Change 2.0

Official photographic portrait of US President...

Official photographic portrait of US President Barack Obama (born 4 August 1961; assumed office 20 January 2009) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I watched the President’s speech last night- and tweeted, along with thousands of others. Mostly about my philosophical agreement- and about the facts that seem so distorted by the other side.

I’m buying in to the man and his vision. Because it most agrees with my vision of social justice, economic fairness and the need to lay a firm foundation for continued growth in education, science and technology. Yeah, I’m still buying in to the hope, but I think that’s what the American Dream, the American Vision calls for. Plus, it goes along with every bit of my Christian faith perspective.

From today’s NYT:

Mr. Obama explicitly shifted from his 2008 appeal of hope and change to talk of tough choices and tough paths. “You didn’t elect me to tell you what you wanted to hear,” he said. “You elected me to tell you the truth. And the truth is, it will take more than a few years for us to solve challenges that have built up over decades.”

Mr. Obama went into this convention with an actual record at governing — not just the Republican posture of saying “No” to everything. He has far better ideas about how to create jobs, make Americans’ tax burdens more equitable and improve ordinary Americans’ economic prospects than the tired, failed trickle-down fantasies served up by Mitt Romney and the Republican Party.

He ended the war in Iraq, tried to rescue the Afghan war that Mr. Bush bungled, stepped up the offensive on terrorists far beyond Mr. Bush’s vision and rallied the world to ratchet up pressure on Iran.

He blunted the extreme message of the Tea Party by offering an alternative vision of government’s obligation to help the neediest, provide everyone with the basic structures of society and the economy and end unconscionable discrimination against gay and lesbian Americans. He has protected women’s constitutional rights and liberties, despite his own misgivings about abortion. He ordered the killing of Osama bin Laden — an act that was mentioned repeatedly on the last night of the convention.

Not that the killing of bin Laden would have been sanctioned by Jesus, but the protection of the people by the elected government is nothing to pooh-pooh.

Reverse.

So, what is my response to Mitt Romney picking a man who conveniently disregards his church’s teaching on universal healthcare and caring for the poor, doesn’t think women need protecting, doesn’t believe in hate crimes, supports banning of same-sex adoptions, wants to gut medicare and keep allowing corporations to buy elected offices in this country?

Surging US Catholic Support For Marriage Equality

By Terence Weldon, Queering The Church

Marriage Equality USA logo

Marriage Equality USA logo (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

New research by the Pew Forum on religion and public life has confirmed once again that the tide of opinion is moving inexorably in favour of gay marriage. In 2oo4, supporters were outnumbered by opponents, by almost two to one (30% to 61%), but supporters now outnumber opponents, by 48% to 44%.  The age split confirms that support will continue to grow: the only groups still opposed are those over 50, and the youngest is in favour by 63% to 32%.  All this is familiar.

What is new in this poll, is its focus on the impact of President Obama’s declared support last May for the principle of marriage equality. Overall, Pew reports that there has been very little change in support since before the announcement – but that it has strengthened support in his Democratic base, and hardened opposition among his Republican opponents. This shift among Democratic voters (especially liberal Democrats) could have a beneficial impact on the gay marriage ballots this November in the Democratic and Democratic leaning states of Maine, Maryland, Washington and Minnesota, and has been widely reported on in the major news media (see for instance,Huffington PostSF Gate at the San Francisco Chronicle, or Seattle Post PI).

The strength of the Pew Forum research organization, as its name implies, is in its focus on religion and religious attitudes, and the extensive historical database of strictly comparable results, which is what I want to focus on here.

Catholics strongly support gay marriage.

First, note that Catholic overwhelmingly support gay marriage, by 58% to 33% – a margin of 25%, and identical for both White and Hispanic Catholic groups. This degree of support is greater than that shown by any other Christian grouping (Jews and other faiths are not identified), it is substantially higher than that for the population as a whole).

This degree of support by Catholics, exceeding that for other groups, has now been well – established in numerous polls. It has also been previously noted that the growth in Catholic support has exceeded that in other groups. Just how dramatic that growth has been, can be seen by comparing the latest results with those from August / September 2010.  Then, Catholic support for gay marriage was at 46% –  a plurality over opposition of just 4%. That plurality has now grown from 4% to 25%, in less than two years.

 Read the rest here.

Why Romney Won’t Repeal Obamacare

Mitt Romney Steve Pearce event 056

Mitt Romney Steve Pearce event 056 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Just as I suspected. If Mitt Romney wants to (as he claims) overturn Obamacare, it’s going to cost the taxpayers billions of dollars to rollback the healthcare changes already underway. Not to mention the debt cliff that he will need the cooperation of Democrats to negotiate.

