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1  Getbig Main Boards / Politics and Political Issues Board / Re: Life after defeat for Mitt Romney & the GOP on: April 18, 2014, 04:20:13 PM
Mitt Romney returns to political stage as Republicans prepare for midterms
By Robert Costa and Philip Rucker

One rainy morning this month, the man who thought he would be president boarded a train near his beach house in San Diego. He stepped off in Burbank, Calif., and caught a ride to a sound stage, where his on-again, off-again political consigliere, Mike Murphy, was waiting to shoot a commercial on a set that bore more than a passing resemblance to the Oval Office.

Looking and sounding like a president out of central casting, he nailed his lines. The crew called him “one-take Romney,” and before he departed, they swarmed, extending arms around his shoulders and angling their iPhones for pictures.

With that, Mitt Romney’s long winter was over.

After retreating from public view following his crushing loss to President Obama in the 2012 election, Romney has returned to the political stage, emerging as one of the Republican Party’s most coveted stars, especially on the fundraising circuit, in the run-up to November’s midterm elections.

He may not direct a high-powered political-action committee or hold a formal position, but with the two living former Republican presidents — George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush — shying away from campaign politics, Romney, 67, has begun to embrace the role of party elder, believing he can shape the national debate and help guide his fractured party to a governing majority.

Insisting he won’t seek the presidency again, the former GOP nominee has endorsed at least 16 candidates this cycle, many of them establishment favorites who backed his campaigns. One Romney friend said he wants to be the “anti-Jim DeMint,” a reference to the former South Carolina senator and current Heritage Foundation chairman who has been a conservative kingmaker in Republican primaries. Romney’s approach is to reward allies, boost rising stars and avoid conflict.

Romney has signed his name to sharply partisan e-mail appeals and headlined recent fundraisers from Las Vegas to Miami to Boston. This week, he appeared in his first television ad: a U.S. Chamber of Commerce spot supporting Rep. Mike Simpson of Idaho, who faces a tea party challenger in a state where Romney remains widely popular. And Romney’s confidants said he will appear in more ads, record robo-calls and stump at rallies later this year.

“He believes in the cause, he wants us to win the House and Senate, and he wants to be useful,” said Murphy, who oversaw production of the Simpson ad on April 2 near Hollywood.

Added Tom Rath, a New Hampshire-based former Romney adviser: “He never said he would take a vow of political abstinence. . . . He is a man at peace, but I don’t think that he has politics totally out of his blood.”

Romney’s resurfacing has spurred chatter among elite financiers and operatives that he is eyeing a comeback in 2016, much as he tries to silence such speculation. On March 25, Romney visited New York to raise money for Ed Gillespie, a former adviser running for Senate in Virginia. Sitting around the dining table in the Park Avenue home of private equity titan Stephen A. Schwartzman, Romney poked fun at some of his campaign trail missteps and, according to attendees, assured the two dozen donors that he would not run again.

Romney is heartened, his intimates said, that the GOP has not cast him aside as a loser. Spencer Zwick, the 2012 campaign’s national finance chairman who is so close to the family that Romney calls him his “sixth son,” said he believes Romney has become more popular over the past six months than he was during the election.

“The level of interest in him has skyrocketed,” Zwick said. “I think there is an enormous sense of buyer’s remorse, that he was right on Russia and a whole range of issues. I believe if the election were held today, he would win.”

Former Minnesota governor Tim Pawlenty, who was a Romney surrogate in 2012 after clashing him early on in the GOP primaries, said Romney is poised to “remain a leading voice in the party for a long time to come,” and that he is “way too young, smart, and service-oriented to just fade away.”

But some conservative activists would rather see Romney disappear again. Asked about Romney’s moves, organizer Richard Viguerie quipped, “It seems like Groundhog Day.”

L. Brent Bozell III, chairman of ForAmerica, a conservative advocacy group, said: “His career is finished. He ran an astonishingly inept campaign, and it is fine if he wants to be a senior statesman for the party. But I hope he’s not trying to advance himself or his moderate philosophy. That would be destructive.”

Romney has downsized his once vast political operation to a single aide, Kelli Harrison, and his inbox and cellphone. He keeps up on political developments with a small cadre of loyal former advisers and regularly consults Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio), who stood in for Obama in his debate preparations, and Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), his vice-presidential running mate. Ronna Romney McDaniel, his niece and one of Michigan’s members of the Republican National Committee, keeps him updated on party affairs.

Romney also e-mails with New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R). In late February, when the two appeared at a Republican Governors Association fundraiser at the Lenox Hotel in Boston, Romney pulled Christie aside to remind him to attend his June summit in Utah.

The conclave in Park City, where Romney purchased a sprawling ski chalet last year, serves as a reunion for Romney’s major donors and top aides, as well as a sales session for Solamere Capital, the private equity firm run by Zwick and Romney’s eldest son, Tagg.

Romney has invited most prospective 2016 presidential candidates to attend. Instead of being another cattle call showcasing well-rehearsed pitches, Romney is giving this year’s retreat a theme — the future of American leadership, at home and abroad — and he has asked all of the featured guests to tailor their remarks around it.

Sen. Rand Paul (Ky.), former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee and Ryan are making the trek to Utah this year, as is Portman. Former Florida governor Jeb Bush declined because of a scheduling conflict.

Eric Fehrnstrom, a longtime aide who still counsels Romney, said the event is “an important touchstone” for the Romney network.

“Mitt Romney was the first Republican candidate to raise $1 billion for a campaign,” Fehrnstrom said. “That is the new bar. And I think Mitt’s personal help and the support of his network is going to be crucial in helping the next Republican candidate for president achieve that $1 billion mark and hopefully surpass it.”

Scores of candidates in the midterm elections have sought Romney’s endorsement, including Mark Hutchison, a Nevada state senator and fellow Mormon, who is running in a June primary against former state party chairwoman Sue Lowden for lieutenant governor.

On March 20, Romney visited Las Vegas to raise money for Nevada Rep. Joe Heck, a Romney supporter in 2012, at the home of businessman Travis Brady. There, Hutchison approached Romney and asked for assistance.

“We went over what I have been doing as an attorney to fight Obamacare in the courts, and after we finished our brief conversation, he said he’d be in touch,” Hutchison said.

As with other such requests, Romney consulted his informal circle of advisers. These conference calls often include his former business partner, Bob White, as well as former aides Fehrnstrom, Stuart Stevens, Russ Schriefer, Matt Rhoades, Beth Myers, Peter Flaherty, Ron Kaufman and Lanhee Chen.

On Monday, Romney wrote a letter endorsing Hutchison, calling him a “champion for Nevadans’ constitutional rights.”

Romney doesn’t say “yes” to every entreaty. In Illinois, state Treasurer Dan Rutherford and businessman Bruce Rauner each pressured Romney to endorse his gubernatorial primary. For weeks, Romney mulled weighing in, but concluded he would sit out the primary — even though in 2012, Rutherford was Romney’s state chairman and helped him beat former senator Rick Santorum in the Illinois primary.

A map of Romney’s other stops and endorsements is a reflection of his relationships and his tendency toward even-tempered fiscal hawks. “He’s looking for pragmatic conservatives,” said former Minnesota senator Norm Coleman, a Republican. “It’s not so much about scoring political points with every segment of the party, but about finding people who, like him, understand the need for governing.”

In the first quarter of this year, per his federal filing, Romney donated to Elise Stefanik, a former Ryan aide running for a House seat in New York; to Steve Daines, a Montana Senate candidate who has been encouraged by Portman; and to state senator Tony Strickland, a former Romney state chairman who is seeking an open House seat in southern California. In Iowa, after his former state adviser David Kochel reached out to him, Romney endorsed state senator Joni Ernst, a GOP Senate candidate and the only elected official in a crowded primary.

In Virginia, Del. Barbara J. Comstock (R-Fairfax), who is running for the seat of outgoing U.S. Rep. Frank R. Wolf, worked on Romney’s 2008 campaign and was a key surrogate in 2012. She received a supportive Twitter message from Romney in January and $2,000 from him in March.

Romney is also backing former Massachusetts senator Scott Brown, who is running this year in neighboring New Hampshire. Romney and Brown share several advisers, including Ryan Williams, who said he hopes the two march together on July 4 in the Wolfeboro parade, where the Romney family vacations on Lake Winnipesaukee.

On June 9, Romney is scheduled to attend a reception at the Metropolitan Club in New York, hosted by the National Republican Senatorial Committee, to help raise money for Brown and other GOP Senate contenders.

