O Happy Day!

I think all of us were just too nervous to blog in the lead-up to the midterm elections, for fear of jinxing it. But yesterday’s results exceeded my expectations. I really did not believe we would win the Senate. I stayed up late last night watching the numbers trickle in, growing ever happier. (I’m still convinced that Darcy Burner might beat Dave Reichert–how is it that only 50% of the returns are in yet?)

I was almost giddy today. Imagine how that giddiness became sheer wonder when I learned that newly re-elected Senator Maria Cantwell was visiting my office for a meeting! She’s headed on a trip to China that our public affairs team help put together. We were all invited (not commanded, in case there were a few Repubs in the office) to greet her when she arrived. About 75 of us crowded into the lobby, surprising her with thunderous applause and whoops of joy. Though she was a bit shocked at the reception–and no doubt exhausted after the end of a grueling campaign–but she launched into some great impromptu remarks and the early news that Montana was considered a done deal. I was positioned perfectly to get one of the first handshakes when she decided she wanted to meet everyone who had greeted her so warmly.

I interned in the Senate and have been around a lot of politicians… I am, frankly, pretty jaded. But when Senator Cantwell asked me what I did, I had a hard time getting the words out. She radiates poise and intellect–no surprise–but she has an almost (Bill) Clinton-esque personal charm that surprised me. Shaking her hand was the perfect memory to seal the joy I felt as the great American pendulum paused weightless at its scary apogee and began to swing back toward sanity.



C’mon Dems, Get Happy!

The good folks of NonFamous know as well as anyone how hard I took the last election. After logging so many hours at the campaign office, I logged a good deal more over the last two years outside the United States. I had the chance to stay, but there was no way I was going to miss this election. I’m not the activist I was last time ’round, but I’ve been hanging out at the rallies lately and I gotta tell you, it’s starting to work.

I’m on the record as being a skeptic about Maria Cantwell, but I’ve been doing my reading and drinking the kool-aid, as they say. While I’m still on the fence, I do understand the importance of Maria keeping her seat. And I understand the imperative for the Democrats to sweep the house in this election. Beaten down by the losses of 2004, I didn’t think I could find enthusiasm for 2006, but hearing Maria Cantwell, Christine Gregoire, Jim McDermott, Darcy Burner, Russ Feingold, and Barack Obama speak over the last week has really revved my engines.

It may be a passing phase and I’m sure to come down off the propaganda buzz as soon as the election is over. But for now, I’m going to take the energy of the high and remind y’all to vote and to work to get others to do so in the upcoming election. If you’re on the fence like I’ve been, I heartily suggest you get yourself to an event to hear your candidates speak. It really helps – it’s way better to hear them in person and there’s something remarkable about being in the presence of your fellow voters.

I’m not quite ready to sing the Hallelujah chorus, but I’m back to feeling like there are some good people out there who really want to affect change. Today, while watching the students at Bellevue Community College nearly exploding with enthusiasm as Barack Obama enter the gym, I thought, “Oh my god, we can’t let them down.” I survived the heartbreak of the last election, but these kids shouldn’t have to.

You know what to do.

The Stranger Endorses Stephanie Pure for the 43rd!

Just like I knew they would!

The obvious standout in this crowded field is Stephanie Pure, a longtime aide to Seattle City Council Member Peter Steinbrueck, who is making her first run at elected office. (Ed Murray, whom she’s looking to replace, also started out as a council aide, as did current King County Executive Ron Sims and Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels.)

Pure, a quick study, has a long history of working to preserve the rights of people who aren’t often heard in politics: tenants (Pure organized the citywide Renters Summit with Judy Nicastro in 2000) and youth (she was a founding member of the Vera Project; she served for several years on the city’s Music and Youth Task Force to overturn the Teen Dance Ordinance; and, as an aide to Steinbrueck, she worked to increase library hours).

