About Prop 8, Marriage Rights, and Civil Rights

I realized I’ve been mostly silent on the issue of Prop 8 here in California. There’s no question that I support the defeat of the proposition.

But I guess I’m old school enough to still be focusing on gay rights more than marriage rights. Back in the dark ages, when the issue of gay marriage started to show up regularly as part of the national discourse, somewhere around 1991, I remember feeling uneasy. I feared that focusing the gay rights struggle on marriage would divert the national attention away from the core issue of equal rights. I also was afraid that gay marriage would be just the kind of flashpoint issue that the so-called religious right would latch onto.

Now, lo these many years later, all of that has come true. And, in spite of all that coming true, we’ve made significant headway on the marriage issue. But this progress has been made if not at the expense of gay rights in general, then at least it has marginalized the struggle.

By framing the issue as being about marriage, we’ve managed to tap into the law of unintended consequences and skirted the core issue of rights. So I’m posting a list of Federal rights, as enumerated by the Government Accounting Office (GAO), that are compromised or made unavailable to GLBT people as a result of the failure of the Federal Government to provide a way for us to marry: GAO Marriage Rights

Until the right to marry is provided at the Federal level to all Americans, we’re not going to have true equality. And, until then, we’ll have to revel in the victories on a state-by-state basis.

Today’s Recipe: Sarah’s Word Salad

2 cups leafy green verbs
1 cup adjectives, chopped
1/2 cup pronouns
6 dangling participles
2 cups overripe nouns, minced
12 prepositions, peeled and diced
1 cup ripe conjunctions
6 articles, slightly blanched
1/2 tsp. intelligence
1 qt. hubris

In a large bowl, combine the verbs and adjectives. Set aside.

Season a large saute pan with participles. Gradually add nouns, prepositions, and conjunctions. Stir until lumps are gone. Add intelligence, one drop at a time, and continue to stir until intelligence disappears.

Drizzle saute mixture over verbs and adjectives. Serve on red, white and blue plates with a generous dollop of hubris. Season to taste with non-sequiturs.

Perfect for those parties of … ya know … reporters. Your guests will be saying “Thanks, but no thanks!”

Serves 6.

Our So-Called “National Security” Candidate

It’s been widely reported that John McCain has exhibited no interest in technology. The Republicans have attempted to characterize him as a lovable latter-day Luddite whose failure even to embrace e-mail is somehow a component of his cute and curmudgeonly personality.

If McCain were a plumbing and heating contractor or even a senior partner in a small-town law firm, this characterization might sit just fine. It might even be charming.

But John McCain is running for President of the United States. His lack of knowledge of and interest in technology is not cute. It’s dangerous.

Let’s face facts. The likelihood that another set of terrorists will fly planes into buildings has been limited by international efforts in the past seven years to tighten security. It’s not impossible, but it’s considerably less likely.

So what else remains vulnerable? Our ports? Our infrastructure? Yes, of course. But what would give terrorists the most bang for the buck? Our technology.

It’s hard to imagine the kind of impact that bringing down the internet or our other telecommunications assets would have. Our businesses all rely on it, our communications depend on it, and it’s one of the primary ways people get their information.

So do we really want to put the oversight of anti-terrorism efforts in the hands of someone who doesn’t know an IP address from a Zip code? Sorry. That’s not cute or quaint. It’s a huge security risk.

And, while we’re on the subject, what about our economy? Our banking industry wouldn’t exist without technology. The case can easily be made that many of our current problems have been exacerbated by the speed at which transactions can be made and the complexity that can be managed by computers. Again, how can we put a technophobe in a position of oversight of something as critical as our economy? And, again, a faltering economy leaves us in a much more vulnerable security position in the world.

What it boils down to is this: To have a clear understanding of how the world works, you kind of have to have at least some understanding of how technology works.

These are not issues that can be overlooked, as McCain seems to want us to overlook them, because he’s hailed as a war hero. You can’t play that card in this game, John.

