Of course I'm liberal, I believe in liberty.

Friday, February 11, 2005


Thursday, February 10, 2005

Dr. Dean

It's interesting reading all the reactions to the likelihood Dean will be the new DNC chair: activist liberals rejoice, traditional Democrats shake in their boots, Republicans thank us, centrists think the choice is crazy, and on and on. The one think virtually everyone agrees on is this is a huge, Earth-shattering event; that this somehow changes everything. Everyone is wrong; Dean is simply a good, reasonable choice.

Dean was not my first choice, that would have been Rosenberg, but he was my second choice. I believe the two most obvious characteristics of Dean -- 1) he's already a hero and 2) he's already a villain -- basically cancel each other out. In fact, I'm fairly certain his ability to get all this extra attention will be a net positive. Dean has a reputation as a wild-eye, crazy, hard left liberal but in reality that's really a description of his followers more then Dean himself. During the primaries his followers were constantly reminding us that Dean has an A+ rating from the NRA and was considered by all as a centrist governor. The typical reply pointed out Dean was the worst of all worlds, further to the right than anyone but Lieberman while having the reputation of being a hard core leftist.

But we did always point out that while we didn't like Dean for president, we really like the idea of Dean for DNC. Well, here we are. And now his reputation should work to his advantage as people watching him on tv will expect someone far more radical than he really is.

The Democratic party is in serious need of reform and I believe among those competing for DNC only Rosenberg and Dean really understand that. Dean won't be as good as Rosenberg on these issues and has fewer good ideas for reform, but at least he understands. I'm still hoping, in fact, that Dean brings in Rosenberg as a deputy chair or some other capacity.

But mostly I think he'll be good at two of the more important DNC activities: raising money and getting more good Democrats to run for local offices across the country.

The most reasonable assessment of Chairman Dean I found is (surprisingly) over at NewDonkey, a centrist DLC blog. Here is what it has to say:
I did a post back in November wondering why he wanted the job. I also suggested that the DNC was pretty much an empty fortress where there wouldn't be any resistance to Dean-style ideas about netroots-based fundraising and organizing, or for that matter, a fighting partisan tone (out-Republican-bashing Terry McAuliffe would be a pretty tall order). And I continue to believe that those Deanies who think his chairmanship represents some sort of revolution are going to be disappointed by the warm welcome they will get over on South Capitol Street, where the only heads available to put on a pike will be those of the failed political consultants who have (I hope) received their last checks from the DNC.

But none of that really matters. The Doctor's campaign for the party chairmanship focused on the need to broaden the party's financial base, tap the activist energy so evident in 2004, and rebuild threadbare state party infrastructures nationwide. And he has consistently said he won't engage in policy or ideological fights that will get in the way of that task, usurp the policy-making role of elected officials, or disturb party unity.
The DNC's unique role is to deal with activists, money, mechanics, and party reform, and Howard Dean brings a strong resume and considerable enthusiasm to those tasks. Expanding the base, developing a winning message, and articulating a progressive reform agenda--those are tasks in which all Democrats must participate, and where the main impetus must come far from South Capitol Street, out there in the heartland and its electoral battlegrounds.

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Bleeding Heart

Man, I really am a bleeding heart liberal. Reading more of Maya Keyes' personal blog has really gotten to me. I'm really not that concerned about Maya herself, it's clear she is strong enough to get through all this. But others may not be so strong:

Shymmer is, to begin with, one of my best friends on earth.  He is, as his boyfriend Shiva puts it, "one of those kids with starlight in his eyes - the world still surprises him, in the good ways."  His first street name was Funshine, after the Care Bear; because he's one of those people who is always trying to make everyone around him happy, no matter what hell he's going through at the moment.
And he has been through a lot of it.
Shymmer was kicked out of his house a few years ago, the summer after his junior year in high school, because he is gay and his parents are conservative.  Sounds familiar?
But unlike me, Shymmer's parents aren't famous, and he didn't have a huge online community supporting him.  So Shymmer, for the past few years, has been actually out on the streets.  He did manage to finish high school (like me also, he was Ivy-League accepted, but never made it to college - he was in my graduating year, 2003) but since then has been wandering.  Any of you who deal with street kids at all will know at least somewhat what the streets can do to people - after a couple years it has certainly taken its toll on Shymm.  He went from a bright cheerful kid with a potentially bright future to something of a wreck, having been beaten, raped, and otherwise abused during his time on the streets more than I like to think about.  He ended up here where I am - in Chicago - on heroin and selling himself, until Shiva brought him back to DC and he cleaned up.  But even off heroin and with Skyzombie's roof over his head, all the abuse is hard to get rid of, and emotionally he's just not been in a good place.

