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Paula Deen: Bringing GayPatriot Readers Together

Before I drove cross country in 2010, I had never heard of Southern cooking diva Paula Deen, but I credit her for the harmony of our readers’ dinner in Atlanta that spring.  You see, when we gathered in that august town, I was concerned; one of our critics (with whom I have corresponded at least since 2006) would be joining us — along with two of our most outspoken conservative readers, one who, two years after the 2008 election, still sported a McCain-Palin sticker (with the Arizona Senator’s name removed) on his truck.

I had feared I might have to play peacemaker.  Well, I didn’t have to.  I don’t know how Paula Deen came up, but as soon as she did, all my Atlanta readers found something to talk about — how they delighted in this diva, enjoying her books, TV show and recipes.  They discussed which ones they had tried and home and celebrated her appreciation for butter.  Paula Deen, in short, bridged the political divide.

Aware of this woman’s capacity to foster harmony, my ears naturally perked up when my correspondent James Richardson alerted me this weekend to an article he wrote, taking to task “Northern” food critics who would bring this Southern diva down:

“Thinking of getting into the leg-breaking business, so I can profitably sell crutches later,” [New York-based foodie Anthony] Bourdain said Tuesday. He has also previously called Deen the “worst, most dangerous person to America” for her country cooking indulgence. Even 2011 James Beard winner Jose Andres said that Dean should “endorse a vegetable or fruit” instead of a diabetes drug.

But the Bronx cheer for apparent chef-turned-rebel terrorist Deen, a prototypical Southern mother with a lifetime’s recipes of irredeemably deep-fried dishes, is less a reflection of the culinary elitism that runs through Bourdain’s vice-ridden travelogues than the regionalist snobbery that fuels its appeal.

. . . .

From food to faith, the mythic Dixie–soulful and abundant, passionate and insubmissive–has always clashed with the rigidly cosmopolitan north, which keeps an ever watchful eye on we, her unlearned, drawling wards. (more…)

What tone will president adopt in his speech tonight?

Just eight days before the default deadline, the president has finally endorsed a plan to raise the debt limit, signing on to “debt-ceiling proposal by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid that would cut federal deficits by $2.7 trillion and increase the federal borrowing limit through 2012.

House Speaker John Boehner, however, finds that the plan is “full of gimmicks” and “fails to change” the federal “spending structure” nor does it “deal with entitlements.” Now that both sides have plans, will the president blame Republicans for intransigence if they fail to support it? House Republicans have already compromised, with leading members of the GOP caucus denouncing his latest plan.

It seems that for this president compromise means agreeing with him.

Will the president tonight lash out at Republicans for failing to walk in lock-step with him (and call that failure “intransigence”) or will he commend them for putting forward several plans to raise the debt limit while cutting spending?  His recent history of public statements on the debt crisis suggests the former.  As Peter Wehner wrote about the Democrat’s most recent such statement:

It’s been clear to some of us for a while that Barack Obama is a man of uncommon self-admiration, quite thin-skinned, and increasingly consumed by his grievances. Obama has masked these traits pretty well so far, but on Friday his mask slipped more than it ever has.

Via Instapundit.

Will the president focus on the good will efforts of individuals on both sides of the political aisle to solve the debt crisis or will he make it appear that he is the only adult in the room (and thus show he is anything but)?

Brattleboro Dinner Sunday June 13/Slow Blogging

Posted by B. Daniel Blatt at 9:42 am - June 11, 2010.
Filed under: Dan's Cross Country Odyssey

I’m having such a good time reconnecting with friends at my reunion, including a great heart-to-heart with a classmate whom I barely knew back in the day but has since come out.   I doubt I’ll be blogging much this weekend.  

I do want to remind our readers in Vermont and New Hampshire (and even western Mass) about our dinner this Sunday, June 13 in Brattleboro, Vermont.

E-mail me to RSVP and for details.

On Cross County Drives and the “Click”

Posted by B. Daniel Blatt at 9:01 pm - June 8, 2010.
Filed under: Dan's Cross Country Odyssey,Random Thoughts

There are times when I encounter a segment of a cross country drive which makes me wonder why I do it.  The drive is, as long drives are to so many people, a chore, merely time spent in a car getting from Point A to Point B.   Such was my drive last Friday from Nashville to Cincinnati.  It was hot and humid.  And just as my thoughts were beginning to wander, traffic was stopped on I-65 and I had to take a detour through Cave City and Caverna.  By the time I got back on the freeway, I was unable to rediscover the rhythm I once had.

