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Moving a Senator to Support Marriage Equality: Another thing to love about Rhode Island January 24, 2010

Posted by truthspew in Gay rights, government, marriage equality.
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This is a marriage equality post but it also brings out what I’ve often said about moving marriage equality forward in the state. Your reps and senators are human, just like you. As such they shop in the same places, live in your district, in short they are your neighbors.

So this evening I had an opportunity to stop at the Walgreen’s store on Atwells Ave, in Providence. As I’m coming out I had to do a double take but there he was, my state Senator Paul V. Jabour scraping dog crap off the bottom of his shoe.

Being an opportunist I stopped by and said “Senator, I think we need a pooper scooper law in the state or the city.”. He laughed. I went on to tell him I wanted to talk to him about marriage equality. He’s on board. But he said something very interesting.

A lot of senators are scared to do anything with the amount of voter outrage that is out there right now. I told him that I’ve been suggesting that we in the marriage equality camp need to encourage our legislators and explained to him that in his district alone there are close to 400 supporters of full equality and that the area in general was pretty much the gay central of Providence.

He also let slip that Sen. Rhoda Perry is holding the equality bill which surprise the hell out of me. I think she needs to be convinced that she won’t suffer at the ballot box for moving this bill forward.

It almost appears as though we have enough support in both the house and senate to move this with a veto proof majority but everyone is terrified of it. We need to assuage their fears. One hand washes the other. If they support us, we help out on their campaigns, not that many of us haven’t already been doing that.

But we really need to put on the full court press if we want marriage equality in RI in 2010.

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Politics: The New Republican Platform (And my response!) November 23, 2009

Posted by truthspew in politics.
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Found this over on Joe.My.God.

(1) We support smaller government, smaller national debt, lower deficits and lower taxes by opposing bills like Obama’s “stimulus” bill;

I suppose government adequate to meet the needs of the people and perhaps a lower national debt. But that’s where my similarities with the Republicans end. I want to see taxes back at the levels they were at in the 1950’s. You know, when people making more than $300K a year paid a fairly high bracket, and corporations paid quite a lot more in taxes than the roughly 9% to 15% they pay now.

I’d also like to mention that if we ended the debacle in Iraq and Afghanistan we’d save a fucking bundle. Especially with the latter. If you understand anything about the Pashtun tribes, you understand that Afghanistan is essentially undergoing a civil war that has been going on for the better part of the last few centuries.

And Iraq, we need another bully puppet there. Saddam Hussein knew how to keep his party in check. That’s what we need so Shi’a, Sunni and even Kurd can learn how to live with one another again.

Once that’s accomplished lets pay off the national debt, and then with the surpluses available let us re-invest in infrastructure (Rebuilding highways perhaps, with lanes set out for rapid transit systems?) or maybe rebuilding all the schools in the nation, or providing health care to every U.S. citizen, from cradle to grave.

(2) We support market-based health care reform and oppose Obama-style government run health care;

See the last part of my above answer. I support not just a single payer system, but a nationalized system like they have in the UK. Anything left to a ‘market-based’ approach simply means that the market will charge all that can be borne by the customer and provide as cheap a service as they can in order to maximize profit. Profit in health care should be anathema, particularly the extreme cases of profit over care.

(3) We support market-based energy reforms by opposing cap and trade legislation;

Here is what I’d support. I’d support dumping huge sums of money into wind, solar, tidal and whatever alternative energy systems we can come up with. I’d also support the R&D into electric vehicles that have ranges in the 300 mile, with < 15 minute recharge times. It's happening already, but would happen a lot faster if we put a little money into it.

I guess you could almost say I agree with this particular point. Cap and trade is bullshit. Lets move ourselves toward a Type 1 Kardashev society.

(4) We support workers’ right to secret ballot by opposing card check;

This one confuses me a bit because I’m not well versed in labor issues. In essence though the Republican party is pretty much anti-union so I guess I’d have to support card check.

(5) We support legal immigration and assimilation into American society by opposing amnesty for illegal immigrants;

This point is purely bovine effluvia. I say if they’re here, working and paying taxes they stay here.

(6) We support victory in Iraq and Afghanistan by supporting military-recommended troop surges;

I oppose this on so many levels. See the last part of my answer to their first platform plank.

