Friday Night Fun and Culture: Eliza Gilkyson

Tonight Eliza Gilkyson is playing Uncle Calvin’s here in Dallas, unfortunately we have a friend arriving tomorrow and decided to clean house instead of seeing her.

The Limited Reach of the Supreme Court’s Gay Marriage Rulings

From Truth Dig

By Bill Blum
Jun 27, 2013

From Greenwich Village in New York to West Hollywood and the Castro District in California, the LGBT community is celebrating, and for good reason. In two landmark rulings handed down Wednesday, the Supreme Court overturned a key section of the Defense of Marriage Act in the case of United States v. Windsor and paved the way for same-sex marriages to resume in California in Hollingsworth v. Perry.

But as the parades, rallies and public displays of pure giddiness wind down, let’s hope that a more sobering realization sets in that despite Wednesday’s triumphs, the court’s decisions fall far short of establishing marriage equality as a federal constitutional right. The decisions may have advanced the ball significantly in that direction, but they were, in fact, narrow and bitterly divided 5-4 rulings issued by a deeply conservative tribunal that erect stiff barriers to further progress, both for the cause of marriage equality and the broader goals of social justice extending beyond the issue.

How proponents of marriage equality and progressives generally proceed from this point depends on understanding exactly what Wednesday’s decisions said and didn’t say. To do that, we must look beyond the headlines.

Of the two rulings, Windsor has the wider nationwide application. Authored by Justice Anthony Kennedy and joined by the court’s four liberals, the majority opinion held that Section 3 of DOMA, which defines marriage for purposes of more than a thousand federal laws and benefit programs as the union of one man and one woman, violated the basic principles of due process and equal protection of the U.S. Constitution’s Fifth Amendment. In heartfelt prose that spoke of the sanctity and dignity of same-sex unions, Kennedy reasoned that the section’s only purpose was to impose a “separate status and so a stigma” upon same-sex couples, and that such purpose was unconstitutional.

Threaded within Kennedy’s heartfelt prose, however, was a narrative of states-rights and old-fashioned federalism, whereby he and the majority recognized that with few constitutional exceptions (pertaining, for example, to now-defunct state laws prohibiting interracial unions), the definition of marriage is by historical tradition and the weight of constitutional law left to the states. The majority opinion did not alter that tradition with regard to gay marriage. To the contrary, the opinion ends with the stark admonition that “its holding [is] confined to those lawful marriages” in states that have opted to recognize same-sex unions.

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The Long Road to Marriage Equality

From The New York Times:

Published: June 26, 2013

NEW HAVEN — THE Supreme Court’s soaring decision to strike down the core of the Defense of Marriage Act as unconstitutional is a civil rights landmark, but the history leading up to it is poorly understood. Marriage equality was neither inevitable nor, until recently, even conceivable. And the struggle for it was not, as is commonly believed, a natural consequence of the gay liberation movement that gained steam in the late 1960s.

It was not until the 1980s that securing legal recognition for same-sex relationships became an urgent concern of lesbians and gay men. Decades earlier, such recognition was almost unimaginable. In the 1950s, most states criminalized gay people’s sexual intimacy. Newspaper headlines blared the State Department’s purge of homosexual employees during the McCarthy-era “lavender scare.” Police cracked down on lesbian and gay bars and other alleged “breeding grounds” of homosexuality.

The lesbian and gay liberation movements of the early 1970s did not make marriage a priority — quite the opposite. Activists fought police raids, job discrimination and families’ rejection of their queer children. Most radical activists scorned the very idea of marriage. But a handful walked into clerks’ offices across the country to request marriage licenses. State officials suddenly realized that their laws failed to limit marriage to a man and a woman; no other arrangement had been imagined. By 1978, 15 states had written this limitation into law.

A “traditional family values” movement arose to oppose gay rights and feminism. Anita Bryant and other activists took aim at some of the earliest local anti-discrimination laws, and by 1979 they had persuaded voters in several cities to repeal them. Subsequently, in more than 100 state and local referendums, gay-rights activists had to defend hard-won protections. This, not marriage, consumed much of their energy.

It was the ’80s that changed things. The AIDS epidemic and what came to be known as the “lesbian baby boom” compelled even those couples whose friends and family fully embraced them to deal with powerful institutions — family and probate courts, hospitals, adoption agencies and funeral homes — that treated them as legal strangers.

