Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Working Hard to Welcome Hetero Homogeneity 

Did you see that movie Awakenings, with Robin Williams and Robert De Niro? Williams is a doctor with a number of post-encephalitis catatonic patients on his ward, whom he treats with anti-tremor meds. His theory is that their catatonic states are like a tremor that is so severe that the muscles have completely seized up.

That's how I feel whenever I read a news item or hear an NPR report on something about Pres. Bush. I get all heated up and ready to blog, but then I read or hear more, or explore related topics to get additional information, and I just get so tremulous that I seize up and can't go near the keyboard. Can't even begin to formulate an adequate response. So it passes uncommented. Perhaps that's his strategy - he gets everyone who agrees with him all riled up in their ecstasy, while at the same time so infuriating everyone else that we're apoplectic and can't respond.

I almost let myself get into this state this morning, but I swore that I'd fight through it and put something out here. First I saw a Yahoo news headline, "Bush unveils new Iraq strategy document." I think to myself, "Oh, he's finally decided that his strategy of simply making declarations that it's the right thing to do, and that since we've already started down the road it would be horrible to adapt to unanticipated outcomes because that would send the wrong signal is perhaps in need of some tweaking?" So I go on over to the article to see what this new strategy is.

The article reveals that the White House has released a 35-page document titled "Our National Strategy for Victory in Iraq."

Excuse me? All this in a tidy 35-page document with a title that sounds like it was written as part of an eighth grade social studies project? Guess it's taken this long to come up with a strategy because they were working on paring it down to the essentials. You know the saying - "Sorry for such a long letter, I didn't have time to write a short one."

I tried to find the text of the grand strategy, but although Scott McLellan said yesterday that it would be posted on the White House website by early this morning, it doesn't appear to be there yet. I'll keep checking. [UPDATE: They've now posted not only the document, but a whole page devoted to it, titled "Renewal in Iraq."]

Further in the article it mentions that Bush will be making an address at the US Naval Academy today, during which he will attempt to bolster support for the war. Well, that just reminded me of another article I saw yesterday about how the US Naval Academy Alumni Association has once again rebuffed requests from USNA OUT, an organization of gay and lesbian alums of Annapolis. In the past the Alumni Association has refused to give the group standing as part of the official alumni association, with the rationale that all the other chapters are geographically based. Another argument is that USNA OUT is a special interest group that would exclude others. Not so, responded USNA OUT, we're open to all alums and as of last year they already had at least one straight member. In yesterday's article they noted that in addition to the official geographically-based chapters, the Alumni Association also recognizes an official chapter of RV-owning alums. Isn't that a special interest group, and don't they fear that owners of more ecologically sound vehicles might feel excluded?

At every opportunity, the Alumni Association has emphasized their "commitment to diversity and inclusiveness." So now USNA OUT has requested that the Association include an anti-discrimination policy in its by-laws. The Association has refused:

Skid Heyworth, a spokesperson for the Alumni Association tells WBAL television that the policy statement is not needed.

"We are an inclusive organization. We have been an inclusive organization ever since the alumni association was founded," he said.

Heyworth said that Petrie has already been told by Adm. Carlisle A.H. Trost (retired), the chairman of the board that "adding a clause into our bylaws would be unnecessary and would not better define who we are and what we stand for," Heyworth said.

Sounds like a play out of the President's playbook. We don't need to put a policy into writing because we say we don't discriminate. We're working hard to include everyone. That's why we don't want these gay folk setting themselves apart - the poor straight alums might feel left out and want their own club. Dude, guess what - the straight alums OWN the club.

So he's speaking at the Naval Academy today. Wonder who's side he would take on the issue? For more on that, let's take a look at his comments at yesterday's benefit luncheon for Colorado Congresswoman Marilyn Musgrave. You know Rep. Musgrave - author of the Musgrave Amendment, otherwise known as the Federal Marriage Amendment. Otherwise known as the "All Americans are equal, but some are more equal than others and deserve to have their committed relationships recognized, while others are abominations and should have any legally sanctioned recognition abolished Act."

So our president spoke at a fundraiser for the distinguished gentlewoman - wonder what he had to say? Fortunately for us, his remarks have been published on the White House website. I decided to peruse it, see what he had to say, see if it's anything new, and see if he would still express support for the FMA.

