Newt Slams Obama on Faith, Ignores Real Americans Dying

Newt slammed Barack Obama for appointing a gay former Methodist Minister to his Office of Faith-Based Partnerships. He pandersd to the extremist gay-hating wing of the GOP. We’re not surprised. This ignores Americans in pain, not just gay Americans, but even the mother of an 11 year old boy, a suicide taunted with hate of the gay.


Commentary By: Steven Reynolds

As usual, it is all about the GAY! Newt Gingrich knows if his comeback is to be successful, he needs to pay homage to the radical Christian extremists who whine about gay marriage and gay anything. So he’s slamming Barack Obama’s appointments to the White House Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships. Newt is slamming the appointments, but he’s really slamming the gay, and he’s got a lot of support ont he extremist anti-gay wing of the Republican Party. Here’s what Newt had to whine about, from CNN:

Newt Gingrich said Tuesday the Obama administration is “intensely secular” and “anti-religious,” the former House Speaker’s second hard-hitting criticism of the new administration this week.

In an interview with FOX News, Gingrich said he strongly disagreed with Obama’s choice of Harry Knox – an outspoken activist for gay rights – to the White House advisory council on faith-based initiatives.

“I think their goal is to have a very secular America in which government dominates everything,” he said. “Why wouldn’t you put an anti-religious, left-wing zealot on a faith-based group? It’s a perfect pattern for this administration.”

Since 2005, Knox has served as the director of the Human Rights Campaign, a national organization that advocates on behalf of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals. He is also a former Methodist pastor.

Newt evidently missed the list of people Obama appointed. (Here’s the list, Newt, since you obviously haven’t read it.) It’s got a ton of people who are quite religious. sure, Newt might not like that there’s a Hindu on the list, and he might not agree with the politics of Jim Wallis, but that doesn’t mean those folks are irreligious, as Newt claims. Knox isn’t irreligious either. But he is gay, and Newt attacking his appointment with falsehoods is par for the course. Newt himself is converting to Catholicism as a serially divorced man, so the hypocrisy of him defending religion falsely is rich, rich, rich.

More scandalous is the ugly politics of attacking gay people in this country. Why scandalous? Such attacks and ugliness lead to an environment where real people, real Americans, are hurt. Sirdeaner L. Walker is one of those Americans. She came home Monday in Springfield, MA on Monday to find her 11 year old son, Carl Joseph Walker-Hoover, hanging by an extension cord. The boy had been taunted at school. He’d been called gay by the other kids. Repeatedly.

America’s tragedy, and the Republican Party’s shame is that they treat gay and lesbian citizens as if they were trash. In doing so these “leaders” give license t

Friday, August 5th, 2011 by Steven Reynolds |

The GOP Price of Living (and Dying)

Those of us of a certain age have seen the economy expand, then contract, then expand again on many occasions. Things have changed, though – from Reagan’s “revolution” to GHW Bush’s “voodoo economics” through the unprecedented wealth transfer that has happened during Bush II’s reign, there’s a fundamental difference. In that difference lies the reason that I’m a progressive Democrat…

Commentary By: Richard Blair

The BeavI’m old enough to remember when the nuclear family was really the American dream: 2.2 kids, a house with a modest mortgage, mom met the kids at the school bus stop in the afternoon because she didn’t work outside the home, dad came rolling in later in the afternoon, dinner was served, homework was done, then maybe some TV (3 VHF channels and a couple of UHF “independents”). Rinse, spit, repeat.

The promise of technology and automation was never that Americans would lose their jobs to machines, but that the machines would make the jobs more efficient and lead to a better quality of life for everyone. LBJ’s “Great Society” was a product of progressive thinking – that yes, indeed, it was possible for the previous generation to leave the next generation just a little bit better off, and so on and so on.

In the past, I’ve ranted about how there was a palpable shift in the overall demeanor of big business back in the early days of Ronald Reagan’s presidency. Perhaps I was a bit closer to it (“the shift”) at the time because of the point that I was at in my career – I’d been with the same employer for a couple of years, making a pretty good wage, and I was the sole breadwinner in the family. That was my role; that was the real role in life I thought I was supposed to play. But I could sense, even back then, that something was terribly amiss. I just couldn’t put my finger on it at the time. Something strange was happening in the work place that augured an uncertain future.

Allow me to use a personal story as a segue into a larger discussion on why I’m a progressive Democrat.

The company I worked for during the Reagan years made a very rapid transformation from a truly “family oriented” employer, to a “bottom line” company. Harvard Business School was just starting to churn out Michael Hammer-cloned MBA graduates using the “Chainsaw Al” Dunlap model of business education. The heady days of merger and acquisition really got cranking around the time of Reagan’s second inauguration. The atmosphere in the workplace shifted dramatically in the space of what felt like just a few short months. In fact, the change was so dramatic that, even in the quasi-professional / technical role that I filled, it was becoming obvious that the only way to survive was for those in my technical specialization to organize with a local labor union. And so we tried – I tried. I was very active in the effort.

I was active in the effort for several reasons, but the most important was that the HBS graduates were starting to fling around the specter of competition and deregulation and corporate survival as if to generate a self fulfilling prophecy. And, to a degree, the HBS’ers did just that. What a union offered, even a professional / technical union, were rules that the company and employees had to live by. I reasoned that, without a legally binding employment contract, non-represented, non-management employees were flying by the seat of their pants and without a net.

