Beverly Hills Parking: 9021-0uch!

Friday I  drove to Beverly Hills for a quick errand and blessedly found a parking place on the street, in front of my destination. And I had two quarters, which plus the 8 minutes already on the meter was enough to buy me the time I needed.

Except the quarters I dropped into the nifty new meter–the kind that also takes credit and ATM cards–didn’t register my coin of the realm, each with a picture of one of our fine states on the obverse.

So I called the number on the placard and told the lady at Beverly Hills Department of Public Works that the meter, #428, didn’t work.

People sometimes jam them.

she explained (Hey, wait? I used 4 bits! It’s not like all I had was euros!) and asked her to stay on the line with me while I popped in my credit card to see if that worked. Nope. And there was no error message either.

The meter now read 6 minutes and then dropped to 5. By the time I tried to complete the transaction, I had lost 4 minutes of the original 8, and told her that it seemed the meter was running a little fast, oh and BTW it didn’t want to take my credit card either and what should I do ensure I didn’t increase the city’s revenue by $60?

She said she would send a tech out. I thanked her, hung up and checked the call timer on my phone. It said said I had spent 2 minutes on the phone, not the fiscally fit for the city 5 minutes the meter now claimed.

Now that’s an income stream…

Business as Usual? Target, Best Buy Donate to Anti-LGBT Candidates via MN Forward

Wow. Just wow. Target — which has a 100% rating from the Human Rights Campaign for the their workplace environment and support of LGBT causes and importanlty for many consumers focuses on budget style, featuring some great designers like Alexander McQueen, Jean-Paul Gaultier and Zac Posen — is now off my spending list for a while.

Target CEO Gregg Steinhafel and his wife donated $5,000 each — the maximum allowable — to Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachman’s campaign, and Target itself donated $150,000 to MN Forward, a PAC which is supporting Tom Emmer’s run for governor of Minnesota, reports The

In a letter sent out today, Steinhafel says

Target has a history of supporting organizations and candidates, on both sides of the aisle, who seek to advance policies aligned with our business objectives, such as job creation and economic growth. MN Forward is focused specifically on those issues and is committed to supporting candidates from any party who will work to improve the state’s job climate. However, it is also important to note that we rarely endorse all advocated positions of the organizations or candidates we support, and we do not have a political or social agenda.

But what if the candidates supported by the PAC don’t have your employees’ best interests at heart? Does that help the job climate of the state overall? Or does that create an environment where the corporation is a mini-state with its own rules that can benefit or harm the employees because the corporation is removed of state regulation?

Here’s some info about Emmer from

Tom Emmer (the anti-gay Minnesota gubernatorial candidate that Target’s $150,000 made its way to) wants to bar gays and lesbians from getting married, and is a friend and financial supporter of a ministry that advocates violence and discrimination toward LGBT people. And like it or not, Target financially supported his campaign, even if the money wasn’t a direct contribution.

Michele Bachmann has dropped some nifty anti-LGBT comments in her speeches and has a rotten record on supporting LGBT rights including voting against the repeal of DADT and voting against expanding hate crimes legislation to include protections for sexual orientation and gender identity. Here are a couple of her comments collected by

Bachmann said if gay marriage were to become legal:

[Gay marriage] is an earthquake issue. This will change our state forever. Because the immediate consequence, if gay marriage goes through, is that K-12 little children will be forced to learn that homosexuality is normal, natural and perhaps they should try it.

On people who are gay or lesbian:

If you’re involved in the gay and lesbian lifestyle, it’s bondage. It is personal bondage, personal despair and personal enslavement.

Best Buy — which supports many of the same LGBT causes as Target —  just added to MN Forward’s kitty with a $150,000 donation, proving that their profits are the most important thing in the long run, not the long-term rights of all the people in areas where they do business.


Late Night: “Countdown to Zero” Nukes, the BoDeans New Video, and Social Media

Nuclear weapons suck. And so with that in mind, there’s a big push towards nuclear disarmament featuring major bands and a new film.

The BoDeans new video, “Headed for the End of the World,” just hit and it sends a strong message for nuclear disarmament. The video is part of a campaign supporting the release of the documentary Countdown to Zero,  which opens this week.

Other bands supporting the film’s release via social media like Twitter and online PSAs include Dave Matthews, REM, Macy Gray, and Pearl Jam. You can learn more about the campaign here and join in.

