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"It is better to be drunk with loss and to beat the ground, than to let the deeper things gradually escape."

- I. Compton-Burnett, letter to Francis King (1969)

"Cynical realism – it is the intelligent man’s best excuse for doing nothing in an intolerable situation."

- Aldous Huxley, "Time Must Have a Stop"

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Friday, 23 July 2004

Topic: Election Notes

Follow-Up: The Terrorists Force Our Government to Call Off the November Elections

See the July 18 issue of Just Above Sunset -

Let us not be paranoid ...

Premise? This from CNN -
U.S. officials have discussed the idea of postponing Election Day in the event of a terrorist attack on or about that day, a Homeland Security Department spokesman said Sunday.

... The department wants to know about the possibility of granting emergency power to the newly created U.S. Election Assistance Commission, authority that [DoJ spokesman Brian] Roehrkasse said was requested by DeForest B. Soaries Jr., the commission's chairman.

Soaries, who was appointed by President Bush, is a former New Jersey secretary of state and senior pastor of the 7,000-member First Baptist Church of Lincoln Gardens in Somerset, New Jersey.
Comment last week?
Such an attack might make some folks, a few, maybe many, think that Bush and his foolish war brought this down on us all. They might blame him. And get really angry. And not vote for him.

This now makes sense. There's a big attack in early November. This could be the final straw that turns the solidly Bush folks against him. Canceling the election then makes perfect sense.

But martial law would be easier. And no one would have to die.

The idea is this - just after Labor Day the administration declares marshal law and just cancels the elections indefinitely, and heck, Bush can declare himself president for life, supported by the army. His wife, Laura, can even change her name to Eva if she wants. And al-Qaeda thus has no reason to attack. We can go on as usual. The stock market soars. Osama bin Laden gets all grumpy.

This could work.
And this from last week - Paranoia Take Two... -
The Madrid Scenario

But Tom Ridge is ... suggesting that IF there is an attack BEFORE the scheduled election, THEN perhaps we should postpone voting to avoid people making hasty decisions about who should lead the country for another fours years. Well, he's not exactly saying that. That is certainly implied in what he's saying, but not explicit. "Disruptions to the process" is his tune here. He's implying that voting in such a circumstance could not really be fair - as some precincts and polling places would be, well, wiped out. And everyone else would be all upset - at least far more upset than they are now. I think his idea is that it would just make sense not to hold an election when events are so dire. But some people see events now as dire.

This second argument is far weaker. In this Madrid Scenario the authority of the president to suspend laws - to suspend certain constitution rights - seems less clear than the first case, stopping the elections to save lives. In the Madrid Scenario many people are already dead. Efforts to assure public safety, in this case, have already failed. So why not hold the election and do the best you can? You might have to step over a few smoldering bodies to get to the voting booth, but in that case you probably would really WANT to vote?

In this Madrid Scenario I suspect that is what really worries the Bush Administration. After all, these guys keep saying - Hey, really, we made things safer for you all, we really did - trust us, we really did!

But then the Democratic Party has its convention starting in Boston on the 26th, and that is a target. And the Republicans meet some weeks latter in Manhattan. That is also a target.

We live in dangerous times - see More to be said - Kafka and Soft Power for a discussion of this....

Fortress America
George Bush's re-election hopes may well hang on al-Qaida's ruthless ingenuity
Timothy Garton Ash, The Guardian (UK), Thursday July 22, 2004

In short, Ash contends that Bush's election chances may depend on the ruthless ingenuity of al-Qaida, while Kerry's election chances may depend on the ability of Bush's department of homeland security to combat it.

It's not a pretty picture. Dangerous times.

From Bob Patterson - The World's Laziest Journalist -
Here is some "hard core" commentary.

Today, Republicans and Democrats both are saying "We're safe." Then they go on to say another big one is on the way.

If America takes another big hit will it help or hurt Bush?

If he says we are safe and nothing happens, Kerry can't claim, "I told you we were safe!"

George W. can.

If he says we are safe and we get hit before the elections, it's another WMD "whoops!" moment. That might get Kerry a few extra votes.

Will such an attack help or hurt Bush? He says we are safe, so Osama could do George W. a big favor by postponing the attack until after November 2nd. November 11th would be a very mean choice, wouldn't it?

