Rhode Island Gov. Lincoln Chafee, the one-time moderate Republican who is now an independent, has issued an executive order declaring that Rhode Island will recognize out-of-state same sex marriages. Rhode Island currently permits civil unions but not[...]
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Joyce L. Arnold, Liberally Independent, Queer Talk, equality activist, writer.
A comparison is one way to get some perspective. There?s certainly something of an ?apples to oranges? dynamic going on here. But that there is a different treatment for ?white collar? and ?street? crimes is surely not in question. And when the comparison is between the very expensive collars of the ultra-wealthy banksters, and the mass produced collars of many of the street activists, the comparisons, and contrasts, are very evident.
At Occupy Arrests:
A running total of the number of Occupy protestors arrested around the U.S. since Occupy Wall Street began on Sep. 17, 2011.
There have been at least 7,208 Arrests in 114 different cities (As of May 9, 2012)
Note: Only confirmed arrests are included.
The totals are listed by date, with links provided for each entry.
?The piling on of Occupy arrests can be seen as a barometer of this government?s intolerance for the First Amendment. Aggressive policing tactics, including frequent gratuitous assaults on protesters and bystanders, are making our parks and streets hostile to the Constitution,? says Heidi Boghosian, director of the National Lawyers Guild … .? The National Lawyers Guild monitors Occupy protests and has offered pro-bono legal assistance to thousands of ordinary Americans who have been swept up in arrests. …
Despite use of mass arrests, pepper spray, stun grenades, many Americans report being inspired, not deterred from the experience of being arrested while participating in Occupy actions. (Boghosian) ?Civil disobedience plays a key role throughout U.S. history; the colonists disobeyed the Crown, the abolitionists disobeyed enslavers, the Black Freedom movement resisted segregation. …?
The guesses I?m seeing are that arrests will increase with the NATO Summit in Chicago and the G8 Summit at Camp David, and at the Democratic and Republican National Conventions.
Meanwhile, there are the financial institutions of the ?too big to fail? size, so far above the law that there isn?t even much pretense of justice being served. Point fingers at those scary socialist Occupiers, or by now even more likely, tell yet another election year story, and ignore the cozy relationship between Electeds and Extra Special Elites.
Shelly Bernal, as Nation of Change:
Wall Street and Their Purchased Representatives
How is it that two years after passage of the much acclaimed Dodd-Frank Wall Street reform (four years after economic crash), Too Big To Fail (TBTF) institutions are not only bigger, but also too big to regulate and too big to jail? Don?t be fooled into believing that because a law has been passed by Congress and signed by the president, it has actually been implemented.
Keep in mind that Congress controls the funding for the federal regulators who are charged with carrying out the reform ? Commodity Futures Trading Commission and Securities Exchange Commission. What would possess members of Congress, who bragged about banning banks from gambling with taxpayer money, to force regulators to strategically surrender significant rules by threatening budget cuts?
Answer: their livelihoods. … What better motivation is there than your career and financial future of your family? The financial sector is far and away the largest source of campaign contributions to federal candidates and parties, with insurance companies, securities and investment firms, real estate interests, and commercial banks providing the bulk of that money. In this 2012 election cycle alone, this industry has already donated $122 million to campaigns of members of Congress.
Campaign contributions are just one piece of the ?too big to fail / jail? picture. As Bernal writes, there?s also the ?billions of dollars to lobby Congress? and ?the high-income revolving door.?
Although Congress wields power over the legislative process and thus, the non-implementation of Wall Street reforms, the White House wields power over the law enforcement process. What would possess a President, who proclaimed loudly that those causing the economic crisis would be held accountable, to not hold TBTF accountable? Answer: his livelihood.
Thinking of the 7200+ arrests and the mostly free ride for the less than 1% at the very top, a follow-up question from those asked by Bernal: what would possess an Occupier to engage in activist / advocacy work? Answer: his or her livelihood. Along with issues of fairness, equality, and justice.
