Saturday, December 31, 2005

Commentary Thought

One of my (unspoken) resolutions for 2006 was (or is) to better abide by blogging protocol. This means I must not only follow the rule that, if you fool around with one contributor, you must fool around with all other contributors and/or the blog owner (LOL), but I must also spend more time on the main than I do in the comments.

To that end, I am bringing forward an argument posited by one of my favorite commentors, Pat, in regard to my recent post concerning gay marriage. Pat's first comment concerns my position that part of the debate over gay marriage should include an analysis of the legal rights and benefits conferred therein and whether they apply to all couples, especially in the absence of children:

Marriage may have been configured for heterosexual couples who are going to have children, but that's not entirely the case now, as we know. Some couples get married with no intention of having children, including elderly couples. And we know there are plenty of gay couples who intend on having children.

Another way of looking at this is the following...Suppose it was mandated by the courts or whomever, that gay and straight couples must have the same exact marriage rights. Period.

Now there are three choices.

1. Eliminate all civil marriage (and all the legal rights thereof). 2. Eliminate some of the rights of marriage (such as giving only tax breaks to those that have children).
3. Keep the same marriage rights as they are.

I'm pretty sure most Americans would vote for number three.

So although most Americans are reluctant for gay couples to have equality, I think they are more reluctant to have their own rights diminshed.

The problem is that the situation of the courts mandating the same exact rights has already come up; most Americans wrote in option 4, "tell the courts to go do things to themselves" -- to the extent of not only banning marriage, but banning other forms of extension of legal rights and benefits to gay couples, even to the point of jeopardizing those benefits already offered by government and private companies.

Pat's point is not that gays should go through the court system to get their way. However, what I think he brings up inadvertently is the sheer insanity of organizations like HRC, NGLTF, Lambda, and others who think that the way to gay rights is to insult voters and go running behind the judge's robes when people come after them with torches and pitchforks. Unlike their mothers, though, voters can order the judge to get out of the way and hand over the little hellions.

Now, to Pat's second point:

I just see your suggestion as just a way of lowering the bar for equality for gay couples.

If gay equality requires having identical rights and benefits to heterosexual unions that produce children, yes. However, is that really the case?

For instance, one of the rights and benefits granted to heterosexual marriages that produce children is that no additional legal documentation or activity is required for both parents to have complete parental rights, or for the children to have complete inheritance rights. Obviously, then, in order for everyone to be equal, gay couples must have complete parental rights, and the children complete inheritance rights, without any additional legal documentation or activity.

While I learn new things about gays reproducing every day, something tells me that the vast majority of us will need to adopt, which under law as it is written requires additional legal documentation and activity. And, given the example I cited in which "gay activists" threw a hissy fit over the fact that birth certificates as written in Massachusetts reflected biological reality, they're not going to respond well.

The concern for "equality" is that couples in identical situations should receive similar benefits and protections, regardless of whether it's a same-sex or opposite-sex couple. The simple fact of the matter is that gay couples are NOT the same as heterosexual couples. Voters realize that. If we want them to listen, we need to do the same. It doesn't mean that we're LESS, just that we're DIFFERENT.

Friday, December 30, 2005

Free Money Giveaway!

Seems that, according to CNN, the Small Business Administration was found to be using some interesting definitions in approving loan guarantees for money lent under its Supplemental Terrorist Activity Relief (STAR) program:

Federal loans meant for businesses "adversely affected" by the September 11, 2001, terror attacks on the United States often went to businesses barely touched by the tragedy or not at all, according to an audit of the loan program by the Small Business Administration's inspector general.

The inspector general sampled 59 of 7,058 loans disbursed under the SBA's Supplemental Terrorist Activity Relief (STAR) program and found that 85 percent of the loans lacked justifications or had justifications that were less than convincing.

"Due to initial limited lender participation in originating STAR loans, SBA undertook efforts to promote the program by advising lenders that virtually any small business qualified and assuring them that SBA would not second-guess their justifications," the report, by Inspector General Robert Seabrooks, said.

In response, the SBA put out a press release that is a marvel of obfuscation, making the technically-true statement that "the inspector didn't find that STAR loan recipients were unqualified", but leaving out the obvious point that the reason he couldn't find them unqualified is because no documentation of their qualification existed. Meanwhile, numerous businesses that did receive loans are frankly bewildered as to why.

Of course, the reason this happened is fairly obvious to anyone who reads the original program details (emphasis mine):

STAR is a unique, temporary addition to the SBA’s 7(a) Loan Guaranty Program. It provides greater access to loans nationwide for small businesses affected by the terrorist activities of September 11, 2001, but not eligible to obtain loans under the SBA’s disaster assistance program. STAR loans may be used for any business purpose. They follow all regular 7(a) loan program requirements. All the lender must do is include in its file a rationale for its determination that the business was adversely affected. Through legislation enacted in January 2002, the program has authority to provide such loan funds through January 10, 2003, or until the $4.5 billion funds available under the program are expended, whichever comes first.

Benefits to Lenders

The lender’s on-going fee is cut in half. STAR’s reduced annual fee is 25 basis points on the outstanding SBA-guaranteed share of a STAR loan, rather than the usual annual fee of 50 basis points for other 7(a) loans. This fee reduction is for the life of the loan.

• STAR loans can be processed using SBA lender options including the regular 7(a) loan program, the Preferred Lenders Program, the Certified Lenders Program, SBALowDoc, SBAExpress, or CommunityExpress.

Benefits to Small Business

• Small businesses adversely affected by the terrorist activities of September 11, 2001, that do not qualify for loans under the SBA’s disaster assistance program may qualify under the STAR program.

• Although the annual lender fee of 25 basis points is not charged to the borrower, the SBA expects that lenders will pass on a portion of their savings to the borrower through an interest rate reduction.

So, in short, banks were told that they could extend what amounted to risk-free loans (government-guaranteed) at half the usual cost with no chance of their reason being questioned, or even checked, since it supposedly applied to "virtually every" business, and no requirement for them to pass the savings on to consumers.

How would you EXPECT the banks to categorize these loans? And the most ironic the SBA's own documentation, they're perfectly justified in doing it.

Thursday, December 29, 2005


Before I start, it should be known that NDT is living proof of the fact that "opposites attract". One of the biggest ways in which my significant other and I differ is the fact that he is a huge film buff and I am......not.