However, if Osama wants to be very, very nasty and rub George W.'s nose in it and help him at the same time, he could do one thing.

What if the Democratic Convention takes a WTC style hit? Could the surviving (mostly low level) Democrats field an alternative slate of nation wide candidates by November 2nd? (Can Democrats bicker among themselves?)

If we make it through next week, then I say Osama will kick back until after the elections.

Will there be an October surprise and a well-televised arrest of Osama? Is Osama really doing the camp-out in the mountains routine? Or did he slip into Iran without getting his passport stamped?

I think George W. is "spot on" saying "We're safe" until November 2nd.

I could be wrong. What odds are those British bookies (who let folks bet on anything) giving on this?

Agree or disagree?
Well, I think I get it where Bob is going with this. The bad guys want four more years of GWB and overt holy war without diplomacy - and thus any pre-election terrorist attack would undermine the GWB contention that what he has done, specifically in Iraq, has made us all lots safer. Such an attack would make him look like a fool - or more of one. Thus, oddly enough, we actually ARE safer - and GWB wins. Everybody - the bad guys AND the good guys - is happy. And NYC goes boom in early December, after the election - and then we're all stuck with buyer's remorse?

And any big pre-election terrorist attack would only marginally help Kerry because although some (a very few) would say GWB's war made this new attack happen - he stirred up an awful mess, needlessly (and incompetently) - most folks would say GWB was RIGHT and we need to kill all the swarthy Islamic monsters? Kerry wouldn't be forceful enough. And he speaks French. We'd rally round GWB - who turned out to be wise after all?

So then, GWB can't lose - either way. He's got it covered. Not to worry.

Is that it?

So then, GWB can't lose - either way. He's got it covered. Not to worry.

Is that it?

Bob Patterson - The World's Laziest Journalist - answers - "Ahhhhh, grasshopper, at last, you see it clearly."

And he adds -
I asked my contact in Britain about the Brit bookies and the odds for the presidential election. He indicates it's even. Same odds for both guys.

Here is (with links) his report:

Hi Bob -

Have just done a basic search for UK bookmakers and the US Presidential election.

William Hill, the top UK bookmaker, is going with the American trend, by the looks of things, offering 5/6 for both Kerry and Bush.

Actually, I think most bookmakers are offering similarly similar odds, if the following comparison is anything to go by:

Should be interesting, come what may.
Indeed so.

But for some it is more than a matter of idle interest.

Consider the case of someone often writing in these pages, Rick, the News Guy from Atlanta -
Before my wife (note below) flew off to Boston earlier this week, she and I casually discussed which convention city Osama would want to hit most -- Boston, in order to knock off what he'd probably see as the "goody-goody" Americans, leaving this a war between civilizations as it ought to be fought, between "true" Islam and the "true" American jerks; or New York, just to show the rest of the Islamic world that "true" American jerks can be whacked with impunity?

But then, after the realization hit home that she would be in both these cities for either or both of these attacks, we just stopped talking about it.

So it basically comes down to what she has told the leaders of both parties over the years when they've tried to consult her and her counterparts at the other networks on how to make these events more "TV friendly": "Hey, don't ask us, just do whatever you think you need to do! After all, even if you hold the goddamned thing underwater, we'll be there to cover it!"

(Note) - She is the CNN VP in charge of setting up its coverage operation for the political year, including the primaries, debates, conventions, election night, and even the inauguration in early 2005.
Whatever they pay Rick's wife, it's not enough. Note to self - stop making fun of news people (except for those who work at Fox and the NY Post for Roger Ailes and Rupert Murdoch).

Well, perhaps nothing will happen at the party conventions - at least no terrorist attacks. That would be just like al-Qaeda, getting us all worried and keeping us off balance, and laughing up their sleeves at our paranoia when nothing really happens. They call us fools, then, of course.

But then again, maybe something spectacular will happen at one of the conventions, and Rick's wife, instead of covering an inauguration in early 2005, will be covering a coronation, with whatever staff she has left.

And all we can do for now is be frightened, very frightened? I guess.

That does feel like we're winning.


Note -

Frank Rich this weekend has something to say about this all.

