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It's Not About Marriage With Rick Warren

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Saying gay people opposed Rick Warren's participation in Obama's inauguration because he's against marriage equality is like saying the Jews opposed Hitler because he was anti-Semitic.

By Lane Hudson
The Advocate


Upon the selection of the Reverend Rick Warren to deliver the invocation at Pres. Barack Obama's inauguration, an angry backlash dominated the media cycle for nothing short of four full days. Fiercely eloquent spokespeople such as Hilary Rosen and Mike Rogers properly characterized Warren as someone entirely out of touch with LGBT people. Journalists including Ann Curry of NBC met comments by Warren comparing homosexuality to pedophilia and incest with gasps and looks of shock. He also did himself no favor in proclaiming that, were it not for the bonds of marriage, he would not be able to control his attraction to every good-looking woman he saw.

Fresh off the stinging defeat of Proposition 8 in California, it was easy to connect Warren and his megachurch's support of the ballot measure to discontent with his selection for the highly visible and honored role in the inaugural ceremony. But proper reporting isn't supposed to be easy.

That is where recent media reports in The New York Times and USA Today are examples of shoddy journalism that lack proper context and are devoid of sensitivity and understanding of the LGBT community. Each publication completely mischaracterized the opposition to Warren's selection as being based on his opposition to marriage equality. That's kind of like saying that Jews were opposed to Hitler because he was anti-Semitic. It doesn't come close to explaining the whole story.

I didn't write anything about Rick Warren throughout the entire controversy. I tried. But fellow writers, activists, and media pundits had done such a collectively superb job of providing meaningful commentary and properly framing the opposition to Warren that I was content to allow the public record to stand.

However, when tone-deaf reporters with lazy editors try to rewrite history and characterize "the gays" as simple, uncomplicated, single-issue people, I am no longer content to sit by and say nothing. Simply put, their characterization of several media cycles of opposition to Warren was as lame as it gets....(Click for remainder).

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President Obama's First Arab TV Interview (Al-Arabiya TV exclusive)

Al-Arabiya TV Exclusive
Part 1


Part 2

Full Transcript

Q: Mr. President, thank you for this opportunity, we really appreciate it.

THE PRESIDENT: Thank you so much.

Q: Sir, you just met with your personal envoy to the Middle East, Senator Mitchell. Obviously, his first task is to consolidate the cease-fire. But beyond that you've been saying that you want to pursue actively and aggressively peacemaking between the Palestinians and the Israelis. Tell us a little bit about how do you see your personal role, because, you know, if the President of the United States is not involved, nothing happens – as the history of peace making shows. Will you be proposing ideas, pitching proposals, parameters, as one of your predecessors did? Or just urging the parties to come up with their own resolutions, as your immediate predecessor did?

THE PRESIDENT: Well, I think the most important thing is for the United States to get engaged right away. And George Mitchell is somebody of enormous stature. He is one of the few people who have international experience brokering peace deals.

And so what I told him is start by listening, because all too often the
United States starts by dictating -- in the past on some of these issues --and we don't always know all the factors that are involved. So let's listen. He's going to be speaking to all the major parties involved. And he will then report back to me. From there we will formulate a specific response.

Ultimately, we cannot tell either the Israelis or the Palestinians what's best for them. They're going to have to make some decisions. But I do believe that the moment is ripe for both sides to realize that the path that they are on is one that is not going to result in prosperity and security for their people. And that instead, it's time to return to the negotiating table.

And it's going to be difficult, it's going to take time. I don't want to prejudge many of these issues, and I want to make sure that expectations are not raised so that we think that this is going to be resolved in a few months. But if we start the steady progress on these issues, I'm absolutely confident that the United States -- working in tandem with the European Union, with Russia, with all the Arab states in the region -- I'm absolutely certain that we can make significant progress.

