94 thoughts on “Darwin was Right … Proof of “Evolution” …

  1. Uncle Ebeneezer

    Heh. I heard Andrew Sullivan admitting on NPR that he teared-up at the thought of an American president acknowledging the humanity of so many for the first time. He sounded pretty sincere.

    I don’t know what difference (if any) it will have in November, but I’m certainly applauding the President’s “evolution.”

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  2. wonderment

    Despite all the hue and cry about Obama’s flip to support gay marriage in the 90s, flop in 2008 and backflip now, there’s a good case to be made that yesterday was devolution. Obama now supports leaving the marriage question up to the states, which is tantamount to opposing efforts (like desgregation in the 60s) to erradicate bigotry. The “personal” evolution is a politically expedient cop-out.

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    1. ledocs

      But from a legal point of view, what alternative is there to leaving it up to the states? Marriage is a matter of state law. Obama certainly cannot support a constitutional amendment to define marriage, having just issued the public statement he issued, unless the federal definition is an inclusive one. So, if marriage is not going to be defined at the federal level, then it is going to be defined at the state level. But I don’t see how different marriage regimes at the state level could survive very long, simply because couples move, or want to move. Hence, there is an inherently unstable situation, which is only to be expected with our outdated, stupid, retrograde constitution. The inevitable conclusion to be drawn from Obama’s statement to Robin Roberts (what a fox, I saw her on the last Oscars broadcast when she issued this incredible insinuendo to George Clooney, and then I read up on her, if I am ever interviewed on national TV, I want it to be by her, never, ever in the history of American commercial media, has there ever been anyone to rival Robin Roberts in sex appeal) is that he would support an inclusive federal definition of marriage. He did not say that, but he does not have to, because it’s not immediately relevant, and he can’t control what the Supreme Farts of the moment are going to do.

      WE NEED A NEW CONSTITUTION OR NO CONSTITUTION! THE US FEDERAL CONSTITUTION IS A FUCKING JOKE, A BAD ONE.

      BTW, the bobblehead video is great. That’s my favorite video so far, by a mile. (I don’t have a very good Internet connection, so the whole video thing is not my favorite part of this blog.) The expression on Michelle’s face is perfect. I could stare at that for hours, especially if intoxicated.

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      1. graz Post author

        Tell it man. And good luck with your dream interviewer. That may be more likely than changing the Constitution.

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          1. ledocs

            In the near term, I am well aware that there will be no constitutional revolution. In the long term, we’ll all be dead, except for MaxFlux, who has other ideas, but the structure we have won’t survive another hundred years, I would lay even money on that.

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      2. Wonderment

        The challenge to Prop. Hate in California is based on the equal protection clause of the US Constitution. The bi-partisan attorneys challenging Prop. 8 are arguing that civil rights of all US gay citizens are denied by prohibiting them from marriage.

        Obama’s view, in its “evolved” form, is in contradistinction to that argument. Obama has opted for states rights. If he believed this with regard to abortion or segregated schools, we’d find it outrageous. What’s the difference?

        Re Robin Roberts, she is a lesbian. Hope that doesn’t ruin your enchantment; it may enhance it, come to think of it. But the choice of a middle-aged black lesbian (semi-closeted) was part of the optics of the interview, carefully orchestrated by team Re-Elect Obama. She’s also close to Michelle and Barack personally and her background is sports and “human interest” journalism, which of course guarantees softballs and warmth as opposed to tough questioning and political insight. (Was David Gregory unavailable?)

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        1. ledocs

          “Obama’s view, in its “evolved” form, is in contradistinction to that argument. Obama has opted for states rights. ”

          Has Obama said that he does not agree with the plaintiffs’ lawyers in the California case? Isn’t there an alternative interpretation of opting for states’ rights, namely that he is opting for the decision of the California Supreme Court, and of other similar decisions to follow, and hence for the inevitable evolution towards a unified, inclusive marriage regime, whether by federal decree or not?

          My research into Robin Roberts did not reveal that she is a lesbian. I guess a more savvy consumer of commercial media would have known that. She seemed ready to go to bed with George Clooney, but, admittedly, it was as part of a “sandwich.” I didn’t really understand what was on the menu, I guess.

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          1. Wonderment

            “Has Obama said that he does not agree with the plaintiffs’ lawyers in the California case?”

            Yes. He says he supports resolving the issue state by state. From the interview:

            “….what you’re seeing is, I think, states working through this issue– in fits and starts, all across the country. Different communities are arriving at different conclusions, at different times. And I think that’s a healthy process and a healthy debate. And I continue to believe that this is an issue that is gonna be worked out at the local level, because historically, this has not been a federal issue, what’s recognized as a marriage.”

            Here is Bheads Adam Server’s analysis in Mother Jones of the Obama interview. As Server notes, Obama has seconded Dick Cheney’s 2004 position on states rights.

            http://www.motherjones.com/mojo/2012/05/obama-endorses-marriage-equality-federalism

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            1. ledocs

              You are insisting that there is a stark contradiction where there is no stark contradiction. The fighting it out on a state-by-state basis obviously includes the arguments made by Boyes & Olsen. Obama doesn’t say he disagrees with their arguments. Those arguments are part of the dialectic that is working itself out.

              He’s not going to propose something equivalent to the Civil Rights Act of Lyndon Johnson for gay marriage, if reelected, fine. Am I outraged? No. Am I shocked? No. We have to see what the Supreme Farts decide about the California case, anyway. Suppose they say that any federal legislation which seeks to define marriage would be unconstitutional?

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              1. Wonderment

                To my lights, the view that states should decide and “arrive at different conclusions” contradicts a universal standard prohibiting discrimination.

                You can’t be both in favor of “different conclusions” and the same conclusion.

                “Different conclusions” is how abortion and segregation used to work. If Lyndon Johnson had said, “I’m personally opposed to racial bigotry, but it’s fine if Mississippi concludes its public schools should be segregated by race,” no one would have argued that his position was “historic” or that it was consistent with equal rights for all.

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              2. Steph

                They shouldn’t say anything about federal legislation. They might decide that the CA Prop 8 is unconstitutional for reasons that apply to other states or, more likely, for reasons that apply just to CA. Obama’s Justice Dept (if in power) may or may not submit a brief supporting one of those arguments. He won’t argue against the plaintiffs, I’m sure.

                But then my position on the Constitutional question is evolving itself.

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        2. ledocs

          “But the choice of a middle-aged black lesbian (semi-closeted) was part of the optics of the interview, carefully orchestrated by team Re-Elect Obama.”

          That really sucks. Especially that they would choose someone middle-aged, more modestly post-boomer crap aimed at boomers. Maybe she’s a semi-closeted occasionally bisexual lesbian, if the right guy is involved. Wait until she hears, “I Want to Spend My Life in School.”

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    2. graz Post author

      Of course evolution or devolution is a false framing of the practical result of the calculated posture taken by the President yesterday. (Although the gif’s are mildly amusing). It functions more as a litmus test of the strength of support or disapproval that savvy witnesses such as yourself express. You didn’t disappoint. Funny how you disregarded any of the positive reaction, especially of many LGBT’s. Even if their rejoicing was for the symbolism knowing that nothing was changed or codified in law. Nor did Obama claim otherwise.

      At least this time you didn’t take potshots at celebrants by claiming that their joy was just misplaced reverence of the One. Maybe you’re evolving?

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      1. Wonderment

        “At least this time you didn’t take potshots at celebrants by claiming that their joy was just misplaced reverence of the One. Maybe you’re evolving?”

        It didn’t escape me that Obama adulation played a role in the public’s reaction to the non-news. When Hillary, Bill Clilnton and Joe Biden all expressed support for same-sex marriage, the response was far less deliriously jubilant. Obama turns out to be one of the last liberal Dem. pols to board the bus, and he’s greeted as the conquering hero for the (pseudo) “historic” achievement.

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        1. graz Post author

          Did you gauge reaction by reading the visual cues of Carville on CNN? You still don’t get how politics works. Know failure!
          Paul/Rubio ’12

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        2. Steph

          Quite obviously, the response to Obama is because the president of the US said he supports gay marriage. None of those other people were president. That the president is coming out for it is great, and shows how much things have changed even since ’08 and certainly since the Clinton administration and the passing of DOMA.

