Why Is the Christian Right So Enthralled With Torture and Lies?

Why is the Christian Right-wing so enthralled with torture?  For that matter why are they so inclined to telling lies?  I’m on the sidelines here, as a person without religious affiliation, so I’d hope that would give me the perspective of one on the outside looking-in – but it doesn’t.  I don’t understand the blood-thirstiness of the Christian “right.”  Nor do I understand the glib little fibs they dish-up daily – whether it’s taking Obama’s words out of context or tap-dancing around around multiple marriages and secret mistresses.  This does not appear to be a very honorable line-up of candidates.

Michele Bachmann thinks nothing of making-up a story that is yet to be substantiated about a mother’s trauma upon learning her daughter became mentally retarded from being administered the HPV vaccine.  No one has yet to step forward and claim to be that parent – because there is no such person and no such incident ever took place.

Mitt Romney has been on all sides of every issue depending on whatever best suits his political aspirations at the time.  All the other GOP candidates from Cain to Santorum have endorsed what they like to politely call “enhanced interrogation techniques…”  Correct me if I’m wrong, but weren’t the countless numbers of people executed on a daily basis by the ancient Romans, an attempt to quash anyone who disagreed with their empire?  If memory serves me, Christ was one of those people tortured and killed to make a frightening example to deter others from following in his footsteps.  It doesn’t seem to have worked – but the cult does appear to have gotten way off track.  Whatever it is that makes the new faithful stray so far from the core values of the Prince of Peace is a complete mystery to me.  

I find it stunning to watch GOP crowds cheering Rick Perry’s record number of death-sentences – even though some of these cases remain highly disputable as to the guilt of the people executed.  Currently I’m astonished that Newt Gingrich is in reach of becoming the GOP candidate especially in light of his reprehensible conduct over the past 30 years he’s been hawking his own convoluted world-view.  Now he’s touting water-boarding, as legal when he knows damned well the world community severely admonished Japan for using those same “techniques” during World War II. These acts are illegal in the eyes of the civilized world – and embracing them does not gain America the moral high-ground.  

“Thou Shalt Not Lie” and “Thou Shalt Not Kill” are basic principals of Western religion, but I don’t see any signs that indicate it’s stopping anyone.  We might as well toss-in “Thou Shalt Not Steal” while we’re at it – covering only 3 of the 10 famous little guidelines, all of which are pretty easy to grasp.  

Newt and the far-right took great glee in making fun of passive students at UC Davis being pepper-sprayed at close range not in accordance with how or when that kind of action is deemed necessary or appropriate.  There seems to be a streak of sadism in the collective perceptions of bible-belt Christians which is not at all becoming.  Doubtlessly all these Christian Republicans will exchange expensive gifts come Christmas, and weep over their chocolate bunnies come Easter.  Meanwhile it will never occur to them they ARE the modern Pontius Pilate’s – they’re the contemporary cruel Romans, and there should be no place for them in governing our country.

I wonder if spending too much time contemplating carved Crucifixes over church alters has somehow perverted the GOP moral compass?  Maybe they enjoy the suffering and pain of others.  It’s beyond the scope of my understanding. 


What Would Christ Say About Black Friday?

What would Christ have to say about Black Friday?  For that matter what would Christ have to say about the Christmas holiday shopping season in general?  Well for one thing, he’d probably say “It has nothing to do with me, I’m Jewish.”

The Christmas holiday season is traditionally launched each year with someone being trampled to death as shoppers storm through the gates of Walmart – or by shooting someone in the kneecaps to get a parking space.  This year it’s pepper-spraying anyone who gets to the Nintendo game you plan to purchase for a loved one – even if it means temporarily choking or blinding another shopper to prevent them from getting to it first.  

‘Black Friday’ is for crazy people.  

No one with a modicum of common sense or decency goes anywhere near a retail outlet during the entire Christmas shopping season.  In fact the month-long block of time that begins with your first turkey-fart in the mob pressing itself against the doors outside the mall… up until the day after Christmas when everyone rushes to return the crap others have so thoughtfully gifted to one another – is an exercise in lost time.

NOTHING at all happens during the holy month of retail greed.  Try making a call to a work associate’s office at any point during the month of December, and generally you’ll find you’ll have to leave a message, because no one is answering the phones – even the secretaries are missing.  The whole block of time from Thanksgiving, through Christmas until the day after New Year’s is a akin to a vacation in the Bermuda Triangle.  Even Congress gets nothing done, but then again that’s not unusual…  Everyone you try to reach is unavailable because they’re frothing at the mouth in a zombie-like state of shopping-frenzy.

While I’m of no real religious affiliation, I have a certain admiration for the teachings of Christ, and from where I stand, the Christmas holidays have come to represent the diametric opposite of any and everything Christ stood for.  In point of fact, the religious Christian “right” are in complete opposition to everything Christ stood for.  Christ would have been trying to feed the poor and joining-in at the ‘Occupy Movement.’  He wouldn’t have been cheering record numbers of human executions in Texas or attempting to deport brown-skinned peoples, breaking-up families because not all of them were born in America.  Christ wouldn’t even be a republican for Christ’s sake…!!!

Jesus Christ most certainly wouldn’t be participating in ‘Black Friday.’  Odd how the launch of the shopping season of greed is called ‘Black Friday’ – and the day Christ was nailed to a cross to suffer and die an agonizing death is called ‘Good Friday.’  Is this fucked-up or is it all just my imagination?  Whichever it is, I’m going to once again do everything in my power to avoid as much of the Christmas holiday season as possible.  

