25 October 2008

Love Makes A Marriage (Part One)

Love Makes A Marriage

I'm pleased to share with you an extended excerpt of a wonderful new essay by my friend, the Rev. Jerry Maneker. It's called "On Officiating A Same-Sex Marriage Ceremony". When Jerry informed me via email that he'd married a Lesbian couple, I urged him to share the experience with his readers. The resulting post, which appears at his Christian LGBT Rights blog, is every bit as compelling as I'd hoped it would be:

I was asked to officiate at a woman's marriage to her partner of ten years. Her mother and stepfather were there, as was her great aunt. Her partner didn't have any family there, which might have been due to their geographical distance from California. In any case, there were about fifteen people in attendance, and the ceremony took place in the backyard (by the gazebo) of a rest home in which her great aunt, about 90 years old, lives.

The couple exchanged rings and, as part of their vows, together read their Ketubah, a Jewish document that in this case spelled out their love and commitment to each other, as well as their commitment to peace and love in their home for themselves and for anyone who would visit them. It was a beautiful ceremony, and lasted about 15 minutes. I was honored that I was asked to do the ceremony, and now their marriage is legal in California. The only gift they asked of those who were invited was for the attendees to vote NO on Proposition 8, which I have no doubt that all in attendance will do.

Both the mother and stepfather of one of the women were so happy for the couple, and for being able to witness the legal marriage between these two devoted people! It was so beautiful to see the radiance on their faces, as well as the radiance and profound happiness on the faces of the two women whose marriage all of us were privileged to witness. This marriage, along with all other same-sex marriages, highlights the downright foolishness and evil that would allow a Britney-Spears-fifty-five-hour marriage to have more dignity, more credibility, and legal protections than the marriage of this (couple) and all same-sex couples! And, of course, there are many other short-term marriages among heterosexual couples of which nothing is heard from the arrogant arbiters of "morality", and those who foolishly or cynically claim to be defending "traditional marriage", when they (try) to rescind and/or prevent the legalization of same-sex marriage!

The "religious" homophobes take pains to say that they "love" Gay people, and one at a "Yes on 8" rally even had the temerity to tell me that his best friend was a Lesbian who had helped him when his home was destroyed by a fire not too long ago, who often went fishing with him, and had him over to her home on many occasions. Yet, he was vociferously and publicly fighting (for) California's Proposition 8 that seeks to strip away the right to marriage of same-sex couples, and he apparently sees no contradiction between his profession of "friendship" toward this woman on the one hand, and his mean-spirited and hateful stance toward (her) on the other; (he felt) free to carry signs and (spew) rhetoric designed to prevent her and all committed same-sex couples from living fulfilling lives under the protection of law . . .

What can possibly threaten the institution of marriage when a loving same-sex couple such as the one at whose (wedding) I was privileged to officiate is married? Are heterosexuals going to divorce their spouses so that they can . . . marry a person of the same sex? Is a child better off being raised by a single parent than by two loving parents of the same sex? How is any same-sex marriage going to in any way adversely affect someone's heterosexual marriage???!! Clearly, the answers to these questions are patently obvious, save to those who lack sufficient intelligence . . .

During the ceremony in which I officiated, both women had a combination of smiles on their faces and tears in their eyes. Indeed, during a part when I spoke at the ceremony, even I choked up! This marriage probably meant as much to me as it did to the other witnesses to this happy event! In my small way, I was able to help make two wonderful people happy; publicly affirm their dignity; publicly affirm that their love and marriage were every bit as valid as (that) of any loving heterosexual couple, (and) take part in legalizing their union as spouses for life, (a union) that would be validated by the force of law. Moreover, it also helped potentiate my fervent desire that all same-sex couples . . . one day (obtain) all of the civil and sacramental rights that are currently enjoyed by heterosexual people and couples. It is so important for same-sex marriage to be instituted in every state of the union, and recognized by both civil and religious authorities as being legal and binding; its spouses (are) deserving of all of the . . . credibility of heterosexual marriage!

If there had been music at their reception, we all would have danced!  If any decent person had been fortunate (enough) to witness and participate in this happy and dignified occasion, and (had) seen the looks of happiness on the faces of both women, and seen the joy and reverence with which the couple and participants saw this marriage, he or she would want same-sex marriages to be legal . . . for far too long . . . secular and religious society (has) horribly abused LGBT people, as well as the love that same-sex couples have enjoyed for millenia!

