Thursday, September 30, 2010

Biased Headline: "Kiss of Death"

The New York Post, a conservative tabloid owned by Rupert Murdoch, wrote one of the most offensive and anti-gay biased headlines one would expect from an anti-gay "family values" (ahem) spokesperson. Their front page was covered by a photo of Tyler Clementi, a gay freshman at Rutgers University who committed suicide after his straight roommate and a friend videotaped and then posted on the internet, an intimate encounter with another man. We don't know what ultimately led him to kill himself by jumping off the George Washington Bridge. We might learn about Mr. Clementi's state of mind as the the investigation continues.

Nothing but the paper's own conservative slant can explain the "Kiss of Death" headline or the grossly inaccurate "Webcam makeout student kills self" subtitle that appears on the front page. Unless one's lips are tainted with arson or some other poisonous substance, kisses do not lead people to commit suicide. A peer's reaction to that kiss could.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

What They Said on Don't Ask, Don't Tell

"Those were the only amendments that Reid would allow to come up for a vote, all of which were chosen by Reid for the political advantage they would give the Democrats in tough mid-term election campaigns. His gamble wasn’t really a gamble at all. In fact, his gambit was a win-win for Democrats, at least in how they see their strategy unfolding. If Republicans upheld the filibuster, then Reid could go home and say that it was the Republicans who blocked DADT’s repeal and immigration reform. If the Dems had prevailed on the filibuster, then Reid would have been able to get the Republican caucus on record on these two issues ahead of the November elections. Either way, what Reid actually sought to accomplish was political gamesmanship, not Senatorial statesmanship." - Jim Burroway at Box Turtle Bulletin

"As overtly unsympathetic as the Republican party has been to the gay community for almost as long as one can remember, don’t blame Republicans for the fact that “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” (DADT) is still in place and may in fact remain in place for many years. Blame Harry Reid and the Democrats. Rather than win a victory long sought by all members of the gay community and most members of the Democratic Party by delivering a clean military spending bill with DADT repeal, Harry Reid attached a controversial immigration amendment which would give illegal immigrants a path to citizenship. Mr. Reid’s reasons for attaching the bill have nothing to do with his desire to reform immigration and everything to do with his desire to get Hispanics to turn out so that he can beat a certifiable lunatic who would not have any chance of being elected to public office were he not so incompetent." Jeb Golinkin at FrumForum

"I think this could be a huge deal for the relationship between gay voters and the Democratic party. Over 75 percent of the public wants the ban ended, and yet even when the Democrats control both Houses and have a president opposed to the policy, they failed to end it in two years. Why? Because, sadly, it was not a real priority; and because the main lobby group, the Human Rights Campaign, is so enmeshed in the Democratic party establishment, it has no clout at all." - Andrew Sullivan at The Daily Dish

One party caters to its hateful base by voting against the measure while the other pretends to cater to its base by offering up a bill that its members do everything they possibly could to make it fail.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Gingrich and Sharia in Our Courts

Former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich says Congress should enact a law banning Sharia from being recognized by the federal courts.

I was not even aware that we had this problem. The Constitution strictly bans the federal government (and any public body since the First Amendment was incorporated) from recognizing religious doctrines as the law of the land. If at some point a rogue judge applies Sharia when settling a case (something that can I guess happen), the opposing side could always appeal their way up to the Supreme Court at which point the Court would in all likelihood overturn the federal judge who recognized Sharia as law.

In either event, Newt Gingrich's proposed law would be challenged as a direct violation of the Fourteenth Amendment's equal protection clause because it would specifically prohibit judges from one and only one religious group (Islam) from imposing their religious views on the rest of us. Judges who adhere to Jewish, Christian, or Hindu beliefs would be free to use Jewish, Christian, or Hindu beliefs to settle disputes between two legal parties.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

The Alienated American

And there was me — a non-Muslim, who has publicly criticized certain Islamic practices — flaccidly battling for Muslims worldwide. It got to the point that I was telling people I didn’t even know that their opinions were making my life downright “unlivable.”

It reminds me of how I used to experience so many mixed emotions when I’d see women in full burqa in Brooklyn: alarm at the spectacle (no matter how many times I’d seen it), followed by a certain feminist irk, and finally discomfiture at our cultural kinship. And then it would all turn into one strong emotion — protective rage — when I’d see a group of teenagers laughing and pointing at them.

