Saturday, March 14, 2009

12 Failures and Schemes that Lead to Current Multi Trillion $$ Bush Depression

Hat tip to: AlterNet

While somewhat lengthy for this pithy-striving blog, this IS WELL WORTH THE READ.

Thanks, Tadpole for calling my attention to this analysis!

$5 billion in lobbying to Congress got the finance industry lucrative legislative favors that paved the way for Wall Street's devastating collapse.

What can $5Billion buy in Washington?

Quite a lot.

Over the 1998-2008 period, the financial sector spent more than $5 billion on U.S. federal campaign contributions and lobbying expenditures.
This extraordinary investment paid off fabulously. Congress and executive agencies rolled back long-standing regulatory restraints, refused to impose new regulations on rapidly evolving and mushrooming areas of finance, and shunned calls to enforce rules still in place.

"Sold Out: How Wall Street and Washington Betrayed America," a report released by Essential Information and the Consumer Education Foundation (and which I co-authored), details a dozen crucial deregulatory moves over the last decade -- each a direct response to heavy lobbying from Wall Street and the broader financial sector, as the report details. (The report is available at: Combined, these deregulatory moves helped pave the way for the current financial meltdown.

Here are 12 deregulatory steps to financial meltdown:

1. The repeal of Glass-Steagall

The Financial Services Modernization Act of 1999 formally repealed the Glass-Steagall Act of 1933 and related rules, which prohibited banks from offering investment, commercial banking, and insurance services. In 1998, Citibank and Travelers Group merged on the expectation that Glass-Steagall would be repealed. Then they set out, successfully, to make it so. The subsequent result was the infusion of the investment bank speculative culture into the world of commercial banking. The 1999 repeal of Glass-Steagall helped create the conditions in which banks invested monies from checking and savings accounts into creative financial instruments such as mortgage-backed securities and credit default swaps, investment gambles that led many of the banks to ruin and rocked the financial markets in 2008.

2. Off-the-books accounting for banks

Holding assets off the balance sheet generally allows companies to avoid disclosing “toxic” or money-losing assets to investors in order to make the company appear more valuable than it is. Accounting rules -- lobbied for by big banks -- permitted the accounting fictions that continue to obscure banks' actual condition.

3. CFTC blocked from regulating derivatives

Financial derivatives are unregulated. By all accounts this has been a disaster, as Warren Buffett's warning that they represent "weapons of mass financial destruction" has proven prescient -- they have amplified the financial crisis far beyond the unavoidable troubles connected to the popping of the housing bubble. During the Clinton administration, the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) sought to exert regulatory control over financial derivatives, but the agency was quashed by opposition from Robert Rubin and Fed Chair Alan Greenspan.

4. Formal financial derivative deregulation: the Commodities Futures Modernization Act

The deregulation -- or non-regulation -- of financial derivatives was sealed in 2000, with the Commodities Futures Modernization Act. Its passage orchestrated by the industry-friendly Senator Phil Gramm, the Act prohibits the CFTC from regulating financial derivatives. 5. SEC removes capital limits on investment banks and the voluntary regulation regime

In 1975, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) promulgated a rule requiring investment banks to maintain a debt to-net capital ratio of less than 15 to 1. In simpler terms, this limited the amount of borrowed money the investment banks could use. In 2004, however, the SEC succumbed to a push from the big investment banks -- led by Goldman Sachs, and its then-chair, Henry Paulson -- and authorized investment banks to develop net capital requirements based on their own risk assessment models. With this new freedom, investment banks pushed ratios to as high as 40 to 1. This super-leverage not only made the investment banks more vulnerable when the housing bubble popped, it enabled the banks to create a more tangled mess of derivative investments -- so that their individual failures, or the potential of failure, became systemic crises.

6. Basel II weakening of capital reserve requirements for banks

Rules adopted by global bank regulators -- known as Basel II, and heavily influenced by the banks themselves -- would let commercial banks rely on their own internal risk-assessment models (exactly the same approach as the SEC took for investment banks). Luckily, technical challenges and intra-industry disputes about Basel II have delayed implementation -- hopefully permanently -- of the regulatory scheme.

