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Thursday, August 17, 2006

JonBenet

John Mark Karr says he drugged her, but the autopsy found no drugs in JonBenet's body. Reports indicate she had been stranged and beaten; Karr says he "accidentally" killed her. Karr says he's guilty, but his ex-wife says they were in Alabama together. In short, it doesn't look like a slam-dunk for the prosecution, unless of course forensic evidence can place Karr at the murder scene. But could the Karr angle simply be a convenient cover story? Why is no one — not McKinney, not Kucinich, not Chomsky, not Sharpton, not Code Pink — raising the most difficult, the most troubling, yet also the most obvious question? Where were George W. Bush and Dick Cheney on December 26, 1996?

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Poor Puer Bill

Shocking, stunning, unbelievable: Bill Clinton doesn't like turning 60! He liked it better when he was the youngest one in the room, the prodigous youngster who wowed everybody with his preternatural brilliance. Why is even the most casual observer of this man's reckless life not even remotely surprised by Clinton's confessed preference to avoid graduating into anything resembling adult masculinity? Boy Bill has devoted his life to sustaining and promulgating being the boy wonder who makes good at the last minute; hence we aren't dumbfounded that he has even managed to impress G.H.W. Bush, whose wife Barbara, in fact, says she has come to call him "son." With adulation like this, would someone kindly tell me: What's the motivation to be a grown up? The Swiss psychologist Carl Jung devoted a great deal of inquiry to the role of archetypes in the lives of individuals. Archetypes are the primordial patterns that connect the individual and idiosyncratic to the collective and transpersonal. Jung was especially interested in the archetype of the Puer Aeternis, or the "eternal child." When this mythic force is predominant in an individual's psyche, he or she appears ever youthful and charming, full of enthusiasms and grand ideals, always soaring. The darker side of the Puer lies in the problems they have in trying to stay grounded or make a long term commitment to work and relationships. In the words of Jungian Marie-Louise von Franz:
In Jungian psychology the term puer aeternus is commonly used to describe a certain type of man - charming, affectionate, creative and ever in pursuit of his dreams. These are the men who remain adolescent well into their adult years, generally full of life yet strangely draining to those around them. We have worked with them, loved them and watched them wave good-bye.
Thus we find our former president, the fellow (of course) from Hope: unitiated into adulthood by any responsible male and naturally buoyed by the flattery of women for whom he (of course) feels contempt; this aging Peter Pan questing to be America's golden boy, bemoaning the beginning of his seventh decade. Even the wake-up call of a life-threatening cardiac crisis cannot quite shake boy Clinton from the tree of paradise, beneath which so many wave with admiration bordering on awe. And, if it is true that a long-term couple tends to polarize psychologically when neither partner is willing to be authentic, we shouldn't be surprised to find Hillary manifesting so many counter-puer qualities in her own tortured persona: taciturn, joyless, authoritarian, moody, resentful, contracted, utterly incapable of spontaneity or originality. These two deserve the closest possible scrutiny in the months to come, for clearly their master plan envisions a triumphant return to the corridors of executive power — because they deserve the White House, it goes without saying. "They were careless people," wrote Fitzgerald of Clinton progenitors Daisy and Tom Buchanan. "...[T]hey smashed up things and then retreated into their money or their vast carelessness, or whatever it was that kept them together, and let other people clean up the mess they had made." Will America's compulsive fascination with the Clinton sociopaths make us want to clean up after them one more time? Stay tuned.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

AIDS, Race, and Victim Psychology

Several leaders of America's black community say the time has come to take AIDS seriously. "Now is the time for us to face the fact that AIDS has become a black disease,'' says Julian Bond, chairman of the NAACP. "It has invaded our house, and our leaders must accept ownership and fight it with everything we have.'' What Mr. Bond appears to be saying is: When black people engage in high-risk (unprotected) sex, they increase their chances of contacting HIV. Being an opportunistic virus, HIV does not discriminate on the basis of race. Welcome to the human family, Mr. Bond. Your comment amounts to a belated acknowledgment of Dr. King's core message: Suppose we get busy recognizing we're all humans on this bus. Oh, but let's not give up a chance to play racial politics. As usual Jesse Jackson just can't help himself. "It is now time for us to fight AIDS like the major civil rights issue it is,'' he insists. And let's not miss an opportunity to link the importance of testing with a new entitlement. Jeff Sheehy, HIV/AIDS advisor to San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom, says "more robust testing" has got to be linked to "guaranteed access to care." Imagine a spokespersons for cancer, cardiac health, or diabetes making the same demand. It wouldn't happen because those three health problems are not understood to have civil rights. Heart health activists generally do not stand up to boo at American Heart Association conventions when speakers urge heart attack patients not to eat salt-laden Crisco as a staple or when speakers recommend exercise as a heart health enhancer. So, imagine how charming it must have been for Bill Gates to be booed at the 16th International AIDS Conference in Toronto, Canada, when he endorsed abstinence and fidelity within marriage as two possible strategies in combating the deadly disease. "This approach has saved many lives, and we should expand it." Gates' comments were received with loud cries of contempt from audience members who oppose anything but the promotion of condoms as a means of combating the spread of AIDS. Well, guess what? A Philadelphia study found that an "abstinence only" sex-education curriculum was more likely to persuade black junior high school students to put off initiating sex than a curriculum dedicated to the "use latex if you're gonna do it" message. You see, where's the fun in abstinence? As for fidelity: awfully boring. In his book Virtually Normal, Andrew Sullivan actually argues that once same-sex marriage is legalized, society will have to develop a greater "understanding of the need for extramarital outlets between two men than between a man and a woman." Sullivan adds (pp. 202-203): "The truth is, homosexuals are not entirely normal; and to flatten their varied and complicated lives into a single, moralistic model is to miss what is essential and exhilarating about their otherness." Get it? Don't oppress us with your moralistic notions of faithfulness and abstinence, oh no. We have the right to engage in whatever sexual activities we define as "essential and exhilarating about [our] otherness." We have a right to condoms. And if the condoms break and we get sick, we have the right to "guaranteed access to care." What's not to understand? Not every gay person subscribes to this nonsense. Not every HIV/AIDS sufferer does either. Nor am I against the use of condoms as a means of reducing the likelihood of transmission. I just have this crazy idea that it doesn't make a lot of sense to roundly jeer the efficacy of 1) not having sex and 2) sexual fidelity as two means of being safer than otherwise. Kudos to Rep. Maxine Waters for having the courage to call for compulsory HIV testing for Americans who are sent to prison and again when they are released. Waters recognizes that her call for mandatory testing will "step on toes" of some of her supporters. She's right about that, and that's why I encourage her to try this as a more effective spin: "I today call for mandatory HIV/AIDS screening for prisoners because George W. Bush lied about WMD." To contemporary liberals, which is the greater evil — mandatory screening or anything related to America's current president? Does the question really have to be asked?