Pop culture takes on the fear game
Frank Rich
International Herald Tribune, Friday, July 23, 2004
New York Times, Sunday, July 25, 2004
You can't blame the broadcast networks for cutting their convention coverage to a fig-leaf minimum of just three hours of prime time spread over four nights. That's what both parties deserve for having steadily sanded down their quadrennial celebrations into infomercials with all the spark and spontaneity of the televised Yule Log. But though few want to say so aloud, there is one potential last-minute ingredient that would instantly bring back gavel-to-gavel coverage on the Big Three: a terrorist attack. That fearful possibility is both conventions' sole claim to suspense.

It is also the subtext of this entire presidential campaign. A late-June USA Today/CNN poll shows that 55 percent of Americans feel less safe because of the war in Iraq - a figure that has spiked 22 points in merely six months. Fear rules. Fear rocks. Fear of terrorism is George W. Bush's only second-term platform to date (unless you count fear of same-sex marriage). Let John Kerry roll out John Edwards as his running mate, and Tom Ridge rushes to grab back the television spotlight by predicting that Al Qaeda will "disrupt our democratic process." Never mind that he had no "precise knowledge" of such an attack or any plans to raise his color-coded threat level; his real mission, to wield fear as a weapon of mass distraction, had been accomplished. Odds are that the next John Ashcroft doomsday press conference will be timed to coincide with the run-up to Kerry's acceptance speech on Thursday night.

In the fear game, the Democrats are the visiting team, playing at a serious disadvantage. Out of power, they can't suit up officials at will to go on camera to scare us. Kerry is reduced instead to incessantly repeating the word "strength" and promising to put "a national coordinator for nuclear terrorism" in the cabinet. That will hardly cut it against these ingenious opponents. Every time a Bush administration official tells us the apocalypse is coming, the president himself brags that he has made America "safer." The message is in the bad news-good news contradiction: The less safe Americans feel, the more likely they'll play it safe on Election Day by sticking with the happy face they know.

Yet the Democrats still can't be counted out. They do have one card to play that the Republicans do not: pop culture. With a vengeance that recalls the Clinton-hating echo chamber when it was fantasizing about the "murder" of Vincent Foster, big guns in the culture industry are rousing themselves into a war-room frenzy of anti-Bush hysteria that goes well beyond fielding an inept talk-radio network and producing documentaries for the base at Their method for countering the Bush-Cheney monopolization of fear is to turn the administration into an object of fear in its own right.
Then he goes on to discuss the new version of "The Manchurian Candidate" as a subversive movie.

But his points are the same. Fear rules.

Posted by Alan at 22:17 PDT | Post Comment | Permalink
Updated: Saturday, 24 July 2004 08:18 PDT home

Topic: Election Notes

Follow Up: The Uses of Religion

See in the Just Above Sunset archives -

July 4, 2004: Heresy - In the Specific Religious (and Los Angeles) Meaning of the Term

Excerpt -

The Bush campaign is working hard on "reaching out" churchgoers according to this in the Washington Post. In short, the Bush-Cheney reelection campaign has sent a detailed plan of action to religious volunteers across the country asking them to turn over church directories to the campaign, distribute issue guides in their churches and persuade their pastors to hold voter registration drives.

Now this could cause any one of these churches to lose its tax-exempt status. These churches might become de facto and then de jure political organizations. But there is Republican-sponsored legislation working its way through the halls of congress to have that change of status be considered only after three violations of the rules on these matters. Think of this change in the law as an exemption made so you can keep your exemption. If you're a golfer - think of it as a "two Mulligan" rule.

But what are you being asked to do?
By July 31, for example, volunteers are to "send your Church Directory to your State Bush-Cheney '04 Headquarters or give [it] to a BC04 Field Rep" and "Talk to your Pastor about holding a Citizenship Sunday and Voter Registration Drive."

By Aug. 15, they are to "talk to your Church's seniors or 20-30 something group about Bush/Cheney '04" and "recruit 5 more people in your church to volunteer for the Bush Cheney campaign."

By Sept. 17, they are to host at least two campaign-related potluck dinners with church members, and in October they are to "finish calling all Pro-Bush members of your church," "finish distributing Voter Guides in your church" and place notices on church bulletin boards or in Sunday programs "about all Christian citizens needing to vote."
You got a problem with that?