7. No predatory lending enforcement

Even in a deregulated environment, the banking regulators retained authority to crack down on predatory lending abuses. Such enforcement activity would have protected homeowners, and lessened though not prevented the current financial crisis. But the regulators sat on their hands. The Federal Reserve took three formal actions against subprime lenders from 2002 to 2007. The Office of Comptroller of the Currency, which has authority over almost 1,800 banks, took three consumer-protection enforcement actions from 2004 to 2006.

8. Federal preemption of state enforcement against predatory lending

When the states sought to fill the vacuum created by federal non-enforcement of consumer protection laws against predatory lenders, the Feds -- responding to commercial bank petitions -- jumped to attention to stop them. The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency and the Office of Thrift Supervision each prohibited states from enforcing consumer protection rules against nationally chartered banks.

9. Blocking the courthouse doors: Assignee Liability Escape

Under the doctrine of “assignee liability,” anyone profiting from predatory lending practices should be held financially accountable, including Wall Street investors who bought bundles of mortgages (even if the investors had no role in abuses committed by mortgage originators). With some limited exceptions, however, assignee liability does not apply to mortgage loans, however. Representative Bob Ney -- a great friend of financial interests, and who subsequently went to prison in connection with the Abramoff scandal -- worked hard, and successfully, to ensure this effective immunity was maintained.

10. Fannie and Freddie enter subprime

. . .Fannie and Freddie are not responsible for the financial crisis. They are responsible for their own demise, and the resultant massive taxpayer liability. . . . In fact, the motivation was the for-profit nature of the institutions and their particular executive incentive schemes. . . . .Massive lobbying -- including especially but not only of Democratic friends of the institutions -- enabled them to divert from their traditional exclusive focus on prime loans.

11. Merger mania

The effective abandonment of antitrust and related regulatory principles over the last two decades has enabled a remarkable concentration in the banking sector, even in advance of recent moves to combine firms as a means to preserve the functioning of the financial system. The megabanks achieved too-big-to-fail status. While this should have meant they be treated as public utilities requiring heightened regulation and risk control, other deregulatory maneuvers (including repeal of Glass-Steagall) enabled them to combine size, explicit and implicit federal guarantees, and reckless high-risk investments.

12. Credit rating agency failure

With Wall Street packaging mortgage loans into pools of securitized assets and then slicing them into tranches, the resultant financial instruments were attractive to many buyers because they promised high returns. But pension funds and other investors could only enter the game if the securities were highly rated.

The credit rating agencies enabled these investors to enter the game, by attaching high ratings to securities that actually were high risk -- as subsequent events have revealed. The credit rating agencies have a bias to offering favorable ratings to new instruments because of their complex relationships with issuers, and their desire to maintain and obtain other business dealings with issuers.

This institutional failure and conflict of interest might and should have been forestalled by the SEC, but the Credit Rating Agencies Reform Act of 2006 gave the SEC insufficient oversight authority. In fact, the SEC must give an approval rating to credit ratings agencies if they are adhering to their own standards -- even if the SEC knows those standards to be flawed.

From a financial regulatory standpoint, what should be done going forward? The first step is certainly to undo what Wall Street has wrought. More in future columns on an affirmative agenda to restrain the financial sector. None of this will be easy, however. Wall Street may be disgraced, but it is not prostrate. Financial sector lobbyists continue to roam the halls of Congress, former Wall Street executives have high positions in the Obama administration, and financial sector propagandists continue to warn of the dangers of interfering with "financial innovation."

Today in Gay History

Happy Birthday
March 14th

Sylvia Beach (1887-1962)

Through her Parisian bookshop and her editorial work, American expatriate and lesbian Sylvia Beach did much to influence the course of modern literature.

Beach was born Nancy Woodbridge Beach to Sylvester Woodbridge Beach, a Presbyterian minister in Bridgeton, New Jersey, and his wife Eleanor Orbison. Nancy changed her name to Sylvia when she was a teenager. Sylvia left the parsonage in Princeton for a career in Paris, where she had lived during her impressionable teenage years, when her father had been an assistant pastor at the American Church.

