Cebull Resignation Petitions Pepper The Internet- And They Should

Photo from The Missoulian

So far, I’ve found five petitions circulating the internet asking Federal Judge Richard Cebull to resign for his poor judgment in circulating a racially charged email about Barack Obama, his mother- and a bestiality party. Three on Change.org alone. I signed them all.

Why am I still harping on this? Well, to quote The Boston Globe,

Should a single joke, even a deeply, shockingly insensitive one, doom an entire career? Even if it’s merely forwarded on a computer, rather than spoken aloud? A good answer is: only if biases expressed in the joke are reflected in a broader assessment of the joke-teller. That’s why Congress should investigate Chief US District Judge Richard Cebull of Montana, who admitted to passing along a joke whose punchline suggested President Obama was fathered by a dog. Criminal defendants, victims, and litigants need to know that they are being viewed fairly, as individuals, when they come before this judge.

And to buttress, The New York Times:

His dislike of the president is so strong, apparently, he could not resist the urge to violate his ethical duty to avoid intemperate conduct that suggests racial and political bias and an appearance, at least, of impropriety. Although Judge Cebull did not intend for his e-mail to become public, his use of a government computer and an official e-mail account to spread the hateful message removes any claim that his action was purely private.

At Judge Cebull’s request, the Judicial Council of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals will now consider whether and to what degree to discipline him. It has the power, if it chooses, to reprimand him and temporarily suspend him from hearing cases.

It should not be necessary for the appeals court to do that. Judge Cebull has forfeited the trust Americans need to have in the impartiality and judgment of members of the federal bench. He should resign.

And finally, to quote reader Sara Walsh in The Great Falls Tribune’s comment thread on the story,

Cebull doesn’t get many opportunities to show his racism in Montana, which is 89.4 percent Caucasian, with only 0.4 percent of the non-Caucasians being black. But when you ridicule someone for who they are based on their lineage, which they have no control over, rather than for their actions, that’s racism/discrimination.

That’s why.

Just in case you haven’t had a chance to sign these petitions- and lest the fire die down- I thought I’d list them all here for your convenience.

You’re welcome.

Quote Of The Day- Maureen Dowd

From her column on the lackluster Republican Candidates:

In an interview with ABC News’s George Stephanopoulos, Santorum offended the Catholics he’s courting by saying that the J.F.K. speech ratifying the separation of church and state made him want “to throw up” because Kennedy had thrown “his faith under the bus.”

“I don’t believe in an America where the separation of church and state are absolute,” Sanctorum said.

If he is willing to cross that line, the only two possibilities are that he doesn’t understand the nature of the United States or that he wants to do damage to the United States. Neither is acceptable.

Who Benefits Most From Federal Dollars? Red States

Some of the memes of rural Republicans include: “the government is taxing us to death,” “we’re paying for other people’s programs” “where’s the benefit to the working man person?”.  Tea Party protests against government are being held on sidewalks, streets and in parks designed, paid for, cleaned and lit  by- you guessed it- the very taxes they’re protesting. Irony is begging for attention here.

Especially- according to the following article- in the red states:

It’s no secret: The federal budget is expanding faster than tax revenues, a trend that’s been fueled by the rapid growth of entitlement programs and exacerbated by the recession. As a recent New York Times article documents, even as fiscally conservative lawmakers complain about deficit spending, their constituents don’t want to give up the Social Security checks, Medicare

benefits, and earned income tax credits that provide a safety net for the struggling middle class…

States receiving the most federal funding per tax dollar paid:

R >20 R 10–20 R 3–10 R <3 to D <3 D 3–10 D 10–...

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1. New Mexico: $2.63
2. West Virginia: $2.57
3. Mississippi: $2.47
4. District of Colombia: $2.41
5. Hawaii: $2.38
6. Alabama: $2.03
7. Alaska: $1.93
8. Montana: $1.92
9. South Carolina: $1.92
10. Maine: $1.78

Read the full article (with interactive maps) here.

Sound Familiar?

To Montana LGBT folks it does.

The New York Times is reporting that despite being unenforceable, irrelevant and ridiculously out of date, Kansas sodomy laws are being kept on the books by Governor Sam Brownback. Excerpt:

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Gov. Sam Brownback created the Office of the Repealer to recommend the elimination of out-of-date, unreasonable and burdensome state laws that build up in any bureaucracy over time.

For gay men and lesbians, there seemed one particularly obvious candidate: Kansas Statute 21-3505.

