Enjoy the Weekend
It'll be a good one. I think John Kerry is going to win. More thoughts on that next week. Things to do: talk about a Shadow Government and explain why James Lileks is (sometimes) a pompous ass. Later.
Whack fol me darn O, dance to your partner
Whirl the floor, your trotters shake
Wasn't it the truth I told you
Lots of fun at Finnegan's Wake?!!!
It'll be a good one. I think John Kerry is going to win. More thoughts on that next week. Things to do: talk about a Shadow Government and explain why James Lileks is (sometimes) a pompous ass. Later.
Here's a summary of some bloggers' reactions, with links.
Since the lib-ruhl media will give currency to absolutely any crackpot rumor about John Kerry, at least for a few minutes, let's take a short time-out and investigate one of them (which, thankfully, the convention will have diffused).
For the next 40 minutes, Mr. Kerry and ICase fucking closed.
fast-forwarded through silent, washed-out-color
footage of mangrove-choked rivers, sleepy villages and
sailors skinny-dipping, disturbingly interrupted on
occasion by a Vietcong corpse or one of Mr. Kerry's
crewmen torching a thatched hut during a
The first thing to be said is that the senator's
movies are not self-aggrandizing. Mr. Kerry is hardly
in the film, and never strikes so much as a heroic
pose. These are the souvenirs of a 25-year-old guy
sent to an exotic place on an otherworldly mission,
who bought an 8-millimeter camera in the PX and shot a
few hours of travelogue, most of it pretty boring if
you didn't live through it. [Emphasis mine--ed.]
Francis Crick, who discovered the structure of DNA, passed away.
Last month, The New Republic reported that the Bush administration was putting pressure on Pakistan to capture a major al-Qaeda target towards the end of July, to coincide (ever so coincidentally) with the Democratic National Convention. Yesterday, it happened. Read the full report here. Josh Marshall is on about this, too. Josh, when oh when are we getting that bombshell?
Unbelievable: Mickey Kaus gives a thumb's up to the Kerry, and actually provides some of the most cogent analysis of it that I've seen:
1) Good enough! No JFK2! (Kennedy's name wasn't even mentioned, I think. Update: Mentioned only once.) Substantive, non-cheap Bush-bashing! Populism muted-to-nonexistent! Above all, Kerry seemed less pompous, like a guy you could conceivably live with for four years;
2) Also fits with Eddie Yost strategy--didn't say much, presented a small target. At least three of four Pillars of Victory are intact;
3) Smart move to have a passage spotlighting his possible cabinet--took the focus off his own hard-to-like persona, made him potential benignly dull father figure presiding over an interesting administration;
4) Line most likely to come back and haunt: "I will not cut benefits."
5) Man, stem cell research must test well. .... I predict a measurable bounce, if anybody was watching. ... The most encouraging implications of the speech may be that a) Kerry's aides know their candidate's inherent limitations and are willing to correct for them rather than correct them--by not having him try to actually excite the crowd, for example; and b) Kerry's either aware of his limitations himself--or else he's willing to check his ego and listen to his staff's recommendations. Either way, it's encouraging. Kerry didn't try to make us love him or be inspired by him. He was just "reporting for duty." He unexpectedly jettisoned a lifelong JFK obsession. And he didn't (with a few exceptions*) treat his audience as dumb enough to be satisfied with meaningless bromides. ... This can't last. Time for Faster Elections! Can we hold this one next week? ...
*An exception to the no-meaninglessness norm was Kerry's favorite fudge, "America never goes to war because we want to; we only go to war because we have to." The whole issue, after all, is deciding when we "have" to.
It's a pity the networks didn't broadcast the hour leading up to Kerry's speech. If they had, they would have seen a highly effective presentation from Kerry's daughters, his former crewmates, the green beret whose life Kerry saved, a very slick biopic edited by Steven Spielberg, and finally, a great introductory speech from Max Cleland. Even earlier, Wesley Clark gave a speech so good that it left no doubt that he was campaigning (probably successfully) as shadow Secretary of Defense, and also left quite a few people wondering why Clark was such a dismal presidential candidate.
According to Barack Obama, there is one America which is neither red nor blue. According to John Edwards, there are two Americas which are on the way to becoming one America and might get closer to doing so if John Kerry is elected. According to Kerry there is one America that's red, white, and blue.
B+/A- for Kerry. He accomplished several important things; he outperformed John Edwards, which a lot of people thought was impossible; he outperformed expectations by a wide margin; he converted the Democrats from an anti-Bush (and tacitly Clintonite) party into a pro-Kerry party; he used his military record to set up a comparison between himself and Bush that resembles the comparison between Eisenhower and Stevenson; he adopted Reaganite national security rhetoric ("You will lose and we will win. The future belongs not to fear, but to freedom."); he looked very presidential; and most importantly, perhaps, he gave a speech that will be remembered pneumonically, as the "reporting for duty" speech.
Michael Reagan obviously doesn't like Ron too much (scroll down), and doesn't appear to like his stepmom either:
"Appearing on "Hannity & Colmes" on Fox News Tuesday night, he complained that the Democrats were using Ron for his name. Calling Ron Reagan a "typical liberal," he criticized him for not joining the family in a recent ceremony for an aircraft carrier named for their father.I liked Ron's response: "As to the favorite son complaint, he said, 'I don't know what the purpose is of dragging whatever Oedipal stuff he has into this.'"
Asked about Nancy Reagan's views on the convention speech, Michael Reagan sounded resigned. "Ron can do no wrong," he said, and added, "He is her favorite, and there's nothing wrong with that. So she's not going to get very vocal about it at all."
Just Curious. I'd heard some rumors to this effect, but if they were true, I'd think the candidate would want to make a bigger deal of his military record.
From Bill's "novel" (I'm doing the quotation marks sign in the air right now):
Stripping off her bathing-suit, she walked into the huge shower. She pulled the lime green curtain across the entrance and then set the water for a tepid 75-degrees. The spray felt great against her skin as she ducked her head underneath the nozzle. Closing her eyes she concentrated on the tingling sensation of water flowing against her body. Suddenly another sensation entered, Ashley felt two large hands wrap themselves around her breasts and hot breathe [sic] on the back of her neck. She opened her eyes wide and giggled, "I thought you drowned out there snorkel man."You can follow this link for an audio clip of someone reading this crap and trying to keep a straight face.
Tommy O'Malley was naked and at attention. "Drowning is not an option", he said, "unless of course you beg be [sic] to perform unnatural acts – right here in this shower."
Alabama's anti-dildo legislation was just upheld by a federal court. Read more here.