Beach opened an English-language lending library and bookshop in Paris on the Left Bank with the encouragement of her friend and lover, Adrienne Monnier, who owned La Maison des Amis des Livres. For two decades, they dominated French-Anglo-Irish-American literary relations.

Shakespeare and Company distributed a dozen expatriate little reviews, found publishers and translators, and offered readings by such literary figures as T. S. Eliot, Paul Valery, André Gide, and André Maurois. It was a clubhouse, bank, library, post office, publishing company, and confessional for two decades between the world wars.

Beach's greatest achievement was to publish a score of editions of James Joyce's Ulysses when it was available nowhere else in the world. She also published his Pomes Penyeach (1927) and Our Exagmination Round His Factification for Incamination of Work in Progress (1929), essays analyzing Finnegans Wake, which had not yet been published.

Out of a sense of privacy bred in the parsonage, Beach did not talk openly of her love relationship with Monnier. In fact, both women were discreet, though not secretive, about their sexual relationship. Yet the example of their loyal and loving relationship speaks for itself. The strength of their union, their willingness to share difficult work, and the historical timing of their bookshops placed them in a position to influence the course of modern literature on two continents.


Friday, March 13, 2009

Pardonne-moi ce caprice d'enfant

It loses a lot rendered in English.
Mireille is one of Crapaud's favorites.

Her resonant charm is so reminiscent of La Petite Piaff!
Ah, the romance! Héla la joie!

Today in Gay History

March 13, 1994
Martina Navratilova and Judy Nelson
settle their galamony suit

Navratilova is one of the most successful professional tennis players of all time.

In her autobiography, Being Myself, Navratilova disclosed that she had romantic crushes on teachers of both sexes and, later, felt strongly attracted to other female tennis players.

In 1981, shortly after being granted U.S. citizenship, Navratilova came out publicly about her sexual orientation. During the early 1980s, she was involved with author Rita-Mae Brown. From 1984 to 1991, Navratilova had a long-term relationship with partner Judy Nelson. Their split in 1991 included a much-publicized legal wrangle which finally reached legal settlement on March 13, 1994.

Navratilova is instrumental in various charities that benefit animal rights, underprivileged children, and gay rights. She filed a lawsuit against a 1992 ballot proposition in Colorado designed to deny gays and lesbians legal protection from discrimination. In the same year, she spoke before the National March on Washington for Gay and Lesbian Rights.


Thursday, March 12, 2009

Transgendered Folk Marginalized Again

H/T to Mimi for the inspiration:

Jennifer Gale was a homeless transgender activist found dead on the streets of Austin Texas in December 2008.

The story of her sad demise here from
the Austin press:

Austin icon and perennial mayoral candidate Jennifer Gale was found dead Wednesday morning.

Gale was known as a quirky Austin personality. She ran for mayor several times, and had already filed paperwork in the 2009 race.

Gale’s body was found outside the First English Lutheran Church, 3001 Whitis Avenue, which is north of the UT campus between Guadalupe Street and Speedway Street. Firefighters received a call around 7:30 a.m., and crews preformed CPR for 30 to 45 minutes without any response.

Austin EMS Director Ernie Rodriquez said Gale died from cardiac arrest. While they are not certain, EMS workers believe cold may have been a contributing factor.

The transgendered formerly homeless marine last sought the mayoral seat in 2006, where, according to City records, she gained 6.7 percent of the vote.

See this link for story of how marginalized transgender people are: The television stations in Minneapolis-St. Paul completely missed the transgender angle where the offensive "flyer" stated the blood drive was to be held at the "Jennifer Gale Church."

planetransgender: "Jennifer Gale" blood drive Twin Cities Criminal Defames Gay and Transexual people


From Actor Alec Baldwin; Another Entertainer's Take on Rush Limbaugh

Last week on Huffington Post:

I am an actor and someone employed in the entertainment business. I have my own opinions about how this government should be run and how disgracefully it has been run by both parties. I want to give it as hard as I can to those who willingly seek political roles and disgrace their office and, conversely, commend those who, in my opinion, behave commendably. I express those opinions un-self-consciously while never believing for one minute that they will influence anyone or anything. I do it as an American. For me, it's an American thing.