Trust me, there are several reasons. Aside from being unable to sit still for more than two hours without going to sleep, doing it in dark, noisy theaters with chattering cellphone users, sticky floors, and seats that make coach class airline travel seem luxurious -- while paying double-digit sums for the privilege -- offends my sensibilities on several levels. Add to that a disdain for what I see as American cinema's current replacement of good writing and cinematography with cusswords, nakedness, and car chases, and you can understand why my going to the movies is a noteworthy event.

Which is why I was so blown away by Casanova.

Like a lavish holiday buffet, the movie unfolds before your eyes, an aesthetic masterpiece and feast for each of your senses, each piece and portion a delicious part of the whole. At the center, Heath Ledger (Brokeback Mountain) and Sienna Miller (Alfie) smoulder as the paired entree of infamous rake and lover Casanova and the fiery nonconformist Francesca, the one woman who Casanova cannot have, but without whom he will not live. Despite hardly showing any skin (indeed, the closest Miller gets is a low-cut dress), both stars radiate pure erotic energy, pulling you inexorably to the screen to drink in each of their forms and features. Be wary of gay men and heterosexual women stampeding to take a lick at Ledger.

Serving as delectable sides are Lena Olin (Chocolat) as Andrea, Francesca's scheming, sensual mother; Oliver Platt ("West Wing"'s White House Counsel Oliver Babish) as Francesca's clueless, wealthy fiance and lard magnate (one of the movie's most hilarious running gags) Paprizzio; and the richest dish of all, Jeremy Irons ( Kingdom of Heaven), whose Instigator Pucci is a triumphal masterpiece, parody of his previous roles without camp, a perfect balance of heavy and hilarity. Other treats are Iranian-born British comic Omid Djalili as Casanova's indefatigable sidekick Ludo, Charlie Cox ( Merchant of Venice) as Francesca's impetuous younger brother Giovanni, and Natalie Dormer as Vittoria, the young and virginal beauty ready to explode.

Director Lasse Hallstrom (Chocolat, Cider House Rules) spreads these gourmet preparations beautifully on the backdrop of lovely Venice, draped in costumes that will have your fingers crying out to feel them, and wrapped in a lush soundtrack that will have devotees of the Italian Baroque (like NDT) crooning with ecstasy. The pace, while lagging slightly in the middle, is well-set and drives without being driven; the screenplay and story (from new writer Kimberly Simi, playwright Jeffrey Hatcher, and Pulitzer Prize winner Michael Cristofer (The Shadow Box) is an absolute masterpiece, full of clever and sparkling twists and turns that provide wonderful "Aha!" moments (hint: listen for Andrea's description of Francesca's father's appearance early in the film).

In short, I loved it. If your sensory taste buds are in a holiday slump and in need of a palate-cleanser, your spirit seeks an unsagging escape from the madness, or you crave another reminder of the beauty and humor of wit, this is for you.

Who knows, films like this could get me ENJOYING the movie experience.....

What's a "Larder", Anyway?

As he has a habit of doing, Blog Ally Robbie of The Malcontent put up a provocative post about the relative lack of new subjects in the "gay community", basically stating that we're down to two things -- hating the Pope and demanding gay marriage. This has spawned some interesting comments and got my own wheels turning on the topic.

Relative to gay marriage, Robbie first points out that many gays, married ones included, have not exactly latched onto the concept of "monogamy" as associated with "marriage". Several commentors have pointed out that that is not necessarily reason for ditching the idea, and I would agree with that. But I would also point out that the fact that it exists is going to butt heads with the existing heterosexual idea of the two being inseparable, Desperate Housewives notwithstanding.

As I've alluded to previously, the root of the "gay community", its business, its expression, its very existence when you get right down to it is sex. However, the historical and cultural root of marriage is commitment for mutual benefit, NOT sex. There are plenty of examples throughout the centuries of people getting married and not having sex, or having sex without being married and suffering no cultural or religious penalty.

In my opinion, gays have benefited in terms of relationship and sexual maturity from the fact that our unions have not been historically recognized by culture or by laws. Because we don't have artificial constructs to make the decision easier, we've had to deal directly with the attitudes and behaviors that hold people together or tear them apart, and as a result, have progressed much more deeply into the fundamental issues involving the interlocking of two peoples' lives.

What have we found? Marriage is a one-size-fits-all box, while the relationship of two people is anything but.

Does that mean we shouldn't be working for legal recognition of same-sex relationships? Absolutely not. On its most basic level, banning that is perpetuating the idea that private conduct between two adults, involving no one else, is somehow grounds for denial of public protection or benefit. That is both unconstitutional and unworthy of our country's ideal of liberty.

However, what needs to go along with gay marriage is a good public discussion and scrubbing of what exactly ALL forms of marriage constitute and what is really best in terms of legal protections/benefits. We as a country and society need to confront directly the fact that the vast majority of the benefits of marriage exist to a) encourage people to get and stay married using financial and legal "carrots" or b) make it easier and cheaper to have and afford kids. Those aren't necessarily right or wrong, but whether or not they should be applicable or even used should definitely be reviewed in light of our current culture and laws.

The problem is, though, that in order to do that, we have to get rid of two stumbling blocks to this whole discussion that seem ingrained in the "gay community"'s psyche; one, that the "intangible benefits" of marriage are conferred by law and not by the commitment of two people to each other, and two, that there is something WRONG with changing or expanding the definition of "marriage". Instead of harkening to what we know is an inferior model out of fear of the wingnuts or a quasi-socialist view that human behavior must be governmentally recognized to be validated, why not just appeal to peoples' logic and existing opinion, which is that gay couples do warrant some legal protections/benefits and not others? We need to take that, find out WHY people think we don't warrant certain ones, and be willing to ask the question if it makes sense to apply those to all heterosexual couples as well -- and doing that will both get us what we NEED and destroy the fundies' arguments against our legal rights.

For instance, if in doing so we find out the reason that married couples get tax breaks is to make it less expensive to have children part and to give a financial incentive encourage people to get married, we may decide we want the kid part, but not the payola, meaning that the tax breaks associated with marriage will only apply to couples with children. Instead of gays doing it, let's put Falwell and the fundies in the ridiculous position of arguing that relationships are not valid unless you get a bigger tax refund and that more money in your pocket is a good reason for getting married (think, "Anna Nicole Smith").