It’s my annual yuletide challenge – how much of Christmastime can I both ignore and endure all at once?  Whatever the madness is of this lost-time experience known as ‘Christmas’ – the war on Christmas isn’t coming from the people who say ‘Season’s Greetings’ – it’s a perversion coming from within the self-proclaimed faithful themselves. Everyone has lost all sight of faith, hope and charity.  If I’m not mistaken, Faith, Hope and Charity are all tearing at each others ratted-hair for the last ‘Fuck-Me-Up-Elmo’ on the shelves – or whatever other soon-to-be-abandoned waste of synthetic materials shoppers are willing to poke-out each others eyes to obtain for their loved ones.  I’d like to hibernate through the Christmas season until the ‘all-clear’ has been sounded.  Just wake me when it’s over.


A Reprise (by popular demand) of Last Year’s Thanksgivng Story

 Many years back when I lived in Upstate New York I worked in a series of department stores.  All of which are since defunct or re-branded to reflect national chains.  Years ago cities prided themselves on their own stores, touting local retailers as a reason to visit such backwater cities as Rochester, Buffalo and Syracuse.  While living in Rochester I made the acquaintance of a little old lady named Gracie.  She was a tiny little thing full of life and spunk.  She had a slight over-bite and wire spectacles that magnified her eyes, especially at the half-moons at the bottom of each lens.  Gracie operated the display department sewing-machine at the once prestigious, Sibley, Lindsay and Curr Department Store.  She often worked late to make table-cloths or sneak-in drag-costumes for ‘staple-gun-queens’ at Halloween.  But only for the kids she’d taken a shine to.  She was good with her hands despite some arthritis.  She kept herself trim, prim and proper in the eyes of management while being a covert confident to all the employees.

As the Thanksgiving holidays approach, every person who has ever worked in retail display reaches a level of exhaustion unparalleled in the universe.  In retail merchandising, you’ve been planning, discussing and executing Christmas since June 15th, and you’re just about holidayed-out by the day before Thanksgiving.

I purposely forget holidays.  I never cared for them.

That being the case, I tend to be the “odd” person invited to various “orphan” Thanksgiving celebrations over the years.  As the ’gay-relative’ I never kept that much family close-by when I was first out on my own.

Working in a display department exhausts a person physically and mentally in the days leading-up to Black Friday — and here little Gracie, nearly 40 years my senior, sensing a lost kindred-spirit, invited me to join her family for turkey day.  I was invited to have Thanksgiving with she, her son, daughter-in-law and grandchild.  I couldn’t imagine how in the WORLD this tiny little energetic lady had sewn 175 circular tablecloths of various dimensions WITH decorative trim — fluffed dozens of yards of garland — and decorated countless artificial Christmas trees all while planning and executing a Thanksgiving dinner for family and extended company!

A few other people were invited on a drop-in basis, mostly people I knew, but Gracie warned me about her sister Roslyn.  Nothing ever pleased Roslyn.  Food was too hot, too salty, not salty enough.  The room was chilly, stuffy or too drafty.  Nothing was ever quite right.  Gracie, while widowed, had at least scored a man.  Roslyn had devoted her spinster’s life to a management career at the bank, and always dressed the part — right down to the discreet, but obviously real jewels she wore — constantly reminding everyone of their pedigree and authenticity. According to Gracie, Roslyn wore her jewels like she owned the ‘Star of India‘.

Gracie on the other hand, worked hard for a meager living, and carried a bicycle chain in her purse when she came or went from her ‘marginal’ middle-class neighborhood — just in case she had to ‘clock‘ somebody someday to insure her own safety.  On occasion, if she worked really late at Sibley, Lindsay and Curr, Gracie (well into her sixties) would would walk home swinging that bicycle chain above her head like Spartacus entering the Coliseum.  But only when she was forced to cross the Court Street Bridge on foot due to missing the bus.  The foot paths on the Court Street Bridge could get very creepy late at night.

Life was different for Roslyn.  She bought a new car every year and kept residence in an apartment where she was greeted by a doorman on the “better” side of town in one of the other blighted snow-belt capitals of Upstate New York.

Gracie confided in me she’d never asked a thing from Roslyn but that she behave herself “once-in-a-blue-moon” at family gatherings. And not comment on other people‘s weight, or wax-rhapsodic about the Amalfi Coast, knowing full-well no one else had been.  Gracie would try to keep conversation going by saying she’d enjoyed seeing the Amalfi Coast covered in the National Geographic until she turned the page and saw bare-breasted natives who were clearly from somewhere other than the Amalfi Coast.  If only Roslyn would stop being such a braggart, so annoying, so pretentious, so critical of everyone — that was all Gracie was asking.

But according to Gracie, Roslyn found remarkable ways of delivering an insult while allowing her Freudian slip to show well below the hem — especially after a nip of single-malt scotch from a flask she brought herself so as to insure it‘s quality…  Roslyn told Gracie once, that she was “glad” Gracie had married that soldier Roslyn had “lost interest” in.  But the way Gracie told it, Gracie saw him first, and Roslyn had tried to steal him from her right-up until the wedding ceremony.  Roslyn attributed her success to not falling for a blue-collar ex-serviceman thus securing her place in the world as a formidable business woman.

Flash forward.

