Sunday, May 29, 2005

Comment of the Day

first. where are the facts.
where is the verifiable info that says 100 have died.
second. these people dont need Gitmo to create reasons to hate America. Please, If there was NO abuse, they would claim there was.

please stop the Gitmo BS!!!
These people cry about five complaints at Gitmo, while ignoring thousands of complaints in American prisons. What complete hypocritical morons!!

There will always be people who abuse others. The issue is, if they are punished, and if the behavior is allowed. Worse behavior is allowed in American prisons, than at Gitmo.
I have not heard about rape, or people getting shanked. American values mean something to you, start with AMERICANS!!!

Please, have some perspective. Every compliant is not legitimate.
Somebody says their Koran was flushed down a toilet, is not a crime against society. Get a grip.

What's interesting is that this person links to a homepage that in reality is a site that sells domains.

War on Terror, Good. Gitmo, Bad.

Tom Friedman makes a case for shutting down the prison at Guantanamo Bay and it's a good one. His basic belief is that he thinks the story of abuses going on is damaging our war on terror and I agree. I have no problem using force if necessary to stop terror. However, as a nation of laws, we have to do it within the law and more and more we are hearing stories of abuse that show that we are not living up to our own high standards.

Here's a money quote for those who think worrying about prisoner abuse is tantmount to not caring about the war on terror:

Why care? It's not because I am queasy about the war on terrorism. It is because I want to win the war on terrorism. And it is now obvious that the abuse at Guantanamo and within the whole U.S. military prison system dealing with terrorism is out of control. How is it that over 100 detainees have died in U.S. custody? Heart attacks? This is not just deeply immoral, it is strategically dangerous.

During the confirmation hearings for Antiono Gonzalez to Attorney General, Senator Lindsey Graham wondered aloud that all the reports of abuse could make us into the very thing we hate. Gonzalez quickly replied, "We are nothing like the terrorists." You hear that argument over and over, usually with talk of the fact that we don't behead our captives. Well, I'm glad for that, but it doesn't excuse the fact that we are democracy and we hold ourselves to laws. Those laws are our standards; not the actions of the bad guys. If we torture or disrespect our prisoners, then we are only providing more Mohammed Attas who will come after us, maybe on our own soil.

I want to see terrorism abated and Al Queda put out of business. However, we must do that by the law and not by the standard of the terrorists who give the term lowest common denominator, a whole new meaning. We can't win this war if we decide to trash our own rules.

Friday, May 27, 2005

Europe's Pragmatic Conservatives vs. North American Theocons

A few days ago, a fellow Republican and friend sent an email with a link from the BBC. The link was a profile on Angela Merkel the leader of the center-right Christian Democrats in Germany. If the calls for early elections holds, this 50-year old woman could be the first female German Chancellor. She's been called Germany's Margaret Thatcher because she like heads a conservative party. What's so interesting is that the leader of one of Europe's biggest conservative parties is in favor of legal rights for gay couples. She says she stands for family values, but don't expect her to be recieving any calls from Focus on the Family anytime soon. Here is what one of her fellow Christian Democats says:

"In former times, being married was important - now we talk of families being important, but not necessarily the marriage as an institution. Even in a gay relationship people take care of each other - that's a switch for a conservative party."

Even gay people take care of each other. Wow, you don't hear that much in conservative circles these days on this side of the Pond.

It gets better. The Christian Democrats ruling partner, the Free Democrats, is lead by a gay man. Not in the closet. Openly gay. The link to der Spiegel shows him and his attractive partner.

My friend also noted that even Britan's Conservative Party is tolerant of recognition of gay relationships.

Here in North America, we see that conservative parties are not as pragmatic on this issue as their European neighbors in regards to gays. You already know about the Republican Party, but it looks like Canada's Conservative Party is starting to take a page from the Republican playbook. The Globe and Mail reports that conservative Christian activists in the mold of Focus on the Family are winning party nominations in ridings (equivalent to our congressional districts) accross Canada. Some in the party are concerned. It should be known that the Party opposes same sex marriage at a time when Canada is on it's way to approving them.

