November 30, 2004

What Does a Falling Dollar Mean?

Pain! Pain and suffering!

No, probably not that... I am not an economist, and I do not pretend to have a great understanding of the larger implications of a falling dollar, but fortunately, Kirkrrt does have a good grasp of economics and reads people with an even better understanding.

Jude Wanniski gives us a spirited rebuttal to Stephen S. Roach's New York Times Op-Ed When Weakness is Strength. Roach is the chief economist for Morgan Stanley, Wanniski is an economist, journalist, author of The Way the World Works, and the man who coined the term "Supply-Side Economics".

The general gist of Wanniski's commentary is that the dollar is weakening in purchasing power relative to most other currencies as evidenced by rising gold-to-dollar prices but stable, for instance, gold-to-euro prices. Wanniski says that at this rate, US workers will demand higher wages in as little as six months and that there is absolutely no reason to believe that devaluing the dollar will improve our trade imbalance: "In other words, if it takes 5 bottles of U.S. wine to trade for 10 loaves of Japanese bread, we will somehow be better off if we persuade our trading partner to take 7 bottles and only send us 8 loaves. What a deal!!"

Unfortunately, it appears to be as Wanniski says: "When it comes to money, weakness is weakness."

Posted by shamanic at 8:51 PM

Conservatives Submit to Islam

Note to the "wandering in the wilderness" left: The right wing has gone totally batshit and is busy at this very moment supplying us with enough ammunition to blow them out of the water.

For instance, Charles Colson and Anne Morse give a stirring defense of Islamic Fundamentalism in the current issue of Christianity Today.

We must be careful not to blame innocent Americans for murderous attacks against them. At the same time, let's acknowledge that America's increasing decadence is giving aid and comfort to the enemy. When we tolerate trash on television, permit pornography to invade our homes via the internet, and allow babies to be killed at the point of birth, we are inflaming radical Islam.

Radical Islamists were surely watching in July when the Senate voted on procedural grounds to do away with the Federal Marriage Amendment. This is like handing moral weapons of mass destruction to those who use America's decadence to recruit more snipers and hijackers and suicide bombers.

Note to the Democratic Party: can we please start getting some of these quotes out there? These people have surrendered in the war against radical Islam. They’re essentially saying that it's an understandable reaction for people of faith to go around killing Americans.

When we don’t stone women to death as a natural consequence of, say, being raped, we’re also inflaming radical Islam. Must we become what we are fighting against?

Can there be such a thing as a "moral weapon of mass destruction"?

Preserving traditional marriage in order to protect children is a crucially important goal by itself. But it's also about protecting the United States from those who would use our depravity to destroy us. We must not give up simply because the Senate voted down the FMA. It took William Wilberforce and his allies 20 years to shut down Britain's slave trade; it will take years to win the battle for traditional marriage.
This is a wonderful argument for becoming as repressive as Iran. And then the authors present us with a comparison, which I've seen elsewhere, equating gay marriage with slavery. Huh? And what does preserving traditional marriage protect children from? I’ve known far too many victims of incest to believe that heterosexuals can be trusted with children any more readily than homosexuals.

American conservatives want you to consider the opinions of a culture that continues to marry 12-year-old girls to old men, that covers its wives in full-body tents and beats them for a stray hair or ankle showing, that refuses to let women drive or be in the company of an unrelated male, even in public. Colson and Morse think that America needs to be taking dating advice from a culture that proudly and aggressively maintains stone age social mores.

This makes reversing U.S. decadence an urgent priority, not just for Christians, but for all Americans. If our cultural rot continues unabated, a Talibanized West may no longer be a joke, but grim reality.
This is your right wing, America: to defeat radical Islam, we must emulate it. To defeat those who behead homosexuals in distant lands, we must persecute homosexuals in our own land. To ward off those who hate our freedoms, we must relinquish our freedoms to a cadre of unelected religious leaders. To buy our safety, we must submit.

How do we defend America when the Taliban live among us and can be published in major journals?

The underlying message to this piece, and another by Pat Buchanan, is that radical Islamists are connected enough to the cleansing fire of God to show us in the west the way to absolution. Yes, they're ruthless murderers, the authors say, but they've got the spirit of God driving them.

I blogged about this very view on the left last week. The left shares the notion of Islam as a wonderful and rigorous spiritual philosophy. I've studied numerous faiths and philosophies, and the truth is that all, properly applied, are enlightening and challenging. Islam is as special as Christianity, Judaism, Gnosticism, and all other traditions devised by the human race to explore our inner lives and bring our own living more in line with that intended by the divine.

The other option, of course, is that Colson and Morse don't venerate Islam at all; that they are opportunists who would use the threat of terrorism to push Americans away from liberty and towards intolerance.

Either way, these people are pretty sad excuses for Americans.

Posted by shamanic at 7:04 PM

November 23, 2004

Abolish Election Day

No, not like that. There's an excellent and sober piece in The Nation in which James Galbraith first explores (and debunks) many of the fraud hypothesis surrounding the election. He stands by one that is really a problem: long lines that force many to leave to get to work or kids or their lives before they have a chance to vote.

His solution? Nationwide adoption of vote-by-mail systems such as the one in use in Oregon. How's this for a benefits list:

On election day there would be no bottlenecks at the polls, because there would be no polls. All the money spent on election officials would be saved. So would much now spent on voting machines. Only enough would be required to count ballots, over a period of weeks, at a central location in each county. Election day challenges and get-out-the-vote drives would end. Private corporations and their occult vote-counting machinery would be driven out of the elections business, into which they should never have been allowed to enter. The atmosphere of low-grade thuggery and suspicion that now surrounds the act of voting in many places would disappear. So would the corrosive doubts about the integrity of the outcome.
On the topic of well-orchestrated elections, I'm watching the Ukranian election events with absolute glee, but I'm the kid who would run home from school in 1989 to watch the Berlin Wall come down on the news. 72 years of Soviet domination, and twelve years out they are not going to let their elections be hijacked by Putin or anyone else.

While we can argue the arcane points of machines versus punch cards and manual recounts versus optical scanners, Ukranians are in the streets arguing for free and fair elections. It's a beautiful thing, and I wish them well in their earnest pursuit of justice on this point.

