A year end round up to spread some "Holiday Cheer." Although the religious right in America would have you believe that there's a war on Christmas, you need just walk into a store -- any store -- and you'll be blasted with annoying Christmas songs. (My worst this year was someone singing Jingle Bell Rock at double the speed, which made it doubly annoying!) So if the right is in need of a reason to knicker-knot, there's enough gender-bending-stereotype-ending on the cultural landscape to make a Pope blush, a cowgirl cringe and a homophobe hysterical.

Aside from an out-of-control Administration that is spying on Americans (as well as everyone else) in violation of the Constitution, things are going swimmingly swell. The "elections" in Iraq went as smoothly as if it were taking place in Zimbabwe, and America has a new "Plan for Victory," which is simply that. A meaningless plan that will make the empty promise of "Mission Accomplished," look as realistically based as the "last throes" of the insurgency, as Dick Cheney put it. (Maybe he meant last throws of their grenades before moving on to bigger, more powerful weapons.) Terrorism is alive and well and breeding in Iraq. Er...Plan for there not just a Plan B?

Happy New Year. (Soon to be renamed "Happy January," so as not to offend Jews, Chinese and the many others for whom the New Year begins on a different day.) Editorials

'Tis the Treason

Last week, NBC reported that newly leaked Pentagon documents have confirmed the military has been monitoring and collecting intelligence on anti-war groups across the country, including student groups opposed to the military's "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" ban on lesbian, gay and bisexual military personnel. The report prompted Servicemembers Legal Defense Network to announce plans to submit a Freedom of Information Act request to learn if it has also been monitored by the Pentagon.

That the President and his defenders can turn around and look the American people in the eye and claim to be protecting them, when this Administration shamefully continues to discharge and punish vital and accomplished warriors in its War on Terror for their sexual orientation and their private, constitutionally protected conduct, does not just make President Bush a cheap liar. He is aiding and abetting the enemy while spying on the people who supposedly elected him.

>>'Tis the Treason: Full Editorial Covers

Brokebank Mountain

Fighting windmills, chasing dragons
Defensive postures, circling wagons

Cowboy nightmares, stereotype shake-up
Gossipy aides in White House make-up

Napoleonic complex, Don Quixote
Embryonic stem cells, Truman Capote

Displaced stereotypes riding on the range
Misplaced neophytes resisting the change

Old school prejudice, high level blues
Plummeting polls, manufactured news

Hemorrhaging treasury, economy tank
Political capital, broken bank

>>Brokebank Mountain: Full Details

He's Watching You

Sneak inside my bedroom Brother
Put me on your lists
Watch me while I'm sleeping Brother
Help me keep my wits

Spy on my seclusion Brother
Tape record my scorn
Wiretap my movements Brother
Catalog my porn

Eavesdrop on my protests Brother
Debase me in your data
Analyze my sperm count Brother
Sterilize me later

Catch me in your crosshairs Brother
Brand my critiques treason
Categorize my distaste Brother
Pretend you need a reason

>>He's Watching You: Full Details

Rootkits and Bootkicks

When Washington Post's Dana Priest reported the existence of a "covert prison system" or "black sites" set up by the CIA four years ago, her use of confidential sources sparked outrage -- particularly as Washington is still reeling from the Valerie Plame CIA outing. Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) fired off a strongly worded request that a bicameral investigation into the disclosure be convened immediately. Until fellow Republican, Trent Lott, suggested Republicans were most likely the source of the leak (again!). Sen. Pat Roberts (R-Kan.) followed, suggesting waiting until the Justice Department completes its own inquiry.

The "black sites" are nothing short of Stalin style gulags where the CIA has been hiding and interrogating some of its most important al Qaeda captives at a Soviet-era compound in Eastern Europe. Instead of worrying about the reports of illegal detention, cruel and inhumane torture and other horrors that further damage America's frayed credibility, Frist revealed where his real concerns lie: "I am not concerned about what goes on and I'm not going to comment about the nature of that...My concern is with leaks of information that jeopardize your safety and security ... period. That is a legitimate concern."

>>Rootkits and Bootkicks: Full Details

First Amendment Project Roundup

Every Step You Take...

In another hardly surprising revelation, a feature in today's New York Times presents video and photographs of police officers from NYPD under cover at protests, such as antiwar demonstrations and Critical Mass cycling rallies. (Unlike San Francisco's SFPD which doesn't even bother going under cover for its surveillance of peaceful protests -- see accompanying image).