Just before Jerry told me about this ceremony, I'd purchased a used copy of By Myself, the autobiography of actress Lauren Bacall.  I'd been reading the section where Ms. Bacall describes her May 1945 wedding to screen legend Humphrey Bogart. It had also been an outdoor affair with family members in attendance. Her vivid description of the happy event made me better understand how that Lesbian couple must've felt when Jerry officially pronounced them partners for life. She wrote:

The only shadow cast that day was from the trees. It was clear blue sky all the way, as I was sure our life would be. I couldn't forget Bogie's tears. Every time I looked at him, I welled up. How had I lived before him? I couldn't remember my life before him . . . it seemed that everything that had ever happened to me had led to this day with him. I had no doubt that this happiness would last forever. I could not imagine living a minute without him. From now on, I would not have to; we were together now, like the man said: "Til death do you part."

Fifty years after the wedding happened, Lauren Bacall's emotions remained as strong as they'd been on that sunny morning. What a powerful impression that ritual must've left on her! Who could doubt that the hearts of those betrothed ladies overflowed with the same joyful sentiment? And how could anyone be so cruel as to take away their joy? Yet thousands of "Bible-believing" Californians plan to do just that when they vote to enact the Proposition 8 ballot measure on 4 November 2008.

I'll never understand what makes millions of Straight American voters believe they have the right to place restrictions on the intimate relationships of tax-paying, self-supporting, Gay American adults! Why do they feel justified in imposing their heterosexist worldview on us? What makes them want to punish us for not being heterosexual? Does it really offend them so much, that we don't conduct our love lives exactly the same way that they do?

I suppose their attitude must be an expression of human nature's dark side, a need to feel superior to persons unlike yourself! Maybe it's also, in some cases, a way of masking suppressed homoerotic impulses, of making sure something that feels psychologically threatening is never given legitimacy. Whatever it is, it strikes me as appallingly arrogant and petty!

It strikes me as patently unconstitutional, too. The electoral process should never be used by one group of Americans to deny Civil Rights to a another group! I thought we'd learned that lesson during the 1960s. Obviously, I was wrong!

If "marriage protection" amendments voted into State constitutions fail to meet democratic standards (and they unquestionably do), they fail the Christian values test even more miserably! Christianity is a giving religion; we faithful are not about depriving non-Christians of anything! Despite what you may hear from Fundamentalist radio and televangelists and self-hating, Gay Right Wing Christian wannabes like David Benkof, we aren't about imposing our beliefs on others, either. Instead, we seek to convert non-believers with the example of our own lives, which we (hopefully) live after the shining example of our Lord, Jesus Christ.

If you can even imagine the Savior preaching suppression of same-gender relationships, then you haven't read the Gospels very closely! You haven't attempted to discern the meaning of the Savior's teaching about eunuchs who have been so from birth (Matthew 19: 11, 12). You haven't paid attention to the Apostle Paul's letter to Galatian churches about the irrelevance of Hebrew law. You also haven't read the Old Testament story of Jonathan and David (the Savior's direct ancestor) with full comprehension! Nothing's more dangerous than a "Bible-believing" Christian who doesn't know what the Bible says!

"Love Makes A Marriage" continues with Part Two.

Love Makes A Marriage (Part Two)

Love Makes A Marriage

Spokesmen for Right Wing defenders of traditional marriage are known to say, with insufferable smugness: There's no marriage discrimination against Gay people. If they want to marry, they have the right to do it like everyone else does. They can marry a member of the opposite sex!

Oh, yeah? Would these jokers want a closeted Lesbian to marry their son? Or a "down low" Gay man to marry their daughter? Maybe they should send their marriage-age heterosexual kids down to the nearest Lesbian bar or Gay disco to scout potential daughters and sons-in-law; they obviously believe physical attraction has no bearing on matrimonial bliss, so why the Hell not? It'd sure beat mate-shopping at those boring church socials, wouldn't it?  Snap!

Maybe these Old Testament "Christians" need to find out firsthand what tremendous heartbreak and devastation a sexually incompatible marriage can bring to a family. Maybe they need to find out the hard way that "ex-Gay" therapy isn't all it's cracked up to be!  Lord, deliver me! Can Conservative ideologues really be such blooming idiots???

