Monday, December 31, 2007

Thanks, 2007

And so another year comes to an end and I'm forced to wax pensive before I head out for New Year's festivities with my parents, James and some friends.

I'll keep it short: 2007 was very good to me. And 08 will be even better. To sum it all up, the picture on the left is of James and me in Santorini this summer. We braved 2 weeks at sea with both sets of parents and my younger brother, and though I felt like I went through Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome upon our return, I look at the pictures from the journey and I'm overwhelmed with gratitude.

And that was the highlight of my year.

Those who know me know that I'm prone to pulling a Naomi when things don't go my way. This year, however, the lesson I finally learned was that we're all vested with the power of choice. We can choose how to react to situations -- we can walk away in peace, or stay in rage. I've chosen, when faced with issues that are bigger than me, to just walk away in peace. And I'm all the better for it. Because no one fell into the Mediterranean on many a fateful day in mid-August.

But this blog isn't about my travels or the Sex and the City movie. It's about politics and the way I, as a gay man of faith (in both God and the power of democracy) process the events of the day.

So where does this peace and love nonsense fit into 08?

As we enter the last leg of the presidential race let's remember that most Americans are fed up with the smoke and mirrors of hate and finer pointing that have become the stock and trade of this current administration. Eight years of propaganda and twisting of words like faith, family values and democracy have gotten us into an unnecessary war and have pit Americans against each other over nonsense issues.

So let's go back to basics. We all love America. The vast majority of voters love this country and the values it represents: freedom, hard work, justice. Let's elect the candidate that embodies these ideals to the fullest and can promise to tackle the enemy -- both within and outside our borders.

There Will Be Problems in the World in '08

...but the Sex and the City movie will also be coming out. I mean, you take the good you take the bad, you take em' both and there you have the first trailer for SATC - The Movie:

I'm really disappointed in myself for having gasped when I saw this for the first time.

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Why Can't I Be a Diesel Lucky Bastard?

I want to travel around the world with the 55DSL kids -- they get to travel around the world and live successfully for Diesel while blogging about their adventures.
I almost bought a pair of Diesel briefs yesterday...really cute low-rise briefs with DIESEL spelled out in studs. Only my mom picked them out and said "these are so you."

Anyhoo, the Junior Lucky Bastards visit Colombia in the clip above, check out more of their travels here.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Colombia Hostage Release at a Standstill...

Foto: El Pais, Colombia

...until tomorrow. In the meantime, Venezuelan armed forces and the International Red Cross are holding out hope that before 6pm Sunday, three hostages held by the Revolutionary Armed Forces will be released. Ingrid Betancourt, a presidential candidate who was kidnapped in 2001 and whom I've written about frequently, is not among the hostages slated for release.

Still, for people like Clara Gonzalez, the mother of Clara Rojas, who was kidnapped along with Betancourt, the anguish may soon be over. Soon she'll get to see her daughter, and meet her new grandson, Emmanuel, who was born after Rojas' kidnapping.

But anything is possible. Chavez' good will toward Colombia is a way for him to spread his influence across Latin America. Worming his way into one of the most volatile diplomatic situations in the western hemisphere has made him, unfortunately, an integral part of the peace-building process in Colombia.

So, three hostages may be released tomorrow, or they may be held for another three years. In the meantime it is abundantly clear that Chavez himself is a terrorist - his influence over the FARC makes him complicit in the group's crimes against the people of Colombia. Once the hostages are released, let's pray for the prompt elimination of both the FARC and their spiritual leader, Hugo Chavez.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

An Incredible Story Comes to an End

Source: Getty Images/NY Times

I got smacked out of my holiday haze this morning when I clicked the New York Times homepage and read that Benazir Bhutto, leader of the Pakistan People's Party and a vehement opponent of the country's terrorist groups, had been assassinated.

In the two months since her return to Pakistan following self-imposed exile in London, Bhutto's story had become a daily soap opera. From the beginning -- and when I say beginning I'm just referring to October -- the guillotine was hanging over Bhutto's head. The throngs of supporters, the house arrest, the bloody climax of all her political rallies -- and of course, the light she cast on Prime Minister Pervez Musharaf's somnambulant government -- all of these were elements in a riveting saga that could not have possibly ended in any other way.

And that's because the War on Terror, a term that for the time being has been replaced by new buzz words such as Iowa and mormon, is taking on new form. It's not contained to the Middle East -- there are disgruntled and mislead people all around the Muslim world, which is far bigger than most Americans really know. And many governments in this vast swath of countries, aren't the least bit concerned about the increasing influence of terrorist groups like Al Qaeda in their home turf.

Benazir Bhutto, scandalous-past-and-all, stood up for something different. In my eyes, she is very much the product of a privileged upbringing in the developing world. Well-educated, worldly but sensitive to the (backwards?) traditions of her homeland -- an arranged marriage, the headress -- and determined to impose progress where necessary. Progress, for the last years of her life, meant erradicating fundamentalist Islam from Pakistan, a country that teters between the line of friend and foe to the U.S.

Bhutto's death, just like her life's work, could tip the balance.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

NRA: Watch Out for Grizzlies, not Sociopaths

It's the grizzlies, stupid. Stop worrying about second-ammendment-empowered-sociopaths and focus on the rising grizzly bear population.

So says the National Rifle Association on their web site.

Any mention of yesterday's killing spree in Omaha? You know, the killing of 9 Americans, patriots (?)just weeks before Christmas, the holiday that the Jews and other demagogue Americans have declared war on? No. It's all about the grizzlies. And the deer. And soon enough chinchillas and black people will be an unstoppable foe so we best stock up on Smith & Wessons now.