          (Obama is also not all that liberal, as we know. Neither are Biden or Hillary Clinton.)

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          1. Wonderment

            “Quite obviously, the response to Obama is because the president of the US said he supports gay marriage. None of those other people were president.”

            Translation: All optics, no substance.

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            1. Steph

              Optics are important. Otherwise, it wouldn’t have mattered that he came out for gay marriage. Even Greenwald wrote that he’s been good on gay issues.

              But yeah, I know. He didn’t support the position you hold, and he waited until it might help as much or more than hurt. We can’t see this as a good thing, as it means public opinion has changed a ton since ’04, even ’08. We have to slam Obama for being a politician and all who continue to like Obama and are happy he did this.

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              1. graz Post author

                Forget it Jane … It’s wondertown.

                He lives in a privileged CA enclave (bubble) that allows him to indulge his causes on select terms.

                His CV reads as if compassion might be in evidence on this one. Not to be I guess. Bitterness kills!

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                1. wonderment

                  Obama should move to Wondertown, or back to Chicago where he endorsed gay marriage in the 90s without having to evolve at all.

                  His current position is like Lincoln issuing an Emancipation Proclamation, but having it apply only to states that already abolished slavery. Lincoln DID evolve, but unlike Obama, he was serious about it.

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  3. Steph

    Like others, I suspect Obama’s announcement — which doesn’t change what his administration had already been doing with respect to the issue, which has been positive — was more the result of deciding it would help more than hurt him. But that’s great. Not of Obama, but for what it says.

    Seeing the somewhat confused Republican response vs. how they’ve demogogued the issue in the past is also encouraging.

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    1. claymisher

      I am really surprised by how hamfisted Romney’s response has been. I should stop being surprised. He’s not good at politics.

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    2. Uncle Ebeneezer

      Here’s a good article on the substance.

      If the administration were still defending DOMA and had taken no position on the level of scrutiny to be applied to sexual orientation classifications, then Obama’s statement might mean that his view is that states have unfettered rights to legislate as they they wish on marriage.

      But, that is not the circumstances in which he makes these comments. Instead, Obama’s position now is three-fold: (1) he personally supports same-sex marriage; (2) he believes as a policy matter that state, and not federal, law should define marriages, as it always has been in this country; and (3) he believes that there are federal constitutional limitations on those state decisions.

      It is true that the administration has not tidily wrapped those strands together. Doing so, by filing an amicus brief in a state marriage lawsuit like the challenge against California’s Proposition 8 would make this point clear to all.

      But, even in the absence of such a public declaration, lawyers working on and judges considering these cases already have acknowledged the importance of the DOJ position on DOMA in state-law cases. The day that the DOJ decision was announced in February 2011, lawyers for the plaintiffs challenging Proposition 8 told the judge that the DOJ’s decision represented a “material,” or significant, development.

      As the lawyers then wrote, “The conclusion of the United States that heightened scrutiny applies to classifications based on sexual orientation is unquestionably correct. Proposition 8 cannot survive the requirements of heightened scrutiny because its invidious discrimination against gay men and lesbians could not conceivably further an important government interest.”

      As that brief — filed by Ted Olson, David Boies and the other lawyers representing those plaintiffs — makes clear, Obama’s legal, policy and personal views are not in any way contradictory and present a clear path forward toward the advancement of marriage equality across the country.

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      1. Steph

        Put like that, his position is now basically the same as mine. I support gay marriage — think it’s great, good for society, would work/donate toward efforts to legalize it in my state. I also think DOMA is unconstitutional and that distinctions based on sexual orientation should get heightened scrutiny. However, I’ve been skeptical regarding the Constitutional arguments for gay marriage and don’t think the issue is identical to banning interracial marriage. I still would likely disagree with court decisions requiring it based on due process or equal protection under the rational basis analysis, but I probably now think that gay marriage wins under the heightened scrutiny equal protection argument. (I also tend to be happy when it wins even if I couldn’t see myself signing on to the opinion. But I’m always a little ashamed of myself for that, since I like to think I care about precedent and the law in general over any result, at least in theory.)

        Also, I think marriage is generally a state issue, federal marriage law on this issue is a bad idea, and we are all better off if we just get marriage through a combination of state court decisions and state’s permitting it or permitting it in a few years after doing civil unions first.

        Oh, and I thought “sure why not” when I first thought about gay marriage in the ’90s, subsequent to that after I realized how fervently the arguments against were felt and when civil unions were talked about a lot decided that was a reasonable compromise, and then decided that civil unions are a bad idea and gay marriage is a much better option. Granted, I’ve been clearly pro gay marriage and not into civil unions for a longer period of time than ’12, but I can’t recall exactly when I became positive.

        And Obama’s older than me, so even though I suspect (given the milieu) that he really was fine with gay marriage all along, I take the flirtation with civil unions as perhaps a better and more tactically useful for getting the issue moved forward seriously. I don’t think it was just political BS. I suspect the not comfortable with gay marriage thing was, although I think it’s a silly thing to get all upset about given that his position was effectively progressive even so.

        But whatever. I just think if we are going to be mad at Obama’s lack of liberalism we should be mad on economic grounds.

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        1. Wonderment

          I don’t really get why you think the miscegenation analogy is off mark (not identical, of course, but easily comparable). Also, is your states right view on marriage consistent with your views on abortion and death penalty? (I’m actually “evolving” myself on states rights issues, and I’m increasingly inclined to let Red States live in the Dark Ages if they really want to.)

          Also, when you say you were influenced by “how fervently the arguments against were felt,” what substance did you find there? How is it any different to the way religious people are fervent about other Bible-based issues?

          “I just think if we are going to be mad at Obama’s lack of liberalism we should be mad on economic grounds.”

          Interesting. I’m much more disturbed by his foreign policy and national security. That’s far and away my biggest disappointment.

          I’m also disappointed with his record on the environment and immigration, but to a great extent his hands are tied by Republicans in those areas; whereas in foreign policy his executive decisions have been awful.

          Also, the more I learn about healthcare, the less I like the ACA. I blame Congress a lot more for that though than Obama. I still give ACA a “better than nothing” grade.

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          1. Steph

            Just a piece of this for now:

            “Also, is your states right view on marriage consistent with your views on abortion and death penalty? (I’m actually “evolving” myself on states rights issues, and I’m increasingly inclined to let Red States live in the Dark Ages if they really want to.)”

            I get the feeling that you are reading “abortion is a state issue” (which I believe) as “the Constitution is not relevant to abortion” (which I do not believe). I thought Ocean and Uncle Eb responded well on those points.

            I think abortion, the death penalty, and marriage all fall within areas on which the states and not Congress have generally controlled the laws about. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t areas on which federal law might play a role (there are federal criminal laws, although I think there should be fewer). More significantly, the Constitution continues to apply to the state laws through the 14th amendment. That’s not controversial and clearly Obama was saying nothing contrary to that.

            Personally, I don’t think Congress should pass laws on abortion, on state DPs, or on marriage (beyond recognizing whatever the states do).

            I do think some state abortion laws (obviously) are unconstitutional, some DP laws could be (although I don’t think the DP inherently violates the 8th amendment), and some marriage laws are as well. My position on how the 14th amendment applies to abortion and marriage laws is a separate issue from the fact that marriage is a state issue.

            But in any case we are all better off if the states work this out for themselves; that it’s not seen as being imposed from outside. With civil rights, it was obvious that was not an option. With abortion, maybe we would be better off if the SC hadn’t jumped in when it did. Gay marriage is moving fast enough that I don’t think we need to preempt the states, including state courts. If it happens, great. But what I want from an executive is not opining that the Constitution takes away authority from the states on this issue (which is at best debatable), but saying that he sees nothing weird or disturbing in two men or two women pledging to love each other and create a committed partnership.

            It’s a right is a different issues than it’s right, and the bully pulpit here is better used for it’s right.

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  4. wonderment

    Points two and three in paragraph two above are logically inconsistent. You cannot hold that states should define marriage AND that it is unconstitutional to do so. That’s sophistry.

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    1. Ocean

      I think it means that there are other aspects of marriage that can be freely defined by states as long as they don’t contradict the constitution. What he doesn’t want to say is that the Federal government will define marriage. That wouldn’t be a good idea, for a variety of reasons, most of which I don’t know. The most obvious one is our current political environment which wouldn’t be receptive. But there may other more permanent and legitimate reasons. Marriage involves many aspects that include how that particular contract between two (as far as we know two) people is established, property, how it’s dissolved, children, etc. It’s much more complex than the gender of those involved. So, yes, I don’t see a contradiction between those two paragraphs.

