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War Criminals for Marriage Equality

By: Teddy Partridge Wednesday February 20, 2013 1:52 pm

You take your allies where you can find them, I learned again this weekend when Don Rumsfeld, Princeton wrestler and Navy wrestler, OpEdded in the Washington Post in favor of continuing wrestling as an Olympic sport. I didn’t like seeing him rehabilitating himself through the Olympic movement, but the WaPo editorial board has such low standards for contributors, I figured Rummy’s own rueful advice about his Army applied: “You go to wrestle with the OpEdders you have—not the OpEdders you might want or wish to have at a later time.”

Wrestling I love; marriage equality I must have, though.

And the American Foundation for Equal Rights, in an attempt to show how embroadened is the support for marriage equality in America, has joined a Coalition, the Respect for Marriage Coalition. They have made an ad that includes marriage equality support from Laura Bush (okay, people admired her more than Hillary in 2001) and Barack Obama (yes, we hope he’s busy getting his Frenemy of the Court brief ready to send down the street to SCOTUS, the deadline is 2/28) but….

These other guys, ahem.

Also included and opining on marriage equality are two individuals who don’t add to the debate. They don’t represent the mainstream of American opinion. They are, in fact, war criminals. Colin Powell and Richard Bruce “Dick” Cheney, key members of the Bush Administration who lied us into the War On Iraq, are folks I don’t want on my side.

I don’t care if these two people think marriage equality is a good idea. Their other “good ideas” weren’t good ideas. We — and by “we” I mean any Americans with a lick of sense — should not be holding them up as thought leaders in America. These men, in a just world, should be preparing their war crimes defense full-time at The Hague with their attorneys, not popping off with their opinion that I should be allowed to marry.

And I don’t think any Americans will watch this ad and decide, “Gee, Dick Cheney thinks it’s a good idea, I guess it’s the right thing to do.”

I don’t care what they think. I want them both shunned. They should be removed from public view. They should certainly not be put forward as part of the growing American consensus on marriage equality. The American Foundation for Equal Rights, despite all their good work, has erred in joining with the Respect for Marriage Coalition in promoting this ad. No one is a bigger fan than AFER: I live-blogged that court case every single day. I have supported AFER with wee pittances now and then, really wee.

This ad must be reworked to exclude war criminals Colin Powell and Dick Cheney. They don’t represent the mainstream of American thought on any topic, and the blot on their records means they are not entitled to join our American majority bandwagon for marriage. Find some other GOPs, if you must, who are not war criminals.

Please, AFER and the Coalition, rethink this ad.

 

Progressive Caucus Shows How to Get to Balance

By: Teddy Partridge Wednesday February 6, 2013 3:54 pm

The House Progressive Caucus has shown the way to balance in the debate on how to avoid the sequester. It’s important to remember that the first “fix” was all program cuts, and the second “fix” reduced the proportion of program cuts from 100% to 70% — but the entire enterprise is still weighted to the GOP program-cuts side.

Here are the Progressive Caucus leaders, explaining this:

“Almost $2 trillion has been cut over the past two years from teachers, firefighters, police officers, loans for college students, and infrastructure investments,” Rep. Ellison said. “The American people shouldn’t continue to pay the price for massive tax breaks for millionaires and billions of dollars in subsidies to oil companies.”

“If one-to-one is really our goal, why don’t we make the entire budget and investment process one-to-one instead of restricting it to this current round?” Rep. Grijalva said. “We’ve cut non-defense budgets to the bone. There are simply no major savings hiding in school lunch or nurse training programs. We need investments. The Beltway refusal to make job creation our number one priority is a scandal, and the Balancing Act is the right way to fix it.”

Greg Sargent shows why even “winning” as defined within the Beltway is actually losing for Democrats:

Even if the parties reach a deal in the third round of deficit reduction to avert the sequester with something approaching an equivalent sum of spending cuts and new revenues, the overall deficit reduction balance would still be heavily lopsided towards Republicans. Yet they continue to insist on resolving round three only through cuts, anyway.

Here’s what an actual 50/50 split between cuts to programs and revenue would look like. Unsurprisingly, in order to even things up at this late stage, it’s revenue-heavy. It has to be:

The Congressional Progressive Caucus announced today that it is introducing legislation to cancel the automatic spending cuts — known as the “sequester” — that are scheduled to take place at the beginning of March. The CPC’s Balancing Act would replace the scheduled spending cuts with more than $900 billion in new revenues and nearly $300 billion in cuts to the defense budget.

