ways -- to make our live and the live of those around us a little more loving; a little more sane. Some of us even try to understand the motivations of stupid people, which brings me to share the following thoughts.

This summer I overheard a young man tell his girlfriend that the novel she was reading, which happend to be 1876 by Gore Vidal, was a good book and Vidal is a good writer, "but," the young man said, "Vidal is a homosexual which tends to color his writing. Rex Reed and Tennessee Williams are fags, too. And Truman Capote ... Jesus, what a screaming queen. See," the young man continued, "I had a drama teacher in high school who filled us in on all this stuff. The arts tend to attract queers like flies to sugar."

This incredible nonsense still persists. Children in American society are conditioned from the very beginning of their lives to fear and even to hate homosexuals who, if they listen to Ms. Bryant and others, are out to recruit them into a life lived exclusively in public toilets and dark X-rated movie houses; a life where sex is prusued to the exclusion of all things in life which have meaning: education, good jobs, mortgages, off-road vehicles, god, wives/husbands, kids, guns. And, even if a person who happens to be gay does make some contribution to humanity, that contribution is somehow "colored" by his/her deviation. Hmmmm.... Michelangelo's Pieta becomes less than exquisitely beautiful; Gertrude Stein becomes less than genius; Walt Whitman's Song of Myself becomes less than, what I believe to be, a profound insight into the meaning, the essence of existentialism by which my life is guided. Oh, yes, this incredible nonsense does persist. This incredible stupidity is espoused so brazenly that it is not so much sickening as it is sad. Yes, to borrow from Elton John, it's a sad, sad situation and it's getting more and more absurd.

Anita Bryant has quited down, but not without making her point. The young man's drama teacher, no doubt, continues to "color" the worth of gay artists with his revelations about their sexuality. And we, as gay people, continue to live our lives in the face of all this nonsense, reaching deep within ourselves and discovering the one consoling factor which negates the hate and fear directed at us to utter meaningless diatribe: we discover our capacity to love and to be loved which is of far reater importance and an infinitely more potent force than anything coming our way from the pitiful homophobes who disseminate good, Christian hate wrapped grandisouly in the stars and stripes.

"Equal Protection" in Montana

This from the New York Times is a good read with regard to a Montana State Supreme Court decision with regard to "equal protection" constitutional mandates compelling the Montana higher education system to provide domestic partner health benefits. It reads, in part:

"Sadly," Justice Nelson wrote, "many politicians and 'we the people' rarely pass up an opportunity to bash and condemn gays and lesbians despite the fact that these citizens are our neighbors and that they work, pay taxes, vote, hold public office, own businesses, provide professional services, worship, raise their families and serve their communities in the same manner as heterosexuals."

Barenaked, the Moon and Blue

Barenaked, the Moon and Blue

This Morning's Run - Mount Evans

This Morning's Run - Mount Evans

Thursday, December 30, 2004

Letters From the Earth

The death toll is now up to over 100,000 as a result of the South Asian earthquake and tsunamis. My prior post wondered, in a way, how God could inflict such horror upon his children.

Mark Twain's Letters From The Earth wonders at the same thing:

"Many of these people [those who take the lessons of the Bible literally] have the reasoning faculty, but no one uses it in religious matters.

"The best minds will tell you that when a man has begotten a child he is morally bound to tenderly care for it, protect it from hurt, shield it from disease, clothe it, feed it, bear with its waywardness, lay no hand upon it save in kindness and for its own good, and never in any case inflict upon it a wanton cruelty. Gods' treatment of his earthly children, every day and every night, is the exact opposite of all that, yet those best minds warmly justify these crimes, condone them, excuse them, and indignantly refuse to regard them as crimes at all, when he commits them."

Earlier, Twain notes:

"One of his [the human being's] principal religions is called the Christian. A sketch of it will interest you. It is set forth in detail in a book containing two million words, called the Old and the New Testaments. Also it has another name -- The Word of God. For the Christian thinks every word of it was dictated by God...

"It is full of interest. It has noble poetry in it; and some clever fables; and some blood-drenched history; and some good morals; and a wealth of obscenity; and upwards of a thousand lies."

A thousand lies...

Wednesday, December 29, 2004

The Flu

Thank God for toilets.

And, no, I can't actually thank Thomas Crapper for the toilet because it appears he may not have invented the wonderful device, afterall.

It all started on Christmas day when David and I headed over to my nephew Drew's and his wife Shelley's beautiful new home. All the Denver nephews and nieces and great nephews and nieces as well as grandma and grandpa were there. David and I hadn't been there but maybe five minutes when it was announced by my nephew Pat's wife, Sarah, that they all -- she spread her arms in the air enveloping the entire family -- had been sick with the flu and were just now getting over it and, boy oh boy, the headache was the worst.

"Okay, we're outa' here," I said to David, jokingly, but knowing, really knowing that I would get it; I would share the misery of my family's recent affliction. It was just in the stars.

Two a.m. Monday morning I wake up with a dizzyingly intense throb right above my eyes; the kind of ache that whispers you might as well just go throw-up now, 'cause if you don't do it now, you're gonna be gettin' up later to do it. I didn't get up and I didn't throw-up. I think all the stomach and digestion related medications I take daily probably saved my ass -- ah, wrong word in this context -- saved my stomach from reversing course and well, you know...