Hospitals could deny the gay partner of someone with AIDS visitation privileges, not to mention consultation over treatment. He couldn’t use his health insurance to cover his partner. He risked losing his home after his partner died, if his name wasn’t on the lease or if he couldn’t pay inheritance taxes on his partner’s share (which would not have been required of a surviving spouse).

When two women shared parenting and the biological mother died, the courts often felt obliged to grant custody to her legal next of kin — even if the child wished to remain with the nonbiological mother. If the women separated, the biological mother could unilaterally deny her ex the right to see their children.

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Christo-Nazi Tony Perkins: Gay Marriage Threatens Freedom, SCOTUS Legitimacy

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The People’s Filibuster: Texas Governor Revives Anti-Abortion Bill Defeated by Protesters, Lawmakers

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Wendy and the Boys

From The New York Times:

Published: June 26, 2013

There is an old saying that Texas is “heaven for men and dogs, but hell for women and oxen.” But the state’s history is chock-full of stories of female role models. Barbara Jordan. Ann Richards. In downtown Austin, there’s a statue of Angelina Eberly, heroine of the Texas Archives War of 1842, firing a cannon and looking about 7 feet tall.

I do not have nearly enough time to explain to you about the Archives War, although it’s an extremely interesting story. Right now we need to move on to State Senator Wendy Davis, whose 11-hour filibuster this week turned her into a national name brand.

“It was like a made-for-TV movie. I’ve been around the block, but I’ve never seen anything like this,” said Cecile Richards, the president of Planned Parenthood and the daughter of the former governor.

Texas is a state with one of the nation’s highest teenage motherhood rates, where a majority of women who give birth are poor enough to qualify for Medicaid. So, naturally, its political leaders have declared war against the right of women to choose whether or not they want to be pregnant. Funding for family planning has been slashed. This month, Gov. Rick Perry tried to pass a new law that would have shut down almost all the abortion clinics in the state, under the guise of expanded health and safety requirements.

Huge crowds showed up to protest! This was pretty remarkable because Texas is not currently known as a place where people pay intense attention to what goes on in its State Capitol. (A recent study at the University of Texas at Austin found that it has “one of the nation’s lowest political and civic participation rates.”) Also, the conventional wisdom is that when things get politically rowdy, it’s because of a visitation from the right.

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Wendy Davis, feminist superhero

From Salon:

The filibustering pro-choice Texas state senator is helping turn her state blue. Ann Richards is smiling

After much confusion, the Statesman reports that Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst announced on the Senate floor at 3:01 a.m that the bill had, in fact, not passed.

Original post:

In a better world, the discussion of sonograms would not be at all germane to proposed new antiabortion legislation, because the two issues would have nothing to do with one another. But since Texas, like many other states, recently passed a requirement that women get a sonogram before obtaining an abortion, it made perfect sense that state Sen. Wendy Davis would talk about the way SB 5, the state’s proposed new abortion restrictions, might relate to the earlier sonogram law.

Davis was 11 hours into an effort to filibuster that draconian antiabortion legislation when she turned to its relationship with the sonogram law, and Republican Sen. Donna Campbell stood up and claimed the Democrat’s sonogram discussion wasn’t germane to the legislation Davis was filibustering. If Campbell was right, that was Davis’ third “strike” – a violation of Senate rules that would end the filibuster. After a long break, Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst agreed that Davis’ discussion of the sonogram law wasn’t germane to the abortion law debate, and moved to end the filibuster. There followed amazing parliamentary wrangling that had Roberts Rules of Order trending on Twitter in some areas, but in the end, the Senate seemed to pass SB 5 in a shady way (more on that later) that will make an already suspect, poorly written bill even more likely to be overturned by the courts.

That outcome aside: Wendy Davis is a badass.

The funny, feisty state senator is already a star on the national feminist circuit. Raised by a single mother, Davis herself became a single mom at 19. She started out at Tarrant Community College, went on to Texas Christian University and got her law degree from Harvard. She moved from the Fort Worth City Council to the Texas House to the Senate with impressive momentum. This isn’t her first filibuster: In 2011 she filibustered $4 billion in education cuts, making Gov. Rick Perry call a special session to push them through anyway. I got to meet her when I last visited Texas, as a guest of the wonderful feminist group Annie’s List, and everyone I talked to thought she’d get to be Texas governor someday – at least governor. Alongside the Castro brothers, Mayor Julian and congressman Joaquin, she’s one of the best reasons why Texas will turn blue in our lifetimes.

