C I V I L    M A R R I A G E    I S    A    C I V I L    R I G H T.

A N D N O W I T ' S T H E L A W O F T H E L A N D.

Monday, May 31, 2010

Memorial Day

A lovely rendition of "Amazing Grace" by LeeAnn Rimes to honor our fallen soldiers of all the wars.

BTW guys - your Head Trucker just wants to say that it's really not fitting to wish one another a "Happy Memorial Day," you know?

When Grandma goes to take some flowers to Grandpa's grave, do you say to her, "Have fun at the cemetery"?

Think about it.

Lovelight: Summer Love

Sorry to be late with this guys, I sat up drinking with a buddy Saturday night till nearly dawn, so Sunday was kind of a washout here, ya know what I mean?

Sun, sand, sea, sky, skin, sweat, sex:  hope you guys are enjoying some of all that.

Good night, sweet dreams y'all.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Sunday Drive: Letter to a G. I.

As we commemorate the service and sacrifice of our nation's veterans, straight and gay, this post from Servicemembers Legal Defense Network seems especially fitting today:

May 28, 2010

President Barack H. Obama
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue Northwest
Washington, DC 20500

Dear Mr. President,

For the past month, we have sent you personal letters from those harmed by “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” With the votes in the House and the Senate Armed Services Committee, we are bringing our series to a close. The final letter we are sharing with you was written by a World War II soldier to another service member. It is a love letter penned on the occasion of their anniversary.

The letter, which follows below, was published in September 1961 by ONE Magazine – an early gay magazine based out of Los Angeles. In 2000, Bob Connelly, an adjunct professor of LGBT studies at American University, found a copy of the letter in the Library of Congress. He brought the letter to the attention of Servicemembers Legal Defense Network last month.

We sincerely thank Mr. Connelly for his research and the ONE National Gay & Lesbian Archives for granting permission for the letter to be republished.

Please accept this letter on the behalf of all lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender service members on active-duty, in the reserve and in the National Guard; those who have been discharged; and those who didn’t enlist because of the discriminatory law now being dismantled.

With great respect,
Former Specialist 4th Class Aubrey Sarvis
United States Army

The letter as published by ONE Magazine:

Dear Dave,

This is in memory of an anniversary – the anniversary of October 27th, 1943, when I first heard you singing in North Africa. That song brings memories of the happiest times I’ve ever known. Memories of a GI show troop – curtains made from barrage balloons – spotlights made from cocoa cans – rehearsals that ran late into the evenings – and a handsome boy with a wonderful tenor voice. Opening night at a theatre in Canastel – perhaps a bit too much muscatel, and someone who understood. Exciting days playing in the beautiful and stately Municipal Opera House in Oran – a misunderstanding – an understanding in the wings just before opening chorus.

Drinks at “Coq d’or” – dinner at the “Auberge” – a ring and promise given. The show 1st Armoured – muscatel, scotch, wine – someone who had to be carried from the truck and put to bed in his tent. A night of pouring rain and two very soaked GIs beneath a solitary tree on an African plain. A borrowed French convertible – a warm sulphur spring, the cool Mediterranean, and a picnic of “rations” and hot cokes. Two lieutenants who were smart enough to know the score, but not smart enough to realize that we wanted to be alone. A screwball piano player – competition – miserable days and lonely nights. The cold, windy night we crawled through the window of a GI theatre and fell asleep on a cot backstage, locked in each other’s arms – the shock when we awoke and realized that miraculously we hadn’t been discovered. A fast drive to a cliff above the sea – pictures taken, and a stop amid the purple grapes and cool leaves of a vineyard.

The happiness when told we were going home – and the misery when we learned that we would not be going together. Fond goodbyes on a secluded beach beneath the star-studded velvet of an African night, and the tears that would not be stopped as I stood atop the sea-wall and watched your convoy disappear over the horizon.

We vowed we’d be together again “back home,” but fate knew better – you never got there. And so, Dave, I hope that where ever you are these memories are as precious to you as they are to me.

Goodnight, sleep well my love.

Brian Keith

Friday, May 28, 2010

Obama Proclaims LGBT Pride Month

President Obama holds news conference at White House

As he did last year.  From whitehouse.gov:

The White House
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release May 28, 2010

Presidential Proclamation--Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Pride Month

As Americans, it is our birthright that all people are created equal and deserve the same rights, privileges, and opportunities. Since our earliest days of independence, our Nation has striven to fulfill that promise. An important chapter in our great, unfinished story is the movement for fairness and equality on behalf of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community. This month, as we recognize the immeasurable contributions of LGBT Americans, we renew our commitment to the struggle for equal rights for LGBT Americans and to ending prejudice and injustice wherever it exists.

