In December 2013, in a 6-1 vote, the City Council of Shreveport, Louisiana passed an non-discrimination ordinance which covered LGBT people. The one vote against was a councilman by the name of Ron Webb.
Webb recently introduced a motion to repeal the non-discrimination ordinance.
Transwoman Pamela Raintree turned up to the City Council meeting where Webb’s motion was to be debated, and this happened:
In her speech against the motion Raintree said, “Leviticus 20:13 states, ‘If a man lie also with mankind as he lieth with a woman, they shall surely put him to death.’ I brought the first stone Mr. Webb, in case that your Bible talk isn’t just a smoke screen for personal prejudices.”
Webb withdrew his motion, which might just go to show that it’s not entirely impossible for a godbotherer to feel shame.
The decision of the Supreme Court to grant a stay of same-sex marriages in Utah shouldn’t really come as a great surprise, whatever the actual merits of the stay application.
The attorneys from the Utah AG’s office have shown no particular signs of competence. Take, for example this passage from Judge Shelby’s decision denying the State a stay on December 23:
The court had a telephone conversation with counsel from both parties a few hours after it issued its order. The State represented to the court that same-sex couples had already begun marrying in the Salt Lake City County Clerk’s Office and requested to the court to stay its Order of its own accord. The court declined to issue a stay without a written record of the relief the State was requesting, and asked the State when it was planning to file a motion. The State was uncertain about its plans, so the court advised the State that it would immediately consider any written motion as soon as it was filed on the public docket.
Now, that all sounds fairly innocuous but, although I’m not a constitutional lawyer, I’ve been in and out of a few court rooms in my day, and those last two sentences are like a silk-wrapped brick around the ears. When a judge politely asks you exactly when you were planning on actually filing the motion you are seeking, the correct answer is never, ever, “We’re not sure”. My lawyers call that a CLM.
Rachel Maddow blamed it on incompetence, and I don’t disagree. However, I suspect there may also have been an element of hubris, a misplaced confidence that Shelby (National Guard, Desert Storm, the United States Army Achievement Medal and the National Defense Service Medal; a BA from Utah State and a Juris Doctorate from University of Virginia; a law firm practice in commercial litigation and personal injury; a registered Republican with a wife and two kids, who was endorsed by Orrin Hatch and Mike Lee for his qualifications and his “unwavering commitment to the law” when he was appointed to the District Court, if you believe the wikipedia) wouldn’t do anything so silly as letting the gays get married. Not in Utah, surely.
The AG’s office has spent the last two weeks desperately trying to stick the ferret back in the bag where the ferret don’t want to go. Their stay application to the Supreme Court (which you can find here, along with the couples’ response here) parroted the usual guff – that the same sex marriages occurring in Utah are an “affront” to the rational interest of the State in banning same-sex marriage, because the ban somehow makes straight, married people have more babies, and that the couples seeking to be married are seeking a new right called “same-sex marriage”, rather than the established right of “marriage” which right, they note, the gays are perfectly free to use as long as they marry someone whose genitals revolt them, like in the bible.
Still, on one front they are right – this is a question that the Supreme Court needs to decide and, until they do so, the better position is probably to preserve the pre-decision status quo in Utah, no matter how touching the photos of gay Utahnanians getting hitched, or how entertaining the freakout by the godbotherers about the gays touching marriage and getting dirty fingerprints all over it.
With the stay issue out of the way, one would like to think that we might be able to get back to talking about the substance of Shelby’s decision, at least until that Duck Dynasty guy gets caught cottaging or one of Mitt Romney’s grandkids turns out to be asian. Read the rest of this entry »
I’m not writing about the election until the next time Romney opens his mouth and says something stupid (which could be ten minutes from now, so you never know). A book thread (along with physics puzzler), a foodporn thread and a realporn thread are on their way.
How goes it with you all?
Oh, and eye candy for your Friday night:
I quite like Good Friday. The chants at the morning service at the Convent of St. Fidelis of Sigmaringen down the road are always so lovely. Although I’m Catholic, and therefore not particularly religious, I do find the stark dignity of that empty tabernacle quite stirring.
