Saturday, November 29, 2008

Will Growing Number of Latino Voters Turn Texas into a Blue State?

Michael B. Farrell, ABC News: When President Bush says so long to Washington on Jan. 20, he'll return to a much different Lone Star State from the one he left eight years ago.
Pickup trucks, Big Oil, and barbecue brisket still reign supreme, but this red state that helped deliver the presidency to Mr. Bush twice and his father once, and that catapulted GOP strategist Karl Rove to the national stage, is suddenly spotted with big pockets of blue.
Dallas is controlled by Democrats; Houston is in their hands, too. It's all largely because of the state's growing Hispanic population, which overwhelmingly sided with Democrats this year.
"The tide of demography in Texas is moving against the Republicans," says Cal Jillson, a political scientist at Southern Methodist University in Dallas. "All the major cities are Democratic and are likely to become more so over time."
The Pew Hispanic Center reports that Latino voters sided with President-elect Obama over Sen. John McCain by a margin of more than 2 to 1, helping Democrats win crucial states such as Florida, Virginia, Nevada, and Colorado. While the overall Hispanic turnout did not rise much – it accounted for 9 percent of the vote this year and 8 percent in 2004 -- Latino support for the GOP dropped nine percentage points, according to Pew.
That has left Republicans panicking and Democrats drooling. Duncan Currie writes in last week's conservative Weekly Standard that Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart (R) of Florida says the GOP has a "very, very serious problem" because of diminishing Hispanic support.
Political scientists, sociologists, and activists say that concern reflects a keen awareness of what a growing and increasingly political Latino community could mean in big, traditionally red states like Texas: Those voters could tip Democratic in future national contests.
"We are in the process of watching this remarkable shift," says Stephen Klineberg, a sociologist at Rice University here, referring to the overall demographic transformation of America. "You can be absolutely certain that every election [to come] in Texas will have a larger percentage of Latino voters." (MORE)

Kristol Calls On Bush To Pardon Torturers And Wiretappers, Reward Them With Medal Of Freedom

ThinkProgress.org: In his new Weekly Standard column, right-wing pundit Bill Kristol lays out a to-do list for President Bush before he leaves office. He urges Bush to deliver speeches “reminding Americans of our successes fighting the war on terror.” Kristol dreams, “Over time, Bush might even get deserved credit for effective conduct of the war on terror.”
After urging Bush to fight the incoming administration’s desire to close Guantanamo, Kristol concludes with this:
One last thing: Bush should consider pardoning–and should at least be vociferously praising–everyone who served in good faith in the war on terror, but whose deeds may now be susceptible to demagogic or politically inspired prosecution by some seeking to score political points. The lawyers can work out if such general or specific preemptive pardons are possible; it may be that the best Bush can or should do is to warn publicly against any such harassment or prosecution. But the idea is this: The CIA agents who waterboarded Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, and the NSA officials who listened in on phone calls from Pakistan, should not have to worry about legal bills or public defamation. In fact, Bush might want to give some of these public servants the Medal of Freedom at the same time he bestows the honor on Generals Petraeus and Odierno. They deserve it.
In the Bush era, the Medal of Freedom has come to absurdly represent a reward for those who carried out policy failures at the urging of the Bush administration. By this standard, the implementers of torture and warrantless wiretapping certainly qualify for such a medal.
The Wall Street Journal reported recently that the White House “isn’t inclined to grant sweeping pardons for former administration officials involved in harsh interrogations and detentions of terror suspects.” President-elect Barack Obama is reportedly unlikely to pursue criminal cases against such officials, but is said to be considering a 9/11-style commission that would investigate counterterrorism policies and make public as many details as possible.”
Bush’s “record of stonewalling inquiries into his administration’s legally questionable behavior — the torture policy that led to the Abu Ghraib nightmare; illegal wiretapping; the politically motivated firing of federal attorneys — justify concern that he may be considering pardoning officials involved in those misdeeds,” the New York Times warns in an editorial this morning. “If he wants to try to reclaim his reputation, he can start by not abusing the pardon power on his way out the door,” the Times writes.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Bush's Last Days: The Lamest Duck

Joe Klein, TIME: We have "only one President at a time," Barack Obama said in his debut press conference as President-elect. Normally, that would be a safe assumption — but we're learning not to assume anything as the charcoal-dreary economic winter approaches. By mid-November, with the financial crisis growing worse by the day, it had become obvious that one President was no longer enough (at least not the President we had). So, in the days before Thanksgiving, Obama began to move — if not to take charge outright, then at least to preview what things will be like when he does take over in January. He became a more public presence, taking questions from the press three days in a row. He named his economic team. He promised an enormous stimulus package that would somehow create 2.5 million new jobs, and began to maneuver the new Congress toward having the bill ready for him to sign — in a dramatic ceremony, no doubt — as soon as he assumes office.
That we have slightly more than one President for the moment is mostly a consequence of the extraordinary economic times. Even if George Washington were the incumbent, the markets would want to know what John Adams was planning to do after his Inauguration. And yet this final humiliation seems particularly appropriate for George W. Bush. At the end of a presidency of stupefying ineptitude, he has become the lamest of all possible ducks.
It is in the nature of mainstream journalism to attempt to be kind to Presidents when they are coming and going but to be fiercely skeptical in between. I've been feeling sorry for Bush lately, a feeling partly induced by recent fictional depictions of the President as an amiable lunkhead in Oliver Stone's W. and in Curtis Sittenfeld's terrific novel American Wife. There was a photo in the New York Times that seemed to sum up his current circumstance: Bush in Peru, dressed in an alpaca poncho, standing alone just after the photo op at the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation forum, with various Asian leaders departing the stage, none of them making eye contact with him. Bush has that forlorn what-the-hell-happened? expression on his face, the one that has marked his presidency at difficult times. You never want to see the President of the United States looking like that.
So I've been searching for valedictory encomiums. His position on immigration was admirable and courageous; he was right about the Dubai Ports deal and about free trade in general. He spoke well, in the abstract, about the importance of freedom. He is an impeccable classicist when it comes to baseball. And that just about does it for me. I'd add the bracing moment of Bush with the bullhorn in the ruins of the World Trade Center, but that was neutered in my memory by his ridiculous, preening appearance in a flight suit on the deck of the aircraft carrier beneath the "Mission Accomplished" sign. The flight-suit image is one of the two defining moments of the Bush failure. The other is the photo of Bush staring out the window of Air Force One, helplessly viewing the destruction wrought by Hurricane Katrina. This is a presidency that has wobbled between those two poles — overweening arrogance and paralytic incompetence. (President Bush in the Middle East.)
The latter has held sway these past few months as the economy has crumbled. It is too early to rate the performance of Bush's economic team, but we have more than enough evidence to say, definitively, that at a moment when there was a vast national need for reassurance, the President himself was a cipher. Yes, he's a lame duck with an Antarctic approval rating — but can you imagine Bill Clinton going so gently into the night? There are substantive gestures available to a President that do not involve the use of force or photo ops. For example, Bush could have boosted the public spirit — and the auto industry — by announcing that he was scrapping the entire federal automotive fleet, including the presidential limousine, and replacing it with hybrids made in Detroit. He could have jump-started — and he still could — the Obama plan by releasing funds for a green-jobs program to insulate public buildings. He could start funding the transit projects already approved by Congress.
In the end, though, it will not be the creative paralysis that defines Bush. It will be his intellectual laziness, at home and abroad. Bush never understood, or cared about, the delicate balance between freedom and regulation that was necessary to make markets work. He never understood, or cared about, the delicate balance between freedom and equity that was necessary to maintain the strong middle class required for both prosperity and democracy. He never considered the complexities of the cultures he was invading. He never understood that faith, unaccompanied by rigorous skepticism, is a recipe for myopia and foolishness. He is less than President now, and that is appropriate. He was never very much of one.

Savage: When Are Your "Privately Held Religious Beliefs" Not So Private Anymore?

