The cover art for the latest issue of The Economist appears to put our President more in the role of Gary Cooper in High Noon than in that of the lynching victims in The Ox-Bow Incident. It is, however, a bit of an eyebrow-raising choice.
But going with their Wild West metaphor, it's time for him to reach for his six-shooters (or at least get his veto pen ready). First up, dear POTUS, is the executive order on immigration. If war is what they want, as William Tecumseh Sherman once said, let them have as much of it as they can stomach.
The U.S. Senator-elect from Iowa, Joni Ernst, in her victory speech, appeared to channel the rape scene from the movie Deliverance, Raw Story reports. Her speech is above, the movie scene (NSFW) is below. Ernst will be the malign gift that keeps giving.
Rebecca Leber at The New Republic writes:
In handing Republicans control of the Senate on Tuesday, Americans effectively voted for the party's hostile plans against President Barack Obama’s environmental legacy. Their votes also put the Senate's environment and climate policy into the hands of the worst science-denier in national politics: Oklahoma Senator James Inhofe, who is almost certainly the next chair of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee.
Rory Carroll reports for The Guardian on Iowa Republican senatorial candidate Joni Ernst, who is poised to win the Senate seat being vacated by Tom Harkin:
The Tea Party rhetoric of her primary campaign has softened. Ernst no longer calls Obama a “dictator” or calls for his impeachment, or accuses the UN of plotting against Iowa farmers. She says privatising social security should merely be “an option” for young people. She still supports a “personhood” amendment for fetuses but urges “consensus” on reproductive rights, hinting at flexibility.
You can hope Democratic candidate Bruce Braley wins, but if not, buckle up.
On this day when many elections may be swayed by aggressive voter suppression laws, it is worth re-watching this powerful speech by Rep. John Lewis, who put his life on the line five decades ago for civil rights and voting rights.
Jed Lewison writes at Daily Kos:
If you haven't already seen it, late last week the Kentucky GOP sent a mailer on Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell's behalf warning voters that they could be involved with election fraud allegedly perpetrated by McConnell's Democratic opponent, Alison Lundergan Grimes. The fine print revealed the mail piece to be little more than an attack mailer, but the envelope was designed to look like official government correspondence with "ELECTION VIOLATION NOTICE" in large type and a stern instruction that the contents of the mailer were to "BE READ SOLELY BY THE CITIZEN NAMED BELOW." (Their caps.)
Whether the mailer was trying to accuse Grimes alone or both Grimes and her supporters of election fraud, the best thing you could possibly say about it is that it was a deeply dishonest scare tactic intended to discourage voters from voting for Grimes by making them believe that doing so would be involving themselves in an illegal election scheme.
Mitch McConnell, who has a moral faculty reminiscent of Richard Nixon, is favored to become Senate Majority Leader. Some friends who share my low view of him think that is great because it will backfire and help Hillary in 2016. I say, be careful what you wish for.
Awful news today. D.C. Attorney Van Teasley, seen above in testimony from 2008 on the bias-related murder of Tony Randolph Hunter, was found bound, gagged, and strangled in his vacation home in the Dominican Republic.
GLOV Chair Paul Tupper writes:
It is with sadness that I share with you that a member of the GLOV family, Van Teasley, was found slain in his vacation apartment in the Dominican Republic on Friday. Rather than detail the circumstances of his death, which you can find online, I’m going to try to honor him by focusing on this contributions to GLOV and DC’s LGBT community.
In 2008, Van, a longtime Washington defense attorney, helped coordinate a candlelight vigil for Tony Randolph Hunter, a hate crime victim who eventually died from injuries suffered during his attack. Many of you may remember that the case sparked outrage in DC’s LGBT community because of how the case was investigated by the police and how it was handled by the U.S. Attorney’s Office. The assailant was eventually offered a chance to plead guilty to a misdemeanor assault charge, for which he served the maximum sentence of six months in jail. During this time Van also joined GLOV leadership in testifying before the City Council at a Judiciary Public Hearing on Hate Crimes, articulating how such crimes and how they are often mishandled have long-lasting impacts on our community.
