30 July 2005

Self-awareness? Now??! (CS)

Brendan gave us a possible explantion of the next generation's indentifcation. But i'm not so sure about this "Millenials" business. Actually makes us sound a bit like some lame group of all-powerful beings from across time and space in a Marvel comicbook or something.

Another term that i've heard used to refer to "our generation" is "twixters." The word itself is retarded, but there is a certain credence to the idea of it. The indication is that we are all betwixt and between and we just can't seem to figure out what in the hell to do with ourselves and when I think of the majority of my friends or people i knew from high school who are finishing up their first run at higher education, they often fit that profile. Another way to think of it as that with the ever growing amount of people getting college degrees and that in itself not being enough anymore to stand out from the crowd, we can't FIND anything to do with ourselves. How many people with English degrees am I going to see in the food service industry? What ever happened to fulfilling dreams? I dunno about you, but when i was in 2nd grade my "wanna grow up to be" dreams consisted of garbageman, superhero, and space adventurer......so, that explains it for me.

Meanwhile, as far as making a stamp in some way, the preceeding generations seem to have us beat. "The Greatest Generation" had a series of events to define them, they came into their own with (what was at the time) sharp contrasts, solid lines. The following generation largely rebelled against their fathers (as next-generations often do). The baby boomers, who were hippies and hells angels and then yuppies and yikes, high ideals.... and then what? Even they'll admit it was a let down. And Generation-X who were deemed "slackers" (then what were the hippies?) were said to be defined by movies like Reality Bites and Singles and, well, Slacker, and all these flicks show me a a bit of lack of direction but at least some hope and at least they seemed to have some sort of business plan and hey, who remembers Lolapalooza when it was a thing? Ok, so When you examine all this stuff, you see that there's no real cohesion. But on a macroscopic scale, you could at least generally lump people together.

So what in the hell is going on with "us"? No one can seem to pinpoint a movement or voice, a general ethos, an artistic style, or anything that our generation has largely latched onto. There are many different "styles" and trends that are out there, but really it just comes across as many cliques magnified and it still looks too fractured. Meanwhile, anything artistic is lumped under the recursive head-ache that is "post-modernism."

The one thing that probably is entirely common across the board is technology and especially the internet. We are probably more connected to intuitively understanding technology than our forefathers. I never read the instruction manual, i just jump right in and use intution to figure the system out. And yeh, the internet is where we figure we'll find the "next big thing" or "something great and universally captivating" as Brenden put it.... But i feel like we've already been waiting for some time now for that to happen and I think we'll be left twiddling our thumbs some time longer if we continue to wait for it. Of coruse, i'd be happy to be proved wrong and that and even happier if it turns out to be Ted Turner just to watch Brendan kill a man.

In the end, I don't mind not having a label for the generation i belong to. In fact, I rather prefer it. It seems to me that once they (whoever "they" may be) have got a fix on you, you're pigeonholed into that definition and things are all downhill from there. Screw it. The most powerful things in the world are undefinable. If we're going to tear down the walls and find new solutions, let's be entirely free and open to doing so. It's one thing to learn our lessons from the past, it's another to mechanically imitate the footsteps of those who came before us. Every generation is concerned with being masters of their own destiny. But typically, it's desire for control that's gonna kill your freedom.... So let's keep it chaotic.

28 July 2005

The Gospel (Good news!) (BR)

Bring 'em home!

Pull U.S. troops out of Iraq? What a great idea!

Wish the Democrats had thought of it.

So General Casey says it might be a good idea to get our fighting men the hell out of Iraq. The Pentagon and Congress say setting timetables for withdrawal hurts the mission, but Casey went ahead and said that Spring and Summer of next year will do just fine.

It's an ingenious political move. A year from now, public hostility to the war will be nearing some sort of saturation point, and, coincidentally, the provisional government will have the spine of a Constitution to prop it up. Without having to admit that traditional armed forces, even the most powerful and noble in the world, can't contain a guerilla insurgency in the desert, we can leave Iraq an independent republic with the veneer of law and order, and George Bush will look, to the most cursory of glances, somewhat like Stephen Hawking. The Republicans, of course, will be the winners of the Gulf War, Part Deux and the Dems will have the well-earned rep of lilly-livered naysayers.

America will have won, and the Democrats will not have helped.

The de facto leftist party didn't allow any of its power-brokers to oppose the war until we were entrenched for a year, in election season, and then we could only quibble with the nuances of tactics and planning. Never could we debate the underlying morality of the fight. Mother Jones doesn't count.

This will give future administrations license to engage in lunkheaded war-making such as Bush has done, and we can drag the glory of the Iraq conflict (Jesus Christ...) like errant toilet paper on our shoes as we plunge into future police actions.

We can only pray for enlightenment.

Excuse me, I've got to go hang out with the guys who were rooting for us to lose.

Self-awareness now! (BR)

So we've already defined ourselves.

It's funny, because the generation before the generation that just came of age (i.e. graduated from college) did little to try and define our age group beyond hemming and hawing about whether we'd be overly stimulated and desensitized by exposure to sex and violence.

Now, more than any other group of twenty-somethings in American history, even the Hippies, we have essentially imposed our interests and tendencies upon the general population. Who do we thank but Madison Avenue, for also making us the youngest advertising demographic in history.

I was contemplating the Millenials' (the only term I've heard associated with my generation) place in history, and I thought about the special 'Blogosphere' editions of programming on CNN and MSNBC. I'm not one much for newsblogs myself, I like to think of this place as apart from the crowd, not trying to be currently relevant, just interesting.

The narcissism of the weblog, livejournal...that I, with no credentials, nothing but the 'fact' of my presumed existence, I and my thoughts and my particular experience may be compelling enough to entice strangers.

But we've been cultivated to expect our environment, and especially the media, the environment which we adopt as common, to respond to our more basic drives. Make it colorful, high-volume, show me an ass. Even a silhouette of an ass. I'm fixated. But now the world is like, like us.

The cultural jump from Sesame Street to Fear Factor is not so drastic. Essentially, the world has become a cartoon so we don't get bored. And if reality falls short in some areas, we can CGI that shit in. We can live out any conceivable scenario vicariously,

Oh yes we HAD our MTV, and our Nintendos and Tamogotchis and beepers and cellphones and now our motherfucking Blackberries and PSPs. Now the generation that raised us is jealous, because their tastes were never catered to. They never had a specialty television channel for their particular obscure interest, like military history or transgenderism or Wall Street. "Why, back in my day..." sounds idiotic coming out of someone who laughed at All in the Family and smoked pot to Led Zeppelin IV, so they can't even bitch about us.

