Monday, December 31, 2012

We Have A Deal...Sort Of

From L.A. Times:

The White House said a deal has been reached to avert the “fiscal cliff” and dispatched Vice President Joe Biden to Capitol Hill late Monday, an indication lawmakers were heading toward a possible late night vote on the deal that could stop the tax hikes and spending cuts in the “fiscal cliff.”

The major outstanding issue – how to handle the automatic spending cuts that are slated to begin on Wednesday – was resolved as the White House and Republicans agreed to a two-month delay, as well as a mix of additional revenues and spending cuts intended to offset the lost savings.

The agreement would give Congress time to try to find a permanent deficit-reduction solution...
If the Senate votes late Monday, the House could return to session. Or Boehner could push the vote to New Year’s Day which, in a political twist that had been discussed for months, is advantageous for the GOP. It would allow the tax rates to raise for a few hours as lawmaker return to vote not on tax hikes, but rather tax breaks, for most Americans...

It's Official, We're Going Over The Cliff!!!

From CNN:

An agreement to avert the fiscal cliff of automatic tax increases and spending cuts appeared "within sight," President Barack Obama said Monday, but lawmakers said nothing will pass Congress before a midnight deadline.

Senators were "very, very close" to a deal, having worked out an agreement on taxes, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said Monday afternoon. But the House of Representatives won't vote on any plans to avert the fiscal cliff on Monday, leaders have told members.

At the White House, Obama said the deal now on the table would prevent a tax increase for the overwhelming majority of Americans, extend the child tax and tuition credits for families as well as those for clean-energy companies, and extend unemployment benefits for 2 million people, Obama said.

But Obama did not sound hopeful a deal was imminent, saying he expected to remain at the White House for New Year's Eve as a midnight deadline neared.

"They are close, but they're not there yet," Obama said. "And one thing we can count on with respect to this Congress is that if there is even one second left before you have to do what you're supposed to do, they will use that last second."

Let's Raise Minimum Wage to 1968 Level

2012 In Four Minutes

Tweet of the Day: December 31, 2012

Jon Huntsman: GOP "Devoid Of A Soul"

Former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman (R), who ran for the Republican presidential nomination in 2012, had harsh words for his party in an interview published Sunday in Britain's Daily Telegraph.

"The party right now is a holding company that's devoid of a soul and it will be filled up with ideas over time and leaders will take their proper place," he said.

"We can't be known as a party that's fear-based and doesn't believe in math," he added. "In the end it will come down to a party that believes in opportunity for all our people, economic competitiveness and a strong dose of libertarianism."

Hunstman, who dropped out of the Republican race after coming in third in the New Hampshire primary, has criticized the rightward tilt of the party. In a recent interview with The Huffington Post, he took issue with the obstructionist policies of the GOP, describing them as "thwart the opposition, stymie the opposition, obfuscate, be a flamethrower, go out there and destroy the system, and here we are."

"In my party, compromise cannot be seen as analogous to treason, which it has been recently," he said.

Detroit Tiger: Gays Make Me "Uncomfortable"

"For me [Torri Hunter], as a Christian…I will be uncomfortable because in all my teachings and all my learning, biblically, it's not right," the former Angels outfielder told the publication. "It will be difficult and uncomfortable."

It isn't the first time the 37-year-old's remarks have sparked controversy. In 2010, he reportedly referred to dark-skinned Latino baseball players as "impostors" in a USA Today interview while discussing the changing demographics in baseball.

"People see dark faces out there, and the perception is that they're African-American. They're not us. They're impostors," he told Bob Nightengale. He went on to note, "As African-American players, we have a theory that baseball can go get an imitator and pass them off as us...It's like, 'Why should I get this kid from the South Side of Chicago and have Scott Boras represent him and pay him $5 million when you can get a Dominican guy for a bag of chips?'"

Top 5 Political Fumbles of 2012

Fiscal Cliff, Because GOP Fears Tea Party Primaries

...Most normal Americans will have very little patience with Republicans as they begin to realize that GOP Members of Congress are willing to risk throwing the country back into a recession because they are worried about being beaten in low turn out primaries by people who do a better job than they do appealing to the extreme right fringe of the American electorate - and to the far Right plutocrats that are all too willing to stoke right wing passion and anger. 

Nate Silver, of the New York Time's, argues in a recent column that one of the reasons for this phenomenon is the increasing polarization of the American electorate. That polarization translates in to fewer truly "swing" Congressional seats and an increasing number where Members are more concerned with primary challenges than they are with losing in a general election. He concludes that at this moment the number of solidly Republican seats is larger the number of solidly Democratic seats. 

This, he argues is partially a result of redistricting by Republican legislatures that packed Democrats into a limited number of districts in many states. But he also contends it results from increasing polarization of the electorate in general. And it is due to the fact that solidly Democratic urban areas have very high concentrations of Democrats, where Republican performing areas tend to have relatively lower concentrations of Republicans. These reasons help explain why, even though Democrats got more votes in House races this cycle than Republicans, Republicans still have more seats in the House...