LGBT Americans have enriched and strengthened the fabric of our national life. From business leaders and professors to athletes and first responders, LGBT individuals have achieved success and prominence in every discipline. They are our mothers and fathers, our sons and daughters, and our friends and neighbors. Across my Administration, openly LGBT employees are serving at every level. Thanks to those who came before us the brave men and women who marched, stood up to injustice, and brought change through acts of compassion or defiance we have made enormous progress and continue to strive for a more perfect union.

My Administration has advanced our journey by signing into law the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr., Hate Crimes Prevention Act, which strengthens Federal protections against crimes based on gender identity or sexual orientation. We renewed the Ryan White CARE Act, which provides life saving medical services and support to Americans living with HIV/AIDS, and finally eliminated the HIV entry ban. I also signed a Presidential Memorandum directing hospitals receiving Medicare and Medicaid funds to give LGBT patients the compassion and security they deserve in their time of need, including the ability to choose someone other than an immediate family member to visit them and make medical decisions.

In other areas, the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) announced a series of proposals to ensure core housing programs are open to everyone, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity. HUD also announced the first ever national study of discrimination against members of the LGBT community in the rental and sale of housing. Additionally, the Department of Health and Human Services has created a National Resource Center for LGBT Elders.

Much work remains to fulfill our Nation's promise of equal justice under law for LGBT Americans. That is why we must give committed gay couples the same rights and responsibilities afforded to any married couple, and repeal the Defense of Marriage Act. We must protect the rights of LGBT families by securing their adoption rights, ending employment discrimination against LGBT Americans, and ensuring Federal employees receive equal benefits. We must create safer schools so all our children may learn in a supportive environment. I am also committed to ending "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" so patriotic LGBT Americans can serve openly in our military, and I am working with the Congress and our military leadership to accomplish that goal.

As we honor the LGBT Americans who have given so much to our Nation, let us remember that if one of us is unable to realize full equality, we all fall short of our founding principles. Our Nation draws its strength from our diversity, with each of us contributing to the greater whole. By affirming these rights and values, each American benefits from the further advancement of liberty and justice for all.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim June 2010 as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Pride Month. I call upon all Americans to observe this month by fighting prejudice and discrimination in their own lives and everywhere it exists.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this twenty-eighth day of May, in the year of our Lord two thousand ten, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-fourth.


In Memoriam: Art Linkletter

The legendary Art Linkletter has died at the age of 97, after a long life starting from surprising origins.  I used to love watching his House Party show in the afternoons when I was a kid.  Among his other talents, he had a real knack for making people laugh - and who will deny that that is one of the greatest gifts of all?  And never a vulgar or suggestive word needed, either.

I think Art would want us to remember him with fond laughter.  Here are some clips guaranteed to make you laugh out loud, introduced by Bill Cosby:

Art is survived by his wife of 75 years, Lois.  Amazing.  See my truckbuddy M. Pierre's blog for a great picture of the two.

Afternoon Drive: Straight to Number One

Oh yeah, let's go there baby.  Now.

Be sure to watch this one in full-screen mode, guys.

Y'all take care, have a good one.  See you down the road.

It's Congress, Bitches

Okay so thanks to Americablog Gay, for the benefit of the many who seem not to have actually read the thing, here is the actual goddamn text of the amendment that was passed by the House yesterday, 234-194, and which assorted I'm-too-fucking-liberal-for-my-shirt bloggers are losing their shit about, and Dan Choi - who I've admired up till now - is going on a hunger strike to protest:


It's awful late here in Texas and I'm late for the bed as it is, so I'll keep my rant short.  But the thing is, guys, this is like totally major fucking progress.  And anybody who doesn't think so needs their silly ass kicked hard by a great big army boot.

The military needs to do their study and will do their study before any fucking thing changes.  Hell, babies, the military doesn't send out for morning coffee without doing a 10-page Needs Assessment.  In quadruplicate.  Anal retentive?  Constipated as hell?  Sure, but that's the reality of the military, and nobody in this universe is ever going to wave a magic wand and have it happen any differently.

When Truman - a man with great big balls and not afraid to make tough decisions - ordered the Armed Forces to desegregate in 1948, the last desegregated units were not phased out until 1954 - six years later.

So I say, patience all around is what the world needs now, not tantrums.  It's not immediate repeal, but if the Senate passes the measure and the President signs it into law, it will make repeal the officially stated goal and policy of the United States Government.  Is that so bad?  Really?

So be happy, bitches, and get over your right-now-this-minute mad.  It's not helping.

And BTW have you really and truly forgotten that just a year and a half ago we were all living in the dark, stinking night of the Bush regime?  Have you forgotten how utterly hopeless today's vote was in that long eight years of Republican rule?  Do you also understand there's a midterm election in November, and the Republicans may well regain control of one or both houses of Congress?  And just what in the hell do you think will happen to all the gay-rights legislation then, hmm? 

Wake up and smell the latte before history runs right over your heads, people.

