Sunday, May 6, 2012

Obama Biden His Time on Gay Marriage (*Updated)

I don't usually watch the Sunday morning blatherfests. I just read the recaps, starting with Jason Linkins' hilarity and then I go on to the Bobbleheads. If any of the segments seems especially entertaining, I might catch a few clips later in the day on the Internet.

Well, it looks like the Osama retrospective is winding down at least, because as Joe Biden did the musical chairs talk show circuit and plopped down at MTP, he only mentioned one time that Bin Laden is still dead. (As far as I know, that is. I mean, he may have repeated himself for all I know, but I have not been able to bring myself to actually watch. It's not that I don't not know, or still can't believe that Osama really is kaput, y'understand.)

But Biden still managed to make front page news on the New York Times homepage. He announced that he, personally, feels "comfortable" about gay marriage. This Bidenism was no doubt initially calculated to send a signal to all the people disappointed in President Obama's "evolving" stance on the issue. Psssst.... the Prexy is down with all you LGBT rich donor people and the 80% of the country in favor of same sex marriage. But it is not yet politically expedient for him to say so during this election year. He might have to spend some of his hoarded political capital. Karl Rove and Fox and the gang might gang up on him and call him anti-family and stuff. From The Times
"I am absolutely comfortable with the fact that men marrying men, women marrying women and heterosexual men and women marrying one another are entitled to the same exact rights, all the civil rights, all the civil liberties,” Mr. Biden said in an appearance on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” 
Gay and lesbian voters, while generally supportive of Mr. Obama, have grown frustrated with his reluctance to take a clear stance for same-sex marriage. He has come under increasing pressure to do so from gay donors, one of his more lucrative fund-raising sources.
Even sending a minion out to telegraph the president's lukewarmth apparently has Team Obama second-guessing itself. Aides hastily released a statement insisting that gaffe-happy Biden's views are purely his own and that moreover, he is marching in evolutionary lockstep with The Boss:
“The Vice President was saying what the President has said previously – that committed and loving same-sex couples deserve the same rights and protections enjoyed by all Americans, and that we oppose any effort to rollback those rights. That’s why we stopped defending the constitutionality of section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act in legal challenges and support legislation to repeal it. Beyond that, the Vice President was expressing that he too is evolving on the issue, after meeting so many committed couples and families in this country.”
 Talk about threading the needle! Jeeze. Though, when you close-read what Biden actually said, he parsefully means that once same-sex couples have actually tied the knot without the blessing of the federal government, who is he to say they are not thereafter entitled to the same civil rights as everybody? I mean, barn door and spilt milk and all.

Whatever. The circular meanderings, the craven calculating caution of this slow-jammin', market-driven, evolving dissolving president know no bounds. And that is a real no-no for Brave New World Warrior Prince.

*Update, 5/9: Congratulations to the LGBT community and amazingly too, to the mainstream press corps, for hounding the president into personally coming out in favor of marriage equality. Credit due to Obama for risking battleground states early in the campaign season. It was a careful juggling act of principle, expediency, optics, and the potential loss of millions of gay donor dollars. All those old homophobes from North Carolina were so going to vote for him before the Coming Out Party, right? One evolution down, a hundred more to go. Let us now force him to evolve into ending the wars, the drone strikes, the warrantless wiretapping and cyber-spying, the war on whistleblowers, beginning to prosecute the banksters, to strengthen Social Security and the safety net, to develop nausea at the mere sound of the words "bipartisan" and "Reagan".... yeah, yeah, I'm wasting my breath. 

The White House Gay Marriage Evolution Chart...Is Now Complete!


Valerie said...

This is a civil rights issue! Two people who want to commit themselves, their children and their finances to one another should be allowed to marry! Pre-nups are what should be outlawed! What kind of trust and faith do you have in your partner if you are hedging your bets from the beginning? Better to wait until you are sure! But anyone who is HUMAN, should be able to commit his or her life and assets to another person if that is his/her desire.

But fat chance Obama will actually get a backbone and take a stance. The poser couldn't even take a stand against LAND MINES for God's sake. He will do is usual dance, get people to think he is for them when he will work against them. Why bother to vote unless there is a Third Party candidate to vote for?

On a different note – A friend in Portland Oregon said there are quite a few anti-vagrant anti-pauper amendments to the City Charter being pushed - just in case harassing the Occupy Protesters with police brutality and fear of the NDAA isn’t enough to shut them up. I expect similar laws are being introduced all over the U.S. The whole thing is highly hypocritical of any city, state or the federal government considering the unemployed, homeless state of many of the vagrants and paupers is a direct result of governmental policies favouring the rich. Where exactly they expect these people to go and sleep and live is unknown. Just don’t allow them to bother the entitled folks as they go about their business.

Karen Garcia said...

Human rights? Too hard. Here is my reply to Paul Krugman's column on the French election....
Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose (the more things change, the more they stay the same.)