I'm not a Conservative ideologue, but I am one of those who thinks the word "marriage" isn't a good description of loving unions between Gay men and between Lesbians. Like the ideologues, my reasoning is religion-based, but that's where we part company; our approach to doctrine couldn't be more different! My reading of Gnostic Christian scripture (the Gospel of Philip in particular) makes me view LGBT folk as people who come into the world already married. The Gnostics believed we were "wed" prior to birth. All human beings are made in God's image, but the Lord has singularly blessed LGBT folk by making their souls reflect His image more accurately.

LGBT souls are, like God, a blend of male and female. In Scripture, this blend is called Fullness (for a more detailed explanation, read my essay series titled “We Are Family” under the Blended Gender sidebar link). Straight people, on the other hand, do not possess blended souls. God has granted them the ability to procreate as couples, but they lack the Fullness that is our Divine birthright! Heterosexual marriage is their means of approximating Fullness! Gay couples come together solely for love and Earthly companionship; heterosexual couples seek companionship, too, but their unions serve another, more important purpose: to make whole souls that have, for procreation's sake, been split into separate male and female parts!

That, then, is the significance of Jesus Christ's teaching about heterosexual marriage:

MATTHEW 19: 4-6
(Jesus Christ said)"Have you not read that the One who made them at the beginning made them male and female and said: 'For this reason, a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh'? So they are no longer two, but one flesh."

Homosexual union isn't the same. It isn't God merging two halves of a soul, but binding two complete souls together! David and Jonathan's love was described this way:

1 SAMUEL 18: 1-3
When David had finished speaking to Saul, the soul of Jonathan was bound to the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul . . . then Jonathan made a covenant with David, because he loved him as his own soul.

So from a Scriptural perspective, there is a difference between Gay and Straight couplings, and I’d prefer that a word other than "marriage" were applied to our unions. However, that obviously isn't the case, so what's the use of getting all swollen up about it? (I’m just thankful that a derogatory word isn't being used, knowing how much Gay people adore insulting descriptions of themselves and their activities!)

In both laymen's and legal parlance, there's just one valid description of a loving covenant between adults: Marriage! I understand and accept that fact. Establishing some kind of separate-but-equal substitute for Gay couples would be discriminatory; State Supreme Courts in Massachusetts, California and Connecticut have all said so!

Predictably, these progressive decisions have enraged Conservatives. They bellow like wild boars (bores?) about "activist judges" and trumpet Chicken Little alarms about the "dishonoring" of marriage. Why shouldn't there be different kinds of marriage, though? After all, there are different kinds of parenting. When a single person or a couple adopts a child, they legally become the child's parents. They are not called "caretakers" or "guardians" because they didn't conceive the child. They’re called parents!

Long ago, the concept of parenting was legally expanded to include adoptive child-rearing. Similarly, there’s now an inclination among jurists to expand the legal concept of marriage. Same-gender couples are being included, and it's high time that they were, isn’t it? There's nothing about an expanded definition of civil marriage that negates/corrupts marriages that fall under the original definition. That fact has also been affirmed by State Supreme Courts.

All the courts are trying to do is throw a protective legal arm around all spouses, much like Jesus Christ tries to throw a protective spiritual arm around all humankind. If the word "marriage" is applied to Lesbian and Gay unions in such a spirit of inclusiveness, then how can it be sinful? Inclusion is both a Democratic and a Christian value; but I detect neither Democratic nor Christian values in the language of marriage equality opponents, many of whom loudly proclaim faith in Jesus Christ. The nerve of them!

Here's what I'd like to ask these "faith-based" activists: What's Christian about railing against Gay promiscuity on one hand, and on another, making it hard for Gay men to opt for monogamous commitment? What's Christian about denying Lesbian and Gay couples legal protections like hospital visitation, family insurance policies, joint tax filing, child custody, property and inheritance rights? What's Christian about denying Lesbians and Gay men the documented health benefits of marriage? What's Christian about preachers labeling Gay men "f*ggots" from their pulpits, as some Black ministers do?

What's Christian about handing children Fred Phelps-style picket signs and compelling them to march against Gay Rights? What's Christian about marginalizing people whom God has blessed with born eunuch status? What's Christian about using the power of the State to persecute people on religious grounds? That's exactly what a corrupt church hierarchy did to Jesus Christ and His apostles . . . have they forgotten? I've got some disturbing news for all these "Christian" Fundamentalists who believe that homosexual relations are sinful. They can dismiss it at their own peril!

