General Stupidity

30 03 2010

Lt. General Benjamin Mixon needs to be hauled before a court-martial, stripped of his stars and tossed out on his ass. His call for soldiers and their families to resist the President’s intention of repealing “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” is clearly insubordination of the most flagrant type. In an unusually acerbic reply, Admiral Mike Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, suggested an officer holding Mixon’s views should “vote with his feet,” or in other words – get the f**k out. Here we have a microcosm of the deep, cultural divide in the U.S. today. General Mixon is a graduate of North Georgia College, Dahlonega, Georgia. He has an MA in public administration from Western Kentucky University and another from one of the army’s own schools. Admiral Mullen on the other hand, grew up in a show business related family in Sherman Oaks, California. His father was a Hollywood press agent and his mother was an assistant to Jimmy Durante. He graduated from Annapolis. Though he attended a Catholic High School (Notre Dame, Sherman Oaks) he knew gay students there and in fact, was friends with the sister of a gay friend of my own. This is not to say Admiral Mullen is an advocate of gay rights. I have no idea what his views on the subject are. His reprimand of General Mixon was based on the insubordination aspect of the affair and does not address the gay rights issue. However, he is clearly a product of a liberal culture, while General Mixon comes burdened with the deeply ingrained prejudices of the Old South. Mixon does not seem to be a stupid man, nor is he an armchair general. He has had an active and varied service career, seen action in Desert Storm and Enduring Freedom, held many command positions  and has been repeatedly decorated. His record indicates that he is what one might call a soldier’s soldier. It is self-evident that he knows Rule #1 of the officer’s manual: never criticize your superiors in public – and that goes double for comments about the Commander In Chief. Far more brilliant careers than Mixon’s have sunk on those rocks. General Douglas MacArthur comes to mind immediately. Mixon must have understood that by taking a public position opposing the policy of the President, he was making a career ending move at minimum and placing himself in danger of court marital as well. Having only said something out of line and not having done something out of line, a court-martial is unlikely. Nonetheless, Mixon’s career is over. If he isn’t actually thrown out, his next command will be something like being in charge of the radioactive testing sites in Salt Flats, Utah – or perhaps the Pentagon Special Study Group for Latrine Management.

So – why would Mixon do this to himself? Is he simply stupid? There have been plenty of really stupid generals throughout history. Even a cursory examination of both the British and French High Commands in World War I for example, will display rigidity, utter failure to learn the most obvious lessons from experience and a stupidity so deep and broad that it is truly breath-taking. World War I is far from the only example. Google the name “General Dyer” if you are interested in seeing an example of bloody-minded stupidity that almost defies belief. In U.S. history, try General Butler in the Civil War. The famous George Armstrong Custer was clearly not a military genius either, based on results.  We could go on and on. General Mixon’s record however, shows this is not the case with him. There can be only one reason: because gays trigger a revulsion in him so deep as to verge on the psychotic. There, as I noted above, we have a microcosm of the problem. This is a revulsion bred into him from infancy and constantly reinforced by the know-nothing, far right culture of fundamentalist religion, the blatant editing of educational standards in many southern schools and colleges to adhere to or at least accommodate out dated and even nonsensical religious dogma and an overall culture that clings to stereotypes and prejudice. Clearly Mixon learned nothing at Western Kentucky University that would call those views into question – nor would we expect otherwise.

Mixon’s self-destructive course of action should not be viewed as an isolated aberration by a loon. His record shows he is far from being a loon. He is evidently a highly trained and competent officer with a great deal of experience. Instead it should be taken as a grave warning of how deeply and irrationally our enemies hate us. It is a hatred that can defy education and experience of the world outside of Georgia and Kentucky. It can defy logic and science. It is visceral. When someone like General Mixon is willing to toss a brilliant career on the scrap heap just to give voice to his fear of gays, we must be alarmed and warned that we are still a very long way from the security of equality, acceptance and full citizenship. To this end, we owe Mixon a debt of gratitude for showing us the dangers of complacency as well as reminding us that we are deeply hated by people who know how to use guns.

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Answering Scott Lively

13 03 2010

Among the most dangerous and truly vicous promoters of hatred and fear of gays at work today is lawyer/author Scott Lively. Crackpots such as the Westboro Baptist crew can be dismissed as merely annoying – defeating themselves via their own hydrophobic extremism. We could in fact use a few more such nut-jobs as they effectively tar the entire anti-gay movement with the brush of their own disrepute.

