Sunday, September 30, 2007

Amicus Briefs Filed in California Marriage Case

Equality California has the list of over FOUR HUNDRED organization, cities, counties, legislators and professors which filed amicus briefs on behalf of the appellant-plaintiffs in the same-marriage case currently pending before the 7-member California Supreme Court.

California NAACP
California State Conference of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People
NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc.
National Association for the Advancement of Colored People Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc.
The Civil Rights Clinic at Howard University School of Law
MALDEF and Other Civil Rights Organizations
Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund
Bienestar Human Services
Coalition For Humane Immigrant Rights
La Raza Centro Legal
National Black Justice Coalition
National Lawyers Guild Of San Francisco
Zuna Institute
Asian Pacific Islander Groups
API Equality
API Equality – LA
API Equality – SF
Asian American Bar Association of the Greater Bay Area
Asian American Institute
Asian American Justice Center
Asian American Legal Defense & Education Fund
Asian American Psychological Association
Asian American Queer Women Activists
Asian and Pacific Islander Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays
Asian Communities for Reproductive Justice
Asian Law Alliance
Asian Law Caucus
Asian Pacific AIDS Intervention Team
Asian Pacific American Bar Association of Los Angeles County
Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance – Alameda
Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance – Los Angeles
Asian Pacific American Legal Center
Asian Pacific Americans for Progress – Los Angeles
Asian Pacific Bar Association of the Silicon Valley
Asian Pacific Islander Family Pride
Asian Pacific Islander Legal Outreach
Asian and Pacific Islander Lesbian, Bisexual Women and Transgender Network
Asian Pacific Islander Pride Council
Asian Pacific Islander Wellness Center
Asian Pacific Policy & Planning Council
Asian Pacific Women's Center
Asian Women's Shelter
Asian/Pacific Bar of California
Center for the Pacific Asian Family
Chinese for Affirmative Action
Chinese Progressive Association
Conference of Asian Pacific American Law Faculty
Filipinos for Affirmative Action
Gay Asian Pacific Alliance
Gay Asian Pacific Support Network
Institute for Leadership Development and Study of Pacific Asian North American Religion
Japanese American Bar Association of Greater Los Angeles
Japanese American Citizens League
Khmer Girls in Action
The Korean American Bar Association of Southern California
Korean Community Center of the East Bay
Korean Resource Center
Koreatown Immigrant Workers Alliance
My Sister's House
National Asian Pacific American Bar Association
National Asian Pacific American Law Student Association
National Asian Pacific American Women's Forum
National Korean American Service & Education Consortium
Orange County Asian & Pacific Islander Community Alliance
Pan Asian Lawyers of San Diego
Philippine American Bar Association
South Asian American Leaders of Tomorrow
South Asian Bar Association of Northern California
South Asian Bar Association of San Diego
South Asian Bar Association of Southern California
South Asian Network
Southeast Asian Community Alliance
Southeast Asia Resource Action Center
Southern California Chinese Lawyers Associations
Vietnamese American Bar Association of Northern California
California Cities and Counties
Counsel: Stephen Lewis and Michael Jenkins, City of West Hollywood Legal Services Division
City of Los Angeles
City of San Diego
City of San Jose
City of Long Beach
City of Oakland
City of Santa Rosa
City of Berkeley
City of Santa Monica
City of Santa Cruz
City of Palm Springs
City of West Hollywood
City of Signal Hill
City of Sebastopol
City of Cotati
Town of Fairfax
City of Cloverdale
County of Santa Clara
County of San Mateo
County of Santa Cruz
County of Marin
Religious Organizations and Religiously Affiliated Individuals
Counsel: Raoul Kennedy; Elizabeth Harlan; Joren S. Bass; Philip Leider; Eric Alan Isaacson; Rev. Silvio Nardoni; Jo Ann Hoenninger
The United Church of Christ
The Union for Reform Judaism
Soka Gakkai International-USA
The Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations
The United Church of Religious Science
The Metropolitan Community Churches
The California Council of Churches
The Unitarian Universalist Legislative Ministry – California
The Reconciling Ministries Clergy of the California Nevada Conference of the United Methodist Church
California Faith for Equality
Pastor David Moss, Trinity United Methodist Church, Chico
Pastor Dr. Robert Goldstein, St. Francis Lutheran Church, San Francisco
Reverend Michael Schuenemeyer, United Church of Christ
Rabbi Arthur Waskow, The Shalom Center
Reverend Lindi Ramsden, Unitarian Universalist Legislative Ministry – CA
Rabbi Elliot Dorff, Jewish Conservative Movement
Reverend Kathy Huff, First Unitarian Church, Oakland
Pastor Jay K. Pierce, United Methodist Church of Merced
Pastor Scott Landis, Mission Hills United Church of Christ, San Diego
Pastor Brenda Evans, Christ Chapel of North Park, San Diego
Diana Elrod, Women's Division Leader in the Castro District of Soka Gakkai International-USA and Nancy Burns, Northern CaliforniaSoka Spirit Representative
Reverend Kevin Bucy, Midtown Church, United Church of Religious Science, San Diego
Reverend Diann Davisson, Religious Science Minister, Long Beach Memorial Hospital
William McKinney, PhD, Pacific School of Religion, Berkeley
Mary A. Tolbert, PhD, Pacific School of Religion, Berkeley
The Al-Fatiha Foundation
Affirmation: Gay and Lesbian Mormons
Muslims for Progressive Values
American Psychological Association
Counsel: Jenner & Block LLP
American Psychological Association
California Psychological Association
American Psychiatric Association
National Association of Social Workers
National Association of Social Workers, California Chapter
American Psychoanalytic Society
American Psychoanalytic Society
Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights
Bar Associations
Los Angeles County Bar Association
Beverly Hills Bar Association
California Women Lawyers
San Francisco Trial Lawyers Association
Bar Association of San Francisco
Counsel: Amitai Swarts, Bar Association of San Francisco
Bar Association of San Francisco
Santa Clara County Bar Association
Counsel: McManis Faulkner & Morgan
Santa Clara County Bar Association
California Legislators
Senator Elaine Alquist
Senator Ellen Corbett
Senator Christine Kehoe
Senator Sheila Kuehl
Senator Carole Migden
Senator Darrell Steinberg
Assemblymember Noreen Evans
Assemblymember Loni Hancock
Assemblymember Jared W. Huffman
Assemblymember Dave Jones
Assemblymember John Laird
Assemblymember Mark Leno
Assemblymember Sally J. Lieber
Assemblymember Fiona Ma
Assemblymember Anthony J. Portantino
Assemblymember Lori Saldaña
Family Law Professors
Professor Scott Altman
Professor R. Richard Banks
Professor Grace Ganz Blumberg
Professor Janet Bowermaster
Professor Carol S. Bruch
Professor Jan C. Costello
Professor Barbara J. Cox
Professor Jay Folberg
Professor Deborah L. Forman
Professor Joan H. Hollinger
Professor Lisa Ikemoto
Professor Courtney G. Joslin
Professor Herma Hill Kay
Professor Jan Kosel
Professor Lawrence Levine
Professor Maya Manian
Professor Mary Ann Mason
Professor John Myers
Professor E.Gary Spitko
Professor Michael S. Wald
Professor D. Kelly Weisberg
Professor Lois Weithorn
Professor Michael Zamperini
International Human Rights Clinic, University of Toronto
Professor William Aceves
Professor Sujit Choudry
Professor Brenda Cossman
Professor Chai Feldblum
Professor Hari Osofsky
Professor Beth van Schaak
Professors Kathleen Sullivan and Pam Karlan
Professor Kathleen Sullivan
Professor Pam Karlan
Professor William Eskridge
Professor Jesse Choper
Professor Jesse Choper
Professor Joseph Grodin
Professor Joseph Grodin
Professor M.V. Lee Badgett & Senior Research Fellow Gary J. Gates
Professors M.V. Lee Badgett & Gary J. Gates
American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers
American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers
Northern California Chapter of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers
California District of the American Academy of Pediatrics
Legal Momentum, ERA, California Women’s Law Center
Legal Momentum
Equal Rights Advocates
California Women’s Law Center
Southern Poverty Law Center
Southern Poverty Law Center
Equal Justice Society
Council for Secular Humanism and Center for Inquiry
Counsel: Ronald Lindsay, Center for Inquiry
Counsel for Secular Humanism
Center for Inquiry
Out and Equal
Levi Strauss
Anti-Defamation League & LGBT Community Centers
Anti-Defamation League
Los Angeles Gay and Lesbian Center
Sacramento Gay and Lesbian Center
San Diego Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Community Center
San Francisco LGBT Community Center
Billy DeFrank Center
The Gay and Lesbian Center of Greater Long Beach
Desert Pride Center
Lighthouse Community Pride Center
The Pacific Center
Stanislaus Pride Center
GLAD and The Equality Federation
Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders
Equality Federation
National Gay and Lesbian Task Force
Counsel: Professor Suzanne Goldberg; Winston & Strawn LLP
National Gay and Lesbian Task Force
People for the American Way and LGBT Bar Associations and Civil Rights Organizations
Bay Area Lawyers for Individual Freedom
Children of Lesbians and Gays Everywhere
Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund
Family Pride
Human Rights Campaign
Human Rights Campaign Foundation
Legal Aid Society – Employment Law Center
Lesbian & Gay Lawyers Association of Los Angeles
Marriage Equality USA
National Gay and Lesbian Law Association
Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays
People for the American Way
Pride at Work
Sacramento Lawyers for the Equality of Gays and Lesbians
Tom Homann Law Association