We Americans are so used to living on the edge of right wing nut-land, the news that a French socialist (gasp) has won election has left our own Languishing Left green with envy. One of M. Hollande's rousing campaign slogans just so happened to be "H is for Hope." He will be facing his own version of GOP nihilism and xenophobia in the form of the far right Right National Front minority. He says he will fight against austerity and the banking elite, and I hope he puts his francs --er, euros -- where his mouth is.

But Pulitzer-winning journalist Chris Hedges is not hopeful about either French or American politics. In a recent article, he wrote: "Labor unions, environmentalists, anti-war activists and civil libertarians, blinded by the images and lies disseminated by public relations offices, stop watching what these politicians do. They mute their criticism to give these politicians, whose rhetoric is rarely matched by reality, a chance. The result accelerates our disempowerment."

At least in France, campaign season doesn't last for years, and the Europeans don't brook deceit as well as we do. The relentlessness and hyperbole of our presidential horse-race calls for vigilance. Pay attention not to what they say, but to what they have done, and what they are still doing. Above all, let's get the $$$ out of politics by Constitutional amendment.

Denis Neville said...

More Chris Hedges on the hollow spectacle of politics and breakdown of liberal democracy: “The emptying of content in political discourse in an age as precarious and volatile as ours will have very dangerous consequences. The longer the political elite—whether in Washington or Paris, whether socialist or right-wing, whether Democrat or Republican—ignore the breakdown of globalization, refuse to respond rationally to the climate crisis and continue to serve the iron tyranny of global finance, the more it will shred the possibility of political consensus, erode the effectiveness of our political institutions and empower right-wing extremists. The discontent sweeping the planet is born out of the paralysis of traditional political institutions...

"The most retrograde forces within the corporate state, such as the Koch brothers, will lavish racists, homophobes, demagogues, birthers, creationists and gun-carrying, flag-waving idiots with money once the political center crumbles. The left in Europe, and most certainly in the United States, could prove to be too weak to battle against figures like Le Pen or those in the U.S. who rally around the perverted ideologies of the Christian right and the tea party and who receive tens of millions of dollars in corporate backing. The left, in short, may find that it has done too little too late to be an effective counterweight. And widespread discontent could very easily be manipulated by the corporate elites to ensure our enslavement…This is the real battle before us. And it has nothing to do with the election charade between Obama and Romney and, I expect, Hollande and Sarkozy.”

Jamie Bartlett and Jonathan Birdwell on the “Rise of the Radical Right” in Europe:

“Over the last decade, the extreme right in Europe has become more palatable. The overt racism and chest-beating nationalism of previous years have been discarded. What characterizes the new far-right is a defiant, aggressive defense of national culture and history in the face of a changing world, of secularism, and even of democracy and liberty…far-right parties are responding to genuine concerns of many voters: that modern globalization hasn't benefited them, that mass immigration…is threatening local and national identity….Perhaps most importantly, these new far-right parties like Geert Wilders's Freedom Party in the Netherlands or Marine Le Pen's Front National in France expertly portray mainstream politicians as spineless, soft-boiled, venal, self-serving slaves to political correctness and orthodoxy. Recent events…certainly lend some credibility to the view that politicians are indeed out of touch with ordinary people.”

Charlie Pierce on “the serious threat to intelligent self-government and a deadly threat to the continuation of a viable political commonwealth, the latter of which is something you must defend, and something for which you have to fight, and not something that exists organically because "There are no red states. There are no blue states. There is only the United States of America.”

Pierce is “not optimistic because I think he [Obama] waited too long to take it all back, that speech to the convention in 2004. Does he see it yet? Does he see how wrong he really was?”


Neither is Hedges, nor am I.

Karen Garcia said...

David Brooks pretends to be an economist. My response....

Funny you should use the word "kablooey" because it's such an apt description of your column.

You bemoan the fact that the USA, once an education leader, "is falling behind the pack." Then you go on to insist that the government has helped move workers from the high-tech fast paced world of cutthroat globalization into "less productive and more sheltered areas of the economy" -- such as education!

This is typical conservative doublespeak. Blame the unemployed for their (alleged) lack of skills, and at the same time denigrate education itself by cutting funding, dismantling public schools and demonizing unionized teachers. Solve the problem by enriching unqualified corporatists through privatization and vouchers and charter schools and online scams.

And while you're at it, tell the "inadequate" jobless people that they have to "share the sacrifice" by cutting back on food, heat, medical care and retirement. Demonize Social Security by calling it an entitlement instead of the solvent insurance plan that it is. Come up with ever-creative and cruel ways to snap the austerity whip.

And keep blaming government and those mythical greedy homeowners for crashing the economy in the first place. Conveniently forget to mention that the criminal bankster class remains not only unpunished, but refuses to share any sacrifice, and that the only beneficiaries of the welfare state are taxpayer- subsidized corporations. Kablooey is right.

Denis Neville said...

Karen, your comments on education and conservative doublespeak is spot on!

