Saturday, March 22, 2008

Easter Eve Thoughts

I am visiting my mom in Charlottesville and have had a pleasant day hanging out with my mother and strolling around the University of Virginia grounds and the downtown mall. It was a gorgeous day and it was nice to be back at "The University" as the Wahoos/Cavaliers call it. For a city of approximately 45,000, Charlottesville is very progressive and the blend of history and modernity is amazing. Looking out my mom's living room window, I can see Montcello off in the near distance. All and all, it has been an exquisite day.
I hope each of my Christian readers have a wonderful Easter. I will try to post tommow, otherwise I will be back as usual on Monday.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Final Friday Male Beauty

Figure Skating Rivalry

As regular readers know, I enjoy figure skating – the roommates and I switched channels from watching the Super Bowl to the men’s European figure skating championships. The skaters were so HOT!! I have spent many an hour at ice rinks when my oldest daughter skated competitively at venues ranging from the University of Delaware figure skating complex to an invitational event in the tiny town of Spruce Pine, North Carolina (where we went to one of the mineral/mine outlet tourist stops and my former wife found a 1.2 carat emerald in some mine tailings – now referred to as the “Spruce Pine Emerald” and set in a ring for my daughter). Thus, I found this New York Times article on the competition between Johnny Weir and the much butcher Evan Lysacek. Having seen first hand how subjective and down right bitchy the United States Figure Skating Association (“USFSA”) judges can be, often who is the better skater matters less than who is the “favorite” and who conforms to the judges’ whims. Such being the case, it’s amazing that Weir and Lysacek tied for the U.S. Title with 244.77 points apiece, before the title went to Lysacek on a tie breaker. Personally, I will be rooting for Johnny. Here are some story highlights:

Evan Lysacek and Johnny Weir share nothing — except their status as the top two figure skaters in the United States. The closest they ever hope to be is on a medal podium. Lysacek, who fashions himself a hard-core athlete, has won the last two United States national titles. Weir, an athlete into hard-core fashion, won the previous three. Lysacek favors skating’s jumps and stunts and can do without all the pomp, while Weir is one of the most hypnotically graceful male skaters.

Lysacek and Weir were set to face off again this weekend at the annual world championships in Goteborg, Sweden, but Lysacek had to withdraw after injuring his arm in a fall last week. They remain on a collision course for the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver — accompanied by growing gaggles of fans who believe that loving one means hating the other, giving figure skating a rivalry of uncommon passion and depth.

In the normally placid enclave of figure skating, supporting either Evan Lysacek the Athlete or Johnny Weir the Artist has become a virtual referendum on matters from skating style and personal style to sexuality itself.

Weir’s outfits often sparkle like disco balls; in his short program he pretends to be a seagull. His total package has not only led to assumptions that he is gay — something not as taboo in figure skating as in other sports — but a controversy over his not being the right type of gay. During a figure skating broadcast last year, the announcer Mark Lund, who is openly gay, said, “I don’t think he’s representative of the community I want to be a part of,” and, “I don’t need to see a prima ballerina on the ice,” before praising Lysacek’s masculinity.

Weir, 23, declined to end the speculation in an interview at the facility where he trains in Wayne, N.J. As far as he is concerned, masculinity sometimes arrives in fur. “There are some things I keep sacred,” Weir said. “My middle name. Who I sleep with. And what kind of hand moisturizer I use.”

Getting more serious, Weir continued: “If I was out to please 10-year-old girls and their 45-year-old mothers in Boise, Idaho, I could play the game and be nice and make my voice deeper. But I don’t see the point. I’m not alive for 10-year-old girls and their 45-year-old mothers in Boise, Idaho — or Colorado Springs, Colo.” Weir was referring to the United States Figure Skating Association, which is based in Colorado Springs. He has claimed the federation has promoted Lysacek over him as a subtle form of punishment for his behavior.

More Friday Male Beauty

Gay Relationships

For those of you who have not checked it out, GAYTWOGETHER has some great thought provoking articles on any number of issues, but particularly on topics dealing with gay relationalship issues. The author of the blog has some great insights and has certainly given me things to think about both via his blog and in our e-mail exchanges. Today, he has two posts that merit reading that cover aspects of intimate relationships. This one is particularly usefull ( Here are a few highlights:
Healthy intimate relationships, whether dating someone rather casually or being committed to a life partner, call for a bit of a balancing act. Intimacy requires an ability to act selflessly sometimes -- to put the other guy’s interests on a par with our own. At the same time, if we don’t get our own needs met, we are going to experience this relationship as pretty damn unfulfilling. We want to maintain our individualism, but also to open our hearts in a way that allows us to grow closer.

Healthy relationships require taking responsibility for our own selves, while allowing the other person to keep responsibility for himself. How to do this? Start by deciding that you are going to let go of the “v word:” victim. You are responsible for the choices you make.
Understand that there is a place for anger in relationships. Stuff happens. Learning to express angry feelings in the moment -- and in a way which doesn’t attack the other person -- keeps those angry feelings from festering into bitterness and hostility. Learn that anger doesn’t mean a relationship is over. Take responsibility for your feelings: “I feel angry when you do this because...” Don’t attack the other person.
Intimacy almost always challenges us and requires us to learn new skills. It’s not unusual to feel overwhelmed sometimes. Remember: with patience and persistence and a willingness to face the truth, you can get what you want.

