Tales of the Sausage Factory

Losing Maine: An “Elijah Moment” For The Same Sex Marriage Movement.

Things looked good early in the evening November 3 for those who opposed Maine’s Question 1 — the referendum to overturn the state legislature’s redefinition of marriage as between two consenting adults rather than between a man and a woman. As the first state to pass such a law through its legislature without a court order, Maine represented a potential turning point for the movement. If Question 1 were defeated, it would provide further momentum and show that a legislative strategy could succeed. By contrast, a majority of voters in Maine voting to pass Question 1 would be a devastating blow not merely to same sex couples in Maine, but to the movement as a whole.

The “No On One” folks had run an excellent campaign. Unlike the campaign against California’s Proposition 8 last year, which was slow to recognize the substantial resistance to same sex marriage opponents would tap, the No On One folks ran a substantial ground game, ad campaign, and mobilization strategy. Voter turnout was heavy, which was thought to favor No On One, and early returns — from urban areas — looked very good.

Then things went sour. Enthusiasm on both sides was very high. Rural districts went overwhelming Yes on One. By the end of the night, it appeared that a majority of voters in Maine had rejected the state legislature’s effort to eliminate discrimination in marriage. You can read Adam Bink’s liveblogging (which I find heartbreaking in its straightforward reporting) here. Nate Silver (who had predicted defeat for Question 1) has some analysis here, including speculation on the possibility that there may be a “Bradley Effect”-type phenomena wrt same sex marriage. Others blame Obama for declining to invest his own political capital. But whatever the reason, the loss on Question 1 in Maine creates the possibility of what I call an “Elijah moment” — based on Kings I 19:1-14 — for the many people who have invested so much of themselves in the movement to provide the fundamental right of marriage to all.

More below . . .

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Posted in How Democracy Works, Or Doesn't, Tales of the Sausage Factory | Tagged | 5 Comments (Comments closed)

Tales of the Sausage Factory

Deja Vu All Over Again in Pennsylvania.

Some of you may remember Pennsylvania as the state where the battle to save muni broadband began when, around Thanksgiving 2004, the PA Legislature passed a law preventing local government from“competing with the private sector” by prohibiting state or local government from offering broadband services unless the local government solicited service from the private sector and got turned down. While that sucked from the perspective of the citizens of PA, it did help kick off the massive fight that blocked anti-muni broadband legislation in other states, such as Indiana and Texas.

Now, those whacky worshipers of the Gods of the Marketplace in the PA Legislature are at it again! As reported by Craig Settles, the Hon. Patrick Browne (R-Senate District 16), Chairman of the PA Senate Finance Committee, and several lesser acolytes of the Absolutist Free Market Faith have introduced SB 530. This bill would prevent the State of PA or any local government therein from taking any stimulus money for purposes that would “compete with the private sector.” Indeed, if I read it correctly, it would prevent PA or local government from ever engaging in any activity that “competes with the private sector” unless it was (a) related to higher education, (b) maintaining public parks, (c) “necessary services” defined as “those services that are critical for human safety and health, including fire departments, emergency services and medical services;” and (d) any current activity, but that activity may not be expanded.

More below . . . .

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Posted in How Democracy Works, Or Doesn't, Tales of the Sausage Factory | Also tagged , , , , , , | 3 Comments (Comments closed)

My Thoughts Exactly

Jabberwocking the Fundies

Here at Wetmachine we have a tradition of posting what the New Critics called “close readings” of arcane texts. Usually these close readings are done by Harold Feld in Tales of the Sausage Factory or by Greg Rose in Econoklastic, and most often the closely-read documents are obscure legal decrees, rulings, opinions, pronouncements, etc, originating from the Oracle at Federal Communications Commission, or they’re drafts of some lobbyist-written telecommunications bill lurking in the shadows of some state legislature or congressional committee, hoping to become law while nobody’s looking –although occasionally Harold treats us to a scholarly exegesis of a biblical or Talmudic text.

Over at Enter the Jabberwock, my erstwhile OpenLaszlo colleague Josh Crowley has a long-running series of close readings of illustrated tracts by the crackpot so-called “Christian” fundamentalist Jack Chick. Crowley calls these analyses “Chick Dissections”. In them he mercilessly skewers the artwork, logic and theology of individual Chick tracts. He does this in a direct, unironic voice, taking each frame of the comic book under review at face value. In other words, he does not come at them with a knowing, jaded air of sophistication and superiority. He engages them on their own terms.

When I first saw these Chick Dissections I wondered what the point was, since the comics themselves are so ineptly drawn and poorly reasoned that they basically are self-refuting; they are their own parody.

But, you know, Jack Chick is not some lone nut promulgating his paranoid ravings in photocopied pamphlets on a streetcorner to an indifferent audience of dozens. He’s a lone nut promulgating his paranoid ravings to an audience of millions, some of them quite credulous, through his website and publishing empire. The fundamentalist meme, in Christian, Islamic, Hindu, or whatever form, is a present danger to civilization. Therefore Jabberwock/Crowley is right to resist it. The Chick Dissections are not to everybody’s taste, but Jabberwock is providing a valuable service. And he’s often quite funny.

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Posted in Memology, My Thoughts Exactly | Also tagged , , , | 1 Comment (Comments closed)

Tales of the Sausage Factory

Here They Come Again! Anti-Muni Bill in Indiana.

Nothing like a fresh new year! State legislators return to their respective capitals to once again do the work of the people. Or, in the case of Indiana State Senator Brandt Hershman, the work of AT&T (formerly SBC). The eager Mr. Hershman has already introduced a bill, SB 245, that deregulates the phone industry, eliminates local franchising, etc., etc.

And tucked away on page 97 of this 107 page bill is an anti-muni broadband provision remarkably similar to one that went down in flames last year.

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Tales of the Sausage Factory

Tales of The Sausage Factory: PA HB 30 Now Law *sigh*

Gov. Rendell signed HB 30 into law an hour before the deadline last night (11/30). In a last minute deal, VRZN agreed to waive its right of first refusal against the proposed Philly municpal wifi system. Rendell promises to work with other municipalities to the extent their systems are “viable” to “ensure that they succeed.”

I’ll have more analysis later, including what I think is the likely aftermath in both PA and for other states. Short version: we did surprisingly well for organizing from ground zero the week before Thanksgiving. We have also put a spotlight on the issue of municpal broadband systems (and wireless in particular) that will take this out of the back rooms and turn it into a real issue for public debate.

A copy of Rendell’s statement on the ban and a link to the full text of the statement below.

Stay tuned . .

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Posted in Tales of the Sausage Factory | Also tagged , , , | 1 Comment (Comments closed)
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