New! Improved! Now with Same Old, Same Old!

The Grand Old Party is hoping to keep its image polished this week when delegates descend on the Twin Cities to nominate Arizona Sen. John McCain for the presidency. But their challenges are daunting – rival Democrats, polls, even Mother Nature.
Republicans assembling in the Twin Cities are faced with a sobering reality check: The GOP has never confronted such steep political odds in modern times.

Um, the biggest challenge the Republicans face is themselves. All of their problems were self-created. They’re running against themselves.
Everyday I read some quote from a Republican operative saying, without a hint of irony, that the Republicans are the party of change, that only the GOP can make people’s lives better, all but asking “Are you better off now than you were 8 years ago?”
For instance:

“Campaigns are about substance,” said Adam Mendelsohn, the former communications director for Schwarzenegger who is now a senior adviser to the McCain campaign. “You can have all the pomp and circumstance and Greco-Roman temples that Denver will allow. But at the end of the day, it doesn’t mean the American people will believe their lives will get better.”

Love that. After all those years of Republicans running Congress and 8 years of the Bush White House, the American people don’t believe their lives will get any better. And that’s what the Republicans are running on? They might as well say, “Yeah, we didn’t do anything for you in the last decade, but this time we promise we will.”
The most common element of the Republican mindset is the ability to hold mutually exclusive concepts in their head at once, somehow reconciling them in such a way that they can ignore reality and pretend that anything they don’t want to hear about doesn’t exist. And that’s what they’re doing with the last 12 years of Republican rule. For more than a decade the Republicans have held power in our government, raping and pillaging, bringing us to today — today, when the Republican campaign is pretending that the past 12 years never happened.

Communique via Long Distance Telegraphy from Mr. McCain, Esq

My Friends,

How presumptive.

I am honored to announce that I have chosen Governor Sarah Palin of Alaska as my choice for the Republican nominee for Vice President. As a father with three daughters, I can’t express how proud I am to choose the first female Republican Vice-Presidential nominee.

Hmm. The first Democratic Vice-Presidential nominee was in 1984. Right there in the first paragraph, he points out that the Republicans are decades behind when it comes to recognizing the worth of women.
And there’s also the dubious grammar of choosing one’s choice.

Sarah Palin is a trailblazer and a reformer. As the first female governor of Alaska, she challenged a corrupt system and has been a tireless advocate for reform — passing a landmark bill on ethics reform. She has taken on the old politics in Alaska and reformed the state’s energy industry. She rejects wasteful pork barrel spending. She’s fearless — exactly the type of leader I want at my side and the type of leadership we will bring to Washington.

First female. First female. They don’t even bother to disguise the talking points anymore, do they? And one wonders how the tireless reformer managed to overlook the corrupt and indicted Ted Stevens from her own state. Oh, and herself. She’s being investigated right now by the state Legislative Council. I suppose it was difficult for McCain to pick a running mate who was both acceptable to the conservative Right and not under investigation.

My friends, together Sarah Palin and I make the strongest presidential ticket and I know that she joins me in asking for your support as we head into our Convention week in Minnesota. We’re shaking things up in this campaign — and Governor Palin and I are ready to bring real reform to Washington.

Again, I’m really getting tired of the “My Friends” bit.
“I know she joins me in asking for your support?” Sounds like he’s not quite sure that’s the case.
Bringing real reform to Washington? Last time I checked, the Republicans had a good 12 years to bring reform and failed to do so. They did, however, bring much more corruption.

You may already know that I have decided to accept federal matching funds for the final months of this campaign — keeping a campaign promise I made. But that means that August 31st marks the last day I can accept your primary contribution. Will you make an immediate donation of whatever you can give — whether it’s $50 or $500 to ensure Governor Palin and I win in November?

He begs like a liberal charity.

You can be assured that as President and Vice President, Governor Palin and I will always put country before all else. We are ready to lead and I ask that you join our campaign today. Your support is deeply appreciated.

That last line gave me visions of the old men in the Bartles & Jaymes commercials of the 1980s. You know, back when McCain was already old enough to be my grandfather and his running mate was in her early 20s.

P.S. I have chosen Governor Sarah Palin as my running mate and today we will hold a joint campaign rally in Dayton, Ohio. Please tune in to any of the cable news stations to watch this rally at noon eastern time. After watching the rally, I hope you’ll visit my website to financially support our ticket as we head into next week’s Republican Convention. Thank you.

