Monday, September 30, 2013

How Marriage Equality "Destroyed" Massachusetts

From Think Progress:  

One Massachusetts resident told the Boston Globe after the 2003 ruling, that it was “four judges basically turning society inside out with no input from anybody else.” Catholic League president William Donohue warned that the decision opened the door to incestuous marriage and polygamy.

But marriage equality has not turned society inside out, nor has the promised parade of horribles has not come to pass. Massachusetts now has the lowest divorce rate in the nation, same-sex families now enjoy full legal protections, and the Boston Red Sox have the best record in Major League Baseball.

And even 66 percent of Massachusetts Republicans concede marriage equality has had no negative effect on them. According to the PPP poll, Massachusetts voters now support same-sex marriage by an overwhelming 60 to 29 percent margin.

Paying Congress Through the Shutdown?

Saturday, September 28, 2013

The Troops Will Go Unpaid

From Yahoo News:  

Washington (AFP) - The US military's nearly 1.4 million troops will stay on the job in the case of a government shutdown but they will not get paid, the Pentagon said Friday.

And if Congress fails to agree on a new budget measure by the close of the fiscal year on Monday, September 30, "roughly half" the Defense Department's nearly 800,000 strong civilian work force would be placed on unpaid leave, top officials said.

The war effort in Afghanistan and other high-priority missions would not be affected but most training and a range of maintenance work would be cancelled if Congress remains deadlocked, according to the Pentagon's top financial officer Robert Hale.

"We wouldn't be able to do most training, we couldn't enter into most new contracts, routine maintenance would have to stop," he told reporters.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Did New Jersey Just Get Marriage Equality?

From ABC News:   

New Jersey must allow gay couples to marry starting Oct. 21, because the state's civil union law is unconstitutionally denying federal benefits to same-sex couples, a judge ruled Friday.

Superior Court Judge Mary Jacobson sided almost entirely with a group of same-sex couples and gay rights groups who sued the state in July, days after the U.S. Supreme Court struck down key parts of a law that blocked the federal government from granting benefits to gay couples.

"The ineligibility of same-sex couples for federal benefits is currently harming same-sex couples in New Jersey in a wide range of contexts," Jacobson wrote in a 53-page opinion. Same-sex couples who include a federal employee, those who want to use the federal Family Medical Leave Act or those who file joint federal tax returns are being hurt by the state's recognition of civil unions but not gay marriage, she wrote.

By making her order effective more than three weeks from now, the state has time to appeal to a higher court and ask for a delay to the start of same-sex marriage.

Holding America Hostage

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Obama's Reaction to the GOP on Obamacare

School Allows Prayer Over the Intercom

From Raw Story

A school board in Kansas voted this week to allow student-led prayer at all activities, and even went as far as offering the schools’ public address systems for religious use.

According to the Leader and Times, school prayer had not been on the agenda for Monday’s meeting of USD No. 480 board in Liberal, but board member Nick Hatcher brought it up at the last minute.

Liberal High School had banned prayer before football games several years ago over concerns that allowing to students to pray over the intercom system could be construed as the school sponsoring a particular religion, which was banned by the Supreme Court in 1962.

In its 2000 Santa Fe Independent School Dist. v. Doe decision, the Supreme Court specifically ruled that allowing students to use the public address system to pray at football games violated the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment.

Ted Cruz's Big Waste of Time

Half an Ounce Equals 20 Years in Jail

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Papa Bush is the Witness of a Same-Sex Wedding

From the Washington Post

Former President George H.W. Bush and his wife Barbara served as an official witnesses Saturday at the Maine wedding of Bonnie Clement and Helen Thorgalsen, co-owners of a Kennebunk general store. Thorgalsen posted a photo on Facebook of the 41st commander-in-chief signing a set of documents for them at an outdoor celebration: “Getting our marriage license witnessed!”

No big statement from the ex-prez’s office. His rep Jim McGrath confirmed his and wife Barbara’s presence at the Kennebunkport wedding: “They were private citizens attending a private ceremony for two friends.”
Other members of the Bush circle — including granddaughter Barbara, daughter-in-law and former first lady Laura, and Dick Cheney — have expressed varying levels of support for gay marriage, which became legal in Maine in December.

