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Thursday, February 26, 2004

Bad Theology? 

Ezra at Pandagon takes the time to make a theological/linguistic argument against the use of the bible by the "religious" "right" to villify homosexuals. I've read the bible twice. I've not read it since studying linguistics, philosophy, and literature enough and feel like I might get more from my reading if I took another whack at it. Even with my limited knowledge, I still find Ezra's argument somewhat weak at points (or at least loose). However, his basic thesis is solid. There simply isn't much (if anything of substance) in the text to support the "God hates fags!" motto of some of the more extreme zealots on the right.

In fact, Jesus taught inclusion, empathy and urged us to love others regardless of who they are. I'm sorry to see a great man's teaching twisted so completely that it has become a vehicle for division and hate. The cliche' "God save me from your followers" comes back to mind.

Ezra puts it quite well:

"Jesus brought a message of hope, tolerance and forgiveness. Those who claim to speak for him today are preaching hate, discrimination and fear. These two messages cannot be reconciled and it is the students, not the Teacher, who lie in the wrong."

Out of Line 

I'm glad to see lefty bloggers calling Cornine Brown on this. Racism is racism regardless of which way it is heading. Brown should apologize for her statements, and I hope for her sake she does. Imagine if a Republican said something like "You all look alike to me." Democrats should inform Brown that being a party of inclusion and equality means that even old white men are allowed to voice their policy opinions. Even if stuff like this comes flying out in a burst of emotion and frustration (understandable frustration) it is absoloutely no excuse.

Our policy can be disgusting sometimes, but that isn't the right time to fight fire with fire. What Brown said disgusts as much as the policy that drew this hatred out of her.


Cleanchannel 

Clearchannel has entered the culture war. True to form they've cast their lot for monoto--er--morality. Funny they take Stern off the air right as the gay marriage abomination gets Bush's support.

I'm not a big fan of Stern. I think he's a mysoginist. But he's got a right to say his piece, and he's been on the air for a long time. Why the sudden change of heart? It scares me that the move to attack homosexuals is paralleled with a move to censor an outspoken radio personality. If it's morality that Clearchannel is trying to enforce, then why play songs by Nellie and 50 Cent?

Media conglomeration...the one issue I'm sorry is flying under the radar given the nightmare that is the Bush administration and the rise of the "religious" "right".

UPDATE: I've nothing against Nellie or 50 per se. I don't care for their music (except occasionally when the Neptunes or Timbaland are working the nobs). They're used only as archetypes of music that scares old white people and get massive radio play on Clearchannel stations.

Gay Marriage III 

The more I think and read about this issue, the more I'm being drawn into this culture war.

I thought about all of my gay friends, both present and from the past. I grew up doing theatre in Houston. I started acting when I was 9. From an early age I was very close to a great many gay men and women through my activities in the arts. I remember the fight I had with my parents when they expressed concern about an older (gay) actor in one show I was in. I was livid. The man was a father-figure to me. He was a phenomenal artist and a beautiful person. This is about civil rights. It's also about my friends. My first college roommate was gay. I remember how much trouble he and his boyfriend (later one of my best friends) went through to keep me from finding out. After all, I was a pot-luck roommate...what would I think? I kept insisting that I understood and it was okay, but it wasn't until I walked in on them kissing and laughed so hard I almost died as they tried to play it off that they finally let down their guard. What were they afraid of? Why should anyone be afraid to be who they are? This is an attack not only on a group of people, however, but on our constitution as well. Andrew Sullivan says it quite nicely:

"When people tell me that, in weighing the political choices, the war on terror should trump the sanctity of the Constitution, my response is therefore a simple one. The sanctity of the Constitution is what we are fighting for. We're not fighting just to defend ourselves. We are fighting to defend a way of life: pluralism, freedom, equality under the law. You cannot defend the Constitution abroad while undermining it at home. It's a contradiction. And it's a deeply divisive contradiction in a time of great peril."

