Showing posts with label Democrats. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Democrats. Show all posts

Thursday, March 03, 2016

Republicans - and Democrats - YOU are responsible for Trump



Both parties deserve blame for creating the rise of what amounts to a Fascist candidate for President.

For years, Republicans have promoted and courted – usually with a wink and a knowing glance – racial and xenophobic politics. Mean-spirited attacks on the poor, demanding drug-testing for those on financial assistance and efforts to cut food stamp benefits – have been laced with an effort to generate warfare against a tiny portion of the population, even while slavishly throwing trillions of dollars at industry and runaway military spending. The purposeful intention has been to create an “us-versus-them” philosophy, blaming the poor, immigrants, and every “easy target” as the enemy. Beginning with Nixon’s “southern strategy” in the late 1960s, the GOP has actively courted a base that sees enemies all around. “Family Values” has become a buzzword in campaign literature for blaming gays and single mothers for the nation’s ills. Memes designed to justify the Police State and marginalize minorities have been carefully constructed to tap the darkest feelings of fear in every working-class, blue-collar white man in America. YOU, Republicans, created this monster: by courting this phenomenon, you always believed you could rely on those votes, without ever thinking that the voting block you created would ever rise, pitchforks in hand, to turn against you. Well, my friends, the chickens are coming home to roost. Trump has seized on this fear, and launched a classic fascist campaign, blaming immigrants and the poor for the economic mess we are in, cheering physical confrontation at campaign rallies, and openly showing disdain for the First and Fourth Amendments. Your subtle – and not-so-subtle – history of using racial and ethnic warfare as a standard campaign tool has created a populace that is actually acting on their fears.

But Democrats, please do not think you have had no role in this. The GOP has courted these people, but you have enraged them. One only needs to peruse the facebook postings and newspaper Op Ed pages to see how your response has to take this group of the electorate and further marginalize them. Examples of elitist, nasty, and disdainful comments directed against southerners, poor whites, evangelicals, and those who have jumped on the Trump bandwagon are plenty. By viewing – and branding - this group of the electorate as stupid, uneducated yokels, and pick-up driving redneck gun-toters with small penises - you have done what the GOP could never do: you marginalized a group that already feels fear and marginalization, and added to their anger and feelings of isolation. You don’t win hearts and minds by telling people they are stupid. Rather than build bridges and show how your policies might actually benefit these people, you have chosen, in your words and actions, to treat them like sub-Americans.

In other words, the GOP has convinced these people that there are un-American enemies out there who want to destroy their ways of life. You have answered the call by confirming that you despise these people, and that you need to legislate against their wishes “for their own good.”

Sociologically, the two major parties have created a disaffected group of low-income and middle-income Americans who are reeling under economic pressures and feel alienated, taken advantage of, and ignored by government leaders. A powerless sub-class. And they have now found their voice in Trump.

Meanwhile, both parties ignore their fears and anger: Both parties have spent us into unending debt, both parties have propped up a corrupt Banking Regime, both parties have refused to fix a broken immigration system, and both parties have acted in the interests of Big Pharma, Monsanto, and crony capitalism. Even as I write, even the Democratic National Committee is moving to eviscerate the Financial Consumer Protection Agency.

The prospect of a Trump Presidency is scary. But more scary is the situation that both Democrats and Republicans have created by pandering for votes, by playing divide and conquer with racial and class politics.

The Trump phenomenon is the result of a classic failure of career politicians to lead. He is your creation.

Saturday, September 01, 2012

Labor Day: Republicans and Democrats AWOL on Taft-Hartley


In a broadcast to the AFL-CIO merger meeting On December 5, 1955, President Dwight D. Eisenhower said,
You of organized labor and those who have gone before you in the union movement have helped make a unique contribution to the general welfare of the Republic--the development of the American philosophy of labor. This philosophy, if adopted globally, could bring about a world, prosperous, at peace, sharing the fruits of the earth with justice to all men. It would raise to freedom and prosperity hundreds of millions of men and women--and their children--who toil in slavery behind the Curtain.
One principle of this philosophy is: the ultimate values of mankind are spiritual; these values include liberty, human dignity, opportunity and equal rights and justice.

Workers want recognition as human beings and as individuals-before everything else. They want a job that gives them a feeling of satisfaction and self-expression. Good wages, respectable working conditions, reasonable hours, protection of status and security; these constitute the necessary foundations on which you build to reach your higher aims. “

When Eisenhower gave this speech in the 1950s, more than one-third of all American workers were members of a union. Unions were largely credited with bringing about the 40-hour work week, the 8-hour day, the concept of a “weekend,” health coverage, pension reform, and safe working conditions. But today, union membership in the private sector has fallen to 7.2% While some of that is due to changes in industry structure in the US, the single biggest factor that has contributed to the elimination of union protections and bargaining powers is the Taft-Hartley Act.

Passed in 1947 over the veto of President Harry Truman, the Taft-Hartley Act (often known in labor circles as "the slave-labor bill") has been described by Ralph Nader as "one of the great blows to American democracy…that fundamentally infringed on workers' human rights" -- most importantly, their right to unionize.


The includes the following provisions:


- Authorizes states to enact so-called ‘right-to-work’ laws. These laws undermine the ability to build effective unions by creating a free-rider problem—workers can enjoy the benefits of union membership in a workplace without actually joining the union or paying union dues. Right-to-work laws increase employer leverage to resist unions and vastly decrease union membership, thus dramatically diminishing unions' bargaining power. 23 states are currently right-to-work states, with legislation threatening in New Hampshire and Wisconsin.


- Defines "employees" for purposes of the Act as excluding supervisors. This diminishes the pool of workers eligible to be unionized. The exclusion of supervisors from union organizing activity also means they can be used (and coerced) as management's "front line" in anti-organizing efforts; what's more, employers can fire supervisors who try to unionize.


- Defines "employees" for purposes of the Act as excluding independent contractors. It means that institutions such as colleges can hire staff, often using grant funds, as ‘independent contractors,’ thus excluding them from benefits such as health insurance and pension, and denying them union membership and contractual benefits.


- Requires that election hearings on ‘matters of dispute’ be held before a union recognition election, thus delaying the election; these delays enables management to ‘buy time,’ and has been shown to give management an advantage as over time workers feel coerced into avoiding organizing activities.


- Establishes the "right" of management to campaign against a union organizing drive, thereby eliminating the time-honored legal principle of employer neutrality.


- Prohibits secondary and sympathy boycotts—boycotts directed to encourage neutral employers to pressure a defiant employer with which the union has a dispute. Secondary boycotts had been one of organized labor's most potent tools for organizing, negotiating and dispute settlement prior to the passage of Taft-Hartley.


- Enables the federal government to move in and demand an 80-day cooling off period if it deems a strike to be detrimental to the national interest.


The Act sent a clear message to employers: It is OK to bust unions and deny workers their rights to collectively bargain. Today, union membership is at historic 60-year lows, employer violations of labor rights are routine, and illegal firings of union supporters in labor organizing drives are at epidemic levels.


