Thursday, September 30, 2010

Comprehensive Immigration Reform Bill With LGBT Provisions Introduced

For Immediate  Release                                                                                  Contact:  Steve Ralls
September 30, 2010                                                (202) 347-7007 /
Immigration Equality Action Fund Hails Introduction of LGBT-Inclusive Comprehensive Immigration Reform BillLegislation from Senator Robert Menendez Includes Uniting American Families Act
Washington, DC – The Immigration Equality Action Fund today hailed the introduction of a comprehensive immigration reform bill in the Senate, by Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ), which includes the Uniting American Families Act (UAFA), a measure to end discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender immigrant families. 
“The Immigration Equality Action Fund welcomes Senator Menendez’s inclusive legislation, and calls on Congress to pass comprehensive reform, and fix our broken immigration system, immediately,” said Rachel B. Tiven, the group’s executive director.  “This new bill includes numerous, positive developments for LGBT immigrants, including UAFA, the DREAM Act and a pathway to citizenship.  All three components are important to ensuring that lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender immigrants are able to contribute fully to our country while keeping their families together. The LGBT community must press for the passage of Senator Menendez’s bill, and call on our allies in Congress to support the legislation.  This legislation will finally end the obstacles so many families – both gay and straight – struggle with every day.”
Under current immigration law, lesbian and gay Americans are unable to sponsor their foreign-born partners for residency in the United States.  As a result, LGBT binational couples are forced apart, or into exile, by discriminatory immigration laws.  UAFA – sponsored in the Senate by Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and in the House by Congressman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) – would eliminate that double standard, and apply immigration laws equally to LGBT Americans, and their partners. UAFA is currently co-sponsored by 161 lawmakers in both chambers of Congress.
“It is simply unconscionable that our immigration laws tear families apart,” Tiven concluded.  “Senator Menendez’s legislation, which is a truly comprehensive bill, would provide LGBT families with important opportunities to keep their families together.  The bill’s introduction is welcome news not just for lesbian and gay Americans, but also their extended families, their communities and our country.  The Immigration Equality Action Fund is committed to working for its passage.”
# # #
Immigration Equality Action Fund advocates on Capitol Hill for equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and HIV-positive immigrants and their families. To end discrimination in U.S. immigration law, Immigration Equality Action Fund works to pass the Uniting American Families Act and LGBT-inclusive Comprehensive Immigration Reform. The Action Fund lobbies legislators and other policy makers, builds coalitions, and empowers LGBT immigrant families around the country to fight for change.

First Planet Found In Habitable Zone 20 Lights-Years Away: "Gliese 581g"

Very cool news! NASA announced on Wednesday that researchers at UC Santa Cruz and the Carnegie Institute of Washington have found the first extra-solar planet which scientists believe is not too cold or too hot to sustain life.

From the official report:

The paper reports the discovery of two new planets around Gliese 581. This brings the total number of known planets around this star to six, the most yet discovered in a planetary system outside of our own. Like our solar system, the planets around Gliese 581 have nearly-circular orbits.
The new planet designated Gliese 581g has a mass three to four times that of Earth and orbits its star in just under 37 days. Its mass indicates that it is probably a rocky planet with a definite surface and enough gravity to hold on to an atmosphere. 
Gliese 581, located 20 light years away from Earth in the constellation Libra, has two previously detected planets that lie at the edges of the habitable zone, one on the hot side (planet c) and one on the cold side (planet d). While some astronomers still think planet d may be habitable if it has a thick atmosphere with a strong greenhouse effect to warm it up, others are skeptical. The newly-discovered planet g, however, lies right in the middle of the habitable zone.
The planet is tidally locked to the star, meaning that one side is always facing the star and basking in perpetual daylight, while the side facing away from the star is in perpetual darkness. One effect of this is to stabilize the planet's surface climates, according to Vogt. The most habitable zone on the planet's surface would be the line between shadow and light (known as the "terminator").

Makes the geek in me very happy!

ANOTHER Eddie Long Accuser Speaks Out In Public

BOOK REVIEW: Joe Abercrombie's The First Law Trilogy

I first learned about Joe Abercrombie from, which suggested the author for people who like Patrick Rothfuss. I bought the first one at a local independent bookstore in Glendale, Mystery & Imagination Bookstore (238 N. Brand Blvd, Glendale, CA 91203, 818-545-0206) who had also turned me on to Rothfuss' The Name Of The Wind in the first place.

