Sunday, July 26, 2009

Ed Schultz's Recap of Republican Talking Points on Health Care

In his Psycho Talk segment,Ed Schultz has a gang of Republicans repeating the talking points given to them from The Lewin Group, Frank Luntz and Alex Castellanos for his latest edition of Psycho Talk.

Gov. Rick 'Great Hair' Perry Says Texas Will Secede from Government Health Care. Meanwhile, 1 in 4 Texans Lack Coverage.

All this talk about socialized healthcare! Michael Steele says it's socialism, although he admits he doesn't know a thing about the actual policy.
And as Rachel Maddow points out, have you ever noticed that the more beautiful a politican's hair, the more likely he is to be completely full of crap? Case in point: Texas Gov. Rick Perry.
Maddow really lets him have it because Perry is talking about "seceding" from any national healthcare plan, reminding him (and us) that he's been governor for nine years. As she points out, one in four Texans lack health insurance, giving Texas the title for highest number of uninsured citizens in the entire country.
As Washington Spectator editor and political author Lou Dubose pointed out to Maddow, the Texas governorship is "a ribbon-cutting position." Good thing, because he's not too bright, is he?

Seven Republican Cowards

Steven Reynolds, All Spin Zone: [Wednesday] the Matthew Shepard Act passed in the Senate. President Barack Obama will sign the measure soon. This is a big day for civil liberties and gay Americans. It was also a big day for six GOP cowards, Senators Mel Martinez, Lamar Alexander, Bob Corker, Kitt Bond, Jim Bunning, Judd Gregg and Lindsey Graham. No, these Senators did not vote (Senate Roll Call on Matthew Shepard Act here) against the measure, citing whiney reasons, as did 28 other Republican Senators. They did not stand behind the notion that the Matthew Shepard Act would punish pastors, as the right wing paranoia insists. They did not stand behind the states rights notion, as Senators Kyl and McCain argued. These Senators also did not vote for the measure, as their fellow republicans Olympia Snowe, Susan Collins, Richard Lugar and Lisa Murkowski did. No. Evidently for the cowardly seven, voting on gay rights, either up or down, is too dangerous for them. They are cowards.
Let’s give Jim Bunning a pass, since he is suffering from dementia. Mel Martinez is retiring from the Senate, and he’s probably out seeking other jobs already. Lindsey Graham desperately doesn’t want to be outted, so that might account for his absence. And Judd Gregg’s nonvote is easy to understand, what with him being from a blue state but having to cowtow to the extremists on the religious right for primary votes. Kit Bond is also retiring and not seeking another term, so maybe he, like Jim Bunning, is just lazy in not voting. But the nonvotes of Bob Corker and Lamar Alexander, their cowardice in facing a simple issue, at least by Republican standards, is not so easy to understand. Let’s start with Lamar Alexander.
The actions of Lamar Alexander are not easy to figure out on first blush. Yeah, Alexander is considered a moderate, and his foray into Republican whackjobbery by supporting the Iraq War has turned into an ugly decision. Alexander is in the Republican leadership of the Senate, though, and one would expect him to lead on an issue so importatn to that large right wing Christian constiuency. Certainly on abortion issues Alexander gets a hish rating from the right wing whackjobs, so he’s not normally scared to vote as the puppet of the extremists on the GOP right wing. Alexander just got reelected, so he doesn’t have to appease interest groups for a couple years, and he’s old enough that a run for the Presidency, so he doesn’t have that excuse to dodge a vote. Could it be he has a conscience, or that he might actually be a little teensy bit moderate?
Bob Corker is even harder to figure out. While he gets a perfect rating from the National Right to Life Committee, showing his social conservative bona fides (he’s evidently a flip flopper on abortion from way back, and Tennessee Right to Life has given him a hard time in the past). Corker has shown some minor moderate leanings, joining the Republican Mainstreet Coalition. Still, Corker was an unabashed supporter of the Iraq War and helped carry the water for the failed policies of the Bush years. Maybe he’s seeing the political landscape changing in Tennessee, and even four years out from reelection Corker is protecting himself from looking too much like a whackjob? Guerilla Women, a bunch of liberal Tennessee bloggers, thinks Bob Corker will shift with any wind in order to win an election. I’m thinking this time he’ll doge an issue in order to do so. Simply a coward is my guess.
Bottom line, extending hate crime protection to gay and lesbian members of our society is an important issue, no matter which side of the issue you are on, and these Republicans failed to show. They are paid to represent the citizens of their state, and there are no health issues keeping them from doing so, as is the case with Ted Kennedy and Robert Byrd. Sure, a few of these guys aren’t running again, but that doesn’t mean they are exempt from representing their constiuents while they serve out the remainders of their terms. Their refusal to even vote is simply cowardice in my view. Republican cowardice? Could it be that they are so fearful of angering the whackjob base of the Republican Party that they stayed home?

Pakistan Consumed by Violence as Taliban Power Grows

Susanne Koelbl and Sohail Nasir, Der Spiegel Online: The Taliban's power in Pakistan continues to grow and it now has entire towns under its control. Under US pressure, the Pakistani army is fighting the Islamists -- with limited success. Pakistani intelligence says the Americans are doing more harm than good...
Pakistan has become synonymous with the threat of terrorism to the world. Americans like Admiral Michael Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, are urging the government in Islamabad to practice "aggressive leadership," and they want the Pakistani army to crush and kill the extremists on Pakistani soil. The United States sees the prolonged offensive by Pakistani armed forces in the Swat Valley as the prelude to a long and bloody conflict.
The new strategy stems from General David Petraeus, the head of United States Central Command. As he did in Iraq, Petraeus, a cool-headed intellectual, intends to stop the "spiral downward" in the war zone which American strategists are now referring to as AfPak. If Petraeus has his way, the Taliban and al-Qaida will also be defeated in Pakistan, which they repeatedly use as a safe haven after fighting in Afghanistan. For more than two months, the Pakistani army has been battling a leader of the radical Islamic Taliban in the Swat Valley.
In return, the Taliban is expanding the combat zone, leaving a trail of blood with attacks across the entire country, from Kashmir in the north to Karachi in the south. Pakistan is not collapsing, but it is being consumed by violence and undermined by the fear that anyone, at any time, can fall victim to the next attack...
The Taliban is intent on destroying the country's traditional order and marginalizing tribal leaders and politicians, landlords and mullahs. It is motivated, not by religion or faith, but by the desire to dominate the region...
How much longer can Pakistan endure? (more)
LSB: Remind me again - how many nuclear arms are in Pakistan?