In the long run, I was right.

The company used a couple of really shady tactics, aided and abetted by a Reagan-reconstituted National Labor Relations Board ruling, to defeat the organizing effort, and the union local was not prepared well enough to respond. The threat of layoffs never emerged for the rank and file union members in the company, but the professional and technical specialties started to be purged in the late 1980′s, as folks like me began to simply make too much money.

As my salary and 401K grew, I clearly recall sitting at my kitchen table one night and amortizing the value of my salary and benefits 20 years into the future. I somberly recognized that evening that the company couldn’t sustain me and hundreds of my coworkers into the future. At some point, even a modest three or four percent increase per year in a fairly decent salary becomes like compounding interest to the bean counters in a company – and it was clear that something had to give. So the professional ranks started taking hits in terms of layoffs, “performance-based” firings, and early retirement package offerings to those in the organization who held the corporate institutional memory.

Here’s an example of how quickly the changes occurred, and why I worked so hard in the union organizing effort.

At one time, the technical and professional folks made time and a half for overtime (because the company would never compensate their professional people less than their union workers, don’tcha know…). Out of the blue, the non-represented technical workers were required to put in at least 45 hours a week to qualify for time and a half. The uncompensated five hours per week was euphemistically dubbed “professional time”. And then one day, word came down from the executive suite that overtime was completely gone for the professionals. You worked what you had to in order to get your job done, no matter how long it took or how much additional responsibility you had to assume because the guy’s desk next to you was suddenly vacated late on a Friday afternoon (the favorite time to issue pink slips), and there was no replacement for him or her.

But you know who didn’t go? The company never touched the union rank and file, because of the contract. There are still guys working for the company in union positions who were there when the great middle management purge of 1990 took place.

I was fortunate enough to see the handwriting on the wall, and started doing some serious programming work on the side back then, and that led to my ability to leave the company on my own terms in the mid-90′s. After all, computers were where the big money was, Tim Berners-Lee was rolling out the HTTP protocol, and the dot com boom was just getting underway. My services were in pretty high demand, and I brought not only my computer experience to a booming market, but my mature business acumen. It was a great combination that worked for awhile, and I made a pretty good living. And then the dot com bust hit.

Makin' the NutBy the time I was forced back into the job market in the early part of this century, even though my skills were at their peak, my earning power was not. The conservative mantra was, “well, you work whatever you have to work at. McDonalds, whatever. There’s no shame in working hard.” Indeed. It got to the point where I took one of the first jobs that I was offered that was even remotely reasonable in terms of compensation. And then that job was “mergered and acquisitioned”, even though it was in the non-profit sector. The last several years have been a struggle, having come down from positions of both authority and responsibility. In the business climate that I was unfortunate enough to experience, at a certain age, it’s impossible to regain career traction, and you settle for the best job that’s available in order to make ends meet.

I know I’m not alone in my tale, and that there are many out there like me. My real income has declined significantly since the mid-90′s. In fact, I was 1040–²ing more per year in 1995 than I am today. And I’m working harder today than I ever did in my life, for a relatively thankless employer whose executive battle cry at the end of every quarter is: “We’re not making the numbers!! Panic! Panic!!” So, the sales force forward-sells our product line to make this quarter’s numbers at the expense of bookings at the beginning of next quarter. It’s an endless cycle of stupid business decisions that leads to bargain basement deals for our customers, less revenue for the company, and a repeating of the cycle again at the end of next quarter.

The company that I work for in 2008 is by no means exceptional in the modern corporate world. There is no “quality of life”, so to speak. I’m tethered to a cell phone and a computer 24 hour a day, 365 days a year, and I spend my time reacting to business crises rather than getting a break from the bonds. I am literally doing the same work that three people did 20 years ago. But my employer thinks this is ok. (The customers don’t, but that’s another story for another day.)

This is the life that the Republican Party brought to me, and why I’m such a strong progressive, even if I’m getting a bit long in the tooth. I’m angry. I’m angry with the business climate that has upended my life and that of millions of others like me. I’m angry that I’m good enough at what I do that I’m the “go-to” guy when there’s a steaming pile of business shit that someone else has left for me to clean up, but there’s no one to back me up when I have a less than stellar day at the office. I’m angry that at this point in my life I’m locked into a fairly dead-end position because of the paycheck, but more importantly, benefits that I can’t (again, at this point of my life) afford to be without.

In the past year, I’ve seen one of my closest business associates hang it up because it just wasn’t worth it anymore – he bailed out early when he had the opportunity, even as he was somewhat unsure of his financial future. Another (15 years younger than me) had a heart attack just before Christmas. He was back at his desk last week. He’ll never make it to retirement. Another is opting for early retirement in March rather than spend another minute with her nose stuck to the grind stone.

The nuclear family is a dream of the past. There are so many among us (thankfully, I’m not yet one of them) who have to work two and three jobs just to pay the mortgage, electric bill, and put food on the table because real wages have declined so precipitously in years recently passed. But the GOP thinks that’s all right, in fact, they’re proud of it. They think it’s just peachy that mom and dad have to work themselves to the point of exhaustion, and then on the other hand they wonder why the nuclear family has disintegrated.

