Thursday, December 30, 2010

Things a Virginia Fourth Grader Needn't Know II

Remember back in October when that William & Mary history professor found that her fourth grader had a textbook that claimed that large numbers of black folks fought for the Confederacy, and that Stonewall Jackson led two black battalions, and I wrote a post about it?  Well, it looks like the Commonwealth decided to review their history texts, and the results are not pretty.

Check out this Washington Post article on the subject.  And I was surprised to find that one of the reviewers of the texts was my former history professor and undergraduate advisor from Hampden-Sydney, Dr. Ronald Heinemann.  When I read his comments, I could only imagine his face as he read error after error in those texts.  And I agree with Heinemann, that those texts should be removed and replaced as soon as may be.

And this raises the question of just how long has this been a problem?  How long have Virginia students been misinformed about American and Virginia history?  And most importantly, why didn't the teachers say something first?  All of this jumped off because a parent, who happened to be an historian, bothered to look closely at her child's text book.

I think that it is a shame that I feel that I now feel privileged to have studied American history formally for several years.  It's a shame, because the basic facts of American history should never be in dispute (unless new evidence emerges that corrects the record).  And if there is one thing our current political discourse has shown me, it is that too many Americans are ignorant of our history.  Too many avoid the parts that they don't like (or pretend that they weren't really that bad), or they just make shit up factually. 

But there was always the expectation that students' textbooks would be as accurate as possible.  At least they are now trying to work on that in Virginia.

Friday, December 24, 2010

On Haley Barbour

I read the Weekly Standard article on Haley Barbour in its entirety, because I wanted to make sure that I was not feeding solely off of the commentary from sources that I generally appreciate.  I found it to be a very interesting read.  I long assumed that it must have been an interesting time to be a white southern teenager during the Civil Rights Movement, regardless of one's perspective on Jim Crow.  Barbour gave us a window into that sensibility with this interview, and I think that it is important.  Remember some of the key points that were in the article.  Barbour's mother voted for Strom Thurmond in 1948.  Barbour's brother announced that he was supporting Barry Goldwater in 1964.  The White Citizen's Council was an organization of businessmen who did good for Yazoo City.

All of these things are incredibly important when put into proper historical context.  There really was only one reason to support Strom Thurmond in 1948.  There was an important reason that a white Democrat from Mississippi would support a Republican in 1964.  Of course being white during the Jim Crow era would not have been particularly bad.  Life would have been simply normal.  But I cannot imagine that Barbour would have strayed too far his families politics growing up, and his older brother (though bucking the family's Southern Democratic political tradition) was right on the cusp of a trend that would run through a vast majority of the white South beginning in 1964 and holds firm to this day.  I just can't see Barbour being oblivious to the social and political realities surrounding him.

I know that people like to pretend that things in the recent past simply didn't happen, and some people particularly don't like it when black people remind the world that things were not so great less than 50 years ago (whining, seeking white guilt, you know the drill).  But history is important, it doesn't go away, and its effects linger.  I also wonder if the people who are quick to tell black folks to put the past behind them, are equally vigilant in telling that to folks who would attend a secession ball?  Now that I think about it, I wonder if one will happen in Mississippi on January 9th next year?  But that is an entirely different discussion.

What Barbour is doing now, in walking back his comments in that article, is being dishonest. I am confident that Barbour was more than comfortable with the status quo back in those days. Unfortunately for him, it's just not politically viable (nationally anyway) to be that honest.

The Fight for the 9/11 First Responders was Instructive, but I Think Many Missed the Lesson

I think that the fight for the 9/11 first responders, more than any other issue that went through this lame duck period, is instructive.  I hope that the millions of Americans who were simply mystified by how legislation to help with the health care costs of these folks, folks that the GOP has been exploiting for nearly a decade for their legitimate heroism, could come so close not to becoming law see congressional Republicans for what they are (but I won't hold my breath). 

Jon Stewart of The Daily Show, and Shep Smith of Fox News (strange to see, isn't it?) deserve credit for being righteously indignant at Republican actions in the Senate that threatened to kill the bill altogether.  I wasn't even familiar with the extent of the problems that these folks were experiencing, and it was jarring to hear one of the responders on The Daily Show mention that a responder in need passed away the week before their appearance on the show.  I wasn't aware that some in the GOP were calling this a "New York" bill, which is a slap in the face to the people from around the nation who arrived in Lower Manhattan to help as they could.

Look at what it took to get those 9/11 responders help that they needed.  Look at what the GOP really fought for, and fought doggedly for, during this lame duck session (and it was not for the middle, working or lower classes, nor will it ever be).  The fact that people seem to miss this boggles my mind, but then again, Sarah Palin still remains seen as presidential timber.  Perhaps that says all that I need to know about too many of my fellow Americans.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

DADT: Death Becomes It

I made it a point to avoid looking at the news for the most part of the day today, because I knew this vote was scheduled for today in the Senate.  It is indeed a great day today, now that "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," has been given it's death blow by the Senate (by a vote of 65-31).  I must say that I am even more impressed that it passed as a stand alone bill in both houses of Congress and passed. 

This issue has been the subject of intense debate in the comments section of this blog, when I've raised it.  And the comments back and forth have been interesting, troubling, and sometimes downright strange.  Yet, I am glad that my fellow gays, lesbians and bisexuals will be able to serve openly in the near future.  Over the last week, I heard conservatives argue that in the military there is no individuality, that those who join are trained to simply meet the missions presented to them.  Of course, they are right, to a degree.  But what they exclude so conveniently is the fact that straight service members were never asked to lie about who they were; they retained that aspect of themselves.  I cannot imagine my straight friend, who is currently serving, having to hide from his colleagues his wonderful wife (and fabulous cook), and his two beautiful children.  I just cannot imagine what it would do to him, if he were not able to discuss openly what he did with them over the weekend, or where they spent the holidays. 

His gay fellow soldier could lose his/her job simply by talking honestly about anything he/she did at home over the weekend or the holidays.  The end of DADT stops that, and that is a good thing.  I am most happy for the service members who are gay, lesbian or bisexual who are cautiously optimistic about what the future now holds.  I know that there are partners rejoicing that their lives will be able to be lived without fear in the near future.

I've been asked what is in this for me.  The answer is that though I have no personal stake in this issue directly (I am on the brink of being too old to serve), I believe it is the right thing to do.  Apparently, my position is shared by Republican Senators Brown, Collins, Snowe, Murkowski, Kirk (who has served), Voinovich, Ensign and Burr.  Did they have a personal stake in this issue?  Are they trying to make gays feel better psychologically?  Or, did they understand that anyone who is willing to serve our nation should be able to do just that, regardless of their sexual orientation? 

You can guess my answer.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Shocking News: A Conservative Virginia Judge Sides with the Conservative Virginia AG on the New Health Insurance Reform (and I Kind of Agree)

In something that was hardly a surprise to anyone in Virginia, a conservative judge provided the conservative Virginia Attorney General with a ruling against the Democratic health care law's mandate for individuals to purchase private health insurance.  Frankly, it's strange to see a Republican push so hard to prevent an industry from getting millions of new customers (these are strange times, but we are talking about a way to "defeat" President Obama).  However, I am not bothered by the decision at this point in time.  I say that because, I was always a little uncomfortable with the notion of being required to purchase private health insurance.

