November 18, 2013
October 20, 2013
New York Times columnist, Gail Collins, in her Sunday column ' A Ted Cruz On Every Corner' points out that Senator Ted Cruz doesn't have the copyright for craziness in Texas politics. Republicans in that State are attempting to give him a run for his money.
Here is an excerpt and read the entire column here.
Have you noticed how many lawmakers from Texas were doing crazy things during the government shutdown debacle?
We need to discuss this as a matter of simple justice. These days, when you say “Texas” in the context of heavy-breathing Republican extremism, everybody immediately thinks of Senator Ted Cruz. Which is really unfair when there are so many other members of the state delegation trying to do their part.
I am thinking, for instance, of Representative Randy Neugebauer, who harangued an innocent park ranger about a shutdown-shuttered war memorial, insisting that the ranger and her colleagues should be “ashamed of themselves.”
Or Representative Louie Gohmert, who created a mild diversion when he charged that John McCain, an opponent of the shutdown, “supported Al Qaeda” in Syria. (McCain said that he did not take offense because “if someone has no intelligence, I don’t view it as being a malicious statement.”)
Or Representative Steve Stockman, who accused the president and House Democrats of “curb-stomping veterans.”
Or Representative John Culberson, who cried “Let’s roll!” in an apparent belief that shutting down the government was equivalent to resisting 9/11 terrorists.
Or Representative Pete Sessions, who summed things up rather neatly with: “We’re not French. We don’t surrender.”
See? Share the credit.
The nation keeps searching for signs of a resurgent political center, but there aren’t many hopeful peeps coming out of Texas. The pragmatic Texas Republican establishment is pretty much on its back, hyperventilating.
The old center-right standard-bearer, Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, is desperately trying to wipe out his reputation as a mainstream politician while he runs for re-election.
“I don’t know about you, but Barack Obama ought to be impeached,” he told a Tea Party gathering recently, with more fervor for the cause than for grammatical construction.
October 10, 2013
Everyone has had an idea how to approach the Russian Winter Olympic Games from boycott, to moving them or making the USA uniforms the colors of the rainbow flag. It is exactly that energy that has enabled AllOut.org and Athlete Ally to come up with an effective and wise approach to taking on the Russians record on LGBT rights.
Now the LGBT rights organizations Athlete Ally and All Out are promoting an alternative that may well steer clear of the flaws and dangers of other ideas. It involves appropriating the I.O.C.’s own words and stated values and turning them into a coded affirmation of LGBT equality, an epigrammatic protest of Russia’s laws that doesn’t include the word “gay” or any of the conventional symbols of the gay rights movement. Russians wouldn’t easily be able to classify it as so-called gay propaganda, which the country deems illegal. And I.O.C. officials could hardly take offense and muster any opposition.
The Olympic charter includes something called Principle 6, which decries discrimination of any kind and makes clear that the games are committed to equality and human rights. So Athlete Ally, working with a company called the Idea Brand and the professional football player Brendon Ayanbadejo, came up with and developed the notion of using the very name of that clause, along with a logo or logos that allude to it, as a rebuke of Russia’s laws and a method for athletes and fans to express their convictions. The symbol and the syllables P6, perhaps worn as a sticker, perhaps woven into clothing, could evolve into something along the lines of a Livestrong bracelet: a ubiquitous motif that doesn’t spell out a whole philosophy but has an unmistakable meaning and message.
“From the moment that the Russian laws became a big story, folks have been trying to think of ways to use the Olympics to shine a light on them and decry them,” noted Brian Ellner, a member of Athlete Ally’s board of directors.
Some advocates of LGBT equality called for a boycott of the Winter Games, but many others, myself included, thought that a boycott went too far and would turn the constructive, important attention being paid to Russia’s unacceptable laws into a less constructive lament and debate about what the American athletes who’d trained for this moment had lost and what the sports fans who relish the Olympics had been denied.
Some advocates urged that the Winter Games be moved, which was highly unlikely to happen and indeed isn’t happening.
But those dead ends didn’t mean the death of an intense and widespread desire to turn these Olympics into a teachable moment.
