Nel's New Day

July 17, 2018

President Obama: The ‘Politics of Fear and Resentment’

Filed under: Progressives — trp2011 @ 9:52 PM
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Former President Barack Obama spoke in Johannesburg, South Africa, yesterday to honor the late Nelson Mandela on his 100th birthday. President Obama began with the youth of Madiba (Nelson Mandela) and the changes during his lifetime from colonial rule and the rampant racism among groups with little chance of advancing because gender and ethnic background determined a person’s future. Following are excerpts from his speech. You can read the transcript or watch it.

“More and more peoples, having witnessed the horrors of totalitarianism, the repeated mass slaughters of the 20th century, began to embrace a new vision for humanity, a new idea, one based not only on the principle of national self-determination, but also on the principles of democracy and rule of law and civil rights and the inherent dignity of every single individual. In those nations with market-based economies, suddenly union movements developed; and health and safety and commercial regulations were instituted; and access to public education was expanded; and social welfare systems emerged, all with the aim of constraining the excesses of capitalism and enhancing its ability to provide opportunity not just to some but to all people. And the result was unmatched economic growth and a growth of the middle class.

“And in my own country, the moral force of the civil rights movement not only overthrew Jim Crow laws but it opened up the floodgates for women and historically marginalized groups to reimagine themselves, to find their own voices, to make their own claims to full citizenship…. And during the last decades of the 20th century, the progressive, democratic vision that Nelson Mandela represented in many ways set the terms of international political debate. And from Europe to Africa, Latin America, Southeast Asia, dictatorships began to give way to democracies…. And with these geopolitical changes came sweeping economic changes. The introduction of market-based principles, in which previously closed economies along with the forces of global integration powered by new technologies, suddenly unleashed entrepreneurial talents to those that once had been relegated to the periphery of the world economy, who hadn’t counted….

“The international order has fallen short of its promise. In fact, it is in part because of the failures of governments and powerful elites to squarely address the shortcomings and contradictions of this international order that we now see much of the world threatening to return to an older, a more dangerous, a more brutal way of doing business. …The previous structures of privilege and power and injustice and exploitation never completely went away…. Racial discrimination still exists in both the United States and South Africa…. The accumulated disadvantages of years of institutionalized oppression have created yawning disparities in income, and in wealth, and in education, and in health, in personal safety, in access to credit….

“And while globalization and technology have opened up new opportunities, have driven remarkable economic growth in previously struggling parts of the world, globalization has also upended the agricultural and manufacturing sectors in many countries. It’s also greatly reduced the demand for certain workers, has helped weaken unions and labor’s bargaining power. It’s made it easier for capital to avoid tax laws and the regulations of nation-states — can just move billions, trillions of dollars with a tap of a computer key.

“And the result of all these trends has been an explosion in economic inequality. It’s meant that a few dozen individuals control the same amount of wealth as the poorest half of humanity. …the only difference is it created even greater opportunities for corruption on an epic scale. And for once solidly middle-class families in advanced economies like the United States, these trends have meant greater economic insecurity, especially for those who don’t have specialized skills, people who were in manufacturing, people working in factories, people working on farms.

“In every country just about, the disproportionate economic clout of those at the top has provided these individuals with wildly disproportionate influence on their countries’ political life and on its media; on what policies are pursued and whose interests end up being ignored. …Many titans of industry and finance are increasingly detached from any single locale or nation-state, and they live lives more and more insulated from the struggles of ordinary people in their countries of origin…. From their board rooms or retreats, global decision-makers don’t get a chance to see sometimes the pain in the faces of laid-off workers. Their kids don’t suffer when cuts in public education and health care result as a consequence of a reduced tax base because of tax avoidance.

“Within the United States, within the European Union, challenges to globalization first came from the left but then came more forcefully from the right, as you started seeing populist movements — which, by the way, are often cynically funded by right-wing billionaires intent on reducing government constraints on their business interests — these movements tapped the unease that was felt by many people who lived outside of the urban cores; fears that economic security was slipping away, that their social status and privileges were eroding, that their cultural identities were being threatened by outsiders, somebody that didn’t look like them or sound like them or pray as they did….

“Perhaps more than anything else, the devastating impact of the 2008 financial crisis, in which the reckless behavior of financial elites resulted in years of hardship for ordinary people all around the world, made all the previous assurances of experts ring hollow — all those assurances that somehow financial regulators knew what they were doing, that somebody was minding the store, that global economic integration was an unadulterated good….

“A politics of fear and resentment and retrenchment began to appear, and that kind of politics is now on the move…. Strongman politics are ascendant suddenly, whereby elections and some pretense of democracy are maintained — the form of it — but those in power seek to undermine every institution or norm that gives democracy meaning. In the West, you’ve got far-right parties that oftentimes are based not just on platforms of protectionism and closed borders, but also on barely hidden racial nationalism…. Who needs free speech as long as the economy is going good? The free press is under attack. Censorship and state control of media is on the rise. Social media — once seen as a mechanism to promote knowledge and understanding and solidarity — has proved to be just as effective promoting hatred and paranoia and propaganda and conspiracy theories….

“Authoritarian governments have been shown time and time again to breed corruption, because they’re not accountable…. Countries which rely on rabid nationalism and xenophobia and doctrines of tribal, racial or religious superiority as their main organizing principle, the thing that holds people together — eventually those countries find themselves consumed by civil war or external war.

“History also shows the power of fear. History shows the lasting hold of greed and the desire to dominate others in the minds of men…. History shows how easily people can be convinced to turn on those who look different, or worship God in a different way…. And history shows that societies which tolerate vast differences in wealth feed resentments and reduce solidarity and actually grow more slowly….

“Democracy depends on strong institutions and it’s about minority rights and checks and balances, and freedom of speech and freedom of expression and a free press, and the right to protest and petition the government, and an independent judiciary, and everybody having to follow the law…. The efficiency that’s offered by an autocrat … leads invariably to more consolidation of wealth at the top and power at the top, and it makes it easier to conceal corruption and abuse. For all its imperfections, real democracy best upholds the idea that government exists to serve the individual and not the other way around.

“[For democracy] to work, we have to actually believe in an objective reality…. You have to believe in facts.… I can’t find common ground if somebody says climate change is just not happening, when almost all of the world’s scientists tell us it is…. Unfortunately, too much of politics today seems to reject the very concept of objective truth. People just make stuff up…. We see it in state-sponsored propaganda; …we see the utter loss of shame among political leaders where they’re caught in a lie and they just double down and they lie some more…. We see it in the promotion of anti-intellectualism and the rejection of science from leaders who find critical thinking and data somehow politically inconvenient. And, as with the denial of rights, the denial of facts runs counter to democracy, it could be its undoing….

“It is tempting to give in to cynicism: to believe that recent shifts in global politics are too powerful to push back; that the pendulum has swung permanently…. Things may go backwards for a while, but ultimately, right makes might, not the other way around…. So, young people, who are in the audience, who are listening, my message to you is simple, keep believing, keep marching, keep building, keep raising your voice.”

