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Week in Review: Clinton Launches Historical US LGBT Foreign Policy, Plan B Pill Not for Youth, Voter Laws Under Assault




Hillary Clinton’s Makes US Foreign Policy LGBT History

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton delivered a historical foreign policy speech outlining the Obama Administration’s position on LGBT human rights from the Palais des Nations Hall in Geneva on December 6, marking a memorable international Human Rights Day, to rousing applause.  Her iconic lines that “Some have suggested that gay rights and human rights are separate and distinct; but, in fact, they are one and the same.” Clinton repeated “gay rights are human rights and human rights are gay rights,” initially delivered by Clinton at the State Department’s LGBT Pride event  in 2010.  The White House released a National Security Council Memorandum concurrently, outlining a presidential directive on authority and mandate for federal government agencies who will be responsible for extending protections to LGBT persons abroad via a number of agencies, including Immigration and Home Land Security.  For LGBT Americans it has been a week of joy and gratification for the memorial text delivered by Clinton, but mixed with regret that a similar strategic policy approach has not been engaged at home.  The NCRM blog will report to its readers this coming week the story behind the speech and the preparation of the  Presidential National Security Council Memorandum along with Clinton’s ground-breaking speech.

Russian Elections:  Votes Rigged Outraging Masses

Across Russia yesterday in numerous cities, Russians gathered in protest, marked by 25,000 who gathered in Moscow, voicing outrage about reported ballot rigging by Vladimir Putin’s United Russia political party, who managed to hang onto to a slim majority in its Duma elections, held on December 4th. Massive voter fraud was reported by the OSCE and a domestic election monitoring group, whose website was hacked by alleged Putin supporters. Putin, who now appears politically weakened by the election results, launched his presidential election bid by lashing out against Hillary Clinton, who he accused of inspiring demonstrations, because she acknowledged the election rigging reported at the OSCE Ministerial meeting in Vilnius, Lithuania early in the week.  The White House also issued similar comments.  Russia has witnessed an effort in the past few weeks initiated in the St. Petersburg City Council that would gag LGBT activists to discuss their lives and political concerns in the presence of minors.  This initiative has been backed by the United Russia political party.  Expect to see more of the same in the run-up to presidential elections scheduled for March 4-11.

France Emerges with a Political Victory as Germany and Britain Struggle to Address Euro Crisis

France President Nicolas Sarkozy, seen as the “second partner” in the principally led German effort to cool-off a very hot Eurozone sovereign debt crisis, led France as an ascendant victor in the Euro debt political negotiations this past week by obtaining a preferred intergovernmental agreement between the European 17 core Eurozone countries, but the outcome left Germany’s Angela Merkel short in getting amendments to the Lisbon treaty for all 27 EU countries, that would apply to the the core 17.  Britain’s David Cameron could not get protection for London’s financial houses, thus vetoing Germany’s proposal, leaving the United Kingdom further from the Europe Union financial family.

Merkel unhappy, put a brave face on half a loaf, did not criticize Britain, but Sarkozy lept at the opportunity, saying at an early morning press conference on Friday morning:  “Those who did not want to join the euro are not in the best place to advise its members of its functioning.”  Cameron returned to London to criticism that his veto was ‘bad for Europe’, according to Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg,  his coalition government partner.  In the BBC interview Clegg also said the Lisbon Treaty veto “untenable” for him to welcome, while acknowledging the situation as difficult.  Now it appears that Merkel will pursue an updated Lisbon Treaty, less Britain, making 26 members.


Obama and Sebelius Diss Science In Rejecting Plan B Pill Access for Minors

Reproductive rights advocates were shocked this week when HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius in an unprecedented action overruled the Food and Drug Administration’s recommendation to allow minor girls, 16 and under, to obtain the “Plan B” pill as an over-the-counter medicine, an emergency means to avoid unwanted pregnancies without a prescription.  Seen as a troubling precedent that could open the door to future decisions, most likely associated with controversial sexual health related matters, advocates have expressed surprise and deflation that the Obama Administration would defy scientific opinion that determined that the Plan B pill is safe and should be made available to minors without a prescription.

Added ugliness and political expediency came from President Obama himself, who spoke from the White House press room lectern and backed Sebelius’ decision “saying she was concerned that young people could buy the pill alongside bubble gum and batteries”. He also qualified his remarks as a “father of two daughters” and that “most parents would probably feel the same way. He continued: “It is important for us to make sure that we apply some common sense to various rules when it comes to over-the-counter medicine.” The father of first daughters Malia and Sasha, paints a picture of paternalistic protection and ‘father knows best’.  But alas its an election year.  So much for science.

