Thursday, September 29, 2011

GOProud vs Ann Coulter strange bedfellows

Not that Ann Coulter or GOProud matter in any meaningful way, but what do you make of the fact that she's on their board and they have completely opposing views to the one moment in time gay and republican intersect?

The whole debacle at the last debate debacle where the crowd booed a gay Soldier asking a question about Don't Ask Don't Tell prompted GOProud to post:
“Tonight, Rick Santorum disrespected our brave men and women in uniform, and he owes Stephen Hill, the gay soldier who asked him the question about Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell repeal, an immediate apology.
“That brave gay soldier is doing something Rick Santorum has never done – put his life on the line to defend our freedoms and our way of life.  It is telling that Rick Santorum is so blinded by his anti-gay bigotry that he couldn’t even bring himself to thank that gay soldier for his service.
“Stephen Hill is serving our country in Iraq, fighting a war Senator Santorum says he supports.  How can Senator Santorum claim to support this war if he doesn’t support the brave men and women who are fighting it?”
Previously, GOProud had added Ann Coulter as an advisor releasing the following statement:
Ann Coulter is a brilliant and fearless leader of the conservative movement, we are honored to have her as part of GOProud’s leadership
So, she advises them, they are proud of her leadership, and yet she says the following about the debate debacle:
It is beyond absurd to demand that Republican candidates pledge not to consider altering a recent rule change overturning a military policy that had been in effect from the beginning of warfare until the last few weeks of the 111th Congress.

Of course there was booing for that!

At the time of the vote -- five minutes ago -- only eight Republicans in the entire U.S. Senate supported eliminating Don't Ask, Don't Tell. It's safe to assume that no one on the stage supported this sexualization of the military, except maybe one of the nut candidates polling at 3 percent.

This is not an anti-gay position; it's a pro-military position. The basic idea is that sexual bonds are disruptive to the military bond.

Soldiers, sailors and Marines living in close quarters who are having sex with one another, used to have sex with one another or would like to have sex with one another simply cannot function as a well-oiled fighting machine. A battalion of married couples facing a small unit of heterosexual men would be slaughtered.
My straight dual-military friends would probably be shocked to hear they'd be slaughtered by single, straight men, but I digress--

The celebrity pandering that is the GOProud groveling at the feet of Ann Coulter, as displayed in their diametrically opposing views regarding the subject above should prove that it is nothing more than a political ploy designed to garner publicity.  But I'm sure they'll still throw parties and fund raise together because clearly nothing is more important to GOProud than money, nor celebrity to Ann Coulter, so theirs is a marriage made in Republican heaven.

artist friends, help me!

There are a few pieces of art in life that I can vividly remember encountering. Lavender Mist: Number 1 and Self Portrait at 17 Years Old are the two that continue to float around in my brain when my eyes are closed or the right chords are struck in a moving piece of music.

This morning, I saw an article about a building that will soon be built that is, in my opinion, quite ridiculous.  However, the sculpture the building it is based on has now caught my attention.  It is a black sculpted bust with a large piece of wood sticking through the face. I don't know why...but I have fallen in love with it.  Go figure. I cannot, however, find any more information about it other than the name, and only one other image online. 

If you know anything further about this piece, please let me know!

Friday, September 23, 2011

I heard it from someone...

Just a quick note--I've written before about how some ridiculous things that are put forward as "fact" come from online or "I heard someone say".  Here are two examples, GOV Nikki Haley of SC who "sooo wanted" mandatory drug testing for welfare recipients because:
Down on River Site, they were hiring a few hundred people, and when we sat down and talked to them — this was back before the campaign — when we sat down and talked to them, they said of everybody they interviewed, half of them failed a drug test, and of the half that was left, of that 50 percent, the other half couldn’t read and write properly
The other, more widely seen comment came from Michelle Bachmann who said that,
There’s a woman who came up crying to me tonight after the debate. She said her daughter was given that vaccine, She told me her daughter suffered mental retardation as a result. There are very dangerous consequences.
Now, clearly they can't be BLAMED for having false information. Haley later found out the number was less than one percent and explained herself by saying,
I've never felt like I had to back up what people tell me. You assume that you're given good information.  And now I'm learning through you guys that I have to be careful before I say something
As for Bachmann, her walk-back was even less impressive saying,
During the debate, I didn't make any statements that would indicate I'm a doctor, I'm a scientist, or making any conclusions about the drug one way or the other, I didn't make any statements about that
The bigger problem I have with this kind of thinking isn't just how lazy it is, but how despite the fact the given premise for their position is proven false, they stick to their conclusion. GOV Haley is still "convinced" of the need to test people for drugs before receiving welfare and Bachmann is still against giving the HPV vaccine. This proves, I think, that people who adhere so adamantly to their political beliefs are not politically influenced, but dogmatic believers, as Andrew Sullivan would say--the Republican Party is not a party of ideals, but religious beliefs.  If your conclusions are held despite their premises being based on falsehood, this is no longer a reality based party, but a party of "faith".

gay conservatives

There is a bit of a identity crisis going on within the gay military community. The military is a little more conservative than the population in general for various reasons (although, not as conservative as most people might think).  As such, the military gay population likewise has a larger share of conservative gays than your general gay population (this is all my observation, not scientific of course). 

