30 June 2006

What about "biased" and "baseless" is unclear to you, Mike?

Apparently, Arkansas has the best foster care system in the country; one so glutted with parents that there isn't a single child in need of a home.
Ark. governor seeks gay-foster-parent ban

Associated Press

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. - Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee said Friday he hopes the Legislature considers reimposing a ban on gay foster parents, struck down a day earlier by the state Supreme Court.

"I'm very disappointed that the court seems more interested in what's good for gay couples than what's good for children needing foster care," Huckabee said through his spokeswoman Alice Stewart.

The state Supreme Court on Thursday upheld a lower court decision that threw out a ban on homosexuals serving as foster parents. Four people sued after the policy was put in effect in 1999. The state Child Welfare Board dropped the policy after losing a court fight in 2004.

Arkansas Health and Human Services spokeswoman Julie Munsell said the four who successfully challenged the policy have not applied to be foster parents.

Thursday's court ruling left open the possibility that legislators could enact a ban by law or possibly give a state board authority to do so.

But Rita Sklar, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union in Arkansas, said the court ruling itself could make legislation difficult to pass. She cited language in the ruling that said there was no connection between homosexuality and a child's welfare.

In the unanimous ruling, the court said testimony in the state's appeal demonstrated that "the driving force behind adoption of the regulations was not to promote the health, safety and welfare of foster children but rather based upon the board's views of morality and its bias against homosexuals."

Being raised by homosexuals doesn't cause academic problems or gender identity problems, as the state had argued, the Supreme Court said.
Mike Huckabee is a pig.

Shrink the pool of eligible foster parents just to codify your animosity towards gays and lesbians into law. Tells you all you need to know, really. There is good news, though:
"Huckabee is leaving office in 2007 because of term limits."
'07 can't come soon enough for the children in Arkansas.

29 June 2006

The Boy King gets spanked

Supreme Court Rejects Guantanamo War Crimes Trials
In 5-3 Decision, Justices Rebuke Bush's Anti-Terror Policy

By William Branigin
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, June 29, 2006; 10:44 AM

The Supreme Court today delivered a stunning rebuke to the Bush administration over its plans to try Guantanamo detainees before military commissions, ruling that the commissions are unconstitutional.

In a 5-3 decision, the court said the trials were not authorized under U.S. law or the Geneva Conventions. Justice John Paul Stevens wrote the opinion in the case, called Hamdan v. Rumsfeld. Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. recused himself from the case.

The ruling, which overturned a federal appeals court decision in which Roberts had participated, represented a defeat for President Bush, who had ordered military trials for detainees at the Guantanamo Bay naval base. About 450 detainees captured in the war on terrorism are currently held at the U.S. naval base in Cuba.

The case of Salim Ahmed Hamdan, a 36-year-old Yemeni with links to al-Qaeda, was considered a key test of the judiciary's power during wartime and carried the potential to make a lasting impact on American law. It challenged the very legality of the military commissions established by President Bush to try terrorism suspects.

The case raised core constitutional principles of separation of powers as well as fundamental issues of individual rights. Specifically, the questions concerned:

** The power of Congress and the executive to strip the federal courts and the Supreme Court of jurisdiction.

** The authority of the executive to lock up individuals under claims of wartime power, without benefit of traditional protections such as a jury trial, the right to cross-examine one's accusers and the right to judicial appeal.

** The applicability of international treaties -- specifically the Geneva Conventions on the treatment of prisoners of war -- to the government's treatment of those it deems "enemy combatants."
Looks like The Decider made a few decisions he shouldn't have. All things being equal, this could be quite important, especially the point about the application of the Geneva conventions. SCOTUSblog has the goods:
Even more importantly for present purposes, the Court held that Common Article 3 of Geneva applies as a matter of treaty obligation to the conflict against Al Qaeda. That is the HUGE part of today's ruling. The commissions are the least of it. This basically resolves the debate about interrogation techniques, because Common Article 3 provides that detained persons "shall in all circumstances be treated humanely," and that "[t]o this end," certain specified acts "are and shall remain prohibited at any time and in any place whatsoever"—including "cruel treatment and torture," and "outrages upon personal dignity, in particular humiliating and degrading treatment." This standard, not limited to the restrictions of the due process clause, is much more restrictive than even the McCain Amendment.