Dan Savage, SLOG: When you donate $1500 to a political campaign to strip other people—people who are not your co-religionists—of their civil rights. Richard Raddon is, or was, the director of the Los Angeles Film Festival. All hell broke loose after it emerged that Raddon, who is Mormon, had donated $1500 to the "Yes on 8" campaign. The LA Times:
After Raddon's contribution was made public online, Film Independent was swamped with criticism from "No on 8" supporters both inside and outside the organization. Within days, Raddon offered to step down as festival director, but the board, which includes Don Cheadle, Forest Whitaker, Lionsgate President Tom Ortenberg and Fox Searchlight President Peter Rice, gave him a unanimous vote of confidence.
Yet, the anti-Raddon bile continued to bubble in the blogosphere, and according to one Film Independent board member, "No on 8" supporters also berated Raddon personally via phone calls and e-mails. The recriminations ultimately proved too much, and when Raddon offered to resign again, this time the board accepted.
Raddon released a statement that said, in part, "I have always held the belief that all people, no matter race, religion or sexual orientation, are entitled to equal rights." Except for when they're not—and Raddon also believes that the religious should wield a veto over other peoples' civil rights. He goes on to whine about being a "devout and faithful Mormon," and about how his contribution to "Yes on 8" was a "private matter." Uh... no. A donation to a political campaign is a public matter; and civil marriage rights for same-sex couples did not infringe upon the religious freedom of Mormons, devout or otherwise.
Bill Condon, the gay guy who directed of Dreamgirls, attempted to get Raddon's back: "Someone has lost his job and possibly his livelihood because of privately held religious beliefs."
No. No. No. Raddon lost his job due to criticism of his public political actions, not his private religious beliefs, and his public political actions were a part of the public record. If Raddon wanted to go to church and pray his little heart out against same-sex marriage, or proselytize on street corners against gay marriage, or counsel gay men to leave their husbands and marry nice Mormon girls instead, that could be viewed as an expression of his "privately held religious beliefs." Instead he helped fund a political campaign to strip a vulnerable minority group of its civil rights.
"Millions of Californians definitely lost their civil rights," says John Aravosis. "But I'm not hearing a lot of concern about any of those victims, only sympathy for their attacker. When you use the power of the state to rip away my civil rights, and force me to live by your 'values,' you are no longer practicing your religion. You're practicing politics."
In the wake of Prop 8 millions of gays and lesbians all over the country have decided that we're no longer going to play by the old rules. We're not going to let people kick our teeth down our throats and then run and hide behind "Nothing personal—just my private religious beliefs!" That game's over.

Simon: Let's Get Out Of Iraq And Into Detroit

Roger Simon: I do not understand why some people are opposed to a $25 billion government bailout of the U.S. auto industry.
The price is cheap. That $25 billion represents less than three months of the cost of the Iraq war.
To put it another way: If Barack Obama would end the Iraq war just three months early, he could pay for the entire U.S. auto industry bailout, and have about $5 billion left over to spend on luxury items like U.S. education, health care and the environment.
But nobody is putting it that way. The media have grown bored with the Iraq war. We seem more fascinated with who is going to be the next deputy under secretary of party hats at the inauguration than the continued fighting and dying in Iraq.
It is hard to find a story about the Iraq war. I found a tiny one the other day that read: "As of Saturday, Nov. 22, 2008, at least 4,203 members of the U.S. military have died in the Iraq war since it began in March 2003, according to an Associated Press count."
There are many Websites that keep track of those killed and wounded in Iraq. As I write this, the American death count has risen to 4,205, with the last American fatality on Monday. Did you read about it anywhere?
But that just concentrates on human life. Let's get down to what really is upsetting people these days: money.
You can find different figures for the monthly cost of the Iraq war. Some say it is $12 billion a month. In mid-January of this year, at a debate in Las Vegas, Barack Obama said, "Currently, we are spending $9 to $10 billion a month" on the Iraq war.
When he spoke to the NAACP Convention in July of this year, he said, "If people tell you that we cannot afford to invest in education or health care or fighting poverty, you just remind them that we are spending $10 billion a month in Iraq."
Then he went on, "And if we can spend that much money in Iraq, we can spend some of that money right here in Cincinnati, Ohio, and in big cities and small towns in every corner of this country."
He is absolutely right. And Obama even had the guts to point out that we could spend some of the money that we now spend on foreign wars on foreign aid.
At a Democratic debate in February in Austin, Texas, Obama said: "Our entire foreign aid to Latin America is $2.7 billion, approximately what we spend in Iraq in a week. Is it any surprise, then, that you've seen people like Hugo Chavez and countries like China move into the void, because we've been neglectful of that."
Unfortunately, the actual date for our withdrawal from Iraq has been slipping. Many people went to the polls in November 2006 thinking they were electing a Democratic Congress that would end the war. Ho. Ho. Ho. Instead they got a Democratic Congress that continued to fund the war.
On Jan. 15 of this year, Obama said, "I have put forward a plan that will get our troops out by the end of 2009."
That's not going to happen. The Obama-Biden Website now says: "Military experts believe we can safely redeploy combat brigades from Iraq at a pace of 1 to 2 brigades a month that would remove them in 16 months. That would be the summer of 2010 — more than 7 years after the war began."
But think what would happen if President Obama could just goose up that date even by a few months. Aside from the deaths and injuries it would save, it would save us billions of dollars, and some of those billions could be used to bail out our auto industry.
Chrysler, GM and Ford employ about a quarter of a million people here in America, and if they go under, it is estimated that another 4 million U.S. jobs will be lost.
I understand the anger at throwing U.S. tax dollars at ill-run companies presided over by arrogant men. For years, Detroit made crappy cars. My father never owned anything but American cars. I have owned exactly one, my first car. It was a Ford, and the guy at the garage that I (constantly) took it to told me Ford stood for Fix Or Repair Daily.
I also understand, however, that American cars have gotten a lot better, but our auto industry is saddled with structural problems, incompetent management and union benefits that make it uncompetitive with Japanese companies.
On Monday, at a news conference, Obama said, "Taxpayers can't be expected to pony up more money for an auto industry resistant to change."
He is right. The auto industry must change before it can get a dollar.
But Obama was also right when he said Tuesday at a news conference: "If we're going to do the spending we need, we are going to have to shed the spending we don't need. We simply can't afford it."
He also said: "We will still have to make some tough choices. There are still going to be programs that don't work that we will have to eliminate."
I suggest that we eliminate the war in Iraq. It is a program that doesn't work. If, after more than five and a half years, the Iraqis won't stand up and fight for their own country, we can no longer be expected to do it for them.
We can't afford it. If it's a choice between shedding American lives in Iraq or saving American jobs in the United States, I choose jobs.
In a column on Nov. 16, David Broder cited a post-election poll by Stan Greenburg, a Democratic pollster, that found "the three most important reasons voters gave for supporting Obama concerned his promises to withdraw troops from Iraq, to cut middle-class taxes and to expand health insurance coverage."
The media may have forgotten Iraq, but the public has not.
And the public wants out of Iraq. Barack Obama promised to do it, and it's a promise he should keep. The earlier the better.

My Government is Spending One Trillion Dollars on Bailouts...