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Shah Mat! The King Is Dead, Long Live The King!

The World Chess Championships are being held in Mexico City and are about to conclude this weekend. World #1 (and Mad Professah's former acquaintance) Vishwanathan Anand of India is leading the field and will likely achieve his decades-long quest to be crowned the Best Player in the World on Sunday. He will be the first non-White World Chess Champion, following decades of Eastern European dominance by players such as Garry Kasparov, Anatoly Karpov and more recently Veselin Topalov and Vladimir Kramnik. Mad Professah has been following the tournament closely.

As of today, Anand is leading by one full point ahead with one more game to play. He has 8.5 points out of 13 (an impressive +4). In second place is Boris Gelfand with 7.5/13 and in third is the current world champion Vladimir Kramnik at 7/13. In the last round, Anand has the White pieces against Peter Leko (6.5/13) while Gelfand has Black against Alexander Morozevich (5.5/13). So unless Anand loses, Gelfand wins and somehow has a better tie-break score than Anand, the Indian Super-Grandmaster will be crowned World Champion later today.

UPDATE SAT 09/29/07 7:35 PM
Anand drew his last game with white against Leko. Kramnik won and Gelfand drew. Thus Anand wins by a full point (9/14) ahead of Kramnik and Gelfand who tied for 2nd at 8/14. In 2008, Anand will play a match against former World Champion Kramnik (in the complicated rules of world chess championship titles, the vanquished champion always gets a rematch with his vanquisher).

The Fight Over ENDA

Commenters at three major blogs, Pam's House Blend, AmericaBlog and The Bilerico Project are "Ground Zero" for a community dialogue on whether U.S. Representative Barney Frank (D-MA)'s decision to separate the "gender identity" provisions from "sexual orientation" in the version of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (H.R. 2015) to be considered by Congress next week. It should be noted that 2007 was the first year that a trans-inclusive version of ENDA was introduced, and that prior to this year ENDA has been introduced in every session of Congress since 1974.

Mad Professah agrees with the nine National LGBT organizations (Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays, the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, National Center for Lesbian Rights, National Stonewall Democrats, National Coalition for LGBT Health, Pride At Work (AFL-CIO), National Coalition of Anti-Violence Projects, Mautner Project and National Center for Transgender Equality) that issued a statement on Thursday opposing a trans-free ENDA.

However, as I commented on Pam's House Blend I believe that a compromise position would be to have an "Upperdown vote" on the original trans-inclusive version of ENDA and if that failed, then you could bring up a version of the bill without the "gender identity" provision. At least my way would innoculate the sponsors of ENDA from charges of "throwing transgenders under the bus" if a vote on a bill in which both issues were linked was able to occur. However, legislatively, it might be impossible to have two bills heading for the House floor nearly simultaneously.

Also, I do feel like after so many decades of public service to the LGBT community Barney Frank has earned the benefit of the doubt and should not be subjected to invective on this strategic legislative decision he has made to attempt to engineer the passage of the first federal non-discrimination bill inclusive of sexual orientation in U.S. history.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Celebrity Friday: Bill Clinton

Bill Clinton and Mad Professah reader Sean Wherley

Bill Clinton attended a fundraiser for his wife at the home of billionaire Ron Burkle in La Jolla, CA the weekend of September 15th. Mad Professah reader and San Diego resident Sean Wherley sent in the picture, with permission to be used on Celebrity Friday. Hillary Clinton did not attend the fundraiser.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Mychal Bell of the Jena 6 Released On Bail

Mychal Bell was released today on $45,000 bail and the prosecutor said that he has decided NOT to try the 17-year old as an adult aggravated second-degree battery charges. Last Thursday was a Day Of Action in support of the Jena 6, six African American teenagers from the town of Jena, Louisiana who have been undergoing a nightmare of selective prosecution and disparate treatment in a racially charged beating of a white boy in December 2006 following many other racially charged incidents in the small town.
The Jena 6 case has become a cause celebre among progressive and LGBT activists, and surprisingly the moderate to conservative national LGBT organizationHuman Rights Campaign has joined the fray on the side of the progressive LGBT folk. However, recently there has begun to be some vociferous dismay about HRC straying from the "straight and narrow" gays-only agenda.

Hate Crimes Cloture Vote Passes!

