Tucker the Basher

I had to copy this out of the last entry and put it here because Tucker Carlson’s on-air admission on MSNBC that he and a friend smashed a guy’s head into a bathroom stall because the guy “bothered” him.

I got the above clip from MediaMatters.org, and good thing! Because MSNBC has been replaying portions of that program, conveniently cutting out the part where Carlson talks about bashing the guy’s head into a stall wall.

This is why they call it “homophobia”. I find it odd that I’m about to draw a parallel between one-time-bow-tie-wearing-on-air-dandy and a bunch of construction worker types that hoot and whistle at women who walk by a work site, but there it is. Take it as a sign of either how twisted the Conservatives have become or as a sign of how pervasive anti-gay sentiments are. But this phenomenon of outsized reactions by “straight” males to being the target of a come-on or flirtation (the jury is still waaaaay out about Carlson, but I’ll get to that later): they just can’t handle unwanted sexual advances or even comments.

Do they feel their testicles climb up into their body cavities (yes, ladies, it can happen) when they’re similarly objectified by another man? At the very least, these guys are lacking the ability to empathize with the experience of the women they themselves objectify.

So Carlson gets hit on by a guy and poor Tucker gets a friend or two to help him beat up the guy that made an advance. Nice. To add to all this, unsurprisingly, are claims by gay men of having had sex with Carlson. At least one claims it was located—wait for it—in a bathroom stall.

And so far, MSNBC is not only editing its own content on Carlson’s (and their own) behalf, but they’re oddly silent about making any comment whatsoever about what transpired on-air. I mean, they do know that there are recordings out there, right? And the internet? Pretending that the on-line world has no impact on their own business would be like, say, NBC Universal thinking that they can strong-arm Apple and then do without iTunes as a sales channel. Ahem.

More editing, where Carlson issued a statement later:

Let me be clear about an incident I referred to on MSNBC last night: In the mid-1980s, while I was a high school student, a man physically grabbed me in a men’s room in Washington, DC. I yelled, pulled away from him and ran out of the room. Twenty-five minutes later, a friend of mine and I returned to the men’s room. The man was still there, presumably waiting to do to someone else what he had done to me. My friend and I seized the man and held him until a security guard arrived.

Several bloggers have characterized this is a sort of gay bashing. That’s absurd, and an insult to anybody who has fought back against an unsolicited sexual attack. I wasn’t angry with the man because he was gay. I was angry because he assaulted me.

However, what he said on the air was:

I’ve been bothered in men’s rooms. [Later,] I went back with someone I knew and grabbed the guy by the — you know, and grabbed him, and … [h]it him against the stall with his head, actually.

See what he’s done? “Bothered” gets trumped up to “assaulted”, and “him him against the stall with his head, actually” gets toned down to “seized the man and held him” for a security guard to handle.

Jesus Christ in a Bathroom Stall. Again! Recorded content, Tucker!

MediaMatters has started a drive to get MSNBC to make some kind of comment about what Carlson did and said, because so far they’re letting an unrepentent gay-basher get off (so to speak) scot free. So go visit their page and write to MSNBC and tell them how you feel.

Now, admittedly, the likely means by which you’ll contact MSNBC involves the internet, so they may not pay much attention.

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In Defense of Senator Larry Craig

The Republicans are so hypocritical and so twisted that they’re utterly lacking in everything but antipathy. How can you look at the Republicans and not want to write them off completely as hypocrites and liars? There is no honor among thieves. There is no friendship or loyalty among the Republicans.

Besides knifing every person who embarrasses them, the Republicans are also gunning again (still!) for marginalizing gay people.

Even Craig! He claims that he’s not gay, “and has never been”. Whaaaa? That’s just his way of reinforcing the utterly wrong notion that homosexuality is just a debilitating layer atop the “true” sexuality of the hetero-. He’s at the end of his tether and still he’s properly mendicant in his role as a Republican doctrinaire.

Ahh, but I return here not to bury Craig, but praise him. Wait, no, that’s not right. Should I be praising Craig’s compatriots for appropriately chastising and abandoning such a hypocrite?