Tired Old Queen at the Movies: The Harvey Girls

Steve Hayes serves up his usual fabulous review of the Judy Garland classic, co-starring Angela Lansbury in her youthful glamour along with the woofalicious John Hodiak . . . Grrrrrr.

Here's a high-quality audio recording of "On the Atchison, Topeka, and the Santa Fe," which was a number one hit for singer-songwriter Johnny Mercer and the Pied Pipers in 1945, and won Mercer an Academy Award for Best Original Song.  It's been a favorite of mine since I was a wee tyke, listening to it over and over again on a little yellow 45 r.p.m. record - does anyone else remember those kiddie 45's made in yellow or red?

Now buddy, if that doesn't make you grin and tap your feet, you are hopelessly hip - and I feel so sorry for you.

History buffs and railfans can read up on the fascinating story of the Harvey Girls and the Santa Fe's Harvey House restaurants here.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Waitin' for the Weekend

If wishes were trucks . . .

Update from My Garden

Just sharing some love with ya, fellas . . . .

Click on the images to see full size.

More flora and fauna after the jump --

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

This Lane Exit Only

For the benefit of my younger readers who may wonder what it's like to be living in your sixth decade of life:  the experience of turning 50, I found, was very much like when you are riding a bike up a very long, very gentle hill; and then, almost imperceptibly, there comes that moment when you crest the hill and can stop peddling and begin to coast - very slowly at first - down the other side, smoothly, quietly.

All seems just as it was before you reached the top of the hill; and yet you know that from here on, there are no more hills to climb, no more vistas to discover - only the descent homeward, and at a quickening pace as you roll onward. 

Not without good reason has someone said that 50 is the old age of youth, and the youth of old age.

Sometime soon my fifty-fifth birthday will arrive.  I don't know how it is for women, I think they're on a different schedule - but from conversations I've had with guy friends over the years, it seems to be a common experience for men that 35 is a very difficult turning point in life; and 55 is shaping up to be the same, for me anyway.

Among other things - I have quit my job.  I'll still be working for a few more weeks, but I've turned in my notice already:  the die is cast, the Rubicon crossed.  No turning back now.

Which you have to understand is rather unlike me - a very improvident thing to do, not to say irresponsible, since I don't have another job to go to.  With the help of some savings and careful spending, I believe I can get by well enough until the first of the year at least.  After that - I have no idea what I will do.  Not a clue, not a single clue.  But I had to do it.

Of course, there's a whole long story and explanation behind this, which I'm not about to go into here on this very public blog.  Suffice it to say that for some of us, there comes a point in life where we simply cannot go on doing what we have done for thirty years, not any longer. 

More than that:  despite our good intentions and our self-recriminations, we reach a point of burn-out such that we simply cannot function effectively, either at work or at home, cannot perform the simplest, most necessary tasks.  Can't even fake it anymore, let alone do a proper job.  You would like to; you would if you could.  But you can't.  You just - can't.

Perky, practical people, the type with boundless energy and multiple talents who are enamoured of phrases like "self-actualized" and "positive thinking," will not understand a single word of what I'm saying.  Yet it is very true for some of us whose energy and talents are more limited that one can reach a point where all inner resources are simply exhausted. 

After a long struggle, one day your sword is broken, your strength all spent, and you simply cannot fight anymore, not even with yourself; the ship is swamped and sinking fast.  And when you get to a point like that, when the waters are swirling around your ankles, you know for sure that however frightening it may be, you either have to jump ship - or drown.  You have to choose life or death. 

So I jumped. 

I have no idea how or where I will make landfall, or even if I will.  When the moment comes to abandon ship, you don't worry about the itinerary, you just go over the side and hope for the best.  But this story could not go any other way:  I did the only thing I could do, made the only choice I could make.  It's not courage; it's blind instinct.

Perhaps some few of you will understand what I mean.

Right now I can't deal with thinking about all the what-ifs and how-tos.  It's been a hard, very hard and lonely struggle way out here on the prairie since my husband died five years ago, and the last year has been especially arduous; I need to rest and recuperate right now, catch my breath.  When you've had the wind knocked out of you, it takes a little time to recover.

I don't know where the road leads; I only know that wherever it is, I'm going there.

Wish me luck, fellas. 

Standard Time: Unchained Melody

The late, great Bobby Hatfield in a live performance of one of my all-time favorites:

DADT Repeal Moves a Step Closer

From Joe.My.God. yesterday:
Earlier today White House officials met with LGBT groups to hammer out a compromise agreement on attaching a repeal of DADT as an amendment to a pending Defense authorization bill. Following the meeting, the White House for the first time endorsed the amendment attempt. While some see lots of holes in the compromise, most LGBT and progressive groups are responding favorably.
"Repeal with a trigger mechanism" is how it's been described, but it does make repeal official policy.  The Palm Center, Servicemembers United, Human Rights Campaign, and Servicemembers Legal Defense Network are all on board and support the move. 

