Sunday, April 30, 2006

Ban One for the Gipper

Danforth: Ban on Gay Marriage a Silly Idea

Unless you're a political wonk, you've probably seen John Danforth--a former Republican Senator from Missouri--once, when he was the minister at Ronald Reagan's funeral in 2004. So I'll fill you in: he's widely considered one of the voices of reason within his party. And this is what he had to say the other night:
Referring to the marriage amendment, he added that perhaps at some point in history there was a constitutional amendment proposed that was "sillier than this one, but I don't know of one."
This makes me look forward to his upcoming book, Faith and Politics: How the 'Moral Values' Debate Divides America and How to Move Forward Together. Maybe he has something to say that will resonate with his party?

Friday, April 28, 2006

Holy Fucking Shit

Bush Says Anthem Should Be in English

This is a HUGE day. Why? Because I agree with George W. Bush, 100%, no reservations, about more than one thing. In addition to the increase in fuel efficency standards he called for (below), he said this afternoon that the national anthem should be in English, not Spanish, responding to the release of a Spanish-language version. I can't believe it, but I want to quote him in full:
"One of the things that's very important is, when we debate this issue, that we not lose our national soul," the president exclaimed. "One of the great things about America is that we've been able to take people from all walks of life bound as one nation under God. And that's the challenge ahead of us....I think the national anthem ought to be sung in English, and I think people who want to be a citizen of this country ought to learn English and they ought to learn to sing the national anthem in English."
I feel like a racist sometimes when I think such thoughts, but is English such a huge demand to make? It's the common language of the nation; whether you speak something else at home, everyone should be able to use it in public. (And should actually use it, rather than another language, when in earshot of others, but that's another argument.)

I also think that supporters of immigration reform that would benefit illegal immigrants are shooting themselves in the foot by releasing the anthem in Spanish. Fair-minded people may want to see immigrants treated better than they are right now, but that doesn't mean that they, or I, want to see radical changes to the nation as a result. The symbolism of singing the anthem in another language is the kind of thing that's likely to rile up anti-immigrant sentiment in even those with the most charitable view toward people who are, after all, in the country illegally.

Am I wrong to agree with Bush on this? Or is the idea of a Spanish-language version of the national anthem a bridge too far?


Say It With Me: Supply and Demand

Charles Krauthammer makes the point bluntly, but he's probably right about the reasons behind the recent escalation of gas prices.The high price at the pump is not a matter of profiteering, but of supply and demand.

What I find remarkable is that, in the face of prices that have tripled in only six years (because, remember, you could buy gasoline for less than a dollar as recently as 2000), people have responded by buying bigger cars and enduring longer commutes in them. Is there no level of expenditure that will wean Americans from their desire for a big yard in an exurb and a vehicle that can hold the family, its friends, and all of its possessions? Or, to put it in economic terms, is there no price at which demand will abate?

Today even Bush is saying he wants to improve fuel economy, which should tell you how scared politicians are of the very definite correlation between high gas prices and low approval ratings. Exxon and Chevron should look out; when a few more cities see the price for regular unleaded top $3.00, an excess profits tax is going to get very popular very fast! (Michael Kinsley makes the case that this would be a good thing.)

But there are simpler ways to make a dent in our oil problem. More telecommuting would help. So would encouraging people to plan their car trips better, something you'd think would happen anyway with prices this high. For instance, I won't leave the house in my car to go on one errand. By the time I'm willing to go, in fact, my trip is planned like a war (and not the one in Iraq). We engage our lunch here, pick up our laundry detergent and toothpaste there, stop for a new pair of jeans there, and return home, having saved countless miles, hours--and gallons. When will it become fashionable to brag about this? Because that's what America will need to get serious about saving ourselves from oil dependence--something to brag about. It's what motivates us: the constant quest to top one another in small, almost meaningless ways.

So let's start here. What do you do to reduce your gas consumption?

Thursday, April 27, 2006


U.S. Senator Sam Brownback -- Marriage

I have news for you, Senator Brownback, you who feel so strongly that marriage is between a man and a woman: The right hand you shook three times yesterday with the titanium ring on it was the right hand of a gay man. The ring you were absent-mindedly staring at during your meeting with two of your constituents was a ring symbolizing a commitment between two men. And one day, I will wear it on my left hand, just like other legally-married people, whether you like it or not.

