Monday, January 30, 2012

The State Within: A review

I get these reminders from time to time that I’m not very with it in the world of cinema, anymore.  If I ever was.  Even in my TV addict days, even though I didn’t watch everything that came across the screen, I generally knew what was going on.  But a couple days ago I came across The State Within, a six-hour TV series from 2006 I had never heard of, even though it was nominated for a Golden Globe.  I got so drawn in I watched it in just two nights.  If I could have stayed awake, I would have watched it in one.

It’s a BBC production.  Fast moving and cynical, a perfect combination of intrigue and timeliness.  The bad guys are Dick Cheney Halliburton Blackwater war profiteer types.  The good guys are the folks trying to work within the system to keep democracy from decaying entirely – or at least slow down the process till the world becomes sufficiently aware to build a grass roots movement to overcome corruption and government complicity in corporate empire building.

It’s entertainment with a punch.  If you are a progressive these days, this series will be just your cup of tea.  If you are an American exceptionalism advocate, this will be the kind of thing to get your blood boiling.  Not a movie for folks who attend Republican political conventions.

The Netflix reviews reveal how The State Within traces the cultural political divide.

Here’s a sample:

Five star reviews:

  • This show was well crafted, full of suspense, but required a bit of concentration to keep all of the separate pieces flowing-just how I like thrillers. Well done-maybe one of the best mini-series I have watched.
  • Now THIS is what films should be, tense, thrilling, convoluted, scary, and all the rest of the terms associated with an excellent story, acting, and production.
  • Overall its a brilliant political mystery and makes it superb to watch
  • BRAVO, BRAVO, BRAVO, BRAVO, BRAVO! BBC has said what has for years desperately needed said - all in a concisely packaged , well conceived, beautifully shot series.

No star or one star reviews:

  • I couldn't even get past episode 1. This is pure anti-American crap.
  • This is a great show with an exciting plot, typing brilliant British acting, ruined by the British inferiority complex manifesting as shrill, vapid anti-Americanism. I'm just not going to watch a show that goes out of its way to insult my country.

Two of the secondary characters are gay lovers.   One is a secret plant working for MI-6, the British CIA, within the British Embassy.  His lover is assistant to the American Secretary of Defense.  Since the story entails the tensions between the Brits and the Americans, this is a brilliant plot device for fanning the flames.  Yet those inclined to criticize the film often bypass the political tensions and get right to the homophobia:

  • If you like stories that push an agenda, this one pushes. It's one thing to show that two characters are homosexual, but it is quite another to show two men kissing for an inordinate amount of screen time (more than one nanosecond is already too much, thank you). And if you think that most military men,especially Americans, are just killers who shoot first and ask questions later, even if their victim is an innocent pregnant moslem women, then you will also find this politically correct drivel for you. The British are quite good at their "holier-than-thou" attitude. And P.S., we are not "conservative.
  • Disqusting homo-promo. If you have any moral decency you won't want to waste your time watching this trash.

The acting is superb.  Two characters face off – Jason Isaacs (The Patriot, Sweet November) plays Sir Mark Brydon, the British Ambassador to Washington, and Sharon Gless, as Lynne Warner, the American foul-mouthed ball-busting Minister of Defence, part Madeleine Albright, part Maggie Thatcher, part General Patton, except with more arrogance.  Each has a history – Mark helped set up the dictator in the fictional Central Asian Republic of Tyrgyztan (sounds like Kyrgyzstan, more closely resembles Turkmenistan or Uzbekistan) for the benefit of British and American private corporations who benefit in “nation building” following wars.  Now regretting his part in this he is focusing on putting things right.  His character is clearly modeled on a real British ambassador, Craig Murray who became embroiled in revealing human rights abuses in Uzbekistan, a move which got him fired.

Sharon Gless (Cagney and Lacey, Queer as Folk), as Lynne Warner, plays the mother of a son killed in Afghanistan.  She struggles with the personal dilemma of continuing to defend her husband’s financial interests in keeping cooperative dictators in power, and dealing with a gradual awareness that her son’s death might be connected to these efforts.

