Obama announces his support for same-sex marriage, Internet explodes

What is breathtakingly impressive about Obama’s (VERY clear) announcement of support for same-sex marriage is the fact that he made it the day after Amendment 1 passed in NC (by a pretty large margin). That speaks volumes about his desire to do the right thing, regardless of the inevitable hit he’ll take in the polls because of it.

You can be cynical all you want about his motives, but there is no reasonable scenario in which he made this announcement for short-term political gain; in fact it is done at considerable risk, knowing how motivated the opponents of same-sex marriage are, and how his statement will be used to whip up a frenzy of support for his opponents (especially the politically-powerful religious right and the more homophobic branches of the populace), now and in November. Sure, he’s shored up support in the liberal, same-sex supporting groups, but was that really a population that was in peril? He had little to gain, and still has much to lose.

If you can still imagine a scenario where this was just a political pawn issue, played for maximum cynicism and as just another lever pulled by rote in a re-election machine, then I would suggest that you should step back from the conspiracy blogs a little: you’ve possibly lost sight of the fact that these are people we are talking about. People who, like myself, have evolved opinions about same-sex marriage at different speeds.

At some point of their evolution, some earlier and some later, people realize it’s the just the right thing to do. And then they speak out about it.

Some will complain that it took him too long, but you could say that about the past 6 or 7 Presidents too, as well as most members of Congress still serving today: I’m not holding my breath waiting for Boehner to announce his support of full rights and protection for same-sex marriage, considering he’s busy spending his time and your money defending the Defense of Marriage Act now that Obama has instructed the DoJ not to do so. Does anyone want to place bets on how Mitt Romney will spin it? Anyone want to place bets on whether he’ll follow suit?

I say he won’t,  considering he supports a federal marriage amendment barring equality and would uphold the DOMA.. I don’t think I’d have to pay out on that bet.

In the meantime: congratulations on your evolution, Mr. President.




Taxes are 12 points (Photo credit: 401K)

I believe the top tax rate should be 75%, but with a caveat: the top tier of taxation starts at exactly 10% above whatever my salary is for that year. That way rich people have the right incentive: to make sure I make as much money as possible in order to reduce their own tax rate.

See?  A joke!  A small and insignificant one, but a joke nonetheless!

There is a small kernel behind this, actually: that the tax rate should get exponentially higher the further away someone’s income is from the median income of people whose jobs they are responsible for. That way their incentive is not only to maximize their own income by itself, it’s to also increase the median wage for their employees in order to reduce their own tax rate. And the higher tax rates start increasing exactly at the median employee income.

Once you get past some multiplier X of the median salary of people your company employs, your tax rate should shoot up pretty quickly. I don’t know what the value of X is in order to be fair, but I do know that 300 is way too high, and that’s the difference today nationally between CEOs and the average employee (I couldn’t find any reasonable stats on median).

Of course it’s impractical: there are too many complications to think of and address in a WordPress post. You would probably have to have a minimum number of employees for the median to start making statistical sense, and investors who earn income from indirectly funding work and not hiring employees directly would need a different tax method. But our tax system today is structured in a weird way to provide incentive for personal gain at the expense of community economic health, and we need more ways to make it more palatable than punitive to help improve everyone’s lives. It’s also structured today to make the proponents of “trickle down” economics demand their benefits up front, and expect everyone else to take on faith that they will eventually get some unknown benefit at some point in the future (no guarantees): we need to make sure that these promised benefits are real enough that those who promise them are willing to link their benefits to them as well.

Also, any CEO or board member of a bank that received TARP funds because they were “too big to fail” and then proceeded to buy up smaller banks and sit on the cash instead of making credit available gets taxed at 99% on any income over the lowest income of the owner of any mortgage they’ve foreclosed on. In perpetuity.

Ronmentum, whether you want it or not

The Ron Paul blimp.