Neverthless, we did get our praying out of the way pretty quickly this morning, so we could get on with the important business of gossip, showing off our new hats and handing round pictures of the grandkiddies, interspersed with the odd bit of actual business so that we didn’t have to deal with it at morning tea. There may well have been some man or another up the front of the chapel, wearing a dress and yammering on, but none of us was paying much attention except during the hymns.
This morning we worked out who was bringing what to the next bring-and-buy – I’m doing Cherry Bakewells and a caraway seed cake – set the date for the next Convent Fair, and managed to find a nanny job for poor Mary McKenzie.
While she was on holiday in New York a few months ago, she got rather too excited in a nightclub toilet with one of the boys from Jersey Shore. She’s not sure which one. All she can remember is muscles, big hair and a cloud of Axe body spray which really isn’t much help. Now she needs the work to pay for a nice new pram and some DNA tests.
We aren’t missing out on much by not listening during mass, as we do have a rather uninspiring roster of priests thrown our way each week.
Father Seamus, who I seem to recall lead the service today, is a nice and pretty young man. Unfortunately he’s frightfully stupid and exceptionally fond of the Virgin Mary, if you get my drift. He can speak about her pure, forever untouched femininity for hours. The poor dear will come crashing out in a few years and be much more entertaining, but for the moment he’s a dreadful bore.
Father Flarety only ever talks about birth control, homosexuality or and the environment (he’s against all of them), but in the heat of his oratory the poor sot usually forgets which of them he is denouncing. It doesn’t seem to make much difference anyway. He also has a tendency to wander off during communion and not come back, which makes for a nice early mark. Last Sunday he got his hip flask mixed up with the communion wine. The blood of Christ had a kick to it that day, let me tell you. We had to take old Sister Luigi out into the vestry and fan her for a while.
And Father MacDonald is now so old and so wizened that he can’t be seen over the altar or the lectern, even when standing on a milk crate, so no one has any idea what he talks about.
Anyway, I really just wanted to wish you all a happy non-denominational Easter/Passover for this weekend and share with you a personal email I received from Marcus Bachmann reminding me that it is Michele’s birthday today. How lovely that the day of her birth falls on Good Friday this year, the day when Jesus died for us, the day when the tabernacle is as cold and dark and barren and empty as Michele’s heart.
This Friday, April 6, is a very special day in the Bachmann household – it is Michele’s 56th birthday!
This past year has flown by, and Michele has spent the year working incredibly hard fighting day in and day out across this country for the conservative values we hold near and dear. In addition to being the voice in Washington we always know we can count on to tell the truth, Michele has worked extremely hard as a wife, mother and conservative activist.
I really want this birthday to be special for Michele, but I know that what would mean the most to her is if she was able to hear from you.
I’ve put together a special online birthday card for Michele and I hope you will follow this link to sign the card. On Friday, I will compile the messages to show her that people from every corner of the country appreciate the hard work she does.
Michele is facing a formidable election this year, and the Democrats would love nothing more than to see Michele be defeated. Please sign the card to show you stand with Michele, and afterwards you’ll be given the opportunity to make a special donation to show Michele just how much you support her work.
Please consider making a $56 – one dollar per year, or even $112 – two dollars per year, contribution. But, if you can’t afford to give that much, a gift of $10 or even $25 is greatly appreciated. Every donation received is one step closer to ensuring Michele’s campaign is victorious this fall.
On behalf of the entire Bachmann family, I want to personally thank you for your continued support of Michele. It is not easy to stand up to the liberals and mainstream media who attack her and our values, but I know that your support means the world to her.
Michele and I are blessed to have your friendship.
P.S. Not much time remains until Michele’s birthday, and I need your help to ensure she has a great day. Please sign the birthday card for Michele and afterwards make a donation to her campaign. Thanks, Marcus.
I hope that Marcus has found a nice present for her. Perhaps a stepladder and some nails so she can climb on up there next to Jesus and show him how a martyr really dies. I must send her a basket of muffins.
I will leave you with two things to properly sweeten your day after Marcus’ dish of saccharine and suffering.
First this song, which I have linked to before, but which I play for myself almost every day. It’s dedicated to the Senegal national football team, the Lions of Teranga, by a Swedish girl of Senegalese ancestry called Mary N’diaye. It’s so joyous, it has a great beat, she has such a lovely voice and the video has awkward straight boy dancing, so it always brings a smile to my face.
