Thursday, May 11, 2006
The National Security Agency has been secretly collecting the phone call records of tens of millions of Americans, using data provided by AT&T, Verizon and BellSouth, people with direct knowledge of the arrangement told USA TODAY
This is what happens when the extreme right teams up with a dolt like Bush and a paranoid madman like Cheney. America voted its fears in 2004, so we should not be surprised that we now have a nosy, fear-based government. I don't know about you, but I don't trust this Bush crowd with personal or private information. It is searingly ironic that the more the Administration talks about freedom and liberty, the less we have.
The Washington Post reports that
disaffection over spending and immigration have caused conservatives to take flight from President Bush and the Republican Congress at a rapid pace in recent weeks, sending Bush's approval ratings to record lows and presenting a new threat to the GOP's 12-year reign on Capitol Hill, according to White House officials, lawmakers and new polling data. Indeed, the Gallup polling organization recorded a 13-percentage-point drop in Republican support for Bush in the past couple of weeks.
"A lot of us have been like Paul Revere and sounding the alarm for three or four years," said Rep. Tom Feeney (R-Fla.). "Conservatives forgave Bush and Congress for our past mistakes because the war on terrorism was so important . . . but now there is a great deal of unhappiness. What you are going to increasingly see is a divided Republican Party."
Nothing like a little good news to start the day!
The leader of the DNC, Howard Dean, once spoke of bringing hicks with gunracks on their pick-up trucks into the Democratic Party. Or was it Dixie flags and okra? Well, you get the point. He rightfully thought winning over white guys from the rural south would help the Democrats win back the majority.
He seemed to make progress on this - but did not go about it the right way - by falsely claiming on Pat Robertson's 700 Club that "The Democratic Party platform from 2004 says that marriage is between a man and a woman." In fact, the platform says the following:
"We support full inclusion of gay and lesbian families in the life of our nation and seek equal responsibilities, benefits, and protections for these families. In our country, marriage has been defined at the state level for 200 years, and we believe it should continue to be defined there. We repudiate President Bush's divisive effort to politicize the Constitution by pursuing a 'Federal Marriage Amendment.' Our goal is to bring Americans together, not drive them apart."
This misrepresentation caused a furious reaction by gay rights groups. The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force even returned a $5,000 check from Dean in protest.
"Governor Dean's record on lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender issues since becoming DNC chair has been sorely and sadly lacking," said NGLTF's Executive Director Matt Foreman. "The Democratic Party chair should stand by and fight for the party's own platform and values. In light of Governor Dean's pandering and insulting interview today with the Christian Broadcasting Network, we have decided to return the DNC's recent $5,000 contribution to us."
The Human Rights Campaign offered a similar strongly-worded denunciation.
"Governor Dean's comments weren't a mere slip of the tongue but a glaring reminder of the governor's lack of leadership on this issue," said Human Rights Campaign President Joe Solmonese.
I think that these gay rights groups should be applauded for demanding that the Democrats adhere to principles of basic fairness and inclusion. It is great that Dean wants to bring in religious and blue collar voters. However, don't expect our time and money if the strategy to win over these folks is for the party to distance itself from GLBT rights.
This is a good time to have this conversation - in an election year, but not too close to the election. Let us hope that the DNC chooses to strengthen its relationship with one of its most loyal constituencies.
Wednesday, May 10, 2006
Americans have a bleaker view of the country's direction than at any time in more than two decades, according to the latest New York Times/CBS News poll
. Sharp disapproval of President Bush's handling of gasoline prices has combined with intensified unhappiness about Iraq
to create a grim political environment for the White House and Congressional Republicans.
The percentage of respondents who said going to war in Iraq was the correct decision slipped to a new low of 39 percent, down from 47 percent in January. It is clear that the wheels have come off this lemon. Bush will go down as the worst president in the nation's history. No wonder he would rather provoke the Iranians than talk to them. It would take a major war to rescue Bush as the bottom comes out. Only the most stubborn or ignorant Americans still support the President.
Palm Beach County's school board is under fire
for blocking access to the Web sites of LGBT rights groups while allowing sites advocating the so-called ex-gay movement to go unfiltered.
This is absolutely disgraceful and typical of a right wing that can't win on facts, so they must suppress and shut down the truth. I also think that the school district is opening itself up to a lawsuit, since all respected mental health organizations say ex-gay ministries are destructive. If a child gets caught up in these groups because of the Palm Beach school board, they should be taken to court for harming the child.
