Social and political change, we are often told, must be incremental. Grandma Dorcas, living in Peoria, might drop dead if, say, troops came home from Iraq all at once, or everyone suddenly had health care coverage, or, corporations weren't persons, or we impeached the president and vice-president. Certainly, it would cost any person who voted for these measures any chance of elective office ever ever again.
The conventional wisdom of our media tells us that the denizens of Earth-W would never have been forced to pass Defense of Marriage laws, or drag uppity blacks on chains behind pickup trucks, or blow up federal buildings if only the Democrats had been more reasonable and measured in attempting to expand rights and protect minorities.
leaders are strongly considering dropping anti-discrimination
protections for transgender persons from the Employment
Non-Discrimination Act, or ENDA, after an internal Democratic head
count on Wednesday found that the bill would likely be defeated if it
included the trans provision, multiple sources familiar with the bill
version of the bill calls for banning employment discrimination based
on sexual orientation and gender identity, terms that are defined in
the measure to include gay men, lesbians, bisexuals and transgender
As of late
Wednesday, it appeared likely that the trans provision would be
removed, setting up a potentially divisive fight within gay activist
circles over whether or not to support an ENDA bill that excludes trans
Apparently, congressional Democrats have decided that it's okay to extend employment protection to gay men and lesbians, and even those wacky bisexuals, but once you get to transgendered persons, well that's just icky. But who defines "icky"? If we allow bigots to draw lines between what is and isn't appropriate behavior for other people, we're essentially sanctioning bigotry, or at least allowing it to determine the legal status of people whose health and happiness depends on a broader social will to grant them equal protection under the law. (FWIW, all the major Dem presidential candidates support including TGs in ENDA and hate crimes legislation.)
Removing transgendered persons from ENDA is a huge controversy in the GLBT community, as demonstrated by this poll at 365 Gay: slightly more than half of their readers support Barney Frank's move to exclude TGs. As one man put it to me, "I'm a gay man and I've waiting long enough." Okay, but TG's stood with the gay movement as ENDA was formulated, and it seems pretty cold to snub them now, when they are so close. (As Pam notes, a great many companies have already signed onto ENDA, even with the TGs included.) I guess I don't see why this is the dividing line. Charles Parnell once famously declared that no nation had a right to say to another nation "thus far and no further," and I would argue that this is also true of individuals, particularly in such a deeply personal area as gender identity.
Speaking of Ireland and Parnell, this whole sorry affair reminds me far too much of the relationship between the Catholic Church in Ireland and the Irish nationalist movement. At least since the Penal Laws of the seventeenth and eighteenth century, nationalism and Catholicism went hand-in-hand in Ireland: religion became the marker of distinct identity for the natives of Ireland, and supporting the priests and Catholic Emancipation were key nationalist goals. And they won. In 1829, most of the major Penal Laws were lifted, but the larger goals of Irish self-determination were put off. This division really bore fruit fifty years later, when the priests of Ireland chose to take a hard line against Parnell when he was named as the correspondent in a divorce case involving one of his MPs. It's hard to overestimate the bitterness of this event, as any reader of Joyce knows, but its seeds were sown much earlier: as Joyce's John Casey says, "Didn't the bishops and priests sell the aspirations of their country in 1829 in return for catholic emancipation? Didn't they denounce the fenian movement from the pulpit and in the confession box?" When they attacked Parnell, the priests of Ireland were carrying water for the British, much as those who attack Hillary Clinton from the left do today. In Ireland, they delayed independence by a good 40 years, and when it came, it was the Fenians and their descendants who brought it, not the Irish Catholic Church.
Divide and conquer is the oldest game in the book, and for those who say "protection for me but not for thee," I say "Feh."
Note to Wingnuts and cowardly Dems: ENDA is not Edna.
I've not checked in on Althouse for a while, because she really is rather dreary. But oh well, what the hell. What's our dear delightful dingbat up to?
She's a just a small town girl, living in a lonely world, going on and on and on... she is living in Brooklyn, apparently, on some sort of moron academic exchange program, and seems to spend most of her time gadding around like a total dork taking crappy unfocused pictures of the Big Buildings in the Big City. NYC sure has a lot of 'splainin to do -- back in my day, you know, Dinkins Time, she'd have been decently mugged by now.