Romney’s appeal has limits, though, especially in states with a more conservative tilt. In South Carolina, Sen. Lindsey O. Graham has not sought his support in his competitive primary, nor has Romney helped Gov. Nikki Haley, a Romney endorser in 2008 and 2012.

Romney advisers said he is willing to help Sen. Thad Cochran fend off a tea party challenger in Mississippi, but Cochran has not asked. “It’s not in the playbook right now,” said a Cochran adviser.

Robert Shrum, who advised unsuccessful Democratic nominees Al Gore and John Kerry, said Romney wants “significance” but that “he can be more helpful at this point with money than electorally. The clearest instance to me of the situation is the decision of [Ohio Gov.] John Kasich to airbrush him out of his ad.”

As the Columbus Dispatch reported last week, Kasich’s gubernatorial campaign scrubbed a Romney placard from Kasich’s campaign Web site. Romney lost Ohio to Obama.

Romney is more welcome in Idaho. Strategist Scott Reed said that when the Chamber of Commerce surveyed voters recently, it found that Romney’s approval rating among Republicans in Simpson’s district was a whopping 86 percent. So Reed asked Kaufman if Romney would cut an ad for Simpson, and Romney agreed.

“He was a champ,” Reed said. “It’s going to help us win this race.”

When Romney visited Boise and Idaho Falls in March for events helping Gov. Butch Otter, Sen. James E. Risch and Simpson — all former Romney backers — he felt at home. Gone was his campaign entourage and Secret Service agents.

“He decided to go jogging by himself, out on the greenbelt trail along the Snake River,” Otter said. “When he got back, he told me he just loved sucking up all that good, clean oxygen. He may have been here for politics, but that run can be a tonic, and he liked that tonic.”
2  Getbig Main Boards / General Topics / Re: The Good Life on: April 17, 2014, 07:46:09 PM

You and I seem to share the same fondness for water.

Back to the Keys... this time Key Largo... Bay likey!  Cool
3  Getbig Alternative Boards / Relationship Talk, Questions, Pictures & More! (18+) / Re: Homosexuality 101 on: April 17, 2014, 07:29:40 PM
Lawyer who defended Calif. gay marriage ban plans daughter’s gay wedding
By Robert Barnes

The conservative lawyer who defended California’s ban on gay marriage at the Supreme Court is at work on another project: planning his daughter’s upcoming same-sex wedding ceremony.

Charles J. Cooper, a former top official in the Reagan Justice Department and onetime “Republican lawyer of the year,” learned of his daughter’s sexual orientation during the legal battle over California’s Proposition 8, according to journalist Jo Becker’s soon-to-be-released book chronicling the movement to legalize same-sex marriage.

Ashley Lininger became engaged to a woman identified in the book only as Casey just after the Supreme Court accepted the Proposition 8 case in December 2012. Cooper, a noted Supreme Court practitioner, argued the case in March 2013.

The court ruled against Cooper’s clients, saying they did not have legal standing to challenge a federal district judge’s ruling that the ban was unconstitutional. Same-sex marriages then resumed in the nation’s most populous state.

In its limited ruling, the court sidestepped Cooper’s argument that there is no constitutional right to same-sex marriage and that decisions about whether to allow such unions should be left to the states and voters.

Cooper told Becker that he did not think it appropriate to comment on how he would vote on the issue should he have the opportunity.

“What I will say only is that my views evolve on issues of this kind the same way as other people’s do, and how I view this down the road may not be the way I view it now, or how I viewed it 10 years ago,” Cooper is quoted as saying.

Cooper joins a list of prominent Republicans — former vice president Richard B. Cheney and Sen. Rob Portman of Ohio among them — with children whose interests are at odds with party orthodoxy on gay marriage.

Becker wrote that Cooper and his daughter spent hours discussing the case while it was ongoing and disagreed about Cooper’s view that states had reason to enshrine the traditional definition of marriage in their constitutions and withhold the right from same-sex couples.

“I think the most upset I got was being called an ‘experiment’ that people deserved to see the outcome of before accepting,” Becker quoted Lininger as saying. “It just made me feel — alien, I guess.”

Lininger lives in Massachusetts, the first state to legalize same-sex marriage and now one of 17, in addition to the District of Columbia, where the unions are legal. She did not want to be interviewed for this story. Cooper said the same, although he offered a statement:

“My family is typical of families all across America. We love each other; we stand up for each other; and we pray for, and rejoice in, each other’s happiness. My daughter Ashley’s path in life has led her to happiness with a lovely young woman named Casey, and our family and Casey’s family are looking forward to celebrating their marriage in just a few weeks.”

He added: “As Becker reports in her book, I told Ashley that what matters most is that I love her and she loves me.”

In the book, Cooper said he left it up to his daughter — he married her mother, Debbie, when the girl was 7 and always refers to her as his daughter — whether she wanted to go public with her engagement during the litigation.

Although it might have made the point that personal concerns are different from questions of policy, Cooper said he was relieved she decided on privacy.

“I didn’t want, and I didn’t think she wanted, for her and Casey to suddenly become the most famous lesbians in America,” Cooper told Becker. “But can you imagine how riveting it would have been if at the oral argument I disclosed this? I kind of personified what I was arguing.”

Becker is an investigative reporter for the New York Times who won a Pulitzer Prize for national reporting when she worked for The Washington Post. For her book “Forcing the Spring: Inside the Fight for Marriage Equality,” she was given unfettered access to the legal team seeking to overturn Proposition 8 — the odd-couple team of Republican Theodore Olson and Democrat David Boies — as well as the organization American Foundation for Equal Rights, which was formed to bring a case to the Supreme Court to recognize a constitutional right for same-sex couples to marry.

She did not have the same access to the legal teams defending Proposition 8 and the companion case that challenged the federal Defense of Marriage Act. But she wrote that Cooper granted her hours of interviews and allowed her to tell the story of his family.

Cooper granted few media interviews during the years-long litigation and was criticized by some conservatives for not being vigorous enough in his defense of traditional marriage.

He was haunted throughout the proceedings by a comment he made when the Proposition 8 case was at trial before U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker. Walker asked Cooper how it would harm the state’s interest in encouraging heterosexual couples to marry and raise families if it also allowed same-sex couples to wed. “Your honor, my answer is, I don’t know. I don’t know,” Cooper eventually replied.

Cooper immediately regretted his words and spent the rest of the litigation trying to take them back. What he meant by the comment, he said, was that same-sex marriage was so new and untried — “an experiment” — that the answer was impossible to know.

Becker writes about how, through the years of litigation, the opposing lawyers and plaintiffs were tied together as the case moved through the process.

Cooper and Olson are old friends, usually part of the same elite conservative legal establishment. Cooper succeeded Olson as head of the Office of Legal Counsel in the Reagan Justice Department.

Cooper said in the book that he came to especially admire the lesbian couple who challenged Proposition 8, Kris Perry and Sandy Stier.

They returned the compliment in a statement about Cooper’s defense of Proposition 8 at the same time his daughter was planning to marry a woman.

“Some may find this contrast between public and private jarring, but in our opinion, loving an LGBT child unequivocally is the single most important thing any parent can do.”

The question of whether there is a constitutional right to marriage that states may not withhold from gay couples could return to the Supreme Court in time for its term beginning in October.

But it is not the Proposition 8 case that has been the impetus for an unbroken line of federal district court decisions that such bans are unconstitutional: The judges instead are relying on the court’s decision in the DOMA case, U.S. v. Windsor , that ordered the federal government to recognize same-sex marriages performed where they are legal.
4  Getbig Alternative Boards / Relationship Talk, Questions, Pictures & More! (18+) / Re: Homosexuality 101 on: April 04, 2014, 04:55:35 PM
If You're Against Gay Marriage, You're a Bad CEO
By Will Oremus

There was a time when supporting gay marriage made you a radical. Then there was a time when it made you a progressive. Now we’ve reached a point where not supporting gay marriage makes you unfit to lead a major Silicon Valley organization.

Some will say we’ve come too far, too fast—that it’s unfair to pillory someone for a political view that was held by the majority of Californians just six years ago. They’re wrong.

Just 10 days after he was named CEO of Mozilla Corporation, the tech company behind the popular Firefox Web browser, Brendan Eich resigned Thursday under pressure. Eich, the inventor of the Javascript programming language, was technically well-qualified to lead an organization dedicated to upholding the vitality and openness of the Web. But his personal views made him untenable as Mozilla’s leader.

