Wednesday, December 04, 2013
The circus of Giftgate - and the possible criminal prosecution of outgoing governor, Bob McDonnell - continues. Personally, having known McDonnell for almost 20 years, I continue to believe that Maureen McDonnell is the one that started this train wreck hurling down the tracks. Bob McDonnell's fault was not controlling his wife and doing too little too late to fix the damage. With Terry McAuliffe taking over as Governor of Virginia next month, a column in the Richmond Times Dispatch suggests that McAuliffe could come to McDonnell's aid in a display of bi-partisanship that might win good will from Republicans in the Virginia General Assembly. Personally, I think the imagined GOP good will is a fantasy. The Virginia GOP is too subservient to the Christofascists and Tea Party Neanderthals to ever stray for the far right's extremist marching orders. Here are column excerpts - make your own judgment call:
Terry McAuliffe has enough to worry about without the distraction of his predecessor possibly being led off in leg irons.
In year one of the McAuliffe governorship, Bob McDonnell’s continuing nightmare — the Giftgate ethics scandal — could play out on two fronts: a possible public corruption trial in federal court, and a misdemeanor case in state court over alleged omissions in his compulsory conflict-of-interest statement.
And, of course, he may not be charged at all.
Republican McDonnell’s problems may be an opportunity for Democrat McAuliffe, a chance to be seen as the bipartisan he claims to be.
It would require McAuliffe to intervene on McDonnell’s behalf, employing the transactional politics that lifted him to fame and fortune in Washington and which his critics in both parties say render him unfit for the highest office in Virginia.For that reason, McAuliffe might hesitate.[T]he sooner McDonnell’s problems are solved — and that includes a legal bill that has cost taxpayers more than $500,000 — the more manageable McAuliffe’s problems become.
McAuliffe is enough of a carnival barker. He does not need the sideshow of a high-profile trial to divert the public’s and the politicians’ attention from Virginia’s serious problems.
In McAuliffe’s first legislative session, beginning in January, these include a new state budget, patching holes in the mental health safety net, modernizing the election machinery, and tightening the ethics laws that Giftgate has shown to be uncomfortably porous.
By helping McDonnell — whether it’s lobbying President Barack Obama for a pardon or for Justice Department prosecutors to back off, or issuing a gubernatorial pardon for McDonnell on a state conviction — McAuliffe could help himself.
It would be a rare expression of statesmanship, easing the toxic partisanship at the state Capitol to which McDonnell contributed by consenting in 2011 to legislative districts that are barely compact, somewhat contiguous and anything but competitive.
Because of this redistricting, McAuliffe faces a Republican-dominated General Assembly instinctively and structurally disinclined to cooperate with him.
Once again conservative columnist Kathleen Parker has gone a muck and strayed from the GOP
insane asylum reservation and is slamming the GOP for its negativity and obstructionism. The root cause to the GOP's toxicity? Obamacare, of course, one of the few things the House GOP has voted on during an otherwise do nothing session of Congress. Parker is especially brutal in highlighting the fact that the GOP has nothing as a proposed alternative to Obamacare other than going back to a thoroughly broken system. Needless to say, Parker's criticisms will not sit well among the knuckle dragging ranks of the Christofascists/Tea Party base of the GOP. Here are excerpts from her Washington Post column:
As the government health-care Web site chugs along, the Obama administration has begun a counter-initiative to combat Republican naysaying — and its weapons are of superior grade.
The bunker buster is positive messaging and a return to hope and change. For Republicans, it’s whatever the opposite is. Despair and stagnation? Gloating and gloom?
“Obamacare” may be fraught with potentially lethal problems, including the bungling of information as people sign up without any guarantee of privacy, but nothing is more toxic than “this is going to be a disaster.” Every time Republicans slam on the brakes, Obama tosses coins and candy into the crowds.
Even if the president at times resembles Baghdad Bob, the Iraqi spokesman who said everything’s fine here as U.S. bombs exploded in the background, Republicans are the shock-and-awe gang with no plan for the day after.
