the writing and photography of Neil Kramer

Tag: politics

Hands Across America


I have a friend who is involved with the Hudson River Sloop Clearwater Group, which was started in 1966 by the iconic musician and activist Pete Seeger in response to his despair over the pollution of the Hudson River. Today, the organization is still thriving, and during the spring and summer, the schooner Clearwater sails down the Hudson, bringing the message of activism to thousands. On Saturday, my friend was going for a meetup with other crew members of the replica 19th Century sloop, and I was lucky enough to tag along. There was a pot-luck dinner, great conversation, and some old-fashioned folk-singing. I found myself feeling very comfortable, even when events turned hippyish. Who can resist the beat of Native American drumming?

Many at the meetup were preparing to attend the big march in Washington D.C. protesting Trump’s inauguration. A few said that they would be unable to go to Washington for various reasons, but Clearwater cleverly found a way for  everyone to show their support. A large protest banner was laid out on a table, and those who knew they couldn’t attend created a handprint by pressing their ink-painted hand onto the cloth.

This isn’t slacktivism; it’s symbolism. These individuals will be present in Washington, their hand raised high for all to see, even if they aren’t physically marching in the street. Not everyone has the ability to march. Everyone does their part in the way they can.

I’ll be marching in New York. But I know many of you will be marching in Washington and Los Angeles and Chicago and Raleigh and Miami.  When I go on Facebook next week ready to go into Manhattan to march, feel free to post a photo of YOUR HAND in my Facebook comment section, and I will know you are there with me. I will be doing the exact same thing with you, our hands together in friendship, love, vulnerability, and strength.  Let’s watch out for and support each other.

Ideology and Realism

Several months ago, I was invited to join a group that wanted to promote more women directors, writers, and female-oriented films in Hollywood.  I signed up, and later day I received an email that I was blocked from the site because the administrators decided that they wanted the site to just be for women bloggers.  I understood the reasons.   I wasn’t hurt or angry, but at the time I didn’t say the obvious — it was a dumb move on a practical level.  I was the one who knew something about Hollywood.  I had contacts.  I had experience writing movie scripts.  And my own personal tastes leaned towards character-oriented films.   I have seen every Meryl Streep movie at least three times, even the bad ones.

In my opinion, the group chose ideology over the real world.  When I first got blocked from the site, I composed a passive aggressive tweet on Twitter that said something like “Eh, screw my romantic comedy.  Time to start that violent thriller about Denzel Washington having to stop a bomb from blowing up the UN.”

Better to go with the demographic that at least talks to me.   And pays more.


Do we realize that a big part of the Democratic loss in Massachusetts is that blue collar and middle-class white men, the “Joe Six Packs” of our country, don’t believe that the Democratic party cares about their interests?

The Suffolk University poll in Massachusetts, which was pretty much on target in the final result, singled out two white working class towns, Gardner and Fitchburg, as bellwethers. Obama won Gardner, where Democrats hold a three-to-one registrations edge, by 59% to 31% in 2008. Brown won it by 56% to 42%. Obama won Fitchburg, with a similar Democratic edge, by 60% to 38% in 2008. Brown won it by 59% to 40%. That suggests a fairly dramatic shift among white working class voters.

Why did this happen?  Why are only the Glenn Becks speaking to this constinuency?  I think Obama’s election was seen by many of us as the end of the Bush era — and the demise of the blue collar guys who shopped at Walmart and flew American flags on their porch.    We were a new, hipper coalition of upscale liberals with advanced university degrees, accomplished women, and strong-willed minorities who would forever change the face of America.  Hey, I consider myself part of that group.  But is it good politics to completely ignore those that could benefit by being included in the fold, even if they remind us of the relatives from Podunk, or Staten Island,  or because they don’t watch Jon Stewart or Rachel Maddow?

California Politics


A woman with a display table was standing outside of Ralph’s Supermarket today, asking for signatures.  As Super Tuesday approaches, the wheels start turning for the next election’s California propositions.  Every year, there are a whole group of new propositions on the California ballot.  They are always as confusing as possible, and half of them get stuck in costly court battles.  The big proposition for this month has something to do with Indian Casinos and their right to add more slot machines to feed their tribes, or something like that, or at least giving the tribes better odds in blackjack.  Most of these propositions have to do with money and taxes, or where the money should go.  I have a feeling the money never goes anywhere other than into the advertising campaigns of new propositions.