(7) We support containment of Iran and North Korea, particularly effective action to eliminate their nuclear weapons threat;

I support diplomacy with Iran, and as far as North Korea, we need to put the pressure on China, Japan and South Korea to settle that little cluster fuck.

(8) We support retention of the Defense of Marriage Act;

And I support abolishing said act. It is unconstitutional on the very face of it and violates my rights to equal protection under the law.

(9) We support protecting the lives of vulnerable persons by opposing health care rationing and denial of health care and government funding of abortion; and

Yes, the lives of the vulnerable. Who are they anyway? The way I see it, the very young, the very old and the disabled. I’d extend it to those between very young and very old too.

But do they not realize that health care is already rationed? It’s a default state of the system as it exists even now. As for denial of health care, they really should talk to their buddies in the insurance industry because by far they’ve been the grinchiest of all.

Now the fun part, abortion. I say this, until we get a reasonable sex education program into schools (One that starts around 5th grade, and repeats again in 8th and 10th) we keep access to abortion free, open and legal for all. Otherwise I neither care, nor do I think it is my right to tell a woman if she can or cannot get an abortion. It’s her choice, not mine.

(10) We support the right to keep and bear arms by opposing government restrictions on gun ownership.

And I support the right the arm bears. But seriously, yeah I’m kind of gun nut when it comes to this.

So I do find a small amount of agreement with their 10 planks. But I don’t think I’d ever call myself a Republican.

Good Article on the Birther/Healthcare/Socilist BS out there August 27, 2009

Posted by truthspew in politics.
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Check out this Newsweek article.

In other words – Machiavellian thought. The ends justify the means.

Doesn’t surprise me since I consider that type of behavior to be intellectually lazy. It reminds me of the guy who attended an abortion protest. He asked the participants if they though abortion should be illegal and every one answered in the affirmative. He then asked each a second question: What crime should a woman who seeks an abortion be charged with? The blank stares were stunning.

I may have high Machiavellian tendencies but that’s just from working in state government for 5 years.

But I see this same method being used to stop marriage equality too. Look at the likes of Maggie Gallagher, or even RI Director Chris Plante. They usually tip-toe around even mentioning same sex marriage but I found a video clip of Maggie just bashing the hell out of the idea.

It’s come to the point in time where most of the people (aka sheeple) can be lead along because our education system has failed. This was by design mind you, for a population capable of critical thinking skills is a danger to the status quo.

For example, what would have the administration of George W. Bush been able to get away with if the majority of our 300 million plus could actually compare and contrast, to think about what they were shoveling instead of blindly trusting them to do the right thing.

We’re in the age of psyops. The CIA perfected it, and now it’s used on us on a regular basis. Look at the credit bubble, the housing bubble, et al. The message all along was “buy, buy, buy”. Some of us ignored the message. We also ignored the FUD (Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt) being served by the Bush administration. Maybe it is because years ago I switched off the television and radio. There are those who promote the idea that people who don’t watch television or listen to the radio are somewhat socially inferior.

But the reality is, does it really matter what TV characters do, or what ads tell you to buy, or tell you that you need? Instead we ought to devote more time to knowing what government is doing, to mentoring, volunteering, knowing your neighbors, in essence making it a better place.

(Health Care) The Party of No Ideas August 19, 2009

Posted by truthspew in government, health care, public health, public policy, republican, Rhode Island.
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So I was reading the Proj article titled “GOP calls for loud crowd at health-care forum”

They lead in with this gem from Republican Party chair Giovanni Cicione:

State Republican Party Chairman Giovanni Cicione said he hopes angry protesters will flood Wednesday night’s town hall meeting hosted by Rep. James R. Langevin.

He further goes on to say:

“This is the clearest example in decades of the government exceeding its authority. I think this should make people really angry,” Cicione said, noting that he would be out of town, but that conservative groups — such as the Rhode Island Young Republicans and Rhode Island Tea Party movement — are mobilizing their forces to attend.

“This is America, we have First Amendment rights to protest,” Cicione continued. “The citizenry has the right to go out and shout at the top of their lungs.”

Every Republican thus far has railed against any form of nationalized health care. But the common theme is that they haven’t offered anything substantive to address the problem, namely that we’re being slowly bankrupted by the current health care system.

But remember too, even the national Republicans play the same game. When Boehner got up and said the Republicans had a budget proposal and then produced a document so sketchy on details, you knew they were truly turning into an opposition party which has now morphed to the “Party of No”.