I should, but they’re not being appropriate in the least. From cnn.com:

  • Sen. John McCain, a GOP presidential candidate, called Craig’s case “disgraceful.”
  • “My opinion is that when you plead guilty to a crime, then you shouldn’t serve,” said McCain, of Arizona. “And that’s not a moral stand, that’s not a ‘holier-than-thou,’ it’s just a factual situation.”
  • Another Republican senator, Norm Coleman of Minnesota, said Craig pleaded guilty to “a crime involving conduct unbecoming a senator.”
  • And Rep. Peter Hoekstra, the ranking Republican on the House Intelligence Committee, said Craig should give up his Senate seat.
  • “The voters of Idaho elected Sen. Craig to represent their state, and will decide his future in 2008 should he fail to resign,” the Michigan congressman said in a statement issued by his office. “However, he also represents the Republican Party, and I believe that he should step down, as his conduct throughout this matter has been inappropriate for a U.S. senator.”
  • On Thursday, former Sen. Bill Frist of Tennessee said Craig’s actions, if true, are “despicable.” Frist, a Republican, is a former Senate majority leader.

Well, Senator McCain, last I checked, it doesn’t invalidate your position of Senator to be accused of a crime or even to be guilty of one. The only factual situation is that you’re running for President and like all the other Republicans in the race, you’re gay-bashing and broadsiding in order to make sure the credulous remember your “firm stand” on those nasty evil gays. You really want to be the real man you pretend to be? Start the proceedings to expel him yourself, you gutless bastard.

Senator Coleman: I’m only 43 years old, but honestly, I’ve seen more conduct unbecoming humans coming from the U.S. Legislature than the opposite.

Rep. Hoekstra: why exactly should he surrender his seat? What did Craig do besides use his position as a Senator to reinforce his own closet walls? You all act in self-interest and to say otherwise is bullshit.

Senator Frist: oh please. Next!

What exactly did Craig do? I’ve already addressed his hypocrisy in his behavior as a Senator and human being. Despicable. But no moreso than most Republicans in the Senate.

Craig didn’t suck the cop’s cock. He didn’t unzip and show his own cock. As far as was reported by the stupid-ass airport cop, the cop also didn’t whip it out. In effect, Craig hit on the cop. He made a sexual overture that no one but the two of them even witnessed.

Does Minnesota send female undercover cops to all the meat market bars in the state in attempts to trap sleazeball males who might place a hand on a woman’s shoulder as he tries to get laid? Does Idaho also consider it appropriate to send police officers into straight bars and arrest those men who flirt with women?

Of course they don’t. I’d even hazard a guess that if that cop had walked into that men’s room and realized that an opposite-sex couple were in that last stall there at the end having full-on sex that he’d at most give them a warning and a smirk. It would end there.

When I first heard this whole story, I was hard-pressed to think of anyone who was as small and ugly-souled as Larry Craig because of the hypocrisy of his Senatorial behavior and record. I never judged him based on his sexual behavior. Had he been standing there in the midst of the restroom with his cock out getting head from someone for all to see, then yeah, I could see how that’s inappropriate. But Craig did nothing wrong in that restroom. Nothing at all. Afterwards, his hubris was blatant and ugly, but I can imagine that McCain, Frist, Hoekstra, Coleman and every other Senator have used their name and position to get at the very least small favors. Had Craig been a horny woman alone who snuck into that restroom and hit on the cop, there’s be no arrest, but there probably would have been a couple of orgasms.

No. These people who judge Senator Craig are just as hypocritical—if not moreso—than Craig himself. They’re using him as political fodder. They’re climbing over the backs of the gay community (and not in a good way) in order to prick at the fears and prejudices of the American people.

•••

UPDATE: Tucker Carlson, famous anus, was on MSNBC talking about—you guessed it—the Larry Craig fiasco. In it, he mentions that he was “bothered” in a restroom and then quite self-congratorily smiles and offers that he bashed the guy’s head against the stall (credit to mediamatters.org for the quicktime clip and transcription):

Notice, too, that Carlson claims that Craig’s being gay is “nobody’s business”. I would agree if Craig hadn’t supported those anti-gay initiatives. Why? Because his orientation would not be germane to any news story. Just like Cheney’s ties to Halliburton would not be newsworthy had he not taken advantage of his political power to line his own (I’m sure very butch) purse. It’s such a simple concept, journalistic outing. It’s been described and justified over and over again. Why do people have such trouble understanding that the right to privacy (or lack thereof in cases of public figures) applies equally to hetero- and homosexuals? Journalists are presenting bias if they fail to report homosexuality of a subject if it’s germane to the story. Period. Too much denial, I guess, from gays and straights alike: straights encounter that “ick” factor, and gays don’t think beyond “well, I wouldn’t want someone to do that to me.