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Rachel Maddow corrects Pat Buchanan about race in America

John Aravosis (DC), She really gets rolling the second half. It's definitely worth a watch.

God is not your bitch!

Mark Morford, You know what God loves? Meddling. Meddling and poking and adjusting and maybe, just maybe, forgiving. Sometimes.
OK wait. What God really loves is meddling and poking and maybe forgiving, and also psychoanalyzing and scrutinizing and prying, gossiping and complaining and moderating, sighing and punishing and condemning, all while He shakes His big, shaggy head in your general direction at your various petty sins and misbehaviors every single day regarding pretty much every single thought you have.
Did you know this about God? Of course you did.
After all, if much of organized religion and nearly every conservative/fundamentalist adherent thereof are to be believed -- and they most definitely are not -- God is essentially the most obsessed, niggling micromanager of all time. He is all about being hugely, nay downright obscenely interested in the trivial minutiae of modern life, from the food eaten on a particular day to the touchdown made during the Big Game to the brand of TV you watch it on, right on over to what book you're reading and where you live and if you have the right guns and foreign policy and facial hair, and of course whether or not you judge gay people and demean women and nonbelievers in just the right way.
Because only then, when all preposterous criteria are met, might God absolve you, or lead you toward happiness, or grant success to your new laundromat, or forgive you your trespasses and your recreational drug use and your pornographic thoughts about your massage therapist, or even how many soft, cooing sounds you made over the body of a sexy Argenitine female. Isn't that right, Gov. Sanford?
Let us ponder. Because once again and for the billionth time, a deeply sad and hypocritical conservative is now claiming that he will be turning to God not merely for forgiveness for his lusty irresponsibilities, but he is also claiming that, in order to set things right, God will now be actively stepping into his life to help put him back on track, fix his mangled moral compass, tell him the what-what and the don't-stick-that-there.
Isn't that terrific? Isn't it wondrous to hear that God cares so much, so specifically, for Gov. Mark Sanford? Is it not heartening to hear that God will now happily jump into the rather wretched role of Sanford's own personal therapist, helping the wayward governor bury his heart and nix his one true love so he may return to his unhappy marriage and unhappy job and unhappy life? Yay God! So good of Him to take the time.
I, for one, am utterly delighted at how Sanford has effortlessly reduced the grand concept of timeless, universal divine metaconsciousness down to a bit of a tool, essentially making God his own personal knave. What a fantastic conceit! What glorious gall! We should all try that someday.
In fact, most major religions encourage exactly that. I find I am in a constant swoon of giddy amazement at this universal phenomenon, the fabulous, hubris-loaded idea that God is not actually an unfathomable river of cosmic energy to be supped from like liquid light, while you still take complete responsibility for your own life and choices. Nor is God simply the idea of universal love and compassion, coursing through all things at all times everywhere. How silly to think.
No, God is, apparently, actually far more like some sort of heavyset, hectoring grandmother who reads your email and pokes through your underwear drawer and hates your girlfriend and is, for the most part, very, very disappointed in you. Great!
Really, it almost does not matter in which God you believe, what sect or major denomination. Nearly all are of the same idea, offer up the same unquestionable truth: Of course God cares what you do, who you screw, upon which sliver of dust-choked holy land you live, how high you raise your flag and which statue you kneel before. This is the greatest wonder of all: In the impossible vastness of time and space, God cares most desperately, most fanatically about this particular swirling blue dot of inconsequential dust we call home. Hey, we invented God, right? We can do with Him whatever we want.
Now, you may say, if you have some broader understanding of matters religious and spiritual, that the point is not that God is literally a human-like micromanager -- which is, obviously, a rather childish anthropomorphization of an abstract theological construct. Most Jews, for example, do not try to observe 10,000 impossible, arcane regulations and proscriptions and kosher Coca-Cola because they actually believe God will be furious if they go for the ham on rye on a Friday.
Rather, you can say most religious rules and rituals merely exist to reinforce commitment and membership in a given club, to give your ego some sort of reliable identity and shape, to bind the believer more devoutly to a given faith -- and sometimes, if you're lucky, deliver a lovely means to personal transformation. It's easy to say that what most God-is-watching-you beliefs and behaviors do best is solidify our allegiance to whatever tribe we believe gives us our identity. It's all merely a series of elaborate, profoundly felt secret handshakes. God could not really care less.
Put another way, the notion that this eternal divine consciousness, this grand and unquenchable, vibrating pulse of existence spanning all spheres and organisms and dimensions for all time everywhere, gives a flying communion wafer over the fact that you, say, enjoy sodomy on Sunday mornings? Well, that's just all sorts of hilarious, dangerous reductivism. It is and has always been, throughout history, the most glorious conceit of man.
No matter. We do it anyway. Mark Sanford and his ilk will never cease in reducing divine consciousness into such shallow and sad dimensions, to serve their particular needs and egos and power struggles. Which is, perhaps, the greatest human tragedy of all.
Because really, we do the divine no favors by making it our bitch. We only keep God in this little box, taking him out when it suits us, our political goals or our need for redemption and meaning, and to assuage our ego's trembling fears. You know, like a psychotherapist. Like a crutch. Like an excuse. Like a vibrator. Like milk. Like a gemstone. Like a flowerpot. Like a drug. Like a gun.

United Breaks Guitars A quick catch-up: United Airlines passenger Dave Carroll had his Taylor guitar destroyed by the airline's baggage handlers during a flight last year. After United repeatedly declined to reimburse him for the damage, he wrote a now-famous song decrying their customer service and their brand... By now nearly 4 million people have watched the 'United Breaks Guitars' video that has made its way around the web and back.
LSB: Don't you bet UA wishes they had just paid the claim? Or maybe trained their baggage handlers?

