in the Iowa Marriage Equality litigation!
Upon hearing they prevailed--
Just about all the Village teevee bobbleheads -- especially the Foxheads -- have been trying to find ways to shuffle the blame for the economic disaster now upon us onto the man Americans hired to fix the problem: Barack Obama.
It seemed like everywhere you turned a couple of weeks ago, we were hearing about the "Obama Bear Market." Mind you, they were positively gleeful about it; after all, they know their own future success hinges on Barack Obama's failure. And it worked for a little while: the mau-mauing over Obama's recovery plan certainly didn't help the market.
But now that we're at over 8,000 again? Crickets. That's all we hear.
So now they're crying "socialism" -- or is it "fascism"? -- and hysterically warning against One World Government. I think we can all see the direction this is heading, and it's not a healthy one.
The public sees it too: A Washington Post poll reveals some unpleasant truths for the right-wing pundits who pat themselves on the backs for keeping the flock of True Believers who plump up their ratings, these masters of the media who wield the power to alter public opinion.
Because it ain't working anymore. The rest of the world is gradually abandoning them:
Media Matters has more:
The Washington Post/ABC News poll, released on March 31, asked respondents who they thought "deserve[d]" the most "blame" for "the country's economic situation." Results for who deserved a "great deal" or "good amount" of blame are as follows:
* 80 percent said banks and other financial institutions
* 80 percent said large business corporations
* 72 percent said consumers
* 70 percent said the Bush administration
* 26 percent said the Obama administration
They also observe:
The "Obama bear market" is just one example of a pattern -- documented by Media Matters -- of the media leaving out relevant information about the role of Bush-era policies in discussing the current state of the economy. For example, in a March 8 Associated Press "analysis," Tom Raum suggested that Obama is to blame for job losses since he took office and even before he did so -- an argument rejected even by conservative CNBC host and National Review Online economics editor Larry Kudlow.
The Iowa Supreme Court this morning struck down a 1998 state law that limits marriage to one man and one woman.And the rumbling is already beginning -- the Republicans want to take up an amendment in the lege."If you'll remember when we proposed the Iowa marriage amendment, the Democrats' excuse for not taking it up was that it was in the hands of the Iowa Supreme Court," Senate Republican leader Paul McKinley of Chariton said Friday. "It was implied that should they find against traditional marriage, that the Legislature would handle that. I would certainly hope they'll keep their promise."
The ruling is viewed as a victory for the gay rights movement in Iowa and elsewhere, and a setback for social conservatives who wanted to protect traditional families.
...Richard Socarides, a former senior adviser to President Bill Clinton on gay civil rights, said today's decision could set the stage for other states. Socarides was was a senior political assistant for Iowa Sen. Tom Harkin in the early 1990s.
"I think it's significant because Iowa is considered a Midwest sate in the mainstream of American thought," Socarides said. "Unlike states on the coasts, there's nothing more American than Iowa. As they say during the presidential caucuses, 'As Iowa goes, so goes the nation.'"
[The Court considered the] five primary “interests of society” advanced [by the proponents of one man one woman marriage] in support of the legislature’s exclusive definition of marriage. The first three interests are broadly related to the advancement of child rearing. Specifically, the objectives centered on promoting
procreation, promoting child rearing by a mother and a father within a
marriage, and promoting stability in an opposite-sex relationship to raise
and nurture children. The fourth interest raised by the County addressed
the conservation of state resources, while the final reason concerned the
governmental interest in promoting the concept and integrity of the
traditional notion of marriage.
[In finding none of the reasons for denying marriage equality legally valid, the court stated, in conclusion:]
In the final analysis, we give respect to the views of all Iowans on the
issue of same-sex marriage—religious or otherwise—by giving respect to our
constitutional principles. These principles require that the state recognize
both opposite-sex and same-sex civil marriage. Religious doctrine and views
contrary to this principle of law are unaffected, and people can continue to
associate with the religion that best reflects their views. A religious
denomination can still define marriage as a union between a man and a
woman, and a marriage ceremony performed by a minister, priest, rabbi, or
other person ordained or designated as a leader of the person’s religious
faith does not lose its meaning as a sacrament or other religious institution.
