Friday, December 29, 2006

Our Anniversary

Not to be sappy, but you and I just reached our six month anniversary. And I couldn't be happier. Thanks to everyone who visits this site regularly, thanks to those who take the time to comment (Red Tulips, TGC, Berdo, Gene, GRT, James) and thanks to those who, when they see me, make a comment or two about my posts.

I especially want to thank one Andrew Sullivan for the shout-out he gave me on his blog back in July. That really got the ball rolling for this blog and it gave me the impetus to keep posting.

As some of you know, I started a new job late in October. It's been going great, but the hours are a bit more demanding so it's been harder for me to keep posting on a daily basis. I'm disappointed by that.

So, for 2007, I plan on making a concerted effort to post on a daily basis.

I'm off to Provincetown for the weekend with James -- just the two of us in a beach community. In the winter.

How. Fun. :-)

In the meantime, here's a recap of the week's events with my own two-cents thrown in for good measure.

Once again, thank you for your support this past year. I want to wish you a happy, healthy, successful new year. And wherever you should decide to ring in the New Year, please remember to drink responsibly and vote Democrat.



Gerald Ford Passed Away -- Pardoning Nixon was so not cool. A National Day of Mourning on January 2nd (one that would give us all the day off) would have been.

James Brown is Dead -- The diva-est move ever is to die on Crimmus. That the lines are forming around the block at the Apollo Theater here in New York is truly a testament to this man's legacy.

Saddam is Handed Over to the Iraqi People -- Countdown to a real big mess. In less than 30 days all hell will break loose once Saddam is executed. The man is evil but hanging him is going to make a really bad situation worse.

Dreamgirls Debuts in Theaters on Crimmus -- And I am telling you it is the best effing movie EVER. Go see it go see it go see it.


Tuesday, December 26, 2006

On Immigration

I've been meaning to write about a fascinating series of articles I read last week in the Times last week. The paper spent a week with three sisters, all born in Mexico, who decided to come to the U.S., like countless other immigrants, to try their luck at the American dream. One sister achieved legal residency, the other still lives as an undocumented immigrant (both in Texas) and the other gave up and went back home to Mexico, a decision she now regrets.
I wasn't sure what to say about these articles, other than that they reminded me so much of my own family's experience as immigrants. I thought about my mom coming to this country when she was 18 to work and support her family back in Colombia, a decision she's firecely proud of in spite of the toll it took on her health. I thought about my earliest memories from childhood and how they play out in Spanish in my mind. I thought about spending a day with my dad at his job at a factory, watching him press skirts all day and thinking it was the coolest job ever.
But then I read this article today via Reuters and I know exactly what to say about the debate that consumed so much of our time earlier this year.

Reuters followed two people in Phoenix who went to the Mexican consulate in Phoenix to burn the Mexican flag in public. The man and woman were expecting a larger turnout to their spectacle, and has reached out to Neo-Nazi groups to support their cause.
"We need to get rid of all those who are destroying our country," Pauly said as the national colors of United States' southern neighbor flamed out on the sidewalk in central Phoenix earlier this month. "We are being invaded."
Laine Lawless, the founder of the Arizona-based Border Guardians group, also reaches out to white supremacists online. In one recent e-mail to a Neo-Nazi group, she urged "warriors for the race" to intimidate Spanish-speaking school children, and rob aliens depositing funds in U.S. banks.
According to the Southern Poverty Law Center: "We are seeing the radicalization of the existing vigilante groups, we're seeing more and more interaction between existing anti-immigration groups and genuinely white supremacist groups, Neo-Nazis and so on, and a rise in hate crimes against Hispanics."

This all comes down to selective politics.

The Republican Party, the same party that promotes faith and family values is out to purge this country of the one group who is probably most apt to embrace those same values. Meanwhile, the Democrats are fighting to let this group, who could very well turn their nose up at many of the party's values, entry to our country and its opportunities.
Here's where I stand on the issue of illegal immigration: People who are up in arms about it are racists. Those Latinos who say that the new wave of immigrants are threatening their own livelihood have forgotten what it was like for them to arrive here, with, as the saying goes, "a suitcase full of dreams."
As the line in the immigration debate now teters between racism and inclusion, I hope that our newly elected officials will focus on the problems that really drain our nation's resources (ahem, thewariniraq) and end the government-sanctioned bullying of a group that could very well advance the values our nation once had. You know, hard work, family, fear-of-God, love of country.

