There are too many moments these days when we cannot recognize our country. Sunday was one of them, as we read the account in The Times of how men in some of the most trusted posts in the nation plotted to cover up the torture of prisoners by Central Intelligence Agency interrogators by destroying videotapes of their sickening behavior. It was impossible to see the founding principles of the greatest democracy in the contempt these men and their bosses showed for the Constitution, the rule of law and human decency.
It was not the first time in recent years we’ve felt this horror, this sorrowful sense of estrangement, not nearly. This sort of lawless behavior has become standard practice since Sept. 11, 2001.
The country and much of the world was rightly and profoundly frightened by the single-minded hatred and ingenuity displayed by this new enemy. But there is no excuse for how President Bush and his advisers panicked — how they forgot that it is their responsibility to protect American lives and American ideals, that there really is no safety for Americans or their country when those ideals are sacrificed.
Out of panic and ideology, President Bush squandered America’s position of moral and political leadership, swept aside international institutions and treaties, sullied America’s global image, and trampled on the constitutional pillars that have supported our democracy through the most terrifying and challenging times. These policies have fed the world’s anger and alienation and have not made any of us safer.
In the years since 9/11, we have seen American soldiers abuse, sexually humiliate, torment and murder prisoners in Afghanistan and Iraq. A few have been punished, but their leaders have never been called to account. We have seen mercenaries gun down Iraqi civilians with no fear of prosecution. We have seen the president, sworn to defend the Constitution, turn his powers on his own citizens, authorizing the intelligence agencies to spy on Americans, wiretapping phones and intercepting international e-mail messages without a warrant.
We have read accounts of how the government’s top lawyers huddled in secret after the attacks in New York and Washington and plotted ways to circumvent the Geneva Conventions — and both American and international law — to hold anyone the president chose indefinitely without charges or judicial review.
Those same lawyers then twisted other laws beyond recognition to allow Mr. Bush to turn intelligence agents into torturers, to force doctors to abdicate their professional oaths and responsibilities to prepare prisoners for abuse, and then to monitor the torment to make sure it didn’t go just a bit too far and actually kill them.
The White House used the fear of terrorism and the sense of national unity to ram laws through Congress that gave law-enforcement agencies far more power than they truly needed to respond to the threat — and at the same time fulfilled the imperial fantasies of Vice President Dick Cheney and others determined to use the tragedy of 9/11 to arrogate as much power as they could.
Hundreds of men, swept up on the battlefields of Afghanistan and Iraq, were thrown into a prison in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, so that the White House could claim they were beyond the reach of American laws. Prisoners are held there with no hope of real justice, only the chance to face a kangaroo court where evidence and the names of their accusers are kept secret, and where they are not permitted to talk about the abuse they have suffered at the hands of American jailers.
In other foreign lands, the C.I.A. set up secret jails where “high-value detainees” were subjected to ever more barbaric acts, including simulated drowning. These crimes were videotaped, so that “experts” could watch them, and then the videotapes were destroyed, after consultation with the White House, in the hope that Americans would never know.
The C.I.A. contracted out its inhumanity to nations with no respect for life or law, sending prisoners — some of them innocents kidnapped on street corners and in airports — to be tortured into making false confessions, or until it was clear they had nothing to say and so were let go without any apology or hope of redress.
These are not the only shocking abuses of President Bush’s two terms in office, made in the name of fighting terrorism. There is much more — so much that the next president will have a full agenda simply discovering all the wrongs that have been done and then righting them.
We can only hope that this time, unlike 2004, American voters will have the wisdom to grant the awesome powers of the presidency to someone who has the integrity, principle and decency to use them honorably. Then when we look in the mirror as a nation, we will see, once again, the reflection of the United States of America.
WASHINGTON — Despite all the claims of improvements, 2007 has been the worst year yet in Iraq.
One of the first big moves this year was the launch of a troop “surge” by the U.S. government in mid-February. The goal was to improve security in Baghdad and the western al-Anbar province, the two most violent areas. By June, an additional 28,000 troops had been deployed to Iraq, bringing the total number up to more than 160,000.
By autumn, there were over 175,000 U.S. military personnel in Iraq. This is the highest number of U.S. troops deployed yet, and while the U.S. government continues to talk of withdrawing some, the numbers on the ground appear to contradict these promises.
The Bush administration said the “surge” was also aimed at curbing sectarian killings, and to gain time for political reform for the government of U.S.-backed Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.
During the surge, the number of Iraqis displaced from their homes quadrupled, according to the Iraqi Red Crescent. By the end of 2007, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) estimated that there are over 2.3 million internally displaced persons within Iraq, and over 2.3 million Iraqis who have fled the country.
Iraq has a population around 25 million.
The non-governmental organization Refugees International describes Iraq’s refugee problem as “the world’s fastest growing refugee crisis.”
In October the Syrian government began requiring visas for Iraqis. Until then it was the only country to allow Iraqis in without visas. The new restrictions have led some Iraqis to return to Baghdad, but that number is well below 50,000.
A recent UNHCR survey of families returning found that less than 18 percent did so by choice. Most came back because they lacked a visa, had run out of money abroad, or were deported.
Sectarian killings have decreased in recent months, but still continue. Bodies continue to be dumped on the streets of Baghdad daily.
One reason for a decrease in the level of violence is that most of Baghdad has essentially been divided along sectarian lines. Entire neighborhoods are now surrounded by concrete blast walls several meters high, with strict security checkpoints. Normal life has all but vanished.
The Iraqi Red Crescent estimates that eight out of ten refugees are from Baghdad.
By the end of 2007, attacks against occupation forces decreased substantially, but still number more than 2,000 monthly. Iraqi infrastructure, like supply of potable water and electricity are improving, but remain below pre-invasion levels. Similarly with jobs and oil exports. Unemployment, according to the Iraqi government, ranges between 60-70 percent.
An Oxfam International report released in July says 70 percent of Iraqis lack access to safe drinking water, and 43 percent live on less than a dollar a day. The report also states that eight million Iraqis are in need of emergency assistance.
“Iraqis are suffering from a growing lack of food, shelter, water and sanitation, healthcare, education, and employment,” the report says. “Of the four million Iraqis who are dependent on food assistance, only 60 percent currently have access to rations through the government-run Public Distribution System (PDS), down from 96 percent in 2004.”
Nearly 10 million people depend on the fragile rationing system. In December, the Iraqi government announced it would cut the number of items in the food ration from ten to five due to “insufficient funds and spiraling inflation.” The inflation rate is officially said to be around 70 percent.
The cuts are to be introduced in the beginning of 2008, and have led to warnings of social unrest if measures are not taken to address rising poverty and unemployment.
Iraq’s children continue to suffer most. Child malnutrition rates have increased from 19 percent during the economic sanctions period prior to the invasion, to 28 percent today.
