Monday, May 23, 2011

Pish and Piffle

Sometimes Andrew Sullivan is exasperating.

Take this item in today’s Daily Dish: Bronski’s Beat.

It contains these lines:

It has always seemed chilling to me that gay leftists - when pushed to say what they really believe - want to keep gays in some sort of glorious, oppressed, marginalized position, until the majority agrees with the gay left's view of human nature, and revolutionizes straight society as well. This will never happen (and in my view, shouldn't).

Until then, the gay left focuses on demonizing those gays who argue for those who want to belong to their own families as equals, serve their country or commit to one another for life. In this, in my view, the gay left mirrors the Christianist right: they insist that otherness define the minority, even though most members of that minority are born and grow up in the heart of the American family, in all its variations, and of American culture, in all its permutations. No one should be marginalized for seeking otherness. But we are fighting for it to be a choice, not a fate.

All of that because some guy named Bronski wrote a book.

I don’t know Bronski; I don’t care about Bronski; I wish him well, as I would any stranger.

Sullivan, on the other hand (whom I also don’t know except through his writing) is part of my support system—OK, he doesn’t know that nor would he care much. And I find it galling that he would take the words of one, or two or even a hundred of such writers as Bronski and call him/them “the gay left.”

No one in my cohort of friends and acquaintances fits the description of Sullivan’s “the gay left,” but virtually every one of them is gay and/or a politically left person.

Sullivan trips up on his own style when in the first paragraph he uses “gay leftist.” Usually he reserves the suffix “-ist” for such as the odious Christian extremist (Christianist) or the odious Moslem extremist (Islamist).

By the second para he has forgotten that he’s writing about extremists and has omitted the suffix. Which brings me and my friends and acquaintances into the mix. We don’t belong there.

Significant writing error, that omission.

Do you suppose he’ll apologize, Dear Gentle Reader(s)?

Even when reading Sullivan (he will go over the top on occasion), the admonition applies:

Trust, but verify.

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Sunday, May 22, 2011

Are you…

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On NPR this morning a host asked, “Are you spiritual?”

What does that mean?  What, specifically, does spiritual  mean in that context?

Physically we aren’t spiritual. It’s corporal all the way, baby!

Does one believe in spirits? How can we?

One responds to a situation with emotion and then one might think about that particular emotion, questioning its genesis and its function.

The many degrees of sadness might somehow be emotionally akin to a contemplation which we might commonly call “spiritual.”  So, too, though, can be degrees of joy, elation.

But does that make us spiritual?

What is the “spirit” of America?  Why are cheerleaders sometimes called Spirit Teams?

Do you cogitate?

Do you believe in ghosts?

Are you spiritual?

I have emotional responses, some of which make me feel as though I had transcended something; I don’t call that spiritual.

Trust, but verify.

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Wednesday, May 18, 2011


There isn’t much from David Frum with which I agree; this quote, lifted from Andrew Sullivan’s The Dish, is one.

Writing about the Gingrich-vs-Ryan-Medicare-suggestion kerfuffle, Frum pens:

[T]he American public will not accept this kind of reform and will smash any politician who tries to force it upon them. There are ways to reduce the fiscal burden of Medicare, but telling seniors to buy their own damn healthcare is not going to be one of them. I wish it were somebody other than the Kenyan-anticolonialism-sharia law candidate making that argument, but it’s an important argument from any source.

Of course this proposal of Ryan’s is right wing social engineering. How can anyone not see that?

For once in his strange little life, Gingrich gets it right and has to apologize. Where’s the justice?

And I’m loving it.

Trust, but verify.

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Monday, May 2, 2011

Any man’s death diminishes me.

At this particular moment in time, as we digest the news of the death of Osama Bin Laden, Dear Gentle Reader(s), we might take a cue from President Obama as to the appropriate behavior for us all. As reported in the Los Angeles Times, “Inside the White House, aides said Obama's mood was not celebratory when told of Bin Laden's death, but rather was ‘sober and serious.’"

On the surface, the cheering crowds in New York City and outside the White House had just cause for celebration. Mr. Bin Laden certainly was cold-blooded and cruel in his capacity as the leader of al Qaeda, and he well deserved the ultimate punishment at the hands of American servicemen and in the name of the American people.

Regardless, Mr. Obama’s sobriety and seriousness are the appropriate tones for the occasion.  As John Donne wrote in Meditation XVII, “…any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind…”

Especially in circumstances such as this, we are diminished. The act of killing another human being surely stems from a failure of some sort on the part of us humans.

Somewhere in the rearing of a child who grows to become a murderer there was a lesson untaught, a lesson unlearned. Most people are not murderers—lessons taught, lessons learned. These lessons are part of every social contract.

Until we have discovered the key to unlocking the secrets of whatever causes motivations to kill, our sense of satisfaction at the time of exaction of justice ought to be tempered with, at least, a soupcon of sobriety.

Trust, but verify.

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