Monday, October 31, 2005

Orson Scott Card (3)

After performing a Google Search on Hypocrites of Homosexuality Orson Scott Card  I hit on a plethora of blogs, netlogs, message lists, and the like thoroughly discussing both the original essay and the followup, Homosexual "Marriage" and Civilization, written in February of last year (2004).  One site, Frankenblog, does an excellent job of parsing the logic and lack of it in both essays, exposing the language which is inflammatory and cruel.  Another message list, Aint it Cool News has a lively debate about the same.  There have been quite a few comic book sites dealing with these issues as well.  Apparently OSC has been hired to write Ultimate Iron Man for Marvel Comics. 

I find the arguments of the few who cannot see the bigotry inherent in the essays remarkable and interesting.  They do not see the minimization of our relationships, the demonizing of a whole group of people, the comparisons with children and the insane, the advocation of selective imposition of the law to silence those who aren't discreet.  That particular idea is very troubling.  What is the definition of indiscreet?  Card never says.  Who would decide?  The police?  And finally his assertion that people who choose to be or are different cannot be permitted to remain as acceptable, equal citizens within that society.

I don't understand how people cannot see such language as anything other than bigoted.  Note here that I'm not going to call OSC a bigot or a homophobe.  I agree with him that such terms are bandied about without thought.  I disagree with him about the reason such epithets are used.  He believes that they are used to victimize him and squelch his speech.  I believe that people call him such things as a way of venting their outrage.  They feel real pain upon reading his essays and they retaliate.  They reduce him to a concept rather than a flawed human being.  I don't want to make that same mistake. 

But my own outrage is fueled primarily because I feel duped.  I loved his books, especially Songmaster.  I thought "here is someone who understands  the gay psyche."  I still believe that to be the case.  He can't have fooled me, it was very true.  He wasn't making it up.  Is Orson Scott Card really gay?  Who knows.  He must have at least visualized the gay relationship in Songmaster.  He has stated elsewhere that he has been thought to be queer himself.  The worst homophobes are always the closest to the closet.  Normal straight people really don't care this much.

Halloween Irony

File this one under "Irony to the point of absurdity": Pastor electrocuted while performing a baptism.

One doesn't want to be observed chuckling at such things, but it's very difficult to master the impulse. 

How do I hate Halloween?  Let me count the ways....  I just got a visit from the crocodile hunter.  Krikey!  Earlier there have been witches, marines in camoflage, the CSI investigation team, a dirty ape from Planet of the Apes, and horror upon horrors, even a lawyer or two. 

I myself have come as Orange Juice.  I have a fedora, hornrimmed spectacles, orange ribbons hanging from my sideburns and an orange shawl.  Sometimes I can be heard to exclaim, "Oy jay!"  If only I could have figured out a way to get circumcision worked in.  However, that might have taken the joke into the realm of bad taste, so I'm happy this way.  The problem with being orange is that everyone thinks that I'm a pumpkin, a Hasidic pumpkin, but a pumpkin.  Once I tell them what I am I usually get a pretty big laugh. 

Friday, October 28, 2005

Orson Scott Card (2)

Yesterday I was too close to the boiling point and I don't feel that I supported my opinions well enough to be persuasive.  Let's look over The Hypocrites of Homosexuality and parse out why it's so offensive.  Clearly Card doesn't understand why it is offensive since he evinces confusion over opposition to its content.  Perhaps those well-intentioned souls among my readers might read the essay and think that Card "hates the sin and loves the sinner."  While that may be true, as he claims, there is far more in the essay that establishes proof of a mind enmeshed in bigotry.

First, I will stipulate to the fact that 90 percent of The H of H is concerned exclusively with the policies of the LDS church.  I don't give a rat's ass what the LDS church thinks and never will.  They are perfectly free to believe whatever nonsense they wish and require their membership to believe the same.  No.  I'm concerned with the 10 percent of the essay that deals with "the polity" as Card calls it, the role of homosexuals within the larger society, American society. 

I did learn that for most of them their highest allegiance was to their membership in the community that gave them access to sex.