[Note: President Obama did not mention the man inaugurated as president of the United States in 2017.]

December 23, 2017

The Christian War on Christmas

For centuries, fundamentalist Christians avoided any involvement in politics. During Ronald Reagan’s campaign, however, Republicans decided to use evangelicals to get their candidate elected, and these Christians have increasingly left their biblical religion to move to a political religion. Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) has raised this avoidance of traditional Christian values to a high. This year, he and other Republicans spread the lies about the use of “Merry Christmas,” telling people that it had been banned and that President Obama never used the term. Videos prove them wrong, but facts don’t dissuade fundamentalist Christian beliefs, especially because the Fox seasonal message began with the term “War on Christmas.”

The politicization of Christmas, as shown by this billboard, is in keeping with the rest of the Republicans. More confirmation of the GOP lie comes from the political group America First Policies that is spending $1 million for a pro-DDT A pro-Trump nonprofit says it is spending $1 million to air a new pro-Trump ad concluding with a little girl saying, “Thank you President Trump for letting us say ‘Merry Christmas’ again!” The ad also thank DDT for “reminding us to stand for our national anthem.”

DDT goes beyond politics to capitalism with his baseball cap, embroidered with colored lights on “Make America Great Again” and “Merry Christmas” on the back. Selling for $45, the cap is all sold out, but you can still get one from eBay for $150.

Six years ago, DDT tweeted the lie, “What a convenient mistake: @BarackObama issued a statement for Kwanza [sic] but failed to issue one for Christmas.” Tweeting about Kwanzaa did not preclude President Obama from also sending his last Merry Christmas message with the image below.

 

 

“The best part of the holidays is the time we share with those we love. On behalf of Michelle, Malia, and Sasha, Merry Christmas everyone.”

Chris Hayes has put together a number of video clips showing President Obama saying “Merry Christmas.” (Check out the last minute for this montage.) Meanwhile, tweets from Ivanka Trump and her brother Eric trumpet “Happy Holidays!” (And yes, Ivanka Trump is Jewish.)  Despite DDT’s concentration on the word “Christmas,” the invitations for the White House parties called the event a “Holiday Reception.”

Christmas celebrations for DDT’s first term were similar in style to those of past years but less in substance. DDT’s events were also less attended as shown by this visual from the lighting of the National Christmas Tree. It’s like the difference between inaugurations for President Obama and DDT. As you might guess, DDT’s ceremony is on the left.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The White House decorations for DDT were sometimes a bit bizarre. The library had a “booktree” although DDT doesn’t read books. The books were purchased with a focus on the color green instead of the books’ contents, indicated by such titles as World of Golf, Tainted Evidence, and Ronin: A Marine Scout-Sniper Platoon in Iraq.” Another that may be a precursor to DDT’s term is American Mourning, how public mourning shapes politics and our future outcomes. Last year’s library decorations used the theme “Let Girls Learn” for the First Lady’s education program.

This year Melania Trump chose the theme “Time-Honored Tradition. The spooky trees in the White House East Colonnade (below left) produced a variety of humorous tweets complete with photoshopping. Tim Teeman wrote:

“Melania Trump, with what looks like the help of Tim Burton, has designed an anti-Christmas wonderland of white branches set stark against the wall and casting creepy shadows on the ceiling…. The only thing missing is a dragon breathing fire, intent on stopping you getting your hands on a magic amulet.”

In contrast is the East Colonnade decorated at Christmas in the time of President Obama.

DDT dropped his obsession with Christmas by spending his first day of that vacation at Mar-a-Lago talking about problems in North Korea and the Middle East as well as lambasting FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, who he had appointed as acting FBI director after he fired James Comey. That was after he skipped over the majority of his supporters to give a massive Christmas gift to the wealthy through the tax bill that he signed yesterday.

Although fundamentalist Christians perceive DDT’s occasional fixation with saying “Merry Christmas” as a form of religious liberty, all other religions are downplayed or eliminated from notice. People who have watched politics the past year might see that there is no “War on Christmas,” but there is a war on Jews—as shown by the white supremacists marching against them—and a war on Muslims, made clear by DDT’s travel bans. People are really demanding Christian beliefs.

To feel the Christmas cheer, remember how Barack and Michelle Obama celebrate it with children. Below is President Obama a week ago taking a bag of gifts to 50 children  of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Washington.

Happy Holidays!

September 14, 2017

Edie Windsor: An Icon for the Ages

A great woman died this week. Thanks to Edie Windsor, my partner and I, along with hundreds of thousands of other same-gender couples, are able to have the same benefits of legal marriage that heterosexual couples have always had. Edie is even more special to me because I had the opportunity to talk with her on a cruise to Alaska before she became internationally famous. Every time I saw her on television or spotted her in a photograph, I remembered her energy, warmth, and kindness.

As Richard Socarides wrote, Edie is the Rosa Parks of the LGBT movement of the 21st century. Her legal claim to have the same rights as any other married couple personified courage as she openly declared her long-time relationship with another woman. United States v. Windsor wasn’t even specifically about marriage; it was about the rights that marriage confirms in state and federal law regarding taxes. Yet the Supreme Court case ruling that the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), barring federal recognition of legally valid same-gender marriages, was unconstitutional ended in the landmark decision granting marriage equality to all same-gender couples.

Married in her early twenties, Edie divorced her husband, Saul Windsor, in less than a year after she told him that she wanted to be with a woman. In 2013, Windsor told NPR:

“I told him the truth. I said, ‘Honey, you deserve a lot more. You deserve somebody who thinks you’re the best because you are. And I need something else.’”

She took a job with IBM in 1958 after she earned a master’s in applied mathematics from New York University and became a computer programmer ad executive. Like almost all LGBT people at that time, she stayed in the closet. Earlier this year, she told Metro Weekly:

“I worked for IBM for 16 years. I lied for 16 years to people I loved. We ate lunch together, we had drinks together, we spent weekends together. Today, you don’t have to do that at IBM. You don’t do that anywhere, almost. It’s unlikely that LGBT people in the United States would have to do such a thing again.”

Edie met her love, clinical psychologist Thea Spyer (left), at the Portofino restaurant in New York’s Greenwich Village. A few years later, Thea gave Edie a diamond brooch instead of a ring for their engagement to keep their relationship secret. They loved to dance, and Edie kept dancing with Thea even after multiple sclerosis put Thea in a wheelchair (to right of Edie, above). Their remarkable relationship, which included Edie as Thea’s caregiver, is beautifully documented in the film, Edie & Thea: A Very Long Engagement. The title refers to the 44-year “engagement” before they could legally marry in 2007 after an arduous trip to Canada when Thea was a quadriplegic. Susan Muska and Greta Olafsdottir used almost five decades of slides for this poignant yet joyful view of this love story. [More views of Edie at her website.]