This is not rocket science. However, it IS a huge attitude change, and I honestly question whether our so-called "gay leaders" can make it -- or if our community has to make it without them.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

A Chill Wind from the North

It seems that after enduring years of abuse, the government of Canada has decided to pull a SouthPark-esque move of its own and "blame it on the US" -- in this case, Toronto's record year for gun deaths.

On the one hand, they have a point. As the Toronto Star points out, Toronto's 52 deaths this year pale in comparison to the thousand-plus shootings reported in New York City this year. Like it or not, we Americans are inured to violence, and it shouldn't be surprising that our culture and gangs have leaked across the border, along with several of our relatively-uncontrolled guns. The downside of the Second Amendment is that any idiot is allowed to own a gun until proven otherwise, and unfortunately....many do.

However, what to me is the sheer brazen nature of these crimes. Yonge Street and Dundas Square are not back alleys or side cul-de-sacs -- they are major public areas, similar to Fifth Avenue and Times Square in New York City. For whatever reason, people shoot each other left and right elsewhere in NYC, but not in these major spots. Yet in Toronto, they're pulling out guns and firing away, in spots where there's a virtual certainty they will be a) seen and b) hitting innocent bystanders.

This is why I'm skeptical of the claims of those like Toronto Mayor David Miller, just as I was of those made by French Prime Minister Villepin in the wake of the mass riots in France, that more money, welfare, etc. are going to solve the problem. It reminds me of a favorite Bloom County strip in which a well-dressed government pollster asks an "underclass youth" why they prefer selling an illegal substance and making thousands of dollars when they could be working honestly for five bucks an hour at McDonalds.

Certainly, providing more opportunities for disadvantaged minorities and youth is not going to hurt the problem any. However, the behavior of these gangs to me is not one of hopeless youth, but of arrogant criminals. These people aren't out to commit the equivalent of suicide because their situations are that terrible; they're out committing crimes because they know the reward far outweighs the risk. This signals an enforcement problem in my mind; while Canadians may welcome Prime Minister Martin's plan to ban handguns, as they will soon find out from the example of San Francisco, Chicago, and other cities where handgun bans have been tried....someone who is willing to shoot another person is probably not overly concerned with whether or not the weapon they use is legal.

I am heartened by a spot-on quote from one of the parties involved in Toronto, though:

Kofi Hope of the Black Youth Coalition Against Violence said while governments must play a role, young people also need to combat the "cynicism, alienation and apathy" that lead to low self-esteem and bad choices.

"At the most basic level, it's got to be a change of attitude among young people," Hope said.

Truer words were never spoken.

Monday, December 26, 2005

Spies, Indeed

One of the minor joys of visiting my family in Chicago is the daily delivery of the Chicago Tribune, particularly nice since I moved into temporary housing and discontinued my daily Dallas Morning News.

The Tribune is known for excellent investigative reporting, and the Christmas Day version didn't disappoint in the least. However, this wasn't the usual story about Chicago graft and corruption; the matters were of far greater import.

If that doesn't scare you enough, they threw in an aperitif and after-dinner mint.

And people wonder why I am so skeptical of the claims made by former agents that Valerie Plame was a "covert operative".

Saturday, December 24, 2005

What Christmas Means to Me

Today I want to wish you all a very simple sentiment: Merry, blessed Christmas.

Those simple words seem to have brought an enormous amount of heat and smoke to the world, agitating the secular and the "pious" to actions which are not only unbecoming behavior, but in several ways, spit in the face of what Christmas truly represents. This is appalling on so many levels, but enough of it has been said that to do more would be a distraction to what this day is.

To me, the best representation of Christmas comes from Martin Luther in his sermon on the Nativity (emphasis mine).

How unobstrusively and simply do those events take place on earth that are so heralded in heaven!

On earth it happened in this wise: There was a poor young wife, Mary of Nazareth, among the meanest dwellers of the town, so little esteemed that none noticed the great wonder that she carried. She was silent, did not vaunt herself, but served her husband, who had no man or maid. They simply left the house. Perhaps they had a donkey for Mary to ride upon, though the Gospels say nothing about it, and we may well believe that she went on foot. The journey was certainly more than a day from Nazareth in Galilee to Bethlehem, which lies on the farther side of Jerusalem.

Joseph had thought, “When we get to Bethlehem, we shall be among relative and can borrow everything.” A fine idea that was! Bad enough that a young bride married only a year could not have had her baby at Nazareth in her own house instead of making all that journey of three days when heavy with child! How much worse that when she arrived there was no room for her! The inn was full. No one would release a room to this pregnant woman. She had to go to a cow stall and there bring forth the Maker of all creatures because nobody would give way.

Shame on you, wretched Bethlehem! The inn ought to have been burned with brimstone, for even though Mary had been a beggar maid or unwed, anybody at such a time should have been glad to give her a hand.

There are many of you in this congregation who think to yourselves: “If only I had been there! How quick I would have been to help the Baby! I would have washed his linen. How happy I would have been to go with the shepherds to see the Lord lying in the manger!” Yes, you would! You say that because you know how great Christ is, but if you had been there at that time you would have done no better than the people of Bethlehem. Childish and silly thoughts are these! Why don’t you do it now? You have Christ your neighbor. You ought to serve him, for what you do to your neighbor in need you do to the Lord Christ himself.

The birth was still more pitiable. No one regarded this young wife bringing forth her first-born. No one took her condition to heart. No one noticed that in a strange place she had not the very least thing needful in childbirth. There she was without preparation: no light, no fire, in the dead of night, in thick darkness. No one came to give the customary assistance. The guests swarming in the inn were carousing, and no one attended to this woman. I think myself if Joseph and Mary had realized that her time was so close she might perhaps have been left in Nazareth. And now think what she could use for swaddling clothes – some garment she could spare, perhaps her veil - certainly not Joseph’s breeches, which are now on exhibition at Aachen.

Think, women, there was no one there to bathe the Baby. No warm water, nor even cold. No fire, no light. The mother was herself midwife and the maid. The cold manger was the bed and the bathtub. Who showed the poor girl what to do? She had never had a baby before. I am amazed that the little one did not freeze. Do not make of Mary a stone. For the higher people are in the favor of God, the more tender are they.