(Poster via Occupy Posters)
Representative Buck McKeon, chair of the House Armed Services Committee and self-appointed Warmonger in Chief has been engaging in a very public battle with the Pentagon. Why? Because the Pentagon says it doesn?t need the loads of pet projects McKeon submitted in the National Defense Authorization Act. The 2013 NDAA calls for $8 billion more in spending that the Pentagon requested for things like a missile defense system on Long Island that the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Martin Dempsey called unneeded and duplicative. The HASC prevents the retirement of aging ships and aircraft that the Pentagon says no longer meet strategic requirements. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta claimed that members where trying to restore their favorite programs without regard to Pentagon strategy.
This is in addition to the GOP plan to avoid defense sequestration which passed the House last week attempting to spare the defense budget the $500 billion cut over 10 year as required by the Budget Control Act of 2011, which McKeon voted for but must have had his fingers crossed. McKeon argued that House Republicans ?were careful to identify other non-defense budget sources to accommodate the needed? defense increases. The Congressional Budget Office found that the GOP proposal would actually increase the budget deficit next year by $24 billion.
What are those non-defense sources to be cut? Mostly social programs like meals on wheels for the elderly, school lunches for 280,000 children, food stamps for 2 million people, and child day care. Additionally, Federal workers would have to contribute an extra 5% of their pay to their pension plans.
Dr. Lee Rogers was in Washington last week meeting with Members of Congress and gaining momentum for his campaign to replace McKeon in California?s 25 th District. We asked him what he thought of the 2013 defense budget.
?McKeon?s 2013 NDAA is irresponsible. When we have $15 trillion in debt and running trillion dollar deficits, McKeon ignores any sense of fiscal responsibility. While in the House Office Building, I walked by the room where McKeon was inside chairing a committee session to rob seniors and the poor to overfund defense beyond what the Pentagon requested. Additionally, McKeon was breaking his promise to keep the defense appropriations bills clean and free of social issue legislation when he amended it to limit the religious freedom of military chaplains. A provision on the NDAA prohibits same-sex marriages by military chaplains whose religious orders allow them to perform such ceremonies.?
As I mentioned yesterday, I attended the ?All American Barbeque? [sic] for McKeon and Allen West in Santa Clarita on May 12. The Signal, the district?s largest newspaper reported that there were about 3 dozen protesters there across the ideological spectrum. A Libertarian group protested the indefinite detention clause in the 2012 NDAA. The 2013 NDAA further cements the ability of the government to detain American citizens without due process.
The group points to an explanation in The New American:
?Section 1033 of the mark-up version passed by the committee is offered as the codification of that protection. Here is the current text of that updated provision:
This section would state that nothing in the Authorization for Use of Military Force (Public Law 107-40) or the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2012 (Public Law 112-81) shall be construed to deny the availability of the writ of habeas corpus in a court ordained or established by or under Article III of the Constitution for any person who is detained in the United States pursuant to the Authorization for Use of Military Force (Public Law 107-40).
The double-speak contained in that paragraph is impressive even for a Capitol Hill lawyer.
Read it very closely: The new bill does nothing to prevent the indefinite detention of Americans under the 2013 NDAA; furthermore, it only reiterates that habeas corpus is a right in courts established under Article III of the Constitution. That such a right exists in the courts of the United States has never been the issue. The concern of millions of Americans from every band in the political spectrum is that Americans detained as ?belligerents? under the terms of the NDAA will not be tried in Article III courts, but will be subject to military tribunals such as the one currently considering the case of the so-called ?Gitmo Five.? There is not a single syllable of the 2013 NDAA that passed out of the House Armed Service Committee on Thursday that will guarantee Americans will be tried in a constitutional court and not a military commission.?
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What a delicious bit of video from Heather at Video Café. Tamron Hall lost her temper at the right wingers who tried really hard to distract everyone from Mitt Romney's bullying ways and more importantly, his disingenous denials and half-apologies.
