Monthly archives: January, 2008

Missing Heath

Heath Ledger

I don’t know why his death makes me so sad.

28 years old and gone.

From the New York Times:

Heath Ledger, the Australian-born actor whose breakthrough role as a gay cowboy in the 2005 movie “Brokeback Mountain” earned him a nomination for an Academy Award and comparisons to the likes of Marlon Brando, was found dead Tuesday in an apartment in Manhattan with sleeping pills near his body, the police said.

Already there were suggestions on ABC news that this was a suicide or drug related. They found sleeping pills.

At least the NYTimes showed some restraint, and did not draw these conclusions:

“There was no indication of a disturbance,” he said, adding that there were no signs that Mr. Ledger had been drinking. Nor were any illegal drugs found in the loft, which takes up the entire fourth floor. Neighbors said Mr. Ledger had occupied it for several months.

Police officials said that a bottle of prescription sleeping pills was found on a nearby night table, but that they did not know whether the pills had anything to do with Mr. Ledger’s death. Officers who checked the apartment found other prescription medications in the bathroom. A spokeswoman for the medical examiner’s office said an autopsy would be conducted on Wednesday.

And then this:

Mr. Browne said no obvious indication of suicide, like a note, was found in the bedroom.

I’m just very, very sad to hear this news. I don’t know what happened to him. No speculation at all. I’m just missing Heath right now.

Iran, Oil, and the Neverending Story

I get it.  We’re stuck with oil and there’s no way out.  At least that’s what we’re supposed to think if we believe Robert Bryce at the Washington Post.   Bryce sets out to dismiss 5 arguments many make regarding our dependence on foreign oil:

  1. Energy independence will reduce or eliminate terrorism.
  2. A big push for alternative fuels will break our oil addiction.
  3. Energy independence will let America choke off the flow of money to nasty countries.
  4. Energy independence will mean reform in the Muslim world.
  5. Energy independence will mean a more secure U.S. energy supply.

The thread that ties all of these, according to Bryce, is that “we’re woven in with the rest of the world — and going to stay that way.”  While arguing that there has been terrorism before there was oil, indeed, “terrorism is an ancient tactic that predates the oil era,” he concludes there is no other alternative but to keep using oil.

But his arguments fall short.  In dismissing alternative fuels, for example, he relies on the United States remaining with the internal combustion engine, which may or may not happen.

I’m always loathe to believe anyone who claims to know the future.  The fact is that all of these arguments fall short of the wonderful, profound truth that we need to pursue alternative energy solutions for more important than Bryce’s confining arguments.  Alternative energy, energy independence, simply means imagining for just a few moments that we are actually dreaming once again.

And we may arrive at completely different and innovative solutions to our current energy problems.  And, for my friends on the Right, these may actually prove lucrative as well.

So Now Everyone’s Supposed to Hate Barack

I don’t get it.

Hillary Clinton wins New Hampshire, and now the left is taking shots at Barack Obama.

I listened to Randy Rhodes this afternoon for a spell on Air America Radio. Always-provocative, fascinating and sensible Randy Rhodes was criticizing Barack Obama, and gloating that Hillary Clinton won — by 3 percentage points.

Hats off to Senator Clinton for a well-crafted victory in the New Hampshire Primary. Senator Obama did sound a bit over-confident, even presumptuous in the last few days, and his, “You’re likable enough,” comment to Clinton in the most recent debate was debasing and should have been beneath him.

But now we’re all supposed to hate Barack Obama? Because of New Hampshire?

Come on, Randy. Lighten up.

I don’t get it.

Barack Pulled It Off

I have to admit I was surprised.

Barack Obama won the Iowa caucus.

The race was exceptionally close, and the Big Three finished close together. The New York Times reports:

On the Democratic side, with 100 percent of precincts reporting, Mr. Obama had 37.6 percent of the delegate support, Mr. Edwards 29.8 percent and Mrs. Clinton had 29.5 percent. Gov. Bill Richardson of New Mexico was fourth, at 2.11 percent.

Obama did not end up with a double-digit lead, but even this margin is impressive.

After I heard about Barack’s victory, I checked my e-mail, and there was a note from his campaign. Short, sweet:

Subject: Turn on your television
We just won Iowa, and I’m about to head down to talk to everyone.

Democrats turned out in record numbers tonight, and independents and even some Republicans joined our party to stand together for change.

Thank you for everything you’ve done to make this possible.



I’m including the “Donate” button as a courtesy to the senator. I am impressed.