Crucial votes in the House and Senate will happen as early as Thursday of this week.  Rep. Patrick Murphy, D-PA, who has been spearheading repeal for many months, says this afternoon he has 192 co-sponsors for the amendment:  "It's not a question of If, it's a question of When."

Still, with Congress you never know, and the rightwingers are already flooding Congress with emails and phone calls to block the repeal of DADT.  Click here to send a message to your Congresspeople urging them to vote for the repeal amendment.

Studly pic Second photo:  The Advocate

Monday, May 24, 2010

Past Times: The Warren Cup

First, a little background:  In 1900, Edward Perry Warren - a wealthy gay "American collector who lived in Lewes in Sussex, England, with his collection of Greek antiquities and his lover John Marshall," according to Wikipedia - gave a commission to the sculptor Rodin for a marble copy of his exquisite statue The Kiss, the contract specifying that "the genitals of the man must be complete."  Figures.

Having obtained the statue, in 1914 Warren lent it to the Lewes town council, to be put on public display at the town hall.  It is a lovely thing, isn't it?

Oh but - Horrors!  The local prudes were all up in arms, and managed to get the statue hidden away from public view.  Musn't encourage that sort of thing, you know.

This much of the story I already knew most of.  Tonight I was cheered to discover that Warren was also the owner of another work of fine art that bodes well to become even more famous than Rodin's - it is certainly more explicit, which you might expect from the collection of an artsy old queen, right?

In 1998, the British Museum paid £1.8 million for this other highlight from Warren's collection:  a silver Roman drinking cup dating from about the year ten, supposedly found near Jerusalem and bought by Warren in 1911.  Of course, for most of the twentieth century, such a frankly homoerotic piece of work could not be openly displayed or discussed at all; but now it is on permanent display at the British Museum.
Do click here for an even better, zoomable photograph to explore the fine details of this piece; and while you're there, listen to the very insightful BBC Radio 4 commentary on the cup.

Paul Roberts, curator of the British Museum:
To the Romans it was a drinking cup to be used not just admired. Picture a dinner party, course after course of exotic food and lots of fine wine. The guests talk about politics and love as they pass round the table this luxurious, tactile silver cup. Their host is delighted that they admire its decoration (and its value).

As a work of art it’s a masterpiece – its fine decoration achieved by beating the silver into shape from the inside using fine hammers and chisels. Luxuriant fabrics and musical instruments indicate a world heavily influenced by Greek culture, which the Romans admired and adopted.

So what is so special about the decoration that made it one of the British Museum’s highest-profile and most controversial acquisitions? What kept the piece out of permanent museum collections until 1999, and ensured that its purchase by the British Museum earned it a place in all the British media?
Continued after the jump . . .

Oh Look: Flamingos in Flight

Off Hispaniola, from Wayfaring Travel.  Click to enlarge.

"A Gaping, Unstanched Wound in the Planet"

NASA satellite imagery confirms the slick reached the edge of the Loop Current of the Gulf Stream a week ago, May 18; this is the latest satellite view I've been able to find today.

Oil-coated egret on Grand Isle, Louisiana, May 20.
Photo by U.S. Coast Guard.
I have to say I have struggled with how to blog about this. In many ways, it seems to me to be the biggest story of the year, a gaping, unstanched wound in the planet, emitting death. And yet the prospect of going without drilling seems remote, the possibility of any political will to jump-start alternatives with the impact we need seems just as elusive, and the helplessness of government and industry to stop this nightmare is the most obvious fact (I just assume that BP is doing all it can as of now): all of it makes this story as huge as it is simply despair-inducing.

If we cannot stop this, what else can we not stop?
Your Head Trucker does not believe the government needs to own and run everything; and certainly no one planned for this disaster to happen.  The free-market capitalists at BP are working day and night to stop the spill, to be sure - but to protect the environment, or to save their own butts?  Oh and no volunteers, please:  we will handle everything with our own contractors, so get the fuck away from the coast!

But wait!  It's un-American to criticize BP!  So says dipshit libertarian teabagger Rand Paul:

The President takes note of the long-standing "cozy relationship" between the oil industry and the government in his weekly video address:

Transcript and info on the new commission here.  The White House overview of the federal response is here
What I Say:  I don't believe any of these commentators have yet foreseen the full, longterm ramifications of the oil spill on the environment or on the economy of this nation and all the others that surround the Gulf, and beyond.  Having lived on the Gulf Coast, my intuition tells me that much worse is to come, which will make the Exxon Valdez spill look like a dropped teacup.  This is not Obama's Katrina; it's Katrina and 9/11 and Pearl Harbor all rolled into one and multiplied times ten.  It's the Hiroshima of the Gulf of Mexico, boys.
Your Head Trucker predicts that Obama's response to this single event will be the make-or-break issue of his Presidency, all else aside.  I don't know how he can or should meet all the challenges involved in this horror, but I feel certain that if he does not meet them all effectively - and is not seen to meet them effectively by the public - well fellas, just call him one-term-Jimmy and prepare yourselves for another twenty years of god-fearing, business-loving, flag-waving Republican rule, count on it.
In fact, I wouldn't doubt that before year's end, the head-up-their-ass Republicans will be claiming that Obama engineered the oil spill as an excuse to take over the oil industry and extend his Communist domination of the government.  Which of course is a fulfillment of Bible prophecy.  Remember, you heard it here first. 

