Thursday, October 30, 2008

"I now pronounce you Husband and...uh...The Other Guy."

Here in beautiful sun-stroked California, voters go to the polls on Tuesday and decide on the fate of gay marriage. If enacted, Proposition 8 prohibits same-sex unions, making it confusing for either side because voters supporting same-sex unions must vote "no" while opponents need to mark the "yes" box.

Frankly, I thought we decided this one once and for all. Same-sex marriage passed the CA State Supreme Court back in May. The Court found banning marriage on the basis of gender violates equal protection laws. The ruling also makes discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation virtually indefensible.

Okay, so California has a same-sex marriage law. Now comes this proposition funded largely by the Mormon Church and other out-of-state conservative groups. This is where I'm puzzled.

In my last post, I discussed the conservative movement as advocating a weak central government with greater powers delegated to the states. Theoretically, greater "states rights" gives you and your neighbor the opportunity to govern yourself as you see fit. Since our country is a physically large "melting pot," certain legislation passed by the federal government might be inappropriate in some regions due to climatic differences or local custom. That's the theory anyway.

Since the founding of our country, each state makes its own marriage laws. Interesting how conservatives from other states want to violate our state's right to adjudicate marriage as we see fit just because they don't like Adam and Steve getting hitched.

Driving around LA, I see bumper stickers urging a "yes" vote to "restore marriage." Organized street-corner demonstrations ask motorists for a "honk to preserve marriage." I'm all for preserving and restoring marriage. Perhaps those supporting Proposition 8 should think about restoring and preserving their own marriages before they dictate to others.

In this great land of ours we like to call This Great Land Of Ours, Holy Mortal Wedlock gets the stuffing beaten out of it every minute of every day. Statistically, a few more than half of all marriages end in divorce. 70 percent of all married people admit to stepping out on their partners at least once. So a great majority of married people don't care really about the sanctity of marriage until Adam and Steve decide they want to cement their relationship and exploit the tax advantages. Now everybody's in a rush to preserve good ol' marriage.

Here's some unsolicited advice: Before sticking one's nose into other people's marriages, one might want to ensure one's own marriage is wired nice and tight.

I gave this proposition a good going over before opposing it. I realize there are very few marriages I care about. First and foremost is my own. Am I being the best husband I can be to my wife? Is there anything I can do to improve my own marriage? Right now, I hear my wife yelling, "Make more money!" in my head.

I care about the marriages of my family and friends. I hope everyone is happy and well. If I don't know you, I waste not one moment thinking about the state of your union. So if I don't care about the marriages of strangers, why should I care about who (or what) they marry?

Besides, I don't believe for a minute that gay couples hold Holy Mortal Wedlock in any higher esteem than the rest of us. So gird yourself for the spectacle of same-sex divorce. Talk about Must-See TV! I can see it now...

Gay Divorce Court. A combination of regular Divorce Court and Antiques Roadshow. Each contestant states a reason why he should be the recipient of each piece of community property. Tears are encouraged. The combination of best story and the closest guess at the item's value wins the item. Oh the pageantry! Oh the savagery! Oh the ratings!

See, there's an upside to everything. Hey, if Adam and Steve invite me to their wedding, I'm going. I'm sure it will be very tasteful.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Noah Webster Spins

There's an old saying about religion and politics not being suitable topics for polite conversation. Which is why I'll cover them straight away.

First, I want to thank Newt Gingrich and Lee Atwater for fouling the waters regarding the use of the word "liberal" as if it were profanity. I admire their success at changing the meaning of the word completely. They took a simple political philosophy and turned it into a euphemism for all of society's most loathsome traits.

This from the duo that brought us Willie Horton. If you recall, ol' Willie was a repeat offender released from Walpole prison during Micheal Dukakis' reign as Massachusetts' Governor. Mr. Horton committed more crimes after his release so he became the lens through which the Republicans burned Mr. Dukakis beyond recognition. Never mind George Bush Sr. releasing at least a dozen Willie Hortons during his tenure in Texas. We only remember the original Willie but I digress.

The ever-expanding definitions of the terms “liberal” and “conservative” do a great injustice to the majority of Americans whose personal beliefs defy simplistic attempts at categorizing them as either. Both sides manipulate a very simple concept by adding religion and lifestyle considerations having nothing to do with the meaning of either word.

The classic political definitions of liberal and conservative pertain only to the role of government in people's lives. Liberals believe a strong central government can be a positive force for good while conservatives want the federal government limited to maintaining infrastructure and the military. Both views are important for checks and balances. All the other stuff about churchgoing, "family values," the Bible, etc is irrelevant. For instance, true liberalism and conservatism have nothing to do with one's stance on gay marriage. It has everything to do with one's stance on a separate gay marriage bureau.

The way I see it, there is one main difference between today's liberals and conservatives. Liberals will spend more than the country makes, then raise taxes until we pay it off. Conservatives will spend more than the country makes, then weasel out of paying anything off until the dollar is worth nothing and our kids foot the bill. The national debt broke records during the last three Republican presidential administrations. What's conservative about that?