The best thing about the Edwards speech is that it set up the platform for Kerry quite nicely. And now it's Kerry's chance to win this thing. I hope his handlers haven't instructed him to try to be folksy; but the Kerry campaign has been diligent so far in avoiding Al Gore's mistakes, so there's no added reason to worry on that count. The real problem is Kerry's tendency to pander and condescend to people ("Who among us doesn't like NASCAR?"). His model for this speech shouldn't be the Kennedys; it should be the Roosevelts. FDR never tried to disguise the fact that he came from New York aristocracy, and instead rested his political success on an ability to raise people to his own level of discourse without seeming overly intellectual. Kerry must do the same. He's alternately been described as looking French and looking like Lincoln. Kerry has the ability to look and sound like a man who should be president. Middle America won't resent him for that; FDR was their paladin once, too.
In life, as in politics, there is a place for children and there are places where children should not be. One of those is the gym. Yesterday, I had to wait fifteen minutes while a mother allowed her son to play with a leg press machine. My inconvenience was the smallest problem. The boy could have been badly injured. But of course, I'm worse than Saddam if I say anything about it.
During his prolonged rant last night, Al Sharpton referred to Barack Obama as "Obama Baracka." Now I can't prove this, but I think he had gotten the name confused with that of Amiri Baraka, the consummate bard of ressentiment. It's a further illustration of the difference between Obama and Sharpton, between a black politician who wants to be an American leader and takes politics seriously, and a self-appointed black "activist" who doesn't understand the difference between politics and self-promotion (or truth and falsehood, for that matter).
Edwards' speech was good if not great; so far the third best convention speech after Obama and Clinton, and certainly the best vice presidential acceptance speech of my lifetime. The content was pure populism, but it was hidden under a veneer of Reagan-style sunny rhetoric and North Carolina twang. I was a bit surprised to see the entire MSNBC panel splooging themselves over Edwards (especially Andrea Mitchell), but astonished to see the Fox panel doing the same thing. Interestingly, Edwards' tough-guy-on-terrorism line ("you cannot run, you cannot hide, we will destroy you"), while impressing Bill Kristol enormously, seemed a bit phony to the MSNBC commentators. (I think one of them said "he's too pretty to say something like that.") The problem with the line, however, had nothing to do with Edwards' appearance---the problem is that it drew only tepid applause (and I might even have heard a couple of boos.) The rhetorical climax of the speech, and the part that I assume will get the most coverage, was the "hope is on the way" refrain, which cunningly targeted pretty much every swing-voter demographic.
The Rev just pulled the lid off of heretofore suppressed Democratic ressentiment. He departed from the script that Kerry's people approved, pushed over into prime time, and eventually exploded into an apoplectic fit.
"Daniel Wagner's A Movie ... and a Book is the worst book I have ever voluntarily read," writes Aleksander Hemon in Slate. "Wagner is a 29-year-old snowboarder from Switzerland and has never written a book before. It seems that he has never read one either. Beginning with the absurd title, every page reveals such rich ineptitude in thinking and writing that its 100 or so pages feel endless...[much later]...It is no longer necessary to be able to write in order to be a writer. You just have to appear cool, and some publisher, forgetting what brought him to books in the first place, will pick up the meanderings you jotted down stoned out of your head."
Fascinating exchange between Reason's Matt Welch and Jerry Brown:
Brown:Are you a follower of Hayek?Who would have thought Brown is even a reader of Hayek?
Me: I’m a reader of Hayek, I wouldn’t describe myself as a--
Brown: I’m a reader of Hayek.
Me: (trying to change subject) Is there a—
Brown: Are you a reader of British philosophy, do you find that interesting?
Me: I’m not much like, you know, the whole, uh … I’m not a very learned guy. I’m not like your pal Jacques.
Me: There’s a lot of libertarians who are really into that political philosophy stuff. I’m kinda practical and dull-witted -- I’m from Long Beach, California.
Brown: Oh, that’s why. Most people from Long Beach derive from Iowa.
Me: Exactly. Exactly.
Brown: The good news about that is, that more people like corn than caviar.
Me: Speaking of libertarians, do you think that there’s more, is there a legitimate free-market kinda reason to go Democrat instead of Republican these days?
Brown: Uh, I think the Bush politicizing of science and distorting it, that’s certainly not reasonable. So that’s important. I think that Kerry’s a pretty reasonable guy. You know they say that “where’s the passion?” Well, there’s a lot reason there, and there’s a lot of thoughtfulness. And yes he’s a political person, and political person is apt to be flexible, that’s also true. But flexibility is a quality in an ever-changing world. Rigidity is definitely a vice.
NPR host Scott Simon takes down F9/11 on, of all places, the WSJ's editorial page. And in an aside, he notices the pathology of excuse-making liberal reviewers:
In the New York Times, Paul Krugman wrote that, "Viewers may come away from Moore's movie believing some things that probably aren't true," and that he "uses association and innuendo to create false impressions." Try to imagine those phrases on a marquee. But that is his rave review! He lauds "Fahrenheit 9/11" for its "appeal to working-class Americans." Do we really want to believe that only innuendo, untruths, and conspiracy theories can reach working-class Americans?Right on. I made the same points here and here.
The reporter that THK "shockingly" told to "shove it" works for a Richard Mellon Scaife operation in Western Pennsylvania that has spent years maligning Mr and Mrs. Kerry. Here's Joe Conason's rough sketch. Money quote:
Years before her first husband’s death in 1991, Teresa Heinz came to feel that Mr. Scaife had misused his newspaper to punish her and her husband for dissenting from right-wing Republican orthodoxy. Since her marriage to John Kerry in 1995, the hostility of the Scaife press and the outfits funded by Scaife foundations toward her has been nothing short of vicious.Somehow I don't expect to see the lib-ruhl media picking up on this.
A few days after the Massachusetts Senator and his wife celebrated their second Christmas together, the Tribune-Review ran a column suggesting that Mr. Kerry had been enjoying a "very private" relationship with another woman. There was no byline on the story and no evidence to support the salacious insinuation. There was nothing to it, in fact, except pure malice.
When fresh accusations about her husband’s fidelity erupted earlier this year in the right-wing press, Ms. Heinz Kerry could scarcely have been surprised that the smear’s most eager purveyors included Internet sites financed by Mr. Scaife and his family foundations. Those "news sources" have also impugned Mr. Kerry’s patriotism, maligned his military service and distorted his voting record. They happen to be operated by the same discredited scribblers who once tried to convince America that Bill and Hillary Clinton were murderers and drug smugglers.
Meanwhile, Ms. Kerry herself is hardly exempt from the angry fantasies emanating from Mr. Scaife’s strange universe. Last spring, a Scaife-funded "research group" sent out a study that accused her of covertly financing violent radicals of various kinds, including Islamists, through the straitlaced Heinz foundations that she controls. There was absolutely no basis for that tale—as the right-wing sleuths could have learned by making a single phone call. The Heinz money they had "traced" through a San Francisco group had actually gone in its entirety to support anti-pollution projects in Pennsylvania.
