Words Worth Noting

Favorite Quotes

"Le coeur a ses raisons que la raison ne connait point. French. Pascal. The heart has its reasons, whereof reason knows nothing."— Madeleine L'Engle

Thursday, October 21, 2004

Salon.com | John Kerry's lesbian moment

Salon.com | John Kerry's lesbian moment: "Much of the gay population is incensed. At the media.
Let's get one thing straight. It is not an insult to call a proudly public lesbian a lesbian. It's an insult to gasp when someone calls her a lesbian. That's how all the gays I have spoken to the past 24 hours perceived the press response. You're embarrassed for us. And it's infuriating. "

Election Scorecard - Where the presidential race stands today. By William Saletan, David Kenner, and Louisa Herron Thomas

By William Saletan, David Kenner, and Louisa Herron Thomas

Thorough state by state data and predictions on Slate.com.

MSNBC - Altercation

Today's column is just one example of why I'm now quite certain that Eric Alterman* is a media god, sort of like Jon Stewart with a PhD:

"If you can explain to me why in the name of Johnny Damon the Junior Senator spent the morning murdering waterfowl in Ohio, you're a shrewder political mind than I am. And Mike McCurry? If you're going to concoct a phony stunt like this, it would be better if you didn't go before the assembled hackdom on the plane and say that your campaign is trying to connect with some 'regular-guy' stuff, thereby reminding all and sundry that he, you know, has to do that. Can you imagine McCurry at any time in the previous Administration, explaining a Bill 'n Hill photo op thusly, 'We have them holding hands because we needed to demonstrate that the president doesn't spend all his time shtupping the hired help.'

I can't.

Look, folks, the guy is a war hero. The guy killed people, for pity's sake. Are we really at such an immature stage in this political culture that having done that isn't macho enough in the face of C-Plus Augustus and his manly-man Divine Duodenum method of governance? The answer, of course, is yes, but I just thought I'd ask the question anyway."
*Brooklyn College English Professor & author, The Book on Bush, What Liberal Media?)

The New Republic Online: John Kerry for President

Today the New Republic endorsed John Kerry for President:

"The president's war on terrorism, which initially offered a striking contrast to his special interest-driven domestic agenda, has come to resemble it. The common thread is ideological certainty untroubled by empirical evidence, intellectual curiosity, or open debate. The ideology that guides this president's war on terrorism is more appealing than the corporate cronyism that guides his domestic policy. But it has been pursued with the same sectarian, thuggish, and ultimately self-defeating spirit. You cannot lead the world without listening to it. You cannot make the Middle East more democratic while making it more anti-American. You cannot make the United States more secure while using security as a partisan weapon. And you cannot demand accountable government abroad while undermining it at home.

And so a president who promised to make America safer by making the Muslim world more free has failed on both counts. This magazine has had its differences with John Kerry during his career and during this campaign. But he would be a far better president than George W. Bush."

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

CNN.com - Kerry wins prophetic kids poll - Oct 20, 2004

CNN.com - Kerry wins prophetic kids poll - Oct 20, 2004
Out of the mouth of babes: it's Kerry in a landslide.

Salon.com News | Reality-based reporting

If you read nothing else that I recommend, this is important to absorb in its entirety. Pulitzer Prize-winner and former Wall Street Journal reporter Ron Suskind on Bush's relationship with religion, truth, and the media:

Ron Suskind, who exposed the ruthless internal operations of Team Bush, tells Salon that many Republicans, too, are frightened by the White House's "kill-or-be-killed desire to undermine public debate based on fact."

It is one devil of a challenge. One man's conversation with God guides the globe and human affairs. How exactly do you frame that inside the secular writ of informed consent based on facts? I think those who are forcefully running the White House electoral machine -- and the soul of this machine is an extraordinary operation -- understand this with great alacrity.

What grade would give the mainstream press in covering Bush?

Oh, God. Let me just say that I think we have the most skillful and most energetic press corps on the planet. What they've had to wrestle with is a very evolved and eloquent operation to undercut what they do. Without giving them a letter grade, I think that everybody in the fourth estate realizes that the White House has won most victories, especially after 9/11, when they then had that to use as part of their tool kit....

You seem to have luck with Republican sources, and specifically with those from Bush's faith-based community and his advisors. Do you think they're among the most disillusioned?

Absolutely. They're among the most disillusioned because it comes from a direct, personal experience with the president of the United States.