Ryan Lizza from the New Yorker:

Mitt Romney, speaking just before noon today, declared that on his first day in office, “I will act to repeal Obamacare.” I think he chose his words carefully. As President, he may indeed “act” to repeal it on Day One, but I don’t believe he will actually be able to overturn the law.

If Romney were to win in November, the first matter he’d have to deal with would be the fallout from the so-called fiscal cliff of December 31st, the day when some five hundred billion dollars worth of tax increases and spending reductions take effect, which could put the economy into another recession (if it’s not already in recession by then). This moment would perhaps be Romney’s greatest chance at repeal. Because the fiscal-cliff negotiations will be an enormous fight over the size and scope of the federal government, every government policy will theoretically be open to debate—including, Romney might insist, repeal of the A.C.A.

But it’s a fantasy. The negotiations would be dead before they started if Republicans demanded repeal as a price for a Grand Bargain on taxes, spending, and entitlements. The fiscal-cliff negotiations will undoubtedly include a great deal of horse-trading that will infuriate and cheer partisans on both sides. But there is literally nothing Republicans could offer Democrats in return for repealing the Party’s greatest achievement since the Johnson Administration.

The reality of the huge (enormous) cost of repeal will pull the bloom off the rose PDQ. It’s insanity.

Read the rest: http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/newsdesk/2012/06/why-romney-wont-repeal-obamacare.html#ixzz1zr4S7Yoi

Marriage Equality And Montana

…John S Adams has an excellent article about it in the Great Falls Tribune. I loved how he brought attention to the Republican Platform Plank:

Republican Rep. Denny Rehberg, who challenging Democratic Sen. Jon Tester in one of the nation’s most closely watch U.S. Senate races, reiterated his opposition to same-sex marriage.

“Montana’s state constitution says ‘Only a marriage between one man and one woman shall be valid or recognized as a marriage in this state,’ and I agree,” Rehberg said in a statement.

Rehberg’s position is in keeping with a plank in the Montana Republican Party’s official platform which states that Montana Republicans “support the clear will of the people of Montana expressed by legislation to keep homosexual acts illegal.”

The Montana GOP adopted that language after the Montana Supreme Court in 1997 struck down a state law making so-called “deviant sexual conduct” a felony punishable by up to 10 years in prison and a fine up to $50,000.

Legislative Republicans have repeatedly blocked attempts to remove that language from the Montana Code.

The 2011 session marked the first time an effort to repeal the unenforceable language from state law passed a legislative chamber, passing in the Senate but then dying in the House Judiciary Committee.

Read the full article (starring my pal, Jamee Greer) here.

My Dissent Explained

Last week, I posted about my disappointment with Steve Bullock’s position on marriage equality- and there were several comments here, on other blogs and on Twitter debating whether we (progressives) could afford to not get behind the presumed Democratic nominee.

I simply want to say here, as I have in some responses on other platforms, that I am responding in the spirit of creative dissent. I am not going to lean back, say “Oh well, maybe someday he’ll get it,” act like nothing happened and proceed with business as usual. I’ve come too far- we’ve come too far- to do that.

When I moved back to Montana I made myself a promise- that I would never lie about or be ashamed of my thoughts, feelings or beliefs- even when they were unpopular or provocative. I also promised that, as a middle-aged gay man, I would do everything I could to ensure the continued, progressively advancing sense of dignity for all LGBT persons in the state of Montana. I’ve dealt with too many suicidal kids, too many disowned sons and daughters, too many shame-filled, damaged people to trust that politicians will, on their own, work to protect us.

They have to be convinced. And in order to do that, we first have to get their attention.

Looks like we did. Now, until something further is done, I’m voting for the candidate who most represents my views, just as everyone should. I’m against the death penalty, want women to make their own choices about their health, support legal recognition of same-sex relationship recognition/protection, and am a fan of higher education and preserving a clean planet. I want healthcare and insurance companies to be reasonable and efficient- and treat people with mental illness and substance issues with dignity and respect. I want the justice system to be fair to all citizens. I want church and state to be separate. I want the poor and disadvantaged to be given every chance to succeed.

I’m also a big fan of dialog, not diatribe. And dialog is about the expression of opinion, listening and responding accordingly. That’s all I hoped to accomplish. I am not out to derail the Democratic Party- and I will absolutely vote for the Democrat for Governor in the fall. The alternatives are too creepy to think about. I just wanted to be heard on behalf of the thousands of LGBT Montanans in this state- many of whom hold my views.

That’s all.

Now, about that Republican platform plank….

Steve Bullock Just Lost My Vote

Here’s why. From an article in Montana’s Lee newspapers on gubernatorial candidates and social issues:

The nine candidates were asked whether they favored changing Montana’s constitution to allow gay couples and lesbian couples to marry.

