Saturday, November 29, 2008

Could The Coming Depression End Up Being...Not That Bad?

Okay, I will probably once again end up eating crow for saying this. But I would like the throw out the possibility that we have now sufficiently scared everyone into just how bad a downturn we're in and that may end up being...not quite as bad as the worst fears.

I'm not saying unemployment won't continue to increase. I'm not saying there aren't still liquidity and credit problems. I'm not saying we won't have at least two more quarters of negative GDP. I'm not saying that the consumer is going to wake up tomorrow and suddenly realize it's okay to go on a spending binge. I'm not even saying we've seen the last of the declining home values, which precipitated all this mess.

I'm not even saying that Paul Krugman is wrong to say we are entering an era of Depression Economics. After all, he's a Nobel laureate. What do I know?

All I am saying is, it seems to me that the American consumer is a) scared shitless and b) having trouble tapping into credit. The former is a bad thing; the latter is actually not so bad. And given the way that Obama has reassured the markets this past week, what would happen if Obama's administration hits the ground running in January with a similar level of calm reassurance?

What if the end of January sees the markets start to recover, and a Dow back over 10,000, even as unemployment continues to rise, all as a result of restored confidence in our leadership? After all, this would be the expected bust/recovery pattern.

Wouldn't that both a) make consumers a little less scared and b) help out struggling financial companies whose beaten-down stocks are driving down their cash reserves, and encourage them to be a little less stingy lending out their dough? In other words, wouldn't this take the vice off the consumer spending freeze, and get the consumer shopping a bit more again?

And wouldn't that be the kind of good news that would signal a recovery on the way, and encourage businesses and others to invest? Not to mention the 700 billion of stimulus that would be headed our way?

Again, not that 2009 won't open with pain, unemployment, soup lines, and foreclosures headlining the news. But 90% of Americans will still be working. And once they realize the world isn't going to fall off a cliff, they may start doing again what Americans do: living their lives, and spending what it takes to do it.

In other words, I'm just wondering if the financial crisis isn't being exacerbated by a crisis in leadership that's creating a much larger crisis of confidence - a George W. Bush crisis. Once we have new leadership, a leadership that seems completely on top of things followed by a natural turning of the financial cycle - the end of 2009 may end up looking nothing like the end of 2008.

Then again, if I'm wrong, crow may be the only thing I'll have around to eat.

UPDATE: Then again, we could just take Latvia's approach and arrest everyone who reports bad news.

Hoards of Shoppers Trample Walmart Employee

What seems worse than the tragedy of zombie shoppers trampling to death the employee trying to let them into the store is the uncontrolled moralizing that has ensued. The conclusion on the left is that capitalism corrupts the soul and on the right that liberalism turns poor people and minorities into mindless zombies.

I just wonder if the panic to get the last discount doohickey or die trying isn't anything more than a sad symbol of how much I hate this time of year.

Friday, November 28, 2008

"Milk" - Best Movie of the Year?

The film about the life and times of gay activist Harvey Milk receives a 93% rating on Rottentomateos (a higher rating than Oscar-worthy films like Frost/Nixon, Australia, The Changeling, Appaloosa, Burn After Reading, Body of Lies, and Vicky Christina Barcelona. Of released movies this year with substantial reviews, only Wall-E rates higher).

Could the Academy decide to make up for the slighting of Brokeback Mountain by giving this year's Oscar to Milk?

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Victory: Mormon Church Investigated for Role In Prop 8

The Mormon's have finally been outed.

The Fair Political Practices Commission has notified the Mormon church that it will investigate a claim that the church did not disclose the value of non-monetary campaign activities.

Maybe all this attention will make them think twice before they launch the next campaign to take away people's rights in other states.

Florida Gay Adopton Ban: Maybe Unconstitutional?

I know I should be more exited about the news that a judge in Florida ruled its archaic, thirty-year old gay adoption ban unconstitutional. But this case still needs to go to the Florida Supreme Court, so it's not over yet.

I'm more closely concerned about what's going to happen in California. If the Court rules against gays, then the next step is getting a repeal on the ballot in 2010. But a YES on repeal is going to be harder to achieve than the YES on 8 (always harder to repeal). Unless the campaign is well organized and well funded (and even if it is), it's going to be a tough fight.

I'm also more interested in the case wending it's way to the court in Iowa. I lived in Iowa. It's hard to believe that gays in Iowa would be able to get married before those in New York City or San Francisco. But I suppose anything's possible.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

No Girly-Dog For Obama

Obama tells Barbara Walters he doesn't want a fru-fru "girly-dog" like a Havanese. He wants a "real man" dog. Presumably a Rottweiler or Pit Bull.

I understand the point. My husband felt the same way. Wanted a big dog to romp around and toss a stick with. Until we got Zoey. Who is, I will say, unique and all her own creature.
Not all small dogs are "girly" dogs. Beagles are very loyal and great scent hounds; Terriers are athletic, fun-loving things that are great at sports like agility; Sheep dogs are medium size bundles of energy that will herd your sheep, goats, kids, you, and anything else that requires rounding up for bedtime.

And there's one other point. Just because he doesn't want a "girly-dog," I hope Obama won't rule out a female dog. Not that I have anything against the male of the species, but while male dogs can get to be a bit obsessive about the one thing they like to play with (think boys watching football), female dogs really do exhibit a broader range of emotions, and really do seem to think of themselves as another member of the family. Just be sure they're spayed.

Some of Zoey's many moods.

The Republican Factions: Need To Fix Their Message, Not Give In To Narrow Interests

Dave at Political Machine makes the case that Republicans need to unite all three wings of the party: social conservatives, fiscal conservatives, and foreign policy conservatives - if they are to have a winning coalition.

Reagan did it, but in a much different way. Here's what's changed, and I think this is what people like Kathleen Parker are getting on about when they start criticizing the overly influential religious right.

In Reagan's day, the social conservatives were shock troops. But they didn't carry the party message. Reagan carried a party message that was a strong amalgam of fiscal conservatism and foreign policy conservatism (the former a response to '70's economic malaise, and the latter primarily being a response to Iran, and the Cold War).

What W. Bush has done is emboldened the social conservatives - so that they seem to be out front now, leading the message - while completely undermining the Republican's fiscal conservative brand (they may talk small government, but no one is convinced they know how to handle the economy any more). The war in Iraq also did a lot of damage to the strong foreign policy brand ("strong" got to be tied up with "stupid" and "irresponsible").

As Bill Clinton so wisely intuited, it's the economy, stupid. Voters are always going to lead with their pocketbooks, except possibly in a time of war, when foreign policy may weigh in. Social conservative values are never going to be the primary interests for anyone other than the small, 25% hard-right religious minority. And that minority is getting smaller over time.

Republicans may need to unite all three wings, but what they need to do first is rebuild their credibility on fiscal conservatism and foreign policy, before voters will trust them again. Right now, Obama is putting together a stellar team both in terms of the economy and foreign policy that will likely put the nail in that coffin for years.

