Tag Archives: politics

politics – how humans behave when they’re negotiating power relationships

Reader, I married fafblog.

It was the only thing to do, after such postings as:

There’s No “War” in “Warrant”1 (12/17):

So George Bush secretly authorized the NSA to spy on Americans without warrants or judicial oversight. Oh, it violates your civil liberties, oh, it illegally breaks the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, oh, that tape of you and your boyfriend having phone sex has been playing in the NSA break room for a month and a half. Well boo hoo hoo! Do you hear that sound, America? It is the world’s tiniest violin playing just for your civil liberties. You can hear it in excellent quality sound because it has been bugged by the NSA. …

“Oh but Giblets the president’s executive order is illegal” you say. That’s the kind of namby-pamby whining that would have the U.S. follow “international opinion” and “the Geneva conventions” and “U.S. law.”

Fafblog followed up on the no-FISA-needed Executive Order with The King of Freedom (12/23):

…How soon we forget the lessons of September 11th! Faced with a threat unlike any before, America can no longer afford its cumbersome system of unwieldy checks and balances. Instead it must nimbly respond to terror with a single, streamlined, omnipotent executive branch. Instead of waiting for critical domestic spying programs to pass through Congress, where bickering Senators can selfishly subject them to public scrutiny, an efficient White House can put them into practice so quickly the country doesn’t discover them for another four years.

All the usual suspects have begun ringing all the usual alarm bells, calling the president’s new powers unconstitutional or even dictatorial. This, of course, is absurd. There remain numerous checks on the president’s powers, such as God, who may override the president’s veto with a two-thirds vote, and the president himself, who may bring himself to justice should he find himself to have violated his oath of office. Nor have Congress and the courts been rendered powerless, as all three branches of government have vital roles to play: the executive branch to be the president, the legislative branch to support the president, and the judicial branch to tell the president he is constitutional….

Fafblog’s coverage of the war on terror is also must-read-blogging: (World Without a PATRIOT Act, 12/17):

So I’m browsin through my local library checkin out the latest developments in shelving technology when Osama bin Laden jumps outta the card catalogue an hijacks the reference section!

“Oh no!” says me. “Stop him before he misfiles that almanac!”
“Mwa-hahaha, you’re too late!” says the terrorist mastermind escapin into the periodicals. “Now nothing can stop me from researching the history of your hometown’s spicy marmalade festival!”
“He’s in the microfiche,” says the crusty ol librarian. “We’ll never catch im now!”

Oh John Ashcroft, where are you when we need you most!

And see The Central Front in the War on Facts (12/8):

The usual antiwar suspects have been up in arms for well over a week over the military’s planting of covert propaganda in Iraqi newspapers, caterwauling about the undermining of a fundamental tenet of Iraqi democracy. As always, their concerns are wildly misplaced. First, shouldn’t a pretend democracy have a pretend free press? Second, most of these pieces weren’t factually inaccurate, but mere “spin” – such as the article that spun an Iraqi general’s death under torture as death under not-torture. Third, propaganda is merely a weapon. America’s leaders would be foolhardy indeed to refuse a weapon in their arsenal, especially against an adverary as deadly as the truth.

While it may not be the ideal of journalism in a free society, is this planted, pro-military propaganda so different from the anti-military truthaganda published every day in the New York Times? While military propaganda shows a bias towards distortion, obfuscation, and outright lies in the service of the war effort, the baleful face of the Mainstream Media shows a clear bias towards reporting reality – and reality has always been America’s greatest enemy in Iraq.

And the ongoing coverage of the torture?-we-don’t-torture-but-we-need-to-be-able-to-torture-(even-though-we-don’t-torture) story was as good as it gets; most recently with Let a Thousand Bad Apples Bloom (12/17) (“Rest assured, from this day forth, the detainees tortured in American military prisons will only be tortured by accident or happenstance, or by dozens of rogue soldiers acting in simultaneously and of their own accord.”)

And on domestic issues, Fafblog also nailed it with Nature’s Harmonious Money Cycle” (12/8):

So you can’t afford to heat your house and somebody went and cut your Medicaid and food stamps. “Oh no!” you say burnin a spare child for warmth. “Whatever will I do.”

… and righteously chastised us all about dangerous support for the HPV vaccine (God Bless the Plague, 11/17):

God created death and disease to provide a divine disincentive against soul-sullying sin. Can America afford to innoculate its children, insure its poor, and make peace with its neighbors if it means not living in fear of an insane, invisible overseer in the sky who barks at his creation in a series of mad, contradictory myths? Absolutely not. God bless the plague!

In conclusion, I highly recommend daily conjugal visits with fafblog (the worlds only source for fafblog).

carnivalia

a variety of exciting carnivals to read:

for more … blog carnival index and the über carnival site

jonathan kozol on education & no child left behind

DS: You also suggest that our current system of locally financed schools be abolished, claiming that it perpetuates inequality by allowing suburbs like Scarsdale or Manhasset to spend twice as much on each student as less affluent cities do.

JK: Schooling should not be left to the whim or wealth of village elders. I believe that we should fund all schools in the U.S. with our national resources. All these kids are being educated to be Americans, not citizens of Minneapolis or San Francisco.

DS: Isn’t that why President Bush enacted No Child Left Behind, to narrow the achievement gap between white students and minorities?

JK: I would hesitate to try to navigate the thought processes of that sophisticated, well-educated product of Andover.

DS: Seriously, why would Republicans, who have traditionally opposed big government, encumber schools with the testing requirements attached to No Child Left Behind?

JK: The kind of testing we are doing today is sociopathic in its repetitive and punitive nature. Its driving motive is to highlight failure in inner-city schools as dramatically as possible in order to create a ground swell of support for private vouchers or other privatizing schemes.

“School Monitor: Questions for Jonathan Kozol”. Interview by DEBORAH SOLOMON. NYT Magazine, 2005 Sept. 4.

non-katrina

yet more depressing news:

  • iraq: where people keep dying. A friend recently met with her family who lives in Baghdad, who reported a) her elderly aunties regularly have laser sightings trained on them by US soldiers; b) her cousin’s cousin was recently shot & killed by US soldiers; c) they still don’t have power & clean water most of the time. The situation is worse than it was a year ago. They were impressed to hear that an American woman would camp outside Bush’s home, since they thought there was no dissent in the US. …

  • declining science literacy, increasing religious belief, and increasing poverty in the US. See creationism survey (NYT) and the widely reported new poverty statistics from the Census Bureau, available at http://www.census.gov/prod/2005pubs/p60-229.pdf; press briefing.