Damn straight. So sign me up. Bush drafted me in the culture war. And the more I think about it...the more I mull it over...the readier I become to fight. If there was a protest tomorrow, I'd see you in the street. Am I fighting for marriage of one kind or another? Hell no. I'm fighting for two things: civil rights and my friends.

(edited to remove an out-of-context quotation)

Wednesday, February 25, 2004

Holy Shit 

Funny as FUCK via Mr. Andrew Sullivan, our newest ally against Bush.

See...I get one complaint about no posting on the gay marriage issue, and you get a deluge of posts...

Gay Marriage II 

Actually, it's just a link to Kevin Drum. As with most issues, he's all over this one.

Dumb Dealers 

Gotta love this.

So some people trying to pick up a large shipment of marijuana instead wind up with organs. How they mistook the well-labeled box for their own is beyond me, but what is further incredible is their attempt to trade the organs back for the pot. Wha?

At least they got the organ bits to the transplantees in time...otherwise the ONDCP would have a new commercial.

Whether it would try to tie in drug trafficking with the deaths of organ transplant patients or simply imply that "junkies" are smoking organs is up for grabs...

The Draft 

There's been some humming about how re-electing Bush is like voting for reinstatement of the draft.

I think there's something to that. The problem with this line of reasoning is that Bush Co. has so stretched our military capacity (what with optional wars and all) that given any sudden occurrence that would require a fairly massive military response, the draft would become a practical necessity regardless of who is in office. And unfortunately, we have fanatics running around the world blowing shit up with frightening frequency these days. Now the blowings-up may not require massive military response in and of themselves, but remember that wars can start when the wrong person/thing/idea gets blown to bits, and wars often require massive military responses.

So, although I think there is a greater likelihood of a draft if Bush manages to win (or more likely manages, again, to steal) a second term, the likelihood is nearly as high even if a Democrat is in office. Though the background giving rise to that distinct possibility is largely Bush's fault, the damage has already been done. (When I say Bush's fault I refer not to the acts of terrorists, which are the fault of terrorists and religion, but to the Iraq war which I do not feel is central to the "war on terror", which I define differently as protecting ourselves rather than trying to somehow annihilate a paramilitary tactic, and was an optional exercise in nation-building that has devastated our ability to respond to future threats that really...what's the word...oh yeah: exist).

I'm not saying this is a reason to vote for Bush...far from it. I just think we need to be pondering our military situation with greater reason and clarity and without all the reactionary hubbub. These are our friends and neighbors we're talking about...not chess pieces. And if the draft does get reinstated, it will be ME we're talking about.

So the question follows...if there is a draft, will you serve? I've an answer to that question personally, and it will remain personal. But if you're 18-24 and not currently serving, you might want to mull that over a bit.

On the draft: click here for Ron Paul's take, which I find enlightening.
Here's a short quip stating Colin Powell's position and that of Charles Rangel.
And here's Fritz Hollings supporting reinstatement.

Do I personally think we should have a draft? It's a tough question. There are serious questions of equality with a non-conscription based military and serious questions of liberty with a draft. It's a tough call...and one I'm glad I don't have to make. So I'll answer selfishly and say I oppose the draft since I might get caught up in one were it reinstated tomorrow and I don't feel like dying or having to kill.

Another interesting moral/policy question: Now that females serve in the armed forces, do we draft women as well? Do we give them a break if they are pregnant? I think that would seriously increase our teen pregnancy statistics. Just a random thought.

Gay Marriage 

I guess I should say something more about this...

I've posted on it before when the Mass. SJC ruling came down, and I think that says just about all I want to say here, but I'll augment that for fun.

I'm trying to care more about this issue now that it is a culture war centerpiece intended to divide the country. I'm divided on the side of gay rights (surprise surprise). Why? It's about civil rights. I don't care about the institution of marriage and don't understand why it is so revered by those on the right who like to pretend it still really matters in a way that should give rise to the use of words like "revere" and "sanctity". I think the institution has been chewed up and spit out already and I don't get why people are wasting valuable fanaticism on a chunk of chewed up nonsense. Gay people, however, should have the same rights as straight people, and that extends to the rights of couples. So if you frame it like that, I'm for "gay marriage" even though I'm not really "for marriage" at all.

