Wednesday, October 10, 2012

How the debate was

   Anyone bemoaning the state of rhetoric or young people's civic involvement in this country would not have been encouraged by the debates on Questions 4 and 6 last night at Morgan. The light brigade was out front with a sign (right), but attendance in the hall was sparse-- Mark Steiner and his A/V squad of two, Rob Lang of WBAL, about 7 League of Women Voters ladies and about 15 audience members for the first debate and 60 or so for the second.

    The first, anti-aliens v dreamers, was with Regina O'Neil of CASA, who teaches Spanish at Poly and is married with five kids, and a guy Charles Lollar, an executive at the uniform company Cintas, who ran against Steny Hoyer in 2010 and is married with four kids. After everyone's fecundity was established, Charles the executive hit his "we can't afford it" points on down the line: MD's broke, can't afford to give a $17,000 tuition break, "I may like the way your hair looks, Regina, but if I was your husband I might have to tell you you can't afford to go to the salon any more, and MD needs to do the same thing."
     Lollar opined that illegal immigrant/aliens can work hard and pay full tuition just like someone from New Jersey might could to go to school here, he himself had worked his way through Emory as a janitor (wonder if he cleaned up after Keiffer Mitchell?), and furthermore they're illegal immigrant aliens and so it's illegal to hire their illegal alien selves after college anyway, and if you don't like it, "I saw Keiffer Mitchell's walking around the hall out there, go talk to him about fixing our broken immigration system."
     Regina O'Neill's retorts seemed woefully underprepared-- no numbers, no evidence. She did manage to work her points in here and there, but not in a methodical way: these kids have been here their whole lives, we shouldn't punish kids for parents' sins, they're not eligible for federal loan programs, their parents have been working and paying taxes, etc.
     They dickered around in circles a bit, then Lollar's line items of points turned finger-pointy and mad dad with a side of sexism-- there was a low booing groan when Lollar talked about the injustice of aliens taking away jobs when there's 20% of black men in Baltimore unemployed. (Too bad his audience was about 80% female).
      Eventually audience questions were taken, one regarding the cost of the act. O'Neill offered that there's an estimated 435 "dreamers" who are expected to take advantage in 2013 if the law passes. Lollar did some kind of quick math, and I forget what his math was, but $17,000 x 435 x 4 = $29.6 million for four years -- assuming that there really are 435 kids who would meet the criteria and they're taking the places of out-of-state tuition payers, and none of them go to community college first. O'Neill had no retort and that was that.
Winner: Meh.

Finally, after an asscramping full hour of question 4, Maggie Gallagher entered the room  in a purple shirt, black skirtsuit, flats, fuschia lipstick and that bob and took to the stage. On the pro-6 side was the Keiffer Mitchell of hall-walking fame, resplendent in a perfectly fit grey suit, white shirt and blue silk tie, a full two feet taller than Gallagher unfurled to his full extension (fortunately the debate was conducted sitting down). Mark Steiner laid out Mitchell's impeccable bloodline, plus his wife and two children, with no mention of the absence of Sultan Shakir, the promised rep from Equality Maryland. Maggie Gallagher was introduced as the founder of NOM, and refreshingly no mention of a husband or kid(s).
     And with opening statements came some kind of pounding thrash-rap starting up from elsewhere in the student center; over its punishing thuds Mitchell laid out the history of the bill: it had come up twice, the second time the house and senate built a broad coalition and built in lots of protections for religious people, the NAACP supports it, Obama supports it, it's a civil rights issue, making all MDers equal "under duh law." (well it's odd, an otherwise well-spoken person turning out their th like Moose Mason.)
    Maggie Gallagher in turn opined that marriage is about us as a society holding male-female marriage as a special enshrined paragon, or something, and we have marriage because "we need to bring male and female together to create the next generation." If that sounds kind of creepy and also like using the word to define the word, it was. Not to mention creating generations is not a problem in Baltimore city, marriage or no. She also noted she's a Maryland resident (lives in MoCo, apparently) and is voting against 6 because her Roman Catholic church tells her to, and she's supporting the Dream Act for the same reason. "The campaign ads in Maryland I have nothing to do with, but I think they get it right."

 Audience questions were submitted on cards, as is the League of Women Voters protocol, and most were for Maggie. Doesn't the high divorce rate indicate hetero marriage is not so stable? Does she think infertile people should be allowed to get married? What about civil unions? Keiffer zinged back,  "I don't want my child to grow up and enter into a civil union, I want them to grow up and get married," but to the other questions Gallagher laid out various easily challenged statements that he left unchallenged. Like, that other than some tribe in Africa where two women can get married, we don't have any examples of societies with same-sex marriages with which to study what the end result might be (Uh, Europe? Canada?)
    Mercifully the debate wound down. Then some twentysomething woman with a septum ring in a newsboy cap started yelling at Gallagher "I just have to say this to you!" and went on in a not-very-coherent rant about how wrong NOM's strategy was to try to pit the blacks against the gays (but with many many more words). Gallagher smiled beatifically, said nothing and waited for the woman to turn and stalk off down the hall with her female friend before descending from the stage in her small black flats.


evaline said...

Thanks for the report... I... don't have much to say except it's good you were there. Yay people who do civic-minded things. Who the hell is Maggie Gallagher? She sounds like the arch-enemy in a teen angst trilogy.

Solicitor Sutton said...

This civil rights movement started once again it will rise.

Maurice Bradbury said...

Steiner has put up podcasts of the debate: Q4 and Q6. If you listen you might have very different impressions-- I didn't take notes other than writing down a few quotes, I wrote my impression an hour after I got home. If I'd taken reporterly notes my summary here would be very different. ... I'd have to say Charles Lollar was the champ of the night, b/c I am reconsidering my support of the Dream Act a bit. Think I'll still vote for it b/c we need to invest in the future of the state and give hope to bright young Hispanic kids-- unless Romney is elected they will have a path to citizenship and become contributing taxpayers.

Wish there'd be a debate on Question7 -- me and a lot of people I know are really undecided on that one.

Maurice Bradbury said...

.. I and a lot of ppl I know, that is...

evaline said...

Ugh, I am so 100% against casinos and gambling. I can't think of a lower cultural activity. But, I have a lot of addicts in my family, so perhaps my reaction is not normal. I don't care if it makes money for the state, making money off of (mostly) poor/desperate or (at a minimum) stupid people is not nice. The house always wins... I am not saying this as a moralizing pearl-clutcher, I think the question is very basically, what do we want to promote in our culture?

Maurice Bradbury said...

Well, there's that, and also that money thrown at education is wasted until Alonso & co can learn how to manage and account for it.

And people can opt to gamble as entertainment, a person could decide to go to the casino with only $50 or whatever disposable cash one has, play some blackjack for 15 minutes and leave when the money is gone. I personally think that's a stupid use of one's entertainment funds, but who am I to say? Seeing old ladies in Depends pumping quarters into slot machines for hours is not a happy sight, but even the feeblest among us know casinos are about taking your money-- who am I to tell grandma she can't spend her afternoon that way if she chooses to? And I rather like the thought of Yankees/Redskins/Steelers fans coming down and losing a few hundred each before or after a game.

But I'll probably vote no on 7 just for the stink factor-- the dirty lobbyists, Cordish and Co., the 'emergency session' in Annapolis-- byotch plz. These people/entities don't need or deserve any more money or power, they have way too much already.