John Darkow, The Columbia Daily Tribune, Missouri

Olbermann and Candace Gingrich Talk Proposition 8

Kerry Eleveld, The Advocate: MSNBC's Keith Olbermann talked to Candace Gingrich, the lesbian sister of conservative stalwart Newt Gingrich, Tuesday night on Countdown With Keith Olbermann. (Click the pic for the YouTube video.)
In the opening segment, Olbermann discussed a recently released poll from Survey USA indicating that 8% of California voters who had voted to ban same-sex marriage had changed their mind on the measure following nationwide protests that ensued. The poll had a +/- 4.3% margin of error for that specific question. The margin by which the gay marriage ban passed was just over 4 points.
"Thus with the caveats that they didn't ask anybody who voted against the ban if they had changed their minds, and it's just a poll, and there's no second vote scheduled, there is still some evidence that another vote might go the other way," Olbermann said.
Asked if the poll surprised her, Candace Gingrich said, "To me, it just exemplifies the progress that's being made on what marriage equality is all about." Gingrich added that the protests had facilitated a continued dialogue and discussion around gay and lesbian issues and family concerns that was "very powerful."
Gingrich attributed any change of heart among California voters to a new recognition that certain people's rights had been taken away. She also noted that the implications of Proposition 8 have had a "chilling" effect on many Californians, and especially minority groups. "This idea that you can put the rights of one particular group up to popular vote, I mean, that's scary," she said.
Gingrich authored a piece for The Huffington Post this past weekend in response to her brother Newt's recent assertion on Fox News that "there is a gay and secular fascism in this country that wants to impose its will on the rest of us, is prepared to use violence, to use harassment. I think it is prepared to use the government if it can get control of it. I think that it is a very dangerous threat to anybody who believes in traditional religion."
Before taking her brother to task, Gingrich opened her letter with, "I must say, after years of watching you build your career by stirring up the fears and prejudices of the far right, I feel compelled to use the words of your idol, Ronald Reagan -- 'There you go, again.'"

What’s on tap today: Obama to address economy, Bush to pardon turkey.

ThinkProgress.org: This MSNBC chryon tells the story:
Yglesias extrapolates: “The president-elect working hard while the president is hardly working. Of course, given what we’ve seen from the Bush administration it’s probably just as well that he stick to pardoning turkeys and leave the policy response to Obama’s team. If only he’d thought of this strategy when he first moved in to the White House.”

"Don't Ask, Don't Tell?" Don't ask Obama

Vincent Rossmeier, Salon.com: When it comes to the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy regarding gays in the military, it might just be better not to ask the incoming Obama administration about its plans to revoke the ban.
Tuesday, Chris Johnson of the Washington Blade wrote that -- contrary to other reports -- President-elect Barack Obama would not delay the repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" until 2010. An Obama transition team spokesperson, speaking anonymously, told the Blade that decisions regarding the policy "will not be made before the full national security team is in place."
The Blade article comes just a few days after a Washington Times story alleged that Obama would in fact wait to take up the fight to overturn the ban. Earlier this month, Democratic Rep. Barney Frank also told the Blade that repealing DADT would likely occur only “once Iraq is over.” A congressional vote would be required to overturn the policy. Congress passed the law in 1993, after Bill Clinton tried but failed to allow homosexuals to serve openly.
During the campaign, Obama said that though he sought the repeal of DADT, he wouldn't require members of his Joint Chiefs of Staff to agree with this policy in order to serve in his administration.

Expert: Tenet, Gonzales, Rumsfeld could get 'preemptive pardons'

David Edwards and Muriel Kane, Raw Story: Some Republicans are hoping to see President Bush issue pre-emptive pardons to former top officials in his administration who might become targets of Democratic investigations.
CNN's Joe Johns asked legal analyst Sonny Hostin whether this could really happen. "It's not so crazy," Hostin replied. "It's been done before. The president has the power to pardon any criminal offense, and that power can be exercised at any time. ... Gerald Ford's pardon of Nixon before his indictment is probably one of the best-known examples."
Hostin stated that blanket pardons for officials who approved of torture are unlikely, but that certain specific names are currently being "bandied about," including former CIA Director George Tenet, former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, and former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld. All three have been implicated in the abuse of detainees, and Gonzales is also in legal difficulties over his role in the US Attorney scandal.
Although Ford's pardon of Nixon is the best-known example of pre-emptive use of the pardon power, there is another significant precedent for presidential pardons of high administration officials. Shortly before leaving office, in December 1992, President George H.W. Bush pardoned six individuals who had been convicted or were in legal trouble over their involvement in the Iran-Contra scandal, including former Defense Secretary Caspar Weinberger, who was about to go on trial for lying to Congress.
Independent prosecutor Lawrence Walsh, who had been investigating Iran-Contra since 1986, charged at the time that "the Iran-contra cover-up, which has continued for more than six years, has now been completed." He also suggested that Bush himself might have been involved in "a conspiracy among the highest ranking Reagan Administration officials to lie to Congress and the American public."
Among those pardoned at that time was former Assistant Secretary of State Elliott Abrams, who had pleaded guilty to withholding information from Congress. Abrams is currently a Deputy National Security Advisor to George W. Bush.
LSB: I don't think Bush will pre-emptively pardon these criminals, as that would be tantamount to admitting their guilt. Not only does he not think they are criminals, he knows that the Democratic leadership in the Congress lacks the balls to even call for an investigation.

Some legal scholars believe appointing Clinton to State would be unconstitutional

Ron Brynaert, Raw Story: While the appointment of Senator Hillary Clinton to Secretary of State appears to be an all but done deal, there are some legal scholars who believe that the move would be unconstitutional."
Why? Because the Constitution forbids the appointment of members of Congress to administration jobs if the salary of the job they'd take was raised while they were in Congress," NBC's Pete Williams reports.
Article I, Section 6: "No Senator or Representative shall, during the Time for which he was elected, be appointed to any civil Office under the Authority of the United States which shall have been created, or the Emoluments whereof shall have been increased during such time; and no Person holding any Office under the United States, shall be a Member of either House during his Continuance in Office."
An Emolument is defined as the product (as salary or fees) of an employment, The Atlantic's Matthew Berger points out."
Essentially, you cannot take a job if the salary was increased during your current congressional term," Berger notes. "And the salary for cabinet officials has gone up in the past year. Even if it is lowered back down, constitutional scholars say that may not be enough to fix the problem."
The Washington Post notes, "In Clinton's case, during her current term in the Senate, which began in January 2007, cabinet salaries were increased from $186,600 to $191,300."
MSNBC adds, "The usual workaround is for Congress to lower the salary of the job back to what it was so that the nominee can take it without receiving the benefit of the pay increase that was approved while the nominee was in Congress. This maneuver, which has come to be known as 'the Saxbe fix,' addresses the clear intent of the Constitution, to prevent self-dealing."
The Post explains that the "'fix' came in 1973, when President Nixon nominated Ohio Sen. William Saxbe (R) to be attorney general after the famed 'Saturday Night Massacre' during the Watergate scandal. Saxbe was in the Senate in 1969 when the AG's pay was raised."
However, Professor Michael Stokes Paulsen, a Constitutional law expert at St. Thomas School of Law in Minneapolis, is skeptical that this 'fix' is constitutional: "A 'fix' can rescind the salary,” he added, “but it cannot repeal historical events. The emoluments of the office had been increased. The rule specified in the text still controls.”
"The question is whether this would be an issue at confirmation - if Clinton is nominated to the post - and who would raise it," Berger writes. "Senators traditionally grant their colleagues some deference and it could be considered politics at its worst if Republicans try to block her nomination with this argument. But senators may be loathe to vote for something scholars tell them is unconstitutional."
Berger believes that "this development may make Obama, or Clinton, think twice about the appointment."
The conservative Hot Air blog observes that "Obama would be far from the first President to run afoul of this restriction."
"Nixon appointed William Saxbe to be Attorney General under similar circumstance, while Jimmy Carter appointed Ed Muskie to the same position Hillary will fill," Ed Morrissey writes for Hot Air. "Her husband appointed Lloyd Bentsen to run Treasury in the last such instance. No one ever proposed impeachment or a disqualification for these appointments, all of whom took their offices without much controversy at all."
Morrissey concludes, "Still, the intent of the founders is clear, and not something to shrug off so lightly. They wanted to keep Congress from creating cushy sinecures for them to occupy when a friendly President took office. The attraction of power, cash, and cronyism would lead to corruption and a permanent political class that would cease answering to the electorate. The question should get asked, or Congress should amend the Constitution if no one wants to enforce that restriction any longer."
LSB: I may be alone in this, but I hope the Republicans bring this up at the confirmation hearings and deny Hilary this position. It isn't that she isn't qualified or a team player or that I think she's a bad pick, but this would continually be about Bill Clinton. The SNL skit last weekend wasn't far off. Obama has had several picks for his staff from the Clinton White House, which is understandable for their experience, but he also needs to get out from under the Clintons and show some of the "change factor" for which he was elected.