They won't walk through the gates of Heaven one second sooner because they persecuted those of us who practice same-gender love! On the contrary, if they become so caught up in sanctioning the perceived sins of others that they ignore their own sinful behavior, they won't walk through those gates at all! Make no mistake: A person's eligibility for Eternal Life doesn't depend on what he stops other people from doing. It depends on what he stops himself from doing! Breaking the Lord's commandment to love your neighbor as yourself is definitely something anybody who calls himself a Christian should stop . . . stop it right now and not later!

Fundamentalists should also stop vilifying the change that civil marriage is undergoing. The inclusion of Lesbian and Gay unions hasn't "dishonored" heterosexual marriage one bit; the only people capable of doing that are heterosexual husbands and wives who make a mockery of their vows!

For far too long, though, society has dishonored loving commitments between same-gender couples. I'm talking about commitments such as that between children's book author Maurice Sendak and his late life partner Dr. Eugene Glynn, the late Congresswoman Barbara Jordan and her devoted wife, Nancy Earl; and the late Gay Rights pioneer Del Martin and her mate of over fifty years, Phyllis Lyon. What an injustice that these marriages were never afforded legal recognition! What a sin that these bonds had to endure the stress of not only stigmatization, but criminalization prior to the repeal of sodomy laws! What an evil reflection on our democracy, on our morality, and on our so-called civilization!

In a more recent email to me, Jerry Maneker made this observation:

The Golden rule can only be recognized if one is capable of (real) empathy . . . unfortunately, so many people can't, or don't, place themselves in someone else's shoes. They do what most soldiers do: They depersonalize "the enemy", and make it seem that he or she is somehow not human . . . a fiction is created that says such things as "being Gay is a choice", "Gay people are only interested in sex", etcetera. (It’s) despicable when anyone is so callous, but when professing Christians (are), it's downright perverse and sinful!

Amen, Jerry! Nothing about this kind of discrimination is Christian. When will those who claim that blessed designation start following Jesus Christ's example morally well as rhetorically? When will they turn off the four-lane highway of bigotry and intolerance, and get on the narrow path that the Savior charted for His lambs? Let's support policies that really do affirm Christian values, policies which are truly faith-based and inclusive instead of self-righteous and exclusionary! Love makes a marriage, God is love, and love is not obligated to conform to limited human understanding! If it were, then God would never have sacrificed His only Son, Jesus Christ, to save us from sin!

Personally, I'm not optimistic that California's Proposition 8 will be defeated.  If it becomes law, I will oppose voter repeal efforts.  I don't encourage validation of unconstitutional processes like that ballot initiative. The very idea of making minority group Civil Rights subject to public opinion is barbaric!  It calls to mind Pontius Pilate putting the Savior's fate to a vote. Such processes must be vigorously attacked!

The attacks should be mounted at the judicial level, and if jurists refuse to curtail such outrages (a likely result, given the large number of reactionary judicial appointments), then a sustained movement to affirm constitutional principles will be necessary. Believe me, these anti-Gay ballot initiatives are only the first step in a documented Dominionist plot to convert our government into an oppressive theocracy (read my blog series "Satan In The Pulpit", found under the Politics sidebar tab; it includes a review of Chris Hedges' disturbing but important book from 2007, American Fascists).

Fortunately, the movement to affirm constitutional (and Christian) principles has already begun! It's been jump-started by ministers who, in defiance of their corrupt church hierarchy, are performing more and more same-gender weddings and Holy Unions. It's been jump-started by businesses that both welcome and solicit the patronization of same-gender couples. It's been jump-started by elementary schools that teach children about the diversity of human families.

Jerry Maneker has always been part of that movement, but he took a giant step into deeper activism when he performed his first same-gender wedding. Praise the Lord! Just like the Savior did, Reverend Jerry lay hands of blessing on those who'd been cursed by society. He truly did follow Jesus Christ's example; and that one gentle act was ten times more empowering to LGBT folk than the pompous jawboning of a hundred radical “queers”!

He's had the misfortune to encounter a bunch of those types lately, and some of them have tried to link him with anti-Gay forces. I think their perspective has become queered (BTW, that means "twisted") to the point where they can no longer distinguish friends from enemies! Jerry is definitely a friend of the Gay Rights movement, I'm terribly proud of him, and I know his first same-gender wedding ceremony won't be his last!

