IF YOU liked George W. Bush, it wasn't because of his brain. Bush was, rather notoriously, the president of quick decisions, few regrets and long vacations. He was the person you wanted to have a beer with, and whom you thought you could trust because he was a lot like you. In Stephen Colbert's famous formulation, he was the epitome of "truthiness" - of knowing things not from books, but from the gut.
All this meant that Bush was widely reviled by intellectuals as precisely the opposite of the kind of person you want running the most powerful country in the world. The Bush administration's extensively documented attacks on science (discussed in my book The Republican War on Science, among other places), and his exaltation of Jesus as his "favourite philosopher", further cemented the idea that here was not a mind to be respected. Add to that the malapropisms, the apparent uneasiness with any kind of verbal improvisation, and the scripted debating, and one could easily conclude the US was being governed by the consummate anti-intellectual.
With the coming of Barack Obama to the presidency, the phrase "sea change" is not too strong. Here is a former academic who is deeply familiar with the world of thought. In his inaugural address, Obama pledged to restore science to its "rightful place" in our government; heck, he even extolled the virtue of "curiosity". And for the first time in history, he has appointed a Nobel laureate to the presidential cabinet. The worm has turned in American life - but for how long?
Anti-intellectualism is a central thread of America's culture and spirit. In his Pulitzer prize-winning 1964 work Anti-Intellectualism in American Life, historian Richard Hofstadter showed how the anti-intellectual impulse arose from a complex set of historical factors which included religious evangelism, a bustling business culture and a deeply rooted emphasis on egalitarianism: "the American dream". In short - and this is what is so insidious about it - distrust of the pointy-headed thinker springs, at least in part, from Americans' better nature. The value placed on hard work and fairness plays as big a role as ignorance in the lamentable resilience of anti-intellectual sentiment, in Hofstadter's view....(Click for remainder.)
60-Second Science Blog @ Scientific American
When it comes to energy policy in this U.S., not very much has changed since President Jimmy Carter declared more than three decades ago that achieving energy independence was "the moral equivalent of war."
Today, Carter had his “I-told-you-so-moment” in testimony on energy policy before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, giving lawmakers a bit of a history lesson (while acknowledging that some of them were also in government then).
Two weeks after becoming president, Carter famously appeared in a cardigan and urged energy conservation on a resistant American public. Ultimately, that and other efforts led to a more energy-efficient economy as well as cutting oil imports in half by 1982.
But just a few years later, the U.S. became even more dependent on imported oil and many of the alternative energy efforts inaugurated during his administration—solar thermal power plants, electric cars and biofuel from algae—limped along until finally getting more traction recently.
Carter reminded the lawmakers that more than 30 years ago, his administration pushed successfully for legislation to penalize gas-guzzling cars, force utilities to encourage energy conservation and mandated better-insulated buildings and more efficient electric motors and appliances. All of which are efforts duplicated by the Obama administration more recently.
While giving the senators the energy security history lesson they requested, he also detailed some of the insights gleaned from his globe-trotting in recent years. For instance, he noted that China is building more efficient coal-fired power plants while the U.S. has yet to build a single power plant demonstrating carbon capture and storage technology and Brazil's biofuel industry has far surpassed American efforts....(Click for remainder.)
Partisan Politicking By Anti-Gay D.C. Clergy Could Result In Loss Of Tax Exemption, Says Americans United
A small band of clergy in Washington, D.C., yesterday threatened to mobilize politically and remove several members of the city council from office, prompting Americans United for Separation of Church and State to issue a reminder that church-based partisan politicking is illegal.
Anti-gay clergy are angry over a 12-1 vote by the District of Columbia Council recognizing same-sex marriages performed in other states. The Washington Post reported that after the vote, a group of ministers “vowed that they will work to oust the members who supported the bill” and became so disruptive that police had to remove them.
“Religious leaders have the right to speak out for or against same-sex marriage, but they cannot use the resources of their churches to elect or defeat candidates,” said the Rev. Barry W. Lynn, executive director of Americans United. “Uniting houses of worship with partisan politics makes for a bad marriage – and an unlawful one to boot.”