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      1. Wonderment

        I don’t see how there is one iota of difference between anti-gay marriage laws (or straights-only laws) and anti-miscegnation laws, which were ruled unconstitutional by the Supreme Court in 1967.

        Instructively, Loving v. Virginia nullified statutes in 16 states that forbade black-white marriages, although the last state to actively repeal the racist law was Alabama in 2001.

        Divorce, property and children — the examples you give — are no more complicated for gay couples than they are for inter-racial couples.

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        1. Ocean

          I’m not sure I understand your response. I think we’re talking about something different.

          What I say is that the definition of marriage and the laws that regulate it include many aspects of that contract. Stating whether it’s between two people or a man and a woman, isn’t the only aspect of the definition. So states should be able to establish their own rules about marriage but stating that it has to be a man and a woman may not be constitutional. Stating that when one spouse dies the other is responsible for 100% of the deceased debt or 50% of the deceased debt may be left to the individual states to decide. Or whether the spouses are allowed to keep unshared property, or how much of the income earned by each may have to be shared with the other. I’m making this stuff up just to give examples of aspects of marriage that are decided at the state level, other than the gender of the spouses.

          You got it, didn’t you?

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          1. Wonderment

            Yes, I understand what you’re saying. Do you honestly believe it’s remotely plausible that this is what Obama means in staking out his position? If so, he could clarify that with a 30-second statement: “I think the Constitution and common decency require that same-sex marriage be permitted in all 50 states, just as same-race marriage is.”

            That could happen, but not at this stage of “evolution.”

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            1. Ocean

              No, I don’t know whether that’s what he meant to say. I’m just trying to see why he may have said what he said since I have the impression that he knows what he’s talking about.

              In terms of the general reaction, I think we should let those who are directly interested decide about the value of his message. If there is such a positive reaction by those who are directly interested, I have to think that it is a positive message.

              Your skepticism and unhappiness about Obama seems to dominate your opinion. Perhaps you should admit that you’re not an objective judge of his actions. Not that anyone would be completely objective, of course, but you seem so turned off to everything Obama.

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              1. Wonderment

                I accept that I’m not any more objective than anyone else with a political opinion, but it still seems clear to me that Obama got himself into a knot because he lied about his real views on gay marriage in order to prevail in 2008 (marriage should be only between a man and woman). Thus, to get back to reality he needed to pretend “evolve” and then gauge how far he could go politically in 2012. What his pollsters and handlers told him was ok was to express the “personal” view but pass the issue off to the states and courts.

                Reasonable people can disagree on how important the symbol of a sitting president supporting same-sex marriage is.

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                1. Ocean

                  The bottom line is that we don’t know how much of what Obama says at any given moment is his own personal opinion, his assessment of what law permits, his (or his team’s) assessment of the political consequences of his statements, his strategic plan to develop a certain path or process to achieve his goals. So at bottom, some of us deposit our trust (with caution) on his positions, while others (you among them) seem to mistrust almost everything that is not 100% pure alignment with a left agenda.

                  I do wonder how much effort you put into moderating your views by weighing some of the pragmatic aspects of making public statements or presenting arguments with political ramifications. It’s not as simple as speaking your mind all the time or being in everybody’s face. A certain degree of political manipulation is necessary particularly in an overtly antagonistic environment like what we have now.

                  By the way, did you read that recent article about the irrationality of the Republican party? Having read it, I admire the Democrats who have been trying to push some of their agenda through in spite of the incredibly oppositional attitude in Congress.

                  Here’s the article: http://www.npr.org/2012/04/30/151522725/even-worse-than-it-looks-extremism-in-congress

                  And an excerpt:

                  Mann and Ornstein posit that democracy in America is being endangered by extreme politics. From the first day of the Obama administration, Ornstein says, our constitutional system hasn’t been allowed to work.

                  “When we did get action, half the political process viewed it as illegitimate, tried to undermine its implementation and moved to repeal it,” Ornstein says.

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                    1. Ocean

                      Thank you, uncle. You can’t even imagine how difficult it is for me to figure those prepositions. I fixed it already. So, I was being sexy, eh? ;)

                  1. wonderment

                    I agree that we don’t know a lot about Obama’s real views as opposed to what’s politically expedient. We do know that he was in favor of gay marriage in 1996 before he was against it in 2008. Trust and credibility are important to me, but I can easily forgive O for flipflopping on gay marriage, especially since he finally flipped to the right side. I’m less forgiving of other flips, like on closing Gitmo or generally upholding the rule of law on past and present war crimes.

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                    1. graz Post author

                      Too late. You already pissed in the punchbowl, again. No flipflops for you!

      2. Uncle Ebeneezer

        I think Ocean is correct. Rea, a LG&M commenter and practicing attorney (state SC appellate cases iirc) puts it simply:

        To say that marriage is an issue for the states is not to say that the states don’t have to comply with the federal constitution in dealing with marriage. There is no state law issue on which the states do not have to comply with the federal constitution.

        In the thread for this Scott Lemieux (professor of Constitutional law) post:

        Look, marriage is primary state issue; legislation requiring states to issue same-sex marriage licenses would be of dubious constitutionality and would have no chance of passing, and proposed constitutional amendments are rube-running we should leave to anti-choicers. The primary example of federal intervention into marriage is the abominable DOMA, whose constitutionality Obama is refusing to defend consistently with the position he took anyway. The only space for legitimate federal intervention would be an equal protection holding by the Supreme Court. The only thing Obama can do about this is appoint judges, and the judges he’s selected are overwhelmingly likely to vote this way. Nothing Obama can say will change Kennedy’s vote. There are, as always, many things Obama can actually be criticized for, but this critique is fundamentally misguided.

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        1. Wonderment

          It’s good we have a lot of loyal Obamaite Dem. law professors to spin this for us, but I don’t see why legislation to require states to issue same-sex marriage licenses would be any more of “dubious constitutionality” than requiring them to issue mixed race marriage licenses. A bill can be advanced, Obama can support it robustly, and he can promise to sign it if passed.

          Requiring equal treatment is an extension of other non-discrimination and civil rights legislation that is binding on states.

          While a Constitutional amendment may be very difficult to achieve, it’s not an idea that merits ridicule and comparison to “rube-running” or “anti-choicers.” It’s probably a long shot, but it’s another available organizing tool for activists.

          Finally, it’s not true that the only thing Obama can do is appoint liberal judges in his second term and otherwise sit on his hands and hope for the best from SCOTUS. He can be decidedly proactive before the court, instructing the Civil Rights Division of the Justice Dept. to file an amicus brief and take all other possible measures to advance the cause.

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  5. ledocs

    It is difficult to credit the idea that there is no substantial difference between anti-miscegenation legislation and a legal prohibition on homosexual marriage. A simple thought experiment makes the distinction clear for me.

    Imagine a king or tribal chief of some tribe in a preindustrial society. The king announces that he is going to marry a woman of European descent, let’s say she’s an anthropologist who initially came to study the tribe. Now imagine that, instead of that, he announces that he’s going to marry a young man. (We further posit, contrary to all common sense, that homosexual activity is frowned upon in this particular preindustrial society.) I don’t think it makes that much difference for this thought experiment whether the society in question is monogamous or polygamous with respect to the king. I cannot imagine that retaining authority would not be substantially more difficult for the chief in the second case than in the first case. The reason that the analogy between miscegenation and homosexual marriage in the United States is not good has to do with cultural anthropology and the relative strength of various taboos. I think that sex and family are prior to “race” in the hierarchy of human concerns and taboos, and I’m reasonably confident that there would be very good socio-biological evidence, as well as purely historical and anthropological evidence, for thinking this.

    I support gay marriage. I found the decision of the California Supreme Court quite persuasive. But, the decision cited studies to the effect that “success” outcomes for children in families with homosexual parents are no worse than those for children reared by heterosexual parents. It’s not obvious to me that this would be true or that it is true, especially within the context of a homophobic society. I am now inclined to believe that it is true, based upon the evidence collected to date, but that evidence cannot be based upon very large-scale longitudinal studies.

