The mid-term elections are one week from today. The Republicans deserve to lose. The Democrats don't deserve to win.
The conditions for an opposition party victory are all there: an unpopular war, an on-again/off-again economy, a demoralized majority-party base, and a general fatigue felt among the American people toward the president. But when the opposition party promotes policies so far afield from the American mainstream, that party does not become the default party just because the majority party messes up.
Americans believe in God, want government off their backs, and when America is at war, Americans root for America. The national Democratic Party seems to have finally realized all this again. Charlie Rangel and Nancy Pelosi defended President Bush when he came under attack as the "devil" by Hugo Chavez. Barack Obama spoke openly about his faith in God. But are Americans buying it?
Leading Democrats express confidence that they will win back Congress. But they won't win the Senate, and their chances of winning back the House--though still better than even by my assessment--grow weaker daily. Strong candidates--Harold Ford and Jim Webb--will not win because the Democratic Party is so unpopular in the South. Pennsylvania Senate candidate Bob Casey and North Carolina House candidate Heath Shuler will win because they reject the national party's stance on key issues. The party has become a regional party, appealing to voters on the coasts, and in urban areas, but nowhere else. Americans don't support gay marriage, abortion, higher taxes, bigger government, open borders, or reduced sovereignty. Democrats do.
And if the Democrats fail to meet expectations on November 7, this will be the reason. If Democrats don't win Congress under the ideal conditions presented to them this year, intelligent Democrats must surely reassess the core ideas that their party espouses. But they won't.
Virginia senatorial candidate Jim Webb is getting a taste of his own medicine. After sending a busybody with a camcorder to stalk Senator George Allen, the Webb campaign charged racism when Allen referred to the unwelcome paparazzi as "macaca." The non-word was also, not surprisingly, a non-epithet before Webb lackeys began to claim it as a slur on par with the "n" word. Whatever. Fast forward to now--a more advantageous time to divert the debate from more pertinent issues--and one finds Webb in a bind not unlike the one in which Allen found himself several months back. Allen's supporters have lifted numerous passages out of Jim Webb's books, which I'm told are quite good, including an absolutely disgusting bit about a Cambodian child's privates and his father's mouth. "It's not a sexual act," Webb was left to lamely remark.
Sorry, Mr. Webb. The average voter in the commonwealth is not as up to speed on bizarre Cambodian customs as you seem to be. The more you attempt to make them understand, the more repulsed they become. Was that passage, and other passages, taken out of context? I bet. But what context, exactly, could make Webb's sickening images more palatable to voters? None, I bet--not that too many voters have the time to read Webb's books cover to cover, a fact the Allen campaign knows well.
Novelists haven't fared too well in American politics. Upton Sinclair, author of The Jungle, lost his 1934 bid for the governorship of California despite being the Democracy's standard bearer in the midst of the New Deal. Gore Vidal, Democratic nominee for Congress in upstate New York in 1960 and seeker of the Democratic nomination for governor of California in 1982, had greater success writing political novels, including Lincoln, Burr, and Washington, DC.
America has had a George Washington, an Andrew Jackson, and a Dwight Eisenhower, which makes one wonder "what might have been" in Virginia had Jim Webb relied on his exploits with a rifle, instead of reviling with his escapades with a pen. America has yet to have its Vaclav Havel, its Benjamin Disraeli. James Webb won't be the first. Like Huck Finn's father, American voters aren't impressed much by book learnin'. Intellectuals repulse the masses. Doers--military heroes, rags-to-riches businessmen, even actors and athletes--fare much better at the ballot box than thinkers.
Jim Webb is a good man, and as Ronald Reagan's secretary of the navy and author of (the book) Rules of Engagement--that rare Hollywood product that conservatives found politically appealing--he's also a Democrat that can win some Republican votes. But he won't win enough. When one chooses to write books one necessarily chooses (consciously or not) to eschew electoral politics. Jim Webb wrote George Allen's most effective campaign material many years ago. Those writings put millions of dollars in his pocket. They also determined that he would not sit in the United States Senate.
I once had the good fortune, I guess, of inhaling the smoke from Red Auerbach's cigar. I sat a few rows behind Auerbach in the old Boston Garden. I caught the Celtics--at least the ones I could see from obstructed view--a few times at the beloved, urine-stenched, rat-infested Garden, but my close encounter with the back of Auerbach's head, and the fumes from his stogie, occured at a Boston College Eagles game. My sense is that, even back then, the Garden had a no-smoking policy. But who was going to tell Red Auerbach to put out his cigar? It was his house, after all. Auerbach coached the Celtics to nine NBA championships from 1957 through 1966. No other coach in the history of professional sports boasts so successful a championship string. Sure, Auerbach had some on-court help: Bill Russell, Bob Cousy, John Havilicek, Sam Jones, etc. But, way back when, the coach also doubled as the general manager, so assembling that array of talent, in addition to directing it on the court, was Auerbach's doing as well. Although Auerbach's name is synonymous with coaching greatness, his talents as an NBA executive bore championships as well. Auerbach drafted Larry Bird as junior by capitalizing on an NBA rule that allowed undeclared (for the NBA draft) underclassmen to be drafted if they had entered college four years prior (Bird had played a day or so under Bob Knight at Indiana University, quit, and turned up the following year at Indiana State.). Auerbach also pulled off one of the most lopsided trades in the history of sports: Joe Barry Carroll for Robert Parrish and a draft pick used on Kevin McHale. Joe Barry Carroll for two first-ballot Hall of Famers! Auerbach hired the NBA's first black coach (Bill Russell), and floored an all-black line-up for the first (but not the last!) time in league history. Like so many great coaches, Auerbach spawned great coaches. Players that Auerbach coached or signed went on to win NBA Coach of the Year honors eight times. As a result of his playing days at George Washington University, Auerbach developed an affinity for the nation's capital and lived much of the year there. In DC, as in Boston, I heard nothing but good things about Red Auerbach from people who encountered him. Red Auerbach, 89 years on earth, rest in peace.
Mexican President Vicente Fox calls the 700 miles of fence that President Bush approved for the U.S.-Mexican border "an embarrassment for the United States." It's an embarrassment, but not for the United States. Mexico cannot sustain its own population. More than ten million Mexicans find the conditions in their homeland so intolerable, and the conditions in the United States so inviting, that they take the drastic action of migrating. The fence means that Mexico will have to actually provide social services to millions of poor people. The current policy of shipping them to the United States for Americans to give them jobs, education, health care, welfare, etc., is not neighborly. Good fences, on the other hand, make good neighbors.