Q: You've been saying essentially that we should not look at these issues -- like the Palestinian-Israeli track and separation from the border region -- you've been talking about a kind of holistic approach to the region. Are we expecting a different paradigm in the sense that in the past one of the critiques -- at least from the Arab side, the Muslim side -- is that everything the Americans always tested with the Israelis, if it works. Now there is an Arab peace plan, there is a regional aspect to it. And you've indicated that. Would there be any shift, a paradigm shift?

THE PRESIDENT: Well, here's what I think is important. Look at the proposal that was put forth by King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia --

Q: Right.

THE PRESIDENT: I might not agree with every aspect of the proposal, but it took great courage --

Q: Absolutely.

THE PRESIDENT: -- to put forward something that is as significant as that.
I think that there are ideas across the region of how we might pursue peace.

I do think that it is impossible for us to think only in terms of the
Palestinian-Israeli conflict and not think in terms of what's happening with Syria or Iran or Lebanon or Afghanistan and Pakistan.

These things are interrelated. And what I've said, and I think Hillary Clinton has expressed this in her confirmation, is that if we are looking at the region as a whole and communicating a message to the Arab world and the Muslim world, that we are ready to initiate a new partnership based on mutual respect and mutual interest, then I think that we can make significant progress.

Now, Israel is a strong ally of the United States. They will not stop being a strong ally of the United States. And I will continue to believe that Israel's security is paramount. But I also believe that there are Israelis who recognize that it is important to achieve peace. They will be willing to make sacrifices if the time is appropriate and if there is serious partnership on the other side.

And so what we want to do is to listen, set aside some of the preconceptions that have existed and have built up over the last several years. And I think if we do that, then there's a possibility at least of achieving some breakthroughs.

Q: I want to ask you about the broader Muslim world, but let me – one final thing about the Palestinian-Israeli theater. There are many
Palestinians and Israelis who are very frustrated now with the current conditions and they are losing hope, they are disillusioned, and they believe that time is running out on the two-state solution because – mainly because of the settlement activities in Palestinian-occupied territories.

Will it still be possible to see a Palestinian state -- and you know the contours of it -- within the first Obama administration?

THE PRESIDENT: I think it is possible for us to see a Palestinian state -- I'm not going to put a time frame on it -- that is contiguous, that allows freedom of movement for its people, that allows for trade with other countries, that allows the creation of businesses and commerce so that people have a better life.

And, look, I think anybody who has studied the region recognizes that the situation for the ordinary Palestinian in many cases has not improved. And the bottom line in all these talks and all these conversations is, is a child in the Palestinian Territories going to be better off? Do they have a future for themselves? And is the child in Israel going to feel confident about his or her safety and security? And if we can keep our focus on making their lives better and look forward, and not simply think about all the conflicts and tragedies of the past, then I think that we have an opportunity to make real progress.

But it is not going to be easy, and that's why we've got George Mitchell going there. This is somebody with extraordinary patience as well as extraordinary skill, and that's what's going to be necessary.

Q: Absolutely. Let me take a broader look at the whole region. You are planning to address the Muslim world in your first 100 days from a Muslim capital. And everybody is speculating about the capital. (Laughter) If you have anything further, that would be great.
How concerned are you -- because, let me tell you, honestly, when I see certain things about America -- in some parts, I don't want to exaggerate -- there is a demonization of America.

THE PRESIDENT: Absolutely.

Q: It's become like a new religion, and like a new religion it has new converts -- like a new religion has its own high priests.

THE PRESIDENT: Right.

Q: It's only a religious text.

THE PRESIDENT: Right.

Q: And in the last -- since 9/11 and because of Iraq, that alienation is wider between the Americans and -- and in generations past, the United States was held high. It was the only Western power with no colonial legacy.

THE PRESIDENT: Right.

Q: How concerned are you and -- because people sense that you have a different political discourse. And I think, judging by (inaudible) and
Zawahiri and Osama bin Laden and all these, you know -- a chorus --

THE PRESIDENT: Yes, I noticed this. They seem nervous.

Q: They seem very nervous, exactly. Now, tell me why they should be more nervous?