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    1. Ocean

      I agree that anti-miscegenation is different from anti-gay marriage, but from a slightly different angle. I think it’s linked with the origin of marriage in terms of a social, religious, legal bond between people in order to start a family and have children. It’s a social bond that serves a function as an organizing factor for reproduction. There have been cultures, as you very well know, where homosexuality was accepted, but yet, men would marry women, not other men. It was probably understood that the main reason for marriage was reproduction. From that perspective, it only would make sense between a man and a woman. Race or ethnicity wouldn’t matter, only reproductive capacity.

      Of course, the problem is that marriage then became generalized as a social construct that extended far from its original reproductive origin. So, people who are not in their reproductive years still marry. People who don’t plan to have children marry. People who are married may not be able to have children and then adopt. People may marry for other reasons, completely unrelated to starting a family (convenience of some sort, pacts, property or power). Being that the case, continuing to restrict marriage to a man and a woman no longer makes sense. If two people of the same gender want to engage in the social -legal bond of marriage they should be able to.

      But I think there’s a much larger issue here which is the very definition of marriage. As above, there are so many possible reasons for marriage, that at some point it would be relevant to revisit whether it makes sense at all or what are the minimum requirements that justify the State endorsing such union and for what purpose.

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      1. Wonderment

        I used to think there was a window for abolishing state sanctioning of ANY marriage, but I now view that as a utopian solution that can’t address any of our current marriage inequities.

        The fact that the state incentivizes marriage is, in fact, the best argument gays and lesbians have for demanding the right.

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    2. Steph

      I think the gay marriage argument is different than the Loving v. Virginia argument because there is a genuine disagreement about the meaning of “marriage” in the one case, whereas I don’t believe anyone really thought that black-white marriages weren’t marriages. They just were marriages they disapproved of. Until recently and outside of some areas, I think gay marriage wasn’t simply just disapproved of but thought of as an oxymoron.

      I don’t think that’s the case, and I think we are quickly coming around to a place where that’s not the case, but because the understanding of “marriage” is changing or people have been forced to think through what they understand “marriage” to be and to see that as it’s now used in the US the heterosexual aspect is no longer essentially related to it.

      It’s a bigger thing to say that the laws should be change to create a new thing (civil unions, marriage that applies to different relationships than it ever has under US laws) than simply that limitations based on race shouldn’t exist in the law. I’m not saying I consider that determinative of the legal rights here, but that of course it is different.

      There’s another, easier reason why the issues are different, which is that distinctions based on race get much more skepticism under the 14th amendment than any other kind of distinction, and that’s right given our history. That’s why the first question to be resolved is whether distinctions based on sexual orientation get any kind of heightened scrutiny at all (as I think they should and believe Obama has said they should).

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      1. Wonderment

        “I think gay marriage wasn’t simply just disapproved of but thought of as an oxymoron.”

        So what? Women wearing jeans was thought of as an oxymoron, and I think race integration was also largely viewed as an oxymoron by the same Bible-based reasoning (and citing of Scripture) that promotes bigotry against gays and lesbians today.

        The South fought a war partly to maintain the view that blacks were subhuman. For many, “black human” was an oxymoron.

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        1. Steph

          “Women wearing jeans was thought of as an oxymoron”

          No, it was thought of as wrong.

          I don’t get the feeling that you really want a discussion of this or are interested in views other than your own, so there’s really no point in continuing the conversation.

          Reply
          1. wonderment

            What I want from Dems is a stronger commitment to end discrimination. I find your view exasperating because you’re willing to defend the convoluted reasoning and tepid conclusions of Potus. Gay marriage is, except for religious extremists and homophobes, an incredibly easy call, a no brainer. It’s simpler than torture or tax cuts for plutocrats or pre-existing conditions because there is simply no meaningful argument on the other side. Issues like this are rare. De-segregation and the teaching of evolution come to mind. But even here, when it’s really simple, dems can’t get their act together.

            Reply
            1. graz Post author

              What I want from Dems is a stronger commitment to end discrimination.

              And because “Dems” aren’t giving you what you want … we must assume responsibility and take your strafing? We are not the “Dems” dude. You never even allowed for a defense, let alone discussion of why it’s of importance to others that aren’t you.


              Gay marriage is, except for religious extremists and homophobes, an incredibly easy call, a no brainer.


              In wonderworld only!

              You worked backward from an inflexible conclusion, shutting out consideration of opposing views. Your Primadonna routine is threadbare dude. Give it a rest.

              We are all aware of Obama’s part in the political process. Your role as town crier is redundant at best. More often it is used by you as a weapon to bolster your moral credibility, while denigrating any dissent, however small the divergence might be. Give conversation a chance. Stop the scolding!

              Reply
            2. TwinSwords

              Gay marriage is, except for religious extremists and homophobes, an incredibly easy call, a no brainer.

              Sure. As a moral call for an individual, it is a no brainer. It is “easy.” But that’s not what we’re talking about. We’re not talking about the moral calls made by individuals. We’re talking about politics. And in politics, it’s not “easy.” It’s not a no brainer.

              You seem to believe a politician should always stake out whatever position you personally believe in, no matter how unpopular, and no matter the consequences. We actually have some parties comprised of people like that — parties that stake out a philosophical position without regard to electoral prospects. The Green Party. The Libertarian Party. The Communist Party. The Animal Rights Party. The Nudist Party. Whatever.

              But there are many Americans on the left — Americans who are just as morally upstanding as you — who still want to win elections, who still see some benefit having a stake in government, who don’t want to cede the entire battlefield to the GOP until some distant point in the future when the population has come around to our way of thinking on every last issue.

              In other words, some of us recognize political realities, and as heartbreaking as it can be, we recognize we must wait for some things while working for others.

              I know this isn’t your approach. You would rather be forever on the outside, condemning those in power, protecting yourself from the taint of difficult choices, but accomplishing nothing.

              My heroes are the people who put themselves on the front line and fight like hell, anyway, despite the bad odds and the difficult choices. Moral preening is easy. Trying to make a real difference in a messed up world is hard.

              Reply
              1. Wonderment

                “You seem to believe a politician should always stake out whatever position you personally believe in, no matter how unpopular, and no matter the consequences.”

                Whatever position S/HE believes in, not me. Obama, for example, believed in gay marriage in 1996; then he didn’t; then he did.

                ” We actually have some parties comprised of people like that — parties that stake out a philosophical position without regard to electoral prospects. ”

                Right. This thread illustrates perfectly and serves as a great reminder as to why I quit the Democratic Party and affiliated with a better one.

                “But there are many Americans on the left — Americans who are just as morally upstanding as you — who still want to win elections, who still see some benefit having a stake in government, who don’t want to cede the entire battlefield to the GOP until some distant point in the future when the population has come around to our way of thinking on every last issue.”

                Compromise is fine. Patience is fine. Being pragmatic is fine. Doubletalk and flip-flopping are not fine.

                Reply
                1. TwinSwords

                  Thanks! It’s good to be back. Still going to be working crazy hours for the indefinite future, but I’ve been trying to ease it back a bit. Six months of doing virtually nothing but working turns out to be about my limit…

                  Reply
                  1. Ocean

                    I seriously thought that you needed an intervention. I don’t charge friends too much for brief counseling, and we can’t let friends go down that path. ;)

                    Reply
            3. Steph

              “willing to defend the convoluted reasoning and tepid conclusions of Potus”

              I’m willing to defend it because I agree with it in this case. What I find exasperating is your willingness to attribute good faith and even reasonableness to conservatives who disagree with you radically, but when a Dem does, you are harsh and unforgiving. We don’t all see things the way you do on the issues or on strategy.

              Here, I think your claim that you can’t see the difference between two things that strike me as quite unlike each other is odd and extremely inconsistent with the legal precedents, but I’m willing to accept that’s really how you see it. You don’t do those who disagree with you the same courtesy.

              Reply
              1. TwinSwords

                What I find exasperating is your willingness to attribute good faith and even reasonableness to conservatives who disagree with you radically…

                Yeah. That, and the hostility. I’ve been away for a while; the first thing that surprised me on my return was Wonderment’s blunt hostility. He’s been that way for a couple years, but it seems worse, now. At least judging from the few recent posts I’ve caught up on.