Yep, I said it.  The ruling today focused on the key aspect of the health insurance reform law that made me the most uncomfortable personally.  Now, before anyone gets excited, I would rather have a wider variety of options than private health insurance.  What if I liked what Medicare has to offer?  Perhaps I might like Medicaid, but make too much money to qualify currently?  I admit fully that I would rather see this country provide universal health care in the manner of Canada or perhaps expand (in an efficient manner, if that is possible anymore in this country) on our existing hybrid system of public and private health insurance, so that every American has a real choice in the matter.

Meanwhile, I've been trying to find information regarding the GOP alternative to President Clinton's health care proposals, and, so far, one thing that I have found through a quick Internet search (here) likens the Obama plan to that '93 GOP alternative, though it isn't a one to one match.  And I found an old article from the American Prospect that talks a little about that alternative plan, though the article itself is primarily a summary of what happened to the Clinton health insurance reform effort.  I raise these points to show that the idea that the Obama reforms are socialism, fascism, is bullshit. 

I am confident the Virginia Attorney General doesn't give a rat's ass about people like me who don't have health insurance; this is about Obama.  But, I will be interested to see where these court cases will lead as we move toward 2014, when the mandate goes into effect.

Friday, December 10, 2010

The Latest Examples of the Central Problem We Citizens (of All Political Stripes) Have With Washington

I think that for those Americans who are serious about their complaints regarding the cozy nature of official Washington, K Street and Wall Street, regardless of party or political philosophy, they should pay attention to the these two news items (here, and here).  People who pay attention to official Washington know that there is a total revolving door once you get "in."  If you were an appointee to Treasury from Wall Street, you can look forward to a promotion upon your return.  If you were a former staff member with experience on a specific issue, then you prepare yourself for life on K Street.  And people who fit those two examples know that they have opportunities to return to official Washington when they are ready. 

I would love to see this revolving door destroyed.  While I think that it is important for experienced people to have opportunities to show their expertise, I think that we need new blood constantly coming into the system.  For example, though I believe little of the rhetoric of official Tea Party Republicans, I do think that folks who are at the grass roots of that movement would agree with me, that their side needs new blood, new people in Washington to try to carry their water.  I also think that folks in those three realms that I mentioned are extremely afraid of outsiders of any stripe coming in actually to get something done, whether it's deficit reductions or aid to the poor.  Those people see outsiders as folks to be co-opted, folks to be wooed into the world of Washington. 

Though I wouldn't go so far as to say that all of Washington needs to be fired, because I don't think it's true, I do know that we need to kill that revolving door.  We will see if the Tea Party Republicans are made of, since they (allegedly) represent a real challenge to the GOP status quo, but if as that aforementioned article about their hiring is really representative, then I think there might be some in that Republican movement who will be just as pissed as liberals should be with Obama's entire economic team (not including Elizabeth Warren). 

We'll see.

Will Being Gay in Uganda Lead to Execution or Imprisonment? X

Though I know that some readers of this blog are dismissive toward Rachel Maddow, because she is an avowed liberal, I will argue to the teeth that she does excellent work, and is fearless when she has conservatives on her show.  As far as I know, The Rachel Maddow Show is the only prime time news program that has dedicated consistent in-depth coverage of the "Kill the Gays" bill under consideration in Uganda.  So I was beyond pleased to see that that author of the Ugandan bill agreed to an interview with Maddow, and it is simultaneously enlightening and frightening.  Add to this the fact that there is a strong link to the American conservative religious community.  The following is the full interview that Maddow conducted with Ugandan MP David Bahati, just watch it and listen to what this man is actually saying (and remember that he has closet support from prominent American Christian conservatives).

The State of Things Following a Tax Proposal

It has been interesting watching all of the reactions to the proposed compromise on the Bush tax cuts.  There is the utter indignation on the left, and there is a surprisingly muted (in public anyway) triumphalism on the right.  And in the middle, of sorts, is President Obama.  Personally, I think that he negotiated the best deal he could get, considering Obama's negotiation and political skills (which are vastly different from his campaigning skills).  I also think that the Democratic Party's reaction to this situation is a bit disingenuous, when one considers that this whole issue could have been dealt with prior to the November elections.  Yet, fear of what happened anyway prevented the Congressional Democrats from tackling an issue that they could have attempted to settle. 

But I don't want to use this post simply to beat up on Democrats, though for various and sundry reasons they deserve their licks.  I would be remiss without noting that I find Congressional Republicans to be utterly repugnant, and "repugnant" is not even a good term to express my true feelings.  My respect for that lot, is gone, and without some sort of divine intervention, that respect will not return.  I think that the President was correct in his framing this issue as a hostage crisis.  I certainly feel that the GOP has held the nation hostage simply because that party does not believe that elections matter when they lose.  Now, of course, elections matter; they regained control of the House, and built their minority numbers within the Senate.  Of course that reality means that even less will get done before the '12 elections.

And I remain floored that we have people who are more than comfortable saying that the unemployed, if they receive help, will not have the desire to look for a job, that they will feel more comfortable getting a check from the government, rather than a check from an employer.  Only someone who has never experienced long term unemployment could imagine such a thing (and I am sure that every conservative has heard the story of the lazy person living large on his/her unemployment, and refusing to bother to look for a job, because they have it so good).

I think that we have abandoned a number of our principles for the love of money.  To me, it is that simple.  We revere the rich, from Warren Buffet to Paris Hilton.  We have one political party that will do everything possible to ensure that the rich, whether something trickles down or not, will get their out of size share of everything that generates income.  We have another political party that is desperate to follow in the footsteps of its competitor, but has that pesky history of actually trying to help people (and people actually believe it).

I could go on about this, but I won't, right now.  

Thursday, December 2, 2010

A Couple More Reasons Why I Enjoy "The Rachel Maddow Show"

Anyone who has glimpsed this blog knows that I thoroughly enjoy Rachel Maddow's show on MSNBC.  Last night, there were a couple of segments that reminded me of why I really look forward to 9pm (and just my 2 cents, I think Ana Marie Cox is the best substitute for Maddow, when she is taking time off).  I enjoy Maddow's intelligence and snark, and I love her analyses.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

On Pimp Slapping and Grapes

This is how you pimp slap a President and the majority party in the U.S. Congress.  You can read it here.
Right now, when I think of Obama talking about bipartisanship or "working together with Republicans," as one of the most partisan eras in Washington swirls about him, I think of Charlie Bucket's daft grandmother (from "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory") as seen here:

Yep, I think that is just about how President Obama has sounded since that meeting with Congressional leaders.

UPDATE:  Sullivan takes a more eloquent turn on this one, but his points are pretty clear.  Enjoy.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

There is Now No Real Reason for Keeping Don't Ask, Don't Tell

One of the few things coming out of Washington that portends good news is the Pentagon report on "Don't Ask, Don't Tell."  In all honesty, I am not surprised that solid majorities of service members would have no real issue serving alongside gays, lesbians and bisexuals, especially since they are already doing so.  Now we have an interesting reality:  The overwhelming majority of Americans of all stripes support repeal of the DADT, the majority of people serving in the military don't foresee problems with letting their current (and future) gay colleagues serving openly, and the three most important people responsible for the military (President Obama, Secretary Gates and Joint Chiefs Chair Mullen) want repeal now.  In the face of all of these plain facts, we have one central flaw:  the United States Senate. 

