Maine Marriage Equality: No on 1 Gets Real Again

Imagine if you had to ask 275,000 people’s permission to marry. Here’s Jill Barkley from Maine demonstrating this by asking her fellow Mainers for permission to marry her girlfriend Diane and thus to Vote No on 1, which would preserve the right for all couples to marry in Maine. The statewide vote happens Tuesday.

Like the previous No one 1 commercials, the newest video uses real Mainers, including an iconic fisherman and straight couples; while Stand for Marriage Maine, the Yes on 1 campaign, had to resort to stock footage for their latest ad showing happy families representing “traditional” marriage, as Jeremy Hooper from Good As You discovered. Maybe the ad agency which put together the piece couldn’t find telegenic Mainers who believe in denying their fellow citizens their equal rights and a chance at lifetime happiness.

The Stand for Marriage Maine ad states

It’s possible to support the civil rights of all citizens and protect traditional marriage at the same time

but yet doesn’t have any citizens of Maine in it! And with regard to “protecting traditional marriage,” in 2004 the Bostson Globe reported that in the Netherlands, where same-sex marriage has been legal since 2001, some opponents to civil marriage equality

have acknowledged that in the three years since gay marriage became a reality here, the institution of marriage has not collapsed, as many religious leaders and conservative politicians warned it would.

Thus far, specialists in domestic law, legislators, and some religious commentators say there is no empirical evidence of damage to the institution. For example, divorce rates are no higher, and there is no sign that conventional couples are shunning marriage.

Dates/Locations of Note For ‘No On 1′ Events, Nov 1-3

Gonna be busy times this week! More below the fold…




Monday, November 2, 2009
12:00pm – 1:00pm
Monument Square, Portland


Join us in our stand for marriage equality for EVERYONE! This will be our FINAL push to GET OUT THE VOTE for Equality!

Jesse Connolly & Darlene Huntress along with several other guests will be speaking and adding their voices to yours in this important fight for marriage equality!

Please RSVP to

Rain Location: USM Sullivan Gym, Portland 


Late Night: You Know Who’s Just Not That into Tea-Bagging? God-Hating Gay Lesbian Vampires, That’s Who!

Glenn Reynolds says a lot of silly bullshit, but how’s this for a slice of fried wrong?

The Gay Left and Tea Party Right might even want to talk to each other; they may find they’ve got more in common than they realize.

Roy wants to know just how that détente is working out lately, with reference to certain amusing/spooky right-wing responses to the end of the HIV+ travel ban. But then the premise is so inherently goofy it would anyhow only have ever appealed to, you know, morons: the pro-torture internet libertarian set, or else the gay guys who love them. Because, like, if the tea-baggers are, as we are solemnly informed, the Right-wing Base, the Common Clay of the New American Crazy, well then! Neither they nor their Intellectual Heroes have ever been particularly lovey-dovey cuddly with the Gays, at least not in public, embarrassing representations to the contrary not-with-mother-fucking-standing.

After all, observe how the Conservative Hero at the center of the Most Crucial Key Sea-Change Political Event in the Entire Frickin’ History of the American Experiment relies on bog-standard gay-baiting culture-warrior horseshit every bit as much as he does on tired waterhead make-believe “deficits are wrong” hooey.

There’s just no question Tea-Baggery is nothing more than a bunch of idiots screaming the same old mindless slogans, or else hilariously misspelling the same old mindless slogans on hand-lettered signs. And this fundamentally involves disliking the idea of equal rights for homosexuals.

And here is where the God-Hating Lesbian Vampires come in (bet you were wondering about that from the title. My technique here is that of Building Up Dramatic Tension). Here is an NRO reviewer extravagantly praising the authors of a new vampire book for making “one of the boldest artistic choices I’ve seen in a while,” namely, making the insane arch-evil serial killer villain — get this — a sinister homosexual who does not much care for Jesus.

Because, you see, “conservatives” are all about making the country safe for that sort of shit. So hoist the tea-bags, full screed ahead. Or something.

Yanks-Phils, Game 3

Is it me, or are sportswriters determined to make Cole Hamels into a mirror image of A.J. Burnett? Read this Times piece, which centers around Hamels’ inconsistency. And sure: Hamels is inconsistent. But… so?

Look at A.J. Burnett. He’s an inconsistent pitcher. And yet for all but one inning this postseason, he’s put in excellent starts. No one really denies that he’s done so. But the storyline won’t die, because the postseason is too short for a player to prove he’s consistent. Look at Alex Rodriguez, who’s 0 for 8 in the World Series after an offensively torrid ALDS and ALCS. Are we supposed to believe he’s a choker? Or do we accept the more mundane storyline that eight at-bats are statistically insignificant?