Abercrombie is another hard-core fantasy author like Rothfuss, with swords, wizards, duels, kings, sieges and hand-to-hand combat. Lots of hand-to-hand combat.

Although the three books are really three parts of one very long, engaging story each book also has its own story arc which allows them to be read independently (although probably not out of order).

The Blade Itself
The first book in the series introduces the trilogy's main characters, namely San dan Glokta (the heartless inquisitor and former expert swordsman who was caught and tortured by the enemies of The Union and left a crippled, bitter man), Jezal dan Luthar (the reigning expert swordsman who also happens to be a handsome, self-centered twit), Bayaz (who may or may not be a great wizard of antiquity come back to life) and Logen Ninefingers (a brutal, uncivilized Northman who has such a deadly and violent reputation his name alone makes strong warriors nervous) and The Dogman (who is currently leading Logen's band of Northern barbarian killers in his absence). Abercrombie plays with many familiar cliches of epic fantasy, often turning them on their head with obvious relish to the laugh-out-loud delight of the reader. As first books in a trilogy go, The First Law does a good job of setting up the future action while still containing enough tension and thrills itself to be a worthy read.

Before They Are Hanged
The second book is about three main story lines: Glokta is trying to save himself and the city of Dagoska while under siege by the savages from the South who openly defy The First Law (Thou Shall Not Eat The Flesh Of Men), Bayaz is leading a band of misfits to the end of the world on a quest to find an object of power to save the world from the so-called Eaters, and there is a gigantic clash of armies in the North which signals war is coming to the Union sooner rather than later. Again, Abercrombie walks a fine line between tweaking epic fantasy conventions and following them to the letter. The main strength of the book is his characterizations, which he supports by letting the reader see the internal dialogue of many of his characters which at first blush seemed to be very unprepossessing. However, once you see the world and situations (literally) through their eyes it puts a more positive spin on their actions, even when they are behaving badly. Before They Are Hanged suffers slightly from being the middle book in a trilogy, but very slightly. For me, part of that was due to the bigger role the strong female character of Ferro Maljinn plays  in this section of the story.

Last Argument of Kings
Abercrombie takes the final book and resolves all of the storylines from the second book (most of the main ones are actually resolved by the end of the second book); he also develops his characters to places the reader was almost certainly not expecting. I don't want to give away any spoilers (read the books yourself, they are well worth the time, especially if you are a fan of epic fantasy) but some of the characters that we generally believed were "bad" end up becoming "good" and some of the characters that we thought were "good" do some very bad things indeed. Besides characterization, Abercrombie's great skill is in writing fight scenes that make the reader believe one is particpiating in hand-to-hand combat or the hart of a battle right there with the characters. He really outdoes himself in that regard in Last Argument of Kings, and that alone probably makes the last book the best of the series. As before, Abercombie's main goal is to upend reader's expectations, of genre, character and story and he succeeds on many levels. That being said, there's a fourth book set in the Universe of the First Law trilogy books called Best Served Cold which I really have no interest in reading. I'm invested in these characters and have many unanswered questions, mainly "what happens next?" and "Where the heck is Logen Ninefingers?"

Author: Joe Abercrombie.
Title: The Blade Itself (The First Law, Book 1).
Length: 531 pages.
September 6, 2007.

OVERALL GRADE: A- (3.66/4.0).

Author: Joe Abercrombie.
Title: Before They Are Hanged. (The First Law, Book 2
Length: 543 pages.
March 25, 2008.

OVERALL GRADE: B+ (3.50/4.0).

Author: Joe Abercrombie.
Title: The Last Argument of Kings. (The First Law, Book 3)
Length: 639 pages.
September 23, 2008.

OVERALL GRADE: A/A- (3.75/4.0).

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Double Rainbow in Los Angeles

Walking to my car this evening I saw this: two rainbows over Occidental College.

WATCH: Psycho Heterosexual Supremacist Harassing Gay College Student

This is one of the most bizarre stories you will ever see. A public official, a Michigan Assistant Attorney General Tom Shirvell, has been electronically harassing the 21-year-old student body president Chris Armstrong. CNN's Anderson Cooper interviewed Shirvell. Watch what happens.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Monday, September 27, 2010

CDC Says 1 in 5 MSM Have HIV (And Half Don't Know It)

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently issued a press release announcing the results of a new study of HIV seroprevalence among men who have sex with men (MSM) in 21 major cities.
The study provided additional insight into the populations of MSM most in need of HIV testing and prevention:

  • Among racial/ethnic groups, black MSM with HIV were least likely to be aware of their infection (59 percent unaware, vs. 46 percent for Hispanic MSM and 26 percent for white MSM).

