Sunday, February 27, 2005

Oscar Winner Results

Today was "gay Superbowl Sunday." Basically, there were no surprises in the main categories. My predictions ended up being correct in 7 of 8 categories. Hilary Swank did beat Annette Bening, again. (I actually thought that might happen but I went with what I wanted to see happen.) She now has a perfect record: 2 nominations, 2 wins. Million Dollar Baby ended up with 4 Oscars (Picture, Director, Actress, Supporting Actor) while The Aviator won 5 Oscars (Supporting Actress, Editing, Art Direction, Costume Design and Cinematography). The Incredibles won 2 Oscars (Animated Feature, Sound Editing) as did Ray (Actor, Sound Mixing). I was very psyched that Finding Neverland (Score) and Sideways (Adapted Screenplay) won consolation Oscars after multiple nominations.

Friday, February 25, 2005 and

While i'm at UCLA today there will be light blogging. These are some cool websites for y'all to check out: and

Thursday, February 24, 2005

The State Of QueerLaw Tomorrow

On Friday February 25 I will spend most of my day at UCLA Law School (my future alma mater?) at the 4th Annual Update on Sexual Orientation Law and Public Policy presented by The Williams Project, the nation's first sexual orientation law and public policy think tank. I won't do any live blogging, but I will try and post some extensive comments about what happens at the event over the weekend. Openly gay Congressman Barney Frank will be in attendance, as well as dozens of hardworking activists. If there's a homosexual agenda to take over the world, this is probably where it will be developed. Just kidding, trolls!

Republican Family Values

As has been obvious for at least six months, perennial losing candidate Alan Keyes' daughter Maya is an open lesbian. Keyes' response? According to Maya, she has been kicked out of the house and her parents have refused to pay for any further college tuition. As Julianne Malveaux points out in her always-trenchant column in USA Today,
The ultimate biblical teaching on human relations is
to "love your neighbor as yourself." Where is the
love in the hateful speech that Alan Keyes focused
on Mary Cheney, the lesbian daughter of Vice
President Cheney, when he described her as a
"selfish hedonist"? Where are the family values in
his decision to put his own daughter out because of
her sexuality?

When I think of "family," I think of Free Frank, the
slave ancestor of University of Texas Professor
Juliet Walker, who purchased himself, then his
spouse, then his children and several relatives. His
commitment and tenacity, even in the face of an evil
system, is one of the highest manifestations of family
values. Would Alan Keyes, if in Free Frank's
position, have left daughter Maya behind simply
because she is gay?

As the commenters at Daily Kos have pointed out , the difference between the Cheneys and the Keyes is that the former actually love their lesbian daughter (though they will still use her as a political football). Keyes is simply an idiot. Sadly, "he's not the only one." Gary DeMar responds to Malveaux's column with this in(s)anity:
Let’s suppose Ms. Malveaux’s daughters
joined a terrorist organization? Would she
continue to fund her child’s college
education? What if she learned that her son
was a pedophile or a rapist? Would she
continue to subsidize her behavior by giving
her sanctuary to continue his lifestyle
choices? Would it be wrong for my wife and
me to kick my son out of our house if he
joined the Ku Klux Klan?

Mr. DeMar is wrong on so many counts, but let me relate the first few that pop into my head:
  1. Keyes supported Maya for a long time while knowing she was an open lesbian.
  2. Being openly gay, or even being a "queer liberal activist" is not the equivalent of being a pedophile, rapist or a member of a terrorist organization (like the Ku Klux Klan).
  3. Homosexuality is not a "lifestyle choice."
Integral to Keyes' (and DeMar's) rhetoric is the promotion of "family values." There are many many families who plead for their convicted murderer/rapist/pedophile/terrorist not to be executed/severely punished by the state. My point (and Malveaux's) is why is it that homosexuality trumps family values when in almost every other instance their stated position is that family trumps everything else?

UPDATE [02/24/05 10:54AM] Maya Keyes has given an interview to Metro Weekly, a Washington, D.C. Gay an Lesbian newsmagazine.

Lose Election, Propose Secession

In Washington State, where Republicans are still refusing to concede defeat in the 2004 Gubernatorial election where Democrat Christine Gregoire beat Republican Dino Rosso by about 129 votes out 2.9 million cast, a State Senator has proposed that the state be divided into two. Over at TAPPED, Mark Leon Goldberg endorses the proposal, with one caveat: Make Washington, D.C. a state as well, so we would have a Republican-dominated, rural state of West Washington as well as a Democrat-dominated, urban state of East Washington. Sounds like a fair trade to me. Anyone?

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Antonio Takes The Lead

Thanks to the essential Political Wire, it has been confirmed what political pundits have been saying for weeks: Jim Hahn is about to lose the first election of his life. In the latest SurveyUSA poll of 1200 voters (409 classified as likely to vote) these are the results:
Antonio Villaraigosa, 36%
Mayor James Hahn, 19%
Bernard Parks, 15%

Bob Hertzberg, 14%
Richard Alarcon, 6%

The margin of error is +/- 4.9%, so really there is a 3-way tie for second. By looking at the cross-tabs you see that Park's is sucking most of the African-American votes out of the Mayor's column (57%-19%) while Villaraigosa keeps 57% of the Hispanic vote and the other candidates basically split the rest. Among White voters, Villaraigosa has a statistically insignificant lead (30%) ahead of Hertzberg (26%) and Hahn (21%). The election is 13 days away: Tuesday March 8.

