Thursday, January 22, 2004

ring in the nude deer

Some PC-bahng are open today, and it's once again cold enough to turn your crotch to stone, so I'm hunkered across the street from Korea University in this underground PC-bahng, clenching and unclenching my mental ass cheeks to squeeze out this steaming, kimchi-flecked mess of a toilet blog. Just for you.

It was a morning full of prostrations (saebae, the traditional Korean bow, with palms and forehead on the floor), and I netted a good deal of spending money... most of which I gave right back to #1 Adjoshi to help pay my rent. We also stuffed ourselves on the traditional meal featuring ddeok-guk-- a soup with a white broth (our #1 Adjumma likes to make the broth thick; other folks prefer their broth clear and thin), filled with chewy sliced rice cakes. Actually, it was ddeok-mandoo-guk-- same soup, plus Korean mandoo (sort of like Chinese potstickers or Japanese gyoza).

In the news and blogosphere...

The Maximum Leader offers pithy insights on frother Howard Dean, the SOTU, politics, a glimpse of the World Order he plans for us all, and a woman in a bikini who is quite obviously not fat. The ML has an interesting take on John Edwards:

While I joked a while ago that I thought that John Edwards would be out of politics soon, it looks like he will linger on for a while more. I still just don't think he has it in him to win the nomination. He is being too nice. Sooner or later he will have to get dirty. Politics is a very dirty business afterall. And while Senate races in North Carolina are not cakewalks, they are nothing like what will happen to you running for President. Overall, I think Edwards (while not getting the nomination) is the Dems' best candidate out there. He talks the talk, but hasn't been in politics long enough to know all his walks. I seem to remember reading somewhere that Karl Rove is most afraid of an Edwards campaign. (Tired to find the link, but couldn't dig it up...)

The ML might be interested to know that seems to be reading his mind. Here's a snippet from an article about Edwards's hidden negativity:

"The people of Iowa tonight confirmed that they believe in a positive, uplifting vision to change America," Edwards said to cheers.

But ABCNEWS has obtained an official "John Edwards for President" precinct captain packet that includes myriad personal attacks for Edwards caucus-goers to make against his Democratic opponents, perhaps belying this claim.

The document — marked "CONFIDENTIAL AND PRIVILEDGED" (sic) and "NOT FOR DISTRIBUTION" and signed by the senator — encourages Edwards supporters to tell undecided caucus-attendees that former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean is a "Park Avenue elitist from New York City" and say Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts has "the stale record of a Washington insider" and "has been a part of the failed Washington politics for too long."

The Edwards document also slams Sen. Joe Lieberman of Connecticut and retired Gen. Wesley Clark, who opted not to participate in the Iowa caucus, for trying to take "shortcuts to the nomination." The document adds: "Strong, national candidates do not skip states."

Rep. Dick Gephardt of Missouri is called "a good man" who led Congressional Democrats to lose control of the House of Representatives. "We can't afford another losing national campaign," the document says.

Other information in the packet slams Dean for balancing Vermont budgets "on the backs of the poor and sick," cites "another Kerry exaggeration," and goes after Clark for praising President Bush's "neo-conservative foreign policy team."

But maybe Edwards is (cough) innocent...?

"Senator Edwards was not aware of this document," Edwards' Communication Director David Ginsberg told ABCNEWS, adding. "Once he found out about it, he takes full responsibility for it. He thinks it was wrong and has instructed the staff not to do anything like that again."

Ginsberg also stressed that the part of the document that attacked his rivals "was a small piece of a 50-page caucus training memo including instructions on how caucuses work and the senator's policy proposals." Ginsberg denied any hypocrisy.

"This was a book prepared by the field staff to help them get through the caucus process," he said. "This was prepared for field staffers who had to defend themselves while the campaign was under a barrage of attacks, phone calls, and negative mail."

