owlmoose: (avengers - a little help)
I'm sure no one really wants to think or talk about anything other than the House's narrow passage of the AHCA today, the bill that's intended to replace Obamacare and dismantle our entire healthcare system in the process. It's terrible, awful, and terrifying for a lot of people; I don't expect to be affected in the short term myself, but the ripple effects could be tremendous if this bill becomes law. It's hard to know what the odds of that happening are. The GOP got away with this in part by rushing the AHCA through before the CBO could prepare its report on how much the updated bill will cost, and how many people it will affect, and that report is expected to be ready before the Senate can vote. It's also commonly thought that the House bill is too draconian to pass the Senate as-is, but if the Senate softens it up too much, it might not survive another House vote. (Never forget: the GOP got this bill through the House by insuring fewer people. I think about that, and compare it to Obama's fruitless efforts in 2009 to win even one Republican vote for the ACA, and it makes me want to cry.) But never underestimate what this group of thugs, bullies, and fascists is willing to do. That said, if you are feeling defeated today, I recommend you to this Twitter thread, which I found a small beacon of hope on a dark day. Friends, we were dealt a setback today, maybe the worst one since January 20th; it's okay if you need a little time to rest and regroup. But I hope you come back refreshed and ready to fight another day. The marathon continues.

Some other stuff that happened:



Today's fun link: The Sandwich Alignment Chart. "What is a Sandwich" is possibly my favorite low-stakes debate topic, so I wouldn't be at all surprised if we come back to this one.
owlmoose: (quote - questions)
I didn't take my laptop with me on my East Coast trip, mostly because I figured we'd be out and about a lot, especially in New York. I was mostly correct in this, so I fell a little behind on world events while I was gone, which is probably just as well.

  • I found this overview of the violent protest in Berkeley this Saturday to be a good and thoughtful summation of the situation. As usual, it's more complex than you might think from headline news. It's not really Trump supporters vs. anti-Trump; it's the latest evolution of a long-running conflict between the white supremacist right and the anti-fascist left, with the white supremacists using more moderate Trump voters as cover.

  • From The Nation, "Fear of Diversity Made People More Likely to Vote Trump." This is a nice way of saying that Trump voters were racist (or, to take it a little more broadly, xenophobic, but the poll discussed by the article asked questions specifically about race and racial anxieties). The article never comes out and uses the word "racist" but the implication is clear. I'm getting a little frustrated by the mainstream media's inability to call racism out by name, even left-leaning publications like The Nation, but at least they're still raising the issue.

  • Of all the various takes inspired by the United Airlines debacle last weekend, I was most interested in Vox's history of airline industry deregulation and consolidation, and how that's led to current miserable flying conditions. It also answered a mystery that has long puzzled me: whatever happened to America West? (Answer: they bought out US Air and kept the US Air brand, so through various mergers they're basically now American Airlines.)

  • From The Washington Post's Daily 202 newsletter, poll results show that the change in support for military intervention in Syria is driven entirely by a massive swing in Republican opinion. Only 22% of Republicans approved of potential airstrikes in 2013, when Obama sought permission from Congress to punish Assad for using chemical weapons against civilians; today that number is 86%. (Democratic opinion is nearly unchanged, from 38% to 37%, well within the margin of error on the poll.) But sure, tell me that their opposition to Obama was principled.

  • I really appreciated this interview with political scientist Marcus H. Johnson on the problems with Bernie Sanders and his approach to fighting Trump, and the problems with infighting in the Democratic Party.

  • As you might therefore guess, I'm not on board with primarying every moderate Democrat under the sun in 2018 (please stop making noises about Dianne Feinstein; I don't love everything she does, but she has serious seniority in the Senate, and she flexes those muscles when it matters). But there are exceptions, and it seems like these eight New York Democrats who caucus with the Republicans are prime candidates for some challengers.

  • It's a little too depressing to go back and chronicle the events that led up to the confirmation of Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court now that the damage is done, but I did want to share the article about his purported plagiarism, largely because it was a centerpiece of Oregon Senator Jeff Merkley's epic filibuster last week, which I caught part of. Merkely wasn't blocking any particular vote by speaking overnight; it was mostly a protest move. But I found his effort inspiring anyway.

  • Jill Filipovic on why it's a problem that Mike Pence won't eat a meal alone with a woman who isn't his wife. This is not an uncommon stance among a certain strand of conservative Christian -- it's known as the Billy Graham Rule, because the evangelist famously pioneered the practice when Christian leaders were getting caught in sex scandals. It's still offensive in that context, but when a world leader adopts the policy, it's flat out discrimination. What if Pence becomes president, and has to take a private meeting with Angela Merkel? Will he insist that his wife be in the room? It's a system-wide problem, too, as this survey of female Congressional staffers shows -- they report being routinely excluded from after-hours networking opportunities because it would require them to be alone with male members of Congress.

