You may disagree with me on the issues but at least you know where I stand. In 2004, that in a nutshell was the campaign George W. Bush ran against the hapless, wind-surfing, flip-flopping John Kerry. Eight years later, the flip-flop is on the other foot.
President Obama made history yesterday when he came out of the closet and became the first sitting president to side with gay marriage. "I think same-sex couples should be able to get married," Obama told ABC's Robin Roberts last night. And this while the President's presumptive Republican challenger, Mitt Romney, was still calculating the collateral damage of allowing far right radio bullies to run his gay spokesmen out of town while the man who wants to be commander-in-chief stood awkwardly on the sidelines, mute.
What this shows is that the issue separating Barack Obama and Mitt Romney is not so much gay rights as courage.
Given a chance to man up when the fire-eaters in his own party were demanding spokesman Richard Grenell's hide, Romney cut and ran, telling his former gay campaign aide the same thing he'll tell us should we be careless enough to put him in the White House: "You're on your own."
Just hours after calling Grenell "a capable individual" and reassuring the independents he's now courting that he hires people "not based upon their ethnicity, or their sexual preference or their gender but upon their capability," Romney was meeting with Rick Santorum and mending fences with social conservatives.
On the other side, Vice President Joe Biden's famously big mouth may have gotten the ball rolling. But it was Romney's cowardly immobility allowing a gay aide to be eaten alive that gave Obama his golden opportunity to show his mettle and do the right thing.
There is little doubt the President's announcement was heart-felt and sincere. As the New Republic observes, Obama did not simply state a white paper position on gay marriage, the President made "a persuasive, moving" case for it.
Obama spoke about "members of my own staff who are in incredibly committed monogamous relationships, same-sex relationships, who are raising kids together." He mentioned his daughters' friends with gay parents.
"He told a narrative about his own views that will be familiar to many Americans who find themselves torn between loyalty to the traditional meaning of the word 'marriage' and loyalty to a gay friend or colleague or relative or neighbor," say New Republic editors. "What he effectively said to Americans yesterday was simple: My friends and colleagues mean more to me than tradition for its own sake. That's a powerful argument, and a more than worthy use of the presidential bully pulpit."
But there is also little doubt that the principled stand Obama took just hours after voters in the battleground state of North Carolina approved an anti-gay constitutional amendment by 20 points, comes at considerable political risk in other battleground states, as Politico helpfully does the math:
Florida: Not only do senior citizens oppose gay marriage by lopsided margins, they also vote in disproportionately high percentages.
Colorado: The new capital of evangelicalism is not in the South. It's Colorado Springs.
Nevada: It's best not to antagonize the Mormon constituency in a swing state like Nevada, where the presidential outcome in 2000 and 2004 was decided by less than 25,000 votes.
Iowa: The 2010 backlash against the state Supreme Court's 2009 same-sex marriage decision was as extreme as it sounds.
Missouri: A state where Obama's strength in St. Louis, Kansas City and some surrounding suburbs is counterbalanced by the parts of the state that sit squarely in the Bible Belt.
Ohio: When Vice President Joe Biden privately argued for the president to refrain from expressing his support, he flagged two states where there could be a backlash - his native Pennsylvania and Ohio.
This is not to say there are not political upsides to the President's decision yesterday, because there are.
"Today's announcement almost ensures that marriage will again be a major issue in the presidential election," thunders Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council, echoing many others on the Religious Right.
And as we have seen, the potential for over-reaction among conservatives is epic. And, at the very least, the delicate repositioning away from the right wing Republican base that Romney is trying to engineer may have to be put on hold for awhile as conservatives demand their marriage-of-convenience candidate put himself at the very front of their mob and go all out against marriage for gays.
"The crusading, hardcore religious right knows how to hate," says professor/blogger P.M. Carpenter. "It knows how to seethe and how to organize and how to take unholy revenge. This is not a bear any careful politician enjoys poking."
One thing Obama's announcement does accomplish, agrees New Republic's Noah Scheiber, is depriving Mitt Romney of the opportunity to duck the issue.
Given the way the President's announcement has energized conservatives, "Romney now faces enormous pressure to amplify his position," says Scheiber. "Conservatives will ask about it constantly. They will insist on highlighting it in the party platform and at this summer's convention. Rote box-checking of the sort he's practiced so far will no longer suffice.
That said, voters do tend to recognize when candidates take a principled stand at some risk to themselves, and Obama's was certainly a profile in courage. Voters not already wedded to the far right's sputtering, incoherent revulsion of gay marriage are likely to take notice. We can only hope they will also reward Obama for his courageous stand next November.