  • the FDA decided to hold off approving emergency contraception, AGAIN, despite promises by new commissioner to have decided by today (9/1). The FDA Director of the Office of Women’s Health resigned in response. See feministe; prnewswire.

  • and i just heard that the 8th Circuit affirmed the lower court ruling in Bnetd. [opinion @ 8th Cir] A big loss for consumers and tinkerers.

but still there is light shed:

  • the NYT recently published a supremely arrogant, sexist, and stupid editorial / piece by Keith Ablow. Ablow suggested that women should think twice before letting their husbands watch childbirth, since it might destroy the man’s sexual attraction to his female partner. a number of commentators have given that article the trashing it deserved. see belle waring 8/31, for example; see also belle waring 8/23; pandagon; slate; crooked timber on women’s culture (and by negative implication what men’s culture is failing to do).

    me, i couldn’t help remembering how sensible, non-sexist people handle the issue in a way that recognizes human realities, sexuality, and needs of all parties: In The Essential Guide to Lesbian Conception, Pregnancy and Birth, the authors straightforwardly noted that after pregnancy & birth, some non-birth-parents might have difficulty feeling sexual toward the birth-parent. The authors didn’t try some reductive pop-psych “oh my god I’ve seen her insides” explanation, but pointed out that it could happen for a variety of reasons: birthing-related, parenting-related, the efforts of adjusting to a new lifestyle, new roles, and new family configurations. the answer? give it time, and work on having adult time together.

  • orcinus posted on right-wing bloggers decrying the motes in left-wing eyes (“all our extremists is belong to you”) [link from sideshow]

  • Reading A1 posted on the suggestion from right-wingers (apparently frustrated that their ideas suck) that left-wingers can’t criticize unless they come up with fully-formed strategic responses themselves. i feel like excerpting:

    [W]ho exactly is the audience for this sort of policy wanking supposed to be? Other than a tiny community of Beltway or Beltway-oriented intellectuals, or wannabes. The anti-war left is nowhere near the seat of power. Power is held, in fact, by a gang that regards opposition in general, and opposition to the war in particular, as tantamount to treason. … Even if we had detailed, rational and realistic policy advice to give, they wouldn’t listen to it. … It’s not “unserious” or “immature” or whatever other bullshit terms are favored by the Beltway types to advocate the simple message Out Now. On the contrary—advocating such messages is the only real political space within which we have to operate. Our job is not to pretend we’re living under a different regime than we are, one that takes policy proposals seriously. Our job is to do the only thing we really can do, namely cause as much domestic pain as possible for Bush over the war. … You want to have a real effect on Iraq policy? Drive Bush’s numbers down, drive the GOP’s numbers down, take their Congressional majority away from them, take the White House back. That’s not done with policy prescriptions—which (again, has Cooper been paying attention these last few years?) the vast majority of the American public will never hear, or hear an honest version of, anyway.

    I’ve got a rant, somewhere inside, about labels, actions, and correctly identifying your own politics & where they fit on the historical spectrum. Something in response to the right-wingers who try to claim the higher ground created by the left-wing civil rights movement, the left-wing anti-fascist movements, and so on. But it’ll have to wait.

yet more quotes & comments

some links, some quotes, some comments, all in one … I pulled various of these articles up several hours ago from various blogs, which I would like to link back to, but windows got closed, systems got rebooted, and to make a long story short I no longer know which link came from where.

  • Molly Ivins writes about SLAPPs and also reminds us of one of my favorite George W. Bush quotes: “There ought to be limits to freedom.” Uttered in response to a parody website. (which it seems is now on hiatus). [link from sideshow]
  • God, I loved this: famous same-sex swan couples: romeo & juliet, of boston’s Public Garden [link from plaid adder war journal 8/12]
  • This Swedish library is loaning lesbians. [Which reminds me of one of my favorite canvas bags/t-shirts seen around ALA: “Nobody knows I’m a librarian.”] The library project is called “The Living Library” and allows you to check out various, err, types of people for 45 minutes. Now circulating, a lesbian, a Muslim, an animal rights activist, a gypsy, and some other folks. [link from librarian.net 8/17; see also sbs]
  • John Nichols, “Being Like Bernie” [Sanders], The Nation, 2005/8/15.

    At his best, Sanders succeeds in separating policy from politics and getting to those deeper discussions about the role government can and should play in solving real-life problems– discussions that are usually obscured by partisan maneuvering. That’s the genius of Sanders’s independent status. But it is also a source of frustration. While Sanders backers formed the Vermont Progressive Party, a third-party grouping that holds six seats in the State Legislature, he has never joined the party and has sometimes been slow to embrace its statewide campaigns. While the sense that Sanders is a genuinely free agent serves him well, it raises questions about whether Sanders will ever create not just an alternative candidacy but an alternative politics in his state. “He will not leave a party behind him. So what will be his legacy?” asks Freyne of Seven Days. “I don’t see a next Bernie on the horizon. I don’t see what comes after him. There’s a lot wrapped up in one man, and I don’t know where that gets you in the long run.”

    But Sanders makes no apologies for refusing to be a party man. Yes, of course, he’d like the Democratic Party to be more progressive and for third parties to develop the capacity to pull the political process to the left. But Sanders is not going to wait for the right political moment to arrive. What he’s done is create a model for how an individual candidate can push beyond the narrow boundaries of contemporary politics and connect with voters in the same sense that Progressives and Populists of a century ago–operating within the shells of the Democratic and Republican parties and sometimes outside them–did so successfully.

    ai-yi-yi. i must rant. why should sanders have to leave a party to leave a legacy? his unreconstructed individualism is charming. the man stands for himself. people like and appreciate that in almost anybody and especially in politicians. a party? what do parties stand for? mostly, their own ongoing existence. at any given moment, a party might have a general drift — towards theocracy, say, or corporate welfare. or a party might be a confusing morass of many different opinions and no center. evaluating a party by its platform tells you nothing: who could imagine, reading the RNC platform, that there would be such a group as Log Cabin Republicans? is evaluating a party by its inner circle power brokers any more useful in assessing what a party stands for? the value of political parties lies in certain advantages for their members in furthering their common agenda through pooling resources, power, etc. but once a party is too big to reflect any common agenda for all its members, and has significant disagreement on major policy points among its members, then its continued existence becomes just an exercise in maintaining its own power. so bernie sanders doesn’t do party politics, but manages to get things done, stick to and voice his opinions, and he’s wildly popular. hmm. i think there’s a lesson there.

  • Digby, Shameful Indifference, 2005/8/14:

    Memo to those on the right who say the Left supports Islamic fundamentalists: we’re the Godless Heathens, remember? We’re against the religious zealots running governments across the board. Of course, that includes your “base” here in the US too so you’ll have to pardon us for our consistency and ask yourselves why we find you incoherent on this matter.