If Obama can convince enough voters that he's also more in touch with social values than the shrill anti-gay, anti-science social conservatives roiling the Republicans, he'll have trumped the Republicans on all three messages.

If I were them, I wouldn't be trying to do again what lost this thing for them in 2008. I'd be scared about the political genius who just took over the White House, and trying to figure out how not to get outflanked by him on all three of their message coalitions.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Marriage Equity March on Washington: Self Organizing on Facebook?

The call for a marriage equity March on Washington seems to be picking up steam. There are already three Facebook networks planning a march and this page devoted to discussion the best time for it to occur.

My vote is mid-September. Any time before summer is too soon to organize well. But you want to do it before school gets going too much, but August is a terrible time to plan anything in DC. So September, I think. Though timing it in October for the 30th anniversary of the first March isn't a bad idea either.

Should Bush's Dog Barney Get a Pardon?

Some people are up in arms about Bush's potentially pardoning "every appointee and employee he has ever had - and their dogs."

However, if anyone in the Bush administration deserves to get a pardon, I think it should be Barney.

After all, when it comes down to biting reporters, at least Barney can argue it was just instinct.

Barney is caught in the criminal act.

Another Prop 8 Blacklist "Success"

Richard Raddon, the director of the LA Film Festival, resigns over his donation to Yes on 8, and the angry mob celebrates.

Yes, I still endorse boycotts and protests.

And I think Bill Condon is wrong to defend Raddon's contribution as his "personal religion." Raddon's right to his private personal religion stops at the point where it starts to take away MY rights.

Yet I still don't believe in a blacklist. However, I think in this case, Raddon probably had to go.

Now, all of you are going to be probably a bit put off by the distinction I'm making here, but here it is:

In the first "blacklist" case, an artistic director was drummed out of his job. That's a classic example of a blacklist, and it's disconcerting. As I've said, people do have a right to their own personal bigotry, and bigots should be able to earn a livelihood, even if their bigotry is politically offensive (as long as it's legal).

In Raddon's case, however, he was Chairman of the Board of a non-profit foundation. Quite a lot of the public were upset with the foundation that someone who Chaired their board was promoting discrimination.

The board wanted to support him. The public didn't. In this case, it makes sense for Raddon to leave, if the Film Festival wants to remain a respectable festival. Or he could stay, and the Film Festival can become the equivalent of the Neo-Nazi film festival or the Mormon Film Festival or some other kind of special interest travesty.

In other words, Raddon wasn't "blacklisted" from working and making a living. He was essentially put into a position where if he didn't resign, the group he represented wouldn't be able to continue to afford the respect it wanted from the community it wanted to serve.

Which was, I think, essentially correct. Raddon's resignation was the proper response to a properly targeted boycott. He's perfectly capable of going out and volunteering for some other organization that's more reflective of his views.

By the way, all those of you on the right who think people should stop declaring boycotts over the Prop 8 issue - where were you when these guys were declaring a boycott of Google for supporting No on 8?

Seems you only like boycotts if they're on your side of the issue.

Obama Picks Gates, Goes for Unity

Tapping Gates for Secretary of Defense once again reveals the tensions between the two Obamas.

It's beginning to become clear that what Obama is doing is assembling the Pragmatist Cabinet.

Being a pragmatist myself, I personally like this cabinet.

But it's clear that if Obama's going to keep his base happy, he's going to have to lead this band with a bit more of Obama the Idealist.

Or, to borrow the violin metaphor from David Rothkopf ("hold power with your left hand, play the music with your right"), looks like Obama's building a pretty first class bow. What we don't know anything about yet is what kind of violin he's going to play.

Unless you believe this analysis of Obama's violin by Nate Silver.

A Republican Agrees That Republicans are Anti-Science

A Republican agrees with me that the anti-science attitude of the Republican party is one of its two biggest - and hardest to change - losing core planks.

(The other is a kind of twin phenomenon of gay- and Hispanic-bashing, though they may correct the latter before the former.)

How can you win more votes when you are campaigning both against reality and against voters?

Predicted Breakup of U.S. Into Separate Countries

Today, a Russian analyst predicted the breakup of the U.S. into six separate countries due to the faltering economy.

I actually think he's underestimating: I've come up with ten separate regions for the impending breakup. They're mapped out below.
Hey, let's do the capitols too.

Country: Capitol City
Gaymarriagia: Amherst, MA
New Obama Beach: Washington DC
The Auto Wastelands: ----- (no government exists)
South Canada: Chicago, IL
Walmarshlands: Bentonville, AK
Gunrackistan: Mount Rushmore, SD
Hispania: Las Cruces, NM
Republic of California: Sacramento, CA
Pallinville: Wasilla

280000 Per Job? Only If You Add, Not Subtract

This professor might be good at economics; he's not very good at math.

He claims the Obama stimulus plan comes out to $280,000 per job, by dividing the amount of stimulus by the number of jobs Obama claims he will add (2.5 million).

What he forgets to do is subtract the number of jobs that would be lost in the downturn if we did nothing. If it's already a million, there'll probably be another million lost after Obama takes office early in 2009. And you need to figure out how many jobs would be lost WITHOUT the stimulus. Three million? Five? Obama needs to make up for the jobs potentially lost before he can create the additional 2.5 million. So that money is closer to $100,000 a job, if that. And that only gets us back to today's 6.5% unemployment rate. If we want to go back to 5% unemployment (before this crisis hit) we'll need another 250,000 jobs.

$100,000 a job is still a lot, though.

Bush's Legacy: Trillion Dollar Deficits

I'm all for government stimulus to get the economy moving again, but this number is eye-popping.

The deficit, Mark Zandi, chief economist and co-founder of Moody's, said at Senate Budget Committee hearings last week, "could easily exceed $1 trillion in fiscal 2009 and go even higher in 2010." He said borrowing by the Treasury could top $2 trillion this year....

The debt, which stood at about $5.7 trillion in 2007, topped the $10 trillion mark in October and now stands at about $10.6 trillion.

(Actually, I think he means $5.7 trillion in 2001, at least according to this graph. Note that the graph only goes to 2007. For 2008, it's going to be off the charts.).

So to put this in perspective: Clinton had three years of budget surpluses his last three years in office, including giving Bush a $127 billion surplus.

Bush is giving Obama a trillion dollar deficit.

Talk about binging on your credit cards....

Monday, November 24, 2008

Republicans Talking Down The Economy Are Unpatriotic

You know, when Democrats criticized the war, Republicans went on endlessly about how ANY criticism of the war was unpatriotic, giving solace to the enemy, etc. etc. Democrats didn't ACTUALLY say things like "I hope Al Qaeda wins" or "there should be another terrorist attack," they just said that they WAY Bush was fighting the war on terrorism was muddle-headed and wrong. Yet the administration did all it can to paint such views as giving comfort to the enemy.

Here's Cheney on Meet the Press, a perfect example.