New Rule: Not Everything in America Has to Make a Profit

Bill Maher, Host of HBO's "Real Time with Bill Maher," on How about this for a New Rule: Not everything in America has to make a profit. It used to be that there were some services and institutions so vital to our nation that they were exempt from market pressures. Some things we just didn't do for money. The United States always defined capitalism, but it didn't used to define us. But now it's becoming all that we are.
Did you know, for example, that there was a time when being called a "war profiteer" was a bad thing? But now our war zones are dominated by private contractors and mercenaries who work for corporations. There are more private contractors in Iraq than American troops, and we pay them generous salaries to do jobs the troops used to do for themselves ­-- like laundry. War is not supposed to turn a profit, but our wars have become boondoggles for weapons manufacturers and connected civilian contractors.
Prisons used to be a non-profit business, too. And for good reason --­ who the hell wants to own a prison? By definition you're going to have trouble with the tenants. But now prisons are big business. A company called the Corrections Corporation of America is on the New York Stock Exchange, which is convenient since that's where all the real crime is happening anyway. The CCA and similar corporations actually lobby Congress for stiffer sentencing laws so they can lock more people up and make more money. That's why America has the world;s largest prison population ­-- because actually rehabilitating people would have a negative impact on the bottom line.
Television news is another area that used to be roped off from the profit motive. When Walter Cronkite died last week, it was odd to see news anchor after news anchor talking about how much better the news coverage was back in Cronkite's day. I thought, "Gee, if only you were in a position to do something about it.
But maybe they aren't. Because unlike in Cronkite's day, today's news has to make a profit like all the other divisions in a media conglomerate. That's why it wasn't surprising to see the CBS Evening News broadcast live from the Staples Center for two nights this month, just in case Michael Jackson came back to life and sold Iran nuclear weapons. In Uncle Walter's time, the news division was a loss leader. Making money was the job of The Beverly Hillbillies. And now that we have reporters moving to Alaska to hang out with the Palin family, the news is The Beverly Hillbillies.
And finally, there's health care. It wasn't that long ago that when a kid broke his leg playing stickball, his parents took him to the local Catholic hospital, the nun put a thermometer in his mouth, the doctor slapped some plaster on his ankle and you were done. The bill was $1.50, plus you got to keep the thermometer.
But like everything else that's good and noble in life, some Wall Street wizard decided that hospitals could be big business, so now they're run by some bean counters in a corporate plaza in Charlotte. In the U.S. today, three giant for-profit conglomerates own close to 600 hospitals and other health care facilities. They're not hospitals anymore; they're Jiffy Lubes with bedpans. America's largest hospital chain, HCA, was founded by the family of Bill Frist, who perfectly represents the Republican attitude toward health care: it's not a right, it's a racket. The more people who get sick and need medicine, the higher their profit margins. Which is why they're always pushing the Jell-O.
Because medicine is now for-profit we have things like "recision," where insurance companies hire people to figure out ways to deny you coverage when you get sick, even though you've been paying into your plan for years.
When did the profit motive become the only reason to do anything? When did that become the new patriotism? Ask not what you could do for your country, ask what's in it for Blue Cross/Blue Shield.
If conservatives get to call universal health care "socialized medicine," I get to call private health care "soulless vampires making money off human pain." The problem with President Obama's health care plan isn't socialism, it's capitalism.
And if medicine is for profit, and war, and the news, and the penal system, my question is: what's wrong with firemen? Why don't they charge? They must be commies. Oh my God! That explains the red trucks!

Sunday, July 12, 2009

NAACP refuses to take a position on gay marriage; discounts connection between black civil rights and gay civil rights

It's pretty sickening to watch the head of the NAACP, Benjamin Todd Jealous, squirm when asked about the civil rights of gays and lesbians, as he does throughout this interview. I suspect the NAACP leadership is afraid of its own membership on this issue.
You simply do not get to be a real civil rights organization by taking polls on whether or not you're going to get criticized for recognizing the civil rights of other human beings. Would the NAACP have us take polls on whether its membership's civil rights should be recognized and accepted as equal to other civil rights struggles? Just as bad, the NAACP head seems to suggest in this interview that it may take the NAACP decades before they endorse gay marriage. He then goes on to disagree with those who equate gay civil rights with the African-American civil rights struggle (good thing that the head of the NAACP agrees with John McCain about the civil rights of gays and lesbians). Though, while agreeing with John McCain, Mr. Jealous disagrees with Coretta Scott King, who says the civil rights battles are all the same.
Definitely not your daddy's civil rights leaders.

Insurance Insider Tells All

Former Insurance Industry Executive Wendell Potter was on Bill Moyers Journal [Friday] night. I cannot recommend this hour enough. Wendell exposes the insurance industry for all its despicable behavior and behind-the-scenes tactics to influence Congress and thwart real reform.
He talks about Cigna's handling of the Nataline Sarkisyan case and the insurance industry's media and political strategies to discredit Michael Moore's Sicko:
BILL MOYERS: And there was a political strategy. "Position Sicko as a threat to Democrats' larger agenda." What does that mean?
WENDELL POTTER: That means that part of the effort to discredit this film was to use lobbyists and their own staff to go onto Capitol Hill and say, "Look, you don't want to believe this movie. You don't want to talk about it. You don't want to endorse it. And if you do, we can make things tough for you."
WENDELL POTTER: By running ads, commercials in your home district when you're running for reelection, not contributing to your campaigns again, or contributing to your competitor.
BILL MOYERS: This is fascinating. You know, "Build awareness among centrist Democratic policy organizations--"
BILL MOYERS: "--including the Democratic Leadership Council."
BILL MOYERS: Then it says, "Message to Democratic insiders. Embracing Moore is one-way ticket back to minority party status."
BILL MOYERS: Now, that's exactly what they did, didn't they? They--
BILL MOYERS: --radicalized Moore, so that his message was discredited because the messenger was seen to be radical.
WENDELL POTTER: Absolutely. In memos that would go back within the industry — he was never, by the way, mentioned by name in any memos, because we didn't want to inadvertently write something that would wind up in his hands. So the memos would usually-- the subject line would be-- the emails would be, "Hollywood." And as we would do the media training, we would always have someone refer to him as Hollywood entertainer or Hollywood moviemaker Michael Moore.
WENDELL POTTER: Well, just to-- Hollywood, I think people think that's entertainment, that's movie-making. That's not real documentary. They don't want you to think that it was a documentary that had some truth. They would want you to see this as just some fantasy that a Hollywood filmmaker had come up with. That's part of the strategy.
BILL MOYERS: So you would actually hear politicians mouth the talking points that had been circulated by the industry to discredit Michael Moore.
I suggest you put aside some time and watch the program. Or read through the transcript. It'll make you mad, but that's a good thing. We need anger. We need action. This is it, folks. Now is the time we push Congress to do something. Right now.