Here Card reduces our relationships to merely the quest for sex.  This diminishes our lives and relationships, dehumanizes us, and is patently offensive.  It is also intellectually disingenuous as the very same thing could be said about his membership in the LDS community.  And how would he react if someone reduced his community to merely a group of people who gave each other access to sex?

In paragraph 9, Card compares gays (I simply cannot continue to use the term "homosexual") to children and the mentally ill.  We are either immature or insane.  This is the modern way of demonizing us, and it is intellectually disingenuous.

In paragraph 12, Card goes off track completely, taking his argument out of the LDS church and into society at large.  Here is where his argument must be forcefully engaged. 

This applies also to the polity, the citizens at large. Laws against homosexual behavior should remain on the books, not to be indiscriminately enforced against anyone who happens to be caught violating them, but to be used when necessary to send a clear message that those whoflagrantly violate society's regulation of sexual behavior cannot be permitted to remain as acceptable, equal citizens within that society.

Obviously his essay was written before the most recent ruling by the Supreme Court in Lawrence v. Texas, but nevertheless sodomy statutes were uninforceable and unconstitutional then just as they are now.  He should have known better.  Furthermore, he advocates using laws selectively in order to quell the First Amendment Rights of those who disagree with the view of the majority.

The goal of the polity is not to put homosexuals in jail. The goal is to discourage people from engaging in homosexual practices in the first place, and, when they nevertheless proceed in their homosexual behavior, to encourage them to do so discreetly, so as not to shake the confidence of the community in the polity's ability to provide rules for safe, stable, dependable marriage and family relationships.

Again, Card is advocating using the awesome power of the government to control the thoughts and behavior of people with whom he disagrees.  He places some people's relationships ahead of, or better than, others.  This is unAmerican.  Our system provides equanimity for everyone.  He further advocates using law to squash the First Amendment rights of those with whom he disagrees.  Be discreet, or else go to the slammer.

The rest of his dissertation can easily be dismissed as self-serving sophistry.  His real aim, I suggest, was to represent himself as a mainstream member of the LDS church.  Doubtless Songmaster raised more than a few eyebrows in Salt Lake City.  There were parts of that novel which dealt compassionately with homosexuality.  When I first read it, and had no inkling of Card's religion or religiosity, I was quite moved.  I found it sympathetic to gay sensibilities.  I believe that with his essay, Card is trying to distance himself from that book, and to justify why he was so kind to his gay characters (kind?--one of them commits suicide by eating a towel) and reassure the Mormon hierarchy that he's one of the faithful.  I believe this was why he wrote this screed, and that is at the minimum a dual motive, if not pure hypocrisy.

Fortunately for me, I grew up in the Lutheran church, a church from which you cannot be excommunicated (that I know of).  It has a far less rigid hierarchical authority than the LDS church.  I find it frankly amazing that Card uses scriptures to justify his trope against gays while ignoring the following passage:

Galatians 1:8-9

8But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let him be eternally condemned! 9As we have already said, so now I say again: If anybody is preaching to you a gospel other than what you accepted, let him be eternally condemned!

the Angel Moroni, anyone?

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Orson Scott Card=Homophobia

Homophobia is defined as the neurotic fear of homosexuals.  For most people this means gay bashing.  Intellectual writers such as Orson Scott Card hide their neurotic fear behind a bevvy of fine words meant to project their own sin onto others.  It is thus my mission to acquaint fans of his fiction with his vile manifesto called "The Hypocrites of Homosexuality" which can be found here.  Note how he spends half the essay saying that homosexuals who have any kind of self esteem must be shunned, while the rest of his cant is a screed of whining and kvetching about catching heat for his loathsome viewpoint. 

His "religion" has no tolerance for debate, no room for any but the most authoritarian viewpoint.  All must bow to the will, not only of God, but of their graven image: The Prophet.

His essay is the moral equivalent of "The Eternal Jew" or Wagner's "Jews in Music."  My mere words cannot express how loathsome I find his viewpoints.  I find that most of those who are acquainted with this essay turn away from their admiration of his fiction.  Like Wagner he may be a completely repugnant polemicist, but an artist of surpassing merit.  However, I do not have to stomach it.


