Monday, June 29, 2009

Bloggerpalooza III . . . .

We came.

We ate.

We drank.

We solved approximately 47% of the world's problems.

We adjourned 'til BPIV sometime later this year.

The remaining 53% of the world's problems will have to wait 'til then . . . .

Friday, June 26, 2009

Walking the Gay Walk . . . .

Lots of rumbling in the GLBT community of late about how President Obama may not be living up to their "hope" during the '08 political season.

His actions while in office don't exactly match the campaign rhetoric.

From McClatchy/Kansas City Star today:

To gays who supported him, Obama hasn't walked the walk

Rick Montgomery | Kansas City Star
| June 26, 2009

If Diane Silver's blog reflects the sentiments of gay and lesbian Americans in the heartland, President Barack Obama is fast losing a serious fan base.

The Topeka woman's postings throughout June, which is Gay Pride Month, have railed about what she calls Obama's "awful record … token action and empty words."

She called his Justice Department's recent court filing — a 54-page defense of a federal marriage law that Obama had pledged to repeal — "hideous."

Many in the movement still speak hopefully of a president who won their overwhelming support in the 2008 elections. But the enthusiasm — and the same level of campaign contributions — may not be there for other Democrats in next year's elections.

Complaints over what many see as the administration's lack of zeal are found throughout the gay and lesbian blogosphere.

Stampp Corbin, a gay San Diego city commissioner who rallied supporters to Obama's presidential bid, wrote online: "When I wake up each morning, I feel a …' It's bit schizophrenic myself. 'I love Obama, I hate Obama, I am ambivalent maddening."

Corbin was among several leaders of gay and lesbian communities who Thursday boycotted a Democratic National Committee fundraiser in Washington. He suggested the White House had better start delivering results "or the coffers of the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) community will be slammed shut on the fingers of your administration."

Nationally, gay-rights groups continue to count the president as a friend, at least in public. Given persistent pledges to end the military's ban on openly gay service members, "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," and to repeal discriminatory elements of the Defense of Marriage Act of 1996, the White House hopes for a strong showing next week when Obama hosts a Gay Pride reception.


Much of the anger centers on a June 11 Justice Department brief seeking to dismiss a constitutional challenge of the Defense of Marriage Act, or DOMA.

The law, limiting federal marriage benefits to opposite-sex couples, is the target of a federal lawsuit in California. Justice spokesman Charles Miller said that as attorneys for the government "we have to defend that law" when it's taken to court. "It's Congress' job" to change or chuck it if Congress sees fit.

The government's brief outlined a defense seen by gay-rights advocates as unnecessarily vigorous. "DOMA does not restrict any rights that have been recognized as fundamental," it stated.

"That just went too far," said Missouri Sen. Jolie Justus, a Democrat who recently seized upon Iowa's same-sex marriage law to wed her partner in Iowa City.

The brief went on to point out that incestuous relationships, too, were outside states' legal purview of marriage — as if to lump uncle-niece pairings with same-sex couples.

"The government could have defended DOMA without using the red herrings and insulting arguments that once were used to stop interracial marriages," Justus said. "We've been talking about this constantly … a slap in the face," though she said she expected Obama to press his pledge to undo the law in time.


The president's hesitation to push for an end to the Pentagon's "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy has widened the divide, especially after the handling of Pietrangelo v. Gates.

The case, brought by James Pietrangelo, an infantry officer who was preparing for his third tour in Iraq when he was discharged for being gay, reached the U.S. Supreme Court — where the Obama administration urged that it not be heard.

Solicitor General Elena Kagan, the administration's lawyer before the court, said in her filing that the ban is "rationally related to the government's legitimate interest in military discipline and cohesion."

Days earlier, however, in the wake of Rep. John McHugh's nomination to be secretary of the Army, White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said McHugh shares Obama's commitment to repealing the ban, which isn't "working for this country right now."

After his lawsuit was disposed of, Pietrangelo called the president "a coward, a bigot and a pathological liar … who spent more time picking out his dog, Bo … than he has working for equality for gay people."

More than 250 lesbian and gay members of the military have been booted out since Obama took office.


Silver, in a telephone interview, said she and the families of same-sex couples have waited long enough.

Their options? One is to "just shut your wallets" when Democratic fundraisers come calling, she said.

"The GAY-TM is closed."

Should we be surprised? Disappointed, maybe, thinking he would actually be a different kind of politician.

"Fool me once, shame on you."

And all that . . . .

Thursday, June 25, 2009

S.P.P. DVD . . . .

At The Lady Alison's suggestion, I had placed the Paul Manly documentary "You, Me and the S.P.P: Trading Democracy for Corporate Rule" on my Vancouver library request list months ago.

Once released, it finally came to my local branch yesterday. I picked it up after lunch and watched it this afternoon.