UPDATE #2: Salon.com says some familiar things.

•••

So, who’s going to suffer because of this whole nightmare? Directly? Craig and the gay community. Indirectly? We all will. All of us. Even those addle-brained townies who hate the gays.

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Jiminy God!

I know that The Closet makes you do stupid things. The Closet makes you do things that are harmful to yourself. The Closet removes you from the greater humanity and relegates you to, at best, walking beside humanity. The Closet makes you lie. The Closet makes you steal energy from others. The Closet makes you betray others in the selfish service of a Secret.

The Closet is not about sex. The Closet does not exist on its own. The Closet cannot exist without Those Without. The Closet does not tell the truth.

The Closet exists because of shame. Shame exists because of tradition. Tradition begins as the pragmatic and ends up as unworthy morality. Morality is created only in the absence of objective record.

Let me say that one again: Morality is created only in the absence of written record. Once more, with feeling: Morality is created only in the absence of written record.

If crazier Christians still read this site, they’d be up in arms, labeling it invective and just plain in-error (i.e. sinful). After all, doesn’t their most famous Bill of Moral Lading appear in written form?

Well, of course it does. But is it honestly to be believed that not-killing-one-another wasn’t already a pretty good idea by the time Moses went into publishing? Same for stealing and fucking around? And wasn’t respect toward elders also a fairly usual occurrence in societies which lacked a written form? Oral Histories are full of things that are called morals, all of which have some basis in common sense or epidemiology.

Furthermore, consider this: what de novo moral imperatives have appeared since written histories supplanted Oral Histories? The most obvious scenarios would involve things which didn’t exist way back when. Like automobiles or the internet. The Catholics got the whole “how to avoid sin when driving cars” bit, laid out in a 36-page document. Snappily, it’s called Guidelines for the Pastoral Care of the Road. But read through them (if you must) and you’ll find trite guidelines whose bases are ultimately (some might say transparently) traceable to the originals. Hell, they even copied one!

And the internet? Arguably, the internet involves nothing which does not exist outside of it: it’s ultimately human communication, be it personal, commercial, social or political. It’s only the circumstances and strategies that are different. It’s easier to be anonymous or, for that matter, someone else entirely! You can be in The Closet and still enjoy the advantages of self-expression, leaving the difficult work of niggling things like Equality to others. Less passively, you can become a Senator and have the politically correct same-ethnicity wife and 2.7 white children, derail any equal rights legislation, demean in every way your fellow not-entirely-heterosexuals and get as much anonymous cock as you like.

Where’s all that much vaunted self-responsibility, Republicans?

Speaking of Republicans, if The Closet is the self-esteem vampire, then the Log Cabin Republicans are its Renfield. LCRs are of the closet, yes, but enmeshed draped in the cloak of the tight-assed Normalcy of the Straight White Men, with plenty of deference to their masters. Tactfully, of course, because none of those kind have any use for nelly bottomboys.

The LCRs apply the same tactic to the gay community as the Republicans do to the larger mainstream population: they obfuscate by platitude, taking all the nuance out of anything and spouting aphorisms to cover.

As you might guess, of course they’re all over (ew) Larry Craig. Mostly they agree with me about the closet, but then Patrick Sammon, their Mother Superior, has to go and drop one of their famous apparently-truisms:

It’s not for me to speculate about Senator Craig’s sexual orientation.

Excuse me?!? A male who skulks off to public restrooms to suck dick under a bathroom stall has no other motivations than being sexually attracted to men. Here’s another truism for you, Patrick:

Jane, you ignorant slut! — Dan Akroyd to Jane Curtin, SNL

It’s not worth more of a rebuttal than that, Patrick. You’re an idiot lapdog.

When are the puritanical tight-asses (ibid. Dept. of Redundancy Dept.) going to realize that only the goddess can reshape the world to suit the divine tastes? There are things which exist which they despise. Real, concrete things, not just behaviors or attitudes. How can they hate any single part of Creation, real, virtual or emotional? I just don’t get it.

