Allison Kilkenny: Unreported

The Culture Warriors Get Laid Off

Posted in Barack Obama, politics, religion by allisonkilkenny on March 15, 2009

Frank Rich

106548196v30_350x350_frontSOMEDAY we’ll learn the whole story of why George W. Bush brushed off that intelligence briefing of Aug. 6, 2001, “Bin Laden Determined to Strike in U.S.” But surely a big distraction was the major speech he was readying for delivery on Aug. 9, his first prime-time address to the nation. The subject — which Bush hyped as “one of the most profound of our time” — was stem cells. For a presidency in thrall to a thriving religious right (and a presidency incapable of multi-tasking), nothing, not even terrorism, could be more urgent.

When Barack Obama ended the Bush stem-cell policy last week, there were no such overheated theatrics. No oversold prime-time address. No hysteria from politicians, the news media or the public. The family-values dinosaurs that once stalked the earth — Falwell,RobertsonDobson and Reed — are now either dead, retired or disgraced. Their less-famous successors pumped out their pro forma e-mail blasts, but to little avail. The Republican National Committee said nothing whatsoever about Obama’s reversal of Bush stem-cell policy. That’s quite a contrast to 2006, when the party’s wild and crazy (and perhaps transitory) new chairman, Michael Steele, likened embryonic stem-cell research to Nazi medical experiments during his failed Senate campaign.

What has happened between 2001 and 2009 to so radically change the cultural climate? Here, at last, is one piece of good news in our global economic meltdown: Americans have less and less patience for the intrusive and divisive moral scolds who thrived in the bubbles of the Clinton and Bush years. Culture wars are a luxury the country — the G.O.P. included — can no longer afford.

Not only was Obama’s stem-cell decree an anticlimactic blip in the news, but so was his earlier reversal of Bush restrictions on the use of federal money by organizations offering abortions overseas. When the administration tardily ends “don’t ask, don’t tell,” you can bet that this action, too, will be greeted by more yawns than howls.

Once again, both the president and the country are following New Deal-era precedent. In the 1920s boom, the reigning moral crusade was Prohibition, and it packed so much political muscle that F.D.R. didn’t oppose it. The Anti-Saloon League was the Moral Majority of its day, the vanguard of a powerful fundamentalist movement that pushed anti-evolution legislation as vehemently as it did its war on booze. (The Scopes “monkey trial” was in 1925.) But the political standing of this crowd crashed along with the stock market. Roosevelt shrewdly came down on the side of “the wets” in his presidential campaign, leaving Hoover to drown with “the dries.”

Much as Obama repealed the Bush restrictions on abortion and stem-cell research shortly after pushing through his stimulus package, so F.D.R. jump-started the repeal of Prohibition by asking Congress to legalize beer and wine just days after his March 1933 inauguration and declaration of a bank holiday. As Michael A. Lerner writes in his fascinating 2007 book “Dry Manhattan,” Roosevelt’s stance reassured many Americans that they would have a president “who not only cared about their economic well-being” but who also understood their desire to be liberated from “the intrusion of the state into their private lives.” Having lost plenty in the Depression, the public did not want to surrender any more freedoms to the noisy minority that had shut down the nation’s saloons.

In our own hard times, the former moral “majority” has been downsized to more of a minority than ever. Polling shows that nearly 60 percent of Americans agree with ending Bush restrictions on stem-cell research (a Washington Post/ABC News survey in January); that 55 percent endorse either gay civil unions or same-sex marriage (Newsweek, December 2008); and that 75 percent believe openly gay Americans should serve in the military (Post/ABC, July 2008). Even the old indecency wars have subsided. When a federal court last year struck down the F.C.C. fine against CBS for Janet Jackson’s “wardrobe malfunction” at the 2004 Super Bowl, few Americans either noticed or cared about the latest twist in what had once been a national cause célèbre.

It’s not hard to see why Eric Cantor, the conservative House firebrand who is vehemently opposed to stem-cell research, was disinclined to linger on the subject when asked about it on CNN last Sunday. He instead accused the White House of acting on stem cells as a ploy to distract from the economy. “Let’s take care of business first,” he said. “People are out of jobs.” (On this, he’s joining us late, but better late than never.)

Even were the public still in the mood for fiery invective about family values, the G.O.P. has long since lost any authority to lead the charge. The current Democratic president and his family are exemplars of precisely the Eisenhower-era squareness — albeit refurbished by feminism — that the Republicans often preached but rarely practiced. Obama actually walks the walk. As the former Bush speechwriter David Frum recently wrote, the new president is an “apparently devoted husband and father” whose worst vice is “an occasional cigarette.”

Frum was contrasting Obama to his own party’s star attraction, Rush Limbaugh, whose “history of drug dependency” and “tangled marital history” make him “a walking stereotype of self-indulgence.” Indeed, the two top candidates for leader of the post-Bush G.O.P, Rush and Newt, have six marriages between them. The party that once declared war on unmarried welfare moms, homosexual “recruiters” and Bill Clinton’s private life has been rebranded by Mark FoleyLarry CraigDavid Vitter and the irrepressible Palins. Even before the economy tanked, Americans had more faith in medical researchers using discarded embryos to battle Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s than in Washington politicians making ad hoc medical decisions for Terri Schiavo.

What’s been revealing about watching conservatives debate their fate since their Election Day Waterloo is how, the occasional Frum excepted, so many of them don’t want to confront the obsolescence of culture wars as a political crutch. They’d rather, like Cantor, just change the subject — much as they avoid talking about Bush and avoid reckoning with the doomed demographics of the G.O.P.’s old white male base. To recognize all these failings would be to confront why a once-national party can now be tucked into the Bible Belt.