Fox F**ks Up Again, Calls Westboro Left-Wing

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Tweet of the Day: December 29, 2012

Amending the Bible

An Interview With the Kissing Marine

Italy Starts Taxing the Catholic Church

Italy’s Catholic Church will be forced to pay taxes starting in 2013 after the EU pressured the country’s government to pass a controversial law stripping the Church of its historic property tax exemption.
The Catholic Church in Italy is excluded from paying taxes on its land if at least a part of a Church property is used non-commercially – for instance, a chapel in a bed-and-breakfast. “The regulatory framework will be definite by January 1, 2013 – the start of the fiscal year – and will fully respect the [European] Community law,” Italian premier Mario Monti’s government said in a statement…
The move could net Italy revenues of 500 million to 2 billion euros annually across the country, municipal government associations said. The extra income from previously exempt properties in Rome alone – including hotels, restaurants and sports centres – could reach 25.5 million euros a year…
The measure came after the country’s leadership decided in February to alter Italy’s property tax code, ending the Church’s longstanding privileges due to the severe debt crisis.
Last December, after new austerity measures were adopted in the country, 130,000 Italians signed an online petition urging the government to strip the Church of its tax exemption.
“It was time that they paid, too, with all the exemptions they’ve had throughout the years,” Marco Catalano, a 35-year-old shopkeeper in Rome, told the New York Times in February, adding that he goes to church twice a month. “They own the most beautiful buildings in downtown Rome, on Italian soil, and rent them out at market prices…

Friday, December 28, 2012

Dutch Catholics Leaving Over Marriage

AMSTERDAM (Reuters) - Thousands of Dutch Catholics are researching how they can leave the church in protest at its opposition to gay marriage, according to the creator of a website aimed at helping them find the information. 
Tom Roes, whose website allows people to download the documents needed to leave the church, said traffic on - "" - had soared from about 10 visits a day to more than 10,000 after Pope Benedict's latest denunciation of gay marriage this month. 
"Of course it's not possible to be 'de-baptized' because a baptism is an event, but this way people can unsubscribe or de-register themselves as Catholics," Roes told Reuters.
In a Christmas address to Vatican officials, the pope signaled the he was ready to forge alliances with other religions against gay marriage, saying the family was threatened "to its foundations" by attempts to change its "true structure".

Roes, a television director, said he left the church and set up his website partly because he was angry about the way the church downplayed or covered-up sexual abuse in Catholic orphanages, boarding schools and seminaries.

Scalia Too Biased To Rule On Marriage Equality

From The Advocate:

...Recusal is when a judge removes herself or himself from hearing a case because of an actual or perceived conflict of interest. So why should Scalia recuse himself? The answer lies in the fact that recusal isn’t just about conflict of interest, financial or otherwise. It’s more about Scalia’s impartiality and bias. In fact, those very words are in the law regarding the Judiciary and recusal, Title 28 of the US Code:
§ 455. Disqualification of justice, judge, or magistrate judge
(a) Any justice, judge, or magistrate judge of the United States shall disqualify himself in any proceeding in which his impartiality might reasonably be questioned.
(b) He shall also disqualify himself in the following circumstances:
(1) Where he has a personal bias or prejudice concerning a party…
Recently a Princeton student posed a great question to Scalia, asking if he regretted some harsh language he employed in LGBT rights cases. Not only did he not regret the language he used, he answered with a totally repugnant (Takei’s spot-on characterization) equating of homosexuality with…wait for it…murder:
"If we cannot have moral feelings against homosexuality,” Scalia retorted, “can we have it against murder? Can we have it against other things? Of course we can. I don’t apologize for the things I raised.”
Of course he quickly added that he wasn’t comparing homosexuality with murder, saying that he was making a reductio ad absurdum argument. But that is precisely what he did do by the very act of using “murder” to make the argument. He doesn’t get off the hook by doing something and then saying otherwise. So what language was he referring to? And is it bias?

What Does the Vatican Know About Marriage?

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Craziest GOP Legislative Proposals Of 2012

From Think Progress:

1. Outlawing the dollar.

Washington state lawmakers introduced a bill that would have outlawed the paper dollar, because “only gold and silver may be recognized as government legal tender.” This is just part and parcel of the extreme right’s continuing fascination with goldbuggery, a fascination to which the Republican party’s presidential candidates gladly pandered.

2. Striking the words ‘sea level rise.’

In Virginia, the Republican-led legislature commissioned a study to determine the impacts of man-made warming on the state’s shores, only to ban terms like “climate change” and “sea level rise,” deeming them “liberal code words.” And North Carolina Republicans voted to ignore studies that predict rapid sea level rise due to global warming.

5. Allowing citizens to shoot at cops.

The NRA pushed Republicans in Indiana to pass a law that allows any citizen to open fire on a “public servant” for “unlawful intrusion.” Police fear this means a citizen could shoot at a cop, then claim the cop was trying to enter his or her property.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Tweet of the Day: December 27, 2012

L.A. Gun Buyback Yields a Rocket Launcher (Etc)

From the L.A.Times:

A one-day gun buyback event in Los Angeles on Wednesday gathered 2,037 firearms, including 75 assault weapons and a rocket launcher, officials said. The total was nearly 400 more weapons than were collected in a similar buyback earlier this year.
Police Chief Charlie Beck said it was the most successful gun buyback event since the city began the program.

"Those are weapons of war, weapons of death," Beck said, motioning to a selection of military-style weapons on a display table. "These are not hunting guns. These are not target guns. These are made to put high-velocity, extremely deadly, long-range rounds downrange as quickly as possible, and they have no place in our great city."

Beck acknowledged that the weapons would not be checked for connections to crimes before being melted down. He said the sheer number would make that difficult, and he does not want to deter people from turning in firearms.

Gun Control Strategy: Tax (Some) Bullets

GOP Strategist: NRA Is Out Of Touch

Marriage News Watch: Year in Review

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Tweet of the Day: December 26, 2012

Should We Profile Young White Men?