The advent of unions created a balance in bargaining power between ‘producers’ of labor (workers) and purchasers of labor (employers), providing for fairer conditions overall. The attempted destruction of unions through Taft-Hartley and recent political moves against public employee unions represents a scary step backwards in American history.


On labor issues, the Republicans are essentially a lost cause, preferring to regularly side with the owners and investors of businesses at the expense of common workers.



But Democrats have not been appreciably better.


The Taft-Hartley Act passed in 1947 with majority support of the Democratic majority in Congress. 

Under Truman in 1949, the Democrats failed to repeal Taft-Hartley.

Under Johnson in 1965 and 1966, the Democrats twice failed to repeal Section 14b of Taft-Hartley, the section that enabled states to outlaw union shops (so-called “right-to-work” laws).


Under Carter in 1977 and 1978, the Democrats failed to pass one bill that would have repealed the Taft-Hartley prohibition on solidarity picketing at construction sites and another bill to reform the National Labor Relations Board whose long delays and inconsequential employer sanctions had made it a shield for union-busting.


Under Clinton in 1993, the Democrats failed to pass a ban on permanent striker replacements.


Under Obama in 2009-2010, the Democrats failed to pass the Employee Free Choice Act for majority card check union recognition. Worse, unlike any previous period of Democratic majorities in both houses of Congress, the Democrats failed to even bring the bill to a vote.


Republicans claim that Democrats have been 'captured' by 'big union bosses.'  Democrats promise to deliver in campaign appearances, but those promises have amounted to little more than empty lip-service. 


It’s time for hardball politics if Labor - and the middle class - is to survive in this nation.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Energy: A New Green Paradigm


As the GOP convention approaches, I am sitting here listening to the Republicans explain their platform on Energy Policy on TV:  Increased Oil Drilling, building the keystone pipeline,  extracting oil and gas from the Canadian Tar Sands, increased use of Coal, relaxed standards for offshore drilling…..everything appears geared towards an explosion of dirty energy resources for “cheap energy” and Big Oil Profiteering.


Climate Change?  The Republicans don’t think government should address the issue.

Are they reading any news reports at all? Here are some of the news reports from the last 3 weeks:

In Iowa, about 58,000 fish died along a 42-mile stretch of the Des Moines River.   Biologists measured the water at 97 degrees in multiple spots.  (Toledo Blade)


In Connecticut, the Millstone Nuclear Power Station had to be shut down because the water in the Long Island Sound was too warm to effectively cool the reactor. (WWLP)

In Illinois, fish are dying in record numbers as state officials have raised the temperature at which water-cooled power plants can return water to area lakes and rivers. Hundreds of millions of gallons of water per day are now being returned into the waters at temperatures approaching 100 degrees. (Morris Daily Herald)

The weather has affected grain crops as well.  Corn futures– which sold for $2.00/bushel just 10 years ago -  have surged 60 percent since mid-June, closing yesterday at $8.075 a bushel.  The U.S. Department of Agriculture recently estimated U.S. corn yields will be at least 20% below the norm. 

Of course, much of the grain that is being harvested is not going anywhere: The Coast Guard has closed an eleven-mile stretch of the Mississippi River near Memphis to shipping after another barge grounded near Greenville, Miss. (WANE.com)


And in Kansas, “Bare ground and stagnant ponds of water can be seen where a flowing Arkansas River should be.” According to The National Weather Service, the water has ceased to flow at I-235.“There's a quarter of a billion dollars worth of grain in the port of lake providence alone and guess what? we can't move the barge. so, we'll bring in trucks it will take 7,000 trucks. They don't exist,” said Louisiana Agriculture Commissioner, Mike Strain. (WKSN News)

 

And that means there's less water flowing down Mississippi river into the Gulf of Mexico, and less outflow means saltwater from the Gulf is creeping in.  Cities in Louisiana cities have had to purchase emergency drinking water…and the entire city of New Orleans is now at risk. (NPR)

The loss of grain crops also affect the livestock who feed on grain - and eventually, the price of meat on supermarket shelves.  And non-food livestock, such as horses, are affected, too.

Tony Caldwell, owner of an 80 acre horse rescue ranch in Indiana, reports “Everybody is using their winter hay now. The pastures are destroyed and they probably won’t recover before winter. The price of hay has doubled, and the availability is down by 75 percent…Today the problem is not nearly as bad as it’s going to be.  It’s terribly bad today, but it is going to get a lot worse.”  (Business Week)


The hotter weather will not only affect the prices of food, but of health care as well.  At least 8 deaths have been blamed directly on this summer’s heat, and that doesn’t count deaths, injuries, and property losses from western forest fires.  Nor does it include deaths labeled as ‘respiratory failure’ or ‘natural causes’ from the elderly living in homes without air conditioning.  And looming on the horizon is the nation’s largest outbreak of West Nile virus, fed by the drought.

The mosquito responsible for the West Nile virus flourished during the summer's record heat and drought.   Updated figures from the Illinois State Department of Public Health show extremely high numbers of the Culex pipiens species have tested positive for the disease — 71 percent in DuPage County and nearly 60 percent in Cook. Officials consider 10% problematic. National figures show 1,118 cases and 41 deaths have been reported to the CDC — the highest number of cases through the third week of August since the disease was first detected in this country in 1999, and a substantial jump from last week's tally of 693 cases and 26 deaths. And the number of reported cases through the third week of August this year is nearly three times higher than the average over the last 10 years, according to the CDC.  (Chicago Tribune)

 I don't care whether you believe that climate change is natural or man-made.  The incontrovertible fact is that our climate IS changing, and it IS warming, and it is CHANGING our landscape.  And whether this is part of a natural cycle or man-made, is immaterial:  We must respond to it if we are going to avoid more catastrophes like these.

How? By reducing our greenhouse gas emissions.

(1) Higher Fuel Efficiency Standards for autos are a no-brainer.  I have been disgusted for the last several years attending the New York International Auto Show at NYC’s Javits Center, and reading the mpg statistics on new models.  The auto industry thinks it's offering something wonderful when a new car get 23 mpg.  They just don’t get it. (Actually, they do:  they can continue to offer crappy mileage because they can count on Republicans to obstruct fuel standards, and on Democrats to bail them out.)

(2) Amtrak and High-Speed Rail.  This country lags decades behind every developed nation in the world, including China, which has caught up and surpassed us on rail technology. While politicians throw money away on road projects for their home districts, subsidies for oil companies, sweetheart deals to ram through oil pipelines, exemptions for deepwater off-shore drilling safety devices, and auto company bailouts…..they wring their hands and hem and haw about investing in rail. And the Republicans seek to slash Amtrak's budget every year, rather than seeing trains as part of the solution to smog-choked highways.

(3) Energy-neutral Buildings.  In Europe, architects presume that a building that consumes more energy than it creates contains a Design Flaw. While the U.S. Congress continues to wring their hands over energy legislation, the European Union is requiring all residential buildings to produce nearly as much energy as they consume by 2020, in part by using renewable power sources. Public buildings will have to meet this standard two years earlier.  In urban centers, rooftop gardens and solar panels on a massive scale can lower temperatures, counter emissions, and save energy.


