On December 20, George W. Bush announced he is consideringexpanding the Army and Marines and that he believes â€œweâ€™re going to winâ€ inIraq. What could the little megalomaniac possibly mean by â€œwinâ€? Does anyonewith more than six functioning neurons believe him?
Tony Authâ€™s cartoon said it well.Stubborn stupidity is, after all, one of Bushâ€™s two specialties. The other isspeaking out of both sides of his mouth.
How would Bush increase the size of the military? As theAssociated Press noted,â€œThe unpopular war in Iraq, where more than 2,950 American troops have alreadydied, complicates the task of finding more recruits and retaining currenttroops.â€ That would seem to point in only one direction: the draft.
WASHINGTON (AP) -- The SelectiveService System is planning a comprehensive test of the military draftmachinery, which hasn't been run since 1998 . . .
Meanwhile, the secretary for VeteransAffairs said that â€œsociety would benefitâ€ if the U.S. were to bring back thedraft and that it shouldn't have any loopholes for anyone who is called toserve. Secretary Jim Nicholson later issued a statement saying he does notsupport reinstituting a draft . . .
The Selective Service â€œreadinessexerciseâ€ would test the system that randomly chooses draftees by birth dateand the network of appeals boards that decide how to deal with conscientiousobjectors and others who want to delay reporting for duty, said Scott Campbell,Selective Service director for operations and chief information officer . . .
The administration has for yearsforcefully opposed bringing back the draft, and the White House said Thursdaythat its position had not changed.
How much is this â€œcomprehensive test of the military draftmachineryâ€ going to cost taxpayers? If, as it claims, the Bush administrationdoes not intend to try to reinstate the draft, why mount this expensive â€œtestâ€?
Bush gazed further into his opaque crystal ball in hisDecember 20 press conference: â€œI am predicting that itâ€™s going to take a whilefor the ideology of liberty to finally triumph over the ideology of hate.â€ Bushshould certainly know about the â€œideology of hate.â€ He deployed a strategybased on it in both his presidential campaigns. And those retrogradeRepublicans who wish to follow in his ignominious footsteps are still at it.
New York Timescolumnist Frank Rich made the case in a recent article:
This time around, ballot initiativesbanning same-sex marriage drew markedly less support than in 2004; thedraconian one endorsed by McCain in Arizona was voted down altogether. Twonational politicians who had kowtowed egregiously to their partyâ€™s fringe, RickSantorum and George Allen, were defeated, joining their ideological fellowtravelers Tom DeLay and Ralph Reed in the political junkyard. To furtherconfirm the inexorable march of social history, the only Christmas seasonmiracle to lift the beleaguered Bush administration this year has been theannouncement that Mary Cheney, the vice president's gay daughter, is pregnant.Her growing family is the living rejoinder to those in her fatherâ€™s party whowould relegate gay American couples and their children to second-class legal orhuman status.
Yet not even these political realities have entirelybroken the knee-jerk habit of some 2008 Republican presidential hopefuls to woohomophobes.
Chief among those wooers is Republican Sen. Sam Brownbackfrom Kansas, the state that redefinedâ€œscienceâ€ to include metaphysical explanations for natural phenomena. Thesenatorâ€™s vehement antigay views are well known. He brags about them and plansto base his campaign on them:
Brownback woulddefine candidacy by opposing gays
Sam Brownback said Thursday [December21, 2006] that conservative values like opposition to abortion and same-sexmarriage will distinguish him from others vying for the 2008 Republicanpresidential nomination. â€I think thereâ€™s room in the field for someone withfull-scale conservative values,â€ the Kansas senator told about 80 people at aconference room of a branch of the Spartanburg, S.C., Regional HealthcareSystem.
Brownback was in the news recently for holding up theconfirmation of Michigan state judge Janet Neff to a federal district courtbecause, in 2002, she attended a lesbian commitment ceremony in Massachusetts.A year or so later, that stateâ€™s Supreme Court declared same-sex couples couldnot be barred from the civil institution called â€œmarriage.â€
As the New York Timesreported,
Judge Neff, a Michigan state courtjudge, attended the commitment ceremony of the daughter of a family who hadlived next door to her for 26 years. She said that attending and delivering ahomily was like joining in an important event in the life of one of her owndaughters.
Mr. Brownback, one of the mostconservative senators, considered it to be a disqualifier for the bench. Later,he made an equally objectionable offer: he would allow a vote on Judge Neff ifshe agreed to recuse herself from cases involving same-sex unions. The Senatedoes not get to tell federal judges what areas of law they may rule on.
Brownback eventually backed off and promised to allow a voteof Judge Neffâ€™s appointment. The New YorkTimes editorialmade the critical assessment:
Senator Brownback now seems to becalculating that even in the Republican Party, the sort of extreme bigotry hehas shown toward gay people would not be a selling point. At a time when Vice PresidentDick Cheneyâ€™s lesbian daughter is pregnant and President Bush has declaredhimself â€œhappyfor her,â€ Mr. Brownbackâ€™s hostility puts him far out on the political fringe.