Minimum Wage Hike

From the Huffington Post:

New Years Day will bring a small pay bump to some of the lowest-paid American workers, with 10 states set to hike their minimum wages for 2013.

Nearly a million low-wage workers will see their earnings rise because of the increases, most of which come courtesy of state cost-of-living adjustments that account for inflation. Washington State will once again have the highest minimum wage in the nation, at $9.19 per hour, after a raise of 15 cents for the new year. The other states raising their wage floors are Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Missouri, Montana, Ohio, Oregon, Rhode Island and Vermont.

The federal minimum wage remains $7.25 per hour, with no cost-of-living adjustment, and prevails in 31 states that do not mandate a higher state minimum wage. The last raise to the federal minimum came in 2009, after a series of increases signed into law by President George W. Bush.

For roughly 855,000 low-wage workers, the new state minimum wages will be higher than their current wage levels, translating into an immediate raise, according to the Economic Policy Institute, a left-leaning think tank. EPI estimates that another 140,000 people will benefit indirectly from the wage hikes, due to pay scales being upwardly adjusted.

The raises will be between 10 and 35 cents per hour and will translate into an extra $200 to $500 per year for minimum-wage earners -- a not-insignificant sum for workers bringing home $15,000 per year or less.
Hopefully this helps those people in case we go over the fiscal cliff.

Curing Homosexuality With Horses?

An American church is promising gay men they will be cured of their homosexuality if they stroke horses.

The Cowboy Church of Virginia, led by chief pastor Raymond Bell, believes homosexuality and other ‘addictions’ can be cured by Equine Assisted Psychotherapy.

Horse therapy, in the right hands, can be used to help overcome fears, develop communication skills, and is generally beneficial to mental health.

But Bell says the horses in his church, a cowboy ranch in the south, are part of teaching men to stop being gay and encourage them to be more masculine.

‘EAP can help any person who is living the homosexual lifestyle or involved in it in anyway,’ he told Gay Star News.
In other words, social conservatives have reached new levels of crazy, stupid, and bigotry. Hat tricks aren't all they're cracked up to be.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Romney Didn't Want The Job

From the Huffington Post:

Tagg Romney said his father "wanted to be president less than anyone I've met in my life," according to the Boston Globe.

“He had no desire,” the eldest Romney son said. “If he could have found someone else to take his place ... he would have been ecstatic to step aside. He is a very private person who loves his family deeply and wants to be with them, but he has deep faith in God and he loves his country, but he doesn’t love the attention."

Tagg Romney told the paper that his father was resistant to running because of his unsuccessful 2008 bid for president. 

I have no idea why someone would run for president if they did not actually want the job. It seems like one of the stupidest things in the world to do. Campaigning, fundraising, the extreme invasion of privacy, and so much more are things that one has to deal with when running for higher office, especially the highest office. It is not for the faint of heart, nor is it for private people.

This has to be a slap in the face for Republicans and conservatives. Many people n the right did not even want him to win the nomination. Many people questioned his conservative bonifides. Many people noted that he has had multiple positions on a host of issues. In a lot of ways, there were other candidates that were more tried and true conservatives compared with Mitt Romney and trult wanted the job. I would even submit that there were candidates that may have been better suited to tackling President Obama's re-election bid.

I honestly do not even understand why Republicans chose Mitt Romney as their nominee. I guess they thought that because of his supposed business acumen he was better suited to fixing the economy. Perhaps they thought he would be best able to take down President Obama. I do know, having talked with some Romney supporters, there was the "anyone but Obama" mentality that was prevalent on the right (similar to the left's anyone but Bush mentality in '04 which yielded similar electoral results to '12). Apparently, the guy they chose did not even want the job.

The real lesson here is for those who plan on running for office in the future. Do not run unless your heart is actually in it. A half-assed campaign will be the result and those tend to be obvious to voters. You will only make a fool of yourself and whatever supporters you end up garnering. I doubt anyone wants to take the election pounding that Mitt Romney took. You're either all in, or all out.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Shooting Deaths Since Sandy Hook

From the Huffington Post:

This week, as mourners gathered in Newtown, Conn., to bury Sandy Hook Elementary's dead, and a nation renewed its debate over guns, the shootings did not stop. The Huffington Post spent the week tracking gun-related homicides and accidents throughout the U.S., logging more than 100 from Google and Nexis searches. This is by no means a definitive tally. In 2010, there were more than twice that many homicides alone in an average week. 

There were murder-suicides. One was shot in the face while sleeping, a baby sound asleep in a crib nearby. One was a grandmother on her way home from a store.

On Saturday afternoon, a 3-year-old in Guthrie, Okla., died after accidentally shooting himself in the head with a gun he found inside his aunt and uncle's house. His uncle is Oklahoma state trooper. 

"Nobody should have to go through something like that," a resident said during a candlelight vigil for the boy. An aunt at the vigil said, "We are all so close to him. My brother here visited him three times a week and my mom babysat him twice a week."

Paul Sampleton Jr., 14, was bound and shot in his Gwinnett County, Ga., townhome on Wednesday afternoon. His father found him in the kitchen. Police suspect a robbery motive.

"He was smiling, listening to music," a friend recalled to a local reporter. "He got on his bus, I got on mine. We were all happy."

A 20-year-old man shot and killed Veronica Soto, a young mother of two, in an apparent road rage incident on Thursday. Soto and her husband had gone out to a nearby Jack in the Box in the Houston area when they became involved in a confrontation with drivers in two other cars. The accused killer Mark Trevino, and the victim's husband pulled guns.