Same goes for Hamels. Phils fans I’ve talked to over the past few days have seemed like they’re fearing the worst tonight. But Cole Hamels is a World Series MVP. No Yankee fan should view tonight as anything but a microcosm of the real storyline of the World Series: a slog for advantage between two astonishingly evenly matched teams.

I know I should post the Misfits’ “Halloween,” but in fairness to Philadelphia, this is the real Halloween/World Series soundtrack, particularly from a pro-Phils perspective. RIP Sean McCabe.

I’m not going to my epic Halloween party — hosted by my friend Matt Ficke and titled Fickeween III: Die Ficke Die — until we know who wins here.

Problems with Tasers and Arming Police with Them


Last week, Taser International spokesman Steve Tuttle revealed that the use of Tasers, which are now standard issue weapons for police officers everywhere the United States, has serious risks.

Unfortunately, Steve Tuttle wasn’t talking about the risks for those who are tasered.

Instead, he was referring to the growing concern among the makers of Tasers that the use of their products are turning their best customers into targets of controversy and public outrage.

And Taser manufactures now have an answer for the police, and the answer is: don’t aim for the chest.

You see, in an effort “to minimize controversy, increase effectiveness and provide enhanced risk management” (i.e. in order to avoid increasing public outrage over the abuse of this dangerous weapon), Taser manufacturers are now suggesting to police officers that they instead try to taser people in the back, pelvic muscles, or thigh.

Should the Taser manufacturers, who not only make the Tasers, but also provide police with the training to use them, be commended for their recent efforts at controversy-management? No.

The way I see it, controversy over arming police officers with Tasers isn’t the problem.

There are at least two problems with arming police officers with Tasers, and more public outrage – more controversy – is very much needed if these problems are to be resolved successfully.


The first and most obvious problem with arming police with Tasers is that these weapons have a history of seriously hurting people and even killing people.

Earlier this month, a seventeen-year-old boy in Florida was riding a bicycle when a police officer tried to taser him from a moving police vehicle. The boy was then run over by the police and died under the car.

The Southern Christian Leadership Conference issued the following statement:

Yet again we are seeing the use of Tasers as a compliance device, rather than protection. One cannot believe that officers are being trained to fire tasers from moving police vehicles and placing the officer and the suspect in uncontrollable situations. A young man is dead and for no apparent reason.

This problem of police misusing and/or abusively using Tasers has been evident for several years.

Amnesty International USA has recommended that police departments “either suspend the use of Tasers and stun guns pending further safety research or limit their use to situations where officers would otherwise be justified in resorting to firearms.”

Numerous examples of the misuse of Tasers are documented at Amnesty International USA’s "Taser Abuse in the United States."

According to Amnesty International USA,

Since June 2001, more than 351 individuals in the United States have died after being shocked by police Tasers. Most of those individuals were not carrying a weapon.

But the fact that Tasers can cause and have caused injury and death is only one big problem with arming police officers with these weapons.

The second problem is that arming police with Tasers has contributed to a major change in the relationship between police officers and the citizens whom they are supposed to be serving and protecting.

As the Southern Christian Leadership Conference put it in the quote above, we see again and again and again “the use of Tasers as a compliance device, rather than protection.”

Indeed, Amnesty International is also concerned

that Tasers are being used as tools of routine force – rather than as an alternative to firearms.

This second problem is as big as the first. There was a time when police were supposed to arrive at the scenes and calm situations in which citizens were often anything but calm.

Now, a student obnoxiously questions a politician during a Q&A, is held down by several police officers, and is tasered.

A great-grandmother gets emotional about getting a traffic ticket and is tasered.

A professor, standing in his own house, is confronted by a police officer, gets upset, and – no, he wasn’t tasered – was arrested because the police officer – Cambridge, Mass. police Sergeant James Crowley – is too much of a dick to understand that, as a police officer, the responsibility to calm tense situations is his and not the responsibility of a Harvard University professor or of any other citizen.

Sgt. Crowley may not have used a Taser to subdue a highly respected scholar, whose crime appears to have been getting overly emotional when police officers confronted him in his own home.

But Sgt. Crowley’s actions that day are indicative of a new law enforcement paradigm that requires citizens to fear the police, a new law enforcement paradigm that dictates that citizens must be able to calm themselves instantly in order to perfectly obey, comply with, and conform to the orders of police officers, regardless of whether or not they are posing a threat to themselves, others, or the police officers and regardless of whether or not what the police officers are telling them to do makes any sense.

Sgt. Crowley was never told by his superiors that what he did was stupid, inappropriate, and excessive.

Far from it.

In other words, even citizens who are not posing a threat to anyone must be in total control of themselves at all times and obey police officers, while the police officers in turn do not hesitate to lose control of their own emotions and even arrive at scenes only to create the very tension that leads to the use of excessive force.