Secondly, if you will indulge me, I’m going to link to one of my old stories, which I reread the other day and which I think deserves another whirl. It cheered me up anyway. It involves Bill O’Donoghue, an adorable baby, cake, lesbians, graphic vengeance and a rather sweet ending.
Happy Easter weekend to all. I hope you have a pleasant weekend and that you find an opportunity, on this Good Friday, to reflect upon the importance of sacrifice and self-denial.
Now I’m off to buy a cheeseburger and a quart of gin.
I’m trying to understand.
I managed to put my back out somewhere in Portugal, then picked up a dread lurgy in Amsterdam, and have therefore spent the last week making my way home to Shady Pines, swathed in a haze of Tiger Balm, vaIium, codeine and champagne, while alternately lying on the floor of hotels and groaning, lying on aeroplane seats and groaning, or sitting on toilets and groaning while squirting from every orifice. It was like a Katharine Hepburn movie, except one where Katharine knees Tracy in the balls in the first five minutes and is handcuffed to her seat for the rest of the film. My fond regards to the staff of KLM and Singapore Airlines for their sterling service and their heavy hands with the gin.
Having arrived home, I have been appropriately cleaned and medicated, and now the world is like a big, warm ball of pink marshmallow with me in the middle like a particularly unpleasant (although exquisitely perfumed) jammy filling.
I know there are important events going on outside. I’m reading my blogs and trying to take it all in but, with the bucketsful of painkillers I am on, my brain has self-deported.
As far as I can tell, lots of people are complaining because the President made a speech in which he talked about creating jobs and improving education and the unremarkable (yet rarely spoken of) idea that the rich should pay at least the same rate of tax as the non-rich, while sounding like a calm, responsible adult.
This after a week which the chosen exemplars of Republicaniness (a morally-compromised blowhard, a rich herbert with the likeability of a sanitary napkin full of blue ink, an insane gnome and an obnoxious wowser whose name is inextricably linked to lubey, shitty suds) spent flinging poo at each other, fellating the rich and otherwise saying dumb shit, while arguing about how little tax they all pay.
President Obama clearly has no idea what he is doing.
Also, Nancy Pelosi. No idea. Why on earth would she say of Newt that:
I think he’s done plenty of dumb things and there’s stiff competition for what is the dumbest thing he’s done, of course, including his violations of the ethics rules of the House of Representatives.
when she knows that it will make the 27 percent squeal at her for the next week like piggies in a sack about how unfair it is for Nancy to mention stuff for which God has personally forgiven Newt?
I tried reading Mitch Daniels’ reply but as far as I can tell he just went “Waaaaaaaaaaaaaaa! Why won’t you do what we want you to?” for ten minutes, crapped his pants and fell off his chair.
None of it is making sense.
Perhaps I need another drink….
We are the 99%.
Well, you are anyway, for the most part. I, on the other hand, am stonkers with cash, positively rolling in it.
My father was the second son of the Baron Capel of Tewkesbury, although there were always rumors that there was something a little, shall we say, Edwardian about his genetics, particularly given that the old Baron had, ten years before my father’s birth, had both testicles shot off by Ayub Khan in the Second Anglo-Afghan War. Let’s just say that Daddy could do an impression of George V that would fool the king’s mother. He served in the Navy during the Great War, doing very secret and nefarious things. He was a great man, and I loved him very much.
Anyway, Great Grandfather had made money in Jamaican tobacco, which his son then invested in ironworks, making even more money. My father invested his share in ammunition factories a few years before the war kicked off. When daddy died, he left everything to me (well, that which wasn’t swallowed up in death duties), and I immediately began to carefully invest it in Dior, cocaine and Krug, along with the odd share of Ford or Apple over the years.
Daddy, my mother and I lived in a big house, packed with more servants than anyone knew what to do with, usually retired sailors. It was like Downton Abbey except with worse dentistry and more rum, sodomy and tattoos.
Now, Daddy was a powerful and ruthless business man. His first lesson to me was that, in business and in love, both your enemies and friends were fair game, and if you could steal someone’s business or their wife or their damn chair from under them it was your honor-bound duty to do so.