    Such a useful point. Get rid of the rhetorical labels (“left”, “liberal”, “Republican”, “Islamist”, “Democrats”, and all the various pejorative quasi-puns that conservative blog commenters think are so funny, e.g., “Dims”) and look at specific positions. State control of the press. State control of individual’s sex lives. Specific state positions on individual’s sex lives: same-sex okay or not? Protection of natural resources: important or unimportant? up to the state or the private sector? … and so on. For instance, who’s opposed to non-marital sex, same-sex relations, immodesty in women, indecency on the airwaves; and supportive of patriarchal households, tending to form personality cults around strong authoritarian leaders, pro-military/violence, pro-government entanglements with religion. With so much in common, I guess I should be happy that Islamic and Christian fundamentalists don’t get along better. Hooray for doctrines & deities!

girls go(t) game

Hillary Clinton has jumped all over the Grand Theft Auto downloadable sex mod scandal, apparently in an attempt to shore up her right-wing base and reconnect with the Tipper Gore Fan Club. USA Today 7/14; wikinews 7/17; salon.com 7/22; gtaSanAndreas links to a video of the mod in action]. Ted Frank on Overlawyered reminds us of a similar culture-war foray from the Democrats — Bill Clinton’s 1992 attack on Sister Souljah — and is pretty funny to boot:

Me, I’m just amused by the thought of class action attorneys trolling for a named plaintiff parent who will testify that, while she was okay for her little Johnny to buy a game involving drug dealing, gambling, carjacking, cop-shooting, prostitution, throat-slashing, baseball-bat beatings, drive-by shootings, street-racing, gang wars, profanity-laced rap music, homosexual lovers’ quarrels, blood and gore, and “Strong Sexual Content,” she is shocked, shocked to learn that the game also includes an animation at about the level of a Ken doll rubbing up against an unclothed Barbie doll with X-rated sound effects, and is thus a victim of both consumer fraud and intense emotional distress, entitled to actual and punitive damages totalling $74,999 per identically-situated class member in the state.

Having posted this, I have to comment on a) the class action schtick is just unnecessary; this anecdote stands alone; b) I wrinkled my nose at a few whiffs of sexist patronizing & homophobia: the contemptible ‘named plaintiff parent’ of the anecdote is of course female (because Donald Wildmon & crew are just not funny, I guess) and Overlawyered’s list of social ills includes, along with various depictions of violence, “homosexual lovers’ quarrels”. Dude. When my spouse & I fight, it’s ill, all right, but not “throat-slashing, baseball-bat beating” ill. Get some perspective.

Speaking of sexism & Grand Theft Auto, feministing raised the concern about the frequent sex-violence connection in popular entertainment. Commenter erin shed some light, which I’ll quote in full since I can’t point directly to it:

I’ve done some research on game patches, and unfortunately, the majority of those out there serve to further exploit female characters (avatars). For example, in the Xtreme Beach Volleyball game, there is a nudity patch which allows the player to play in full nude mode. No big surprise that all of the volleyball players are female. There is also a patch for BloodRayne 2 that allows a player to actually change the breast size of Rayne, inflating or deflating to one’s personal desire. These patches are readily available on gaming websites and message boards, and are fairly easy to use for any semi-experienced gamer.

However, there are also some female gamers who are designing patches to further enhance their gameplaying experience as well, kind of a proto-feminist hacker art movement. There are a few patches for the Tomb Raider series that allow a player to “gender bend” Lara Croft, turning her into a drag queen, dominatrix, or queer babe.

For more on these patches, look at Anne-Marie Schleiner’s article “Does Lara Croft Wear Fake Polygons?” www.opensorcery.net/lara2.html

Posted by: erin at July 11, 2005 11:16 PM

What’s the remedy for stupid, sexist, ridiculous, offensive, insensitive, unsatisfying speech? More speech. These female gamer/hackers get that. And so do some universities and businesses. The current monoculture in video games isn’t ‘just the way it is’; it’s a result of social forces and trends. These social forces and trends are hackable and that’s an opportunity.

update 8/15:

On the sex-violence issue, shakespeare’s sister linked to an article about research showing no change in aggression from playing aggressive video games. The paper is Williams, Dmitri & Skoric, Marko (2005). Internet Fantasy Violence: A Test of Aggression in an Online Game. Communication Monographs, 22(2), p.217-233, available at https://netfiles.uiuc.edu/dcwill/www/CMWilliamsSkoric.pdf.

Most intriguing, though, the rest of shakespeare’s sister’s post on gaming and kick-ass girl heroes talked about lance mannion’s concerns about boys hitting girls in action media (video games, movies, comics). Sh-Sis isn’t too concerned about it, and neither am I. But I’m glad she brought it up, because often, while watching Buffy, Xena, Lara Croft, and the like, I experience a split-second cultural response to the gender: “There’s a boy hitting a girl!” Or, sometimes, “There’s two girls fighting!” I never have a gender consciousness moment like, “There’s two boys fighting!” This learned response annoys me; my own mind is colonized; I know it, but how can I turn it off?

As for boys hitting girls in video games, I’m going to throw out an aggressive opinion and see how it ages: I’m all for it. To the extent there is violence in video games, I want it to be equal opportunity violence. I don’t want female exceptionalism. In the real world, boys hit girls all the time, despite the politesses of “boys shouldn’t hit girls”. Those politesses haven’t stopped gendered violence and I have a sneaking feeling that they contribute to it. Combining two different instruction sets (“girls are special; don’t hit them” with “but it’s okay to hit otherwise”) is surely just going to lead to confusion and anger and a well-founded sense of injustice among young people of the okay-to-hit variety. A stripped down rule set (“don’t hit”) seems much less confusing & much less likely to cause gender-based anger.

tech mandates and reproductive care

I never cease to be astonished by how smarmy politicans can be: today, leaders in the Smarm Community, the anti-choice people (‘pro-lifers’). The latest RU-486 story in the NYT, sensationalistically titled “2 More Women Die After Abortion Pills”, covers two recent RU-486 deaths (two, for a total of five; four of which were probably infection-related). Naturally the pro-lifers jumped on it, using the opportunity to pontificate piously and misleadingly. Here’s “Concerned Women of America” policy director Wendy Wright:

“Sadly, people who support RU-486 apparently believe the risk of death is preferable to having a child.”