In full disclosure, I never met Van. But as I research him and his work with GLOV, it’s clear to me that his contributions continue to be the blueprint for which we advocate for DC’s vulnerable citizens. I understand he was much loved by many and won’t be soon forgotten. He will forever hold an important place in GLOV’s history. Please keep him and his loved ones in your thoughts during this very difficult time.
If you knew Van and would like to share stories about him, I invite you to do so on GLOV’s Facebook page.
We can take inspiration from Van's eloquent cry for justice on behalf of Tony Hunter. Whether justice can be obtained in his case remains to be seen. In the meantime, our hearts go out to his family and friends. That such hatred continues to kill us is a sobering reminder of the work that remains. Let us channel our outrage into conquering the hate, even if the lives we save are people we never know.
From Adam Taylor at WaPo, to clear things up for those who are unclear about just how small a part of Africa is having a problem with Ebola.
The top-polling contender in the District's first election for an attorney general is Karl Racine, who is the first African American to have been named managing partner at a top 100 law firm. I met with him earlier this fall and was impressed. Many friends in the legal profession are supporting him.
While the only AG candidate to send a statement to GLAA is Lorie Masters (GLAA is not rating candidates in the AG race, but invited them to send us statements), Racine is interviewed today by Metro Weekly. Here is an excerpt of his comments:
I have always been deeply concerned with making sure that the same opportunities are available to others regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation, or any other trait.
As Managing Partner at Venable, I was responsible for hiring, promoting, and training our attorneys, and emphasized the importance of ensuring diversity in doing so. I drafted, implemented, and enforced clear policies regarding equal treatment and equal opportunity. I specifically hired a diverse team, including women, minorities, and LGBT individuals, and promoted many of these individuals to positions of prominence within the firm. Furthermore, I strongly believe in the power of proactive diversity training. Intolerance is based on ignorance, but can be addressed through creative programs such as our firm-wide book clubs dedicated to educating employees on issues of diversity.
On a personal level, I am a long-time volunteer with the Whitman-Walker Clinic, the primary community-based provider of HIV/AIDS services in the city. I have taken numerous pro bono cases representing people living with HIV/AIDS and helped them obtain social security benefits. I also took on pro bono work representing the Clinic itself. To further support Whitman-Walker’s work, I encouraged my Venable colleagues and other friends to take on additional projects, earning Venable the Clinic’s “Going the Extra Mile Law Firm Award” in 2004, among other honors.
In addition to my work with Whitman-Walker, I have volunteered with the D.C. Bar’s Pro Bono Legal Advice Program at Bread for the City, which provides vulnerable residents with comprehensive services such as housing, food, legal assistance, and medical care. I am also a member of the Leadership Council on Legal Diversity, an organization dedicated to creating a truly diverse legal profession.
As Attorney General I will treat each and every resident of the District with dignity, respect and with equality before the law.
While GLAA is not rating AG candidates, I personally have concluded that Masters and Racine are the most qualified based on their experience, and I am supporting Racine. The District has seen several public officials taken down by scandal. Choosing as our first elected attorney general a man who has played a pioneering role as an African American among top law firms would be a feather in our cap and a reminder of the talent, accomplishment, and leadership available in our city.
GLAA endorses Initiative 71, the "Legalization of Possession of Minimal Amounts of Marijuana for Personal Use Act of 2014," and urges you to vote for it.
We have included it in our ratings ad, discussed it in our policy brief, Building on Victory, and discussed it in our testimony this week before the D.C. Council Judiciary Committee decrying racial disparities in police stops:
[W]e appreciate the work of our friends at ACLU of the Nation's Capital, which reported in 2013 on the dramatic racial disparity in marijuana arrests in the District:
"Officers from fifteen different police forces … made marijuana arrests in 2010, however MPD officers made 4,996 of the 5,393 total arrests, or almost 93%.... PSA 602, located in Anacostia, had a 2010 marijuana arrest rate of 2,488 per 100,000. By contrast, PSA 204, located in Woodley Park, had a marijuana arrest rate of just 33 per 100,000."
