Saturday, September 25, 2010

Our Basset Hound is in Therapy

The therapist was smiling, but there was concern in her eyes.  Then she spoke the words parents dread: "You have a special needs dog."  Of course we immediately went down the where did we go wrong? path.  Should we not have passed up the class in Cambridge on Advanced Barking?  Why didn't we go to the Sit/Stay Symposium?  We were at fault, not doubt about it.

"Willa will have to meet with me once a month, as well as a weekly phone call,"  the dog therapist said.  At first we thought that Willa, our sweetheart of a dog who hides behind the sofa when anyone outside the family enters the house, would have to speak on the phone.  It was a relief to find out that either Bruce or I would have to speak.  Because I am rather phone phobic, the weekly consultation has gone to Bruce.

And then the next dreaded word: Antidepressants.  She recommended Paxil, 20 mg a day.  Yup.  A designer antidepressant.  I shuddered.  I was on Paxil years ago and walked in a daze for a week.  I finally stopped taking it when I entered City Hall and completely forgot what I was there for.  The next day I remembered it was to register our other bassets, Oscar and Shakespeare. If you've picked up a theme here, there is.  We name our dogs after literary figures: Shakespeare, Willa Cather, Oscar Wilde.  We are especially attracted to authors who were gay or "questioning."  In case we ever switch to movie stars, we've penciled in "Tom Cruise."

We were also told to assert our dominance over our bassets.   This did not go over well.  When I told Shakespeare to sit before he got his treat, he walked away.  If a dog can roll his eyes, Shakespeare did.  The thought bubble over his head went something like this: "Ten years with you and you now start to pull this crap?"  Willa, on the other hand, simply ran in circles.  I'm trying to convince myself that she's actually quite advanced linguistically, and has mistaken SIT for SPIN.

So we're trying our best.  And I'll update our progress later.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Anti-Gay Hate Mail from Senator's Office

Chris Matthews of MSNBC follows up on a story about a Republican staffer who sent the message "all faggots must die" to one of the most popular gay blogs in the country, Joe. My. God.  Here's the clip:

Save the date

Book release reading/reception sponsored by Back Pages Books: Sunday, November 14 @ 2:00 in the Chapel of First Parish Church in Waltham.


Thursday, September 23, 2010

Be Careful What You Use As Campaign Fodder

By now, most people have heard of Christine O'Donnell, the Republican nominee for Delaware's senate seat.  She's the candidate who spoke out against masturbation and who may have illegally used campaign funds for personal expenses.

What has been getting the most attention, however, is her dabbling (her words) in witchcraft.  And apparently she went on a date with a woman (gasp) while she was doing this.  Don't get me wrong.  I think Christine O'Donnell is completely unfit to serve as Senator of Delaware.  I stand unequivocally opposed to just about everything she supports.  But I'm extremely uneasy about the glee many Democrats have expressed at this new revelation about O'Donnell.  I think the Democrats are entering ethically questionable territory when they start using people's spiritual beliefs -- or even the exploration of a specific spiritual belief -- in order to score political points.  I find it just as disturbing that her going on a date with a woman has become political fodder.

It's one thing to highlight a candidate's hypocrisy during a campaign.  And indeed, O'Donnell has been wildly hypocritical in her anti-gay, anti-anything but Christianity stance.  But that's not what I'm hearing from the Democrats.  They seem to be implying that her exploration of a spiritual belief and the fact that she had a date with a woman is juicy enough to keep her from being elected.

I'd prefer that the Democrats just not go down that path.  There is a great deal to question about O'Donnell's readiness for elected office, not the least of which is her possible violation of campaign laws.  That's serious.  And I think it's a lot more acceptable to question that rather than her spiritual and romantic past.

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Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Playing Politics with People's Lives

I know I should be furious that the Senate blocked the repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell on Tuesday.  I'm sure I'll be angry soon, but right now I'm just sad, terribly sad, that once again our government is playing politics with people's lives.  I haven't even been able to watch Rachel Maddow since the Congress blocked the Don't Ask, Don't Tell repeal.  I can't even hear my side talk about the issue.