"Investigators said Mark Trevino came to a stop, ran into his home on Addicks-Clodine, grabbed a rifle and started shooting. Soto was shot in the head. Her husband also pulled out his gun. 'They started shooting back and forth and the bullet went through the windshield, hit her and went out the back windshield,' said Matthew Soto, the victim’s brother-in-law," reported a Houston television station.

The station continued: "Soto’s distraught husband drove to his sister-in-law’s house on Las Brisas near Plaza Libre for help, but it was too late. The mother collapsed and died at the scene."

Soto had two daughters, ages 7 and 14. She just turned 30.
 Of course we don't need gun control. *eye roll* Unfortunately, there are many more death recounted in the full article. When will people (some people) pull their heads out of the sand and realize that there is a problem here? How many (more) innocent people need to die?

The Armed Guard Hypocrisy

Letters From the Front: The War On Christmas

Saturday, December 22, 2012

GOP Congressman Supports DoMA Repeal

Rep. Richard Hanna (R-NY)
From the Advocate:

“New York State allows all its citizens the freedom to marry the person they love,” he said. “Under the Tenth Amendment, the federal government has a Constitutional responsibility to respect New York’s right to set its own laws. It’s my job to see that it does.

“It is right to extend equal protection under federal law to all couples who are legally married without infringing upon religious freedom and beliefs,” Hanna continued. “This legislation does not tell states who can be married or who must be treated as married, nor does it require any religious institution to violate their own convictions.

“I respect the deeply held beliefs on both sides of this issue,” he said. “The simple fact remains that the federal government has a responsibility to ensure all legally married couples are treated equally under federal law – and this bill would achieve that proper standard.”

His announcement continues the sea change taking place around the measure that passed both houses of Congress by large majorities 16 years ago and was signed into law by President Bill Clinton. Hanna joins Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen of Florida, the first Republican lawmaker to back DOMA repeal. Fifteen months have elapsed since her trailblazing statement, but advocates hope more endorsements will come more quickly now as the GOP grapples with a rapidly changing cultural and political landscape thrown into sharp relief by the recent election.

A Note to The NRA

NRA Suggests Fascist Measures Against Mentally Ill

Friday, December 21, 2012

Conservatives Disagree on Gun Control

For the record, I'm with Scarborough on this one (I can't say that very often). This other congressman is a disingenuous hypocrite.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Dissing Obamacare is Bad For Business

Newt Gingrich on Conservatives & Marriage Equality

From Examiner:

I think that this will be much more difficult than immigration for conservatism to come to grips with. It is in every family. It is in every community. The momentum is clearly now in the direction in finding some way to ... accommodate and deal with reality. And the reality is going to be that in a number of American states -- and it will be more after 2014 -- gay relationships will be legal, period.
Three things I want to point out. First, he stopped short of saying he is in favour of marriage equality, he just stated that the reality is that this is most likely going to happen and conservatives need to adjust accordingly. Second, notice how he says "gay relationships will be legal." Technically, gay relationships are already legal. It is same-sex marriages that would be legally recognized. He is still hedging on calling same-sex unions actual marriages.

Third, I remember while he was still running for the GOP nomination months ago that he said same-sex marriage was a temporary aberration, implying that the move towards full equality for same-sex couples would fizzle out. Now he has apparently turned a 180 on that. To be honest, I believe that he was lying about his view in the first instance, trying to get social conservatives on his side in that race. Obviously if he had said they were going to lose in this particular issue, social conservatives would have immediately flocked to another candidate (most likely Santorum). That's the problem with making blatantly false statements when all of the evidence speaks to the contrary: you wind up needing a towel to clean the egg off of your face.

Even given his concession on the marriage issue in this statement, I still find this man loathsome for the reasons laid out here and so very much more (i.e. his serial adultery while banging on about the sanctity of marriage). I get the feeling that it is only a matter of time before he says something in favour of fighting against our goal of marriage equality. The man is anything but trustworthy.

Americans: The GOP Has Gone Too Far

From the Huffington Post:

For the first time, a majority of Americans now say the Republican Party is too extreme, according to a poll released Thursday by CNN/ORC.

Fifty-three percent of people, including 22 percent of Republicans, said the GOP's views and policies have pushed them beyond the mainstream. The number is up dramatically from previous years. In 2010, fewer than 40 percent thought the party was too extreme.

Democrats were considered to be a "generally mainstream" party by 57 percent in the new poll.

"That's due in part to the fact that the Republican brand is not doing all that well," said Keating Holland, CNN's polling director.

Americans also say that they have far more confidence in President Barack Obama than in congressional Republicans, and that Republicans should compromise more in finding bipartisan solutions.

Fox Interviews Santa Claus on the War On Christmas

Are we supposed to take Fox seriously with this crap?

Gun Nut: Kids Should Have Gang-Rushed the Shooter

My guess is that we’re going to get a law anyway, and my hope is that it will consist of small measures that might have some tiny actual effect, like restrictions on magazine capacity.  I’d also like us to encourage people to gang rush shooters, rather than following their instincts to hide; if we drilled it into young people that the correct thing to do is for everyone to instantly run at the guy with the gun, these sorts of mass shootings would be less deadly, because even a guy with a very powerful weapon can be brought down by 8-12 unarmed bodies piling on him at once.  Would it work?  Would people do it?  I have no idea; all I can say is that both these things would be more effective than banning rifles with pistol grips.
This is one of the worst, stupidest, and mist shameful things anyone has said in the wake of this tragedy. Expecting 5, 6, 7 year-olds to rush a shooter? This is a new low in both gun-nuttery and right-wing nut-jobbery.