(4) Intolerance for Local NIMBY Obstructionism. Some of the most progressive, greenest, liberal people I know suddenly become ardent conservatives when windmills are proposed in their neighborhoods, or on mountain ridges that will impede their personal views.  Too Bad.  It is given to Congress and Congress alone to regulate interstate commerce, and if there is any product that crosses state lines, it is the national electric grid.  Far too many wind farms have been bogged down in local obstructionism, and it must stop.

(5) Local Farms, Local Food.  EVERY community needs to be a Right-to-Farm community (yes, even urban and suburban communities.) Uptight zoning regulations that outlaw chickens, restrict vegetable gardens from front yards, insist on crippling health regulations, and outlaw raw products need to go.  The Obama administration has been problematic on the left (FDA raids on raw milk farms), while snooty Republicans have used zoning to protect the landscape of their precious ‘burbs.  The more food that can be produced locally, the less food that has to be transported on the nation’s highways - and the fewer dollars and reliance on Monsanto and AgriBusiness.

We need more than Republicans who wear blinders, and Democrats who offer lip service to Energy Policy.  

We need a New, Green Paradigm.  Now.

.

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Republicans Lose Critical Elections All Night

On ballot issues ranging from statewide elections to union bargaining rights and voter access, Republicans took a beating in all corners of the nation tonight.

Perhaps the most closely watched ballot initiative was in Ohio, where voters rejected “Issue #2,” a Republican-supported initiative that would have severely restricted the rights of unions to pursue collective bargaining agreements. The vote was not even close, as voters in this swing-state rejected Republican Governor John Kasich’s bill by more than a 2:1 margin.

At the same time, voters in Maine have decisively rejected conservatives efforts to eliminate same-day registration for voting by a margin of 60% - 40%.

And in Kentucky, a state that saw a Republican Senate win in a special election just last year, voters elected to give four out of five statewide offices to Democrats. And in New York's Suffolk County (Long Island), where Republicans made the County Executive race a "referendum" on President Obama, the Republican candidate was losing by a surprisingly large margin of 55%-45% with roughly 40% of all precinct reporting. Further south in Virginia, that state elected its first openly gay State Senator, Adam Ebbin.

[Update from the West: Russell Pearce, the Arizona state senator from the Republican-dominated suburbs of Phoenix who wrote Arizona's controversial immigration law lost, was recalled last night 55%-45%. The election was widely seen as a referendum on tough measures against illegal immigrants.]

Nationally, Republicans have waged multi-state campaigns to restrict collective bargaining rights, oppose gay rights, impede voters from accessing the polls, and fomenting anti-immigrant sentiment. In my home state of New Hampshire, the Republican-dominated legislature supported all such measures.

When one considers that off-year elections tend to result in losses for the President’s party….and considering that the lower turnouts associated with these off-year elections almost always benefit Republicans...and considering the continuing economic malaise – these results should send a very clear message to the GOP:

Americans may not be thrilled with how Obama has handled his Presidency so far - in fact, they may be downright unhappy, frustrated, and/or disappointed - but by even greater numbers they completely reject the agenda of the current extremist Republicans.

Sunday, September 04, 2011

What Democrats can do about Obama

A liberal argues that the 2012 Democratic nomination should be debated -- with all options open

(This article by Matt Stoller first appeared 2 hours ago on salon.com)
From the debt ceiling fiasco to the recent rescheduling of a jobs speech at the behest of Speaker Boehner, it has not been a good summer for President Obama. Like Chinese water torture, Gallup's daily tracking poll has shown a steady and unrelenting drip of bad news. He has been in and out of the high 30s for his approval, and in the low to mid-50s for his disapproval.

George W. Bush's approval rating didn't drop this low until Katrina hit. And on the economy, 71 percent of Americans disapprove of how Obama is doing his job. Even among reliably Democratic groups -- union households, women and young people -- he's now unpopular.

No one, not even the president's defenders, expect his coming jobs speech to mean anything. When the president spoke during a recent market swoon, the market dropped another 100 points. Democrats may soon have to confront an uncomfortable truth, and ask whether Obama is a suitable choice at the top of the ticket in 2012. They may then have to ask themselves if there's any way they can push him off the top of the ticket.

That these questions have not yet been asked in any serious way shows how weak the Democratic Party is as a political organization. Yet this political weakness is not inevitable, it can be changed through courage and collective action by a few party insiders smart and principled enough to understand the value of a public debate, and by activists who are courageous enough to face the real legacy of the Obama years.

Obama has ruined the Democratic Party. The 2010 wipeout was an electoral catastrophe so bad you'd have to go back to 1894 to find comparable losses. From 2008 to 2010, according to Gallup, the fastest growing demographic party label was former Democrat. Obama took over the party in 2008 with 36 percent of Americans considering themselves Democrats. Within just two years, that number had dropped to 31 percent, which tied a 22-year low.

Of course, there are many rationalizations for Obama to remain the nominee. He's faced difficult opposition. He's passed major legislation. His presidency is historic. The economy is hard to resuscitate. But all such rationalizations evade the party's responsibilities to actually choose the nominee best suited to win votes. If Obama looks unlikely to get enough votes to win, he should not get the nomination.

If would be one thing if Obama were failing because he was too close to party orthodoxy. Yet his failures have come precisely because Obama has not listened to Democratic Party voters. He continued idiotic wars, bailed out banks, ignored luminaries like Paul Krugman, and generally did whatever he could to repudiate the New Deal. The Democratic Party should be the party of pay raises and homes, but under Obama it has become the party of pay cuts and foreclosures. Getting rid of Obama as the head of the party is the first step in reverting to form.

So why isn't there a legitimate primary challenger to Obama to make this case? Forty years ago, primaries were instituted in the Democratic Party as a response to party insiders having too much influence over nominations. These reforms were implemented before the prevalence of money in politics was as extreme as it is now. At this point, primary challenges are so expensive that a serious 2012 campaign would ironically require support of party insiders for viability. The party, inflexible as it was in 1968, is perhaps even more rigid today. As a result, no candidate has stepped up to challenge Obama in a primary, even though 32 percent of Democratic voters want one.

This is an institutional crisis for Democrats. The groups that fund and organize the party -- an uneasy alliance of financiers, conservative technology interests, the telecommunications industry, healthcare industries, labor unions, feminists, elite foundations, African-American church networks, academic elites, liberals at groups like MoveOn, the ACLU and the blogosphere -- are frustrated, but not one of them has broken from the pack. In remaining silent, they give their assent to the right-wing policy framework that first George W. Bush, and now Barack Obama, cemented in place. It will be nearly impossible to dislodge such a framework without starting within the Democratic Party itself.

In other words, party inflexibility has a price. If the economy worsens going into the fall, and the president continues as he has to attempt to cut Social Security, Democrats might be facing a Carter-Reagan scenario. Reagan, at first considered a lightweight candidate, ended up winning a landslide victory that devastated the Democratic Party in 1980. Carter wasn't the only loss; many significant liberal senators, such as George McGovern, John Culver and Birch Bayh, fell that year.

