Wednesday, July 18, 2007
If you're still confused, the best explanation I've seen yet for what the heck is going on in the Senate right now is at Firedoglake:
This is a pretty in-your-face procedural move from Reid — who gave the GOP leadership an opportunity to vote on all of the amendments up or down and, when they refused, Reid left the Grand Obstruction Party to stew in its own obstructionist failure. He’s left no cover for them or for the Bush Administration for continued stall and obstruct maneuvers on this — instead, the onus is on them to explain why their actions are focused on protecting the President’s flank, rather than on standing up for American soldiers and against more failed policies.
As for me, I enjoy the stories for what they are: stories. And they are very creatively illustrated in the form of Legos at a site called The Brick Testament. It really brings out the absurdity of taking these stories too literally in today's world. Enjoy!
You see, much of what goes on in the halls of Congress, well, it goes on in the halls of Congress — not on the House or Senate floor. And the Republicans in the Senate tried to make legal maneuvers in the committee rooms and hallways to keep the many proposed amendments (almost all aimed at requiring troop withdrawal) from ever making it to the floor for an honest vote. It is to the Democratic leadership's credit that they finally stood up and said “No.”
A candlelight vigil was held outside Congress last night as well, attended by 57 Representatives and 25 Senators. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-Ca.) said this to those assembled:
So I have one question for all of you: Are we united in speaking out against the Republican obstructionism on the floor of the United States Senate? If we are united let us respectfully proceed and listen to our Senators and bear witness to the obstructionism of the Republicans, and bear witness to their just saying ‘No’ to having a vote on Levin-Reed.
If we are unified then we will be successful and we will soon have the vote on Levin-Reed to end the war and bring the troops home.
If this was theater, it was public theater. And that is how our American democratic system is supposed to work. It remains to be seen how the voting will go on these amendments, but one thing is for sure: the Democrats in Congress have finally stood up to the Bush-Cheney war machine and said, “No more.”
Tuesday, July 17, 2007
I recently posted a story about Elizabeth Edwards reiterating her support for LGBT equality, and decrying President Bush's misguided opposition to the hate crimes bill. I got quite a long comment on this post by a reader who thinks I'm wrong. I'm glad to have differing viewpoints in this blog, and I don't mind a good debate. Read his comments here. The main gist of his comments are these two paragraphs:
When it comes to protection against murder, the law already treats people equally, inasmuch as it punishes perpetrators without regard for what might or might not have motivated those perpetrators to commit such crimes.
This issue is about the attempts of the GLBT community to steamroll opponents of their views into submission by slanderously implying that anyone who is not in favor of special (and therefore unequal) rights for minorities is guilty of advocating hate crimes against such people.
Sigh. Where do I begin? First off, I know this commenter is a straight white male because he makes that clear on his blog. (Complete with photo and profile as a “conservative Christian.”)
Secondly, let's look at his argument that “the law already treats people equally ....” Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha! That's a good one! Can you say “Scooter Libby?”
Seriously, I am reminded of that beautiful song by Louis Armstrong “What a Wonderful World,” because wouldn't it be a wonderful world if, in fact, we were all treated equally under the law? The sad reality is that we are not, and we cannot rely on human nature to make us behave civilly to each other and respect each other. We need to have the hate crimes bill enacted just like we have to have a statement on McDonald's coffee that says “Caution: this beverage is very hot.” We shouldn't have to put that on there! But we do, because the reality is, people will burn themselves on hot coffee and sue McDonald's if the restaurant doesn't warn them.
And the reality for minorities, commenter, is that we are targeted for violence, whereas you are not. And I don't think that many, if any, straight white men can know what it feels like to be a target because of who they are, genetically. As a gay woman, I would love to experience the safety of a straight white man for 24 hours. I would love to hold my spouse's hand and walk down a city street without worrying that we will be attacked. What does that feel like?
Next up, the commenter says this is an attempt by the “GLBT community to steamroll opponents into submission.” Oh yeah, that's right, I forgot about the “homosexual agenda” we have orders to promote. In our secret underground meetings. Where we carry pink pistols. Where we plan to indoctrinate your children into our “lifestyle.”
I'm sorry commenter, you're starting to sound like Bill O'Reilly just a little too much. There are many minorities other than just the LGBT community who support the hate crimes bill. I know we're any easy target, because saying “teh gays” gets the folks in the front pews all worked up. But hey, the police support the hate crimes bill:
Hispanic American Police Command Officers Association
Hispanic National Law Enforcement Association
International Association of Chiefs of Police
International Brotherhood of Police Officers
Major Cities Chiefs Association
National Asian Peace Officers Association
National Black Police Association
National Center for Women & Policing
National Coalition of Public Safety Officers
National District Attorneys Association
National Latino Police Officers Association
National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives
The list of supporters is too long to post, but you can see it at a wonderful site called Clergy Against Hate. These are the true Christians to me, living life as Jesus modeled for us.