I have no compunction about Republicans criticizing Obama's plans for fixing the economy - when he comes up with some - if they can offer anything better (and better than what their own party has been doing this year).

But Republicans seem to be ACTUALLY ROOTING AGAINST a recovery. Here's another one:

There is a bright side. Now that the Democrats control the White House and Congress, they will get blamed for everything that goes wrong.“Things can turn,” the senator says, growing less glum. “These are pretty tough times to be in charge. These are pretty tough times to have power.”

So I say, shouldn't we start calling this rooting against Obama and against the recovery for what it really is: treasonous?

Certainly more so than Democrats criticising a bungled war.

Not All Right-Wing Bloggers Have Lost Their Sense of Humor

Here's one today that still appreciates a little sarcasm.

Brilliant opener:

Ending weeks of speculation and rumors, President-Elect Barack Obama today named Bill Clinton to join his incoming administration as President of the United States, where he will head the federal government's executive branch

I actually think the rest is pretty funny too.

Lizard People May Cost The Dems Their 60 Votes

Who said your vote doesn't count?

This guy wrote in "Lizard People" (along with Al Franken) on his ballot, and now the entire fate of the U.S. congress may come down to his vote.

Would kind of love to see a televised cage-match ultimate fight between the Lizard People and Joe the Plumber, wouldn't you? The winner gets to pick who goes to the Congress.

Not only, I think, would it be just as fair as our current vote challenge system, it would also be more entertaining.

Republicans Are Dangerously Off-Base About Economy

Here's Boehner quoted in the Washington Post today:

"But the American people know that more Washington spending isn't the answer."

Uh - excuse me, no. With disinflation picking up speed, more spending (on the right sorts of stimulation) is EXACTLY the answer.

But why would anyone listen to these idiots about the economy now? It was stupidity like this that got us into this mess. Someone should stuff Boehner in a closet while the rest of the room tries to save our asses, and quickly.

Or is it simply, as some suggest, that Republicans WANT to turn this into a Great Depression so that Obama will get the blame? I'd hate to think they were that cynical, but after reading this, I have my doubts.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

What a Twenty-First Century Depression Might Look Like

There are a lot of arguments today on the blogosphere about whether we are really teetering on a Great Depression or whether the analogy is not quite correct.

I'll leave the prognostications about the economy to others. All I will say is that sure, things could continue to get worse. Then again, Obama could take office on January 20th with a $700 billion stimulus plan in hand and things could slowly start to turn around.

Either way, one thing is certain: we're in for some pain for a while. And if this crisis did turn into something approximating a real financial collapse, what we might see might be a whole lot different than the 1930's.

First of all, most of us may be losing retirement nest eggs. But if we have any savings at all, it's likely to be safe. We won't find ourselves suddenly out on the street without some kind of warning. The wealth we are losing now is largely something we planned on for the future. So even though the financial pain we have now might be lessened, that future we planned may not be as secure as we imagined, especially when the government runs out of money to supplement it. The stock market may not recover for decades either. In other words, our poverty will be more spread out for the rest of our lives, as our investments and government safety nets dwindle into our old age, instead of something we feel immediately.

Secondly, the pain is likely to be unevenly distributed geographically. Whole towns in Michigan and California might turn into ghost towns of empty, abandoned houses. But systems like ATMs, grocery stores, video games, the Internet, and gas pumps will likely still function, and areas in the Northeast, in the mountain West, may actually continue to function close to normal. Instead of Joads crossing a dust bowl, we'd have families downsizing to apartments and relatives all over the country.

Thirdly, jobs may disappear, but from what I hear from my laid off friends is that rather than work for companies, people are looking to become free agents, forming temporary project based associations to accomplish small tasks. However, with 30% of the country looking for freelance work, expect there to be stiff price competition. The average American will likely earn something close to the average Indian or Belarussian.

And so - this is how we get to our lower standard of living. This is the inevitable result of globalization and the end of empire. We don't become beggars in bread lines starving on the street. Instead, we move into smaller homes, smaller apartments, earn less, work harder, with little job security, and postpone or forget about retirement. We become a second world country, scraping by to afford food and shelter, and that's the Great Depression of the 21st Century.

Unless we do something to stop it.

Smart Obama Changes His Mind On Taxes

Who said Obama wasn't a smart guy?

In today's New York Times:

Mr. Obama is also said to be reconsidering a key campaign pledge: his proposal to repeal the Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans. According to several people familiar with the discussions, he might instead let those tax cuts expire as scheduled in 2011, effectively delaying any tax increase while he gives his stimulus plan a chance to work.

Obama's insistance on sticking with the Bush tax rollbacks was the one position of his I disagreed with. I was hoping he was sticking to it during the election as a political calculation that any change of mind on it would create a political firestorm, not because he really believed that raising taxes during a Depression was a good idea.

Obama once again proves something that those of us who have been around a while have been having a hard time believing: we might actually be able to have faith in the good judgement of a politician.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Goodbye George W. Bush - A Thanksgiving Remembrance

"Our enemies are innovative and resourceful, and so are we. They never stop thinking about new ways to harm our country and our people, and neither do we."
--George W. Bush, August 5, 2004

As Thanksgiving approaches, many are wishing for no better gift than for George W. Bush to resign early. And while some would like to eulogize Bush's accomplishments, I, instead come not to praise W., but to bury him.

For, early or not, in just a couple more months, the terrible disaster of the George W. Bush presidency will be over.

But...hold your cheers for a moment. For now, as the great American holiday of Thanksgiving is upon us, let us take a journey down memory lane to remember the amazing accomplishments of the past eight years of this magnificent Presidency, and to give thanks.

For who could forget our beloved leader reading the importantly instructive "My Pet Goat" while the twin towers fell, and his immensely inspiring twenty minute pause for inner reflection during this time of mass panic?

There is then, of course, the revelation of the infamous report, "Bin Laden Determined to Attack in the U.S.," proving the White House was more than prescient in its attitude to ignore the threats about domestic terrorism.

Let us remember that the Administration reacted swiftly to the crisis, demonstrating a clear facility and ease for manufacturing false intelligence (otherwise known as the "miracle of the yellowcake") as well as the brilliant insight required to re-employ journalists as tools for suppressing descent and White House operatives for smearing political opponents and committing perjury.

And who, indeed, was not "shocked and awed" by the invasion of the country that had nothing to do with the attacks - Iraq - and swift resolution of our purpose there to find weapons of mass destruction...ahem, I mean route out and destroy Al Qaeda...ahem, I mean establish a shining beacon of American democracy in the middle east...ahem, I mean, depose Saddam and reap the economic benefits of middle-eastern oil...ahem, I mean, establish a permanent military base in the middle east...ahem, I mean, just see if we can stop the internecine bloodshed for long enough to get our asses out of there? And was the mission not successfully accomplished to much brouhaha and fanfare, as our leader proclaimed in 2003?

After such clear early success, Bush became truly a new-technology pioneer, uniting phone and Internet companies with the visionary goal of creating a vast new secret government network for spying on American citizens.

