Asheville Reverend Takes a Moral Stand for Equality

You may have read this week about Joe Hoffman, the Asheville pastor who took a stand for equality under the law when he decided to refrain from legalizing heterosexual marriages while the law discriminates against gays and lesbians. Joe's spouse, Noel Nickle, was kind enough to send a copy of Sunday's sermon on this topic along with a list of other resources on marriage equality. (You can email Noel to learn more about their work in Asheville for marriage equality.)

I had planed to excerpt the sermon, but after reading it I have decided to print the whole thing. I realize that I'm asking for a few more minutes of attention than blog posts usually get, but I feel sure that it will be time well spent. Joe makes his case clearly and eloquently, and his example will serve us well as we strugle to rescue the rhetoric of morality from the dominion of the right.

Bush, The Puppet President

The Associated Press

has a story out that confirms what many of us have suspected for some time now. President Bush is not in control of his White House and has divorced himself from the responsibility of running this country.

President Bush was unaware of the pending sale of shipping operations at six major U.S. seaports to a state-owned business in the United Arab Emirates until the deal already had been approved by his administration, the White House said Wednesday. Defending the deal anew, the administration also said that it should have briefed Congress sooner about the transaction, which has triggered a major political backlash among both Republicans and Democrats.

Sue Said a Swear!

I think maybe Sue Myrick has been reading BlueNC, where we've criticized her for being so far up a certain President's fundament that he needs a special chair cushion. Today the North Carolina Conservative publishes what purports to be a letter from Sue to the President. The entire body of the letter is:

In regards to selling American ports to the United Arab Emirates, not just NO-but HELL NO!

If this is for real, it's just plain silly. There's no analysis here, and there's no reason for her position. I don't quibble with her bottom line, but it's hard for me to see it as more than a campaign tool. Saying that you have a backbone is not the same as having one.

Stunning stupidity

I try not to read the N&O editorial pages too often because they're filled so much stupidity they make my head hurt. Case in point: Rick Martinez' inane column on co-habitation.

Debora Lynn Hobbs wants the State of North Carolina out of her personal life. She thinks her living arrangement is none of the government's business. It shouldn't be too long before she gets to argue her case, once Hobbs v. Pender County gets a court date. Hobbs and the North Carolina chapter of the ACLU have sued the county for the express purpose of getting the state's 200-year-old anti-cohabitation law declared unconstitutional.

Republican Candidates Not Sure Where They Live

NCGOP infighting is like chocolate: enjoying it as much as I do is surely wrong, but it feels so right. The Jacksonville Daily News offers up this amusing article about Republicans challenging other Republicans' residency regarding house races.

[District 14 challenger and Republican Keith] Williams, who wasn’t aware his residency was challenged until he was contacted by The Daily News, said he has lived at 653 Parkertown Road since January 2004, although he is only there on the weekends.

Progressive Legislative Action Network (PLAN) Lives!

Anglico was philosophizing today about the importance of state authority in the progressive worldview. It's a timely question, because today marks the public launch of the Progressive Legislative Action Network (at progressivestates.org). "The mission of the Progressive Legislative Action Network (PLAN) is to pass progressive legislation in all fifty states by providing coordinated research and strategic advocacy tools to forward-thinking state legislators."

This is huge. The right has had in place for years the structure to bring their agenda to the states, and it's about time that the left got it together in this department. PLAN is well positioned to midwife this development. Their board of directors features a few names names that will be familiar to many lefties (John Podesta anyone?), and the staff roster displays a strong connection to blogs and the internet grasroots (Wes Boyd of MoveOn.org and Dave Sirota of sirotablog and the Center for American Progress are both on the board, and Matt Singer of Left in the West is the Communications Director). PLAN is reaching out to bloggers both by setting up a network for communicating with bloggers and by taking the first step of contacting them directly. Hopefully the future will see PLAN providing information and viewpoints that will be useful for bloggers at BlueNC, and BlueNC bloggers helping PLAN with the gargantuan task of keeping track of 50 state legislatures.

Experimentation

This is a meta issue, so come back to it if you're in a hurry right now. It's about local, state and federal authority.

Here's the question:

What is the most effective position progressives can take on the issue of state and local autonomy?

These days, I'm finding myself having less confidence in broad federal policy and much more interest in local and state decision-making. To some extent that's a function of how much I loathe what's happening at the federal level right now, but it also reflects my sense that small is often more manageable.

Of course, the great fear is that our state will go the way of the federal government and start to fear diversity. Because here in North Carolina, state trumps local at pretty much every turn. Local taxing authority, for example, is highly constrained. The ability to control state roads inside city limits is sketchy. And no North Carolina municipality could declare that same-sex couples free to marry. (Is this true in every state?)

What's government for?

Much of the conflict between progressives and reactionaries these days seems grounded in fundamental disagreements about the role of government in human affairs. I used to think those disagreements were limited to a few fringe issues where the lines were fuzzy and honest opinions might differ . . . but lately I’ve been convinced that the differences are much deeper, much more fundamental, and much more dangerous.

To begin, reactionaries start with the premise that no one should be forced to ‘invest’ their tax dollars in ventures they don’t approve of. In his daily diatribe against all things progressive, for example, John Hood rightly points out government subsidies for the Randy Parton country music complex in the northeast part of the state are probably not appropriate uses of public money. I have long considered the whole business of economic incentives to be wrong-headed - and Hood and I are surprisingly aligned on that issue. Unfortunately, John relies on extremes to make a point that cannot sustain generalization.

Religious Dems Fighting Back

It looks like the Republican attempt to gain church directories for political purposes is having some blowback.

From Watauga Watch:

At this hour, Rev. Steve Goss, a retired Baptist minister and missionary, is filing as a Democrat to run for the N.C. Senate, Dist. 45, the seat currently held by John Garwood of Wilkes County.

Goss describes himself as a progressive Democrat.
***
Good guy. Like a lot of other deeply religious Democrats, he's had a crawful of Republican self-righteousness and believes it's time for men and women of faith to speak up about the power-mad hypocrisy gripping our country.

A Day at the Races

I thought I'd take a break from setting up and organizing the 2006 Races book to provide an update.

  • The races for NC House and NC Senate are each divided into a section for races with contested primaries (house | senate) and all others (house | senate). Once filings are closed, I'll add a third section for each house for uncontested races. I haven't counted them up, but it seems like there are a lot more Republican primary contests than Democratic so far.
  • I've set up a bloglines account for news feeds on each of the contested primary districts. The feeds are Google News searches for each candidate, so there will be a few duplicate entries in each folder and the searches will pick up some news articles that aren't applicable, but in general I think this can be a good quick resource for news by district.
  • I put together a single RSS feed that blends all of the feeds described in the last bullet point for the true news junkie. I've never used Feedblendr before, and I'm not sure that this URL won't change as I add more feeds (as more candidates file), so keep an eye out for updates.
  • Senate district 50 is a fun case of a contested Republican primary. The Democrat incumbent will either be facing a former House member, a school principal, a financial planner, or a certified wingnut.

More to come!

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