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11.29.2003

 

Queer Meets World


In her screed from last week "Some Folks Just Shouldn't Get Married" Charlotte Alllen makes this ludicrous case:
There are reasons why formally and publicly recognized unions of men and women constitute the world's oldest and most enduring social institution. By keeping, or at least attempting to keep, sexual activity and procreation within the family, marriage fosters the stable emotional and financial conditions that are best for the raising of children; parents focus their energy and resources upon their offspring and each other. Marriage also protects women financially and emotionally after their years of childbearing and peak sexual attractiveness have passed. It creates powerful kinship networks that transcend personal feelings -- witness "The Sopranos" -- (NOTE: yup, gangsters are far better than fags) and provides incentives for the accumulation and orderly transmission of property.
Well, in today's LA Times, three letters appeared that strike to the heart of her so-called argument:
In paragraph four, Allen offers these reasons: Keeping sexual activity within the family; stable emotional and financial conditions best for raising children; focusing energy and resources upon offspring and each other; financial and emotional protection after the passing of peak sexual attractiveness; powerful kinship networks; incentives for the accumulation and orderly transmission of property.

Thank you, Charlotte Allen. You only thought you were writing against gay marriage. Instead, you've just laid out the best reasons to support it!

- Ryan R. Sanderson

+ + +

My partner and I are registered as domestic partners, but still there are reminders everywhere that we are not married. When we applied for health insurance for my partner our request was denied twice and delayed for nine months -- despite the fact that my employer voluntarily agreed to include her on the company policy -- because domestic partners are not automatically recognized by the insurance provider.

We finally got it straightened out, but only after my partner was rushed to the emergency room after a car accident with no health insurance. It was a terrifying moment.

Some people say that we are pushing too fast for our rights. When I am working alongside others, paying taxes and contributing to the strength of my community, I don't believe I should have to wait patiently to have the same rights as other people. For my partner and me, one day is too long to wait.

- Amy Wilder Drake

+ + +

Charlotte Allen's "Some Folks Just Shouldn't Get Married" embodies the misperceptions about gay marriage that have been rife on the right. They are, no doubt, expecting to use this as a wedge issue in the elections, but what the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts decided was that the state could not limit the legal institution of marriage to "man and woman," that a gay or lesbian couple qualify for the same legal rights and obligations as a heterosexual couple. This is not to say that Catholics, Protestants, Jews, Muslims or Buddhists are required to sanctify the union, only that the state must apply what is essentially civil contract law to grant the gay couple a legal framework of respect and protection.

A religion can make the requirement that a man and a woman be involved. A religion can say that both bride and groom must be believers in the same religion to have their union blessed by God; but that blessing is out of the province of the state's authority.

Conservatives say that if gays are allowed to make their unions legal, that somehow invalidates traditional marriage. Thus the shibboleth that is always mentioned in this line of attack: Why, if two men can marry, why not a man and his dog? Think of contract law. If two businessmen can draw up a contract, why can't a man and his dog? Because a dog cannot give consent. Only legal equals can sign contracts. An adult cannot marry a child, because a child cannot give consent. An invalid contract is not legally binding. Many clergymen from smaller churches are willing to bless gay marriages. Would Allen be saying that some churches' positions on the question should be endorsed legally but other religions' positions should not? Is that "freedom of religion"?

- Jim Hassinger

As ya'll know, we here at Points West are strong proponents of, at the very least, civil unions -- all but Hoffman and Anna here are queer, and they are in fact married themselves (not to each other, I hasten to add) though I believe them to be sympathetic heteros. I'm tired of being circumspect about this in any regard. Though I'm currently single, one day I will marry, or something close to it, and I'll blog about it. I guarantee it.

Folks, it is time.


11.28.2003

 

Pseudonymous


Well, thanks for indulging me with our new Sitemeter toy -- typically, I get, well, just a bit too excited about, well, pretty much everything. As I prepare for my move down south, I'm going pseudonymous -- just in case. Keeping our content edgy is more important than my dumb name or some dumb job. Regular readers of this newsletter will know what I am talking about. So, welcome Scott Trammell to our blog team. Eventually, I'll be dropping the Scott and you'll be getting just Trammell. I'd rather start the transition now. For the curious, Trammell is my Momma's maiden name. This message will self-destruct.

