By Doug Porter
At least nobody’s been arrested with hookers yet.
That’s the good news coming out of the national GOP quarterly confab going on in Hollywood, Taxifornia this weekend.
The bad news is that it appears as though the Party faithful are going to reaffirm the party’s official position that marriage should be solely between one man and one woman.
It is expected to pass overwhelmingly, proving that evangelicals and social conservatives are still a force to be reckoned with, despite pleas from establishment leaders to focus on party mechanics and stay away from social issues likely to generate negative impressions for the party.
The opposition to gay marriage was included in the platform that passed at last summer’s national convention, but those pressing for a vote say it’s a response to the so-called “autopsy” report released last month by a task force appointed by RNC Chairman Reince Priebus.
That report said some voters see this as “the civil rights issue of our time.”
But the social conservatives at the national GOP quarterly meeting saw gay marriage as a litmus issue, threatening to withhold financial support. From The Hill:
The president of the Family Research Council, a top religious political group, said Thursday night that conservative activists should withhold their political donations to Republicans until the party decides where it will stand on social issues.
Tony Perkins, in an email sent to his supporters, criticized the Republican National Committee over a report released last month that suggested the party should reconsider its messaging on same-sex marriage to appeal to younger voters.
“Instead of trying to appease millennials, Republicans should try educating them on why marriage matters,” Perkins wrote. “There’s an entire group of ‘Countercultural Warriors’ full of compelling young leaders who are all going to the mat to protect marriage.”
More GOP Re-Branding #Fail – Gays Are “Filthy”
Here’s a story about one of the GOP’s leaders making the rounds, via the Washington Post:
Michigan Republican National Committeeman Dave Agema, who caused a stir last month when he posted an article to his Facebook page that labeled the homosexual lifestyle as “filthy,” is now comparing homosexuality to alcoholism and says it leads to drug abuse.
Appearing on Family Research Council head Tony Perkins’s radio show Wednesday, Agema stressed that he doesn’t hate gay people, but that the religious community has an obligation to educate them about the hazards of their lifestyle.
“We want you to know the facts of what’s going to happen to you if you stay in this lifestyle,” Agema said. “And study after study after study talks about all the diseases you get, how it just gets you into drugs, it gets you into all these other things that you don’t want to be in. So if you really love someone, if you really are concerned about someone, if you saw your friend for example dying of alcoholism, would you just stand quietly by and watch it happen?”
UPDATE: Anti Gay Marriage Measure Passed Unanimously
From Swampland Blog at Time:
The Republican National Committee voted unanimously Friday to reaffirm the party’s commitment to upholding the definition of marriage as between one man and one woman, upending party efforts to grow support among younger voters.
A resolution introduced Wednesday by Michigan committeeman Dave Agema, who came under fire last month for posting an article describing gays as “filthy” on his Facebook page, passed the full RNC by a voice vote and without debate. A second resolution reaffirming “core values” of the party — including opposition to same-sex marriage — was also passed.
RNC officials collected the resolutions, which were opposed privately by some committee members, together with a resolution honoring Ron Paul and another calling for a sustained investment in the U.S. space program — an effort to avoid debate on the floor.
‘So-Called’ Hispanic Voters
Republicans are continuing their minority outreach efforts this month by introducing a bill outlawing Spanish and other non-English languages from being used in federal documents.
Rep. Steve King (R-IA), most recently in the headlines after attacking President Obama’s young daughters for going on vacation, introduced the English Language Unity Act in the House earlier this month, along with Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-OK) in the Senate. As King notes on his website, the bill would require “all official functions of the United States to be conducted in English.” Federal and state governments print thousands of documents every year, many of which are translated into other languages besides English.
One major impact King’s bill could have is to stop the decades-long practice of printing non-English ballots in areas where there’s a significant non-English language group. Indeed, Section 203 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 currently requires local jurisdictions with a substantial number of non-English speakers to allow them to vote in other languages.