This year has also been one of the bloodiest of the entire occupation. The group Just Foreign Policy, “an independent and non-partisan mass membership organization dedicated to reforming U.S. foreign policy,” estimates the total number of Iraqis killed so far due to the U.S.-led invasion and occupation to be 1,139,602.
This year 894 U.S. soldiers have been killed in Iraq, making 2007 the deadliest year of the entire occupation for the U.S. military, according to ICasualties.org.
To date, at least 3,896 U.S. troops have been killed in Iraq, according to the U.S. Department of Defense.
A part of the U.S. military’s effort to reduce violence has been to pay former resistance fighters. Late in 2007, the U.S. military began paying monthly wages of 300 dollars to former militants, calling them now “concerned local citizens.”
While this policy has cut violence in al-Anbar, it has also increased political divisions between the dominant Shia political party and the Sunnis - the majority of these “concerned citizens” being paid are Sunni Muslims. Prime Minister Maliki has said these “concerned local citizens” will never be part of the government’s security apparatus, which is predominantly composed of members of various Shia militias.
Underscoring another failure of the so-called surge is the fact that the U.S.-backed government in Baghdad remains more divided than ever, and hopes of reconciliation have vanished.
According to a recent ABC/BBC poll, 98 percent of Sunnis and 84 percent of Shias in Iraq want all U.S. forces out of the country.
PORTLAND, Ore. - A federal judge on Friday placed on hold a state domestic partnership law that was set to take effect Jan. 1, pending a February hearing.
The law would give some spousal rights to same-sex couples.
Opponents asked U.S. District Judge Michael W. Mosman to intercede after the Oregon secretary of state’s office ruled in October that they had failed to collect enough valid signatures on a referendum to block the law.
The Oregon measure covers benefits related to inheritance rights, child-rearing and custody, joint state tax filings, joint health, auto and homeowners insurance policies, visitation rights at hospitals and others. It does not affect federal benefits for married couples, including Social Security and joint filing of federal tax returns.
After the Legislature approved the domestic partnership law this year, gay rights opponents launched an effort to collect enough signatures to suspend the law and place it on the November 2008 ballot for a statewide vote.
But state elections officials said this fall that the effort fell 116 valid signatures short of the 55,179 needed to suspend the law.
In court Friday, Austin Nimocks, a lawyer for Alliance Defense Fund, which opposes the measure, said the state’s review process was flawed, disenfranchising citizens who had signed petitions.
The state’s largest gay rights group, Basic Rights Oregon, criticized the judge’s decision.
“It’s unfair our families once again are bearing the brunt of this ongoing struggle,” said Jeana Frazzini, a spokesman for the group.
Eight other states have approved spousal rights in some form for same-sex couples - Connecticut, Vermont, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Maine, California, Washington and Hawaii. Massachusetts is the only state that allows gay couples to marry.
Homes Sales Plunge, Feed Recession Fears Looks like we are going to get another BUSH recession. Home sales plunged 9%, the lowest level in 12 years, worse than expected. The signs (credit, housing,falling dollar, rising gas prices, etc.) are growing that a recession is coming just in time for the 2008 election. But if the Democrats win in 2008, will they get blamed?
ETHLEHEM, West Bank (AP) -- Greek Orthodox and Armenian priests attacked each other with brooms and stones inside the Church of the Nativity as long-standing rivalries erupted in violence during holiday cleaning on Thursday.
The basilica, built over the grotto in Bethlehem where Christians believe Jesus was born, is administered jointly by Roman Catholic, Greek Orthodox and Armenian Apostolic authorities.
Any perceived encroachment on one group's turf can touch off vicious feuds.
On Thursday, dozens of priests and cleaners were scrubbing the church ahead of the Armenian and Orthodox Christmas, celebrated in early January. Thousands of tourists visited the church this week for Christmas celebrations.
But the clean-up turned ugly after some of the Orthodox faithful stepped inside the Armenian church's section, touching off a scuffle between about 50 Greek Orthodox and 30 Armenians.
Palestinian police, armed with batons and shields, quickly formed a human cordon to separate the two sides so the cleaning could continue..."
Nataline Sarkisyan Dies After CIGNA Refused Transplant The 17 year Old from Glendale, CA, died because her insurer, Cigna Health Care, refused to pay for her liver transplant, which the company called "too experimental," even though Doctors at the UCLA Medial Center sent a letter urging CIGNA to review its decision. A few hours after CIGNA reversed its decision, Nataline died. In the U.S., even if you have "health insurance," you may not get health care that could save your life!
The Christian Right, and Fox's Bill O'Reilly, have been pounding their drums on the "war on Christmas," an imaginary "war" since there has been no such thing. Christians are not under attack for observing the "birthday" of "Jesus Christ." The Christian Reich has been up in arms over public/government agencies and some businesses using more diverse phrases like "Happy Holidays" to include all religious and non-religious holidays this time of year. Can't have that!
There is, however, a "war" on secularists and non-believers. First, there was Mitt Romney's religion speech in which he tried to assure the Christian Right that he would represent all Christians, not just Mormons, and then he attacked secularists and the "separation of church and state." He wants tolerance for Mormons and Christians, NOT for atheists and non-Christians!
"Christians identify themselves as those who believe in the salvation from sin offered to them through the sacrifice of their savior, Jesus Christ, the Son of God, and who, out of gratitude for the gift of salvation, commit themselves to living their lives in accordance with the teachings of the Holy Bible."
The House did not just acknowledge December 25 as a holiday observed by Christians, it said: "for Christians, Christmas is celebrated as a recognition of God's redemption, mercy, and Grace." There are no secular trimmings in that "whereas" clause.
Although falling short of calling the United States a Christian nation, and while properly identifying the United States as a "constitutional republic," the House went on to claim that U.S. history "points observers back to its roots in Christianity."
The Catholic League and other religious groups are boycotting the movie The Golden Compass, based on books by the humanist writer Philip Pullman, because it teaches children un-Christian things like free thought, free will, and feminism.
When will Christian fundamentalists get over their persecution complex and stop persecuting non-Christians?
Meanwhile, people all over the world, including Atheists like me, enjoy our Christmas bonus from work, and observe the "Christmas" season spending money to buy things for people and hope we get something besides socks and ties from Santa Claus. The American economy depends upon a faithful observance of this holiday.
Merry Christmas, Hanukah, Winter Solstice, etc. (HAPPY HOLIDAYS!)
I guess Joe Lieberman isn't a TOTAL loser, he is co-sponsoring (with Gordon Smith R-OR) the Federal Partner Benefits and Obligations Act which would give equal benefits for same-sex domestic partners of federal employees. There are 19 co-sponsors, ALL Democrats.
