Motes and Planks, Holiday Edition

by matttbastard

Oh noez! Teh Pope iz gunna eatz me!

The Emperor Pope seriously needs to be checked for an irony deficiancy:

“Let us think of those children who are victims of the industry of pornography and every other appalling form of abuse, and thus are traumatised to the depths of their soul.”

Benedict said Catholics had to ”do everything in our power to put an end to the suffering of these children.”

Sez Pam Spaulding:

Everything in his power? Can he not afford a plane ticket to send Cardinal Law back stateside to face the music? Or what about [allowing] those children without a home to be adopted by loving, qualified same-sex couples? Just asking.

Now now — we should be grateful Ratzi didn’t blame it all on the gender-destroyers.

Small favours.

Recommend this post at Progressive Bloggers

More on Barack Obama, Post-Partisanship and Billy Graham 2.0

by matttbastard

Via Sully, Erica Barnett has compiled some of the many not-so-inclusive views held by Obama’s new spiritual BFF, required reading for those who still don’t get why including Rick Warren in the Inauguration ceremony has provoked such an outcry from the left side of the aisle. Yes, by now I fully realize that the President-elect doesn’t give a rat’s ass about progressive and LGBT objections to his upcoming public indulgence in post-partisan political symbolism. But that’s precisely the point: Obama apparently feels that cementing his political philosophy into the general consciousness at the expense of a marginalized group (ie, citizens who identify as LGBT) is of greater import than symbolically challenging entrenched bigotry.

Unless Obama truly believes that progressive “intolerance” of social conservative hobbyhorses trumps the institutional denial of agency to 10% of the US public–in which case we should all just fucking give up and hand Amy Sullivan the gold medal for finally winning the Oppression Olympics.

Once again we have been presented with evidence that establishment figures within the Democratic Party–including, and, especially, Barack Obama and his 1337 team of advisers–really do believe that Sister Souljahing must be a standard operating principle if a ‘liberal’ politician is to be seen as a consensus-builder. Judging by his latest message to progressives, social conservatives, and the Beltway, Obama seems bound and determined to establish himself as the ultimate High Broderist POTUS–which is fine, if the immediate desired outcome is to receive kudos from the Sunday bobblehead brigade. Such a too-clever-by-half strategy could, however, become a long-term political liability when the time comes for Obama to court his perpetually spurned base.

Perhaps I’m a political dinosaur, desperately clinging to the vestiges of a nakedly partisan era, unprepared to navigate the terrain of today’s pragmatic political landscape. Regardless, I really don’t appreciate always being used as a goddamn prop in a broad Kabuki performance established solely for the purview of the chattering classes. There must be a (*cough*) less-divisive way for Obama to broadcast his message of inclusiveness, one that doesn’t require making a blood sacrifice on the altar of centrist credibility–especially one where he, as a straight person, has no personal stake.

Recommend this post at Progressive Bloggers

Rick Warren: The Wrong Choice

by matttbastard

Is he serious? Rick “politicians have to believe in God” Warren? Rick “cone of silence” Warren? Rick “Prop 8 is great” Warren? Rick “take out the evildoers” Warren? Rick “Dobson-lite” Warren? That’s the kinder, gentler hatemonger who the President-elect The Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies (see update below edit: and second update) has selected to give the Inaugural Invocation?

I’m with Libby Spencer:

If there was ever a time to reach out to the side of the fence that didn’t oppose him tooth and nail all the way to the White House, this is it. I would suggest people might want to leave a suggestion at change.gov and ask him to rethink this choice. Frankly, I don’t know who to suggest as an alternative, but there has to be someone more neutral than Warren.

Thunderbird is go, kiddies — remember, keep it civil (edit: and make sure to read the update below before crafting a response).

Update: Mike Madden at The War Room reports that Obama wasn’t [edit: solely–see Update 2] responsible for Warren’s selection:

[T]he decision to get involved with Saddleback was actually not Obama’s. The Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies, run by the House and Senate, put together the program for the swearing-in ceremony. Congress, not Obama, invited Warren… .

Still, I’m sure the Committee could be convinced to reconsider their decision, were Obama to sic Rahmbo on them. So keep those suggestions coming.

