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.

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Still a BFD

In the wake of Thursday's Supreme Court ruling that saved "Obamacare" from extinction, the Obama re-election campaign is now selling t-shirts that recall Vice-President Joe Biden's overheard remark at the signing of the law, back in 2010. A bit crude, perhaps, but for this profane day and time hardly outrageous, and very humorous:

Meanwhile, rightwingers have barely been able to catch their breath after the unexpected rescue of the healthcare law, sputtering and twitching and burbling incoherently.  A number of them, including the unhinged Glenn Beck, are openly suggesting that Chief Justice Roberts - once the idol of the rightwingers - is mentally ill, or morally deficient, or both, and thus his ruling has no validity whatsoever.  As witness this t-shirt Beck is offering to his tea-party minions:

So much for his patriotism and respect for our Constitutional system. But guys, you need to appreciate that it's not merely backwoods Baptists calling into question the validity of the ruling: all sorts of urbane, highly-educated, well-connected types are frothing at the mouth now, muttering about "constutional malpractice" and such. Go take a look at some of the opinion pieces at the Wall Street Journal site to get the flavor of the diehard rightwing views of the profiteering class.

On the other side of the fence, the New Yorker now has a collection of excellent articles and reactions to the Supreme Court's ruling. In particular, I like the article about the unsung hero in all this: the tough-as-nails Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, whom no one can accuse of not having a sharp legal mind and respect for the Constitution.

As an aside - your Head Trucker may be just an ol' country boy stuck way to hell out in BFE, but it warms the cockles of his heart to see that a writer for a high-class mag like the New Yorker agrees exactly with something I told you boys on Thursday:
“This is a toe hold,” Hertzberg, looking further into the future, says. “In one way, the most important thing about this is that it establishes the idea, if not the reality, that health insurance and health care should be universal . . . . This is the beginning of what’s going to be a long struggle."

BTW, it's very telling, isn't it, that all of the women Justices voted to keep the law. As I heard someone say in a news clip the other day, maybe Nancy Pelosi, "Now, being a woman will no longer be a 'pre-existing condition.'" Check. If the Congress and the Supreme Court were more than fifty percent women, we would have had universal healthcare in this country a hundred years ago, I guaran-damn-tee you, boys.

There's nothing evil per se in being a wealthy, straight white man. There is something very wrong, however, with a world that is set up to cater to their wishes and wants alone. Slowly, slowly that old world is passing away, and a new world of true justice and equality for all is being born.

Though the drawn-out labor sure does work my nerves.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Waitin' for the Weekend

This last photo, taken circa 1975, is from the forthcoming Fire Island:  The Book, by author/artist/photographer Tom Bianchi via GuySpy.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Healthcare Ruling: Reax

The President, on the most important Supreme Court ruling in a generation:

Full text here.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), with a sweet remembrance of Senator Ted Kennedy, who until his death in 2009 worked tirelessly for many years for a national healthcare act:

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, promising to repeal the Affordable Care Act on his first day in the White House, if elected:

House Republicans have already scheduled a repeal vote for July 11. But in a delicious irony, Justice Ginsburg in her concurring opinion cited Mitt's great legacy as Governor of Massacusetts - what pundits call "Romneycare," which Mitt two-facedly disowns now - as a great success that Congress used as a model for the national law.

Some rich-bitch soccer mom in Alaska:
@SarahPalinUSA: Obama lied to the American people. Again. He said it wasn't a tax. Obama lies; freedom dies.

BONUS: Today's funniest headline:

Republicans say they're moving to Canada due to health care decision

Funniest photo of the day, from Reddit via Andrew Sullivan:

The Impossible Dream?

As we await the Supreme Court's judgment on the Affordable Care Act, aka "Obamacare," this morning at 9 o'clock Texas time, your Head Trucker is filled with pessimism. I very much fear that the justices will eviscerate the law, which means the cruel, obscene lack of universal healthcare in this country will go on, perhaps for decades longer. And all because of the wicked, coldhearted opposition of the thieving, lying, greedy Republicans and their bloodsucking determination to make billions in profits out of human need and suffering.

For a full century now, ever since Teddy Roosevelt called for a national insurance plan in his 1912 "Bull Moose" campaign, the dark, cunning powers of the wealthy and the hypocritical have kept strangling this idea at birth, an idea that should be a vibrant reality, and the birthright of every American, indeed of every human being the world over. FDR, Truman, JFK, Clinton, even Nixon, for God's sake, have all tried to bring this to fruition, but all were rebuffed by the reactionary opposition of the profit-mongers.

With these thoughts in mind, I have turned my gaze once more to Canada, where is displayed what should be here in our own country: a humane, effective, and much-loved system of universal health insurance that covers all regardless of ability to pay. This little video made in 2009 is just one of many available on YouTube that illustrate the Canadian system; I share this one with you all because it makes the point so simply and so well that it brings a tear to my eye - perhaps when you watch it, you will understand why.

Brian Beutler at Talking Points Memo writes this morning:
The fact that the Court might completely void the law is the consequence of an extremely esoteric oversight. The challengers’ case rests on a legal theory hatched explicitly to achieve a political end. That’s why most Constitutional scholars continue to believe the case for the law is strong, even if its legal chances have dimmed over the past several months. And that’s the reason why it would be extraordinary and condemnable if the Court throws the whole thing out anyhow.

House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) said yesterday, "If the court does not strike down the entire law, the House will move to repeal what's left of it."

One small glimmer of hope in the gathering gloom, though: some think that if the mandate is struck down, it would in fact pave the way for a single-payer system nationwide.