And will not Guantanamo Bay and the policy of "secret rendition" of political enemies to far-flung ex-Soviet-block countries for torture-interrogation programs forever be remembered as one of America's most inspiring programs for democracy?

However, I think, for some of us, what we will miss most is the extraordinary literary focus of Bush Administration, with for instance Bush's eloquent speech titled, "Fool me Once, Shame On — Shame On You. Fool Me — You Can't Get Fooled Again," and the particularly remarkable poetic ode by Staff Existentialist, Donald "Shit Happens" Rumsfeld: "Known Unknowns and Unknown Unknowns."

There was also, of course, the conservative genius of attempting to shrink government through the creation of the Department of Homeland Security, the most massive dysfunctional bureaucracy in U.S. history, followed quickly by the even more wonderful government bureaucracy of the Prescription Drug Program, otherwise known as Welfare for Pharmaceutical Companies. And let's not forget successes that Bush has had in other areas, such as the massive success that No Child Left Behind has had in lowering teaching standards, and the ability of the Clear Skies act to lower anti-pollution standards.

Who then, could forget Bush's miracle of being able to squander the Clinton budget surplus in less than a single year, and go on to triumphantly create ever larger and larger budget deficits than even the best accounting minds could predict!

Who could also forget the Bush's family masterful touch at foreign policy, as Bush Jr. followed up his father's vomiting on the Prime Minister of Japan by staring lovingly into the eyes of Putin and groping the German Chancellor, Merkel.

But I think we were all, perhaps, most amazingly touched by the unexpected and powerful Karmic Alluvial Tidalwave & Relocation In North America program (otherwise known as "KATRINA"), which vastly improved our flood plains management in the Louisiana Delta area while also relocating impressive numbers of pesky undesirables (and the occasional tourist) either to their grave or to government trailer parks in states across the South. "Heckuva job, Brownie!" said Bush to the program's manager, and rightly so!

But we did not foresee that this was just the start, with Bush being able to successfully transform all levels of government through the simple formula of filling government with political hacks and incompetent cronies - especially so in the Interior and Justice Departments (though, unfortunately, Bush's political enemies prevented him from achieving similar success on the Supreme Court).

Thus, we can credit Bush and his administration cronies with delivering on at least one campaign promise for his constituency: sending the price of oil to $140 a barrel and making Exxon Mobil the richest corporation in the world.

Of course, Bush has also made housing more affordable for everyone by presiding over the largest decrease in home values in our nation's history.

And so, let's pay homage to some straight facts about Bush's amazing management of the economy. By the time he leaves office in January, Bush will have been able to increase the unemployment rate from it's terrible historical low at the end of 2000 of 3.9% to over 8%; increase the number of Americans without health insurance by 7.2 million; and successfully decrease the median household income by $2,000. These are achievements indeed quite rare in the history of our great country.

But lest you be in awe of all of that, let us not forget George W. Bush's greatest masterwork, the Market Crash and Financial Crisis of 2008 and Great Depression, 2.0, where Bush competed to outdo our last great Republican disaster President, Herbert Hoover, both in residing over the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression and becoming the worst - and most unpopular - President in modern history.

My friends, the end of the Bush era is truly a moment in history we all will miss, the way we miss a cancer or especially bad case of pneumonia. Most especially comedians on late night and Comedy Central will miss our dear President, as the dearth of head-slapping belly-groaning jokes at our nation's leader will soon be in short supply.

And because January 20th cannot possibly come soon enough, let us all remember the swift and certain two-year success of the Obama campaign, and give thanks that the nightmare of George W. Bush will, in a matter of mere weeks, be over.

Goodbye, dear George W. Bush. I will pray that your spiritual inheritor, Sara Palin, enjoys a Thanksgiving feast over a turkey in your name.

Sarah Palin's Thanksgiving Day Massacre - Left-Wing Fun - Yehaw!

MSNBC gets to comically riff on Sarah Palin's turkey dustup, filming her as she stands in front of a horrible "turkey slaughter" machine. Right-wingers get to feel outraged.

You know, FOX has been doing this kind of shit for years to its liberal guests. So now we have a left-wing network that gets to make fun of Republicans and film them in situations that make them look bad? Yehaw!

So the tables have turned. Get over it, you right-wing spoiled brats - dial back to FOX and take a Valium.

Watch Palin's Thanksgiving Day Massacre

Friday, November 21, 2008

The State of Hillary

For people who wondered why Obama didn't pick Hillary as VP, this is why.

I'm was happy with the idea of Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State. But apparently, the team of creepy backstabbing Hillarybots and big-ego Bill-sulking comes along with the package. So now, not so much.

The Republican "Good Fight"

One reason I like the site "Culture 11" is because

a) I may be a Democrat, but as Woody Allen says, I wouldn't want to be a member of any party that would have me as a member


b) as Bush W. George will tell you, anyone can easily go bonkers without having someone around to call them on their shit.

Okay, that's two reasons. But I bring this up as an introduction to this article in Culture 11, laying out five points over which Republicans would stand up to an Obama administration.

I say: good going, old chap. These are points I'd be more than happy to argue in the public debate. Unlike the toxic incompetence mixed with corruption of the last eight years, or the morally suspect righteousness of the religious right, or the self-interested blowhardism on FOX, these are actually intellectually based points worthy of debate.

Not that I agree with them. But they're the debates worth having. They're examples of why the Democrats need an actual opposition party to debate with, not just a collection of wingnuts to mock.

Though I think Obama has the strongest argument on four out of five of them; I still say: may the best reasoned argument win.

The Recession Blame Game

Suddenly, it seems people are starting to realize that this is a REALLY BAD recession (that could have been a great depression). This is something we haven't seen in twenty-eight years (if not since the thirties).

Like, duh. Have these people been listening?

But now that panic is really settling in, the tongue wagging and blame game is starting.

Just look at Memeorandum tonight. Or watch the news. It's all chock-a-block full of articles of who is to blame for this mess. The various contestants competing for greatest recession-causing scum are:

Poor black people buying houses they can't afford.
Greedy CEO's flying in private corporate jets.
Democrats promising homes to everyone.
Republicans refusing to regulate Wall Street.

I'd like to propose one more boogieman who isn't getting the blame I'd expect. Couldn't we just call this the Bush income redistribution scheme finally coming home to roost? Seems to me the world's income was redistributed long ago to all the Bush cronies and friends. The rest of us are only now just getting the bill.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Insurers First To Jump Into Health Pool

Health insurance lobbyists put forward the first deal point in what is sure to be a protracted battle to solve the health insurance dilemma.

They suggest they would be willing to cover everyone, as long as everyone is required to have coverage.

They just don't say HOW MUCH you'd have to pay for it. Being offered coverage does little good if your premiums would be $30,000 a month.

So the offer is basically meaningless without some way to structure pricing.