I am not the head of my Party.

Image H/T Wizard of Whimsy----+

Rush Limbaugh is an uneducated, marginally talented, overbearing, recovering drug addict who was, at least according to Wikipedia, ineligible for the draft because he had cysts on his ass.

I have dear friends of mine who represent real Republicans. Goldwater Republicans. Strong on defense. Tough on immigration. Fiscal conservatives. Not the bullshit Reagan wing of the party which, along with Clinton killing Glass-Steagall, brought us to where we are today.

My friends who are these real Republicans (not hypocritical evangelicals who are too lazy to raise their own children properly so, therefore, insist that all public institutions and policies bend to their will to make that job easier) do not listen to Limbaugh. They don't care what he says. They think he is an amusing entertainer. Like most progressives I know are well aware how hit-and-miss Michael Moore can be and, ultimately view him as an entertainer and don't give a damn what he says.

Until Limbaugh gets real, weans himself off the big salary and runs for office, he will always be nothing more than a poorly educated, marginally talented buffoon who has developed a real talent for manipulating the G-spot of the neocon consciousness and massaging the hate gland of so many economically displaced white voters in America.

I hope to God the GOP gets its act together soon and finds a real leader for their Party. Rush Limbaugh as the spokesperson for the GOP? 2010, I can't wait.


Today in Gay History

Happy Birthday

Edward Albee, Playwright, b. March 12, 1928

Edward Albee holds a problematic position in the histories of American drama and of gay drama. For a handful of years, he seemed to be the heir to the late Eugene O'Neill and to Arthur Miller and Tennessee Williams, who had, by the early 1960s, lost their winning streaks. However, Albee was something of a has-been by the mid-1960s, due largely to the self-loathing gay mafia/media in the '60s and '70s.

A less than diligent student, he later dedicated much of his time to promoting American university theatre, frequently speaking at campuses and serving as a distinguished professor at the University of Houston from 1989 to 2003.

Albee's best known popular work is probably, Who's Afraid of Virginia Wolf (1961-62). He later received three Pulitzer Prizes for Drama — for A Delicate Balance (1967), Seascape (1975), and Three Tall Women (1994); ; the Gold Medal in Drama from the American Academy and Institutes of Arts and Letters (1980); recognition in the Kennedy Center Honors (1996) and the National Medal of the Arts(1996); and a Special Tony Award for Lifetime Achievement (2005).

Albee's longtime partner, Jonathan Thomas, a sculptor, died on May 2, 2005, the result of a two year-long battle with bladder cancer.


Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Time for this Arrogant Ass to Go

GOP senator flips out at airline, sets off security alarm

H/T to Têtard for this from Raw Story:

The Republican senator who found himself on a DC madam's client list is drawing new attention over "impulse control."
After missing a flight last Thursday from Washington to New Orleans,
Louisiana Sen. David Vitter opened an armed security door and went off on a United Airlines employee, according to a report filed Wednesday by (paid-restricted) Roll Call.

The door sounded a security alarm.

Vitter had arrived at the gate for a flight from Dulles Airport, only to find that the door had been closed twenty minutes prior to departure.

After setting off the security alarm, the Louisiana senator proceeded to dress down an airline employee who told him entering the restricted area was forbidden. He invoked his standing as a senator, delivering a "do-you-know-who-I-am" tirade, the paper said.

The airline worker then announced he was going to summon security.

"Vitter, according to the witness, remained defiant, yelling that the employee could call the police if he wanted to and their supervisors, who, presumably, might be more impressed with his Senators pin," the paper's Heard on the Hill column noted. "But after talking a huffy big game, (ain't that his modus operandi) Vitter apparently thought better of pushing the confrontation any further. When the gate attendant left to find a security guard, Vitter turned tail and simply fled the scene."