I say “personal views” rather than “political views,” because that distinction is the key to understanding why Eich had to go.

In 2008, California voters narrowly passed Proposition 8, a constitutional amendment limiting legal marriage rights to heterosexual couples. Four years later, it came to light that Eich had been among Prop 8’s supporters, donating $1,000 to the anti-gay marriage campaign. The revelation sparked a righteous Twitter storm among technophiles, who tend to lean socially liberal regardless of their economic views. As far as I can tell, however, it did not lead to broad-based calls for Eich to resign from his post at Mozilla, where he had been Chief Technical Officer since 2005.

That changed on March 24, when a divided Mozilla board named Eich CEO. The Wall Street Journal reported that three board members resigned over the choice. Employees revolted too. And public condemnation was widespread. The online-dating site OkCupid went so far as to barricade its website for Firefox users, urging them to switch to a different browser.

Eich tried to control the damage. On March 26, he published a blog post promising to uphold Mozilla’s anti-discrimination policies, treat its employees equally, and foster an open and inclusive atmosphere. He also expressed “sorrow” at “having caused pain,” without explicitly mentioning Proposition 8. But he resisted calls to step down, and he never renounced his support for the measure. “I don't want to talk about my personal beliefs because I kept them out of Mozilla all these 15 years we've been going,” he told the Guardian. “I don't believe they're relevant.”

The notion that your political views shouldn’t affect your employment is a persuasive one. Where would we be as a democracy if Republicans were barred from jobs at Democrat-led companies, or vice versa?

But this is different. Opposing gay marriage in America today is not akin to opposing tax hikes or even the war in Afghanistan. It’s more akin to opposing interracial marriage: It bespeaks a conviction that some people do not deserve the same basic rights as others. An organization like Mozilla might tolerate that in an underling, and it might even tolerate it in a CTO. But in a CEO—the ultimate decision-maker and public face of an organization—it sends an awful message. That’s doubly so for an organization devoted to openness and freedom on the Web—not to mention one with numerous gay employees.

It’s an even bigger problem for a tech company in Silicon Valley, where competition for top engineers is fierce. Mozilla’s edge over goliaths like Google and Facebook is that it offers employees a chance to work for an organization whose values they can truly believe in. A bigoted boss, no matter how well-meaning, undermines that appeal.

Think for a second: If you knew your boss rated you undeserving of the same rights as everyone else based solely on your sexual orientation, would you feel good about going to work for him every day? Would you be reassured when he insisted he wouldn’t treat you any differently in the workplace just because he felt the Constitution ought to be amended to discriminate against people like you? And how would you feel if he then defended himself, as he did in the Guardian interview, by stressing the need to appease your organization’s least-tolerant constituents? From the interview:

Eich also stressed that Firefox worked globally, including in countries like Indonesia with “different opinions,” and LGBT marriage was “not considered universal human rights yet, and maybe they will be, but that's in the future, right now we're in a world where we have to be global to have effect.”

Actually, Mr. Eich, right now we’re in a world where you have to not be a bigot if you want to be an effective leader of an organization like Mozilla. And it’s about time.
5  Getbig Alternative Boards / Relationship Talk, Questions, Pictures & More! (18+) / Re: Homosexuality 101 on: April 04, 2014, 02:25:05 PM
Brendan Eich's forced resignation from Mozilla shows a huge turning point in the acceptance of gay equality and rights. Not only is it no longer cool to be anti-gay, but it could cost you your job.

Mozilla CEO Brenden Eich steps down after Prop 8 donation outcry
By Douglas Ernst

Brendan Eich, the co-founder of Mozilla, has stepped down as CEO over the controversy that erupted after his $1,000 pledge in support of California’s anti-gay marriage law Proposition 8 became widely known.

“Mozilla prides itself on being held to a different standard and, this past week, we didn’t live up to it. We know why people are hurt and angry, and they are right: it’s because we haven’t stayed true to ourselves,” read a statement from Mozilla. “We didn’t act like you’d expect Mozilla to act. We didn’t move fast enough to engage with people once the controversy started. We’re sorry. We must do better.”

Mr. Eich, the inventor of the Javascript programming language, tried to quell the calls for his resignation in late March shortly after taking up the position, stating: “I know there are concerns about my commitment to fostering equality and welcome for LGBT individuals at Mozilla. […] I hope to lay those concerns to rest, first by making a set of commitments to you. More important, I want to lay them to rest by actions and results.”

It wasn’t enough, and on Thursday he officially stepped down.

“It’s clear that Brendan cannot lead Mozilla in this setting,” Mozilla executive chairwoman Mitchell Baker said in an interview Thursday morning, the technology website Recode reported. “The ability to lead — particularly for the CEO — is fundamental to the role and that is not possible here.”

Mr. Eich had insisted that his personal views did not affect his ability to lead the company, noting that Mozilla had been extremely friendly to the gay and lesbian community for years. Ms. Baker’s past experience with him seemed to validate his claims.

“That was shocking to me, because I never saw any kind of behavior or attitude from him that was not in line with Mozilla’s values of inclusiveness,” she said, Recode reported. “But I overestimated that experience.”
6  Getbig Alternative Boards / Relationship Talk, Questions, Pictures & More! (18+) / Re: Homosexuality 101 on: March 20, 2014, 04:54:28 PM
Westboro Baptist founder dies
by John Hanna, The Associated Press

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The Rev. Fred Phelps Sr., the fiery founder of a small Kansas church who drew international condemnation for outrageous and hate-filled protests that blamed almost everything, including the deaths of AIDS victims and U.S. soldiers, on America's tolerance for gay people, has died. He was 84.

Daughter Margie Phelps told The Associated Press that Fred Phelps died shortly after midnight Thursday. She didn't provide the cause of death or the condition that recently put him in hospice care.

Throughout his life, Phelps and the Westboro Baptist Church, a small congregation made up almost entirely of his extended family, tested the boundaries of free speech, violating accepted societal standards for decency in their unapologetic assault on gays and lesbians. In the process, some believe he even helped the cause of gay rights by serving as such a provocative symbol of intolerance.

Phelps believed any misfortune, most infamously the deaths of American soldiers killed in Iraq and Afghanistan, was God's punishment for society's tolerance of homosexuality. He and his followers carried forward their message bluntly, holding held signs at funerals and public events that used ugly slurs and read "Thank God for dead soldiers." God, he preached, had nothing but anger and bile for the moral miscreants of his creation.

"Can you preach the Bible without preaching the hatred of God?" Phelps asked in a 2006 interview with The Associated Press. "The answer is absolutely not. And these preachers that muddle that and use that deliberately, ambiguously to prey on the follies and the fallacious notions of their people, that's a great sin."

For those who didn't like the message or the tactics, Phelps and his family had only disdain. "They need to drink a frosty mug of shut-the-hell-up and avert their eyes," his daughter, Shirley Phelps-Roper, once told a group of Kansas lawmakers.

The activities of Phelps' church, unaffiliated with any larger denomination, inspired a federal law and laws in more than 40 states limiting protests and picketing at funerals. He and a daughter were even barred from entering Britain for inciting hatred.

But in a major free-speech ruling in 2011, the U.S. Supreme Court held that the church and its members were protected by the U.S. Constitution's First Amendment and could not be sued for monetary damages for inflicting pain on grieving families.

Yet despite that legal victory, some gay rights advocates believe all the attention Phelps generated served to advance their cause.

Sue Hyde, a staff member at the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, said plenty of churches and ministers preach a message that attacks gay people. But Phelps and his family had "taken this out on the streets," forcing people to confront their own views and rousing a protective instinct in parents and friends of gays and lesbians.

"It's actually a wonderful recruiting tool for a pro-equality, pro-social acceptance movement," she said. "To the Phelps family, that is not particularly important or relevant. They are not there to save us. They are there to advise us that we are doomed."

Once seen as the church's unchallengeable patriarch, Phelps' public visibility waned as he grew older and he became less active in the church's pickets, with daughters Shirley Phelps-Roper and Margie Phelps — an attorney who argued the church's case before the U.S. Supreme Court — most often speaking for Westboro. In the fall of 2013, even they were replaced by a church member not related to Phelps by blood as Westboro's chief spokesman.

