Friday, March 26, 2010

Double Standard in Definition of Terrorism (update) or The Further Acceptance of Political Violence

Earlier this month I wrote about the double standard that is used when labeling some things as acts of terrorism and other things as … well … not terrorism. In the days following the passage of the health care reform bill, this double standard has been in evidence yet again. By now, you’ve certainly heard about a number of Democratic campaign offices being vandalized, several with rocks being thrown through windows. Guess what? It appears that the rock-throwing campaign may have been in response to a veritable call-to-arms from a right-wing blogger named Mike Vanderboegh. Here’s his March 19 post (emphasis added); if reading this manifesto doesn’t give you chills, then I’m even more worried about the slide toward political violence that we seem to be experiencing.

To all free Americans who still hold dear the Founders' vision of a constitutional Republic and who wish to remain free --

Nancy Pelosi's Intolerable Act is within days of passage by devious means so corrupt and twisted that even members of her own party recoil in disgust.

This act will order all of us to play or pay, and if we do not wish to, we will be fined.

If we refuse to pay the fine out of principle, we will be jailed.

If we resist arrest, we will be killed.

They will send the Internal Revenue Service and other federal police to do this in thousands of small Wacos, if that is what it takes to force us to submit.

This arrogant elite pretends that this oppression is for our own good, while everyone else understands that this is about their selfish, insatiable appetite for control over our liberty, our money, our property and our lives.

The majority of the people have made it plain that they do not want this tyrannical transfer of power wrapped in soft lies.

It does not matter.

Pelosi and her ilk apparently do not understand that this Intolerable Act has some folks so angry that they are ready to resist their slow-rolling revolution against the Founders' Republic by force of arms. Why should they? For in the past seventy-five years of being pushed back continually from the free exercise of our God-given rights to life, liberty and property, WE HAVE NEVER SHOVED BACK. Rather, it was we, the law-abiding, who backed up each time, grumbling.

These are collectivists. They do not hear you grumble. They do not, it is apparent after the past year of town halls and Tea Parties and nose-diving opinion polls, hear you SHOUT. They certainly do not hear the soft "snik-snik" of cleaning rods being used on millions of rifle barrels in this country by people who have decided that their backs are to the wall, politics and the courts no longer are sufficient to the task of defending their liberties, and they must make their own arrangements.

The Imperial Democrats do not care what you think. They will not hear you. They are every bit as arrogant and isolated as King George the Third was from the liberty-loving American colonists in 1775.
And yet, if we are to avoid civil war, we must get their attention BEFORE the IRS thug parties descend upon us each in turn -- when we will be forced into dozens of defensive slaughters and then, to end it, forced yet again to call Pelosi and the other architects of this war upon their own people to final account.

We are the law-abiding of this country, yes. We always have been. But when the "law" is distorted and twisted into an unconstitutional means of oppression, backed by the entire weight of the federal Leviathan, it is not "law" at all, but mere illegitimate force.

John Locke said it best:

"Whenever the legislators endeavor to take away and destroy the property of the people, or to reduce them to slavery under arbitrary power, they put themselves into a state of war with the people, who are thereupon absolved from any further obedience."

When the law becomes a deadly tool of tyranny, it is no longer a good thing to be obedient and "law-abiding." It is, in fact, suicidal.

Yet, given the federal mandarins' willful ignorance of our very existence and conviction that we have no opinions that they are bound to respect, is there anything that can be done to prevent civil war?
Yes, there is.

We can emulate the Sons of Liberty of old.

We can break their windows.

These windows are not far away from where you are reading this right now. In virtually every city and county in this land, there is a local headquarters of Pelosi's party -- the Democrat party. These headquarters invariably have windows. When the Sons of Liberty wanted to express their opposition to the actions of the King's ministers, they would gather in front of the homes and offices of his tax-collectors and government officials in Boston or New York and break their windows. Glass was expensive. The King's minions were often the most well-to-do. The Sons of Liberty hit them in their pocketbooks.

Most importantly, however, was the message to the royal functionaries that there are personal consequences for oppressing your fellow citizens. The King is far away, and you are here, among us, the people.

This is the message that modern Sons of Liberty should get across to the Royalists of today. Now. Before we have to resort to rifles to resist their "well intentioned" tyranny.
This is not to say that the GOP (I refuse to call them "Republicans" for that is a misuse of the word) does not bear a large measure of responsibility for the situation we find ourselves in today. However, they have opposed this Intolerable Act. Yet, if we do a thorough job of breaking Democrat windows, I am sure that the GOP will profit from the example.

So, if you wish to send a message that Pelosi and her party cannot fail to hear, break their windows.

Break them NOW.

Break them and run to break again. Break them under cover of night. Break them in broad daylight. Break them and await arrest in willful, principled civil disobedience. Break them with rocks. Break them with slingshots. Break them with baseball bats.


The time has come to take your life, your liberty and that of your children and grandchildren into your own two hands and ACT.

It is, after all, more humane than shooting them in self defense.

And if we do a proper job, if we break the windows of hundreds, thousands, of Democrat party headquarters across this country, we might just wake up enough of them to make defending ourselves at the muzzle of a rifle unnecessary.

Sons of Liberty, this is your time.

Break their windows.

Break them NOW.

And Nancy, if this be sedition, if this be treason in your eyes, then make the most of it.

Mike Vanderboegh

[I am not providing a link to Vanderboegh’s site because I don’t want to send any more traffic his way; similarly, I’ve removed his contact information from his manifesto.]

Now just for a moment consider the public outcry if this had been a Muslim calling on other Muslims to break windows to show outrage over the Iraq war or the Patriot Act or Guantanamo. Consider the outcry if this had been an employee of ACORN calling on African-Americans to break windows to show outrage over voting rights abuses or disparate treatment in affordable housing. Consider the outcry if this had been a left-wing blogger calling on Democrats to break Republican windows to show outrage over the Supreme Court’s decision in Bush v. Gore or warrantless wiretaps or refusal to recognize global warming. Do you have any doubt that in any of those cases, the person advocating the window-breaking campaign would have been called a terrorist and treated as such? Hell, Republicans would probably be demanding that the person be tortured to find out who else was involved. But when a right-wing blogger advocates violence? The silence is almost deafening.

At least MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow didn’t let this pass without notice or comment:

It is time for leaders on both sides … but especially Republicans as that is the direction from which most of the current hate speech and violent rhetoric is coming from … to stand up and make forceful and strident denunciations of this kind of behavior. For that matter, it is time for people like Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh to recognize what their words can lead to. Because if this continues in its present course, how long will it be until we’re confronted by:

Oklahoma city bombing



or even

civil war soldiers.