The Balancing Act would result in $960 billion in new revenue, generated from closing tax loopholes for corporations and the wealthy. It ends the carried interest loophole that benefits wealthy hedge fund managers, closes tax loopholes that encourage corporations to send profits to offshore tax havens, ends the $4 billion in annual subsidies to Big Oil companies, and closes loopholes that benefit buyers of private jets and yachts. It also limits deductions for wealthy taxpayers and closes loopholes in the estate tax.

Of course, there’s lots of lobbyists working Capitol Hill hard for the Big Oil companies, as well as the private jet owners and estate-tax-worriers. So this plan also works to save some of the drastic cuts to the Pentagon. It would be wise for the defense industry to pay attention here:

The proposal also cuts $278 billion from defense spending, a dramatic reduction from the $500 billion in cuts the Pentagon would face under the sequester. Added together with previous deficit reduction efforts, the Balancing Act would equalize cuts to defense and domestic spending while also making the overall package of deficit reduction measures equal parts revenue and spending cuts….

There’s a chart at the link that shows how this works, and we really need to do things this way.

It’s time to compromise, people. And this 50/50 compromise is the best compromise for everyone.

Additionally:

The Balancing Act also includes investments into infrastructure and education meant to bolster the economic recovery. It would reinstitute the Making Work Pay tax credit, which would provide up to $800 to low- and middle-income families, for one year at a cost of $61 billion. It would also spend $55 billion on education investments — a measure the CPC says would prevent 280,000 teacher layoffs and modernize 35,000 public schools — and $160 billion in infrastructure investments. The CPC projects that such investments would create roughly 1 million jobs. Even with those investments, the Balancing Act would result in a total of $3.3 trillion in deficit reduction when added to already-enacted cuts and revenues.

Obama: End Ban on Gays in Scouting

By: Teddy Partridge Sunday February 3, 2013 2:58 pm

Asked by Steve Croft if the board of the Boy Scouts of America ‘should end their national band on gays in Scouting’ and if Scouting should be open to gays, President Obama offered an unequivocal and unqualified “Yes.” He then went on to describe his view that gays and lesbians should have opportunities in all areas and institutions in America, equal access “the same way everybody else does, in every institution and walk of life…. Nobody should be barred from that.”

A friend writes that this may be the largest audience for a presidential pro-equality message ever. The President’s Super Bowl interview is, in fact, often his largest televised audience, whether or not the American people have quite yet focused on the moving figures on the television screen. The TVs are on nonetheless, and this pro-equality statement was blasted into every home where folks were gathered ’round.

“Souper” Bowl Sunday Late Night Preview: Your Help Needed!

By: Teddy Partridge Saturday February 2, 2013 10:57 am

I thought we’d do something a little different this Sunday, to honor the soup specially cooked up for me — that seems to have knocked back my winter cold within a week! Which would be a record for me and any cold. That chicken-noodle aroma filled our entire apartment, so I soaked in it for about six hours before I actually got to eat it on Monday night.

Let’s share Soup recipes this Sunday! I’ll bring the Badger Miracle Soup recipe (it has a secret store-bought ingredient that makes it very special!) and you bring your favorite life-saving or cold-killing soups. Clearly, we’re going to need them in the Land Of No Sick Leave!

No prizes, but bring some recipe cards; if I know the FDL crowd, there’ll be some Super Soups on offer!

I got my cold from a Safeway checker at my local store. I had already unpacked my purchases onto the conveyor belt when he turned from bagging the previous customer’s groceries. One look at him and I cried out, “Oh, you’re sick! You should go home!” I tried to rescue my few items but he’d already started pinging my purchases, getting his goopy hands all over them. He replied, completely congested: “I’d like to go home but the manager won’t let me, we’re so short-handed already!” Then he wiped his nose with the remainder of a tissue from his pocket and handled the rest of my groceries, turning away to sneeze on the customer in the adjoining lane as I protested. I know, GROSS.

I went to the manager, of course, and the lad was sent home forthwith. The following day, just as the cold was descending on me during a brisk neighborhood walk, we cut through the Safeway to stay dry on our way from the coffee shop to the streetcar. There was the same manager, checking out customers himself, with only one other checkout line open, and the ‘self-serve’ checkout waiting line about 10 deep. So I guess the manager decided to enforce the stay-home-if-you’re-sick rule.