  • While young MSM (under age 30) had lower HIV prevalence than older men, they were far more likely to be unaware of their HIV infection.  Among MSM aged 18-29 who had HIV, nearly two-thirds (63 percent) were unaware, versus 37 percent for men age 30 and older.

  • Among young MSM, young MSM of color were less likely than whites to know they were HIV-infected.  Among HIV-infected black MSM under age 30, 71 percent were unaware of their infection; among HIV-infected Hispanic MSM under age 30, 63 percent were unaware.  This compares to 40 percent of HIV-infected white MSM under age 30.
CDC officials note that low awareness of HIV status among young MSM likely reflects several factors:  they may have been infected more recently, may underestimate their personal risk, may have had fewer opportunities to get tested, or may believe that advances in HIV treatment minimize the threat of HIV.  For young MSM of color, discrimination and socioeconomic factors – such as poverty, homophobia, stigma, and limited health-care access – may be especially acute and pose particular challenges.
This is not the first time that CDC has issued an alarm about the rate of HIV infection in MSM, especially MSM of color.

Today, on the White House blog, Brian Bond, President Obama's Liaison to the LGBT community, wrote an article about "Focussing HIV Prevention Efforts on Gay and Bisexual Men" where he discusses HIV and his own HIV-status in the context of National Gay Men's HIV/AIDS Awareness day, which is today, September 27.

Today is National Gay Men’s HIV/AIDS Awareness Day. For me, every day is an “awareness day” about HIV/AIDS.  I feel it is important for me to talk about it, because I am increasingly concerned that many in the LGBT community don’t. I am worried about the kids out there and the generation that hasn’t seen the devastating impact of this epidemic the way my generation has.  Now more than ever we need to be talking about HIV/AIDS.  Just a few days ago The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) published new heartbreaking data showing that one in five gay and bisexual men in 21 major US cities are living with HIV.  I am one of those men. I have been living with HIV since 2001.  (Emphasis added)
Gay and bisexual men make up roughly 2% of the US population, but we account for 53% of new HIV infections. We are the only group where HIV infection rates are rising.
These statistics are shocking and they demand a stronger, more focused national response that includes Federal leadership, combined with new levels of commitment and focus at the State and local levels.  These data also demands a reinvigorated commitment to ending HIV/AIDS from the LGBT community.  We all have a responsibility to reverse that trend.
I encourage all of you to read the Strategy and Federal Implementation Plan.  In addition to describing the challenges, it presents a roadmap for responding that includes increased attention on high risk communities including gay and bisexual men, along with Transgender Americans, Black Americans, Latino Americans and substance users.  The Strategy also calls for new efforts to reduce infections, and calls for us to take new steps to end stigma and discrimination.  In the President’s budget proposal for next year (that begins on October 1st), he also proposed a new initiative at CDC to take a more holistic approach to preventing HIV in the LGBT community with promoting sexual health and preventing sexually transmitted infections.

Los Angeles Scorching Hot (Record 113°!) Today

The Other Half sent me this picture from inside his car reading the external temperature outside at aruond 1:30pm PDT today. 117 degrees!

The official temperature in downtown Los Angeles was 113 degrees, the hottest ever since records began in 1877. That's a full seven degrees hotter than the previous record for September 27th set in 1963.

The National Weather Service it has only ever been over 100 degrees 3 other times in downtown Los Angeles.

Eye Candy: Andre Mull

Thanks to Ebony Swag for giving me a heads up on Andre Mull. He's a 21-year-old aspiring model from Fremont, CA. He definitely looks like he would do some excellent work with talented photographers.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

WATCH Jon Stewart Take Down Republican "Pledge To America"

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Postcards From the Pledge
Daily Show Full EpisodesPolitical HumorTea Party

Eddie Long Says He Will Fight Charges

Eddie Long, the Atlanta-area Black minister who is the target of four lawsuits claiming "coercive sexual activities" between Long and four teenaged Black men, has announced that he will fight the charges. The story is on the front page of today's New York Times.