Miller opposed such a change, noting that 67 percent of Montanans voted in 2004 to say that “only a marriage between one man and one woman shall be valid or recognized as a marriage in this state.”

Hill, Livingston and Lynch, all Republicans, said, “I believe marriage is between one man and one woman.”

Bullock said, “I do not favor changing the constitution but would support legislative measures giving committed same-sex couples the opportunity to be together, free from discrimination.” This would include allowing a person to visit his or her partner in the hospital, he said.

Stapleton said he would oppose amending the constitution for that purpose, adding, “I think it’s healthy we support and cherish the traditional family.”

O’Hara said he would not change the constitution, adding: “I think our constitution adequately protects the lives of Montanans.”

Fanning said the ban on gay marriage should stand: “I believe that the sanctity of the family is the core of our society.”

Standing alone among all candidates, Margolis said it makes simple common sense to change the Montana Constitution to allow gay or lesbian couples to marry or form civil unions.

“The Montana Constitution guarantees fair and equal treatment to all people,” she said. “People should not be discriminated against, including gay and lesbian couples.”

I have to say I’m very disappointed in Steve Bullock. Ironically, he apparently is unaware of the pain and suffering of LGBT persons in his state because of legislative discrimination (including a sodomy law still on the books)- or he’s unwilling to acknowledge us in the face of staying safe and winning votes. Barack Obama, on the other hand, has done some amazing things, like already (2 years ago) extending LGBT partner visitation rights in most hospitals. What has Steve Bullock done for us lately ever? Not much. I’m taking the Bullock sticker off of my car.

At this point, my primary vote is going to Margolis.

Yeah, it’s that important.

Update: My Dissent Explained

HT:JG
Read more: http://missoulian.com/news/state-and-regional/most-in-gop-governor-s-race-want-to-restrict-abortion/article_4988a480-9338-11e1-ab41-0019bb2963f4.html#ixzz1tikfD2MI

Rehberg Taking Heat For Big Spending- From A Republican

From The Montana Democrats:

Multimillionaire Congressman Dennis Rehberg’s GOP primary opponent is raising some legitimate questions about the 11-year Congressman’s history of irresponsible government spending and power grabs.

According to the Lee Newspapers, Dennis Teske is frustrated that,

“Rehberg has voted for unconstitutional expansions of government power, like the Patriot Act in 2001, and plenty of government spending.”

Mr. Teske is right — Congressman Rehberg not only supported the Patriot Act twice, he co-sponsored his own controversial bill to give Homeland Security total “operational control” over the 100 northernmost miles of Montana.  Named the number one earmarker in the Tea Party Caucus, Congressman Rehberg also voted to raise the debt ceiling 10 times.

Congressman Rehberg has been of part the problem in Washington for 11 long years,” said Ted Dick, Executive Director of the Montana Democratic Party.  “Montanans of all stripes are right to be upset with Congressman Rehberg’s support for the Patriot Act and his hypocrisy on the debt.  Unfortunately, playing games with our freedoms and tax dollars is part of the culture in Washington, and Congressman Rehberg is too out of touch to put Montana first.

Here’s more:

HOMELAND SECURITY LAND GRAB:  Congressman Rehberg is sponsoring a bill that “would give the secretary of homeland security total operational authority over all federal lands within 100 miles of the U.S. international and maritime borders” [Great Falls Tribune, 9/21/11].  Critics said the bill was “exactly the kind of big government Montanans don’t tolerate” [Missoulian, 9/28/11].

REAL ID:  In 2005 Congressman Rehberg praised a plan to force all Montanans to get government ID cards saying, “something states should have been doing all along”  [Rehberg Press Release,5/6/05].

PATRIOT ACT:  Congressman Rehberg has long supported the controversial Patriot Act, something Jon Tester has consistently opposed  [HR 2975, Vote 386, 10/12/01; HR 3162, Vote 398, 10/24/01; HR 3199, Vote 414, 07/21/05; HR 3199, Vote 627, 12/14/05; S 2271, Vote 20, 03/07/06, HR 514, House Roll Call Vote 29, 2/10/11].

TEA PARTY’S TOP EARMARKER:  According to the watchdog group Citizens Against Government Waste, Congressman Rehberg  “takes the prize as the Tea Partier with his name on the most earmarks” [National Journal, 12/2/10].

