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Monday, November 30, 2009

The Case for Precipitous Withdrawal, Revisited


A year after this, Andrew Sullivan comes closer to my view, with this:

You do not want empire? Then leave.

I'll stay, if someone else pays. If there is civil war in Iraq, Iran will be dragged in and that will be time to deal with the Persian tyrant. At that time, our oil friends will gladly pay the bill for re-engagement.

During a liquidity trap, we don't "have the money" for a plus-up in Afghanistan. "Emergency Supplemental" debt is not an option, unless team Obama want to look exactly like the fiscal pie-in-the-sky leadership of Bush-Cheney.

All options are no good.

We are fast entering the winter of discontent, and one can only hope that Paul Krugman is wrong. But, the Taylor rule, so far as I know, has not been repealed, so he can't be off by that much. Health care reform hangs on a thread. The list goes on.

The only bright spot is that the mideast peace process is in shambles. Accordingly, there is no reason for Netanyahu to bomb Iran. (What, too cynical?).

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Time to Stop Reading the Internet Today

Quote of the day, from Andrew Sullivan:

Legalizing medical marijuana is spreading globally as fast as marriage equality.

It's too soon.

Gays took a distant second to drugs in Maine, remember?

Not that I'm despondent. Gay marriage polled higher than ferrets in California, afterall.

G Oppose P


From the people who brought America the do-nothing 109th Congress, six of ten GOP "principles" include the word "oppose".

Once again, the Libertarians, who tent with the Republicans, seem oddly silent on this proclamation. Victory by military means only is outlined. Containment by direct intervention is unchallenged.

By the way, what does "oppose" mean? Abuse of cloture?

New Jersey Voters Support Marriage

A kiss is just a kiss...the world will remember lovers, as time goes by, not you Maggie...

Extending civil marriage to gay couples is favored by NJ voters, in a poll done just this month (pdf).

Nevertheless, deep-pocketed organizations continue to spend, in an effort to frighten just enough people. On the heels of radio spots last month, the NOM announced they will spend a cool $500K.

In NJ, lawmakers will have to face whatever last-minute fears that are raised.

Sadly, some Democratic Senators in NJ appear to have longstanding worries not yet allayed by the tedious, but necessary, groundwork laid by gay hopefuls in NJ, who can provide lawmakers with the rebuttals and basic political courage/calculation to face what is perceived as a controversial vote in the next few weeks, if the marriage bill comes out of committee. Started in 2004, Garden State Equality is just five years old.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

The Troubadour of the Lower Fifth

Those who believe that American politics is at all rational do not understand how the Prescott-Bushes, on the heels of Reagan, have empowered a whole group of non-enlightenment citizens to believe.

All this seems on the verge of a critical mass, at the time when the press, as we knew it, is at a nadir; and a new press paradigm of private-pay and company-owned "truth" is likely on the horizon, repeating periods of the same in our history.

To be sure, no party has a cornerstone on the easily led (or misled); but here is democracy at its weakest:

ABC, sadly not 1-2-3


The Spice Girls can parade male dancers on leashes as dogs on tour, with impunity, in front of screaming teenagers.

Apparently, ABC cannot stomach that Adam Lambert does a crotch grind with a dancer and a kiss with a very kissable keyboardist at the 2009 AMA...:

Krauthammer shows off his half hammer

Charles Krauthammer is distraught to the point of apoplexy over the prospect of having to listen to jihadis ramble in court.

Sure, it's a problem. Has anyone denied that, Left or Right?

What's a bigger problem?

The fact that Bush-Cheney never, in eight years or so, got KSM tried, one way or the other, along with many others and much work left undone. Seriously, their entire failed legal strategy escapes CK, as does the non-military trials that were done in the USA and elsewhere, leaving CK with nothing to offer except his junglisms:

Indeed, the perfect justice. Whenever a jihadist volunteers for martyrdom, we should grant his wish.

Perfect justice? Good grief. It's almost like a moral vacuum, every time CK opens his mouth on these topics.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

This marriage would be fully "recognized"

...by the Mormons, the Church of the Latter Day Saints.

Yet, gay kids get told they are like medieval jews or something, held in a sorry-but-no stratification, to keep their heads down or whatever. Do you see why such an attitude only heightens the injustice?

