15 November, 2008

Happy Hour Discurso

Today's opining on the public discourse.

It's back! It's back! This Week In God is back! Huzzah!

Ahem. Sorry. That was just one of my absolute favorite features on The Carpetbagger Report, and I was sad indeed when Steve Benen moved to the Washington Monthly and "This Week In God" fell by the wayside. I was afraid the Monthly had shut it down, but my fears have proved gloriously unfounded:
At my old site, I did a weekly item called "This Week in God" -- yes, I blatantly stole borrowed the name from "The Daily Show" -- highlighting some of the news from the world of religion, most notably instances in which faith intersected with politics and/or public policy. TWIG was on hiatus during the height of the election season, but this week, it makes its return.
Happiness! Saturdays are awesome again!

Of course, with good news comes bad... now that things have settled down post-election, political news has gone back to its usual weekend trickle. Discurso may get a bit thin, then, but I shall do me best. I found at least a few good nuggets.

Prop 8 is getting a thorough public airing today:
LGBT rights advocates, organized by Join the Impact, turned out in eight countries, 50 states, and 300 cities today in support of marriage equality, with thousands gathering across California to specifically protest the recent passage of Prop. 8. Signs read “Are you better off now that I can’t marry?” and “The same Bible was used to justify slavery,” referencing the ban’s heavy support from the Mormon church.
This is an excellent turnout, and it serves an important function: it ensures bigotry isn't allowed to fester quietly, out of the public eye. A lot of the votes for Prop 8 came from people who weren't aware of just what it was they were voting for. They don't realize what marriage rights mean to people different from themselves, they aren't educated on the issues, and they're lack of awareness makes them vulnerable to ad campaigns that use lies, exaggerations, and cheap emotional and religious appeals. If gays and their supporters had just quietly accepted the voting away of their civil rights, none of those people would've been the wiser. Now, there's a good chance they'll understand they've been snookered (h/t):

As proponents of same-sex marriage across the country planned protests on Saturday against the ban, interviews with the main forces behind the ballot measure showed how close its backers believe it came to defeat — and the extraordinary role Mormons played in helping to pass it with money, institutional support and dedicated volunteers.


Jeff Flint, another strategist with Protect Marriage, estimated that Mormons made up 80 percent to 90 percent of the early volunteers who walked door-to-door in election precincts.

The canvass work could be exacting and highly detailed. Many Mormon wards in California, not unlike Roman Catholic parishes, were assigned two ZIP codes to cover. Volunteers in one ward, according to training documents written by a Protect Marriage volunteer, obtained by people opposed to Proposition 8 and shown to The New York Times, had tasks ranging from “walkers,” assigned to knock on doors; to “sellers,” who would work with undecided voters later on; and to “closers,” who would get people to the polls on Election Day.

Suggested talking points were equally precise. If initial contact indicated a prospective voter believed God created marriage, the church volunteers were instructed to emphasize that Proposition 8 would restore the definition of marriage God intended.

But if a voter indicated human beings created marriage, Script B would roll instead, emphasizing that Proposition 8 was about marriage, not about attacking gay people, and about restoring into law an earlier ban struck down by the State Supreme Court in May.


But the “Yes” side also initially faced apathy from middle-of-the-road California voters who were largely unconcerned about same-sex marriage. The overall sense of the voters in the beginning of the campaign, Mr. Schubert said, was “Who cares? I’m not gay.”

To counter that, advertisements for the “Yes” campaign also used hypothetical consequences of same-sex marriage, painting the specter of churches’ losing tax exempt status or people “sued for personal beliefs” or objections to same-sex marriage, claims that were made with little explanation.

Another of the advertisements used video of an elementary school field trip to a teacher’s same-sex wedding in San Francisco to reinforce the idea that same-sex marriage would be taught to young children.

This was a corporate con job start to finish, run by churches whose irrational animus towards gays dictated that this issue, above all others, was they one they must put their hearts and souls in to. They believe that gay marriage is so intrinsically evil that it's perfectly okay to lie in order to defeat it. I have just one thing to say to them: you reap what you sow.

Also in the reaping what you sow category, looks like the Cons are angling to set them up as a regional party of hatred, intolerance and lack-of-ideas:

Well, now that the Republican governors have snubbed Sarah Palin when selecting their leadership group in Miami, it's semi-official that the bloom has slightly faded from Palin's rose -- and not a moment too soon.