Posted by shamanic at 9:54 PM

Intelligence Reforms

I think one of weirder news items this week is the recurring storyline that Bush supports the 9/11 Commission's intelligence reform proposals, which were stalled in the House by two Republicans on Sunday.

Who believes that Bush supports this bill becoming law? It's like his support for the assault weapons ban that expired in October. It's for the cameras. He doesn't lose any political capital because, let's face it, everyone in Washington knows that his interest in intelligence reform extends only to getting rid of dissenters within the intelligence agencies.

I haven't seen a single article pointing out that Bush only adopted the proposals he did to take an issue away from Kerry. Now that the election is over, I think we can expect an end to most meaningful discussion of intelligence reform, and I suspect we'll be hearing a lot less from the Department of Homeland Security in the next four years now that Bush doesn't need to keep us afraid.

Of course, if something comes up that requires renewed allegiance to Our Leader, he'll trot out the next Secretary to issue dire warnings.

Meanwhile, do you feel safer, or do you just feel manipulated by the last years' scare tactics? 9/11 was real, Osama bin Laden is responsible for it (no "allegedly" needed), and he continues to make his way through the world, almost certainly helping to plan and fund more attacks. No mention of any of that though. Has Bush been playing us from the start? What intel does he see that made terror the daily drumbeat of the last three years and which goes unmentioned since November 2? What happened to the War Against Terror that only he can win?

Posted by shamanic at 8:22 PM

November 22, 2004

Brand Democrat

Oliver Willis has experienced a stroke of true genius. He's begun a netroots campaign to brand the Democratic Party in the same way that companies brand their products.

You can get a blank of his graphic here, then stick it into Photoshop, play around, and get something like this:

which_ones_did_you_mean_small.gif

Posted by shamanic at 6:58 PM

Safire's Call to "Amend for Arnold"

In today's New York Times, William Safire attempts to make a case for a 28th Amendment to the Constitution, a so-called Equal Rights for Immigrants amendment that would allow naturalized US citizens (presumably after a certain number of years as citizens) to become President of the United States.

Safire calls Article II's prohibition on naturalized presidents "[t]he unequalizer in our Constitution."

Let's ignore for the moment that since George Washington delivered his first inaugural address in 1789, only 43 people have held the office of president. We'll ignore that all 43 have been white men, and 42 of the 43 have been Protestants. We'll gloss over, for the moment, the fact that there has never been a Jewish president, never been an African-American president, never been a Hispanic president, never been a female president of any race, color, or creed. Not every state in the union has sent an individual to the White House, but several states have sent multiple Presidents.

The unequalizer in our Constitution? To talk about inequality in our constitution and in our electoral process, let's discuss the electoral college and how it dilutes the voting power of people in populous states and enhances the voting power of people in rural states. Let's talk about the winner-take-all system and how it disenfranchises as many as 49.9% percent of Americans.

I revere the Constitution, and I'm extremely hesitant to amend it, especially for vanity purposes like electing Arnold (who, in my opinion, is doing a truly good job in what must be one of the hardest jobs on Earth). Safire is right when he says that Article II disqualifies a significant number of Americans from holding the office of the President, but he is wrong to present it as the most pressing issue to be dealt with in the Constitution's framework for America's electoral process.

Instead of the 28th Amendment, Mr. Safire, how about the 29th or 30th? Why can't we first confront the impediments that prevent tens of millions of voters' voices from being heard before outsourcing the job of President.

Posted by shamanic at 11:31 AM

November 21, 2004

The Murders of Theo van Gogh and Pim Fortuyn

I want to give props to Andrew Sullivan for continuing to bang the drum on the jihadi murder of Dutch filmmaker, writer, and television personality Theo van Gogh.

On November 2, a 26-year-old Dutch-raised Muslim named Mohammed Bouyeri shot van Gogh on the street and slashed his throat so ferociously as to nearly behead him. Then Bouyeri affixed a five-page letter calling for jihad to van Gogh's body by plunging a knife through the letter and deep into the dead man's chest.

Why loose this spasm of religiously-inspired hatred on Theo van Gogh? Because of an 11-minute film he made exploring contemporary Islam's oppression and abuse of women. Submission is viewable online through IFILM.com. ('Islam' is the Arabic word for 'submission'.)

Dutch freelance writer Johan Peters says this of van Gogh in a recent blog entry:

He was not a gentleman. He insulted many (famous) Dutch writers, stars etc. He offended Jews by saying their holocaust got far too much attention. He was afraid Islamic fundamentalists would become a danger in the Netherlands. He shared this view with a, originally Islamic, female politician called Ayaan Hirsi Ali. Hirsi Ali is from Africa, and has been raped in her teen years by an Islamic cleric. She told about this experience, her youth in different Islamic countries and what's wrong with the Islamic religion as far as she's concerned on Dutch television some 2 months ago. At the end, she showed a short movie she had made with Van Gogh in which a naked Islamic woman could be seen with texts out of the Koran written on her body. This was meant as a complaint against the Islam as a religion.
At FrontPageMag.com Theodore Dalrymple gets at the root of the issue, before veering off into a simplistic monologue on the gratification Muslim men in Europe get from abusing their wives:
But why kill Theo Van Gogh, of all the people who have expressed hostility to radical Islam? Perhaps it was mere chance, but more likely it resulted from his work’s exposure of a very raw nerve of Muslim identity in Western Europe: the abuse of women. This abuse is now essential for people of Muslim descent for maintaining any sense of separate cultural identity in the homogenizing solution of modern mass society. (emphasis mine)
This isn't the first instance of murder over Islam in Holland, of course. Pim Fortuyn, a gay conservative who would have become the head of the largest party in the Netherland's parliament was assassinated days before the election in May 2002 by a Dutchman who felt that Fortuyn was racist and anti-immigrant. This was a widely shared view, and at the time of the assassination the US media largely wrote it off as a far-right European politician who had been killed for his extremist views.
Pim Fortuyn
Fortuyn recognized the threat that the growing numbers of fundamentalist Muslims meant to the tolerant societies of western Europe. Why shouldn't he? As a homosexual he in particular was a beneficiary of the Dutch secular humanist tradition.