The religious right is even more in denial than the Republicans. When Obama nominated Kathleen Sebelius, the Roman Catholic Kansas governor who supports abortion rights, as his secretary of health and human services, Tony Perkins, the leader of the Family Research Council, became nearly as apoplectic as the other Tony Perkins playing Norman Bates. “If Republicans won’t take a stand now, when will they?” the godly Perkins thundered online. But Congressional Republicans ignored him, sending out (at most) tepid press releases of complaint, much as they did in response to Obama’s stem-cell order. The two antiabortion Kansas Republicans in the Senate, Sam Brownback and Pat Roberts, both endorsed Sebelius.

Perkins is now praying that economic failure will be a stimulus for his family-values business. “As the economy goes downward,” he has theorized, “I think people are going to be driven to religion.” Wrong again. The latest American Religious Identification Survey, published last week, found that most faiths have lost ground since 1990 and that the fastest-growing religious choice is “None,” up from 8 percent to 15 percent (which makes it larger than all denominations except Roman Catholics and Baptists). Another highly regarded poll, the General Social Survey, had an even more startling finding in its preliminary 2008 data released this month: Twice as many Americans have a “great deal” of confidence in the scientific community as do in organized religion. How the almighty has fallen: organized religion is in a dead heat with banks and financial institutions on the confidence scale.

This, too, is a replay of the Great Depression. “One might have expected that in such a crisis great numbers of these people would have turned to the consolations of and inspirations of religion,” wrote Frederick Lewis Allen in “Since Yesterday,” his history of the 1930s published in 1940. But that did not happen: “The long slow retreat of the churches into less and less significance in the life of the country, and even in the lives of the majority of their members, continued almost unabated.”

The new American faith, Allen wrote, was the “secular religion of social consciousness.” It took the form of campaigns for economic and social justice — as exemplified by the New Deal and those movements that challenged it from both the left and the right. It’s too early in our crisis and too early in the new administration to know whether this decade will so closely replicate the 1930s, but so far Obama has far more moral authority than any religious leader in America with the possible exception of his sometime ally, the Rev. Rick Warren.

History is cyclical, and it would be foolhardy to assume that the culture wars will never return. But after the humiliations of the Scopes trial and the repeal of Prohibition, it did take a good four decades for the religious right to begin its comeback in the 1970s. In our tough times, when any happy news can be counted as a miracle, a 40-year exodus for these ayatollahs can pass for an answer to America’s prayers.

VIDEO: Gay Snipers Attack Marriage In West Virginia Campaign Ad

Posted in Uncategorized by allisonkilkenny on February 16, 2009

Jason Linkins

s-gay-sniper-largeVia Christy Hardin Smith comes this new advertisement from an organization from Georgia called Campaign Secrets — yes, that is their real name — that has decided to wade into electoral politics in West Virginia with a website: wv4marriage.com. That’s where you will find this bonkers ad, designed to scare the bejeezus out of everyone about gay marriage. The moment that already has the blogosphere blowin’ upcomes about a minute in, when a nuclear family of dedicated, bubble-blowing West Virginians get targeted by THE GAY SNIPERS.

That’s not the only good part of the video, though! I also love how gay marriage has brought America under attack from a rain of terrorist push-pins! And how can anyone refute the logic that’s presented when they prove the evils of gay marriage through MATH. Same Sex Couple + Affordable Air Fare To San Francisco + ACLU Attorney + Nice Lunch At The Auberge du Soleil + Drive Through Wine Country + Remembering To Save Time To Visit Amoeba Records + Uneventful Return Flight = NIGHTMARE FOR WEST VIRGINIA!!

Anyway, I guess the economy in West Virginia is just killing it, if this is what they are seriously going to worry about this year.

WATCH VIDEO HERE

(more…)

Prop. 8 Part of ‘Christian Taliban’s’ Move to Make Bible the Law

Posted in civil rights, religion by allisonkilkenny on January 13, 2009

The Raw Story

gay_wedding_cake_0The Protect Marriage Coalition, which led the fight to pass an anti-gay marriage initiative in California, is now suing to shield its financial records from public scrutiny.

The lawsuit claims that donors to Protect Marriage and a second group involved in the suit have received threatening phone calls and emails. It asks for existing donation lists to be removed from the California secretary of state’s website and also seeks to have both plaintiffs and all similar groups be exempted in the future from ever having to file donation disclosure reports on this or any similar campaigns.

Although public access advocates believe this sweeping demand for donor anonymity has little chance of success, it does point up the secretive and even conspiratorial nature of much right-wing political activity in California.

Howard Ahmanson and Wayne C. Johnson

The man who more than any other has been associated with this kind of semi-covert activity over the past 25 years is reclusive billionaire Howard Ahmanson.

Ahmanson is a Christian Reconstructionist, a devout follower of the late R.J. Rushdoony, who advocated the replacement of the U.S. Constitution with the most extreme precepts of the Old Testament, including the execution — preferably by stoning — of homosexuals, adulterers, witches, blasphemers, and disobedient children.

Ahmanson himself has stated, “My goal is the total integration of biblical law into our lives.”

As absurd as this Reconstructionist agenda may seem, the success of Proposition 8 demonstrates the ability of what is sometimes called the “Christian Taliban” to pursue its covert objectives behind the screen of seemingly mainstream initiatives and candidates.