But, yesterday and today, the drives were wonderful.  The lecture on CD I was listening had just enough nuggets of wisdom to inspire some serious thought.  I recorded quite a few ideas into my pocket digital recorders.  And I stopped for a pleasant dinner with an engaging and attractive reader just outside of Cleveland.

Last night, so much did I enjoy being on the road, I decided to drive past Erie and made it into the Empire State.  Now, there the trouble arose.  I went to three separate hotels before settling on the least expensive.  It was kind of dingy, but the staff was polite and the bed was firm enough to allow a good night’s rest.  I regretted not choosing the Best Western because the woman was really quite friendly; she had put FoxNews on the television in the lobby (even before my arrival).  She had contacted the Days Inn to see if it was cheaper.  It was.   (more…)

GayPatriot Boston Dinner Tomorrow Weds., June 9
(Brattleboro, VT, Sunday June 13)

One of the greatest things about this trip has been the change to meet our readers. I was delighted that in Atlanta when one of our left-of-center readers joined us, he found that he and the readers more in line with this blog’s point of view shared a fascination with cooking and TV food shows.

Right now, a good number have RSVPed for the Boston dinner, tomorrow Wednesday June 9 but we still need find a place. Drop me a note if you have any ideas.  Thanks to our wonderful readers, we have found a place. Contact me for details.

Also some readers who have busy schedules have asked if they can come late for an after-dinner drink.  Of course you can.  We’d be glad to see you whenever you can make it.  

Let me know if any of you are free during the day on June 9 and want to join me (and at least one other reader) in taking a walk along the Freedom Trail. Together, GayPatriot fans can help trace the path of the original American patriots.

And don’t forget Brattleboro, Vermont on Sunday, June 13.  Here at least, we seem to have settled on a place.

E-mail me to RSVP for either or both of those dinners (as well as the walk along Freedom Trail).

NB:  Bumped & Updated

On Meeting Pam Spaulding & the Merits of the Blogosphere

I’m not quite sure when I first corresponded  with blogress Pam Spaulding of Pam’s House Blend.  I believe I first became aware of her website when we were in competition for best LGBT blog in ’05.

Thanks to her blog (as well as those of Michael Petrelis and John Aravosis, among others), I have learned that not all outspoken gays on the left march in lock-step with the left-wing lickspittles leading the various gay organizations.  These bloggers (and blogresses) don’t define themselves as the gay adjuncts to the Democratic Party, but instead as advocates for gay people.

We may not always agree with them, but we do appreciate their integrity, understanding that Democrats don’t always have our interests at heart.

I believe I first e-mailed Pam to commend her for taking HRC’s Joe Solomonese to task for his obsequiousness toward Democrats.  Well, due in large part to our occasional correspondence that ensued over the years, I e-mailed her when I realized I would be passing through Raleigh on my way across country.  We met last Monday for coffee and so engaging was our conversation that I totally lost track of the time.

We didn’t agree on everything, but we did share a disdain for the gay organizations.  Not only have blogs provided a forum for gay conservatives, something we pretty much lacked before the dawn of the “internets,” but they have also provided a space for left-of-center gays disenchanted with the gay establishment.  As I noted above, until I discovered these websites, I was largely unaware of the extent of dissatisfaction among such gays, particularly among activists, with the leadership at HRC and other left-wing gay organizations, many of them often shills for the Democratic Party.

I believe that it is in large part because bloggers like Pam have refused to accept the gay leadership’s acquiescence to the dictates of the Democratic Party that we have seen forward motion on DADT repeal. (more…)

Is Athene Responsible for my amazing evening in Nashville?

In my post yesterday afternoon, I indicated that the day was supposed to be a real quiet evening on a very busy journey:

Today, for the first time in two weeks, I find myself alone on my journey, not spending the night in a hotel with my family or in the homes of my friends (and family).

But, it was not to be.  When a reader commented, welcoming me to Nashville, I e-mailed him to say hey.  He then asked if I had dinner plans.  Since I had none, he invited me out to Indian food and later out for a cocktail with some of his friends.

In between, we stopped at the Parthenon to view it in its illuminated splendor.  Indeed, I can look out from my hotel room and see that wonderful shrine.  What a treat.  Alas, that I’m not yet a gifted enough photographer to capture the image and post it here (though I do have others to post).

As I showed Eric the replica of Phidias’ masterpiece, I explained the stories depicted on the pediments and the metopes underneath.  I could alas not identify all the characters on the Western Pediment, depicting the contest between the owl-eyed Olympian and her impulsive uncle (Poseidon) for the patronage of the City of Athens.  (I was, however, more familiar with their various myths and their famous rivalry, indeed, that very rivalry setting the stage for (and serving as the backdrop of) the first twelve books of the Odyssey.)