I have little confidence that repeal will come in this year, because even in the face of empirical evidence that all segments of the American populace want this travesty of a law gone, a solid minority of U.S. Senators don't give a flying fuck.  They just know that gays in the military are bad (how about some direct lobbying from the Log Cabin Republicans of actual Republicans (instead of just looking at and blaming Obama?).

DADTReport FINAL Hires)

Monday, November 29, 2010

Sometimes One Just Needs to Regroup

I will admit that since the mid-term elections, I have had real difficulty posting about anything political.  The combination of feckless Democrats and nihilistic Republicans (and their supporters) has just been too depressing to engage in a way that I want.  I even considered shutting down this blog. 

I don't think that I was as mentally prepared for the "age of Obama" as I should have been.  The echoes of the "age of Clinton" are certainly there, but I was in the throes of graduate school during almost the entirety of his presidency.  My focus sharpened, politically, during the Bush administration.  And, as I've noted on this blog, I made the mistake of investing too much into an individual politician, and took my focus off of actual issues that move me. 

But something else has happened that makes American political discourse more painful than fun now.  I think that many within the American electorate have abandoned actual arguments and meaningful discussions of our important political issues.  I also think that we have one party (and those who support it) that has decided that there is nothing of worth from the other party, that Democrats have no legitimacy worth respecting, that liberals have no ideas worth serious consideration.  That is fucking crazy.

No single party, no single political philosophy, has all of the answers.  It is impossible.  The issues facing this nation have been, are, and will continue to be complex, and they will require thoughtful political discussions and ideas to begin to resolve them.  With that said, I am also a political independent and a liberal, having belonged to both the GOP and the Democratic parties about the same amount of time.  Neither party really fit.  Yet, I recognize that there are some things that I agree with from both, and that both parties have thoughtful political ideas worth examining.  I have come to believe that a wide swath of the American electorate will not agree with the sentence just ahead of this one. 

I remember talking with a friend from high school who is a conservative Christian Republican (self identified), and the discussion was President Obama's citizenship.  He remains convinced that the President of the United States is not a natural born citizen, and that his presidency is not legitimate.  Absolutely nothing I could argue would convince him otherwise.  I feel like too many people on the right, and you can pick and choose among the issues, come at issues like Obama's citizenship in a similar fashion.  And I want to pull my hair out sometimes when I encounter non-arguments like this.

Ultimately, I decided not to close this blog.  I think I just needed some time, not thinking too much about anything political (I have since watched all of three seasons of "Avatar:  The Last Airbender," re-viewed of all of the extended versions of "The Lord of the Rings," and saw the latest Potter film).  I do, however, believe that we should all prepare for next to nothing happening in Washington that will help the country.

Monday, November 22, 2010

When it Rains, it Pours

Wow!  I remember hearing about Obama supporter Velma Hart, when she talked about being "exhausted" defending the President and his efforts at bringing about change during a town hall meeting shown on CNBC.  Actually, I understood some of her exhaustion and frustration (as anyone who has read this blog will remember), and all while those feelings were mingled with continued support and hope that things would change somewhat soon. 

Apparently, Hart was laid off from her job recently.

Politically, this is not a good thing for the administration.  Sadly, there are those who likely will be happy to hear that this happen to Hart, if only to fuel their existing disdain for Obama and his attempts to right this terrible economic ship.  I think it also underscores one of the central criticisms that I had of Obama and his economic team:  It was Wall Street centered.  Obama did the reflexively Republican thing economically, while essentially ignoring the reflexively Democratic thing economically:  looking after regular people.  November '10 is a partial result of that poor decision, and in some ways, perhaps Velma Hart's situation is also a result of that poor decision (albeit in a convoluted way).

I hope that Ms. Hart's unemployment will be short lived, and I hope that the Obama administration will begin to fight for the non-rich, and the non-connected, like FDR Liberals used to do.  Though on the latter point, I seriously doubt that that will be the route taken.

And So, the Discussion About Former President Bush Should Begin (Though it Won't)

I just finished reading Dan Froomkin's very interesting post at Huffington Post (I really enjoyed reading his columns when he was at the Washington Post too).  Even if you don't agree with his assessment, or his points (regarding former President Bush's memoir), I think that it is difficult to deny that Froomkin has done a yeoman's worth of work on this post.  This is the type of reporting that Americans deserve, regardless of political ideology, and it is the type of reporting that we rare get.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

In a Rush to Get That Government Health Care I See

I have a feeling that I am going to laughing for the next several weeks at the new class of Representatives coming in to Washington next year.  I was not remotely surprised that someone who railed against "government run" health care all through his campaign would get indignant when he realized that his actual government provided health care wouldn't kick in until February 2011.  And I am sure that his supporters are equally indignant (just as I am sure that some of them likely begged for the government not to touch their Medicare). 

I have a suggestion.  I think that every Republican in the federal government (Congress, Civil Service and Military), who does not support government related health care, should abandon their government provided/financed health care.  If the market can provide better services, then they should use their government salaries to pay for private insurance.  It would be a great gesture to show the efficiency of private enterprise, and give them greater leverage in making their arguments about the evils of the government's role in health care. 

I dare each and every one of them to do it.

Hit the Road Charlie, and Don't You Come Back No More

Last night, my cousin and I checked out the YouTube vid of Ray Charles' song "Hit the Road Jack," and I could not help but think of Rep. Charlie Rangel.  The man has now been convicted of 11 out of 13 ethics violations.  Back in February, I suggested that he just resign, and clearly Rangel (nor members of his staff) doesn't read this blog.  We have ZERO use for a politician who is unethical or corrupt, regardless of party, and if Rangel drags this one to its conclusion, I hope that the Democratic led House will do the right thing and expel him. 

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Lying Regarding Don't Ask, Don't Tell McCain Style

I think that The Daily Show did a good service in pointing out Sen. John McCain's beyond outrageous lying on the repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell.  I think that he needs to get off of his "Bullshit Express," and be honest:  He doesn't want to see DADT repealed.  What is so hard about saying that?  I also think that he needs to tell that to all of the folks in the Log Cabin Republicans when they lobby Republican Senators on this issue in the coming days (and please bring a camera, so that the rest of the GLBT community can see that you have been lobbying GOP Senators, and not just throwing barbs at Sen. Reid and President Obama).  And I would love to have been a fly on the wall during the conversation when Cindy McCain was forced to lie about her actual feelings on DADT, though I am not sure if it was when she cut the PSA for the NO H8 campaign, or when she announced that she actually supported her husband's position.  Either way, she lied, and that is a real shame (and I hope that gay Republicans, and gay John McCain fans recognize that too).

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
It Gets Worse PSA
Daily Show Full EpisodesPolitical HumorRally to Restore Sanity

Let me add Rachel Maddow's brilliant takedown of Senator McCain as well. Beautiful.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

The Potential Cave on DADT

I think that the Log Cabin Republicans (LCR) did the right thing to bring their lawsuit against the constitutionality of DADT (I also hope that they will see the irony of their efforts when juxtaposed with the cries of "activist judges" dating back to Brown v. Board from their ideological side).  But it is painful to see how the White House, yet again, is preparing to drop the ball on something that should be easy as hell to get through, with the proper effort.

