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8:22 pm EST 38°F (3°C) in North Salt Lake, UT
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This is absolutely amazing. The outside temperature has been exactly the same — 38°F or 3°C — at the time I have made each of my last three updates. Yes, I have checked it every time, so I’m not just being lazy or making anything up.
It’s time for a post-mortem of sorts to the election held this past Tuesday. As you have no doubt heard by now, Democrats have succeeded in taking over both houses of Congress. Although results in some House races still aren’t all the way in, the Democrats will have what amounts to a 51-49 advantage in the Senate (technically 49-49-2, with both independents caucusing with the Democrats), and they will have roughly the same House majority the Rethuglicans have held for the last two years — 230-ish to 205-ish. Among the key Rethuglican losses were some of the craziest Christofascist terrorists in the country: Little Ricky Satan-torum (PA Senate), Asa Hutchinson (AR Governor), and Ken “Homosexuality Defies Barnyard Logic” Blackwell (OH Governor).
In my state of Michigan, nothing really changed. We re-elected Jennifer Granholm, spineless milquetoast that she is, to the governor’s mansion, and sent incumbent Democratic Sen. Debbie Stabenow back to Washington. Our 15 seats in the U.S. House are still split 9-6 in favor of Rethuglicans (no change), although one seat did change hands; Tim Walberg, who had defeated moderate Rethuglican incumbent Joe Schwarz in the primary in August, also won the general election to represent the 7th District. We had five statewide ballot measures to consider; we appear to have approved a measure directing all conservation-related user fees back into environmental uses, banned affirmative action in any facet of state government and administration, restored a ban on mourning dove hunting, put severe restrictions on the use of eminent domain, and rejected an absolute floor on higher-education spending.
Of course, for gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender Americans, it was yet another day of bashing at the ballot box. Seven more states (Colorado, Idaho, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Virginia, and Wisconsin) have approved fag-bashing amendments to their state constitutions, bringing the total number of such states that deem us three-fifths of a citizen to 27. Additionally, we lost on a Colorado initiative that would have established domestic partnerships. However, in excellent news, we have defeated the Christofascist terrorists who wanted to legislate us out of existence in Arizona, with 51% voting against bashing gays in that state’s constitution. Furthermore, in a somewhat positive sign for the more distant future, we are at least starting to make inroads in places where people actually have brains; this time, only three of the eight states, rather than nine of 11 as in 2004, gave their fag-bashing amendments more than 60% support.
The South proved that so-called “fundamentalist ‘Christianity’” causes incurable brain rot, what with the 80% support in Tennessee and 78% in South Carolina. Idaho, which is dominated by the Church Against Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Satan Worshippers and its Mor_ons, gave its amendment 63% support. The Wisconsin fag-bashing amendment was the only other one to gain more support than the Christofascists’ previous worst showing (57% in Oregon in 2004), passing with 59% in favor. The less ignorant people of Colorado, northern Virginia, and (surprisingly) South Dakota still decided to bash them thar homer-sec-shur-als, but with less than 55% in favor of such anti-Christian, anti-American treatment.
If there is one other positive sign for us three-fifths-citizens as we go forward, it is that the so-called “fundamentalist ‘Christians’” have now picked basically all of the low-hanging fruit when it comes to state fag-bashing amendments. Of the 23 states that lack such an amendment, 12 of them are in the Northeast alone — every state northeast of, and including, West Virginia, Maryland, and Delaware does not have one. Another four are along an “L”-shaped line through the upper Midwest: Minnesota, Iowa, Illinois, and Indiana. Two Southern states, Florida and North Carolina, somehow still haven’t bashed us in their constitutions — and thankfully, these are going to be the two hardest nuts for the so-called “fundamentalists” in the South to crack, as Florida has a huge gay population, and North Carolina has both (a) a tradition of being the least socially backward Southern state and (b) Democrats in firm control of Raleigh.
The desert Southwest, while not a paradise for GLBT Americans, doesn’t constitutionally bash us either; California, Arizona (with Tuesday’s victory for our side), and New Mexico keep their constitutions out of our bedrooms. Washington and Wyoming are the only other states west of the Plains that do not constitutionally deny us our civil rights, although both states do so legislatively. Realistically, there may only be about four more states where so-called “fundamentalist ‘Christians’” stand much of a chance of writing us out of state constitutions: Florida, Indiana, Massachusetts, and Pennsylvania.