The real value of this series, besides its entertainment value, is its power to shine a light on the moral and political consequences of supporting dictators for short-term financial gain.  It speaks volumes that a full-frontal attack on American war-mongering could be launched by BBC productions.  If you have any loyalty left to the empire that America has become, you will want to disassociate yourself from this image of Bush/Cheney neocon America with its naked imperialist ambitions, and claim the America we remember as kids, personified by Superman, who always arrived in the nick of time to get you out of trouble.  The country that saved Europe first by joining the Second World War, then by the Marshall Plan.  The country beyond the jingoism, represented by kind hearts, gentle people, mom and apple pie. 

Today the enemies are no longer gangsters and the Russian juggernaut, but corporate America and the military industrial complex.  At least from this British perspective.  There is at least one American hero who comes through.  She’s a woman and a cop and she has all the good old American virtues of doggedness and the will to do the right thing.  But it’s touch and go all the way, and, without giving the ending away entirely, we end up with more questions than answers.

America is a hard place to be proud of these days.  The majority of Americans seem not to care about the millions of their countrymen without healthcare.   Over 80% of Americans acknowledge openly that our politicians sell themselves to the highest bidder.  Nearly half our kids live in poverty.  One in 100 of us is in jail.  1 in 11 African-Americans.

This is not the place for a litany of American woes.  But one should not miss the fact that they’re now making movies with Americans as the bad guys. 

You may want to follow the course of many critics of The State Within on Netflix and give the movie a one-star rating on jingoistic grounds.

But too many people are going to realize this is worth a whole lot more than one star.

And that means you’re in trouble.

Do read the Craig Murray story, if you get a chance:


Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Where the money goes

There’s an ABC article today on Romney’s practice of tithing to the Mormon Church.

According to ABC writers Matthew Mosk and Brian Ross, Romney’s family charity, called the Tyler Foundation,

has given more than $4 million to the church in the past five years, including $1.8 million in 2008 and $600,000 in 2009. But because Romney, whose fortune has been estimated at $250 million, has never released his personal tax returns, the full extent of his giving has never been public.

Fine. That’s his right as an American citizen. They do a lot of good with their money.

They also were the main out of state financial force behind Prop. 8. Our state Supreme Court in California determined there was no constitutional impediment to marrying someone of the same sex, and for a short while thousands of couples were able to marry who had not been able to before.

Then that right was taken away. Why? Because of a fear campaign – the gays are after your children, your children are going to be taught gay things in school, your children, your children, your children. One of the oldest and dirtiest tricks the homophobes have ever come up with, to tie in the minds of the uninformed the notion of homosexuality together with pederasty, despite all evidence that child molestation has absolutely nothing to do with homosexuality and everything to do with power and unhealthy sexual fixation of all kinds of people. Mostly heterosexual, because most of the population is heterosexual. The numbers are proportionate.

We in California had to sit here and watch money spill in like a tsunami from the coffers of Mormon churches in Utah. Over two and a half million dollars, 71% of which went to support for Prop. 8. They weren’t the only people buying lies. The Knights of Columbus did their share for the homophobic Catholic Church. But when you consider Utah's population...

According to Romney, “Mormon church authority is limited to the province of church affairs, and it ends where the affairs of the nation begin.”

Bullshit. Bullshit, bullshit, BULLSHIT.

This money went into influencing a referendum.
Into a fear campaign to sway an election that resulted in the loss of civil rights granted to a people two states away by their Supreme Court.

Newt Gingrich went over the line recently with that Bain Capital video. He got lots of facts wrong. Bain did some good by shutting down some tired old companies and freeing up money for new ones. But the part about lost jobs was true. And so was the astonishing amount of profits that would have gone to workers but now goes to shareholders.

You’ll have to forgive the fantasy. I see these dollar bills that might have gone to a worker in one of the plants Romney closed down but go to Romney in profits for his accomplishment. Which then go into the Mormon Church. Which then buys time in the media in the battle to prevent gays from marrying.

Not as bad as going into bombs to drop on a third world country. Not as bad as money in the Mafia’s pocket, perhaps. But money that passes through Christian hands that comes from taking away a person’s job and ends up taking away another person’s civil rights.

And we actually have to sit and listen to the voice of Romney on the evening news tell us the province of his church ends where the affairs of the nation begin, and not throw a rock through the TV.


Called and Recalled

One of the wonderful things about America’s constitutional approach to religion is that any damned fool can get a marriage license and marry you. You just go to the folks at Universal Life Church, send them ten bucks – it may be more now – and voilà, you’re a reverend kind of person.