By the way, your hair is bizarrely perfect, but your Web site has issues: Why are the two hands in the picture symbolizing traditional marriage also right, rather than left, hands? Couldn't you find a stock photo of the proper hands?

P.S.: Tell Rick Santorum he looked like a dog-fucker packed into a tiny Senate elevator with all those men!

P.P.S.: Can the rest of you tell I had a great time in D.C.? I also--literally--bumped into Hillary Clinton, who bellowed the words "I have to go vote" into my ear as she tried to escape the constant clutch of questions that follows her, caught a glimpse of Joe Lieberman waiting for the underground train from his office to the Capitol, and met with Dick Durbin in his Minority Whip office just off the Senate floor. Oh, and met Wyoming Senator Craig Thomas, who I nearly asked whether he had seen Brokeback Mountain. I wonder what he would have said?

Monday, April 24, 2006


Bush's approval rating hits new low

I know, I know--it seems like the headline above appears atop a new article every day. But this time, it doesn't refer to a new low in a particular poll, but a new overall low--32%. Is there no floor? Do I hear 30? 28?

Off to D.C. again for two days; I'll do my best to lop another point or two off the all-time low while I'm away!

At Last

Political Affairs: Josh & Donna Scenes: Transition (Episode 719)

The end of a show is always one part sweet, two parts bitter. It's exciting to see storylines wrap up that have been floating around for years, but sad to know that characters you've come to know and love will be leaving your weekly rotation forever.

The West Wing may have reversed the formula last night, though. If the show had to end for me to get the scene where Donna sits down next to Josh on the plane, so be it. Here's the dialogue:

JOSH: (whispers) Hey.
DONNA: (in a husky voice) May I just say, a truly excellent notion?
JOSH: Sam's.
DONNA: (laughs softly) Of course.
JOSH: The vacation. The going with you part was all me. (smiles)
(she leans over and kisses him as the camera fades out)

As Melfi might say to Tony, Josh has needed, for years, to own his feelings for Donna. Last night, he finally did.

How cute will it be when they're the chiefs of staff for the President and First Lady?

Saturday, April 22, 2006

We Warned You

The Volokh Conspiracy - "Abstinence" becomes "biblical sex only"

Dan Savage has been warning you for a while now in his Savage Love column that, while their anti-gay positions are the ones they advertise, the scaremongers on the far right are really out to repress the entirety of the sexual revolution and, if not criminalize, then marginalize all sexual activity outside a one-man, one-woman marriage. Recently this has meant redefining "abstinence" education to mean "avoidance of sex at any age whatsoever except within the framework of conventional heterosexual marriage." This means that all of you who didn't wait before you got married (and, knowing the readership of the blog pretty well, I think that means just about all of you) have gone (quite understandably, I might add) against what they want to teach in schools.

Now, I understand that sometimes we teach ideals in schools that we know people won't quite live up to. But whose ideals are these? And wouldn't it be more valuable, in a society that has developed as ours has, simply to tell youngsters that high-school age isn't the time for sex? Instead, as Walter Olson puts it in the linked post, "Loads of tax dollars will now be spent in American classrooms to enforce the message that gays and unmarried heterosexuals, no matter how ripe in age, should never have sex at all, no matter how monogamous."

I hope this subtle shift in tone makes big news, because it reveals the far right to which Bush is beholden for what it is--and what it is, and what it aspires for the United States to be, certainly is not what most Americans want for the country.

Friday, April 21, 2006

Gaper's Block

What Big Love teaches about marriage and jealousy. By William Saletan

This is a great article on the new HBO show, Big Love, for those of you for whom my earlier reference to it was a mystery. Saletan proves, by writing at such length about the show, that it has a lot to say and offers quite a bit of food for thought. He focuses on the negative aspects of plural marriage that the show reveals, but I think you can read between the lines and guess that, whatever he thinks of polygamy, he likes the show!


Bush Counsel May Be Next in Shake-Up

With the Bush Administration mired in a hell of its own making, they keep searching for scapegoats who had little to do with how things have turned out. Now new Chief of Staff Josh Bolten is hinting that Harriet Miers--remember her?--should pack up her desk.