Lively however, is another matter. For one thing, the man is not stupid. He’s evil, yes, but moderately intelligent. That makes him dangerous and a threat to be taken seriously. His doctorate from Trinity Law School does not put him in the intellectual league of a Harvard or Princeton graduate of course, but at least it has given him the skills to write coherently. (We should note that this is not the Trinity, the ancient and eminent college in Dublin. It’s some other place that liked the name.) And what has he done with these skills? He has made a globetrotting career out of spreading hatred and fear of gays from his California base through Eastern Europe and Africa and is a prime mover behind the anti-gay legislation pending in Uganda. To this end, he has published a number of books including “The Pink Swastika,” a book purporting to prove the Nazis were a gay movement and hence, gay liberation is inherently fascist and a loathsome volume titled “7 Ways to Recruit-Proof Your Child.” This last book is undoubtedly responsible for untold misery on the part of gay kids who have the great misfortune of being born into fundamentalist families. One might wish the fundy’s primitive ideas about Hell were true and that, for contributing to the anguish of so many kids, Lively would find himself consigned there. However, as my grandmother said, “if wishes were horses, beggars would ride.”

Lively is closely associated with the Christian Reconstructionist movement and has written for it’s primary publication, The Chalcedon Report . Christian Reconstructionism is self evidently traitorous to the United States. The movement is based on the idea of replacing the constitution with Biblical law and the establishment of a “Christian” taliban. Hence, we may presume Lively does not respect the traditions of democracy handed down to us by the Founding Fathers.

Among Lively’s internet postings is a script for arguing with gay activists. It is a clever and effective use of the tools of debate and logic. It should be paid attention by activists as a lesson in sharpening one’s skills when confronting the enemy. Far too often, gays enter into such debates (on those rare occasions when fundamentalists are willing to talk to us at all) armed only with assumptions, generalities and a fuzzy-minded, live-and-let-live philosophy, making themselves easy victims of someone armed with Lively’s coaching. Let’s look at the scrip item by item.

First. Lively wants to define terms and asks “what is homosexuality?” He presumes the responder can be trapped into a discussion of whether it is an innate or a chosen condition. This argument cannot be won. While some studies indicate a genetic predisposition as a possibility, the results are not yet conclusive. Even if they were, they would not necessarily justify a given behavior since inclination and action are two different things. One might, for example, be psychologically inclined to violence but this would not justify assault. Instead of being trapped in a quasi-scientific minefield, define homosexuality as “the pursuit of happiness.” Always have recourse to the classic and enshrined phrases of American history whenever possible.

Lively will doubtless respond “so, what if your happiness is sex with your sister or a child or a sheep? Are there no limits on this pursuit?” You could reply “provided the sheep is over 18 and specifically consents. Now let me ask you a question? What should one do if the sheep is the aggressor? Ignore its hopes and aspirations? That seems cruel. As for sex with one’s sister, there are already quite enough congenital idiots in the world who believe primitive and simplistic dogmas.”  The references to age 18 and to consent clearly reply to the issue of children and no more need be said about that.

Lively advocates returning to the definition issue again and again, therefore he will say there is no test we can administer to determine if a person is gay. We must rely on their word. One can reply that the same is true of Christians, yet their status is recognized in law and they even get tax exemptions for their churches. Why then can we not have tax exemptions for gay bars? That this reply is silly is its strength. The use of sarcasm and humor has ever been among the gay movement’s strongest weapons.

Lively passionately argues that children must be saved from exposure to the normalization of homosexuality, lest the be “recruited.” This chestnut belongs in the same trash barrel as “Reefer Madness,” but it still has many believers as is evidenced by the sale of Lively’s abhorrent “7 Ways” book. The response to that would be to quote statistics on the number of gay teens who commit suicide every year, primarily because of the intolerance of their families. Point out that the majority of teen suicides are caused by this very issue and suggest Lively would prefer dead kids to gay kids, since that is precisely what his views result in.

Lively may counter that Kids can be “saved” through counseling, treatment and “coming to Jesus.” Point out that no reputable medical or psychological association supports such treatment and Jesus evidently couldn’t care less since he never said word one about the subject.