So, I get up Monday morning with the Muther of all headaches, nauseous and rumbling in my intestines that we've all experienced and have come to understand will, without a doubt, evolve into something a little more sinister; a little more ... potent. And, indeed, it did. And, every bone and muscle in my body throbbed with the intensity of a fifteen-year-old's orgasm. (That's a good throb, though. Can't think of an appropriate bad throb right now. Give me a break. I've got the flu.)

Thank God for toilets.

I asked Shelley how long this little menace lasted for them all and she advised, "It hits hard. A good four or five days."

I'm into day three.

I haven't run since Sunday. But, after my visitation to the throne early each morning -- and before the next spasm occurs -- I've still loaded Melissa up into the Explorer and we've still made it to the park and circled the lake ... a brisk walk which passes several portable toilets situated around the lake's edge. It is small comfort the portable toilets are there. I mean, have you ever utilized a public, portable toilet? Ugh!

There was a great view of Mount Evans from the lake this morning that I really, really wanted to get a shot of. But, alas, those little rumblings in the lower abdomen suggested that Melissa and I had best be on our way.

I hope this is the flu. I didn't get a flu shot this year. I probably could have. I'm over fifty and do have asthma. But, with the shortage of vaccine and all (way to go Homeland Security!) I opted not to pursue it.

Why anyone would be interested in this post is beyond me.

But, it's occasionally fun to just post something quite inane which, in the great scheme, the great purpose of bloggerspace probably means absolutely nothing.

P.S. If you've got the flu, believe me, day three is the turning point. I do feel better.

Monday, December 27, 2004

God is Great, God is Good

Listening to talk radio this morning -- (the topic, of course, being the horrible events in South Asia -- the 9.0 earthquake and the tsunamis) -- brought many, many fundamentalistic Christians to the phones to almost giddily proclaim the end days are here; that the truths contained within the Apocalypse of Saint John the Divine are barreling down that cosmic track and ain't nobody gonna escape the wrath of the Lord/God.

Question from the talk show host: "Okay. Then God caused this horrible event -- killing children, babies, the innocent -- because there's some kind of plan; some step-by-step plan that will bring the end of the world?"

Caller: "Of course."

Question from the talk show host: "Now, tell me: What happened to all those innocent children and babies that died? Did they all go to heaven? What happened to them?"

Caller: "Well, if they hadn't accepted Jesus Christ into their hearts as their lord and savior then, the Bible tells us, they went to hell."

Question from the talk show host: "But, see, we're talking about Muslims, Buddhists ... Of course these innocent children hadn't accepted Jesus Christ as their lord and savior."

Caller: "He is a harsh taskmaster."

Question from the talk show host: "Who is a harsh taskmaster."

Caller: "God."

And, so it went...

I guess what I find so disturbing about all of this is the ability of fundamentalistic Christians (and, come to think of it, fundamentalistic Muslims, too) to see great tragedy, immense death and destruction as divinely inspired; as something that confirms that God is Great, God is Good.

But, then, of course we know that God is Great and God is Good, don't we. He annointed Dubya to carry out His plan, didn't He.

So far, twenty-two thousand deaths. The island of Sri Lanka actually moved 100 feet to the Southwest. Five-hundred mile per hour waves hitting, drowning, killing the poorest of the poor.

Yeah, God is Great and God is Good. So good....

Sunday, December 26, 2004

Dan Bern & The Day After Christmas

Okay, it's the day after Christmas and the essential polemic must continue.

First of all this from the New York Times: "I certainly understand the need to balance the federal budget, but people need to remember that to balance the federal budget off the backs of the poorest people in the country is simply unacceptable. You don't pull feeding tubes from people. You don't pull the wheelchair out from under the child with muscular dystrophy."GOV. MIKE HUCKABEE, of Arkansas, on a bipartisan lobbying effort by governors to stave off federal cuts in Medicaid allotments.

Also, this morning's New York Times provided this (which also appeared in the Denver Post) with regard to the kind of democracy Ol' Dubya forsees for Iraq. The article suggests that even if the minority population of Sunnis in Iraq don't do well at the polls that they should be guaranteed positions in the government and even possibly seats in the parliament.

Sure sounds like wholsome democracy to me.

I've discovered Dan Bern.

I think Bern is best described as a GenX Bob Dylan. You should check out the lyrics to some of his songs. Talkin' the Al Kida Blues begins:

It was a beautiful day in New York town
Folks jogging, biking, walking 'round
When a couple of airplanes came around
Hit the big towers, knocked 'em down
Worst disaster on US soil ever!
Course, there's the Indians, a few million slaves ... Enron ... Anyway, it was
worse than Pearl Harbor!

The tragedy of 911 is not diminished by any historical perspective. But, it is important to maintain that perspective as part of the polemic. David and I have flown the stars and bars from our front porch since the day after 911. But, we do not fly it for Dubya and his minions; James Dobson or Pat Robertson; the neocon goons. No, we fly it for the rest of us; that 49% who dare to believe there is something better for America and the world than what Dubya has provided. And, of course, we fly it for our brothers and sisters who Dubya has put in harm's way throughout the world.

Friday, December 24, 2004

Christmas Eve -- Just a P.S.

Shelley, Aidan's mom, and my nephew Drew are expecting ... as in pregnant. Now, let's see, counting the months it might be a late September LIBRA baby.

LIBRAs rule, by the way!