The paper joked that Vitter, 47, had joined the "mile-low club," and said that there's a "proud tradition" of US lawmakers devolving into temper tantrums at airports.

Reached for comment by Roll Call, Vitter's spokeperson did not dispute the incident.


Connecticut Catholic Church's Cynical Cussedness Confounds Charity

Brought to Us By:

Concerned that the state's new same-sex marriage law would infringe on religious liberties, the Connecticut Catholic Conference today proposed some broad exemptions which it believes are necessary to protect those rights.

The law does not require Catholic priests -- or any other clergy member -- to preside over same-sex weddings. (or any church to let its premises for any wedding)

However, the church is seeking additional exemptions. For instance, it wants to ensure that a florist opposed to gay marriage on religious grounds not be forced to sell flowers to a same-sex couple. (or a Baker, cakes; or a Stationer printed invitations; or a Planner planning, etc.)

"Same-sex couples have their liberties protected fully. Religious people are wondering 'how is this going to effect (SIC) me?"' David Reynolds, lobbyist for the Catholic Church, told members of the legislature's judiciary committee.

"A situation has been created....where state policy seriously conflicts with the religious beliefs of a large number of the citizens of the state," Reynolds said. He cited examples in other states where businesspeople opposed to gay marriage have faced legal action because they declined to provide goods or services to gay couples. (Crapaud says they ought to read the US Constitution)

In October, the state Supreme Court ruled that gay and lesbian couples had the right to marry and a month later, Connecticut became the second state to legally recognize same-sex marriage.

The legislature is now codifying the court's decision, adjusting existing statutes to make sure they comport with the court's ruling.

Anne Stanback, executive director of Love Makes a Family, said the bill before the committee simply makes sure the state's laws are in line with the court ruling. "Marriage equally is the law in Connecticut and this will not make it any more legal,' she said.

The judiciary committee hearing is likely the final chance opponents will have to put up obstacles to gay marriage. But several lawmakers oppose extending the religious exemption. Sen. John Kissel is Catholic and has long shared his church's opposition to gay marriage.

"I've been with you guys all along," said Kissel, a Republican from Enfield. But, "we're at a fork in the road and I have to let go of your hand."

A law preventing a Catholic caterer from serving guests at a same-sex marriage could also be used by a Protestant baker who doesn't want to sell a cake to a Catholic father for his son's first communion, Kissel said. "It could just as easily turn against each and every Catholic in the state of Connecticut."

Crapaud says:
Logic or fairness (or even charity?) rarely seem to impact Roman Catholic theology in action these days.


Today in Gay History

March 11, 1957 -
Lady Chablis
, American entertainer

The Lady Chablis prevailed in the contest for recognition in this space today over writer Jack Kerouac, also born this date in 1934. (He hated his real first name, Jean-Louis, and claimed to be a bisexual despite 2 brief failed marriages to women and always downplayed his homosexual liaisons with Gore Vidal and others.)

But I digress. The Lady Chablis, pictured above in full drag, was born Benjamin Edward Knox in Quincy, Florida.
Her early career highlights include the following Southern Regional fame:

In her early career as an entertainer, including very early under the names Brenda Dale Knox and The Lady Jonel, she won multiple titles in drag pageantry including:

Miss Dixieland 1976, Miss Gay World 1976, The Grand Empress of Savannah 1977, Miss Sweetheart International 1989, Empress of Atlanta 1996, Miss Cosmo U.S. 1997, Miss Garden City 1997, Miss Atlanta Universe 1998, Miss Georgia National 1998, Miss Southern States USA 1998

She came to national fame in 1997 by stealing the show in the movie, Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, as the would-be love interest of the journalist portrayed by John Cusack. Openly closeted actor Kevin Spacey played a gay scion of Savannah society, but Lady Chablis' honesty won the hearts of audiences everywhere.

Happy Birthday, Lady Chablis Deveau!


Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Is Big Gov'ment Bad, Small Gov'ment Good?

An Example of what Even Small Government Can Accomplish--Get out of the way ideologically!