After last night's Republican Debate, as we do after most happenings, we took to facebook to voice our opinions. Obviously, the video of someone in the audience booing a Soldier for asking about Don't Ask, Don't Tell caught our attention.  The first comments immediately were from the left about how the GOP is the anti-Christ, and then, after a short period, the more conservative block chimed in.

Some of you may wonder how the typical gay-conservative can hold his head high.  There are many ways, as I've outlined before, but here is some other justification that I wanted to discuss in more detail.  After being told that this was more than just one guy in the crowd, but was part of the GOP platform, the conservative member asked for "proof" it was platform. I linked to the 2008 Platform (the last online) and his response was the following (And, I apologize for sharing three quotes from what is, in essence, a flame war, but it's necessary):
That's the 2008 party platform, Adam. If I were a betting man, I'd say you won't see such language in the 2012 platform now that the policy has actually changed as is largely a non-issue as the economy continues to tank. As to your post, [X], all individual opinions, and answers to a hypothetical question as well. Not quite political dogma. Do we not remember that it was a GOP group, the Log Cabin Republicans, who succeeded in getting the injunction filed against DADT in the first place while Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi, and the rest of the Congressional Democrats played endless (and needless) political games trying to tie DADT repeal to an omnibus spending bill that guaranteed zero republican support? It wasn't until they made it a stand-alone that it was passed (with GOP support and co-sponsors such as Scott Brown and the ladies from Maine, btw). Come on guys, that was less than a year ago.
I responded with:
So the official platform as it stands doesn't matter... The position of the presidential candidate (whomever he/she is) don't matter, but a group w/ no recognition by the national party as well as the (admittedly courageous) efforts of very small minority of congressmen prove the republican party ISN'T homophobic or something? You asked for the party's official position. When provided it, you dismissed it.

his response:
No, you guys have valid points, and I'm not trying to paint the GOP as getting it acceptably right on the issue by any means, all I'm saying is that there are plenty of republicans (including more than a handful in this group) who do get it right and understand the party is defined by hundreds of issues. You cause more conflict in incessantly singling out this issue as if it solely defines national politics today. I would think reaching out to this "wing" of the party would be a more important consideration than trashing the party as a whole. We aren't all bad guys, I promise :-)

I share that because I think there are two things happening. There is the second response from him, which I think is where gay conservatives have a stronger argument--that civil rights are only one issue, and that if you feel more strongly about other issues, then it's valid to weight them more heavily. More importantly, those of us who are strongly advocating for LGBT change need to focus on getting those libertarian Conservatives actively on our side instead of grouping all conservatives together as "crazies".

However, the same people generally have an impulse to respond as he did at first--to simultaneously dismiss the fact that it was VASTLY attributable to the Democrats to have gotten DADT repealed, and to over-state the significance of the minority of Republicans who supported it.  Instead of admitting the party platform is wrong and say, "I disagree with this", they tend to say, "But Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe are Republicans, so Republicans aren't bad." 

I would venture to say that I think it's sad that when LGBT rights (or, more accurately, LGB rights) are achieved that a lot of those who fought for them will forget about the T and forget about women and other minorities basking in their new found freedom and forgetting those behind. But, from what I've seen, those who are gay-conservatives (other than a very few who tend to be Log Cabin Republicans) also tend to be the kind of gay who don't actively push for change AT ALL.  The status quo is fine for them. In that sense, it won't be too big a loss for civil rights groups or progressives at all when the conservative block leaves the LGBT caucus in politics--while they don't actively work against rights, they haven't really been actively fighting for them either.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

"political statements"

I want to make an It Gets Better video. I've wanted to for a long time and had thought about doing so before repeal, but I thought it entirely too ironic NOT to show my face because I can't while simultaneously telling kids, "hey, don't kill yourselves, it gets better...I just can't tell you who I am because the government says I'm detrimental".  So, I waited.

Now, I'm getting some friends together to make a video and people are saying that if we wear our uniforms, it would be a "political statement".  What, pray tell, is "political" about saying, "hey, it might suck to be bullied, but your life will get better. Don't kill yourself."

Here's a list of things I've been FORCED to do in uniform:
  • Attend a religious service with an alter call
  • listen to Dick Cheney speak, twice, about politics
  • listen to Al Franken talk about Iraq
  • "bow my head and pray" at every official function I've ever been to
  • support the Special Olympics (in uniform)
  • support the Boy Scouts of America (an organization that actively denies membership to two groups of people who are legally allowed to be in the military--homosexuals and atheists)
  • attend the Association of the United States Army, the lobbying arm of the US Army
None of these are particularly "bad" things, nor are they "good", but they're surely less innocuous than saying, "don't kill yourself." Unless the mere recognition that things are getting better for gay people is, in and of itself, too political?