Countdown to Zero traces the history of the atomic bomb from its origins to the present state of global affairs: nine nations possessing nuclear weapons capabilities with others racing to join them, with the world held in a delicate balance that could be shattered by an act of terrorism, failed diplomacy, or a simple accident.

The goal behind the film and the campaign is to ratify a new START Treaty and eliminate nuclear weapons. Countdown to Zero features some bold-faced names on the international diplomacy scene, including President Jimmy Carter, Mikhail Gorbachev, Pervez Musharraf and Tony Blair discussing the global nuclear disarmament. Writer/director Lucy Walker makes a compelling case for eliminating all nuclear weapons worldwide, an issue more topical than ever, as shown by the world leaders working to achieve this goal today.

The Global Zero campaign is comprised of more than 250 political, military, faith and civic leaders, dozens of organizations and over 380,000 activists working for the worldwide elimination of all nuclear weapons.

Social media makes it possible to join campaigns like this and lend your voice. And going to the movie helps.

“Where Are Your Papers!?” Latino Activists Stage “Raid” at Netroots

On Friday, at Netroots Nation, a group of immigration activists brought the reality of Arizona’s SB 1070 to Netroots attendees by staging a brilliant piece of street (well okay, hotel) theater. As attendees moved into the auditorium for the free lunch sponsored by, Latino activists wearing pseudo-ICE badges, costume HSA patches and otherwise garbed as “authority” stopped people before they entered the hall to grab their sandwiches and sodas and hear a panel on civil rights in the modern era.

The activists asked people who appeared to be white European in origin

for their papers

Some people laughed, some were confused, some just walked by. One guy I spoke with afterward scrawled the word


on a notepad and was asked

Did you pay for these papers?

Organizer Will Coley explained the action:

Our action offended someone and resulted in 30 seconds of frustration, that was the point. As Americans, we should all be offended by actual laws like Arizona’s SB 1070 that harass and profile communities 24 hours a day. It wasn’t about preventing them from getting their lunch. Profiling and injustice is what we wanted folks to think about.

Exclusive: Lt. Dan Choi Responds to Kathy Griffin

Last night Joy Behar told Kathy Griffin that Lt. Dan Choi had been honorably discharged. In March Choi and Autumn Sandeen were arrested for chaining themselves to the White House fence after a Don’t Ask Don’t Tell rally that Griffin was attending and filming for her television show.

Griffin said,

He was honorably discharged? I don’t know what that means, because to me if he was discharged for being gay, then I don’t know how honorable that is.

I ran into Lt. Choi again today at Netroots Nation and he graciously discussed Griffin’s comments with me.

Anyone who steps up needs to be armed with the facts. Kathy Griffin  reaches an audience I wouldn’t in some ways because she uses her humor quite well.  She’s not my enemy. She certainly does express her right to freedom of speech and the First Amendment, and if I were still serving right now, I would fight for her right to do so. We should all honor that freedom by being educated.

Thank you, Lt. Choi for your service to America, both in the Armed Forces and out.

Sunny Days Forever for White House? Solar Power Boost

One of the coolest ideas floating around Netroots Nation–aside from the groundswell “Netroots in New Orleans”  whisper stream discussion–is Solar on the White House. Makes sense, doesn’t it?

And it made sense to Jimmy Carter as well who on June 20, 1979 inaugurated a 32-panel White House system, which Ronald Reagan removed–along with Carter’s tax credits for those homeowners who installed solar panels. The panels were taken off “routine maintenance” and the Administration claimed it was “too expensive” to put them back.  The tax credits were cut by a conservative President because…? However, George W. Bush  did allow for the installation of a solar powered system to heat the White House pool and hot tub.

One company is willing to donate the $107,000 system. Or if a donation is out of the question, the government could purchase one of the brands of  solar panels that are now being manufactured in the US.

ENDA Protest Shuts Down Las Vegas Blvd.

I wish I had taken an earlier flight to Las Vegas Tuesday for Netroots Nation 2010 so I could join the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) demonstration in front of the Statue of Liberty that adorns New York New York’s exterior. Yes, it was 106 degrees, and that shows total commitment to get workplace equality passed. So does getting arrested which is what happened to Lt. Dan Choi and seven other demonstration participants. Lt. Choi was discharged from the military because of his arrest during a DADT rally earlier this year.

Lt. Choi was released by early afternoon and joined us at the LGBT caucus pre-sessions.