If we don’t stop this now, political violence will become worse … or even the norm. And all of this because President Obama wanted to extend health insurance coverage to millions of uninsured Americans.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to go meet my death panel before flying off in a black helicopter to my New World Order meeting about taking away guns so that we can put people in FEMA concentration camps.

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Thursday, March 25, 2010

And now for something completely different: Cheerleading (update)

In January 2008, just a few weeks after I started this blog, I posted a brief entry about my daughter’s upcoming cheerleading competition. With that post, I included the following photo of her. I think the photo was from a competition late in 2007 (when she was 8), but as I look at it now, I wonder if it might not have been from the previous spring (when she was 7):image001-706942[1]

Well, this past weekend, she finished her most recent season of cheerleading (she’s at a new gym this year). At the last competition, we purchased some photos taken by the professional photographer hired by the competition organizer. When I looked at those photos, I recalled the photo above and had to go back and look again. So now compare my daughter age 8 (or 7) to my daughter age 10:


If that’s the difference between 8 and 10, I’m now officially scared of the teenage years…

Just for fun, here are the other photos from the competition:

scan0002scan0003 scan0004 scan0005

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Wednesday, March 24, 2010

President Bush: "Ooh, I Touched a Negro..."

Just as a picture speaks a thousand words, a video can speak volumes. Or, sometimes a video doesn't really really show what it clearly appears to show. Anyway, I couldn't help but post this video of President Clinton and President Bush touring earthquake-ravaged Haiti. Watch President Bush closely at the :13 mark.

Tell me that President Bush didn’t just wipe his hand on President Clinton’s shirt after shaking hands with a Haitian. Actually, it looks like he first started to wipe his hand on the woman to his left and then changed his mind.

I have no idea what really happened or what, if anything, President Bush may have said, and I don’t really think that President Bush is a racist or a xenophobe. But I think that the title for this post bears at least some similarity to what the video seems to show.


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Tuesday, March 16, 2010

To Republican Culture Warriors, Truth Remains Irrelevant

In Arizona, Sen. John McCain has drawn a primary challenge from former Congressman J.D. Hayworth. Apparently Hayworth views Sen. McCain as far too liberal to represent the citizens of Arizona. Among the issues that Hayworth has raised is the issue of same-sex marriage and the need for a Constitutional amendment to define marriage (and ban same-sex marriage). To that end, here is what Hayworth said during a radio interview on Sunday (audio only; transcript below):


You see, the Massachusetts Supreme Court, when it started this move toward same-sex marriage, actually defined marriage — now get this — it defined marriage as simply, “the establishment of intimacy”. Now how dangerous is that? I mean, I don't mean to be absurd about it, but I guess I can make the point of absurdity with an absurd point. I guess that would mean if you really had affection for your horse, I guess you could marry your horse. It’s just the wrong way to go and the only way to protect the institution of marriage is with that federal marriage amendment that I support.

Now the purpose of this post isn’t to address the pros or cons of the marriage amendment or same-sex marriage. I’ve certainly made my viewpoint on that clear in the past (hint: I support same-sex marriage). Nor is this post intended to discuss the idiocy of Hayworth’s slippery slope argument that same-sex marriage could lead to bestiality (or incest or polygamy or pedophilia or whatever phrase would describe sex or marriage to an inanimate object, all of which are used as a part of the slippery slope argument against same-sex marriage). Instead, I want to look at the way people frame arguments and respond to challenges.

So go back and look at the principal claim made by Hayworth, that the “Massachusetts Supreme Court … defined marriage as simply, ‘the establishment of intimacy’.” That is a statement that Hayworth presents as fact. He encloses the statement in verbal quotation marks.

Last night, Rachel Maddow had Hayworth on her show to discuss his claims and allegations. Watch this excerpt:

To paraphrase a quote that has been oft-repeated of late, people are entitled to their own opinion, but they are not entitled to their own facts. Note how Hayworth just smiles when Maddow notes that the phrase “establishment of intimacy” is not found in the opinion of the Massachusetts Supreme Court. He then tells Maddow that he “appreciates that they have a disagreement” on whether the language is or is not in the opinion. In other words, though he has been proven wrong on something that he presented as a fact, he simply doesn’t care.

For the record, the opinion can easily be found online. Go ahead take a look at the opinion. I did. I searched for the phrase “establishment of intimacy” in the opinion. Guess what? That phrase is not used. So next I searched for the use of the word “intimacy” and found the following uses:

  • There, the [United States Supreme Court] affirmed that the core concept of common human dignity protected by the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution precludes government intrusion into the deeply personal realms of consensual adult expressions of intimacy and one's choice of an intimate partner.
  • Civil marriage is at once a deeply personal commitment to another human being and a highly public celebration of the ideals of mutuality, companionship, intimacy, fidelity, and family.
  • Whether and whom to marry, how to express sexual intimacy, and whether and how to establish a family — these are among the most basic of every individual's liberty and due process rights.
  • Our laws of civil marriage do not privilege procreative heterosexual intercourse between married people above every other form of adult intimacy and every other means of creating a family.
  • Similarly, the Supreme Court has called for increased due process protection when individual privacy and intimacy are threatened by unnecessary government imposition.
  • (characterizing "whom to marry, how to express sexual intimacy, and whether and how to establish a family" as "among the most basic of every individual's liberty and due process rights")

I suppose that Hayworth could have been referring to one of these other phrases in which the word “intimacy” occurs; after all, people can make mistakes. But this rationalization fails for several reasons. First, Hayworth enclosed his statement in verbal quotation marks when he used it, thus implying that it was more than just a rough idea conjured up by the opinion or a paraphrasing of the Court’s statement. Moreover, Hayworth used the same precise phrase in both interviews, so he doesn’t appear to have been merely paraphrasing. Furthermore, the premise of his initial remarks followed from the “danger” of the false definition that he quoted. Finally, it would have been easy for him to say to Maddow, “Gee, I was paraphrasing” or “You’re right, and I meant to refer to that other phrase you mentioned” or even “Those words may not be there, but that is the gist of what the Court meant.” But he said none of those things. Instead, he stuck to his bogus phrase and “appreciated” that there was a disagreement as to whether something easily checked did or did not exist. And he smiled all the while, as if to say, “Who cares if I made it  up; facts are meaningless!” Hayworth’s “disagreement” is no more genuine than disagreement about whether the sun rises in the east or the west … or whether the health care bill had “death panels”.

And that’s what’s really dangerous. What does it say for our society and our democracy when politicians are so willing to gleefully say “fuck facts” and base their “principles” on lies? We’ve seen it with death panels and the reconciliation “nuclear option” and a whole host of other issues. But when it becomes so brazen that, even when confronted by very simple, easily fact-checked evidence, the response is to simply smile and “appreciate” the disagreement, as if objective reality were no longer objective, then how can we trust much of anything anymore? And what does it say for our society and our democracy when so many people are willing to simply taking smiling politicians or pundits at their word without any effort to think fact-check pronouncements, let alone think independently?