Ahmanson’s role in promoting Proposition 8 has drawn a lot of attention, but he appears to serve primarily as the money man, leaving his associates to carry out the practical details. One name in particular stands out as Ahmanson’s chief lieutenant: political consultant Wayne C. Johnson, whose Johnson Clark Associates (formerly Johnson & Associates) coordinated the Proposition 8 campaign.

Johnson has spent many years working for Ahmanson-funded causes — such as the battle against a 2004 initiative to promote stem cell research — and organizations, like the anti-spending California Taxpayer Protection Committee.

Johnson Clark has also operated PACs for many candidates supported by Ahmanson. It ran Rep. John Doolittle’s leadership PAC, which became notorious for sending a 15% commission to Doolittle’s wife out of every donation received. It currently runs the PAC for Rep. Tom McClintock, a strong Proposition 8 supporter who was narrowly elected last fall to succeed the scandal-plagued Doolittle.

Proposition 8

The series of events leading to the approval of Proposition 8 began in 2000 with the passage of Proposition 22, which defined marriage in California as being solely between one man and one woman — but did so only as a matter of law and not as a constitutional amendment.

Proposition 22 was quickly challenged in court, leading to the creation by its supporters of the the Proposition 22 Legal Defense Fund. In 2003, Johnson Clark Associates registered the domain ProtectMarriage.com on behalf of that fund.

ProtectMarriage.com began campaigning in early 2005 for an initiative that would add its restrictive definition of marriage to the California constitution, but it failed to gather sufficient signatures and was terminated in September 2006.

In 2008, however, a reborn ProtectMarriage.com, flush with nearly a million dollars in funding from Howard Ahmanson and tens of millions from other doners, succeeding in getting Proposition 8 placed on the ballot and approved by 52% of the voters.

Proposition 8 is now California law — at least for the moment, pending challenges to its constitutionality — and ProtectMarriage.com has turned its attention to demanding that all 18,000 existing same-sex marriages be declared invalid.

The Ahmanson-Johnson Strategy

The partnership between Ahmanson and Johnson, however, did not begin in 2003 or even in 2000. It goes back to at least 1983, if not earlier, and has been a continuing factor in California politics for the last 25 years.

In a 1994 article on Christian Reconstructionism, Public Eye described Johnson’s central role in an Ahmanson-financed attempt by the Christian Right to take control of the California state legislation. The strategy involved first pushing through a term limits initiative, which was accomplished in 1990, and then promoting its own candidates for the seats this opened up:

“The practical impact of term limits is to remove the advantage of incumbency … which the extreme Christian Right is prepared to exploit. … At a Reconstructionist conference in 1983, Johnson outlined an early version of the strategy we see operating in California today. … The key for the Christian Right was to be able to: 1) remove or minimize the advantage of incumbency, and 2) create a disciplined voting bloc from which to run candidates in Republican primaries, where voter turn out was low and scarce resources could be put to maximum effect. …

“Since the mid-1970s, the extreme Christian Right, under the tutelage of then-State Senator H. L Richardson, targeted open seats and would finance only challengers, not incumbents. By 1983, they were able to increase the number of what Johnson called ‘reasonably decent guys’ in the legislature from four to 27. At the Third Annual Northwest Conference for Reconstruction in 1983, Johnson stated that he believed they may achieve ‘political hegemony. . .in this generation.'”

The mention of H. L. “Bill” Richardson as the originator of the Johnson-Ahmanson strategy is both eye-catching and significant. Richardson, a former John Birch Society member, was considered to be one of the most extreme right-wing politicians of his time. In 1975, he co-founded Gun Owners of America (GOA), an organization which is widely regarded as being well to the right of the National Rife Association.

Wayne Johnson began his political career in 1976 by working for Richardson — and Johnson Clark Associates still operates a PAC for GOA’s state affiliate, the Gun Owners of California Campaign Committee.

In 1992, Johnson and Ahmanson managed to help send a batch of conservative Republicans to Congress. Foremost among these was Richard Pombo, one of whose first acts after taking office was to introduce a resolution of commendation for the Reconstructionist Chalcedon Foundation.

In 2004, Johnson told an interviewer that Pombo’s election was a high point of his political career. “There have been a lot of great moments, but Richard Pombo’s 1992 upset victory in his first congressional primary has got to be near the top. The television stations didn’t even have his name listed on their pre-programmed screens election night. Today, he’s chairman of the House Resources Committee.”

Two years after Johnson’s enthusiastic declaration, Pombo was defeated by a Democratic challenger, following wide-ranging allegation of corruption, including being named as the Congressman who had received more donations from Jack Abramoff than any other.

The Anti-Homosexual Agenda

Although the Christian Right never achieved its original goal of taking over California state government — which may be why Ahmanson and Johnson have turned their attention to passing socially conservative initiatives instead — it has been far more successful in establishing dominance over that state’s Republican Party.

In 1998, Mother Jones reported:

“First they packed the then-moderate California Republican Assembly (CRA), a mainstream caucus with a heavy hand in the state party’s nominating process, with their Bible-minded colleagues. By 1990 they controlled the CRA, and since then the CRA’s clout has helped the religious conservatives nominate and elect local candidates and—crucially—catapult true believers into state party leadership slots. …

“From radical fringe to kingmakers in a decade — how did they do it? ‘Basically, there’s two places you have influence: one is in the nominating process in the primaries, where you can elect people in ideological agreement with your views, and the other is in the party structure,’ says former CRA vice president John Stoos, a former gun lobbyist, member of the fundamentalist Christian Reconstructionist movement, and senior consultant to the State Assembly.”