Though Democrat Jim McGreevey (D-Vince Lombardi Rest Stop) appointed the author of New Jersey's tyrannical gay marriage decision, Republican Christie Todd Whitman appointed the loon Chief Justice who dissented that the ruling did not go far enough--just as Republican Bill Weld appointed the South African jurist Margaret Marshall, who forced gay "marriage" on Massachusetts, just as Republican Richard Nixon appointed Roe v. Wade author Harry Blackmun to the Supreme Court, just as Republican Gerald Ford appointed Kelo v. New London author John Paul Stevens. Why, again, is it so important to blindly follow the GOP?
DocMcG and me were co-winners of week seven's football pool, sporting 8-5-1 records. Pay homage. What an anticlimatic way for the survival pool to end! All four remaining players--Dennis, DocMcG, Ralph, and myself--got clipped in week seven. Can we have a survival pool without a sole survivor? I think not! So, Dennis, DocMcG, and Ralph, keep picking until there's only one of us left. Under rules I just now invented, there must be a sole survivor.
All picks are against the spread. Home teams are in caps. Here are my selections: TITANS -3 over Texans, Jaguars +7 over EAGLES, BENGALS -4.5 over Falcons, GIANTS -9 over Bucs, Niners +16.5 over BEARS, PACKERS -3.5 over Cards, CHEIFS -6.5 Seahawks, SAINTS -2 over Ravens, CHARGERS -9 over Rams, RAIDERS +9 over Steelers, BROWNS -1.5 over Jets, Colts +3 over BRONCOS, PANTHERS -5.5 over Cowboys, and, on Monday Night Football, Patriots -2.5 over VIKINGS. Make your selections in the comments section.
Survival Pool Pick: Chicago Bears
New England Patriots, Indianapolis Colts, Miami Dolphins, Atlanta Falcons, Carolina Panthers, Dallas Cowboys, Seattle Seahawks.
New Jersey's Supreme Court, a la Massachusetts and Vermont, has legislated--oh, wait, courts aren't supposed to make law, are they?--that the Garden State grant homosexuals marriage benefits. Instead of abiding by the decision of the state's voters and the voters' representatives, a handful of judges has usurped that right from the people. "Although we cannot find that a fundamental right to same-sex marriage exists in this state, the unequal dispensation of rights and benefits to committed same-sex partners can no longer be tolerated under our state Constitution," opines Justice Barry T. Albin, who authored the court's 4-3 decision. If the state's Constitution offers no such right, on what ground--other than the whim of four unelected judges--does the court base its decision? Don't take heart. The justices who dissent argue that the court's ruling does not go far enough.
No joke, one of the legal arguments furthered by the court: "Times and attitudes have changed." Indeed they have, just not in the way the court implies. Ten, twenty, one-hundred years ago, just like today, not a single state could produce a majority willing to compel taxpayers to grant benefits and subsidies to homosexual couples in the form of recognition of gay marriage. With regard to gay marriage, times haven't changed all that much. The American people oppose it. From North Dakota to Texas, from Hawaii to Georgia, the American people have spoken. The judges have spoken in Vermont, Massachusetts, and New Jersey. Have times changed? Judges dictating legislation, according to their political leanings and not the letter of the law, proves that they have.
In a republic, the people, through their elected representatives, decide on all political questions. This even applies to rights. There is no right contained in the Constitution of the United States, or the Constitution of New Jersey, that got inscribed there without the mandate of the people. Should the people of New Jersey, without a gang of judges forcing them into a shotgun wedding with gay marriage, choose to recognize same-sex unions, then let them. Should they opt against doing so? Homosexual fascists, and liberals who act illiberally when majorities disagree with them, say don't let them.
"So it was that a revolution took place within the form. Like the hagfish, the New Deal entered the old form and devoured its meaning from within. The revolutionaries were inside; the defenders were outside. A government that had been supported by the people and so controlled by the people became one that supported the people and so controlled them. Much of it is irreversible. That is true because habits of dependence are much easier to form than to break."
--Garet Garrett, The Revolution Was, 1938
Last June, Ann Coulter made a good point badly when she excoriated liberals for exploiting victims to further their political fortunes. The one-size-fits all advertisements featuring a Parkinson's-stricken Michael J. Fox endorsing a Democratic candidate provide a belated example to buttress the point Coulter made. Instead of making an intellectual point, Democrats make an emotional one--and one that sets up charges of cruelty should anyone even attempt to rebut it. Who would argue with a paralyzed actor, or a mother whose son died fighting in Iraq, or 9/11 widows? Should someone dare take on the victim/spokesman, that brave (foolish?) advocate then becomes the villain. But it's really the other way around. Anyone who takes a victim and inserts them into a hot political debate not only knowingly puts the victim into the middle of controversy where the victim is bound to wind up in the crossfire, but attempts to stifle debate as well. Faced with a victim as spokesman, the opposition's choices are a). shut up, or b). argue against the victim's point, which makes one appear to victimize the victim a second time over. This trick may have worked the first hundred times, but it has grown stale and moldy. Its expiration date is way past due. I prefer Michael J. Fox playing Alex P. Keaton and Teen Wolf, not Christopher Reeve and Ryan White.
Is there too much money in politics? The Center for Responsive Politics believes so. They estimate that the mid-term elections will cost incumbents and challengers, and sponsors and opponents of ballot questions, roughly $2.6 billion. That's a lot of money. But it's not as much as, say, the micro- and craft-brewing industry takes in domestically on an annual basis. It's about $500 million less than the television networks are paying the NFL to air their games this year. Pornographers, to cite another example, generate about $4 billion a year in business according to Forbes. There is no national legislation that proposes to limit the amount of money Americans spend on football, beer, or porn. Why do busybodies constrain, and seek to more tightly constrain, the amount of money Americans can spend on the candidate or cause of their choice?
Never understanding the just interest of the United States served by invading Iraq, I am doubly at a loss to explain to the just interest of the United States served by occupying it. October is on pace to be the deadliest month for U.S. servicemen in Iraq in two-and-a-half years.
Why is this deplorable state of affairs news only in the lead-up to an election? Partly because the public has callously become numbed to the trickle of dead bodies returning home. One doesn't cook a frog by throwing it into a scalding pot of water. One does by placing it in a warm bath that by degree becomes a scalding pot of water before he can jump out.
Americans killed in action has become the norm, and the norm isn't what's news. A few each day doesn't seem a huge number, but when the war lasts more than three years the deaths begin to mount and people, the ones who aren't numb, begin to wonder: why are we there?