This strikes me as the height of cruelty. Wasn't it bad enough to trot Miers out as a Supreme Court nominee and let her twist in the wind? Let the poor woman sit in her White House office until the term ends and she can become Bush's second third wife on the ranch, a la Big Love. (Condi Rice, it occurs to me, would probably bitch-slap Harriet to get the second spot despite Harriet having a longer history with W. Look out, Laura!)

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Right by Far

FOX Poll: Gloomy Economic Views; Bush Approval at New Low

Well, now we have confirmation: Bush is at 33% in the Fox News poll. (He hit 33 in the Pew poll last month.) I was fully prepared back in October, when I said his numbers would hit this point, to eat crow. Now I'm waiting for numbers in the 20s!

Monday, April 17, 2006

Bake a Pie

‘Sopranos’: Vito goes on the lam
'Housewives': A truce for Bree and Andrew?

If you saw either of the two Sunday-night spectaculars linked above, you're probably expecting me to have a reaction. But I don't quite know what to make of the oh-so-gay developments on either show.

When Vito went to a motel last week, I thought that was the end of him. So seeing him trek to New Hampshire and mull his life while watching waterfalls, eating johnny cakes, and observing a happy gay couple was quite confusing. Meanwhile, the whole episode revolved around reactions to Vito's suddenly-revealed secret, with responses that ran the gamut from Paulie's predicable desire to kill Vito to Tony's ambivalence, wondering how he could keep Vito's top-earning ways without disrupting the rest of the crew. His ominous statement to Carlo--"You know he's not the first"--makes me wonder if we're in for another revelation before the end. And the fact that a future episode is entitled "Johnny Cakes" makes me think we haven't seen the last of Vito's New Hampshire retreat. Could an antique store be in his future?

Meanwhile, Bree and Andrew's trust-fund fight crescendoed last night before Bree brought things crashing back down to earth. In an episode filled with laugh lines, hers was the best; when Justin cried to her that he was upset by Andrew's plan to move to Rhode Island with his grandparents because he loved Andrew, her response was "Why?" But she took advantage of Justin's feelings for her son, creating a box of stomach-turning, even for me, gay porn that gave Andrew's grandparents second thoughts about taking him home. But what does this mean? At the end of the episode we see Bree bringing a freshly-baked pie to Andrew and Justin, who are smiling and playing cards at the kitchen table (in what seemed like a winking nod to Hannah and Bright's domestic torpor on Everwood). Has she accepted Andrew for who he is? And have we achieved detente? As my viewing partner remarked, it won't be any fun if they stop fighting!

So I have mixed feelings about last night. On the one hand, it seemed like several major characters, particularly Bree and Tony Soprano, came to grips with their feelings about homosexuality and moved toward acceptance, and that can't be a bad thing when some major characters on the political stage can't even let our kids chase Easter eggs unless the TV cameras have cleared the scene. On the other hand, there's no way to know how these plotlines will resolve, and quite a few characters on both shows expressed outright disgust. For now, at least, their voices appear to be the weaker ones.

Friday, April 14, 2006

Mother-F@#$ing C@#$suckers

Networks, stations challenge FCC in court
They contend ‘indecent’ language rules are applied capriciously, vaguely

Isn't it about the time the FCC grows up? This is a direct quote from the FCC: "Our precedent at the time of the broadcast did not clearly indicate that the commission would take enforcement action against an isolated use of the 'S-word.'"

The "S-word," they say? Have we learned nothing from Harry Potter? The others all call the Dark Lord "You Know Who;" only Harry calls him Voldemort, because he understands that to name a thing plainly gives you power over it. So it is with those who fear swearing and other direct language; they teach their children that certain words and ideas have a power far beyond their real value, such that words like shit and fuck can shock them, while words like penis and vagina can bamboozle them.

How can that be desirable? I understand that parents wish to keep their children innocent, but there are limits to how innocent one can (or should) be. If your kid hears someone call someone else a shithead, though--and that is, in fact, one of the complaints involved in this suit--do you think that gasping and waging a letter-writing campaign over it will be half as effective as calmly saying, "He's not a nice man--nice people don't talk about other people that way" and treating it as a teachable moment rather than a crisis?

I hope the networks win. Rules that single out a few words as too bad to be heard by sensitive ears only give both those words and the people who fear them more power than they deserve.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

"I Kiss Boys"

Scalia visit sparks protests by gays at U. of Connecticut

The idea to set up a same-sex kissing booth in protest of Antonin Scalia's appearance on the campus of the University of Connecticut strikes me as inspired. (Though the prospect of a third-year law student wearing an "I Kiss Boys" t-shirt does raise my fear of people making the jump from gay to pedophile, as fear-mongers so often do.)