That’s possible because the First Amendment reads:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
It’s that “free exercise” bit. The courts have determined over the years that that means no government agency can determine how religious bodies should run their affairs and, most recently, in Hosanna-Tabor Evangelical Lutheran Church and School v. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, who can be called a “minister.” And what you can do to that minister.

I’ll go straight to the bottom line. You can fire his ass if he looks at you cross-eyed, and there’s nothing he can do about it. Provided you can establish that your religion does not permit him or her to be cross-eyed. That’s the key. If your church thinks it’s OK to be cross-eyed but only you don’t, you have to let him keep his job. But if the whole church thinks there’s something wrong with being cross-eyed, well, be my guest.

Cheryl Perich worked for Hosanna-Tabor, a Missouri Synod Lutheran Church in Redford, Michigan as a “called” teacher. She led prayers, taught courses in religion, and did other religious duties, in addition to being a normal fourth grade teacher of non-religious subjects.
So what does “called” have to do with it? Well, 1 Corinthians 6:1 reads, “ Dare any of you, having a matter against another, go to law before the unjust, and not before the saints? That’s the King James version. The Weymouth Bible puts it this way: “If one of you has a grievance against an opponent, does he dare to go to law before irreligious men and not before God's people?”

Now Missouri Synod people take their scriptures seriously. They also divide their members into “lay” people and “called” people. If you’re “called” (by God and the congregation), and if you have taken the required number of courses in religion, you get to wear the title, “Minister of Religion, Commissioned. And that’s what Cheryl Perich was – a “called” member of Hosanna-Tabor.

And if you can be “called” you can also be “recalled” – which Cheryl was when she went on leave because of narcolepsy, came back and found they had hired a replacement, and tried to sue. Sue? They said. “Have you not read 1 Corinthians 6:1-7? You can’t sue and be a Lutheran!

Now I’ve just told this story in a slanted fashion, to show some sympathy toward Cheryl. Let me tell the same story from the church’s perspective. (My words, not a direct quotation, but I believe I’ve got my facts right.)

Cheryl, you were sick and we took care of you. We gave you several months off with full pay. We are a small congregation, and because we needed a teacher to replace you that was a big financial strain on us. On top of that, we combined several grades into one class, so it also took a toll on our eighty students and seven teachers. We hired a replacement because we could not be sure if you were coming back. For us to take you now would mean paying two salaries. And when we told you that, you said you would take us to court. Surely you realize a fundamental tenet of our church is that we handle religious matters internally (1 Corinthians 6:1-7) and do not take matters to court. Your aggressive response suggests to us that we need to recall you from your position.

Cheryl did take it to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission as an infraction of the Americans with Disabilities Act, and they took it to court. The first court decided in favor of the church on the grounds of “ministerial exception.” It then went to the 6th District Court, which vacated and remanded that decision, concluding that Perich didn’t qualify as a “minister.” And finally, Case #10-553, Hosanna-Tabor Evangelical Lutheran Church and School v. EEOC et al, was argued in the Supreme Court on October 5, 2011 and decided on January 11, 2012. You can read the decision here.

The Supreme Court decided, in keeping with the “Free Exercise” clause of the First Amendment, and with precedent, the government could not dictate what constitutes a “minister” – and how any religious body might discipline such a person.

But what about the conflict with all the civil rights laws? “Ministerial exception,” they said. And they made an interesting distinction, although I don’t know how far this will hold long term. If discrimination is part of a religious tenet, they said (cleverly avoiding use of the word “discrimination”), we have no say in how you apply it internally. If discrimination is practiced by an individual, we do. If the church, for example, says God wants men to be priests and women to take their orders from them, and that is doctrine, a woman cannot sue the church for discrimination. But if a church has Sunday School teachers who are both men and women, and the minister decides on his own to fire a woman teacher because of his personal belief that women should not work outside the home, then she has a case.

In the case in question, the Missouri Synod Church had established that taking things to court was against biblical principles, and anyone threatening to do that would only be demonstrating they were the wrong kind of person to be called to the ministry.

The Court took pains to state this decision was to apply narrowly to this case only, and left open the possibility of another decision if and when circumstances are different.

Conservatives are crowing all over the place. Great victory for religion!

