Friday, March 21, 2008

Some good(ish) news and a book

I got a little too worked up a little too early. The latest Reuters-Zogby Poll put Clinton ahead of Obama, and McCain beating both of them. Gallup has similar results, though McCain's lead there is statistically significant over Obama but not Clinton.

Does this mean the tide is turning? Not really. It just reminds me that it is still far too early to call the race. I need to think positively--I've been reading too much of the morose Andrew Sullivan

New book: I bought Grover Norquist's Book Leave Us Alone: Getting the Government's Hands Off Our Money, Our Guns, Our Lives. He describes gay Republicans thusly:

Gay Americans who simply want to be left alone recognize that the modern center-right movement has no agenda to outlaw homosexuality or use the power of the state to tax or attack gays. Gay Americans who are also homeowners, businessmen, shareholders, gun owners or men and women of faith will find the modern left ready, willing and able to tax, regulate and attack them--not as gays--but as income earners, property owners, gun owners, etc.

That nicely complements my view: why does being gay have to change my views on unrelated issues like guns, taxes, national security, or abortion. Why does gay marriage, to which I am personally indifferent, (or even civil unions, which I support but much of the gay othrodoxy decries as insufficent) have to become my top priority litmus test issue?


Tim in Italy said...

Oh, Pink. About 3/4 of the way through that post, I felt myself becoming (gulp) Republican.

I need to go lie down.

Pink Elephant said...

you're cute. Don't worry, take a few Advil, stay away from the Drudge Report and business schools and you should be just fine.

Charlotte said...

Marriage is a basic civil right that should be attainable by all Americans if they choose. For the truth about gay marriage check out our trailer. Produced to educate & defuse the controversy it has a way of opening closed minds & provides some sanity on the issue:

Pete said...

I think Sully's Obamania is a bit OTT, lately. He has these obsessions, sometimes.

Anonymous said...

"That nicely complements my view: why does being gay have to change my views on unrelated issues like guns, taxes, national security, or abortion. Why does gay marriage, to which I am personally indifferent, (or even civil unions, which I support but much of the gay othrodoxy decries as insufficent) have to become my top priority litmus test issue?"

It doesn't. As a gay, progressive person, my feelings on most of the issues stem from an innate sense of what I believe to be right or wrong, which is completely distinct from my sexuality. Yes, most gay people are emphatically not republican, but there are far more "pink elephants" than you ostensibly believe (trust me, I live in Washington and have met many of them working on the hill for conservative republicans). And more to the point, being gay and republican is not, in and of itself, necessarily a hypocritical situation.

What disturbs me about your political rants, though, is that you seem blind to the actual ideology of the right because of your fondness for libertarian values. The "left" and the "right" are broad coalitions that have vast differences within their own ranks. Perhaps you should reevaluation what the right stands for.

Republicans preach about "limited government" and "freedom" as they go snooping through your emails and listen in to your phone calls, abolish habeus corpus and fight to uphold sodomy laws to restrict what you can and can't do in the privacy of your own home with other consenting adults. Liberals may believe in providing a social safety net for the most vulnerable of citizens, thus increasing government for these reasons in certain ways, but conservatives increase government when it's convenient to push their agenda--to start wars, intrude into personal lives to dictate their warped view of morality, etc.

Liberals, on the other hand, disagree with these notions, because we believe in civil liberties and individual freedoms in the truest sense. Much of liberal ideology coincides with civil libertarianism, by the way. I, along with many liberals, disagree with so-called "nanny-state" laws, and such views do not contradict a liberal ideology.

You complain about higher taxes, yet fail to grasp the concept of true fiscal responsibility. In case you're unaware, about 48% of Bush's tax cuts went to people in the top five percent of the income bracket, 37% to the top one percent...all at a time during which we took on an unnecessary war of choice. Is this responsible? Is ringing up an enormous debt that our future generations will have to pay patriotic? Yet tune into the republicans debate and all they talk about is who will lower taxes the most (regardless of what the current tax structure is) and who will bomb the most countries.

You complain about too much regulation at the very time a lack of inspection on food leads to some of the worst and most dangerous beef recalls in history; when unregulated trade brings in millions of toys from China with toxic traces of lead to harm our children; and when businesses go unchecked polluting our environment with their only incentive being an economic one--failing to account for public goods like the air we breathe, fulling exposing the free ridership problems we learn about in Econ101.