Let us, then, meditate upon the Nativity just as we see it happening in our own babies. Behold Christ lying in the lap of this young mother. What can be sweeter than the Babe, what more lovely than the mother! What fairer than her youth! What more gracious than her virginity! Look at the Child, knowing nothing. Yet all that is belongs to him, that your conscience should not fear but take comfort in him. Doubt nothing.

To me there is no greater consolation given to mankind than this, that Christ became man, a child, a babe, playing in the lap and at the breasts of his most gracious mother. Who is there whom this sight would not comfort? Now is overcome the power of sin, death, hell, conscience, and guilt, if you come to this gurgling Babe and believe that he is come, not to judge you, but to save.

And that, my friends, is what it's all about.

With love from me and my family to yours,

North Dallas Thirty

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Insert Your Own Ironic Statement Here

Note the harangues against Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger at the Tuesday funeral of Stanley "Tookie" Williams, especially the parts about how Williams had "promoted an anti-gang message".

Then note the on-site activities:

Several dozen gang members wearing blue attire associated with Crips gangs watched the funeral in the parking lot. One who identified himself as "Killowatt the Third," age 33, estimated there were 20 to 30 Crips-affiliated gangs there to honor Williams.

"That's my role model, man. That's the CEO of the Crips," he said.

Or maybe the before-and-after activities.....

Under heavy police presence, mourners including gang members flashing hand signs waited in line to enter the 1,500-seat Bethel AME Church for a ceremony that stretched more than four hours.

After the service, many of those outside the church dropped to the ground after hearing what sounded like three gunshots about a block away, but there were no injuries and no arrests.

Methinks the message from inside was having a hard time making it outside.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Holiday Hiatus

Hello all......North Dallas Thirty (the blog) will be on temporary hiatus for Christmas while North Dallas Thirty (the person) visits his family and friends in snowy Chicago.

To all of you, enjoy this time with your loved ones, and remember.....time, money, and politics all pass, but good and heartfelt memories never do. Invest in those for Christmas.

With warm holiday wishes,


UPDATE: Ye gods, the family upgraded to high-speed wireless access!

Thus, as you might guess, our aforementioned hiatus will be a bit shorter than expected......

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Why You Shouldn't Bother With Polls

Yesterday's MSM story.

Today's MSM story.

And a point of interest......they were both taken BEFORE Bush's prime-time speech on Sunday.

Something tells me that pollsters are soon to displace meterologists on the scientific "your guess is as good as mine" scale.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Sunday Short Bite #1

TIME Magazine columnist Joe Klein, has penned a Web column on those, as he puts it, "due medals" for the year -- and it may surprise you. Worth checking out, definitely.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Banal Saturday Evening Post #2

My last post got me started on the topic of did an encouraging, if somewhat disquieting, post by Robbie of The Malcontent about favorite forms thereof. Since I finally got around to reloading the changer in the Mazda3 after the husbear's visit last weekend, now's as good of a time as any to discuss what's in it.

But first the radio, in order of buttons:

1 -- KPLX 99.5, "The Wolf"

2 -- KSCS 96.3, "All the Best Country"

3 -- KTYS 96.7, "The Texas Twister"

4 -- KHYI 95.3, "The Range"

5 -- KLUV 98.7, "The Greatest Hits of the Sixties and Seventies"

6 -- WRR 101.1 "Classical FM"

In other words, proof that I'm a Texan. Country, oldies, and classical.

However, in the changer, we find:

1 -- Global Groove, "Joy", Julian Marsh.
My biggest backup CD when I was a DJ -- not a song on there that didn't get people dancing.

2 -- Laura Paustini, "I Surrender" (club mix)
If you haven't tried making love to this song.....

3 -- Tamia, "Stranger In My House" (Thunderpuss club mix)
Use this only when you want someone to pass out on the dance floor -- or when you have to drive somewhere that's twenty minutes away in fifteen minutes.

4 -- Madonna, "Frozen" (club mix)
My first music to strip by. Sigh........:)

5 -- Madonna, "Don't Tell Me" (Thunderpuss "Hands In the Air Anthem mix)
Want to out yourself to a bunch of horse people and 4-H kids? Use this to do a freestyle reining demo.

6 -- Anastasia, "I'm Outta Love" (Hex Hector club mix)
The non-caffeinated way to get yourself up for work in the morning.

So whaddya think?

Banal Saturday Evening Post #1

I have absolutely no idea why, but I think of Blog Ally Michael over at GayOrbit every time I hear Track #3 on this album. It may have something to do with a past post on Patron, or something, but I swear, every time it comes on, I am reminded to go check GayOrbit.

Pretty bad when you don't even know the guy personally, but.....

Friday, December 16, 2005

Where I Stand

As several of you know, I make a fairly regular habit of checking and responding to the comments on this blog and others -- a minor violation of good blog technique, which rather tersely tells you to save your writing time for the main board instead of wasting it elsewhere, but good fun nonetheless.

Occasionally a post that generates lots of comments, such as my commemoration of the boycott that never was over the agreement that wasn't either, will turn up, besides brickbats, a comment that I feel would be best answered out here in public, such as this.

Out of curiousity. Seems like you have a deep disdain for gay rights organizations. Would you prefer that all gay rights organizations simply close shop and let individuals fend for themselves? Or do you see SOME good in their efforts. I know they are mostly that why you dislike them so much. Blinded by party?

First off, the commentor would be right on one count -- I do have a rather deep disdain for some gay rights organizations, particularly the large national ones. That should be clearly apparent to anyone who reads this blog, especially certain posts on it.

Actually, though, I DO see some good in their efforts. When HRC, NGLTF, and others act in accordance with the reason for their existence, which is to protect, promote, and advance gay issues and concerns, they do rather well -- surprisingly well. There's nothing wrong with gays presenting an allied front on things that directly concern us, and the massing of resources is both sensible and effective.

However, what happens frequently -- far too frequently -- is that these groups stray from the reason for their existence and waste the resources massed within them on items that are, at best, somewhat counterproductive and, at worst, suicidal for gay rights.

Consider, for example, abortion.

Both NGLTF and HRC take the position of unrestricted abortion -- that it should be allowed anywhere, at any point in the pregnancy, without parental or spousal notification. Both make wild arguments that preserving unlimited abortion is somehow linked to "gay rights".