Voter ID Laws Under Assault by Republicans; Wisconsin Walker Recall Effort Enjoys 300,000 Signatures 

Marking International Human Rights Day, Ben Jealous, the president of the NAACP, has been calling the current period in America, one of the “greatest attacks on voting rights laws in a 100 years,” led a coalition march in New York City to the United Nations in an effort to raise awareness of the assault in at least 25 states on U.S. voter identification laws.  Last month, Ohio voters were successful in organizing a recall effort on a State of Ohio Voter ID rights law, that had been amended by Republican Governor John Kasich, whose reactionary policies inspired organizers to obtain enough signatures to place the discredited law on the ballot during the 2012 elections.  Ohio voters openly rejected Democrats in 2010, only to come roaring back at Kasich for his anti-union efforts to strip collective bargaining rights, which was overwhelmingly rejected by the Ohio electorate last month, as well.

In another bell-weather Midwestern state, Wisconsin, organizers there have quickly obtained more than 300,000 signatures of the 540,000 required in an effort to recall Republican Governor Scott Walker, for his success in stripping collective bargaining rights and requiring workers to pay more for health care, along with diminished pay wages. Organizers are hoping to garner as many as 750,00 signatures to provide insurance for disqualifications. Walker, was the first Republican governor in the country, elected in 2010, that immediately went to work to diminish labor union rights, long held to be a core Democratic Party constituency.  While obstacles remain for Wisconsin efforts to revoke Walker’s mandate, including finding a candidate to take on Walker.  Thus far, former U.S. Senator Russ Feingold, who lost re-election in 2010, has refused to be a candidate.  But first things first.


Tanya L. Domi is an Adjunct Assistant Professor of International and Public Affairs at Columbia University who teaches about human rights in Eurasia and is a Harriman Institute affiliated faculty member. Prior to teaching at Columbia, Domi worked internationally for more than a decade on issues related to democratic transitional development, including political and media development, human rights, LGBT human rights, gender issues, sex trafficking, and media freedom.

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Reporters Reveal Some Republicans Don’t Understand What a Default Means – and Don’t Believe the Debt Ceiling Is Real



CNN’s Jim Acosta and John Avlon compared notes on Republicans speaking on raising the debt ceiling over the weekend only to realize that the far-right members refuse to support the deal between Speaker Kevin McCarthy and President Joe Biden.

Acosta cited an interview he conducted Saturday with Rep. Tim Burchett (R-TN), who said he’s voted for shutdowns and would vote again this week.

After ranting about cutting spending, Acosta said, “Well, you can have the argument about cutting spending during the budget and appropriations process, but as you know, Congressman, the U.S. has never missed making payments on its bills before. In the last 45 years, Congress has raised the debt ceiling 65 times. So, again, I go back to the question: is it responsible — I understand what you’re saying about how much your daughter spends, but we’re not talking about $15. We’re talking about the American economy. Is it responsible to be the deciding vote to send the country into default?”

Burchett claimed that the country wasn’t going to be sent into default. He crafted a conspiracy that Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen kept changing the date the U.S. default would happen.

“Nobody is, as the young people say, nobody has provided the receipts. Nobody has called her into Washington and said, ‘Show us the math on this,'” he said.

Yellen works at the Treasury Department, which is in Washington.

Burchett also had his own math, saying that if they cut the budget spending to the 2022 levels, the country would be in a surplus. The House passed a massive defense spending package that would have required cuts from other places.

“All they’re doin’ right now is scarin’ people,” Burchett claimed. “They’re talkin’ about cutting programs that have no need other than political cronyism, we’re tellin’ our seniors — and the Democrats will, and I get it — they’re tellin’ the seniors they’re gonna be cut. Veterans are gonna be cut. And nothing can be farther (sic) from the truth. And that’s just the reality of politics.”

The reason Democrats were citing cuts to seniors and veterans goes back to the Republican Party budget bill that required cuts to seniors and veterans. That’s because returning to the 2022 budget levels means making cuts to increases already passed by Congress.

Acosta turned back to Burchett to ask if he believed the debt ceiling wasn’t real.

“I think the debt ceiling is — it’s just a creative thing to hold us into responsible — into check,” said Burchett.