Pam's House Blend has the details of the 60-39 vote. The Republicans who voted in favor of the cloture vote were:

John Warner (R-VA)
Richard Lugar
Susan Collins
Olympia Snowe
George Voinovich
Arlen Specter
Judd Gregg
Norm Coleman
Gordon Smith
All Democrats and Sanders (I-VT), Lieberman (I-CT) voted in favor of ending debate on whether LGBT individuals should be included in hate crime legislation, which has been attached to the Defense Reauthorization Bill.

UPDATE 9:23pm PDT: I forgot to mention that after the cloture vote, the Senate passed the bill by unanimous consent so the hate crimes bill has now passed both houses of Congress, the first trans-inclusive piece of federal legislation to ever do so. Of course, the current occupant of the Whote House has already annnounced his intention to veto the bill, if it makes it to his desk.

No Dirty Trick Campaign Against Republican Electoral Vote Initiative

Actor Bradley Whitford (The West Wing) released the following video about the proposed ballot measure to award as many as 20 of California's 55 electoral votes the Republican presidential candidate next year.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Cloture Vote On Hate Crimes Bill Thursday

HRC Backstory has the breaking news of the cloture motion filed by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid on S. 1105, the Matthew Shepard Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 2007. This means that if the bill receives 60 votes on the floor of the Senate on Thursday September 27th, debate is terminated and a majority vote is called. The bill currently has 43 co-sponsors, with Republicans Snowe and Collins of Maine and Independent Bernie Sanders of Vermont.

Pam over at The Blend has excerpts from a Boston Globe op-ed by Professor Cornel West of Princeton University and Dr. Sylvia Rhue of the National Black Justice Coalition where they seek to refute the nonsensical statements by African American preachers who have claimed passage of the hate crames bill would somehow censor them and force preachers to conduct same-sex marriages or face fines or imprisonment. West and Rhue respond:

The truth is that the Matthew Shepard Act protects all First Amendment rights. And, although that is a given, this bill goes out of its way to protect the free speech of ministers. Those pastors who wish to continue condemning and dehumanizing the gay community will be free to do so.

The hate crimes bill provides resources for the investigation of violent actions - not beliefs, thoughts, or words. The proposed federal statute does not punish nor prohibit free expression of one's religious beliefs. As University of Chicago law professor Geoffrey R. Stone recently concluded, "The argument of the pastors that the proposed legislation in any way threatens their right to preach their version of the Gospel is, to be frank, ridiculous."

Despite the ridiculousness of their claims, the powerful and cash-rich antigay lobby continues to mold opinion against this legislation with fear and falsehoods. Leaders like Jackson have used provocative "thought crime" arguments to obscure the truth that, according to the FBI, 1,017 people were the targets of violent crimes in 2005 because of their sexual orientation.

Their rhetoric steals attention away from the stories of gay couples being viciously beaten for holding each other's hand in public or a flight attendant sought out to be heinously murdered simply because he was gay.

These preachers don't care to hear the thousands of stories of lives and communities scarred by antigay violence. And, conveniently, those who bring up the reality that the Matthew Shepard Act is a constitutional and important means to prevent antigay violence are labeled by these clergy as "anti-Christian." The good intentions of this legislation have been greeted by malice by these manipulators of fact.

Contact your Senators and tell them to vote YES on S. 1105!

Television Is Back!

The Simpsons started its 19th(!) season on Sunday

Heroes started its 2nd season on Monday

Heroes and The Simpsons have returned with new episodes, with Stargate: Atlantis, Numb3rs, E.R., The Office and Grey's Anatomy all starting back later in the week. Mad Professah is happy to be spared from the likes of 4400 (yes, I watched it anyway, but it's like the poor man's version of Heroes, with 1/10th the budget and acting talent, and THAT's saying something!) Once Stargate SG-1 ended and Stargate: Atlantis finished its season I even started watching the new Doctor Who, a favorite of mine from childhood.

New shows that I intend to give a chance are Back To You and Bionic Woman. Returning shows I will possibly start watching are Ugly Betty and Brothers and Sisters. I'm also looking forward to the return of Nip/Tuck in October and Lost in January. I've finally given up on Survivor and a long-time ago stopped watching MTV's The Real World so I will be completely reality television free!

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

NY TIMES Columnist Assails Republicans On Race Issues

There are a lot of great columnists at the New York Times but until recently Mad Professah and other bloggers have not been able to really comment on their work since we were unable to link to the columns since they were behind a pay-service firewall called TimesSelect. Well, TimesSelect was abandoned by the New York Times on September 19th, 2007. Today, in "The Ugly Side of the G.O.P.," Bob Herbert, an African American twice-weekly op-ed columnist at the Times explains "the Southern Strategy" that Republicans have been using to win the White House and it's significant racial overtones. The money quote is in the last paragraph:

In one of the vilest moves in modern presidential politics, Ronald Reagan, the ultimate hero of this latter-day Republican Party, went out of his way to kick off his general election campaign in 1980 in that very same Philadelphia, Miss. He was not there to send the message that he stood solidly for the values of Andrew Goodman. He was there to assure the bigots that he was with them.

“I believe in states’ rights,” said Mr. Reagan. The crowd roared.

In 1981, during the first year of Mr. Reagan’s presidency, the late Lee Atwater gave an interview to a political science professor at Case Western Reserve University, explaining the evolution of the Southern strategy:

“You start out in 1954 by saying, ‘Nigger, nigger, nigger,’ ” said Atwater. “By 1968, you can’t say ‘nigger’ — that hurts you. Backfires. So you say stuff like forced busing, states’ rights, and all that stuff. You’re getting so abstract now [that] you’re talking about cutting taxes, and all these things you’re talking about are totally economic things, and a byproduct of them is [that] blacks get hurt worse than whites.”

The column is generally to talk about the Jena 6 protests of last week and to condemn the Republican presidential hopefuls for not attending Tavis Smiley's presidential forum on issues of interest to the African American community which Herbert links to the fact that Senate Republicans last week also prevented a bill to give Washington, D.C. (a predominantly Black major American city) from getting voting representation in Congress refusing to end debate even though there was a solid majority of 57 votes to approve the bill (D.C. would have received one voting Representative in the House, along with Utah receiving one, bringing the total up to 437 voting members in the lower House of Congress).

Anyone else recall the ridiculous project announced by ("Bush's brain") Karl Rove and former Republican Party head (and closeted gay man avowed heterosexual) Ken Mehlman to court Black republican votes? Mad Professah does, and I am glad that Bob Herbert is educating potential voters for Republican candidates what the Republican party really stands for with regards to race.