Against HIV Names Reporting

In the middle of an impassioned debate to jettison California's current method of HIV surveillance by code (known as the Unique Identifier system) for Mandatory Names Reporting that has been raging for months comes this story from the February 21 issue of the Palm Beach Post in West Palm Beach, Florida (a state which has names reporting):

A highly confidential list of the names and
addresses of 4,500 Palm Beach County
residents with AIDS and 2,000 others who
are HIV positive was e-mailed Thursday to
more than 800 county health department

Health department statistician John W.
"Jack" Nolan, who compiles data on
HIV/AIDS cases for the county, sent the
e-mail containing his monthly cumulative
statistics report and inadvertently
attached a file with the identities and
addresses of AIDS patients and others
who have tested HIV positive. Health
department spokesman Tim O'Connor
confirmed the incident.

Gee, I don't suppose mistakenly e-mailing the names of the some 13 000 individuals in Los Angeles County whom the Department of Health has reported to be HIV positive would be a problem? It's not like there's anyone famous who lives in Los Angeles county who would not want their private health records publicized, right?

Many local AIDS Service Organizations such as AIDS Healthcare Foundation, AIDS Project Los Angeles and Minority AIDS Project have agreed with the County Board of Supervisors and their County Commission on HIV Health Services that the recently enacted (July 2002) HIV surveillance procedure should be switched to one that requires the names of those who test HIV positive also be included with the data reported to the State. In the interests of full disclosure, I volunteer for an organization which has taken a strong position against any switch to Names Reporting in the State of California. I agree with Being Alive's position for many reasons, but the most succinct reason was recently given by Terry Leftgoff: "We don't believe that privacy and civil rights should be trumped for bureaucratic convenience. Privacy and civil rights should always come first." The City of West Hollywood agrres; last night the City Council voted unaninmously to re-affirm their current position in opposition to mandatory HIV names reporting.

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Al Franken Nails Republican Race Baiting

How can you not love Al Franken? In Sunday's Los Angeles Times he has an hysterical op-ed entitled "A Year-Round Party For Blacks" which takes the Republican Party to task for their recent promotion of the idea that the GOP is interested in recruiting African Americans into its ranks.
His point is best summarised by examining the now-infamous calendar (2005 Republican Freedom Calendar: Celebrating a Century and a Half of Civil Rights Achievement by the Party of Lincoln) the House GOP leadership is promoting as the centerpiece of the campaign to convince black people the Republicans have their best interests at heart and to reach their stated goal of 30% of the Black vote in 2008 (Bush got 11% to Kerry's 88% in 2004, up from 9% in 2000). I have commented on this ploy (plot?) before so I will let Big Al do the talking:

Now, it is true that Republicans have been
involved in civil rights issues for a century
and a half.

For the first 100 or so years, they were the party
that was "for" civil rights.Then they switched
sides with the Democrats, and for half a century
they've been more involved on the "against" side.


Republicans might have responded to the
election with some soul-searching.

Bush took a promising first step by noting
the gap in life expectancy between black and
white men. But instead of raising the issue
as a prelude to offering a solution, he used
it as one of a litany of dishonest arguments
for Social Security privatization.

This is typical Republican race-baiting: the
cynical use of race to push an agenda.

Take the confirmation battles over
Condoleezza Rice and Alberto Gonzales.
When Democrats held up the confirmations
for reasons (lies, torture) clearly having
nothing to do with their race or ethnicity
(black, Latino), Republican officeholders and
commentators accused Democrats of racism.
But they didn't mention the Democrat-backed
"minority confirmations" such as those of Rod
Paige, Colin Powell or Mel Martinez — or the
fact that Democrats had voted to confirm 37
of Bush's black and Latino judicial nominees,
while Republicans blocked 13 of Clinton's


Gannon/Guckert Story Expands...

A number of mainstream journalists (Maureen Dowd of the NY Times, Joe Conason at, Anderson Cooper at CNN) have started to cover the Gannon/Guckert story as even more "truth is stranger than fiction" details of the story have been unearthed:
  1. Gannon/Guckert was able to get a White House daily press pass before he was working for even a semi-legitimate independent media outlet (GOPUSA).
  2. Gannon/Guckert was not able to get a House or Senate press pass (which are lower level than a White House pass, obviously) because he did not work for a "valid news organization."
  3. Gannon/Guckert was not a journalist or graduate of a journalist school, his only prior journalism experience was a two-day seminar for which he paid $50.
  4. Gannon/Guckert maintained adult profiles on at least a half-dozen websites where he advertised himself as a "dominant top" who "left impressions, not marks" with prices quoted from $200 an hour to $1200 for a weekend.
  5. Gannon/Guckert apparently knew four hours before the invasion of Iraq when exactly the bombs would start bombing in Baghdad and told a television producer.
  6. Gannon/Guckert had access to confidential files which revealed the identity of CIA operative Valerie Plame.
  7. Gannon/Gucket's stories for Talon News service (which was the front organization/website that GOPUSA created to promote news stories) have been all scrubbed from the website.

It is now rumoured the "big boys" (The New Yorker, Washington Post, et cetera) are going to get involved in the story. Meanwhile, Matt Drudge (another conservative homosexual Republican media activist himself) and other Log Cabin Republicans have been completely silent on the matter. Professional courtesy? Surely, someone should ask Ken Mehlman?