Apart from all this, the brave Americans killed in Iraq are part of a volunteer force. Despite heightened talk of Iraq being another Vietnam, the absence of a draft makes it impossible for the Iraq war to hit home across demographic lines the way the Vietnam war did (even though that war afflicted some demographic groups greater than others). Most Americans never knew any of the men and women who were killed in Iraq. For some Americans, the war is as real as a video game or a television show. The dead are numbers and faces, but they are not people to some people until they are people they knew.
Instead of exploiting this indifference, a real leader would bring the troops home. It may be better for the president's place in history if he leaves the mop-up for his successor. Then he can say that he didn't lose the war, and his partisans--already showing themselves adept at changing their previously professed principles to conform to the president's position--will monkey the president's stance. But leaving troops in Iraq to fight and die for a cause that not only is not our cause, but is probably not a winning cause either won't be better for America. It won't be better for its soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines, to continue to put them in harm's way in a place that is in no way relevant to America's interests. If they are serving a purpose over there, it is not our purpose. America is not a means to some other nation's end. America is an end in itself.
Temperatures in the United States were almost a degree colder this September than the average September. Okay, okay, that's the average temperature since they have been been tracking such data, which is a hundred years or so. But a hundred years is, like, a super-long time, right? The drop in temperature in September is clear evidence not only of a global cooling trend, but that it's a man-generated cooling trend. Don't believe it? It's science. If you disagree then you are anti-science. No explanation needed beyond that. You hate science.
In fact, enlightened science lovers like myself--those of us who look at thermometers and the like--have noticed it's been getting quite a bit cooler lately. People are starting to wear coats who just weeks ago wore shorts. This mounting anecdotal evidence is backed by hard statistics. October has been cooler than September. In turn, September was cooler than August. Notice a pattern? The scientifically ignorant think this is just a cyclical change. It's not. The earth is freezing, which, you must admit, would be a lot worse than, say, the climate of Maine more closely resembling the climate of Hawaii.
Where I live, it dips into the 30s overnight. Just two months ago, overnight temperatures sometimes remained in the 80s. That's a drastic change. If this trend continues, the mercury will drop to -273.15 Celsius (That's -459.67 Fahrenheit for those too ignorant to embrace the enlightened Celsius scale.) sometime next year. That's right. The trendlines don't lie. The earth will become one giant ball of ice all because its inhabitants refused to alter their behavior.
What's needed is for all of us to act globally, think locally, produce, disuse, dispense, and go lunar. It's not too late. We can still save the earth. Each one teach one.
You can do something about the problem. Won't you join me in partaking in a few socially-conscious acts?
First, waste paper not time. Don't recycle. Throw all of the beer cans and soda bottles into the garbage. Sure, this relieves you of a major time waster in sorting them and bringing them to a recycling center. But think about it: you'll also be saving the planet by offsetting the effects of global cooling. Second, drive the largest automobile you can, and don't, under any circumstances, take public transportation. I know, I know. You'll miss the stench of rush hour and the interaction with myriad unpleasant people. But just do as I instruct. It's for the planet. Third, when the supermarket clerk asks, "Paper or plastic?," answer: "Paper, plastic, and styrofoam packing peanuts." Yeah, you will ensure that your bread and chips don't get crushed by heavy items. But you're doing this for your fellow man, not for you. Styrofoam is an excellent combatant of global cooling. Fourth, flush for amusement, not just for necessity. If you want a cleaner world, start in your toilet bowl. Five: Leave a light on, or two, or ten. Do you live in the Middle Ages? No? Then stop acting like it. Electricity allows you to see at night and save the planet. C'mon people.
When you partake in one of these acts to save the planet, I want you to let the readers of FlynnFiles know through the comments section of this thread. Did you throw a glass bottle in the trash instead of the recycling bin? Tell us about it, especially about how good it made you feel knowing that your thoughtful act might make the difference in saving the planet. Do you and your wife drive matching SUVs? Speak up. Turn on all the lights in your house before going out for the day? Let us know, and in turn, we'll let you know how grateful we are for you doing your part to protect the green earth from becoming ice white.
Our critics carp that these are merely ritualistic acts designed to make us feel better. They say that we just want to establish a sense of superiority by telling ourselves that we're saving the planet, and that we're better than the people who aren't joining in. But I guarantee that if everyone follows my instructions, the earth, instead of resembling the North Pole--and recent trendlines indicate that it will soon--will be warm and temperate come next summer.
"Somehow we were sent to invade a nation because it was a direct threat to the American people, or to the world, or harbored terrorists, or was involved in the September 11 attacks, or received weapons-grade uranium from Niger, or had mobile weapons labs, or WMD, or had a need to be liberated, or we needed to establish a democracy, or stop an insurgency, or stop a civil war we created that canít be called a civil war even though it is," former Army Ranger Kevin Tillman, brother of fallen Army Ranger Pat Tillman, writes in a hard-hitting, silence-breaking article. Sometimes who said it, rather than what was said, matters most.
Every decade or so, ghetto dwellers smash windows, loot businesses, and commit mass-arson within their own neighborhood. Thus it is with politics. Feeling neglected, the Right is staying home this year--at least more of them are staying home than usual. Burning down your neighborhood, just like yielding the field to the political opposition, doesn't, on the face of it, make much sense. No one in the 'hood wants burned out storefronts, just as no conservative wants Speaker Nancy Pelosi. But the seemingly counter-productive option of staying home on election day, just like the seemingly counter-productive move of burning down one's neighborhood, always gets the attention of people who weren't paying any.
Congressman Davy Crockett refused to vote for a modest stipend for a widow of an accomplished navy office. Why should congressmen 180 years later give a lavish pension to the homosexual lover of a disgraced and deceased colleague?
There is a libertarian position on gay "marriage." It's just not the position taken by many libertarians. News articles lamenting the inability of Gerry Studds's "widower" to collect more than $60,000 annually in a federal pension demonstrates why people who loathe government interference should oppose so-called gay marriage. Unlike sodomy laws, which prohibit voluntary conduct that at worst poses direct harm only to those consenting to it, bans on gay marriage represent a constriction of big government. They prevent a small minority of people from coercing the objecting majority to recognize and subsidize unions they reject.
Had the disgraced Congressman and Dean Hara sought out any Unitarian minister to bless their union and then call it a marriage, society might have a semantic quarrel with the couple, but no quarrel so pressing as to prevent Mr. and Mr. Studds from calling their own arrangement a marriage. But that's not what Studds and Hara sought when they entered into a Massachusetts Marriage in 2004. Their aim was more ambitious, and intrusive. They not only wanted to compel society to recognize their union as a marriage, which not even the people of their home state have voluntarily done, but they also wanted society to fork over the financial benefits heretofore reserved to those who join in the union capable of regenerating and advancing a healthy society.
