James Clay Fuller

Things We're Not Supposed to Say

Friday, February 13, 2004

Further out on the limb

Can’t resist making another prediction:

There will be voting problems for liberals in Florida again this year. Black neighborhoods and possibly other areas which normally support Democrats will be affected by the “irregularities.”

The same thing is likely in at least three other states, but it definitely will take place in Florida. Again, the Bushes will be awarded victory in the state, despite ample evidence of fraud. No one will be prosecuted or even reprimanded.

If the newest of computerized voting machines are used, the votes on those machines will greatly favor the Bushes. In conservative-leaning areas, margins for Republicans will be even larger than expected. The Bushes will come out ahead in areas that always have voted liberal and were expected to do so again, or the margins for Democratic candidates will be much smaller than anticipated, thus giving the Bushes the over-all win.

More on the computerized machines and their producers another time.

Wednesday, February 11, 2004

National Guard no-show? It's SOP

As a former National Guard personnel sergeant, I can state with certainty that records showing George W. Bush was paid for six days of service in the Air National Guard in 1972 proves absolutely nothing about whether he actually served those days. Nothing. Zip. Zilch.

It always has been the practice of the military in this country to give free rides to some types of celebrities and, especially, the sons of politicians and the rich and powerful. Fixing their records to show they were on duty, and were paid, when they were nowhere in sight is SOP (standard operating procedure).

As a low-ranking personnel specialist at Fort Ord, California, in 1959 I saw several examples of just such treatment of young men who supposedly were on active duty for six months as part of their National Guard training.

One case involved a rock singer, scion of one of America’s most famous show business families, who was scheduled to actually be on base one day to collect the papers showing he had served his active duty time and had received certain training. I was working in the personnel office in post headquarters at the time, and it was easy to find out: The guy had been at Fort Ord exactly once before, for part of the day he supposedly began his active duty.

He didn’t show up that “final” day either, by the way, which greatly disappointed the various generals and colonels with whom he was to have lunch.

In any case, six days of service in eight months would not fulfill the requirements of any enlistment I ever heard of.

Monday, February 09, 2004

Don we now our straight apparel

One of the big topics we’ll be treated to this year, one of those distract and divide issues, is gay marriage.

We will be inundated over the next several months with reports and shouting matches about proposed national and state constitutional amendments to prevent gays from marrying. There is a powerful movement, heavily supported by right wing politicians, to put an official stamp on marriage as something “sacred to a man and a woman,” as it frequently is put.

It’s going to take so much air time and reporter time and print space that there simply won’t be much time or space to devote to such issues as the deteriorating economy, the gutting of environmental protections, corporate theft of retirement benefits and the like.

That’s a given.

Perhaps in my innocence I have failed to see a major threat to my life, the welfare of my family and my country –a threat that gives such a battle precedence over the other aforementioned issues or the rightness of using false information to invade another nation, or eliminating Constitutional protections of the individual by executive order or...or....or....pick your own favorite issues from the many to be dealt with.

Here’s my situaiton:

I am an older married male – a senior citizen, if you must. I’m straight. My kids all are heterosexual. My wife and I have been married for about 20 years – second marriage for each of us and seems highly likely to last.

In our general neighborhood there are two gay male couples of which I am aware. One of those couples has been together about the same number of years as my wife and I – a bit longer, as I recall. The other, younger, has only a few years together.

They are all pleasant people, highly educated, employed in rather high-level jobs in business and have been so employed for decades. Their homes are well cared for, they are helpful to their neighbors. They are, by all rational measures, very good citizens indeed.

If those two couples were to marry – I don’t know if they want to – the amendment pushers and radio shouters and TV get-rich-and-powerful-through-preaching guys say that my marriage would be damaged.

I have been thinking about that.

Try as I might, I just can’t see what form that damage would take, nor how it would occur. Can’t see it happening it all.

Perhaps some one of the people who believe that his or her marriage would hurt by the marriage of my neighbors could explain how they would be affected.

Just one thing: Don’t bother to email me if your answer is that God says marriage is only for men and women.

The thing is, you see, I firmly believe – as conservatives swear they do – that government should stay the hell out of our private lives, except to protect us from intrusions by others, and most definitely should not in any way be involved in the furtherance of anybody’s religious beliefs. If all you have to say on behalf of banning marriage between gays is that it’s against God’s law, then you have made no argument for banning it under civil law.

If your religious beliefs are such that you can’t accept gay marriage, then you may have an issue within your religious community, but it doesn’t belong in the public arena.

So here’s an idea: From the state’s standpoint, the purposes of marriage have to do with the orderly transference of property, inheritance, parental rights, guardianship in the event of debilitating illness and such important but non-religious issues.

The whole problem could be solved by making all unions of the type now called marriages into civil unions in the legal sense – the same deal being offered gay people in a few states now. Any couple, male-female or same sex, could enter into such a union under the law. And if your religious beliefs require marriage blessed by whatever clergy you favor, go ahead and have your wedding. It would be legal to have it, but the marriage wouldn’t have any greater standing under the law than any other civil union.

We also could continue to have civil ceremonies for people who don’t subscribe to any specific religion.

All nice and tidy, all needs filled.

Or is it that the crusaders for a ban on marriages between gays really do want to use the law to impose their religious beliefs and their own brands of morality on everyone else?

Well, yes. That and to distract public attention from the dismantling of American democracy and the movement of all wealth into the hands of a tiny elite.