Thursday, May 29, 2003
My Church, My State
Via Andrew Sullivan. David Horowitz cuts to the heart of the discussion of gay tolerance in FrontPage magazine.com. Horowitz is, as my spouse would put it, "too hip for the room." (That is, I'm not completely sure the people he's talking about will even understand his piece.) The crux of the matter is simply "to what degree should our political discussions be framed by our private convictions?" It's the issue for our age.
So much of the religious right--that group under the tent that I call "the Christian Taliban," and wish would get the hell out--is simply confused about what should be public, and what should be private.
Their are a couple of problems with not knowing the distinction. The practical difficulty is that gay votes are critical if G.W. Bush is going to get re-elected. And the philosphical problem is: if we are really planning on letting the religious faith of a few people determine what is legal and illegal--what gets you put in jail, and what is permissible--then we are no better than the Taliban. And the only response the Christian right can have to this is: "but it's different, because ours is the right faith."
And what if it is the right faith? It's still a disgusting argument to make: "it's all right if I impose my private morality on others, because mine is the good kind."
Out of the tent. Shoo!
5/29/2003 03:27:00 AM
Wednesday, May 28, 2003
My first post is now up on Kate's Slutertarian web site. Just scroll on down (of course, checking out the excellent other departments along the way, such as the Department of Commerce and Money-Grubbing, and the Department of Agriculture and Grow Your Own). I'm the last department down--the Ministry of Culture. My focus will always be on gay rights/acceptance, though I warned her I might just break down and talk about guns at some point. (What is it about chick bloggers?--we're all armed to the teeth. Had you noticed?)
And be sure to peruse Kate's main site as well: always worth it. Well researched, with a wealth of goodies.
5/28/2003 02:55:00 AM
Don't forget to drop by the beginning blogger's showcase at The Truth Laid Bear. There are a couple of reasons for going Right This Minute, Without Delay: 1) though this is a weekly contest, there won't likely be another with this many fascinating entries; 2) you can check out my contribution, now at #20 [I looked for something that was short and snappy--hard to find in AttilaLand, except for Little Miss Attila herself]; 3) if you are yourself a blogger, you can VOTE FOR ME. Just follow the link back here, and then post the link to that entry on your own blog. The more I'm linked, the better life gets for me and everyone who has to put up with me. Just ask my long-suffering husband.
5/28/2003 02:42:00 AM
Tuesday, May 27, 2003
Lions and Tigers and Republicans!--Oh, My!
In a story called The Young Hipublicans the New York Times magazine goes at it in a badly edited piece rife with stereotypes about loafer-wearing GOP preppies--which it admits shatter into tiny pieces when one looks at today's right-wing campus activists.
There is the expected verbiage about how badly the campus left is botching things these days. There are complaints from professors that their words is no longer accepted as gospel--that today's young are growing--gasp!--skeptical about liberal theories put forth in the classroom. There is the implication that Republican students are somehow being manipulated by nationwide right-wing groups run by middle-aged political operatives.
Most of all, there is fear. Palpable fear.
It was an utter delight to read.
5/27/2003 02:13:00 PM
Yes, it's over; I'm late. But as far as I'm concerned, it's still Monday until I go to sleep.
I fear I caved in to the societal attitude that it's all about grilling (this could also reflect my minor--and closeted--foodie tendancies). And there's also the fact that in my household Memorial Day weekend is Anniversary Weekend--so we were obliged to celebrate the end of Year Six After Our Nuptials. (At least, to begin the process. We plan to give each other stuff all week, concluding with the FMA [Funniest Man Alive--my husband] taking me out to dinner next weekend. Don't send cards; just blogroll me.)
But it's worth taking a moment to reflect on the huge sacrifices made by men and women* in all the wars fought to secure and preserve our freedom since the very beginning. This really is a national funeral, and we need to find a way back to that notion: even if there is some sort of trip over Memorial Day weekend--and even if the grill gets dusted off at some point therein--each of us needs to fold some sort of ceremony of remembrance into that three-day window. Say a special prayer. Talk about the fallen in this past war and all the others. Talk to your spouse. Talk to your parents. Talk to your children. Don't forget.
I know my spouse doesn't forget: he's working on a book about Vietnam that began with a particular Marine battle and blossomed into what that entire war ("police action," whatever) meant to the country. And to him, personally. (He was just a little too young to go himself.) But we need prayers and rituals for all the fallen. We need to feel that gratitude--and when we have kids, to impart it to them.
Next year I'll start the weekend by lighting a candle in gratitude for my marriage--and I'll end it lighting a candle in gratitude to those soldiers who made the ultimate sacrifice. So I could live in the greatest possible freedom. So I could write my opinions in a blog, finish my book, and live in peace in the hills near L.A.