I hate the NRA.

The gun lobby hovers just above the child prostitution industry in my book. Tell me, of all the problems to be tackled in the world, how does securing access to guns manage to rank at all? Hunger, AIDS, cancer, providing people weapons to kill each other? Yes, these all seem like worthwhile causes.

Of course, the red-blooded Americans at the NRA will tell you that were it not for guns we'd still be courtseying to the Queen of England. They'll tell you that soon enough some rogue illegal immigrant is going to brave the scorching desert to climb into your suburban home to rape and kill your family.

They won't tell you that the most violent crimes of 2007 were committed by Americans with legally purchased weapons.

If the second ammendment exists in defense of America's sovereignty, how many guns were used to stop the terrorists on 9-11?


Don't Touch.

Leave the Area.

Tell an Adult.

That's what the NRA is going to tell you. Well, your kids anyway. Thanks to the Eddie Eagle Program, a PR-101 tactic designed to placate concerns that guns kill children. It's OK for the gun lobby to enter our schools and teach children in pre-school through third grade about gun safety, but hell's bells you best NOT tell teenagers that a penis and vagina and Stoli do an unwanted baby make and guess what? You can avoid that, the clap, the drip, and the HIV if you use a condom. Because once you say that you're demoralizing the youth of America.

Come to think of it, the Eddie Eagle Program does sound an awful lot like an abstinence program. Kids, if you see a penis or vagina...

So, don't expect the hyper-funded NRA to address the war on Christmas, hunger, AIDS, or your fears that any derranged teenager can legally buy a gun and shoot up the mall. Expect them to infiltrate our taxpayer-funded schools with their feel-good propaganda. Heaven forbid children should be taught tolerance, or even how to paint or play an instrument. As long as we can pay for them to be spokespeople for a governemnt-funded terrorist organization, all is right with the world.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Close Call in Venezuela

Yes, there is reason to celebrate in Venezuela. But not much. While Hugo Chavez' plan to steer the country into indefinite socialism has gone awry, the margin of victory was very small. And that means that the craftiness with which Chavez and his minions usurped power in the first place will be put to use yet again and soon democracy will, again, be put in jeopardy.

Right now Venezuela finds itself on a very dangerous precipice -- while not everyone is rolling in the cash flow of the country's oil industry, there is an entitlement in the air that makes even the most destitute feel as if they lay claim to the power Chavez pretends to lord over the industrialized world, chiefly the U.S.

The same thing is happening in Iran. In Sudan. In Pakistan. You get these crackpot dictators who "stand up" to the U.S. and Great Britain who, because they mouth off at the U.N. in their own language, are exonerated from having to feed, house and educate their people. And they inspire the freedom a citizenry feels to kill hundreds of civilians in Pakistan because they don't agree with Benazir Bhutto or the massive waste of time and energy spent into killing a school teacher over a teddy bear.

Distractions and hyperbole. It's the stuff of politics and the arsenal of dictators. You better believe Chavez is reloading in his headquarters and planning a bigger assault on democracy - only this time it's going global.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Is Barack's Victory For All of Us?


Regardless of your opinions about Barack Obama, you have to read Frank Rich's column in today's NY Times. In short, Hillary hasn't won anything yet and both she and the Republicans better start thinking about Plan B should Barack take Iowa. And that's not a long shot, just read Monday's Wall Street Journal.

Of course, this is very exciting. And as a person of color, I can't help but think what it will mean for this country's "blacks and browns" -- a term I learned recently -- to have one of their own rise to our nation's highest office.

But for all the gains made by people of color in this country, our communities still have a lot of progress to make. Unemployment, high-school drop out rates, incarceration, disease and unwanted pregnancy plague this segment of the population more than the white community.

So what will a black POTUS do to address that?

Have years of affirmative action and the visibility of other empowered brown figures -- Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton, Oprah, Jay-Z, Russell Simmons -- really shown our communities that there is another way of life to aspire to, that there is more to be given for and demanded from this country?

I'd say the answer is no. I'd say that sadly, these are unique examples from an otherwise disenfranchised people that are happy for the success of others and are content to eke out a living that affords them some of the material trappings of success. A black President is as distant a figure as the janitor who won the lottery. Yay, so long as it's one of us.

And that's the fine line the Obama campaign has to tread. On the one hand they have to talk about an America for everyone -- I call it the celluloid version of our country -- and then they have to talk to the other Americans, those who can't even afford to see the celluloid version of this country and who wouldn't recognize it anyway. They have to tell these other Americans that they have been dealt a raw deal, that they are still being oppressed, held back. They have to acknowledge that theirs is a legitimate (but surmountable?) plight.

An "everyone's welcome" dialogue now has to go the "you versus them" route.

How do you "ignore" party lines when racial lines never went away and are soon to be the new fissure that divides Americans, yet again, once this Conservative/Liberal nonsense goes away.

Let's focus on a "gray" America before we start talking about a purple reign.

A black President won't bring all blacks and browns into a privileged class. We're not all moving into the White House, we'll still have jobs to go to and bills to pay. But it should be the final reminder to all of us that we're not slaves anymore. We cannot settle for less. In terms of education, in terms of housing, in terms of our personal choices.

Even if Barack doesn't win, the onus is on all of us who are applauding him because we see in him the realization of a dream we all harbored at one point, to revitalize our communities with this same pioneer spirit that doesn't see color and obstacles, but opportunity, opportunity, opportunity.