Friday, May 15, 2009

But This Is Different...

There's been liberal handwringing at the President's refusal to intervene in the case of Lt. Dan Choi, a West Point-educated Officer (this seems to be important, it comes up in everything - like he wouldn't matter if he was a grunt who came through community college?) who is an Arabic language specialist who came out on the Rachel Maddow show a few weeks ago, and has been fired by the U.S. military. Jon Stewart's mini-takedown is below and, while I agree with his anger, I don't think the presentation (from the media in general) is entirely fair.

One thing I will say first: I think the Obama Administration is going about this wrong, I think they should be absolutely pushing for legislation to overturn Don't Ask, Don't Tell. And perhaps, as Feministing says, he could suspend investigations into sexuality (although that wouldn't have helped Choi, who came out on television -harder to ignore, perhaps). But my point is that in one sense Obama's right that it is not his place to do this - because it needs legislation. It's a LAW. It's not some stupid Executive Order (unlike those ridiculous healthcare provider conscience things that Bushy Boy pushed through and Obama revoked), it's a law that was passed by both chambers and signed by the President. The President, as we've heard everyone (rightly) argue about the torture laws, does not get to pick and choose which laws to obey. He doesn't get to write an Executive Order and somehow, magically, it's not the law anymore. He does need to stick his boot up the arses of Congress to work on this. No doubt. But he has a constitutional mandate to execute and take care the laws are obeyed.

Yes, this is awful and it's an absolutely ridiculous, damaging, dangerous and unsafe law, but when Bushy Boy and Cheney et al. were violating and ordering violations of the laws of war, of the UCMJ, of the Convention Against Torture, this was thrown against them constantly - you can't disobey the law. To willfully misquote Lincoln, it's not all the laws but one. Now that the disobedience is something liberals want, Obama is supposed to disobey separation of powers? I thought he won, at least in part, because he represented a return to order and to respectful adherence to the Constitution and the structural balancing of powers.

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To repeat, again, he needs to throw his weight behind repeal of this. Their inaction is a disgrace. But make sure when you criticise him, it's for the right reasons.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

The Consolations of...

... well, if not philosophy, then stuff, I suppose. It's been a stressful couple of months, which culminated in an extremely busy and miserable week last week, in which various technological issues (ahem, like losing pieces of equipment, ahem) came to a head, I found someone had got my financial details and had taken $1000 from my account, that sort of thing. The last couple of days, however, have been much better, for various reasons. I had ceased doing the things that make me, if not completely better, less stressed. Therefore, I am compiling my list of things that make me feel better, without doubt:
  1. The Daily Show. Watching it makes me giggle so much, and it's nice that someone else shares my liberal outrage.
  2. The Friendly Fires album. I play it over, and over, and over. This includes the glorious Au Revoir Simone version by Aeroplane, too.
  3. Chime by Orbital. It is impossible for me to be in a bad mood when this plays. I should just have it on repeat at the mo.
  4. Playing squash. God, it's good to do that, even if I get utterly thumped and can barely walk the next day (which is currently the case). Exercise, people. There's always time for it. Always.
  5. Crosswords & sudoku. My brain needs to feel like it's competent at something, even if that thing is not work...
Of course, the thing that helps most is sitting on the sofa with TOH and the cats at the end of the day and having a hug and falling asleep during a detective programme, preferably Bones (at the mo, at least). But these five will help, for now, so need to make sure they're part of my everyday life.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

The State of the Union

I have become increasingly persuaded that opposition to gay marriage is not just about homophobia. I say this not to belittle the persecution, threats, and general horrors perpetrated by those opposed to gay marriage - those are awful and it makes me sick to my stomach.