There is more than just a mortgage crisis at hand, and I don’t think anyone in a position to say so really wants to admit it in polite company. There is a very real family financial liquidity crunch that is underway, and sooner than later, the crunch is going to affect all of us. The unprecedented wealth transfer from poor and middle income families to the uber rich is nearly complete. The folks at the bottom of the GOP-led financial pyramid scheme are nearly bled dry, and the pyramid is about to collapse. To sustain itself a little longer, the folks at the top of the pyramid will have to start an Amway-style ritual of financial cannibalism amongst themselves. I think that (to an extent) this is exactly what we’re seeing in the stock markets and big financial houses as the true meltdown begins. Is this is how it starts?

An executive of a collapsed subprime mortgage lender jumped to his death from a bridge Friday, shortly after his wife’s body was found inside their New Jersey home, authorities said.

The deaths of Walter Buczynski, 59, and his wife, Marci, 37 – the parents of two boys – were being investigated as a murder-suicide, according to the Burlington County Prosecutor’s Office…

[He] was a vice president of Columbia, Md.-based Fieldstone Mortgage Co., a high-flying subprime mortgage lender that made $5.5 billion in mortgage loans and employed about 1,000 people as late as 2006.

However, it has since filed for bankruptcy and now has fewer than 20 employees. The company had recently filed court papers seeking approval to pay about $1.1 million in bonuses that would be divided among Buczynski and other staffers so the company could wind down its lending operations and go out of business…

Even in the last throes of corporate failure, the bosses reward themselves.

It’s only speculation, but perhaps this tragedy happened in part because the Buczynski’s were embroiled in some intractable sort of financial difficulty. Still, for each VP of a failed company that can’t take the personal pressure any longer and leaps from a bridge, how many more bodies and destroyed lives from the lower rungs of the economic pyramid have they left in their wake as they pursued the Republican holy grail of financial success and “A-list” cocktail parties?

When consumers stop spending, the economy is going to crash hard. Signs already point to a significant contraction in consumer spending, which is why George Bush today offered up a

Friday, August 5th, 2011 by Richard Blair |

Jim Bunning, (R-KY) Has Bad Taste

Jim Bunning (R-KY) spoke out about Ruth Bader Ginzberg’™s cancer this weekend, actually predicting he imminent death. There is no excuse for a grown man being so crass. But he is a Republican, and there are many examples of such ugly behavior from that side of the aisle, so many that this should not surprise us one bit.

Commentary By: Steven Reynolds

I’™m willing to say it, that a comment implying anyone is dying soon is in very poor taste. That’™s what he said Saturday at the Hardin County Republican Party’™s Lincoln Day Dinner. Evidently predicting the death of someone he doesn’™t care for. . . he knows yhat will plat to his base? From the Louisville Courier Jounal:

U.S. Sen. Jim Bunning predicted over the weekend that U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg would likely be dead from pancreatic cancer within nine months.

During a wide-ranging 30-minute speech on Saturday at the Hardin County Republican Party’™s Lincoln Day Dinner, Bunning said he supports conservative judges ‘œand that’™s going to be in place very shortly because Ruth Bader Ginsburg ‘¦ has cancer.’

‘œBad cancer. The kind that you don’™t get better from,’

Friday, August 5th, 2011 by Richard Blair |

Bushie Kyle Sampson Claims Ignorance of the Law

It wasn’™t just Monica Goodling who broke the law in the DOJ and appointed career attorneys based on political criteria. Kyle Sampson also broke the law, though in his case he’™s making the usual whiney excuses, such as the notion that he, a member of the Justice Department, didn’™t KNOW the law he was sworn to uphold.

Commentary By: Steven Reynolds

Our own Daniel DiRito has an excellent article about the lawbreaking of Bush Justice official Monica Goodling, a marginal lawyer, at best, who was empowered to make huge decisions in the Bush Justice Department under Albert Gonzales. This case will be part of the Bush legacy of both incompetence and politicization of our government’™s functions, a shameful legacy indeed, for surely the Justice Department is designed to serve all Americans, and not just Republicans. But it is the incompetence I write about today, and not Monica Goodling. In separate stories in the Washington Post and the New York Times, Kyle Sampson’™s lawyer, Bradford Berenson, gives a couple whiney excuses for Sampson’™s behavior, excuses that show Sampson himself was incompetent to fill his role in the Bush Justice Department. First, in the Washington Post

Friday, August 5th, 2011 by Richard Blair |

George Bush Becomes Pro-Choice

Some of the phrasing in George Bush’™s speech looks like it could have come out of a NARAL brochure. Is George now a pro-choice guy? Nah! I’™m thinking this is just one more example of the patented incompetence of the Bush team.