We should make decisions on important issues on the basis of facts. And if a fact offered by one side is proven to be demonstrably untrue, then the point should be surrendered or another rationale to support the argument should be put forth. But simply relying upon lies … well, there be madness.

Finally, is it just me, or does Hayworth remind anyone else of a bobblehead doll?

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Friday, March 12, 2010

Double Standard in the Definition of Terrorism

Sometimes, I’m a bit slow and have a hard time understanding certain things. For example, when a group of Muslim guys get angry at America and demonstrate their anger by flying planes into buildings, including a government building, they’re terrorists. But when another guy, also angry at America (or at least the IRS) flies his plane into a government building, he’s merely a lone delusional nut but not a terrorist. When a white Muslim guy hides explosives in his shoe and tries to detonate those explosives on an airplane, he’s taken into civilian custody, read his rights, and treated as a criminal who tried to commit terrorist acts; yet when another Muslim guy (black) hides explosives in his underpants and tries to detonate those explosives on an airplane, there’s a hue and cry that he should be remanded to military custody, tortured, and treated as an enemy combatant. When a Muslim military psychologist goes on a shooting rampage on a military base, he’s called a terrorist and people cry out for more ethnic and racial profiling. But when another guy walks up to the Pentagon and opens fire on guards, he’s simply a lone delusional nut. When a Muslim guy walks into a US Army recruiting office and opens fire, he’s a terrorist. But when an anti-Semitic, white supremacist vet goes on a shooting spree at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, he’s simply another lone delusional nut. When environmental activists spike a tree or try to release animals from a lab, they’re eco-terrorists. But when an anti-abortion activist with ties to a broader anti-abortion network assassinates an abortion provider, he’s another lone delusional nut. Do you see a pattern here?

Maybe we should ask Fox News to explain the double standard? Maybe Glenn Beck can draw us a diagram on a blackboard.

Just for the record, I think that all of the episodes that I’ve described are most probably classified as acts or terrorism. Whether the perpetrator was an American or foreigner, whether a Muslim or Christian, whether on the left or right, these acts all probably constitute terror and should be treated the same.

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IN Touch: A Threat to Our Rights (update)

Back in January, I posted my most recent entry for The Indianapolis Star's IN Touch blog. In the weeks following the publication of that post on the IN Touch blog, an interesting and heated discussion followed in the comments section of the IN Touch site. I don't know how long The Indianapolis Star keeps those comments, so I decided to copy them here for posterity (note that I deleted a mistakenly duplicated post and corrected a few odd formatting errors that made some text hard to read). Unfortunately, real life and work intervened and I wasn’t able to fully participate in the discussion as it kept going. Nevertheless, the discussion is interesting, especially the chance to see how someone vehemently opposed to gay marriage (or perhaps gay rights in general or even the very concept of “gay rights”) frames the issues and arguments.

First, go back and read my original post. Then check out these comments.

IrishKevin (January 27, 2010)

Michael, I agree wholeheartedly with your post.

No one, to my knowledge, has EVER truly explained how same-sex marriage would destroy traditional marriages, affect their own families or end civilization as we know it.

The proponents (supporters) of SJR-13, I am sure, would NOT agree to amendments such as banning divorce, requiring pre-marital counseling, or other amendments which would "protect" their traditional marriages. They jump up and down about protecting marriage and family while they themselves have been divorced and remarried. It seems to me divorce is a MUCH bigger threat to marriages and families than same-sex marriages are. And after all, these fundamentalist legislators should remember that Jesus did say what God has brought together let NO MAN put asunder. But hey, they only follow the parts of Jesus teachings that are "convenient" for them, yet they call themselves devout Christians. What a laugh.

However, I think we all know that the usually cast of characters are really out just trying to score political points with their fundamentalist base, so they can keep getting re-elected. If they spent as much effort trying to solve the REAL problems facing Indiana and stop worrying about same-sex marriages, maybe they MIGHT actually accomplish something of value, instead of wasting their time on stuff like SJR-13 while they are in session.

But hey, these "family value" legislators just want to bring up this issue every session so they can keep getting elected and keep coming to Indianapolis on the taxpayer's dime, stay in hotels, dine out and waste MORE time accomplishing NOTHING for the citizens of Indiana.

Mick Lee (February 1, 2010)

As usual, supporters gay marriage claim that "No one... has EVER truly explained how same-sex marriage would destroy traditional marriages". And, as usual, the key words are "has ever truly explained". What this means is that they get to decide what is "truly". It would doubt few that our writers don't believe such explanations could exist in the first place.

Well, the truth is such explanations are out there easy to be found. Anyone who claims otherwise is either ignorant or dishonest. Our writers may not like them. They may say they don't meet their approval or their logic. But they are there. Just surf the web.

IrishKevin (February 1, 2010)

So tell us Mike [ed: I believe that IrishKevin meant Mick, not Mike; see below], how does same-sex marriage affect YOUR marriage, YOUR family, YOUR well-being?

Come on Mike, tell us, and be specific. I don't want some generic answer from the groups who go down to the Satehouse but never really say anything relevant. They are the ones who NEVER explain HOW same-sex marriage will affect them, their familes or their well-being.

So, since you take issue with that, I want to know how it directly affects YOU. Come on, tell us.....(if you can).

Michael Wallack (February 1, 2010)


Thanks for reinforcing my point. You tell me that explanations are "out there easy to be found". Yet, like the proponents of the proposed constitutional amendment who testified to the Indiana Senate Judiciary Committee, you don't tell us what those reasons are, either. A legislator being asked to amend our constitution shouldn't have to surf the web for a rationale; proponents of the amendment should put their rationale up for scrutiny and debate. In this case, that was not done.

Michael Wallack (February 1, 2010)


Are you asking me or did you mean to ask Mick? For my part, same-sex marriage will have absolutely no effect on me, my marriage, or my well-being.

Mick Lee (February 2, 2010)

What has escaped Michael and Kevin is that I had accused the other writers of dishonesty and bad faith. You never "truly" heard how same-sex marriage would destroy traditional marriages? It's because you don't want to. It is easily done with a few clicks on the web and the fact that our industrious writers have little interest in doing so demonstrates they have little curiosity into why anyone would think differently than they do. Our writers really don’t want to debate “gay marriage” at all. In other words, the subject isn't really the subject. Something else is afoot. Our writers' real goal is to leave the door open for some court to decide the whole issue for everyone else. Given the Hoosier electorate, that is the only way "gay marriage" will become legal in Indiana.

IrishKevin (February 2, 2010)

Re: Mike Lee. Mike, you wrote "You never "truly" heard how same-sex marriage would destroy traditional marriages? It's because you don't want to."