God help us all.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Lovelight: Crazy Little Thing Called Love

Good night guys, sweet dreams.

Faith and Reality

Crucifixion (Corpus Hypercubus) by Salvador Dali, 1954

Today I just had to swipe the painting - one of my great favorites - and this excerpt from Andrew Sullivan - also one of my great favorites, I guess you boys know - because both are so fitting, so apt, for where I am now:
Christianity is in crisis - and in a deeper crisis, in my view, than many Christians are allowing themselves to believe. I start from a simple premise. There can be no conflict between faith and truth. If what we believe in is not true, it is worth nothing. The idea that one should insincerely support religious faith because it is good for others or for society is, for me, a profound blasphemy if you do not share the faith yourself. I respect atheists and agnostics who reject faith; I find it harder to respect fundamentalists - of total papal or Biblical authority - because of the blindness of their sincerity; but I have no respect for those who cynically praise religion for its social uses, while believing in none of it themselves. . . .

No educated Christian today can deny that the scriptures we have - copies of translations of copies of copies of oral histories - are internally and collectively inconsistent, written by many authors, constructed in specific historical contexts, reflecting human biases, and supplemented by several other gospels that at the time claimed just as much authority as those gospels eventually selected by flawed men centuries later. Anyone who believes that the Holy Spirit automatically guides every church leader to the perfect truth at all times need only look at the current hierarchy to be disabused of such childish wish-fulfillment; or cast an eye on church history for more than a few minutes.

So the solid architecture of the faith we inherited has been exposed more thoroughly in the last few decades than ever before. There is no single authoritative text, written by one God, word for word true. There is a much more complicated series of writings designed by many men, doubtless under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, that help us see some form of the figure Jesus through languages and texts and memories. I think the character and message of Jesus are searingly clear and distinctive even taking into account that daunting veil through which we are asked to see. But we can only begin to see this once we have understood the veil that both obstructs and made possible our view.

The same, I think, is true of the papacy as an alternative to Biblical literalism. This is in some ways a more durable defense against logos than Biblical literalism, but it is just another form of fundamentalism, deploying total obedience to total authority as an alternative to a living faith that can both doubt and yet also practice the love of God and one's enemies, Jesus's core instructions. I do not see how the limits and flaws of such total authoritarianism could have been more thoroughly illuminated than in the recent sex abuse scandal. When the man whose authority rests on being the vicar of Christ on earth consigns children to rape rather than tarnish the image of the church, he simply has no moral authority left. Yes, his position deserves respect. But its claims to absolute authority have fallen prey to the human arc of what Lord Acton called "absolute corruption".

So we are left in search of this Jesus with a fast-burning candle in a constantly receding cave where we know that at some point, the darkness will envelop us entirely. We will catch Him at times; He will elude us at others. We will have to listen to many words he may have spoken before we can each discern the words he may have meant; we will have to keep our eyes and ears open for science's revelations about the world, while understanding that science is just one way of understanding the world and that poetry, history, and practical perspectives have things to tell us as well. The cathedral at Chartres; the long story of Christian debate and theology; the rituals and daily practices that help us stay trained to intuit the divine we cannot understand and the divine we do not always see in every face around us: these too tell us things that go beyond fact, archeology and hermeneutics.

Yes, this intellectual sifting is hard and troubling to faith; yes, it may end with more mystery than clarity. But if our faith is to be true, it must rest on something more than denial of reality. It must rest on being the greatest experience of reality.
I would add only this, and I think Sullivan would agree: the fact that in every age and every clime, in every culture and society, a certain percentage of people are born gay instead of straight; that it is not an illness, a mental disorder, a perversion, or a choice; that it is not the result of demonic influence or bad parenting; that it is as much a wholesome variety of nature, of the universe, as a red rose or a yellow one; that gay people are fully as capable of love and devotion, of self-sacrifice and service to the greater good as any straight person is; all this is part of reality also, which faith to be worthy of belief must acknowledge and value as it values all that is truly human.

Jesus - truly God and truly man - knows the reality of all things, and is reality, the ultimate fusion of spirit and flesh, divine and terrestrial, mortal and immortal, all that is or was or can be. Take it as theology or philosophy or poetry:  this I believe.