This was a Goodyear blimp, but the pilot is a Ron Paul supporter so he repainted it after takeoff.  (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I truly do not understand Ron Paul’s delegate-based approach: his team seems to be making sure that his supporters are elected as delegates, regardless of whether or not he won the popular vote. He’s not going to win the presidential nomination (there’s no way of that happening), but he will get attention and a voice in the platform that by far exceeds the ratio of actual popular votes he has received. His voice will be amplified, not because he represents the voice of a large number of people, but because he represents a small number of people who happen to know how to game the system.

Let me take that back a little: I *understand* what he’s doing. He’s taking advantage of the fact that delegates are appointed separately from the caucus votes, as in Iowa where “delegates elect delegates who elect delegates”. It’s a grueling process, and not everyone has the stamina for it. What he’s doing is perfectly legal. Yet in Iowa, where he came in third, it seems that 20 out of the state’s 28 potential delegates will be Paul supporters. For all intents and purposes, Ron Paul won Iowa.

What I don’t understand is: why would anyone support as candidate for President someone who is so dismissive of the will of the voters? Shouldn’t the fact that a large majority of people in Iowa did NOT vote for him mean that he should get no more than 1/5 of total delegates, equivalent to the number of people who DID vote for him? Isn’t this behind-the-scenes maneuvering a very dishonest way of saying “we don’t care who the people of the state wanted to elect, we want Ron Paul instead”?

It’s not illegal, and the Ron Paul campaign isn’t hiding what they are doing. And you can’t just say that these are all just Santorum/Gingrich supporters who have switched to vote against Romney now that their favorite candidate has dropped out: the Ron Paul campaign has been admitting to this approach since long before the other candidates abandoned ship. But it seems insane to me that anyone would look at this approach, where the “one-person, one-vote” principle is subverted by ethically dodgy (albeit, as I said, perfectly legal) maneuvers, with the end result that at the end of the day it quite literally DOES NOT MATTER who the people of states like Iowa and Massachusetts and Minnesota voted for, and think: “yes, that’s the kind of respect for the will of the voters that I want to see elected into office.”

It’s not behavior I find surprising from Ron Paul. It seems to line up well with his general “I support States’ rights if I oppose the current Federal law, but I support Federal law if I agree with it” approach. I do “understand” what he’s doing.  But I find it surprising that people support it.

Day of Reason 2012

Faith is not necessary to believe in fairness. There is no requirement for a deity in order for you and I to believe in equality and justice. And there is no need for prayer in order to have a successful, happy marriage. In fact, in the United States today, prayer, faith, deities and religious belief are not necessary to get married in the first place: just as there is no religious test to hold any government position in this country, as guaranteed by Article 6 of our constitution, there is also no requirement to proclaim or hold any faith in order to be married… other than the secular faith in our system of laws. Therefore it is our position within Americans United for Separation of Church and State that laws that impose strictly
religious tradition and—even worse—discrimination on secular ceremonies and events that have no need for them, are unconstitutional. They have no place in a society established on the principle that no person should be made to feel like a second-class citizen because their religious beliefs (or lack thereof) are not in line with those who impose the laws.

There are 515 rights and protections guaranteed by law within the State of Minnesota to married couples. There are hundreds more at the Federal level. These rights go from the simple and relatively banal (like the right of a surviving spouse to inherit their spouse’s fishing license) to the powerful and truly heart-rending rights to make medical decisions on behalf of a sick or injured partner who is unable to do so, or the rights to testify against a spouse’s murderer in the sentencing phase of a trial, or the rights to request citizenship for a partner. All of these rights are currently denied to same-sex partners in long-term, committed, loving relationships in Minnesota and across most of the country.

If we believe in fairness, if we believe in justice, if we believe in love, and if we are truly a nation that demands equal rights and protection under the law, then this kind of discrimination has no place in Minnesota’s constitution. I urge you all on this Day of Reason to join us in reaching out to your friends and family to explain to them why it is so necessary to defeat the Marriage Amendment this fall. You already know all this, otherwise you wouldn’t be here today: others do not.

Have the conversation, so that we can celebrate Reason after we vote “No” in November just as much as we are doing today.