Thursday, September 30, 2004

 

Reason #4,287 why I hate Slate

As if Christopher Hitchens' blatherings weren't bad enough, the folks at Slate also seem to have created a niche for themselves as the ultimate in wacky "what if" scenarios and their mind-numbingly dull "explainer" articles. "What if Howard Dean were debating George Bush tonight?" is their thought exercise for today.... I just find the whole thing to be irrelavent, unfunny, and desperately wanna-be in its hipness and water-cooler-topicness.

But what I hate most of all is their damn economist, Steven A. Landsburg, who first came to my attention a couple of years ago with his stupid "Why do people walk on stairs but not on escalators?" article which pretended to be about marginal analysis but was really about how meaningless his life is.

I knew Slate had gone down the tubes at exactly that moment.

So when I saw his article today, "Dont Vote" - it was heartening to know that my habit of assiduously avoiding the damn online rag was still justified (notwithstanding my previous post about Hitchens). The most bothersome thing about it is his article is this statement:

The traditional reply begins with the phrase "But if everyone thought like that ... ." To which the correct rejoinder is: So what? Everyone doesn't think like that. They continue to vote by the millions and tens of millions.


The fact that he consciously ignores far better responses to his dorm-room mind game is quite telling. Why do I vote? Not because I think that my individual vote will make a difference, nor for some "if everyone thought that way" blah blah blah. I vote for largely symbolic - but incredibly powerful - philosophical and emotional reasons. I vote because I continue to believe in the viability of our fragile democracy - and the role of voting in that democracy, because I have some sense of honor and feel it would be hypocritical of me to encourage others (on a scale far belying my own vote's power) to exercize their right to vote, because not too many generations ago my forebears could not vote, and because I get a rush doing it. Much like the way some people get a rush playing the lottery or writing stupid columns.

The fact that he doesn't even consider the value people place on these "non-rational" motives tells me he's either ignorant or willfully disingenuous. I actually think the latter is more likely to be true. Judging from his other articles, I have a feeling he's just another asshole for whom our political system is a joke, doesn't matter, he and his cronies will be in the driver's seat, safe in academia no matter how it turns out. Or what's even more likely, he's a Republican who has discovered a new idea for trying to suppress voter turnout (after all, the "Don't vote" headline goes out to potential millions - if each of them took his advice...).

Look, to me it comes down to this: if I decide not to play lotto one day and my numbers come in that day, I will regret it for awhile. Maybe a decade. But I would NEVER forgive myself if, somehow, the presidential election this year DID come down to one vote in Illinois and I decided to listen to slate.com that day.

P.S. I walk on escalators almost every day, dipshit.

Wednesday, September 29, 2004

 

Chris Hitchens is a ninny

I've been saying for a few weeks now that Kerry has to get out in front of the issue of Osama bin Laden - and do it HARD. Too many of my liberal friends were bemoaning the possibility of a so-called "October Surprise" in which Bush rode the coattails of a bin Laden capture/killing into November 2. If such a thing were to happen, it would be important to have pointed out the obvious fact that getting Osama should have been Bush's first and most intense priority--leaving no room for error--after September 11, 2001. Even more importantly, the fact that something like that might happen so close to an election, for the most politically shameless administration in memory, would be too much of a convenience to just take at face value (how many times has the American press been shown to be stupid for having taken the Bush team at its word?)...

So then I read this from Christopher Hitchens (referred to by Atrios & MaxSpeak).

"Vile spectacle" indeed.

Hitch Hitch Hitch...

Where to start? My favorite is your contention that Allawi isn't a "puppet" but rather the only leader in the region looking to hold elections. Gosh, we INSTALLED the motherfucker, hold all military power in the country, and are in charge of when (and if) the elections are held, AND the guy just happens to be parroting what Bush is saying about the state of his country in front of Congress and the U.N. I mean, even Elmo has more independence than this dude.