God Is Mad At The Gays?

From the Huffington Post:

...Let us, for one minute, assume that Mr. Dobson is correct and God has allowed children to be slain as retribution for America's permissiveness of homosexuality. If this were true, then God would be pretty stupid, don't you think? I am a teacher, and I know that if your examples are obtuse and incomprehensible, then you are not communicating clearly, and your students will not learn the lesson you are teaching. When people heard about the terrible happenings in Newtown, no one's first thought was, "Oh, I get it! Those children are dead because God is mad at me for wanting homos to marry." No. Instead, people thought about gun control. Mostly, people were staggered by the senselessness of it all. So if God wanted us to make a correlation between the shootings and gay marriage, he was ineffective. Perhaps this is why Mr. Dobson feels the need to speak out. His God is so brainless and incompetent that Dobson feels compelled to paint pictures for the rest of us.

Tell us, Mr. Dobson, where did you get this inside information? Can you explain why homosexuality is the thing that sets God off on a vindictive rampage? (Well, that and abortion, as you repeat often.) Is God not upset about war? Abuse? Slavery? Is he not pissed off that many people ignore a whole bunch of those 10 commandments that he crafted so carefully? I do not recall homosexuality being mentioned on that list, by the way...

Governor Rick Scott Sinking in Florida

From the Huffington Post:

Most Florida voters, including Republicans, would like to see Gov. Rick Scott (R) challenged in 2014, according to a poll released Wednesday by Quinnipiac University.

More than half of voters said Scott didn't deserve a second term, and 55 percent, including 53 percent of Republicans, wanted another candidate to challenge the governor in a primary. Scott's approval ratings, though improved from 2011, were also underwater.

Voters were more likely than not to say they liked Scott as a person, but just a third said they approved of most of his policies.

"Gov. Rick Scott's ratings with voters are just plain awful. The numbers cannot be sugar-coated," Quinnipiac's assistant director of polling, Peter A. Brown, said, noting that the only silver lining for the GOP was the chance of finding a more electable nominee. "When voters in a politician's own party want him to be challenged in a primary by another candidate, it's difficult to see it as anything but outright rejection."

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Another Virginia Republican For Guns In Schools

Have Armed Civilians Stopped Mass Shootings?


A Republican congressman responded to the Newtown shootings by calling for more citizens to be armed. “I wish to God she had had an M-4 in her office,” Rep. Louie Gohmert of Texas said on Fox News on Sunday, referring to the Sandy Hook principal who was killed while lunging at shooter Adam Lanza. Have armed citizens ever successfully intervened to bring down a potential mass shooter?

Yes, but it’s rare. Often it’s not clear whether brave actions on the part of armed civilians prevented further death. In 2006, assistant principal Joel Myrick used a handgun to stop fleeing school shooter Luke Woodham. Woodham, who had killed his mother that morning, murdered two students and wounded several others before Myrick, an Army reservist, rammed his car into Woodham’s and then forced him to the ground. At a 1998 shooting at a middle-school dance in a Pennsylvania restaurant, which left one teacher dead and three other people wounded, restaurant owner James Strand took out a shotgun and chased down the teen shooter before persuading him to give up his weapon. After 51-year-old teacher Carl Brown opened fire on a Miami welding shop in 1982, killing eight, a man nearby grabbed his gun, jumped in his car, and chased Brown as he fled on his bicycle. The pursuer fired what he said was a warning shot, striking  Brown in the back, and then ran Brown into a light pole. (Dade County State’s Attorney Janet Reno concluded that the pursuer had used “justifiable force.”) Not all interventions are successful: Other armed civilians who have attempted to stop shootings have been left severely injured or have been killed.

Gov. Rick Scott (R-FL) Dodges Gun Questions

Clearly he does not want to address the gun related issue for fear of angering his NRA overlords. When will politicians realize that there are more important things than politics like, oh say, the lives of children? Overall, this guy sounds so disingenuous that it makes me absolutely sick.

"Unbelievably Stupid" Gun Leader

And here, we have another example of a gun nut.

Employment Non-Discrimination in 2013?

Rep. Jared Polis (D-CO)
From Buzzfeed:

[Rep. Jared] Polis, from the perspective of the House, pointed to the importance of a Senate vote for the difficulties in the House. "Clearly, momentum on ENDA from the Senate, including if it passes the Senate in a bipartisan fashion, would put the pressure even more squarely on House leadership and committee leadership in the House to move on this bill to end workplace discrimination," he said. "If the Senate can pass ENDA, that squarely puts pressure on House leadership to do something that has broad, widespread, overwhelming support across our country. Most Americans agree that, regardless of their own personal opinions about sexual orientation, people should not be fired from their job just because of their sexual orientation or gender identity."

On that front, both [Sen. Jeff] Merkley and Polis pushed at the White House and Obama to take action on the executive order that he declined to sign in April. The order, which is modeled after an existing executive order signed by President Lyndon Baines Johnson, bars federal contractors doing more than $10,000 in business with the federal government from discriminating on the basis of race, color, religion, sex or national origin.

