For the past few months, Vanderbilt University has faced strong pushback from Christian student groups over its policy requiring all on-campus organizations to abide by the university’s non-discrimination statement, which includes sexual orientation protections. The groups claim that by being forced to allow gay students to participate and run for officer positions, they themselves are being discriminated against for their faith. The university has stood by its policy, arguing that because all students pay fees, all students should have equal access to campus resources.
This week, the issue escalated as the Tennessee legislature passed a bill threatening to cut state funding to any university that does not allow its religious student clubs to discriminate according to their beliefs. Though he does not agree with Vanderbilt’s policy, Gov. Bill Haslam (R) has committed to vetoing the bill ? his first veto in office ? because he considers it government overreach:
HASLAM: It is counter-intuitive to make campus organizations open their membership and leadership positions to anyone and everyone, even when potential members philosophically disagree with the core values and beliefs of the organization. Although I disagree with Vanderbilt?s policy, as someone who strongly believes in limited government, I think it is inappropriate for government to mandate the policies of a private institution.
Despite the veto, the debate will surely rage on. A nation-wide group known as the Christian Legal Society (which also has a Vanderbilt chapter) took a similar fight at a public college all the way to the Supreme Court a few years ago and lost. In Christian Legal Society v. Martinez, the Court found that “all-comers” policies were viewpoint neutral, and thus are no more unfair to Christian groups than any other student groups.
Despite the broad support they’ve received from the religious right, the Christian groups’ arguments generally lack merit. They allege that their organizations could somehow be infiltrated by antagonistic individuals attempting to take over the leadership, but not only has this never happened, but there’s also nothing keeping members from splintering off and forming a new group. They also argue that the exception that allows fraternities and sororities to discriminate based on sex is unfair, but of course this ignores the reality that Greek organizations are often intentionally single-sex because their members live together. Ultimately, these tactics represent a false victimization, an attempt by conservative groups to use campus resources to discriminate against other students. Thankfully, the state will not have the opportunity to compromise the university’s principles.
Louisiana has a history of anti-abortion legislation designed to infringe upon women’s access to abortion services. The state already requires women to have an ultrasound before an abortion procedure, but now, the state Senate has passed a bill that would require women to listen to the fetus’ heartbeat as well. Women would be able to opt out of hearing the heartbeat if they sign a form saying they don’t want to listen, and victims of rape or incest would be exempt. The measure now heads to the House
If you feel like you’ve seen an exceptional number of negative campaign ads — think black and white images, booming voices, and terrifying statistics — you aren’t alone. It turns out that this year’s presidential campaign season has been the most negative on record with 70 percent negative ads, according to a new Wesleyan Media Project study.
But it isn’t the candidates alone who are suddenly slinging mud. While the use of negative ads by the candidates has spiked (it was 8.6 percent in 2008, and it’s 52.5 percent this time around), the bigger change is in outside group’s campaigns, which have grown enormously according to Erika Franklin Fowler, co-director of the Wesleyan Media Project:
One reason the campaign has been so negative is the skyrocketing involvement of interest groups, who have increased their activity by 1100 percent over four years ago… But we cannot attribute the negativity solely to outside groups. Even the candidates? own campaigns have taken a dramatic negative turn.
There’s a big reason for the increased involvement, and that’s Citizens United, the Supreme Court decision that said outside groups can spend an unlimited amount of money on campaigns as long as they don’t “coordinate” with the candidate. That decision led to the advent of Super PACs, groups whose sole purpose it to spend money attacking their opponents and lauding the candidates they support. The results of the Super PAC campaign era are clear: In 2008, only 25.2 percent of outside group ads were negative — but today, 86 percent are.
Gov. Nathan Deal (R-GA) signed a law that reduces the number of weeks people would be able to collect unemployment benefits. Starting July 1, benefits will be reduced from 26 weeks to as little as 14 weeks. Republicans said it was needed because Georgia still must pay back more than $760 million it borrowed in recent years to pay for unemployment benefits, but state Democrats argued that cutting the benefits would hurt families. Georgia officials couldn’t keep up with the growing demand for unemployment benefits during the recession because legislators had passed a moratorium on collecting the tax from state employers during the booming economy.
This war on drugs has been out of control for a long, long time. Part of the problem is that cops assume if they picked you up, you must be guilty of something, and frequently decide to mete out their own version of "justice"?either directly, by beating the crap out of a suspect, or indirectly, by "forgetting" them. If this story doesn't convince you something is very wrong in our country, nothing will. Via Raw Story:
Daniel Chong, a 24-year old student at UC San Diego, was taken into custody during a drug raid and abandoned in a holding cell for five days without food or water, according to NBC San Diego.
?They never came back, ignored all my cries and I still don?t know what happened,? he said. ?I?m not sure how they could forget me.?
On April 21, Drug Enforcement Agents raided an apartment where Chong and his friends were smoking marijuana. Nine people were arrested and the agents reportedly seized ecstasy pills, marijuana, prescription medication, psychedelic mushrooms and weapons, according to CBS 8 News. Seven of those arrested were taken to jail and one was released.
Chong, however, was left handcuffed in a 5 ft. by 10 ft. holding cell.
Chong said he screamed and kicked the door, but to no avail. Eventually, he began hallucinating and drank his own urine in hopes of staying hydrated. After days without any human contact, he tried to kill himself by breaking his glasses with his teeth, and using the glass to cut himself.