That would be the “criminal sodomy” statute, which prohibits same-sex couples from engaging in oral or anal sex. The law was rendered unenforceable nearly a decade ago by a United States Supreme Court ruling, but it remains enshrined in the state’s legal code.

But on Friday, when Mr. Brownback, a conservative Republican, released a list of 51 laws to recommend to the Legislature for repeal, the sodomy statute was not among them.

The decision, despite public and private lobbying, has angered gay leaders here. “We were pretty much the first in line with our request to have this unconstitutional ban on gay and lesbian relations repealed,” said Thomas Witt, chairman of the Kansas Equality Coalition.

“This isn’t just some archaic law that’s sitting on the books and isn’t bothering anyone,” Mr. Witt continued. “It’s used as justification to harass and discriminate against people, and it needs to go.”

Mr. Brownback, who is a vocal opponent of same-sex marriage on religious grounds, declined to comment, and his spokeswoman would not say whether he would support repealing the law against same-sex sodomy, a misdemeanor that officially carries a prison sentence of up to six months.

This is familiar, because the Montana Legislature did the exact same thing last session, refusing to remove an anachronistic, irrelevant law from the books– ostensibly to shame and vilify LGBT persons.

It’s simple hate, bigotry and discrimination. As I’ve said before, these Christianist conservatives don’t give a shit about human rights, they don’t give a shit about science and they don’t give a shit about gay people.

The only cool thing about this is that the tide of public opinion is steadily going against actions like these– making the case that these bigots are out of touch with the common sense of the American people, and will soon be anachronistic and irrelevant themselves.

Full NYT story here.

The Catholic Hierarchy: “Suffer The Little Children.”

Illinois Catholic bishops are taking their ball and going home in the face of federal non-discrimination requirements for foster care and adoption. The New York Times:

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Roman Catholic bishops in Illinois have shuttered most of the Catholic Charities affiliates in the state rather than comply with a new requirement that says they must consider same-sex couples as potential foster-care and adoptive parents if they want to receive state money. The charities have served for more than 40 years as a major link in the state’s social service network for poor and neglected children.

The bishops have followed colleagues in Washington, D.C., and Massachusetts who had jettisoned their adoption services rather than comply with nondiscrimination laws.

The vilification of LGBT persons by the hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church is quickly becoming hysterical paranoia. What I find interesting is that it flies in the face of most of the opinions of people in the pews as well as the experience of many of the clergy and bishops themselves. They know gay people, they minister to gay people, and- I know this from personal experience- many of them are gay people.

Yet, this real-life, personal experience has no credibility in the face of freakishly ideological edicts from Rome. It’s absolutely backward. The experience of the people is supposed to form the church, form the hierarchy.

Not to mention the disregard for social and biological science. This is a church that would rather let the little children suffer. It saddens me.

Where’s the love, people?

Read the full story here

Remembering Fatal Homophobia

In an excellent Op-Ed in the New York Times this morning, we are reminded that homophobia isn’t simple ignorance- in some parts of the world- as in the author’s Uganda- it’s fatal:

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The way I see it, homophobia — not homosexuality — is the toxic import. Thanks to the absurd ideas peddled by American fundamentalists, we are constantly forced to respond to the myth — debunked long ago by scientists — that homosexuality leads to pedophilia. For years, the Christian right in America has exported its doctrine to Africa, and, along with it, homophobia. In Uganda, American evangelical Christians even held workshops and met with key officials to preach their message of hate shortly before a bill to impose the death penalty for homosexual conduct was introduced in Uganda’s Parliament in 2009. Two years later, despite my denunciation of all forms of child exploitation, David Bahati, the legislator who introduced the bill, as well as Foreign Minister Henry Okello Oryem and other top government officials, still don’t seem to grasp that being gay doesn’t equate to being a pedophile.

Please read the rest here.

New York Times: Expanding HIV Treatment Necessary And Overdue

This hasn’t taken that long.

I’m blaming Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama.

The news that HIV treatment is prevention has taken a remarkably short time to hit the mainstream media, and it’s due to Secretary Clinton’s address to the NIH last month, and the President of The United States.

The NYT:

President Barack Obama announces a new compreh...

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Important new findings show that very early treatment of people infected with H.I.V. enhances their health and greatly lessens the likelihood that they will spread the virus that causes AIDS. We welcome the Obama administration’s announcement of a farsighted effort to treat millions more infected people abroad, especially in sub-Saharan Africa.

The administration expects that the expanded treatments can be paid for with existing resources, by pushing for greater efficiencies and more financing from recipient nations. But if that effort stalls, the administration should re-evaluate quickly whether to ask Congress for money.