Until that paradigm changes, it’s obviously a terrible idea to arm police officers with Tasers.

But even if that paradigm were to change, Tasers should be used as an alternative to firearms – i.e. thought of and used as a deadly weapon – or they should not be used at all.

Race for Ted Kennedy’s Senate Seat Ignores Issues

A new poll on the Massachusetts Senate race has state Attorney General Martha Coakley dominating the field with 37 percent support from registered Democrats and unenrolled voters, who are eligible to vote in the primary. That is more than double her nearest challenger, with 14 percent backing Boston Celtics co-owner Steve Pagliuca and 13 percent supporting Congressman Mike Capuano.

What are the stances of these candidates on issues? Amazingly, in a state where seven out of ten representatives have endorsed HR 676, the United States National Health Care Act, only one candidate out of four Democrats and one Republican supports Medicare for All, and that’s Mike Capuano. Even his support is not the most avid, since he doesn’t talk about it very often and has sometimes qualified it with "if I were emperor." But support is still support, and he’s an HR 676 cosponsor.

In contrast, Martha Coakley supports a plan that is quite different: the so-called "strong public option," no doubt meaning the version that the CBO estimated in July would cover only about 10 million people after it was implemented. In the recent white paper released by her campaign, she says:

I agree with the basic elements in bills pending before Congress to achieve this goal: a mandate that individuals obtain coverage; an expansion of Medicaid coverage for the poorest people; new subsidies for those who are not eligible for Medicaid yet cannot afford the full cost of insurance; and employer shared responsibility to help extend coverage to all.

Quite simply, Coakley supports the current flawed legislation in Congress. Her only major caveat to this is not a caveat at all:

We cannot allow insurers to deny coverage based on pre-existing conditions or by making false marketing promises.

I would agree, but that’s part of the current bill.

As Attorney General, I have stood up to unfair and deceptive conduct by insurers

This is the typical line from Coakley. I’m for the status quo, but I’m for it better because I’ve fought before with some companies engaging in outright fraud. Woo hoo!

This election provides a lesson in how the concentrated power of a statewide political apparatus can completely trump issues even in the most Democratic state in the country. The official platform of the Democratic Party in Massachusetts is support for single payer health care, but you would never know that from this campaign. Coakley began planning her campaign very early, well before Ted Kennedy actually passed away, and because of her position in a statewide office had the connections and name recognition to quickly rack up all the key endorsements. Consequently she was also able to amass considerably more funding than Capuano was. And it certainly also didn’t hurt that Obama invited her to the White House three weeks ago.

One area where Coakley has not led is union endorsements: as would seem logical, Capuano has the lead here. But this is apparently not affecting the election much. (That Ted Kennedy’s nephew has endorsed Capuano and questioned Coakley’s "ambition" is another seemingly forgotten fact.)

Another strange feature of this campaign is the role of gender. While Coakley denies that her gender is the reason people should vote for her, she does acknowledge that it is "a plus." Coakley seems to be perceived as better on social issues than Capuano is, but examining their positions, they’re hardly distinguishable. Both are strongly pro-choice, for gay marriage, and support repealing DOMA.

In summary, I think we should try to help Mike Capuano get elected to Ted Kennedy’s former seat. This is a very important election; whoever wins may stay in the office for life. Please consider donating to Capuano’s campaign: I gave him $25 last month, and the time is swiftly drawing to a close when he can ever become a viable candidate. If you can, you might even want to volunteer. This is a very short race, with the primary being not much more than a month away. There is no time to lose.

Liberals Need a 12 Step Program – We Ask Taibbi What We Should Do Next

Matt Taibbi from his blogOkay, people, time to get in a 12 step program. We have been enabling these corporate Democrats in their addiction to money for way too long.

Matt Taibbi in his 2005 book “Spanking the Donkey” identified Dems back then as “money junkies”. They are addicted to corporate cash and the power buzz it gives them. They love all the calculation to get all that money. They ask us to trust them just one more time and give them our votes.

They spout gibberish on the TV to the bloviators of blather. The Fat Cat News spills out drivel by having on professors like Tom Schaller who was on Dylan Ratigan’s show this morning babbling about Democrats being the party of change and Republicans being the party of status quo. Really? What do you call the changes Bush made in tax cuts for the uber rich, wiretapping, torture, war, rape of the environment, shoveling of money to the banks with no oversight, etc? What do you call the changes Bill Clinton made in deregulating the media and the banks and NAFTA and the WTO? Same deal. They both made radical changes in keeping the status quo Milton Friedman free market flim flam chugging along and pillaging the people’s piggy banks. And now the Shock Doctrine is in full swing under the new same old regime.
Phrases like “status quo” and “change” have no meaning anymore. We are beyond Orwell. (more…)