                As for his embrace of people who hate him and want to destroy him, I can kind of understand why he rushes into their arms while insulting people much more closely aligned with him. There’s one big difference between us and them: They *hate* Obama. It’s a deep and visceral thing. When something good happens to Obama, when people applaud Obama, it positively sets Wonderment’s teeth on edge. It makes him want to explode. The celebration of Obama’s evolution on marriage equality must have just about pushed Wonderment to his limits. And given his rage and hatred, the only place he finds solace is in the Rush Limbaugh / Andrew Breitbart crowd. At least those people know what a monster Obama is!!!

                Unlike, you know, us libtards.

                He’s previously said that it’s like how you are tougher on the high achieving kid with promise than you are on the kid with a lot of problems. But I don’t buy that. I think Wonderment might believe it, himself, but I think if he does it’s because he has difficulty accepting the true fact of his own intense hatred of Obama — and, by extension, his extreme feelings of anger towards other people “like him” (i.e., us) who don’t hate Obama as much as he does.

                /psychoanalysis ;-)

                Reply
                1. Wonderment

                  The fact that you can refer to Obama’s “evolution” (i.e., reversion to his 1990s view) with a straight face illustrates to what extent you’ve drunk the kool-aid.

                  Also, your idea about people who “want to destroy me” (Republican War on Wonderment?) is paranoid, as is your manichean view of the world as “us [good] and them [evil].” I’m certain that several of the people who post here agree that your sentiments are outrageously partisan and disingenuously simplistic, but they’ll probably abstain from saying anything, which only serves to enable you and reinforce your distorted thinking.

                  Reply
                2. Uncle Ebeneezer

                  Wonderment ironically personifies the IOKIYAR meme. By spending all his energy pinning the blame of everything on Obama (and Democrats in general) he does just what many Americans and the media does: ignore the culpability of the GOP and let it go unpunished (which is effectively the same as rewarding it.) That he then chooses to praise right-wing loons (Ron Paul) for holding a broken-clock position that happens to be right (anti-war) while simultaneously ignoring their reprehensible positions on everything else (abortion, civil rights, austerity, immigration, gay-marriage, etc.) is just icing on the cake of political cognitive dissonance. The wingnuts must get their little pats on the back, and Obama must be blamed. Those are the basic rules of operation.

                  Reply
          2. graz Post author

            I would suggest that your feeling is actually a fact based on his posturing in this as well as previous threads. It must pain the dude that he has so little influence on important matters (to him, at least), so he dumps his frustration into backhanded insult and insinuation.

            He likes to claim that he isn’t personalizing it … not fooling anyone … is he? Forty plus years and nothing to show for it! Except self aggrandizing tales of standing alongside others willing to show up for “the hard stuff”. Bully for him and them. I don’t think I’m tough enough for holding hands, chanting, and candlelight vigils. Maybe he needs a hug and a thank you?

            Bitterness may kill but failure really hurts. He might just need to share the pain.

            Reply
    3. Wonderment

      Not at all persuaded by your thought experiment. Plus, you don’t need to go all hypothetical. Among Israeli Jews, it’s a lot more taboo for a man to marry a man or a woman/woman than for either to marry a Palestinian. (Neither same-sex NOR same religion marriages are legal.)

      I’m also sure that in many areas of the Segregationist and slave South a white cohabitating with a black in a marriage-like arrangement was (is?) frowned upon more than a gay cohabitating with a gay.

      Reply
      1. Ocean

        I don’t know whether the segregationist or slave south example of cohabitation is correct. I’m under the impression that at least for white men, it was pretty common to maintain black women concubines. I don’t think it would have been accepted for a white woman to have a black male as a concubine.

        Here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Concubinage

        I don’t know what the gay cohabitation status is or was.

        Reply
      2. ledocs

        I am not at all persuaded by this reply. First, the point of the hypothetical was that the hierarchy of taboos I posit is ingrained in earlier forms of society than our own. The point is to abstract from new practices in industrial societies.

        Second, like Ocean, I’m not at all sure that what you say about the South in the US is true, that mixed-race relationships would have been more taboo than gay relationships. To the contrary, I suspect that you are simply wrong about this and that you have no evidence for this hypothesis whatever, despite the fact that you say you are sure about it. Everyone knows that white masters sired many children with black slave women in the slave South, and everyone at the time knew it. I am not aware of any well-known homosexual relationship to have emerged in the historiography of the slave South, but I am a complete ignoramus about US history generally, and about the history of the South specifically. Ask W.H. Burgess. He claims to know about that history. But, one would have expected there to be a fair amount of homosexuality among the officer corps of the slave South, and maybe there was, but it certainly has not been at all overt, not then, not now.

        Reply
      3. ledocs

        I did a very brief search, and there is a gay historian of gayness in the American South, and his name is John Howard. He has a book called “Carryin’ on…” that treats the antebellum South as well as more modern times. He has another book about male homosexuals in 20th century Mississippi, “Men Like That, a Southern Queer History.” So among the seven user reviews on Amazon of this latter book is the following one, from Jody Renaldo, Chairman of the Mississippi Gay Lobby:

        “‘Men Like That’ is a wonderful book about Mississippi gay history. It is written by Dr. John Howard, whom himself is a gay Mississippian. Dr. Howard delves into history of gay Mississippi, something even gays in Mississippi have no idea exists, providing a sense of pride in our own community that no other person, author or otherwise, has been able to do, or tried to do. Often is the case, the Southern states are overlooked in their roles in gay history. It took a gay man from Mississippi, to bring to light Mississippi gay history. Thank you Dr. Howard. ”

        I’m just citing this in confirmation of the idea that gay sex and gay relationships have been more of a secret in the South than their mixed-race counterparts.

        Reply
        1. Wonderment

          I think both types of relationships were closeted in the North AND South. Mixed race contacts were less closet-able because the lighter-skinned offspring were obvious for all to see.

          Also, bear in mind that there’s a huge social difference between sexual contact and social equality.

          The founding fathers may have been able to have sex with all the slave boys and girls they wanted, but they all had white wives who had public status, privilege and power (compared to slaves who had none). Two “bachelor” male or “old maid” female friends may have been able to live together for 40 years, as long as they didn’t come out. This was common even where I grew up: closeted same-sex couples who everyone figured were gay but that only their closest friends knew for sure.

          Anyway, the whole question of which taboo is more powerful is a tangent. Even if you are right that fear and hatred of gays is more powerful in the human psyche than the xenophobia that has plagued humankind and ape-kind for millions of years, it’s would merely explain why bigots are slower to advance toward enlightenment; it wouldn’t justify their bigotry.

          Reply
  6. ledocs

    The problem with states having different marriage regimes arises when there is no guarantee of reciprocal recognition, as I said before. That is not a tenable situation. So then we imagine a situation in which there is a lot of marriage tourism. People leave their state of residence to get married in a state that has gay marriage, just as they now go to Nevada to get a divorce. Then there will have to be federal legislation to insure that there is reciprocal recognition by states of the legality of all marriages performed in the United States.

    Personally, I think the whole federal system should be junked, I find it absurd and counter-productive in many ways, but it is also tied up with the stupid constitution. Maybe there should be regions, rather than states.

    Reply
  7. claymisher

    Marriage is one of the few church/state overlaps we have. Another is Christmas. We could move Christmas to the third Monday in December but it’d freak a lot of people out. If people want to call gay marriage ‘civil unions’ that’s ok with me as long as it’s 100% equal to marriage. I can give people some wiggle room on this one.

    Reply
    1. Ocean

      Benefits of marriage is an important point, although there are also some obligations.

      But it isn’t just about benefits, right? It’s about feeling that the bond in the relationship has exactly the same status as that of a heterosexual couple.

      It’s been a long time that I have come to think that marriage (all marriages) is such an inconvenience. I guess it’s necessary to have some kind of legal agreement/ arrangement. But it should come with a spelled out formula for termination as well. No more costly divorces would be best.

      Just like the end of DADT seemed to me something hardly deserving to be celebrated (from the perspective of more people being allowed to go to combat), gay marriage would add to the number of people who could need a divorce in the future. Sorry for the cynicism.

      Reply
  8. Wonderment

    “But it should come with a spelled out formula for termination as well. No more costly divorces would be best. ”

    Pre-nup.

    But that’s probably even harder than getting people (especially the young) to fill out an end-of-life advance directive (DNR, organ donation, etc.).