And the cocktail hour featured a delicious (and unique) beverage as well as an intense and spirited discussion with attractive, broad-minded and intelligent homosexuals.  That is the life!

So, to Eric, I say, thank you, thank you for a wonderful evening.  Had I not blogged about Athene, I would not have met such interesting men and had such a marvelous time.  

(Eric’s boyfriend is one lucky fellow.)

And this was not the only good time I had among our readers–who are a most remarkable sort.

UPDATE:  Pictures below the jump: (more…)

At Athene’s Western Hemisphere Shrine

Today, for the first time in two weeks, I find myself alone on my journey, not spending the night in a hotel with my family or in the homes of my friends (and family).  After leaving Atlanta this morning where I had a wonderful dinner with some of our readers (including one non-conservative fan of the blog) last night, I am making a pilgrimage (of sorts) to the Western Hemisphere shrine to the goddess Athene, the owl-eyed Olympian, and subject of my dissertation.

Me being me, I actually brought a bound print-out of the first six chapters of the paper into the temple.  Now, I sit in Centennial Park, looking up at the reproduction of Phidias’ classic building, grateful for my wireless card which allows me to blog and confident that the battery on my laptop will last long enough to allow me to post this.

GayPatriot Boston Dinner Wednesday, June 9

Now that I’m about to dine with some Atlanta readers, I wanted to remind y’all of our next dinner on my journey, a week from today, Wednesday, June 9 in Boston. 

I intend to arrive in Boston on June 8 so I can do something I’ve never done before in Beantown (though have long wanted to do it) — take a walk along the Freedom Trail.  If any of you are free during the day on June 9, it would be great to trace the path of the original American patriots with some GayPatriot fans.

And don’t forget Brattleboro, Vermont on Sunday, June 13.

E-mail me to RSVP for either or both of those dinners (as well as the walk along Freedom Trail).

My old drinking buddy Ralph Reed

Posted by B. Daniel Blatt at 2:15 pm - June 2, 2010.
Filed under: Dan's Cross Country Odyssey

After a very pleasant lunch with an old friend from College Republicans, I’m taking a brief break to do some blogging in a Borders in downtown Atlanta.  Given my bibliophilia, I’m amazed that I have gone this long without spending more than a few minutes on this journey in a bookstore (and then only in a small speciality shop at the Jung Institute in New York).

That old friend was none another that Ralph Reed, former leader of the Christian Coalition.  I’ve always liked Ralph.  When I was a College Republican (CR) state chairman, he was a most able executive director, keeping the lines of communication open between the national office and various state federations.

If ever we needed something done in Washington, we just needed to call Ralph and it would get done.  He was a superior organizer, getting information out to the states and offering good counsel to CR officers.  And he was a fun person to be around — even when he was sober.

Well, today, we had a wide-ranging conversation, sharing war stories and discussing Republican prospects for the current electoral cycle (among other things).  Oh, and, I came out to Ralph.  I say this almost as an afterthought because it didn’t change his regard for me — or affect the tenor of our conversation.

Ralph remains opposed to state recognition of same-sex marriage, but not to the participation of gay people in the GOP.  Still, he’s a nice guy, a great storyteller with a puckish sense of humor (even if he has long since given up drinking).

Another illustration of the greater facility we gay conservatives have coming out to our conservative colleagues, even the social conservative ones (than we do coming out as conservative to our gay peers).  And a reminder that many opponents of gay marriage base their opposition not on animosity to gay people, but on their religious principles.

GayPatriot Dinner in Atlanta Tonight Weds., June 2

Posted by B. Daniel Blatt at 9:18 am - June 2, 2010.
Filed under: Dan's Cross Country Odyssey,Travel

Please join on Wednesday June 2 for a dinner in Atlanta.  E-mail me to RSVP.

Other upcoming dinners include Boston one week later on Wednesday June 9 or Brattleboro, Vermont on Sunday, June 13.

I will also be passing through Cincinnati over the first weekend of June and would be delighted to get together with any readers who live in or near the town of my birth.  And will be in St. Louis on or about June 16.

NB: Bumped

The Jinxed Freeways of the Tarheel State

Posted by B. Daniel Blatt at 11:32 pm - June 1, 2010.
Filed under: Blogging,Dan's Cross Country Odyssey,Travel

Sometimes when I drive cross country, it seems certain states become cursed–at least for that particular journey.  When I drove east across Wyoming in 1998, it seemed everything went wrong in the home state of one of our nation’s greatest Vice Presidents.  And I was grateful to cross the line into Nebraska.

