Proposition 8 is a Toss-up

This Tuesday in California, voters will decide whether or not same-sex couples should retain the right to marry. A yes vote will add fourteen words to the state constitution: "Only marriage between a man and a woman is valid and recognized in California."

The campaign for Proposition 8 has been filled with half-truths and fear mongering. And apparently it's working. The polling website Five Thirty Eight reports that the measure is ahead, 49-44. (It would need a majority in order to amend the state constitution).

But why is Proposition 8 necessary? Even Governor Schwarzenegger is against it. In an eloquent, informative and moving essay, Andrew Sullivan explains the "transformation in understanding" that has brought gays into the mainstream and the effect his own marriage had on his relationship with his family.
...when gays are seen as the same as straights—as individuals; as normal, well-adjusted, human individuals—the argument changes altogether. The question becomes a matter of how we treat a minority with an involuntary, defining characteristic along the lines of gender or race. And when a generation came of age that did not merely grasp this intellectually, but knew it from their own lives and friends and family members, then the logic for full equality became irresistible.
Supporters of Proposition 8 claim they want to protect marriage, but from whom? Sullivan's article leaves little doubt that both families and the institution of marriage itself are stronger and healthier as a result of gay marriages. If they truly want to support family values and the institution of marriage, perhaps Proposition 8's biggest advocates should seriously consider a no vote.


Obama: Hamlet or Prince Hal?

Guy Brookshire of Super Collide posts an eye-brow raising reassessment of candidate Obama.

(Full disclosure: Guy Brookshire is my older brother.)

David Brooks On What Went Wrong

In a thoughtful column, David Brooks provides insight on the Republican party's peculiar dilemma:
In some sense this whole campaign was a contest to see which party could reach out from its base and occupy that centrist ground... [McCain's campaign] did not clearly point to a new direction for the party or the country... [and McCain] never escaped the straitjacket of a party that is ailing and a conservatism that is behind the times.
Win or lose come Tuesday, the fact that one of the most liberal candidates ever has managed to "reach out... and occupy that centrist ground" is particularly telling. Has the Republican party alienated its traditional base by moving so far to the right in order to solidify its Christian voting bloc? If so, how will the Republican party redefine itself?



In the first debate between Stephen A. Douglas and Abraham Lincoln, Douglas quoted resolutions from the first platform of the then-newly formed Republican party. My favorite goes like this:
1. Resolved, That we believe this truth to be self-evident, that when parties become subversive of the ends for which they are established, or incapable of restoring the government to the true principles of the constitution, it is the right and duty of the people to dissolve the political bands by which they may have been connected therewith, and to organize new parties upon such principles and with such views as the circumstances and exigencies of the nation may demand.
With an overwhelming number of Republicans and conservatives endorsing Obama, perhaps it is time to revisit this resolution. If the Republican party hasn't become subversive of the ends for which it was established, what has it become?

The Christian Right have certainly been good soldiers, but what do they have to show for twenty-eight years of being abused by the neoconservative elements of the party? And fiscal conservatives were raving mad before the financial meltdown.

Republicans in the White House and Congress have helped destroy our economy through a combination of greed and neglect, demanded ever-expanding powers in order to fight a never-ending war and openly instigated both international and domestic conflicts instead of helping to resolve them: if these are not the conditions for a tectonic shift in American politics, what would it take to dissolve one of the parties?

Ross Douthat provides a more nuanced view of the challenges that face the Republican party.

Still Expanding

The New York Times reports that Secretary of Defense Robert Gates announced today that
the United States would hold "fully accountable" any country or group that helped terrorists to acquire or use nuclear, chemical or biological weapons... whether by facilitating, financing or providing expertise or safe haven for such efforts.
This represents another major expansion of the war on terror during the final days of this administration.

Read the full article here.

The New War on Terror

In the waning days of its power, the Bush administration is still expanding the scope of its pet war. Eli Lake writes:
We have entered a new phase in the war on terror. In July, according to three administration sources, the Bush administration formally gave the military new power to strike terrorist safe havens outside of Iraq and Afghanistan.
The question is, how will the next president respond? The New Republic probes the ramifications of a recent strike in Syria and their connection to potentially contradictory tenets of Obama's proposed foreign policy. (Hat tip: Andrew Sullivan)


The First Shout

A Shout In the Street is a crossroads for politics, music, film and art. In addition to publishing original essays, reviews and reflections, it points to what we think is some of the most interesting content on the web.

The title, A SHOUT IN THE STREET, refers to pg. 34 of James Joyce's Ulysses, when Stephen Dedalus briefly describes his theories on history and the Almighty in response to his Hegelian headmaster, Mr Deasy:
--History, Stephen said, is a nightmare from which I am trying to awake.
From the playfield the boys raised a shout. A whirring whistle: goal. What if the nightmare gave you a back kick?
--The ways of the creator are not our ways, Mr Deasy said. All history moves towards one great goal, the manifestation of God.
Stephen jerked his thumb towards the window, saying:
--That is God.
Hooray! Ay. Whrrwhee!
--What? Mr Deasy asked.
--A shout in the street, Stephen answered, shrugging his shoulders.
Madison Brookshire lives in Los Angeles, where he makes films, videos and music. He graduated from the California Institute of the Arts with an MFA in Film/Video. Currently, he is an educator at the Museum of Contemporary Art. He has shown work at international film festivals, art galleries and microcinemas. He was also an artist-in-residence at the Hammer Museum. More information about his art can be found at his website, here.

Michael Lieberman resides in Binghamton, N.Y. where he is editing a documentary feature, "The Drift", about an Iraq War veteran who briefly became an anti-war activist. Lieberman graduated from Binghamton University with a B.A. in Cinema. In addition, he is a film and video curator for Spool MFG, a contemporary art gallery in Johnson City, N.Y. In the future, Lieberman hopes to attend graduate school and successfully make a political landscape film.

Kiljan Zane Pyry is a U.S. citizen who lives in Yellowknife, Northwest Territories where he is filming a documentary about health care issues in Inuit communities. His most recently completed project is Center and Main, a film that follows a group of people who live on the streets in rural Massachusetts. He graduated from California Institute of the Arts with an MFA in Film/Video and Creative Writing.