Monday, December 25, 2006

Ethiopia and Somalia at War

From CNN:

Ethiopian warplanes attacked two Islamist-held airfields in Somalia on Monday, witnesses said, in the most dramatic strikes yet of a war threatening to engulf the Horn of Africa.
The attacks -- one on the capital Mogadishu -- came hours after neighboring Ethiopia formally declared war, saying it was protecting its sovereignty against a movement run by terrorists.
If you look at the map to the left, you can't blame Ethiopia for defending itself. With Sudan's rogue regime threatening it on the west and with another terrorist state on the east, Ethiopia has no choice but to show its force in the region. That said, this will mean scores of displaced civilians and worse attrocities for everyone in the area known as the Horn of Africa.

Once again the "religion of peace" is at the crux of another war.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Not Trying to Ruin Christmas, buuuuut....

If you had told me five years ago that I would be in a relationship with a man and that I would be exchanging crimmus (Christmas) presents with his family I would have tossed my cookies, cried, and then gone running to Kingdom Hall (church for Jehovah's Witnesses). But alas, here I am in New Jersey (how interesting given the recent turn of events in this state) and I'm thinking about how caught up I am in the spirit of a holiday that I still believe has no real historic relevance.

And while I like the gift-swapping and the kindness, however forced and temporary, of the season, this does not in any way make me a believer in Christmas. I don't think there's anything especially spiritual about this holiday because it's a disguised pagan holiday. Don't take the JWs word for it if that bothers you, just click here.

The link above states the following: Most biblical scholars and preachers readily admit that they know Christ was not born on December 25th. However, they claim that this day is as good as any other to celebrate the birth of Jesus, despite the fact that it was originally a pagan celebration called Saturnalia which commemorated the birth of the sun god. [...] Jesus was born on the 1st day of the Feast of Tabernacles! In the year 5 B.C.E., this fell in the month of September.

Here's what this means to me: Christianity can't even get its own Patriarch's birthday right. Second, from what I studied in the Bible, the stories about Jesus don't focus on celebrating his birth but rather on understanding the enormity of his sacrifice for our sins. Granted, I'm not going to give up my life to pursue an evangelical career, but that's what Jesus did and that's what he asked of his followers -- that they love everyone and that they preach the good news of the kingdom (Matthew 24:14).

But if we're going to go on about Jesus' birth and on celebrating the "concept" of the nativity, let's make a special effort in '07 to embrace the "concept" of real Christianity: to spread love, tolerance and peace.

Merry Crimmus!

Friday, December 22, 2006

Haditha: Shoot Em' All, Let God Sort Em' Out

From CNN: Four Marines have been charged with murder in the 2005 killings of 24 Iraqi civilians, and four officers are accused of failing to investigate and report the deaths properly, the Marine Corps announced Thursday.

I love people who can multi-task. In the midst of losing a war, our government has the time to prosecute its own officers and make one more case for a quick exit from Iraq.

Not knowing all the facts from that fatedul day in Iraq when 24 civilians were killed in what some say was a "shoot first, ask questions later" operation, all I can say is that I'm not suprised by this behavior.

I mean, wasn't "shoot first, ask questions later" the reasoning behind Operation Iraqi Freedom? We didn't have all the facts then and yet we still embarked on a war. Our government reasoned "once we blow the country to bits we'll find the WMDs somewhere."

This horrible situation is a consequence of our government's own reckless use of military force. We pumped these kids up with the idea that their mission was heroic, God-sent, a justified and necessary retalliation for 9-11, and now we're surprised that they would kill any Iraqi who so much as looked at them?

Let's charge George Bush, Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld along with these officers if we're set on making things right.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Freedom Tower: Let Arrogance Ring

Another development in the saga that is the rebuilding of the World Trade Center here in New York: The first beam of the Freedom Tower was erected yesterday, amidst the now annoying pomp that precedes anything having to do with Ground Zero.

Does our elected officials have nothing better to do besides "commemorating" every last bowel movement that takes place below Canal Street?
What irks me most about the Freedom Tower is the arrogance behind the project -- we're not showing the world anything by building an even taller edifice downtown, we're just waving the red flag in front of the bull. Five years after thousands of people were wiped from existence it's become our city's prerogative to account for all the deaths in dollars and cents. Which means that this very pricey bit of real estate, which is now a cemetery, has to be repurposed and every last person who lost a loved one there needs to be placated with hollow praise and the drone of a bagpipe.
Some simple-minded people might gasp and tear up at the thought of steel, glass and copy machines soaring 1,776 feet into the heavens, ever closer to their departed loved ones. I find it sickening and audacious. But predictable. Given our heady times, when our government seems hell bent on winning an un-winnable war, it's small, empty "victories" like these that emphasize, oh what is it, "the resilience of the American spirit" and bla bla bla.
If you want to commemorate anything, how about making the day George Bush said we're NOT winning in Iraq a national holiday? Check out the Boston Globe for that.