Today, it's clear that certain Democratic constituency groups -- unions especially -- are on their deathbed. A reinvigoration of debate over the nature of the American workplace is desperately needed, yet labor leaders seem to prefer supplicating quietly to politicians who betray them. This is not inevitable. People can show dignity.

So what can party leaders do? History offers one model. In 1892, the Democratic Party nominated Grover Cleveland, and with sweeping majorities in both houses, Democrats had control of the federal government for the first time since before the Civil War. Then a financial crisis, plus Cleveland's stubborn allegiance to banking interests, turned his presidency into a catastrophe for Democrats.

When taking state candidates into account, the 1894 midterm elections were comparable to the 2010 wipeout; Cleveland was disliked so ardently that party leaders pushed him out of running for reelection. Instead the Democrats nominated William Jennings Bryan, who introduced many populist themes into the party and began the ideological transformation that would culminate with the election of Franklin Roosevelt in 1932.

History doesn't repeat itself, but it does rhyme. If a few of the key constituency groups in the Democratic Party publicly wondered whether Obama should run for reelection, rumblings would start. Some organized constituency groups -- say some components of the AFL-CIO -- would need to announce that their support is up for grabs, based on a clear set of criteria. Given the Obama administration's rampant anti-labor policies, this wouldn't be an unreasonable posture. And then a senior politician, like, say, a Tom Harkin, would need to decide that he would want to encourage robust intra-party debate about the party's future.

Harkin could run as a "favorite son" of Iowa, and encourage people in the caucuses to send a message to the party and to Obama by choosing him. Other candidates could then emerge in early primary and caucus states, as a way of repudiating Obama's leadership. Candidates wouldn't have to pretend to be running for president or be presidential quality; they could simply stand in as favorite sons or daughters of their own geographic area. This would immediately fire up a highly aggressive and needed debate about the direction of the Democratic Party and the country at large. It would build a new set of leaders, and elevate others who would like to distance themselves from the Obama policy agenda.

In a few months, we'll know better if Obama still looks like a loser next year. If he does, that does not mean the Democratic Party must follow him down the path to oblivion.

For Obama, the die is cast. He has put forward his economic program, and it will work to return jobs and income, and get the votes, or it won't. Knocking on doors won't change that, nor will a donation in a $6 billion election season. What can change the reality of 2012 is if Richard Trumka, the president of the AFL-CIO, begins to take his job of representing workers seriously, and one or two establishment Democrats who remember liberalism decide to model courage for the younger generation. Then a robust debate can happen. Only by shaking up the current political order will solutions emerge.

Such debates tend to create institutional reforms -- the vibrant antiwar blogosphere of 2002-2006, and eventually the Obama campaign itself, emerged out of such a series of debates. Such a debate would also force the Obama campaign to come up with some answers to questions it would prefer to defer until after the election: Where are the jobs, and what is the plan to stop foreclosures? It would allow millions of Americans who have been hurt -- and who have benefited -- from administration policies, to have their say.

I wish I could say I was optimistic that party leaders will step forward and start the debate Democratic voters need. As for many, the last few years have shattered my faith in the political process. Obama has basically endorsed every major plank of George Bush's administration, yet Democrats still grant their approval. What we're finding out is that Obama's pathologically pro-establishment and conflict-averse DNA was funded by party insiders and embraced by liberal constituency groups in 2008 for a reason.

Political parties need to be flexible enough to allow for new ideas to come into the process, or else third parties or civil disorder are inevitable. All it would take to provide this flexibility are well-known Democratic elders who understand that rank and file Democrats deserve a choice, and a few political insiders who realize that they can increase their own power by encouraging a robust debate. I don't think this will happen. But just imagine if it did.

Matt Stoller is a fellow at the Roosevelt Institute. His twitter feed is @matthewstoller and he can be reached at stoller at gmail.com.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Kelly Ayotte: the Police State Candidate



Of the 33 Senate races taking place across the country this year, there are few whose outcome is as unpredictable right now as New Hampshire's. There are currently 4 major Republicans and 1 Democrat (Congressman Paul Hodes) running for an open Senate seat in this, a state that has voted both 'red' and 'blue' in recent elections. The danger is that in freedom-loving New Hampshire, this combination of candidates - and the support of the national GOP establishment in Washington, DC - could propel former NH Attorney General Kelly Ayotte, perhaps the most dangerous, pro-police-state politician the state has seen in decades, to front-runner status.

Anyone who has watched television in New Hampshire over the last few weeks has seen the barrage of Ayotte ads, each with the same theme: Ayotte put criminals behind bars. All but one of her ads features a uniformed police officer, and her latest shamelessly lauds her prosecution of the man guilty of killing Manchester Police Officer Michael Briggs.

But it is her other activities as the Granite State's Attorney General that should bring one to pause, if not shudder, for what she would bring to the legislative table. On a consistent basis, AG Ayotte testified before the state legislature to curtail civil liberties and protect the power of the police state. Four important examples:

1) The most egregious must be her abject lies about Medical Marijuana, delivered at last year's legislative debate.

She wrote,

"In fact, marijuana is an addictive drug that poses significant health consequences to its users, including those who may be using it for medical purposes...The use of smoked marijuana is opposed by all credible medical groups nationwide."

In fact, several major national medical groups have taken positive views of medical cannabis, including the American Academy of Physicians, the American Nurses Association and the American Public Health Association. In a 2001 report, even the American Medical Association noted that marijuana helped those suffering from certain ailments including HIV wasting syndrome and chemotherapy-induced nausea.

It is too bad she didn't consider the testimony of Fremont, NH resident Dennis Acton:

"...I am a cancer survivor and successfully used marijuana to treat severe nausea when my $1600 prescription didn't work. I testified along with many others at the Senate HHS Subcommittee hearing back in April. After the senate passed it, we were able to set up a meeting with the Governor. He was "unavailable" so he sent two policy advisors. About 20 of use showed up for this meeting and told our stories. … I really wish the Gov. could have been there to hear these moving stories. I wish other people like AG Kelly Ayotte... and others who dismiss the medicinal properties of marijuana (based on ignorance rather than science) could have heard this as well.

The bottom line is that terminally or severely ill people want to use marijuana to ease symptoms and to avoid becoming addicted to expensive and harmful opiate based drugs. It is just inconceivable that drugs like Oxycontin are readily available and are being abused terribly while marijuana is outlawed..."


Both the House and Senate adopted a medical marijuana bill, but the Senate lacked the votes to override the Governor's veto...a veto that relied, in part, on Ayotte's disgraceful testimony.

2) A second area is her continued opposition to permitting videotaping of police actions.

In 2009, House Bill 312 was submitted, simply permitting the recording (on a cell phone or other device) police activity. For years, police indiscretions have been brought to light through citizen vigilence (Even parking garages have video cameras these days!) The Bill was bipartisan, sponsored by 3 Democrats (Joel Winters, Susi Nord, and Maureen Mann) and 2 Republicans (Neal Kurk and Jenn Coffey), and passed the Democratically-controlled House.