Among Lively’s favorite techniques is to reduce everything to absolutes. He discounts “diversity” because it doesn’t include all cultures, giving slavery and cannibalism as examples of the excluded.  Respond that there are no absolutes and give the example of not being allowed to cry “fire” in a crowded theater when there is no fire as the accepted example of limits on freedom of speech. Likewise, freedom of religion does not include human sacrifice. Point out that cultural limits change and evolve constantly. A hundred years ago, children were routinely beaten with a switch or a cane for misbehavior in school. Today, the teacher who did that would go to jail. Limits change. Four or five hundred years ago, Lively would have been himself burned at the stake as a heretic. One might argue, especially in this last example, that the old ways were best but, sigh, change has happened and continues to happen.

Lively is particularly incensed by the term “homophobia,” which he claims is a snarl word we made up to give the impression that everyone who opposes homosexuality is in the same class as the killers of Matthew Shepard (his example.) He challenges his debate opponent to define the difference between homophobic and non-homophobic opponents of homosexuality. The reply to that is – he’s right. They ARE all in the same class. The preacher who condemns gays from the pulpit need never personally lift a finger to harm a gay. He contributes more than his share by helping to create the moral justification for those who actually do the heavy lifting. The person who passes crude anti-gay jokes or who objects to positive portrayals of gays does the same thing.

Lively attempts to employ the scare tactic that gays are “taking over” mainstream religious denominations, schools, the entertainment industry and politics. Uh – huh. That must be why we only have full equality in five states and the District of Columbia. That’s why DOMA is still in place. That’s why we can’t file joint federal taxes. The list does go on for quite a while.

The point of all this is that when confronting an enemy such as Scott Lively, avoid the traps, be armed with facts and statistics from reliable sources and whenever possible, turn the question aside with sarcasm intended to show the oppression and absurdity inherent in his position.





“A Kiss Is Just A Kiss”

22 02 2010

A kiss is just a kiss, except at Mercer County college that is. The uproar caused by campus security over last weeks’ LGBTF “Kiss In” (the “F” is for Friends, by the way) leaves one wondering where the officers have been ever since 1970 or so. Face it troops, this is the Family Guy era. Times have changed just a bit. Us queers do kiss – oh yes we do. We do a lot more than that but not in the dining hall so you really didn’t need to worry. Times haven’t changed to that extent. What is clear from the whole episode is that campus security needs some intensive training sessions. For one thing, getting between two lesbians who are kissing is a SERIOUS tactical error. You just do not do that if you want to survive. Gay boys are usually more tractable but lesbians are NOT going to give you an inch on this one. The only people in the gay world who you even less want to piss off are drag queens and security can be very thankful there were none of them in character and participating. Being whacked on the head with an 8 inch stiletto heel is a learning experience you want to avoid.

Moving right along, interpersonal communications in an academic environment should be a topic on the training agenda. “Shut the fuck up, asshole,” is not generally considered to be the sort of elevated discourse parents pay good money to have their young ones exposed to on campus – not at least, when used in an official capacity. However, such a phrase could be classified as instructional and perhaps it is intended as part of a new, pithy, down-to-earth style of “eduspeak”. Fashions change so quickly in education that we may be behind the curve. Perhaps the college is inaugurating a whole new way of communicating. Gone, maybe, are the days of the semi-pompous, convoluted phrasing of the here-to-fore standard official memo. Instead of announcements reading something like “faculty are reminded of the importance of delivering grades by such and such a date in order to ensure timely transmission of data to appropriate repositories…” we may expect something more like “listen fools, get your shit in on time or hit the bricks.” It might work!

Next we need to more carefully delineate the parameters of power. “I can do whatever I want,” is a statement that does not seem to reflect the fullest possible understanding of the proper role of a security guard. Even Her Majesty The Queen can not do “whatever” she wants. She can do a lot, true – a whole lot more than a campus guard. She could, in theory, shoot someone dead on the street and not be held to account (dream on, campus guards!) but there are things even she can not do. Now, we climb way, way, way down the social ladder – so far down (compared to The Queen)  we need a snorkel – and we get to campus guards. The list of things a campus guard can not do is encyclopedic. The list of things they should not do is even longer. High on that list is get excited about two kids kissing – or fifty kids kissing for that matter. Kids fighting, being abusive, destroying property, selling hard drugs … now those would be activities to take an interest in…. but kissing…??? One would have thought security would be grateful that such was the program of the day, as opposed to all those other evil things kids are routinely suspected of.