I don't know why conservative parties in North America are so against gay marriage while those in Europe are not. I think a lot of it has to do with the role religion plays-Europe is more secular than North America and the also the religion that has strength in our side of the world is more exclusive and rigid.

All in all, it shows that homophobia and conservatism don't necessarily go hand in hand.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Thoughts From the Brink

I haven't said much on the whole "nuclear option." I think both parties behaved badly, the GOP being a bare winner in the slimefest. Frankly, I'm thankful that there was no nuclear option and that a compromise was reached. It's not perfect, but it will stop the Senate from becoming a war zone (if it isn't already). The downside: the Senate will likely approve William Pryor to the bench, who is known to be very anti-gay. However, the upside is far greater: a working Senate. In allowing Pricilla Owen, Janice Rodgers Brown and William Pryor to recieve and up or down vote, you'd think the far right would be happy. Wrong. Instead we hear supreme whining from them that they didn't everything they want. Listen to what James Dobson said of the deal:

"This Senate agreement represents a complete bailout and betrayal by a cabal of Republicans and a great victory for united Democrats. Only three of President Bush’s nominees will be given the courtesy of an up-or-down vote, and it's business as usual for all the rest. The rules that blocked conservative nominees remain in effect, and nothing of significance has changed. Justice Clarence Thomas, Justice Antonin Scalia, and Chief Justice William Rehnquist would never have served on the U. S. Supreme Court if this agreement had been in place during their confirmations. The unconstitutional filibuster survives in the arsenal of Senate liberals.

"We are grateful to Majority Leader Frist for courageously fighting to defend the vital principle of basic fairness. That principle has now gone down to defeat. We share the disappointment, outrage and sense of abandonment felt by millions of conservative Americans who helped put Republicans in power last November. I am certain that these voters will remember both Democrats and Republicans who betrayed their trust."

Oh please, Mr. Dobson. I didn't hear you complaining when the Republicans blocked nominees under President Clinton. He fails to mention that the Dems have actually passed a good number of the President's nominees. Yes, two may not get to be judges, but not every nominee gets an up or down vote. The GOP had every right to say they didn't like Clinton's nominees in ways other than a vote, and so do the Dems. What's disturbing is that Dobson and others on the far right expect that the Opposition should simply comply with what the majority says. What people like Dobson want at the very least is a content and happy minority acting in the words of anti-tax leader Grover Norquist like "fixed animals." I sometimes think at the very worst they want firing squads for anyone who doesn't see things their way.

All in all, I'm happy that centrism won the day. And I'm thankful for the "gang of 14" who worked for the interst of the grand institution and not narrow partisan interests.

For more on the filibuster shakedown, you might want to read my fellow moderate, Charging RINO. He has some worthwhile posts, here and here.

Professor Stephen Bainbridge also has a worthy take and a "get real" message to his fellow conservatives who are complaining about the compromise. He also uses a wonderful quote from conservative icon Russell Kirk that shows how far conservatives have strayed from their roots.

Saturday, May 21, 2005

"A Principled Decision"

A few days ago, someone posted a comment about recent post on gay marriage where I called those who actively oppose gay marriage bigots. He thought I was not being moderate in using that word. He went on to say they are worried that allowing same sex couples to marry would redefine marriage.

So, today we hear word from Maryland that Republican Governor Robert Erlich vetoed a bill that would have allowed some rights to be granted to same sex couples that hetrosexual couples already have. He thought the legislation "threatened the sancity of traditional marriage."

The legislation would have done the following:

Modeled after laws in California, Hawaii and other states, the legislation would have granted nearly a dozen rights to unmarried partners who register with the state. Among those: the right to be treated as an immediate family member during hospital visits, to make health care decisions for incapacitated partners and to have private visits in nursing homes.

To political cowards like Erlich and the social conservatives whose boots he is licking, I can only ask this: how is this Christian? How can one call themselves a Christian and yet deny someone access to their loved one when they are in the hospital? You can believe being gay is a sin, but does that mean that you treat the person as less than human? And how is this not bigoted? I would like to know where the "love" is in all of this.