She is also still sharing her opinions about things, unfortunately. Here she is still yammering on about the Judith Warner Thelma & Louisepiece that Molly discussed intelligently here and herself burbled nonsensically about here. Her thesis is that violence against women may be down statistically, but that is irrelevant, because Bill Clinton had a consensual affair with Monica Lewinsky in the 1990s, and therefore women in 2007 are obviously still very much oppressed.
Feminists invented the idea of "rape as hate crime" because it fit
their overall "men vs. women" worldview. There was never any evidence
to support it, and the demographics of rape correlate very strongly
with the demographics of fertility and peak sexual attractiveness. Ugly
old women virtually never get raped.
Rape is a love crime, then.
Althouse is down to the scrape-the-barrel level craziness, and who could have ever seen that coming.
I've generally been pretty serious here--depressing, even, leaving the snark to my better half--partly because I already have a blog to be stupid and goofy upon, and partly because, apparently, I'm not very good at it. Dunno. Plenty of people seemed to get the line I was shooting for, the shimmering field where the bitterly ironic becomes offensive, but others didn't, and for that I'm sorry.
As I write, the New York Times is announcing that the "Myanmar Monks’ Protest [Has Been] Contained by Junta’s Forces," as though the protests--a beautifully austere refusal of the alms upon which the monks depend--were something like an oil spill which needed to be boxed in before it could be cleaned up. The civilians carry on, in ever smaller groups, the Times tells us, partly because huge numbers of them have been shipped away, who knows where. But crowd estimates at the peak of the protests were estimated at about 100,000 in Rangoon (Yangon) alone.
As it happens, I know quite a bit about Burma and its history, something of a fluke in my educational trajectory which led me, for several years, into a deep study of Southeast Asia. And the story of Burma is heartbreaking, just heartbreaking. They suffered under the British (Orwell, anyone?) and then under the Japanese, and then, for most of their independent life, under military juntas so fierce and repressive that we don't know--no one really does, who isn't there--what happens there. I can talk about Aung San and Ma Ma Lay and the increasingly collusive Thai government (they had a military coup last year, remember) which has begun punishing the Karen and other border peoples, who used to be able to slip across the mountainous, elusive border when Ne Win's troops came looking for them, but who, increasingly, are facing a Thai government more interested in making nice with the junta than protecting innocent ethnic minorities.
So Burma, too horrifying to really face head on, becomes a joke. In About a Boy, Nick Hornby's not-quite-funny tale about the dangers of the endless extension of adolescence, The hapless Will attempts to give some meaning to his life by volunteering for Amnesty International, where he meets a superannuated hippie obsessed with Burma, and specifically, the imprisoning of a Burmese comedian. It becomes a throwaway line in a Monty Python sketch. (Granted, both these sources are British, and the humor may be an attempt to deal with a deep institutionalized guilt about their own collusion in the destruction of the Burmese people, but it's more complex than that: someday Thers or I will regale you with our theories concerning The Life of Brian and Bobby Sands.) Humor, then, becomes a defense, a way of pointing to the horror without saying "Gee, that's horrible." Because saying that is not only unnecessary, but also a reminder of just how horrible it is.
One of my regular tirades involves the representation of events in the non-Western world as interesting or influential only because of how they affect Westerners: The Killing Fields springs to mind (although the journey of the photographer through the Khmer Rouge Reeducation Camp does redeem the movie somewhat); The Year of Living Dangerously (another Asian photographer there); and HBO's appalling Tsunami: The Aftermath (Yet another photographer, the Teh Hott Thai fellow. One wonders if this is intentional: Southeast Asians aren't allowed to express themselves in words,just images, or to speak their experiences to anyone except the One Exceptional Westerner they befriend.). Indeed, my snarky invocation of Burma Shave was intended to point to the general ignorance of Westerners generally about Burmese history and issues. After all, Burmese Days was a long time ago, and even then the focus was primarily on Western attitudes. Beyond Rangoon, as I note in the post linked above, was something of an anomaly in the sense that the protagonist was female, but it still shared in this general drift. Still, it's not a bad film for what it is, and it probably taught more Americans more about Burma and Aung San Suu Kyi than they would have known otherwise.
