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Going back over Sally Quinn’s legendary “villager” article from the late Clinton era, what’s most depressing is just how relevant it still largely is, how little the thinking has changed. I actually had to take a breather after reading this:

“People felt a reverent attitude toward 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue,” says Tish Baldrige, who once worked there as Jacqueline Kennedy’s social secretary and has been a frequent visitor since. “Now it’s gone, now it’s sleaze and dirt. We all feel terribly let down. It’s very emotional. We want there to be standards. We’re used to standards. When you think back to other presidents, they all had a lot of class. That’s nonexistent now. It’s sad for people in the White House. . . . I’ve never seen such bad morale in my life. They’re not proud of their chief.”

Nor should there be, since as we know there was zero sexual infidelity during the Kennedy Administration, and it’s a shame that Clinton couldn’t live up to the Emily Post standards of the Johnson and Nixon Administrations. This bit is not only unaware but also utterly childish in its inability to appreciate nuance. Our elites seem to have the emotionally-stunted worldview of late-teenagers who go from seeing their idols as perfect heroes to bullshit sellouts, which is not really a development so much as the other side of the same coin. In this case it’s still binary thinking that either worships the president, or treats him as the sole wrong thing with the country. Lewinsky is long past, but the same folks blame Obama for not being able to get Republicans to agree to things they’ll never agree to, and for a while all but worshiped the unsuccessful Bush presidency because he grabbed a bullhorn at Ground Zero. If ever there were a better argument for moving the nation’s capital–basically to get away from these people–I am unaware of it.

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tsa screening2I shit you not:

This afternoon, the TSA published an announcement stating that passengers boarding flights to the US from “certain overseas airports” (the specific airports go unnamed) will first need to prove that “all electronic devices” they’ve packed can be powered up. No power? No flight — at least not while you’re carrying that dead device.

Security Theater just keeps getting worse and worse.

Day 1: We announce that you can’t bring a dead electronic device through security.

Day 2: Terrorists put their nefarious WMD in an electronic device that isn’t designed to be powered on.

But hey, no big deal, because furriners.

common-law-marriageAs a gay lawyer pondering the marriage equality issue for a long time, one of the key strategic advantages of gay marriage over [ugh] “civil unions” is that any laws that deal with married people are already written to include “married” people.  For example, half the states in the U.S. prohibit discrimination in housing and employment due to “marital status”.  Bingo: gay gets married + you discriminate based on that marital status = illegal.

Thus, it’s always (partially) surprising to me that articles like this never deal with the “existing marriage laws” angle:

The U.S. Constitution protects gay people’s right to marry the person they love. It does not, however, protect them from getting fired for doing so. Throughout the first decade of marriage equality, most states that legalized gay marriage also proscribed anti-gay employment discrimination, rendering this legal dissonance moot. But as more and more states find marriage equality foisted upon them by a judicial mandate, this discordance in rights presents something of a ticking time bomb for the LGBT movement. […]

Thanks to federal lawsuits, judges are already considering the idea that existing law outlaws anti-gay discrimination in every state and that the Constitution guarantees same-sex adoption rights. The same logic that shoehorns anti-gay discrimination into sex discrimination could be used to turn the Fair Housing Act’s sex discrimination clause into a protection for LGBT people.

Anyone who’s been exposed to any state legislature will know that passing any new law that includes precise, targeted revisions to existing law(s) is far more difficult because shiny new sexy laws dealing with texting while driving and teen sexting have that so-enticing new car smell (for the children).

Thus, coming up with an all-new, kludgy, “separate but kinda equal” concept like civil unions requires both passing the new shiny law (admittedly tough for a topic like this), but it also requires a herculean exercise of reconciling nearly every state law — large, medium and teeny-tiny — to awkwardly wedge a “civil union” alongside its “marriage” counterpart.  (And don’t even get me started on local county/parish/city/township laws, regulations and ordinances.)  When you, as a legislature, have such a daunting task as that, you inevitably tend to limit your efforts on a few key, high-impact issues such as non-discrimination in employment and housing.  But countless other thousands don’t get the attention they deserve.  (This of course assumes that the state’s civil union law isn’t written as a sweeping, unqualified “in every instance, a ‘civil union’ shall be deemed to equal to a ‘marriage’ in all respects” — but (surprise) none of them are written that way.)

