July 5th, 2011

Ken Mehlman on Gay Marriage in WaPo

http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/the-rise-of-zombie-liberalism-half-dead-half-alive/2011/06/29/AG0934tH_story.html

"Ken Mehlman, a former Republican Party chairman who is openly gay and was active in the New York lobbying effort, puts it more bluntly. Same-sex marriage is a more successful part of the liberal agenda, he contends, because it’s not necessarily liberal. “This is an issue where there are important conservative arguments for people being treated equally under the law,” he said. “If you believe in maximum freedom and that it’s important to promote strong families and that the golden rule is a good thing to follow, all of those things argue for allowing people to marry the people they love.”"

I think there's a substantial consensus that the Republican Party in its current formulation is not stable, and that both parties are lagging a nationwide trend in favor of gay marriage. Mehlman is attempting to carve out space for a not-Democratic Party that has some ideological cohesion but does not revolve around hating gays and abortion.

There are a lot of efforts around in the country at every level to redefine what it means to be Republican. I think this is visible in things like the anti-collective bargaining legislation (individualism! That's ideologically coherent for Republicans. Also pro-business. Very coherent). But there's also a lot of the same-old-same-old (protecting corporate tax breaks and generally making the tax code more regressive, not to mention cutting funding for Planned Parenthood and writing regulations to eliminate providers of abortions). I don't think the Party has much of a chance of surviving on the same-old-same-old alone; however, that doesn't necessarily predict where it will go in the future -- or even if it will continue to exist as "The Republican Party". One of the effects of recent Supreme Court cases like Citizens United has been to make it possible to dismantle many of the functions of a political party (fund raising in general and Get Out the Vote efforts) and have decentralized organizations fulfill them in a less-transparent way.

But I think you cannot get away from needing a slate of candidates and a rhetorical structure and/or ideology to hold it all together. That is the piece in contention right now.

ETA: R. and I had no answer between us to the following question: is there a conservative population which could be described as "pro gay marriage" as a family values issue, but which would continue to oppose reproductive rights?

Such a population _does_ exist and is probably best represented by this group:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pro-Life_Alliance_of_Gays_and_Lesbians

I'm unclear on the status of the Log Cabin Republicans on the reproductive rights issue -- and I think everyone else is a little unclear on it, too.

some definitions

There's been a lot of talk about "default". Because many of the people who are engaged in this conversation come from a finance background, they think of it like this:

http://financial-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com/default

Specifically, they think of it in the bond terms (not making principal and/or interest payments in a timely fashion). Because our current use of the term is with respect to a government, the more relevant aspect is this: failure to meet one's "obligations". Which is more than just making payments to debt holders.

The finance/bond aspect that _is_ important is the "timely" part -- but it's hard to know precisely how important. Almost everyone would rather have their money late than not at all. I'm bringing this up because I'm hearing and reading news coverage that indicates that people are not as upset by the idea that somebody got their money a little late as they are by the word "default" -- and I think that those should be completely equivalent. I'm not sure why they aren't.

While I'm here:

http://financial-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com/recession

The "current" recession has been over for a while. Real GDP hasn't been falling for a while now. Some people are still talking about the possibility of a "double dip" recession (falling GDP, then a short period of rising GDP, then falling again), however, we've been out for long enough now that even if we dropped back into it, it would not meet many definitions of a double dip.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Late-2000s_recession

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Double-dip_recession#W-shaped_recession

And while I'm at it, there are some Republican presidential candidates out there bandying about number of jobs supposedly promised by Obama that are risible.

http://www.deathandtaxesmag.com/113763/rick-santorum-is-a-fucking-idiot-video/

I saw the clip of Santorum on Countdown and this is the first coverage that shows up if you google "santorum 240 million jobs". You may not be as amused as I was. I'm prepared to allow _one_ order of magnitude error between friends. But Santorum is not a friend, and this is _two_ orders of magnitude. I don't think that many people can legally _have_ jobs in this country. An error of this flavor indicates a degree of ignorance of the size of our population that is probably incompatible with good governance.