What a Government Shutdown Really Means

From Think Progress:  

...close to a million federal workers performing tasks that are deemed non-essential could be furloughed, leading to delays and shutdowns in the following services:
FINANCIAL SERVICES. The Small Business Administration will stop making loans, federal home loan guarantees will likely go on hold, and students applying for financial aid could also see delays and backlogs in applications.
ARMED FORCES. U.S. troops serving at home and abroad could stop receiving paychecks if the shutdown continues for an extended period and changes of station would also be delayed and facility and weapons maintenance would be suspended. Families back home would also be impacted.
HEALTH CARE. The National Institutes of Health will stop accepting new patients and delay or stop clinical trials. Medicare and the Veterans administration will continue paying out benefits, but new filers could face delays and doctors and hospitals may also have to wait for reimbursements.
PUBLIC SAFETY. The Environmental Protection Agency would stop reviewing environmental impact statements and food inspectors would stop conducting workplace inspections unless there is an imminent danger. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms could stop processing applications for permits.
SECURITY AND TRAVEL. The Department of Homeland Security would suspend the E-Verify program, which helps businesses determine the eligibility of employees, creating hiring delays. The State Department will also likely halt new passport and visa applications.
PARKS AND RECREATION. The National Park Service sites and the Smithsonian Institution will be shutdown. During the 1990s, 368 sites closed down and approximately 7 million visitors denied entry.
All this will come at a price. The last two shutdowns during the Clinton era — one lasted six days in 1995 and another stretched 21 days at the end of 1995 and beginning of 1996 — cost the country 0.5 percentage points of gross domestic product (GDP) growth and more than $2 billion (in today’s dollars) in unnecessary expenses — as government employees abandoned their jobs to prepare for the shutdown. Economists estimate that were a short-term shutdown to occur next month, it “would do significant economic damage, reducing real GDP by 1.4 percentage points.” A two-month shutdown could “precipitate another recession.”

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Ted Cruz Brings Nazis Into the Obamacare Debate

"If you go to the 1940s, Nazi Germany," Cruz said. "Look, we saw in Britain, Neville Chamberlain, who told the British people, 'Accept the Nazis. Yes, they'll dominate the continent of Europe but that's not our problem. Let's appease them. Why? Because it can't be done. We can't possibly stand against them.'"

"And in America there were voices that listened to that," he continued. "I suspect those same pundits who say it can't be done, if it had been in the 1940s we would have been listening to them. Then they would have made television. They would have gotten beyond carrier pigeons and beyond letters and they would have been on tv and they would have been saying, 'You cannot defeat the Germans.'"

First problem: Cruz is wrong on the history. When Germany invaded Poland on September 1, 1939, it triggered a British (and french) declaration of war against Germany. Appeasement was over before the 40's even began. Before anyone says he probably just misspoke, keep in mind that these were prepared remarks said on the Senate floor, not something said off the cuff on a Sunday morning show.

Second problem: Cruz is still living in a fantasy world. He lives in a world where he thinks a piece of legislation commonly called "Obamacare" can be defunded or repealed while a man named "Obama" is in the White House. He lives in a world where he thinks he can achieve success in getting rid of Obamacare can be done with less than 67 votes in the Senate, and the fact of the matter is that 67 is the number of votes he needs in the Senate. He needs to face reality. Even if the Senate sends President Obama a version of the Continuing Resolution in question that does not fund the Affordable Care Act, he WILL veto it. If the Senate cannot muster 67 votes to override this presidential veto - and it cannot - then the government will shutdown, and all sign are pointing to congressional Republicans getting the blame when this shutdown negatively affects the government.

Usually when people bring Nazis into a political argument, it means that they have no more valid arguments to make...if they had any at all to begin with that is. many people consider this jumping the shark. As if cruz had not done this enough already, he has done it again. I doubt any one, at least anyone with their wits about them, will fall for this hyperbole.

Marriage News Watch; September 23, 2013

Virginia: McAuliffe (D) Takes 8 Point Lead Over Cuccinelli (R)

From the Washington Post

The shift in the race has come almost exclusively from female voters, who prefer McAuliffe by a 24-point margin over Cuccinelli. The candidates were effectively tied among women in a Washington Post poll in May.

McAuliffe’s strength among women is likely due in part to an intense campaign to portray Cuccinelli as a threat to women and the issues they care about most deeply. A new McAuliffe ad, for instance, features a Norfolk OB-GYN speaking directly to the camera about how she is “offended” by Cuccinelli’s position on abortion.

The challenge for Cuccinelli is stark: Nearly half of all voters view him unfavorably, and they trust his opponent as much as or more than the Republican on every major issue in the race, according to the poll. On trust to handle issues of special concern to women, McAuliffe leads Cuccinelli by 23 points. 

Both candidates have very deep flaws (both have favourability numbers that are upside down) and they both have challenges which the article goes into more deeply, but it seems that Cuccenilli's negatives outweigh McAuliffe's.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Mitch McConnell Bursts Ted Cruz's Bubble

The Republican leader's decision is a major blow to the push by Cruz and powerful conservative activist groups, who wanted Republicans to unite and filibuster a continuing resolution until Democrats caved agreed to gut funding for the Affordable Care Act.

The decision clears a path for Democrats to pass a continuing resolution that funds Obamacare. Procedurally, Democrats need 60 votes (they have 54 members) to advance the House-passed continuing resolution. But Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) can strike the language defunding Obamacare with 51 votes, which frees up McConnell and every other Republican to vote against such an amendment. This way he never has to actually vote to fund Obamacare but doesn't force a shutdown over an unachievable goal.