Saturday, December 31, 2005

New Year's Wish

May 2006 see the return of democracy in the United States.

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Brokeback Mountain

If you have not seen the film, Brokeback Mountain, please do not read--this post contains a spoiler....

I was part of the sold out crowd at Upstate Films which saw Brokeback Mountain last night. And, for all the hype it is getting--that it is ground breaking, the first romantic film featuring two cowboys (read:real men)--I came away from the film saddened, and not too sure that heterosexuals who viewed the film were any more enlightened or moved to support gay and lesbian equal rights. Oh, the film does give viewers a wider range of masculinity and sexuality--but not too wide: the same sex sex is almost animalistic--with very little tenderness.
First, Heath Ledger (as Ennis de Val) portrayed internalized homophobia perfectly. What a sad life he leads. And, the last film shot is of the shirts hanging on his closet door, with the Wyoming landscape seen through the trailer window on the righthand side of the screen, says it all: a closeted cowboy lives a poor and pathetic life. Jake Gyllenhaal (as Jack Twist--hmmm, perhaps shortened from:twisted?) receives the ultimate punishment of a gay man who enjoys forbidden love.
These themes--the sad and pathetic life of being closeted or being killed for being gay --do not make the case for gay and lesbian equal rights. I am reminded of all the films and television plots that if they featured lesbians, up until the advent of The L-Word, had the lesbian character being portrayed as deranged, or evil, and punished (killed) for being outside the heterosexual norm--from The Children's Hour to Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
The film for all its pretense at transgressing the norms of masculinity and sexuality, just re-enforces the norm. If only Ennis could have overcome his homophobia so that he and Jack could live Jack's fantasy--now, that would be transgressive!

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Not a scientific poll,BUT

From a MSNBC live vote as of 2:38 p.m. 12/22/05 (
Do you believe President Bush's actions justify impeachment? * 88145 responses
Yes, between the secret spying, the deceptions leading to war and more, there is plenty to justify putting him on trial.86%
No, like any president, he has made a few missteps, but nothing approaching "high crimes and misdemeanors."5%
No, the man has done absolutely nothing wrong. Impeachment would just be a political lynching.8%
I don't know.1%

While this is not a scientific poll, it is important that of 88,000+ responses (of course, biased) that people feel that the President has overstepped his legal position. And, there is now public discussion of impeachment--not only on liberal blogs, internet sites & media BUT in public space on a "reliable" news source that is owned by General Electric!!!

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Has any one noticed?

Has any one noticed that as the Bush administration supposedly build democracy in Iraq, the Bush administration has been dismantling democracy in the first modern liberal democracy: the United States of America?

And, I am not mentioning the sorry state of domestic policy--unfunded mandates such as No Child Left Behind, which unfortunately does nothing to educate and teach critical thinking skills, just memorization; the failure of FEMA; the lack of sufficient funding that might have prevented the loss of New Orleans; the failure to implement the basic necessities that would allow first responders to communicate with each other . . . All the while saying the economy is improving while more companies are laying off workers (and if we don't count the people who are no longer collecting unemployment, but are either underemployed or haven't found jobs--well then the picture is rosier).

Other Presidents have been impeached for a LOT less...

And, may I refer you all to the Declaration of Independence...

Monday, December 12, 2005

"Twilight of the Idols"

Sometimes a little Nietzsche is called for (from Twilight of the Idols, 38.): "Liberal institutions immediately cease to be liberal as soon as they are attained: subsequently there is nothing more thoroughly harmful to freedom than liberal institutions. . .For what is Freedom? That one has the will to self responsibility. . ."

Saturday, December 03, 2005

Parsing Insurgency

The President's "Plan for Victory" (which was not a plan) address on Wednesday was an excellent lesson in political rhetoric. Spoken before an audience that is prone to favor him--The Naval Academy; he is the commander in chief, after all. The President performed a slight of hand, changing what we call the people we are fighting in Iraq from the "the insurgents" or "the insurgency" to:
". . .The enemy in Iraq is a combination of rejectionists, Saddamists and terrorists. "
(The entire speech is linked)

To define the terms--the rejectionists ( the largest group)--the group who are rejecting democracy (hmmm, maybe you can not impose democracy on a people?). The second group still support the disposed dictator (currently on trial wearing professorial garb) . And, last the terrorists (who we may have created).

Of course, the American people are going to want to defend against democracy-haters, people who support evil dictators, and terrorists. Thus, with a little bit of parsing the war on Iraq continues.

Bush is hoping for Americans' short term memory loss--why did we invade Iraq? What were those reasons? He is hoping to drum up support for this ill-advised (even his Daddy said not to go), ill-planned and ill-executed.

As I write this one of my students is on his way to Iraq. Please note I do support the troops, I wish our government did ( he said he had to spend $2000 to outfit himself and he is a ROTC Marine lance corporal). It is this administration's total disregard of democracy that I do not support, as the victims' of 9/11 have said: "Not in My Name."

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