So much for the excerpt. That was three weeks ago.

This week?

GOP Seeks Catholic Parish Directories
Douglass K. Daniel, Associated Press, Posted on Thursday, July 22, 2004

The Southern Baptist Convention, a conservative denomination that one could say is rather tight with President Bush, was offended by this Bush-Cheney effort. Really offended.

What about the Catholics? Here's the scoop -
The Republican National Committee has asked Bush-backing Roman Catholics to provide copies of their parish directories to help register Catholics to vote in the November election, a use of personal information not necessarily condoned by dioceses around the country.

In a story posted Thursday on its Web site, the National Catholic Reporter said a GOP official had urged people who attended a Catholic outreach event in January to provide parish directories and membership lists to the political party.

"Access to these directories is critical as it allows us to identify and contact those Catholics who are likely to be supportive of President Bush's compassionate conservative agenda," wrote Martin J. Gillespie, director of Catholic Outreach at the RNC. "Please forward any directories you are able to collect to my attention."

The RNC is using the information from parish directories only for its nonpartisan voter registration drive, RNC spokeswoman Christine Iverson told The Associated Press on Thursday.
Those efforts target members of other faiths as well as people who belong to nonreligious organizations, she said.
Well, the Catholic Church IS considering excommunicating Kerry for his stance that the woman should make any decision regarding abortion, not the government. And the Catholic Church is considering excommunicating anyone who confesses to voting for him. It makes sense.

But the AP notes these parish directories often contain personal information about church members, including names of family members, home addresses and phone numbers. That's personal information. Give it all to the GOP election team? Should the Church cooperate anyway, as this is, one might conclude, an endeavor to make the world less sinful?

Does that make it okay?

It seems one Susan Gibbs, the spokeswoman for the Catholic Archdiocese of Washington, DC, which oversees 140 parishes in Washington and Maryland, says parish directories publish information only for use among church members and not for use by outside organizations no matter what their purpose. And AP quotes her saying, "Parish directories are for helping parishioners get to know each other better and are strictly for that purpose. They are not intended to be used for any outside commercial purpose, solicitations or anything else. Parish directories or priest directories are not given to outside groups even if it's for a good cause."

But isn't this about saving souls and preventing the murder of (sort of) children - or so it would seem. That's what Bush is doing, right?

Rebecca Summers of the office of communications for the Catholic Diocese of Kansas City-Saint Joseph - and that's ninety Catholic parishes in Missouri - is quoted as saying, "I'm not certain under any scenario that we would encourage someone responding to that appeal - for any purpose, whether it would be an environmental cause or any purpose other than what the people volunteered the information for."

Why do these two - Susan and Rebecca - hate America and want children murdered?

The Catholic Church is edging toward taking up the righteous sword for Bush, and against Kerry. But there is some grumbling.

The Bush approach to all issues - that there is no middle ground - will force the Catholic Church to choose.

Will they side with the Devil? And who is the Devil here?

Posted by Alan at 20:56 PDT | Post Comment | Permalink
Updated: Friday, 23 July 2004 21:04 PDT home

Topic: Election Notes

Follow-Up: Kansas

Last week in Kansas and the FMA: Frankly, my dear, I don't give a ... The Importance of Martyrdom to the Conservative Movement you will find a discussion of Thomas Frank, the fellow who wrote the recent book "What's the Matter with Kansas? How Conservatives Won the Heart of America" - and that was mentioned in Just Above Sunset the previous week in The Book Wrangler, Bob Patterson's column. There are lots of reviews available, should you find the topic of interest - how the "heart of America" is now solidly conservative evangelical Christian Republican and pro-big-business, anti-gay, anti-abortion and of course totally anti-French and anti-UN and anti-Canadian, and certainly against any kind of special treatment for "colored folks" and against any public services for those dusky immigrants who talk in funny languages, and against the public school system and all the rest. You know, the folks who long for a Christian theocracy to counter the evil folks out in Hollywood - like me.

How did that happen? Oh, read the book.