Stoos appears to come out of precisely the same background as Johnson and Ahmanson. He served as the executive director of Gun Owners of California and was also the chief of staff and a legislative advisor to Tom McClintock from 1998 until 2003, when he got into trouble for his over-the-top Reconstructionist sentiments.

In the Mother Jones interview, Stoos referred to Christian politicians as God’s “vice-regents … those who believe in the Lordship of Christ and the dominion mandate” and pointed to the repeal in the 1970’s of laws against homosexual acts as an example of the need for rule by “biblical justice.”

“The proof is in the pudding,” Stoos told Mother Jones. “Since we lifted those laws, we’ve had the biggest epidemic in history.”

To many who voted for it, Proposition 8 may have been no more than a nostalgic attempt to keep a changing world more like the way it used to be. But for Reconstructionists like Ahmanson, Johnson, and Stoos, it clearly represents something else — a dramatic first step towards “the total integration of biblical law into our lives.”

Condom Burnings and Anti-Gay Witch Hunts: How Rick Warren Is Undermining AIDs Prevention in Africa

Posted in Barack Obama, civil rights, politics by allisonkilkenny on January 8, 2009

Max Blumenthal

ribs-warren-rickOnce hailed by Time magazine as “America’s Pastor,” California megachurch leader and best-selling author of The Purpose Driven Life, Rick Warren now finds himself on the defensive. President-elect Barack Obama’s selection of Warren to deliver the inaugural prayer has generated intense scrutiny of the pastor’s beliefs on social issues, from his vocal support for Proposition 8, a ballot initiative banning same-sex marriage in California, to his comparison of homosexuality to pedophilia, incest and bestiality. Many of Obama’s supporters have demanded that he withdraw the invitation.

Warren’s defense against charges of intolerance ultimately depends upon his ace card: his heavily publicized crusade against AIDS in Africa. Obama senior adviser David Axelrod cited Warren’s work in Africa as one of “the things on which [Obama and Warren] agree” on the Dec. 28 episode of Meet the Press. Warren may be opposed to gay rights and abortion, the thinking goes, but he tells evangelicals it is their God-given duty to battle one of the greatest pandemics in history. What could be wrong with that?

But since the Warren inauguration controversy erupted, the nature of his work against AIDS in Africa has gone unexamined. Warren has not been particularly forthcoming to those who have attempted to look into it. His Web site contains scant information about the results of his program. However, an investigation into Warren’s involvement in Africa reveals a web of alliances with right-wing clergymen who have sidelined science-based approaches to combating AIDS in favor of abstinence-only education. More disturbingly, Warren’s allies have rolled back key elements of one of the continent’s most successful initiative, the so-called ABC program in Uganda. Stephen Lewis, the United Nations special envoy for HIV/AIDS in Africa, told the New York Times their activism is “resulting in great damage and undoubtedly will cause significant numbers of infections which should never have occurred.”

Warren’s man in Uganda is a charismatic pastor named Martin Ssempa. The head of the Makerere Community Church, a rapidly growing congregation, Ssempa enjoys close ties to his country’s first lady, Janet Museveni, and is a favorite of the Bush White House. In the capitol of Kampala, Ssempa is known for his boisterous crusading. Ssempa’s stunts have included burning condoms in the name of Jesus and arranging the publication of names of homosexuals in cooperative local newspapers while lobbying for criminal penalties to imprison them.

Dr. Helen Epstein, a public health consultant who wrote the book, The Invisible Cure: Why We’re Losing the Fight Against AIDS in Africa, met Ssempa in 2005. Epstein told me the preacher seemed gripped by paranoia, warning her of a secret witches coven that met under Lake Victoria.

“Ssempa also spoke to me for a very long time about his fear of homosexual men and women,” Epstein said. “He seemed very personally terrified by their presence.”

When Warren unveiled his global AIDS initiative at a 2005 conference at his Saddleback Church, he cast Ssempa as his indispensable sidekick, assigning him to lead a breakout session on abstinence-only education as well as a seminar on AIDS prevention. Later, Ssempa delivered a keynote address, a speech so stirring it “had the audience on the edge of its seats,” according to Warren’s public relations agency. A year later, Ssempa returned to Saddleback Church to lead another seminar on AIDS. By this time, his bond with the Warrens had grown almost familial. “You are my brother, Martin, and I love you,” Rick Warren’s wife, Kay, said to Ssempa from the stage. Her voice trembled with emotion as she spoke, and tears ran down her cheeks.

Joining Ssempa at Warren’s church were two key Bush administration officials who controlled the purse strings of the president’s newly minted $15 billion anti-AIDS initiative in Africa, PEPFAR. Museveni also appeared through a videotaped address to tout the success of her country’s numerous church-based abstinence programs.

These Bush officials — Randall Tobias, the Department of State’s Global AIDS coordinator, and Claude Allen, the White House’s chief domestic policy adviser — are closely linked to the Christian Right. Tobias, the so-called global AIDS czar, declared in 2004 that condoms “really have not been very effective,” and crusaded against prostitution, until he resigned in 2007 when he was exposed as a regular client of the D.C. Madam’s escort service. Allen, once an aide to the late Sen. Jesse Helms, R-N.C., resigned in 2006 after he was arrested for felony thefts from retail stores.