Gerry Studds never understood why his colleagues publically condemned his plying a seventeen-year-old underling with drinks and bedding him. From the grave, he probably doesn't understand why society doesn't see fit to pay off the man he shacked up with in his last years. Perhaps Studds is turning over in his grave at the denial of benefits to Mr. Hara, as he literally turned his back to his Congressional colleagues who censured him. But America has beat him to the draw. Every state where the issue of gay marriage has come before the voters has rejected gay marriage. This includes such places as Michigan, and Oregon, and California--not exactly homophobe central.
Although the right of the people of Massachusetts to decide on gay marriage has been usurped, the right of the people of the United States has been exercised. The Defense of Marriage Act, passing both Houses of Congress with 5-1 majorities and signed into law by that noted moralizer Bill Clinton, clearly absolves the federal government, and the states therein, from recognizing homosexual unions.
Why is Gerry Studds, from the grave, still trying to push his morality on the rest of us?
Congratulations to DocMcG, who posted a 9-5 record to become week six's champion. Celebrate his greatness in the comments section as you scheme to overthrow his reign. Potato Man went down hard in the survival pool, leaving just DocMcG, myself, Dennis, and Ralph surviving. Who will be the sole survivor? I have a feeling we will find out soon.
For the regular pool, all picks are against the spread. Home teams are in caps. Here are my selections. CHIEFS +5 over Chargers, TEXANS +9.5 over Jaguars, Patriots -5.5 over BILLS, FALCONS +2.5 over Steelers, DOLPHINS -4.5 over Packers, BUCS +5 over Eagles, JETS -3.5 over Lions, BENGALS -3 over Panthers, Broncos -4.5 over BROWNS, COLTS -9.5 over Redskins, SEAHAWKS -6.5 over Vikings, Cards -3 over RAIDERS, and, on Monday Night Football, COWBOYS -3.5 over Giants. Make your picks in the comments section.
Survival Pool Pick: Seattle Seahawks
New England Patriots, Indianapolis Colts, Miami Dolphins, Atlanta Falcons, Carolina Panthers, Dallas Cowboys.
"The constant repitition of the Litany and the often heard environmental exaggerations has serious consequences. It makes us scared and it makes us more likely to spend our resources and attention solving phantom problems while ignoring real and pressing (possibly non-environmental) issues."
--Bjorn Lomborg, The Skeptical Environmentalist, 1998
"The time when Young Americans for Freedom wore badges blazoned with the slogan 'Donít Immanentize the Eschaton,' has long passed," Daniel McCarthy writes in the American Conservative. "Now College Republicans parade in shirts proclaiming "George W. Bush Is My Homeboy.'"
McCarthy's piece is must reading, and not just because yours truly makes a cameo appearance therein. The feigned outrage of talk shows, the whiz-bang discussions on cable news, and the attention-deficit-disorder rants of blogs (mea culpa, mea maxima culpa) doesn't provoke a whole lot of intellectual curiosity among the rising generation. Where is today's Russell Kirk, Friedrich Hayek, Richard Weaver? Absent, just like the real articles. The further we get from the Kirks, Hayeks, and Weavers, the further we get from the Kirks, Hayeks, and Weavers.
This dearth of thoughtfulness among young conservatives hit home a decade ago while working a conservative student conference. A stunningly beautiful college senior confessed that she had never read a book in its entirety. What was she doing at this conservative conference? As years passed, I began to ask the same question of myself: What am I doing at this conservative conference? Such events had transformed from thoughtful discussions of conservative ideas into GOP pep-rallies. Can't there be a happy medium between "'Don't Immanentize the Eschaton" and "George W. Bush Is My Homeboy"?
I have done something--how effective I don't know--about the very real problem that McCarthy exposes. At Accuracy in Academia, I launched Conservative University, an annual gathering where students read such classics as Albert Jay Nock's Our Enemy, the State, Russell Kirk's Redeeming the Time, and Frederic Bastiat's The Law. Later, at the Leadership Institute, I taught a curriculum for the group's dozen or so seasonal interns that included discussions of the works of various authors included in Morton Blackwell's excellent Read to Lead (I'm proud to have devoured sixteen of the twenty-five books on the list). Here at FlynnFiles, we participated in a book discussion on Hayek's Fatal Conceit last year, and hopefully, when my own book project is complete, we can follow that up.
What an absolute thrill it is to introduce young people to the books of the conservative canon that shaped the movement that they are a part. But what a complete downer to come across young conservatives disinterested in conservatism. It is this latter phenomena, I believe, that is largely responsible for the conservative movement that less and less resembles, well, the conservative movement. Instead of an independent entity evangalizing conservative ideas and pushing the existing parties further right, the conservative movement now exists as an auxiliary of the Republican Party. Winning elections, not winning ideas, now matter above all else. What a shame!
All is not lost. In my travels as a campus speaker, I come across so many brilliant young conservatives. They make me hopeful for the future even when the present offers despair. The past, too, encourages. Having been in and around the conservative movement for fifteen years, I'm old enough to have witnessed young movement conservatives grow up to become elected officials, CEOs, professors, authors, and even movie producers. If the rising generation of conservatives elevate to such positions of influence, it is important that they are worthy of such positions. Becoming grounded in wisdom, to prevent being pushed to and fro by the political winds, is a good way of ensuring this.
What a different course America would be on had George W. Bush taken an ocassional break from naked keg stands at Yale to take in William F. Buckley, Frank Meyer, and Milton Friedman. No doubt if today's conservative students dieted on such fare they would lose their taste for the current occupant of the Oval Office. "If students critically engage the works of the wisest men of an even older Right," McCarthy concludes, "they too may be forced to conclude that George W. Bush is no conservative allóor else that Kirk and Weaver...are really leftists."
It's the economy, stupid! Or is it? Gas prices have decreased more than 25 percent in mere months. The stock market is setting records. The annual deficit is shrinking. Amidst all the good news, the party in power in Washington may soon be the party out of power in Washington--at least as far as Capitol Hill is concerned. Corruption (of numerous varieties), deviation from traditional principles, and plain-old wearing out the public's welcome--all of this, and not the economy, will do in the Republican party this Fall. But President Bush remains optimistic. That's a luxury one can afford when one's name does not appear on a ballot.
Welcome 300,000,000th American, whoever you may be. You can learn quite a bit about one's view of humanity by observing how one spins this milestone. "300-million population not enough, US expert says," reads the headline from Catholic World News. "300 Million Americans Will Take Great Environmental Toll, Report Warns," reads the headline from National Geographic.