    Reply
  9. Ocean

    Okay, I try to stay out of these quarrels because I think you’re all adults and don’t need my help to argue with each other. You’re actually doing a great job at it!

    Wonderment, you drive me crazy with your provocative statements which appear upside down so much of the time. Your defense of Ron Paul is one of the deepest points of disagreements. And your repetitive attacks on Obama wouldn’t be as bad if you didn’t at the same time feel that in the same breath you have to compare to or support a Republican, who from your perspective may be very close to Obama, but from ours (some of us at least) is miles apart. You hold a very hurtful purist view.

    However, for one reason or the other, I think I’ve understood your position, as recalcitrant as it seems to be, as a position of extreme view which is part of a continuum of ideas and strategies. People like you are needed to continue to put pressure on some issues. Your strategy may not be what I endorse, but it’s well known. The intransigent have always had a role in the general path of progress.

    And then there’s Twinswords who takes you literally and of course, feels appalled by some of what he reads. In this instance he tried to understand your motivation and formulated a possibility that you have some secret hatred for Obama and that’s what unites you with Republicans who are so incredibly far from most of what you state your believe in, but who may actually hate Obama as well. I don’t think that’s what’s behind it, but I can’t rule it out, because, sometimes the intensity of your words seem to point in that direction.

    It is true that I don’t hold an exactly manichean view of the parties, but sometimes I do worry about how distorted and insane the “other side” has gotten. It’s scary. And it’s probably gotten as close to a caricature of black and white as it can get.

    I also know that you’ve been criticized harshly here. I think that you may not realize the power of your statements, those that you’re being criticized for. Perhaps I would choose a different way of dealing with it. I have to some degree accepted that you express extreme, exaggerated views that try to illustrate a point by comparison to the worst examples. You’re using fire. And… fire you get back. I’ve known many people like you. There may even be a cultural element, which I’ve been wondering about. But not everybody will feel as familiar with the rhetoric. And the reactions aren’t surprising.

    So, there, that’s as far as I can go with my perspective. Sorry for the interruption, you can go on fighting now. :)

    Reply
  10. graz Post author

    I have to some degree accepted that you express extreme, exaggerated views that try to illustrate a point by comparison to the worst examples. You’re using fire. And… fire you get back. I’ve known many people like you. There may even be a cultural element, which I’ve been wondering about. But not everybody will feel as familiar with the rhetoric. And the reactions aren’t surprising.

    I wonder why the lessons of conflict resolution (as offered by you) are lost on the specialist (him)? He’s waging rhetorical (personal) battles and hiding behind a willfully obtuse characterization of his “opponents” — make no mistake, that’s what he has made them, in his proxy war (some pacifist). Just witness his use of “evolution” — take note of the quotation marks — as evidence of guilt or complicity in the Koolaid wars. None of us here, has denied the flip-flop. But he just isn’t interested in any discussion of context or meaning. Talk about black/white or manichean! So what cause might be forwarded by this intransigence? How about spite? That’s all I see. No need to give credit where it isn’t due.

    Reply
    1. TwinSwords

      I wonder why the lessons of conflict resolution (as offered by you) are lost on the specialist (him)?

      It is interesting, the antagonistic language and the hostility. He’s obviously not deploying a carefully considered public relations strategy; he’s just lashing out emotionally. What seems to be driving him are two things:

      (1) Hatred for Obama.
      (2) Fury over anything good that happens to Obama.

      For example, Obama getting significant praise for his evolution on gay marriage. From Wonderment’s point of view, this is a big setback. The people now praising Obama are the very people Wonderment wants to convince that, actually, Obama is a demon. The setback infuriates Wonderment, and he lashes out in ways that are ultimately unproductive for his goal of demonizing Obama.

      … a willfully obtuse characterization of his “opponents”

      Yes, he does do that.

      None of us here, has denied the flip-flop. But he just isn’t interested in any discussion of context or meaning.

      Exactly.

      Reply
      1. Wonderment

        “None of us here, has denied the flip-flop. But he just isn’t interested in any discussion of context or meaning.”

        You DID deny the flip-flop. You referred to it — presumably seriously — as “evolution.”

        Also, accusing me of hostility, fury and lashing out is something that I might accept from some of the more civil members of the Gang, but coming from you or Graz it’s really a case of laugh-out-loud projection.

        Finally, talking about “Wonderment” in the third person while he is in the room is as if he weren’t is classic passive aggression. Try it at your next social gathering or family dinner and see how well it goes

        Reply
        1. graz Post author

          You DID deny the flip-flop. You referred to it — presumably seriously — as “evolution.”

          So you’re going with the double-down strategy?
          “Presumably seriously” is really being asked to do too much in excusing your willfully obtuse deflection. And yet that’s the story your sticking to even as we have stated otherwise (just check up-thread). It must be the OHS (Obama Hatred Syndrome) or a lack of self-awareness — they offer help for that, you know?

          And you continue to dodge the unanimous criticisms of you (wonderment) by pointing at my incivility. What is your endgame anyway? Aside from dropping turds and disrespecting commenters. I willfully choose my form of engagement and acknowledge my shortcomings. What’s your excuse for being an embittered prick?

          BTW, my family and friends are nearly as unforgiving as you. Yet they never inspire in me as much push back against bullshit that the likes of wonderment does (third person? FU). I would disinherit them if they did. Peace, right?

          Reply
  11. TwinSwords

    …The fact that you can refer to Obama’s “evolution” (i.e., reversion to his 1990s view) with a straight face illustrates to what extent you’ve drunk the kool-aid.

    You really think so? I was simply using the term that has been in common use in the past week; the phrase contains no value judgement. Although, one of the rules of being a wingnut is to always lace speech with derisive spin. Thus, never say “Obama” when you can say “Obummer,” or “Chairman Zero.” Likewise, to you, apparently, I prove my indoctrinated status by failing to lace my description of Obama’s new position with some contempt-filled terminology. How about “fraudulent election-year pandering?” I’ll bet those words make you tingle.

    …your idea about people who “want to destroy me” (Republican War on Wonderment?) is paranoid…

    Only if you deliberately misconstrue my meaning. Of course I don’t mean conservatives want to physically destroy you, but make no mistake, they do hate you, and they do want — and intend — to destroy the political movements you support and the political accomplishments of the last century which you cherish. If you don’t believe conservatives have a deep, visceral loathing for the left, you simply are unfamiliar with the true character of the conservative movement and the people in it. This does not surprise me; you have never shown any great awareness of what kind of people populate the GOP or what their true feelings are. I think this is due to a combination of your living in Southern California and hermetically sealing yourself off from real-world exposure to actual conservatives, whether online or off. (A few well-behaved extremists at BhTV don’t count, I’m afraid.)

    … your manichean view of the world as “us [good] and them [evil].”

    To a degree you don’t acknowledge, I am critical of the Democrats as they are presently constituted, and of Obama specifically. It alarms me greatly that the best we can hope for in 2012 is a guy who was ready to dramatically slash entitlements, for example. (Other concerns about Obama are many, and I will spare you the list.)

    This is nothing new, either: It alarmed me in 1992 that our best choice was a guy who wanted to pass NAFTA, to name but one concern about Clinton. Objections to the conservative positions of the Democratic Party have been a central feature of my critique for as long as you and I have known each other.

    But politics is kind of manichean, at least in a two party system. I wouldn’t say either party represents pure evil or pure good, but I would say the choice is binary (one definition of manichean), and one choice is clearly better than the other. The only other thing that needs saying to round out the point is this: As long as one party is clearly better than the other, even if woefully disappointing in many particulars, the choice is clear and simple.

    I wish we had a real left in this country, and real alternative to Obama. But we don’t.

    Sometimes you come home from work at the end of the day and the only things in the refrigerator are old macaroni salad and old pizza. Adults realize that we can’t always have chocolate cake and ice cream. It’s easy for an idealist to talk about how much better things could be in some fantasy land. The real question, though, is what you do in the world we actually live in.

    Reply
  12. TwinSwords

    I said: “You seem to believe a politician should always stake out whatever position you personally believe in, no matter how unpopular, and no matter the consequences.”

    Wonderment replied: “Whatever position S/HE believes in, not me.”

    My reply: No, Wonderment; not whatever position s/he believes in. You expect politicians to take the positions YOU believe in, regardless of practical considerations of politics.