The sanctity of all religious marriages celebrated in the future will have the
same meaning as those celebrated in the past. The only difference is civil
marriage will now take on a new meaning that reflects a more complete
understanding of equal protection of the law. This result is what our
Well, if you want to know why conservatives went crazy over the Sebelius nomination for Secretary of HHS, it isn't because of abortion (which she wouldn't have any power over), it's because of this:
Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius, President Barack Obama's choice to head the Health and Human Services Department, said Tuesday she backs his call for giving Americans the option of government-run health insurance as an alternative to private coverage.
The proposal for a public plan that would compete with private insurers has emerged as the most divisive issue as Obama seeks to overhaul the health system to reduce costs and shrink the ranks of 48 million uninsured. Republicans fear that the competing plan would drive some private insurers out of business.
"If the question is do I support a public option side-by-side with private insurers," Sebelius said, "yes I do."
The public option is pretty much the worst fear of the health care industry. Imagine them having to compete with a government agency - they'd have to be fair to consumers, keep prices down, and expand coverage... or go out of business.
Because this proves all their bluster about government being ineffective wrong. If they really think a public option will be expensive and inefficient, then why do they fear it?
Anti-Fascists Clash With White Supremacists
The (Passaic County, N.J.) Herald-News | March 25, 2009
Hate Group Wins Attorney Fees
WGNO News | March 26, 2009
Vandals Deface Marker Honoring Civil Rights Martyrs
The Clarion-Ledger | March 27, 2009
Nursing Students Attacked In Anti-Gay Hate Crime
The Seattle Times | March 25, 2009
Columnist: No 'Cure' For Hate
The Miami Herald | March 25, 2009
Kathy Griffin, the “D-List” comedienne and longtime LGBTQI rights supporter, appeared at a rally in Sacramento, CA yesterday holding this sign. Here’s what Kathy had to say to Californians who voted in favor of Prop 8:
“I’ve got a few questions for those who supported Proposition 8. My question is a very profound one. What the fuck is it to you? Why are people in this state, when we have so many things on our plate, we have a fiscal disaster going on, why does anyone even wasting their time with this issue? Why does anyone even care if gay people get married? You would never in a million years go up to a person of color and say ‘well, you know I hear that Black people want to get married now. I mean, it’s fine if they live together.” You would cringe, would you not? ‘I hear that Mexicans want to vote! There goes the neighborhood!’ Right? It would sound absolutelly silly. And yet, across the state, people are having dinner conversations saying, ‘well, do gay people really have the right to get married?’ Yes! Domestic union, domestic partnership is not the same.”
H/T to From the Left
A writer and editor and one-time member of the American Communist Party, Whittaker Chambers was not only forced into the world spotlight at a time of great national division, but he also became both a cause and a symbol of that division.
Summoned to appear before the much-feared House Un-American Activities Committee in 1948, Chambers accused Alger Hiss, a personable and successful executive who had previously worked at the U. S. State Department, of being a communist spy. Hiss vehemently denied the charge, though he was later convicted of perjury and served over three years in prison.
Scholars still debate the question of who lied and who told the truth in the Hiss-Chambers case. Rumors of Chambers' homosexuality and of an attraction or relationship between Chambers and Hiss persisted throughout the case and into the present. The aura of homosexuality in this case helped perpetuate the connection in the public mind between homosexuality and treason that was a hallmark of McCarthyism.
Chambers' Early Life
Whittaker Chambers was born Jay Vivian Chambers on April 1, 1901 into an aristocratic
In 1919, after graduation from high school, Chambers left home. Seeking experience and adventure, he spent several months working on railroad crews and in shipyards. He returned to enter
Communist Operative and Defector
Chambers' travels introduced him to the lives of working class people and immigrants and to the ideas of communism. He began to read the writings of Soviet Russian leader Vladimir Ilich Lenin and soon became a communist. He worked as a writer and editor for the party newspaper Daily Worker and, later, for the Stalinist organ The New Masses.
In 1932, Chambers was chosen by party leadership to be a part of an underground communist organization devoted to passing
In 1931 he had married fellow party member Esther Shemitz. They had two children, and Chambers began to fear for his family. He and Esther defected from the party and went into hiding for almost a year. In 1939, Chambers got a job as a book reviewer at Time magazine. As his past in the party underground became more distant, he took an increasingly public role in the journal and began to work his way up to editor.