So they emulate us.

Desperate housewives who squeeze into their daughters' clothes, full-grown adults speaking into headset telephones while they walk down Broadway. It's us programming them.

This power that we have over our surroundings is strange and difficult to contemplate. It might be impossible to harness fully and use. Though it's an outgrowth of the exploitation of our most basic desires, an awareness of who we are, what we have and the extent to which it enables us to true self-determination and individualism is something worth pondering.

The pitfalls are obvious and natural. The progress of simplifying complex processes into quick, ancillary tasks tends toward human sloth. But the awareness of power has an energizing effect on the spirit. The confluence of this type and this measure of power and energy with good intentions is rare, indeed. But it's happened.

And in the type of world where some yacko from Singapore can stumble on the online journal of some other jacko from Palm Springs and find out why Amanda is totally holding out on Brad this week, someone is going to figure out an effective way of putting will to power, so to speak, and make something great and universally captivating.

And if it's Ted Turner, by God, I'm just going to beat up the first person I see.

26 July 2005

What's Goin On? (CS)

Recently a friend asked me (and whoever else of her friends were willing to listen), "What's on your mind? And why do we pay more attention to gadgets and celebrities than to what's going on in the world?"

It's one of those extraordinarly frustrating questions that gets posed on a fairly frequent basis and never seems to meet a satisfactory or at least a remedying answer. What makes us, despite the problems in the world and despite these problems being laid upon our doorstep, so complacent and ignorant and obsessed with the frivolous?

In the most recent L-Magazine Adam Bonislawski writes a fantastic essay ("Champions of Forgetfullness: On Terrorism and Moving On") that I recommend my fellow NYers to pick up and read (it's free, for chrissake). In it he says:

For some, the victims' families in particular, 9/11 did change "everything." For most of us though, July 2005 looks very much as substanceless as July 2000. People still outsells Foreign Affairs. Bobby Brown has become a reality TV star...An even cursory glance at the day's scene suggests that our much-discussed gravitas never quite arrived. There are among us serious persons,but as a people our seriousness comes still only in starts and fits.

so.... How does this happen? Consumer culture is a cancer. That about sums it up for me, i guess.

There could be any number of things on my mind at the moment, but i don't think I account for the majority.... I live without television, my preferred radio is BBC 3, and lately i've been reading a fair amount of Cicero and Marx. I of course can't avoid being a part of consumer culture in general. I buy stuff, even sometimes frivolous stuff, certainly enough in the way of comic books (although there's a fair amount of smart ones out there and even the capes and cowls try to say a thing or two about politics, albeit quietly). But I cannot consider myself a part of the larger crowd of trends and fads. I can't even seem to bring myself to buy an air-conditioner, much less the latest overpriced gizmo.

Meanwhile, look at the hipsters. This is the "cool" youth of America, no? New York is our cultural capital and Williamsburg is played up as "the new village," the new scene. But do you think you'll find many activists there? Certainly not on the level that you would have in the village decades ago, the largely poor and yet politically minded village of old (and whatever poor, but politically minded neighborhoods and scenes that would have come before it). The hipster scene is almost entirely predicated on money and status. As Jesse Michaels put it recently in Too Much CoffeeMan Magazine #22, "[the hipster catagory] isn't a movement but a social phenomenon. In [a movement] you have a group of people who share one or more basic values and seek to assert their aesthetic or political principles in the world at large. In the case of hipsters, you simply have a widespread but difficult-to-define way of acting, thinking, and dressing based on no values whatsoever, except for stylistic affectation." Michaels explains further that when the "stylistic affectation" becomes paramount, one needs money to keep up with the fashion, music, etc. What's more, one becomes a bit of a self-important asshole as how one ranks on the scale of "cool" is pretty much what its all about. Self-indulgence is king.

On "the other side of the tracks" you have hip hop culture. There are a handful of true artists, like the bomb the system type kids or the modern poets, looking for what the new art is or may be. But the overwhelming aspect of modern hip-hop, the music you hear coming out of every car and apartment window when you're walking through the neighborhood, seems to have little, if any, to do with the world at large or something deep. It is on one end about anger, the rough life, guns. Shootings involving The Source and Hot 97 lend it legitmacy within its own bounds of "thug life" but rob it of any legitmacy as a movement. On the other end it's about obtaining flashy cars and flashy jewlery, going to flashy clubs, getting a flashy house (and i'm sure i need not get too far into the "piece of meat" role that women often play in all this)..... Everyone wants to be Scarface, who lived a life of destruction and corruption, but had the money, the women, the power after coming up from nothing. They don't care that in the end he was destroyed by it all and destroyed many others, they care only that at one point, he was on top, and he lived "the life."

Bonislawski concludes that our general apathy comes from a desire for normalcy and a strength in "getting on with things." But I don't see why we can't have it both ways, proceed with business as usual and yet be focused, aware, and involved. In the end, I think what's at the root of American (and general) disengagement with the world is personal interest and ego. Consumer culture and its trappings become a distraction as everyone wants the good life..... for themselves. Few, if any, TRULY realize that "the good life" has little, if anything, to do with money and status. The few that do realize this also seem to realize the age-old, often stated, picked up by nearly every culture SOMEWHERE along the line idea that If you honestly want to help yourself... You should help your brother.

Comics Roundup 7/26 (CS)

I finally got an opportunity to nab and read a copy of Will Eisner's posthoumosly published The Plot: The Secret Story of The Protocols of the Elders of Zion. No one would argue with Eisner's skill as an artist and storyteller or with his status as a legend among graphic novelists and the medium of comic books. However, I am not sure how I feel about his execution of what is essentially a history paper in comic book form. I don't mean to say that it can't be done, but in this case I didn't feel like it was quite pulled off. The villainous propagandists are portrayed a tad over-the-top (probably because this is supposed to be historical context and not comic fantasy) and for some reason the pacing and delivery made me feel like I was reading a Jack Chick tract at times (but of course with an intellectual foundation instead of the bizarre nonsense you would get with Chick).

However, for all my complaints, I can't doubt that Eisner's heart was in the right place and that this can (and hopefully will be) a very important work within the comics medium. It was Eisner's dream that this book could go towards the apparantly never-ending quest to discredit "The Protocols of the Elders of Zion" once and for all. This is probably the most shocking part of The Plot and the one aspect that truly keeps you reading. Despite various governments, newspapers, and scholars from around the world denouncing The Protocols as a flat out forgery and fake, a copy of it always seems to pop up in one form or another somewhere in the world, and circulated as "proof" that there is a malevolant Jewish conspiracy to rule the world or a particular country.

