Saturday, February 09, 2013

Obama Administration to File Gay Marriage Briefs

The Obama administration has been under pressure to file briefs in both the DOMA appeal to the Supreme Court and in the Proposition 8 appeal as well.  Now, the decision has apparently been made to file the briefs and the speculation has now turned to what position the Obama administration and Justice Department will take on marriage equality.  With France and Britain moving towards full gay marriage (France will likely enact full passage before the U.S. Supreme Court enters its rulings), there is added pressure on Obama to come out for a constitutional right to marriage even though Obama seems to constantly dance around the issue.  A piece in NPR looks at some of the ongoing speculation as to how far Obama will go in arguing for marriage equality.  Here are highlights:

The Obama administration faces tricky political and legal questions on the subject of gay marriage. By the end of this month, the federal government is expected to file not just one but two briefs in a pair of same-sex marriage cases at the U.S. Supreme Court.

But it is the Proposition 8 case from California that poses the thornier questions for the administration — questions so difficult that the president himself is expected to make the final decision on what arguments the Justice Department will make in the Supreme Court.

Prop 8, as it is known, is the California ballot initiative banning same-sex marriage. It was narrowly approved by state voters in 2008. A federal district court struck down the law as unconstitutional discrimination in 2010. A federal appeals court later agreed, but on narrower grounds. Because there was a period of time in which same-sex couples could legally marry in California, the court said, it was unconstitutional for the state, through the ballot initiative, to take away a fundamental right it had previously granted.

The state, under both Republican and Democratic governors, has declined to defend the measure in court. So its ban on gay marriage is being defended by the sponsors of the initiative.

The Obama administration is not required to file any brief in the case because it does not directly involve federal law. But administration sources say the government will file a brief. Still unresolved is what the brief will say. And in this case, much more than most, there are numerous legal routes that the government can take.

The ultimate question — the one perhaps most people want an answer to but may not get — is whether same-sex couples have a constitutional right to marry. A Supreme Court decision that says yes to that would invalidate laws in some 30 states. But there are many legal avenues short of such a far-reaching argument that would invalidate Proposition 8 in California and leave laws in other states intact.

What makes this even dicier is that President Obama has changed his position, seemingly a lot, over the past eight months.  .   .   .   .
"It is important for me to go ahead and affirm that I think same-sex couples should be able to get married. And I continue to believe that this is an issue that is going to be worked out at the local level, because historically this has not been a federal issue," he said.

But eight months later at his inauguration, the president seemed to take a more expansive view. "Our journey is not complete until our gay brothers and sisters are treated like anyone else under the law. For if we are truly created equal, then surely the love we commit to one another must be equal as well," Obama said.  That language suggests the president believes in a more basic constitutional right to marry, analogous to the right enunciated in a unanimous 1967 Supreme Court ruling that struck down laws barring interracial marriage.

His administration could make a bold, full-throated defense of the right to marry, an argument that Obama seemed to suggest at his inaugural. Or it could argue a number of lesser positions: That California, having extended the right to marry to gay couples for a window of time, could not revoke the right. Or that California, like some other states, has a law extending all rights to same-sex couples, except the right to marry, and that such a distinction amounts to discrimination. Or it could argue that since the state is not defending the law, the case does not belong in court at all — that the sponsors of the initiative have no legal standing in court.

For the gay community, and for those advocating traditional marriage between a man and a woman, the position the government takes in this case is hugely important — if nothing else, as a symbol. Both sides have made formal presentations at the Justice Department urging the administration to take their side. But the deadline has already passed for a brief siding with Proposition 8 supporters, leaving only the question of what a brief on the other side will say.  Same-sex marriage advocates are holding their collective breath for now. . . .

Personally, I hope Obama summons the courage to  argue for a bold, broad ruling that would bring marriage equality nationwide (it's the only way Virginia will see marriage equality any time in the nearer future).  Whether he will summon such courage is the big question.  Those who said his personal support of gay marriage would hurt him in the 2012 election proved wrong.  A broad approach argument would mere place him in alignment with leading modern democracies and traditional US allies.

