Saturday, February 21, 2009

Today in Gay History


1936 - 1996

Barbara Jordan gained national attention for her intelligence, acumen, and oratorical skill as a member of the United States House of Representatives Judiciary Committee during hearings on the articles of impeachment against Richard Nixon over the Watergate scandal.

Example of her stirring oratory:
"My faith in the Constitution is whole, it is complete, it is total. I am not going to sit here and be an idle spectator to the diminution, the subversion, the destruction of the Constitution."

In her career as a legislator and educator she was a vigorous proponent of equal rights, especially for African Americans and women. A deeply closeted lesbian, she did not, however, speak out for the cause of gay civil rights.


Part 4 in a series,
"Jindal, What's up with That?"

A compendium of
Where's Bobby??

Recently recounted in The Independent

As an unprecedented $2 billion shortfall eats away at health care and higher education while state government braces for lockdown, Gov. Bobby Jindal has found a new way to address tough challenges — hitting the road. It’s a sad day when, as Rome burns, the only thing you see of the emperor is his derriere as he high-tails it out of town, but such is the case. Consider his recent schedule:

Friday, Jan. 30 — Jindal spent the first part of his day at the Rapides Parish Courthouse discussing his legislative priorities for cracking down on sex offenders. While that’s a worthy cause, the governor knows he doesn’t need to beat this drum. Is anyone rising to the defense of sex offenders? Of course not.

It’s a PR move, a distraction. Later that day, Jindal held a town hall meeting, or rather met with business interests, inside a warehouse in Thornwell, just outside Lake Arthur. Jindal has conducted at least one of these gatherings each week since being elected. In a way, they’re an extension of his campaign. Only this time, it’s about 2011 and not 2007.

Meanwhile, that same day, Dow Chemical announced the elimination of 260 high-paying chemical jobs in Plaquemine and Hahnville. The layoffs will quicken the pace of the recession in Baton Rouge and New Orleans.

Tuesday, Feb. 3 — The governor traveled to Winnfield and Jena to announce homeland security funding for Winn and LaSalle parishes. While it’s wonderful that Jindal is willing to attend ceremonial, ribbon-cutting announcements in person, there’s got to be a cabinet official or lackey capable of shaking hands and posing for pictures in times such as these.

Back home in Baton Rouge, news broke that the state ethics board — the agency whose authority Jindal trimmed last year, but now he’s protecting it from budget cuts — is paying a consulting firm $250 an hour to help with “strategic planning and staff reorganization.” The maximum payout, according to a contract inked in 2007, was to be $10,000. On this day, the total was doubled to $20,000. Apparently Jindal couldn’t find anyone in the belly of state government to do the job.

Wednesday, Feb. 4 — In an effort to raise his national profile to help him not run for president, Jindal traveled to North Carolina for a campaign fund-raiser “in support of his gubernatorial re-election campaign.” The Shaw Group Inc., a Baton Rouge-based Fortune 500 company and a frequent political player, served as host. Jindal also delivered the keynote address at the John Locke Foundation’s Annual Dinner that evening.

While Jindal was in another state, Louisiana officials unveiled plans to raid a special transportation fund to the tune of $750 million to help pay for a package of roads and bridges voters approved more than 20 years ago. The lapsed projects are part of an initiative known as the Transportation Infrastructure Model for Economic Development, or TIMED. It appears state officials had a small problem projecting construction costs. Originally thought to cost the state $1.4 billion, the most recent tally is now $5.2 billion.

Thursday, Feb. 5 — Back on the trail of sex offenders, Jindal traveled to Monroe and Lafayette to tout his legislative priority.

Friday, Feb. 6 — Jindal flew to Arkansas for a weekend’s gorging of fund-raisers with Wal-Mart and Tyson executives. On the same day, the Louisiana chemical industry announced more job cuts could be coming stateside, and the Louisiana Child Poverty Prevention Council met in Baton Rouge to recommend new laws.

Saturday, Feb. 7 — Jindal spoke at the Washington County Lincoln Day Dinner in Springdale. Back in Louisiana, communities around the state observed National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day — without Jindal — by hosting various events, including free tests and other state-supported services.

Finally back in the Bayou State this week, the governor kicked off Monday by touring the barracks at Fort Polk and visiting the Lake Charles courthouse to — once again — highlight his legislative priorities for cracking down on sex offenders. This, on the day before a subcommittee of the House Appropriations begins reviewing the salaries and expenses of a half-dozen state agencies, including Jindal’s own branch.