Lynn said Americans United will monitor the situation and will not hesitate to report churches to the Internal Revenue Service if they use their tax-exempt resources to intervene in any election by endorsing or opposing candidates.
Federal tax law says 501(c)(3) non-profit groups, including houses of worship, may not “participate in, or intervene in (including the publishing or distributing of statements), any political campaign on behalf of (or in opposition to) any candidate for public office.”...(Click for remainder.)
The Huffington Post
A first shot, of sorts, is being fired in the Obama-era battle for health care reform.
Organizing for America, President Obama's political arm, is blasting out an email to its massive list of supporters urging them to join an "Organizing for Health Care" campaign.
The message emphasizes Obama's "three bedrock principles" for reform -- reduce costs, guarantee choice, and "ensure affordable care for all" -- and presses the president's "hard goal" of getting a health overhaul passed into law by the end of this year.
Read the full email below, authored by Mitch Stewart, the executive director of OFA.
Monday morning, an unlikely gathering of health care industry and union leaders emerged from the White House, announcing a historic agreement to lower medical costs and save the average family up to $2,500. This kind of broad coalition would have been unthinkable in the past, when the old politics of division and short-term self interest held sway. But this is a new day.
Yesterday afternoon, President Obama announced the three bedrock principles that any comprehensive health care reform must achieve: (1) reduce costs, (2) guarantee choice, and (3) ensure all Americans have quality, affordable health care. And he set a hard goal for getting it done by the end of this year.
For those determined to oppose reform, the President's announcement means lobbyists are already scrambling across D.C. For the rest of us, it means there's no time to lose. As we speak, Congress is negotiating the details for health care reform, so the first step is showing where the American people stand....(Click for remainder.)
The Texas Board of Education should remove language from proposed science standards that opens the door to teaching religious concepts in public schools, says Americans United for Separation of Church and State.
“Texas can either have world-class science standards or allow fundamentalists to sneak religion into classrooms through the back door,” said the Rev. Barry W. Lynn, executive director of Americans United. “It can’t do both.”
The board has been deliberating the science curriculum for months. At issue is a set of standards known as Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS). The science standards are under review, and a faction on the board insists on using them to promote religion.
In December, a curriculum-writing team proposed standards that emphasize sound science. The following month, the board adopted the standards but added language that scientific, educational and civil liberties organizations say would compromise the teaching of evolution.
The board will meet March 26 to discuss the issue with a final vote scheduled for March 27.
In a letter to the board today, Americans United urged members to uphold sound science and reject any schemes intended to advance religion in the classroom.
Noting that religious instruction belongs in the home, not public schools, AU State Legislative Counsel Dena S. Sher argues that the language in the standards could lead to litigation....(Click for remainder.)
Shyster Says O'Reilly's "Marry a Turtle" Argument is "Ridiculous" "Illogical" and "Stupid"...THANK YOU DAVID!
The New York Times
It is hard to imagine an area in which Congress has more express constitutional authority to act than in protecting the right of minorities to vote.
When the Civil War ended and the hard work began in creating a nation with a single standard of citizenship, the 14th Amendment was adopted to make it clear that blacks had equal rights. The 15th Amendment said the right to vote could not be denied or abridged on account of race.
Both amendments gave Congress the “power to enforce” them “by appropriate legislation.”
But that is not how much of the current Supreme Court — perhaps a majority — seem to see it. The case — widely considered this term’s most watched — is a challenge to the heart of the Voting Rights Act, its Section 5. The court may be on the brink of ruling that Congress did not have the power to reauthorize it.
The post-Civil War amendments were a turning point. The first 11 amendments were a list of things the government could not do, and the 12th Amendment was a technical fix.
The 13th Amendment, which barred slavery, the 14th Amendment and the 15th Amendment were the first to give the federal government new powers. The nation had a large problem, eradicating the vestiges of slavery and racial inequality, and it knew that Congress needed potent tools to get the job done.