As the Bush Administration defends the illegal tap dance on the constitution that authorized the National Security Agency (NSA) to eavesdrop on American citizens without a warrant, the notion that America's First Amendment protects dissent is fast becoming nothing more than a myth.

>>Every Step You Take...

Burning Flags and Soiling Seals

In an astounding act of pandering, Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton has joined the likes of California Senator Dianne Feinstein by co-sponsoring a bill that would ban flag burning, although unlike Feinstein she is opposed to a constitutional ban on the act.

While not quite as deranged and insidious as the constitutional amendment proposed by Feinstein, the notion of a woman whose husband desecrated the Office of the United States Presidency by receiving a blowjob in the Oval Office from a young intern, and ejaculating on her dress, is simply absurd. If one is to follow the Clinton example of protecting symbols, one can safely assume that burning the flag is forbidden, but using it as a cloth to wipe off adulterous semen is perfectly okay. Come on Hillary. If there's one thing we expect of you, it's intellect.

>>Burning Flags and Soiling Seals

Words that Kill and Bombs That Chill

Under the United Kingdom's new and controversial Terrorism Bill, the Government proposed a new criminal offence of indirectly encouraging acts of terrorism including by means of glorifying them. In response to the horrific suicide bombing of Maxim's restaurant in Haifa, Israel by 29 year old lawyer Hanadi Tayseer Jaradat, I created an image, Bloody Mary, designed to question the notion of glorification as well as glory in the context of war and belief. Not to glorify terrorism, but to attempt to understand it.

Her Majesty's Attorney General, the long-winded, The Right Honourable The Lord Goldsmith QC believes that turning a blind eye, stifling expression by vague definitions and insidious prosecutions that enable liars and condone violence and half truths to shape the debate will make his nation safer. He couldn't be more misguided, and with the package of goods he's trying to sell, Britain couldn't be lulled into a more false sense of security.

>>Words that Kill and Bombs That Chill


Gender Genre

Set against the backdrop of an impossibly breathtaking Wyoming, Brokeback Mountain, Ang Lee's movie based on the E. Annie Proulx short story about two cowboys, Ennis Del Mar and Jack Twist, (played by Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal respectively) who share a forbidden, passionate and enduring relationship that transcends the inevitability of their circumstances. What makes this movie a cultural milestone is that the homosexuality of these men is so low key that it's difficult to determine whether their rugged masculinity serves as an extension of their deep-rooted repression or its perfect foil. In a film review for the Christian Film & Television Commission, Ted Baehr described the film as "abhorrent" and "twisted, laughable, frustrating and boring neo-Marxist homosexual propaganda." Now there's a reason to see a movie, if ever there was one.

>>Gender Genre

A Poof in Prada

It has become too difficult to refer to Pope Benedict XVI in the masculine gender. It turns out that Papa Razi, or Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger or Popina Benedict I, rather than emulating Pope John Paul II, is fashioning herself after Diana. Gallivanting in designer sunglasses and red Prada slippers, the Petty Pope is raising plucked eyebrows by her extravagant fashion choices.

Popina Benedict I is said to have thrown a diva tantrum after Annibale Gammarelli, (whose firm has been serving the Vatican since 1792), was dropped after Popina was forced to appear in a cossack that revealed her lily white ankles. Oh the horror.

According to CNN, "Alessandro Cattaneo, and the 20-year-old religious-fashion house of Raniero Mancinelli, which has provided the pope with dazzling new vestments (some with shimmering, sequinlike details)" are the new fashion darlings at the Vatican.

As Madonna becomes Kabbalist Esther, it seems the Pope wants to become Madonna. Who's the material girl now?

>>A Poof in Prada

Previous Email

Things Fall Apart

Yes, yes, I know I'm about a month late on my update. Profound and profuse apologies. From Larry Flynt to Tom Delay's tint, I hope the wait proves worthwhile.

The fourth anniversary of September 11th came and went with little fanfare. As I predicted on the first anniversary, America is too attention deficit disordered to focus on the same tragedy with the same intensity for longer than a year without resorting to kitsch sentimentality wrapped in consumerism.

This year, the morphing of the twin towers into two pink triangles, titled Agenda, was aimed to explore how, for some, the notion of appropriating iconography of the modern gay movement (which in turn, appropriated the icons from the artistic whimsy of the Third Reich - used as an execution filtering device to designate homosexuals) conjured the same visceral reaction that morphing the towers in swastikas had, which I had done on the second anniversary. (Analysis notwithstanding, the series makes for a damn pretty triptic.)

>>The details...

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