However, he also said that you should always be kind and generous to your servants, not least because, as he put it, you never knew when one of the bastards was going to dunk his syphilitic tackle in your breakfast martini. I suspect that Daddy’s reasons were slightly deeper than just the fear of someone’s dick in his drink. Daddy’s servants were always the happiest and fattest and best dressed in the neighborhood, and so our silver was always the shiniest, our sheets were so well starched you could do yourself an injury on them, and there were never any nasty surprises in the soup. He applied the same rule to the workers in his factories, and there were never strikes because everyone had more than enough to feed and clothe their family and at least one day off a month.
My father also told me that it was your duty to pay the full amount of tax on every dollar that you earned, because otherwise how was the government going to buy all those things it desperately needed, like bullets and iron and tobacco?
Daddy was not a good man. He may have been ruthless. He may, in fact, have been a nasty son-of-a-bitch who’d sell his mother’s ashes to a soap factory or push a business rival under a tram (only once though, and it really might have been an accident).
However, he always said that if the revolution came, he knew that he wouldn’t be one of the ones putting on a blindfold and lining up against a wall. He, unlike our captains of industry of today, knew who buttered his bread and washed his car and shaved his face every morning with four inches of sharpened steel and made his bullets and built the roads that his delivery trucks drove on.
He, unlike much of the 1% today, wasn’t a fucking idiot.
Image: A Hunt Servant – Ben Marshall (1767-1835)
Well, kiddies, I’ve always tried to give you the unvarnished truth, and now I have to say that I cannot go along with the lies any more, despite the handsome retainer that John Cole pays me each month to maintain his massive deceptions.
I suspect that some of you may even have managed to read between the lines and discern the truth behind today’s posts by the lovely Mr Levenson and the even lovelier Ms ABL where they pretended that they weren’t aware of John’s birthday.
I don’t blame them for being so unconvincing. It’s hard to maintain a tissue of lies for so long.
I imagine it’s particularly difficult for John. After all, he spends so much time running down to that little house with the odd color scheme – posing Tunch and the dogs in the window and scattering around the pasta that his head chef made that morning, just so he can take photos of them all for his little blog – that I wonder he has time to enjoy the 42 room mansion he and his poor wife actually live in.
As such, it’s time for all of us to come clean about this evening.
The reality is that John has taken some of the millions he has made from running Ann Coulter promotions and those disturbing Pamela Anderson boob ads from last year, and has flown most of the US blogging community to West Virginia for his birthday bash.
And let me tell you, it’s going off.
I’m on some particularly good dutch e that DougJ smuggled back from Amsterdam in one of his very secret orifices. It’s finally kicking in after I managed to escape from Kay who bailed me up in the butler’s pantry and would not shut up about how she took all that money you nice people raised for her to go to Netroots Nation and blew the whole lot on a Louis Vuitton handbag.
Thankfully Anne Laurie managed to put her evening book chat on automatic schedule before she got too tanked on the 1982 Pol Roger. Mind you, Mistermix tried to give her a glass of the 1983 and she pegged it at his head, so she’s still sober enough to know the good stuff from the crap we let the servants steal.
ABL is up on the roof of the pool house for some reason, and none of us have been able to convince her to come down. However, she has both Lily and a bottle of John’s 50 year old Laphroaig for company, so she doesn’t seem too unhappy.
Dan Savage and his girlfriend are currently doing a very convincing imitation of FDR and Eleanor – I’ll leave it up to you to guess which one is which – after which Mr Levenson has promised us that he’s going to tell a very rude story involving Isaac Newtown and a watch with a dildo in it.
DougJ, Denis and Tim slipped David Brooks a Mickey Finn and when I last saw them they were taking him down to the summer house by the lake. They were each carrying baseball bats, so I hope that sweet Mr Brooks hasn’t been the victim of a revolutionary outrage.
No one has seen Andrew Sullivan since Ross Douthat arrived and there are suspicious cries of passion coming from the master bedroom. After all, Ross does have that sexy beard – but that may just be my filthy mind working overtime.
Rosie also seems to have disappeared, but I’m sure the fact that Jonah Goldberg has passed out in the bathtub in the third bathroom and that there are muffled squeaks coming from under him is just a coincidence.