But I do think the gay marriage opposition is about what gayness means in general: redefined boundaries of what it means to be a man, and what it means to be a woman. This post at Pandagon adds more fuel to that fire, despite being ostensibly about some Georgia preacher who thinks women should, essentially, stop talking back to their menfolk and learn their role in life - submission. One of the cliched things you hear from those opposed to women's rights is that a man should be able to get peace and quiet, and even if he's not boss at work, he should be boss in his own home - he's the husband, the father, and the head of the house. But how does that work when you have two husbands? Who is the boss then? Likewise, the Quiverfull movement - a disgusting piece of ideology if ever there was one - teaches women to be, essentially, brood mares to their husband's tribe, submissive in all things. "Father knows best" is one of the tenets it teaches, but of course, if you have two mummies, there is no father - so where does that leave discipline and order? Who is going to tell these women how to live their lives if there's no man?

So it's not just about being gay, it's about how gay relationships redefine societal roles, and the traditional submission of women to men. And so gay marriage does threaten people.

It's interesting, around the time of the elections, there was a series of ads - sadly, too little, too late - in California which had straight married couples revealing the shocking news that their marriages were not directly impacted by gay marriage being legal; they were still married, still in love, still happy. The sky had not fallen. But I actually don't buy the argument that gay marriage doesn't affect straight marriages. If gay couples can get married for the tax benefits, or immigration benefits, or "for the children," that does make straight marriages less "special," because now these things are open to everyone, not just the people fortunate enough to fall in love with someone who has "opposite" genitals (to misquote Miss California). Yet it makes straight marriages much, much, more special, because now everyone who loves each other can do so. The privilege is revoked, but the fact that you love someone and they love you, and the state and your friends and family can all recognise that - that is special.

Friday, May 08, 2009

Begone Dull Care

Work has been, frankly, horrible of late in terms of hours. I have friends who are much worse off, it must be said, and yes, I'm grateful for the job and being busy, blah blah blah.

When I did not feel grateful: Last night, when I could have been happily bopping away at the Junior Boys concert.* So doing a randomgenerator based on the song of theirs I fell in love with first, In the Morning.
  1. Someone Great - LCD Soundsystem. Genius.
  2. Fancy Footwork - Chromeo. I know they're well dodgy in terms of lyrics, but I just love Chromeo.
  3. Destroy Everything You Can - Ladytron. I always think I should like Ladytron and never really get overexcited about them. This comes from a friend's compilation, and I think I will try. I like this.
  4. Over and Over (Maurice Fulton Remix) - Hot Chip. I just can't take to them. Tune underlying = great, often, but his voice is just so frigging annoying. This, however, is excellent because his voice is barely on it, it emphasizes the sweet bassline, and it's on the rather fabulous Spank Rock's Fabric Live, which I love.
  5. Don't Stop - Brazilian Girls. We saw them in concert last year, which was a bit of an odd experience. They were very dreamy and soft, and then the tempo increased at the end, but by then we weren't really that engaged. But since then, I've enjoyed their music a lot more.
  6. Waters of Nazereth - Justice. I somehow didn't get my act together to see them. I regret this, particularly as they are, apparently, ludicrously hot.
  7. Earth Intruders - Bjork. Bjollocks has grown on me, it has to be said. I loved the Sugarcubes, loved her first album, then Oh So Quiet drove me mad and I lost interest. Now I think that her albums provide some of the best working music - phenomenal instrumentals, and I think Volta is one of the best she's made.
  8. Hustler - Simian Mobile Disco. Again from the Spank Rock Fabric Live. Awesome. I love that whole album anyway.
  9. Cherry Blossom Girl - Air. Not one of my favourites of theirs, it must be said. Irritating.
  10. Flip Ya Lid - Nightmares on Wax. Nightmares on Wax are responsible for two of my favourite albums of the last 15 years - Carboot Soul and Smokers Delight (despite the lack of punctuation). Their later stuff is nowhere near as good, but still, more listenable than Hot Chip, so there you go.
* Except, it turns out, no I couldn't - their equipment broke and they didn't even make it through three songs... silver linings and all that. Except my friend was, with some luck, going to get me on the guestlist for Franz Ferdinand, so I did also miss that...