Commentary By: Steven Reynolds

Mr. Bush has spent seven years doing exactly what Republicans accuse liberals of. He’™s not raised taxes, for sure, but he’™s spent our tax dollars like a drunken Yale cheerleader. He’™s not dismantled the military, but he’™s misused time and time again. And Bush has certainly not called for abortion on demand, but here he is, in the 2008 State of the Union speech, his last important speech, supporting the main tenet of the pro-choice crowd. From the White House transcript of the SOTU (my emphasis):

To build a future of quality health care, we must trust patients and doctors to make medical decisions and empower them with better information and better options. We share a common goal: making health care more affordable and accessible for all Americans. (Applause.) The best way to achieve that goal is by expanding consumer choice, not government control. (Applause.) So I have proposed ending the bias in the tax code against those who do not get their health insurance through their employer. This one refor

Friday, August 5th, 2011 by Richard Blair |

Deciphering What Is Written On The Bathroom Stall

Clearly, there has been an inordinate historical focus upon the pursuit and punishment of those engaged in same sex encounters’¦likely a derivative of established social norms and values. Over time, it also appears that there has been a growing awareness that programs to limit public sexual activity need to evolve and to begin incorporating methods that seek to extinguish the behavior as opposed to criminalizing it.

Commentary By: Daniel DiRito

As the blogosphere has sought to digest the meaning of the Larry Craig incident, it has begun to spur a worthwhile debate‘¦one which has been ignored and has lurked in the background in ways eerily similar to the behavior that led to the arrest of the Senator.

Generally speaking, the public is opposed to encountering unexpected or offensive behaviors in public environments’¦and that is a reasonable concern for those within government to address. Clearly, the opinions regarding which behaviors constitute a nuisance or create the conditions under which to charge an individual with a crime will vary from individual to individual’¦often dependent upon one’™s values, one’™s religious beliefs, ands one’™s propensity for tolerance. The fact that there are discordant beliefs simply complicates the task for those charged with monitoring such activities.

By and large, citizens believe that law enforcement departments are committed to treating each individual fairly and with the same level of respect for their civil liberties. At the same time, history tells us that this isn’™t always the case. Regardless, most citizens afford our law enforcement departments the benefit of the doubt’¦which is as it should be’¦but only to a point.

In writing about the Larry Craig situation, I broached the question of whether the targeting of men who have sex with men (I avoid using the term gay because studies indicate that many of the men who participate in these clandestine encounters are married and consider themselves to be heterosexual) receives a level of attention that is commensurate with that given to those who engage in opposite sex liaisons in public locations.

I have asked readers and colleagues to ponder the question and to cite any examples whereby tactics similar to those employed in the Senator’™s case are being utilized to charge those engaged in opposite sex public encounters. At the moment, I have not been provided with any such examples’¦though a few individuals have cited prostitution stings as examples. I have discounted such examples because they constitute a specific crime that is not at play in circumstances like that of Senator Craig’¦meaning that the individuals charged in men’™s restrooms are engaging in consensual sex without the exchange of money (by definition the exchange of money is an act of solicitation), which generally leads to charges of lewd behavior, indecent exposure, or disorderly conduct.

I don’™t want to devolve into a legalistic discussion though some basic understandings are required for this debate. Firstly, laws can and do vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction so one size doesn’™t fit all. Secondly, courts have offered a number of rulings on the subject though no definitive across the board position can actually be derived.

Relevant to this topic, the Senator’™s actions constituted disorderly conduct’¦despite what he may have intended to do. In essence, intention doesn’™t necessarily equate with the ability to convict on the lewd behavior charge. The fact that he plead to the lesser charge (disorderly conduct) is evidence of this reality. Further, in some of these cases, the accused have successfully argued that their actions in a closed door stall in a restroom facility cannot equate with disorderly conduct because their actions didn’™t actually take place in public. The argument is open to interpretation and it can progress into questions of a fundamental granting of constitutional privacy privileges.

With that said, one can see that the issue is more complex than one might expect. Notwithstanding, it is important to note that the issue isn’™t solely one of legality as it is reasonable to consider other factors’¦such as what the public can legitimately expect upon entering a public restroom. While I am personally opposed to using these restrooms for sexual liaisons, the issue requires a much more comprehensive analysis.

To introduce the other considerations, let me begin with a simple example that will hopefully illuminate my concerns. Suppose one conducted a survey whereby the objective was to gauge the public’™s reaction and response to witnessing an apparent sexual encounter in a public restroom. In the study, the respondents witness 50% of the situations involving same sex participants and the other 50% involving opposite sex participants. In both cases, the sex of the participants is obvious, as is the sexual nature of the activity.

The respondents are then confronted as they exit the restroom in order to gauge their reaction as well as what they believe to be the appropriate response from law enforcement. Each respondent is asked to explain what they believe they witnessed to insure that they properly identified the sex of the participants. Once that is determined, they are asked to respond to a multiple choice question outlining the action they believe should be taken.

The first answer is, ‘œWhile I don’™t think they should be doing this in a public restroom, I’™m not in favor of it being a crime.’ The second answer is, ‘œI think that they should be charged with a crime in the event that a law enforcement officer were to be summoned’. The final answer is, ‘œI think that law enforcement needs to establish a sting operation to target those who might intend to engage in such activity in order to catch and charge them’.

My own belief is that the responses would be skewed towards answer number one with regards to opposite sex participants and towards answer number three with regards to same sex participants. I say as much because it would likely reflect the beliefs held by most Americans’¦meaning that heterosexual sex is viewed to be more acceptable than homosexual sex. In fact, I would contend that many of the respondents would laugh off the heterosexual activity while many of those witnessing homosexual activity would be outraged.

