Sober and Responsible Public Leadership: Is It Too Much to Ask?

By Peter Laarman

Hard times should, and sometimes do, bring out the best in us: shared sacrifice, creative solutions, and a sense that we’re all in this together. It’s very clear that people in our state and across the nation crave that kind of leadership as they struggle with the worst job market in memory, falling home prices, and even the very grave question of whether they can provide a leg up for their own children.

But it now seems like expecting a certain subset of our political leaders to act soberly and responsibly has become a fading dream. Instead of real leadership, this group gives us reckless and irresponsible politics driven by a hard-right ideology. In Washington, this group has been ready to shut the entire federal government down unless it gets very specific cuts in programs it doesn’t like: environmental protection, women’s health, etc.

Church and State: How Bad Religion Gets It Wrong on Government

By Rev. Peter Laarman
Progressive Christians Uniting

Competent journalist friends of mine have been doing good reporting lately on the unholy intersections between conservative religion and conservative political ideology within Tea Party and Republican circles. Whereas lazy corporate media types tried to convince us that the Tea Party marks a break with Religious Right dominance inside the GOP, it was always obvious to serious observers that an anti-tax gospel has been a major feature of Religious Right teaching for decades. And thus it was equally obvious that the smarmy Ralph Reeds of this world would surely find their place in any new Grand Coalition of anti-government activists.

Senate Dems Pass, Ashburn Opposes, Uganda Condemnation SR 51

By Dan Aiello
California Progress Report

In the last hours of the legislative session, Sen. Mark Leno (D-SF) successfully shepherded a resolution condemning the government of Uganda for the African nation's escalating persecution of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people after finding the 21 floor votes needed to pass the measure. 

Conservative Republican Senator Roy Ashburn, who recently admitted he was gay, voted against the resolution.

A similar House Resolution authored by Assemblymember Tom Ammiano (D-SF) was scheduled for a vote when the legislature reconvenes for the budget. Both Uganda resolutions are part of a package of 14 bills sponsored by Equality California this year.

No Surprise So Many Think Obama’s Muslim

By Earl Ofari Hutchinson
New America Media

No president has ever had more pejorative labels slapped on him than Barack Obama. He’s been branded a Bolshevik, socialist, Nazi (go figure), an anarchist, leftist, an alien, and of course, un-American.

So it’s no surprise that so many Americans think Obama is a Muslim. This week, a new Pew Research Center poll found a big increase in the number of Republicans who believe this lie. Even a growing number of Democrats and independents think that the president is a Muslim, or at least, not a Christian.

For nation's LGBT, Obama's quiet snub of Scouts a reminder struggle for equality far from over

By Dan Aiello
California Progress Report

President Barack Obama, citing "scheduling conflict," will not attend the taxpayer-funded Boy Scouts of America Jamboree in Virginia today, an absence which drew criticism from conservative news media for what they described as the "political decision" not to attend the anti-gay, anti-atheist group's publicly-funded 100th annual gathering.   

An equal rights activist, however, belittled Obama's absence from the 45,000 scouts-attended Jamboree as, "a victory for scheduling conflicts." 

If Argentina Can, So Can We!

By Jorge Amaro
Equality California

A historical dawn!” exclaimed a Canal 5 Noticias news anchor upon receiving the final count of Argentina’s Senate vote that would grant marriage rights to same-sex couples. It was 4:06 AM in Buenos Aires when legislators voted by a slim majority (33-27) to approve the measure. Previously passed by the lower house, the bill encountered its last major hurdle before heading to the President’s desk.

Outside in the streets, the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community cried and cheered in celebration after anxiously waiting 14 hours in the frigid cold for the heated debate to end.

2010 Sees Return of Conservative Exploitation of LGBT, Minority Groups

By Dan Aiello
California Progress Report

In Hawaii, the state where Mormon and Catholic leaders first organized to fight "Homosexual Lesbian Marriage" after polling found the public had little innate opposition to same-sex marriage, Republican Governor Linda Lingle last week vetoed a bill approved by the state legislature in April that would have legalized civil unions in the Aloha state.

“After carefully reviewing each of these bills and weighing the considerable amount of input that we received from the public, I made the decision to not allow these measures to become law,” read the Lingle veto statement.

“Although the legislature passed bills they believe are important, I have the final responsibility to ensure that any new law is constitutional, fiscally responsible and in the best interest of the state,” Lingle stated.  

To This Partisan Irish Catholic, More Change We Can Believe In

mary_lyon.gif By Mary Lyon

Watching the pageantry accompanying the passing of Senator Ted Kennedy was striking, touching something way deeper in my heart than I expected.

Mea culpa !

Clint-HeadShot.gifBy Clint Reilly

Mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa are the key words of remorse in the Act of Contrition - the Christian rite of asking God and one’s fellow human beings for forgiveness of sins.

But one class of sinners seems to have dropped the need for priest and confessional.

The voting public can expect more public mea culpas from an adulterous politician than wiped out investors will ever receive from Bernie Madoff.

The press conference of South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford – complete with choreographed apology – might have been a Saturday Night Live opening skit. The tearful disclosure, the excruciatingly detailed description of how his affair evolved, and the tortured explanation of his disappearance cried out for Will Farrell or Darrell Hammond.

Pushing Back Against Catholic Orthodoxy

Clint-HeadShot.gifBy Clint Reilly

Graduation day at most American universities usually isn’t the occasion for a debate about abortion.

But don’t tell that to the tiny minority of Catholic bishops who decried Notre Dame’s invitation to President Obama to deliver the university’s commencement address last month.
In the end, their protests backfired.

Obama’s eloquent plea for common ground in the abortion debate drowned out the polarizing demonstrations against his appearance.

Echoing the words of Notre Dame’s president, Father John Jenkins, Obama asked:
“How does each of us remain firm in our principles, and fight for what we consider right, without demonizing those with just as strongly held convictions on the other side?”

The President appealed to our shared values, noting that while we might not agree on abortion, “we can still agree that this heart-wrenching decision for any woman is not made casually; it has both moral and spiritual dimensions.”

Most important, Obama outlined concrete steps for people on both sides of the issue to take together: