The "hate crimes" bill (Matthew Shepard Local Law Enforcement Act) passed the U.S. House of Rep. today by a vote of 247-175, despite a campaign of lies by anti-gay religious groups.
The leader of the Republican opposition to the bill, Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-N.C.) referred to the naming of the bill after Matthew Shepard as "a hoax":
"If you didn't vote for this bill -- against this bill and against this rule for anything else, you could vote against it because we are spending additional money. i also would like to point out that there was a bill -- the hate crimes bill that's called the matthew sheppard bill is named afte a very unfortunate incident that happened where a young man was killed, but we know that that young man was killed in the commitment of a robbery. it wasn't because he was gay. this -- the bill was named for him, hate crimes bill was named for him, but it's really a hoax that that continues to be used as an excuse for passing these bills."
The New Hampshire Senate approved a bill on Wednesday that would legalize same-sex marriage. The 13-11 vote mirrors the House's similarly close vote of 186-179 in March.
Because the senate voted on a bill that has been amended since the house voted on it, HB 436 will return back to the house for a third reading. The senate version removed gender-specific language. Gov. John Lynch has expressed his preference for the same-sex civil unions already legal in New Hampshire.
A poll released earlier this week shows that 55% of New Hampshire voters support marriage for same-sex couples, while 39% are opposed.
Hopefully, New Hampshire will soon join Massachusetts, Connecticut , Vermont & Iowa in granting marriage equality to gay & lesbian couples.
While his defection is good news for the Democratic Party, it is not clear he will help pass Obama's progressive agenda on health care and other issues. He will probably side with "Blue Dog" DemoCons.
His defection is a reminder that the Republican Party continues to contract, especially outside the South, and that it appears increasingly less welcome to politicians and voters who do not consider themselves solidly conservative. Northeast Republicans have gone from an endangered species to a nearly extinct species. Republicans lost ground in the Rocky Mountains and the Midwest in the last two elections. That's no way to build a national party.
The latest Washington Post-ABC News poll shows the depth of the party's problems. Just 21 percent of those surveyed identified themselves as Republicans. That's the lowest since the fall of 1983, when just 19 percent identified themselves as Republicans. Party identification does fluctuate with events. But as a snapshot indicator, the latest figures highlight the impact of Obama's opening months on the Republican Party. From a high-water mark of 35 percent in the fall of 2003, Republicans have slid steadily to their present state of affairs.
It's hard to see how the Republican Party will become a majority party by denying science, global warming, siding with religious fanatics, supporting and defending torture, and promoting hatred of Barack Obama.
While Barack Obama's approval ratings remain high, anger is growing in the radical base of the Republican Party against Obama and the mainstream GOP "elites" who want to move the party away from the right-wing fringe. Gay marriage, in particular, seems to be one of their main issues, as more and more New England states, including many Republican leaders, embrace marriage equality.
The Reagan coalition, of socially liberal Northeast Republican capitalists with southern working class whites (including religious fundamentalists and racists) is falling apart. That's good news, unless the Republican Party follows their right-wing fringe base and ignores mainstream Americans, which seems to be the case right now.
The Republican Party will die if it continues to follow the direction of the religious fanatics, anti-gay bigots, racists, and global-warming denying idiots it calls its base.
Obama Touts Plan to Change Student Loan System Obama proposes a good first step in the failed student loan system--get the banks out it! Like credit card debt, banks have been saddling students with debts many cannot and will no repay. Unlike most European countries, where public college tuition is free (publicly funded), American students now primarily rely on student loans to cover the rising costs of college tuition and other expenses (food, housing, etc.) It's another financial crisis about to explode.
Obama wants to eliminate government subsidies to private banks, which profit from student loans while the government "guarantees" the loans (profit without financial risks for banks), and make all student loans directly from the Dept. of Education.
This is a good first step, but doesn't go far enough. Public education should not stop with high school, it should continue through college. There should be NO student loans, and no student loan debts. All current student loan debts should be forgiven.
This is also another way to "stimulate" the economy. Instead of struggling to pay down loans, college graduates could be buying homes, cars, etc., i.e., stimulating demand and economic growth.
Of course, the right-wing conservatives are already crying "socialism" just for Obama's meager proposal.
Education, like healthcare, should be a RIGHT, not a privilege for the wealthy, or a commodity for banks to profit off the backs of struggling students.
If the U.S. government can "bail out" rich Wall Street bankers and financiers, why can't it bail out students??
Opponents of last week's release of memos detailing CIA interrogation techniques argue that they will provide enemies of the United States with a training manual to prepare their operatives for capture. The irony is that the U.S. military appears to have done the exact opposite, taking a training program that had been designed to prepare American soldiers to withstand torture by communist regimes seeking to extract false confessions, and twisting it into a highly controversial interrogation manual.
The story of that mutation emerges in disquieting detail in a new report by the Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC) on the treatment of detainees in U.S. custody. It shows how U.S. interrogators at Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo Bay and camps in Afghanistan based some of their interrogations on techniques taken from the military's Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape (SERE) training program. These techniques included water-boarding, walling (slamming detainees into a flexible wall), sleep deprivation, hooding and using dogs to inspire fear...
The final irony: The torture techniques around which the SERE training was devised were used by Chinese interrogators during the Korean War, not to gather actionable intelligence but to force false confessions from captured U.S. soldiers — confessions that could then be used in anti-American propaganda.
I haven't been able to blog much the past few days because I'm working 10-11 hour days! My company has "acquired" several other companies and with the consolidation some workers were laid off--leaving fewer workers to do more work.
Question: Is this a good thing or a bad thing? It is good that I still have a job and am not unemployed like millions of people. But what about the "eight hour" work day workers fought and died for a century ago? What about leisure and family time?
Over the past few decades, worker productivity has INCREASED, along with corporate profits, while wages have remained steady or declined.
In the current recession, companies are laying off workers, but trying to increase the "productivity" of the workers left.
So should we just be lucky we have a job? What can workers, especially those who do not have a union to represent them do?
Religious Fanatics and Bigots are destroying the Republican Party, but only a few in the GOP seem to care. So far, the only Republicans who willing to take on the Republican Reich are John McCain's daughter, Meghan McCain, and McCain's former campaign manager, Steve Schmidt.
Meghan McCain may be the only Republican I can say anything nice about! She has taken on the right-wing fascists, like Ann Coulter, and has come out strongly in support of gay rights, including marriage equality (but why is she still a Republican??)
Tennessee schools block LGBT info sites, not 'ex-gay' sites As many as 107 Tennessee public school districts could be illegally preventing students from accessing online information about lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender issues, according to a letter to sent to school officials by the American Civil Liberties Union.
The letter demands that Knox County Schools, Metro Nashville Public Schools, and the Tennessee Schools Cooperative unblock the Internet filtering category designated “LGBT” so that students can access political and educational information about LGBT issues on school computers.
In its letter, the ACLU gives the districts and the Tennessee Schools Cooperative until April 29 to come up with a plan to restore access to the LGBT sites or any other category that blocks non-sexual websites advocating the fair treatment of LGBT people by the beginning of the 2009-2010 school year.
If that deadline is not met, the ACLU will file a lawsuit, the letter warned. The Internet filtering software used by Knox County and Metro Nashville school districts blocks student access to the websites of many well-known national LGBT organizations, including: Parents, Families, and Friends of Lesbians and Gays; The Gay Lesbian Straight Education Network; the Human Rights Campaign; The Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation; Dignity USA; Marriage Equality USA; and the Religious Coalition for the Freedom to Marry.
In its demand letter, the ACLU notes that websites that urge LGBT persons to change their sexual orientation or gender identity through so-called “reparative therapy” or “ex-gay” ministries – a practice denounced as dangerous and harmful to young people by such groups as the American Psychological Association, the American Psychiatric Association, the American Medical Association, and the American Academy of Pediatrics – can still be easily accessed by students. No federal or state law requires school districts to block access to LGBT sites. Tennessee law only requires schools to implement filtering software to restrict information that is obscene or harmful to minors.
About 80 percent of Tennessee public schools, including those in the Knox County and Metro Nashville districts, use filtering software provided by Education Networks of America, and the software’s default setting blocks sites ENA categorizes as LGBT the ACLU said.
The ACLU said it believes that most of the 107 Tennessee school districts that use ENA’s filtering software keep the LGBT category blocked. ENA blocks access to a wide category of “LGBT” sites described on the organization’s website as ” Sites that provide information regarding, support, promote, or cater to one’s sexual orientation or gender identity including but not limited to lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, and transgender sites.