Given the roughly equal rates of self-reported marijuana use by white and black citizens, the disparity in enforcement must be confronted by this committee. In the meantime, the people are changing the law. GLAA endorses Initiative 71, the "Legalization of Possession of Minimal Amounts of Marijuana for Personal Use Act of 2014." This will not end all problems associated with the disastrously counterproductive war on drugs, but it is a start.
Unfortunately, Ward 7 Councilmember Yvette Alexander, who leans conservative on many issues, is not quite with the program, judging by her comments on Twitter:
Legalize Marijuana for increased justice, opportunity, public safety and reducing racial injustice! Give me a break! That's a bit much.— Yvette M Alexander (@CMYMA) October 31, 2014
@dougsfresh All I'm saying is don't make up reasons to do it which are misleading. It won't lower incarceration rates for Black males! Smh— Yvette M Alexander (@CMYMA) October 31, 2014
I replied to her this morning:
@CMYMA Yvette, please. There's a big racial disparity in marijuana arrests. Ward 7 residents much more likely to be nabbed than west siders.— Richard Rosendall (@RickRosendall) October 31, 2014
Do not think for a moment that your vote doesn't matter. Please vote on or before November 4, and make sure to vote for Initiative 71. It will be a vote for fairness and justice.
A Starbucks commercial, no less.
Pat Robertson gibbers about Houston under Annise Parker resembling the biblical Gibeah.
What was it with ancient Israelites sending their virgin daughters out to be raped to placate angry mobs, anyway? Pat admits it's sexist and almost says, "I don't know why anyone would read this crap, but anyway...."
This came to mind for perfectly arbitrary reasons. Jason Robards, Jr. addressing his neighbors in A Thousand Clowns, 1965.
Pharrell Williams, known for a silly hat and an overplayed song, has endorsed Muriel Bowser. But wait, Streisand says vote for Catania. No, wait, it's Brad Pitt supporting Schwartz. No, it's Ann Coulter endorsing Bruce Majors. No, it's the head nurse from St. E's endorsing Faith. No, wait! What's a star fucker to do???
Apple CEO Tim Cook comes out in Businessweek.
I am so inspired by his bravery, I want to announce that I am gay too. There. A burden lifted!
Kidding aside, maybe courage isn't quite the right word. Sacrifice might be closer to the mark. For an intensely private person to discuss his private affairs can indeed be a big deal for that person. Of course, just mentioning you are gay is not giving blow by blow sexual details. Few straight people consider their sexual orientation a secret. That is one of the most pernicious double standards, enforced socially and tacitly. And for such an eminent man of business to break that silence is a great gift.
42 weighs in:
Yeah, sort of, says Towleroad.
I confess I am having trouble caring. But it appears to be a thing.
Amanda Terkel at HuffPost reports:
GOP House candidate Nan Hayworth released a new ad Wednesday featuring her son, who is gay, assuring voters that his mother is not an "extremist."
"As a gay man, coming to terms with who I am wasn't easy, but my parents love me for who I am and for whom I love," says her son, Will, in the ad. "So when I hear vicious negative attacks against Nan Hayworth, I have to speak out. Nan Hayworth is no extremist. She's my mom. She's kind. She's compassionate. She's always been there for me. And she'll always be there for you."
Hayworth is attempting to defeat Rep. Sean Maloney (D-N.Y.) in New York's 18th District. Maloney, who is gay, ousted Hayworth from the seat in 2012.
The Human Rights Campaign, the nation's largest organization advocating for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights, was unimpressed with Hayworth's new ad. In a statement, the group criticized Hayworth for her policy positions, saying that just because she has a gay son doesn't mean she's a champion of LGBT rights.
HRC notes that while in office, Hayworth did not support same-sex marriage, did not support DOMA repeal, and did not support the Uniting American Families Act (to keep binational couples from being separated).
I agree with HRC on this one.
Above are video highlights of game 7 of the World Series, in which Giants pitcher Madison Bumgarner got his third win of the series and won MVP. Slugger Pablo Sandoval made the winning catch to defeat the Royals. There was edge-of-your-seat excitement to the final moment.
