Rest In Peace, First Lady Betty Ford

Rest In Peace, First Lady Betty Ford

Romney Flip-Flops on Whether Obama Made Economy “Worse”

Marriage Equality Vote Scheduled For Tonight

Lori Van Buren/Times Union

Governor Cuomo Has Committed to Signing a Same-Sex Marriage Bill. Photo: Lori Van Buren/Times Union

Update: Governor Andrew Cuomo signed the bill after the Senate passed its version. New York State will officially recognize same sex marriages.

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The Huffington Post reports that the New York State Senate will vote on a same-sex marriage bill this evening.

The New York State Assembly has repeatedly passed such a measure in previous sessions, while the State Senate has never passed the bill. If passed in several hours, New York would become one of a growing number of states to do so. Same sex marriages are now recognized in Vermont, Connecticut, Iowa, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Washington, D.C.  Governor Cuomo has signaled that he will sign the bill. Cuomo has been a vocal proponent of the bill’s passage, as was his predecessor, David Paterson.

Simply put, New York will finally address a civil rights issue of the 21st century.

The term “civil rights” is often associated with the historic struggle of African Americans  in the United States, particularly during the era when the Civil Rights Act was debated. This association is both understandable and appropriate. Simply consider our nation’s  troubled relationship with African Americans since its founding. African Americans have gone from being considered 3/5 of people, to being denied the right to vote, to being denied the right to enjoy public accommodations, among others. However, the term “civil rights” has a much broader context.

To deny same sex couple of legal benefits of marriage contradicts the principle of “equal protection” under the law. To be clear, when governments pass same-sex marriage statutes, they aren’t dictating to private churches that they must recognize same-sex marriages. Churches are free to define marriage as they see fit. This will not change. The law includes protections against forcing private churches to recognize same sex marriages. To some degree, private churches are irrelevant to the purpose of this law. This is not a “redefinition” of marriage in the context of religion, as conservatives would have you believe. It is, however, a redefinition of marriage in the context of the state government.

Passage is not guaranteed. Politics is an unpredictable business. However, New York must stand for what is right. The state must join other governments in granting equal access to legal marriage benefits, regardless of gender. Now is the time to bring about that “more perfect union.”

Gil Scott-Heron: Rest In Peace.

We lost one of great ones today. We lost Gil Scott-Heron. He was 62 years old.

I first discovered Scott-Heron when I was 16. That’s when i first heard, “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised.” I went on to listen to “The Bottle” quite often; it’s a favorite of mine. Even though Scott-Heron sang about the challenges of growing up “in the ghetto,” unfortunately, he lived those challenges throughout his life. Nevertheless, he remained one of the most prolific poets/song-writers and musicians in American (and world) history.

Most people will post “Televised.” I’ve posted  “The Bottle.” RIP, Gil.

Quote of the Day: Mitt Romney

“I like the president. He’s a nice guy. But he doesn’t have leadership experience.”

– Mitt Romney, in a Chicago campaign fundraising swing last night.

Mitt, this is not 2008. You’re a seemingly intelligent person. Politically unprincipled, but seemingly  intelligent. Therefore, tell us which candidate has more leadership experience, an incumbent President of the United States, or a man whose greatest claim to fame is the Governorship of Massachusetts?

I’m not belittling the Governorship, of course. That would be to discredit another great leader, Deval Patrick. But, since you are discounting your biggest success while in office (universal healthcare), do your two terms really count? If not, your only relevant leadership experience would be…saving the Olympics and working in banking?

Really, Mitt? As your friend George W. Bush used to say…BRING IT ON.

GOP Congressman Disrepects Elizabeth Warren

I did not tell YOU anything…You’re making this up, Ms. Warren.”

Today, Congressman Patrick Henry essentially called Elizabeth Warren a liar.

Though he only accused her of fabricating an agreement on a trivial scheduling issue, it reveals the deep seated hatred that Henry and his GOP colleagues have for Warren. They see her as an enemy of their base, business interests. Warren is the Assistant to the President, charged with setting up the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. The bureau will, among other things, ban deceptive practices and ensure financial institutions (such as banks, lenders and credit card companies) fully disclose the terms and conditions of their products.

Is Gingrich’s Presidential Campaign Finished?


Gingrich, on Sunday's "Meet the Press."

One of the biggest debates taking place in Washington is figuring out ways to balance the federal budget. Both parties agree that spending cuts are needed. However, Republicans in the House of Representatives-  led by Rep. Paul Ryan – have proposed serious cuts to Medicare, among others. Congressman Ryan’s proposal has put many Republican politicians in hot-water over the issue.

Whether he was reacting to the idea that cuts to Medicare would hurt his party, or whether he sincerely believed that cutting Medicare was a “step too far,” former House Speaker Newt Gingrich finds himself in hot-water for disagreeing with these cuts. Appearing on this past Sunday’s “Meet the Press, the former Speaker argued that Ryan’s plan to cuts represent “radical change.”

I don’t think right-wing social engineering is any more desirable than left-wing social engineering,” Gingrich responded. “I don’t think imposing radical change from the right or the left is a very good way for a free society to operate,” said Gingrich.

If enacted, Ryan’s plan would transform Medicare from a guaranteed benefit program into a “voucher” program. Instead of fully covering seniors’ health-care bills, as it does now, Ryan’s plan would simply offer subsidies toward the cost of full coverage. Many would have to cover the remaining cost, even with limited incomes. The Congressional Budget Office estimates that by 2030, senior citizens would be required to pay two-thirds of their health costs under Ryan’s plan.

Gingrich may be playing politics by disagreeing with Ryan’s proposal. In an ideal world, it would have been smart politics, considering that many voters (including those in the swing state of Florida) are senior citizens. Taking the “left” position on this issue would make him something of a “senior citizen’s populist.” Gingrich may have been encouraged to take this position because several Republican House members were attacked by constituents who do not want these cuts.

However, Gingrich miscalculated, putting his already long-shot Presidential campaign on life-support. He didn’t expect the visceral push back from the Washington press corp and mainstream GOP politicians, including South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley. Haley is seen as an important “get” in the Presidential campaign, as the Governor of one of the most important primary states on the GOP nominating calendar.

Paradoxically, Gingrich may be indirectly responsible for the whithering attacks he’s facing. As a young Congressman in the 1980s, he was part of an insurgent House Republican caucus that  demanded strict compliance with small-government conservatism. This continued throughout the 1990s, which Gingrich rocketed to the Speakership. Over two decades, GOP House members were generally loathe to break ranks and disagree with mainstream conservative policy. This has created a culture of policy and message discipline that now dogs him.

In fact, it is the discipline, both in the Congress, and among Republicans nationwide, that may have ended his Presidential campaign before it even began.