When the framers drafted these amendments, they were worried that Congress would have too little power to get the job done, not too much. Senator Lyman Trumbull warned that if Congress’s authority were interpreted too narrowly, “the trumpet of freedom that we have been blowing throughout the land has given an ‘uncertain sound,’ and the promised freedom is a delusion.”...(Click for remainder.)
By James Kirchick
The New Republic
It's a sunny Friday afternoon in April, and Frank Ricchiazzi is addressing the annual convention of the Log Cabin Republicans at a hotel ballroom in downtown Washington. He is speaking about betrayal. A squat, goateed Vietnam vet from California, Ricchiazzi helped found the gay GOP activist group, and, among Log Cabin members, he is known as "the Godfather." He begins his speech by reminiscing about the organization's early days in the late 1970s. At the time, it had only two chapters, in San Francisco and Orange County, and "we didn't agree on anything," Ricchiazzi recalls. Nevertheless, gay Republicans were "la famiglia" and realized that, "so long as the family stayed together ... we would prosper."
Everyone in the room knows what Ricchiazzi is alluding to. Days earlier, two former Log Cabin employees had announced the launch of a new gay conservative organization, GOProud (pronounced "Go-Proud"). Already, it had received glowing endorsements from conservative activist Grover Norquist and Wall Street Journal columnist William McGurn. The Godfather does not seem pleased by this development. "We're a family," he intones. "If you've got problems, you come to the family and talk about them." His voice rises as he continues: "Anybody who breaks away from the family"--but, before he can take this line of thought any further, his audience cuts him off with applause. "Whatever garbage is out there, it's for going to the dump!" he concludes, in colorful, if not completely coherent, fashion.
Ricchiazzi's "family" is in trouble, and has been for a while. In January, the Washington Blade revealed that the Log Cabin Republicans were $100,000 in debt. A month later, another Blade story reported that a substantial chunk of the organization's budget was coming from the Gill Action Fund, an organization founded by multimillionaire gay activist Tim Gill that mostly donates to Democrats. This led some Republicans to grumble that the group was under the control of liberals. One former board member alleged to Newsweek that Gill "bought and paid for" the organization's decision not to endorse President Bush in 2004. Meanwhile, the group has yet to find a replacement for its most recent executive director, Patrick Sammon, who departed in January. It is currently being run by part-time staff.
And, now, on top of everything, a new organization has emerged that threatens to splinter an already small subset of the population--gay GOP activists--even further. Is there really room in Washington for two gay Republican groups?...(Click for remainder.)
Via The Raw Story
Former Minnesota governor Jesse Ventura laid into Dick Cheney on CNN Monday night for, among other things, supporting waterboarding and maligning a "war hero" during an interview on Sunday.
"I was water boarded, so I know -- at SERE School, Survival Escape Resistance Evasion," the former wrestler who gained his first mainstream fame playing a role in the sci-fi actioner Predator told CNN's Larry King. "It was a required school you had to go to prior to going into the combat zone, which in my era was Vietnam. All of us had to go there. We were all, in essence -- every one of us was water boarded. It is torture."
King asked, "What was it like?"
"It's drowning," Ventura responded. "It gives you the complete sensation that you are drowning. It is no good, because you -- I'll put it to you this way, you give me a water board, Dick Cheney and one hour, and I'll have him confess to the Sharon Tate murders."
"I don't have a lot of respect for Dick Cheney," Ventura said. "Here's a guy who got five deferments from the Vietnam War. Clearly, he's a coward. He wouldn't go when it was his time to go. And now he is a chicken hawk. Now he is this big tough guy who wants this hardcore policy. And he's the guy that sanctioned all this torture by calling it enhanced interrogation."
King asked, "Do you think Rush Limbaugh's a better Republican than Colin Powell?"...(Click for remainder.)
Obama has just made a terrible choice in his new commander for Afghanistan.
By choosing Lt. Gen. Stanley McChrystal, Obama shows how indifferent he is to the serious allegations that have swirled around McChrystal, a darling of the Bush-Cheney regime.
It was McChrystal, after all, who approved a medal for Pat Tillman, the former NFL star, saying he fell under “devastating enemy fire.” But just a day later, McChrystal warned the White House that it might have been friendly fire, not enemy fire.