You may not personally espouse the bigoted views of the right with regard to issues such as race or sexuality, but by voting for a republican, you are empowering these individuals. John McCain may not be James Dobson, but don't be so naive as to believe that he will completely abandon a large portion of his party--despite his reputation as a maverick--or that he'll completely upend the Republican platform. (Newsflash, McCain has actively sought, and received, the endorsement of Pastor Hagee, who blamed Katrina on the fact that a gay pride parade was scheduled for the following week.)

If you want to live in a civilized society, paying taxes is a necessary thing--contrary to your description of taxes as an "attack" on you. If we want roads and bridges that are safe (whoops), decent schools to educate all of our children so we can compete in the global economy, or a military that can both protect our border and our interests abroad (hopefully without war), then yes, you might need to come to terms with the fact that taxes are necessary. Most Democrats in the Congress do not want to be a socialist country. Instead of attacking Barack as a socialist, perhaps you should actually find out what he believes in--read one of his books (the Audacity of Hope if you want more on his policy ideas and ideology) or check out his website. You may find that he's a pretty reasonable guy with whom you may agree more than you suspect.

And hell, maybe our government will stop acting like gays are a bunch of heathens worth of, at best, second-class citizenship if he comes into office.

But yes, I know, you want to pay lower taxes.

Pink Elephant said...

I'm glad "anonymous" took the time to disagree with me. One of the the reasons I secretly and unofficially resumed blogging is that I missed these sort of discussions. That said, I suspect one of two things: 1) "anonymous" is a new reader who hasn't had a chance to read more of my political thoughts, or 2) "anonymous" has read more of what I have written here, but missed my point. A more seasoned or careful PE:T2C reader would know that I frequently lament the GOP's abandonment of limited government principles (in both the boardroom and the bedroom) in favor of enforcing certain moral choices on the public.

As for McCain v. Obama, From what I can tell Mac's policies mesh mush more closely with my views than do O's. Mac's a proven fiscal conservative. Now, It's true that I speak about taxes a lot. In fact, fiscal issues, are probably my primary focus. My complaints about taxes are only half of it. I also attack government spending. I do believe there are certain appropriate functions of government (such as defense, enforcement of private contract, etc.) that require tax dollar funding. I do not, however, believe that three of the biggest items on the Federal Budget (Social Security, Medicaid, and Medicare) as well as many, many smaller items (things from the National Endowment for The Arts to much of the welfare spending) are appropriate functions. All the candidates talk about fiscal conservatism, but McCain is the only one who talks more about limiting spending than repealing the Bush tax cuts. (I know O supports PAYGO, and so do I, but that doesn't save him in my eyes). Mac is unabashedly free trade, as am I. O wants to use trade as a method to impose our environmental and labor policies on other countries.

As an aside, I am just not morally outraged that the Bush tax cuts benefited largely the members of society who, thanks to our "progressive" tax system, pay a greater share of taxes. Just doesn't bother me.

On my second focus issue, foreign policy, Mac's a hawk--which I like in my President. Now I know that everyone in the whole world hates the Iraq war, but O is running as though the debate is should we go to Iraq in the first place. Now the question is what do do now that we are there. Even NPR admits that the surge is working. So when more troops are doing a better job there than fewer troops, exactly why does a withdrawal make sense? Further, I trust Mac to deal with Afghanistan better than O. If, God forbid, terrorists attack the U.S. again, I want Mac in the Oval Office, hands down.

Most readers would probably be pleased to know Mac voted against the Federal Marriage Amendment. Although Mac personally doesn't support gay marriage or even civil unions, he believes it's a state issue not a federal one. On the other hand Mac supports DADT, a strike against him in my book.

Mac and I support school vouchers, O does not.

Mac is less offensive on gun control than is O.

Mac is pro-life, O is pro-choice.

So as you can see, I prefer Mac for more than tax cuts. If "anonymous" were to go through and read (or re-read) more of my posts, that might be clearer.

Anonymous said...

No, I realize that you sometimes lament certain actions of the GOP. My point is that you are likely biased toward republicans, sometimes even when doing so goes against your espoused beliefs. For example, my bet is that you never truly considered supporting Obama, even before you knew of his views.