The GOP’s Real Problem: A Refusal to Repudiate the Bush/Cheney Disaster and the Ideology That Cause It

I exited the Republican Party as the Bush/Cheney nightmare began.  As noted many times before, one of the big reason for my exit was the fusion of the GOP and the Christofascists.  Related to it was the GOP rejection of logic and reason and the embrace of extremism that lead directly to the fiascoes in Iraq and Afghanistan.  I still remember watching the news as the cretinous George Bush announced the launch of the Iraq War - a war based on lies and a deliberate duping of the American public.  Add to the military disasters - which have needlessly thrown away thousands of American lives - the bankrupting of the country and the setting of the stage for the economic melt down, and one gets the root of the nation's current debt crisis and continued economic malaise.  Yet no one who is still in the Republican Party will take ownership and responsibility.  They - and this include some former GOP colleagues - rant about run away spending under Obama, yet the real debt explosion occurred on their lawless teams watch.  Andrew Sullivan sums up the problem well in a statement of the real historic facts that need to be daily thrown in the face of every member of the GOP when then start bloviating about the need for spending cuts.  Here are highlights:

When you have a party that hasn’t been able to repudiate the worst administration in modern times, and actually still attempt to hail it as some kind of achievement with respect to Iraq or Afghanistan or the debt, you cannot persuade anyone you have changed, or want to change.

Someone in the GOP needs to take Bush-Cheney apart, to show how they created the debt crisis we are in, by throwing away a surplus on unaffordable tax cuts, launching two unfunded wars, and one new unfunded entitlement. They need to take on the war crimes that has deeply undermined the soul of the United States. They need to note the catastrophic negligence that gave us the worst national security lapse since Pearl Harbor (9/11) despite being warned explicitly in advance, accept weak and false intelligence to launch a war they were too incompetent to fight or win, sat back as one of the worst hurricanes all but took out a major city, and was so negligent in bank regulation that we ended up with Lehman and all that subsequently took place.

These were not minor errors. They were catastrophic misjudgments which took an era of peace, surplus and prosperity and replaced it with a dystopia of massive debt, a lawless executive branch, two unwinnable wars, and a record of war crimes that had their source in the very Oval Office.

When will the Republicans hold themselves accountable for the things that have persuaded so many that this bunch of fanatics and deniers are unfit for government? When will they speak of Bush and Cheney and repudiate them?

The answer to Andrew's question unfortunately, never.  Those who saw the errors and would demand accountability have either been driven from the GOP or have exiled themselves because they could no longer stand the insanity, hate and bigotry.

Saturday Morning Male Beauty

"Ex-Gay" Blogger, Sells Computer, Locks Phone To "Prevent Giving Into Temptation"

'Ex-gay' Matt Moore is taking extra steps to 'prevent giving into temptation' again. (Zinnia Jones/Freethoughtblog)
One of the biggest farces and lies perpetuated by the Christofascists and the professional Christian set is the utterly discredited myth that gays can "change" and become heterosexual.  It always seems that the only "ex-gays" to be found are those making a buck pretending to have "found Jesus and walked away from homosexuality."  Of course, in reality, they are still gay as a goose and history is replete with those who fall off the wagon if you will and just can't stop their yearning for same sex intimacy.  The latest "ex-gay" to be caught living a double life is Matt Moore, a purported "ex-gay" who all too typically makes a living pretending to be "changed" who was caught using Grindr seeking hook ups to do the nasty with other males.   Now, it turns out that Moore claims to have sold his computer and locked his cell phone in order to prevent himself from "giving into temptation" all of which underscores the "ex-gay" lie since, obviously, if Jesus has miraculously changed one, temptation should no longer be happening in the first place.  Clearly, if Moore wasn't a liar and if he had any self-respect, he'd cease the batshitery.  Here are excepts from Huffington Post on Moore's ridiculous lies:

The "ex-gay" Christian blogger and religious advocate revealed to be leading a double life on Grindr is taking some further measures to "prevent giving into temptation" again. 

Christian Post blogger Matt Moore was first exposed by blogger Zinnia Jones on Monday after a reader alerted her to Moore's picture on the gay-dating app Grindr. Moore's activities might not be anyone's business, except he publicly touts that homosexuality is a sin and an abomination to God. He even directs his anti-gay message at children

After the exposé, Moore repented, and now he is going to extra lengths to "prevent giving into temptation" once more.  "I have sold my computer and have had someone put a lock on my phone where I cannot download apps or access the Internet through a non-filtered browser," Moore told the Christian Post in a recent interview. "Ultimately, this isn't the solution. My heart being captured by the grace of God and brought into humble obedience is the solution. But not taking precautions is dumb, so these are the precautions I have taken." 