The headline reads: "Fox Fires Lyons for Insensitive Comment." The article, however, doesn't give any evidence that broadcaster Steve Lyons made any offensive comment. Perhaps the rest of us are just too "insensitive" for not sensing Lyons's "insensitivity."
Confession: I have always been a fan of Steve Lyons, even when he got caught stealing third with Wade Boggs at the plate to end a Red Sox game in 1986. Lyons brought excitement to a too-often boring game. "Psycho" Steve played with emotion and not rationality. Ocassionally, as in his reckless attempt to steal a base with two outs in the ninth when he was already in scoring position with the game's best hitter at the plate, this led to disastrous results. Always it made things interesting for the fans, such as the time in Detroit when Lyons, then on the White Sox, dropped his pants to shake out the dirt after sliding into first. What was Psycho Steve going to do next? Given a situation, no textbook could provide an answer because Steve Lyons didn't play by the book. He was his own guide and compass. Lyons, one could say, was a premature "idiot"--the nickname for Kevin Millar, Johnny Damon, and other hang-loose players on the Red Sox 2004 championship team. Only Lyons was not an "idiot," but a "psycho."
After Lyons's base-stealing failure resulted in an immediate trade to the White Sox, he returned to the Boston Red Sox for two more stints. As a vendor in the park, I welcomed seeing Lyons in Fenway again. He didn't disappoint. Lyons, in contrast to some other Sox players of the early 1990s, had an approachable nature that fans liked. While awaiting the pre-game start time for selling hot dogs, I once watched Lyons play catch with a fan in the upper-deck above Pesky's Pole. Fans yelled for Lyons to give them a ball, and he responded that he would, only if they gave it back. He threw a gloved fan a perfect strike from forty feet below and 150 feet away. The fan was game. He threw the ball back. They continued to play catch. What other major leaguer does that? It was surreal.
Baseball enshrines its great players in Cooperstown. What of the game's characters? The Billy Martins, Jim Boutons, and Bob Ueckers don't get a Hall of Fame. Maybe they don't need one. Fans will forget Bill Clem and Don Sutton. Who will forget Steve Lyons? Lyons was a mediocre utilityman. But he had an all-star personality. Lyons, unlike Reggie Jackson, Mickey Mantle, and Pete Rose, couldn't combine the colorful personna with on-field greatness. But neither could Robin Yount or Gary Carter combine the two. Being a baseball character and a baseball Hall of Famer are often mutually exclusive. The baseball gods bequeathed the attributes of a cartoon character upon Steve Lyons, rather than the attributes of a Gold Glover or a homerun king.
If Lyons' antics anticipated the happy-go-lucky attitude of the 2004 Red Sox, those antics followed in the long tradition of colorful ball players who plied their trade for the Red Sox: Babe Ruth, Jimmy Piersall, the "Spaceman" Bill Lee, "Oil Can" Boyd. It is the excitement he brought to the field, and perhaps more so the interest he brought to the post-game interview sessions, that would later make Lyons such an attractive choice to provide analysis in the studio and the announcer's booth. But Lyons proved too unpredictable for Fox Sports's executives, just as he proved too unpredictable to Red Sox management. Why couldn't they just trade him to ESPN as the Red Sox traded him to the White Sox? Alas, network executives want their on-air talent just as general managers want their on-field talent: boring and predictable. Steve Lyons is neither, but baseball, unfortunately, is judged as both by a viewing audience that increasingly prefers football, basketball, and as this week's ratings of the coveted 18-34 year-old male demographic show--gasp--cage fighting.
It is an unfortunate irony that in a world that nudges us to tolerate all sorts of intolerable behavior, idiosyncratic individuals such as Steve Lyons find toleration lacking. Boo.
Air America, as was widely expected, declared for bankruptcy on Friday. (The move involved just finances. No word on when the network will declare its ideas bankrupt.) The bankruptcy filing opened up the books on Air America, but I still have some questions. Will Chuck D get Professor Griff to "regulate" if Air America doesn't pay up the $10,749.99 the network owes him? The court documents said nothing of the thousands of dollars that the rarely coherent Randi Rhodes most assuredly pays Air America in exchange for granting her use of its radio waves. Was this a lame attempt to hide income from creditors? Is it because Air America does not pay its taxes that it seeks to make up for it by forcing the rest of us to pay so much more? What about the hundreds of thousands of dollars allegedly diverted from a Bronx Boys and Girls Club to Air America? Will the kids get paid before Al Franken?
The best thing to happen to the world in my lifetime was the collapse of European Communism. The man who so desperately tried to stave off that collapse is now lecturing the United States on its missed opportunities to improve the world. Mikhail Gorbachev claims that American officials suffer from a disease "worse than AIDS," which he calls "the victor's complex."
What might the world have looked like had Gorbachev and his cronies won? How did the "victor's complex" play out in postwar Europe for Czechoslovakia, Poland, and Hungary? Should anyone listen to a retread who continues to defend an ideology that killed 100 million people in the twentieth century?
Gorbachev told a German paper, "The Americans will have to understand that in future they will have to cooperate and make decisions jointly, instead of just always wanting to give orders." I'd rather the U.S. not give orders to other nations, but isn't "cooperate and make decisions jointly" just code for Eurocrats giving orders to the U.S.? Criticism of American power is often just a mask for covetousness of American power.
Grist magazine, to which former vice president Al Gore and LBJ flunky Bill Moyers have granted interviews, now advocates a Nuremberg-type trial for skeptics of man-generated global warming, Senator James Inhofe notes. "When we've finally gotten serious about global warming, when the impacts are really hitting us and we're in a full worldwide scramble to minimize the damage, we should have war crimes trials for these bastards--some sort of climate Nuremberg," declares Grist's David Roberts. Count me out! When my day of reckoning comes, I shall abscond to Argentina with all the other doubting "bastards." David Roberts will have to send a team of ecowarriors to hunt me down.
Ouch! Week five proved a tough one to forecast. Billiam limped to the winner's circle with a 7-5-2 record. Congratulate! He picked 'em better than you did. With the exception of Wayne Sash, all survival pool participants--Ralph, Dennis, Potato Man, DocMcG, and myself--survived. Sash, you didn't keep track of your picks and selected the Eagles one too many times. Let that be a lesson to the alive five: keep track of your survivor picks: each team can only be used once.