And Ted Frier in Salon offers an instructive insight into the current Supreme Court, which for the first time in history counts not a single Protestant among its members, who include the buffoonish, openly partisan Justice Scalia:
I'm convinced Scalia would like to see the country governed just like the Catholic Church of his pre-Vatican II dreams while he and the bishops win back the faith and trust of followers through brute force and intimidation and showing the unlettered masses who's boss.

I've long maintained that one cannot understand the behavior of the current conservative Court majority without also appreciating its affinity for a traditional hierarchy that is an indelible hallmark of the autocratic Catholicism to which all five members of this right wing majority are devoted.

Both the Catholic bishops and the conservative Catholic members of the Court, after all, are attempting to resuscitate a discredited and disgraced elite and restore it to power. . . .

See also this interactive guide from the Washington Post on how today's ruling, whatever it is, will affect you.

BREAKING: Live from ScotusBlog at 10:13 a.m., Washington time:
The bottom line: the entire ACA is upheld, with the exception that the federal government's power to terminate states' Medicaid funds is narrowly read.

Apparently a 5-4 decision, with Chief Justice John Roberts, a conservative Republican and Bush appointee, uncharacteristically voting with the left of the court. Praise God from whom all blessings flow!

10:20 a.m.: Justice Kennedy, the swing voter who often sides with the liberal wing of the court on social issues, surprisingly joined the conservative justices in voting against the law. The majority, however, held that the individual mandate is a tax, and thus well within the constitutional authority of Congress to impose on citizens.

10:28 a.m.: Justice Kennedy, writing for the dissenting minority, says, "In our view, the entire Act before us is invalid in its entirety." So God bless the Chief Justice, who either has an actual heart, or at least an eye to the history books.

Your Head Trucker cries Shame! Shame! Shame! and every condign imprecation upon on the heads of the four dissenting justices, whose names will most certainly be engraved in infamy.

10:35: So the entire ACA is held to be consitutional indeed, and the only penalty for an individual who doesn't obey the mandate to purchase insurance is a penalty that you have to pay when you file your income tax - I think it's $695, which is less than many people get back every year from the IRS. So a damn good win for the side of the angels.

10:38: The full text of the healthcare decision is now online.

10:45: It occurs to your Head Trucker that this decision makes Obama's victory in November much more likely now. If you doubt that, just consider what his position would have been had the Court thrown out the law that he staked so much of his prestige on. I'll bet his balls are clanking at every step he takes now.

If only the meek, mild, nicey-nice Democrats in Congress will now go out and pound the stumps and stir up some fucking enthusiasm before voting day!

10:59: The Court has now recessed until October 1, and the decision goes into the history books, allowing the life of the Republic to continue trudging along, as it so often as, sometimes slipping, sliding, or stumbling, but somehow in the long run always onward and upward toward a more perfect union.

Though many improvements remain to be made in our healthcare system and how it is funded, at least from this moment on, no longer will healthcare be the privilege of the wealthy and the well-off and the well-connected. From today forward, it will be considered not merely the privilege, but the inalienable right of every citizen - even if the Court has not used that language in today's ruling. From henceforth, universal healthcare will be regarded as the birthright of every American, rich or poor, high or low. It may yet take awhile for this realization to dawn in every mind, in every heart, but dawn it will, and that right soon, I have no doubt.

And I thank God for that.

The Supreme Court

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Oreo Pride

Your Head Trucker's spies, and they are everywhere, report that Oreo posted this image to its Facebook page yesterday - whatever that is:

Way to go, Oreo!

BTW, I am also informed that it's the centennial year for Oreos, which were first sold in 1912 - pretty amazing.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Sunday Drive: Arabesque

Monet is your Head Trucker's overall favorite painter. The light in some of his plein air paintings is so real, you can almost feel the breeze blowing through them, as through a window.  Be sure to use the full screen on this.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Tired Old Queen at the Movies: Some Like It Hot

Steve Hayes serves up a fabulous review for gay pride: the laugh riot Some Like It Hot, one of your Head Trucker's favorites. It's a hoot and a holler from start to finish - if you've never seen it before, you just must. If you haven't seen it recently, go watch it again. The very last line in the movie is worth the price of admission all by itself.
In celebration of Gay Pride, here are Jack Lemmon, Tony Curtis, and Marilyn Monroe heating up the hilarity in Billy Wilder's classic cross-dressing comedy SOME LIKE IT HOT (1959). Set during Prohibition in Chicago, two out-of-work musicians, Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon, witness The St. Valentine's Day Massacre and have to go on the lamb. They end up taking refuge in drag in an all-girl band, whose lead singer is none other than Marilyn Monroe at her saucy and sexy best. The action is fast-paced, the double-entendres are flying, and the results are absolutely hilarious.

Catch more fabulous reviews at Steve's YouTube channel.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Waitin' for the Weekend

June Brides

"June Brides" by Gayle Kabaker

Thursday, June 21, 2012

How To Crank a Revolution

Linda Hirshman, author of Victory: The Triumphant Gay Revolution, on "What Stonewall Got Right, and Occupy Got Wrong," an excerpt:
This Sunday, as every fourth Sunday in June, the streets of New York will fill with prideful marchers celebrating Pride Month. There will be similar marches, too, in cities around the country. Sunday marks the forty-third year since the uprising in a Greenwich Village bar called Stonewall that supposedly started the modern gay revolution. The myth is that a few hundred angry people acted out in lower Manhattan, and the world changed. Maybe that’s where Occupy Wall Street got the idea that this is how it’s done.