[QUICK LANGUAGE NOTE: You'll have remarked that I write "Edwards's" as the possessive, while the ABC article writes it as "Edwards'." This is simply a matter of which style manual we're following. During my time at Catholic U., we in the School of Religious Studies were required to write our papers according to Kate Turabian's style manual, which is largely based on the Chicago Manual of Style. If I'm not mistaken, Turabian says that, for prominent ancient figures whose names end in "s," such as Jesus and Moses, the genitive is indicated simply by adding an apostrophe-- "Jesus'," for example. But for modern names ending in "s," another "s" is added. If someone has a Turabian manual handy and wants to correct me on this, feel free, and I'll stop with the extra "s"es. It was, after all, my habit before attending CUA to form possessives in the ABCNews style.]

Annika's Journal, currently run by guest bloggers, finally posts on the SOTU.

San Mateo says no to norae-bahng (song rooms).

The Vulture is down on Bush. I don't agree that Bush and his Administration are Orwellian, and I think it's off-base to dismiss the American public as stupid, because with that attitude it's hard to maintain with any consistency that Clinton's two terms in office were justified. If he was elected by stupid people, and the people get what they deserve...

CalPundit is also down on Bush's "truth deficit."

Wesley Clark says: "It's an absurd issue, and it's one of the reasons I'm running." (via Drudge)

Peggy Noonan on the flap over whether the Pope actually gave an "It is as it was!" thumbs-up to Mel Gibson's "The Passion," a.k.a. "Jesus Christ: Beyond Thunderdome."

Winds of Change posts a cool joke about three samurai.

They've also got a link to some thoughts by Laughing Wolf on gay marriage. Choice Wolf laugh:

The old models of the creation of wealth and expansion of population no longer apply.

So, that also leaves us with the thorny issue of morality. Much of the indignation on the right deals with morality, since that is an easy hot-button emotional topic. Yet, this shows the major flaw in their campaign: morality is tied to religion. So, this begs the question of which morality and which religion will be honored? It also begs the question of which religions actually practice what they preach on this issue?

The heart of the Judeo-Christian doctrine on unions is that marriage is sacred, not to be set aside, and that they cleave only to one another. Divorce is a major no-no. Okay, so go take a look at the divorce rates. Then take a look at the studies that examine such things as adultery and sexuality. Look at the rates for sex outside of marriage and before marriage. In this respect, it is not a pretty picture. Compare this to the rates for same sex unions and activities.

The net result is that there is no evidence that same sex unions will do worse than current religious unions (and may even do better). There is no evidence that same sex marriages will cause a stagnation or decrease in the development of wealth. Modern science provides options in terms of the growth of population as a factor.

What truly matters here are two things. One, can same-sex unions provide stability/growth, and the resources needed to bring children into productive adulthood? Two, will we honor our Constitution which guarantees fundamental rights to all citizens? The latter may well be the most important question we face. We can turn our backs on it, not for the first time, and disenfranchise a chunk of our Citizens. Or, we can accept it as the sometimes uncomfortable thing it is and try our best to live up to its promise. This means holding all Citizens responsible for their actions, especially when it comes to marriage.

We already have a tradition of civil union. There is no legal or logical reason that such can’t apply to same-sex marriage. What is needed is not a defense of marriage act, but a clear separation of church and state. Let those who desire to have a same-sex union do so, either in a church that supports such, or in a civil action. Let those opposed continue to get married in the church of their choice. To do anything else violates the rights, liberties, and responsibilities of the individual, and poses contempt for the Constitution and the Republic.

Now go read Dr. Keith Burgess-Jackson's essay, in which he claims that anti-gay-marriage advocates have legal, if not necessarily moral, grounds for their claims, esp. re: marriage being "about children."

The upshot is this. Defenders of traditional (heterosexual) marriage should not abandon the argument to those who advocate homosexual marriage. They should link marriage to childrearing and, in response to the claim that not all heterosexual couples can or will reproduce, insist that this has moral but no legal significance. Indeed, I'm willing to concede that there is a good moral case for homosexual marriage--where children are involved. But a good moral case is not necessarily a good legal case. The law is eminently justified in drawing imperfect lines. It does so everywhere, and usually without complaint. It should not apologize for drawing the marriage line between heterosexuals and homosexuals.