George W. Bush: American Idle

If there were ever any doubts that George W. Bush treated his presidency as just another misadventure in a life filled with misadventures, this video — captured surreptitiously at the annual Gridiron Dinner — should quell those doubts:

I cannot express the level of disgust and rage I feel when I listen to this. It is completely surreal that this fool is capable of being so cavalier about things that would embarrass the most hardened sociopath. The fact that he can joke, under any circumstances, about Scooter Libby, Harriet Myers, and his good friend Brownie and what they did to this nation is unconscionable.

If Bush were merely idle and his presidency were merely useless, that would be several rungs up the ladder from where we stand. His presidency has been actively destructive — of human lives, of our economy, of our standing in the world. I do not envy his successor who will face the task of cleaning up the biggest shit pile an American president has ever left behind.

(By the way, George, did you even know that this song is about a man facing execution? If you make it through to next week, you may want to make a better song choice.)

Hillary’s Monstrous Choice

On the evening of the Texas and Ohio primaries, I got on my soapbox (oh, alright, I got on the phone) with my friends and stated that Hillary Clinton would now face a choice that will inevitably reveal her true colors. A number of analysts have concluded that it’s mathematically impossible for Mrs. Clinton to achieve enough delegates to win the nomination, even if she wins all the remaining states by a 55% to 45% margin and if the DNC decides to give her the delegates from Michigan and Florida. Obama would still be ahead.

Many are saying that, given this arithmetic, it’s appropriate for Mrs. Clinton to be conciliatory, at the very least, towards Mr. Obama and perhaps even to concede the nomination. Nobody believes that a protracted battle between the two candidates will be good for the Democratic party. Such a fight may even jeopardize the nominee’s chances against McCain and will certainly provide fuel for the right-wing misinformation machine.

But then there’s the issue of Mrs. Clinton’s ambition and ego. Her reputation is that both are enormous.

So here’s the choice that we spoke about: Will Hillary serve her party and her nation first, or will she serve her ego and ambition first?

I thought it would take at least a few weeks for the answer to that question to be revealed. But the events of the last few days have indicated that Hillary’s choice is most assuredly the latter.

Hillary came out of the Texas and Ohio primaries slugging. She and her campaign have compared Obama to Kenneth Starr. They have fanned the flames of ignorance and fear by providing a photo of Obama dressed in Sikh garb. And, perhaps most odious of all, she has denigrated his experience by saying that she and John McCain had sufficient foreign policy experience but Obama didn’t. (There are those who interpret that statement as, “If I don’t win the nomination, please vote for John McCain.”)

Pretty monstrous behavior.

Thanks, Gloria

Gloria Steinem made quite a stir over the weekend by pointing out a couple of the same things I posted here previously.

I’m not saying that Gloria gives a shit about my sorry little blog, but rather that there’s a case that needs to be made questioning John McCain’s wartime captivity as a qualification for the highest office in the land. In Steinem’s words:

“This is supposed to be a qualification to be President? I don’t think so.”

At least someone on the national scene is willing to take it on the chin by attempting to get people to look at this issue.

Ralph Quixote

The favorite son of my hometown (Winsted, CT), announced his candidacy for the Presidency yesterday on Meet the Press. Ralph Nader has generally been embraced by his mostly liberal blue-collar hometown. Even those who disagree with his politics and tactics tend to acknowledge his impact on the consumer protection laws and the environment.

But Nader’s Sunday morning chat show appearance was kind of sad.

I’m not going to criticize him about being a potential spoiler in this campaign (although I do believe that to be true in the 2004 Presidential campaign and, given the current climate, may be true again). But what the Meet the Press interview revealed about him was that, although his ideas may be progressive, his single-mindedness and dogged determination may be his own undoing.