It’s the wrong lesson. Stonewall was the product of a handful of brilliant community organizers applying basic principles of social organizing. Without them, Stonewall would have been nothing more than one of several gay-bar pushbacks in the late sixties, or another one of the non-gay street demonstrations that characterized New York in that tumultuous time. It was the dedicated strategizing of the men and women of the nascent gay movement that turned something unremarkable into the Bastille. Their achievement is a field guide to how to make a social movement, and also offers insight into why Occupy is failing.

Which reminds your Head Trucker - who naively used to think that demostrations just spontaneously happened, like meteorites or flatulence - of the time he was in D.C. for the display of the AIDS quilt in 1992, and somehow my first husband and I and our little group from the far South learned there was to be a kind of memorial concert one night on the Mall, to be followed by a silent candlelight march past the White House.  Being out-of-towners, we of course were the last ones to hear about this, and by the time we did, every store in the vicinity of Dupont Circle, where we were staying, had been ransacked and de-candled.  But we turned up anyway, and gratefully accepted some free candles a stranger was handing out, so we were able to stand and shine - even though we were so damn far away from the stage, if there was a stage, that we couldn't hear a thing but the occasional rumble of what sounded like distant thunder.

Still, we were there and we were queer and totally out in the open about it, which was a great treat for all of us.  (My husband and I walked all over the tourist parts of D.C. hand in hand, in broad daylight - what a thrilling feeling of freedom that was, something we'd never before in our lives been able to do out of doors.)  Eventually, though, the concert apparently having ended, the great crowd, like an enormous flounder, slowly began to scuddle along and pour itself onto a pavement that was headed in the general direction of the White House.  We oozed along with everybody else, proudly holding high our windproofed, Dixie-cupped candles amid the many thousand points of light flowing all around us, wrapped in a sort of speechless reverie at the thought that we were actually there in that famous place, doing these things.

What a surprise it was, then, to discover that during this supposedly silent protest march, there were lean, angry-looking guys with voices like a drill sergeant's, striding through the rows and files of marchers, eyes blazing, whipping us up into chanting "Shame!  Shame!  Shame!" as we approached 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.  Which I did, and I'm glad I did - we had good reason, and it was, forgive me for saying so, great fun too.

But country boy here made mental note:  Aha, this is how the world really works.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

It Could Happen to You

Marriage fucking well matters, don't you ever say it doesn't. Longtime Blue Truck readers will recognize the similarities between this tragic story of Shane and Tom, and my story that I've blogged about several times over the years since I lost my Cody.

Now Linda Bloodworth-Thomason, writer and creator of Designing Women and other acclaimed TV shows, wants to turn their story into a documentary. She writes:
In March of 1986, my mother was diagnosed with AIDS, after receiving a contaminated blood transfusion. This occurred just as the pilot for “Designing Women” was getting underway. As I wrote much of the first season, sitting beside my mom, I was witness to the incredible prejudice and prevailing ignorance inflicted not just on her, but all the homosexual men who shared her hospital floor. Because of this, I was honored to write the Emmy nominated DW episode, “Killing all the Right People,” which was television’s first scripted show to tackle the hateful prejudice surrounding gays and AIDS.

Little did I know that I would someday be provided with another opportunity to address this same kind of bigotry. It all began when I attended a gay wedding ceremony in Palm Springs, California. That night, a couple of unforgettable, young men named Shane and Tom joined my table. I learned they were “Designing Women” fans, madly in love and literally brimming with all their big plans for an exciting life together. Sadly, that possibility ended when Tom was killed in an accident last year. When I heard the news, I was haunted by the sheer weight of Shane’s loss. Even though I barely knew them, their good-hearted demeanors and earnest love had made an indelible impression on me.

Then, a few weeks ago, I saw Shane’s YouTube posting, along with his bone crushing grief and the story of what happened to him after Tom’s death—and all because they were never allowed to marry. Like so many others who saw this video, I was deeply touched. And angered. I called Shane and invited him to my office. I told him I wanted to make a documentary that would tell his and Tom’s love story from beginning to end. I have now seen all of Shane and Tom’s videos and home movies. Like a lot of young people, they routinely documented their lives—but this recorded history is so prolific, it almost seems as though they had a premonition or unconscious fear of not getting to live out something important.

Tom and Shane were each other’s first and only loves. They are devoted, hardworking, unassuming and funny. Each is from a small town and each, in his own way, is imbued with the best kind of small town values. They are, in fact, the sort of young people who hold within themselves the promise of America. And that is why I want to bring to life, on film, this real life Romeo and Romeo—so that all who condemn them, might come face to face with exactly what it is they are opposing.

Certainly the fact that Tom’s last name is Bridegroom is a lucky and serendipitous gift to a filmmaker. But it is so unusual, even a skeptic would find it hard not to also feel that Tom, in his own way, is now standing in for something larger than himself. I can think of no more powerful opportunity to change hearts and minds on this very important issue of human rights, than to tell the story of Shane and Tom, which at its core, is the struggle of all people who yearn to be who they are and love who they love.

You can help make it happen. Donate as little as $5 here. It's a story that needs to be told, and told, and told again, as I have told mine.

But as Shane said, if we don't talk, nobody will listen. So if marriage matters to you - put your money where your mouth is. Even if it's just the price of a latte, just do it. Now. And feel proud of making sure the bastards don't grind us all back into the bottom of the closet forever, as they would love to do.

As Maine Goes

Here's the trailer for Question One, a documentary by Joe Fox on the 2009 referendum that repealed marriage equality in Maine; which is highly relevant now because our side has put the measure back on the ballot for a referendum this coming November.

(Note: "Yes" vote = "traditional marriage"; "No" vote = marriage equality.)

Question One - Trailer from Fly On The Wall Productions on Vimeo.

