Friday, November 28, 2003

Speak Now or Forever...

I'm not sure how I feel about same-sex marriage. Certainly promoting stable, long-term relationships is good for individuals, children and society. However, there has never been a society that recognized anything but male-female unions.

Generally, Americans have tremendous freedom to act as they please, so long as those actions do not interfere with the rights of others. By this standard there should be no question to the legitimacy of homosexual unions.

But the question isn't the legitimacy of personal relationships. It is a question of sanctioning by the State and thereby, recognition and endorsement by society of said nuptials. With this there comes the issue of equal legal standing with regards to adoption. Should same-sex couples be considered equal to opposite sex couples with regards to the adoption of new-borns? There is also the religious factor. I am not so filled with hubris that I'm willing to ignore 3,000 years of collective wisdom.

Not so some of our judges: "Certainly our decision today marks a significant change in the definition of marriage as has been inherited from the common law and understood by societies for centuries" wrote Chief Justice Margaret Marshall in the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court opinion finding a constitutional right to same-sex marriage.

Not only did these four unelected judges reinterpret the Constitution, thereby amending it - they saw it within their power to redefine marriage as "understood by societies for centuries". These ordinary people simply decided to redefine marriage for the rest of us by a vote of 4-3.

It is vital to understand the judges were forced to change the very meaning of the word "marriage" to justify the decision. Homosexuals are not banned by law from marrying in the traditional sense of the word. Gays, like heterosexuals were only banned from marrying someone of the same sex.

Gays and heterosexuals are also banned from marrying siblings, parents, minors, multiple partners and their pets. When four judges detect a new "evolving" standard these will be discarded as well. This is significant. Although this decision says nothing of any of the aforementioned scenarios, and proponents regulary dismiss such extrapolation out of hand, the reality is it only takes 4 judges and anything is possible.

Our laws should be reflective of society's changing standards, values, traditions and customs. Undoubtedly, society's views of homosexuality are changing and quite dramatically. Are not these changing attitudes more honestly and efficiently reflected in our laws through hundreds or even thousands of duly elected representatives?

And what were the people of Massachusetts saying prior to this decision? The same thing as the people of Hawaii and Alaska, when courts there tried to impose same-sex marriage on them. The Massachusetts Supreme Court overturned state law defining marriage as "the voluntary union of a man and women to the exclusion of others". The citizens of Alaska and Hawaii subsequently amended their Constitution the old fashioned way - through prescribed legal processes as opposed to judicial fiat - in order to preserve its obvious original meaning . Massachusetts does not have this option, thanks to the time frame mandated by the court. The super-majority needed for such a change makes such an endeavor difficult in this more liberal state.

Any "states rights" argument only serves to emphasize how sweeping a decision this is. The U.S. Constitution requires states to give "full faith and credit" to the "public acts, records, and judicial proceedings of every other state". Activists will demand that other states immediately recognize Massachusetts marriages, thus redefining marriage for the entire country.

Whatever the outcome of this battle in the culture war, one thing is for certain - we are in for another nasty and divisive episode in American history.

It didn't have to happen this way.

At the time of Roe v. Wade, the majority of the country already lived in "pro-choice" states. By the time the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Lawrence v. Texas, there were few laws prohibiting sodomy and virtually none were enforced. This proves that changing social values are reflected at the ballot box. The question isn't if you agree with gay marriage or abortion rights, but who gets to determine how we govern ourselves in this democracy.

"By foreclosing all democratic outlet for the deep passions this issue arouses, by banishing the issue from the political forum that gives all participants, even the losers, the satisfaction of fair hearing and an honest fight, by continuing the imposition of a rigid national rule instead of allowing for regional differences, the Court merely prolongs and intensifies the anguish" - Anthony Scalia (Planned Parenthood vs. Casey)

This short-circuiting of democratic processes leaves no room for concession or compromise. This is exactly what happened with abortion and explains why we have the Supreme Court ruling on the constitutionality of comparatively minor details like parental consent, 24 hour waiting periods and even partial birth abortion. It also gave birth to the first "litmus test" issue for judges in our history.

This is a battle that could have been much more civilized with reasoned debate from both sides trying to sway the electorate. Gay activists would have been given a unique opportunity to discuss the benefits to society of promoting long-term and committed same-sex relationships. This singular issue would have helped humanize homosexuals like no other to vast numbers of people who sorely need it.

Instead, we're going to court.

Monday, November 17, 2003

Osama & Saddam

Its interesting to see the investment those against the Iraq war have in proselytizing the belief that Saddam had no involvement in the September 11th attacks.

This was exposed several months ago after a poll was published showing that a majority of Americans believed that Saddam was "in some way responsible" for the 3,000 dead Americans in New York.