To winnow the candidates, the SECB held our own “primary,” narrowing the field to three: Pure, Preston Gates & Ellis attorney Jamie Pedersen, and former City Council Member and Superior Court Judge Jim Street. Pure, who’s focused on density and smart growth, is most in line with the SECB (and her district) on a wide range of issues. She supports public financing of campaigns; she says full marriage equality, not just civil unions, is her goal; and, saying the city’s commitment to meeting Kyoto standards “seem[s] to stop short when we talk about the viaduct,” she supports the surface/transit alternative for replacing the Alaskan Way Viaduct. (Pure’s opponents all support the mayor’s unaffordable, environmentally unsustainable $4 billion tunnel.) And Pure was the only candidate of the three to mention education and reproductive rights among her top priorities.

Voters in the district should not be swayed by the desire to “send a message” to the supreme court by sending Pedersen, who is gay, to Olympia. Pedersen—an attorney who will stay on the Preston Gates payroll even if he wins a seat in the legislature—is too compromised and middle-of-the-road to be truly effective. (During the SECB’s interview, Pedersen argued credulously that money has no influence on politics. “I don’t think there’s a problem with the system,” he said.) His constant bragging about “saving” PacMed on Beacon Hill (work he did in his paid role as a lawyer for Preston Gates) also turned us off. Street, who initially struck several members of the SECB as the brainiest and most knowledgeable of the pack, quickly started to grate on us with his know-it-all demeanor. We’re worried he’ll turn off his potential colleagues in Olympia, too. Pure, a young woman who has lived in the 43rd (mostly on Capitol Hill) her entire adult life, best represents the full diversity of her district. A smart, effective young woman would be a great addition to the Ed Murray–Frank Chopp power axis in the 43rd. Vote Pure.

I love it! And let’s face it, we all love Stephanie Pure. I’m so looking forward to saying “I knew her when!”

A rare bit of good news for gay couples

The Federal government now has one less way to screw gay couples when one partner dies. Courtesy of the HRC and a few reasonable legistlators:

The Federal Pension Protection Act passed by Congress and signed into law today by President George W. Bush contains two key provisions that will extend important financial protections to same-sex couples and other Americans who leave their retirement savings to non-spouse beneficiaries. The bipartisan provisions in the bill are a step forward in equality and stem from a continuous effort led by the Human Rights Campaign.

David and I have actually worried about this sort of thing a lot. It’s one less thing to worry about, which these days is really important–because we all have plenty to worry about!

God save the pets

I have, at turns, felt guilty about worrying so much about the dogs and cats affected by Katrina. But I can’t help it– it affects me really deeply to hear of people who had to leave their pets, to see footage of animals trapped by rising water. I think, for me, it is as if there is one well in my heart for the pain of people–and though it is full in these terrible times, there is another well of tears for animals. That sounds silly, I know, but it’s the only way I can describe it.

This post, from a very eloquent gay guy in New Orleans, totally made me cry–tears of joy this time. I have been known to observe that “the only good cat is a dead cat” but that’s mostly my allergies talking. I am really happy for this guy and the unsinkable Miss Kitty Lola of Nola:

[ sturtle.com ]
I look around and see that there’s not much damage. Some more small trees and shrubs are down in my neighbor’s yard. A handful of my potted plants have died. I walk back to the kitchen to get my duffel bag and start packing.

Then I see her: a long, low lump stretched across a side table. I take a step toward her and call out “Lola?”, but she doesn’t respond.

The pieces quickly fall into place: during the storm, the door to the study slammed shut, trapping her in the back of the house for nearly three weeks, a few crucial feet away from bowls of food and a tap that’s still dripping. Lola’s eyes are slits, green and lifeless. I call her name again, stroke her back, but nothing.

Without thinking, I say, “I’m sorry.” I keep repeating it: “I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m sorry.”

Stand in those shoes for a second, then read the whole post… it turns out, amazingly, OK.

Newt says “values politics” are done for

The fact that I agree with Newt is either a sign that the Bush era is over, or that the End is nigh. And according to the WaPo’s David Ignatius he is telling his GOP colleages that what they are calling the “blame game” is exactly what a frightened and angry populace expects to play for a long time. I might say that any “party of performance” needs to have values behind it– values like equality, justice, fairness, accountability, transparency–what he really means is that the GOP can’t keep blaming wars and hurricanes on fags. Here, here!

Now listen to what Gingrich has to say about “changing the playbook” after Katrina. His comments are drawn from two memos he has circulated to Republican leaders since the storm hit and from a conversation we had this week exploring some of his ideas.

