Saturday, May 17, 2008

Gay Marriage Without the Lipstick

Biblical Heresy: Don’t Worry About the Talking Frog.
Just Worry About What He Said. 28

The entire concept of “gay marriage” is delectable, inflammatory and exquisitely inviting. How could anyone with a reasonable foundation in religious mysteries possibly walk by this one? From the detached view of a definitely post religious observer the question appears to be little more than the second chapter of “How many angels can dance on the head of pin?”

Are these people nuts?

Look for similarities in the following short story: “A young Jewish couple has been hiding in the ghetto to avoid the Holocaust. Conditions make a traditional wedding impossible. They leave their refuge, seek out a chaplain in the German Army, explain their dilemma and ask him to wed them. They justify this reckless act with the simple explanation that they love each other.”

So, all the things that the religionists have done to homosexuals through the ages are actually quite secret. Perhaps the accounts of the stake burnings and the torture are misinterpreted. Maybe the hysterical papal rants through the centuries were actually translated incorrectly.

What possible reason would there be for a nice homosexual couple to have anything to do with these people or their seemingly endless, violent condemnation? Aside from a few who might actually suspect that such “marriages” would weigh in their favor on Judgment Day, can we extract any other reasons?

Yes. After the bone-chilling ambitions of the medieval zombies are excluded, a rather clever mix of “bait and switch” is revealed. Is marriage a secular arrangement, or is marriage a religious arrangement? What makes it seem to be such an essential tradition anyway?

Last question first. These are the propositions. Marital loyalty is created within the institution. Without marriage, irresponsible young men would act like sex dogs. They would tire of their young ladies and commence to roam far and wide with their seed. They would cease to support their children. Family life, so essential to our culture, would collapse.

The religious explanation of this is simple. Men (and, probably women) are essentially sinful. They are weak. They abandon their family loyalties at the first sign of trouble or infatuation.

If this were not the case when the modern institution of marriage started, the constant repetition of this “everyone is sinful” business has become a self-fulfilling prophecy since then. In fact, as such a concept is accepted by those participating in marriage, its converse has been equally instilled in the minds of these young couples. “Now that we’re not married anymore, what exactly shall we do next? How about running wild in sexual profligacy? Nothing else suggests itself.”

The fact is that humans make matches and are generally inclined to stay in them so long as external craziness is not injected. Couples living together in conditions of their own design find themselves responsible for sustaining their relationship. It becomes necessary for them to mature. Together. This is what makes family life important, not a ponderous religious usurpation of every issue with meaning.

The domination of religious concepts as extraneous impositions on this natural state yields a critically destructive result. It encourages irresponsibility and marital intolerance by replacing growth normally expected from the couple in question with all sorts of external demands, definitions and expectations originating from outside, originating from the religionists.

Homosexuals are as well equipped as anyone else to undertake the union’s definition and execution. There is actually almost nothing of value available to be added by religious commentators. There are two parties involved. The religionists demand a third chair at the table. One with a megaphone.

Presently, around 55% of heterosexual, religious based marriages fail. Is this the part denied to those eager homosexuals who want in on the action?

Back to the “bait and switch.” The social discourse concerning homosexual marriage consistently deals with what has been surreptitiously represented as its spiritual or Biblical description. This is the area chosen as most favorable for the debate.

The part not chosen for the debate is the rather immense body of statutory law which defines legal advantages available exclusively to couples with a marriage license. Inheritance, co-ownership, adjustments to taxable income, custody of children are presented as “procedural assets” to be gained by submitting to the imposed conditions of the religionists as required to “enter marriage.”

All of this has a peculiar odor of non-Constitutional “suspect discrimination,” although, before any remedy is sought, remember Reverends Falwell, Dobson and the like. The continuing promotion of this ridiculous debate amounts to money in their pockets not to mention an opportunity to impose their ambitious religionist controls on more and more people.

So, what will make sense out of this? Separate the religionist procedural interests from the value of the secular assets. The legal advantages of marriage should provide no more of an advantage than what is expected from other religionist practices, baptism, confirmation, etc. Of course, in this country all would be completely free to participate in such things, including marriage, but there should be no expectation of “gain” over those who did not participate. In fact, there should be no insistence that those who did not marry should subsidize the tax burden of those who did. Further, statutory civil rights which are granted married couples but denied all other individuals have seen their day in the sun.