Ayotte opposed the bill, likening the procedure to illegal wiretapping, and it died in the Senate.

3) In New Hampshire, "...Jury nullification is the undisputed power of the jury to acquit, even if its verdict is contrary to the law as given by the judge and contrary to the evidence." (State v. Hokanson, 140 N.H. at 721B906, cited in State of NH v Sanchez). This undisputed power is a check on a rule-oriented legal system that could result in terrible miscarriages of justice. And yet, when HB 906 was filed in 2007, simply requiring that jurors be informed of their existing, "undisputed" rights, Ayotte testified against the bill.

4)On two seperate occasions, Ayotte urged Governor Lynch to veto bills (2006 SB318 and 2009 HB160) that would establish the "Castle Doctrine" in New Hampshire. The Castle Doctrine gives a crime victim the right to use force when attacked when that victim is legally in a place where they have a right to be. Instead, Ayotte has supported the notion that a potential victim has a duty to retreat, rather than defend themselves...cold comfort to a woman walking home late at night and confronted in a dark street, or someone in a wheelchair, or a nightclub patron being surrounded by a group of thugs out to bash someone for fun.

Of course, this is also the Attorney General who advocated for the requirement that picture IDs be produced simply to purchase cough medicine...

Kelly Ayotte has spent her life enhancing and enlarging the power of the State and its Police and enforcement mechanisms as against its citizens. Having garnered the support of the GOP establishmentm, it is now no surprise that as the GOP primary nears, she is tripping over herself to embrace anti-immigration extremism, 14th-Amendment repeal nonsense, Sarah Palin, and the far-right elements that she needs to capture the nod.

But for anyone - Republican, Independent, or Democrat - who values New Hampshire's libertarian way of life, this candidate MUST be defeated. She does not, and must not, represent the people of New Hampshire.

Monday, May 10, 2010

The Politicization of Supreme Court Nominees...and why Kagan should be swiftly confirmed


The Supreme Court of the United States ("SCOTUS") occupies a role at the heart and soul of American society. As a co-equal branch of government, the Court has consistently been willing to act where Constitutional duty required, but where political strength was weak. The end of the Seperate but Equal doctrine, the right of adults to purchase birth control, the right of those uttering offensive speech to continue to exercise that right, have all been secured by the Court when politicians lacked the spines to do so. By choosing jurists and scholars in love with The Law itself, the great 'American Experiment' has lasted and been strengthened because of the vigilence of an institution that can weather the inflamed but fading passions of mob rule.

From 1900 to approximately 1969, Court nominees were afforded respect by both sides of the aisle. In that time frame, 28 Justices were approved unanimously by voice vote. One was rejected. And only 13 were confirmed with a smattering of 'nay' votes.

It is interesting to note that in that time period, the opposition to some of those Justices would later prove an embarassment:

Louis Brandeis, one of the most brightest legal scholars in the Court's history, was confirmed in 1916 by an unusual "split' vote of 47-22. It is shameful to think now that the nay votes were at least in part generated because he was first Jew nominated the High Court.

Similarly, Thurgood Marshall - the Court's first African-American - would be approved by a split vote of 69-11 in 1967.

When Hugo Black received 16 "no" votes in 1937, it was largely due to rumors (later confirmed) that he had been a member of the Klan in his earlier years. Even those 'no' votes were bipartisan, however, consisting of 10 Republicans and 6 Democrats.

All in all, prior to 1969, 41 of 42 nominees were confirmed....28 (fully 2/3 of them)unanimously.

In the modern era, however, we have chosen to reverse this approach, and we have turned most Court confirmations into a political fight. Between 1969 and today, 19 nominations have been made to the nation's highest Court. Of these, 3 were rejected (Bork, Carswell, and Haynesworth); 1 withdrew from nomination (Harriet Miers in 2005); 10 were confirmed on split votes; and only FIVE (barely one-quarter) were confirmed unanimously. And those five were all before 1987 - over 20 years ago.

We somehow have come to the conclusion in the last few decades that Court appointees should be instruments of Political Doctrine, rather than impartial judges of the Law, and so interest groups from all sides raise funds and wage battle over almost every nominee. Both the Democrats and Republicans are equally guilty of this warfare, and both should be ashamed, as qualified, professional, brilliant judges have received 'no' votes simply based on partisan ideology. Conservatives needlessly withheld 31 votes from Justice Sonia Sotomayor, an eminently qualified Jurist, just as liberals withheld 42 votes from Justice Samuel Alito, Jr. on political grounds.

The question before the Senate should not be, "Will this person further our party's legislative agenda?" The question should be, "Is this person qualified to analyze complicated fact patterns and impart sound legal reasoning to actual cases in a way that brings honor the nation's Highest Court?"

By that standard, Kagan is qualified. End of Discussion. Republicans should assent to her confirmation, and reverse the modern trend towards "getting one of ours in."

Once confirmed, I will admit that there is one aspect of the Court's make-up that does raise a flag, and that is the lack of anyone from a protestant background on the court. In a large way, this is indicative of changes in American Society, and from that perspective it is a positive development. On the other hand, depending on the survey quoted, protestants still comprise about 50% of the population. Now, I pesonally do not believe in 'group' politics; I judge induividuals as individuals. But the nomination of Sonia Sotomayor last year began an interesting debate.

Justice Sotomayor was criticized for the following comment she had made:

"I would hope that a wise Latina woman with the richness of her experiences would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male who hasn’t lived that life..."


What Justice Sotomayor suggested is that we are *all* a product of our backgrounds, and bring that background to the table with us. Often, that background gives us insights that others with differing backgrounds might not as readily understand.

I defended her remarks then, and continue to do so now. And so, I believe I am consistent when I suggest that a nation that has many, many devout Protestants may feel unrepresented because the insight that their particular background contributes may not find a voice on the Court. It is a legitimate concern.

But I am forced to wonder how many liberals who defended the 'wise latina' comment will simply dismiss protestant or evangelical concerns as lacking merit.

And I wonder how many conservative protestants who will now lament the loss of a 'protestant perspective' on the bench were willing to raise their voices in agreement when a wise latina woman offered the same arguement as they do now.

Of course, one could simply defend Sotomayor and criticize evangelicals - or vice versa - based on political positioning...an approach that will only perpetuate the destructive politicization of the Judical confirmation process. Better to recognize our diversity and differences and strive for balance...but to confirm Justice nominees based solely on qualifications.

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Thank you, Sen. Shaheen!