I weep for the Buddhist monks and nuns of Burma, now imprisoned in their monasteries. I hope that they will not be cowed by the strength of the reaction to the assertion of their daunting moral authority and will continue to militate for justice. And I hope Aung San Suu Kyi, wherever she is, is still alive and well. I hope the Burmese people will be supported in their movement toward justice and democracy by the world -- and most importantly by China, one of Burma's few trading partners, but as such one of the few nations with any potential leverage over the junta (though Matthew Yglesias notes a useful skepticism on this point). I hope Burmese nationals in other nations, outside of Ne Win's influence, will keep up the pressure on their homeland. And I hope someday we will know what really happened there.
This Michael Medved Townhall piece (yes, Townhall always has the good stuff) about how slavery was no big deal has been getting mocked and derided, and even soundly tut-tutted by some of Medved's fellow mouthbreathers. Could there possibly be a consensus that slavery was Vary Bad and not really a good subject for waterheaded contrarian apologetics? Huzzah.
But who's that jackass over there in the back clearing his throat and waving his arms like he wants to pipe up? Say, isn't that Dan Riehl, just dying to verbalize the solemn thoughts of the Total Asshole lurking inside the Common Wingnut Soul?
Michael Medved has a piece that basically re-states the obvious when it comes to slavery.
Any current political discussion of American slavery has nothing to do
with what happened in America's past. It's simply fodder for a
primarily Democrat liberal agenda that keeps minorities, especially
Blacks, as captive today as some were in the early days of America. Get
over it already.
Why oh why cannot The Blacks ever see that Dan Riehl is the exact equivalent of Harriet Tubman? Why oh why do they not see that when they voted for, say, Bill Clinton, they were doing nothing different than acting like they were still on the plantations? It's just such a mystery why blacks don't vote for the GOP, gosh and golly.
ON PBBS Corprit funding fr TEH WAR by Teh Lilly Welll-Endowment and GM "R Carz Dont Sux 2 Badd U No Pleez Buy R Carz taht Dont SUk"
Epasode One: Teh WAR startz!!!!!
VoiceOva Dood: This WWWII Story is Teh Complicated so fuck taht shit we onleez gonna look at 4 townz in Teh USA! n Tom Hankz will read teh letterz from those townz becuz he likes the Teh War shit cuz his career lacks Teh Gravitas w/o Teh War.
Also nobody from Teh Big Citiez wz in Teh War only from teh townz. XCept maybe fr Sacramentos CA where there wz Japaneese & how ironic wz TAHT SHIT! Cz we fought Teh Jap doodz in Teh war. Xcept it wz teh suxxxorrz!!@1 what Roozeveldz dids to teh CA Japaneze who wz just bein cool n shit n not bombin Perl Harborz.
But mostlee it wz just small town doodz who liked teh hot dogz n baseball n shit who wz like "shitz there iz be a warr to fight!!!"
Small-Town Dood: I wz just a small-town dood n then I wz like holee shit there iz be a warr!! Yr fking shittin mee dood!!!1!!
VoiceOva Dood: TEH WAR wz not fought in teh USA! but teh USA! rocked TEH WAR anyway. Teh USA! wz not stooopit like Poland to be in Europe dumbasses didnt u see Teh Nazis comming dumbasses???!/!?//? U shuld have hid better Poland, like near Connecticut or Noo Jerzee like in Teh Meadowlands. Stooopit Poland doodz yr stooopit.
Teh World War II started when Teh Japan threw teh bomzz on Perl Harborz. Teh shit b4 taht in Europe wz Teh Preseason.
Small-Town Old Laydee: I wz not old then I wz teh hotttness n I wz like "Hitler is teh suxxx but we is not fightin teh war wt Hitler" but then I saw Perl Harborz n I say "shit we in fkin struggle fr our civilization n shit I bake a pie!!!!" N then I bilt a battleship wt my friendz.
VoiceOva Dood: B-4 teh war officially startz at teh Perl Harborz that HITLER dood wz talkin shit about teh jewz n teh homoz n Teh Poland!!
TEH HITLER DOOD: (film-clip talkin shit in Germann & shit & yelllin and actin like a TOTALL DICK. And Teh Germanz r like TAHT IZ TEH SHITTT!!!!111!)
Small-Town Soldier Dood: N then we wz fightin in Teh War n that wz a bitch. Becuz there wz all these documentary filmz crewz there. We said "doodz stop takin teh pictures n teh footage fr teh documentaries! we gotta fight teh nazi n jap doodz!" But they kept takin teh pictures teh fuckerz.