Ann Coulter's Jaw Wired Shut

HuffingtonPost.com: Ann Coulter may be completely silenced, at least for a while. If the New York Post's Page Six report is true, Coulter broke her jaw and her mouth is wired shut:
WE HEAR...THAT although we didn't think it would be possible to silence Ann Coulter, the leggy reaction- ary broke her jaw and the mouth that roared has been wired shut...
LSB: Dear Santa, Thanks for the early Christmas gift. But could you make it permanent? Thanks, and best to Mrs. Claus!

Torture and the rule of law: Did Bush just call Democrats' bluff?

David Neiwert, Crooks and Liars: Rachel Maddow had Jonathan Turley on yesterday to discuss the Wall Street Journal story reporting that the Bush administration had no intention of issuing pardons for the people involved in its torture operations because they don't think it's necessary. (Click the pic for the vid.)
And what Turley observed should be alarming to anyone concerned about whether or not Democrats are going to have the spine to return the U.S. to the rule of law -- by, among other things, holding torturers and the people who enabled them accountable:
Maddow: So the White House says now, at least to the Wall Street Journal, that they are not likely to pardon anyone who might have implemented or taken part in these torture policies because they believe that their Justice Department memos excuse them, so there's no need to pardon anyone. Are you buying that reasoning?
Turley: No. I don't believe that anyone seriously believes in the administration that what they did is legal. This is not a close legal question. Waterboarding is torture. It has been defined as a crime by U.S. courts and by foreign courts. There's no ambiguity in it. That is exactly why they have repeatedly acted to stop any court from reviewing any of this.
And so what's really happening here is a rather clever move at this intersection of law and politics. That what the administration is doing, is they know that the people that want him to pardon our torture program is primarily the Democrats, not the Republicans. The Democratic leadership would love to have a pardon so they could go to their supporters and say, "Look, there's really nothing we could do. We're just going to have this truth commission, and we'll get the truth out, but there really can't be any indictments now."
Well, the Bush administration is calling their bluff. They know that the Democratic leadership will not allow criminal investigations or indictments. And in that way the Democrats will actually repair Bush's legacy, because he will be able to say, "There was nothing stopping indictments or prosecutions, but a Democratic congress and a Democratic White House didn't think there was any basis for it."
There's been a certain amount of dismay expressed by progressives over the past week or so about Obama's emerging Cabinet and the lack of any real liberals within his administration so far; some of this is reasonable, some of it excessive.
But if Turley is right, and the Obama administration and congressional Democrats do what they've been doing all along -- going along to get along, and putting politics over principle -- when it comes to confronting the reality that torture was conducted under American auspices, then the resulting uproar and outrage will be fully deserved.
The campaign is already under way. In this morning's Washington Post, Jack Goldsmith -- who was up to his neck in the torture dealings, but who also made a principled stand against the policies -- launched the first effort to shoot down not just any prosecutions and indictments, even any "truth commission" at all.
So Democrats and Republicans will beat their teeth over it for a few weeks, agree to set up a toothless "truth commission," and let these war criminals walk slowly away.
It's going to be up to the public -- the ordinary citizens who want the black stain of torture removed the national fabric -- to remind their spineless representatives that torture is torture, war crimes are war crimes, and the rule of law requires those who flouted it to face the consequences -- go-along-get-along politics be damned.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Princeton Proposition 8 to protect traditional sidewalk values


From some wonderful students at Princeton:

CAMPAIGN TO REMOVE FRESHMEN FROM SIDEWALKS IN SECOND SUCCESSFUL WEEK

11/24/08--Princeton, NJ--A group of students at Princeton University would like to eliminate the right of freshmen to walk on campus sidewalks. Stating that they would like to "preserve traditional sidewalk values" that define a sidewalk as a "pathway for sophomores, juniors, seniors, graduate students, faculty, staff, and other members of the university community," the group, which is acting in support of a measure termed "Princeton Proposition 8," is now entering its second successful week of demonstration.

The students emphasize that they are not "froshophobic" and that some of their best friends are freshmen, but they maintain that freshmen on the sidewalk degrade the sacred institution of sidewalks, and jeopardize the validity of upperclassmen's own perambulation. It also makes some of them uncomfortable. They are very excited that California's Proposition 8 has set a clear precedent for a majority to eliminate a minority group's civil rights, and they see it as a perfect opportunity to utilize this development for their own gain.

The demonstration, which has featured signs, chants, and original music, has collected almost 500 signatures for a petition in support of Princeton Proposition 8, including those of many professors and even University President Shirley M. Tilghman. A video report of the protest produced by the University's 'Daily Princetonian' has received 21,000 views on YouTube in just two days. It has also been featured on dozens of regional and national blogs including Campus Progress Action's Pushback, DailyKos, and Andrew Sullivan's Daily Dish. The organizers of the demonstration have also begun outreach to other universities.

The demonstration will continue at the plaza in front of Firestone Library on the Princeton campus between 9:30 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. on Monday 11/24 and Tuesday 11/25.

The Princeton Proposition 8 campaign aims to secure the definition of Princeton University sidewalks as a means of pedestrian transit for sophomores, juniors, seniors, graduate students, faculty, staff, and other members of the university community, but supports the elimination of the right of freshmen to walk on sidewalks.

Only walking on sidewalks by sophomores, juniors, and senior students is valid or recognized at Princeton.

###

Contact: Christopher Simpson (cjsimpso@princeton.edu)

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

The Mormon War On Gay People

I have never done anything - nor would I do anything - to impede or restrict the civil rights of Mormons. I respect their right to freedom of conscience and religion. In fact, it is one of my strongest convictions. But when they use
their money and power to target my family, to break it up, to demean it and
marginalize it, to strip me and my husband of our civil rights, then they have
started a war. And I am not a pacifist....
T]he Mormons are particularly vicious homophobes. Gay people are rendered invisible, their personhood erased in this church. The cruelty the Mormon church inflicts on its gay members is matched only by the Mormons' centuries-long demonization and hatred of black people. That African-Americans would seek common cause with a church that only recently still believed they were the product of Satan shows how profound homophobia can be. But this shared hatred can be exploited by the Hewitts and Romneys of this world. And what we have just witnessed is a trial run for much larger ambitions.
If we don't resist this now, we will not be able to resist it later.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

