Golly, where to begin with this one? Foreign or domes­tic? Ethnic or bizarre? Anti-​​Bush, anti-​​bigot or anti-​​insanity?

Yes — actu­ally I am talk­ing about totally sep­a­rate things here.

1. Will Rogers is Not Worthy of Emulation

Okay, let’s start with some­thing Bush once won­dered why he should even be con­cerned about. North Korea has said it’ll back off on the nukes — if there’s a return to a Clinton-​​era agree­ment wherein the nation is deliv­ered half a mil­lion tons of heavy fuel oil per year and rela­tions with Washington are nor­mal­ized. Also, they want some accounts unfrozen and assis­tance in devel­op­ing civil­ian nuke plants for power production.

What’s the prob­lem with that? Simply this: In Bush’s eyes, this would be two steps back­ward. For starters it’s essen­tially a rein­state­ment of his hated predecessor’s approach to North Korea — which would val­i­date Clinton’s pol­icy and show Il Duce’s to be the incom­pe­tent fum­bling that it is — but worse, since the account funds in ques­tion were frozen to con­trol coun­ter­feit­ing (again, under Clinton), a par­tial rein­state­ment of accounts iden­ti­fied as valid would actu­ally leave Bush in a weaker posi­tion, at least accord­ing to his tiny lit­tle cow­boy brain.

What does Bush want? I’m pretty sire I can guess. Total dis­ar­ma­ment, no accounts unfrozen, and no fuel deliv­ered — and only then will Washington reopen its doors to North Korea, after which the light-​​water reac­tor projects can start up once more.

But the prob­lem is that this sim­ply will not work. The Textard is suf­fer­ing from the delu­sion that com­pro­mise means I remain totally stub­born and refuse to budge until you begin to see it my way. Well, since he’s such a pig­headed nitwit, it should be obvi­ous to him that peo­ple such as Kim or Ahmadinejad won’t accept that kind of approach any more than he would. That North Korea has even offered to back down a bit sug­gests they’re will­ing to go fur­ther, as long as they can save face and get a few things that, frankly, they prob­a­bly need quite desperately.

The era of the igno­rant, unin­formed cow­boy is well past, which is what makes it so damned frus­trat­ing that we’ve got one in the White House now. Anyone want to place bets on how Il Duce will han­dle this one?

2. Hoods in the ’Hood

Second up is a delight­ful from CNN. Klan mem­ber­ship is on the rise again, this time fueled by bleat­ing about ille­gal immi­grants (yes, Pat Buchanan, I’m look­ing at you). Over the last cou­ple of years some highly irra­tional claims have been made about bor­der issues (I’m still look­ing at you, Pat), such as the sug­ges­tion that there will be 100 mil­lion Mexican immi­grants in the US by 2050 — one assumes ille­gally — fol­lowed by the kind of know­ing nod or gravid silence that doesn’t say any­thing out­right, but clearly sug­gests: And they’ll all be tak­ing drugs, fuck­ing our twelve-​​year-​​olds and hav­ing abor­tions while bur­glar­iz­ing our houses, mur­der­ing our white men and steal­ing our cars to the thump­ing beat of Salsa.

So the response, in addi­tion to the hate­ful “Minutemen”, is to go one step fur­ther and don the sheets and hoods. The sad­dest, most wrench­ing part is that hate groups such as the Klan, Skinheads and other such filth were on the way out in the ’90s; mem­ber­ship was declin­ing and they were begin­ning the long-​​deserved slide into obscu­rity. With dod­der­ing wretches such as Strom Thurmond dead at last, and ass­hats such as Trent Lott prop­erly shamed, things were look­ing okay.

And then jerk­wads like Buchanan got a plat­form as an “MSNBC Political Analyst” — and gained legit­i­macy — and began spread­ing xeno­pho­bia once more.