And, according to Seymour Hersh, McChrystal was the guy who was running Cheney’s assassination squads. From 2003-2008, McChrystal headed the Joint Special Operations Command, which Hersh called “an executive assassination wing” that reported directly to Cheney’s office.
What’s more, Esquire has reported that McChrystal authorized torture at a secret camp, where two detainees died under interrogation, and expressly prohibited the Red Cross from entering the camp, which would be a double violation of the Geneva Conventions.
McChrystal’s promotion mocks Obama’s rhetoric about making a clean break with the torture regime of Bush and Cheney.
The last we thing we need is a gonzo general in charge of Afghanistan....(Click for original.)
Fmr. Powell Deputy Unloads on Cheney: “destroying what’s left of Republican Party” … “go home and shut up” … “five deferments” … “never served a day in the military”
The Huffington Post
Enough already, Mr. Edwards. Your wife and mistress are in the early stages of fighting it out in public. It's not exactly newsworthy at this late date but no matter. It's so sensational that of course it's something that both hard news and the entertainment / celebrity news industry.
The problem is all the damn lying. It's the constant lying that you've done and had others do for you to this very day. It's the lying that necessitated you and your supporters attacking The National Enquirer or Mickey Kaus; people who were telling the truth about you. It's the lies and misdirection that your deceit foments to this day. It's how you're treating those who defended you, believed in you, or mothered your children.
You could end this stupidity fairly quickly by simply telling the truth and clearing up all the lies you've told already.
And this is why you're contemptible. You're sitting by and watching your wife embarrass herself on national television while your mistress is living in exlie with a daughter who has no father listed on the birth certificate. That's not the past, it's today. Right now. You see this, you know this, and let it keep happening.
Elizabeth is particularly painful to watch, especially for anyone who knows anything at all about the facts and timeline of this story. She's lying but at this point I just pity her. She's a smart woman who's partially in deep denial and partially just trying to keep the seams from showing on all the untruths she's spun defending you up to this point.
Take a simple question asked by Larry King. King asked your wife how she felt when she saw the tabloid reports of your affair. Elizabeth rambled a little about how untrustworthy the tabloids were. Then she said that she dismissed the rumors when she first saw them in the headlines....(Click for remainder.)
By Thomas Frank
The Tilting Yard @ The Wall Street Journal
Last week, the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform approved a bill to provide paid parental leave to federal workers and thus make government employment more attractive. The committee's ranking Republican, Rep. Darrell Issa of California, reportedly opposed the measure because he fears, among other things, that rascally federal workers will scam the system, piling up child after child just to claim the four weeks of paid leave.
They "could have one adoption or one foster child per year, resulting in every year you get a new foster child," Mr. Issa said, according to the Washington Post. "Every year the husband and wife if they are both federal workers would take four weeks off with pay, because they have simply taken in a new foster child."
Mr. Issa's suspicions may be grotesque but they are also typical of the conservative movement. The government and its bureaucrats are, to the right, ever a malign force -- jealous, power-hungry and greedy. But it's hard to blame someone for failing after you've worked so hard to make them fail.
The world knows about the Republican Party's problems these days -- its purges, denunciations and defections. On the other hand, reconstituting itself as a more uniformly conservative organization might let the GOP free itself from the taint of the Bush years and fight big government in the Reagan manner.
But I doubt it. Even when conservatism is made pure, it won't be able to govern. Its bottomless suspicion toward federal workers is part of the reason.
Let us turn, for further illustration, to a different episode in the career of Mr. Issa. We have already seen what he thinks government bureaucrats are capable of doing. But back in March 2008, when the subject before his committee was CEO compensation in what was then being called the "mortgage crisis," his suspicious streak was nowhere in evidence....(Click for remainder.)
|Monday morning, an unlikely gathering of health care industry and union leaders emerged from the White House, announcing a historic agreement to lower medical costs and save the average family up to $2,500. This kind of broad coalition would have been unthinkable in the past, when the old politics of division and short-term self interest held sway. But this is a new day. |
Yesterday afternoon, President Obama announced the three bedrock principles that any comprehensive health care reform must achieve: (1) reduce costs, (2) guarantee choice, and (3) ensure all Americans have quality, affordable health care. And he set a hard goal for getting it done by the end of this year.