Democrats have targeted the GOP’s soft spot, which is a hard line on social services. Thus, when Republicans want to drastically cut food stamps, it is a piece of cake (and not the moldy sort Marie Antoinette suggested the peasants eat) to designate conservatives as cruel and heartless.
When Republicans say the health-care plan is doomed, a train wreck, a disaster, etc. — and offer no hopeful options — they appear to be rooting only for failure.
This approach is a blessing for Democrats, who have responded by shining a light on success stories: the 25-year-old who gets to stay on his parents’ insurance plan another year, the child or elderly parent with a preexisting condition who now can get insurance, the family who never could afford insurance and now can
What Democrats know keenly — and Republicans seem never to learn — is that positive beats negative every time. Thus, we see MSNBC’s clever montage of Republican negativity: A series of unfriendly faces decrying the Affordable Care Act (ACA) with apocalyptic language. Which would any everyday American prefer? The healer or the doomsayer? The elves or the orcs?
This is not precisely reality, but perception drives policy as much as reality does. The key for Republicans is to drop the negative attacks and refocus energies on the positives of their plans. They have some, right?
What alternative solutions are Republicans hiding behind their backs? Frank Macchiarola, former Republican staff director of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee (and my patient guide through the ACA) proposes in a commentary , co-written with Republican former senator Kay Bailey Hutchison of Texas, that the GOP lead with solutions rather than piling on criticism. The authors agree with Democrats’ goal to expand access to care, including to those with preexisting conditions. But the cure, they suggest, is in targeted policy solutions rather than a one-size-fits-all approach.
“No” gets you nothing but nothing — and gloating floats no boats.
As long time readers know, my divorce after coming out was a nightmare. Frighteningly, one of the judge in my case - who opined that being gay is a "choice" - has been tapped by the Virginia Supreme Court to be part of the three judge panel that will oversee the recount in the Virginia Attorney General race recount. I for one, will NOT be sleeping better at night while this recount remains unfinished knowing that this judge is involved. The judge in question was first appointed by George Allen and has handed down some questionable rulings (see No.6) - see here as well - in the past. Here are details from the Virginian Pilot on this, to me, troubling selection:
Circuit Judge Junius P. Fulton III was selected by the Virginia Supreme Court to oversee a fresh tally this month in a contest where Democrat Mark Herring leads Republican Mark Obenshain by 165 votes out of more than 2.2 million cast.
Serving with Fulton are Danville Circuit Court Chief Judge Joseph W. Milam Jr. and Richmond Circuit Judge Beverly W. Snukals, who will sit as chief judge for the recount.
All three were named in an order from Supreme Court Chief Justice Cynthia D. Kinser.
A preliminary hearing is scheduled for today in Richmond ahead of a likely mid-December recount, according to the Obenshain campaign.
By law, a three-judge panel, including the Richmond Circuit Court chief judge and two others appointed by the Supreme Court, supervise a recount when candidates for state office are separated by no more than 1 percent of the votes cast for them.
So-called undervotes and overvotes - ballots where voters didn't select a candidate for each available office or selected more than one in a single contest - will be of particular interest to the candidates' attorneys.
Fulton is a former Norfolk School Board member who, like Kinser, was appointed to the bench by Gov. George Allen.
Justice Kinser - a former law school classmate - was also appointed by George Allen who was a darling of the far right. When I argued before the Virginia Supreme Court on behalf of Michael Moore who was fired by the Virginia Museum of Natural History, Justice Kinser struck me as incensed that I described what had happened to Michael Moore as religious based discrimination. To be candid, I will not feel comfortable with Judge Fulton on the recount panel.
Tuesday, December 03, 2013
I try not to be a gossip columnist but this is too good to pass up. E! News is claiming that Tom Daley's as yet unnamed boyfriend is Dustin Lance Black. Having met and talked with Black three different times, I can say this: he's nice as can be and very easy on the eyes. Mr. Daley, of course, is very easy on the eyes. If the report is true, I wish them both much happiness. Here are snippets from E! News:
Sources exclusively tell E! News that Daley has been dating Dustin Lance Black, the 39-year-old writer who won an Academy Award for his screenplay for Milk, the 2008 biopic about gay rights activist legend Harvey Milk (Sean Penn also won an Oscar for playing Milk in the flick).