Monday, February 21, 2005

My Oscar Winner Predictions

A month ago I made predictions which were 75% correct for which actors and films would be nominated for Oscars. Although I didn't make predictions on Grammy nominations, I did make predictions on the winners, and went 2 for 4 in the most prestigious categories (and other people agree with me that Alicia Keys was robbed and that Maroon 5 sucks).

Anyway, the good folks at OscarWatch have a pretty cool chart which summarizes what the consensus is out there about who will win what on Sunday February 27th. Having finally seen all the Best Picture nominees, here are my predictions:
Best Picture: Million Dollar Baby
Best Director: Clint Eastwood
Best Actor: Jamie Foxx
Best Actress: Annette Bening
Best Supporting Actor: Morgan Freeman
Best Supporting Actress: Cate Blanchett
Best Original Screenplay: Eternal Sunshine
of the Spotless Mind

Best Adapted Screenplay: Sideways
I know, I know, everyone thinks that Hillary Swank is going to win again, but I just have a feeling that Mrs. Warren Beatty will pull it out. I won't be unhappy if Hillary wins, because she was truly amazing in the part. As for all the rest of my predictions, they are pretty much in line with other people's, and I think they are all deserved. For sentimental reasons, I wouldn't be unhappy if Martin Scorsese won Best Director for the first time, since Clint already has one, for the amazing "Unforgiven."

Sunday, February 20, 2005

Mauresmo Denies Venus Her Bling

Amélie Mauresmo came back from being down in both the second and third sets to win the 2005 Proximus Diamond Games title 4-6, 7-5, 6-4 over Venus Williams. Venus, who won this title in 2002 and 2003, would have taken home a $1.3 million trophy encrusted with 107 diamonds if she had served out the match at 6-4, 5-4. She will have another chance in 2005, since the trophy goes home with any player who wins the tournament 3 times in 5 years. It was Amélie's second final in as many weeks, her 16th WTA singles title, putting her within striking distance of current No. 1 Lindsay Davenport in the rankings. It was Venus' 11th tournament in a row without winning the title, her longest drought yet; she was 31 WTA singles titles.

Hertzberg vs Villaraigosa? Duh!

The Los Angeles Times issued its "endorsement" more than two weeks before the March 8 Mayoral Primary election: They want to see a runoff between Bob Hertzberg and Antonio Villaraigosa, saying that "[t]he two former state Assembly speakers, who once shared a Sacramento apartment, are credible candidates who offer compelling visions for the city's future." All I can say to that is "Duh!" The Times last week enumerated the many reasons James Hahn should not be mayor, and others have also pointed out even more. Everyone I know wants either Villaraigosa or Hertzberg to be the next Mayor of Los Angeles, the problem is that only the top 2 finishers get into the May 17 Mayoral General Election. And Hahn has shown us before (in 2001) that he will do whatever it takes to come from behind and win; he has never lost an election. The incumbent mayor is definitely sinking while Hertzberg is surging, but will it be enough to leave us with a choice of the two best candidates?

Saturday, February 19, 2005

Venus Goes For The Bling

Not even a resurgent Kim Clijsters, playing in her first tournament back from months of injury in front of a hometown crowd in Antwerp, Belgium could prevent Venus Williams from winning 6-2,6-3 in under an hour. As part of the crowd who has questioned Venus' ability to perform at the highest levels, I was amused to see that she is being inspired by her love of 'bling.' The first person to win the tournament 3 times in its first 5 years gets to keep the $1.3 million gem-encrusted Diamond Games trophy. Venus won the tournament in 2002 and 2003 but skipped last year due to injury. On Saturday, Venus took out 2004 French Open champion Anastasia Myskina, setting up a final with Amelie Mauresmo for all the diamonds...

LAPD Shoots Another Innocent Victim

Weather as metaphor: It is currently pouring buckets and buckets of rain in Los Angeles, and for the Los Angeles Police Department when it rains, it pours ("Police Shooting of Dog Sparks Anger"):

On Wednesday, a Los Angeles police officer shot
[Teri, a 10-year-old pit bull] in front of the gate to
[the dog's owner's] makeshift home. A city animal
control officer said Teri died on the way to a clinic.

Police assert that the 70-pound dog attacked a
column of four bicycle patrol officers riding
through the alley west of Mateo Street.
The last officer in line, 10-year-veteran
Gina Iglesias, fired the fatal shot "fearing for her
safety," police said Friday.


"The apparently startled dog bared its teeth and
attacked," officials said in a statement. None of the
officers was injured; Iglesias, who is assigned to
the Newton station, has been temporarily taken
off field duty while a routine investigation into
the shooting takes place, police said.


Others who work nearby also said they doubted
that the 10-year-old pit bull posed a serious threat
to the officers.

"She was never aggressive. I never even heard her
growl. There's no way she would attack," said
Michael Faye, a photographer whose studio is
nearby and who had known the dog for three years.

Mark Helf, an art director working at the studio on
a sportswear advertising photo shoot, described
the scene as heart-wrenching.

"They wouldn't let Benny go to his dog, even to put
a compress on the wound. He had to basically
watch his dog bleed to death and die over a
two-hour period.

"I heard Benny plead, 'Please, please shoot my dog,
put it out of its misery.' They wouldn't even do
that," Helf said.

Josephs, who heard the gunshot but did not see the
shooting, said he tried to aid his wounded dog but
was blocked by police.

"Teri tried to get up and kept falling down. They
wouldn't let me help her," he said.


