After My Own Heart

A.J. Otjen, University of Montana Professor and 2010 GOP Congressional Candidate has an Op-Ed in the Missoulian that flies in the face of the arguments by Treasure State Politics about LGBT rights (see previous post) and takes on the Montana GOP’s Notorious Platform Plank:

Montana Republican Party

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(The) Montana Supreme Court heard an appeal giving same-sex couples the protections that heterosexual couples enjoy. We should demand that our Republican leaders support this decision. But, the Montana Republican party platform says homosexual acts should remain illegal.

Apparently, the party that favors smaller, less intrusive government wants bigger, more intrusive government when it comes to our domestic arrangements. Three’s a crowd in the bedroom, folks.

Worse, the party line doesn’t fit with what most Republicans think. The latest Gallup poll says that 85 percent of Republicans want their candidates to focus on the economy, not social issues.

It will be increasingly difficult for Republicans to win general elections if party leaders try to block the Supreme Court ruling or this troubling clause stays in the Republican state platform. Almost two-thirds of independents supported legalizing same-sex marriage in a 2010 Gallup poll.

Anecdotal evidence from online posts shows thousands of voters saying they would vote Republican except for the GOP’s rigid stance on gay issues.

Almost one-third of Republicans supported legalizing same-sex marriage in the 2010 Gallup poll. Over 70 percent of 18- to 34-year-olds support legalizing same-sex marriage, up 16 percentage points from 2010. This “overwhelming” number in favor of marriage equality “makes the trend toward growing acceptance both clear and unstoppable,” says Jon Walker at Firedoglake. (emphases mine)


I am delighted and cautiously optimistic.

Of course I want her to be a bellwether, and having A.J. Otjen singing “The Times, They Are A-Changing” (with statistics) might be the wake-up call the Montana GOP needs. But will they hear it?

The Tea-Party Christianists seem to have a loud voice, if not large numbers- and the fact that this plank was “sneaked in” past the majority of delegates- as some maintain- doesn’t leave me with a helluva lot of faith in the process.

I want to believe it. I do. I like what she’s singin’, God bless her. It’s rational, reasonable, and backed by scientific data.

But I know a few people who’ll run to unplug the speakers as fast as they can. Especially because it’s rational, reasonable and backed by scientific data.

Sigh.

Stay tuned- and read the whole piece here.

In Which I Am Insulted, But Not Named

I was totally going to respond to Treasure State Politics accusation that (without naming me or this blog directly- afraid to catch or promote The Gay?) I am a flippant, hasty writer and I see bigotry where there’s only the desire to discuss judicial activism.

Well, Pogie beat me to it.

In a post entitled: The Future of the Republican Party: A Commitment to Homophobia?, Don Pogreba writes:

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It’s always both disheartening and a bit amusing watching conservatives contort themselves to justify discrimination against GLBT Americans, especially when it comes to marriage equality. They couch their arguments in specious claims about judicial activism, but the truth is, their position rests on the bigoted idea that a group of people can be denied equal protection under the law simply because some people are uncomfortable with relationships that are different from their own.

The latest example? The media darlings and deep thinkers at Treasure State Politics.

When this is your argument, you’re in trouble:

“I understand it is vital for every citizen, no matter their personal choices, to be guaranteed the same rights under our laws. Marriage isn’t a right, it’s a tradition. When a court begins to compromise the meaning of marriage that Montanans have overwhelmingly agreed on, the reverence of marriage can be quickly destroyed.”

The Supreme Court has disagreed with the idea that marriage is not a right, most specifically in the 1967 Loving v. Virginia decision, which outlawed anti-miscegenation laws. As the majority wrote:

“The freedom to marry has long been recognized as one of the vital personal rights essential to the orderly pursuit of happiness by free men …”

To deny this fundamental freedom on so unsupportable a basis as the racial classifications embodied in these statutes, classifications so directly subversive of the principle of equality at the heart of the Fourteenth Amendment, is surely to deprive all the State’s citizens of liberty without due process of law.

