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“Something Is The Matter With Kansas”: When Does The Madness End?

Kansas State Representative Keith Esau has introduced a bill that would eliminate no-fault divorce in the Sunflower State. He has some interesting ideas on matrimony:

“No-fault divorce gives people an easy out instead of working at it,” Esau told The Wichita Eagle on Friday. “It would be my hope that they could work out their incompatibilities and learn to work together on things.”

…Esau disputed the suggestion that bill was an example of government overreach. He said the state gives benefits to married couples, such as tax breaks, so couples shouldn’t enter into the institution of marriage lightly.

Moreover, he said, the state has a vested interest in supporting “strong families,” and divorce undermines that.

“I think we’ve made divorce way too easy in this country,” he said. “If we really want to respect marriage it needs to be a commitment that people work at and don’t find arbitrary reasons to give up.”

Of course, one of the immediate effects of this law would be that couples seeking a divorce would have to face-off in court and point fingers at each other. Either that, or one of them would have to accept the blame for their failed relationship.

Divorce is tough on kids, but nasty divorces are toxic.

But this isn’t even the worst bill that was considered in the Kansas House this week.

On Tuesday, the Kansas House of Representatives overwhelmingly approved a measure designed to bring anti-gay segregation—under the guise of “religious liberty”—to the already deep-red state. The bill, written out of fear that the state may soon face an Oklahoma-style gay marriage ruling, will now easily pass the Republican Senate and be signed into law by the Republican governor. The result will mark Kansas as the first state, though certainly not the last, to legalize segregation of gay and straight people in virtually every arena of life.

If that sounds overblown, consider the bill itself. When passed, the new law will allow any individual, group, or private business to refuse to serve gay couples if “it would be contrary to their sincerely held religious beliefs.” Private employers can continue to fire gay employees on account of their sexuality. Stores may deny gay couples goods and services because they are gay. Hotels can eject gay couples or deny them entry in the first place. Businesses that provide public accommodations—movie theaters, restaurants—can turn away gay couples at the door. And if a gay couple sues for discrimination, they won’t just lose; they’ll be forced to pay their opponent’s attorney’s fees.

Unlike Rep. Esau’s idiotic no-divorce bill, the anti-gay measure will actually become law. Most likely, the federal courts will strike it down as unconstitutional, but that won’t prevent Republicans in Kansas from wasting money defending it.

 

By: Martin Longman, Washington Monthly Political Animal, February 15, 2014

February 17, 2014 Posted by | LGBT, Marriage | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“The Putin Admiration Society”: The Object Of The Right’s “Creepy Crush” Affections

The more Russian President Vladimir Putin cracked down on gay rights, the more U.S. conservatives discovered a fondness for the Russian autocrat. Indeed, support for Putin among social conservatives and leaders of the religious right movement only seems to be growing.

But in recent weeks, the right’s embrace of Putin seems to have expanded well beyond social conservatives and anti-gay activists. Eric Boehlert reported on Friday on Republican media figures backing Putin with growing enthusiasm as U.S. tensions with Syria escalate.

Note that late last month, just hours before Obama addressed the nation regarding Syria, Matt Drudge bizarrely tweeted that “Putin is the leader of the free world.”

More recently, the Putin admiration society has been on full display all across the right-wing media landscape. On his radio show, Rush Limbaugh also seemed to side with Putin…. Limbaugh appeared to be impressed by the fact Russia had compiled a 100-page report blaming Syrian rebels for the chemical weapons attack, not Russia’s longtime ally, President Bashar al-Assad. Limbaugh told his listeners: “Now, I don’t know about you, but what does it feel like to have to agree with a former KGB agent?”

RedState published a piece late last week arguing, “We’ve reached a sad state of affairs when the Russian president has more credibility than [sic] the American president but that is where we are.” Pat Buchanan defended Putin after the Russian leader prosecuted a rock band that played songs Putin didn’t like.

The Washington Times‘ Ralph Peters told Fox viewers last week, “I don’t like Putin, but I respect that guy. He is tough. He delivers what he says he’ll deliver. He knows his people. He presents himself as a real He-Man.”

How far has the right’s wild-eyed contempt for President Obama gone? Far enough that conservatives can barely contain their increasingly creepy crush on the former KGB official with an authoritarian streak.

 

By: Steve Benen, The Maddow Blog, September 9, 2013

September 10, 2013 Posted by | Conservatives, Religious Right | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Right Decision, Wrong Reason”: Let There Be No Cheers For Rob Portman

Let there be no cheers for Rob Portman.