Of course, to be fair, one must look at security’s side of the question. Kissing clearly can lead straight on to other things. Let’s see – friendship for one – perhaps even love – and those of us with experience of life know all too well how totally disruptive love can be. One loses sleep, daydreams, moons about, tires one’s friends with endless agonizing over the intentions of the beloved. Oh yes – love is certainly a problem . No doubt from the vantage point of the old, security was merely attempting to  save the students from such a dreadful fate. Perhaps they should be thanked instead of chastised.

Finally we must consider security’s stated concern for the welfare of the on-lookers who were exposed to kissing while trying to eat lunch. Let’s see if we can make a connection here between bad lunch and good kissing. Hmmm… No, sorry, nothing comes to mind. In fact, if kissing had a negative effect on digestion, every dinner theater in the country would be out of business. It seems the reverse is the case. Check the listings – dinner theaters NEVER produce Hamlet. They always do romantic comedies – but always. There you have it – the experts, the people whose bread-and-butter rests on informed evaluation of this burning question come down squarely on the side of exposure to kissing during meals. Case closed.





What Year Is It At Newark PD?

19 02 2010

Evidently, the Newark Police Department works on a different calendar from the rest of New Jersey. Judging by the actions of Newark officers in the case of Diana Taylor, it appears they are stuck somewhere around the year 1950 – give or take. On reading the charges leveled against Newark PD in this matter by the ACLU, one is left to wonder WTF? Who is charge here? Is Cory Booker running the city or do we have the ghost of Boss Hague in charge? Perhaps the spirit of the late Mayor Rizzo found its way upriver from Philadelphia and Cory is somehow channeling it? Something weird has got to be going on because random cop harassment of LGBT persons – just pulling over the squad car for no reason except to screw around with a citizen for the cop-entertainment value of it is a practice we thought had vanished along with Leave It To Beaver. Guess we have a thing or two to learn yet about Newark. But then, we did learn a long time ago that anyone who thinks they have really figured out what is going on in Newark is usually wrong so we shouldn’t be surprised. The cop behavior alledged by the ACLU in their lawsuit is outrageous, absolutely unprofessional, highly bigoted and possible indicative of mental disorder.  It certainly points out a crying need for greatly improved discipline and training in a police force that apparently does not take seriously the rights of law-abiding citizens. The question is, what are Cory Booker and the other city leaders going to do about it? Is this yet another Newark issue that will be swept under the already very lumpy civic carpet? Let’s put Booker and the Newark PD on notice – you can’t whitewash this one. The LGBT community is NOT going to be your f***ing play-toy, to be randomly abused for the amusement of a few troglodyte cops. We have blood on the ground in Newark. We have the dead bodies of Sakia Gunn and of four students to remember. We have many others who didn’t die but who have suffered abuse at the hands of moronic bigots, including Newark cops, to remember and we are not going to take this crap. We don’t have to. It is not 1950 anymore. There are laws protecting us. We are organized. We vote. We have our own media. WE ARE WATCHING YOU, NEWARK P.D. and we will see this through to the end. We will work to see some changes made and we will do our best to see some rotten apples in the police department hit the unemployment lines. It seems clear that Newark PD needs a wake-up call and few examples provided of what happens to public servants who think they can act like the Gestapo.

According to Ms. Taylor’s statements, the Lieutenant at the police station she was taken to said the cops “didn’t mean her any harm.” Really? That is so reassuring. So – grabbing someone off the street for no reason, handcuffing them, taking them to the police station and turning the data base inside out to see if there was any possibility of finding something – anything- to charge that person with, all the while insulting and mocking the victim, is not “meaning any harm?” Wow! I guess the officer meant Ms. Taylor should be grateful she wasn’t taken into a back room and raped with a nightstick. Then we have her testimony that, during the mandatory ride home (two blocks away) the officers threatened to have local gang members take care of her if she dared to file a complaint. Now, if true that does leave us confused. We thought the cops and the gangs were enemies – silly us. We had no idea the street gangs were available to do the cop’s heavy lifting. That does paint a rather bleak picture of law enforcement in Newark. If the cops and the gangs are allies, we’re done in that town.