There was a spasm of media interest in the poll, all attempting to reverse this thinking. Those that hoped no relationship come to light, including most of the media, probably convinced themselves that they were "educating" the public by repeating the no-Saddam connection line. Columnists, commentators, analysts and other pundits angrily denounced the poll results, each taking care to mention there was no proof.

At this time, there is no concrete evidence that Saddam had anything to do with 9/11. However, evidence continues to be uncovered showing Osama and Saddam did have a working relationship.

The breath of coverage and the emotions of reporting the poll reveal how important this issue is to the anti-war media and anti-war activists. The issue of Saddam's involvement even turned up in a "study" by the University of Maryland as one of the questions used to try and paint Fox News viewers as being "misinformed".

The fact that a university would perform such a biased study (every question favored an anti-war pre-disposition) combined with the fact that the media would report such a work, further illustrates the significance of debunking any Saddam connection to al Qaeda.

Ironically, whether or not Saddam had anything to do with 9/11 was always inconsequential to those who supported removing the tyrant. Don't get me wrong, it would prove sweet justice had he been involved, now that the Baathists are scurrying for cover instead of running the country. A smoking gun was simply unnecessary to justify removing the Butcher of Baghdad from power. It would just be a bonus.

What is interesting is seeing how important there be no talk of any Saddam - al Qaeda connection for those who did not support U.S. efforts.

At first, they repeatedly stated the two were mortal enemies - one a secular dictator, the other a radical fundamentalist. Notwithstanding that history is rife with such partnerships, along with the inconvenience that alliances against a common enemy are completely inline with Islamic teachings - "they would never work together". Of course Saddam was an open financial supporter of Hezbollah and last I checked they're Muslim and fundamentalist and radical.

As evidence mounts that the two did indeed have contact with each other the argument is beginning to shift. "Well, there's still no proof of direct Iraqi involvement in 9/11".

This has taken a more dramatic turn:

OSAMA BIN LADEN and Saddam Hussein had an operational relationship from the early 1990s to 2003 that involved training in explosives and weapons of mass destruction, logistical support for terrorist attacks, al Qaeda training camps and safe haven in Iraq, and Iraqi financial support for al Qaeda--perhaps even for Mohamed Atta--according to a top secret U.S. government memorandum obtained by THE WEEKLY STANDARD.

It will be interesting to see how the mainstream media, who trumpeted the "no relationship" angle will report this development. The story will likely be ignored or die a quick death. If it does develop legs, we will undoubtedly be bombarded with the fact that there still is no direct evidence linking Saddam to 9/11.

Of course, nothing short of a video tape of Osama and Saddam planning the operation would satisfy the "peace" crowd. To be honest, even a video would not suffice. They would simply move the bar again. For most, even that fact will not be sufficient to change their minds and admit Bush was right.

My question is this: Since any Iraqi - al Qaeda connection is and was inconsequential to the pro-war camp position on removing Saddam, why is it so important for the anti-warriors to deny it?

Part of the answer is those that opposed the removal of Saddam largely ignored the reasons for doing so. They don't realize this was a non-issue in the pre-war argument of going to war in Iraq.

More importantly - think how devastating this will be to the anti-war crowd if such a link can be proven. The more the public learns of Saddam's links to al Qaeda the more difficult to ignore the possibility of Saddam's involvement in 9/11. Even the perception is powerful and compelling. 9/11 is not the anti-war crowd's favorite topic.

Which is precisely why the anti-war crowd must suppress or deny not only Saddam's 9/11 ties, but any al Qaeda link, as well. No matter where the truth rests, it is crucial to their cause that the public not believe in any Saddam and Osama cooperation. At this point, many of them must undoubtedly convince themselves.

Which begs question - what exactly is their cause again?

Wednesday, November 12, 2003

Bad Air Day

Yesterday was not a banner day for the media. AP ran an article chronicling Islamic terrorism over the past few years and omitted any acts by Palestinians against Israelis. The BBC's Middle East reporting was so biased (they are pro-terror) that it was forced to hire a "Middle East Policeman" to serve as the grown up in the room. A writer for the SF Chronicle was forced to make a mea culpa. He had accused the Bush administration of covering up deaths in Iraq because you never hear reports of soldiers dying later from their wounds. His scoop was foiled when it turns out nearly all survive due to wonderful and heroic medical attention. More Al Jazeera reporters were arrested today after being linked with al Qaeda. Not bad for one 24 hour news cycle.

Actually, its been a tough year for the mainstream media. Any one remember the lengths CNN went through to keep their Baghdad bureau open? Think the same thing just might be happening in Havana? Reuters still doesn't use the word "terrorist" to describe... terrorists. An internal memo proclaimed "one man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter". How about the BBC's "sexed up" story about "sexed up" British intelligence? Jason Blair?

