Jul 032011

If you are still looking for something to read on a hot and sticky Sunday afternoon (we were planning on going out to see some fireworks this evening, but are slowly convincing ourselves that it just too dang hot), might I recommend:

How Grover Norquist hypnotized the GOP

At our 25th college reunion in 2003, Grover Norquist — the brain and able spokesman for the radical right — and I, along with other classmates who had been in public or political life, participated in a lively panel discussion about politics. During his presentation, Norquist explained why he believed that there would be a permanent Republican majority in America.

One person interrupted, as I recall, and said, “C’mon, Grover, surely one day a Democrat will win the White House.”

Norquist immediately replied: “We will make it so that a Democrat cannot govern as a Democrat.”

In a way, Republicans have accomplished that. This spring, in an effort to reduce the deficit, a Democratic president proposed to cut $2 trillion in spending, much of it from domestic programs Democrats have long championed. Last week, Republican leaders withdrew from talks with the vice president on a bipartisan plan to reduce the deficit because, as another part of the solution and like every bipartisan budget deal for decades, the president proposed to raise revenue. Specifically, he proposed to raise $1 in new revenue (through closing loopholes or ending the Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans) for every $2 in spending cuts. In response to that modest proposal, Republican leaders walked out.

It is now clear that the Republican strategy is to drive America to the brink of fiscal ruin and then argue that the only way out is to cut spending for the powerless. Taxes — a dirty word thanks to Norquist’s “no new taxes” gimmick — are made to seem beyond the pale, even as the burden of paying for our society shifts disproportionately to the middle class and working poor. It is the height of fiscal folly. It is also not who we are as a country.

It’s by Deval Patrick, governor of the state of Massachusetts. Click on the article’s title to continue reading.

A federal issue

 Posted by at 12:24  Politics
Jul 032011

President Obama insists that marriage equality is an issue for each state to decide. I disagree. As long as federal benefits and privileges continue to be tied to marriage, marriage equality is a federal issue. Each state was not left to decide the issue of civil rights for blacks on its own. I fail to see why this issue should be any different. The New York Times editorial board seems to agree with me:

Likewise, the many couples who will take advantage of New York’s new marriage equality law will not be married in the eyes of Washington.

That means they cannot receive Social Security benefits for spouses, as can the straight couple next door. They cannot file joint federal income tax returns or take advantage of the larger estate tax exemption for married couples. Federal laws like those giving the right of family leave do not apply to them. If they work for the federal government, they cannot extend their health insurance policy to their spouses. A childless soldier with a same-sex spouse will not receive the housing allowance for dependents, even after “don’t ask, don’t tell” is fully repealed.

And, because the law allows states to ignore a same-sex marriage performed elsewhere, spouses may not be able to visit each other in a hospital if they are traveling.

The Defense of Marriage Act was enacted in 1996 as an election-year wedge issue, signed by President Bill Clinton in one of his worst policy moments. Any Congress with a real respect for personal freedom would repeal it. That, of course, does not describe the current Congress, where many members talk a great deal about freedom but apply it mainly to businesses and gun owners. With legislative repeal not on the horizon, the best hope for ending this legalized bigotry is with the courts.

I think it is wonderful that six states now recognize marriage equality, but there will not be true marriage equality until it is recognized by every state and the federal government. It is simply ridiculous that a couple can be considered married in one state, cross the border into a neighboring state and suddenly not be married. That, at the very least, violates the equal protection clause of the United States Constitution (Amendment XIV, Section 1). I’m sorry, President Obama, but on this issue you are wrong.