And given that 10% or more of the population will be out of work by January, I don't see how the current employer-based system gets us there. Where will those 10% of unemployed workers go to purchase their $30,000 a month coverage?

This is going to be a tough nut to crack.

Should eHarmony Be Forced to Offer Same-Sex Dating?

The right wing is all in a lather because a court suit forced them to open up their services to gay clients.

Actually, though, I kind of agree - if eHarmony wants to provide a "straight only" service, why shouldn't they? Besides, what gay person would want to use a service that flat out says, "they don't understand gay people"? I disagree with Malkin's analogy that it's like forcing a steak house to serve vegetarians (in a way, that might actually make some kind of sense). It's more like forcing the Catholic Church to do Bar-Mitzvahs. Who really expects to get a satisfying Bar-Mitzvah from a priest?

And besides - what does this suit mean for gay-only services? Will straight guys now be suing to get pictures of boobs posted on gay hookup sites? God forbid.

It'll actually be a little sad to see the ad campaign go away. I kind of liked the "rejected by eHarmony" campaign. Would have made me chose any day. Now, both services will seem bland.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

California Supreme Court Takes Prop 8 Challenge Case

The court's decided to hear the challenge against Prop 8.

The good news: this first hurdle improves the odds of Proposition 8 being struck down. In the past 100 years, the California Supreme Court has heard only ten such cases, and struck down 3 of them. So, we've got a 30% chance of winning.

But EVEN MORE IMPORTANTLY, other minorities have woken up to the danger in Prop 8's elimination of California's equal protection guarantee.

According to Equity California:

"In a petition filed on November 14, 2008, leading African American, Latino, and Asian American groups argued that Proposition 8 threatens the equal protection rights of all Californians."

But minorities aren't the only one. Religious leaders and women's groups have filed petitions to strike down 8 as well:

"On November 17, 2008, the California Council of Churches and other religious leaders and faith organizations representing millions of members statewide, also filed a petition asserting that Proposition 8 poses a severe threat to the guarantee of equal protection for all, and was not enacted through the constitutionally required process for such a dramatic change to the California Constitution. On the same day, prominent California women’s rights organizations filed a petition asking the Court to invalidate Proposition 8 because of its potentially disastrous implications for women and other groups that face discrimination. "

So, stop blaming Proposition 8 on minorities. Leading groups for all minorities realize that Proposition 8 is a danger to everyone. They are backing us in this fight.

Dow Below 8000

Closed below 8000 today, with no revival from bottom-watchers like the last time it dipped briefly below 8000.

That's cause it looks like the Big 3 aren't getting their loans.

This time we're headed for a new bottom. My target for getting back in was 7400. If the auto industry goes under, though, I'd revise that to 7000.

Still think we'll be there by January.

Republican Courage Watch

Republican columnist Kathleen Parker takes on the fire breathing religious right in her party, and receives the usual tongue-lashing from the True Believers. Some, trying at least to be generous, still can't see the difference between Obama's approach to an inclusive vision of personal faith and the GOP's version of right-wing religious hate mongering.

I don't know how this True Believer blindness came to be. Republicans used to be smart enough to keep their unhinged religious zealots locked in the political closet. Now, they want them out there, scaring off voters, while Obama shows democrats how to be BOTH spiritual and inclusive.

Have the True Believers become so encased in their own alternative reality bubble that they actually don't realize there are people out there who are offended by holier-than-thou right-wing religious scapegoating and attacks? As Morpheus says to Neo, "hmmmm....."

The longer the Republicans are blind to the difference between Obama's version of faith and that of people like James Dobson, the longer their party will stay toxic to voters.

Obama Saves Lieberman's Ass

For many of us who liked Obama early on, this was why.

Personally, I would have love to have seen that rat Lieberman get his comeuppance (if Lieberman had any tact, he would have done what Lugar did for Obama: praise McCain, but not endorse anyone and certainly not go to a convention).

But Obama sees through the emotion to the ultimate tactics of the situation. Democrats still have an outside chance of reaching 60 Senators with Lieberman. Even if they don't, having his vote just makes passing legislation that much easier. It's not forgiveness for unity sake alone. There's a method in it.

That's why we're happy to have Obama as our President.

Right-Wing Zogby Push Poll Gets Debunked by Nate Silver

You just have to read this.

It's practically unbelievable. This right-wing hack (John Ziegler) commissions Zogby to do a poll to demonstrate how Obama voters were "uninformed" by asking them the "correct" response to questions about the Presidential candidates such as

"Which of the four [candidates] started his political career at the home of two former members of the Weather Underground?"

In other words, you could only answer "correctly" if you were a brainwashed moron who watched nothing but FOX news. The fact that Obama voters didn't pick the FOX news propaganda answer clearly demonstrates that they are "misinformed." The scandal is that Zogby - a once respected pollster - actually put a poll like this into the field.

(By the way, if you want to know why the supposedly "correct" choices to this poll are actually factually false, Crooks and Liars has a great breakdown here.)

But EVEN MORE BIZARRE is the interview that Ziegler, the right-wing talk show host, gives to Nate Silver after Silver explained the inherent bias in the poll. Here's just one small excerpt from the interview:

NS: Did you have financing for the project or was it paid for out of pocket?

JZ: It is not self-financed.

NS: Who paid for it?

JZ: You think I'm going to tell you that? When you've already shown yourself to be the enemy?

NS: Was it paid for by the RNC?

JZ: [Laughs]. In your world, the question that I would ask you is what question [in the survey] is there any ambiguity as to what the answer is?


NS: What do you mean by "launched his career"?

JZ: The first campaign as told by the person whose position he took in the State Senate, as told by her admission, his first campaign event was in the home of Bill Ayers and his wife. [Laughs] Unless you live in the Obama kool-aid world! That is astonishing to me that you would not accept that! And by the way, when you're given four responses to that question, what else was the response going to be? Sarah Palin?

NS: Well, her husband was a member of a secessionist party.

JZ: You are such a hack! That's a very good analogy.

NS: Do you think that certain types of voters are less well informed?

JZ: I think anyone that looks rationally at these poll results would have to conclude that Obama voters are incredibly poorly informed about major issues that occurred during the campaign -- my guess is because McCain voters got their information from different types of media than Obama voters did.

Exactly. McCain voters got their media from the FOX propaganda machine. Apparently, it's still trying to get out the wackjob propaganda, and doesn't like being questioned very much. Ziegler is obviously a student of Bill O'Reilly.

Eric Holder as Attorney General

While Clinton dithers about state, today we get the leak that Eric Holder will be Attorney General, along with the predictable squabbling on the right that he was involved with the Clintons blah blah blah which amounts to the usual right-wing garbage.

The key point about Holder is that he was strongly against Bush's expansion of Presidential powers.

Odd, then, that the right would oppose him. With President Obama in office, you'd think they'd suddenly be FOR rolling back Presidential prerogative.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Andrew Sullivan: Backwards on 8

Andrew Sullivan has the Prop 8 legal issue completely backwards (once again).