After Thea’s death two years later, Edie’s inheritance was taxed at $363,053 because DOMA prevented same-gender couples from the advantages of marital tax deductions for all heterosexual couples. She argued that existing law subjects people in same-sex marriages “to differential treatment compared to other similarly situated couples without justification in violation of the right of equal protection secured by the Fifth Amendment.” The taxes resulted from the decades-long appreciation on real estate that they had long owned. Edie found the taxes an affront to her marriage to Thea, and she sued to regain them.

WASHINGTON, DC – MARCH 27: Edith Windsor, 83, acknowledges her supporters as she leaves the Supreme Court March 27, 2013 in Washington, DC. The Supreme Court heard oral arguments in the case ‘Edith Schlain Windsor, in Her Capacity as Executor of the Estate of Thea Clara Spyer, Petitioner v. United States,’ which challenges the constitutionality of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), the second case about same-sex marriage this week. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Finding a lawyer was difficult because of her age and fragile health—and the fact that her sexual orientation made her appear to some lawyers as less than a compelling plaintiff. Roberta Kaplan, partner with the firm Paul, Weiss, was joined by the ACLU, and Edie’s case went before the Supreme Court on March 27, 2013 when Edie was 83. Her openness and victory were signals to all of us in the LGBT community that we might also be out to the public. Edie stayed an LGBT rights activist after the court ruling, and met her second wife, Judith Kasen (right), at a benefit. They were married a year ago.

Even a Supreme Court case two years after Edie’s victory ruling for marriage equality has not  created equal rights for LGBTQ people across the nation. The judiciary continued to struggle with questions about marital rights, adoption, and other family law in states that kept opposing same-gender marriage. The future for these rights is dimming: Dictator Donald Trump (DDT), the officials in his administration, and many other Republican leaders are virulently anti-LGBT. The Supreme Court will argue a case next month about whether businesses need to serve LGBT people, specifically if a baker has the right to not bake cakes for LGBT couples. DDT’s attorney general, Jeff Sessions, is supporting the baker and also arguing that the Civil Rights Act does not protect LGBT people from employment discrimination. Kaplan is fighting DOJ in these cases from her new firm, Kaplan & Company. DDT has attempted to ban transgender service members in the military.

I would like to think that my marriage is like squeezing all the toothpaste out of the tube: it’s impossible to put it back in. And I would like to think that I can’t be refused service in a restaurant because a so-called “law” allows people to deny service to anyone they personally reject. Nowhere in history have rights been taken away from people once granted. People can skirt school desegregation, mandated by Brown v. Board of Education, but the ruling is still the law of the land. In a fit of pique, Justice Antonin Scalia wrote in his dissent to United States v. Windsor:

“By formally declaring anyone opposed to same-sex marriage an enemy of human decency, the majority arms well every challenger to a state law restricting marriage to its traditional definition. Henceforth those challengers will lead with this Court’s declaration that there is ‘no legitimate purpose’ served by such a law, and will claim that the traditional definition [of marriage] has ‘the purpose and effect to disparage and to injure’ the ‘personhood and dignity’ of same-sex couples.”

A public memorial will be held Friday, September. 15 at 12:30 pm at Riverside Memorial Chapel in New York City. In lieu of flowers, Windsor had requested that any donations in her memory be made to the NYC LGBT Center, Callen-Lorde Community Health Center, the Hetrick-Martin Institute, and Services & Advocacy for LGBT Elders, or SAGE.

President Obama made this touching statement after Edie’s death:

“America’s long journey towards equality has been guided by countless small acts of persistence, and fueled by the stubborn willingness of quiet heroes to speak out for what’s right. Few were as small in stature as Edie Windsor – and few made as big a difference to America.

“I had the privilege to speak with Edie a few days ago, and to tell her one more time what a difference she made to this country we love. She was engaged to her partner, Thea, for forty years. After a wedding in Canada, they were married for less than two. But federal law didn’t recognize a marriage like theirs as valid – which meant that they were denied certain federal rights and benefits that other married couples enjoyed. And when Thea passed away, Edie spoke up – not for special treatment, but for equal treatment – so that other legally married same-sex couples could enjoy the same federal rights and benefits as anyone else.

“In my second inaugural address, I said that if we are truly created equal, then surely the love we commit to one another must be equal as well. And because people like Edie stood up, my administration stopped defending the so-called Defense of Marriage Act in the courts. The day that the Supreme Court issued its 2013 ruling in United States v. Windsor was a great day for Edie, and a great day for America – a victory for human decency, equality, freedom, and justice. And I called Edie that day to congratulate her.

“Two years later, to the day, we took another step forward on our journey as the Supreme Court recognized a Constitutional guarantee of marriage equality. It was a victory for families, and for the principle that all of us should be treated equally, regardless of who we are or who we love.

“I thought about Edie that day. I thought about all the millions of quiet heroes across the decades whose countless small acts of courage slowly made an entire country realize that love is love – and who, in the process, made us all more free. They deserve our gratitude. And so does Edie.

“Michelle and I offer our condolences to her wife, Judith, and to all who loved and looked up to Edie Windsor.”

Thank you, President Obama. And thank you, Edie. And thank you, all the people who fight for equal rights.

December 25, 2015

More Good News for 2015

Barack ObamaFinishing the seventh year of his two terms, President Barack Obama read off his Top Ten list of happenings in 2015 during his weekly address last week:

 

 

 

  1. The economy. Over the past 12 months, our businesses have created 2.5 million new jobs. In all, they’ve added 13.7 million new jobs over a 69-month streak of job growth. And the unemployment rate has fallen to 5 percent–the lowest it’s been in almost eight years.
  1. More Americans are getting health coverage. The rate of the uninsured in America dropped below 10 percent for the first time ever. In all, 17.6 million people and climbing have gained coverage as the Affordable Care Act has taken effect. And don’t forget, you can still sign up through January 31st at HealthCare.gov.
  1. America’s global leadership on climate change. Last week, in Paris, nearly 200 countries came together to set the course for a low-carbon future. And it was only possible because America led with clean energy here at home and strong diplomacy around the world.
  1. Progress in the Americas. We turned the page on an outdated, half-century old policy by re-establishing diplomatic relations with Cuba and reopening embassies in both our countries, allowing us to build greater ties between Americans and Cubans.
  1. Preventing the spread of nuclear weapons. We succeeded in forging a strong deal to stop Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon. In fact, Iran has already dismantled thousands of centrifuges that enrich uranium.
  1. Standing strong against terrorism. Even as we continue to grieve over the attack in San Bernardino, we’re leading a global coalition and hitting ISIL harder than ever. In Syria and Iraq, ISIL is losing territory, and we’re not going to stop until we destroy this terrorist organization.
  1. A 21st century trade deal that makes sure our businesses can sell goods “Made in America” across the Asia-Pacific. The Trans-Pacific Partnership is the strongest, most pro-worker, pro-environment trade agreement in our history. And it means that America – not China, not anyone else – will write the rules of the global economy for the century ahead.
  1. A pair of Christmas miracles in Washington! This week, Congress passed a bipartisan budget that invests in middle-class priorities, keeps our military the strongest in the world, and takes the threat of shutdowns and manufactured crises off the table for 2016. Plus, I signed a bipartisan education bill into law to help our students graduate prepared for college and their future careers.
  1. Love won. No matter who you are, here in America, you’re free to marry the person you love, because the freedom to marry is now the law in all fifty states.