Great stuff, and every Canadian should view it to become fully informed on the creeping US-ization of North America.

Scary stuff, Gang.

Tell your peeps . . . .

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Southern Baptist Morality Police to the Rescue . . . .

Rednecks, gays and religion.

As Rodney King would say: "Why can't we all get along?"

Per the

Southern Baptists cut ties with Fort Worth’s Broadway Baptist

June 23, 2009 | By LEE WILLIAMS

The Southern Baptist Convention kicked out Fort Worth’s Broadway Baptist Church on Tuesday, saying its stance on homosexuality is too lenient.

Convention delegates, known as messengers, voted to end the 127-year relationship with the historic Fort Worth church during the annual convention being held in Louisville, Ky.


The impasse came to a head last year during a public debate over whether Broadway should allow photographs of same-sex
couples in its church directory. The photographs eventually were rejected in favor of group pictures of all church members.

One reason for not allowing photographs of gay couples was to emphasize that the church is in line with the Baptist constitution, which does not include churches that "affirm, approve or endorse" homosexual behavior, according to a letter written to the Southern Bapist Executive Committee.


Stephen Wilson, a member of the Executive Committee and vice president for academic affairs at Mid-Continent University, said the issue with Broadway is about the church allowing members who are openly homosexual and unrepentant.

"If churches are ministering to homosexuals, they are doing nothing more than what our own convention’s task force has asked us to do," Wilson said. "But in Broadway’s case … the church was in effect saying that it was OK to have members who are open homosexuals."

Dana Carvey's Church Lady might put it this way:

"Well, isn't that special ? ? ? ? "

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Begging to Differ on Iran . . . .

Just finished "The Ayatollah Begs to Differ" by Iranian-American Hooman Majd. Very timely analysis of today's Iran and the people/events that shape it. I highly recommend it for a primer on what's going on currently in Persia.

Listening to some of the US political pundits and elected "representatives" pontificate on what should and should not be done in Iran (I'm listening right now to a podcast of "This Week" with S.C. Senator (?) "Leeensay" Graham spouting BS right now, and it's pretty gagging.) brings to mind some of these quotes from the book:

"It strikes me often while I am in Iran that were Christian evangelicals to take a tour of Iran today, they might find it the model for an ideal society they seek in America. Replace Allah with God, Mohammad with Jesus, keep the same public and private notions of chastity, sin, salvation, and God's will, and a Christian Republic is born."


"The Iranian revolution on 1979 was a clear rejection on non-Iranian political concepts, and although rage and animosity toward the United States in its aftermath were consequences of this, it was hardly understood that the real fear of Iranians at the time was that the United States, the most powerful country in the world, would simply not allow a political system to develop that didn't mirror its own. What the Iranians were saying, in effect, was: 'Leave us alone, and if you don't, we'll find ways to make your life miserable.'"


And, on the supposed Iranian-supplied bombs to Iraqi insurgents in 2006/2007:

"Little proof was offered, except for at one press conference where unexploded bombs and shells were displayed with markings, in a perfect English lacking even on unfortunate Iranian road signs, that allegedly showed they were made in Iran. Except the dates of manufacture stenciled onto the bombs were not only in English, but in the American form - that is month, day, year - rather than in the Iranian (and rest of the world's) standard format of day, month year. That the Iranians would be sending weapons to Iraq conveniently and obligingly labeled not only with their country of origin in English but also with the date of manufacture designed so as not to confuse the Americans (who,one supposes, the Iranians know are short on Farsi interpreters) beggars belief, as Javad Zarid, the Iranian ambassador to the UN at the time, told me he had complained in one of his speeches. But few American analysts, and even fewer reporters, including those with experience in the Middle East, questioned out loud this apparently clumsily manufactured evidence, leaving many Iranians to wonder yet again about real US intentions with respect to their country."


"Shias are always Davids, always the underdogs fighting for a just cause in an unjust world, except it matters not that they actually slay their enemy, but merely that they hold their ground and chalk it up as a victory of justice over tyranny. To them, there is no Goliath today greater than the United States. The Ayatollahs and all their little Davids are determined to stand up to it whenever necessary, whenever the cause is just, and to never lose, even if, or may because, they can't win outright."

Check it out at your local library or at Amazon here.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

"'Ya Want Change With That Legal Brief, Sir ? ? ? ? "

If the Obama administration's stance on legal matters is any indication, the "change" they're offering is mainly pocket change.

Yeah, yeah, yeah I know what you're thinking: "But if you consider the alternative, he's head and shoulders above. They would have been disastrous!"

Consider these quotes from the article below, however:

President Barack Obama is morphing into George W. Bush;
Obama's legal arguments repeatedly mirror Bush's;
this administration's legal arguments have blended into the other;
Obama has come to emulate Bush;
he's following Bush's lead in defending in court the federal marriage law;
The Obama White House has followed suit;
The Obama White House, so far, takes the same view;
The Obama administration now agrees;
as Obama follows the Bush lead;
The Obama administration now says the same.