Therefore, one must ask whether the existing law enforcement actions being conducted in situations similar to that in Minneapolis’¦which led to the arrest of the Senator’¦reflect a societal bias with regards to homosexuals. In the absence of similar operations aimed at heterosexual activity, it seems safe to conclude that the treatment is not equal’¦and is likely reflective of prejudice.

Let me offer an even simpler example to reinforce my argument. All things being equal, a kiss between same sex couples in public will elicit a negative reaction (a moral judgment)’¦while a heterosexual kiss may elicit no reaction or at worst a negative reaction that such behavior doesn’™t belong in public’¦but rarely a negative moral judgment.

If that same bias is being applied to the actions of law enforcement (and it seems difficult to assume otherwise), we have a problem with selective and unfair discrimination.

Let me share part of a discussion I’™ve been involved with on this very topic. The information is from an individual who works with this issue and the men who are being charged with these types of offenses. I am not including his name or the organization as a matter of privacy. While I don’™t agree with every point made, I think it provides some important insight into a perspective that is often omitted from discussions of this issue.

Ok. The agency I work for has worked on hundreds of these cases. We have won lawsuits on the matter so I am going to respond to this last post with a few items.

1. Undercover operations have 0 deterrent effect. There is no evidence that sting operations against gay men have a deterrent effect. In fact the opposite is true. When members of the public see uniformed police ‘“ THAT is a deterrent. It makes many people feel more safe and if you combine it with signs saying that illegal behavior will be prosecuted or that surveillance is occurring (it doesn’™t have to be occurring) then you could argue there is a deterrent goal by the facility. But hiding a police officer does not prevent crime all it does is A. catch criminals or B. invites entrapment by overzealous cops who are frustrated with cautious perpetrators that refuse to take the bait. This is the reality.

2. Charging people is the goal. Police are very politically motivated. Their jobs and their bosses jobs are very much designed around getting rid of undesirables including queers. These operations usually carry a higher charge like in the Craig case where he claimed he had to negotiate it down to a misdemeanor. Charging felonies is about getting queers on the sex offender registry, shaming them in public, or costing them so much money they won’™t dare fight the charge in court. We had a case of 770 arrests in 4 months. Almost all were innocent. 50 of the guys got in touch with (agency name omitted) and all were acquitted because the officer refused to show up for court, meaning that he would commit perjury about what he put in the police reports. There is a fine for the charge, a fine for the court fees, attorney fees and sometimes there is a ‘œnuisance abatement’ charge so they can take your car which costs hundred to get it back. This is thousands more if you go to court. I repeat. These charges do not deter men or else every cruisy area where there were arrests would see reductions. This is not the case.

3. Police mostly are not responding to public complaints. Police know about cruisy restrooms because of websites and a few public complaints. We have filed Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) after FOIA after FOIA and never once have we received a public complaint of public sex. If this is such a big problem, which justifies an undercover operation, there should be some documentation. Nada. In (state omitted), the State Police even called their operations ‘œBag a Fag’ operations and printed T-Shirts saying so. This is the sign of bias not serving and protecting. If there are really people observing public sex (which is rare because most of this activity is committed by guys that do not want to be seen or caught) then a uniformed cop walking in should be able to see the same thing right. Right. But they don’™t want to deter it or stumble across it, they want to invite it. They want it to happen. 9 times out of ten these men never get a warning and sent away. They invest so much money and time that they love charging on the first offense, charging high and publicizing the hell out of it.

4. I have trained over 1000 police, some as a condition of our lawsuit and nearly all of them believe that gay sex is so sick they would do anything to root it out. I have had cops say out loud in a training that they would watch two women go at it, send a str8 couple home and bust a gay couple. I have also had cops admit in these trainings that these operations are scams designed to make money and shame people. Some chiefs and some prosecutors won’™t honor them at all. In (state omitted) we have shut down many of these when high level chiefs have admitted that uniformed cops are an effective way of dealing with the ‘œproblem.’

I think this is invaluable information’¦information that gives the reader a first hand view of the realities confronted by those who have engaged in such activity and the obstacles they face’¦but it also provides insight into which methods may be effective in limiting or deterring these activities as well as exposing the possibility that the motivations of those who establish programs like the one found in Minneapolis may be biased and misguided.

It’™s difficult to argue in favor of a program that isn’™t effective’¦unless, of course, one is particularly prejudiced against those who are participating in the behavior. If the goal is to extinguish this activity, it appears that these sting operations are less than effective.

Rather than rely upon one source, I consulted a document prepared by the U.S. Department of Justice titled, ‘œIllicit Sexual Activity in Public Places’. The following excerpts are from this lengthy document and they reiterate and reinforce some of the concerns shared in the prior quotation.

There are widely different perspectives on public sexual activity. Some do not believe the behavior constitutes a public safety threat; some view the behavior as a ‘œvictimless crime’ involving two consenting partners; and some see the behavior as a threat to the community’™s ‘œmoral decency.’ ‘œImpersonal,’ ‘œcasual,’ and ‘œanonymous’ sexual behaviors have negative connotations to many people, as they stand in contrast to ideals of romantic love, monogamous relationships, and long-term commitments. Moral overtones pervade discussions of nudity and sexuality, particularly when they address same sex interactions. These judgments often underlie the public’™s concern. Community morals and beliefs about how the law should regulate morality will affect how each community addresses the problem. This guide does not adopt any particular moral perspective; it is intended to inform you about the effectiveness and consequences of various approaches to controlling public sexual activity.