So they thought there was a connection with Bush. They thought there would be a follow-through, that he meant what he said during the 2000 campaign?

They thought a whole variety of things, and then they saw what "is" is. And some of them were troubled by it, and some of them have been, frankly, frightened by it. These are Republicans who in significant numbers have been coming to my office. One of the jokes is that my office is now the government in exile for Republicans. They come because they're concerned -- not as members of a political party but as American citizens. That's what they say over and over. And they take not insubstantial risks to come.

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

My thoughts on the so-called lesbian outrage

Marygate.I'm on the warpath and on the soapbox. Just what I needed - another topic that is so overblown and twisted by the mainstream media that I feel nauseous just thinking about it and need to vent just to release some of my own steam.

I’ll start by highlighting the words of the openly gay, maddeningly brilliant, conservative Catholic columnist, Andrew Sullivan, who can be counted on to be honest and fearless in his criticism of partisan b.s. on both sides of the aisle.* Here’s what he had to say about Marygate in the New Republic last week:
“Was her privacy violated? Of course not. She is an openly gay person. She
once had a job at Coors specifically designed for gay and lesbian outreach. She
was once a member of the Republican Unity Coalition, a now disbanded group
seeking gay inclusion in the GOP. Her lesbianism is a matter of public record.
More important, she is critical in running the campaign of the vice president.
How much more public could she possibly be? She cannot hold down a public
campaign job as an open lesbian and then cry foul when this is brought up."

“The truth is that Kerry and Edwards have absolutely nothing to apologize for.
And an apology would only legitimize the anti-gay prejudice that permeates the
premises of an argument like Safire's. After all, if Kerry congratulated the
president on the conduct and charm of his straight daughters--as he did in the
first debate--no one would accuse him of being out of line, of invading
someone's "privacy." And yet by congratulating the vice president on the conduct
and dignity of his gay daughter, he is somehow beyond the pale of decency. It
only makes sense if you believe that lesbianism is something to hide, be ashamed
of, or cover up. Obviously that's Safire's view. But he should be explicit about
that and defend it, rather than relying on it as a premise for his case."

My Take
The real truth about Mary is that I think it’s very likely that MOST of America still feels at least some of that shame – that being a lesbian is wrong, “something to hide, be ashamed of, or cover up” as Andrew describes.**

I think it's because of this sentiment that progressives allow gays in America to remain in a state of limbo, living precariously within the confines of a sort of post-colonial era/Dred Scott v. Sanford stage of American social and legal standing (you know, 3/5 of a real, i.e. straight person). In such a climate, it’s better to not mention one's sexuality, better to “pass” for straight if you can than to admit you’re gay, much like light-skinned blacks passing for white used to.

If that seems too harsh, one might even argue that gays have attained the equivalent of blacks' post-civil war, but pre-civil rights movement status, enjoying Plessy v. Ferguson style “separate but equal” rights. According to that ignoble doctrine:
"A statute which implies merely a legal distinction between the white and
colored races -- a distinction which is founded in the color of the two races,
and which must always exist so long as white men are distinguished from the
other race by color -- has no tendency to destroy the legal equality of the two races...The object of the [Fourteenth A]mendment was undoubtedly to enforce the absolute equality of the two races before the law, but in the nature of things it could not have been intended to abolish distinctions based upon color, or to enforce social, as distinguished from political equality, or a commingling of the two races upon terms unsatisfactory to either."

Is this the compromise we "progressives" really want to advocate? This separate but supposedly “equal” sort of citizenship?

Yes, this is the feeble Democratic Party position, which endorses civil union, but not the “sanctity of marriage” for gays. Separate but equal. Never mind that the separate but equal era ended in the 1950s, that its principle logic was dismissed fully 50 years ago in regard to blacks (in our hallowed 1954 Brown v Board of Education). Or that even if this separate status and distinction wereacceptable,*** it’s obviously not even close to equal in the case of the legal protection afforded civilly united same sex couples compared with married ones.