Writer and Black gay AIDS activist Craig Washington has penned a brilliant "A Sermon for Bishop Eddie Long" which ends with this crescendo:
Whether or not Long actually committed the acts of which he was recently accused, this much is true: He is assuredly guilty of engendering fear and hatred of LGBT people among thousands. He has convinced countless numbers of gays that they are sinners whose salvation rests on becoming "reconditioned" into heterosexuality. Such toxic teachings reinforce the stigma that compromises HIV-prevention efforts as well as our mental and physical health.
One who cannot face aspects of himself that he despises will train that animus on another whom he regards as his opposite. Did he sell out countless individuals in order to throw congregants off the scent of his own hunt, the exploitation of young men? Was there a point when, at first, a few and then many knew what was happening and said nothing? How long will we enable the abuse perpetrated in word and deed by our pastors? When will we dare to speak the ugly, inconvenient truth even when we are afraid?
This story of this sullied bishop serves overdue notice to Christians across the nation who have bought and sold snake oil presented as holy water. It is a foreclosure warning to every black male pastor who deems the church his castle, and the women, gays and young who build it as no more than chattel to serve his appetites. It is a subpoena, a calling to account for all black men who endorse patriarchy as the most legitimate form of power in our communities. It is a stained diary page brought to light. It is truth. Amen. 


UPDATED 10:55AM PDT 09/26/2010:
Via Rod 2.0 comes this brief statement from Eddie Long to the press:

"On the advice of counsel, I am not going to address the allegations and attacks against me, again as I stated earlier, I want this to be dealt with in a court of justice and not in the court of public opinion."

Sunday Succulent: Astrophytum capricorne

Astrophytum capricorne

Today's Sunday Succulent is Astrophytum capricorne, not Astrophytum ornatum, which it can be mistaken for. My husband (the cactus and succulent expert) describes it as:
The skin of the cactus is patterned with fine, white tubercles which give it a rich texture, like exotic animal skin. The spines are long and curved. The flowers on this individual are lemon-yellow with a red throat.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

One Nation March on DC Sat Oct 2

There's a big march planned for next Saturday October 2nd called One Nation Working Together.

The mission of this march on DC is:
We march for a dream deeply rooted in the American dream. We march for jobs, justice, and education. We march for an economy that works for all.  We march for a nation in which each person who wants to work can find a job that pays enough to support a family.
We march to create a million new jobs right away, because the national values that got us out of the Great Depression will get us out of the Great Recession.
We march to build a world-class public education system, from pre-school to community college and beyond - because our nation must start unleashing the greatness of every child today.
We march to end racial profiling and re-segregation– from Arizona to Atlanta. We march to defend the Voting Rights Act and the 14th Amendment.  We march to advance human rights, civil rights, equal protection, and dignity for all.
We march to fix the broken immigration system – because no child should live in fear that her parents will be deported.
We march to ensure every worker has a voice at work. We march for green jobs and safe workplaces, so no worker will have to choose between her livelihood and her life.
We march for a clean environment, so no child is ever forced to decide between drinking the water or breathing the air and staying healthy.
We march to move our nation beyond this moment when a handful of Senators can block urgently needed progress – skewing our national budget towards tax cuts for the wealthy, unjustified military spending and prisons.
We march to demand full equality for all women in all communities, indulging an end to wage discrimination.
We march for peace abroad and job creation at home. We march for energy independence, public safety, and public transportation because the nation we want to build most is our own.
We march to demand full equality for all women in all communities, indulging an end to wage discrimination.
And on 11-2-10, we will march again – into the voting booths. We will bring our families, our friends, and our neighbors. And once the ballots are counted, we will keep organizing, we will hold our leaders accountable, and we will keep making our dream real.
This movement will grow.  It will put America back to work, pull America back together, and keep us moving ever forward. 
Join us. We are One Nation Working Together: For Jobs, For Justice, For Education, For All.
If you can't make it to Washnigton, DC there are local events also. In Los Angeles, the official event is at Los Angeles City College:

TimeSaturday, October 2, 2010 10:00 AM - 2:00 PM PDT

HostBlair Golson

Contact Phone213-985-0428

Los Angeles City College (Los Angeles, CA)
855 N Vermont Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90029

CA-SEN: Boxer Maintains Measurable Edge

United States Senator Barbara Boxer is maintaining a distinct lead in her re-election race against former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina.