Avlon cited Rep. Ralph Norman (R-SC), who claimed he refused to sign a bill that would bankrupt the economy.

“Well, hold it right there,” said Avlon. “I mean, if you let the country default on its debt, that’s functionally the same thing.”

An annoyed Avlon was frustrated the process was even something allowed to happen.

“It’s a fact, Congress has to control the pursestrings. So, frankly, someone should figure out the 14th Amendment side of this because I think this is not the way we’re supposed to play ball, the greatest nation in the world constantly every couple of years when there’s a Democratic president flirting with defaulting on our debt because it’s fiscal policy by extortion,” said Avlon. “This is a win to the extent that we came up to a bipartisan agreement, but this is not the way the greatest nation in the world should conduct its fiscal policy. It’s ridiculous. And it didn’t happen when Donald Trump was president because Democrats worked with Republicans to ensure the debt ceiling was raised three times.”

See the discussion below or at the link here.

Image: GOP Rep. Tim Burchett


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‘Start the Kevin McCarthy Death-Clock’ After Biden Wins Debt Ceiling Battle: Rick Wilson



Appearing late Saturday night on MSNBC after it was announced that President Joe Biden and House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) had reached an agreement “in principle’ on a budget deal, former GOP strategist Rick Wilson claimed this could be the beginning of the end for McCathy’s speakership.

Sitting in on a panel with guest host Michael Steele, Wilson suggested that McCarthy’s decision to compromise with the president to avoid a default that would spin the economy into chaos will not go over well with far-right members of his House caucus who could make a motion to “vacate the chair” to express their displeasure.

Asked by host Steel about what comes next, Wilson stated it was a win for the White House which will not make conservatives happy.

RELATED: ‘Crazy cuckoo MAGA people’ could sink debt ceiling deal: Dem strategist

“Great night for Joe Biden, great night for the White House even though I think their messaging has been kind of tentative the past few weeks” the Lincoln Project founder began. “I think though we are now going to start the Kevin McCarthy death-clock. He has certainly got a very angry part of his caucus tonight who probably burning up his phone no matter how good it is for the country not to default.”

“It’s not going to please the chaos caucus in the GOP,” he added.

Watch below or at the link:


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Debt Ceiling: McCarthy Faces ‘Lingering Anger’ and a Possible Revolt as Far-Right House Members Start Issuing Threats



As House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) continues to negotiate a deal to avoid a debt crisis, members of the far-right Freedom Caucus are growing furious with him over broken promises he made to them.

According to MSNBC political analyst Steve Benen, with a slim GOP majority in the House, McCarthy is walking a tightrope to get a budget deal passed and may need help from House Democrats if members of his caucus refuse to go along with him.

As Benen points out, in order to win the speakership McCarthy agreed to an easier path for a motion to “vacate the chair” which could end his tenure as Speaker. That could come into play if the Freedom Caucus stages a revolt.

“… as the negotiations approach an apparent finish line, the House Republicans’ most radical faction is learning that it isn’t likely to get everything its members demanded — and for the Freedom Caucus, that’s not going to work,” he wrote in his MSNBC column.

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Citing a Washington Times report that stated, “[Freedom Caucus members] want everything from the debt limit bill passed by the House last month plus several new concessions from the White House,” Benen suggested far-right House Republicans are now issuing veiled threats.

In an interview, Rep. Chip Roy (R-TX) stated, “I am going to have to go have some blunt conversations with my colleagues and the leadership team. I don’t like the direction they are headed.”

With Politico reporting, “The [House Freedom Caucus] was already unlikely to support a final bipartisan deal, but lingering anger with Kevin McCarthy could have lasting implications on his speakership,” Benen added, “If this is simply a matter of lingering ill-will from members who come to believe that GOP leaders ‘caved,’ the practical consequences might be limited. But let’s also not forget that McCarthy, while begging his own members for their support during his protracted fight for the speaker’s gavel, agreed to tweak the motion-to-vacate-the-chair rules, which at least in theory, would make it easier for angry House Republicans to try to oust McCarthy from his leadership position.”

Adding the caveat that he is not predicting an imminent McCarthy ouster he added, “But if the scope of the Freedom Caucus’ discontent reaches a fever pitch, a hypothetical deal clears thanks to significant Democratic support, don’t be surprised if we all start hearing the phrase ‘vacate the chair” a lot more frequently.”

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