Read The Full Article:
Oops. You weren't supposed to
find out about that.
(Matthew Reichbach)One day after President Obama announced his support for marriage equality, the Washington Post reports on the early days of Mitt Romney's evolution on equal rights:
Mitt Romney returned from a three-week spring break in 1965 to resume his studies as a high school senior at the prestigious Cranbrook School. Back on the handsome campus, studded with Tudor brick buildings and manicured fields, he spotted something he thought did not belong at a school where the boys wore ties and carried briefcases. John Lauber, a soft-spoken new student one year behind Romney, was perpetually teased for his nonconformity and presumed homosexuality. Now he was walking around the all-boys school with bleached-blond hair that draped over one eye, and Romney wasn?t having it.
?He can?t look like that. That?s wrong. Just look at him!? an incensed Romney told Matthew Friedemann, his close friend in the Stevens Hall dorm, according to Friedemann?s recollection. Mitt, the teenaged son of Michigan Gov. George Romney, kept complaining about Lauber?s look, Friedemann recalled.
A few days later, Friedemann entered Stevens Hall off the school?s collegiate quad to find Romney marching out of his own room ahead of a prep school posse shouting about their plan to cut Lauber?s hair. Friedemann followed them to a nearby room where they came upon Lauber, tackled him and pinned him to the ground. As Lauber, his eyes filling with tears, screamed for help, Romney repeatedly clipped his hair with a pair of scissors. [...]
?It was a hack job,? recalled Maxwell, a childhood friend of Romney who was in the dorm room when the incident occurred. ?It was vicious.?
Some 30 years later, Lauber?who died in 2004?told one of the witnesses to the assault that:
It was horrible ... It?s something I have thought about a lot since then.So, all these years later, is Mitt Romney sorry for assaulting a classmate? Or is he trying to dismiss it as a youthful indiscretion? Nope. According to his campaign:
... the former Massachusetts governor has no recollection of the incident.How convenient.
7:44 AM PT: If?
Source: Karen Roche and JT Long of The Gold Report (5/7/12)
Are developed nations across the globe at the precipice of oblivion? Yep, says pundit John Mauldin. Fresh after the announcement of a new joint venture with Casey Research and the conclusion of his own Strategic Investment Conference in Carlsbad, Mauldin spoke . . . → Read More: The End of the Debt Supercycle Draws Near: John Mauldin
Read The Full Article:
Barney Frank: "Look, I note that this happens just a couple months before my own marriage. And it makes me very happy both because he's doing it and because it confirms that we are on the verge of winning this fight within 10 years." [...]
Read The Full Article:
Obama: Biden "got out a little over his skis" on same sex marriage. [...]
Read The Full Article:
I don't know how else to read this. Ryan Grim at the Huffington Post (who is doing yeoman's work in reporting this tussle for the Democratic soul; my yeoman's emphasis): Leading members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus are coming to the defense of House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi of California after former Sen. Russ Feingold challenged her commitment to protecting Social Security and...
In what was an expected outcome, but still one that is a bit shocking, tea party-aligned candidate Richard Mourdock defeated Sen. Richard Lugar in the Indiana Republican primary on Tuesday. Mourdock is the state's treasurer and he hasn't spent much time on the national scene, but it's clear that he's one of the most extreme right-wing candidates running in the 2012 elections. Let's take a closer look...
Despite the fact that Indiana's economy depends heavily on the auto industry and the fact that Indiana greatly benefited from the auto industry bailout, Mourdock argued in an editorial in the South Bend Tribune that the bailout was illegal:
By any traditional legal analysis, fundamental elements of the Obama administration?s Chrysler bankruptcy plan were illegal. It turned 200 years of U.S. bankruptcy law on its head by awarding more value to a select group of unsecured creditors than to secured creditors. Others are apparently willing to tolerate the violation of federal bankruptcy laws simply because they liked the result: It helped their friends. But most Americans, including the Hoosier retirees who had their property stolen away, see such picking and choosing by the federal government as fundamentally un-American.
Mourdock has consistently railed against bipartisanship:
Those who want to call out for bipartisanship are wrong. It is bipartisanship that has taken this country to the very brink of bankruptcy.