If nothing else, I hope to have shown that homosexual marriage raises a host of practical issues that are not usually discussed, but that need to be. Since those who argue for homosexual marriage (Andrew Sullivan, for example) are asking that the law allow it and not just defending its moral permissibility, they have an obligation to discuss the messy details that lawyers grapple with on a day-to-day basis. They need to get their heads out of the clouds and put their feet firmly on the ground.

[NB: you really should read all of Laughing Wolf's post and all of KBJ's post to get the proper context. The above quotes, in themselves, don't frame all the issues both writers bring up. Laughing Wolf, for instance, delves a good bit into the history of marriage-- something Andrew Sullivan has also done to forward the argument that "marriage," as a term, has meant different things over the years, a sentiment with which I agree.]

As far as I can tell, Burgess-Jackson has never explicitly laid out his personal position on the question of gay marriage, though my own suspicion, based on his constant efforts to rebut the logic of pro-gay marriage arguments, is that he's against it. I may be wrong; after all, many people against gay marriage cite religious reasons for their position, and KBJ is an atheist. KBJ's main interest where Sullivan is concerned is to point out the inconsistency in Sullivan's faux-federalist attitude. I happen to agree with KBJ here, but only because I think it's necessary to argue strongly for a constitutional amendment that acknowledges marriage to be a basic civil right to be enjoyed by all, regardless of sexual orientation.

KBJ's post makes a big deal of demonstrating the crucial difference between viewing marriage from a moral standpoint and from a legal standpoint. It seems you have to buy this premise-- that the legal and moral aspects of marriage are in fact discrete-- to buy the rest of KBJ's argument. My question is: for what purpose are there laws? Aren't laws motivated by the desire to allow people to live harmoniously, with maximum benefit to the maximum number of people? Can't this desire be described as moral and/or ethical?

While I agree somewhat with KBJ's distinction between legal and moral (for example, I side with folks who say "you can't legislate morality," because they usually mean "you can't legally impose the morality of one specific religion"), I can't grant it fundamental weight: the moral and legal aspects of society aren't as separate as KBJ makes them out to be. Because of that, I can't accept the moves KBJ makes in the rest of his nonetheless-interesting post. And as you know if you've read my previous long post on gay marriage, I'm not impressed by the a priori declarations people make re: what marriage is or isn't "about." The term was and remains a descriptor for a changing reality. The rest of my position proceeds from that basic fact.

KimcheeGI apparently got through the holiday traffic nightmare, but not without cost. Go read about it.

Steven Den Beste invests a lot of time (and emotion, it seems) in talking about something that's supposedly beneath his attention. He comes off as rather petulant.

You do know Ariel Sharon's in trouble, right?

Good God: Starbucks is a monster.

Jeff over at Ruminations in Korea has two great posts up. The first regards an "uh-oh" event: allegations of sexual abuse, by an American doctor, of a Korean child. I agree with Jeff that due process basically gets tossed out the window in Korea when it comes to foreigners, but if it turns out this doctor really did what he's accused of, then let him burn.

The second Ruminations post regards something I also hate: Korean soap operas. But my Mom loves these things; she watches them on cable, on a channel devoted to Korean programming. I've also been told by my relatives to watch the soaps religiously if I hope to improve my listening skills. This is like asking me to sit still while someone plays Garth Brooks. Close friends know of my deep, animal hatred of country music, which almost always produces the urge to fuck shit up, Hulk-style. Luckily for me, I can table the question for now: I don't have a TV at home. HA!

Tons happening at It Makes a Difference to the Sheep, so here's a link to the whole blog. Start at the top and just keep reading.

Tacitus doesn't like how Wesley Clark's been dissing Kerry's military service. I don't know; seems to me that both men aren't exactly honoring vets or the military when they repeatedly cite their own service records for political leverage. But maybe that's just me.

After claiming they have a big dick, then actually inviting some US inspectors to view what they claimed was their dick, NK has proven in recent weeks to be remarkably coy and mysterious about whether it actually possesses a dick. A US expert on dicks contends that North Korea may very well not have a dick.

And that's all the news that's fit to shit. Did you eat that monkey?


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