L.A. Mayor's Girlfriend Gets Harsh Punishment

Salinas interviews The Mayor in June 2006

The punishment of Mirthala Salinas has finally been announced and it is a fate worse than death: re-assignment to Riverside! Salinas is the former political reporter and fill-in anchor who announced on a local Spanish language news broadcast on Telemundo's Channel 52 that Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa was separating from his wife. The Mayor later admitted that he was having an affair, and later revealed that the other woman was none other than Mirthala Salinas!
Kevin Roderick at LA Observed says that Salinas is deciding whether she will accept the demotion and re-assignment or resign her position. It's hard to believe that Salinas will accept moving from an anchor position in a huge media market like Los Angeles where her boyfriend is the Mayor to Riverside where she will be a general assignment reporter. Stay Tuned.

Iran's President Claims His Country Has No Homosexuals

As Joe.My.God says, the reason why Ahmedinejad says there are no homosexuals in Iran is because they keep killing them. Mad Professah covered this story in July of 2006.

Monday, September 24, 2007

REVIEW: The Emperor of Ocean Park

I read The Emperor of Ocean Park by Stephen L. Carter a few years ago in hardback and in eager anticipation of his second book, New England White, I
re-read it in paperback over the summer. I would preface my review by saying that I am an avid fan of the mystery genre (I'm currently working my way through Ian Rankin's brilliant Inspector Rebus series) as well as a former international chess player and avid Supreme Court watcher. These interests are clearly shared by Carter, who when he is not writing mystery novels is Professor of Law at Yale Law School, which is probably the best law school in the country.

Interestingly, the main character in The Emperor of Ocean Park happens to teach at a prominent law school on the Eastern Seaboard. The character's name is Talcott Garland, whose father Judge Oliver Garland was an unsuccessful conservative nominee to the United Supreme Court and whose wife is in the running for a judgeship on the United States Court of Appeals.

When his father dies unexpectedly, Talcott risks his marriage, his career and possibly his own life in order to uncover the secrets unearthed by his father's untimely death.

The book is an engrossing but somewhat phlegmatic read, due to its length (over 650 pages) and subject matter. I look forward to reading Carter's New England White, and I hope that he doesn't take another five years to write his next mystery novel.


Sunday, September 23, 2007

HRC Speaks Up On Jena 6

I have many (many) problems with the nation's largest LGBT advocacy organization, Human Rights Campaign, and will never give them any of my hard-earned money to financially support their efforts, but one must still give them "props" when they do something even more progressive than other LGBT organizations I heartily support, like The Task Force or Equality California. On Thursday, HRC's Executive Director Joe Solmonese appeared at a Free the Jena 6 rally in Washington, D.C. and gave an excellent speech explaining his presence:

My name is Joe Solmonese and I represent the largest gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender organization in the country. Am I am here -- we are all here from the Human Rights Campaign -- because this injustice cannot stand.

We are here because we know about bigotry. We know about hate. We know the pain in high school of standing apart. Of being taunted. Of standing up, only too often, to be shut down.

I am here -- we are here -- because you have stood with us. Because all of us know that one injustice against any of us is an injustice against all of us.

And I am here because I remember. I remember James Byrd. James was a gentle soul, a special soul. Someone who struggled his whole life with challenges, but was filled with love and was deeply loved in Jasper, Texas.

But James Byrd -- at 49 -- was savagely beaten, then chained to a pickup truck and literally dragged to his death. He was brutally murdered because he was black.

And then something really profound happened. Remember when George Bush was governor of Texas? Well, Governor Bush had a hate crimes bill on his desk. There was a lot of pressure to sign the bill because of what they did to James Byrd. So, George Bush said he'd sign that bill, but they had to take the gays out.

And here's what happened. Stella Byrd, who has just buried her beaten, broken, gentle James said, If some of us are left out, then all of us are. Valuing one life and not valuing another is not right. And the Byrd family said No. They said No. And they walked away.

So, I stand here today with solidarity. I stand here for social justice. I stand here to free those young men. To say this will not stand. It cannot stand. I stand here for the Jena 6. I stand here today for James Byrd.

We will not forget. We will never walk away.

Thank you very much.
The appearance by HRC at a predominantly African American, unabashedly progressive event is being noticed by several bloggers, including yours truly, especially since many progressive bloggers have not been covering the Jena 6 situation with as much ardor as they have followed other progressive cause celebres.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

LA TIMES editorializes on JENA 6

The Los Angeles Times ran an editorial in Friday's paper on the huge march in Jena, Louisiana on Thursday which does a good job of including the various facts of the case:

Jena, La., has been portrayed by big-city reporters, who swarmed to the small town Thursday when it became the center of a racial protest, as a place caught in a time warp. African Americans, who make up about 12% of the town's population of 3,000, live in their own neighborhood, are buried in their own cemetery and reportedly can't even get their hair cut at the white barbershop. The Revs. Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson have likened Jena to Selma, Ala., which became a national symbol of Jim Crow repression in the 1960s.

Many white residents, meanwhile, find such criticism bewildering. To them, Jena is just a pleasant, friendly place to live and work. They say everything would be fine if all the media and outside protesters -- agitators, they would have been called in a not-so-bygone day -- would just clear out and leave them alone.

The reality is probably somewhere in between. Jena is no Selma; the uneven treatment accorded to black and white students by school officials and local prosecutors isn't nearly as overt as the discrimination that racked the South decades ago, when racism was enforced by law as well as custom. It's highly troubling nonetheless -- and the problems won't go away when the protesters pack up for home.

Jena became a stewpot of racial tension starting a little more than a year ago, after black high school students sat under a tree that had long been an exclusive gathering spot for whites. Three nooses were found hanging from the branches the following day. It's hard to imagine a more vicious or provocative symbol in the Deep South, where lynchings of blacks were all too common for nearly a century after the Civil War. The school's principal wanted to expel the three white students responsible, but the school board ruled the incident a prank and suspended them for just three days. That decision has had terrible consequences.

People of both races have committed violent acts in the year since, but the harshest legal penalties seem to have been reserved for blacks. White youths struck a black student with bottles at a party; only one was charged, with simple battery. The next day, a white man brandished a shotgun at a group of black youths, who wrestled the gun away from him. The gunman wasn't charged, but the boys were charged with theft for taking his gun. Finally, six black youths beat a white student outside the school gym. Some were initially charged with attempted murder, although the victim was well enough to attend a school ceremony that evening.

Charges against most of the "Jena Six" have rightfully been reduced, but that probably wouldn't have happened were it not for the media attention and national outrage generated by the case. Jena residents who think all is well in their town are fooling only themselves. Thursday's rally should mark the start of some long-overdue soul-searching and political housecleaning.
For the fellow progressives who don't seem to understand why bloggers of color are so focusssed on spreading the word about the Jena 6, I ask you one question: Do you think that white kids and black kids are getting equal treatment in a town where blacks and whites are buried in separate cemeteries?