Therin lies the truly heartbreaking nature of Eisner's final work. One gets a sense that his dreams of using the medium he had mastered as means to further getting the word out on "The Protocols" may work to an extent, but in the end there will always be fools and those looking for an enemy to buy into it. As Umberto Eco puts it in the Introduction, "It is not the Protocols that produce antisemitism, it is people's profound need to single out an Enemy that leads them to believe in the Protocols," or as Eisner notes in his first couple pages, "Whenever one group of people is taught to hate another, a lie is created to inflame the hatred and justify a plot. The target is easy to find because the enemy is always the other." This of course shouldn't diminish the importance of Eisner's work. Again Eco: "...the story is hardly over. Yet it is a story very much worth telling, for one must fight the Big Lie and the hatred it spawns."

And on the completely ridiculous end of things (but keeping with what i guess is a "religious" theme) I recently read a comic book published by Image called Battle Pope. Yep, that's really what it's called.
It's a little silly, a little stupid, quite violent, lighthearted, and entirely blasphemous. And a good time was had by all. These days when so many comic books have gotten fairly grim and serious (The Ultimates 2 #7 was so upsetting and graphic that it actually managed to give me quite a shock) it's nice to have a couple books out there that know not to take things too seriously. I do enjoy the subject matter more geared to older readers, but it's great to have that balance out there. Battle Pope isn't for kids (clearly), but here's hoping they might start putting out more books (along the lines of the Teen Titans cartoon) that younger kids can really latch into. Marvel's New Warriors is also a great book with that sort of attitude and the writing of Brian Micheal Bendis always has at least a bit of humor to it (although he is the guy that killed off Hawkeye....).

Oh, and I really don't mean to spoil it for any of you out there, but there IS a panel in Battle Pope with Jesus picking his nose. Now you just need a copy, don't you?

24 July 2005

NYU - Where the U Stands for Union Busting (CS)

There are apparantly two popular images of New York University. One of these is the often cited (especially by the University itself) accomplishment of becoming the #1 Dream School in the country. Whether it's the allure of the big city itself, popularized in movies and television or the allure of a fine academic institution remains to be seen (I shit you not when I say that I've heard talk that the show Felicity caused a huge jump in enrollment at NYU.... so y'know, that sort of thing....). Meanwhile, for those that have been through NYU or have at least had close contact with it, the image tends to be one of a painfully beurocratic and sometimes sickeningly money grubbing metropolitan juggernaut that has a terrible record of devouring the city piece by piece.
I'm not one to jump on either side. I don't intend to idolize it nor bash it. Despite the constant talk of a terrible tuition, I feel that I at least got what I paid for and I think I got one damn fine education out of the history department and even the majority of the much maligned Morse Academic Plan.

It is however, hard for me to stick up for the University decision not to negotiate with the graduate student union. These kids are in a tough position. They make hardly any money (certainly not enough to get by on in the city) and no benefits for taking on many of the same responsibilities many professors have while of course at the same time trying to juggle their graduate study course load. Meanwhile, as they try to make bread money and gain an advanced education at the same time, their critics and detractors will call them spoiled brats for complaining from a position of privelege.

Their critics will probably also attack the Graduate Student Organizing Committee (GSOC) the United Auto Workers (UAW) and unions in general. Unions often make a convenient scapegoat, whether it's for corruption, causing outsourcing, inconvenient work stoppages or who knows what. Truth is, however, that unions help a lot more than just their own rank and file. As David Sirota points out, people should care about the labor movement because when unions can get themselves a better wage and benefits, the ripple effects are often felt throughout the company involved and often throughout the industry, benefitting all workers. Sirota cites Costco and it indeed serves as a great example. Costco lets its workers unionize and although it is only a minority who join the union, as they get benefits so do the rest of Costco's employees. Meanwhile, thanks in large part to the low turnover in employees and general employee morale and loyalty, the entire company prospers, despite the pissing and moaning of greedy stock holders more worried about the numbers at the end of the week than long term growth.

This sort of ripple effect seems absolutely true in the case of graduate students as well. At the beginning of the month, The Journal of Higher Education published an article that showed that when NYU recognized the Teaching Assistant union (the first private college to do so) "other colleges had to start offering stipend and benefit packages that compared favorably with NYU's." The spokesperson for Columbia's grad student union noted that their wages increased "by an average of over 42 percent during the life of the NYU contract." And of course, by being the only private college to recognize a TA union, NYU had certain bragging rights as a progressive, modern university that cared to some extent about its student employees (something that could certainly lend to student and general morale).

Despite the (newly Bush appointed) National Labor Relations Board ruling that the University was under no obligation to negotiate with the union, NYU had a chance to prove itself to be as progressive as it claims, moving along the lines of committment to doing something more and helping others that President Sexton harped upon in his graduation speeches this past May (I know, I was there). Perhaps feeling a bit of the old hubris from the "#1 Dream School" designation, NYU has so far decided instead to not negotiate. Its town hall meeting was more than suspciously scheduled for the summer, when support for the union would be harder to come by (most students being away until the fall) and despite a good showing of support (from students and politicians), the meeting seemed to come across as a bit of a farce. Most came away with the feeling that this was a Public Relations exercise and that the University had already made up its mind.

So, what now? Hopefully these college educated kids will recall the Greek tragedies they no doubt had to read and remember that with hubris comes a downfall. A strike from the GSOC/UAW would see large university wide support (from other students, professors, and especially adjuncts), causing a somewhat paralyzing situation for the university. It would probably only take a little bit of coordination to get other student unions on board as well in support of one form or another, especially from Columbia and Yale whose unions have shown a certain amount of admirable resolve in the face of daunting odds. Talk about ripple effects.

It's been a long fight thus far and it's still a long fight ahead now for the GSOC/UAW (as well as student unions everywhere). But that's always the case for labor. As the saying goes, "When the going gets tough....." and it might well be time for these kids to prove that they aren't a bunch of spoiled brats, that they will not be ignored, and that labor is not just going away.

23 July 2005

Periodic roundup (BR)

Today's New York Observer offers a profile of White House Deputy Chief of Staff Karl Rove's lawyer, Bob Luskin. Luskin identifies himself as "a liberal Democrat," and has an impressive progressive resume, along with a penchant for wearing an earring. My God, how countercultural and edgy. Luskin also defended a couple of Clinton administration higher-ups who got in some hot water over Filegate and Whitewater.