The American left should recognize the parallels here. Fortuyn was a politician who stood against the ultra-reactionary forces of fundamentalism. Van Gogh was an artist (and controversial commentator) who used his art to explore the hypocrisy and degradation inherent in fundamentalist communities and cultures.

I dwell on this because I have often differed with friends on the left, even queer friends on the left, about radical Islam. The idea seems to be that, while all that marrying 12-year-old girls off to 40-year-old men isn't good, it's a cultural thing that we should respect. After all, to a Muslim woman, it must appear that her options are to be traditionally Muslim with the veil or even burqa, or to be westernized and go around completely exposed all the time.

Like many, I've jumped on that "reality-based community" comment from Ron Suskind's pre-election article. As a member in good standing of the Reality Based Community, I feel compelled to say to my friends on the left, particularly my queer peeps: this is an insane state of affairs. Just as we stand against the intolerance of the Christian Conservative movement, we must stand against the intolerance of radical Islam. Just as we work to create a just society for, among others, homosexuals in America, we must stop turning a blind eye to the executions of homosexuals in Islamic countries and under Islamic law. Just as we fight for women to have ownership of their bodies and command of their own lives, we must fight to end systems in the world that force women into subjugation. We believe in secular societies, but still for some reason tell each other what a fine model of spirituality Islam is.

I don't understand the disconnect between American liberals and gays when it comes to the most illiberal and anti-gay culture on the planet. We must infuse our personal political philosophy with an understanding that building the world we want to live in absolutely excludes fundamentalist Islam. There are no half-measures here. Homosexuals do not have the option of coexisting peacefully with Islam. Women do not have the option of self-determination where the Koran determines the laws. Good governance does not ever arise in theocracy.

Just as we fight these people in their Christian guise in America, we must fight just as strongly against their Islamist face in the world at large. We on the left must be clear about what we stand for and what we war against. Theocracy is the enemy of liberalism, reason, and freedom. It is our enemy. Fundamentalism is theocracy at its most basic level: the person. Fundamentalism is the enemy of liberalism, reason, and freedom. It is our enemy.

I'll leave you with an excellent piece I first read about two years ago that is required reading if you wish to understand what is happening in Europe as it grapples with huge Islamic minorities. Tolerating Intolerance: The Challenge of Fundamentalist Islam in Western Europe by Bruce Bawer. In case you're still not convinced that Islam is a problem in a liberal world, please consider the entire notion of "honor killings", whereby a male relative may murder his female relative for perceived sexual immorality. We do not live in the same world, and we on the left cannot make peace with this enemy and expect to survive for long. It appears that Europe is waking up to this reality at last.

Posted by shamanic at 11:43 PM

November 20, 2004

Swearing Fealty to the President

Slate has a terrific write-up on the steps that Sen. Arlen Specter was reduced to in order to get the chairmanship he had earned through the seniority system.

Specter was apparently forced to sign a written pledge stating that he would impose no litmus test, that he saw no reason to oppose judicial appointments that the President made, and that he would, if necessary, exercise the "nuclear option" of changing Senate rules to end filibusters.

Just to clarify: In order to claim the chairmanship of the Judiciary Committee, Arlen Specter was forced to abandon future personal or independent judgment—the very judgment the people of Pennsylvania elected him to exercise. He has pledged—in advance of knowing who they are—to endorse the president's judicial nominees and to vote for a highly controversial GOP rule change to end filibusters and effectively terminate dissent of any sort in the Senate.
Our democracy is in big trouble here, folks. Rule of Law is being replaced by Cult of Personality, namely in one George W. Bush. We'll all live to regret these days.

Posted by shamanic at 1:35 PM

Various Republican Shenanigans

The Republican party is working hard to have it both ways these days. On the one hand, God's Own Party (the Party of Morality) is sneaking an anti-abortion clause into a federal omnibus spending bill that must be passed to keep the government open. On the other, God's Own Party (the Party of Reform) has repealed its own internal ban on allowing House leaders to remain in their positions following indictment. The "Delay Rule" passed with a voice vote, and now Josh Marshall's TPM and others are hot on the trail of finding out how individual member of God's Own Party (the Party of Personal Responsibility) voted to relieve themselves of ethical responsibilities.

Here's a quick run-down of the issue before we get to business on this:

Rep. Tom Delay (R-TX, "The Hammer") is the House Majority Leader for God's Own Party and is one of the most influential party members period because of his fundraising prowess. In pursuit of cold hard cash to hand off to various candidates and causes, it may be that Rep. Delay and his associates have run afoul of Texas campaign finance laws, and a number of his PAC's administrators have been indicted by Austin District Attorney Ronnie Earle, who has spent his career investigating and prosecuting, among other things, corrupt politicians from both parties.

The issue hinges on the use of corporate money in campaigns which Texas has very strong prohibitions on and which Delay may not.

Republicans have begun their Slime and Defend process, this time aiming at Earle.

On the voice vote held last week during God's Own Party's lame-duck caucus, Josh Marshall has created the following categories for the representatives:

The Shays Handful. Rep. Christopher Shays (R-CT) took a strong and public stance against the Delay Rule, and has become the figurehead for the band of God's Own Party members who still believe in ethical standards.

"Letter Writers". Representatives who will not comment on their vote by telephone, only through letters to constituents. A tactic also referred to as "Delay Low", as in, vote for the rule change and stall for time until the firestorm blows over.

"Loud and Proud". Representatives who take the public stance that there should be no ethical standards of conduct for elected leaders.

Here are Georgia's representatives from God's Own Party.

Jack Kingston -- Dist. 1
Johnny Isakson -- Dist. 6 (Next Georgia Senator, owes us an answer on whether he believes in ethical standards for legislators)
John Linder -- Dist. 7
Mac Collins -- Dist. 8 (lame duck, refers inquiries to Senator Chambliss)
Charlie Norwood -- Dist. 9
Nathan Deal -- Dist. 10
Phil Gingrey -- Dist. 11 Shays Handful -- Thank you for representing ethical standards in Congress, Rep. Gingrey!
Max Burns -- Dist. 12 (Defeated Nov. 2, but this Athens resident should be held up to public ridicule for the rest of his life if he voted for this.)