On Wednesday, Moore wrote a blog post about his Grindr activities and the reversion back to his "old lifestyle." He said he has been depressed and that he purposefully sinned against God. He insists that he does not believe he is a heterosexual or "cured" but that he is committed to "asking [God] to change my heart — so that whatever my desires may be, I choose Him over them."

Jones, who first "outed" Moore, also responded to her actions in a blog post on Wednesday. She explained that she decided to expose Moore because his "ex-gay" theories can harm others.

The lies and hypocrisy of frauds like Moore and other "ex-gays" for pay is shocking.  What's also shocking is the number of apparent simpletons who fall for this bullshit and throw away thousands of dollars by enrolling in "ex-gay" ministries that make voodoo look like legitimate medical practice in comparison.  While I admittedly deceived myself for 37 years trying to be straight, at least I did throw away money to snake oil merchants. Plus, I was a twenty something back in the days before modern knowledge on sexual orientation.  Moore doesn't have that excuse.

Suicidal Republicans

A post earlier this week noted that Karl Rove and other big money GOP donors are establishing a plan to defeat Tea Party and Christofascist backed candidates who, while the darlings of the delusional and deranged Christofascist/Tea Party crowd, are radioactive in general elections.  Not surprisingly, the Kool-Aid drinkers are NOT happy with Mr. Rove and his cohorts.  The spittle is flying and the indignation is ramping up off the charts.  All of which may be good news for rational, sentient voters who want practical, pragmatic, get the job done individuals elected to the House of Representatives and U. S. Senate.  A GOP civil war could well allow Democrats to sweep elections as the Christofascists and Tea Party lunatics drag the GOP downward.  A column in the New York Times looks at the reaction of the knuckle draggers to the Rove plan.  The coming intra-party fght should make for great spectator sport.  Here are column highlights:

Last week, the opening salvos were launched in a very public and very nasty civil war between establishment Republicans and Tea Party supporters when it was reported that Karl Rove was backing a new group, the Conservative Victory Project, to counter the Tea Party’s selection of loopy congressional candidates who lose in general elections. 

The Tea Party was having none of it. It sees Rove’s group as a brazen attack on the Tea Party movement, which it is. Rove sees winning as a practical matter. The Tea Party counts victory in layers of philosophical purity. 

Politico reported this week that an unnamed “senior Republican operative” said that one of the party’s biggest problems was “ ‘suicide conservatives, who would rather lose elections than win seats with moderates.’ ”  Democrats could be the ultimate beneficiaries of this tiff. Of the 33 Senate seats up for election in 2014, 20 are held by Democrats. Seven of those 20 are in states that President Obama lost in the last presidential election. Republicans would have to pick up only a handful of seats to take control of the chamber. 

But some in the Tea Party are threatening that if their candidate is defeated in the primaries by a candidate backed by Rove’s group, they might still run the Tea Party candidate in the general election. That would virtually guarantee a Democratic victory. 

Sal Russo, a Tea Party strategist, told Politico: “We discourage our people from supporting third-party candidates by saying ‘that’s a big mistake. We shouldn’t do that.’ ” He added: “But if the position [Rove’s allies] take is rule or ruin — well, two can play that game. And if we get pushed, we’re not going to be able to keep the lid on that.”

The skirmish speaks to a broader problem: a party that has lost its way and can’t rally around a unified, coherent vision of what it wants to be when it grows up.  The traditional Republican message doesn’t work. Rhetorically, the G.O.P. is the party of calamity. The sky is always falling. Everything is broken. Freedoms are eroding. Tomorrow is dimmer than today.   In Republicans’ world, we must tighten our belts until we crush our spines. We must take a road to prosperity that runs through the desert of austerity. We must cut to grow. Republicans are the last guardians against bad governance.  

But how can they sell this message to a public that has rejected it in the last two presidential elections?  Some say keep the terms but soften the tone. A raft of Republicans, many of them possible contenders in 2016, have been trying this approach. 

The Tea Party crowd did not seem pleased with that plan [on immigration reform]. Glenn Beck, the self-described “rodeo clown” of the right, said:  “You’ve got John McCain, Lindsey Graham, and now Marco Rubio joining them because Marco Rubio just has to win elections. I’m done. I’m done. Learn the Constitution. Somebody has to keep a remnant of the Constitution alive.” 