    Imaginary politician X might be able to accomplish 95 things on his agenda of 100, but 5 of them are so politically toxic and untenable that to pursue them would cause a firestorm of controversy and seriously damage his prospects for accomplishing the other 95 objectives — or for being reelected. So, the smart politician either drops those five goals, or works towards them more subtly and carefully.

    This has been the central point of innumerable arguments between you and others in this group (and elsewhere) for a long time, and you always dodge the point.

    It’s easy for an idealist to take every unpopular and extreme position that comes to mind. But a politician has to govern — he has to govern an unruly nation of diverse viewpoints, and hold the whole thing together in such a way that allows him to accomplish at least something.

    Thus Lincoln, who you love to reference: whatever his true desires with respect to slavery, he had to navigate some difficult political waters between 1861 and 1863. He was greatly concerned that emancipation would cause additional states to secede, would cause loses to the Republicans in the 1862 elections, would limit the ability to man the Union Army, and would imperil the larger goal of saving the union and ending slavery.

    Just as Obama’s “evolution” on gay marriage was a “fraud,” (as conservatives and you would have it) likewise Lincoln concealed his true intentions with respect to emancipation until the time was right and the political groundwork had been laid — groundwork which included his famous reply to Horace Greeley.* This quote has long been used by Confederate sympathizers to tar Lincoln as indifferent to slavery, but in fact, Lincoln had already made up his mind to issue the Proclamation when he wrote that reply to Greeley.

    Here’s what Frederick Douglass had to say about it:

    His great mission was to accomplish two things: first, to save his country from dismemberment and ruin; and second, to free his country form the great crime of slavery. To do one or the other, or both, he needed the earnest sympathy and the powerful cooperation of his loyal fellow countrymen. Without those primary and essential conditions to success his efforts would have been utterly fruitless. Had he put the abolition of slavery before the salvation of the Union, he would have inevitably driven from him a powerful class of the American people and rendered resistance to rebellion impossible. From the genuine abolition view, Mr. Lincoln seemed tardy, cold, dull, and indifferent, but measuring him by the sentiment of his country — a sentiment he was bound as a statesman to consult — he was swift, zealous, radical and determined.

    If Lincoln had proclaimed in his First Inaugural that he intended to end slavery by any means necessary, he would have lost significant support and ultimately would have failed.

    Sometimes when you’re at sea on a damaged vessel, you have to throw some things overboard to avoid a worse fate — the whole ship going down. But that has never been your style, has it, Wonderment? You’d rather be at the bottom of the sea but able to say you never sold out. You think Obama should have walked in the door on January 20, 2009 and proceeded without regard for consequences or the attitudes of the public.

    Take for example one of the areas you are most consistently disingenuous: Obama’s “broken promise” to close Gitmo. You know perfectly well that Obama’s initial efforts to move inmates from Gitmo to the US for trial caused a massive backlash in Congress, in the media, and among the public. He persisted, anyway, for a number of weeks, and only relented after it had been made clear that a coalition of Congressional Democrats and Republicans would block his efforts, and that he would pay a steep political price if he insisted on going forward: He was taking a brutal beating in the press, and hemorrhaging support from the public. He really had no choice but to relent, but in doing so preserved his ability to accomplish other things.

    To you, this makes him a coward who broke his promise. You might be willing to acknowledge he never could have succeeded, but that’s not justification, in your mind, for his dropping the issue. Instead, you think he should have kept fighting, whatever the cost, because that’s what idealist martyrs do: they set themselves on fire to prove their commitment.

    At the end of the day, you’d rather have candidates who can’t get elected and presidents who can’t succeed but take all the right positions. Unlike, I think, everyone else here, you would trade a few modest accomplishments for moral posturing. You’d rather achieve nothing than settle for anything but complete acceptance of your whole program.

    *”If I could save the Union without freeing any slave I would do it, and if I could save it by freeing all the slaves I would do it; and if I could save it by freeing some and leaving others alone I would also do that. What I do about slavery, and the colored race, I do because I believe it helps to save the Union; and what I forbear, I forbear because I do not believe it would help to save the Union.” (Letter to Horace Greeley, August 22, 1862)

    Reply
    1. Uncle Ebeneezer

      From the genuine abolition view, Mr. Lincoln seemed tardy, cold, dull, and indifferent, but measuring him by the sentiment of his country — a sentiment he was bound as a statesman to consult — he was swift, zealous, radical and determined.

      What a great quote. And imo, the proper, balanced perspective from which to assuage a politician’s worth in regards to a particular issue. Using the liberal ideal as the baseline for comparison without taking into account the political landscape at large, leads only to perpetual disappointment and bitterness, not to mention missing out on enjoying real (if not total) political victories.

      It may have happened later than I would have liked, but Obama’s (public) change in his stance on gay marriage is an evolution. Better late than never. Better “for” than “against.” Late or not, his endorsement publically does alot to change the overton window on the issue for the Democratic Party and the country, at large. No matter what one thinks of the timing he’s still the first President to take such a stance, while in office, and facing a challenging re-election campaign. That, in and of itself, is cause for some celebration or at the very least…hope.

      Reply
  13. TwinSwords

    Uncle Eb said: Wonderment ironically personifies the IOKIYAR meme. By spending all his energy pinning the blame of everything on Obama (and Democrats in general) he does just what many Americans and the media does: ignore the culpability of the GOP and let it go unpunished (which is effectively the same as rewarding it.)

    Hey, I just went to your band’s web site. It looks like you guys have done a redesign since I last saw it! It looks great! I love that header — the band name and the icons along the top!

    About what you say above: I think Wonderment is experiencing the “enemy of my enemy is my friend” syndrome. If you start with the premise that he hates Obama at a deep and visceral level, then anyone praising Obama is going to make Wonderment see red. On the other hand, people who attack Obama bring Wonderment comfort. In 2012, the people Wonderment can really relate to are conservatives. At least they don’t drink the pro-Obama Kool Aid!

    Reply
    1. Uncle Ebeneezer

      Hey Thanks for noticing Twin. Our old system was very decentralized and messy. Not only are we happy with the visual aspect of the re-design, but now our entire web presence: our blog, website, facebook etc., are all tied together in a much cleaner delivery system.

      Reply
    2. Wonderment

      “If you start with the premise that he hates Obama at a deep and visceral level, then anyone praising Obama is going to make Wonderment see red. ”

      Only one teensy-weeny problem with the premise: it’s ludicrously false. I campaigned for Obama, voted for him and continue to support his re-election in 2012. Obama wins the lesser-of-the-two-evils contest for me on the great majority of issues. I also hold him in much higher esteem than other players in his government (like Joe Biden and Hillary Clinton, who both cravenly supported the Bush-Cheney war on Iraq). Obama can be trusted to not nominate conservatives to SCOTUS and other federal courts, which is important to me.

      At the risk of sounding snobby, I think I have a more global view of Obama. Most liberal intellectuals around the world, as far as I can tell, are a lot more critical of Obama than native Gang members are. Everyone recognizes that he’s better than Romney or Bush, but that doesn’t mean (except here) that one abdicates critical judgment, lionizes him and dismisses the opposition as “wing nuts.”

      Reply
      1. graz Post author

        Only one teensy-weeny problem with the premise: it’s ludicrously false. I campaigned for Obama, voted for him and continue to support his re-election in 2012.

        There you go again. With the tired refrain of how dedicated a supporter of Obama you are. You’ll eventually combust from the continued smoke-blowing up your own ass. It also doesn’t allow you carte blanche to mock and ridicule differing opinion and perspective. But especially not offer cover for your insults.

        At the risk of sounding snobby, I think I have a more global view of Obama. Most liberal intellectuals around the world, as far as I can tell, are a lot more critical of Obama than native Gang members are. Everyone recognizes that he’s better than Romney or Bush, but that doesn’t mean (except here) that one abdicates critical judgment, lionizes him and dismisses the opposition as “wing nuts.”

        Again with how labels like wingnut are unjust. Yet your posturing in this thread is somehow high-minded and fair?
        Also, please define liberal intellectual, and incorporate how you think you fit in that description. Florian would definitely like to have a word with you. You have so much in common… At least, a belief in the infallibility of your respective BS.

        Reply
      2. Ocean

        David, in terms of your last paragraph, I know what you mean in terms of an international view of Obama. True, for many Obama is right of center and very removed from the left in many, many issues and strategies.

