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Bush Calls for All-Out Cultural War. No One Shows Up.













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I'll just never know when a story has legs.  The Bush endorsement of an amendment to the constitution to ban gay marriages hit the news early this week and caused all sorts of sound and fury, but it's old news now.  Or may soon be.

As Markos Moulitsas Z˙niga at the "daily kos" website sums up:

This amendment is dead.  The votes aren't there in the Senate.  They aren't there in the House.  The cable news networks were handing the Hate Amendment's Republican backers their asses on a platter....

Legislatively this issue isn't going anywhere.  And while we all want to discuss this issue right now, I can guarantee we'll be talking about something else in two weeks.  We're going to move on, and so is the country. 

Sure, Bush will talk about it in his speeches, to which Democrats should ask, "Well, why aren't the two Republican controlled chambers of Congress introducing the amendment?"

... Civil unions are a given, the battle is now over nomenclature.  And it's a battle I am more than happy to cede at this time.  But calls for a Constitutional Amendment are a whole different matter. 

... Just don't seek to enshrine discrimination, of any kind, in the Constitution. 

As of Thursday, forty-one senators now oppose the amendment idea - and even if a few change their minds, that's it.  Two thirds would have to approve it.  If forty-one of the one hundred senators now say this is a monumentally stupid idea, well, perhaps Bush can say something like... "Just kidding?"

Of course, since the amendment would require a two-thirds vote in both houses of Congress all Bush can do now is pressure the states to call a constitutional convention on banning gay marriage.  Will he?  Perhaps.  Will most of the states say yes, let's take a break from worrying about budgets and jobs and have a big convention in, say, Dallas or Peoria?  Unlikely. 

And the celebrity wedding this was Rosie O'Donnell marrying her female companion is San Francisco.  The mayor of Chicago and Washington, DC say their cities may follow the lead of San Francisco, and there were similar same-sex weddings in upstate New York (
New Paltz) and in New Mexico (those were just annulled).  This all is moving fast and becoming a non-issue.  Can Bush put his finger in the dyke? (Sorry, I heard that on Bill Mahers show.)

After Bush's "I want an amendment" announcement Tuesday, House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, the Republican former pest control technician from Texas, said it would "take time to gauge the level of support" in Congress for such a constitutional amendment.  He suggested the difficulty of passing one may cause lawmakers to take a different approach to preserving marriage as a solely man-woman union.  "We don't want to do this in haste," as the man said. 

Well, it didn't take that much time.  And this guy is the archest of arch-conservatives.  Sorry, George. 

Republican congressman David Dreier from out here, and a co-chairman of Bush's campaign in California in 2000, said he doesn't support a constitutional amendment.  "I believe that this should go through the courts, and I think that we're at a point where it's not necessary," he said. 

Damn.  And John McCain, the Arizona ex-prisoner-of-war Republican, said the matter should be left to the states, and then the usually far-right congressman also for out here, Jerry Lewis (not the movie guy once loved by the French), said changing the Constitution should be a last resort on almost any issue. 

Add to that the Log Cabin Republicans, that gay Republican group, saying they're worried that Bush risks alienating the one million gays and lesbians who voted for him in 2000 by pushing for the constitutional amendment.  Mark Mead, the political director of this group, said in an interview with Associated Press Radio, "We believe that this is a move to start a culture war, fueled and pushed by the radical right, that will end up in George Bush's defeat, and defeat for a lot of good Republicans who are with us on equality."

Hey George!  What if you called for a war and nobody showed up? 

Margaret Cho did get off a good paragraph before we all realized this amendment wasn't really an issue:

 

If you are not gay, it is still your issue, because if we are to lose this battle, who will be there to defend your rights?  If the government is allowed to take freedoms away from a certain group of people, then how much longer will it be until they come for you?  We are a much more formidable opponent than anyone would have known.  We've never had a chance to grab the brass wedding ring, the symbol of equality, the real civil union - not between us in place of marriage - but the union we have with the rest of the citizens of this nation.  How strong is your grip?