New Jersey to Move On Reparative Therapy

From The Advocate:

Senate President Steve Sweeney, a sponsor of the measure, said the idea for the ban arose when he heard testimony about the therapy during the debate on the marriage equality bill and “almost fell off my seat.” He said the practice reminded him of “something out of the 1950s,” where he drew a comparison to “bomb shelters and shock therapy” in a telephone interview with The Advocate on Friday.

“It’s something that I can’t believe still exists,” he said. “We’re not going to let it exist in New Jersey.”
Conversion therapy, also known as “reparative” therapy, has been denounced by professional groups including the American Psychological Association, which warn it can increase the likelihood of depression and suicide. The proposed legislation in New Jersey would prohibit psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers, and other counseling professionals from using the practice on patients under 18 years old.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell Fails on Guns

From the Roanoke Times:

Gov. Bob McDonnell said this morning that allowing public school employees to carry firearms is an idea worth discussing in the aftermath of last week’s mass shooting at a Connecticut elementary school.

McDonnell addressed gun laws and school safety policies during an appearance on WTOP radio in Washington, D.C. He was asked during the program if Virginia should consider allowing teachers, supervisors and principals to be armed inside of school buildings.

“I know there’s been a knee-jerk reaction against that,” McDonnell said. “ I think there should at least be a discussion of that. If people were armed, not just a police officer but other school officials who were trained and chose to have a weapon, certainly there would have been an opportunity to stop aggressors coming into the school. So I think that’s a reasonable discussion that ought to be had.”

McDonnell stopped short of endorsing the idea. But, he said, there have been similar debates about allowing airline pilots to be armed and, after the 2007 mass shootings at Virginia Tech, about allowing university employees to have concealed handguns on campus.

Proof That More Guns Are NOT The Answer

A Map of Global School Shooting Incidents

Of course we don't have a gun control problem...

Marriage Equality Vote In Rhode Island

In an interview last month, Fox cited gains in the state’s General Assembly and gay marriage victories around the U.S. as evidence that the public supports allowing same-sex couples to wed.

’’This election shows there’s been a real change on this issue,’’ he said. ’’I’m hopeful. There’s definitely a trend here. There’s a wave, and we should ride it.’’

Ray Sullivan, campaign director for Marriage Equality Rhode Island, the lead organization in the fight for equal marriage rights for gay couples in the state, said in a statement Monday his group is ’’excited and grateful’’ that Paiva Weed expects a Senate committee vote. 

While calling it another step in the right direction, he stressed that his group will continue its push until a same-sex marriage bill is signed into law.

Gay marriage is legal, or will be soon, in nine states - Maine, Maryland, Washington, Connecticut, Iowa, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York and Vermont - and in the District of Columbia.

Rhode Island is the only state in New England that does not allow gay marriage. The state recognizes gay marriages performed elsewhere, following an executive order by Chafee, who supports gay marriage.

Chafee said last week he very much wants to sign a gay-marriage bill.

What Is A Gun Nut?

Earlier today in response to a post that I placed on Facebook (Gun Nuts STILL Not Getting It), I was asked what exactly is a gun nut?

A lot of times, especially in political arguments, names get thrown around to the point that no one really knows what said names really refer to. Honestly, I have never really given thought to what the phrase "gun nut" truly means despite having heard it numerous times, which is why I generally do not use that specific term. This begs the question why I used it this particular time?

First off, this is an obviously subjective assessment since I am sure "gun nut" is not really in any dictionary.

If you actually go to the post (linked above) and watch the embedded video, you will see a prime example of what constitutes gun-nuttery. In the video is a man who, after what happened in Connecticut last week says that there should be no gun laws at all. Zero. Zilch. None!!! In essence, he is saying that everyone should be able to have guns, no matter what kind of gun, no matter how many guns, and all of those guns should be allowed everywhere.

This particular extreme is not the threshold for what a gun nut is. More generally, a gun nut could be anyone who reflexively balks at the idea of even reasonable gun-related laws and says that such laws are an assault against the second amendment to the United States Constitution. One could also say that a gun nut is someone who in the wake of a mass shooting proceeds to blame a host of things and people but will not blame access to guns at all, someone who does not recognize the role that guns and access to them plays in the losses of life in mass shootings. However, my aforementioned use of the term, given its radical nature and the emphatic way in which this man advocates for there being ABSOLUTELY no gun laws, more than suffices for the use of the phrase "gun nut" to describe him.

Gun Nuts STILL Not Getting It

The Conservative Re-Interpretation of the 2nd Amendment

For more than a hundred years, the answer was clear, even if the words of the amendment itself were not. The text of the amendment is divided into two clauses and is, as a whole, ungrammatical: “A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.” The courts had found that the first part, the “militia clause,” trumped the second part, the “bear arms” clause. In other words, according to the Supreme Court, and the lower courts as well, the amendment conferred on state militias a right to bear arms—but did not give individuals a right to own or carry a weapon. 

Enter the modern National Rifle Association. Before the nineteen-seventies, the N.R.A. had been devoted mostly to non-political issues, like gun safety. But a coup d’état at the group’s annual convention in 1977 brought a group of committed political conservatives to power—as part of the leading edge of the new, more rightward-leaning Republican Party. (Jill Lepore recounted this history in a recent piece for The New Yorker.) The new group pushed for a novel interpretation of the Second Amendment, one that gave individuals, not just militias, the right to bear arms. It was an uphill struggle. At first, their views were widely scorned. Chief Justice Warren E. Burger, who was no liberal, mocked the individual-rights theory of the amendment as “a fraud."
The re-interpretation of the Second Amendment was an elaborate and brilliantly executed political operation, inside and outside of government. Ronald Reagan’s election in 1980 brought a gun-rights enthusiast to the White House. At the same time, Orrin Hatch, the Utah Republican, became chairman of an important subcommittee of the Senate Judiciary Committee, and he commissioned a report that claimed to find “clear—and long lost—proof that the second amendment to our Constitution was intended as an individual right of the American citizen to keep and carry arms in a peaceful manner, for protection of himself, his family, and his freedoms.” The N.R.A. began commissioning academic studies aimed at proving the same conclusion. An outré constitutional theory, rejected even by the establishment of the Republican Party, evolved, through brute political force, into the conservative conventional wisdom.