HUAC Testimony and Homosexual "Confessions"
Chambers was a senior editor at Time in 1948 when anti-communist fervor began to sweep the
Hiss not only denied being a member of the communist underground, but also denied being close friends with Chambers. RICHARD NIXON, as 1st term Congressman from California, and the only lawyer on the HUACommittee, cross-examined Hiss for his own personal political advancement, lead the HUAC committee in getting Hiss to admit he'd lied under oath, and actually knew Chambers. During the hearings and Hiss's later perjury trial, his lawyers seemed to be planning to use Chambers' gay activities to discredit him. To forestall this, Chambers "confessed" to homosexual tendencies, but insisted that he had overcome them. The Hiss defense never brought up Chambers' gayness, perhaps fearing that the accusation might backfire on Hiss himself.
Chambers' Later Life
After Hiss was convicted, not of treason, but of lying to the grand jury, Chambers found that his own life would never be the same. The details of his past and the distasteful public exposure of the hearings had made his colleagues at Time reluctant to have him back. He served as a government witness in several other anti-communist hearings and spent several years writing his memoir of the affair, which became a best seller on its publication in 1952.
In 1955 he took a job with arch-conservatives William F. Buckley and Willi Schlamm as senior editor on the right-wing magazine National Review.
On July 9, 1961, six years after Alger Hiss was released from prison, Chambers died of a heart attack at his
Significance for glbtq History
The significance of the Chambers-Hiss case for glbtq history lies in the fact that it helped usher in McCarthyism, a dark period in American history in which gay men became the chief scapegoats of the Cold War. It was a time characterized by police harassment, witch hunts, suspicions of disloyalty, and dismissals from jobs, especially in the public sector. McCarthyism waned, but never died. Nixon rode the anti-Communist, anti-gay, lapel flag-pin wearing hatemongering all the way to the White House in 1968. Anita Bryant embraced Nixon.
In 1999, Peter K. Leisure, a federal judge in
The Smirking Chimp carried this commentary by Mary Shaw recently:
I was talking with an old friend recently, a self-described "conservative, but not a Republican". Eventually, of course, politics and current events found their way into the conversation. This included the economic crisis and government bailouts. And my friend shared his two cents' worth on the subject.
"It's not just the banks," my friend explained. "The Democrats think all businesses are evil, and they'll try to take them all over."
That assertion is, of course, ridiculous. The Democrats do not think all business are evil. And the Democrats don't want the government to take over all businesses. We just see this current recession as an example of the problems that can result from unregulated business run amok.
You wouldn't want a toddler to run free around the house without rules -- for his own protection and to protect the house and its other residents. Likewise, we don't want to allow businesses to pursue their self-centered agendas without some protections in place in the form of rules and accountability.
But there is a big difference between setting some rules and adopting the whole child.
And, while we have had to "adopt" some financial institutions that are allegedly "too big to fail", that doesn't mean that the government is going to take control of all businesses. Such a thing would likely never happen in this democratic republic. That rumor is the result of a ridiculous stretch of the imagination. Such is the power of the right wing's newest fright word: Socialism (which they wrongly equate with Communism).
It reminds me of the time my editor at the Philadelphia Daily News showed me a letter that he had received in response to one of my columns a few years ago. My column had called for some corporate accountability, so the letter accused me of hating capitalism. In response, I informed my editor that this was not the case, and that I would therefore still expect to receive payment for my columns.
These are two examples of the kinds of wild-eyed stereotyping and disinformation that can fire up the right-wing base and embolden right-wing lawmakers to stand in the way of any real social or economic progress.
And, as long as progressive Democrats still hold less than the 60 Senate seats needed to avert a filibuster, those on the right will continue to use every trick possible to undermine any attempt to bring about an economy that benefits the workers and the middle class, not just big business.
March 31, 1940
Congressman Barney Frank
United States congressman Barney Frank is known for his intelligence, his quick and acerbic wit, and his spirited defense of his social and political beliefs. He has been a leader not only in the cause of gay and lesbian rights, but also on issues including fair housing, consumer rights, banking, and immigration.
Frank was born on March 31, 1940 in Bayonne, New Jersey, where his father owned a truck stop. As a youngster Frank developed an interest in politics. He did not, however, foresee a career in government for himself because he observed in politics a dismaying amount of corruption and an inhospitable attitude toward Jews. He had, moreover, realized at the age of thirteen that he was gay, which also seemed an obstacle to a political career.
Frank first ran for the United States House of Representatives in 1980, when the incumbent, Father Robert Drinan, retired. Drinan endorsed Frank to succeed him, but Boston's Humberto Cardinal Medeiros tried to mobilize Catholics to vote against him because of his pro-choice stance. With narrow victories in both the primary and general elections, Frank became the Representative of the Fourth District of Massachusetts and began his career on the national stage.
The liberal freshman congressman zealously defended programs that protected low-income people, the elderly, and other groups at risk, and he was also a vigorous opponent of initiatives by the Reagan administration to give tax breaks to large corporations, especially those in the oil industry, at the expense of the general populace. One commentator noted that Frank showed "a combination of humor and conviction that left even ideological opponents paying him grudging respect."Although always an advocate for gay and lesbian rights, Frank was closeted at the beginning of his political career. Fearing that disclosing his sexual orientation would jeopardize his chances for election, Frank "made a conscious choice for a political career over a personal life." Gradually, however, he came out to various friends and colleagues, but it was not until 1987 that he commented publicly, when questioned by a reporter from the Boston Globe. The response of Frank's constituents was overwhelmingly favorable; letters of support outnumbered those critical of him by a margin of six to one.
Frank's record on gay and lesbian concerns is second to none, but he is far from a one-issue legislator. He has supported civil rights, gun control, fair housing, reproductive rights, and the medical use of marijuana. He favors a balanced approach toward environmental issues, opposing oil exploration in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge but also arguing against restrictions on the fishing industry that "are too rigid and reflect inaccurate science."
In 2003 Frank became the Ranking Member of the House Financial Services Committee, whose oversight includes issues of banking, insurance, real estate, consumer rights, and financial privacy laws. He has been Chair of that powerful committee since the Democrats regained control of Congress in 2006.
Frank has raised the profile of gays in government by attending White House dinners and other official functions with his partner. Herbert Moses, Frank's companion for over a decade, was the first partner of a gay Representative to be granted spousal access privileges to the Capitol. Frank and Moses parted amicably in 1998, about the same time Frank co-founded the National Stonewall Democrats. For severa years Frank attended events at the White House with his then partner, Sergio Pombo.
Frank is known for his intelligence, integrity, and work ethic. Called a "political theorist and pit bull at the same time" and "one of the most colorful and quotable figures in Congress" because of his quick and often biting wit and his rapid-fire style of speech, the congressman is a force to be reckoned with in debate and is also an engaging public speaker.
Frank calls political engagement and participation the most effective course for glbtq people. "Marches and demonstrations may be fun, but they don't affect politicians," he stated. Those who wish to bring about change should, he said, "vote and let [their] elected officials know [they]'re there."
JOHN HOPE FRANKLIN left us with a warning. The most important was on education. In a 2000 telephone interview, I felt his then-85 years seethe over the line from his home in Durham, N.C. To him, the use of standardized tests in our public schools to measure academic ability had gone way too far. He said it reminded him of 1935, when he walked from his historically African-American Fisk University, to white Vanderbilt University to take a test for a graduate studies program at Harvard.
"The professor at Vanderbilt literally threw the SAT at me," said Franklin, the historian who died this week at 94. "He was such a poor, crude critter. When I walked out of the building, I passed a black janitor who told me that I was the first black person he ever saw even being allowed to sit in that building."
Franklin made it to Harvard, earning a master's in 1936 and a doctorate in 1941. He lent his historical perspective to Thurgood Marshall's legal team to help persuade the Supreme Court to outlaw segregated schools in 1954. But it gnawed on him that racial segregation was replaced by class stratification in underfunded public schools. The crude way out for policy makers is to throw tests at the children.
"Yes, you want to know if a student can add or subtract or read in a certain way," Franklin said. ". . . What is much more important to know than a test score is a student's family life, personal life, their socialization, and so forth to help you determine what their abilities are and might be. I think the tests are stacked against any group that has disadvantages. The tests come out of laboratories where people have had certain kinds of experiences, say at prep schools and elite colleges, and have had various kinds of activities and social groups that are not part of an underprivileged student's experience."