Contact them. Ask them how they voted. If we find that the lame ducks are leaving us a legacy of ethical malfeasance, let's make their transitions to private life as difficult as possible. Did Burns vote for this? Is he going to continue teaching at a public university in Athens? Oh, really? You get the drift.

Posted by shamanic at 12:41 PM

November 19, 2004

Budget. Deficits.

The Republican controlled congress just raised the US debt limit to an amount that is equal to 70% of the entire US economy.

Greenspan is concerned about our record-breaking trade deficits.

Haven't heard much about terrorism since, oh, about November 1. I guess it's safe to downsize the CIA and we'll just whistle a happy tune.

Lots of dead Americans in Iraq this month. No biggie, I guess.

Republican Governors meet and give a standing ovation to a homosexual:




Weird times.

Weird times.

Posted by shamanic at 6:46 PM

November 16, 2004

Republican Homos are Hussies!

If you see this man, know that he likes unprotected sex with multiple male sex partners whom he solicits online. He is also the Republican Party's National Field Director.

Ladies and Gentleman, paragon of Republican family values, Daniel Gurley:




You can contact the NC Republican Party and ask them how they feel about having a big homo as a state party leader.

Update: BlogActive has much, much more, including Dan Gurley's adult profile from Gay.com. "Things I'm into: Anal sex, Body contact, Groups, Kissing, One-on-one, Oral sex, Porn".

Who knew Republicans had so much fun?

(Thanks to Mindy)

Posted by shamanic at 5:02 PM

Fascinating Quotations

Sound familiar at all?

"The National Government will regard it as its first and foremost duty
to revive in the nation the spirit of unity and cooperation. It will
preserve and defend those basic principles on which our nation has been
built. It regards Christianity as the foundation of our national morality,
and the family as the basis of national life."

Adolph Hitler,
My New World Order,
Proclamation to the German Nation. Berlin, February 1, 1933

(Thanks to Theresa)

Posted by shamanic at 9:13 AM

November 15, 2004

Homo GOP Conspiracy

With the addition of Ken Mehlman, it appears that homosexuals will soon occupy all positions of power with the GOP.

Chief Financial Officer Jay Banning is openly gay, as is National Field Director Daniel Gurley.

So I ask: Is it possible that the Republican push to restrict abortion and not mention contraception in the classroom is actually part of the super-secret Homo Conspiracy to make heterosexuality less appealing?

Once they take over the GOP, there will be no stopping their nefarious plans!

And dammit Ken, once again you failed to mail me the monthly Homo Conspiracy newsletter.

Posted by shamanic at 5:53 PM

The Geneva Convention is Definitely Gone

What happens when the most powerful military on the planet is not constrained by the rule of law? Here's a thorough examination of Geneva Convention violations in the US assault on Fallujah.

May 2004, Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC): "When you are the good guys, you've got to act like the good guys."

I wonder what he'd have to say about this.

Posted by shamanic at 6:39 AM

November 14, 2004

Fallujah Footage

Here's a very loud 3-ish minute long movie. I don't know who was camcording Fallujah, but it does reaffirm my belief that war is very noisy.

Posted by shamanic at 9:54 PM

Ashcroft Quote of the Day

"Courts are not equipped to execute the law. They are not accountable to the people."

Um, no John. Courts cannot execute the law because the judicial branch does not control America's armed forces.

See Andrew Jackson on Worcester v. Georgia: "John Marshall has made his law, now let him enforce it."

Posted by shamanic at 9:48 PM

November 13, 2004

2004 Election Summary

Wikipedia takes a stab at compiling some of the issues around allegations of fraud in the 2004 election, and the effort is very compelling.

As I've written here already, I'm unable to seriously consider that this election was stolen for two reasons. The first is that most people are not interested in hearing that the election was stolen. The second is that since the first item exists, there would have to be a loud bang followed by smoke coming out of the barrel of a very visible gun before any action would be taken to change this.

And there's a third reason. If it's true that the electronic voting machines are programmed to swing elections, we are no longer living in a democracy, and since the first item is true, this is the path we have chosen as a nation.

It's one of those things that is simply too terrible for me to contemplate, but I know many have other views. If you hear that bang and see that smoke and get ahold of that gun, please make sure the exhibition is huge.

Oh, and check out Black Box Voting for more on this.

Taking off my tinfoil hat now.

Posted by shamanic at 11:21 PM

David Brooks on the CIA

David Brooks is upset in his column today, spouting off some truly classic musings about how President Bush should deal with a CIA that is in full-fledged mutiny.

The White House-C.I.A. relationship became dysfunctional, and while the blame was certainly not all on one side, Langley was engaged in slow-motion, brazen insubordination, which violated all standards of honorable public service. It was also incredibly stupid, since C.I.A. officials were betting their agency on a Kerry victory.
Do you think that the White House-CIA relationship became dysfunction before or after Dick Cheney began visiting routinely to cherry pick intel? Was it more or less functional after someone in the White House called a variety of reporters to disclose the identity of a covert operative working on WMD?

This seems like another area where the President could work on being a uniter, not a divider. Brooks is right that the insurrection at Langley must be stopped, but he's willfully blind if he doesn't see that this fractured relationship starts with George Bush, and that whatever healing must happen after discipline will also fall to the President, who will almost certainly ignore the issue. And so it goes.

Posted by shamanic at 8:33 PM

November 12, 2004

1984

No, not the election that year.

Do you get the feeling that the generational war that is being kicked off isn't against foreign terrorists but domestic dissenters? How will Republicans continue to rile up their base after abortion is illegal and homosexuals have been stripped of their rights and perhaps face prison time or continual harrassment for existing?

George Orwell: "The heretic, the enemy of society, will always be there, so that he can be defeated and humiliated over again...The more the Party is powerful, the less it will be tolerant; the weaker the opposition, the tighter the despotism."

Fun.

Posted by shamanic at 1:25 PM

November 11, 2004

Ken Mehlman Gay?

Whoa. Rumors are swirling now that Ken Mehlman, campaign manager for the recent Bush unpleasantness is both up for head of the RNC and is a big old fag. A 37 year old bachelor with this mouth? Check out the guy behind him. Uncomfortable much?



