Guess this is the "democracy" that the supporters of Bush's illegal invasion of Iraq promised us? Actually, this is a Shiite government like Iran's which can thank the U.S. for putting into power.
UPDATE: Two Gay Men Killed in Baghdad BAGHDAD (AP) — Iraqi police say the bodies of two gay men have been found in Baghdad's Shiite slum of Sadr City after a leading cleric repeatedly condemned homosexuality. A police official says the two men were believed killed Thursday by relatives who were shamed by their behavior. The killings come after Shiite cleric Sattar al-Battat repeatedly condemned homosexuality during prayers, saying Islam prohibits homosexuality. The official says no family members have claimed the bodies or demanded an investigation. The killings come weeks after Iraqi police found four bodies near Sadr City with the word pervert written on their chests.
Progressives, who helped to get Obama nominated and elected, are increasingly voicing criticism of the centrist policies of the Obama administration. While Obama has reached out to conservative/moderate journalists, pundits and political groups in D.C., even the small but vocal "Blue Dog Democrats" who are threatening to kill any progressive legislation in Congress, Obama has yet to meet with the much larger Progressive caucus, or invite a progressive critic like Paul Krugman into his office.
On the economy, Obama is following the same policies as Bush and Clinton, even appointing Wall Street insiders like Timothy Geithner and Timothy Summers, to "bail out" the financial institutions who caused the Great Recession...
On health care, Obama has sided with insurance companies to oppose a single-payer public health insurance program and try another failed band-aid approach that will benefit the insurance companies. The Obama administration tried to keep single-payer advocates out of the "health care summit" in D.C.
In the "war on terror," Obama is not only continuing many of the unconstitutional programs of the Bush administration, he is even protecting and covering the crimes of the Bush administration. While he campaigned to end the war in Iraq, he is not going to pull the troops out as he promised, and is going to escalate the war in Afghanistan.
On gay rights, the Obama administration and the Democratic Congress do not want to touch the military's failed "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy or do away with the Defense of Marriage Act. These were two of the big promises Obama made to the LGBT community. It looks like Obama will follow Bill Clinton's example and throw LGBT people under the bus of political compromise.
One of the most vocal progressive critics of Obama's economic plans has been Paul Krugman, who made some news this week, including the cover of Newsweek
Gates: No Change Soon on "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" WASHINGTON (AP) — Don't expect any change soon to the "don't ask, don't tell" policy about gays in the military. Defense Secretary Robert Gates says both he and President Barack Obama have "a lot on our plates right now." As Gates puts it, "let's push that one down the road a little bit."
The White House has said Obama has begun consulting with Gates and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff on how to lift the ban. Gates says that dialogue has not really progressed very far at this point in the administration.
The Pentagon policy was put in place after President Bill Clinton tried to lift the ban on gay service members in 1993.
The policy refers to the military practice of not asking recruits their sexual orientation. In turn, service members are banned from saying they are gay or bisexual, engaging in homosexual activity or trying to marry a member of the same sex.
Gates appeared on Fox News Sunday.
The Associated Press --------
Looks like the Obama administration will not even attempt to address the big LGBT issues in the next four years. Nothing on Don't Ask, Don't Tell, or the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). If this Democratic administration and Congress does not at least pass the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), they will loose even more progressive LGBT voters. Many of us are switching to parties that DO support equal rights for everyone without political compromises (like the Green Party and the Socialist Party USA).
It's not just LGBT issues, from continuing many of the Bush administration policies on the "war on terror" to escalating the military occupation of Afghanistan, not holding Bush administration officials accountable for their crimes, to snoozing up to the CEO's on Wall Street and continuing Bush policies to "bail out" the financial institutions that caused the Great Recession, Obama has not fulfilled his promise of CHANGE. While he has met with every "moderate-centrist" group in Washington DC, he has yet to invite the Progressive caucus to a meeting, and tried to shut single-payer health care advocates out of the "health care summit". From the economy and war to health care and gay rights, Obama is ignoring the progressives who helped get him elected. This is looking more and more like a repeat of the Bill Clinton fiasco. THIS IS NOT CHANGE!