Last week is in the past. Week six is a new week. All picks are against the spread. Home teams are in caps. Newcomers are most welcome to make selections. Here are my picks for week six: Bengals -6 over BUCS, REDSKINS -10 over Titans, COWBOYS -13 over Texans, LIONS +1 over Bills, Seahawks -3 over RAMS, Giants +3 over FALCONS, SAINTS +3.5 over Eagles, RAVENS -3 over Panthers, JETS -2 over Dolphins, NINERS +10 over Chargers, STEELERS -7 over Chiefs, Raiders +15 over BRONCOS, and, on Monday Night Football, CARDS +10.5 over Bears. Make your selections in the comments section.
Survival Pool Pick: Dallas Cowboys
Carolina Panthers New England Patriots, Indianapolis Colts, Miami Dolphins, Atlanta Falcons.
One possible message the Iraq invasion sent to the remaining legs of the Axis of Evil? Get nuclear weapons as quickly as possible. Wars always have unintended consequences. Instead of disarming, Iran and North Korea seem to have accelerated their nuclear programs in the wake of the Iraq war.
Is there a causal relationship between Iraq's fate and Iran and North Korea's race for nukes? I don't know. I do know that if Iran and North Korea suddenly dropped their nuclear weapons program, Bush's lackeys would have claimed a causal link with Iraq. After all, they made this claim with Libya, though the nation was already in the process of ditching its WMD programs. Did Iraq nudge Libya along? Maybe, but if the U.S.'s multiple bombing raids of Libya didn't compel Gaddhafi to change his tune, it's doubtful that bombing a third party did an afwul lot to do this.
The men ruling Iran and North Korea heard their nations' names next to Iraq in President Bush's "Axis of Evil" speech and saw what happened to Iraq. Rather than be the next Iraq, they have decided not to be the next Iraq. Though seeking nuclear weapons might be cause for a foreign invasion, actually having them serves as a most effective deterent. Just ask Pakistan.
North Korea's claim of testing a nuclear bomb, which seismographic evidence corroborates (but does not confirm), is a major failure in U.S. foreign policy. A madman now has a nuclear weapon. The previous U.S. president supplied this madman with nuclear-power plants in exchange for empty promises to abandon a nuclear-weapons program. The current U.S. president pointed to Iraq as an example of what might happen to the other members of Club Evil. Instead of crying "uncle," North Korea and Iran are doing everything in their power to obtain the nuclear weapons that Saddam Hussein wished he had.
Hussein would not be sitting in a courtroom today had he possessed them, would he? Obviously, there are many reasons North Korea and Iran want nuclear weapons independent of Hussein's outcome. But Saddam's fellow evil doers in North Korea and Iran certainly wish to escape that fate. Nuclear weapons is a pretty good insurance policy against the ignoble demise Saddam Hussein is experiencing.
While we are on the subject of inappropriate AIDS educators, did you ever get a chance to see how Chuck Norris educated Haley Joel Osment about AIDS on Walker Texas Ranger? View the classic clip from Late Night with Conan O'Brien.
David Scondras, a former Boston city councilman, runs an AIDS-education foundation. So what was he doing soliciting unprotected sex? Seeking out unsafe sex certainly undermines one's authority as an "AIDS educator." Seeking out unsafe sex with someone one believes to be fifteen years old just plain undermines one.
The former Boston city councillor apparently recognizes this, allegedly telling the faux-fifteen year old: "You know a lot of people have prejudices against guys who like to have sex with children." Ya think? Scondras knows about these "prejudices" first hand. This latest incident is not the first time that the left-wing politician has found himself embroiled in a controversy regarding underage sex. Ten years ago, Scondras allegedly lured a sixteen-year-old into a movie theater to grope the youth. Instead of responding in kind, the high-school student proceeded to beat the living body thetans out of Scondras. But even that embarrasing beatdown imparted no lasting lesson.
"In Scondrasí car," the arresting officer noted to the Boston Herald, "were four blue packages of 'Wet' lubricant and an open bottle containing a 'red alcohol substance.'" Despite being caught wet handed, Scondras denies the charges.
What does an "AIDS educator" who petitions a minor for unprotected sex in the woods have to teach anyone about AIDS?
"Freedom means freedom: not necessity, but choice; not responsibility, but the choice between responsibility and irresponsibility; not duty, but the choice between accepting and rejecting duty; not virtue, but the choice between virtue and vice."
--Frank Meyer, In Defense of Freedom, 1962
Here's the disgusting video of the anti-free-speech Left shutting down a speech by Minuteman founder Jim Gilchrist at Columbia University. Note Columbia security protecting the anti-free-speech hooligans. Eight years ago, Columbia's president dispatched security to keep attendees from a conference I had organized (and contracted with Columbia's Faculty House to hold) from attending the event. When accused of censorship, a school official said that since they were banning the audience and not the speakers it didn't amount to that. The security forced us to hold the event in an off-campus park--in November! Herbert Marcuse's condemnation of "repressive tolerance" has been enacted at Columbia, an institution that Marcuse was once affiliated with. "Liberating tolerance," New Left guru Marcuse claimed, "would mean intolerance against movements from the Right and toleration of movements from the Left." Students disrupt speeches at Columbia because they have the tacit approval of the administration. Eight years ago, Accuracy in Academia had 13 film rolls of film proving just what students berated conference-goers and shouted down speakers. Today, the organizers of the Minutemen speech have a video tape showing the barbarians stamping out free speech. In neither case has Columbia acted to punish the self-appointed guardians of speech. In both cases their security acted to protect lawbreakers.
Was Christopher Columbus really a Catalan Spaniard and not a Genoese Italian? That's the thesis aired in the Discovery Channel's Secrets from the Grave. Why would Columbus conceal his ancestry? The documentary theorizes that Columbus played a role in an uprising against the Spanish monarchy, a fact Columbus necessarily hid in his attempts to gain the patronage of Ferdinand and Isabella. Evidence supporting the radical revision include Columbus's letters, none of which were written in Italian. Even Columbus's letters to his own brother were written in Spanish. Why would two Italians converse in Spanish? I don't have a good explanation. The Discovery Channel documentary, broadcast today at 1 p.m., suggests that the brothers communicated in Spanish because they were Spaniards.
Ms. magazine is launching a "campaign of honesty and freedom" called "We Had Abortions." Women proud enough of their choice to sign an online petition will have their names listed in the next issue of Ms. If Whoopi Goldberg signs, will Ms. print her name seven times or only once?
What would inspire congressional pages to make Mark Foley the mark of a purported prank that drew out the congressman's perversions? It seems Foley had a reputation as a hawk among teenage prey. Three additional congressional pages, serving prior to the page featured in the the most revolting of the instant messages, allege that Foley attempted to entice them sexually too, ABC News reports. The twists and turns in this story dizzy anyone paying attention. One constant is the ex-congressman's creepiness.