The interview reveals a man who is frustrated — even bitter — at his own inability to see his ideas gain wider acceptance. There seems to be a complete lack of pragmatism about his approach. It’s as though he’s never learned how to move from the theoretical to the practical.

Is That a Swiftboat I Hear?

Barack Obama lately has been accused, both by his fellow Democratic candidates and by his Republican opponents, of being long on rhetoric and short on policy. (He used to be criticized for being too wonky, so go figure.) His campaign speeches have done what those of no candidate in my lifetime have ever done. Namely, they’ve inspired voters and instilled a sense of hope and optimism in these most negative of times. Because these more recent speeches are meant to inspire rather than simply rattle off a litany of policy statements, he’s been perceived as not having fleshed-out positions on matters of importance.

The most recent criticism came last night from Republican frontrunner John McCain’s “victory” speech in Wisconsin:

“I will fight every moment of every day in this campaign to make sure Americans are not deceived by an eloquent but empty call for change.”

I refer Senator McCain to a 64-page document, entitled “The Blueprint for Change: Barack Obama’s Plan for America,” which describes in detail Barack Obama’s positions and plans for his Presidency. If anyone (including the Clinton campaign and the mainstream media) would care to look at that document (along with the Issues section of Obama’s website), they might be surprised at how empty it isn’t.

I find it particularly ironic that McCain is attacking Obama for his oratory. Is it because that’s one of his own many weaknesses? The grammar cop in me likes to point out how often McCain fails even to match subject and verb, so how can he be expected to energize the electorate? McCain may have silver hair but he sure doesn’t have a silver tongue. Frankly, I find it unlikely that he could inspire a good bowel movement in his demographically challenged base.

Here’s the extent to which McCain inspires. The total of all Republican primary voters in Wisconsin is less than the total cast for either Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama on the Democratic side. This is in a state that is usually pretty evenly split between Republicans and Democrats. (The numbers, according to the Associated Press, are adjacent.)

This kind of criticism of a candidate may be new to Democratic rivals, but the Republicans are quite familiar with such tactics. It was the same kind of approach the Bush campaign used against John Kerry in almost identical circumstances. Kerry’s positions also were very clearly defined and posted on his website. That document was available for anyone who cared to view it, but few cared to, including the press.

The next step in the Republican’s attack on John Kerry was the now-legendary swiftboat ads. If the right-wing attack machine is on schedule — and we have no reason to believe it isn’t — there’s some severe nastiness in store.

Watch your back, Barack.

Strange G.O.P. Bedfellows

If there were any lingering doubts about how disconnected Romney-the-person is from Romney-the-candidate/campaigner, today’s endorsement of John McCain should shatter those doubts.

It was only a couple of weeks ago that the Republicans were all jockeying for the bottom-of-the-barrel position as “most conservative.” (I guess that’s kind of like the right-wing version of Miss Congeniality.) Romney was boasting that his platform, positions, experience, and credentials are the most conservative of any of the candidates. He repeatedly stuck out his anchorman chin and criticized John McCain for not being conservative enough and scolded voters for even considering voting for him.

“It was only a couple of weeks ago that … Romney was boasting that his platform, positions, experience, and credentials are the most conservative of any of the candidates.”

But, in this race for the bottom, it was pretty generally agreed by all the pundits that Mike Huckabee was by far the most conservative, hovering somewhat to the right of James Dobson and Jerry Falwell on social issues. He and Romney have both been attempting to resurrect the wedge issue of the anti-gay “Defense of Marriage Amendment,” or whatever the fuck they’re calling it these days, which would for the first time enshrine in the U.S. Constitution discrimination against a single class of citizens.

So how is it that Romney now has done a 180-degree turn and, instead of endorsing the more conservative Huck-ster, is now singing the praises of McCain? This is just one more item in Romney’s record that proves that he’s far more interested in political expediency than principles. And, if you sniff around the edges of this turn of events, it’s starting to smell a little like desperation on the part of the G.O.P.