National Coming Out Day is October 11. Couldn’t Senator Craig have held off on sucking an anonymous cock for another six weeks so that he could come out as gay or bisexual with so many other brave souls? Then again, there are probably other things that Senator Craig would have been doing on National Coming Out Day:

  • denouncing the “gay agenda”
  • tossing a crumb or two to the LCRs to keep their mouths busy (don’t go there) so they’d just stop talking
  • bitching that the public restrooms are “dead on days like this”
  • taking potshots at gay people while rebutting (hehe he he -rolls eyes-) what happened in that airport restroom
  • imagine a world without out-and-proud gays and smile at how crowded the public restrooms will be then!
  • 2 viagra + 1 cialis + marathon man-on-man porn-watching beforehand = Missionary Position with the Missus that actually might finish in a climax
  • Getting on a flight to god-let-it-be-anywhere-but-Minneapolis to clear my head after time spent with the Missus

Bathroom stall, Closet, Anti-Gay Asshat Persona…they’re all the same thing in your case, Senator Craig.

Hypocrisy, Fear, Timorousness, Shame…they’re all alive and well with the LCRs.

Watch! Remember when I said that The Closet can’t exist without Those Without? Watch and see, chil’ren. “Liberal” news organizations, bloggers, christian groups and the stupid-ass “ex”-gay groups….they’ll all do two things: a) fight over their own piece of the pie/glory/publicity and b) stuff all of this back into a Closet of their own making because if they’ve all learned one thing, it’s that Middle America can’t stomach high ick-factor things for too long.

Kill the Shame, kill “Tolerance”, kill “Acceptance”. Kill them all because they’re all conscious notions. I am diminished if you ‘accept’ or ‘tolerate’ me; if I’m in a mood, I’ll break your arm…the one that’s patting yourself on the back. I don’t care who you’re with, but on some level, I do care if you’re happy. A rising tide lifts all boats, and all that. Be your own person and not simply a creature of your own dogma. Evaluate your own traditions and, in the modern context of your own life, discard those that make you haughty or mean or superior. You’re not. And I’m not.

Gay people are people. We’re all people. And we all deserve to live our lives in the sun.

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Mind the Mind

Thanks to John Gruber over at Daring Fireball for pointing me at an interesting and utterly apropos column by a Mr. Paul Graham entitled Holding a Program in One’s Head. I don’t know if it gives any sort of lay-accessibility to the programmer’s mindset, that zone that a year ago was so easy to slip into that I could get there and stay there while literally hours would pass unnoticed.

Mr. Graham’s entry, excerpted:

A good programmer working intensively on his own code can hold it in his mind the way a mathematician holds a problem he’s working on. Mathematicians don’t answer questions by working them out on paper the way schoolchildren are taught to. They do more in their heads: they try to understand a problem space well enough that they can walk around it the way you can walk around the memory of the house you grew up in. At its best programming is the same. You hold the whole program in your head, and you can manipulate it at will.

That’s particularly valuable at the start of a project, because initially the most important thing is to be able to change what you’re doing. Not just to solve the problem in a different way, but to change the problem you’re solving.

Your code is your understanding of the problem you’re exploring. So it’s only when you have your code in your head that you really understand the problem.

It’s not easy to get a program into your head. If you leave a project for a few months, it can take days to really understand it again when you return to it. Even when you’re actively working on a program it can take half an hour to load into your head when you start work each day. And that’s in the best case. Ordinary programmers working in typical office conditions never enter this mode. Or to put it more dramatically, ordinary programmers working in typical office conditions never really understand the problems they’re solving.

The stress is mine (no pun intended).

I miss that zone, like I miss San Francisco when I’m not here. Like I miss being in my parents’ home with my whole family around. It’s an intellectual homelessness.

The ability to mentally inhabit a place isn’t the end-all, be-all. Don’t get me wrong. Creative faculties are largely intact. Those are expressive, out-bound things. Spontaneous (or spurious) thoughts link themselves together like suds on a water surface; that happens all on its own: The mind’s capillary action.

No plates to keep spinning, no virtual reality need be elaborated. Just allowing the river (or even creek!) to flow echoes an escapism that pleases me. I do a lot of that, have done a lot of that in the last few months. So the writing or the drawing or even the jotting wicks me away in a happy direction.