We could argue the merits of certain government programs such as social security or medicare, but we'll probably have to agree to disagree. Perhaps you should consider, however, that every single successful democracy in the developed world has such or similar programs. Coincidence?

And yes, you're right that the richest bear, by far, the greatest tax burden. Taking out the moral argument and speaking in strictly economic terms (something a libertarian probably appreciates), a progressive tax system makes economic sense. In order to pull in the same amount of revenue with a flat tax, the tax rate on the middle class would have to be raised SIGNIFICANTLY. If you want to see what a society looks like without a middle class, look at most third world countries. I'll refrain from crunching numbers, but just think about that for a minute.

But anyway, my point wasn't to debate the merits of a progressive tax system. My point was that you claim to want fiscal responsibility, but providing tax relief that went overwhelmingly to people earning over $1 million per year isn't responsible (fiscally or morally in my opinion). Barack supports tax cuts to the middle class, especially when the economy is in the tank as it is now. Most PhD. economists would agree this is wise policy, and Bush's tax cuts are not.

On to foreign policy. You say you like that McCain is a hawk. Uh huh. Sorta like Cheney and Bush? In case you haven't been paying attention for literally the last century (see the British invasion), rolling in and occupying land in Arabia doesn't make us safer. Period. The last thing our country needs now is a war-mongering, borderline-senile, grouchy old president, hell-bent on staying in Iraq forever and invading Iran. Oh, and four times in one week McCain claimed Al-Qaeda was being supported by Iran. You would think the republicans would learn by now the difference between Shiite and Sunni (Bush did not know such distinctions existed when we invaded Iraq, btw). Understanding the religious, ethnic, and social complexity of the region is crucial to a sound foreign policy, and McCain, despite his honorable service to our country, clearly does not have that. And before you try to write that off as a slip of the tongue, he made the mistake FOUR SEPARATE TIMES IN A WEEK. Good thing he had Lieberman there to whisper in his ear.

Yes, the surge has temporarily reduced casualties, but don't be naive. Or course if we significantly beef up the security in certain areas (which costs lots more, Mr. taxes), the violence in those select regions will go down. Violence elsewhere has risen, though, and even still, if we can only sustain this level of relative peace while we have 150k troops in Baghdad, is this a sustainable policy? The point of the surge was supposed to be a temporary increase of soldiers to make the country safer so political progress could be made. Political progress has not happened. But once again, the republicans move the goal post--the only way they know how to win an argument.

As for gay issues, obviously no serious political candidate can openly support gay marriage or he or she will automatically lose any chance at winning a national election. Hopefully this will change in our lifetime, but that's just a fact right now.

But let's be clear about the difference between Obama and McCain. Obama has eloquently and truthfully spoken about gay issues, and I would implore you to investigate. In several of his speeches in which he talked about bringing people together and stopping the divides on race, gender, etc., he would also mention gays and straights. He actually said, in a small conservative town in Texas where the audience was certainly not a liberal bastion of progressive thought on gay issues, that we need to stop scapegoating our problems on gay people. Can you imagine McCain ever talking about this? Honestly, I can't even imagine Hillary talking about this.

But yes, I know...just words. I think, however, having a president who has clearly thought about these issues and has mature, progressive viewpoints would be a monumental step forward for gay people.

But, by all means, if you want a president who admits he doesn't understand economics as we sink into a recession; who revealed to us that he doesn't understand the Middle East ethnic dynamics as Iraq falls into civil war and the region grows continually more unstable; and who will surely not do anything to advance civil rights for gay people, then yeah, McBush is your man.

Michael in Norfolk said...

Sally Kern is a good explanation of why what Grover says doesn't work. To win elections nowadays, the libertarian leaning members of the GOP have to prostitute themselves and get in bed with the fruit loop Kool-Aid drinkers.

I fully support limited government - which is NOT what we have received under the Chimperator and Emperor Chaney - and a live and let live approach to social issues. Sadly, the Sally Kern element in the GOP doesn't think that way and here in Virginia a whole list on bills that would have provided gays with modest rights for insurance ALL were defeated by the GOP.

The other thing that I would add is that while you care nothing about gay marriage today, someday you may and it should not be a right from which you are barred by state constitutions and the U.S. Constitutions.