Faux-Jew Madonna's [who? oh, you mean Esther--ed.] co-optation of a culture she isn't a part of and doesn't understand has reached a new low.
Josh Marshall posted this just before Obama's speech:
Obama probably would have won the Illinois Senate seat in November by a solid margin regardless. Now it's not clear that it'll even be a contest after his opponent's candidacy collapsed amid his would-be party constituents close-mindedness about his desire to see his movie star wife have sex with other men in Paris sex clubs. So he was sort of a martyr to Babbitry, you might say.That's pretty lazy reporting, Josh. Republicans didn't destroy Jack Ryan's candidacy, except in the sense that they legitimized prying into candidates' sexual histories back in the 90s. On the contrary, the liberal Chicago Tribune won an injunction to open Ryan's divorce records just in case there might have been something to interest voters [note the distinction between that and something that is in the voters' interest to know--ed.].
I was with this guy until he started talking about Terence Trent D'Arby. But yeah, smooth jazz is bullshit.
Um, just keep her away from the Kennedys.
Aside from Obama, the Democrats had a decidely mixed night. I thought Ron Reagan was serious, graceful, and impressive; Andrew Sullivan thought he was "excruciating"; Ramesh Ponnuru thought it "was not nearly as contemptible as [he] had expected it to be," which I guess is a kind of praise.
The New York Times has the full text of his remarks here. I'm not going to say a star was born, because that's a cliche, and I don't believe in cliches. But you get the idea. Money quote:
Now even as we speak, there are those who are preparing to divide us, the spin masters, the negative ad peddlers who embrace the politics of anything goes. Well, I say to them tonight, there is not a liberal America and a conservative America — there is the United States of America. There is not a Black America and a White America and Latino America and Asian America — there’s the United States of America.
The pundits, the pundits like to slice-and-dice our country into Red States and Blue States; Red States for Republicans, Blue States for Democrats. But I’ve got news for them, too. We worship an awesome God in the Blue States, and we don’t like federal agents poking around in our libraries in the Red States. We coach Little League in the Blue States and yes, we’ve got some gay friends in the Red States. There are patriots who opposed the war in Iraq and there are patriots who supported the war in Iraq.
We are one people, all of us pledging allegiance to the stars and stripes, all of us defending the United States of America. In the end, that’s what this election is about. Do we participate in a politics of cynicism or do we participate in a politics of hope?
John Kerry calls on us to hope. John Edwards calls on us to hope.
I’m not talking about blind optimism here - the almost willful ignorance that thinks unemployment will go away if we just don’t think about it, or the health care crisis will solve itself if we just ignore it. That’s not what I’m talking about. I’m talking about something more substantial. It’s the hope of slaves sitting around a fire singing freedom songs. The hope of immigrants setting out for distant shores. The hope of a young naval lieutenant bravely patrolling the Mekong Delta. The hope of a millworker’s son who dares to defy the odds. The hope of a skinny kid with a funny name who believes that America has a place for him, too.
Hope in the face of difficulty. Hope in the face of uncertainty. The audacity of hope! In the end, that is God’s greatest gift to us, the bedrock of this nation. A belief in things not seen. A belief that there are better days ahead.
I really like Teresa Heinz Kerry and she seemed impressive to me tonight, but then, I like European women way too much to be an impartial judge of her speech. (Plus, I think accents and fluency in other languages are sexy.) The initial reaction from Joe Scarborough was that it wouldn't play well at all in swing states, while Andrea Mitchell was convinced that it was a marvelous effort at shoring up the female vote. We'll see.
Who could have predicted that a Reagan chant would go up at a Democratic convention? Maybe you saw Republican operatives on TV claiming that Ron Reagan's appearance at the DNC was offset by Zell Miller's appearance at the RNC. Tonight proved them wrong. Zell Miller couldn't deliver a speech to equal Reagan's if his life depended on it, let alone outdo Reagan's subtle side-taking with crass partisanship.
After a sloppy and self-flattering speech from Howard Dean, Barack Obama gave the keynote address.
So is Matt Drudge. I hesitated before linking to Drudge's transcript of the O'Reilly/Moore face-off.
First reaction: the speech was scattershot in every sense of the word. In stark contrast to Clinton and Carter, Kennedy didn't even try to tie together his various themes. Some of the attack lines were clever and insightful, and some were silly. Most of the attempts at humor were just lame. Unless my ears failed me, Kennedy seemed to have compared the Bush administration to apartheid South Africa, Hannoverian domination of America, and Stasi control of East Berlin. A Kerry victory, he suggested, would be a modern day Boston tea party. The mollifying element in all this was a really bland and abstract run-through of early American history.
Suggested TV commercial:Sounds like somebody got served.
FADE IN: on Ted Kennedy, on the podium, partway through his garbled
convention speech, as he delivers the line, "The only thing we have to
fear is four more years of George W. Bush!"
CUT TO: New York City skyline. The old one. With the World Trade
By now you might have seen or at least heard about John Kerry's asinine photo-op at the Kennedy Space center. As soon as I saw it, I immediately recalled Woody Allen's sperm outfit in Everything You Wanted To Know About Sex. Well, now an enterprising blogger has the comparison shots. No matter what he tells you, this was my idea first.
Michelle Malkin, who might be one of the Republican hotties Ann Coulter was talking about, really doesn't like Wonkette (real name Ana Marie Cox). Specifically, Malkin disapproves of the media's receptiveness towards "skankettes" like Cox and her protege, Jessica Cutler, a.k.a Washingtonienne, a Congressional staffer who traded sexual favors for money and career perks. At a speech at the Clare Booth Luce Policy Institute, Malkin denounced the libertines:
Jessica, as many of you probably already know, has a three-hundred thousand dollar book deal, an upcoming Playboy photo shoot, and a Washington Post front cover article coming soon I hear. The woman who was her "mentor", Wonkette, Ana Marie Cox nabbed appearances on CNN and Fox and signed on to an MTV reporting gig during which she'll cover the Democratic National Convention this week [smirk].I think the lesson it "tells" [sic] an aspiring Washington yuppette is that there are many avenues to career advancement, including being a professional woman as well as a professional woman, and proceeding to blog about one's trysts without even trying to keep things anonymous. Is that such a bad thing? And was Malkin's smirk a smirk of regret over the road not taken?
What kind of lesson does that tell you if you are a young professional woman in Washington [smirk]?
This ultra-Blue State-hip quiz goes some distance to shielding us all from the glitzy, fake, apolitical carnivals in Boston and New York. Kerry's line, "Who among us doesn't like NASCAR," is so bad that it's good.