And there are so many more kids like him - For years a good number of my friends have been street kids I've known so many gay kids out on the streets who end up dead or on the streets forever.  (I wrote a post about something like this over the summer...) They've been in situations like mine but didn't have thousands of people watching and ready to help them stand on their feet again.

So all this support I'm getting is overwhelming but... I haven't done anything to deserve this.  It's not right that anyone should be in this situation, no; but I'm not the only one, there are thousands more and what help are they getting?

I suppose that more than anything this has just reminded me even more why Bria and I for so long have wanted to start a GLBT youth center; a place where queer homeless kids especially can find support - run by people who actually know what it's like to be in their position...

But, again, thank you all. You all are amazing.  Just don't forget all the others out there like me...

Shymmer, who'd been staying with Skyzombie, had been doing really, really, really not well.  Somehow its always more depressing when Shymmer, our own little Funshine Bear, is doing badly - Shymmer depressed is such a drastic contrast to Shymmer in his usual bouncy cheerful let's-go-make-the-world-sparkly natural state that when he gets in really bad condition it's frightening.  But as Sky mentioned in his last post, Shymmer's been depressed, cutting, not eating again...   the day before yesterday (I think. I'm losing track of days) Sky was going to take him down to the hospital because he'd starved himself back to an unhealthily low weight and we all (Shymmer included) thought that a stay in a psyche ward for a while would be preferable to starving himself to death.  So they agreed that after Skyzombie finished teaching his last class of the day they'd take him in - except then, as I just found out, when Sky got back to his house Shymmer was gone.  Either he or one of his alters decided that hospitalization wasn't gonna work for them, I guess, and it appears that he just took off and hit the streets again. So now we have one missing anorexic queer... everybody, please keep our Anjul in your prayers. He needs them, badly.
Thankfully, just tonight she posts "they found shymmer." By the time I got around to looking at tonight's post, reading backward through the past several, I found I really cared. She also made the following post a Kos
-I have been out to my parents for a while now, yes. While this caused a lot of tension and has often brought up the POSSIBILITY of this whole me-getting-cut-off business, the final straw in all this was not simply that I am queer but that I am queer and an activist. i.e., it was bad enough that I'm queer but so long as I was quiet about it that was okay.

-To whoever was going on about maybe this is because I'm a slacker who won't go to school or get a job: I had a job. That I was just fired from. By my dad. So it is true that I don't have a job - NOW.
And I am going to be going to Brown University in the fall, once I figure out how to finance that.

-It feels strangest of all to me that this is suddenly a big deal, because over the years I've had three good friends and known any number [of more] street kids who were, just like me, cut off by their families after coming out. Anyone who read my blog over a LONG period of time would know that for years now, long before anyone on the internet knew who I was, I have wanted to start a youth center to help GLBT kids and GLBT street kids, especially. At first I was really upset that this whole deal about me is becoming gossip again, but I just pray that it will make more people take notice of the THOUSANDS more like me who find themselves in this situation EVERY DAY.
In the long run, the number one thing we can do to help kids like this is create a society where parents don't feel the need to push these kids away. There will always be bad parents, of course, this problem does not need to be so common. This goal is not incompatible with Christianity, but it is incompatible with fundamentalism. How do we reject fundamentalism without causing the fundamentalists to feel persecuted? I'm not sure. That persecution complex always seems to be their greatest strength. I'm sure the solution involves love and providing an alternative story, say one centered around the teachings of Jesus instead of Deuteronomy. You'll notice from her writing Maya is an extremely faithful Christian.

Maya Marcel-Keyes

Some time last summer I learned that Alan Keyes' daughter, Maya Marcel-Keyes, was gay. Apparently Alan just learned, or at least accepted, this a week ago. He kicked his daughter out onto the street. This makes me so sad, so disgusted, so.... I wish I was a better writer... From Maya's personal blog:
Sunday, January 30, 2005

{{--{mood}--{{but there's still tomorrow, forget the sorrow; and I can be on the last train home}}--{mood}--}}
...except the last train home has left without me

I tried to love you and I failed...