Sunday Drive: Chely Wright

The first major country-music star to come out.

But only after years of hiding, lying, and inner torment caused in large part by her religious upbringing, which led her in 2006 to put a gun in her mouth:  "layers and layers of betrayal of myself, of lying to myself."  Which I know a lot of my Truckbuddies, like me, can relate to.

Listen to her moving story, and send this on to those good country people you know and love who haven't quite gotten the point about the gay thing yet.  Maybe this will help.

Chely's official website here.

To order an autographed copy of Like Me, her autobiography released last week, click here.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Pass ENDA Now!

In 29 states, your gay ass can be fired any day of the week just for being gay - and you wouldn't have a leg to stand on in court about that, it's perfectly legal.  Click here for a pdf map of state employment laws.

Congress is set to vote soon on the latest, trans-inclusive version of the Employment Nondiscrimination Act.  According to Joe.My.God., we need 16 more votes in the House and 7 in the Senate to ensure passage.  We also need to show the legislators already on board with the bill that they shouldn't back out when it comes down to the wire.

So do something:  call or email your representatives today, tell 'em how you feel about this.

After all, it's your country too - right, bud?

The War Is Making You Poor Act

This country is spending $549 billion this year on the military budget, and the Administration has requested another $159 billion on top of that to continue what we're doing in Iraq and Afghanistan.   Which is about half of all the military spending by every country on the face of the earth.  And what is that accomplishing?

(Seriously - and I am not going to get into a screaming match with anyone on this issue - but after nine years, exactly what is the freaking point, what exactly are we getting or trying to get from occupying those places?  You should understand that I admire very much the bravery and skill and sense of honor that keeps individual soldiers there, doing their job and following orders - that's not the question.  What essential national-level good are we doing, what good are we getting from spending all that money and blood, is what I would really like to know.  If there is any good to be had.  If any Blue Truck readers can answer the question directly in 100 words or less, please hit the comment button.)

Rep. Alan Grayson, D-FL, has introduced a bill in Congress to address the monumental drain on our economy, and give many of you a zero income tax bill next year - check it out:

God, I wish he was my Congressman. 

As Joe Jervis says, "Not a chance in hell of passing, but at least somebody is screaming about war spending."

Straight White Male God Demands Human Sacrifices

Preferably sexually active females, please - yum

Oh, and pay no attention to that little man behind the curtain.  Merely an assistant, don't bother him.

My truckbuddy Heretic Tom will tell ya all about it, check it out if you dare.

Jake's Got Abs

So my heartthrob hit the gym to prepare for his new movie, Prince of Persia, coming out next week.  And it shows.

I'm past the point of being able to sit through such silliness at the mulitplex.  But I could sit and look at Jake himself all day long.  Just him and me, a little mountain cabin and a bucket of suds . . . whooeee!

Catch the trailer here.

Harvey Milk Day

Today marks the first celebration of Harvey Milk Day in California, under a law passed in that state last year; while not a state holiday, public schools will mark the occasion.

Harvey would have turned 80 today; I wonder what he would have to say about the current gay-rights issues and other circumstances of national life here in 2010. He was assassinated in San Francisco on November 27, 1978 - Jimmy Carter was president then, John Paul II had just begun his reign as Pope, and nobody had ever heard of Oprah Winfrey.

And how did I miss this? - last August, President Obama awarded a posthumous Presidential Medal of Freedom to Milk, which was accepted by his nephew, Stuart, shown below.

Obama Honors Sixteen With Congressional Medal Of Freedom

Cleve Jones reflects on Harvey's life and legacy:

Friday, May 21, 2010

Afternoon Drive: Je T'Aime

It's not what you say, it's the way that you say it - ya know what I mean, boys?

Y'all have a good one, see you down the road.

There Are No Homosexuals - Ya Think?

Rob Tisinai always hits it right on the money with cold, clear logic.  Today he's responding to this claim by avowed heterosexual activist (see how nasty that sounds?) Matt Barber:
Being black is what someone is.

On the other hand, being “gay” is what someone does. It involves feelings and changeable behaviors. Homosexual conduct is more akin to the aforementioned gambling or pot smoking behaviors than it is to skin color (and for those in the lifestyle, especially men, sodomy most definitely involves rolling the dice). To compare “black” or “heterosexual” to “gay” is to compare apples to oranges. Understandably, many African Americans find this disingenuous comparison tremendously offensive.
Rob responds with this bulls-eye:
So much wrong here. First, of course, is the notion that being gay is not a neutral, immutable characteristic. And then there’s this strange claim that being gay involves feelings while being straight or black does not.