Yahoo! Sports reports.
Creighton University in Omaha, Nebraska, has announced that it will soon offer health benefits to employee’s same-sex spouses despite the objections of Catholic archbishop George J. Lucas, reports KETV7 ABC.
Creighton UniversityOutlining the decision in a letter sent Monday to trustees, President Rev. Timothy Lannon, said that although Creighton continues to support the Catholic Church's teaching about marriage, the university is taking this step to meet the needs of its employees and remain competitive with other universities that already offer similar benefits.
Lannon added that 21 of the 28 Jesuit universities in the U.S. already offer similar benefits.
George J. Lucas, Archbishop of Omaha, reacted predictably:
I am dismayed that the recommendation of the University Benefits Committee is thought to supersede divine law regarding marriage. There is no tension between Catholic teaching and social justice; both are grounded in the same truths about the nature of the human person, the complementarity of man and woman and the meaning of human life and love.
Here's to superseding divine law.
(Hat tip: Craig Howell)
This is very disturbing, even though you would have to be living under a rock to be surprised. Kelsey McKinney writes on Vox:
This video wasn't made for women facing harassment. It was made for men who remain blissfully unaware of how women are treated when they walk down the street. But instead of listening, instead of taking the time to realize how women might feel when men yell at them, these commenters — backed by their anonymity and privilege — have threatened to rape Roberts for daring to talk about it.
Let's lay this out in plain terms. Women are forced to feel uncomfortable and scared for walking down the damn street. Then, when one woman takes the time to show just how uncomfortable those interactions are, people threaten to physically assault her. If the video reminded us that women are constantly made to feel unsafe when they leave the house, the response is a reminder that women are constantly made to feel unsafe when they simply turn on their computer.
The problem here isn't just that men are ignorant of how women are treated. The problem is that many know exactly what they're doing to women, and will try to intimidate and silence women who try to fight back.
Harassment is not a compliment. It is easy to dismiss complaints of this kind of treatment if you are not routinely subjected to it. We need to check our privilege.
I was about to copy a tweet from @Hollaback, the producer of the video, but its Twitter account has been suspended. This appears to illustrate the reality of our misogynistic culture: Men who are called on their sexist and harassing behavior often react angrily and try to silence those who call them on it. Claims of fraud etc. are part of their arsenal. We are so far from done in pushing for equality. We need to defend our sisters.
Now this: Catcalling video edited out the white guys.And this parody.
Your Honor, we cannot sleep knowing that down the street those homosatanists are doing the thing that makes Jesus puke!
The latest from Mrs. Betty Bowers, America's Best Christian.
Houston Chronicle reports:
Convinced by clergymen from across the country that she had entered a raging national debate on religious freedom she wanted no part of, Mayor Annise Parker on Wednesday agreed to withdraw controversial subpoenas the city issued to five local pastors in connection with a lawsuit over Houston's equal rights ordinance.
The mayor's announcement came amid an unabated firestorm over the subpoenas, particularly among Christian conservatives and Republican politicians, who blasted Parker for trying to "silence the church."
Parker's decision represented the only viable political option, said University of Virginia law professor Douglas Laycock, a specialist in religious liberty law. Seeking so much material was inflammatory, he said, adding that much of what the city seeks can be obtained through other means.
Did Mayor Parker not anticipate the right-wing backlash? If there is any way she could have handled it worse, I would like to know how.
One of the sessions I attended at Wednesday's Washington Ideas Forum (hosted by Atlantic and the Aspen Institute) was this discussion by attorneys Ted Olson and Evan Wolfson of the state of the battle over marriage equality in federal courts. Jonathan Capehart moderated. Here's an excerpt of David A. Graham's report:
"We are winning, but winning is not won," Wolfson said. "It's not a done deal until it’s done. It's not going to waft in on waves of inevitability."
Wolfson has been leading the fight for gay marriage for more than three decades; Olson, alongside Democratic lawyer David Boies, has recently been one of its most high-profile advocates. The men were chummy, despite a kerfuffle this spring over Jo Becker's Forcing the Spring, a book some LGBT advocates felt aggrandized Boies and Olson at the expense of Wolfson and others.