Eric Alterman has and reviews it in American Progress this week - July 22nd - under the title Think Again: 'As Goes Kansas...'- and he opens referring to a famous line that opens Anna Karenina, if memory serves.
All nations are unique, as either George Orwell or Leo Tolstoy might have said had either one thought about it, but some are unique-er than others. Because it is unique in so many ways simultaneously, the United States of America is perhaps unique-est. How you feel about this depends on your personal priorities. If for instance, you hate counting in meters or measuring things by kilograms, or if you think it's everybody's God-given right to own an automatic submachine gun, then this is pretty much the only country for you. The same is true, alas, if you think it perfectly natural that people living from paycheck to paycheck should support a political party whose aim is to redistribute what little wealth they enjoy to millionaires and billionaires.

The conundrum remains barely acknowledged by the political media, but the question of just why much of the American working class, alone among those of capitalist democracies, should support the party of plutocracy is the topic of Thomas Frank's new book, "What's the Matter With Kansas? How Conservatives Have Won the Heart of America." As Frank noted in a recent op-ed, "You can see the paradox firsthand on nearly any Main Street in Middle America, where "going out of business" signs stand side by side with placards supporting George W. Bush," and yet no one seems to find anything odd or interesting in this paradox.
That sums it up in a nutshell. People working against their own self-interests, or for higher interests.

What is that about? This -
... the American right has found a way to exploit "social issues" such as school prayer, immigration and gay marriage to obscure their positions on the typical "bread-and-butter" issues that dominate virtually every other industrialized nation's elections and used to determine ours. Frank finds the So-Called Liberal Media (SCLM) complicit in this operation. He writes that "Conservatives are only able to compartmentalize business as a realm totally separate from politics because the same news media whose "liberal bias" [they] love to deride has long accepted such compartmentalism as a basic element of professional journalistic practice."
Thus it is a shell game. Business and politics are NOT connected. We are fed a stream of disinformation -
...that so-called Blue-state Midwestern America is a land where traditional American values survive the relentless assault of effete latte-consuming liberals who laugh at the rural rubes and teach their children French. "For more than three decades," Frank opines, that conservatives in America have relied on the "culture war" to rescue their chances every four years, from Richard Nixon's campaign against the liberal news media to George H. W. Bush's campaign against the liberal flag-burners. In this culture war, the real divide is between "regular people" and an endlessly scheming "liberal elite." This strategy allows them to depict themselves as friends of the common people even as they gut workplace safety rules and lay plans to turn Social Security over to Wall Street. Most important, it has allowed these same class-warriors to speak the language of populism."
Yep, a neat trick. You may be screwed over by big business, but at least they won't force you to learn French and make nice with those odd gay people. You're life may be an economic shambles, but you're not a sissy.

The trick?
By casting the right as the guardians of traditional American values, conservatives effectively crowd out any discussion of the effect on everyday Americans' lives of their beggar-thy-neighbor economic policies.
And folks buy it.

Alterman cites reviews of Frank's thesis - Josh Chafetz in the New York Times Book Review saying, "A large number of the Democratic faithful view the Midwest and evangelical Christians as socially backward, politically amusing and religiously nutty -- and the objects of this disdain are sick of it. The more than 65 million Midwesterners are sick of being considered `flyover country' ... The estimated 70 million evangelical Americans are sick of being called wing nuts or Jesus freaks. And the socially conservative are sick of being derided as Neanderthals."

The idea is Frank has it wrong - these people are truly aggrieved.

And Alterman cites George Will saying Frank's arguments show the kind of "fevered thinking [that] is a staple of what historian Richard Hofstadter called 'the paranoid style in American politics,' a style practiced, even pioneered, a century ago by prairie populists. You will hear its echo in John Edwards's lament about the "two Americas" -- the few rich victimizing the powerless many."

Yep. They aren't victims of an economic conspiracy - these people are truly aggrieved.

Well, maybe they are, and they'd rather be screwed over economically than made fun of.

But Alterman says this is a particularly cynical strategy - "because it is predicated not only obscuring the political interests of those whose emotions are manipulated, but also because the forces behind it have little if any interest in actually delivering on the cultural issues with which they manage to muddy up debate."

Yep, the FMA went down in flames and we are no closer to the longer-for evangelical Christian theocracy that would make things all better in Kansas - or not that much closer.

But as the original Just Above Sunset comments, martyrdom is key to the appeal of the conservative movement. And Alterman is right - Democrats and liberals have had little success preaching a populist economic agenda in areas of the nation where so-called "family values" reign supreme.