Excerpt from an extensive article about the 2009 referendum and the filming of both campaigns by Joe Fox in the Advocate:
“This referendum campaign isn’t about us hating gays,” Pastor Bob Emmerich would say over and over again as part of the campaign stump speech or in scores of television interviews and public debates. “It’s about defending marriage.”

But then when the cameras weren’t rolling – except ours — Emmerich, the co-chairman for the Yes campaign, would add: “The big question that’s behind all of this really has to be answered and asked by individuals: are we as a society ready to give complete approval to homosexuality? Are we prepared to say as a society that it’s normal or healthy or OK? I don’t like being forced into that question, but that’s what it comes down to.”

So, strip down all the political messaging and you end up with: “They’re not healthy. They’re not normal.”

I listened syllable by syllable to their words, punctuated by pauses and long silences and repetition until I realized what drove them and who they really were as people. I would catch campaign volunteer Linda Seavey stopping in mid-sentence, her eyes darting around frantically, unsure of where to go next. “If this issue, if this issue,” said Seavey, “does not go the way, the way that I want to it to…”

A pause.

“I just… I… I… I…”

A longer pause.

“Because people, people, people just don’t... they don’t…”

Seavey was now silent. For what seemed to be several minutes, she just stared out the window. “Stop there,” she finally concluded.

What was behind Seavey’s stops and starts? Her pauses, I surmised, disguised a feeling of being so overwhelmed by a world that in her view had gone mad. It left her at times unable to talk. Gays being allowed to marry? Seavey was fueled by outrage and a sense of injustice. Things were terribly wrong, and she was powerless to do anything about it.

It was Seavey who now felt like the outsider. And that realization turned out to be my “aha” moment. . . .

Note: Seavey is the church lady we see in the documentary planting "Yes" signs along the roadside.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

How to Survive a Plague

The AIDS quilt laid out on the Mall in D.C. in 1992.
Your Head Trucker was there, and will never forget
those three days of walking and weeping openly for
all the missing friends and lovers, known and unknown.

Coming to a theater near you in September. Synopsis from filmmaker and award-winning journalist David France:
HOW TO SURVIVE A PLAGUE is the story of the brave young men and women who successfully reversed the tide of an epidemic, demanded the attention of a fearful nation and stopped AIDS from becoming a death sentence. This improbable group of activists bucked oppression and, with no scientific training, infiltrated government agencies and the pharmaceutical industry, helping to identify promising new medication and treatments and move them through trials and into drugstores in record time. In the process, they saved their own lives and ended the darkest days of a veritable plague, while virtually emptying AIDS wards in American hospitals in the process. The powerful story of their fight is a classic tale of empowerment and activism that has since inspired movements for change in everything from breast cancer research to Occupy Wall Street. Their story stands as a powerful inspiration to future generations, a road map, and a call to arms. This is how you change the world.

Andrew Sullivan:
People forget that HIV decimated the immune system - but people actually died from the opportunistic infections. These "OI"s were something out of Dante's Hell. So many drowned to death from pneumocystis. Or they would develop hideous KS lesions, or extremely painful neuropathy (my "buddy" screamed once when I brushed a bedsheet against the tip of his toes), or CMV where a friend of mine had to inject himself in the eyeball to prevent going blind, or toxoplasmosis, a brain degenerative disease where people wake up one day to find they can't tie their shoe-laces, and their memories are falling apart. Within the gay community, 300,000 deaths amounted to a plague of medieval dimensions. Once you knew your T-cells were below a certain level, it was like being in a dark forest where, at any moment, some hideous viral or bacterial creature could emerge and kill you. And for fifteen years there was nothing to take that worked, just the agonizing helplessness of waiting to die, and watching others get assaulted by one terrifying disease after another.

In this immense catastrophe, you had an almost epic tale: no sooner had a critical mass of gay men actually come out, established themselves in urban ghettoes, and finally celebrated their humanity and sexuality than they were struck down in droves. But the next part of the story is the most amazing. We could so easily have given up in shame or self-hatred or exhaustion. But somehow, we found the internal resources to fight back. We knew that the federal government would refuse to react as they would have had this disease occurred anywhere but among homosexuals. And so we were almost a model of self-help, activism and empowerment. We had nothing to lose any more - and that unleashed a kind of gay power that is the most powerful reason, in my view, for why we have made so much progress so quickly since. . . .
You should go read the rest of his piece.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Better Than Magic

Wow. J. K. Rowling gives the Commencement address at Harvard, four years ago. A powerful statement that you should listen to.

Full text here.

A Fighting Chance

An excerpt from a moving piece in the New York Times written by the father of Anthony Zarillo, one of the plaintiffs in Perry v. Brown, the Prop 8 case:
ONE of the worst days in my son’s life was in November 2008, when a majority of Californians voted in favor of Proposition 8, a ballot measure to change California law in a way that bans marriage for same-sex couples. None of us could believe something like that would pass in California. When it did, I wondered if Jeff and Paul would move from the place they loved and had called home for so long.

They didn’t, though. Nor did they accept the new law and try to blend in as I told Jeff to do all those years ago. Instead, they did something that’s made me as proud as I’ve ever been: they fought back.

Jeff and Paul and two women challenged the law in court, and in a landmark decision two years later, they won: Proposition 8 was declared unconstitutional by a judge in San Francisco. The proponents of Proposition 8 appealed, and Jeff and Paul won that, too.

The United States Court of Appeals recently declined to take up the case before a larger panel, which opened the door for it to head to the Supreme Court. Meanwhile, Jeff and Paul still can’t legally marry.

