- Chris Hedges: The War on Gays – Chris Hedges’ Columns – Truthdig –
"The sentencing of Dharun Ravi for the hateful abuse that may have driven his gay roommate at Rutgers, Tyler Clementi, to commit suicide, or Barack Obama’s public acceptance of gay marriage, prevents many of us from seeing that life for gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgender people is getting worse—much worse.
No one understands this better than the gay activist and pastor Mel White. White, along with his husband and partner of 30 years, Gary Nixon, founded Soulforce, an organization committed to using nonviolent resistance to end religion-based oppression. White and hundreds of Soulforce volunteers protest outside megachurches that preach hatred and bigotry in the name of religion. White travels to communities where young gays, lesbians, bisexuals or transgender people have committed suicide. He holds memorial services for them in front of the church doors. He accuses the pastors of these churches of murder. His books “Stranger at the Gate: To Be Gay and Christian in America” and “Holy Terror: Lies the Christian Right Tell Us to Deny Gay Equality,” are two of the most important works that examine the innate cruelty and proto-fascism of the Christian right. White, more than perhaps any other preacher in the country, has pulled young men and women back from the brink of despair, from succumbing to the tragic fate of Tyler Clementi. And White is scared.
“What kind of environment creates a Dharun Ravi who would carry out that kind of bullying, as well as a kid like Tyler who would become a victim of that kind of bullying?” White asked when I reached him by phone at his home in Long Beach, Calif. “It is society. At its heart it is the church. The churches should be convicted, not just Ravi. He’s just an extension of the hatred that people feel about this threat, this gay threat. Pope Benedict XVI should be on trial. Richard Land from the Southern Baptists should be on trial. Religious leaders, Protestant and Catholic, should be on trial. They made this happen, but too few Americans make the connection.”
White applauds President Obama for taking a personal stand for marriage equality. But he also notes that the president’s statement was accompanied by a reiteration that states have the right to determine their own policies toward marriage."
- Robert Reich (True Patriotism) –
"True patriotism isn’t cheap. It’s about taking on a fair share of the burdens of keeping America going.
Those who earn tens of millions of dollars a year but pay less than 14 percent of their incomes in taxes, and argue the rich should pay even less, are not true patriots.
Those who defend indefensible tax loopholes, such as the “carried interest” loophole that allows private-equity managers to treat their incomes as capital gains even if they risk no income of their own, are not true patriots.
Those who avoid taxes by putting huge amounts of their earnings into IRAs via foreign tax shelters are not true patriots.
Those who want to cut programs that benefit the poor — Food stamps, child nutrition, Pell grants, Medicaid — so that they can get a tax cut for themselves and their affluent friends— are not true patriots."
- Evan Wolfson: Freedom to Serve, Freedom to Marry –
"Earlier this month, First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden hosted an afternoon tea at the White House to recognize military mothers and wives. The celebration on Military Spouse Appreciation Day and Mother's Day was part of their Joining Forces initiative, which asks all American citizens to take action and make a real commitment to supporting our military families.
Individuals, organizations, and policymakers from both sides of the aisle are doing much to support our troops. But there is more to be done – including providing basic equal treatment to the families of gay and lesbian service members.
On Monday, America will observe the first Memorial Day since repeal of the discriminatory 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' law. Gay and lesbian patriots serving in the Armed Forces now may do so openly, without the burden of silence that dishonored them, their loved ones, and our country. But as long as the so-called Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) is on the books, our service members are still are not treated equally, and their families are denied important protections afforded to all others."
- Debt-Ceiling Deja Vu Could Sink Economy – Bloomberg –
"Europe is crumbling. China is slowing. The Federal Reserve is dithering. Yet the biggest threat to the emerging U.S. economic recovery may be Congress.
John Boehner, the leader of the House Republicans, has promised yet another fight with the White House over the debt ceiling — the limit Congress has placed on the amount the federal government can borrow.
If this sounds familiar, it’s because we suffered through an identical performance last summer. Our analysis of that episode leads to a troubling conclusion: It almost derailed the recovery, and this time could be a lot worse."
- Give ’Em Hell Barry – The Washington Post –
"Progressives have yearned for President Obama to follow Harry Truman’s strategy from the 1948 campaign by giving his Republican opponents hell. Now that Obama is doing just that, his critics say he’s not looking presidential.
As a longtime advocate of the Truman approach (and a fan of Give ’Em Hell Harry and his way of doing politics), I think Obama is doing the right thing. Critics of the battling style miss what Obama needs to get done in this campaign and also ignore the extent to which so many of his foes refuse to treat him in a presidential way. Far better for him to be a fully engaged fighter with passion for what he’s saying than a distant, regal figure pretending that the other side is playing by a dainty set of rules.