Read the whole thing- it’s fantastic.
There are, however, a couple of NYAH-NYAH points I would like to make to Mr Shannon’s insistence that he wasn’t trying to denigrate LGBT persons:
  • When you begin by comparing same-sex marriage to polygamy, that’s offensive.
  • When you say that marriage is a tradition and not a right, not only are you wrong according to the Supreme Court (see Pogreba’s discussion above), you miss the point. Traditions change. For examples, see the following: slavery, women’s suffrage, military conscription, prohibition, comma usage, etc
  • When you bemoan “activist judges” and “legislating from the bench”, you simply are using terms to couch the infantile feelings that you didn’t get what you wanted from the ruling(s).
  • When you insist that you didn’t want to have a discussion about LGBT rights by denigrating same-sex marriage, you are ridiculous.
  • And by writing this crazy pants rebuttal, you prove my point entirely.
Next time, please don’t be afraid to name me or this blog. I don’t like being called out behind my back. It’s cheap.
And by the way, this post took me 24 minutes to write.
Hasty writer, indeed….

The Palinization Of The GOP

Buckley (right) and L. Brent Bozell Jr. promot...

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“The headline on Democratic strategist Paul Begala’s recent Newsweek essay dodged subtlety: “The Stupid Party.”

“Republicans used to admire intelligence. But now they’re dumbing themselves down,” was the subhead.

Democrats couldn’t agree more. And quietly, many Republicans share the sentiment. They just can’t seem to stop themselves.

Republicans aren’t really stupid, of course, and Begala acknowledges this. But, as he also pointed out, the conservative brain trust once led by William F. Buckley has been supplanted by talk radio hosts who love to quote Buckley (and boast of his friendship) but who do not share the man’s pedigree or his nimble mind. Moreover, where Buckley tried to rid the GOP of fringe elements, notably the John Birch Society, today’s conservatives have let them back in. The 2010 Conservative Political Action Conference was co-sponsored by the Birchers.

Meanwhile, the big tent fashioned by Ronald Reagan has become bilious with the hot air of religious fervor. No one was more devout than the very-Catholic Buckley, but you didn’t see him convening revivals in the public square. Nor is it likely he would have embraced fundamentalist views that increasingly have forced the party into a corner where science and religion can’t coexist.”

The GOP will continue to be ridiculous as long as it courts the ridiculous…. Make sure and read the whole thing- it’s good.

MT Dems: Rehberg’s Concern for Foreclosed Homeowners a New Development

Millionaire Congressman Dennis Rehberg says home mortgage lenders “should have been left to fail”, according to a report in Lee Newspapers.

record number of Americans lost their homes during the subprime mortgage crisis, but Congressman Rehberg’s comments reveal he was never concerned about stemming the tide of foreclosures.

“Congressman Rehberg has no solutions because—as a second generation millionaire—he never had to worry about struggling with a mortgage,” said Ted Dick, Executive Director of the Montana Democratic Party. “Congressman Rehberg needs to explain why he would allow more Montanans to have lost their homes during the mortgage crisis.”

Congressman Rehberg signed on to a bill to hold Fannie and Freddie accountable for extreme bonuses seven months after the bill was introduced, and just hours after Jon Tester spoke out against the bonuses during a Senate hearing.

“Apparently Congressman Rehberg will try to steal someone else’s ideas when thinks he can gain politically,” continued Dick.

Congressman Rehberg’s comments about letting home mortgage lenders fail come as GOP Presidential Candidate Newt Gingrich

is forced to answer questions about his consulting contract with Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

“We’ll give the Congressman another opportunity,” Dick said.  “He should join with his campaign partner Michele Bachmann and denounce Newt Gingrich for enriching himself with a questionable $1.6 million contract with Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.” 