What's my point? I wrote about it on Peter and my blog, but the fact that simply by acknowledging homosexuality we're making a "political point" is ridiculous to me, but unfortunately true. Things are still at a level where there is "normal" (which is straight and, frankly, white) and anything outside of that is a "statement".  What people need to realize is that it's NOT a statement to be different, and recognizing differences aren't political.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

military waste, fraud and abuse

Sometimes, waste, fraud and abuse isn't as clear or obvious as it seems. For example, today I had to "certify" that I had completed an online training course. The course allows for multiple attempts as well as "guess and check". So, basically, the training doesn't require one to KNOW anything to pass the test.  To take it, you need to log into a military ".mil" website, and print a paper certificate. I then sign the certificate, my "certifier" (in my case, my NCO signs it) and then it is taken to my company. At the company level, someone looks at each of them, then logs into ANOTHER website to "certify" that we've done it by clicking a button.

So, if this is going on in every company in the army, how many MILLIONS of pieces of paper annually is this when an easier, and more accurate method would be simply to "certify" by having the first website link directly with the second? Instead, we'll print and shred thousands and thousands of reams of paper and dollars of ink.


I would like to write a glowing review of yesterday, and it WAS historic, but I think the best possible thing I can say (and what actually happened) was that nothing happened. I went to work, as always, and sat in lots of long and boring meetings, as always, and went home...and that (as they way) was that.

After work, Mom and I went to a presentation at K-State put on by the LGBT group there on the history of DADT. I should have known before I went to temper my expectations--this was a presentation by civilians for civilians.  In any case, I came away from it angry. Not because it was necessarily a BAD presentation, but because it was a very typical example of how those of us in the LGBT community so often think the whole movement was born two years ago.  The presentation didn't mention Leonard Matlovich, the first person to fight DADT in court. It didn't mention the Log Cabin Republicans, who successfully got a judge to declare DADT un-constitutional. Didn't mention Servicemembes United, American Veterans for Equal Rights, Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, the Palm Center or The Service Academy Gay and Lesbian Association, all organizations that have been fighting this for more than a decade.  It didn't mention Barry Winchell, the unfortunately killed "martyr" of the movement or any others. If I were a student at K-State right now, I'd think that in 1993, President Clinton put the policy in place and in 2011 it was rescinded because Dan Choi started Knights Out. (As an aside, can someone with PTSD "re-enlist", do former Commissioned Officers "re-enlist" and did Choi ever receive UCMJ for protesting in uniform?)

I guess I shouldn't be too critical becuase if there is ANY reaching out of the civilian community to the military community, that is for the best and I shouldn't make perfect the enemy of good, but still--knowing so many of the people who have fought for so long and seeing them sidelined in what is the history we are currently writing is really disapointing to me. I can at least console myself in knowing that they didn't do it for glory or attention, but simply to right a wrong...but it still hurt a little.

Anyway, afterwards, Mom and I had a skype dinner date with Peter during which my godmother called. The four of us laughed and talked for the better part of an hour about our pasts, the future and anything in between.  Mom and I then went to a party at the local bar sponsored by the LGBT group again.  There, I was interviewed by two young journalists. I haven't yet seen the article, but I did what I could to answer their questions honestly while still not giving them the answers the questions were clearly leading toward.

All things considered, it was a good and historic day I got to share with my Mom and Peter, and for that, I'm grateful.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

random stuff...

Just some quick reading this morning as I wait to take an AWESOME urinalysis (btw...can't WAIT until my job DOESN'T involve peeing in a cup at a moment's notice). 

  1. Anderson Cooper calls out Michelle Bachmann for...well...what she always does--repeating things that make no sense because she heard it on the Internet or "someone said."  He asks, "So are these 'things' written out in advance for her, or are these 'things' in her head and pop out?" One of  her previous advisers explains, "At the end of the day she was repeating what somebody told her. But that's not the issue."

    The point is that this woman wants to be President of the United States and the only place she gets her information is apparently from email forwards. I'd like to imagine the President does a little better than "repeating what somebody told her."
  2. The California Court of Appeals tells a math teacher he can't put up seven foot by two foot banners celebrating our "religious heritage" because it has nothing to do with Math. In a related story, conservative heads explode across the nation.
  3. Anyway, I saw this video and figure if Megyn Kelly's on board with NOT being a bigot, then FoxNews should really reconsider who they have giving medical advice.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

living as a political statement...

Something I heard a lot growing up was some variation of "you're not one of THOSE Mexicans."  People who said it generally meant that I was "ok" in polite society because, I guess, I didn't speak Spanish and didn't hang out with Mexicans who did.

A variation I soon learned was the "I don't mind gay people, I just don't understand why they have to flaunt it."  As a young man, I agreed. Pride Parades were unseemly (why so much glitter? Why the speedos? In retrospect, there was a part of me that really WANTED to wear Speedos, but knew I didn't have the body for them...oh if only young, twink Adam knew what middle-aged Adam does about my body...I'd have rocked the speedos the church and the grocery store!)  And why did "all" gays have to be so damned effeminate? (I had never considered that there were plenty of "masculine" gays that I simply didn't know were gay because I had defined "gay" as "effeminate" to begin with...but I digress...)