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Mainstream Media MIA for Texas Abortion Bill Filibuster

From Truth Out:

By Martha Sorren
Wednesday, 26 June 2013

On Tuesday night, 180,000 people tuned in to watch Wendy Davis’ filibuster on Senate Bill 5 in Texas. The bill proposed closing all but five abortion clinics in Texas, including all of those in the poorest, most rural regions, and would have banned abortions after 20 weeks.

It was an issue that affected thousands in Texas, and more, across the nation, as women’s reproductive rights continue to be debated. So it wasn’t surprising that 180,000 people wanted to witness the outcome of Davis’ filibuster which began at 11:18 AM and lasted more than 11 hours.

But where did these people watch the proceedings? Not on CNN, or MSNBC or even FOX News. None of those – or any mainstream media channel – was talking about it. Instead, these people flocked to a YouTube livestream hosted by the Texas Senate.

Without a news station commentary, viewers took to popular social media sites like Twitter to create their own dialogue using the hashtag #standwithwendy. The final minute before the crucial midnight deadline resulted in 4,900 tweets a minute, which was 4,900 more tweets than from any mainstream media source.

The political jargon used on the floor could be confusing to many. Without a journalist explaining what some of the rules, regulations and terms were, many viewers became confused. In fact, confusion was so rampant that even Sen. Judith Zaffirini (D-Laredo) asked for clarification.

Fortunately, both people outside the Texas Senate building and those watching from their homes used social media to disseminate information about what was happening to help other viewers understand everything from what Robert’s Rules were to why so many parliamentary inquiries were occurring. It was truly an example of citizen journalism at its finest.

The mainstream media and their investigative journalists failed again when chaos erupted in the final minutes of the filibuster. A vote was called for and questions arose regarding when, exactly, it was taken. Some claimed it happened before the midnight deadline while others said it took place after 12 AM. It was then when Americans and those watching internationally most needed someone to step in and find the answers. But the media stayed quiet on the subject, with large media outlets such as the Associated Press preferring to report on Channing Tatum and his new baby and CNN hosting a segment on the caloric dangers of muffins.

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The Casual yet Elegantly Coiffed Rick Perry Mansplains to Senator Wendy Davis

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The personal side of taking on the NSA: emerging smears

From The Guardian UK:

Distractions about my past and personal life have emerged – an inevitable side effect for those who challenge the US government, Wednesday 26 June 2013

When I made the choice to report aggressively on top-secret NSA programs, I knew that I would inevitably be the target of all sorts of personal attacks and smears. You don’t challenge the most powerful state on earth and expect to do so without being attacked. As a superb Guardian editorial noted today: “Those who leak official information will often be denounced, prosecuted or smeared. The more serious the leak, the fiercer the pursuit and the greater the punishment.”

One of the greatest honors I’ve had in my years of writing about politics is the opportunity to work with and befriend my long-time political hero, Daniel Ellsberg. I never quite understood why the Nixon administration, in response to his release of the Pentagon Papers, would want to break into the office of Ellsberg’s psychoanalyst and steal his files. That always seemed like a non sequitur to me: how would disclosing Ellsberg’s most private thoughts and psychosexual assessments discredit the revelations of the Pentagon Papers?

When I asked Ellsberg about that several years ago, he explained that the state uses those tactics against anyone who dissents from or challenges it simply to distract from the revelations and personally smear the person with whatever they can find to make people uncomfortable with the disclosures.

So I’ve been fully expecting those kinds of attacks since I began my work on these NSA leaks. The recent journalist-led “debate” about whether I should be prosecuted for my reporting on these stories was precisely the sort of thing I knew was coming.

As a result, I was not particularly surprised when I received an email last night from a reporter at the New York Daily News informing me that he had been “reviewing some old lawsuits” in which I was involved – “old” as in: more than a decade ago – and that “the paper wants to do a story on this for tomorrow”. He asked that I call him right away to discuss this, apologizing for the very small window he gave me to comment.