Drudge is reporting that the seedy instant messages between ex-Rep. Mark Foley and congressional pages were the result of a joke that spiraled out of control. "[Jordan] Edmund, a conservative Republican, goaded an unwitting Foley to type embarrassing comments that were then shared with a small group of young Hill politicos," Drudge reports. "The prank went awry when the saved IM sessions got into the hands of political operatives favorable to Democrats." The bad news for Foley? Some eager prosecutor, rather than Ashton Kutcher, may be the one telling him that he got punk'd.
Mojorisin24, DocMcG, and Ralph all went 9-4-1 to become the AYRFSF pool tri-champions for week four. Offer your congratulations as you make your football prognostications. All survival pool participants--Ralph, Wayne Sash, Dennis, Potato Man, DocMcG, and myself--survived.
Home teams are in caps. All picks are against the spread. Make your selections in the comments section below. Here are my picks: COLTS -18.5 over Titans, Redskins +4.5 over GIANTS, VIKINGS -6.5 over Lions, SAINTS -6.5 over Bucs, PACKERS +3 over Rams, PATRIOTS -10 over Dolphins, Bills +10 over BEARS, PANTHERS -8.5 over Browns, JAGUARS -7 over Jets, Chiefs -3.5 over CARDS, Raiders +3 over NINERS, EAGLES -1.5 over Cowboys, CHARGERS -3.5 over Steelers, and, on Monday Night Football, BRONCOS -4 over Ravens.
Survival Pool Pick: Carolina Panthers
New England Patriots, Indianapolis Colts, Miami Dolphins, Atlanta Falcons
What's the difference between eighteen and sixteen? The penitentiary, that's what. Mark Foley has much to be penitent about, but, if the information coming from the DrudgeReport holds water, he will not need to serve his penance behind bars. Andrew Sullivan, an authority I trust on such matters, points out that Washington, DC's age-of-consent law makes sixteen the threshold, and the Internet predator laws that Congressman Foley helped craft makes one's eighteenth birthday the relevant date. The Congressional page, it turns out, was eighteen--though ABC News described him as "under eighteen"--when he engaged with Congressman Mark Foley in the most lurid of the web conversations detailed on the news outfit's website.
If the other gross conversations occurred before the page's eighteenth birthday, then the revelation probably won't mean a whole lot for Mark Foley's legal problems. For ABC, on the other hand, the revelation does mean a whole lot.
ABC News got the story wrong. What Rathergate was to the 2004 election cycle, ABC's botched reporting on Mark Foley's interest in "mentoring" young men may prove to be to this year's races. It has knocked every other news item--Iraq, the surging Dow, dropping gas prices--off the frontpage. To paraphrase Lucy, ABC gotta lotta splainin to do. Why did they sit on the story in August? Why did they misreport something so legally crucial as the page's age? Why don't they describe how they got the story and who gave it to them?
What of Mark Foley? The best that can be said of his situation is that his attorneys breathe a little easier today. Liberals, with all their rhetoric about "consenting adults," have no right to disparage Foley's character any further should the Florida Republican's chat pal turn out to have been eighteen when the exchanges occurred. After all, the congressman will have lived his life according to their precepts. If the scandal causes any liberals to have an epiphany on the tired mantras they have been spouting for the last forty years, then I welcome their continued criticism of Foley. If they wish to continue to advocate such bankrupt principles, they should kindly shut up about this.
Conservatives, on the other hand, don't buy into any "consenting adults" nonsense, at least outside the legal sense. Eighteen is still a kid, particularly in relation to a fiftysomething dance partner. Morality and ethics, and not just the law, matter. A congressman who lacks judgment enough to know that he shouldn't pursue congressional pages should not serve as a delegate for any community. In other words, Foley owed it to his constituents to resign. After Gerry Studds and Bill Clinton defiantly acted as though their antagonists, and not them, had something to apologize for, Foley's fate may seem harsh. It's not. Studds and Clinton just got off easy.
"The man of culture finds the whole past relevant; the bourgeois and the barbarian find relevant only what has some pressing connection with their appetites."
--Richard Weaver, Ideas Have Consequences, 1948
Both the disgraced ex-Congressman Mark Foley and the source of the information that derailed his career (and his dating life) are employing playbook public relations strategies.
When damaging information emerges about Foley, he releases other information to trump the initial damaging story. His respresentatives first came clean about his homosexuality, then announced that he was seeking treatment for alcoholism, and finally that he had allegedly been abused by a clergyman as a child. Each piece of information not only shifts the focus, but presents Foley--who preyed upon high schoolers!--as a victim too. Other than Foley being a homosexual, the public has no idea if there is any truth in the information that his public relations men have released. He may be an alcoholic. He may not be. He may have been molested. He may not have been. Even his supposed rehab stay serves a purpose. It excuses him from answering questions and makes it seem as though he's not hiding away in a bunker. Rather than get the truth out to the public, Foley's press people are perhaps more interested in obscuring the truth. In effect, they want to block each damaging revelation with a newsworthy revelation about Foley that puts him in the most sympathetic light possible.
When political operatives have damaging information, it's best not to release it all at once. Let the information drip, drip, drip. That way, not only does the story not blow over in a single news cycle, but the subject of the story is forced into either confirming the material not yet released or lying about it. Neither option is a desirable one. Notice that the least damaging information came out first. We learned that Foley offered a birthday present to a high schooler and solicited a picture of him at the beach. It's suspicious, but one could see how his staunch defenders could build a case that those text messages were innocent. But when the next round of messages are released, they've made fools of themselves as the new electronic notes show the congressman stating his desire to remove a sixteen-year-old's shorts. The congressman's people say that is the extent of the story, and then they're hit with Foley's textmessages setting up meetings and showing a willingness to provide the minor with alcohol. As the information gets progressively worse, the people who downplayed the earlier information lose credibility. Timing, too, is of import. Rather than breaking in the winter, as the Monica Lewinsky scandal did, Pagegate--which happened years ago--broke in the midst of election season. It takes one seat from the Republican column and puts it into the Democrat column, and ensures an entire week of news coverage that puts Republicans on the defensive and Democrats on the offensive. The Democrats have recovered the Big Mo.
Whoever released these textmessages likely had all of the material from the start. The idea that the source had one theoretically defensible set of messages, then sequentially obtained and released increasingly more damaging ones is highly unlikely. Ditto for the convenient timing of Foley's rehab trip, and Oprah-like revelations about himself. The public is right to be suspicious.
