Christian Hate Group calls for boycott over Ellen DeGeneres ad with elves

From Raw Story:

By David Edwards
Thursday, December 6, 2012

The anti-LGBT activist group One Million Moms is calling on Christians to boycott JCPenney department stores because talk show host Ellen DeGeneres appears in a routine Christmas ad.

As NBC noted on Thursday, JCPenny’s commercial, in which DeGeneres wears holiday clothes and insults elves with short jokes, will not strike most viewer as controversials in any way.

But for One Million Moms, seeing the lesbian comedienne on their television screens was an instant cause for action.

“Since April, JC Penney’s has not aired Ellen DeGeneres in one of their commercials until now,” the group wrote on its website. “A new JCP ad features Ellen and three elves. JCP has made their choice to offend a huge majority of their customers again. Christians must now vote with their wallets.”

Viewers on YouTube were puzzled by the group’s reaction.

“One Million Moms or as I call them a seething hot ball of bigotry, hate, intolerance and inequality,” one commenter wrote. “There is nothing wrong with that ad.”

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Christian Hate Group Leader Lauds Uganda Dictator as ‘Kill the Gays’ Bill Is Revived

From Alternet:

Tony Perkins goes out of his way to ensure that the Family Research Council deserves its hate-group designation.

By Cynthia Burack
December 5, 2012

In the past week the Family Research Council has been busy praising Uganda’s commitment to Christian faith and “national repentance” — even as the Ugandan Parliament once again takes up a bill that would legally mandate the persecution of LGBT people. The bill appears to be part and parcel of dictator Yoweri Museveni’s “repentance” program, and its reappearance before the legislature has drawn no criticism from FRC or the other Christian right groups allied with the dictator. If anything, it seems to be drawing tacit, artfully-phrased praise.

Many who have followed the human rights crisis for LGBT people in Uganda know that, in 2009, the Anti-Homosexuality Bill was introduced into the Ugandan Parliament to supplement laws that already banned homosexuality. The bill, quickly dubbed the “Kill the Gays” bill because of its provision of a death penalty for “aggravated homosexuality,” also includes severe penalties for other actions and non-actions, including the “failure to disclose the offense” by anyone who might be aware of another person’s same-sex sexuality. Although the bill has not been yet passed, it has attracted harsh international condemnation, and many attacks on LGBT people and activists have been attributed to the public debates surrounding it.

It is in this context that last month Uganda’s pious President Museveni delivered a speech in which he dedicated his country to God and renounced “the Satanic influence” of “the last 50 years of [its] history.” (It is not clear whether Museveni considers it inconvenient that he has governed Uganda for over half of the country’s 50 years of said sinfulness.) While he did not mention homosexuality specifically in the long list of sins for which Museveni called upon the deity to forgive the nation, he did name “sexual immorality.” In any case, Speaker of Parliament Rebecca Kadaga has taken up the challenge of national repentance by promising passage of the “Kill the Gays” legislation as a “Christmas gift” to the people of Uganda.

Naturally, Christian conservative leaders in the U.S. are thrilled with what FRC has called an “inspirational moment for the [Ugandan] nation.” As Alvin McEwen pointed out , FRC President Tony Perkins tweeted a big, warm hug to President Museveni for “leading his nation in repentance” and thus helping to create a “nation prospered by God.” But Perkins’ tweet was an hors d’oeuvre for the main course, a November 26 email alert sent out to FRC subscribers entitled, “During Revival, Media Still Atone Deaf.” As the title suggests, one target of the longer commendation of Museveni is the mainstream media in the U.S. which, having drawn attention to violations of LGBT peoples’ human rights in Uganda, is accused of being “so threatened by religion that it refuses to leave another country alone to pursue its own views on sexuality and faith.”