Then you say it is out on the web. I am not asking that. I am asking YOU. How does same-sex marriage affect YOU, YOUR marriage and YOUR family. You seem concerned that "some court to decide the whole issue for everyone else"...So tell us how it will affect YOU.

So I would like YOU, and the others who scream that same-sex marriage will DESTROY our state and our Nation, to tell me HOW it will destroy your marriage... How will it destroy our state, our nation, our families and civilization as we know it? Those opposed to same-sex marriage make those claims but they NEVER say how their own marriages or lives will be affected. And by the way, they DON'T say that on the WEB either.. they just make the same stupid rants that they have to protect traditional marriage and family values, yet they TRULY NEVER say how same-sex marriage will "destroy" traditional marriage... so please TELL US....

Michael Wallack (February 2, 2010)


Actually, I think that you're missing the point. Look at the last paragraph of my original post. You will see that the issue is NOT whether Indiana should allow gay marriage; the issue is whether we should amend our Constitution. Perhaps the issue of same-sex marriage should be open to the courts (just as a lot of civil rights rulings were left to the courts) or to a future legislature. But amending the Constitution would prohibit a future legislature from dealing with same-sex marriage or civil unions.

The other point that you miss is that I said that at the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing, none of the proponents of SJR 13 endeavored to identify the perceived threat. I'm happy to debate the merits of those perceived threats, but it is the obligation of those proposing a constitutional amendment to come forward with the arguments; it isn't the obligation of the opponents to both "find" the arguments and then defeat them.

Jeff Lint (February 2, 2010)


I think it is you who doesn't want to debate this issue. You say the arguments are out there defining how "same-sex marriage would destroy traditional marriages" yet you can't cite a single argument. I have heard and read a lot on this issue and like Irish Kevin I have never heard anyone explain how same-sex marriage harms much less destroys traditional marriage, "truly" or otherwise. If this issue is as clear as you seem to think it is why can't you present any evidence? If you're arguing that some of your fellow Hoosiers should be denied rights belonging to others you need a better argument than no argument at all.

IrishKevin (February 2, 2010)

Michael, I met to ask Mick, (and I inadvertently wrote Mike). In fact, I responded again to him and again wrote Mike instead of Mick.

Based on what you wrote in your original posting, I assumed that you were not affected in any way by same-sex marriage, just like NO ONE ELSE'S marriage, family or well-being would be affected by same-sex marriage, despite what Advance America and the other organizations claim.

Mick Lee (February 2, 2010)

Our writer is certainly right to say that same-sex marriage is already prohibited by state law. The citizens of Indiana have already spoken. So why fool around with the state constitution? Precisely because some court will all by itself constitutionalize the issue and place it beyond public discourse in rendering its own decision. That is, with the right case before it, the judicial branch of government can and will amend the Indiana constitution all by itself.

Many if not most within gay activist community are putting their hopes for these circumstances to transpire. The apprehension of their opponents is that gay activists will attempt an “end run” around the Indiana voters and legislature by appealing to a receptive court.

Michael makes a curious statement when he writes: “do we really want to start amending our bill of rights with provisions that serve to restrict, rather than enhance, those rights?” It the first place, Michael serves up a planted axiom that what is referred as “gay rights” actually exist. This is in the very least debatable and far from a settled consensus. In the second place, Michael misses an important function of the bill of rights.

Rights, as we possess them, protect us from the naked strength government. They serve to protect the Hoosier populace from the coercive power of those who think society should be remade according to their lights. Such “reforms” are always presented as benevolent changes. But the means is tyrannical.

Contrary to assertion of some, marriage is not a vehicle to collect benefits. The sentiment of Hoosiers along with millions over the globe is that marriage is one man and one woman for the nourishment and protection of children. Yes, there are different other kinds of families. But all these possible “family” constellations are not the same nor do they possess the same strengths and weaknesses. Quite frankly, most are maladapted to the needs and demands placed on them--especially in the modern age. It is the accumulated experience and wisdom over the centuries that has shown us what works and what doesn’t. We do not wish to subject ourselves to court imposed social experimentation just to resort to reinventing the wheel. This could only be done by state imposed coercion against the liberty of Hoosiers. The marriage amendment is an assertion of the populace that they are a free and self-governing people rather than witless subjects of a handful of men in black robes.

Yes, social dyads called gay marriages will always exist among us. But the question before the larger society is which family constellation will we recognize and to which will we extend our assistance. Gay pairings will always exist; but the larger society has decided that it is not its job nor is it in their interest to aid in preserving them.

Jeff Lint (February 3, 2010)


Please explain how "same-sex marriage would destroy traditional marriages". If you can't explain how this happens I don't see how you can justify denying the same civil rights to your fellow citizens that you enjoy.

Mick Lee (February 3, 2010)

A few years ago, before his "sudden" parting of ways with the Star, RiShawn Biddle and I had a lengthy exchange over several letters on just the subject of how gay marriage would damage (note, I did not say destroy) traditional marriage. I introduced the concept of "social ecology" and Mr. Biddle kept true to his libertarian views and refused to believe that what was going on around him could crack into his life. I view human being very much social beings for whom their culture is very much the air they breathe. Mr. Biddle believes in a radical individualism by which the person is critically separate from society.

On these grounds, Mr. Biddle and I kept going around in circles. I ended my side of the exchange citing empirical evidence from Holland and the Scandinavian countries where gay marriage was established in law.

The evidence revealed that fewer marriages were formed over time and fewer with each passing year. Cohabitation became the norm. Such arrangements are inherently unstable in that they were less likely to culminate in marriage and were prone to dissolve in a matter of a few months to a few years.

For the children, the failure of families to form or to be laid waste often leads to a number of crippling pathologies-often throughout their lives. In theory, these alleged "self contained individuals" should have remained detached from the trash around them. As life is really lived, this just isn't so.

Mr. Biddle granted there may be certain "pychic effects" (a term I rejected) in broadening what is considered as marriage but these were irrelevant to the principle of personal liberty.

My counter is that the Lord gave us our liberties so that we may carry out our duties. Liberty must be "for" something. Liberty doesn't live for itself nor is it an unqualified license to harm others while enjoying one's liberty. It was Abraham Lincoln who championed this concept of liberty and it was for these same reasons he objected to the institution of slavery. Lincoln reasoned that a man who is a slave is a man who is unable to honor is mother and father and thus unable to keep the Commandments.