But if 1948 is to be the model, what can we learn from Truman’s experience, and how does that election relate to the one we’re having in 2012?"
- Fiscal Phonies – NYTimes.com –
"Until now the attack of the fiscal phonies has been mainly a national rather than a state issue, with Paul Ryan, the chairman of the House Budget Committee, as the prime example. As regular readers of this column know, Mr. Ryan has somehow acquired a reputation as a stern fiscal hawk despite offering budget proposals that, far from being focused on deficit reduction, are mainly about cutting taxes for the rich while slashing aid to the poor and unlucky. In fact, once you strip out Mr. Ryan’s “magic asterisks” — claims that he will somehow increase revenues and cut spending in ways that he refuses to specify — what you’re left with are plans that would increase, not reduce, federal debt.
The same can be said of Mitt Romney, who claims that he will balance the budget but whose actual proposals consist mainly of huge tax cuts (for corporations and the wealthy, of course) plus a promise not to cut defense spending.
Both Mr. Ryan and Mr. Romney, then, are fake deficit hawks. And the evidence for their fakery isn’t just their bad arithmetic; it’s the fact that for all their alleged deep concern over budget gaps, that concern isn’t sufficient to induce them to give up anything — anything at all — that they and their financial backers want. They’re willing to snatch food from the mouths of babes (literally, via cuts in crucial nutritional aid programs), but that’s a positive from their point of view — the social safety net, says Mr. Ryan, should not become “a hammock that lulls able-bodied people to lives of dependency and complacency.” Maintaining low taxes on profits and capital gains, and indeed cutting those taxes further, are, however, sacrosanct. "
- Chris Hayes’s Honesty Mistake: Troops Need Citizens Questioning Policy – The Daily Beast –
"Poor Chris Hayes, he forgot the script. The script says that if you’re hosting a television show on Memorial Day, you talk about whatever you’d normally talk about and then tack on a photo montage at the end, accompanied by somber music. You honor the dead by not talking about the reasons they died.
…The insistence that public figures honor the people who fight America’s wars regardless of how they feel about the wars themselves began as a useful reaction to the excesses of the anti-Vietnam left. But 10 years after the 9/11 attacks, all the pious, saccharine talk about “heroes” and “greatest generations” feels like a way for politicians and pundits to salve their guilty consciences. What good does it do a family that recently lost their son in Afghanistan to be told that he was a hero by a politician who can’t justify why he was there? It is telling that the presidential candidate who spoke about America’s wars in the least reverential terms—Ron Paul—received the most campaign donations from America’s war fighters.
My sister-in-law, an Army doctor, just returned from Afghanistan. When she shipped out, the Army gave her 3-year-old daughter a doll with a photograph of her mother’s face pasted on the front. What do we owe my sister-in-law—and her husband and two small girls—for having made a sacrifice that most Americans of my demographic can’t even contemplate? We owe them our reverence, absolutely. But more that, we owe them our citizenship. Our deepest duty is to ask ourselves, relentlessly, whether the cause for which my sister-in-law sacrificed justifies the pain it has caused her family and the many American and Afghan families that have suffered far more. And if the answer is no, we owe them more than our sympathy and admiration. We owe them our rage."
- Romney’s distortions about Obama do us a disservice – The Washington Post –
"There are those who tell the truth. There are those who distort the truth. And then there’s Mitt Romney.
Every political campaign exaggerates and dissembles. This practice may not be admirable — it’s surely one reason so many Americans are disenchanted with politics — but it’s something we’ve all come to expect. Candidates claim the right to make any boast or accusation as long as there’s a kernel of veracity in there somewhere.
Even by this lax standard, Romney too often fails. Not to put too fine a point on it, he lies. Quite a bit."
- Same-sex marriage will boost a flagging institution | Sarah Ditum | Comment is free | guardian.co.uk –
"There's a line from opponents of same-sex marriage that you'll have read in a recent piece by the archbishop of York, John Sentamu. It goes like this: it's all very well wanting equality, they say. They might even say they support equality, with the proviso that same-sex couples get to be "equal" through the segregated union of civil partnerships. Opponents of same-sex marriage claim they're not against rights for gay people – they're simply against "redefining marriage".
It's hard to think of any other social or civil function that's said to be "redefined" by the gender of the person occupying it. Harder still to think of ways in which this "redefinition" of marriage would affect people who are actually married: they'd still be married, with all the marital obligations that implies. Allowing gay marriage wouldn't turn all marriages gay, delightful though that has the potential to be. However, there is a place where marriage could be undergoing redefinition. The place is Quebec, and what's happening there looks very different to the debate over marriage in the UK."