10 October 2008

Defaming Diahann Carroll

Diahann Carroll1

Warning! This post contains coarse and offensive language.

Is it ever acceptable for a White-dominated media outlet to racially disparage an elderly African-American woman? That's the question readers of the online Gay newsmagazine New York Blade were challenged to ask themselves last week. As they linked to an article about a new celebrity autobiography, their eyes fixed on a startling title: The Black B*tch is Back!

Who is this “Black b*tch”? Diahann Carroll is one of the African-American community's most revered icons. She can boast of a 50-year career as a successful actress, model and singer. She's appeared in such critically acclaimed motion pictures as Carmen Jones, Porgy And Bess, Hurry Sundown and Claudine. She was the first Black woman to star as a romantic lead opposite a White co-star on Broadway. Her TV credits go back to 1960 and include notable series like “Perry Mason”, “A Different World”, “Grey’s Anatomy”, “Naked City” and “Roots”.

She became a feminist symbol, as well as a role model to single mothers and registered nurses, on her groundbreaking 1968 TV series "Julia". She’s the recipient of a Golden Globe, and has been nominated for numerous Emmy, Tony and Image Awards. She’s a celebrity breast cancer survivor and treatment advocate. She was, and still is, one of our most beautiful stars, not to mention an enduring Black female sex symbol.

So why would the New York Blade think it was OK, not only to slap the B-word on a woman of this stature, but also insult her racial identity? Maybe it has to do with a popular primetime soap opera that she co-starred in two decades ago: Before "Dynasty" hit the airwaves in 1981, it was rare to hear the word "b*tch" used on network TV. That changed when the writing staff of Aaron Spelling's sprawling saga of the filthy rich decided to push the language envelope. The B-word was liberally applied to Joan Collins' scheming character, Alexis Colby, and it was sure to be heard during catfight scenes regularly staged between Collins, Linda Evans and other female co-stars. To be sure, the sexist insult had always been part of America’s slang lexicon, but once "Dynasty" topped the Nielsen ratings list, it came into popular use like never before.

By the time the TV series notched its third season, criticism was mounting about a dearth of minority characters. Aaron Spelling put out the call for a Black actress; he wanted to cast a new nemesis for Alexis Colby. Reportedly, Joan Collins was instrumental in getting her old friend Diahann Carroll hired. Prior to her debut on the show, Ms. Carroll gave numerous interviews about her forthcoming role. Playfully, she told the press how much she looked forward to playing "the first Black b*tch" on television. Often, she would whisper the nasty words with a mischievous twinkle in her eye. I remember those interviews, and I also remember being taken aback by her questionable usage.

However, anyone who remembers her scenes on "Dynasty" knows that her character, Dominique Devereaux, was nothing like Alexis Colby. She was a strong and tenacious woman, determined to claim her birthright as a member of the wealthy Carrington clan, but she never had evil motives. The "Black b*tch" label was nothing but ill-conceived hype. The media never forgot it, though, and evidently, that's why the author and/or editor of Ms. Carroll's latest interview felt justified in applying the slur to her all these years later. But is that really the reason they did it? And is it really justified?

The answer to the first question is "no". The New York Blade isn't merely using Diahann Carroll's words against her. It's following a growing trend in Gay media to feature slurs prominently in their copy! Scan the covers of recent editions of The Advocate, Out Magazine, The Liberty Press and other national and regional Gay publications, and you'll find crass captions like "God Loves F*gs", "Blood, Sweat and Queers", "Yeah, I'm A F*g" and "Derby D*kes". Even trashy supermarket weeklies like The Examiner and The National Enquirer don't lead with language this crude! Gay media is quickly becoming known as the place where you can indulge in Don Imus-style potty mouth and get away with it!

(What kind of readers are editors going after when they approve these lurid covers? Radical LGBT sex and gender activists? Straight bigots? Tabloid addicts? Just plain ignorant folk? Before you pick up these rags, ask yourself if you're really part of the target readership. If you're really not, then your two dollars and/or your leisure time would probably be better spent elsewhere!)

The answer to the second question is also "no"! The term "Black b*tch" can be traced directly back to the days of slavery. White overseers were known to hurl it at Black female captives. Documentation of its use appears in slave narratives, where we learn that it was often followed by beatings or worse forms of "discipline".