[Lori Weise] believes the officer's actions were
excessive and dangerous to the entire
neighborhood."If they felt threatened, why
didn't they just Mace her?" Weise said. "Postmen
do it every day."

There is something seriously wrong with the training of police officers if they "fear for their safety" when faced with developmentally delayed teen aged boys, joy-riding eighth graders, and old dogs. Dayum!

Friday, February 18, 2005

Gay TV Watch: Simpsons and Housewives

According to QueerDay, this Sunday's episode of "The Simpsons" is the one (previously discussed on this blog) where gay marriage is legalized in Springfield and one of the main characters comes out of the closet. In addition, I guess Sunday is gay TV day because on "Desperate Housewives," red-haired Bree's son Andrew comes out also!

LAPD Changes Shooting Policy

I suppose it's just a coincidence, but just about two weeks after an African American eighth grader named Devin Brown was fatally shot ten times by LAPD officers, in the middle of a hotly contested mayoral campaign, the Police Commission unanimously approved a change in the policy which allowed officers to shoot into moving vehicles. Whether this will ameliorate police-community relations in a city where the police chief says we have been on "riot watch" remains to be seen. Initial response does not seem good, the Department is complaining that there is "no money in the budget" to retrain officers to comply with the new policy.... Does it strike anyone else as odd that LAPD officers have to be trained not to gun down children in cold blood?

Strange Bedfellows

There is growing opposition to the Governator's plan to realign all electoral districts for federal and statewide political offices in California. Sacramento Bee columnist Dan Walters:

The McCarthy measure (ACA3x) does provide
for the selection of an independent panel of judges,
as Schwarzenegger promised, but when it spells out
the criteria under which the judges are to function,
the measure moves away from the simple,
even-handed standards used by the special masters
in 1991 and attempts to affect outcomes - another
potential gerrymander in the guise of
reform. The devil, as they say, is in the details - a
passage that seeks "a level of competitiveness that
would result in a difference of no more than 7
percentage points between the number of voters in
each district who are registered with the two largest
political parties in the state."

Huh? As the Supreme Court's action in 1991 indicated,
drawing compact districts that fairly represent
California's disparate communities naturally creates
a high level of competitiveness. In fact, partisan
control of the Assembly changed hands twice
in the 1990s. But by making partisan competitiveness
a goal unto itself and defining it as a seven-point
differential, the McCarthy measure would appear to
enhance prospects for Republicans to win legislative
majorities. Democrats are already attacking
redistricting reform as a smoke screen for a Republican
power grab. The McCarthy measure gives them

Yesterday, Common Cause endorsed Arnold's redistricting proposal at a press conference in D.C. As other shocked commentators have noted, this is like "cats lying down with dogs." Common Cause is making common cause with a Governor who is currently being sued by a number of good government groups and is suing the state's Fair Political Practices Commission for the right to supercede fundraising restrictions. Even though numerous California Republicans are not enamored of Arnold's plan does not necessarily mean it is good for Democrats. There is a right way to redraw the district lines in California, but Arnold's proposal is not it. I would support something like the process used in Arizona or Iowa, but regardless I don't think that this change should be enacted prior to the 2006 state and federal elections. What part of "decennial redistricting process" do Arnold and Common Cause and Tom Delay not understand?

Thursday, February 17, 2005

The Stigma of the Mythical 'Superbug'

Gay and HIV circles are buzzing with the news that New York officials have reported a surprising new case of a 40-something gay man who used crystal methamphetamine while having unprotected anal sex with multiple male partners, tested positive for HIV and progressed rapidly to AIDS within a matter of months. The strain of HIV the man is infected with, known as 3-DCR-HIV, is apparently resistant to three entire classes of anti-HIV medications.

However, some AIDS activists and public health officials are starting to question the actions of New York officials to release the information through a press conference and media release.

"Those who practice good science would have waited,"
said Martin Delaney, founder director of Project Inform,
one of the oldest US non-profit AIDS organisations.

"They would have shared and discussed the date with
scientific peers and then -- most importantly -- they
wouldhave gone back to the labs and followed up on
the patient for another six months before drawing
any hard conclusions," he said.

Some activists were harsher: Julie Davids, executive director of CHAMP (Community HIV/AIDS Mobilisation Project) warned that officials ran the risk of promoting the image of gay men as "crazed drug addicts, carelessly or wantonly spreading a killer bug." As anyone who is involved in the gay community knows, the presence of "crystal" has reached near epidemic proportions. To paraphrase Martin Delaney, it really isn't helpful to freak the community out with reports of a superbug which is amplified by crystal use when the community is still freaked out by the prevalence of HIV and crystal use itself.

The facts are that it is well known that there are strains of virus out there which are resistant to one, some or even all anti-HIV medications and even virus which is susceptible to the drugs may be in a person who can't tolerate the side-effects or dosing of these powerful drugs. It is also well-known that although most people take 8 to 11 years to progress from initial HIV infection to immune-compromisd AIDS without treatment, some untreated individuals proceed from infection to AIDS quite rapidly. It is still not clear if this one case (The Los Angeles Times reported that other possibly similar cases have been found, in San Diego, and Massachusetts) is a medically significant occurrence, but what is clear is the message the broader community will be receiving and it is this message which CHAMP and Delaney (and myself) are trying to dispel.