Intelligent Design

"Intelligent design holds that the universe is so complex it must have been created by some kind of higher intelligence."

Similar reasoning has frequently been displayed by various advocates of the theories that any one of a dozen intellectuals of the renaissance authored Shakespeare's plays, rather than the Bard himself.

None of these people seem to grasp the concept of Occam's Razor when it comes to science or literary criticism.  Oh, wait a sec, that's it!!! William of Ockham wrote Shakespeare's plays!  Eureka. 

Karma (1)

What goes around comes around.  Looks like the Bush Administration's dirty tricks policies are at last reaping bitter fruit.  There's no way they'll be able to smear their way out of this one.  We can only hope that tomorrow brings indictments aplenty for this gang of criminals.  May they go down in Plames. 

Wednesday, October 26, 2005


Back from Surrey with an incredible desire to go forward and write, write, write and publish, publish, publish.

I met Donald Maass, the powerhouse literary agent who has seminars all across the country concerning writing the breakout novel.  That's the title of his book: Writing the Breakout Novel.  He signed my copy with the following epigraph: "Tension on every page."  His workshop on pacing echoed that sentiment.  You can always try to rephrase a sentence to evoke more tension.  Each and every sentence in your novel.

I was invited to send samples to two editors.  I've tried sending to Donald Weise at Carroll & Graf, but his e-mail doesn't seem to be working.  I called to confirm his e-mail address and left a message.  I guess I'll have to send hard-copy. 

The experience was tremendous.  I can't wait until next year.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Wish List (2)

Back in the day, when I was poor, I used to create Wish Lists.  I'm still not rich by any means, but I can do things financially that I wasn't capable of 10 years ago: such as pay a mortgage, invest in a 401(k), etc.  Yet with those items in my financial portfolio, cash flow is just as slender as it was when I was poor.  So, I'm going back to the practice of creating a wish list.  The wish list gave me time to think about major purchases and decide what was most important.  Very often large ticket items got pushed to the background and items with smaller price-tags moved forward.  This is as it should be.  When wants are wants, a feeling of deprivation occurs if you save money until it hurts--then you start getting into the Scrooge mentality--an outlook on life that there isn't enough, that one must hoard in order to survive.  It's a very limited way to live. 

Keeping a Wish List is a very enlightening method of determining value.  You contemplate these future purchases with an eye toward what is the most important--what most resembles a need.  Those get resolved first.  Then you can further contemplate purchases, and some may fall away, cease to be needs or wants.  They can be removed from the list.  I've gone back and forth about getting a new car for several years.  I want something with front wheel drive and more cargo space.  But my T-Bird is gorgeous, fit, and has 20 more years of life in her.  The desire for front wheel drive is based on experiences I suffered more than 10 years ago, when snow was much more typical in Seattle.  Specifically the blizzard of 1989, when we got 21 inches of snow and people abandoned their cars on the freeways, etc.  We don't have weather like that any more, or very, very rarely. 

The cargo issue is valid, but I can always walk down to the bottom of the hill and rent a truck from U-Haul, which is less than a 1/2 mile from my home. 

These are the ways in which I must try to resist the urge to hoard.  For example, the Ipod at the top of my list has been in my mind for the past year.  It would be compatible with my audio book club, and would replace my portable CD players and my portable tape players.  It is a much better solution than MP3s on a CD, which roll and skip and aren't very useful. 

Whenever a desire lasts for more than a year, I realizethat these are not about to go away.  I need to pay attention to them.  They speak to something deeper than a mere impulse purchase.  I can rest assured that it is not a toxic purchase.

I can get drunk on money and spending as easily as I can on a bottle of Jim Beam.  One must be very careful. 

Money is, after all, divine.  The first money was coined (minted) at the Temple of Juno Moneta in Rome.  Moneta means "advisor" or "warner" and refers to an ancient legend wherein Juno's sacred geese warned of an impending Gaulist attack.  Later money was minted and treasured at the Temple of Juno Moneta, and Juno became goddess of coin/money.  The word "money" comes to us from Latin through French.