For those determined to oppose reform, the President's announcement means lobbyists are already scrambling across D.C. For the rest of us, it means there's no time to lose. As we speak, Congress is negotiating the details for health care reform, so the first step is showing where the American people stand.
Please click below to sign a declaration of support urging Congress to follow President Obama's three core principles for health care reform -- and to enact them before the end of this year:
(The more signatures we have, the more powerful our message will be, so please add your name and then forward this note on to family and friends.)
The health care crisis is not new, but it's getting worse. For decades, real health care reform has been blocked by special interest lobbying and political point-scoring. We simply cannot go any further down this dangerous road of delay and denial. But we don't have to.
Yesterday's agreement marks only the beginning of the broad coalition we need. The most important reason this round of health care reform will be different is you. Last fall millions of regular people came together and did the impossible. Now, we've got to roll up our sleeves, join hands with those new to our movement, and do it again.
Congress is already hammering out the details of the health care package, and it could still go any number of ways. Our representatives need to understand that when the President lays out these three bedrock principles, Americans of every stripe are standing with him. Yesterday's diverse gathering was a powerful start -- and now it's up to us.
It's time to stand up. Please sign the declaration of support today:
Reducing costs, guaranteeing choice, and ensuring care for all are ambitious goals, but they are nothing less than what the American people deserve. And passing real health care reform this year is nothing less than what the American people need.
Organizing for America
P.S. -- Here are some excerpts from the President's announcement yesterday that lay out the three principles for health care reform and why we need it this year. Please forward this note to people who want to know where the President stands.
In the coming weeks and months, Congress will be engaged in the difficult issue of how best to reform health care in America. I'm committed to building a transparent process where all views are welcome. But I'm also committed to ensuring that whatever plan we design upholds three basic principles: First, the rising cost of health care must be brought down; second, Americans must have the freedom to keep whatever doctor and health care plan they have, or to choose a new doctor or health care plan if they want it; and third, all Americans must have quality, affordable health care.
Contributions or gifts to the Democratic National Committee are not deductible as charitable contributions for federal income tax purposes.
The Colorado Independent
Not to be outdone by Joe-the-Plumber’s recent rant about not letting “queers” near his children, former U.S. Rep. Marilyn Musgrave has penned a fiery letter promoting her new gig at “Votes Have Consequences.”
“We will spread the truth about their destructive agendas, drag down their approval ratings, force them to publicly defend socialism, authoritarian gun-grabbing, gay marriage, infanticide and everything else they vote for in Washington, and ultimately, on November 2, 2010, we will take their jobs away from them.”The Coloradoan’s Bob Moore snagged a copy of Musgrave’s letter but unfortunately didn’t link to a scanned version for all to read its resplendent post-election fury.
The excerpts are tempestuous, even for the former congresswoman’s acerbic standards, with a closing grudge-match swipe at national GOP leadership for pulling its support of Musgrave’s flagging campaign with just weeks to go before Election Day:
In the letter, Musgrave said she lost in a landslide to Betsy Markey in 2008 because “the radical homosexual lobby, abortionists, gun-grabbers and all the rest of the extremists finally spent enough money, spread enough lies, and fooled enough voters to defeat me.”“Votes Have Consequences” is a tax-exempt, social welfare project of the Susan B. Anthony List, the conservative, antiabortion response to and polar opposite of the better known reproductive rights group, EMILY’s List....(Click for remainder.)
But she found a silver lining. “Now that I’m no longer in Congress, there is truly a feeling of freedom. I’m not shackled by the constraints of the Washington political world or even the Republican Party. I am free. Free to confront the Left directly and continue to stand strong to protect our families, our values and our country against their relentless attack.”
“I’m launching Votes Have Consequences to play a critical role in that fight — to attack liberal candidates who deserve to be attacked, and to defend conservatives when the Republican National Committee is nowhere to be found.”
