eirias: (Default)
Nobody does cynicism quite like Fafblog.
eirias: (gay)
Okay, so I am totally thrilled about the presidential results. I have to get that out there. This victory was all the more wonderful for its unsurprisingness. I could have gone to bed at eleven but I couldn't bring myself to do it.

But the night wasn't all victories. It looks like Prop 8 is going to pass in California. I don't want my frustration about this to be lost in the joy today. I remember two years ago when the anti-union amendment passed in Wisconsin and part of the reason it was so awful was that none of my friends seemed to understand that even though the Democrats had won in Congress, I lost.

I want to state publicly: the success of these amendments does not protect my marriage; it makes me feel less secure in it. When other people get to set boundaries on who we can and cannot love, we are all diminished in power and possibility. I do not cherish the feeling that my marriage is a contingent thing, dependent for its existence on the consent of others. That's not the reality, of course. We would love each other even without the tax break. But government-sanctioned marriage is so entrenched in this culture that when they parade their ability to deny it to people for no good reason, I feel naked and vulnerable and small.

If Massachusetts has the right to go one way, California has the right to go the other (legally speaking). But make no mistake: California, you deeply, deeply suck, and I will hold this against you until you make a change.
eirias: (Default)
Reading Obama's memoir, you learn that as a kid he was called Barry. As a young adult he reverted to using his full name. That's not all that striking; a lot of young people change their self-presentation in this way. But I think it is a fairly striking choice for anyone with political ambitions. I think a lot of people would have switched back to the more "American" (more on that in a later post, I hope) -sounding name on entering Harvard. Obama's success with the other route is a reminder, I think, that squashing your identity is no way to get elected.
eirias: (Default)
The financial crisis this fall has made me wonder, for the first time, whether major-party presidential nominees are ever tempted to say, "You know what? Never mind."

FISA, again

Jul. 9th, 2008 08:09 am
eirias: (Default)
Important political message of the day, via [livejournal.com profile] cos:

"If the President does it, that means that it is not illegal."
When Richard Nixon said that, it was an impeached ex-president who resigned in disgrace speaking.

But now, Congress is intending to pass a bill that effectively declares Nixon's statement true (while pretending disingenuously to do otherwise).

Nixon said it to justify his spying & wiretapping without warrants. FISA was the law Congress passed in response to the Nixon / Watergate scandal. It established a secret court that could issue warrants for for surveillance related to "foreign intelligence" in the USA, and made clear that any domestic surveillance without a warrant was illegal - something that should've been obvious to begin with. It made it illegal not only for the government to do it, but also explicitly made it illegal for phone companies to cooperate with illegal surveillance requests from the government.

The Bush administration broke the law. Major telecom companies in the US cooperated with this illegal surveillance. AT&T built a special secret room to collect all the data passing through their data centers and siphon it to the National Security Agency. Because the White House asked them to.

When the president asks companies to do something and the law says it is illegal for them to do so, and they do it anyway...

... it's time for Congress to pass a law declaring that the companies who colluded in the illegal spying conspiracy should be excused, that the cases against them in court should be cancelled. Even after some cases have gone far enough that we know the courts have ruled that this stuff was in fact illegal.

If this law passes, it is a declaration from Congress that if you break the law at the request of the president, you have legal immunity; you will be excused. In other words, "If the President asks you to do it, that means that it is not illegal."

"FISA" sounds like some obscure thing you don't need to care about, but this bill is a precedent set by Congress favoring a government by king, instead of rule of law. It also attacks the concept of checks and balances by allowing surveillance without court warrants, but that's a minor problem in comparison. If we don't have rule of law, checks and balances can't hold anyway.

It CAN be stopped. This winter, a similar law passed the Senate and was considered nearly sure to pass the House, but the House declined to pass it because of the volume of phone calls they received against it. Now, we have a supposed "compromise" that still gives everything away, and the House passed it. The Senate plans to vote today (though they may delay it). It has enough votes to pass. Can we generate enough phone calls to block it? Call your Senators (numbers are here).


* Barack Obama is in a good position to help block it. He opposes telecom amnesty but recently said he'd vote for this bill even if they don't remove the amnesty portion. Join the "Get FISA Right" group on his web site, and/or the Facebook group, and call his campaign office: 866-675-2008.