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Mexican Supreme Court rules for marriage equality

From Salon:

The country is on track to legalize same-sex marriage nationwide before its neighbor to the north

Thursday, Dec 6, 2012

In a unanimous ruling Wednesday, the Supreme Court of Mexico has paved the way for same-sex couples to marry in every one of the country’s 31 states before the U.S. has federal marriage equality.

Gay marriage has been legal in the Federal District, Mexico City, since 2010, and the Supreme Court had previously ruled that those marriages must be recognized nationwide. Wednesday’s ruling struck down a law in the southern state of Oaxaca that denied same-sex couples the right to marry there.

The ruling could have repercussions beyond Mexico’s borders. The couples seeking to marry in the Oaxaca case based their claims partly on protections in the American Convention on Human Rights, which has legal force in many Latin American countries. In saying that bans on same-sex marriage are discriminatory, the court may establish a precedent that could be used by LGBT activists throughout the region.

This comes before the U.S. Supreme Court has even decided whether it will hear a gay marriage case.

This Oaxaca case, which has broad implications, had an unlikely beginning. It was initiated by a Oaxacan law student, Alex Alí Méndez Díaz, who brought suits on behalf of a handful of couples even though other LGBT activists in his state warned that they were doomed to fail.

Méndez met a couple named Alejandro and Guillermo while working with the Oaxacan Front for the Respect and Recognition of Sexual Diversity [Frente Oaxaqueño por el Respeto y el Reconocimiento de la Diversidad Sexual] to plan a 2011 gay rights march. (Méndez has not released the last names of his clients to protect their privacy.) They said they wanted to get married but couldn’t afford the trip to Mexico City.

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Claire McCaskill’s Sweeping Overhaul Of Wartime Contracting Passes Senate

From Huffington Post:


WASHINGTON — The Senate passed a sweeping overhaul on Tuesday of the U.S. government’s wartime contracting procedures, the largest such reform in decades. Sen. Claire McCaskill’s (D-Mo.) amendment, included in the national defense bill, is aimed at improving oversight and cracking down on the rampant waste, fraud and abuse of taxpayer dollars in contracting practices.

“While these wars wind down, we can’t lose the urgency to correct these mistakes and prevent them from being repeated in the future,” said McCaskill in a statement. “Protecting taxpayer dollars isn’t the flashiest issue. But it’s a promise I made to Missourians, and it’s something I pledge to continue fighting for, with dogged determination, until this legislation is signed into law.”

Wartime contracting was not the headline issue in McCaskill’s recent Senate race, where she spoke out on the reproductive rights of women after her opponent, Rep. Todd Akin (R-Mo.), made his infamous remark about “legitimate rape.” But the topic is near and dear to the heart of McCaskill, who was previously Missouri state auditor.

McCaskill has been leading a six-year effort to crack down on wartime contracting abuses. For example, there was the $345 million spent on health centers in Iraq that went largely unused. There was also the $300 million the United States spent on building the Tarakhil Power Plant in Afghanistan, without considering whether the country would be able to afford the expensive fuel to run the plant.

Last year, the Commission on Wartime Contracting in Iraq and Afghanistan — which was created by McCaskill and Sen. Jim Webb (D-Va.) in 2007 — concluded that up to $60 billion in U.S. taxpayer money has been squandered in contract waste and fraud in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The committee cited “ill-conceived” projects, “poor planning and oversight” by the government, “poor performance” by contractors, as well as “criminal behavior and blatant corruption.”

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Entitlements Are Fundamental Human Rights, Not Political Poker Chips to Be Bargained Away

From Truth Out:

By Salvatore Babones
Wednesday, 05 December 2012

The basic necessities of life are not for government to give or withhold based on its current budget situation. They are things we are entitled to have, no matter how inconvenient it may be for our neighbors to pay for them.

In September 1974, Gerald Ford’s Office of Management and Budget (OMB) introduced a new term into the English language: “entitlement program.”