On this trip, it seemed there was a jinx (at least for me) on the freeways in the Tarheel State.   In Raleigh, Mapquest told me to get onto I-440 South, only when I reached the appropriate interchange, there was no 440 South, only East or West, yet each of those directions had been newly painted onto the signs.  I headed in the wrong direction and ended up exiting the freeway at an interchange that did not allow me to back on in the opposite direction.

Yesterday, a misty rain made driving difficult as well as straight male rubberneckers checking out an attractive young woman who had drive her car off the road and into a ditch in the median.  And while my co-blogger gave me perfect directions to his home, save for transposing the digits in the address in one (of two) texts identifying the location of his residence, the North Carolina Department of Transportation did not see fit to identify that the exit for North 485.

And this morning, I ended up heading in the wrong direction on that very freeway (this time possibly due to my own error) on my way to meet PatriotMom for breakfast.

Now while the Tarheel State may have been jinxed freeway-wise, it was anything but disappointing people wise.   (more…)

Why Don’t People Smile as Much in Our Nation’s Capital?

Posted by B. Daniel Blatt at 5:08 pm - May 27, 2010.
Filed under: Dan's Cross Country Odyssey,Random Thoughts,Travel

The three things I have most noticed about DC since returning for only the third time since I lived here in the 1990s is how few people smile (compared to LA), how many more smokers there are and how oppressive is the humidity.

Perhaps, oppressive is a bit harsh, but it does take some getting used to when you’re walking around downtown, especially when wearing a jacket and tie and toting a laptop.

It is weird to be back, a stranger in a city which was once my home.  I remain familiar with many of the places I pass, but they all seem different in some way.  Not to mention the new construction.  

The oddest thing though is how easily I have been able to navigate the city’s streets.  I quickly remembered how things fit together.  When driving in, I didn’t need look at a map to find my way from I-95 South to central Arlington.

Why is it, I wonder, that people don’t smile as much as they do in LA.  Is it just the weather?  Was it like this when  I last lived here (in the Clinton era)?  Or does everyone now take themselves far more seriously now that a new man’s in charge.

Obama on My Metro Pass

Today, when I bought my Day Pass for the DC Metro, I was a little surprised to find a familiar face on the card:

So, what is the president doing on a ticket to the public transportation system in our nation’s capital.  It says it’s celebrating his presidential inauguration.  But, I don’t recall seeing the image of Bill Clinton on such tickets when I lived in DC during his inaugural in 1997.  Nor do my friends require such images during his first inaugural.  Or for either of W’s.

And anyway, the inauguration was 16 months ago.

This is not where Americans place the image of our president.  This is something they do in authoritarian countries.

Dan’s Return to DC May 26 & 27

Posted by B. Daniel Blatt at 12:57 am - May 26, 2010.
Filed under: Dan's Cross Country Odyssey,Travel

After a wonderful few days in the Big Apple and its suburbs, I’m heading down to my old haunts in and around our nation’s capital later this afternoon. 

I encourage you to join me tonight at the debate between the first candidate we endorsed in this cycle, Matthew Berry and Patrick Murray, his rival for the Republican nomination to take out Democrat Jim Moran in Virginia’s Eighth Congressional District.

This debate follows the regular monthly meeting of the Arlington County Republican Committee, starting at 8 PM in the NRECA Conference Center, 4301 Wilson Boulevard, Arlington [Ballston].  This at North Taylor Street near the Ballston-MU Metro station.  For a map, go to www.arlingtongop.org.  There is free parking in NRECA garage.  (Enter from North Taylor Street.)

And afterwards, we will retreat to a local watering hole where the candidate will be joining us.

To RSVP for (or ask about) any of these events, just e-mail me.

Tomorrow night, Thursday May 27, some bloggers are holding a Happy Hour in my honor in the district.  You’re welcome to join us for that and a dinner to follow.  For location and to RSVP, just e-mail me.

Now, Optimistic about DADT repeal

Okay, so there appears to be a really big break in an issue which greatly concerns me when I have little time to address.  In between losing to my fifth eldest nephew in Ping Pong and celebrating with my third eldest niece who just become Bat Mitzvah, I have been having heart-to-hearts with my baby sister and talking myth with my mother while connecting with my older sister and reconnecting with college friends in New Jersey and having a wonderful dinner with a guy I dated in 1995 (who now lives in the Big Apple), we learn that the Administration has reached a compromise on repealing Don’t Ask/Don’t Tell as Nick reported here.

From what little I’ve read, my evaluation is that while this may not be an ideal solution, it does appear to be a step in the right direction.  Left-of-center blogress Pam Spaulding offers a somewhat skeptical perspective here and here.