Dan Okrent answers the question of whether or not the New York Times is a liberal paper: "Of course it is." Money lines:
Times publisher Arthur O. Sulzberger Jr. doesn't think this walk through The Times is a tour of liberalism. He prefers to call the paper's viewpoint "urban." He says that the tumultuous, polyglot metropolitan environment The Times occupies means "We're less easily shocked," and that the paper reflects "a value system that recognizes the power of flexibility."Good for Okrent. The Times doesn't have to pretend to be something that it's not. He goes on to argue that Times reporters need to make more of an effort to reach beyond the "urban sensibilities" of their "co-religionists," and he's right about that too.
He's right; living in New York makes a lot of people think that way, and a lot of people who think that way find their way to New York (me, for one). The Times has chosen to be an unashamed product of the city whose name it bears, a condition magnified by the been-there-done-that irony afflicting too many journalists. Articles containing the word "postmodern" have appeared in The Times an average of four times a week this year - true fact! - and if that doesn't reflect a Manhattan sensibility, I'm Noam Chomsky.
I'd be remiss if I didn't link to Matt Bai's Sunday Times article on plans for establishing a permanent campaign (or "message machine") for the Democratic party, to be funded by left of center billionaires. The idea is to match the decades old message coordination among conservatives and Republicans (what, you think it's just a coincidence that everything Sean Hannity says is part of the RNC talking points). Definitely worth reading (warning: it's very long).
Love Bill Clinton or hate him (I'm closer to the latter), he laid out what should be the dominant themes of this year's convention. David Corn has more thoughts along these lines, as well as most of the Clinton speech, here.
David Brooks has one of the most insightful pieces I've seen on the dynamics behind Kerry's rise and potential victory.
Worldnet Daily reprinted the article that USA Today refused to run. I guess Ann knew she was off to flying start when she cleared her throat by saying "Here at the Spawn of Satan convention in Boston...." and breathlessly proceeded to accuse Democrats of "constantly...slandering police as violent, racist fascists." Funny how I've never heard that epithet.
As for the pretty girls, I can only guess that it's because liberal boys never try to make a move on you without the U.N. Security Council's approval. Plus, it's no fun riding around in those dinky little hybrid cars. My pretty-girl allies stick out like a sore thumb amongst the corn-fed, no make-up, natural fiber, no-bra needing, sandal-wearing, hirsute, somewhat fragrant hippie-chick pie wagons they call "women" at the Democratic National Convention.Coulter is, of course, exactly right. I, for one, have never tried to make a move on a girl without seeking the UN Security Council's approval, and every single liberal man I know has at least once written to Kofi Annan for romantic advice. But if I could offer a word to any liberal men around Boston who might run into the Blond Beastess: don a "cross or American flag" so that Coulter will identify you as one of "[her] allies," and give her the rogering of her life. Then, when she's begging for a second go-round, let her know you're voting for Kerry. Also, consult this on techniques to use.
The good folks at NRO's The Corner are having a tough time coping with the Dems' success on night one. They promised more reactions after midnight and they delivered...with a consummately unfunny riff on Gigli. None of the Gigli blurbs even make sense in this context; and the point of one of them might be to compare Ben Affleck's politics to Saddam Hussein's and Hitler's, which doesn't mean that Barbara Comstock actually intends such an implication, but rather that she's hopelessly inept at comedy.
It was probably the most Republican-looking Democratic convention since the formation of the modern Democratic coalition under FDR, and also just about the slickest presentation they've ever had. Al Gore was funny-for-Gore, restrained in his rhetoric, and seemed a lot more comfortable as a speaker than he ever did as Vice President. But the one-two combo came from Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton (more on that below). They managed to deliver stinging criticisms of Bush from both the right and the left, all the while using southern folksiness and the gravitas of being former presidents to shield themselves from charges of cheap partisanship or "negativity." They sounded all the right notes on defense, foreign policy, and domestic concerns, and tied these issues together seamlessly. The initial reactions at CNN and MSNBC were extremely positive (even Joe Scarborough conceded that night one was masterful), and since the media coverage is bound to be a PR-driven echo chamber, the Dems are poised to have a fantastically successful convention.
The other movie I saw was Conspiracy, a 2001 HBO docudrama on the Wannsee conference, starring Kenneth Branagh as Reinhard Heydrich, Stanley Tucci as Adolf Eichmann, and Colin Firth as Wilhelm Stuckart (the principal author of the Nuremberg laws), and a cast of famous-for-Brits character actors. Rather than try to summarize the plot, I'll refer you to a very intelligent review from IMDB.com. Money quote:
The well-deserved demonization of Adolf Hitler has the regrettable side effect of obscuring the evil of his cronies and subordinates from anyone but historians, like a baleful sun whose light obscures the stars. Below the level of Hitler, the public's view of the German government dissolves into an amorphous mass called `Nazis,' the interchangeable automatons of the Führer. If the movie achieves nothing else, it will put Reinhard Heydrich and Adolf Eichmann on the map as villains in their own right, not mere extensions of Hitler. Kenneth Branagh's performance as Heydrich, the `Blond Beast,' is unnerving; he is the personification of that ruthless will, impervious to either reason or human feeling, which Hitler admired. This performance would be a star-making turn for a young actor; for Branagh, it is routine, maybe even a bit below average for this amazing performer.When I travelled through Germany a few years ago, I actually had the chance to sail around the Wannsee. The mansion where Heydrich and Eichmann formally enacted the Final Solution was visible from the boat, and the experience of seeing it, amid the breathtaking beauty of the lake and the surrounding woods, was sort of ineffable. That such horrific, inhuman cruelty have been carried out in a setting of pristine serenity, casts Hannah Arendt's ideas about the banality of evil in a new light. The same haunting combination of beauty and evil is evident in the movie, when Branagh as Heydrich claims that the adagio of a Schubert symphony "will just tear your heart out" and tells Major Lange (Barnaby Kay) that he is a dreamer.
I spent a good chunk of yesterday watching two movies. The first was Robert Greenwald's Outfoxed, the documentary of "Rupert Murdoch's war on journalism." Before seeing the film, but excited about the prospect of an anti-FNC movie, I sort of reccomended it here. I have to qualify that recommendation now. Perhaps I don't know exactly what I was expecting, but I found Outfoxed rather underwhelming.
I'm absolutely in awe of a man who could choose travel, serenity, and---let's face it---ganja over a successful (and perhaps Hall of Fame) career in the NFL. The existential polarity in professional sports is represented by Ricky Williams on one side, and Tom Brady, who was present at Mr. Bush's State of the Union in order to confirm the fact that steroids are a national security threat, on the other. Fuck Tom Brady!
TNR republishes a fascinating editorial from 1948 in which the editors argued that the Democrats should not renominate Harry Truman. Worth a read just for its historical significance. And also as a reminder of what a disaster it would have been if that Stalinoid hack Henry Wallace hadn't been dumped from the ticket in 1944 and had become president after FDR's death.
