So… The Olympics

Well, I did in fact tune into the Olympics to watch the Opening Ceremony. I did so with distinctly mixed feelings, given that I’m rather supportive of the idea of boycotting watching the games, since I think NBC has not adequately responded to concerns that their $800 million wall-to-wall broadcast is whitewashing the very serious human rights violations going on in Russia – particularly those affecting the gay and transgender community.

Though, with that being said, I did take some comfort in the fact that my decision to cut the cable with Comcast (NBC’s owner) means that they actually have no idea that I’m watching, since I’m using that sweet over-the-air, old-school broadcast system (and in HD that I’m quite sure is of a better quality than that throttled crap I used to get over the cable). Of course, Comcast is also my broadband provider, so my hands aren’t all that clean.

Anyhoo, the Opening Ceremonies were, for lack of a better word, dull. I actually wondered a bit about who the intended audience was – and I suspect it was actually the people of Russia rather than the rest of the world, here seeing live and in color the glories of what their leader has wrought. I don’t suggest that’s either a good or bad thing – though perhaps it’s different than what we’ve come to expect from these spectacles, which typically aim to wow the globe with the majesty, the grandeur of the host country. And this one? Not so much. It was really long and felt enervating; and perhaps it’s just a reflection of my innate American philistinism, but much of the subject matter was simply not engaging (though perhaps more people like ballet than I do – but it’s always acted on me like a powerful narcotic).

Of course, I didn’t really watch the festivities without my own preconceived agenda, namely that, even in spite of the deeply corrupt nature of the Olympics, this was an especially egregious example; and that it was being put on to glorify and entrench Vladimir Putin. Did it succeed? Well, to hear the fawning Matt Lauer and Meredith Viera breathlessly describing the goings-on, apparently so. But for me? Not so much. Plus, we’re still seeing bits like this:

Now, it’s pretty baller that a member of the U.S. bobsled team just stone-cold kicked his way out of the bathroom he got locked into – though the door made from corrugated cardboard is not exactly screaming high-end facilities.

At any rate, I really only posted about the Olympics as an excuse to post a couple of videos. First, a really spot-on show of support to the LGBT communities in Russia from a group of Swedes – singing the Russian national anthem (in Russian!). “Kind of insanely subervise,” as one of my good friends put it.

And then this. Not only because it’s fabulous – but because I think that, while mockery alone can’t bring down a tyrant, laughing at one can both diminish him and point out the absurdity of his views. Good luck gays, on Gay Mountain!

I ♥ NY

This is perfect. Yes, it’s funny – but also, in its way, rather moving. A great reminder that we are a nation of  immigrants – and that’s what makes New York and New Yorkers the best.

Yes, It’s Still About Race

unbalanced_scaleWhen I wake up in the morning, I turn on the local news, mainly for the weather forecast. The rest of the broadcast is predictably glib and annoying and focused largely on topics that are not newsworthy. And then at 7:00AM, the national morning programs come on – basically the same b.s. but with more polished newsreaders and higher production values. Why do I torment myself with this drivel?

This morning on CBS, they showed clips from Anderson Cooper’s interview with juror B37 from the George Zimmerman trial. This is the same gal who had inked a book deal within 36 hours of the conclusion of the trial. Granted, she backed out of the deal soon after, but I think this is a textbook example of my favorite Law & Order phrase – “you can’t unring the bell.”

One of the things that struck me in particular during the interview was her use of the passive voice when describing the case:

I feel sorry for Trayvon and the situation he was in.

The “situation” that Trayvon Martin was in was precipitated solely by George Zimmerman.  It didn’t “just happen” out of thin air – Mr. Zimmerman alone made a number of decisions and took actions that led directly to his confrontation with and subsequent shooting and killing of Mr. Martin.

And this:

It’s just hard. Thinking that somebody lost their life. And there’s nothing else that could be done about it.

This was just so bizarre to me. “Somebody lost their life.” No, George Zimmerman shot and killed Trayvon Martin. That is a fact that has never been in question – yet this juror seems to view it as some sort of vague inevitability, something that could neither have been prevented nor for which the perpetrator could be held responsible. In fact, she doesn’t even seem to acknowledge that there is a perpetrator. It’s quite difficult to disagree with this TPM post stating that “juror B37 is not only ignorant but militantly ignorant.”

But what followed was even more distressing (I almost said “shocking” – though then I realized I’m about as shocked as Capt. Renault). The juror stated her view, in response to Mr. Cooper’s question, that she didn’t believe race played a role in what happened. This certainly seems in keeping with the juror’s narrow and insulated world view – but the part that I found so terrible was the news anchors’ grabbing onto this as evidence that this trial and the events leading up to it were not in fact about race. Rich white lady Norah O’Donnell seemed quite comfortable to close the whole racism chapter because one juror says it wasn’t about race. I mean, if one juror claims that the case wasn’t about race, well, then, I guess it can’t possibly be about race!

Now, I don’t think I have a particularly in-depth understanding of racism in America – I am white after all – but I feel quite confident in saying that when white people proclaim that the shooting and killing of an unarmed 17-year-old black youth is not about race, they don’t know what the fuck they are talking about.

Signs of the Times

It’s quite amazing to me how stark the difference is between protesters from the left and right – at least when it comes to signs. The lefties and progressives consistently come up with slogans that are both trenchant and hilarious (as opposed to misspelled). Who says you can’t love liberty AND have a sense of humor?