(Transcript of)

East Room, The White House, Washington, DC
11:47 A.M. EDT Monday March 9, 2009

THE PRESIDENT: Thank you. Please, have a seat. Thank you much. Well, I'm excited too. (Laughter.)

Today, with the executive order I am about to sign, we will bring the change that so many scientists and researchers, doctors and innovators, patients and loved ones have hoped for, and fought for, these past eight years: We will lift the ban on federal funding for promising embryonic stem cell research. (Applause.) We will also vigorously support scientists who pursue this research. (Applause.) And we will aim for America to lead the world in the discoveries it one day may yield.

At this moment, the full promise of stem cell research remains unknown, and it should not be overstated. But scientists believe these tiny cells may have the potential to help us understand, and possibly cure, some of our most devastating diseases and conditions: to regenerate a severed spinal cord and lift someone from a wheelchair; to spur insulin production and spare a child from a lifetime of needles; to treat Parkinson's, cancer, heart disease and others that affect millions of Americans and the people who love them.

But that potential will not reveal itself on its own. Medical miracles do not happen simply by accident. They result from painstaking and costly research, from years of lonely trial and error, much of which never bears fruit, and from a government willing to support that work. From life-saving vaccines, to pioneering cancer treatments, to the sequencing of the human genome -- that is the story of scientific progress in America. When government fails to make these investments, opportunities are missed. Promising avenues go unexplored. Some of our best scientists leave for other countries that will sponsor their work. And those countries may surge ahead of ours in the advances that transform our lives.

In recent years, when it comes to stem cell research, rather than furthering discovery, our government has forced what I believe is a false choice between sound science and moral values. In this case, I believe the two are not inconsistent. As a person of faith, I believe we are called to care for each other and work to ease human suffering. I believe we have been given the capacity and will to pursue this research -- and the humanity and conscience to do so responsibly.

It's a difficult and delicate balance. And many thoughtful and decent people are conflicted about, or strongly oppose, this research. And I understand their concerns, and I believe that we must respect their point of view.

But after much discussion, debate and reflection, the proper course has become clear. The majority of Americans -- from across the political spectrum, and from all backgrounds and beliefs -- have come to a consensus that we should pursue this research; that the potential it offers is great, and with proper guidelines and strict oversight, the perils can be avoided.

That is a conclusion with which I agree. And that is why I am signing this executive order, and why I hope Congress will act on a bipartisan basis to provide further support for this research. We are joined today by many leaders who have reached across the aisle to champion this cause, and I commend all of them who are here for that work.

Ultimately, I cannot guarantee that we will find the treatments and cures we seek. No President can promise that. But I can promise that we will seek them -- actively, responsibly, and with the urgency required to make up for lost ground. Not just by opening up this new front of research today, but by supporting promising research of all kinds, including groundbreaking work to convert ordinary human cells into ones that resemble embryonic stem cells.

I can also promise that we will never undertake this research lightly. We will support it only when it is both scientifically worthy and responsibly conducted. We will develop strict guidelines, which we will rigorously enforce, because we cannot ever tolerate misuse or abuse. And we will ensure that our government never opens the door to the use of cloning for human reproduction. It is dangerous, profoundly wrong, and has no place in our society, or any society.

Now, this order is an important step in advancing the cause of science in America. But let's be clear: Promoting science isn't just about providing resources -- it's also about protecting free and open inquiry. It's about letting scientists like those who are here today do their jobs, free from manipulation or coercion, and listening to what they tell us, even when it's inconvenient -- especially when it's inconvenient. It is about ensuring that scientific data is never distorted or concealed to serve a political agenda -- and that we make scientific decisions based on facts, not ideology. (Applause.)

By doing this, we will ensure America's continued global leadership in scientific discoveries and technological breakthroughs. And that is essential not only for our economic prosperity, but for the progress of all humanity.