And finally, readers, I want to share with you a statement from the commenter's own blog on the subject of the pending hate crimes bill:
I also think it likely that such a law will be used in order to suppress the free speech rights of those whose opinions on matters such as gay marriage and abortion are deemed politically incorrect by political liberals who have a tendency to abuse the court systems in order to impose their views on the general population.This is a myth that is floating around the Internet thanks to a conservative Christian group, the American Family Association (AFA). I'm not going to link to their site because I feel they are a vile, deceitful group and I don't want to give them any publicity. Go there at your own peril. Suffice it to say that this idea is so false that even Snopes, the authority on debunking urban myths (which this is) felt compelled to take it on:
In fact, the version of the bill passed by the House of Representatives on May 3, 2007 includes a clause that specifically precludes applying it to conduct protected by the free speech and free exercise of religion provisions of the Constitution:
Nothing in this Act, or the amendments made by this Act, shall be construed to prohibit any expressive conduct protected from legal prohibition by, or any activities protected by the free speech or free exercise clauses of, the First Amendment of the Constitution.
So, commenter, fear not. You'll still be free to continue to say anything you want when the hate crimes bill passes. And you're always welcome to visit this site and make comments. Free speech is a wonderful thing and I endorse it heartily. All I'm asking for with the hate crimes bill is equal protection from violence. And in order to ensure it is equal to what you, as a straight white man, have, it has to be law.
Monday, July 16, 2007
Webb, as you'll recall, sponsored an amendment to the defense spending bill currently being debated in the Senate. Webb's amendment called for US troops to get as much time off as they spend on deployment. Before Iraq, troops who were gone for a year got 2 years back. That long-standing policy has been thrown out the window in the Bush-Cheney “war on terror.” The amendment supporting the troops never it made it to the floor for a vote. That is pathetic, Senators.
According to Webb:
“The traditional operational policy has been if you’re gone for a year, you get two years back. We’re now in a situation where the soldiers and the Marines are having less than a 1 to 1 ratio.” Webb said. Turning to Graham, he added, “And somebody needs to speak up for them rather than defending what this President has been doing.”
Elizabeth Edwards, wife of former Senator John Edwards, reiterated her support for GLBT equality at HRC's San Francisco Gala Dinner on Saturday and said that her husband would be a leader on turning over anti-gay discriminatory laws affecting same-sex couples. Edwards also used her speech to decry President Bush's misguided opposition to the hate crimes bill in light of the recent attack of Satendar Singh, a Fijan immigrant and California resident who recently died from injuries sustained during an alleged anti-gay and racist hate crime attack:
"This president talks a lot about good and evil and the need to seek out evil doers," she told a packed auditorium. "But he doesn't seem to recognize the evil in hate crimes. The right to live without the fear of being murdered for whom we love is not a special right."
From her OpEd in the Wall Street Journal:
I received an email before the news conference from as rock-ribbed a Republican as you can find, a Georgia woman (middle-aged, entrepreneurial) who'd previously supported him. She said she'd had it. "I don't believe a word that comes out of his mouth." I was startled by her vehemence only because she is, as I said, rock-ribbed. Her email reminded me of another, one a friend received some months ago: "I took the W off my car today," it said on the subject line. It sounded like a country western song, like a great lament.
As I watched the news conference, it occurred to me that one of the things that might leave people feeling somewhat disoriented is the president's seemingly effortless high spirits. He's in a good mood. There was the usual teasing, the partly aggressive, partly joshing humor, the certitude. He doesn't seem to be suffering, which is jarring. Presidents in great enterprises that are going badly suffer: Lincoln, LBJ with his head in his hands. Why doesn't Mr. Bush? Every major domestic initiative of his second term has been ill thought through and ended in failure. His Iraq leadership has failed. His standing is lower than any previous president's since polling began. He's in a good mood. Discuss.
Americans have always been somewhat romantic about the meaning of our country, and the beacon it can be for the world, and what the Founders did. But they like the president to be the cool-eyed realist, the tough customer who understands harsh realities.
With Mr. Bush it is the people who are forced to be cool-eyed and realistic. He's the one who goes off on the toots. This is extremely irritating, and also unnatural. Actually it's weird.
Read the rest of the piece here.