For almost a Century, the Federal Reserve System has engaged in a 'mission creep' that has extended its power and authority way beyond its Congressional authorization. Originally established to insure a stable money supply and to prevent the hyper-inflation that less-developed countries chronically endure, the "Fed" has expanded to become the nations primary guardian of gold reserves, controller of the currency, auditor of all federally-chartered banks, and check clearinghouse. In the last two years, they have stepped front-and-center into the nation's financial crisis, allowing Lehman Brothers to go belly-up while 'arranging' for the saving of AIG and Merryl Lynch. Through their "Troubled Asset Relief Program" (TARP), the Fed has permitted banks to borrow American taxpayer funds anonymously, and had lowered the Federal Discount Rate so low that loose credit has enabled insolvent and arrogant banking corporations to plunder the nations funds in legalized gambling with taxpayer funds and fraudulent financial instruments. Tellingly, some Regional Federal Reserve branches (Dallas in particular) have strenuously and openly disagreed with the decisions of what is arguably the most powerful institution in America.

Through all this, the Fed has remained insulated from acountability: with 7 Governors having terms of 14 years each (more than any elected official in the nation other than some NY Judgeships), and no congressional approval needed for their decisions to create money, influence interest rates, or determine how much banks must - or should - lend, the Fed has conducted the nations banking without having ever being audited.

A coalition of Senators and Members of Congress from the Left (Bernie Sanders) and the Libertarian Right (Ron Paul) have called for accountability and an audit of the Federal Reserve System. Today, New Hampshire Democratic Senator Jeanne Shaheen has added her voice to sponsoring this legislation.

She stands in stark contrast to Republican NH Senator Judd Gregg, who has defended the Fed's insularity and has attempted to block any audit of this institution.


Today's press release:

"Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) will co-sponsor an amendment that would require government auditors to open up the books at the Federal Reserve.

The "audit the Fed" measure, first introduced by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), is actually popular on both sides of the aisle, but is staunchly opposed by the White House, the Fed and the financial industry. Sanders is trying to round up the 60 votes it need to overcome a likely filibuster.

The Obama administration will most likely be under intense pressure to veto the entire financial reform bill if "audit the fed" survives.

Reporting by Brian Beutler
"


Now...which party is for accountability, transparency, and responsibility in government? Which party is being fiscally responsible?

Monday, March 15, 2010

Just call me a Blue Dog....


My post last week entitled "What is the Cheshire GOP Thinking?!," criticizing the invitation of Rick Santorum as a Lincoln Day Dinner speaker, was published as an online letter in the Keene Sentinel. Of the immediate responses, this one from someone calling themself "notta" was the most intriguing:

"I sincerely hope that Thom Simmons will NOT be running as a Republican.
I'll do everything I can to alert his voters as to who he is and what he stands for.
Thom should be running as a fiscal conservative Democrat--not a socally liberal Republican.

And Olympia Snowe is NOT a successful Republican. She's a disgrace to what we stand for. "


And there you have it. The voice of Republican Activism in New Hampshire.

Anti-Marriage Equality Town Meeting crusades (failing, thankfully, all around the state). Support for extremist, unsuccessful party spokesmen like Santorum coupled with disdain for traditional Yankee Moderates like Snowe. The extreme, the shrill, the hateful, the ignorant, the phobic, the mean-spirited, all in one ugly tangled bunch of worms. Well, it's time to cut the Gordian Knot, methinks.

Let me make clear that I am not afraid of the response I received. I never counted on the support of social conservatives in the first place. And secondly, the support of social conservatives, while possibly controlling in a Primary in a shrinking Republican Party, is insignificant at best and counter-productive at worst in a general election in Cheshire County.

And so, the time is come.

Yes, I am running for State Representative in Cheshire-4 (Chesterfield, Hinsdale, and Winchester) in 2010.

And yes, I am running as a Democrat.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Obama and the Democrats' "Gay Problem"


The Problem: The gay community is (pick one: annoyed, frustrated, outraged) at the slow pace of the Obama administration in delivering on campaign promises. The only serious legal challenge to DADT is being waged by the Log Cabin Republicans, and the Obama Justice Department is defending DADT in homophobic language. If the Log Cabin wins, the Republicans can make legitimate inroads into the formerly-solidly Democratic gay community. If they lose, the Obama administration will be blamed. Either way, Obama and the Democrats LOSE.

So...My Prediction:


1) Obama proposes a Freeze on federal spending.

2) Obama cuts a deal with the Pentagon that he will exempt the Defense budget from that freeze, if they will accept DADT.

3) Pentagon generals lukewarmly support DADT at Congressional hearings.

4) DADT repeal is embedded in the Defense budget. Conservative Republicans dont like to oppose defense budgets. Liberal Democrats see a way to end DADT. Differences in the Defense budget can be reconciled by the House-Senate Conference Committee, and passed by a simple majority, thus thwarting GOP efforts to filibuster now that Scott Brown is "the Forty-First."

5) With DADT repealed, the Federal Courts must throw out the lawsuit filed by the Log Cabin Republicans against DADT as it is now moot.

6) Obama claims that he and the Dems have saved the day for the GLBT community.

7) Obama then back tracks with Fundamentalists and reiterates his support for DOMA and for the idea that marriage should be reserved for "one-man-one-woman."

8) Gay Activists applaud Obama for ending DADT, dismiss the GOP, and ask the gay grass roots to "give Obama time" on DOMA. Gay money and votes continue to flow to the Democrats in lemming-like fashion.

Anyone wanna place bets?

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

New Hampshire's turn for an Independent?

Looking to both the East and West of the Granite State, there have been a series of successful state-wide Independent candidates. As far back as 1975, Mainers elected their first Independent Governor, James B. Longley. Longley, a center-left Democrat on social issues, left the Democratic Party over fiscal issues. Running as a fiscally-conservative and socially progressive Independent, he struck a chord with more Mainers than either the Republicans or Democrats, and left as his mark a reorganization of the University system. From 1995 to 2003, Mainers again elected an Independent, Angus King, with an eclectic philosophical record but who was perceived as very strong on educational issues, a recurrent issue in Maine politics.

To the West, Vermont sent Jim Jeffords to the U. S. Senate as a Republican three times. But in 2001, Jeffords switched to Independent, and the catalyst was Republican opposition to the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. Jeffords would strongly represent a civil libertarian position, opposing the ban on gays in the military and the FCC Decency Act (which would eventually be struck down by the Supreme Court), and opposing background checks at gun shows, the flag desecration amendment, and the use of military force in Iraq. On Economic issues, he supported the Balanced Budget Amendment and Free Trade agreements.

To the south of New Hampshire, Independent candidates are polling ahead of Democrats and Republicans in both Massachusetts and Rhode Island. Ex-Democrat Tim Cahill is running strongly in Massachusetts, with - surprise, surprise - a socially moderate and fiscally conservative approach. In Rhode Island, ex-Senator Lincoln Chaffee, who was targeted by the conservative wing of the GOP, is positioned as a pragmatic independent who is not as 'mean' as the shrill Republican base, but more fiscally responsible than the chaotic Democratic-lead statehouse. And of course in Connecticut, Independent Joe Lieberman felt ostracized by liberal Democrats, and has almost single-handedly prevented a new socialized health program from leaving the Senate.

One must ask: what traits do all of these Independent victories have in common?

