In Arizona, Governor Brewer Vetoes Birther Bill

In a move that is bound to displease, to put it mildly, the radical right, Republican Governor Jan Brewer has vetoed HB 2177, the so-called "birther bill" that  have required presidential candidates to provide their birth certificates to appear on the ballot.

From the Tuscon Sentinel:

the "birther" bill, "creates significant new problems while failing to do anything constructive for Arizona," Brewer said.

The bill would have required presidential candidates to present their birth certificates or other birth records to be eligible to be on the ballot.

"As a former Secretary of State (sic), I do not support designating one person as the gatekeeper to the ballot for a candidate, which could lead to arbitrary or politically-motivated decisions," Brewer wrote in her veto message to House Speaker Kirk Adams.

"In addition, I never imagined being presented with a bill that could require candidates for President (sic) of the greatest and most powerful nation on earth to submit their "early baptismal or circumcision certificates" among other records to the Arizona Secretary of State. This is a bridge too far," Brewer wrote.

Candidates could have substituted those records for a birth certificate if the bill had become law.

So-called "birthers," pushing a theory that President Barack Obama is not a native-born citizen as required by the Constitution, want to force candidates to disclose their birth certificates. The irony, of course, is that Obama's opponent in the 2008 election, Arizona Sen. John McCain, was likely ineligible to hold the nation's highest office because of the circumstances of his birth, while Obama was born in Hawaii to a mother who was a citizen.

Governor Brewer also vetoed two other bills of note. Brewer vetoed a bill that would have directed the governor to set up an alliance with other states to regulate healthcare, in a challenge to the Federal government, another that would have allowed guns to be carried on school grounds. She vetoed the guns at school bill "because it is so poorly written," Brewer said.

"Bills impacting our Second Amendment rights have to be crystal clear so that gun owners don't become lawbreakers by accident," she wrote in her veto message to Senate President Russell Pearce.

The Governor added that the bill didn't define the "public right of way" where weapons could be carried on school campuses, and included K-12 schools where firearms are prohibited by Federal law.


These United States

A round up of news and blog posts from around these United States.

Delaware House Passes a Civil Unions Bill. The Delaware House has approved a measure that allows civil unions for same-sex couples by a vote of 26 to 15. Last week, the same measure passed the Delaware Senate by a vote of 13 to 6. The bill now goes to Governor Markell who last week after the bill passed the Senate: "It's time for this bill to pass. It's time for the bill to be signed. It's the right thing to do for the people of Delaware." Once signed, Delaware will become the eighth state to offer civil unions.

Green Mountain Care Passes Senate Panel in Vermont. The Burlington Free Press reports that the Senate Health and Welfare Committee passed by 5 to 0 vote a bill that would put Vermont on the road toward creation of a government-financed health insurance plan called Green Mountain Care by 2017. The legislation, a priority for Gov. Peter Shumlin, already passed the House.

Arizona's Birther Bill Advances.  A year in the making, the Arizona Senate approved a bill requiring presidential candidates to prove they were born in the U.S. before they're included on Arizona's ballot. The Senate made a few changes to the bill before passing it and turning it back over to the House of Representatives. Believe it or not, there are actually conservatives who believe that this will keep Barack Obama off the ballot next year. It's not for nothing that the Grand Canyon state is derided as the "meth lab of American democracy." More from KPHO-Phoenix.

Georgia Set to Pass Arizona-Style Immigration Law. Stateline reports on Georgia House Bill 87 which would allow local police to check the immigration status of anyone whose legality it suspects.

Obama's Insane Hostage Bargaining Strategy. Jon Chait of the New Republic bemoans the President's handling of the debt ceiling issue. Chait writes, "If Obama is going to begin by saying he'd like a straight vote on the debt ceiling but is willing to make policy concessions, what do you expect the Republicans to do? Keep in mind, the assumption that the Congressional minority can use the debt ceiling as a hostage to win substantive policy the president opposes is entirely novel. Obama has introduced this new development." Indeed, the President should insist on a clean bill. Anything else would allow lunatics to run the asylum.

Ted Olson: Proposition 8 Decision "Judicial Responsibility in its Classic Sense"

Via Think Progress.

In this exchange, Ted Olson, who along with David Boies successfully led the legal challenge that overturned Proposition 8 banning gay marriage in California, told Fox News' Chris Wallace that it's not "judicial activism" when a judge follows the Constitution.

"Where is the right to same-sex marriage in the Constitution?" asked Wallace.