Back in October, Daley and Black were spotted together for the first time, grabbing a snack at The Coffee Bean in Hollywood.
I will not try to pretend that I like Rush Limbaugh - not even remotely. The man is a loud mouth bully, a hypocrite, and he preaches a message that is generally the antithesis of the Gospel message. Ironically, Limbaugh was thrilled by Pope Francis at first because of Francis' anti-abortion positions and affirmation of marriage as being only for heterosexuals. The honeymoon, if you will, proved to be short lived. Once Francis released his new exhortation that condemned unfettered capitalism and wealth inequalities, Limbaugh went into attack mode. Here's a sampling via Daily Kos:
I mentioned, last night -- I was doing show prep last night -- usual routine. And I ran across this -- I don't actually know what it's called -- the latest papal offering, statement from Pope Francis. Now, up until this -- I'm not Catholic. Up until this, I have to tell you, I was admiring the man.
"Pope Francis attacked unfettered capitalism as 'a new tyranny.' He beseeched global leaders to fight poverty and growing inequality, in a document on Tuesday setting out a platform for his papacy and calling for a renewal of the Catholic Church. In it, Pope Francis went further than previous comments criticizing the global economic system, attacking the 'idolatry of money.' "
I've gotta be very caref-- I have been numerous times to the Vatican. It wouldn't exist without tons of money. But, regardless, what this is -- somebody has either written this for him or gotten to him. This is just pure Marxism coming out of the mouth of the pope. There's no such -- "unfettered capitalism"? That doesn't exist anywhere.
This batshitery from the thrice divorced Limbaugh was more than Andrew Sullivan could stomach and Sullivan sliced and diced the rantings of Limbaugh. Here are excerpts:
The Pope of the Catholic Church really is offering a rebuttal to the Pope of the Republican party, which is what Limbaugh has largely become. In daily encyclicals, Rush is infallible in doctrine and not to be questioned in public. When he speaks on the airwaves, it is always ex cathedra. Callers can get an audience from him, but rarely a hearing. Dissent from his eternal doctrines means excommunication from the GOP and the designation of heretic. His is always the last word.Despite the Republican Party's feigned fealty to Christian values, neither today's GOP nor the far right Christians are Christian in any way other than lip service. They are a foul pestilence on America.
And in the Church of Limbaugh, market capitalism is an unqualified, eternal good. It is the ever-lasting truth about human beings. It is inextricable from any concept of human freedom. The fewer restrictions on it, the better. In that cocooned, infallible context, of course, Pope Francis is indeed a commie:
Really? Limbaugh specifically invokes the great anti-Communist Pope, John Paul II, as an alleged contrast with this leftist gobbledegook. So let us look at John Paul II’s discussion of capitalism and communism in his 1987 Encyclical, Sollicitudo Rei Socialis:Listen to this. This is an actual quote from what he wrote. “The culture of prosperity deadens us. We are thrilled if the market offers us something new to purchase. In the meantime, all those lives stunted for lack of opportunity seem a mere spectacle. They fail to move us.” I mean, that’s pretty profound. That’s going way beyond matters that are ethical. This is almost a statement about who should control financial markets. He says that the global economy needs government control. I’m telling you, I’m not Catholic, but I know enough to know that this would have been unthinkable for a pope to believe or say just a few years ago.
My italics. The church has long opposed market capitalism as the core measure of human well-being. Aquinas even taught that interest-bearing loans were inherently unjust in the most influential theological document in church history.The tension between East and West is an opposition … between two concepts of the development of individuals and peoples, both concepts being imperfect and in need of radical correction … This is one of the reasons why the Church’s social doctrine adopts a critical attitude towards both liberal capitalism and Marxist collectivism.