Money in the United States is also spiritual in nature.  Annuit Coeptis means "He (God) has favored our undertaking."  What better motto to put on money?  One should always be mindful of doing God's will with money.  Money, philosophically and literally, is power.

So I'm not ashamed that I nitter and natter and kvetch about what to buy.  My parents instilled in me the value of money.  And I'm grateful for that.

And the best thing about a wish list, is that you cross off the items which you spend your money on.  And soon, perhaps sooner than you imagine, the there are more cross-offs than remaining items.  And that can give you a real feeling of accomplishment.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Wish List (1)

My Wish List:

1.  Video Ipod (white? black? Help me decide)
     And all the accessories...:)
2.  Quicken Deluxe 2006
3.  Endurapro 104 (Buckling spring keyboard, with the integrated stick mouse)
4.  37" Sharp Aquos flat screen tv.
5.  Pen case
(to be continued ....) 

Writing Instruments

Let's face it.  I am triple-extra large.  At 6 feet, 8 inches and 300 pounds, I have special size needs when it comes to most things others take for granted, such as clothes, furniture, and, believe it or not, keyboards.  My favorite keyboard, beating out even the old Northgate keyboard, is the IBM AT/PS2 Buckling Spring.  This used to be sold by IBM as the "Enhanced" keyboard.  This type of technology gives an audible click when the key is struck and when it releases.  So, the keyboards are noisy.  However, this can be turned to one's advantage, especially at work, because you can be heard being productive.  The springy feel of the keyboard is just right for people like me, who began their typing life on electric typewriters.  The keys are also larger and spaced more appropriately for my hands than smaller keyboards, particularly those on laptops. 

Unfortunately, IBM/Lenovo no longer manufactures these keyboards.  But demand is high enough that a company named Unicomp bought the technology and has continued to manufacture the keyboards.  At home I still use my IBM Enhanced keyboard for writing, though I use my Microsoft cordless for surfing. 

I also like to write long-hand from time to time.  This rarely amounts to more than jotting down ideas, but sometimes I'll sketch out rough scenes.  When I'm writing long hand it is almost exclusively description or scene setting, the more poetic part of fiction writing.  When I'm writing action or dialogue nothing works better than the keyboard.

For long hand writing I prefer the Waterman Phileas rollerball pen with a Pilot G2 Gel insert.  (The Pilot inserts fit nicely into the Waterman Phileas, and they're one-third the price).  G2 Gel ink is quite simply the best ink on the market for writing.  Smooth, black and doesn't bleed. 

Having the proper instrument enhances productivity if not creativity.  While I have very specific opinions about Pens and Keyboards, my attitudes toward paper are not as well defined.  I like to use the brightest white I can find, with the best cotton mix, with no watermark.  My favorite right now is the Hewlett Packard Ultra White Ink Jet paper.  I use inkjet paper in my laser printer as well, because it is slightly stiffer than xero-copy paper, and doesn't curl as much.

Happy writing!

Monday, October 17, 2005

Anne Perry

This weekend I'm off to the Surrey International Writer's Conference in metropolitan Vancouver, British Columbia.  One of the scheduled guests of the conference is British mystery novelist Anne Perry, the pen name of Juliet Hulme, who with her best friend Pauline Parker, conspired to and murdered Pauline's mother in 1954 in New Zealand.  Both Hulme (Perry) and Parker went to prison, Hulme for 5 years, and Parker for 10.  One of the conditions of release is that Hulme and Parker never have contact with each other for the remainder of their lives.  A condition which clearly would be unconstitutional in the United States, but this was New Zealand.

Hulme returned to the British Isles and faded into obscurity.  But then, in 1979, Anne Perry began publishing a series of Victorian novels which quickly became quite successful.  Fifteen years later, when Peter Jackson and Fran Walsh revived interest in the original case with their film Heavenly Creatures, the whereabouts of Juliet Hulme were traced back to Scotland, and it was revealed that the very successful novelist Anne Perry was, in fact, the girl in question.

