At Liberty

Mitt Romney today made one more stride at fusing church and state, with his speech at Liberty University. His pandering seems to know no boundaries.

In one fell swoop, Romney sucked up to the “religious” right and fumblingly grabbed at the youth vote, a demographic for which he desperately needs to gain traction.  (I hope, for his sake, that he doesn’t consider the students at Liberty University as being representative of the youth vote.)

The line in his speech that made the 30,000 or so lemmings in the stadium leap to their feet and applaud was:

“I believe that Marriage is a relationship between one man and one woman.”

This, of course, is the same person who claimed in 1994 that he was going to be to the left of Ted Kennedy on gay rights.  This is the also same person who signed the nation’s first marriage equality law into effect.

Does anyone else find it somewhat ironic that a speech advocating significantly restricting liberty is being delivered at Liberty University?

View the Mitt’s entire speech at Liberty University (if you can stomach it) in the video above.

A One Way Ticket to Nowhere

Shepard Smith of Fox News has recently made some statements on the air that are in direct contradiction to the “values” that are otherwise expressed on-air by those at Fox.  He blasted Newt Gingrich immediately after Newt’s rambling, self-aggrandizing concession speech.  And, more recently, he called out the Republicans for their position on marriage equality, stating essentially that the GOP is choosing to be on the wrong side of history.

Smith has hardly been the consummate truth-teller during his time with Fox.  But one wonders if his current contrary positions put him in career jeopardy.  Others at Fox seem much more willing to toe the line.

And if one thinks that Smith is possibly putting is job at risk, one also must wonder where else someone like Smith would find employment.

The journey to Fox News for any journalist seems to be a one-way dead-end street.  Journalists and personalities have come from other more legitimate media outlets to Fox News:  Brit Hume, Chris Wallace, Greta Van Sustern.  But I can’t think of anyone who has left Fox News who has continued their career path elsewhere.

When you go to work for Fox News, it would appear that the deal that you  make with the devil is this:  We’ll keep you employed at a competitive salary, but you give up any journalistic credibility you may have and therefore are essentially unemployable anywhere else.

It’s sort of a self-regulating agreement, too; you know that you can’t stray too far from the Fox talking points because there’s nowhere else for you to go.  Once you leave legitimate broadcast journalism, you’ll turn into the proverbial pillar of salt if you look back.

I fear for Shepard Smith.

We Love Us Some Tamron

Tamron Hall, MSNBC’s afternoon host and occasional Today show anchor/contributor, invited Romney apologist Tim Carney to talk about some of the statements that Romney has made in the last few days on the campaign trail. When Carney tried to hijack the interview, Ms. Hall was having none of it.

The video speaks for itself.

Holding a Losing Hand

The headlines today concerning the Republican politicians’ response to President Obama’s endorsement of marriage equality either refer to a tepid, tiptoe response or make note of the general lack of response altogether.

While a few foolhardy mouthpieces tried to frame Obama’s statements as some kind of a flip-flop on gay issues, most GOP politicians were uncharacteristically quiet or guarded about their response.  (The usual suspects in the “religious” right wasted no time in mouthing off, but that’s par for the course.)

I’m sure there are a number of theories circulating as to why this has happened.  But my guess is that the Republican politicians are relatively certain that they cannot win by focusing on this issue.  I suspect that many of the Republicans have LGBT staffers, know LGBT people, perhaps even have gay family member (except for the occasional member of Congress who boasts overconfidently that they don’t).  I’d like to believe that there is sufficient conscience remaining in at least some of the GOP not to continue the tradition of claiming that their personal beliefs are one thing and their policy decisions are completely detached from those personal beliefs.  That “some-of-my-best-friends-are-gay” line will not work in this day and age.

The only outcome for Republicans if they raise a stink about this issue is that they will make themselves look even more extreme than they already have.  There may still be some Republicans who have a concern for their respective political legacy.  As many others have said, they’re clearly on the wrong side of history.

Pundits today have been talking about the risk that Obama took today, and there may indeed be some.  But the Republicans need to attract moderate voters in the upcoming election, as well; the risk may be even greater for them than for the President.  They’ve already done their best to drive away women, Latinos, and the LGBT community.  If they veer much farther to the right, they may go over a cliff.

Read more on Politico about the GOP’s silence:

A Preview of Things to Come

The nutjobs on the “religious” right are coming out in full force. The age of reason apparently hasn’t reached this constituency yet.

Given the heat that the President’s endorsement of marriage equality is generating, we can expect more of this irrational, fact-free rhetoric coming from the right. The fear that the world is changing around them seems to have provoked Perkins and others to behave in even more absurd and backwards ways.

Fortunately, there are folks like Barney Frank who can approach subjects logically and rationally. Is it wrong for me to giggle when Barney Frank makes mincemeat out of Tony Perkins?

If we’re lucky, Congressman Frank will be even more outspoken when he’s no longer in Congress. And if we’re really lucky, Tony Perkins and his kindred spirits will just go away.

Argentina Bests U.S., 2-0

While politicians in the U.S. are still busy squabbling about women’s health issues that sane people believed to have been settled decades ago, Argentina has now passed a law making sure that gender identity rights are protected.  Sex-change surgery or hormone therapy are now required to be provided by both public and private health insurance.

Same-sex marriage was made legal in that country a couple of years back.

“We’re number one.” Yeah. Right. It rings kinda hollow.