Well, it's happened.  Finally and officially. 

A couple days ago I got my official two-week warning that I have to be out of this apartment; so finally for real I'm getting cut off.  I got no severance or anything like that from my sudden termination of employment (don't I have freedom of speech? the right to protest Bush without losing my job? Hehe... most people would think that working under a parent would be security but for me it's quite the opposite.) and so I definitely don't have anywhere near enough cash to find a new apartment; not even one room rented from someone anywhere.  I've been searching craigslist but even places where I'd have enough to pay the first month's rent on some room I never have enough for the deposit as well, so so far I've had no luck at all finding a new home, since shelter requires money. Sad boo.

After all the arguments and tension over the years, I always hoped it would never actually get to this point, although I suppose given our vastly divergent political beliefs it was inevitable.

My A n j u l s say no, no, it was not inevitable at all and this should never have happened.  They say that parents have some modicum of responsibility to their kids - at least so far as making sure they are not homeless and starving - especially if their kids have done nothing aside from thinking for themselves. They say that different political beliefs should not lead to parents kicking kids out of the house. They say most parents would be thrilled to have a child who doesn't smoke, have sex, do drugs, hardly drinks; more thrilled to have a child who additionally does well in school, is active on all sorts of extracurriculars, gets good grades, gets into the Ivy League; even more thrilled to have a child who on top of that goes regularly to church, spends free time mentoring kids and serving food to homeless people; even more thrilled to have a child to on top of that is not only politically aware but actively going out to try and fight for the causes she believes in, considering the political apathy of most teenagers.  They say that if all the above didn't cause parents to be thanking God every day for the child they were blessed with, that they certainly would be after the child puts off college for a year (wait, no, for ANOTHER year, since said child already deferred one year to go teach in India) to go support her father in his work.  They say that I'm a good daughter, that I changed around my whole plans just because I thought it would be nicer for my dad if after the end of working all the time on the campaign trail he could come back to someone who loves him rather than an empty house.  They say that it should be a source of pride, not of shame, for my parents that I'm so passionate about my beliefs, and work for what I believe in; even if they are not the beliefs my parents hold.  They say that the only possible cause for shame anywhere in the whole situation is in the fact that after all this I am being cut off, jobless, soon to be homeless, and that although I have intelligence and motivation I won't be able to go to Brown after all because I have no money.

So my Anjuls say.

My parents say otherwise.

{{--{spinning}--{{Lostprophets - Last Train Home}}--{spinning}--}}

The pain reading that is almost unbearable, imagine the pain writing it.

I know not all conservatives are like this, Dick Cheney seems to deal with it better, but still... this is where the path of hate leads.

(Via the guy who quit blogging, Kos, Oliver Willis and Maya's identity, which isn't obvious from the site itself, confirmed with this followup post.)

Brave Iranian Blogger

From the L.A. Times:
TEHRAN — "Excuse me, Miss, but here in my hand I have a warrant for your arrest," said a middle-aged man with a few days' growth of beard. "Please do not make any noise as you walk calmly to the Mercedes parked at the corner."
I was taken to a room down a long corridor and told to sit down. A fat hand with an agate stone ring set an interrogation form in front of me. Then he began asking about my Web log, which has hyperlinks on it to Western feminist groups.

"Do you accept the charges?" the interrogator asked.

"What charges?"

"That you have written things in your Web log that go against the Islamic system and that encourage people to topple the system," he said. "You are inviting corrupt American liberalism to rule Iran."

"I've tried to write my ideas and opinions in my Web log and to communicate with others in Farsi all over the world," I said.

He was displeased.
Over the days that followed, I confessed to many things, including having had sex with my boyfriend, who has his own Web log. The admission filled me with guilt, both for having to discuss such intimate details and for having betrayed him. He is now complicit in the crime of extramarital sex.

I remained in prison for 36 days. Now I am awaiting trial. On my release I was reminded, "Be thankful to God that we arrested you. If you had been detained by the intelligence department of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards, they would surely have beaten you. Here you were our guest."

Before I departed I was politely asked to fill out a form seeking suggestions for improving conditions in the jail.