What It Felt Like to Be Equal

Judith Warner, NYT: I had barely finished sniffling over Barack Obama’s victory when I received an e-mail message from Amy Silverstein, the wife of my best friend from high school, Angela Padilla.
She had been glad to read last week’s piece on “the groundbreaking immensity of the election of our country’s first African-American president,” she said.
Up to a point.
“I wanted to make sure you knew and appreciated that despite this seeming like an amazing step forward for all who have suffered discrimination and/or who are deeply committed to eliminating it, this election was anything but that for G.L.B.T. people and our families,” she wrote. “Especially in California, but in three other states as well, the electorate convincingly voted to deny us basic civil rights and made clear that we are a long way from being seen and treated as equal. Protecting traditional marriage is simply code for discrimination. There is no ‘triumph’ for us, and the long period of pain, indignity and injustice continues."
There’s nothing worse than being told you have a major blind spot. That your self-assured joyousness is built upon exclusion.
Particularly when the person telling you this is right.
Now, I hadn’t exactly ignored the spate of anti-gay ballot initiatives that had passed — in California, Arkansas, Florida and Arizona — on Nov. 4. I’d read about the success of Arizona’s long-attempted gay marriage ban and California’s Proposition 8, which prohibited gay marriage just six months after the state’s Supreme Court ruled that the right to marry was fundamental, and constitutionally protected, for all.
I’d read about how voters in Florida had decided to target not only same-sex marriage but all relationships that were the “substantial equivalent” of marriage, like domestic partnerships and civil unions, and how in Arkansas, where gay marriage was already banned, voters had decided to deny anyone “cohabitating outside a valid marriage” the right to adopt or be a foster parent.
How strange, I’d thought, reading about how, on the day of progressive victories — Obama’s historic win, South Dakota voters’ rejection of a wide-ranging abortion ban, Californians voting down a ballot initiative that would have required parental notification for abortion — these states had passed such uniquely reactionary and discriminatory measures. How ugly. That’s really too bad.
And then I’d moved on. As most people who were not directly affected by the anti-gay rights measures did. There was just too much else to feel good about.
“I think the country was like, ‘Look, you get Obama, call it a day and go home,” is how Kyrsten Sinema, a Democratic state representative in Arizona, who’d opposed her state’s anti-gay ballot initiative, put it to The Times last week.
Ed Swanson couldn’t move on.
The day after the election, the San Francisco lawyer and his husband, Paul Herman, a stay-at-home dad, had had to face the fact that Proposition 8 could mean that their marriage would be invalidated. They’d also had to go to parent conferences and tell the teachers that their five-year-old daughter, Liza, might be struggling in school because she was scared that her family might fall apart.
Liza, who has a twin sister, Katie, had peppered Swanson and Herman with questions once she’d realized that marriages uniting “a boy and a boy” were no longer allowed.
“They can’t take yours away, right?” she’d asked her parents. “They can’t take yours away when you have children, can they?"
“That’s when we realized she was afraid something would happen to us,” Swanson told me by phone on Wednesday. “We said, ‘They can’t take us away from you. We will be here for you forever.'"
“It’s difficult to explain to a five-year-old why it is people don’t want your parents to be married,” he continued. “They’re young enough that there was a chance they could have grown up thinking all their lives that their family was equal and accepted. Now they’re not going to have that chance. They’ll have to spend at least part of their lives knowing that their family is something that people don’t feel is acceptable."
Jeanne Rizzo, the C.E.O. of the Breast Cancer Fund, can’t quite move on either. She spent election night in a reception room at San Francisco’s Westin St. Francis Hotel. She and her long-term partner, Pali Cooper, were married in September, one of 18,000 California couples who managed to wed in the short space of time between the California Supreme Court’s decision to legalize gay marriage and the passage of Proposition 8.
In one room, Obama supporters were jubilant. In another, opponents of Proposition 4 — the parental notification initiative -– shouted their glee. In hers, the opponents of Proposition 8 saw their joy at Obama’s election turn quickly to “absolute disbelief and pain” as the results of the ballot initiative came in. “It was such a kick in the stomach. The whole hotel was just rocking with joy. We felt so disconnected from it,” Rizzo recalled when I talked to her on Wednesday.
It wasn’t that she begrudged Obama his victory. It was just that his historic triumph made the insult to her community all the more painful. An awful thought came to her that night: Now we’re the designated cultural outcasts. “It’s almost like we’re the last group you can be openly bigoted about,” she told me.
“You look around and you think more than half of the people in this state voted to take this away from us? At a time when we’re celebrating the election of an African American to the White House? I don’t know how you heal from it,” she said. “It’s hard to get it out of your bones.”
It’s easy, if you’re straight, to file away the gay marriage issue in a little folder in your mind, to render it, essentially, inessential. It can fall into the category of “bones you throw the religious right because things could be so much worse.” Or “things that would be great in a perfect world.” Or “what’s the big deal?” because you don’t actually get what a big deal it is to be able to get married when you’ve never had to consider the alternative.
Many of the gay men and lesbians I spoke or e-mailed with this week didn’t fully realize what a big deal it was to be married either. Until they were.
“I don’t think I had realized until then what it felt like to be equal,” Swanson told me. “Paul and I went on a honeymoon in Santa Fe. People would ask and we’d say we’re on our honeymoon; we just got married. We could say it not because it was a political statement but because it was a fact.
“I don’t feel equal anymore. It was a great feeling, while it lasted.”
Judith Warner's book, "Perfect Madness: Motherhood in the Age of Anxiety" (excerpt, NPR interview), a New York Times best-seller, was published in February 2005.

December 10th 2008: Day Without a Gay

JoinTheImpact.com: On December 10th, we ask that the LGBTQ community Call in Gay! Don’t go to work, don’t consume, don’t contribute to this economy at all… instead, contribute to your community through volunteer work, community outreach, and social outreach.
We are taking a new spin on boycott. During the busy shopping season where analysts have year over year numbers, we want to watch the graph dip as we take our tax dollars and keep them.
Instead, we will give to the organizations that need our time and help. We are taxpaying citizens who contribute to this economy.
We deserve legal protections from our government and marriage provides 10,000+ legal protections that are not awarded to our families!
Read Joel Stein’s Call to Action and Visit DayWithoutAGay.org

Mixner: Quote of the Day

Live from Turkey Hollow: As I watch the self-righteous, right wing religious extremists cheer because of their victory with Proposition 8, I thought of the old anarchist Emma Goldman who said, "Heaven must be an awfully dull place if poor in spirit live there."

Over 120 Protesters Set Denton, TX Record

The Advocate: Congratulations to the protest in Denton - it was one of the biggest Denton has ever seen! (Photo from John McClelland)
LSB: From Wikipedia - "The July 2007 United States Census Bureau estimate gave Denton's population as 115,506... Denton is home to two state universities, the University of North Texas, the largest university in North Texas and the third largest in Texas, and Texas Woman's University, the largest state-supported university for women in the United States." So if there are 115,000+ people living in Denton, and if (conservatively) 1% of the population (1,150) is gay, then only about 1% (115) of the gay population in Denton turned out for the protest. From the additional pictures shown on The Advocate webpage, there were a lot of kids and PFLGers there so it wasn't even 1% of the gay population at the rally. I realize that this IS Texas, afterall, but it is kind of sad that more of us weren't at rallies supporting this basic civil right. Texas ain't gonna change, friends, until more of us get out there and demand our rights!

If it’s Sunday, it’s still conservative.

ThinkProgress.org: In 2006, Media Matters conducted a study on Sunday political talk shows, finding that “Republicans and conservatives have been offered more opportunities to appear on the Sunday shows — in some cases, dramatically so.” From 2001 to 2005, conservative guests outnumbered progressives “by 58 percent to 42 percent.” Atrios notes that [today's] shows will also be dominated by conservative guests:
  • 7 Appearances by Republican current elected officeholders
  • 3 Appearances by Democratic current elected officeholders
  • 2 Appearances by Republican former elected officeholders
  • 1 Appearance by a Bush Cabinet Secretary
  • T. Boone Pickens
  • Ted Turner

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Clown Car




I Am He as You Are He as You Are Me and We Are All Together

Evan Handler, HuffingtonPost.com: I've heard a loud public outcry from prominent gay Americans about the passage of Proposition 8, but not as much from the so called "straight" community. I think it needs to be said as loudly as possible, by as many people as possible: the passage of Proposition 8 in California is an embarrassment to, and an indictment of, all Americans.
Let's get clarity right away: Denying any Americans any rights that other Americans hold is discrimination. Period. It doesn't matter whether the discrimination is motivated by morality, or religious beliefs, or a Ouija board, it's still discrimination. And that makes it illegal. (And that comes after the fact that it's wrong.) It should be clear to everyone (or made clear to them) that it puts us all in danger of the same kind of discrimination being pointed our way the moment someone decides we're on the wrong side of their moral or religious measurements.
So, what to do about a situation in which more than 50% of the voters choose to sanction discrimination? I don't think the answer is terribly exotic (I love you Michael Patrick King, and I loved your piece, but I don't think the cage bit will do the trick; they'd like to see you in a cage). Discrimination has been overcome before, and the route toward redemption this time, I'm guessing, will be the same.
First, everyone who finds this discrimination to be an outrage (and everyone should) needs to get on board in fighting it. And then, as a group, we need to impress upon the slightly larger group of voters how important we all are to them, and how much they'd miss us if we were gone. In other words, start withholding business from those who don't get it. From this moment forward, all anti-discrimination Americans should take their weddings out of California. No honeymoons in California, either. I'm sorry to suggest divvying up the world this way, but some research needs to be done in terms of which hotel chains, flower distributors, gift outlets, and departments stores (and which of their owners and board members) supported or resisted the passage of the measure, and steps need to be taken to punish those who fought against equal rights for all, or didn't fight hard enough in defense of them.
If you happen to know particular businesses in-state who stand on the right side of equal rights measures, then by all means, throw business their way. My point is that it's time for all enlightened citizens to stand beside, around, between, and in formation with those who are being denied the rights we've all earned, and are entitled to. A threat (and an insult) to one is an insult to all. It's time to push back hard. Not as a minority group fighting for equal rights, but as a massive spending block of multi-colored Americans, aware that any discrimination is an unacceptable infringement on all of our rights to live in a free -- and equal -- society.