Do Luskin's non-partisan credentials boost the idea that Rove is actually blameless, the target of a vicious Democrat witchhunt? Eh, no. He's an attorney; attorneys go where the money is, and tell the lies necessary to keep money happy. Buried in the tail end of the Observer article is this telling nugget:

[I]t was revealed that Mr. Luskin had accepted payments in gold bars (emphasis added) from a client who was a convicted drug-money launderer, Stephen Saccoccia. In 1998, he reportedly agreed to repay $245,000 of the approximately $700,000 he'd been paid for representing Mr. Saccoccia[.]

"In hindsight," [Luskin] said, "what a stupid thing for me to have done."

Damn straight it was stupid, but it's fitting that a crook like Rove would reach across the aisle to get a crook to represent him. All the earrings and Cherokee lounge garb can't obscure the world-class prick status of Luskin or his client.

And for Plamegate, a story so riddled with suspense and intrigue that the entire country can barely give a fuck, I'd like to know where "douchebag of Liberty" (props to Jon Stewart) Robert Novak is in all this. So far we've seen the jailing of one reporter who didn't write an article naming Joe Wilson's CIA spook wife, and Time magazine selling out its entire reportorial staff, but Novak, the dude who patriotically outed a covert agent who dared prove his dear President a bald-faced liar, has gotten minimal face time, which, though a blessing for the sighted community, reeks of suspicion as far as the Rove investigation goes.

This writer would be less than surprised if, after sabotaging a political foe, Novak found no qualms about handing over his friends to the fuzz to save his ass. Has CNN cancelled Crossfire yet?

I won't pretend I knew who John Roberts was before President Bush put him up for the Supreme Court, but I can guarantee that we will not see a landmark reversal of Roe v. Wade during Bush's term in office. Bush only pays lip-service to the nutty right, and, more than anything, is conscious about his legacy. We invaded Iraq when support for war was between 70-80%, once that public favor began to flag, gay marriage became the issue of the day. If W exits office with a consistent 5% unemployment rate, home ownership on the rise, troops out of Iraq, no further terrorist attacks on American soil, and nothing divisive like criminalization of abortion on his record, he can retire to Crawford with the knowledge that America had a pretty OK eight years without his having to do much of anything.

19 July 2005

A Healthy Jaunt To The Land of "How ISN'T this Make-believe?" (CS)

Begging for a diversion from The Media vs. Scott McClellan vs. Democrats vs. Rove? Look no further....

So Lil' Kim is suing some guy called Lil' Cease for illegal use of her name in some DVD called "The Chronicles of Junior M.A.F.I.A. part II: Reloaded" Does anyone else find it a little confusing that people who are into such silly kid-like names and titles are involved in cases of shootings and gangs?

Some guy thinks he's mathematically figured out that there's a 97% probability that Jesus was resurrected. After all that math and calculus, do you think he'd cry when any philosopher, thelogian, or kid with a B.A. that was at least half awake in their Con. West class could tell him that his first two assumptions are a bunch of hooey? What if there's more than one god or what if they misunderstood some other god to be the God he's basing all his calculations on? What if god existed but died before Jesus? And as for becoming incarnate what if he did become incarnate, but as some guy that we never heard of? Or as the buddha? Or as some guy on the moon, just to see what it'd be like to die as a human on the moon? Bet he didn't factor that one in.

While it's pretty cool that birds are capable of imitating ring tones, i do wish they had the sense not to. As if we weren't putting enough cramp in nature's style already....

And somewhat getting back to Mr. HotShot Mathmetician from before.... What if God was teapot???

17 July 2005

Ignorance is Bliss (CS)

A common complaint from the political Right is that news coverage on Iraq only focuses on the negative aspects of the war. I am no media industry insider so I can't testify to whether or not they ignore what good is being accomplished, but it is at least true that we should not simply ignore what they ARE reporting from Iraq.
We should not simply ignore that, despite the siege, enforced police state and protracted campaign to control Fallujah, apparantly it is rising again as a hotbed of insurgent activity. We should not simply ignore that the body count in Iraq (both Iraqi and American) continues to skyrocket. We should not ignore that Bush and Rummy's buddy Paul Bremer lead the Coalition Provisional Authority in Iraq with bookkeeping unfit for running a pet store, much less the major reconstruction project of an entire country.

But the general public (and especially politicians) have had a notorious tunnel vision when it comes to focusing on worldwide and even American humanitarian injustice. This seems never more true than when politicians smell the blood of their opponents in the water. As the news pours in on what is being dubbed Plamegate (including the recent "All Rove, All The Time" focus of most Democrats) the statistics, facts, and attrocities (not just in Iraq but around the globe as well) largely get ignored. How else does one explain the continued foot dragging (or lack of any movement whatsoever) in relation to the crisis in Darfur?
The crisis in Darfur has been building for years and of course comes from a history of civil war and conflict. In the last couple years hundreds of thousands have died at the hands of government backed militias known as the Janjaweed. And although John Garang, head of the southern Sudan People's Liberation Movement/Army, was named First Vice President of the "unity" government recently, Muslim clerics in Khartoum have issued a fatwa against Garang and the SPLM (meaning the killings will likely continue) and at least 2 Million refugees are left displaced and largely without resources of any kind.

Leading into the war with Iraq, one of the favorite justifications by warhawks for the uprooting of Saddam Hussein was that he "gassed his own people." Nevermind that this occured in the 1980s and the United States was comfortable in ignoring it then. As the Bush administration ramped up support for the war, the fact that Saddam would murder the people of his own country was seen as irrefutable proof that Hussein was a madman and only good could come from his downfall. Why is there not half as much public and governmental idnignation over the Janjaweed slaughtering non-Arab farmers and the wholesale destruction of their villages? Perhaps we are biding our time and waiting until AFTER this area becomes an area of terrorist camps and activity (frankly, it seems like only a matter of time).

The situation in Sudan becomes even more complicated when one considers that due to its natural resources of oil, China and Russia have stonewalled many efforts within the United Nations to put pressure on the Sudanese government. The oil is quite possibly also a reason for American reluctance to intervene, but imagine for a moment that we had a President, administration, and government that could ingore the prospect of oil in the face of undeniable humanitarian crisis. In this dream instance it would still take a concerted effort by the United States to gather international pressures not only in motivating action within the UN and various nations themselves, but also to discourage the absolutely frightening potential military bloc of Russia and China from using their vetoes within the UN Securty Council should a plan of interventin against genocide be declared.