Primarily, such activity constitutes nuisance behavior and does not pose a serious threat to community safety.

The responses to public sexual activity can be fraught with difficulty. Charges of harassment, entrapment, bias and discrimination against homosexuals have historically surrounded efforts to address public sexual activity between men. Therefore, it is vital that you objectively analyze the problem so that you develop fair and effective responses.

Certain patterns (e.g., opposite-sex coupling at a ‘œlovers’™ lane’) have not been studied empirically, while others (e.g., same-sex contact in public restrooms) have been studied much more extensively. It is important to note that engaging in same-sex activity does not necessarily imply a homosexual identity; in fact, many men who have sex with men in public places are married or otherwise heterosexually involved, and do not consider themselves to be gay.

When apprehended, many offenders may suffer substantial social repercussions, in addition to any criminal justice related consequences that may ensue. Threats to their marriages, friendships, jobs, reputations, and social standing often cause them to try to distract attention from their behaviors by showing exaggerated degrees of respectability, such as strong ties to the religious community or passionate condemnation of homosexuality. The larger the community’™s moral objections to public sexual activity mean that participants have much to lose if they are discovered.

Two things are immediately apparent. One, The Justice Department realizes that efforts to limit this type of activity have moral considerations’¦and that can lead to prejudicial judgments. Two, the fact that same-sex activity is the only activity that has been extensively studied supports my contention that little effort is expended to suppress similar heterosexual activity. It also suggests that a bias has existed for many years with regard to homosexual activity and it has often been targeted.

A lack of privacy may also be the reason for male sexual activity in public restrooms. In particular, men with heterosexual identities may want to conceal their behavior from significant others. Their heterosexual identities also deter them from using other, less-public venues such as gay bars or sex clubs. Some homosexual men also lack the freedom to pursue same-sex partners privately due to family or peer disapproval. A community’™s condemnation of homosexuality may drive the behavior to remote, although public, locations, particularly among those exploring their sexuality and not yet connected to the gay community.

Most researchers and practitioners agree that focusing solely on arresting those engaging in public sexual activity is unlikely to reduce the overall scope of the problem. In your response strategy, you should acknowledge that it will be difficult to affect people’™s motivations for engaging in the activity. A balanced approach combining enforcement strategies and those targeting environments that support the behavior is most likely to decrease the prevalence of the activity and the public’™s concern about it.

Used alone, enforcement efforts are likely to lead to displacement. Although not the most desirable outcome, there is evidence that when displacement does occur, the magnitude of the problem decreases with the move to a new location.

In addition, an exclusive focus on environments in which same-sex interactions occur can result in charges of bias and discrimination. Therefore, you must address the full range of public sexual activity and target particular locations based on objective, justifiable assessments of threats to public safety.

Again, the report confirms many of the same conclusions offered by the party quoted above and with whom I discussed the issue. I view the warnings in the last paragraph to be a tacit acknowledgment that there has been a focus upon same sex encounters. Note the use of the word objective’¦a

Friday, August 5th, 2011 by Richard Blair |

President Bush Says No To Insuring More Children

There is an inherent risk for those who ‘œhave’ to infer that those who ‘œhave not’’¦deserve not’¦that what they lack results from their lack of effort and that if they are coddled by the government, they will never demonstrate the necessary initiative to alter their situation absent the assistance of the government.

Commentary By: Daniel DiRito

Sometimes comparison proves to be the best means to understand the intentions of those who have been elected to public office’¦especially since the spoken word is often the tool by which politicians manipulate voters. When it comes to understanding President Bush, comparison is necessary’¦and the results offer a string of contradictions that defy the rhetoric of compassionate conservatism.

In a New York Times article, Paul Krugman provides readers a look into the position of the President with regard to the expansion of programs to cover uninsured children’¦programs that the President supported in the past’¦but programs that the President is opposed to expanding despite their success.

When a child is enrolled in the State Children’™s Health Insurance Program (Schip), the positive results can be dramatic. For example, after asthmatic children are enrolled in Schip, the frequency of their attacks declines on average by 60 percent, and their likelihood of being hospitalized for the condition declines more than 70 percent.

Regular care, in other words, makes a big difference. That’™s why Congressional Democrats, with support from many Republicans, are trying to expand Schip, which already provides essential medical care to millions of children, to cover millions of additional children who would otherwise lack health insurance.

But President Bush says that access to care is no problem ‘” ‘œAfter all, you just go to an emergency room’ ‘” and, with the support of the Republican Congressional leadership, he’™s declared that he’™ll veto any Schip expansion on ‘œphilosophical’ grounds.

The House plan, which would cover more children, is more expensive, but it offsets Schip costs by reducing subsidies to Medicare Advantage ‘” a privatization scheme that pays insurance companies to provide coverage, and costs taxpayers 12 percent more per beneficiary than traditional Medicare.

Strange to say, however, the administration, although determined to prevent any expansion of children’™s health care, is also dead set against any cut in Medicare Advantage payments.