Let's hear the story of one Maryland Lesbian:

A woman who could have benefited from the bill, Stacey Kargman-Kaye of Baltimore, said yesterday that she was heartbroken. "I don't understand how a human being who has a significant other and children could not see the need for this," she said.

Kargman-Kaye, 37, said that after she emerged from heart surgery five years ago, a nurse literally pushed away her longtime partner, who was there to support her, "because we're not considered a family in the eyes of Maryland."

This should make even social conservatives have some heart, but I guess they think all sinners deserve to be treated this way.

Erlich campaigned as a moderate, but this veto shows that he is not a centrist. One can be against gay marriage and yet see the need for some protections for people who don't fit the norm. A true moderate would have seen signed this into law as a pragmatic piece of legislation. Erlich caved into bigots, and Free Staters should remember that come 2006.

How I wish for a Russ Potts to challenge Erlich.

Friday, May 20, 2005

Foot in Mouth Disease Affects Republicans

The United States Senate has long been considered the world's greatest diliberative body. Unlike the fractious House, the Senate is supposed to be more genteel.

Well, you can throw that belief out the window.

Here, via the Moderate Voice are two examples where the GOP has decided to ditch comity in favor of demogogery:

On the same day that a federal judge whose family was assassinated testified to the Senate Judiciary Committee about courthouse safety, Sen. Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-TN) described Democratic efforts opposing some of President Bush’s judicial nominees as “leadership-led use of Cloture vote to kill, to defeat, to assassinate these nominees.”

Federal Judge Joan Lefkow was a target for assassination, and her husband and mother were murdered in February of this year. Democratic Whip Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) hammered Frist's comments and asked they be struck from the Senate record.

Durbin remarked, "When words are expressed during the court of the debate that those of us who oppose these nominees are setting out to 'kill, to defeat or to assassinate these nominees, those words should be taken from this record. Those words go too far."

Note to Senator Frist: Two appointees who don't get a vote on the full Senate floor is not equal to assasination. In light of the federal judge who lost her husband and mother to a crazed man and also the federal judge in Atlanta who was murdered, this statement is callous. It might please the far right lunatics who you think are the base of the GOP these days, but it will turn off moderates and swing voters-those people you need to keep the Senate GOP.

However the prize for most insensitive remark has to go to Senator Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania who decided to put all the yelling from Dems about axing the fillibuster in prespective:


I've never much liked when Democrats raise the specter of Hitler for every Republican action because it relativizes all the evil that Hitler committed. Well, this wasn't any better. The Senator should be ashamed for making such comments.

I don't know if the Dems should be using a tactic that was used by segregationists, but I also think that is their right if they don't think a nominee is well qualified.

Such harsh rhetoric, be it liberal or conservative, does nothing but play to the "red meat" crowd. It does nothing to advance our society. And it only shows how pathetic politics has become.

Monday, May 16, 2005

The Word from Massachusetts: Gay Marriage? Eh.

The Religious Right tends to blather on and on about how gay marriage will ruin American society. (It's always interesting to see how bigots think anything that is different will pollute their so-called pristine society.) Well, tomorrow marks one year since Massachusetts allow same-sex couples to marry and the result? Well, God hasn't destroyed the Bay State.

A special report by the Boston Globe shows that in the past 12 months support for gay marriage has grown from 40 percent in 2004 to 56 percent today. Also an amendment that would have banned gay marriage, but allowed for civil unions is losing ground in the state legislature with a number of lawmakers changing their minds on ending gay marriage. Why the change? Listen to what Republican Senator Brian Lees says:

Like the majority of those surveyed, Lees, the state Senate's ranking Republican, said the relative lack of apparent societal damage caused by the onset of same-sex marriage has given him pause -- even though he was a coauthor of the amendment before the Legislature. ''You've heard from many folks that this would be a huge problem for the Commonwealth, and none of those problems have arisen," Lees said.

The far right loves to talk about how doomsday will happen if same sex couples marry and in the end, Massachusetts is still Massachusetts. Life goes on.