In Phelps' later years, the protests themselves were largely ignored or led to counter demonstrations that easily shouted down Westboro's message. A motorcycle group known as the Patriot Guard arose to shield mourners at military funerals from Westboro's notorious signs. At the University of Missouri in 2014, hundreds of students gathered to surround the handful of church members who traveled to the campus after football player Michael Sam came out as gay.

Phelps' final weeks were shrouded in mystery. A long-estranged son, Nate Phelps, said his father had been voted out of the congregation in the summer of 2013 "after some sort of falling out," but the church refused to discuss the matter. Westboro's spokesman would only obliquely acknowledge this month that Phelps had been moved into a care facility because of health problems.

Fred Waldron Phelps was born in Meridian, Miss., on Nov. 13, 1929. He was raised a Methodist and once said he was "happy as a duck" growing up. He was an Eagle Scout, ran track and graduated from high school at age 16.

Selected to attend the U.S. Military Academy, Phelps never made it to West Point. He once said he went to a Methodist revival meeting and felt the calling to preach. Ordained a Baptist minister in 1947, he met his wife after he delivered a sermon in Arizona, and they were married in 1952.

Phelps was a missionary and pastor in the western United States and Canada before settling in Topeka in 1955 and founding his church. He earned his law degree from Washburn University in Topeka in 1964, focused on civil rights issues.

But in 1979, the Kansas Supreme Court stripped him of his license to practice in state courts, concluding he'd made false statements in court documents and "showed little regard" for professional ethics. He called the court corrupt and insisted he saw its action as a badge of honor. He later agreed to stop practicing in federal court, too.

Westboro remained a small church throughout his life, with less than 100 members, most related to the patriarch or one of his 13 children by blood or marriage. Its website says people are free to visit weekly services to get more information, though the congregation can vote at any time to remove a member who they decide is no longer a recipient of God's grace.

The church's building in central Topeka is surrounded by a wooden fence, and family members are neighbors, their yards enclosed by the same style of fence in a manner that suggests a sealed-off compound.

Most of his children were unflinchingly loyal, with some following their father into the law. While some estranged family members reported experiencing severe beatings and verbal abuse as children, the children who defended their father said his discipline was in line with biblical standards and never rose to the level of abuse.

Phelps could at times, in a courtly and scholarly manner, explain his religious beliefs and expound on how he formed them based on his reading of the Bible. He could also belittle those who questioned him and professed not to care whether people liked the message, or even whether they listened. He saw himself as "absolutely 100 percent right."

"Anybody who's going to be preaching the Bible has got to be preaching the same way I'm preaching," he said in 2006.

Despite his avowedly conservative views on social issues, and the early stirrings of the clout Christian evangelicals would enjoy within the Kansas Republican Party, Phelps ran as a Democrat during his brief dabble as a politician. He finished a distant third in the 1990 gubernatorial primary, and later ran unsuccessfully for the U.S. Senate and Topeka mayor.

It was about that time that Westboro's public crusade against homosexuality began. The protests soon widened and came to include funerals of AIDS victims and any other event that would draw a large crowd, from concerts of country singer Vince Gill to the Academy Awards.

He reserved special scorn for conservative ministers who preached that homosexuality was a sin but that God nevertheless loved gays and lesbians. When the Rev. Jerry Falwell died in 2007, Westboro members protested at his funeral with the same sorts of signs they held up outside services a decade earlier for Matthew Shepard, a gay University of Wyoming student who was beaten to death in 1998.

"They're all going to hell," Phelps said in a 2005 interview of Christians who refuse to condemn gay people as he did.

It wasn't just the message, but also the mocking tone that many found to be deliberately cruel. Led by Phelps, church members thanked God for roadside explosive devices and prayed for thousands more casualties, calling the deaths of military personnel killed in the Middle East a divine punishment for a nation it believed was doomed by its tolerance for gay people.

State and federal legislators responded by enacting restrictions on such protests. A Pennsylvania man whose 20-year-old Marine son died in 2006 sued the church after it picketed the son's funeral and initially won $11 million. In an 8-1 ruling, the U.S. Supreme Court declared in 2011 that the First Amendment protects even such "hurtful" speech, though it undoubtedly added to the father's "already incalculable grief."

"The Westboro Baptist Church is probably the vilest hate group in the United the State of America," Heidi Beirich, research director for the Montgomery, Ala.-based Southern Poverty Law Center, told The Associated Press in July 2011. "No one is spared, and they find people at their worst, most terrible moments of grief, and they throw this hate in their faces. It's so low."
7  Getbig Main Boards / Politics and Political Issues Board / Re: Life after defeat for Mitt Romney & the GOP on: March 18, 2014, 04:16:46 PM
Maybe Mitt should run for president again.   Grin

Romney Continues to Nip At Obama's Heels
by Alan Colmes

Mitt Romney, rather than gracefully accepting defeat, continues to let us know he would have been a better president. Ann Romney, too, has expended energy bashing President Obama, ungraciously. Now comes a Wall Street Journal op-ed via Mitt Romney telling us what a failed leader the president is.

Why, across the world, are America's hands so tied?

A large part of the answer is our leader's terrible timing. In virtually every foreign-affairs crisis we have faced these past five years, there was a point when America had good choices and good options. There was a juncture when America had the potential to influence events. But we failed to act at the propitious point; that moment having passed, we were left without acceptable options...

President Obama and Secretary of State Clinton traveled the world in pursuit of their promise to reset relations and to build friendships across the globe. Their failure has been painfully evident: It is hard to name even a single country that has more respect and admiration for America today than when President Obama took office, and now Russia is in Ukraine. Part of their failure, I submit, is due to their failure to act when action was possible, and needed.

Okay, Mitt and Ann. We get it. Obama sucks, Hillary Clinton sucks in advance of 2016, and you would have made a much better President and First Lady. It's heartbreaking, obviously, to lose the presidency. But if you care about your country more than your bitter loss, perhaps you might consider what signal you're sending out when you tell everyone what a weak failure our Commander-in-Chief is. Thankfully, we live in country, unlike Russia, where we have First Amendment rights. You also have the right to just shut up.
8  Getbig Alternative Boards / Relationship Talk, Questions, Pictures & More! (18+) / Re: Homosexuality 101 on: March 17, 2014, 08:41:34 PM
Little sorrow seen as anti-gay preacher Phelps said to be near death
By Matt Pearce; March 17, 2014, 7:51 p.m.

Fred Phelps, Sr. -- the 84-year-old founder of one of the most-hated churches in America and possibly the world -- has been placed in hospice and could be at "the edge of death," according to an estranged son.

The lack of public sorrow over this news has been frequent and unapologetic, for reasons obvious to anyone who has been forced to pay attention to Phelps and the legacy he is expected to leave behind.

Since 1991, under Phelps' direction, the Topeka, Kan.-based Westboro Baptist Church has picketed the funerals of soldiers and prayed for the death of more, and has held up signs saying "God Hates Fags."

This year alone, church members -- manning a characteristically fast-moving PR operation with an eye for buzzy news -- have taken the time both to protest a popular gay football player and to praise the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 as "a righteous work of God."

That jet had 239 lives aboard, but no matter. In fact, that's part of the church's point. Phelps, a former civil rights attorney who fought for African Americans in the 1960s before leaving law, spent the 1990s and 2000s perfecting the art of trolling before the term developed its current meaning -- intentional provocation for the sake of getting attention.

From a modest white church building in Topeka, outrage itself was harnessed in tens of thousands of protests to evangelize for Phelps' rigid and unforgiving Calvinist ideology and to spread his fears that God might destroy mankind for its tolerance of gays. "WBC believes this gospel message to be this world's last hope," the church says on its website.

The demonstrators have tested the boundaries of the United States' relatively radical free-speech laws, with some success. As a result, Phelps' church has become a background noise many Americans have gotten used to tuning out.

Some of that boiled-up resentment began to emerge on Sunday, when Phelps' estranged son, Nathan Phelps, who himself became an LGBT advocate after running away from the church, revealed that his father was not only dying, but had been excommunicated by his own followers.

"God may forgive Fred Phelps Sr., but society doesn’t have to," read the headline of a Kansas City Star editorial from Yael T. Abouhalkah, who wrote: "It will be difficult to forget the legacy of Fred Phelps Sr. Some people will do exactly as their god commands them and forgive Phelps for his wayward behavior. Others won’t, and for good reasons."

Over at Salon, Mary Elizabeth Williams added, "There’s a saying that goes, 'Live your life so the Westboro Baptist Church will want to picket your funeral.' But when the time comes, who will be there for Fred Phelps’?"