As I passed the political display table outside of the supermarket, I was shocked to read the poster posted in front of it.  “Let’s Keep Marriage Between a Man and a Woman.”  Redondo Beach may not be West Hollywood, but it is still a “liberal” area.  There were at least four people adding their signatures to put this issue on the ballot.  I was dismayed and angry.  Redondo Beach?

I’m not extremely political.  Sophia is Republican.  I respect some of the Republican views on international relations, even taxes.   I have a “conservative” side to myself.  However, religious-tinged issues such as gay marriage, right to life, and putting “God” back into our culture JUST DRIVE me nuts!   Is this what we really want to spend all our time talking about?  It’s as if a married couple is living in a home where the toilet is flooding the entire house and their car is on fire, and they are arguing over who should do the dishes tonight?  

I think it is cool if gays want to get married or take up juggling.   What’s the big deal?

Anyway, that’s as political as I get, for now.

I went into the store and bought some tomatoes, Cheerios, turkey slices, tomato sauce, and green tea.  I paid for my items, then left through the “other” front door, hoping to avoid the woman with the political display and getting upset again.   But it didn’t work.  The minute she saw me, she ran over to me with her clipboard, asking me to sign it. 

“Would you like to… blah blah… about renewable energy?”

“Huh?” I wondered.

I looked over to her display.  Her poster had two sides.  One side said “Keep Marriage Between a Man and a Woman.”  The flip side contained something about renewable energy.  Everyone that I saw signing their names was adding their name to the renewable energy clipboard, and I just didn’t realize it.

Rather than being relieved, I just felt annoyed at the political system.  I didn’t add my name for this proposition either.  Sophia had once told me how it works.  This woman is paid to get signatures.  So, she was working on behalf of “Keep Marriage Between  Man and a Woman” AND “renewable energy.”  I’m sure she would be handing out Al-Queda propaganda videos if they paid her too.  It’s as if all the issues are interchangeable.  Just get them on the ballot, and it helps someone… someone who isn’t the California voter.

Now, that’s what modern American politics is all about.  

OK, now I’m off to watch the Democratic debate.  Snore.   Then, Lost.

She’s With Stupid

My Republican-voting separated wife is a little down today after all the Democratic wins yesterday during Election Day. To cheer her up, I’m bringing her to see the British duo, Pet Shop Boys tonight at the Wiltern Theater. This should be special for her, since Sophia is a classy dame who likes jazz and classical music, so I think this might be her first “pop” concert. And as an added treat — I think they are also going to be performing on her beloved “Dancing With the Stars” later tonight.

One little problem. Artists frequently sing a lot of the songs from their latest CD. I just looked up the Pet Shop Boys latest on Amazon. It is titled “Fundamental” and it is supposedly their most “political” work. They have one single that was a hit in Europe titled “I’m with Stupid,” which is an attack on Bush and Tony Blair, and even posits them as gay lovers. I even found a video of them doing the song where extras walk around in mocking “George Bush” masks.

If I’m divorced by tomorrow, you will know the reason why.

A Year Ago on Citizen of the Month: Stolen Photos, Stolen Lives

Letter to Paris #2

Dear Tara,

As I sign of peace in a political world, I will not link to articles that insinuate that Islam is a religion of violence, because that is something I strongly detest when I see it written by conservatives.   How about you refrain from linking to articles that state that “the Jewish fundamentalist belief of being God’s chosen people has allowed Israel to believe it can do as it will?”

As I wrote in your comments:

“While I believe the Palestinian leadership and the Arab world bear much of the responsibility for the problems in the middle east — along with Israel — and I particularly blame Iran for arming Hezbollah to the teeth in this current conflict (they sent off a drone today that neared Tel Aviv), I would never say that Arab violence comes out of the religion of Islam.

So, I hope you will agree with me that the statement that the central Jewish concept of “the chosen people” means they can “do as they will” is completely horrendous, and a total misinterpretation of what it is about — moral duty, not superiority. The concept of the chosen people is completely bound to the idea of keeping the commandments that bring a people closer to God. For a journalist to use the “chosen people” line as an explanation for Israel’s entry into Lebanon smacks of the most abhorent anti-Semitism.