Shame on the likes of Cicione, Boehner, and the entire cadre of Republican scum for misleading the people. You’ll never see a Republican tell you that Medicare runs on a 3% overhead whereas private insurance runs at 20% and more. The reason for that high overhead is so they can pay out dividends to investors as well as executive salaries.

You will however hear from Fox News, that Republican party communication instrument, that x number of illegal aliens would be covered by a public plan, or that people in the age group 18 to 25 would just use that instead of getting insurance, etc.

You’ll also hear Fox pundits calling it the Obama Death Care plan, or Obamacare, etc. It’s to the point of ridicule or at least to the point where the pundits and politicians who oppose a true public option should be ridiculed.

There is hope though. I’m noting that corporations in general are getting very nervous about citizen activism. Case in point is the most recent pullout of Tim Horton’s from a NOM event here in RI. I also heard another about Miller donating $30,000 to a group who threatened a boycott of their product.

Here is my message to those who would compare Obama to Hitler or calling Obama a fascist and the like. Stop for a moment and verify the facts if you will. And then I ask, where have you been for the last eight years when George W. Bush, your treasured Republican, was President. We had widespread abuses of our civil rights, we watched as corporations like communications companies, banks, et al became more rapacious and while the Fed kept lowering interest rates, or allowing the credit default swap insurance industry to run unregulated.

Yes people, that was fascism, well more like despotism. Is it any wonder the reaction was to elect a Democrat as President and to hand the Democratic party a supermajority in the senate and a simple majority in the house?

The Republican party is destined for the dustbin of history. Here in RI we can see the rumblings already since the Moderate Party of RI has now been certified for the ballot as an official party. Hell, I’d like to see the Greens and the Socialists get party certification too. The more the merrier, that’s my motto. Because then you’d have to form coalitions in government. More variables means less money to each individual legislator.

Of course I hope the Moderate Party has a slate of candidates. That was where the once Cool Moose Party failed, it only had the one gubernatorial candidate.

And Mr. Cicione, you’d be wise to hear these words.

Now for the Democrats. Stop catering to Republican demands. They lost, and there’s a damn good reason they lost as outlined above. Put your foot down and stand for something instead of being a god damned weasel.

Political Corruption: Never a good thing July 23, 2009

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Apparently three mayors in New Jersey, from Hoboken, Secaucus, and Jersey City were arrested as well as two state legislators, and a bunch of rabbis.

The rabbis are the big surprise there but I guess when you follow the money there is no telling where the investigation will end.

Here in RI former North Providence state Senator John Celona got out of prison yesterday.

The thing is, he’s the only one who did time. Former Senate President Bill Irons managed to get his charges dropped. But I recall a news article a couple years back where the federal prosecutor said that there were seven companies and seven legislators who would be under the microscope. I theorized that our House Speaker might be one of the gentleman and that our former Senate President may also be a subject of investigation and possible indictment.

But there has been absolutely no more mention of it. It just quietly dropped off the RADAR. I think if you really dug into the politicians in RI you’d find just as much corruption.

Take Providence Mayor David Cicilline. Yes, the states first openly gay mayor. But there has already been some interesting news. For example, his brother is an attorney who was supposed to pay a clients taxes. But the check bounced. Yet nothing ever came of that, no fraud charges, et al. The Mayor quashed that one from on high, I’m sure of that.

Then of course there’s the obstinacy of the mayor regarding the contract for the city firefighters. And the rank and file of the police department held a no confidence vote in Chief Dean Esserman, who former mayor Buddy Cianci calls “Chief Shiny Badge”.

Shall we talk about the Providence Fire Marshal? Nah, we don’t need to do that. How about the building inspector? That was always a hotbed of corruption.

How do we solved this? We let the sunshine in, let it expose every little act they’re doing. To that end at least government entities in RI now have to post meeting notices 48 hours in advance. I do wish they were required to post the meeting minutes but alas that was too much for the politicians. The one agency exempted from these requirements? The legislature. Their idea of open meeting notices is to post them on a roving bulletin board in the State House. Seriously, when I worked in the building I was always agog at that fact.

So if it’s not sunshine, I say get active in politics. Attend hearings, attend sessions, let them know we’re watching them.

