Friday, April 24, 2009

Just Call Her Miss Confederate

This one's odd:

Perez Hilton, a queer guy who makes a living talking about celebrities, successfully torpedoed the aspriations of Miss California to become Miss America, by asking her about gay marriage.

(That's his stage name, by the way. Get it? Not Paris Hilton, but Perez Hilton.)

The exchange went something like this:

Hilton: Honey, please tell me how cool gay marriage is.

California: Well, in this country you have a choice, and I think that's good. Personally, I think marriage should be between a man and a woman.

Perez Hilton then levitated, rotated his head 360 degrees, and spit pea soup on the live studio audience.

Going over the fallout, quickly --
  • Miss California lost to Miss South Carolina, who I imagine has more extreme views about gay marriage, but wasn't asked and didn't tell;
  • Hilton posted to his video blog calling California a number of misogynistic names;
  • Also he apparently obscenely defaced a picture of her and put it on his website;
  • California went on a talking heads show where she said Hilton asked and she told him;
  • She also said she'd pray for him;
  • Hilton went on Larry King and said she could have passed if she'd refused, Sarah Palin-like, to give a substantial answer to the question;
  • He also invited her to coffee, because it's easy to hate queers when you don't know them.
Maybe it's because the USA is in the grip of an "economic death spiral" (which is to say, the economy's going down the toilet) that so much attention is being paid to this. It makes a nice break, I guess, from industries demanding more strings-free cash from Congress, and from religous whackos self-detonating in Iraq.

There's so much misery and horror going on in the world -- why not have a quick time-out to watch Gorgeous and Gayboy catfight over, of all things, gay marriage.

Does anyone else think it's strange that a gay man is one of the judges in a nationwide contest about feminine beauty?

Miss Cali has become an overnight hit with conservatives everywhere; it looks like she'll outshine her former rival, the new Miss America. Meanwhile, I have some friends who are very active in gay rights, and I imagine they'd be cringing to have Hilton representing their cause, if they saw the hatred and misogyny he's been emitting.

Fortunately, they read only pro-queer literature, just as Christians read only pro-religion news. We all like to be insulated from uncomfortable truths.


Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Blogojevich on Blagojevich

"Senate seat for sale," said Blagojevich
"Or I take it myself, don't care which."
But after his arrest
I bet he pleads no-contest
And becomes some felon's bitch.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Why The Financial Crisis is Good For You

I am vindicated.

I have been saying this for the past month and finally it's out in the news.

(I haven't mentioned it on here, which regrettably restrains the extent to which I can properly gloat. I should spend more time posting to my own blog, rather than other people's.)

A month ago, when gas prices started to drop, National Public Radio (NPR), one of the few sources of substantial news in America, ran a startling story. They had on a talking head who explained that:

Gas prices were dropping because people were driving less.
--An outright lie.

Maybe people are driving a little less; but I don't know anyone who's driving $4.00 to $2.40 less.

"But, Mr. Clench," I hear you cry, "what else could it be?"

Simple: Gas prices fell for the same reason that housing prices fell. For the same reason: The rich folk who have been buying petroleum and hanging onto it until the price goes up a bit, to sell at a profit -- day-traders; speculators -- panicked. And they sold, and they sold, and they kept selling.

Gas is now selling for under $2.00 a gallon. It was last at $2.00 a gallon fifteen years ago or so, going off memory -- ergo, for the last 15 years, everything you and I have been paying above $2.00 a gallon has been going directly into the pockets of rich people, rewarding them for driving up the price of gasoline in a bidding war against themselves.

As I say, I've been saying that for the past month. And, I've been saying that it's a big problem that NPR is propagandizing the matter -- is lying to us about the kind of society we live in.

Well, now it's out. They've actually started talking about gas prices being due to speculation. I guess it was just too apparent.

Why do we tolerate this? Well, because working people in America have been taught to hate themselves. To work for a living is low-class; we need to pretend we're in the top .05% of the population that makes it's living off price-gouging and vote accordingly. That's called, perversely, the free market: the free market is untethering gas prices from the actual market price, so it's no longer governed by real production costs and real demand.