Mayor Booker, this is your mess – clean it up. Don’t throw up your hands and say there is nothing you can do about “the blue wall.” There is. Remember, if it comes to it, what Calvin Coolidge did about the Boston PD when he was governor of Massachusetts. The Boston PD was out of control and considered itself to be a law unto itself. It went on strike. Governor Coolidge said “no one has the right to strike against the public safety.” He fired the ENTIRE police department, and called out the national guard to patrol the streets while a completely new department was hired, trained and put in place. That solved the problem. The lesson is the elected public officials are in control and responsible, holding the ultimate trump card. Mayor Booker – take charge. Do your job. Protect the citizens from the outrageous abuse of police authority this case represents and dig out the facts about how much more of this sort thing has taken place. We are watching. We are publicizing and we vote.





Religious Bullshit In Newark

25 01 2010

We are deeply imbued in our culture, with the idea that everyone’s religious beliefs, short of human sacrifice, must be accorded a full and equal measure of respect. From a governmental point of view, that may be true. We must never allow the government to favor a particular religion or attempt to define religious truth. However, that does not mean we as individuals can not frankly and clearly point out dangerous lunacy when we see it. We may not agree with this or that Christian denomination for example, but civilized discourse requires us to respect the fact that Christianity in one form or another is embraced by millions of good people, is a tradition over two thousand years old and is a core element of Western civilization. On the other hand, Scientology is utter nonsense, invented by a second-rate science fiction writer and propounding ideas quite literally on the level of wearing tinfoil hats to avoid “alien” transmissions. Further, it enforces a discipline and a rapacious extortion upon its followers that would have impressed the Gestapo. The fact that a nit-wit such as John Travolta believes in it should be sufficient evidence of its worthlessness. Mormonism and the Jehovah’s Witnesses, though more widespread, are likewise home-grown cults propounding notions ranging from the merely silly to the truly bizarre. By and large, these concatations of lunacy only damage the moon calfs who are ignorant or desperate enough to embrace them. They merit criticism. One can even argue that intelligent people have a moral duty to mock such nonsense in order to open the eyes of those who might stray into the traps of these cults. Still, ultimately, if witless fools want to believe such cults in order to invest their pathetic lives with some shreds of imagined meaning, so be it. It’s a free country (sort of.) While we certainly must respect the right of people to believe whatever they want to, it does not follow that the beliefs themselves must be respected.

When these cults reach out to attack us, the rules change dramatically. We have already seen how the Mormons became the biggest single factor in the Prop 8 fight in california. Shamelessly betraying their tax exempt status, the Mormon Church dumped a fortune and countless man hours into engineering our defeat. When we fought back. demonstrating outside their temples and taking them to court, they whined piteously about freedom of religion. Bullshit. No free pass. Throw rocks at us and we will throw them back regardless of whether your windows are clear glass or stained glass.

Now, in Newark a far uglier form of religious antipathy to gays has arisen and is organizing in the streets. Under the benign name “Pray For Newark,” some fundamentalist nut-jobs are rallying the theologically simple-minded to “pray the demons out of Newark” street by street. Without bothering to explore the mentality of people who expound ideas that have been discredited since the Middle Ages – simplistic notions that troubles including sickness, urban decay, drug addiction and AIDS are caused by the machinations of demons, we might just shrug and say “whatever.”  That would be a mistake, leaving us unaware of the fact that there is a far darker side to this particular manifestation of mass hysteria.

Pray For Newark was founded by Lloyd Turner. Turner lives in the Newark area but his movement is far from a merely local tent meeting. In October, 2008, Turner was in Argentina to speak at a conferance of the International Transformation Network (ITN). That seems to place Turner in league with ITN CEO Ed Silvoso, whose 2007 book Transformation states that homosexuality is caused by demon possession and that HIV/AIDS can be cured by faith healing and prayer. Turner is joined in the Newark effort by Rev. Bernard Wilks, head of Dominion Fellowship Ministries. Wilks’ newsletters have stressed the need for business, government and education to be taken over by born-again Christians. Even more ominous, Wilks has repeatedly called for “enemy classification.” Obviously, we demon-possessed gays would be high on that list…and then what?

Wilks and Turner are active leaders in the ITN movement which has been playing a leading role in Uganda’s present effort to pass legislation that would condemn gays to  life in prison or death by hanging. ITN has promoted this as “a shining example of Transformation.” The “transformation” of Uganda into a puritanical, fundamentalist theocracy clothed in the deceptive shreds of democratic institutions is ITN’s greatest triumph to date and is viewed by ITN as a laboratory experiment to be replicated everywhere they can get a foothold. Newark’s educational and economic depression combined with its propensity for mixing hand clapping, store front religion  in the practice of which, noise is more important than thought (usually run as profitable businesses by the so-called “pastors”) with politics makes it a fertile field indeed for ITN’s invasion of the U.S.