“I don’t want to see a boycott,” said Nick Symmonds, an American middle-distance runner who was on our country’s Olympic teams in 2008 and 2012, participating in the Summer Games in Beijing and then London. “But I do expect to see the I.O.C. uphold the charter. If you read what it says there, it says that any form of discrimination will not be tolerated. And clearly they’re allowing a form of discrimination to be tolerated.”
“The Olympics have to be about equality,” Symmonds added. “And Russia is very clearly not about equality.”
He recently returned from Russia, where he competed in the 2013 world championships, winning a silver in the 800 meters, and where he made it a point, on Russian soil, to denounce Russia’s laws, telling a Russian news agency: “I believe that all humans deserve equality no matter how God made them.” He told me that he doubted he’d be arrested or have his medal taken away—neither of which happened—and was willing in any case to take the chance.
In addition to his comments in Russia, Symmonds is among a growing number of former and imminent Olympians who have put their names on a petition, as part of the P6 movement, to implore the I.O.C. to state more clearly than it has thus far that its anti-discrimination philosophy embraces gay people and rights; that Russia’s laws aren’t consistent with the I.O.C. charter and the Olympic spirit; and that Russia, as the host country, needs to be cognizant of that.
The list of prominent athletes who have joined Symmonds in speaking up for equality and drawing attention to Principle 6 includes the tennis star Andy Roddick and the National Basketball Association player Steve Nash, both veterans of the Olympics.
Andre Banks, the executive director of All Out, said that it’s clear to him, from his outreach and conversations over recent months, that “a lot of people are looking for a way to speak out.”
“I’ve heard from many people in many different sports,” Banks told me. He added that when it comes to athletes who are bound for Sochi, “They feel it’s irresponsible to be asked to choose between the sport that they love and the principles that they believe in.”
That’s where the Principle 6 movement comes in. It’s an attempt to take full advantage of the world’s attention to the Winter Games without putting athletes at risk of censure. Maybe they hold up six fingers. Maybe their outfits include something with a P6 logo, several designs for which are being considered.
“I think you’re likely to see merchandise, hats, gloves, shirts,” said Banks.
All Out, Athlete Ally and their supporters realize that none of this will work if they don’t quickly educate the public, through social media and other avenues, about what P6 stands for. They’re now embarking on that mission, which is helped hugely by the involvement of athletes like Symmonds, Roddick, Nash and the diver Greg Louganis, an openly gay former Olympian who has been vocal about the Russian laws.
They want to make P6 the rainbow flag that’s not a rainbow flag, the shout-out for equality that sidesteps the syllable gay, which is so ridiculously risky in the context of these particular Winter Games.
For an athlete to wear a P6 symbol would be “like a Supreme Court justice tattooing the First Amendment on his or her arm,” Ellner said. “Is that political? No. It’s the Constitution.”
September 27, 2013
The New York Times was granted unlimited access to the Christine Quinn for Mayor campaign from the very early stages. Of course, it was widely expected that she would win election. The Documentary, "Hers To Lose", is an extraordinary glimpse at so many levels of a campaign, the personal toll its takes, her relationship and running as a woman and openly lesbian.
The documentary is thirty minutes long but moves very quickly. You owe it to yourself as a citizen to watch this really great job by the New York Times. I hope the media giant plans to give us more of these documentaries.
August 31, 2013
Well, couldn't be more thrilled this morning with the New York Times. They endorsed three incredible LGBT candidates and friends for the New York City Council. All of the three will make New York City an incredibly better place and have run campaigns that distinguish show they deserve this endorsement. This is on top of the New York Times endorsing Christine Quinn for Mayor. Loving my New York Times this week!