Christmas Eve - Thoughts and Nonsense

After two nights with temperatures in the single digits, Berkeley Lake (where Sweet Melissa and I run each morning) is frozen over. The geese and the ducks have left the lake. Only the gulls remain. I wonder where the geese and the ducks go?

David and I are having John and Fred and maybe Brian over for Christmas Eve dinner today. Brian, unfortunately, is babysitting three dogs -- one with special needs -- and may not be able to make it. David -- who becomes an eight-year-old child during Christmastime -- is already busily putting the meal together as I write this post. We're having ham and the fixin's. And, AND, David is making John's favorite desert, Key Lime pie. Kewl, huh!

Tomorrow, David and I will head over to my nephew and niece's new home for Christmas (presents, pictures, dinner) with my family. David's family is in Washington State (Yakima) and since he has gone back there twice already this year, he won't be with them on Christmas. His mom -- who beat breast cancer -- just had open heart surgery to replace a valve and perform a triple bypass. Perform? I guess that's the right word. Sounds like a tap dance or something.

Oh, by the way, congratulations to Dunner who got his LSAT (Law School Admission Test) score back. He reports that the score equals his weight ... sometimes. His reported weight is 165, which is a very, very good score.

Well, probably ought to help David downstairs in the kitchen. Just being within his space is infectious; his Christmas giddiness pervades all.

Lastly, God bless the men and women fighting Dubya's war(s) around the world. Let's bring them home.

In case you're wondering, I'm not really sure who or what God is. My very first post with regard to Dr. Laura provided this: "Yes, and when Dr. Laura gets to the Pearly Gates, perhaps God -- who is probably a three-hundred pound black dyke who doesn't shave her legs or armpits and just loves little skinny Jewish ladies; perhaps God will stare Dr. Laura right between the eyes and say: 'You've got a lot of explaining to do, young lady!!!'"

Okay. I'll end this here. Merry Christmas (Christian or not) and please pray (whatever it is you do at the end of the day, as you stare into the darkness just before sleep) for peace; food for the starving; comfort for the sick and hurting and (just between you and me) that Santa brings me a pony.

Merry Christmas!

This Morning's Run - Frozen Lake - Only the Gulls Remain

This Morning's Run - Frozen Lake - Only the Gulls Remain

This Morning's Run - Long's Peak

This Morning's Run - Long's Peak

Friday, December 17, 2004

The Salvation Army

This is the Salvation Army's mission statement:

"The Salvation Army, an international movement, is an evangelical part of the universal Christian Church. Its message is based on the Bible. Its ministry is motivated by the love of God. Its mission is to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ and to meet human needs in His name without discrimination. --Salvation Army mission statement."

Now, I guess it's the without discrimination that bothers me just a little bit. What do you suppose the Salvation Army thinks of homa-sex-ya'lls? Well -- although I hate to do this because the site is ... well, you'll see, but the kid in the Boy Scout salute picture is really kinda' cute -- the Salvation Army is, as it's mission statement implies, evangelical, which, of course means anti-queer; which, of course, means we really do love ya'll, but really hate your sin.

No, we -- David and I -- do not drop coins into the Salvation Army bucket.

Interestingly, the Rocky Mountain News provided the following in yesterday's edition:

Drunken bell ringer arrested, jailed after fight

By Rocky Mountain NewsDecember 17, 2004

"A drunken Salvation Army bell ringer was arrested Thursday afternoon after getting into a fight with a Safeway employee inside a Denver store, police said.

"David Duncan, 46, was jailed on 11 outstanding warrants. Nine of them were for public consumption of alcohol and two for trespassing.

"Police were called to the store at 560 Corona St. about 2 p.m. after the fight broke out."

Okay, drunks and felonious interlopers are welcomed into the Salvation Army family. But queers? Nope. No way. No how.

As I said, David and I do not drop coins into the red bucket.

Thursday, December 16, 2004

Good Soldiers

This "Quotation of the Day" from the New York Times: "People see the figure of 1,200 dead. Much more rarely do they see the number of seriously wounded. And almost never do they hear anything at all about the psychiatric casualties."DR. EVAN KANTER, a psychiatrist at a veterans' hospital in Seattle.

The above quote coupled with this, also from the New York Times, remains a pitiful but run-of-the-mill (if you will) commentary on the horrors of war, any war, that will continue to plague this country -- not to mention Iraq -- for generations to come.

I'll make this post short, with two quotes that seem ... well, appropriate:

"A good soldier has his heart and soul in it. When he receives any order, he gets a hard on, and when he sends his lance into the enemy's guts, he comes... He lets himself be torn to pieces for his superior officer, and as he lies dying he takes note that his corporal is nodding approval. That's reward enough for him. That's all he wants."

Bertolt Brecht -- The Caucasian Chalk Circle

"I am no longer a soldier. Soldiering, my dear madam, is the coward's art of attacking mercilessly when you are strong, and keeping out of harm's way when you are weak. That is the whole secret of successful fighting. Get you enemy at a disadvantage: and never, on any account, fight him on equal terms."

George Berhard Shaw -- Arms and the Man

As I revisit these quotes, I keep thinking of Dubya's "...bring 'em on..." jingoist, SPC (small penis complex) exhortation.

God, what a fucking mess this has turned out to be. But, then, God is on our side. Isn't he.

Wednesday, December 15, 2004


The details are probably unimportant, but the lesson, the revelations are important.