[Check out also the Elvis "Blue Hawaii" Special, complete with "Only Fools Rush In"]

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Chart for the Day


As the poem says, it's good to be a soldier in wartime, in many respects.

However, as the Bush-era conflicts drag on the price to the Republic shows up in a higher structural cost for the standing army:

Remember that per-capita income in Afghanistan is around $450, with a GDP of circa $12 billion.

Basically, we might be able to pay the entire country a year's income, for just what is might cost to fly all our soldiers, politicians, and equipment back-and-forth on the "new" rules about how long someone is supposed to be deployed and the aging of the fleet(s).

Fear of the Rightwing in America...

I saw this headline this morning, and I have to say, it sent shivers...:

Obama Travels to Texas for Service at Fort Hood"

In separate news, "H1N1 vaccines up to 45 days behind schedule"

If this had been the government producing these vaccines, it'd have drawn ire.

Why is it no one appears to be observing that "Big Business" is not much better than "Big Government"?

Sunday, November 8, 2009

The Christian Way to Rub It In

Over the next six months, I wonder how the Catholic Archdiocese of Portland, who paid huge sums to sway Maine voters, would react if a busload of gay couples showed up each week, unannounced, and smooched throughout their, er, tax-free political organizing meeting, aka "worship services".
Maggie Gallagher, former analyst now out of her league as head of the big-money financed "National Organization for Marriage [of nongays]", decided it was 'okay' to just pop by the D.C. rally this week, following her self-proclaimed 'victory' in Maine.

Was it a form of intimidation?

Afterall, she and others have been out frantically trying to spin Maine so that it has a chilling affect on ... well, everything from health care reform to legislators in New Hampshire and New Jersey. (Of course, they want results to bolster the money flow from their doners, too).

Was it just provocation?


It is amazing how much provocation gay folks are meant to just let pass.

Over the next six months, I wonder how the Catholic Archdiocese of Portland, who paid huge sums to sway Maine voters, would react if a busload of gay couples showed up each week, unannounced, and smooched throughout their political organizing meeting, aka "worship services".

They'd probably get an act of Congress, just as family members of service men and women did, when indefatigable gay-hater Fred Phelps started showing up at funerals for Iraqi soldiers.

I wonder how well-connected honcho Robert P. George would react, if some started picketing his organization in tranquil Princeton? Afterall, during the Bush administration, the orgs he's connected with secured gay tax dollars in order to pay partisans of his tailored view of natural law. (That's right - gay people paid indirectly for their own "discrimination research"...).

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Marriage Advertising Design

AS writes, today:

We can, of course, do both. A campaign that in future took on the Catholic hierarchy for its tolerance of child abuse while denying grown people marriage rights would be a promising start. Ads reminding people of the Mormon church's long, long history of racism would also be salient. We're new to this, and we're learning.
Okay, not so obviously.

First, while "we may be new to this", the principals of running a strategic ad campaign are not. Begin by asking, who is our gay Frank Schubert? If one doesn't exist, that's a potential cause for concern, right?

Does there have to be just one? Well, no, but consider also that NOM can leverage their same ads from state-to-state, while state-led counter-efforts do not get to re-use most of their material. It's a cost disadvantage. Not sure how large, but it is one. It's also a time disadvantage, especially when events are moving fast. (New Jersey is trying to put together a campaign, apparently, under the gun).

The rest, I'll shorthand. Personal stories are great! However, as a group, they aren't a series of driving messages, like the opposition has. That may be why they "feel" a little flaccid. There are at least two ways to round out those stories with hard hitting rebuttal, focusing on pitfalls of the oppositions ideas (negative implications that they ignore-safe harbor for hate, education they ignore, the gay kids, etc.) as well as a direct refutation (e.g. one-man-one-woman is not scriptural, their Christian message is unbalanced, their anxiety exaggerated, etc.), raising doubt that they are manipulating by not telling the truth about matters, etc.

What to say, exactly? Well, it would do to have some focus groups in Maine, and to do some exploration of how and why people voted the way they did, to see what information or implications they swallowed from "Yes on 1" and what information, had they had it, might have changed their mind. It's possible that most people did not get their opinion from advertising, enough that maybe even the margin that did is insignificant...