Upon calling him, I learned that he had somehow discovered two events from my past. The first was my 2002-04 participation in a multi-member LLC that had an interest in numerous businesses, including the distribution of adult videos. I was bought out of that company by my partners roughly nine years ago.

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On Minimum Wage, Mr. President, It’s Your Sole Decision

From Common Dreams:

by Ralph Nader

Dear President Obama,

June 25th marked the 75th anniversary of the federal minimum wage law in the United States, known as the Fair Labor Standards Act. When President Franklin Delano Roosevelt signed this legislation, his vision was to ensure a “fair day’s pay for a fair day’s work” and to “end starvation wages.”

Seventy five years later, there are 3.6 million Americans working for pay at or below the federal minimum wage. More extensively, thirty million low wage workers are making less today, adjusted for inflation, than they did 45 years ago in 1968. They are working for a minimum wage that does not even reach the federal poverty line for a family of three and they cannot afford basic necessities like food, housing, transportation, and health care.

Had the minimum wage simply kept pace with inflation since 1968, it would stand at $10.70 per hour today instead of the current federal minimum wage of $7.25. In that time, the minimum wage has lost nearly one-third of its value while the prices of everything from food to housing to health care have been increasing – often at rates higher than inflation. Each year that the federal minimum wage is not increased, you and Congress are effectively telling low-wage workers that they are not worth as much as they were the year before and each of the dollars they earn gets stretched even further due to the effects of inflation.

Here’s where you can make a decisive executive decision.

Just about a month ago, federally contracted low-wage workers walked off the job and participated in some of the larger strikes the nation’s capital has seen in recent years. Despite the fact that they work indirectly for the federal government, they are still being paid poverty wages – some even explained that they were being paid below the federal minimum wage, which invites your administration’s immediate investigation! This is disgraceful; the federal government should be providing a shining example of fair and just treatment of their contractors’ workers for other employers to follow.

Your executive order to get this done would move closer to FDR’s vision of ending “starvation wages.” Your decision would set a good example for the rest of the business community to follow and provide the type of determined and persistent leadership that our country’s political class has lacked for decades. Especially if you also limit the CEO’s and other top executives’ pay for substantial federal contractors to a multiple no greater than 25 times their entry level wage. (Both famed management guru Peter Drucker and legendary investor Warren Buffett believed in this range as prudent corporate practice.)

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Forced to Work Sick? That’s Fine With Disney, Red Lobster, and Their Friends at ALEC

From Mother Jones:

The United States is one of the only industrialized nations that doesn’t mandate paid sick leave. These guys want to keep it that way.

Thu Jun. 27, 2013

Before jetting off last week for a trade mission at the Paris Air Show, Florida’s Republican Gov. Rick Scott took a moment to sign into law a bill that banned local governments from requiring employers to offer paid sick leave. The restaurant industry and Florida’s big theme parks lobbied hard for the passage of the legislation, which blocked local efforts to give low-wage workers a basic benefit that’s standard in virtually every industrialized country in the world except the United States.

The Florida law is the most recent in a series of victories by low-wage industries that, with the aid of Republican-led state legislatures, have succeeded in derailing or overriding measures providing this benefit to workers. Working behind the scenes in this campaign is a familiar foe of employee rights, the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), whose membership includes a range of major corporations and industry groups. The corporate-funded organization’s model “preemption” legislation—disallowing municipalities from enacting their own paid leave laws—have been introduced by state legislators around the country.

The paid sick leave push is the long-awaited sequel to the federal effort for passage of the Family and Medical Leave Act in the early 1990s. The law allows workers to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave after the birth of a child or to care for a sick family member without worrying about getting fired. At the forefront of the paid sick leave campaign are a host of local and national women’s groups that, with labor unions, were also at the vanguard of the FMLA fight.

Paid sick leave is a key women’s issue, since women are increasingly the primary breadwinners for many families, and still the primary caregivers for children. They “are overwhelmingly responsible for taking a kid to the doctor,” points out Vicki Shabo, the director of work and family programs at the National Partnership for Women and Families, so the inability to take paid sick leave affects them disproportionately.