Suffice it to say, I believed that a fellow blogger -- someone on my "Worth a Read" list -- had posted an inappropriate comment on one of my picture posts and, additionally, had provided a comment on one of my posts that was, well, absurd. My reaction: I removed the blogger from my "Worth a Read" list.

It's funny. I don't really mean funny, but probably instructive that, through consistently reading the posts of fellow bloggers, we get an idea, some little insight into the character, the essential core of the blogger. And, unfortunately, I didn't rely upon my gut in wrongly assuming that a fellow blogger had done me wrong.

I suppose the lesson I've learned is, unlike other resources on the web, bloggers do, indeed, provide the essential truths of themselves in their posts; that bloggers -- at least the ones I read -- are good and decent people who are just trying to find their way. Or, have found their way and are just reporting the joys of that discovery.

Anyway, I apologize to the blogger who I assumed was responsible for the inappropriate comments on two of my posts.

Blog on, good people.

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

This Morninging's Run - Snow on the Front Range

This Morningin's Run - Snow on the Front Range

The Progessive Movement - Grassroots

Whatever you may think of Michael Moore, this piece reflects pretty much where I believe we ought to be heading these days. The good words -- included in this piece -- from Mel Giles, an abuse counselor, are prophetic, I believe. Those words read, in part:

"First, you must admit you are a victim. Then, you must declare the state of affairs unacceptable. Next, you must promise to protect yourself and everyone around you that is being victimized. You don't do this by responding to their [Dubya's minions] demands, or becoming more like them, or engaging in logical conversation, or trying to persuade them that you are right. You also don't do this by going catatonic and resigned, by closing up your ears and eyes and covering your head and submitting to the blows, figuring its over faster and hurts less if you don't resist and fight back.

"Instead, you walk away. You find other folks like yourself, 57 million of them, who are hurting, broken, and beating themselves up. You tell them what you've learned, and that you aren't going to take it anymore. You stand tall, with 57 million people at your side and behind you, and you look right into the eyes of the abuser and you tell him to go to hell. Then you walk out the door, taking the kids and gays and minorities with you, and you start a new life. The new life is hard. But it's better than the abuse.

"We have a mandate to be as radical and liberal and steadfast as we need to be. The progressive beliefs and social justice we stand for, our core, must not be altered. We are 57 million strong. We are building from the bottom up. We are meeting, on the net, in church basements, at work, in small groups, and right now, we are crying, because we are trying to break free and we don't know how."

We'll certainly figure out how to break free. Hopefully, before the 2006 elections.

Right On!

Monday, December 13, 2004

My Grand Nephew Aidan in his Bronco Orange

My Grand Nephew Aidan in his Bronco Orange

A Writer's Faith

This from Alternet is wondeful. It is a piece about sisters whose lives diverged at adolescence, with one eventually becoming "born again," a religious place where all questions are answered ... where the world is so black and white; and the other sister, well -- like most of us who believe there's a little room for gray in the world --is just still trying to figure things out. I do believe those of us who write -- even if it's just a daily blog post -- will connect to these good words which read, in part:

"I have a strong hunch that everyone in an early stage of belief might feel this combination of anxiety and relief – no matter what kind of belief it is. I also suspect that it always gets more complex, and that is always leads inward. I suspect as much because I've witnessed it in myself. For all I contend about the differences between Mara's life and my own, I also know that writing has been for me a kind of spiritual path. It is an ever-evolving set of choices that brings me closer to people while allowing me the personal space and the independent integrity that I need."

Sunday, December 12, 2004

Tim Gill, Hickenlooper and a New Photo Posting Service

This from the Denver Post this morning about Denver's own Tim Gill, founder of Quark and, today, an human rights activist who -- along with a couple other good folks -- was probably more responsible for electing some good Democrats in Colorado statewide races which resulted in Democratic majorities in both houses of the Colorado Legislature ... something we haven't seen around here for a long, long time.

Gill, who is worth something over $400 Million, conducted what has come to be called a stealth campaign to defeat Republicans and elect good Democrats. Quoting from the Post article:

"The last time he got this mad - when Amendment 2, repealing anti-discrimination laws for gays and lesbians [in Colorado] almost became law - he forked over $1 million to create the Gill Foundation. Now celebrating its 10th anniversary, the foundation is the nation's largest charity devoted to issues concerning the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community, with an endowment of $220 million.

"This time - when a GOP legislator proposed requiring parental consent before schools could teach about certain kinds of human sexuality - Gill spent nearly $700,000 helping upset the status quo."

The Post story is a good read.

This, also from the Post reports on our business mayor's (John Hickenlooper's) inability to reshape that damned bureauocracy into a lean, clean fightin' machine after eighteen months into his incumbency. And, now that I think about it, eighteen months is about three/eighths into hizzoner's term. Better get moving, guy.

And, another thing... Weren't you and the City Council going to turn the city's personnel system upside down; create a world class personnel system that would be the envy of every major city in the United States? Where's that in the ol' things to do hopper?

Finally, as you can see below, I'm once again able to post pictures. I went to flickr which, so far, has been working great. It was becoming simply too frustrating not knowing from one day to the next if the Picasa/Hello functionality was going to work. And, I'm not saying that that lack of functionality was the fault of Picasa/Hello. Maybe it was my system. Maybe it was the blog. Who knows. But, I had to resolve the issue and the new service is working well.

