Thursday, September 23, 2010

Liberty, and Part of the Pursuit, Too

Pardon me, for I had to wait a day to digest and not allow this post to be polluted by premature epitaphs, vitriolic profanity, and haughty commentary. However, that is not a caveat to prevent any of the aforementioned. For it will, perhaps, be more stinging and not so hysterical. Or, maybe even more hysterical.

The military’s Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy is blatantly discriminatory. Barbara Boxer, the junior Senator from California, rightly compared this country’s bigotry with Iran, Pakistan, Venezuela, and North Korea. What an atrocity. While the Bronx and Boston happily takes free oil from Venezuela and for years our government has propped up a corrupt Pakistani regime, to pair our great nation with such a demonized group really carries heft.

More than 13,000 of our bravest and boldest have been discharged under the policy. Many of whom were specialists in their fields, including fluency in Arabic. This policy was on the verge of being overturned, and President Obama has made clear that this policy is a mistake of the past.

That mission failed, and did so in a disgustingly anti-climatic, modernly typical fashion.

The greatest, most deliberative chamber in the world is an embarrassment. The United States Senate has failed to achieve its most basic of tasks, and while doing so, has driven the very people it represents into an unyielding abyss of discrimination, immaturity, and recklessness. This should come as no surprise to those who have followed the chamber’s spineless actions for the past decade or so.

Though it has been two long years since the horrific and ignorant George W. Bush departed from the great House that is White, and seventeen years since the triangular William Jefferson Clinton signed the law we protest today, their actions and personas continue to wreck havoc on the institution that is supposed to be a check in their balance. As expected, their policies continue to help and indeed strain a nation that is itching to stretch and grow. One enacted, the other proudly executed, even while at war.

For the US Senate to fail this bill on a procedural vote is insolent. A single senator (John McCain, R-AZ) in the minority filibustered the Defense Spending bill, thus preventing it from even coming to the floor. The bill included pay raises for our troops, benefits for veterans, a repeal of the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy, and give legal residency to young immigrants who serve two years in the military or spend two years in college (the DREAM Act). This was clearly no small bill, both in dollar and in action. The vote was 56-43—and it failed. Odd, I agree. But debate could not commence because 60 votes are required to enact cloture, the quick end to debate (but not one about the bill being prevented from debate); one of the many marvelously arcane rules of the Senate. Today’s Senators don’t even have to actually filibuster: that is, to hijack debate and prevent discussion on the topic at hand by speaking for hours on end. They just invoke, and boom—the body is stalled.

This piece, “A Filibuster Fix,” by Norman Ornsten, explains the history of the tool and what needs to happen to it for the Senate to continue existing in a productive manner. A must read for Senate enthusiasts.

Now if I may: the sole 1 of 100 undeniably responsible for this sordid and absurdly childish act was the GOP’s former front man: the once great John McCain. Oh, what a Maverick! A man who once defended principle over party and logic over idealism is now pussy-whipped by Sarah Palin and seduced by Glenn Beck (ignoring of course, the litany of decorated generals who support repealing the law). There once was a Senator from Arizona who could have been president. Now, the senior Senator from Arizona has embraced extremism, cuddled up to the American fundamentalists, and sucks the cock of the Ronald Regan he envisions. To see someone formerly valiant and respected pivot so vividly is appalling. Gays can flip-flop; for elected officials, it’s not good business.

I’m angry. Can you tell?

Then of course, there is Democrat Blanche Lincoln and her fellow AK partner in crime, Mark Pryor, also a supposed Democrat. Both cowards. I wonder if it’s coincidence that the very President who signed this bigoted law into action is from the same state. I guess there must be something in the water, or maybe the corn.

But then again, the president of the successful, peaceful, and surplus-filled 90’s now stands for marriage equality and regrets DADT.