When you are feeling, deeply, put upon - and intensely aggrieved - logic is a scare commodity.

Oh well. Bush will carry Kansas. His folks know what buttons to push.

The Democrats have no clue. FDR is long gone.

Posted by Alan at 20:27 PDT | Post Comment | Permalink
Updated: Friday, 23 July 2004 20:55 PDT home

Topic: Photos

Out here today...

The closest beach to Hollywood - Venice Beach - down the hill, turn right on Washington Boulevard, drive the three or four miles to the water, park, and watch surfers...

Posted by Alan at 14:44 PDT | Post Comment | Permalink

Thursday, 22 July 2004

Topic: The Law

Checks and Balances - Stopping the Activist Judges from Destroying Life As We know It

A bill was passed by the US House of Representatives this week that singles out one specific class of citizens and denies them access to the federal courts to defend their civil rights.


No it wasn't Jews or Scientologists in this special class. Nor was it black folks, nor guys named Dwayne from Ohio. And it wasn't uppity women named Hillary or Whoopi.

Here's the deal:

Bill preventing federal courts from legalizing same-sex 'marriage' passes House, 233-194
Michael Foust, Baptist Press News of the Southern Baptist Convention, Thursday, July 22, 2004

The bare-bones story -
WASHINGTON (BP)--The House of Representatives passed a bill July 22 that prevents federal courts from legalizing same-sex "marriage" nationwide, giving traditionalists a significant victory just one week after the Senate blocked a vote on a constitutional marriage amendment.

The bill, dubbed the Marriage Protection Act, passed on a mostly party-line vote of 233-194. It faces an uncertain future in the Senate but has the support of President Bush.

The bill protects states by preventing federal courts -- including the Supreme Court -- from reviewing the Defense of Marriage Act, the 1996 law that gives individual states the option of not recognizing another state's same-sex "marriages" and prevents the federal government from recognizing homosexual "marriage."
Got it? Pass a law that says the courts have no authority to review a particular law. Pretty clever! Bush is happy with it.

... The major pro-family groups -- including the Family Research Council, the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission and Concerned Women for America -- supported the bill as a short-term solution until a constitutional amendment can be passed.

"This should be a warning to politicians everywhere that this is an issue that is not going away and it is an issue where there is tremendous interest and conviction," ERLC President Richard Land told Baptist Press.

The bill's passage, Land said, "furthers the momentum" of the defense of marriage movement.

"It does send a message to the judiciary that people are really getting fed up with their attempts to become our unelected rulers," he said.

But Land said a constitutional marriage amendment is still needed.
Of course. One suspect this odd new law, should it move to the Senate, isn't going to fly, no matter how hard Bush lobbies for it.

The legal grounds?
... The bill's chief sponsor, Rep. John Hostettler, R.-Ind., pointed to Article III, Section 2 of the U.S. Constitution, which states in part: "[T]he Supreme Court shall have appellate jurisdiction, both as to law and fact, with such exceptions, and under such regulations as the Congress shall make." Section 1 states that Congress "ordain[s]" and "establish[es]" the lower courts.

Hostettler also pointed to Article I, Section 8, and Article IV, Section 1.

"The United States Constitution is very clear -- Congress has the authority to create inferior federal courts," Hostettler said. "Congress [also] has the authority to make exceptions and regulations with regard to all of the appellate cases that come before the Supreme Court."
Really? I suppose, bit it seems a stretch.

A bit of background from Kevin Drum -
This section of the constitution is beloved of wingnuts everywhere who dream of stripping the Supreme Court of jurisdiction over a wide range of pet issues: abortion, Jim Crow, school prayer, you name it. Pass a law that includes an Article 3, Section 2 exemption, and bingo! The Supreme Court can't declare it unconstitutional. At any given time, there are usually at least half a dozen Article 3, Section 2 bills languishing in various committees.

Normally that's exactly where they stay, because cooler heads -- even those who basically agree with the wingnuts -- realize that opening this particular Pandora's Box is a very, very bad idea. After all, once you exempt one thing, where will it stop? You'd be starting a Niagara sized pissing contest.

(Plus there's no telling if the Supreme Court would recognize such an exemption anyway, since it would effectively do away with judicial review.)