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Democratic Freedom

I added Logan Ferree's blog Democratic Freedom to the blogroll, which declares it is "Building the bridge between liberals and libertarians within the Democratic Party." I haven't read enough to see if he falls for the same trap most libertarians fall into: the fundamental belief that only government offers a threat to our liberties.

Conservatives Versus IDers

This was good to see, from The Corner (via Kevin Drum):
Just a round-up of points from the ID folder.

First, a general remark. I like a good knock-down argument as much as the next person, but I must say, ID-ers are low-grade opponents, at least if a bulk of my e-mails are any indication. They are still banging away with the arguments I first heard when the whole thing first surfaced 10-15 yrs ago. "What use is half an eye?" "The odds against this are a trillion to one!" etc. etc. There is nothing new here. I understand why biologists get angry and frustrated with ID-ers. All the ID arguments have been patiently refuted many times over. The ID-ers response is to come back with... the same arguments.

Anyway, here are a few of the commonest things I hear.
Go read the whole thing.

Those promoting Intelligent Design are an interesting lot. I've been meaning to write about the evolution-creationism spectrum and what various people believe, but one of the interesting things is IDers don't seem to be promoting anything in particular. Near as I can tell, they just look at evolutionary theory and criticize it and they've come up with a serious of somewhat sophisticated arguments to do this, but they don't promote any particular theory of their own. If you draw a line, put the pure Biblical creationists on one side and the pure Godless evolutionists on the other, filling out all the shades in between, IDers aren't even on the line. ID is a methodology, not an ideology; a tactic, not a belief or theory.

By the way, Kevin states (referring to this):
For those who haven't followed this issue, Behe is referring to the fact that IDers accept the idea of macroevolution — that one animal can evolve from another — but not the existence of microevolution. Behe, for example, argues that some of machinery deep within the cell is too complex to have evolved by random mutation and natural selection.
Kevin needs to be careful, while he gives the accepted definition of macroevolution, he uses a reasonable but unconventional definition of microevolution. Microevolution usually refers to evolution that occurs within a species, something even the hardcore creationists accept these days. Though, some creationists have stopped using the word, preferring to focus on loss/gain of information and evolution within kind. (Something else I've been meaning to write about -- I need to give up sleep altogether).

Monday, February 07, 2005

Boxing Rice

In his editorial The Boxer Metaphor, Victor Hanson makes the following claim:
Boxer protested, "Well you should read what we voted on when we voted to support the war," noting proudly that she was among the minority of senators who dissented. Then Boxer proclaimed of the professed reason to go to war: "It was WMD, period."

Boxer's statement was simply not true. Read the joint congressional declaration approved on Oct. 11, 2002, by Sen. Boxer's colleagues, whose leaders had access to the same intelligence as did the administration.
I've certainly seen Boxer go over the deep end before, but I didn't think she would make a mistake quite this large. I checked the actual transcript of Boxer's comments to see did make this mistake, but with qualification:
Well, you should read what we voted on when we voted to support the war, which I did not, but most of my colleagues did. It was WMD, period. That was the reason and the causation for that, you know, particular vote.
Ok, Boxer admits she didn't read the actual resolution (bad, but not really necessary for a 'no' vote, she didn't want war), but she did make the statement. Not good, but not quite as stupid or dishonest as I feared. Hanson himself was fairly disingenuous bringing up a point made in mid conversation that Boxer admitted she didn't really know much about.

This is the kind of arguing (Boxer) and punditry (Hanson) that just drives me nutty. It's all spin with no point and does nothing to help the dialog or get to the point, it just villanizes the opposition. Boxer's greater point, of course, is true. The selling point of the war was WMD, period. But the official resolution had every reason and excuse they could think of, almost including the kitchen sink, though certainly it emphasized WMDs:
Whereas the current Iraqi regime has demonstrated its capability and willingness to use weapons of mass destruction against other nations and its own people;

Whereas the current Iraqi regime has demonstrated its continuing hostility toward, and willingness to attack, the United States, including by attempting in 1993 to assassinate former President Bush and by firing on many thousands of occasions on United States and Coalition Armed Forces engaged in enforcing the resolutions of the United Nations Security Council;

Whereas members of al Qaida, an organization bearing responsibility for attacks on the United States, its citizens, and interests, including the attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001, are known to be in Iraq;

Whereas Iraq continues to aid and harbor other international terrorist organizations, including organizations that threaten the lives and safety of American citizens;

Whereas the attacks on the United States of September 11, 2001 underscored the gravity of the threat posed by the acquisition of weapons of mass destruction by international terrorist organizations;
That's just a small chunk, there were plenty of other whereases. However, the words "democracy", "freedom", "liberty" and "vote" do not appear in the resolution. And of course, most of these reasons have been disproved; no WMDs, no harboring of al Qaida terrorists, no 9/11 connections, etc.