And that's why today I'm also signing a Presidential Memorandum directing the head of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy to develop a strategy for restoring scientific integrity to government decision-making -- (Applause.) -- to ensure that in this new administration, we base our public policies on the soundest science; that we appoint scientific advisors based on their credentials and experience, not their politics or ideology; and that we are open and honest with the American people about the science behind our decisions. That's how we'll harness the power of science to achieve our goals -- to preserve our environment and protect our national security; to create the jobs of the future, and live longer, healthier lives.

As we restore our commitment to science and expand funding for promising stem cell research, we owe a debt of gratitude to so many tireless advocates, some of whom are with us today, many of whom are not. Today, we honor all those whose names we don't know, who organized and raised awareness and kept on fighting -- even when it was too late for them, or for the people they love. And we honor those we know, who used their influence to help others and bring attention to this cause -- people like Christopher and Dana Reeve, who we wish could be here to see this moment.

One of Christopher's friends recalled that he hung a sign on the wall of the exercise room where he did his grueling regimen of physical therapy. And it read: "For everyone who thought I couldn't do it. For everyone who thought I shouldn't do it. For everyone who said it's impossible. See you at the finish line."

Christopher once told a reporter who was interviewing him: If you came back here 10 -- "If you came back here in 10 years, I expect that I'd walk to the door to greet you."

Now, Christopher did not get that chance. But if we pursue this research, maybe one day -- maybe not in our lifetime, or even in our children's lifetime -- but maybe one day, others like Christopher Reeves might.

There's no finish line in the work of science. The race is always with us -- the urgent work of giving substance to hope and answering those many bedside prayers, of seeking a day when words like "terminal" and "incurable" are potentially retired from our vocabulary.

Today, using every resource at our disposal, with renewed determination to lead the world in the discoveries of this new century, we rededicate ourselves to this work.

Before I sign, I want to just note the people who are on the stage with me. In addition to our outstanding Secretary of Energy, Secretary Chu; we also have Dr. Patricia Bath; we have Dr. H. Robert Horvitz; we have Dr. Janet Rowley; Dr. Harold Varmus, who's going to be the co-chair of my President's Council on Science; we've got Dr. Michael Bishop; and we also have Dr. Peter Agre. So these are an example of the outstanding scientists who we hope will guide us through this process in the years to come.

And with them standing beside me, I'd also like to invite some of my colleagues from Congress who have done just such extraordinary work to share in the limelight, because you guys are still going to have some work to do, and -- but it's because of the leadership of so many of you across partisan lines that we've been able to accomplish so much already.

So thank you very much, everybody. Let's go sign this. (Applause.)


Today in Gay History

Bhupen Khakhar (1934-2003)

Contemporary Indian artist Bhupen Khakhar earned an international reputation for paintings that are explicitly homosexual in theme, but that also address universal human needs. They are rooted in traditional Indian art, but are startlingly original.

Although inspired by traditional Indian painting styles, Khakhar's visual language is completely original. Initially a painter of complex, finely detailed, brightly colored scenes of everyday life, he began painting works with blatant homosexual themes during the 1980s. This type of "coming out" was unprecedented in Indian culture; although many Indians are homosexuals, same-sex themes are exceedingly rare in modern Indian art.

Many of the figures in his works gaze into each other's eyes with mutual love, understanding, and desire. Although homosexual in theme, Khakhar's works address universal human needs such as physical closeness, interaction, and pleasure.

Khakhar died on August 8, 2003 in Baroda, India, aged 69.


Monday, March 9, 2009

Special Tip of the Hat to My Friend Joey

My Friend, Joey, says that Milton Friedman, in his view, is still the foremost economist of our times.

I respectfully and vehemently disagree. Keynesian economics are being proven correct everyday, and adapting those principles to the current world-wide meltdown is the only hope we have.

I know for certain nothing good has come of the unbridled greed Milton Friedman and his disciples unleashed on the world. Google Pinochet and The Chicago School of Economics. Read Naomi Klein's The Shock Doctrine, which details the worldwide effects of violent "revolutions" launched by Friedman's minions--with the ardent cheerleading of most every neo conservative voice in America in the past 40 years.

