• “Get the government out of the marriage business.” The problem with that idea is that, in so far as marriage consists at least in part of a contractual relationshiop, government can never be entirely “out of the marriage business.”

  • For that matter, they can refuse to marry any heterosexual couple as well. There is no legal obligation to preside over marriages at all. And most churches leave it entirely to the clergyperson’s discretion whether he or she will agree to preside over the marriage of any couple that asks them.

  • Churches or other religious oranizations can legally refuse to marry ANY COUPLE WHATSOEVER, for any reason or for no reason. No clergy person is required to by law EVER to preside over a marriage. Now, their individual organizations may have certain rules or by-laws that govern when one of their clergy is obligated to preside over a marriage, but that’s an issue between the clergyperson and his/her employer, not an issue of law.

  • markpkessinger commented on the blog post Sunday Late Night: JFK Makes Santorum “Throw Up”

    2012-02-27 04:45:23View | Delete

    was born a few months after Kennedy’s inauguration, and first learned about his speech reassuring protestant clergy that he would not be beholden to the Vatican while in high school in the 1970s. At that time, the concerns of those protestant clergy — indeed, the fact that Kennedy should even have had to make such a speech — were generally viewed as evidence of a widespread and unfair anti-Catholic bias. 51 years after Kennedy’s inauguration, faced with a contender for the presidential nomination of a major party who openly disdains the notion of separation of church and state (one of the nation’s core founding values), along with a politically aggressive Conference of Catholic Bishops who have recently sought to bully public policy concerning contraception, the concerns of those protestant clergy a half century ago would appear to have been not entirely unfounded.

  • markpkessinger commented on the blog post Anthony Weiner 4pm ET Press Conference

    2011-06-06 17:31:25View | Delete

    Can we maintain a little perspective concerning Weiner’s wiener, please?

    Look, what Rep. Weiner did in originally tweeting the pictures was just plain stupid, and attempting to lie about it, colossally so. But he didn’t break any laws with what he did (nor in lying about it, since he did not lie under oath). He has not abused his office or the public trust in any way. To be sure, he may now have some marital issues to deal with, but that’s between him and his wife.

    Lots of folks have been rather self-righteously propounding about Rep. Weiner’s “poor judgment” or “lack of judgment,” implying that the poor judgment the man exercised in this one particular area of his life necessarily calls into question his judgment in all other areas. But that is nonsense; human beings are far more complex than that, each with his or her own set of character strengths and weaknesses. We all have feet of clay, whether not we admit it and regardless of whether our clay feet are ever exposed for all to see, as they have been in Mr. Weiner’s case. To suggest otherwise is to be naively simplistic about the various impulses, drives and desires that comprise human nature.

    I would address this question particularly to men here, gay or straight, who insist Rep. Weiner is permanently compromised by this scandal: how many of you can honestly say that you have NEVER, under any circumstances, done or said something, either in pursuit of sex or driven by sexual desire, that was ill-advised/stupid/potentially self-destructive (even if it has never been exposed)? And does that really mean you are unable to exercise reasonable judgment in the performance of your job? Get real, people.

    I am reminded of a sermon I once heard by the late Rev. Dr. William Sloane Coffin, who was then the chief pastor of Riverside Church in New York. Coffin, in addition to being a pastor, had been an outspoken opponent of the Vietnam war and a major civil rights activist. In the sermon, he was talking about people who were feeling discouraged or disillusioned about the state of affairs in our country. To those folks, Dr. Coffin said simply: “Who the hell ever told you you had the right to harbor illusions in the first place?”

  • Of course they want to kill Social Security. As long as any successful social program still exists, its very existence undercuts the conservative mantra that “the government is incapable of running anything effectively.”

  • And I’d love to be a fly on the wall at the next Cabinet meeting!

  • markpkessinger commented on the diary post Bradley Manning Is Punished for Seeking a More Perfect Union by KevinZeese.

    2011-03-09 06:41:14View | Delete

    Yes, military law is different. But what the military is doing to Bradley Manning is a violation of its own law with respect to pre-trial confinement of accused persons. From the Uniform Code of Military Justice: “813. ART. 13 PUNISHMENT PROHIBITED BEFORE TRIAL No person, while being held for trial, may be subjected to punishment [...]

  • markpkessinger commented on the blog post Voter’s Remorse On Earmarks?

    2011-02-09 00:28:07View | Delete

    The hysteria over earmarks is really nothing more than a means of distracting the electorate from the fact that neither party has EVER been serious about cutting spending. As the article above intimates, what constituents of one Congressional district might deem to be “pork” is viewed by another as a vital local project.

    Earmark projects in any case only constitute a tiny fraction of overall spending. In fact, they often serve an important purpose beyond their significance to the sponsoring legislator’s constituency; they are part and parcel of the legislative currency that enables deals and compromises to be made among legislators in cases where their support is needed. So whenever I see a politician seizing on “earmarks,” my first thought tends to be, “What harder issue is he/she avoiding that causes him/her to seize on this non-issue?”

  • markpkessinger commented on the blog post Johnny One Note

    2011-02-02 04:55:18View | Delete

    Bolton’s agenda, like that of all neo-cons, is neither national security, Middle East stability, nor the “planting of democracy.” Their agenda is to keep the war machine going so their cronies in the private defense contracting industries can continue to reap their profits off the backs of American soldiers and the lives of people around the world. Bollton will ALWAYS have hard-on for bombing Iran.