Which means the GOP is going to start looking a little more seriously for leadership in the coming four years to help lift it out of the miasma in which it is now deservedly enveloped.

But look at that list:

South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford was voted RGA chairman, taking over the top job from Texas Gov. Rick Perry who will now serve as finance chairman. Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour is vice-chairman, while Florida Gov. Charlie Crist will serve as chair for the annual RGA gala, and Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue will head up the recruitment effort.

Well, as much as the South's political power was diminished in the last election, it's pretty plain that the GOP for the foreseeable future is the Party of the South.

Out of this group, Barbour's name is perhaps the one we've heard most frequently on the tips of right-wing talking-head tongues. But Barbour has quite the checkered history: He's notorious for ardently promoting the Confederate flag and consorting with the white-supremacist Council of Conservative Citizens -- and he does so unapologetically.

So if Barbour does emerge a serious party leader, it will mean the GOP has thoroughly embraced its Cro-Magnon, neo-Confederate wing, and the dog-whistle rabble-rousing we saw from McCain and Palin in 2008 will look positively civil in comparison.

So they boot Palin in favor of people with less word salad but more overt racist tendencies. Charming. I'm sure we can all expect them to come roaring back in 2010 - full of sound and fury, signifying nothing. How can they signify anything when they can't even read a fucking poll?

Wingnuts are funny.

As to who, if anybody, will replace the current Republican National Committee chair Mike Duncan, Republicans are split, though Michael Steele is being mentioned a great deal.

Steele, an African-American, is a former lieutenant governor of Maryland and currently the chairman of GOPAC, which trains Republican candidates (and was once chaired by Gingrich).

While Republicans are still maneuvering — the election of the next chairman will be by the 168 RNC members and won’t take place until January — Steele already has a band of admirers [...]

Sundheim said of Michael Steele: "He understands where the party needs to go, he has got a strong set of principles, he is well able to articulate a message in all the media forms, and can take that message to the growing areas of the country — youth and minorities — and he does very well with women. He is the future of the party."

Reality, from the 2006 exit poll of the Maryland Senate race:

Vote by Gender, Female:

Cardin (D) 60
Steele (R) 39

Vote by Race, African American: (and remember, Steele is black)

Cardin (D) 74
Steele (R) 25

Vote by Age, 18-29:

Cardin (D) 57
Steele (R) 39

So if by "doing very well" with women, minorities and age means losing to all three groups by at least a 3-2 margin, then yes, I guess he does "very well".

Keep it up, Cons. It'll be nice to have not merely sizable but overwhelming majorities in the House and Senate come the end of election season 2010.

And the delusion goes on as the knives come out and McCain is sized up as the scapegoat:

As Republicans continue to search for answers to explain what happened in this year's elections, South Carolina Sen. Jim DeMint (R) stepped up to become the first high-profile Republican official to blame John McCain for his defeat.

That, in and of itself, is not a bad idea, but DeMint's reasoning was all wrong.

"McCain, who is proponent of campaign finance reform that weakened party organizations and basically put George Soros in the driver's seat," DeMint said. "His proposal for amnesty for illegals. His support of global warming, cap-and-trade programs that will put another burden on our economy. And of course, his embrace of the bailout right before the election was probably the nail in our coffin this last election. And he has been an opponent of drilling in ANWR, at a time when energy is so important. It really didn't fit the label, but he was our package." [...]

"Americans do prefer a traditional conservative government," he said. "They just did not believe Republicans were going to give it to them."


I'm curious, how many voters does DeMint think wanted to vote for McCain/Palin but decided, "He's just not right-wing enough"? Indeed, on most, if not all, of the issues DeMint mentioned, it's Democrats who are part of the mainstream, not the GOP.

Meanwhile, as the Cons lock and load for their circular firing squad, the adults gear up to take charge. Obama's transition team announces some key White House appointments:

The Obama transition office officially announced this morning some key appointments, two of which had been widely reported: Valerie Jarrett will be a White House senior adviser, assistant to the president for intergovernmental relations, and public liaison; Ron Klain will be chief of staff to the vice president; and former Congressional aide Phil Schiliro will be assistant to the president for legislative affairs.

I've not been paying particularly close attention to the rumors flying, but I'd caught enough of the scuttlebutt to know that Valerie Jarrett, at least, knows her shit. I trust the other two are acceptable, or the howling would have put my ears out today.