The 20+ year old clip of Friedman appearing on Phil Donahue's show (below) merely underscores the utter folly of following the economic philosophy of the greed-driven egomaniac Friedman. He snidely and condescendingly touts GREED to Donahue as though it is intrinsically good, using only "everybody does it" as a rationale.

Its very possible to be a traditonal fiscal, economic and monetary conservative without channelling Friendman's rapacious greed.

Thanks for sending the clip, Joey. It illustrates well why American hegemony is decried all over the civilized world.

A Black Man's take on Rush this Week

From the Crapauds' favorite "tell it" blogger, Field Negro:

You Negroes can be so ungrateful.

" I guess sometimes even 'strange bedfellows' can break up. Poor Michael (M-Diddy) Steele, the new "hip" RNC leader. M-Diddy is trying to reach out to a hipper audience and attract more black folks to his cause, so he found himself on the D.L. Hughley Show Saturday night. (What better way is there to spend a Saturday night than with a "hip" black man?)

But what poor M-Diddy didn't realize was that his republican peeps were watching, and the big Kahuna himself was not too pleased that M-Diddy tried t0 throw the new leader of the party under the bus. (Wait, there is no way Rush would fit under a bus. Ahem, throw him under the, that wouldn't work either. Throw him under large earth moving vehicle maybe?) Michael, you just can't play both ends anymore, not in this media age. Big brother is always watching you jig.

"My parents taught me when I was growing up that you always stood behind people who defended you, you never abandoned people who stood up for you and who defended you against assault. Michael Steele was a candidate for the Senate in Maryland. Michael Steele was on this program, he got airtime on this program to attempt to refute the lies being told about him by Michael J. Fox in those famous ads way back when that were also run against Jim Talent in Missouri. I personally took time to defend Michael Steele and to rip the substance of those ads, had him on the show..."

See what you did M-Diddy? You done pissed off your benefactor. He helped you raise money, had you on his show, and defended you when you needed defending. You are such an ungrateful Negro. Instead of thanking massa Rush you are out disparaging him on one of dem colored shows.

HUGHLEY: Rush Limbaugh, who is the de facto leader of the Republican Party --STEELE: No, he's not.HUGHLEY: Well, I'll tell you what, I've never --STEELE: I'm the de facto leader of the Republican Party.HUGHLEY: Then you know what? Then I can appreciate that, but no -- no one will -- will actually pry down some of the things he says, like when he comes out and says that he wants the president to fail, I understand he wants liberalism to fail.STEELE: How is that any different than what was said about George Bush during his presidency? Let's put it into context here. Rush Limbaugh is an entertainer. Rush Limbaugh, the whole thing is entertainment. Yes, it's incendiary, yes, it's ugly --

Tell em M-Diddy, you are the HNIC, not Rush. Why is it so hard for A-merry-ca to understand that? Well, I will give you a hint M-Diddy; it's because house Negroes don't all of a sudden wake up one day and own the house. And when massa plucks them from the fields cleans them up, and gives them all the comforts of living in the house they are not supposed to forget that, or give him their butts to kiss. That's a job for us field Negroes. See we can tell Rush to kiss our black asses, because he never did shit for us. You, on the other hand, owe him so much. And guess what M-Diddy, he will never let you forget it."


Today in Gay History

March 9, 1947 -

US Men's Figure Skating championship won by Richard "Dick" Button, reputed to be the first real master of "triple" jumps in figure skating. "Quad" jumps were not mastered in competition for another 50 + years! He has enjoyed a lengthy subsequent career commenting on TV broadcasts of major ice skating events. His expert prissiness will someday be missed by all skating aficionados.


Sunday, March 8, 2009

New Civil Equality Ad in California


This Day in Gay History

On March 8, 1884

Pioneer Feminist Susan B. Anthony (1820-1906) addressed the U.S. House Judiciary Committee arguing for an amendment to the U.S. Constitution granting women the right to vote. Anthony's argument came 16 years after legislators had first introduced a federal women's suffrage amendment. She died in 1906, some fourteen years before her life's work came to fruition when Anthony's cherished goal of women's suffrage was finally realized with the ratification of the Nineteenth Amendent on August 18, 1920.