Gray Day on the Lake

Gray Day on the Lake

Saturday, December 11, 2004

Skyfire in Denver This Morning

Skyfire in Denver This Morning

Promise of Pictures - Mayor Hickenlooper's Faux Pas

Got some great shots, this morning, of another firery sunrise in Denver as Melissa and I headed out for our run. Wanted to post a couple of the pictures but, once again, something is wrong and the uploads keeping erroring out. Oh, well...

Have been wanting to comment on our Mayor of eighteen months, John Hickenlooper, for some time now, but just haven't gotten the chance. Now, today -- a lazy Saturday with the wind blowing pretty hard; overcast sky, but predictions that we may reach seventy degrees. Ugh! -- I thought I'd get down to what's been on my mind about our fine Mayor.

First of all, Denver's City and County Building is decorated each year for the holidays with, among other things, a Nativity scene and, on top of the huge granite edifice, are the words "Merry Christmas" in red lights.

Well, on a whim, apparently without even thinking about it, Hickenlooper told a reporter that next year he wanted to replace the "Merry Christmas" with "Happy Holidays," because he said it would be more inclusive; afterall, not everyone celebrates Christmas.

Peter Boyles, an early-morning talk show host here in Denver, created -- as he usually does -- a tempest out of this teapot and spent probably about eight hours of airtime over two or three days calling Hickenlooper's decision absurd.

Now, as I think I've noted in some previous post, radio talkshow hosts are the most prolific whores on the face of the earth. They'll hump any bullshit issue for all it's worth; 'til the cows come home; 'til the fat lady... Well, you get the point. And, that's what Boyles did.

But, Boyles' point was interesting. He argued that there really isn't any Christ in Christmas anymore anyway; that non-Christians, as well as lapsed Christians, as well as deists as well as pretty much everyone else who lives in America celebrates Christmas as a merry secular experience. And, AND, of course, devout Christians still have a wee bit of an interest in keeping Christ in Christmas. So, replacing the "Merry Christmas" lights with "Happy Holidays" would, in fact, be excluding folks.

So, silly mayor, what on earth motivated you to raise the hackles of a whole lot of folks who kinda' like the "Merry Christmas" lights on the roof of the City and County Building?

Hickenlooper suggested that it was his inexperience as a politician which led him to make the capricious decision.

Now, wait a minute... Hickenlooper (a brewer of beer, a restauanteur and millionaire prior to becoming mayor) won an overwhelming victory against a tried and competent public servant by smiling a lot, brushing his boyish-styled hair out of his face (he's 51) and telling the good people of Denver he was going to give Denver a business administration that would surely derail the bureaucratic detritus that was surely clogging up the flow of government and, by golly, he'd reform Denver's Parking Management and Permitting/Planning Departments immediately.

Sounds like a politician to me.

You know, now that I think about it, our good mayor loves photo ops (like any good politician). Indeed, instead of letting some precious little child with a life-threatening disease push the button to turn on the Christmas lights at the City and County Building (as most other mayors had done) he did it himself (brushing his boyish-styled hair out of his face). And, at the opening of the new Colorado Convention Center, guess who undertook the ribbon cutting. Yup, our self- described politically naive John Hickenlooper. (Got a big picture on the front page for that one.) Could he have, perhaps, let two or three former City Council members do the ribbon cutting? Or the former Mayor? I mean it was in the prior administration where the hard work was performed to build the damned thing. But, no, our anti-politician, business mayor smiled big for those camers (brushing his boyish-styled hair out of his face).

Incidentally, Hick hasn't been able to accomplish the reformation of Parking Management and the Permit/Planning Departments yet. A story in the Denver Post a few days ago reported that his Chief of Staff noted the job was taking a little longer and was proving to be a little bit harder than they had anticipated.

No shit!

Anyway, that's what's been on my mind for a couple weeks. And, today, the Rocky Mountain News reported that Hickenlooper is being touted as a good bet to run for Governor of Colorado in 2006. He'll probably do well if he just keeps smiling and putting that hand through his hair.

What else could we possibly expect from our business mayor?

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

Yesterday's Post and Duh! You Democrats

I read yesterday's post this morning and wondered what dyslexic drunk had created that strange piece, 'cause I sure didn't do it. I have only one explanation: yesterday was a bad asthma day, and I was pumping in the the Albuterol like it was candy. Whether or not Albuterol can make you a little crazy, I happened to look at the doctor's directions on the box which advise that one should suck that stuff in only once every six hours. I'm new to this. Or, let me say that my childhood asthma has returned with a particular vengence and, after forty or more years, I'm sucking on inhalers again. Yesterday, I was taking a hit about once every half-hour which, I guess, is really not a good idea ... witness yesterday's post. However, I have fixed yesterday's post and sincerely hope anyone who tried to read it before it was fixed will, at least, take into consideration that I was overdosing on Albuterol.

Is it possible to overdose on Albuterol? I don't know. But, that's my story and I'm stickin' to it.

Now, Duh! you Democrats. The November 3rd Theses seems, for me, to capture pretty much what's been dawning on my small brain after the November 2nd revelation that you guys, you Democrats, have lost your soul and really need to rethink and redirect where you're going or where you want to go. The Depression is gone -- now by more that seventy years. You beat the Hun and Tojo in the last Great War. You gave us minimum wage and social security.