Rita Mae Brown

Time Magazine has an interview with Rita Mae Brown which is worth a read. I have enjoyed a number of her books – including High Hearts which is set during the Civil War with much of the action taking place within a 70 to 80 mile radius of Charlottesville- and also books involving fox hunting since my brother and his wife are part of that set in Charlottesville. Moreover, one of my brother’s sisters-in-law had an affair with Rita Mae some years back (my brother and his wife are “in society” ( - see Vienna Waltz and so it caused a bit of a scandal. Unfortunately, my brother finds having an openly gay brother an embarrassment and avoids me while my sister-in-law is wonderful). But I digress. Overall, I have always enjoyed Rita Mae’s spirit and sense of being her own person. Here are a few highlights:

Tell me about your experience in the early days of NOW (the National Organization for Women). Did you resign in protest?
Hell no. They threw me out. Here I am, a southern country girl, so I was easy to write off as a stupid kid. I still had my accent — I have it when I go home, but I hadn't learned how to disguise it. I raised the issue of class differences between women and racial differences. At this point this was really quite an important band of women in America, but not necessarily representative of all women's concerns. Then, of course, I raised the issue of gay women. That was all it took. [Betty Friedan] got rid of me in a hurry.

You didn't go quietly at the time though, did you?
Hell no. I fought. I wrote in the newsletter and I fought. It didn't do any good because everybody was scared sh--less of her. But I'll give Betty credit. I don't know if you ever met her. Bombastic, rude, self-centered. Brilliant. And you know what? Fundamentally a moral person and about 20 years later she apologized to me in public. It took a lot. She said, I was wrong.

Do you feel as though things have changed a lot for lesbians and for gays?
Yes, I think so. I think you can judge the level of success for any group of people by the reaction against it. And given the reaction of the so-called Christian Right — I would put that in quotes because I don't believe they're Christians at all — I would have to say that people have been wildly successful.

Friday Male Beauty

Hillary's Nasty Pastorate

I find some amusement in the fact that Hillary Clinton’s campaign started the race baiting which in turn lead to the controversy over Rev. Jeremiah Wright – with whom Bill and Hillary Clinton also have ties as reported by AmericaBlog ( – and now onto some of Hillary’s unsavory but not widely known Christianist ties. The moral is that when you start flinging mud, you best be careful because it may come back to hit you in the face. In respect to this later aspect, the Huffington Post has an article ( about Hillary’s involvement in “The Family,” which involves some very far right characters and which is not at all in keeping with her allegedly progressive religious views. Here are some story highlights:

There's a reason why Hillary Clinton has remained relatively silent during the flap over intemperate remarks by Barack Obama's former pastor, Jeremiah Wright. When it comes to unsavory religious affiliations, she's a lot more vulnerable than Obama.

You can find all about it in a widely under-read article in the September 2007 issue of Mother Jones, in which Kathryn Joyce and Jeff Sharlet reported that "through all of her years in Washington, Clinton has been an active participant in conservative Bible study and prayer circles that are part of a secretive Capitol Hill group known as the "Fellowship," aka The Family. But it won't be a secret much longer. Jeff Sharlet's shocking exposé, The Family: The Secret Fundamentalism at the Heart of American Power will be published in May.

The Family's most visible activity is its blandly innocuous National Prayer Breakfast, held every February in Washington. But almost all its real work goes on behind the scenes -- knitting together international networks of rightwing leaders, most of them ostensibly Christian. In the 1940s, The Family reached out to former and not-so-former Nazis, and its fascination with that exemplary leader, Adolph Hitler, has continued, along with ties to a whole bestiary of murderous thugs.

At the heart of the Family's American branch is a collection of powerful rightwing politicos, who include, or have included, Sam Brownback, Ed Meese, John Ashcroft, James Inhofe, and Rick Santorum. They get to use the Family's spacious estate on the Potomac, the Cedars, which is maintained by young men in Family group homes and where meals are served by the Family's young women's group. And, at the Family's frequent prayer gatherings, they get powerful jolts of spiritual refreshment, tailored to the already-powerful.

Clinton fell in with the Family in 1993, when she joined a Bible study group composed of wives of conservative leaders like Jack Kemp and James Baker. When she ascended to the senate, she was promoted to what Sharlet calls the Family's "most elite cell," the weekly Senate Prayer Breakfast, which included, until his downfall, Virginia's notoriously racist Senator George Allen. This has not been a casual connection for Clinton. She has written of Doug Coe, the Family's publicity-averse leader, that he is "a unique presence in Washington: a genuinely loving spiritual mentor and guide to anyone, regardless of party or faith, who wants to deepen his or her relationship with God."

Sharlet generously attributes Clinton's involvement to the underappreciated depth of her religiosity, but he himself struggles to define the Family's theological underpinnings. The Family avoids the word Christian but worship Jesus, though not the Jesus who promised the earth to the "meek." They believe that, in mass societies, it's only the elites who matter, the political leaders who can build God's "dominion" on earth. Insofar as the Family has a consistent philosophy, it's all about power -- cultivating it, building it, and networking it together into ever-stronger units, or "cells." "We work with power where we can," Doug Coe has said, and "build new power where we can't."

Obama has given a beautiful speech on race and his affiliation with the Trinity Unity Church of Christ. Now it's up to Clinton to explain -- or, better yet, renounce -- her longstanding connection with the fascist-leaning Family.

Good Friday Thoughts

I have not been in an overly religious mode this Lent, although my church attendance has been more consistent. No doubt this is in part because the Lutheran Church is less obsessed with fasting, no meat on Fridays, etc., than the Catholic Church which likes to exercise power and control over its lay members. I will be visiting my mother for Easter – the roommates will baby sit the dog who HATES riding in the car – and am debating on whether or not I will submit myself to the torment of going to Catholic mass with my mother and my sister and her family. There is a gay affirming ELCA parish – St. Mark’s Lutheran - a few blocks from the Catholic parish my mother attends which has a service at the same time. Specifically, St. Mark's specifically affirms:

That gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgendered persons are beloved children of God

That gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgendered persons, partners, and families are welcome to share in the full fellowship we all enjoy as brothers and sisters in Christ.

That gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgendered persons, partners, and families are welcome to participate in all aspects of the life and ministry of St. Mark Lutheran Church as members of the congregation.

