The New Puritanicalism


It seems that everywhere I look this week people are using attacks on sex to replace true political discourse. Earlier this week Pamela Leavey and Ginny Cotts of The Democratic Daily used the fact that I have incluced magazine covers such as the Harper’s Bazaar cover of Britney Spears above in blog posts on popular culture and the media as some sort of “justification” for their defense of Mel Gibson’s anti-Semitism and for preventing me from condemning Gibson’s anti-Semitism when I was a writer on that blog. At the time I thought it was a totally irrational and irrelevant argument. Apparently I missed something. Pamela and Ginny have turned out to be trend setters as a new Puritanicalism has become the “in technique” of character assassination being used by Republicans.

One prominent example was George Allen quoting sexually graphic passages from Jim Webb’s novels. These included passages such as this one from Lost Soldiers:

“A shirtless man walked toward them along a mud pathway. His muscles were young and hard, but his face was devastated with wrinkles. His eyes were so red that they appeared to be burned by fire. A naked boy ran happily toward him from a little plot of dirt. The man grabbed his young son in his arms, turned him upside down, and put the boy’s penis in his mouth.”

This book is clearly shocking to Republicans, except to John McCain, who Publishers Weekly reports endorsed the book: “Webb (Fields of Fire) is no stranger to the bestseller lists; endorsements from heavy hitters like Sen. John McCain will help put him there once again.” Hotline reports McCain also had a blurb on the back cover of the book. Presumably this will be the main issue in the 2008 race should McCain enter it.

Maureen Dowd sums up the Virginia race by writing, “So the Old Dominion race now comes down to one guy denying he’s a racist and the other denying he’s a sexist, and the supposed sexist attacking the supposed racist as a sexist.” She notes the change in Republican political strategy:

The Republicans’ usual trick — having Dick Cheney terrify women into thinking that terrorists will kill their children if they vote for girly Democrats — isn’t flying this year, so now the G.O.P. is resorting to more personal, and goofy, attacks.

Republicans have also launched commercials against Harold Ford accusing him of attending “parties with lingerie-clad Playboy Playmates while he also films political ads in a church.” One of the ads ends with a scantily clad woman saying, “Harold, call me!”

Fortunately the Democrats are on top of these attacks. It might have taken the party five years to respond to the false Republican claims of keeping the country safe after 9/11, but the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee is firm in their defense on this one. They sent out the following talking points:

  • In 1981, Vice President Dick Cheney’s wife Lynne wrote a book called Sisters, which featured a lesbian love affair, brothels and attempted rapes. In 1988, Lynne Cheney wrote about a Republican vice president who dies of a heart attack while having sex with his mistress.
  • Former GOP House Speaker Newt Gingrich co-wrote a thriller called 1945, featuring such titillations as biting foreplay, “pouting sex kitten,” “exotic mistress” and “after-bout inhalation.” At one point, the mistress of the president’s chief of staff sits “athwart” her lover’s chest and hisses that he must tell her a secret “or I will make you do terrible things.”
  • In 1996, former Cheney Chief of Staff I. Lewis Libby wrote The Apprentice, a novel that includes references to bestiality, pedophilia and rape.
  • In 1999, former GOP Governor William Weld said of his book, Big Ugly, “I think of the theme of this book is sex and money meets the great outdoors.” Weld’s thriller included sex, bribery and murder.
  • This week, it was discovered that a Republican statewide candidate in Texas, Susan Combs, wrote a romance novel “full of steamy sex scenes.” The book’s heroine is “a freckle-faced brunette” who is drawn to “the gray-eyed bodyguard” and his “powerful, strong arms,” and desires him to “fill the aching void at her center,” where a “deep heaviness throbbed in her belly.”

Personally I find it a relief to find that those Republicans aren’t all that Puritanical after all. As for America, all I can say is that the Britney Spears cover above is the number one search engine hit on this blog. Make that not just America but the world as this picture regularly receives hits from virtually everywhere, including those countries where women are expected to wear burkas and this type of cover would never be allowed. Review of search engine hits also confirms that America is still trying to figure out what Britney Spears meant by “poodle balling” on her appearance on Will and Grace. Of course such searches receive an exaggerated prominence as they are popular searches for a unique term, while there are hundreds of variations of searches for various political issues, with each individual one having a relatively low percentage of hits.

Update: It’s been brought to my attention that The Democratic Daily repeated their attack with a rather hypocritical post in which any sexual reference in a book by a Democratic politician is acceptable as while any sexual reference or photo in my posts on popular culture, the media, or what drives the blogoshere is somehow not acceptable. You cannot have it both ways, but somehow Pamela believes she is the judge of when it is right and when it is not right to report on matters involving sex.

It is also worth repeating that these attacks from The Democratic Daily remain a warped response to my criticism of their defense of anti-Semitic comments. Pamela Leavey never complained about any of these posts in the past, but suddently she thought that raising these personal attacks on me would distract from the support given to anti-Semitism on her blog. As she has no defense for her actions, she is playing the Republican attack game.

Emmy Night

The Emmy Awards are coming up tonight. Even though it was greater during the Sorkin years, I’m rooting for The West Wing to go out with some major awards. Its a shame that the Lauren Graham Rule didn’t do enough. Some deserving shows and individuals are not going to be recognized tonight.

I’ve already reposted some of my old blog posts on Gilmore Girls and several science fiction shows. To get in the mood for the Emmys I’ll add some other old television posts, including The West Wing, 24, and Alias, below the fold.

UPDATE: Alan Alda wins as Arnold Vinick

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Americans Know Their Pop Culture


As someone who goes to Walt Disney World virtually every year I see nothing wrong with the fact that 77% of Americans can identify two of Snow White’s dwarfs. I even have many of their autographs. I am bothered, but not surprised, that only 24% could identify two Supreme Court justices. This is one of the results of a Zogby Poll on popular culture released yesterday. Perhaps they are confused by the fact that the last two Supreme Court justices were appointed by Dopey.
Maybe we can understand why 73% could identify the Three Stooges while only 42% could identify the three branches of government considering that the leaders of each branch might be seen as a contemporary version of the Three Stooges. I do not find ths poll surprising considering that one of my posts from The Democratic Daily which received the most hits was on Britney Spears and poodle balling following her appearance on Will and Grace (This is reprinted under the fold, along with the nude Britney Spears magazine cover in an attempt at blatant blog whoring to increase search engine hits). Is George Bush bucking this trend, or putting on an act, by reading Camus?

I am a great believer in cultural literacy, but this should include both true culture as well as pop culture. It appears that I’m in the minority by being more familiar with the Iliad and Odyssey than Homer Simpson. I also differ from the majority in knowing that Mercury is the closest planet to the sun while also knowing that Krypton was the birth place of Superman (along with being familiar with Vulcan, Barsoom, Caprica, Gallifrey, Tralfamadore, and Bajor).

While knowledge of pop culture is fine this must not replace knowledge of history, science, literature, and current events. Such ignorance leads to a population which does not understand when the government is violating the principles this country was founded on. This explains a country in which many believe Saddam had WMD before the war or was responsible for the 9/11 attacks. Lack of understanding of science (as well as the separation of church and state) allows Americans to be conned by arguments supporting the teaching of intelligent design in the schools.
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