Tuesday, May 09, 2006
For six long years, Mary Cheney backpedaled from speaking out against Republican attempts to write her out of the Constitution, yet emerged from the musty closet just in time to peddle
her new book, which hits stores this week. Cowed Mary now wants to be Proud Mary, but it's too late, for she has already sold us down the river.
From the comfortable confines of the VP mansion, Mary watched the GLBT community get bashed a million times. Yet, she remained a veritable Pet Rock until she received a $1 million dollar advance to pry open her mouth.
Cheney unveiled a major public relations blitz
for "Now It's My Turn: A Daughter's Chronicle of Political Life," but the PR should stand for Pitiful Rationalizations. Instead of garnering sympathy, she has gathered contempt for her meek attempt to justify her silence. She and her family had a unique opportunity to use the bully pulpit to educate Americans, and they failed miserably.
For example, in the 2000 campaign, Lynne Cheney bitterly replied to a question about her daughter's sexual orientation with a sneering denial, "Mary has never declared such a thing."
Of course, maybe it was technically true that Mary had not "declared" she was gay, as few people actually stand on a mountain top and make such a decree. But Mary had come out to her parents and worked for Coors as a gay liaison, which included traveling with Mr. Leather.
Interestingly, Mr. Leather was omitted from her book. I'm sure he was crushed when his index search came up blank. I can picture him standing in Borders wearing assless chaps franticly flipping though the end pages: "Milosevic...Missing WMD...Morning After Pill...Hmm, maybe it's under 'L?'" I guess there is no need to mention the S&M king when the White House bound, gagged and harnessed Mary better than he ever could.
Dick Cheney was as disloyal as Lynne. During a Bush State of the Union address, he clapped as the president expressed support for a constitutional amendment barring same-sex unions. Talk about family values!
The ultimate slap in the face, however, came during the vice presidential debate when the democratic nominee John Edwards mentioned that Mary Cheney was a lesbian. According to Mary, she mouthed an expletive at Edwards from the front row of the audience seating, while her mother and sister maturely stuck out their tongues at him.
Soon after, in a presidential debate, John Kerry also said that Mary was a lesbian. The response was swift and vociferous, with Lynne Cheney accusing Kerry of a "tawdry" political trick.
Apparently, Lynne thinks her daughter is "tawdry" simply for being a lesbian. The shame, disgust and embarrassment were evident by her choice of words and in the disdainful manner in which she uttered them.
The appropriate response to a candidate calling an open lesbian a lesbian is to yawn as if it is no big deal. Why exactly were the Cheney's so hot and bothered over the truth?
Most reprehensible was Mary's bafflingly defiant reaction, accusing the Democrats of using the issue for political gain. Perhaps, she was correct, but Kerry and Edwards were actually trying to offer Mary and her partner relative equality under the law.
Was it not for the sake of political gain when her father and Bush cynically pushed for a federal Constitutional Amendment and also spearheaded 11 divisive anti-marriage state Amendments to bolster their reelection bid in 2004? Did Mary mouth expletives at Dick and George when they won reelection on the backs of her and her life partner?
To the contrary, the dutiful daughter worked tirelessly to reelect the terrible twosome and now we face another vote on a federal Constitutional Amendment this summer. Thanks Mary!
Predictably, sycophants are coming out of the woodwork to cheer her on and snag her for fundraisers, as if Mary is a hero instead of a zero.
"Log Cabin Republicans applaud Mary Cheney for sharing her personal and family story," groveled Log Cabin President Patrick Guerriero.
The most gripping part of Mary's story is when she admits that she was so distraught over a break-up with her girlfriend that she crashed her car and came out to her parents. Unfortunately, many young adults are not as lucky when they engage in self-destructive behavior often associated with coming out in a homophobic society. Mary knew from experience that she could have helped put the breaks on such suicidal conduct. Instead, she let today's youth crash and burn.
I never thought I'd say this, but I agree with Alan Keyes when he said Mary Cheney is a "selfish hedonist." It took a big fat book advance before she stepped out to ostensibly advance gay rights. While I can understand family loyalty, she also had an obligation to defend her GLBT family and she let us down.
USA Today reports
that gay rights activists are moving to elect more of their own to legislatures. This push is a result of stinging defeats in marriage battles in 2004.
"There's a more concerted and integrated effort" in states, says Chuck Wolfe of the Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund and Leadership Institute, which trains and funds candidates. The group plans to give $4.3 million to openly gay candidates this year.
There are 353 openly gay elected officials — including 61 state legislators and three members of Congress — up from 49 in 1991, Wolfe says.
The Miami Herald's
Steve Rothaus wrote an excellent article
today on the suffering endured by gay friends on a vacation in the island of St. Maarten. Two of the vacationers had their skulls fractured by ignorant thugs. One victim, Ryan Smith, has brain damage and continues to struggle with speech.