  • On the good news front, recent local elections in Illinois elected a record-shattering number of Democrats to office. Includes a video from Congresswoman Cheri Bustos, who runs a boot camp for people planning to run for office. It's called Build the Bench, and of the twelve alumni who ran in this cycle, at least eight of them won. This is exactly the kind of effort we need to be putting in, and I hope we see it spreading across the nation.

  • On that note, and related to my comments about primarying moderates above, here's a "List of Things Progressives Should Do Before Primarying Joe Manchin", moderate Democratic Senator from West Virginia. I'd add the caveat that if West Virginia progressives believe it's worth putting in the time and effort to mount a primary challenge to Manchin, then more power to them, and I'll support their efforts. (Same for Heidi Heitkamp, Joe Donnelly, etc.) But on the national level, I absolutely agree that everything on this list takes higher priority.

  • Jill Filipovic has been killing it in her editorials for Cosmopolitan lately, and this piece on abortion rights as a precondition for economic justice is no exception.
owlmoose: (think)
Anyone else think that they referred to last night's speech as an address rather than his first State of the Union as a ploy to keep expectations low? Just me? Okay.

  • If it was intentional, it sure seems to have worked -- mainstream media spent last night and today falling all over themselves to congratulate the president for his ability to read words off a teleprompter without melting down. Way to set a high bar, folks. At least some articles, like this commentary from NBC, pointed out his lack of substance and a fair number of the "alternative facts" contained in the speech.

  • Meanwhile, the known rabble-rousers at USA Today posted an editorial calling for Congressional Democrats to get serious about potential impeachment.

  • This week in "I Miss Jon Stewart": Stewart's appearance on Late Night with Stephen Colbert on Monday, 2/27, in which he compared the media's relationship with Trump to a bad breakup and advised them to move on. Nice analogy. I wonder how long they'll wait before taking it to heart?

  • A special election for three seats in the Connecticut state senate was a wash, with all three seats remaining in the hands of their original party, but both Democratic-held seats were won easily, while the race for the GOP-held seat was more competitive than it had ever been. Democrats also held a state senate seat in Delaware, won narrowly in 2014, by over 10 points on the strength of 33% turnout -- which is huge for a special election. There's plenty more of these coming, so keep your eye out. Here's an article about some upcoming US House races in Montana and Georgia -- the Georgia seat, especially, could be key to gathering momentum for the midterms.

  • I would say the dominos are falling when Darrell Issa -- terrible GOP rep from Southern CA, who led some of the worst investigations of Obama and Hillary Clinton, and was largely responsible for the California recall election that brought us the Governator, and who came very close to losing his seat in a district that Clinton won in 2016 -- is calling for a special prosecutor to look into the Russia shenanigans, but he walked it back just a day or so later, so.... *shrug* Talk is cheap, folks.

  • My main feeling about the election of a DNC chair is to be glad its over, so now the party can buckle down and get to work. But what really elevated the whole thing to a non-event to me was Tom Perez, immediately and without rancor, naming Keith Ellison vice chair to unanimous approval. This way, we get both of their voices in party leadership, and Ellison gets to keep his seat in Congress (although nothing prohibited him from staying on, he had promised to resign if he'd won). As far as I'm concerned, this is a win-win. As for the people who tried to turn this into a proxy battle to re-litigate the primary, meh. If you're leaving the party over this, you were looking for an excuse to go. See ya bye bye now.

  • One of the big stories last week was members of Congress ducking constituent town halls during their recent recess (mostly Republicans, but not exclusively -- I don't think Pelosi or Kamala Harris had one, and I know Feinstein didn't). Lots of folks are calling them out, but none better than Gabrielle Giffords.

  • Another thing you might have heard about was the Department of Education pulling guidance to schools that explicitly protected the rights of trans students. Bad as this news is, no laws have actually changed here, just the federal government's mandate to interpret them a certain way. The National Center for Transgender Equality provides a FAQ explaining what it all means.