John and Jane Hamsher are in the kitchen and while I wasn’t able to listen in from behind the refrigerator for too long, I’m sure all Jane’s talk about setting fire to the pool house was just in fun.
Finally, I’m sure you will all be pleased to know that Tunch is well. He’s ensconced in his bedroom and everyone is taking him regular offerings of whole barbecued lambs. After all we wouldn’t want him getting annoyed or half the bloggers in America might get eaten, and then how would you all know what to think?
Anyhow, my dears, that’s the real and unvarnished truth.
If you’ll excuse me, I’m off to piss on Jonah Goldberg’s head again before he wakes up.
I’ll leave you with this highly inappropriate video. NSFW if your work doesn’t like male gogo dancers in their underwear and phallic innuendo. I don’t like the song much, but I find the rotating naked buttocks oddly soothing, and it will help you visualize what the first half of the party has been like.
Cheers! Oh, and Happy Birthday, Mr Cole!
[Cross posted at Balloon Juice.]
Some of you may have noticed that I post a fair bit about the gays, particularly on Balloon Juice.
Now, some people have asked, with some justification, “Sarah, as a proud, if fictional, Republican Catholic Woman, how is it that you, of all people, are a friend of the homosexual?”
My usual answer is that I am a 92 year old woman in nursing care who likes to get dressed up in bespoke clothing and expensive shoes, get trashed on fine Dutch ecstasy and then go out for a big night of opera and dinner followed by a great deal of loud repetitive music played in dark rooms full of sweaty men, which ends only when I wake up between a Brazilian masseur called João and his even cuter, even better hung brother Jorge, both of whom really like to share.
If it weren’t for the gays, I’d be ugly, naked, barefoot and dead of boredom within two weeks.
I love my gays. And Grammy never said no to a nice pair of boobs, either, if they were offered politely and with good grace.
Indeed, I love all colors of the LGBTTSQQIAPOAO rainbow because I believe that anyone should be able to do anything they wish with their hearts and other squishy pink bits as long as it doesn’t hurt anyone else, even if I do have problems remembering what that second Q and both of those As stand for.
It’s certainly better than when I was young, when the accepted terminology was either “queer”, “poor sad Uncle Tommy”, or “Mummy’s friend Roger who does such wonderful things with satin and whalebone”.
Things have certainly come a long way since then. I understand that in some states the gays are even allowed to buy houses together and visit each other in hospital (although not in the South, of course).
Even worse for the Christianists, a number of polls now suggest that a majority of the American population supports the idea of gay marriage, with dramatic increases in support in the last 12 months among Democrats, Independents and people aged under 35.
Most of this change in opinion seems to have come about due to the use by gay and lesbian people of such pernicious and unfair tactics as coming out to their families and workmates and brazenly pretending to be normal, ordinary people.
Thankfully for the opponents of gay marriage, Ben Fucking Shapiro, the man who puberty forgot – last seen revealing to a stunned world that MASH had an anti-war agenda – has his eyes open to this threat to everything that real Americans believe in, and has appeared on the 700 Club with Pat Robertson to sound the alarm.
In what looks for all the world like a really fucked up episode of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, Pat laments how straight actors like Heath Ledger and Tom Hanks are being forced by Hollywood to play gay in order to win their Oscars.
Ben, in his turn, notes that:
They create a set of characters who you spend more time with, in many cases, than your own family unfortunately, people who are funny and witty and who you really want to spend hours on end with, and then they take those people and they have them pursue behaviors that really don’t agree and don’t accord with your personal values and it makes it very difficult for you to then disown those values. …. It makes it difficult for you to say I’m anti gay marriage but I like watching Will and Grace.
I suspect from his wistful tone that Ben likes watching Will and Grace a little too much, but also note that if his awareness of current gay friendly shows extends only to Will and Grace, he needs to get out a bit more more.
Anyway, gay marriage will come one day, my dears, even in America and despite Ben and Pat’s best efforts, because every day more and more people look at their gay children and their gay uncles and aunties and their gay workmates and, yes, even at that nice Doogie Howser, and realize that stopping them marrying the person they love just doesn’t make any sense.
I just hope Pat Robertson is still alive to see it.
[Personal message to Charles: Dearest, Don’t tell your mother but Aunty knows you’re gay. She’s just happy you two boys finally found each other.]