New STD Rates “Shockingly High”

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Today, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released its 2010 sexually transmitted disease (STD) surveillance data.  This annual report of statistics and trends for the three reportable sexually transmitted diseases in the United States shows that STDs rates in this country are still shockingly high, particularly in communities of color and among gay men and other men who have sex with men (MSM).

“This new data shows a persistence of the same trends that we have been seeing for years—that MSM and communities of color are continuing to bear a disproportionate share of the STDs in this country,” said William Smith, Executive Director of the National Coalition of STD Directors. “We should also not lose sight of a number of new additional studies this past year on the link between STDs and acquiring HIV.  The 2010 STD data released today shows that we need to look closely at further investments in STD prevention as a means to prevent HIV as well,” continued Smith.

While the 2010 data shows that overall rates for syphilis went down compared to 2009, the first decrease in in ten years, rates among Hispanics went up just over nine percent in the last year and MSM still account for two-thirds of the syphilis in this country.  In addition, black men continue to have the highest rates of syphilis in the U.S., with young (20-24) black MSM seeing an increase of syphilis of a shocking 135 percent between 2006 and 2010.  Co-infection of those with syphilis and HIV also continues; between 25-54 percent of those with primary or secondary syphilis were also HIV positive.

“The good news is that there was a drop of 8.5 percent in the rate of black men diagnosed with either primary or secondary syphilis in 2010 compared to the year prior,” said Smith.  “While too early to definitely assess the cause for this drop, there has been a distinct appeal for several years now to help address the explosion of syphilis among black men, particularly among young black MSM, and we must keep up efforts to prevent increasing rates of STDs and HIV among this group,” concluded Smith.

Rates for Chlamydia continued to increase over the last year, as they have for twenty years.  This is in part due to increased testing which is increasingly identifying positive cases, of which there were more than 1.3 million reported in 2010.  Black women continue to have the highest rates for Chlamydia, as well as gonorrhea.  While there was only a small increase in the overall rates of gonorrhea, the rates of gonorrhea in Hispanics went up 12 percent compared to 2009.

Across all three diseases, communities of color and young people overall continue to be most affected, though even for all ages of whites, increases were seen for all three diseases in 2010.  Among whites in 2010, rates of chlamydia increased by 7.5 percent, 9.2 percent for gonorrhea, and 3.6 percent for syphilis in 2010 compared to 2009.

Smith concluded, “We hope the unacceptably high rates of STDs in this country continue to be clarion call for securing the sexual health of all people. This means that state and federal investments in STD prevention remain a critical need in these times of tight budgets and that as healthcare reform continues to move ahead, that partners in every sector ensure that the safety net for these services continues to exist.”

The full 2010 STD surveillance data can be found on the CDC website at: http://www.cdc.gov/std/stats10/default.htm.

The “Right” Responds To MT ACLU Lawsuit

The mouthpiece of Denny Rehberg, Steve Daines and Corey Stapleton, Treasure State Politics, has reacted to the ACLU appeal for same sex domestic partnerships- and, as expected, it ain’t pretty.

In fact, it’s disgusting. Excerpt:

If the ACLU wins the suit, the legislature will be forced to create a law that ensures gay and lesbian couples are given the same rights as traditional couples. This potentially means a civil union, but to be truly treated the same they would have to be recognized as married individuals, clearly not what the people of Montana decided.

Moreover it opens the legal precedent to further compromise the sanctity of marriage in Montana. If being treated the same under the law means we must recognize gay and lesbian couples, we also must recognize polygamist marriages. If a church is willing to marry traditional couples in Montana, it could be required to marry gay and lesbian couples. But these are reasons Montanans already settled this issue in 2004.

Every Montanan has the same rights, as the constitution requires. I have the right to marry a member of the opposite sex, just as these couples do; and I have the right to be in a relationship, but not to marry, someone of the same sex, just as these couples do. There is no violation of equal treatment under the law. (emphases mine)

Gay and lesbian couples are openly- brazenly- derided as undeserving of equal rights and compared to polygamists. This is an ignorant, ridiculous piece, obviously written from a bigoted and fearful perspective. The writer  has inflamed the fears and prejudice existing in good people who may not know better- or who are entrenched in their fundamentalist beliefs.

