Too Busy: The Sexual Politics of the Presidential Crisis
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This has been George Bush's horrible, no-good, very bad week. Nothing could be worse- the President had to give up throwing the first pitch of the season.
His spokeswoman said he was "too busy" to make the game.
But W. has never been too busy for baseball in his entire life.
In past years, this was Bush's holiday. He was the first president, in '05, to do the honors in D.C. since the Senators left town after the '71 season. The Senators, of course, became the Texas Rangers, which Bush bought a chunk of in 1989. Sweet times, eh?
But you'd be "busy," too, if you were a President who feared the stadium crowd would boo and jeer your arrival.
"I've got a decision to make today. Do I go with the fastball or a slider?" Bush asked in 2005. Now he gets to choose whether he wants to appear in public with a bag over his head, or a Britney-wig.
George's dear friend, Attorney General Alberto "Fredo" Gonzales has also been very busy.
While Congress hounded him to account for the federal prosecutors who were fired on what appears to be " Mean-Girls" criteria, Gonzales refused to answer the indictments, and instead ... is on a national speaking tour to decry the horrors of child pornography.
I'm not going to quote what Gonzales has to say about "child porn," because his speech, all by itself, is a purple-prose, pornographic, exploitation rant. He could leave Andrea Dworkin speechless. I'm surprised no one in his audience decided to stop kiddie porn in its tracks by duct-taping Gonzales' mouth.
It's not enough to say his remarks were disingenuous; they're sickening. The Justice Department under Bush has not been an ally to abused and neglected children -- unless we're talking about block grants of Hot Air.
Ninety percent of reported child abuse cases take place in the home, between blood relatives, and there's no webcam involved. There may be bias to child abuse statistics, but everyone -- except political opportunists -- acknowledge that "hurting children" is largely an ugly and secretive family affair, one which Bush's DOJ has ignored. The issue has no partisan "gain" for them -- why bother?
Of course, the Executive Branch functionaries in charge of "helping families" are the folks at the Department of Health and Human Resources, but they are so busy demanding abstinence education, and trying to stop birth control, that they can't get around to the starving, burned, or beaten.
Let's say, for argument, that the Justice Department has a special priority: "Hey, we're going after global porn monsters here."
Even on their own parochial terms, the Justice Dept. has not hunted down the causes or perpetrators of human chattel, which is the basis for sexual exploitation of children. The label "child porn" is a frivolous, insulting, bargain-basement sales tag for what's really going on: a global, multi-age system of slave trafficing.
Let me quote an encyclopedia-style definition of slavery:
Slavery is a social-economic system under which certain persons -- known as slaves -- are deprived of personal freedom and compelled to perform labor or services.
Slaves are held against their will from the time of their capture, purchase, or birth, and are deprived of the right to leave, to refuse to work, or to receive compensation in return for their labor.
Chattel slavery is the absolute legal ownership of a person or persons, including the legal right to buy and sell them.
Not very sexy, huh? But t hat's what this is all about. Pimping young people on camera doesn't exist separately from the economic tit of human degradation. It's not the frisson of a MySpace page that is driving young people into literal bondage. Our President's policies trivialize human traffiking to exploit the issue as a "pornography beef" -- and who's calling him on it?
As many observers have pointed out, the Rovian Era of presidential politics is to gut every federal "helping hand" and then transform what's left into a propaganda arm for fatuous rightwing causes -- the more loony and "sexy," the better.
Since the day the Moral Majority got its Ralph-Reed milk teeth into the base fears of sexual repression, we have seen the America's political leadership throw everything they've got at sex-fear mongering:
"Why do we go to war?"
Because we're not PUSSIES.
"Why is corporate crime no big deal?"
Because CHILD PORN is destroying America.
"What's the most important moral question facing the country?"
"What's the problem with public education today?"
QUEER LIBERALS are passing out CONDOMS.
Do you know what the eight fired prosecutors have in common?
All of them declined to press obscenity charges on cases that the DOJ was desperately running up a flagpole without success.
Now, why? -- since we know these prosecutors are Republicans who would love to win a solid case -- why would they frown on pursuing such obscenity charges?
Bush's DOJ Porno Task Force told the prosecutors to go after X-rated entertainment companies who make adult, consensual productions-grown-ups with contracts! This time, the focus was supposed to be on subject material like piss, scat, bestiality, and... S/M. They were counting on a big "ick" factor!
But the Super-8 aren't all that stupid, and they know what happens in obscenity trials when you go after the 1st Amendment. They could paper the White House with case history. They won't chase these clown cars, because, as Paulie Walnuts might put it, "they're weak, they're out of control, and... an embarrassment to yourself and everyone else."
What the hell is an "S/M" video, after all? Are you going to go after Hollywood for releasing 9 1/2 Weeks? Any defense lawyer worth his salt is going to bring in Pasolini's Salo, portraits of Abu Gharib victims, and documentaries on cattle insemination to pose the question: What is context? What about taste? What crime has been committed? Legitimate film producers, be they "adult," mainstream, or hybrid, are not going to take it lying down.
You know when President Reagan went after porn in the 80s, he told his Attorney General, Edwin Meese, to focus on gay sex, anal sex, and black-white couples -- and to charge them in Texas. And it still backfired.
Here's the rule of thumb: whatever the DOJ wants to prosecute as obscenity is an unfortunate snapshot of the dirty mind that wrote the memo.
If DOJ super-porn-cops like Brent Ward want to get in the witness box and talk about the S/M scenes that make him piss in his pants, hand him the rope. This is a guy who tried to pass a law that would make art-school models wear bikinis.
But when the jury listens, the obscenity-prosecutors lose, because it is impossible to keep a jury together on the pained assumptions of fundamentalist, sexist, racist hysterics.
Unfortunately, you haven't been able to say the same thing about American voters. The prudery-floggers have been able to whip up their beloved base in every election, mobilizing voters to punch a ticket for their sexual neuroses instead of their economic, environmental, or knowledge-based self-interest.
Have we finally reached voter-porn-fatigue, or is it just a lull? Is reality intruding -- and for how long?
Who can forget journalist Ron Suskind's priceless story in 2004 where he talked with Bush's senior adviser, at the height of the White House's conceit?
The [adviser] said that guys like me were "in what we call the reality-based community'' -- which he defined as "people who believe that solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality.''
I nodded and murmured something about enlightenment principles and empiricism.
He cut me off. ''That's not the way the world works anymore,'' he continued. ''We're an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you're studying that reality- judiciously, as you will- we'll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that's how things will sort out.
We're history's actors... and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do."
Hmmm... reality. The middle class stripped to a barrel, the poor sent to die abroad, the US rudderless, internationally. So much blood on our hands, Lady Macbeth looks like an American Idol contestant.
Can any amount of political smut-mongering and queer-baiting pull us out of the reality hole? "I fell through a hole in the flag...... heeelp!"
Ben Franklin designed our first penny with his favorite expression, "Mind Your Business." It was taken as a statement of respect for privacy, as well as minding your own store.
There's a kind of "busy," when you're taking care of your family and your community- and there's the other kind of "busy," when you're poking your nose where it doesn't belong, because of your vanity and greed.
Smut-baiting needs to be seen, and called out, as the kind of "busy" that no one's going to tolerate anymore.
It's a disgrace that the White House panders "child porn" panics with such deceit and indifference that they have succeeded in making people's eyes glaze over an issue that ought to turn anyone into a pillar of salt.
They've gone beyond shame, they've dragged us into "numb," and now George is hiding in his fantasy baseball league because he can't take the heat in Reality Stadium. I can't wait to see what happens when he really gets preoccupied.