Speaking in New Hampshire, he pledged to try to repeal the Defence of Marriage Act (DOMA), passed in 1996, that banned the federal government from recognising gay marriages or unions and allowed states to refuse to recognise same-sex unions from other states.
I think we should get rid of DOMA; I think DOMA was a mistake from the beginning, and discriminatory, and so I will do everything in my power as President to do that," he told reporters, according to the Washington Post. Yesterday the candidate told an audience of several hundred that he approved of New Hampshire's civil union law.
"The key is to have the federal government recognise civil unions between same-sex couples," he said. Edwards also pledged to try to end the policy of "Don't Ask Don't Tell," also enacted by President Clinton, which bans openly gay, lesbian or bisexual people from serving in the US military.
Meanwhile, the Republican candidates continued to compete for the anti-gay vote!
Religious extremism sparked by the war in Iraq has left once-comfortable gays in the Middle Eastern country feeling demonized and afraid, The New York Times reported Tuesday.
Outsiders have always been viewed with suspicion in Iraq, but gays were ignored and accepted before American troops invaded in 2003. After the war began, about 400 people were killed for being gay, according to an Iraqi gay rights group, and gays and lesbians were forced to see lovers at night and in secret, according to The Times.
A United Nations report released in January described the growing persecution, torture, and killing of Iraqi gays and lesbians. In 2005, Iraq's highest-ranking Shiite cleric, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, issued a decree calling for gays and lesbians to be killed in the "worst, most severe way."
The decree was lifted a year later, but Mohammed and his friends said they still don't feel safe.
"We seem suspicious because we look like a cell of terrorists," Mohammed told The Times. "But we can't tell people what we really are. A cell, yes, but of gays."
The growing influence of Iran, where homosexuality is sometimes punishable by death, has also alarmed Iraqi gays and lesbians.
"I want to get out, but not just out of Iraq, out of the Middle East," Rafi, a 25-year-old law student, told The Times. "To a country that has respect for human rights. And for us. It will never be possible here." (The Advocate)
According to a new CNN Poll, John Edwards is Best Bet to Beat GOP! Despite having the highest "unfavorable" numbers of all the top candidates in either party, most people think Hillary Clinton is the most electable. But, according to the CNN Poll, it's John Edwards, not Clinton or Obama who beats all four top Republican candidates! Clinton, with an average margin of just 6.25 points, is the least likely to beat the GOP candidate, while Obama's spread is 8.75 points, JOHN EDWARDS BEATS THE GOP FIELD BY AN AVERAGE MARGIN OF VICTORY OF 16 POINTS!
Rasussen Reports also shows Edwards with double-digit leads over McCain, Huckabee, Mitt Romney, and Fred Thompson, but tied with Giuliani.
Would President Giuliani be as "pro-gay" as the former Mayor of New York? Empire Pride has opened up their Giuliani Files to compare the Mayor of New York's record to the Presidential Candidate.
As Mayor of New York, Giuliani: Rudy Giuliani was Mayor of New York City from 1994 – 2001.* During his time as Mayor, he worked with NYC’s lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community to advance a number of important civil rights issues. While the LGBT community often differed with Mayor Giuliani, it also agreed with him in a number of critical areas and was able to work with him to achieve real gains that improved our lives and those of our families.
Not only did Giuliani show a willingness to engage in a dialogue with the LGBT community, he:
-took part in the annual NYC Pride March and held annual Pride celebrations at Gracie Mansion where he lived as Mayor
-established and funded a Hate Crimes Task Force in 2000 so the City could fully investigate and prosecute bias cases
-was one of the first Republicans in New York to publicly support a statewide and federal hate crimes bill that included violence motivated by anti-gay hatred
-supported the passage of a statewide sexual orientation non-discrimination bill
-maintained $1.5 million in funding in the City’s budget for the LGBT community center’s capital campaign
-made high-level appointments of openly LGBT people to his administration
-signed domestic partner legislation in 1998 that at the time was the strongest such bill of its kind in the nation
While as a candidate for President, Giuliani has distanced himself from most of his earlier positions on LGBT issues, the documents and video clips that follow portray the Rudy Giuliani that earned him the “pro-gay” label he still carries with him today in his race for the U.S. Presidency.
For a good overview of the damage George W. Bush has done to the U.S. economy, check out this article by Nobel laureate Joseph E. Siglitz in Vanity Fair: The Economic Consequences of Mr. Bush. (Hint: record deficits, poverty, declining dollar, bankruptcy, foreclosures, etc....) What a mess the next President will have to clean up after! (Maybe it would be better if the Republicans won the Presidency one more term so they can get blamed for it and can't blame a Democratic President for it all, like they did Carter).
Here's a good article exposing the "ex-gay" ministries, "Ex-Gay" Ministries Brainwash Thousands, including the Memphis-based cult "Love in Action" and its looney leader John Smid, and survivors including our own Peterson Tuscano.
Here are more resources on the "ex-gay" movement and its victims:
There are reports that Matthew Murray, 24, the young gunman who shot and killed four church members and then himself at Colorado's New Life Church, was struggling with his bisexuality, and was thrown out of an anti-gay youth ministry (Youth With a Mission) with links to ex-gay groups. As reported by Richard Rothstein on his blog Proceed At Your Own Risk:
"Mathew Murray posted on his blog that he had written letters to his mother, complaining that the church had forgiven Haggard, but not him. Last summer, he wrote, "People like us are going to go to hell, according to Christians." He lists several reasons why. Reason number seven is bluntly stated, "I'm bisexual." In other postings, Murray wrote, "... I can never get a female date. I am at least able to get some male action."And later, he wrote about confronting his mother about his bisexuality.Murray wrote that he told her, "Using drugs, alcohol and having gay sex, I'm just trying to do what any Christian pastor would do. At least I'm not doing meth like Ted Haggard."Murray also noted that the Church forgave Haggard.He posted, "I want to know where was all the love, mercy and compassion for my supposed imperfections?"In 2002, Murray was dismissed from the Youth With A Mission group for what they described as "health reasons." Youth With A Mission has been described as "associated with the ex-gay organization Exodus International, has been criticized by some as a 'cult' and attacked for 'brainwashing' members and promoting anti-gay messages."Rothstein concludes his above-linked post with, "At least in Iran, the executions of gay men are swift. In the United States we prefer to slowly drive our gay children insane so that they grow up to be monsters."
Here's a Democrat with a backbone! Rep. Robert Wexler (D-FL) has an idea on how the Democrats can stop the log jam in congress, push back the GOP/Bush agenda, and improve the U.S. image in the world: IMPEACHMENT!
How long will the D.C. Democratic "consultants" ignore and shun the base of the party????????????