During the early 1990s, when many African leaders denied the AIDS epidemic’s existence, Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni spoke openly about the importance of safe sex. With the help of local and international nongovernmental organizations, he implemented an ambitious program emphasizing abstinence, monogamous relationships and using condoms as the best ways to prevent the spread of AIDS. He called the program “ABC.” By 2003, Uganda’s AIDS rate plummeted 10 percent. The government’s free distribution of the “C” in ABC — condoms — proved central to the program’s success, according to Avert, an international AIDS charity.

On New Year’s Eve 1999, Janet Museveni, who had become born-again, convened a massive stadium revival in Kampala to dedicate her country to the “lordship” of Jesus Christ. As midnight approached, the first lady summoned a local pastor to the stage to anoint the nation. “We renounce idolatry, witchcraft and Satanism in our land!” he proclaimed.

Two years later, Janet Museveni flew to Washington at the height of a heated congressional debate over PEPFAR. She carried in her hand a prepared message to distribute to Republicans. Abstinence was the golden bullet in her country’s fight against AIDS, she assured conservative lawmakers, denying the empirically proven success of her husband’s condom-distribution program. Like magic, the Republican-dominated Congress authorized over $200 million for Uganda, but only for the exclusive promotion of abstinence education. Ssempa soon became the “special representative of the first lady’s Task Force on AIDS in Uganda,” receiving $40,000 from the PEPFAR pot.

Emboldened by U.S. support, Ssempa took his anti-condom crusade to Makerere University in Kampala, where senior residents of a men’s dormitory promoted safe sex by greeting incoming freshmen with a giant effigy wearing a condom. According to Epstein, one day after she visited the school, Ssempa stormed onto campus, tore the condom from the effigy, grabbed a box of free condoms and set them ablaze. “I burn these condoms in the name of Jesus!” Ssempa shouted as he prayed over the burning box.

“It was a very controversial time,” Epstein told me. “After the Bush administration authorized PEPFAR, a number of the local evangelical preachers began to get excited about this and get involved in AIDS very rapidly. To try to prove his credentials, Ssempa became increasingly active and vociferous in his antipathy towards condoms.”

By 2005, billboards promoting condom use disappeared from the streets of Kampala, replaced by billboards promoting virginity. “Until recently, all HIV-related billboards were about condoms. Those of us calling for abstinence and faithfulness need billboards, too,” Ssempa told the BBC at the time. A 2005 report by Human Rights Watchdocumented educational material in Uganda’s secondary schools falsely claiming condoms had microscopic pores that could be penetrated by the AIDS virus and noted the sudden nationwide shortage of condoms due to new restrictions imposed on condom imports.

AIDS activists arrived at the 16th International AIDS Conference in Toronto in 2006 with disturbing news from Uganda. Due, at least in part, to the chronic condom shortage, HIV infections were on the rise again. The disease rate had spiked to 6.5 percent among rural men and 8.8 percent among women — a rise of nearly two points in the case of women. “The ‘C’ part [of ABC] is now mainly silent,” said Ugandan AIDS activist Beatrice Ware. As a result, she said, “the success story is unraveling.”

Troubled by what he was witnessing in Africa, the late Rep. Tom Lantos, D-Calif., led the new Democratic-controlled Congress to reform PEPFAR during a reauthorization process in February 2008. Lantos insisted that Congress lift the abstinence-only earmark imposed by Republicans in 2002 and begin to fund family-planning elements like free condom distribution. His maneuver infuriated Warren, who immediately boarded a plane for Washington to join Christian Right leaders, including born-again former Watergate felon Chuck Colson, for an emergency press conference on the Capitol lawn. In his speech, Warren claimed that Lantos’ bill would spawn an increase in the sex trafficking of young women. The bill died and PEPFAR was reauthorized in its flawed form. (Days later, Lantos died of cancer after serving for 27 years in Congress.)

With safe sex advocates on the run, Warren and Ssempa trained their sights on another social evil. In August 2007, Ssempa led hundreds of his followers through the streets of Kampala to demand that the government mete out harsh punishments against gays. “Arrest all homos,” read placards. And: “A man cannot marry a man.” Ssempa continued his crusade online, publishing the names of Ugandan gay rights activists on a Web site he created, along with photos and home addresses. “Homosexual promoters,” he called them, suggesting they intended to seduce Uganda’s children into their lifestyle. Soon afterward, two of President Museveni’s top officials demanded the arrest of the gay activists named by Ssempa. Terrified, the activists immediately into hiding.

Warren, in his effort to dispel criticism, has denied harboring homophobic sentiments. “I could give you a hundred gay friends,” hetold MSNBC’s Ann Curry on Dec. 18. “I have always treated them with respect. When they come and want to talk to me, I talk to them.”

But when Uganda’s Anglican bishops threatened to bolt from the Church of England because of its tolerant stance towards homosexuals, Warren parachuted into Kampala to confer international legitimacy on their protest.

“The Church of England is wrong, and I support the Church of Uganda on the boycott,” Warren proclaimed in March 2008. Declaring homosexuality an unnatural way of life, Warren flatly stated, “We shall not tolerate this aspect [homosexuality in the church] at all.”

Days later, Warren emerged so enthusiastic after a meeting with first lady Museveni, he announced a plan to make Uganda a “Purpose Driven Nation.”

“The future of Christianity is not Europe or North America, but Africa, Asia and Latin America,” he told a cheering throng at Makerere University. Then, Ugandan Archbishop Henry Orombi rose and predicted, “Someday, we will have a purpose-driven continent!”

Max Blumenthal is a Puffin Foundation writing fellow at The Nation Institute in Washington.