For Beck’s wing of the party, moderation is surrender, and surrender is death. It seems to want to go further out on a limb that’s getting ever more narrow. For that crowd, being a Tea Party supporter is more a religion than a political philosophy. They believe so deeply and fervently in it that they see no need for either message massage or actual compromise..  .  .  .  For this brand of Republican, there is victory in self-righteous defeat. 

Yes, it is a religion with these folks since a high proportion of the Tea Party are also Christofascists and white supremacists.  The want to keep America white and conservative Christian or go down trying.   Let's hope that they get their death wish.  The future of the nation depends upon killing this type of extremism and bigotry.

Catholic Bishops Seek to Torpedo Immigration Protections for Bi-National Couples

Even as more filth within the Catholic Church hierarchy has been exposed by the ongoing release of documents from the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, the Roman Catholic bishops have stepped up their anti-gay jihad and are pressuring politicians to strip provisions from immigration reform bills that would give legally married bi-national same sex couples the same immigration rights afforded to heterosexual couples.  It's part and parcel of the bishops' continued speaking out of both sides of their mouths while they disingenuously state that gays should be treated with dignity even as they do all in their power to strip away LGBT rights and dignity.  One has to wonder (i) do the bishops think these tactics will distract the laity from the horrors the bishops, cardinals and Popes allowed and perpetuated, and (ii) why does any politician listen to these bitter old men, many of whom ought to be behind bars for their roles in the sexual abuse of children?  The Associated Press is reporting on the bishop's anti-gay efforts. Here are highlights:

The nation's Roman Catholic bishops are in a difficult position as the debate over immigration reform gets underway: The immigrant-built American church, known for advocating a broad welcome for migrants and refugees, could end up opposing reform because it would recognize same-sex partners.

Proposals by President Barack Obama and the Congressional Hispanic Caucus include the same-sex partners of Americans among those who would be eligible for visas. The Human Rights Campaign and other gay advocates welcomed the recognition, arguing current laws unfairly treat people in gay or lesbian relationships "as strangers." The idea has the backing of the National Council de la Raza and other liberal Latino groups.

But Catholic bishops, with the support of evangelicals and other theological conservatives, have sent a letter to Obama protesting his proposal. In a sign of the sensitivity of the issue, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops would not provide a copy of the statement, saying the signatories agreed not to make the letter public. Sister Mary Ann Walsh, a spokeswoman for the bishops, would say only that recognition of gay couples in the president's reform proposals "jeopardizes passage of the bill."

Many other major religious groups lobbying for reform, such as The Episcopal Church, either support gay marriage or don't make homosexuality a focus. In a conference call this week with reporters, White House Domestic Policy Council director Cecilia Munoz was asked whether Obama would support a bill that didn't acknowledge same-sex partners. Her only response: "The president's position on that is very clear."

It seems unlikely the bishops would accept any provision for same-sex partners— even for an issue as important to the church as immigration.

Ultimately, the controversy could split Catholics, in much the same way that Catholics divided over health care. Despite enormous pressure from the bishops, the Catholic Health Association, a trade group that represents hospitals, provided critical backing for the president's health care legislation. Surveys have found that large majorities of lay Catholics back same-sex marriage or civil unions.  Given the importance of Latinos to the U.S. church, political observers wonder how bishops could explain their opposition to Hispanic parishioners.

Frankly, what's needed is more criminal investigations of - and criminal prosecutions of bishops and cardinals for their roles in the worldwide criminal conspiracy to protect predators and obstruct justice.  Perhaps then these foul men wouldn't have time to work to deprive others of their civil legal rights - they'd be too busy trying to save their own sorry asses.