He opposes the direct election of senators (while running to be directly elected as a senator):
Repealing the 17th amendment. Do I think it will ever happen? No. Is it something that I would like to see? Yes it is. And I?ll tell you the trackers in the room, my Democrat tracker friends who are here as they always are probably seeing something that you?ll see in a tv commercial not too far from now. You know the issue of the 17th amendment is so troubling to me, our founding fathers, again those geniuses, made the point that the House of Representatives was there to represent the people. The Senate was there to represent the states. In other words the government of the states. I will tell you as someone who spends a lot of time in the statehouse obviously, and a lot of time in local government, one of the most frustrating things state government and local government deals with are called unfunded mandates. It?s where the federal government will say you must do this, and we?re not going to pay for it. You got to figure out a way to go get the money and you must do this. How many unfunded mandates do you think would be coming from the United States Congress, if those same Senators had to come back every two years to help those people get reelected so they would elect them. You know I think most senators if they had to come back every two years and by the way that would solve another problem. It would solve the idea that Senators move out of their state and never return. But it would cause those senators to have much greater contact with their states. You know just think of this. In today?s you see millions and millions of dollars spent on Senate campaigns. Two years ago, in 2010, Sharon Angle out in Nevada spent 31 million dollars, just herself. How much money would be spent in federal senate races if the state legislators were electing those people. You just took the money out of politics. Is that a bad thing? (AB 21 Tracking Footage, 2/4/12)
He thinks that Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security are unconstitutional, and shows that he doesn't understand basic constitutional law or the Ninth Amendment or the Elastic Clause:
I challenge you in Article I, Section 8 of the United States Constitution where those so-called enumerated powers are listed. I challenge you to find words that talk about Medicare or Medicaid or, yes, even Social Security. You know, Article I, Section 8 says the U.S. government shall have the power to tax to pay off its debts, to pay for its defense, and then it says to provide for the general welfare.
If he believes these programs are unconstitutional, doesn't that mean he would get rid of them? Apparently, yes:
In July 2011, CNHI reported that ?[Mourdock is] convinced that raising the debt ceiling will result in its own severe consequences, dragging the nation deeper and deeper into debt. He?s an avid supporter of the so-called ?Cut, Cap, and Balance? bill that would mandate a balanced federal budget.? Mourdock has signed the Cut, Cap, and Balance pledge.
He wasted $2 million of Indiana taxpayers' money pursuing a frivolous lawsuit against Chrysler:
A coal-company geologist who in November won re-election as state treasurer, Mourdock gained attention when he sued to block Chrysler LLC?s bankruptcy reorganization plan in 2009 on behalf of Indiana pension funds that lost money in the automaker?s government-backed bailout. Mourdock appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, which ruled against the funds -- costing Indiana taxpayers $2 million in legal fees.
For pursuing the lawsuit, Mourdock compared himself to Rosa Parks:
State Treasurer Richard Mourdock continues to insist his ill- fated battle against the Chrysler deal with Fiat was wise public policy, but now he's added an astonishing new justification for it. In an address to the Crown Point Rotary Club on Wednesday, the treasurer said Indiana's challenge on behalf of its pension funds was his ?Rosa Parks moment. I knew there would be consequences for taking this on.?
He would eliminate the Department of Education:
Mourdock wants to eliminate the Department of Education if he gets into the Senate, which would cut more than $5 billion from Indiana schools and students.
He brags about being beholden to special interests:
To the charge that there's a special interest group that's been supporting us from outside the state, that's true. And the special interest group is called conservatives.
He said that Obama is to blame for all the negative in the economy and gets no credit for anything positive that happens:
ThinkProgress earlier this year, we asked Mourdock about the economy and who deserves credit in bad times and good. He pinned the blame on President Obama for ?killing our economy,? despite the fact that the financial collapse occurred under George W. Bush?s watch. We asked Mourdock whether Obama would deserve credit if the economic recovery continues. ?It won?t be because of President Obama when we see recovery,? Mourdock explained. ?It will be in spite of President Obama.?
Mourdock?s campaign manager, Jim Holden, ?likely violated a user agreement with the state party when he shared a logon to the database with an outside vendor.? In a March 14 email, Holden told staffers that they should ?start pillaging email addresses? from the voter database, prompting the state Republican Party to revoke the Mourdock campaign?s access privileges.
He said his model Supreme Court justice would be Robert Bork:
Personally, I would be looking for those people who, as Judge Bork used to say, originalists or strict constructionists. . . . I certainly think the standard ought to be, and it?s one that I make no, ah, message about trying to hide. I think people ought to be looking for those who would serve on the courts who are going to strictly interpret the United States Constitution. . . .
I mean, what the Democrats did in obstructing appointments like Judge Bork back in the 1980s, I didn?t like that, but they certainly had the right to do it. Because they felt their elections had consequences. Well, as one member of the United States Senate, I certainly carry, or will carry that same ideology.
His campaign is financed by a who's who of right-wing extremists:
Of the more than 750 donations received by Richard Mourdock?s primary campaign for Indiana Senate to date, one stands out. Earl Pendleton Holt, whose three reported contributions to Mourdock total $1,000, identifies himself as a self-employed ?slumlord.?