This obviously is quite different from the Roman Catholic Church's view of gays. Therefore, I may attend the ELCA service and then reconvene with the rest of the family afterwards. I simply find that when I am in a Catholic church, I have a very hard time overlooking the corruption and hypocrisy of the Church hierarchy. As a result, I have anything but Christian thoughts in my mind. Especially when I think about the way the Church continues to denigrate and describe gays as inherently disordered, thus fucking up countless young gays.

Other than not wanting to attend Catholic Church, the trip up should be fun. Easter dinner will be a relatively small affair at my sister’s house with her family and my mother and me. My oldest kids will spend the day with their mother and my youngest plans to remain at college, so I will see her Sunday evening on the way back to Norfolk. I talked to her today and she is excited about me seeing the house she and a group of friends will be leasing next year near the VCU campus. Since the university is only a few blocks off the Interstate, it is extremely convenient stopping off to see her.

My roommates are planning on going to church at my usual parish. Bother are Catholic but ceased attending Catholic church for reasons much like my own. Like many gays, they have simply not been going to church in light of the unwelcoming and condemning atmosphere of so many “Christian” denominations.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Thursday Male Beauty

Reflections on Race in America

Listening to the talking heads go on and on about Barack Obama and the “Rev. Wright problem,” has had me thinking. Obviously, as someone white I will never fully know what it is like to be a black American. However, having bought a run down house that needed significant rehab work and personally moved into what was until recently – and still is perceived by many to be - a majority black neighborhood, I have experienced a small sense of what many blacks likely experience in terms of less than full and proper treatment.

One example is the difference in police presence and protection. In the Ghent area where my office is located, there is a much higher police presence and a much greater effort is made to keep the affluent majority white residents VERY happy. Across the railroad tracks, it is a different world and only after I sent repeated e-mail blasts to all of members of city council, the city manager and made repeated threats to show up at televised public sessions of city council has the police presence markedly improved and vandalism and other issues been reduced by a huge margin. I even have had high level officers come by my office to make sure I was happy with the improved situation. The reality is, however, that but for me being a white attorney with some level of connectedness, things probably would not have changed. Think of the anger on the part of hard working black homeowners with nice homes that it took some whites moving into the neighborhood and raising Hell to get them the level of police protection that they deserved as tax-paying citizens.

Another example occurred when one night around 9:30 PM while my former b/f and I were doing rehab work on the house prior to moving in, we called Pappa John’s Pizza for a delivery order only to be told that they did not deliver to that neighborhood after 4:00PM due to the “demographics.” A nice euphemism for “black neighborhood.” Meanwhile, their delivery vehicles would drive directly through the neighborhood to deliver to white neighborhoods on the other side of my neighborhood. My ex, not being one to take perceived slights quietly, got on the phone the next day and called the corporate headquarters for Pappa John’s as well as Coca-Cola’s corporate headquarters (Coca-Cola supplies all of the beverages to Pappa John’s) and asked both if they would like us to try to get local TV coverage of the ongoing discrimination. Not only did deliveries begin to be made to our neighborhood, but we also received coupons for 12 free pizzas, delivered to us personally by the racially bigoted local manager who had been so nasty to us over the phone.

Are comments like Rev. Wrights justified? Certainly not. Can I understand the anger that some blacks feel? Definitely, after having had a peripheral taste of the discrimination they experience regularly. Sadly, Hillary and the elements of the Right could care less about such experiences and would never stop to think about the underlying causes for statements like Wright's. All they see is a chance for political knee capping of a strong political opponent. It makes me sick to my stomach.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

More Wednesday Male Beauty

Sex Crimes, the Vatican and Benedict XVI

This afternoon, another reader forwarded to me another link to a story ( that pre-dates this blog but which once again highlights the fact that the uppermost levels of the hierarchy of the Catholic Church - including Cardinal Ratzinger, now Benedict XVI - knew full well of the sexual abuse problems taking place within the worldwide Church and reacted by adopting a formal policy that sought to insure that cases of abuse were hushed up and that threatened victims and their families with excommunication if they failed to remain silent. Who was one of the enforcers of this policy? Who could punish all of the cardinals and bishops who had complicity? Benedict XVI, of course. Has he done so? No, and I beleive never will since he is just as guilty as the rest of them. Thus, the fawning and pandering that this false man of God will receive during his visit to the USA and which will be showcased on the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops's blog becomes all the more despicable. Here are some story highlights:

Crimen Sollicitationis (described further here: was enforced for 20 years by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger before he became the Pope. It instructs bishops on how to deal with allegations of child abuse against priests and has been seen by few outsiders. Critics say the document has been used to evade prosecution for sex crimes.

Crimen Sollicitationis was written in 1962 in Latin and given to Catholic bishops worldwide who are ordered to keep it locked away in the church safe. It instructs them how to deal with priests who solicit sex from the confessional. It also deals with "any obscene external act ... with youths of either sex." It imposes an oath of secrecy on the child victim, the priest dealing with the allegation and any witnesses. Breaking that oath means excommunication from the Catholic Church. Reporting for Panorama, Colm O'Gorman finds seven priests with child abuse allegations made against them living in and around the Vatican City.

Colm started an investigation with the BBC in March 2002 which led to the resignation of Dr Brendan Comiskey, the bishop leading the Ferns Diocese. Colm then pushed for a government inquiry which led to the Ferns Report. It was published in October 2005 and found: "A culture of secrecy and fear of scandal that led bishops to place the interests of the Catholic Church ahead of the safety of children."

Nowhere in any of these documents does it say anything about helping the victims. The only thing it does is say that they can impose fear on the victims and punish the victims for discussing or disclosing what happened to them. It's all controlled by the Vatican and at the top of the Vatican is the Pope so Joseph Ratzinger was in the middle of this for most of the years that Crimens was enforced he created the successor to Crimen and now he is the Pope this all says that the policy and systematic approach has not changed.