City Of Los Angeles Settles Tennie Pierce Case for $1.43 Million

Gary Friedman / LA TIMES

L.A. Observed
, L.A. Weekly and the Los Angeles Times are all reporting today, as Mad Professah noted earlier this week, the City of Los Angeles has settled the racial discrimination lawsuit of African American firefighter Tennie Pierce for $1.43 million. As the Weekly noted, the actual cost to city taxpayers is actually more than the original $2.7 million settlement vetoed by Mayor Villaraigosa in November 2006, because the City Attorney's office has already spent $1.35 million preparing to defend the city against the Pierce lawsuit. The Weekly provided the text of Mayor Villaraigosa's statement was:


City of Los Angeles

September 21, 2007

LOS ANGELES - Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa issued the following statement today regarding the settlement agreement in the case of Tennie Pierce v. City of Los Angeles:

“Today’s agreement is the best possible outcome for the taxpayers. It reduces the original settlement by nearly half, while protecting Angelenos from further liability.”

The settlement is paltry compared to the $6.2 million awarded in July to black lesbian Brenda Lee. However as part of the settlement Pierce will be eligible for his 20-year pension valued at over $1 million.

This is good news for newly installed Fire Chief Douglas Barry, although the Times pointed out the Fire Department has paid out $13.5 million in legal payouts over the past fiscal year!

Friday, September 21, 2007

San Diego Mayor Switches Position In Favor of Gay Marriage

The Republican mayor of San Diego, Jerry Sanders, gave a tearful press conference on Wednesday in which he announced he had changed his mind and now he was supporting gay marriage. The San Diego City Council had passed a resolution by a vote of 5-3 in favor of joining a lawsuit before the California Supreme Court which challenges the current discriminatory marriage law. Mayor Sanders had initially announced he would veto it, but on Wednesday he indicated he would sign it into law on when it reached his desk. San Diego, California's second largest city, joins Los Angeles (we're #1!), San Francisco, San Jose, Long Beach and Santa Cruz who have passed similar resolutions. Hmmm, if one Republican chief executive can change his mind on the question of marriage equality, maybe Governor Schwarzenegger will also? Rex Wockner, Joe.My.God and Pam have more coverage.

Anand Leads World Chess Championship

The World Chess Championship Tournament is currently being held in Mexico City. The qualified players are Vladimir Kramnik (Current World Champion, World #2, rated 2769), Peter Leko (World #8, 2738), Vishwanathan Anand (World #1, rated 2792), Boris Gelfand (World #13, 2733), Peter Svidler (World #9, 2736), Alexander Grischuk (World #16, 2732), Alexander Morozevich (World #4, 2762), and Levon Aronian (World #5, 2759). The former World #1 and current World #2 Veselin Topalov, is not in Mexico City contesting the World Championship tournament. If you want to know why the person widely regarded as the best player in the world is not playing for the world championship, read this informative article at by Mark Weeks. The New York Times lalso has an informative blog on chess called Gambit which is covering the world championships and chess news in general.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Jena 6 Update: Day of Action Thursday

Thursday is a Day of Action to Free The Jena 6. Pam's House Blend has been doing a fabulous job of covering the story. Mad Professah also alerted readers to NPR's coverage of the story several weeks ago. For example, Pam summarizes the story:
Last fall in Jena, Louisiana, the day after two black high school students sat beneath the "white tree" on their campus, nooses were hung from the tree. When the superintendent dismissed the nooses as a "prank," more black students sat under the tree in protest. The District Attorney then came to the school accompanied by the town's police and demanded that the students end their protest, telling them, "I can be your best friend or your worst enemy... I can take away your lives with a stroke of my pen."

A series of white-on-black incidents of violence followed, and the DA did nothing. But when a white student was beaten up in a schoolyard fight, the DA responded by charging six black students with attempted murder and conspiracy to commit murder.

It's a story that reads like one from the Jim Crow era, when judges, lawyers and all-white juries used the justice system to keep blacks in "their place"--but it's happening today.

...Robert Bailey (17), Theo Shaw (17), Carwin Jones (18), Bryant Purvis (17), Mychal Bell (16) and an unidentified minor, were expelled from school, arrested and charged with second-degree attempted murder. Bail was set so high -- between $70,000 and $138,000 -- that the boys were left in prison for months as families went deep into debt to release them.
In Los Angeles, there are multiple ways one can get involved locally. In addition, here are some ways you can get involved:

Sign the petition to support the
Jena 6 and be plugged in for future
action by visiting online: At
this site, you can also make a donation
to the legal defense fund, buy a “Free
the Jena 6” t-shirt, and join thousands
in demanding that the DA drop all
charges against the 6 young men.

Call Governor Blanco at 866-
366-1121, 225-342-0991
, or 225-
. Tell her to intervene in the
Jena 6 case, and to act immediately to
investigate the DA.

Call the Louisiana State
Visitor Bureau at 225-342-8119.
Tell them you won’t be visiting Louisiana
until justice is served in the Jena
6 case.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Pictures from Freedom To Marry Protest in Hollywood

Yesterday's protest at Arnold Schwarzenegger's star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame was a attended by a few hundred people. The rally started at the Mcdonald/Wright building of the L.A. Gay and Lesbian Center and the march we. It was organized to protest the California Governor's announcement that he will (for the second time!) veto legislation passed by the State Legislature last week which would open up marriage to same-sex couples in California.
Joe.My.God has some pictures from the protest as well and a link to how YOU can let the Governator know your position on AB 43, the same-sex marriage bill:

You can urge the governor to support equality and sign the legislation by calling him at 916-445-2841 or by sending him an e-mail at and select "gender neutral marriage bill" from the drop-down subject box..

A Call For a National AIDS Strategy

Over 100 organizations, agencies and associations working in the field of combating HIV/AIDS banned together to issue a statement calling for a National AIDS Strategy on Monday.

  • Strengthen prevention and treatment results through use of
    evidence-based programs;
  • Establish prevention and treatment targets and require annual
    progress reports;

  • Define priorities for action in federal agencies and assign
    tasks and timelines;

  • Include the prevention and treatment needs of minorities and
    high-risk groups as a main focus;

  • Address social elements that increase susceptibility to HIV;

  • Encourage more HIV prevention and treatment research; and

  • Involve multiple sectors -- including government, business,
    civil rights groups, faith-based organizations, researchers and
    HIV-positive people -- in developing the strategy

The hope is that having a National AIDS Strategy proposed will raise the profile of the issue of HIV/AIDS in the presidential race, and highlights the fact of what is currently lacking in national AIDS policy.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Maryland Highest Court Narrowly Rejects Freedom To Marry Lawsuit

The Maryland Court of Appeals ruled 4-3 in the case of Conaway v. Deane (pdf) today that Maryland's marriage law survives multiple constitutional challenges. Mad Professah has been following this same-sex marriage case (as well as those in California, Washington, Oregon, New York, Iowa and New Jersey) closely while it has been winding it's way through the Maryland judicial system for the last few years. Specifically, the court ruled (in 240 pages!) today that:





This summary basically means that the Maryland chapter of the ACLU and Equality Maryland (representing the plaintiffs, Gita Deane et al) lost on every point of law they raised. The first of these rulings is exactly the opposite of the famous Baehr v. Lewin case in Hawaii way back in 1993 and rejects the Andrew Koppelman-Sylvia Law legal argument that sexual orientation discrimination is itself a form of sex discrimination. The second decision by the Maryland Court is even more devastating, it is saying that lesbian and gay people do not form a ``suspect class" like racial and religious minorities and thus the lowest form of judicial review can be used to review laws which treat people of different sexual orientations differently. The reason? Because although lesbian and gay people are an "insular minority" that have been subject to discrimination through history they are not politically powerless! The third ruling, that there is no fundamental right to marry someone of the same sex is unsurprising because I know of no court which has accepted this argument (not even the successful gay marriage decisions in Baehr or Massachusett's Goodridge or New Jersey's Harris). The fourth decision follows from the first three, in that once you have rejected the legal legs the plaintiffs are standing on to challenge the statute, all the justices have to do is come up with a reason ``rationally related" to a legitimate government purpose to uphold the discriminatory law. The reason the judges came up with was the odious decision which showed up in both the Washington and New York cases: ``fostering procreation and the traditional family structure"(!)