I remember arriving at a rally in Matteson, IL, just a couple of years ago, when Barack was running for the U.S. Senate. The rally was not for Barack. It was a “Green Day”, organized by the Village of Matteson, IL, State. Rep. Jesse Jackson, Jr., and others. The idea was to persuade area businesses to do business again in the South Suburbs of Chicago.

Barack was sitting in his car in the parking lot by himself, waiting for something, or someone. He looked a bit nervous, alone. Or maybe he was just bored. No one was around his car. I did not go up to talk to him. Nor sure why. I was heading for the rally, and he looked like he wanted to be alone.

I think about that now, how accessible he was then, and how things have changed.

When the race for Senate in Illinois began, I was inspired by Barack. He is very inspiring. I participated in a 4th of July parade with his campaign in Monee, IL, that year. I was also supporting State Senator Debbie Halvorson, who is now running for Congress.

Barack was very fit. While I was sweating trying to keep up with the parade, Barack did not break a sweat in the heat and humidity running from side to side of the street, greeting people, saying hello.

Barack won Iowa. That’s impressive. That’s not the White House. But he won a very, very white state. That’s encouraging. It’s also very encouraging that so many young people came out to caucus.

I don’t fall for the inspirational speeches as easily now. But when I clicked on the “Donate” button in my email, I heard a selection from Barack’s speech at the Democratic National Convention.

He was very good.

I really, really hope this guy is for real. I am not at all sure he has the experience to lead a nation — but I’m willing to take a chance on him.

Looking forward to seeing where this story ends.

Family Killed, Grandfather Charged

A horrible story out of Chicago this morning:

An Oak Forest man set a fire that killed his pregnant daughter, son-in-law and young grandson because he was upset over his daughter’s marriage, prosecutors said Tuesday.

Subhash Chander, 57, told police that he resented the couple for what he considered a “cultural slight” — that his daughter Monika Rani, 22, had married a man from a lower caste and done so without his consent, according to a court document.

One person commented on the story, saying the problem is immigration — all immigration should be stopped.  That’s completely off-base.  Do we really think this is a problem that politicians can fix, and immigration is the root cause?

The overwhelming vast majority of immigrants and “home-grown” are wonderful people, but we have major problems.  This one is simply horribly sad.

Why not ask the big questions instead of shooting from the hip?  Yes, the man should be prosecuted.  But our already over-burdened legal system will not and cannot fix the problem.

One of the big questions is, “How do we create a society where there is less violence?”  More laws won’t do it.  “Three strikes and you’re out” is just a silly placebo.  Politicians are ancillary.

Stop immigration?  We’re fooling ourselves.

This is the most violent country in the world outside of a war zone.  Face it — we have real problems here.  And the root cause is not immigration, socioeconomics, class, caste, race, sex, too many guns, too few guns, gay marriage, divorce, abortion, or anything else.  For some reason, Americans resort to violence first, and ask questions later.

The law is a last resort after everything else has gone to Hell.  We need to seriously ask ourselves how we can create a society where people do not resort to violence as a first option.

“George Bush Is A Genius!”

We all thought George Bush had no idea what he was doing. Little did we know he knew exactly what he was doing:

Thanks to Politics After 50 for pointing the way to this wonderful segment from the comedy of Bremner, Bird and Fortune, a satirical British television program.

Of greater concern, and not-so-funny, is an “oil revenue law that the American government is forcing down the throats of the Iraqi people, which will of course give the Americans control of most of the Iraqi oil.”

Check out for information on that.

On A Positive Note with the HRC

The Human Rights Campaign launched a short video with ideas for New Year’s Resolutions.

This just in from Joe Salmonese:

Did you make any resolutions last night?

Have you broken any yet?

I’m excited to share a new HRC video with you: it’s a close-up look at some of the faces of our community and the changes they want to make in their lives this year.

Watch now >>

I have to say, people came up with some great, unexpected ideas about how to promote GLBT equality in 2008.

And there are a few other resolutions in there that might surprise you, too. For example, did you know what “lesson one of the Beyoncé handbook” is?

Me neither. Don’t ask. Just watch.

This video is inspiring. It’s funny. And it’ll get you thinking about the small things you can do to make a big difference – in your own life, in your community, and in our country.

We have so much to do together in 2008.

Happy New Year!


Joe Solmonese

Joe Solmonese


P.S. Here’s a resolution you can keep right away: donate now and help us reach our goal of 2,008 new and 2,008 renewing members by January 28th.

Worth checking out.

I resolve to persuade as many people as possible to vote.