Pat on the back, Democrats, for what you've done for America. But, now, please understand, as the November 3rd Theses advises, "Insanity is continuing to do the same things over and over again and expecting a different result."

I am proud not to be registered in Denver as a Democrat, but, rather, as "unaffiliated" which, I guess, gives me some little integrity. I once wrote that, "Democrats are moved by some virulent devil -- or angel? -- to assume the role of dissatisfied, disorganized, self-disturbing individuals whose only redemption is that their base of inclusion is so broad and their hearts are, generally, so big that their appeal will, more often than not, get them where they want to go -- in relation to success at the polls, that is. One wonders, occasionally if this society of ours would be infinitely better off without the, at times, destructive influences of the Democratic Party. Indeed, the propensity of Democrats to court trouble moved Clare Boothe Luce to observe that, 'The Democratic Party has a vested interest in depression at home and war abroad. Its leaders are always troubadours of trouble; crooners of catastrophe. Public confusion on vital issues is Democratic weather. A Democratic President is doomed to proceed to his goals like a squid, squirting darkness all about him.'"

"...depression at home and war abroad..." Goodness, sounds a little like Dubya's accomplishments to date.

In my own experience, Denver Democrats have always been odd characters -- something like the legendary Colorado Jackalope who hasn't, to this day, figured out if it is a jackrabbit or an antelope. Yes, Denver Democrats have tended to be the most confused and confusing, disorganized, dissatisfied, raucous, rude, crude, ill-mannered and sometimes violent bunch of buffoons and bumpkins, ward heelers and wheelers and dealers that have ever had the superb temerity to present themselves to the good citizens of Denver as serious candidates for serious public offices.

But, admittedly, in Denver Democrats rule. I believe Kerry carried Denver by more than seventy percent and, for the first time in many, many years, the Colorado Legislature has a Democratic majority in both houses.

But, nationally, things have gotta' change. I think Democrats really need to take a serious look at the fundamentalist Christian movement which, after Pat Robertson (700 Club, Christian Broadcasting Network) aggressively participated in Presidential primaries in, I believe, 1988 -- and actually won or came in second in a few -- and, as a result, got a pretty good grounding in the art of American politics. Coming away from his experience, Robertson began a methodical, aggressive, intelligent campaign, precinct by precinct throughout America, to organize the faithful; to prepare for the enormous victory they finally achieved in 2004.

The November 3rd Theses proclaims, in essence, that liberalism is dead. I agree.

Now, the hard work begins.

P.S. Wellington Webb, Denver's ex-Mayor is pushing hard to become the Chairman of the Democratic National Committee. I really like Wellington, but, hey, he's a traditional Democrat who understands the old-style politics; the same old shit the Democrats have been pushing for decades. I think the Democrats need new blood; young blood; aggressive, firery leaders whose vision can transcend the traditional Democratic -- what has become -- myopia.

Monday, December 06, 2004

Rober Novak as Asshole - The Destruction of the Environment as Divinely Inspired

AlterNet this morning provided some very, very interesting and cogent pieces. Let me quote from this piece which provides an intriguing profile of Robert Novak, the Right's "Prince of Darkness:"

"He is not without the charm that serves to temper his reputation as the 'Prince of Darkness.' ('I think he gave himself that nickname,' one of his colleagues later told me.) But it's a forced charm – I've read most of Novak's lines in previous profiles of the guy. I'm reminded of the description of Novak, sometimes attributed to Michael Kinsley, which a number of sources volunteered: 'Beneath the asshole is a very decent guy, and beneath the very decent guy is an asshole." I am not under the illusion that he will reveal some new or interesting anecdote during our talk, and he is not under the illusion that I will press him on anything he hasn't already heard. At age 73, Novak has dealt with much tougher challenges than being profiled by a small-circulation political magazine.'"

Then, from Bill Moyers (who I admire immensely as a writer, as a thinker) AlterNet provided this piece which presented Moyers' acceptance speech for the Harvard Medical School's annual Global Environmental Citizen Award.

If you can't read the whole piece, please read these excerpts:

"As difficult as it is, however, for journalists to fashion a readable narrative for complex issues without depressing our readers and viewers, there is an even harder challenge – to pierce the ideology that governs official policy today. One of the biggest changes in politics in my lifetime is that the delusional is no longer marginal. It has come in from the fringe, to sit in the seat of power in the oval office and in Congress. For the first time in our history, ideology and theology hold a monopoly of power in Washington. Theology asserts propositions that cannot be proven true; ideologues hold stoutly to a world view despite being contradicted by what is generally accepted as reality. When ideology and theology couple, their offspring are not always bad but they are always blind. And there is the danger: voters and politicians alike, oblivious to the facts.

"Remember James Watt, President Reagan's first Secretary of the Interior? My favorite online environmental journal, the ever engaging Grist, reminded us recently of how James Watt told the U.S. Congress that protecting natural resources was unimportant in light of the imminent return of Jesus Christ. In public testimony he said, 'after the last tree is felled, Christ will come back.'

"Beltway elites snickered. The press corps didn't know what he was talking about. But James Watt was serious. So were his compatriots out across the country. They are the people who believe the bible is literally true – one-third of the American electorate, if a recent Gallup poll is accurate. In this past election several million good and decent citizens went to the polls believing in the rapture index. That's right – the rapture index. Google it and you will find that the best-selling books in America today are the twelve volumes of the left-behind series written by the Christian fundamentalist and religious right warrior, Timothy LaHaye. These true believers subscribe to a fantastical theology concocted in the 19th century by a couple of immigrant preachers who took disparate passages from the Bible and wove them into a narrative that has captivated the imagination of millions of Americans.