What I found most interesting about Scalia's appearance, though, is the phrasing he chose in defending his cramped view of the Constitution:
"You can't take the position that these words are expandable in one direction and not expandable in the other," he said. "They obviously meant to set some standards to control future generations."
Contrast this with Anthony Kennedy's words in the Lawrence v. Texas decision:
"As the Constitution endures, persons in every generation can invoke its principles in their own search for greater freedom."
Kennedy's words allow the Constitution to be viewed as containing a right to privacy, as forbidding segregation and racial discrimination, and as a document that can breathe the air of the present rather than the musty fumes of a time long since past. Scalia's mean he should be wearing a powdered wig on the bench. Which, come to that, might be an improvement. But they also mean that he believes that the dead should exert power over the living. Certainly, we respect the wisdom of those who have come before--witness the texts we read in schools--but do we really wish to be ruled by those who have not seen what we have seen? Surely there are those antediluvians who would wish that nothing would ever change--we call them Republican primary voters--but this cannot be the view of the majority, can it? Can it?

While Americans may pay little heed to what the Supreme Court does on a day-to-day basis, I believe that in the main they are comfortable with the idea that nine people, appointed for life, are observing the direction of the nation and helping to guide its progress. It may be anti-democratic at times, but sometimes democracy allows for tyranny that only a body like the Court can fix.

As the nation ages, this will become more, not less, important. Elderly holdouts on issues like gay marriage could be voting for another thirty years or more thanks to medical advances, and while I do not wish them ill health, I do wish that we could move forward as a society long before they and their voting patterns are in the grave. The proposed marriage amendment is an instance of Scalia-style thinking--let's lock in our beliefs now so that when we're gone, those we leave behind are ruled by them. As long as that amendment fails, though, I hope the Court will one day, in the not-too-distant future, look around and see that the time has come for this step on the road of progress and freedom.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006


The Closet McCain
Psst … he's not really a conservative. By Jacob Weisberg

Anyone who watches the Sunday morning talkfests, and probably anyone with half an ear tilted toward the political world, knows that John McCain is going to run for president again in 2008. If the polls are to be believed, the job is his for the asking--if he can just win the damned Republican primary.

Based on this, Jacob Weisberg's thesis today should be obvious, but for some reason we liberals can't read between the lines. McCain's recent pandering to the right has been uncomfortable for him--and some of those to whom he panders know it. But as the kabuki goes on, and McCain continues to show himself willing to put on an act, those on the right are likely to find a way to stomach him as their best chance to win.

Haven't we learned anything from The West Wing? The only way Republicans will have a chance to win in 2008 is to run from the center--and, while McCain is gesturing to the right at the moment, when only freaks like me and them are paying attention, he's one of their two great centrist hopes. (Giuliani is the other, but right now McCain gets all the attention.) This was the exact scenario that played out on WW--Democrat Matt Santos barely won over the moderate Arnold Vinick, while he probably could have trounced the bulldog they have playing the now-ousted Speaker of the House.

Leaving aside the issue of who our Santos should be, isn't it clear we should do everything possible to avoid them nominating their Vinick? Look, I like McCain, but he's not the guy I want as my backup choice in 2008. For one thing, despite his campaigning for Bush in 2004, he doesn't deserve to have to answer for all of Bush's misdeeds, nor does Bush deserve such an eloquent defender. But more importantly, 2008 may be a chance to show the country a real choice and face an electorate in the mood for our brand of government rather than theirs. We have two years to decide what that means--in the meantime, though, we should spread the word about McCain. He's posturing! He's not a real conservative! He's one of us!

Republicans have governed as extremists for the last five years. Their standard-bearer should be one of them, not a nice guy who keeps the label out of loyalty.