(A similar argument can be made concerning the insistence to subsidize other religionist institutions at the expense of those who are excluded from their spiritual “benefits.”)

Civil unions represented a finely crafted offering of partial relief. They included a few secular advantages previously reserved exclusively for married couples, but they continued to reserve others. It is no more than the song of a mortally wounded hunter. It will not bear the light of day.

The social culture, as considered in its mass, is expressing less and less interest in submitting to the control of the religionists. Those in whom religionist death fear remains at its medieval intensity continue to be dangerously reactionary in their resistance -- and disgust -- with respect to homosexuals receiving anything remotely close to equal, secular treatment. They envision a glorious vindication from their Savior at the Gates of Heaven, a just compensation for their denial of equal justice for homosexual sinners.

Yes, it is all terribly dated. Its “bang” period has passed. Its “whimper” period approaches.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Capitalism Stinks? No, it smells like gasoline, though.

Unthinkable Socialism. A Law We Can Live With.
When Capitalism Becomes Corruption, What's Next? 27

First, a primer for those too young to remember all the high-borne logic of the Cold War days. There were the “falling dominoes.” There was the chilling destruction of the churches, of family values. (Children turned in their parents in Stalin’s evil time.) There was the “brutal suppression” of every sort of freedom in Russia, in captive Europe, a wave of outright savagery blanketing the entire place from Kamchatka to Georgia.

But, worst of all, there was GODLESS COMMUNISM! The creepy, uni-browed megalomaniacs in the Polit Bureau wanted to export this misery everywhere. The mechanism of this evil plot would be none other than “CREEPING SOCIALISM!” This well adjusted child (Kansas) made a nutritious snack from all this. A tasty sandwich constructed of two slices of great American “white bread” with a generous slice of “GODLESS COMMUNISM,” an additional treat of “CREEPING SOCIALISM” and a pleasing dollop of “DUCK AND COVER” (grade school version) to add flavor.

This introduction is provided here to forcefully eliminate any possible suspicion that these words are the ramblings of some irrational, generational “lefty.” I always thought Ike was a great President. I contributed to Ronnie Raygun’s campaign. I happily voted for every Republican Presidential candidate right up until George Senior. The only reason I jumped ship then was because he looked so tired. No substantive ideological considerations at all to dirty the water.

So. Let’s talk socialism. Settle in your own private thoughts whether or not this might be the CREEPING variety. Hartmann (May 12/13, ‘08) suggested that the speculation burden on oil prices was around 20% or greater. To remain at all palatable, we will need to make a dignified detour around Chelsea Clinton’s job as an commodity trader (commodity here is spelled “O I L”) and Connie Rice’s (Chevron) oil tanker. We’re talking socialism, not low rent politics.

This speculation on oil futures is adorably close to every idea which might be called a “FOUNDATION OF THE CAPITALIST SYSTEM.” These brave entrepreneurs risk their hard earned dollars taking a chance on oil’s future prices. Oh yes, of course they manipulate things every once in a while, but who wouldn’t?

I personally feel honored to participate in their fearlessly capitalistic work. The risks they take, somehow, are the very underpinnings of my comfortable future as a gasoline consumer. Without them, the whole thing would simply collapse, right? American enterprise is based on risk taking. This is why they can very reasonably reap their 20% profit extracted daily from the oil prices. It is a small price to pay for such hard work and willingness to sacrifice.

When can an old capitalist like me start talking about socialism? Well, here it goes.

I would like for my government to take a few billion (trillion?) right out of the general fund, CREEP into the Chicago commodities future market and start RISKING some of my Federal money to compete with these oil futures traders. Of course it is risky! National oil consumption could collapse! Middle Eastern OPEC monkeys might lower their prices overnight for no reason! This proposition is stuffed full of threatening (risky) possibilities!

Why, we could lose everything! Chicken Little (spelled: “C H E N E Y”) might be right on about the FALLING SKY concept! Why, we could see the “WAGES OF CREEPING SOCIALISM!” At the gas pump.