…So after several decades of on and off “not speaking” — Roslyn was going to ‘grace’ Gracie’s table for Thanksgiving — and I was invited to join them — but with fair-warning that Roslyn took no prisoners — had NO filters — and spoke her mind even if it was hurtful.

Warning duly noted.

I was bringing a pecan pie, bought the day before from a bakery shop on the other side of town.  It was a hefty chore, since ice and sleet had already descended on Rochester, glazing ALL of Upstate New York…  Meanwhile, they couldn’t have been toastier in Toronto, but the North wind blowing over lake Ontario had triggered a sugar-coated ice-storm in the ‘snow-belt‘.  No sooner would it end than it would start-up again, never thawing.  The storm lasted for forever…

I rang-up Gracie at noon on Thanksgiving day to make sure dinner was still “on” given how ‘slick’ it was outside.  I lived walking distance from Gracie, but her family and friends were coming from Buffalo, Syracuse and Ithaca.

I was told to come over midday and was assured everyone had arrived safely late the night before — except for Roslyn who’d just called from a rest-stop on Interstate 490 to say she was coming, but only because she was well better than halfway there and would otherwise have turned back.

I said I’d be there by 3PM or so.  Gracie, already pissed-off with Roslyn’s snide remark, said we’d start dinner with or without her persnickety sister.  Gracie went on to say that Roslyn would be in particularly sour-spirits at driving all that distance for what she would undoubtedly criticize as “dry turkey” (even if it was moist) and stuffing that wasn’t near as good as what their mother had once made (even though it was their mother‘s own recipe.) 

It was then I remembered what I’d always known: “God bless and keep my family a minimum of 600 miles away for all periods of time longer than an extended weekend.”

At about 2:30 in the afternoon, I attempted to walk my dog named ‘Autumn’, who while young and chipper could not maneuver well on the ice.  Poor thing splayed herself out on the slippery sidewalk like Bambi‘s first steps.  Autumn, couldn’t keep upright on the ice.

Nor could I.

I clung to walls, branches, hedges and gates until the dog found the right spot.  Then we navigated our way back via lampposts, telephone poles and street signs. Dropping-off the dog at home, I set-out for Gracie’s with the wind and freezing-water gathering in my eyebrows and mustache.  It took forever to walk even a few steps with each carefully calculated footfall.  Nevertheless I hit the ground HARD a couple times landing square on my tailbone.

Eventually I made my way to Gracie’s house.  Clutching the front banister for dear life, I rang the bell, but not before taking one last tail-spin to the ground.  It was then that I saw it.  The car.  A duo-tone Cadillac Fleetwood Eldorado perfectly parallel-parked in front of the house.  Given Gracie’s neighborhood, either a pimp was making holiday rounds, or Roslyn had arrived.

When the doorbell didn’t rouse anyone, I knocked at the shaky, tired, peeling green Victorian screen door trimmed with a wreath backed with white iridescent polyester fabric I recognized from the store’s table cloths. Table cloths which would premiere for Black Friday tomorrow morning at 10AM when the store opened.

I admired Gracie’s red and green plaid grosgrain bows and swags.  She didn‘t have money, but she had style, even if she did swipe all her supplies from work.

As I mentioned, Gracie and I worked all hours of overtime the night before and for weeks and weeks prior…  Here I was, exhausted in my early 20’s wondering where-in-the-world she found the time — let alone the energy to have decorated her own home.

Gracie opened the door, and warned me “Roslyn is in unusually bad spirits this evening.”  She’d arrived stinking of scotch, and was working her way around the table telling everyone what she REALLY thought of them.  Other people’s families are not my problem, but a home-cooked meal was just fine so long as I wasn’t the victim of Roslyn’s scrutiny.  And why should I be?  I can be charming, and I’d never even met the woman.

Having arrived late due to the ice, the whole family was already gathered around the table and had begun eating.  I‘d missed hand-holding and saying grace – just as well…

I took my place at the table following brief introductions.

But Roslyn ignored me.

I do NOT like to be ignored.  I understand shyness, but I recognize hostility.

Roslyn looked at me with a stillness of expression that told me I was beneath introduction.  There was definitely something wrong with that woman – she unnerved me.

Once Gracie had heaped my plate with traditional dishes, I glanced across the table at Roslyn who was still glaring at me eye-level — it made me determined to be all the more courteous to a fault.

But there was that stoic, almost ‘other-worldly’ face glaring back at me.  Smiling sweetly, I asked Roslyn to pass the gravy as a way to break the ice.  At which point, she promptly slumped over and died.  Face-first into the gravy boat with little tufts of yellow-white hair thirstily absorbing the thick, oily, floured liquid.

There was a beat of time wherein no one fully absorbed what had just transpired.  Had she passed-out drunk…?  Or fainted…?  Wiping the gravy from her sister’s face, Gracie lifted Roslyn’s head and put a compact-mirror by her sister’s nose and mouth, but couldn’t tell if the condensation was coming from the gravy or from her breath.  She didn’t look to me like she was breathing, and I said so, which threw everyone else into breathless bedlam.  Cell phones didn’t exist back then.  Neither did 911.  So I took it upon myself to ‘dial’ the operator from the kitchen phone and told the woman to contact the police and emergency and gave her the distressed address.

Before the paramedics arrived and declared Roslyn dead on the scene from what later proved to be an aneurysm, it was the human reactions that fascinated me.  Gracie was guilt-ridden for having made such a fuss over Roslyn’s many faults.  But while it was all unfolding, Gracie’s daughter-in-law was removing jewelry from the body.  The choker necklace I could understand, but relatives were pulling the jewelry off her fingers and earlobes while other guests continued in a surreal way to pick at their plates.