But the real buzz has been the talk of Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State. You've all probably heard more speculation than you care to about the whys, wherefores, and would-shes, but Emptywheel has an angle no one seems to have considered:

But what strikes me is that, if Obama really has made the offer to Clinton, he may have in mind not just the obvious skills (and potential detriments) that Hillary Clinton could bring to the job, but also making a bold play for mid-east peace and specifically the Israeli/Palestinian component of it.

George Bush has never paid more than lip service to honest brokerage of real peace and rapprochement between Israel and the Palestinians. Even the supposedly vaunted "Roadmap" was nothing but rhetorical roadkill on delivery, and his efforts have gone downhill since then. Condi Rice has been useless at best on the issue, and Dick Cheney, well, enough said there.

But Bill Clinton came as close as anybody in recent memory, actually decades, to actually getting a deal done. Bill Clinton was actively engaged in trying to foster a "final settlement" to the I/P problem his entire presidency, but took a crippling hit when Yitzhak Rabin was assassinated. The initial promise of the Oslo Accords went unfulfilled, and the final settlement that had been contemplated, unrealized. President Clinton made one last push for the elusive "final settlement" right before leaving office with the Camp David Summit.

For a variety of reasons, most notably the last second reticence, after initial acquiescence, of Yassar Arafat if reports are to be believed, Camp David went to dust. Perhaps sand. The key here is that, to both sides of the equation, Clinton was seen as an "honest broker". The simple logistical fact is that there will be no I/P peace without the sincere and active participation by the United States Government via its Executive.

If Barack Obama is indeed going to make an early and strong play on the I/P issue, it is hard to imagine who could bring more cache and weight to the attempt than Hillary Clinton. And make no mistake about it, if Obama wants to truly make his "change" global, there is no bigger key than the Palestinian problem. So much really is predicated on it and flows from it. Want to really change the world? Man, is that the prime festering sore to start with. If there is any line of dominoes, that is the initiator.

Holy fucking shit, Batman. If that's really the rationale behind this, Change.gov isn't just going to be a catchy name for Obama's transition website. It'll be a succinct description of what he's done to the world.

There will be just one way to describe Cons in this new world: "increasingly irrelevant."


Woozle said...

The good side of political news going down to a trickle is that now maybe our forward-pushing efforts can result in some actual forward motion, rather than just slowing down the slide back to the middle ages.

It seems to me that one of the most important things -- perhaps the most important thing -- we need to do in the next 4 years, if we're not going to be looking at Sarah-Palin-or-equivalent in 2012, is push back against the bullshit that's been stirred up to the surface in the last 8 years.

In more general terms, America needs to be educated.

Let's start with...
* Gay marriage and gay rights are non-negotiable. There are no good arguments against homosexuality. Those who try to restrict marriage to hetero couples only are committing a war on the family whilst hypocritically claiming they are the defenders. Non-hetero people are citizens too, and will fight for their inalienable right to the "pursuit of happiness" at least as hard as the pseudo-moralists try to destroy it.
* Abstinence-based education causes increased abortion rates. You can't be anti-abortion and favor abstinence-only education (a euphemism for "sexual ignorance").
* A fetus is not more important than a grown human. Quality is at least as important as quantity.
* Do I even need to say anything about creationism?
* The US was not bloody well founded as a Christian nation. A lot of Christians came over here before it was a nation, and consequently many of the original colonies had a religious component to their governments, but the US itself is (and was intended to be) a secular government.
* It's insane to seriously believe that the Bible should be taken literally. (Or any dogma, for that matter.) Truth comes from observed reality, not from ancient scrolls and mythology.

My goal is not to say to everyone "You must believe this or else!" but rather to say "This is what is rational and sensible, and here is why. Disagree if you must, but don't claim to be talking sense -- unless you have an argument we haven't heard before, and we've heard an awful lot of really bad arguments. You should know all of those arguments, and why they're wrong, before thinking that your disagreement might be valid."

And that's today's report from Tangents-R-Us...

Weemaryanne said...

Re Hilary:

I'd be useless in politics as I'm neither a subtle nor a strategic thinker. I was under the impression that the talk of Hilary for SoS was merely another case of the Prez-Elect being a shrewd politician, keeping his deadliest enemy close enough to emasculate her (so to speak).

But if he actually expects her to get results -- and if he's right about her capacity to get results -- with this dreadful problem, then the man is a fracken genius and me hat's off to him permanently.