1.  And the number one reason I’m optimistic going into 2016: It’s you—the American people. All of this progress is because of you—because of workers rolling up their sleeves and getting the job done, and entrepreneurs starting new businesses. Because of teachers and health workers and parents—all of us taking care of each other. Because of our incredible men and women in uniform, serving to protect us all. Because, when we’re united as Americans, there’s nothing that we cannot do.”

In a year with all too many lows, there was a lot to be proud of and a lot of progress that was made. Love won, climate change was no longer ignored, and the economy just keeps getting better and better.

Charles Kenney described 2015 as “the best year in history for the average human being” despite the year’s tragedies and misery from poverty, disease, and malnutrition. He cites this progress toward better quality of life for the majority:

Violence in the United States. Recent FBI statistics show that the country has grown safer with fewer violent crimes and homicide rates. Beginning in 2011, Syria helped reverse longer-term progress toward fewer global battle deaths, and the Iran nuclear deal shows evidence that progress toward peaceful settlement of disputes is possible. The number of ongoing wars and battle deaths is far below those in the 1970s and 1980s and remain a minor cause of death worldwide. For example, rabies was responsible for three times as many deaths as terrorism in 2012.

Famine and pestilence. The proportion of the world’s population that is undernourished fell from 19 percent in 1990 to the current 11 percent.

Disease: Although about 11,315 people died from Ebola worldwide, the total of 29,000 cases from the outbreak are far fewer than the projected 1.4 million without the vaccine. A partially effective malaria vaccine also showed progress this year. Each year, 6.7 million fewer children under the age of five die each year compared to 1990 because of vaccines. According to news in August, not one case of polio was reported in Africa during the previous 12 months, leaving the disorder to exist only in Pakistan and Afghanistan. The past global killer, with 350,000 cases as recently as 1988, is close to eradication. Since 2000, worldwide cases of measles dropped by over two-thirds, keeping over 17 million people alive—again thanks to vaccination rates.

Civil and political rights: The number of electoral democracies—although not all fully “free”—is at an historic high at 125, up from 69 in 1989.  Peaceful and democratic transitions of power this year occurred in diverse places such as Burkina Faso, Tanzania, Myanmar, and Argentina. For the first time, women were permitted to vote and stand as candidates in Saudi Arabia’s local elections.

LGBT rights: The United States legalized marriage equality throughout the country last June, Mozambique decriminalized same-sex relationships in June, and Ireland legalized same-gender marriage. The number of global laws prohibiting sexual acts between consenting same-gender adults—92 in 2006—dropped to 75 this past year.

Wealth: The IMF forecast 4.0 percent growth for emerging and developing countries for 2015—slower than the 7-8 percent that they managed through much of the last 15 years but considerably ahead of population growth. For the first time, according to the World Bank, less than 10 percent of the global population lived in extreme poverty, on less than $1.90 per day, down from 37 percent as recently as 1990.

Globalization: Despite protests across Europe against refugees, German Chancellor Angela Merkel held to her country’s policy of enlightened self-interest toward migration flows. She tried to convince seven European countries to resettle as many as 400,000 refugees as part of her efforts to see the European Union admit at least 300,000 refugees from the conflict each year, and French President Francois Hollande reiterated a pledge to take in 30,000 refugees after the Paris attacks. World leaders agreed to “sustainable development goals” by 2030 to wipe out extreme poverty, reduce deaths of those under the age of five by millions each year, and guarantee all children go to school and learn while they are there.

Despite losses in reproductive rights in large parts of the United States, women made other gains:

The Supreme Court ruled that employers can’t discriminate against pregnant workers.

Women can now serve in all branches of the military.

California became the first state to put out guidelines for handling sexual assault on campus.

Jill HrubyThe appointment of Jill Hruby to head up Sandia National Laboratories makes her the first woman to head up one of three U.S. government labs that develops and maintains the U.S. nuclear arsenal.

The White House reinstated birth control access for working women with health insurance after the Supreme Court tried to remove it.

Oregon made getting birth control easier for women by letting pharmacies dispense contraceptives in a full-year supply.

The U.S. Treasury decided to put a woman on the $10 bill after being invisible for more than a century.

NepalNepal joined the countries that elected a woman for president, 54-year-old Bidya Devi Bhandari, bringing the total of the world’s 195 countries to 29 with female leaders.

The UK introduced a new rule to call attention to the gender pay gap, requiring companies to publish payment for men and women, including bonuses.

raffi freedman-gurspanThe first openly transgender woman of color ever takes her post at a job in the White House—Raffi Freedman-Gurspon–in the Presidential Personnel Office a few months ago is monumental.

August 10, 2014

Conservatives Claim Moral High Ground But Ignore Bible, Constitution

God—and the U.S. Supreme Court—gave people the right to discriminate, according to Sens. Mike Enzi (R-WY) and Mike Kelly (R-PA). That’s why they’re pushing a bill, “The Child Welfare Provider Inclusion Act of 2014,” allowing adoption and foster care centers to discriminate against same-sex couples. Nowhere does the language in the bill use references to LGBT people, and it is so vague that any organization can discriminate against anyone if its “sincerely held religious beliefs” are being infringed. The senators claim that the bill is meant to “ensure children can continue to get care from people of faith,” but the bill is intended to give special rights to religious organizations.

Cliven Bundy, the Nevada rancher who started a range war against the U.S. government, told a gathering last week that his vendetta was between good and evil. Providing him personal inspiration, God told Bundy, “This is your chance to straighten this thing up.” At least that’s what Bundy claims. He added that people rallied around him because they were “spiritually touched.” The “touched” might have been accurate. Bundy’s big concern at the gathering was that only about 100 people attended. He asked:

“Where is all of your college students? Where’s our young and where’s our old? Where’s our black and where’s our brown? Where are you people? Aren’t you interested in freedom and liberty?”

Although Mormon, Bundy is the perfect example of Tea Party believers. They claim that they want religion back into politics, but what they want is just their own religion represented throughout the country. Despite their claims that the movement is secular, it is religious, founded in spiritual revival and zealotry. Their devotional belief system mandates how people should live, how society should function, what is right and wrong, and who should—and shouldn’t—lead the country.

The basis of their system is a refusal to compromise. The Tea Partiers’ moral imperative is that they will shut down the government before bending on any legislation just as Samson pulled down the pillars of the temple. Their bellicose nature keeps them from reasonable disagreements about fiscal or foreign policies. Anyone who opposes their dogma in government, economics, race, and sex are infidels. Heretics are burned at the primaries.

