Photo of the Day: “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”

Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell: Jess, Bend, Oregon, 2009

Photography by:  Jeff Sheng, Los Angeles

Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell: Jess, Bend, Oregon, 2009 is a photograph by the award-winning Los Angeles photographer Jeff Sheng.  Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell is his new photography project, which consists of a series of photographs of closeted men and women in the United States military. The photographs represent Sheng’s interest in the intersections between public and private spaces, and the government’s ever-intrusive policing of our most private spaces.

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Lady Gaga at The National Equality March: “This is the Biggest Moment of My Career!”

Lady Gaga at The National Equality March: “This is the Biggest Moment of My Career!”

If you thought it was going to be a long time before you ever witnessed Lady Gaga make a grandly gay appearance on the C-Span television network, well you’ll just have to think again!  Our Lady Gaga of the Immaculate Penis spoke before thousands in attendance at The National Equality March on Washington today.  And there were two very memorable parts: first, when they placed a riser behind the podium for her to stand on and speak, and second, when she wooed the audience with a Judy Garland joke.  Reminders: Obama makes Lady Gaga joke, Gaga makes Judy Garland joke.  Oh yes…America, the Beautiful!!

Lady Gaga at The National Equality March: “This is the Biggest Moment of My Career!”

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President Obama on Leno’s Tonight Show: I’m Stunned By Those AIG Bonuses

President Obama on Leno’s Tonight Show: Stunned By Those AIG Bonuses

Whenever a late-night television show features a sitting president, it usually comes as material for a stand-up comedy routine. But on Thursday night, President Obama overturned another tradition when he appeared on Jay Leno’s Tonight Show to promote his economic recovery plan. President Obama held his own with the comedian, countering Mr. Leno’s jabs about the executive bonuses given out by the American International Group, saying, “The only place where I think this might work is Hollywood.” Obama did not explicitly endorse the House bill passed on Thursday, which would tax bonuses paid to those whose companies have gotten large amounts of federal bailout money, saying “The money’s already gone out.” “I think the best way to handle this is to make sure you’ve closed the door before the horse gets out of the barn,” he said.

When Mr. Leno asked whether someone should go to jail for the AIG debacle, President Obama replied, “Most of what got us into trouble was perfectly legal.” In his appearance with Mr. Leno, Obama carefully balanced his comments between projecting a sense of good humor and projecting a presidential bearing. For example, he momentarily appeared to look startled when Mr. Leno joked that the president had laid the problems of the banking sector at the doorstep of the Treasury Secretary, Timothy F. Geithner. “I love how you say it’s his problem,” Mr. Leno said. For a moment, President Obama gave a stone-faced look to Leno. Then he broke into a laugh, as if he suddenly realized that Leno’s put-down was meant as a joke. “All of this is my responsibility,” Obama said. “I’m trying to break a pattern in Washington where everybody’s always looking for someone to blame.”

President Obama with Jay Leno: I’m Stunned By Those AIG Bonuses

Interested readers will find more in today’s edition of The New York Times here.

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AIG Greed Redux: John Law and the Mississippi Bubble

AIG Greed Redux: John Law and the Mississippi Bubble

A national outcry of public outrage has forced the Obama administration to take action on the large bonuses that AIG has given to a group of its executives. The bonuses that AIG has distributed went to the very group of employees whose risky trades brought the company to the brink of collapse. “It’s hard to understand how derivative traders at AIG warranted any bonuses, much less $165 million in extra pay,” Obama said at the outset of an appearance to announce help for small businesses hurt by the deep recession. “How do they justify this outrage to the taxpayers who are keeping the company afloat,” the president said.

The whole debacle of the greed displayed by AIG, as well as by some large banks that recently received large sums of bailout money from the government, is reminiscent of the simultaneous collapse of both the French trading arm and royal bank in the early 1700s. That collapse has been described as “John Law and the Mississippi Bubble.” John Law was a Scottish economist who believed that money was only a means of exchange that did not constitute wealth in itself and that national wealth depended on trade. During the reign of Louis XIV, John Law set up France’s Banque Générale Privée (“General Private Bank”), which developed the use of paper money. Many have considered Law to be little more than a colorful con man, responsible for the Mississippi Bubble and the chaotic economic collapse in France.