It's easy for Hitchens to ignore the reports before the Dem Convention that the White House was urging Pakistan to deliver a high-level capture around that time. To pretend that the roll-out of the war during the 2002 election season (and use of it in a large number of campaigns) was purely coincidental, despite clear and conclusive evidence to the contrary. To assert his belief that Bin Laden is "probably dead" without demanding even a shred of proof (he's positively BLITHE about the idea). To suggest that Bush--the man who appointed HENRY KISSINGER as the chair of his 9/11 investigation and who intentionally misled Americans to believe Saddam Hussain was connected with that same event--is simply beyond reproach when it comes to his response to the tragedy.

What's difficult ... tortured, even ... is the twisting of a common, rational, and perversely obvious fear among Democrats (that the man who single-handedly turned the Global War on Terror into a political football game (in which his team always has the ball) will use the last card up his sleeve to guarantee his election in a month+) into some sort of desperate defeatism by terrorist-ignoring liberals. I'd say, conversely, that it shows that Democrats and liberals have a great deal of confidence that the President Who Can Do No Wrong is ripe for defeat in November.

We also, however, remember 2000. And we know not to trust these sons of bitches when it comes to elections and power.

 

Questions related to this conspiracy of silence

Just some questions for the press (and others unsure how to think of the Maya Keyes stuff):

Why is it that when Noelle Bush goes into drug rehab, the press can report on that, but when OUT lesbian Maya Keyes is campaigning with her dad, wearing RAINBOW paraphernalia and apparently chatting with locals about queer youth outreach, it's taboo?

Why is it okay to run a gossip item about Cynthia Nixon and her being mum about her possible same-sex relationship, but not about someone who has put herself in the public eye by CAMPAIGNING for her EXTREMELY HIGH PROFILE (and vocally anti-gay-rights) father while wearing rainbow paraphernalia?

How weird is it that the press seems to be imposing silence and shame on someone who is neither silent nor ashamed?

If Alan Keyes were going around saying that interracial relationships were destructive of society, would it be news that Maya's girlfriend is white? Or boyfriend? What if she campaigned with him wearing paraphernalia that was generally known to show pride in interracial relationships?

There is a story here. chillinois has put all the pieces together, conclusively, and it's not a "rumor" ... unless this is an ELABORATE HOAX - dating back YEARS - it's public and publicly available information. What if she'd appeared in a (small) gay magazine article about gay youth? What if she'd published a 'zine? What if she'd written a book? She put it out there, friends. GOOD FOR HER!

Finally, just because Alan won't talk about it, doesn't mean you can't write about it. As recently as yesterday, Keyes had on the front page of his campaign Web site the claim that Obama was "two-faced" -- trying to have it both ways by soliciting support from the gay community but being against gay marriage. Oh, that's not there anymore. Why not?

Look, my guess is that Alan is actually NOT a hypocrite on this issue. He probably DOES believe that his daughter is a sinner, and is praying for her daily, and does not wish for her to become the issue in this campaign. He very likely still loves her and loves to be near her and loves for her to be on the campaign trail with him. He does NOT believe she should be able to serve in the military, or ever get married, or be immune from testifying against her partner, or have protection against anti-gay discrimination by her employer or landlord or realtor. He believes that if her same-sex relationship is treated identically to his opposite-sex relationship, then the moral sanctions against rape, child molestation, and public sex will also come crashing down, leading to a Marxist tyranny of the state. But until he clarifies that his moral attacks against gays apply equally to his beloved Maya, I don't blame others for assuming that he is guilty of hypocrisy.

In any case, I think the real scandal is that he's paying for his daughter to go to Brown. BROWN! Nice conservative values there, dad...

Tuesday, September 28, 2004

 

Maya Keyes

I called a reporter today about the developing story out on the blogosphere re: Keyes's possibly out lesbian daughter. When she got back to me it turned out that she had heard from another source (and a friend/mentor of mine) today. I'm not sure how but this story will hit in the next week. Maybe this blog will make a difference? At least we have the name :)

Monday, September 27, 2004

 

Is helping your dad get elected against your interests selfISH or selfLESS...???