Just a few hours now until the opening act. If you're a bit nostalgic for the days when conventions were unscripted and the outcome was not predetermined (not too long ago, Ted Kennedy nearly ousted a sitting president), tune in to Al Gore's speech. He gets ridiculed for behaving crazily in recent public appearances, but I think he's actually channeling the ghosts of Jonathan Edwards and Cotton Mather. So we may be in for a "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God" treat tonight.
My thoughts re: the 9/11 Commission report are best expressed by E.J. Dionne in the Washington Post. Money quote:
But a fear of partisanship should not stop President Bush and Democratic candidate John Kerry from debating the commission's recommendations during the campaign. It's essential that they do so. In particular, the president should tell us why, 34 months after Sept. 11, he has not proposed some of these steps himself. One thing this report makes clear is that there is a lot left to do.
And that is why the second stage of the debate is about accountability, which cannot be dismissed as blame-mongering. Simply put, our government has a lot to answer for. Kean and the commission carefully avoided singling out individuals, but Kean's words yesterday were unequivocal: "This was a failure of policy, management, capability and above all a failure of imagination. . . . What we can say with a good deal of confidence is that none of the measures adopted by the United States government before 9/11 disturbed or even delayed the progress of the al Qaeda plot."
After turning down an invitation to speak at the NAACP conference, Mr. Bush addressed the Urban League last week. Here's Andrew Sullivan's choice quote and reaction:
Bush asked: "Is it a good thing for the African-American community to be represented mainly by one political party? Have the traditional solutions of the Democrat Party truly served the African-American people?" That's the difference between a group of people you respect and want to win over and a group of people you marginalize for political gain.Whatever uplift Andrew might have found there, I think, gets vaporized by this choice bit, via Wonkette:
Do you remember a guy named Charlie Gaines? Somebody gave me a quote he said, which I think kind of describes the environment we're in today. I think he's a friend of Jesse's. He said, "Blacks are gagging on the donkey but not yet ready to swallow the elephant."Given Bush's anti-gay positions, I wouldn't have expected him to endorse either gagging on donkeys or swallowing elephants.
The Springboks nearly beat the All Blacks in Christchurch this past weekend; they lead 21-18 going into the final minute, when NZ strung 15 phases together which ended in a Doug Howlett try a few seconds after full time, for a 23-21 final score. For the record, I predicted a Bok win here, so fuck everybody who picked NZ to win in a blowout. (And if you're a gambler and you bet on the Boks, well done. Sacrifice something to the gods of the point spread.)
From Da Ali G Show this week (slight paraphrase):
Ali G: Did Saddam have weapons of mass destruction, or BLTs as they's called?
Patrick Buchanan: Not only did he have BLTs, but he used them on the Kurds.
Ali G: But does you fink it's ever right to fight a war over sandwiches?
Patrick Buchanan: Is it ever right?...Yes.
One quick post and then I'm going endangered species hunting for the weekend. Here were the headlines when I opened AIM this morning:
Georgewbush.com hosted an online chat session with the twins, and Wonkette has a transcript. Read this while I try to figure out something witty to say:
Andrea Toth from Canoga Park CA wrote:Not sure I'm up to the task here. There are just too many possibilities. Do they admire Havel more for his years of struggle against communism and his writing, or his appreciation of the Stones? Was Barbara extremely inspired while Jenna was extremely moved (or vice versa), or were they both somewhat inspired and moved, or was one of them extremely inspired and moved while the other was indifferent, or was one of them super-duper extremely inspired and moved while the other was actively hostile? Too close to call, I'd say. Wonkette might be on to something:
What foreign leaders or diginitaries have you met?
Barbara and Jenna Bush answered:
Yes, Andrea, and that is definitely one of the best things about being the daughters of a President. We have both gotten to meet some extremely intelligent, interesting people. We both met former President of the Czech Republic, Vaclav Havel, and felt extremely inspired and moved. He is a man who was imprisoned for fighting communism and was the first President of the Czech Republic. He also is an amazing author and playwright and he loves the Rolling Stones! We have also met Tony Blair of Great Britain and Vladimir Putin of Russia - in addition to being highly intelligent and amazing leaders, they both have a great sense of humor!
It's not just that 22-year-olds don't talk like that, it's that no one talks like that. Jenna and Barb weren't answering these questions, these questions were being answered by Ken Mehlman and Karl Rove, who may have been dressed like Jenna and Barb.Yeah, but take a look at the exchange with Andrea again. Why did they answer a question she didn't ask? Are Rove and Mehlman cross-dressing robots who can only give pre-programmed responses? Doesn't that sound more like Dick Cheney? [Being a robot or being a cross-dresser?--ed.] [Both!--F.]
In fact, he used the phrase "gay marriage." Andrew Sullivan gets really excited about it. Umm, Andrew, the context was during his (cynical?) attempt to get the Hate Amendment passed. It's not as if he didn't know the word existed. Karl Rove just wanted to make sure he didn't acknowledge that gay people exist. Is this really an improvement?
JFK committed what was probably a miniature gaffe recently when, after claiming to be a Red Sox fan, butchered the names of Red Sox players and said that Eddie Yost, who never played for the Sox but did coach them at one time, was his "favorite Red Sox player of all time." Peter Gammons on that here. And here's the Kerry defense page. Notice this comment:
Eddie Yost was a mediocre hitter who became an All-Star by letting the opposing pitcher screw up: he often led the league in walks, was near the top in on-base percentage. Boring, seemingly passive, reliable, effective. Sound like any Presidential candidates we know?Interesting. Mickey Kaus notices the parallels, too.
ESPN.com features an article about Marion Jones' ex-husband C.J. Hunter accusing her of using banned substances including designer steroids, growth hormone, and EPO during her preparations for the 2000 Olympics in Sydney. Jones' handlers are claiming that Hunter, who has tested positive for steroids many times, is just trying to get revenge on Jones for ending their marriage.
The ACLU has an abso-fucking-lutely awesome web animation here.
My final response to Jonathan is now up. You can find it here. I'm not going to post another substantive response to him, both because it's time to diversify the content of the site, and also because I don't want this to turn into a race to see who gets the last word. I'll be sure to read any further responses of his though.
Oh that report. Daniel Drezner provides links to the report, the executive summary, and good early coverage here.
Some things are too awesome to make up, and this might be the greatest Page 6 item ever: "THE power-moguls and political heavyweights now luxuriating at ultra-exclusive retreat Bohemian Grove are unaware that they're being waited on hand-and-foot by a famous gay porn star." What is the Bohemian Grove, you ask? It's an annual retreat for the, um, right-leaning male members of the world's polticial and financial elite. Grove alumni include George H.W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Alexander Haig, Henry Kissinger, William F. Buckley, and John Major, and every Republican president since Calvin Coolidge has attended. It's sort of like Skull and Bones, only simultaneously more powerful and more infantile:
When they're not listening to policy speeches, "Bohos" are known to urinate freely in the redwoods and perform mock-druidic rituals that revolve around a 40-foot-tall stone owl. In one ritual, called "Cremation of Care," members wearing red-hooded robes cremate a coffin effigy of "Dull Care" at the base of the owl altar.Nixon sure knew how to deliver a line, didn't he? Naturally, the good folks over at Wonkette, Gawker, and Fleshbot are all over this.