Gracie was nothing short of bewildered.  After all, there was a corpse at her holiday table other than the turkey.  And in an indescribable moment of awkwardness offered me left-over’s to take home as the medical team hoisted Roslyn onto a gurney.

Ever the gracious host.

Gracie signed a form bound for the coroner‘s office.  I declined accepting the “goody bag“ she offered.  Just my mind’s-eye memory of Roslyn’s facial expression and her yellow-tinted hair soaking-up gravy through capillary action had put me off my appetite.

I had done my part by contacting emergency and after an awkward silence I bed my farewell.  This had become a family moment where I felt compelled to leave them to sort things out on their own.  Through befuddled goodbyes, no one was even feigning tears.  I made my exit to allow Gracie and the family to pick over the carcass of their spoiled celebration.

Bracing myself against the cold, damp wind, I slipped and slided my way home to the barren refrigerator in my little apartment.  All I had in the house were ketchup, stale bread and 2 frozen pork chops.

Still a bit shell-shocked, I let the dog out the back door to pee in the yard on her own, and popped two frozen pork-chops under the broiler.  Away from the “scene” I was suddenly hungry-as-hell in spite of what I’d just witnessed.  The broiler door jammed so I forced it shut with my foot, catapulting the pork chops into an irretrievable space behind the oven where they were left to thaw and stink-up the apartment for months to come.

Turning off the oven, I ate two slices of stale bread covered in ketchup and went to bed.  I had to go to work the next morning for ‘Black Friday’ in the event that any of the displays collapsed under the weight of ‘shoppers stampede’.

Poor Gracie got a week off for a death in the family – though she confided in me she still hadn’t cried, but she’d been left everything as next of kin.  There was no will.


The Right of the People Peaceably to Assemble

The 1st Amendment of the United States Constitution clearly grants “the right of the people to peaceably assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.” There is no provision therein giving any right to authorities to pepper-spray students protesting unaffordable increases in college tuition leading to a jobless future. Likewise there is no reasonable explanation for our police departments to confiscate tents and other property belonging protestors across the nation, let alone destroying their books, simply because protests look and smell messy to the privileged. What’s this country coming to? Fahrenheit 451?

Time and again officials mishandle protestors to the point of blatant abuse, and by doing-so further empower the very causes those authorities seek to diffuse. The depression we’re experiencing is only a depression if you’re one of the people sitting on the bottom rung of the ladder. The bottom rung of the ladder is a very vulnerable place to be.  Wealthy politicians wouldn’t know much about that.  Take for instance, Newt Gingrich, who completely missed the mark when he made comments directed at the disadvantaged at last night’s republican “morality forum” saying that protestors need to “Go get a job right after you take a bath!”  A job? What job? Where? There’s job somewhere? More importantly – what the fucking hell is Newt Gingrich doing at a MORALITY FORUM? – Aside from offering a sterling example of what morality doesn’t look-like…

I have no appetite for confrontation. Discord makes me sick to my stomach, but we’re in a current state of affairs where conflict and clashes are inevitable. The fuse has already been lit and the fires fanned by authroity figures who don’t think before they act or give orders.  For the ‘greatest generation’ today’s political and financial climate must feel like the great depression of the 1930’s – with banks running amok while wealthy ineffective congressmen fail to reach any kind of compromise to cure our nations financial ills. Instead, our congresspeople are attempting to deprive seniors of the Medicaid and Medicare they’ve come to rely upon – and paid into their entire lives.

To my generation it feels a bit like the Vietnam War protest days. It infuriates me how people never learn from history. Over the past decade neo-con wing-nuts have been doing everything in their power to remove history from school curriculum’s across the nation. It’s easier to deceive people when they have no idea of what has gone before.  The line drawn under the current math equals a dim prospect for the future of both the young and old alike – unless you’re wealthy enough to be insulated from the impending turmoil. The only coping mechanism is to petition your doctor to write a prescription covered by your health plan (providing you have one) for heavy sedatives and anti-depressants.  In light of all the suffering and inequity in this world, it’s curious to me how the republican party clings to the artifice of Christianity while doing everything possible to contradict Christian teachings.  Last I checked, greed and disdain for the needy were not embraced by Christ.  Christ would most assuredly have been among the 99 percent protestor and not feeding at the table of greed-mongers.

I think the dog and I need to go hide under the bed and hope we feel more hopeful in the morning. I’m at a loss to know what any of us can do to redirect the destructive winds of change – other than taking solace in the way forests burn only to make way for new life – but who the hell wants to be caught in the middle of a forest fire?

World Hunger Begins in the Finest Restaurants

NEWS FLASH:  The rich are starving themselves to death while people like me are lucky to live on a $200 a month food allowance.  Winnie and I are not only among the 99% – we live way below the poverty line.  Artists have always struggled financially unless they’re really sell-out artists who are more ‘left’ than ‘right’ brained with wealthy parents – OR – lucky enough to have landed a personal Medici.  Winnie eats kibble, and then she’s allowed to lick my plate clean when I’m done.  I’ve become accustomed to rice and beans or peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, but on the rare occasion that I do get to go out for dinner, I don’t want a plate half-filed with decorative garnishes hiding an entree no bigger than an appetizer. 