Activist judges in Florida overrode the will of the people and put a gay-bashing amendment on the 2008 ballot by judicial fiat, meaning we must turn out in two years to defeat it. In Indiana, the Legislature simply must vote again next year in favor of putting an amendment on the 2008 ballot, and in the Rethuglican-dominated Hoosier State, that’s as good as done. National “fundamentalist ‘Christian’” groups are going to keep pouring money and attention into Massachusetts until they get something to go their way, although I think even they would have to admit, after today’s vote to more or less kill the proposed citizen initiative there, that that battle is becoming more and more uphill every day. As for Pennsylvania, it is essentially a “red” state culturally, despite its tendency to vote for Democratic presidential candidates; if “fundamentalist ‘Christians’” can succeed anywhere in the Northeast, it is in the Keystone State.
If there is one lesson from what happened on Tuesday, it is that Americans are finally starting to wake up and reject the Christofascist terrorist agenda in appreciable numbers. As proven with the seven fag-bashing amendments they got passed, though, we still have a long, long way to go to completely defeat their Satan-inspired agenda; but we are starting to make progress. The removal from office of some of the most insane, Satan-loving Christofascist terrorists, and the defeat of their pet abortion ban in South Dakota, are a start that we must build on for future election cycles.
It should be remembered that this six-seat gain in, and resulting takeover of, the Senate occurred in the most difficult (for the Democrats) of the three senatorial election classes. The 33 incumbent Senators who faced re-election or were retiring this past Tuesday broke down 17-15-1 in favor of the Democrats, with several of those Democrats defending seats in “red” states and only a few Rethuglicans defending seats in “blue” states. The fact that the Democrats did so well in such a difficult cycle can only bode extremely well for 2008, when a whopping 21 of the 33 Senators up for re-election or retirement will be Rethuglicans; a few of these, such as Gordon Smith (Oregon), Christofascist terrorist Wayne Allard (Colorado), and Norm Coleman (Minnesota), may be particularly vulnerable. (For what it's worth, the 2010 Senate re-election class breaks down more evenly, with 19 Rethuglicans and 15 Democrats.)
Don’t be fooled into thinking that Democratic control of Congress will be a panacea, my friends. This Congress has a lot of work to do to prove itself worthy of our continued electoral support in 2008 and beyond. King Chimpy’s tax cuts for the über-rich must be repealed, and in fact, those making $200,000 per year or less should receive significant tax relief themselves, while those above that threshold take it on the chin. The illegal occupation of Iraq must be ended. Chimpy’s kangaroo courts at Guantánamo must be shut down; his torture must be stopped; and habeas corpus must be fully restored. A fair solution to the illegal immigration crisis must be implemented — I suggest fencing the Mexican border off and offering those already here illegally a choice to either become U.S. citizens by a certain deadline or go home. Along this same line, fines of $1 million per offense must be levied against employers who hire illegal workers.
The Employment Non-Discrimination Act (which would ban anti-gay discrimination in employment, housing, public accommodation, etc.), Permanent Partners Immigration Act (which would allow Americans with foreign same-sex partners to sponsor their partners for immigration to the U.S., a special right heteros currently enjoy without question), and Military Readiness Enhancement Act (which would end “don’t ask, don’t tell” and allow GLBT Americans to serve our country openly) must be passed immediately. Something needs to be done at the federal level to provide same-sex couples with the same rights and protections as married heteros, whether this be marriage or some sort of a “federal civil union” concept. A woman’s unalienable right to control her reproductive destiny must be rescued from the brink of extinction to which Reich-wing ideologues have brought it, and restored to the pantheon of freedom where it belongs.
The so-called “free trade” agreements like NAFTA and CAFTA that have done nothing but gut the American middle class must be at least re-evaluated and seriously modified, if not scrapped entirely. Severe penalties for companies who move their operations offshore to evade American taxes must be implemented, and high re-importation tariffs must be imposed on products made by American companies that outsource their production to other countries. Finally, the Fairness Doctrine must be restored at least for television, so that Americans can see both sides of every issue, rather than simply being fed the Reich-wing corporate conservative media line offered up by the likes of FAUX News.
OK, I’ve got to put this up and get to bed. Another load awaits in the morning, or maybe the afternoon for all I know.