Most disturbing of all is ITN’s policy of working closely with – “transforming”- local police departments at the outset of their campaigns. While the over-all educational level of the police has improved greatly during the last couple of decades, let’s face it – most cops are neither scholars nor theologians. Few are equiped to dissect the spurious, repressive, anti-democratic agenda ITN and it’s front organizations such as Pray for Newark are promulgating. Though clothed in such seemingly laudable goals as driving out crime and drugs, let us be under no illusions as to the targets of these preachers; we are. The results of their vicious propaganda will inevitably be more gay kids bashed and beaten – perhaps even killed as has happened too many times already in Newark. The brave spirit of Sakia Gunn looks on this rising evil and weeps. Wilks and Turner need to be confronted, exposed and stopped.

Monitor the Out In Jersey website. An investigative report on the Newark situation is now underway and will be posted upon completion. Give us a week or so and we’ll tell you a lot more.





The End Of Jefferson’s Dream

22 01 2010

The Jan. 21 Supreme Court decision to essentially gut the McCain-Feingold act and open the door to unlimited spending by corporations in political campaigns represents an untrammeled purity of constitutional interpretation that is utterly divorced from practical reality and, if allowed to stand, effectively ends the last shreds of Jeffersonian democracy. Now, corporations can dump any amount of funding into the campaigns of bought-and-paid-for candidates. further, as noted in the dissent, foreign corporations, even ones directly owned by foreign governments, can do likewise – clearly raising the rather scary prospect of “Manchurian Candidates.” There are only two ways around this development: a court reversal of itself or a constitutional amendment. Considering the fact that even a popular amendment is a long and difficult process and in this case, every corporate principality in the newly feudal U.S, Republic, from Citibank and J.P. Morgan through Verizon and the health industry giants – not to mention the credit card SOBs, would stand ready to dump unlimited funds into fighting it, the possibility of an amendment is not a very bright one.

In the wake of a depression brought on by corporate mismanagement, thievery and chicanery on a scale so vast it is difficult to comprehend, the advent of this decision leaves the intelligent citizen in open-mouthed astonishment. It is precisely as if the court has said “in view of the fact that unregulated corporate greed has not in fact managed to as yet bankrupt and enslave EVERY single citizen and absolutely corrupt our political process, we need to give them more tools to get the job done.” The court has done this in the name of  perfect freedom of speech – and yet it has long been well established that such freedom does not  and should not exist. We are all familiar with the classic dictum that freedom of speech does not allow someone to cry “fire” in a crowded theater when there is no fire. The logic of this latest court decision throws doubt on that principle.

The parameters of freedom of speech have shifted greatly in the course of our history, generally in the direction of greater freedom. The history of pornography legislation demonstrates this. In living memory, any positive reference to homosexuality was deemed pornographic and could not be sent through the mail. The landmark Supreme Court decision in the freedom of speech/press case brought against the Post Office by the groundbreaking One magazine, the first gay publication in the U.S. (Roth Vs. U.S. 1958) entirely changed the rules and was one of the most important victories in the long struggle for LGBT liberation. A broad view of freedom of speech has been key in our struggle. Even more basic to our liberation however, has been the lingering Jeffersonian ideal of the rights of the individual citizen to be heard, to pursue his or her life in freedom according to each person’s idea of the sumum bonam. We have compromised this ideal over and over again in the interests of  communal society – knowing that the individual’s happiness can not be based on the infringement of the rights of others. None the less, it remains a bedrock value in liberation philosophy. While this court decision ostensibly reinforces the principle of individual liberty, it is in practical application a ravening wolf in sheep’s clothing.

In Jefferson’s day, the playing field was virtually level. Yes, there was economic inequality, as there always is in human society. The gulf between the planter aristocracy of Virginia, the East India merchants of Boston and New York, and the yeoman farmer of the frontier was certainly large. Compared to our present day gulf between the economic power of the private citizen, even organized by Facebook and Twitter, and the resources of, say, Goldman-Sachs or Microsoft, those historic differences of Jefferson’s day are so insignificant as to be non-existent.