        But, your statement about what liberal intellectuals think about Obama is still missing the perspective of where Obama is in relationship to his opponents. From an international liberal intellectual, positions like the ones the far right and the Republican Party have are unimaginable. They are so regressive and absurd, that people in other countries can’t even evaluate them because they sound extraordinarily anachronic.

        Have those international opinion holders immersed themselves in what the Republican Party stands for these days, and I’ll doubt anyone will be left with the same level of criticism of Obama. The right in this country has become so extreme that it’s sobering. Relatively speaking, Obama is a most valuable treasure.

        I do wonder whether you pay attention to what’s going on around the country with the right. And if you do, well, I don’t know how you put that in perspective or whether you’re somehow compartmentalizing that information. Or it just so happens that because we’re all her supporting Obama, you feel compelled to give the antagonistic view for balance or because you think we’re blind to his shortcomings. We’re all trying to express that we are aware of the shortcomings, but still the alternative is so awful that we don’t even bother questioning most of the stuff. We seem to be mostly focusing on a re-election. After that’s secured, then we’ll start to talk about what else we need to accomplish our goals.

        Reply
      3. Steph

        Um, I don’t think anyone here abdicates critical judgment or lionizes Obama. It is true that if you see the current powers that be in the Republicans as pretty fucking extreme and willing to burn down the whole country in pursuit of political advantage or certain goals — which I think many of us here do –you will find more idiotic the Gush/Bore argument. But that’s not because Obama is seen as beyond criticism, but because we think the claim that he’s basically just the same as or just as bad as Romney or the Tea Party or whoever is ridiculous.

        As I’ve said before, the far right has been very successful in pushing their agenda. They do so by being critical of moderate Republicans, but NEVER by tearing them down in favor of liberals. They are much more strategic. My particular desire for leftward movement is different than yours, but my problem with you is not your ideas but that you consistently want to punish those who don’t perfectly agree with you in a way that makes leftward movement far less likely.

        On the particular topic of this thread, you just assume that everyone agrees with you that there’s a clear and obvious difference between the positions “gay marriage should be legal” and “we should create a category of “civil unions” that would extend all the rights of marriage to gay couples.” While I have consistently supported gay marriage and not civil unions for years, I think the idea that the latter position is immoral and not a good faith one, one that should never be held, whatever the possibility for compromise that doesn’t exist with the former, is ridiculous.

        Frankly, if things weren’t changing as fast as they are re gay marriage — something we didn’t expect even 10 years ago — and if it seemed that civil unions had a greater change of success, then I think Obama’s former position would be a perfectly good one. That’s why a lot of Dems tried out that position in the late 90s and 00s.

        Do I think Obama was really uncomfortable with the idea of gay “marriage”? No, probably not, but I also don’t think there’s anything wrong with him being understanding of the fact that the idea of “gay marriage” seemed just an impossibility, a change in the language, a reinvention to some and thus might stand as an obstacle to what he wanted to achieve — equality — in a way that civil unions don’t.

        Note that the real opponents to gay marriage aren’t in favor of civil unions. See North Carolina. It’s not the right strategy, but it’s not the kind of flip flop you are presenting it as.

        (And I say that as someone who thinks that flip flops can be perfectly well justified, so I wouldn’t care if it was. It’s just wrong here.)

        Reply
        1. Wonderment

          It’s a nice defense of Obama’s thinking, but the more parsimonious one (consistent with everything we know about elections) is that Obama flip-flopped.

          You’ve argued yourself into a position (Romney’s actually) in which no one can never really flip-flop about anything. People “evolve,” even when they say they’ll be better than Bobby Kennedy on gay rights and turn out to far worse, even when they say they’re pro-choice, then have an epiphany and discover the “sanctity of all life” and become anti-abortion. It’s just a coincidence that they do so when it’s politically convenient, and we should always listen to their (lame and unpersuasive) election-year justifications, while conferring on them the benefit of the integrity doubt, because they are deep thinkers. In a way, it’s deeply American and poetic:

          “Do I contradict myself?
          Very well then I contradict myself,
          (I am large, I contain multitudes.)” — Whitman

          Reply
          1. Steph

            You’ve argued yourself into a position (Romney’s actually) in which no one can never really flip-flop about anything.

            No, I really haven’t. I can’t see any basis for such a claim. I don’t care about flip flopping per se (as opposed to particular types of flip flops), but I recognize it when I see it. Moving slightly on a spectrum on an issue on which lots of people’s opinions have been in flux is not flip flopping. Moving from one extreme to another (see Romney) is, although the flip flopping is actually not the problem with Romney or, I should say, with Romney if one is a social conservative concerned about his loyalty to the cause.

            If I were someone who voted on abortion, my problem with Romney wouldn’t be that he’d once been pro choice. A ton of pro lifers once were pro choice, and they see the epiphany on the issue as a likely thing. The problem would be that Romney won’t admit he ever had a different position, so it’s harder to trust him now. (For the record, I think it’s more likely he was lying about being pro choice, but really just doesn’t care about the issue.)

            Obviously, there’s no connection with Obama and gay marriage now, in that his actions have shown him to be basically pro gay marriage/civil unions throughout and to have furthered the evolution of the country on the issue.

            Reply
          2. graz Post author

            How special that your sniping has been glossed over by the more accommodating of the bunch. I imagine that they’re willing to extend undeserved respect out of a desire for peace. It’s noble of them, to put your “supposed” values into action. We’ve heard you talk a good game, maybe we’ll have the privilege to witness it sometime. Perhaps not?

            Reply
            1. Ocean

              ???

              Who is the more accommodating?

              What? Am I supposed to get on an airplane to California, find Wonderment and slap him because I disagree with him? ;)

              No, seriously, what else is there to say? Most of us disagree with Wonderment on this. Most of us have expressed our opinion.

              Speculating about his intentions or what may be behind it seems to be besides the point. I’m not part of a jury that has to adjudicate a judgment or sentence for or against him.

              If I find I disagree a lot with him, well, that’s what it is. Maybe I won’t pay so much attention to his comments. Maybe I will be more careful when I read him, because I’m now aware that there are very significant differences in opinion.

              But I’m not sure what accommodations would mean in this case? Am I expected to curse him or you when I don’t like something you write?

              Tell me, bro, and I’ll start practicing. I prefer to insult in Spanish though.

              Reply
              1. graz Post author

                It’s okay that the old peacenik gets a special dispensation. He’s obviously too fragile to respond to direct critiques. He just refuses to engage on the subject of achieving desired ends via compromise (As Twin succinctly noted). Plus the beauty of his obstinence allows him to remain pure in his eyes.

                I find no fault with your approach. Just didn’t want to let him weasel away without a remark. It goes way beyond disagreement. It’s personal. But he’s been dodging reality at least since the Vietnam draft … and so it goes.

                Reply
  14. claymisher

    Back in 1996 Obama was a black guy with a funny name who need white Hyde Park liberals to vote for him. In 2008 Obama was a black guy with a funny name who need people in Indiana, North Carolina, and Virginia to vote for him. I can cut him some slack for how he talked about the issue over the years. As president he’s put a ton of points on the board, which matters a lot more than how he talks.

    Reply
    1. Steph

      Also, in ’96 people were still working out the issue. I don’t think Obama was saying gay marriage vs. civil unions in ’96, but gay marriage vs. nothing, and thus I don’t think him saying “I think civil unions vs. gay marriage is a better strategy” just a few years later is particularly odd or inconsistent. Like I said above, during the same period I went from hearing about gay marriage as a thing and thinking sure, and then to thinking about it as an issue and the stumbling blocks for people and thinking sure, civil unions might make more sense, to figuring out that I disapprove of civil unions and would prefer gay marriage.

      Obama’s more liberal than I am on social issues, probably, so it doesn’t surprise me that he wouldn’t dislike civil unions like I do. He’s also a politician, so I can see him clinging to the idea that civil unions might avoid some of the backlash and still achieve all that is important.

      (Also, legally, once we have civil unions in place the legal argument for them being deemed marriage might be easier, as the Prop 8 decision suggests. Obama could even have been thinking about this. I’m certain he was thinking that once we had civil unions it social move to marriage would be easier, as seeing it in practice changing people’s opinions.)

      Reply

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