Marriage and civil union are certainly not equal in terms of financial privileges. Unlike San Francisco’s now invalidated same-sex marriages, as every politician knows, state-sanctioned civil unions, those often referred to, politically convenient, pseudo-marriage, "marriage- lite” alternative partnership arrangements, can not possibly proffer equal status to same sex couples since they’re not recognized by federal law. As a result, the I.R.S. for example, offers lucrative tax breaks to straight couples that can not be enjoyed by same-sex civilly unified couples.****

In light of these facts, this middle-of-the-road Democratic party position that affirms “marriage is between a man a woman only” and that marriage is an issue for the states to decide (a “state’s rights issue”, like slavery and segregation before it) is a clearly hypocritical political compromise. This party line says it’s not ok to violate the constitution to discriminate against gays; that’s too harsh, too extreme, you know “too Republican”, but we can be privately, modestly ashamed of our homosexual friends and family members as long as we’re polite about it. And it’s ok, even RIGHT, to discriminate a little in light of our cherished Judeo-Christian religious beliefs. Because the Church says marriage is between a man and a woman, and you know that’s the “higher” authority we defer to these days in the United Theocracy of America.

In light of all this, no, I’m not at all upset that Kerry mentioned Mary Cheney’s sexuality in the third debate. Anti-gay discrimination is a reality we need to confront. And yes an issue that we need to personalize so it hits home. I'm not ashamed of that. But I am ashamed that as a Kerry supporter I’m complicit in the lie that he repeats whenever asked, that a little discrimination against gays is OK, even though I know better (and, let’s be honest, he does too).

* Gee I hope Andrew wouldn’t think I’m gratuitously outing him by referring to his sexuality in public.
**For example, I am ashamed but must (ironically) to admit to my own hypocrisy, that I fall into this category, that I know this because my family isn’t exactly jumping for joy and extending invitations to my recently declared lesbian relative.
***And just to be clear, no, it’s not.
****So as a moderate Democrat and a thinking person I’m supposed to be happy that our implicit stance towards homosexuals is: we don’t hate you, but we’re certainly not proud of you, at least not enough to go out a political limb for you, so we’ll only discriminate a little?

Kerry Didn't Gay-Bait - He used Mary Cheney to shame Bush for gay-baiting. By Timothy Noah

Kerry Didn't Gay-Bait - He used Mary Cheney to shame Bush for gay-baiting. By Timothy Noah
To score a low blow, you have to believe something is shameful and use it to your advantage. Only the Christian right really see homosexuality that way at this point. This is the shame that Kerry exposed in the debate, not Mary Cheney's sexuality. You can not out someone who is an active senior member of a political campaign, someone who has long served as a liason to the gay community for both corporate and political interests, someone who allows her name to be used as a reference for the administration's tolerance for the gay community. If involved in those activities, they have outed and inserted themselves into the debate. the only question remaining is why it was right to discuss this person's sexuality in private events, but wrong for national television? it's not what they are hiding but from whom?

Jon Stewart is Mad as Hell

(Friday 10/15/04) And he's not going to take it any more!"* Jon Stewart's exchange on Friday with CNN Crossfire Hosts Paul Begala and Tucker Carlson could fairly be described as an intellectual, moral, and political pundit smackdown. Actually, these words don't do justice to Jon Stewart's brutal but accurate critique. You must see it to believe it. Although I think the extended rant is a little odd in its one-sided relentlessness and hostility, Stewart delivers an important indictment of what passes for political communication today.

As Charles Taylor notes on slate.com, these are just a few of the highlights:
"I think you're a lot more fun on your show,' said Tucker Carlson to 'Crossfire' guest Jon Stewart this afternoon. 'And I think you're as much of a dick on your show as on any other,' Stewart shot back. It wasn't the faux avuncularity we've come to expect from Stewart on 'The Daily Show' but there, of course, he's playing a role. Here he was himself -- and he wasn't buying any of it. "

More highlights:
He told Tucker Carlson and Paul Begala that their show is "bad," that they are lowering public discourse, and that they are "partisan hacks". Stewart said that Carlson was a 35 year old man with a bowtie, and that he is a joke.

*Apologies to screenwriter Paddy Chayefsky for the blatant appropriation, but Stewart's righteous (and well-deserved) tirade echoes fictional television anchor Howard Beale's in Network. Unnlike Beale's disparate litany of societal woes, however, Stewart's is laserlike in focus. It's the pundits and spin doctors, stupid. Check out the original speech.

IFILM - Short Films: Jon Stewart's Brutal Exchange with CNN Host

IFILM - Short Films: Jon Stewart's Brutal Exchange with CNN Host
Words don't do this justice. It's a Jon Stewart Crossfire Smackdown. But he does deliver an incredibly honest and important critique of what passes for political communication today. Must see it to believe.