Rather than being greeted with pomp and ceremony, it would seem more approriate if Benedict XVI was greeted with a criminal indictment for his role in the coverups and obstruction of justice. The man utterly disgusts me.

Lasting Same Sex Relationships

I have been pondering the situation of one of my best blogger friends has been going through some rough times in his relationship with his partner. From what my friend relates, part of the difficulty may be due to communication issues and to the extent that is the case, I hope they make some progress and can share their thoughts and feelings fully. I believe that they are both extremely good hearted individuals and that they do truly love each other. However, from my own personal experience, I believe that sometimes true love for one another is not enough if one (or both) of the individuals in the relationship has emotional and/or psychological issues that they either cannot or will not address and control. The stable partner cannot be responsible for holding what amounts to a dysfunctional relationship together. At some point he/she for their own sanity and well being may find that he/she simply cannot remain in the relationship regardless of the depth of his/her concern and love for their partner. This is even more the case if the relationship involves abusive behavior. Should that turn out to be the case, I hope my friend will recognize the situation and find a way to move on if such need be the case.

The other issue I have been thinking about a great deal is what makes for partners who are compatible for a lasting, committed relationship. I know that I truly want such a relationship even though I despair at times in finding “Mr. Right,” particularly in the Norfolk area’s heavily semi-closeted gay community. The “good ones” seem to be already taken and those who are not – especially in the over 40 category – seem to be single for good reason. I am not looking for someone else’s bad reject. I admit some readers have also taken me to task for not wanting to become involved with someone who is not totally out. I fully appreciate that each person needs to come out fully on their own terms and time frame. Still, that does not mean that I have to want to climb back into a closet or have to constantly worry who might see us together, etc. My feeling is that I have gone through enough Hell to get to where I am emotionally and in terms of self-acceptance that I do not need to take steps backwards.

The other issue I have is one of attraction. First, I want a relationship where there is the capability for my partner and me to have intelligent, intellectual conversation. Second, I seem to have a number of guys who are attracted to me, many of whom seem like very nice guys, yet physically they hold no attraction to me. Some are considerably younger – an issue in and of itself in terms of whether or not they have emotional maturity – while others are what some of my friends tell me are “age appropriate” for me. I can love them as friends, but if the chemistry is not there, it is not there. You cannot start a fire without a spark. Conversely, those I do find attractive all seem to be either (1) already in stable long term relationships or (2) don’t seem to know I am alive. Anyone’s thoughts or suggestions are welcome.

Wednesday Male Beauty

Hillary Clinton At Home at Time of Lewinsky Affair

At long last Hillary Clinton's daily schedules from her days as First Lady have been released and they will no doubt (1) shed light on the veracity - or more likely the lack thereof - of some her claims to have been involved in significant foreign policy matters, and (2) remind people of the seamier aspects of the Clinton White House. Personally, I suspect that the releases will not help her campaign, although they will make Rush Limbaugh and others of that ilk salivate at the thought of her as the Democrat nominee. On reason I suspect that the far right is trying to savage Obama with the cherry picked clips of Rev. Wright is that they NEED Hillary to be the Democrat nominee. I would also ask, do we really want Bill Clinton anywhere near the White House again? I don't!! Here is an example of what the Virginian Pilot is running today and it serves to show how degenerate Bill Clinton really is (
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Hillary Rodham Clinton was home in the White House on a half dozen days when her husband had sexual encounters there with intern Monica Lewinsky, according to Sen. Clinton's schedule, released Wednesday among 11,000 pages of papers from her years as first lady.

The words of the schedules are dry, but they take on emotional weight when coupled with revelations about the sex scandal that eventually came to light. A year later, the first lady's schedules show her pressing ahead with public events and showing her face as revelations about the scandal upended her life and threatened Bill Clinton's presidency.
[O]n Nov. 15, 1995, the first lady went to a mid-afternoon "meet & greet" photo opportunity at the White House with Nobel Laureates and their families. That night, Lewinsky had what she later said was her first sexual encounter with the president, in the private study off the Oval office. On Jan. 21, 1996, the first lady and the president privately toured an exhibit at the National Gallery of Art. That afternoon, Lewinsky said, she and Bill Clinton had a sexual encounter in the hallway by the private study. The schedules indicate she was home on at least two other days when her husband and the intern got together.

Gay Surfers

Over the past weekend a friend of mine saw the new gay movie, Shelter (, about two surfers who fall in love. He said it was well done and worth seeing. Unfortunately, I do not see that Norfolk is on the list of locations where it is schedlude to play - yes, such a shocker, NOT - but perhaps the Naro Theater will be able to show it (the Naro is where "For the Bible Tells Me So," "Latter Days," and other such movies have played locally). Cute guys and surfing - what more can you ask for? This is a summary of the plot:
The movie is set in San Pedro and follows two guys who fall for each other while doing what they love most: surfing. The younger guy is a frustrated artist named Zach - sensationally played by Trevor Wright - who is still struggling with his sexuality but begins to come out when he falls in love with his best friend's older brother Shaun, played by Brad Row of "Billy's Hollywood Screen Test" fame.The two actors play the emotional scenes so well and they got for it in the love scenes as well. Clothes are shed, kisses are shared and they try and weather the rocky road ahead.