By endorsing Cory Johnson, they not only endorse the best but reject the ugly, ugly politics and lies of his opposition. In endorsing Mel Wymore, they make history by their first endorsement of a Transgender candidate for City Council. With their high praise for Carlos Menchaca, they endorse not only a talented grassroots activist but one of the finest human beings running for office. Menchaca would be the first person of Mexican American heritage to be elected to the New York City Council
Here are the Times endorsements for each of these men:
MANHATTAN’S DISTRICT 3 (Chelsea, the West Village and Clinton): In this race to replace Council Speaker Christine Quinn, who is now in the race for mayor, Corey Johnson, a gay rights activist and community board chairman, is running against Yetta Kurland, a civil rights lawyer. Mr. Johnson, who has worked in public relations, has helped tenants faced with eviction by landlords who wanted to raise rents. He has been involved in bringing public schools to the neighborhood and fought to scale back growth in commercial developments that threatened to overwhelm the area. These accomplishments make him a better choice. We recommend Corey Johnson for this seat
MANHATTAN’S DISTRICT 6 (Upper West Side): There are plenty of good candidates in this race to replace Gale Brewer, now running for Manhattan borough president. They include Helen Rosenthal, a former official in the city budget office; Marc Landis, a lawyer and Democratic Party leader; the education activist Noah Gotbaum; Debra Cooper, an advocate for women’s issues; and Ken Biberaj, a businessman. But the leader in this field is Mel Wymore, who in recent years has headed the local community board and the West Side Y. Mr. Wymore, a systems engineer and entrepreneur, was instrumental in persuading a developer to build a large school as part of a housing project, and he helped develop new zoning regulations that limited the ground-floor width of stores to help small shops survive. We prefer Mr. Wymore in this race.
BROOKLYN DISTRICT 38 (Red Hook and Sunset Park): This race is between the incumbent, Sara González, whose enthusiasm for the job seems to have waned, and Carlos Menchaca, a 32-year-old Mexican-American who has worked in city government over the last decade. Ms. Gonzalez has had a spotty attendance record and very few legislative successes in her 11 years on the job. Mr. Menchaca, who grew up in public housing in Texas, promises to work for better public housing in his district and to improve schools, especially after-school programs. When Hurricane Sandy flooded much of this district, Mr. Menchaca energetically organized volunteers. We endorse Mr. Menchaca.
August 24, 2013
The prestigious New York Times has endorsed City Council Speaker Christine Quinn to be the next Mayor of New York. The endorsement covers the Democratic primary to be held in early September. This follows closely on a powerful endorsement by the New York Daily News.
Read the full editorial but here are some excerpts:
We had already made up our own minds in favor of Ms. Quinn, but the Wednesday debate would have clinched it anyway. Candidates were asked what legacy they wanted to leave after two terms. “More people in the middle class,” Ms. Quinn said. It was a perfect answer, and she could have left it there. But, Quinn being Quinn, she threw in supporting details. She wants 40,000 more apartments the middle class can afford to live in. She wants to repair crumbling public housing, providing “quality conditions” for 600,000 people. She wants to make the school day longer and replace textbooks with electronic tablets. At the buzzer, she threw in: make the city “climate-change ready.”
Ms. Quinn has been an impressive leader since her days as a neighborhood advocate and her early years on the City Council. We endorsed her for the Council in 1999 as someone “who can both work within the system and criticize it when necessary” — a judgment she has validated many times since. She has shepherded through important laws protecting New Yorkers’ health, safety and civil rights, including measures banning public smoking, protecting tenants and small businesses, and battling slumlords. She sponsored the sweeping 2007 legislation that made the city’s exemplary campaign-finance laws even stronger. She pushed successfully for a state law making kindergarten mandatory for 5-year-olds — giving thousands of poor and minority children a better start on their educations.
As speaker, Ms. Quinn has been a forceful counterpart to Mr. Bloomberg, and has turned the Council from a collection of rambunctious, ill-directed egos into a forceful and effective legislative body. In wrestling with budgets she has shown restraint that runs counter to lesser political instincts. She fought, for example, for a Bloomberg plan to keep a year’s surplus as a rainy-day fund. There was fierce opposition from Council members who wanted to spend the money. Ms. Quinn was right, and the city had a cushion when the recession hit.
Mr. Bloomberg has raised expectations that hard decisions should be made on the merits — that the city needs a mayor who is willing to say no. More than with the other candidates, that description fits Ms. Quinn. As an early leader in the campaign, with a target on her back, she has faced anger and derision without wavering. We admire her staunch support for the city’s solid-waste management plan, which is good for the whole city but bitterly opposed in some neighborhoods. She has been willing to challenge the mayor’s misjudgment and insensitivity, as when he tried to require single adults to prove their homelessness before they were allowed to use city shelters.
A lot of good ideas that, in Ms. Quinn’s case, add up to an achievable vision, and one we would be glad to see come to pass.