No doubt Jindal’s travels can benefit Louisiana. But can’t feel-good victory laps wait until he plugs the state budget’s $2 billion hole? So far, his ideas look no different from those of previous governors.

Granted, some of his accountability measures are new to the process, but the ranges of cuts Jindal has sent to each agency look like recycled across-the-board cuts — with higher education and health care shouldering the burden, as usual. Shades of Edwin Edwards, minus the jokes.

If Jindal doesn’t make some dramatic (and effective) moves soon, he may have all the time he wants to move about the country — after the next election. But not on taxpayers’ dime

Friday, February 20, 2009

Today in Gay History

February 20, 2004, in New Mexico, mind you:

Victoria Dunlap, Republican county clerk of rural Sandoval County, New Mexico, began issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples, citing lack of legal grounds for denial.

Dunlap, a married Republican with two children, began issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples, claiming legal justification for her action because New Mexico marriage law does not mention gender. As reported by the Albuquerque Journal, "[Dunlap] said she sought an opinion from her county attorney after she got a call earlier this week from someone asking about same-sex ceremonies. 'This has nothing to do with politics or morals, [she said]. If there are no legal grounds that say this should be prohibited, I can't withhold it . . . This office won't say no until shown it's not permissible.' "

66 licenses were issued, all on February 20th, and 26 couples married on the Sandoval County Courthouse steps on February 2o, 2004. By March 23, 2004 64 of the couples had married as evidenced by the return and filing of licenses and Certificates of Marriage.

By the end of the day, however, New Mexico's state attorney general issued an opinion stating that the licenses were "invalid under state law,"and the Sandoval County clerk's office stopped issuing them at 4:15 pm that same day.

A district court judge later issued a restraining order against Dunlap, prohibiting her from issuing any further licenses to same-sex couples. Dunlap then filed a motion with the state supreme court for permission to continue issuing the licenses, but on July 8, 2004 the state supreme court rejected the motion. The restraining order was never lifted, and Dunlap, whose term ended on January 1, 2005, was heavily criticized for her actions by the local Republican party and by other county and state officials.

National science group boycotts Louisiana to Protest "Science" Education Act

Part 3 in series: Jindal, What's up with That?

Jindal's catering to Ultra Right for political gain hurts Louisiana.

by Bill Barrow, The Times Picayune

Monday February 16, 2009

BATON ROUGE -- A national organization of scientists has informed Gov. Bobby Jindal it will not hold its annual convention in Louisiana as long as the recently adopted Science Education Act remains on the books. See the letter HERE.

The Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology told Jindal in a recent letter that its executive committee chose Salt Lake City for its 2011 convention over New Orleans "in large part" because of the legislation. Satterlie's letter is posted on the group's Web site under the headline: "No Thanks, New Orleans."

"That's too bad," Jindal spokesman Kyle Plotkin said of the group's decision. "New Orleans is a first-class city for a convention." Plotkin said the governor did not respond to Satterlie's letter.

Jindal signed the law last year, agreeing with its supporters that science teachers need wider latitude to use supplemental materials for lessons on topics such as evolutionary biology, global warming and cloning.

State teachers unions have said educators already are free to use materials other than text books, though a handful of students testified before lawmakers that teachers are sometimes unsure of how to handle questions that challenge established scientific theories, particularly evolution.

Many science groups, both in Louisiana and nationally, urged the governor to veto the bill. They cast the act, sponsored by Sen. Ben Nevers, D-Bogalusa, as a back-door attempt to allow Judeo-Chrisitan creation theology or "intelligent design" -- the concept that biological life forms are the result of an intelligent being -- to be taught as part of science class.

The act allows local school boards to approve supplemental materials as part of its curriculum. The state school board retains power under the law to bar specific materials, either on its own or after a public hearing on a citizen complaint about specific texts approved at the local level.

"It is the firm opinion of SICB's leadership that this law undermines the integrity of science and science education in Louisiana," Richard Satterlie, president of the society, wrote to Jindal.

According to Satterlie, New Orleans "has been a popular venue" for the the 2,300-member organization in the past. Satterlie told Jindal that the 2009 meeting brought more than 1,850 scientists and graduate students to Boston for five days last month.