NEXT!!! TEH WAR beginz with shootin!!!@!!111 N you will be srprized at how mult0cutcheral wz Our Boyz we even let teh negrozz fight in Teh War! In Teh Sequel we iz rememberz teh Lationoz tooo!!!!111!
One of the first major pieces of imaginative literature that this nation produced was a weird little parlor drama called "The Contrast," by Royall Tyler. It's pretty, well, dull in a lot of ways, though it does contain some cheerful Dutch-bashing of the type countered by Washington Irving in "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow." (For Irving, the Dutch were an expansive, cheerful people who were right to openly mock the ascetic, superstitious Brit Ichabod Crane; for Tyler, writing some 30 years earlier, the Dutch were decadent and careless in contrast to the solid simplicity of the British-identified citizens.) Colonel Manly, the forthright square at the center of Tyler's play, is, teh Google tells me, the quintessential "stage Yankee"--plain and honest, sometimes unpleasantly so, according to the tastes of his frou-frou sister and her citified friends. (In the pic here, he's the only one *not* wearing a wig).
Colonel Manly is a veteran of the Revolutionary War, but he is living in rural poverty rather than the urban decadence of his peers. He has come to New York, he tells his sister, "to solicit the honourable Congress, that a number of my brave old soldiers may be put upon the pension-list, who were, at first, not judged to be so materially wounded as to need the public assistance. My sister says true: I call my late soldiers my family. Those who were not in the field in the late glorious contest, and those who were, have their respective merits; but, I confess, my old brother-soldiers are dearer to me than the former description. Friendships made in adversity are lasting; our countrymen may forget us, but that is no reason why we should forget one another."
The first piece of American literature, then was about veteran's benefits.
We treated veterans well, once. The 1944 Servicemen’s Readjustment Act,
or G.I. Bill of Rights provided a number of benefits to those who had
fought in the European and Pacific Theaters, including home loans,
financial assistance, and tuition. For disabled vets, services were
even greater. Over the years, these services were extended to veterans
of Korea and Vietnam, and then to all who had served in the military,
regardless of battle status.
But we don't, anymore: as the stakes went up, the benefits went down, which is why I find myself returning to "The Contrast."
It's a useful reminder that we as a nation have frequently been shitty to vets, despite the "Freedom Isn't Free" crowd, who frequently have little or no use for the very real complaints of actual veterans, dismissing complaints about the appalling state of Walter Reed Military Hospital as just so much liberal carping, for example, or stating that this is why we can't have nationalized health care.
Half a decade into the "war on terror," America's bars have become our
barometers: instruments that measure the extent to which our veterans
have been left to wrestle alone with substance abuse, anxiety disorders
and other mental health problems after long tours in Iraq and
The men and women who come back from the traumas of war "are often
hyper-alert, quick to respond and susceptible to a loss of impulse
control," says clinical psychologist Jeffrey Jay of the Center for
Post-Traumatic Stress Studies in Washington. "The brain is actually
altered by these experiences -- it's part of a survival mechanism, and
it's very confusing for them."
On a recent night at R.J. Bentley's, I perched near a young man nursing
a flask of whiskey who told me he'd been ordered to collect his best
friend's body parts from the crater of an improvised explosive device,
and an older vet with darting eyes who said he'd tried to slit his
wrists in Kuwait rather than return to Fallujah.
And if you agree that trauma begets trauma, the evening's trajectory
won't surprise you: Mix equal parts broken bodies and frayed minds,
stir in college kids who couldn't tell an IED from an iPod, add alcohol, and things are bound to get explosive.
I spent a good while this afternoon with a young man who was in Iraq two or so years ago, and who is still, for lack of a better phrase, broken. He told me stories very much like the ones cited here: terrifying, heartbreaking stories. I encouraged him to get the help he could, to keep a journal, and to try and work through his experiences because, he told me, he has no health insurance, no College Fund, and only cursory help from the VA. They drugged him to the gills, giving him as many as five psychoactive medications at once, medications he voluntarily stopped. He has attempted suicide twice, once slashing his wrists only to wake an hour later and drive himself groggily to the hospital, and once, after the VA recommended to him that he no longer live alone, having his mother call the cops on him in time for a sheriff's deputy to tackle him before he could pull the trigger of the gun pointed at his head.