That might seem a little shaky, and I don't wanna come off like the Democrats on this issue with the whole split-the-baby "I'm against gay marriage, but for civil unions." I get what they're saying and I agree with them (I think that's the best solution). But the terms of the debate have been set, and compromise is no longer an option (the fault of both the courts and the executive, and a damn shame). Now it's just like abortion; you have to take sides or come off like a sleazy, pandering politician. You can't say, "I'm pro-life except when I'm pro-choice." And the same goes here.

So...I support gay marriage. Meanwhile, the only thing making me give a shit really is the insistance of cultural conservatives (read: religious zealots) on tinkering (read: mauling) our constitution to shove their values down the throats of the rest of the country.

The amendment is an abomination and should be squelched as such (and I think it will be). Even DeLay won't come out for it after Bush did, which says something.

Moral of the story? When Republicans can't run on their (feculent) record, they have a tendency to divide and conquer by harping on touchy social issues. Democrats do the same thing when they screw up. That's politics I guess, disgusting as it is. As for this particular tactic? I think it will backfire, with Bush losing more by alienating the Log-Cabiners and cheerleaders like Sully along with droves of socially moderate fiscal conservatives who really bought his whole "compassionate conservative" line back in 2000 than he is likely to gain by appeasing his base of far-right loons hellbent on hastening the apocalypse.

(edited for clarity and to remove stupidity)


Tuesday, February 24, 2004

Rod Paige - Foot in Mouth 101 

Yeah boy. The NEA is PISSED! And you know what it's like when public school teachers get pissed. Last bunch I'd wanna be in bad graces with.

Well Rod Paige, our Secretary of Education did call them terrorists...so I guess he better get ready for the firestorm that's a comin'. Paige was the Superintendant of the Houston Independent School District while I was there attending public schools and I have to say that the man is next to worthless. I was really surprised when I heard about his appointment, and I'm sure many in Houston were, especially when we heard the PR version of what was supposedly going on in the city we were actually living and attending school in.

Anywho. When the Secretary of Education calls the largest teachers union in the country a "terrorist organization" in front of almost every governor in the country, I think it's safe to say that PR was not at the top of the agenda. His ass deserves to be fired, and I hope the NEA pulls it off.

Leiter on Nader (and Edwards) 

I know I said I would ignore this, but the more I try to do so the more I end up talking about it (and reading about it).

Brian Leiter has a great bit on Nader and Edwards here that should be read. He once again manages to work Chomsky into the whole thing. Truly amazing is that man's ability to Chomskyize everything. Not that I mind...

Monday, February 23, 2004

Kos on Edwards 

Kos has jumped on the Edwards wagon. My favorite bit of the post?

"And as I look at the two remaining candidates, Edwards seems the best bet. It's the difference between Bob Dole and George W. Bush. One symbolized the GOP's past, the other the future."

Best...political...analogy...ever.

I've been talking to alot of people about this lately. Edwards has more momentum than even the press is giving him credit for. I think alot of people are going to be surprised come March 2nd, and I think the people for whom that surprise will be pleasant are going to be the Edwards supporters.

Big up Southern Boy!


Nader and Local News 

A local producer for Fox News (here in Austin) contacted me over the weekend. He'd seen my post about Nader here on the blog and wanted to know if I had any information about Nader's upcoming speaking engagement. I didn't, and I told him so. The frightening thing is that he knew my name and phone number. So much for pseudonymity...

UPDATE: And on his run for president? I'm choosing to ignore it. I am a Democrat.

UPDATED UPDATE: Okay, so I'm not going to completely ignore it. But I will pass the buck! Tom Tomorrow takes the words right outta my mouth and smacks 'em down on his fabulous blog.

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