Wright’s politicized sorrow obscures the facts, some of which are included in the NYT article. It turns out that these two deaths are from infection after RU-486 abortion, and, statistically, the deathrate from infections after childbirth and abortion remains consistent across procedures and methods. [The NYT article fails to mention anything in response to this misleading quote; I would have thought that the risk of death from ‘having a child’ would have been appropriate here. The risk of long-term health problems, considerably greater for childbirth than for any method of abortion, might also have improved the article. But ranting about the NYT is a task for another day. For many other days.]

Politicized Research

The statistics are unsurprising, but in the politicized world of abortion statistics you would have difficulty verifying the data, or trying to flesh out Ms. Wright’s statement. For instance, if you googled something like ‘childbirth abortion mortality rates’, you could see that Google has been successfully bombed by a flood of political sites on the topic (largely anti-abortion). You have to get to the second page of results before you actually start seeing any material from the medical community.

A search of PubMed proved much more helpful. The scientific literature largely treats abortion, pregnancy, and birth control as part of a continuum of family planning and reproductive outcomes — what I’ll call the reproductive medicine approach. This makes sense. Research that seems tailor-made to proving somebody’s point about abortion (from whatever perspective) is just inherently less trustworthy.

The reproductive medicine approach makes clear that when the government gets involved in restricting women’s reproductive choices there are clear medical consequences: Whatever the risks of specific procedures, techniques, and reproductive outcomes, what’s really risky is lack of access to family planning and contraception. Unplanned pregnancies are, ultimately, the cause of most pregnancy & childbirth-related mortality, by leading to high-risk pregnancy, or in many countries, illegal or quasi-legal abortion. In the US, for instance, restrictions on abortion delay many women’s access to the very safe first trimester abortion, perversely leading to more late-term abortions. But the message from those who would politicize and involve the government in individual medical decisionmaking, is never about healthcare or policy, probably because the healthcare policies they would propose would be unacceptable to most people. Instead, they focus on particular technologies, techniques, and procedures — effectively establishing technological mandates and prohibitions.

Technological Mandates Are Bad Government

It’s almost never a good idea for the government to establish technological mandates. Technological developments are notoriously difficult to second-guess or steer; tech mandates all too often exemplify the law of unintended consequences [Library of Economics, WikiPedia]. Whenever Congress or state legislators try to take aim at specific technologies, they end up effecting a lot of other changes, scattershot. And any technologically specific law is bound to be out of date very quickly.

We usually think of tech mandates & prohibitions in geeky areas, like copyright: the DMCA (thou shalt not tamper with copy protection measures, etc.); DAT (digital audio tape recorder manufacturers shall include copy protection schemes); broadcast flags (thou shalt include broadcast flag recognition technology in video recorders). But the same impulses are clearly at play in the politics around abortion and birth control. And as in copyright, politicians’ attempts to mark out this or that technology, technique or method as sinful and wrong is bad policy. The politicization of this or that reproductive medicine technique (most recently emergency contraception and intact dilation and extraction, or so-called ‘partial-birth abortion’) only hampers attempts to improve reproductive medicine and outcomes for women, infants, and their families.

Abortion is only the most obvious example. Legislators do nobody any favors when they start toying with technological mandates in any field.* Look at the recent Congressional hearings on stem-cell research. Saletan in Slate tried to put a good spin on it: These guys are working really hard & exploring the issues; isn’t that nice? Yeah, that’s nice from a personal growth standpoint, but the problem is these guys are making laws about very specific techniques, and they have no clue what they’re talking about, much less doing. They don’t understand biology, they don’t understand genetics, they don’t understand development.

But Congress members do understand policy-making, and one might argue that they understand ethics. Well, err, anyway, they understand policy-making. So if Congress members feel they must Take Action, then I have a suggestion for them: Do what you know — make policy. Set out broad principles of respect for life (which includes the lives and health of women as well as the lives of their potential children) and autonomy. Fund research into family planning methods that enhance autonomy and health. Make principled statements that are general about no wanton cruelty (or whatever) in harvesting stem cells. Skip the specific tech mandates.

Then Congress could let the NSF & NIH apply those guidelines when funding specific grants. That’s what regulators & grantors are good at: reviewing specific proposals to see if they fall within general guidelines. And Congress could let the courts interpret those terms in the course of litigation. That’s what courts are good at: reviewing the facts of particular cases, heartwrenching, difficult cases, and figuring out how to apply broad principles. And Congress could stop grandstanding and micromanaging cases (like Schiavo) and technologies (anything to do with biology, family planning, and copyright protection is by definition a Bad Idea for Congress to muck with — others no doubt will occur).

follow-up: 2005/7/25: The AP version of the story also pointed out that the women who got the infection and took the drugs may not have followed FDA-approved instructions.

The agency also said the four deaths occurred among women who were treated at clinics that didn’t follow FDA-approved instructions for the two- pill regimen. Although the FDA stressed that it could not prove that the “off- label” use was to blame, its new public health advisory warns doctors of the possible link to such use.

The fifth death followed a ruptured tubal pregnancy, a dangerous condition and type of pregnancy that the drug does not terminate.

Geez. Could the NYT article have been any less informative?


* For that matter, technological mandates & prohibitions really might be considered a subspecies of micromanaging generally. The Terri Schiavo fiasco demonstrates why legislators should stay out of individual cases, and far, far out of medical decisionmaking.

filibuster

I’ve been driven into nihilistic insanity today by more filibuster news, and now I’ll break from leftist/liberal/Democrat orthodoxy. Take the “nuclear option” to a vote, already.

Apparently McCain says that Dems will allow confirmation votes on the 7 filibustered candidates blocked, so long as they can keep the filibuster. [AP by way of Salon.com Warroom]

What are the Democrats doing? This is nuts. I’ve seen the rumored numbers of “save the filibuster & the Ds will allow a vote on — judges” go from none to some to 4 and now to all 7. There is no point to having a filibuster if you don’t use it.

I like the filibuster, and think it’s a fine idea — it slows down the process which is almost always a good thing. But it’s ridiculous to keep giving up on all the substantive battles just to keep it. If the Ds cut this deal, Frist can always threaten them again with the “nuclear option”, or some variant thereof, any time the Ds threaten to actually use the filibuster in a significant way. (I note that Reid is already assuring the Republican Minions he won’t be too aggressive in using any parliamentary procedures they permit him.) Frist will certainly not back down when his Xtian Overlords are watching during the high stakes Supreme Court nomination process. Any Democratic attempts to use the filibuster or any other parliamentary moves during that process will create boatloads of pressure & publicity among the Xtian Right. (For some reason this seems to bother the Democrats as well as the Xtian Right’s Republican Minions. Yoo-hoo to Democrats! You will not lose any Xtian Right votes or dollars by sticking with the filibuster or by using it. If they’re not in the Republican camp now, they’re asleep or have some significant personal or policy reasons for not dancing with their Republican minions. And as for non-Xtian-Righters, I have yet to be convinced that mainstream America believes in or even cares about the Xtian Right’s vision for the judiciary.)