Scapegoating is not new; it’s as old as our species, as old as the first two tribes of humans hav­ing to fig­ure out how to sur­vive on one patch of land. It wasn’t sim­ply exploited by Hitler; pretty much all war­fare engaged in by humans through­out our his­tory can be seen to be rooted in scape­goat­ing. Since those guys over there wor­ship a bronze dog instead of a golden moose, they’re the rea­son the crops have failed and the deer all have the mange, so let’s go and kill them.

And hey, since the US econ­omy is in the shit­hole, maybe we should tell the Mexicans to leave.

Same logic. Same appli­ca­tion. Same real-​​world utility.

The dif­fer­ence is that when there is a pro­gres­sive, open and — dare I say it — lib­eral voice in the Bully Pulpit, morons like Buchanan keep a respect­ful silence. The crea­tures who prac­tice big­otry, and the toad­ies who harken to it, are shamed into the dark­ness where they deserve to live. But when you have a bel­liger­ent, hate­ful admin­is­tra­tion that foments fear and anger, you can damn well expect the dem­a­gogues to lurch out from under their flat stones to try to over­come the sen­si­bil­i­ties of what is, at its heart, a gen­uinely lib­eral population.

They do it by spread­ing fear of cor­rup­tion by alien cul­ture, fear of insem­i­na­tion of white girls by alien men, and are too often facil­i­tated by the preach­ing of var­i­ous texts from the Bible. (There isn’t a prac­tice that exists in the world of men that isn’t com­mented upon — both for good and ill — in some pas­sage or other of the Bible, which is just one thing that makes it use­less as a ref­er­ence for morality.)

The way to stop it? Simple. Tell the big­ots they should be ashamed of them­selves. Sometimes it works so well that major candy bar man­u­fac­tur­ers actu­ally change their ad cam­paigns. (H/​T Pam.)

3. There Are No Gays; There Are Only Sinners

Finally, Ted Haggard — the meth-​​snorting man-​​buggering anti-​​gay megachurch min­is­ter — has announced his total cure from homo­sex­u­al­ity. While this alone would prob­a­bly be mirac­u­lous, what’s even more aston­ish­ing is the time it took. In a mere three weeks he went from smok­ing man-​​pole to biscuit-​​diving, or so the story goes. And the “coun­selors” who have “helped” him actu­ally seem to believe this.

Deep sigh.

Okay. I don’t think we can say we’re born with any ori­en­ta­tion per se, any more than we’re born with a given lan­guage. We’re wired for sex, and gen­eral biol­ogy will skew us het­ero­sex­ual at least some of the time, but I don’t think there’s what could be called a switch or mech­a­nism for het­ero­sex­ual (or gay) — any more than there is a switch for English as opposed to French or Cantonese. You have what you’re immersed in, but the beauty of it is that you can always learn new things to do with your tongue if you want to. (Just like with language.)

So is Haggard gay? Maybe and maybe not — but there’s no doubt in my mind that he’s not straight. He might have done a quick recon­di­tion­ing of him­self to like nooky, but I am cer­tain beyond any doubt that even­tu­ally he’s going to want to get back to trysts with men.

There’s no prob­lem with that (or there wouldn’t be if he weren’t mar­ried) — but Haggard, the poor bas­tard, thinks there is, which will lead to another cycle of denial, self-​​loathing, tear­ful con­fes­sions and all the other shit we’re con­tin­u­ally sub­jected to when one of these hyp­o­crit­i­cal dip­wads invol­un­tar­ily unclos­ets himself.

What Haggard needs is not to pray the gay away. What he needs is for some­one to come and open his mind a lit­tle, show him that just because he thinks some­thing is so doesn’t mean it is, and show him that there’s a much vaster world out there than his lit­tle Bible can pos­si­bly reveal to him, writ­ten as it was sev­eral thou­sand years ago by utterly pre­sci­en­tific tribes­peo­ple to whom iron was entirely unknown.

To cen­ter one’s life so fully around noth­ing but hearsay accounts and the rav­ings of mad­men is to pre­pare the way for one’s own damna­tion, right here on Earth. Ted’s not cured, and his long, long night isn’t over.

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