Update 2: Well, so much for the Committee dodge (h/t Greg Sargent):

The program participants were invited by the Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies and chosen by the Chairman, the Presidential-elect and the Vice President-elect.

So whether or not Warren was directly selected by Obama, the President-elect obviously had a big say regarding Warren’s inclusion in the program.  Wonderful.  BarbinMD is exactly right:

What a spit in the eye to the GBLT community in particular, and to anyone who supports equality, dignity and justice under the law.

Todd Beeton @ MyDD has more info on who else to contact regarding the decision to include Warren in the inauguration ceremony:

If you’d like to register your displeasure with the pick, calling Dianne Feinstein’s office might be a good place to start. As the Chair of the Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies, Feinstein announced the line-up — including Warren — today, calling it “superb.”

LA: (310) 914-7300
SF: (415) 393-0707
DC: (202) 224-3841

Click here to contact Feinstein via email.  Again, keep it civil.  Rather difficult, I realize, when one sees the following brand of shiny happy hatred being rewarded by a nominal ally:

(h/t Todd for the Warren Prop 8 vid, by way of Teddy Partridge)

Recommend this post at Progressive Bloggers

‘No’ on Prop 8 — and ‘No’ on Race-Baiting UPDATE: TAKE ACTION!

by matttbastard

I would like to sign on to the following statement from Truth Wins Out:

Truth Wins Out today expressed its grave disappointment in those in the LGBT community who have emulated our bigoted opponents by scapegoating minorities. It has been reported that African Americans have been verbally abused and have had racial epithets hurled at them during Anti-Proposition 8 rallies.

“It is reprehensible to look for scapegoats and target innocent people with vile racial epithets,” said TWO Executive Director, Wayne Besen. “We call on all GLBT people behave intelligently and act responsibly, so we can figure out – together – the best way for our movement to proceed and achieve equality.”

What specifically was Besen referring to?

From the Rod 2.0 post linked to in the TWO statement:

A number of Rod 2.0 and Jasmyne Cannick readers report being subjected to taunts, threats and racist abuse at last night’s marriage equality rally in Los Angeles.

Geoffrey, a student at UCLA and regular Rod 2.0 reader, joined the massive protest outside the Temple of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Westwood. Geoffrey was called the n-word at least twice.

It was like being at a klan rally except the klansmen were wearing Abercrombie polos and Birkenstocks. YOU NIGGER, one man shouted at men. If your people want to call me a FAGGOT, I will call you a nigger. Someone else said same thing to me on the next block near the temple…me and my friend were walking, he is also gay but Korean, and a young WeHo clone said after last night the niggers better not come to West Hollywood if they knew what was BEST for them.

Los Angeles resident and Rod 2.0 reader A. Ronald says he and his boyfriend, who are both black, were carrying NO ON PROP 8 signs and still subjected to racial abuse.

Three older men accosted my friend and shouted, “Black people did this, I hope you people are happy!” A young lesbian couple with mohawks and Obama buttons joined the shouting and said there were “very disappointed with black people” and “how could we” after the Obama victory. This was stupid for them to single us out because we were carrying those blue NO ON PROP 8 signs! I pointed that out and the one of the older men said it didn’t matter because “most black people hated gays” and he was “wrong” to think we had compassion. That was the most insulting thing I had ever heard. I guess he never thought we were gay.

Yeah, so much for the (apparently premature) eulogies for racism now that we’ve entered the Age of Obama.

Alex Blaze FTW:

But I’m wondering why these folks are so caught up in the black voters, who obviously can’t ever be persuaded on this issue because… well, because. There are so many other groups in the exit polling that voted for Prop 8 overwhelmingly (as in, more than 60%):

* The elderly (65+)
* Republicans
* Conservatives
* People who decided for whom to vote in October (but not within the week before the election)
* People who were contacted by the McCain campaign
* Protestants
* Catholics
* White Protestants
* Those who attend church weekly
* Married people
* People with children under 18
* Gun owners
* Bush voters
* Offshore drilling supporters
* People who are afraid of a terrorist attack
* People who thought their family finances were better now than 4 years ago
* Supporters of the war against Iraq
* People who didn’t care about the age of the candidates
* Anti-choicers
* People who are from the “Inland/Valley” region of California
* McCain voters

Some of these groups supported Prop 8 far more than African Americans did, which makes me wonder why we’re focused so much on race instead of any of these factors. In terms of predictive value, religion, political ideology, and being married with children tell us much more about how someone voted on Prop 8 than race does.