I don’t have a point, really. Other than to point at someone who’s described the programming experience better than I’ve been able to do.

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Opurt!

LcPenguin Opus, as I’ll always think of him, as been a staple of my personal library, narrative, culture and literature since the early 1980s when I was a blond, pre-bald, pre-gayboy of 19 as a freshman at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh. Pittsburgh, too, is a staple of my own history and no matter the fact that I didn’t grow up there nor have I lived there since 1992, it will always be a part of my general disposition as a comforting presence. Same with Penguin Opus.

Today I took a ride down to Stanford University with Juhr today, mainly because I rely too much on the intarwebs and text-messaging in my interactions with him and this was an opportunity to hang out for a while. As a (distant second) side-benefit, it got me out of the house.

I found myself mentioning to Juhr that I’d become a Body Thief in a heartbeat to switch out with any of the students there, a chance to live that kind of life again and, frankly, get another chance to “do it all over”. Of course I kid. I’d never steal away, intentionally and maliciously, the life of another nor do I have major regrets in these 43+ years. I was musing; it was a beautiful day; Stanford is a beautiful campus.

Juhr was comparing the general apparent happiness of students at Stanford to the students of MIT in the early 1990s and I found myself chiming in on how the students were in mid-1980s Carnegie Mellon. Juhr’s take: MIT students worked very hard for very long hours and spent little time on relaxing or athletic activities. And that they were largely solo artists, rarely collaborating or helping each other learn. At CMU, I told him, students were also fairly solo. They made overtures to work on problem sets together, but overall it was a behind-the-scenes cut-throat affair where not only good grades were sought, but the best grades. So it wasn’t good enough to excel in absolute terms, you had to rise to the top of each class.

Opus

Needless to say, I wasn’t competitive. I just didn’t have it in me. First of all, I had no discipline; I had no study “skills” because I never had to study before CMU. I was expecting 13th grade and boy was I surprised. I didn’t do all that well, but I did manage to switch majors from EE to Biological Sciences and still graduate in four years. And that, apparently, was something.

But I learned. Even on tests I remember not being very successful on, I remember the material on many of those tests from so long ago. I can’t tell you the last time I remember applying physical biochemistry (e.g., calculate the flow through a cell membrane given osmotic and ionic pressures x and y on each side; describe the rate of decay of fluorescence across a given cellular surface), but I remember the notions behind many of the principles.

Do I wish I’d had a better record to present to whomever these days? Not really. It never hurt me. Having escaped from CMU with a degree and the attitude, “I don’t know much about , but I’ve never had trouble learning anything else and I don’t see why this should be any different.”

That seems to work.

I also didn’t have much of a political posture then; I didn’t have much of an attitude about gay rights, but that’s mainly because the closet precludes you from supporting equality and your own ethics prevent you from opposing. In any event, it was always better to fade into the background when the gays were mentioned.

We all agreed, back then, that the pantheon of characters that Berkeley Breathed created in Bloom County was nothing short of magical. I learned from him that being wry didn’t mean you had to be mean. That no matter what was wrong with the world, you could always find time to laugh good-naturedly: Laughter restores balance.

So I’ve been thrilled, of course, that Breathed is back (and has been back for weeks) in Salon.com. I see Opus and I smile before I even read it. I read each week’s ‘toon slowly, to savor it. Then I read it again and again.

Somewhere among the hundreds of books stacked in shelves against and entire wall of my house are more than half a dozen compilations of daily comic strips. I think I’m going to go dig them out.

While I watch Bill Maher.

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Another Passions Moment

If you haven’t heard, Passions is moving to DirecTV. Supposedly they will remove net and iTunes access to the episodes. In response, I’ve been trying to figure out how to keep watching it without the whole shebang of subscribing to DirecTV on top of the Comcast Cable I already have. I’ve considered getting a Slingbox and installing it in my brother’s house back in Pennsylvania so I can watch it over the web. Seriously, I think I need an intervention.

Anyway, beyond the characters in the show pimping and otherwise mentioning “DirecTV” in every other scene, they still manage to go over the top. Tabitha, the town witch (played with gusto by Juliet Mills), walks in on a geriatric, lesbian, S & M couple (two recurring characters, Edna and Norma, the latter of whom talks to her dead father’s skull and wields a hand ax on a regular basis):

Photo-2

Tabitha walks in on them (and this is the first time we find out that Norma is an S & M bottom) and says:

I was Caligula’s party planner, but this! This makes the decadence of Berlin in the 1930s look like some sort of church social!

