Former South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford must appear in court two days after running for a vacant congressional seat to answer a complaint that he trespassed at his ex-wife’s home, according to court documents acquired by The Associated Press on Tuesday. > more ... (0 comments)
Paul devoted almost none of his speech Wednesday at the historically black college in Washington, D.C., to explaining the GOP’s thorny relationship with black voters over the last fifty years, and most of it arguing that “the Republican Party has always been the party of civil rights and voting rights.” His history lecture focused almost entirely on the period before 1964, when the GOP began to champion the states rights arguments of southern whites. Echoing apopular conservative talking point, Paul repeatedly reminded the audience that Democrats passed Jim Crow laws in the south and that Abraham Lincoln was a Republican, as were the first black legislators and the founders of the NAACP.
The talking point here is popular, however, it’s asinine as well. Somewhere along the line, Republicans who like to use it to excuse nearly a half-century of “benign neglect” of these issues forgot that it was a silly little propaganda line and started to think that it was actually something they could use to win arguments and persuade people. Michael Steele built his black outreach program around it. Bruce Bartlett even wrote a book about it, and he’s not an idiot! This is a problem because it isn’t very persuasive, especially not to present-day black people who are engaged enough in civic life to know what’s what, but it’s also dubious to anyone with a sense of history. Yes, Lincoln was a Republican, and so was Grant. Both had pretty good records on this stuff. Then came about six decades of mostly GOP governance in which nothing was done. And nothing much was done during the New Deal/Eisenhower era either. There is something of a myth that the GOP was pro-civil rights during this era, but it wasn’t really the case. Some individuals and groups were–the great Earl Warren, some Senators like Jake Javits and Margaret Chase Smith, and actually a fair number of Eisenhower staffers like Sherman Adams, Ike’s Chief of Staff, and Attorney General Herb Brownell, who together pushed Eisenhower to get serious about the issue despite his palpable lack of enthusiasm toward it. For the most part, though, Republicans of the time represented Midwest and Interior West states that had few black people in them, didn’t care much about the issue, and didn’t want to jeopardize their alliance with Southern Democrats over it. See Caro’s third LBJ book for more on this. Eventually, Republicans came around for political reasons, when they realized that Adlai Stevenson’s ties to Southern Democrats eroded black support for Democrats and saw an in to grabbing that support. Richard Nixon’s support for civil rights was entirely opportunistic, and it was discarded once going the other way was better politics. In any event, Warren, Javits, Smith, Adams, Brownell and all the rest of them were all stereotypical RINOs who would have been drummed out of the party sometime in the 1990s if they were our contemporaries.
Anyway, you know all this. But every once in a while someone talks about how Republicans will eventually flip on marriage equality and start to talk about gay rights as if they’ve always been for them, which doesn’t quite seem right to me. Republicans have, at various points, strongly supported civil rights as a party. Those points have happened to come at high points for the popularity of civil rights as an issue, so to the average person who is disposed to vote Republican, that record seems just about right–doing the important things, while avoiding the “excesses” like affirmative action and reparations and so on. This is why they’re able to get away with it. But Republicans have never been in favor of gay rights. There’s no real ambiguity there. The only thing I can possibly think of is that Reagan opposed the ballot proposition to forbid LGBT from becoming schoolteachers in 1978, but that’s awful thin, and Reagan’s own record is hardly positive in this area. You can’t posit Reagan as a hero of gay rights with that whole “not doing anything about AIDS” record. I guess you can add in Barry Goldwater’s support for LGBT to serve in the military, but Jesse Helms more than compensates for that. There’s no counternarrative to build here, really, and although there is some chunk of the GOP that supports civil marriage, the average person who is disposed to vote for the GOP thinks the party’s record on this stuff is just about right. That is, that full-scale opposition to marriage equality is the right thing in their opinion. The fact is that nearly all Senate Republicans voted for the 1964 CRA, and nearly all Senate Republicans voted for a Constitutional Amendment to ban same-sex marriage in 2004. People who came of age during these times will always have “antigay” as a first impression of the GOP, and it will actually take hard work to reverse that.
Self-identified gay users were unlikely to spend the time liking obviously gay-friendly groups like the No H8 Campaign, so the authors had to sharpen their predictions using things such as Wicked The Musical, Britney Spears, and Desperate Housewives.At least Cher and Madonna didn’t make the top three this year.
The derogatory comments I made yesterday were a reflection of thoughts in my head, but they are not how I feel.