I raise this to say that I am mostly with the LCR on criticizing the White House on DADT.  I say mostly, because I have seen nothing of their efforts (publicly) to try to lobby Senators Collins, Snowe or McCain on allowing the Defense bill to pass with the DADT repeal; they seem only happy to place this squarely in President Obama's lap.  Regardless, Obama is not helping himself here, nor are Senate Democrats.  Personally, I am hoping for a miracle of sorts, but I won't hold my breath.

Obama and the Weak Potential Compromise

When I read this post over at Huffington Post showing that the White House is buckling to the whims of the GOP, and even before January, I was reminded of why President Obama lost the confidence of many of his supporters last week.  Following the elections, Republican leaders made it clear, repeatedly, that they have no intention whatsoever in compromising with the White House or Democrats, unless compromise means that the aforementioned groups adopt GOP policies wholesale.  Only in the GOP mind is that compromise.  Now with the announcement that the White House is considering to throw in the towel for maintaining middle class tax cuts, and throwing away an opportunity to force the GOP to speak their truth that they give only a fuck about the rich and wealthy, I can see why demoralized Obama supporters have gotten tired of defending him.

Obama and the Democrats have their problems (I am tired of repeating this refrain), but at least they are trying to help those in need in our society, those not lucky enough to have been born in the right families or lucky enough to be surviving comfortably in economic circumstances not seen since my grandmother was a young girl.  The current iteration of the GOP has eyes only their true god:  money.  If you don't have it, then fuck you.  If you cannot show them how to get more of it, then fuck you.  If you dare suggest that you help your fellow man, then fuck you too (isn't that just handing over money to the undeserving and the lazy?).

If Obama follows through with anything other than letting all of the cuts expire, or letting the cuts for those making above $250K expire, then he will find himself with both an angrier base, and an ungrateful opposition.  Moreover, Obama will put himself into position to have to argue about the prospect of raising taxes during the '12 elections, especially if he works out a stupid deal to extend all of the tax cuts for two years more. 

It will be really hard for me to support someone naive enough to walk into a trap like that.  Perhaps a re-reading of the tales of "Br'er Rabbit" might offer proper guidance for the President.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Getting Some Political Things Straight

I have admitted that the results of the mid-term elections shook me a bit in my last post, and I certainly wrote a missive against Rep. John Boehner that was tilted more toward my feelings than normal.  I used my time in the Outer Banks to try to relax, watching the waves crash on the shores, and I've been listening to a lot of Suzanne Vega and k.d. lang to put me in a better autumnal head space.  It's all been working for me. 

But today, there were two posts that I read that have helped to point me in a direction that I want to follow.  One is an interview with soon to be former Rep. Alan Grayson of Florida at Crooks and Liars, and the other is a great post by Andrew Sullivan over at The Daily Dish.  These two posts reminded me of precisely what is wrong with politics in the age of Obama.

In the interview with Rep. Grayson, I found it really fascinating to read about the procedural ongoings within the House of Representatives.  The level of obstruction perpetrated by the GOP is not surprising, to be honest, but the fact that it wasn't reported as obstruction in a way that was plain was indeed a failing of the media, and of the Democratic Party.  The lie that was perpetrated was that the Dems were not allowing the GOP to offer meaningful amendments to help improve Democratic legislation:  there were no meaningful amendments.  All were tactics to slow down or kill Democratic legislation.  Was it that hard for Republicans to say that that was their goal to the broader public?  And though I am tempted to call Democrats cowards for not screaming through the rafters about this obstructionism, it seems pointless now.

The Sullivan post breaks down precisely how pundits on the right have used lies to create false narratives about President Obama.  Now, I am the first to admit that I have my problems with how Obama's administration has handled things that I find important, but I've never felt it was necessary to make shit up to prove my points.  Just read Sullivan's post on the claim that Obama doesn't believe in American exceptionalism.  Sullivan provides, in full context, Obama's explanation of our exceptionalism, and then he shows how just a snippet of Obama's original comment has been pushed to create a lie that many on the right now firmly believe to be the truth.  "Death panels" is another great example of a lie.

Legitimate supporters of conservatism deserve better from those they look to for information, or at least I hope they feel that way.  The strength of one's honest political arguments should be enough for all of us to make informed decisions, and we need an honest, thorough and vigorous press to shine the light on shenanigans that help none of us.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Some Post Mid-Term Elections Thoughts

When I was a teen, and really needed to consider something that I thought important, I would occasionally sneak out of the house and ride my bike that mile down to the beach.  Once I was there, I might just stare at the waves crashing onto the beach, or I would look out toward the horizon contemplating on what I should do to resolve whatever issue was on my mine.  Now here I am years later at a different beach (at least until Sunday), contemplating the political events of this past week. 

Because I have been blessed with a genuinely diverse set of friends, I know people who are both wildly excited and downright morose following the 2010 mid-term elections (I am on the morose side).  Since Tuesday, I have paid less attention to the news than usual, and I have written a post that was not reflective of my usual measured self.  For the first time since I became politically aware (around the age of 12), I actually contemplated letting it all go.

I've come to the realization that I made a grievous mistake:  I put too much faith in Barack Obama.  Now with that said, I firmly believe that he was, by far, the best choice out of the two from 2008; Sarah Palin will always be a non-starter for me, and the idea of her in higher office remains offensive to me.  But I digress.  President Obama, to me, has proven to be a meek, non-confrontational leader.  I was hoping for a Roosevelt (either would do), and I feel like we in some ways we have Hayes (the man who, for the sake of gaining the presidency, cut a deal with white Southerners to end Reconstruction).

I also, for the first time that I can recall, have been wishing that I was one of those Americans who don't really give a shit about politics or policy, that perhaps I should just focus on all of the social gay stuff, and the historical periods that always get me smiling (Reconstruction, the rise of modern American, and U.S. Sport history), or perhaps lose myself in the world created by E.M Forster and write essays about that.  Ultimately, I would wish to abandon the present, politically, and wrap myself in the historical past and simply being expressly without politics in my life.

I doubt that I will do that in the end.  But the temptation is incredibly strong right now.  It's like fighting an urge not to care anymore, a nihilistic desire to abandon the current reality.  Crazy sounding, isn't it?  It's likely that my conservative friends will be surprised and mildly amused by my reaction to this week.  So be it.  But, I want no one to misunderstand my feelings:  Democrats have been disappointing regarding issues that I find important, Republicans seem only interested in cutting taxes and talking about cutting spending, while growing government, and demonizing everyone who doesn't hold their political points of view.

I am tired, but I cannot give up.  That is too easy.  But I really need to take some time to sort out my next steps.  Maybe I will just spend the weekend awash in romantic comedies like "The Best Man," "Notting Hill," "Love Jones," and "Jeffrey."  Or perhaps I could remove myself from this world and visit Middle Earth or Hogwarts.  Because, right now, almost anything seems better than what I am feeling right now.

Boy am I glad that I am at the beach this week.