Rep. Joe Barton (R-Texas) is concerned about the plight of marathon runners under a cap-and-trade plan. No, we’re not making this up.
Barton, the ranking Republican on the Energy and Commerce Committee and a vocal climate skeptic, told conservative magazine Newsmax in an interview published on Monday that he is worried that regulating greenhouse-gas emissions under the Clean Air Act would lead to the regulation of everything under the sun—including marathoners.
Barton says the average healthy adult exhales between four-tenths of a ton and seven-tenths of a ton of CO2 a year.Never mind that EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson has indicated she has no interest in regulating small sources—the agency’s regulations would target major industrial sources emitting at least 25,000 metric tons of carbon per year, as well as the transportation sector. And no, the “transportation sector” doesn’t include runners....(Click for original.)
“So if you put 20,000 marathoners into a confined area, you could consider that a single source of pollution, and you could regulate it,” Barton says. “The key would be whether the EPA said that 20,000 people running the same route was one source or not.”
One indication that the EPA likely would consider 20,000 runners a single source of pollution is that the agency is trying to regulate waste-water runoff and emissions of drilling rigs in oil fields by attempting to define entire areas as a single source of pollution, Barton says.
The Colorado Independent
A poison pill amendment to simultaneously weaken a consumer-friendly credit card reform bill and reverse a hold on a controversial Bush Administration rule to allow concealed guns in national parks won U.S. Senate approval late Tuesday.
Colorado Democratic Sens. Michael Bennet and Mark Udall backed the measure introduced today by ultra-conservative Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., following a weekend compromise by Senate Banking Committee members that further watered down some consumer protections but still not to the liking of the lobbyist-heavy financial industry.
The 67-29 bi-partisan vote, with one Republican defection with the “no” votes, adds a possible legislative override to the court-blocked Bush Administration 11th-hour rule to permit loaded, concealed firearms in national parks, historical centers and wildlife refuges.
The gun rule is currently stymied by a temporary injunction issued by U.S. District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly in response to a complaint filed by the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence and National Parks Conservation Association. The Obama Administration decided last month that it would not defend the rule in court after the judge called the government’s process for implementing the gun regulation “astoundingly flawed.”...(Click for remainder.)
EUOBSERVER / BRUSSELS - Ex-Belgian prime minister Guy Verhofstadt has strongly criticised the European Commission for failing to be more active in tackling the current economic crisis.
Mr Verhofstadt, who heads the Liberal list in Belgium's Flanders region for the June European elections, accused the commission of staying "silent" in the face of Europe's recession.
"It is the duty of the commission to take the initiative", said the politician, referring to the institution's right to propose laws.
Speaking in Brussels to promote his new book, Emerging from the crisis, how Europe can save the world, Mr Verhofstadt, a strong EU federalist, said the only way to bolster the EU is to massively increase it's spending, recapitalise banks, issue eurobonds, set up a European financial supervisor and a single European bank for bad assets.
He drew parallels with Japan, which, with it's similarly over-heated housing market and ageing population in the 1990s plunged into recession and then took about a decade to come out of economic stagnation.
Mr Verhofstadt noted that it was only when Tokyo implemented a plan to rescue the banks that Japan's economy started to recover.
"Recovery must come from the resumption of lending by the financial markets rather than from any government stimulus package."
He poured scorn on the fact that there is no single European recovery plan, rather "27 separate ones" and how little is being spent by governments. With automatic stabilisers such as welfare payments included, the EU as a whole is spending only half of what the US is using to tackle the crisis (€600bn).
Mr Verhofstadt also argued that Europe "for purely economic reasons" as well as for environmental reasons should "switch to a low-carbon economy."...(Click for remainder.)
The New York Times
Among their many aspirations for his presidency, Barack Obama’s admirers nurse a persistent hope that he might be able to end the culture wars. And by end, they generally mean win. The real hope is a final victory for cultural liberalism, and social conservatism’s permanent eclipse.