Unfortunately, upon review, we find that abortion is, by and large, a standalone issue; the decision of Roe v. Wade is less an affirmation of the "right to privacy" under which these groups huddle than it is an expansion of said "right", as elucidated in the cases Eisenstadt v. Baird and its precursor Griswold v. Connecticut, from methods of contraception to methods of infanticide. Minus Roe, the "right to privacy" as applied to private sexual conduct would still exist; what would not is the block on individual states preventing them from making legislation restricting or eliminating abortion.

The reason this is a doomsday scenario for abortion-supporting groups is obvious. Polling shows that, while a majority of Americans do not support completely banning abortion, only twenty-six percent support the current position Roe mandates, which is "legal in all circumstances". Strong majorities (69% and 64%) support parental and spousal notification, respectively; a strong plurality (39%) support abortion being legal in "only a few circumstances", while 16% support a ban in all circumstances and an additional 16% support abortion being legal in "most circumstances".

In short, were it not for Roe, the majority of states in this country would have laws restricting abortion, most likely to only in the case of rape, incest, or imminent danger to the life of the mother. However, according to the statistics on why women have abortions as compiled by Planned Parenthood's Guttmacher Institute, that would limit legal abortions to, at best, 14% or less of the abortions currently performed (combining rape, incest, and "physical problem with my health"), dropping the number of abortions performed in the United States from approximately 1.3 million annually to less than 200,000.

The effect on the finances and reach of the abortionist groups would be catastrophic. With abortions costing an average of $500 each, that represents $550 million in lost revenue annually -- revenue that is needed to support their political donations, maintain their influence, and maintain themselves. However, what these groups have realized is that there are more than enough minority groups whose aspirations and requirements for flashy campaigns and headquarters exceed their financial reach and fundraising capability; for a little cash, the undying love of these groups can be bought, providing additional operatives and political cover at a very low price. The fact that this comes at the price of being bound to positions that the majority of Americans do not support seems to elude these minority groups, who see only the dollar signs and not the long-term consequences.

Unfortunately, several of our national gay rights organizations fall well into that category of "easily purchased". In my opinion, Joe Solmonese's, for one, primary qualification to lead HRC had nothing to do with his skill or management expertise; it had everything to do with his record of not letting gay rights get in the way of other concerns like abortion stances or party affiliation. Thus, he was an excellent choice to lead an organization that spent a bare $100,000 on fighting Missouri's antigay state constitutional amendment, but blew easily that much and more on a lavish gala to celebrate the selection of a pair of candidates who supported and praised it.

As I stated in my previous post, I have no problem with supporting Democrats. What I DO have a problem with is supporting antigay bigots, or worse, calling them "pro-gay" and "gay-supportive", BECAUSE they're Democrats. "Gay rights" organizations like HRC are particularly susceptible to this problem because their main organizational leaders, like Hilary Rosen, Michael Berman, and others, are paid lobbyists for the Democratic Party.

Simply put, I'm fine with gay rights groups that focus on gay rights. When they waste money on antigay candidates (like HRC) or on expensive ad campaigns at the expense of grassroots activism because of personal vendettas (LCR), that's when you start to see NDT get pissed at them. The same goes for the gay media.


Thursday, December 15, 2005

Can You Say, "Chutzpah"?

Thanks to Blog Ally SonicFrog for tipping me off (via GayPatriot) to Gateway Pundit's posting of what has to be the most laughable picture of the year.

Of course, if Senators Biden and Cantwell and their party had gotten their way, the only purple fingers Iraqis would be holding up are the amputated ones that Saddam Hussein and his cronies had chopped off. While I admire their attempt to hijack a photo op of something they completely opposed....we know differently.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Brains vs. Boycotts: The Capitulation -- of the Boycotters

And as it seems, the "boycott" of Ford Motor Company is over.

Ford released a statement today outlining its position, which I thought was a marvel of good corporate writing -- short, to the point, and a nice bitch-slap to the irrational idiots who had been screaming about a boycott.

As I mentioned before, the "coalition members" -- and before you argue that AmericaBlog and John Aravosis aren't reflective of HRC et al.'s positions, read it and weep -- put out a list of demands that were "required" for them to call off their "war on Ford".

Ironically, Ford didn't give them what they wanted -- and what they got, they had before this meeting ever came about.

Ford had already made a strong statement against discrimination. Ford was already advertising Volvo in gay publications. Moreover, Ford did not say that Jaguar and Land Rover would continue to advertise in gay publications; they merely said that they would run "corporate ads" featuring ALL Ford products in gay publications, not specific Jaguar and Land Rover campaigns, and that the content will be "appropriate and effective". This does NOT mean it will be "gay-specific", as demanded; indeed, they defended Jaguar and Land Rover's decision to NOT advertise as a "business decision".

More or greater funding of gay events? No promises there -- and a veiled statement that they would be doing less for "business reasons".

Releasing the details of the "secret deal"? Nope, which makes me wonder if, indeed, it ever happened.

Firing executives? Don't make us laugh, pimps.

This, however, was my favorite part:

Finally, you expressed your strong objections to our having even met with one of your harshest critics. We meet every day with people and organizations on many issues, and, as a business, do not wish be drawn into those that detract from our effectiveness in the marketplace. That said, we expect to be measured not by the meetings we conduct but by our conduct itself. Our record on tolerance and inclusion speaks for itself and I am proud to be judged on that record at any time.

Beautiful. Patronizing, vaguely insulting, and laying spot-on the fact that they will conduct their business as they see fit and meet with who they want, their record speaks for itself, and you insulting, gossipy little bastards can mind your own business.

Of course, when I pointed this out to Aravosis, the response was quite predictable, and easily refutable:

First off, of the list of demands I made, how do you know they each had the same value?

Because you said so. I quote:

Ford needs to meet the following demands to call off our War on Ford.

Next up:

Second, how do you know I didn't throw some demands in as red herring bargaining chips?

Because you're telling me that after the fact. But if you want to admit your original demands were irrational and you were lying through your teeth when you said Ford needed to do the following, go right ahead.

This was my favorite, though:

And third, if your definition of victory is jeopardizing a deal because you don't get 100% of what you want, but only get 95% of what you want, then you really don't understand the real work of politics and of winning.