Olbermann's Suspension is the Correct Move

When I read that Keith Olbermann, whose over the top commentary I often enjoy, had donated money to Democratic members of Congress without disclosing that he had, as well as providing them with air time through interviews, I was thoroughly disappointed.  He should have known better, and I think it's right that he has been suspended.  Now, I wonder if any of the Fox people have clandestinely donated to Republican candidates that they have had on their programs, and if Fox would take the same action.

But I want him back on the air.  Get the money back, apologize publicly and get back on the air.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

I'll Make it Plain: I Do Not Like John Boehner

Last night, I was having the worst time trying to find my voice.  I couldn't really determine all that I wanted to say.  But now that I am watching John Boehner blather and bleat about the American people and other such things, I have a better sense of what I want to say.  He, in my mind, represents precisely what is wrong with our country.  As I watch him right now, flanked by Haley Barbour and Mitch McConnell, I see pure animus, and I fight mightily not to see enemies.  But it is fucking hard. 

With that said, I don't think that the Democratic Party has all of the answers.  And Lord Jesus I can say that the GOP has not had the answers in my mind since Teddy Roosevelt.  God knows I held my nose as I voted for Glenn Nye in the Virginia Second, but there was no way I could even fathom voting for Scott Rigell (and I am glad that Nye lost, because there is no use for someone who is Republican-lite). 

I think I now know how McCain supporters must have felt on that night in 2008.  When I look at Boehner, I see someone who represents why affirmative action was instituted in the first place.  I see him the way whites see black folks they assume are affirmative action hires, but I don't think I am wrong about his actual lack of qualifications.  I do not see him as an adult in the building.  I do not see him as someone who gives a rat's ass about all of the desperate and poor and unemployed and uninsured who are cheering his ascension today.

But, I will be just fine.  I will settle in and watch exactly what he does with this new position of power he will acquire in January, and I am more than prepared to use my little space of the blogosphere to hammer him for every single slight that I find, every opportunity that he puts his self interests before those people he purports to speak for (and I mean the broke people, not the rich ones that he and too many in all of Washington he seems to prefer), and any move to impeach the President without just cause (I definitely expect that to come down the pike).

Monday, November 1, 2010

In Praise of Sanity

I am supporter of President Obama, and I voted for him with the cautious hope that perhaps we could bring some sanity back into the White House.  For the most part, I think that that has happened.  I strongly disagree with this administration on it decision not to go after those in the last administration who authorized torture, on the hapless strategies and casual indifference to gay rights issues, for hiring Geithner and Summers when we needed real visionaries to tackle our spectacularly failing economy (the Warren appointment is a singular step in the right direction), for not looking to the creation of a contemporary WPA or CCC in order to tackle unemployment, and for not recognizing soon enough that the GOP gave only a fuck about stopping anything this administration wanted to do.  And with all of those disagreements, I am not disappointed in casting my vote for Obama.  I felt that it was the prudent thing to do.  He was the adult in that race in '08.

I certainly have expressed on this blog my anger at my fellow Americans who have acted like Obama's ascension was akin to the rise of some of the worst true villains in 20th century history, and I am sure that there are some who feel that Obama is a greater threat to the nation that Islamic terrorists.  That is just fucking crazy.  Yes, I disagreed with President Bush on virtually everything, but I still respected the man as my President (I still jokingly refer to Cheney as Voldemort, but Voldemort  is a fictional character).  I did not feel that I'd actually lost my country, though I did feel that we'd lost our way.  And I pride myself on having honest to goodness friends and acquaintances who fervently disagree with me politically and philosophically, because it keeps me grounded, and prevents me from ever falling into an echo chamber.

It seems to me that the Jon Stewart/Stephen Colbert rally on Saturday was one that respects that sensibility.  As Stewart said, "we can have animus without being enemies."  I definitely think tea party Republicans and the Fox News operation are terribly misguided, but I don't hate them, and I don't dismiss their legitimate fears regarding how our country will sustain itself as the planet's greatest country.  I am not sure that the other side can always say the same thing.

I think that Andrew Sullivan hit the nail on the head in his assessment of the rally participants (and viewers):  we're pragmatists, and believe that President Obama is indeed the only adult in Washington ready and willing to roll up his sleeves and try to address our many crises earnestly.

We need to work together and solve this country's problems as best we can, and we need legitimate ideas from the right.  It would be silly to pretend that there aren't good conservative ideas out there, and conservatives need to be reminded that there are good liberal ideas out there as well (something that they seem comfortable in arguing right now).  If we don't take these things seriously, then the country as a whole will fall.  Isn't that frightening enough to get the GOP members of Congress actually to do their jobs?  My guess right now is probably not.  They have convinced themselves that only they have the solutions, and that the only compromises have to come from the President and the Democrats.  That simply does not work.  It wouldn't work if the Democrats did it, and it won't work for the country. 

We need sanity in our politics to return.  President Obama has been taking steps to restore it, and he cannot do it alone.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Rachel Maddow Helped to Show What Happens When Opinions and Facts Clash

I give major kudos to Rachel Maddow and her staff for getting interviews with all three candidates running for the U.S. Senate seat in Alaska.  If you haven't seen the show, I recommend it, particularly Maddow's interview with sitting Senator Lisa Murkowski.  But the portion of the show that I want to highlight is the portion when Maddow talks with Miller supporters.

Listen to what these folks are saying. The guy that Rachel talked with is clear that Attorney General Eric Holder is the most anti-gun AG we've ever had. "Let's look at his voting record before hand," the guy says, and when Rachel let him know that Eric Holder has never held elective office, it was nothing but "deer in the headlights" for this guy. And then there was the woman who is convinced that the New Black Panther Party is essentially getting special favors because they are black (I would bet the farm, if I had one, that she is a Glenn Beck fan, and drank every syllable of Beck's pronouncement that Obama is a racist and hates white people; the fact that Obama was raised by his white family, whom he loves, of course, doesn't matter).

Folks can call me whatever they want, but what they will never be able to call me truthfully is a low information person. Therein rests the problem that I think is going on way too often on the right, and right wing media and politicians use that low information voter to their advantage (please note that even in the face of the fact that Eric Holder had never voted on a gun issue, that didn't really stop the guy interviewed from feeling what he felt; Eric Holder, and subsequently Barack Obama = bad, regardless of the circumstances).And this is my central problem with an organization like Fox News.

It's one thing to have a bias, but work hard to simply report the news, while maintaining clear lines between news reporting and opinion making. But it is another thing altogether to marry the two; Fox has (mostly) married the two. That does not help its viewers in the long run. Again, say what you will about MSNBC or CNN or NPR, but I am confident their news divisions try to maintain objectivity, while giving its opinion makers space to make their opinions. The Wall Street Journal does an excellent job of this on the right, and I have long been comfortable with the veracity of its news articles, even when I think that their op-ed columnists have lost their minds.  And I can say the same with local Fox affiliates that I've watched both in Washington, DC and down in Hampton Roads, VA.  Yet, the cable station is just something to behold, and I don't mean that in a good way.

The result of all of that Fox and tea party GOP hard work is what Rachel showed the world last night. 

Be Passionate About Politics, But We Can Do Better Than This II

Only in a Dick Cheney mindset infected world can you have the man who clearly stomped on the woman near Rand Paul ask for an apology from the woman he stomped on (h/t The Political Carnival). 