Addresses to congratulate the Republicans on their newfound tolerance of homosexuals here. Wow. I spent the whole campaign thinking that guy had a weirdly shaped mouth, and now I'm going to spend the next few days obsessively wondering what he puts in it. Hmmm.....

Posted by shamanic at 8:25 PM

Veterans' Day

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the Dead.
Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved, and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.
Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

--John McCrae

Posted by shamanic at 12:44 PM

Terrorist, Statesman, Thug: Arafat Dies

Wow, it seems that Yassir Arafat is definitively dead. I don't know how to properly eulogize him; he had the opportunity for true greatness but threw it away because of his own concerns. He could have given the world Palestine, and instead leaves behind a divided, and stateless, Palestinian people.

On the other hand, Arafat's leadership of the PLO and Fatah used any tactic (and many bloody tactics) to keep the Palestinian situation on the front pages.

I think that Arafat lived too long, ruled too long, and is responsible for far too many deaths (on both sides of the conflict) to have remained credible. Hopefully, the emerging leadership in the Occupied Territories will be able to do what Arafat was afraid to: push for, and create, an honorable peace between two states.

My best wishes and highest hopes go out to the people of the Occupied Territories and Israel today. Sharon remains a problem, but this is the first time in a long time when it's looked like there might be real movement towards a better life for both sides. I hope the wisest of you will be able to find common ground and build the future there.

Posted by shamanic at 8:03 AM

November 9, 2004

Ashcroft's Down

They'll have a hard time finding someone as bad on American values as Ashcroft. I'm not saying it's impossible, but he's pretty bottom of the barrel when it comes to respecting liberty.

Good riddance.

Posted by shamanic at 9:10 PM

And then there's this...

Fuckthesouth.com.

Yankee, please. We are so much better armed than you.

Posted by shamanic at 1:03 PM

November 8, 2004

KG Says

"The invisible history of gays in America--generations of us. People signing in to bars and being carted away in paddy wagons."

Posted by shamanic at 9:00 PM

A Queer Prayer

Karen G. knows how to pray, though she wouldn't call it that. Here's her queer prayer as we go into week two of the tyranny of the majority in America:

let's make the monumental mall
a mosh pit
let's push ourselves artistically, leaning into our
lexicons and vocabularies, our canvases, our journals, our instruments.
let's eat our favorite foods and sate our cravings.
let's drink lots of tea, cider, warm beverages, and then fizzy sparkly ones,too.
let's be merry because our lives are short.
let's have more than one thanksgiving this month.
let's dance and twirl on this titanic, wearing ballroom clothes or favorite digs or ridiculous outfits.
let's be outrageous, not just outraged.
let's say what we mean to each other more often, and hold our tongues in pause
if we don't have a response yet, and only ask a question if you're interested in the answer.
let's put our bodies on the line, and if there aren't any lines, start one.
let's not buy anything unless we really need it, know where it came from and who made it,(sometimes,sexy clothes splurging, well, that justifies it to others).
let's support live art in independantly owned venues and get to know the artists we love.

consider the scarab, rolling the same crap over and over again, also like Sisyphus.existance is like this.let's get over it and keep moving, with even more ecstasy in the seams of our pants & hosery.
*i say this as i wallow, knowing that wallowing wastes time & sticky post-it-note mantras fall off the fridge,but sometimes, affirmations do their tricks & magick, underneath the radar.*

Let's be outrageous, not just outraged.

Posted by shamanic at 7:14 PM

Recommended Reading

Let me recommend a book. Towing Jehova is a darkly funny tale of a washed up ship's captain who is visited first by angels and then by representatives from the Catholic church, who give him the job of towing Jehova's (yes, that Jehova) corpse from the southern seas where He opted to fall upon deciding to die, to the arctic for entombment in ice.

The main character (can't remember his name, it's been some ten years since I read it) puts together a crew and they head off in an oil tanker, intending to drain God's body of His divine blood and haul the lightened corpse north. God, of course, is enormous.

Within God's hair, aquatic paradises have blossomed. The smell of the divine decay is floral and heavenly.

There is a section of the book (not the end, I'm not spoiling the ending here for you) where the crew begins to go crazy. They know for a fact that God is dead; there is no morality, there is no divine judgement, there is no longer a heaven or hell to be concerned with.

I feel like that today. There is no moral center when I am a pariah to be feared and undermined.

I have always felt that if my rights were secure, as a homosexual in America, that everyone's rights were secure. I have argued this with liberal to the point of incoherent friends--we are gay and we are free, so why this talk of an evil America?--and that's done now.

The God that is America to me, the God that is the ideal, the dream, of this nation has died and floats atop the water in a southern ocean. There is no morality. There is no heaven or hell. There is no reward for the just and no punishment for the wicked, there are just frightened people who have forgotten the dream our Founders dreamed and there are those who know better and still whip them into that frenzy of fear and loathing.

And there is me.

Posted by shamanic at 7:08 PM

Morals

One of the big hypocrisies I take from the election is the way that values-minded people turned out to vote against the creation of stable, monogamous families within America's gay communities.

I never felt that marriage was on the horizon in America until June 2003, when the Supreme Court issued the watershed ruling Lawrence v. Texas which abolished sodomy laws in the thirteen states that continued to have them (nearly all of these states were once part of the Confederacy, if that gives you any sense of their moral bearings). The use of words like "dignity" and "respect" in that ruling gave way to an optimism for me that one day, my own country would open the way for the responsibilities and protections that go with legal marriage.

I am a monogamist, and briefly I saw my country's and my own morality align on this point. In February of 2004, San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsome opened the floodgates and let thousands of gay couples marry while the cameras rolled. America saw the thirst that our community shares for stability and commitment. They watched as couples who have spent decades together were finally given the same podium, the same papers, and briefly, the same recognition as any Vegas newlyweds.

My personal morality, the morality of those couples who stood in lines and rain and worried that courts would (and ultimately did) shut down this process of dignity, and the morality of my country which favors couples above all others came together in those days, and amazingly, America has announced that my adherence to the structure of a morally sanctioned relationship is not good enough. Monogamy and commitment are not good enough for my country, which now moves to spit on the hard work that all of us who have built relationships have invested in one person to love forever.