THE PRESIDENT: Well, I think that when you look at the rhetoric that they've been using against me before I even took office --

Q: I know, I know.

THE PRESIDENT: -- what that tells me is that their ideas are bankrupt. There's no actions that they've taken that say a child in the Muslim world is getting a better education because of them, or has better health care because of them.

In my inauguration speech, I spoke about: You will be judged on what you've built, not what you've destroyed. And what they've been doing is destroying things. And over time, I think the Muslim world has recognized that that path is leading no place, except more death and destruction.

Now, my job is to communicate the fact that the United States has a stake in the well-being of the Muslim world that the language we use has to be a language of respect. I have Muslim members of my family. I have lived in Muslim countries.

Q: The largest one.

THE PRESIDENT: The largest one, Indonesia. And so what I want to
communicate is the fact that in all my travels throughout the Muslim world, what I've come to understand is that regardless of your faith -- and America is a country of Muslims, Jews, Christians, non-believers -- regardless of your faith, people all have certain common hopes and common dreams.

And my job is to communicate to the American people that the Muslim world is filled with extraordinary people who simply want to live their lives and see their children live better lives. My job to the Muslim world is to communicate that the Americans are not your enemy. We sometimes make mistakes. We have not been perfect. But if you look at the track record, as you say, America was not born as a colonial power, and that the same respect and partnership that America had with the Muslim world as recently as 20 or 30 years ago, there's no reason why we can't restore that. Andthat I think is going to be an important task.

But ultimately, people are going to judge me not by my words but by my actions and my administration's actions. And I think that what you will see over the next several years is that I'm not going to agree with everything that some Muslim leader may say, or what's on a television station in the Arab world -- but I think that what you'll see is somebody who is listening, who is respectful, and who is trying to promote the interests not just of the United States, but also ordinary people who right now are suffering from poverty and a lack of opportunity. I want to make sure that I'm speaking to them, as well.

Q: Tell me, time is running out, any decision on from where you will be visiting the Muslim world?

THE PRESIDENT: Well, I'm not going to break the news right here.

Q: Afghanistan?

THE PRESIDENT: But maybe next time. But it is something that is going to be important. I want people to recognize, though, that we are going to be making a series of initiatives. Sending George Mitchell to the Middle East is fulfilling my campaign promise that we're not going to wait until the end of my administration to deal with Palestinian and Israeli peace, we're going to start now. It may take a long time to do, but we're going to do it now.

We're going to follow through on our commitment for me to address the Muslim world from a Muslim capital. We are going to follow through on many of my commitments to do a more effective job of reaching out, listening, as well as speaking to the Muslim world.

And you're going to see me following through with dealing with a drawdown of troops in Iraq, so that Iraqis can start taking more responsibility. And finally, I think you've already seen a commitment, in terms of closing Guantanamo, and making clear that even as we are decisive in going after terrorist organizations that would kill innocent civilians, that we're going to do so on our terms, and we're going to do so respecting the rule of law that I think makes America great.

Q: President Bush framed the war on terror conceptually in a way that was very broad, "war on terror," and used sometimes certain terminology that the many people -- Islamic fascism. You've always framed it in a different way, specifically against one group called al Qaeda and their collaborators. And is this one way of --

THE PRESIDENT: I think that you're making a very important point. And that is that the language we use matters. And what we need to understand is, is that there are extremist organizations -- whether Muslim or any other faith in the past -- that will use faith as a justification for violence. We cannot paint with a broad brush a faith as a consequence of the violence that is done in that faith's name.

And so you will I think see our administration be very clear in
distinguishing between organizations like al Qaeda -- that espouse violence, espouse terror and act on it -- and people who may disagree with my administration and certain actions, or may have a particular viewpoint in terms of how their countries should develop. We can have legitimate disagreements but still be respectful. I cannot respect terrorist organizations that would kill innocent civilians and we will hunt them down.