These hopes are overstated, but not necessarily irrational. Four months in, the Obama administration does seem to have a plausible strategy for turning the “social issues” to liberalism’s advantage. The outline is simple: Engage on abortion, and punt on gay rights.
The punting has been obvious. On the campaign trail, Obama promised to repeal the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy. He still intends to — but not yet, not yet. He said he supported federal recognition for civil unions. His administration has ignored the issue. He backed repealing the Defense of Marriage Act. Don’t expect that to come up for a vote any time soon.
The engagement with pro-lifers, thus far, has been limited to putting a conciliatory gloss on the usual pro-choice policymaking. But a formal outreach effort is in the works. The White House is hosting meetings seeking common ground on abortion, promising policy proposals geared toward abortion reduction by this summer.
Both strategies make political sense. Gay-rights activists are irritated with Obama, but time is on their side. Gay marriage is marching through liberal states (last week, Maine; soon, New York), and public opinion, steadily tilting in its direction, seems to be tilting faster in the last six months. On a national level, the issue still cuts against liberalism — but less so with every passing day. By pushing gay-rights debates off until later in his presidency, Obama is almost certainly making them easier to win....(Click for remainder.)
ALBANY — The state Assembly passed legislation Tuesday night that would allow same-sex marriages in New York, but the measure faces an uncertain future in the state Senate.
The Democratic-led Assembly voted 89-52 after nearly four hours of debate on whether New York should join five other states in allowing gay couples to receive marriage licenses.
"I am entitled to the same paper you have, whether you want me to or not," said Assemblyman Daniel O'Donnell, D-Manhattan, the first openly gay male member of the Assembly.
In response, Assemblyman Michael Fitzpatrick, R-Suffolk County, said: "Dan, you may someday get that paper. It won't be with my vote."
The Assembly first passed the measure in 2007, but with fewer votes: 85-61. And this time, five Republicans and one Independence Party member, Tim Gordon of the Albany area, supported it, compared to four Republicans in 2007.
Republican votes included Assemblyman Joel Miller, R-Poughkeepsie, who voted in favor of the legislation in 2007.
Some Democrats also changed their positions, among five Assembly members who dropped their opposition since 2007.
Assemblywoman Sandra Galef, D-Ossining, Westchester County, said in 2007 she supported civil unions for gay couples and voted against the measure. But she said she's since talked to more constituents, studied the issue further and now recognizes the importance of same-sex marriage.
"I was wrong," she said on the Assembly floor, adding that "It's important to be able to change your vote" and that others should consider doing the same.
Same-sex marriage advocates said the Assembly's passage of the legislation will put added pressure on the Senate to act. Democrats took control of the Senate in January.
Gov. David Paterson said he would sign the bill into law if it comes to his desk. But so far, there does not appear to be the 32 votes in the Senate to pass the measure.
O'Donnell, who sponsored the legislation, said in an interview that by passing the legislation in mid-May, compared to in June as in 2007, will hopefully give the Senate enough time to pass it. The legislative session ends in late June....(Click for remainder.)
The Financial Times
David Geffen, the former record executive who made an offer for the Los Angeles Times two years ago, now wants to buy the New York Times, according to people close to the situation.
Mr Geffen, a co-founder of DreamWorks SKG, made an offer in the past two months for the 19.8 per cent stake in the New York Times Company held by Harbinger Capital Partners, the activist US hedge fund controlled by Philip Falcone.
His offer was rebuffed, two people familiar with its details said. One of these said the offer was made at the prevailing market price but Harbinger wanted a premium, adding that Mr Geffen remained interested in owning the company and would be "a patient buyer".
Harbinger, Mr Geffen and the Times declined to comment, but Mr Geffen's interest, first reported by Fortune.com, could complicate the future control of America's most prestigious newspaper company.
The Ochs-Sulzberger family, which controls the New York Times through a class of shares with super-voting rights, was forced to borrow $250m from Carlos Slim , the Mexican telecommunications billionaire, on terms that could allow him to raise his stake beyond the current 6.9 per cent to become one of its biggest shareholders.