The Antichrist of the Tea Party religion is the illegitimate Barack Obama must be opposed just like the lesser demons of Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi. Tea Partiers blame them for any problems in the past six years. Washington, D.C. is the seat of corruption in the same way that Rome was before Christ. The solution for Tea Partiers is to undermine the government while pretending to repair it. To do this, Tea Partiers put forward the vision of Paradise from the white, male, Christian country after the Civil War with plantocracy in the South and plutocracy in the North. States rights put blacks in their place, and robber barons fought off the sinful labor laws, unions, and income tax. The cry of “take back America” means a return to the Gilded Age when immigrants, minorities, and women knew their subservient place to the ruling whites.

Without reading the U.S. Constitution, the Tea Partiers have proclaimed this document as its holy text and themselves as solely responsible for its interpretation. If literal readings serve their purpose, they follow the words exactly, cherry-picking text as they do in the Bible. An example is the omission of “a well regulated Militia” in the NRA’s printing of the Second Amendment at its headquarters and the rulings concerning the militia until the past 30 years.

A return to states’ rights got a big boost from Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas when he stated that separation of church and state was never intended in the states. He claims that the only purpose of the Establishment Clause is to protect states from federal interference; it “does not protect any individual right.” His position goes back over 20 years to a SCOTUS case about whether states could have term limits on Congressional representatives. A 5-4 ruling determined that the state could not limit federal terms because the Constitution had no amendment allowing them to do this.

Thomas was on the losing side, and he wasn’t happy. “The ultimate source of the Constitution’s authority is the consent of the people of each individual state, not the consent of the undifferentiated people of the nation as a whole,” he wrote. If there was nothing in the constitution, then states had the power by default. That argument has failed for over 200 years, but Tea Partiers agree with Thomas. They cannot acknowledge that the constitution is an agreement among the citizens of the United States and not among 50 independent republics.

To increase acceptance of the U.S. Constitution among fundamentalist Christians, far-right political figures claim that the document comes from the Christian god. Former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-TX) explained the process: “Jesus destroyed Satan so that we could be free and that is manifested in what is called the Constitution of the United States. God created this nation and God created the Constitution; it is written on biblical principles.” DeLay gave Texas politics to the GOP by putting Republicans into the Texas House with corporate money so that gerrymandering could keep Democrats out of the legislature.

A big victory for Tea Partiers, at least temporarily, was the Supreme Court ruling in favor of the family that owns Hobby Lobby, and the family is not finished. After starting to push its Christian curriculum into public schools, the Greens plan a Bible museum two blocks south of the National Mall in Washington, D.C., the home of history, science, and art museums. Steve Green explained why:

“This nation is in danger because of its ignorance of what God has taught. There are lessons from the past that we can learn from, the dangers of ignorance of this book. We need to know it. If we don’t know it, our future is going to be very scary.”

The text of the Tea Partiers’ Bible is actually opposed to all of them who want small government. According to 2 Peter, 2:10-15, false prophets are those who “despise government.” These government-haters are “wells without water” and “clouds that are carried with a tempest”; they are those “to whom the mist of darkness is reserved forever.” Verse 17 provides disgusting descriptions that I won’t include. God’s judgment of these government-haters “lingereth not, and their damnation slumbereth not” (Verse 3).

To those who condemn LGBT people, the Bible states:

“You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge another, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things.” – Romans 2:1

About abortion, God commanded women accused of adultery to drink an abortion-producing potion. Under Jewish law, the fetus is the same as “water” during the first 40 days. Abortion is always commanded when the mother’s life is endangered at any time during the pregnancy. The God who handed down Jewish law is the God of Christianity.

The Bible supports charity, loving your enemies, putting down your weapons, not judging others, welcoming the foreigner at the gates, putting others before yourself, not lording yourself over others, and not despising the government.

June 30, 2013

Christians Respond to SCOTUS DOMA Ruling

Filed under: Uncategorized — trp2011 @ 2:29 PM
Tags: , , ,

The repeal of DOMA has filled the news during the past week, with Christians taking a big part in responding to the news that the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the Congressional law mandating marriage to be between one man and one woman.

An Arizona reader of the blog sent me the following communication from her church. She also said that St. Augustine’s Church “rang the church bells … and all the bells and gongs they could find.”

Dear People of God,

I rejoice, along with our LBGT brothers and sisters, over the Supreme Court decisions this morning. Our country has come one step closer to that freedom and justice are for all its citizens. Many LBGT people I know who are my age have commented that they would have never believed that equality under the law would happen for them “in our lifetime.” I can only begin to imagine the full extent of their joy today.

Our country has come closer to a truth which has been ours as Christians from the beginning, that God loves everything and everyone God has made, and that we are called to reflect God’s love for us in how we love each other. Our country is now one step closer to making that possible for everyone. Today Love won.

Faithfully,

The Rt. Rev. Kirk Stevan Smith

Episcopal Diocese of Arizona

Below is one couple who Smith is describes. Thanks to photographer Ann Hubard, who took this picture at the DOMA Decision Celebration in Portland (OR).

Annies two guys

Despite the support of marriage equality for all from the majority of voters in the United States, there was a dark side as the conservatives expressed themselves with great fear and fury.

Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) originally agreed with Glenn Beck that the Supreme Court ruling might result in people marry animals. After Paul’s bizarre claim hit the Internet, he must have decided that it might hurt his possibilities of becoming president in 2016 and withdrew his statement. No one, however, can ever erase their stupidity from the web.

Mike Huckabee, former presidential wannabe, was brief in his first tweet: “Jesus wept.” Later he elaborated by accusing the Supreme Court of declaring itself “ bigger than God.” Unfortunately for Huckabee, Jesus said absolutely nothing about marriage equality, but he did say lots about poverty and money-changers.

Rep. Tim Walberg (R-MI) declared that “society itself is at risk and cannot continue.” At the same press conference, Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX) said that same-sex marriage was “usually tried at the end of a great civilization.” Both comments echoed House Judiciary Chair Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) when he said that “preserving the institution of traditional marriage is crucial to the stability of our society.”

Ralph Reed, leader of the Faith & Freedom Coalition, viewed that SCOTUS’ action as “an Orewellian act of judicial fiat” in its threat to federalism, rule of law, and Western civilization.

The National Organization for Marriage blamed a conspiracy of “homosexual” and “liberal” lower circuit judges for the Court’s rulings. In a peculiar blend of mixed metaphors, Brian Brown, NOM’s president said:

“There is a stench coming from this case that has now stained the Supreme Court. They’ve allowed corrupt politicians and judges to betray the voters, rewarding them for their betrayal.”

Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) declared  that “no man, not even a Supreme Court, can undo what a holy God has instituted.”

Tim Wildmon, president of American Family Association, used the myth that the United States is only a Christian country: “We are deeply saddened by today’s decision to not only allow but encourage same-sex marriage in our country—a country that was founded on biblical principles.”  Once again, Mr. Wildmon, most of the founders were Deists.

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) hated the possibility that he might be a bigot, the way that the SCOTUS ruling indicated. “It is … my hope that those who argue for the redefinition of marriage to include same-sex marriage will refrain from assailing the millions of Americans who disagree with them as bigots.”

