For your perusal, my latest piece for the GLHQ in London, for which I'm the commentator on American socio-political issues.
The Land of Low Expectations
Why are politicians so slimy?
It�s one of those questions that never fails to pop up in the brains of most everyday average people.
Sometimes, they�re slimy in �clever� ways, such as when they confuse basic issues to avoid taking a stance on controversial issues that could �cost them support� that they need to win a particular office. But most of the time, they�re just plain stupid in their willingness to assume that you and I are as stupid as their efforts to avoid a particular issue.
Take the Democratic party�s candidates for president, for the most part, for instance. Please. (Apologies to Mr. Marx � both of them!)
The US media has been abuzz with the paroxysms of giddy apologists for the donkey-party�s �bravery� in the face of �popular criticism� on controversial issues, as of late.
Unfortunately, for the most part, said politicians assume that the average observer of the situation is irredeemably stupid.
Take the Iraq war, for instance. This increasingly catastrophic farce sank an already unpopular president�s ratings to sub-30% levels � a truly Nixonian performance. Democrats managed to roar into a majority in both houses by committing a pull-out from Iraq. It was a simple, clear commitment to voters that virtually every voter could understand � make Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid the power-brokers in Washington, and our boys would be home before you could say �nuke Teheran.�
Ah, except that the Democrats, when push comes to shove, have backbones of gelatin. Somehow, the Dems� �brave resolve in the face of the president�s perfidy� transformed from bills that mandated an immediate pull-out (or defunding of the entire fiasco, failing that) into a blank cheque for $120 billion for continuation of the unpopular conflict in continuity.
Unfortunately for the Democrats, even their core supporters got a little miffed at that. Liberal editorial comic artist Tom Tomorrow summed it up with a four panel comic where Henry Reid threatens to �stand up� to a bullying President Bush, only to wimpily capitulate each time. After several capitulations, he repeatedly pledges to do better next time, only to have his companion roll her eyes and say �oh just shut the hell up already.�
Americans should be feeling a bit like Harry Reid�s erstwhile companion right about now � especially if you�re one of those logical Americans who favor equal treatment of LGBT folks.
Yet Another Moronic Spin Job
There�s a crazy thing about politics these days � the old media model of �lie through your teeth and hope the average opponent/citizen/voter won�t catch the lie� just doesn�t work anymore, thanks to the Internet and its ability to convey actual Congressional votes to the average citizen � in real time. We can now do the research that the media fails to do.
Take the issue of gays in the military. While modern military forces from Ottawa to London to Jerusalem have been integrated, effectively, for years, the US military has stubbornly persisted in maintaining a segregation standard that bans out gay military personnel from serving � despite a desperate dearth of personnel in every area that is compromising the already sclerotic Iraq effort.
Now, what would stupid politicians have us do?
If you�re a Republican, the answer is rather simple � insist that everything in Iraq is going fine and that the �policy is working� � even if you�re on the record as opposing it just a year or two ago. This is the tack that Mitt Romney, the chameleonesque former governor of Massachusetts, and neo-neocon extraordinaire, is taking. (Romney has even changed his perspective on that most important of Republican issues � when the second coming of Jesus Christ can be expected). Not to mention other mental midgets such as John McCain.
But Democrats are supposed to be better! And better, they were!
At least if you believe the breathless exhalations of the national American LGBT groups, who, as subsidiaries of the Democratic Party, could barely wait to hit �send� on the e-mails screaming about Democrats� eternal love for the homosexual serviceperson.
�All Democrats strongly support an end to the Don�t Ask, Don�t Tell (DADT) policy!� shouted press releases (and articles based on them).
And support they did!
Senator Joe Biden chided the military for having such a non-visionary policy, recounting his tales of hanging out in foxholes with troops who didn�t once try to pinch his posterior. John Edwards fell over himself to explain how unjust the policy was.
Hillary Clinton, the wife of Bill (he who endorsed and signed the existing anti-gay policy) even endorsed the repeal of the policy, making up some laughable claptrap about the law being a �transitional policy� designed to make the country comfortable with gay troops � rather than the effort to appeal to anti-gay animus (and broken campaign promise) that it really was.
Barack Obama, the wanna-be photogenic Boy King of Dem Party politics, murmured some of his trademark clich�s about a nation �of service� that �rewards bravery.� (Apparently his vision is to have an country that does what his party steadfastly avoids!)
And so it went. We must vote for these lovely Democrats � only they will repeal the policy!
Except that, well, it�s a stupid premise, for the most part. Because there�s already an effort underway in the House in order to repeal the bill, brought up by Massachusetts representative Marty Meehan above the objections of Nancy Pelosi (who insists that, you guessed it, �now is not the time� for such matters because they�re awfully controversial � after all, almost 30% of Americans continue to support the ban!)
Most of the Democrats seeking the office are Senators � either former (in the case of Edwards) or current (in the case of Clinton, Obama, Dodd and Biden). And not a single one of them has sponsored or co-sponsored a bill in the Senate � in their entire careers -- as a companion to Meehan�s bill in the House, or any other way for that matter.