Carney, a right-wing writer for The Examiner, did what wingers always do when they're on the "liberal network." He tried to filibuster and dodge her specific question, which was not about what Mitt Romney did 50 years ago, but how he handled it when confronted with five witnesses?four of whom were willing to speak on the record?about the incident. Via The Atlantic, who reported it as a story where Hall was in the wrong:
Here's what happens when they don't. Tim Carney, a columnist with the conservative Washington Examiner, was on MSNBC's NewsNation with Tamron Hall this afternoon to talk about Romney. Carney came out of the gate fast: "What you're doing here is a typical media trick. You hype up a story and then you justify the second-day coverage of the story by saying, oh, well people are talking about it." Hall almost immediately lost her cool, chastising Carney, telling him he didn't need to come on the show, shouting over him, and eventually cutting his mic. Sample line: "You don't [want-sic] me to go anything on you, because you're actually irritating me."
The Atlantic's David Graham says Hall was wrong and Carney was right; that viewers don't care about how Romney handled the story or whether it will do any long-term damage to Romney's campaign. I disagree. I think it's a story that's entirely relevant to voters and one that should be given as much attention as possible. Not because it's negative, but because Mitt Romney's reaction was dismissive. He seemed shocked that it was even something that was being talked about.
Sorry David Graham, but Digby's right on the money about this and you're not:
I wasn't joking when I said this would actually help Romney with the base. This bullying is one of the defining characteristics of modern American conservatism. The idea that the good people all work hard and it's only the lazy that ever need help is fundamental to their worldview. Even the Tea Partiers who are on government assistance insist that unlike all the others, they have worked hard and so deserve it.
I've been writing about this for a long time, often in the context of the torture debate. But it also plays a large part in our political system. It's actually a very well developed form of social control called Ritual Defamation (or Ritual Humiliation:
Which is why it was good to see Tamron let Mr. Carney have it with both barrels. He was condescending to her and evading her actual questions. When it became clear that he simply intended to filibuster and not respect what she was asking or why it was being asked, she cut him off. Good for her.
One last note to David Graham at The Atlantic:
Moreover, he's exactly right about how TV news inflates stories. It's a bipartisan tactic: Jon Stewart showed some time ago how Fox News built up narratives by a two-step process: First, the likes of Bill O'Reilly and Sean Hannity talk up non-controversies; the next day, news anchors like Megyn Kelly would bring up the stories with the same "some people say" formulation.
Citing Jon Stewart exposing Fox News does not?I repeat, does NOT?make it a bipartisan tactic. Really, let's leave the false equivalence to the pundits and think-tankers, shall we?
If only Harry Reid could end Senate filibusters so cleanly, eh?
Moreover, seeming to concede President Obama’s dominance of national security issues this campaign season, a Romney adviser told the Times that Romney isn’t interested in talking about foreign policy. “Romney doesn?t want to really engage these issues until he is in office,” the adviser said.
And there’s good reason. Romney’s inexperience on foreign policy and national security issues has dogged his campaign with confusion, ignorance and private and public disagreements among Romney’s campaign advisers and surrogates:
Romney has been “all over the map” on Afghanistan. As the Washington Post reported late last year, Romney “has not explained what he thinks the U.S. mission in Afghanistan is at this point and what would constitute success.” And keeping with his adviser’s above statement, Romney said in a major foreign policy speech that he?d wait until becomes president to ?order a full review of our transition to the Afghan military.?
Romney also says that the U.S. should not be negotiating with the Taliban, a position that puts him at odds with his top national security campaign surrogate Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), his own advisers and even former top Bush administration officials. “Romney?s supporters and foreign policy advisers argue that after a decade at war, the only option is a political settlement,” the Times noted.
Romney said that if Obama is re-elected, Iran will get a nuclear weapon. “If you elect me as president, Iran will not have a nuclear weapon,” he said. That line “caused some of his advisers to cringe” the Times reported this weekend. But overall, again, Romney has no real policy on Iran that differs much from the current administration’s approach. Romney has proposed much of what Obama is already doing. The Times noted that “when pressed on how, exactly, his strategy would differ from Mr. Obama?s, Mr. Romney had a hard time responding.”
