Tuesday, September 27, 2011

About That "Big Tent" in the GOP

I doubt that many would be surprised to hear that a Republican Muslim seeking a leadership position within his local party was treated like this.  I guess that for some folks identifying oneself as a Muslim is a matter of being judged guilty just because. 

Monday, September 26, 2011

I Agree with David Sirota

I have a small introduction/anecdote that I want to share before I get to the Sirota comment, and it is actually relevant to the overall post.

One of my best friends, who is from my hometown, and her husband were in town for their annual U.S. summer respite from their current home outside of Mexico City.  Since we usually gather for drinks and conversation when they are in the country, I wanted to suggest this great little spot in Phoebus (in Hampton, VA) called Six (I highly recommend the Bombay gimlet up).  My friend spent more than a decade in New York City, and I'd spent more than a decade in Washington, DC, and Six is the first place I've come across locally that had a vibe we both recognized and sorely missed.  And it was at Six where the discussion that has led to this post took place.

My friend's husband asked if I'd read an op-ed by The Nation Magazine's Melissa Harris-Perry (I am a fan) positing reasons for white liberal disenchantment with President Obama.  I hadn't, so he gave me an assignment, and provided me with a one word summary:  racism.  I looked at him skeptically, because my gut instinct was that that can't be right.

It was only today that I remembered my assignment, because I saw David Sirota's rebuttal to Harris-Perry at Salon.  Having now read both, I have to say that I really do agree with Sirota.  I highly recommend reading both pieces, starting with Harris-Perry's.  I will just say that Sirota brings in a great deal of empirical evidence, including the drop in popularity for President Obama within the black community, to bolster his points.  Finally, I will add that my disenchantment with President Obama, and I've expressed that disenchantment in various posts on this blog, has nothing to do with racism.  Sirota broke it down nicely.

I Wanted to Wait a Few Days Before Commenting...

...about the heckling and boos the gay soldier received from some members of the GOP debate audience.  I think that if one wanted to know how reviled the gay community is in some circles of the GOP, then this was a perfect example.  After a decade of hearing folks on the right nearly fetish-ize "supporting the troops," not a single person on that stage offered to support that soldier currently serving in Iraq, nor did a single person on that stage (or among the moderators) chide the audience for their reaction.  As a matter of fact, Santorum had the gall to call this man's service "tragic" and a "social experiment."  The only saving grace I can take from this situation is that at least the younger Republicans understand the humanity of their gay peers, and support issues like gay marriage and the repeal of DADT.  Meanwhile, I can only imagine what went through that soldier's mind once he heard those many boos coming from the audience. Finally, I hope this helps gay Republicans to see why it is difficult for the vast majority of the GLBT community to support GOP candidates, even when the occasional candidate has interesting ideas. And it should serve as a reminder of precisely how precarious their standing within the GOP tent really is (and don't take this as some ringing endorsement of the Democratic party; it isn't, but credit is given when credit is due).

Didn't See That Coming at All

Following the second Republican debate, I'd concluded that this race was Gov. Rick Perry's to lose.  Well, with Herman Cain, Herman Cain, winning the Florida straw poll vote, coupled with the panning across the conservative punditry of Perry's performance in that third debate in Florida, Perry seems to be on a quick path to obscurity, if he doesn't sort out a way to right his ship.  Meanwhile, I do find it hilarious that Perry's Achilles' heels appear to be his effort to battle cervical cancer, and his effort to help out the children of illegal immigrants through the Texas version of the Dream Act, two programs that I think have been useful in Texas.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

"You Know It's Hard Out Here for a Member of Congress?" II

Sometimes you just cannot make these things up (Rep. John Fleming).  I don't think that a person who says that it takes $200,000 to "feed his family" is going to get much sympathy from the vast majority of Americans who will never see anything close to the $600,000 (and that does not include his salary as a Member of Congress) net personal income he enjoys.  Actually, now that I think of it, perhaps he could get his family to eat on his congressional salary, and then he can use the full $600,000 for the re-investments, and all of the other things he's said that he is pressed to pay for with those paltry earnings.

Monday, September 19, 2011

A Sad Chapter Finally Finished

Right now, I wish I was in Washington, DC out and about in Logan, and preparing to raise gin gimlet filled glass to the formal ending of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" with gay, lesbian and bisexual friends (and one cousin) who served, and serve, in the military.  I am also extremely happy for all of those currently serving in silence (or semi-silence), because they finally can breathe a sigh of relief and simply live their lives without the threat of losing their careers.  I doubt that the transition will be problem free, but I am sure that with time, as has been shown in foreign military organizations, "gays in the military" will not induce shock or derision.  I'm sure Leonard Matlovich is smiling, wherever he is.

UPDATE 9.20.11:  I just saw that one of the co-founders (h/t Towleroad) of the group OutServe has decided to come out publicly.  OutServe is an organization of active serving military personnel.

Hip Hop Remembrances: Groove Theory

When it comes to music, there are times when you hear the opening beats of a song, and you just know that you will love a song.  That was precisely how I felt in 1995 the first time I heard "Tell Me" by Groove Theory, head bobbing to those Bryce Wilson beats almost instinctively.  And then there is Amel Larrieux's voice; enough said.  I knew that I had to have the CD, and the eponymous titled album continues to be one of my all-time favorites.  Listening to Groove Theory tracks just reminded me of how cool and smooth the group's sound was, and continues to be.

I was sad when I learned that there would only be the one Groove Theory album, but I definitely have enjoyed the solo work of Larrieux over the years.  And I can hope that one day, Wilson and Larrieux might come together on stage again.