While the club has claimed its share of accomplishments — Grovers privately boast that the Manhattan Project to develop the atom bomb was conceived on its grounds — its oddball activities aren't for everyone. Richard Nixon once famously described the gathering as "the most faggy goddamned thing you could ever imagine."
Via Andrew Sullivan, check out this almost unbelievable quote from Michael Portillo, who is one of very few indications that the Conservative Party might have a future:
American policy in Iraq since the fall of Baghdad has been incompetent. Donald Rumsfeld, the US defence secretary, used too few troops to secure the borders or to capture the stockpiles of weaponry. Disbanding Iraq's security forces was a foreseeable error. Backing Ahmed Chalabi for president flew in the face of wise counsel. The blitz on Falluja was a military and diplomatic catastrophe. The rather good interim government of Iraq that took power last week emerged in spite of, not because of, the United States...
I begin to think the West can purge itself of American misdemeanours only by some symbolic sacrifice. Rumsfeld would have done nicely had the president dismissed him over the Abu Ghraib horrors. He signally failed to do it. Now only the defeat of the Republican administration will suffice.
Senator John Kerry does not impress. Whereas the president has difficulty in stringing two words together, the Democratic candidate can say nothing in fewer than four long sentences, which is worse. The main charge against Kerry - a telling one -is that he is inconsistent. But is Bush less so? Was not this president elected on a platform of disengagement and did he not go on to fight two foreign wars? Did he set out for battle despising the UN and America's former allies in "old Europe", and does he not now grub about for their moral and practical support? ... For America to brush away its recent disgraces, the electorate will have to bin this administration. I never expected to say this to my American friends: vote Democrat.
Yup, got one already. By a 51-46 margin, the Senate confirmed J. Leon Holmes was confirmed as a judge in a federal distict court in Arkansas. The reason the vote was so close is that Holmes had co-authored [with his wife!!!--ed.] an article claiming that the role of a wife "is to subordinate herself to the husband" and the role of a woman "is to place herself under the authority of the man" [sounds like Ayn Rand--ed.]. Why? Because Holmes and wife interpret the Bible that way, and also believe that civil law should reflect their interpretation of the Bible. Among Holmes's opponents in the Senate were Republicans Susan Collins, Lisa Murkowski, and Kay Bailey Hutchison.
Considering this post from a few days ago, I probably ought to avoid writing anything that could be considered emo. Bear with me, though. I'm not going to recite Marx or confess a sexual inadequacy so that girls will like me (unless that works, in which case I'd do it in a heartbeat). Tonight was the best time I've had all summer, which isn't necessarily saying a lot, given the soul-wrenching monotony and boredom of my job. It started when I went uptown with one of my poker buddies to the Yale Club, where apparently there are Thursday night cocktails all summer. Maybe because it was my first time at one of these gatherings, it felt like a reunion, and I was genuinely surprised at my happiness in seeing old friends---one person in particular. I'm finding out little by little that people I know, and some that I don't know, are reading this website, and I want to thank them all for doing so. Blogging is the most self-indulgent activity possible, a kind of cyber-therapy on the cheap. Not only has this site been the most important thing I've done in a long time, but its effect on me has been truly liberating. Something about the medium has enabled me to express my character more freely than perhaps I ever have before. Of course it isn't going to last long, but everything feels pretty good right now, and I'm going to enjoy the high. Keep reading, and please, go ahead and post comments.
Leftism gone too far is often the result of secular ideology embracing the inflexibility of religious dogma. Look at this example, via Virgina Postrel. Reading the article, I was reminded of Christopher Hitchens' remark several years ago about "people, who, discovering a snake in their child's bed, would immediately place a call to the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals." [He might have meant to say "the NSPCA," but that's a small quibble--ed.]
Last week, we linked to an article by TNR's Jonathan Chait, arguing in mostly non-ideological terms that George W. Bush's administration has made this country less democratic. At Opinion Duel, a site co-hosted by TNR and the National Review, NR's Andrew McCarthy responded. The ongoing dialogue is well worth reading, and you can follow it here.
I'm having a fairly brutal day at work...I'm about half-way through Jonathan's rebuttal, and I'll finish as soon as I can.
And so is Victoria Murphy of Forbes Magazine. For those following the story, Jadakiss is this season's Ludacris. O'Reilly, who obviously "gets" hip-hop, and Murphy, who obviously does too, had this enlightening exchange:
MURPHY: This rapper's probably a one-hit wonder anyway, and it turns out it probably wasn't such a smart decision, but Microsoft is a smart company and what they want to do is sell more software, not promote some rapper's political ideas...Yup, that's what they do.
O'REILLY: Yeah, I mean we understand what their marketing is, to get kids to play this X-Box with Jadakiss, but you know, July 5th, Jadakiss is arrested in Fayetteville, North Carolina, for, uh...
MURPHY: Right, but that's what rappers do right, they get arrested?
O'REILLY: Yeah, I guess that's what they do...
This story alone proves that the man is pondscum. After attacking a guest who is running a website that "outs" the gay staffers of anti-gay legislators, Mr. O made reference for the third time since November to "the lesbian judge" who dissented from the MA SJC ruling that legalized gay marriage. On no occasion did O'Reilly name the judge, but of the three dissenters, only one, Martha B. Sosman, is a woman, so it's unlikely that the two male dissenters are lesbians. Judge Sosman has denied through spokesmen that she is a lesbian but O'Reilly will continue to make the charge, since it is verified by "more than one independent source."