Why Marriage Equality is a Constitutional Issue March 15, 2009

Posted by truthspew in Gay rights, marriage equality.
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I’ve said again and again, the inability of gay people to marry or seek civil divorce violates our Constitutional rights. If truth be known, in RI it violates Article 1 Section 2, and it also violates the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

My cousin Tom sent me this article that analyzes the Connecticut courts reasoning and defines the Quasi Suspect Class argument.

Here’s a very relevant part of the article. It’s two paragraphs but here goes:

The opponents of same gender marriage argued that the legislature has a compelling interest in retaining the term ‘‘marriage’’ to describe only the legal union of a man and woman because ‘‘that is the definition of marriage that has always existed in Connecticut, and continues to represent the common understanding of marriage in almost all states in the country.’’ In addition, they argued that the authority to define marriage rests with the people and their elected representatives and not with the courts.

The Court disagreed, stating that “to say that the discrimination is ‘traditional’ is to say only that the discrimination has existed for a long time. A classification, however, cannot be maintained merely ‘for its own sake’. Simply put, a history or tradition of discrimination—no matter how entrenched—does not make the discrimination constitutional. Moreover, because gay persons meet all of the criteria of a quasi-suspect class they are entitled to heightened judicial protection from laws that discriminate against them. Even though the right to marry is not enumerated in our constitution, it long has been deemed a basic civil right.”

I’ll address the first paragraph, specifically the usual phrase that the “people and their elected representatives reserve the right”

But what does one do when you cannot get redress to grievance from a representative body? That’s the reason we have the courts. Put it this way, were we to be granted the right to marry by our legislative body you can be damned sure those bigots against us would be filing a court case to overturn the law. You’d have groups like the National Organization for Marriage (There’s the oxymoron again!) filing amicus briefs, you’d have the RC Church of RI probably initiate the suit or vice versa.

The second paragraph needs no explanation or expansion.

Gasp! A former Senator wouldn't support marriage equality because of his dad? March 5, 2009

Posted by truthspew in Gay rights, marriage equality, politics.
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I’m rather incredulous about this. I heard through the grapevine that former Senate President Joseph Montalbano wouldn’t support marriage equality because his father was still alive.

This is a major WTF moment for me. The guy is the Senate President and he’s afraid what his father would think if he allowed marriage equality! Jesus Fucking Christ on a Stick. I know there are some cowards in politics but this takes the cake.

During conversation this evening we got on the subject of the religious reasons that would make a politician not want to vote on this. One theory is that they’re afraid they’ll go to hell. I responded that just entering political office means you’ve committed more than a few sins and you’re going to hell anyhow.

One really does sell ones soul when one runs for elected office.

A lot of folks are like that though, petrified of offending a parent. Fortunately I’m not one of those people, it has been my guiding principle, probably explains why I’m an atheist.

So this begs the question, what is the source of the opposition of both Speaker Murphy and President Paiva-Weed?

I’ve theorized it’s the church but there must be something more to it than that. It could be the fear of the afterlife, or maybe the fear that the electorate will extract their revenge come next election.

But as I’ve said before, RI’ers seem to have a very short memory for the political. It won’t matter if you support it. Think about it, even with the push by the National Organization for Marriage (NOM) to poison a ProJo poll it still runs at 53% to 47% in favor of marriage equality.

Speaking of NOM, I got an email from none other than one Maggie Gallagher Click on her name to send her an email and tell her what you think. Even add her to your AOL Buddy list and give her a good piece of your mind.

The email was about the Prop 8 hearing in California. I’m crossing fingers and toes that the court tosses out Prop 8. That would be a fantastic victory for all of us.

Not just the oath! January 26, 2009

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This is a great sum up of Bush 43, well, missing a few things though the shredded Constitution is sitting on the desk.

From Bush to Obama

From Bush to Obama

I won’t enumerate the abuses by the Bush administration though. There are plenty of other sites out there doing this.

The relief though is overwhelming. I’ve been particularly encouraged by the actions and words of President Obama over the past week. Many of his actions have been dismantling the abuses perpetrated by Bush and to me that is a very good start.

Applause, support and encouragement are also due for Senator Sheldon Whitehouse. He’s really digging in to go after Bush and Co.

Too tight November 4, 2008

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I’m watching the results on the web. It’s looking like we just might be making history this evening.

One thing appears certain, the Democrats now have a solid filibuster proof majority in the Senate and we even have a solid majority in the House too. So even if McSame does manage to get elected, he gets to contend with an unfriendly congress.