That explains why Dallas and Fort Worth both have nondiscrimination ordinances, Dallas's with protection for gender identity. That explains why the city of Dallas has had multiple gay City Council members and candidates, an extraordinarily pro-gay Mayor, and a lesbian sheriff, plus would have had a transgender councilperson (endorsed by the conservative Dallas Morning News) if not for Hispanic Democrats, with the connivance of the Democratic Party, running a whisper campaign about her.

By the way, this is all done in one of the reddest of red areas, with one of the highest attendance rate of evangelical and Catholic churches in the country. While I certainly can't take credit for all of it, I've done my part in getting these individuals, most of whom are Democrats, elected, these ordinances passed, and numerous gay causes and charities supported.

Meanwhile, HRC et al. and their surrogates run around calling Ford Nazi-supporters, liars (for not confirming an unsubstantiated charge based on anonymous, unidentified "sources"), anti-Semites, repeatedly. This is, of course, after dropping millions of dollars on antigay bigots who they call "pro-gay" and "gay-supportive", or suddenly going blind when it comes to dealing with Democrats who support the FMA and the gay Democrats who give them money -- and still coming up with a record that even the Detroit Lions would spurn.

I may not know much, but compared to the people who claim to, I daresay my results are infinitely better. :)

In summary, this for me has been a win-win situation. Ford won without promising to spend any additional money or make any particular changes; both the AFA and gay extremists lost, because they can no longer protest the conditions to which they agreed. A public triumph of smart, savvy businesspersons over morons.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

My Statement of Non-Partisanship

Let's cut directly to the chase.....North Dallas Thirty (myself and the blog) will not be endorsing or voting for anyone for the 2005 Best LGBT Blog Award.

The main reason is very simple: I like and respect all of them and will be happy regardless of which of them is chosen. They represent the entire spectrum of gay thought and the diversity of our community; each has its place, and each adds to the richness of the gay blogosphere.

However, I am doing this in part to protest the sniping that has taken place concerning this award. I'm particularly hurt by some of the attacks on Pam Spaulding of Pam's House Blend, who, despite being someone who is diametrically different from me in every superficial respect, is a dear friend and someone whose opinion I value immensely. To see her called names or to see situations being set up to ensure that she loses cuts me to the core, and I can't be silent about it.

I do encourage each of my readers to read/review the nominated blogs and make your selections. I choose silence because I have my blog to let my feelings be known. I ask each of you to choose who you genuinely feel is the best of the best.

Brains vs. Boycotts, Part 3

And now, at last, the other shoe has dropped; we've finally found out what's really important in the whole Ford kerfluffle, as reported by the Washington Blade after Ford's release of their statement concerning their Monday meeting with "gay leaders".

Neil Giuliano, president of the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, was among the gay leaders who met with Ford and said Monday night he was "shocked and disturbed" by the company's statement.

"The statement from Ford does not begin to address the issues we discussed in our meeting," said Giuliano. "It clearly shows that they do not have an understanding of our positions, nor are they willing to distance themselves, and specifically correct, the statements that have been made by the AFA."

Giuliano said gay leaders asked Ford to continue supporting gay organizations and events, continue using gay-specific imagery in ads for the company's Volvo brand placed in gay media, speficially (sic) disavow any deal made with the AFA on any of these points, and commit to continue advertising, at least at some level, the Jaguar and Land Rover brands in the gay media.

Now, this is the stunning part:

Giuliano called the last issue (continuing advertising for Jaguar and Land Rover in the gay media) "a deal-breaker" for the gay rights groups.

Yes, you read that right. These groups are not going to go away until Jaguar and Land Rover start buying ads in the "gay media", which is by and large made up of for-profit companies.

In short, the definition of "gay rights" has now been expanded to require that you purchase x number of goods and services from gay companies, or you and yours will be roundly condemned as "antigay" by these "gay rights" groups. Coupled with the fact that these groups have no problem calling the people who pay them and who give them cocktail-party invitations "pro-gay" and "gay-supportive", even when those individuals do things that are blatantly antigay, I think it is now safe to say that the definition of "antigay" has nothing to do with gay rights and everything to do with gay pocketbooks.

Update: New link to the story in the Blade added.

And a note to Giuliano....thanks for making it clear that this is all about the money GLAAD is losing.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Brains vs. Boycotts, Part 2

Here's the new list of demands the "gay community" is requiring to undo the Ford boycott.

1. Ford must immediately admit the details of, and recant, the secret deal it reached with the American Family Association (AFA). For an example of how to do this the right way, Ford should look to Microsoft's statement earlier this year.

2. Ford must issue a statement, akin to the statement issued by Kraft, reaffirming its commitment to glbt civil rights, and civil rights across the board.

3. Ford must immediately run Jaguar and Land Rover ads in the gay press (Ford pulled its advertising for Jaguar and Land Rover in the gay press as a capitulation to the AFA).

4. Ford must immediately run Volvo ads in the gay press that are specifically tailored to the gay community. (Ford's agreement with the extremist gay-hating organization included a promise to no longer run Volvo ads in the gay press that were specifically targeted to the gay community, but rather Volvo would only run the same ads it runs in the "straight" press.)

5. In 2006, Ford must show the same level of, or more, support for "gay events" as it did in 2005. That means spending the same amount of, or more, money on such events in 2006 as it spent in 2005, and lending Ford's name to the same events or more in 2006 as it did in 2005.

6. Ford must immediately fire former Bush White House officials Ziad Ojakli and David Leitch, the two senior Ford officials who negotiated the secret deal with the American Family Association.

So in other words, regardless of any degree of business sense or consideration, gays will boycott Ford until these all happen. And, as numerous commentors are saying, even if Ford does comply, they will continue the boycott anyway -- which means, regardless of what Ford does, they still plan to boycott them and namecall them.

Supposedly HRC, et al. support Aravosis on this. We'll see.

Friday, December 09, 2005

Brains vs. Boycotts

The latest kerfluffle to hit the gay blogosphere seems to be the fight picked over at Americablog, where John Aravosis seems once again, with cheers from the usual suspects, to be bent on taking an American corporate giant down, in this case Ford Motor Company, for supposedly "caving" to right-wing antigay bigots by making the decision to no longer advertise their Jaguar and Land Rover brands in gay publications, allegedly under pressure from the homophobic American Family Association.