Of course, this is where President Bush's international policies truly come into focus as despairingly damaging. For one, the continued war in Iraq continues to generate a distaste within the country for foreign intervention and sending men and women overseas. Another problem is that by creating extended war efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan and shouldering the burden almost purely ourselves, we've left our resources spread too thin to take care of the current situations there, making it a pipe dream to extend said resources into areas where they may be direly needed. And finally, our alienation of and stand-offish attitude against the majority of the international community has left them with a measure of distrust towards any actions taken by the United States, domestic or international. This is of course not to say that the European nations are perfect. They fail in many aspects of being good neighbors to the world as well and their histories can be called just as questionable and even damaging as America's. However, it is crucial to pick your battles and arguments wisely and the Bush administration has shown nothing but brazen thick headedness and poor decision making in that aspect on the international stage.

In the face of all these international problems that we create, ignore, or even propagate, does it really seem so important that we get out our pitchforks and torches for Karl Rove, dirty rat that he may be? While we spend a bit too much time to ponder Micheal Jackson's weirdness, our international situation becomes intractable. Does it worry you that people like Rush Limbaugh and the crew at Fox News complain that there's too much focus on the trouble in Iraq and Gitmo rather than complain that there's not enough focus on injustice elsewhere? As usual, I recommend you look into these things yourself. After that, go ahead and return to your regularly scheduled programing.

16 July 2005

Apparantly I Hate Families (CS)

Coming right on the heels of and relating to a post I made Thursday, I read in the times that Christian conservatives plan on having a telecast to criticize the Supreme Court and drag the whole "culture war" bag into the public conversation. Once again, the connection is emphasized by these organizations, not explicitly but simply by force of repitition, that by making rulings that keep religion out of law the Court is restricting religion and that by restricting religion they are destroying families. As Tony Perkins, head of the Family Research Council, puts it, "This is about the future of the country, it is about our families, it is about the freedom of religion."
Well yeah, Tony, anyone can just go ahead and say that. But do you really think that the ACLU, who The Family Research Council no doubt reviles, would not stand up for you as well if they felt your freedom to practice the religion of your choice was in question? The freedom of religion is supposed to protect all religions, not just the Christian ones. And it's duly noted that this telecast is supposed to include one Jewish commentator, but how about Muslims and Hindus and hell, why not Zorastarians and Satanists (they're really not all that bad, i promise)?
And how come if it's about religion, it's always automatically about families? There aren't non-practicing or agnostic or even atheist families out there? The only way someone could possibly have a family is within Christianity?
I will agree with one thing though, it certainly is about the future of this country. Of course, how could it not. But as Spain, England, and Canada continue to enact more progressive social legislation,

15 July 2005

Teaching the Preaching (CS)

Ever since our last general elections, talk in this country has been hinged around a lot of phrases and ideas pertaining to a developing culture war within the country. Blue vs. red, “values”, faith-based initiatives, evangelism, the Ten Commandments on federal property. These phrases and those related are in the headlines on an essentially daily basis. More and more we see politicians pandering to religious sects and organizations. A friend of mine said not too long ago that you couldn’t get elected Dog Catcher in this country if it got out that you’re an atheist, and I would agree that this country is approaching a political climate that I find borderline scary. And so, I think it’s about as good a time as ever that we had a little talk about our good friend, The Establishment Clause.

The Establishment Clause, for those of you that are Constitutionally uninitiated, is the portion of the First Amendment that states, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” It’s a phrase that comes across to me as smart and elegantly phrased. And it’s also highly debatable (or at least ignorable), especially in reference to our schools.

Governor Jeb Bush of Florida would apparently like to bring the Bible straight into the public classroom with a Christian-based program “to promote the belief that "the father is the head of the household" and that men should rely on God to help them be better parents and keep their marriages intact. It also encourages Bible reading.” Even ignoring the obvious sexism of the program, it still poses so many problems in breaking down the barriers between church and state that I simply can’t believe that it’s already been “used in about 60 locations in 20 states.” Even on the subject of school vouchers, various courts across the United States have commonly found government funded voucher programs as Unconstitutional under the Establishment Clause. Essentially, a voucher program would see money raised by the government funneled into the propagation, preaching, and indoctrination of religion. Perhaps a community that is largely Christian (of one sect or another) could rally behind such a measure, making it the will of the people. But what of the inevitable minority within the community that doesn’t prescribe to this belief? As the money gets sucked out of the public schools, will they be forced to enroll their children in a parochial one? Are we to fall pray to the “Tyranny of the Majority” that Alexis DeTocqueville feared in democracy? Please, let’s not prove a Frenchman right. Not on this.

Now I can hear the typical complaints thrown at anyone that should challenge religion in government. He’s anti-religious! He has no values! He wants to restrict/destroy/prohibit our freedom to practice! Can we for once calm down and realize these claims as rediculous? Do ethics and values HAVE to come from religion? Isn't it better that I don't need a book to tell me that it's wrong to kill another person or to steal? And in the end, I'm all for the free practice of religion and I think keeping religion out of our schools (and politics) only strengthens that aspect of society.

If we look at the issue of bringing Christian Creationism into science classrooms, we can see a flaw that even Inherit The Wind didn't explore. If we are to bring in the Christian viewpoint of Creation, then why not the Wiccan view? Or the Hopi story of creation? Or any number of creation stories from various religions, cultures, or civilizations? One of my favorite books when I was younger was In The Beginning, a collection of creation storys from different cultures. Maybe we can just hand that out alongside our science textbooks.
HuffPost blogger Cenk Ugyur makes a similar point. If we're to open the door to religion, which sect is it going to be? Even within Christianity there are probably more different sects than you can count on all your digits. And at least one that even allows gay marriage. If we're going to legislate by religion, even solely Christian religion, which specific church wins the prize? It's a headache that I'm not sure even the most fervent of evangelicals would be willing to take on.

12 July 2005

The 76th annual All-Star Game

Back in May, I posted my votes for this summer's All-Star Game. They were by no means predictions, just my own selections if I were Terry Francona and/or Tony La Russa, managers of the American and National League squads, respectively. (God willing, Mr. Francona and I will never resemble each other). But let's see how I did.

On the American League side, I correctly predicted the selections of first baseman Paul Konerko, second baseman Alfonso Soriano, catcher Ivan Rodriguez, outfielders Vlad Guerrero and Ichiro Suzuki and designated hitter David Ortiz. Of my AL picks, only Ortiz and Guerrerro were selected as starters, the others were chosen by Francona to fill out the bench.