I never really questioned what "flaunting it" meant.  Having made the assumption they were talking about parades, I never really questioned the other thousands of "flaunts" that people make in every day life.  The first time this really hit me was two years ago or so when I was in DC with my boyfriend of the time, David.  We went to Arlington Cemetery where I now, unfortunately, have friends buried.  We spent the day walking the cemetary, visited graves, and made our way back to the subway. While we were waiting for the train, I broke down in tears. David hugged me and gave me a very chaste kiss on the forehead.  A man with his sons on the platform with us made a disgusted "guffaw" noise and said something similar to "Do they have to do that here?" and took his sons around the corner to protect him from our blatant display of...what?

That was the first inclination I had that my very "life"...the simple things that one does on a daily basis, would be by definition, "political".  I had two choices--to make a constant decision about everything I did that I should hide one aspect of myself, or to live like anyone else, but know that the perception would be (ironically) that by making the one-time decision NOT to hide something, everything I did would be perceived as a "political statement" or, "flaunting."

Peter and I had our moment in Austin. One night, Peter, Timothy and I were walking down the street. It was the first or second night that Peter and I were un-officially together and that feeling of euphoria that you get when you realize how much you like someone, and he's new and amazing to your life, sets in.  We had gone to a bar and were walking to a friend's house from there.  Peter and I were holding hands and, as we passed a restaurant, we let go.  I don't remember who said it first, but we noticed that we had done it without thinking or saying anything--we were hiding who we were so as not to "flaunt."  The decision was made then that we would never do that again, and we have stuck by that.

I am half-way through an article on Salon about a lesbian couple who moves from NYC to the suburbs of upstate.  A lot of what she describes I feel a very strong connection to.  When the cable guy or the plumber comes, and you don't want to deal with that look of recognition, in your own house, that you are somehow "other"'s very well written and struck a chord with me.

I've been told my blog is political...and it is. But my life is political. I have no choice in that. By choosing to simply BE, without hiding anything, without changing anything, and without fear, that is in itself a political act.  And, until things change, as they slowly are, my life will be a statement.

Atlas Spiked...

I read as much of Atlas Shrugged as I could. It was hard...frankly she's one of the WORST writers I've ever read. Unless you completely overlook the writing and focus only on the premise of the book (which you must have already accepted to consider slugging through the 19287047907 pages of bad writing), then really it's just a lot of bad descriptions. (Example: It was the kind of blue that wasn't blue, but a suggestion of blue like aura hanging over her." That's a description of a fur coat, if you couldn't figure it out...)

In any case, I figured it was one of those books like the Bible that you can't really ignore if you hope to engage with the world because it's simply had such an impact on how people think...and so, I read it.  I won't synopsis for those of you who haven't read it because there are enough websites that do so already, just google it and you can find it.

So, the three biggest take-aways I can remember are below:
  1. The whole idea that Daphne "pulled herself up" by her bootstraps because, by her own skill and intelligence worked her way up from mail room to owner (even though she didn't have to) simply ignores the fact that the only way she was able to do so was because society had skewed things in her favor. By ignoring the fact that people are more or less born into different starting positions in the game of life, it's easy to show someone like Daphne as proof positive that with "can do spirit" anything is possible. However, it's fair to ask that if Daphne had not had the education she did...if she hadn't been taught to read and write at home...would she have been a success?  It's not likely, but it's an inconvenient fact to the story, so Rand simply ignores it.
  2. Rearden and Tagert are the benevolent Gods of Industry who want nothing more than to create the Best Business they can and make money doing so. Great! But it's not reality. Why? Because in reality, Rearden wouldn't have spent YEARS developing a metal alloy that had ridiculously amazing properties. In a free market, all he'd have done is spent half as long developing something that APPEARED to work as well and would disintegrate in five or six years. He'd sell it to the train companies (because there would be no testing or god-damned regulations) and take his profits and run.
  3. The whole story-line about the conductors and coal-men and waiters just REALLY wanting to get onto that first train because they just love their jobs SO much they REALLY want to be a part of something big struck me as incredibly patronizing. The only people who see that kind of pure, unadulterated JOY in doing manual labor aren't laborers, it's the people who idealize labor to make money for themselves. This isn't to say that there isn't joy in labor, nor that there is no pride in labor. There are both.  However, people who DO manual labor also know that it's ridiculously hard and thankless.  They also know that the people who are generally crushed in the name of "free markets" and "deregulation" are those laborers and workers.  They are the ones who deal with the cancers of asbestos, the crushed hands from poor work conditions and the life-long complications from various ailments caused by taking the cheapest route to get the most profit possible.
I just read this article about a whistle blower in the Coal Industry that I thought illustrated this well. Basically, it's the story of Atlas Shrugged from the end of the worker (who Rand so lovingly attributes so much "folksy" wisdom).  In this story, however, the benevolent company doesn't try hard to create the best damned-mine they can in order to make a profit, the company creates the cheapest-damn mine it can and in the process places the bulk of the risk onto the backs of the employees.  Creating one of the most dangerous jobs in America with known, life-long health risks associated with it, the company continues to reap profits, pays politicians to NOT regulate it any further and uses those profits to sway public opinion in its favor. 