Of course, it doesn't do any good if such information exists, but is confined to the hallowed halls of one organization or cabal. protecting their livelihood or whatever else, either...

Finally, too much negativity, at least in election politics, puts down voter turnout. It has to be a honed, targeted message. People won't show up to vote 'mormons are historically racist', as a general proposition.

Friday, November 6, 2009

15 Minutes of Fame ...

...except on today's Right, it's your chance at being exploited nationally by content-hungry front-organizations, or 15 minutes of being victimized by purported non-Christians, or whatever.

Of course, I refer to the tragic case of Carrie Prejean, who was so devastatingly misled by those teaching her, even to the point that she dug her heels in. From NOM's centerpiece, "updated" with the new revelations that Carrie was, er, a show-off, before she was a "Christian beauty contestant" (if one can wrap their head around that one) ...

Of course, they are already on to the next one. Ho, hum.

Notice the tag line, "Protecting marriage and the faith communities that sustain it". Is there any doubt that they are pushing beliefs about religious faith?

On the other hand, enough of these stories are a bulwark against which the images of gay couples telling their stories can be contrasted. It's not like these groups are after the Truth. Like the Taliban, they are after power, they are after a "win".

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Spinning Maine

One Man and One Woman is NOT Scriptural

Look, Mr. Perkins may have the financial luxury of living his life for the sake of "History" or "Antropological purity", passing out moral judgments that are the hardship of others to bear; but I represent real couples, gay kids, and families that ought to have their relationships civilly recognized and legally protected, period.
This is long, but there is no shortcut.

I'm not sure how much these newshour debates matter, in terms of public opinion making, but I've been thinking about the suggestions of some, like Justin, to not be afraid to, in one way or another, incorporate some religious "thinking" into the dialog.

Two items:

1. One-man-and-One-woman is NOT scriptural

I don't see any harm in saying so, especially because it raises doubt about the self-appointed arbiters, who write books called Personal Faith, Public Lies (or whatever it was).

The term "traditional marriage" is subterfuge, to some degree. Why not be clear with the audience/voters: "one man and one woman" is NOT scriptural. It would be okay, I think, to use the word "scriptural", even an imperative. Put another way, when someone objects that we are changing the definition of marriage, their coded implication is that people should vote their religious beliefs, their religious definition, their "personal faith" definition. Of course, it is exactly that type of action that needs be stopped, by making people conscious of how they are being manipulated by language.

After that, the argument is easy, because the subsequent appeals to "common sense" (Maggie Gallagher) and "anthropology" (David Blankenhorn) can be easily knocked over. For example, "Did you understand that, Andersen, about History and Antropology? I didn't. Look, Mr. Perkins may have the financial luxury of living his life for the sake of 'History' or 'Antropological purity', passing out moral judgments that are the hardship of others to bear; but I represent real couples, gay kids, and families that ought to have their relationships recognized and legally protected, period." (One can go on, here, right ... there is plenty of room left for an escalating rant.)

Last, this whole "redefinition of marriage" is appealing to some with that kind of mindset. Is there a short way to combat the inherent falsity, a soundbite method? Yes, perhaps, as follows: If you have a bookcase and you put a another shelf in it, it is still a bookcase. There is no redefinition. The bookcase is still a bookcase. Nongays will continue to marry each other, with the same expectations, and society will continue. Just as it has been doing in Canada, Spain, and Norway, and every other place that gays get married, already.

2. Freedom to teach your kids

This idea is not religious, but it has overtones in the conversation that religion is not opposed to knowledge.

I don't know what Mr. Perkins intends to teach his kids. My message might be something like this: "You are free to teach your kids morals or conduct that you believe right, to give them that kind of education. But, you are not entitled to your own facts about the world. Mr. Perkins should be upfront with the voters: No amount of voting is going to change the number of gay couples or gay kids. Hiding from the world is not any faith-based sensibility that I know. Kids will find out that there are other gay kids, even Christian ones. Mr. Perkins can get votes by offering a temporary, false comfort to voters that they can somehow avoid that, but eventually these kids are going to resent him and his organization for having misled them.

*postcript - this is not a screed against Evan. He's a very capable advocate. He's also very approachable.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Khamenei's Worshipers

They used to worship Allah.

Now, all they have left to worship (legally) and pragmatically is Khamenei...

