Wednesday, October 31, 2012

The Taxman and Question 7

I've been thinking about this post for awhile, trying to boil it down to the essence, to shake off the unnecessary or confusing parts of the argument I want to make.  I'm using the suggestion of a friend - to write about Maryland's Question 7, which would increase the amount and type of legal gambling in Maryland - to springboard into a larger discussion.

I've spent a lot of time on tax policy, and tax policy is complex - needlessly so.  But there are underlying theories behind the tax decisions we make, and I've noticed that we almost never talk about them.  It may be due to the influence of guys like Grover Norquist, but the political discussion we have about taxes is almost entirely this:

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Down with FEMA!!!

OH strong Manhattan!
Manhattan, during Hurricane Sandy

During one of the 2011 GOP presidential debates sponsored by CNN, Mitt Romney argued that the Federal Emergency Management Agency should be disbanded and replaced by handing over the responsibility to the states to deal with their own emergencies.

Here’s what the Republican candidate had to say when asked whether FEMA should be shut down:

“Absolutely. Every time you have an occasion to take something from the federal government and send it back to the states, that’s the right direction. And if you can go even further, and send it back to the private sector, that’s even better. Instead of thinking, in the federal budget, what we should cut, we should ask the opposite question, what should we keep?”

When moderator, John King, responded “Including disaster relief, though?”, Mitt Romney had this to say—

“We cannot — we cannot afford to do those things without jeopardizing the future for our kids.It is simply immoral, in my view, for us to continue to rack up larger and larger debts and pass them on to our kids, knowing full well that we’ll all be dead and gone before it’s paid off. It makes no sense at all.

                                                                           -Forbes Magazine

“Gov. Romney believes that states should be in charge of emergency management in responding to storms and other natural disasters in their jurisdictions.  As the first responders, states are in the best position to aid affected individuals and communities, and to direct resources and assistance to where they are needed most. This includes help from the federal government and FEMA."

                                                                  -Statement by Romney spokesman Ryan Williams

Monday, October 29, 2012

I Enjoy Being a Girl: Gender Politics and the Modern Girl

She's leaning left.

I think it was the third time this election season that I was called - not to get out the vote as per usual, but to ask whether I would be supporting Obama - that I noticed the difference.

I'm a life-long Democrat.  I'm independent-minded in some ways, but there are a ton of areas where I think that Democrats view the world the right way, and act accordingly.  On social justice, on women's rights, on using the government to help the poor, the elderly, and the sick - I'm all D.  Therefore, I've never truly been tempted to vote Republican.

It did help that Kerry ran against W.  And even in my post-Hillary rage, I never would have voted to endanger the people (particularly the kids) who depend on the programs that only exist because of Democrats.

But apparently I now fit a certain demographic that is viewed as "up for grabs."  I think it's that I'm white, married, in my thirties, and I live in the suburbs.  But the thing about me that I think should belie those other facts is the fact that I am a woman.

Women lean left.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Friday Follies-Presidents and Personality

As we bring this 2012 election season to a close, people have discussed the personality of the two men running for President extensively. One of the measures used to discuss personality is the Myers-Briggs test. A quick explanation of the Myers-Briggs personality test, courtesy Wikipedia:

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Under Pressure: High Anxiety Linkage


Tis the season of the anxiety - if you're a person who gets passionate about politics.

My mom wouldn't watch the debates and won't talk about politics.  I'm avoiding most polls and predictions and only listening to the half of my podcasts that don't freak me out.  So if it's a story about scientific studies or Abraham Lincoln or a new play on Broadway, I'm your girl.  Ask me the current poll numbers?  Not so much.

But a few stories/ideas have permeated my anxious haze, and here they are:

1. Colin Powell Endorses Obama. 

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

The Will of God

..."even when life begins with that horrible situation of rape, that is something that God intended to happen." ...

"The only exception I have to have an abortion is in that case of the life of the mother. I struggled with it myself for a long time, but I came to realize that life is that gift from God and I think even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape that it is something God intended to happen."

                                       -Richard Mourdock, the Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate in Indiana

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

3 Reasons Why Romney Will Lose The Election

I had to.

Mandi depressed me yesterday, largely because of her astute analysis in culling out the most likely reasons that Obama would lose.

But the debate last night reinforced for me the many ways I think Romney is a weak candidate (even though it's possible he is still the strongest candidate the Republicans had this year).  And yes, I've already talked about 3 reasons why Romney DESERVES to lose, and 3 ways he is worse than W.  But those are different questions.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Live-Blog 4.0: Foreigners!