Few things in politics happen by accident. One can knock partisans for taking advantage. Or, one can recognize that that is just politics, and learn to better discern what's tactics and what's truth.
So which side is winning the public relations battle? There is no way to even defend, let alone positively spin, a pervert preying on high-school students for sex--particularly when the pervert in question posed as a crusader against such exploitation. The Democrats got dealt a royal flush. The Republicans got a two, a four, a seven, a nine, and a Jackass. Some hands are losers even if Stu Unger is playing them.
Marie Roberts, wife of the milkman who murdered five girls in an Amish schoolhouse, explains: "The man that did this today was not the Charlie I've been married to for almost 10 years. My husband was loving, supportive, thoughtful. All the things you'd always want and more. He was an exceptional father." Alas, the Charles Carl Roberts IV was the same man she married. He may have been loving, supportive, and thoughtful, but he was also likely evil, disturbed, and callous. These conflicting traits can be found in the same person.
It's often difficult for one to own up to misdeeds one commits. "It was the alcohol." "I wasn't myself that day." "It wasn't my fault." Et cetera, Et cetera. Assigning responsibiliy to loved ones for heinous acts that they commit may be even more difficult. Admitting a loved one's guilt amounts to admitting oneself a dupe. It also projects the personal relationship that exists between the relatives upon any relationship the malevolent relative has with an outsider. There is the tendency to accentuate the positive. Highlighting a small bit of good can serve to obscure massive amounts of evil. There is also the question of objectivity. It's hard for someone that close to the painting to see the big picture amidst all the small paint blotches and strokes. Even neighbors often react to the arrest of the serial killer next store by claiming him as the most normal man in the world.
Maybe so, but what is abnormal about evil? It's been around since Adam and Eve. Everyone has a capacity to commit acts of evil. Evil may not be the default position of man, but it's certainly not abnormal in the sense that, say, albino tigers are abnormal. What's so hard to understand about a "normal" appearing man partaking in nefarious deeds?
Evil generally doesn't come advertised as evil. It would be helpful if evil people all looked like Freddy Krueger. But they don't. Sometimes they they look like Ted Bundy. Sometimes they look like Bambi Bembenek. Evil people often act like everybody else too--at least most of the time. If a malefactor passes as an everyday brother, husband, or neighbor, that's usually because he is someone's brother, someone's husband, someone's neighbor. They're not putting on an act. Maybe we are putting on an act when we recoil in shock that someone's brother, husband, neighbor did this.
In making all sorts of excuses for our own acts of evil, human beings seem to have no difficulty accepting that generally good people can lapse into moments of evil and still be good. What so many have trouble seeing is that generally evil people can lapse into moments of good and still be evil.
So gay men haven't made much of a positive contribution to the U.S. Congress? Cheer up! They've made up for it in their contributions to popular music. Here's my top five list, with links to vintage YouTube clips, of rock songs by dudes who are into dudes:
3. Every Day Is Like Sunday, Morrissey
Morrissey claims that he is asexual. This clip claims otherwise.
2. Heroin, The Velvet Underground
Lou Reed is a seedy, creepy dude, who will try anything twice.
1. Under Pressure, Queen/David Bowie
If gayness were a church, Freddie Mercury would be its patron saint.
A day after the Nobel Committee named two Americans the winners of its prize for medicine, the august body named two more Americans the winners of its prize for physics. John Mather of the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland and George Smoot of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in Berkeley, California won based on their work detailing with greater precision the "big bang" that started the universe billions of years ago. What? Hold on a second. Billions of years ago? The universe was created 6,000 years ago. Take back the award! (I keed! I keed!) Anyhow, in a slight improvement over the award for medicine, Americans, and people affiliated with American institutions, have won a share of the award in ten of the last ten years. I would say that when it comes to science and medicine, America is like the New York Yankees. But the Yankees only win the big one every five or so years. Americans win these Nobels almost every year. So, instead, I'll say that countries such as Saudi Arabia, Mongolia, and Mexico are like the Los Angeles Clippers of science and medicine.
Congressman Gerry Studds bedded a seventeen-year-old congressional page. Congressman Barney Frank met Stephen Gobie by paying him $80 for sex, and then subsequently let the man stay in his home--from where he ran a prostitution ring. New Jersey Governor Jim McGreevey cruised highway reststops for sex and passed over the former head of the FBI to run his state's counterterrorism efforts in favor of his love interest. Congressman Mark Foley resigned in disgrace after sending lewd text messages to a sixteen-year-old congressional page. From Foley preying upon young people put in his and other Congressmen's trust to Frank fixing parking tickets for his hustler boyfriend, all of these scandals involved abuses of office. Just like Monicagate, these sex scandals involved a lot more than just sex.
What is up with male homosexual officeholders? It's hardly the case that straight politicians have been immune from sex scandal. Wilbur Mills, Gary Hart, Chuck Robb, Bill Clinton, Gary Condit, et cetera, et cetera. But the number of open homosexuals who have served in Congress you can count on your fingers. You need nearly all those fingers to identify the homosexual congressmen embroiled in some sort of tawdry, sexual escapade made public. I don't recall Steve Gunderson or Jim Kolbe ever making the tabloid sheets, but it is striking that so many of the so few gay males in public office find themselves there.
Is this because the public often learns of a politician's homosexuality after a sex scandal hits? Do men who cross societal boundaries with regard to homosexuality have less of a problem crossing societal boundaries regarding prostitution, age, and other societal taboos?
My suspicion is that even raising this second question, regardless of how one answers it, is an even greater societal taboo than the appalling behavior of Studds, McGreevey, Foley and company.
Andrew Fire of Stanford University and Craig Mello of the UMass Medical School in Worcester, Massachusetts have been awarded 2006's Nobel Prize for medicine. They did so after making discoveries about fighting viruses through gene treatment. The awarding of the prize to the American pair, after 2005's award went to two Australians, marks a year drought for Americans winning the prize. Since World War II, an American has had a share in the award in roughly three-fourths of the years. In the last decade, an American has shared at least part of the award in nine of ten years.
Instead of using Jim McGreevey's "I am a gay American" excuse, Rep. Mark Foley has opted for the "I am an alcoholic" excuse--last employed with great success by Patches Kennedy, who substituted "drug addict" for "alcoholic." After laying the groundwork for blaming the alcohol in later appearances on television talk shows, Foley assures everyone that he does "accept full responsibility." Well, you wrote those pervy emails, right? Who else, but Mark Foley, should "accept full responsibility"?