Jimmy LaSalvia, Executive Director of GOProud

. . . urges conservatives in the House and Senate to support the ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ repeal compromise that was reached yesterday.  While this compromise isn’t perfect, it does take an important first step in removing the Clinton-era ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ policy and returns the decision-making authority for the policy regarding gay service to the Department of Defense and the Commander-in-Chief.

 We believe strongly that Congress should not be involved in micro-managing military personnel decisions.  Those decisions should be made by our military leaders – not by opportunistic politicians.

 At the end of the day, conservatives should support a policy that best serves our men and women in uniform and our national security, and this compromise will insure that such a policy is implemented.

Seem that at least one Republican will be voting in favor of repeal.

In the coming days, let’s hope some reporters ferret out how this came to pass.  Looks like someone in the Administration is committed to doing the right thing.  And keeping the promises candidate Obama made on the campaign trail.

New York Dinner with Dan Tonight, May 23rd

Posted by B. Daniel Blatt at 1:44 am - May 23, 2010.
Filed under: Dan's Cross Country Odyssey,Travel

Just one last reminder about our dinner in New York tonight, Sunday, May 23.  Looks like it’ll be somewhere near Grand Central at about 7 PM. Please let me know if you can join me in the Big Apple.

The “cool feeling” of making it from LA to NY

Posted by B. Daniel Blatt at 1:00 am - May 22, 2010.
Filed under: Dan's Cross Country Odyssey,Travel

Early Friday afternoon, after I rounded a bend heading east on I-80 in New Jersey, I looked up and saw the skyline of Manhattan and I smiled, recalling that almost exactly five days earlier — on the preceding Sunday, I had driven past the skyline of downtown Los Angeles as I headed east. 

It was a pretty cool feeling, not diminished by the fact that this is now my eighth such trek across the country (so far three times round-trip and the drive I made when I moved to LA plus this one).

Of course, just a few minutes after looking forward to an early arrival at my sister’s, I encountered bumper-t0-bumper traffic leading up to the George Washington Bridge.  My sister had told me to tune into AM 1010 for traffic updates and I learned that I had a 30-minute wait.  Just about 28 minutes later, I pulled into the tollbooth.  Maybe 20 minutes after that I was with her family.

30 minutes later, my fifth eldest nephew beat me at Ping Pong.

And while I didn’t have the time to stop and see the scenery as I had on past journeys, I did get to see family and friends, including my oldest nephew, now a Lieutenant in the Air Force as well as a friend from my College Republican days and a classmate from grad school.  I liked the combination of family as well as my political and mythological relationships.

Not to mention the chance I had to meet some of our readers in the Windy City.

The first time I did such a drive, I saw fewer friends and more scenery, discovering three national parks, Zion, Sequoia and Yosemite — and going on some pretty amazing hikes. (more…)

The right place to eat in Kingston, PA

Thanks to Facebook, I reconnected yesterday with a friend I knew from my days in College Republicans, back in the Abramoff era.  I believe the last time we saw each other was at the Gipper’s second inaugural.

We met at a delightful diner in Kingston, PA, immediately adjacent to Wilkes-Barre.  At Tony’s, the welcome was warm and the food tasty.  And, well, the politics was largely to my liking.  Take a gander at the fridge:

So, the next time you’re in the Wilkes-Barre area, make sure to stop by. The food is good–and by LA standards, really quite inexpensive and the politics are just right.

GayPatriot DC Dinner Thurs. May 27, NY Sun 23rd

Posted by B. Daniel Blatt at 8:47 am - May 21, 2010.
Filed under: 2010 Elections,Dan's Cross Country Odyssey,Travel

Please let me know if you can join me in New York this coming Sunday the 23rd for a GayPatriot dinner in the Big Apple.

Our DC dinner will be next Thursday, May 27th.

On the preceding day, I’ll be at the debate between the first candidate we endorsed in this cycle, Matthew Berry and Patrick Murray, his rival for the Republican nomination to take out Democrat Jim Moran in Virginia’s Eighth Congressional District.

This debate follows the regular monthly meeting of the Arlington County Republican Committee, starting at 8 PM in the NRECA Conference Center, 4301 Wilson Boulevard, Arlington [Ballston].  This is right at North Taylor Street near the Ballston-MU METRO station.  For a map, go to www.arlingtongop.org.  There is free parking in NRECA garage.  (Enter from North Taylor Street.)

And afterwards, we may retreat to a local watering hole to celebrate Matthew’s victory.

To RSVP for (or ask about) any of these events, just e-mail me.