As this Father’s Day approached, all I could think about was how much I want my son to experience the joys of being a father, how much I want him to marry the person he loves and to raise a family.

For now, he is still waiting, and fighting. I see how much the struggle costs him, how discouraging it is that despite his strength and patience and faith in the system, the ultimate decision rests in the hands of those who have yet to act.

One day soon, though, the powers that be are going to do the right thing. I’m his father, and it’s Father’s Day, so let me believe it. One day soon they’re going to let my brave, beautiful boy walk the same path we all get to take home.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Blessed Are the Merciful

Sir Martin Gilbert, CBE, famed for his monumental biography of Winston Churchill among other distinguished works, speaks at the University of California-San Diego a few years back, sharing stories of "decency, courage, and hope amid the dark night of the Holocaust." 

It's not a formal lecture, but rather, one specific example after another.  I sat here riveted the entire time; perhaps you will too.

Jews driven from the Warsaw Ghetto by Nazi troops, 1943

Pale Blue Dot

Home, from afar:
Earth is the pale blue dot in the middle
of the streak on the righthand side of the photo:
just an eighth of a pixel contains the whole world.
Click to enlarge.

Well, you learn something every day. Although this photo was taken in 1990, when Voyager 1 was already beyond the orbit of Pluto, 3.7 billion miles from home, I never heard of it until today. It's deeply moving, though.

What flashed on me when I looked at it is similar to what the late Carl Sagan writes:
Look again at that dot. That's here. That's home. That's us. On it everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives. The aggregate of our joy and suffering, thousands of confident religions, ideologies, and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilization, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every mother and father, hopeful child, inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every "superstar," every "supreme leader," every saint and sinner in the history of our species lived there – on a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam.

The earth is a very small stage in a vast cosmic arena. Think of the rivers of blood spilled by all those generals and emperors so that in glory and in triumph they could become the momentary masters of a fraction of a dot. Think of the endless cruelties visited by the inhabitants of one corner of the dot on scarcely distinguishable inhabitants of some other corner of the dot. How frequent their misunderstandings, how eager they are to kill one another, how fervent their hatreds. Our posturings, our imagined self-importance, the delusion that we have some privileged position in the universe, are challenged by this point of pale light. Our planet is a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark. In our obscurity – in all this vastness – there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves. It is up to us. It's been said that astronomy is a humbling, and I might add, a character-building experience. To my mind, there is perhaps no better demonstration of the folly of human conceits than this distant image of our tiny world. To me, it underscores our responsibility to deal more kindly and compassionately with one another and to preserve and cherish that pale blue dot, the only home we've ever known.

Sunday Drive: Leader of the Band

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Obama Holds Pride Reception at the White House

Your tax dollars at work in a fabulous way yesterday; transcript here.

The Secretary of State also gave a shout-out for Pride:

As did - OMG - the Secretary of Defense. Just pretty damn amazing to me, boys.

I remember when times were very, very different. As in this trailer for a new documentary in the works, The Lavender Scare - which you should read up on if you don't already know about.

You can read more about the book and about the movie, slated for release this fall.

The important thing is to forgive - but never forget that the witch hunts happened. And could happen again. History shows that the path to the future often takes some strange twists and turns, boys. So never be complacent about your freedom and your civil rights.

Or anybody else's.  If "liberty and justice for all" means anything, it means as Americans, we're all in this together.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Waitin' for the Weekend

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Guest Post: Women Scorned

A guest post kindly contributed by my truckbuddy Tim:

Hi, my name is Tim, and as you will see from my spelling, I started out life in the UK. However, I now reside in Spain, so my stiff upper lip has been given an anarchistic slant from too much Sun and Sangria! I have been asked by our Head Trucker to write a guest post here at Blue Truck, Red State, so here’s hoping I’m equal to the task.

Russ and I have been discussing offline the subject of Universal Truths. Now your Head Trucker was approaching this subject with lofty ideals and good intent. These were going to be the fundamental truths, not limited by time or geography, that come with age and wisdom and would explain the mysteries of life. Well, we might achieve that eventually, but I hope it can be an amusing, if slightly less reverent, journey we take in getting there.

The idea is to propose a Universal Truth, illustrated with examples, on Thursday’s blog, that you take into the long weekend, to test and discuss with your family and friends, the results of which you then comment back to us. So, the first Universal Truth, and it’s a good one, is: “Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned”

Where did that come from? Well now the science part: The full quotation is, “Heaven has no rage like love to hatred turned, nor hell a fury like a woman scorned.” It comes from William Congreve’s tragic drama The Mourning Bride, Act III Scene 2, written in 1697. It means a woman will make someone suffer if they reject or deride her.

And our first example is Herodias who famously used her dancing daughter Salome to obtain the head of John the Baptist after he publicly criticised her marriage to King Herod. After that everyone thought the wedding was a great idea!

Next we have Queen Elizabeth the First, working out her frustration at her unconsummated love affair with Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester, and his secret marriage to one of Elizabeth’s ladies-in-waiting, Lettice Knollys, who was banned from ever appearing before the Queen again; and Robert got at least one stupendous tongue-lashing from his offended monarch. As she said, “Who’s Queen?”

Moving on in time, the life-long bitter feud between Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon (later HM the Queen Mother), and Wallis Simpson, over who was to blame for the abdication of the Duke of Windsor (briefly Edward VIII), which lasted for years.

Crossing the pond to America, we find Elin Nordegren getting her own back husband, Tiger Woods, who had been potting other holes in one. Whether she really hit him and his car with a nine iron we may never know, but the divorce settlement cost him $100 million, and shareholders billions in lost sponsorship franchise.

