United States

[051] Homomentum

Today was another terrible, horrible, no good day for “religious” bigots in America. I put that word in quotes, because they only feign religiosity. All they really are is grotesquely ignorant, small-minded, bitter, sniveling imbeciles. The breaking news, as I write this, is that Arizona Governor Jan Brewer has vetoed SB 1062 – the bill passed by both houses of the Arizona legislature which would have permitted anti-gay (and other forms of) discrimination by people and businesses… as long as the discrimination was said to come from “deeply held religious beliefs.” Oh, bite me!

from the Jim Crow Museum at Ferris State University

Jim Crow Museum, Ferris State Univ

Governor Brewer’s veto should not be construed as support for the notion of equal civil rights for all Arizonans. There are hundreds of millions of other reasons for her veto – in the form of a guaranteed financial hit to Arizona’s economy and state tax revenues. Most of the major companies headquartered or doing business in Arizona came out publicly against this bigoted law. The real coup de grace was a thinly veiled warning from the National Football League that Phoenix would lose next year’s Super Bowl if this abominable license to discriminate were to become law. Remember that Arizona has unique experience losing a Super Bowl to state-sanctioned bigotry. In 1993, Super Bowl XXVII was moved from Phoenix to the Rose Bowl in Pasadena because Arizona refused to recognize the federal holiday honoring Dr Martin Luther King Jr. The ghosts of 1993’s debacle apparently still haunt the AZ governor’s chambers in 2014.

This veto is not a surprise. Nor is the failure of other such bills in the states which have recently attempted to enact anti-gay discrimination under the guise of so-called “religious freedom”. Kansas, South Dakota, restrooms.whiteonlyTennessee, Oregon, Idaho, Maine and Georgia have all gone down this rutted road recently. Arizona was just the first state to get a bill on its governor’s desk. It may not be the last. So, good news that Arizona today rejected a law that would have permitted businesses to turn away customers they don’t like. Fifty years later, and the bigots are still trying to serve up steaming piles of Jim Crow – this time aimed at LGBT Americans. And of course, it’s the same thing in all the states attempting to restrict voting access for people of color, students and the elderly. What a proud chapter in America’s ongoing fight for social justice! The Republicans are behind these noxious attempts at legislative discrimination, and they should hang their heads in shame. We already know how history will view them and their supporters: with the same revulsion that civilized people reserve for the Jim Crow signage displayed on this page. And that is exactly how offensive these fraudulent excuses for hatred are.

Texas Court Ruling

But wait! For most of the day, Arizona wasn’t even the biggest story on the bigot-busting beat. No! That spotlight belonged to Texas – where a federal judge ruled its ban on same-sex marriage to be unconstitutional. U.S. District Court Judge Orlando Garcia issued the ruling which struck down Texas’ 2003 law banning same-sex marriage as well as its 2005 state constitutional ban. In his opinion, Judge Garcia wrote:

Today’s court decision is not made in defiance of the great people of Texas or the Texas Legislature, but in compliance with the U.S. Constitution and Supreme Court precedent. Without a rational relation to a legitimate governmental purpose, state-imposed inequality can find no refuge in our U.S. Constitution.

Frankly, it’s getting difficult to keep up with all the action in the courts. In the last two months alone, there have been at least six federal court rulings declaring anti-gay marriage bans to be unconstitutional, in the reddest of states: Texas, Kentucky, Virginia, Oklahoma, Utah and Ohio. And with more than a dozen active cases being pursued in other states, this list will inevitably grow. Some of these cases will be not gay lunchappealed to the Circuit Courts, others will not – and that is a Red State / Blue State divide. Given the Supreme Court’s ruling last June invalidating DOMA (the so-called “Defense of Marriage Act”), it is virtually a foregone conclusion that federal judges will find state laws restricting marriage to heterosexuals to be unconstitutional. And as it did with all the district court rulings striking down DOMA, the Supreme Court will likely consolidate whatever cases rise through the Courts of Appeal in the various circuits – and decide the question of marriage equality in this country, once and for all.