Me and Lt Choi. He is so awesome.

Bad Day: Kevin Costner’s Secret Movie Hits the Web

UPDATE: Modi Frank and a special guest will be with us on Movie Night,’s  live, interactive typed chat Monday Aug 9 5pm-6:30pm PDT/8pm-9:30pm EDT. Please join in.

Before he danced with wolves, Academy Award winning actor/director Kevin Costner made a never-before-seen movie that’s being released today after nearly 25 years in a vault:  Bad Day, directed by the award-winning rock video director Modi Frank and photographed by punk rock queen, singer, poet and visual artist Exene Cervenka, co-founder of the seminal band X. The duo are releasing the cowboy-themed short  as a digital downloaded for a “you decide” amount. A portion of the proceeds will benefit Gulf charities providing aid to both people and the environment. Exene and Modi said:

We are both so proud of Kevin and grateful for all he’s doing to help in the Gulf.

Costner has spent $25 million dollars over the last decade to develop centrifuge clean-up machinery which can mitigate the damage from oil spills. BP bought 32 of the machines marketed by Ocean Therapy Solutions. The centrifuges, which can clean 6 million gallons of oily water a day, separating the oil from water by spinning, will be ready to be deployed by the first week of August, according to John Houghtaling, Costner’s chief partner in the project . The salt water can be returned to the ocean and the oil can be used by industry.

Bad Day–the legendary but unseen until now 20 minute silent film, co-written by Exene and Modi, with a soundtrack by Dave Alvin and DJ Bonebrake–also stars John Doe, Chris (Chris D) Desjardins from the Flesheaters and the Divine Horsemen, and Julie Christensen of Stone Cupid who has also collaborated with Leonard Cohen, artist-photographer Peter Haskell, and Los Angeles poet Doug Knott.

Bad Day is also a collaboration of formats–punk rock and two-reel Western silents, black and white film stock meeting the Internet at a time when digital is the format du jour. The advent of downloading videos provided the perfect format to release Bad Day, allowing this moment of artistic collaboration to reach its target audience. Says Exene:

It was a blast to write, envision and then film.  We have talented friends, all up for a project, and we froze a moment in history. It was one of the best times Modi and I have ever had…We’ve talked about releasing Bad Day over the years, but now with the internet we have control over distribution with digital downloads. We want the world to see it and enjoy.

Please Bristol, ELOPE!

Chelsea, you too. In fact, meet us at Netroots Nation in Vegas this week and make it a double runaway Elvis nuptial. Talk about reaching across the aisle. Golly, you zany kids could really help heal this country!

The Clark County Courthouse is open til midnight, and most chapels can squeeze you in. But if you want to do it in sunny SoCal garden setting, I’m  a licensed minister and will be back home after Netroots.

CRUDE Documentary Ruling: Sources, Most Footage Protected

Thursday the Court of Appeals issued a largely positive order in the case of CRUDE documentary filmmaker Joe Berlinger who had been ordered by a federal judge to turn over 600 hours of unused documentary footage to energy giant Chevron as part of the lawsuit discussed in the film. For more about the lawsuit, which pitted indigenous Ecuadorians against Chevron, click here. The Ecuadorians won their suit, and Chevron is appealing the ruling which resulted in the largest ever settlement for environmental damage — one which has obvious bearing on the BP Gulf oil spill.

Berlinger will have to turn over a portion of the 600 hundred hours of footage, but conversations the director had with defendants, lawyers and their families are protected.

Attorney Michael C. Donaldson who filed an Amicus Brief on behalf of the Writers Guild of America, East, evaluated the remarks as:

a partial victory for both sides. Chevron gets some but not all of what it wants. Berlinger has to turn over some, but not all 600 hours of footage. The many hours of footage that Joe gathered alone with the plaintiffs and their families, friends, and neighbors has all been protected. What is important to the documentary community is that – for the first time in this kind of case – the court is restricting Chevron on how it uses the footage. Chevron can only use the footage for litigation, arbitration, or submission to official bodies. Chevron can’t use the footage in publicity or promotional materials. The documentary community is awaiting the final order of the court because it should give detailed discussion of the court’s thinking and provide guidelines to help documentary filmmakers in the future.

It is important to note that the many hours of footage that Joe gathered as he talked to the victims and their families does not have to be turned over pursuant to this order. In terms of the trust and confidence that is at the heart of investigative filmmaking, this is a very important element of the order.

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