One last thought: how many Americans who support this president and think the war was worth it based purely on the recent Iraqi elections remember that back in 1997 Iran had open elections? I'm guessing not many. Yes, the Iranian president is subservient to Ayatollah Ali Khamenei Islamic law, but the elections were not meaningless. At this exact moment in time I would consider Iran more of a democracy than Iraq, but if things shake out well in Iraq over the next year or so that should change. But this does offer a sobering perspective, does it not?

UPDATE: Hammertime is right in the comments, I misread Boxer's statement. That will be the last time I try to defend Boxer. Actually, it was the first time as well; I won't let it happen again. Ironically, I have a much greater respect for Rice's intelligence, which means I'm more likely to call Rice a liar and Boxer an idiot, all else being equal.

Sunday, February 06, 2005

Patriotism and Nationalism

Matt, once again, writes what I've been meaning to write for a long time. Please go read Patriotism and Nationalism, I agree with it one hundred percent. (Well, except the part about New York, clearly they are just full of themselves and the Best Coast could kick the Least Coast's ass any day!!) Oh, and I really agree about the Republicans treating what they call patriotism the same way they treat sports. That's not patriatism, that's nationalism.
The nationalist doesn't just have a special concern for his country. He has a kind of irrational attitude toward it. Like how Red Sox fans will scream -- perfectly sincerely -- "Yankees suck!" even when the Yankees, in fact, are a very skilled baseball team. But sports fans don't take an attitude of rational scrutiny toward their favorite team and its historical adversary. It would be contrary to the spirit of fandom. Now of course you can turn to the Red Sox fan and say, "actually, the Yankees have won all these baseball games, they're a very good team" and he won't say you're wrong. He's not an idiot, or blind to the facts. But the facts are beside the point. The nationalist, similarly, isn't unaware of his country's problems. He just doesn't really care. It's besides the point. The patriot feels a deep sense of shame when he finds out about Abu Ghraib and associated wrongdoings. "This is my country and look what's becoming of us." The nationalist hastens to note that the Syrians are worse, the French are hypocrites, and the leftists are only complaining about this because they didn't like the war on the first place so can't we move on please it was only a few bad apples and whatever atrocities may have happened on Guadalcanal hardly shows World War Two was a bad idea so let's shut up and move on why do you care so much about protecting the rights of terrorists anyway.

It's an attitude that's harmless enough, on its own terms. Life would be dull without irrational attachment to sports teams. Irrational attachment to city, neighborhood, state, peculiar folkways, etc. lends coherence to the personality. I think relatively few of us would want to move to Singapore, teach at a university there, and raise our kids in postmodern East Asia, even if in the course of things it seemed to suggest itself as the rational course of action. But competition in sports is friendly and bounded by rules. Except for the occassional riot after a fan throws a cup at a player's head, no real harm is done and a good time is had by all. The disdain of the New Yorker for Washington, Boston, or the airheads of the west coast is just a part of life, like the Texas pride of my roommates. In the international sphere, though, people get hurt. We have a tendency to settle our differences with bombs and bullets and torture. Sometimes, this really is the way to go. I'm no pacifist. It's a Hobbesian jungle out there and sometimes you've got to fight, and you've always got to be ready to fight. But when mistakes are made the consequences are, shall we say, rather severe. Corpses and missing limbs and so forth. It's the sort of thing you want to be applying a rational scrutiny to. A scrutiny shaped by a special love for one's own country, sure. But not the kind of love that blinds.

Patriotism, not nationalism. Though, yes, the fact that liberals tend not to be nationalists in a country where most people are holds us back. To most Americans, what John Kerry did in those Senate hearings after coming back from the war was very distasteful. Not because anyone really thinks Vietnam was a fantastic war in which no atrocities were committed, but just because even so nationalists don't think such things should be done. Dragging our country's name through the mud while the troops are in the field. Not very "rah, rah," that. It's a real problem.
Go read the whole thing.