Chris Joseph’s strong satiric channeling of Rubio in the Broward-Palm Beach New Times, was in response to his “I’m not a bigot” statement:

“Those of us who oppose gay marriage aren’t bigots, bro! We’re TOTALLY about constitutional provisions and laws. This has NOTHING to do with our own religious beliefs and us wanting to force those beliefs on other people. That would be wrong. No, no. I’m just about tradition, and not at all involved with gay-hate groups, or basing my reasons on my personal belief that you will burn for all eternity if you’re a gay. I mean, just because one believes that another person is doomed to an eternal place of darkness to suffer forever doesn’t make me hateful at all! Pffft.”

Rep. Tim Huelskamp (R-KS) opposed the SCOTUS ruling against DOMA by saying, “I think children will be hurt.” He used as the basis for his myth the erroneous belief that decades of social-science research have “shown that every child deserves a mom and dad.” These lies by people in a situation to help children not only damage the children of same-sex couples but also demonstrate the hypocrisy of conservative lawmakers. If they cared for children, they would not take away their food, shelter, education, healthcare, emotional support, etc.

Pennsylvania Rep. Daryl Metcalfe (R) is a leading example of the legislators who don’t understand the First Amendment’s position of freedom of religion that some people describe as the separation of church state. When openly gay Rep. Brian Sims (D) tried to speak on the legislature floor about the SCOTUS ruling on DOMA, Metcalfe stopped him because Sims’ comments would be “open rebellion against God’s law.” Metcalfe also stopped two other lawmakers from talking about DOMA.

Despite all these cruel, narrow-minded statements from religious conservatives, there was much joy and a good bit of humor, including from John Oliver, the summer replacement for Jon Stewart on The Daily Show.

The most important response came from the President of the United States:

“I applaud the Supreme Court’s decision to strike down the Defense of Marriage Act. This was discrimination enshrined in law. It treated loving, committed gay and lesbian couples as a separate and lesser class of people. The Supreme Court has righted that wrong, and our country is better off for it. We are a people who declared that we are all created equal – and the love we commit to one another must be equal as well.

“This ruling is a victory for couples who have long fought for equal treatment under the law; for children whose parents’ marriages will now be recognized, rightly, as legitimate; for families that, at long last, will get the respect and protection they deserve; and for friends and supporters who have wanted nothing more than to see their loved ones treated fairly and have worked hard to persuade their nation to change for the better.

“So we welcome today’s decision, and I’ve directed the Attorney General to work with other members of my Cabinet to review all relevant federal statutes to ensure this decision, including its implications for Federal benefits and obligations, is implemented swiftly and smoothly.

“The laws of our land are catching up to the fundamental truth that millions of Americans hold in our hearts: when all Americans are treated as equal, no matter who they are or whom they love, we are all more free.”

Now we wait to see the implementation of the court’s rulings.

[The following was posted on Rep. Earl Blumenauer’s (D-OR) website.]

77441506_24_13_Supreme_Court_Equa_Earl_Quote

November 6, 2012

Tomorrow, A Better Day

Election Day has come and gone with President Obama declared the winner with Ohio putting him over the top.  Yesterday, Mitt Romney said, “Tomorrow, we begin a better tomorrow.” He was right.

Three Democrats took four Senate seats from the Republicans. In Indiana, Joe Donnelly (D) took the seat from Richard (babies from rapes are a gift from God) Mourdock , a Tea Party candidate who took the primary from long time Republican Sen. Richard Lugar. In Massachusetts, Massachusetts: Elizabeth Warren (D) has won Scott Brown’s Senate seat!  In Virginia, Tim Kaine defeated George Allen, who also lost the Senate race six years ago. A fourth seat moved away from Republicans when Maine elected progressive Angus King as an independent.

The Republicans did manage to take over formerly Democratic seats—Nebraska where ultra-conservative Democrat Ben Nelson did not run and North Carolina. Still undetermined as of now are Montana, Nevada, and North Dakota.

With her election as the senator from Wisconsin, Tammy Baldwin becomes the first openly-LGBT member of the Senate. A quote from Slate shows the importance of her election:

“If you are not in the room, the conversation is about you … If you are in the room, the conversation is with you. We never had an openly LGBT member of the U.S. Senate, and even though there are strong pro-equality allies who serve there, it has always been a conversation about a group of people. So this changes everything.”

In other states, Patrick Murphy (D) defeated Linda McMahon for Connecticut senator despite the fact that she spent $100 million of her own money on the campaign, and Florida’s Bill Nelson (D) protected his seat against Connie Mack. More states with outside money where Democrats keep their seats are Missouri (Claire McCaskill won over “legitimate rape” Todd Akins) and Ohio (Sherrod Brown kept his seat despite the millions and millions of dollars that superPACs spent to defeat him).

The House stayed Republican, but upcoming days will show whether some of the most virulent Tea Partiers were voted out as in Illinois where Iraqi veteran Tammy Duckworth defeated “deadbeat dad” Joe Walsh.

In at least one state, North Carolina, the state has switched from Democratic to Republican.

Marriage equality and marijuana legalization were probably the two subjects of the most liberal initiatives out of the 170 scattered across the country. While the country is probably not ready to legalize marijuana, the marriage equality has been legalized by popular vote for the first time. Maryland first called the vote to make marriage equality legal in that state, with both Maine and Washington state close behind. In Minnesota, the referendum to ban marriage equality was failing.

During the coming four years the country will be dragged into the 21st century kicking and screaming. Bill O’Reilly on Fox News is one of the loudest screamers when he explained why he thought that Obama did so well in the voting:

“It’s not a traditional America anymore. And there are 50 percent of the voting public who want stuff. They want things. And who is going to give them things? President Obama. He knows it. And he ran on it… You’re going to see a tremendous Hispanic vote for President Obama. Overwhelming black vote for President Obama. And women will probably break President Obama’s way. People feel that they are entitled to things, and which candidate between the two is going to give them things?”

This racism is one serious problem that President Obama had. A second one was overcoming the disastrous economic problems he inherited, especially accompanied by the GOP obstruction. The third issue is the concerted GOP effort to suppress the vote that started with mandates for photo ID, restrictions in registering new voters, and reducing early voting. Even today on Election Day the problems were obvious.

Misinformation: Candidates such as the winning senate candidate in Arizona Jeff Flake and officials in elections offices called and sent information with incorrect voting dates, times, and polling locations.

Intimidation: Employers sent emails with veiled—and not so veiled—threats about firing people if President Obama were elected. True the Vote watchers were banned from polls in one Ohio county when it was discovered they forged signatures to get their permits. In Pennsylvania others intercepted voters in minority areas to wrongly tell them they had to have photo ID.

Misrepresentation: Linda McMahon tried to look like a Democrat in outfitting poll standers in shirts styled by those worn by a liberal union and distributed sample ballots with her name next to that of the president.

Malfunctioning/missing voting machines: Some computers flipped to Republican names when a Democratic button was pressed, and power was lacking in some areas. One precinct had machines available for only one of two Congressional districts for a while.