For the second time, Bush Vetoes the SCHIP Childen's Health Bill because he thought $35 billion was too much money for children's health, while Congress has approved a $700 billion Defense Bill which includes $696 billion in military spending with $189 billion more for the Iraq and Afghanistan military occupations. The Democrats caved in again on timetables for military redeployment out of Iraq. (Republicans always oppose spending more for social programs, but always support more military spending!)
I previously endorsed Dennis Kucinich for President because of his progressive views on LGBT rights, Iraq, Healthcare, etc. He is a great, courageous American, but the unfortunate reality is that it is unlikely that he will be the Democratic nominee. That has left me with the question of who among the most likely candidates, who could win, could I support and why.
The current front runner, Hillary Clinton, is good on some issues, and would make a better president than any of the Republicans, but I think we can do better. She has the highest negative/unfavorable ratings of any candidate (55%) and fares the worst against the top GOP candidates than Obama or Edwards ( Rasmussen Reports ). If she is the Democratic nominee, she would probably loose the general election. She will not win any southern states and only a few states on the East and West coast. That would be another disaster for the Democratic Party and the American people. I also have many disagreements with her, especially on economic and military issues. She is part of the moderate-conservative Democratic Leadership Council, now led by Harold Ford Jr., that is moving the Democratic party further to the right. She has equivocated on Social Security, and “free trade” (NAFTA). She is probably the most conservative Democratic candidate!
Barack Obama is looked upon more favorably by the general population and would do better in a general election. But he too has been using GOP talking points and taking “moderate” positions on Social Security and other issues. He has also been misusing religion and appealing to religious anti-gay bigots in the south to win support in the African-American population. He has very little political experience. I don’t think he is ready to be President.
That leaves John Edwards. Edwards is not perfect either, but on economic issues he is the most progressive of the “front-running” candidates. He has the most progressive universal health care program. He has made fighting poverty (something you don’t hear about in mainstream politics anymore) a main issue in h is campaign, he even went on a “poverty” tour of rural American going to places most candidates would avoid. He has a very strong record on labor issues, opposes NAFTA, and wants to take on political corruption. He comes from a poor, working class rural background. And he is a southerner (the last two Democratic Presidents have come from the south!).
ON LGBT issues, like all of the Democratic candidates he supports the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, ending the don’t Task Don’t Tell military policy, and though he doesn’t support gay “marriage,” he supports providing equal rights for gay and lesbian couples (civil unions, etc.). I wish he supported gay marriage, but neither does Hillary Clinton or Obama.
As much as I would like to support Kucinich, who does support single-payer universal health care and gay marriage equality, as well as the impeachment of Cheney and Bush, I think it is more important to make sure Democrats win in 2008. Kucinich will not win. According to most polls, Hillary Clinton would loose to all the top GOP candidates, except Giuliani, and would beat him by a smaller margin than Obama and Edwards. IF DEMOCRATS WANT TO WIN IN 2008, WE MUST NOT NOMINATE HILLARY CLINTON!
Edwards can win! He needs our support, and I’m endorsing John Edwards for president in 2008 and encourage you to join me.
Please take a moment to check out the campaign website at: www.johnedwards.com And Join the Campaign to Save America!
If you need any more evidence that HRC is a political opportunist who will do or say anything to get elected, check this out:Clinton Says Obama Too Left because he once opposed the death penalty and supported "socialized" medicine? If HRC thinks Barack Obama is "too left" what does that make her? Not a "progressive" or a "liberal" by any means! It's not too late to save the Democratic Party! HRC is another Harold Ford Jr. DLC stooge! Stop Hillary Clinton!
And this one, Enough of the D.C. Democrats: "Mah fellow progressives, now is the time for all good men and women to come to the aid of the party. I don’t know about you, but I have had it with the D.C. Democrats, had it with the DLC Democrats, had it with every calculating, equivocating, triangulating, straddling, hair-splitting son of a bitch up there, and that includes Hillary Rodham Clinton. I will not be supporting Senator Clinton because: a) she has no clear stand on the war and b) Terri Schiavo and flag-burning are not issues where you reach out to the other side and try to split the difference. You want to talk about lowering abortion rates through cooperation on sex education and contraception, fine, but don’t jack with stuff that is pure rightwing firewater. I can’t see a damn soul in D.C. except Russ Feingold who is even worth considering for President. The rest of them seem to me so poisonously in hock to this system of legalized bribery they can’t even see straight."
Hillary Clinton is NOT my preference among the Democrats (that would be Dennis Kucinich or John Edwards), but at least she is SANE! I'll take her over the neo-fascist Republicans! Thank goodness Democrats don't have to choose between Giuliani, Multiple-Mitt Romney, or Cuckoo Mike Huckabee!
Bob Kohler, gay activist, former owner of The Loft on Christopher Street, Stonewall veteran, co-founder of the Gay Liberation Front, ACT UP member, and longtime fixture of Charles Street, died on Wednesday at the age of 81. The cause of death was cancer, according to friends. A Queens native who lost a kidney in World War II, Kohler was remembered as a tireless fighter for gay rights, transsexual rights, queer youth, and people with HIV/AIDS who never gave up the struggle even as he battled illness and advancing years.
Oh Dear, not again! Democrats Cave on War Funding I know, the Dems don't have enough votes to overcome filibuster theats from Republicans, but couldn't they at least put up a fight and MAKE the Repubs actually filibuster (i.e. stay in the senate and hold up legislation) so the American people can see who is actually blocking progress in the Senate? Instead, Democrats are in Disaray! Great "leadership" Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi!
Wiretapping, torture, illegal military occupation, dropping the hate crime bill, and now this... Are the Democrats TRYING to force progressives to leave and join the Green Party?!
Huckabee Called for AIDS Quarantine. And that ain't all. As a candidate for U.S. Senate in 1992, Huckabee told the Associated Press that "If the federal government is truly serious about doing something with the AIDS virus, we need to take steps that would isolate the carriers of this plague." He opposed increased federal funding to cure AIDS and said homosexuality posed "a dangerous public health risk." Oh, Huckabee now has a 20 point lead in Iowa! YIKES!
Congress Drops Hate Crime Bill Once again, LGBT civil rights are getting screwed in the political machine. Bascially, Democratic leaders thought that the best chance of passing the Hate Crime bill was to attach it to a defense authorization bill that Republicans would support and Bush would not want to veto. However, many liberal Democrats do not want to vote to authorize more funds for the Iraq occupation and don’t want to vote for it, and added with the anti-gay conservatives who won’t vote for it, Democrats have been forced to take the Hate Crime bill out of the defense authorization. Sometimes I HATE politics!
Saturday (Dec. 1) was Worlds AIDS Day. For a thought-provoking look at the state of the crisis, go read this speech by Charles King. Has the "gay community" given up on the fight against AIDS? In addition to AIDS fatigue, and the growing numbers of bisexual and African-American AIDS cases, take a look at the growing popularity of "bareback" porn
Oh dear, according to the Idaho StatemenMORE gay men describe sexual encounters with Naughty Boy Larry Craig, including Mike Jones, the former male prostitute who outed Rev. Ted Haggard! My liberal heart had some sympathy for Craig based on his famous toe-tapping with the cute cop in the Minneapolis airport restroom, but in Craig's own words describing Bill Clinton, he has been a "very naughty bad boy". It seems like there is a lot of money to be made being a male prostitute to closeted homocons. The only thing worse than a closeted homocon, is a lying hypocrite who continues to oppose civil rights for gays and lesbians!
UPDATE: Make that EIGHT men! Four describe sexual encounters with Larry Craig, and Four others describe being hit on by Larry Craig.
The Log Cabin Republicans, the gay Republican group that appears to be supporting Rudy Giuliani, ran ads in Iowa attacking Mitt Romney, accusing him of raising taxes as governor of Massachusetts. They should have also pointed out that "Multiple Mitt" flip-flopped on other issues including gay rights. In his failed attempt to run against Sen. Edward Kennedy for the Senate in 1994, Romney claimed he would be a stronger advocate for gay rights than Ted Kennedy! In a letter Romney sent to the Log Cabin Repblicans, he wrote: "I am more convinced than ever before that as we seek to establish full equality for America's gay and lesbian citizens, I will provide more effective leadership than my opponent...If we are to achieve the goals we share, we must make equality for gays and lesbians a mainstream concern. My opponent cannot do this, I can and will." He also wrote that Clinton's compromise "Don't Ask Don't Tell" military policy was a "step in the right direction." He continues, "I am also convinced that it is the first of a number of steps that will ultimately lead to gays and lesbians being able to serve openly and honestly in our nation's military. That goal will only be reached when preventing discrimination against gays and lesbians is a mainstream concern, which is a goal we share."
But like Rudy Giuliani, Romney has changed his tune and is courting the Republican Christian Right by opposing equal rights for gays and lesbians. Wonder if the Uncle Tom Republicans will support Giuliani despite HIS new opposition to civil unions and support of the military's Don't Ask Don't Tell policy? Remember, they also thought that George W. Bush would do more for gay rights than Bill Clinton!
During Wednesdays CNN/You Tube GOP Presidential Debate, all the Republican candidates expressed their support of the military's discriminatory "Don't Ask Don't Tell" policy. Retired brigadier general Keith Kerr, who served 43 years in the military, asked the question: "I want to know why you think that American men and women in uniform are not professional enough to serve with gays and lesbians." The audience booed him! All of the GOP candidates reaffirmed their support of the policy which does not allow gays and lesbians to serve openly in the military, though none gave reasonable explanations to justify their position. The right-wingnuts accused Gen. Kerr of being a plant by the Hillary Clinton campaign since he is part of her LGBT steering committee, while the Clinton campaigned denied being behind Kerr's question. Right-Wingers are so good at changing the subject and diverting attention away from real issues.
Mike Huckabee, former Governor of Arkansas, is surging in Iowa and other polls, and could become the GOP Presidential candidate. A conservative Baptist minister, Huckabee is gaining support among the Christian Right, though some are debating whether he could beat Hillary Clinton and are considering voting for Giuliani or Romney. But as more Republicans learn about Huckabee, he will gain popularity and could win the nomination, or at least be number 2 on the GOP ticket. Unlike Romney or Giuliani, Huckabee is a true conservative, especially on social issues like abortion and gay rights. Huckabee could win some moderate support because of his more "compassionate" views on immigration and somewhat populist economic views concerning the poor. Since he is from Arkansas, he has a long history dealing with the Clintons and could be a nightmare for Hillary Clinton. But there is a lot the public doesn't know about Huckabee yet and it remains to be seen whether he can win popular support in the general election. Here's two articles everyone should read to learn the TRUTH about Huckabee:
Matt Taibbi in the Rolling Stone shows that Mike Huckabee is Not a Sane Man He does not believe in evolution and blames abortion for the immigration problem...
"The most powerful leader in the world had called upon me to speak on his behalf and help restore credibility he lost aid he failure to find weapons of mass destruction in Iraq," write McClellan. "So I stood at the White House briefing room podium in front of the glare of the klieg lights for the better part of two weeks and publicly exonerated two of the senior-most aids in the White House: Karl Rove and Scooter Libby. There was one problem. It was not true. I had unknowingly passed along false information. And five of the highest ranking officials in the administration were involved in my doing so. Rove, Libby, the Vice President, the President's chief of staff, and THE PRESIDENT HIMSELF."
According to the evidence in the Scooter Libby trial, Dick Cheney was directly involved in the outing of Valerie Plame, a CIA agent, which is an impeachable CRIME! If Bush was involved as well, he also committed an IMPEACHABLE CRIME! Add this one to the long list of high crimes committed by Bush and Cheney!
Rep. Steve Cohen D-TN-9) is one of over 20 co-sponsors of Dennis Kucinich's Resolution to Impeach Dick Cheney (HR-333). He has been a frequent guest on Air America's Randi Rhodes radio program discussing the issue, and he needs the support of his constituents in TN Dist. 9! While many Democratic "leaders" are afraid to hold impeachment hearings to investigate the crimes of Bush and Cheney, Kucinich and Steve Cohen, along with the other 20 co-sponsors, are showing some political courage to take on the political establishment and hold Cheney and Bush accountable for their crimes and defend the U.S. Constitution. If you want Congress to hold impeachment hearings and investigate the crimes of Cheney & Bush, please contact Cohen and Kucinich and let them know that YOU support impeachment hearings!
We also need to organize a Shelby County/Mid-South Impeachment Committee to organize local protests and townhall meetings and work toward getting local resolutions passed supporting impeachment. At some point, we should have a townhall meeting with Rep. Steve Cohen to share our views on impeachment.
The U.S. House of Representatives passed the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) The vote was 235-185, mostly along party lines. The Bill (HR 3685) did not include gender identity so it does not protect transgender people from discrimination. The bill divided the gay community and civil rights groups. The HRC supported the bill withouth gender identity, while the NGLTF and Stonewall Democrats led a coalition to include gender identity. Democratic leaders in the House, including Rep. Barney Frank, decided to bring the bill to a vote without gender identity and offer an amendment to add it. The amendment, offered by Tammy Baldwin, was withdrawn because of the lack of votes to pass it. So it's a mixed deal. After 30 years, ENDA has finally passed the House. Even if the Senate passes it, Bush will probably veto it. With the passage of the Hate Crime bill and ENDa, the Democrats in Congress have fulfilled part of their promises to the gay community, and will also probably pass a "military readiness" bill to overturn the "don't ask don't tell" policy prohibiting gays from serving openly in the U.S. military.