Read more:

Afterglow Reality Check

The LGBT community and progressives are understandably celebrating yesterday’s interview with Barack Obama in which he announced his support for marriage equality.  He did so with considerable political risk, because he knew that, in addition to galvanizing support among LGBT folks, he would also galvanize his opposition among the uber-conservatives.

With his announcement, everything change and nothing changed.

Everything changed, because for the first time, an American president has publicly stated his full support for true equal rights.

Nothing changed, because in practical terms, the needle hasn’t moved one bit between May 8th (the day before he made the announcement) to May 10th (the day after he made the announcement).

There are still monumental hurdles to be overcome before LGBT people enjoy the same rights and freedoms that the rest of Americans enjoy.

How and when that parity is to be achieved is still to be determined.  If it’s via the legislature, there’s truly a steep uphill climb to convince many of our less-than-forward-thinking Senators and Representatives to move away from the dark side.  If it’s via the courts, there are likely years of court battles and challenges ahead.

But we can take a moment to feel pride and relief that this president has chosen to be on the right side of history.

North Carolina’s True Colors

Every now and then, I meet someone from North Carolina or one of the other Southern states who is sheepish or contrite about their state’s reputation.  They seem to go out of their way to change the perception that folks from other parts of the country have about them.

Their countenance is akin to the embarrassed or apologetic attitude that many Americans displayed when traveling abroad during the Bush presidency. “We’re not all like that,” people would feel obligated to say when presenting an American passport.

Tonight’s resounding passage of the anti-gay Amendment 1 to North Carolina’s state constitution (with a 20% margin) is just another example of those things that reasonable people end up apologizing for.

I try to have empathy for those well-meaning folks in those places that perhaps aren’t collectively so well-meaning. But it’s difficult for the rest of us to comprehend when we witness things like:

  • “Religious” leaders who advocate violence against a child if the child is perceived to be gay or lesbian
  • Videos of a redneck shooting at his neighbor’s Amendment 1 lawn sign
  • Continued defense of Confederacy, along with unapologetic display of the Confederate flag

And now:

  • Enthusiastic passage of a constitutional amendment not only to ensure that an already exclusionary law can’t be rescinded but also to take away more rights previously provided to some of its citizens

The bottom line is that if people in the South don’t want to be stereotyped as peckerwoods, hillbillies, hicks, or rednecks, they have to stop acting like peckerwoods, hillbillies, hicks, and rednecks.

The good people of the South need to marginalize the folks who believe and behave like this.  Places like North Carolina can’t be changed by outsiders.  They can only be changed from within.  Only by the well-meaning people in these places speaking up, taking action, and educating their fellow citizens can the narrow-minded legacy of the Jesse Helms era be erased.  And until critical mass is achieved, the rest of the nation (and the world) is going to continue thinking of those places where you live as being backwards.  Because, by the standards of the rest of the world, they are.

Glare Ice from the Dick

If you’ve ever wondered how a transcript can fail to take nuance into account, consider the following exchange yesterday between Dick Cheney and Wolf Blitzer:

BLITZER: You know, we’re out of time, but a couple of issues I want to raise with you: your daughter, Mary. She’s pregnant. All of us are happy she’s going to have a baby. You’re going to have another grandchild. Some of the — some critics are suggesting — for example, a statement from someone representing Focus on the Family, “Mary Cheney’s pregnancy raises the question of what’s best for children. Just because it’s possible to conceive a child outside of the relationship of a married mother and father doesn’t mean that it’s best for the child.” Do you want to respond to that?

CHENEY: No.

BLITZER: She’s, obviously, a good daughter —

CHENEY: I’m delighted I’m about to have a sixth grandchild, Wolf. And obviously I think the world of both my daughters and all of my grandchildren. And I think, frankly, you’re out of line with that question.

BLITZER: I think all of us appreciate —

CHENEY: I think you’re out of line.

BLITZER: We like your daughters. Believe me, I’m very sympathetic to Liz and to Mary. I like them both. That was a question that’s come up, and it’s a responsible, fair question.

CHENEY: I just fundamentally disagree with you.

BLITZER: I want to congratulate you on having another grandchild.

Absent from the written transcript are the icy glares of the VP, along with Blitzer’s bad-little-boy look when Cheney challenged him. Blitzer’s physical reaction to Cheney made a deer in the headlights seem like a Tibetan monk deep in meditation. (CNN has also conveniently edited out all of the uncomfortable pauses from the video that they now have posted on their website.)

Here’s the unedited version:

Mary Cheney herself is a public figure. For whatever reason, she decided to go public about her homosexuality and her surrogacy. (She conveniently managed to avoid talking about any of that until there was a book deal in the works and until her father’s tenuous 2004 election campaign was already over with.) How absurd that Daddy Dick considers all of this a private matter.

The fact that Dick can’t own up to this is newsworthy, particularly because the administration that Dick so staunchly defends (perhaps “barricades” would be a better word) is making policy decisions about gay marriage, gays in the military, etc. Why shouldn’t he have to explain his position and the disparity between his personal life (the oh-so-sacred family) and his public positions? Cheney, as a man with apparently no conscience, simply cannot reconcile the fact his job was made possible in part by organizations like Focus on the Family, who condemn his own daughter without compunction. So his only option is to lash out. What a scumbag.

It was not, however, Blitzer’s only option to weenie out and back away. Apparently, he’s been following Larry King’s lead when it comes to follow-up questions. I got news for you, Wolf. The tension that you almost created but then backed away from is what makes both good journalism and compelling television.