Attitudes toward crimes such as Anne Perry's (Juliet Hulme's) are different in America than in the rest of the Western world. An apt comparison would be if Caryl Ann Fugate had gone on to be a successful novelist under a pen-name and was exposed well into her career. I'm pretty sure that would have ended it. While I have human compassion toward Anne Perry (she has repented, she has paid her debt to society, she has not profited from her notoriety, and she has shown remorse), will I be able to be in the same room with her and not think, "there sits a murderer?" Doubtful.

Remember what happened to Michael Skakel? His crime of murdering Martha Moxley also happened when he was 15 years of age. (Not exactly a parallel because Skakel evaded justice for so long). But that resulted in a life sentence. All I'm saying is that in America, we have less tolerance for mitigating factors such as youth than other nations do. It recently took the Supreme Court to rule that offenders younger than 18 could no longer be put to death. The youngest person ever put to death in the United States was 10 years old (and that happened *after* World War II). When the Europeans got rid of all their fundamentalist Christians in the 1700s the whole lot of them moved over  here.

Nevertheless, Perry is more of a magnet for criticism because she is famous and successful.  Had she lived out the rest of her life in obscurity, people wouldn't be so up in arms.  But because she had the temerity to discover and nurture her own talent she is now an object of fierce debate.   The debate would not exist if she hadn't become somewhat famous in her own right.  And that in itself is hypocrisy.  However, I myself am a guilt monger regardless of status.

Much of my fiction is fueled by guilt over past bad acts, so I find this particular story endlessly fascinating.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

The Pen and the Sword United

Again, I cannot shake the image of Paul Schrader's haunting film Mishima from my mind, nor can I stop contemplating Mishima's ritual suicide.  This is bordering on obsession.  Was the act a poetic gesture of the unification of pen and sword, an expression of bushido, a strict adherence to ethical behavior in the military way?  Or was it something else entirely?

My set of values and beliefs hold that suicide is immoral and irrational.  Self-sacrifice is something else entirely.  Saving someone else's life and risking your own, even if the attempt is foolhardy, is not necessarily immoral.  For example, on the Titanic several persons gave up their space in the lifeboats for someone else, neither is this immoral.  These acts were done for objectively selfless reasons.  I believe that in a moment of transcendence, one is able to come to peace with one's own fate, and allow the gift of life to be passed on.  These are moments of great spiritual certainty, and a person is fortunate to be able to experience them.

Mishima, however, orchestrated his own shame.  In order to commit Seppuku in the Bushido manner, he had to be vanquished on the field of battle or his leader had to have died.  He also must have experienced shame or loss of face.  In order to generate this state of affairs, Mishima took the garrison commander General Mashita hostage, and presented a speech to the assembled soldiers. 

They jeered and mocked him.  He was, after all, merely playing at bushido.  It was all uniforms and strutting and posing.  He was, after all, an actor and a poet, not a warrior, not in truth.  Maybe in his mind, but not in objective, literal reality.  In reality Mishima got together with his boys on the weekend and played dress-up.  So the soldiers met his judgment of them as being soft and unmanly with derision.  Mishima must have counted on that.

That was the shame that Mishima needed in order to follow through with Seppuku.  However, in the west we have a system of logic which repudiates this line of thinking.  If the tree is poison, then the fruit that falls from it is equally polluted.  The scenario Mishima created was a fantasy.  Thus his response to it was equally fabulous and on the far side of rationality. 

An argument can be made that Mishima misused and exploited the tradition of Bushido to serve subterranean personal desires, not to honor his ancestors but to indulge himself in an obscene public expression of personal agitation.  Perhaps he wanted to see himself as a martyr, to concretize in his mind an image of himself as self-sacrificing.  Here I am disembowling myself so the reasons which led me to this point must be real.  They were not.  They were fiction. 

Unfortunately for Mishima, life is not fiction and fiction is not life.  Fiction is an illusion of life.  If he had reached maturity in the Western tradition he might have understood this profound and unassailable truth passed down the millennia from Aristotle. 