Obama to Reverse More Than 200 Bush Executive Orders

From the Left: Let the clean up begin!!
Transition advisers to President-elect Barack Obama have compiled a list of about 200 Bush administration actions and executive orders that could be swiftly undone to reverse policies on climate change, stem cell research, reproductive rights and other issues, according to congressional Democrats, campaign aides and experts working with the transition team.
A team of four dozen advisers, working for months in virtual solitude, set out to identify regulatory and policy changes Obama could implement soon after his inauguration. The team is now consulting with liberal advocacy groups, staffers and potential agency chiefs to prioritize those they regard as the most onerous or ideologically offensive, said a top transition official who was not permitted to speak on the record about the inner workings of the transition.
In some instances, Obama would be quickly delivering on promises he made during his two-year campaign, while in others he would be embracing Clinton-era policies upended by President Bush during his eight years in office.
Obama himself has signaled, for example, that he intends to reverse Bush’s controversial limit on federal funding of embryonic stem cell research, a decision that scientists say has restrained research into some of the most promising avenues for defeating a wide array of diseases, such as Parkinson’s.
Bush’s August 2001 decision pleased religious conservatives who have moral objections to the use of cells from days-old human embryos, which are destroyed in the process.
America is back and in a big way!
LSB: It can't happen soon enough! Out with the garbage!!

Clooney: Quote of the Day

“At some point in our lifetime, gay marriage won’t be an issue, and everyone who stood against this civil right will look as outdated as George Wallace standing on the school steps keeping James Hood from entering the University of Alabama because he was black.”- George Clooney, weighs in on Prop 8

Priest: No Communion for Obama Supporters

From the Left: If the religious bigots in the Mormon church aren’t bad enough, now we learn of a South Carolina Roman Catholic priest who instructed his parishioners they should refrain from receiving Holy Communion if they voted for Barack Obama because the Democratic president-elect supports abortion, and supporting him “constitutes material cooperation with intrinsic evil.”
The Rev. Jay Scott Newman said in a letter distributed Sunday to parishioners at St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Greenville that they are putting their souls at risk if they take Holy Communion before doing penance for their vote.
“Our nation has chosen for its chief executive the most radical pro-abortion politician ever to serve in the United States Senate or to run for president,” Newman wrote, referring to Obama by his full name, including his middle name of Hussein.
LSB: And apparently this isn't the first clergy to dole out punishment to the flock for supporting Obama. Perhaps it is time for the IRS to check the status of these "churches" to see if they are in fact churches, or agents of the Republican Party and tax them as such! SEPARATION OF CHURCH AND STATES MEANS THE CHURCH STAYS THE FUCK OUT OF POLITICS!

The Colbert Report Word: The Pity Party


White House serves $500 wine for economic crisis meeting

Chris in Paris, AmericaBlog.com: No wonder Bush has been such a blockhead with the economy. This is a person that no matter what, does not get it. There are plenty of fine wines out there for a fraction of the price and when you get into the $500 range, you are often buying for your ego more than anything. There are exceptions but do you really want to prove the rule at such an event? Dumb. Dumb. Dumb. Let the peasants drink boxed wine.
My favorite mayor (Paris mayor Bertrand Delanoë) auctioned off an incredible wine collection that was started years ago when Chirac had been mayor. Michelin restaurants would have loved having such a lavish collection but Delanoë thought it was silly for a mayor's office to buy and maintain such a collection and then the wines are much too precious to serve at official events. Chirac was less than happy with the auction but even in a nation of wine lovers, Delanoë easily won the debate.

Maddow on Lieberman

Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Sen. Bernie Sander (D-VT) publicly oppose Sen. Joe "Traitor Joe" Lieberman's retention of his Homeland Security Committee chairmanship.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Please Support CA-Prop. 13 - Eliminating Right to Divorce

Dear Registered Voters of the Great State of California,
On Tuesday, November 4, 2008, the People of California truly triumphed. Californians played a critical role in electing Barack Obama the first African-American President of the United States; Californians affirmed the need for our farm animals to be treated humanely; Californians voted to protect a teenager’s right to have an abortion. Perhaps most importantly, Californians voted to amend our constitution and eliminate the right of same-sex couples to marry.
The will of the people has been made clear. However, our work is not done. Therefore, I hope you will join me in pursuing the next critical step in improving our state marriage laws. Specifically, I hope you will support California Proposition 13, which is summarized as such:
13 – ELIMINATES RIGHT OF MARRIED COUPLES TO DIVORCE. INITIATIVE CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT.
Some of you may be thinking, "What? That makes no sense. I voted to eliminate same-sex marriage but I definitely support the right to divorce." However, I would assert that you just weren’t thinking things through when you voted Yes on Proposition 8. I will show you why eliminating the right to divorce makes even more sense than eliminating the right for same-sex couples to marry.
California voters voted "Yes on Proposition 8" for the following reasons:
To protect/restore traditional marriage
To protect Californian families
To protect our children from exposure to ideas that are inconsistent with traditional marriage
To preserve the sanctity of marriage, as defined by our religious beliefs
Let's review how Proposition 13 does an even better job of accomplishing these goals than Proposition 8.