While I’m poor, the greater number of people I know socially are not nearly as bad off as myself.  Truth to tell, some of them might even be in the upper one percentile, but they belong to the small faction therein of wealthy-folk who wouldn’t object to paying a little more in taxes.  Some of these mini-Buffets have taken me to restaurants where “buffet” would be de rigueur – salad bars are apparently for the lower middle-class.

I was at one restaurant where my dinner companion ordered a ‘house-salad’ – and out came a careful arrangement of greens fastidiously trimmed like a box-hedge, no bigger than a credit card floating in the middle of a HUGE otherwise empty plate.  I suppose it should come as some comfort to the poor that the rich aren’t getting enough to eat either.  

Perhaps not…

Imperious aspiring thespian waitrons describe the specials of the day which sound to me like ‘The Lord of the Rings’ translated into Coptic and read backwards.  “Tonight’s special is a kerfuffle of blunderbuss marinated in a semi-sweet reduction of freeze d’anti topped en glaze with a confusion of sauteed aphasia, garnished with a decorative pap-smear and one artfully placed berry for fifty-five dollars.”  Are they fuckin’ kidding me?  Better than one quarter of my monthly food allowance for mystery food the size of a bonbon?  Am I seriously expected to saw-away at miniscule forkful of make-believe food and pretend I’m really having dinner? 

Such is ‘nouvelle cousine.’
I first heard of nouvelle cousine about 30 years ago and was certain – like punk rock and gangsta-rap –  it would eventually go away, but none of the aforementioned offenders have.  This means either I’m getting old or merely falling out-of-step with au currant style…

God forbid you should ask your waitron what the devil all that gibberish means on the menu you’re squinting to read – or pose a question during the oral-presentation of the nonsense dish of the day…  They’ll look down on you with that inimitable expression that says “I can smell cheeses you can’t even pronounce.”  There’s nothing worse than being snobbed-out by a 22 year old actor/waiter/model wannabee.   At least “tall food” with stupid rosemary sprigs poking-out your eyes has gone out of favor.

It comes down to this:  The economy is in the crapper and I want something to eat.  I don’t want to stop by a pizzeria and buy a slice to fill myself-up after a pricy meal – no matter who pays for it.  And if I wanted my dinner to look like a work of art, I’d have been born as a silverfish or a daddy long legs.  No wise cracks.  Once a meal is consumed and digested, it exits as gas and waste material flushed-down the toilet for a $55 entree – not including the price of the appetizer, beverages, desert, tax and gratuity.  It’s a damned good thing I like rice and beans.

Tap Dancing Around the Truth

The past few weeks of news have been full of appalling allegations of sexual impropriety.  Even an adult woman stepped forward accusing teeny-bopper Justin Bieber of fathering her baby – and in doing-so doing so put herself in the potential hot-seat for statutory rape.  Bieber handled the absurd allegations like a mature adult, and put the matter to rest as nonsense.  The accused adults in the other disgusting sexual dramas of the past week have not.

Sexual impropriety is in the news almost every day, and it wouldn’t be so surprising were it not for the power-players involved and the nature of the abuses.  No one ever expected to see the legendary Joe Paterno retired from Penn State’s Nittany Lions under such a pall of disgrace.  Inaction is Paterno’s crime, failing to take more definitive steps when confronted with a horror story of child sexual abuse.  Unrelated, but concurrent news made Herman Cain the subject of allegations for multiple cases of sexual impropriety while employed as the CEO of Godfather’s Pizza.  The Cain case may be salacious, but it isn’t nearly as disturbing as what allegedly took place at Penn State.  

I suspect both cases have one thing in common: hush-ups by the human resources departments of both institutions.

Employees who work for a large institution believe ‘human resources’ is there to guide and protect them.  It’s more accurate to assume the covert mission of human resources is to protect the reputation of the institution they serve – hopefully never needing public relations to put a ‘spin’ on whatever skeletons might be hidden in the corporate closet.

I can’t find it in me to write anything humorous about either of these headline stories.  Both are tragic on too many levels to explore.   That said, generic sexual misconduct is disgusting enough – but pedophilia is beyond repulsive.  

Herman Cain’s actions are not proven, but where there’s smoke…  That said, Mr Cain’s actions don’t call into question the integrity of all CEO’s any more than it does that of every man or every black man.  It’s preposterous to assume a generalization like that.  

As a gay man, one concern I have, is the fear that charges leveled against former assistant coach Jerry Sandusky might cause a backlash against the general population of gay men.  Sandusky is a pedophile, which is entirely different than being a gay man.  Looking back, people were not inclined to believe all female middle-school teachers were sex-offenders when Mary Kay LaTourneau gave birth to a child fathered by one of her students.  Clearly the immediate concern is for the victims – however, I hope people, will not, in ignorance equate the Penn Sate scandal with the mainstream gay lifestyle.

I had an experience when I was a little boy where an older teenager molested me.  I couldn’t have been more than 7 or 8 years old at the time.  Right after it happened, I went home and told my parents.  My father went to the teenager’s home and punched-out the kid’s uncle, who was raising the boy.  The teenage boy was sent to reform-school.  Now I can’t help but wonder if he was acting out of learned behavior at home.  I’ll never know.  Following the incident I experienced, my reaction was to get fat.  Prior to that experience my name used to come over the school’s PA system once a week – “Will Bill Whiting please come to the nurse’s office for underweight check.”  I still find it difficult to believe they used to do that.  I started to over-eat in an effort to get fat so as to hide myself. 