Journalist Edwin L. Dale Jr. (who later joined Ronald Reagan’s OMB as budget spokesperson) explained in the September 22, 1974 New York Times that the term “covers all those cases where the law creates a formula of some kind that entitles individuals or, in a few cases, state and local governments, to qualify for federal payments.”

Since Richard Nixon had just resigned on August 9, the nation may not have been paying much attention to technical briefings from the OMB.

To read more articles by Salvatore Babones and other authors in the Public Intellectual Project, click here.

Ford’s OMB divided the federal budget into four categories, a basic division that is still used today. First came contractual obligations like interest on the debt. Interestingly, the OMB placed corporate welfare programs like federal mortgage insurance and farm price supports in this sacrosanct category.

Second came “entitlement programs” like Social Security, Food Stamps, Medicare and Medicaid. The OMB assumed that these could not realistically be cut because the people receiving them would raise hell if they were.

These were the programs that Nixon wanted to get rid of, but felt he couldn’t. He left Ford in no position to pursue an ideological crusade against them. Ford needed every vote he could get.

Third came defense spending, ring-fenced as always.

Last on the list, and first on the chopping block, came domestic discretionary spending – in other words, “government.” According to OMB data, domestic discretionary spending has fallen from 21.3 percent of all federal spending in 1974, to just 16.1 percent today. Under the Budget Control Act of 2011 domestic discretionary spending will suffer disproportionate cuts due to sequestration in 2012.

Of the four categories, Nixon prioritized interest payments to investors first, subsidy payments to individuals second, the military third and government last. The only major change to this formula came with election of Ronald Reagan, who moved the military up from third place to second. Subsequent presidents have followed Reagan’s lead.

Now that domestic discretionary spending has been eviscerated, anti-government forces have turned their attention to entitlement programs.

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If We Did Not Share in the Prosperity, Why Should We Have to Share in the Sacrifice?

From Huffington Post:


When the great recession of 2008 struck, it hit some of us harder than others. Middle class families, the poor, people of color and the workers of America suffered the most, while those that caused the crisis were largely unscathed — many even increased their wealth. Today, when we are in danger of going over the notorious fiscal cliff, some repeatedly speak of ‘shared sacrifice.’ But when the top 2 percent were enjoying their tax breaks and stockpiling their prosperity, there was no sharing with the masses. And instead, these individuals and groups now have the audacity to ask seniors, minorities, folks whose children fought in our wars, the disenfranchised and the most vulnerable among us to sacrifice some more. Does that seem fair to you?

On Monday, I was in the nation’s capital with Marc Morial, President and CEO of the National Urban League, Ben Jealous, President and CEO of the NAACP, and Melanie Campbell, the Executive Director of the National Coalition on Black Civic Participation as we convened a meeting on the ‘Agenda for Black America.’ We gathered a group of African American and civil rights leaders representing 62 organizations as we collaborated on national priorities for the coming Presidential term. We will be laying out the specifics of this agenda (addressing everything from economic disparity to the criminal justice system) to Congress and the White House in the next several weeks. But the very first thing that all of us who care about the future of our nation must agree on is that middle class tax cuts must be reissued and tax breaks for the top 2 percent must expire.

About two weeks before our ‘Agenda for Black America’ coalition, progressive leaders (including myself), met with President Obama to advocate on behalf of our respective communities. Representing a diverse group of organizations — White, Black, Latino, gay/lesbian and female — we highlighted ways in which we can collectively continue moving forward. As we expressed to the President in that meeting, it’s abundantly clear that Republicans simply do not understand the new electorate.

Back in 1988, George H.W. Bush won approximately 61 percent of the White vote and was swept into office. In 2012, Mitt Romney won about the same percentage of White voters and lost. The demographics of the country have undeniably changed. There’s a new America and a new electorate. And those who do not comprehend this notion will continue losing support and continue losing elections. Any further negotiations regarding the looming fiscal cliff must also keep this new America in mind.

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Tax the Rich: An animated fairy tale

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