August 09, 2013
While far from avoiding a runoff, Christine Quinn who is attempting to become the first LGBT and Woman mayor of New York City has built a solid 9 point lead. The New York Times/Siena College Poll shows:
Christine Quinn: 25%
Bill Thompson: 16%
Bill de Blasio: 14%
Anthony Weiner: 10%
The Times reports:
Ms. Quinn far outpaces her rivals in Manhattan, where she is backed by a third of Democratic voters. And she is supported by nearly 4 in 10 voters with household incomes of $100,000 or more.
She also leads among white voters. But among black voters, 24 percent support Mr. Thompson, 18 percent for Ms. Quinn, 15 percent for Mr. Weiner and 12 percent for Mr. de Blasio.
Ms. Quinn is backed by equal numbers of men and women. But the poll finds a tight race among older voters, who are an important component of primary elections because they reliably show up. Mr. Thompson is supported by 18 percent of those age 65 or older, compared with 16 percent for Ms. Quinn, 13 percent for Mr. Weiner and 12 percent for Mr. de Blasio. Three in 10 older voters are still undecided.
In the Democratic primary race for city comptroller, the poll finds Eliot Spitzer with a nine-point lead over Scott M. Stringer. Mr. Spitzer, who resigned as governor after his patronization of prostitutes became public, is at 44 percent. Mr. Stringer, the Manhattan borough president, registers 35 percent. Nineteen percent of Democratic voters are undecided about the comptroller’s race.
Mr. Spitzer is buoyed by strong support among black voters – 57 percent back him, compared with 37 percent of white voters. And while voters under age 45 are split between the candidates, older voters favor Mr. Spitzer. The poll finds no difference in preferences between men and women in the comptroller’s race.
August 04, 2013
National New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd recently spent time with Christine Quinn. The usually caustic columnist wrote an unusually favorable column of the candidate for Mayor of New York City Christine Quinn.
Here is an excerpts and you can read it all by clicking here:
A WELL-DRESSED man at the West 72nd Street subway entrance stopped to take one of
“You don’t seem quite as evil as they make you out to be,” he said smiling at her.
Quinn looked a bit startled, then replied, “I’m really not.”
This should be the moment for Christine Callaghan Quinn, and she is back in the lead, after being knocked off last month by a resurgent Anthony Weiner. The coppery 47-year-old speaker of the New York City Council wants to be seen as a member of the fighting Irish, “a big pushy broad,” as she puts it, who pushes for New York.
The slight Weiner has never done anything in politics but, even at this nadir, his bellicose intensity can still get him cheers from some crowds. The sturdy Quinn has accomplished a lot — herding loony Council members and helping Mayor Michael Bloomberg — but she has a hard time exciting voters, even women.
“You never see Chris swaying people in church back and forth,” said one top Democrat.
In trying to be all things, to go left without losing Bloomberg and to go right without losing the Democratic base, Quinn has gotten lost a little. New Yorkers want someone who looks as if they believe in one thing, even if they’re catering to many people.
Over a yogurt-and-berry breakfast at a Midtown hotel, Quinn talked about trying to “create that connection.”
She says it’s frustrating when people criticize her for being politically inauthentic. By trying to calibrate your authenticity, she says, “you’re gonna make yourself crazy and take up space in your brain — and I don’t have that much space in my brain.” She bursts into her lusty laugh with the snort at the end.
Quinn is bracing for her rivals to start airing ads excoriating her for helping Emperor Bloomberg get his third term. She says she has no regrets about that, or about making the decision to have a “productive” relationship with the mayor.
“This idea that the honor of all this is in the fight as opposed to in the victory for New Yorkers really gets my goat,” she said. “Look at Washington, where you’re either all in or you’re the devil. Who does that help?”
Bloomberg loyalists regard Quinn’s attempt to distance herself from the mayor on “stop and frisk” and other issues as awkward and offensive, like a teenage daughter rebelling against daddy. As one put it, “It shouldn’t be that hard for her to say, ‘The city’s doing well, but we can do better.’ ”
Quinn is still smarting over a Times story that described her volatile “hair-trigger eruptions.”
“Am I pushy?” she asked. “Yep. Do I like taking no for an answer when no means New Yorkers aren’t going to get something they need? No. Do I push back and crack some eggs? Absolutely.”