And so, eventually, this theory became the law of the land. In District of Columbia v. Heller, decided in 2008, the Supreme Court embraced the individual-rights view of the Second Amendment. It was a triumph above all for Justice Antonin Scalia, the author of the opinion, but it required him to craft a thoroughly political compromise. In the eighteenth century, militias were proto-military operations, and their members had to obtain the best military hardware of the day. But Scalia could not create, in the twenty-first century, an individual right to contemporary military weapons—like tanks and Stinger missiles. In light of this, Scalia conjured a rule that said D.C. could not ban handguns because “handguns are the most popular weapon chosen by Americans for self-defense in the home, and a complete prohibition of their use is invalid."

Anonymous Declares War on Westboro

Monday, December 17, 2012

3 Years in Jail For Being Gay

From the New York Times:

Activists said the court's ruling in Yaounde, the capital, marked yet another setback for gays and lesbians in Cameroon, widely viewed as the most repressive country in Africa when it comes to prosecuting same-sex couples. 

Jean-Claude Roger Mbede, 32, had been provisionally released on bail in July after serving a year and a half in prison. His lawyer has 10 days now to file an appeal to the country's Supreme Court. 

Holding back tears Monday, he said he wasn't sure whether he could withstand more jail time given the conditions he faced there. 

"I am going back to the dismal conditions that got me critically ill before I was temporarily released for medical reasons," he told The Associated Press by telephone. "I am not sure I can put up with the anti-gay attacks and harassment I underwent at the hands of fellow inmates and prison authorities on account of my perceived and unproven sexual orientation. The justice system in this country is just so unfair."
Note to self: never set foot in Cameroon.

Marriage News Watch: December 17, 2012

NRA Invokes Radio Silence

From Slate:

On Dec. 14, the day an armed citizen killed 26 unarmed women and children at a Connecticut elementary school, the NRA's Twitter account went silent. It has not tweeted since. Meanwhile, its Facebook page has disappeared, along with those 1.7 million "likes." Navigating to now redirects to the Facebook homepage.

The Daily Dot noted on Friday that the Facebook page had turned into a hotbed of anti-gun sentiment in the wake of the shooting, which may be what prompted the NRA to take it down. TechCrunch's Josh Constine surmises that the organization used Facebook's "page visibility" setting to temporarily unpublish its page. That makes it inaccessible to the public but leaves the account intact so that it can go live again once tempers have cooled. Here's TechCrunch's Constine on the rationale behind the tactic:
Some have accused the organization of cowardice for taking down the Page and ceasing to tweet. However, this crisis-management strategy may be succeeding. It’s prevented creating a centralized place under the NRA banner where perspectives of its independent supporters could have been taken as its own. The last thing the NRA wants is to be characterized as sharing an extremist or offensive position posted by someone who doesn’t speak for it or the rest of its fans. Other brands and organizations might follow the NRA’s lead by retreating from social media when they face times of crisis.
Silence in the face of tragedy is the NRA's modus operandi, as Buzzfeed's Andrew Kaczynski points out. But taking its Facebook page offline may be a first. The question now is how long it will have to wait before resuming its posts and tweets about giveaways and gun-related news stories. My guess is it could be a while.

Being Gay Is Just A Political Statement

Glenn Stanton (of Focus on the Family): First of all, we need to understand that “gay” and “lesbian” really are — to use the language of feminist studies people — a cultural construct… “Gay” and “lesbian” are very new kinds of things. Yes, there’s always been homosexuality in human experience, but it was typically something that heterosexuals… did to another person.
“Gay” and “lesbian” are really sort of sociological or political statements or identifications… It’s the signing on to a political sexual sort of agenda… There are lots of people who have homosexual or same-sex orientations that just don’t identify themselves as “gay” or “lesbian” because again, “gay” or “lesbian” is a social political sort of identity
Being “gay” or being “lesbian” is a thing that’s only been present in maybe the past 50 years or so.

Yes, there are people this stupid and hateful in the world.

McCain, Graham, & Lieberman on Marriage Equality

-First. Senators Lieberman and McCain make the claim that the issue of marriage equality should be left up to the states vis-a-vis the tenth Amendment to the United States constitution. The People who hold this view should, as such, also be against the federal Defense of Marriage Act. The problem is that they are NOT against DoMA They are talking out of both sides of their mouths as hypocrites tend to do. Also, in terms of the states rights argument, when we are talking about civil liberties, that does not really hold water. How many states would still have slavery if we waited for states to nullify that practice? how many states would have Jim Crow laws still on the books? How many states would still have interracial marriage as illegal? How many states would not allow women to vote?

-Second. Senator Graham mentions religion. The problem here is that America is not a theocracy, so ones religious view in terms of law are essentially moot.

-Third. Senator Graham then goes on to conflate the issue of marriage equality for same-sex couple with polygamy. Since there is currently no legal grounds for polygamy whereas we currently have established marriage rights for two people, again the question Graham poses is moot (Straw Man). Polygamy is a separate debate. 