The stereotype of hypersexuality has been applied to many subjugated groups throughout history (Black Male, Black Female, Gay Male, Bisexuals, Latino Male, Latina Female, etc). However with gay men the message is doubly stigmatised because not only are they portrayed as "wanton, sexual beasts" but they are "wanton, sexual beasts who carry a horrible disease." The disease is sometimes homosexuality itself, but more recently it has been HIV. It is precisely the salience and ubiquity of these messages which keeps people in the closet (and on the down low) and by stigmatizing sexuality, causes more unsafe sex and teen suicide by LGBT questioning youth. We should all be fighting for truthful representations of minority groups, not just because it's the right thing to do, but because it can literally save lives.

UPDATE Sunday, February 20: The NY Times has an article in today's edition covering the backlash to Frieden's actions, where they basically quote Julie Davids and Martin Delaney, as I did.

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Gay Male Escort By Night, White House Reporter By Day

Like a geyser of frothy, hot, white (CENSORED), the Gannon/Guckert story has exploded all over the internet, thanks to the wonderful John Aravosis. The details of the story are this. A few weeks ago, a reported named Jeff Gannon lobbed this now-infamous softball question during a White House press conference at the President of the United States:

Thank you. Senate Democratic leaders have painted a
very bleak picture of the U.S. economy. Harry Reid [D-NV]
was talking about soup lines. And [Senator] Hillary Clinton
[D-NY] was talking about the economy being on the verge of
collapse. Yet in the same breath they say that Social Security
is rock solid and there's no crisis there. How are you going to
work -- you've said you are going to reach out to these people
-- how are you going to work with people who seem to have
divorced themselves from reality?

This got the folks at Media Matters and other lefty websites wondering, "Who the **** is Jeff Gannon and what is Talon News that he works for?" Well, now we know. Jeff Gannon was the alias (and not in the fabulous Jennifer Garner way!) of James Guckert, who besides being a member of the White House Press Corps, was also a male prostitute who advertised that he would have sex with men for money in the metro Washington, D.C. area. Why should YOU care about this? But, wait, there's more! It appears as if Gannon/Guckert may have had access to Valerie Plame's identity as a CIA operative and was actually investigated by the FBI in that ongoing scandal. Stay tuned, folks...

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Told You So: They Don't Really Mean It

As I have previously pointed out, the right wing (and President Bush in particular) only uses gay marriage as a wedge issue when they feel (or to be more precise, Karl Rove feels) it will gain them political points--they are not true believers on the issue. Apparently gay marriage was a huge issue right before the election, not huge right after the election, big enough for the State of the Union, and today comes word that congressional republicans are dropping the issue for the rest of the year. Things that make you go "hmmmmmm!"

For Barbara, 4500 Roses; For Dianne...

My U.S. Senator, Barbara Boxer, received
four thousand five hundred roses
yesterday for Valentine's Day. These flowers
are just one physical manifestation of the
heartfelt appreciation citizens all over the
United States like myself feel towards finally
having a politician who will ask the hard questions
and speak up when they see injustice.
I'm so proud to be represented by Barbara Boxer!
Of course, Calfifornia's (note the lack of possessive pronoun!) other U.S. Senator, Dianne Feinstein,
takes a different view on the implications of obvious injustice.

Monday, February 14, 2005

Grammy Awards Update

So, I previously predicted Ray Charles would win in whatever category he was nominated, and that came true last night, as he posthumously won 6 Grammys, bringing him to a lifetime total of 18 (tied for eighth all-time). My overall accuracy rate was 2 out of 4. I think this does indicate that Jamie Foxx will be picking up the Oscar for "Ray" in two weeks at the Oscars. Ray Charles' career-ending collection of duets with stars like Norah Jones, Bonnie Raitt, Johnny Mathis, Gladys Knight, et cetera called Genius Loves Company won Album of the Year and the duet with Norah Jones won Record of the Year.

As usual, there some surprises, both unpleasant and pleasant: Maroon 5 (Mediocre 5?) won Best New Artist (beating out both Kanye West and Joss Stone). John Mayer won Best Song (I'm only complaining because he beat out Alicia Keys' "If I Ain't Got You"). However, Jill Scott won a Best Urban/Alternative Grammy for "Cross My Mind" from her amazing Beautifully Human album. Prince (!!) won his first (and second) Grammys for his Musicology album and the track "Call My Name." People hate on Britney, but "Toxic" deservedly won for Best Dance recording.

Sunday, February 13, 2005

Act Blue! Support Dean as DNC Chair

Markos over at DailyKos has set up an Act Blue page to show the netroots' support for Howard Dean's election yesterday as DNC Chair. All my homies (Oliver Willis, MyDD, Atrios, AmericaBlog) are promoting the page, so I thought I would chip in too. Please donate what you can: $10, $20, $50, whatever)

Contribution amount:

Saturday, February 12, 2005

2005 Grammy Awards Predictions

ALBUM OF THE YEAR: “Genius Loves Company,” Ray Charles and Various Artists; “American Idiot,” Green Day; “The Diary of Alicia Keys,” Alicia Keys; “Confessions,” Usher; “The College Dropout,” Kanye West.
Should Win: "The College Dropout,” Kanye West.
Will Win: “Genius Loves Company,” Ray Charles and Various Artists.

RECORD OF THE YEAR: “Let’s Get It Started,” The Black Eyed Peas; “Here We Go Again,” Ray Charles and Norah Jones; “American Idiot,” Green Day; “Heaven,” Los Lonely Boys; “Yeah!” Usher featuring Lil Jon and Ludacris.
Should Win: “Yeah!” Usher featuring Lil Jon and Ludacris.
Will Win: “Here We Go Again,” Ray Charles and Norah Jones.