Well yes, it is. Especially of the non-democratic ilk. And it’s a bitter pill to swallow for progressives. The ACLU, for example, an organization I send money to and am proud to be a member of. They, along with three religious organizations, the Unitarian Universalist Association, the National Council of Jewish Women and the Sikh Council on Religion and Education, and Americans United for Separation of Church and State got together to write an amicus brief in defense of Ms. Perich’s charges of discrimination. Their argument was that the so-called ministerial exception should apply to doctrinal issues only, and that this issue had to do with church leaders’ disapproval of Ms. Perich’s attitude and he behavior, and was not based on religious grounds. Which is how the Appeals Court decided. But they did not come up with a convincing explanation of how one would fight discrimination without stepping on the toes of bigoted religious groups that would satisfy the Supremes.

Most Americans, including most Roman Catholics, have long since come to share the enlightenment values of human equality. The majority of them have shed racism, sexism and homophobia. To differing degrees, to be sure, but the tendency is clear and unmistakable. They are way out ahead of their churches.

This decision has got to be particularly painful for the people of good will within retrograde organizations like the Catholic Church. I always think of them first, since they have the most money and use it, as they did in organizing and funding Prop. 8, but what applies to them applies to other groups equally well – Muslims, Southern Baptists, Orthodox Jews – with patriarchal traditions that have members trying valiantly to bring their spiritual homes into the modern world, and they cannot be happy with this turn of events.

One side of the coin is it’s a victory for religion. The other side of the same coin is the churches are being given enough rope to hang themselves with. If they take this “freedom from democratic values” too seriously, they could end up with pews filled with nothing but obedient sheep. Some think that would be nothing new, but they are missing the complex struggles the churches are going through over the question of authority.

I was confirmed in a Missouri Synod Lutheran Church. I left it. In my case, it was because the doctrines became increasingly silly to me as I became aware of how many religious bodies there were with alternate doctrines, equally silly. I left the religion before I left the church, long before I developed a feminist or gay consciousness, which would have made me flee with equal conviction if I had not already done so.

I don’t know what to suggest to those good people who stay to fight from inside. I want to help them, but I cannot see how the Supreme Court could have come to any other conclusion without treading on the Constitution. Churches can change. We saw them change on the subject of slavery, on the issue of who goes to heaven, who gets to take communion and how, on interracial marriage. The Mormons came to accept blacks even though anti-black racism is clearly written into their scriptures. The Christians came to accept Jews as not responsible as a body for the death of Christ despite centuries of church-centered anti-Semitism such as expressed by Martin Luther. It can be done, with or without government help. Don't forget how quickly the Mormons got rid of their polygamy (like racism, also founded in scripture) when they realized statehood for Utah depended on their doing so.

It is also being done in the Catholic Church and other so-called mainstream churches, in effect, but the hard way. Since the only way to oppose false doctrine is to leave the church, that's what's happening. Defections are at crisis level, a crisis that might be averted, ironically, if the government could help these progressive forces.

Under its current configuration, though, if the Court had gone the other way, and done away with the “ministerial exception,” it would bring down the Roman Catholic and all the other authoritarian religious organizations in the land. Every Catholic gay could sue for being labeled “socially disordered,” every Catholic woman would have a case of discrimination for being denied access to the clergy, the only real leadership positions. Much as I would celebrate watching this beast being taken out of its misery, I am not proud of these gut feelings. And I have to admit that a small part of me can still be persuaded there is something noble about those who would nurse it back to health instead.

So I stand with the Court. (No act of courage when the decision is 9-0.) We have no constitutional right to intervene, so we can’t participate in this healing project from outside the membership. The best we can do is agree not to beat the beast to death, like the Marxist-Leninists and Maoists tried to, and allow more heroic folk than ourselves to try to cure its ailments, remove its tumors, freshen its bad breath.

All power to them. Hope they succeed.


Tuesday, January 10, 2012

No Ordinary Man Need Apply

Look at what Americans are being treated to on the nightly news these days. Images of the very nice people of New Hampshire telling you they are trying to make up their minds who to vote for in the Republican primary. There’s Romney, the leading contender, a man who got rich shutting down companies and firing people. He’s trying to pass himself off as a job creator, and millions are willing to believe it. Then there’s Newt Gingrich, the man who led the battle to crucify Bill Clinton for sex with a woman who was not his wife at the same moment he was doing the same thing. It’s a toss-up whether Gingrich or Romney is the bigger liar. Then come two men whose strong suits are consistency and who don’t lie. Not so blatantly, at least. With Ron Paul, if you’re anti-war, you can think you’ve found your champion. Until you realize his anti-government notions, if taken seriously, would make it impossible to stop corporate pollution of the environment or pillaging of pension plans. He would also take us back to the time of segregation and argue if the majority of folks want it, it should stay on the books. Then there’s Rick Santorum, whose policies are indistinguishable from the Vatican’s. He would tell an 11-year old girl impregnated by her father that abortion is not an option. He would tell married gay people in six states that their licenses are being revoked. He would encourage local authorities to impose bans on birth control. And the good people of New Hampshire think he’s a fine man.