My experience when I was a boy isn’t what made me gay – and it most certainly didn’t turn me into a pedophile.  If anything, that experience left me with an extreme discomfort with sexual intimacy I’ve battled most of my life.  As an adult, I’ve fended off unwanted advances, but I was better prepared to do so.  As a child, I was not.

Herman Cain’s shenanigans were appalling, but not surprising.  Pedophilia on the other hand is an inexcusable disorder which psychiatric experts claim is incurable.  It is important to stress that pedophilia should not be confused with homosexuality.  In point of fact – most pedophiles are heterosexual.  

There seems to be an odd kind of similarity between misconduct among politicians and misconduct among sports heroes.  Too much power and not enough accountability.  But primarily what I’m left with is a sense of horror and compassion for the victims of any and all abuse.  The reputation of a corporation or a school is not worth the damage suffered by victims of sexual abuse, especially when they are children.

How the Other Half Lives – Or Rather the Other One Percent

No doubt Rick Perry sweeps across the lawn in Scarlett O’Hara drag at his 6,386 square foot mansion in Barton Creek, Texas.  “You go girl.”

The style to which the GOP Presidential candidates have become accustomed, places them all in ‘ivory towers’ far away from the 99 percent of struggling Americans.  They can’t even see the struggling masses from the attic window, let alone relate to their plight.  Out of sight, out of mind, and those people are decidedly out of their minds. 

The 2012 batch of Republican candidates are so quick to criticize Barack Obama for driving-up the national debt, when in reality his contribution to the national debt is vastly smaller than any of his four predecessors – about 1/8th of George W. Bush’s tab left unpaid.  But that’s not the point Republicans want heard – they want to make Obama look like a reckless spender.  In other words, it’s the pot calling the kettle a spendthrift. 

Why I declare, it’s Twelve Oaks.

Rick Perry’s 6,386 square foot mansion in Barton Creek, Texas is valued at 1.8 million dollars.  But fear not – he only rents the place – at a whopping $10,000 a month – a total cost to taxpayers of a half million and counting.   But who’s counting?  He also rents a hunting lodge with a giant rock at the entrance where up until very recently was emblazoned with a racial slur meant to be the name of the estate.   To quote Rick himself, “You go girl.”  Really.  Just go…

Herman Cain’s home in Ubeckybeckybeckystan

Rick Perry no doubt thought Herman Cain was going to mow Perry’s lawn, but instead Cain ate his lunch – in spite of Herman’s 999 gaffs, ignorance about China’s nuclear capabilities and multiple allegations of sexual misconduct, the dude is way out front of the other contenders.  WAIT, HOLD THE PRESSES – A 4th woman has stepped forward and Cain is on the verge of political free-fall.  Be that as it may, Herman Cain lives in a 3,200 square foot manse in McDonough, Georgia on a lovely cul de sac surrounded by other pricey properties.  It pays to be the Koch brother’s “Brother from another mother.”  

Mitt Romney lives in Santa’s Magic Village.

Poor Mitt Romney who is down to only 3 mansions after selling-off his multimillion dollar Boston estate, is currently building a $12 million dollar beachfront compound in La Jolla, California so he can have a retreat to get away from his luxurious lake-front vacation home in Wolfeboro, New Hampshire.  He finds it so convenient not having to stay at a motel while attending the New Hampshire primaries…  But Mitt, (the man who thinks corporations are people), boasts the most vulgar palace of all the GOP candidates with his ‘pile’ in Park City, Utah, valued at 5.5 million.  Mitt’s primary residence is a 9,500 square-foot building that looks more like a small town in Bavaria than a private home. 

The looks like a country golf club with an Olympic pool.

Ron Paul’s 5,500 square foot estate in Lake Jackson, Texas has more than ample acreage surrounding it to keep the commoners at bay, AND at a safe shooting distance.  Perhaps like Mad Ludwig, he could shoot peasants on the lawn for fun – as a bold gesture of Libertarian freedom – his of course, not theirs.  

This house is a boil on the landsc

Leave it to Michelle Bachmann, the queen of crazy to live in the tackiest nouveau riche  McMansion in the whole world.  Her home in Stillwater, Minnesota is a 5,200 square foot tract-mansion with a lovely view of the 18th hole of the Stoneridge Golf Course with plenty of space to pray away the gay.  Now if only someone trying for a hole-in-one could over-reach with accidental aim…   Bachmann who has always been irrelevant as a real presidential hopeful, is polling in the low single digits – just like she and her husband’s combined IQ’s.  The high point of Michelle’s service in Congress was her introduction of the “Freedom of Choice Light Bulb Act” which enables consumers to continue having the right to purchase energy-wasting old-fashioned bulbs so we might further stress-out our national energy needs.  

The Huntsman family roller-skate in the kitchen at night.

John Huntsman’s 3.6 million dollar, 5,500 square foot Georgian townhouse in Washington, DC is the only Republican candidate to actually own a tasteful piece of real estate.  Huntsman is also the only marginally sane hopeful in the GOP 2012 line-up, which completely eliminates him from having any chance of getting past the neo-con crazies who have the final say on who will run.  Huntsman, like Romney, is a Mormon – so the both need a lot of space since they reproduce faster than a cage full of Catholic rabbits.  At least Huntsman has a pretty house.  

Rumor has it the interiors are jewel encrusted.