Trimming the claws of this energy futures speculation mafia could lower the price (not the cost) of a gallon of gasoline by around $1.20 or so. What a crazy, bad, un-American idea!

When capitalism becomes opportunistic cronyism, the taste of socialism grows less and less bitter. Those pesky old founders we like to quote so much thought profit should come from competition, not control.

I’m “done” with paying an extra dollar a gallon for the “risks” these parasites take “in my behalf.” If 2008 is going to be a year for dumping old ideas, toss this one on the list.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

NO More Constitutional Ammendments! Okay?

Unthinkable Solutions
The Supreme Court. A National Toothache? 17

Difficult problems, although they seem to have a comfortable, rent-free existence in our thoughts, sometimes go beyond even that. They present themselves as insoluble dilemmas. “Just unpleasant products of fate,” “just the way things are” or “just something we have to live with.”

The unhappy fact is, that as dynamic and adaptive humans, we cease to consider these “tooth ache” challenges and move on to problems with more present solutions. We vote for the lesser of two evils long enough to finally select the very worst. We steel ourselves to resident powers, although we created them, as perpetual things we cannot “un-create.”

We become quite comfortably willing to accept the unacceptable so long as it can groom itself into an image of inevitability. Worse, the ability to perfect this inevitability in our acceptability becomes more material than the essential nature of whatever it was we were trying to solve in the first place. Whatever the desired function was at the outset of these creations of ours becomes somehow secondary to a constant new effort to remain inevitable.

After presenting such a Rumsfeld style introduction (“You can’t know what you don’t know because you don’t know what it is yet.”), perhaps an example would be helpful. What specific “tooth ache” are we currently accepting as unchangeable? What “unthinkable” thought have we gradually eliminated from our human reserve of ideas?

How about the Supreme Court? It has been gradually filled with sub-judicial embarrassments lately thanks to the petty ambitions of the “head crook” and the inspired work of the gang of fourteen. We, as we fulfill our duties under the democracy, have gradually walked away from the scandal. In fact, most of the gang of fourteen will even be reelected!

But that still leaves the problem of the court. Of course there is nothing we can do about it. Of course we just have to live with it. Sure, we can impeach the Chief Justice for conflict of interest. Right. Can anyone remember the campaign to impeach Earl Warren, also a Chief Justice, during the civil rights times? A legion of southern bigots bought roadside billboards and pumped out incendiary speeches, but the busing continued. Chief Justice Warren outlasted them without breaking a sweat.

Now, we have the new, improved Bush version of the Supreme Court. The young, healthy ones are his corporate monkeys, energetically pursuing their dreams of voter suppression, religion in schools and faith-based charities (tax payer extortion) made necessary by disabling parts of the government with corruption. The old, shaky ones seem to still be able to think straight, but their days remaining on the Court are numbered.

Impeaching any of these new justices would take forever. Much sooner than Congress could even consider such a move, the whole Court could well be inhabited by the same types of troubling cultural and judicial throwbacks. So, there is no possibility for us other than to simply “live with it.” Right?

Not exactly. The “no possibility” ideas only exist in thoughts where other “unthinkable” possibilities have been discarded. Perhaps we should consider the entire affair again, this time allowing these old “impossibilities” another chance.

As citizens, under our Constitution, we can dump the whole Supreme Court.

“Oh my God!” Do you mean amending the Constitution? We have been taught that such a thing is nearly impossible! What we have forgotten is that we were taught this by exactly the same folks who stood to lose the most if we ever thought otherwise. Even if we tried, it would take forever! It would take years, possibly even decades, to trot such a thing around to all the States.

Wait a minute. How long do you think we will have to endure the likes of Chief Justice Roberts? Decades after the other insults of George Bush have been disinfected, Chief Justice Roberts and his cronies on the court will still be injecting the same kind of toxic neo-con poison into our society. Anyone who thinks that is too harsh a criticism can review the accomplishments of the so-called Justices in only a year or two.

We can design and create a new Court with a Constitutional amendment. It might require actual judicial expertise in its appointments. It might become quite removed from the endless production of rulings which represent no more than the battle between its conservatives and its liberals.