From which we can infer three things. First, breaking the statistics just along racial lines is an overly simplistic way to look at the results. Black people, like white people, are not a monolithic group, and LGBT people can make inroads by reaching out to African Americans if we try. Flapping our mouths about how we’re not PC, how all blacks are homophobic, and how there’s no use in reaching out to African Americans doesn’t endear people to us, and there is work to be done here that hasn’t been done.

Second, religion is the overwhelming factor in Prop 8’s win, in terms of organizing, funding, and voting. Since it’s not going anywhere, we have to take a more serious approach to religious voters. And, yes, their leaders make bank off homophobia, but we’re going to have to be more creative. No writing off fundies as idiots allowed – they get votes too.

Last word goes to Pam Spaulding (h/t):

Civil rights is not a zero-sum game; there is enough shared blame for the debacle that is Prop 8, and it cannot be undone. We have the choice to educate or alienate going forward.

Your move, Mr. President-elect…

Update: I swear I didn’t see Antonia’s post before putting this up–great minds, etc.

Update 2: hekebolos @ dKos:

I would like to encourage you to take specific action to increase the number of people who are expressing their outspoken opposition to discrimination.

The “REPEAL PROP 8” movement is underway. And I’d love it if you added your voice.

The Courage Campaign has been leading a grassroots and netroots effort against Proposition 8. Sign their petition calling for the repeal of Proposition 8:

http://www.couragecampaign.org/…

If you’re on Facebook (and if you’re not, you should be) there is also a “Repeal Prop 8” Facebook Group that I would encourage everyone to join.

As Barack Obama said: nothing can stand in the way of millions of voices calling for change.

But we need those voices to get it done. Add yours to the mix. And be watching for further news about what you can do to support marriage equality not only in California, but across the entire country.

h/t Dr. Prole (who is creatively agitatin’ to get the LDS Church’s tax-exempt status revoked–gogogo!) Also make sure to check out this dKos diary from shanikka, who debunks the exit poll results that have been cited as ‘proving’ African-Americans are to blame for the passage of Prop 8.

Recommend this post at Progressive Bloggers

PSA: ACLU, Other Groups File Suit Against Proposition 8

by matttbastard

ACLU/Lambda/NCLR press release:

Legal Groups File Lawsuit Challenging Proposition 8, Should It Pass (11/5/2008)

Legal Papers Claim Initiative Procedure Cannot Be Used To Undermine the Constitution’s Core Commitment To Equality For Everyone

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT: media@aclu.org

SAN FRANCISCO – The American Civil Liberties Union, Lambda Legal and the National Center for Lesbian Rights filed a writ petition before the California Supreme Court today urging the court to invalidate Proposition 8 if it passes. The petition charges that Proposition 8 is invalid because the initiative process was improperly used in an attempt to undo the constitution’s core commitment to equality for everyone by eliminating a fundamental right from just one group – lesbian and gay Californians. Proposition 8 also improperly attempts to prevent the courts from exercising their essential constitutional role of protecting the equal protection rights of minorities. According to the California Constitution, such radical changes to the organizing principles of state government cannot be made by simple majority vote through the initiative process, but instead must, at a minimum, go through the state legislature first.

The California Constitution itself sets out two ways to alter the document that sets the most basic rules about how state government works. Through the initiative process, voters can make relatively small changes to the constitution. But any measure that would change the underlying principles of the constitution must first be approved by the legislature before being submitted to the voters. That didn’t happen with Proposition 8, and that’s why it’s invalid.

“If the voters approved an initiative that took the right to free speech away from women, but not from men, everyone would agree that such a measure conflicts with the basic ideals of equality enshrined in our constitution. Proposition 8 suffers from the same flaw – it removes a protected constitutional right – here, the right to marry – not from all Californians, but just from one group of us,” said Jenny Pizer, a staff attorney with Lambda Legal. “That’s too big a change in the principles of our constitution to be made just by a bare majority of voters.”