This new normalcy hasn't kept the far right from trying to roll back gay marriage. If the amendment to ban gay marriage fails in 2006, they will gun for placing a total ban-marriage and civil unions- come 2008.

I think this reveals that the far right is not interested "protecting marriage." That was never the issue. Elton John getting married to his partner is not going to affect my parents' marriage of 37 years. The opponents of gay marriage are just the same old homophobes who would like to keep us all in the closet. They spread fear about two women or two men wanting to be married, when there is nothing to fear; we are Americans just like they are, who pay their taxes and uphold the laws.

As we see marriage rights take place in Massachusetts as well as civil unions in Vermont and Connecticut, we will see more and more that being gay is not a threat to society. And more and more the theocons will lose the argument. In my view, the fari right maybe winning battles right now, but in the long run, they will lose this war.

Saturday, May 14, 2005

And I Can't Get Married Because....

If you listen to the far right, they say that allowing gays to marry or enter into civil unions, American society as we know it will collapse. Of course, I think the far right is the bigger threat and here is proof positive that the radical right is filled with complete loonies.

A friend tip me off to an interview on Fox Radio where anti-abortion activist Neal Horsley talks about his, ummmm, interesting sexual past. Here is a partial transcript:

On May 5, 2005, anti-abortion extremist Neal Horsley was a guest on The Alan Colmes Show, a FOX News radio program. The topic was an interesting one - whether or not an internet service provider should allow Horsley to post the names of abortion doctors on his website. Horsley does that as a way of targeting them and one doctor has been killed. In the course of the interview, however, Colmes asked Horsley about his background, including a statement that he had admitted to engaging in homosexual and bestiality sex.

At first, Horsley laughed and said, "Just because it's printed in the media, people jump to believe it."

"Is it true?" Colmes asked.

"Hey, Alan, if you want to accuse me of having sex when I was a fool, I did everything that crossed my mind that looked like I..."

AC: "You had sex with animals?"

NH: "Absolutely. I was a fool. When you grow up on a farm in Georgia, your first girlfriend is a mule."

AC: "I'm not so sure that that is so."

NH: "You didn't grow up on a farm in Georgia, did you?"

AC: "Are you suggesting that everybody who grows up on a farm in Georgia has a mule as a girlfriend?"

NH: It has historically been the case. You people are so far removed from the reality... Welcome to domestic life on the farm..."

Colmes said he thought there were a lot of people in the audience who grew up on farms, are living on farms now, raising kids on farms and "and I don't think they are dating Elsie right now. You know what I'm saying?"

Horsley said, "You experiment with anything that moves when you are growing up sexually. You're naive. You know better than that... If it's warm and it's damp and it vibrates you might in fact have sex with it."

Okay, I need to take a shower.

So, if I want to enter into a marriage or like a marriage, I'm considered a threat. When Mr. Horsley talks about his past indescretions with Suzy the pig, it's brushed off as what he did when "he was a fool." He seems to act like everyone was humping farm animals in Georgia. I don't know what goes on down there, but I know a lot of people that grew up in rual areas in the Upper Midwest and I don't think I've heard of people doing it with Bossy the Cow.

Just something to think about when the far right talks about morals and values.

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

And They Call it Democracy

Sorry I haven't updated as much recently; work has kept me busy.

This story from E. J> Dionne caught my eye today. He talks about how the GOP is exacting revenge for how they were treated in the 90s. It's not the most interesting column until you get to the end. He quotes conservative activist, Grover Norquist who shares he thoughts about the Opposition:

"Once the minority of House and Senate are comfortable in their minority status, they will have no problem socializing with the Republicans," he told Richard Leiby of The Post. "Any farmer will tell you that certain animals run around and are unpleasant. But when they've been 'fixed,' then they are happy and sedate. They are contented and cheerful."

That gives "Loyal Opposition" a whole new meaning.

You know, I can disagree with the Democrats. I can even say that there stand patness on the whole Social Security debate is not the best tactic in the long run. But I also think that is their right to do in a democracy. The Opposition is supposed to oppose and present another view. They have every right to obstruct, just as Republicans would if we were in the minority. Oh and note to Grover, There will be a day that we will be in the minority. You see, there is this thing called elections and sometimes people don't always want the same party in power. Sometimes the majority party loses. That's called democracy.