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Be Passionate About Politics, But We Can Do Better Than This

When I saw this clip out of Kentucky, I have to admit that I was shocked. Even if this anti-Paul protester had been a man, there was no reason for that pro-Paul coward to use his foot on a this woman who was already down. That was hate, and there is no justification for it.

Monday, October 25, 2010

What Do Democrats Do When the GOP Accidentally Lets the Truth Slip Out?

So I saw this post over at Think Progress, and I watched the clip attached to the post (which I will add to this post), and I tried to read the National Journal article referenced in the post, but couldn't (it's behind a pay firewall, and I will look for the actual publication and read it).  By the time I finished the Think Progress post, the first thought that came to my mind is that the Democratic Party would be fucking fools not to run with the words Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell told report Major Garrett (formerly of Fox News, if I am not mistaken) that his "single most important" job is to make President Obama a one-term President.

If I were the head of the DNC, I would be ordering ads cut right now.  And I would be putting McConnell's words into what I believe are their proper context:  "Fuck the pain of the American people; we just want to get back into power by any means necessary."

I have tried my level best.  I hoped that there would be some things that were just so important to the United States as a country that the GOP would be willing to act in good faith with a President facing crises of near epic proportions.  But it is more clear to me now than it has ever been that the leaders of the GOP, and concomitantly an overwhelming majority of their supporters, would rather take down Barack Obama than actually try to help the American people.

I have not heard a single GOP proposal explaining how Republicans would tackle the genuinely pressing problems that we are facing as a nation (and "tax cuts" are played; try something else).  Republican sponsored amendments offered during the sausage making process are offered not to provide meaningful conservative ideas, but only to gum up the process overall.  The GOP claims that they haven't been consulted during many of these efforts, but those lies are in the gutted legislation that limps over to the President's desk, and most particularly in the legislation that never makes it to a vote in the Senate.  It's sickening.

It's at times like these when one can see exactly the true differences between the Democratic and Republican parties.  Imagine if Harry Reid or Nancy Pelosi had said anything akin to that in 2007.  The world would have fucking exploded, and the GOP would have been holding the detonator with glee.  I just don't think that the Democrats have it within their DNA to go hard like the GOP, and at this point it's a shame.  It could be so simple.  They could ever stretch the truth to the break point like the GOP does regularly.

"Why is the unemployment rate stuck at 9.6%?  Because Mitch McConnell's single most important job is to defeat Obama."  You can put in almost any issue in the question portion, maintain the following sentence, and beat it into the heads of the American populace.  Or what about this:  "What is more important to the GOP, defeating President Obama in 2012, or helping the American people in 2010?"  It's a good fucking question that needs to be asked repeatedly, even to the point where our sycophantic (for GOP generated memes) political journalists might actually ask that question until we get an honest answer.

I firmly believe that there are liberal and conservative political ideas that have worth, and that would benefit our country.  That yin and yang is necessary, and it has helped to make this country the great country it is.  But I think it is downright un-American for one party uniformly to obstruct the efforts of the party that won the majorities in elections simply to help create a climate so that the out party can regain power, even at the expense of the pressing needs of the American people. 

I am more than confident that the Democratic Party will not have the courage to say anything like what I've written publicly, in front of microphones, or to its supporters.  Nope.  The Democrats "single most important" job seems to be not to piss of Republicans. 

Juan, Juan, Juan II

When I first heard about Juan Williams situation, I wondered aloud if Williams was the autumnal Shirley Sherrod, and NPR the latest USDA.  But I realized quickly that the analogy didn't work at all.  Now, I am going to be lazy and just ask folks to check out this post by Ta-Nehisi Coates, because he nails my thoughts on this Sherrod/Williams (bad) comparison pretty damn near perfectly.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

A "Bill Cosby Liberal?"

Okay, this whole Juan Williams thing has made people a little crazy.  This line that Williams' free speech rights were somehow abrogated is bullshit.  And now this weird new line, and something that only someone like a Brit Hume could imagine, of the "Bill Cosby Liberal" is just strange.

I will say it now.  I am no fan of white folks who jump on an imaginary bandwagon of support when a prominent black person criticizes aspects of the black community.  In this instance, I think there is a missing ingredient when you look at Cosby's comments and Hume comments:  actual respect for the people being admonished.  And by attempting to link Williams' words of irrational fear with Cosby's words of genuine concern, Hume showed me just how little he respected what Cosby actually said.  I think Hume saw the Cosby commentary simply as an opportunity to assuage his own disdain for aspects of the black community.  By the way, people seem to forget that Bill Cosby got a lot of support for his comments from many black folks, including me (does that make me a "Bill Cosby Liberal?"). 

All of this love from the right directed at Williams feels fake to me.  My guess is that the real reason he is getting support is closer to what Glenn Greenwald suggests, than any other explanation I've heard.  I also would love to know what Williams' defenders would have to say about Williams points that Andrew Sullivan unearthed from an old colloquium sponsored by The New Republic (one that I actually remember hearing about).

Though I will be very glad when this tempest in a teapot finally comes to an end, I pray that we will not have to suffer hearing the words "Bill Cosby Liberal" ever again.  Cosby's comments were about moving folks forward; Williams comments were about giving people a pass to hold on to irrational fears.  So not the same thing.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Is It Hypocritical to Campaign on the "Failed" Stimulus, While Simultaneously Seeking Funds from It or Touting its Benefits Locally?

I've just been looking through some of the letters from members of Congress requesting funds or supporting projects requesting funds from the "failed" stimulus program.  Cognitive dissonance anyone?  The Center for Public Integrity has made available letters (in a post on its website) requesting those funds. 

The very least these folks could do is have an ounce of integrity, and I am including those Republicans who are running for Congress too.  If the shit works, and brings or saves jobs in your district, be honest about that.  It's not that difficult.

What If We Followed Britain's Lead and Announced Nearly 500K Public Sector Job Cuts?

I am really interested in seeing how things will work out in the UK with this 490K job cut in the public sector.  First, I will be fascinated if the proposal actually goes through.  Second, I will be fascinated to see which UK agencies are hardest hit.

It might surprise some folks who know me to hear that I think this isn't necessarily a bad idea, and that it is one that I think we could consider here in the U.S.  The problem, of course, will be where to aim the hits.  Conservatives would try to deem that the Departments of Defense and Homeland Security as sacrosanct.  Liberals might try to deem Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid as sacrosanct.  I think that our political climate, as it stands right now, would not tolerate across the board cuts. 

I think that we need an efficient well-run government.  No, it doesn't need to be some bare boned, beast starved conservative fantasy, nor does it need to be a bloated leviathan (which is more like it is now).  But no matter what happens, I want a fully funded Smithsonian Institution and National Park Service.  And I want the new markets and historic tax credits extended so that we can revitalize historic neighborhoods and actually help the various real "Main Streets" across the country (and create jobs that cannot be outsourced).  But that's just me.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Juan, Juan, Juan

Clearly, Juan Williams of Fox News (and now formerly National Public Radio) learned nothing from the firing of Rick Sanchez.  How are you going to say on national television that Muslims in full regalia on a plane make you nervous, and not think that shit will not end pretty?  That comment should have been made at the bar with some gin or vodka somewhere nearby.  Even if you believe something like that, it is just better to keep it to yourself.