This almost certainly means that the CIA's interrogation regime is unlawful, and indeed, that many techniques the Administation has been using, such as waterboarding and hypothermia (and others) violate the War Crimes Act (because violations of Common Article 3 are deemed war crimes).

Of course, as I said, that's assuming all things are equal. Unfortunately, with a junta administration as focused on secrecy and unilateral power as this one is, "equal" is precisely what things are not. In El Presidente's estimation, the balance of powers set forth in the Constitution is little more than an outmoded suggestion that's to be adhered to only insofar as it's convenient at the time.

28 June 2006

Th' fock, Obama?

Obama: Democrats Must Court Evangelicals

The Associated Press
Wednesday, June 28, 2006; 6:09 PM

WASHINGTON -- Sen. Barack Obama chastised fellow Democrats on Wednesday for failing to "acknowledge the power of faith in the lives of the American people," and said the party must compete for the support of evangelicals and other churchgoing Americans.

"Not every mention of God in public is a breach to the wall of separation. Context matters," the Illinois Democrat said in remarks to a conference of Call to Renewal, a faith-based movement to overcome poverty.

"It is doubtful that children reciting the Pledge of Allegiance feel oppressed or brainwashed as a consequence of muttering the phrase `under God,'" he said. "Having voluntary student prayer groups using school property to meet should not be a threat, any more than its use by the High School Republicans should threaten Democrats."
Obama is beginning to look positively Lieberman-esque in his willingness to throw the Democratic party under the bus--falsely, I might add--in order to stand out. The GOP has enough of their minions repeating the "Democrats don't relate to the faithful" canard without him regurgitating it as truth. The only way the Dems "failed to acknowledge the power of faith in the lives of Americans" was by refusing to cast their lot with the hateful initiatives being pushed by Hastert and Frist on behalf of the Dobsons of the world.

The rhetoric is really unvelieveable. Obama's choice to connect his criticisms to the Pledge flap is as dishonest as it gets. The efforts to remove "under god" and the associated allegations of so-called oppression were the furthest thing from a Democratic party issue. Karl Rove himself, couldn't have crafted that straw man any better.

If Obama wants to inspire greater outreach to "the faithful," there are far more constructive ways to do it than tearing down his own party by legitimizing the GOP's fallacious smears.

One step forward, two steps back

I suppose I should've known it was too good to be true.
House GOP to focus on abortion, guns

By DAVID ESPO, AP Special Correspondent

WASHINGTON - House Republicans intend to hold votes this summer and fall touching on abortion, guns, religion and other priority issues for social conservatives, part of an attempt to improve the party's prospects in the midterm elections.

The "American Values Agenda" also includes a proposed constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage — which already has failed in the Senate — a prohibition on human cloning and possibly votes on several popular tax cuts.

"Radical courts have attempted to gut our religious freedom and redefine the value system on which America was built. We hope to restore some of those basic values through passing this legislative agenda and renewing our country's commitment to faith, freedom and life," Speaker Dennis Hastert, R-Ill., said Tuesday.

The priorities are part of competing attempts by the two parties to appeal to target voters in the fall campaign, with control of the House and Senate at stake. It's unclear how many of these bills might clear Congress and reach President Bush's desk, given the controversy many will cause and the relatively short time remaining before the two-year Congress ends.
I was stunned to see two consecutive articles actually calling out the GOP on their bald-faced legislative stunts designed to rally the Far Right and the Evangeliban. The traditional media was rousing from its slumber. (Or, alternately, the Republican schemes were growing too transparent even for their formerly willing patsies in the stenography journalism trade).

And then they threw in that last paragraph.

Whatever is happening, everybody's all about pandering all the time. Republicans are pushing a gay marriage ban, a flag burning amendment, a bill that mandates telling women that an abortion "will cause the unborn child pain," and further legislation about the Ten Commandments and the Pledge of Allegiance.

The Dems' attempts to "curry favor?" Legislation to raise the minimum wage for the first time in EIGHT YEARS, and a measure to add direct price negotiation to the administration's disasterous Medicare prescription drug plan.

THOSE are your (presumably equivalent) "competing plans to appeal to target voters."