Cheney Told CIA To Hide Program From Congress

PAMELA HESS, Former Vice President Dick Cheney directed the CIA eight years ago not to inform Congress about a nascent counterterrorism program that CIA Director Leon Panetta terminated in June, officials with direct knowledge of the matter said Saturday.
Subsequent CIA directors did not inform Congress because the intelligence-gathering effort had not developed to the point that they believed merited a congressional briefing, said a former intelligence official and another government official familiar with Panetta's June 24 briefing to the House and Senate Intelligence committees.
Panetta did not agree.
Upon learning of the program June 23 from within the CIA, Panetta terminated it and the next day called an emergency meeting with the House and Senate Intelligence committees to inform them of the program and that it was canceled.
Cheney played a central role in overseeing the Bush administration's surveillance program that was the subject of an inspectors general report this past week. That report noted that Cheney's chief of staff, David Addington, personally decided who in Bush's inner circle could even know about the secret program.
>But revelations about Cheney's role in making decisions for the CIA on whether to notify Congress came as a surprise to some on the committees, said another government official. All spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the program publicly.
An effort to reach Cheney was unsuccessful.
A former intelligence official, who was familiar with former CIA Director Gen. Michael Hayden's tenure at the CIA, said Hayden never communicated with the president or vice president about the now-canceled program and was under no restrictions from Cheney about congressional briefings. The official said Hayden was briefed only two or three times on the program.
Exactly what the counterterrorism program was meant to do remains a mystery. The former intelligence official said it was not related to the CIA's rendition, interrogation and detention program. Nor was it part of a wider classified electronic surveillance program that was the subject of a government report to Congress this past week.
The official characterized it as an embryonic intelligence gathering effort, and only sporadically active. He said it was hoped to yield intelligence that would be used to conduct a secret mission or missions in another country _ that is, a covert operation. But it never matured to that point.
The government official with direct knowledge of the Panetta briefing and the former intelligence official said the CIA has numerous efforts ongoing under its existing authorities that have not yet been briefed to Congress. He said they are not yet known to be viable for intelligence gathering.
The Cheney revelation comes as the House of Representatives is preparing to debate a bill that would require the White House to expand the number of members who are told about covert operations. The White House has threatened a veto over concerns that wider congressional notifications could compromise the secrecy of the operations.
That provision, however, would have no effect on programs like this one.
The former intelligence official familiar with Hayden said Congress has a right to contemporaneous information about all CIA activities. But he said there are so many in such early stages that briefing Congress on every one would be too time consuming for both the CIA and the congressional committees.
The New York Times initially reported about Cheney's direction not to tell Congress of the program on its Web site Saturday.

Attorney General Eric Holder may probe Bush-era torture anyway.

Daniel Klaidman, NEWSWEEK: Four knowledgeable sources tell NEWSWEEK that [Attorney General Eric Holder] is now leaning toward appointing a prosecutor to investigate the Bush administration's brutal interrogation practices, something the president has been reluctant to do. While no final decision has been made, an announcement could come in a matter of weeks, say these sources, who decline to be identified discussing a sensitive law-enforcement matter. Such a decision would roil the country, would likely plunge Washington into a new round of partisan warfare, and could even imperil Obama's domestic priorities, including health care and energy reform. Holder knows all this, and he has been wrestling with the question for months. "I hope that whatever decision I make would not have a negative impact on the president's agenda," he says. "But that can't be a part of my decision." (more)

DOMA Lawsuit filed by the Great State of Massachusetts

Emma Ruby-Sachs, 365gay blogger: [Thursday], the Attorney General of Massachusetts filed a lawsuit challenging DOMA. It’s the third challenge filed in the last six months and for those of you ready to throw up your hands in confusion, don’t. Attorney General Martha Coakley has one of the best arguments yet.
The chief complaint in the brief filed yesterday afternoon is that DOMA, by limiting Massachusetts’ right to include same-sex spouses in Medicaid and bury same-sex spouses in a veteran cemetery as well as other federally funded programs that operate within the state, infringes on the state’s sovereign jurisdiction over marriage rights and definition.
The brilliance of this argument is that it takes the state’s rights approach, beloved by many conservative activists, legislators and litigators, and turns it around for the benefit of the more liberal among us.
If one opposes Coakley’s argument because it would weaken DOMA, then they also weaken state’s rights over marriage and that could benefit same-sex couples in the long run if the federal government ever gets around to imposing equal treatment for LGBT Americans.
If one capitulates to Coakley’s reasoning, DOMA is found to be unconstitutional and the entire Act is threatened.
It is a rock and a hard place if you will. Somewhat of a genius chess move.
The lawsuit also has the support of Senator John Kerry - a champion for the rights of bi-national married same-sex couples – who argued against DOMA way back in 1996 in the Senate. He said then, “I oppose this legislation because not only is it meant to divide Americans, but it is fundamentally unconstitutional, regardless of what your views are. DOMA is unconstitutional. There is no single Member of the U.S. Senate who believes that it is within the Senate’s power to strip away the word or spirit of a constitutional clause by simple statute.”vThirteen years later, we have our best shot at having a court agree with Kerry’s statement.
Coakley’s argument, alone, would likely only result in a reading down of DOMA’s application. So, DOMA wouldn’t apply to state-run federally funded programs that affect same-sex married spouses. But, Coakley’s lawsuit will likely be joined with the lawsuit filed by GLAD a few months ago and the two will attack DOMA’s application in state (Coakley) and DOMA’s application to many federal social programs that deny monetary benefits to same-sex spouses under current law.
Although success at the Supreme Court is still unlikely, both suits are carefully tailored to specific legal principles, they encourage a chipping away at DOMA’s reach and, if UAFA passes while these two suits are successful, DOMA will be all but undone.
It’s a rosy picture of the future. And that many wins are unlikely. But for today, we have some very clever allies in the fight for same-sex marriage.

Dr. King’s SCLC moves to oust L.A. chapter president over his support for gay rights. The Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) — the civil rights group founded by Dr. Martin Luther King — is “seeking to remove the president of its Los Angeles chapter,” Rev. Eric P. Lee, in response to his role in organizing opposition to California’s same-sex marriage ban, Prop. 8, last fall. Lee believed his public opposition to Prop. 8 would acceptable because the SCLC informed him that the organization was taking a publicly neutral position on the measure. The New York Times explains:
In April, Mr. Lee attended a board meeting of the civil rights organization in Kansas City, Mo., and found himself once again in the minority position among his colleagues on the issue of same-sex marriage, but was told, he said, by the interim president of the civil rights organization, Byron Clay, that the group publicly had a neutral position on the issue.
Explaining that he was unable to come to Atlanta on such short notice, Mr. Lee then received two letters from the organization’s lawyer, Dexter M. Wimbish, threatening him with suspension or removal as president of the Los Angeles chapter if he did not come soon to explain himself.
Lee explained that his opposition to Prop. 8 “created tension in my life I had never experienced with black clergy. But it was clear to me that any time you deny one group of people the same right that other groups have that is a clear violation of civil rights and I have to speak up on that.” The SCLC refused to comment on the matter.