Update - Catholic Bishops Fluff Piece Blog for Papal Visit to USA

I checked the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops' blog on the papal visit this morning to see if my comment had been published. Not surprisingly, it has not and I suspect that it will never be published. I will continue to visit the blog from time to time and fully expect to only see servile and pandering comments that never take a serious look at the Roman Catholic Church's cancerous problems. In respose to my post, however, I did receive an interesting e-mail from a reader who is quite the European history buff and with whom I have had many exchanges on history. His message included some references to more dirty laundry the Church hierarcy pretends does not exist. In my opinion, in many ways, the Roman Catholic Church has to be one of the most corrupt and hypocritical institutions in the world. Here are my reader's comments:
Interesting comments on the Pope and the Catholic religion. It reminded me of an article I read a while ago in Le Nouvel Observateur, a French magazine from Paris, kind the French equivalent of Time, but that's a very rough comparison (maybe you know the mag?). Anyway, the comment about the church not doing any house-cleaning at the higher levels brought to mind the fact that after WW II, the church didn't do much house-cleaning or atonement for siding with the Nazis, and apparently, right up in to the 1970s, some catholic churches were used to hide clergy who should have been brought to trial for war crimes, but were protected instead by Catholic hierarchy.
I haven't looked, but there might be articles on the Net about this now. The Catholic Church has never taken responsibility for any of the crimes it's committed throughout the ages - no wonder some radical Muslims think that they're just getting back at what the West has perpetrated against them "in the name of Christ..." If there's no atonement for war crimes among the clergy, why should there be atonement for any other kind of abuse? They've always gotten away with it, and people's memories are just too short for the Church to be brought down. Maybe a better way to look at it is that if people don't seek justice, there won't be any. "The opium of the people" is still legal trade in many communities in the world. And not just among Catholics. Sad...
One story that looks at a rare instance of an apology by portions of the Catholic hierarchy can be found here. Sadly, as my reader points out, it is the exception to the rule:

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Tuesday Male Beauty

Obama Urges Americans to Help Heal Racial Divide

In the wake of controversial statements by his pastor and race baitng by Hillary Clinton's campaign, Barack Obama gave a lengthy speech today addressing his pastor's perhaps ill advised remarks, the issue of race in this country, and the politics of division which have been the hallmark of both the GOP's tactics over the last eight years as well as the hallmark of the Clinton campaign. Personally, I am sick to death of politics that deliberately pits rich versus poor - a former GOP colleague forward me an e-mail tody that shows how the McCain campaign is already going down this road - black versus white, immigrant versus long time residents, gay versus Christianists, and so on.

Based on Barack Obama's speech which can be found in full here ( and his past statements I continue to believe that he is the best hope of moving beyond this posionous form of politics and actually moving the country forward for the betterment of all. Otherwise we will face a warmed over version of the Bush regime with McCain or the horrible partisan politics that marked Bill Clinton's tenure in the White House. Worse yet, the serious things that must be done to turn the nation around will not get accomplished. Here are a few highlights from the speech:

Of course, the answer to the slavery question was already embedded within our Constitution -- a Constitution that had at its very core the ideal of equal citizenship under the law; a Constitution that promised its people liberty, and justice, and a union that could be and should be perfected over time. And yet words on a parchment would not be enough to deliver slaves from bondage, or provide men and women of every color and creed their full rights and obligations as citizens of the United States.

What would be needed were Americans in successive generations who were willing to do their part -- through protests and struggle, on the streets and in the courts, through a civil war and civil disobedience and always at great risk -- to narrow that gap between the promise of our ideals and the reality of their time. This was one of the tasks we set forth at the beginning of this campaign -- to continue the long march of those who came before us, a march for a more just, more equal, more free, more caring and more prosperous America.

I am the son of a black man from Kenya and a white woman from Kansas. I was raised with the help of a white grandfather who survived a Depression to serve in Patton's Army during World War II and a white grandmother who worked on a bomber assembly line at Fort Leavenworth while he was overseas. I've gone to some of the best schools in America and lived in one of the world's poorest nations. I am married to a black American who carries within her the blood of slaves and slaveowners -- an inheritance we pass on to our two precious daughters.

I have brothers, sisters, nieces, nephews, uncles and cousins, of every race and every hue, scattered across three continents, and for as long as I live, I will never forget that in no other country on Earth is my story even possible. It's a story that hasn't made me the most conventional candidate. But it is a story that has seared into my genetic makeup the idea that this nation is more than the sum of its parts -- that out of many, we are truly one.

And yet, it has only been in the last couple of weeks that the discussion of race in this campaign has taken a particularly divisive turn. On one end of the spectrum, we've heard the implication that my candidacy is somehow an exercise in affirmative action, that it's based solely on the desire of wide-eyed liberals to purchase racial reconciliation on the cheap.

On the other end, we've heard my former pastor, Rev. Jeremiah Wright, use incendiary language to express views that have the potential not only to widen the racial divide, but views that denigrate both the greatness and the goodness of our nation -- that rightly offend white and black alike. I have already condemned, in unequivocal terms, the statements of Rev. Wright that have caused such controversy.

We can dismiss Rev. Wright as a crank or a demagogue, just as some have dismissed Geraldine Ferraro, in the aftermath of her recent statements, as harboring some deep-seated racial bias. But race is an issue that I believe this nation cannot afford to ignore right now. We would be making the same mistake that Rev. Wright made in his offending sermons about America -- to simplify and stereotype and amplify the negative to the point that it distorts reality.

The fact is that the comments that have been made and the issues that have surfaced over the last few weeks reflect the complexities of race in this country that we've never really worked through -- a part of our union that we have yet to perfect. And if we walk away now, if we simply retreat into our respective corners, we will never be able to come together and solve challenges like health care, or education, or the need to find good jobs for every American.

Anger over welfare and affirmative action helped forge the Reagan Coalition. Politicians routinely exploited fears of crime for their own electoral ends. Talk show hosts and conservative commentators built entire careers unmasking bogus claims of racism while dismissing legitimate discussions of racial injustice and inequality as mere political correctness or reverse racism. Just as black anger often proved counterproductive, so have these white resentments distracted attention from the real culprits of the middle-class squeeze -- a corporate culture rife with inside dealing, questionable accounting practices and short-term greed; a Washington dominated by lobbyists and special interests; economic policies that favor the few over the many.