A sin is often times not a malicous act of evil. Instead, it is often the illicit use of something intended for good. Gay activists often point to all the good things that come out of gay marriages. I this I have no doubt. It of no surprise that good things come out of the wrongful application of marriage — an institution meant for good. What would truly be surprising would be if nothing good came out of it. Yes, marriage is meant of the mutual love and companionship of two individuals. But marriage is also for the issue, nourishment and protection of children. Yes, many gay partners are raising children and do so well. Yes, some heterosexual couples never have children and have no intention of doing so; but they enjoy an intense passion with each other. But these are distinct minorities within the norm. The childless couples are in a marriage because each has bound their generative sexuality to their partner so that it will not be shared with another. Parents for a child are necessary but are not sufficient. Parents are not gender interchangeable. A child needs both and male father and female mother. That family constellation provides the optimum condition for children to grow — especially if both the mother and father are the biological parents. That so many heterosexual marriages are bad does not lend legitimacy to gay couples claiming marriagehood. Most homosexual couples do not have children in the first place. Those gay couples that do raise children lack the complimentary aspects of male and female caregivers.

I well understand the agony and isolation homosexuals continue to suffer in our society. The pain many heterosexuals inflict on gays for the sake of fun and enjoyment of hurting them is a sin against God. But conforming marriage to one's circumstances is not necessary to be a member and conversationalist of the moral community.

I say all these things with my beloved gay son in my heart. I will never reject him and only wish him well. He and his lover will always have a welcome place at our table. Nevertheless, things are as they are.

IrishKevin (February 3, 2010)

Mick, I see you have responded to Michael, but not to me, which is okay, as I really did not think you would answer my question as to how same-sex marriage directly affects YOU, YOUR marriage and/or YOUR family. I still stand behind my original assertion the no one who opposes same-sex marriage TRULY indicates HOW same-sex marriage will "destroy" their OWN marriage, the institution of marriage, or how it affect their families or bring an end to civilization and the human race.

So I guess you will continue to pontificate and avoid direct answers. That is fine, I am done as well as you clearly don't have an answer.

I also could pontificate as to WHY this country is a REPRESENTATIVE REPUBLIC, as opposed to a TRUE Democracy, and WHY Jefferson, Madison and the rest of the Founding Fathers did that to protect the minority from the TYRANNY of the majority. But I guess you don't know or understand any of that. Maybe you and the rest of the supports of SJR 13 should go read Madison's writing on why he feared the tyranny of the majority, and why we ELECT representatives, and have courts to PROTECT minorities from the majority voting away their rights. Maybe you need to go study a little more U.S. History, Civics and Political Science.

I would bet it would have taken a LOT longer for southern states to get rid of the "Jim Crow" laws if the citizens of those states were allowed to vote on them. The State legislatures and courts took the actions necessary to protect the minorities because the "majority" would have voted to maintain the status quo.

Allowing fellow citizens to VOTE on taking away OTHER citizens rights is VERY DANGEROUS and the VERY REASON we have elected officials and courts. This is NOT a true democracy. And as much as YOU and others would like to vote away rights of fellow Hoosiers, I am glad that there are SOME legislators in Indiana who understand the implications of that.

Mick Lee (February 4, 2010)

How shall “gay marriage” impact my marriage? Well, Kevin, I am an old man — married for over fifty years. And I am probably not long for this world. At least in my case, the question is misapplied. I assure you that a certain hardening of the “concrete” that forms the bonds between my wife and myself took place some time ago — long before the notion of “gay marriage” made its first appearance. (Yes, there was a time when even gay activists thought “gay marriage” was an outrageous idea — nothing more than a “red herring” and a fantasy floated by their opponents to divert attention from the real issues of discrimination in housing, employment and peaceable public protection.) . However, I have more than a casual interest in the kind of world I will leave behind and in what happens to my children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren and all who come after me.

I am sure you are quite proud of your civics lesson; but, given the maturity of your writing flair, it is my guess that I had written much more multi-layered manuscripts on the Federalist Papers and the Constitution before your father dripped from your grandfather’s seed. But we need not go down those roads. The fact is your discourse begs the question.

You and your compatriots insist on the protection of your right to marriage. You also insist that no majority has the authority to take away your right. The problem, however, does such a right even exist? When the Federalist Papers were written and the Constitution ratified, the rights of Afro-Americans and the franchise for the Jews were subject to active debate — however imperfectly. In other words these questions have a long pedigree going back to the Founding. But at no time until these recent days has the “right” of homosexuals to marriage ever been advanced or argued in any forum. As I alluded to before, for most of the history of gay activism, leaders within the movement regarded the subject of “gay marriage” a phony issue invented by religious zealots to scare off the public. Even they thought the notion of “gay marriage” a contradiction in terms and hardly enviable in pursuit of their rights as homosexuals. It has been only recently that a “right to marry” has been put forward. In addition, many within the homosexual media insist that such a marriage should not be expected to conform to “heterosexist” norms.

You cannot manufacture a “right” nor is it safe to make the attempt. Neither can a majority take away what you never had to begin with. You certainly are right that we heterosexuals have allowed ourselves a lot of crap in our sexual adventures and marriages since the Second World War. But is precisely the point. When the radical liberalization of divorce, it was also argued that why should it make any difference to you and your marriage if the Smith’s down the street separate and divorce? The answer is that divorce was not kept at a small 10-15% as predicted — instead it reached slightly over 50%. This is a matter of indifference to many but it was a crippling disaster for a least one third of the children (many put the figure higher) resulting in a number of pathologies our society has yet to grapple with.

I have made my case plainly. The empirical evidence points out that broadening the legal definition to include gay marriage spikes in fewer marriages taking place and the increases failure of the formation stable families. Many will reply that that is their problem — not mine. I suggest that attitude is short sighted. One way or another it will become your problem.

You may well have gay marriage established in law sooner or later. I would bet on sooner. But we will not be the better for it.

IrishKevin (February 5, 2010)

Mick, it is not MY right to marry that I am concerned about, as I happened to have been married for over 30 years to my wonderful wife, but it the RIGHT of my gay son I am fighting for. He is entitled to the same "life, liberty and pursuit of happiness" as I and my wife have had.

The problem with SJR-13 is not that it is trying to "protect" marriage, as its supporters claim, but the wording, if you read it, is also intended to PREVENT civil unions as well. So those who say they are supporting SJR-13 to "Protect" the "sacred" institution of marriage are disingenuous, (as in hypocrites and bigots) since they are also against CIVIL UNIONS, and allowing gay couples who want to commit their lives to each, from enjoying the same CIVIL benefits, such as tax breaks, the right of Social Security benefits, and the over 1500 other state and federal benefits that married couples have that gay couples can NOT have. And please don't use that tired argument that those benefits can be achieved by creating contacts, because most of them cannot.

My gay son did NOT CHOOSE to be gay, he was born that way. So why should he not have the same chance at love, commitment and family as my straight sons and daughter have? Because some people think it is okay for the majority to VOTE away his right to have the committed relationship my straight kids can have? Well I don't happen to think so, even though you don't seem to like my "writing flair". (THAT'S TOUGH, by the way, I don't care.)