From McClatchy yesterday:

In stark legal turnaround, Obama now resembles Bush
Michael Doyle | McClatchy Newspapers | June 19, 2009

WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama is morphing into George W. Bush, as administration attorneys repeatedly adopt the executive-authority and national-security rationales that their Republican predecessors preferred.

In courtroom battles and freedom-of-information fights from Washington, D.C., to California, Obama's legal arguments repeatedly mirror Bush's: White House turf is to be protected, secrets must be retained and dire warnings are wielded as weapons.

"It's putting up a veritable wall around the White House, and it's so at odds with Obama's campaign commitment to more open government," said Anne Weismann, chief counsel for Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, a legal watchdog group.


Whatever the reasons, policy persists.

The Bush White House sought to keep e-mails secret. The Obama White House has followed suit. The Bush White House sought to keep visitor logs secret. The Obama White House, so far, takes the same view.

Petaluma, Calif., resident Carolyn Jewel and the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a legal activist group, sued the Bush administration over warrantless wiretaps. The Bush administration said that the lawsuit endangered national security. The Obama administration now agrees.


An ACLU lawsuit, initially filed in U.S. District Court in San Jose, Calif., contends that the Boeing subsidiary Jeppesen DataPlan knowingly supported a CIA operation that flew terrorism suspects to brutal overseas prisons. The Bush administration invoked the "state secrets" privilege in an effort to stop the suit.

"Further litigation of this case would pose an unacceptable risk of disclosure of information that the nation's security requires not be disclosed," the Bush administration declared in a legal filing on Oct. 18, 2007.

The Obama administration now says the same, after a three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled April 21 that the case could proceed.

"Permitting this suit to proceed would pose an unacceptable risk to national security," the Obama administration declared in a legal filing June 12.

For both arguments, the two administrations relied on the attestations of the same man: former Bush CIA Director Michael Hayden.

You need to count your "change" the next time a vote is cast.

I seem to be missing some of mine . . . .

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Milestone . . . .

Happy Anniversary, "drf" ! ! ! !

On to that Golden Anniversary now . . . .

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

News from Our Former "Home" . . . .

As "drf" and I still (unfortunately) have property in our former "home" of Florida, I keep up on the local news fairly regularly. Normally, it's fairly tame stuff, Board of County Commissioner's meetings, school board meetings, yada, yada, yada.

Occasionally, however, some of the local folks of a certain neck colour do make it into the news. Usually due to domestic violence, drug abuse/manufacturing, or traffic offences. Today's blurb I found particularly amusing:

Naked Man Driving Truck

During a traffic stop, north of _____, Monday night; _____ County Sheriff’s deputies encountered a drunk, naked driver. A pick-up truck being driven by 58-year-old _____, of _____ was parked off the shoulder partially blocking traffic on County Highway _____. Upon approaching the vehicle the deputy noted that _____ was wearing only a hat, sunglasses and tan sandals. _____ remarked to the deputy “What’s wrong with a man driving home naked, it’s not against the law”. The officer noted the smell of alcohol.

A woman in the front passenger seat, 47-year-old _____, began yelling profanity at officers. Alcohol was noted coming from her breath. When the deputy tried to remove her from the car, she struck him with her fist. He was not injured, and she was handcuffed at the scene.

_____ was booked for driving under the influence, and _____ faces a felony battery on a law enforcement officer charge. Both were booked into the _____ County Jail.

I really miss that place . . . .

Monday, June 15, 2009

Dennis Does ken . . . .

Thanks to the Louis Riel Trail for posting this Dennis Kucinich vs. ken lewis (of bank of america infamy) video yesterday:

Just one more example of why "drf" and I were Dennis supporters before he pulled out of the race for Prez.

He would have really been "Change You Can Believe In" . . . .

Sunday, June 14, 2009

The West End Sans Cars . . . .

This year's Car Free Day in The West End was today.

A great time to get out and enjoy your neighbourhood without the hassle of cars, buses and trucks clogging the streets.

Just humans and animals.

Much better . . . .

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Uh Oh . . . .

Why do I have the sneaking suspicion this does not bode well for Canadian interests?

Per the CBC this morning:

Canada, U.S. unveil plans to renegotiate Great Lakes water treaty
Saturday, June 13, 2009 | 11:36 AM ET
| CBC News

Canada and the United States will renegotiate the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Saturday in Niagara Falls, Ont.

Clinton, who was joined by Foreign Minister Lawrence Cannon, crossed the border for celebrations marking 100 years of the Boundary Waters Treaty between the two countries.

"We have to update it to reflect new knowledge, new technologies and, unfortunately, new threats," Clinton said.