Not too long ago these stories would have quickly died provided they ever saw the light of day in the first place. Instead, we saw the resignation of the Editor of the NY Times and Blair government largely absolved in London with blame pinned squarely on the BBC. The difference today is the rise of the internet, talk radio and cable television.

Self-criticism and self-examination seems to be the last thing mainstream investigative journalists investigate. Think about it - have you ever read a newspaper article critical of another newspaper? The print media reviews film and television entertainment - ever read a review of Network news? Ever heard ABC, NBC or CBS do a negative report on the print media? Of course not because they all think the same.

Most people can honestly admit that the San Francisco Chronicle is a liberal rag. Fewer realize that the rest of the mainstream media is editorially indistinguishable from the Chron. On issue after issue ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN, Reuters, AP, NY Times, Boston Globe, Sacramento Bee, Chicago Tribune, L.A. Times, Washington Post, San Diego Tribune, Miami Herald, Seattle Times, Dallas/Ft Worth Star, St. Louis Dispatch and the Berkeley Reporter are identical.

Issue after issue? How about: Death penalty, abortion, racial preferences, gay rights, taxes, immigration, Iraqi war, education, international relations, law, religion and the environment. Minor details.

Most people don't realize that in much of Europe the press is openly biased. In England, the Telegraph is conservative, the Mirror is liberal. France's Le Monde is left, Le Figaro is right. The readers understand they are receiving opinion in their news and form their own opinions accordingly.

But in America, the media thinks they are "objective". Most people don't realize what they are receiving has been put through at least two filters. One filter picks what is "news" and what is not and the next filter is how to present what they themselves have already chosen to report. With these realities, impartiality is not possible from any perspective.

That claim of objectivity is the most misleading of all.

Saturday, November 08, 2003


A Seismic shift was revealed yesterday. CBS will not broadcast "The Reagan's". This would not have happened even a few years ago. The difference is the "new media" - the internet, cable television and talk radio.

In what was truly a grass roots effort to stave off a brutal and partisan smearing, the "Old Media" backed down. This is the type of populist uprising against powerful institutional forces that should have made hippies proud. Except it is conservatives who are now the counter-culture when it comes to mass media.

There are those who are screaming "censorship", but they do not know what censorship is. No government agency was involved in CBS wavering. It was a business decision. Airing the final product would have tarnished the CBS brand, even if it garnered huge ratings.

The difference between "The Reagan's" and other controversial projects that did air was best summed up by a CBS executive "with the others, we felt that the audience reaction would redeem our decision. After viewing the film it was clear that wasn't the case here". Even the president of CBS said "its biased".

As president, Ronald Reagan dared say what everyone knew, but were afraid to say when he called the Soviet Union an "Evil Empire". As president he said what no one else was saying when he predicted that communism was destined for the "ash heap of history". As president he pointed out the elephant in the room - "Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!". He had an unshakable confidence in America and Americans at a time when many were starting to doubt. There are people who despise him for this.

Matt Drudge, who is a leader in both the internet and talk radio had been warning of the coming hit job for months. Not only were Nancy and Ron being portrayed by well known liberal activists, the producers were well known liberal activists. The final cut did not disappoint.

Any "artist interpretation" arguments are forfeited because this movie was intentionally vindictive (in a creepy romantic scene, they have Ron referring to Nancy as "Mommy", for Christ's sake).

CBS deserves credit for doing the right thing, regardless of the reasons they state publicly.

What will be interesting is if CBS owned Showtime broadcasts "The Reagan's". It is difficult to tell who exactly is watching broadcast TV. There are only 5,000 metering boxes in the entire country.

Not so with pay TV. When the calls start coming in with individuals threatening to cancel their Showtime subscription, the executives are going to have a tough decision to make.

My prediction? It doesn't air. If it does it will be in syndication to independent broadcasters.

Its was a missed opportunity. With the nation at war and one of our most popular presidents slowly dying, a patriotic depiction of Ronald Reagan, explaining his greatness would have been good for the country and good business for CBS. They just couldn't help themselves.

Wednesday, November 05, 2003


Measure G passed. Measure G was a statement to declare Bolinas "a socially acknowledged nature-loving town because to like to drink the water out of the lakes and to like to eat the blueberries to like the bears is not hatred to hotels and motor boats. Dakar. Temporary and way to save skunks and foxes (airplanes to go over the ocean) and to make it beautiful".

Actually, I like it. I don't think it would be a great motto for Newport Beach, but for Bolinas its fine. Perfect, really.

Dakar is the nickname of the author, Jane Blethen who lived for awhile in the bushes of Bolinas, wears a burlap sack along with smeared chocolate on her face sprinkled with pepper.

The town eventually adopted her as a mascot. Someone gave her a room. Its this sense of community that impresses. From what I gather, outsiders aren't particularly welcome in the hamlet, however the treatment locals gave this stray is touching.

If I lived in Bolinas, I would have voted for it.