Come November, take a deep breath and vote for Obama. :)

Pink Elephant said...

Last response to a response on this post, I swear. (BTW, it's annoying to talk to someone who is anonymous. Even a fake name would give you an identity instead of being some disembodied voice from the mist.)

First, I'm aware that I cannot prove this, but I assure you, for a bit I considered supporting Obama. I even left comments to the effect on other blogs. Certainly part of this was I saw a democrat winning the White House in 2008 as inevitable (I consider it now probable, but not inevitable) and I couldn't stomach the thought of a Clinton II. But I freely admit that a big part was Obama's undeniable charisma. There is something enticing about talk of change (I want change too, but I suppose they are different changes than you want) and unity. I like to be inspired as much as anyone else. But then as Obama started spelling out policy initiatives and his short political record became clearer, I realized that even a likable leftist president is detrimental to my vision of what this country can and should be.

I am a (surprise!) big supporter of the "ownership society." Quick-fixes to social security with tax hikes instead of a permanent transition to owned accounts or a health care plan that simply pumps money into the system without considering why the costs are so high in the first place takes control of our lives away and gives it to government. People become dependent and slothful. Sure there is more equality, but it's a rush to the bottom, so everyone is more equally poor. Those who warn against trading liberty for security in their political lives (a la PATRIOT Act) might consider their warning

You point out to me, correctly I'll assume, that a fair tax would result on significantly increased tax burden on middle and lower classes to raise the same amount of revenue. THAT MISSES MY POINT! I don't want the same amount of revenue--I want far less revenue for the IRS. I want more money in the productive sectors of our economy and out of the redistributive sector.

My anti-tax positions are again only half the equation--I don't like the spending either. I am just as concerned about deficits as any Democrat, the difference is that raising taxes to reduce the deficit only solves the accounting problem--it does not address the detrimental effects on our economy of less capital for investment and on our spirits of less control over our lives. For that we need to reduce the spending side. McCain is the only candidate that talks about spending with any credibility (or, as far as I can tell, at all). Because he is willing to address spending, in addition to supporting the Bush Tax cuts, McCain, just like Barack, supports tax cuts to the middle class.

Now, yes, McCain has been a supporter of the Iraq war from the beginning, but he also made waves among Republicans for supporting the war but not the Bush (i.e. Rumsfeld) strategy of execution--going so far as to call Rumsfeld one of the worst military leaders in history. Further, McCain has made a point that collaboration with allies is a key component of his foreign policy vision. Hardly the unilateral cowboy diplomacy associated with Bush. I think the "McBush" label is quite unfair.

Despite his gaffe, McCain is still the ranking member on the Senate Armed Services Committee, and a 20 year career in the Navy including service in a time of war. That experience makes me trust him a bit more to be the Commander and Chief of the military. And how does McCain's gaffe make Obama a more capable leader in the war on terrorism? (And yes, I know Obama is on the Foreign Relations Committee).

Then there are the gay issues. I ADMITTED that McCain and I differ there. But I also emphasized that I don't think gay civil rights are so bad as to warrant being my priority issues. Are they perfect? No, far from it. Nonetheless, other issues weigh on my mind more. I thought I made that clear. My being gay doesn't make me any more an Obama supporter than my being young.

So given my choice between an inexperienced leftist who speaks "purty," and a grouchy old man who shares many of my values (though not all, but still more than the other guy), I'm going with the grouch. Feel free to vote otherwise.

Anonymous said...

Well, I'm not sure how me being "Bob" as opposed to "Anonymous" makes me anymore responsible for my words. You can think of me as Bob if that helps you sleep at night.

It's pretty clear from your writings that you've taken only a superficial look into Barack's policy ideas. For the record, Hugo Chavez is "leftist." Barack is a center-left, progressive politician--which, by the way, aligns more closely with the American people at this moment in time than "center-right". Republicans have brilliantly, if unfairly, framed the debate in American politics and have made "liberal" a dirty word. The fact that even people who generally agree with "liberal" political philosophy are turned off by the word is evidence. But I digress.