HOW PROPOSITION 13 PROTECTS/RESTORES TRADITIONAL MARRIAGE
A common cry among anti-gay marriage proponents across the country is that gay marriage is an attack on traditional marriage, and as such the electorate needs to move swiftly to "protect" or "restore" marriage. However, there is no clearer threat to marriage than divorce. In order to truly protect marriage, we must ban divorce.
Contrary to everybody’s apparent fear, granting gay people the right to marry does not result in the dissolution of traditional families. Both Massachusetts and California granted this right to its gay citizens. However, we haven’t even seen an anecdote – let alone an epidemic – of heterosexual couples divorcing in Massachusetts or California as a direct result of gay marriage.
There has not been a single instance of a married man saying, "Oh well, gays can marry now, so I’m going to leave my wife and children" (trust me, we would know if there was such a case). In fact, the divorce rate in Massachusetts actually fell following the approval of gay marriage.
In the United States, 0.5% of all people aged 15 to 64 get a divorce every year. This divorce rate is higher than most industrialized countries, indicating a clear attack on American marriage. As shown above, this is not the fault of gay marriage in Massachusetts. However, if we move to ban divorce in California, then we can ensure that over 99% of all marriages are preserved. In fact, there would be no factor – divorce, gay marriage, or otherwise – that could threaten marriage.
Some of our less responsible citizens may try to go to Nevada to get a divorce, but under our amended constitution we don’t have to recognize that divorce.
HOW PROPOSITION 13 PROTECTS CALIFORNIAN FAMILIES
The signs in support of Yes on 8 were so cute – stick figures of a man, woman, a boy and a girl. Surely, gay marriage threatens the stability of this family...somehow. I don’t have any data to support my assertion, but I’m pretty sure that it’s true.
What I do have data on are the crippling effects of divorce on families in the United States: Only 63% of American children grow up with both biological parents – the lowest figure in the Western world. I am one of the 37% who did not get to live with both of my biological parents. In fact, I have lived through 3 different divorces. Many victims of divorce, like my older sisters, end up having an irrepressible need for attachment and end up jumping into marriage – only to end up getting divorces of their own. Other victims, like me, end up with the exact opposite problem – our crippling fear of commitment stops us from getting anywhere close to something resembling marriage.
Have I tugged at your heartstrings and completely distracted you from the issue at hand? Good. Heartrending true stories aside, I think you will agree with me that nothing destroys families quite like divorce. This is why we need to vote to eliminate this threat to our families.
HOW PROPOSITION 13 PROTECTS OUR CHILDREN FROM EXPOSURE TO IMMORAL IDEAS
A new argument against gay marriage that appeared this election cycle – and a very big reason why many of you voted for Proposition 8 – is to prevent our public schools from teaching children about gay marriage. I agree that our children should not be corrupted by exposure to concepts that are not consistent with "traditional values." I would therefore not only vote to stop schools from teaching children about gay marriage, I would also vote to stop schools from teaching concepts such as evolution, slavery, and dictatorships. By teaching children that dictatorships exist, for example, we give them the opportunity to decide that they like dictators and might want to become one someday. Clearly this is anti-American and against our values.
Unfortunately, California is not ready to stop exposing our children to science, history, and international political systems. However, it is clear that Californians today care very deeply about whether and how marriage is taught in schools. We must therefore capitalize on this interest and stop all teachers from using the word "divorce" in Californian classrooms. By teaching our children that divorce exists, we cheapen the institution of marriage by implying that marriage is not permanent. Indeed, nothing cheapens the institution of marriage more than divorce. We must make it clear: marriage is a permanent civil contract between a man and a woman, and there are no exceptions.
Some might say that this position – amending the constitution to influence a lesson plan – is a little bit extreme. It might seem as though there could be a better way to reinforce traditional marriage in the classroom. However, the voters made clear that the only way to stop a concept from being taught in schools is to eliminate it outright. After all, if we could have voted on a law that prevented schools from teaching gay marriage, rather than a constitutional amendment that eliminates rights, then wouldn’t we have done that instead?
HOW PROPOSITION 13 AFFIRMS OUR RELIGIOUS BELIEFS
We all know that we need the government to approve and adhere to our religious beliefs. Equally, if we do not influence civil law to read exactly like our religious laws, then God becomes very, very angry with us and sends various natural and unnatural disasters our way. After all, God has made clear that He would prefer his believers be required by the government to follow His laws, rather than voluntarily follow out of obedience and love for Him.
Many religious organizations got involved in the passage of Proposition 8, and many religious leaders strongly encouraged their followers to not only vote for – but donate to – Proposition 8. One Mormon family in California gave $30,000 in support of Proposition 8. If you think that’s impressive, then consider the $1,000,000 donation that was given by Mormon Alan Ashton...of Utah.
It is inspiring to see so many people of faith work so hard to push their religious views through the ballot box. Unfortunately, I think many of them believe that their work is done. Surely, it is not. Gay marriage is never mentioned in the Bible. In fact, if you go back to the original Hebrew and Greek translations of the Bible, then monogamous gay relationships between two consenting adults is never mentioned, either (http://www.religioustolerance.org/hom_marj.htm). Oddly enough, in the English translation, passages get broadened from (paraphrasing) "homosexual prostitution is bad" in Hebrew/Greek to "all homosexual activity is bad" in English.
God’s position on gay marriage, or even gay relationships, may be unclear, but not much is unclear about His position on divorce. Malachi 2:16 (NIV) states: "’I hate divorce,’ says the Lord God of Israel." Matthew 19:6 further asserts: "So they are no longer two, but one. Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate."
Christians of all stripes, our work is not done. Just as we are offended by homosexual marriage, we must be even more offended by divorce. Furthermore, since so many religious individuals donated with such zeal to pass Proposition 8, I fully expect that the same people will donate as much (if not more!) to pass Proposition 13.
ARGUMENTS AGAINST PROPOSITION 13
Some may say that they did not vote for Proposition 8 for any of the above reasons. However, I don’t believe them. Opponents of Proposition 8 often claimed that people were in favor of Proposition 8 due to hatred and/or fear of homosexual individuals. However, this is the Great State of California that we are talking about. This is a state where unicorns outnumber bigots.
Some have further asserted that people voted for Proposition 8 out of fear that their children might become homosexual. However, that also does not fly. It makes no sense that the mere presence (or lack thereof) of gay marriage would turn people into homosexuals. It is not a disease; it cannot be caught through mere exposure to the concept. Californians are much smarter than that. If I’m wrong, then I will sell my unicorn farm.
THE ENDLESS POSSIBILITIES AFTER PROPOSITION 13
Imagine what we can do after passing Propositions 8 and 13. We don’t have to stop there.
  • Proposition 14 can eliminate the right of Hispanics to marry white people – they can instead register for domestic partnerships.
  • Proposition 15 can eliminate the right of Jewish people to engage in business contracts with Catholics – they can instead do business based on trust.
  • Proposition 16 can eliminate the right of people over 65 to drive each other – they can instead accompany one another on public transportation.
  • Proposition 17 can eliminate the right of women to own property – they can instead get married to a man who can own the property for them.
This may all sound ridiculous now, but fundamental rights in California can be eliminated with only a simple majority vote. I am confident that we can achieve this majority. While many demographic groups were evenly split in the recent election, one group in particular may now be predisposed to eliminating rights. More than two thirds of black voters voted Yes on 8. Clearly, this is a group who agrees that the majority should be allowed to vote on the minority’s rights.
Furthermore, this group also agrees that it is possible to be separate but equal. We welcome them to our coalition, and we also look forward to voting on their constitutional rights. In summary, I thank you for your support of Proposition 13 as we place it on the next statewide ballot. I will be collecting both signatures and donations as we work together to further protect marriage from its greatest threat: divorce. I hope that you have been inspired by your fellow Californians this past November 4. After all, less than 4 million Californians voted for McCain, but almost 5.5 million Californians also voted to eliminate the right of same-sex couples to marry. This means that well over 1 million Californians said "Yes we can" with the rest of the country, but concurrently added another old adage to the end: Yes we can...no they can’t.
We should follow their lead.
Sincerely,
A Concerned California Citizen

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Historic for Some, Same Old Shit for the Rest of Us

Harvey Fierstein: While we dance in the streets and pat ourselves on the back for being a nation great enough to reach beyond racial divides to elect our first African-American president let us not forget that we remain a nation still proudly practicing prejudice.
I have heard this day described as one of transcendence where Americans came together to prove that we are, above all, a nation of fairness. World witnesses wrote that we rose above ideology, politics and bigotry to achieve a great moment for America. Meanwhile, on this same Election Day, we great Americans passed laws as heinous as any Jim Crow legislation. We great Americans reached out and willfully put our name to language that denies an entire minority group their equal rights.
Of course I am referring to the states of Florida, Arizona and California passing legislation to specifically deny gay people from entering into the contract of marriage. Actually, that's not true. We can still get married, just not to each other. Yes my friends, Florida and California have now made it legal for gay men and lesbians to marry as long as we don't marry our partners. How much sense does that make?
Now, before you rise up on your high horse to holler, "We're not against Civil Unions, just Gay Marriage", let me once again explain that THE SUPREME COURT HAS STATED THAT SEPARATE BUT EQUAL IS NOT EQUAL. And even if it were, civil unions are simply not equal to marriage.
Let me give you a simple example that anyone can follow. John and Jim are registered as domestic partners and so, just like a married couple; Jim is covered by John's employee health care. That's really nice. BUT... since the IRS does not recognize civil unions or domestic partnership Jim has to pay income tax on the value of this coverage. So, unlike a married couple, John and Jim are penalized hundreds of dollars for not being married. That's not fair. That's not in the spirit of the civil union legislation. And that's just the tip of the iceberg of the inequality being offered.
Listen, my fellow Americans, I am only asking that we get sensible about this controversy. Gays are not asking for religious blessings. We are not asking for everyone to come to our weddings. We are not asking the government to force churches and synagogues to perform marriage rituals or even to allow us into their tax-exempt edifices. We are simply and forcefully demanding equal protection under the laws of this nation as tax paying, voting, property owning citizens. I want no more or less protection than granted any heterosexual to control and distribute my holdings.
State sanctioned marriage is a civil contract period. A contract is not a judgment of moral value. It is a legal agreement between two parties that testifies to a meeting of minds between those consenting entities. It is not a religious act or rite and so has nothing to do with Adam and Eve or Steve or even Harvey. I often say that if you want to really want to understand the contract of marriage just ask anyone who has been divorced. The marriage contract is one of property rights. Or maybe you can look in the bible to see what Adam had to say about divorce since Eve was his second wife.
So, while we rightfully celebrate the election of our first African American president, let us take a moment to mourn the passage of three new laws legalizing prejudice. Of course there will be those who claim that voters were only protecting the institution of marriage to whom I would suggest it is just as likely that Obama's supporters were only voting against W. Breaking the lock on my door doesn't make your home any more secure.

