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PDY Blog for 11-10-04

How many more must die because of one arrogant president’s mistake?

Number of Americans killed
in Iraq to date: 1,143
Number of Iraqis killed to date: possibly 100,000
Number of Americans killed after “Mission Accomplished” 1,004

[These figures come from and excellent website with links to other sites on war statistics]

    I had planned to devote today’s blog to the gay marriage issue and I’ll get to that. However, the pictures and stories from Iraq are so disturbing they push all other questions right out of my mind. As a [correspondent] veteran of Vietnam, I am haunted by the images on the daily news right now that are almost mirror images of what our country did in Vietnam. How long will it take the people to come to their senses as they did with the Vietnam War? More important, will George Bush ever admit to his mistakes and stop the senseless slaughter? I don’t think so. He is going to need a lot of help making up his mind and it looks like the people of conscience are going to have to take to the streets once again to restore some sanity to our government. It took us more than a decade to disengage ourselves from the slaughter in Vietnam, let us pray it does not take us that long to remove ourselves from the quagmire in Iraq. And remember the words from Bob Dylan’s anthem of the early sixties: “Yes, ‘n’ how many deaths will it take till he knows that too many people have died?”

    The first Moratorium march on Washington was 35 years ago this week. I had just returned from Vietnam that summer and participated in every anti-war march on Washington after that. I’m ready to go back. Are you?

     PAUSE HERE FOR A LITTLE HUMOR: This is from my friend Andy Reed in Asheville, N.C.:

    The Pentagon announced today the formation of an elite fighting group called the U.S. Redneck Special Forces (USRSF).

    Bubba, Hoss, Cooter and Bo will be dropped behind enemy lines after being briefed with the following information about Iraqis:
  1. The season opened last week.
  2. There is no limit.
  3. They taste just like chicken.
  4. They don't like beer, pickups, country music or Jesus.
  5. Some are queer.
  6. They are directly responsible for Dale Earnhart's death

    The war should be over in a week.

    And this from my wonderful cousin, Kelli Potts, a very courageous peace activist in Atlanta, Ga.:

    I am passing this on to you because it has definitely worked for me...and as we start another 4 years of Bush, et. al, we all could use a little calm. By following the simple advice I read in an article, I have finally found inner peace.

    The article read: "The way to achieve inner peace is to finish all the things you've started."

    So I looked around the house to see all the things I started and hadn't finished.... and before leaving the house this morning I finished off a bottle of red wine, a bottle of white wine, the Bailey's, Kahlua and Wild Turkey, the Prozac, some valium, some cheesecake and a box of chocolates.

    You have no idea how damn good I feel.... You may pass this on to those you feel are in need of Inner Peace.


    Those of us who live in the Triangle often despair over the Durham Herald-Sun, one of the two major newspapers in our area. I was a columnist for the Chapel Hill Herald for seven years. The parent Herald-Sun organization had made a calculated business decision to make the Chapel Hill paper more liberal to satisfy the audience in our university town. And, I guess for seven years at least, I was part of that package….until a despicable little twerp named Rocky Rosen—who has no journalistic experience whatsoever outside the narrow walls of the Herald-Sun—fired me over a column supporting John Edwards. Today’s Herald has two excellent letters to the editor [the only place where you’ll find a true balance in the paper]. One tells about the need for an investigation of the presidential election in Florida and Ohio; the other tells precisely how incredibly out of touch the Herald-Sun is with its readership in our area. You can read both letters at: I contend the problem with the Herald, especially its editorial writers and cartoonist, John Cole, is not that they are radical conservatives, it is that they are dumb. We deserve better. Let them know it; keep those letters coming.


    The most disturbing articles I’ve read this past week suggest the unthinkable: the exit polls were right; Kerry DID win the election in Florida and Ohio. A majority may have voted for Kerry, but those votes were simply not counted by the Diebold-Bush machines. For a detailed look at these nightmarish statistics, go to Thanks to my friend, Ira Joseph Woodhead, for connecting me to this site. If you’ve been losing sleep already, get ready to lose even more after you read the facts.

    I misused the word, “unthinkable” up there. What is unthinkable about the fact this crowd of ideologues stole one election in 2000, why wouldn’t they steal this one in 2004? On second thought, change that to “predictable.”