My picks who didn't make the cut were third baseman Hank Blalock, shortstop Derek Jeter and center fielder Bernie Williams. Blalock is having an absolutely torrid season and Jeter's offensive numbers are better than usual. Alex Rodriguez's raw stats might be slightly better than Blalock's, plus he has the name recognition (although his popular election is curious since it seems every other team's fans despise A-Rod) but in a big situation, I'd much rather have Hank than Alex in the batter's box. As for Jeter, he's had too many All-Star moments to mention, and Miguel Tejada and Michael Young were undeniable for the All-Star squad. I was full in my disclosure of Bernie as a sentimental pick.

So out of nine AL picks, six made the team. Not bad.

In the National League, only my picks of first baseman Albert Pujols (who will be the starting DH in the American League park), catcher Paul Lo Duca and outfielder Carlos Beltran panned out.

I admit I'm not as much of an NL maven, though Senior Circuit ball, with no DH and more emphasis on strategy tickles the purist in me, but let's see where I screwed up.

I chose Craig Biggio of the Astros to start at second. Baseball fans chose the crybaby jerk Jeff Kent, with Luis Castilla of Florida as the reserve. David Eckstein of the Cardinals will start at shortstop, backed up by Cesar Izturis of the Dodgers, Jimmy Rollins of the Phillies and Felipe Lopez of the Reds. I chose the Mets' Jose Reyes, who doesn't know how to take a pitch, but still has eight triples in half a season and, with the offensive disappearance of Beltran, is largely responsible for the fact that the Metropolitans are still in contention for the division.

I also chose Vinny Castilla and Brad Wilkerson of the Nationals based on their deceptively hot starts and because I was an Expos fan. I don't like Aramis Ramirez, the Cubs' hot corner man who got the starting nod, though Morgan Ensberg looks like the real deal. Castilla still would have been a better choice for reserve than Scott Rolen, who's only hitting .250 with five homers at the break.

In the outfield I had Beltran, Wilkerson and Juan Pierre. The voters inexplicably agreed with my weakest pick, but Home Run Derby king Bobby Abreu and Cardinals center fielder Jim Edmonds were amply served. All in all, three of my nine NL picks played in the All-Star Game, which the AL won, 7-5, for their eighth straight victory in the Midsummer Classic.

It wasn't a great game, but here are some highlights:

Major-League asshole Kenny Rogers was booed on his way in and out, and in between, gave up the National League's first two runs. Switch-hitting first baseman Mark Teixiera, who hadn't homered from the right side all year, went deep off lefty Dontrelle Willis. Ichiro was picked off of first base. I don't have the resources to check the last time that happened to anyone in an All-Star Game, but I assume it was a rarity. And my boy Mariano Rivera got a strikeout for a one-out save, simply overpowering Ensberg.

10 July 2005

Quickies (CS)

Just a couple items that caught my eye....

--- Click here or here to see why animals are pretty damn awesome (and now i feel bad for calling the cat stupid).

--- Salman Rushdie wrote an op-ed about the "honor and shame" cultures of India and Pakistan. It'll probably make you cringe, but somebody had to say it.

--- The estate tax is up for debate yet again. Personally, I think taxes are good. Yeh, what you earn, you have earned. Yeah, we hate seeing those damned deductions that go along with every paycheck. But is it such a bad thing if billionaires pay just a little bit extra, even relatively? Isn't that at least far better tahn the POOR paying a little bit extra relatively? Is there no such thing as social responsibility? Social citizenship? And isn't it about time we worried a little less about how much we were getting taxed and a little more about how and where that tax money was being used?

--- And finally, it seems that we are already feeling the probably adverse effects of the Supreme Court's ruling that journalists must give up their sources in the event of related federal prosecution or face charges of civil contempt. In many cases, and in any case that matters, it takes a lot of guts for a whistleblower to step up and expose wrongdoing. By all means, they should be encouraged to come forward in a court of law in order to further confirm allegations and prosecute those that deserve it. But with this new standard, many stories won't even have the chance to come to light. How many stories and dirty dealings will slip under the radar now that reporters must choose between jail and stooling on a whistleblower already risking his or her neck?

Victory (BR)

I was having a discussion yesterday with a friend about matriarchal and matrilineal societies in prehistory. I said that the way I see it, peaceful, non-expanionist cultures are inevitably conquered and swallowed up by the warlike tribes. The newly subjugated peoples reevaluate the live-and-let-live premise under which they'd been existing, and subsequently develop a huge hard-on for war and terror, moreso even than their masters.

While my argument was constructed for the conclusion that women-led civilizations are a nice but unviable idea, after my first sip of coffee this morning I noticed a neat little link to our current problems. Though the British people and the American left largely despised the invasion of Iraq, and though we now know that the country had nothing to do with the real crisis represented by Islamic terrorism, we see that it has made militant Muslims mad enough to kill civilians in western countries.

The Bush doctrine was flawed and ineffective from the outset. Although the first strike in the War on Terror was the right one, our distraction with Iraq has caused us to relinquish most of the Afghan country to warlords and ex-Talibans, to the point where Kabul and Kandahar are now militarized fortresses where coalition troops and sympathizers must guard the city limits from vandals and militants. We cannot fight a war on an idea, or a tactic. All a declaration of war against terror did was tip off the enemy as to exactly what to do to scare the shit out of us.

Expect the inhabitants of the United Kingdom to slide toward xenophobia and militarism. It's a fairly natural response to the recent bombings in London. As reported in the New York Sun, even the most hardline Imams operating in Britain had worked under a covenant of non-aggression, which, simply stated, meant that as long as British authorities did clamp down on terror groups within their borders, the nation's buses and tube tracks were safe. In January, Parliament passed a tough new anti-terror code, thus breaking the truce and providing an excuse for religious fanatics to go apeshit on civilians.

This will happen sooner or later in America, unless we completely change the way we do things.

I propose a doctrine of militant isolationism for the United States. The line between who America is in bed with and who we're at war with is altogether too blurry. The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is the most convenient example, receiving billions in foreign aid to fight terror while teaching its youth the well-worn dogma of America as the great Satan. If we are serious about defeating terror as a tactic, more bombs and more troops are the wrong answer.

We must sever all ties of diplomacy, commerce, communication and aid to the Middle East, North Africa and Persia. The oligarchies and theocracies who keep their feet on the necks of the struggling and suffering populace can only operate with the help of American and European governments and businesses. We must make it a crime to consort with them. New information from our own budget watchdogs suggests that the tax dollars we're throwing at the war in Iraq are making their way into the hands of insurgents who are killing our soldiers. We have to get all of our troops out of this part of the world at once.