-Fourth. Senator McCain also brings up religious beliefs. I have mentioned this in previous blog posts but I will mention it again. While yes some people's interpretation leads them to be AGAINST marriage equality, there are some whose interpretation leads them to be FOR marriage equality. Thus, banning marriage equality goes against their religious beliefs. In other words, BANNING MARRIAGE EQUALITY INFRINGES UPON PEOPLE'S RELIGIOUS FREEDOM. Again, we have right-wing hypocrisy. Social conservatives argue for their own religious freedom but against that of people with other religious beliefs.

-Fifth. Senator Graham, like many of his compatriots on the right, advocates for voting on marriage equality. The problem with having the majority vote on the rights of the minority is that the minority has an inherent disadvantage. This is what history tells us. The founder were keenly aware of the possibility of this in a democratic society when they were forming this nation. There is a term for this phenomenon: majority tyranny. The right has been advocating this for years when it comes to LGBT equality. The fact that Graham is for this shows that he has little understand of the founders' intentions.

-Lastly, Senator Lieberman mentions that in his state of Connecticut where marriage equality is the law, there has been no substantive change except that same-sex couples have the same legal rights (at least at the state level, remember DoMA) as their heterosexual counterparts. I could not help but notice that the Republicans flanking him said nothing against that statement, probably because he is right. In places where marriage equality is the law, the marriages and rights of those against equality have not changed, but the lives of same-sex couples have been bettered. That is the real point of all of this, and that is why marriage equality should be the law EVERYWHERE.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Tweet of the Day: December 15, 2012

Is Robert Griffin III "Black Enough?"

Twitter Watch: Gun Law Logic

Marriage Equality in El Caribe (Thank The Dutch)

From the Washington Post:

As part of the Netherlands Kingdom, the islands of Saba, Bonaire and St. Eustatius have to recognize same-sex marriages. While Bonaire and St. Eustatius have balked at the idea of legalizing such unions, the idea has been embraced in Saba, long considered a gay-friendly destination.

“We’ve seen it as a human rights issue,” said Saba council member Carl Buncamper, who is openly gay. “It is important to give the partners equal rights when it comes to inheritance and other benefits.”

Dozens of gay couples cheered Saba’s unprecedented step, noting that gays often face taunts, threats and even death elsewhere in the Caribbean, with many islands enforcing so-called buggery laws implemented in colonial times. Some islands also have tried to amend their constitution to establish that marriage should only be between a man and a woman.

While Saba currently stands alone in approving same-sex marriages, Bonaire and St. Eustatius are expected to follow.

Lowlights & Highlights: December 14, 2012

We have this idea that judges are men and women of very high intellect, smarter than your average person. Given that they often hold the fates of people in their hands, this is the hope. It turns out that reality is far less pleasant and some of these judges are idiots. Take Supreme Court justice Antonin Scalia for example. When asked by Princeton student Duncan Hosie about marriage equality, Justice Scalia compared laws banning marriage equality to laws against bestiality and murder.

Such comparisons are standard fair from conservative people, conservative politicians, etc (and for the record, Scalia is considered a conservative jurist). These people do so to scare people who do not know any better into being against marriage equality specifically and homosexuality/LGBT equality in general. A Supreme Court justice should know better. They should look at actual facts instead of dogma, they should look at law and not personal prejudices. The difference between murder and bestiality on the one hand and marriage equality on the other should be self-evident for anyone with functioning neurons. Scalia is clearly lacking in this department. Obviously murder is the act of taking the life of another in cold blood, and murder and bestiality are both acts that involve something happening to another with no legal consent. What do either have to do with a consensual relationship between two people of the same gender? Absolutely nothing. I did not have to go to law school or take a bar exam to understand this. All it takes is simple logic and a mere moment of thought. A Supreme Court justice should be more than capable of making these easy distinctions.

If Justice Scalia can not get that, then he needs to resign from the Court immediately. He is obviously not intelligent enough to serve on the highest court in the land.

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Update: I wrote this just before news of the school shooting in Connecticut broke. Obviously what happened there was an absolute tragedy and the only reason I'm not really addressing it is for personal reasons. My thoughts and prayers go out to those affected.


Marriage equality has taken huge steps forward this year, North Carolina notwithstanding. Equality was enacted in three states by way of popular vote, which has never happened before. The tide is certainly turning, and even folks against equality are seeing this fact.

This week saw the Supreme Court decide to take up the issue on two fronts: California's Proposition 8 (Prop 8) and the constitutionality of the so-called Defense of Marriage Act (DoMA). One of the most outspoken critics of marriage equality is the co-founder of the National Organization For Marriage (Discrimination), Maggie Gallagher. She issued an interesting statement on SCOTUS taking up the aforementioned pieces of legislation. While she said that the court will quite likely uphold Prop 8, she also said the court will likely throw down DoMA.

Of course there are many people on the other side of this issue that are still saying this fight is not over and they will win in the end. Ever so slowly however, there are fewer people of that mindset. Increasingly they are reading the signs: voters supporting equality on the ballot, younger people supporting equality more than older voters, more emboldened states taking up the cause of equality like Illinois (which plans a vote in January). Hearing social conservatives conceding these facts (even though they continue to fight against them) is certainly heartening. Yet we should not take all of this for granted. The battles will go on even if SCOTUS throws down both Prop 8 and DoMA, and we can not stop fighting.