The Baltimore Sun quoted from the dissent by Chief Judge Robert M. Bell, whom they noted is African American,
Bell said sex-based classifications are analogous to race-based classifications.

"It, therefore, is clear that an equal application approach cannot render constitutional a discriminatory sex-based classification," Bell wrote.

Bell, who is black, said: "To be sure, there are important differences between the African American experience and that of gay men and lesbians in this country, yet many of the arguments made in support of the anti-miscegenation laws were identical to those made today in opposition to same-sex marriage."

Someone needs to give that man a medal! Well, I guess the decision makes tonight's rally in favor of marriage in Hollywood even more important!

City of L.A. Playing Chicken With Racial Discrimination Lawsuit

Mad Professah and other bloggers have been following closely the multiple stories of racial, sexual and sexual orientation discrimination in the Los Angeles Fire Department. The most famous recent case is the Tennie Pierce case. Tennie Pierce is a Black man who was the captain oflived in a fire station where he was served and unwittingly ate dog food. His lawsuit against the City of Los Angeles was on track to be settled for 2.7 million dollars when the agreement was vetoed by Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa last November and the veto was then upheld by the City Council. L.A. Weekly published an interesting take on the Pierce case earlier this summer entitled "What Really Happened in Fire Station 95?" which basically refutes the notion that the infamous "dog food incident" was a racially motivated discriminatory act. However, with Black lesbian firefighter Brenda Lee's recent $6.2 million judgment in her jury trial, there have been published reports that the City Council is rethinking making another settlement offer.

Today, Tuesday September 18, Douglas L. Barry will take the oath of office as the first African American chief of the Los Angeles Fire Department. Time will tell if a jury will appreciate the guesture enough to innoculate taxpayers from a multi-million dollar payout of city funds to rectify previous racially dubious actions.

In response to a comment from Brian Humphrey (Public Service Officer, Los Angeles Fire Department) I updated the original post to correct factual errors mentioned by Mr. Humphrey. Mad Professah regrets the errors and appreciates the feedback from the LAFD.

Rally To Urge Non-Veto Of AB 43 TODAY!

Joe.My.God, Pam's House Blend and other websites are promoting the March and Rally sponsored by the L.A. Gay and Lesbian Center and other organizations today to urge Governor Schwarzenegger to allow AB 43 (The Religious Freedom and Civil Marriage Protection Act) to become law. The march will gather at the McDonald/Wright Building at 1625 N. Schrader Boulevard in Hollywood at 7pm and march to Arnold Schwarzenegger's star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Don't F*ck With Erwin Chemerinsky

Why is this man smiling? Because he just got a job offer worth
more than $205,000 to become Dean of the UCI Law School
Unabashed liberal and curent Duke Law Professor Erwin Chemerinsky has agreed to become the first Dean of the Donald Bren School of Law at the University of California at Irvine effective June 1, 2008. The law school is planning on opening it's doors in the 2009 academic year. This is a surprising result because late last week it was revealed that UCI Chancellor Michael Drake had rescinded a job offer to Chemerinsky after the publication of an Los Angeles Times op-ed by the law professor which criticized the death penalty process in California. Over the weekend, the Los Angeles Times reported that prior to dumping Chemerinsky from the post, Drake had received numerous calls from various Republicans upset about the uber-liberal receiving the job. One of those prominent Republicans protesting the appointment was Chief Justice of the California Supreme Court Ronald George who seemed particularly incensed by a point of law that appeared in the op-ed that Chemerinsky had written. The controversy flared hotter as the reasons for Drake, the only African American chancellor at a Universityof California school, appaeared to change daily. Drake had initially said that the reason he was rescinding the job offer was the difficullty of getting Chemerinsky's appointment as UCI Law School Dean through the University of California Regents. However, the Times interviewed several Regents who said that there had been no indication of any opposition on that body.
There have been calls for Chancellor Drake's resignation and it seems surprising that the two men will be able to work together amicably. I suspect by the time the law school does open it's doors in August 2009 Drake will not be Chancellor.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Davenport Wins Bali Title After 1 Year Off Tour

Lindsay Davenport with Bali trophy
and son Jagger Jonathan

Lindsay Davenport, former World #1 and 3-time Slam champion won her 53rd carrer title by defeating Daniela Hantuchova 6-4, 3-6, 6-2. Welcome back, Lindsay! Craig Hickman has more details.

US OPEN 2007: Men's Top 10 REVIEW

1 Federer, Roger (SUI). Prediction: Champion. Result: Champion. The soon-to-be-named Greatest Tenns Player Of All Time only lost a set twice in seven matches. In the second round he lost a tie-break set to a huge serving, 6-foot-9-inch American ex-collegiate player named John Isner in the third round and the very next round was outplayed for well over an hour by an athletic, left handed player from Spain with a huge serve named Feliciano Lopez. This led to the best match of the tournament, the quarterfinal matchup between last year's US Open finalist Andy Roddick and the 3-time defending champion. Despite playing his best tennis for well over two hours, the American found himself down two sets and a break and lost soon afterwards. That win basically decided that Federer would indeed win his 12th major title in four years. The Final was a mere formality, although Novak did make it interesting. Grade: A.

2 Nadal, Rafael (ESP). Prediction: Semifinalist or earlier. Result: Quarterfinalist, lost to David Ferrer. Finally, Nadal ran into someone who could run down even more balls than he could and his body simply failed him. The World #2 failed to live up to his seeding again on the hard courts of New York as his unheralded countryman seized the opportunity to dazzle on tennis' brightest stage. Grade: B-.