In other words, they think that gays in the military are such a great idea that they�re not doing the minimum to make it happen as legislators.
For some reason, we�re supposed to believe that almost a decade-and-a-half of inaction by these clowns is supposed to be suddenly reversed come election time.
The only Democrat to put his money where his mouth is? Ohio Congressman Dennis Kucinich, who has had the gall to either introduce bills that agree with his stance on the issues � or vote for others� bills that reflect his stance on the issues. Kucinich has backed Meehan�s bill as a cosponsor.
Such �unwise efforts� on Kucinich�s part � supporting actual actions to make his platform come to life � have made him the butt of criticism by �Democratic strategists� who warn that having an actual spine and verifiable position on any issue is �dangerous� and makes one �unelectable.�
Such �strategic Democrats� gave the world John �I voted for the bill before I voted against it� Kerry � not to mention a Democratic House of Representatives that has, incredibly, sunk from sky-high 65%+ approval ratings to ratings rivaling George Bush�s lows in just months due to inaction on Iraq.
Queer American voters (and their Britannic supporters) would do well not to support any of the top-tier Democrats this year as a result. More of the same will be simply disastrous for America.
A Death in the Family (Values)
Some of you have asked about the late Reverend Jerry Falwell, the corpulent �moral majority� preacher recently found keeled over dead of heart failure in his office. And truth be told, I�m going to miss the old codger!
He was an anachronism � the perfect example of how blind religious fervour could be used to support virtually every nasty concept of poor treatment of one�s fellow man. The good reverend cut his teeth as a young preacher in the south lecturing against the evils of racial integration � insisting that the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. was a Soviet agent determined to spread the values of �equal treatment� above the �biblical principles of the USA.� Thus, he had �no choice� but to support continued segregation � and blast King in the strongest terms.
Such a schtick became rather tired, rather quickly, as the country�s southern tier learned that no, the rest of the country was not going to tolerate a two-tiered legal system for its citizens of African descent and, no, Jesus didn�t command his followers to hate his fellow man. As Falwell�s prior views became fodder for less savoury groups, such as the Birchers and KKK, he had to revise the target of the rhetoric � if not the rhetoric itself.
Thus, he restyled himself as the leader of a �moral majority� � establishing a group of the same name � and took aim at �secular humanist� art, as well as abortion and homosexuality.
The high camp of his efforts will be sorely missed.
For instance, Falwell�s son wrote in a fundraising letter that �the forces of Satan� have �rained a hail of fiery darts� at his father, after even numerous conservative leaders lashed out at Falwell�s popularly broadcast contention that abortionists, gays and the American Civil Liberties Union � more than religious fanatics � were responsible for the World Trade Center attacks in 2001.
Falwell was also the subject of an intense civil lawsuit against Hustler publisher Larry Flynt, purveyor of all things pornographic and puerile. Flynt recently revealed in an article that he�d befriended the jolly old reverend in old age, as he became a celebrity of camp culture, and that the old guy had never given up attempting to recruit Flynt to the righteous path of godliness.
Mel White, gay religious leader, also never gave up lobbying Falwell. The former speech-writer for the reverend actually moved, with his partner, to the Virginia hamlet where Falwell�s church is, and attended his church services every Sunday.
Time was hard on Jerry Falwell. Segregationism ended despite his opposition, gay marriage roared to life (and survived numerous challenges) in his lifetime, and every Sunday he had to endure two gay men holding hands and making googly eyes at him from the pews. No wonder his ticker couldn�t take any more!
Massachusetts Victory; Democrats� Shame
Last but not least, Massachusetts� legislature decisively voted down a proposed referendum to ban gay marriage in the only state in the union that presently offers full and equal treatment to its citizens, regardless of sexual orientation.
The good news? Anti-gay marriage advocates couldn�t even get the 25% of legislators� support necessary to get their hate amendment on the ballot.
The bad news? Democrats continue to insist that the vote �proves� that Democrats � and only Democrats � will stand for queer people.
Ignoring the fact that striking down an obvious hate law is hardly a laudable act of courage in and of itself (that designation goes towards laws that actually repeal discriminatory elements of government treatment � a record where the Democrats don�t do too well), a quick look at the vote shows that enough Democrats voted FOR the anti-gay law that if not for the rebel Republicans of Massachusetts, we�d be facing an anti-gay ballot initiative in Massachusetts in 2008.
Now, it may be true that Massachusetts voters were unlikely to support such an initiative (support for gay marriage runs in the 60% range after 3+ years of legality), but it�s also true that Democrats once again assume that we�re stupid and are trying to lie in order to benefit from a vote that � if anything � proves that relying on Democrats to protect our rights is pretty tenuous. After all, how pathetic is it that gay Massachuttans were reliant on Republicans � conservative, rock-ribbed Rockefeller Republicans in this case, but Republicans nonetheless � to preserve their marriage rights?
Goodness, it makes one want to vote Libertarian or something.
Until next time. . .