"...As Grist makes clear, we're not talking about a handful of fringe lawmakers who hold or are beholden to these beliefs. Nearly half the U.S. Congress before the recent election – 231 legislators in total – more since the election – are backed by the religious right. Forty-five senators and 186 members of the 108th congress earned 80 to 100 percent approval ratings from the three most influential Christian right advocacy groups. They include Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, Assistant Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Conference Chair Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania, Policy Chair Jon Kyl of Arizona, House Speaker Dennis Hastert, and Majority Whip Roy Blunt. The only Democrat to score 100 percent with the Christian coalition was Senator Zell Miller of Georgia, who recently quoted from the biblical book of Amos on the senate floor: 'the days will come, sayeth the Lord God, that i will send a famine in the land.' He seemed to be relishing the thought.

"And why not? There's a constituency for it. A 2002 TIME/CNN poll found that 59 percent of Americans believe that the prophecies found in the book of Revelations are going to come true. Nearly one-quarter think the Bible predicted the 9/11 attacks. Drive across the country with your radio tuned to the more than 1,600 Christian radio stations or in the motel turn some of the 250 Christian TV stations and you can hear some of this end-time gospel. And you will come to understand why people under the spell of such potent prophecies cannot be expected, as Grist puts it, 'to worry about the environment. Why care about the earth when the droughts, floods, famine and pestilence brought by ecological collapse are signs of the apocalypse foretold in the bible? Why care about global climate change when you and yours will be rescued in the rapture? And why care about converting from oil to solar when the same god who performed the miracle of the loaves and fishes can whip up a few billion barrels of light crude with a word?'

"...Because these people believe that until Christ does return, the lord will provide. One of their texts is a high school history book, America's providential history. You'll find there these words: 'the secular or socialist has a limited resource mentality and views the world as a pie... that needs to be cut up so everyone can get a piece.' However, '[t]he Christian knows that the potential in god is unlimited and that there is no shortage of resources in god's earth... while many secularists view the world as overpopulated, Christians know that god has made the earth sufficiently large with plenty of resources to accommodate all of the people.' No wonder Karl Rove goes around the White House whistling that militant hymn, 'Onward Christian Soldiers.' He turned out millions of the foot soldiers on November 2, including many who have made the apocalypse a powerful driving force in modern American politics."

Final thoughts: Evangelical Christians have, since Reagan, done their homework well. They've molded a political power base that is powerful, potent and which cannot be ignorned by politicians ... Democrats as well as Repbulicans. But, it is quite scary to understand that a whole lot of good and decent folks, these Evangelical Christians, believe profoundly that the destruction of the earth's environment is part of God's plan and, therefore, acceptable, inevitable, divinely inspired.

"When ideology and theology couple, their offspring are not always bad but they are always blind." This from the Bill Moyers in the above piece.

God Bless America.

Friday, December 03, 2004

Berkeley Park

Admittedly, a very parochial post, but something that I feel is important (sent to the North Denver Tribune):

Helen Hu’s, “Dog Park still in pilot stage,” provides some comments from a Sunnyside resident (I really don’t know how you find these folks!) who suggests that, “If you eliminate the dog park, you’ll have an area that I wouldn’t want my kids to run around in.”

Okay. Fine. So, I guess this person is for the dog park. I mean, lordy, we couldn’t have her kids running around amidst the leavings of dogs, albeit those leavings are very responsibly tidied-up by the dog owners themselves. But, then, no, we are told that this Sunnyside resident doesn’t understand why we need dog parks in the first place. “…what did they do before the dog parks?” she wonders, apparently assuming all dogs have yards at home in which to run free. She then, according to Hu, questions the cost of fences and maintenance for the dog park in consideration of a tight city budget.

You know, being unmarried and childless (except for Sweet Melissa who is a four-legged, precocious and demanding child), I don’t question the enormous amount of city funds that are expended to keep Ms. Hu’s Sunnyside resident and her children happy in our parks: soccer fields, swimming pools, tennis courts, basketball courts, arts and crafts programs at recreation centers and, of course, the list goes on and on. You know, I don’t even resent my property taxes going to the Denver Public School system where, I assume, this Sunnyside resident’s children are being educated.

I do wonder, however, about a few other things that I’ve noticed during my daily – 365 days a year – visitation to Berkeley Park where a wonderful and intensely utilized dog park is situated. I wonder if Ms. Hu’s Sunnyside resident ever gives a moment’s concern to the used prophylactics that – especially during the spring and summer – litter the parking areas of the park and, indeed, are left within the spread of the great and ancient spruce and pine trees that grace the great lawns of Berkeley? I wonder if Ms. Hu’s Sunnyside resident ever becomes concerned about the plastic bottles and Styrofoam containers; Taco Bell, McDonalds and Burger King paper sacks that have been thrown into and remain on the surface of the lake – mostly along the southern shore? I wonder if Ms. Hu’s Sunnyside resident’s children have ever picked up a used hypodermic needle, beer or whiskey bottle which has been left alongside a picnic table or next to the trunk of a tree or in one of the parking lots of Berkeley? I wonder if Ms. Hu’s Sunnyside resident has ever noticed the deep gouges of someone’s SUV in the Berkeley lawns because, wow!, wouldn’t it be cool to jump the curb and do wheelies on the grass of the park?