Take the “nuclear option” to a vote. What can happen?

  1. The nuclear option loses. Enough Rs break ranks because they realize that it’s a bad idea to slip the brakes on governmental processes for the sake of temporary partisan gain.
  2. Or,

  3. The nuclear option passes, and the (judicial) filibuster goes away. Short-term: This will suit Republicans and their Xtian Right Overlords just fine — for now. Without the (judicial) filibuster, the Republicans get the judges they want in lifetime appointments — including the Supreme Court, which I confess, does give me pause. Democrats will have the opportunity (although god knows they probably won’t take it) to bash the Republicans over the head with their procedural abuses. Polls show most folks don’t want the Republicans to get rid of the filibuster, and don’t trust party officials who want to loosen the brakes. With that point, and a few others, the Ds might even be able to make some progress in recovering one or more branches of US government.

    Middle- and Long-Term: Republicans will eventually lose the White House & the majority in the Senate. Democrats at that point will have the opportunity to make hay while the sun shines, claiming a mandate, and moving ahead with their judicial preferences. Republicans & their Xtian Right Overlords will rue the nuclear option & the filibuster (probably painting the filibuster as a Democratic scheme to expand government). A bit more credible in their position as “persecuted outsiders”, the Overlords / Minions will host “Justice Sunday”, a special day focused on protecting minority* rights and regaining the filibuster. [*Minority party rights, that is; certainly not the rights of actual minorities.]

    Federal Judiciary: Cynically, I suspect it won’t make a difference, because had the Democrats cut a deal to retain a filibuster, they would have just rested on their laurels, proud of their protection of a parliamentary procedure. Hey, if they wanted to, they could use the filibuster to protect us! They’re just waiting for, you know, the right moment. …

    Somewhat less cynically, I admit that I quail at the thought of the Bush Admin having a free hand to put whomever they want in. But you know what? The Rs have been pushing their authority to the limits already. Famous last words, I know, but how much further can they really go? They’ll move a bunch of judges through. Most of the Circuits are already Republican & conservative dominated, ensuring conservative majorities on most 3-judge panels and on most en banc panels. Yes, the District & Appellate Courts are breeding grounds for higher appointments, but there’s plenty of judges on both sides to provide fodder for higher appointments.

    Finally, the Supreme Court. Bush will probably succeed in finding someone more conservative than Rehnquist, but there’s not a lot of room there. And that replacement will affect very few case outcomes; Rehnquist is almost never the swing vote. Stevens, Ginsburg, and O’Connor are also all possible or likely retirements (or worse, if Pat Robertson’s prayers are answered) in the next few years. Bush would certainly appoint someone much more conservative than any one of those justices, and that’s a real loss. But the problem is, the Ds repeatedly demonstrate that they don’t effectively use parliamentary procedures as it is, and the Rs do — the latest set of offered “compromises” only demonstrates this further. So long-term, the loss of the filibuster actually hurts the Rs more than the Ds. And while the Bush Admin gets in a slew of appointments now, with very little minority say, so does the next Administration, and the next one, and the one after that, and the one after that …. The whole Supreme Court bench is going to be replaced in the next 20 years, and four out of nine justices will be replaced in the next five years at the outside.

On the other hand, if the Ds keep cutting these deals to preserve the filibuster, they win the battle but lose the war. When would the Ds feel confident & bold enough to actually use the damn thing? The Rs & their Xtian Overlords will certainly turn up the heat & the press pressure on any uses of the filibuster in the Supreme Court context. And we all know that nomination will be on the Bush Admin’s terms: a battle royale, if they choose, or a merely semi-controversial nominee in order to disarm the opposition for later battles.

So — let’s roll.(TM)


update 5/20: Over at salon.com, Tim Grieve analyzes the current state of the filibuster debate. Nothing too awfully notable, but one point just made me shake my head:

While interest groups on the left won’t be happy to see an Owen or a Rogers confirmed, they have their eyes on a bigger prize: keeping the filibuster around long enough to use it if Bush nominates a far-right judge to replace William Rehnquist on the U.S. Supreme Court.

For God’s sake. Like Bush would nominate anybody to the left of Rehnquist? The Rehnquist seat is in strongly conservative hands for the next 20 years, regardless of the filibuster.

Grieve had this interesting point to make about a Byrd / Warner proposal to bring back “advise” into the mix:

With their proposed language, Byrd and Warner seem to have added an additional prong to the proposal — a focus not just on how the Senate treats the judges Bush nominates but on the way Bush chooses those nominees in the first place. Democrats contend that Bush has ignored the “advise” part of the clause of the Constitution that allows the president to appoint judges with the “advise and consent” of the Senate. Saying that he wanted the Senate involved in both the “takeoff and the landing” of judicial nominees, Byrd hinted that the Byrd-Warner language would suggest that the Senate Judiciary Committee create panels of academics and sitting judges that would identify “pools” of mainstream judicial nominees from which the president could choose. The proposal wouldn’t require the president to pick from those pre-selected nominees, Byrd said, but he’d have an easier time getting his judges confirmed if he did.

“Advise” has gotten short shrift, but it’s a pretty namby-pamby Senatorial role anyway. But “‘pools’ of mainstream judicial nominees” isn’t going to increase the quality of the nominees. If we wanted a “mainstream” judiciary then we should just program a computer to dispense justice, a la John Varley‘s “Eight Worlds” Universe. (See, e.g., The Golden Globe.)

Farhad Manjoo is more on the same page with me, looking beyond the current kerfuffle to a more free-wheeling judicial confirmation process.

ip/tech news & really stupid & annoying republicans

  • wiretaps increased last year: Wiretaps in U.S. Jump 19 Percent in 2004 [sfgate 4/28] i’m pondering whether the wiretappers’ efficiency also increased? can they scan information more quickly now? did governments take cops off the streets to put them in surveillance vans? or did the governments hire a bunch of new wiretappers? hmm, all sorts of interesting new questions. SFGate says the investigators pursued “drug and other cases.” Where are the much-vaunted terrorists against whom the PATRIOT Act wiretap expansions were supposed to be used? The non-terrorist taps increased 28%, which means the terrorist-related taps increased, well, very approximately, by 10%? One final editorial comment: These are actual wiretaps. Approved by the courts. Nobody bothers to cite the numbers of wiretaps denied by the courts. Why? Because courts always, always say yes. Thank god for that impartial third branch protecting us from the tyranny of the executive.
  • european libraries kick-start their own digitization campaigns. [DW 2005/4/27] Excellent. How many years has it been since Michael Hart started project gutenberg? followed by numerous small-scale digitizing projects at individual libraries & museums? I guess PG didn’t quite pose sufficient “risk of a crushing American domination in the definition of how future generations conceive the world.” Well, if it took google to kick-start the digitization of the world, I can only say hurrah, what took you all so long?
  • the criminalization of copyright continues apace. [sigh]
  • what was DeLay’s beef with Kennedy doing his own research on the Internet, anyway? doesn’t DeLay have enough to keep him busy? DeLay is really trying hard to compete for the title Chief Dumbass.

