Colorado House Minority Leader Mark Ferrandino, a Democrat, vents frustration at (Republican) Speaker Frank McNulty's strong-arming of the doom of a civil-unions bill last night.
I don't think anyone is terribly surprised by the virtuosic performance turned in last night by Colorado Republican House Speaker Frank McNulty.
I don't know if everyone has been following the legislative circus that has unfolded in the Colorado state legislature, but last night -- in a special session called by Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper -- Speaker McNulty demonstrated that when he wants a bill killed, it doesn't matter that the State Senate has passed it or that in the regular session all 72 committees in the Republican-contolled House, which has a one-vote Republican majority, that had a crack at it also passed it, or that state voters favor it. If the speaker wants it killed badly enough, it's D-E-A-D dead, no matter what he has to do to kill it.
To briefly bring you up to speed in case you haven't been following it: Last Tuesday night, the end of the House's regular session, Speaker McNulty found himself in a situation he didn't expect. A bill allowing same-sex civil unions in the state, which had been passed by the Senate, had somehow gotten through all the House committees lined up, with what he no doubt regarded as traitorous Republican votes on each committee. It was important to the speaker that the bill die in committee, because it was pretty clear that there were enough votes in the House to pass the bill if it ever came to a floor vote.
Which the speaker made sure never happened, even though the stalling tactics he employed that night also shut down final consideration of some 30 other bills, including a number of considerable importance to Coloradans. There were a lot of supporters of the civil-unions bill who weren't enthusiastic about the idea of the governor calling a special legislative session, since the regular session's committee approvals died with the regular session, and they knew that Speaker McNulty would have full control over which committee to send it this time. What's more, as several colleagues have pointed out, s special session gave the speaker a chance to wiggle off the hook for all those bills he had singlehandedly blown up in his zeal to obstruct the civil-unions bill, but gave him a chance to present himself as a legislative whirlwind instead of the homophobic obstructionist he actually is.
The L.A. TImes's Molly Hennessy-Fiske reported:
supporters knew the legislation was doomed as soon as Republican House Speaker Frank McNulty, who opposed civil unions and the special session, assigned the bill to the conservative State, Veterans and Military Affairs Committee early Monday. Republicans hold a one-vote majority in the House, 33-32.
Supporters spent an hour testifying before the panel late Monday in a room packed with opponents wearing white T-shirts that read, "Loving all, protecting marriage." Same-sex couples talked about why the legislation mattered to them, how it would grant them rights similar to married couples, including letting them make medical decisions for each other and their children.
Then opponents, including a lawyer for the conservative Scottsdale, Ariz., based Alliance Defense Fund and a representative of the Archdiocese of Denver, talked about how the legislation would reverse the will of the people expressed in a 2006 state constitutional amendment that defined marriage as between a man and a woman. They said they see a slippery slope between legalizing civil unions and gay marriage.
In the end, the Republican-dominated committee sided with the legislation's opponents.
Even Republican Rep. Don Coram, who has a gay son, told the Denver Post that he couldn't vote for the bill, citing the 2006 marriage amendment.
Brad Clark, executive director of Denver-based One Colorado, a statewide gay and lesbian advocacy group, told The Times: ?We?re incredibly disappointed that the House leadership killed this bill. We believe the Democratic process was abused.
?The governor did his part. There was more than enough votes to pass this bill,? Clark said. ?The speaker of the House sent this to a 'kill committee' because he wanted to circumvent the process.?
House Minority Leader Mark Ferrandino, who sponsored the civil unions legislation as the state's first openly gay legislator, tweeted his frustration late Monday.
"A sad day #civilunions killed on a party line vote in @RepMcNulty kill committee," he wrote. "The process was thwarted Tuesday and again today."
The GOP-controlled House defeated the nomination of Tracy Thorne-Begland, Richmond's chief deputy commonwealth's attorney, the Richmond Times-Dispatch reports. He would have been the first openly gay judge elected in Virginia.
Marshall said he believes that Tracy Thorne-Begland, a Richmond-based prosecutor who lives with his partner and two adopted children, should be removed from the list of potential appointees. Thorne-Begland's sexual orientation would conflict with his ability to hold up the state's constitution, Marshall said.#
"Marriage is between one man and one woman, and the the applicant has represented himself in public in a relationship that we don't recognize in Virginia," Marshall said in an interview with WRIC, the ABC affiliate in Richmond.
The GOP lawmaker said that Thorne-Begland is "an aggressive activist for the pro-homosexual agenda."