So this last live presidential debate will be all about foreign policy, widely considered to be Obama's strength and Romney's weakness.  Romney has made a series of missteps in the foreign policy arena this year, including insulting the British and Palestinians.  Romney has been on the attack against Obama recently regarding his handling of the attack in Libya.  While Romney was roundly criticized for his own reaction to the attack as well, he has since decided that the best defense is a good offense.  The last debate, his line of attack did not go so well:

So I guess tonight we shall see how Romney handles this issue.
  Follow us below the fold to follow along with us tonight...

3 Reasons Why Obama Will Lose The Election

On the eve of the last presidential debate, the national polls have President Obama and his opponent, former Massachusetts Governor Romney running neck and neck.  If Obama does falter and loses his re-election bid, these would be the top three reasons why:

Friday, October 19, 2012

Friday Follies: 6 Musical Politicians Edition

Binders of Women are played out.  And so I give you: 6 Musical Politicians (or 9, if you honestly think the Singing Senators should count as more than one musical person).

6. Nixon on piano...

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Linkage Is Good For You: Post-Debate Hangover Edition

George Washington Zombie Hunter
Little known fact:  George Washington was a zombie killer

Two days after the debate, and people are still talking about the effects, if any, the debate will have on the campaign.  If there are any reverberations, we won't know for a few days yet.  But there are other things out there in the world besides the presidential election, shocking, I know!  So here are some links to things I found of interest, some election related, and others not so much:

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

3 Ways Romney Is Worse Than W, and 1 Way They Are Both Lame

Yes, I mean it.  Romney is worse than W.

Last night was a good night for fans of the President.  But there was a question asked in the debate that underscored something I've been thinking about a lot lately: how are you (Mitt Romney) different than George W. Bush?  Romney prattled on about how he was better on trade (I doubt it), while the President talked about immigration and Medicare (referring to Medicare Part D, presumably).  But this is a larger and more important story than those answers give you.

Better than Romney?

Long-time readers will remember that a few months back I made the claim that George H.W. Bush is underrated.  I still think that.

But let's look at some of the ways that even George W. Bush was better than Mitt Romney.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Live-Blog 3.0: This Debate is Town-Hall-icious!

I love me some town hall action.  Nothing brings out the super-awkward in politicians like a town hall.

So in that vein, let's hope this debate is less boring than the first presidential debate.  And less lie-y.  And that the president stays awake.

Follow us below, where the action starts in...

It's A Black Thing: Do Black People Support Obama Just Because He's Black?


Snoop Dog's top ten reasons to vote for Obama, and top ten reasons to vote against Romney.  Besides being hilarious (look at number 5 on the Obama side, and number 9 on the Romney side), people are actually using this list and the recent dust-up with Stacy Dash supporting Romney to advance the notion that black people are only voting for Obama because he is black.  Is it true?

Monday, October 15, 2012

Voting Queen

The world of voting, according to Queen Emily
If there is one thing that is frustrating me the most about this election, it is the fact that people seem to be perfectly comfortable making voting decisions based on superficial factors.

As I mentioned after the first debate, a lot of the blame for this lies in the way the media is covering politics.  Which is to say: the media are collectively being lazy bums about politics.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Live-Blog 2.0: This Debate Is Veeptastic!

The last debate was just so awesomely good that we decided to live-blog again.

The one and only VP debate.

Follow us below the fold to the live action, starting in...

The War on Women, a Primer: Part Two

Happy International Day of the Girl!

Strong Enough for a Woman

So I've neglected my woman warrior duties because of the interesting twists and turns in the campaign over the last few weeks.  But as promised, in The War on Women, A Primer: Part One, I am back to talk about more of the many ways the Republican Party has been going after us ladies like there's no tomorrow.

And I have to give a big thank you to Mittens for helping me find my way home.  Governor Romney said: 

"There’s no legislation with regards to abortion that I’m familiar with that would become part of my agenda," on Tuesday, to The Des Moines Register.  [Emphasis mine.]

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Losing Our Religion

...That's me in the corner
That's me in the spotlight
Losing my religion...


It isn't because Obama is the Anti-Christ. More Americans than ever before identify as having "no religion".   According to a recent Pew survey, the number of Americans who do not identify with any religion continues to grow, as 20% of Americans and 33% of adults under 30 are religiously unaffiliated today. This include 13 million atheists and agnostics (almost 6% of the U.S. public),and almost 33 million people who have no particular religious affiliation (14%). What does that mean for Americans?