But to the broader Muslim world what we are going to be offering is a hand of friendship.

Q: Can I end with a question on Iran and Iraq then quickly?

THE PRESIDENT: It's up to the team --

MR. GIBBS: You have 30 seconds. (Laughter)

Q: Will the United States ever live with a nuclear Iran? And if not, how far are you going in the direction of preventing it?

THE PRESIDENT: You know, I said during the campaign that it is very important for us to make sure that we are using all the tools of U.S. power, including diplomacy, in our relationship with Iran.

Now, the Iranian people are a great people, and Persian civilization is a great civilization. Iran has acted in ways that's not conducive to peace and prosperity in the region: their threats against Israel; their pursuit of a nuclear weapon which could potentially set off an arms race in the region that would make everybody less safe; their support of terrorist organizations in the past -- none of these things have been helpful.

But I do think that it is important for us to be willing to talk to Iran, to express very clearly where our differences are, but where there are potential avenues for progress. And we will over the next several months be laying out our general framework and approach. And as I said during my inauguration speech, if countries like Iran are willing to unclench their fist, they will find an extended hand from us.

Q: Shall we leave Iraq next interview, or just --

MR. GIBBS: Yes, let's -- we're past, and I got to get him back to dinner with his wife.

Q: Sir, I really appreciate it.

THE PRESIDENT: Thank you so much.

Q: Thanks a lot.

THE PRESIDENT: I appreciate it.

Q: Thank you.

THE PRESIDENT: Thank you.

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Limbaugh's a clown. Here's wishing him the worst

By Leonard Pitts, Jr.
Miami Herald


''I hope he fails.'' -- Limbaugh

It is, of course, a calculated outrage.

Meaning, it was spewed by a clown in the media circus to kick a familiar sequence into motion: angry denunciation by bloggers, pundits and supporters of President Barack Obama (the ''he'' whose failure is hoped), followed by Rush Limbaugh refusing to retract a word, a courageous truth teller who will not be moved. And, trailing behind, like the folks with brooms trail the elephants in the circus parade, Limbaugh's devotees, complaining that their hero has been misquoted, misunderstood or otherwise mistreated. "What Rush meant was . . . yadda yadda yadda.''

A calculated outrage.

And knowing this, knowing how frequently and adroitly media are manipulated by self-promoting media clowns who defame conservatism by calling themselves conservative, one is tempted to let the statement pass, to make its way unimpeded to the dustbin like so many other manufactured controversies. But occasionally, it's necessary to intercept one of them and hold it up to the light.

This is one of those times. Not because what Limbaugh said on his radio program a few days before the inauguration was an outrage -- outrage is the point, remember? -- but rather, because of what the thing he said says about him and his fellow clowns.

"I hope he fails.''

Do you ever say that about your president if you are an American who loves your country? Would you say it about George W. Bush, who was disastrous; about Bill Clinton, who was slimy; about Jimmy Carter, who was inept; about Richard Nixon, who was crooked? You may think he's going to fail, yes. You may warn he's going to fail, yes....(Click for remainder).

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Bad Faith Economics

By Paul Krugman
The New York Times


As the debate over President Obama’s economic stimulus plan gets under way, one thing is certain: many of the plan’s opponents aren’t arguing in good faith. Conservatives really, really don’t want to see a second New Deal, and they certainly don’t want to see government activism vindicated. So they are reaching for any stick they can find with which to beat proposals for increased government spending.

Some of these arguments are obvious cheap shots. John Boehner, the House minority leader, has already made headlines with one such shot: looking at an $825 billion plan to rebuild infrastructure, sustain essential services and more, he derided a minor provision that would expand Medicaid family-planning services — and called it a plan to “spend hundreds of millions of dollars on contraceptives.”

But the obvious cheap shots don’t pose as much danger to the Obama administration’s efforts to get a plan through as arguments and assertions that are equally fraudulent but can seem superficially plausible to those who don’t know their way around economic concepts and numbers. So as a public service, let me try to debunk some of the major antistimulus arguments that have already surfaced. Any time you hear someone reciting one of these arguments, write him or her off as a dishonest flack.