Maya Keyes, dear daughter of Your Future Senator From Illinois, was in the state recently, in an attempt to help dad win his upcoming election. You will remember that Alan Keyes is the gentleman who will go down in history as having inspired this blog you are reading right now -- he coined the phrase "selfish hedonist" to describe gays and lesbians in general and Mary Cheney in particular. He got a lot of crap for that from lots of folks.

Well.

It would seem that the blogger Modern Vertebrate found the 19-year-old-and-therefore-plainly-an-adult's blog, which -- hey, if that's not the work of a lesbian, then I don't know lesbians.

There is no doubt that this story needs to be followed up on by the media. In fact, as my colleague Richard said to me, it is downright homophobic for a press corps that reports every innuendo made by the Swift Boat Veterans NOT to follow up on a story that would show the official candidate of the Republican Party of Illinois to be a sham, a hypocrite, and a fool. It is the "okay for me but not for thee"-ness of the moralist wing of the GOP that needs to be forcefully addressed.

But what is in doubt is the extent to which Maya Keyes' sexuality, when posed alongside her campaigning, gives lie to Alan Keyes' use of the word "selfish" when describing gays & lesbians. I know he was talking about the fact that our sex is non-procreative, but I think it's no stretch to say that he and other anti-gay leaders really think of the entire notion of the gay movement, gay liberation, etc. is selfish because out queers often place their sexuality over their family's concerns or their community's values. Conversely, many gay rights leaders find those queers who remain closeted to be selfish because they do so in order to gain financial reward, or societal approval, or merely comfort (while their out counterparts are doing the hard work of social change).

So when you have a semi-closeted but basically out person trying to help elect someone who will consistently campaigns against your rights ... are you being the selfless "good daughter" or the selfish "who cares about them gays, I wanna be the daughter of a senator"?

Or perhaps you're just being the crazy "I'm never gonna have to worry about abortion so I'll try to make sure women who have them are imprisoned like my daddy said!" daughter.

UPDATE: Well, it has been pointed out to me that Maya's blog is now "private" so you can no longer access her posts, such as this one from March 3:

I remembered pieces of some of my (numerous) conversation/arguments with my parents on the subject of homosexuality. My father, in the middle of explaining why queers are all intrinsically awful people, no matter how lovely they may seem… in the end his argument came down to basically, It’s inherently selfish to be queer because no matter if we say we’re in love it’s only for selfish reasons (read: we just want to hump like bunnies and don’t really care about anything else but physical pleasure) because we don’t have CHILDREN like the beautiful selfless heterosexuals. Ergo, queers live only for self-gratification and no matter what else goes on in their lives, ultimately (consciously or subconsciously) our entire existence is directed towards the purpose of self-seeking pleasure; queers are not capable of anything but selfish actions whether we know it or not. Along the same vein, my mother, after meeting on one of my friends (one of the sweetest, smartest, politest boys I know; someone who would be great to bring home to parents. Any parents but mine.) who she couldn’t help but like, took a while to think of something disparaging to say about him because it is against her principles to actually like any of my friends and finally decided that she didn’t, after all, like him because he had a weak mouth as a result of being one of those homosexuals. She says that homosexuals are all inherently weak people, just as they are all inherently selfish people, because they don’t know how to deny themselves anything.



(thanks to Archpundit for the text)

However, Alan is kind enough to have provided all the confirmation you or I need on his campaign site.

(again, thanks to Archpundit)

Friday, September 24, 2004

 

stroke it to the left ...





For those of you who think my audacity knows some bounds ... WOW. Were you wrong. Just plain wrong. Wow.

Anyway.

Today, Friday, September 24, 2004, is my father's 59th birthday (yes, fifty-nine. I know!). How can you join in the celebration? Well, in January he will be walking a marathon (26.2 miles) in Orlando. He is doing it as a fundraiser for the American Stroke Association, which raises money for people who can't get Clarence Carter's 80s line dancing song "Strokin'" out of their heads, no matter how many times they bash their head against a wall.

No, in reality it will be used to further the organization's mission of reducing disability and death from stroke through research, education, fund raising and advocacy. For more information on this organization, go to www.strokeassociation.org

SO! To make a long story short, I am asking YOU my dear friends to donate $1 toward this effort. And for every dollar my friends give, I will match with a dollar donation of my own, up to $50 total. If you can't afford this, you can't afford my friendship.