The Club for Growth ? led by former Rep. Chris Chocola (R-IN), the Club?s 501(c)(4), traditional PAC, and its Club for Growth Action Super PAC have spent at least $1.6 million on ads backing Mourdock and blasting Lugar. The group calls Lugar a ?R.I.N.O.? (Republican In Name Only) despite his 63 percent lifetime record of voting with the group?s anti-government agenda.
FreedomWorks for America ? former Rep. Dick Armey?s (R-TX) ?astroturf? group has done mailings and run ads saying Lugar has ?lost touch with Indiana values,? spending over $545,000.
Gun rights groups ? The National Rifle Association has spent more than $322,000 on independent expenditures, criticizing Lugar?s votes to confirm President Obama?s Supreme Court appointments. A trio of pro-gun political action committees have donated about $10,000 to Mourdock?s campaign.
The financial sector ? although Lugar voted against the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform bill, political action committees for banks and related interests contributed over $17,500 to Moudorck?s campaign and individuals listed as working in the industry kicked in another $35,000-plus.
Wealthy investors ? About $20,000 of Mourdock?s donations came from wealthy investors and investment management executives.
Big polluters ? Mourock, himself a former coal company executive, got $5,000 from Murray Energy?s PAC (representing the nation?s largest privately-owned coal company) and more than $18,000 in individual contributions from employees and executives at Murray and other coal, oil, and gas companies.
In his campaign against Lugar, he ran a vaguely homophobic attack ad, referring to Lugar and Obama's relationship as a 'bromance':
Mourdock said that Obama didn't deserve credit for the killing of Osama Bin Laden:
I think it's a sad thing. I think there's something in the water of Washington. When people have been there a while they feel they need to claim credit that doesn't really belong to them....But now when he's trying to take credit for it, it that's rather unseemly.
Mourdock also happened to be on the panel when Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson was called out by Kirsten Powers on the Sean Hannity show for his now-infamous anti-women rant. Mourdock said nothing, despite the fact that conservative Fox employee Powers broke ranks to criticize Peterson. Mourdock is seen chuckling over the debate between Powers and Peterson over misogyny, as if .
by Michael D. Lemonick, via Climate Central
It?s just two weeks since a paper in Nature flagged an ominous thinning of ice shelves along parts of the Antarctic coast lying due south of the Pacific Ocean. The ice appears to be melting from below, as changing ocean currents are bringing relatively warm water to bathe the shelves? undersides ? and as the ice shelves lose mass, they also lose their ability to slow land-based ice in its slide toward the sea.
Now there?s something new to worry about. A pair of brand-new studies published today, one in Nature and one in its sister publication Nature Geoscience, are pointing to yet another danger zone, this one on Antarctica?s Weddell Sea coast, nestled in the armpit of the Antarctic Peninsula. The first study asserts that warm ocean currents are likely to eat significantly into the huge Filchner-Ronne Ice Shelf by 2100; the second argues that the lay of the land underneath the shelf makes the ice even more unstable than it would otherwise be. ?We don?t necessarily have any evidence for a dramatic change right now,? said Martin Seagirt of the University of Edinburgh, a co-author on the second paper, in a press conference, ?but it?s on the threshold.?
The reason, say Seagirt and his colleagues, is that airborne radar shows that the ice shelf sits atop a depressed basin of bedrock about 60 miles wide by 160 miles long by up to a mile and half below sea level at its deepest. Right now, the so-called grounding line ? the place where a shelf makes the transition from grinding along the rock to floating freely in the sea ? lies at the outer rim of that basin. As warmer water melts the ice back, it can flow into the basin and cause the ice within to detach from the bedrock relatively quickly. ?Its very nearly afloat already,? Seagirt said. ?It needs some push and we don?t believe the push needs to be very hard.?
It?s exactly that sort of push that emerges from the work of Hartmut Hellmer, of Germany?s Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research and his colleagues. The scientists used a state-of-the-art climate model known as HadCM3, which simulates the responses of both atmosphere and oceans in a warming world, to test what might happen to the frigid waters off Antarctica as temperatures rise. They found that a 7°F warming of the atmosphere ? on the high end of what scientists expect by 2100, but still well within the plausible range ? could warm the Weddell Sea by 3.5°F. Since the floating sea ice in the Weddell has already begun to disintegrate, that water would have easy access to the ice sheet.
If the Filchner-Ronne lifts off the bedrock, land-based glaciers that feed it will be able to move more quickly to the sea, especially, Seagirt said, because the inland part of the basin, where it slopes back upward toward the center of Antarctica, has a very smooth floor, which is easy for ice to slide along. This suggests it used to sit at the bottom of an ocean where sediment would have plastered over outcroppings of rock? a glimpse, perhaps, of things to come.