That’s not only irresponsible, it’s despicable.

I am no threat to anyone’s marriage. My desire to commit to my partner for life is being dismissed as fundamentally invalid by people who have no possible right or understanding of my life, my biology, my spirituality, my thoughts and my emotions.

Moreover, they don’t want to even try.

They just want to frighten- and keep us unmarried, unrecognized, marginalized, sleazy and freakish in the minds of their constituents.

It’s at the root of all the anti-gay bigotry in the state. A spade is a spade.

I just wish they had the balls to admit it.

 

 

MT Democrats: Rehberg’s Long Record Of Taxpayer Handouts To CEO’s

Millionaire Congressman silent on his record of Wall Street bonuses

(and his own pay raises) in latest political stunt

Congressman Dennis Rehberg is telling Montanans today that taxpayers shouldn’t provide “seed money for bonuses for corporate fat-cats,” but his record in Congress tells a different story.

Rehberg, one of the wealthiest members of Congress, actually voted against a bill that would have barred any recipient of the 2008 Wall Street bailout from paying “unreasonable or excessive” compensation to executives [HR 1664, Vote 182, 4/01/09].

“Montanans won’t tolerate being lectured by Rep. Dennis Rehberg, a millionaire developer who opposed reforms to clean up the mess on Wall Street and make sure the financial crisis never happens again,” said Ted Dick, Executive Director of the Montana Democratic Party. “After 30 years as a politician, Congressman Rehberg has a long record of putting Wall Street ahead of Montana, and no Montanans will be fooled by his lip service.”

Congressman Rehberg has also used his power to protect government subsidies for Big Oil and offshore tax corporate shelters, the proceeds of which often go to CEO bonuses [Guardian, 3/3/11].  And he’s used taxpayer dollars to enrich himself.

“If Congressman Rehberg wants to talk about taxpayer-funded compensation, he’ll have to answer for his five votes to raise his own pay,” added Dick.

Here’s some of what Congressman Rehberg has done to funnel taxpayer dollars into CEO’s pockets, and his own:

PROTECTING BIG OIL SUBSIDIES – In February 2011, Rehberg voted against an amendment that required oil companies that hold royalty-free leases allowing them to drill for free on the public’s offshore lands to renegotiate those leases so that the public is paid the standard royalty charged for drilling. (GAO estimates that closing this loophole could save up to $53 billion over 25 years). [HR 1, House Roll Call Vote #109, 2/18/11]

PROTECTING OFFSHORE TAX SHELTERS – In 2002, Rehberg voted against an amendment to stop corporations from re-incorporating in offshore tax havens, such as Bermuda, to create shell corporations as a way to avoid paying U.S. taxes.  The amendment was defeated 186-192.  [HR 4931,Vote #247, 6/21/02]

Rehberg has voted himself a taxpayer-funded pay raise five times:

  • By $3,300 in 2006. (H RES 865, Vote #261, 6/13/06; Congressional Research Service, Salaries for Members of Congress: Congressional Votes). This pay raise was later blocked by the Democratic Congress in 2007.
  • By $3,100 in 2005.  HR 342, Vote #327, 6/28/05)
  • By $4,000 in 2004. (H Res 770, Vote #451, 9/14/04)
  • By $3,400 in 2003.  (H. Res. 351, Vote #463, 9/4/03)
  • By $4,700 in 2002. (H. Res. 488, Vote #322, 7/18/02)

 

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Contact: Chris Saeger – chriss@montanademocrats.org – 406-438-1918
PAID FOR BY THE MONTANA DEMOCRATIC PARTY;
COL. JAMES  WHEELER, U.S. ARMY (RET.), TREASURER,