Well, here’™s what Mr. Bush said after explaining that emergency rooms provide all the health care you need: ‘œThey’™re going to increase the number of folks eligible through Schip; some want to lower the age for Medicare. And then all of a sudden, you begin to see a ‘” I wouldn’™t call it a plot, just a strategy ‘” to get more people to be a part of a federalization of health care.’

Looking at this particular situation offers ample opportunities for relevant and informative comparisons. First, let me suggest that the President’™s position is neither conservative nor compassionate. There has been little disagreement that George Bush’™s Medicare prescription drug program was the largest expansion of entitlements in recent memory and most analysts believe it will cost far more than the original estimates.

On its surface, one might argue that adding a prescription drug benefit was an act of compassion’¦and to a degree that conclusion has some merit. However, this is where comparison becomes an enlightening tool.

It is well known that the President is in favor of privatizing entitlement programs and one could argue that the prescription drug benefit was a logical step in that direction and likely the only means by which he could initiate such a plan’¦given that is has the appearance of compassion. One can look at the high costs of the program as the essential seed money for turning the corner towards privatization.

As we know, the program has been viewed to have achieved mixed results but there is no doubt that it provided insurance companies with a subsidized entr–©e into the living rooms of millions of Americans. Let me attempt to explain. The prescription drug benefit allows those on Medicare to purchase the benefit from an array of private providers’¦a move that begins to put in place a ready made structure for further privatization.

Such a plan achieves two important goals for a President in favor of privatization. One, it begins to give insurance companies an expanding role in providing care for the millions of seniors on Medicare’¦a move that is good for large corporations in the business of health care’¦including drug manufacturers. Two, it is an important incremental step in taking the government out of the health care business and entitlement programs.

Coming back to the Schip program, one can begin to use comparisons to uncover actual motivations. The number of uninsured Americans is well documented as a politically charged issue. In approving a plan to cover a number of uninsured children, the President achieved points for compassion just as he did with the prescription drug benefit. These programs also helped to hold off calls for universal government health care’¦a direction which this President opposes.

When one looks at the Bush administration position on the relative costs for the Schip plan and Medicare Advantage, we see that compassion and conservatism are secondary to the ideology of privatization. Granted, one could argue that the ultimate goals of the measures endorsed by the President have conservatism at their core’¦meaning less government and more market determined programs and costs.

In that regard, perhaps these spending measures’¦which are seemingly incongruent with conservatism’¦and which have raised the ire of traditional conservatives’¦have been shrewd considerations and calculations on the part of the President intended to push the country towards more privatization.

Now, why should Mr. Bush fear that insuring uninsured children would lead to a further ‘œfederalization’ of health care, even though nothing like that is actually in either the Senate plan or the House plan? It’™s not because he thinks the plans wouldn’™t work. It’™s because he’™s afraid that they would. That is, he fears that voters, having seen how the government can help children, would ask why it can’™t do the same for adults.

And there you have the core of Mr. Bush’™s philosophy. He wants the public to believe that government is always the problem, never the solution. But it’™s hard to convince people that government is always bad when they see it doing good things. So his philosophy says that the government must be prevented from solving problems, even if it can. In fact, the more good a proposed government program would do, the more fiercely it must be opposed.

This sounds like a caricature, but it isn’™t. The truth is that this good-is-bad philosophy has always been at the core of Republican opposition to health care reform. Thus back in 1994, William Kristol warned against passage of the Clinton health care plan ‘œin any form,’ because ‘œits success would signal the rebirth of centralized welfare-state policy at the very moment that such policy is being perceived as a failure in other areas.’

But it has taken the fight over children’™s health insurance to bring the perversity of this philosophy fully into view.

Krugman’™s analysis is valid but perhaps it stops short of identifying the ultimate misconceptions that underlie such a philosophy. George Bush is no doubt a product of privilege and in that reality his ability to comprehend the struggles of those at the opposite end of the spectrum is undoubtedly insufficient.

There is an inherent risk for those who ‘œhave’ to infer that those who ‘œhave not’’¦deserve not’¦that what they lack results from their lack of effort and that if they are coddled by the government, they will never demonstr

Friday, August 5th, 2011 by Richard Blair |

Brought to You By the Number 28301 – 016

Scooter Libby got his number yesterday, 28301 – 016. It’™ll look good on one of those orange jumpsuits, eh? No word as yet on whether he will be successful in delaying his sentencing, and no word yet on whether George Bush will then go for the pardon. From the New York Times:

For [...]

Commentary By: Steven Reynolds

Scooter Libby got his number yesterday, 28301 – 016. It’™ll look good on one of those orange jumpsuits, eh? No word as yet on whether he will be successful in delaying his sentencing, and no word yet on whether George Bush will then go for the pardon. From the New York Times:

For years he was known as chief of staff to Vice President Dick Cheney and assistant to President Bush. On Wednesday, I. Lewis ‘Scooter’ Libby became federal inmate No. 28301-016.

Libby, who was convicted in March of lying and obstructing an investigation int

Friday, August 5th, 2011 by Richard Blair |
Category: Iraq

New GOP Internal Poll: “We’re Screwed”

A GOP internal poll obtained today by the AP tells a shocking story for the Republican Party: only the hardcore wingnuts now support the GOP agenda.