"Balanced coverage" - 1, Honest reporting - 0

27 June 2006

Where does one begin?

Flag amendment fails by single vote

By LAURIE KELLMAN, Associated Press Writer

WASHINGTON - The narrow defeat of a proposal to ban flag desecration marks the second time in a month Senate Republicans have lost bids to amend the Constitution in ways designed to inspire social conservatives to vote in the midterm elections.

The 66-34 tally on the flag amendment Tuesday was one less than the two-thirds, or 67 votes, required to send it to the states for ratification. The House cleared the two-thirds threshold last year, 286-130.

Sponsored by Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, the amendment read: "The Congress shall have power to prohibit the physical desecration of the flag of the United States."

A proposed amendment earlier this month to ban gay marriage suffered a more decisive defeat, killed on a test vote.

Winning isn't the only goal for those measures or other social policy proposals congressional Republicans will bring up this year in an effort to energize their base of voters.

House Republicans intend to hold votes this summer and fall touching on abortion, guns, religion and other priority issues for social conservatives, part of an attempt to improve the party's prospects in the midterm elections.

The "American Values Agenda" also includes the gay marriage amendment, a prohibition on human cloning and possibly votes on several popular tax cuts.

The flag amendment's cliffhanger defeat a week before Independence Day represented Congress' response to Supreme Court rulings in 1989 and 1990 that burning and other desecration of the flag are protected as free speech by the First Amendment to the Constitution.
Thankfully, once again, the far right's pathetic pandering goes down to defeat. Unfortunately, it shouldn't have been anywhere near this close. A constitutional amendment that would serve to curtail the Bill of Rights came within a vote of advancing to the ratification stage thanks to so-called Democrats who thought the best way to represent their constituents would be to cast their lot with the Republican cheerleading team.


The 'yea' votes that were cast on this measure are a blot on the record of each and every one of those 66 senators, regardless of what side of the aisle they sit on.

The real positive that came out of this shameless display is the reporting that we're finally seeing. Though long, LONG overdue, the dog and pony show is being called out for exactly what it is: "an attempt to improve the party's prospects in midterm elections."

No benefit to the people.

No solution to any of the nation's problems.

Just a sop to the base.

23 June 2006

Why do the Iraqis want to cut and run?

From The Times in the UK:
"The Iraqi Government will announce a sweeping peace plan as early as Sunday in a last-ditch effort to end the Sunni insurgency that has taken the country to the brink of civil war.
The 28-point package for national reconciliation will offer Iraqi resistance groups inclusion in the political process and an amnesty for their prisoners if they renounce violence and lay down their arms, The Times can reveal.
The Government will promise a finite, UN-approved timeline for the withdrawal of all foreign troops from Iraq; a halt to US operations against insurgent strongholds; an end to human rights violations, including those by coalition troops; and compensation for victims of attacks by terrorists or Iraqi and coalition forces."
Looks like the days of dealing with Iraq by playing politics in lieu of crafting workable policy may be at an end, no thanks to anyone in the U.S.
Apparently, the Iraqi government has no interest in waiting for us to finish a "debate" on its country that consists of sanctimonious, catchphrase-laden, election year posturing while its people are being kidnapped, executed, and blown up in the streets.  (I wonder if they know they're "surrendering," "embracing defeat," and "leaving the country to the terrorists?") 
This sort of initiative is what can happen when leadership doesn't stand by, content in its willful obliviousness to the real-life consequences of its clearly failed policies.  It's thoroughly embarrassing to see this going on, when, time and again, the American people accept swaggering and sloganeering instead of demanding action and governance.  We reap what we sow, however, and eventually, so does BushCo. 
Insurgent amnesty
An end to coalition human rights violations
Compensation for coalition attacks
The points discussed are nothing if not a humiliating--and much deserved--repudiation of the course that El Presidente is so determined to stay, an unequivocal "fuck you very much," to the architects of this disaster and their supporters in the 82nd Chairborne.  Unfortunately, the congressional Dems are as unlikely to see the writing on the wall as the Bushistas.  The American people, the Iraqi people, and now the official Iraqi government all want some sort of timetable for getting the hell out.  Not sure how much more cover people need to stand with Kerry, Feingold and the rest who voted for a reasonable timetable of redeployment and withdrawal.
Sen. Daniel Akaka (D-HI)
Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA), co-sponsor
Sen. Richard Durbin (D-IL)
Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA)
Sen. Daniel Inouye (D-HI)
Sen. James Jeffords (I-VT)
Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-MA)
Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ)
Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT), co-sponsor
Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ)
Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) 