The GOP tried to kill the bill by arguing that it would legalize gay marriage (?) and tried to adjourn the House to stop the vote.
Those gay Republicans who continue to argue that the Democrats never deliver on their promises to the gay community are lying.. as usual. In the meantime, the Republican Presidential candidates continue to ignore the gay community and are pandering for the endorsements of the anti-gay Christian Right. Pat Robertson has endorsed Guilianni, Sam Brownback has endorsed John McCain and the Paul Weyrich has endorsed Mitt Romney. The GOP continues its march towards Fascism.
The worthless Democratic "Majority Leader" Steny Hoyer and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi worked to kill Dennis Kucinich's resolution to impeach Dick Cheney, while Republicans voted to keep the debate going to "embarass" the Democrats and to accuse them of wasting time debating impeachment. Hoyer, Pelosi and Harry Reid seem to agree with the GOP that it is more important to pass resolutions threatening Iran than to defend our constitution from the Bush/Cheney criminals.
Too bad the Democratic "leadership" does not have the political spine to defend the U.S. Constitution and hold Bush and Cheney accountable for their crimes. Is the Democratic Party becoming totally useless and pathetic? Dick Cheney has an "approval" rating of 10%! 54% of the American people support IMPEACHING him! Is there ONE testicle among all the Democratic "leaders" in Congress?
According to a new USA Today/Gallup Poll, 50 percent of the American people STRONGLY DISAPPROVE of George W. Bush's performance as President. That's up from 44% last year. This is the first time in modern U.S. history that half of the citizens of this country strongly disapprove of a President! Bush even beats Nixon with 48%!
Here's another Republican "Anti-gay" gay sex scandal! Washington state GOP Representative Richard Curtis apparently dressed in women's red stockings and a black sequined lingerie and had sex with a male escort/porn model, Cody Castagna. Curtis claims that Castagna is blackmailing him for $1,000, Castagno says that Curtis agreed to pay him $1,000 for unprotected sex acts in his hotel room in Spokane. Oh yes, Rep. Curtis is opposed to gay rights and voted against them over and over, and claims he is NOT gay, even though he also rented several gay porn videos.
The DLC's new pawn Harold Ford Jr. "I Caution Some in Our Party" The "some" are progressive (liberal) Democrats who don't want to support Republican-lite DLC Democrats, like Hillary Clinton, who will LOOSE the general election!
I Caution HFj and the DLC: If you don't believe in progressive Democratic principles, then join the Republican Party! Quit turning off Democratic voters by supporting Republican wars, Republican tax cuts, Republican military spending, and Republican "family (anti-gay) values"!
The controversy over Barack Obama's "Embrace the Change" Gospel concerts featuring "ex-gay" gospel singer Donnie McClurkin keeps growing, and it looks like Obama's embrace of the anti-gay black churches in the South may speed the end of his presidential campaign. Obama has been trying to repair his support among LGBT voters by adding a WHITE gay minister, who only spoke briefly, and by giving an extensive interview with The Advocate. However, the negative reactions from the gay community seems to have emboldened McClurkin and the concert attendees who cheered him as he lashed out at his critics. "They accuse me of being anti-gay and a bigot," McClurkin said. "We don't believe in discrimination. We don't believe in hatred, and if you do you are in the wrong place at the wrong time. That's the whole premise of God. That's the whole premise of Christ is love, love, love. But there is a side of Christ that deals in judgment, and all sin is against God." He reiterated his claim that "God delivered me from homosexuality," and claimed that he had been villified. He said he opposes discrimination against gays and he is not a bigot. He was cheered by the African-American concert attendees, 70 percent of whom believe that homosexuality is wrong and immoral.
If McClurkin had just made the claim that his faith in God helped him to change his sexual identity/preference I think gays should have accepted that and let it be. He has a right to his religious beliefs. BUT, McClurkin has gone further in his past statements and writings. He has refered to homosexality as a "curse." And here are some other quotes (from Truth Wins Out:
Homosexuality has really ravished our children. It started in my generation. I was touched by it and I struggled with it and all that for years and there was nobody to deal with it. I started dealing with it in my sermons and even when we do our concerts.” (An interview with www.FamilyChristian.com)
“Everybody is going to the same hell. The religious hypocrite will go to the same hell as the murderer and homosexual. My job is to say that sin is wrong and kill the sin, not the sinner.” (The Voice, 16 July 2001)
Commenting on New York City’s Harvey Milk School, which caters to gay students, he said, “The gloves are off. And if there’s going to be a war, there’s going to be a war. But it will be a war with a purpose.” (CBN, 700 Club Sept. 23, 2003)
And now, it looks like he may be another repressed homo after all. At least one person has come forward with a convincing story of havng a sexual relationship with McClurkin from 2001-2004!
My problem with McClurkin is NOT that he believes God "cured" him of his homosexual desires, but that he has attacked gay people. I respect the right of religious fanatics who think homosexuality is an abomination to make their own choices about their sexuality and their sexual identity. He should not be attacked for his religious beliefs, as irrational as they are. He and other "ex-gay" evangelicals cross the line when they attack gays and lesbians.
Despite Obama's good record on LGBT issues and his public statements of support for LGBT equality, he has exposed a major fault line between LGBT people and homophobic anti-gay black churches. By embracing McClurkin and the anti-gay black churches in South Carolina and across the South, Barack Obama has embraced homophobia for political gain. He has lost a lot of LGBT support just at the time he needs more support to defeat Hillary Clinton. The Obama campaign has killed their chances by pandering to anti-gay bigots.
When Obama, and other Democrats, violate the separation of church and state and embrace religious fundamentalism they should pay the political price of losing the support of liberals and progressives. Obama has attacked progressive secularists for ignoring "people of faith." But the Donnie McClurkin disaster demonstrates why politics and religion should not mix and why the framers of the U.S. Constitution insisted upon a "wall of separation" between church and state. Democrats, especially progressive Democrats, should be defending secularism not attacking it.
According to this CNN/Opinion Research Poll, 75 percent of the American people disapprove of Congress, only 22 percent approve, even worse than Bush's approval rating. Although twice as many approve of Democrats in Congress (43%), 51% disapprove of them as well. Wonder Why? Continued funding of the Iraq occupation, caving in to Bush on domestic wiretapping, etc. etc. Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid are turning out to be weak and timid "leaders", as I predicted. Why can't the Democrats choose strong leaders who will stand up to Bush and the GOP and defend the majority of the people who elected them? We need a progressive/Democratic version of Newt Gingrich! If these Democratic "leaders" cannot stand up to Bush, who has an approval rating around 28%, we are in real trouble!