He argues that it should stand, but existing gay marriages should be preserved.

But it's exactly the opposite.

First, it should be overturned, because the argument that it is a revision of California’s Equal Protection clause – and therefore needs to go through a different procedure - is very compelling. My reasoning is here.

However, if it is upheld, then I don’t see the legal argument that it isn't retroactive. What’s the distinction between those who did marry or those who marry later? What about those who married out of state before Prop 8? The amendment is equally clear that it applies to all marriages. If they uphold the amendment as legal, I don’t see any legal ground to maintain the existing marriages. Just saying “it feels like a nasty attack," as Sullivan does, isn't any legal basis. Yes, it's an attack, but it’s an attack on everyone, whether they had the marriage or not. Who is Andrew or anyone to say now what’s excessive, when the voters have spoken?

So I really don’t understand where Andrew is coming from. He argues that the issue of overturning Prop 8 shouldn't be left to the courts. But then he argues that the courts should retain the existing marriages based totally on no legal reasoning other than it’s “excessive.” Well, if this should be left up to the voters, then the amendment is clear. It is clearly meant to divorce the married couples. In fact, it was even reworded to make sure this was clear.

But even more importantly, if the amendment is left to stand, then to water it down because of “sympathy” is to really illegally tamper with the intention of the voters in order to remove the one argument we have going for us: that the amendment is excessive, which is what would give us a better chance to overturn it in a subsequent vote.

Either Prop 8 stands, or it doesn't. That’s the only reasoning that makes legal sense to me, as well as sense for achieving marriage rights in California.

UPDATE: Andrew posts dissents from other readers, who understand what's at stake better than he does.

A Boycott List (Not "Blacklist") of Yes on 8 Donors

Here is the publicly available list of Yes on 8 donors.

Perfectly fair I think to encourage anyone who cares of about equal rights to avoid doing business with donors and businesses on this list. For instance, I certainly wouldn't send a relative to a long-term care facility where I know that they actively campaigned against equal marriage rights, or hire an attorney that had done the same. First of all, I wouldn't feel welcome there. Secondly, I wouldn't want my money supporting bigotry against gay people; just as I wouldn't want my money going to a business that gave money to Hezbollah or Hamas and thereby be responsible for inadvertently funding terrorism.

(A bit different in my mind than blacklisting an individual from their career, just as I wouldn't want to blacklist someone who simply voiced support or made a contribution to Hamas. I'm not saying they should be prevented from making a living at all. I'm just saying, I don't want my money going to them. I know, it seems a trivial point, but I still think it's an important distinction.)

Paulson's Deathbed Conversion

Now that the economy is at death's door, Paulson has seen the light about regulation.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Clinton Accepts Secretary of State Offer

Or so says The Guardian.

Interesting how the right-wing conspiracy, Clinton's former nemesis, is all for her appointment.

They seem to think there's some great big difference between Clinton and Obama that wasn't completely manufactured for the primaries. They seem to think Obama wasn't serious when he said he wanted an administration of rivals.

I think it's a natural. Between Clinton and Emanuel, those who worry about Obama's treatment of Iran have little to worry about.

Though one has to wonder: Clinton wasn't on Podesta's original org chart. As soon as that was leaked, her name began to be floated. So...what backroom dealings went on to make this happen for her?

Talk About Flaming

It must be a full moon, because the moonbats are out again: this time blaming California wildfires on "the gays."

Hmmm, this mobile home park in Oakridge doesn't look too much like a gay mecca to me. But I guess to Mr. Hartline, being the target of homophobia doesn't me you actually have to be gay.

Not All Layoffs are Bad News

Focus on the Family announced a 20% staff cut today.

So there's a silver lining in the economic crisis yet. In another few years, hate groups like this may be financially as well as morally bankrupt.

Bailout for Auto Industry: Sophie's Choice?

Those who want to save the auto industry threaten an escalating Great Depression if we don't. Those who want to let it fail threaten a "Zombie Economy" of flailing, state-supported industries with no customers, like Japan's lost decade.

However, there's a very easy way to split the baby on this issue.

Let GM fail. Or, as others have said, let the government create a way for them to gracefully go bankrupt, while providing unemployment and retraining for their workers. Data shows there's just not enough demand for three U.S. car manufacturers. And GM is too far gone to think that any money we give it isn't better off simply being burned for fuel.

Ford and Chrysler, however, may be worth rescuing; or rather, providing money to under the condition of restructuring to meet the demands of a new energy plan that improves mileage and moves to alternative energy sources. But perhaps those companies can wait until Obama takes office, and this can be part of a larger stimulus/economic restructuring plan.

I agree, we need a domestic auto industry. It's critical to our national security. We just don't need as much domestic auto output as we currently have. So why keep all three? Let the government apply good evolutionary logic to this one: kill the weakest sibling, so the other two have a better chance to survive.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

How John McCain's Losing Was All My Fault: Confessions of a Jammy Blogger

Ok - now that the election is well over, I can finally fess up.

It was all my fault that McCain lost. I don't go as far as to credit myself for Obama's win: Obama deserves a lot of the credit for that. But I do confess that is was I who secretly torpedoed McCain's campaign.

I didn't plan it to work out that way. It just did. But now that it's all done, I feel I must go on the record in case any of you want to know the real reason for McCain's political demise. Please don't judge me too harshly. No one could have completely foreseen my role in all of this. But I do now see how the dots all connect.

Here's how it all happened.

I was just going on my merry way, writing my own little ramblings in cyberspace, not realizing how dramatic an effect it would have on the outcome of the most important Presidential election in history.

It all began on June 19th. In what I thought was a completely innocuous post, I speculated about who might be the Republican choice for VP. One of my readers, a Republican partisan who seemed to be trolling the internet looking for places to push his suggestion, posted a name I'd never heard before: Sarah Palin. I did a little quick research, turned up only that she was governor of Alaska, but that sounded good enough to me, so on June 22nd, I wrote a new post suggesting Sarah Palin as perhaps a "good pick" for McCain and one of his overlooked choices.

Little did I know then the central role that might post would play in the 2008 election.

On August 29th, McCain picked Sara Palin as his running mate. We didn't know it then, but he'd found her by doing a search on Google. Since, until my post, very little from uninvolved sources was written about her, I must conclude that it was my June 22nd post that gave Steve Schmidt and other McCain campaign managers the confidence that Palin was a pick that could reach across to the broad middle.

But on June 22nd, I knew as little about Palin as McCain did. So after the pick, I did a little more research, and assembled a list of the Top 10 Sarah Palin scandals. It was clear to me then that this woman was bad news.

My post turned out to be huge. Many came to my list to find out all the scary scandals hidden within Palin's closet. Within a month, public opinion began to turn. It was clear that choosing Palin was not a brilliant move; instead, it was one of McCain's big mistakes. Would he have chosen her if I hadn't written my post of June 22nd? Would public opinion have turned as decidedly against her without an easy to find list of Sarah Palin scandals (search "Sarah Palin scandals" on Google and there it is)? Who knows...who could have predicted Common Mistakes would play such a role in all this?