Long lines in minority areas: Virginia, a state without early voting, had waits of up to eight hours in 35-degree temperatures. Polls in predominantly white areas have waits of as little as ten minutes.

This is the third time in four elections that the United States has had serious problems in voting, starting with George W. Bush’s loss of the popular vote and his subsequent appointment to the presidency by the U.S. Supreme Court. We have four years before the next presidential election to fix these problems.

David Frum, past special assistant to George W. Bush, has some wise admonitions and advice:

“Almost everywhere else, elections are run by impartial voting agencies. In France, elections are the responsibility of the Ministry of the Interior, which establishes places and hours of voting, prints ballots (France still uses paper) and counts the votes. In Germany, an independent federal returning officer oversees a complex state and federal voting system. In Canada, federal elections are managed by a specialized agency, Elections Canada. Mexico, emerging from a sad history of electoral manipulation, created in the 1990s a respected independent agency, the Federal Electoral Institute. Brazil has nationwide electronic voting, producing instantaneous, uncontested results…

“Here’s what doesn’t happen in other democracies: Politicians of one party do not set voting schedules to favor their side and harm the other. Politicians do not move around voting places to gain advantages for themselves or to disadvantage their opponents. In fact, in almost no other country do politicians have any say in the administration of elections at all.”

In closing, I say, “Well done, Nate Silver!” I look forward to a better tomorrow.

September 25, 2012

Last Two Weeks – Part One

For the past two weeks, I haven’t had the opportunity to receive any news except through the CNN and Fox filters.  Watching these stations makes me realize how fortunate I am in having the variety of news from the Internet and other cable stations. They concentrated purely on the discovery that Mitt Romney called 47 percent of the people in the United States “freeloaders,” people that he doesn’t represent, and then accused President Obama of being a notorious income redistributer because of a vague 14-year-old speech. The two stations also continued to make great hay out of the tragedy in Libya as Fox reporters tried to convince the public that throwing gas on a fire is the best way to control it.

Now they’re probably skipping more news, concentrating on the sports crisis of substitute referees, employed because of the three-week-old labor dispute between the NFL and the regular officials, that caused, in the opinion of many fans, the Seattle Seahawks’ defeat of the San Francisco Packers last night after what some people determined as a bad call. (Probably not the Seahawks’ fans!)  It was enough to make Gov. Scott Walker (R-WI) believe in unions–at least for referees. 

Update: Yes, it’s the Green Bay Packers! Mea culpa. I know more about unions than I do sports–which was my point here!

But now I have great sources such as Addicting Information, Alternet, and Care. Therefore during the next few days, I’ll recap some of the news that I’ve missed. There’s not room for much detail so I’ll provide links to more information.

Media:

Rupert Murdoch, owner of far-right media such as Fox and Wall Street Journal, was so convinced in the errors of the polls showing President Obama ahead of Romney that he paid for his own polls. The Fox polls showed President Obama leading Romney by seven points in both Ohio (49 to 42 percent) and Virginia (50 to 43 percent). President Obama leads by five points (49 to 44 percent) in Florida. Fox News either ignored the polls’ results or explained that they had no validity.

Rush Limbaugh saw an Italian study showing that penises are now “10% smaller.” He blames the shrinking on “feminazis.”

Congress:

Last week House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) adjourned the House of Representatives until after the November election, having accomplished only a six-month extension of the nation’s budget. It is the earliest adjournment by the House of Representatives in a general election year in fifty years!

Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) has won “Most Corrupt Award” from the non-partisan watchdog group CREW (Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington). He has used his unlimited subpoena power to persecute Attorney General Eric Holder for almost a year. Holder’s release 7,600 pages from 46 separate dumps and his testimony to the House on seven separate  situations have not satisfied Issa. At the same time Issa refused to comply with subpoenas in the Roger Clemens’ steroids and Duke Cunningham bribery cases. CREW also cited Issa for illegally revealing confidential information from a sealed wiretap in the Congressional Record and then shielding himself from reproach and censure by claiming that, as a member of Congress, he had constitutional protections for his unethical actions. The watchdog group concluded “that the committee was seeking fodder for a political agenda to embarrass the attorney general and, through him, President Barack Obama.” The New Yorker has far more information about Issa in a January 2011 article.

Rep. Todd Akin (R-MI), notorious for his statement that women who are really raped can’t get pregnant, was caught on tape in May at a Fair Tax Kansas City Meeting saying that he will sell favors to people who contribute to his current senate campaign. “I’m in a three way primary for the U.S. Senate. I’ve gone to people and asked for their support, their help, or their endorsement and some people say yes. They write me a decent check. I remember that… You remember who’s helping you. That’s one way that people get to know Congressmen and Senators.” Today was Akin’s last day to remove himself from the senate campaign, something he won’t do although such Republican luminaries as Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan have consistently asked for him to do this.

Voting:

Thirty states will have started early voting by the end of September, with one-third of all ballots being cast this way before the actual Election Day on November 6.

New voting laws in 23 of the 50 states could keep more than 10 million Hispanic U.S. citizens from registering and voting, a new study said on Sunday, a number so large it could affect the outcome of the November 6 election.

Melissa Harris-Perry said that 34 million women in Pennsylvania may have trouble voting because they changed their names after they married. The voter ID law requires all these women to present two forms of identification: the state voter ID issued by the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) and a separate government-issued ID or driver’s license.  “There’s officially a tax on being a woman in Pennsylvania if you want to vote,” Harris-Perry said. Each of the state’s 31,000 individual poll-workers can enforce the law at their discretion.

A week ago, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court ordered a district court judge to look again at his decision saying the voter ID law passed muster. The judge must determine whether it is realistic to expect state’s Department of Transportation to be able to issue photo ID cards to people who do not currently have them in time for the November 6 election, a number estimated from 100,000 to 1.6 million. If the lower court decides that getting the required photo-ID will be subject to back-ups and other problems that results in disenfranchisement, the high court says the judge must block the law from going forward. At the very least, that would put it off until the next election. Two justices dissented, arguing that the evidence is already clear that the law presents onerous problems for obtaining IDs within the time-frame available. 

Romney’s Campaign:

“We use Ann [Romney] sparingly now, so that people don’t get tired of her–-or start attacking.” This quote came from the same private fund-raiser event when Mitt Romney said that he wasn’t interested in 47 percent of the people in the United States. Evidently Romney’s wife is just a prop to make him look better.

On the Diane Rehm Show (9/24/12), Bay Buchanan, a Romney campaign advisor, told guest host Susan Gage that the campaign needs to “pick off” women from Barack Obama supporters to increase support for Romney. Like Ann Romney, other women are objects, not humans.

Tim Pawlenty resigned last week as co-chair of the Romney presidential campaign to become CEO of The Financial Services Roundtable, a banking lobby that represents Wells Fargo, J.P. Morgan, and other financial companies that represent over $92 trillion dollars in assets. Part of his new job is to get rid of the Dodd-Franks rules to protect the U.S. economy from banks and take the country back to the time of George W. Bush.