P.S. I'm out of here again for the weekend, blog team. Post post post! Gracias.


11.26.2003

 

Turkey Day Blows


Howdy all ya'll Westerners:

Quick update, finally added Sitemeter last week, and after just our first week of tracking, we've had almost 500 565 visits, and nearly 800 903 page views -- thanks, Skippy! Our daily average has expanded from 37 to 66 75 in just a few days, and at least 90% are unique hits.

NEW NOTE: 103 visits so far today, on Turkey day! From Hawaii, Netherlands, tons from New York, sh*tloads from California and all over the Midwest and the South. Thank you! --->

Thanks to all of you, regulars, lurkers, and occasional visitors that have helped make Points West a success. And, to our key contributors, Paul, Wayne, Brian and Hoffman -- it has been such a joy to watch the site grow and change with your energy, intellect and humor -- and Sandy, too! Finally, to Kev, you're an ass elephant's assh*le but life wouldn't be the same without ya!

So, visitors, introduce yourselves, say hi, and please comment from time to time -- now that we know ya'll are there! You could start right now...

So, eat like pigs, drink like fish, enjoy your families and keep the fighting to a minimum, okay? Happy Thanksgiving, and may God Bless America and each and every one of you and yours! - Scott

P.S. Duh! A BIG Thanksgiving "howdy" to all the folks at Dean Nation and Dean for America!

P.P.S. I was just thinking, I sure hope that Maria Shriver pigs out today -- she could use a good meal!


 

The Last Round-Up


As we head into the long holiday weekend, I thought I'd take a few minutes, set aside Medicare, Michael Jackson, and the 2004 presidential race, and focus on some other news...in a fair and balanced way, of course!

FROM THE GEORGE W. BUSH GOP ALMANAC

It was a Republican administration that enacted the first income tax in 1861, saying "the rich should be taxed more than the poor."

President Lincoln, meet President Bush.

MILITARY VOCABULARY
Covert (adj): secret or hidden; not openly practiced or engaged in or shown
Covert (n): under cover of darkness
NEWS ITEM: Pentagon announces that a covert force hunts Hussein

Perhaps we should rethink our policy of announcing covert forces.

RAMPART, THIS IS KETTLE ONE
NEWS ITEM: A recent vodka-drinking competition oustide Moscow ended in tragedy with the winner dead and several runners-up in intensive care.

Perhaps we should be keeping a closer eye on suburban Moscow.

CALGON, TAKE THEM AWAY
NEWS ITEM: A new state law was passed in Kentucky last month mandating that people take a bath at least once a year.

Perhaps we should also be watching Kentucky.

HESTONVILLE
NEWS ITEM: Geuda Springs, Kansas, population 210, has become the second American town to pass an ordinance requiring each head of household to own a gun and ammunition.

Watch Geuda Springs as well.

FLYING FISH
NEWS ITEM: scientists warn that fish in the Norwegian Arctic are getting unexpectedly strong cocktails of caffeine and painkillers from sewers in Oslo, Norway.

Ok....forget about Moscow, Kentucky, and Geuda Springs. We need to keep all eyes focused on Oslo!
And, oh...Mr. Limbaugh...the mayor of Oslo would like a word with you.



HEIL BUSH
NEWS ITEM: U.S. military's code name "Iron Hammer" for Iraq crackdown is the same code name the Nazis used for a military operation in World War II.

I'll leave it to the reader to process this heavy little fact.

20 YEARS ON
1980: Women earn 80.3 cents for every dollar men earn, according to General Accounting Office.
2000: Women earn 79.7 cents for every dollar men earn, according to General Accounting Office.

See, everyone. Progress!

WELCOME TO HOLLYWOOD, WHAT IS YO' DREAM?
NEWS ITEM: Steve Martin to play Inspector Clouseau in a new "Pink Panther" movie.
NEWS ITEM: Ben Affleck will reprise Gene Hackman's role in "The Poseidon Adventure."

Well, only the first one is true. I made the second one up. Or did I??