Congressman on Provost murder and DADT: the military 'doesn't want that discussion to take place'

Pam Spaulding, Pam's House Blend: The reason for the lack of information being released by the Navy and the Marine Corps about whether sailor August Provost's murder was a hate crime related to his sexual orientation is because, according to a U.S. Congressman from California, it would raise questions about consequences of DADT and the inability for any gay or lesbian to report harassment without outing themselves. Here is the Navy Times take on the status of the case.

A sailor remained the top suspect in the June 30 murder of a fellow sailor with Assault Craft Unit 5 at Camp Pendleton, Calif.
...Navy officials said they don’t believe the shooting was gang- or terror-related. They also continued to dispute rumors that Provost was killed because he was gay, despite contentions raised by several relatives and gay advocacy groups who claim the sailor had been harassed at the unit because he was open about his homosexuality.
While Navy officials have denied that the shooting was a hate crime, Rep. Bob Filner, D-Calif., has asked Navy and Marine Corps officials for additional investigations into Provost’s death. Provost “made the selfless and courageous decision to serve his country, regardless of his sexual orientation; he should be treated with honor and respect,” Filner wrote in letters to Defense Secretary Robert Gates; Marine Commandant Gen. James Conway; Col. Nicholas F. Marano, who is Camp Pendleton’s base commander; and Rep. Ike Skelton, D-Mo., who chairs the House Armed Services Committee.

Filner said he was frustrated with a lack of information from the Navy and the Marine Corps, particularly over the suspicion that Provost’s sexuality might be connected to his death, which would raise questions about consequences of the military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy.
“They don’t want that discussion to take place,” he said.
There is zero incentive for the Pentagon to admit this was a sexual orientation-related hate crime. I do hope that all of the relevant information comes out, because clearly there is no national security risk if the facts come out. The real risk out there is the one the Pentagon put the country in by discharging qualified gay and lesbian personnel.

Friday, July 10, 2009

DOD considering banning smoking, regardless of social experiment's effect on morale and cohesion

I thought we were a nation at war? Can you imagine our soldiers shooting straight when they're going through nicotine withdrawal? Ah, but no fears - according to a reader who just heard a report on CBS News radio, we're being told that our men and women in the military know how to follow orders, and if they're told do accept a drastic change in policy, they'll do it, daggumit.
I'm all for smoking bans. But don't for a minute think that with one in three US service members using tobacco that the smoking ban currently being considered by the administration wouldn't have a serious impact on unit morale and cohesion, and our military's overall readiness. Because it would. At least temporarily.
Maybe the administration should spend more time building public support for the smoking ban so that they can do this by the end of the next term. But only if Congress takes the lead.
LSB: Snarky reference to the DADT policy, but the "study by the Institute of Medicine, requested by the VA and Pentagon, calls for a phased-in ban over a period of years, perhaps up to 20." Let's all hope that for good of our national security that DADT is overturned long before soldiers have to deal with this (smoking) 'social experiment.' Also, have they considered the effect to the military's PXs that sell cigarettes? How will eliminating cigarette sales affect the bottom-line of these stores? And might this decision require a bailout for the cigarette manufacturers for their lost sales? We haven't heard yet from the tobacco lobbyists or the civilian contractors operating these stores, so let's not worry too much that cigarette sales for the military will be going away anytime soon.

Naming Someone Who Hates Public Schools to Head the State Ed Board? Gov. Perry, You Can't Be Serious!

Hoo wee. Via Fred Clark, this story about Texas Gov. Rick Perry considering the appointment of a right-wing extremist Christian to head the state's Board of education.
Oh, and she just happens to despise public education, thinks it's unconstitutional and thinks public schools should be abolished. (She also thinks Barack Obama is getting ready to impose martial law.) Yep, she sounds perfect for the job - at least, in Wacky Wingnut World.
thumb_mediumCynthia Dunbar_a437e.jpg
Fred sums it up nicely:

...Just like the fire departments, school boards seem to attract a significant unhinged minority of firebugs -- people who just want to destroy public education and laugh while it burns.

Dunbar is a member of what one blogger called "the Texas Taliban," a coalition of state school board fundamentalists. Since this is the year the board purchases new textbooks, their goal is to make sure the textbooks selected are as wingnutty and deliciously wacky as their own personal beliefs.
By the way, she's a graduate of Regent University School of Law, founded by that noted legal scholar, Pat Robertson. Another notable grad? Monica Goodling.
AUSTIN — Critics who engineered the recent ouster of State Board of Education Chairman Don McLeroy, in part because of his strong religious beliefs, could end up with someone even more outspoken in her faith.

Cynthia Dunbar, R-Richmond, who advocated more Christianity in the public square last year with the publication of her book, One Nation Under God, is among those that Gov. Rick Perry is considering to lead the State Board of Education, some of her colleagues say.

Critics are gasping and allies are cheering over speculation that Dunbar, a lawyer, could win a promotion to the leadership spot.
“It would certainly cause angst among the same members of the pagan left that rejected Don McLeroy because he was a man of faith,” said David Bradley, R-Beaumont, one of the seven socially conservative members on the 15-person board.
Nicely done, Dave. So any mainstream Christians who dare to disagree with you are secret pagan sympathizers!
Perry’s office declined to comment until “a final decision is made.”
[...] In a book published last year, Dunbar argued the country’s founding fathers created “an emphatically Christian government” and that government should be guided by a “biblical litmus test.” She endorses a belief system that requires “any person desiring to govern have a sincere knowledge and appreciation for the Word of God in order to rightly govern.”
Also in the book, she calls public education a “subtly deceptive tool of perversion.”
The establishment of public schools is unconstitutional and even “tyrannical,” she wrote, because it threatens the authority of families, granted by God through Scripture, to direct the instruction of their children.
Perry’s appointment of Dunbar would send a statement “that
the governor shares her shocking hostility toward public education,” said Kathy Miller, president of the Texas Freedom Network, an organization that monitors the State Board of Education.
“Just as bad, he would be siding with a faction of self-righteous politicians on the board who have made it crystal clear that they believe the only real Christians are the ones who agree with them,” Miller said. “If the governor really decides that selling out our kids like this is a good re-election strategy, then this state has an even bigger problem than we thought.”
From the Houston Chronicle's Lisa Falkenberg (hmm. Isn't that a Communist-sounding name?):
If the chatter from some board members proves correct, and Gov. Rick Perry is indeed considering appointing member Cynthia Dunbar as the board’s new leader, we may find ourselves reminiscing fondly about the good ol’ days when Chairman McLeroy simply disregarded experts, sidelined teachers and insisted on inserting his religious beliefs into public policy-making.
Dunbar’s shortcomings go far beyond ideology and poor leadership skills to beliefs promoting paranoia and bigotry.
This is the same Richmond Republican who penned an online essay shortly before the presidential election warning Barack Obama was plotting with terrorists to attack the country. She refused to retract her claim, even under pressure from Republicans.
Gov. Perry will do just about anything to woo the far right fundamentalists, won't he?
LSB: Favorite comment? Hobbit709: "Mark Twain had it right when he said, "First God made idiots; that was for practice. Then he made school boards."" While some doubt that even if nominated she will be approved by the Legislature, that is no sure thing. And for those of you reading this outside of Texas, just remember: because it purchases a large number textbooks, the changes in the text required by a wingnut Texas Board of Education could find their way into the textbooks used in your state's classrooms!
UPDATE: Gov. Rick Perry Friday named Gail Lowe of Lampasas to chair the Texas State Board of Education. Ms. Lowe, a graduate of Louisiana State University, is a co-publisher of the Lampasas Dispatch Record but is not a teacher. Deeply distrustful of public education, she home-schooled her children. Ms. Lowe’s elevation helps Gov. Perry move Texas toward a true Christian government. She refers to herself a creationist and said the study of evolution, while important to the teaching of biology, also believes “Kids ought to be able to hold religious beliefs and still study science without any conflict.” Gail Lowe also embraces a conspiracy theory heard in the rightwing echo chamber that says President Obama is ineligible to be president because he was born in Indonesia (he was born in Honolulu, HI), and like many other far-right loons, Lowe refuses to believe his Hawaii-issued birth certificate is a valid document.