But Romney does occasionally ramp up bellicose rhetoric on Iran which prompted a former Israeli Mossad director to say the former Massachusetts governor “is making the situation worse” with Iran. Romney has ignored what the IAEA, U.S. and Israeli intelligence think about Iran’s nuclear program and his campaign advisers even attacked the Obama administration for public discussion of the consequences of attacking Iran.
Russia “is without question, our number one geopolitical foe,” Romney said in March. The Washington Post called the remark “a bit puzzling,” given Russia’s post-Cold War global standing and less adversarial relationship with the United States. Even McCain seemed a bit wary of endorsing that point of view.
And the co-chairman of the Romney campaign’s working group Russia, Leon Aron, disagrees with Romney’s contention that, as the Times put it, “natural resources could vault Russia to a position of global influence rivaling any nation by midcentury.” Aron wrote last month that ?Russia?s most serious risk stems from a near-fatal dependence on the price of oil.”
Romney’s regularly hypes the Chinese military threat and ignores the need for engaging China diplomatically and economically. In fact, former GOP presidential candidate and U.S. ambassador to China Jon Huntsman, who declared himself a Romney supporter, said that Romney’s China policy is “wrongheaded.” Even one of Romney’s top foreign policy advisers praised President Obama on China. “I think he has a good policy in Asia, particularly in dealing with China,” said Robert Kagan.
While Romney often throws out the baseless attack line that Obama has thrown Israel “under the bus,” the presumptive GOP nominee has offered no real plan to achieve peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians. In fact, Romney has said that the U.S. “should not play the role of leader” in the Middle East peace process. “My inclination is to follow the guidance of our ally Israel,” he said last October.
Romney criticized Newt Gingrich for saying Palestinians aren’t people, but again, he said he’d ask the Israelis what his position would be. ?Before I made a statement of that nature, I?d get on the phone to my friend Bibi Netanyahu and say: ?Would it help if I say this? What would you like me to do??” Former U.S. ambassador to Israel during the Clinton administration Martin Indyk said that statement implied that he would ?subcontract Middle East policy to Israel.?
The Romney campaign has attacked President Obama for not doing enough for the nation’s veterans, yet Romney has no plan to address various issues affecting the U.S. military ? for example, veterans? health care and unemployment or servicemembers? education.
In 2007 and 2008, Romney based his national security policy during his failed presidential bid on the need to fight “radical jihad” and the threat from those wanting to unite the world “under a single Islamic caliphate.” During that campaign, Romney also said he does “not concur” with then Sen. Obama’s plan to go after “high-value intelligence targets” in Pakistan with or without permission. And referring to Osama bin Laden, Romney said, ?It?s not worth moving heaven and earth spending billions of dollars just trying to catch one person.?
But now, Romney barely mentions terrorism, jihadists or an Islamic caliphate and claims that “of course” he would have done what Obama did and ordered the raid that killed the al Qaeda leader last year. “Any thinking American” would have ordered the raid, Romney said. Apparently “any thinking American” does not include Vice President Biden and Robert Gates, who was Defense Secretary at the time of the raid.
The Times also reported this weekend that Romney’s foreign policy advisers — many of whom helped push for the Iraq war and are now doing the same with Iran — are themselves divided. ?There are two very different worldviews in this campaign,? on adviser said. Some of the more mainstream views within the campaign have resulted from “the scar tissue they developed in Iraq, Afghanistan and other Bush-era experiments in the exercise of American power.” But there also remains the more hawkish “Bolton faction,” referring to former Bush administration ambassador to the U.N. John Bolton.
So it’s clear why Romney doesn’t want to engage on foreign policy and national security issues in this year’s presidential campaign: his advisers don’t agree with him or each other. And Romney either doesn’t have any national security policies, they aren’t different from President Obama’s, or as recent polling has suggested, they aren’t very popular.
Rhode Island passed a civil unions law last year that has been deemed a “a complete failure.” Religious organizations were free to ignore the unions and same-sex marriage is available in all the surrounding states, so it’s unsurprising that only 52 couples obtained a license. Now, Gov. Lincoln Chafee (I) has signed an executive order requiring all state agencies to recognize marriages performed elsewhere, treating same-sex married couples as equal to all other married couples. In 2007, then attorney general Patrick Lynch offered a legal opinion that out-of-state marriages should be recognized, but it did not have the same legal force as Chafee’s new order.