NOT A GOOD THING
Martha Stewart is stewing over a federal judge's refusal to dismiss two key criminal charges against her, while at the same time mulching her rose crowns with salt hay.

PATRIOTIC BUSINESS OF THE YEAR AWARD
Goes to Sprint, for cutting 2,000 American jobs in a trial program to increase profits by shifting jobs overseas.

War? What war?

CAPTURED
News Headline: Saddam and Bin Laden Seized!

Wait. Oh. Sorry. Apparently a shipment of singing and dancing Osamas and Saddams were seized by customs officials in Jerusalem. Silly me. Here I thought we'd actually captured the bad guys.

SUPERMARKET TABLOID HEADLINE OF THE WEEK:
"Alien sitcoms are worse than ours!"

TODAY'S BIRTHDAYS: "Casablanca," 61; Tina Turner, ageless; Little Richard, 133

GOBBLE, GOBBLE
Tomorrow is Thanksgiving. It also happens to be National Pins and Needles Day.

Coincidence? I think not!

HOW WILL YOU CELEBRATE?: Monday is the first day of National Bingo Appreciation Month!


PRESIDENTIAL PARSELTOUNGE
Boy, oh boy. The Prez has been busy, busy, busy making mince meat of the English language. Ladies and gentlemen, here are this weeks Bushisms:

First: Mr. Bush recently in Florida: "We had a chance to visit with Teresa Nelson who's a parent, and...a...a mom or dad."

Second: Ol' Dubya talking about his record: "I got a record. I got a record that is conservative. And a record that is compassionated."

And finally, Shrub discussing administration leaks: "You've heard much of the allegations. If people have not got solid information, please come forward. That would be people inside the information who are the so-so called anonymous sources, or people outside the information."

Mr. President, I'd like to introduce you to a certain lovely school teacher from Texas.

Thank you very much and HAPPY SHOPPING REMINDER DAY!


 

run michael run!


Well, Michael dropped by for a Shirley Temple last night and requested that I deliver this special message to our Points West readers:
As you know, the charges recently directed at me are terribly serious. They are, however, predicated on a big lie. This will be shown in court, and we will be able to put this horrible time behind us.

For that reason, I have set up this website to serve as a source of official communications on my case. Any statement that does not appear on this website must be considered unauthorized.

You are right to be skeptical of some of the individuals who are being identified in the mass media as my friends, spokespeople, and attorneys. With few exceptions, most of them are simply filling a desperate void in our culture that equates visibility with insight. We will not engage in speculation. We will not provide running commentary on every new development or allegation du jour. We intend to try our case in the courtroom, not in the public or the media. I thank you all for your support and understanding.

God bless you, - Michael
I thought it was sort of crude for him to Point Out what we at Points West have long suspected, that perhaps we are simply filling a desperate void in our culture that equates visibility with insight. But as one of your unofficial 'friends' I can only say: from your tattooed lips to God's ears, Michael -- and God bless you, Michael, God bless you. Quick insight? You're gonna need it.


11.25.2003

 

"The Gay"


Comedy Goddess Margaret Cho has made a series of appearances recently in support of same-sex unions, including a reading on NPR's Morning Edition and a debate with Jerry Falwell on The Abrams Report -- there is no point in pulling an excerpt on this one, just go read it. Well, she's taken some heat for it, too, from some of her "fans" -- or maybe they're Jerry's fans. Scroll down a bit and check out all the "fan" mail and her awesome responses.

Cho is the best gal-pal us queers could have!


 

Aries' Humvee




 

The FAUX-volution Will Be Televised


The conservatives are taking over America, just ask 'em! Writing in the Los Angeles Times one Brian C. Anderson makes this earth-shattering case:
Almost overnight, three huge changes in communications have injected conservative ideas into the heart of that debate. The first seismic event was the advent of cable TV, especially Rupert Murdoch's Fox News Channel, now in its seventh year. Watch Fox for a few hours and you encounter a conservative presence unlike anything on TV. [...]