She also defended herself for calling the police and fire commissioners in July when an ambulance did not arrive in a timely way, after a City Council intern fainted in the heat.
“I’m going to do whatever I have to do to help a New Yorker,” she said, “whether it’s a girl on the street or a tenant in a housing development.”
Despite her Irish temper, some wonder if she has Bloomberg’s spine.
“If you can’t make it through being booed at the 92nd Street Y, you can’t be mayor,” she said.
Though she would be the first female and openly gay mayor, she knows she hasn’t sparked Hillary-style thrills yet. She recalled that one of her best moments came at a school forum when some little girls chased her for autographs. “They all said I had really bad handwriting,” she grinned.
“There’s a potential here for great firsts,” Quinn said. “This sounds a little silly. I wake up every morning and I’m a lesbian. It’s just the way it is. When I was running for speaker, people would go out of their way to point out why I wasn’t going to win: ‘You’re a woman, you’re too liberal, you’re gay, you’re from the West Side of Manhattan,’ which in that context was an insult. You kind of want to go, not for nuttin’, but I knew that when I woke up, so stop pointing out the obvious.”
July 09, 2013
The articulate and brilliant New York Times columnist Frank Bruni once again takes a complex issue and puts its in perspective for all Americans. This time Bruni focus on the Catholic Church and how they attempt to handle the public relations disaster of widespread child molestation within the Church and their attempts at cover-up.
Not surprising jovial New York Cardinal Timothy Dolan is at the center of it all.
I mean the way that a religious organization can behave almost precisely as a corporation does, with fudged words, twisted logic and a transcendent instinct for self-protection that frequently trump the principled handling of a specific grievance or a particular victim.
The Milwaukee documents underscore this, especially in the person of Cardinal Timothy Dolan, now the archbishop of New York, previously the archbishop of Milwaukee from 2002 to 2009 and thus one of the characters in the story that the documents tell. Last week’s headlines rightly focused on his part, because he typifies the slippery ways of too many Catholic leaders.
The documents show that in 2007, as the Milwaukee archdiocese grappled with sex-abuse lawsuits and seemingly pondered bankruptcy, Dolan sought and got permission from the Vatican to transfer $57 million into a trust for Catholic cemetery maintenance, where it might be better protected, as he wrote, “from any legal claim and liability.”
Several church officials have said that the money had been previously flagged for cemetery care, and that Dolan was merely formalizing that.
But even if that’s so, his letter contradicts his strenuous insistence before its emergence that he never sought to shield church funds. He did precisely that, no matter the nuances of the motivation.
He’s expert at drafting and dwelling in gray areas. Back in Milwaukee he selectively released the names of sexually abusive priests in the archdiocese, declining to identify those affiliated with, and answerable to, particular religious orders — Jesuits, say, or Franciscans. He said that he was bound by canon law to take that exact approach.
But bishops elsewhere took a different one, identifying priests from orders, and in a 2010 article on Dolan in The Times, Serge F. Kovaleski wrote that a half-dozen experts on canon law said that it did not specifically address the situation that Dolan claimed it did.
Dolan has quibbled disingenuously over whether the $20,000 given to each abusive priest in Milwaukee who agreed to be defrocked can be characterized as a payoff, and he has blasted the main national group representing victims of priests as having “no credibility whatsoever.” Some of the group’s members have surely engaged in crude, provocative tactics, but let’s have a reality check: the group exists because of widespread crimes and a persistent cover-up in the church, because child after child was raped and priest after priest evaded accountability. I’m not sure there’s any ceiling on the patience that Dolan and other church leaders should be expected to muster, especially because they hold themselves up as models and messengers of love, charity and integrity.
That’s the thing. That’s what church leaders and church defenders who routinely question the amount of attention lavished on the church’s child sexual abuse crisis still don’t fully get.
Yes, as they point out, there are molesters in all walks of life. Yes, we can’t say with certainty that the priesthood harbors a disproportionate number of them.
But over the last few decades we’ve watched an organization that claims a special moral authority in the world pursue many of the same legal and public-relations strategies — shuttling around money, looking for loopholes, tarring accusers, massaging the truth — that are employed by organizations devoted to nothing more than the bottom line.