Maybe in order to streamline the process a bit, Jonathan was kind enough to divide his post into separate points. Let's go over each one:
Point one: Finnegan says that he does not understand this statement of mine:Jonathan is mixing, matching, and conflating legal arguments pretty much ad hoc. (I'll skip the points about polyamory, because they're addressed later.) The legality of homosexual sex and the validity of gay marriage are entirely separate issues. The striking down of sodomy laws in general is based on the principle that the Constitution creates a fundamental right to privacy---an assumption that has governed American Constitutional law for decades. In Lawrence, the Supreme Court not only struck down the Texas anti-sodomy law on right-to-privacy grounds, but also on equal protection grounds, since the Texas statute only applied to homosexuals. The Lawrence decision, however, only relates to the fight for gay marriage rights in that it put to a permanent end the criminalization of homosexuality and legitimized the principle that sexual orientation is a valid consideration in determining equal protection abuses. It would be stupid to argue, and no one has done so, that the fact that homosexual sex is not criminal automatically means that gays have the right to marry. As to Jonathan's contention that the state has arbitrarily involved itself in marriage, I would assume, to echo the post that he originally responded to, that he does not support the Ralph Nader position that the word "marriage" should have no place in civil law, and that the state should merely regulate civil unions between heterosexual and homosexual couples."You are misguided on the polygamy vs. gay marriage point. It is a bit like saying 'it is okay to fall in love with many different people, but not more than one at a time."'Well, I do not see the problem with the state condoning polygamy when it does condone people cheating on each other. That is, if I go cheat on my girlfriend, what is the state going to do about that? Nothing. Thus, the discrimination against polygamous people is arbitrarily enforced -- not merely against homosexuals."Firstly, I am merely attacking [Finnegan's] [Sorry Jonathan, but we have to protect our blogging alias--ed.] argument against the state intruding on privacy, which it does in the case of "polyamory." If the key legal reason why homosexual sex, and thus gay marriage, is legal (see Lawrence v. Texas) has to do with non-state intrusion (a bona fide right to privacy), then why must the state pick and choose which sexual relationships to make legal or illegal. That is merely my point here. The fact that the state is in the marriage business altogether is 'arbitrary' in the sense that it arose out of the Christian canon law.
Of course, this raises a different interesting question: why is the state in the business of marriage altogether anymore? Is it legitimacy of monogamous couples? Tradition? Family? Perhaps that the continuation of the human races largely depends on monogamous heterosexual relationships? Even a proponent of same-sex marriage cannot deny this. If every relationship in the world were of the same-sex, how would humanity live on (minus scientific advancements that could fertilize)?
Point 2: [Finnegan] dazzles as our resident philogist. Polyamory should be used, not polygamy - since polygamy is ambiguous, he says. Well, I prefer polygyny (but not many people know what that is), so I use polygamy. For argument's sake I think Webster's will vindicate my position that polygamy can refer to a man or woman with multiple wives of the opposite sex: "The having of a plurality of wives or husbands at the same time; usually, the marriage of a man to more than one woman, or the practice of having several wives, at the same time." I do not think it matters whether one has many wives or one has many husbands. Polygamy suffices as a concrete enough term.The dispute here isn't philological, but pragmatic. What Webster's vindicates is that the term "polygamy" in contemporary discourse always refers to marital arrangements, and it "usually" refers to "the marriage of a man to more than one woman" because using it to refer to one woman with several men is etymologically incorrect (the word for that is polyandry). The reason the distinction between polygamy and polyamory is important is that the latter term can mean any relationship involving sex between multiple partners; polygamy exclusively refers to group-marriages. Polyamorous relationships are perfectly legal, provided no one attempts to enter into a group marriage. Polygamous relationships are not legal. No one's trying to dazzle. Let's just keep our terms straight.
Point 2.5: This point is so 'rife' with hyperbole that it ought to be left for readers to decide its veracity:Jonathan seems awfully confident of himself, so I'd like to hear him name an historical instance of a culture in which group marriage (i.e. not just polyamorous sex) was prevalent and various forms of abuse were not, including, at the absolute least, women having the status of chattel. Like I said, I have no objection from first principles to group marriages. I just can't envision a set of circumstances in which a group marriage is something other than the sort of thing that goes on under the radar in Utah.
Personally, I don't have a huge problem with allowing groups of people to marry each other. The problem is that every historical instantiation of polyamory involving multiple marriage is rife with physical and sexual abuse.Every instance? Don't set the bar too low for me. But sarcasm aside, even if this is mostly true this does not mean the state should legislate based on what may happen. The possibility for a loving and abuse-free relationship depends largely upon the people involved. Every relationship is a fresh start; each one has the potential to be abusive. Banning a relationship merely because it is likely to be abusive seems a lot like the state banning second marriages to people in which their first marriage was dissolved due to abuse.
Point 3: I think that using this line of argumentation just helps my case:Let's hold off on your next point for a moment. It's nonsense to talk about "changing the definition of marriage." The definition of marriage is constantly in flux, and its current iteration, as enunciated in civil law, looks nothing like the civil marriage of a hundred years ago. If what Jonathan meant, instead, is that both polygamists and homosexuals want to fundamentally change the restrictions on who may enter into a marriage, then he is half-right. Civil marriage in the United States has taken on many forms, but it has always fundamentally been a binary relationship. Polygamists want to change that. From a libertarian standpoint, I don't entirely oppose them. Homosexuals, by contrast, want to remove restrictions on civil marriage that no longer reflect the reality of the institution. Namely, except, as I keep having to say, for the fact that they are not heterosexual, a homosexual couple can fulfill every legal criterion for entering into a civil marriage.What Jonathan is not legally able to do is marry one woman, and then marry another. I'll defend to the death his right to cheat on his girlfriend and take on as many sexual partners, men and women, as he desires...A polyamorous heterosexual person is free to marry any person with whom he falls in love. What he lacks is the freedom to marry multiple people simultaneously.This helps my case because your restriction of polygamists' liberty depends on current laws, without acknowledging that polygamists want to do is change the positive laws which restrict marriage -- which is the same as same-sex marriage proponents. Homosexuals currently lack the freedom to marry in most states; just as polygamists do. Both want to modify the definition of marriage so as to gain liberty. Thus, the similarity between the cause of polygamists and homosexuals. For a deeper explanation of why this is so, I move on to my next point.
Point 4: Now my last point that polygamist rights are similar to homosexual rights is anchored in this point: that the traditional definition of marriage ought to be changed. Here is [Finnegan's] position:Jonathan's right that this is one of the crucial areas of the argument. In fact, the whole dispute revolves around this point:Were homosexual marriage to be legalized, homosexuals would have no more freedom to enter into group marriages than anybody else. Nothing about the fundamental structure of marriage as a union between two individuals will have changed. It remains to be shown why homosexuals should be barred from joining such a union.Now this point appears to be the pivot of his argument. Allow me to outline it as I see it.
The traditional definition of marriage is a contract that requires the consent of the parties involved which requires
a) Two individuals
b) One man and one woman
This definition has been the core civil, common and canon law traditions up until the 21st century. [Finnegan] proposes that marriage is discriminatory since two people who love each other are "barred from joining such a union."
[Finnegan's] argument attempts to modify b) to read "two people." The problem with this is that is messes with Custom. The result of distorting, as opposed to incremental changes to custom and subjecting it to rational review, is that it will eventually disintegrate the whole custom altogether. What [Finnegan] proposes is no different, and here is why.
I can see no reason why if one changes b) they are restricted from changing a). They are both coequal characteristics which are integral in the traditional definition of marriage. You can argue sociologically all you want on why two people are better than three. But legally speaking, if homosexuals argue based on love and discrimination, I see no reason to deny polygamists' claims on the same ground. [The last part of Point 4 really belongs to Point 5, so I've placed them together--ed.]