In 2005, Franklin elaborated on the lack of willingness to equalize education to the Trotter Group of African-American newspaper columnists. "It's amazing," he said. "I sat at a table with three of our university presidents not too long ago. I thought they might discuss scholarship and the future of academic life in this country or something like that. But they were talking about how to make it into Class A athletics. . . . I'm not opposed to that, but these three great talents, or talented three people in position of leadership, are concerned with these matters and not with certain other matters . . . to assist us in moving to the next level. As long as we are concerned, not with those matters, but with other matters which it seems to me are inconsequential, I despair for the country."
Franklin's despair was lessened with the election of the nation's first African-American president. The day after Franklin died, President Obama told a town hall that in No Child Left Behind a test "doesn't even measure progress." He said teacher accountability "doesn't mean just a single, high-stakes standardized test. It also means that we're working with teachers to . . . maintain discipline in a classroom, what's the best way to get kids excited about science. Giving them the time and the resources to improve."
On curriculum, Obama added, "Instead of it being designed around sparking people's creativity and their interest in science, it ends up just being, 'Here's the test, here's what you have to learn,' which, you know the average kid is already squirming enough in their seat. Now they're thinking, 'Well, this is completely dull. This is completely uninteresting.' And they get turned off from science or math or all these wonderful subjects that potentially they could be passionate about. So what we want to do is not completely eliminate standardized tests. . . . We just don't want it to be the only thing."
Somewhere, Franklin is smiling. He went from being the first black person to sit in a Vanderbilt office to seeing the first black person run the Oval Office. There is no standardized test to measure how the nation went from there to that.
The poetry of Paul-Marie Verlaine celebrates both heterosexual and homosexual activity, including lesbian relationships.
Born into a bourgeois family in Metz, France, Verlaine was the pampered only child of a military father and doting mother. As a young boy, he moved with his parents to the outskirts of Paris, later the city of departure and return for an errant poet; and yet his calm early years did not presage the tempestuous and disorderly adulthood that was to follow.
Verlaine's conflicted sexuality became manifest in the late 1860s. Although taken with a friend and literary collaborator, Lucien Viotti, whose "ephebic body's exquisite proportions" he later described, Verlaine pursued a relationship with Mathilde Mauté, whom he married in 1870. La Bonne chanson (1870), dedicated to his new wife, sang with chaste sensitivity of her youthful beauty and of the marriage of their souls. He was nonetheless deeply distraught when Viotti died in combat the same year.
With his early publications, Verlaine gained renown and respect from other writers, including a young schoolboy and aspiring poet, Arthur Rimbaud, who wrote him admiring letters from the provinces. The convergence of Verlaine's marriage to Mathilde and the arrival of Rimbaud (at age 16) in Paris the following year exacerbated the conflict within Verlaine between bourgeois respectability and scandalous rebellion.
The bond between the two poets was nearly instantaneous. Verlaine spent less and less time at home with his pregnant wife and disapproving in-laws, and more and more time with Rimbaud, whose aesthetic project was to "discover the unknown through the unsettling of all the senses."
The younger, more audacious poet found a pliable and willing partner in Verlaine; together they scandalized their literary colleagues and the Mauté family. Often coming home drunk and occasionally abusing his wife, now the mother of the infant George, Verlaine was also experiencing new sensual delights with Rimbaud, and writing some of his most original poetry, which would later be collected in Romances sans paroles (1874).
The 1995 movie, Total Eclipse, tells the story of his tempestuous extra-marital affair with the younger poet, Arthur Rimbaud, portrayed by a young Leonardo DiCaprio.
Long story short, Verlaine is imprisoned for 2 years in Belgium for shooting Rimbaud in a fit of rage. They meet once briefly after, but Rimbaud is "over" Verlaine and rebuffs his advances and prosytelizing (Verlaine had "found God" in prison). Rimbaud goes off to North Africa and gives up writing, and dies a few years later from a neglected malignancy of his knee.
Verlaine "loses God," lives on to write his best poetry, have other male lovers, become severely addicted to absinthe, and dies in abject poverty living in a boarding house brothel in the company of two prostitutes.