The majority CANNOT be allowed to vote on the rights and privileges of the minority. And they SHOULD NOT be allowed to vote DISCRIMINATION INTO the Indiana Constitution.

The Indiana constitution says "The General Assembly shall not grant to any citizen, or class of citizens, privileges or immunities, which, upon the same terms, shall not equally belong to all citizens."

So you can pontificate all you want. You can criticize my writing style or "writing flair", all you want, but allowing citizens to vote rights AWAY from a group and puting into the constitution WRONG and DANGEROUS. Maybe we should allow the citizens to vote away the rights of those who belong to the Muslim religion as well, since the majority seem to think they are all terrorists anyway.

So I guess you and I will have to agree to disagree, because I don't care if you agree or not, Gays are entitled to have the same long-term commitments, the same loving relationships and receive the SAME benefits from entering into a commitment MARRIED relationship as straight couples do, and NO ONE has the right to simply VOTE that away.

Gay married will NOT destroy traditional marriage, will NOT destroy traditional families will NOT destroy society, not matter what you and others opposed to it claim. And I happen to think this is EXACTLY the kind of tyranny of the majority that Madison warned about, whether you think so not.

SO I will continue to speak out against the phony Christians, who hide behind Bible verses to support their position, and the bigots who simply don't like gays, and the mass of uninformed citizens who won't take the time to educate themselves, but who rely on the bigots, hypocrites and phony Christians to form their opinions on the topic. Your time has passed, as the MAJORITY of those UNDER 30 support the right of a gay couple to get married. So it may not happen tomorrow, but it will happen, and those opposed will see they are on the WRONG side of this issue.

Mick Lee (February 19, 2010)

Mr. IrishKevin

1.) I have pointed to empirical evidence that those nations which have recognized "gay marriage" suffered a numerical decline in the formation of marriages and increases in failure in the formation stable families. This seems to be a matter of indifference to you. One can only assume that the original guest ion of "how would gay marriage effect your own marriage?" is really a matter of indifference to you. Come hell or high water, you are for gay marriage. Period. This qualifies as being a hypocrite.

2.) Marriage is what is known as a "pre-existing" institution. It existed long before any state and will exist long after the disappearance of any nation. No government has the authority to "redefine" marriage and it is an attack on liberty to do so.

3.) You totally fail to account how a "right" that no one--including gays--advocated anytime and anywhere before just recently, suddenly becomes something you merely assert exists as if it were self-evident.

4.) It is well documented that as individuals age they become more conservative. The first such phase occurs upon marriage. It is further compounded with the arrival of children. It is an inescapable phenomenon that people do change their political and social views as they pass through the milestones of life. Don't assume those under 30 will not change their minds on this issue.

4.) You assume the worst about your opponents. You more than clearly indicate that you believe who hold different views on this issue than you do are evil. This is not a mark of the pluralistic society we are supposed to cherish.

5.) Your writings display a serious seething of hatred and bile. You are dangerous. On this basis alone, most people will not listen to you. You should reflect on this. It is only hurting you.

IrishKevin (February 21, 2010)

I have to laugh at your "emperical evidence". You claim that marriages in Holland and the Scandanavian countries are down and that more couples are co-habitating ONLY because of gay marriage. So heterosexual couples are co-habitating because of gay marriage. WHAT A LAUGH! Your "evidence" falls apart Mr. Lee. Divorce is UP and couples are co-habitating here in the U.S. as well, and we don't have gay marriage as law. So the "emperical study doesn't hold water, as they say. The researchers would have had to eliminate EVERY OTHER reason for co-habitation to blame it only on gay marriage.

SO sorry, that research is, as they say, B.S.

While YOU have failed STILL failed to show how gay marriage affects YOU, your family OR society. (As I said, your study is bogus). The fact that more couples are co-habitating in Holland and that Holland allows gay marriage do NOT relate.

So yes I AM angry, when my son gets treated as a second class citizen by people like YOU, Mr. Lee. I have to come to the conclusion that maybe taxes in this country are "unfair", as all those Tea Party loonies keep shouting. So I will join their shouts... No equality, NO TAXES. Maybe the gay community should stop paying taxes until they receive same equal treatment, rights and privledges of ALL citizens. You don't want gay marriage? Then maybe you should pay the taxes of those whose RIGHTS you are denying.

Mick Lee (February 23, 2010)

Mr. IrishKevin

It is typical for pro-gay marriage folk to disparage the Holland studies. What is interesting is in their own way they admit the findings of the study. The error they make is that they assert marriage and co-habitation as equivalent associations. They are not. Cohabitation is inherently instable. Couples who cohabitate are two to three times more likely to break apart. The built in component in cohabitation is the avoidance of commitment. Marriage, in contrast, is a pledge of commit to one another and to provide nourishment and protection to the children they will have.

The pro-gay marriage folk have long worked to decouple child raising from marriage in the public mind. To a large degree, they have succeeded. This denaturing of marriage of one of its central purposes has made marriage simply one of several arrangements two people can make use. An option if you will. Those areas in Holland and Scandinavia which are the most receptive to same-sex marriage also have astonishing rates of out of wedlock births: 60to 80 percent. The simple fact is sociologists in both Europe and North America recognize being born out of wedlock carries a number of social pathologies which we have yet to begin to deal with.

Many such you snort in contempt at such studies. It is simply axiomatic to you that it just can�t be that gay marriage is responsible for any effects on heterosexual marriages. You point to all the other forces in our social sphere the just must be the cause of the destruction of marriage. Yet you produce no studies which refute the Dutch findings. The correlation is there that points to the increased acceptance of gay marriage and the decline in the formation of heterosexual marriages. You casually assert that the correlation is meaningless.

You fail to account just where this so called right to same-sex came from. Gay activists during the 1960’s through the 1980’s ridiculed the whole idea of gay marriage. They said that gay marriage was a scare tactic invented by religious zealots to drive people away from the real issues. Gay activists told us they were interested in nothing of the sort. Were the religious zealots right all along?

You are unhappy that I have not stated how the adoption of gay marriage would effect me. The flaw in your challenge is that you want a “micro” answer to a “macro” question. Dramatic social changes effect masses of people and it is only in observing large numbers of people one can assess how changes have impacted the population. Some families will be the epitome of the “new world”. For other families, change will bypass them for one reason or another. What we do know is the liberalization of the divorce laws and the introduction of effective contraceptives were supposed to be business of individuals. Yet in a very short time, these two things became everyone’s business. Marriage became less binding. Contraception made recreational sex outside marriage possible —  making sex and marriage less exclusive to each other. You may regard these as good changes; but you cannot deny what was once individual became everyone’s task to deal with.