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Maryland Is for Lovers

Two of my favorite states, Maine and Maryland, could vote to allow gay marriage in a few weeks (Washington, also a great state, could do the same).

If you live in Maryland, please vote for equality, vote for Question 6.

I am a happily married straight girl with kids.  But this issue is personal for me - as it is for so very many people - because I have many gay friends, gay family friends I consider family, and because I believe in marriage.

Marriage is good for kids.  It helps provide stability - and the lawyer in me feels obligated to tell you that if things go wrong, civil marriage provides legal protections for everybody involved - particularly kids.  And while I respect the right of religious institutions to determine the boundaries of marriage for their religions, I do not respect people trying to outlaw families based on their gender.  As the synagogue near me so eloquently puts it: "Civil Marriage Is a Civil Right."

I'm happy to talk more about it, on the issue itself.  But today what I want to focus on is the evolution of gay marriage as an issue, and particularly how I see this election, this proposition, is being handled in Maryland.


If you've heard about the gay marriage referendum in Maryland, it's probably because of the kerfuffle over Baltimore Ravens player Brendon Ayanbadejo speaking out in favor of gay marriage, and a conservative African-American Maryland state delegate, Emmett Burns, Jr. writing a letter to the Ravens' owner suggesting that he muzzle Ayanbadejo on the issue.  Ayanbadejo is a thoughtful, respectful guy, and Burns really hurt his cause, to say nothing of seeming to forget about the First Amendment briefly.  Then NFL Player Chris Kluwe spoke up to defend Ayanbadejo, in both explicit and clean open letters to Delegate Burns.  And while the whole thing was engaging, that's not the real story about what's going on in Maryland.

1.  Maryland's Political Establishment Is On Board.  

Governor O'Malley Celebrating the Signing of our Gay Marriage Law

We have had a gradual, building, movement towards a law allowing gay marriage in Maryland.

  • The Legislature:  After several failed efforts to pass a bill, Maryland's House of Delegates approved the bill by a 72–67 vote on February 17, 2012 (with the help and guidance of House Speaker Michael Busch), and the Senate approved the bill by a 25-22 vote on February 23.   

  • Local Leaders:  Baltimore's Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake has come out in support of gay marriage, and has actively campaigned for Question 6.  

Maryland religious leaders (and Al Sharpton) who support gay marriage
2. Maryland is has a lot of religious people who support gay marriage.  Maryland has a long tradition of religious activism and religious tolerance.  Our state was founded by Catholics, and we had the first religious toleration policy in the Colonies.  There are many people of faith in Maryland.  And lots of them support gay marriage.  This is progress - there are a lot of congregations and religious groups who have come out vocally in favor of Question 6.

  • Marylanders for Marriage Equality has "partner" congregations and organizations that include:

    • Catholics - 
      • Catholics for Marriage Equality
      • Emmaus Faith Community of The Old Catholic Church
      • MD Catholics for Equality

    • Episcopalians - 
      • Episcopal Diocese of Maryland
      • St. George’s Episcopal Church

    • Jewish groups -
      • Adat Shalom Reconstructionist Congregation
      • American Jewish Congress- Maryland Chapter
      • Baltimore Hebrew Congregation
      • Bolton Street Synagogue
      • Chevrei Tzedek Congregation
      • Columbia Jewish Congregation
      • Howard County Board of Rabbis
      • Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Washington
      • Jews United for Justice
      • Temple Emanuel
      • Temple Micah
      • Temple Oheb Shalom’s
      • Union for Reform Judaism

    • Lutherans - 
      • St. Marks Lutheran Church

    • Mormons - 
      • Mormons for Marriage Equality

    • Presbyterians - 
      • Brown Memorial Park Avenue Presbyterian Church
      • Brown Memorial Presbyterian Church
      • Govans Presbyterian Church
      • The First and Franklin St. Presbyterian Church

    • Quakers - 
      • Baltimore Monthly Meeting, Stony Run
      • Homewood Friends Meeting (Quaker)
      • Little Falls Meeting of Friends

    • Unitarians - 
      • Cedar Lane Unitarian Church
      • First Unitarian Church of Baltimore
      • Paint Branch Unitarian Universalist Church
      • River Road Unitarian Universalist Congregation Social Justice Council
      • Towson Unitarian Universalist Church
      • Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Columbia
      • Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Frederick
      • Unitarian Universalist Church of Rockville
      • Unitarian Universalist Church of Silver Spring
      • Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Harford County
      • Unitarian Universalist Legislative Ministry of Maryland