"The rivers, the lakes, the streams, the watersheds along our boundary do not belong to one nation, they belong to all of us," she said at celebrations overlooking the falls.

Homeland Security will no doubt get involved, not too mention gordo campbell and his buddies selling off BC's water rights.

Great news for Canada, for sure.

Would love to get The Lady Alison's take on this deal . . . .

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Gays in the Military, Redux . . . .

Courtesy of the New York Times yesterday:



Watch the video.

Doesn't make a whole hell of a lot of sense, does it ? ? ? ?

H/T Olde Goat Patrick.

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Grammys Won't Be Rolling Out the Barrel Anymore . . . .

Per the CBC today:

Grammy board axes polka category to stay 'relevant and responsive'

Thursday, June 4, 2009 |
CBC News

Canada's polka king Walter Ostanek won't be able to add another golden gramophone trophy to his existing trio haul after organizers of the Grammys announced the elimination of the best polka album category.

The U.S. Recording Academy, which administers the prestigious U.S. musical honour, revealed a number of category changes and new additions to its board of trustees in a statement issued Wednesday.

Along with axing the polka trophy, the academy also decided to fold the best Latin urban album category into the best Latin rock or alternative album one, creating an omnibus new trophy.

The board also voted to split the best contemporary folk/Americana album award into two separate prizes and rename the entire folk field "American roots music."

The decisions were made to ensure "the awards process is pertinent within the current musical landscape," academy president and CEO Neil Portnow said.

"The board of trustees continues to demonstrate its passionate commitment to keeping the Recording Academy a relevant and responsive organization in our dynamic music community."

Guess we'll not be seeing 'Ole Walter and his spiffy dressing audience anytime soon.

Pity . . . .

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

"All Aboard!" . . . .

"drf" and I finally succumbed and booked a trip on VIA Rail from Toronto back here to Vancouver. It's something we've talked about for years, and VIA had a 1/2 price sale if you travelled prior to June 1st. Four nights and days later we arrived back home.

Here are some photo highlights of the trip:

We did a "hop on, hop off" Gray Line bus tour of Toronto. Unfortunately, it was a foggy, rainy day so the visibility was very poor.

The public market was very good, especially the olive bar!

Luckily, we had enough time to pop into a public library and attempt to find our blog "brothers" Tom and Emilio of Canadian Hope. By reading their posts, they had recently opened an ice cream/gelato parlour named Sweet Creamery and we were within blocks of it. Needless to say, we walked over to finally meet the boys in the flesh. We also got to meet their friend Kim - another great guy. It was wonderful to see them and wish them well on their new venture. The gelato is incredible, BTW!

Judging by the crowds already patronizing their establishment - it had only opened the day before - they will be successful. If you're in the 'hood, stop by. It's located at 521 Parliament Street.

Once onboard, we quickly learned that passenger trains take a backseat to freight trains. This is first of many that sidetracked our train.

Ontario river scene once the weather cleared up.

We had about an hour and a half layover in Winnipeg, so we got to walk around downtown a bit.

Look! The South doesn't have a monopoly on Bubbas!

While enjoying a Starbucks break with travel mates, I noticed this sign across the street. (Click to enlarge.)

Assuming it was a subway sign, I inquired of a local if Winnipeg had a subway. I was assured that "Yes, we've got a subway!" and was directed here.

It's all about perception, I guess.

We were advised by a person I stopped on the street to check out the Manitoba Legislative Building. We're glad we did, as it's quite spectacular.

There was not nearly as much of "The Plains" as we had expected. Perhaps that was because we travelled through Saskatchewan at night?

This is as close as we got to Edmonton. Apparently, CN Railway sold their downtown properties to make way for developers. Great.

Back on the train heading west we finally began to see some snow-capped mountains in the distance.

Not too long after that, we were in them and the "oohs" and "ahhs" began reverberating through the observation cars.

Some mountain sheep were near the tracks, as were bear, bison and various eagles along the way.

An actual avalanche occurred as we passed by.

Mt. Robson in eastern British Columbia.

Our train winding through the BC mountain passes.

There are still snow-capped peaks not that far out of Vancouver.

The domed car at the very end of the train was where we spent most of our time aboard.

When we weren't stuffing ourselves in the dining car, that is. This is a rare moment when no one was in the dining car.

A BC waterfall that the engineer slowed down for the passengers to take photos of. Quite spectacular.

"Home, Sweet Vancouver Home" in sight.

"Bdeh, bdeh, bdeh, that's all, folks!"

It's great to be back home, but the train trip was definitely a memorable experience. Probably the best part of the trip is meeting the other passengers aboard. We had folks from literally around the world. Great Britain, Australia, Jamaica, the US and even China were all represented. Of course, Canadians from nearly every province, also.

There is really something special about train travel and the people who take the time to enjoy the scenery.

We highly recommend it . . . .