[Cross posted at Balloon Juice.]
I don’t often visit the New York Times website.
There is far too much risk that I might accidentally be exposed to something written by David Brooks, at which point I would have to poke out my own eyes with a pair of chopsticks to save my sanity. At 92, I need to hang on to as many of my senses as I have left. As I noted on a thread at Balloon Juice the other day, when I was younger and had fortified myself with a good dose of anti-psychotics, I once tried writing a detailed critique of one of Brooks’ articles, only to end up with a page with the words “David Brooks is a dickhead” scribbled one hundred times.* Ever since then, I have limited myself to writing nasty stories about him being humiliated by old ladies and then posting links to them on his Facebook Wall.
Anyway, this evening I was searching for shirtless photos of Aaron Schock – I know it’s wrong, but I have a weakness for men who look like they’d cry for their mommy during sex – and must have clicked on the wrong link.
On its Room for Debate page, the Times has collected together a team of crack political analysts (assuming that by “crack” one means the wide space between the top of a plumber’s shorts and the bottom of his shirt) to debate the question “Who’s Missing From the G.O.P. Race?“.
Surprisingly, the answer is apparently not “Everyone with an IQ over 4 and Sarah Palin”.
Linda Chavez (whose article is wonderfully entitled “Big Egos Need Not Apply”) distinguishes herself by noting that:
The G.O.P. has a deeper bench than the Democrats…
follows it up with the suggestion that:
the Democrats are going to have a tough time with Hispanic voters, who may choose to stay home on Election Day.
and then plumps for John #notintendedtobeafactualstatement Kyl, who would surely have the brown people and the womens lining up twelve deep to vote for him.
Ramesh Ponnuru’s choice is Jeb Bush. Ramesh is careful to remain forked-tongue-in-cheek:
6) And if nominated, he could save Republicans the expense of buying new bumper stickers by picking Elizabeth Cheney as his running mate.
and even notes that:
4) His presence in the race would also force an overdue Republican reckoning with his brother’s legacy. If Republicans really want to repudiate George W. Bush as a big-government conservative, rejection of Jeb Bush would allow them to do so definitively.
Nevertheless, you can feel the hope for eight more years of Bush oozing out of Ramesh like flop-sweat out of Rush Limbaugh’s back at a Snoop Dogg concert.
Fergus Cullen, aware enough to notice that the GOP has little chance of winning with the pack of whackaloons, assholes and magic underpants wearers who have currently thrown their tinfoil-hats into the ring, pines for “A Mainstream Alternative”. One of his choices is Mitch Daniels, which suggests that by “mainstream alternative” Fergus simply means “doesn’t dribble on himself that much when he speaks”.
John J. Pitney Jr and Dan Schnur each disappoint by actually making sense for whole sentences at a time, concluding that only a fucking idiot would choose to enter the race at this point anyway.
My favorite though is Peter Wehner, who inserts his tongue lightly into Mitch Daniels:
… recently delivered the best speech any major G.O.P. figure has given in years.
– frankly a pretty low bar – but then gets so excited about Paul Ryan I expect Petey had to Windex his computer keyboard afterwards:
He’s the author of the most impressive conservative governing blueprint in decades, and maybe ever … offered a comprehensive, wise and politically courageous answer … rock-solid … extremely popular … excels in his style and public discourse … philosophically well-grounded, a passionate and scrappy advocate for his views … eschews dishonest and ugly rhetoric …. personally modest and unpretentious rather than arrogant and morally preening. Paul Ryan, in other words, is the antithesis of Barack Obama.
Personally, I hope all of these people run. The more clowns there are in the primary clown car – painting their faces black and white, honking their horns, squirting each other with confetti made of hanging chads, and waving fetuses made up with sad clown makeup – the better.
Image: Le Trapeziste Et Le Clown – Charles Giron (1850-1914)
* A fond shout-out to JGabriel, who noted that writing out “David Brooks is a dickhead” 100 times is actually surprisingly entertaining.
I adore plane travel.
I love the sheer improbability of nine hundred thousand pounds of steel, people and fuel flitting through the air like Nijinsky on a coke binge. I love the fact that there are beautiful women and handsome gay men whose sole function for eight hours is to bring Grammy more champagne. I love not having to elbow incontinent old people in the head in order to watch what I want on TV.