This is where we are right now. It's a racial stalemate we've been stuck in for years. Contrary to the claims of some of my critics, black and white, I have never been so naive as to believe that we can get beyond our racial divisions in a single election cycle, or with a single candidacy -- particularly a candidacy as imperfect as my own. But I have asserted a firm conviction -- a conviction rooted in my faith in God and my faith in the American people -- that working together we can move beyond some of our old racial wounds, and that in fact we have no choice if we are to continue on the path of a more perfect union.

For the African-American community, that path means embracing the burdens of our past without becoming victims of our past. It means continuing to insist on a full measure of justice in every aspect of American life. But it also means binding our particular grievances -- for better health care, and better schools, and better jobs -- to the larger aspirations of all Americans, the white woman struggling to break the glass ceiling, the white man whose been laid off, the immigrant trying to feed his family.

In the white community, the path to a more perfect union means acknowledging that what ails the African-American community does not just exist in the minds of black people; that the legacy of discrimination -- and current incidents of discrimination, while less overt than in the past -- are real and must be addressed. Not just with words, but with deeds -- by investing in our schools and our communities; by enforcing our civil rights laws and ensuring fairness in our criminal justice system; by providing this generation with ladders of opportunity that were unavailable for previous generations.

It requires all Americans to realize that your dreams do not have to come at the expense of my dreams; that investing in the health, welfare and education of black and brown and white children will ultimately help all of America prosper.

Or, at this moment, in this election, we can come together and say, "Not this time." This time we want to talk about the crumbling schools that are stealing the future of black children and white children and Asian children and Hispanic children and Native American children. This time we want to reject the cynicism that tells us that these kids can't learn; that those kids who don't look like us are somebody else's problem. The children of America are not those kids, they are our kids, and we will not let them fall behind in a 21st Century economy. Not this time.

This time we want to talk about how the lines in the emergency room are filled with whites and blacks and Hispanics who do not have health care, who don't have the power on their own to overcome the special interests in Washington, but who can take them on if we do it together. This time we want to talk about the shuttered mills that once provided a decent life for men and women of every race, and the homes for sale that once belonged to Americans from every religion, every region, every walk of life.

This time we want to talk about the fact that the real problem is not that someone who doesn't look like you might take your job; it's that the corporation you work for will ship it overseas for nothing more than a profit. This time we want to talk about the men and women of every color and creed who serve together, and fight together, and bleed together under the same proud flag.

I would not be running for president if I didn't believe with all my heart that this is what the vast majority of Americans want for this country. This union may never be perfect, but generation after generation has shown that it can always be perfected. And today, whenever I find myself feeling doubtful or cynical about this possibility, what gives me the most hope is the next generation -- the young people whose attitudes and beliefs and openness to change have already made history in this election.

Catholic Bishops Fluff Piece Blog for Papal Visit to USA

In my wanders around various news articles on religion I found a blog set up by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops ( where readers are invited "to join in on the discussion of Pope Benedict XVI’s trip to the United States, April 15-20, 2008." A brief review of the posts to date revealed a large number of sappy fluff comments, all pandering to the Vatican and - to use blunt language - kissing Benedict XVI's ass. Comments are being moderated and I strongly suspect that only those that are suffieciently obsequious will be published on the blog. To test my theory, I submitted the following comment and I will report back on whether or not the Bishops want a true exchange of opinions or are instead merely using the blog as a propaganda vehicle:

I for one do not see Benedict XVI as a rock to uphold the Church. Rather, I view him as one who is trying to drag the Church backwards several centuries in its thinking and one who is clinging to old dogmas and refusing to face new medical and mental health knowledge and other advances in learning that must be accommodated if the Church is going to be accepted by an educated and literate laity. I believe it is no coincidence that the Church’s growth is most evident in ignorant and uneducated areas of the world while attendance lags in the more educated and enlightened western nations.

Worse yet, Benedict XVI has failed to undertake a full house cleaning of the Church hierarchy to dismiss bishops and cardinals who were complicit in the sexual abuse cover up. In short, he is a hypocritical fraud. Thus, having been raised Catholic, served as an altar boy for 10 years, attended daily mass faithfully for over a 9 year period during college and my 20’s, and become a 4th Degree Knight of Columbus, I voted with my feet as they say and am now a member of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America – a very Catholic service and beliefs system without the corruption and hypocrisy of the Catholic Church under Benedict XVI and his less than saintly predecessor. Hopefully, Americans will see Benedict XVI as the fraud and anachronism that he truly is.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Nazi Persecution of Gays Is Explored In Exhibit

Many of the Christianists like to allege that the Nazi persecution of gays is without a basis and some of the more lunatic elements even try to blame the Holocaust on gays. But then, accurate honest, accounts of history are NOT a Christianist strong suit. They rewrite history at will to further their theocratic/fascist agenda. Individuals like Oklahoma Rep. Sall Kern, James Dobsons and others who preach an anti-gay message are currently speaking about gays in dehumanizing terms just as their fascist predecessors did about Jews in the lead up to the Holocaust. Christians they are not. Thus, I found this story from the Boston Globe ( interesting because it looks at a museum exhibit that documents the actual, real truth. Here are some highlights:

In Nazi Germany, some gay men were castrated and prosecuted by the Gestapo under Draconian laws prohibiting homosexuality. Others were subjected to crude medical experiments purported to correct their sexual orientation. Gay men in concentration camps were singled out with distinctive pink triangle badges and assigned backbreaking labor that often killed them. A traveling exhibit from the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum uses photographs, documents, and artwork to chronicle the Nazis' arrests and persecution of tens of thousands of gay men from 1933 to 1945.

The exhibit, on display through the end of the month at the University of Rhode Island, gives voice to what its curator describes as "one of the lesser-known stories of the Nazi era." "You could substitute the word homosexual and put in any minority group and see a story of how easy it is to persecute somebody who is outside of the norms of the society," said curator Edward J. Phillips, also acting director of the museum's division of exhibitions.