    • United Church of Christ -  
      • Evangelical Reformed United Church of Christ
      • Grace United Church of Christ
      • United Church of Christ- Central Atlantic Conference
      • United Church of Christ- Seneca Valley
      • Westmoreland Congregational United Church of Christ
      • Veritas United Church of Christ

    • And a Lot of Others:
      • Christ Congregational Church
      • Columbia United Christian Church
      • Luther Place Memorial Church
      • MD Faith for Equality
      • Metropolitan Community Churches (MCC)
      • New Light Metropolitan Community Church
      • Rockville United Church
      • St. Sebastian Independent Catholic Community
      • Unity Fellowship of Baltimore

    3. The African-American community in Maryland has come much further over the last year toward supporting gay marriage.  Maryland has a large African-American population, and support for gay marriage (though not other gay rights) has traditionally lagged in the black community - particularly within conservative religious groups.  But in Maryland, attracting African-American support for gay marriage has been a focus, and it has yielded both impressive strides in national civil rights groups advocating gay rights, and in movement in the polls, too.

    Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy


      Mary and Dick Cheney (Mary Cheney is gay)
      4. Maryland is the kind of state where Republicans support gay marriage.

      The Republican Party has pretty much been against gay marriage - as a party.  Most of its leaders have been vocal in their opposition to gay marriage and even civil unions.  Hopefully, as younger folks move up in the Party, that will change.  Here in Maryland, we have a tradition of socially-liberal Republicans (the late Senator Charles "Mac" Mathias being a prominent one).  And part-time Marylander Dick Cheney and former Republican National Committee Chairman Ken Mehlman (who came out in 2010) lobbied in support of the same-sex marriage bill in Maryland.

      5. Personal Politics.

      One of the things I have appreciated so much about the campaign for marriage equality here has been how personal it has been.   I don't want to appropriate pictures, but if you go to the Marylanders for Marriage Equality Facebook page, you'll see hundreds of pictures of Marylanders, who've written on a white board why they support marriage equality.  There are also many videos of Marylanders talking about their own beliefs and stories.

      This personal approach, I believe, has made a difference.  It helps that the President took a prominent lead, too.  And while NOM is planning to put 2 million dollars into Maryland, to try to drive people to vote on fear, I am encouraged by the recent polling numbers:
      New Poll: 54% of Maryland Voters Would Protect Marriage Law 
      Marylanders for Marriage Equality today released a new poll showing voters approve of marriage for loving, committed gay and lesbian couples by a 14-point margin (54% to 40%). The poll was conducted by Hart Research last week. 
      “We continue to have the momentum,” said Josh Levin, campaign manager for Marylanders for Marriage Equality. ”Voters are having conversations on marriage around the dinner table and are agreeing that people should be treated fairly.” 
      African-American voters, the survey noted, are virtually evenly split between supporters (44%) and opponents (45%)  - a shift from just few months ago when opponents were up by nine points. The change is largely due to increased discussion of marriage equality following the endorsement of the issue by President Obama and the NAACP.

      Just one more video, because I think Al Sharpton underscores perhaps the most important point - if two gay people want to marry, much as when two straight people want to marry - it's really none of our business.

      Come on Maryland, make me proud.  Make us a leader in freedom.  Show the people who are standing in the way of marriage equality that their winning streak ends here.  Move forward.  Show the country how it's done when we support each other's families, each other's equality.  Vote for 6.

      Sunday, October 7, 2012

      Happy Columbus Day - And We're Celebrating...?

      So Happy Columbus Day, or Happy Monday, because I know many people don't understand why we would celebrate Columbus.  Perhaps as a middle-ground between positions we could celebrate Amerigo Vespucci.  Or, you know, we could celebrate James Madison, Alexander Hamilton, and the Constitution.  But because both kids are home from school, I'm going to give you a couple of Columbus day pics, and Robo-Romney...