Third (and this is so dumb, it deserves its own paragraph), he says that comparing “heterosexual” to “gay” is like comparing apples to oranges. What? He’s staking his argument on the belief that straight is something you are, but gay is something you do? That gay involves changeable behavior but straight does not? This is bizarre even inside Matt’s own distorted world. Seriously — if he thinks that being gay is a choice, then he’s saying that people are choosing not to be straight. In other words, heterosexuality involves feelings and changeable behavior, just like homosexuality. So by his criteria, they’re not different at all.

But it’s a cheap shot to point out Matt Barber’s intellectual confusion, like mocking a short guy for not being able to dunk. The real point is not Matt’s logical inconsistency, but the way his entire no-homosexuals-just-homosexual-acts starting point is an unsubstantiated and total break from reality.
And remember this point, fellas:
And by the way, Matt, religion is all about feelings and changeable behavior. Unless you don’t mean the stuff about loving Jesus and turning away from sin.
Of course, what Barber is claiming is the standard traditional Christian worldview derived from both the Old and New Testaments; most directly stated by St. Paul in Romans 1:26-27:
Because of this [idolatry], God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural ones. In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed indecent acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their perversion.
You see?  Heterosexuality is not merely the default human state, it's the only human condition; therefore, any deviation from heterosexual behavior is, ipso facto, a choice.  And if every man, woman, and child is "by nature" heterosexual, there can be no love between people of the same sex, only lust and "indecent acts."

Which is a lie.  A big, fat lie.  It is simply not true, no more than the notion that the earth has "four corners" (see Revelation 7:1 and 20:8).  But the straight boys are so terrified of us girly boys  - and what's wrong with this picture? - that they will cling to those Bible verses, ignorant and unmerciful, to the last gasp.

As Rob points out in his previous post on this subject, adopting the tone of the homophobes:
There’s no discrimination against homosexuals because there are no homosexuals. Just homosexual conduct. Homosexuality isn’t a state of being — it’s merely a set of actions. Hate crimes against homosexuals? No! Civil equality for homosexuals? No! Anti-bullying laws to protect young homosexuals? No! None of these things are necessary if there are no homosexuals.

This thinking is important when it comes to the “immutability” argument in Constitutional law. Is homosexuality a choice? Our opponents say that deciding to engage in homosexual acts is a choice, and people can stop being gay just by giving up gay sex. That makes sense, though, only if homosexuality is nothing more than same-sex sex. Obviously, though, it’s a great deal more — I was gay before I ever had sex, I’m gay when I’m not having sex, I’m gay right now as I type this (and there’s no man in sight). . . .

Language matters. Orwell taught us to be wary of political language that “is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind.”

. . . The claim that there are no homosexuals, just homosexual conduct, is pure wind. The assertion that “gay” is something you do, but never something you are, is pure wind. And it’s a dangerous wind, at that.

Rachel's Helpful Hints

. . . for hypocrites, as the Republican family-values Class of '94 continues to fill the history books with a record of infamy.  This arrogant, self-righteous asshole is so deep in Denial, half of Egypt is probably underwater by now.

White House Denounces Malawi Gay Verdict

Following the State Department's similar statement, the Obama Administration sharply condemned the sentencing of two gay men in Malawi to 14 years at hard labor - for holding an engagement ceremony:
The United States strongly condemns the conviction and harsh sentencing of Steven Monjeza and Tiwonge Chimbalanga in Malawi. The criminalization of sexual orientation and gender identity is unconscionable, and this case mars the human rights record of Malawi. We urge Malawi and all countries to stop using sexual orientation or gender identity as the basis for arrest, detention, or execution.

Thank you, Mr. President and Madam Secretary.

Last week, British gay rights activist Peter Tatchell received this communication from Chimbalanga:
I love Steven so much. If people or the the world cannot give me the chance and freedom to continue living with him as my lover, then I am better off here in prison. Freedom without him is useless and meaningless.
Bless them.

Andrew Sullivan:
The whole thing is a reminder to me of the scale of oppression that the overwhelming majority of gay people still experience on this planet. In the West, we have great arguments about what equality means, priorities among reforms, what the limits of outing are, and the complex nature of human sexuality. For many gay people elsewhere, it is a triumph to stay alive, just as it has been for centuries, let alone find a love that can sustain you through your life.
(Link to Wikipedia article and map added by me.)

Los Angeles to Arizona: Bite Me

You gotta read this one:  a concise response from the L.A. water and light department to the Arizona energy commissioner's suggestion that his state stop supplying them with electric power. 

Fucking brilliant, if you ask me.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Exempt Private Businesses from Civil Rights Laws?

Hecklers pour sugar, condiments, and water over sit-in protesters at a lunch counter in Jackson, Mississippi, 1963.  Notice that the protesters are practicing nonviolent resistance, as Dr. King advocated.