Make no mistake about it: LGBT people are not the only ones to be used as pawns in this election year.  Immigrants, Muslims, women -- there's a litany of groups that have been exploited for political purposes.  And make no mistake about this: while Republicans may be the most egregious in using the disenfranchised for political gain, the Democrats also must share the blame.

We should all remember that President George Bush Sr., back in 1990, suspended the military ban on gay people during Operation Desert Storm.  That's right.  A Republican President simply signed a piece of paper that allowed LGBT people to serve.

For almost two years, the Democrats did nothing to repeal the DADT policy.  Until now.  It is not a coincidence that it was brought before Congress right before the elections.  There is a great "enthusiasm gap" between liberal and conservative voters this fall.  The conservatives are energized; the liberals are not.  The oldest political tool in the book is to energize the base when things look tough.  Bringing DADT before Congress now was meant to energize the base.  That is playing politics with people's lives.  The Democrats are guilty of this, even if less so than the Republicans.

We only have to look at Deval Patrick here in Massachusetts to see what leadership is around LGBT issues.  Within a year of becoming governor, he rallied lawmakers and leaders to keep the issue of gay marriage off the ballot.  He met with individuals.  He twisted arms.  He convinced lawmakers to do the right thing.

We need that sort of leadership now from President Obama.

I'll get angry soon, but right now I'm tired of anger.  But give me time.

A drawing worth a thousand words...

Just for fun...

I'll write about the Don't Ask, Don't Tell debacle later.  This morning I just needed to smile.  (Thanks to Steve.)

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Back from the summer, with some questions...

Hello, Everyone....I'm blogging again after taking the summer off.  It was a great summer of reading, writing, teaching a writing course, and spending lots of time in Toronto, our home away from home.  Part of the joy of being in Toronto was being able to tune out American politics for a while.  Well, I can't so that anymore.

It was a politically hot summer, partly due to the Tea Party Movement.  I've been trying to figure out some sort of logic to the Tea Bagging political thinking, but I've having a hard time.  Some questions I have:

1. If Tea Baggers really want smaller government, why are so many against a woman's right to choose?  I heard the Republican nominee for the New York Governorship answer the question about a woman's right to an abortion after rape or incest by saying, "There's adoption for that."  Said another, "I believe God has a plan for everyone."  What?  God has a plan for a fourteen year old girl to get raped by her father and then be forced to bear the child?

2.  The same goes for same-sex marriage.  If you want government out of everyone's life, how can you support government deciding that same-sex couples shouldn't marry?

3. Bobby Jindal, Governor of Louisiana, may not technically call himself a Tea Bagger, but since his election, he sure has been on the cut spending, lower taxes, kill government bandwagon.  That is, until Louisiana needs the money after the BP oil spill.  Then he pleads with the federal government for money and gets upset when it doesn't come fast enough. Isn't this a contradiction?

4. Tea Baggers claim that they want to get back to the basics of the Constitution, but how many have actually read it? One example is their blatant disgust of the judiciary.  They seem to want the government to run with only two branches of power.  That certainly isn't what I understood the Constitution to say when I read it, and, years later, taught it.  For a far more nuanced discussion of how Tea Baggers misrepresent the Constitution, visit

5.  And one last question. Why is it that so many of the Tea Baggers who want lower taxes and smaller government draw the line at their own entitlements?  Jon Taplin has a great entry about this on his blog.  Here's some of what he writes:

The New York Times-CBS Poll on the Tea Parties is notable for the great number of contradictions revealed. Since 75% of the Tea Party are older than 45, we can probably assume that at least 50% of them are on Social Security or Medicare. They don’t seem to grasp the contradiction.
And nearly three-quarters of those who favor smaller government said they would prefer it even if it meant spending on domestic programs would be cut.  But in follow-up interviews,
Tea Party supporters said they did not want to cut Medicare or Social Security — the biggest domestic programs, suggesting instead a focus on “waste.”

It's going to be a long election season.  Stay tuned.