This is rooted in America's nightmare of homosexuals. In this scenario, we are promiscuous, often predatory. Our "families" are comprised of countless sex partners, not including the many anonymous encounters we routinely have. This hetero-repressive's fantasy is not applicable to me, but I'm beginning to realize the prominent role that ex-lovers now play in my life. I'm beginning to question the degree to which my adherence to monogamy has been founded in a desire to fit into the wider culture, a culture which is in the process of legislatively rejecting me.

So what's wrong with alternate family structures?

In an economic analysis, disadvantaged communities often engage in what we think of non-monogamy (though in many instances these are polyamorous situations with multiple recurring sexual partners, often resulting in years-long relationships between multiple individuals and families over large geographic areas) as a way of spreading scarce resources along pseudo-familial lines. Variations on this model can be found in developing nations and America's inner cities alike, and all are looked upon as morally deficient by mainstream western types, though the larger culture does nothing in particular to eliminate the economic circumstances that justify them.

What happens when the needs are not financial but psychological? What happens when the shortage is not of food or money but of freedom and equality? What happens when the lack is of respect?

Tell me America--why should I continue to base my understanding of what a relationship is on the model you hold out but ultimately will not cede to me? Why should I continue to take your morality into account when you have shown how shallow and miserly your morality is?

When the moral factor is removed, there is nothing wrong with alternate family structures. When your community is continually overlooked and disrespected by the larger whole, perhaps the true merit is in growing a family as large as it can be.

How would America feel if, instead of us walking hand in hand, two at a time, it was ten or twenty or thirty of us? What will you tell your children when, instead of moving towards your model of monogamous coupledom, we go nuclear on the very definition of family instead?

You'll take away whatever hope we have of ever emulating you, ever becoming you, and you will have to live with what we build to replace that dream. Your false pious morality, stodgy and cold, your shuttered ethics, pale and blinking, they will face an assault unlike any you can imagine.

I am a moderate. I am criticized by my own gay friends for being too mainstream. You have radicalized even me. What you refuse to share, we will simply destroy.

Posted by shamanic at 1:31 PM

Good Words

From an activist e-mail list:

Whenever I despair, I remember that all through history the way of truth
and love has always won. There have always been tyrants and murderers,
and for a time, they may seem invincible, but in the end, they always
fall. Think of it: ALWAYS.

-- Mahatma Gandhi


And therein lies our hope: our struggle is quite simply about truth and
love. We are in a dark national moment. It took less than 24 hours for
the recriminations to begin. Our community, our fight for the right to
marry and the champions who support us are blamed for the results on
November 2. What a bunch of horse hockey. How sad and typical that
those who should be standing with us against the very clear and obvious
enemies of equality would now blame us for our own oppression.

The question is not: "Was the fight for the right to marry the wrong
fight at the wrong time?" The question is not: "Isn't San Francisco
Mayor Gavin Newsom to blame for the passage of the state constitutional
amendments?" It is never the right time to press claims for full
equality in the face of bigotry and ignorance. But the lesson of every
past civil rights struggle is that we must press on in spite of
resistance. The real question is: "Why are those who pretend to stand
with us so quick to run when courage is required?" The real question
is: "Why do we have to again and again compromise our hopes, dreams and
fight for full equality to the milquetoast agenda of politicians who
will not fight for us?" The real question is: "Why are couples who make
decades-long commitments, like Del Martin and Phyllis Lyon, denied the
right to the security and protection of marriage?" If you can answer
those questions, you may be able to discern the real reason the
Democrats took such a beating on election day.

We are in the midst of a civil and human rights movement. The lesson of
every past movement is patience and resolve and principled demands that
those who want our support must support us. In the wake of November 2,
some of our supposed friends are suggesting that modest support of
fairness and equality for lesbians and gay men cost John Kerry the
election and thus, for future contests, Democrats must distance
themselves from our lives and issues. Yes, of course, run from your
base, alienate the voters you are most likely to get chasing the votes
of those you will never win. Did I mention this tendency may have
something to do with why the Democrats took such a beating on election
day? So let me be perfectly clear: we are in this fight for the long
haul.

We will not stop until our lives, our relationships and our families are
fully secure, protected and embraced. It's one thing when our political
enemies sacrifice us for rank political gain, it's another thing
entirely when those we have stood with and supported suggest doing the
same.

Ten years ago no one would have imagined we would have made the gains
and strides we have as lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered citizens
in this country. These victories happened because we stood tall, fought
back and spoke out. We will not go back, we will not retreat and we
will not be silenced. More of us than ever before enjoy some measure of
legal protection, security and recognition. More of us than ever before
are living our lives with personal integrity and authenticity. More of
us than ever before have discarded the yoke of internalized homophobia
and feel real power, pride and joy in who we are. No one can take this
away. Not our enemies and not our "friends."

The hardest work lies ahead. We must loudly support those who have
risked much to stand with us, we must support each other, we must rally
even as we are dispirited and disillusioned. It is clear that most
voters in this country have no idea who we are. For many of them our
lives remain an abstraction at best and a threat at worst.

Our only antidote to this cultural void is personal engagement. Yes, I
mean person-to-person conversation and contact. Sharing with
fair-minded voters the truth about our lives, the reality of our
relationships and families. I know, given my Utah roots and upbringing,
that these can be difficult and frightening conversations, but nothing
less than our future as full citizens is at stake. We can make a
difference. This is the work we have to do if we are ever to change
the minds and turn the hearts of those we must reach.

We have allies in this fight, champions who do have the courage of their
convictions to stand with us and so many others who still, even today,
hold to a vision of how the world could be. There are many issues and
dreams that hang in peril after November 2. From the environment to
education, health care, civil liberties and economic opportunity, those
of us committed to broad social, racial and economic justice feel like
we've been steamrolled. All of us must unite to take this country back
and we must demand that those who need our support and claim our
allegiance actually deserve and earn it. November 2 was a victory based
on appeals to the worst sentiments and basest fears. It cannot hold.
Truth and love always win. Always.


_____________________________
Kate Kendell, Esq.
Executive Director
National Center for Lesbian Rights
870 Market Street, Suite 370
San Francisco, CA 94102
415-392-6257
www.nclrights.org

Posted by shamanic at 11:41 AM

Turning to the Founders

We've turned our backs on them utterly, but two centuries later the Founders of our nation do manage to provide solace for those whose rights can be placed on a ballot for the majority to grant or revoke.