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Former Bush spokeswoman Dana Perino on Monday said that President Barack Obama only ended the "charade" that he did not support same sex marriage because his campaign wanted to use "crass politics" to divert attention from the economy.
Over the weekend, conservative New York Times columnist Ross Douthat charged that "the Obama White House has consistently sought to change the subject from the unemployment rate to contraception, or immigration, or now even gay marriage."
"Obama is currently running for re-election as an opponent of sexism, homophobia and social reaction in all its forms," Douthat wrote, arguing that Obama should instead be focusing on "how Mitt Romney wants to take away your retirement security to pay for tax cuts for the rich."
Perino on Monday called Douthat a "fantastic columnist" with "keen insight."
"All of these things the campaign has come up with on the Democrat side have lasted sometimes 48 hours, sometimes a full two weeks-- you think of the contraception controversy -- but then there's another one, one on top of the other," she explained. "But still, the most important thing to every voter is the economy. So they might on the Democrat side -- they might win the little skirmishes, but what you want is to win the war."
Fox News co-host Brian Kilmeade wondered if Romney's gains in a recent survey by conservative polling organization Rasmussen could be attributed to Obama's support for same sex marriage.
"The people who support same sex marriage were probably going to vote for President Obama anyway because they knew that there was a charade," Perino replied. "There's very few people who are undecided at this point." (A recent AP-GfK poll found that about a quarter of voters were undecided or could be persuaded to change their minds.)
"The crass politics of the left ? and, in particular, you see it right through that gay marriage announcement last week," she continued. "Even though it meant a lot to a lot of people, but then 90 minutes later the fundraising appeal. Within 24 hours, suggesting Mitt Romney is backwards on equality, when President Obama had the same position 24 hours before."
"This is exceedingly political, and people see it, they notice it and I think they?re thinking, 'Do we want four more years of that, or do we need to change direction on the economy.'"
RightWingWatch has uncovered a clip of Mitt Romney speaking at an event known as “Liberty Sunday” in 2006 alongside anti-gay hate group leaders like Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council, Don Wildmon of the American Family Association, and James Dobson, formerly of Focus on the Family. In his speech, Romney attacked the Massachusetts Supreme Court for its marriage equality decision, warning that there would be severe consequences for children:
ROMNEY: Here in Massachusetts, activist judges struck a blow to the foundation of civilization: the family. They ruled that our Constitution requires people of the same gender to marry. I believe their error occurred because they focused on adult rights. They said that if heterosexual adults can marry, then homosexual couples have to also be able to marry to have equal rights. But what they ignored is that marriage is not primarily about adults; marriage is about the nurturing and development of children.
A child’s development is enhanced by the nurturing of both genders. Every child deserves a mother and a father. Of course, the principle burden of this court’s ruling doesn’t fall on adults; it falls on children. We’re asked to change the state birth certificate to prevent heterocentricity ? “mother” and “father” will become “Parent A” and “Parent B.” An elementary school teacher reads to her second-graders from a book titled “The King and the King” [sic] about a prince who marries a prince. And a second-grader’s father is denied the right to have his daughter taken out of that classroom while the book is being read.[...]
The price of same-sex marriage is paid by the children. Our fight for marriage then should focus on the needs of children, not the rights of adults.
Romney then endorsed a federal constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage. Watch it:
The clip is telling for how blithely Romney condemned same-sex couples and propagated conservatives’ fear-mongering talking points about children before embarking on the presidential campaign trail. Of course, he’s wrong that children are somehow better off with “a mother and a father”? studies have consistently shown that the kids of same-sex couples are just as well-adjusted. Ironically, all of the points Romney made refer to adult privileges, not child protections: the expectations that archaic gender roles be celebrated, that the Catholic Church have free reign to discriminate, and that parents have the right to deprive their children of inclusive educations.
The “nurturing and development of children” is exactly why marriage equality is important to same-sex couples. Their families deserve the same protections and security as all other families. They are a part of schools and communities across this nation and cannot be erased or hidden from view simply because Romney doesn’t want kids to know they exist.
On the same night the Colorado House of Representatives killed a civil unions bill, CO Rep. Spencer Swalm (R) tweeted a link to an article called “Lost Majority.” The article asks the question “can enough American whites, accustomed to easy numerical dominance by centuries of history, learn to stop squabbling with each other for status in order to come together politically to assert their interests like any other voting bloc?” The link goes to the site VDARE.com which the Southern Poverty Law Center had identified as “white nationalist.” VDARE.com denies charges that it is a “white nationalist” site, but acknowledges that it will happily publish articles by those are.