In between, of course, I will definitely grill some chicken.
* Women have been fighting in wars since the Revolutionary War. And I'm not just talking about Molly Pitcher; many have successfully cross-dressed and passed themselves off as young men in order to fight. End of women's history lecture. Now go read about Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony.
5/27/2003 04:37:00 AM
Sunday, May 25, 2003
Tart Enough for Ya?
Amish Tech Support delivers commentary on the Middle East with a twist of lemon--
First, Amir Taheri writes:
"Arab News: Mideast Peace Between Illusions and Solutions
How might the context change in this case? The first step is to hold free elections so that the Palestinians have a chance to choose between peace and war. Given a chance, the Palestinians will choose peace. Despite his financial and organizational clout, Arafat is unlikely to win a majority in free and fair elections, especially if Abu Mazen joins the moderate center that currently holds a third of the seats in the Parliament. Radical groups are likely to end up with 30 percent of the votes. It is important that they be integrated in the system."
And, the rather dark take on it in Amish Tech Support:
"'Free and fair' elections are meaningless in an Arabic/Islamic state. I guess from Amir Taheri's standpoint, anything other than Saudi Arabia's hybrid theocracy/monarchy is considered free and fair, just like yesterday's editorial that said that Morocco is an open and free democracy under a king who jails newspaper editors who insult him."
"'Radical groups' refers to terrorist groups like Hamas, Hezbollah, Islamic Jihad, PFLP, Fatah, and pretty much any group of four or more Palestinians sitting around a table without Mah Jong tiles on it. Just like the last set of farcical elections blessed by the delusional Jimmy Carter, any other Palestinian ballot will be both corrupted by Arafat and boycotted by every other political wing of the usual 'Kill All The Jews' terrorist entities."
I fear he's right, and I pray he's wrong.
5/25/2003 03:54:00 AM
Saturday, May 17, 2003
Talk About Your Bioterror
I'll soon be writing for the divine Venomous Kate as Minister of Culture at her new Slutertarian web site (motto: "keep your hands off our porn and our guns"). Stay tuned. The Slutertarians are a new political party, "born in the blogosphere" and devoted to liberty. And, of course, sluttiness. I'm sure I know something about at least one of those subjects.
5/17/2003 03:34:00 AM
Maybe It Is All About the Food
One more tip of the hat to Katie. Check out the friday five.
1. What drinking water do you prefer -- tap, bottle, purifier, etc.?
I don't give a damn, as long as it has tea in it.
2. What are your favorite flavor of chips?
I don't eat that stuff, unless you're being Teddibly Breetish, and you mean French Fries.
3. Of all the things you can cook, what dish do you like the most?
Are you really asking me to choose between grilled lamb and Cheerios with milk?
4. How do you have your eggs?
In an omelette. Of course.
5. Who was the last person who cooked you a meal? How did it turn out?
As usual. He made come crazy-ass Middle Eastern stuff. Then we made fun of a mutual friend and shared a cigar. What?--you do it differently?
5/17/2003 03:31:00 AM
I'm still working on my blogroll, folks. Please be patient, as I have a Life Out There, and can only devote little snippets of time to this--mostly when I'm supposed to be sleeping, like normal people--and my husband--do at night. Wait . . . that didn't sound right. Love you, Dear. Welcome back.
5/17/2003 03:31:00 AM
Tuesday, May 13, 2003
If you're here because David Adesnik at Oxblog sent you, the post he's referring to is the "founding fathers" piece--just scroll down a bit. I'm thrilled that Oxblog mentioned me, and that the boys are now responding to my notes. This
*could* be because they like my writing. Or it could be that one of them ran across my posting on the "Saddam's statue" issue, in which I linked *their* favorite de-bunking of the "staging conspiracy theory," and referred to the Oxbloggers collectively as "stud/gods."
* * * * * *
In other news, the Saudis may have to figure out what side they are on. Quickly.
5/13/2003 11:42:00 PM
Sunday, May 11, 2003
Keeping Your Spirits Up
I've invented something terribly useful and fun: the mini-Manhattan. You take 3/4 (okay: 4/5) of an ounce of whiskey, and add about half that amount of dry vermouth. (Sweet vermouth if you're normal. But I like my Manhattans dry.) Toss in a drop of bitters, and maybe a lemon twist if you've got it.
This produces a tiny cocktail--with something like an ounce and half of liquor--suitable to a little person, with two important virtues: 1) It doesn't result in a blog entry that reads, "Hillary Clinton is a poopy head. Poopy head, poopy head, poopy head." 2) This hypothetical small person can have a second one, if she really wants it. And she usually does.