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Yukio Mishima

Over the weekend viewed the film Mishima: A Life in Four Chapters by Paul Schrader, director of The Affliction and more recently, the famously deposed director of the Exorcist prequel Dominion, which was entirely refilmed by Renny Harlin after studio suits saw Schrader's rough cut and wondered what had happened to all the blood, vomit and horror that they thought they had paid for. 

Very often motion pictures, as do songs, get stuck in my head and no matter what I try to do to shake them loose, there they lay, undigested meat for my subconscious.  I had heard the stories about Mishima, his final act was so outrageous, so over the top, that his memory was bound to live in infamy, or at least notoriety.  Schrader's film however, was a revelation, intermixing shots of Mishima's life in flashback (in stark black and white) with dramatized scenes from Mishima's novels (in vivid color) with the events of Mishima's last day.  The dialogue is all in Japanese with English subtitles, and there is a spoken English voiceover, originally performed by Roy Scheider (it was redubbed for the DVD release by an uncredited artist, presumably because of contractual technicalities).  As with everything Japanese, the color scenes pop with vividness.  The black and white scenes have a remarkable serenity.  The scenes from the novels punctuate the film with emotional epiphanies.

And all this to a simply stunning soundtrack by Philip Glass.  The opening moments, the wind chimes, seemingly random, begin to sound with a recognizable pattern, as the lower strings, agitato, tremble with urgency, running here, running there, building, building, and suddenly the bottom falls out--thump!  And bells, chimes, and soaring tonalities gyrate, revolve, revolve, arpeggio, arpeggio, in a triumphant explosion of the upward surging heart!

As with Runaway Horses, the young hero, facing the east, at the moment he slices the tanto through his viscera, the sun leaps over the horizon, a vivid orange circle, and he feels his soul depart his body--this is the moment Philip Glass has put to music--the moment of Seppuku, the ritual suicide not only of Mishima's hero, but of Mishima himself.

There is something of the Buddhist contempt for the tangible world in Mishima's final act of ritual suicide.  But that he dramatized it, orchestrated it, planned it with meticulous detail, speaks more of P.T. Barnum than Gautama Buddha.  That's the cynic in me, but I believe suicide is immoral.  Mishima's "coup" was merely a pretext, a given circumstance to demonstrate his humiliation and shame and require his penultimate act.  He could have had no legitimate belief that his actions would have lead to military uprising.  He cannot have been that deluded.  He wanted to die, and he wanted to change the world, and for a few brief hours one November day in 1970 he focused the attention of the planet on himself and then drifted away into the footnotes of history, proving more than anything else, that Buddhism is a great religion, but when it's mixed with Western Romanticism, it's poison.

Monday, October 10, 2005

Fassbinder against Genet

Murder.  Sadomasochism.  Homoeroticism.  These are the sexterior trappings of Querelle, the novel by Genet and the film by Rainer Werner Fassbinder starring Brad Davis.  Querelle is a young sailer whose ship has moored in the harbor of Brest, France.  He hears about a certain salon, a night club, where Lysiane, a chanteuse, receives gentlemen customers under the nose of her husband Nono.  Nono plays dice with these gentlemen customers, and if they win, they go on to Lysiane.  If they loose, they lower their trousers for Nono.  Querelle's older brother Robert is now the principal lover of Lysiane.  Besides being a prostitute, Lysiane is also a prophetess.  She reads the tarot for Robert and says of his younger brother, "the worst possible thing will soon happen to him: he will discover himself."

Fassbinder filmed Querelle in a studio utilizing an elaborate unit set with transparent walls; ramps and walkways lead to playing areas, much like a stage set.  There is no attempt to be "realistic."  The predominate colors range from white along the yellow-red spectrum through orange to blood red.  It is a darker, more menacing color than pink  A male choir sings in the background to punctuate scenes, their voices a rising epiphany as Querelle discovers himself. 

Fassbinder intercuts the action with quotations from Genet.  There is no intellectual experience here--it is meant to be utterly nihilistic, he equates sex, death and self-discovery.  Men live to screw, to kill, and to die.  These are the only expressions of passion that ultimately matter.  There is no meaning other than the meaning of the moment.  Men move from passivity to action and back again to passivity.  Words mean nothing.  Only through action can one truly experience living.  Love and marriage, hearth and home, all are illusions.  True beauty has the power to kill you.