Thursday, February 19, 2009

Today in Gay History

Happy Birthday
Carson McCullers

The fiction of the sexually ambiguous Carson McCullers offers uncomfortable resistance to the social ideal of neat heterosexuality.

When her first novel, The Heart is a Lonely Hunter, was published to acclaim in 1940, McCullers, at only twenty-three, seemed set for a lifetime of literary glory. In fact, some believe that, in a life beset by illness, she never realized her full potential. Still, her corpus, though short, is impressive and spans a variety of genres from novel and short story to plays, the odd magazine article, and even some poetry. A number of her novels have also been brought to film.

McCullers had several strokes in the 1940s and suffered a final stroke in 1967, which left her in a coma for 46 days. She died on September 2, 1967.


Jindal going places, but is he leading?

Part 2 in series: Jindal, What's Up With That?

Louisiana Political Guru John Maginnis sez, in summary:

Posted by John Maginnis, Columnist, @The Times-Picayune February 11, 2009

On the same day Gov. Bobby Jindal attended a fundraiser for himself in Charlotte, N.C., officials at Nucor Corp., based in the same town, made headlines by raising doubts about building a proposed $2 billion steel mill in St. James Parish. Jindal did not contact Nucor officials, and it would not have made much difference if he did, since the company's concerns about the world economy and coming tougher federal environmental standards are above the governor's pay grade.

So it was just a coincidence, though it could have been an embarrassing one for him had the news from Nucor been worse. That comes with the territory -- and it's a big one -- as Jindal continues raising political money and making speeches around the country, befitting his status of rising Republican star.

In past months, he's been to Florida, Texas and Connecticut to graciously accept checks from the GOP elite, as well as from neighbors in southern Mississippi. Arkansas may be a poor state, but Jindal squeezed three money events out of it last weekend, including stops at Wal-Mart and Tyson Foods headquarters.

The more he tells audiences that the Republican Party has lost its way and deserved what it got in the last election, the more he's hailed as a leader for the next, whether as a candidate or not.

Not to suggest he is neglecting the homefront, for during the week he gets around the state a lot. The farther off the beaten path the better, his itinerary of town meetings reads like a Johnny Cash song.

At whistlestops and Chamber of Commerce banquets, he has been laying out his legislative agenda, the centerpiece of which is a crackdown on sex offenders. His proposals will have scant opposition, but he will still talk about them a lot.

In state and out, he keeps his profile high and free of blemish. But there is the nagging sense that something is missing here. Gov. Jindal gets all over the place, except where the real action is. There is a lot going on in Louisiana now, but he seems to go out of his way to avoid anything controversial.

Most people don't mind that we have a governor who is going places. But in these uncertain times, more are asking where, or if, he is leading us.

Fear is running through state government and universities among employees who don't know if they will have jobs when projected budget cuts are made. Hospital administrators and college presidents have been directed to prepare worst- to best-case scenarios, though none of them are good.

What we've not heard is some expression of keeping faith from the governor, an acknowledgment that our state workers are valued and that everything is being done to preserve their jobs so they can continue to serve the public. A few words from the bully pulpit would do much to shore up shaky employee morale.

Last month, education Superintendent Paul Pastorek was heckled by protesters when he asked the state board to take control of 10 schools from two local school boards. Jindal is on record supporting the takeover of failing schools, but he could have reinforced that with a statement of confidence in Pastorek and the board. He also could have encouraged and challenged the half dozen parish boards with schools under state supervision to improve them and thus maintain control.

Jindal also supports LSU's plan for a new teaching hospital in New Orleans, but you wouldn't know it from his silence while preservationists accuse state health-care officials of plotting to destroy a neighborhood alleged to be historic.

Jindal knows how to delegate and he needn't be holding his administrators' hands with every controversy. Yet there are moments when they should know that he has their back, because he says so publicly, even if some other people don't like it.

It doesn't matter how many weekends he spends out of state, or even that he's back at his desk first thing Monday morning. When it comes to leadership, it's not his perfect attendance that we need, but, rather, his presence.


Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Today in Gay History

Happy Birthday
Lorde, Poet (1934-1992)

The work of African-American activist and writer Audre Lord was greatly influenced by her lesbianism.

Born on February 18, 1934, in New York City educated Hunter College and Columbia University. On completing her masters degree in library studies in 1961 at Columbia University, she initially worked as a librarian in New York.