Dennis Kucinich Pummels Right Wing Dr. On Canadian Healthcare System

Ohio Congressman Dennis Kucinich absolutely tore it up today on Capitol Hill. In this video he is questioning Dr. David Gratzer of the Manhattan Institute. One need only read the title of Gratzer's new book, "The Cure: How Capitalism Can Save American Healthcare" (complete with forward written by Milton Friedman) to know what side of the debate he was on.
Gratzer was there to spew lies and right wing talking points about the Canadian health care system, but Kucinich wasn't having any of it. As always, my hat goes off to Dennis! You can watch the entire CSPAN video here.

Thursday, July 09, 2009

The Cheat-Team Hotline


Uh Oh: Coburn Knew Of Ensign Affair

Hotline, And reportedly urged him to pay off the mistress and her husband.
Double trouble.
Can you say Senate ethics investigation?
Jon Ralston of the Las Vegas Sun interviewed Doug Hampton, husband of GOP Sen. John Ensign's mistress, who said that Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) and others urged Ensign to end the affair, help the Hamptons pay off their home and move to CO. But Ensign was "so infatuated" that he continued, Hampton said.

John Hart, a Coburn spokesman, released a statement yesterday saying Ensign should have ended the affair.

"Dr. Coburn did everything he could to encourage Senator Ensign to end his affair and to persuade Senator Ensign to repair the damage he had caused to his own marriage and the Hampton's marriage," according to the statement. "Had Senator Ensign followed Dr. Coburn's advice, this episode would have ended, and been made public, long ago."
Cynthia Hampton was the treasurer of Ensign's political action committee and re-election campaign, while Doug Hampton served as a senior aide on Ensign's Senate staff. Meanwhile, per the Las Vegas Sun, Doug Hampton said Ensign paid his wife more than $25K in severance when she stopped working for the senator. And if true, the paper suggests that Ensign faces a possible felony violation of campaign finance law if he failed to report the money as an in-kind contribution to the campaign committees where she worked.
So now Coburn is ensnared in the Ensign drama. And the Ensign mess involves more than an extramarital affair but a possible pay off. Trouble ahead.
UPDATE: Now, in a letter to Politico, Ensign's lawyer has revealed that the senator's parents gave a "gift" of nearly $100,000 to the family of Cindy Hampton out of his private funds. [LSB: Haul out the popcorn - this story is a long way from being complete.]
UPDATE II: Sen. Tom Coburn said he would invoke privilege if asked about advice he gave to Sen. John Ensign on handling an extramarital affair. Coburn said he was talking to Ensign about his tryst with a former staffer in his capacities as a doctor and a man of the cloth, Roll Call reported. "I was counseling him as a physician and as an ordained deacon," Coburn said. "That is privileged communication that I will never reveal to anybody. Not to the (Senate) Ethics Committee, not to a court of law, not to anybody." [JEB: Politics as usual for the party of "NO." BTW, Coburn is an OB-GYN; how exactly was he counseling Ensign as a physician? Does privilege extend to deacons, or just to the ordained clergy? Does Coburn's silence based on these flimsy excuses help or hurt Ensign's case? How is Coburn's reputation with the voters in his state affected by his association with this sordid - and possibly (financially) illegal - affair? Stayed tuned for the next shoe to drop!]

Texas II: Kicked Out For A Kiss

Joe.My.God.: A group of gay men were thrown out of an El Paso, Texas restaurant last week after a security guard objected to a kiss between two of the men. The cops were summoned and the ejected men were stunned when police told them they were liable for a citation as homosexual activity was illegal in Texas.
At about 12:30 a.m. on the morning of June 29, the five men were placing their order at the Chico's Tacos on Montwood when the two men made their public display of affection, sparking the ire of two contracted security guards at the restaurant, police and witnesses said. After the group sat down, the security guards told them "they didn't allow that faggot stuff to go on there," and made them leave, de Leon said. An officer arrived at the restaurant about an hour later, after police received five calls, including from the security guards and de Leon. The men were told to leave the restaurant and had anti-gay slurs directed at them while they waited for the police.

"I went up to the police officer to tell him what was going on and he didn't want to hear my side," de Leon said. "He wanted to hear the security guard's side first." The officer informed the group it was illegal for two men or two women to kiss in public, de Leon said. The five were told they could be cited for homosexual conduct - a charge the U.S. Supreme Court ruled unconstitutional in 2003 in Lawrence v. Texas. That same year, the city of El Paso passed an ordinance banning discrimination based on sexual orientation by employees of the city and by businesses open to the public. El Paso Police Detective Carlos Carrillo said a more appropriate charge would probably be criminal trespass. "The security guard received a complaint from some of the customers there," Carrillo said. "Every business has the right to refuse service. They have the right to refuse service to whoever they don't want there. That's their prerogative."
The ACLU and a local civil rights group point out that if lewd behavior was the restaurant's complaint, that standard must apply equally to straight and gay patrons by El Paso law. Clearly the El Paso police are not up to speed and the gay men have grounds for a lawsuit.