Democrats seem to have the illusion that they can easily win in 2008 and gain more seats in Congress because of Bush and public dissatisfaction with the GOP. They need to wake up! If Hillary Clinton is the party's nominee, she will probably loose to Rudy Giuliani. Many progressive Democrats are so fed up and frustrated they may throw their support to the Green Party, or not vote at all. The Christian Right will vote Republican, even for Giuliani, because of their hatred/fear of Hillary Çlinton and because the GOP has promised them to fill the courts with pro-life/conservative judges. The Democratic Party is not winning many hearts and minds, despite the dismal record of the Bush Administration.
Here's a good analysis in The Guardian of the problem plaguing the Democratic Party and what needs to be done to save it: Democrats Hocking their Agenda
Barack Obama is under fire from gay rights groups for taking part in a concert in South Carolina featuring "ex-gay" gospel singer Donnie McClurkin, even though Obama has repeated his support of gay rights and opposition to discrimination, and McClurkin has also said he opposes discrimination against gays and lesbians. His "sin" is that he believes he has been "cured" of his homosexuality and that sexuality is a choice. Wayne Besen's Truth Wins Out organization has asked Obama to cut ties with Donnie McClurkin for claiming that homosexuality is a matter of choice.
I don't agree with McClurkin's religious beliefs about homosexuality, but I also oppose the "politically correct" gay thought police calling anyone who questions their belief that "sexual orientation" is biologically innate and fixed from birth "homophobic." Scientific evidence is mixed on the causes of sexual orientation (gay or straight) and some of us are Queer By Choice and believe that we should be free to choose our sexual preference or identity. If people are not happy being gay (or straight), or it is against their religious beliefs, they should also be free to choose their sexual identity.
I am more concerned about Barack Obama pandering to conservative anti-gay black churches. I'm not sure if it is fair to accuse Obama of Playing to Anti-Gay Sentiment. And it seems like a questionable political strategy for gay groups to pressure Obama to drop McClurkin from the concert and alienate black voters. Obama could help unite gays and African-Americans to oppose hate and discrimination against both groups. The GOP has been making significant gains in the black community, until Katrina and Bush's disastrous second term, by appealing to homophobia and anti-gay prejudice as well as other conservative religious beliefs on social issues like school prayer and abortion. Those gains may be minimal now, but they could provide just enough support to help the GOP in tight elections. Like it or not, the Democratic Party cannot allow the GOP to keep taking away African-American and evangelical votes. The challenge is for the Democratic Party and Democratic candidates to appeal to religious and African-American voters without undermining their commitment to the equality and civil rights of LGBT people. Perhaps a progressive Christian like Obama could remind African-Americans that MLK was right when he said that "Injustice against any of us is a threat to justice for all of us."
Congratulations to Allen Cook and Bob Dumais for resurrecting GAZE, one of the early Memphis gay newspapers. Allen was the publisher of Triangle Journal News, which he handed over to the Memphis Gay & Lesbian Communty Center. Triangle Journal is now the newspaper of the MGLCC. GAZE will feature more national news and different local writers and news as well. And it will carry my column, QUEER NOTES! You can pick a copy up at a local gay bar or business, or online at the GAZE Website.
None of the GOP Presdidential candidates would appear at the Human Rights Campaign/LOGO forum to discuss gay issues, but they did climb all over themselves to appear at the ant-gay Family Research Councils' Values Voters Summit" this weekend. Most of the candidates tried to reinforce conservative doubts about Rudy Guiliani, who in the past has had moderate views and positions on abortion and gay rights. "Multiple-Mitt" Romney, a former supporter of gay rights who claimed he would be more supportive of gay rights than Edward Kennedy when he ran for the Senate, is now championing the radical right's anti-gay agenda. In fact, all of the GOP candidates seem to be competing for the most ant-gay award. The Christian Right is not too happy with the leading GOP candidates, especially Giuliani, and their favorite candiate, Sam Brownback, has dropped out of the race because of his extreme positions. However, all of the remaining candidates (except libertarian Ron Paul) have been pandering to the Christian Right because they cannot win without the support of the base of the Republican Party. Some may see the predicament off the Christian Right as good for gays ("Values Voters" Anarchy Good News for Gays">, but even Giuliani is promising to support the Christian Right's agenda, including appointment of federal judges like Scalia, Thomas, Alito and Roberts, and has distanced himself from gay rights and now tells the Family Research Center that he would support a constitutional amendment to prohibit gay marriages. The danger of Giuliani is that he can appeal to the anti-gay Christian Right and "moderate" voters, making him the GOP's best chance of winning in 2008. The bad news is that he can probably beat Hillary Clinton, who appears to be the Democratic candidate for 2008.
The Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) moves to the House of Representatives following approval thursday in committee. The House Education and Labor Committee voted 27-21 to approve the bill, which would protect gays and lesbians from discrimination in the workplace, but without gender identity, will not cover transgender people. According to Rep. Barney Franks, there are not enough votes to pass ENDA with gender identity included, therefore it was left out of the bill. The exclusion of gender identity has divided the gay community. The National Gay & Lesbian Task Force and the National Stonewall Democrats have led a coalition of 300 LGBT groups to push Congressional Democrats to include gender idendity in ENDA. In an attempt to salvage ENDA and try to bring LGBT groups together, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has agreed to allow an amendment to the bill to include gender identity. Rep. Tammy Baldwin will be presenting the amendment after ENDA is voted on in the House.
I am divided on this one myself. I want ENDA to include gender identity and protect eveyrone, LGBT, from discrimination. But ENDA was first introduced in 1975 and this is the first time it has been brought to a vote in Congress. Can we afford to kill a legislation the gay community has been working on for 25 years? Is it wrong to pass ENDA without gender identity, and get the protection for gays and lesbians now, and work to add gender identity when there is more support for it and enough votes to pass it? I cannot answer these questions to my own satisfaction. Let's do all we can to get ENDA passed with the amendment! If you haven't done so already, CONTACT YOUR REPRESENTATIVE in Congress to urge them to support ENDA and Tammy Baldwin's amendment! If you live in Memphis, call Rep. Steve Cohen (202) 225-3265. Cohen already supports ENDA, but he needs to hear from us to know he has our support.
As expected Al Gore was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. The Draft Gore campaign is trying to persuade Gore to run for President in 2008, but Gore insists he is not running. Because of Hillary Clinton's commanding lead in the Democratic Primary, it is probable wise for Gore to wait until 2012, but the growing movemement to draft Gore in 2008 is an indication of the growing dissatisfaction with the Democratic candidates, at least among progressive/liberal Democrats. It looks like Hilllary Clinton has pushed Gore out of the race in 2008.