[A proposed Tennessee law] includes a provision requiring teachers or counselors to inform the parents of some students who identify themselves as LGBT.Seriously. This is what they spend their inbred little minds’ time obsessing about… Heartless fuckheads.
Sully posits that The Gay eventually gives one a more acute ability to see through façades and bullshit:
Daniel Mendelsohn reflects on the way being gay, with its frequent “knowingness and irony and the sense of access to special codes and secret knowledge,” has impacted his sensibility as a critic…
As Daniel notes, when you know you are different, especially in your teens, you keep very careful tabs on what is regarded as “normal.” You become obsessed with giving nothing away. You have to develop much sharper skills of human observation, and learn how to mimic what comes easily to others.
In a follow-up, he posted a reader comment that pretty much sums up how my gayness led to me becoming so good at spotting bullshit. Most importantly, the reader also points out what a double-edged sword this “talent” can be:
[Your post] is totally true. My friends in high school would always ask me to mimic other people because I was so freakishly observant.
But as I’ve gotten older I’ve found it’s become a problem. Always watching everything from the outside and picking it apart results in me being very self conscious in social situations, like I’m always assuming everyone is doing that to me. At a recent wedding, for example, I was deeply terrified to give a best man speech even though I’m an actor and have performed on stage countless times. It’s not just shyness; it’s more a hyper-awareness of how each person in a room is gonna perceive me. I wish I could just turn that off.
For those who like totally obscure literary references, this phenomenon is roughly equivalent to seeing the fanciful fnord.
Fnord is the typographic representation of disinformation or irrelevant information intending to misdirect… Under the Illuminati program, children in grade school are taught to be unable to consciously see the word “fnord”. For the rest of their lives, every appearance of the word subconsciously generates a feeling of uneasiness and confusion, and prevents rational consideration of the subject.. fnord is not the actual word used for this task, but merely a substitute, since most readers would be unable to see the actual word…
To see the fnords means to be unaffected by the supposed hypnotic power of the word or, more loosely, of other fighting words. A more common expression of the concept would be “to read between the lines.” The term may also be used to refer to the experience of becoming aware of a phenomenon’s ubiquity after first observing it.
I must admit that the idea that Barack Obama is our first gay president (or, more accurately, the “first gay president,” as without the quotes it’s tabloid fodder) is somewhat bizarre to me. Yes, I know it’s a riff on the idea that Bill Clinton was called the “first black president,” but that made sense because it captured something about Clinton, namely that Clinton was comfortably multicultural in terms of his personality that was genuinely unusual in a president at that time. Clinton was technically just as white as, I don’t know, Dwight Eisenhower, but Ike didn’t socialize with black people, didn’t listen to their music, and didn’t make an effort to understand them. Clinton demonstrably did all these things, and his personality reflected it, so the term is somewhat illuminating. Setting aside the little fact that we’ve almost certainly already had a gay president (and probably more than one, if you do the math), I’m not quite sure what to make of applying the label to Obama. For one thing, I’m not wild about connoting Obama with a closeted, secret identity, which is essentially what the right always accuses him of (even if the intent here is hardly negative). But more importantly, while there are some groups of gay men that have group identities I’ve never really thought there was a single gay identity, just gay people, most of whom just live normal lives indistinguishable from straights like me, aside from in their choice of romantic partners. If you think the same way, then a gay president is a completely jejune concept.* And it’s true that Obama has a pretty great record on gay rights, but that doesn’t go to identity. Was Lyndon Johnson our first black president? By this logic he’d have to be, even though that’s a pretty laughable idea.
Also, I just find these sorts of distinctions passe. Who cares? Obama winning the election was historic, but his race hasn’t had any impact on how he would govern that I can tell, compared to Biden or Clinton or anyone else. I’ve heard people argue that his complex racial identity makes him more receptive to compromise and conciliation, but that’s highly speculative. Democrats just tend to want to meet Republicans halfway all the time anyway, no matter what the issue is. The notion that having a president of color would change politics was a complete flop, just as having an out gay president undoubtedly would be (and we will eventually have one, I’m quite sure). The past few years have made me jaded to such distinctions. I don’t really care about identity anymore, let’s just see how they govern.
*Admittedly, there is no single black identity, or Irish identity, or evangelical Christian identity either. These groups all have common histories and culture, but there are large breaks in all these communities, and certainly you’ll always find individuals that buck the trends.
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