All About Their Benjamins II

During one of the recent Republican candidate debates, one of the candidates intimated that the legislation passed during the New Deal might not have been as beneficial for the country as we've come to believe.  Of course I disagree with that sentiment, and one particular bit of legislation that came about in the New Deal era is in dire need of being reinstated (with 21st century updates):  the Glass-Steagall Act (the Banking Act of 1933).  Glass-Steagall was repealed with two new bits of legislation.  The first was the Depository Institutions Deregulation and Monetary Control Act of 1980, and the second was the Federal Services Modernization Act of 1999, better known as the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act. 

I give Matt Taibbi credit for reminding me about the Glass-Steagall Act, as I read his blog post regarding the little situation with the UBS trader's $2 billion dollar bad deal.  In the post Taibbi mentions the UK's consideration of "ring fencing," which is akin to what Glass-Steagall did in separating commercial and investment banks in the U.S, something that provided a great deal of stability for the U.S. economy for decades.  It will be interesting to see if the UK does decide to implement "ring fencing," even in the face of calls of the possibility of an economic slowdown. 

Taibbi's post also reminded me of why I was skeptical of potential effectiveness of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act.  The one thing I liked about the law was the creation of the Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection, but I remained disappointed in the lack of actual teeth in the law, as I mentioned in a previous post.  And all of this is an extension of my continued disappointment in the Obama administration's economic team, and the sense that it was more concerned about Wall Street (which now hates the President), than it was about Main Street.

Monday, September 12, 2011

The Best Word I Can Muster for Tonight is "Interesting"

I just finished watching the latest GOP debate.  Um, I am not really sure what to say.  Wait, interestingly, I felt that some of what Ron Paul and Jon Huntsman said actually made some sense.  And Rick Perry was getting all sorts of love, until those friggin' Latinos came up in the discussion.  And who could not help but get a warm fuzzy for the audience member all for the uninsured dude of Blitzer's question dying for lack of sufficient health insurance. 

Bachmann, for all of her "chootzpah," was giving Lipton, when most of the people in that room had a taste for that Luzianne flavor, drawl and all.  This is now Perry's to lose.

Oh, I found this and this to be interesting reading over at "The Dish."  Enjoy.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Actual "Fraud, Waste and Abuse," and Likely Nothing Will be Done II

Isn't it amazing what some actual accounting and auditing can reveal?  As I noted in my post on the utter waste of expenditures in the Defense Department, waste that the GOP virtually ignores (it helps when people like former VPOTUS Cheney and his "job creator" cronies own those very same wasteful defense contracting businesses), and centrist and conservative Democrats are often too afraid to call out, I am often shocked at how badly things were done following the attacks on September 11, 2001.  Over at the Huffington Post, Dan Froomkin has reported on the outrageously wasteful, abusive and fraudulent spending out of the Department of Homeland Security.  From what I can tell, the outrage from the right has been rather muted.  Shocking, I know.

Honestly, no one should be surprised that the largest bureaucracy ever created by the federal government, created under a Republican controlled government, turned out to be both terribly wasteful for the taxpayers, and incredibly lucrative for contractors.  Therein rests the only actual benefit of government for far too many on the right:  a means to transfer taxpayer dollars to the so called "job creators."  Let's not forget that it was the current House Banking Committee Chair who declared publicly that "Washington and regulators are there to serve the banks."  With that mentality, coupled with an open disdain for government generally, it becomes clear that "waste, fraud and abuse" will be endemic; it will also provide the ancillary benefit of a great GOP talking point regarding the "evils" of government.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

And About Tonight

If President Obama proposed a resolution declaring water to be wet, the GOP members on the Hill would not pass it.  With that in mind, it doesn't matter what the President will propose tonight.  I doubt seriously that it will pass.  How difficult is it to understand that the GOP has absofuckinglutely no intention of passing anything that will help this country, if there is an ancillary benefit politically to the President.

Oh, and while I am on the subject, check out this bit of commentary from a former GOP Hill staffer, Mike Lofgren.  I am sure there will be some conspiracy theories about how Lofgren isn't "really" a Republican (because no Republican can ever actually disagree with Republican policy ideas, and still claim to be a Republican, right?), but I think he establishes his credentials just fine.  What Lofgren says fits perfectly with what we are seeing play out in Washington (here's some Matt Taibbi to add further analysis to Lofgren's points).

So, I will watch the speech tonight.  I wonder who will scream out at the President this time around.  Maybe it will be more than one person, and more money will be raised for them for "standing up to the President," again.

About Last Night

From what I could tell as last night's GOP debate came to a conclusion, it seemed clear to me that this has now become a race between the two similar looking Republicans, Mitt Romney and Rick Perry.  Mind you, I think either would be an absolute disaster for everyone except the wealthiest Americans, and maybe those in the military (though our perpetual war machine needs to end; just can't afford it).  Meanwhile, I have to admit that I was surprised by some of what Jon Huntsman was saying.  Again, he is a bridge too far for me to consider casting a vote, but I could at least see the damn bridge from which he was speaking.

I really do not understand how Mitt Romney is even doing well within this whole primary circuit.  There is no question that he is a weathercock in the midst of a strong gale wind with regard to his positions on almost everything.  And is there really anything worth saying about Bachmann, Cain, Gingrich, Paul or Santorum?  Finally, I am sure that there was swooning and caught vapors all across GOP homes (though first for having to actually watch anything on MSNBC, but I digress) as Gov. Rick Perry spoke loud and said essentially nothing. 

Unless there is some gay scandal that we don't know about, I am already guessing that the contest in '12 will be Obama v. Perry.