Since the Filchner-Ronne is mostly fed by ice from the West Antarctic Ice Sheet, it?s natural to think that the much larger East Antarctic Ice Sheet, which holds enough ice to raise sea level by 160 feet or more, is safe (although with 20 feet of sea level rise potential itself the West Antarctic sheet isn?t anything to sneeze at). But the safety is by no means guaranteed: the two sheets, which are separated by the Transantarctic Mountains, aren?t completely isolated from each other. If you lose the Filchner-Ronne, Seagirt said, ?there will be knock-on effects. There will be consequences for East Antarctica.?
None of this means the world is necessarily headed for apocalyptic sea level rise by the end of this century. Current projections still put the most likely increase by 2100 at about 3 feet, which is bad enough. But scientists still barely understand the dynamics of the world?s great ice sheets. They could turn out to be more stable than glaciologists expect.
Or, as these new results seem to imply, they could be much less.
– Michael Lemonick covered science and the environment for TIME magazine for nearly 21 years, where he wrote more than 50 cover stories. This piece was originally published at Climate Central and was reprinted with permission.
Related Climate Progress Posts:
Hours after President Obama announced his support for same-sex marriage, Republicans in the House took two steps back for gays and lesbians and approved two measures limiting their rights. The amendments, passed in the House Armed Services Committee, would “protects religious freedom of military chaplains and the conscience and moral principals of service members who are opposed to homosexuality” and prohibit same-sex marriages or a ?marriage-like ceremony? that involves a same-sex couples “from being held at any military installation or on any property owned, rented or under the control of the Defense Department.” The measures are now part of the House’s $642 billion National Defense Authorization Act.
Rep. Todd Akin (R-MO), a sponsor of so-called “conscience” measure — which may turn into a “licence to bully” gay and lesbian servicemembers — claimed, “The president has repealed ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ and is using the military as props to promote his gay agenda.” Akin is running for Senate in Missouri.
Indeed, his claims are dubious at best. Under current policy, chaplains can opt out from performing same-sex ceremonies and have publicly stated that they continue to conduct “religious ceremonies and rites in keeping with the canons [or beliefs, doctrine, policies] of the religious faith group that endorses that chaplain.”
The inclusion of anti-gay measures in the defense bill also represents a reversal for House Armed Services Committee Chairman Howard ?Buck? McKeon (R-CA), who upon winning back the chairmanship in November of 2010, pledged to pass clean defense bills that were ?not weighed down? by social issues. ?Congress should pass clean legislation ? without the liberal social agenda items Speaker (Nancy) Pelosi and (Senate Majority Leader) Harry Reid have insisted on attaching in the run-up to the election,? McKeon said, referring to amendments to repeal Don?t Ask, Don?t Tell and enact hate crimes protections. He added: ?The National Defense Authorization Act?especially in wartime?should be focused on one core equity: caring and providing for the men and women in uniform and their families.?
– President Obama warned congressional Republicans that he would veto a proposed bill that would partially replace upcoming automatic budget cuts and protect military spending at the expense of food stamps, social services block grants to states and the Medicaid health care system for the poor.
– The House Armed Services Committee backed construction of a missile defense site on the East coast, rejecting Pentagon arguments that the facility is unnecessary and Democratic opposition that the nearly $5 billion project is wasteful.
– Sen. Jim Webb (D-VA) wants to close a “loophole” in the administration’s war powers, which he believes could be used to take military action against Syria without congressional approval. “This is not a political issue,” he said. “We would be facing the exact same constitutional challenges no matter the party of the president.”
– Two huge explosions rocked the Syrian capital of Damascus today, killing 70 people and wounding 372, according to the Syrian Ministry of Interior.
– Russia’s new (and former) president Vladimir Putin will not attend the G8 summit at Camp David next week, postponing until June his much-anticipated first meeting with President Obama.
– U.S. counter-terror and intelligence cooperation with the Saudia Arabia grew over the past two years, giving the U.S. human intelligence and reach into places like Yemen, where a mole run by Saudi spies led authorities to foil an “underwear” bomber plot this week.
– FBI Director Robert Mueller urged a House committee yesterday to reinstate controversial 2008 amendements made to a surveillance bill — which expire this year — allowing warrantless searches.
– Bahraini activists set tires on fire and demanded “the immediate release of women prisoners in the regime’s prisons,” asking that all women held in more than year of protests and subsequent brutal crackdown — particularly Zainab al-Khawaja — be set free.