First, there’s the bogus talking point that the Obama plan will cost $275,000 per job created. Why is it bogus? Because it involves taking the cost of a plan that will extend over several years, creating millions of jobs each year, and dividing it by the jobs created in just one of those years....(Click for remainder).

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Israel's Leaders Are Frantically Trying to Prevent War Crimes Proceedings for Their Gaza Atrocities

Israeli officials are in a frenzy of activity to forestall legal actions abroad over their involvement in the recent Gaza offensive.

By Jonathan Cook
AlterNet


Mounting fear in Israel that the country's leaders face war crimes charges over their involvement in the recent Gaza offensive pushed officials into a frenzy of activity at the weekend to forestall legal actions abroad.

The urgency was underlined after rumors last week that Belgian authorities might arrest Tzipi Livni, Israel's foreign minister, if she attended a summit of European counterparts in Brussels on Wednesday. In an indication of how seriously the matter is judged, Ms Livni's advisers were on the verge of cancelling her trip when the story was revealed to be a hoax.

Nonetheless, officials are braced for real attempts to arrest senior political and military figures following a warning from the country's chief law officer, Menachem Mazuz, that Israel will soon face "a wave of international lawsuits".

In response, the government is setting up a special task force to work on legal defenses, has barred the media from naming or photographing army officers involved in the Gaza attack, and has placed restrictions on overseas visits. Today, ministers were expected to approve an aid package to help soldiers fight warrants abroad for their arrest....(Click for remainder).

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Republican Senators Resort to Extortion on Holder Nomination

Is anyone really surprised at the levels to which the GOP will descend? Rather than do what's best for the nation, all this morally bankrupt group of fascists care about is themselves.


By Ken Camp
The Northwest Progressive Institute via Truthout


Republicans on the Judiciary Committee have asked Eric Holder to make a commitment, before he is even confirmed, that he will not prosecute any Bush Administration officials for their involvement in acts of torture during the last administration.

In an effort to derail the nomination of Attorney General-designate Eric Holder, it seems Senate Republicans are now resorting to extortion. They'll confirm Holder if he promises not to prosecute any Bush Administration officials for any involvement in acts of torture, according to Senator Sheldon Whitehouse(D-RI).

Anyone familiar with the criminal justice system - especially those with experience as prosecutors or judges - should know that a prosecutor should make no determination about who to prosecute before he or she has all the facts, and particularly not in response to legislative pressure.

Senator Whitehouse makes a good point about the separation of powers. It isn't for the legislative branch to hold up executive branch appointments, in order to extract promises from those appointees, especially with regard to potential future prosecutions. But it's much more than that.

I understand that President Obama wants to get beyond the partisan divisions and rancor and look to America's future. That's all good and well, but the United States was founded on the rule of law. You often hear that "we are a nation of laws, not men." If the rule of law were not important, what would separate our nation from countries like Myanmar (Burma) or North Korea?...(Click for remainder).

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Barack Obama asks Gordon Brown for more soldiers

Ok, when are people going to learn from history. Seneca was not just blowing smoke. Alexander the Great, the British Empire, the Soviet Union: NONE have been able to tame Afghanistan. What makes Obama et. al. think they can?

By David Leppard
The Times UK


PRESIDENT Barack Obama has asked Britain to supply up to 4,000 extra frontline troops to help a planned American surge of forces in Afghanistan, defence sources say.

The request poses a dilemma for Gordon Brown because the Ministry of Defence (MoD) believes it can only spare 1,700 extra troops.

Obama has identified the Afghan conflict as an American priority and wants Britain to be a key partner. The new US strategy is likely to test the “special relationship” between the two allies, putting Brown under pressure to show commitment to the Afghan conflict by announcing an increase in troop numbers.