    “Absolutely. We’ve got Justice Kennedy writing decisions based upon international law, not the Constitution of the United States? That’s just outrageous,” DeLay told Fox News Radio. “And not only that, but he said in session that he does his own research on the Internet? That is just incredibly outrageous.”

    seattle times 4/20 linked from politechbot.

  • also in the running for Chief Dumbass, Sen. Rick Santorum. In this episode, however, Santorum isn’t so much a Dumbass as he is, well, really annoying. Santorum complains that the National Weather Service is giving away its data for free, and introduces a bill to stop that dastardly practice. I guess under his model we could write scripts that generate FOIA requests for weather data. Or does he think the data should be classified? Or maybe the government shouldn’t be gathering it at all? That must be it, because then we wouldn’t have to track that pesky global climate change. It really reminds me of the old Census story: One citizen responded to on their Census form, “You can find all this in your almanac, and then you wouldn’t have to take the Census.” Anyway … the folks at the carpetbagger report explain the donations & big business constituents behind this bit of annoying arrogance & stupidity. Why are Pennsylvanians tolerating this fool?

peculiar dress habits of old white men

Old white men meeting to discuss US intelligence “failures” on Iraq weapons — notice the uniformity of dark suits? Ah, but look at the rainbow of ties! Peeking out beneath the boring suits are a springtime explosion of color, patterns — perhaps even delirious textures. These men crave to express their individuality but are bound by convention, and, perhaps, a fear of their own exuberant natures. But they can’t resist the call of fashion forever — look, some of them have begun to don modest little brooches, hoping the small size will render them unnoticed but unable to resist the lure of jewelry. We can’t see their socks or boxers — indeed I’m happy not to — but I wouldn’t be surprised if there were some silk or fun colors there. What these boys need is liberation — a gay liberation!

Now look at these old white men meeting to discuss, well, gay liberation. Again, virtually all in somber hues. But their inner fashionista peeks out through their shiny gold brocade, frankly gaudy jewelry, and funny hats — one even in pink! Personally, I think these boys would do better to look to their own selves instead of plucking motes out of the eyes of their local glbt community. Some of these boys are definitely wearing dresses, which is covered by Deut. 22:5, “A woman shall not wear anything that pertains to a man, nor shall a man put on a woman’s garment; for whoever does these things is an abomination to the LORD your God.” I hope they’re watching out for those blended fabrics, too — those’ll get you in trouble.[1] [Bible, Revised Standard, from the University of Virginia Library, Electronic Text Center])

photo credits: bottom, European Pressphoto Agency, published in NYT 3/31, Laurie Goodstein and Greg Myre, “Clerics Fighting a Gay Festival for Jerusalem” [caption: “Religious leaders met on Wednesday in Jerusalem in a united protest against a gay pride festival planned there in August. From left: Sheik Abed es- Salem Menasra, deputy mufti of Jerusalem; the Rev. Michel Sabbagh, the Latin patriarch; the Rev. Aris Shirvanian, the Armenian patriarch; Rabbi Shlomo Amar, the Sephardic chief rabbi; and Rabbi Yona Metzger, the Ashkenazi chief rabbi. The man at right was not identified.”]

top, Brendan Smialowsky/Agence France-Press — Getty Images, published in NYT 3/31, David Stout, “Report Calls U.S. Intelligence ‘Dead Wrong’ on Iraq Weapons” [caption: “At a meeting this morning, President Bush was flanked by the men who led the commission. To his left was Charles S. Robb; to his right was Laurence H. Silberman.”]


1. I’ve been reminded that some folks do observe the traditional injunctions against various mixed fabrics. Them, I’ll cut some slack (no pun intended) for being consistent, although, of course, still reserving the right to critique their behavior (and fashion sense) as I please on other grounds. But I truly don’t ever want to hear another self-proclaimed Biblical literalist / conservative quoting anti-man-lying-with-another-man scripture unless they cut out the blended fabrics, drop dollars in favor of shekels, and go back and figure out what it would mean to actually consistently follow Deut., Leviticus, etc. — LQ 4/28

doubletake: did he say that?

And the Republican abandonment of ‘federalism’ continues:

Senator Tom Coburn, a newly elected conservative Republican from Oklahoma, said: “This isn’t a states’ rights issue. What we’re saying is they are going to review it. The states are not given the right to take away somebody’s constitutional rights.”

[House majority leader Tom Delay]: “The conservative doctrine here is the Constitution of the United States.”

These and many other astonishing quotes are courtesy of the Terri Schiavo case — the latest mad rush by Republicans to abandon their much-vaunted dedication to federalism and states’ rights. [Chronicled here by the Adam Nagourney of the NYT [2005/3/25].] As predicted, Republicans like pretty much everyone else happily use the power they’ve got — full-on federal government power.

we don’t need 2 republican parties (or even one)

Salon.com WarRoom did a good job of excerpting from Ted Kennedy’s speech @ the National Press Club [kennedy website transcript], so I’ll just take their excerpt:

I categorically reject the deceptive and dangerous claim that the outcome last November was somehow a sweeping, or a modest, or even a miniature mandate for reactionary measures like privatizing Social Security, redistributing the tax burden in the wrong direction, or packing the federal courts with reactionary judges. Those proposals were barely mentioned — or voted on — in an election dominated by memories of 9/11, fear of terrorism, the quagmire in Iraq, and relentlessly negative attacks on our Presidential candidate.

In an election so close, defeat has a thousand causes — and it is too easy to blame it on particular issues or tactics, or on the larger debate about values. In truth, we do not shrink from that debate.

There’s no doubt we must do a better job of looking within ourselves and speaking out for the principles we believe in, and for the values that are the foundation of our actions. Americans need to hear more, not less, about those values. We were remiss in not talking more directly about them – about the fundamental ideals that guide our progressive policies. In the words of Martin Luther King, “we must accept finite disappointment, but we must never lose infinite hope.”