To no avail, at least not for me. Even though I washed my hands immediately upon arriving home, and wiped all my groceries with Clorox Wipes (“Kills 99% of household germs~!”) that one-percent germ crept through and laid me low. But I’m better now, and I credit the soup, since Regular Colds usually knock me out for ten days minimum. Last February, I was sick all 29 days with a cold!

So let’s celebrate Soup on its “Souper” Day! Bring your favorite recipes to share — even if it’s only the sound of the can opener! — around at 8:01FDL time (11pm eastern) and we’ll decompress from whatever sporting event you might have been subjected to. And Share Soup!

Georgia US Senator Saxby “OBL Ad” Chambliss to Retire

By: Teddy Partridge Saturday January 26, 2013 8:37 am

The most odious political advertisement of the post-9/11 era was run by Saxby Chambliss against triple-amputee Vietnam veteran incumbent Max Cleland in the 2002 cycle. Almost universally condemned by the polite political class, including now SecDef-designate Chuck Hagel and then-to-be GOP presidential nominee John McCain, the ad morphed Senator Cleland’s face into that of Osama bin Laden, only one year from the attacks on The Homeland.

That a chickenhawk like Chambliss could run an ad like this one offended just about everybody, although it worked: Chambliss won the seat in 2002′s swirling anti-terror fever election, when George Bush put war and “national security” on the midterm ballot.

The “basis” for the ad, if it can be said to have one, was that Senator Cleland was trying to craft employee protections into the emerging Department of Homeland Security, thus (allegedly) holding up the birth of the agency that would protect us from The Tall Man and his planet-wide evil terror operatives.

And now Chambliss has announced, or confided in Georgia’s governor who has announced it for him, that he will retire after two terms in the US Senate. Which is, in itself, reason for celebration, notwithstanding Chambliss’s possible GOP successors:

Two far-right state Republicans have already declared their intention to run for Chambliss’ seat, Roswell’s U.S. Rep. Tom Price (R) and U.S. Rep. Paul Broun (R-Athens), who infamously declared in 2012 that evolution, quantum physics and other established scientific facts are “lies from the pit of Hell.” Broun announced on Tuesday that he was thinking of mounting a primary challenge against Chambliss, who has angered conservatives by participating in the “Gang of Six” effort to broker a budget deal in late 2012.

This is Georgia so the likelihood is that the GOP nominee will be elected Senator. But that was the conventional wisdom in both Missouri and Indiana this past cycle, and we know how those races turned out: with Democrats holding (Missouri/McCaskill) or flipping (Indiana/Donnelly) seats for unlikely Democratic victories. Could that happen in Georgia with a Democratic nominee attractive to the Obama coalition? Last time, Chambliss had to run-off to keep his seat, so it’s not a GOP lock.

Stay tuned.

PS: YouTube commenters note that this ad is not the original version with triple-amputee Cleland’s face morphing into OBL’s; apparently that one’s been pretty well scrubbed. But the point remains the same: it was a dastardly smear that offended Georgians (Zell Miller criticized the ad) and GOPs alike.

Liberation Alliteration: O2.0

By: Teddy Partridge Monday January 21, 2013 11:46 am

obama inauguration speechToday, our struggle for liberation and acceptance of American lesbians, gays, bisexuals, and transgenders (LGBT) reached a new milestone: for the first time in American history, the word “gay” was spoken as part of a presidential inaugural address.

Our journey is not complete until our gay brothers and sisters are treated like anyone else under the law – for if we are truly created equal, then surely the love we commit to one another must be equal as well….

Which is remarkable, considering Barack Obama’s immediate presidential predecessor used one of his State of the Union addresses, only eight years ago, as the occasion to celebrate his party’s bigotry by calling on Congress to pass the Federal Marriage Amendment to make civic recognition of our love illegal and unconstitutional.

Because marriage is a sacred institution and the foundation of society, it should not be redefined by activist judges. For the good of families, children and society, I support a constitutional amendment to protect the institution of marriage.

More importantly, though, was today’s reference to the voting coalition who actually made Barack Obama a re-elected president, in his alliterative citation of our places of liberation:

“We, the people, declare today that the most evident of truths – that all of us are created equal – is the star that guides us still,” he said, “just as it guided our forebears through Seneca Falls, and Selma and Stonewall.”