“A major purpose of the constitution is to protect minorities from majorities. Because changing that principle is a fundamental change to the organizing principles of the constitution itself, only the legislature can initiate such revisions to the constitution,” added Elizabeth Gill, a staff attorney with the ACLU of Northern California.

The groups filed the lawsuit today in the California Supreme Court on behalf of Equality California and 6 same-sex couples who did not marry before Tuesday’s election but would like to be able to marry now.

The groups filed a writ petition in the California Supreme Court before the elections presenting similar arguments because they believed the initiative should not have appeared on the ballot, but the court dismissed that petition without addressing its merits. That earlier order is not precedent here.

“Historically, courts are reluctant to get involved in disputes if they can avoid doing so,” said Shannon Minter, Legal Director of NCLR. “It is not uncommon for the court to wait to see what happens at the polls before considering these legal arguments. However, now that Proposition 8 may pass, the courts will have to weigh in and we believe they will agree that Proposition 8 should never have been on the ballot in the first place.”

This would not be the first time the court has struck down an improper voter initiative. In 1990, the court stuck down an initiative that would have added a provision to the California Constitution stating that the “Constitution shall not be construed by the courts to afford greater rights to criminal defendants than those afforded by the Constitution of the United States.” That measure was invalid because it improperly attempted to strip California’s courts of their role as independent interpreters of the state’s constitution.

In a statement issued earlier today, the groups stated their conviction, which is shared by the California Attorney General, that the state must continue to honor the marriages of the 18,000 lesbian and gay couples who have already married in California. A copy of the statement as well as the writ petition filed today is available at: www.aclu.org/lgbt, www.lambdalegal.org, and www.nclrights.org.

In addition to the ACLU, Lambda Legal and NCLR, the legal team bringing the writ also includes the Law Office of David C. Codell; Munger Tolles & Olson, LLP; and Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe, LLP.

h/t DKos (by way of pale via IM).

More from Digby (h/t Paul the Spud) , Faith @ Shakesville, Ta-Nehisi Coates (h/t Sebastian) Amp, Mandolin, The Girl Detective, Jeff Fecke, Thomas @ Feministe, VivirLatino, Kyle @ Right Wing Watch, Bil Browning, Darkrose and Pam Spaulding

Recommend this post at Progressive Bloggers

More on Sarah Palin and Book-Banning

by matttbastard

The Nation has just published a very informative investigative piece by Michelle Goldberg, author of Kingdom Coming: The Rise of Christian Nationalism, further exploring the connections between Republican VP candidate Sarah Palin and the Christian right.  The entire article is worth reading, but I wanted to highlight the following passage, which sheds more light on a now-infamous alleged incident from 1997 involving Palin and the Wasilla Public Library:

Much has been made of Palin’s gestures toward book-banning as mayor. To understand what happened, it’s useful to realize that the Mat-Su Valley was in the middle of a roiling controversy over a book by [Howard Bess, a local retired liberal Baptist minister], titled Pastor, I Am Gay. Bess, 80, is deeply respected by the Valley’s small progressive community. Educated at Northwestern’s Garrett Biblical Institute — now called the Garrett Evangelical Theological Seminary — he comes from a Baptist tradition committed to church-state separation. In 1980 he left his church in Santa Barbara, California, to become pastor of Anchorage First American Baptist. Over the years Bess developed an intense concern about gay rights, and he went out of his way to welcome gay people into his Anchorage church. After he had served seven years at First Baptist, the board of the church asked him to lower his profile on the issue. Unwilling to do so, he resigned, took early retirement and ended up moving to Palmer to pastor a tiny liberal congregation, the Church of the Covenant, which he did without pay.
Bess published Pastor, I Am Gay in 1995. It recounts his experiences ministering to gay men and lesbians, calls for the church to take a stand against discrimination and even draws parallels between the experience of gay people and that of Jesus. “They are despised and rejected,” he wrote. “They suffer and are acquainted with infirmity. They are rejected by a perversion of justice. Is it possible that the will of the Lord will prosper through them?”