Jefferson.

"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with inherent and inalienable rights; that among these, are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness; that to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed; that whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or abolish it, and to institute new government, laying its foundation on such principles, and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness." --Declaration of Independence as originally written by Thomas Jefferson, 1776. ME 1:29, Papers 1:315

"[Our] principles [are] founded on the immovable basis of equal right and reason." --Thomas Jefferson to James Sullivan, 1797. ME 9:379

"An equal application of law to every condition of man is fundamental." --Thomas Jefferson to George Hay, 1807. ME 11:341

"The most sacred of the duties of a government [is] to do equal and impartial justice to all its citizens." --Thomas Jefferson: Note in Destutt de Tracy, "Political Economy," 1816. ME 14:465

"To unequal privileges among members of the same society the spirit of our nation is, with one accord, adverse." --Thomas Jefferson to Hugh White, 1801. ME 10:258

"In America, no other distinction between man and man had ever been known but that of persons in office exercising powers by authority of the laws, and private individuals. Among these last, the poorest laborer stood on equal ground with the wealthiest millionaire, and generally on a more favored one whenever their rights seem to jar." --Thomas Jefferson: Answers to de Meusnier Questions, 1786. ME 17:8

"Of distinction by birth or badge, [Americans] had no more idea than they had of the mode of existence in the moon or planets. They had heard only that there were such, and knew that they must be wrong." --Thomas Jefferson: Answers to de Meusnier Questions, 1786. ME 17:89

"[The] best principles [of our republic] secure to all its citizens a perfect equality of rights." --Thomas Jefferson: Reply to the Citizens of Wilmington, 1809. ME 16:336

Posted by shamanic at 9:33 AM

November 6, 2004

Best Paragraph of the Day

From Slate:

In decades past, increasing Republican dominance of the House and Senate would have meant more fiscal discipline. But Republicans increasingly dominate the states that are net drains on Federal taxes—the Southern and Great Plains states—while fading in the coastal states that produce a disproportionate share of federal revenue. (It's Republicans, not Democrats, who are sucking on the federal teat.) What Amity Shlaes quaintly identified in today's Financial Times as the "southern culture of tax cutting" has been married to the southern culture of failing to generate wealth and the southern culture of depending on federal largesse. The offspring is an unsightly deficit monster.
Values is such an interesting and multifaceted word...

Posted by shamanic at 1:37 AM

Salon.com

Wow, Salon.com may do an article based on a letter to the editor I sent them. Got an e-mail from one of their reporters today. How cool is that?

Apparently some folks in Georgia have already received e-mails from their employers explaining that their Domestic Partnership benefits will go away on January 1. The vote is not yet certified by the Secretary of State and this is already happening.

Salon wants to talk to some of those folks. Won't change a thing, but it's good to get the word out. Very cool.

Posted by shamanic at 12:46 AM

November 3, 2004

Awesome

Hey sad lefties, read this. It'll cheer you up a bit.

Posted by shamanic at 6:10 PM

Waking Up Without Civil Rights

It actually feels different to wake up without civil protections in your own state, in case you were wondering. Suddenly, my fear is that I might be injured somehow and KG would not be allowed in to see me in the hospital. I worry about what the people of Georgia will vote to take from me and my friends next. Adoption will go away in January. Perhaps following that my friend who teaches in South Georgia will face a state law that she be fired if she comes out, rather than merely facing that local tradition there.

Perhaps someone from the Christian Coalition of Georgia will drop by and lay out the agenda, just so I can have a heads up.

Posted by shamanic at 3:47 PM

Quoting Myself

I just posted this to a community on LiveJournal that is, understandably, in mourning this morning:

Everyone, let's relax and take a few minutes to catch our collective breath. Let's not hate our fellow Americans, let's get back to work building the vital coalitions that will, over time, empower the emerging Democratic majority.

Here are things that we have:

1. Air America Radio. This is smart, funny, and it gets the word out in a comprehensive way that the GOP can't silence or shout down.

2. The Blogosphere. I don't care what the right says, the Blogosphere is ours. Two and four years from now, it will be an even more potent fundraising tool and we can better target races that the DCCC and DSCC aren't paying enough attention to.

3. Barak Obama. This is the single greatest silver lining in the election. Barak Obama stands a great chance of becoming a true national leader who is able to speak to people in both rural and urban areas, of all races, and with true compassion and clarity. You're looking at the new face of the Democratic Party. Compare that with Tom Delay and tell me you still feel bad.

4. "The Youth Vote". It didn't materialize in numbers that were expected, but the number of 18-24 year olds who are with us is much higher than the number who are with them. They didn't turn out this time. Guess what: I didn't turn out last time when I was 24. That four years made all the difference. With the right candidates, they'll be with us next time.

5. Four More Years of George Bush. He's a walking infomercial for the left. I know it's hard to accept that this morning, but it's true. Four more years of a global economy where Americans interact significantly with foreign business partners. Four more years of straight Americans getting to know gays and lesbians and realizing they're people, too. Four more years of war, financial mismanagement, and diminished civil rights, added to the earlier points on this topic.

I really thought that this morning I would wake up anticipating President Kerry, and I know that you did, too. It didn't go that way. Let's take some time to grieve, get our wounds cleaned up, and then we have to get back to work.

Many people in this group are quite young. I guess according to some, I am, too, but a lot of you are a lot younger than my 28 years. We are the future of our country, and while our elders have opted to continue to saddle us with enormous debt and declining alliances in an unsafe world, the fact is that we have the ultimate power to turn this around.

Take some time. Feel what you're feeling. When you're full up on sorrow and worry, get back to work. The future belongs to us.

Posted by shamanic at 10:35 AM

Let's Get Rid of the Electoral College

3:23 in the morning and this one is going to go and go and go...why? Because the two campaigns are fighting for 270 Electoral votes, and this may (but hopefully won't) drag on for the next several weeks as the Democrats try to have votes counted and the Republicans sue to prevent votes from being counted. If history is any guide, that is.