Barack is an ardent proponent of letting people do for themselves what they can and should, but he also realizes--as do most reasonable people with IQs over 90--that there are some things that require government action or regulation. I won't go into a whole policy debate here, but you should get your facts straight on Obama before you essentially accuse him of proposing a socialist society that makes its people "slothful." I know you're reading Fox News' talking points, but I had thought (wrongly apparently) that you were smarter than that. I urge--or perhaps even dare--you to read The Audacity of Hope. After doing so, you'll have a more valid understanding of what he stands for, which you clearly do not right now.

As for taxes, you say that I missed your point, but I did not. Your point is you want less spending AND less taxes. Yes, we all get that. MY point is that cutting taxes primarily for people earning seven figure salaries while we're engaged in a never-ending and increasingly expensive war is fiscally irresponsible. McCain wants to continue the tax cuts and keep the war going for 100 years. So, um...what's your point again? There are certainly times when investing in the country warrants going into debt to do so--namely when the future generations that will be paying back these debts will benefit economically from the investment.

The current debt amounts to about $30,000 PER PERSON in this country, and a large reason for this deficit is because of the tax cuts for the wealthy. SUPER. I'm glad my neighbors in Georgetown can afford that second yacht.

As for the foreign policy, you're clearly just making excuses for McCain. When it comes to foreign policy, McCain is like Dick Cheney except not as smart. Seriously, I'd guess McCain's IQ is about 20 points, minimum, lower than Barack's. But hell, who needs a smart president? Bush isn't that smart but he'd sure be fun to have a beer with and look how well that...oh wait.

I don't care how long he's been in any committee. A great deal of foreign policy is about judgment, reason, and the ability to think swiftly about complex issues. McCain supported this war all along (bad judgment), and has about as much reason and intelligence as a wet sock. A wet sock that can't distinguish whom we're fighting in the Middle East.

I'd also like to note that, while being a POW for five years makes McCain an honorable man whom I respect, and whose sacrifice I honor, it does not--in and of itself--make him fit to be president. If anything, being tortured and kept in isolation for five years by foreign people in a foreign land is not only likely to cause mental problems as he ages, but it may also make him more likely to want to lash out and possibly attempt to "finish" any wars he may still be fighting in his head, regardless of who the new enemy is. The man already likes to sing "bomb bomb bomb, bomb bomb Iran" and shows either a disturbing misunderstanding of Middle Eastern ethnic ties or else a Rovian strategy to try and obfuscate such ethnic divisions to make invading Iran more acceptable to the American people.

Lastly, no one expects you to spend your life or career trying to advance gay rights, and you're certainly entitled to value other issues over gay issues. Personally I'm far more concerned about foreign policy than I am gay issues. Sometimes, however, principle and what is "right"--i.e., not discriminating against people--trumps selfishness, lower taxes, or any other political philosophy you hold. Perhaps you don't care too much if you can ever get married, but millions of others' lives would be greatly changed by being given this privilege. Shouldn't they?

Perhaps you don't care if rights for gay people actually move backward, or, at best, stay stagnant, because of the continuation of a conservative government. What has inspired me in many ways, however, to stand up for gay rights is because I remember what I went through when I was realizing I was gay. For years I hated myself and thought I had done something horrible to deserve having the feelings I had. Obviously I don't expect government to wave a magic wand and change everyone's perspectives, but having a progressive government that recognizes all of its people as equal is a start. While racism still exists far too much in this country, I think we can all agree that we're better off because the government stepped in with the Civil Rights Act. (I'm not equating our current struggle for equality with mandatory segregation, but similar principles exist here.) My hope is that future generations won't suffer like we all did and that future generations will be less ignorant about these issues.

I hope you take a careful look at McBush's running mate, especially if McCain chooses a fundie Christian to get out the republican base.

Marcus said...

The bottom line is Pink is a conservative southern boy who is clearly intelligent, values money over love and will probably end up spending most of his life living alone and being bitter about it, like most other gay republicans I know.

But he is young, doesn't have much life experience outside of the academy and may change his mind about some things later in life, so there is hope.

I think to be a gay republican has got to be the most self-hating and fundamentally dishonest choices one can make. A gay conservative? Sure, I can understand that, but to be a gay republican is the height of hypocrisy. Nobody said you had to 'be' a D or an R.

Anonymous said...

damn, pink--sucks to get schooled on your own blog.