Monday, December 18, 2006

TIME Magazine Person of the Year: Us

I was thinking of an end-of-year message to post on this blog, which by far has been one of my biggest achievements in 2006. I wanted to thank the people who check in to read my opinions and who take the time to challenge me and offer me a different point of view on the most pressing issues of our time.
So, first, thank you.
However, TIME magazine has beaten me to the punch. This year's person of the year is every person who engages in this medium that advances dialogue and thought. And I think that's pretty terrific.
So, from me, and from the people at TIME magazine, thanks for making 2006 the blogger's year.
-- GCL

Saturday, December 16, 2006

John Edwards to Run for President...YES!!


From USA Today just a few minutes ago (as of 2:20pm EST): Former Democratic vice presidential nominee John Edwards intends to enter the 2008 race for the White House, two Democratic officials said Saturday.

A handsome, patriotic family man from a red state. Love it. This race is going to get good. The Dems don't have to scramble anymore, the Obama thing was just a ruse, Edwards is the real deal. Phew.

If it were up to me, the Dems would have to narrow it down to John Edwards, Joe Biden and Hilary for the race. Why Hilary? Cause' she's caustic and faaaabulous. Like my girl New York on Flava of Love on VH1.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

View from The Watchtower: Sluts and Lightning

You better pray.
So was I extolled by Gawker this morning when I logged on for my daily dose of New York-centric gossip. Shocked was I to see the religion I grew up in was being dissected by one of my fav blogs.

The Jehovah's Witnesses are on a special assignment these days -- and make no mistake, they do call it a special assignment -- to educate the masses about the end of false religion. False religion, for the JW's, is a literal whore that represents all the world's faiths that have turned their back on God's teachings to promote immorality and war. And to make sure everyone is on the lookout for the end of this slut's reign, the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society is issuing the pamphlet above around the world.
So, what is false religion? Per the JW's all the faiths that meddle in politics, ordain gays and pedophiles and spread false doctrine are doomed.
For some reason, reading the very funny review of this new pamphlet on a blog got me a bit down. Growing up as a JW you kind of assume the whole world is living in doom-and-gloom-judgementia. To be away from it now, while still considering myself a Christian, is often difficult. Every now and again I'm confronted with the faith I embrace(d)(?) and the jolt of guilt, fear, relief, fills me.
I think, though, all faiths are guilty of promoting false doctrines. In that case, how lucky we all are that our end is near.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Iran, and the U.S.: Play Nice, Kids

Let by-gones be by-gones. That's pretty much what Nelson Mandela did after he was released from 28 years of captivity during Apartheid in South Africa. No reprisals from the native black communities were to be launched on their white oppressors; for Mandela, progress was as much about looking forward as it was about accepting that no amount of vengeance could undo the horror suffered by millions for so long.

And so a similar challenge is presented to the U.S. as our self-proclaimed enemy, Iran, offers to step in to help us "save Iraq." To save Iraq, for us, would be to find a way to end the violence in the country, establish some sort of truce between the Sunnis and Shiites, and leave the people in the hands of a democratic government.

It's a safe bet that Iran has a different vision of salvation.
From the BBC:
Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki has said Tehran is willing to help the US withdraw from Iraq. But he added that Iran would only assist if the Americans changed their attitude towards Tehran.
AKA: Let us kill and torture women as we see fit, let us spread our myopic interpreation of ancient texts-turned-law across a hotbed of fanaticism, and stop thinking that just because we're building a nuclear weapons arsenal and we hate you that we're going to build a coalition of pissed-off Muslim countries to kill all of you.
In this case, Mandela's example is just not applicable. Neither the U.S. nor Iran are willing to put arms down and shake hands. Instead, Iran's latest foray into the international scene is an affront to the work the US is doing in Iraq.