"But," you say, "it's a free market! The workers can move to another plant or another job and work there!"  Refer to my first take-away from Atlas Shrugged. This makes sense if you ignore the fact that as the sole industry in many areas of Appalachia, Coal Mining is not just the only employer, but drives the entire culture. Schools are funded by property taxes, which are incredibly low due to the low wages the company pays and in turn offers a poor education to children who can then, rarely, qualify for higher education. The "opportunity" to move is simply non-existent in anything other than a theoretical way.

In closing...this guy makes me want to write my own book, Atlas Spiked.  In it, the Titans of Industry manipulate workers, place all risk upon them, reap the benefits and in the process create a system wherein "choice" is a theoretical constant but a practical illusion.  In my book, the workers bear the brunt of the risk and receive none of the profits. In my book, the government isn't full of "looters" looking only to maximise their own power and wealth, but naively manipulated people who eventually only serve to increase the wealth of the wealthy. 

I doubt it would sell well though. It doesn't have the same "feel good" ending as Atlas Shrugged. But then again, Atlas Shrugged is a work of pure fiction whereas mine could be prefaced with "based on a true story"...

Tuesday, September 13, 2011


Sometimes I only post negative things...that's generally because that's what boils the blood and garners a reaction. Today, however, I read three things that I felt were hopeful, or at least bode well for the future(if you read towleroad, don't bother reading on as these are all cross-linked there as well).

The first seems negative on its face. North Carolina is about to vote on a constitutional amendment to ban marriage equality in the state. It is already illegal there, but to quote my favorite blogger, they want to "make it more illegaler."

Why is that "hopeful"? Because in Oregon, the Republican Party, realizing that it is a losing war and slowly evolving to a more accepting position, has stripped their party platform of the anti-gay bigotry pervasive elsewhere in its party. See how that works!? Slowly, people are realizing that marginalizing the LGBT community is not just a losing battle, but also self-defeating. Gays are just as money hungry as the rest of Republicans, so why shouldn't they be allowed to cheer death too? (<-snark) of the pioneers of the LGBT rights movement has been "adopted" by the owners of a historic lesbian bar in the West Village.  The sense of "community" I've tried to explain to people is sometimes hard to get across...or the way we refer to one another as "family", but this should go far to explain why. I'm glad to see we've not lost total sense of history as a community and that we look after our own...maybe someday I can meet this woman?

And so things change, slowly, and as the quote says, "the long arc of history bends toward equality..."

Monday, September 12, 2011

Tea Party Express Debate Live Blog

2115: Mitt Romney says he'd bring Churchill's bust back? he going to steal it? Ask for it? It was a LOAN! God...I swear these people just read e-mail forwards and that's it...

2046: A question designed to address the non-controversy of a Rockwell painting in the White House. Good...we need more faux-rage...

2044: They all stand there and say that we should pull out of Afghanistan now. They are the same people who said we shouldn't have pulled out of Iraq, and who said questioning if we should go in was un-American.

2042: Santorum says we were NOT attacked because of our actions, but because of a clash of cultures? This is a clear mis-understanding of what every study shows, what every international theorist has written and what anyone who study this stuff believes. But, by saying something reality based gets Ron Paul booed by this crowd. Not surprised. Funniest line of the night, Paul telling the audience, "I'm trying to get you to understand..." HA! Welcome to the club Mr. Paul!

2038: I get the feeling that Republicans just love crisis. Now we have a "national security crisis" to justify our defense spending? Interesting Mr. Gingrich

2036: Perry's the sane Republican on immigration? Is that possible?

2034: Who are all these immigrants on handouts?? This is the definition of a straw man

2033: missed some talking to Peter. Came back to hear Huntsman call Perry treasonous...too clever by half.

2015: Santorum just made it sound like this vaccine was a way of admitting children are promiscuous. ridiculous...utterly ridiculous

2008: Bachmann just made vaccinating children sound like child-rape.

2007: Perry--vaccinating little girls is good. Teaching them to use condoms...bad.

2004: this idea the tax rate is "unfair" to rich people is...ridiculous

1958: Bachmann skirts the treason question, but at least Blitzer holds her to the question. Perry stands by his remarks.

1957: crowd cheers for calling Bernake treasonous. THIS, ladies and gentlemen, is their ideology

1955: small business idea: sell XXL red-white and blue clothing outside a Tea Party rally

1952: Thank God I'll be out of the Army by the next election...for the first time in my adult life I'll be comfortable volunteering...

1948: Best quote so far, Andrew SullivanSo far, we have repealed universal health insurance, Dodd-Frank, much of the Pentagon, the Department of Education, and are so-so on Medicare and social security. What should government actually do to help the economy? Cut and reform taxes. Unless Obama proposes to cut taxes. Then that's more spending.

1948: I thought Bachmann had left the stage already...

1947: Perry scares me. His total lack of substance while spouting doctrine is red-meat to these people

1945: the four aces line was good. Perry turns it around to saying a lot without addressing the question. no surprise, the but crowd goes wild!