The Catholic Church in Maine

"LEWISTON, Maine -- Two of the five Catholic churches in Lewiston will close by the end of October."


"According to the tally, 7,300 Lewiston residents voted yes on Question 1 and 5,121 voted no."

The perception of marriage as a civil issue didn't make it.

"In 2005, Lewiston went for No on 1 by 53.5% [referendum on nondiscrimination repeal]. In 2009, it was 60-40 Yes on 1. Another way to see the very real change there is that Lewiston’s No vote results in 2005 were 1.5 percentage points less than the state No vote, while in 2009 Lewiston’s No vote was 7 percentage points less than the state’s overall No vote."-Prof Amy Field, (see comment section)

"Descent" of the Day

Andrew Sullivan, today, writes eloquently (as always?):

The truth about civil marriage - why it is the essential criterion [my emphasis] for gay equality - is that it alone explodes this core marginalization and invisibility of gay people. It alone can reach those gay kids who need to know they have a future as a dignified human being with a family. It alone tells society that gay people are equal in their loves and in their hearts and in their families - not just useful in a society with a need for talented or able individuals whose private lives remain perforce sequestered from view.

This is why it remains the prize. And why our eyes must remain fixed upon it.

On a day when we are probably all feeling some solidarity of the close fight, I'll risk taking mild exception to this, even at the additional risk of being called a pinko commie Marxist (a charge that would never stick, except in the alternative Malkin-Universe, maybe - or galaxy? the Malkyway?).

Marriage is key and has its special importance, as described; but it is not alone. People are "defined" by their work too, broadly put. In fact, the key quasi-voluntary civil relationships that dominate most people's waking hours are those that they have through 'the office' or their clients, i.e. work.

This is why ENDA is not peripheral. Workplace nondiscrimination is a key part of full civil inclusion, too.

Clinton, Lack of Judgment, 2009 Edition

Just because he got away with it in Canada doesn't mean it is going to fly in NYC.

Sooner or later, someone is going to ask why he is showing up on stage with a war criminal, right?

The Face of Injustice

Had the Maine vote gone the other way, would you have seen anyone crying? What would they cry about? Afterall, their lives would go on undiminished.

If there is a 'hard edge' to be added to campaigns, it centers on injustice.

(photo:AP/Pat Wellenbach)

Update: Queerty has the callous quote to go with this picture.

"Islamic Republic" = Cheap Police State

The Stalin of Qom has turned his 'guardianship' into not too much more than a cheap police state.

Three million - three million!!! - 'extra-legal' "police" will be deployed, in defense of the defenders defending themselves.

Clearly, with so many on the payroll, the regime itself has become the cornerstone of social-welfare spending... good grief, what a comedown in such a short time.

Maine, The Day After

A moving statement from the Campaign Director of "No on 1", who ran a campaign with content that everyone could be proud of. You just have to respect that an enormous amount of energy must go into a campaign, even when the ability to 'change minds' appears to be limited on this topic.


The campaign produced extraordinarily notable moments, many of which will go into liberation history pages, I imagine. Here is one of the more memorable ones, based on its heartfelt message and the wisdom of the years, wisdom that rivals the book-learning of any scripture toting Pharisee.

"Together, we have four children, including the one gay son. All four of our boys were in the service. ...I was born on a potato farm north of Caribou..."

The hardhearted "Yes on 1" campaign, led by NOM, turned ugly, as it had in California's Prop 8, not only because it was the same folks behind it. Fear ads closed their campaign, especially stoking fear over 'teaching homosexuality'. NOM lost their bid to paper-over their finances, but never had to fully disclose them to the voting public, either. One wonders if that legal slight-of-hand isn't worth a court-action on the final vote. Last, blissfully ignoring the trends, which put U-Maine campuses at 80% in favor of gays, for instance, the Catholic Church weighed in, throwing about the weight of their tax-free status as a "charitable organization".


The military and a few other groups are disciplined about doing lessons learned. Here, the people involved are just as insightful, often, as any pundit, so I'll be listening.

Clearly, the lessons of the Prop 8 campaign were taken to heart, at least in a large part. That's a big step forward, right? The case is the case, for good or ill. It cannot be successfully slanted, dressed up or dressed down.