Washington Blade is reporting on the salaries of executive directors of the top LGBT organizations in the U.S. How Much Do They Make? Given the current scandals surrounding CEO salaries and "bonuses" in U.S. corporations, maybe the timing for this discussion is not good, or maybe it is. As an activist who organized and lead several LGBT organizations in my lifetime, with NO pay, I don't think anyone leading LGBT organizations should be in the job for money. I agree that many of the directors of these groups do important work and should be compensated, but $300,000? Should a "leader" of a LGBT organization like Human Rights Campaign, which begs me for $100 donations when I cannot pay my rent, be getting paid over $300,000? Why should directors of non-profit organizations be getting paid as much or more than the President of the United States?
The two LGBT groups I give money to when I can, the National Gay & Lesbian Task Force (Task Force) and Stonewall Democrats are LOW on this list, and I think Jon Hoadley is underpaid for Stonewall Democrats ($59,000), especially considering the bankrupt (in more ways than one) Log Cabin Republican director gets paid $142,000.
So as in the world of work in general, monetary compensation does not always relate to the value of work people do..
Out & About Notes: Miller’s advocacy for the sanctity of marriage rang hollow at a time when his wife of 15 years sued him for divorce, citing behavior that suggested Miller was guilty of extramarital philandering. Bridgett Suzanne Miller filed divorce papers in Bradley County Circuit Court on February 25, 2005 and accused her husband of “inappropriate marital conduct.”
A USA TODAY analysis finds that states where the percentage of "nones" — people who say they have no religion — is at or above the national average of 15% are more likely to push expanding the scope of marriage, civil unions or same-sex partner rights.
Today in New Hampshire, where nones are 29% of the population, nearly matching Catholics (32%) and Protestants (30%), the House of Representatives is expected to vote to legalize same-sex marriage, and "it has a good chance of passing the Senate this week," says Marty Rouse of the Human Rights Campaign.
Friday in Vermont, a gay marriage bill that has passed the Senate goes to the House. Vermont has the highest rate of nones in the nation (34%), according to the newly released American Religious Identification Survey. Gov. Jim Douglas announced Wednesday that he intended to veto the bill if it passed.
Coming up: Legislatures in Rhode Island (nones 19%) and Maine (nones 25%) will hold hearings this spring on marriage "equality" bills. Nearby in New York (nones 14%), the Legislature could approve a bill "by the Fourth of July," Rouse says.
The religious identification survey's findings work in reverse, as well. The states with the highest rates of identification with conservative denominations — such as Catholic, Baptist, Pentecostal and Mormon — were more likely to be among the 30 states where voters have approved constitutional amendments banning gay marriage.
Barry Kosmin, Trinity College sociologist and co-director of the survey, says the correlation is no coincidence. "Given that 25% of GenX (those ages 29 to 42) and GenY (ages 18 to 28) are nones, this is where we are headed," he says. "It's a standoff between young people with a tremendous sympathy for civil rights and what appears to be biblical injunctions from religion."
The more secular countries and states are, the more they support LGBT rights. Clearly, the future of gay rights requires a more secular society and a strong separation of church and state.
Obama has been carefully trying to respond to the public's anti-corporate outrage while not offending the corporate elites. In fact, the Obama administration seems to be more afraid of a backlash from Wall Street and corporate America than they are of the populist uprising. Even in his second prime-time press conference tonight, Obama tried to express some anger at the AIG bonus scandals, while defending business and the "good" corporate rich. Treasury Sec. Timothy Geithner has been meeting and talking with his friends on Wall Street trying to win their support for his bank bailout plan. In order to win their support, Obama is softening his tone toward them.
Maybe the corporate rich on Wall Street, and the Obama administration, should read Matt Taibbi's excellent article in the Rolling Stone explaning why Americans SHOULD be angry at Wall Street: The Big Takeover
Here's a peek: "It's over — we're officially, royally fucked. no empire can survive being rendered a permanent laughingstock, which is what happened as of a few weeks ago, when the buffoons who have been running things in this country finally went one step too far..."
Rep. Barney Frank Calls Scalia a Homophobe Massachusetts Rep. Barney Frank called Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia a "homophobe" in a recent interview with the gay news Web site 365gay.com. The Democratic lawmaker, who is gay, was discussing gay marriage and his expectation that the high court would some day be called upon to decide whether the Constitution allows the federal government to deny recognition to same-sex marriages.