Um… isn’t that what he said in the opening of his letter? That he chose Palin? Is his memory so poor that he forgot midway through writing the letter? As further evidence of this memory problem, you’ll notice that he once again asks for money, the third time in the last three paragraphs. The only thing that’s missing is a selection of pre-printed return address labels with charming drawings by Republican 5-year-olds.

Why I need two beers this afternoon

7:48am. I’m listening to Morning Edition and driving south on 101 in North San Jose. There’s a length of what looks like fire hose in my lane, the second from the right, so I move over one lane to the left.

My car explodes.

Or so it seemed for a few moments. I’ve never experienced an air bag “deployment” before — that sounds so quiet and uneventful. In fact, it’s an instantaneous explosion and a mass of white fabric in your face. (And weirdness: my inside wrist was burned and blistered by the airbag. Scary.)

I had no idea what happened. I regained my senses pretty quickly and moved to the left shoulder, but was puzzled by the lack another car in front of me or behind me, which I assumed I had hit. The car was filled with smoke and my first instinct was that it was on fire, so I got out of it on the side of the freeway. That’s when I saw it.

A flat tire.

What? All this over a flat tire?

Then another car came over to the shoulder behind me. A good samaritan, I thought. But then I noticed he had a flat, too.

And then, another car pulled over. And another. And another. In all, about a dozen cars were pulled off on the shoulders, and finally a CHP officer came up, stopping traffic to look for whatever it was we had all hit.

This happened, that happened, I stood around, I shook a bit, I whined on the cell phone, and then the CHP officer told me he thought it might be a piece of a FORKLIFT. Bwah?

The burly female assistance truck driver helped everyone in turn to put on their spare tire, but when she got to my car she was unable to budge the damaged one. I was told to call for a tow. I was also told to go ahead and get my car off the freeway, so I gingerly eased it up the exit ramp that was literally a few feet away from the incident.

How do I know who to call? My insurance agent wasn’t in yet so I had no recommendations and had no idea what to do. Turns out that I have the Audi Roadside Assistance program, which was a nice surprise. Unfortunately, it took them an hour and a half after I called to get to me, sitting in my car in the heat with a couple of guys watching me from plastic lawn chairs who didn’t speak any English.

After I made it to the Audi dealer, they presented me with an estimate for $890 just to assess the damage, of which I’ll owe $500 as a deductible. Then I was chastised by my insurance agent for going to the dealer.

And she told me that my premium, thanks to this little incident in which I wasn’t at fault, is going to go up $300 a year. After almost 20 years accident-free. Lovely.

So, whoever left that debris in the roadway already owes me $800 and nothing has even been repaired yet.

I don’t think anyone will likely begrudge me a second beer this afternoon. Will you?

Del Martin

Phyllis Lyon, right, and Del Martin cut their wedding cake in June. Photo by Noah Berger, special to the San Francisco Chronicle

Lesbian rights pioneer Del Martin dies
Rachel Gordon, Chronicle Staff Writer
Wednesday, August 27, 2008

(08-27) 14:37 PDT SAN FRANCISCO — Del Martin, a lesbian rights pioneer who took part in one of California’s first same-sex weddings, died today in San Francisco after a long period of declining health. She was 87.

Ms. Martin’s political activism began more than five decades ago when in 1955 she co-founded a ground-breaking lesbian rights organization, Daughters of Bilitis, named after a book of lesbian love poetry. On June 16, she and her partner of 55 years, Phyllis Lyon, were married at San Francisco City Hall by Mayor Gavin Newsom.

“Her last act of activism was her most personal – marrying the love of her life,” said Kate Kendell, a long-time friend of the couple and executive director of the National Center for Lesbian Rights.

Ms. Martin died this morning at UCSF Hospice, nearly two weeks after she was admitted with a broken arm.

“Ever since I met Del 55 years ago, I could never imagine a day would come when she wouldn’t be by my side,” Lyon said in a statement issued by the National Center for Lesbian Rights. “I am so lucky to have known her, loved her and been her partner in all things.

“I also never imagined there would be a day that we would actually be able to get married,” Lyon said. “I am devastated, but I take some solace in knowing we were able to enjoy the ultimate rite of love and commitment before she passed.”

Ms. Martin had been in ailing health for some time, weakened to the point where she was pushed in a wheelchair to her wedding ceremony. In an interview in her hillside Noe Valley home just days before she wed, Ms. Martin described as fortunate the timing of the California Supreme Court decision that gave gays and lesbians the right to marry.

“We’re not getting younger,” she said.

Ms. Martin and Lyon were plaintiffs in the lawsuit that got the state ban on same-sex marriage lifted. They were married minutes after the ruling took effect.