Lastly, for today's bit of fun: here's a livetweet of a cow escape in upstate New York. Watch the gifs, revel in the puns, and read all the way down for a happy ending.
owlmoose: (B5 - Ivanova)
I had thoughts on the article about the agent who asked two authors to de-gay their YA novel (a story which has now come under dispute by the agent in question; my thoughts on the resulting pushback are best summed up in this tweet by Scott Westerfeld, but I digress). It turns out that [personal profile] renay also had thoughts, and we bounced those thoughts around and off each other, and we posted the results over on [community profile] ladybusiness:

http://ladybusiness.dreamwidth.org/15574.html

Your thoughts on our thoughts welcome!
owlmoose: (lost - hurley dude)
Presumably most of you have heard by now about the awful homophobic retelling of "Hamlet" written by Orson Scott Card. I don't know whether to be happier that I stopped giving money to OSC years ago, or sorrier that I can't yank every penny away now.

On the bright side, it did inspire [livejournal.com profile] scott_lynch to write this brilliant parody of how OSC might re-imagine Henry V.

(Thanks to [personal profile] renay for both links.)
owlmoose: (star wars - han woohoo)
Tomorrow morning we leave for a week in New York City. Very excited to be taking our first real vacation in over two years, and especially excited that it's in New York, a city that I love. The last time I went there with T, it was 2003, and January, and in the middle of a cold snap that kept temperatures hovering around zero degrees for most of the trip. Not the best way to experience New York. I think the weather will be more agreeable this time.

Also, given today's events, I am more than happy to support New York with my tourist dollars! A happy coincidence, of course, but I will take it. :)

I'll have my phone along, but I don't expect to be online much during the trip, so this is me, signing off for now. Enjoy the final days of June!
owlmoose: (quote - B5 avalanche)
Straight guy complains about gay romance in Dragon Age 2 (including a blanket dismissal of women gamers, as a bonus); BioWare employee tells him to "get over it".

The BioWare response makes me so happy. It is just about perfect. He even cites male privilege. I thought about saying more, but the blog entry linked above pulls the right quotes and does a great analysis, so anything I might add would be redundant; just go read it. So, so excellent.
owlmoose: (BMC - juno)
Though I haven't talked about it much, I've continued to follow the various Proposition 8 trials and tribulations with great interest. Right now it's at the appeals stage; the hearing was about a month ago, at the federal courthouse about a block from my workplace. I happened to head that direction for lunch that day -- not on purpose, just by chance -- and I walked right through the anti-equality protest that had set up shop. One of the protestors was a man with a bullhorn who proclaimed that the morning rainstorm represented "God's Judgement on the city of San Francisco".

Considering that we've had a few drought years and need all the rain we can get, I wonder what message we're actually supposed to be taking, here.

Anyway, so the trial happened, and today we finally got some news: a punt of sorts. The Court of Appeals did not issue a ruling; instead, they sent the case back to the California Supreme Court to determine whether the proponents even have "standing" -- in other words, the right to appeal the original ruling that declared Prop 8 unconstitutional. (If you're not familiar with the standing issue, this is a pretty good summary.) If the quotes from this Daily Kos article are any indication, the Court of Appeals seem to think that the proponents ought to have standing, but given the lack of case law in California on this issue, they want the state courts to make the final ruling. Which is logical, even if it does draw the case out even further.

So I find all this interesting, as I have found all the twists and turns in this case interesting, but that's not actually why I linked to the article. Another issue that came up on appeal was whether one of the judges, Stephen Reinhardt, ought to excuse himself from the case because his wife is an executive at the ACLU. He dismissed this charge entirely, in a memo that includes this awesome quote (pulled from the Kos link, above):

My wife’s views, public or private, as to any issues that may come before
this court, constitutional or otherwise, are of no consequence. She is a strong, independent woman who has long fought for the principle, among others, that women should be evaluated on their own merits and not judged in any way by the deeds or position in life of their husbands (and vice versa). I share that view and, in my opinion, it reflects the status of the law generally, as well as the law of recusal, regardless of whether the spouse or the judge is the male or the female....

When I joined this court in 1980 (well before my wife and I were married), the ethics rules promulgated by the Judicial Conference stated that judges should ensure that their wives not participate in politics. I wrote the ethics committee and suggested that this advice did not reflect the realities of modern marriage–that even if it were desirable for judges to control their wives, I did not know many judges who could actually do so (I further suggested that the Committee would do better to say “spouses” than “wives,” as by then we had as members of our court Judge Mary Schroeder, Judge Betty Fletcher, and Judge Dorothy Nelson). The committee thanked me for my letter and sometime later changed the rule. That time has passed, and rightly so.


It would be one thing if the ACLU were actively involved in this particular case, but they aren't. The only reason to think Reinhardt might have a conflict of interest is if you assume that married couples are incapable of holding independent opinions. This is an obnoxious assumption, and I'm always glad to see it smacked down.
owlmoose: (stonehenge)
I hope you have all seen by now the most excellent news that "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" was found unconstitutional by a district court judge yesterday. News that was, for me, made all the more welcome by the fact that I didn't even know the law had been challenged in court, and so it came as a wonderful surprise.