It has been ten years since Massachusetts became the first state in the country to endorse marriage equality. Since then, the following states have joined that growing list: California, Connecticut, Iowa, Vermont, Maine, New Hampshire, District of Columbia, New York, Washington State, Maryland, Rhode Island, Minnesota, Delaware, New Jersey, Hawaii, Illinois, New Mexico. We are rapidly approaching half of the population of the country living in marriage equality states, with the federal government now automatically recognizing all legal marriages. The remaining state bans will continue to be challenged until they all fall. Unless the Supreme Court expedites that result with a ruling echoing Loving v. Virginia which struck down the interracial marriage bans in this country. If you’re keeping score at home, the Washington Post has a terrific interactive map of marriage equality status in the states. Check back often, as they say.

Day 051 #100happydays

[023] President Obama

As I watched President Obama addressing Congress for the State of the Union, I am so thankful we elected a man possessed of such intelligence, empathy, humor – and passion for the success of this country and its people.

obama sotu 2014

I am also almost overcome with gratitude for what I do not see in this picture. I do not see President McCain. And I do not see President Romney.

President Obama makes me proud to be an American.
Day 023 #100happydays

This Just In… Part Deux

Canadian-born U.S. Senator Rafael “Ted” Cruz (R-TX) has confirmed that he will renounce his Canadian citizenship. Canada’s reaction to this news was typically understated:

happy maple leaf

Unconfirmed reports suggest that Citizenship and Immigration Canada is exploring the possibility of renouncing the citizenship of Toronto Mayor Rob Ford.

Since it seems that Canada is pursuing a dastardly scheme to export its craziest political operatives to the United States, you can do your part to repel this invasion. Click on the Happy Maple Leaf to go to Rock The Vote and get yourself registered to vote! It only takes a few minutes. #2014 primaries are just months away… 306 days till Election Day in November. Let’s get moving, eh?

When Did Bad Behavior Become The Default Setting In America?

This story illustrates both ends of the spectrum of personal ethics in everyday American life. A morality play set in a Midwestern Dairy Queen. This young man’s kindness and generosity are praiseworthy. But national news?

Why do we simply accept the douchebag’s thievery as a backdrop? No one seems surprised in the least that she would pocket the money, and without shame. Has bad behavior become the norm in our society – the default setting for the American character?

No? Well when was the last time you were shocked – or even mildly surprised – by bad actors in baseball? cycling? football? any professional sport? Unscrupulous dealings on Wall Street? Ethical breaches in Congress? Police brutality? Child rape? Celebrities breaking laws with impunity? Con men preying on the elderly? Animal cruelty?

Even the stories that still have the power to stop us cold seem, in the end, to reinforce our acceptance of the status quo. Columbine. Fort Hood. Virginia Tech. Oak Creek. Tucson. Aurora. Newtown. Navy Yard. Gun violence has become a news story template; only the venues and body counts change. After each massacre, for a long moment our collective response is “This must end!” But almost immediately, that cools to a shrug of the national shoulders. “Nothing ever changes.”

We’re not surprised when the woman steals the blind man’s money… and we’re not surprised when our star athletes dope… and we’re not surprised when priests rape children… and we’re not surprised when people in a movie theater or a mall or a church or a campus or a base are gunned down… or when kids in a first grade classroom are massacred in cold blood. We hate it. But it no longer surprises us. We’ve come to expect it. And that is the definition of normal.

There will always be a good-hearted kid who will replace a stolen $20 with his own money, or a teacher who will use her body to shield her students, or a good cop who will intervene with a bad cop. But when the good guys are the breaking news, America is broken.

Love the Constitution! Hate Democracy! Wait…

John Boehner - Caricature

John Boehner – Caricature (Photo credit: DonkeyHotey)

A video anthology of #GOPcruelty and obstruction :: The Political Carnival.