There was no rivalry—just a mix of hope and frustration. On the one hand, about two-thirds of states now have gay marriage, and about two-thirds of American citizens live in those states. On the other hand, that means one third do not, and as long as same-sex marriage is not legal everywhere in the United States, they argued, the rights of gay people and their families are painfully compromised.
Other highlights of the Washington Ideas Forum were DefSec Chuck Hagel, who announced that service members returning from West Africa will face a quarantine; and Attorney General Eric Holder, who said that no reporter will go to jail as long as he is AG. Holder was interrupted by a protester decrying DOJ's record on civil liberties under Holder. Capehart, who was also the interviewer in this case, smoothly turned to Holder and asked him what about DOJ's poor record on whistleblowers and journalists. Holder defended himself, but was more credible when he talked about his decision not to defend DOMA in court.
Thanks to Atlantic Washington Editor At Large Steve Clemons for inviting me to the forum, which was held at the Harmon Center and continues on Thursday morning. A Thursday highlight will be an appearance by Secretary of State John Kerry.
Today I will testify on behalf of GLAA at an oversight hearing of the D.C. Council Committee on Judiciary and Public Safety on the Metropolitan Police Department's stop and contact policies and procedures. In it I cite findings and recommendations by our allies in the ACLU and NAACP. Here is my conclusion:
In looking at citizen complaints of police practices, we keep coming back to disparities by geography, race, and class. This is unacceptable. As I wrote in 2012, "It is easier to make excuses for stopping and frisking if you are never targeted by police based on your skin color."
Not only police but citizens in all eight wards must face the inequities around us with open eyes. When the law is not enforced in a fair and equitable manner, we undermine respect for the law. The standard carved above the entrance to the Supreme Court, "Equal Justice Under Law," is more a mockery than a reality for all too many. Dr. King issued the challenge the day before he was struck down: "All we say to America is be true to what you said on paper." If his words continue to sting, perhaps it is because love of country is all too often an excuse for self-congratulation instead of a call to self-correction.
I was looking for something else, and came upon this clip from the HBO version of Tony Kushner's Angels in America. Justin Kirk as Prior Walter, hospitalized with AIDS, tells his friend Belize, played by Jeffrey Wright, about the angels who are visiting him. Prior and Belize are former lovers and dear friends.
I saw both parts of Angels on a Saturday in 1994 on Broadway. I vividly remember Wright delivering the line, "My jaw aches at the memory." Wright's performance in that production won him a Tony, and his HBO reprise won him an Emmy. I appreciate having the TV version (though it lacks another Tony winner, Kathleen Chalfant, whose roles were given to Meryl Streep), because in 1994 I was in the balcony. TV gives you a front-row seat. This landmark drama was the first time I saw Wright. He has played a wide range of characters since, from MLK in HBO's Boycott to a CIA agent in the James Bond movies, to a Dominican drug lord in the Shaft remake, to the dangerous Dr. Valentin Narcisse in Boardwalk Empire. He is always compelling. If you know of a more gifted actor currently working, do tell.
Another clip, this one facing off with the dying Roy Cohn, played by the man whose performance in Dog Day Afternoon convinced Wright he must be an actor. Imagine Wright's thrill at this collaboration. If you are unfamiliar with Angels (something which you ought to correct), the ghost standing next to Belize at the end (when he says "I am the shadow on your grave") is that of Ethel Rosenberg.
Brian Tashman reports at Right Wing Watch:
Conservative columnist and former Reagan administration aide Douglas MacKinnon is out with a new book calling for Southern states to secede ... again.
While speaking yesterday with Janet Mefferd about his book, “The Secessionist States of America: The Blueprint for Creating a Traditional Values Country…Now,” MacKinnon called for a movement of states, starting with South Carolina, Georgia and Florida, to establish a new country that will adhere to the Religious Right’s political agenda.
Texas, MacKinnon explained, was not included in his secessionist blueprint because “there have been a number of incursions into Texas and other places from some of the folks in Mexico.”