Many in my party act like they won 90 percent of the vote. They feel that the Dems should just roll over and that they should do want they want. Okay, reality check. The GOP only won by three points in the presidential race. And yes, the GOP won majorities in both houses of Congress. But there are many who didn't vote GOP and they need to represented as well. If Grover wants a docile opposition, let him go to Egypt with it's faux democracy.

God help the GOP when the Dems get a brain and win. There is going to be hell to pay.

Saturday, May 07, 2005

Religious Right 1, Academic Freedom 0

Staunch Moderate blogged on Friday about a decision by a US District court judge which ruled a sex ed program unconstitutional and also promotes homosexuality. This means that the Montgomer County, Maryland Schools have to pull their sex-ed curriculum. A lawsuit was brought by two organizations on the Religious Right who believed the curriculum was biased in favor of homosexuality and dismissed a religious viewpoint.

Here is part of the judge's opinion:

Montgomery County Public Schools "open up the classroom to the subject of homosexuality, and specifically, the moral rightness of the homosexual lifestyle," the judge wrote in his decision.
"However, the Revised Curriculum presents only one view on the subject -- that homosexuality is a natural and morally correct lifestyle -- to the exclusion of other perspectives.
"The public interest is served by preventing [school officials] from promoting particular religious beliefs in the public schools and preventing [the officials] from disseminating one-sided information on a controversial topic," Judge Williams wrote.

There are so many things wrong with this. First, the people bringing suit only have are representing one religious viewpoint: that is, that homosexuality is sinful. Of course they won't say sinful, but that's what they will say in other words. Second, there are many people of faith who don't think homosexuality is sinful. Would their view be represented? I don't think so. If you are going to teach a religious viewpoint of homosexuality in a public school, then it should represent all religious viewpoints, not just fundamentalist Christians.

What makes me mad about this is that these far right activists don't give a damn about gays. They don't care that many gay teens face violence and discrimation and some take their own lives because they can't take people not liking them. These people talk about being Christians and yet act so unchristlike.

I don't believe in saying who is and who isn't a follower of Christ. As a Christian myself, I leave that up to God and try to love everyone-including the far right. But I do think they are a poor representative of what a Christian should be all about-loving God and our neighbors, be they straight or gay.

Friday, May 06, 2005

ABC accepts Focus Ad; Rejects UCC ad

If you want to see a profile in cowardice, look no further than ABC which is accepting an ad from Focus on the Family, a well-known group on the Religious Right, while rejecting an ad from the United Church of Christ, a liberal Protestant denomination that had an ad that showed different types of people were welcomed in their churches, including gays. ABC claimed the ad was "too controversial."

Now, I'm not saying that Focus on the Family should not have their ad shown. That is their right. However, it is showing a sheer lack of will to deem to women smiling as "controversial" and yet air an ad from a group whose leader, James Dobson has said hateful things regarding gays and lesbians.

Of course, if ABC pulled the Focus ad, the would expect a huge backlash from the far right. They knew they wouldn't expect that much by pulling the UCC ad. I think it's high time that we not only condemn a network like ABC for this act of hypocracy, but that we find ways of punishing them as well. A network that can make a hit out of horny suburban housewives really has very little to say when it bans an ad of two smiling lesbians.

You can see the ad here.

Thursday, May 05, 2005

God-Fearing Skeptics

David Brooks has an interesting column on the role of religion in public life. He uses our 16th President as an example of one who wasn't ashamed to exclaim his faith in God, but also struggled with doubt and uncertainty. This is a worthwhile quote:

Today, a lot of us are stuck in Lincoln's land. We reject the bland relativism of the militant secularists. We reject the smug ignorance of, say, a Robert Kuttner, who recently argued that the culture war is a contest between enlightened reason and dogmatic absolutism. But neither can we share the conviction of the orthodox believers, like the new pope, who find maximum freedom in obedience to eternal truth. We're a little nervous about the perfectionism that often infects evangelical politics, the rush to crash through procedural checks and balances in order to reach the point of maximum moral correctness.