First, Fiscal irresponsibility among Democrats.
Second, capture of the Republican Party by an extreme and shrill right wing.
Third, voter rejection of both (1) and (2) above, and falling party identification.
Fourth, Independent candidates who support fiscal responsibility; social tolerance and civil liberties; and who have strong pro-Education platforms.

Which brings us to New Hampshire, and the 2010 Gubernatorial election.

Governor John Lynch's record of fee & tax increases, free-wheeling spending, and fiscal incompetence will go down in history as legendary. Not in recent history has this state seen such deceitful budgeting, nor so many tax and fee increases. Combined with the national Obama juggernaut of staggering deficits and spending, a growing number of Americans from "the middle" - where elections are won - are pushing back against the Democrats irresponsibility.

Unfortunately, the Republican Party will not necessarily benefit from this anger. The Bush years convinced an entire generation of Americans that Republicans, too, stand for big government and big spending. Worse, the histrionics of right-wing media idols like Glenn Beck have painted the GOP as a party of the lunatic fringe.

NH GOP contender Karen Testerman represents the fringe that the public rejects: a co-founder of the Christianist "Cornerstone Policy Research," in 2003 she compared gays and lesbians to "shoplifters and drug addicts," and told the Nashua Telegraph that she would have to "prayerfully assess" her role in the Republican primary. In the second least 'evangelical' state in the union (Vermont being first), Testerman represents everything that most independents and moderate - and many former Republican voters fear most: a religious fringe candidate who will see the Office of Education and the Office of Health and Human Services as a personal crusade to impose theological opinion.

With the Democrats in disarray over the financial meltdown for which they and they alone are responsible, and the Republicans insisting on pandering to a shrill far-right base, New Hampshire and its swelling ranks of Independent voters may well be poised to elect an Independent who represents fiscal sanity, social tolerance, and a strong commitment to both Jobs and Education.

Now...who's stepping up to the plate?

Sunday, November 22, 2009

"If They're Democrats, It's Not Homophobia."

(Published today at the Indeoendent Gay Forum)
http://www.indegayforum.org/blog

by Stephen H. Miller

Yet another fawning Washington Post puff piece on an Obama staffer looks at White House deputy chief of staff Jim Messina, who was formerly chief of staff to Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.).The post relates this bit of history. In Baucus's 2002 senate race:

Messina masterminded a bruising attack ad against Republican state Sen. Mike Taylor, a former hairdresser. The ad featured video footage of Taylor, then decades younger and bearded, setting the hair and massaging the temples of a mustachioed man in a beauty salon chair -- with a funky bomp-chic-a-bomp-bomp '70s beat in the background. The spot ends with a frozen frame of Taylor reaching down and out of sight toward the other man's lap. Disapprovingly, a voice-over declares, "Mike Taylor: Not the way we do business here in Montana." ...

Stephanie Schriock [Montana's junior senator Jon Tester's chief of staff] cited the ad as one example of how Baucus has long appreciated and been served by Messina's killer instinct. "Jim was willing to make the hard call to put an ad out there," she said.
Nowhere does reporter Jason Horowitz question the use of overt homophobic stereotypes (regardless of the fact that Taylor wasn't, in fact, gay) to aid the Democrat's cause. But then, neither the politically supplicant media nor LGBT Democratic activists seem to mind pandering and promoting the denigration of gay people when it serves the interests of their party. (Which is to say, if it were a Republican administration, the appointment of a White House deputy chief of staff with this history would have triggered loud protests; here, it's just an amusing anecdote.)

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Massachusetts Democrats are Brazen Hypocrites



In 2004, The democrats were hoping against all odds that John Kerry would win the Presidency. Of course, that would mean that Kerry would have had to resign from the Senate...and Republican Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney would have had the authority to replace him with an appointment.

With all the appropriate breast-beating, impassioned speeches, and rhetorical flourishes, Democrats in Boston claimed that no Governor should have the 'right' to impose a Senator on the citizens, and they changed the law, insisting that any Senate vacancy be filled by a special election by The People.

Fast Forward five years. Sen Ted kennedy has died, and under the very law that the Democrats imposed, a special election should be held to fill the vacancy.

But hell hath no fury as a vested interest parading as a moral principle.

With another public display of breast-beating, impassioned speeches, and rhetorical flourishes, these same Boston Democrats now claim that the citizens should not be deprived of their right to be fully represented in the Senate..and have changed the law to permit the Governor the appoint Kennedy's replacement.

Of course, this time, the Governor, Deval Patrick, is Democrat.

I think i prefer the stench of roadkill skunk to this hypocrisy.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Obama Health Care: Watching Democrats Implode

God Knows, we *do* need health care reform in this country. Access to insurance, coverage of pre-existing conditions in financially sustainable insurance pools, a re-direction towards doctor-patient decision making, and tort reform should all be on the table.

Quite frankly, it's hard to tell what is on the table right now. The 1,000+ page bill is full of contradictions and embarassing terms, and President Obama seems hell-bent on pushing it through (whatever "it" is) come hell or high water.

I used to post on a popular progressive website (www.bluehampshire.com) devoted to New Hampshire happenings. It claims not to be a Democratic Party site, but, given the characters, it's darn close. In numerous posts I have asked that Obama deal directly and definitively with the provisions of his bill. I have asked him to address concerns that Americans will end up with a Netherlands-like approach to health care which rations treatment based on a cost-benefit analysis of the patient. I never called for defeat of his program: just a direct explanation of various provisions.

I explained my own medical issues, in intimate and heart-on-sleeve details, and wanted assurance that my health care would not suffer.

The response?

I have been called a "Troll." "Privileged." "Blind." It has been inferred that I am a racist (odd, as my family is racially mixed. But then, they did not know that, so they assumed I am a neonazi of some sort). They denied I had health issues. They ripped me up one side and down the other, in non-stop ad hominem arguments.

The Left's devotion to HealthCare Reform (even if they dont know what's in the bill, and especially if they are economically ignorant), surpasses the frenzy and delusion of the God-Hates-Fags Phelps Theocrats.

In fact, that is an apt comparison: the devotion of Obama's apostles on the left to his incoherent Health Care bill approaches religious fanaticism. Zealous devotion regardless of facts. Those who question the doctrine are immediately purged as "impure." When the citizens organize to protest at these Town-Meetings-cum-Theater events the President is hosting, they are derided as nazis, mobs, angry-white-males, neanderthals, Fox-News Idiots, etc.

The apparent formula that the left perceives is this:

Crowds + Organization + passion + grassroots + Obama = Good! Hope! Change!

But,

Crowds + Organization + passion + grassroots + Questioning Obama = EVIL!

The stridency of the left will prove to be its own worst enemy. I asked objective, honest questions, and was ripped to shreds. If this is how the Democrats are going to treat the average American with questions, they deserve the same drubbing that the theocrats on the right have taken.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Open Letter to the New Hampshire GOP re: Gay Marriage.

My name is Thom Simmons, and I urgently want to address the imminent vote on gay marriage.