There are many more stories, some painful, some funny, and some quite tragic: Lorena vs. Wayne, Hillary vs. Bill, Di vs. Chas, Carol and Stacey vs. Tim (sorry, sorry, sorry....). And it’s not just a man vs. woman thing. From my own experience, if my mother thought she had been slighted by another woman, they would thereafter be referred to as “That woman” or “That female”! Men somehow seem to get over these things more easily and without bearing long lasting grudges, so is it a feminine trait, what do you think?

Blue Truck readers are invited to respond in the comments section.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

You Are Not Special

Finally, somebody tells today's oh-so-cool, culturally-aware, massively-entitled, pampered-to-death high-school graduates the truth. David McCullough, Jr., English teacher and son of a renowned historian, delivers a witty commencement address at Wellesley High School, near Boston. Excerpt:

Contrary to what your u9 soccer trophy suggests, your glowing seventh grade report card, despite every assurance of a certain corpulent purple dinosaur, that nice Mister Rogers and your batty Aunt Sylvia, no matter how often your maternal caped crusader has swooped in to save you . . . you’re nothing special.

Yes, you’ve been pampered, cosseted, doted upon, helmeted, bubble-wrapped. Yes, capable adults with other things to do have held you, kissed you, fed you, wiped your mouth, wiped your bottom, trained you, taught you, tutored you, coached you, listened to you, counseled you, encouraged you, consoled you and encouraged you again. You’ve been nudged, cajoled, wheedled and implored. You’ve been feted and fawned over and called sweetie pie. Yes, you have. And, certainly, we’ve been to your games, your plays, your recitals, your science fairs. Absolutely, smiles ignite when you walk into a room, and hundreds gasp with delight at your every tweet. Why, maybe you’ve even had your picture in the Townsman! And now you’ve conquered high school . . . and, indisputably, here we all have gathered for you, the pride and joy of this fine community, the first to emerge from that magnificent new building . . . .

But do not get the idea you’re anything special. Because you’re not.

The empirical evidence is everywhere, numbers even an English teacher can’t ignore. Newton, Natick, Nee . . . I am allowed to say Needham, yes? . . . that has to be two thousand high school graduates right there, give or take, and that’s just the neighborhood Ns. Across the country no fewer than 3.2 million seniors are graduating about now from more than 37,000 high schools. That’s 37,000 valedictorians . . . 37,000 class presidents . . . 92,000 harmonizing altos . . . 340,000 swaggering jocks… 2,185,967 pairs of Uggs. But why limit ourselves to high school? After all, you’re leaving it. So think about this: even if you’re one in a million, on a planet of 6.8 billion that means there are nearly 7,000 people just like you. Imagine standing somewhere over there on Washington Street on Marathon Monday and watching sixty-eight hundred yous go running by. And consider for a moment the bigger picture: your planet, I’ll remind you, is not the center of its solar system, your solar system is not the center of its galaxy, your galaxy is not the center of the universe. In fact, astrophysicists assure us the universe has no center; therefore, you cannot be it. Neither can Donald Trump . . . which someone should tell him . . . although that hair is quite a phenomenon.

Full text here.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Out of the Box

A powerful, joyful, deeply moving film about trans people from Integrity USA, the LGBT group of the Episcopal Church. I've been wanting to see something like this by and for trans people for a long time, it's very well done.

Honk to my truckbuddy Frank at Reluctant Rebel for finding and posting this first.

Send Old-Fashioned Santa to Congress!

My little rant last week against British assininity has attracted some comment both on- and off-blog. However, longtime truckbuddies know well that I have never hesitated to spare the rod when it comes to our own home-grown American fuckheadism, either.

And as a case in point - oh, but Rachel says it so much better than I can:

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Sunday Drive: Smile

Today would have been Judy Garland's 90th birthday.  In her honor, here's a song from her performance at the London Palladium in November, 1964:

Saturday, June 9, 2012

This Week in Marriage News

This week, three steps forward and two steps back for marriage equality:

Another Federal appeals court found section 3 of DOMA unconstitutional, in the Edie Windsor case I've blogged about before. Here's Edie thanking her supporters:

Also, in the Perry v. Brown case, the federal Ninth Circuit appeals court turned down a request by anti-gay proponents to have the case reheard by the full 11-member court; a three-member panel in February of this year upheld the finding of a lower federal court that California's Prop 8, which in 2008 took away from gays and lesbians the right to marry in that state, was unconstitutional.  The anti-gay side has 90 days in which to appeal the case to the U. S. Supreme Court.

And in far-away Denmark, the first country in the world to authorize same-sex registered partnerships back in 1989, their parliament has voted 85-24 to enact same-sex marriage, which will begin on June 15.

Elsewhere, though, the struggle goes on: in both Maryland and Washington state, anti-gay forces have submitted enough signatures to subject those states' recently-enacted equal-marriage laws to referendums in November.  In no state so far have voters ever approved same-sex marriage.

But hey, there's got to be a first time somewhere, right?  So we'll keep our fingers crossed.

But consider this New Yorker piece that discusses the ramifications of the marriage struggle on the presidential election, and vice-versa.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Waitin' for the Weekend

The Transit of Venus

As filmed by NASA in four different wavelengths of light. Won't happen again till 2117, so it's a rare and awesome sight.

Also, just for fun - this 1893 map of the Earth, which purports to show that the literal words of the Bible are superior to all scientific calculations. Right. Dude was totally serious, too.

Click to enlarge

And one last note:  Ray Bradbury, dean of science-fiction writers, died at age 91 on Tuesday.  He wrote many wonderful stories that I loved as a boy, including The Martian Chronicles, a 1950's vision of the first colonies on the Red Planet.