Jeezus.  People who didn't pass high school American History really should not be allowed to run for public office.  Notice how this fuckweasel consistently avoids answering Rachel's direct questions about his real view on segregation:

What I Say:  Boys, I was there in the segregated South, and when I close my eyes I can see it all again just plain as day.  Hotels, movie theaters, restaurants, cafes, railroad stations, bus stations, gas stations, barrooms - all those private businesses were strictly segregated, often with separate restrooms for "Colored" and "White" and separate entrances - or, as in the case of hotels and motels, including the major chains like Holiday Inn and Howard Johnson's, simply did not take any black customers at all. 

I well recall that every place that served food - even down to the corner hot-dog stand or ice-cream parlor - had a sign prominently displayed behind the counter: 

We Reserve the Right to Refuse Service to Anyone

As a kid, waiting to be served or to pay for my hamburger, I often studied that sign and pondered what it meant.  Now I know:  "We Don't Serve Blacks" is the translation.

True, it was all required by law; but that law was the express will of the vast, overwhelming majority of white citizens of the South, too.  Even if the segregation laws had all been rescinded, I promise you that all those businesses would have kept the signs and policies in place - as a "business necessity," because white people, like my own family, I am sad to say, simply would not have patronized them otherwise - unless there was a positive law forbidding private businesses from discriminating, which is part of what the Civil Rights Act achieved.

And that is the America that dumbshit racist assholes like Rand Paul want to take us back to.  No thank you.  Here's a couple of clips to give you a little hint of what life was like under the segregation regime - imposed not arbitrarily by "big government," but directly at the hands of the white majority:

Tired Old Queen at the Movies: No Way Out

Steve Hayes says:
Racial tensions seethe and a city is torn apart by hate when Sidney Poitier as a young intern in a large metropolitan hospital comes up against racist Ray Biddle played by Richard Widmark in Joseph L. Mankiewiczs searing No Way Out (1950). Also starring Fox siren Linda Darnell, in a dramatic turn as the right girl from the wrong side of the tracks, this was the film that established Poitier as a major talent and further secured Richard Widmarks reputation as the king of menace. Director Mankiewicz pulls out all the stops to show the difficulties that arise in a city where emotions run just below the surface, where everyone is expected to know their place and nobody is truly free -- where love and hate walk hand in hand and there's no such thing as being just a little prejudiced.

Its explosive, its in your face, it wont go away, its unforgettable, there's "No Way Out."

And here's the trailer:

Waitin' for the Weekend

Merci beaucoup and a honk to M. Pierre, who knows just what I like.

New Blog: waters

Hey guys, first chance you get, I'd be much obliged if you'd drop by and check out the blog of my good buddy M. Pierre:  waters.  He's a very interesting guy with some unique perspectives, but just getting started with blogging for the very first time, learning the ropes - so give him a friendly welcome to the Blogger community.  Tell him Russ sent you.

PS - Ask him about Boudreaux's day in hell.

Glenn Beck's Nazi Tourette's

The ex-roommate tipped me to this hilarious diagnosis of the emotionally disturbed Glenn Beck's speech problem.  A must-watch. 

Send this to your hardcore fundamentalist teabagger relatives; it might be their last chance at grasping reality, who knows.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Conversion: That's Gay

Lose the self-gaytred and go straight today!  Bryan did . . . why not you, fucker?

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

More Flutterbyes

Believe it or not, your Head Trucker is not really much into bugs, but I'm having a helluva good time with photographing 'em.  Two or three, maybe four new species today. Click on the pics to enlarge. 

These tiny little silver-winged fellows look very elegant:

But they seem to prefer eating their dinner upside-down.  Go figure.

Then there were some striped ones:

Of course, when the dinner bell rings, everybody comes a-runnin':

I felt sorry for this ragged little fellow,
wonder what the other guy looks like?

But maybe that's just the way he's made. 
And then there were these spotted fellas - baby monarchs, maybe?

Digital photography is the best damn thing since sliced bread, and you can quote me on that, guys.  I never would have given a second glance to all these little critters if not for my Kodak.  Which is not the latest and greatest, either:  just a little $150 point-and-shoot, with a close-up setting.

The beauty of this digital stuff is, not only does it make beautiful crisp, clear pics, but it also gives you the freedom to take lots and lots and lots of pictures.  Without having to stop and reload film, and without worrying about the cost of developing.  That's the only way to get really good shots, because the more pics you take, the higher your chances of getting some good ones.  (Conversely, that's also why most of our family snapshots from years gone by don't look so great:  you didn't want to "waste" your film, so you only took a relatively few photos, and didn't give the law of averages a chance to work in your favor.) 

FYI, I took 48 snaps today, got about a dozen good ones out of all that, and as you can see above, 3 or 4 really cool pics.  And I have never had any training whatsoever in photography.  Totally fucking awesome. 

If they'd had this technology when I was in school, think I would have gone in a whole different career direction.  I'm lovin' it.
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