In Romney’s infamous May 17 speech when he described the elderly, veterans, disabled, and others who don’t pay taxes as moochers, he had other noteworthy statements to his private audience. Referencing a possible pre-election disaster such as the Carter hostage situation, “I will work to find a way to take advantage of the opportunity.” About Mideast peace, “And I look at the Palestinians not wanting to see peace anyway, for political purposes, committed to the destruction and elimination of Israel, and these thorny issues, and I say there’s just no way.” Romney talked about when he traveled with Bain Capital to buy a factory in China that employed “about 20,000” young women.

About Latino voters and Elizabeth Warren, Romney said, “And had [my dad] been born of Mexican parents, I’d have a better shot of winning this… [Donor: “Pull an Elizabeth Warren!”]…That’s right I could go out and say—for those who don’t know Elizabeth Warren, she is the woman who’s running for US Senate in Massachusetts who says that she is Cherokee…”

Mitt Romney Gaffes:

The presidential candidate is upset because airplane windows don’t open.

Romney appeared to be several shades darker when he appeared on Univision, a media company serving Hispanic America.  He also threatened not to attend the Hispanic interview unless he was allowed to pack the audience with his local supporters. He allegedly “threw a tantrum” after an introduction that he was allotted 35 minutes and the president would have a full hour the next night. He came out on stage after a new introduction was taped.

Anti-Obama Propaganda:

An anti-Obama film falsely claiming, among other things, that President Obama’s biological father is Frank Marshall Davis, an African-American communist, has been mailed across the country to millions of voters, including 1.5 million in Ohio. The film’s director and producer, Joel Gilbert, did not say how the company is funded to distribute so many free disks.

Good News:

California has passed a bill that will “authorize a registered nurse to dispense specified drugs or devices upon an order issued by a certified nurse-midwife, nurse practitioner, or physician assistant if the nurse is functioning within a specified clinic. The bill would also authorize a registered nurse to dispense or administer hormonal contraceptives in strict adherence to specified standardized procedures.”

“We will never have the elite, smart people on our side.”—Rick Santorum

More tomorrow!

May 9, 2012

Today – An ‘Historic Day’!

Filed under: Uncategorized — trp2011 @ 9:01 PM
Tags: , ,

The day started with non-stop news about a thwarted plot to plant a high-explosive bomb on an airplane and finished with an all-consuming focus on President Obama’s announcement that he has personally accepted the concept of civil marriage equality. For the first issue, Fox News accused the president of either using this for political fodder or being stupid to let this news leak. Curiously enough the conservative news channel started with the marriage equality news that Obama had started a “war on marriage” but soon erased that statement by changing it to just a flip-flop situation. Shepard Smith even declared that Obama is “in the 21st century” while Republicans are “on the wrong side of history.”

To be perfectly clear, the president didn’t say that he would fight to change policy in this area. His statement referred only to his personal viewpoints. As always, he’s easing himself into the water of politics on this issue. But he’s gone farther than just his big toe—maybe even up to the knees by now. But, as Rachel Maddow pointed out in her description of past presidents’ attitude toward marriage equality, he has gone far, far beyond what any earlier president has done to create equality in many areas of LGBT life.

Repealing Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell: When President Obama signed the bill that repealed this discriminatory law, gays and lesbians were able to openly serve in the military in the same way that heterosexuals can. (September 20, 2011)

Ending the Legal Defense of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA): President Obama and the Attorney General announced that the Department of Justice would not defend Section 3 of DOMA because preventing marriage equality is unconstitutional. (February 2011)

Supporting the Respect of Marriage Act: The White House announced it would support this bill, introduced by Sen. Dianne Feinstein and Rep. Jerrold Nadler, to repeal DOMA and provide equal federal and other legal protections for gay and lesbian couples who marry. (July 2011)

Signing Historic Hate Crimes Legislation: President Obama signed the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act into law, which extends the coverage of federal hate crimes law to include attacks based on the victim’s actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity. The bill took ten years to pass. (October 28, 2009)

Ensuring Hospital Visitation Rights for LGBT Patients and Their Loved Ones: Following a directive from the President, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) now requires all hospitals receiving Medicare or Medicaid funds—almost every hospital in America–to allow visitation rights for LGBT patients. The President also directed HHS to ensure that medical decision-making rights of LGBT patients are respected. (January 19, 2011)

Preventing Bullying Against LGBT Students: President Obama, First Lady Michelle Obama, the Department of Education, and the Department of Health and Human Services convened students, parents, and teachers, in addition to non-profit leaders, advocates, and policymakers, for the first White House Conference on Bullying Prevention. (March 2011)

Developing and Implementing a National HIV/AIDS Strategy: President Obama developed and released the United States’ first comprehensive plan for responding to the domestic HIV epidemic. (December 1, 2011) He also signed legislation reauthorizing the Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program for four years to provide critical health services to uninsured and underinsured people living with HIV. (October 30, 2009) The Administration has also prioritized funding increases for HIV prevention, care, and research in each successive President’s budget.

Expanding Access to Health Coverage: Because of the Affordable Care Act, insurance companies will no longer be able to discriminate against anyone due to a pre-existing condition after 2014, and insurers can no longer turn someone away just because the person is lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender. Through increased research and data collection on health disparities, policymakers will have the knowledge and tools they need to continue to address the health needs and concerns of the LGBT community. In addition, the federal website, HealthCare.gov, designed to help all consumers find the health insurance best suited to their needs, makes it easy to locate health insurers that cover domestic partners. (March 23, 2010)

Taking Steps to Ensure LGBT Equality in Housing and Crime Prevention: After the first national study of discrimination in housing against LGBT persons, the White House issued a final rule to ensure that the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s core housing programs are open to all persons regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity. The Justice Department also issued guidance stating that Federal prosecutors should enforce criminal provisions in the Violence against Women Act in cases involving same-sex relationships. (January 2012)

Reversing Bush policy to Reject U.N. Human Rights Statement: The White House joined 66 other U.N. member states condemning human rights violations based on sexual orientation and gender identity. (March 18, 2009)

Extending Benefits to Partners of LGBT Federal Employees: President Barack Obama signed the Presidential Memorandum on Federal Benefits and Non-Discrimination giving some benefits, including visitation and dependent-care rights to same-sex partners of LGBT federal employees. extending benefits to same-sex partners of federal employees. Department of State also gave the full range of legally available benefits and allowances to same-sex domestic partners of members of the Foreign Service sent to serve abroad. (June 18, 2009)

Lifting the Travel Ban for People with HIV/AIDS: President Obama published a rule that allowed people with HIV/AIDS to freely travel into the United States. (November 2009)

I could go on and on, including the large number of LGBT people who President Obama has appointed for his administration. One website gives 225 names but does not list a date; there may be more. eQuality lists more of President Obama’s achievements, and Rachel Maddow has devoted much of her May 9, 2012 program to the difference between President Obama and past presidents regarding the LGBT issues.

Suffice it to say, however, today is an historic day for everyone in the United States who believes in equality.

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