The Saramento Bee explains why Boxer is currently favored to win her fourth Senate term:
The poll found that impressions of Boxer are sharply divided and highly partisan, with 93 percent of all likely voters having an opinion of her. It found that Boxer still has a high unfavorable rating of 48 percent. But it has declined from a high of 52 percent two months ago.
"She's hanging in," said Mark DiCamillo, the poll's director. "It looks like she's had a pretty good month or two."
DiCamillo attributed the results to Boxer's television advertising, which began last week, while Fiorina unveiled her first television ad on Thursday. DiCamillo noted that Fiorina's unfavorable rating has jumped from 29 percent to 38 percent since July.
"Fiorina has definitely taken a hit," he said.
The poll found that most respondents are basing their choices on how they feel about Boxer. Among Boxer supporters, 67 percent said their vote is more a vote for Boxer than it is a vote against Fiorina. And 65 percent of those who supported Fiorina said their preference is more a vote against Boxer than it is a vote for Fiorina.

MadProfessah has endorsed Barbara Boxer.

CA-GOV: Brown Leads Whitman In Latest Polls

The latest polls in the California gubernatorial race have shown small leads for former Governor and current Attorney General Jerry Brown over his Republican challenger, billionaire Meg Whitman, although this recent surge is still not to overcome Whitman's former edge in most pollster averages of the race.

The recent poll change reflects the pretty horrible last few days that Whitman has had, well-documented by my friend Dante Atkins at

This race is probably the number one priority for MadProfessah. If Brown wins, he will definitely not participate in any Proposition 8, while Whitman has said she would defend the gay marriage ban in court.

Friday, September 24, 2010

10 States File Joint Brief Supporting Prop 8 Proponents

10 states have filed amicus briefs with the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on the behalf of the heterosexual supremacists who are defending Proposition 8 on appeal from the August 4th striking the gay marriage ban as unconstitutional. The ten states who signed the brief are: Wyoming, Alabama, Florida, Idaho, Indiana, Louisiana, Michigan, South Carolina, Utah and Virginia.

Additionally, many other heterosexual supremacists groups such as PFOX and the Ethics and Public Policy Center have also filed briefs supporting Proposition 8 and "protecting traditional marriage."

For more info see the Courage Campaign's

Celebrity Friday: Bishop Eddie Long

The stories about Bishop Eddie Long have become too prominent to not comment on at this blog. He is the well-known African-American pastor and head of an Atlanta-area mega-church who was accused this week  by three young men of forcing them to have sex with him after going on long vacation trips with them.

The video above is from a press conference announcing the filing of lawsuits by two of the accusers.

According to CBS News:

In lawsuits filed this week, three men who were members of the New Birth Missionary Baptist Church claimed Long coerced them into sexual relations with gifts including cars, cash and travel when they were 17 or 18 years old. The sprawling church in Lithonia, Ga., about 18 miles outside of Atlanta, counts politicians, celebrities and the county sheriff among its members and hosted four U.S. presidents during the 2006 funeral of Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.'s widow, Coretta Scott King.
One of the claims in the lawsuits is that Long had sexual contact with the young men, who were enrolled in New Birth's ministry for teen boys, during trips he took them on in the U.S. and abroad. Gillen said the travel was part of a mentoring program that other young men also participated in.

Recently, pictures of Eddie Long taken by his phone which he sent to the men have surfaced, showing him wearing athletic wear or spandex. See below:

I think the pictures speak for themselves. Be prepared to become even more of a celebrity than you were before, "Bishop" Eddie Long!

Hat/tip to Wonder Man.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

White House Issues Statement on DADT Appeal

The White House has just issued a statement about the Department of Justice filing an appeal in federal court today in Log Cabin Republicans v. United States of America, the case in which a federal judge recently struck down the military's anti-gay "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy as unconstitutional.

Office of the Press Secretary
September 23, 2010

Statement by Press Secretary Robert Gibbs on Justice Department filing in Log Cabin Republicans v. United States of America

Today, the Department of Justice made a filing in a legal challenge to the Don’t Ask, Don’t tell (DADT) policy, as it traditionally does when acts of Congress are challenged.  This filing in no way diminishes the President’s firm commitment to achieve a legislative repeal of DADT – indeed, it clearly shows why Congress must act to end this misguided policy.   The President was disappointed earlier this week when a majority of the Senate was willing to proceed with National Defense Authorization Act, but political posturing created a 60 vote threshold.  The President spoke out against DADT in his first State of the Union Address, and the Secretary of Defense and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs have both testified in support of repeal.   And the Department of Defense continues to work on a plan on how to implement repeal.  The President, along with his Administration, will continue to work with the Senate Leadership to achieve a legislative repeal of DADT as outlined in the NDAA this fall.

Happy ObamaCare Day!