Diahann Carroll was wrong to fling the term around so casually, even if she meant no harm by it. That insult carries far too much blood-stained baggage! It bears pointing out, though, that when she used it, she was always referring to her "Dynasty" character, never to herself! And what if the lady had been referring to herself? Does that give White people, or people of any ethnic background, the right to appropriate the same language when talking about her? Two wrongs don’t make a right, and in this case, the second wrong is worse than the first!

What do you bet that Ms. Carroll never gave The New York Blade permission to call her a "Black b*tch" in print? That decision was undoubtedly made after the interview, without her approval. It stuns me to think that any journalistic body could be so brazen, so disgraceful, and so mean! This woman is 73 years old! She's got grandchildren (discussed in the article) who no doubt access the Internet regularly, and who might search for articles about their famous grandmother . . . if not now, then certainly as they grow older!

How would Blade staffers feel if they saw their grandparents called "White b*tches" or "Honky bastards" in the title of a Web article? How would they like seeing Nana and Gramps introduced to millions of strangers that way?

If they'd put the title in quotes, it still wouldn't have been appropriate, but at least they’d have shown the woman a modicum of respect. No respect is shown whatsoever! Readers are unambiguously invited to read an interview with a Black b*tch named Diahann Carroll! Fifty years of proud accomplishments, and it all comes down to this?

I was just infuriated when I saw this headline. I already knew that Blade editors were in love with the word “queer”, but here they hit a new low of insensitivity! This was beyond insensitivity. This was beyond stupidity! I can only conclude that it reflects latent racist impulses on their part, the same impulses that prompt White Gay audiences to guffaw at "Shirley Q. Liquor" comedy routines.

"Shirley Q. Liquor" is a cruel and degrading caricature of poor Black women, performed by a White drag artist in Blackface makeup. Jasmyne Cannick was one of the first Black bloggers to raise a sustained alarm about this vicious portrayal, and believe it or not, some White LGBT folk have attacked her for doing so. A handful have even called her (you guessed it!) a “Black b*tch”! These ugly racial attitudes within Gay ranks must be rooted out before they grow serious enough to become another stumbling block to liberation (see my six-part series of the same title under the Politics label)!

With His Fifth Commandment, God instructed the ancient Israelites to respect their elders. Centuries later, Jesus Christ affirmed that Commandment for Christian converts. While I don’t expect the staffers of The New York Blade to be Christians, I do expect them to know what respect is!

What should happen to journalists who are nasty enough to racially disparage an elderly woman? Maybe they should learn firsthand how it feels to be the subject of sexual and racial slurs at an advanced age! Maybe when they reach their declining years and find themselves residing in a rest home, they should be cared for by ignorant, racist (or homophobic) doctors, nurses and orderlies! It would serve them right, and you know, it might happen just that way! My Grandmother Jacobs always told me: "Child, what you do to other people will always come back to you." New York Blade staffers, you've got it coming! Don't say you weren't warned.

Voice your displeasure to editor Rebecca Armendariz at:

Read Diahann Carroll’s brand new autobiography
The Legs Are The Last To Go,
published by Amistad Books (2008).

06 October 2008

Lipstick On A Fascist Pig


Pardon me, please, while I take a brief respite from Gay Rights blogging.  Lately, when Stuffed Animal lifts his furry snout to sniff the air, the stench of political corruption is strong enough to drive him back down in his burrow gagging and retching! Last Friday, the United States Congress dipped its hand in the taxpayer till and withdrew a whopping $850 billion dollars. What did they do with our money? Did they use it to bring us relief from crushing health care costs? Did they use it to revamp our crumbling infrastructure? Will it fund a new, improved GI Bill to benefit veterans returning from Afghanistan and Iraq?

No. Congress gave it to reckless and greedy Wall Street speculators so they can quell a debt crisis of their own making. Even more shocking, Congress did this in smug defiance of working class constituents who besieged Capitol phone lines with millions of angry calls!

If you query the 74 senators and 263 representatives who were responsible for this dirty deed, they'll swear they did it because the Business Round Table had aimed a gun at their heads. Had it gone off, that gun might have thrown the nation into a new Great Depression, and they'll insist it would've gone off had they refused to deliver the cash. However, a minimum of investigation reveals that it wasn't a gun to their heads that made them fork over the Benjamins. It was a bribe in their back pockets!