It isn’t hard any more for me to listen to Rick Santorum. I’ve gotten used to him, and I can console myself with the realization he plays a clown in America’s political theater. His mean provincial catholicism will run dry in short order.

What does bother me is the level of American discourse – first that these people are taken seriously and not laughed out of town by the media. And second, that people can say Rick Santorum is a nice man and completely miss the havoc he could wreak on thousands and thousands of lives.

While all this is going on, over in that other hemisphere, the one where all those socialists live, in this strange and (to Americans) baffling land called the Federal Republic of Germany, there is political discourse going on at a very different level. They are trying to decide whether to kick a president out of office.

While we are starting up the laborious process of electing a person to represent the nation, lead one of our political parties, and be in charge of the government, all simultaneously, Germany is acting out on the belief that these jobs must never be mixed up or performed by people with similar dispositions. The American way leads to impossible expectations. Our Leader has to be part Superman, part Daddy, part Human born free from sin. In most countries with divided roles, the free from sin expectations are placed on the representative of the nation – the Queen in Britain, the Emperor in Japan, the President in Germany. Prime Ministers, or Chancellors, as they are called in Germany, surprise no one when they get their hands dirty. I once thought this separation of jobs was pretty much a peachy keen idea. Still do. But it turns out it only works if the head of the nation really is free from sin. Mess it up and the consequences are pretty dire.

It’s not impeachment they’re facing but the possibility of resignation (Rücktritt) under pressure. If you think Bill Clinton’s adversaries were indignant when the word came out that he had gotten a blow job under the desk in the Oval Office, you ain’t seen nothing compared to the rage the Germans are in over the fact that their President used his office to get a low-interest loan.

OK, I exaggerate for effect. The real problem is that when this information got out, he left a threatening message on the answering machine of the magazine editor about to publish it. Low-interest loan plus media censorship still doesn’t bother Americans as much as a blow job, but it does the Germans. They’re waving shoes out in front of Bellevue Palace, the official residence, having learned the practice from watching Arabs show their disdain for George W. Bush.

Comedians are having a heyday. Talk shows are hauling out all the pundits to twist the scandal every which way from Sunday. And what you hear, loud and clear, is that Germans feel personally insulted. This office belongs to us, they are saying. He has sullied the office of President and in so doing cheapened the reputation of Germany.

This is even more serious than it sounds, because Wulff won the election a year and a half ago in large part due to the influence of Chancellor Angela Merkel and the leading coalition. If he goes, some are saying, her government could fall. Right now, when Germany is trying to manage the euro crisis in Greece, this is lousy timing.

For me, the angry debate is a breath of fresh air. I’d love to see President Christian Wulff move out of Bellevue and Joachim Gauck, the man I would have voted for, move in. Wulff represents the slick modern side of powerhouse Germany, Gauck the working class side that does the dirty work of cleaning up Germany’s lousy 20th century history – and this may be a reason Wulff got the job; people would like not to have to look at that history so much. The reason I say “fresh air,” though, is that the issues are real. Not the empty rhetoric of third-rate politicians, the fratricidal street-fighting of a once-grand old party on the skids, but a debate over whether the Germans can hold on to the dream that their national (not political) Leader is a man unlike ordinary men, and not just another dirty politician.


Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Missing the Woods for the Trees in Iowa

The Iowa caucuses seem to have nothing to do with winners. They don’t tell you who’s going to win the next presidential election, or even who’s going to run. They only tell you who the biggest losers are in the campaign to date, including the ones God told to run. Michele Bachmann went down the chute and most Americans are happy to see her go. Ditto the pizza man and that execution-happy governor of Texas.