Assuming you can afford it, and are interested, please either mail me a check for $1, or mail me a dollar bill, or give me a dollar, OR (easiest thing) send $1 to my paypal account (button should be posted above).

I hope you will choose to remain my friend and GIVE GIVE GIVE!

Thanks!

p.s. You can give more than $1 if you want.

UPDATE!!! So far 18 of you have donated or pledged $99 to the American Stroke Association for my dad's efforts!! Yay you!!

 

Davis Cup Fever: Catch It!

Sigh. Given that I don't seem to watch ANY television anymore (hell, now that Six Feet Under and The Amazing Race are done, what's the point, really) and even if I did, I don't have ESPN, and I don't even go to Outsports.com anymore or espn.com ... well, let's just say that I don't have my finger on the pulse of the sports world right now.

But I can tell you without one shred of doubt that last week's Ryder Cup humiliation was far more buzzed about than this weekend's Davis Cup semifinal action, in which the US has a real chance to reach the finals in one of the most prestigious worldwide national team competition.

And I'm hearing a collective yawn from my friends who are into tennis. 90% of Americans, I can almost guarantee, have no idea what Davis Cup is.

However: it's easy to lament about the state of tennis in America ... and that pessimism only rarely leads to real change ... I've decided instead to become a cheerleader for this most beautiful of sports. So.

Hey non-tennis fans! Watching a ball go back & forth over a net may seem a bit dull to you, but tennis matches - whether singles or doubles, whether individual competitions or part of team events - are to me the essence of sport and competition. They are so physically and mentally strenuous as to be sometimes painful to watch. They combine speed, grace, power, technique, and stamina. And the amazing thing, to me, is how easy it looks and how hard it really is. No wonder the best players tend to get burned out - becoming a top player is something that HAS to consume every ounce of your being for decades. And it's impossible to perfect. And unlike some "sports" I could name, the mere idea of drinking beer and smoking cigars WHILE PLAYING is almost impossible to contemplate with tennis.

So this year, the US plays Belarus and France is fighting Spain in the annual nation vs. nation team competition in which crowds actually get into what their watching. Andy Roddick is going to have to carry the US on his back today and Sunday, and either an ailing Bryan brothers doubles team is going to have to beat one of the best doubles players in the world (Max Mirnyi) or Mardy Fish is going to have to improve on his recent play and take one of the singles rubbers. Meanwhile, the Spanish are already down a shocking point to the French - perennial top 5 player Carlos Moya dropped a very tight five-setter to young but oft-injured Paul-Henri Matheiu (whom I once saw practice shirtless ... happy birthday to me).

If you get a chance to watch any of it this weekend, I strongly suggest you take advantage of that opportunity. Who knows? You might JUST MIGHT get into it.


UPDATE: The US put on a dominating display of singles and doubles, and is now going to face Spain--in Spain, on clay--at the end of the year. It's a tremendously tall order for the clay-averse Americans, but you NEVER know in Davis Cup. I won't be surprised at all if it comes down to the final rubber. Hee hee, I said "rubber"...

Thursday, September 23, 2004

 

The great projector

Hey kids! Time for some amateur pop psychology!!

I've seen it written that the greatest skill of the president's chief political advisor is his penchant for going after his opponents' strengths. E.g., Kerry and Vietnam.

To me, however, the president and Karl Rove are really impressive at projecting Bush's weaknesses onto his political opponents. To wit:

* Bush changes his mind (Yes on the Dept. of Homeland Security! No on the Dept. of Homeland Security!) at the drop of a hat? Go after Kerry as a flip-flopper.

* Bush bungles the Global War on Terror while failing to invest appropriately in actual homeland security efforts? Go after Kerry as threatening to American security!

* Have a vice president who was one of the least accomplished legislators in the history of Congress? Go after Kerry as not having his name attached to enough bills!