Commentary By: Richard Blair

It’s becoming an article of faith, no pun intended, that the GOP (as presently represented by the most loathsome faces of the party) finds itself hip deep in elephant poo. Even Republican-leaning pundits and “strategists” are lamenting on how far the party has fallen, in such a relatively short period of time. What they can’t seem to wrap their heads around is how to get their leadership heading back in the right direction.

Therein lays their biggest problem: when the best the Republican party leadership can do is to trot out John McCain, Mitt Romney, and Jeb Bush as the “new face” of the GOP, the poo pile seems bottomless.

Based on the numbers in a recent GOP internal poll obtained by the Associated Press, the situation might be even more grave than the most loyal of the Republican loyalists imagined:

Republicans are widely viewed by the public as less competent than Democrats to handle issue ranging from health care to education and energy, according to internal polling presented to top GOP officials in Congress…

The survey found the public holds greater confidence in Democrats than in Republicans in handling most of the issues that are involved in Obama’s legislative agenda…Democrats were favored by a margin of 61 percent to 29 percent on education; 59 percent to 30 percent on health care and 59 percent to 31 percent on energy…Democats were also viewed with more confidence in handling taxes, long a Republican strong suit. The only issue among nine in the survey where the two parties were rated as even was in the war on terror.

The survey found Obama’s job approval at 62 percent.

However, lest we get too cocky about the current state of the GOP, let’s remember that it wasn’t so long ago that conventional political wisdom held forth that the GOP was heading for a permanent political majority in America.

National politics is a particularly fickle animal, and it would only take a few negative events to turn opinion quickly. The Dems retook the majority not so much based on their own ideas and plans, but because those of the GOP had become so absolutely toxic.

The time nears for the Democratic Party leadership to put the boldest of plans in motion: an inclusive national healthcare plan that leaves no American without access to good medical care, labor laws that favor workers over corporations, and an end to regressive tax laws that cause the working class to shoulder a disproportionate share of the common tax burden.

Do those three things, and the Democratic Party will be closer to a true permanent majority than the GOP ever dreamed of having.

Tuesday, August 2nd, 2011 by Richard Blair |
Category: Uncategorized

Snarlin’ Arlen Crossing From the Dark Side

Arlen Specter, in perhaps his last run at the Senate, has decided to leave the Republican Party. With the way the Republican electorate has changed over the last few years, he sure needed this magic bullet to stay in the Senate.


Commentary By: Steven Reynolds

The die were cast in Pennsylvania when Obama was elected. The 20%ers who supported George Bush are the God, guns and bitterness crowd, and they are awfully bitter about everything Obama. Frankly, Arlen Specter isn’t bitter enough for their tastes. There has been tons of talk about Pat Toomey, extremist right winger that he is on both the Christian and taxation front, challenging Specter, and with so many moderate Republicans leaving the party in PA, Specter was going to have some big troubles in next year’s Republican primary. So what’s happening? Arlen Specter is becoming a Republican.

You can read Chris Cillizza on the subject at his column in the Washington Post, but I’ll quote from Mr. Specter himself, from his campaign web site:

Since my election in 1980, as part of the Reagan Big Tent, the Republican Party has moved far to the right. Last year, more than 200,000 Republicans in Pennsylvania changed their registration to become Democrats. I now find my political philosophy more in line with Democrats than Republicans.

When I supported the stimulus package, I knew that it would not be popular with the Republican Party. But, I saw the stimulus as necessary to lessen the risk of a far more serious recession than we are now experiencing.

Since then, I have traveled the State, talked to Republican leaders and office-holders and my supporters and I have carefully examined public opinion. It has become clear to me that the stimulus vote caused a schism which makes our differences irreconcilable. On this state of the record, I am unwilling to have my twenty-nine year Senate record judged by the Pennsylvania Republican primary electorate. I have not represented the Republican Party. I have represented the people of Pennsylvania.

I have decided to run for re-election in 2010 in the Democratic primary.

I am ready, willing and anxious to take on all comers and have my candidacy for re-election determined in a general election.

I deeply regret that I will be disappointing many friends and supporters. I can understand their disappointment. I am also disappointed that so many in the Party I have worked for for more than four decades do not want me to be their candidate. It is very painful on both sides. I thank especially Senators McConnell and Cornyn for their forbearance.

Well, that is stunning political news. The Democrats are now almost cloture-proof, and while Arlen says his will be a vote of conscience over party, to get the Democratic nod he is going to have to bend a bit to the will of the Democratic Party in the next year or so. I suppose this is not stunning in the sense that Arlen Specter truly does not look or act like Pennsylvania Republicans anymore. That breed of citizen is a dwindling population that has backed too many losing efforts over the last several years. Who can forget, after all, Rick Santorum’s historic loss a few years ago as an incumbent?

I understand Mr. Specter has promised to give back political contributions from supporters if they do not agree with his decision. Of the people I know who have given him money, I know of many who will be cheering this move. Yes, even some in my own household will be cheering.

So what caused this switch? I’d say the Republican Party becoming too extremist is what caused it. I would not be surprised if other Republican Congressmen and Senators follow Specter’s example, though there are so few moderates left in the Republican Party, that I wouldn’t predict many. Moderate Republican? That’s what is called an endangered species.

Tuesday, August 2nd, 2011 by Steven Reynolds |
Category: Uncategorized
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