Patrick Mercer, the Tory MP for Newark and chairman of the Commons counter-terrorism subcommittee, said he understood defence planners had concluded that the army was too overstretched to provide a full brigade.

Mercer said he was told the MoD had been informally approached by Obama’s transition team before Christmas, and again this month, with a request to prepare to send a brigade of frontline troops later this year.

“The MoD has decided it can send no more than a battlegroup. It doesn’t have the manpower,” said Mercer. A battlegroup comprises a battalion of 600 infantry plus reconnaissance, artillery and engineers....(Click for remainder).

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Corporate Lobbyists Move to Crush "Buy American" Provisions In the Stimulus Bill

I cannot even being to express how much this angers me. Of course these corporate raiders only care about making money. ASSHOLES!

By David Sirota

Open Left


A few weeks ago, I noted Businessweek's cover story which asked a simple question: "How much of Obama's mammoth fiscal stimulus will leak' abroad, creating jobs in China, Germany, or Mexico rather than the U.S?" In the age of corporate written trade policies that incentivize outsourcing, this is a key question, as U.S. tax dollars could end up simply heading offshore unless Congress takes action.

The good news is that Congress is taking action, attaching legislation by Rep. Peter Visclosky (D-IN) mandating that stimulus money spent on iron and steel be spent in the United States. The bad news is that Bloomberg News now notes that a corporate lobbying campaign is ramping up to strip those provisions out:
General Electric Co. and Caterpillar Inc. are among U.S. exporters that oppose "Buy American" provisions in the $825 billion stimulus legislation...

The fight presents a dilemma for President Barack Obama, who must balance demands from unions and Democrats to protect American jobs against the threat that the Buy American measure would spark protectionist measures by other countries that might deepen a global recession.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the Emergency Committee for American Trade in Washington and other business groups warned of that possibility in a letter today to congressional leaders such as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
The story notes that both GE and Caterpillar generates roughly half of its sales from outside the United States, so their opposition to "Buy American" provisions isn't surprising. And though the names of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and Emergency Committee for American Trade In Washington include references to the U.S./America, their membership is comprised of corporations whose profit margins have greatly benefited from free trade and procurement policies that encourage them to troll the world for the worst labor, environmental and human rights conditions....(Click for remainder).

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Bush Sent Rove a Letter Blocking Him From Appearing Before Congress

By Jason Leopold
The Public Record


House Judiciary Chairman John Conyers has followed through on a promise last year to continue an investigation into the role the Bush administration played in the decision to fire nine federal prosecutors and the alleged political prosecution of former Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman by issuing a subpoena to a key figure believed to have played a role in both scandals: former White House political adviser Karl Rove.

“I have said many times that I will carry this investigation forward to its conclusion, whether in Congress or in court, and today’s action is an important step along the way,” Conyers said in a prepared statement. “Change has come to Washington, and I hope Karl Rove is ready for it. After two years of stonewalling, it’s time for him to talk.”

The subpoena demands that Rove appear before Congress for a deposition on Feb. 2, at 10 a.m.

But it appears unlikely Rove will show up to give testimony to the committee.

Rove’s attorney, Robert Luskin, told the Washington Post Monday that George W. Bush recently sent a letter to Rove and reasserted executive privilege claims. It’s unknown when Bush sent Rove the letter or whether it was specifically intended to respond to Congress’s anticipated subpoena for the former political adviser’s testimony about the U.S. Attorney firings.

Moreover, Luskin said a judge will determine if Rove testifies before Congress.

"It's generally agreed that former presidents retain executive privilege as to matters occurring during their term," Luskin said. "We'll solicit the views of the new White House counsel and, if there is a disagreement, assume that the matter will be resolved among the courts, the president and the former president."

Last week, President Barack Obama signed an executive order that directed the National Archives and Records Administration to consult with the Department of Justice and White House counsel "concerning the Archivist's determination as to whether to honor the former President's claim of privilege or instead to disclose the Presidential records notwithstanding the claim of privilege."...(Click for remainder).

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