The wing nuts apparently know nothing about history. The Boston Tea Party was a protest against a big TAX CUT for the East India Tea Company, a big corporation which was killing colonial small businesses. Glenn Beck and other right-wing clowns are invoking Thomas Paine in their call for people to rise up against redistribution of wealth and government spending, ignorant of the fact that Thomas Paine was a RADICAL LEFTIST, who SUPPORTED redistributing wealth, and advocated taxing the rich to provide universal health care and education, and even called for the creation of a "social security" system! Someone should send Glenn Beck a copy of Harvey J. Kaye's masterpiece THOMAS PAINE AND THE PROMISE OF AMERICA so he can learn something about the history of one of America's great PROGRESSIVE/LIBERALS!
The anti-gay bigots (National Organization for Marriage) (sic), have responded to the recent victories for marriage equality in Vermont and Iowa with an ad full of scare tactics and lies, and they use actors, not real people, to LIE about gays and lesbians and our right to marry!
Here's the awful ad:
The Human Rights Campaign publicized the auditions of FAKE actors who were paid to make the ads! (The NOM has removed the audition videos from YouTube.)
The basic argument of the Ad and the "National Organization for Marriage" (sic) is that if gays and lesbians are allowed to marry, the rights of those who oppose gay marriage will be taken away. There will be no freedom of religion, etc.. (Of course, the same arguments were made about inter-racial marriage by the racist bigots!)
The Human Rights campaign has set up a website to country the LIES of the National Organization for Marriage: End The Lies! Here's HRC President Joe Salmonese debating NOM Anti-Gay Bigot Maggie Gallagher
First it hit the bitter Hillary "PUMAS," now it has hit the right-wing nuts--Baracknophobia! Did you know that Barack Obama is going to confiscate all guns, declare martial law, and is using FEMA to set up endoctrination camps? Some say he is the "anti-Christ" who is going to be the dictator of a New World Order!
It was a good week for marriage equality, first the Iowa Supreme Court stuck down a ban on same-sex marriage there, and now: Vermont Legalizes Same-Sex Marriage The Vermont House voted 100-49 on Tuesday to override Gov. Jim Douglas's veto of marriage-equality legislation. After an earlier morning vote by the senate, 23-5, to override the veto, the house vote makes Vermont the first state to recognize marriage equality through the legislative process without first being ordered to do so by the court. Four states now have equal marriage rights for gay/lesbian couples: Massachusetts, Connecticut, Iowa and Vermont.
I think I want to move to Vermont now, a Socialist Senator (Bernie Sanders) and now the right to marry my partner!
Pittsburgh Gunman Kills 3 Police Officers A gunman wearing a bulletproof vest and "lying in wait" opened fire on officers responding to a domestic disturbance call Saturday, killing three of them and turning a quiet Pittsburgh street into a battlefield, police said.
Police Chief Nate Harper said the motive for the shooting isn't clear, but friends said the gunman recently had been upset about losing his job and feared the Obama administration was poised to ban guns. Richard Poplawski: A White Supremacist Radical
The Iowa Supreme Court says the state's same-sex marriage ban violates the constitutional rights of gay and lesbian couples, making it the third state where gay marriage is legal.
In a unanimous ruling issued Friday, the court upheld a 2007 Polk County District Court judge's ruling that the law was unconstitutional.
The case stems from a 2005 lawsuit filed by Lambda Legal, a New York-based gay rights organization. The group filed a lawsuit on behalf of six gay and lesbian Iowa couples who were denied marriage licenses.
Sea levels are rising much faster than expected—perhaps by three feet or more by 2100, according to climate scientists at the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) annual meeting in Chicago in February.
Scientists there also announced that global warming is increasing at a greater rate than the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) predicted in its 2007 Fourth Assessment report.
Sweden Legalizes Same-Sex Marriage Same-sex couples in Sweden will be allowed to marry as of May 1st. Following a parliamentary vote Wednesday afternoon, MPs voted by a huge majority to allow gay and lesbian couples to marry in civil ceremonies.
I think I want to move to Sweden now... what language do they speak?
Tens of thousands of anarchists took to the streets of London today to protest the G-20 meeting of the world's capitalist leaders. Signs read "Hang the Bankers," "Capitalism Isn't Working," and "Abolish Money." Sounds good to me...
Demonstrators hoisted effigies of the "four horsemen of the apocalypse," representing war, climate chaos, financial crimes and homelessness.
I don't know much about anarchism, or how it differs from socialism, but I'm going to look into it. Since no political party has emerged with a plan or strategy to replace capitalism, maybe anarchism is the answer to the growing crisis of capitalism.