If I supported this war, if I believed it was doing one damn thing to end radical Islamism (instead of feeding it red meat), if I thought for one second we had compelling national interests that were greater than those of Exxon or GM or Blackwater, such a story would make me unspeakably sad. It would be a tale of someone who was let down by a system he believed in and is struggling just to get through day-to-day life, who had done a Good Thing and was getting kicked in the teeth for it.
But I don't, as it happens, believe any of those things. And so this young man, handsome, bright, motivated, has been destroyed for nothing. A population that callously ignores the damage it inflicts on several million strangers maybe should not be expected to notice the damage it inflicts on hundreds of thousands of its own citizens, but even the most xenophobic warmonger ought to be able to acknowledge that these young men need more than a pat on the head and some Prozac. Recognizing this damage, however, interferes with the Super Happy Fun War that We Are Always Winning of the denizens of Earth-W, and so I'm not holding my breath.
As it becomes ever more clear that the GOP is going to get shipwrecked in 2008, Greater Wingnuttia is gasping for oxygen. The wingnut tide is ebbing, and certain of the larger fish in that crazy sea are wondering where the hell to swim next, because a lot of the rich, easy feeding grounds look like they're about to dry up. And so... upon whose deck are they desperately flopping?
That's the real subtext of that ridiculous David Brooks column the other day, the one that irritated Greenwald so much. Brooks is pretending that Teh Netroots are cray-zee, and all Serious and Sober People know this, and hence all good Democrats are going to vote for Hillary because she is the most war-supporting Democrat out there, and all good cornfed Americans just love the war.
Bullshit. This obviously flies in the face of all polling. My theory on why Hillary is leading in the primary polls is the one that has the advantage of simplicity: She has name recognition and a shitload of money, and she's not George W. Bush. She's the most obvious Democratic alternative to Bush. Hate a Bush? Vote for a Clinton! It's simplistic, but simple answers are often correct. Democratic voters (and, I suspect, the nation as a whole) want to reject a Bush, and one very easy way to do that is to vote for a Clinton.
The Brooksian anti-Netroots thing is motivated by a snivelling Grima Wormtongue-like desire to suck up to the perceived New Power by dissing a potential rival. (Brooks has no principles -- he's too stupid to have those. He has an instinct for survival and petty advancement and knows the rules of a ridiculous, shallow media world very well. Read more than one of his columns if you don't believe this.) Aha! he is saying. I know the flattering answer, the one Which Shows My Wisdom! My Speaker's Fee Is Justified! Huzzah!
Bizarre as it may seem, one of the key questions of the next few years may well be whether or not Hillary Clinton feels she owes more to David Brooks or The Netroots. (Only one of these has a strategy for influencing the actual nuts and bolts party machinery, so I'm actually cautious about being cynical here -- a rare first.)
Of course, the simple fact is that Americans hate this war and want it to end. And on top of that, Iraq will never magically sprout ponies, no matter how many pundits botch lyrics to popular musicals.
So, here's what we have, and I don't think I'm wrong. We have a situation where a GOP president is about to drag his party into ignominious defeat, and all the well-compensated pundits in the world are prepared to... attribute this staggering debacle toan imaginary sympathy on the part of the electorate for exactly the policies the people just totally repudiated.
The fact that this may all be done to benefit the kind of people who spent the 1990s making up bizarre shit about the woman they are about to suck up to... well, it's ironic. Just shoot me in the face, will you, sorry?
Roy explains why he keeps a cat. Sounds pretty persuasive to me.
I got married because it seemed like a cool thing to do with my best friend. Apart from that, marriage strikes me as another one of those medieval institutions that persists today because it just... persists. Anyone who has been to a multi-thousand-dollar affair in a giant vulgar Long Island Wedding Barn with a horrible DJ can grasp this point.
Why do we have marriage anymore as an institution? Damned if I know.
It's been a fantastic month for excruciating mindless bullshit. Strychnine lattes, all around!
Nobody sane really believed September would change anything in regards to the worst foreign policy disaster in American history. It's only corpses, you know. Not a matter of life and death.
But there's just something exquisitely fetid about having all of your most sour, cynical predictions confirmed. And confirmed in the most squalid fashion imaginable. Our waterhead elite geniuses are still yammering about that fucking MoveOn ad, while the nation looks on in disdain, sullen, heavy-lidded, furious.
I don't think Insider Opinion has ever been more dangerously estranged from public opinion in my lifetime.