I haven't been able to assess how all the winning candidates for Memphis City Council will affect the gay community, but several of them are supportive of equality. As far as Mayor goes, too bad Herman Morris did not win. I think he could have probably done the best job of uniting Memphis (black & white, gay & straight). Some will blame him for helping Herenton get re-elected by taking votes from Carol Chumney, but that argument could go either way. If Chumney had stayed in the City Council, Herman Morris would be our new Mayor. And if Chumney had publicly supported equal rights for gays and lesbians, she would have received more votes. I have no regrets voting for Herman Morris since he had the courage to defend the civil rights of gays and lesbians. I want to thank Morris for reaching out to the gay community, and I wish we could have done more to support him.
Someone keeps posting these personal attacks against me on Memphis blogs:
"In the interest of full disclosure, Mr. Maynard, tell us how many times you've "flip flopped" been bought and sold and screwed over the gay community for your own gain or advancement. Despite your self-appointment as "the decider" and spokesman for the entire gay community, those of us who are in the community and KNOW you, know not to trust you."
When I have done any of those things ??? These are LIES! I wish this person would call or email me in person and we can discuss his/her personal attacks on me. I would like to know why anyone would accuse me of selling out or screwing the gay community for "gain or advancement"? What?? How have I done this? And how in the hell do you "know" me? I don't think you know me at all.
Over the years of being a "gay activist" I have endured many personal attacks, usually from people who criticize my "leadership" in gay organizations, but never supported those organizations in any way. I am open to constructive criticism. I have made many mistakes over the years, said and did things I regret, and I am eager to apologize or correct them. But what I do not accept are UNFOUNDED personal attacks like this. I resent people LYING about me, usually behind my back, who do not seem to have the courage to talk to me in person, but attack me behind my back and spread lies for THIER own personal gain.
This person is upset that I support Herman Morris for Mayor and NOT Carol Chumney. I don't speak for the entire gay community, and I don't claim to. I am an individual activist, etc. I have the freedom to express my opinions and not be attacked for them. Herman Morris has been endorsed by the Memphis Stonewall Democrats and the Tennessee Equality Project. It is not just ME endorsing Morris. Maybe this person is working for the Carol Chumney campaign and is trying to discredit ME. But the endorsements by Stonewall Democrats and TEP were not MY decision.
So if this person would like to have a discussion on the issue, here's your chance. Please back up your claims about me or be prepared to APOLOGIZE for spreading LIES.
The Christian Reich base of the Republican Party is throwing a temper tantrum! A group the conservative Christian leaders meet over the weekend and are threatening to support a third party if the GOP nominates a pro-choice candidate (i.e, Rudi Giuliani). Maybe they should save John McCain's faltering campaign. In an interview on Beliefnet, the Arizone Republican presidential candidate said that he would prefer a Christian president to lead the U.S., and that "the Constitution established the United States as a Christian nation" ! Evidently McCain has not read the U.S. Constitution, which does not even mention Christianity or god! The Constitution estabished a SECULAR government that forbids (a) religious tests for candidates and (b) the "establishment of religion"! Another reason John McCain should NOT be president!
The Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), which would prohibt employment discriminaton based on sexual orientation and gender identity, has a good chance of passing in Congress, IF, gender identity is dropped. This is forcing LGBT rights activists and organziations to make a tough choice: Do we work to pass ENDA with gender identity and sexual orientation and it fail or get vetoed, or do we pass ENDA without gender identity have have a better chance of it passing and not getting vetoed? The National Gay & Lesbian Task Force and transgendered actitivists say NO WAY to excluding gender identity, while Rep. Barney Frank argues that we should go ahead and pass ENDA without gender identity and work on adding it later. Tough decision.
Did the U.S. Senate Just Authorize Military Action Against Iran? By a vote of 76-22, the Senate passed the Lieberman-Kyl amendment, which threatens to “combat, contain and [stop]” Iran via “military instruments.” Sen. Jim Webb (D-VA) called the amendment “Cheney’s fondest pipe dream” and said it could “read as a backdoor method of gaining Congressional validation for military action.” (Hillary Clinton voted for it!)
Republicans have stopped several Democratic bills to bring troops home and end the illegal occupation of Iraq. In fact, MORE Senators, including many Democrats, voted FOR the GOP resolution condemning the Move On ad exposing General Petraeus than voted to support our troops and start bringing them home. Maybe that is why the approval ratings of Congress continue to fall (to 11% according to one poll) below George Bush's 30% approval.
Why do the Democrats continue to allow the Republicans to change the debate from the Iraq War to Moveon.org? Why did the Democratic leaders even allow this stupid resolution to come up for a vote? Why did so many Democrats fall for the bait and vote for this resolution? Are the Democrats in Congress, especailly the Senate really this stupid and incompetent?
It is time Democrats and activists do something to counter the GOP filibusters. Maybe the Democrats should use the "nuclear option" the GOP threatened to use agains the Democrats when they controlled the Senate. There should be a simple majority vote to pass bills in the Senate. Otherwise, if GOP obstructionism continues to thwart the will of the American people, maybe it is time for a REVOLUTION! No I'm not kidding... We need to consider all options to end the illegal occupation of Iraq, bring our troops home, and save this country.
"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances." — The First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution
According to a recent poll by the First Amendment Center, 65% of Americnas believe the founders of our country intended the U.S. to be a Christian Nation, and a majority (55%) believe that the U.S. Constitution established a "Christian Nation". If they read the U.S. Constitution they would know that it is a secular document that does not even mention God or Christianity! If they read the FIRST AMENDMENT they would know that it prohibits "an establishment of religion."
More disturbing than the mistaken assumption of special status for one religion is a broader pattern evident in this poll, taken by the respected First Amendment Center. The poll shows widespread ignorance of basic freedoms and a belief that many of the Constitution's rights apply only to some Americans, not to all:
* 98% said the right to speak freely about whatever you want is essential or important. But 39% would muzzle public statements that might be offensive to religious groups, 42% would bar musicians from singing songs others might find offensive, 56% would outlaw public statements that might be offensive to racial groups, and 74% would prohibit public school students from wearing a T-shirt that others might find offensive.
* 97% said the right to practice the religion of your choice is essential or important, but only 56% said freedom of religion applies to all religious groups.
* 93% said the right to be informed by a free press is essential or important. But 37% would not allow newspapers to freely criticize U.S. military strategy or performance.
After 9/11, the American people seem to have forgotten what, if anything, they learned in high school civics class, if they still teach such a thing in schools. Over the past six years we have seen more and more government and media censorship, especially of anything that is too critical of the government or the military. The Busheviks do not allow anyone critical of Bush to attend a Bush event, the Republican and Democratic Parties restrict protests at their conventions, the media censors anti-war speech... The right to speak or protest has been sharply curtailed, and if you speak too much you might feel the sting of a taser gun!