Bobby Jindal Stocks “Marriage Commission” With Anti-Gay Crusaders

Posted in civil rights by allisonkilkenny on January 6, 2009

Bilerico Project

bobby-jindalLouisiana Governor Bobby Jindal is often cited as a rising star in Republican politics. One of the party’s most visible state executives, he has worked hard to endear himself to the GOP faithful, and has been widely mentioned as a possible White House candidate in 2012. And, true to form for some of those who seek to carry the Republican mantle on a national ticket, he is already beginning to pander to the most extreme factions of his party and his state.

In December, Jindal announced the formation of the Louisiana Commission on Marriage and Family, billed as “an entity within the executive department that serves to propose programs, policies, incentives and curriculum regarding marriage and family by collecting and analyzing data on the social and personal effects of marriage and child-bearing within the state of Louisiana.”

In other words, Jindal’s Commission is going to be looking at – and making recommendations regarding – marriage and family issues within the state. And a quick look at some of those appointed by the Governor to serve on the panel leaves no doubt that, in the end, the line-up will do nothing more than promote an extreme, anti-gay agenda that sets back, blocks and battles any attempts to recognize or respect Louisiana’s same-sex families.

Among those who have been appointed by Jindal to serve on the Commission are Tony Perkins (who hails from Baton Rouge), the president of the anti-gay advocacy group known as The Family Research Council . . . Gene Mills, executive director of the far-right Louisiana Family Forum . . . Mike Johnson, senior legal counsel for the Alliance Defense Fund . . . and numerous members of the clergy. All, Jindal has said, “have significant academic and/or professional expertise” on issues of marriage and family.

And each has a long history of spouting anti-gay rhetoric, too.

Perkins and Mills, especially, are vociferous anti-gay advocates, and have been the driving forces behind attempts to ban legal protections for same-sex couples. And on his website, Mills promotes publications with titles such asMorally Straight, Protect Your Children, and Three Myths About Homosexuality. All are inflammatory, inaccurate and outrageously biased papers that demean and degrade lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. (The Family Research Council’s list of similarly harmful publications is too long to list in a single blog entry.)

Every family in Louisiana should be alarmed by Jindal’s “Commission.”

Following the passage of Proposition 8 in California, and a successful bid to strip same-sex couples of adoption rights in Arkansas, there is little question that Perkins and Mills, especially, will push for similarly anti-gay measures in Louisiana. By giving the movement to deny lesbian and gay couples adoption rights a facade of credibility via a gubernatorial panel, the two will no doubt use the resulting recommendations to spread inaccurate, unproven and harmful rhetoric about the issue . . . and then push their anti-gay agenda in the legislature, and at the ballot box.

Governor Jindal is setting Louisiana up to be one of the next battlegrounds in the fight for family equality.

Following his decision to roll-back an LGBT-inclusive anti-discrimination order implemented by his predecessor, the Governor is now taking another, unmistakable step to the right in an attempt to shore up a base he believes he may need down the road.

The truth is that Perkins and Mills are no experts on our families. Their appointment to the Louisiana Commission is a thinly veiled attempt to tip the panel to the far right and begin the process of eroding civil liberties in the Bayou State.

On November 5th, many LGBT families rightly feared that he vote tallies on election day would lead to further attacks on our rights. Jindal has wasted no time in proving that prophecy to be true. By shoring up extremists’ support for a potential White House bid, he has put the safety, and rights, of Louisiana families in jeopardy.

Tell Governor Jindal to put families first and remove anti-gay bigots from his Commission. Call the Governor’s Mansion at (225) 342-0991.

Obama Is “Very Rational-Sounding Sort Of Bigot”

Posted in Barack Obama by allisonkilkenny on December 21, 2008

John Cloud, Time Magazine

obama-and-rick-warren1About three years ago, a reporter at Fortune asked Rick Warren, the successful pastorwhom the President-elect has asked to pray at his Inauguration, about homosexuality. “I’m no homophobic guy,” Warren said. His proof? He has dined with gays; he has a church “full of people who are caring for gays who are dying of AIDS”; he believes that “in the hierarchy of evil … homosexuality is not the worst sin.” So gays get to eat — sometimes even with Rick Warren! Then they get to die of AIDS — possibly under the care of Rick Warren’s congregants. And when they go to hell, they won’t be quite as far down in Satan’s pit as other evildoers.

But Warren did have a message of hope for gays: they can magically become heterosexuals. (He didn’t explain how, but I suspect he thinks praying really hard would do it, as if most of us who grew up gay and evangelical hadn’t tried that every night as teenagers.) Homosexuality, Pastor Warren explained in the virtually content-free language of the dogmatist, is “not the natural way.” And then he went right for the ick factor, the way middle-school boys do: “Certain body parts are meant to fit together.”

More recently, Warren told Beliefnet that he thinks allowing a gay couple to marry is similar to allowing “a brother and sister to be together and call that marriage.” He then helpfully added that he’s also “opposed to an older guy marrying a child and calling that a marriage.” The reporter, who may have been a little surprised, asked, “Do you think those are equivalent to gays getting married?” “Oh, I do,” Warren immediately answered. I wish the reporter had asked the next logical follow-up: If gays are like child-sex offenders, shouldn’t we incarcerate them?