Even with previous regulation, the fact that the health care industry bought the congressional debate on Obama’s reform initiative is a matter of public record. Anyone who cares to can access the dismal public record of massive campaign contributions to key legislators.  In fact, perhaps the saddest part is to note how cheaply some legislators were purchased. Under the new court decision, even those modest safeguards as we have had for the past few years are out the window. Is there now the slightest obstacle to, say, Aramco donating millions to the campaign of a candidate committed to keeping the medieval, Wahabist royal house of Arabia in power – the same royal house that has funded fundamentalist extremism throughout the Muslim world? No, there is no obstacle. Is there anything to prevent Mastercard from supporting candidates pledged to remove barriers to skyrocketing interest rates on credit cards? None whatever. Could chemical companies fund the campaigns of tame candidates committed to the use of the U.S. military to colonize  and exploit the resources of the Congo? That exact sort of thing has happened before in our history and would be ever so much easier to pull off now.

“But,” you say, “regardless of the amount of money pumped into a campaign, wouldn’t the citizen voter see he or she was being bamboozeled into supporting candidates who do not have their best interests at heart?” Oh child – if you think that, I fear for you indeed. The incremental destruction of the U.S. system of public education undertaken by an unholy alliance of the political right-wing and Christian fundamentalists has already created a nation in which the level of literacy has declined significantly. The average voter’s level of political and intellectual sophistication has consequently plummeted to a point where we see such utter junk as creationism taken seriously by a broad spectrum and one fears we may soon revive such notions as a flat earth and a geocentric universe. In the words of the Beadle in David Copperfield, “”I shall retire to Bedlam.”

Welcome then to the new America of corporate feudalism. It is feudalism of a far more refined construction than that of the Middle Ages. It is a feudalism is which we are constantly told that this is the best of all worlds and our unseen masters are doing everything for our welfare. Unlike the feudalism of history, we peasants can not even see the castle or the Big House, up there on the nearest hill and serving as a target for our rage. We can not gather in a pitchfork armed mob and storm the battlements. We do not know where they are. In the case of some corporate giants such as Facebook, we can not even contact a human being or find out where the head office is. This new nobility has evidently learned a thing or two from the revolutions of the past and are well aware they can not be dragged from their eminence and hauled to the guillotine if we can not physically find them. And yet it is their interests that now govern our daily lives. Thomas Jefferson weeps.





Goodby and Good Riddance

19 01 2010

Governor Corzine leaves office today, not having delivered on any of his lavish promises to the NJ LGBT community. He went out of his way to court our votes and he got them. The NJ LGBT community is known as one of the most solid voting blocks in the state – a block that consistently votes for politicians that support our issues – and where is the payback? We were virtually guaranteed marriage equality and clearly, the Governor was either unwilling or unable to exercise the necessary political clout to influence the legislature. That leaves us to conclude the man is either incompetent or that he deceived us for temporary political advantage. Add this to the long list of  Corzine’s failures which include his inability to do anything about our state’s property tax crisis – an issue affecting gays just as much as straights.

I am informed that, privately, Corzine has shed tears of regret at “not being a better governor.” Well, he has quite a bit to cry about. Unfortunately, even in his final days in office, that regret did not translate into any practical effort to do even a little service for the LGBT community – his strongest and most reliable supporters. During his final days, a small but telling drama played itself out behind the scenes as an application for executive clemency was considered that was actively supported by significant elements of the NJ LGBT community. The details of this case will remain confidential. Suffice it to say that it was entirely non-violent, non-drug related, had been reviewed by professionals who rendered strong supporting opinions in writing and was of great personal importance to its LGBT supporters – respected members of both the LGBT community – all people with professional letters after their names – letters such as PhD and MSW and others –  as well as substantial friends of our community. To the best of our knowledge, it was the only gay related case submitted for clemency consideration. Even this little bone was not thrown to us. Corzine granted 14 applications from drug dealers, a disgraced Democrat politician (of course) and others but not ours. For reasons that remain a mystery, drug dealers had a higher priority than gays. So much for the gratitude of politicians! Behind that avuncular, grandfatherly image with the beard and the quaint sweater-vests, Corzine has shown himself to be be just one more mealy-mouthed, short range opportunist – a  promissory note that can’t be cashed. He is a man who, even on his last days in office, did not have the courage to do what was clearly and obviously the right thing. At least with the Republicans, we knew exactly where we stood. “How sharper than a serpent’s tooth” is the betrayal of someone who had been considered a friend. Goodby, Governor Corzine, and don’t let the door hit your ass on the way out.