Four years ago, when San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom allowed marriage licenses to be issued to gay and lesbian couples in San Francisco in defiance of state law, Ms. Lyon and Lyon were the first of some 4,000 same-sex couples to wed. Those marriages were later nullified by the state’s high court but paved the way for the successful legal challenge.

“We would never have marriage equality in California if it weren’t for Del and Phyllis,” said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, the San Francisco Democrat. “They fought and triumphed in many battles, beginning when they first bought a home together in San Francisco in 1955.”

Pelosi called the death of Ms. Martin “a great loss for me personally and for our entire community.”

Newsom, who said Ms. Martin “laid the groundwork for all those who want a life of dignity,” ordered the flags at City Hall and the rainbow gay-pride flag on Market Streets to be flown at half-staff until sunset Thursday.

Ms. Martin’s activist reach extended into the feminist movement, when she became the first open lesbian to serve on the board of directors of the National Organization of Women, and she helped spearhead a successful campaign to get the American Psychiatric Association to remove homosexuality from its roster of mental illnesses.

In 1995, Sen. Dianne Feinstein named her as a delegate to the White House Conference on Aging, where she and Lyon, a delegate appointed by Pelosi, focused attention on the needs of aging gays and lesbians.

Ms. Martin, whose given name was Dorothy but who went by Del, was born in San Francisco on May 5, 1921. Her first marriage, at age 19, was brief, but produced a daughter, Kendra Mon, who lives in Petaluma. She is also survived by two grandchildren.

Friends and family plan to hold a public tribute to Ms. Martin in the near future. Details have not been set.
[San Francisco Chronicle]

Del Martin’s life spanned an amazing societal change, and she was instrumental in shaping that change. I have lived a life significantly devoid of direct discrimination because of brave pioneers, activists like Del Martin and Phyllis Lyon who not only spoke up, but lived their lives defiantly. All of us, gay or straight, owe them both a debt of gratitude for changing the world.

Greetings from the shelter

The little box which served up this page to you is now living in a datacenter in downtown San Jose, much closer to the world headquarters than its previous location.

As long as he doesn’t get married

Bwah? Is this real?

More than six in ten U.S. voters say they could support an openly gay candidate for president of the United States, and 70% say they’d support the appointment of an openly gay cabinet secretary, according to a new nationwide poll from Zogby International.

Sixty-six percent of poll respondents said they could support an openly gay vice-presidential candidate, while 69% said a gay candidate for U.S. Senate could get their vote. The poll of 1,089 adults was conducted August 13 to 15 for the Gay & Lesbian Leadership Institute (GLLI), a non-partisan leadership development organization. [Victory Fund]

There has got to be more to the demographics of this poll. We’re talking about an electorate that worries about a candidate’s income, what kind of underwear they wear, their wife’s job, the number of houses they own… and they think that 60% of Americans would vote for a gay president?
Kind of makes you wonder: it’s okay to elect a gay person to the highest office in the country, but dammit — they shouldn’t be allowed to marry. Ever.

Saddle up for a bumpy ride, pardner

“Does a guy who made more than $4 million last year, just got back from vacation on a private beach in Hawaii and bought his own million-dollar mansion with the help of a convicted felon really want to get into a debate about houses?” asked McCain spokesman Brian Rogers.

Well… $4 million is chump change to the Republican elite.

And anyone can go on vacation to Hawaii at a private beach resort. What’s wrong with that? Hell, two of my neighbors have been to Hawaii in the last few months, and they don’t own houses at all.

And as for a million-dollar mansion… well, a million dollars doesn’t go very far, mansion or not. My 830sf house in San Jose cost more than a half million. So frankly, if Barack Obama purchased a million-dollar mansion, I applaud his ability to pinch pennies and find a bargain.

Nothing is funnier than a guy who owns not just a total of eight properties, but an estate, calling the other guy an elitist. This campaign is really gonna be a wild Rovian ride of hypocrisy, isn’t it?

Made especially for you

Who sewed your shirt? Harvested your coffee? Picked your tomatoes?

Pining for the 1G

For the last month, people using Apple’s iPhone 3G — including me — have bemoaned its poor 3G connectivity. I had plenty of trouble getting a decent signal with the previous phone, but the new one is far worse, to the point of not being able to use it as a phone at all.

Dreams of a starving artist

Dear lord, I desperately wish I had the money to create an art installation like this. I dream of doing cool stuff like this and making it interactive, imbuing it with a little intelligence to generate art on the fly as people wander by…