Rick Warren may occasionally sound more open-minded than Jerry Falwell, another plump Evangelical who once played a prominent role in U.S. politics. But he’s not. Gays and lesbians are angry that Barack Obama has honored Warren, but they shouldn’t be surprised. Obama has proved himself repeatedly to be a very tolerant, very rational-sounding sort of bigot. He is far too careful and measured a man to say anything about body parts fitting together or marriage being reserved for the nonpedophilic, but all the same, he opposes equality for gay people when it comes to the basic recognition of their relationships. He did throughout his campaign, one that featured appearances by Donnie McClurkin, a Christian entertainer who preaches that homosexuals can become heterosexuals.

Obama reminds me a little bit of Richard Russell Jr., the longtime Senator from Georgia who — as historian Robert Caro has noted — cultivated a reputation as a thoughtful, tolerant politician even as he defended inequality and segregation for decades. Obama gave a wonderfully Russellian defense of Warren on Thursday at a press conference. Americans, he said, need to “come together” even when they disagree on social issues. “That dialogue is part of what my campaign is all about,” he said. Russell would often use the same tactic to deflect criticism of his civil rights record. It was a distraction, Russell said, from the important business of the day uniting all Americans. Obama also said today that he is a “fierce advocate for equality” for gays, which is — given his opposition to equal marriage rights — simply a lie. It recalls the time Russell said, “I’m as interested in the Negro people of my state as anyone in the Senate. I love them.”

Many gays I know gave money to Obama, which mystified me. The favored explanation was that he doesn’t “really” believe gays shouldn’t be allowed to marry; he just has to say that in order to win. People seemed to feel that once he had won, he would find a way — in his contemplative style — to help convince Americans that gay people really do deserve basic equality. Instead, he has found a way to insult gay people deeply.

In California, some gay activists are planning to put marriage on the 2010 ballot so that Proposition 8 — which (thanks partly to Warren’s support) passed last month, banning marriage equality in the state — can be undone. Gays will need to reach older, religious, and African-American voters in order to overturn Prop. 8 (those three groups all voted disproportionately for it). If gays hoped that President Obama would help, they may want to reconsider.

The only piece of good news is that Obama loves to raise money, and he won’t want significant gay donors to stop organizing fundraisers for him. Having picked Warren to pray at the Inauguration and Republican Robert Gates to stay on at the Department of Defense (where Gates will likely continue the policy of investigating gay service members — a policy he has the legal power to end with the stroke of a pen), Obama will now have to do something nice for the gays. Today, the Washington Times brings news that some retired military leaders are supporting William White, an openly gay man who is chief operating officer of the Intrepid Museum Foundation, to be Secretary of the Navy. That would be cool. But I’m not getting my hopes up.

United Nations: First Gay Rights Declaration Wins Much Support, United States Opposes It

Posted in Uncategorized by allisonkilkenny on December 19, 2008

New York Times

s-gays-largeUNITED NATIONS — An unprecedented declaration seeking to decriminalize homosexuality won the support of 66 countries in the United Nations General Assembly on Thursday, but opponents criticized it as an attempt to legitimize pedophilia and other “deplorable acts.”

The United States refused to support the nonbinding measure, as did Russia, China, the Roman Catholic Church and members of the Organization of the Islamic Conference. The Holy See’s observer mission issued a statement saying that the declaration “challenges existing human rights norms.”

The declaration, sponsored by France with broad support in Europe and Latin America, condemned human rights violations based on homophobia, saying such measures run counter to the universal declaration of human rights.

“How can we tolerate the fact that people are stoned, hanged, decapitated and tortured only because of their sexual orientation?” said Rama Yade, the French state secretary for human rights, noting that homosexuality is banned in nearly 80 countries and subject to the death penalty in at least six.

France decided to use the format of a declaration because it did not have the support for an official resolution. Read out by Ambassador Jorge Argüello of Argentina, the declaration was the first on gay rights read in the 192-member General Assembly itself.

Although laws against homosexuality are concentrated in the Middle East, Asia and Africa, more than one speaker addressing a separate conference on the declaration noted that the laws stemmed as much from the British colonial past as from religion or tradition.

Navanethem Pillay, the United Nations high commissioner for human rights, speaking by video telephone, said that just like apartheid laws that criminalized sexual relations between different races, laws against homosexuality “are increasingly becoming recognized as anachronistic and as inconsistent both with international law and with traditional values of dignity, inclusion and respect for all.”

The opposing statement read in the General Assembly, supported by nearly 60 nations, rejected the idea that sexual orientation was a matter of genetic coding. The statement, led by the Organization of the Islamic Conference, said the effort threatened to undermine the international framework of human rights by trying to normalize pedophilia, among other acts.

The Organization of the Islamic Conference also failed in a last-minute attempt to alter a formal resolution that Sweden sponsored condemning summary executions. It sought to have the words “sexual orientation” deleted as one of the central reasons for such killings.

Ms. Yade and the Dutch foreign minister, Maxime Verhagen, said at a news conference that they were “disappointed” that the United States failed to support the declaration. Human rights activists went further. “The Bush administration is trying to come up with Christmas presents for the religious right so it will be remembered,” said Scott Long, a director at Human Rights Watch.

The official American position was based on highly technical legal grounds. The text, by using terminology like “without distinction of any kind,” was too broad because it might be interpreted as an attempt by the federal government to override states’ rights on issues like gay marriage, American diplomats and legal experts said.

“We are opposed to any discrimination, legally or politically, but the nature of our federal system prevents us from undertaking commitments and engagements where federal authorities don’t have jurisdiction,” said Alejandro D. Wolff, the deputy permanent representative.