The Nazis regarded gay men as a socially deviant subclass whose sexual preference threatened the elite and masculine Aryan race they sought to establish. A diagram included in the exhibit likens homosexuality to a contagious infection that could be spread among men by seduction. Sexual relationships between women, already regarded as second-class citizens, were not criminalized, and lesbians were generally seen as less of a cultural threat, Phillips said.

The exhibit begins just before the Nazis rose to power, when an estimated 1.2 million gay men lived in Germany and a gay culture flourished in nightclubs and cafes. But after Adolf Hitler took power, the Nazis began closing gay clubs, and in 1934 the Gestapo asked local police departments to compile lists of men believed to be gay.

In 1943, SS chief Heinrich Himmler approved a medical experiment designed to "correct" gay men of their sexual preferences. Two men died from complications of the surgery, the exhibit says. A highlight of the exhibit is a series of published lithographs by Richard Grune, a gay artist who was arrested and sent to a concentration camp. His works, with titles like "Death Slide to the Crematorium in Concentration Camp Flossenburg" and "Undernourished Prisoners in the Bath," offer unflinching depictions of prisoners as exhausted, skeletal, and tortured.

More Monday Male Beauty

Newest Arrivals Enliven Irish Catholicism

I have always been proud of my Irish ancestry – I am 3/8 Irish from my mother’s side of the family (plus 1/8 French), my dad being American born but of 100% Austrian ancestry, hence my Germanic last name. My major thesis in history at UVA was in fact focused on Irish politics and the political home rule movements of O’Connell and Parnell in the 1800’s.
As a former Catholic I followed the Catholic Church’s sexual abuse scandal closely and with disgust. I believe it is remarkable how rapidly the Catholic Church in Ireland has lost power and membership attendance in a little over a decade or two. Why? Because Ireland has been transformed and the increased education of the populace and the exposure of the Church’s corruption and the moral bankruptcy of the Church leadership from the Pope on down have taken a huge toll. This article from MSNBC ( is of interest because it shows that the only way the Church has been able to fill the emptying pews has been based on less educated immigrants from more backward and economically deprived nations. In my view, religious fundamentalism and a totalitarian Church leadership are mutually exclusive of an intelligent and educated populace. Hence, the Church’s decline in the West while experiencing a net growth only in backward areas of the globe. Here are some story highlights:

Ireland . . . is rapidly evolving from a land of emigration into one of immigration, where at least 1 in 10 people is foreign-born. This transformation — fueled by a decade-long economic boom and relatively liberal immigration laws — means Ireland has gone from Western Europe’s poorest and most homogeneous country to one of its wealthiest and most cosmopolitan in little more than a generation. For the first time in its history, Ireland, which sent hundreds of thousands of emigrants to the United States, Britain and elsewhere, is wooing large numbers of migrants.

In the 1980s, Ireland was barely able to retain its own. The unemployment rate was around 18 percent and thousands of young people were fleeing the country annually for Britain, the United States and elsewhere. The endless conflict in Northern Ireland along with divisive battles over social issues in the south combined to scare off the best and brightest. Between 1995 and 2000, the economy expanded at an astounding average of 9.5 percent per year; now it has eased to a still robust rate of 4-5 percent annual growth. The newest arrivals have helped boost Ireland’s population — now at around 4.2 million — to its highest level since 1861. It’s the fastest-growing country in Europe.

Less than two years ago, St. Audeon’s Catholic Church was dying. It offered one sparsely attended weekly Mass in Latin and was on the brink of closure. Now resurrected as the main home for Polish Catholicism in Ireland, the central Dublin church is one of the most dynamic in the country, providing 18 services a week, 11 of which are in Polish, and drawing up to 5,000 parishioners every Sunday.The fate of St. Audeon’s illustrates how this country’s recent immigrant wave, roughly half of which is composed of Catholics, is helping to re-energize Ireland’s Roman Catholic Church, an institution that had been in steep decline, caused in part by a series of sex scandals involving priests over the past two decades.

Though frequently suppressed during centuries of British rule, the Catholic Church gained a dominating role in society after independence in 1922, running virtually all of the elementary and secondary schools and infusing the state with its conservative ethos. When Pope John Paul II visited Ireland for three days in 1979, an estimated 2.5 million of the country’s 3.5 million flocked to hear him speak. But that visit turned out to be the high point for the Irish church. It was rapidly followed by horror stories of abuse of boys and women by members of the Irish clergy — revelations that accelerated a decline in Irish church-going. A 2006 survey by state broadcaster RTE found that 48 percent of Irish people attended Mass every week. That is still high by European standards, but far lower than the 81 percent who attended regularly in 1990.

Statistics published last month in The Irish Catholic newspaper revealed that 160 priests had died in the past year, chiefly due to old age, and only nine new priests were ordained. By way of comparison, 193 seminarians were ordained in Ireland in 1990. If current trends continue, the total number of Catholic priests in Ireland — now at around 4,750 — is projected to drop to about 1,500 by 2028, according to the newspaper. The shortage of priests is expected to be felt across Ireland, a country that once exported priests all over the world, especially to the United States. As if to underscore the crisis, a former Catholic priest, the Rev. Dermot Dunne, in February became dean of the Protestant Christ Church Cathedral in Dublin. While taking up his new position, Dunne symbolically kissed his wife on the front steps of the ornate cathedral.

