Tuesday, February 23, 2010

No Meaning Behind 'NoH8' Appearance

No Meaning Behind NoH8 Appearance
Republicans Use McCain Family As Distraction
This Viewpoint Column was published on February 11,2010 in The Florida Agenda Newspaper

When Cindy McCain, the wife of Senator John McCain, recently participated in the highly publicized photo shoot for the “NoH8” campaign against California's Proposition 8, I was so proud of her. I emblazoned my Facebook page with Mrs. McCain's glamourous photo and hailed her as the "true Maverick" in their family, for supporting the leglization of gay marriage.

Then, just a week later, her husband reversed his position on the controversial Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy. He was previously for repealing the antiquated anti-gay military policy, but now he's suddenly and voraciously supportive of keeping it in place.

Their daughter, Meghan McCain (who also supports gay marriage and repealing DADT) recently appeared as a guest on “The View.” I was hopeful that the mystery of John McCain's flip-floppy opinions would finally be put to rest. Quite the opposite—now I fear that little Meghan might have put herself in the precarious position of having to defend the politically indefensible: her father.

Cindy McCain had been an unfortunate target of mine when I was campaigning for Barack Obama in '08. The Obama campaign officials urged those of us at ground level to "avoid attacks on family members" and to "run a clean campaign." We obviously didn't listen. It was just too easy to point out the hypocrisy of McCain/Palin "family values" when it came to subjects like pill-popping (Cindy was addicted to prescription painkillers) and teen pregnancy (Sarah’s teenage daughter had a baby). But when Cindy McCain boldly posed for the “NOH8” campaign and announced her support of overturning Proposition 8, I hoped for an opportunity to give the gal a pat on the back and say "job well done... I really like you, Cindy!" But the fact of the matter is Cindy McCain, and her camera-friendly daughter Meghan, are just a distraction from what's really happening on Capitol Hill.

John McCain is the one who gets to vote on our rights, regardless of petty things like his family's opinion (and for that matter, the opinion of 74% of the military). The McCain women are being trotted out by the Republican party to present a more moderate image, separate from the Tea Party movement. Repubicans know Sarah Palin and her angry extremist views are bad for the party; so in an attempt to separate from Palin, Republican officials created various media campaigns around Meghan and Cindy McCain to make the Republicans appear more mainstream.

These “mainstream McCain campaigns” paint a false picture of the Republicans’ true motives. In reality, gay marriage in California is being handled by the Supreme Court, and the McCains have very little influence on that, if any at all. So Cindy and Meghan’s support of the issue is merely a token gesture. The real issue involving the McCain family is only DADT, and only one member of their family has a stake in that: John. And on that issue, John is sticking to the traditional Republican party policy of discriminating against the gays. So much for progress.

Enter young Meghan McCain, on the ever-popular women's perspective show “The View.” Does she have a perspective on her mother's recent pro-gay advocacy?

Meghan McCain: "I almost started crying during the photo shoot,
I've never been more proud of my mom. She's um... very... she doesn't like to rock the boat and I'm very proud of her for taking a stand."

Ok, very good. But John McCain is not a Supreme Court judge in California, so let’s move on. Does she have an opinion on her father's support of keeping DADT in place?

Meghan McCain: "My personal take on it is that my father
thought it was Admiral Mullen's personal account [that gays should be allowed to join] and my father wants more of a military research kind of thing to present to the Senate, and obviously I disagree with my father but it's a complicated issue [...] but let's look at the current President who made a lot of promises to the gay community in the last election that he hasn't necessarily fulfilled... so let's not just look at my father because it's not just him in this case."

FAIL. Sorry, Meghan, but your father has a vote on this issue, and Barack Obama does not. DADT must be repealed in the Senate, because that is where it was birthed... and John McCain was certainly one of the Senators who made it happen in the first place.

If Meghan McCain cannot understand the basic legislative process that her father is a part of, then perhaps she should not offer an opinion.

So basically, what we have here is a family of Republicans who pretend to be strong advocates for only the issues which they have no control over, but hide behind the party on the issues where they get to vote.

Friday, February 12, 2010

The Supreme Court Ruling on Contributions is Outrageous

This opinion by Jarrett Terrill appeared in the The Florida Agenda newspaper on February 4, 2010.