Jesus radically taught us to give up all our possessions, to renounce everything except our “daily bread”, to spend our lives serving the poverty-stricken takers rather than aspiring to be the wealthy and powerful makers. He told the Mark Zuckerberg of his day to give everything away to the poor, if he really wanted to be happy.
Limbaugh has obviously never read the Gospels. He has never read the parables. His ideology is so extreme it even trashes, because it does not begin to understand, the core principles of capitalism, as laid out by Adam Smith. Market capitalism is and always has been a regulated construction of government, not some kind of state of nature without it.
But let us return to Limbaugh’s hero, John Paul II, this time in Centesimus Annus, written in the wake of Soviet Communism’s demise:
My italics again. Could anyone have offered a more potent critique of current Republican ideology than John Paul II? Could anything better illustrate John Paul II’s critique of radical capitalist ideology than the GOP’s refusal to be concerned in any way about a fundamental question like access to basic healthcare for millions of citizens in the richest country on earth?The Marxist solution has failed, but the realities of marginalization and exploitation remain in the world, especially the Third World, as does the reality of human alienation, especially in the more advanced countries. . . . there is a risk that a radical capitalistic ideology could spread which refuses even to consider these problems, in the a priori belief that any attempt to solve them is doomed to failure and which blindly entrusts their solution to the free development of market forces.
Sorry, Rush, but if you think this critique of capitalism is something dreamed up by the current Pope alone, you know nothing about Catholicism, nothing about John Paul II, and nothing about Christianity.
Nothing better demonstrates the antipathy of the current Republican right to Christianity – indeed its constant, relentless war on Christianity – than the following refreshingly candid confession of spiritual barrenness from Limbaugh:
Limbaugh’s only recourse when faced with actual Christianity is to conspiracy theories about translations of the Pope’s words. Perhaps it’s the commies who have perpetrated a massive lie through their control of the media. That was Sarah Palin’s response to, when confronted with, you know, Christianity for apparently the first time. But you sense that even Rush is beginning to realize there is something more to this, something that could be very destructive to his sealed, cocooned, materialist ideology of one.I want to go back to this quote from the pope again, from his — there’s the name for the document. I can’t think of it and I don’t have it in front of me. “The culture of prosperity deadens us. We are thrilled in the market offers us something new to purchase. In the meantime, all those lives stunted for lack of opportunity seem a mere spectacle. They fail to move us.” I’m not even sure what the connection there is.
I often get accused of being too harsh on Christians. I beg to differ. First of all, there are two categories: (i) the "good Christians" who too often yield the field to the second category and act much like the "good Germans" did as Hitler and the Nazis rose to power, and (ii) the Christofascist who are best defined by their hatred of others and behavior that is totally inconsistent with the true Gospel message. With respect to the Christofascists, it is beneficial to remember (A) how much they hate LGBT individuals and (B) how batshit insane they are. A piece at Reclaim America provides a good glimpse of the hatred and loathing - and insanity - that motivate the "godly Christian" folks. The author describes herself as "a native of Texas and current resident of the Mississippi Gulf Coast, is a conservative Christian political writer and radio/television voice professional." Here are some excepts from her spittle fleck rantings that pass for intelligent discourse among the religious extremists/godly folk (and, in my view, obviously mentally ill):
For years now, many of us have been warning America that freedoms of religion, speech, conscience and association and homosexual "rights" cannot coexist; they are by nature mutually exclusive. This is becoming clearer by the minute, as the radical homosexual movement has taken super flight under the ever-darkening reign of the pro-homosexual Barack Obama (or whatever his name is).
The homosexual movement is part of a larger push toward tyranny that has its roots in the spirit realm. Ephesians 6:12 clearly spells out the real battle:
For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.