Gingrich argues that the values debate that has divided America so sharply during the past decade is over. There’s a broad consensus about most issues, and anyway people realize that the country’s big problems aren’t about morality but performance. “We’re not in a values fight now but over whether the system is working,” Gingrich told me. “The issue is delivery.” And that’s true at every level — city, state and federal.

Gingrich’s critique of the federal response is as devastating as that of any Democrat. “For the last week the federal government and its state and local counterparts have consistently been behind the curve,” he wrote fellow Republicans this week. “The American people overwhelmingly know that the current situation is totally unacceptable,” and for that reason, “it is a mistake to get trapped into defending the systems and processes which clearly failed.” He observes in another memo, “While the destruction was unprecedented, it was entirely predictable.”

Read the whole thing.

Oh, and just to show what kind of values won’t work, don’t miss reading about the GOP congressman from Baton Rouge who was overheard telling lobbyists this:

“We finally cleaned up public housing in New Orleans. We couldn’t do it, but God did.”

Direct Relief

Whirlwind of activity and grand citizen of the blogosphere Grace Davis has put together a Direct Relief program for Hurricane Katrina. She’s parsing requests from a bloggy pal of hers, Victoria, who put on her shoes and headed south to help.

She’s posted a list of things needed by various shelters, a call for volunteers, a (good lord) list of supplies needed by rescue workers… but just go here to find out. Dunno about you, but I know I’ve been looking around my house at things I feel like I want to pack up and send to someone that can use them, post hurricane. Clothing, kitchenware, etc…

Anyhow, I’ve said enough, go look at Grace’s Hurricane Relief Blog to find out what you can do.

” We had nothing before the Hurricane. Now we have even less.”

Barack Obama on Katrina:

And so I hope that out of this crisis we all begin to reflect – Democrat and Republican – on not only our individual responsibilities to ourselves and our families, but to our mutual responsibilities to our fellow Americans. I hope we realize that the people of New Orleans weren’t just abandoned during the Hurricane. They were abandoned long ago – to murder and mayhem in their streets; to substandard schools; to dilapidated housing; to inadequate health care; to a pervasive sense of hopelessness.

That is the deeper shame of this past week – that it has taken a crisis like this one to awaken us to the great divide that continues to fester in our midst. That’s what all Americans are truly ashamed about, and the fact that we’re ashamed about it is a good sign. The fact that all of us – black, white, rich, poor, Republican, Democrat – don’t like to see such a reflection of this country we love, tells me that the American people have better instincts and a broader heart than our current politics would indicate.

More like him, please.

What he said! And the “he” is GEORGE WILL!

I normally think of George Will as the prig in the bow tie lecturing down at us from a walnut-paneled club room in Olympus. Today, I’m thinking he’s a genius. Thinking conservatives– maybe help really is on the way. The whole damn thing is posted below, but a choice bit:

Americans tend to believe in God and to disbelieve in government. Time will tell how many are moved to rethink one or both of those tendencies in the aftermath of Katrina. It is, however, likely that the storm’s lingering reverberations will alter the nation’s mind far more than 9/11 did.

For some it will be today’s version of the Lisbon earthquake of 1755, when perhaps 60,000 deaths stirred doubts about the existence, or at least the benevolence, of a God that could will or allow such random misery…. At any rate, until the raping, looting and gunfire abate, it will be difficult to continue this summer’s argument about whether we and our habitat have been intelligently designed.

…In the dystopia that is New Orleans as this is written, martial law is a utopian aspiration. Granted, countless acts, recorded and unrecorded, of selflessness and heroism attest to the human capacity for nobility. But this, too, is true: The swiftness of New Orleans’ descent from chaos into barbarism must compound the nation’s nagging anxiety that more irrationality is rampant in the world just now than this nation has the power to subdue or even keep at bay.

Which is to say, Katrina will condition the debate about Iraq. Here is why.

Really thoughtful and humane writing. I’m ready to welcome any conservative who puts down the talking points, leaves the spin zone, and expresses an independent idea eloquently.
Continue reading “What he said! And the “he” is GEORGE WILL!”