GOP Extremism Hits Hampton Raods Defense Industry

Hampton Roads is about to be dealt a harsh economic blow as sequestration hits next month and the irony is that many local voters elected a trio of GOP extremists - Randy Forbes, Scott Rigell and Rob Wittman - who are part cadre of GOP saboteurs in the House of Representatives that are about to inflict the grievous economic wound to the region.  As the saying goes, be careful what you wish for.  Besides delaying the deployment of the carrier Harry S. Truman, the U.S. Navy has announced that it will delay sending the carrier Abraham Lincoln in for a lengthy and expensive ($3.3 billion) overhaul at Newport News Shipbuilding, Virginia's largest private employer.  Literally thousands of jobs are in limbo.  What's disturbing that Forbes, Rigell and Wittman never miss a beat in pandering to Christofascists and Tea Party elements of the Republican Party base, but when it comes to the jobs and livelihoods of thousands of Virginians they are missing in action and as Rhett Butler said to Scarlett, "don't give a damn."  A further irony is that but for GOP gerrymandering of congressional districts prior to the 2012 elections, Rigell would likely have been voted out of office back in November.  Both my partner and I have several family members employed at Newport News Shipbuilding, so these worries are personal.  But on a larger scale, perhaps some local knee jerk supporters of the GOP will finally open their eyes to the fact that today's GOP is toxic and a threat to the region's and nation's future.  Here are details from a Virginian Pilot piece on the coming GOP caused economic blows to Hampton Roads:

Ever since the Abraham Lincoln pulled into its new homeport at Norfolk Naval Station in August, the crew has been working to prepare the aircraft carrier for its midlife nuclear refueling.

But less than a week before the ship was set to steam to the shipyard in Newport News, the Navy announced it was postponing the elaborate overhaul because of a lack of funding - the latest in a line of drastic defense cuts tied to the federal budget crisis.  The Lincoln will remain moored at the Norfolk base until Congress resolves the shortfall created by its inability to agree on a budget, a Navy spokesman said.

"The fiscal uncertainty created by not having an appropriations bill, and the measures we are forced to take as a result, place significant stress on an already strained force and undermine the stability of a fragile industrial base," Navy spokesman Lt. Cmdr. Chris Servello said in a statement. The overhaul was timed to take place midway through the 50-year lifespan of the Lincoln, which was commissioned in 1989.

In addition to the Lincoln not being ready to deploy for a longer period, the postponement also affects other carriers scheduled to enter the shipyard. Particularly affected will be the dismantling of the recently inactivated carrier Enterprise, set to begin in June, and the pending refueling of the carrier George Washington, scheduled for 2016.

The change will affect numerous jobs at Newport News Shipbuilding. The Lincoln's "refueling and complex overhaul" is expected to take at least three years and cost $3.3 billion. Servello said the Navy's funding is short by $1.5 billion.

The move will also affect the local economy.  Weeks ago, the Navy released a list of tentative cuts because of the budget squeeze, including plans to cancel third- and fourth-quarter ship maintenance. Retired Rear Adm. Joe Carnevale, a defense adviser with the Shipbuilders Council of America, said those cancellations will cost tens of thousands of shipyard jobs nationwide and will have ripple effects for companies down the supply chain.  "In delaying the Lincoln's midlife overhaul, that's just going to add to the job losses," Carnevale said.

"The men and women who serve our nation in uniform deserve better than this," said Rep. Bobby Scott, a Newport News Democrat. "The men and women at Newport News Shipbuilding who build, repair, and maintain the most advanced naval fleet in the world, deserve better than this."

The announcement comes two days after defense officials canceled deployment of the aircraft carrier Harry S. Truman. The 5,000 sailors in the Truman strike group were to have deployed Friday, but the budget squeeze will keep them in port.

I hope that employees that end up being laid off take the time to thank their neighbors who voted for Messrs. Forbes, Rigell and Wittman.  Like most in the GOP these men talk a lot about supporting our troops and the military, but it's all talk.  The lunacy of extremists in the GOP base count far more to them than our men and women in uniform and hardworking men and women who build and maintain our nation's naval fleet. I increasingly find it embarrassing to admit that I was ever a Republican given what the GOP has become.

Friday, February 08, 2013

Friday Morning Male Beauty

Obama Snubs Gays and Attends Hate Group Backed "Prayer Breakfast"

In what seems like a case of deja vu following Barack Obama's election in 2008, Obama is back fraternizing with some of the nastiest elements of the Christofascist far right.  As if anything the man could do other than perhaps die would ever make the Christofascists like him.  The latest example of Obama's batshitery on this front is his attendance at the National Prayer Breakfast sponsored by The Family - an ominous Christofascist group that has ties to and has funded many of the anti-gay extremists in Africa not to mention allegiances with hate groups like Family Research Council.  Not surprisingly, many progressives are NOT happy with Mr. Obama and his latest self-prostitution to the forces of hate and extremism.  You simply cannot have it both ways Mr. Obama.  Here are excerpts from a Huffington Post piece:

President Barack Obama's National Prayer Breakfast has offended some gay rights activists, who took issue with the event's sponsor -- a conservative religious group with ties to anti-gay agendas.