Let them leave this time, with our blessing. The GOP would never win the presidency or control of Congress again.
Chris Caesar at Boston.com reports:
The deputy chief of staff for Senator Ted Cruz thinks he knows how Ebola got into America.
Nick Muzin quickly deleted the tweet after receiving a flood of critical comments.
This provoked plenty of responses on Twitter. For example:
(Hat tip: Joe Jervis)
Brian Tashman at Right Wing Watch reports:
Rick Santorum thinks that young people would have come around to his anti-gay political stances if only the “statists” in the gay community hadn’t “silenced” him and other Religious Right figures.
The former senator and likely presidential candidate made the claim yesterday in an interview with Family Research Council President Tony Perkins, where they discussed the case in Houston where pastors sued the city for rejecting their petitions to repeal a non-discrimination ordinance. The city in turn subpoenaed several pastors, which Santorum and Perkins considered an affront to pastors’ rights.
“I really believe in this subject matter at hand with the gay community that a Judeo-Christian worldview cannot survive with a worldview that is as rabidly secular as this movement is,” Santorum said.
Pardon me, but if we silenced the church, why is the church still talking?
Last Week Tonight with John Oliver has solved the problem of SCOTUS not allowing television cameras during oral arguments.
Douglas Burns at The Jefferson Herald reports:
U.S. Rep. Steve King, R-Kiron, suggests gays won't make it to heaven.
What's more, in an interview, King intimated that the divorced or cohabitators could be thwarted in the pursuit of eternal salvation as the Christian faith teaches it.
Those assessments from the conservative western Iowa congressman came during his forceful takes on a preliminary document released by a collection of Catholic bishops that calls for broader acceptance of homosexuals and people who are divorced or living together without being married....
"I'll just say that what was a sin 2,000 years ago is a sin today, and people that were condemned to hell 2,000 years ago, I don't expect to meet them should I make it to heaven."
Cause ya ain't gettin' in, Bozo.
(Hat tip: Hunter at Daily Kos)
Here is a link to my column in this week's Blade. As the election season winds down, I look at how voters are caught between scary movie and farce. Here is an excerpt:
The real problem the right has with our judiciary is that it interferes with their efforts to stampede the public. A stampede helps you enact your agenda as rapidly and with as little scrutiny as possible. James Madison worried that minorities could be tyrannized by the majority as much as by a king. The federal judiciary is part of the checks and balances he and others designed to prevent tyranny from below as well as above.
In this election, the Republican Party is winning the sweepstakes for stampeding voters to avoid examination of its record. Panic and outrage are the best ways to provoke a stampede. In the late 17th century, an accusation of witchcraft could eliminate a rival. In the early 20th century, the alleged rape of a white woman could set off destruction of an entire black community with nary a whisper of due process. Today, the favored goblins are Islamist head-choppers and sick Africans.
None of this could withstand critical inquiry; but politicians exploit our herd instinct. A beloved Psalm, after all, portrays us as sheep needing a shepherd. The faithful are called a flock. Using the brains that God gave us to think for ourselves is condemned as vanity. One of the strongest social forces is ostracism of anyone who rocks the boat. We picture ourselves as a nation of rugged frontiersmen, yet react to each new threat like a victim in a horror movie.
It is as implausible that we are helpless against ISIS attacks as it is that we are less able to stop Ebola than Senegal.
I am quoted in this article by Carlos Maza and Joe Strupp at Media Matters. They report:
New York Times columnist Ross Douthat apologized for appearing at a fundraising event for Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), an extreme anti-gay legal group working to criminalize homosexuality....
As Media Matters noted, ADF is one of the most extreme anti-gay legal groups in the country, fighting against even basic legal protections for LGBT people and working internationally to repress LGBT human rights, including supporting Belize's draconian law criminalizing gay sex.
On Wednesday, Douthat explained that he did not know ADF's event was a fundraiser and said he plans to decline the honorarium he received from the event.
I note that my quote (follow the link) was given before word of Douthat's apology. I am glad that he apologized and will not accept the honorarium.
Ah, the endless font of stupidity that is Rep. Louie Gohmert.