Those of us stuck here in this wrestling-with-faith world find Lincoln to be our guide and navigator. Lincoln had enough firm conviction to lead a great moral crusade, but his zeal was tempered by doubt, and his governing style was dispassionate.

I can say that I am one of those people in the middle. Of course, being a minister, the sacred is a major part of my life. As a black minister, I stand in a tradition that thinks faith has something to say about what is going on in our world. Martin Luther King Jr. was an example of someone who spoke of his faith proudly and yet didn't try to topple the American way of government as some modern far right religionists have done.

I'm not comfortable with those who say that religion is a private matter. While it is a personal issue, it can't be private. Again, as an African American, I know that religion has always been a public matter. We can't leave our faith at home, it goes where we go. And yet, I am fearful of those on the Religious Right who exhibit some kind of chauvanism that seems more concerned with being right than with being loving.

Religion has been and still is a force for good in society. Brooks talks about all the good that evangelicals have done. Jews were a vital part of the civil rights movement. The problem to me is not if religion about if it should have role in public life, but what kind of role it should have. The Religious Right want religion to have the force of government to remake society to their own limited viewpoint. My view, and the view of others, I think, is more humble: religion must be the voice of moral persuasion; to argue for justice and care for those less well off. It's one where one can be devout, but also knows that we don't know everything and must make room for others. We aren't God, so we only know a bit of God's truth. That should make us more humble as we religious fold make our way in the public square.

I want to write more, but I have other things to do.

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Republicans against Delay

From Charging RINO:

It looks like some elder statesmen in the GOP are plotting to knock out Delay in next yeears GOP Primaries. According to story in Monday's Houston Chronicle, Pete McCloskey, a former moderate Republican rep from Nothren California along with 8 other former GOP congressmen are looking for someone to run against Delay, whom McCloskey called an "embarassment to the Republican Party."

McCloskey met with Michael Fjetland, who was run against Delay three times since 2000.

Message to Dems who think they can topple Delay: the newspaper reports that since the district is 60 percent Republican and Fjetland says that only a Republican has a chance at beating Delay. I tend to agree. Unless that Democrat is a "blue dog" there is no way someone from the party of the Donkey can beat Delay. The best way to beat a bad Elephant is to send in a righteous one, I say.

As they say in the blogosphere, developing....

Monday, May 02, 2005

Goings on in the Mod Blogosphere

I've been busy over the last few days, so I haven't been able to post. But here's what I've found pretty worthwhile to pass on:

Moderate Insurgency in the Old Dominion: Charging RINO reports on the candidacy of Russ Potts, a moderate Republican state senator who is running for Governor in Virginia as an independent. Potts has a hard road ahead of him. However, my girl, Christie Todd Whitman has come to Potts' resecue with some powerful words:

"There is a group that exerts a great deal of power right now in the party. I call them social fundamentalists to distinguish them from true conservatives. A true conservative in the Republican Party would be constantly looking for ways to ensure that government wasn't ever overreaching and coming into your life. There's a group now that can't find enough ways to get the federal government into your life."

Charging RINO has more about this brave man.

Social Security and the Democrats: In a brillant move, President Bush has offered a workable solution to deal with Social Security: trim benefits for middle and upper income workers and keeping benefits the same for low income workers. He actually made a hard decision: cut benefits for some, to help the less fortunate. Of course, the Dems are balking at this proposal, but they are now backed in a corner. They support helping the poor and not the well-off, so shouldn't they like this idea?

The Yellow Line has an interesting take on this on Friday and today. Also check out yesterday's Washington Post editorial on the issue.

From the "Gee, You Think?" Department: The Washington Post has an interesting article about how the so-called mandate Bush and the Republicans thought they had after last November isn't turning out like planned.

The Far Right's "New Math:" Via Andrew Sullivan, we find out that the homophobes have been playing fast and loose with the numbers involving gay foster parents. The Numbers Guy at the Wall Street Journal debunks the so-called study.

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