Gives new meaning to that “slingbox”, doesn’t it?

Later we find out:

Edna: I was giving ‘Normy’ a Brazilian wax!<br/>Tabitha: Like deforesting the Amazon jungle isn’t enough!

Must Find Way To Keep Watching!

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Umber Alert

Crazy goes in cycles.

The best and most ready example, of course, is the Lunar/Lunatic cycle. That one’s as old as the moon itself, and I tend to believe that it’s true, either through cosmic employment or that brand of subjective reality that goes by the tag “self-fulfilling”.

A bit more than a year ago, there were some crazies up North (no, not you, Tina, you may be crazy, but you’re the best kind and you’re smart and funny and when you compliment my butt I start typing in run-on sentences or in this case a parenthetical cause someone stop me) who masqueraded—wait, I think we settled on the fact that there’s really only on flesh-and-blood person with three (or more?) personae. The old Steve-Al-Karen triumvirate who inculcated several of us with their messy fiction (new name! same great waste!).

Most of us were cautiously optimistic that such a grand animal (any TOTC fans get that reference?) as “Steve O’Brien” did in fact exist in the world and was willing to share such good will, good fortune and just plain goodness with the rest of the world. Good will generally runs high with me and my typical strategy with people I am just getting to know is “two-or-three tits for a tat”, a variation on the “tit for tat” gaming strategy, because yeah, I’m more of an optimist to the point of sometimes being legally-blind to reality.

So I noticed over the past couple of days an inordinate number of hits to my blog that arrived here from long-ago entries by various people (yum), among others and I asked my Eastern Seaboard Bearaphic counterpart (please to forgive, Joseph) if he might know a reason.

After some general help in the matter, I ultimately discovered the freak show that has people looking for past occurrences of faux bloggery. If that guy is really a writer, his employers must be paying him by the semi-colon.

I’m glad that well- and personally-known people are explicating and exposing the liar this time—I don’t mind being the “bad” guy, but it’s not pleasant being accused of assholery when you’re in the middle of providing links to references—but, well, I know Homer and adore him. I kinda know Jimbo—he’s one of the first people I ever linked to way back 4+ years ago. Cute as a button and quite openly identifiable in the real world. And Homer knows him and that’s good enough for me. Circles of trust are far more worthwhile than registers of refutable fact.

As Bill Maher once said, this country needs to be far more cynical. I agree, to a point. Be cynical but express it as caution, and only to yourself. Take chances, but not with your life or well-being (emotional or otherwise). Trust your instincts instead of your hope. Hope clouds reason. Hope is good, but if it turns you into a sentimentalist it’s no longer hope, it’s just folly.

I’ve met so many amazing people in the last four years. I wouldn’t trade all these pluses for the few (but some major) minuses I’ve encountered. Every living day presents both and as I look at it, the intarwebs give you a longer reach. That’s a good thing, so long as you remember that “grasp” is different than “reach”.

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“Sanctuary City” is the New Blue

Mitt Romney today referred to certain HOMELAND cities as “Sanctuary Cities”, stating flatly that there are cities in this country which intentionally “harbor” illegal aliens (which in and of itself is a misnomer: it’s not yet illegal to be here without documentation). You know, what Christians (and Mormons, and Catholics) call “our fellow man”.

Why? Because the Republicans are desperate to distinguish themselves from one another. A bunch of old white men who have never suffered discrimination, who, if they’ve ever suffered hardship, have forgotten its lessons of humility and despair and now find their homogenization a political difficulty. Ironic.

If Romney were at all savvy, he’d just wait for Giuliani to implode. He’s well on his way already. But no, Romney sees Rudy on all fours over the bluster of his 9/11 statements insulting real rescue workers and only sees a place where his own claws can gain purchase.

The Bush government have us all so worried about “enemies out there” that it now feels like a feint, distracting the rest of us from the next step: turning the hate inward and directing it at its own populace. First Romney would cut the funding to such “sanctuary cities” and I’m honestly afraid to think of what would happen next.

Did we learn nothing from Rome?

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