Trende?s Trends: Sailer on The Lost Majority j.mp/KI1lnn
— Spencer Swalm (@RepSwalm) May 15, 2012
In an attempt to keep the political war against renewable energy in the headlines, Republicans are holding another hearing to question the value of government investments in the sector.
Looks like ten political sideshows on Solyndra weren’t enough.
If tomorrow morning’s hearing were being used as a chance to objectively assess where the industry stands, that would be one thing. But the title of the meeting gives away the real political intent: “The Obama Administration’s Green Energy Gamble: What Have All The Taxpayer Subsidies Achieved?
Actually, those green energy investments have yielded substantial returns. And before the political grandstanding begins in the House of Representatives tomorrow, here are five important things you should know about how promotion of clean energy has supported American businesses and consumers:
1. The 1603 grant program supported up to 75,000 jobs and 23,000 renewable energy projects during the height of the recession. When the recession hit, it was very difficult for project developers to find banks that were willing to utilize tax credits. So a cash grant program was created to give companies an easier way to finance projects. While it’s very difficult to know the exact influence of the grant on each project, the program played a major role in maintaining momentum — helping support $25 billion in gross economic activity, according to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory.
2. The production tax credit helps leverage up to $20 billion in private investment annually. With this key tax credit in place, the wind industry has dropped costs by 90% over the last few decades. It’s helped states like Iowa reach 20% wind penetration — bringing that state over 215 businesses that support 5,000 workers. Across the rest of the U.S., the entire industry supports 75,000 jobs, with 30,000 in manufacturing. However, up to 37,000 of those jobs could be at risk due Congressional lawmakers’ inability to extend the tax credit.
3. The loan guarantee program is expected to cost $2 billion less than budgeted. This program has gotten a black eye due to the bankruptcies of a few companies — most famously Solyndra — that received guarantees. But according to John McCain’s National Finance Chairman, Herb Allison, the cost to taxpayers will likely be far less than initially thought. In fact, over the last 20 years of experience, the U.S. government has shown a knack for managing risk — with loans and loan guarantee programs only costing tax payers 94 cents for every $100 dollars invested.
4. Home weatherization grew 1000% from April to June of 2011, creating 14,800 jobs. After a slow ramp-up, efficiency programs supported by the stimulus package have helped weatherize hundreds of thousands of homes. In addition to supporting the retrofits of individual homes, the Obama administration has supported the Better Buildings Initiative, a program that has leveraged billions of private dollars to upgrade more than 4 billion square feet of public and private buildings in the next two years. That’s enough demand to support over 100,000 jobs.
5. ARPA-E has supported dozens of potentially groundbreaking technologies in advanced materials, renewable fuels, electricity generation, waste heat, and battery storage. Helping enhance America’s lead in technological innovation, the Advanced Research Research Projects Agency for Energy — initially funded through the stimulus package — has helped inventors, companies, and university labs boost their work. This program has immense bi-partisan support for promoting the “innovative research that makes America great and has fueled our economic growth for generations.”
Despite these successes, Republicans continue milking the Solyndra bankruptcy for an election-year story that doesn’t hold up — dragging the rest of the clean energy industry into the mud.
The sector has gone through some high-profile shake-ups and bankruptcies, so it’s the duty of lawmakers to understand how tax payer dollars are being deployed. That’s a supportable endeavor. But holding yet another hearing to lambast the President for a so-called “gamble” in clean energy isn’t productive for anyone.
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As the debate over same-sex marriage has proceeded, one of the arguments you hear most often from those opposed to marriage equality is that there is this thing called "traditional marriage" that has been exactly the same for thousands of years, and if we "change the definition of marriage" to include gay people, well then things are really going to get crazy. There'll be no more rationale for keeping siblings from marrying, or keeping a guy from marrying his dog, or keeping a fish from marrying a toaster. What I don't often hear liberals say in response is: Yes, we are changing the definition of marriage. And that's OK.
I think it's because advocates of marriage equality understand that change can often be scary, so the impulse is to say, don't worry, this really isn't any big deal unless you're gay. There's no reason why your extremely, adamantly heterosexual marriage will be affected one way or another if your gay neighbors tie the knot. That happens to be true, and one of the things that distinguishes this particular redefinition of marriage is that it doesn't have any practical impact, real or potential, on most of the participants in the institution. That makes it unlike many of the previous redefinitions. For instance, when we changed the definition of marriage so that it no longer meant that a woman went from being her father's property to being her husband's property, every marriage was implicated. And that's just one of the many redefinitions marriage has undergone even in relatively recent history. So it's good to remember just how radically marriage has already changed.