May I be so bold as to suggest that dogs and their owners are not responsible for what I believe to be the obscene misuse of Berkeley Park? May I be so bold as to suggest that Ms. Hu’s Sunnyside resident should understand that the wonderful dog enclosure at Berkeley is somehow a civilizing entity for the park; is a place, a wonderful place, where folks treasure the simple pleasures of life which, by the way, include experiencing a dog run against the wind to grab a ball or a stick; which include the care, the meticulous care that dog owners take to assure the dog enclosure remains safe, clean and healthy for their loved ones, their dogs.

One can only hope that Ms. Hu’s Sunnyside resident would become more concerned about the harm, the disgusting harm human beings inflict upon Berkeley Park rather than the possibility one of her precious wards might step in a pile of... Well, you get the point.

Thursday, December 02, 2004

World AIDS Day - December 1, 2004

The Sunday edition of the New York Times had a very poignant, sad, revealing piece with regard to the immensity of the scourge HIV has become in Southern Africa. The piece is entitled: "AIDS Steals Life in a Southern African Town." Unfortunately, the link to the specific article doesn't work. It reads, in part:

It has the appearance of a biblical cataclysm, a thousand-year flood of misery and death. In fact, it is all too ordinary. Tiny Lavumisa, population 2,000, is the template for a demographic plunge taking place in every corner of southern Africa.

Across the region, AIDS has reduced life expectancy to levels not seen since the 1800's. In six sub-Saharan nations, the United Nations estimates, the average child born today will not live to 40.

Here in Swaziland, a kingdom about the size of New Jersey with one million people tucked into South Africa's northeast corner, two in five adults are infected with H.I.V., the virus that causes AIDS. Life expectancy now averages 34.4 years, the fourth lowest on earth. Fifteen years ago, it stood at 55. By 2010, experts predict, it will be 30.


This from the Denver Post yesterday with regard to the Bush Administration's valiant efforts to control AIDS worldwide, reminded me of this from Alternet which speaks about that good word impunity. The Alternet article reads, in part:

Impunity – the perception of being outside the law – has long been the hallmark of the Bush regime. What is alarming is that it appears to have deepened since the election, ushering in what can only be described as an orgy of impunity. In Iraq, U.S. forces and their Iraqi surrogates are no longer bothering to conceal attacks on civilian targets and are openly eliminating anyone – doctors, clerics, journalists – who dares to count the bodies. At home, impunity has been made official policy with Bush's appointment of Alberto Gonzales as Attorney General, the man who personally advised the President in his infamous "torture memo" that the Geneva Conventions are "obsolete."

This kind of defiance cannot simply be explained by Bush's win. There has to be something in how he won, in how the election was fought, that gave this administration the distinct impression that it had been handed a "get out of the Geneva Conventions free" card. That's because the administration was handed precisely such a gift – by John Kerry.

In the name of "electability," the Kerry campaign gave Bush five months on the campaign trail without ever facing serious questions about violations of international law. Fearing that he would be seen as soft on terror and disloyal to U.S. troops, Kerry stayed scandalously silent about Abu Ghraib and Guantánamo Bay. When it became painfully clear that fury would rain down on Fallujah as soon as the polls closed, Kerry never spoke out against the plan, or against the other illegal bombings of civilian areas that took place throughout the campaign. When the Lancet published its landmark study estimating that 100,000 Iraqis had died as result of the invasion and occupation, Kerry just repeated his outrageous (and frankly racist) claim that Americans "are 90 percent of the casualties in Iraq."

There was a message sent by all of this silence, and the message was that these deaths don't count. By buying the highly questionable logic that Americans are incapable of caring about anyone's lives but their own, the Kerry campaign and its supporters became complicit in the dehumanization of Iraqis, reinforcing the idea that some lives are expendable, insufficiently important to risk losing votes over. And it is this morally bankrupt logic, more than the election of any single candidate, that allows these crimes to continue unchecked.

It is, I believe, this last paragraph that seems to dovetail the Bush Administration's pathetic lip service with regard to supporting worldwide AIDS efforts -- which Dubya touted during the campaign with such impunity -- along with the observation that the Democrats, John Kerry and company, allowed Dubya and his minions to get away with it. Yes, I know, the article is about Iraq, but I do believe it is equally applicable to the pitiful, misdirected efforts of the Bush Administration with regard to AIDS.

Finally, this from Alternet, noting that half the worldwide cases of HIV infections are women. The article notes, in part:

We deplore patterns of sexual violence against women – violence that transmits the virus – but the malevolent patterns continue. We lament the use of rape as an instrument of war, but in eastern Congo and western Sudan, possibly the worst-known episodes of sexual cruelty and mutilation are occurring, and the world barely notices. We see Rwanda's women survivors, now suffering full-blown AIDS, demonstrating how such stories end.

Nearly half of the HIV cases in the world are women. In Africa, it's more than half, and young women bear the brunt of the pandemic.

And, in order for countries to qualify for American dollars to fight AIDS, Dubya -- according to the above Denver Post piece -- "...requires that target nations open their economies to international trade and take other actions that have nothing to do with fighting AIDS."

Impunity. Good word. How long are we going to let him get away with it? How long?