We know too damn much now to take them as probable fact, which is a pity.  But if you haven't ever read any of the stories in that collection - do.   They are classics of the genre, and Bradbury is a master storyteller who will keep your fingers turning the pages and will make your imagination bloom.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

You Just Can't Win

While the rest of the world looks on admiringly, the stalwart British public
turns out in the hundreds of thousands to pay their respects to the Queen
and show how much they care about their Royal Family.

As a public service, your Head Trucker would like to present the following items to illustrate the fickleness of crowds and the treachery of human nature:

(1)  Prince Charles: At ease with himself and the nation
The Diamond Jubilee celebrations have revealed a new and more loveable Prince of Wales who caught the public mood brilliantly. . . .

(2)  Prince of Wales presents a real danger to the monarchy
We know far too much about the Prince's foibles and past errors to revere him as we revere his mother. . . .

Both articles appeared in the same goddamn newspaper - the Telegraph - in the last 24 hours, with the last echoes of "God Save the Queen" still reverberating in the air over Britain. 

Which just goes to prove the truth of the utterance by the first Queen Elizabeth:  All affection is false.  And she knew what she was talking about.

I won't bother to analyze each article for you - you guys can read, can't you? - only to observe in passing that the first is based on an utterly false premise (i.e., that Charles has somehow had a magical change of personality in the last week, when this distant and disinterested observer can discern no change whatever in the way he's always been these last forty years or more).

The second, at bottom, is based on the unremitting woman-scorned attitude that utterly refuses to let Diana rest in peace.  The writer asks if she can be the only one who wondered "what that woman was doing in the Queen's carriage."  Which tells you all you need to know about the writer, who has spent the last few days turning out breathless encomiums on all the Queen's saintly virtues - and does not understand a single one of them.

To which I would only add, if Diana's own sons don't hold a grudge, who the hell are you to do so?  And just what kind of hell and high water has your own stumbling family been through?  And why don't 60 million of your fellow countrymen get to gossip all to hell and back about every single sin you've committed, in minute and intimate detail? World without end, amen.

Without saying a word, seems to me, the Queen made things perfectly clear this weekend what the programme is.  Just for the record, and to reassure all my British and Commonwealth truckbuddies, here is how it's all going down.  There is no point pissing and moaning about it, because there's just no point:

1.  No, the Queen will never abdicate.
2.  No, the succession will not skip a generation.
3.  Yes, Charles will be the next King and
4.  Yes, Camilla will be Queen - not Princess, not Duchess, but Queen.
5.  Barring unforeseen calamity, Wills and Kate will not reach the throne until they are a boring middle-aged couple that your kids will see no relevance in, until they get to be certified antiques too.

And that's it.  If you British bitches don't like it, well then - change it and be done with it, for fuck's sake.  God knows we Americans have amply proven that a monarchy is not a necessary thing, and so have the French.  Go ahead and get it over with:  pension the Queen off, give her a council flat in Bayswater, a commemorative tea cosy, and a nice thank-you card.  Then turn all the royal palaces into museums, or better yet, pull them down and build some nice, new football arenas and shopping malls.  Or, ooh, casinos! Screw Monte Carlo, just think what a shot in the arm that would be for your economy.

And maybe reserve some flats for various sheiklets willing to pay top dollar to live like Real English Gentlemen while their sons are at Eton and Harrow. It's all about having the right address, isn't it? And a golden statue of Diana and Dodi, together forever atop the former Victoria Monument. I mean, the Exchequer could use the cash, couldn't it? Then you could really tell Brussels to bugger off, and mean it.

Or consider long-term leases to multinational corporations. Wouldn't it be, like, totally cool to see a pair of Golden Arches stretching across what used to be Buckingham Palace? Or a giant KFC bucket rotating over Windsor Castle? Just think of the ad money and tax money your Inland Revenue could squeeze out of those deals. You could balance the budget in a trice, kit out the whole Fleet with new rowboats, and still have enough left over to pay poor little Princess Samantha the million quid she's owed as compensation for all the emotional pain and suffering of having to lower herself and wear an actual hat in public.

The Queen will be very disappointed, of course, but you know the old girl will buck up and obey your bidding as dutifully as she always has. I'm sure that nice Julian ("I-want-my-wife's-grandfather's-peerage") Fellowes could be prevailed upon to give her a bit part in Downton Abbey, to keep her occupied and feeling useful. Head housekeeper, perhaps, with Philip as the crusty old head gardener. (Wouldn't the Guardian pee all over itself?) And wouldn't it be kinder to let her know how you really feel, now, instead of giving her false hope for the continuing loyalty of her so-called subjects to her family and dynasty?

She won't try to stop you, you know.  As far back as 1969, Philip said in a famous American interview (maybe you didn't catch that one):  "We'll go quietly." And they would, too. They'd have no choice. Ever since 1689, you've been pulling the strings on the monarchy, and not the other way round. They did teach you that in school, didn't they?

While you're at it, you might as well go ahead and dismantle the Church of England too - and that will be such fun, gobbling up all that lovely, centrally-located property and repurposing it for pubs and betting offices and nail salons, etc. - Henry VIII would tell you that.  And for good measure, why not just go whole hog and rebrand the entire country - or what's left to you after the Scots and the Welsh and the Cornish and who knows who else, maybe Manchester United, get done carving it up.  Also, stop saying "British" this and "British" that - it's so old-fashioned, isn't it now?  And really rather racist too, when you stop and think about it.  I'm sure I heard Ed Miliband say that just the other day.