If you stand far enough away from this rumble you can make the claim that this is democracy in action. There’s something truly appealing about watching folk sit around in diners looking presidential candidates in the eye and smelling their perfume and seeing the dandruff on their shoulders. One of my two favorite moments was watching Romney face what looked like a redneck who turned out to be a gay ex-serviceman who wanted to know why even though he risked his life for his country his legal spouse was not entitled to medical or burial benefits. The other was watching Michele Bachmann face the kid who wanted to tell her that his lesbian moms “didn’t need to be fixed,” even though I think the mom who put the kid up to it should be ashamed of herself.

If this was the whole story of the system of caucusing, it would make sense to crow, as I heard somebody do this morning, “Can you imagine this happening in Syria?”

No, of course, this kind of thing doesn’t happen in Syria, but who says Syria is what anybody should measure democracy by?

I’d like to think that the bright-eyed optimists who haven’t figured out yet that American democracy is on the rocks are right, and that the kind of free-for-all we have just witnessed in Iowa is a sign of the health of our democracy, and not of its corruption. After all, freedom of speech is tested when the most loathsome opinions are expressed aloud, not when current wisdom is asserted in a room full of nodding heads. Iowans who are white and fearful of blacks, evangelical and unused to critical thinking, straight and unable to distinguish between gays and child molesters have had their day. That’s all. It’s not the end of the world, or even of democracy.

Yes but, I want to say. Yes, but…

The already bad taste in my mouth from watching the caucuses the past few months crossed into fully spit-worthy last night when I tuned into two of the very few news programs I normally consider worth watching on television anymore, the PBS News Hour and Charlie Rose. I squirmed through both of them last night. Charlie Rose devoted half of his program to the Iowa Caucuses; the PBS News Hour blew their entire hour.

And on what? On the likes of Newt Gingrich, Ron Paul, Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum. Gingrich, the guy who would outdo Nixon as imperial president and shut down the Supreme Court. Mitt Romney, the guy who never took a position he couldn’t surrender when the winds changed. Ron Paul, the racist, homophobic, Christian Reconstructionist whose view of the role of government would have black Americans still living segregated from whites. As for Santorum…

Charlie Rose had several of his “usual suspects” on last night – Al Hunt, Rich Lowry, Joe Klein and Mark Halperin – people with an encyclopedic knowledge of the American political scene who can tell you who ran for Senate from South Carolina in 1968 and draw parallels in Iowa between Santorum this time and Huckabee four years ago. You sit, listen and learn on Charlie Rose.

Or so I always told myself. But what did I learn last night from Joe Klein, of Time Magazine? I learned that Santorum is “an honorable man who sometimes says dishonorable things.”

An honorable man? Really? Have we sunk this low, that honorable (“principled” is another word many slap onto Santorum) means nothing more than consistent?

Santorum, this dodo who blamed the exposure of the priest abuse problem on the fact that Boston was a liberal city, would use the power of the presidency to dissolve all gay marriages in the nation. He’d allow the states to make birth control illegal. He thinks the sickest people should pay the highest insurance premiums. He would lead the party of small government to look a teenage girl in the eye who was raped and impregnated by her father and tell her that the laws of her country required her to carry that baby and give birth to it. Are these just things that Santorum says?

These guys sat around tables, both at the PBS News Hour and on Charlie Rose last night without once mentioning that Americans were within shouting range of having this creep Santorum subject them to a religious ideology so alien to their own physical and psychological well-being that for some it would actually constitute torture.

And these talking heads went on and on about the horse race. Nothing about the millions of dollars being spent. Nothing about the lies upon lies the candidates were spreading about their fellow Republicans. Nothing about the fact that in a country where a third of the population lives in poverty we are devoting an entire program to the party of the superrich. And absolutely nothing about the fact that in a country of three hundred million people we were actually entertaining the notion that these were serious candidates we might get to lead us, the world's primary warring nation, for the next four years?

On and on they went, describing the trees, never once seeing the woods.

I suppose I ought to console myself with the idea that if they didn’t stop to consider the misery Santorum could visit on the lives of gays and women, they also didn’t consider that this whole pornographic adventure in Iowa means nothing, in the end, anyway. All much ado about nothing. A media one-ring circus without even make-believe elephants. Santorum polls no more than 4% nationally among Catholics. Only 3% among Republicans. He has all the weight of a fart in a whirlwind.

Not that you’d get that from listening to the pundits last night.

So much for the top of the line in media coverage of American democracy.