The front page of today's paper features a prominent story about our government spending MILLIONS of dollars on campaigns to keep adults from having sex outside of marriage.
Because, really, I'm sure that the needs of, say, the still-decimated sections of New Orleans are considerably less pressing than those of keeping consenting adults in what was once the planet's signal self-governing free democracy from having sex outside of the strictures of fundamentalist Christian marriage.
Even if it weren't an outrageous abdication of every principle of freedom and self-determination which Republicans might otherwise be expected to champion; even if it didn't harken to a time in society now decades or centuries gone, this government's glassy-eyed fetish with abstinence as a social policy fails every practical test as well (not that anyone in high places is accustomed to drawing conclusions from unbiased scrutiny of data). By every measure of civility and public health these draconian views on sex and reproduction rights are countereffective: they have the practical effect of increasing unprotected sex and unwanted pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases and the subjugation of women in our culture. From Sam Harris's latest book:
American teenagers engage in about as much sex as teenagers in the rest of the developed world, but American girls are four to five times more likely to become pregnant, have a baby, or to get an abortion. Young Americans are also far more likely to be infected by HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases. The rate of gonorrhea among American teens is seventy times higher than it is among their peers in the Netherlands and France. The fact that 30% of our sex-education programs teach abstinence only (at a cost of more than $200 million a year) surely has something to do with this.
The Clinton years seem like a distant dream. The brand of ugly conservatism that seems to hold our culture's reigns right now was kept under wraps by a popular wave of social moderation, we were generally respected in the world, our citizens tolerated each other and got along while living their diverse lives, and there was a person at the helm who held benevolent views of our citizenry; government was generally in the business of helping people. The economy hummed along happily. Contrast this with today where we seem to be struggling to protect ourselves from this Taliban-like wash coming from Washington, where the interests of a little clique of rich white guys seems to be trumping the concerns and needs of everybody else.
Paul Krugman said in an interview a year or so ago that he believed that our current leadership would stop at absolutely nothing--legal or ethical or otherwise--to remain in power, and I'm afraid he's right. W's statement last week that in spite of conventional wisdom "we will prevail" in the elections seems a bit ominous in this light. This is a man whose activism has far outstripped his wafer-thin mandate, and we should not be afraid to say it. Our world is a frightful mess right now, and he has played a starring role in making it so. Whatever my reservations about the candidates not part of this new conservatism (and I have plenty), I cannot see any choice that puts us in a worse place than the arrow of the last six years shows we're clearly headed, or even anywhere near as bad a place as we're in right now.
What is needed is not simply a vote that removes them from power, but a statement, a repudiation.
Vote 'em out, folks. Send 'em packing.
(As so often happens, I no sooner write something than I discover someone else has already said as much, and much more effecively.)
P.S. Oh, and did you hear about Rush Limbaugh's criticism of Michael J. Fox's Parkinsons disease? Apparently his tremors are really a political manipulation, and not the symptoms of a fatal disease like we all thought. Doesn't Fox know how immoral he's being for wanting to find a cure? Stupid showboating liberals.