But think about it, in my lifetime I’ll have seen a man who identifies as black become President. I think of the speeches given by the Reverend Doctor King and I just choke up. It’s such a shame that King couldn’t be alive to see this.

I just want it to be over, I want to wake up in the morning to the alarm that’s set to the local NPR station and hear “…President Elect Obama..”, it’ll make the last eight years seem like the nightmare that it is.

As it stands the tally of electoral votes is 207 Obama, 135 McCain. Not the landslide I’d imagined, but it’s not over yet. I want McCain and the Rove/Bush policy of the last eight years to be thoroughly discredited.

That reminds me, in one of his final acts as President, the Shrub has actually weakened the Clean Air and Water Act.

I so hope they send UN troops in and on January 20th they escort him from the dais and transport him directly to the Hague for trial on war crimes charges. With any luck it’d be a speedy trial and he’d be executed by hanging.

But for now it’s pins and needles. Last time I felt like this was the 2006 election for Rhode Island governor. I was a volunteer on Democrat Charlie Fogarty’s campaign. I canvassed, did phone bank, stuffed envelopes, worked parade routes, everything in that campaign. To see him lose by only 8,000 votes was heartbreaking. That the people of RI could be so stupid as to re-elect Don Carcieri astounded me.

Political Activism November 1, 2008

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It finally struck me the other day. A co-worker was a bit agog that I actually KNOW a sitting U.S. Senator, I worked for the guy when he was Attorney General of Rhode Island. So far as I’m concerned, Sheldon Whitehouse is righteous Senator and I’m glad he’s in Washington.

But then I thought back, I am what one would call politically active. Not holding up signs, oh wait, I’ve done that. Damn, I’ve made phone calls, stuffed envelopes, canvassed door to door, emailed my state rep and senators, and the Speaker of the House and President of the Senate, essentially calling them hateful and bigoted assholes.

I’ve testified at a hearing for marriage equality, I’ve created a database of all judicial committee members with their full contact information and shared it with Marriage Equality Rhode Island.

I do this because I am of the firm belief that the politicians should be there to do OUR bidding, not that of the corporations. Can’t remember where I’d seen this but someone compared the U.S. political system to those in France and Germany. They said that in the European countries, governments were actually afraid of the people whereas in the U.S. people were afraid of the government.

My hope is that in my lifetime we see politicians in the U.S. scared of we the people and the enormous force that we can generate for political change.

Look at the Obama campaign, it’s heavily branded, and very well managed. The people on the campaign believe in their candidate and to me that’s a wonderful thing. Look at the fund raising. The vast majority of his donors gave < $200. Then look at McCain and who funded his campaign and the answer is the big oil, banking, and other industries. Who would you rather have, a puppet of big business or a true leader like Obama?

What I find interesting about the Obama campaign is it has used a populist message to tap into the power of the zeitgeist.

For many years I would disaffiliate when I left the polls on primary day but this year I just let it slide. I did it because for the first time in my life, I have some faith in the Democratic party. I still abhor the fact that both parties get a majority of their funding from big business, but I think we may be on the cusp of a major change

What I find interesting is here in little Rhode Island they’re expecting between 500,000 and 700,000 people to vote this election. And most of those people, registered Democrats. Consider RI’s population hovers around a million people. Of that million I’d say maybe 15% are kids who can’t vote so we’re left with 850,000 people. Say 5% of that total cant’ vote because they aren’t citizens, we’re left with 807,500 people. If we get 700,000 votes that means that voter turnout would be close to 90%!

I hope that we’re entered an age of the more politically conscious citizen. But we still have an awful lot of distraction out there. We need everyone to get involved.

Read an interesting bit a couple weeks ago, it said that if newspapers want to survive they have to get hyper-local. Our local rag, the Providence Journal needs to park a dozen or more reporters at the State House.

Then media won’t be a distraction anymore, it’ll be informative. But I fear that the owners of the media can’t see the forest for the trees, and so they’ll just continue down the path of ruin until they spontaneously combust.

As a people we need to dig in, we need to become more fully a part of the political discourse and continuum. Because if we don’t we have no control over our own lives.

Start off gently, write a letter to the editor. Email, phone or visit your state representative and then go up a level to the federal representatives. Participate in a political campaign, donate money to one. Take control.