Where to begin? Locally or nationally, the batshit has hit the fanfare. Pregnancies from rape are an anomaly. Fetuses now masturbate. And abortions used to be “the thing to do” back in the swinging ’70s. It goes on — these were all in just the last week alone. From Arizona to Texas to Wisconsin, the party that has made a sacrament of individual liberty and freedom from big government continues to quite spectacularly demonstrate strident gibberish in the name of contradicting ideology. Read the rest of this entry »
Category Archives: National
How’s this for an irony: an independent documentary about the pernicious influence of high-dollar donors gets canceled by PBS due to the influence that a high-dollar donor has on PBS? The rich white man in this case is none other than David Koch, the multigajillionaire who along with his tycoon-harpooning brother, Charles, and their sprawling empire Koch Industries have brought you such popular hits as: cancer, climate denial, media conglomeration, fat cat plutocrats, conservative politics and tea party histrionics — not to mention mosquitoes, ticks, pestilence, boils, botulism, plagues, famine, flat tires, traffic jams, canker sores, migraines, Svengali-like manipulation, basic obfuscation, and general evil — all in the name of a shameless poweropoly the likes of which would make even Mr Burns envious. The documentary in question is Citizen Koch, which showcases the effects of the Citizens United Supreme Court decision on the recall election of Scott Walker as well as the admirably quixotic presidential campaign of former Louisiana governor and congressman Buddy Roemer (whose central platform is campaign finance reform), all while following the lives of three Wisconsin state employees whose lifelong ties to the Republican Party are reconsidered in the aftermath of Act 10. The film was to air on PBS sometime this year on behalf of Independent Television Service (ITVS), the funding and distributing tributary of public television for independent films. But worried that there would be too much fallout — and lack of funding — ITVS backed out of its deal with the filmmakers, which unwittingly proves the whole point of what the film was about in the first place: the influence of money on public resources.
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Finally, the issue of universal marriage has come to the Supreme Court so that a national dialogue can at least begin, stripped of religious symbolism and meretricious rhetoric, predicated on this one basic question:
What is the government’s interest, state or federal, in drawing a line of distinction between gay and straight relationships?
It’s a question that I personally have been invested in for as long as I can remember, unarguably way more so than any indefectibly straight, single man who is not a lawyer or has any background in law ever should. I have written about, lobbied on behalf of, and fought for universal marriage more than any other political matter. I have gone so far as to label such willed discrimination as heterosexual apartheid. (I don’t much care for the term of art “gay marriage,” because that automatically sets the tone in a misguided direction. The issue is one of contract law, which I believe, as many do, is a matter protected by the Establishment Clause of the 14th Amendment of the US Constitution, which grants equal protection to citizens. It is a marriage contract, after all, which when recognized, is your token exchange for all the 1600+ benefits bestowed upon you as a married couple from the state and federal governments. Besides, it carries the connotation of “universal suffrage” to it.)
But I don’t care to delve into all that right now, mainly because there isn’t much I can add that you, dear reader, do not already know. So instead I thought to make this scribble a little more fun and interesting by placing bets about how the Court will rule on Proposition 8, the ballot question a majority of Californian voters approved in 2008 that categorically denied recognition of same-sex marriages (but still kept intact civil unions). With the oral arguments occurring coincidentally during the March Madness of college basketball, below you will see my own brackets. All winners will receive one of the following: a new poem dedicated to you, a new scribble of a topic of the winner’s own suggestion, or future swag the likes of t-shirts and lapel pins that read “I Got Scribbled A Bit.”
Making sure our state remains proud, our intrepid Senator Ron Johnson has done his dang darnedest to ally the upper Midwest values of “where the women are strong and the men are good looking” with those of Texas and Kentucky, Utah and Wyoming, where ladies’ night is ladies first in the back of the pickup truck all git-‘r-done and don’t holler none now y’hear? Yes, our champion of democracy who is living proof that anybody can be elected to Congress – no, seriously: any body – joined the upper crust of such conservative colleagues as Tom Coburn, Orrin Hatch, Rand Paul, Mitch McConnell, Pat Roberts, Jeff Sessions, and Marco Rubio by voting against renewing the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) last week. And when I say last week, let me be more precise: voted against violence against women two days before Valentine’s Day. Once again reminding us that liberals might have the bleeding hearts, but it’s conservatives who are the real romantics.
Here’s a scene: a solemn Tuesday evening in the chamber of the House of Representatives, a cold and bitter February in the capital city, and everyone who is anyone in Washington politics is there: the Chief Justice next to the Joint Chiefs, freshman congresswoman from Mesa, Arizona, seated beside the senior senator from Missoula, Montana, as an old hand of the Cabinet from Biscayne Bay walks past the puckish House Clerk from Bayonne, NJ. Conservatives on the floor are abuzz with anticipation, glad-handing and back-slapping one another for a job well done. Scattered stand isolated liberals stoically cross-armed with lips still bit from simmering resentment. The Sergeant at Arms suddenly announces, his voice booming, “Mister Speaker, the President of the United States!” A thunderous whoop resounds like a crashing wave, and there strides Mitt Romney – President Romney, the 45th President of the United States – on his way to deliver what will be his first State of the Union address. Somewhere else, unseen from public eye, perhaps keeping the designated survivor company, Republican operatives light a cigar and toast their tumblers of Scotch for having successfully stolen another election.
Such a scenario would be happening tonight if the Republican plan called “Red Map” (technically “the REDistricting MAjority Project,” or REDMAP) had been in effect for the 2012 election. President Obama, having handsomely won the majority vote, would have nonetheless lost the electoral vote due to a deliberately divisive revisionism by conservatives in an effort to demonstrate that parts of the country are greater than the whole. Which we know thanks to the post-Beatles offshoots of The Wings or Plastic Ono Band simply is preposterous – the whole is always better than the individual parts. Maybe I’m amazed, but power to the people – so let it be.
Just last year the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) released a report licentiously entitled “Trends in the Distribution of Household Income Between 1979 and 2007.” Now, the CBO is the very entity to which Congress itself appointed all economic analysis and budget score keeping, and which is generally regarded as nonpartisan and above-the-board objective. The report revealed some rather damning “trends,” not least of which is that the 1 percent of the population with the highest income saw their after-tax household income grow by 275 percent, while the 20 percent of the population with the lowest income saw theirs spittle at 18 percent. Indeed, while 99 percent of the American households saw their total market income decrease – cash wages, salaries, capital gains, etc. – the rich 1 percent actually saw theirs double. Read the rest of this entry »