 

Good one.  But we actually do know enough to be decent to each other, usually. 

Heck, even in Georgia, where the superintendent of schools wanted to forbid teachers from ever speaking the word "evolution" aloud, and suggested we should make sure the word didn't ever appear in the textbooks anywhere in the state, this is a dead issue.  Late Wednesday the Georgia House rejected a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage - a surprise.  Everyone thought the same-sex marriage question was almost certain to go to Georgia voters this fall.  Guess not. 

There are, actually, a few other issues - like forty-one million folks without health insurance, and a thirty million or more in this country living in poverty, by our own government's standards.  And new applications for unemployment benefits rose again this week, surprising everyone, again.  We lost nearly three million jobs in the last three years and there are likely more than nine million out of work, counting in those who just gave up looking. 

And there is this:

Number of Mass Layoffs Rose Sharply in January
2,400 Employers Let Go 50 or More
Kirstin Downey, The Washington Post, Thursday, February 26, 2004; Page E02

 

More than 2,400 employers across the country reported laying off 50 or more workers in January, the third-highest number of so-called mass layoffs since the government became tracking them a decade ago. 

Only in December 2000 and December 2002 were the number of large layoffs higher.  A total of 239,454 workers lost their jobs in the January layoffs, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported yesterday, based on unemployment insurance claims filed with state employment agencies.  Among them were 17,544 temporary workers. 

The total jobs lost in January was the most since November 2002, when 240,171 workers were let go in groups of 50 or more.  Manufacturing workers, particularly in transportation, food processing and retail jobs, were hardest hit.  The large layoffs also included 10,876 government workers, most at the state and local levels. 

...The administration tried in late 2002 to cease publication of the mass layoff report, citing its cost.  But Congress restored funding after state officials complained. 

California, the most populous state, had the most mass layoffs, 576, according to the BLS data.  This was followed by 194 in New York, 171 in Michigan and 167 in Pennsylvania.  In Virginia, 24 employers laid off 50 or more workers, affecting 3,061 jobs.  In Maryland, 19 employers did so, with 2,009 jobs lost.

 

Yep, Bush says things are getting better.  So let's turn our attention to the awful gay people who want to get married?  Really?

Add to this the whole world knows we went to war telling everyone Iraq was a danger and the UN weapons inspectors were fools - and got proved wrong.  And 549 of our soldiers are dead there so far.  And Pakistan has been selling nukes to anyone with cash, and we forgive them.  And don't mind that they produce seventy percent of the world's heroin.  And yes, we still don't much want to talk with North Korea who says they do have nukes and could use them on us.  Haiti is disintegrating and we're doing nothing much - and this week we turned away two large ships full of people trying to get the hell out of there.  Sent all two or three hundred back - as they're not Cubans, damn it!  We called it "repatriation."  And we just lifted travel restrictions on Libya so our multinational corporations can go back in and wheel and deal, and this week tightened travel restrictions on Cuba so no one much can even visit there. 

Add to that the usual - there still are terrorists and some other folks in this world who want us real dead.  We need to think about that.  On the other hand the Speaker of House just this week blocked the 9-11 Commission from getting any more time to investigate what happened more than two years ago - so no one will be embarrassed.  (He changed his mind when folks got a bit outraged.)  And so on and so forth. 

Then there are issues with education - state after state is pulling out of Bush's "No Child Left Behind" program.  The funding never came through.  Just like the money we said we'd spend on AIDS problems in Africa.  Never got around to funding that either.  But they were good IDEAS!

As for this constitutional amendment idea to keep the perverse gay folks in line, well, maybe later.  But probably not. 

 

This amendment was DOA - we don't have time for that particular cultural war.

 

Yes, the right will fulminate for a few more weeks about this.  Fine.  Let them. 

 

But folks want jobs, and affordable health care, and good schools for their kids, and relief from endless debt, and clean air and water.   They're not stupid.  Annulling Rosie O'Donnell's marriage is not a top priority.  Tell us it is and we'll think you're batty.