LSB: This is the second time in the past two weeks that the homophobes in Texas have been put into the national spotlight for their Neanderthal ways. While this story is disheartening and we do have more than our fair share of troglodytes in this state, these assholes do not represent the overwhelming number of fair-minded (albeit gun-toting) citizens. It does, however, demonstrate the work still to be done in this state and others. I hope de Leon and his friends sue the bejeebus out of the EPPD and Chico's; this is the only response that will get their full attention and the only thing that will cause them to change their ways.

Fox News' Kilmeade: We "marry other species," Finns "pure"

Alex Koppelma, Salon's WAR ROOM: Watching Fox News' morning show, "Fox and Friends," is a little bit like watching the aftermath of a particularly nasty car crash. Yeah, it's awful, but you just have to keep looking, because, well, who knows what mangled body parts they'll pull from the wreckage next?
Even by those standards, though, host Brian Kilmeade's performance on Wednesday was just terrible.
Kilmeade and two colleagues were discussing a study that, based on research done in Finland and Sweden, showed people who stay married are less likely to suffer from Alzheimer's. Kilmeade questioned the results, though, saying, "We are -- we keep marrying other species and other ethnics and other ..."
At this point, his co-host tried to -- in that jokey morning show way -- tell Kilmeade he needed to shut up, and quick, for his own sake. But he didn't get the message, adding, "See, the problem is the Swedes have pure genes. Because they marry other Swedes .... Finns marry other Finns, so they have a pure society."
LSB: Coming on the heels of the kids at the Creative Steps Day Camp being kicked-out of the Valley Swim Club, a private Whites-only club, simply for being black and the Facebook racism of a Young Republicans leader, this is yet another appalling example of the racism that still exists in this country. Yes, we have an African-American president, but that has not washed away the racism that exists in this county; in fact, it may have intensified racist hatred among those that fear someone different than themselves. These inane comments by the dimwits at FAUX-News (does this clown know that people of all ethnicities are the SAME species?) only amplify and exacerbate the gap that continues to exist between our citizens. This asswipe's contract was recently renewed by FAUX-News, so he'll continue to spew hate and ignorance for several more years to the feeble-and-narrow-minded wingnuts who watch that network. Disgusting!

Rep. Patrick Murphy: TRUE Fierce Advocate The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) and Servicemembers United announced today a national "Voices of Honor" Tour to repeal Don't Ask, Don't Tell. Rep. Patrick Murphy (D-PA), a former West Point professor and Iraq War vet, is the lead sponsor of legislation to repeal the unpopular policy that bars LGBT people from serving openly in the United States armed services. Murphy said, in part:
"Our president, President Barack Obama, has stated that If Congress can get a bill to his desk repealing Don't Ask, Don't Tell, he will sign it into law. It is now our job, and my job specifically, to quarterback this through the Congress of the United States to do just that. I can not tell you today how long it's gonna take. All I can tell ya is that paratroopers don't quit, and paratroopers get the job done. To remove Eric Alva honorable, talented and committed Americans from serving in our military is contrary to the values that our military holds dear."
"Voices of Honor" will make stops in Philadelphia; Trenton; Virginia Beach; Phoenix; Kansas City, MO; Orlando and Tampa and will feature former Marine Staff Sgt. Eric Alva, the first American soldier injured in Iraq, among others. CNN points out that some of those involved were chosen because they're straight, as outreach to other straight soldiers.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Obama "Wrestling" with Faith and LGBT Issues

Julie Bolcer, The Advocate: In preparation for his first meeting with Pope Benedict XVI in Italy this Friday, President Barack Obama held a roundtable with members of the Catholic media at the White House last Thursday, reports Fox News. During the 45-minute meeting, which was kept off the White House schedule, Obama said that he is “wrestling” with his Christian faith and “concern for gays and lesbians.”
xmlns=""> Dan Gilgoff, religion reporter for U.S. News and World Report, posted the following remarks from Obama to the Catholic media:
“For the gay and lesbian community in this country, I think it's clear that they feel victimized in fairly powerful ways and they're often hurt by not just certain teachings of the Catholic Church, but the Christian faith generally. And as a Christian, I'm constantly wrestling with my faith and my solicitude and regard and concern for gays and lesbians.”
According to Gilgoff, Obama also characterized the decision to have an abortion in a less than favorable light, and said that he receives a daily devotional reading on his BlackBerry.
Read more excerpts from Obama’s sit down with the Catholic media here.
Reader Comment: If I am correct, the President's job is not to follow his religion, but to run the highest office in the US... WHILE keeping separate church and state. I don't care if he is wrestling with his faith. He just needs to do his job and stop being the victim. 'Nuff said!

Out of Annapolis – Gay Alumni of the U.S. Naval Academy

Bloggernista: This trailer is for the new film Out of Annapolis a new documentary tracing the experiences of gay alumni of the U.S. Naval Academy. This film provides more proof that the military’s ban on openly gay soldiers is damaging to our soldiers and our military. See also 10 Gay Documentaries Everyone Should See.

Gay Scientistics: Fort Worth Police Department "celebrates" Stonewall

StuntDouble, By now we’re all familiar with last weekend's gay-bashing police raid that went down at Fort Worth’s Rainbow Lounge. Investigations are underway by both the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission and the Forth Worth police, and now it looks like even the U.S. Attorney's office is going to get involved.
We've had a week to ruminate on the homophobic assault and compile plenty of data, which we've analyzed for you below, in easy-to-read chart format!
First, according to — the third party resource that the Forth Worth police department recommends for crime-related queries — these are the offenses that were committed on the day of the Rainbow Lounge raid.

Additionally, Forth Worth had 26 counts of murder, 141 counts of forcible rape, 4,061 counts of robbery, 943 counts of aggravated assault, and 2,678 stolen cars from January through May of this year.

So, you know, why not use up valuable law enforcement agents to beat up gay people for hanging out with their friends. It's not like the officer had anything better to be doing with their time!

Let us illustrate. Here's what was happening in Forth Worth on the day of the Rainbow Lounge raid:

Of course, police chief Jeff Halstead had an explanation for why the bar was targeted, and why patrons were roughed up by his officers: "You're touched and advanced in certain ways by people inside the bar, that's offensive," he said. "I'm happy with the restraint used when they were contacted like that." More.

