Monday, October 30, 2006

Monday with McKenna: My Kingdom For A Course

What do the quagmire in Iraq and the insane obsession with gay marriage have in common? As Terry McKenna observes today, both derive from the same delusion, which Freud would call the repetition compulsion of this truly neurotic government we are burdened with in America.

Later this week, I'll be offering a relatively new concept for your consideration. It comes from one of my books, and may help to at least explain what we have saddled ourselves with as a nation these past six years.

Also later in the week, we'll meet our banner quote author for this week, one of the brightest lights of American literature. Now let's hear from one of the saner voices of the blogosphere, Mr. McKenna:

Iraq and Gay Marriage. From the president, what we get is only sound and fury signifying nothing.

This week, the president made the bizarre claim that Americans have misunderstood his war policy – that he’s not about “stay the course” – all I could think was WOW! Fortunately, Keith Olbermann and his crew went into the video vaults to clarify that point.

Meanwhile, Bush's press spokesman, Tony Snow, tried to spin this change with a straight face. He must be a true believer. Even the lazy white house press corps couldn’t miss reporting this flip flop in a major way, but they still didn’t use the L word (LIE). By the way, doesn’t Tony Snow look like a caricature of an anchorman? A Ron Burgundy sired by Ted Baxter (the old Mary Tyler Moore character).

Conveniently for George Bush, gay marriage also re-emerged as a story. NJ’s state supreme court made a decision that compels the NJ legislature to pass some form of civil union or marriage right for same sex couples. The president hopes that gay marriage can push Iraq off the front page, but it can’t. Still, he weighed in: “Yesterday in New Jersey we had another activist court* that issued a ruling that raises doubts about the institution of marriage,'' …''I believe marriage is a union between a man and a woman. And I believe it's a sacred institution that is critical to the health of our society and the well-being of families, and it must be defended.” (Where does our government get off defending sacredness in any case!).

My reaction (besides thinking “what an asshole") was that the way Bush approaches gay marriage and the Iraq war is essentially the same. He views both through the tinted sunglasses of right wing ideology. And, his concern is not for results, but how will the issue play to his political base.

As with gay marriage, the Bush administration’s policy on Iraq has been skewed by ideology. Thus, we abandoned a successful (though difficult) containment for the current war. And when we went to war, we selected a pet theory that suggested we could do it on the cheap. But it turns out, you can only go in on the cheap. Staying the course take a lot more than we are willing to spend in terms of soldiers and treasure. The standard opinion before the war was very much what it was at the end of the first Gulf War – that to conquer Iraq is to destabilize the middle east.

Gay marriage is a relatively small issue. And no, I’m not demeaning gays – their desires are genuine and compelling, but however this issue is resolved, it will do nothing to help the majority of working and middle class families with their lives. In fact, the lives of gays have improved much over the past 37 years since the Stone Wall riots. Even Republican Washington is full of successful gay staff members. This story documents the recent swearing in ceremony by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice of an openly gay man, Mark A. Dybul, in attendance was first lady Laura Bush and Dybul's partner, Jason Claire. So clearly, it’s a better world and getting better. But doesn’t the issue of hypocrisy raise it’s ugly head? Yes it does!

Hypocrisy or not, does gay marriage threaten the rest of us married folks? Or will it make young couples decide not to marry? It certainly doesn’t threaten my marriage. I’ve been married 30 years. Same woman. We’ve had our ups and downs, but at no point have gays had the slightest interest in our marriage, nor have I had the least interest in their relationships – though I still find it hard to watch men kissing! Oh well.

By the way, listen to Lewis Black’s blurb on gay marriage – go to his website click anywhere, then look for a section “Lewis speaks” – his gay marriage segment is short and sweet. Or try this little satire.

For the larger issues of religion and homosexuality, I can’t do better than the professionals. But the unavoidable conclusion for me is that gays threaten no one. Yes, some gay men prey on teenage boys, and some straight men prey on young women. But as far as interfering with marriage, it just doesn’t happen.

How does this relate to the Iraq war? Simple, Bush’s policies in both instances are based on ideology, not facts. Thus, despite there being no “gay marriage” crisis for traditional marriage, various legislatures have enacted a number of laws that purport to defend marriage. If there is any challenge to marriage, gay or straight, it’s the two big ones: love and money. The government can’t legislate ever lasting love, but it can help with the cost of health care, and can try to enact trade policy that focuses on wage earners and not corporate profits.

—T. McKenna


*A comment on activist courts. Liberals are dishonest when they speak about this matter. Left wing court watchers pretend that right wing courts are just as activist as left wing versions (an example of a liberal courts system would be the NJ state court); but their arguments fall short. Right wing decisions typically work to defend the status quo –left wing courts create a perpetual constitutional convention. In doing so, they make a mockery of state rights. But state rights were the foundation for a vicious system of racial oppression that was finally overthrown during the civil rights era. Of course, once the courts were unleashed, it was nearly impossible to put that genie back in the bottle.

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