If Jews really believe that they were chosen as a ‘superior’ people who can do as they will, they would be the most stupid people that ever existed, especially after being driven from their homeland, forced to wander the world for centuries, made to live like second class citizens, tortured, and murdered by both Muslim and Christian. What luck to be so chosen!”

He Wasn’t a Tiger-Cat!


Look, it’s one thing if, while IM-ing with a female blogger, I tell her that “if we hook up, I’ll make love to you like no man has ever made love to you before.”  She’ll understand that I’m blowing some smoke in her face, being a typical man who just wants a piece of ass.

It’s another thing when you’re Los Angeles City Attorney Rocky Delgadillo, currently running for State Attorney General, and telling voters that you won a football scholarship to Harvard University, and also received an Academic All-American award there.

But now that the local media investigated his background, it appears that he never received an athletic scholarship from Harvard.  He got financial aid. 

“The Ivy League does not permit” athletic scholarships, said Robert Mitchell, a Harvard spokesman.

As for the All-American honor, Delgadillo actually got only an honorable mention for the award.

City attorney spokesman Jonathan Diamond said the words “honorable mention” inadvertently were left off Delgadillo’s city Web site.

Delgadilllo also has claimed a brief stint as a professional football player with a Candadian team, but even this is cloudy.

Delgadillo signed with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats of the Canadian Football League and reported to training camp but was cut before he could play, Brad Blank, a sports agent who represented Delgadillo, told the Times.

“He never played for the team, never claimed to. That was the extent of his stint as a professional football player, and he has never claimed otherwise,” said Roger Salazar, Delgadillo’s campaign spokesman.

Team spokesman Rom Halverson said he could find no record of Delgadillo being signed to play for the team and added, “if he didn’t play, he wasn’t a Tiger-Cat.”

Did I already mention that this man is running for State Attorney General?

I just sent him off this angry email:

Dear Mr. Delgadillo,

What kind of message do all these “white lies” send to our youth?  What message does this send me, a tax-paying citizen rewriting my resume for the fifth time before I mail it to someone at Warner Brothers?


Neil Kramer
2006 – Editor-in-Chief of Internationally-Read Online Publication

Responsibilities include — content management, web design and template development, customer service, marketing, search engine optimization, social networking, photography, research, editing, audio production, visual conception, statistical interpretation, and scheduling. 

Hey, I’m not lying, am I?

A Year Ago on Citizen of the Month:  Bikini Girl Sells Body on Ebay

Modern Politics


While I was over at Sophia’s place today, she played me all the political messages that were on her answering machine relating to Election Day.  California always has hundreds of confusing initiatives on the ballot, and frankly I’m not sure how most people even understand what they are all about. 

Sophia is a registered Republican and got several messages from her party, including one "directly" from Governor Schwarzenegger himself.  I received messages from the Democratic Party since I’m still registered here in Redondo Beach.

All of the messages contained no clear reason to vote one way or another other than party identification.

As we sat down to catch up on a week’s worth of "All My Children" episodes, Sophia had a sudden urge for watermelon.  We took a walk to the supermarket.  As we left the supermarket with our overpriced watermelon, we were stopped by a scraggly-looking guy who asked us if we wanted to sign a petition against redistricting.  You show me a petition – I think it must be for a good cause.  I agreed to sign it.

Sophia wasn’t as easy a customer.  She asked the Scraggly Petition Guy all sorts of questions.  Even after the guy gave some semi-reasonable answers, Sophia didn’t buy it.  She said she didn’t believe in the petition, so she couldn’t honestly sign it. 

"No problem," said the guy.

He pulled out another petition and handed it to her.

"Then maybe you’ll sign this.  It’s for the opposite side."

Sophia and I glanced at each other.

"What’s going on?" I asked the petition guy.  "You’re petitioning for opposite points of views at the same time?  I’ve never seen this before."

"I’m not petitioning for anything," he answered.  "I get paid a buck a signature by both sides.   He-he-he.  Sweet deal.  You’re sure you don’t wanna sign?"

I Married a Republican!


Sometimes, I wish I were more political.   I love the passion of some of my readers like JJ and Tatyana, who if they met in real life, might have a fist-fight over George Bush — is he good or evil?