Today is exactly 6 months to the day since the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (a.k.a. ObamaCare) was signed into law by President Obama on March 23, 2010.

Despite Republican lies and distortions to the contrary, health care reform is not a Government take-over of health care, instead it is a number of common sense reforms bundled together, several of which go into effect today, namely:
• Requiring that insurance companies cover people with pre-existing conditions.

• Making it illegal for insurance companies to drop coverage for people who get sick.

• Cracking down on unjustified premium hikes.

• Placing a cap on out-of-pocket health care costs. 

• Providing free preventive care

It should be noted repeatedly that not a single Republican in the House or Senate voted for the final version of the measure, and when Republicans say they will repeal the law if they take over the Congress they are also lying. Obama still has the power to veto legislation, and if a bill was to pass which repealed parts of ObamaCare it would definitely not become law with his signature.

BOOK REVIEW: Tana French's The Likeness

Tana French's The Likeness is the sequel to her stunning debut novel In The Woods (see MadProfessah review).

The Likeness is another intense "psychological thriller" in which who commits the murder is not as important to the author as the psychology of the killer (and the detective).

In this outing of the Dublin Murder Squad, which occurs roughly six months after the events depicted in  In The Woods, a body is found in a very small town outside of the big city who has a bizarre likeness to Detective Cassie Maddox, one of the main characters of the first book. Even more bizarrely, the Jane Doe has apparently appropriated an old fake identity that Cassie used to use, that of Lexie Madison, when she served on the Undercover Division under her difficult boss Frank Mackey. The new, fake Lexie has apparently been hanging out with a curious foursome of students who have taken residence in town's great manse though an inheritance and consider themselves a family.

Mackey has the brilliant but dangerous idea of hiding the information of Lexie's death from the media and her "family" and suggest that Cassie wear a wire and reprise her undercover role as Cassie, this time to try and catch the girl's killer, who is most likely to be one (or more) of the members of Lexie's new family. Her boyfriend Sam O'Neill (who also appeared in the first novel) will be the lead detective to try to solve the murder.

The story becomes incredibly emotionally taut as Cassie realizes how alike she and Lexie were in many ways, and begins to uncover some of her doppelganger's secrets as she attempts to replicate Lexie's relationship within a very odd family.

If  In The Woods was at its core a novel about the deep friendship between a man and a woman and the incipient complications that ensue, The Likeness is about the intensity of bonds that can form between families that are self-selected in adulthood. Additionally, French is able to really show the reader the psychological and emotional toll of extended undercover police work. The Likeness is another tour-de-force novel which stays with the reader for a very, very long time after the last page is read.

Title: The Likeness.
Author: Tana French.
Length: 466 pages.
Publisher: Del Rey.
Date: July 17, 2008.



Wednesday, September 22, 2010

WATCH: EQCA Tries To "Shame" Whitman and Cooley

In light of statements by Republican candidates Steve Cooley and Meg Whitman that they would defend any court ruling in the Perry v. Schwarzenegger case striking down Proposition 8 as unconstitutional, Equality Califorina is launching the following television ads.

Whitman's gubernatorial opponent, Jerry Brown, is the current Attorney General and has refused to defend Proposition 8, as has current Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. San Francisco District Attorney Kamala Harris is running against Cooley for Attorney general and has said she would not defend Proposition 8 in court because she feel it is unconstitutional.

The ads are set to begin airing on Monday, September 27, and will run on the CNN, FOX and MSNBC affiliates in the Los Angeles, San Francisco, Sacramento, San Diego and Palm Springs metropolitan areas

'Glee' Starts Off Second Season

The Emmy-award winning musical comedy Glee returned to television last night with it's second season premiere featuring a new female football coach to act as a foil for Jane Lynch's Sue Sylvester, the cheerleader coach.

Anyone watching the new shows? With Lost gone, I'm looking forward to Undercovers, the new show from its creator, JJ Abrams. I watched the pilot episode of The Event on Monday, and except for Laura Innes (previously the disabled lesbian ER doc Kerry) the rest of the cast seemed pretty 'meh' and the direction seemed positively clumsy. There's clearly a long way to go before The Event can claim to be the heir apparent to Lost.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

DADT Fails First Cloture Vote Test 56-43

Courtesy of Trevor Thomas, Communications Director of SLDN, here is the 56-43 roll-call vote on the motion to end debate on S. 3454, the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) of 2011.

It shuodl be noted that Majority Leader Harry Reid voted no as  aprocedural motion so he would be in the minority to bring up the measure again in the future. 