Mr. Brownback says that although hewill allow Judge Neffâ€™s nomination to come to a vote, he is still likely tovote against her. If he does, he should be asked to explain his vote if he hitsthe presidential campaign trail. Whether someone has attended a same-sexcommitment ceremony is not a worthy litmus test to impose on someone seeking animportant office. Whether someone holds hateful views toward gay peoplecertainly is. [link added]
â€œHateful views toward gay peopleâ€ -- and unmitigated hypocrisy-- are also the forte of Pope Benedict XVI, leader of the institutionthat concealed decades of pedophiliaand child abuse by its priests. In his December 22 year-end speechto Romeâ€™s clergy, the pope urged theyrally the faithful to oppose laws that would support gay and opposite-sexunmarried couples.
Meanwhile, some â€œCatholic leadersâ€in America were already taking matters into their own hands:
Police have filed an assault charge against theexecutive director of Boston-based Catholic Citizenship in the attack on awoman protesting the groupâ€™s antigay rally Saturday outside City Hall inWorcester, Mass. Sarah Loy, 27, astraight supporter of same-sex marriage, says she was pushed to the groundby Larry Cirignano at the rally.
Cirignano, 50, Catholic Citizenshipâ€™s leader, usedthe rally to call on the Massachusetts legislature to vote on a proposed stateconstitutional amendment to halt same-sex marriages there. Last month statelawmakers recessed for the year without acting on the antigay proposal.
Loy, who attended with her husband and a few gayallies, went to the rally and staged a counterprotest. She held a sign sayingâ€œNo discrimination in the constitution.â€ When Cirignano saw Loy, she said, hestepped down from the podium and lunged at her, tackling her to the ground.
â€œYou need to get out. You need to get out of hereright now,â€ he threatened as he pushed her, her head slamming against theconcrete sidewalk, according to the WorcesterTelegram & Gazette. [linkadded]
Aside from hisongoing crusade on behalf of prejudice and disenfranchisement, Benedictâ€™sDecember 22 remarkswere prompted by the Italian governmentâ€™s promise to enact legislationguaranteeing civil equality and equal rights for all unmarried couples,including same-sex ones, by the end of January 2007. The pope doesnâ€™t likethat:
â€œI cannot silence my worry about thelaws on unmarried couples,â€ Benedict said. â€œMany of these couples have chosenthat road because, for the time being, they donâ€™t feel up to accepting thejudicially ordered and binding cohabitation of marriage.â€
â€œAnd so joining a man and a woman, andtwo people of the same sex becomes the same,â€ Benedict said. â€œWith that, theominous theories that deny any relevance to the human personâ€™s masculinity andfemininity are tacitly confirmed.â€
In the first statement, Benedict acknowledged that marriageis a â€œjudicially orderedâ€ civilinstitution. Civil judiciaries all over the world have ruled thatdiscrimination is illegal. The pope doesnâ€™t like that either. Heâ€™s stillfurious with Canada and Spain for legalizing same-sex marriage. Every so oftenBenedict fires off a tirade against the governments of both countries. In response,they have repeatedly told the pope to butt out of their civil affairs.
As for Benedictâ€™s other point, there are a significantnumber of same-sex couples worldwide ready, willing and able to enter into theâ€œbinding cohabitation of marriage.â€ Many of them are already rearing childrenor plan to do so. How sad the pope is intent on disenfranchising these couplesand their children who would benefit socially and economically from theirparentsâ€™ marriage being legally recognized.
Benedictâ€™s second statement really made no sense at all. Heclaimed that recognizing same-sex civil unions would â€œdeny any relevance to thehuman personâ€™s masculinity and femininity.â€
How would recognizing same-sex civil unions affect otherpeopleâ€™s â€œmasculinity and femininityâ€? Does the pope think recognizing same-sexcivil unions would cause all heterosexual men and women to view theirmasculinity or femininity as irrelevant? Or is it more likely heâ€™s just playingon old stereotypes and prejudices in order to divide and conquer?
In a truly stunning display of Machiavellian hypocrisy, twodays later, in his ChristmasEve speech, the pope urged all people to strive to â€œovercome preconceivedideas and prejudices, tear down barriers and eliminate contrasts that divide --or worse -- set individuals and peoples against each other, so as to buildtogether a world of justice and peace.â€
Benedict and his theopolitical â€œchurchâ€ are in the forefrontof advocating prejudice against gay people and erecting barriers to keep them,their committed unions and families marginalized. In relation to gay people andtheir struggle for civil rights, the Catholic Church has consistently sought to â€œset individuals and peoples against eachother.â€ And the Church has neversought to work with gay men and women â€œto build together a world of justice andpeace.â€
So as Christians celebrate the Christmas seasonâ€™s message ofpeace on earth and good will toward all, George â€œweâ€™re going to winâ€ Bush looksfor new ways to send more young men and women into a bloody, no-win war,presidential wannabe Sam Brownback brags about his bigotry, and Pope Benedictoffers anything but good will toward all by proposing new â€œreasonsâ€ to deny somepeople civil equality. Makes you wonder, doesnâ€™t it?