"Where is the right to interracial marriage in the Constitution, Chris?" replied Olson.

"The Supreme Court has looked at marriage and has said that the right to marry is a fundamental right for all citizens. So you call it interracial marriage and then you could prohibit it, no? The Supreme Court said no. The same thing here," Olson argued.

"The judge after hearing three weeks of testimony and full day of closing arguments and listening to experts from all over the world concluded that the denial of the right to marry to these individuals in California hurt them and did not advance the cause of opposite sex marriage," Olson added.

"This is what judges are expected to do. It's not judicial activism. It's judicial responsibility in the classic sense," emphasized Olson. 

As Olson and Boies have demonstrated minority rights cannot be subject to popular votes. 

Olson shot down every single argument that Wallace tried to advance. In the end Wallace conceded, “Mr. Olson, we want to thank you so much for joining us today. We’ll keep following your lawsuit. And I gotta say, after your appearance today, I don’t understand how you ever lost a case in the supreme court, sir.”


Chilean Presidential Campaign Ads

The Chilean presidential campaign is in full gear pitting the conservative Sebastián Piñera who polled 44.05 percent of the vote in the first round against Eduardo Frei, a Christian Democrat that forms part of the governing left of center La Concertación por la Democracia alliance, who polled just 29.6 percent in the first round given a split in the alliance that saw a Socialist candidate, Marco Enríquez Ominami, take 20.13 percent. Jorge Arrate, the candidate of the Chilean Communist Party (PCC), trailed with 6.21 percent.

Frei, a former President and the son of a President, now has the task re-uniting his electoral coalition that is composed of his economically left but socially conservative Christian Democratic party (DC), the Socialist party (PS), the Partido Radical Social Demócrata (PRSD) and the Partido por la Democracia (PPD). Frei is clearly trying wrap himself up as the historic heir to the center-left alliance that has governed Chile since the end of the Pinochet dictatorship in 1990.

This first ad is entitled Vamos a Vivir Mejor or "We Are Going to Live Better." In the ad, the four presidents - Patricio Aylwin (1990-1994), Eduardo Frei (1994-2000), Ricardo Lagos (2000-2005) and Michelle Bachelet (2005-2010) that have ruled Chile appear together to reinforce that message of continuity. The ad runs as "We are going to keep on growing, we are going to live better, we know that we stick together we are going to live better, today I reflect on everything that we have built as of now, it has been during these years that I learned that I could advance, and looking back we remember the path we have traveled, today I will again follow my heart."

This second ad, what spurred me to write this post, is simply remarkable. I had to do a double take and ask myself this is Chile we are talking about? Chile is a modern country and was just earlier this month invited to become the 31st member of the Organization of Economic Co-operation and Development, a grouping of the world's most industrially advanced countries. Chile thus becomes the first member from South America and the second from Latin America (México is the other). But Chile has long been a rather socially conservative country even by South American standards. Issues like divorce (only legalized in 2004), abortion and sexual orientation have long been taboo. Santiago is a very pleasant city but a vibrant nightlife akin to other large cities in South America it does not boast. So this ad is from the Frei campaign is surprising and a measure of perhaps that change is indeed coming to once sleepy Chile. It needs no translation really.

Again the ad features the Frei campaign motto as in the above ad Vamos a vivir mejor, "we are going to live better." After the kiss by the lesbian couple, the line is simply "we all deserve the same rights."

But nothing could prepare me for this next ad, a web only spot. The ad is from the Sebastián Piñera campaign, the billionaire conservative who is making his second consecutive attempt to win the presidency and the former head of the right wing Renovación Nacional party. The spot is entitled La Voz de los sin Voz, or the "voice of the voiceless." The ad runs five minutes but at the 40 second mark Piñera who speaks in the ad is shown next to a gay couple holding hands saying "today people accepts us, now we need the country to respect us." Piñera is pledging to support civil unions for same-sex couples and to allow gay Chileans to serve in the military. But I will also note that Rolando Jiménez of the Movimiento de Liberación Homosexual (Movilh), or the Homosexual Liberation Movement, while applauding the inclusion of gay men in the Piñera campaign also found that Piñera has yet to articulate a specific plan on how he will structure gay civil unions. If you read Spanish, here is more background.

Piñera's campaign slogan is Bienvenido el cambio, or "welcome change."

Both campaigns are also making use of social media using Facebook, Twitter and YouTube to get their message out.

There's more...

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