  • My apologies — don’t know how I missed that!

  • This list should have included Elliot Abrams’ assertion in the Washington Post yesterday that the events in Egypt prove that Bush was right about bringing democracy to the Middle East.

    Here is my response: http://open.salon.com/blog/markpkessinger/2011/01/30/response_to_elliot_abrams_bush_was_right_in_wapo.

  • Of course the President could do what you suggest. But this is yet another area where he is trying to have it both ways: he wants the latitude to be able to continue to move Gitmo detainees into the regular U.S. prison system, and to be able to try some of them in U.S. courts, but at the same time is unwilling to take on the political risk of a more principled stance of vetoing Congress’ attempts to do either of those things on the ground that it violates separation of powers.

  • markpkessinger commented on the diary post Obama’s Cowardice on Guantanamo Continues, Unites Insurgents Against US by Jim White.

    2010-12-28 19:40:27View | Delete

    “This board would regularly assess whether a prisoner still represented a danger to public safety or was safe enough to release.” The reason many of these prisoners might pose a threat to public safety (if, in fact, they really do) is because of the outrageously unjust and cruel treatment they received at the hands of [...]

  • markpkessinger commented on the blog post How’s That Working Out For Ya?

    2010-12-12 18:20:54View | Delete

    On my blog at Open Salon, I posted something very similar to this piece:

    The Mythical Independent ‘Middle’

  • markpkessinger commented on the diary post President Bush Obama, GOP Agree: Bail Out the Rich, Destroy Democratic Party by Scarecrow.

    2010-12-06 19:39:43View | Delete

    All day long I’ve been hearing the late Sen. Kennedy’s prophetic words, uttered in 1994, echoing in my head:

    “If the Democrats run for cover, if we become pale carbon copies of the opposition, we will lose–and deserve to lose. The last thing this country needs is two Republican parties.”

    Requiescat im pace, Senator.

  • markpkessinger commented on the blog post The Economics of the Bush Tax Cuts

    2010-12-06 07:04:15View | Delete

    Here is an open letter I sent to the President and posted on my blog at Open Salon:

    An Open Letter to President Obama re. the Bush Tax Cuts

  • markpkessinger commented on the blog post Your Privates are not private

    2010-11-24 02:08:14View | Delete

    [Here is the response I posted to Ms. Marcus in the Post's comments section.]

    I think what constitutes “immaturity” is for the country to allow policy to be driven by raw emotionalism and irrational fear rather than by a sober, data-driven analysis.

    According to the National Air Traffic Controllers Association, there are approximately 28,537 flights per day in the U..S. That means in the past nine years since 9/11, there have been over 93 million flights. In the same period, there have been three attempts to carry explosives onto commercial aircraft (none of which were successful): (1) Richard Reid, the “shoe-bomber,” (2) the London liquid bomb plot and (3) the more recent “underwear bomber.” So, based on three incidents, or 1 in 31 million, hundreds of millions of people are being asked to endure, respectively (1) the absurd ritual of removing belts and shoes, (2) having their shampoo confiscated if its half an ounce bigger than what is now permitted and (3) being subject to a virtual strip search or intrusive pat down, in effect being treated as if they were criminal suspects. Yet people still buy into the line that these things are “necessary to keep us safe.”

    The right to be secure in one’s person is surely at the heart of the Constitutional protection against unreasonable search and seizure. The Fourth Amendment stipulates the requirement of “probable cause,” which the courts in recent decades have relaxed to the lower standard of “reasonable suspicion.” In the case of airline passengers en masse, there is neither. But the TSA, by using the scanners and/or pat-downs, is effectively treating everyone as if they had reasonable suspicion sufficient to warrant a search of their persons.

    Given that it is generally accepted (intellectually if not always emotionally) that there is no possible way for the government to provide a 100% guarantee of safety, what, then, is a fair margin of risk? With a rate of occurrence over a nine year period of 1 in 31 million, WITHOUT (prior to) the scanners and/or newly intrusive pat downs, I would say we are doing a fine job already, and that we don’t need to go around instituting new procedures every time an incident occurs (and there will, inevitably, be more occurrences). How “safe” do we really need to be?

    Finally, the question begs: if a rate of occurrence of 1 in 31 million rises to a level of risk sufficient to broadly abrogate citizens’ rights under the Constitution, what, then, can the government not justify in the name of “safety” or “security?” At that point, we’ve pretty much defined out of existence the possibility of any search under any circumstance being deemed unreasonable.

    So, no, Ms. Marcus, the issue is not one of “immaturity” on the part of those who are opposed to the new machines and/or pat downs. But there may well be a maturity issue with those blindly accept anything the government tries to impose upon us (and anything former government officials are getting rich from selling to us) in the name of “safety,” when they have never actually remotely made that case.
    11/24/2010 1:39:49 AM

  • markpkessinger commented on the blog post Pelosi Officially Running for Minority Leader

    2010-11-05 17:15:06View | Delete

    Whether or not you think she is a Blue Dog, it’s pretty hard to make the argument that she was not an effective leader. Ms. Pelosi delivered on everything she was asked to deliver on — unfortunately, the President, on several occasions, left her twisting in the wind after she had managed to get some more conservative Democrats to take politically risky votes. I say keep her as minority leader.