The numbers are sobering: 43 percent of women employed in the private sector don’t have a single paid sick day, and more than half of all working mothers don’t have paid leave they can use to care for sick kids. The figures are even worse for women in low-wage jobs. More than 80 percent of people making less than $8.25 an hour have no sick leave, and women are overrepresented in this category.

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Mankind: Death by Corporation

From Truth Out:

By Dr Brian Moench
Wednesday, 26 June 2013

The word “corporation,” derived from the Latin corporare, means to physically embody. In his History of the Corporation, Bruce Brown notes how in the first thousand years after the fall of the Roman Empire, “the world’s most powerful corporations were all trying to embody the Christian God.” In 1534, Saint Thomas More spoke of Jesus Christ as the ultimate corporation. “He [Jesus] doth . . . incorporate all christen folke and hys owne bodye together in one corporacyon mistical.”

Needless to say, in the 21st century, corporations as creations of civilization make no pretense of embodying the Christian God. In fact, today, corporations come much closer to embodying Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein than Jesus Christ. Ironically, created by and managed by humans, corporations have become almost robotic monsters, perpetrating, even feeding off human misery, threatening every aspect of human life – the air we breathe, the water we drink and the food we eat – and even the future of mankind itself. What have these corporate Frankenstein monsters done for us lately?

At least 1,127 people have died in a collapsed garment factory in Dhaka, Bangladesh, the deadliest such accident in world history. As of this writing, the largest American clothing corporations, Gap, Walmart and Target, who are end users of these death-trap factories, are still unwilling to commit to any safety improvements. Fifteen people were killed and over 200 injured in West, Texas, from an explosion at a fertilizer plant. Despite the deaths of 26 people at Sandy Hook Elementary school, no meaningful legislation to subdue ongoing gun slaughter in the United States will get passed.

All of these recent tragic headlines have a common denominator. Corporate profits were, and are, allowed primacy over all other considerations. Even Wayne LaPierre’s foaming-at-the-mouth speech about freedom, liberty and second amendment rights is a smokescreen for ginning up profits for gun manufacturers, because American gun owners are on a steady, 30-year decline. The death certificate of all these victims – at Dhaka, West and Sandy Hook – should read, “Death by corporation.”

But rummaging over the current and historical larger-scale threats to entire societies, countries and mankind in general, we see a grotesque, recurrent theme – corporations willing to kill, maim and destroy even their own creators in the name of profit.

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David Letterman – Environmental Activist, Tim DeChristopher

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Obama Climate Change Agenda May Face States’ Resistance

If one had any doubt that Republi-Nazis have shit for brains and really want to bring on the end of the world then this should erase all doubts.

Perhaps being a Republican or a conservative merits its own category in the DSM the way being a religious fanatic obviously does.

From Huffington Post:


WASHINGTON–President Barack Obama’s new push against climate change may resistance from Republican-led state governments.

Obama on Tuesday announced his long-term climate change plan that will include regulations on coal-fired power plants.

Some states are likely to resist — a continuation of long-running fight between Obama and Republican governors, state legislatures and attorneys general on a variety of issues.

“In some of these states, there’s just going to be a sort of reflexive, anti-Obama response,” Sean Kelly, a political science professor at California State University Channel Islands told The Huffington Post. “They’ll go to court. Some attorney general will see an opportunity.”

Still, Kelly said Environmental Protection Agency regulations on power plant emissions probably will be difficult for states to obstruct because of a Supreme Court ruling that gave the executive branch a mandate to enforce the Clean Air Act.

Some state attorneys general have already weighed in on the climate fight. Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt signed onto a legal brief urging the Supreme Court to take up a case that challenges existing EPA greenhouse gas regulations. Other attorneys general, including Scott Pruitt from Oklahoma, have asked the federal government to grant states more authority to regulate natural gas drilling, or fracking. Texas’ attorney general Greg Abbott, has petitioned the Supreme Court to take up his federal lawsuit challenging EPA’s authority to regulate pollution.

In states with large coal mining industries, the proposals have proven controversial as well. West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey (R) Obama’s proposals will plunge his state into “an abyss of poverty.” Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett (R) the plan a “war on jobs.”

“People are rejecting science,” said Wisconsin state Rep. Fred Clark (D-Baraboo). “Just two weeks ago, I got a book in the mail, along with every other (state) legislator, funded by the Heartland Institute that basically tries to debunk the notion of climate change and claim that it’s just part of a natural cycle.” The Heartland Institute, a conservative think tank partly funded by oil and tobacco companies, denies global warming and the health effects of secondhand cigarette smoke.