"Every day, I lose America and America loses me, more and more. But I should still be in my honeymoon phase, since I’m actually just a 9-year-old American. And that’s my other association with autumn 2001. As luck would have it, my citizenship papers finally went through not long after the towers fell. That November, I was in a Brooklyn federal courtroom singing, along with a room full of immigrants, the national anthem that I hadn’t sung since K through 12.

I remember on that day, 9/11 leaving the foreground of my mind for the first time. I remember looking around that room and feeling, in spite of myself, a sense of optimism about the future. I remember feeling a part of something. I remember feeling thrilled at the official introduction of the hyphen that would from now on gracefully declare and demarcate my two worlds: Middle-Eastern-American. The same hyphen that today feels like a dagger that coarsely divides had once, not too long ago at all, been a symbol of a most hallowed bond."

Yes, Republicans keep telling the Middle Eastern Americans they are not Americans. Keep telling Muslim Americans that building a mosque 2 blocks from the old World Trade Center is a victory for terrorism. You just might convince them that they are the enemy.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Quote of the Day

"The worst and scariest thing in the world is the deficit, and before we do anything to help people without jobs, we must make sure it is "deficit-neutral," and also now is probably a good time to think about some long-term entitlement cuts. Also raising taxes during a recession is madness, and we must not do so, under any circumstances, even if it makes the deficit larger." - Alex Pareene, describing the utter stupidity behind the Republican/"moderate" Democratic political agenda in Salon

My view: To avoid a vote against preserving the middle class tax cuts (because the Republicans are, as President Barack Obama rightfully noted at yesterday's press conference, holding them hostage), the Democrats should let all of the tax cuts expire and then force a vote on a bill to restore the middle class tax cuts. Dare the Republicans who want to offer a tax cut to the rich to propose an amendment to the bill and force them to explain why, in a time when everyone is supposedly concerned about the deficit, they think it is prudent to help their rich donors and friends.

Friday, September 03, 2010

Dan Savage Unimpressed with Democrats' Gay Rights Record

Remember. The Democrats control all three elected bodies of government in the United States and they still have nothing to show for it.

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Tax Cuts and Obama

I think we are seeing the beginning of a pattern we first saw during the health care debate. The president floated a health care plan that would not completely satisfy the liberal base to see how they and the public at large would react. Progressive Democrats, to the surprise of a very few, complained, because the president did not include a public option within the health care package. They in turn, pressured the House into including a public option. Eventually, however, the Democrats in the senate buckled and the president, who did not make a serious pitch to the public via an address from the oval office, did nothing to to stop them from buckling.

We are seeing this process repeated in the debate about the possible extension of the Bush's expensive tax cuts with the senate and the president switching their roles. Senators who were elected in right of center to right-leaning states are saying the tax cuts enacted by the previous administration should be extended (at least temporarily) in their entirety. Those earning $250,000 a year or more would have their tax cuts extended as well. (I believe this concern for those living in McMansions is unwarranted, particularly when many working and middle class Americans are struggling to make their mortgage payments or finding work in a weak job climate.)

The president to date has not backed down (at least publicly) from the stance he took when he was running for the White House: we should let the tax cuts expire for those earning less than $250,000 a year while extending the tax cuts for those earning less. But unless the president forcefully defends this position and provide them with another, far more efficient means to grow our economy, the senate Democrats from these conservative states will get their wish.

Yesterday the president told us we are transitioning ourselves out of Iraq. We must, he says, move on. With all due respect to the president, we have moved on, so much so that he and more specifically his party in Congress is paying for it. As a whole, the American public is no longer paying attention to the events happening in Afghanistan and Iraq. It is far more concerned about his plans to jump start the economy, something which he has been conspicuously silent about as of late. We need to hear this president make the case for Keynesian economics. The private sector does not have the will to spend our way out of this recession so the public sector has to do it for them and for us.

The president has a unique opportunity. Our nation's infrastructure is crumbling. Roads, bridges, schools, and tunnels across the United States are in need of repair. High speed rail could provide commuters trapped in bottlenecks on the interstates and state highways with some relief. and this construction might spur new growth in the manufacturing sector as the demand for the parts needed to replace broken down bridges, schools and tunnels grows.

He should take it and make his case to the American public now, before the Democrats vote for a bill that squanders this country's future away for those who have little to fear.