Mr Geffen would not mount a hostile challenge to Arthur Sulzberger Jr, the company's chairman, the person familiar with the situation said. Mr Sulzberger told shareholders recently the company was not for sale.
There is no clear path to control through the Harbinger stake, given the family's grip on voting rights.
However, Mr Geffen's interest comes amid speculation that the family's loyalty may wane as its dividend income has dried up amid the company's cash crunch....(Click for remainder.)
I usually agree with what Keith Olbermann has to say, but this time I couldn't disagree with him more. I think Wanda Sykes was right on the money with her satire. She was giving the same kind of vitriol that Limbaugh spews on a daily basis. If they can't take the heat, then get out of the kitchen.
The Philadelphia Inquirer
Given the recent flurry of states saying "I do" to same-sex marriage, nationwide legalization is "a sure thing," says the executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union.
"Clearly, the momentum is on our side," says Anthony Romero, 43, the first openly gay person (and first Puerto Rican) to head the ACLU in its 89-year history. "It's just a matter of time."
Just last week, Maine's legislature voted to legalize gay marriage, New Hampshire passed a law that awaits the governor's signature, and the District of Columbia voted to recognize out-of-state unions.
Massachusetts, Iowa, Vermont, and Connecticut allow gays to marry. In California, the state Supreme Court will rule on the repeal of Proposition 8, which bans gay marriage.
A Pennsylvania statute prohibits same-sex marriage, but two legislative efforts to add a state Constitution amendment banning such unions failed. In New Jersey, Gov. Corzine says he will sign a same-sex marriage bill if one reaches his desk.
Romero is expected in town today to discuss the current outlook on homosexual rights at the annual meeting of the ACLU's Greater Philadelphia chapter.
Same-sex marriage is nothing new to the 550,000-member ACLU. Its first challenge to a state law restricting matrimony to opposite-sex couples was filed in 1970 on behalf of a male duo in Minnesota. They lost.
Gay marriage remains a top priority for the ACLU, behind only national-security issues, says Romero, who began his tenure four days before 9/11.
Support for same-sex marriage is on the rise, with the latest ABC News/Washington Post poll showing 49 percent of Americans favoring legalization - up from 32 percent in 2004.
Moreover, the shift has spread across ideological lines. Approval among conservatives has tripled, to 30 percent....(Click for remainder.)
Open Letter to President Obama and Every Member of Congress:
I have learned many lessons in the ten years since I first raised my right hand at the United States Military Academy at West Point and committed to fighting for my country. The lessons of courage, integrity, honesty and selfless service are some of the most important.
At West Point, I recited the Cadet Prayer every Sunday. It taught us to “choose the harder right over the easier wrong” and to “never be content with a half truth when the whole can be won.” The Cadet Honor Code demanded truthfulness and honesty. It imposed a zero-tolerance policy against deception, or hiding behind comfort.
Following the Honor Code never bowed to comfortable timing or popularity. Honor and integrity are 24-hour values. That is why I refuse to lie about my identity.
I have personally served for a decade under Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell: an immoral law and policy that forces American soldiers to deceive and lie about their sexual orientation. Worse, it forces others to tolerate deception and lying. These values are completely opposed to anything I learned at West Point. Deception and lies poison a unit and cripple a fighting force.
As an infantry officer, an Iraq combat veteran and a West Point graduate with a degree in Arabic, I refuse to lie to my commanders. I refuse to lie to my peers. I refuse to lie to my subordinates. I demand honesty and courage from my soldiers. They should demand the same from me.
I am committed to applying the leadership lessons I learned at West Point. With 60 other LGBT West Point graduates, I helped form our organization, Knights Out, to fight for the repeal of this discriminatory law and educate cadets and soldiers after the repeal occurs. When I receive emails from deployed soldiers and veterans who feel isolated, alone, and even suicidal because the torment of rejection and discrimination, I remember my leadership training: soldiers cannot feel alone, especially in combat. Leaders must reach out. They can never diminish the fighting spirit of a soldier by tolerating discrimination and isolation. Leaders respect the honor of service. Respecting each soldier’s service is my personal promise....(Click for remainder.)