Unprecedented majorities of Americans support:

  • background checks on gun purchases
  • employment protection for LGBT folks
  • immigration reform
  • raising the minimum wage

There are enough votes in Congress to pass legislation in these areas with broad bipartisan majorities.

John Boehner – knowing such legislation would pass – refuses to let the House of Representatives vote. The country wants it. The Congress wants it. John Boehner stands in the way of this. He is a ‘majority’ of one. Who is he working for?

Is President Obama… The One?

It certainly has been looking dreary for the White House lately. The President’s signature legislative achievement – Obamacare – hit a real rough patch last month. After a difficult birth and three-and-a-half years of stepped implementation, the final, critical component was ready to launch. The state health insurance exchanges – the ‘marketplaces’ – were going live on October 1st. For the unfortunate half of Americans “living” in the tantrum-throwing infantile ‘red’ states, the federal government set up healthcare.gov to provide access to affordable insurance and health care.

There’s a scene in every scifi space thriller where the bad guy’s ship is about to blow up the good guy’s ship. The good guy pushes the big flashing GO REAL FAST NOW! button… and… nothin! Outta gas. Flat tire. The whosiewhatsit is kaput. And Our Hero looks to be out of options. Or, is he? In the movies, the hero is always one step ahead of the evil-doers. He has a spare battery in his utility belt. He finds some twine and a bobby pin. Or he’s just one of those incredibly lucky fellows.

Last month, the President’s team hit the GO REAL FAST NOW! button on the USS Obamacare. But the machinery started making clunky sounds, oil leaked, a black cloud of smoke rose over the whole enterprise. And the bad guys in the GOP/FOXmobile were catching up fast, guns a-blazin’.

As I watched Mr Obama at his press event today, I think I may have seen a gleam in his eye. He knows the website issues are real, but the media shitstorm is masking the underlying success of Obamacare right out of the gate. 100,000 signed up in October… almost 1,000,000 completed the process just short of signing up for a plan. 400,000 more people accessing state Medicaid services, and growing. Don’t hear much about all that, do we? But the President realizes the value of low expectations and being underestimated. He’s been there before.

He knows the website issues will get resolved, this month or next month. The holidays are upon us and will provide a giant distraction. With the new Obamacare policies taking effect on January 1st, there will be a huge spike in sign ups just around the new year. With another giant spike toward the end of March, when the open enrollment period ends.

He also knows that millions of Americans will soon be benefiting from Obamacare. Those stories have already begun percolating up through the media muck. As time goes on into 2014 and this lived reality of millions becomes the understood truth, the tables will turn. The GOP is so far out on the anti-Obamacare limb, it will have nowhere to go — so they will get more strident, as they do. As summer heats up the campaign season, Democrats will be climbing back on the Obamacare bandwagon. The President will have to clone himself to keep up with the demand for campaign appearances. And come November, the political media will be running to their online thesauruses for new ways to say LANDSLIDE.

BlamObama played the GOP like a fiddle in last month’s shutdown/default drama. He then took the fiddle and beat them over the heads with it.

I do not believe that man, in the space of three weeks, lost his political nerve over a website snafu. No, he knew the GOP would be out for blood and would come at him full force. I think what we are seeing now is the political master at work, again. (Along with his key lieutenants Pelosi & Reid). With the Republicans rushing at him from one side, and the bloodthirsty media coming from the other side, watch Obama sidestep out of the way at the last possible moment. He’ll find the fuse and bring his fist down on the GO REAL FAST NOW! button — and they won’t even know what hit them. I could almost feel sorry for little Johnny Boehner and his band of idiots. Not to mention the ugly cowardice of DINOs like Manchin and Landrieu. Real profiles in courage.

I could be wrong. But we won’t have long to wait to find out. In the meantime, Mr President, good luck. We’re all counting on you.