I am 49 years old and a lifelong Republican. I was raised in an ardently Republican household, and have served on multiple Republican committees in a number of states, including the Advance Team for the Reagan Presidential campaign in 1980. In addition, I have always been an active church member.

And yet, in spite of all that, I am one of those who have almost given up on our party as I see us pandering relentlessly to an extreme and shrinking(though vocal) Theocratic base. The hopelessness I feel about our party’s direction is one of the reasons we see New Hampshire lurching from “Red” to “Blue....” and why, in Steve Schmidt's words, "the Republican Party is virtually extinct in the Northeast."

I am also a gay man, and chair of the New Hampshire Bears, the largest gay men’s organization in New Hampshire. One little-known fact about our 200+ members is that of those I have personally met, the majority were once married, heterosexually, some for many years. (Myself, I was married to my wife for almost 23 years, and we have a number of adopted children)

How could a man “turn gay?’’ How could a man live all those years and decide he was “gay” after all that time?

Well, he doesn’t.

Instead, he is barraged from the time he is a child with the message that to be gay is to be abnormal, evil, sinful, wrong, weird, disgusting, and shameful. And so, many, many of us try beyond reason to be what we are not, to fit into a box that someone else built and shoe-horned us into. And after years of exhausting fights with ourselves, we finally accept who we are.

We heard the taunts in grade school, we heard the snide remarks in the locker room, we hear our ‘friends’ tell jokes at the expense of gays, and we see TV parody us as limp-wristed feather-boa-wearing caricatures.

And now, more than ever before, we see our own government telling us, “you’re equal, but not ‘the same.’ You can have water and drink from a fountain, but you can’t drink from our fountain, because you are just Different.” The same arguments that justified segregation when I was a child are now being used to suggest that “civil unions” are somehow “good enough.”
They are not.

They send a strong message that while we will be ‘tolerated’ because it is the politically correct thing to do, we will not be accepted as fellow Americans with equal rights to pursue life, liberty, and happiness.

Please end the enforced inferiority. Gay men deal with many issues as they struggle with their sexuality, and to be set aside as “not good enough” or “not the same” by government is unacceptable. Mr. Sununu's comments about this bill being "garbage," and making snide references to San Francisco, is precisely the nasty politics that Democrats, Republicans, and Independents have all rejected here in the Granite State.

As a traditional Republican, I know that it is not the job of government to impose a culture, or a theology, or a ‘blueprint for life’ on its citizens. It is the job of government to preserve liberty and establish a level playing field.

New Hampshire has always been in vanguard of freedom and liberty. Please, I beg you, take a stand that puts what is right above what may be expedient.

Thank you
Thom Simmons
11 Richmond Rd
Fitzwilliam, NH 03447

Thursday, March 19, 2009

AIG Bonus payouts was NO loophole and NO mistake...

According to an article in this morning's New York Times,

"...Democrats are mostly responsible for the A.I.G. bonus debacle, since Senator Christopher J. Dodd of Connecticut, chairman of the Senate Banking Committee, inserted language in President Obama’s economic stimulus package to exempt bonuses granted by contract before Feb. 11 from general restrictions on bonus payments."

Of course, this has nothing to do with the fact that Christopher Dodd represents Connecticut, the Insurance Industry Capital of the United States.

Schmuck.

UPDATE: (From the NY Daily News)

Gov. Paterson stuck to his guns Saturday, insisting he knew nothing about a $100,000 donation from AIG to the state Democratic Party days before his office helped save the insurance giant.

State Republicans charged the Democrats with stonewalling an investigation into the Aug. 29 donation, uncovered last week by The Associated Press.

In the first week of September, Paterson launched negotiations to save the financially strapped company.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

The Democrat's "Religious Right"

Over at my fellow bloggers Joe.My.God and WickedGayBlog, there is an incessant harping on the Republican Party, and not a little antagonism towards those of us who would be gay and remain Republicans because of the Religious Right within our ranks. However, today's column by Wayne Besen ("Truth Wins Out" - www.waynebesen.com), who has impeccable credentials in the public fight against the Dobsons and "ex-Gay Movements" of the world, tells of the same problem at the higher echelons of the Democratic Party. I include parts of his article below:

Obama's Parent In The Pulpit Complex

"George W. Bush longed to escape his daddy's shadow, while Barack Obama has turned to shadowy preachers in his long search for a father figure. His filial approach to faith began with Rev. Jeremiah Wright and has now taken a sharp turn right.

The New York Times reports that the president has surrounded himself with a cadre of clerical crackpots known as the "Circle of Five." These holy men are: Rev. Joel Hunter, former head of the Christian Coalition; anti-gay Bishop T.D. Jakes; the ex-gay loving Rev. Kirbyjon Caldwell; and Jim "waffling" Wallis, a protean progressive. The only Obama shaman who isn't shameless is the civil rights era preacher Rev. Otis Moss Jr.

Rev. Jakes refers to homosexuality as "brokenness" and has claimed that he wouldn't hire a sexually active gay person. But it seems T.D. can't even keep his own son off the D.L. (down low). His "sexually broken" heir was arrested earlier this year for cruising a Dallas Park in search of gay men.

Wallis, the chief executive of Sojourners, a Christian magazine, holds "traditional" views on homosexuality and abortion, according to the Times article. Although Wallis has taken some affirmative steps on GLBT equality, he prides himself on not being a part of "the religious left."

Rev. Caldwell has endorsed Metanoia, an ex-gay ministry designed to "help homosexuals understand with God's help that 'change [is] possible." When the GLBT community worked to elect Obama, this is not what we thought he meant when he promised "change."

"Whoa, OK, so let's assume [the Obama Administration decides to release] a mealy mouthed message like 'the President does not believe in ex-gay therapy' or some such nonsense," wrote blogger Pam Spaulding. "If he doesn't, then what is he doing talking to Caldwell when there are plenty of other prominent pastors he could choose to break bread with who don't subscribe to that view?"

We must also remember that during his campaign, Obama tapped "ex-gay" gospel singer Donnie McClurkin to croon at a concert tour in South Carolina. And, this insult was compounded by the injury of selecting Rev. Rick Warren to give the Inauguration invocation.

I can live with Obama's poor Sunday choices if on Monday he hears our voices and passes landmark gay civil rights legislation. Still, it is disconcerting that such a cool and rational leader keeps returning to the theological armpit to fill his pulpit. Will spending time in the biblical backwater influence Obama's views and lead him to sell us down the river?

By embracing these conservative clerics, Obama is also setting a wretched example overseas. Last month, the State Department released a report to Congress that documents "an unfortunate crisis in human rights abuse directed against lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people worldwide." Much of this violence was the result of brutal religious oppression. Yet, Obama pals around with reprehensible reverends, thus undermining his own administration's call for moderate religious leadership abroad.

...[W]e expect Obama to understand that his clerical choices do matter. It is time Obama stops searching for Daddy and becomes the man of the (White) house, by picking preachers who are not at irreconcilable odds with his human rights policies.



© 2008 Wayne Besen. All rights reserved.
Anything But Straight | www.waynebesen.com