Newt Gingrich’s million dollar estate offers plenty of room for he and 3rd wife, Callista to store the crown jewels she’s acquired on revolving credit at Tiffany’s.  The Newtster, who left both of his previous wives after each of them became gravely ill – could (if he wanted to) – make space to put-up his disabled former wives by having them share one of his multiple bedrooms.  But what’s the point of having a harem if all the girls aren’t blonde, pretty and in perfect health?  “Til death do us part” is for other people.  Newt’s Christian “values” are only invoked when convenient.  

Apparently no one want to be his next door neighbor.

Rick Santorum’s million dollar, 5,000 square foot Leesburg, Virgina mansion is “far from the madding crowd,” begging the question: what’s the point of being far from the madding crowd when you’re already mad as a hatter?  Santorum takes his ‘crazy’ with him, wearing it like a badge of honor.   The former Pennsylvania Congressman believes gay marriage will eventually lead to legalizing bestiality unions.  A few years back Rick was the subject of a Philadelphia musical comedy about his career, using only Santorum’s own direct quotes concocted all by himself with his tiny-little bigoted brain – set to music.   Although I didn’t see the musical when it was performed here in Philadelphia, I heard it was hilarious.

Obama’s house is more like a middle class home.

Barack Obama’s home in Chicago is the kind of normal house on a comfortable street like Anytown, USA.  It’s pretty, it’s upscale, but it isn’t vulgar and showy.  In fact it looks a lot like any number of homes millions of American’s are trying to hang-onto while facing foreclosure.  The Obama home is not to be confused with the White House, that’s merely a perk that comes with being president.  

Who do you think has a better grasp of what’s happening to the American middle class?  The over-privileged, self-serving line-up of lunatics that comprise the 2012 GOB hopefuls?  Or Barack Obama?  I know who I’ll vote for, and it won’t be anyone slashing social safety nets while padding their own pockets with tax-cuts for the top 2% of the nation.

The Ninty-niner’s Occupy Movement ‘tent city’ in Oakland, California.  Like Haiti, only with newer tents.

There’s GOTTA Be Another Way…

I don’t mean to complain, but who am I kidding?  Of course I do.  Making your living as an artist is the work of dreamers and fools.  Fools like me, who never really considered ever being anything other than an artist.   An artist is like the proverbial ‘canary in a coal mine’ when it comes to the economy.  Art whether commissioned by individuals or corporations IS discretionary spending.  When money’s tight, art is the first thing to go.  Even before the rest of the world notices the economy is in the crapper, artists, who for the most part, scramble to survive as it is, thus feeling the pinch first.  The economic downturn started for me about ten years ago.

Curiously enough artists are one of the few professions where ‘tinkle-down’ economics does to some degree apply.  However, even in the best economy people want art to be dickered-down to as cheap as possible if not out and out given away for free.  Most of what I create winds-up being bartered just to survive.  Money?  What the hell is that?  

There’s a interesting dynamic to being an artist insofar as artists of all descriptions and disciplines occupy both the pit and pinnacle of society all at the same time.  Van Gogh while a genius, (granted, a schizophrenic genius), didn’t have a pot to piss-in – however once he died his work went on the auction block for record amounts in the millions.  He never enjoyed any of that financial success while alive.  Art dealers and collectors on the other hand, did.  How demoralizing is it to think you have to be dead to be worth something?       

Cultures are defined by the art they produce, be it painting, sculpture, music, dance, architecture or come what may…  Try and get a mortgage or a bank loan with any of the aforementioned listed on your resume, and there’s not a chance in hell.  If you’re a paper-pushing cubicle-monkey, all the way up to the paper-pushing CEO-monkey earning money off of money – doing whatever the devil paper-pushers do – you’ll get a bank loan or mortgage – perhaps even two.  Most paper-pusher’s work eventually winds-up shredder, leaving little to show for what they’ve done aside from collecting a steady paycheck.  Art lasts and continues to give.  Expensive plastic gadgets and other “trendy cool stuff” breaks down and fails you, while a treasured work of art is always there to enjoy.

I’ve dealt with clients who don’t know what they want, then try make it your fault when you haven’t properly read their minds.  I’ve had clients who put-down a deposit on a commission they brag about loving, but never pay the balance because they know an artist doesn’t have the financial means to pursue them in court.  Meanwhile the artwork looks lovely in their lavish Society Hill townhouse.  

Something my wealthiest clients love to say is: “Isn’t that painting lovely?  It was a gift from the artist.”  (Probably in exchange for a meal.)  Knowing artists is cool.  Being one is nothing short of demoralizing.   My most affluent accounts over the years frequently drag-out final payments for 120 days and think nothing of it.  When I call the bookkeepers with cage-rattling calls for balances due, I hear things like “Mr So-and-so has taken a villa in Tuscany for the next two months, and won’t be able to sign your check until he returns.”  How nice for Mister So-and-so.  

A word of advise to all the aspiring young artists out there:  Learn from my example and acquire a marketable skill aside from painting, dance or sculpture, etc…   The idea of being a starving artist is much more romantic in theory than it is in reality as a lifestyle.  

I might as well start another painting that I’ll only wind-up giving-away anyway.  That’s how the business works.

Vincent van Duchdt – tormented painter.


Ann Coulter Opens Her Mouth Only to Change One of Her Size 12 Feet

OK, it was 14 score and 6 years ago that Lincoln was assassinated, but who’s counting…?