Hey, I have a novel and fun idea: Let's ditch the Electoral College and directly elect our Presidents the way we do our Representatives, Senators, and county dog catchers. Here's how it would play out (numbers from CNN.com at the time of this writing):

Bush: 55,363,564 (51% total)
Kerry: 51,612,044 (48% total)

Who do you think the President should be in this equation?

Look, I voted for Kerry and I support him strongly. I think that Bush has been a terrible President, but clearly he won this election. How do I know this? Because I can do basic math.

Let's drop the Electoral College. Let's count all the votes. And after our elections, let's put the person who got the most support into the White House. Isn't that how democracy works? Could we maybe spread democracy to the United States if we get a few minutes off from spreading it to other countries?

Posted by shamanic at 3:32 AM

November 2, 2004

Brad DeLong

Brad DeLong's journal is another good one. He may take good care of you while the blogosphere collapses all around us.

Posted by shamanic at 6:10 PM

Zogby Sez: Kerry 311

If you can get to Zogby (no promises, this being the first internet election and all) you'll find that he's calling the Electoral College 311 for Kerry, 213 for Bush, with 14 (Colorado and Nevada) too close to call. That would be fantastic if only the polls had already closed anywhere. Ah well.

The delays on the net are going to get worse as the evening goes on. I'm trying to link into lesser-used blogs, at least until I leave to head to the election party. I may or may not take the time to explore the Legend of Drunken Blogger while there. If you're looking for info tonight, just scroll down this page to look for the goodies.

Here, Volokh wonders what if there's an Electoral College tie. Enjoy.

Posted by shamanic at 6:01 PM

Meanwhile...

Over in Alabama, War Liberal is confident but nauseous. Second.

Posted by shamanic at 5:43 PM

Zogby's Down

Zogby is down. The Left Coaster says that Zogby is dropping 5:30 exit polls and hints at surprises in Colorado, Florida, Virginia, and Pennsylvania.

I'll let you know when I do.

Posted by shamanic at 5:40 PM

Think About It

Four more years of this?




Two hours. Go vote.

Posted by shamanic at 5:11 PM

More Numbers

Andrew Sullivan posts more numbers. I don't know where he got them, but they're apparently exit poll numbers.

GWB JFK

OH 49 - 50

FL 49 - 50

VA 52 - 47

WI 48 - 51

CT 40 - 50

IA 45 - 53

MO 54 - 45

MN 44 - 54

AR 54 - 45

NM 48 - 50

NJ 45 - 53

MI 47 - 51

Back shortly.

Posted by shamanic at 4:34 PM

Exit Polling and Other Unreliable Sciences

Everything is VERY unreliable as far as exit polls go. These numbers DO NOT take into account absentee or early voting, and historically morning numbers are better for Republicans; afternoon/evening numbers for Democrats. That said, here's what's floating around the blogosphere:

...........AZ CO LA PA OH FL MI NM MN WI IA NH
Kerry... 45 48 42 60 52. 51 51. 50 58 52. 49 57

Bush..... 55 51 57 40 48. 48 47. 48 40 43. 49 41
(dots are for formatting)

In other words, in exit polling, Kerry is kicking the shit out of Bush in PA, MN, WI, NH, is leading is FL, MI, NM, and is in striking distance in CO and IA.

All in all, good news. Republicans at work very nervous.

Posted by shamanic at 4:22 PM

For Karen and Jane

The Jersey girls... Atrios writes:

It's tough to be a Republican in Philly today. It's like a Kerry Theme Park in center city. Signs plastered everywhere. Armies of volunteers with signs and shirts and buttons and stickers everywhere. "Honk for Kerry" groups on many street corners.

Nostalgic?

Posted by shamanic at 3:51 PM

Easy Voting

From what I'm hearing, voting this morning was a very lengthy process but has eased considerably in the metro Atlanta area. If you haven't voted yet, you might want to scoot out now and get it done before the after-5 set moves in.

This morning I was hearing 2 hour waits, then 45 minutes, then 20, now 10. Take advantage of it if you can.

Posted by shamanic at 3:32 PM

Happy Election Day

Enjoy your franchise. If anyone challenges you, tell them to back off. This is your most sacred of rights, and if you are not a white male landowner, then know that Americans in the past went to bat for you (and me) to have the right to do this.

Go vote, and know that you're continuing the the most important political tradition in the history of the world.

Happy Election Day.

Posted by shamanic at 10:16 AM

November 1, 2004

The Optimism of Democrats

I would like to take a minute to praise the real happiness that I'm seeing in my lefty peers. For months there have been people who grab me at every bump along this campaign road to ask if this is the end. Finally, they've relaxed.

The vice president of my department was downright jovial when she stopped to ask my opinion on things today. She has occasionally gritted her teeth when (quietly, so as not to alert the other executives) asking how I thought Kerry was doing. My coworkers and I laughed easily when we talked about possible electoral tallies today, and the giddiness was overpowering.

It is so good to see this level of pride and optimism. The sniping has, at last, ended and for today, at least, there are no recriminations. Let's enjoy this moment, this joyful moment at the end of this long journey that, for me, began with Howard Dean Meet-Ups in mid-2003 and has grown into something stronger and bigger than I could have imagined then.

It isn't over yet. The majority of the country will go to the polls tomorrow, but as Michael Moore said in a letter today, "the lines will be long and raucus and fun." We're taking our country back, each and every one of us. Go out and vote, get together with friends, watch the returns come in with people you cherish who have worked and worried and cared just as much as you have. Believe that we can do this, and that we are doing this.

In a little over 24 hours, the polls will begin to think about closing. In 36 hours, we will almost certainly know the name of the next president of the United States, and I'm sharing a very good feeling with every Democrat I know that we've done what we needed to do and that the future, like the present, is ours.

Posted by shamanic at 6:03 PM

A Compendium of Republican Dirty Tricks

Or at least the start of one: It's so widespread this year that I'm sure Republican vote suppression in the 2004 election will occupy a small corner of any historical research into American elections in the future.

How does the Republican party intend to remain viable as America moves from a majority white status to a majority-minority status if its official policy is to prevent minorities from voting?

Emerging Democratic Majority indeed.

Posted by shamanic at 3:14 AM


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