I bring up Mandela's example, though, because it goes to show that the world is ever propelled forward by the acceptance and manipulation of evil. China, for instance, is taking over the world and has no qualms about doing business with Sudan. Russia's private sector is benefiting from the lucre of arms deals with Iran. South Africa is moving forward in spite of deep-seeded racism. And in the U.S., Presidents Clinton and Bush Sr. are the Nicole Ritchie and Paris Hilton of international goodwill.
So here's what I say to our Commander-In-Chief: hear the Iranians out, know that a snake is a snake, and be prepared to step on its head as soon it serves its purpose for you. You know, like we've done with Noriega, the Somozas, Saddam and Osama....

Friday, December 08, 2006

Hamas in Iran: Israel Sux

Ismail Haniya, the Palestinian Prime Minister, is on a four-day tour of Iran, the Hamas-lead state's largest benefactor.

Both countries have vowed never to recognize the state of Israel. What's more, Haniya made the following incendiary remark:
"We will not give up our Jihadist movement until the full liberation of Beit al-Muqqadas [Jerusalem] and Palestinian land."
That's nice. Way to wave the flag in front of the bull. With W taking another beating this week I wouldn't be surprised if he launched another assault in the Middle East just to show everyone who's boss. If he did it this time, though, I'd say it was justified.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Iraq Study Group: Get Out

From CNN: In a highly anticipated report being released Wednesday, the Iraq Study Group will call for a dramatic shift in war policy by urging the Bush administration to set a target of moving most U.S. troops out of their combat roles by early 2008, according to two sources who have seen the executive summary of the report.

Can't wait to see how the Right is going to spin this one. Is it possible to top the catchiness of "cut and run" politics?

With two Dems leading the report, the call for a 2008 withdrawl from Iraq is also a call for bipartisan cooperation. In the end, it's not just the U.S. that stands to suffer from an Iraq in chaos.

"Sources said a major theme in the report by the group, co-chaired by former Secretary of State James Baker and former Democratic Rep. Lee Hamilton, is a blunt assessment that the mission in Iraq will fail unless the Bush administration and the newly elected Democratic Congress come together on a bipartisan basis to deal with the declining support for the war within the United States."

First, I can't believe we're still tossing the word war around anyway. After all, W landed on a bomber dressed up in his Top Gun ensemble nearly four years ago to tell us we won. The time since then has just been, well, hmm...

That aside, I don't think we'll pull out of Iraq anytime soon. This war was designed to last. Now that America is slowly waking up from the Republican fog it's been in for the past six years, though, maybe an exit strategy will become more clearly defined. Still, you have to make sense of all the American lives lost in this operation -- and that means more fighting, more terror alerts, more fear mongering and propaganda to come.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Chavez Wins Venezuela; Latin America Looks Ridiculous

The news out of Caracas is very disappointing: With 78 percent of the votes counted by Sunday night, the National Electoral Council reported Chavez leading Rosales by a margin of 61 percent to 38 percent [...] "Long live the socialist revolution! Destiny has been written," Chavez shouted to thousands of flag-waving supporters wearing red shirts, according to The Associated Press.
"That new era has begun," he declared with religious fervor, raising a hand in the air. "We have shown that Venezuela is red! ... No one should fear socialism... Socialism is human. Socialism is love."

With Fidel Castro hovering near death, it appears that Chavez has emerged as the region's heir-apparent to the anti-US movement popular among some in Latin America. As much as I don't like Chavez' politics, though, I'm not really worried about the "pink tide" sweeping across Latin America, though.

In short, it's because they still need us more than we'll ever need them. Speaking as someone of South American descent, I can tell you quite honestly that for all the "love" and "socialism" being spread across the region, the average person in Bolivia, Ecuador or Nicaragua would give an arm to come to the US.
Still, the Toronto Star has an interesting point of view on this issue, one that suggests that US has some serious relationship-mending to do with soon-to-be rogue states in the region:
This gallery of anti-Bush leaders also includes Bolivia's Evo Morales and the socialist warhorse Daniel Ortega in Nicaragua, leaving some analysts convinced there is a historic disconnect between a U.S. State Department obsessed with Iraq and the greater Middle East and the priorities of voters in its onetime sphere of influence.

The growth of anti-Americanism, they say, is a product of a Bush administration that drifts between bellicosity and indifference in the region, does not understand the changes in its backyard and is unable or unwilling to engage enemies, perceived or real.
While the situation in Latin America is disappointing, I still think our nation's focus needs to remain on Iraq and the Middle East. My only concern with Chavez, though, is his taunting of the US by being a voal supporter of Iran's nuclear program. With that, Chavez is playing with fire and is getting himself, and more importantly his people, into a war they should want no part of.