Unlike the Republican Party, we believe our values unite us as Americans, instead of dividing us. If the White House’s idea of bipartisanship is that we have to buy whatever partisan ideas they send us, we’re not interested.

In fact, our values are still our greatest strength. Despite resistance, setbacks, and periods of backlash over the years, our values have moved us closer to the ideal with which America began — that all people are created equal. And when Democrats say “all,” we mean “all.”

We have an Administration that falsely hypes almost every issue as a crisis. They did it on Iraq, and they are doing it now on Social Security. They exploit the politics of fear and division, while ours is a politics of hope and unity.

In the face of their tactics, we cannot move our party or our nation forward under pale colors and timid voices. We cannot become Republican clones. If we do, we will lose again, and deserve to lose. As I have said on other occasions, the last thing this country needs is two Republican parties.

le guin was for kerry

altercation / 2004-08-17

Name: Brian Thomas
Hometown: Portland, Oregon

Eric,
I’ve been out on the streets of Portland, Oregon five days of every week registering progressive voters.

Today I met up with Portland’s most famous author and anarchist, Ursula K. LeGuin (The Dispossessed, The Left-Hand of Darkness, The Earth-Sea Trilogy, etc.) while she was buying movie tickets at our Fox Towers theatre complex.  I asked her the same question I’ve asked
thousands of our citizens:

“Do you want George Bush out of the White House?”

Ms. LeGuin flipped her purse around to reveal a Kerry/Edwards button.

“Wow, I’m thrilled to see an anarchist wearing a Kerry button.  All my best anarchist friends are voting for Kerry, but they’re not ready to wear buttons.”  And then Ursula smiled broadly as she became the first person I have ever heard utter these words:

“Anybody but Nader.”

Now, let’s get to the real point of this letter.  Whether you like it or not, some of these just mentioned Portland anarchists and assorted other activists (including this liberal) are coming to your town next week.  Don’t believe the lies you hear on Fox News.

Although we will not be looking for trouble, we will be looking for Central Park.  Here in Portland, Oregon when we have grievances to redress we gather in our central town square or in one of the central parks that run through our city as Central Park runs through New York City.  Our concerns about war becoming a first choice, not a last resort are central to what we are as a people and so we meet in the center of our city as we will be meeting in the center of yours.  Last Friday, in Portland’s Waterfront Park, 50,000 of us met to hear John Kerry.  Only a few score of policemen were on hand to direct traffic and keep the park from overflowing with people.  Another world is possible.

Your colleague at THE NATION, Naomi Klein’s article “Ditch the Distraction in Chief” was a big hit with my friends.  However, we missed your buddies Todd Gitlin and John Passacantado’s words of wisdom for us protesters as they appeared in the subscribers only portion of THE NATION.  Any words of wisdom or tips on cheap places to eat you wish to send my way will be shared with all the anarchists from Portland who will soon be descending on your city.

Thanks,

looming challenges to federalism

i’ll be interested to see how the conservative, pro-federalism, pro-states’ rights, GOP-run government (and the conservative intelligentsia which carries their theoretical water) handles some of the upcoming challenges to federalism:

  • medical marijuana laws
  • state & regional initiatives on global warming: for instance, California’s mandatory cap on greenhouse-gas emissions will have to be signed off on by the EPA before it goes into effect

separation of powers? checks & balances?

Walter Dellinger, “Why Americans Hate Democrats — A Dialogue: Maybe It’s Not As Bad As We Think”, Slate, 2004-11-05:

[T]here seems to be a flaw in how our governing system is working that is turning narrow victories into unearned dominance. By (at best) narrowly prevailing in two elections in which the nation was split down the middle, one party, with the support of barely half the electorate, is in position to control everything—House, Senate, presidency, Supreme Court and lower-court appointments, everything.

The purpose of separation of powers is not being fulfilled. The branches were designed as a check on each other. But the institutional divisions between legislative bodies and the executive, or between the House and Senate, are no longer salient. The ideological purification of our parties—a relatively new and unfortunate development—may have created an identity of partisan interest so strong that separate branches, when controlled by the same party, provide no check at all. Due in part to greatly enhanced partisanship, loyalty to the Senate or House as an institution is being replaced for legislators of the president’s party with loyalty to the president. The Framers thought they had produced a system that would ensure that a faction supported by a bare 51 percent of the people could not make the other party its dog. It’s not working.

Interesting. What do our elected “representatives” with their “constitutional duties” have to say? Let’s hear from Sen. Rick Santorum [freep, 11/04]:

Senate Republicans are committed to approving all of the President’s judicial nominations…

more election wisdom

Continue reading

post election thoughts, rants, assorted impressions

  • Overwhelming emotion on Wednesday: I’m hurt that so many americans don’t have a problem with TORTURE and 100,000 DEAD PEOPLE in iraq and incompetence and graft and destruction of the environment.

  • Make that disappointed and ashamed and embarrassed and angry.

  • I’m not surprised that the anti-marriage propositions won in every state. I’m just surprised by how personally I took it with each defeat. I felt personally assaulted every time I saw those numbers.

  • Unfortunately, it’s clear that it wasn’t just a one-off Bush thing (really, how could it have been), but a Republican thing: those jerks won offices high and low across the country. So what’s depressing is not that Bush won (well, that is depressing, too), what’s depressing is that people voted for him, and for others like him down the ticket. It reflects something real & unifying to the people who voted for the Republican campaigns.

  • Wednesday I was too upset to talk to people (like my sister JM) who would be sympathetic but wouldn’t get it and probably voted for Bush. And I was too upset to listen to the bullshit barely-concealed-gloating reconciliation let’s-all-be-friends-now speeches from the Republicans. Thursday I started pulling myself together and getting a little more coherent and I figured some shit out.

  • “reconciliation” means suck it up & concede defeat & hide your values & shut up. fuck that.

  • “morals issues”? killing 100,000 iraqis in an illegitimate war isn’t a “moral issue”? torture isn’t a moral issue? unfucking believable. social justice is a moral issue. peace is a moral value.

Continue reading

thomas doesn’t always mind judicial “intervention”

By JOHN HANNA Associated Press Writer

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) – U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas said Thursday he would prefer not to face another election-related lawsuit, but defended the high court’s decision to get involved in the contentious dispute over the 2000 presidential vote in Florida.

“What are you supposed to do when somebody brings a lawsuit?” Thomas asked University of Kansas law students. “You hear people say the Supreme Court jumped into the last election. I find it very ironic that the very people saying judges are interfering are bringing lawsuits.”