However, there are gays with clearer heads taking a good look at the situation out there, notably Blog Allies Christian Grantham, Robbie at The Malcontent, and the ever-intrepid information gatherer Lloydletta, and coming up with roughly the same conclusion -- this is more about a need to play the victim than it is an intelligent reaction to the issues.

To support their reasoning, I will put forward another one....the actions these overstimulated "activists" are taking, if successful, will ultimately result in the outcome the AFA wants.

How, you ask?

Right now, Ford is not on what could be called "sound financial footing". Their corporate bonds are at junk bond level, the high price of gas is drastically cutting into sales of their bread-and-butter SUVs and trucks, their spree of incentive offerings this summer has tapped out the market, and they're reportedly getting ready to close several plants.

Now, consider the AFA's goals from its boycott last summer. It wants Ford to stop supporting ANYTHING gay, period, not just advertising -- hiring gays, diversity training, community support, partner benefits, you name it.

Now, as any businessperson knows, what happens when you're in financial trouble? You cut back on advertising and community support, especially to niche markets and communities with minimal returns on your dollar, and focus on your core. You cut training to the bare essentials. You slow down or stop hiring completely. You lay off workers, or you keep workers, but cut pay and benefits. Most importantly, if financial trouble gets worse, you accelerate the pace of these.

In short, what better way to get Ford to stop doing all the things you want them to stop doing than to push them deeper into financial trouble -- especially when yours isn't the group doing it?

This is so beautifully Machiavellian from a strategic standpoint, it's amazing. In exchange for a minor concession, the AFA has managed to turn the whole "gay community" against Ford, and in the process, strike at the taproot of Ford's ability to support the "homosexual agenda" -- vehicle sales. The less cars and trucks Ford sells, the less money they have to devote to gay community events and advertising -- assuming they are willing to give any money to a group that is the cause of their financial problems in the first place AND wasn't very receptive when they WERE being nice to it. That neatly solves those two problems for the AFA.

The employee benefits issue can be handled via another wrinkle that comes into play with the Ford situation -- the religious right's overtures toward unions. As I pointed out this summer, the religious right is well-aware of the disconnect between the political activity of unions and the political beliefs of union members. When you apply this to what's going on with Ford, all the AFA has to do is to point out to the workers losing their jobs because of Ford losing sales that the same "gay rights activists" who union leadership is supporting with the union dues these workers pay are the ones whose boycott is causing these workers to lose their jobs or take massive pay and benefit cuts. The word "cataclysmic" is not strong enough to describe what will be taking place. How long do you think union members will continue to contribute to support people who are making them unemployed? More importantly, how hard do you think union members will push to protect "gay rights" or to sacrifice their own family benefits for domestic-partner benefits when these same people are costing THEIR families benefits?

Finally, consider the obvious. Every plant, every office, every position that Ford is forced to close or eliminate does three things -- put glbt workers out of a job, takes away job opportunities for glbt workers, and in either case, takes away benefits from glbt workers and their families. If the idea is to protect glbt workers and their benefits, forcing Ford to do any of these is completely counterproductive.

In short, this boycott, if successful, will push Ford into severe financial distress or completely out of business, thereby eliminating Ford advertising in gay publications, Ford supporting community events, Ford offering employment opportunities to glbts, and Ford giving glbts partner benefits -- everything the AFA wants, all wrapped up in one nice, neat package, and handed to them. Best of all, the AFA's hands are clean -- it was those godless homosexuals who were doing the boycotting, just like they will do to you if you don't do exactly what they say and run your business in a totally-irrational fashion to please them. Look at all the straight workers and their families who these homos made lose their jobs -- do you want the same thing to happen at your business?

If the gay community wanted Ford's continued support, we could have rallied around them when the AFA first announced their "boycott" back in May. We had more than ample opportunity to take advantage of the fact that, as my previous link mentioned, Ford was giving money to gay organizations for every Jaguar they sold, and reward them for doing so. However, the difference between us and the AFA is that the AFA acts; show me where John Aravosis, HRC, or any of the numerous others put even a tenth of the effort they are now putting into bashing Ford into praising Ford when they WERE advertising in gay publications and getting a perfect HRC score.

Ford made a decision to go with what made the most sense for their business. What these "activists" are doing is saying that they would rather run Ford out of business, costing thousands of glbt workers and their families their jobs, their benefits, and their livelihoods, than go without ads or with "generic" ads in gay magazines.

That's just plain sick. But it's also what happens when people whose only concern is justifying their victimization are the public spokespeople for glbts. Even with the example of Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton before us, gays seem bent on repeating the mistakes of the black civil rights movement; until we realize that and take action, people will continue to ignore or disregard us.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

West - Ward Ho

Thanks to Blog Ally Michael of GayOrbit, I was reminded that this is the week in which the voters of Spokane, Washington decide whether or not to toss Mayor Jim West out on his ear.

West's various transgressions have been well-detailed elsewhere, so I won't go into excessives here -- a good reference point is the Spokane Spokesman-Review's coverage. However, the point to be made is that West, who is apologizing and begging voters for a second chance, seems to think that this is the problem:

West, a former Boy Scout executive and sheriff's deputy, denies the pedophilia allegations. He said he no longer engages in gay sex and has stopped visiting Internet chat rooms.

"I don't do that stuff anymore and probably shouldn't have done it in the first place," West, 54, told The Associated Press. "It's an unusual episode in my life. I wish there was a rewind button. Basically, that's what I'm asking the public for: a second chance."

What West is doing actually has some degree of plausibility; Spokane, like the majority of Washington State away from the Seattle-Olympia area, is heavily-conservative and Republican. For someone whose viewpoint is "gay = bad", or at least thinks the viewpoint of others is "gay = bad" because of their political and social views, this is a reasonable scenario. Simply put, West is doing what he thinks won him his previous elections -- gaybashing.

However, what the voters of Spokane are thinking is significantly more complicated.

In coffee shops, workplaces, homes and letters to the editor, similar questions have come up repeatedly since May. Is Spokane Mayor Jim West the victim of his own misbehavior and indiscretions, or the victim of a crusading newspaper's witch hunt? And even if the stories are fair, how much is enough?

A new poll, paid for by the newspaper and KREM 2 News, suggests that many readers are just as ambivalent as Woodbury. Out of more than 1,100 Spokane residents asked, 41 percent said they approve of the paper's coverage of West, while 48 percent said the opposite. Women and people over age 45 tended to approve; men and younger people tended not to.

