Possibly due to my request that she “please stop,” I have been banned from posting comments on Sarah Palin’s Facebook page. My quote from the New England Journal of Medicine regarding what the IPAB actually does has been deleted, leaving Citizen Palin unchallenged in her assertion that “its purpose all along has been to ‘keep costs down’ by actually denying care via price controls and typically inefficient bureaucracy.” It seems unlikely that the Independent Patient Advisory Board was designed to prevent people from getting health care via inefficiency, but Sarah Palin can say what she wants. I can’t say anything back to her, but she is communicating on her own Facebook wall. That wall belongs to her and to Facebook, so they can delete whom they please.
“I’m calling you to update you on what we did,” Deputy Mayor Howard Wolfson told the chair of the Lower Manhattan Community Board. “We came in the middle of the night.” Thus ended the occupation of Wall Street, after police executed Mayor Bloomberg’s order to clear Zuccotti Park of tents and protestors around 1am Tuesday morning. After a series of temporary injunctions and contradictory judicial rulings, protestors are no longer camping at the Occupy Wall Street demonstration. They trickled back into the park during the day, but no one is allowed to lie down. As winter sets in, more than one person is probably relieved not to have to do the sleeping on the cold ground part of civil disobedience. Yet the clearing of the park feels undeniably like the end of something, and it raises plenty of questions. “Is it over?” is not the only one.
I assume that, by now, the numerical minority of you who did not send me links to Christine O’Donnell’s First Amendment gaffe yesterday have heard about it. In a debate with Chris Coons before, of all people, an audience of law students, the Delaware Senate candidate demanded to know “where in the Constitution” is the separation of church and state. After her opponent recited the establishment clause (pretty much from memory, although he missed a couple of words,) she remained incredulous, saying, “You’re telling me that’s in the First Amendment?” Newspaper accounts were beautiful, but they miss what is perhaps the best part: the four or so minutes after O’Donnell sticks Coons with her “where in the Constitution?” question but before she realizes it’s a gaffe. During that time, she smirks at the crowd, mugs during her opponent’s answers and generally acts like she’s just checkmated Vladimir Nabokov. It’s an almost physically painful study in dramatic irony, and it captures the essence of Christine O’Donnell.
Let’s quickly make a distinction about the word “perfect” above: I don’t mean “good politics,” so much as “politics untainted by any element of government.” The Ground Zero Mosque—located two blocks from the site of the former World Trade Center, and therefore separated from that hallowed ground only by the Ground Zero Chinese Takeout Place, the Ground Zero Strip Club and the Ground Zero Dunkin’ Donuts—will be built on private property. No governing body, from the City of New York City to the executive branch of the United States, can actually stop it. Yet politicians across the country have announced their opposition to its construction as if they could do something about it. One suspects that it’s precisely because they can’t.
In a turn of events covered quietly by everyone but Fox News, Congress moved closer to repealing Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell last week, and seems finally ready to allow openly gay Americans to serve in the military. I haven’t been to Chelsea lately, but I assume the streets are empty and everyone is in Kabul. While the rest of the country seems poised between ambivalence and total apathy, church people and soldiers—two groups that reveal a surprising overlap—continue to rail against repeal.* Not least of them is Tony Perkins, former Marine and President of the Family Research Council, who argues on CNN’s Belief Blog that “ending Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell would undermine religious liberty.” If that sounds like a weird inversion to you, buckle up. Perkins’s argument is a horse desperately pushing a cart, relying on a series of tropes that would be baffling were they not so familiar. It’s a microcosm for the larger, logically bankrupt argument against allowing gay men and women a place in modern society, and it’s sufficiently typical—and infuriating—to merit a close reading.