Surprisingly, Chong allegedly found a bag of methamphetamine in the holding cell, which he used to stay awake.
After five days, a DEA worker heard noises coming from the holding cell and discovered him. Chong was taken to the hospital, where he spent three days in the intensive care unit.
Boy, if you listen to him some of the time, Mitt Romney just wants everyone to live really well. At a northern Virginia fundraiser, showing that he feels for the middle class, Romney cited a firefighter struggling to make ends meet:
"I spoke with a fireman yesterday, and he has a one-bedroom apartment, and his wife is pregnant, and he can't afford a second bedroom," he said, referring to a visit to New York City. "I asked the firefighters I was meeting with, about 15 or them, how many had had to take another job to make ends meet, and almost every one of them had."You'd think, to read that, that Romney was suggesting he thinks that's a less than ideal situation, firefighters having to work two jobs or unable to afford a two-bedroom apartment. But while that may have been his implication in that moment, Jonathan Chait flags a quote from Romney's stump speech that reflects his policy positions on how many bedrooms firemen should be able to afford: that "we will stop the unfairness of government workers getting better pay and benefits than the taxpayers they serve."
The unfairness he's talking about, of course, isn't the unfairness of a quarter of workers earning less than two-thirds of the median income, or low-wage workers becoming an older and more educated group. He's certainly not talking about the unfairness of taxpayers paying a higher tax rate than he does on less annual income than he earns in a day. These are all unfair?and all things Mitt Romney's policies would increase. No, the thing that's unfair to him is that the public sector has lagged somewhat in the race to the bottom. Stories about firefighters with pregnant wives are just a lame attempt at window-dressing on his real position, the one all his policy proposals promote.
I wonder if he told those firefighters how unfairly overpaid he thinks they are.
Occupy may not have reached ?critical mass? yet. It may not be that movement that can force the White House and Congress to change ?national policy on matters of war and social justice.? But, if energy and resources are put into running candidates, it?s[...]
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Hey, I'm on the radio. Check me out. We are talking about Amendment One.
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Romney names state campaign directors for Iowa and New Hampshire.[...]
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The bracket thus far is here. Today's winner will face off in the second round against Romney's Etch-a-Sketch.
1. RON PAUL OPPOSES HONEST RAPES
Did you know that some rapes are such liars you just can't trust them?
MORGAN: You have two daughters. You have many granddaughters. If one of them was raped -- and I accept it's a very unlikely thing to happen -- but if they were, would you honestly look at them in the eye and say they had to have that child if they were impregnated?Like all fierce opponents of abortion rights, Ron Paul stumbles when dealing with the issue of rape and incest. Because if abortion is truly murder, then there should be no justification for ending a pregnancy. But if a "shot of estrogen" (his attempt to avoid saying "morning after pill") is such a trivial procedure and one without moral qualms, then why work so hard to deny it to all women?
PAUL: No. If it's an honest rape, that individual should go immediately to the emergency room. I would give them a shot of estrogen....
But that's just a boilerplate contradiction in the conservative war against choice. It was Paul's talk of "honest rape" that made this moment stand out. What exactly was he proposing? Hooking up the rape to a lie detector test? An adjudication board that would render legal judgments as to the veracity of the rape? Or as Kaili wondered, "Is this a job for PolitiFact, who can offer its services to rate rapes as true, mostly true or pants on fire?"
What is also stunning about this interview is that Dr. Paul is admitting he would administer emergency contraception in the case of rape, but he refuses to use that terminology. See, Politician Paul knows that "pro-lifers" oppose emergency contraception because they believe, wrongly, that it is a method of abortion. Dr. Paul knows it isn't, but instead of using the words "emergency contraception" or "Plan B" or "morning-after pill," he says he would administer a "shot of estrogen."Reminds me of this guy:
Which is rather odd, considering that the various morning-after pills available contain other hormones. A "shot of estrogen" is not the standard emergency contraception medication. So either Dr. Paul doesn't actually know how emergency contraception works, or he simply prefers his own homemade brand. Either way, that's a pretty odd sort of treatment coming from a doctor.
On the campaign trail in Iowa:
I don't want to make black people's lives better by giving them somebody else's money. I want to give them the opportunity to go out and earn the money and provide for themselves and their families.Now that sort of thing plays great with conservatives, but not so great to a national audience. Thus, Santorum had to go into damage control. First, he blamed the comments on the documentary Waiting for Superman:
"I've seen that quote, I haven't seen the context in which that was made," Santorum told Pelley, of the Sunday remarks. "Yesterday I talked for example about a movie called, um, what was it? 'Waiting for Superman,' which was about black children and so I don't know whether it was in response and I was talking about that."Then, he decided that it was just a "mumble":
?In fact, I?m pretty confident I didn't say ?black.? I started to say a word and sort of mumbled it and changed my thought. I don't recall saying black. No one in that audience heard me say that,? he said.Then, finally, he settled on his final answer, which was that he was actually talking about those welfare-sucking blah people.
SANOTURM: I?ve looked at that quote, in fact I looked at the video. In fact, I?m pretty confident I didn?t say black. I started to say is a word and then sort of changed and it sort of ? blah ? mumbled it and sort of changed my thought.And btw, this is all stupid because, you know, he's the black Martin Luther King:
You guys, you guys ? it?s really sad that you are bringing this up. It?s just sad news. I?ve done more in the African-American communities as a Republican than any Republican in recent memory.?Talk about a low bar.