As I wrote before, your hatred is palpable. I distrust you and can only be suspicious of what more you will want if you get what you want this time. What exactly would you do to us if you could?

As far as withholding taxes, I say go knock yourself out. You will have some interesting conversations with the I.R.S.

IrishKevin (February 24, 2010)

Mick Lee wrote: "As I wrote before, your hatred is palpable. I distrust you and can only be suspicious of what more you will want if you get what you want this time. What exactly would you do to us if you could?"

Do to US? So it is YOU against the world? I think your paranoia is showing.

Actually, the only people I "hate" are hypocrites, bigots and racists. I don't hate those who are "mentally challenged" (i.e. stupid), since they cannot help the fact that they can't grasp reality and basic truths or that they can be influenced so easily by those who have agendas.

However, I am not to fond of liars either actually.

So if you think I hate you, then you can decide which category you fall into. Based on your rants, you should be able to figure it out.

Interesting stuff, no? So what do you think?

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Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Will This Finally Convince People to Stop Paying Attention to Glenn Beck

Over the past year or so, Glenn Beck has made some pretty wild accusations and statements, whether declaring President Obama to be a racist, fear-mongering about FEMA concentration camps, or any of a host of other wild and often dangerous claims. Yet people continue to watch his program and listen to his rants (though advertisers continue to flee his program). A few days ago, however, he may have finally taken a step to show people how truly deranged he is and, at least to me, that derangement is dangerous.

On his radio show Beck said this (audio available here):

I’m begging you, your right to religion and freedom to exercise religion and read all of the passages of the Bible as you want to read them and as your church wants to preach them . . . are going to come under the ropes in the next year. If it lasts that long it will be the next year. I beg you, look for the words ‘social justice’ or ‘economic justice’ on your church Web site. If you find it, run as fast as you can. Social justice and economic justice, they are code words. Now, am I advising people to leave their church? Yes!

For the record, I’m a conservative Jew. So I followed Beck’s advice and looked (I knew what I’d find…) at the website of The United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism and found a whole page on Social Action including a sub-topic of Social Justice that includes such things as climate change, Civility in Public Discourse, Confronting the Common Enemy: Hatred, Dialogue with Presbyterian Clergy, Jewish Community Budget Priorities, Domestic Violence, Heading Off Bias Crimes Before They Occur, Serving Our Seniors, gay marriage, Judaism and Health Care Reform, Organ Donation, and numerous other issues. Ooh. Scary stuff, right? Well, no. Not really. In fact, those positions are things that make me proud to be a Jew and proud of my affiliation.

My synagogue is also affiliated with Reconstructionist Judaism. Guess what? There is a social justice component to Reconstructionist teaching as well (though sadly the website doesn’t have a dedicated social justice page). Similarly, the website for the Union of Reform Judaism also has a whole page devoted to social action that includes, among other things, Heath Care for All, Economic Justice, and Greening Reform Judaism.

Now according to data that I found on Wikipedia (I know, I know…), there are between 5.1 and 6.5 million Jews in America (the lower number does not include children). Apparently, 4.3 million are “strongly connected” to Judaism. Of those, 46% belong to a synagogue and of those who do belong, approximately 71% are affiliated with either the Reform, Conservative, or Reconstructionist movements, all of which have a social justice component. So by my rough math, Beck has told approximately 1.4 million American Jews to leave their respective Jewish affiliations!

If that wasn’t offensive enough, here’s why Beck wants people to disaffiliate from churches that advocate for social justice:

That’s right, social justice led to the gassing of 6 million Jews. At least it did in Glenn Beck’s paranoid, freakazoid, sleazy, world o’ fear. (For the record, Beck was raised Catholic but became a Mormon.)

I’ll leave members of other religions (especially Catholics) to talk about how offensive Beck’s comments are to them; I can’t and won’t speak on their behalf. But for Beck to attack social justice — which is a central focus of much of modern (progressive Judaism) — is so far beyond the pale it is hard to fathom. But to then tie that social justice to Nazism is … well … frankly, I’m at a loss for words on this one.

Tell Fox News that it is time for Beck to go before he manages to incite his own racial, religious, ethnic, or political civil war. Then again, maybe that’s what Fox wants. After all, a good ol’ fashion civil war or even simple race riots or an assassination or two might be good for ratings.

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Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Why Are Politicians So Willing to Tell Outrageous, Easily Disproven Lies?

Recently, I’ve been writing (here and here) about the use of reconciliation in the Senate and the willingness of Republicans to lie about the history of prior use of reconciliation. Yet even after the E.J. Dionne demonstrated the falsity of Sen. Orrin Hatch’s claims about reconciliation, Republicans continue to ignore the truth and simply lie.

Here’s a video clip from last Sunday’s Face the Nation. First Sen. Evan Bayh (D-Indiana) talks about the healthcare bill. Then Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) talks about reconciliation. Pay particular attention to Sen. Graham’s comments.

Did you happen to notice this one particular statement from Sen. Graham:

We’ve had reconciliation votes, but all of them had received bipartisan support. The least was 12 when we did reconciliation with tax cuts.

Now go back and take a look at those previous posts that I linked to above. As you’ll see, Sen. Graham’s statement is a lie. Let me again quote from E.J. Dionne’s editorial in The Washington Post (emphasis added):

But surely the 2001 and 2003 Bush tax cuts, which were passed under reconciliation and increased the deficit by $1.7 trillion during his presidency, were "substantive legislation." The 2003 dividends tax cut could muster only 50 votes. Vice President Dick Cheney had to break the tie. Talk about "ramming through."

If you look at the chart that I posted, you’ll see that Republicans used reconciliation with less than Graham’s claimed 12 Democrats at least 6 times (Balanced Budget Act of 1995, 0 Democrats; Taxpayer Refund and Relief Act of 1999, 0 Democrats; Marriage Tax Penalty Relief Reconciliation Act of 2000, 7 Democrats; Jobs and Growth Tax Relief Reconciliation Act of 2003, 2 Democrats; Deficit Reduction Act of 2005, 0 Democrats; and Tax Increase Prevention and Reconciliation Act of 2005, 3 Democrats). In other words, there’s no other way to describe Graham’s comments than to say that he was lying; it wasn’t just hyperbole or an error in fact. It was a lie. He knows the history of reconciliation. But rather than admit that Republicans used reconciliation without any bipartisan support at least 3 times and that in 2003 Republicans used reconciliation to pass massive tax cuts and had to rely upon Vice President Cheney to break a tie, Graham simply lies. Tell me which is is worse for democracy: (a) The use of reconciliation to allow for a majority vote on a bill that has already passed with a super-majority or (b) a Senator that is willing to go on national TV, look right at the camera, and lie. It’s bad enough that Republicans are so opposed to trying to help American families, but that they are willing to lie to try to stop Democrats from passing legislation that could help sickens me (pun intended).