The same can not be said of the two Senators from Arkansas both "Democrats in name Only" who both voted against moving forward with debating the NDAA with the DADT repeal measure intact. David Pryor and Blanche Lincoln both voted no, even though nearly 80 percent of Americans in recent polls support DADT repeal (I wonder if there any recent Arkansas polls on this issue?)

It is very likely the bill will come up again AFTER the mid-term elections but before the end of the year. 

Grouped By Vote Position
YEAs ---56
Akaka (D-HI)
Baucus (D-MT)
Bayh (D-IN)
Begich (D-AK)
Bennet (D-CO)
Bingaman (D-NM)
Boxer (D-CA)
Brown (D-OH)
Burris (D-IL)
Cantwell (D-WA)
Cardin (D-MD)
Carper (D-DE)
Casey (D-PA)
Conrad (D-ND)
Dodd (D-CT)
Dorgan (D-ND)
Durbin (D-IL)
Feingold (D-WI)
Feinstein (D-CA)
Franken (D-MN)
Gillibrand (D-NY)
Goodwin (D-WV)
Hagan (D-NC)
Harkin (D-IA)
Inouye (D-HI)
Johnson (D-SD)
Kaufman (D-DE)
Kerry (D-MA)
Klobuchar (D-MN)
Kohl (D-WI)
Landrieu (D-LA)
Lautenberg (D-NJ)
Leahy (D-VT)
Levin (D-MI)
Lieberman (ID-CT)
McCaskill (D-MO)
Menendez (D-NJ)
Merkley (D-OR)
Mikulski (D-MD)
Murray (D-WA)
Nelson (D-FL)
Nelson (D-NE)
Reed (D-RI)
Rockefeller (D-WV)
Sanders (I-VT)
Schumer (D-NY)
Shaheen (D-NH)
Specter (D-PA)
Stabenow (D-MI)
Tester (D-MT)
Udall (D-CO)
Udall (D-NM)
Warner (D-VA)
Webb (D-VA)
Whitehouse (D-RI)
Wyden (D-OR)

NAYs ---43
Alexander (R-TN)
Barrasso (R-WY)
Bennett (R-UT)
Bond (R-MO)
Brown (R-MA)
Brownback (R-KS)
Bunning (R-KY)
Burr (R-NC)
Chambliss (R-GA)
Coburn (R-OK)
Cochran (R-MS)
Collins (R-ME)
Corker (R-TN)
Cornyn (R-TX)
Crapo (R-ID)
DeMint (R-SC)
Ensign (R-NV)
Enzi (R-WY)
Graham (R-SC)
Grassley (R-IA)
Gregg (R-NH)
Hatch (R-UT)
Hutchison (R-TX)
Inhofe (R-OK)
Isakson (R-GA)
Johanns (R-NE)
Kyl (R-AZ)
LeMieux (R-FL)
Lincoln (D-AR)
Lugar (R-IN)
McCain (R-AZ)
McConnell (R-KY)
Pryor (D-AR)
Reid (D-NV)
Risch (R-ID)
Roberts (R-KS)
Sessions (R-AL)
Shelby (R-AL)
Snowe (R-ME)
Thune (R-SD)
Vitter (R-LA)
Voinovich (R-OH)
Wicker (R-MS)

Not Voting - 1
Murkowski (R-AK)

DADT Showdown In Senate Tuesday

On Tuesday at 2:15pm EDT the United States Senate will have a cloture vote on the National Defense Authorization Act, S. 3454, which currently includes a provision which would lead to the repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell." The legislation needs 60 votes to break a Republican-led filibuster, and prior to today, it was believed that those votes could come from numerous "moderate" Republican senators like Collins (R-ME), Snow (R-ME), Voinovich (R-OH), Brown (R-MA) and LeMieux (R-FL).

Today, Sen. Snowe announced she is supporting the filibuster:
“First and foremost, the Senate should have the ability to debate more than the three amendments the Majority Leader is allowing, especially as this bill is the largest discretionary authorization measure that Congress considers, that the bill describes the policies and programs that provide resources and direction to the nearly 2.4 million men and women of the military – active, reserve and civilians, including the courageous Americans serving in Iraq and Afghanistan, and that two of the three amendments don’t even relate to the military. It is therefore imperative that Senate deliberations on the defense bill be conducted without limitations and in a manner that allows for the consideration of all related amendments that Senators may wish to offer.