* Go to Harvard and Yale, vacation in Kennebunkport, own a pretend "ranch" in Texas, and have a "job" resume straight out of Bluebloods Monthly (honestly, who owns baseball teams??)? Go after Kerry as an out of touch elitist!

See how easy this is? Everyone can play...

I have to wonder, however, if this is truly an intentional political ploy or if his unconscious self (or, rather, the collective unconscious self of Bush, Rove, and the rest of the GOP heirarchy) really is doing some textbook projecting without realizing this. I mean, we all do it, right? And the tricky thing is, it's very difficult to counter in the context of political war. "You're just projecting your own insecurities and failures onto me!" doesn't work too well in relationship arguments, let alone mediated debates.

I'm sure this theory has been expounded upon in multiple other places but I'm frankly too lazy to investigate. So I'll just say I came up with it.

Wednesday, September 22, 2004

 

Juan Cole's takedown of Bush's infantile optimism

Please check out Juan Cole's devastating overview of how far Bush's sunny optimism concerning Iraq's situation is from reality.

If nothing else, it's a welcome counterpoint to Rush Limbaugh's minimization of US military fatalities (Less than traffic accidents!). I mean, look, numbers and bodycounts never tell the entire story - they're shorthand to allow us to put things into perspective. Like so many other statistics, they can readily be used to serve many differing viewpoints. Moreover, the dire situation should be counterbalanced by the lack of a refugee or other humanitarian crisis, which demonstrates that things could be going far worse for the Iraqis (hey, look! damning with faint praise!!). But Cole does a masterful job of bringing immediacy to a situation for which distance and disassociation seems to be the preferred mode of understanding.

Bonus! In a previous post (you can scroll down) Cole speculates:

I have a sinking feeling that the American public may like Bush's cynical misuse of Wilsonian idealism precisely because it covers the embarrassment of their having gone to war, killed perhaps 25,000 people, and made a perfect mess of the Persian Gulf region, all out of a kind of paranoia fed by dirty tricks and bad intelligence. And, maybe they have to vote for Bush to cover the embarrassment of having elected him in the first place.



I can't completely agree with Cole here. First, the American public has liked ALL presidents' cynical misuse of Wilsonian idealism. Second, it's not the embarrassment of voting for him in the first place that Americans have to get over (quite a few have gotten over that shame) ... it's the shameful embarrassment of our reaction to the terrorist killings on September 11 that will drive far too many to vote for Bush in November. People who knew better decided to rally around Bush (and by extension, Rove, Cheney, and Ashcroft); people who knew better pretended that irony was dead; people who knew better decided to treat 9/11 as ahistorical, acontextual, and an excuse to buy horrific drawings of firemen raising a flag in an utterly self-conscious and therefore false photo-op; people who knew better stood silent when Bush and his minions decided to use general insecurity in order to consolidate his political power, particularly during the 2002 elections. It is these people, who may or may not have voted for Bush in 2000, who will be voting for him this time around in order to save face. It is these people who we need to be able to tell, "Say what you want in public, but in the privacy of the voting booth, do what you know in your heart of hearts is the right thing."

Tuesday, September 21, 2004

 

Ba-ROCK the House TOMORROW!

Your trusty blogger is co-hosting a "Ba-ROCK the House!" party on Wednesday, September 22. Come join us for an excellent time of FREE food, drinks, live jazz, and cool art. And you'll hear future junior Senator from Illinois Barack Obama speak on a real landline phone!

Here's the specs:

WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 22, 2004
6-8 p.m.
Las Manos Art Gallery 5220 N. Clark, (Clark and Foster).

$25 recommended donation to Obama for Illinois!!!!!

Alderman Patrick O'Connor (40th) and Cook County Commissioner Forrest Claypool will be there, and will introduce Barack (who will be speaking to us via conference-call).

Come learn what you can do to make sure we finish the job on which we have all worked so hard. Help Barack as he travels the state to take back the U.S. Senate and travels the country to help John Kerry take back the White House.

Please let your friends & neighbors know about this great event - or others around the state and country - and join us for a selfishly hedonistic time!

**Barack will speak to us about 6:30, so get there early.

Thursday, September 09, 2004

 

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