Most of all, I love the fact that I can have a nap and wake up in Amsterdam or Barcelona or Sydney or Rio de Janeiro. I’ve spent most of my life trying to travel to as many foreign places and meet as many foreign people as possible, even if I’ve had to hock my shoes to get there.
One of the other advantages of plane travel is that the enforced down-time waiting in airport terminals gives me a chance to browse around those corners of the internets I usually don’t get to. For example, the other day, while I was at LaGuardia waiting for Gloria’s plane to be refueled, I stumbled across an unusually coherent article by little Peggy Noonan.
I’m not suggesting it is a great article. After all, when Peggy writes, you’re usually just happy if the piece uses recognizable words and the smell of vodka doesn’t filter all the way down through the printing process and transpire off the page. However, I thought her conclusion was interesting, if only because it looks like Peggy has managed to stumble in the gutter and land on her hands and knees next to half a truth:
The whole world is in the Hilton, channel-surfing. The whole world is on the train, in the airport, judging what it sees, and likely, in some serious ways, finding us wanting. And, being human, they may be judging us with a small, extra edge of harshness for judging them and looking down on them. We have work to do at home, on our culture and in our country.
My real problem with Peggy’s conclusion is that the real situation is much worse than she thinks.
The world doesn’t look at America and find it wanting. The world looks at America and worries what the hell it is up to now.
Now before anyone accuses me of being an America-hating Limey immigrant bitch, let me hasten to add that I love this country with all my heart. Any nation that produced bourbon whiskey, blues music, the cheeseburger and George Clooney’s ass can’t be all bad.
Further, many (perhaps even most) Americans are fine, generous, inventive, kind people.
I’m also not suggesting that the rest of the world isn’t messed up as well. One look at the Italian Parliament or the Japanese film industry or the slums of Brazil or anything involving Steve and Bindi Irwin or the Wiggles would suggest that the rest of the world has enough of its own problems to be getting on with.
America is supposed to be the land of the free and the home of the brave, the refuge of the homeless and the tempest-tost, that more perfect union whose alabaster cities gleam undimmed by human tears.
And yet, most of the time what the outside world sees is a nation of bloodthirsty war-mongers and religious dogmatists who think the way to world peace is more guns and more war, that democracy can be imposed at the end of a Gatling gun, and that drilling for oil, bringing on Armageddon or the fact that the indigenous population wears their handkerchiefs on their heads are legitimate reasons for invasion.
They read their papers and they read about a nation that went to war to throw off the shackles of a hereditary monarchy and then spent the next 200 years replacing it with the most dysfunctional political system this side of Pyongyang, a hereditary argentocracy in which the electoral prospects of a fat multiply-bankrupt television star with a triple combover can be seriously discussed, rather than being relegated to the funny pages.
They wonder at a nation that has the best medical system in the world in which 90% of the population can’t see a doctor without selling either a kidney or their oldest child into slavery – a nation that has the best education system in the world, and yet 72% of the population is so terminally incurious that it doesn’t have a passport and couldn’t find America on a map with a torch and a pointy red arrow marked “You are here”.
They deal with fat tourists from Texas in walk socks and flip-flops who travel overseas merely so they can shout at the locals in English in order to be understood and get directions to the Hard Rock cafe, and thereby avoid being exposed to anything remotely foreign while in a foreign land.
They fear America as a country of cultural imperialists, racists, Jesus freaks and Amway salesmen who want to turn the entire world into a sanitized theme park of sexless talking mice, big-eyed virgins, plastic cheese and expensive time-limited parking.
In the family reunion of nations, America is the crazy aunty with halitosis and a moustache who bails you up in the corner and tells you off because you need to lose weight and stop smoking, while all the while scoffing all the vol-au-vents and bogarting the joint.
America is a great nation. Americans rightly think so. The rest of the world rightly thinks so.
The real problem is that when much of America looks at itself all it sees is a great nation.
The rest of the world looks at America and, however much they may envy or love its wealth and its celebrity and its power, they see a great nation that is often demonstrably, certifiably fucking insane.
Grammy either needs a drink or to stop reading the newspapers. Probably both.
[Image from Artrenewal.org]