Thursday's Prayer Breakfast in Washington, D.C., is an annual event hosted by the Fellowship Foundation, otherwise known as "the Family." According to The Philadelphia Inquirer, the Family is a conservative Christian group that has supported anti-gay legislation around the world and has ties with Ugandan official David Bahati, whose infamous "Kill the Gays" bill could impose the death penalty for those in same-sex relationships.

Gay rights activists have opposed Obama's appearance at the event.  “We would love for the President to come out and join us at the 'Breakfast without Bigotry,'” Michael Dixon, a member of LGBT rights group GetEqualDC, told CNN at the 2011 Prayer Breakfast, where GetEqual and 30 other demonstrators said prayers for Ugandan gay activist David Kato, who was brutally bludgeoned to death in 2011.

“The values the Family is actually espousing could not be further from what Jesus would actually support," Dixon previously told CNN. "We feel that persecuting people because of the way that they were born, trying to have them imprisoned for life, trying to execute them, is not Christian and it’s not a family value in any sense of the word.”

Obama's attending the Prayer Breakfast on Thursday, therefore, seemed to juxtapose his support for equality, a stance he historically backed at his second inauguration ceremony last month.

"I confess that I haven't focused on this," [White House Press Secretary] Carney told reporters of the the Family's anti-gay links, according to Metro Weekly. "The president, as his predecessors have, participates in this. He's not responsible for the views of every organization or person who participates. His views on these issues, as you just noted in your question, are quite clear."

Gay rights groups also opposed the National Prayer Breakfast in 2010, when Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) asked for congressional leaders to boycott the event. Gay rights groups responded with their own prayer events in 17 cities across the nation, according to Time.

Why Marco Rubio Is Not "The Republican Savior"’

In its desperation to change its "messaging" rather than its increasingly unpopular theocratic/Tea policies, the Republican Party is grasping for anyone who could be the modern day Moses and lead the GOP out of the wilderness as demographic changes make the party's long term survival more questionable.   One such perceived savior is Florida Senator Marco Rubio who in the racist minds of the GOP mavens can make voters forget failed policies by simply putting a Hispanic face on the party in a form of putting lipstick on a pig.   Time Magazine bought into the GOP insanity and did the cover shown above.  Sadly, for the country, Rubio isn't the savior the irrational GOP perceives him to be.  A piece in Think Progress lays out exactly why Rubio is not going to succeed in transforming the GOP.  Here are excepts:

Since Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) abandoned his opposition to providing undocumented immigrants with a pathway to citizenship and embraced a bipartisan framework for comprehensive immigration, political pundits and Republican leaders have anointed the Florida Congressman the future of the GOP.

Consequently, the likely 2016 presidential candidate has become a media darling, appearing on conservative talk shows and mainstream outlets to tout his reform principles and convince skeptics of the wisdom of reforming the nation’s broken immigration system. The media idolization reached its zenith on the cover of this week’s issue of TIME magazine.