The oft-repeated plaint about the West being held hostage by Middle Eastern oil is true. We must make concessions to South American countries like Colombia, Venezuela and Bolivia and draw up a friendship pact with China to get the energy we need at reasonable prices. On the homefront, Congress has to lean on American industry now. Machinery must be updated and retrofitted with new technologies that are more energy-efficient and green. This goes for Detroit, too. There's no reason why every new car that rolls off an assembly line by 2007 can't have a hybridized engine under the hood. We must drown out the tired claims of poverty from business leaders -- who stuff their pockets with their employees' pensions -- with the simple wisdom: Pay a little more now, or suffer with the rest of us when oil hits $250 per barrel.

American self-sufficiency, combined with a steadfast policy of isolation toward undemocratic Muslim-run states (and Israel), will starve the terrorist threat of everything it needs to succeed. Something as simple as blocking cellular phone transmissions to blacklisted countries would severely impede the ability of Islamists to carry out even low-level acts of terror.

In America, the left would prefer maintenance of the status quo, while conservatives believe that force of violence is the only way to communicate with the type of individual who would murder noncombatant civilians in city squares. Both are completely wrong and naive. America should reach out to sincere democrats in the region in a subtle and restrained manner. As we witnessed recently in the Iranian elections, American endorsement of political reform in the Middle East is a death knell, even when proposed reforms are popular.

We're in a unique position to cut off these undemocratic, non-representative Islamic governments without dooming ourselves. If the rabid Muslim ethic is egged on by Western corporate globalization and imperialism, let's give them what they want: Let's forbid American industry from conducting business on their turf. When cash flow dries up and there's no money to feed the population, they will rise up and depose tyrants on their own, and it's just as certain that once these revolutions occur, the nations of the Middle East will reach out to America in friendship and trade. Forget about being "greeted as liberators;" the newly freed Arabs, Persians and Pashtuns will thank us for ending the abatement of their oppression and allowing them true self-determination.

In this way, Americans can shake off our "World Police" reputation, save billions of dollars and the lives of thousands of troops, passively and effectively promote democracy, and make a ton of new friends.

This is the way to win the war on terror while minimizing risk to our economy and our troops and without pacifying violent extremists.

09 July 2005

Are We Running A Racket in Iraq? (CS)

In the book Nothing But Freedom Eric Foner examines the conditions and situations following Emancipation in several different societies that supported slavery. In many cases, the former slaves were actually introduced into a system where they were worse off than they had been in bondage. Foner points out that the freedmen were truly given "Nothing but feedom" and thus wound up locked into systems essentially identical (or worse) than slavery, like sharecropping. He also points out that political power was crucial for moving towards escaping this system. What was also important, I think, is that this political system was in place and ready to go before emancipation happened in the United States and also that the former slaves essentially at least had the potential of access to an infrastructure that could improve the quality of life. The American Reconstruction in the South following the Civil War certainly had its failings, but it also had crucial new features important to helping the freedmen establish themselves.

Now we face a certainly different, but equally important Reconstruction in Iraq. We must ask ourselves now when we look at Iraq, having brought them Freedom and Democracy, what have we really given them? Have we succeeded thus far in rebuilding the infrastructure they so despereately need? Have we really gotten rid of Saddam's regime when we hire back his goons and torturers?

As a spoonful of sugar to help the medicine of rebuilding Iraq go down, the plan was proposed to use mostly Iraqi money to rebuild and restore desperately needed amenities and to get their economy up and running. What I always fear (and what I have begun to hear) are reports of people lining their pockets with this money at the expense of these important projects and at the expense of the people that have had to suffer so much already. And now we do indeed have reports by two seperate audit groups which have found gross inadequacies and discrepencies in the book keeping (or lack there of) of the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) and its former director, Paul Bremer. These audit reports have received mention recently in The Guardian and the London Review of Books and i would implore you read the article. The claims are quite appalling, the numbers astounding, the lack of monitering, accountability, and good business practices simply baffling.
Both the US and Iraq have put up large sums of money to go towards the improvement of conditions in Iraq. I have heard of both successes and failures. With the continuous insurgency, it must be difficult to provide consistant amenities like electricity and water. To set up a system that was in disrepair before the war ravaged many major cities is quite an ambitious endeavour. The difficulty in such a task only makes these audit reports of billions of missing dollars all the more disheartening.
Even with the typical administration excuses and encouragements, how do we explain that two seperate audit groups have filed seperate reports testifying to these problems? If you are questioning the intentions of the audit groups themselves, you should note that one was appointed by the International Advisory and Monitoring Board (but still requiring US approval) and the other was the CPA's internal auditors (CPAIG, now the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction or Sigir for short). How is there any explanation that over $8 billion is entirely unaccounted for? How does one explain that "19 billion new Iraqi dinars, worth about £6.5m, was found on a plane in Lebanon that had been sent there by the new Iraqi interior minister" not to mention ""non-deposit of proceeds of export sales of petroleum products into the appropriate accounts in contravention of UN Security Council Resolution 1483."
The House Government Reform Committee Minority Office has at least begun to examine these reports. As always, you are not helpless. You can contact the Senate or The House, you can find your representatives' contact at congress.org or at this directory. Ask them if they are supporting Rep. Waxman's reports and investigation into this matter.
We joke a lot about our government, representatives and superiors in general being crooks. With evidence that they may very well be so, can we sit idly by and let it happen? Can we let the claims of our disingenuous "good intentions" become substantiated because of the greed of a few? Demand accountability, demand action, now.

07 July 2005

I Read The News Today, Oh Boy (CS)

Any number of posts i could have made today will have to take a backseat to the news that cannot be ignored of the bombings in London.
Before saying anything else, I must say, while watching video come in from London as i got ready for work this morning, i was absolutely impressed by the relative calm and resolution that the people of London seemed to show in the face of chaos and tragedy.
No doubt, before the day is done pundits from either side of the ball will begin to spin the bombings as they relate to the war in Iraq and Afghanistan, especially as the first claims of responsibility begin coming in alleging that these bombings were indeed spurred on by England's complicity in those continuing conflicts.
To say that these bombings were the fault of our involvement in Iraq is partly rediculous because these hatreds have much deeper roots than that. Remember 9/11, the first trade tower bombing, the attack in the USS Cole, attacks on US Embassies.... At the same time, we must realize that these hatreds do have roots in actions that were largely our doing. It is not simply because "the West" is "different" or "democratic" that terror is mobilized.
My hope is that this recent tragedy can serve as a wakeup call to the fact that we are not operating under the same paradigm we were 60 years ago. Nowhere near it, in fact. The "enemy" we face now is not in a city we can sack or a leader we can target. I feel that even if Osama Bin Ladin is captured, terrorism will continue. We must bolster intelligence and covert work. We must protect ourselves from these attacks at home. But above all else, if we are to win this new sort of war, we must stop terrorism where it breeds. We must fight strife and international injustice. We cannot continue to bomb villages and take advantage of the destitute in foreign countries. We can no longer so passivly accept the idea of "collateral damage." We cannot kill them with kindness alone, those that are truly filled with hate are not likely to veer from their chosen path. But we can no longer afford to be so careless and thus create so many new enemies.
We have indeed created a difficult situation for ourselves. But, clearly, war (or at the very least, unfocused and practically frivolous war) is no longer the answer.