Look closer, and you'll see greasy lobbyist fingerprints on their bottoms! The Wall Street "rescue" bill, better described as the Great American Swindle, was larded with millions in outrageous pork barrel spending. That excess lard made it slide through Congress faster than a greased pig, and the swine metaphor couldn’t be more appropriate! Last week, roll call votes in the House and the Senate looked like nothing so much as an Arkansas pig sooey . . . when the fake squeal went up from K Street, those Democrat and Republican porkers came running as fast as their little cloven hooves could carry them!

With the exception of Lou Dobbs, Amy Goodman, Firedoglake's Jane Hamsher and a handful of other pundits, the national news media led a Chicken Little stampede for passage of the bailout bill. However, leading economists disagreed on whether this kind of legislation was necessary. If pressed, even the most partisan of them will admit that what got signed into law was far from ideal. It fails to impose strong regulations on speculators. It fails to guarantee Americans a return on their huge "investment". It barely addresses the home mortgage meltdown, the main culprit behind our current economic woes. This "trickle-down" cash infusion probably won't even be enough to alleviate the debt crisis! Two days after the bill became law, the stock market grew more unstable and volatile than ever.

This law was allegedly passed in the interest of economic stimulus. So why did Main Street get measly $300-$600 stimulus checks while Wall Street got a king's ransom? Main Street is in greater need of help, and has been so for a longer period of time, but this bloated bill does zilch for wage slaves like you and me. If your basement is flooding, does it make sense to rush and get your roof repaired but ignore what's happening downstairs?

Pardon me, did I say "rush"? My bad. It turns out there was never any rush at all. Media outlets like Pacifica's "Democracy Now!" are reporting that these oh-so-urgently-needed funds won't be distributed on Wall Street until after the November election! How does it feel to know the Bush administration has screwed you again? How does it feel to know that your Congressional delegation supplied the K-Y jelly? Anybody want a cigarette?

On Sunday, I saw one of the most disgusting news photos I've ever had the displeasure to lay eyes on: A smirking George W. Bush, on his way to commit grand larceny by signing the bailout bill into law, while Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson, the man who will drive the billions-laden getaway car back to Wall Street, kept pace with him. Both men were grinning like damn Cheshire cats with cream dripping from their whiskers!

It bears noting that Bush, Paulson and most of their stockbroker cronies are political Conservatives. Conservatives crave absolute power, and they aren't particular about the way they acquire it. They'll casually make a mockery of the US Constitution! They'll gladly trample on American Civil Liberties. They'll pack the Federal courts with partisan judges. They'll devise schemes to get eligible voters who oppose their ideology thrown off the rolls. They'll declare illegitimate wars, send thousands of American soldiers to an unjustified demise, and reserve the military contracts for war profiteers. They'll invent ominous cock-and-bull stories to scare the electorate into supporting disastrous policies.

In other words, when talking about Conservatives' pursuit of power, the key phrase seems to be how low can you go?  Yet somehow, Conservatives are reputed to be the most God-fearing people around. Conservatives are supposed to embody ironclad moral values as taught in the church, the temple, and the mosque. Conservatives are, for the most part, the ones who tell LGBT folk that we lack morals, and who punish us by voting against our basic citizenship rights. I don't know about you, but if I'm going to be censured for moral lapses, I'd much rather it be done by someone who's got half a friggin' clue what moral lapses are!

Do you know what a pig looks like with lipstick on? I'll tell you: It looks like a fascist quoting Scripture! It looks like a "Bible-believing" Senator voting against insurance benefits for poor children! It looks like the Presidential seal on a law that transforms our national Treasury into a casino! If you know of a bigger hypocrisy, a greater injustice, a more brazen display of arrogance than this recent turn of events, please tell me what it is.

I search in vain for the checks and balances that are supposed to protect us from such wholesale abuses of power, I strain my ears to detect sounds of righteous rebellion from the electorate, and I mourn the apparent demise of American democracy. Today, Stuffed Animal has tears in his eyes!

Very soon, though, he'll have accountability on his mind. He'll vote to unseat every member of his Congressional delegation who aided and abetted the Great American Swindle! Then he'll vote to seat independent candidates that loosen the two-party consolidation of power that lays our Democratic process open to corrupt influence. Will you do the same?