The answer, it turns out, might be nobody. "We don't worship the dead in this church, so there'd be no public memorial or funeral to picket if any member died," one church member wrote on Twitter back in February.

In response to a squall of media queries over the past two days, the church released a statement about Phelps in the form of a Q&A whose tone was less sorrowful than dismissive.

Q: Is Fred Phelps near death?

A: Fred Phelps is a person of advanced age, and such people sometimes have health issues. Fred Phelps has health issues, but the idea that someone would suggest that he is near death, is not only highly speculative, but foolish considering that all such matters are the sole prerogative of God...

Q: Has Fred Phelps been ‘excluded’ from membership at Westboro Baptist Church?

A: Membership issues are private.

And so it seems to have fallen to Phelps' castaways to show concern for the man, to the extent possible.

"I'm not sure how I feel about this," Phelps' son Nathan wrote in his Facebook post, adding that Phelps' remaining family had "blocked" estranged relatives from seeing the clan's patriarch. "Terribly ironic that his devotion to his god ends this way. Destroyed by the monster he made. I feel sad for all the hurt he's caused so many."

Another former church member, Lauren Drain, wrote that she was "devastated" by the news, adding, "I pray that despite all the many families & people affected by the WBC, that they will not have vengeance in their heart, but rather pity."

Turning the other cheek appeared to be the decision made by Phelps' longtime foes at Equality Kansas, an LGBT group that has known Westboro Baptist's vitriol up close for decades, from the time Phelps began cheering on AIDS to kill more people.

“We’ve spent over 20 years asking the Phelps followers to respect our privacy when we lay our loved ones to rest," Thomas Witt, executive director of Equality Kansas, told a local radio reporter. "I think, and my board thinks, that it would be hypocritical of us to respond in any other way."
9  Getbig Main Boards / Politics and Political Issues Board / Re: Supreme Court Affirms Right to Gay Marriage on: February 20, 2014, 02:16:51 PM
Part of Kentucky Marriage Law Overturned

A federal judge in Kentucky on Wednesday struck down a portion of the state’s constitutional ban on same-sex marriage, ruling that Kentucky must recognize marriages that have been performed legally in other states.

The decision was handed down on the same day that same-sex couples filed  lawsuits in state court in Missouri and federal court in Louisiana,  and a federal judge in Texas conducted a hearing in a lawsuit seeking to strike down that state’s prohibition on same-sex marriages.

The Missouri and Louisiana lawsuits are similar to the successful Kentucky legal challenge: Same-sex couples in those states are seeking legal recognition of marriages performed in states or countries that allow them.

In the Texas hearing, two gay and lesbian couples who sued the state over its same-sex marriage ban asked a federal judge to order the state to stop enforcing the ban temporarily, while the case went forward. But Judge Orlando L. Garcia of United States District Court for the Western District of Texas made no ruling. It was unclear when he would issue a decision.

In November 2005, Texas voters approved an amendment to the state Constitution defining marriage as between a man and a woman. Proposition 2, as it was known, passed with roughly 76 percent of the vote. In addition, state lawmakers passed similar laws in 1997 and 2003 that banned gay marriage and prohibited Texas from recognizing same-sex marriages performed in other states.

In the Kentucky ruling , Judge John G. Heyburn II struck down portions of the state law after lawsuits by four gay and lesbian couples challenged the legality of a provision of the state’s 2004 same-sex marriage ban that extended the prohibition to marriages performed in other states. The lawsuits did not address the state’s same sex-marriage ban as a whole.

The couples had been legally married, in California, Connecticut, Iowa and Ontario. They argued that Kentucky’s prohibition prevented them from enjoying the same level of benefits — including health care and spousal death benefits — that heterosexual married couples did.

The state had argued that limiting marriage to a man and a woman was part of the state’s tradition.

Judge Heyburn wrote, however, that the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment trumped custom.

“For years, many states had a tradition of segregation and even articulated reasons why it created a better, more stable society,” he wrote in the decision. “In time, even the most strident supporters of these views understood that they could not enforce their particular moral views to the detriment of another’s constitutional rights. Here as well, sometime in the not too distant future, the same understanding will come to pass.”

10  Getbig Main Boards / Politics and Political Issues Board / Re: Supreme Court Affirms Right to Gay Marriage on: February 13, 2014, 09:41:05 PM
I made this argument about equal protection years ago. It's nice to see the courts are finally catching up.  Roll Eyes

Federal judge strikes down Va. ban on gay marriage
By Robert Barnes, Updated: Thursday, February 13, 8:10 PM

A federal judge in Norfolk struck down Virginia’s ban on same-sex marriage Thursday night, saying it violates the constitution’s guarantee of equal protection.

U.S. District Judge Arenda L. Wright Allen stayed her decision so that it can be appealed, and so same-sex marriages in the commonwealth will not begin immediately. Virginia Attorney General Mark R. Herring (D), who had switched the state’s legal position on the issue and joined two gay couples in asking that the ban be struck down, has said the state will continue to enforce the ban until the legal process is over.

“Gay and lesbian individuals share the same capacity as heterosexual individuals to form, preserve and celebrate loving, intimate and lasting relationships,” Wright Allen wrote. “Such relationships are created through the exercise of sacred, personal choices — choices, like the choices made by every other citizen, that must be free from unwarranted government interference.”

Wright Allen opened her decision with a quote from Mildred Loving, who was at the center of the Virginia case that the Supreme Court used in 1967 to strike down laws banning interracial marriage.

Wright Allen added: “Tradition is revered in the Commonwealth, and often rightly so. However, tradition alone cannot justify denying same-sex couples the right to marry any more than it could justify Virginia’s ban on interracial marriage.”

At issue in the case is a question the Supreme Court justices left unanswered in June in their first consideration of gay marriage: Does a state’s traditional role in defining marriage mean it may ban same-sex unions without violating the equal protection and due process rights of gay men and lesbians?

“The legitimate purposes proffered by the Proponents for the challenged laws—to promote conformity to the traditions and heritage of a majority of Virginia’s citizens, to perpetuate a generally-recognized deference to the state’s will pertaining to domestic relations laws, and, finally, to endorse “responsible procreation”—share no rational link with Virginia Marriage Laws being challenged,” the judge wrote: “The goal and the result of this legislation is to deprive Virginia’s gay and lesbian citizens of the opportunity and right to choose to celebrate, in marriage, a loving, rewarding, monogamous relationship with a partner to whom they are committed for life. These results occur without furthering any legitimate state purpose.”

The case in Wright Allen’s courtroom marked the first time such a challenge has advanced so far in a state that was part of the Old South.

Herring infuriated Republicans and conservatives in the state when he decided soon after taking office last month that he would not defend the ban.

The law was defended last week in a hearing before Wright Allen by lawyers representing circuit court clerks in Norfolk and Prince William County, who issue marriage licenses.

The decision will be appealed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit in Richmond and join a line of cases that could allow a final decision by the Supreme Court.

The lawsuit was brought on behalf of two Virginia couples. Timothy Bostic and Tony London have lived together for more than 20 years and were denied a marriage license last summer by the Norfolk Circuit Court clerk. Mary Townley and Carol Schall of Chesterfield County were married in California and have a teenage daughter. They want Virginia to recognize their marriage.

Wright Allen’s decision was similar to what federal judges in Utah and Oklahoma have used in striking down same-sex marriage bans in those states. Same-sex marriages took place in Utah, but both decisions are now stayed pending appeal.

Another judge in Kentucky this week said that state must recognize same-sex marriage performed in other states.

The highest courts in New Jersey and New Mexico have held that same-sex couples have the right to be married there. Seventeen states, including Maryland but not counting Utah and Oklahoma, now allow such unions.

It is the most important decision in the young judicial career of Wright Allen, who was confirmed to the bench in 2011. She is a Navy veteran who has served as both a prosecutor and federal public defender. She was nominated by President Obama on the recommendation of Sen. Mark R. Warner (D) and then-Sen. James Webb (D).

11  Getbig Main Boards / General Topics / Re: The Good Life on: February 02, 2014, 04:11:57 PM
Have you spent much time in Hawaii?  We go there pretty regularly.  I snapped these pix on the Big island when I stuck my camera out of the window...  Given the range of water options there, Hawaii is one of my favorite places.  Not sure I would be happy living there though...  Undecided
12  Getbig Main Boards / General Topics / Re: The Good Life on: February 02, 2014, 03:54:27 PM


Did you retire?