Some lessons are not important. A challenge of this particular kind isn't on the immediate horizon, unless NY moves forward with its marriage bill (NJ won't, under new Gov Christie). Most states already have constitutional amendments, many with super-majorities. That's more likely to shape the next 20 years. Still inequality-for-all groups have targeted NY and NJ, and they've followed through in the past.

Gay groups have seldom shown tremendous organizational prowess. There will always be room to improve. I have no comprehensive or authoritative redux, here. My only question about overall strategy is why gay groups didn't organize to collect signatures for their own ballot initiative, once it was clear that the opposition was doing it. An immediate response to an imminent threat. Most people don't know what the heck they are voting in the booth. If you put two questions before them, you split the vote. It's like having two people with the name "Kennedy" on the ticket. Too much wait-and-see early on (overconfidence?), a bit like California? Qien sabe? Given the tactics of NOM, I don't feel compromised suggesting a sly strategy.

Should groups who are building experience fighting NOM develop ways to 'go negative', to raise fear, doubt, and uncertainty of our own?

There are questions about feedback, that I have. After Canada passed equality, opinion polling for equality jumped 1-2%, as best I recall, from what it was before the polling. Does the outcome of these miserable pollings on basic rights solidify people's view? If so, are there important counter-measures, after-actions? For instance, one might want to run a series of "post election ads" of one sort or another, to prevent a solidification, to clear up lingering mis-information, to let people know that the issue is NOT settled.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

The sad face of Republican healthcare

The courts' jesters have new jests:

I mean, just look at him. Can you feel the excitement?

After bringing us the do-nothing 109th Congress, they have suddenly found something to do.

It appears that huge bank mergers were such a success that they would like to, as a top national priority, let the same thing occur with insurance companies.

Monday, November 2, 2009

The Politics of General Anxiety Creation

The Republican Anxiety Circle

It's written that fear is the great mind destroyer, and if you read today's Murdoch Street Journal, you might believe it, because this article is so thinly reasoned, factually bereft, and contextless it's ludicrous.

Except I no longer believe it. This missive joins a long stream, all part of a creating a 'mindset', fraught with anxiety, fear, and loathing.

Later, these general anxieties and alienation can become concretized, if the Democrats, Obama, or circumstances allow.

This is why all that can be said of American politics is that the 'loyal opposition' is really mostly just waiting for Obama to have a Lewinsky moment or for any true dilemma to go against him, so they can channel all the energy they've been building up under such pretenses as 'Traditional America is Losing Its Nation', Glen Beck crying bathetically on national television for America, and so forth. They have nothing now; but later, they can trumpet, "See, THIS is what we have been warning you about!".

It's a nasty game. Yet, they talk about public 'service' as if it were laudable and use words like patriotic. What a fraud.

GOP Blowing Smoke on Taxes, "Small Government"

Remember this speech, wherein John McCain promised that the regional Republicans would DO something about earmarks, waste, and spending? 'My friends, I will make them famous ...!', he promised.

What's John McCain been up to? Well, he's proposed internet legislation that would throw consumers to the wolves. He's been out defending property rights, according to his website.

Have you heard any Senator's earmark getting "made famous" by John McCain?

In other words, the Reagan Revolution on taxes, having run its course, is almost all smoke-and-mirrors. The Bush Administration never - never once - made revenues equal expenses.

Jindal's "Mankiw Moment" - A Warning to New Jersey


After having followed Bush in passing out unpaid tax-cut candy, Louisiana's GOP Gov, Bobby Jindal, faced his 'Mankiw moment' a while back, as the state's finances went into the trash barrel, with a distinct revenue problem.

Now, he's proposed cutting back hard on higher education, health care and firing 1,200 state employees (bringing the total to over 3,000).

That's right, for the most part, the GOP's one-way train on taxes is now hitting education, health care, and the ability of the state of even properly handle what work it has to do...

Without the Federal aide coming to his state, Jindal would be looking for another $3+ billion to finance his ideology, over the upcoming years. He seems to suggest that consolidating mental health facilities in New Orleans is somehow more than a drop in the bucket.

In New Jersey, Chris Christie is promising voters an unpaid for tax cut. John McCain is robo calling voters to say that this is the change that New Jersey needs.

Please - we've seen the ending to that movie, already.