"I wouldn't want it to go to the United States Supreme Court now because that homophobe Antonin Scalia has too many votes on this current court," said Frank.
It's really amazing that a politician as smart and astute as Barack Obama would allow conservative Republicans to get ahead of the populist outrage over AIG and the whole tax payer bailout of Wall Street banks and financial institutions that created the greatest economic crisis since the Great Depression. Once again Democrats have failed to be the party of the working class. Republicans have been able to (hypocritically) point out the financial and political connections between Democrats in Congress, and even the Obama Administration, and these corrupt "welfare queens" on Wall Street.
If Obama is going to be politically successfull, he MUST quit following the failed ideas of Wall Street Insiders like Timothy Geithner and Lawrence Summers and listen to the populist uprising and take on the corporate elite.
Lesbian couples are more likely to be poor than married heterosexuals, and children of same-sex parents are twice as likely to live in poverty as those of traditional married couples, a new report shows. UCLA's Williams Institute, which studies gay issues, says its report out today is the first to analyze poverty among gay and lesbian couples.
The report is an analysis of the most recent data on same-sex unmarried partners from the 2000 Census and two smaller surveys that include questions on sexual orientation. Together, it argues, they debunk "a popular stereotype (that) paints lesbians and gay men as an affluent elite."
The Vermont Senate will vote next week on legislation legalizing same-sex marriage, following acceptance of the bill in committee on Friday. Hundreds of people filled the Statehouse as the Judiciary Committee voted 5-0 to advance the measure. The measure would replace Vermont’s first-in-the-nation civil unions law with one that allows marriage of same-sex partners, beginning Sept. 1. Civil unions, which confer some rights similar to marriage, would still be recognized but no longer granted after Sept. 1.
The scandal over AIG bonuses continues to unravel and explode, and it looks like the Obama administration may be one of the culprits. And what hypocrisy from the Republicans! Back when Obama and Democrats tried to limit CEO bonuses for firms that received TARP funds, they opposed "government intervention" in private businesses. They OPPOSED limiting bonuses for the CEOs we bailed out. Now, conservatives are blaming the Obama administration, specifically Sen. Chriss Dodd, for the AIG fiasco. GOP Blasts Obama Adminisration for AIG
What a mess! It is proof that Democrats, including high level Obama advisors like Geithner and Summers, have been trying to protect and cover their Wall Street pals all along. There will not be CHANGE in Washington until Obama dumps them and gets some real progressives on his economic team to fix this mess and protect American workers from bankers, speculators, and Wall Street greed!
The Republican Reich can't seem to get their story straight! The GOP's leader, Rush Limbaugh, and Sean Hannity are defending AIG and capitalism, and most Republicans in Congress OPPOSED attempts by Democrats to restrict CEO bonuses in the stimulus and TARP bills!
Finally, the U.S. Will (Finally) Sign UN Declaration on Gay Rights According to the Associated Press, the Obama administration will endorse a U.N. declaration calling for the worldwide decriminalization of homosexuality that then-President George W. Bush had refused to sign.
The Roman Catholic Pope will join other anti-gay religious fundamentalists and Islamic countries which behead or hang gays to oppose the inclusion of gay people in the UN Declaration on Human Rights
But, Why is the Obama Administration pandering to the Christian Right?
NAACP Chairman Julian Bond gave a great speech to the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) Gala Saturday, and makes the case that "Gay Rights are Civil Rights!" Some homophobic black preachers need to watch this:
My only problem with Bond's speech is his emphasis on sexuality being an "immutable" trait like race, and that the constitution protects us from discrimination based on immutable traits. First, sexual orientation is NOT totally biologically or immutable (See Queer By Choice), and Second, our rights are not only based on biological characteristics. The Constitution and Bill of Rights guarantee all citizens equal protection under the law and freedom of conscience--i.e., the freedom to CHOOSE our religious, political and yes choose our sexual identity/preference. The liberal "biological" argument for gay rights leaves out bisexuals and those who do CHOOSE to be gay, bi, or straight. Anyway, still a good speech that should persuade most rational people to support LGBT rights.