SONG OF THE YEAR: “Daughters,” John Mayer (John Mayer); “If I Ain’t Got You,” Alicia Keys (Alicia Keys); “Jesus Walks,” C. Smith and Kanye West (Kanye West); “Live Like You Were Dying,” Tim Nichols and Craig Wiseman (Tim McGraw); “The Reason,” Daniel Estrin and Douglas Robb (Hoobastank).
Should Win: “If I Ain’t Got You,” Alicia Keys (Alicia Keys).
Will Win: “If I Ain’t Got You,” Alicia Keys (Alicia Keys).

BEST NEW ARTIST: Los Lonely Boys; Maroon 5; Joss Stone; Kanye West; Gretchen Wilson.
Should Win: Kanye West.
Will Win: Kanye West

Furor Over Teen's Death By LAPD Continues...

Since I first blogged about the news of another tragic police shooting of a young black male a few days ago the story has continued to receive widespread attention. The Los Angeles Times has run almost a dozen stories in 5 days this week, a lot of them appearing on either the front page of the paper or in the front page of the California section. Then, on Thursday this editorial (headlined "A Lingering Shoot-First Culture") was published:
It's going to take more than a
new police policy on shooting
at moving vehicles to prevent
another tragedy like the one
Sunday that cost the life of
13-year-old Devin Brown. The
uproar over the shooting is not
about cops firing at cars. It's
about the Los Angeles Police
Department's long-troubled
relationship with the city's
African American community.

Right on point! As other commentators at and have also noted, there's a bigger picture here than just a wayward barely teen-aged boy joyriding. Today's Times actually does a pretty good job of "connecting the blots" on the LAPD's record regarding race relations with the African American community in Los Angeles, as it covers Police Chief Bill Bratton's "week of painful losses." The story mentions 1979 police shooting of Eulia Love, the 1991 Rodney King beating, the 2002 Donovan Jackson beating, the 2003 Stanley Miller beating.... Of course what makes the last three incidents so sensatioal is that all three were caught live on videotape, and in all three cases the police responsible were not found guilty of criminal wrongdoing. However, if the police are not punished when their "bad acts" are recorded for the entire world to see, then how can the community have confidence in the police when there are no video cameras around?

Thursday, February 10, 2005

Howard Hears a Woo-Hoo!

Howard Dean's last challenger for the
Chairmanship of the Democratic
National Committee, ex-congressman
Tim Roemer dropped out of the race
, l
eaving Dean as the next de facto head
of the DNC. The battle was an interesting
proxy war for the battle over where the
Democrats will go forward from their
electoral defeat in November. Unlike
other critics, I think Dean's imminent
take-over of the party apparatus is a
good thing for the Democrats and the country.

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

LAPD Shoot And Kill 13-yr-old Kid

I am glad that the story of a 13-year old African American kid, Devin Brown, being shot and killed by Los Angeles Police Department officers on Sunday is finally getting some media coverage (audio story from NPR, LA Times). The point is that this is just one more in a long series of police shootings of black and brown individuals by a mostly white police force. It should be interesting to see if this has any impact on the March 8 Los Angeles Mayoral Primary Election.

N.Y. Marriage Case On Fast Track

The City of New York is planning on appealing last week's ruling striking down the ban on same-sex marriage directly to New York State's highest court, the seven-member Court of Appeals:

These seven people will make the decision about whether marriage discrimination based on gender will be ended in New York State. Four members have been appointed by Republican governor George Pataki, three have been appointed by former Democratic governor Mario Cuomo. The key vote is apparently Judge Albert Rosenblatt, a Harvard Law School graduate appointed by Pataki in 1998 (last row on the right). He is widely viewed as "very intellectual and moderately conservative" who could vote "either way."

Monday, February 07, 2005

Utah!? (We Are Everywhere)

As reported on gay news websites ( and rawstoryQ), gay activist Scott McCoy is poised to become the second openly gay or lesbian member of the state legislature:

Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr. is expected today
to approve the appointment to the state Senate
of the man who led the fight against last
November's constitutional amendment to ban
same-sex marriage.

Gay rights activist Scott McCoy was chosen
Saturdayto replace Paula Julander as state
senator. Julander is stepping down due to
poor health.

Under Utah law since she is a Democrat, the
selection of her replacement is up to the
Democratic Party in her district.
There's an interesting correlation between the number of openly gay or lesbian officials in a legislature and the amount of pro-gay lesgislation which is produced, so it is fascinating to see progressive steps in this very red state.

Oh, Canada!

What a country! Last week, on Tuesday the Government of Canada introduced legislation to end gender discrimination in marriage in "our Neighbors to the North." It is widely expected to pass, despite the ruling party's decision to make the vote a "free vote" where Members of Parliament can vote their conscience. Two Conservative Party members are doing just that, and have endorsed the Liberal Party's "gay marriage bill."

Of course, one day later, back in this country, the President was re-stating his strong support for writing discrimination into the founding document of the United States, by endorsing the Federal Marriage Amendment in his State of the Union address. This amendment would not only prevent governmental recognition of same-sex marriages but also would nullify any state-based recognition of same-sex relationships like Vermont's Civil Unions, California's Domestic Partnerships and Hawaii's Reciprocal Beneficiaries.

Meanwhile, the judiciary continues on interpreting constitutions to prohibit discrimination against a class of individuals in the sex and sexual orientation of the spouse of their choice. On Friday, a New York Supreme Court judge (lowest court in that state's system) ruled that the statutary ban on same-sex marriage was unconstitutional.

