In May, Tennessee's legislators came very close to passing a bill that make it a misdemeanor for teachers of K–8 students to talk about homosexuality. Dubbed the "Don't Say Gay Bill," queer activists were unsurprisingly upset about its progress through the General Assembly and state Senate, although it hasn't been made law yet. Across the country, in California, new Governor Jerry Brown just signed into law a curriculum requirement that textbooks in his state include the contributions LGBTQ people* have made to society. With these large gaps in philosophy regarding how we talk (or are prohibited from talking) and think about queer people, what are the consequences for future generations of Americans? And is there anything to interpret from these moments of contradistinction?
Lots of people attempt to manage election laws; it happens all the time. We've seen it in vote-counting, with one side or the other suing their way into forced recounts after a close election. Of course there's "gerrymandering," named after a real Mr. Gerry, former Governor of Massachusetts, who passed the law that let legislators create serpentine voting districts in order to secure future victories for himself and his party. Then there are the donations, donors, special interests, and allied organizations who each attempt to influence election outcomes—and I'll take a look into those next week—but first, we have something of a creative response to playing with elections:
I expect that Vander Plaats, the founder of The Family Leader, will be glitterbombed soon. If Newt Gingrich got a dose of party supplies for his anti-gay stance and writings, surely some of the pink stuff is coming Plaats' way, for his having written that being gay leads to increased mortality. I don't think he's referring to hate crimes when he brings that up, either.
Who else is risking a date with decoration? Read my list after the jump!
I've written a few times on this blog about unfair criticism and downright racist language aimed at President Obama, in part because it's so prevalent and persistent, and in part because I believe it deflects attention from policy critiques. For a president as centrist as Barack Obama, valid criticism is necessary, especially when middle-of-the-road stances often mean compromise on the Hill. So in the interest of modeling good behavior, I have a critique of the President's latest capitulation regarding Social Security, as the debate about debt ceilings continues in Washington.
Earlier this week, Rep. Tammy Baldwin said she was "likely" to run for the Senate to become Wisconsin's junior senator. After all of the strife in Wisconsin this spring, it was welcome news to progressives, who lost longtime Senator Russ Feingold in the 2010 midterm election and who have been in agony since Governor Scott Walker took union workers' collective bargaining rights away in support of some of his major donors, who include the Koch brothers. What would a run and win for Ms. Baldwin look like, and what could some of the sticking points be?
We are still early in the 2012 election cycle, but already the primary phase has had its share of missed opportunities, hilariously inaccurate statements, and misplaced emphases. Defining those moments is probably up to some debate, but here are some candidates:
This week pushed the upper limits of absurd and offensive: two incorrect stories hit the wire, although they can't both be called "news" per se; Glenn Beck went off the air, only to reappear thirty minutes later; and a fake candidate for President got real Federal Elections Commission approval to form a Super PAC. Earlier this week I wondered if I shouldn't juxtapose Beck and the Oxford comma's departure, but it now looks like neither of them have left. Instead let's look at the weird week that was.
Rep. Weiner gave us another version, earlier this month, of the near-iconic image of the suffering, strong wife standing by her disgraced man as he calls a press conference to discuss whatever scandal has plagued him. Actually, his wife doesn't even need to be at his press event; the Washington Post will force the image on readers anyway:
So does the media cover the spouses of politicians differently when it comes to husbands?
Ronald Reagan has nearly reached mythic status in this early part of the 21st century as something of a Republican's Republican. Every year in Congress, no matter which party controls the House, at least one representative introduces a bill to name something big after Reagan, or to build a monument, or make space on Mt. Rushmore, and so on. But looking at Reagan's domestic agenda reveals that his rhetoric was a lot closer to current Tea Party talking points than his actual politics. Reagan may have been the first President to cast doubt on the sanctity of "government," but are conservatives overstating the man? And when we look at the candidates in the running for the White House, do any of them meet the new standards of the extreme right wing?
This year, an unprecedented wave of voter suppression bills hit statehouses across the country, and garnered very little media attention in response, even as voting rights activists decried the shift. In 27 states, bills that will demand voters show identification, bills that require proof of citizenship, bills that will change processing of provisional ballots, and bills that are aimed directly at students were all introduced or moved through the legislative process. GOP proponents of these bills claimed they were simply protecting elections against fraud. This seems specious at best, given that there are no reports of system-wide fraud at the polls in the 2008 or 2010 elections.
Wisconsin passed its new voting law, rescinding the ability of neighbors to vouch for each others' residency, and requiring an approved identification card be shown at the polls—and perhaps not surprisingly, a University of Wisconsin ID does not count as valid.