When I retire, I will not come back.  Wink
13  Getbig Main Boards / Gossip & Opinions / Re: Senseless Anabolichalo Ramblings on: February 02, 2014, 08:58:13 AM
How about with an awkwardly older schmoe?

Nobody's looking for the truth in this thread.

14  Getbig Main Boards / General Topics / Re: The Good Life on: February 02, 2014, 07:39:35 AM
Just back from a month in Florida and the Keys.  Life is good.  Cool
15  Getbig Main Boards / Politics and Political Issues Board / Re: Life after defeat for Mitt Romney & the GOP on: February 02, 2014, 07:34:03 AM
Republicans face 2016 turmoil
By Karen Tumulty and Robert Costa

As Republicans look ahead to the 2016 presidential race, they are hoping to avoid the kind of chaotic and protracted nominating battle that dismayed party elders and damaged the eventual candidacy of Mitt Romney.

That, however, could be a hard thing to prevent.

The party is divided and in turmoil, with a civil war raging between its establishment and insurgent factions. For the first time in memory, there is no obvious early favorite — no candidate with wide appeal who has run before, no incumbent president or vice president, no clear establishment pick.

Meanwhile, an enormous number of potential contenders are looking at the race, including, perhaps, a return of virtually everyone who ran in 2012. Come this time next year, 15 or more of them could be traveling the early primary states, jockeying for attention and money.

The Republican National Committee is doing its best to prevent a replay of the spectacle of 2012, which saw one candidate after another pop up as a mortal threat to the front-runner. Late last month, the RNC began putting into place rules that would shorten the primary season and make it begin later.

This is a party that used to pick its standard-bearer in a relatively orderly fashion, notwithstanding the occasional slip on the ice of Iowa or New Hampshire. “Typically, Republicans have a front-runner, and the front-runner wins,” said Haley Barbour, the former Mississippi governor and RNC chairman.

But two years out from the Iowa caucuses, the Democrats are the ones who are closing ranks. The latest Washington Post/ABC News poll shows presumed contender Hillary Rodham Clinton holding the support of 73 percent of those likely to vote Democratic. In the poll’s 30-year history, no one has ever had such a strong grip on the party at this early point.

On the Republican side, things are so wide open that even 2012 nominee Romney is getting another look, although the former Massachusetts governor recently told the New York Times: “Oh, no, no, no. No, no, no, no, no. No, no, no.”

That, apparently, was not definite enough for some.

“I’ve had one or two semi-serious conversations about whether it could happen,” said Lanhee Chen, Romney’s former policy adviser, who noted the recent release of a documentary showing Romney in a new light. “The overwhelming consensus is ‘probably not,’ but it’s not completely far-fetched.”

Romney’s running mate, Rep. Paul Ryan (Wis.), is expected to stay in the House in the coming years, with the chairmanship of the Ways and Means Committee or the speaker’s gavel on the horizon. But he told CNN, “I’m not closing my options.”

Nor, it seems, is anyone else...
16  Getbig Main Boards / General Topics / Re: Netflix on: January 31, 2014, 12:47:20 PM
they should charge $30 a month and have every good movie & series.  Would totally be worth it.

What they can have, when, and for how long is dictated by the movie studios.  When you think of what it costs to go to the movies these days, Netflix is still a great value at their current rates.
17  Getbig Main Boards / Gossip & Opinions / Re: Noro virus on: January 31, 2014, 12:33:17 PM
We're all infected

Speak for yourself!  Grin
18  Getbig Alternative Boards / More Explicit Sex Board / Re: Dan Steele (schmoe) on: January 29, 2014, 11:49:44 AM
Steele, who made dozens of straight porn films before he started cultivating gay fans with his muscled physique, passed away a few months ago at age 53.  Cry

His straight filmography is here

Real name Daniel Mead
19  Getbig Main Boards / General Topics / Re: Netflix on: January 18, 2014, 01:48:36 PM
Bay seemed to call this one.

I don't see it as worth the 189 dollars a share it is, but it keeps climbing.

I wonder if it's institutional investors or what, but it hasn't shown much slowdown since we talked about it months ago.

Good call Bay.

Since you posted this message on March 29, 2013 (when Netflix was trading at $189) it has gone up more than 100%.  On December 23 it hit $380; it has since come down to $330.  I am still a happy Netflix customer but if you own the stock I would sell it right now, as I expect it to deflate in the quarters ahead.
20  Getbig Main Boards / Politics and Political Issues Board / Re: Life after defeat for Mitt Romney & the GOP on: January 18, 2014, 12:58:43 PM
‘MITT’ documentary offers rare, intimate look at Mitt Romney’s six-year quest for presidency
By Philip Rucker

SALT LAKE CITY — A few hours earlier, Mitt Romney was marveling at his big crowds and chewing over lines in his victory speech. But now, in a Boston hotel suite, the camera zooms in on a roomful of family and advisers. The would-be president is on the couch, an iPad on his lap, and asking, “So what do you think you say in a concession speech?”


His wife, Ann, arrives and sits down next to him. “What’s going on?”

“We’re writing a concession speech,” Mitt says.

“It’s finished?” she asks.

“My time on the stage is over, guys,” the Republican nominee says.

Ann stares ahead, stricken. Their sons are in disbelief. The grandkids are crying. The nation, the Romneys are learning, had rejected them.

The dramatic collapse of Romney’s six-year quest for the presidency is revealed in a new documentary, “MITT,” a rare, intimate look into how a family endures the 24-7 psycho-drama that is a modern U.S. presidential campaign.

The film, which premiered here Friday night as part of the Sundance Film Festival and will be available on Netflix starting Jan. 24, provides a stark contrast to the stilted, robotic caricature of Romney the politician. It shows him as a three-dimensional figure — devoted to the Mormon faith that he played down on the campaign trail, capable of flashes of raw emotion and often harboring doubts about his political abilities.

The documentary captures the Romney family in moments of hopeful prayer and tearful anguish. There are glimmers of joy and celebration, but more often there are fatigue and frustration. “How many more debates do I have to go to?” Mitt blurts out at one point.

Filmmaker Greg Whiteley gained extraordinary access to the Romneys, capturing them during private moments — in hotel rooms, vans, planes, hallways and elevators — at critical junctures of Romney’s 2008 and 2012 campaigns.

In 2009, after viewing Whiteley’s footage from the first campaign, Romney’s campaign advisers would not allow him to release the film. But now that Romney has run his last campaign, the family gave Whiteley its blessing. Romney and his family convened Friday night at the Rose Wagner Performing Arts Center for the film’s first public screening.

The documentary reveals a human, sometimes playful side of Romney that his campaign largely kept buttoned up. He laughs and he cries. He kneels down to pray and he comforts his crying wife in his lap. He calls his large extended family “the gopher village” and scoops up his grandchildren in monster hugs.

He goes sledding wearing gloves held together with duct tape, and he places a hot iron to his wrist to straighten out his tuxedo shirt cuff. He bickers with son Tagg about whether the Delta Shuttle terminal at New York’s LaGuardia Airport contains a large food court. (Tagg was right; it does not.) As his face is applied with television makeup, he quips, “Be careful not to break my hair.”

In 2008, when adviser Beth Myers tells him he won the primary in his native Michigan, he’s wearing only a bathrobe. “We won one!” he exclaims. “Can you believe it?”

The film also shows Romney’s imperfections. On stage, he’s a sunny optimist (“Believe in America” was his slogan). But in private, he’s gloomier, predicting the worst outcomes. When he returned backstage following his second debate with President Obama — the one where he flubbed an answer about the Benghazi attacks — his family tells him he did a good job, but Romney rolls his eyes and shakes his head.

“I’ll bet it’s 70-30 in the polls,” he says. “80-20? 90-10?”

Romney gets testy in 2008 when David Chalian of ABC News explains the “dining room table conversation” concept of that night’s debate. “A dining room conversation is among members of the family,” Romney says, getting hot. “These are all people competing for the same job, all right?”

Romney also is obsessed with his caricature from the 2008 campaign — “The Flippin’ Mormon,” he says over and over again. He solicits advice from his team. “I won’t fix the Mormon side,” he says. Of the “flip-flopper” label, he says: “There’s nothing I can do. ‘He was at Burger King last night, McDonald’s the night before.’ . . . It’s so damaging to me.”

But “MITT” is not a film about campaign strategy. Little time is spent on issues such as Romney’s “47 percent” comments and the ensuing damage to his campaign, although one scene shows Romney rehearsing lines about it as Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) stands in for Obama.