The second explosive change shaking liberal media dominance is the rise of the Internet. It's hard to overstate the effect that news and opinion Web sites like the Drudge Report and Dow Jones' OpinionJournal are having on politics and culture, along with current-event blogs -- individual or group Web diaries -- such as AndrewSullivan, InstaPundit and "The Corner" department of NRO, the National Review's online site. Though there are several fine left-of-center sites, the "blogosphere" currently tilts right, albeit idiosyncratically, reflecting the hard-to-pigeonhole politics of some leading bloggers. [...]

The third big change breaking the liberal media stranglehold is taking place in book publishing. Conservative authors long had trouble getting their books published. No more. Nowadays, publishers are falling over themselves to bring conservative books to a mainstream audience.
The blogoshphere tilts right? Huh? And as for publishing, let's see -- last time I checked, the 'liberal' books were out-pacing the conservative ones, after many years of conservative dominance in publishing going back to Reagan and all the Clinton-bashing "histories" and such.

But, what if you had a "revolution" and nobody bothered to show up? Neal Gabler takes on the FAUX-volution with a sharp and insightful rebuttal to Mr. Anderson's breathless conservative self-promotion:
Conservative revolution? No -- just dazzlingly effective PR.

...some conservatives think these events amount to more than just a winning streak. They see signs of a geological shift in the culture tipping the balance from the left to the right. [...] The conservative declaration of victory is itself part of a large, complex process that gives the impression of a cultural revolution without actually effecting one. It is the phenomenon of a phenomenon -- a great postmodernist gambit in which the buzz about something overwhelms the thing itself. It works, because what rivets and energizes the media doesn't have to be a real, measurable change in the cultural landscape, but the idea of a new phenomenon on that landscape. The media are in the phenomenon business, and if they turn the phenomenon into a revolution, so much the better.

One can see this postmodernist process at work nearly everywhere in the culture. Take "The Osbournes." Most everyone in America today knows who the Osbournes are, has read about them, heard about them or seen them on commercials or hosting award shows. But when you examine the ratings of their MTV television series that generated all the notoriety, you discover something remarkable. Even before its recent dip, almost no one watched the show. In a nation of roughly 280 million people, "The Osbournes" gets an audience of just about 3 million viewers, or slightly above 1% of the populace. So how does one account for the family's near-universal recognition?

One might conclude that the program existed not to be watched but to be written about or discussed. The show was an excuse to create a phenomenon, of which the Osbournes and those who marketed them were the beneficiaries. They were popular for appearing to be popular. [...]

In the context of cultural politics, the implications are no less profound. Everyone who follows the media knows that we live in an increasingly conservative society. Everyone knows that conservative talk radio is a dominant force and that Rush Limbaugh alone attracts 20 million listeners weekly. Everyone knows that the Fox News Channel -- on which I am a contributor -- has drained millions of viewers from the broadcast networks. Everyone knows that millions of Americans mobilized against CBS' Reagan miniseries.

Yet, everything that everyone knows in the preceding paragraph is absolutely false. In sheer numbers, conservative talk radio is still a relatively small phenomenon, and Limbaugh's aggregate audience of 20 million -- if you assume that most of his die-hard fans listen to him daily -- is probably closer to 4 million or 5 million. Fox News is unquestionably a cable success story, but, excluding major news stories, at best it attracts an audience of 2 million -- not even in the same league as the least-watched broadcast news report and a blip on the larger demographic screen. After more than a week of constant, highly publicized agitation, CBS reportedly received 80,000 e-mails protesting the Reagan miniseries, not exactly a populist wildfire.
It's worth noting here that FOX, lacking a major news story, doesn't even clock at "The Osbournes" levels -- and yup, that includes Smug O'Reilly.
Here's the truth: Even after 9/11 reputedly turned us into a nation of flag-waving patriots, even after Fox News Channel torpedoed the liberal media, even after the drumbeat of Limbaugh, even after Dennis Miller decided to forgo humor for attacks on Bill Clinton and even after the Reagans were saved from liberal calumnies, the country, according to both a recent Washington Post/ABC News poll and a Pew Research Center poll, is almost exactly evenly divided between those who lean left and those who lean right. Evenly divided. All of which means that the conservatives haven't made a huge dent politically and, again from the looks of things, have made less than a dent culturally, especially since political and cultural proclivities do not always lean in the same direction. There are an awful lot of Republicans, evidently, who like Eminem and "South Park."