The Ohio senator is, pardon the tautology, a conservative Republican and last week, he did something conservative Republicans do not do. He came out for same-sex marriage. This is a man whose anti-gay bona fides were so pronounced that his 2011 selection as commencement speaker at the University of Michigan law school prompted an uproar among the graduates, many of whom signed a letter protesting his appearance as an insult to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender students.

Yet, there he was, telling CNN he’s had “a change of heart.” And what prompted this? Well, as it turns out, the senator made his U-turn because of Will.

That would be Will Portman, 21, who came out to his parents two years ago. His son, the senator said, explained to them that his sexuality “was not a choice and that that’s just part of who he is.” As a result, said Portman, “I’ve come to the conclusion that for me, personally, I think this is something that we should allow people to do, to get married, and to have the joy and stability of marriage that I’ve had for over 26 years.”

It was, make no mistake, an act of paternal love and empathy and deserves to be celebrated on that basis. He did the only thing a good father could have done. And yet, if Portman’s change of mind warms the heart, it also, paradoxically, illustrates the moral cowardice so often found at the heart of social conservatism.

Look, the senator’s son is doubtless a fine and admirable young man. But with all due respect to his son, to heck with his son. This is not about Will Portman. It’s far bigger than that.

So one can’t help but be frustrated and vexed by the senator’s inability to “get it” until “it” included his son. Will explained to him that his sexuality “was not a choice”? Lovely. But was the senator not listening when all those other gay men and lesbians tried to tell him the exact same thing?

Apparently not. Like Dick Cheney, father of a lesbian daughter, Portman changed his view because the issue became personal. Which suggests a glaring lack of the courage and vision needed to put oneself into someone else’s shoes, imagine one’s way inside someone else’s life. These are capabilities that often seem to elude social conservatives.

Small wonder: If you allow yourself to see the world from someone else’s vantage point, there is a chance it will change your own. Can’t have that.

So instead we have this. And by extension of the “logic”: Here, we must wait on Herman Cain to adopt a Mexican child before he sees how offensive it is to suggest electrocuting Mexicans at the border. And if Michele Bachmann would only have an affair with a Muslim, she might stop seeing terrorists on every street corner.

Tellingly, Portman’s change of heart elicited mainly an embarrassed silence from his ideological soulmates who, 10 years ago, would have been on him like paparazzi on a Kardashian. But then, 10 years ago, gay rights was still an open question. Ten years later, that question is closing with startling speed, as in a new Washington Post-ABC News poll that finds support for same-sex marriage at a record high. Change is coming, gathering momentum like an avalanche.

And once again, conservatives will stand rebuked by history, be left on the platform by progress. Or else, split the difference, do the right thing for the wrong reasons like Rob Portman.

No, you cannot condemn a man for loving his child.

But true compassion and leadership require the ability to look beyond the narrow confines of one’s own life, to project into someone else’s situation and to want for them what you’d want for your own. Portman’s inability to do that created hardship for an untold number of gay men and lesbians.

Each of them was also someone’s child.

 

By: Leonard Pitts, Jr., The National Memo, March 20,2013

March 21, 2013 Posted by | Civil Rights, LGBT | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Stupid Is As Stupid Does”: Bobby Jindal’s Guidance To Republicans Comes With A Catch

In the wake of his party’s defeats in the 2012 elections, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal (R) has positioned himself as a leader in setting the GOP on a smarter path. He was the first Republican to publicly condemn Mitt Romney’s “gifts” comments, and soon after, Jindal declared he wants Republicans to “stop being the stupid party.”

And while these efforts are drawing praise from some on the right, let’s pause to note the superficiality of Jindal’s vision. Take his comments yesterday on Fox News, for example.

Appearing on “Fox News Sunday,” Gov. Bobby Jindal (R-LA) accused failed Senate candidates Todd Akin and Richard Mourdock of saying “stupid” and “offensive” things that damaged the Republican Party.

“We also don’t need to be saying stupid things,” he said. “Look, we had candidates in Indiana and Missouri that said offensive things that not only hurt themselves and lost us two Senate seats but also hurt the Republican Party across the board.”

On abortion, while Jindal said he’s pro-life, “we don’t need to demonize those that disagree with us. We need to respect the fact that others have come to different conclusions based on their own sincerely held beliefs.”

Here’s the detail Jindal neglected to mention: he opposes any and all abortion rights, without exception. If the Louisiana governor had his way, women impregnated by a rapist would be forced by the American government to take that pregnancy to term. The same would be true in cases of incest or pregnancies in which the health of the mother is at risk.