Seneca Falls, in 1848, was the first convention to be organized by women for their rights in the Western world, where the struggle for suffrage began with the radical Quakerism of Lucretia Mott and the secular logic of Elizabeth Cady Stanton.

Selma, in 1965, was where the three Civil Rights marches began. After Bloody Sunday (March 7), and then the Pettus Bridge (March 16), the third march reached Montgomery on March 24.

Stonewall, in 1969, was not the first riot by drag queens and other gay people, but is the one acknowledged today by mainstream American historians to have begun the LGBT struggle for visibility and equality.

None of these struggles are finished; none of these landmarks commemorate completed accomplishments. But having them mentioned by a newly re-sworn African-American president from the steps of the Capitol, in a single breath, in his second inaugural address, is a moment to savor. Much more work remains, but this acknowledgement of the road we have traveled together to freedom is significant.

FEMEN Activists Bare Breasts at Pope’s Weekly Address

By: Teddy Partridge Friday January 18, 2013 8:34 pm

The pope speaks from his balcony weekly, and lots of people attend in St Peters Square below to hear him say his hateful, anti-gay messages. This week, four pro-gay FEMEN activists from Ukraine stripped to the waist, bared their breasts and their inked-on messages, and screamed “SHUT UP” at the pope. Then they were (quickly) dragged away from the devout by the police. Not that the police protected the protesters from being assaulted by at least one woman while they were being manhandled away into custody, as you can see in the video below.

This is speaking truth to power, and an especially excellent venue since police couldn’t use gas on the protesters without also endangering the devout Catholics who came to hear their anti-gay, pedophile-protector spiritual leader speak to the masses. While I doubt the pope was ruffled, or possibly even aware, of this — some of his followers were clearly upset. It only takes a few demonstrations like this to start a movement.

I wonder how many women from FEMEN will be in St Peters Square next week?

h/t care2causes

Congress Secretly Raises Lawyers’ Budget for DOMA Defense to $3M

By: Teddy Partridge Tuesday January 15, 2013 5:06 pm

darn that Pelosi!

Because the President determined that the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) is unconstitutional, the federal government won’t defend it in court, including in front of the Supreme Court in March. But the GOP base is crazy because of that, in that they want the government to keep The Gheys down where they belong, or at least not married.

So the Speaker of the House, John Boehner, set up a lawyers’ group to defend DOMA, with a half-million dollar budget. Lawyers being lawyers, they blew through that budget while losing their cases at every appellate level. Now they have to put together their case before SCOTUS.

But that costs money. So far, Boehner’s got the BLAG (Bi-Partisan Legal Advisory Group) to agree (Democrats voting NO) to increase the lawyers’ budget to $1.5M. But they need more money! And every time he tries to get more money for DOMA defense, that darn Nancy Pelosi raises a stink.

So on January 3rd, when the House got organized, Speaker Boehner incorporated BLAG into this Congress’s rules. No one was quite sure why, but now a reason has become apparent. How about secretly raising the cap on expenditures? This time to three million dollars:

House Republicans secretly agreed to raise the cost for defending the Defense of Marriage Act in court to $3 million in the first week that the 113th Congress was sworn into office, according to a copy of the contract obtained by the Washington Blade on Tuesday.

The contract, signed by new House Committee on Administration Chair Candace Miller (R-Mich.), allows for expenses to pay for outside counsel to defend DOMA in court to reach $3 million — a full $1 million more than the previous cost cap agreed to in September. In a statement this week, House Democrats said the agreement was reached in secret and they weren’t aware of it until late Monday.

Predictably, Democratic members of BLAG who were kept in the dark about this are pissed:

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.), the two “no” votes on BLAG, responded to news that the cost cap to defend DOMA was yet again raised and raised in secret with consternation.

In a letter to Boehner dated Jan. 15, they jointly renew their call on House Republicans to discontinue defense of DOMA — but also made a new call for Republicans to demonstrate their defense of DOMA more transparently — calling the actions a “clandestine commitment of taxpayer funds” as well as “highly irregular and objectionable.”

“Until Republicans decide to abandon this effort once and for all, we ask you to make your legal plans clear; to make public every contract signed with outside counsel in this case in a timely manner; to declare the total cost of this case to the taxpayers; and to abide by the highest standards of transparency and accountability,” Pelosi and Hoyer wrote.

Good luck with that.

Photo by NASA HQ in the public domain.