(I wish people at the Human Rights Campaign would read David Richards' IDENTITY AND THE CASE FOR GAY RIGHTS to learn how to make the case for LGBT rights without resorting to questionable scientific claims about sexual orientation being a biologically immutable trait.)
Today's Class War update comes from several articles on Alternet:
U! S! A! We're Number.. 15! A new report shows that in terms of aggregate health, education, purchasing power, security and general well-being (HDI: Human Development Index), The U.S. is in decline. The main problem--growing inequality!
I think the Obama Administration has written it's own political obituary! Obama Advisors-"The Fundamentals of the Economy are Sound" ? WASHINGTON (AP) — One of President Barack Obama's economic advisers said Sunday that the economy is fundamentally sound, a striking reversal from the Democrat's campaign rhetoric as his administration now guides the nation's financial health amid dire conditions. Obama's Democratic allies pleaded for patience for an administration hitting the two-month mark this week, while Republicans said the White House's plans ignore small business and the immediate need to fix what ails the economy.
During the fall campaign, Obama mercilessly mocked his Republican opponent, Sen. John McCain, for declaring, "The fundamentals of our economy are strong." Obama's team painted the veteran senator as out of touch and failing to grasp the challenges facing the country.
On Sunday, economic adviser Christina Romer was asked during an appearance on NBC's Meet the Press if the fundamentals of the economy were sound. "Of course they are sound," she replied.
"The fundamentals are sound in the sense that the American workers are sound, we have a good capital stock, we have good technology," she said. "We know that — that temporarily we're in a mess, right? We've seen huge job loss, we've seen very large falls in GDP. So certainly in the short run we're in a — in a bad situation."
Just a week ago, White House Office of Management and Budget director Peter Orszag declared that "fundamentally, the economy is weak."
"If we are keeping focused on all the fundamentally sound aspects of our economy, all the outstanding companies, workers, all the innovation and dynamism in this economy, then we're going to get through this," Obama said, striking a tone that his top aides mimicked.
Despite the new enthusiasm at the White House and on Wall Street, there was little solid evidence to suggest an end was in sight to the severe recession that has already cost 4 million American jobs, driven down home values and sent foreclosures soaring. Meanwhile, Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao said he was concerned about the safety of the estimated $1 trillion his country has invested in U.S. government debt.
Obama sought to downplay the worries. ----
How can anyone in the Obama administration claim that the "fundamentals of the economy are strong" ??? Didn't that comment, which flew in the face of economic reality, do John McCain in? Has anything changed since then? No, the economy has gotten WORSE. American capitalism, WORLD capitalism, is in its greatest crisis since the Great Depression. The credit and housing crisis have pulled the rug out from under what was left of consumer demand. Workers are losing jobs (4 million) and wages. Obama has appointed more Wall Street lobbyists and crooks (Timothy Geithner and Larry Summers) to solve the crises they and Clinton economic bigwig Robert Rubin helped create. (I believe the choice of Geithner and Summers to lead Obama's economic policies has doomed his administration.)
Capitalism is in a CRISIS, with no end in sight. Obama and the Democrats are now the defenders of a failing economic system! Obama is continuing the Bush bailout of Wall Street, banks and financial institutions that created the crisis while proposing a stimulus package that falls too short and will not solve the crisis. The unemployment rate is skyrocketing to double digits. Yes, Obama inherited a crisis he didn't create, but both Republicans and Democrats (including the Clinton administration) did create it. Both capitalist political parties are part of the problem. The problem is CAPITALISM!
Obama in Hot Seat Over Partner Benefits In one of the first tests of Obama's commitment to LGBT equal rights, he is being forced to decide whether same-sex federal employees are entitled to domestic partnership benefts. In two cases federal appeals court judges in California have ruled that the partners of gay employees should receive insurance benefits, while the Office of Personnel Management has told insurers not to provide the benefits, citing the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act, which Obama has opposed. Now his administration will be forced to take a position on DOMA.
The anti-gay right wing will jump on this issue and use the current economic crises to rally opposition to spending tax payers' money to provide insurance for the partners of federal gay employees. It will be a tough issue--one of many--to test Obama's commitment to LGBT equal rights.
Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting: Media Black-Out of Single-Payer Health Insurance Despite the popular support of a "single-payer" healthcare program, the U.S. media, as well as the Obama Administration and Congress, are ignoring the best plan to "reform" healthcare and insure every American. --- Not only do private insurance companies oppose a single-payer national public health insurance program, they do not want to compete against any government/public health insurance plan! While Obama is not going to propose a single-payer plan, his plan would offer the option of "Medicare" for anyone who wants it. The Companies are trying to kill that part of his plan. Dean Baker explains why on Common Dreams: If Private Insurers Compete With Govenment, They'll Lose
Here's what Democrats SHOULD argue--we want people to have the option to CHOOSE if they want to pay out the ass for a private insurance plan, which will give them less for their money, or a PUBLIC healthcare plan (Medicare) which will cost less and give them more for their money. If Republicans are really for letting people CHOOSE their healthcare plan, they cannot refuse!
The world's largest African-American Pentecostal denomination is entangled in a cyberspace fist fight with a conservative blogger.
DL Foster, a self-described former homosexual, says Church of God in Christ Presiding Bishop Charles E. Blake supports gay marriage.
Foster runs the blog, Gay Christian Movement Watch at gcmwatch.com, which monitors the "unbiblical acceptance of homosexuality" among pastors and churches.
The longtime critic has accused the Los Angeles pastor repeatedly of sympathizing with homosexuals and has called for his resignation.
Foster's latest objection focuses on the bishop's endorsement of the 2008 Faith in Human Rights Statement in the Netherlands.
"He endorsed a document that is an affirmation of gay marriage," said Foster, an Atlanta-based pastor.
This time, Blake, along with other COGIC officials and parishioners, are fighting back on COGIC.com, where pages of testimonials have been posted stating both Blake's and Memphis-based COGIC's position on homosexuality, as well as questioning Foster's character. COGIC "utterly rejects and uncompromisingly denounces the practice of homosexuality," writes Blake.
The bishop was invited in December to attend the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights by Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands. The United Nations' General Assembly first adopted the document in 1948. In essence, it pronounces that true religion irrespective of denomination, gender or race defends the human rights and freedoms of every person.
However, Foster, who is third-generation COGIC but not a dues-paying member, says Blake has opened the door for gay-rights organizations to use the document to support gay marriage. "He's saying one thing to COGIC but to the ecumenical world it's another story," Foster said.
----------- It's a shame COGIC, probably the Christian fundamentalist church with the largest percentage of closeted gay people, has to be prove how anti-gay it is by not only opposing the rights of gays and lesbians, including civil marriage equality, but to even get worked up about a Bishop supporting "human rights" along with other civilized groups in the world.
On the one hand, COGIC Supports the U.N. Declaration of Human Rights, but they don't seem to consider gay rights to be "human rights"! "The interjection and inference of homosexuality and the rights for gay marriage was a gross exaggeration and literary leap for truth that is incomprehensible, immoral, and reflects all that is wrong with the witness of the Church to the world we seek to win for Christ! This is truly lamentable. The Church of God in Christ consistently, utterly rejects and uncompromisingly denounces the practice of homosexuality. Our biblical interpretation of the sanctity of marriage as a sacred relationship between a man and a woman uncompromisingly views homosexual relationships as a contradiction and violation of the biblical teaching on marriage and are strongly condemned in the scriptures. ” (Romans 1: 26‐27; Leviticus 18:22; 1 Co 6:9‐10, 1 Kings 14:22‐24 Ephesians 5: 25, 32‐33). Furthermore, this statement is in accordance with the policy on Same Sex Marriage adopted by the General Assembly of the Church of God in Christ (read www. cogic.org)"
Maybe COGIC should learn something about Human Rights from real spiritual human rights leaders like Archbishop Desmund Tutu who include gays and lesbians in the "human" family who are entitled to "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness."
Maybe if every gay COGIC member would just come out of the closet, or leave the cult, the church would be forced to shut down or join the 21st Century.
The percentage of people who identify as "Christian" has dropped 11 % in the past decade, while the percentage who claim "NO RELIGION' has increased to 15% of the pop, that's larger than any religious group except Catholics and Baptists! These dramatic shifts in just 18 years are detailed in the new American Religious Identification Survey (ARIS), to be released today. It finds that, despite growth and immigration that has added nearly 50 million adults to the U.S. population, almost all religious denominations have lost ground since the first ARIS survey in 1990.