Saturday, February 05, 2005

L.A. Mayor: Poll Shows Close Race

A new poll out today shows that the Los Angeles Mayoral Race (March 8) is virtually a dead heat (within the margin of error of +/- 4 percentage points):

Don't Know, 31%
James Hahn (Incumbent), 21 %
Antonio Villaraigosa, 20%
Bernard Parks, 13%
Bob Hertzberg, 12%
Richard Alarcon, 3%

The poll also shows that Mayor Hahn's approval-disapproval ratings are at 44%-48%.
The most important issues to voters (with some geographical variation) were: Education (24%), Crime (21%), More police (16%) and Traffic/Congestion (14%).

BACKGROUND: The race is a rematch between Hahn and Villaraigosa from 2001's race to replace the retiring, nominally republican, billionaire mayor Richard Riordan. In that race Villaraigosa placed first in the primary, 3 points ahead of Hahn, and then lost the runoff to Hahn by 7 percentage points. Hahn's victory was seen as a postponement of the political dominance of the burgeoning Latino population by large African American turnout coupled with conservative white Republican suburban (San Fernando Valley) who combined to thwart Villaraigosa's attempt to become the first modern-era Latino mayor of the city whose official name is "El Pueblo de Nuestra Senora la Reina de los Angeles de Porciuncula." Parks was effectively fired by Hahn three years ago when the Mayor announced he would not reappoint him as Chief of Police of Los Angeles and the City Council failed to overturn the action. Hertzberg was roommates with Villaraigosa in Sacramento when they were both members of the State Assembly and succeeded him as Speaker, the third most powerful political position in California. He has been active on the internet early and is the first candidate to be airing television ads.

Friday, February 04, 2005

Judges Deciding Elections

In San Diego, on February 2 a judge ruled he would not overturn incumbent Mayor Dick Murphy's re-election., despite the fact that more voters intended to vote for Councilperson Donna Frye than Murphy or Republican challenger Ron Roberts on Election Day, and actually marked their ballots clearly, they did not follow state election law which insists that for write-in ballots to be counted, the voter must allow fill in an oval next to the write-in option.

In New York, also on February 2, a judge ruled that 228 of 550 contested ballots must be counted in a contested State Senate race between the third most powerful incumbent Republican in the State Senate and Democratic Westchester County legislator Andrea Stewart-Cousins. Currently Spano has a 58-vote lead out of nearly 127 000 votes cast. Almost all of the 228 provisional ballots which the judge ruled to be counted are from registered Democrats, though Democrats have held a 20,000 thousand registration edge in the district held by Nicholas Spano for decades.

In Washington State today, a judge refused to dismiss Republican Dino Rossi's challenge to the election of Democrat Christine Gregoire as Governor of Washington. The judge also refused to cede jurisdiction to the State Supreme Court of Washington. Gregoire won the election after trailing on election day and in a machine recount. Her margin of victory after a hand recount of 2.9 million votes was 129. The judge also later ruled that regardless of his decision on the merits of their case, he will not order a re-vote of the gubernatorial election.

Thursday, February 03, 2005

Gonzales Nomination Passes 60-36

The president's nomination of Alberto Gonzales as the first Hispanic Attorney-General of the United States has passed the United States Senate, 60-36. The Democrats who voted for Gonzales were Joseph Lieberman of Connecticut, Ken Salazar of Colorado, Mary Landrieu of Louisiana, Bill Nelson of Florida, Ben Nelson of Nebraska and Mark Pryor of Arkansas.

State of the Union Reaction...

Some important quotes from the President's State of the Union address last night:

"I will send you a budget that holds the growth of
discretionary spending below inflation, makes tax
relief permanent and stays on track to cut the
deficit in half by 2009...."
Translation: I'm going to cut funding to the areas of the government where I'm not forced to increase spending by previous laws (i.e. Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid). Because, yes, Virginia, if you don't increase funding as much as inflation goes up, that's a CUT.

"Because marriage is a sacred institution and
the foundation of society, it should not be
redefined by activist judges. For the good of
families, children and society, I support a
constitutional amendment to protect the
institution of marriage."
Translation: The president shouldn't have shown his obvious contempt for the conservative wingnuts on this issue so obviously a few weeks ago, so now he will throw them a bone again.

"Because HIV/AIDS brings suffering and
fear into so many lives, I ask you to
reauthorize the Ryan White Act to encourage
prevention and provide care and treatment to
the victims of that disease."
Translation: Didn't the use of "AIDS victim" go out in the 80's? Reagan deja-vu all over again. I believe the name of the actual legislation is the Ryan White Comprehensive AIDS Resources Emergency (CARE) Act and it is important that he mentioned it in his speech. Umm, what about that 15 billion dollar commitment to fight global AIDS he made at the 2003 State of the Union? Not a PEEP about "PEPFAR" this year!

"And as we update this important law, we must
focus our efforts on fellow citizens with the
highest rates of new cases: African-American
men and women."
Translation: We're serious about Karl Rove's initiative to have African-Americans move towards the Republican party. As I commented before, even though some people think this idea is a joke, it actually is an ongoing project of Republican strategists to deprive Democrats of their most reliable voting constituency. Today's Los Angeles Times has a response by two Black ministers to the Republican's "Black Initiative."