I was brought up in a liberal, union-oriented family.  My grandparents had a photo of Eleanor Roosevelt on the wall with the rest of the family photos.  During the summer, I went to Camp Kinder-Ring, a liberal Jewish summer camp in the Catskills.  It was not a religious place.  In fact, it was an anti-religious Jewish-Yiddish socialist-oriented camp.  On Shabbat, we gathered around the flagpole wearing all white and singing Yiddish socialist songs.  Of course the meaning was totally lost on most of the campers, who were mostly from Long Island and cared more about sex and soccer than socialism.  On the other side of the lake was a rival camp that broke away from this camp sixty years ago because while we were “socialist,” they were “communist.”

I went to Columbia College in New York.  There was one Republican in our freshman dorm.  All he ever did was complain that he didn’t get into Yale like his father.  We used to make fun of him relentlessly.

I didn’t really associate with many Republicans in Los Angeles when I first moved here.  Then I met Sophia.   

We may have fought over many things, but I don’t think we ever fought over politics. 

Actually, that’s not true.  There was once.  One election day a few years back, we promised not to vote at all, since we were going to cancel each other out anyway.  Later, we bumped into each other at the polling station.

Of course, I never considered Sophia a “real” Republican.  No real Republicans go skinny-dipping in Spain.  And I’m sure she never thought of me as a “real” Democrat.  Although I voted for Kerry, I wasn’t upset that Bush actually won. 

Here’s something we always talk about — which party is nastier, Democrats or Republicans?  Both of them create outlandish political ads – from Willie Horton to that recent ad accusing John Roberts of strangling women who wanted to have abortions. 

Sophia frequently gets phone calls from the Republican Party, trying to scare her into thinking that “liberals” are taking over the country.  Excuse me, Karl Rove, but where exactly is this happening?  Do Jesse Jackson and Michael Moore really control everything from their “love-pad” on the Upper West Side?

I also get calls from the Democrats.  They always are trying to scare me into thinking my “civil liberties” are disappearing.   Recently, some woman called about some teacher initiative that Schwarzenegger is trying to get passed:

“If this passes, God help us all!  California will become like Mussolini’s Italy.”

These scare tactics drive me crazy.  We Democrats are supposed to be the "smart ones."  So why am I always spoken to like I’m an idiot?  I’m sure there are many valid reasons for this intiative to be rejected, but I certainly didn’t hear any from this caller.   How about teachers will lose jobs?   It will hurt the economy?   But I really doubt the governer is about to bring over some of his goose-stepping family from Austria.   When I was on the phone with this woman, all I could think was that she should get a job writing movie ads for the studios:

“This is the one film you MUST see this year or you will DIE!”

Charlie once linked to a Slate article where writer Richard Rushfield did a little social experiment during the 2004 campaign. 

He visited Republican strongholds such as Bakersfield and Newport Beach sporting a Kerry-Edwards ’04 t-shirt and button, as well as Democrat bastions such as Silverlake and Brentwood in Los Angeles.

The result:  The Republicans were much more tolerant of the Democrats than the other way around.

Of course, it was a heated time during that election, but it got ugly at times.  Remember the whole red state/blue state thing?  Or that website that suggested that half the country break away from the ugly Bush states?  Whatever happened to rational dialogue?  I find conservative talk show hosts like Sean Hannity to be pretty depressing and unpleasant, but I expect more from liberals. 

I’d like to think that liberals haven’t become as nasty as some have said, but recently, one of my friends asked me:

“Did you know that you have a lot of conservatives on your blogroll?” (saying it in a tone usually reserved for child molesters).

I said that I didn’t really notice.  My only real criteria for putting someone on the blogroll is either the person:

  1. Has a sense of humor.


  2. Is a woman.

So far, no one has made any comments about all the “liberals” on my blogroll.  Is it because we expect liberals to be smart, sexy, and fun blogging pals?   Why can’t a Republican be smart and sexy?  After all,  I did marry one. 

Republicans are not so bad when you get to know them (except the crazy anti-abortion ones).   Through Sophia, I learned to better understand and appreciate “Republican” culture.  They have some valid ideas on economics and international affairs. 

Now, excuse me… I want to go and replay this Pat Boone album I have playing on my iTunes —

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