As historian Stephanie Coontz explains in a helpful piece at the Daily Beast, same-sex marriage may be the inevitable result of all these redefinitions, since they all have been moving in the same direction, what she calls the "equality revolution." When you give individuals, particularly those who were previously without power, more autonomy within marriage, the institution just keeps opening up:
The collapse of rigid gender expectations and norms has fostered the expectation that marriage should be an individually negotiated relationship between equals, replacing the older notion of marriage as a prefabricated institution where traditional roles and rules must be obeyed.
The result is a paradox. Marriage is now more optional than in the past, and people are far less willing to remain in a marriage that doesn?t feel fair, loving, and mutually respectful. On the other hand, as a result of these changes, many marriages have become more fulfilling and mutually beneficial than ever before.
Domestic violence rates have plummeted over the past 30 years, dropping by 50 percent since 1980. The divorce rate, which rose sharply in the 1960s and 1970s, has been falling since its peak in 1981, and it has fallen the most for educated couples, who are the most likely to mix and match traditional gender behaviors.
The growing acceptance of same-sex marriage is the result of these profound changes in heterosexual marriage. It?s not just the president?s views on marriage that have evolved. Marriage itself has evolved in ways that make it harder to justify excluding same-sex couples from its benefits and obligations.
So even if conservatives are wrong that the institution of marriage has been the same for thousands of years, they're right in their belief that the institution as they understand it is under threat. The fact is that today, marriage is less bound by strict rules and traditions?in other words, less institutional?than ever before. I'd bet this is the case even for many of the conservatives who argue publicly that the institution's traditions need to be maintained (this is hardly a new irony; I was always puzzled by the picture of an ambitious, powerful career woman like Phyllis Schlafly barnstorming the country to convince people that women should stay in the home). Even if some of the male ones have a wife who doesn't work outside the home, I promise you their marriages are much more relationships between equals than they would have been 50 years ago, not to mention what they would have been 100 years ago.
Conservatives may hold off marriage equality for a while, at least in many places. But marriages are already more equal, and there's nothing they can do about that, even if they wanted to. Which I doubt they do.
A new study published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal found that medical marijuana helps relieve some of the symptoms of multiple sclerosis. The study found that marijuana helped reduce muscle pain and spasticity. The findings add to the[...]
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Tom Barrett (D): 45 (45)As you can see, the results from our newest gubernatorial recall poll are identical to those we saw a month ago. Since that time, Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett won the Democratic primary but does not appear to be seeing a bounce from that victory. A few things to note:
Scott Walker (R-inc): 50 (50)
Hari Trivedi (I): 2 (2)
Undecided: 3 (3)
Here's one bright note: The race for lieutenant governor has tightened since April:
Mahlon Mitchell (D): 43 (40)Mahlon Mitchell, president of the Professional Fire Fighters of Wisconsin, has seen his favorables jump from 12-25 to 28-27, while Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch's job approvals have remained largely unchanged. That probably accounts for Mitchell creeping up on Kleefisch.
Rebecca Kleefisch (R): 46 (46)
Undecided: 14 (11)
While it's disappointing to see that the gubernatorial top-line numbers haven't changed, the race is far from over. Democrats now have a three-week sprint to re-ignite the base, and a lot can change between then and now.
Mitt Romney in January 2009 praising President Obama's stimulusMitt Romney, today:
President Obama started out with a near trillion-dollar stimulus package ? the biggest, most careless one-time expenditure by the federal government in history. And remember this: the stimulus wasn?t just wasted ? it was borrowed and wasted.Mitt Romney, January 2009:
In my view, the president's willingness, his rhetoric to say, look, he's going to reach across the aisle, he wants to seek the input from members of our party, that's a very encouraging sign. The president's plan for economic recovery, including a stimulus bill which includes a very health dose of tax reductions, is something which I think showed a willingness to actually listen to some of his own economic advisers that have pointed out in their research that tax reductions have a bigger economic stimulus impact than spending money on infrastructure does. That's encouraging.And sure enough, the stimulus bill ultimately had more in tax cuts than it did in infrastructure spending?exactly what Mitt Romney said he wanted. Plus, the overall price tag fell from $825 billion when Romney embraced the plan to $787 billion when it actually got passed. But now, for political reasons, Romney is pretending he was against a stimulus all along. He's lying.