“The pro-voucher funding stream appears unstoppable, with sources like the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation and the Walton Family Foundation. So it goes: The same political forces that have bled Philly schools for decades now decry their poor performance. The solution, of course, is the private sector.”

So writes Daniel Denvir about the right-wing and market-driven plan [not better, but cheaper] to privatize public education in his excellent story about the greatest foray into privatization and the largest state [Pennsylvania] takeover of American public education, “Who's Killing Philly Public Schools? Underfunded. Overburdened. About to be sold for scrap,” in the Philadelphia City Paper.

“$1 billion in statewide budget cuts to education delivered by Republican legislators and Gov. Tom Corbett, led to the elimination of 3,800 teacher and staff positions, including 1,300 layoffs. Layoffs have continued this school year: About 100 nurses got pink slips, along with 90 school police officers and 43 bilingual counseling assistants. Cuts have also forced districts statewide to depend evermore on property taxes, exacerbating the inequity between rich and poor municipalities.

“As Philadelphia schools cut past the bone and spin beyond crisis, the movement to privatize them has grown fat. After 15 years of pellmell growth, 82 charter schools now educate 25 percent of district students, and will this year receive $525 million. The flight of children to charters has increased the price of educating those who remain in the district — a key reason the district is now pushing to close under-attended schools. Charters have also siphoned off many Catholic-school students, according to a Pew Foundation study, prompting a similar enrollment crisis for the Archdiocese of Philadelphia.”

“The budget crunch is statewide, where an estimated 27 percent of districts have passed extraordinary property tax increases to fund their schools. Public schools in wealthy townships will likely continue to provide a fantastic education. But the attacks on teachers' unions, the tests, the charters, the vouchers and the "right-sizing" are the endgame for politicians and businessmen that have long perpetuated a segregated, two-tier American public school system. If Knudsen's proposal goes through, the country's eighth-largest school district, in its fifth-largest city, will no longer exist in any meaningful sense. And neither will any remaining pretense that America offers everyone, regardless of race or class, an equal shot.”

Where does the money go in the unfettered free market of charter schools?

In the Chester, PA. Community Charter School — “which enrolls more than half the district's K-8 students — seems to be quite lucrative: $16.7 million of the charter's budget (more than 41 percent) will go to CSMI, the company that administers the school, according to the Inquirer. Where does that money go? Some point to the likes of CSMI's chief executive Vahan Gureghian — wealthy businessman, Montgomery County Republican Party powerhouse and a major Corbett donor. Last year, he spent $28.9 million on a Palm Beach oceanfront property.”

The conservative right keeps demonizing and coming up with ever-creative and cruel ways to snap the austerity whip, while enriching themselves.

Kablooey is right.

Neil Gillespie said...

A former constitutional law professor like Barack Obama should have heard about the equal protection clause of the U.S. Constitution.

"The Equal Protection Clause, part of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, provides that "no state shall ... deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.""

Frank Bruni’s story in the NYT May 5, 2012, Heartland Justice, described the consequences to Marsha Ternus, the first woman to preside over the Iowa Supreme Court, for applying the Equal Protection Clause to gay marriage - she was canned.

"The first woman ever to preside over the Iowa Supreme Court, she was asked three years ago to rule on a challenge to an Iowa statute banning same-sex marriage. She looked at the case and at the law and deemed the ban a violation of equal-protection language in the state’s Constitution, which said that no privileges should be reserved for a limited class of citizens. Her six fellow justices agreed. Their unanimous decision is why Iowa is among the minority of states in which two men or two women can marry."

"It’s also why Ternus lost her job. The following year, she and two other justices came up for what are usually pro forma retention votes, and Iowans booted them from the bench."

Sometimes a constitutional guarantee is only good on paper - a parchment guarantee, as Justice Scalia might say: "it’s just words on paper, what our framers would have called a ‘parchment guarantee.’ "

Valerie said...

I don't mean to be harsh - I am FOR gay rights. My daughter's godfather is gay and I couldn't love him more if he were my own brother. But I think it is time for liberals to narrow down the issues that we are going to fight for and draw our lines in the sand. Like abortion, this is a "side-issue." It is a distraction from the real life and death issues that affect almost all Americans. Elections are being bought by the big donors, the big investments banks are still sucking off the government teet and are basically unregulated, globalization is a failure and is cementing more and more Americans into the working poor class while multi-national corporations rape the environment and make record profits that are largely untaxed. The remnants of our democracy and liberty are being legislated away from the average citizen with legislation like the NDAA and God only knows what secret little gems agencies like Homeland Security can pull out of their hat to lock up anyone who challenges the state.

Our country is in trouble, People! And all we can do is get our dander up over side issues! We need to focus on the big issues or it will be "game over" before much longer.

Jay - Ottawa said...

Good point, Valerie. Here's my short list of attention getters. Climate, war, civil liberties, money -- in that order. It's been a long time since truth, reason, fairness and compassion (my problem-solving short list) ruled in any of those categories.