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It started with lesbian couples in Vermont in the mid-90s, freaked out they’d lose their babies. Vermont Freedom to Marry was born, and is now the most powerful Democratic organization in the state, most certainly responsible for the victory of Gov. Peter Shumlin, elected in Nov 2010 and, nine months later, the first sitting governor in the United States to preside over a same-sex wedding ceremony.
Fairly early on, gay marriage lobbying groups realized that whatever else, they had a gigantic money-raising machine on their hands. Not long thereafter, the right wing realized the same thing. John Scagliotti, maker of Before Stonewall, says he reckons gay marriage is so potent a fundraising tool because whereas it’s hard to visualize anti-discrimination, it’s not at all hard to visualize two men or two women saying “We do.”
So Obama didn’t really have too much of a choice and it was essentially risk-free anyway. “Obama’s gay marriage stance sets off money rush” was the headline in the Chicago Tribune. . According to Lawrence O’Donnell one out of six of Obama’s fundraisers is gay. Now they’ll be toiling with tripled ardor, and Thursday’s huge Hollywood fundraiser hosted by George Clooney probably saw a last-minute surge in big contributions. Cynics suggest that the timing of Obama’s announcement that“ I’ve just concluded that– for me personally, it is important for me to go ahead and affirm that– I think same-sex couples should be able to get married” might had had something to do with that event.
I think gay marriage is an incredibly boring subject, though I do like to hear right-wingers say that it will bring the whole edifice of western civilization crashing down. It’s hard these days to find such messages of good cheer. I don’t yearn for such a union, so have no personal stake in the issue. Occasionally my gay friends tell me they’d got married, perhaps remembering my denunciations some years ago of the whole campaign for being essentially conservative.
So the liberal progressives glory in Obama’s “courage” and many a doubting heart about the President’s betrayals is lighter and more forgiving. Trashing the constitution, green-lighting torture, claiming the unilateral right to order the execution of anyone, anywhere on the planet… wiped clean off the windscreen.
Romney the Bully
Start with the classic schoolbully, Flashman, of Hughes’s Tom Brown’s Schooldays:
Flashman, be it said, was about seventeen years old, and big and strong of his age. He played well at all games where pluck wasn’t much wanted, and managed generally to keep up appearances where it was; and having a bluff, off-hand manner, which passed for heartiness, and considerable powers of being pleasant when he liked, went down with the school in general for a good fellow enough. Even in the School-house, by dint of his command of money, the constant supply of good things which he kept up, and his adroit toadyism, he had managed to make himself not only tolerated, but rather popular amongst his own contemporaries; …Flashman was a formidable enemy for small boys. This soon became plain enough. Flashman left no slander unspoken, and no deed undone, which could in any way hurt his victims, or isolate them from the rest of the house.
So now we find that while at Cranbrook, an elite prep school in Bloomfield Hills, Romney recruited a small gang to ambush a schoolboy called John Lauber who had died his hair bleached-blond. Led by Romney they threw him to the ground, and Romney forcibly trimmed his hair. Then, after this assault, they swaggered off in triumph to Romney’s room. Four of the ambushers contacted by the Washington Post remembered the episode with shame. Lauber died in 2004. In a chance encounter with another Cranbrook alumnuswho had witnessed the ambush Lauber said, “It was horrible….It’s something I have thought about a lot since then.”
Romney’s campaign initially said that the Gov hadn’t a mean bone in his body and it didn’t sound like him. Later Romney said he didn’t remember the incident but apologized for pranks he helped orchestrate that he said “might have gone too far.” By bullying standards of the early 1960s in some British schools, the Lauber episode was par for the course. Romney seems to have had a thing about hair. Later he organized another prank at Stanford which involved kidnapping some U.C. students, shaving their heads and painting their skulls red. There is a nasty streak in the man.I’m not surprised one of his kids ratted him out on the dog episode, which won’t go away because it symbolizes so much about the Mormon millionaire.
Atumbril (n.) a dung cart used for carrying manure, now associated with the transport of prisoners to the guillotine during the French Revolution
My brother Patrick sagely observes:
In the wake of the Hollande victory there may be excessive demand for tumbrils in Paris to cope with those partisans of the Sarkozy regime unwise enough to delay too long their flight across the Rhine or to the Channel ports. This is a frustrating time, of course, for Fouquier-Tinville, wishing to push ahead with his good work, but perhaps a moment also for reflection and even a more “nuanced” approach on his part. For instance were all those condemned in the past equally guilty? The phrase “bottom line” is overused, but is there an alternative carrying the same meaning? “Please come to a conclusion” sounds too starchy and dull, “Get on with it” too rude.. Perhaps there should be a separate category of words and phrases in danger of the fatal blade but might still be saved. There is “nuanced”, as used above, which was a perfectly good word until journalists started using it to suggest (with a slight touch of self-preening) that there might be more than one reason why something is happening. “Remnants” had been doing no harm until it was used in phrases like “the remnants of Saddam Hussein’s regime” or “al-Qa’ida remnants” to explain why people whom Washington had claimed were dead and buried still seemed to be in business. For F-T, surely, not just a challenge but an opportunity.