… Mr. Obama also announced that he would commit an additional $50 million in this country in fiscal year 2012 to help pay for treatments at AIDS clinics and in-state programs that provide AIDS drugs to people who can’t afford them. The money may be drawn from $1 billion available through the health care reform law.

Working to get these changes made legislatively have proven impossible in a Republican-owned House and a Republican-bullied Senate- especially when it involves the health of gay and bisexual men- so policy and administrative action were required. And by beginning to make testing and immediate treatment for HIV routine, medical practices are established that will be hard to take back.

An estimated 1.2 million Americans were infected with the virus at latest count, of whom 240,000 people are unaware. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention started a campaign last week to increase testing with special emphasis on warning black gay and bisexual men, whose infection rates have been soaring, to get tested and treated.

Meanwhile, the New York City Health Department became the second (after San Francisco’s) to recommend doctors offer drug therapy immediately to every person diagnosed as infected, instead of waiting for the virus to damage their immune systems. The city has made enormous strides in testing, treating and cutting the number of new infections. Some 110,000 infected residents are under treatment; aggressive testing might find another 2,500 immediately and perhaps 500 a year thereafter.

The investments here and abroad should pay off in the long run by reducing the number of people infected and easing the severity of illnesses.

Thanks to you both.

 

Unpacking “Class Warfare”

Whether you believe that asking those with more to share a greater part of the public burden is socialism or simply good citizenship, you can’t deny that there are heated feelings on the topic. I am of the persuasion that greed and selfishness- if further assisted by government, will be the demise of this country.

Paul Krugman has some excellent points in today’s New York Times. Among them:

As background, it helps to know what has been happening to incomes over the past three decades. Detailed estimates from the Congressional Budget Office — which only go up to 2005, but the basic picture surely hasn’t changed — show that between 1979 and 2005 the inflation-adjusted income of families in the middle of the income distribution rose 21 percent. That’s growth, but it’s slow, especially compared with the 100 percent rise in median income over a generation after World War II.

Meanwhile, over the same period, the income of the very rich, the top 100th of 1 percent of the income distribution, rose by 480 percent. No, that isn’t a misprint. In 2005 dollars, the average annual income of that group rose from $4.2 million to $24.3 million.

So do the wealthy look to you like the victims of class warfare?

….On one side, we have the claim that the rising share of taxes paid by the rich shows that their burden is rising, not falling. To point out the obvious, the rich are paying more taxes because they’re much richer than they used to be. When middle-class incomes barely grow while the incomes of the wealthiest rise by a factor of six, how could the tax share of the rich not go up, even if their tax rate is falling?

Full story here.

Colbert’s SuperPAC

…made the New York Times today. In case you don’t know what I’m talking about, Stephen Colbert, of Comedy Central’s Colbert Report has formed a SuperPac:

 Citizens for a Better Tomorrow, Tomorrow may be a running gag on “The Colbert Report” on Comedy Central, but it is spending money as it sees fit, with little in the way of disclosure, just like its noncomedic brethren.

Comedians, including Mr. Colbert in the last election, have undertaken faux candidacies. But his Super PAC riff is a real-world exercise, engaging in a kind of modeling by just doing what Super PACs do.

And he has come under some real-world criticism for inserting himself in the political process so directly. Mr. Colbert, who lampoons conservative talk show hosts by pretending to be one, is now making fun of Super PACs by actually forming one. His committee spent money on advertising in Iowa during the run-up to the Ames straw poll, which took place Aug. 13. It’s as though Jonathan Swift took his satirical suggestion about Irish babies one step further and actually cooked one.

At first blush, it seemed to be one more skirmish in the culture wars: East Coast funnyman uses his fan base to pay for satirical commercials, implicitly demeaning the Ames straw poll in specific, and Iowa in general. Mr. Colbert suggested that all the soft-money ads with their soft-focus shots of rural tableaus were exposing the children of Iowa to “cornography.” But the folkways being criticized belonged to the Beltway, not the Corn Belt.

“I am much taken by this and can’t think of any real parallel in history,” said Stephen Hess of the Brookings Institution. “Yes, comedians have always told jokes about elections, but this is quite different. This is a funny person being very serious, actually talking about process. What comedian talks about process?”

That’s what makes this guy one of my heroes…

While most of the rest of the news media continue to cover the coming election with long-running tropes — whose horse is ahead and who has the most loot? — Mr. Colbert has taken the equivalent of a political homework assignment and sprinkled a little silly sauce on top, and people seem happy to dig in.

Read the rest here.