Florida Democrats Drop Idea of Primary Redo

I suspect that Hillary Clinton – and the GOP – are disappointed that the Florida Democrat Party has decided not to have a redo of the earlier primary that was done in defiance of the national party rules ( The Florida party leadership knew what the rules were and basically told the national party to go fuck itself. Either the national party hangs tough and punishes the Florida and Michigan parties, or else they might as well throw the rules out the window entirely. If Florida and Michigan Democrats are upset, they have recourse: remove the state party leaders that felt they could ignore the rules. Yes, it’s a harsh remedy, but the state party leadership knowingly created the problem. As for Hillary’s whining and moaning, I suggest she adopt a new slogan: “It’s all About Me” or perhaps “It’s all About Billary, To Hell with Everyone Else.” Every poll I have seen shows Obama doing better against McCain than she does, so she needs to end the self-centered tantrum and allow the stronger candidate to wrap up the nomination. Here are highlights from MSNBC:

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - Facing strong opposition, Florida Democrats on Monday abandoned plans to hold a do-over presidential primary with a mail-in vote and threw the delegate dispute into the lap of the national party. While the decision by Florida Democrats left the state’s 210 delegates in limbo, Democrats in Michigan moved closer to holding another contest on June 3. Legislative leaders reviewed a measure Monday that would set up a privately funded, state-administered do-over primary, The Associated Press learned.

The national party punished Michigan and Florida for moving up their primaries before Feb. 5, stripping them of all their delegates to the party’s national convention this summer in Denver. All the Democratic candidates agreed not to campaign in the two states, and Obama was not even on the Michigan ballot.

Obama campaign spokesman Tommy Vietor said, “It’s pretty apparent that the Clinton campaign’s views on voting are dependent on their own political interest. Hillary Clinton herself said in January that the Michigan primary ‘didn’t count for anything.’ Now, she is cynically trying to change the rules at the eleventh hour for her own benefit. We received a very complex proposal for Michigan re-vote legislation today and are reviewing it to make sure that any solution for Michigan is fair and practical. We continue to believe a fair seating of the delegation deserves strong consideration.”

Monday Male Beauty

Divorce Wars - But Thankfully Not Mine

For long time readers, it’s no secret that my divorce from my ex-wife was protracted and far less than amicable. In fact, it was so nasty that at one point after a particularly brutal all day hearing complete with vicious gay bashing by opposing counsel, I took a full bottle of xanax, prompting a visit to the ERA, etc. But, compared to the McGreevey-Matos divorce, mine more and more looks like an absolute walk in the park.
The latest news from both the New Jersey Star Ledger ( and ( is that former aide (pictured above) to James E. McGreevey said yesterday that he had three-way sexual trysts on a regular basis with McGreevey and his wife before they occupied the governor's mansion, challenging Dina Matos McGreevey's assertion that she was naive about her husband's sexual exploits. It increasingly sounds that McGreevey’s former wife may not necessarily be the innocent victim she wants to appear to be in the couple’s custody dispute over their daughter. However, that by no means indicates that I condone McGreeveys apparent constant cheating on his wife (I think he is VERY sleazy). Now it looks like both of them were into kinky stuff. Sadly, as long as being homosexual bears a stigma in society and religious denominations and individuals feel forced to marry and try to conform, stories like this one will continue to take place, albeit not in quite as sensational or bizarre a manner. Here are highlights from the Star-Ledger:

Pedersen described the encounters during an interview with The Star-Ledger. He said he wanted to rebut the innocent image that Matos McGreevey has projected -- both during the couple's ongoing divorce battle and in interviews she gave after New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer submitted his resignation last week in a sex scandal. He said he also was incensed by her por trayal of herself as an unsuspecting wife in her book: "Silent Partner: A Memoir of My Marriage" "I wanted to get this out now because it was so offensive to me that she goes on television playing the victim," Pedersen said. "She's trying to make this a payday for herself. She should have told the truth about the three of us." Peder sen did not say if he was gay or bi sexual and only described having contact with Matos McGreevey during the trysts. He also said he never knew for sure if McGreevey was gay.

His assertions mark the latest broadside in a particularly public and searing divorce case that has brought back to life the seamy personal issues that erupted when McGreevey resigned almost four years ago. Matos McGreevey alleges the onetime Woodbridge mayor duped her into marriage in 2000 to further his political career, and that she had no clue about his sexual preference until just before he resigned in August 2004, when he announced he was gay and had an affair with an aide.

Meanwhile, has reported the following:
Former New Jersey Gov. Jim McGreevey said Monday he and his wife and a male aide engaged in sexual threesomes, contradicting a denial issued hours earlier by his estranged wife. In an e-mail to The Associated Press, the nation's first openly gay governor said published reports by former campaign aide Teddy Pedersen were true.

The Joys of Home Ownership - The Money Pit

I was just finishing the firm corporate tax return yesterday when I received a call from Matt, one of the roommates, advising me that there was a sound of running water under the dining room of my house (pictured at left in a nearly 3 year old photo). Having done much of the rehab work myself with my former b/f, I am well acquainted with where all the water lines run and the ONLY section of pipe in the entire house that had not been replaced runs right under the dining room. I rushed back the house – a 5 minute or less drive – and sure enough that pipe had sprung a leak and was spraying water everywhere. Fortunately, (1) the hole in the pipe was not big and (2) the roommates were cool about it all and we filled jugs and pails with water and shut the water off at the meter, turning it on only while we showered this morning (not together for those of you with dirty minds, although they are both really cute).

Most likely the pipe that blew out is as old as the house – circa 1917 – and gave out now that the 1909 vintage city water lines on my street have just been replaced, thereby significantly increasing the water pressure (the street has yet to be repaved and resembles a war zone). Since Old Dominion University is expanding closer towards my street (I am 3 blocks from where new low rise office/research buildings park will be constructed), the city is upgrading all if the infrastructure in the area. It will be nice when it is all done, but until then it sucks.

I much prefer being a homeowner as opposed to renting, but there surely are days when it would be ever so nice to just pick up the telephone and call the maintenance folks and throw the problem into someone else’s lap. Like last month when it was the furnace that decided to have a small part that controls the ignition system/thermostat go out of whack. Sadly, the cost of replacing the part was not in keeping with its diminutive size.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Sunday Male Beauty

I'm Alive - Just Working on A Tax Return

Just a note. I am working up the firm's tax return which must be filed tomorrow. Once I get the thing completed, I will try to post a few things. Meanwhile, I will post a Male Beauty pic to keep you occupied. :)