These are the people who are screaming for a bail-out. These are the people who claim to be holding the economy hostage. Give them billions of dollars to reinstate the status quo and pay them the money they lost in the last round of speculation, when the Ponzi-scheme of bidding up what we pay at the pump finally failed.

And before anybody accuses me of being anti-business, I want to make clear: I'm pro-business. But rich people effectively levying a private tax that doubles the prices of our necessities -- that's not business. That's something else entirely.


Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Obama, Guantanamo, and Being American

When the news about Guantanamo broke, I lost faith in my country. I didn't even know I had faith in my country until I lost it: but the notion that in America we would have a gulag -- that we would run this gulag in Cuba because American soil wouldn't have it -- this got to me.

It's a terrible thing for a man to lose faith in his country. I'm not disposed to be sentimental about the US: it's a legal agreement among its citizens which is meant to allow us to get on with our daily business, and that's it. Generally those we hire as stewards to that legal agreement turn out to be crooked patriots who promise us 150% and compromise 140 of it to deliver 10, and when that turns out to be the 10% that gets them re-elected we say they're good men and women.

The first time I felt like an American was in college. I was dating a young Chinese lady who loved my eyes: and it may sound foolish relating this to you, but I simply could not understand why that was -- after all, she was the one with the Asiatic fold -- until I made the intuitive leap and realized that she was used to seeing only people who had Asiatic folds. To her, my eyes were exotic.

We were sitting in her car in one of those long silences that young couples look at each other in, and she was just so pretty that I winked at her. Wide-eyed, she blinked back: eyes closed, eyes opened. Puzzled, I winked again; and again, she blinked: eyes closed, eyes opened. She didn't know about winking. It was invisible to her.

It was in that moment, winking at a girl and not being understood, that I first felt very, very American. And I had no idea how to understand that feeling.

Not approving of the President is familiar to me; so is thinking that the President should stop hiding behind the Bible, behind the flag, and behind children; I've often thought that the President should stop feeling our pain and get down to business. Being scared of fundamentalist whack-o's who believe nuclear Ragnarok will bring the Second Coming is nothing new either. I'm used to feeling dutifully appalled at the dirty tricks our government has played on other nations -- killing a few natives here to make big business a fast buck; subverting a democracy there because they're leaning toward the kind of government held by that bastion of evil, Sweeden -- sure. But I never really felt ashamed until Guantanamo; until the gulag.

I am not sentimental about Barak Obama; I hope he will be a good steward, because we need to give him a free hand. And it's complicated: because we need to keep an eye on him while understanding that the Republican attack machine is right now studying how to take him down. This is what will happen:

President Obama will be followed in the news like a rock star. After one year, Times and Newsweek will start asking why he hasn't accomplished anything. After a year and a half, some idiotic manufactured scandal will hit -- he'll be found in bed with a dead moose, killed by Sarah Palin; or whatever. He'll reply, no, it was only a mounted set of antlers, and we were snuggling on the couch. And, appealing to our moral rectitude, to our love of our children and the blood of the men and women who fought and died for this country, the Republicans will accuse him of cowardice, of deviance, of corruption, of conspiracy, and of anything else they think might work:

Because although most Republicans are good people, they listen too much to people who want nuclear Ragnarok to bring the Second Coming; and although they are good people, they are too ready to be used by the financial leeches who created this terrible economy: by the people who thought the economy was great until last month, who want the bailout to restore the economy we had in August.

Obama needs to have a free hand; we need to protect him against these people. You voted -- but that's not enough. Get the phone number of your Senator; of your Congressman; get their email; and in these coming years, hassle them mercilessly. Call them once a week and demand to know what they're doing about the economy; about the war; call them while you're doing dishes; call them while you're drunk. Next time you call Mom set it up as a conference call. When they send you fliers, write them nasty emails demanding a more specific, less superfical description of their stand. Accuse them of patronizing you, because they do; accuse them of insulting your intelligence. Invite them to a town hall meeting in your neighborhood and make it happen: You hired these people, you are paying them, and you can't just show up once every four years and bellyache that things aren't how you want them. And--

Write a letter welcoming Obama to the Whitehouse, and outline in one page what it is you want him to do. And mail it now. Write on the envelope: "To be opened January 21, 2009." Let W. hang on to it for you.