The highest court in the country is supposed to think about the laws in its judgments, not cheap ideology. Is it impossible to form sound judicial opinions not embedded in the structure of ideology? Have we become mired in the details of personality so deeply that we have forsaken the possibilities of anything more constructive, more judicial?

Bill boards didn’t do it, but a program to promote a Constitutional amendment just might.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

All Rightee! President Time!

Making Tough Decisions: Electing a President in a Media Blackout
or is it, Electing a President in an Electorate Blackout?

Here it is again. November. The wife is poundin’ on me -- “You get out there and vote! If you don’t have one of them ‘I Voted’ stickers, you better not plan on gettin’ your favorite meatloaf for the rest of the year!” She don’t care if it’s colder than a brass bra out here. Oh no. “You get out there and vote!” Women are like that. My mom always told me to vote, too.

So, here we are at Cataclysm Junior High. There’s the ‘Vote Here’ sign. All these people, jeez, there’s no parking. I guess there’s nothin’ to do but go on in there and get it over with.

This is just like last time. Every four years it’s the same. I’m walkin' in to vote and I have no idea who I’m supposed to vote for. At least all the names are listed on the ballots. That makes it easier to remember who is running.

At least, this year, I did my homework. I watched the news a couple of times so I’d, like, know, the questions. The wife says you have to do that to be an educated voter. One thing I do know for sure, and that is whoever gets picked is gonna’ be the guy who runs the country until the next time, you know, the next election. I say guy, but, darn, that woman is running this time. If I vote for the woman, the wife will probably like it.

Still, I promised her that I’d vote my own mind. So, I guess it’s time to boil all these facts down so I know what I’m doin’. Mom always said to pay attention to the church goin’ while you size up each pick. McCain’s preacher thinks that the Catholic Church is the whore of Babylon. That don’t mean much to me, ‘cause I ain’t Catholic. O’Bama’s preacher is a black man who doesn’t act like he’s white, but O’Bama dumped him anyway, whatever that means. Hillary’s little prayer bunch is full of fire-breathin’ neo-cons. She says she ain’t no neo-con, but she never said that the rest of ‘em weren’t.

So, that helps.

And, there’s the screw-ups. McCain said he didn’t know much about the economy but he wanted the war to go on for a hundred years. That’s weird all right, but I don’t rally know anything about the economy, either. O’Bama said that bitter people cling to religion and guns, but I ain’t bitter and I don’t even own a gun. The wife hates guns, but she don’t think he’s no Moslem. Hillary said she got shot at somewhere, but the movie didn’t show it. Sometimes I think I got shot at, but I don’t remember any of the details very well, either.

Stuff like that really does help narrow down the decision.

Yup, I’m registered, thanks to the wife, and now I’m walking up to the little curtain thing. Mom told me to never tell a pollster that I was undecided ‘cause they’d call me on the phone everyday after that. I tried to watch all them numbers the news kept comin’ up with. I’m under fifty, but I’m over twenty-five. I’m pretty sure I’m mostly white, whatever that means. The wife and I go to church every Easter, Christmas, Thanksgiving and them other two days. I earn less than $250,000 and more than $45,000, right? And, I am the proud father of two kids of “mixed sex” like 39% of the rest of the country.

All that stuff says I’m supposed to vote for somebody, but I can’t remember which one. Still, it’s a clue.

I guess I’m just going to do it like last time. So long as everyone thinks I thought about it, I’ll be all right. Plus, I learned something from last time. I ain’t tellin’ nobody who I voted for until I can figure out if it makes me look stupid. If it does make me look stupid, I’ll just lie and say I voted for someone else.

All right, last time I used the alphabet idea. Since “B” came before “K,” I voted for the guy who’s in there now. To keep things democratic, this time I’m going to pick the last guy. Than means that “O” comes after “M,” even though it’s just barely. Huh. I wonder if I should count the “O” part or the “B” part. That would change everything.

Here goes. It’s gonna be “O.” That leaves all these other people to vote for. At least no one’s has ever heard of any of ‘em. For them, I can just use the old “flip the coin” approach. Anyway, no one ever asks whether or not you voted for them, or, you know, which one.

Now, I take this paper back over to the old lady and she gives me my “I Voted” sticker, then it’s home for meatloaf and sex. What a country!