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.