Local conservatives, including at Wasilla Assembly of God, mobilized against the book. Christian bookstores as well as secular retailers refused to sell it. Bess donated two copies to the Wasilla Public Library, but they vanished from the shelves, so he donated more. The atmosphere toward Bess was toxic; a 1997 cartoon in the Frontiersman showed a slobbering, doll-clutching pedophile approaching his church, whose sign said, Wasilla Church of the Covenant. Howard Bess, Pastor. All Sinners Welcome! Bible Interpretations to Suit Your “Lifestyle.”
Most reports have said that, when asking about banning books, Palin never mentioned any specific titles, but the presence of Pastor, I Am Gay in the library was, at the time, a matter of fierce contention. “I’m as sure that that book was at issue with Sarah Palin as I am that I’m talking to you right now,” said Bess.

Providential coincidence, or small-town cheap homophobic conspiracy?  Stay tuned, true believers.

Related: Fareed Zakaria dons his Captain Obvious pajamas, declaring Palin to be “utterly unqualified to be vice president”; has the bar on Palin been set so low that it’s entirely possible for her to ‘win’ Thursday’s VP debate?

Recommend this post at Progressive Bloggers

On John Edwards ‘Love Child’

by matttbastard

“Double standard!” cries Slate media critic Jack Shafer.  “An elaborate cover up!” whines hacktacular OG ‘even the liberal’ blogger Mickey Kaus.  ‘Liberal bias!’ wails the wingnutosphere (surprise, surprise).

All that self-righteous sturm und drang simply because the MSM hasn’t dove on recent reports from that bastion of responsible journalism, The National Enquirer, alleging that former Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards cheated on his wife, Elizabeth, with a woman named Reille Hunter.

Oooh.  Shocking.  A liberal Democrat with no moral values–way to conform to years of movement conservative propaganda, John Boy.

Sorry, kiddies; as John Cole aptly notes, the Grand Old Party has upped the ante on sex scandals to the point where a mere (yes, heterosexual) extramarital affair (and illegitimate child) is now small beer, not worthy of the print expenditure:

The reason no one is paying attention to the alleged affair and love-child is simple. You guys have made standard affairs boring (I know, I know. You claim to be a Democrat.). No one is claiming Edwards was seen in two wetsuits hanging from the ceiling with a dildo lodged in his rectum. There is no DC madam with a black book involved. No one has transcripts of him instant messaging teen-age congressional pages or crashing their dorms in a drunken stupor. There is no arrest record for soliciting oral sex in an airport bathroom, complete with feisty confrontations with the arresting officer on video tape. There is no religious hypocrisy and gay prostitution and meth-fueled sodomy binge to talk about.

In short, aside from the fact that all there is to the story is an Enquirer report, it is just boring. You all have made standard affairs pedestrian and dull. Even when you use the phrase “love child,” what it boils down to is a guy allegedly sleeping with a woman. Pretty tame stuff, given what the GOP has provided us for the past few years.

Now maybe if he got caught engaging in oral sex with goats. That would probably get some attention.

I think there’s something to be said about the innate homophobia contained within media coverage of the aforementioned events. But the hook that made them ‘newsworthy’ by mainstream press standards is the fact that, in most instances, the principals were all on record as being militantly homophobic Christian conservatives; their moral (and, in many cases, legal) transgressions were thus in direct opposition to their images and records as public officials.  Even former NY governor Elliot Spitzer was a grandstanding anti-prostitution crusader, so when he was caught in the middle of a prostitution ring, the immensity of the hypocrisy was too much for the jackals in the MSM to ignore (even as the puritanical response once again served as a revealing Rorschach Test of the collective American unconscious).

So, unless there’s more blood to this latest (alleged) ‘scandal’, one shouldn’t be surprised (nor shocked and outraged!!11one) at the underwhelmed non-response from the press.

Of course, as David Corn notes, even if this story never makes the 24 hour cable news cycle, the allegations have effectively removed Edwards from VP consideration:

[W]hether you read about this matter in the Times or not, the veep-vetters of the Obama campaign have probably paid the story notice. If Edwards is still in contention, he better have for them a rather convincing denial to allay suspicions that this time the scandalmongers of the Enquirer might have actually gotten it right.

Regardless, one wonders if the McCain campaign really wants the media to be talking about political figures running around behind the backs of their sick wives.

Ahem.

Recommend this post at Progressive Bloggers