So why aren't politicians more concerned about the non-religious than pandering after the religious fanatics??
Capitalism is facing its greatest crisis since the Great Depression: a housing crisis, a credit crisis, skyrocketing unemployment etc. As in every such crisis, liberals have to step in and try to salvage the mess created by the speculators and the greedy corporate rich who blindly followed their religious faith in the "free market." Just like FDR in the New Deal, Barack Obama is being labelled a "socialist" by conservative opponents of economic democracy. Will this time be any different?
Because so much government intervention is necessary to "stimulate" the capitalist system, there is a lot of talk of "socialism" in the mainstream media, usually from anti-socialists who want to scare the public away from the programs of Barack Obama and the Democratic Party. Glenn Beck and Fox News has even had the current directors of the Democratic Socialists of America and the Communist Party on to be a punching bag. Newsweek proclaimed on a recent cover story, We Are All Socialists Now!
The problem is that the mainstream media has accepted the right-wing anti-socialist definition of "socialism" to mean "bigger government," so anything connected with government, especially "wasteful" spending, is labelled "socialist." But would Karl Marx have advocated that "we the people" (the government) bail out the corporate rich? No, socialists were opposed to the bailout of banks, though many support most of the trillion dollar "stimulus" that will go mostly to the working class. The real difference between "capitalism" and "socialism" is that capitalism favors distribution of wealth from the bottom to the top, and socialists fight to redistribute wealth from the rich to the working class and poor. That is a big difference.
While right-wing critics like to link socialists to Joseph Stalin (the discredited Communit dictator who actually killed his communist and socialist critics!), the better examples of democratic socialism would be Martin Luther King, who brilliantly articulated the democratic socialist view that the U.S. was spending too much on the military (especially Vietnam) and not enough to help the poor. Before his murder, MLK was prepared to launch a "class war" against the corporate rich and American capitalism.
The basic premise and fundamental value of socialism is actually found in the teachings of Jesus Christ and the early Christians. "From each according to his ability, to each according to his need," was not only a Marxist idea, it was a gospel preached by Jesus Christ and his early followers.
Some socialists are speaking out, including in the new issue of The Nation:
Whatever is happening right now, there is no doubt that captitalism is going to end up on the ash heap of history along with Stalin's bastardization of Communism. What will take its place is the subject of a class struggle going on as we speak between those who defend the accumulation of wealth and power in the hands of a corporate elite, and those on the left who are fighting to extend democracy from mainstreet to Wall Street. Socialism is still a struggle to pry the hands of a powerful economic elite from the control of society and put the majority of working class people in control.
The question is, can the Democratic Party be the instrument for this democratic revolution, or is it time for the workers of America to unite and form their own political party?
And this wing nut wants to be Governor of TN! (Well he wouldn't be much worse than the "Democratic" Gov. of TN)
(Today President Obama held a healthcare summit, supposedly to hear "all sides" in the healthcare debate, but only invited 2 single payer proponents, at the last minute, after Physicians for a National Healthcare Plan and Progressive Democrats of America launched a campaign protesting not inviting single payer advocates to the summit.)
This is BAD news folks! The Obama administration has taken the best, most popular universal health insurance plan (single-payer) OFF the table! Gov. Kathleen Sebelius, Obama’s nomineee for HHS Sec., has strong ties to the “healthcare” industry, including the insurance companies. They do not want the single-payer ("Medicare for All") alternative to even be considered! It looks like Obama (along with Sen. Edward Kennedy) is going to push the FAILED Massachusetts plan.
On Monday, buoyed by a stronger Democratic majority in Congress, Rep. Ellen O. Tauscher (D-Calif.) will introduce legislation to overturn the ban against homosexuals serving openly in the military, a Tauscher aide said.
The Right-Wing is rewriting history again! FDR & the New Deal CUT unemployment (by 9 % 1933-1940)) and increased GDP. The recovery slowed only after FDR gave in to his critics and tried to cut government spending. The increased government spending for WW II got things going again. It took MORE government investment ("stimulus") to get of the Depression NOT LESS!