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Mass Protest, Not A Speech, Is Needed To Address Climate Change

From Climate Story Tellers:

By Chris Williams
June 27, 2013

Before we get teary eyed with joy or scoff with derision, we should take a closer look at President Obama’s June 25 speech on climate change, and set it within the context of his five years in power. This is a position he himself argued for during his speech when he said that we need to “be more concerned with the judgment of posterity” than short–term political considerations.

So is Obama, in the words of World Resource Institute President Andrew Steer, really “resetting the climate agenda” and can we honestly say that “it’s a wonderful thing to see that he is really reclaiming this issue”?

While many other environmentalists, including Bill McKibben of, are fervently hoping that this is true, history and facts demonstrate otherwise. Obama’s dismal domestic and international track record on environmental issues—it was, after all, he who was the lead protagonist in wrecking the international climate talks in Copenhagen in 2009—and his commitment to U.S. imperial power as a representative of American corporate interests surely point toward the need for a greater and more thoroughgoing critique than a character assessment of the man himself allows for.

Furthermore, it’s hard to take someone seriously when that person has presided over the biggest expansion of the security state in U.S. history and relentlessly pursued government whistleblowers with unprecedented ferocity, when they say simultaneously in a climate speech that they are directing the EPA to generate new standards for the regulation of existing power plants in “an open and transparent way.”

With a more systematic, broader analytical framework, unimpeded by misty visions of an Obama rebirth as a climate champion, one immediately recognizes the inadequacy of his Action Plan On Climate Change to keep the planet below the critical threshold of 2 degrees Celsius of average warming.

This needs to be acknowledged, even as we welcome the fact that—after a five–year hiatus, including a re–election campaign where he never even mentioned climate change—Obama has been forced to re–engage with the central issue of our time by the power of grassroots protest, even to the extent of referencing the divestment movement and the fight against the Keystone XL pipeline.

Rather than celebrating Obama’s renewed “commitment” to environmental action, we should recognize it for what it is: After five years of doing all he can to promote fossil fuel production, it’s the first, timid, grudging response of the U.S. state to the growing environmental movement against Obama and all that he represents: the economic, political and military priorities of U.S. imperial power.

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A Sustainable Energy Future is Within Our Grasp

From International Rivers:

By: Susanne Wong and Peter Bosshard
Tue, 06/25/2013

The staggering growth in renewable energy has the potential to fundamentally change the way we generate and use power. Previously dismissed as marginal technologies, renewables have become “increasingly mainstream and competitive with conventional energy sources.” This is the conclusion of a new report on the global status of renewable energies by the REN21 Network.

The new report finds that investment in renewable power (not including large hydropower projects) and fuels reached $244 billion last year. If only net investments (in projects which add rather than replace generating capacity) are considered, global investment in renewables surpassed investment in fossil fuels for the third year in a row.

Renewable energy technologies have also overtaken large hydropower projects as a source of new power generating capacity. In 2012, a whopping 45 gigawatts (GW) of new wind power plants came online. Solar power added 30 GW – on par with large hydropower – and has now surpassed the milestone of 100 GW.

The REN21 report finds that renewable energies can make up a much higher share of electricity systems than was previously thought possible. In 2011, over 40% of Denmark’s electricity came from renewables, primarily wind and biomass. The country recently announced plans to source 100% of its energy needs from renewables by 2050.

The report finds that “renewables can reduce electricity prices considerably and thus alleviate energy costs for consumers.” According to financial experts, these technologies are “coming to be seen as among the lowest-risk investments.” Finally, renewable energy is creating a lot of jobs. In 2012, the sector directly or indirectly employed an estimated 5.7 million people around the world.

Renewable energy plants are not only cleaner than large dams and thermal power plants; they are also more effective in improving energy access for the rural poor. While investment in industrialized countries actually dropped in 2012, investment in developing countries expanded rapidly. Already, the REN21 network finds, renewables “have proven to be both reliable and affordable means for achieving access to modern energy services. And they are only growing more so as technological advances and rapidly falling prices (particularly for solar PV and wind power) enable renewables to spread to new markets.”

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