Two things jumped out at me from the article linked above. First:

The case was filed by the Log Cabin Republicans, the largest political organization for gays in the GOP, in 2004.


Really? I mean, really? This is not a complaint, mind, but it really shocked me at first glance. A Republican group? Challenging DADT? But on reflection, it makes more sense: Republicans often believe in a strong military, perhaps are more likely to want to serve in the military, and DADT keeps gay Republicans from being able to serve. Still, it threw me for a loop.

Second, the article mentions President Obama and his oft-stated desire to repeal DADT. Now, that's great and all, Mr. President, but if you're that committed to getting rid of the law, why did the Justice Department just defend it vigorously in Federal Court? Someone explain that one to me, because unlike the first thing that caught my eye, I really don't see how that follows.

Still, good news. Great news. As always, it's just a first step, but maybe one that will get Congress and the Pentagon to get cracking on repealing the law for good.
owlmoose: (quote - B5 avalanche)
Two on the Proposition 8 decision. First, a "quick and easy summary", written in plain English, about the basis of the decision. It's probably the simplest explanation I've seen, good for passing on to people who don't know much about the issue.

For more detailed analysis, including lots of great quotes, I direct you to this Open Left article, "The Facts vs. The Fears", goes into a lot more detail about how Judge Walker used findings of fact to make his decisions: the fact that children do perfectly well with same-sex parents, the fact that gay people are oppressed in our society, the fact that legal marriage has nothing to do with promoting procreation. The plaintiffs won because they proved these facts; the proponents lost because they proved no facts whatsoever. They appealed to emotion rather than logic, and while emotion can win elections, it doesn't usually win court cases.

But win an election, they did, and the article draws a great comparison between the court decision and a report on why Proposition 8 passed in the first place. I haven't read that whole report yet, but the upshot, appears to be that Prop 8 won because its advocates made a strong appeal to fear in the final weeks of the campaign, thereby peeling away moderates who might otherwise have voted against it. All the snippets I've read are fascinating, so I do want to sit down and read it all eventually.

Great Day!

Aug. 4th, 2010 07:11 pm
owlmoose: (stonehenge)
As anyone with an Internet connection probably knows by now, Proposition 8 was overturned today. Best comprehensive coverage is probably from the Los Angeles Times; best analysis is on Prop 8 Trial Tracker. The decision is long, so more analysis is likely to come, but the quick reaction seems to be that this was about the best outcome supporters of marriage equality could hope for: the proposition was found to be unconstitutional on multiple grounds, and there is some wonderfully strong language in the decision about legal marriage, for example:

Tradition alone, however, cannot form a rational basis for a law.... Instead, the evidence shows that the tradition of gender restrictions arose when spouses were legally required to adhere to specific gender roles. California has eliminated all legally mandated gender roles except the requirement that a marriage consist of one man and one woman. Proposition 8 thus enshrines in the California Constitution a gender restriction that the evidence shows to be nothing more than an artifact of a foregone notion that men and women fulfill different roles in civic life.


Outstanding.

It will be appealed, of course; the chances that this does not run all the way to the Supreme Court are pretty much nil. And I'll be shocked if there isn't some sort of stay on the ruling that will keep same-sex marriages from being performed until that happens. But it's one step closer. One giant, important, awesome step.
owlmoose: (Default)
Robert Levy of the Cato Institute signs on to co-chair the American Foundation for Equal Rights, the organization behind Perry vs. Schwarzenegger.

The Cato Institute. The Cato Institute. An ultra-conservative think tank stepping up to support the cause of same-sex marriage. This particular organization identifies as libertarian, so this isn't shocking on the level of, say, the Heritage Foundation or Focus on the Family getting involved on this side of the issue. (Or Ted Olsen. Oh, wait...) But other libertarian organizations haven't gotten involved en masse, and it really shows how the usual alliances have broken down in the face of the future.

In other news, gays marry in Iowa, Iowans shrug and move on to other things.

Hat tip to Shakesville for the links.
owlmoose: (Default)
Today marked the opening of the biggest lawsuit against Proposition 8 yet. This is the biggie, the one that could open the floodgates and bring the walls a'tumbling down: the argument that Proposition 8, and by extension all laws banning same-sex marriage, violates the Equal Protection clause (the 14th Amendment) of the U.S. Constitution.

Thoughts and discussions... )

So what do you all think? Crazy, doomed crusade, a sorely-needed change in direction for the movement, or some of each?