Pursuing a distinguished academic career, she taught English at Hunter College, was a poet in residence at Tougaloo College, and a visiting lecturer throughout the United States.

After a divorce in 1970, Lorde began to have long-term relationships with women. Her lesbianism informed all of her work. Lorde's work challenges the conventions and norms of a racist, heterosexist, and homphobic society and stress the urgency of fighting against inequality. From her first texts, the poet reiterates her sexual identity and reaffirms her literary as well as social space. In her poetry, essays, interviews, and fiction, she articulates a political discourse that underscores the oppression suffered by black lesbians.

She died in 1992 after a long battle with cancer.
Part 1 in a Series, "Jindal, what's up with That?"

Jindal Signals Louisiana May Not Take Stimulus Money

Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, a potential 2012 GOP presidential candidate, has suggested his state may not be interested in all of the roughly $4 billion allotted to it in the economic stimulus package to be signed by President Obama today.

"We'll have to review each program, each new dollar to make sure that we understand what are the conditions, what are the strings and see whether it's beneficial for Louisiana to use those dollars," Jindal said, according to CBS affiliate WWLTV.

Jindal is scheduled to give the response to the president’s not-exactly-a-state-of-the-union address next Tuesday.

Louisiana reportedly faces a possible $2 billion budget shortfall next year. It has been allocated $538,575,876 for infrastructure spending in the stimulus package, and the White House predicts the bill will create 50,000 jobs in the state.

As WWLTV notes, New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin has said he’ll take any money that Louisiana turns down.

Seems to Crapaud that Jindal's hesitancy stems from what the bulk of Louisiana's $3.8 Billion share of the stimulus is designated: Medicaid, not a favorite of any conservatives. You know--those people--and all that.

According to WWL, "Included in the $3.8 billion: $1.7 billion for the state's Medicaid program, $587 million for public education, $455 million for road and bridge repair and $130 million in flexible dollars to help offset budget cuts. "


Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Bailout Blues--Where'd the $$ Go?

$800 Billion BAILOUT
or is it really $2 Trillion??

Meet freshman Congressman Alan Grayson
D Fla

and visit his campaign site for more vids here

Many are calling him "Bulldog."
Crapaud says: Welcome back Harry Truman!


Bipartisanship--Nothing New.

Opposing Obama on Stimulus, Republicans Party Like It's 1993

As predicted, House and Senate Republicans on Friday maintained their unified front in turning their backs on President Obama's economic recovery package. As it turns out, Obama wasn't the first Democrat to learn the hard way that bipartisanship is a one-way street for the GOP when it comes to the economy. In 1993, Bill Clinton's $496 billion stimulus and deficit-cutting program passed without a single Republican vote. But in 1981 and again in 2001, substantial numbers of Democrats acquiesced in backing regressive Reagan and Bush tax cuts which, also as predicted, drained the federal treasury.

The table above tells the tale. (Note that figures are not in real dollars adjusted for inflation.) While some turncoat Democrats helped Reagan and Bush sell their supply-side snake oil, Republicans then as now were determined to torpedo new Democratic presidents.

Read more HERE.


Monday, February 16, 2009

----Matthew Yglesias @ THINK PROGRESS ---- A Lazy Monday Guestatorial

The Gingrich Doctrine and the 21st Century


My colleague Satyam Khanna notes some of the broader context for the revelation that Representative Eric Cantor (R-VA) is explicitly modeling his tactics on Newt Gingrich’s obstructionism in 1993-94.

In Washington, coverage of politics is dominated by politics rather than the policy consequences of politics. Thus, because of the outcome of the 1994 elections, Gingrich’s 93-94 tactics are held to have been a great success. But it’s important to be clear—those tactics included lockstep opposition to a Clinton economic program whose opponents set it would wreck the economy, but in fact laid the groundwork for years of prosperity. Gingrich’s success in blocking health care reform has been a small but persistent drag on the economy whose negative impact has compounded each and every year for the past fifteen years and has led to the preventable deaths of thousands and thousands of people at a minimum. Politics is politics and I understand that, but anyone who looks to that era as something to be emulated is dangerously indifferent to the real-world implications of congressional behavior.