"He's fair game, but it's maybe a little too much overplayed," said Spokane's Marc Buckley, 33, working downtown on a recent Thursday. "It's been overdone, like the Monica Lewinsky thing. It reminds you of a tabloid."

"The coverage was necessary, valuable, and I'm glad they did it," said Paul Lindholdt, an Eastern Washington University English professor. "But as it continues, it gets to be overbearing. It's like they're beating a drum – or using a club."

In my opinion, this shows one thing....West's repentance of and the media's emphasis on "the gay angle" is born of the same ignorance -- namely, the belief that it's really what the voters care about. Former New Jersey governor Jim McGreevey's statement was West in reverse -- the thinking that, because he "came out", that voters would support him despite clear evidence of abusing his position.

In short, it seems that voters don't care what you do as long as it doesn't interfere with your job -- and when it does, no amount of pandering is going to change the issue.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Define "Open-Minded"

There has been a considerable degree of flap of late over the state Board of Education of Kansas's decision to allow the criticism of evolution to be taught in public schools.

One of the most vocal of critics has been Dr. Paul Mirecki, chairman of the University of Kansas's Religious Studies department, who last week announced a course that would teach creationism and intelligent design as "mythologies" with the following stirring words, repeated on liberal blogs worldwide:

“The KU faculty has had enough,” said Paul Mirecki, chairman of KU’s religious studies department. He said he planned to teach “Special Topics in Religion: Intelligent Design, Creationism and other Religious Mythologies” next semester....

“The educational system of Kansas is under attack,” Mirecki said. “All they are is oppressors. They’re not martyrs and victims ... I’m expecting insecure, threatened people to start being more and more vocal. They don’t want their beliefs to be analyzed rationally. That’s what this class is devised to do.”

This of course was also announced by Provost David Shulenburger, who was careful to explain:

At KU, we instruct our teachers to create a classroom environment that encourages intellectual inquiry and civil discussion that helps students master the subject matter. This religious studies course will be held up to the same standard. All views will be respected and rights to freedom of expression will be fully observed. This university welcomes students of all religious faiths and prides itself on maintaining a climate of openness and tolerance.

Of course, the very next day, a point about Mirecki's own rationality was raised......

Paul Mirecki, chairman of KU's Religious Studies Department, wrote in an e-mail that the course was his response to religious fundamentalists promoting the study of intelligent design and creationism in the state's public schools.

"The fundies want it all taught in a science class, but this will be a nice slap in their big fat face by teaching it as a religious studies class under the category 'mythology,' " the message said.

Mirecki, as one might expect, responded in outrage by claiming the email was "private", meant only to be shared with the student organization for which he is the faculty advisor (the ironically-named Society for Open-Minded Atheists and Agnostics); Shulenberger again tried to reassure people that the course would be taught in a "professional manner", further arguing that Mirecki had compiled a "good record" as a teacher. Other academics argued that Mirecki was merely "fighting back" and was completely justified in his actions.

Unfortunately, things started to really go downhill on Wednesday when it was revealed that Mirecki's email in question was merely one of many similar ones he had written over the past three years to the same group, including this gem:

"I had my first Catholic 'holy communion' when I was a kid in Chicago, and when I took the bread-wafer the first time, it stuck to the roof of my mouth, and as I was secretly trying to pry it off with my tongue as I was walking back to my pew with white clothes and with my hands folded, all I could think was that it was Jesus' skin, and I started to puke, but I sucked it in and drank my own puke. That's a big part of the Catholic experience. I don't think most Catholics really know what they are supposed to believe, they just go home and use condoms, and some of them beat their wives and husbands."

Suddenly the University's tune changed, especially when it was publicly revealed that Mirecki was planning to involve KU Chancellor Robert Hemenway in his class.

Hemenway said Mirecki's comments were "repugnant and vile."

"It's extremely unfortunate. It misrepresents everything the university is to stand for," Hemenway said.

The chancellor said the university and Board of Regents have strict policies regarding faculty conduct in the classroom, and while Mirecki was speaking as a private person, his comments were linked to a course he intended to teach.

"You shouldn't be teaching a course with some sort of personal agenda," Hemenway said.

Unfortunately for Hemenway, Mirecki, and their fellow Democrats, I don't think the worst has happened. For instance, I wonder how the donors who recently endowed a professorship for Roman Catholic thought will take to leaving that money to support faculty members who apparently teach that Catholics are spouse-beating mouth-pukers. This also raises of just how much (or little) KU's "administration" is actually supervising its faculty, and what they're being allowed to teach students.

Finally, especially given Minecki's opening statement, it begs the question.....who's using the public school system and taxpayer dollars to indoctrinate who?

Results....and a Challenge!

With three weeks' worth of results, my poll concerning a possible name change for North Dallas Thirty has closed, with the following results:

-- Keep it: 78%

-- Change it: 16%

-- Make up your own damn mind: 7%

I must say that the comments provided here were pretty darn good -- a "spiritual state of grace", according to Gryph, a complete denial of reality by Lab Kat, and several more. However, the winner had to be Robbie of The Malcontent and his suggestion of "Bulgarian Transexual Gypsy Folk Singer" -- a name which would no doubt drive up my blog traffic to Instapundit levels among local readers in San Francisco, and would provide at least the same level of cover for my political views among the Torquemada-style defenders of liberalism that populate the City by the Bay that empty office spaces do for CIA front companies.

Of course, being the gambling man that I am, during an IM conversation with the estimable Robbie, I suggested a wager; I would change my blogname, per his suggestion, for a month if he would put on The Malcontent a picture of himself in the same pose as the advertisement in the sidebar, "More Than Meets the Eye". He declined, at which point I pulled out an effective (and seasonally-appropriate) encouragement....the infamous "triple-dog-dare".

Thus, the challenge has been made and, according to the Law of the Schoolyard, cannot be broken. Head on over to The Malcontent and, while you're enjoying the excellent (and pleasantly-risque) content, make sure Robbie knows that his honor is in question. I'll even accept Robbie's harsh blogging taskmaster The Malcontent himself as a substitute model, despite my qualms about likely having to change my blog name in that case to "Stun Gun to the Genitals".

Then again, that might put my hit count even higher in San Francisco......