3 Djokovic, Novak (SRB). Prediction: Finalist. Result: Finalist, lost to Roger Federer. The Serbian phenom made his major final debut in this tournament, cementing his status as the second best hard-court tennis player in the world, despite what his Mom thinks. Thanks to David Ferrer, Djokovic was spared having to face the current World #2 player in his third consecutive grand slam semifinal of the year, having lost to Nadal at Roland Garros and Wimbledon, and thus got his first opportunity at tennis greatness in New York. Unfortunately, he blew it. He had five set points in the first set and two in the second set and still managed to lose both of those sets, in an eerie reprise of the compelling quarterfinal match between Federer and Roddick just a few days before. In addition, despite John McEnroe's sycophantic commentary which refused to acknowledge any flaws or deficiencies in Djokovic's game, many tennis fans were appalled by the Next Big Thing's on-court behavior (such as half-emptying a water ball on the court and throwing his racquet) which in almost any other case would have led to at least a warning from the umpire. Grade: A-.

4 Davydenko, Nikolay (RUS). Prediction: Quarterfinalist or earlier. Result: Semifinalist, lost to Roger Federer. Despite having never beaten Federer in 10 tries, Davydenko still showed up to the semifinal showdown with his nemesis playing hard and actually served for the first set and despite losing that set, did not fade away like lesser players but even when down two sets to none was still fighting hard deep in the third set where he again earned set points. True, he lost the match but the consisten Russian beat every player ranked beneath him and forced the #1 seeded player to work harder than he expected to. Grade: A-/B+.

5 Roddick, Andy (USA). Prediction: Quarterfinalist or earlier. Result: Quarterfinalist, lost to Roger Federer. Roddick played his best tennis against Federer for two solid sets while Federer was playing good, but not great tennis. Somehow, the Swiss player's serve was more effective than the American's despite being significantly slower (hey, maybe speed size doesn't matter, after all). Federer ended the match with 15 aces to Roddick's 14. Over 3sets of tennis Roddick had 42 winners to just 24 errors (a very healthy +18) but Federer had 6 fewer errors and 6 more winners for a stunning +30 performance. So where does Roddick go from here? He has nothing to be ashamed about. He would have beaten anyone else in the tournament playing that kind of tennis (including this year's finalist). Grade: A-.

6 Blake, James (USA). Prediction: Semifinalist or early round loss. Result: Fourth Round, lost to Tommy Haas. Despite placing second in the US Open Series, a favorable draw and again winning his hometown tournament the week before the US Open James Blake was unable to make his long-awaited breakthrough at a major tournament. However, Blake was able to make an important personal breakthrough by winning his first 5-set match ever against the veteran French magician Fabrice Santoro but could not repeat the feat against the more talented Tommy Haas. Grade: B.

7 Gonzalez, Fernando (CHI). Prediction: Quarterfinalist or earlier. Result: 1st Round, Lost to Teimuraz Gabashvili. The less said about 2007 after January for the Australian Open finalist, the better. Grade: D.

8 Robredo, Tommy (ESP). Prediction: Early Round Loss. Result: 3rd Round, lost to Ernests Gulbis. Despite (or perhaps because?) he's the best looking player in the Top 10, Robredo doesn't get very much respect from the rest of the players, particularly when he's not playing on a clay court. However losing to a baby-faced, 19-year-old Latvian player named Ernests Gulbis is not conducive to changing player's impression that The Pretty One (El Guapo) is pretty wimpy. Grade: C-.

9 Berdych, Tomas (CZE). Prediction: Fourth Round. Result: Fourth Round, lost to Andy Roddick. Berdych put on a reasonable performance against Roddick for approximately one set of tennis, but after losing that set, the crumpled like a house of cards and actually retired a few games later. Grade: C+.

10 Haas, Tommy (GER). Prediction: At least Fourth Round. Result: Quarterfinalist, lost to Nikolay Davydenko. The confident, talent German player did well to eliminate James Blake in one of the best matches of the two weeks in the 4th Round but was unable to beat the Russian backboard. Grade: B+.

Maybe Mad Professah should predict the results of the men's draw more often! At the 2007 US Open, I made 10 predictions and 4 were spot on, and 4 more could be interpreted as being correct. Only Davydenko and Haas performed differently than I expected. This is very different from Mad Professah's predictions of the Top10 women's players performances where only 1 out of 9 performed exactly as I predicted. Part of the secret is to make flexible predictions, e.g. "semifinalist or earlier" but I think those kinds of predictions are possible in the men's game because the number of players who can potentially get far in any tournament is greater than on the men's side.

Anyway, the Grand Slam season for 2007 is over, here's looking forward to Australia in 2008!

Saturday, September 15, 2007

EQCA Launches 10, 000 For Marriage Campaign

The California legislature has passed openly gay San Francisco-based Assemblyman Mark Leno's Religious Freedom and Civil Marriage Protection Act for the second time last week and sent it for Governor's signature, veto or non-action, by October 14. The state's largest LGBT political organization Equality California has launched a campaign to convince Arnold Schwarzenegger to not veto the gay marriage bill like he did last time the bill passed in 2005. The name of the campaign says it all: 10, 000 for Marriage, which intends to collect and send 10, 000 letters to the Governor before the October 14 deadline.

Take Action: Join 10,000 for Marriage!

Friday, September 14, 2007

Davenport Punctuates Her Return By Beating Top Seed Jankovic

Former World #1 and current #234 Lindsay Davenport beat World #3 and Top Seed Jelena Jankovic 6-4 2-6 6-2 at her first singles tournament back after having a child on June 10, 2007. With her win, the American 3-time Grand Slam champion made the semifinals of the Bali WTA tournament. Go, Lindsay!

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Company Donating 350,000 Trojan condoms to D.C.

The ongoing saga with Washington, D.C.'s free condom giveaway that Mad Professah has been following for months appears to be continuing. Yesterday's Washington Post is reporting that Church and Dwight, the manufacturer of Trojan BrandTM condoms, is donating 350, 000 condoms to Washington, D.C. to replace the "shoddy" Chinese-made prophylactics the D.C. Department of Health had been distributing for free which had been the subject of numerous complaints.

The population of D.C. is roughly 600,000 people. The Washington Blade reported earlier in the week that Mayor Adrian Fenty had been expected to make the announcement of the donation soon and it apparently happened yesterday. Mad Professah certainly hopes that the condoms are donated come in all sizes, especially Magnums (pictured here)!

US OPEN 2007: Women's Top 10 REVIEW

1 J. HENIN. Prediction: Semi-Finalist. Result: Champion. Say what you want about the World #1, she came to New York ready and prepared to play. She could not have enjoyed going 1 for 4 in Slam finals in 2006 an in 2007 she improved that to 2 out of 2 (Henin ost to M. Bartoli at Wimbledon in what I think must be called the upset of the decade and she did not
play the 2007 Australian Openfor personal reasons). Now if she can only
win majors without puppetmaster coach Carlos Rodriguez in the
stands she might actually get some respect. Grudgingly. Grade: A-.

2 M. SHARAPOVA. Prediction: Finalist. Result: 3rd Round, lost to Agnieska Radwanska (30) POL. The defending champion had a patty cake draw designed to get her to the final where she could have a chance to repeat her made-for-TV ascension to the pinnacle of women's tennis over a battered and bruised player left standing from the top half of the draw. Instead, fearless Polish teen took her out despite being down a break in the third set and won the last 6 games of the match by getting in Sharapova's head by relentlessly and impolitely. GRADE: B-.