“Moreover, as I have previously stated, given that the law implementing the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy has been in place for nearly 17 years, I agree that it is overdue for a thorough review. The question is, whether we should be voting on this issue before we have the benefit of the comprehensive review that President Obama’s Secretary of Defense ordered in March, to secure the input of our men and women in uniform during this time of war – as the Joint Chiefs of Staff from all of the services have requested prior to any vote. We should all have the opportunity to review that report which is to be completed on December 1, as we reevaluate this policy and the implementation of any new changes.”
The White House also released a statement:
“The National Defense Authorization Act is a good bill that is important for the overall health and well being of our forces, especially given the ongoing campaigns in Iraq, Afghanistan, and around the world,” White House spokesperson Shin Inouye said in a statement. “This legislation received bipartisan support in the House and in the Senate Armed Services Committee and the President hopes it receives similar bipartisan support in the Senate."

UPDATE 08:53AM 09/21/2010:
SLDN has published the following list of uncommitted Senators which should be contacted in the next four hours:

--George Lemieux (R-FL);
--Susan Collins (R-ME);
--Olympia Snowe (R-ME);
--Mark Pryor (D-Ark.);
--Richard Lugar (R-IN);
--Judd Gregg (R-NH);
--Jim Webb (D-VA);
--George Voinovich (R-OH);
--Kit Bond (R-MO);

Monday, September 20, 2010

Re-assessing Saving Private Ryan vs. Shakespeare in Love

In 1999, one of the most hard-fought Oscar campaigns in history was waged between the 13-times nominated Shakespeare in Love and the 11-times nominated Saving Private Ryan, the highest grossing domestic film of 1998. As Sahsa Stone of says, "the trick is not minding."

At the time, I minded very, very much. I was a huge fan of Steven Spielberg's war film, blown away by the opening 24-minute sequence which depicts the D-Day invasion which has been rated by some as the #1 movie moment of all time. I was horrified when Shakespeare in Love beat out Saving Private Ryan for Best Picture, and ended up with 7 Oscars to the latter's 5.

However, recently I have had the opportunity to see both films on TV (on a home theater with a 50" HD screen in surround sound) and although I still believe that the beginning of Saving Private Ryan is one of the greatest cinematic experiences of all time, I now believe that Shakespeare in Love is the better film, and leaves a longer emotional impact on the viewer.

It's not just that one is an actor-driven (and author-driven) comedy while the other is only a tour-de-force of Hollywood's most gifted director ever. They both have incredible work by a ridiculously long list of actors who have since become even more celebrated. Saving Private Ryan has a cast that includes Tom Hanks, Matt Damon, Ed Bruns, Giovanni Ribisi, Paul Giamatti, Bryan Cranston, Vin Diesel, Ted Danson  and Tom Sizemore. Shakespeare in Love has Gwyneth Paltrow, Dame Judi Dench, Geoffrey Rush, Ben Affleck, Tom Wilkinson, Joseph Fiennes, Colin Firth and Imelda Staunton.

However, Shakespeare in Love has the language of William Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet, major portions of which are performed on screen by Fiennes and Paltrow. Their chemistry is amazing, and the comedy scenes are delightful. There's no question that the third act of Saving Private Ryan drags, and the final scene is just hokey. The film should have ended with Hanks final scence instead.

So, anyway, I stand corrected.  I think the Academy actually made the right decision after all in awarding the  1999 Best Picture Oscar to Shakespeare in Love over Saving Private Ryan. Watch the movies your self again and let me know what you think.

Now, the travesty of Crash over Brokeback Mountain in 2006? Still bitter. We wuz robbed!

AP Poll: Majority of Americans Support Marriage Equality

A new nationwide poll from Associated Press of 1000+ individuals (pdf) is yet another poll to confirm Maggie Gallagher's worst nightmare: "A majority of Americans support marriage equality."

The headline is that in response to the question "Should the Federal Government give legal recognition to marriages between couples of the same sex, or not?" 52 percent say yes, 46 percent say no.

This is now the second poll in as many months which indicate majority support for marriage equality. Last month, the CNN poll similarly showed majority support for marriage equality (again 52 percent yes, 42 percent no) when the question was "Do you think gays and lesbians should have a constitutional right to get married and have their marriage recognized by law as valid?"

It should also be noted that as recently as May 2010, Gallup showed that there was majority opposition to marriage equality nationwide (44% yes 53% no) in response to the question "Do you think marriages between same-sex couples should or should not be recognized by the law as valid, with the same rights as traditional marriages?"


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