By the end of October, it was clear that Palin was an albatross: she was even driving conservatives to Obama.

Then, Obama wins the election, and wins big. Analysts now say that it was the Sara Palin pick - not Bush, not the economy - that was decisive against McCain.

So could it be that somehow, my post of June 22nd, my follow up at the end of August, may have led to the greatest Republican defeat since Nixon? It's quite possible, now that I look at how everything has played out.

When I posted the Sarah Palin scandals, one reader suggested I was on the payroll of the DNC. I wasn't. But maybe Obama wants to send me one of those seven-page application forms to fill out. I'll gladly fill in everything about my roll in the 2008 election. Maybe he can give me a job as Chief Blogger, and send me after other political enemies. Not that I can predict these things, mind you. But maybe I just have that kind of luck.

After all, I think he owes me one.

(BTW, since I apparently am still having trouble with my readers reading my sarcasm, I suppose I must spell out: tongue planted, cheek. What, has no on the internet ever read A Modest Proposal?)

Our Second Stonewall: Join The Impact Protest in New York City

For me, the most important takeaway from this protest was seeing how it was all organized and run, not by the established gay rights organizations, but by outraged college students - people who were just teenagers when Matthew Shephard was killed, who haven't been to a March on Washington, who weren't even born when AIDS was first diagnosed and have no memory of era of ACT-UP and the AIDS-era battles simply to fight for our rights to stay alive. These people are the future of the gay movement, they're passionate about the issue of marriage equality, and they're active. They coalesced our straight friends, our religious allies. They worked across the aisle with Republicans supportive our our issues. They mobilized people using Obama's same grass-routes, Internet-age techniques and staged an amazing, coordinated, cross-country protest the likes of which we haven't seen in twenty years.

They're point: this is our second Stonewall, a second generation of gay rights awakening. It's no longer a movement that is simply about gay visibility or traditional left-leaning identity politics. It's now a movement that's about mobilizing support around this issue of basic fairness by bringing in our allies all across the political and religious spectrum for the next, great civil rights struggle of our time.

They are asking for full inclusion and support of families and children, families that are making a lifelong commitment to love, honor, cherish and support each other, children who want to grow up knowing that their parents are considered "married." A startlingly conservative issue to be having protests and rallies for, it seems to me. One that will spark support from all corners of the political spectrum, support that these new leaders will welcome.

These young people take being gay and take the acceptance of friends and family as a given. They're ready for full inclusion as American citizens. They're ready to fight for full marriage equality in all fifty states, no matter what it takes to get there. They're ready to learn the lessons of a new kind of technologically connected activism. And our leaders will scramble to support them.

It sure felt like the dawn of a new movement on Saturday.

Is Democracy Subject to a Vote?

Here's the argument the Yes on 8 people pose:

“If they want to legalize same-sex marriage, they are gong to have to bring a proposal before the people of California. That’s how democracy works.”

But if that's the case, then interracial marriage would have been illegal until 1991. It wasn't until then that more than 50% of the public accepted it. Yet the courts in California ruled it legal in 1948. That's forty-three years - a lifetime, a generation - during which people could enjoy rights in California that were not favored by a majority.

In 1998, Alabama was still discussing whether they should remove the prohibition against interracial marriage from their state constitution.

So according to the logic of Yes on 8 people, Obama's parents' marriage should have been illegal, since a majority of the public would have voted against it.

November 15th: Rally Against H8

Andrew Sullivan has some wonderful emails and pictures from around the country of the rallies in support of gay marriage yesterday.

More pictures on Towleroad.

The rallies were in over 80 U.S. cities. NYTimes estimates "tens of thousands" attended.

Yes on 8 backers could never have forseen this result: They were the spark that ignited the next civil rights movement. Like the other wildfires in California, it can't be stopped now.

Boycott Anti-Gay Hate States

I was at the marriage rights rally in New York yesterday. Will have pictures and more commentary soon.

But wanted to post a point that someone made. Talking about boycotts, it makes sense to me that gay people and their allies should stop spending money in states that have targeted us for discrimination. This simply seems commonsensical to me. So, in the interests of information, here are states that have written discrimination into their constitution - not just against the word "marriage" but against ANY TYPE of recognition or rights for same-sex couples. At this point, even most Americans agree such discrimination is unacceptable. So I call on everyone to boycott businesses and tourism in the following states:

South Carolina
South Dakota
North Dakota

So...there, I reverse what I said earlier about boycotting Utah. Boycott that sucker. Let's move the Sundance film festival to Lake Placid, New York.

All you gays who like going to Ft. Lauderdale and Key West? How about coming to Provincetown or Fire Island...or maybe Spain for the winter? Support places that recognize your rights.

No more watching the Ohio State/Michigan game. Harvard/Yale can take its place.

No more drinking Jack Daniels. From now on, it's Glenfiddich for me.

Watch MSNBC instead of CNN.

Drink Pepsi, not Coke.

Instead of cowboy boots, it's Timberland.

Instead of Wisconsin cheddar, it's Vermont (Four-Year Old Grafton Cheddar is one of my particular favorites).

Why visit Mt. Rushmore? The Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island are much more inspiring.

Kansas...doesn't make anything, I can think of. Stay away from it anyway!

Arkansas and Virginia have particularly odious amendments also restricting rights such as adoption and contracts. I'd do whatever possible to avoid even flying over those two states in an airplane.

March on Washington for Marriage Equality

Robin Tyler, who produced the main stages of the 1987 and 1993 marches, echoes my call for a new March on Washington.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Moderate Republicans Take Their Heads from the Sand: Get Kicked By Party

Today we see some moderate Republicans putting forward the statistically self-evident proposition that hard-core social conservatives are driving away voters. They argue that this gives Republicans strong motivatoin to start moderating their party. The argument today comes from two camps, including former Governors such as Christine Todd Whitman and moderate Republicans who recently beat the odds to win reelection.

Predictably, these arguments are receiving a heated rejection from the True Believers.

Here's the problem, though. Republicans are starting to see that the "all or nothing" fire of the social conservatives has reached a tipping point - and all indications are that a coalition of the bubba base in Arkansa, Texas, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Mississippi and the Mormon states is going to continue to get smaller and smaller.

No one says that Republicans should become Democrats. But right now, the harder they cling to the idea that people like Sarah Palin are the future of the party, the more they look to become the Know-Nothing party of the Twenty First Century. Democrats and Independents won't be won over to hard-core social conservative positions, and Republicans won't win national elections any more without the middle. You would have thought they would have learned this lesson back in 1992, when their fear-mongering convention lost them that election too. But the temporary success of Rovian politics made them think they could ignore the demographic trends forever.

Until Republicans are ready to have a "Sistah Soljah" moment and convince the party to get past its two most alienating issues (anti-science and anti-gay rights), it's going to be consigned to increasing irrelevancy, as younger voters are already lost to them on these two issues alone.