One more thing: If the mainstream media was, in fact, “liberal”, then don’t you think that lies like Graham’s would immediately be fact-checked, identified, and subject to editorial scorn?

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Thursday, March 4, 2010

Graph Depicting Reconciliation Hypocrisy

The Sunlight Foundation has a terrific graph that shows past use of reconciliation:
ReconciliationThe article accompanying the graph is also worth a quick read.


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Rachel Maddow Calls Out Republican Hypocrites and Liars (and the Washington Post)

Wow. Watch this video of Rachel Maddow calling out Republican hypocrites and liars (and going after The Washington Post for enabling the lies). Good stuff.

At least The Washington Post ran columnist E.J. Dionne’s response to Sen. Orrin Hatch’s op-ed (and for the record, am I the only one who finds statements by Republicans that majority rule is somehow a violation of the democratic process to be ridiculous, if not offensive?). Dionne makes a few additional points worth noting:

The health-care bill passed the Senate in December with 60 votes under the normal process. The only thing that would pass under a simple majority vote would be a series of amendments that fit comfortably under the "reconciliation" rules established to deal with money issues. Near the end of his column, Hatch conceded that reconciliation would be used for "only parts" of the bill. But why didn't he say that in the first place?

Hatch grandly cited "America's Founders" as wanting the Senate to be about "deliberation." But the Founders said nothing in the Constitution about the filibuster, let alone "reconciliation." Judging from what they put in the actual document, the Founders would be appalled at the idea that every major bill should need the votes of three-fifths of the Senate to pass.

Hatch quoted Sens. Robert Byrd and Kent Conrad, both Democrats, as opposing the use of reconciliation on health care. What he didn't say is that Byrd's comment from a year ago was about passing the entire bill under reconciliation, which no one is proposing. As for Conrad, he made clear to The Post's Ezra Klein this week that it's perfectly appropriate to use reconciliation "to improve or perfect the package," which is the only thing that Democrats have proposed doing through reconciliation.

Hatch said that reconciliation should not be used for "substantive legislation" unless the legislation has "significant bipartisan support." But surely the 2001 and 2003 Bush tax cuts, which were passed under reconciliation and increased the deficit by $1.7 trillion during his presidency, were "substantive legislation." The 2003 dividends tax cut could muster only 50 votes. Vice President Dick Cheney had to break the tie. Talk about "ramming through."

The underlying "principle" here seems to be that it's fine to pass tax cuts for the wealthy on narrow votes but an outrage to use reconciliation to help middle-income and poor people get health insurance.

Keeping Maddow’s and Dionne’s comments in mind, it’s also worth noting how The Indianapolis Star frames the issue. Today, the Star ran a front-page article (apparently not available on the Star’s website) sourced from McClatchy Newspapers that included a “Q-and-A on Reconciliation”. Among the questions and answers:

Q: Why do Republicans object so much? Haven’t they used this tactic before?

A: Yes, many times. However, they say the tactic is intended to be used only on budget-related matters, not to force through substantive policy legislation. While they’ve used reconciliation in the past to cut taxes and overhaul welfare, in many cases with bipartisan support, they say this is different.

Notice anything left out of that answer? The Q&A tells us what Republicans say but doesn’t tell us how Democrats respond or, more importantly, what the truth is. The Q&A cites the oft-repeated not for “substantive policy legislation” and “bipartisan support” talking points. But how ’bout, for example, those 2001 and 2003 tax cuts that increased the deficit by $1.7 trillion (and remember that according to a comparison of the various health reform proposals done by the Kaiser Family Foundation, the Congressional Budget Office estimates the cost of the Senate bill at $871 billion over ten years with a net reduction to the deficit of $132 billion over ten years), one of which required Vice President Cheney to break a tie? McClatchy doesn’t fact check Republican statements; they just reprint them and The Indianapolis Star goes along.

Maddow and Dionne are right and the “mainstream media” — despite cries of “liberal bias” — is letting Republicans control the debate with half-truths and lies.

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Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Proof of Republican Obstruction Tactics

Yesterday, Senate Republicans provided simple proof that their tactics in the Senate are simply to obstruct the Democratic majority and President Obama. Senate Democrats had to call for cloture on the nomination of Barbara Milano Keenan to fill a vacancy on the United States Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit. Recall that cloture is the process by which a filibuster can be ended. While it only takes a simple majority to confirm a nominee or pass a bill, it takes 3/5 (60 votes) to invoke cloture and end a filibuster. Sen. Jim Bunning (R-Kentucky) (the same Senator who filibustered an extension of unemployment benefits and whined about missing the Kentucky-South Carolina basketball game to continue that filibuster) filibustered her nomination. The Democrats sought and were able to invoke cloture by a vote of … get ready … 99-0. That’s right: Every single Republican who voted* — including Sen. Bunning — voted to invoke cloture and end the filibuster.

Sen. Bunning could have ended or withdrawn his filibuster without forcing the invocation of cloture. But by forcing a vote to invoke cloture, Sen. Bunning was able to force the Senate to schedule an additional vote with the corresponding time for additional debate, which in turn delays work and votes on other matters.

So what can we infer about the motives of a Republican filibuster that has no supporters, including that of the Senator who initiates the filibuster? I think that it is safe to infer that the motive had nothing whatsoever to do with the qualifications of the nominee; furthermore I also think that it is fair to infer that the reason for the filibuster, if not based on the nominee’s qualifications, must have been pure and simple obstructionism. Is that really how we want our government to work?

*The only Senator not voting was Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas) who was in Texas yesterday for the state’s primaries.


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Monday, March 1, 2010

Wine Shelf-Talkers: Consumer Aid or Consumer Fraud? (update)

Last night I took Fresh Market to task for deceptive advertising. I followed up my blogged complaint by, once again, calling the company. This time I managed to get to the right person. I spoke to Fresh Market’s Merchandising Coordinator for Beer & Wine. He agreed that there was no excuse for the deceptive shelf-talker. Interestingly, he noted that Fresh Market stores are not supposed to use winery-supplied shelf-talkers either. He told me that Fresh Market’s regional or district manager was going to be in the store today and would make sure that the shelf-talkers in place were accurate. He was very polite and clearly understood the seriousness of the issue. For that I give him and Fresh Market credit.

In some ways, this reminds me of my complaint to Regal Cinema (and the follow-up with Pixar).

I admit it: From time to time, I can be a real pain in the ass. But when I see something that is fundamentally wrong, I have no problem saying so and calling to task those responsible. By the same token, when things are fixed, it becomes my responsibility to say so. I’ll try to stop by Fresh Market later this week to see what sorts of changes have been implemented.

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