Richard Condie’s 1978 animated short film, John Law and the Mississippi Bubble, offers up a history lesson about that sensational get-rich-quick scheme, which took place in France over 200 years ago. The film won the Best Film Award at the 1980 International Short Film Festival in Tampere, Finland. With economist John Law at the helm, the plan was to open a national French bank and exchange bank notes for gold at wildly inflated share prices to mask the fact that the country’s gold had been depleted in the building of Louis XIV’s palace. In the film, when the inevitable rush to cash in the notes takes place, poor John Law is left broke and broken-hearted.

It was one of the most sensational get-rich-quick schemes heard of in a long time, but it eventually burst over the head of its originator, John Law. This “rags to riches to rags” story, in which the plan was to open a bank and exchange banknotes (paper!) for gold at wildly inflated share prices, ends when John Law, having been cleaned out as a result of a rush to cash in the notes, is left broke and broken-hearted.

John Law and the Mississippi Bubble

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Ex-Gov. Blagojevich: Still Crazy After All These Years!

Ex-Gov. Blagojevich: Still Crazy After All These Years!

Illinois State Senators stood up one by one in a hushed chamber in Springfield (IL) on Thursday, calling Gov. Rod Blagojevich a liar and a hypocrite who put his ego and his pocketbook ahead of the interests of Illinois. One senator called him “devious, cynical, crass and corrupt.” Another said the evidence of abuse of power was “overwhelming.” A third said he was “without a doubt unfit to govern.”

Subsequently, the Illinois Senate voted 59 to 0 to reject Blagojevich’s theatrical last-minute plea and to remove him from office. The vote to impeach him ended a stormy period of time that had left the nation’s fifth-largest state paralyzed by its governor’s alleged misdeeds and nationally ridiculed for its latest bout of corruption.

Throughout his last day, Mr. Blagojevich was, in turn, furious over the methods of the trial, morose as he said goodbye to staff members at the Governor’s Mansion and brimming with a bizarre gallows humor long before the lawmakers cast their votes. All the while, his office assistant packed his belongings into cardboard boxes, among them, family photographs, a bust of Lincoln and a statue of Elvis.

At another point, he pondered the more practical consequences of losing his job. “I wonder if we’ll have to hitchhike home,” he said. “Maybe we could take the bus.” In the end, he left the Capitol in Springfield through a secret basement corridor full of grunting, clanking pipes, bare walls and puddles.

Impeachment of Rod Blagojevich: The Illinois Senate Proceedings

Blagojevich’s Last Day: An Audio Slideshow

(Please Click Image Above to View Slideshow)

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Thousands of Demonstrators March Miles in Chicago’s Prop 8 Protest

Thousands of Demonstrators March Miles in Chicago’s Prop 8 Protest

Thousands of Proposition 8 protesters marched miles through the streets to a large demonstration in downtown Chicago today, to support and pressure the courts to overturn the passage of a same-sex marriage ban in California. The Chicago rally was one of at least 150 protests that took place nationwide subsequent to the vote on Proposition 8 in California.

In Chicago, protesters gathered at The Federal Plaza, carrying rainbow-colored flags and signs with messages like “Fix Marriage, Not Gays” and “Repeal Proposition 8.” Organizers said they hoped to achieve “full marriage equality” in Illinois. But more importantly, they said, they wanted to show solidarity with the California gay community and pressure that state’s Supreme Court to overturn Proposition 8.

Many of the demonstrators directed their anger toward the various faiths that supported the vote to ban gay marriage with volunteers and large financial donations. But for the most part, their mood was upbeat, singing along with the Chicago Gay Men’s Chorus in a rendition of “Down by the Riverside.” After a few hours, the demonstrators left The Federal Plaza and marched through the streets, among policemen on bicycle and horseback, to City Hall, The Thompson Center and ultimately down Michigan Avenue. A Chicago police spokeswoman said the rally went smoothly with no arrests despite demonstrators blocking weekend street traffic along Chicago’s busy Michigan Avenue.

Demonstrators March Miles in Chicago’s Prop 8 Protest

The Beatles: All You Need is Love

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Oh Dear, Sarah Palin Just Can’t Manage to Help Herselves!!

Oh Dear, Sarah Palin Just Can’t Manage to Help Herselves!!

The Delusional Sarah Palin vs. Troopergate

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