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

Endorsement for DNC Chair

Mad Professah is endorsing Howard Dean for Chairman of the Democratic National Committee. Actually, it looks like my endorsement is not going to matter, since one of Dean's main rivals, Texas Congressman Martin Frost dropped out of the race yesterday. Still in the race are pro-life ex-Congressman Tim Roemer as the Democratic Congressional Leadership's "Anybody But Dean" candidate, youthful Donnie Fowler (son of a former DNC Chair) and Simon Rosenberg (head of the New Democratic Network). Actually what I would like to see is Dean be elected on February 12th and then appoint Rosenberg to manage strategic operations at the DNC. Dean should be the face of the party, and Rosenberg should be responsible for upgrading the machinery.

UPDATE FRI FEB 4: Simon Rosenberg has dropped out of the race for DNC chair and endorsed Dean.

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

Bubba versus Senator No

Let sleeping dogs lie. That dog won't hunt! In the, Isn't He Dead, Yet? category pops this news item: Senator Jesse Helms is asking supporters to stop Bill Clinton from becoming Secreary-General of the United Nations. In a letter to supporters, Dear Jesse (who gained the moniker "Senator No" for the many positions he took in the Senate where he was the lone dissenting vote) writes "[Please help me] rebuke all efforts by Hillary Clinton, John Kerry, and every other liberal in Congress to push for Bill Clinton to become Secretary-General of the United Nations." Geesh!

On the record, I think William Jefferson Clinton (a.k.a. Bubba), the 42nd President of the United States, would make a fantastic Secretary-General of the United Nations. Apparently the current SecGen, Kofi Annan, recently appointed Bubba to be "U.N. Special Envoy for tsunami reconstruction." Hey, if Angelina Jolie can represent the U.N., why not Bubba?

Rating the Rankings

With her win on Saturday in the Australian Open final--Serena Williams jumped from #7 to #2 in the official WTA Rankings. Lindsay is still #1 despite her loss. My friend Craig Cochrane pointed out that the 2004 year end WTA rankings don't accurately reflect the relative strength of the tennis players on the tour. Here's the year-end ranking:

    1. Davenport
    2. Mauresmo
    3. Myskina
    4. Kuznetsova
    5. Dementieva
    6. Sharapova
    7. Henin-Hardenne
    8. Williams, S.
    9. Williams, V.
    10. Capriati
    11. Zvonareva
    12. Petrova

Alicia Molik is #13. However, if you were to just consider the Win-Loss records of the best players for 2004, you would obtain this different list:

    1. Davenport, 63-9 (87.5%)
    2. Mauresmo, 63-11 (85.1%)
    3. S. Williams, 39-9 (81.3%)
    4. Sharapova, 55-15 (78.6%)
    5. V. Williams, 44-12 (78.6%)
    6. Myskina, 55,-18 (75.3%)
    7. Kuznetsova, 60-23 (72.3%)
    8. Capriati, 29-12 (70.7%)
    9. Molik, 46-20 (69.7%)
    10. Zvonareva, 54-27 (66.7%)
    11. Dementieva, 39-23 (62.9%)
    12. Petrova, 40-25 (61.5%)

Technically, Henin-Hardenne has the best Win-Loss record of 2004, with 35-4 (89.7%) but she played the least matches of any player ranked in the Top 10 by the WTA last year. I'm not arguing that the WTA should switch to only considering Win-Loss percentages but the points system used by the Tour does seem to produce anomalous results (Dementieva ranked #5? Serena ranked #7?).

The question is, what information does one want to obtain from the rankings? The answer is, who is the best player, right now? In other words, when two players meet one should expect the higher ranked player to win more often than not. The highest ranked player should be the person who is least likely to lose to any other person playing. Of course, these ratings must vary with time, so that as results happen, the ranked order changes.

Republicans, Race and Civil Rights

The Los Angeles Times has an article in Saturday's edition headlined "Recasting Republicans as the Party of Civil Rights" beneath a large picture of Condoleezza Rice being swarn in as Secretary of State, along with smaller pictures of Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln. Personally, I prefer this picture of the event from diarist Dood Abides at DailyKos. As for representative pictures of Black Republicans, why go back 150 years to reference Douglass, why not use these pictures instead?

In the artcicle, it claims that "Republican strategists are aiming to win as much 30% of the nation's black vote in the 2008 presidentia election --an ambitious goal, given that polls have shown Bush won 11% in his reelection last year and that Democrats remain widely viewed as party of civil rights." Gee, I wonder why that is? As diarist Hunter at DailyKos notes:

Yeah, there's still that whole ongoing Jim Crow thing.
Yeah, we've seen even as recently as three months ago the Republican
strategies of stationing law enforcement officers outside polling places in
order to intimidate minority voters, and of stationing Republican "challengers"
inside heavily-minority polling places to "verify" the identification of black
voters. And yeah, Jeb Bush himself has been instrumental in pushing hard,
both in 2000 and 2004, for a known-bogus "felon's list" with the primary purpose
of simply removing Democratic-leaning black voters from the voting rolls.

But the Republicans are now the party of civil rights. You
can tell because they're distributing a calendar.

The facts speak for themselves, as noted in the article and by Hunter, "Republican strategists concede that recasting the GOP as the party of civil rights is a challenge. The party, for example, boasts no black members of Congress, compared with 43 Democrats."

Since a picture is worth a thousand words (which I could probably write on this subject, but I won't!) check out this great cartoon that Pulitzer Prize-winning cartoonist Matt Davies posted to DailyKos in response to Hunter's dairy:


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