On January 21, The Supreme Court of the United States did something unthinkable. (Well, at least the 5 who had been appointed by one of the Bush's did...) They overturned campaign finance laws in a decision known as "Citizens United V. Federal Elections Commission".

When a Supreme Court decision is reached, it sets a precedent, which becomes "the law" as we know it. The plaintiffs in this case, Citizens United, were a rag-tag group of Republican propaganda artists who wanted to make a negative documentary about Hillary Clinton and play it on TV before the primary election in 2008. They said the US Government had denied them their "freedom of speech" by not allowing their corporation to fund their smear film without forming a political action committee, known as a PAC.

PACs are necessary to fund campaign ads because they ensure that only those members of a corporation who wish to donate will do so and that the general funds of a corporation or publicly traded company are not used against the wishes of the stockholders, employees or union members. Citizens United wanted to fund the film and its broadcast out of pocket, ignoring maximum donations allowed to a political campaign.

Here's what's wrong with the way the Supreme Court handled this case:

Citizens United was not even trying to overturn campaign finance laws, they were only trying to claim that the laws did not apply to their propaganda film which they were referring to as a "documentary" instead of a campaign ad. This means that the conservative members of the Supreme Court used the case of Citizens United as a catalyst to legislate campaign financing from the bench, which is not in the enumerated powers of the judicial branch of government.

Secondly, the ruling and opinions of the conservative justices who blatantly thumbed their noses at the Constitution did not even match up with the subject at hand. For instance, Clarence Thomas gave a lengthy opinion in which was arguing for the rights of anti-gay marriage petitioners to to sheild their names from public record in order to avoid social outcasting and retribution. The transparency of state legislative initiatives has nothing to do with campaign finance laws at all, and Clarence Thomas clearly has no business sitting on the Supreme Court of the USA if he is unable to tell the difference.

Thirdly, the case is not a "freedom of speech" issue, as the conservative justices claim. The First Amendment only applies to citizens of the United States; corporations are not people. By allowing a corporation the right of unlimited campaign financing and not placing the limits of maximum allowed donations on the corporation, the Supremes are trying to ensure that Blackwater, Halliburton, Wal-Mart and MSNBC can stock all 3 branches of Government with their own appointees because independently funded persons cannot afford to compete in terms of campaign spending.

But at last, the most disturbing and glaringly obvious problem with this new law that the Supreme Court has audaciously written from the Bench is that it allows foreigners to have more influence over the candidates who run for office in America than her own citizens do. Because the largest, wealthiest corporations are multi-national conglomerates, the Supreme Court is trying to ensure that China, India, Iran and Saudi Arabia all get a vote in our government.

This Supreme Court decision goes against the very concept of Democracy, against the Constitution and obliterates any chances of an elected official being a voice for anyone except the corporation which hired them.

Monday, February 1, 2010


The trouble with these really big boats is that to make them profitable a lot of attention has to be paid to the passenger class that can really pay. After all, it’s all about business.

In order to make First Class comfortable, for instance, a good number of life boats, were not installed on the Titanic. This was to give the passengers at that level more room.
Having not foreseen a difficulty with that omission- until this rather awkward and unexpected disaster, some scrambling to right the situation is being made.

Having hastened to take care of the obviously important issues, we watched from the lilting deck as the first life boat- a motorized launch, was lowered into the choppy sea.
It was rumored that the chairman of Goldman Sachs and his family were on board; the plan was to quickly get them in motion so that they could rally outside support in the world and, ostensibly, save the rest of the passengers- who faced with the small number of life boats aboard, were facing a rather dire evening ahead.
The orchestra had come onto the deck and was doing it’s best to sooth the classes below First. Their “tip jar“ was rather low, just now; Maestro Pelosi was cranking out the 110th Overture in a vain attempt to offer a distraction. (A rather old dowager just swept by w/ two furs- one presumably for her legs should they get wet when she gets into her launch.)

The ship’s management was able to provide some comfort to those in Third Class and Steerage, in addition to giving them some music.

Hot tea and pastries are being passed around First class while passengers wait for the plan to unfold for lowering the boats, to remove them from this most uncomfortable situation.