In other words, as far as public policy is concerned, the only difference between Jindal, Akin, and Mourdock is word choice. Jindal doesn’t want candidates in his party “saying stupid things,” but he’s entirely comfortable with those candidates adopting the same extremist positions he espouses.

Indeed, the larger irony of Jindal presenting himself as a forward-thinking, far-right leader is realizing just how odd a choice he is.

On the one hand, the Louisiana governor says he’s “had enough of this dumbed-down conservatism”; on the other, Jindal is a fierce, anti-gay culture warrior who wants children to be taught creationism and believes he participated in an exorcism.

As this relates to abortion, Jindal is effectively urging his party to adopt the same vision as Mourdock and Akin, but present their agenda with less-offensive talking points. It’s reminiscent of Charles Krauthammer’s advice to the GOP: “The problem … for Republicans is not policy but delicacy.”

They’re both misguided if they think softer, more polite language can make the right-wing social agenda seem more palatable to the American mainstream.

 

By: Steve Benen, The Maddow Blog, November 19, 2012

November 20, 2012 Posted by | Politics | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“Nothing Personal, Just Policy”: Let Me Guess, Mitt Romney Has Gay Friends

George W. Bush has gay friends. So does Sarah Palin. Amazingly, so does Rick Santorum. And let me guess: soon Mitt Romney will, too.

Every Republican politician seems to have at least one gay friend these days. That’s not too difficult: even if you tried, it would be hard to live and work in America without meeting at least one openly gay person you can get along with. But for a right-wing politician having gay friends, shall we say, has benefits. These unnamed, unseen gay friends send a message that an anti-gay politician isn’t a hater. I mean, how can you hate your friends? It’s just policy, nothing personal.

Of course, the problem is that it is personal. Having gay friends doesn’t absolve one of anti-gay prejudice any more than loving one’s wife and daughters absolves one of defunding Planned Parenthood. Even if you’d be happy to have gay people over to dinner, that doesn’t give you a pass to deny them fundamental rights.

The “gay friends” defense is weak, but popular. And Mitt Romney, scrambling to clarify his position on equal rights after President Obama’s endorsement of marriage equality, must be considering it right about now.

Romney has always been careful to stipulate that his various and elusive anti-gay policies have nothing to do with any personal anti-gay animus. This strategy was clear in a 2006 speech to the right-wing Family Research Council, recently unearthed by PFAW’s Right Wing Watch. In it, taking homophobia to a whole new level, the candidate declares that “the price of same-sex marriage is paid by the children” and amazingly asserts that marriage equality is the result of “spreading secular religion and its substitute values.” He then offers a spoon full a sugar with a call for an “outpouring of respect and tolerance for all people” and laughably encourages his listeners to “vigorously protest discrimination and bigotry.”

When President Obama announced last week that he supports marriage equality, Romney responded by repeating his opposition to not only marriage equality but also to civil unions. He then insisted that same-sex couples have the “right” to “have a loving relationship, or even to adopt a child.” The next day, he changed his mind about the adoption part. The day after that, he delivered a commencement address to Liberty University, which bans openly gay students and is allied with some of the most vile anti-gay rhetoric in the Religious Right today.

But none of this wavering matches Romney’s recent, brief hiring of an openly gay staffer, foreign policy spokesman Richard Grenell. A Republican adviser told the New York Times after Grenell was forced out of Romney’s campaign, “It’s not that the campaign cared whether Ric Grenell was gay. They believed this was a nonissue. But they didn’t want to confront the religious right.” Increasingly, when it comes to choosing between basic dignity and futile attempts to appease the far right, the mainstream GOP has been choosing the far right.

Unfortunately for Romney, the Religious Right, the object of his caving, isn’t buying his frantic attempts to pander. The most outspoken critic of Romney’s decision to hire Grenell quickly, the American Family Association’s Bryan Fischer, became the most outspoken critic of the decision to fire him. “How is he going to stand up to North Korea if he can be pushed around by a yokel like me?” Fischer demanded.

It has to give at least some Republicans pause that the far right has become so extreme, and Republican leaders have become so subservient to their demands, that it is now not even possible to have any gay people work for a GOP campaign.

But soon Mitt Romney will tell us that he has gay friends.

 

By: MIchael B. Keegan, The Huffington Post, may 15, 2012

May 16, 2012 Posted by | Civil Rights | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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