For my part -- I didn't think I'd see a black President until I was a very old man. This redeems us -- we still have the present nightmare to deal with, but the old nightmares which have so troubled our past can be laid to rest. And for that, and the chance to participate in that, I am deeply grateful and proud.


Saturday, November 1, 2008

November 08

November is an interesting month in America, because it's the transition time between Halloween and Thanksgiving: we prepare for the month by having little kids dressing up like monsters and the dead; we start the month with them gorging themselves on the candy we've given them (bribing the fearsome beasts to give us another year's lease on life); and we end the month with a huge home festival, where the in-laws and grand-parents all come over, the womenfolk go prettily berserk to get the cooking right while the menfolk suck down beer and watch the game -- the kids, maybe, cruise the internet pretending to be God-knows-who, or start on their Christmas wish-lists -- and, finally, we eat until we're sick.

But *this* November is particularly important in America, because we'll be choosing either the first black U.S. president or the first woman U.S. vice-president: and a woman vice president who stands a statistical one-in-three chance of being made president, if old John McCain is elected and, God forbid, doesn't survive his term.

I recently saw the Oliver Stone movie, W. (a life misunderestimated), and it made me profoundly glad that I live a lifestyle where I don't have to worry about Oliver Stone making movies about me. It's not what you'd call a fair movie: it's not fair to the President, and it's not fair to the audience: but it is a very good movie.

The movie is very convincing: you never mistake the star, Josh Brolin, for the President, but you recognize him as the President; and likewise the other leaders of our country. There's good and bad in all of them, not sharply divided but all mixed together in that way people have: but what's remarkable is how smaller-than-life they all are.

If hating George Bush is your thing, you should know it's not really possible to hate any of them after watching this movie; but it's also not possible to put them on a pedestal, had you been so inclined. They all come across as human: not profoundly human, in an O-the- Humanity way, but frankly human, in the way one of your co-workers is.

And to those who have a deep and abiding anger at what George Bush has done to this country, the movie has a kind of reply: unspoken, but I think made very clear. It's very well done.

--Back during the primaries, when it looked like we'd end up with Hillary, Obama, or McCain, I was telling people, "Look: it almost doesn't matter. We can relax. No matter *who* we get as President, they'll be better than Bush. They're all sane, rational people; they've all got experience."

That was before Sarah Palin. Sarah Palin seems to me like a bigger, better W waiting to happen all over again: more W than W, in fact. On YouTube you can see that Matt Damon, of all people, was asked about her recently: he got to the heart of the matter more than any media commentators I've seen.

Those are the stakes being played for this November: November '08 in America will determine the future course of this country, and frankly that means, to a great extent, of the world: in deeper and more profound ways than I can fathom. Let's hope, then, that the transition from the Day of the Dead to the Day of Thanks goes smoothly.

Sarah Palin's Moose Rap on SNL

Sarah Palin was out of control. You can see it in her posture at the VP debate, too: that demure way she hunches over, nodding her head in a kind of bow.

As President -- if you look at him, McCain on Letterman looks none too healthy -- Palin would similarly be out of control. If she can't judge and control the social situation on the SNL set, how much worse will she do negotiating with Russia on nukes? Golly-gee-willikers might throw the Russkies for a loop, but I suspect they might recover well before it's time to start signing things.

But is she qualified to be President? --This much conservatives and liberals can agree on: Palin is *just* as qualified to be President as is the man who chose her, John McCain.

It seems people got confused, because Palin and Hillary are both women. But Hillary is the kind of woman you'd like to have around if you got mugged. Palin only scares moose.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Pie vs. Pie

I remember a day before spam
In the news there was no Islam
Because jihad wasn't calling
The towers hadn't fallen
And we didn't give a damn.