Obama Wins. And So Does Fear, Hate and Prop 8

John Ridley: The cheers, the tears, the jubilation over the election of our 44th president. All of it deserved. But some of it overshadowed by the harsh, white light of reality that burned in the west. As Americans -- many of whom have never even had a black man for a boss -- elected a person of color president, a narrow but sharp margin of Californians stole the rights of her citizens. By supporting bailot proposition number 8 they refused gays the right to marry.
Two other gay marriage bans, in Florida and Arizona, also passed. But the egregiousness of Prop 8 is compounded by the fact California had previously allowed for same sex marriages. Rights were not merely denied, they were removed. Citizens stripped of previously granted privileges. "Privileges" which should be protected under the Constitution to begin with.
In the new age of Barack Obama there is perhaps no greater lingering vestige of systemic bigotry than the barring of same sex marriages. The hypocrisy and false piety of the deniers aside, the relationships of gays have no effect on heteros. Especially all the heteros who've done such a marvelous job of debasing marriage on their own all these many years. Politicians on the left and right love to expatiate on the need to defend "traditional" marriage. Usually just prior to engaging in some extra-marital affair with a paramour or boy toy or just an old fashioned hooker. And fine. Have at it. I'm no moralist. Do as you please as long as you balance the budget. But until politicos take a true stand in defense of marriage by proposing an anti-adultry amendment to the Constitution, stop demonizing gays and lesbians when the one debasing your marriage is the individual in the mirror.
Why is it that the very people who have fought so hard and so long for the simple entitlement to love whom they choose to love are the very ones denied that right by those who routinely take their vows for granted?
And the specious arguments about protecting the sanctity of marriage?
May I remind you of the words of Congressman Seaborn Roddenbery of Georgia on non-traditional relationships:
"It is contrary and averse to every sentiment of pure American spirit. It is contrary and averse to the very principles of a pure Saxon government. It is subversive of social peace. No more voracious parasite ever sucked at the heart of pure society and moral status."
Congressman Roddenbery spoke those words back in 1912 when he tried to introduce an amendment to the Constitution banning interracial marriage.
Nobody remembers Seaborn Roddenbery.
Today a biracial man is president elect.
Gay marriage will be universally accepted in time. But if I may be so bold as to say to gays and lesbians, don't wait for that time to arrive. Just as my father and his generation did not "wait" for their civil rights, nor should you. The toothpaste ain't going back in the tube. The tide has turned. Don't let anyone tell you to calm down, sit quiet and be patient. Don't let politicians beguile you with their sophistry and semantics on how civil unions will do just fine. Through the power of the courts and the will of instinct and moral authority fight this.
Fight it.
For all the bromides about "left coast" politics, as goes California so goes the nation. The 18,000 same sex couples in our state who are already married deserve not only clarity on their status, but surety. Surety that not only will their status NOT change, but that their ranks will be enhanced.
For those who believe in change, "yes, we can" is already yesterday's catch phrase. Today it is: "now, we must."

Gays in a Cage

Michael Patrick King: What? Does the voting public of this great state of California, who correctly voted to pass Proposition 2 -- which legislated to give caged chickens more room in their cages -- have to actually see the cage that gay people have been put in all theses years to get it? Does it take actual physical evidence of the cage to understand the cruelty of being called "not equal" by Proposition 8? If being in a cage will do the trick -- if that will be the image that our fellow citizens need to see on their television screens to move them to action -- then we will do it. I will call some of my brilliant, gay, Californian, tax-paying citizen designer friends and ask them to design and build a giant cage. Then, I will ask some of my politically savvy, gay, Californian, tax-paying citizen fundraising friends to raise the money. Then, they will call the always charitable, gay, Californian, tax-paying citizen friends who support any worthwhile humanitarian cause in this state and country. Then, I will call 100 to 200 of my successful, tax-paying, Californian gay brothers and sisters to take time off from their jobs as doctors and lawyers and accountants and writers and waiters and nurses and -- I should stop there -- because the list of careers and jobs performed every day by gay citizens to keep California running would go on forever. So -- if that's what it takes -- I'm sure we would all agree to take time off from our busy lives to meet at the Pacific Design Center and cram ourselves into that giant cage. We will poke our heads out of the barbwire. We will stay there in front of the TV cameras until this image makes it clear that it is unnatural and quite frankly cruel to do anything like that to animals or your fellow citizens. We will do it -- if that's what it takes -- because leading our lives with dignity and privacy as vital tax-paying members of society doesn't seem to be doing the trick.

Proposition 2 -- Yes: 63.2 % ... No: 36.8 %

Proposition 8 -- Yes: 52.5 % ... No: 47.5%


Obama’s New Site ‘www.change.gov’ is Operational

From the Left: President-elect Barack Obama’s new website -
- is now operational.
The site is dedicated to keeping true to his commitment of having a transparent and accessible government and provides updates on the status of his new administration, as it begins to take shape.

Reid Spokesperson: Democratic Senators May Vote On Lieberman's Fate In Full Caucus Meeting

Greg Sargent, TPM Central: Senator Harry Reid's office has just confirmed to me, on the record, that Reid is considering a new step: Asking all the Democratic Senators to vote on Lieberman's fate at their upcoming full caucus meeting if Reid and Lieberman are unable to agree on a way for Lieberman to relinquish his plum chairmanship of the Homeland Security committee.
"If Senator Reid and Lieberman don't reach an agreement, his future chairmanship may be put to a vote by the caucus as a whole on November 18th," Reid spokesperson Jim Manley told me, in response to my questions about the next step being mulled by Reid.
Manley's assertion represents the first public acknowledgment that this possibility is being seriously considered, and is a significant ratcheting up of pressure on Lieberman by Reid's office.
Manley said it was unclear as yet how precisely the mechanics of such a move would work, but left no doubt that it was likely to happen if Lieberman and Reid didn't resolve their impasse before the next caucus meeting.
The move would in effect put Lieberman's fate in the hands of his Dem colleagues. Top liberal bloggers -- among them John Aravosis, Josh Orton and Steve Benen -- are already mounting a pressure campaign, calling on their readers to contact Senators and get them to pledge to vote against Lieberman keeping his committee slot.
Others are urging readers to sign a petition calling on Reid to give Lieberman the push.
Late Update: Jane Hamsher also has a petition that readers can sign to press for Lieberman's ouster.
John Aravosis, AmericaBlog.com: Any Democrat who supports this traitor will be held personally responsible when Lieberman launches his full committee witch hunts against the Obama administration. Do Democrats need any more evidence as to what kind of a weasel this guy is? Let Lieberman join the Republicans, then let him vote against everything he's always stood for. Not. Going. To. Happen. Not to mention, let the Republicans deal with Lieberman when he screws them too and refuses to vote the way they want.