1941: Bachmann--history shows repatriation act doesn't work! We've tried it! I feel like it's easy to debate when you just completely ignore reality...

1938: Where do Republicans get this insight into "uncertainty with small business owners?" Just curious

1938: These questions are like a section of the GRE. "fill in the blanks with the two words that don't change the meeting of the question." why don't they just start asking, "how would you cut taxes and cut spending?"

1937: Listening to these people try hard to support things that they say they don't support because they're popular is watching gymnasts contort their bodies...

1929: Do these people REALLY think there is more corruption than good in the government? "crooks on medicaid" it THAT bad? Somehow I feel like they're being ridiculously hyperbolic

1927: prescription drug benefit...nice call.  Santorum, I voted for it. I wouldn't now. It works well, but we need to get rid of it? WTF

1923: how do we fix social security? Newt, "We have full employment..." good idea. With answers like that, how do we fix Afghanistan? "We have full support of the people" how do we fix the environment? "We have zero pollution energy!" Those aren't answers, those are just nice sounding things...

1923: First hit on Obama "he scares the American people" garners Arsenio Hall styled "hoo-hoo-hoo" with fist pump

1922: Huntsman thought ref. Curt Kobain would garner reaction in front of this crowd? They have NO idea who that is

1921: Herman Cain double-downs on the Chilean model...

1919: When Perry's not talking, he looks like a bobble head doll in the wind. That being said, Ron Paul got off in mid-sentence after he said, "because..."

1917: Does Perry think SS is Un Constitutional? His answer? He doesn't answer it. "we can have that conversation..." "we're having it right now, so answer the question!"  But...the crowd cheers for Perry for not answering? This place is bizarro world...

1916: Mitt goes after Perry's book quotes...thank God someone stops ignoring reality.

1915: God Perry seems slick in a car-salesman way. Is "A slam dunk take it home" supposed to reassure America?? Is that what people really want?

1913: minute one, Bachmann claims Obama "stole" 5 Million.  She then says, "I've had feet in the private sector and a foot in the govt. sector." That's a lot of feet!

1912: Is it a requirement that Republicans say Washington with an "R"? Warshington...where does that come from??

1911: Mitt Romney, of course you know where jobs sent them away!

1906: When did we start debates w/ the national anthem? Also...this girl is horrible. It's "Dawns Early" not "donzerly" They should have just gotten a cadet to do it...they know how to sing it right.

1905: Rick Perry, stop looks ridiculous.

1903: Why do I feel like the Tea Party questioning Republican candidates reminds me of the family I knew from high school who tried to get our priest kicked out for being not "Catholic enough".  At some point, people have to accept that any group that purely ideological will be a group of one...


Let's pretend there's an item, we'll call it "product X" that is made on the "Free Market".  This product, however, cannot be used without billions of dollars worth of infrastructure paid for, maintained, and expanded by the government. Moreover, product X also requires the addition of another product (we'll call it "Product Y") to use, which the government also subsidizes. 

Over the years, Product X and Product Y receive subsidies, support and infrastructure that literally make it impossible to live without these products in many areas of the country--people are literally beholden to these products, can't study, live or eat without products X and Y--and this drives the government to subsidize X and Y even MORE.

Now, product Z is on the market and always has been. Product Z requires 1/10 of the infrastructure subsidies of product X AND nullifies the need for product Y.  You would think it's a no brainer that shifting some of the subsidies from a portion of the subsidies spent on X to product Z.  You would also imagine that "free market" conservatives would rail against the subsidies provided to X and Y as government intervention shifting the hand of the market and skewing the free market in a way that is anathema to their anti-regulation, free market mantra.

You'd be wrong, however, because the opposite is true. Right now, the Republicans are threatening to stop ANY spending on transportation infrastructure unless they can stop the government for funding safe bike lanes in places where people ride. Not only does this mean they are even further skewing the market in favor of a resource intensive more of transportation that's damaging to the environment, they're doing so in a way that is detrimental and unsafe to those who chose NOT to use that more of transportation. 

How we, as a nation, continue to enact policies that are so grossly skewed in favor of two corporations (Auto and Oil) while ignoring the fact that doing so completely negates the policy proscriptions of the same political party that pushes so heavily for them is beyond me.  Vehicles and roads are not "freedom" despite what we've been raised to believe.  They are the ultimate government "planning" that otherwise is railed against.
I've consistently said that the Republican Party (NOT Conservatives) are a party that is devoid of a reality-based platform or belief system. I think there is now enough of an Obama record to judge that as valid. Why? Because he has cut taxes MORE than Bush, but is still called a Socialist.  And, while he presided over the killing of Osama Bin Laden as well as the pull out from Iraq, the fall of Egypt as well as facilitated the fall of Libya, but is still called "weak". 

These things lead me to believe that it is not any ideological belief in anything other than "Obama bad" that the Republican Party really believes in. If there were something more substantial, then they would have stood on it by now. But instead, there is just diatribes against perceived slights to religion, absurd and anti-reality based blanket statements about "socialism" and fear mongering.  Sadly, the general state of the American Psyche is such that someone making general claims and fear mongering is enough to grasp when the other side can't provide a "warm and fuzzy" that things will be OK. Obama will be undermined by his persistently acting upon the belief that America would rather hear hard truths than platitudes.