3 J. JANKOVIC. Prediction: Quarterfinalist or Champion. Result: Quarterfinalist, lost to V. Williams. Finally MadProfessah gets one right. The quarterfinal showdown with V. Williams was probably the highest quality match on the women's side, with the Pe'er-Vaidisova slugfest in the third round a close second. I truly feel that Jankovic is thisclose to winning a major. She should take a lot of time off and get down to Australia a few weeks early to maximize her chances of doing well in the slams in 2008. GRADE: B+.

4 S. KUZNETSOVA. Prediction: Semi-finalist. Result: Finalist. Kuznetsova exceeded her seeding by taking advantage of incredibly nervous playing by Chakvetadze in the semifinals who herself benefitted from Sharapova's nervous collapse in the 3rd Round, making the bottom half of the draw as wide open as the Holland Tunnel. Sadly, although the Russian was able to battle
through her nerves to grab the win Chakvetadze refused to keep in her grasp after being up a break in the third set, Svetlana demonstrated her own lack of mental fortitude with her sub-par performance in the championship match against Henin. But she can seek solace in the rise of her ranking to #2 in the World. Grade: A-.

5 A. IVANOVIC. Result: Quarterfinalist or Semifinalist. Result: 4th Round, lost to Venus Williams. I underestimated the performances of both Williams players in this tournament, probably overly influenced by the last few years of desultory results in New
York. However, this 4th round match was the sharpest Venus looked in the fortnight. Ivanovic had been overperforming her seeding in the Slams for 2007 and I expected her to do so at the US Open as well. Sadly, the draw did not comply. If she had played this tennis against Henin, she would have won her second major of 2007 and have a claim to be the #1 player, instead of the Belgian. Grade: B.

6 A. CHAKVETADZE. Prediction: Quarterfinalist. Result: Semifinalist, lost to Svetlana Kuznetsova (3) RUS. Although I'm sure that Anna is not hapy right now with this result, as she sits at home thinking about it she should be satisfied with her first major semifinal
and the knowledge that if she had been a bit more experienced (as she will be
next time) she could have been the Russian player to be at the other end of a
whipping by the World #1. The paycheck should assuage the pain. Grade: A-.

7 A. MAURESMO. Did Not Play.

8 N. PETROVA. Prediction: Fourth Round or Quarterfinalist. Result: 3rd Round, lost to Agnes Szavay HUN. The most mentally fragile of the Russians has the game to go far in a slam but consistently underperforms her seeding at the majors. She's not getting any
younger, so I hope she realizes soon that if she wants her best results to be ahead of her instead of behind her she needs to go through a serious gut check. Grade: C-.

9 S. WILLIAMS. Prediction: Early Round Loss. Quarterfinalist, lost to Justine Henin (1) BEL. I was vociferous that I didn't think Serena should be playing this tournament.
For your "average" Top 10 players, 3 quarterfinals and a major championship would be a yearly Grand Slam performance proud to bring home to Momma. But as we all know, Serena is not your "average" Top 10 player. I'm hoping that 3 losses in a row to Justine will get Serena incredible motivation to train hard and prepare to reverse these results in 2008. That would make Momma Oracene really proud. Grade: INCOMPLETE.

10 D. HANTUCHOVA. Prediction: Quarterfinalist. Result: First Round, lost to Julia Valukeno. A surprisingly bad result for the hard-hitting Slovak player who has returned to
the Top 10 after winning her second WTA title at Indian Wells earlier in the year. Grade: D.

Turns out that of the 9 members of the Top 10 who played in the 2007 U.S. Open, exactly 4 performed better than Mad Professah predicted before the start of the tournament and 4 performed worse, with only one performing exactly as I predicted.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

The Race For Harvey Milk's Life

Sean Penn
Sean PennMatt Damon

The race in Hollywood to complete a film adaptation of the Harvey Milk story, the first widely known openly gay elected official in the United States, is heating up. Oscar winner Sean Penn has agreed to play Harvey Milk, with Matt Damon playing fellow San Francisco Supervisor Dan White. White assassinated Milk and San Francisco Mayor George Moscone, and after employing the infamous "twinkie defense" received a lenient sentence which led to riots in the Castro district and other areas of the City. In 1982 openly gay reporter Randy Shilts published an amazing book recounting the details of the Harvey Milk story called The Mayor of Castro Street: The Life and Times of Harvey Milk which Mad Professah can not recommend highly enough.

However, the film adaptation of the Randy Shilts book is not the movie that Matt Damon and Sean Penn are attached to. That film is to be directed by openly gay Bryan Singer (Superman, The Usual Suspects), produced by openly gay producers Craig Zadan and Neil Meron (Hairspray, Chicago) from a script still to be re-written by Chris McQuarrie. It is currently set for a 2009 release, acccording to IMDb. The Penn-Damon film is set to be directed by openly gay Gus Van Sant (Good Will Hunting, My Own Private Idaho, Elephant) and produced by the openly gay team of Bruce Cohen and Dan Jinks (American Beauty, Big Fish, The Nines) with a script by Dustin Lance Black.

So, the question is will there be two films of this amazing story, and will the better film reach the screen first? Recall that there were at least two films about Truman Capote in recent years. Capote was released before Infamous and won and Oscar for Philip Seymour Hoffman while the latter basiclly disappeared without a trace, despite receiving encouraging reviews.

The Harvey Milk story is incredibly important to the gay community so I hope that the competition in Holywood to get the film to the screen succeeds in getting the best film to the screen first.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

6th Year Anniversary of 9/11/2001

US OPEN 2007: #1 Seeds Win Titles

Roger FedererJustine Henin
R. Federer d. N. Djokovic 76(4) 76(2) 64J. Henin d. S. Kuznetsova 61 63

The 2007 U.S. Open concluded with the World #1's and top seeds winning their final matches in straight sets, the first time since 1996 (Sampras and Graf) the top seeds on both the women's and men's sides of the draw had claimed the title.

It was Federer's 12th major title, placing him tied for second on the all-time list of major singles chamipnships, behind Sampras' 14 titles. Federer has now won 4 sconsecutive U.S. Open titles and made the finals of all 4 majors in both 2006 and 2007. If it wasn't for World #2 Rafael Nadal, who beat him in both Roland Garros finals and the 2005 Roland Garros semifinal, he would have two calendar Grand Slams.

It was Henin's 7th major title of her career, and her second of 2007, cementing her place at the top of the WTA rankings. The diminutive Belgian also became the first player to beat both Williams sisters in a major championship and go on to win the title. It was also the second major championship of 2007 that she won without losing a single set (although she was pushed to tiebreaks against both Venus and Serena.) Henin did not play the Australian Open which was won be Serena Williams, and then she took Serena out in all three major championships during the rest of the year, each time in the quarterfinals.


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