But dig beyond Rubio’s newfound embrace of immigration reform, and you’ll find that the GOP’s future appears stuck in the past, as the great hope of the party still espouses many of the extreme policies voters rejected in November:
1. Refused to raise the debt ceiling. Rubio voted against the GOP’s compromise measure to temporarily suspend the debt limit through May 19 in order avoid defaulting on the national debt. In a statement posted on his website, Rubio insisted that he would hold the debt ceiling increase hostage “unless it is tied with measures to actually solve our debt problem through spending reforms.”
2. Co-sponsored and voted for a Balanced Budget Amendment. “Now more than ever, we need a balanced budget amendment to the U.S. Constitution,” Rubio proclaimed in 2011. A Balanced Budget Amendment would force the government to slash spending during an economic downturn, driving up unemployment and making the downturn worse, in a vicious cycle. If the amendment were in place during the last financial crisis, unemployment would have doubled.
3. Signed the Norquist pledge. Rubio pledged to never raise taxes under any circumstances and even voted against the last-minute deal to avert the fiscal cliff, since the deal included $600 billion in revenue. “Thousands of small businesses, not just the wealthy, will now be forced to decide how they’ll pay this new tax,” Rubio noted in a statement.
4. Backed Florida’s voter purge. Rubio defended Florida Gov. Rick Scott’s (R) attempted purge Democratic voters from the rolls, brushing off its disproportionate targeting of Latino voters. He also defended Florida’s decision to shorten its early voting period from two weeks to eight days by pointing to “the cost-benefit analysis.” After Election Day, several prominent Florida Republicans admitted that the election law changes were geared toward suppressing minority and Democratic votes and researchers found that long voting lines drove away at least 201,000 Florida voters.
5. Doesn’t believe in climate change. During a recent BuzzFeed interview, Rubio claimed has “seen reasonable debate” over whether humans are causing climate change. Scientists have long agreed that the debate is now over.
6. Opposed federal action to help prevent violence against women. Rubio voted against the motion to proceed to debate the Violence Against Women Act, noting that he disagrees with portions of the bill. Rubio claims he supports a scaled-back version of the legislation.
7. Believes employers should be able to deny birth control to their employees. Rubio co-sponsored a bill — along with Sen. Roy Blunt (R-MO) — that sought to nullify Obamacare’s requirement that employers provide contraception to their employees without additional co-pays by permitting businesses to voluntarily opt out of offering birth control.
8. Recorded robo calls for anti-gay hate group. Rubio has previously boasted the endorsement of anti-gay hate groups like the Family Research Council and during the election recorded robocalls for the National Organization of Marriage urging Americans to deny equal rights to gays and lesbians. He recently wouldn’t take a position on legislation that would prohibit employers from firing employees on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identify and wouldn’t say “whether same-sex couples should receive protections under immigration law.”
 Rubio is nothing more than a new shade of lipstick on the same old GOP pig.

Petroleum Association Bucks McDonnell and Asks For Gas Tax Increase

Anyone who commutes during rush hour in Hampton Roads or Northern Virginia knows that Virginia's transportation system is not only inadequate, it's also crumbling (e.g., the potholes on east bound Interstate 64 in Norfolk between the HRBT and the Granby Street exit that I drive each day  make the pavement look like its been bombed in places).  Meanwhile, the state's gasoline tax hasn't been raised in over a quarter century in keeping with the GOP's no tax increase mantra.  And rather than increase the gas tax, Bob "Taliban Bob" McDonnell wants to scrap the tax, increase the state sales tax, and raid funds for already stretched programs.  It's idiocy that so far has been blocked by the Virginia Senate.  Now, the petroleum association that represents gasoline retailers statewide has come out in support of an increase in the gas tax and displayed far more logic than Taliban Bob. Here are highlights from a Virginian Pilot article:

How desperate are Virginians for a statewide transportation funding solution?  Here's one example: a trade group that represents gas stations is bucking tradition and backing a higher fuel tax to pump new money into state road building accounts.

The Virginia Petroleum, Convenience and Grocery Association this week has expressed support for raising the state's 17.5 cent per gallon gas tax to 23.5 cents starting in July. More than 25 years have passed since the state's gas tax was last adjusted.

In a statement, the group cited the mushrooming maintenance deficit that has required Virginia to increasingly spent more of its road construction dollars to repair its decaying road network,
"Should this continue it will eventually impact the productivity of our membership and other Virginia businesses, and affect the quality of life for many Virginians," the Feb. 7 statement reads.

The association also said it would work toward "consensus legislation for the 2014 General Assembly session that adjusts Virginia’s cents per gallon rate along with the biennial state budget, to accommodate the increase in federal gasoline efficiency standards for all passenger vehicles."

The transportation funding plan still alive in the General Assembly is the House of Delegates' version of Gov. Bob McDonnell's proposal to dump the current gas tax and replace it by increasing the state sales tax from 5 percent to 5.8 percent, among other plan wrinkles.

The transportation funding plan still alive in the General Assembly is the House of Delegates' version of Gov. Bob McDonnell's proposal to dump the current gas tax and replace it by increasing the state sales tax from 5 percent to 5.8 percent, among other plan wrinkles.  .  .  .  the Senate version of McDonnell's plan and several proposed amendments to it were defeated by Democrats who consider its revenue sources either unreliable or sacrosanct.

McDonnell needs to dump the GOP's failed approach on taxes and increase the gasoline tax and make sure all of the new revenues go to highway repair and expansion.