Friday, September 09, 2011

political parties and thier opposing views

This post is prompted by a conversation I've been having with a friend on facebook, but which I'll elaborate and extend here. The basic premise of our conversation was a discussion about a thought I had--that the stimulus and the surge were litmus tests for how one perceives each administration.  Why? Because generally people who don't think "The Surge" was a success do credit "The Stimulus" as a success and vice versa--"The Surge" WAS a success, but "The Stimulus" was not.

Why? Because each "side" uses two different definitions of "success". If you define "success" as "accomplished the mission it set out to accomplish" then the Surge wasn't a success because the purpose of the surge wasn't to "bring Iraq from the brink of collapse to relative peace" but to create an environment in which to allow a political solution to Iraqi's sectarian divisions. In this case, it was not a success. See Stephen Walt's take here.

Now, if you look at the stimulus, the "purpose" was also two-fold: to stimulate the economy, but also to avoid an utter economic disaster. Things aren't good, but they would have been a hell of a lot worse without the stimulus...but one can never prove a negative.

My point? Only that if you credit to one "success" based upon any good that comes of it, intended or otherwise, they're both equally "successful". If you credit them with "success" in terms of achieving the goal as defined when undertaken, they're both equally failures. Has either one been a "resounding success"? No. Has either been an "utter failure"? No. But depending upon how one views either president, I would venture to guess that's how one also views the success or failure of his primary endeavour.

Now, I would also like to posit another "difference" between the two political ideologies. In listening to them lately, I think the terms liberal or conservative no longer apply. We still use them, but they're so amorphous as to be useless.  I would say that the difference between the two parties could be described as this:
  • Democrats focus on addressing the actual problem (ie. unemployment, poverty, education) while not addressing the cause and do so without much attention paid to ideology behind their efforts. 
  • Republicans focus on implementing their ideology (ie. smaller government, cut taxes, free markets) while not considering the practical effects of their ideology.
What does this lead to? It leads to Democrats constantly creating programs that never address the root cause of the issues they're trying to fix.  It leads to Republicans constantly attempting to implement programs that in practice have disastrous effects on class stratification and the economy, but more completely implement their ideology.

Somewhere, there are politicians who understand the two are not mutually synonymous (one of whom, in my opinion, occupies the Oval Office)...but they're a dying breed.

Thursday, September 08, 2011

Jobs Speech live blog

1840: when he recites lines like the ones he's reciting now, quoting Kennedy, are when he really inspires and hits his stride.

1838: "the next election is 14 months away and the people who sent us here to work for them don't have the luxury of waiting 14 months..." Amen.

1837: he's hitting some high notes...showing how government can help. It's like a long rebuttal to "government isn't the problem, it's the solution"

1834: "I reject the argument that we have to choose between jobs and safety..."

1832: "some of you sincerely believe..." I like that he often makes it clear that those opposed to his views aren't un-american.

1830: patent reform...those details will be agreements? Is he talking about the free trade agreement w/ panama et al? that's interesting...wonder what the details about that are...

1825: "Right now, Warren Buffet pays a lower rate than his secretary, an outrage he has asked us to fix..." good call.

1824: To everyone who's said numerous times something like "Obama won't touch medicare or medicaid" feel free to backpedal...but I won't wait.

1822: a plan a week from Monday...why does he always release stuff not right now, but later? I find that odd

1822: Bullseye! call a spade a spade and point out the hypocrisy of letting the lower income tax cut expire.

1821: "Pass this jobs bill" is begining to sounds like the refrain of a bad church song it's being said so often...

1820: tax credit if you hire someone six months off work? Hmm, unintended consequence? People newly off work won't get jobs for six months.  Also, Georgia plan he references hasn't shown ANY solid results and, as of last week, had only 12 people enrolled.

1819: tax credits for hiring veterans...hmm...will THIS get two sided applause??

1816: Ah! There's details...and that sounds like a good two-pronged plan to me...

1813: Hmm...there aren't a lot of details yet other than saying lots of good things. "Who wants to eat chiminichongas??"

1812: "There should be nothing controversial in this bill..." somehow I feel like this Congress couldn't pass a bill the President wrote if it were the "salute the flag and breathe if you love America Bill"

1809: Addressing the political crap upfront is a good call and I was thinking the same as I listened to the news broadcast right beforehand...

1759: Hillary Clinton enters looking triumphant...Hilda Solis also looks less worn down than I'd expect for the Labor Secretary

1757: They just explained that middle aisle seats are "prime territory" and that congressmen go as early as 0900 to get them. Does it strike anyone else as ridiculous that seating is something that our congressmen care that much about? Why not just draw numbers?

1753: Apparently a bunch of Republicans haven't come because they are either boycotting, uninterested, don't want to deal with "politics" or (seriously) wanted to watch football. How's that for dysfunction?

1753: Boehner calls to order. So tears

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

post repeal...

This post, by Peter, and other conversations like it have had me thinking lately--thinking about self-worth, about catharsis, about acceptance and assimilation, but mostly about myself.