06 July 2005

Comics Roundup 7/6 (CS)

This month J. Michael Straczynski gets a double dose of two thumbs up (which i guess translates to four thumbs) for his work on Amazing Spider-Man and Fantastic Four. In both books he manages to have a lot of elements in play and yet not overwhelm. He deals with the super-heroic and the personal and utilizes the entire central family within both books.

As for Fantastic Four, by all means start reading Straczynski's run and just avoid the invetible crap that will be the movie. Of course, my biggest gripe with the movie is its complete botch job of the character of Dr. Doom, my favorite villain. If you need your fix of the (literally) iron-fisted ruler of Latveria, check out Runaways #4 & 5, The Hurting's regular Dr Doom mailbag, the recently published trade of Neil Gaiman's 1602, or even this week's strip by Timothy Kreider.

Going back to Amazing Spider-Man, I enjoyed the mini-history lesson about Hitler rising to power on the back of the SA only to murder and replace them with the SS. It gets a bit of the ol' glossing over, but it's still interesting history and I'd recommend looking it up. I guess now that he's living in proximity to Captain America (being a New Avenger), Peter Parker has to deal with the specters of his uncle's generation. Along those same lines, this particular panel gave me pause:

I always struggle a little bit with this idea of "The Greatest Generation." It seems to me that we all too soon forget that this is largely the same generation that brought us overzealous parnoia that reared its ugly head through the persecution of good Americans through McCarthyism and a reactionary foreign policy that got us into trouble in Vietnam and set up the problems we are still dealing with today in the Middle East. By no means do I intend to demean my grandfather's generation. Their victories shall rightfully never be forgotten and if we are to picture the ideal of that generation (and i suppose Steve Rogers certainly qualifies) then we cannot help but be proud. However, I find it important that we not overglorify them so that we may learn from their mistakes as well as we do their triumphs and so we may not forget the often overlooked heroes of that generation who stood up in the face of fear at home as well as abroad.
And finally, just to lighten things up, here's a panel that, taken out of context and not knowing that this is supposed to be Peter Parker (and even if one does know that), should induce some giggles:

02 July 2005

Viva Espana (CS)

Spain sticks it to the Vatican and legalizes gay marriages. It's been a pretty hot-button issue in this country, especially over the past couple years. And sure, there are other issues of equality that gay people (and those that would defend their rights) need to fight for, but I think to most gay people, even those whom don't care for getting married, it is an issue of such symbolic importance to push it to a point of actual effect.
I debate ideas in my head and most issues that i debate in my head i imagine that i'm arguing with my grandmother. Even on some issues where she seems to waver at least a little bit, she still manages to pretty much bite whole heartedly into the general Conservative party line. So here I offer you Me vs. Grandma on Gay Marriage:

Grandma begins by saying, It's just plain unnatural.
To which i ask, Says who? The jury's still out on whether homosexuality happens in the animal world, and there is evidence to suggest that it does. Of course, that is neither here nor there because we are NOT animals. Sure we are like animals and everything is a part of nature, but a dog is not a bear is not a fish is certainly not a human. There are lots of things we don't see in the natural world that humans do. Ever seen a fish build a skyscraper or a cow write poetry? Do you think lions would care for movies or that you might find any animal whatsoever arranging for a ceremonial marriage the way that we do?
And are you telling me, with all the people out there that are indeed homosexual, that honestly love each other or care about one another, that all these people are simply "unnatural" ??

Grandma retorts by saying, Yes, but it is clearly immoral.
At which point i must say, By who's standard aside from religious texts? Are we really going to work by a quote from Leviticus which also tells us we can't eat shellfish or touch pigs and is incredibly fearful of what the body may or may not secrete? For that matter, are our moral standards really coming from a book, of debatable truth, that also asks us to stone people, beat our children with sticks, and justifies selling our daughters into slavery? And this is all to say nothing of the new Testament attitude of "loving thy neighbor" and the manifold contridictions and gaps in logic that "the good book" contains.
Perhaps you can get a sense of your personal morality from your religion, but to enforce that morality by law is, in practice, borderline theocracy. If catholic gay people want to marry each other, then fine, it has become a problem between them and their denomination. But since when are we taking marching orders from the church and the vatican in our rule of law? It's a bit too 17th Century for me to be regulated under the guidance of an institution so consistantly behind the curve as to support the continuation of slavery and take 359 years to get around to apologizing to Galileo.

Grandma asks, But in the end, shouldn't it be a States' Rights issue? Let them decide.
To which I reply, Tell me, just HOW is this different from mixed racial marriages? How is segregation of gay people any different from segregation of black people? Why do equal rights for minorities get champoined under the banner of Civil Rights except when it applies to homosexuals? The Texas gov't says to the gay people in its state, "If you don't like how it is, then leave." Do you think that would fly if the minority group being asked to leave was asian? Or hispanic?

At which point Grandma sighs, But it feels wrong, it just can't be right, it makes me feel uncomfortable, how can they BE like that???
Well obviouisly, i say, mustering patience, we cant just start persecuting things that make you feel uncomfortable. You (and many other people) would feel uncomfortable listening to most of the music i listen to or playing a video game that i like or any number of things. What makes you "uncomfortable" (whether it be due to generational paradigm or who knows what) is still not a standard to legislate by. At this point i realize just what it is that's probably making her uncomfortable and i think it's thus important to mention that it isn't just about sex. Gay people seem to be no more or less sex crazed than straight people, much to the contrary of what seems to be general conservatie opinion. Is it so impossible for two people of the same sex to come together on a level that is not platonic yet not merely sexual? Are you telling me that marriage has only to do with sex? Overall, it seems that it is the "deeply religious" that are so fixated on carnal pleasures.

In the end, laws of liberty mostly apply to the rule of letting people be free to do as they wish, as long as they are not hurting others and Truly, who is being hurt by letting gay people marry? To some it seems like such a trifling thing (and to some quite a big one), but if we cannot see fit to let this group of people be part of such a trifling thing, then how are they ever to obtain the more important aspects of rights and justice?