Please pass this along to all your short female friends. And consider it my first entry in *The Complete Bartender's Guide for Women Under 5'3".*
5/11/2003 11:40:00 PM
Thursday, May 08, 2003
I managed, initially, to place the SiteMeter icon in the worst possible place on this site (I wanted it at the bottom, but I was inept--and it had a mind of its own--so it perched itself briefly in the upper-left corner). My biologist friend Professor D. wrote me, "Speaking of federal intrusiveness, I notice a little box in the upper left hand corner of your website that says 'Size Meter'. Should I be feeling unsecure about anything here?"
Well, I wouldn't know, would I? "Size meter," indeed. Now I know why they call 'em the hard sciences. (And what a darling, scientific, quasi-British approach to punctuation you have.)
* * * * *
One feels a little obligated to make some sort of remark about Bill Bennett and his gambling jones. And yet, and yet . . . it all seems pretty obvious to me: unfortunately for all of us grubby little middle-class people, there are those to whom several million dollars is not an enormous sum of money. Bennett could afford to lose what he bet. His family was still well-cared-for. He met his book deadlines, and showed up for his speaking engagements. What would be obscene excess for some simply wasn't in his case. His addiction wasn't the equivalent of a skid row alkie's drinking: it was more like the dedication some show to those 2-3 drinks before dinner. Not necessarily laudable, but fairly harmless. And it kept money flowing through Vegas and Atlantic City that employed many people.
I share Andrew Sullivan's happiness that the hard-right groups traditonally opposed to gambling were properly appalled by Bennett's behavior. If you are against gambling across-the-board, you have to be against what Bennett was doing. But Sullivan talks about inconsistency within social conservatism as if it's the exception rather than the rule. His example is the pot smoker who is against divorce. Does anyone know a pot smoker who thinks divorce is a damned fine thing? Social conservatism isn't a monolith, and each of my most liberal friends has a code of ethics. When it comes right down to it, we're all tight-assed about one thing or another, and I should hope so, for crying out loud.
We should take the vices one-by-one and decide: 1) how grave an evil a particular one is, and 2) whether we should be legislating against it in any way, shape or form. You know: the George Harrison approach to social policy. Think for yourself.
Can we remember that genuine social conservatives come in four major flavors? There are Jews, Catholics, Protestants, and a number of people from other traditions (lumped together here for my convenience). The first two groups are going to have a more flexible view of human behavior than the third, because Protestantism still advocates a notion of human perfectability that is impossible to achieve on this earth. The notion of a vice-free life still exerts a certain power over the Protestant mind. So Protestants don't believe in gambling, and many don't believe in even the lowest level of alcohol consumption. Smoking is a big deal, as is masturbation. The human body is often considered to be the enemy.
Bill Bennett, as I understand it, comes from the Catholic tradition. So when he talks and writes about "virtue," it's within a more realistic framework than many Christians--and most Jews--might use. It's from an oddly (paradoxically, given the Roman approach to ordaining women and a few other topics) inclusive, tolerant Church whose social activities are heavy on bingo and the raffling of prizes at fundraisers.
And here I'll just repeat what many others have said: if we throw the word "hypocrite" around too carelessly, we take the risk of silencing all the voices of those who think we should hit the brakes in certain areas of modern life. If the standard for those who want to ask "can we keep it a little bit clean, here?" is that they live perfect lives, we will find ourselves doing without those cautionary voices, because few--if any--can meet the "no vice" standard.
As my high school sweetheart used to say, "everyone's a hypocrite now and then." We are. But that's hardly a reason to throw up our hands and cave.
I am not a social conservative. I'm a fiscally conservative warmonger. But I have some sympathy for a number of the points social conservatives bring up, and as a libertarian I believe stability in the social compact is the glue that should hold us together (makes for fewer laws, doncha know--war chicks like that). I haven't read *The Book of Virtues* (though I seem to recall getting a copy for my poor long-suffering brother, once). I'm sure there's plenty I would disagree with therein. However, Bennett's voice shouldn't be silenced on the basis of a victimless crime. If anything, we who are imperfect should embrace him as another brother in the Clayfoot tribe. And argue his ideas on their merits.
5/08/2003 09:17:00 PM
Sunday, May 04, 2003
Just a Small Piece of Business . . .
Founding fathers. Founding fathers, founding fathers, founding fathers.
Founding fathers, founding. Fathers. Founding fathers, founding fathers. Founding fathers, founding; fathers. Founding. Fathers.
5/04/2003 06:07:00 PM