“What do you think? Donald Duck is going to decide it?”

When asked about the prospect of more litigation over the 2004 vote, Thomas said, “I would prefer not to have to decide it, but that joins a long list of things,” adding: “It’s my job.”

Justice Thomas Hopes for Smooth Election

People who say judges are interfering are really trying to say that judges are making illegitimate decisions and stepping beyond their authority. This is a critique that Thomas & his ilk make quite often when talking about decisions they don’t like. But apparently “it’s their job” when it comes to making a decision, like Bush v. Gore, that they like to make.

Too bad folks like Thomas and the Bush administration have politicized this critique to such an extent. It is now basically useless to say that a judge overstepped his (usually) or her authority — that just means you don’t like the decision. Used to be you could use it to say that the judge’s decision was not supported by the law.

i’m angry

Voters Complain About Misleading Calls

Mon Nov 1, 6:03 PM ET

By KATHY BARKS HOFFMAN, Associated Press Writer

LANSING, Mich. – Some Michigan voters have received phone calls falsely claiming that Sen. John Kerry (news – web sites) would make gay marriage legal. In New Jersey, some voters have heard a man claiming to be former Army Gen. Norman Schwarzkopf backing the Democrat.

Republicans and Democrats were furious Monday about the blatantly false, 11th-hour political calls to voters and demanded an end to the messages.

Schwarzkopf has endorsed Bush, but in a recording of a phone call played for The Associated Press, a man identifying himself as the Persian Gulf War (news – web sites) general says, “In 2000, I voted for George W. Bush, but this year I’m voting for John Kerry. … John Kerry has a real plan to make our military stronger and to go after terrorists wherever they hide. We need a vote for change, vote for John Kerry.”

A voice says the message was paid for by the Democratic National Committee (news – web sites).

In a statement from the Bush campaign, Schwarzkopf said the DNC was making fraudulent phone calls claiming that he had endorsed Kerry, and “nothing could be further from the truth, and I demand that they stop immediately.

The DNC had no immediate reaction.

In Michigan, in a recording of a call played for the AP, a young woman says: “When you vote this Tuesday remember to legalize gay marriage by supporting John Kerry. We need John Kerry in order to make gay marriage legal for our city. Gay marriage is a right we all want. It’s a basic Democrat principle. It’s time to move forward and be progressive. Without John Kerry, George Bush (news – web sites) will stop gay marriage. That’s why we need Kerry. So Tuesday, stand up for gay marriage by supporting John Kerry.”

Both Kerry and his running mate, Sen. John Edwards (news – web sites) of North Carolina, oppose gay marriage and say marriage should be limited to a man and a woman. Kerry has said he supports civil unions.

The calls began Sunday afternoon, according to Rodell Mollineau, spokesman for Kerry’s Michigan campaign. The campaign said voters in Detroit, Grand Rapids, Flint and Pontiac received calls.

“We’re shocked and pretty much appalled that Republicans would sink to this in the last 48 hours of the campaign,” Mollineau said.

Michigan Republican Party executive director Greg McNeilly said recorded phone calls have been made by former Michigan football coach Bo Schembechler and by President Bush (news – web sites) to Michigan voters, but he didn’t know anything about the calls described by the Kerry campaign.

GOP officials, meanwhile, have been getting reports of phone calls being made by a person who says he’s representing the Bush campaign, and then unlooses a string of swear words. Another phone call is said to tell voters they’ve been drafted for military service because Bush needs them for the war in Iraq (news – web sites).

“There are so many reports of phone calls going on right now that appear to be untoward,” McNeilly said.

Associated Press Writer Donna De La Cruz in Trenton, N.J., contributed to this report.

Yahoo! News – Voters Complain About Misleading Calls

Okay, i hate all these attempts to suppress the vote, but only one of them attempts to play on bigotry. Call me gay, but i am personally most offended by the “support Kerry to support gay marriage” call.

And another thing. Folks who compare different levels of rumors and try to say X is just as bad as Y. That pisses me off. It’s simply not correct, for instance, to suggest that “Bush will institute a draft” is the same thing as “Kerry supports gay marriage.” The equivalence is wrong in one important, objective way — it compares a political position to the likelihood of an event.

And it’s wrong in a couple of other equally important but somewhat more subjective ways:

(1) Actual likelihood of event occurring. In other words, even if we consider both statements to be about the candidates’ likelihood of doing something (Kerry will legalize gay marriage, or Bush will institute a draft), I think there is no chance in hell that Kerry will legalize gay marriage. (Alas.) But I think it possible that the Bush administration will push for a draft at some point.

Kerry is not going to have any significant lobby for legalizing gay marriage, and it’s not even clear what that would mean. He certainly could not pass a law or a constitutional amendment requiring states to perform same-sex marriages. It is doubtful he could get DOMA repealed or even revised. So what, exactly, could Kerry do on this front even if he were so inclined? Maybe get some federal recognition of same-sex unions or partnerships — but not “marriage”, which DOMA defines as between a man and a woman, and DOMA is going nowhere.

On the draft argument, by contrast, the mathematics of the situation in Iraq suggest that a draft would be helpful to the military effort. The Bush administration hasn’t exactly wanted to do the war “right”, so it’s quite likely they wouldn’t do a draft. On the other hand, it might turn out that they want a success, and would institute a draft. They’ve already been figuring out how to draft medical personnel in the advent of a national emergency, for instance. So, a draft is perhaps not likely, but certainly not inconceivable.

In this analysis, neither Bush’s nor Kerry’s statements of their intents count — we write those off as mere political BS. But if you want to tip the balance a little further, I think that Ohio state rep. Tim Ryan said it well: why on earth should we trust the Bush administration which has repeatedly lied to us about their intentions and about the state of affairs in the “war on terror”?

(2) Moral equivalency. Once again I protest the suggestion that it is morally equivalent to play on people’s fears of a draft, and to play on their hatred, fear, disgust of queers. I simply cannot take seriously people who think that these are on the same level. Only in the most abstract sense are these equivalent: both are policy questions with significant impacts on people’s lives. In that sense the draft is the more serious charge — a draft would force people into the military where they might die or be maimed or forced to kill. Playing on the fear of the draft plays on the fear of death — love of self and love of life. A big deal, no question.

But playing on the fear of same-sex marriage plays on hatred and disgust for other people. It’s negative in the deepest sense. It attempts to make issues where there are none (because same-sex marriage is simply not going to happen nationally) and it attempts to do so on the backs of — well, me, and my same-sex partner. I take that kinda personal. You find me a whole crowd of someones who are personally the subjects of the draft threat. And then maybe I’ll consider whether these are moral equivalents.