When you go full marriage equality, the analysis changes.  Like I sad, “marriage” is already written in!  It’s written into laws, it’s written into company policies, its written into hospital admittance policies, etc.   All of this comes with some important caveats, including, e.g., a hospital can refuse to follow their written policies (because jeebus), or, a superseding constitutional amendment may be on the books banning recognition of gay marriages.

Anyway, just one more arrow in the quiver.  I just wish it would get talked about a bit more.

I honestly wonder what a complete US withdrawal from the Middle East would look like for us. I don’t think it would completely eliminate terror aimed at us–our support of Israel would still be a big sore spot, and while the notion that they attack us because “they hate our freedom” remains illogical and stupid, being #1 does mean you’re a target for all manner of people to take out their frustrations. I don’t think it would be a panacea. But I also think that there wouldn’t be much of a downside for America, being as we’ve proven entirely unable to shape or even respond to events there that “we” want to respond to, and eliminating one of the most-cited extremist grievances couldn’t hurt. Don’t know how much that reduces the threat, but even if it reduces it by a small amount, that’s a lot of money and lives we save with basically zero opportunity cost. Seems like a pretty good deal for me.

Of course, basically no politicians endorse this. I don’t really understand why. I mean, sure, Israel, but they’re the regional powerhouse at this point, and they survived for the first forty years of their existence when we didn’t station troops in the region (and when they were relatively weaker). Part of it may be that we’ve developed this region as the Ireland to our England, just keeping on with the rough tactics until we have “justified” all the resources we wasted on some unwise/narcissistic statebuilding project, until some futuristic George Mitchell puts it to rights. Undoubtedly much has to do with a three-letter word that begins with two vowels, though it needs to constantly be said that if the main goal of all this policy is to keep us from buying oil from people we don’t like, then our choices of allies in the region (e.g. Saudi Arabia) doesn’t make any sense. Nor does any of the rest of it.

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At this point, I am rooting for the wingnuts and the Koch Brothers to kill the Export-Import Bank. I don’t really think it will happen because John Boehner asks how high when business tells him to jump, but it’s possible. But I don’t really fault Obama for flip-flopping on it: as a candidate he could threaten to shut down all manner of programs; as president, every job loss and economic twist is on him, and it’s possible that killing off some prime Boeing subsidies would do just that. I’m less understanding of why any liberal who doesn’t represent Washington State in Congress would all of a sudden start worshipping the program, though.

Here’s a Netflix Recommendation: the Al Pacino masterpiece Serpico. Because America wasn’t just built by a bunch of bewigged Virginians or by soldiers, but also by normal people fanatically pursuing justice and reform at enormous cost. They deserve some recognition too.

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Via PWire, this merely confirms what I suspected:

Already the members of the Congressional Black Caucus are talking about what they want Cochran to do. The wish list is filling up with ideas like maintaining funding for food stamps, beefing up programs that help poor blacks in Mississippi and even supporting the Voting Rights Act.

“Absolutely we have expectations,’’ Rep Marcia Fudge (D-Ohio) said in an interview.

 And while Cochran beat back a tea party challenger last week by reminding voters, particularly black voters, that he brings home the federal bucks, the policy asks are far more liberal than much of what the moderate Republican has championed in his four decades in office.

But that’s the Washington game. Cochran asked for a favor, and now his new supporters are plotting how to cash it in.

My strong suspicion is that Thad Cochran’s offer will be nothing, and that he’ll go on doing what he’s been doing. The time to secure promises in exchange for support was before the runoff. Double-crossing will be only too easy for him now that we know nothing specific was promised. Sure, that would make Thad Cochran even more hated than he already is, but he’s already gotten what he wanted.

Title reference:

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