While you're at it, why not come up with a whole new name and logo for the country?  (I mean, lions and unicorns, seriously?  So last-millennium, isn't it?)  Utopia's been done, and Cool Britannia was a flop, but I'm sure if you all put your heads together, say at your next big karaoke party, you can come up with something really flash.  And then won't life be grand?  With no sodding monarchy to hold you back, exorting that crushing 77 pence a year from each and every one of you, why, England could become as great as . . . mmm . . . Alabama, maybe!   With nukes.  I can't wait to hear that phrase roll off President Blair's lips.

Or if you don't want to do all that - at least quit bitching about your own Royal Family.  Just as with your own relations that you didn't get to choose either, you get what you get, and that's life.  Deal with it.  It's like the wife who always runs down her husband, or the husband who always criticizes his wife in public.  It reveals so much more about the speaker than the object of the whining.  And what it reveals is really ugly.  You want a divorce, go get one, and more power to you.  But while you're together, don't advertise how unhappy you are:  it just makes you look fucking rude. Not to mention really rather dim.

Oh, and I forgot to add the last item on the list:

(6)  Yes, the Queen will be received straight into Heaven when she dies.  Because nobody else, and I mean nobody, would have put up with all you moaning bitches for half as long.  Oh yes, you saw the fireworks and the rock stars and the miles of bunting, and squealed with delight like teenage groupies - but this is the one essential thing that you lot, in the media at least, still haven't seen.

A life of heroic virtue, indeed.  You couldn't pay me enough to take the job.  Not even.

Tired Old Queen at the Movies: The Best of Everything

Steve Hayes reviews the 1959 film:
Three career girls, Hope Lange, Suzy Parker, and Diane Baker, attempt to survive the New York publishing world, bad love affairs, and the asphalt jungle in Jean Negulesco's THE BEST OF EVERYTHING. Taken from a trashy bestseller in the tradition of "Peyton Place," shot on location in glorious Technicolor and Cinemascope, it's a glamorous tale concerning the lure of New York on young girls with big dreams, as they experience their first tastes of life, love, and loss in "the Big City." Various obstacles along the way include conniving suitors; Louis Jourdan and Robert Evans, lecherous wolves; Brian Aherne and bitchy bosses. The bitchiest being Joan Crawford, chewing up the scenery along with the competition in her first co-starring role and one of the best reasons to catch THE BEST OF EVERYTHING.

Catch more fabulous movie reviews at Steve's YouTube channel.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Whatever Revs Your Engine

Chevrolet celebrates Pride month with this advertisement.  Gotta love it.

click to enlarge

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Even the Rains Held Off for Her Majesty

I have to say that this morning's service of thanksgiving in St. Paul's Cathedral was the most low-key royal event I've ever witnessed.  (See the Order of Service here.)  It really fell flat for me; no carriages, no great crowds (some, but not nearly what there was for Charles and Diana's wedding in the same church), almost no familiar, memorable music apart from "Old 100th" and "Guide Me, O Thou Great Jehovah"; and no particular sense of moment.  I wonder if any of my truckbuddies who watched it felt the same?

Of course, it was very poignant to see the Queen trudging up the steps alone, without Philip at her side; and during the service, she looked very solemn, it seemed to me, and I can understand why.

In any case, it was certainly all very different from Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee service there; but perhaps that was intentional on this Queen's part, for whatever reason.  Here are highlights of the service:

On the other hand, when the Queen and her small royal party returned from lunch at Westminster Hall in the carriages, surrounded by Her Majesty's Life Guards and the Blues and Royals - well now, that was more like it. As one commenter on a news page put it, viewing the awesome procession: "you sure wouldn't want to look up and see the Queen's cavalry bearing down on you with swords drawn." Quite.

Yet all was peace and joy on the Mall today, the Good Lord having apparently scattered all Her Majesty's enemies, confounded their knavish tricks, and even - Deo gratia - restrained the rains long enough not only for the cavalcade but also for the thrilling fly-past of Spitfires, Hurricanes, and Lancaster bomber as well as the glorious red, white, and blue contrails of the famed Red Devils, all of whom appeared exactly on time to salute the Queen as she stood on the balcony of Buckingham Palace, to the rapturous cheers of the crowds gathered below.

And so, with the good news that the Duke of Edinburgh was feeling a bit better and had watched today's proceedings on television in his hospital room, the Diamond Jubilee celebrations drew to a close, leaving all of Britain and much of the rest of the world with colorful memories and a renewed appreciation of the bonds of affection that link Crown and People.

When you consider the everlasting corruption and infighting of politics, a Sovereign who is above all that seems like a mighty good thing.  It wouldn't work over here, of course, but still this American has no hesitation in saying with all his heart - God Save the Queen!

Bonus: Her Majesty's typically very low-key message of thanks to the nation and the Commonwealth:

For comparison, consider the message of thanks sent winging round the world via telegraph to every corner of her far-flung Empire by Queen Victoria - at heart a passionate, romantic soul, unlike her no-nonsense great-great-granddaughter - at her Diamond Jubilee in 1897:
From my heart, I thank my beloved people. May God bless them!

I don't doubt that the present Queen feels the same way, but she just can't say it in those words. Bless her.

The Queen's Home Movies

A very young Prince Charles and Princess Anne
being held by their parents circa 1951

Many thanks to my truckbuddy Davis for sending me the link to A Jubilee Tribute to the Queen by the Prince of Wales - which is that program shown on the BBC the other night that I blogged about, with many delightful scenes from the Queen's home movies from the 1950's.

I think these intimate scenes of family life bring home vividly the ordinary humanity of an extraordinary woman - something your Head Trucker discerned many years ago - which makes her sixty years' reign an even more remarkable story.  Enjoy.

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