22 June 2006

Power to the Sheeple

U.S. gun owners accuse U.N. of July 4 conspiracy

By Irwin Arieff

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - Americans mistakenly worried the United Nations is plotting to take away their guns on July 4 -- U.S. Independence Day -- are flooding the world body with angry letters and postcards, the chairman of a U.N. conference on the illegal small arms trade said on Wednesday.

"I myself have received over 100,000 letters from the U.S. public, criticising me personally, saying, 'You are having this conference on the 4th of July, you are not going to get our guns on that day,'" said Prasad Kariyawasam, Sri Lanka's U.N. ambassador.

"That is a total misconception as far as we are concerned," Kariyawasam told reporters ahead of the two-week meeting opening on Monday.

For one, July 4 is a holiday at U.N. headquarters and the world body's staff will be watching a fireworks display from the U.N. lawn rather than attending any meetings, he said.

For another, the U.N. conference will look only at illegal arms and "does not in any way address legal possession," a matter left to national governments to regulate rather than the United Nations, he added.

The campaign is largely the work of the U.S. National Rifle Association, whose executive vice president, Wayne LaPierre, warns on an NRA Web site ( ) of a July 4 plot "to finalise a U.N. treaty that would strip all citizens of all nations of their right to self-protection."

Kariyawasam said, "The U.N. conference will not negotiate any treaty to prohibit citizens of any country from possessing firearms or to interfere with the legal trade in small arms and light weapons."
So let's review: The same UN that couldn't stop us from waging a unilateral, preemptive war on the other side of the globe is going to curtail gun sales within the U.S.? What, other than Wayne LaPierre's paranoid rantings, makes them think that the UN could influence our domestic gun laws, even if it wanted to?

Confronted--again--with reality frustratingly biased against them, the usual mouthpieces swing into action with another "reinforce through repetition" campaign making ranting and fact interchangeable. Now even if one of their drones is stirred from his usual somnambulant state by the obvious contradiction in meassage, and looks up "UN gun ownership," "UN gun control," etc., the first thing he finds is a dutiful regurgitation of LaPierre's Chicken Little routine courtesy of wingnutdaily.

Once again, the far right has no problem assuming whatever side of an argument suits it at the time. The ineffectual, do-nothing entity that can't accomplish anything regarding terrorism, Iran, North Korea, etc., now is an imminent threat to individual rights in the most powerful country in the world...and, based on no evidence whatsoever, 100,000+ Americans fall, obediently, into slackjawed lockstep, nodding slowly.

And these are the folks who fancy themselves armed defenders of freedom...

16 June 2006

The amnesty tapdance begins

This is getting better by the minute, don't you think?
Maliki Aide Who Discussed Amnesty Leaves Job
Premier Disavows Remarks

By Ellen Knickmeyer and Jonathan Finer
Washington Post Foreign Service
Friday, June 16, 2006; Page A22

BAGHDAD, June 15 -- Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's office on Thursday accepted the resignation of an aide who had told a reporter that Maliki was considering a limited amnesty that would likely include guerrillas who had attacked U.S. troops, the aide said.

The Maliki aide who resigned, Adnan Ali al-Kadhimi, stood by his account of amnesty considerations, reported Thursday by The Washington Post. Kadhimi said Maliki had indicated the same position less directly in public. "The prime minister himself has said that he is ready to give amnesty to the so-called resistance, provided they have not been involved in killing Iraqis," Kadhimi said Thursday.

Maliki's office issued a statement earlier Thursday saying, "Mr. Adnan Kadhimi doesn't represent the Iraqi government in this issue, and Mr. Kadhimi is not an advisor or spokesman for the prime minister."
Given al Maliki's earlier statements about troops killing civilians, and the carefully vague maneuvering going on now, this looks like far less of a "disavowal," than it does a gentle distancing to avoid the embarrassment of this coming out a day after El Presidente's ambush visit to the Green Zone.