Let's see... Oh yeah, here are some quotes demonstrating his usual themes:

I appreciate Marilyn because she's a hard worker. [He just loves hard workers, like "Heckuva job, Brownie"]

I know she cares about the people of Colorado because every time I see her she says, I want to remind you about the values that are important in Colorado. [Yep, here come the family values]

She's not only a hard worker, she brings common-sense values to Washington, D.C. And that's a town that needs some common-sense values. In order to keep this country safe, in order to keep this country strong, we need people like Marilyn Musgrave in the United States Congress. [Got to save the country from those people who don't have "family values." Sounds like Rick Santorum's message, equating marriage equality with terrorism]

Nothing like somebody in the Congress who loves her family and who understands the importance of family values. And that's Marilyn Musgrave. [Ah, those family values]

But most of all, I want to thank you all for working hard to get this good person back in Congress. We got a lot to do up there. [Workin' hard, people, workin' hard]

We believe in the freedom of people to worship and speak their mind, the freedom of the press to print what they want. They believe in the opposite. [speaking of the unnamed enemy in the Middle East. Of course, the first amendment also protects the freedom not to worship, or to worship differently from the mainstream, or to worship in the same church but not share the divisive ideology that excludes those who don't share every single of your ideas. But no, in this dichotomy-loving administration, "You're either with us or you're against us." You either share his definition of family values or you're a threat to America]

They have stated openly their desire to do to Iraq what they did to Afghanistan, to convert that country into a safe haven so they can plan, plot and attack. We will defeat the enemy in Iraq. We will do our job to protect the American people. [Oh, so it's not because of WMD's, it's because of a declaration that "they" are going to repeat "what they did in Afghanistan," which leads the listener to associate Iraq with al Qaeda, and Iraq with 9/11 - when there is NO CONNECTION]

And in a time of war, it's important to support those who wear the uniform, the men and women who are courageous enough to volunteer for the United States military. Marilyn is a strong supporter for our troops, and that's important. [There's a difference between supporting a misguided policy and supporting the military personnel who are stuck with the job of enacting it]

Marilyn also understands what I know, is that we've got a strategy for victory in Iraq. [Important plug for today's release of "Our National Strategy for Victory in Iraq." See, Marilyn is smart because she understands that what the president "knows" is inherently the truth. Because he's workin' hard.]

Listen, these people -- the mothers in Iraq are like the mothers here in Colorado; they want to raise their child in a free and peaceful society. And they've got citizens willing to sacrifice for that free and peaceful society. [Oh, this is just too much. The US won't even keep official numbers on the number of Iraqi civilians killed in this action, but he's going to tout Iraqi mothers as being willing to sacrifice their children for the sake of Our National Strategy? I'm willing to bet there are a lot more Iraqi Cindy Sheehans than Marilyn Musgraves.]

Oh, I know there's some in Washington that have said, get out of Iraq now. They're wrong. Precipitous withdrawal of our troops would send the wrong signal to our own troops, send the wrong signal to the enemy, and send the wrong signal to people around the world who watch the commitment of the United States. [There's that "wrong signal" tactic again. Plus the requisite statement that "they" are wrong, without any actual support for this determination]

We're going to stop catch and release by expanding the number of detention beds. We got people working hard down there. They're finding people trying to sneak into the country, and sure enough, shortly after they get detained, they're back in society again. And so we're going to increase the amount of detention space and work on expedited removal. [Touting his new immigration policies. See, we're going to stop letting the little fish, I mean the illegal immigrants go after we hook them. We're going to put them in jail. Then we'll expedite their removal. But wait - doesn't that mean "release?" But he's workin' hard, so it's okay]

Finally, I feel strongly that in order to have a good and secure border, we got to differentiate between those who are here to work and those who are here to bring criminal -- to provide -- to do criminal activities. Listen, we got people coming into this country to do the jobs Americans won't do. It seems like to me it makes sense to have a willing worker be able to work with a willing employer on a temporary basis. [See, if these illegal fish want to work hard, then it's okay - bring 'em on in! Of course, in many cases it's not actually that Americans aren't willing to do the work, it's that the employers aren't willing to meet American government regulations on workplace safety, compensation and taxation, so they employ illegal immigrants who can't complain because they'd be risking deportation]

But wait, that last paragraph wasn't the real "finally," despite his having said so. He saved the best for last. You know you were waiting for it: I'm also proud of the fact that she stands up for values that she thinks important. It's really important for the United States of America to promote a culture of life, to be a welcoming society -- to recognize the value of each person. Marilyn is a strong supporter of developing a culture of life. And she's a strong supporter of the sanctity of marriage -- who supported a constitutional amendment to make sure that activist judges do not redefine traditional marriage. And I'm proud of your support of that important piece of legislation, Marilyn. And the people of this district ought to send her back to Washington, D.C. because she shares the same values as most people in Colorado.

There it is. It just wouldn't be a complete luncheon address without advocating a welcoming society that bars marriage equality and promotes the sanctity of marriage. Well, for those who meet the criteria of those who worship as he and Marilyn do. Wait - what was that first amendment thing? Something about church - state - separate? But it's okay, because this is a welcoming society. Like the US Naval Academy Alumni Association. It's all about not bowing to special interests that want to separate themselves from the rest of society.

No, wait. It's sounds a little bit like we gay folk actually want to join in society, want to make a legal commitment to family, for better or worse.

See how it goes? It's enough to make you walk away from the keyboard. But we've got to make that sacrifice and work hard to speak out. Workin' hard, people, workin' hard.

Posted by Beth Henderson at 8:08 AM