Ann Coulter only ever opens her mouth to change one of her size 12 feet.  Maybe she needs to stop grazing on those tree-top leaves – they must have a higher content of toxic acid rain.  Most conservative political pundits display a barely nodding acquaintance with cultural, racial, ethnic and sexual diversity – but Ann Coulter’s most recent gaff exposes her for the perfect hypocrite she really is.  “Our blacks are so much better than their blacks.”  REALLY?  Is she serious?  Does she understand that when she speaks out loud – especially on radio and TV – that people can actually HEAR her?  The woman is delusional.  But what most bothers me about Coulter’s unenlightened words are the proprietary use of the words “our” and “theirs” as if an entire race is owned by one entity or another.  Disgusting.

Abraham Duck.

I’m both bored and tired of hearing about politicians having untoward sexual meanderings.  It doesn’t really have anything to do with the ability to lead.  Kings, pharaohs and tribal potentates have always dabbled in multiple sexual affairs.  It’s a stressful job, but they’d be doing it even if they only worked on an assembly line.  That’s how the male is hard-wired.  In Herman Cain’s case, to hell with the sexual allegations against him – is there any sign of competence or the ability to act with good judgement when faced with a crisis?  Based on the multiple conflicting answers he’s given, I’d say that speaks for itself.  

Even Sean Hannity expressed disbelief when Coulter leveled charges saying it was only because Cain is black that the “left” allegedly leaked the news of what appears to be not one but two cases of sexual harassment dating back to the days when Cain was the CEO of the National Restaurant Association.  From my seat in the peanut gallery political sexual scandals cross over into all political parties and aren’t limited to any one race or gender.  According to what the tabloids have to say about Ann Coulter’s love life, more men have passed through her than the Holland Tunnel.  Sexual antics is a subject Coulter should avoid at all costs.

It’s more likely the information about Herman’s past was leaked by one of Cain’s own fellow GOP rival camps.  Democrats would love to see Cain run against Barack Obama.  It would be almost as entertaining as watching Bugs Bunny run rings around Elmer Fudd.  However, there’s a real plus to Cain’s current sexual embarrassment – it’s neatly drawn attention away from his campaign fundraising improprieties.  

In the final analysis, Cain has everything needed to make a perfect politician.  He has on-the-job experience with sex-scandals, plus there are serious questions about his competency and financial integrity.  Nothing in this world would be more satisfying than a match-off pitting Obama against Cain.  Conservatives must be crapping themselves by now, trying to make Mitt Romney seem palatable as the inevitable 2012 candidate.

Ann Coulter may be wearing a cross, but she’s no Virgin Mary.  In fact, I think she might be a man.

I’m Trying to Decide if I have a Casandra Complex

Cute kid – just way too many being born.  It’s been pointed-out to me that I’ve used a misplaced-modifier in the headline, like “Mrs Jones stopped by while I was mopping the floor with her new baby.”  She probably should’nt have had the baby in the first place.

I’m trying to decide if I have a Cassandra complex, in light of the Koch brother’s hand-picked scientist coming-over to the opinion that global warming is real – or if I’m merely psychic. I’ve noticed the seasons going out of kilter merely over the span of my 61 years. Now scientist Richard Muller, a former skeptic on the subject of climate change, retained by Charles and David Koch to disprove what the overwhelming number of his peers determined a decade or more ago – has arrived at the opposite conclusion than he was paid to make: The climate is changing and humankind is playing a major hand in that dilemma.  What is unreal is “Climategate.”

So maybe all those Koch-owned smelly businesses like Georgia Pacific are destroying the planet after all. Meanwhile every knucklehead running to be the GOP presidential candidate are calling for environmental regulations to be repealed for the sake of short-term economic benefits while we leave a planet in ruin for future generations. Speaking of future generations, the world population just hit seven billion people on October 31st, with a baby born in Indonesia. Even an imbecile like Eric Cantor should be able to read the handwriting on the wall.

The population is expected to exceed ten billion by 2020 and here we already have food and water in short supply causing riots in 3rd world countries. Of course there’s always mythology to fall back-on – like organized religions that seek to prevent all sorts of birth control. No one is saying that abortion is an effective birth-control method in and of itself, but states like Mississippi and Alabama are currenly pursuing legislation that would ban all forms of birth control including the pill, condoms and mandating investigations into miscarriages. Aside from corporate greed, organized religion is, in my opinion the single most destructive force preventing the human race from reaching it’s full intellectual potential. Quality over quantity applies if we’re going to repair this earth. I suppose ZERO population growth, filled with educated people is way too much to ask-for.

I suspect that most people, after a few cocktails are born as a result of recreational sex to parents who are ill-equipped to handle the task. Human beings have morphed into a parasite killing it’s own host organism for the sake of immediate gratification. Fold-in corporate greed and the current economic climate, and we have all the ingredients needed in a recipe for global disaster.

STOP MATING UNSAFELY PEOPLE…!!!  Or at least think it through first. People are sexual creature, as ashamed of that as many may be… It astonishes me that religious “breeders” can’t understand that most homosexual people don’t reproduce, while being enormously productive to society in other ways – but they want to ban being gay also. Michele Bachmann and Rick Santorum think the use of condoms helps spread AIDS, and our southern states believe life begins at conception, even if those “lives” are frozen embryos who ought to be granted the right to vote. OK, I made-up that part, but what’s next? A law to prohibit masturbation?

We are killing ourselves and our environment – when we have the potential to be the stewards of our world, and not the destroyers. Oh, the devil with it, like Cassandra, I’m shouting into the wind.