Meanwhile, we watch and wait. There's a number of livebloggers and live Twitter feeds for anyone interested in following along; I found the ACLU's live Tweets to be particularly informative and entertaining, but they also signed off halfway through the proceedings and it's not clear whether they're going to be back. A few other options: Firedog Lake, The Prop 8 Trial Tracker, The American Foundation for Equal Rights. Thanks to Jed for the New Yorker link as well as the live blogs/Twitter streams!

Wow!

Dec. 21st, 2009 07:21 pm
owlmoose: (Default)
Mexico City has legalized same-sex marriage.

The bill calls for changing the definition of marriage in the city's civil code. Marriage is currently defined as the union of a man and a woman. The new definition will be "the free uniting of two people."


That is just about the most awesome wording to describe legal marriage ever.

(Link via Shakesville, which has a most excellent picture.)
owlmoose: (Default)
One of the best speeches I've ever seen on gay marriage, from New York State Senator Diane Savino, on the occasion of their vote on a bill to legalize it.

(This has been linked all over the web, so I apologize if it's a repeat for some of you. But it's so powerful and worth watching, that I hope you don't mind seeing it again.)



Sadly, the bill failed, and it wasn't even close. Time to step up the court cases.
owlmoose: (Default)
The outcome of the election in Maine is proof positive that we should not be making decisions regarding people's civil rights at the ballot box.

Take it away, Melissa McEwan:

Historically, we have depended on the courts to make decisions about the application of constitutional guarantees in spite of popular opinion, and they have repeatedly secured protections for marginalised groups decades before Congress and state legislatures, which more closely track public opinion, would have done. John Rogers once noted that "when the supreme court struck down the bans against interracial marriage in 1968 through Virginia v Loving, 72% of Americans were against interracial marriage. As a matter of fact, approval of interracial marriage in the US didn't cross the positive threshold until – sweet God – 1991".

That's exactly 30 years after our current president was born to an interracial couple.[1]

Waiting for the whole of society to be on board with granting equal rights to everyone is simply not in our collective best interest.


[1] And now, almost 20 years later, we have a justice of the peace who resigned rather than perform interracial marriages. Which just goes to show that prejudice against interracial couples is hardly dead. It isn't even hiding very well.

Attitudes do change. I have even seen them changing over my adulthood, to the point where a Washington state initiative legalizing strong civil unions is barely a blip on the national news radar. Remember when Vermont created civil unions and threw the entire nation into a tizzy? That was in 2000. Not even 10 years ago. So the tide will turn, eventually. We're seeing them in motion now. But (to switch metaphors) would the door even have started to open if judges -- first in Vermont, then in Massachusetts -- hadn't forced it a few cracks? Would Jim Crow laws ever have been defeated by popular vote? Guaranteeing our rights is what the court system is for. We should let it do its job.

Bad Citizen

Nov. 3rd, 2009 09:57 pm
owlmoose: (Default)
Stayed home sick from work today. Perhaps that's why I didn't remember until after noon that today was Election Day. I considered dragging myself off the couch and away from my Gilmore Girls DVDs to go vote on the half-dozen stupid local propositions on the ballot (nothing statewide for us this year, and all the city officials were running unopposed), but ultimately I decided against it, mostly because I hadn't prepared myself on the issues at all. I only knew what one of the propositions was even about, hardly an informed voter making thoughtful decisions about the future of my city. Not that I delude myself that most of my fellow citizens are. But I like to hold myself to a standard, at least.

It looks like they're all passing, and as far as I can tell, there's nothing egregiously stupid, so that's something.

Speaking of egregiously stupid... as of this writing, Question 1, the Maine initiative that would block the legalization of same-sex marriage, is too close to call. On the other hand, things are looking good in Washington, which may be poised to create domestic partnerships at the ballot box for the first time ever. I'm not ready to get excited yet, though; I'm afraid I got too badly burned last year. We'll wait, and we'll see.

(The song that was playing as I was writing the title down was "Hope Fails" from the Return of the King soundtrack; before I finished typing, the next song came on, and it was "Beautiful Day" by U2. Perhaps iTunes is trying to tell me something...)
owlmoose: (Default)
Edit: This brief and clear analysis of the court case is very important, and you should all read it.

The CA Supreme Court upheld Proposition 8, but the existing marriages will be allowed to stand.

This is pretty much what everyone was expecting and planning for, so I'm not crushed, but I am definitely disappointed.

On the other hand, since Proposition 8 was legal, that means it can be repealed by a simple proposition as well, right? So onward to 2010 (or 2012, depending on what they decide to do). And more lawsuits, I'm sure. More once substantial reactions start coming down.

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