And some don’t even think appealing to Latino voters is worthwhile:
Rep. Tim Huelskamp (R-KS) took issue with his party’s attempt to win over Latino voters after the drubbing it took in the 2012 election.
“[It’s] very discouraging,” Huelskamp told conservative radio host Steve Deace on Tuesday, that Republicans are trying “to win votes from the so-called ‘Hispanic voter.’” The conservative congressman argued that trying to persuade Latino voters to become Republicans was “very distracting” because their policy preferences are too disparate.
UT-SD Article on Anti-Immigrant Coalition Gets National Notice
Washington DC based Media Matters yesterday called out our local daily for failing to notice the connections between the newly formed ‘San Diegans for Secure Borders Coalition’ with nativist and rightwing extremist organizations.
UT-San Diego ran an article announcing the group’s formation, saying only that San Diego resident Jeff Schwilk was among the founders. Former US Attorney Peter Nunez was identified as a member of the coalition.
From the Media Matters account:
However, the newspaper did not note that many of the people highlighted in its story have a connection to nativist and former Minutemen groups. Nunez is the board chairman for the anti-immigrant nativist group, the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS). CIS is part of the John Tanton network of anti-immigrant nativist groups, which include the hate group the Federation for American Immigration Reform and NumbersUSA. CIS Executive Director Mark Krikorian is known for making derogatory remarks about Muslims and the American-born children of immigrants.
The coalition’s founder Jeff Schwilk was “the hot-tempered leader of the San Diego Minutemen (SDMM), a nativist extremist organization with a reputation for violent confrontations and crude insults,” according to the Southern Poverty Law Center. In 2009, Schwilk was ordered to pay $135,000 to a Korean-American civil rights activist who filed a defamation lawsuit after the SDMM circulated photos of her and referred to her in derogatory and racist terms.
In addition, Schwilk’s group physically intimidated people they suspected of being undocumented immigrants:
On Saturday mornings, when they travel to the sleepy suburban gas stations where immigrant day laborers go to find work, they create scenes that would play well in a show called “Nativists Gone Wild.” They call immigrants “wetbacks” and “Julios.” They pull out Mace and threaten passing motorists who disagree with them. Calling those who hire day laborers “slavemasters,” they’ve been known to slap flashing amber police lights on their SUVs and chase the would-be employers down. When they’re not busy physically intimidating migrants, they take to the airwaves and the Internet to accuse them, without a shred of evidence, of running child prostitution rings and practicing “voodoo Santeria rituals.”
Education ‘Reformer’ Michelle Rhee Gets Some Unwanted Exposure
Public Broadcasting’s education reporter John Merrow has published a detailed (and heavily footnoted) account that should put to rest any questions about just how involved education reformer Michelle Rhee was in covering up a cheating scandal as Chancellor of DC public schools.
Despite ongoing questions about her record, Rhee has emerged as one of the most public figures in so-called school reform circles. Twenty five states have adopted her ‘produce or else’ test-score based system of evaluating teachers, and she continues to attract large donations from what Diane Ravitch calls ‘the billionaire boys club’.
Here’s some money quotes, although you really should read the whole article:
Michelle A. Rhee, America’s most famous school reformer, was fully aware of the extent of the problem when she glossed over what appeared to be widespread cheating during her first year as Schools Chancellor in Washington, DC. A long-buried confidential memo from her outside data consultant suggests that the problem was far more serious than kids copying off other kids’ answer sheets. (“191 teachers representing 70 schools”). Twice in just four pages the consultant suggests that Rhee’s own principals, some of whom she had hired, may have been responsible (“Could the erasures in some cases have been done by someone other than the students and the teachers?”).
Michelle Rhee had to decide whether to investigate aggressively or not. She had publicly promised to make all decisions “in the best interests of children,” and a full-scale investigation would seem to keep that pledge. If cheating were proved, she could fire the offenders and see that students with false scores received the remedial attention they needed. Failing to investigate might be interpreted as a betrayal of children’s interests–if it ever became public knowledge.