So, why all this talk of conservative ascendancy? In a sense, it's pure invention. What conservatives have been able to do is deploy the same postmodernist techniques that celebrities have been using for decades, and for the same purpose: to make the buzz into the buzz. Like the Osbournes, conservatives take their little triumphs and package them as phenomena, which the media -- including the conservative media -- eagerly retail to the public. Blogger Andrew Sullivan, for example, calls the new cultural trend "South Park Republicanism" because "South Park" has taken its whacks at political correctness and other liberal shibboleths. But whether or not there is such a thing as South Park Republicanism, the idea is media-genic because it suggests something big is happening that the media want to be in on. You just whisper it into what critics of the right have called the "right-wing echo chamber" -- of conservative talk radio, Fox News, various conservative publications and now conservative blogs -- and it turns into a roar that the mainstream media cannot ignore. In short, the new cultural revolution is a sound-effects machine.
And, compare this to the Dean movement, which has proven repeatedly that it is far more than a sound-effects machine. What spooks me is, I understand why those in the media were so skeptical of Dean -- now I get it, they are used to conservative chicanery. But the really spooky thing? They know. The mainstream media know that it's a sound-effects machine, and they package it and sell it anyway!
Nearly 40 years ago, historian Daniel Boorstin coined the term "pseudo-events" to describe things like premieres, photo ops and publicity stunts: They have no inherent value and exist only to be covered by the media. The right wing has now devised a pseudo-politics, of which the "conservative revolution" is a primary feature. It may look like the real thing, sound like the real thing and, most important, be covered by the media as if it were the real thing, but it is essentially just a way to gain media attention, which is usually enough to convince people that it is the real thing. If the objective of cultural politics is to win adherents, the objective of this postmodernist pseudo-politics is to convey the idea that you have already won adherents -- that the revolution has already occurred and power has been transferred. [...]

[However] ... a few conservative swipes at CBS or a few million viewers at the Fox News Channel or even a few "South Park" fans who identify themselves as Republicans won't signify a shift in the cultural balance of power. They simply provide excuses for the media to label it as one.
No wonder the right is spooked by Howard Dean -- how do you sell a fake revolution when the opposition's leader is offering the real thing?

UPDATE: While browsing through PW's blogroll, I discovered that Skippy has a lengthy post on this pair of essays that is a must-read. Great minds? Crossposted at Kos and Dean Nation.


 

What I Want to Know is ...


Why would anyone do this?
A bill to ban plastic guns which terrorists could slip past airport metal detectors has been blocked in the Senate by an anonymous GOP senator, Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass. said Tuesday.
I'd just like to know their reasoning. And what's with being able to do this anonymously?


 

Defense of what?!?!


Jon Carrol with sfgate wrote in with an alternate suggestion about things Congress might be more concerned about defending rather than marriage as we know it today.
I really do intend to get to the leaves, but I've been awfully busy. I type my fingers to the bone, I take out the trash, I purchase the soft goods. I sometimes wish I had someone to help me, some nice strong man to clean the tops of cabinets and do some light carpentry. That would make me feel so ... pretty.


11.24.2003

 

Dianne - What're You DOING?


The senior senator from California is actually supporting the Medicare Prescription Drug Plan, which the AARP has endorsed with the overwhelming majority of its membership's disapproval. The GOP-sponsored bill is - simply put - an abomination which the wingnuts are cramming down the throats of our elders by bum-rushing it through the House and now the Senate. There's so much wrong with this bill, and you can check out the deal here. (My mom pays out almost $2000 every six months for secondary coverage right now. With a diminished Medicare, that will certainly get jacked up.)

Here's Feinstein's number: 202-224-3841. Here's her e-mail link. Here are her branch offices throughout California if you'd like a door to bang on. Here's her snail-mail address:

Senator Dianne Feinstein
United States Senate
331 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510

It's amazing that well-paid politicians really have no perspective when it comes to dangerous bills such a this one. They don't even want to walk a yard in their constituents' shoes.


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