Gay-rights advocates brought to the conference from around the world by France said just having the taboo broken on discussing the topic at the United Nations would aid their battles at home. “People in Africa can have hope that someone is speaking for them,” said the Rev. Jide Macaulay of Nigeria.

Funny + Politics = Drunken Politics

Posted in Uncategorized by allisonkilkenny on December 8, 2008

 

Now on Youtube!

Now on Youtube!

Like some funny with your politics? Check out Drunken Politics’ new Youtube page, and subscribe to our channel to get alerts!

 

Drunken Politics on Youtube

Newly uploaded videos include:

  • Mormons responding to Proposition 8 passing in California
  • A very special tribute to a great American patriot, Mrs. Sarah Palin
  • Walmart’s secret employee training video
  • The official Military-Industrial Complex commercial
  • Exclusive interview with award-winning director and author, Eugene Jarecki (director of Why We Fight and author of The American Way of War)

Drunken Politics: Gay is the New Black

Posted in Uncategorized by allisonkilkenny on December 3, 2008

Allison and Jamie talk about race, gay rights, Ann Coulter’s jaw and how apparently “Gay is the new Black”. 

Enjoy it, it’s Drunken Politics on BreakThru Radio. Check back at Breakthru Radio every Wednesday to hear new episodes of Drunken Politics.

Drunken Politics: myspace.com/drunkenpoliticsradio.

gay-is-the-new-black_iw

Velvet Revolution Calls on CA Secretary of State to Investigate Prop 8 Vote

Posted in Uncategorized by allisonkilkenny on November 23, 2008
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Offers $100K reward for information leading to arrest and conviction re: rigging of Prop 8

Voters are asked to submit complaints by Monday, November 24, if possible.

When a government runs our elections on electronic voting systems that are known to be riggable and hackable, systems that repeatedly fail to record and report election results correctly (see Diebold Admits Their Tabulator Software Doesn’t Count Votes Correctly and ES&S Op-Scans ‘Yielding Different Results Each Time Same Ballots Run Through Machines’ in MI County for examples), the public has good reason to be skeptical of the announced results.

And so it is with Proposition 8, the California initiative revoking marriage equality that was announced to have passed in the November 4 election. We support the lawsuits challenging Prop 8 on legal grounds. We simultaneously call for Secretary of State Debra Bowen to initiate an investigation into the results of the Proposition 8 election, based on concerns raised by voters, election monitors and election integrity advocates.

In order for Bowen to investigate problems that may have affected the outcome of Proposition 8 or other election results, her office must receive Election Complaint Forms from California registered voters as soon as possible. Final election returns are to be submitted by December 9th and the results will be certified on December 13th. Similar complaints may be combined in a joint investigation. The more personally-witnessed and well-documented complaints we can get to her, the better.

We ask that anyone who has bona fide information relevant to such an investigation submit it to Debra Bowen’s office by Monday, November 24, 2008 if at all possible, so that an investigation can be launched immediately. Complaints about individuals’ experiences while voting or monitoring the election are encouraged. Please use the official complaint form, which is available for download in several languages, and follow the outlined procedure. See below for more information about submitting complaints. If you cannot submit your complaint by Monday, November 24, please submit it as soon after that date as possible.

Please email a copy of the complaint to us as well at info(at)StandingForVoters.org. (StandingForVoters.org is a project of Velvet Revolution.)

Of course, we also encourage people to submit complaints to their local and state elections officials about any election irregularities they can document, regardless of where they occur or which campaign or issue they may favor. We the People demand accountability in our elections systems and a true basis for confidence in the election results.

In addition to the new reward being offered in the Proposition 8 race, Velvet Revolution is also offering rewards related to Mike Connell’s election manipulations, the break-ins at ACORN’s offices in Massachusetts and Washington state, and the 2002 Georgia Senate race in which Saxby Chambliss prevailed. Chambliss is currently fighting to retain that Senate seat in a runoff election to be held December 2. Velvet Revolution’s tipline for election fraud whistleblowers can be reached at 1-888-VOTE-TIP.

HOW TO SUBMIT AN ELECTION COMPLAINT FORM:

It can be mailed to:
SECRETARY OF STATE’S OFFICE
ELECTION FRAUD INVESTIGATION UNIT
1500-11th STREET, 5th Floor
Sacramento, CA 95814
OR
  • You can scan the completed form and supporting documents and email them to:
secretary.bowen@sos.ca.gov and elections@sos.ca.gov (Please remember to send a copy to us as well, as above.)
OR
  • You can call in a complaint at one of the following:
English: 1-800-345-VOTE (8683)
Spanish: 1-800-232-VOTA (8682)

The SoS legal staff recommends casting the widest net possible in the section “PERSONS OR ORGANIZATIONS AGAINST WHOM THE COMPLAINT IS BROUGHT,” i.e., anyone and everyone who could be liable, responsible or accountable for or otherwise involved in elections results.

EXAMPLE: All companies whose election systems are used in the State of California including but not limited to ES&S, Sequoia, Hart Intercivic, and Premier Election Solutions (aka Diebold); all elections officials and elections personnel of the State of California, including the Secretary of State’s Office, all County Registrars’ Offices and their staffs including temporary poll-workers; National Exit Polls (aka Edison/Mitofsky); CNN.

If you want your complaint to also be reviewed under HAVA regulations such as “HAVA Title III-Subtitle A-Requirements. SEC. 301.VOTING SYSTEM STANDARDS (a) (5) “The error rate of the voting system in counting ballots…” you must also include the second page of the form notarizing your signature. 

Blogged by Emily Levy 11/22/08