Still, the wingnuts keep dreaming...
Obviously the right, conservative flip side of "I have a dream...."

BP also reports that John Dingell, Democrat of Michigan called the bill an "extraordinary piece of arrogance." And Jim McGovern, Democrat of Massachusetts called it a "mean-spirited, discriminatory and misguide distraction" and said it violated the "separation of powers." Yeah, but Jim is from evil godless Massachusetts after all. Jim also added - "Under this bill, for the first time in our long history, a person could be denied access to the federal courts when that person claims that a federal statute violates the Constitution," McGovern said.

Yeah, Jim, but that person is a flaming queen - so what's the problem?

This detail from the Saint Louis Post-Dispatch -
Critics contend the bill is politically motivated and unconstitutional.

Akin called preventing same-sex marriage "central to the survival of society." He argued that courts frequently overstep their authority when deciding cases related to marriage laws. "They do much better when they do their job, which is to read the Constitution and rule strictly on what the Constitution says," he said.

But William and Mary law school professor Michael Gerhardt, who testified before Congress about Akin's bill last month, said he believes it violates the Constitution's equal protection clause.

"You're saying in effect that these people can't have access to the federal courts but everybody else can, and I just think that kind of classification would not likely be upheld," Gerhardt said.
Yep. It would probably not be upheld. But Bush does want it.

Andrews Sullivan, the Republican gay writer, who says he's pro-war and conservative as they come, gets on his high horse about this -
The bill that passed yesterday singles out gay citizens and denies them access to the federal courts to defend their civil rights. The arguments are so transparent. Does the Defense of Marriage Act violate the constitution? Then amend the constitution, the Republicans say. If you cannot amend the constitution, knee-cap the courts. And all this is defended with the rhetoric of a man like James Sensenbrenner, who declared, "Marriage is under attack!" By whom, sir? All gay people want is to join civil marriage, and be a part of their own families. To describe this deep human need, this conservative impulse, as an "attack" on an institution revered by many homosexuals and their families is itself a piece of callous demonization. And the precedent is chilling. If gays can be singled out and denied access to the courts, why not other minorities? Blacks? Hispanics? If the Republicans can do this to exclude gays from access to the courts, why couldn't Democrats one day do it to prevent conservative Christians? I loved this quote from a news story:

The nonpartisan Congressional Research Service said it could find no precedent for Congress passing a law to limit federal courts from ruling on the constitutionality of another law, although Democrats said opponents of civil rights legislation tried to do the same thing.

Yes, today's Republicans are now the inheritors of those Democrats who did all they could to prevent African-Americans from winning their civil rights.

A QUESTION OF RESPECT: Here's a simple question: Can you think of any other minority targeted by a single party for discrimination? Did the GOP cushion this by saying anything in defense of gay people or families? Did they signal that they could support, say, civil unions? Did they say this gag on the courts was sufficient and the FMA was now redundant? Nah - they promised to amend the Constitution as well, if they can. The only faintly civil impulse is the president's declaration that the debate should be conducted with respect. I will grant the president the benefit of the doubt on this if and when he ever says the words "gay and lesbian citizens." It is the first mark of respect to call people by their name. But he won't. We are unmentionable to him - because if he ever named us, he would humanize us, and if he humanized us, it would become clear how callous and divisive his policies are. I am amused by the fuss made by Bush's refusal to visit the NAACP, and go to the Urban League instead. Isn't it telling that no one even asks whether the president has met with any group representing millions of his fellow gay Americans? Think about that for a minute. It will tell you a lot about this president's ability to be a uniter of this country, rather than a desperately self-interested divider. Some of us in the gay world have gone out on a very long limb to defend this president on the war, and even endorsed him when he promised to be inclusive. He has rewarded us with exclusion, contempt and acquiescence in our demonization. What are we supposed to do in return? Vote for him?
Andy, Andy, Andy.... You supported Bush and his war and his tax-breaks for the rich and his screw-the-environment policies for so very long. You've been used.

But it doesn't matter. You're gay.

Welcome to Germany, 1938 ... and you asked for it.

Posted by Alan at 21:11 PDT | Post Comment | Permalink
Updated: Friday, 23 July 2004 08:02 PDT home

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