Raw and Wriggling

No sushi for me, thanks. It's a matter of principle. By Eric Zorn

Well, I have to agree with Eric Zorn. My reaction to this morning's front page story in the Chicago Tribune, which noted that most of the sushi sold in the United States is supplied by a company that is affiliated with Reverend Moon's Unification Church, one of the scarier phenomena in America, was one of elation. Zorn nails why this is such great news:
Now I don't have to feel like the bland, unadventurous eater I am when I decline sushi--which I've never liked. I can feel like a socially-conscious diner--one who brings his sensibilities to the table along with his appetite.
I've come up with many reasons to avoid sushi, but I was getting close to caving in. But now? Sushi, like Wal-Mart, doesn't fit with my deeply-held beliefs. Which allows me to avoid raw fish and a flea-market shopping atmosphere not because I'm unadventurous or snobbish, but because I have standards. Even if, according to Moon, I am a dung-eating dog. I may, in his mind, eat shit--but I won't be eating his sushi any time soon!

Tuesday, April 11, 2006


Bertolli Dinner For Two

Gay rights. TV show elections. Reality shows. Political conspiracy theories. Just give me something useful, you're screaming! Well, here you go.

The top link will tell you all about the twelve varieties of Bertolli's frozen "Dinner for Two" line. I can vouch personally for at least six of them, including the Chicken & Garden Vegetable Primavera, the Spicy Shrimp Fra Diavolo & Penne, the Chicken Alla Vodka & Farfalle, the Shrimp, Asparagus, & Penne, the Italian Sausage & Rigatoni, and the Chicken Parmigiana & Penne.

These are not ordinary frozen food; they're a cut above what you get from Stouffer's or those Contessa meals that sit next to them in the freezer at Jewel. The sauces are frozen in small cubes, and the vegetables, meat, and pasta are all individually frozen. And they cook in about twelve minutes on the stove with little attention (you can watch Idol and check in at the commercial); with a non-stick skillet, they demand almost no cleanup afterward. They all pair well with wine--we prefer a dry riesling, as neither of us enjoy the oakey tones that seem to dominate most other inexpensive whites--and most include at least a full serving of vegetables. The sauces are all interesting, with the cream sauces that accompany the Chicken Alla Vodka & Farfalle and the Shrimp, Asparagus, & Penne particularly noteworthy for how well they replicate restaurant flavors that no jar of sauce has ever done justice.

Best of all, they're a relative deal. Yes, they list for $7.99 at Jewel, which is a bit steep, but every few weeks they're marked down to $5.99--which is only $3 a person for dinner. (If you can stomach going into Meijer despite their terrible record on gay rights, they have them for $5 this week.) And if you decide you really like them, you can always cough up a couple bucks in exchange for a few dozen $1.50 off coupons from, lowering your meal costs even further.

I'm not saying these should replace your home cooking, and I prepare plenty of meals that are cheaper, or healthier, or sometimes both. But they're quick, easy, cheap, they taste great, and they feel a lot more elegant than Wendy's or pizza. (And if you're not the chef in the house but dinner is left in your hands, or if you are the chef and you're tired, aren't those five important qualities?) Enjoy!

A Start

Federal legislation would give gay couples equality in Social Security

I knew when I saw Rep. Jerrold Nadler performing his duties on the House Judiciary Committee that I was a fan. I had no idea how big a fan! He's introduced legislation that would provide same-sex couples the same Social Security benefits as married couples. While, of course, I want to be able to get married, it's good to see someone pushing the envelope--and calling the bluff of Republicans at the same time:
"I've heard many conservatives say that other than the case of marriage, they don't want to discriminate against the LGBT community," Nadler said. "If they truly don't want to discriminate, here is their chance to prove it. Same-sex couples pay the same taxes as married couples, and they deserve the same Social Security benefits as everyone else."
This is an issue of fairness, and that's why, while the bill only has 17 co-sponsors right now, I fully expect that it will pass long before I retire. 30 years ago no one had ever heard of gay marriage, and 30 years from now it will probably be considered a commonplace. I suppose I should remember that when I get so impatient with the pace of progress...

Monday, April 10, 2006

Reversal of Fortune

'West Wing' Writers' Novel Way of Picking the President

If you haven't seen last night's episode of The West Wing and plan to, stop reading now.

As this article from the New York Times reveals, the victory of Democrat Matt Santos last night was not the original plan for the show. All the work to make Arnold Vinick a sympathetic Republican was intended to lead to his victory, but the writers decided after John Spencer died that having Santos lose both his running mate and the election would be too sad.