The traditional definition of marriage is a contract that requires the consent of the parties involved which requiresWhere to begin? What does Jonathan mean by "the traditional definition of marriage"? Every culture has its own traditions regarding marriage, and some, including Mormonism, Islam, and perhaps others, explicitly violate provision b) of Jonathan's "traditional definition." He probably means the traditions of mainstream Christianity in the west, but if that's so, then he's already on thin ice because Christian tradition does not view marriage in contractarian terms. Remember Jesus's famous injunction against divorce. Contracts are things that man brings together and puts asunder.
a) Two individuals
b) One man and one woman
This definition has been the core civil, common and canon law traditions up until the 21st century. [Finnegan] proposes that marriage is discriminatory since two people who love each other are "barred from joining such a union."
As a Canadian court in Layland vs. Toronto put it:I was unaware that Jonathan was a partisan of the "gays can marry anyone they want of the opposite sex" camp. Let's get real. There was a time when gay people were forced into sham marriages, and the result was broken families and psychological devastation. And it's not just gay people who are hurt by these fraudulent arrangements. Their spouses, their children, and their broader families suffer too. There's a kind of sadism underlying the argument that gay people should enter into heterosexual marriages, and clearly, some religious conservatives would do anything to force gay people back into the shadows they inhabited in earlier decades, no matter what pain such a policy would inflict. Let's at least give up on the myth that this faction is pro-family: its avowed position is that gay people should live a lie, should continually lie to the people close to them, and should be lied to in return.
"The law does not prohibit marriage by homosexuals provided it takes place between persons of the opposite sex. Some homosexuals do marry. The fact that many homosexuals do not choose to marry, because they do not want unions with persons of the opposite sex, is the result of their own preferences, not a requirement of the law."
Thus, the law is not required to cater to all sexual preferences. By the nature of their respective relationships, homosexual and heterosexual relationships are different. With respect to many laws, the law does discriminate between relationships. It discriminates based on personal and business relationships (with respect to things taxable or not); and between father and son (with respect with authority and obedience).
Point 5: [Finnegan] says:In the United States in 2004, any two heterosexuals of sufficient age and not blood-related within prohibited degrees have the right to marry one another. They need not want to have children, need not have the ability to have children, and need not love or even like each other. Heterosexuals are free to marry for financial reasons, in order to facilitate an immigration, because they're in love, or for any other reason that they could come up with. The only restriction is that no one can be forced to marry. These are criteria that any two homosexuals can easily meet, and to deny them the right to marry is arbitrary discrimination.Well you are right and wrong. Marriage laws do not distinguish between heterosexuals and homosexuals. Thus, it is wrong to say that homosexuals are denied to marry. You are right in saying that homosexuals easily meet the criteria for marriage based on the above restrictions. A male homosexual may marry a female homosexual: thus homosexuals can marry each other. Homosexuals are not denied the right to marry. They can marry anyone they want, provided it be a member of the opposite sex. Thus, there is no arbitrary discrimination there. Homosexuals and heterosexuals can marry. If there is arbitrary discrimination, it is in the definition of marriage, which was discussed in the point above.
Point 7: [Finnegan] says:It looks like Jonathan is moving away from a position of defending arbitrary discrimination as such, to taking shelter in the traditions of something he calls "the common law." I have no idea what he's referring to. Anglo-Saxon common law? American custom? Of course racial segregation was rooted in law; it was the direct creation of Southern legislators. The Constitution adopted in 1789 explicitly authorized the continuance of slavery, a policy that was only amended nearly a century later. The Brown decision overturned a centuries-old racial hierarchy that had been enshrined in Southern law, and overturned centuries of custom as well.I want to be as objective as possible, but it's difficult when confronting so many horrific misinterpretations of American Constitutional law. In the Brown decision of 1954, the US Supreme Court ruled 9-0 that arbitrary forms of discrimination violated the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment. [Do I overuse the word "horrific"?--ed.]The issue in Brown was simply unjust and arbitrary. What is forgotten is that racial segregation is not rooted in the common law. That is, segragation is not explicitly protected, whereas marriage is.
In response to [Finnegan's] comparison from Brown to same sex marriage, I point out that Supreme Court jurisprudence holds that the Fourteenth Amendmentdenotes not merely freedom from bodily restraint but also the right of the individual to contract, to engage in any of the common occupations of life, to acquire useful knowledge, to marry, establish a home and bring up children, to worship God according to the dictates of his own conscience, and generally to enjoy those privileges long recognized at common law as essential to the orderly pursuit of happiness by free men.Meyer v. Nebraska, 262 U. S. 390, 399 (1923) -- (Look up the case here for more supportive legal cases for the reasoning behind this statement).
Since it is safe to say that the marriage is a privilege "long recognized at common law" I do not see that same-sex proponents have anything to gain under the Fourteenth Amendment.
Last point: [Finnegan]:Not only has Jonathan not answered my question, but he has neatly reduced everything we've said previously to the arithmetic of penis + vagina = marriage. It's not even about men and women any more, but about their genitals. Some of the opponents of gay marriage, like the good Professor George, are so obsessed with sex that they have forgotten entirely about love. Never mind all the claptrap about "The Family" and "The Children"; the sine qua non of marriage, it turns out, is vaginal sex. [Would it be impertinent to ask if non-missionary style sex qualifies as "consummation"?--ed.]What unique principle that has not already been removed from civil marriage law can a heterosexual couple achieve that a homosexual couple cannot? Fertility, as I've already discussed at more than sufficient length, is not a legal criterion for the issuance of a valid marriage license.I say that marriage is based on a biological reality based on the concept of consummation. For any marriage to be valid, it must be consummated. This "coming together" is abiological. What differs this coming together from any homosexual relationship is that there is no biological united involved in their type of sexual relations. In heterosexual relations, real unity is achieved by the sperm and egg uniting to create a unique biological principle. With regards to the question of fertility, Finnis has this response, which I think is apt:In this reductivist, word-legislating mood, one might declare that sperm and egg unite only physically and only their prouclei are biologically united. But it would be more realistic to acknowledge that the whole process of copulation, involving as it does the brains of the man and woman, their nerves, blood, viginal, and other secretions, and coordinated activity is biological through and through. The organic... unity of the persons is the intentional, consensual act of seminal emission/reception in the woman's reproductive tract.Further, as Robert George points out,the plain fact is that the genitals of men and women are reproductive organs all of the time -- even during periods of sterility. And acts that fulfill the behavioral conditions of reproduction are acts of the reproductive type even where the nonbehavioural conditions of the reproduction do not happen to obtain (conception).Matrimonial law has traditionally understood marriage as consummated only by reproductive acts of spouses. And finally, the sterility of spouses has never been an impediment to consummation.