Meanwhile, the political contexts of the two eras strike me as different in a number of ways. Bill Clinton’s 43 percent share of the popular vote in the 1992 election made it plausible to believe that the center of public opinion was amenable to the idea that the President’s agenda needed curtailing. What’s more, the Democrats gained zero Senate seats and actually lost nine House seats. Under the circumstances, you can see why conservative felt emboldened. And their political strategy had a clear logic to it—a large number of Democrats in congress were representing constituencies that had pretty consistently been trending to the right in presidential politics since the 1960s. With a Democrat in the White House, the chance existed for a spirit of feisty opposition to force the voters in such constituencies to align their congressional preferences with their presidential ones.

That’s simply not the case this year. Not only did Obama have a more decisive win (obviously the absence of a third-party candidate is important here) but the Democratic caucus is more compact and includes many fewer outlier members whose constituencies are dramatically more conservative than the national electorate that backed Obama in November.

Of course, nobody can know what the results of all this will be, and objective occurrences in the world will have a large impact completely independently of the quality of Rep. Cantor’s tactical decisionmaking. But it does seem worth noting that the Virginia Republican Party, of which Cantor is a part, has not been a huge font of electoral success in recent years. Instead, the right-wing of the VA party has, with incredible speed and efficiency, turned one of the most solidly Republican states in the country into one with a decidedly blueish hue. When Mark Warner was elected governor in 2001, it was seen as a stroke of political genius to be able to carry the state. Then came Tim Kaine in 2005 and Jim Webb in 2006. In 2008, Democrats went from a 3-8 split of the state’s House seats to a 6-5 split. Warner became the state’s second Democratic Senator in a race that nobody paid any attention to because the state party had essentially thrown the election months earlier by driving their potentially electable candidate out of the race and throwing the nomination to a guy everyone knew would get his ass kicked.

In other words, though Gingrichism was politically successful in the mid-1990s, the record of Cantorism in the 21st century has been much weaker.


Sunday, February 15, 2009

Qua est Justicia? The Janus Effect?

Nonny Mouse, @ Crooks and Liars

has posted an excellent short piece asserting we must insist on seeking true justice beyond a simple "truth commission." As he eloquently demonstrates,
simply doing the right things henceforward while ignoring obvious past transgressions, does nothing for all the wrong reasons. Herewith, some excerpts, but the full post is excellent! Even quotes one of Crapaud's favorites, Hannah Arendt.

" it enough for the current president to insist that, regardless of whatever crimes his predecessor or those in his administration have committed, the United States now obeys the law, and that he prefers to ‘get it right moving forward’[?] It is simply not enough. ...Those in our government who have committed war crimes must be aggressively prosecuted; not simply because we are legally obligated to under our own laws, and under laws and treaties our country was instrumental in establishing for the entire world. Not because this country’s reputation has been devastated by such acts of barbarity and inhumanity on the part of our leaders we would instantly condemn as those more apposite to tin-pot dictators and tyrannical madmen. ...It is vital for our survival as a nation, as a people, as a society, and even for the future of our entire world that we do so. Because in the words of Hannah Arendt, ‘it is in the very nature of things human that every act that has once made its appearance and has been recorded in the history of mankind stays with mankind as a potentiality long after its actuality has become a thing of the past’. She wrote that in 1963, and was speaking about the trial of Adolf Eichmann in Jerusalem, but what she wrote then, about a different time, a different nation, a different crime, hold true today. ‘It is essentially for this reason: that the unprecedented, once it has appeared, may become precedent for the future, that all trials touching upon “crimes against humanity” must be judged according to a standard that is today still an “ideal”’.

For if we do nothing, if we protect those accused of war crimes from investigation out of a misguided, even perverse ‘respect’ for the offices these individuals held, if we allow those who have abused the power of their office in order to commit war crimes to escape from being judged, claiming immunity for reasons of exigent circumstances, we establish a precedent. It isn’t enough to remember, it is necessary to also act, if we are to prevent history from repeating itself. The Dick Cheneys and Donald Rumsfelds and George Bushes will return, again and again, with different names, and different faces, but the same lust for violence and disregard for the rule of law that should be enforced to protect us all from crimes against humanity, and it will be those of us who established the precedent of bestowing immunity on the perpetrators of today’s war crimes from their acts who will be responsible for tomorrow’s crimes against humanity.

It is not enough to simply remember. Those who will not face the past will face a future neither you nor I will want to live in. That is the Janus effect Obama will have to deal with, and soon, if our country has any real future to speak of."