I have to wonder if we've seen the last of Vinick. I've been hoping that Sam Seaborn (Rob Lowe) would be named Vice President, or that they'd go out on a limb and get Santos some foreign policy expertise by picking a woman, Nancy McNally. While both of those are possible, after a 272-266 victory of the sort that had Democrats hoping in 2000 that Bush would govern from the center, perhaps Santos will give us a fictional unity government by elevating Vinick to his VP?

In any case, I expect next week's episode, Leo's funeral, to be quite the tearjerker. It seems fitting that a show I'll miss so much is holding a funeral near its conclusion.

Speaking of which, does anyone else watch Will & Grace anymore? It's ending in less than a month and it, too, has taken a funereal turn, with Will's father dying in the wake of an argument between the two of them, leaving only three episodes to resolve Will's issues, handle Grace's pregnancy, and give us some idea of the futures of the main quartet.

Am I the only one who finds watching the end of a television series so intellectually tiring?

Friday, April 07, 2006


Mandisa Says She's Not a Gay 'Advocate'

The title of this post does not refer to Mandisa's statement regarding gays, though that statement does confirm that her preachy brand of Christianity has no room for gays even if her personal philosophy is not to hate anyone.

No, I refer instead to the feeling of validation I experienced as this story went from a personal observation to an article from the Associated Press. Ten days ago, when Mandisa performed "Wanna Praise You" and began with a statement about God being bigger than lifestyles and addictions, I said that it sounded like an anti-gay statement and that people would react. (Of course, I predicted that her statement would win her points with the Christian Right, not cost her support.)

My couch-mate thought I was crazy. No one left a single comment about my post regarding the matter. And it was Katharine, not Mandisa, who found herself in the bottom three the next night.

But just one week later, Mandisa is out--and the media are paying attention to what she said, and speculating that her views may have cost her votes. That's a mighty fine development.

I happen to believe that it was Mandisa's preachiness, her song choices, and her perception as a safe front-runner that did her in long before her rightful time. But if people are willing to believe that making comments perceived to be anti-gay could get her ousted from the most popular show on television, well, that means we're in better shape than I thought.

Triumph of Ideas

Run-Down Republicans

E.J. Dionne calls the game this morning in the Washington Post, saying quite plainly what voters have been thinking for months: The Republicans are out of ideas. The last 15 months have been a wildly veering ride from one intellectually bankrupt exercise to another, as conservatives trot out ideas that have no public support (like Social Security privatization), attempt to explain them to the public, and discover that no one is interested. Each idea distracts the nation from Iraq for a while, but in the end they all sink like stones.

Dionne is absolutely right: The Republicans are fresh out of ideas that actually solve problems as perceived by regular people. President Bush continues to try to sell Health Savings Accounts, another scam for the rich, as if they were some kind of healthcare panacea, while millions have no health coverage and millions more pay escalating prices for layers of unnecessary profit-seeking administration. The Congressional Republicans cannot pass a budget resolution because they cannot agree on spending cuts versus tax cuts, but refuse to contemplate the notion that maybe, just maybe, we can't cut either any further.

Our national debt is approaching $10 trillion. Congress is contemplating cuts that will jeopardize our nation's preeminent position in scientific research, pondering cuts to social programs that will further stratify an already dangerously stratified population, and attempting to fund a war that has no end in sight.

And Dionne is precisely right about why this is so infuriating:
The maddening aspect of our current stalemate is that it was entirely predictable. It took no great genius to see that cutting taxes in a time of war and other security threats would create large problems. The contradiction between the current majority's small-government rhetoric and heavy federal spending has been visible for years. For conservatives to be shocked at our big deficits suggests they were unwilling participants in government, forced to vote for one budget after another at gunpoint.
Last night, they refused to vote at all. We are witnessing the dissolution of a coalition that has held firm for 12 years, sometimes to its detriment (as in the impeachment hearings and the government shutdown during the Clinton era) but mostly to its political benefit. And as this coalition dies, so too must die the we-can-have-it-every-which-way mentality that has driven the madness of the last half-decade. We cannot afford to lose our place as the intellectual engine of the world, or to allow our country to fall into the sort of have and have-not divide that can topple any system given enough time, or to squander our military might in a conflict without a plan. Yet we have been doing all of these things, and if we do them much longer we will reach a point beyond which there can be no easy return.