Now that the adviser mentioned in the original article fell/was thrown onto his own sword and is "resigning" his position, it'll be interesting is to see if this elicits a similar shift from folks like Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Ted Stevens (R-AK) who fell over themselves to enthusiastically endorse amnesty for troop-killing insurgents on the Senate floor.
"I really believe we ought to try to find some way to encourage that country to demonstrate to those people who have been opposed to what we're trying to do, that it's worthwhile for them and their children to come forward and support this democracy. And if that's amnesty, I'm for it. I'd be for it." - Sen. Ted Stevens

"...might it not just be as useful an exercise to be trying to pass a resolution commending the Iraqi government for the position that they've taken today with regard to this discussion of Amnesty?" - Sen. Mitch McConnell
The pirouettes that these guys are doing on individuals who, 36 hours ago, were "terrorists" are hilarious. There are officially no limits when it comes to spinning events to manufacture "progress" in the disaster they've helped to create, even if it means commending efforts to wipe the slate for people who've killed U.S. soldiers.

Wonder how that figures into the last three years of the GOP's self-righteous bloviation about "supporting the troops?"

15 June 2006

Amnesty for those who "only" killed U.S. troops. Bravo, BushCo...

From today's WaPo:
Iraq Amnesty Plan May Cover Attacks On U.S. Military

By Ellen Knickmeyer and Jonathan Finer
Washington Post Foreign Service
Thursday, June 15, 2006; Page A01

BAGHDAD, June 14 -- Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki on Wednesday proposed a limited amnesty to help end the Sunni Arab insurgency as part of a national reconciliation plan that Maliki said would be released within days. The plan is likely to include pardons for those who had attacked only U.S. troops, a top adviser said.

Maliki's declaration of openness to talks with some members of Sunni armed factions, and the prospect of pardons, are concessions that previous, interim governments had avoided. The statements marked the first time a leader from Iraq's governing Shiite religious parties has publicly embraced national reconciliation, welcomed dialogue with armed groups and proposed a limited amnesty.

Reconciliation could include an amnesty for those "who weren't involved in the shedding of Iraqi blood," Maliki told reporters at a Baghdad news conference. "Also, it includes talks with the armed men who opposed the political process and now want to turn back to political activity."

...The Arab League on Wednesday postponed a reconciliation conference for Iraq that had been set for August. Adnan Ali al-Kadhimi, a top adviser to Maliki, said the conference was delayed in part so Iraq could decide who might be eligible for any amnesty. It was not clear how the government would verify which insurgents have been responsible for which types of attacks.

"The government has in mind somehow to do reconciliation, and one way to do it is to offer an amnesty, but not a sort of unconditional amnesty," Kadhimi said in a telephone interview. "We can see if somehow those who are so-called resistance can be accepted if they have not been involved in any kind of criminal behavior, such as killing innocent people or damaging infrastructure, and even infrastructure if it is minor will be pardoned."
His aide, Khadimi, provided further clarification later in the piece:
Asked about clemency for those who attacked U.S. troops, he said: "That's an area where we can see a green line. There's some sort of preliminary understanding between us and the MNF-I," the U.S.-led Multi-National Force-Iraq, "that there is a patriotic feeling among the Iraqi youth and the belief that those attacks are legitimate acts of resistance and defending their homeland. These people will be pardoned definitely, I believe."
Beginning with his recent forceful condemnation of the U.S. military's "habitual" attacks on civilians, it's becoming increasingly clear that Al-Maliki's strategy for consolidating support is built upon embracing the people's seething bitterness towards the U.S. Yes, the new PM is looking to be quite the politician, these days, and quite a familiar one, as well.

Hate mobilizes; latch onto that, and the votes will follow.

Where have we heard THAT tune played before?

It looks like the Rove playbook has finally received its Arabic translation. El Presidente has gays and immigrants, Al-Maliki has us. I couldn't think of a more appropriate development for Dear Leader's unnecessary war of choice and egotism. Good to see him finally showing that "uniter, not divider" side. In light of the "friendly democracy" stage of his bullshit story evolving rationale for this debacle, the irony is absolutely priceless.