"Each man kills the thing he loves," is Lysiane's refrain.  This line is taken from The Ballad of Reading Gaol, by Oscar Wilde.  Genet has brought Wilde's critique of modernity, of manliness, to vivid life.  There is one very interesting moment in the film where Querelle, who has experienced only passive sodomy, tries to summon the will to sodomize his friend.  He realizes that to be passive, one need only to experience pleasure, with no strings attached, no meaning, nothing other than the act itself.  To be active, one must be able to love.  Querelle cannot do it.  Afterwards, he turns his friend in to the police.

Querelle is like picking through someone else's garbage: disgusting, but fascinating.

Friday, October 7, 2005

Solvitur ambulando

Solvitur ambulando is a Latin aphorism that means "it is solved by walking."  Attributed to St. Augustine.

docendo discimus - by teaching, we learn.  This is absolutely true.  As I observe the objectivity in the writing of my students, I better see how I can revise my own work to plumb the depths of subjectivity and make it a visceral, emotional and satisfying experience for the reader.  Tonight!  Revisions!

Thursday, October 6, 2005


For my readers who don't know who Joseph E. Duncan III is, this is his resume:  Convicted in Washington State in 1980 of sexual assault on a 14 year old boy.  Released in 1996, he returned to prison for parole violations shortly thereafter and was finally released after serving his original 20 year sentence in 2000.  Five years later, this past March, he got in trouble with children again, this time in Detroit Lakes, Minnesota.  Although five years had passed between his release from prison and his rearrest in Minnesota, it is conceivable that other assaults and rapes occurred for which he was never charged.  In Becker County Duncan was released on bail.  He fled the jurisdiction. 

In May, a family near Coeur D'Alene Idaho was found murdered, while the two youngest children had disappeared.  After a very observant waitress spotted one of the children in a Denny's restaurant, Duncan was apprehended.  He is now charged with the bludgeoning deaths of the three Groene family members in their home.  Prosecutors will not charge him with the death of one of younger children, Dylan, aged 9 until the courts resolve the three earlier murders.  Shasta, the youngest child, was the only survivor.

Now it appears that a lawsuit for negligence has been filed against the judge and the prosecutor who permitted Duncan to post bail in Minnesota.  The complaint seeks $500,000 in damages.  That seems remarkably low under the circumstances.  However, judges, prosecutors and their ilk usually enjoy some limited immunity from suits alleging bad judgment or malpractice in their official capacities.  Otherwise judges and lawyers would have to be defending against them on a daily basis. 

Usually, when you're suing the government, you have to get permission.  Sometimes the government waives immunity in the interests of fairness and justice.  Implausible as it may seem, it sometimes happens.  That may have occurred in this case, I don't know.  Becker County officials claim they haven't seen the suit papers, and that is possible.  They won't admit to having seen anything until an sworn affidavit of service appears in the file.  If no prior agreement to waive immunity has been made, their first response will no doubt be a motion to dismiss.

Tuesday, October 4, 2005

The Best that I Could Find

I would really like my blog to be about more than politics.  However, it is a juicy subject that incites rabid prose and so I find myself drawn back to it again and again.  George W. Bush said today of his choice to nominate Harriet Meirs to be the Supreme Court justice to replace Sandra Day O'Connor that she was "the best that I could find."  Hardly a ringing endorsement of his pick, or for his administration.  Did he look very far?  Well, I suppose he opened the Oval Office door and looked as far as the end of the hall.  I get the image of a beleaguered president, an incompetent administrator who is so insulated by handlers, spin doctors and sycophants that he is out of touch with everything and anything outside his immediate zone of reference: The White House, Kennebunkport and Crawford, Texas.  The President in the Plastic Bubble.  He's the best that the voters could find. 

Still, that Harriet Miers is a total blank slate is better than the alternative, a neo-fascist right wing idealogue.  And for that, there is reason to breathe a sigh of relief.