It is time for the inherent contradictions of our times to be considered and a side chosen, and we all know what that means: Taxes are going up. It's time for someone to stand up and admit that, explain why, and convince the American people that this is the best--indeed, the only--way to save our nation from itself. If the nation isn't ready to listen to that message at this point, after all we've seen and all we're about to see, we deserve whatever we get.

Thursday, April 06, 2006


Yesterday in D.C. all the talk, despite our group's best efforts, was on immigration. As he spoke on the Senate floor, Dick Durbin's office phones were ringing off the hook with people who were, to judge by the reaction of the receptionist, quite virulently opposed to any form of citizenship or amnesty for anyone who had entered and stayed in the United States illegally.

I have a prediction about this: Nothing will happen. We've been discussing the issue for weeks in my class on public opinion and propaganda, and I've arrived at a conclusion: This whole debate is for show. And when it all ends up being for naught, Republicans will be quite pleased.

Why? They brought it up, didn't they?

Well, yes, but it's served its purpose now. It distracted the nation from the war in Iraq, taking up valuable front-page real estate in a time when that country's prospects for peace have dimmed. And it allowed various messages to seep out to different G.O.P. audiences. Republican House members get to run in their carefully-drawn conservative districts on a bill that appeals to their biggest base of voters because it presents a simple(-minded) solution to a complicated problem. Meanwhile, Republican Senators can run their statewide campaigns claiming that their bill showed more compassion. And the entire party can breathe more easily knowing that it has put off, for now, having to upset the big businesses that provide its financial lifeblood on the backs of the very immigrants the bill would have eventually provided rights and better wages.

It's been fun, hasn't it? The Republicans have managed to make the last two months or so of public debate all about peripheral issues like port security being run by Arabs and whether we should build a giant fence to keep out Mexicans and put the ones already here on buses. If you think they haven't known what they were doing, though, think again.

Just Right

Speaking of Idol (below), I thought it was worth noting that last night's results corresponded exactly to the results that DialIdol predicted. Same bottom three, same bottom two, same person leaving the show. Has the Idol code been cracked?

Good Gay Week

Shocking night on ‘American Idol’

I guess Mandisa has time to ponder her "lifestyle" now. It's a shame such a talented performer would be eliminated so early, but if someone had to go out of the consensus order, which would have sent Bucky and Ace home next, I'm glad it was Mandisa. Whether it was her anti-gay commentary or her general preachiness on-stage (her last spoken word on the show was, fittingly, Jesus), I believe she did this to herself.

In other good news, a soon-to-be presidential candidate, Senator Russ Feingold of Wisconsin, called the "Marriage Protection Amendment" that is before the Senate this week a "mean-spirited attempt" to discriminate against gays and lesbians, and further stated that he now supports legalized gay marriage. While I don't think Feingold will emerge with the nomination, or that he has a chance of becoming president, he has earned my vote in the primary unless and until another Democrat stakes out the same position.

Indeed, even Wal-Mart has decided this week that gays are good for something. Despite pressure from the American Family Association, it refused to pull Brokeback Mountain from its stores. Better yet, the movie sold 1.4 million copies on its first day of release. (My copy is on its way from Amazon as I type this.)

As if that weren't enough, I'm hearing rumors that Kevin Bacon will appear in the finale of Will & Grace...

Monday, April 03, 2006


Tom DeLay to drop from US congressional race

This is good news, from a civics standpoint, but I have to wonder if it won't hurt the chances of Democrats taking the House. Some other Republican will probably have an easier time winning DeLay's district than he would have.

I'm off to D.C. for a couple days, so maybe I'll hear some good speculation on this while I'm there!


Netflix: Pride and Prejudice

If it is my fate to be one of the millions whose faces must be plain that Keira Knightley's may transcend, that is a fate I can accept.

Just watched Pride and Prejudice, and I hope it represents the tip of the iceberg. Knightley's face makes the movie--her wry expressions tell the tale, and her beauty makes Darcy's obsession with her more than plausible.

But she's more than just a pretty face, as the phrase goes. She holds her own in two confrontations with Judi Dench, no small feat. And the scene in which she bickers with Darcy over his mistreatment of her sister, on which the whole film balances, is a thing to behold.

Having seen only this and Walk the Line among the films in which the Best Actress nominees starred, I'm already inclined to disagree with the winner. Reese Witherspoon does fine work, and WTL comes to life when she hits the screen and sags without her. But P&P is Knightley's coming out party. Don't miss it.