10 June 2006

Quote of the Day

"That the Democrats couldn't find someone to beat George Bush is staggering. It's like finding a normal person who'd lose in the Special Olympics." -- Lewis Black, "Red, White, and Screwed"

09 June 2006

I'll believe she's human when I see the DNA results....

In the 2000 film, Way of the Gun, comedienne Sarah Silverman had a small role credited only as "Raving Bitch." No cool segue here, that just came to me for some reason.

You have to hand it to Ann Coulter; every time you think she's managed to drag punditry as far into the gutter as possible, she simply wipes her brow and keeps on clawing her way to new depths. (And, for the record, by "punditry," I absolutely mean the rhetorical equivalent of rolling, naked, in filth, and flinging her own feces while jibbering incoherently).

NBC's Today was kind enough to, once again, offer Coulter a national platform so she could vomit forth her "commentary" to as many people as possible. Morning viewers were treated to this insightful exchange with Matt Lauer:
LAUER: Do you believe everything in the book, or do you put some things in there just to cater to your base?

COULTER: No, of course, I believe everything.

LAUER. All right. On the 9-11 widows, and in particular a group that has been outspoken and critical of the administration: "These self-obsessed women seem genuinely unaware that 9-11 was an attack on our nation and acted as if the terrorist attacks only happened to them." "[T]hey believe the entire country was required to marinate in their exquisite personal agony. Apparently, denouncing Bush was an important part of their closure process."

And this part is the part I really need to talk to you about: "These broads are millionaires, lionized on TV and in articles about them, revelling in their status as celebrities and stalked by grief-arazzis. I've never seen people enjoying their husbands' death so much."

While the far right /GOP (same difference, after all) has consistently made the point that there can be no valid crticism of El Presidente--it all stems from "Bush-hating"--few have done so in such despicable fashion. Clearly, what's obvious to just about everyone else in the country, is that these women have far more important reasons to want answers about 9/11. Unfortunately, as logic often does, this presents quite the quandry for one-note jokes like Coulter.

Because she cannot refute the fact that the Jersey Girls cared far more about the goals and findings of the 9/11 commission than did George Bush, Coulter is left with the only club in the Right's bag: The critics are just spewing partisan hatred. As witless as this particular attack dog apologist is, even SHE realizes this is an impossible sell. Need proof? Shortly after the above exchange, Coulter tried to justify it, thussly:
"If they have a point to make about the 9-11 Commission, about how to fight the war on terrorism, how about sending in somebody we're allowed to respond to? No, no, no, we always have to respond to someone who just had a family member die."
Not surprisingly, Coulter hangs her explanation on an utterly false premise that she presents as fact. Even a grieving family member can have his/her arguments addressed on their merits. As noted, though, the only "response" Coulter has, is a baseless ad hominem attack. In this case, it's a more blatanly inappropriate strategy than, perhaps, ever before, and, as a result, it has her frothing in an impotent rage. Clearly, after four and a half years of this frustration, her taste for Dear Leader's shoe leather got the better of her and she decided that it was open season on terror widows.

She's the GOP's poster girl. We must make them own her and all of her venom.

07 June 2006

Laugh to keep from crying

The first presidential headline following the (very much anticipated) defeat of the "Marriage Protection Amendment?"

"Bush says immigrants must learn English"

If, at first, you don't succeed, pander, pander again, eh? If the Pink Peril strikes out, the Brown Invaders are next up in the rotation. Looks like the friend 'o Dubya quoted in Newsweek was right: "I think it was purely political. I don't think he gives a s--t about it. He never talks about this stuff."

Once again, El Presidente is making it abundantly clear that, in his (non-reality based) world, "politics" and "governance" are not only interchangeable, but one in the same.

This amendment is just the tip of the iceberg.

Dear Leader doesn't give a shit about a lot of things, and Harry Reid not only called him out on it, but spelled out the list. In doing so, he wisely avoiding turning this into the dog and pony show the GOPers want to put on for their Evangeliban base: a pulpit-pounding debate on homosexuality. Instead, Reid framed this fight exactly how it should be: as the unconscionable waste of time that it is.
"...what is the United States Senate going to debate this week?

A new energy policy? NO.

Will we debate the raging war in Iraq? NO.

Will we address our staggering national debt? NO.

Will we address the seriousness of global warming –- NO.