* Get someone else you know to call both of their Senators. Repost this information this morning.
eirias: (gay)
Andrew Sullivan on why marriage matters to him.

Saturday marked the fourth wedding anniversary for a number of gay couples out in Massachusetts. If any of them should find this: I hope your love has only grown stronger over the last four years.

And of course -- now California! I have been smiling all weekend, and it hasn't just been the graduation festivities.
eirias: (gay)
Overheard in my coffee shop:
Woman 1: "Napa Valley is the widest place I've ever been... it's also the whitest place I've ever been, and wealthy -- really wealthy. No normal people, you know, like us."
Woman 2: "No Hispanics?"
Woman 1: "Well, yeah, there were Hispanics, but they were all in the fields... and you know I always think of Hispanics as white."

Later, on further thought, Woman 1 noted "and you know now that I say that, I look around in here and everyone here is white, too." Well, you know, try Wisconsin some time and see how that compares.

In other news: Obama speaks on race
It's beautiful, not perfect, but beautiful; and it reminds me why I fell in love with his mind when I read his memoir. Of course, the converted aren't the people he's preaching to. I hope it does what he needs it to do.
eirias: (gay)
Gay marriage in Iowa??

It's a single judge's decision, nothing like a State Supremes decision, so it's just a wee bit too early to celebrate (though some people are rightfully jumping at the chance to marry). But Iowa! That's, like, right next door!

Thanks to [livejournal.com profile] ukelele for the link.
eirias: (Default)
In a poorly-written paper, in an article that seems kind of scattershot in its purpose, is buried this gem of a quote from one Nancy Schaefer, who appears to be a state Senator in Georgia:

Commenting on illegal immigration, Schaefer said 50 million abortions have been performed in this country, causing a shortage of cheap American labor. “We could have used those people,” she said.


I don't know how seriously to take any writer who would construct a sentence like the first one and think it fine English, other than to say that at the very least it's not intentional satire; but I have to say, somewhere along the line, someone involved in that paragraph came up with an argument in the abortion debate that's actually new. Hideously wrong on so many levels, to be sure. But definitely new.

(link courtesy of [livejournal.com profile] darlox)
eirias: (Default)
Something I really despise about modern American political culture: It's time-consuming. It's no longer enough to hold a political opinion and vote or spend money accordingly: now one must also attempt to hold it loudly, where congresspeople and corporations can hear. The chief problem with this is that it's difficult to be heard when everyone else is also yelling. It's an arms race of loud opinions and letter campaigns. Meanwhile, the laundry piles up.

Unfortunately, I am a stakeholder in this overhyped culture war, and so as appealing as sitting it out all Candide-style might be, I feel guilty and nervous if I do that, because next thing you know it'll be no birth control and no evolution in schools and church for everyone and "First they came for the Communists" and blah blah blah.

Really, it's about a sense of perspective, i.e., not having one. How creeped out should I be by the Dominionists? by prisoner abuse in Iraq? by the demise of the filibuster? by North Korea and their nukes? by fuckin' Dan LeMahieu and his crusade against university contraception? Well, I don't know, and guess what? I bet you don't, either. Y'all have a mean age somewhere near 30; and while a small handful have been more careful observers of politics than I and for longer, that's still not enough time to get a feel for, say, how to tell signs of a warning democratic apocalypse from signs that the leadership is too big for its britches and is going to get its ass whupped sometime within the next ten years. You don't get a lot of datapoints on "fascist takeovers of Western countries" these days. As for "fascist takeovers in Western countries in the Information Age and [fill in some other details of modern life I can't think of that might be salient factors in how the political landscape plays out]," yeah, I'm not seeing any datapoints there.

Everyone I know is pissed off and scared these days, when it comes to politics. Don't get me wrong; I'm feeling it too, believe me. But every so often I wonder, isn't this just a huge waste of time, in the end? Don't we have problems to solve and art to create and new countries to visit and music to listen to and things to learn? Isn't that going to give more satisfaction in the end than a whole bunch of inchoate yelling at people who only give a shit if you're giving them money, which you might not have anyway, having already given it away to the eleventh lobby group to come canvassing this week?

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