Mostly, the film is about the Romney family’s travails — starting around Christmas 2006, when Romney grabs a legal pad and convenes a family meeting around the fire at his Utah ski chalet to chart the pros and cons of running for president.

“You’d be bald in about a month,” son Josh says. Josh’s wife, holding a baby, says, “I think emotionally it would just be hard on everybody.”

Says eldest son Tagg: “If you don’t win, we’ll still love you. The country may think of you as a laughingstock, and we’ll know the truth.”

On Oct. 3, 2012, the night of his first debate with Obama, Romney whistles around his Denver hotel suite picking up trash after his grandkids. He scarfs down a bowl of takeout pasta. “Get a little something in your tummy,” Ann instructs him.

“So,” Romney asks her, “any advice?”

Ann takes a long pause. “Conviction from your heart as to why you’re running,” she says. “Conviction that this country’s on the wrong course and that you are able to put it on the right one. Conviction. Complete power from within your heart. That’s all.”

Son Matt asks whether Obama intimidates him. “Sure. Are you kidding?” Romney says. Ann interjects sternly: “You should not be intimidated by him. I’m not joking, Mitt. You should not be — at all.”

The debate later that night would become the finest moment of his campaign.

At a fundraiser, Romney raises his hand and makes an “L” shape over his forehead, a forecast of what might happen. “Loser for life,” he says. “Mike Dukakis — you know, he can’t get a job mowing lawns.”

Fast forward to Nov. 6, 2012, when Romney and his family gather at a Westin in Boston to watch their White House dreams evaporate, swing state by swing state.

Only a few hours earlier, Romney is so sure of winning that he reads aloud lines of his victory speech: “. . . that freedom so integral to the American experience will again propel us forward to new heights of discovery, to new horizons of opportunity and to new dimensions of prosperity.”

A wrenching scene plays out in the hotel suite that night. Son Ben is on a laptop in the corner studying vote tallies. Granddaughter Chloe breaks the news that Wisconsin is gone. “It’s down to Ohio, folks,” Romney concludes.

Campaign manager Matt Rhoades comes in to say that they’ve come up short there, too. He says adviser Ed Gillespie — now a U.S. Senate candidate in Virginia — called Karl Rove to tell him that the Ohio numbers won’t add up and to back down on Fox News.

With Romney pondering his concession speech, Stuart Stevens, the campaign’s chief strategist, suggests he play “a pastoral role, not a political role, and that part of what you’re [doing] I think is soothing people.”

Romney isn’t having any of it. “To get up and soothe is not my inclination,” he says. He is fearful the country will reach “the tipping point” and fall into decline under Obama. So he writes a quick speech saying that his “principles endure” and that he and Ann will “earnestly pray” for Obama and for the nation.

“We’re 593 words,” Romney says. “That’s about six minutes.”

Two days later, Mitt and Ann drive themselves home. They pull into the garage of their Belmont, Mass., townhouse, take off their jackets and head into the living room.

For the first time in forever, nobody else is around. Mitt just stares out the window, and Ann, looking at him, simply sighs.
21  Getbig Main Boards / Politics and Political Issues Board / Re: Supreme Court Affirms Right to Gay Marriage on: December 31, 2013, 06:17:52 PM
Utah Asks Highest Court To Suspend Gay Marriage

DENVER — Less than two weeks after a federal judge cleared the way for gay couples to wed in Utah, leaders from the socially conservative state on Tuesday asked the United States Supreme Court to halt the tide of same-sex marriages.

The move comes as Utah appeals a Dec. 20 ruling that overturned its voter-approved ban on same-sex marriage. While gay couples across Utah said the decision gave them a foothold as equal citizens of their state, state officials said the decision, by Judge Robert J. Shelby of Federal District Court in Salt Lake City, had created chaos while undercutting Utah’s right to limit marriage to one man and one woman.

In their filing on Tuesday, Utah officials said the state would suffer serious harm as same-sex marriages continued in county courthouses and government buildings across the state. Each one is “an affront to the sovereignty of the state and its people,” and “openly flouts” Utah’s ability to define what constitutes a marriage inside its borders, the state wrote.

Utah’s request landed on the desk of Justice Sonia Sotomayor, who handles cases in Utah and other Rocky Mountain States. She could rule on the state’s request for a stay, but is expected to refer the matter to the entire court. The justices could rule within days.

Justice Sotomayor ordered the other side in the case — three gay couples who sued to challenge Utah’s 2004 ban on same-sex marriage — to file their response to Utah’s stay request by noon on Friday.

Utah has already twice tried and failed to suspend the unions while it appeals Judge Shelby’s decision. He ruled that the ban was unconstitutional and denied gay couples equal protection under the law and their “fundamental right” to marriage.

His ruling appeared to catch Utah officials off guard, and they hurried to request a stay of his decision as hundreds of gay couples poured into government offices to get married. Judge Shelby refused to suspend his ruling, and the Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit, in Denver, also declined to block the marriages.

That has allowed approximately 900 same-sex couples to marry in less than two weeks, a tidal shift in a heavily Mormon state where same-sex marriage is opposed by many Republican leaders and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

But on Tuesday, Utah again raised the specter that those new unions could be dissolved.

If Utah ultimately prevails in its legal fight, it said it would face the “thorny problem of whether and how to unwind” the new marriages. The state said its burden would increase with additional marriages. Government offices have already started to provide marital benefits to same-sex couples, and advocates for gay rights say that dissolving hundreds of unions would have profound effects on health insurance, parental rights, hospital visits and many other aspects of life for Utah’s gay residents.

The state said it was asking for a stay in part to protect gay couples, saying they would suffer financial harm and a loss of dignity if their marriages were voided on appeal.
22  Getbig Womens Area / Open Talk for Girl Discussion / Re: Eliot & Silda Spitzer on: December 24, 2013, 10:22:42 PM
Spitzer and wife announce marriage ends

NEW YORK (AP) — Former New York governor Eliot Spitzer and his wife announced late Tuesday that their two-decade-plus marriage is over.

The couple issued a statement announcing the split, saying "We regret that our marital relationship has come to an end and we have agreed not to make any other public statement on this subject."

Spitzer and his wife, Silda Wall Spitzer, were married in 1987 and she supported his rise from state's attorney general to governor. They have three grown children.

She stood by his side in 2008 when Spitzer resigned after admitting he paid for sex with prostitutes, but largely stepped out of the public eye after that. A former corporate lawyer, she went to work in the business world.

Spitzer attempted a political comeback this year by running for city comptroller but lost in the Democratic primary.

Wall Spitzer did not campaign publically for him. They have been living apart for months.
23  Getbig Main Boards / Politics and Political Issues Board / Re: Supreme Court Affirms Right to Gay Marriage on: December 24, 2013, 03:54:08 AM
Supreme Court's same-sex marriage ruling ripples through lower courts
Gay marriage activists are winning more cases in lower courts since the Supreme Court struck down part of the Defense of Marriage Act.
By Matt Pearce

Same-sex marriage is picking up steam in the courts. A federal judge ordered Ohio on Monday to recognize gay marriages on death certificates, but used broad language that could be cited to mount a broader challenge to the law barring such unions.

It was the third judicial decision in the last week favoring same-sex marriage rights. In Utah, a federal judge struck down a gay marriage ban
Friday and refused to suspend his decision Monday. A federal appellate court also rejected Utah's plea to put his ruling on hold.

And on Thursday, the New Mexico Supreme Court formally recognized same-sex marriage, which is now legal in 17 states and the District of Columbia.

The scenarios must have sounded all too familiar to U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia. In June, when the court issued a landmark decision ordering the federal government to recognize same-sex marriages performed in states where they were legal, Scalia warned of what could come next.

"How easy it is, indeed how inevitable, to reach the same conclusion with regard to state laws denying same-sex couples marital status," Scalia wrote in a scathing dissent in United States vs. Windsor, which struck down part of the federal Defense of Marriage Act but left state laws intact. "No one should be fooled; it is just a matter of listening and waiting for the other shoe" to drop.

Now, for opponents of same-sex marriage, the other shoe is dropping.

"We're on a roll!" said Jon Davidson, legal director of Lambda Legal, an advocacy group that has been handling cases against same-sex marriage bans across the country. "Three work days in a row, we've had victories," and all of them cite the Supreme Court's Defense of Marriage Act ruling.