Will we address the aging of America? NO.

Will we address America's education dilemma? NO.

Will we address rising crime statistics? NO.

Will we debate our country's trade imbalance? NO.

Will we debate Stem Cell Research? NO.

But what we will spend most of the week on is a constitutional amendment that will fail by a large margin, a constitutional amendment on Same Sex Marriage -- an effort that failed to pick up a simple majority, when we recently voted on it. Remember, an Amendment to our Constitution requires 67 votes...So for me it is clear the reason for this debate is to divide our society, to pit one against another. This is another one of the President's efforts to frighten, to distort, to distract, and to confuse America. It is this Administration's way of avoiding the tough, real problems that American citizens are confronted with each and every day."

Constitution protected from GOP gay-bashing amendment

Supporters lose in gay marriage ban vote

By LAURIE KELLMAN, Associated Press Writer

WASHINGTON - The Senate on Wednesday rejected a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage, dealing an embarrassing defeat to President Bush and Republicans who hoped to use the measure to energize conservative voters on Election Day.

Supporters knew they wouldn't achieve the two-thirds vote needed to approve a constitutional amendment, but they had predicted a gain in votes over the last time the issue came up, in 2004. Instead, they lost one vote for the amendment in a procedural test tally that ended up 49-48...Supporters lost two key "yes" votes — one from Sen. Judd Gregg, R-N.H., who has changed his mind since 2004, and another from Sen. Chuck Hagel, R-Neb., who did not vote this time because he was traveling with Bush.

...A majority of Americans define marriage as a union of a man and a woman, as the proposed amendment does, according to a poll out this week by ABC News. But an equal majority opposes amending the Constitution on this issue, the poll found.

...Democrats said the debate was a divisive political ploy.

"The Republican leadership is asking us to spend time writing bigotry into the Constitution," said Sen. Edward Kennedy of Massachusetts, which legalized gay marriage in 2003. "A vote for it is a vote against civil unions, against domestic partnership, against all other efforts for states to treat gays and lesbians fairly under the law."

In response, Hatch fumed: "Does he really want to suggest that over half of the United States Senate is a crew of bigots?"
I doubt it, Orrin. Certainly some of them are. (Little Ricky "Man on Dog" Santorum comes leaping to mind.) The rest I wouldn't give enough credit to have the courage of even that odious conviction. No, the majority, I'd say, were motivated by more practical concerns, namely maintaining their position in the GOP's rubber-stamp brigade. DiFi had it pretty well correct:
"Why is it when Republicans are all for reducing the federal government's impact on people's lives until it comes to these stinging litmus test issues, whether gay marriage or end of life they suddenly want the federal government to intervene?" asked Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif. "It makes no sense other than throwing red meat to a certain constituency."
For all the talk of "bigotry" being bandied about--and I'm as guilty as the next man--I've gotten to the point where I'm having serious doubts. The sort of hatred necessary to force second-class citizenry onto people whose actions have zero impact on you runs very deep, indeed. It's a core principle in how you approach your life and the world around it. At least, an honest-to-Jeezus bigot stands for something, no matter how reprehensible. The christianists being pandered to, THEY'RE the bigots. These GOPers (and our pols, in general) stand for their seats and precious little else.

Quote of the Day

A decent enough place to start back, no?
"Thomas Jefferson once said: 'Of course the people don't want war. But the people can be brought to the bidding of their leader. All you have to do is tell them they're being attacked and denounce the pacifists for somehow a lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same in any country.' I think that was Jefferson. Oh wait. That was Hermann Goering. Shoot." -- Jon Stewart, emceeing the Peabody Awards
This really needs to be on billboards from coast-to-coast.

Life gets Blogger-ed

Sometimes life throws us curves. Maybe even several in a row. And the cyber soapbox isn't exactly where we need to be.

In this context, to say that those things "show us what's really important" is inaccurate and needlessly melodramatic. I firmly believe--especially in light of the established media's recent track record--topical blogs are a valuable and, unfortunately, all-too-necessary part of the public discourse. No matter how small the voice, what's being discussed is very much "what's important" to all of us.

But, sometimes, you need to get your own house in order. To those who asked about this place (both of you), thanks for the thought during the hiatus.

We return to your regularly scheduled programming.
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