Neo-conservatives coined the phrase “tax-and-spend liberal” to bridge the gap between what liberalism really means and what they want America to believe it means. They also know tax-and-spend liberal sounds a lot catchier than don’t-tax-but-spend-even-more conservative. A "conservative" friend once told me, "It's not how much money you have, it's how much money you can borrow."

The lifestyles of many so-called conservatives are hardly that. How can one be called a conservative while ransacking one’s company to support a totally unsupportable lifestyle? These people live like there's no tomorrow. Is that a "conservative" value? Liberals go to church, worry about their kids, and hate wasting money just like conservatives do. They also believe money for the GI Bill and after-school programs for kids is money well spent.

Here's my new rule: If conservatives want to co-opt every worthwhile value in America, they should actually conserve something. A natural resource would be nice. Maybe cutting out cowboying around with the military would be a good thing. Many people identifying themselves as conservatives want disaster relief, help with college loans, and protection against tainted food and dangerous drugs. Sounds pretty liberal to me.

For what it's worth I am registered as a non-partisan moderate who leans ever so slightly to the left these days. Sometimes I lean to the right. Right now, the left is more right than the right so that's where you'll find me.

I had to laugh when Senator McCain called Barack Obama's economic policies "socialist." Especially after he himself just signed a bailout bill giving the US government an equity stake in some private institutions. When it comes to sharing their debt, the right switch hits.

Please remove your shoes before entering this blog

Thank you. The carpets here are brand new and I'd like to keep them that way as long as possible. Now that that's settled, thank you for for joining me here on this server located somewhere near Peshawar I'm sure. If you're unsure of Peshawar's location, get out your world map and find a country with cheap labor that hates us. Peshawar will be pretty close.

By the way, if you like acerbic humor, keep it parked right here.

Meanwhile, I was born in New Haven, CT, heretofore known as NooHavn (just say it really fast and run it all together). While I love my New England roots, there are few opportunities there for people who make noises for a living so I headed west seeking fame and fortune in the hardest subgroup of the hardest industry to crash. Yes, you guessed it: The Entertainment Industry in general and voice-over in particular.

I call this blog Notes from the Outpost because I feel like the westernmost office of the east coast. Certain sociological aspects of west coast society elude me still, especially the parts involving the aforementioned Entertainment Industry.

Picture if you will the world's largest high school. Everything important in high school is important here too. Who has the nicest car, the most stuff, who's dating the captain of the basketball team or the captain of the cheerleading squad all have parallels amongst the showfolk here in LA. Having said that, the grand majority of folks here are focused, hardworking and intelligent. However, one never hears about them. Just like in high school.

Los Angeles is a study of extremes. The nicest people I ever met reside here. The biggest jerks I ever met reside here too. God help you if one of them lives next door. The jerks here are world class.

On the east coast, altering your property requires variances from pretty much everyone in your town. In LA, I wouldn't bat an eye if someone erected a nuclear missile silo in my neighborhood without asking first. A good friend of mine bought a house in the Hollywood Hills with a spectacular close-up view of the Hollywood sign. A couple years later, someone bought the lot next door, tore down the original house, raised the lot level six feet, then built a house stretching from one side of the lot to the other. So the spectacular Hollywood sign view is no more. However, I understand the sound effects emanating from the neighbor's bathroom are quite striking.

Right now, there is a jerk in your town drinking his or her morning coffee thinking, "You know, this little town of mine can't possibly contain the entirety of my jerk-ness......I think I'll move to LA."

I spent 33 years in New England and never used the term "unmitigated gall" once. Since moving here in 1989, the term tumbles off the tongue quite a few times a week on average. Unfortunately, a few world-class asses resonate far more greatly than thousands of cool folks.

The average Angeleno is totally immune to the comedic possibilities contained in healthy cynicism. Remarks sparking howls of laughter in people who live where it actually rains once in awhile elicit responses here like, "Oh your so negative. Can't you say anything positive?"

Yes I can but it wouldn't be anywhere near as funny.

So what's the allure then? Los Angeles is the only city of its size in the world with a national park running through it (Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area). The city is ringed with national parks and forests. I can jump in the car, drive to a trailhead and summit an 11,500 foot mountain. The Pacific Ocean is minutes away. You can ski and surf on the same day. Or lay in your sleeping bag in the middle of the desert and watch for meteorites. Or walk across a dry lake bed and find meteorites. There are about 30 million legit theaters, art galleries, museums, music and comedy clubs with world-class entertainment. Somebody stop me. People who don't find something to like about LA spend way too much time looking at their shoes.

LA is where I met my beautiful wife. She is a Marin County girl and the most reasonable human being I've ever known. LA is where I am lucky enough to experience great career highs. There are crashing lows too, sometimes within minutes of the highs. Those are stories for another time. Before I tell them, I have bigger fish to fry....