While we certainly have human enemies aligned against us, our true enemies are Satan, his demons and the spiritual wickedness of those in places of great power.The Godless communists (or fascists, if you prefer) are using the homosexual agenda to work toward eradicating Christian opposition to their plans, which are Satan's plans. If you know your Bible, then you know that Christianity is destined to be outlawed. We are moving steadily toward a time when Christians here in America will be in danger of state-sanctioned murder for their beliefs.Peter LaBarbera, a former journalist for the Washington Times and founder and President of Americans for Truth About Homosexuality (AFTAH), has an outstanding column at WorldNetDaily that plainly illustrates the fact that Christian liberty and homosexual "rights" cannot coexist. In the column, titled, "'Gay' Power vs. Religious Liberty," he also compiles a long, sickening list of examples of Christian persecution at the hands of homosexualists, leftist courts and outrageous state laws that protect homosexual behavior while robbing the freedoms of those who conscientiously object.Even so, we are losing this battle, and there are numerous reasons why. Brian Camenker, of MassResistance, wrote a report titled, "Lessons Learned from the Hawaii 'Gay Marriage' Fight." Homosexual "marriage" was forced on the people of Hawaii by a group of leftist politicians, despite massive opposition by the residents of the state who demanded that the issue be put to a vote by the people, instead of rammed through legislatively. This is another important column that you should take a few moments to read.
The prince of the power of the air, Satan, is successfully crafting a deceptively pro-homosexual atmosphere in our nation, from the media, to entertainment, to corporations and all major institutions. This causes many people to fear standing in opposition to the militant homosexual agenda and its activists, because of their track record of hostility, even violence, toward those who oppose them. Many conservative groups and churches fear the vicious vitriol of homosexuals and their supporters in our twisted culture, and that's really a shame.
A couple of parting thoughts. First, both organizations this reality challenged author quotes are Southern Poverty Law Center designated hate groups - yes, the same SPLC that tracks Neo-Nazi and white supremacy groups. Second, the author claims that Christians are being subjected to hostility and violence yet, the media is silent on such alleged attacks. Meanwhile, LGBT individuals continue to be subjected to violence and even murder at the hands of those who believe the drivel peddled by this author and others like her. The take away message? Far right Christians are not nice and decent - or sane - people and they deserve no deference from those who are decent and moral individuals.
Last evening Rachel Maddow was reviewing all the legislation that has not been passed by Congress this year - including routine legislation like a Farm Bill, Water Bill, Defense Bill, etc. - even as the GOP controlled House voted on the symbolic repeal of Obamacare roughly four dozen times. House Republicans like to chide the poor to get a job and be responsible for their own security, yet Congress most assuredly is NOT doing its job. But then, it's hard to do your job when you have more than two-thirds of the year off from work. The gulf between the lives of professional politicians in Congress and average Americans has never been so stark. Think Progress looks at this out of touch Congress. Here are highlights:
Congress has just eight days on the job between now and the start of the next session on January 7, with the House coming back on Monday and adjourning for the year by December 13 and the Senate returning on December 9 only to most likely adjourn for the year on December 20. In total, the House will have had 239 days off this year with even more scheduled for next year.
Certainly members of Congress have work to do when they’re not required to be in D.C., including meetings with constituents, running their other offices, talking to local community leaders, and doing media interviews. Some may also use those days off on other jobs for supplemental income, but most make side money by owning businesses or from investments.
The picture is very different for the rest of Americans, however. The country doesn’t guarantee its citizens any paid vacation or holiday time off, unlike 20 of its developed peers. All European Union countries guarantee workers at least 20 paid days of vacation a year, with France going so far as to lock in 30, the United Kingdom mandating 28, and Denmark, Finland, Norway, and Sweden guaranteeing 25.
Of course, many American employers still give their workers paid vacation time and holidays off. But that holds true for fewer and fewer workers. . . . . The biggest drops have come for those who work part-time — a position more and more find themselves in — or for employers with fewer than 100 workers.
The U.S. also lags developed peers in other kinds of paid time off. It is the only one out of the top 15 most competitive that doesn’t guarantee paid sick days, which leaves 40 percent of private sector workers out of paid leave. Those who do get paid sick days also get fewer of them than two decades ago. The country is even more lonely when it comes to maternity leave to take care of a new child, joining just three countries out of 178 in failing to guarantee paid time off. Fathers similarly get no guarantee of paid time off when a new child arrives.