I want to watch the clip before I say more about this, so there will be more to come.

UPDATE (10.21.10):  First, I found a clip that I think has solid context.

There are three points I want to make about this, now that I've watched a more complete clip.  First, Williams did not need to tell the world that he felt nervous when he sees Muslims in full regalia.  I understand that this was a moment of honesty, but one should always think twice and then speak once.  If Williams had said that there are Americans who look questionably at Muslims in full regalia in this post 9/11 world, and that though that happens, we still need to remind ourselves that we cannot blame all Muslims for the actions of a few, then I think that Williams would have both won the argument and kept his job.  I am not going to pretend to know the particulars of either NPR's journalistic policies, or the contents of Williams' contract with the organization, but if he violated the terms of his contract, then that is what he did.

Second, I totally reject is this idea that Williams has had his speech rights denied.  It just isn't true, no matter how many times folks on the right try to say it is.  I also found this analysis highlighting the recent firings of journalists based on what they said interesting, particularly the reactions from prominent folks on the right. 

Finally, I will admit that I didn't really like the way that Williams framed his admonishment of O'Reilly.  But, I don't feel like his comment was as bad as his Fox News colleagues Brian Kilmeade or (most definitely) Glenn Beck.  And I still don't understand how Beck survived calling the President an outright racist who hated white people (including, presumably, the only people who raised him).  Williams comment was questionable, even if many people might feel that way, but we've heard worse from people who suffered little to no costs for saying it.

Things a Virginia Fourth Grader Needn't Know

I was floored when I read the Washington Post article noting that the primary fourth grade Virginia history textbook states that thousands of black folks fought for the Confederacy.  I love that it was an historian (Carol Sheriff from William & Mary) who sounded the alarm on this issue.  Ironically, we both attended a conference on Race, Slavery and the Civil War at Norfolk State University just last month, and one of the key issues discussed that day was the role blacks played in the Confederacy.  There was a distinct effort on the part of the various historians who were speaking to make it clear that this notion that there were thousands of black Confederate soldiers is just false.  Even University of Virginia historian Ervin Jordan, who recently published a work covering blacks fighting for the Confederacy, argued that the historical evidence simply does not support the idea of thousands of black Confederate troops. 

Like many other historians who have looked into this issue (one of my first papers in graduate school was an examination of Confederate slave impressment legislation in South Carolina), I was done when I read that the textbook also states that two black battalions fought under Stonewall Jackson.  In the Post article, the textbook's author, Joy Masoff cites Jordan's book and Internet research as her sources for her points regarding black Confederates.  But two things need to be known on the Jackson issue.  First, blacks were not allowed to bear arms for the Confederacy until 1865, as the Civil War was coming to a close.  Second, Stonewall Jackson was killed in 1863.  Unless Jackson openly defied the government of the Confederacy before his death, which is highly unlikely, there is no way that he commanded two battalions of black soldiers.  Masoff's research was simply shoddy on that front, and if it hadn't been caught, thousands of Virginia fourth graders, including my nephew, would have been taught lies presented as facts.

Instances like this remind me of why I am so glad that I chose American history as my field of study, but it also reminds me of what so many people don't know.  Knowing American history should not be a privilege, yet it sometimes feels that way. 

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Will Being Gay in Uganda Lead to Execution or Imprisonment? IX

I feel bad that I am just seeing this story (over at Box Turtle Bulletin, which reported it back on October 4th) of a Ugandan tabloid, Rolling Stone, essentially outing several of gay Ugandans by posting tons of pictures.  I am just reading the update now.  Take some time and check out the links.  It is both a sad and fascinating situation in Uganda right now.

A Reminder That Simply Being Gay Can Get You Fired, Regardless of Actual Job Performance

Imagine if your partner/spouse was being abusive to you.  Of course you would call for help, and hope that that help would indeed come.  But would you expect to be fired from your job, as a result of your call for help?

Down in Hattiesburg, MS, Andre Cooley is now a former Corrections Officer, because he called 911 to help him deal with his allegedly violent boyfriend.  When the Sheriff, Billy McGee, found out that Cooley was gay, he authorized Cooley's firing (h/t Rod).  It didn't matter what Cooley's record on the job was.  All that mattered was that Cooley was gay (can you imagine this happening to a female Corrections Officer who called 911 about an abusive boyfriend/husband?).  According to an article from the Clarion-Ledger, McGee said the following:  "He got in a fight with his boyfriend, and the police were called to his house for a domestic disturbance....Those kinds of incidents don't speak well for people in law enforcement."

I just want people who read this blog, particularly those who aren't gay, to understand what happened to Andre Cooley.  The man was fired simply because he was gay.  Not too long ago, someone commented on an earlier post saying that gays could live in peace, but that we choose to marginalize ourselves (I guess like we choose to be gay, right?).  Tell that to Andre Cooley.

Too few people in this country know that in the vast majority of states a person can be fired simply because his/her boss does not like the fact that he/she is gay.  And there is no recourse.  That has to change.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Speaking of Voter Suppression (and I am Not Talking About the New Black Panther Party)

I can understand a campaign ad that suggests that votes support one candidate or another for just about any reason; that is the nature of a campaign.  What I cannot understand is putting forth a campaign ad that actually tells a segment of the voting public simply not to vote.  I really am gobsmacked that a conservative group would really target Hispanic voters in Nevada, and ask them not to vote at all.  WTF!!!  Is there something wrong with asking to support the Republican or the tea party Republican candidates?  What about the other state focused races in Nevada?  Again, WTF!!!  I hope that every single Hispanic voter in Nevada, regardless of party or political philosophy is offended, and, in turn, will show up to the polls in numbers unprecedented.

P.S. Why are Representatives Maxine Waters and Charles Rangel, as well as Senator Barbara Boxer, in this ad? Senator Reid and President Obama make much more sense for this Nevada specific market.  And finally, will Fox News cover this actual attempt at voter suppression like they did the strange New Black Panther Party?  I know.  I know.

UPDATE (10.19.10):  I am watching "The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell" right now, and he is interviewing the man behind the ad.  And one of the points that O'Donnell raised was why not lay some blame on Republican officials who blocked immigration reform (which is appropriate).

Virginia Thomas Seems to Have Lost Her Mind

Lord Jesus.  I know Clarence Thomas' wife did not call up Anita Hill and ask Hill to apologize.  I guess all that tea party Republican blustering has given Thomas enough chutzpah to make a call like that.  Oh, to have been in Hill's office when she listened to that voicemail message.

The John McCain I Never Really Knew (And In Light of the Changes, I Think I am Glad I Didn't)

Many Republicans that I've gotten to know over the years often mentioned Sen. John McCain as an example of a Republican the even I might appreciate.  But my McCain knowledge, prior to the 2008 election, was limited at best.  Of course I knew that he was the son and grandson of Admirals, and that he was a prisoner of war during Vietnam.  I also knew that he was tied to the Keating Five scandal, but I didn't know to what extent or how close that situation came to bringing him down politically.  And I was also aware that the George W. Bush supporters in South Carolina successfully floated the lie that McCain had fathered a "black child."