Sep 11, 2000 is the day I joined the Army. Nine days short of eleven years later I will finally, officially, be able to say that I am a gay man, and have been since I joined. I've dealt with my share of bigots, my share of support and a full spectrum in between. From friends who have stopped talking to me, friends who have said, "Why would you think I care?", friends who ask me, still, years later, "You're kidding right?" and others who said, "You should met my brother..."

But the weight, as I see it lifted not just off my shoulders, but also off my friends' shoulders is amazing. The sense of belonging and relief that is palpable is...nothing short of remarkable. I told Peter last night, it's like the moment after a 12 mile ruck march when everyone drops their rucks and walks to the water buffalo looking as though they'd suddenly lost forty pounds.  I've had more skype conversations, phone calls, IM chats and other communications with Captains, Cadets, Lieutenants and others finally no longer scared to tell their friends, roommates, parents...

I've written, over the years, in code and anonymously, here in 2005 for the Service Members Legal Defense Network about my conflict between wanting to quit the Academy and wanting to stay in,  after that decision, which Andrew Sullivan posted on his blog (and I can no longer find a link to).

But, today what I was thinking about in particular was how people like Peter and others are proving, very quickly, that the real reason the right didn't want to repeal Don't Ask/Don't Tell had nothing to do with military readiness or "the troops" and it had everything to do with using the military as a firewall against the collapse of bigotry.

My own Representative, Darrell Issa, was at least open about it (again...I'm lacking a quote)--he didn't want to repeal DADT because he knew it would lead to marriage equality.  Republicans (yes, this is a partisan issue), have continued to hold fast to the idea that if they could keep the military segregated, then they could also count on the military and Servicemembers remaining blissfully ignorant of the LGB (and yes, T) comrades already among them.  If they didn't know their friends, bunkmates, shipmates, battlebuddes, wingmen and A-gunners were LGBT, then they would return to their civilian lives espousing the same ignorant bigotry as before they joined.

However, because of situations like the one Peter wrote of above (and despite fear-mongering to the contrary), Servicemembers are some of the most fiercely loyal to their comrades.  No real Soldier will serve side by side with me or Peter and walk away knowing that we're not equals and not say anything.  When you see a fellow Soldier wronged, you do something to help, it's just how it is.

And now, the most "absolutely American" institution there is, the military, is on the verge of no longer denying that those soldiers are LGBT and thus, their rights will be fought for by every one of us (of course there will be a few hold-outs, but they will be negligable).  And society at large will follow suit because they too can no longer deny the reality of equality. 

We are close to putting this debate behind us...and amazing in itself.

Thursday, September 01, 2011

Jon Huntsman

There are a lot of things I like about Huntsman, and a lot of things I don't. He's a little hard to judge because he is, by profession, a diplomat...and a good one. What does that mean? He's good at selling what he wants to you so you think you want it.

What I mean by that is, when someone says "we need to have shared sacrifice" and "we'll broaden the revenue base", what they generally mean is that poorer people will pay more, but in diplomatic terms.  That being said, his Tax Plan seems pretty reasonable and probably shows the best understanding of the economy and taxes of any of the Republican plans.

Moreover, his statement that the US's future is NOT tied to Iraq, Afghanistan or Libya is pretty bold for a Republican to say.

What scares me about his boldness is that he may just be running for Vice President and 2016 candidate. It scares me because someone unpalatable to the masses like Bachman, Perry or Palin could chose him to moderate him/herself if chosen the candidate. Imagine, a cowboy like Perry with Huntsman following behind soothing the waters. He'd be the anti-palin--the frosting to swallow the pill. 

There's a part of me who has enough faith in him that I hope he could be the Republican Lieberman, but I doubt it. One could hope that if the Republican party gets crazy enough that someone like him could step forward and say, "whoa...I disagree with Obama, but this guy will literally drive us off a cliff." I hope he wins the Republican nomination, but I doubt it.

Bush II the moderate

I have to write this quickly, as I'm heading out the door, but did anyone else ever think that a Republican nominating race could make Bush II seem "moderate"?  I remember Bush II's first election, when he talked about "compassionate conservatism", when he talked about immigration reform, when he (at least) gave lip service to the idea that global warming was real and that, while he disagrees about the cause didn't argue that something need be done about it.

I'm not at all saying he WAS moderate. But, listening to Perry (the secessionist who simultaneously claims that the "jury is out" on global warming, but wrote in his book that it's a sham that scientists use to get money and that Medicare and Medicaid are unconstitutional), Bachmann (the ideological purist who thinks the EPA should be eliminated altogether and we should drill in the Adirondacks and the Everglades), Romney (who thinks his own, successful health care reform is now unconstitutional) and Ron Paul (need I go there?), it makes my head spin.

After Bush II's election, I thought surely a moderate Republican would bring the party back to a place of legitimate governance. I was wrong. They will drive their party off the cliff. My only hope is that they don't succeed in taking the entire govt down with them.  Sure, I'd love to see their crazy ideas proven wrong, but not if the price is utter failure of govt.