White House In Need of a Spine Donor on Health Care? White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel just said, "The goal is to have a means and a mechanism to keep the private insurers honest. The goal is non-negotiable; the path is [negotiable]."
Rahm_emanuel1 His comments, in a Wall Street Journal interview, indicate that the Obama Administration would be open to health care reform without a government-run public option, the exact opposite message from New York Senator Charles Schumer, who on Face the Nation Sunday said he would fight for such an option.
"Make no mistake about it, the president is for it strongly. There will be a public option in the final bill," Schumer stated.

This comes after President Obama publicly scolded advocacy groups for attacking conservative Democrats who take money from the health industry and who are therefore leaning against the public option. Seems to be a case of broadcasting what you're willing to do without.
Not a very strong negotiating tactic.
[Here's] a short video giving the public the option of making a @#$! call or two to Emanuel...

Silent Partners: The Other Victims of Don't Ask, Don't Tell

We hear a lot about the reasons to get rid of Don't Ask, Don't Tell. The fact that having openly gay servicemembers in the armed forces will do absolutely nothing to undermine the effectiveness of the military, whereas discharging gay Arabic translators like Lt. Dan Choi does plenty. There's the exorbitant costs of replacing discharged servicemembers.

Here's something to add to that list: the near-inhuman treatment the partners of gay military members face.

Silent Partners, the new episode of Brave New Foundation's In Their Boots shows loved ones of our armed forces confined to a world far from the tearful reunions on military base tarmacs, let alone the spousal support networks, base access, family assistance centers, and other amenities available to members of "typical" military families.

Under DADT, Ben Cartwright, the longtime partner of a deployed servicemember, must strip the "I love you" from his phone conversations, censor his written correspondence, meet his partner at a gas station rather than on base, and "de-gay" their home when his partner is picked up by his military buddies.

From his new post at HuffPo:

While my partner serves our country during these wars, I receive no benefits (medical benefits, family separation allowance, etc); I cannot access the family and spousal resources on the military base out of which he serves, or take part in military family events. I have no access to "military spouse" support groups and networks. When my partner graduated from military training and when he left for Iraq I had to stand on the sidelines- to vanish, disappear from his life and pretend I did not know him. I was proud to see him off, but heartbroken that I could not give him a hug and what could have been a final kiss goodbye.

Michelle Obama, speaking to military families in March, said, "See, military families have done their duty, and we as a grateful nation must do ours. We must do everything in our power to honor them by supporting them; not just by word but by deed."

An executive order scrapping Don't Ask, Don't Tell sounds like just the deed.

Sign's petition to overturn Don't Ask, Don't Tell.

Monday, July 06, 2009

After Calling Hillary Clinton a Whiner, Palin Blasts Media's "Different Standard"

One day after her rambling resignation speech in Wasilla, Alaska Governor Sarah Palin was a no-show for July 4th events in her state. But that didn't stop her from issuing yet another statement on Facebook, attacking the media for the "different standard [it] applies for the decisions I make." As it turns out, it is Sarah Palin who is holding herself to a different standard; in March 2008, she slammed Hillary Clinton for whining about her own treatment at the hands of the press.

To be sure, the only inkling Palin gave about her new "higher calling" was that it will doubtless continue to feature her now trademark proclamations of victimization by the political media. In her statement, she labeled the press reaction to her cutting and running "predictable," adding:

"How sad that Washington and the media will never understand; it's about country. And though it's honorable for countless others to leave their positions for a higher calling and without finishing a term, of course we know by now, for some reason a different standard applies for the decisions I make."

During a Women and Leadership event back in March 2008, Governor Palin was asked about Senator Clinton's response to media scrutiny - and criticism - she received on the campaign trail during the Democratic primaries. Palin made it clear to moderator Karen Breslau of Newsweek that she considered Clinton's conduct unbecoming. Hillary, she insisted, needed to just "plow through":

"Fair or unfair, I think she does herself a disservice to even mention it...When I hear a statement like that coming from a woman candidate with any kind of perceived whine about that excess criticism or, you know, maybe a sharper microscope put on her, I think, man, that doesn't do us any good. Women in politics, women in general wanting to progress this country. I don't think it's, it bodes well for her -- a statement like that...It bothers me a little bit hearing her bring that attention to herself on that level."

Here's the full Newsweek video of Palin complete response. For more on Palin's post-election take on the media "stinkers" who caused "disappointment in my heart about the world of journalism today," visit Perrspectives.

Sunday, July 05, 2009

New disturbing comments from Chairman of Joint Chiefs on DADT

Joe and I are both going to be writing much more about this tomorrow. But in a nutshell, Admiral Mike Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs, was asked about Don't Ask Don't Tell today. His response? Read it for yourself.
Mullen appeared to be distancing himself from Obama and the possible repeal of the policy. He talked about the impact lifting the ban would have on military families - and not in a good way. This is a new excuse, and doesn't even make any sense. Mullen also talked about "changing" the policy (again that word), rather than repealing it.
I just received the following email from Richard Socarides, former top aide to President Clinton, about Mullen's comments. Richard gave me permission to print it:
Mullen's comments are offensive and insulting. It's shocking that the civilian leadership allows him to talk about a group of Americans as if we were second class citizens.

How can you advocate a measured approach to equality? Deliberate is what I'm looking for. Deliberate is what we were promised.

And his comments about "the impact [of a policy change] on our people and their families" is outrageous. What about the impact of the current policy on gay servicemenbers? Are they not "his people." Not to mention the chilling effect official, government sanctioned discrimination has on all of us as Americans.

This is one of the most senior leaders of our government talking about us as if we were second class citizens. It has got to stop.

Sixteen years ago Sam Nunn and Colin Powell did this to us and no one called them on it. And we ended up with this policy. Now we must speak up. These are not legitimate opposing views. He, Mullen, is not expressing an American view of equality. And, shockingly, one of his main jobs is to articulate the policy views of his boss, the president.
It's happening all over again. The military is running roughshod over a Democratic commander in chief. Does anyone believe for a moment that a Republican president would let his military commanders get away with this kind of insubordination?

Friday, July 03, 2009

Yes, We Can!

Paul Krugman, NY Times: Get more or less universal coverage, that is. The CBO scoring on an incomplete bill sent everyone into a tizzy — and also led to an avalanche of bad reporting, with claims that it said terrible things about the public option. (There was no public option in the bill.)
Now the real thing has been scored — and it’s OK. Something like 97 percent coverage for people already here, at a total cost somewhere in the $1 trillion range. Bear in mind that the Bush tax cuts cost around $1.8 trillion over a decade. We can do this — and have no excuse for not doing it.

Don't Hope?