10 VOTES TO RAISE THE DEBT CEILING:  

  1. [S. 627, House Roll Call Vote #677, 7/29/2011]
  2. [HR 2560, House Roll Call Vote #606, 7/19/2011]
  3. [HCR376, Vote #158, 5/18/06]
  4. [HR 4297, Vote 67, 3/16/06; CQ, 3/16/06]
  5. [CRS, The Debt Limit: History and Recent Increases, 1/10; HCR95, Vote #149, 214-211, 4/28/05]
  6. [HRS 683, Vote 280, 6/22/04; CQ Today, 6/23/04; AP, 6/22/04]
  7. [SCR 95, Vote #198, 5/19/04]
  8. [S 2986, Vote 536, 11/18/04; Washington Post, 11/19/04]
  9. [CRS, The Debt Limit: History and Recent Increases, 1/10; HCR95, Vote #141, 216-211,4/11/03]
  10. [Congressional Research Service; S 2578, Vote 279, 06/27/02]

“Top 10 GOP Attacks On Women’s Health”

Want some facts regarding women’s health issues and the GOP? The Montana  Democrats break it down:

One of the symbols of German Women's movement ...

One of the symbols of German Women's movement (from the 1970s) Deutsch: Ein Logo der deutschen Frauenbewegung (aus den 70er Jahren) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

National political observers have coined the term “War on Women” to describe Republican attacks on women’s health, ranging from plans to block access to contraception to massive cuts to cancer screening services.

But here in Montana, Republicans’ War on Women is far from a recent development.  In Congress, Dennis Rehberg has a long record irresponsible decisions on women’s health, and Republicans in the state legislature have been with him every step of the way, even going so far as to compare women to animals.  (Yesreally.)

To bring the story home, here are Montana Republicans’ Top Ten most extreme attacks on women’s health:  

10.  In Washington, Congressman Rick Hill voted multiple times to gut funding for access to contraception [Roll Call 290, HR4101, July 16, 1998 + Roll Call 493, HR4104, October 7, 1998 + Roll Call 494, HR4104, October 7, 1998].

9. Congressman Rehberg has earned the support of Foster Fries, the billionaire donor who said women use “asprin between their knees” as birth control.

8. Republican legislators pushed a bill to force women to view ultrasounds. Women’s health advocates called the measure an “offensive intrusion.”

7. Congressman Rehberg has been exposed by women’s health advocates for not understanding how funding for women’s health services works .

6.  Congressman Rehberg has voted against the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, which aims to make sure women are paid equally with men.  [Vote 768, 7/31/07; Vote 37, 1/27/09; CQ Votes]

5.  State Rep. Keith Regier compared pregnant women to “preg-tested” cattle during a discussion about family planning.

4.  In his first campaign for Congress, Hill attacked his opponent Nancy Keenan for being a single woman without children, though Keenan was unable to have children due to health reasons.

3.  Congressman Rehberg wrote two bills in the last year that would have completely ended funding for Title X, which helps women access preventative care like cancer screenings.

2.  When law student Sandra Fluke testified in opposition to plans to block access to contraception, state Rep. Krayon Kerns compared her to to a breeding dog.

1. Congressman Hill and Congressman Rehberg both want to let women pay higher health insurance premiums than men.

(For his part, Congressman Rehberg voted to overturn the law in the state legislature in the 1980s. [3r, HB 519, 2/18/87, House Final Status; and 1987 Women’s Lobbyist Fund News]  Congressman Hill used to profit off insurance premiums as an insurance company executive.)

Gallatin County Democrats Fundraiser Raises Some Great Questions

Sunday night I attended the Gallatin County Democrats Grand Opening Fundraiser at their new headquarters on Mendenhall in Bozeman. It was a great potluck- and crowded- which bodes well for the future of Democratic candidates in Bozeman this year.

Each candidate was allowed some time to speak. Pam Bucy and Monica Lindeen– both of whom I strongly support- shared energy, enthusiasm and common sense. They both need to be elected, in my very humble opinion.

I came to hear the Congressional candidates. I needed to see them and hear them in person. Their speeches were limited to 3 minutes, but all 4  had something important to say- mostly in contraposition to the Republican policy. Kim Gillan spoke about the need to control our own destinies. Franke Wilmer showcased her brilliant career as an academic and as an effective (as a Democrat could be last term) Montana Legislator. Dave Strohmaier shared a vision of the future which relied on non-discrimination (including LGBT persons!), progressive principles and conviction. And then there was Rob Stutz.

Stutz started by talking about taking back the Constitution- both federal and state- from the “hijack tactics of the Tea Party”. Excellent. And enthusiastic applause followed. Then he said something that made me stop.

“We have to have a plan to win in November. Do Democrats have a plan? We can’t wait until after the primary- we need a plan now!”

Like I said, I stopped. All of the ideas that were shared by the candidates were excellent ideas. The rhetoric was high. The enthusiasm inspiring. But Stutz is right. Where’s the plan? Because all the good ideas in the world don’t mean anything without a plan.

And without a plan, November could be disastrous for Democrats.