To wit, three of my favorites from a Restore the Fourth rally in NYC on July 4.

stop

consuela

weird shit

All photos above by Jim Kiernan

And, just to prove my point, here is the best sign of all from outside the Supreme Court on the day DOMA was overturned.

divorce

Ken Mehlman: A Kinder, Gentler Roy Cohn

This bitch.
This bitch.

Disgusting shitbird Ken Mehlman, the formerly-closeted gay Republican strategist, was profiled in the NYT today – and all I can say is “feh!” This despicable quisling was a key player in W.’s 2004 election (N.B.: Let’s not forget that W was appointed to his first term, not elected) and used  opposition to same-sex marriage not just as a key plank in the Republican platform, but to whip up the conservative base and appeal to their rank homophobia. Thanks in large part to this strategy chosen and embraced by this amoral opportunist, 21 states have amended their constitutions to forbid same-sex marriage, enshrining discrimination against gay men and lesbians as the law of the land in these states. (And let’s not forget the over 4,000 U.S. and coalition troops and 130,000 civilians killed in Iraq. Or the near-destruction of the U.S. economy. Nice work, Kenny!)

 “This is not just any Republican — this is one of the single greatest successful strategists for Republicans,” Mr. [Chad] Griffin [president of the Human Rights Campaign] said of Mr. Mehlman. “And now he’s on our side.”

Well, you know what, Chad? I don’t want him on our side. And we don’t need him on our side. Same-sex marriage is now supported by a majority of Americans. It’s coming – maybe sooner, maybe later, but it’s coming. And I’d be happy to wait a bit longer rather than to embrace someone like Mehlman, who took the dicks out of his mouth just long enough to make sure that gay men and lesbians were vilified and despised – while lining his own pockets in the process

The article seems to imply that there is an even divide regarding Mehlman’s reputation, now that he’s “apologized” and is working as an advocate for same-sex marriage. But please read the comments – it’s pretty clear that most still see Ken Mehlman for what he is – a foul, immoral, selfish individual who is perfectly content to sacrifice principle for his own benefit. Truly a shonda to his people.

And New Yorkers? Please shun this terrible, terrible person. And gays? Don’t fuck him. Don’t have brunch with him.  Throw him major shade. Tell him to sashay away. He does not deserve to be a part of our community.

Fiscal Crisis? Solved!

taxesIn last Sunday’s NYTimes, there was a piece titled “Should We Tax People for Being Annoying?” Without even knowing the subject matter, the answer is, obviously, a resounding, “YES!”

The article itself was about Pigovian taxes – namely, taxes levied on “the things we do that affect others and that the market is unable to price.” A good example is congestion pricing in London, in which those who choose to drive private automobiles into the city must pay a fee to do so; or very high taxes on gasoline to ameliorate not just the negative effects of its use (pollution, congestion, etc.) but also to discourage its consumption in the first place.

Clearly, I would embrace such a system of taxes (particularly given that my primary modes of transportation are bicycle and public transit, resulting in a delightfully smug sense of self-satisfaction as I judge the destroyers of the planet in their cars. Of course, the benefits of not driving a car are more than wiped out by the many airline trips I take each year – not that this diminishes my self-righteousness by one whit. But I digress…). The article, however, reveals the mere tip of the iceberg – there is a potential windfall of tax income for the government available through Pigovian taxes. Here then is a by-no-means-exhaustive list of activities that shall henceforth be taxed.

  • Attempting to board a bus, train, subway, streetcar, metro, motor coach, jitney, shuttle, monorail, ferry, vaporetto, hydrofoil, elevator, funicular or other public conveyance before all alighting passengers have disembarked.
  • Wearing, rather than carrying, one’s backpack on any crowded public conveyance.
  • Being unduly tan.
  • Attempting to strike up a conversation or make eye contact with a stranger in any public place of which the primary purpose is not the serving of alcoholic beverages.
  • Stating, mentioning, implying or alluding to the fact that one wears size 28 jeans and/or a size 0 dress.
  • Using two-dollar words without understanding how to pronounce them properly. For example, oxymoron pronounced as “ox cimarron.” (Yes, that actually happened.)
  • Using “I” as an object instead of “me.”
  • Ordering a “gin martini.”
  • Reading 50 Shades of Grey.
  • Walking three or more abreast on a city sidewalk.
  • Walking in any city center in a manner that could be described as ambling, meandering or strolling.
  • Seeing that one has 3 or fewer seconds on the walk signal, running halfway across the intersection and then sauntering the remaining distance.
  • Putting more than one carry-on item in the overheard bin.
  • Using terms such as “socialism,” “communism” or “fascism” without being able to accurately define them.
  • Being, and therefore presumably driving like, a BMW owner.
  • Being a fan of the New York Yankees.
  • Wearing hats indoors unless one is a lady attending a wedding or a fancy luncheon. (N.B.: The term “lady” in this instance is not gender specific.)
  • Failing to répondez s’il vous plaît.
  • Honking one’s horn while sitting motionless in bumper-to-bumper traffic.
  • Disliking cats.
  • Complaining about how all the people who’ve moved into one’s previously undiscovered, semi-sketchy but charming and reasonably-priced neighborhood have ruined it when one has actually only lived there for a year-and-a-half and is originally from Tustin.
  • Failing to respond to emails, texts or instant messages in a sufficiently timely manner. (N.B.: Timeliness shall be determined by the composer of the email, text or IM to which one is responding.)
  • Leaving voicemail messages (not applicable to persons age 60 or older).
  • Blogging.