I did not support John McCain in 2008 (I will never cast a vote for anyone associated with Sarah Palin), but I was fascinated by the number of people who talked about the changes they saw in McCain and in his positions.  However, I just finished reading Todd Purdum's Vanity Fair article on McCain, and I found it truly fascinating.  I recommend folks reading it, particularly those who were fans of the old John McCain.  I would love to hear if Purdum's article hits close to the mark for McCain supporters.

It seems to me that John McCain, because of the strong primary challenge this year, has become something that he apparently was not before, a tea party Republican.  And in tacking way right, McCain seemed to have abandoned past positions, reasonable ones, on DADT and immigration, to the detriment of the nation.  I would love to see what history will say about McCain.  What I am reading right now, is just plain ole interesting.

Rachel Maddow Knocked It Out of the Park With This One

There are times when all I can do is ask the readers of this blog simply to watch.  Here is Rachel Maddow breaking the memes of the mid-term elections so that they are forever broke.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

A Strange Day for Don't Ask, Don't Tell

Today has been a whirlwind of a day with regard to "Don't Ask, Don't Tell."  Now, I am not sure about the timeline, but I do know the following:  the Pentagon confirmed an internal memorandum making it clear to the JAG Corps across the services that all activity related to DADT has to stop until there is some movement by the Obama administration, and then Obama administration asked for a stay of the decision that declared DADT unconstitutional while it seeks an appeal.

A Reuters article noted that during a town hall meeting today sponsored by cable channels MTV, BET and CMT, Obama was asked about DADT, and said the following:  "This is not a situation where with a stroke of a pen I can end the policy....This policy will end and it will end on my watch."  Now unless I am mistaken, I think that Obama's statement is true, but with caveats.  If I am wrong, please correct me.  Is it not true that Obama has the power, with the stroke of a pen, to suspend DADT investigations and/or discharges while this situation is dealt with (including waiting for the Department of Defense review, as well as the appeal process of the recent ruling)?  If that is true, and Obama has that authority, why has he not exercised it?  Has he even checked that he has that authority, and if he has, why not communicate that?

Politically, I think it is safe to say that the Obama administration is in real peril of permanently damaging his credibility with the broader GLBT community.  And this is just the latest manifestation.  Furthermore, the administration is being played by the Log Cabin Republicans.  Through this lawsuit, that group has been able to cast a flood light on just how flawed the Obama administration's seeming half hearted efforts (remember the utter lack of lobbying for the Defense Re-Authorization bill's passage, before the current recess?) on DADT have been.  Obama has made it clear, and I can partly understand his reasoning, that he wants the process that his administration put forth to be completed.  And though I understand that by having Congress put an end to DADT, you reduce the level of noise from the right and minimize a backlash, it feels (to me at least) that the Commander in Chief has ceded the real power on this issue to Sec. of Defense Gates, and in the end what he says seems like it will go.  I hope I am wrong, and I hope that that "fierce advocate" for gay rights might finally show himself, but I am not so sure. 

In all honesty, I am trying really hard to believe the President on this issue.  Really hard. 

There is one last thing I want to get off my chest on this issue.  I've stated that I am glad that the Log Cabin Republicans put forth this suit, and the ruling that they got was indeed one that made me smile, but I think that it is disingenuous to beat up on the Obama administration while ignoring what the Republican Senators did to prevent the passage of the Defense Re-Authorization bill that would have put a legislative end to DADT (pending the DoD review).  I also want to remind Log Cabin Republicans that they remain members of a party that routinely rails against "activist (when the decisions are against Republican interests only) judges" for court cases precisely like this.  Check yourselves.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

In the Aftermath of the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" Injunction

Right now, I am watching The Rachel Maddow Show (no surprise there), and I am glad that Maddow has dedicated much of her show (it's still on) to the issue of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell."  I watched the interviews she conducted with two active duty officers in the Air Force, including one who is out to some of his fellow service members right now (I wonder if their unit cohesion has been irreparably compromised, and I wonder if any of that officer's colleagues who know of his sexuality are concerned about being checked out in the showers?).  The officer who has a partner had a story that needs to be heard by so many who look at this issue in the abstract.  He was concerned about what would happen to his partner, if something unfortunate happened while the officer was deployed.  What he had to do was heart wrenching to hear. 

If opponents to the ending of DADT think that it is easy for someone like me, a person related to veterans (grandfathers, father, younger brother, and cousins), to talk about the unfairness of this policy, then it is equally easy for those opponents, including straight service members, to dismiss the concerns of their gay, lesbian and bisexual fellow service members.  I've heard that some of those discharged were simply looking for a way out of the military, an explanation that I considered tantamount to calling those folks cowards.  But I cannot help but wonder about the people who didn't want to leave, the people who loved (and continue to love) their time in the military, and the people who continue to fight to remain in the military to this moment.  It seems easy to ignore those individuals, since they don't fit in the "I'm looking for an easy way out" narrative. 

I wish that the segments from Maddow's show tonight were already up on her site (I will add them later), because I think that her commentary regarding the manner in which the White House is handling this situation is spot on.  Essentially, the White House is putting all of its eggs in the Senate basket, and it has not thought much beyond that strategy.  That is the reality.  The awkward approach that this White House has taken toward the more substantive GLBT issues continues to speak volumes, and it isn't pleasant listening.

UPDATE 10/14/10:  Here are the clips from last night's show.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

And the Hits Just Keep On Coming for Homophobic Religious Types

Yet another religious figure, who probably waxed poetic on the evils of gays like me, just cannot seem to control his sexual urges, the natural ones.  I wonder if he "chose" to be gay on the Tuesday before he decided to hit on the first teenager?

Injunction Junction, What's Your Function? Stopping DADT Terminations and Losses

Though I don't know what the final chapter will say regarding "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," this current chapter is riveting.  The federal judge who declared that the 17 year old policy was unconstitutional has now issued an injunction against the policy's enforcement.  The Obama administration has 60 days to file an appeal.  That timing could easily fall into the time that the Department of Defense's review of the policy is due.  It will be quite interesting to see how that will play out.  If the DoD review is negative, will that send a signal to the administration to file that appeal?  If the DoD review is positive, will that signal to the administration simply to let the ruling stand, thus eliminating DADT in that fashion?  I must give credit to the Log Cabin Republicans for setting this snowball in motion.  I definitely disagree with them on the majority of policy issues, but in this instance, I support them 100%.

I am more than confident that we will be hearing about activist judges and legislating from the bench, but I think that because the people behind the suit are Republicans (including the affected service members), that call might not be as strong.  Of course, all of this could go down badly.  But today, I am cheering for all of those GLBT service members currently serving our nation, and their straight allies currently serving.  Savior this victory tonight.

Maddow Makes a Good Point (Like I'm Surprised)

Rachel Maddow has raised an interesting point about some of the most prominent of the Republican tea party politicians. Many people associated with the tea party Republicans have said repeatedly that their issues are fiscal, not cultural. Perhaps they should remind their standard bearers.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Yet Another Interesting Post by Ta-Nehisi Coates

I just noticed this interesting post over at Ta-Nehisi Coates blog over at The Atlantic.  I think that his question is an interesting one:  when there are no black people around to say one way or another, what would it take for a white person to call another white person a racist?  It is an interesting question.