In the most recent decision, U.S. District Judge Timothy S. Black ruled in Cincinnati that Ohio had to recognize a gay couple as spouses on one of the men's death certificate. Ohio bans same-sex marriage, so the pair had flown to Maryland while one of the men was terminally ill and wed on an airport tarmac.

Although Black's decision applied only to death certificates for couples married out of state, his ruling criticized Ohio's same-sex marriage ban and opened a door for other couples to challenge the law more broadly.

Alphonse Gerhardstein, a civil rights lawyer in Cincinnati who handled the case, said the Defense of Marriage Act ruling was central to his attack on Ohio's ban.

"I just took that same argument and went to Ohio and said, 'How can you now refuse to recognize marriages from other states if the federal government can't do it?'" Gerhardstein said. The Defense of Marriage Act ruling "is a huge engine behind this."

At least two federal judges, in their rulings on state bans, have cited Scalia's warning that the Supreme Court's ruling would ripple through the U.S.

"Now it is just as Justice Scalia predicted," Black wrote in his Ohio ruling. "The lower courts are applying the Supreme Court's decision, as they must, and the question is presented whether a state can do what the federal government cannot — i.e., discriminate against same-sex couples. ... Under the Constitution of the United States, the answer is no."

A similar decision Friday in Utah resulted in the state's ban on same-sex marriage being thrown out. Gay and lesbian couples flocked to wed as Utah officials scrambled to challenge U.S. District Judge Robert J. Shelby's ruling, which quoted and embraced Scalia's warning.

"The court agrees with Justice Scalia's interpretation," Shelby, a President Obama appointee, wrote, perhaps ironically, given that Scalia had criticized the Supreme Court's ruling as an overreach. Shelby said worries about overriding Utah's constitution and Legislature were "insufficient to save a state-law prohibition that denies the plaintiffs their rights to due process under the law."

The New Mexico Supreme Court did not cite the Defense of Marriage Act ruling so heavily. But it did follow a similar argument, ruling that denying same-sex couples the right to marry violated the state's equal-protection laws.

And in September, a New Jersey Superior Court judge said the ruling gave the state's same-sex civil unions "new significance" now that federal agencies were granting benefits only to couples who were formally married. The judge struck down the state's ban on gay marriage, and Republican Gov. Chris Christie withdrew his appeal of the ruling to the state's Supreme Court.

David Cruz, professor of law at the USC Gould School of Law, said judges now seemed more likely to expand upon the Supreme Court's ruling in favor of same-sex marriage.

"Part of what we're seeing is that, culturally, the judiciary — both federal and state judges — are more receptive to the logical, principle-based arguments that same-sex couples have been seeking for the right to marry since the very beginning of the 1970s," Cruz said.

In doing so, judges have overridden legislators and voters who had approved the bans before national popular opinion began to tilt in favor of same-sex marriage.

"It is patently wrong and unjust that the people of Utah should lose their right to define marriage because of the ruling of a single Obama appointee to the federal bench," said Brian S. Brown, president of the National Organization for Marriage, which opposes same-sex marriage.

"It roils the body politic and does great damage to the people's confidence in the judicial system itself as a lone federal judge attempts to usurp the sovereignty of the state," Brown added in a statement, calling for the U.S. 10th Circuit Court of Appeals to halt same-sex marriages in Utah while the state appeals. The 10th Circuit has twice denied the state's emergency requests.

But the idea that a judge should not settle such a controversial question resonated with Gerhardstein, the Ohio lawyer.

"In the end, social change is best generated with public support," he said, which is why the Ohio lawsuit addressed only death certificates rather than the right to same-sex marriage.

"That would be wonderful if Ohio would take that opportunity to go ahead and repeal [the ban], because then you would have a stronger and more robust protection for the minority," he said.
24  Getbig Main Boards / Politics and Political Issues Board / Re: Kim Jong-un's ex-girlfriend reportedly executed by firing squad on: August 30, 2013, 08:13:16 AM
Your Soul Crusher persona is even more of a moron than 333386

25  Getbig Main Boards / Politics and Political Issues Board / Re: Supreme Court Affirms Right to Gay Marriage on: August 30, 2013, 06:32:11 AM
Gay Marriages Get Recognition From the I.R.S.

WASHINGTON — All same-sex couples who are legally married will be recognized as such for federal tax purposes, even if the state where they live does not recognize their union, the Treasury Department and the Internal Revenue Service said Thursday.

It is the broadest federal rule change to come out of the landmark Supreme Court decision in June that struck down the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act, and a sign of how quickly the government is moving to treat gay couples in the same way that it does straight couples.

The June decision found that same-sex couples were entitled to federal benefits, but left open the question of how Washington would actually administer them. The Treasury Department answered some of those questions on Thursday. As of the 2013 tax year, same-sex spouses who are legally married will not be able to file federal tax returns as if either were single. Instead, they must file together as “married filing jointly” or individually as “married filing separately.”

Their address or the location of their wedding does not matter, as long as the marriage is legal: a same-sex couple who marry in Albany, N.Y., and move to Alabama are treated the same as a same-sex couple who marry and live in Massachusetts.

“Today’s ruling provides certainty and clear, coherent tax-filing guidance for all legally married same-sex couples nationwide,” Treasury Secretary Jacob J. Lew said. “This ruling also assures legally married same-sex couples that they can move freely throughout the country knowing that their federal filing status will not change.”

Gay and civil rights groups praised the ruling. “Committed and loving gay and lesbian married couples will now be treated equally under our nation’s federal tax laws, regardless of what state they call home,” said Chad Griffin, the president of the Human Rights Campaign. “These families finally have access to crucial tax benefits and protections previously denied to them under the discriminatory Defense of Marriage Act.” 

But the Treasury decision could have ramifications for many gay couples’ tax liabilities, said Roberton Williams of the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center in Washington. Couples with similar incomes often pay the “marriage penalty,” with their tax liability as a couple being much higher than it would be if they were single. 

At the same time, same-sex couples will also be able to file amended returns for certain prior tax years, meaning that many couples might be eligible for refunds. Couples do not have to file amended returns if they do not want to, a senior Treasury official said, meaning that couples who might pay the marriage penalty would not owe back taxes.

But the ruling creates complications for same-sex couples who live in any of the 37 states that do not recognize their marriages. Previously, such couples filed federal and state tax returns as individuals. Now, they will have to file their federal returns as other married couples do, but may be required to file their state returns as individuals.

“There’s going to be a cumbersome workaround,” said Nanette Lee Miller of Marcum L.L.P., a public accounting firm. She sees it as a paperwork bother more than a financial issue.

States might also respond to the federal ruling with changes of their own. “Most state income tax regimes begin with federal taxable income as the starting point,” Marvin Kirsner, a tax lawyer at Greenberg Traurig, said in an e-mail. “These state taxing authorities will have to figure out how to deal with a same-sex married couple who file a joint income tax return for federal tax purposes.” He added,

“We will need to see guidance from each nonrecognition state to see how this will be handled.”

The rule change is likely to provide a small increase for federal revenue, as more same-sex couples pay the marriage penalty, Mr. Williams said, describing it as a “rounding error.” But it would be partly offset by new federal spending on benefits for same-sex spouses.

The ruling applies to all legal marriages made in the United States or foreign countries. But it does not extend to civil unions, registered domestic partnerships or other legal relationships, the Treasury said.

The Treasury ruling is one of many that are starting to emerge from all corners of the federal government as Washington changes regulations to conform with the Supreme Court decision.

Separately, the Health and Human Services Department said Thursday that Medicare would extend certain key benefits to same-sex spouses, “clarifying that all beneficiaries in private Medicare plans have access to equal coverage when it comes to care in a nursing home where their spouse lives.”

But federal agencies are not moving in lock step. Instead, they are creating a patchwork of regulations affecting gay and lesbian couples — and may be raising questions about discrimination and fairness in the way that federal benefits are distributed.

Medicare and Treasury officials have said they would use a “place of celebration” standard for determining whether gay couples are eligible for benefits. That means same-sex couples would receive benefits as long as they are legally married, regardless of where they live.

But the Social Security Administration is now using a “place of residence” standard in determining spousal benefits, and a gay couple in Alabama might not receive the same benefits as a gay couple in New York until final determinations are made or Congress acts. The Obama administration has pushed federal agencies to ensure the Supreme Court’s ruling is carried out quickly and smoothly.

“It would be nice if they were consistent,” Ms. Miller said. Creating federal regulations is a process and could change, she said.
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