      Friday, October 5, 2012

      Friday Follies-Presidential Debate Edition

      gty presidential debate10 nt 121003 wblog Fact Checking the Presidential Debate in DenverOn Wednesday night, the first of the 2012 presidential debates happened.  Snap polls taken after the debate gave a decisive victory to Mitt Romney.  While Romney's spokespeople walked back many of his statements, and many in the press acknowledged that many of the statements that Romney said were not true, the media gave the victory to Romney on style points.  They thought the President looked sluggish, and Obama was often unwilling to challenge Romney forcefully on his facts.  The media also piled on the debate moderator Jim Lehrer, whom they thought did an atrocious job of reigning the two candidates in.  YBGP did a live blog of the debates found here.   Neither Emily nor I really found the debate to be so one sided, so it has been interesting listening to the post-debate coverage.  Emily covers the post-debate spin here.  

      But of course, after every media event these days, the memes take over.  So to wrap up debate week over here at YBGP, here are some of the memes that have emerged since the debate....

      Thursday, October 4, 2012

      Take Me Out of the Ball Game

      It's late.  I don't particularly want to talk about the debate, both because we just live-blogged it and because, quite frankly, it was boring.  No real hits, no really memorable lines, no big flaws on either side (though if you reacted the way Mandi and I did, you thought Obama was a bit rambling and Romney was a bit creepy).

      So instead, let's talk about the place of spin, punditry, and general game-theory in politics.

      Because of the rise of 24-hour news cycles which have lots of "news" channels that have lots of air time to fill - and yet seem to have no real desire to do investigative journalism (which is expensive and work-intensive, and doesn't always result in high ratings), we have developed a bizarre sports-type model to our political system.

      Wednesday, October 3, 2012

      Live-Blog 1.0: This Debate Is Fabulous!

      Ahh, it's starting!!!  Follow along live below the fold...

      So we're brand-new at live-blogging, but since we spend most political events texting, this shouldn't be too mind-bending for us.  We've decided to favor CNN with our presence, since we wanted to go main-stream and as much as I love PBS, CNN is more main-stream-y.

      I can't wait to see which ties the gentlemen are rocking and whether Romney will be his Univision-shade of orange tonight.

      Oh, and for those who get bored easily by policy, Maddow has a Lingo Bingo game up (preview below, real-size at link)...

      Follow the debate below the fold....

      5 Presidential Debates That Changed Everything

      5 Presidential Debates That Changed Everything

      It's that time of year again, when the press hovers anxiously over every word, glance, and sigh from the candidates.  When the hot lights beam down, and there is no place to hide.  Yes, that's right, its time for...THE PRESIDENTIAL DEBATES!!!!!  This year, both the Obama and Romney camps are busy downplaying expectations.  According to their respective camps, if either candidate manages to leave the stage without puking and/or soiling themselves, the audience is supposed to regard this as an unmitigated victory.  The truth is, most of the time the debates don't matter.  It is very rare for politicians to get all the way up to the presidential level without having plenty of debate experience in their past.  Most candidates know enough to smile, answer the question or do an artful dodge, and keep on trucking.  However, the exception sometimes proves the rule.  Here are five presidential debates that changed everything...

      "Come at me, bro!"

      Tuesday, October 2, 2012

      Debate Prep: 9 Questions and 2 Famous "Zingers"

      The first debate in this election should by far be the most important, because early voting has already started in over half of the states, and in the last election fully 30 percent of votes occurred before election day - that number should only increase this year.  Technically, Wednesday's debate is supposed to be on domestic policy.  I think that's a problem this year, so I'm including questions on foreign policy, too.

      The national polls have the race in almost a dead heat.  But because of the (stupid, antidemocratic) electoral college, that really doesn't matter.  In the swing states, Obama has a pretty clear advantage in the polls... right now.  So everybody is talking about this debate as Romney's Last Stand, his last real chance to lay the foundation for a turn-around in the campaign.  Because of that, I've heard a lot of talk about Romney preparing all manner of "zingers," - presumably under the theory that "zingers" are a way to create a lasting impression that can carry through to the election and even beyond.  And that's fine.  Zingers have their place in politics.  But for one thing, remember that in its time, Dukakis' "Joe Isuzu" line was considered a dramatic zinger...

      Monday, October 1, 2012

      Honey, You Shrunk My Penis!

      Well, they have finally managed to make subtext just plain old text.  Perhaps revealing too much about his personal life, Rush Limbaugh has recently complained that "feminazis" are causing men's penises to shrink.

       I think it’s feminism. If it’s tied to the last 50 years — the average size of [a male's] member is 10 percent smaller than 50 years — it has to be the feminazis, the chickification and everything else.

      Give ‘em time and they’ll blame Bush. But air pollution vs. feminazis? Ha!