Thursday, February 07, 2013

More Thursday Male Beauty

Cuccinelli Challenged to Document that He is Fulfilling Duties as Attorney General

This blog has noted before that Ken "Kookinelli," the uncrowned GOP gubernatorial 2013 candidate has refused to resign his position as attorney general given his full time campaigning for the 2013 election in November.  Not only is Cuccinelli drawing a salary at taxpayer expense for a job he isn't doing, but he has also been using staff on the office of Attorney General's to work his campaign.  Now, Cuccinelli has been challenged to document that he is performing all of his duties and a freedom of information act request has been tendered to the AG's office.  Here are the contents of a letter delivered to Cuccinelli:

Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli
Office of the Attorney General
900 E. Broad St.
Richmond, VA 23219

Dear General Cuccinelli:

For nearly three decades, Attorneys General of both political parties in Virginia have stepped down from the office to run for Governor. The reason for this tradition is simple: Virginians elect their Attorneys General to serve the public, not to run for Governor. In fact, you stated last month: "I ran to be Attorney General, not to run for Governor." Yet, in recent months, you have been directing the Office of Attorney General while running for Governor.

This has naturally created a question in the public mind about whether the resources of the Office of the Attorney General are being invested in the public interest or in a political campaign. This concern can be readily dispelled with open information about your office.

Specifically, records about your schedule will reassure the public that you are not performing campaign functions during your work hours. Information about your reimbursements will assure us that travel arranged through the Attorney General's office is official and not campaign-related. Finally, your office's emails to political organizations will demonstrate that no campaign work has been performed using the Office of the Attorney General's resources. Virginia's Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) follows Virginia's traditions of sunlight and accountability in government, befitting the Commonwealth that gave constitutional democracy to the world. As per §2.2.3700(B) of the Code of Virginia:

"The affairs of government are not intended to be conducted in an atmosphere of secrecy since at all times the public is to be the beneficiary of any action taken at any level of government. Unless a public body or its officers or employees specifically elect to exercise an exemption provided by this chapter or any other statute, every meeting shall be open to the public and all public records shall be available for inspection and copying upon request. All public records and meetings shall be presumed open, unless an exemption is properly invoked."

§2.2.3700(B) further states:
"The provisions of this chapter shall be liberally construed to promote an increased awareness by all persons of governmental activities and afford every opportunity to citizens to witness the operations of government."

As these sections make clear, the Code expressly intends to ensure that Virginia's taxpayers know how every elected official, including the Attorney General, is spending our tax dollars.

Pursuant to the Virginia Freedom of Information Act, §2.2.3704(G) et seq., and as a Virginia resident, I therefore request copies of records of the following items:
1. Records of your schedule from Microsoft Outlook and/or any other electronic scheduling software for the months of December 2012 and January 2013.
2. Records of your schedule from Microsoft Outlook and/or any other electronic scheduling software for the days of February 1, 2, and 3, 2013.
3. Records of your schedule from Microsoft Outlook and/or any other electronic scheduling software for the day of February 4, 2013.
4. Any reimbursements, allowances, or travel charges that you have personally received for the months of December 2012 and January 2013.
5. For the months of December 2012 and January 2013, any email correspondence between you and any other staff of the Attorney General's office and any staff or associates of the following parties:
- The Republican Party of Virginia
- The Republican Governor's Association
- The Cuccinelli for Governor campaign

These records will be readily accessible by your staff in electronic format and so should be sent quickly and without additional fees. Indeed, §2.2.3704(F) of the Virginia Code prohibits the imposition of "any extraneous, intermediary or surplus fees or expenses to recoup the general costs associated with creating or maintaining records." Further, "Any duplicating fee charged by a public body shall not exceed the actual cost of duplication."

Will Cuccinelli comply?  I doubt it.  First, he thinks he is above the rules that govern everyone else.  Secondly, if he does provide accurate documentation it would prove that he is ripping off Virginia taxpayers who are being forced to finance his campaign.  As noted before on this blog I had a close up view of what a statewide race involves, first when my former law partner Mark Earley ran for Attorney General and later for Governor.  There is virtually no way that Cuccinelli can be performing his duties as Attorney General and campaigning at the same time.  It simply is not possible.  He if claims otherwise, he's a liar plain and simple. Cuccinelli needs to either resign or be brought up on ethics charges and removed from office.