But let's imagine another alternative. A Republican party that embraced gay marriage as part of a conservative tradition that values marriage (after all, gays are arguing right now more forcefully than anyone about the importance of marriage, and you don't see Republicans doing anything to ban divorce); and a Republican party that embraced a belief in science (including stem cell research, compromises on abortion, climate science, and strengthening of science education) as the core of a healthy economy and educated populace supporting a realistic foreign policy. To even approach these issues would require that Republicans have a long heart-to-heart discussion with it's base about the nature of a secular America; about how respect for religion doesn't mean ending our foundational separation between church and state. But if it could have such a heart-to-heart and see its way past these two issues alone, it could come back a majority party again. It'd be nice to have a party like that at the table, to argue real issues about economic and foreign policy tactics with Democrats.

But judging from the way it ran this last campaign, and the scary anger of the True Believers, I have no illusions that the Whitman's or the to Collin's will have much sway over their party any time soon.

More Reasons Why Proposition 8 Is Illegal

A law professor from Pennsylvania agrees with me that Proposition 8 is illegal.

His basic point is the same as mine: It doesn't matter what you think of gay marriage, if Proposition 8 is allowed to stand, it essentially nullifies the equal protection guarantee in California's constitution for everyone. It establishes the precedent that any minority: women, blacks, Hispanics, Mormons - can be specifically targeted to have their rights taken away by a simple majority. He provides pretty solid reasoning as to why this is so.

Demonstrate Against H8!

Look up your city here and find a protest near you, and get out and demonstrate: tomorrow, Saturday November 15th.

Some Mormons Genuinely Sorry Their Church Forced Them to Support Prop 8

The Mormon church heavily pressured their members to donate to and support Proposition 8.

Now at least one Mormon, whose business caters to a primarily gay clientele, apparently feels genuinely sorry and felt the need to apologize. And her feelings have enticed the management to donate $10,000 to support gay rights.

Maybe this whole episode will force an awakening in the Mormon church?

Clinton at State?

She was omitted from Podesta's org chart, but chatter today is that she's edging out Kerry as the favorite for Secretary of State.

Can't say that it would be a bad choice....

Pick Your Czars Carefully

Maybe my secret conservative economic leanings are starting to show. Or maybe I'm just as conflicted about the economy as everyone else: I agree today both with Paul Krugman - the rececession is just starting to pick up steam and more stimulus is needed badly - and David Brooks - just throwing money at terribly managed car companies is likely to be less effective than simply burning it and saying a few prayers.

But one point that Brooks raises I find interesting: that Obama is talking about creating an "auto Czar."

I don't know if that's the same thing as the Energy Security Czar on Podesta's org chart. Or the Environment Czar. But one thing that does concern me is the proliferation of Czars in the Obama administration.

After all, the government isn't 19th Century Russia. All these Czars running around are likely to do nothing more than get in each other's way. Kind of like Elvis Costello's Two Little Hitlers.

Two little Hitlers will fight it out until
One little Hitler does the other one’s will

Actually, two Czars in the Obama administration are probably just about right. Pick the two issues that need the most Czaring to get done. Energy and Environment? Maybe they're the same thing. How about Energy and Health care.

But Cars? File that under Energy, too.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Palin Sucks the Wind Out of Her Entire Party

Is there anyone who's not yet convinced that Sarah Palin is a total shall we coin a phrase...whack job diva?

Then read this.

March on Washington 5.0: It's Time

Did you know that there have been four Marches on Washington for Lesbian and Gay rights?

I've attended two.

The first, in 1979, was before my time. A small crowd marched for the first time for gay rights. Appropriately enough, it was a response to the Harvey Milk assassination and the Anita Bryant anti-gay crusades. An historic and important event, and pre-AIDS, it presaged the activism of the ACT-UP generation and was, perhaps, the starting point of introducing lesbians and gays to the broader culture.

The second march, eight years later, in 1987, was a response to AIDS, and the lack of attention it received from the Regan administration. I attended this one, along with half a million others, where the AIDS quilt was unveiled. It was amazing seeing so many gay and lesbian people there: we were all in our "Queer Youth" heyday, wearing our rainbow rings, jack boots, and rolled-up t-shirt sleeves, proudly queer and counter-cultural. Yet it was somber, as the AIDS crisis was fully raging, and so many were dying. The quilt was deeply moving, and anyone who visited the panels for the first time as they were laid out on the mall couldn't help but feel that we were losing an entire generation, and but for the grace of God, there went I. It had the feeling of a real war. This march inspired a generation of activists, ACT-UP and Queer Nation, and really did lead to more awareness and real attempts to begin to address AIDS. One might call this our most successful march.

Six years later, a third march was organized, in 1993. This was, I would say, the "Clinton" march: the march to proclaim political assertiveness. Finally, we had a Democrat in the White House. Finally, this time, it looked like things would change. And yet, Clinton had badly stumbled, fumbling his attempt to integrate the military and instead producing the odious "don't ask/don't tell." In response, and yet still with hope that the Clinton administration would deliver something to us, the gay community drafted a plethora of demands and grievances, practically a convention platform. Lesbian and gay service members were rounded up to give speeches and tell their stories, and show the world we weren't just sick queers dying of AIDS: we were macho and patriotic, too. Military paraphernalia became all the rage, and hot Marines graced the covers of many a photo spread. Over a million people attended this march (though the park service would only acknowledge 300,000, you could clearly see a million people in the mall on C-SPAN), and finding your state group, mingling with crowds on the subways, shouting to other cars on the highways blaring their club music, was revelatory and fun, without the somberness of 1987. But, it seems, little came from our long list of grievances - other than, perhaps, the even more odious DOMA, and memories of one huge and amazing national party weekend.

Seven years later, in 2000, it seemed it was time for another March on Washington. There was no particular political backdrop for this march - other than, perhaps, we should have one every seven years or so. I call this the March of the Great Gay National Lobbyists, or the Human Rights Campaign march. The HRC called it the "Millennial March." I didn't attend - I think there was something I wanted to watch on TV that weekend - and at any rate, I didn't really know what that march was supposed to be about. Not many did, because it was roundly criticized, but then, not knowing what it was for, I don't really understand what it was criticized for, either, other than for not clearly being about anything, or anything that anyone could agree on, at any rate. Apparently, eight years of a Democratic administration had lulled our leaders into operating under the illusion that they were part of Aaron Sorkin's West Wing, and it seemed the most critical thing about this march was who the band was going to be. Let's call this the march of the movement that had lost its way.

Ok, folks. In just less than two months, it will have been nine years since our last march on Washington.

Not only is that WAY TOO LONG (I mean, according to our cycles, eight years has been the max). The Proposition 8 fiasco certainly gives us a very clear and focused message: stop messing with our rights, and give us equal marriage, now! Maybe this time we can get our straight friends and family to come along; maybe this time we can shoot for something closer to three million.

So...has anybody started planning this thing?