Earlier today, the National Review’s mailing list distributed an email (which can also be found here) signed by Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), which called for Congress to pass a law effectively rendering a binding Supreme Court decision a nullity:
Working from what the Supreme Court ruled in Roe v. Wade, pro-life lawmakers can pass a Life at Conception Act and end abortion using the Constitution instead of amending it. . . . Signing the Life at Conception Act petition will help break through the opposition clinging to abortion-on-demand and get a vote on this life-saving bill to overturn Roe v. Wade.
A Life at Conception Act declares unborn children “persons” as defined by the 14th Amendment to the Constitution, entitled to legal protection.
It’s not entirely clear why Paul believes Congress has this power, and the email he signed does not provide a fully developed legal argument making the case for such an law. Instead, it appears to argue that Congress can simply grant full legal “personhood” status to fetuses under the 14th Amendment because Roe left open “the difficult question of when life begins.” This is not a correct reading of the Roe decision, however. The Roe opinion is unambiguous that “the word ‘person,’ as used in the 14th Amendment, does not include the unborn.”
Whether one agrees with this opinion or not, Congress does not have the power to flout the Supreme Court’s constitutional decisions simply because it does not like them. As ThinkProgress explained when a similar proposal was floated last year by Princeton Professor Robert George, “[i]n City of Boerne v. Flores, the Court held that Congress is not allowed to simply declare that the 14th Amendment means whatever they want it to mean and then use that declaration to pass enforcement legislation ? Congress can only pass laws enforcing existing 14th Amendment rights.”
Just as importantly, there is something very bizarre about a conservative stalwart like Rand Paul insisting that obeying the Supreme Court is optional at exactly the same time conservatives are trying to impose much of their policy agenda upon the nation by judicial decree. Presumably, Paul would be outraged if President Obama simply refused to obey a Supreme Court decision striking down part of the Affordable Care Act or if elections officials were to ban corporations from trying to buy elections despite the justices’ decision in Citizens United. Yet, if Roe v. Wade is as optional as Paul appears to think that it is, than there is no reason why Obama should feel obliged to obey conservatives’ pet decisions either.
Whale trade, proponents of stiffer regulation on Wall Street than what was ushered in with Dodd-Frank have offered a variety of solutions, including reenacting Glass Steagal or making banks smaller. All of them could be beneficial in tandem to reduce[...]
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Harp seals are suffering from the impacts of global warming and you can help preserve their Arctic habitat by supporting limits on industrial carbon pollution.
But a new video asks an important question - are harp seals more interested in cuddling with cute girls than fighting for survival? The Green Miles reports, you decide.
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More than 230,000 people stopped being eligible for unemployment insurance benefits over the weekend?not because they got jobs, but because the emergency extended benefits program providing their benefits was cut as part of the payroll tax deal earlier this year. The number of weeks of benefits available in states drop as unemployment drops, which hit California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Illinois, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Texas on Saturday.
While "as unemployment drops" may make this sound like good news, consider that California, where 100,000 jobless people will no longer be getting unemployment insurance, has an unemployment rate of 11 percent. Nationally, more than 5 million people have been unemployed for six months or longer, and there are 3.4 job-seekers for every job opening.
That makes things especially hard for people like Jennifer Moss, a divorced mother of three who has been unemployed since October 2010:
Since losing her job, Moss said she?s applied for countless jobs and had maybe 10 job interviews, but nothing has worked out.Living in South Carolina, her last unemployment payment was May 1. A federal mortgage benefit she receives will expire this summer. South Carolina's unemployment rate is 8.9 percent.
?There are many sleepless nights where at 2 or 3 in the morning I might be on a website ... applying for jobs,? said Moss, who is 40.
Now multiply her story by 409,000, the number of people to lose unemployment benefits since Congress struck its deal, and think too about all the businesses at which those 409,000 people are no longer spending their money.