It’s easy to see how not trying to find out who had done the erasing–burying the problem–was better for Michelle Rhee personally, at least in the short term. She had just handed out over $1.5 million in bonuses in a well-publicized celebration of the test increases. She had been praised by presidential candidates Obama and McCain in their October debate, and she must have known that she was soon to be on the cover of Time Magazine. The public spectacle of an investigation of nearly half of her schools would have tarnished her glowing reputation, especially if the investigators proved that adults cheated–which seems likely given that their jobs depended on raising test scores.
News Items Ignored Locally- Part One
While the news media has engaged in banter over Jay-Z and Beyonce’s trip to Cuba (was it a vacation? Who cares?), there’s much more serious stuff going on 90 miles south of Miami. You’d have to read the British press to understand that there is a serious situation going on a Guantanamo Bay.
Let’s set the scene with a quote from an article in the Guardian last week:
Eighty-six prisoners – more than half of the remaining population – have been cleared for release by the Obama administration. But Congress has imposed draconian restrictions on the president’s ability to transfer these prisoners to other countries. The president has regrettably yielded to these restrictions. Earlier this year, the administration shut down the office it had established to implement his order to close Guantánamo, signaling that the president has effectively abandoned his promise.
A hunger strike provides detainees with a way to reassert some measure of control over their own lives. By refusing to eat, they force the world to recognize their existence and humanity and to confront the reality of their continued imprisonment. Legal rulings can be rationalized or ignored in a way that a dying prisoner cannot.
The latest hunger strike demonstrates that the problem of indefinite detention will not disappear, even if courts grow silent. It underscores – more powerfully than any legal brief can – that the only solution to Guantánamo lies in charging the remaining prisoners with a crime or setting them free.
While there are stories in the media today about emails to defense lawyers for detainees being purloined by the government, the situation down there worsens. From the Guardian:
The news comes as fresh details emerge about conditions at the camp from lawyers visiting clients, letters being written by inmates and phone calls from inside the prison.
They describe dramatic weight loss among many of the hunger strikers, force-feeding, putting protesters in isolation and at least one suicide attempt – though that has been denied by military authorities.
News Items Ignored Locally- Part Two
The ExxonMobile Pegasus pipeline running through Arkansas developed a 22 foot rupture a couple of weeks ago, releasing between 200,000 and 420,000 gallons of heavy oil and causing the evacuation of nearly two dozen suburban homes.
The Arkansas spill has drawn new attention to the controversial Keystone XL project, a 36-inch pipeline carrying oil from Alberta, Canada to Steele City, Neb. If it is approved by the Obama administration, the Keystone’s northern segment would cross the Ogallala aquifer, a crucial source of water for the Plains states. It would carry up to 830,000 barrels of oil a day, nearly 10 times the capacity of the Pegasus line.
So there’s been a bit of a push to shush the spill and cleanup.
Activists with Oil Change International took to the internet, seeking and getting crowd funding for a commercial expressing their anger with ExxonMobil. From the Arkansas Times:
The ad was set to air on Arkansas ABC, NBC, and Fox affiliates this week, but was pulled moments before airing by the stations when Exxon threatened legal action.
“Exxon is and will always be a bully,” said David Turnbull, Campaigns Director of Oil Change International. “Instead of engaging their critics appropriately, Exxon uses its billions to hire high-priced lawyers to make scary-sounding but unsupported legal claims to suppress criticism. It’s a window into how they have preserved billions in taxpayer handouts for their industry for so many years.”
Here’s the commercial. This is some satire with bite:
On This Day: 1861 – Fort Sumter was shelled by Confederacy, starting the Civil War. 1934 – F. Scott Fitzgerald novel “Tender Is the Night” was first published. 1963 – Police used dogs and cattle prods on peaceful civil rights demonstrators in Birmingham, AL.
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