I’ll admit there are a few Republicans I still respect, though that number continues to dwindle. And I even have to give traitor Joe Lieberman a nob for his stance on this issue. There are Susan Collins and Olymipa Snowe of Maine, at times Judd Gregg of NH, and even Scott Brown has taken the typical Northeastern Republican route of socially liberal while being fiscally inconsiderate. But no more. Susan Collins, who spoke in favor of repealing DADT, voted against this bill because she wanted more amendments from Republicans to be entertained. Well guess what: Republicans are in the minority for a reason. A decade ago, Republican leadership squandered a surplus and ignored the need for infrastructure investment. Considering the destruction they’ve created in the past several decades—detrimental trickle down economic policies that spoon feed the rich with exorbitant tax cuts, fueling corporations while raping the middle class and small businesses (yes, I said raping), and running this nation to war without a means to pay for it—time has come for them to be ignored and be told to STAND DOWN. Especially when it comes to policies that involve civil rights. Why I bet if gays loved guns, there would be no problem with their rights at all.

We are living in a time where borders barely matter. Visibility is a curse for bigotry and we see that all over the world, east to west: from stonings in Iran to indoctrinated homophobia in America. Right now in New York, the world has descended on the UN and you can see firsthand the protest of counties that have ignorant and discriminatory policies. It’s sad when we’re one of them, too.

During the Holocaust, gays were burned alongside Jews and gypsies in countries like Germany and Poland. The United States, while driven into war because of attack on her homeland, stood up against genocide and discrimination. Now, counties that were ruled by one of the world’s most ghastly leaders, countries where homosexuals were discriminated against in the streets and in constitutions, allow gays to serve openly in their military. But here, where our force is voluntary, we say “go away.”

History is our most brilliant judge. As frustrating as it may be to wait and fight for equality on all fronts—gays, women, immigration—we must never forget the very simple premise of our Country’s existence: not just that all are created equal, but that we, the people of this utterly fabulous nation, have the right to Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit to Happiness.

Nowhere else in the world can such words be so used and so abused. What are they waiting for?

Thursday, May 6, 2010

We're Fine

Dear Non-New York City Resident:

We’re fine. Stop asking how things are in the City. Our resilience is far stronger than the typical American. If it weren’t, this country would have floundered long, long ago. While I recognize that the
failed bombing in Times Square may have shaken a few, why would that change how we live each day after? As only the BBC seems to point out, “The Show Must Go On.”

I wildly disagree with the first woman quoted in the BBC article who was afraid to leave her apartment and is avoiding Times Square. How childish and ignorant. To be so afraid as to not leave your apartment is a bit extreme. Maybe she’s willing to fast and stall the micro-economy that revolves around her. If that’s the case, leave the City and enjoy the suburbs. Buy a nice little SUV and drive to work each day, alone, along with the rest of the gas-guzzling greedy whores that clog our highways, pollute our earth, and take what this city is and does for granted.

If New Yorkers were too afraid to leave their apartments, the country would be paralyzed, as it was shortly after 9/11. Granted, that was a far different situation (though isn’t it funny: We know the name of the man who took down the Twin Towers but haven’t caught him in 9 years; and here, in only two days, we’ve arrested three people—two of them in
Pakistan). Perhaps I’m being a bit extreme. Or am I?

We make a choice to live in this bustling concrete wonder, just like my friends in San Francisco choose to live in a city that could crumble into the Pacific at any time. And let’s not forget the Big Easy: that sultry southern spotlight below sea level that is again being threatened because of
human ineptitude. It is seemingly more and more the American way. Stay selfishly safe, clean, and green, but feel free to fuck everything else around you up. And as long as you check in and ask how everything is, it’ll be just fine. Thing is, it really doesn’t work that way when you’re stacked atop each other.

Frankly, I’m more concerned about rising sea levels and drastic changes in weather affecting New York. (I’m not sure what I’d do if the subway tunnels turned into rivers!) We long ago destroyed our first line of defense, just like the oil companies did in Louisiana: wetlands. Long Island and its thousands of miles of impermeable surfaces and energy hungry mansions obliterated nature’s wall. So really, I guess I’m happy to live where I live in the city. Though it’s in the Harlem valley, at least I’ve got mighty heighty Morningside to the west. Ha!

If we spent each day worrying sick about when the next attack would happen, the city would be silenced.

My god how boring that would be.

All the best,