    And, finally, to the subject of “gay marriage.” This is going to be an ongoing subject of this blog. I’m certainly no expert on marriage or even relationships, since I’ve never had one of the latter last more than a few days. Hours? Minutes?

    But, since the subject seems to consume so many people and seems to have brought out masses of fundies to vote for George Bush, it is a subject we must all consider seriously. Back in the early 1970s, I became involved with the great writer, Christopher Isherwood. I admired his books enormously, especially his Berlin Stories, which the play, “I Am a Camera” and the musical, “Caberet” were based on. At the time, I was struggling with my confused and contradictory memories of my experiences in Vietnam that had been so brutally depressing and so genuinely exhilarating. I also was deeply disturbed about whether my homosexuality belonged in a memoir of some friends who remain among the missing in Vietnam. “Who you are is always relevant,” Isherwood answered my first question with the quiet calm good sense I could not question. He went over the rough manuscript for my book, “Two of the Missing,” and made all kinds of suggestions which greatly improved the finished book. I visited with Isherwood and his lover, Don Bachardy, when he came to speak to the Modern Language Association in New York in the fall of 1974, the first time that august body had ever considered the subject of homosexuality. I’ll never forget one of my colleagues from Vietnam, Tom Buckley, was covering the event for the New York Times. In typical tough-guy Front Page fashion, Buckley asked me how much Isherwood made off the movie, Cabaret. Isherwood was still on the stage but Bachardy was standing right behind us. I said, “Buckley, his lover is right here, I’m sure he’ll know…” Buckley smirked, “Oh, is this his current thing?” “For TWENTY-FIVE years, Buckley,” I said.

    [In case you’re interested, Bachardy did not know, but Isherwood himself came down and answered the question: “As a matter of fact, I just got a check. It was for $2,500.” Isherwood explained that he had already sold the stage and film rights to his book for I Am a Camera, and that owner sold the rights for Cabaret.]

    In the ensuing weeks, I had a lengthy correspondence with Isherwood over the whole subject of living alone. I had been deeply moved by Isherwood’s novel, “The Single Man.” The advance reviews on my first book were overwhelmingly good—not merely good, fantastic. My overnight success made the harsh reality of my life alone all the more troubling to me. Everybody I knew was either married or involved in some sort of long term relationship. What was wrong with me? Why did nobody love me enough to want to share this wonderful creative life? I wrote Isherwood about how I dreamed of having a nice big house with my study at one end and my partner’s piano—or whatever—at the other end…two creative lives coming together at day’s end to appreciate the good parts and endure the hard parts.

    Isherwood fired back that I had totally misunderstood him. A working relationship is wonderful, he admitted, but one shouldn’t just go out and find a relationship purely for the sake of having one. “Promiscuity is a perfectly viable alternative,” he wrote, and asked why should we homosexual ape the bourgeoisie by insisting that marriage was the only way. Well, I thought, he could say that because he wasn’t alone, he had lived with the same partner since 1941.

    In recent days, I’ve thought back to that correspondence. There’s no way we can say how Isherwood might have responded to the current gay marriage crisis. I have an idea, he’d approve of those who pushed it. Like many others I know, I looked on in horror as what seemed to me a silly peripheral issue became the one that gave us four more years of George Bush. What the bright young mayor of San Francisco did by staging illegal marriages for gays was not courageous at all in retrospect; it was politically foolish and reckless and gave Karl Rove the hot button issue he so desperately needed to take people’s minds off the war, the economy, the environment.

    I can certainly understand why gay couples fight for legal rights. If they have made a lifetime commitment to each other, why shouldn’t they have the same property and other rights straight couples have? What I don’t fully understand is why that word, “marriage” was so important to some of these couples. It was not legal rights, but the use of that traditional word to describe the very non-traditional same sex union that aroused the masses.

    I think I have now answered that question. Why should we ape the bourgeoisie? Because, we ARE the bourgeoisie. The very same fundamentalist righteousness that aroused the opposition to gay marriage was what caused their children to insist that their love relationships were just as blessed by the same God and fully entitled to the holy sacrament of marriage. And, as usual, the vast majority of us are caught in the middle wondering what’s so damned important about one little word.