As I've said in the past, it is time that gay rights groups consider launching a massive protest, maybe even a boycott, against islands such as St. Maarten and Jamaica. With enough pressure, we can significantly impact the economies of these backwards places. These nations can continue to gay bash, if they choose, but Americans should not be subsidizing the hate and brutality.
Perhaps we should organize in Miami to protest cruise ships leaving for these moral cesspools? And the Florida Congressional delegation, cruise ship operators and local leaders should demand action. It is their job to protect American citizens and they have so far failed to do so.
One has to feel bad for the increasingly ridiculous "ex-gays," who continue to fight nature. A new study
by Swedish researchers reveals that lesbians' brains react differently to sex hormones than those of heterosexual women. An earlier study of gay men also showed their brain response was different from straight men - an even stronger difference than has now been found in lesbians.FACT:
Sexual orientation is neither a choice, nor is it something that can be changed through prayer or therapy. All attempts to do so are rooted in shame, religious bigotry, political propaganda and ignorance.
The Wall Street Journal
reports that Al Gore is considering a run for president. Much of the speculation comes from his exciting new movie, "An Inconvenient Truth," that discusses global warming.
I know this sounds strange, but Gore has an outside chance. He can raise money, he was right on global warming and the war, and he isn't as stiff as he was in 2000. I also think that many people know how much better America would be if he had not had the election stolen from him in 2000.
Bush derisively called Gore "Ozone Man" in 2000 and made fun of him for reportedly saying that he had invented the Internet. Well, Gore looks pretty precient right now and he actually did his part to "invent" the Web. Meanwhile, Bush still thinks it is called the "Internets."
Don't count out Gore just yet.
Monday, May 08, 2006
Iran has once again gone off the deep end. They are banning
femmes from playing football. That's right, no more goals if you are a girlieman.
Can we trust these clerical clowns with nuclear weapons?
I have to hand it to Rev. Jerry Falwell - he is one smart dude.
In the 2000 Republican primaries, Sen. John McCain called him an "agent of intolerance." The right wing launched into overdrive and scuttled his hopes of the presidency in South Carolina.
In 2008, McCain is once again a leading candidate. However, in order to win he has to at least have a truce with the far right. Enter Rev. Jerry Falwell who invited McCain to give the commencement address
at Liberty University. While the world is focusing on McCain's ass kissing of the right, what is overlooked is the political brilliance of Falwell.
The reverend is on George W.Bush's speed dial. He knew, however, if McCain won, he would be frozen out of the White House for 4-8 years. This whole charade at Liberty is more about Jerry hedging his bet by embracing McCain, than it is it is about McCain earning his stripes with the Christian right. While I'm not sure if this is a wise tactic by McCain, it is a brilliant strategic move on the part of Falwell. He may appear to be a buffoon, but Falwell is a lot smarter than we often give him credit for.
For those who are foolish enough to think that the culture war launched by the right is only against homosexuals, please wake up. The New York Times
magazine has an article this week that discusses how the right is working to outlaw many forms of contraception.
The fact is, the right wing opposes all sex outside marriage. They are certainly entitled to this belief. However, they have no right to punish people who do not agree with them.
What they are trying to do is sinister and downright evil. They want women to die from the HPV virus because they are opposed to vaccination. They want women to unnecessarily get pregnant by opposing Plan B - the morning after pill. And they want gay and straight single people to die if they have sex, by misleading Americans on the effectiveness of condoms and pushing ineffective abstinence-only programs. These right wingers hold their dogma over the sanctity of human life.
It seems that fundamentalism has emerged as the biggest risk factor for unwanted pregnancy, abortion and AIDS. The sick and sad truth is, they actually want there to be severe consequences for sex outside marriage. They truly despise the notion that people can have fun without suffering. This is an old Calvinist mindset and helps explain why many of the fundamentalists I know always look so miserable.
Most honest Republicans now know that Bush is incompetent. As the president hit a lowly 32 percent in the polls, they are speaking out and telling the truth about their failed commander in chief. This is an election year, however, and Karl Rove is apparently ordering Republicans to put a lid on it. According to The New York Times
Republican and White House officials are also telling fellow Republicans that criticizing the president risks bringing the party down with him. At the same time, party officials have said they do not want the election to be a referendum on Mr. Bush.
Will the rare burst of Republican honesty subside? Can Rove get the genie back in the bottle? I think he has his work cut out for him, as even the most brainwashed partisans can't pretend that Bush is a worthy president.