News of the early election season has been swamped by the stalled debt ceiling vote in Congress, but the proposals put forth by Speaker of the House Boehner and Senate Majority Leader Reid are sure to factor into stump speeches by the GOP candidates for president. And because this is my farewell in this series for Bitch Magazine's blog, I'd like to point out a few things regarding analyzing the rest of the early election campaigning. Like this: beware the false dichotomy.
Amid the debt ceiling debacle, Norway shooting, and fears about Europe's next default, a news story broke about Oregon Representative David Wu allegedly sexually assaulting a young woman. I'm calling it simply a news story because as we'll see, the reporting frames it strangely: "an unwanted sexual encounter," a "sex scandal," an "aggressive sexual encounter." Major journalism outlets like CBS, the Washington Post, and CNN all used similar language, and I began to wonder: Why aren't they calling it rape?
Anyone on Twitter or Facebook this weekend learned quickly that UK singer Amy Winehouse passed away, and speculation about a drug overdose ran rampant over the information highway. The attention, in the United States anyway, dwarfed the other big story of the weekend, that an extreme right-wing man bombed the Norwegian Prime Minister's offices and then killed more than 80 children who were attending a Labour Party summer camp. The total dead currently stands at 93. But just this morning, Glenn Beck, from his Internet compound, said that the camp "sounds a little like the Hitler Youth." Oh, the tangled webs we weave.
I've avoided talking about the debt ceiling debates for as long as the people on the Hill have avoided doing anything about the debt ceiling itself. Also, it's hard to make financial ratings, credit defaults, and inadequate remedies sound like popular culture—unless, I guess, we're talking about how the mortgage crisis took over the news media for a solid two months in 2008. But hey, there are now signs of progress and more interestingly, those signs point to an impending doomsday for the Republicans, and not just in the 2012 election. So good for you debt ceiling! You made the cut for this series.
Yesterday, the United States Senate is holding a few hearings (such things are germane to their jobs). One of them, on the Judiciary Committee, is focused on an evaluation of the damage the Defense Against Marriage Act has caused American families. While the House GOP is congratulating itself over an empty "cap, cut, and balance" bill as part of their debt ceiling negotiations, the Democrat-run Senate is thumbing it to them by talking about LGBT rights. Or more specifically, same-sex marriage rights. Which some would argue aren't LGBT rights at all, but old-school gay rights. What's the difference, exactly?
While the US Women's soccer team went to the World Cup finals against Japan and the last Harry Potter movie demolished the box office record for an opening weekend, three quiet news accounts about new candidates for the White House filtered through the press. Yes, World Cup soccer is more exciting (at least at the finals level--penalty kicks! accusations of faking injuries!), but there are interesting aspects to these three candidates, I swear. What were the political rumbles about? Read on!
In May, Tennessee's legislators came very close to passing a bill that make it a misdemeanor for teachers of K–8 students to talk about homosexuality. Dubbed the "Don't Say Gay Bill," queer activists were unsurprisingly upset about its progress through the General Assembly and state Senate, although it hasn't been made law yet. Across the country, in California, new Governor Jerry Brown just signed into law a curriculum requirement that textbooks in his state include the contributions LGBTQ people* have made to society. With these large gaps in philosophy regarding how we talk (or are prohibited from talking) and think about queer people, what are the consequences for future generations of Americans? And is there anything to interpret from these moments of contradistinction?
Lots of people attempt to manage election laws; it happens all the time. We've seen it in vote-counting, with one side or the other suing their way into forced recounts after a close election. Of course there's "gerrymandering," named after a real Mr. Gerry, former Governor of Massachusetts, who passed the law that let legislators create serpentine voting districts in order to secure future victories for himself and his party. Then there are the donations, donors, special interests, and allied organizations who each attempt to influence election outcomes—and I'll take a look into those next week—but first, we have something of a creative response to playing with elections:
I expect that Vander Plaats, the founder of The Family Leader, will be glitterbombed soon. If Newt Gingrich got a dose of party supplies for his anti-gay stance and writings, surely some of the pink stuff is coming Plaats' way, for his having written that being gay leads to increased mortality. I don't think he's referring to hate crimes when he brings that up, either.
Who else is risking a date with decoration? Read my list after the jump!
I've written a few times on this blog about unfair criticism and downright racist language aimed at President Obama, in part because it's so prevalent and persistent, and in part because I believe it deflects attention from policy critiques. For a president as centrist as Barack Obama, valid criticism is necessary, especially when middle-of-the-road stances often mean compromise on the Hill. So in the interest of modeling good behavior, I have a critique of the President's latest capitulation regarding Social Security, as the debate about debt ceilings continues in Washington.