Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Southern Baptist Hypocrisy - Compare Gay Marriage Opposition to Abolition Effort

The shocking hypocrisy of the Southern Baptist Convention ("SBC") knows no bounds.  How else to explain the statement made at a panel discussion held at the Southern Baptist Convention's Ethics & Religious Liberty forum that compared the SBC's fight to block same sex marriage to the abolition movement to end slavery.  The problem is that the Baptists who became the SBC opposed abolition and broke from the rest of the Baptist convention because they sought to continue slavery.  They even claimed that the Bible justified slavery - .i.e., it was "biblical."  Here are more details via Joe Jervis:

Evans, a Christian writer, was tweeting from a panel discussion held at the Southern Baptist Convention's Ethics & Religious Liberty forum. Here's the "ironic" history of how the Southern Baptist Convention came to be:
Largely comprised of slaveholders, the gathering at the First Baptist Church of Augusta, Georgia, in May 1845 publicly pled their case. Slavery was biblical. Therefore abolition was sinful, and Baptists of the North were wrong to oppose slavery. Abolitionists of the North were responsible for the Baptist division; southern Baptists had been patient with the agitators, but enough was enough. Pledging allegiance to slavery, they vowed “we will never interfere with what is Caesar’s” (a biblical allusion implying it was their moral and legal responsibility to uphold the legal institution of slavery). And for good measure, the delegates expressed outrage that a northern Baptist missionary had “actually remitted money to the United States to aid in the assisting of slaves to ‘run away from their masters.’” (See Proceedings of the Southern Baptist Convention, 1845.) From this point forward, white Baptist leaders in the South through the end of the Civil War openly and insistently championed and defended white supremacy and black slavery, along the way migrating into a form of Christian nationalism heretofore foreign to the very Christian denomination that had been the most vocal champions, since the seventeenth century, of the separation of church and state.
Oh, and let's not forget that the SBC strongly opposed desegregation.  One has to wonder why anyone decent and moral pays any attention to these people.  They are liars and bigots and have been since the SBC's founding.

Wednesday Morning Male Beauty

Ted Cruz's Worst Nightmare Is Coming True Obamacare is Working

I view Texas Senator Ted Cruz as at best a demagogue on the style of the late Joseph McCarty - he even bears a resemblance to McCarthy.  Like most of the modern day Pharisees, Cruz talks up religion while backing GOP programs that are the antithesis of the Gospel message.  Now, with Obamacare enrollments above projections, Cruz's nightmare of success of Obamacare may be coming true.  The more Americans that enroll under the Affordable Health Care Act, the more impossible it will be for the GOP to dismantle the program - especially since their only replacement would be a return to the broken system that existed previously.  A piece in Politico looks at what is happening.  Here are excerpts:

Last August, as conservatives barnstormed the country seeking to build support for a cockamamie plan to shut down the U.S. federal government unless Congress voted to repeal the Affordable Care Act, Ted Cruz, the Texas Republican senator, said something surprisingly prescient about the president’s signature health-care law.

“President Obama wants to get as many Americans addicted to the subsidies because he knows that in modern times, no major entitlement has ever been implemented and then unwound,” he said. The worry, according to Cruz, was that once the ACA went into effect, we’d all be “addicted to the sugar.” Then, it would be too late to roll it back.

Cruz’s nightmare, and the left’s long-held dream, has come true. Finally, after years of failed reform efforts, the U.S. government is actually trying to provide affordable health coverage for all. And it’s working, despite Republicans’ relentless attempts to deep-six the law. As a result, the politics of Obamacare will never be the same.

The right’s biggest fear was never really, as Cruz’s comments revealed, that Obamacare wouldn’t succeed. It was that it would.

Americans, it turns out, have a compelling desire for a basic necessity of life: affordable health coverage. That’s why, despite the debacle, and campaigns in red states to discourage enrollment and defund outreach efforts, eight million Americans signed up. Young people ignored tasteless ads and anti-Obamacare campus beer parties, funded by the Koch brothers, to enroll at strong enough rates. Millions more enrolled in Medicaid, even in states that did not expand the program, as awareness of coverage options increased. There is even a big upswing in take-up of employer coverage, despite GOP claims that Obamacare would destroy the employer-based system. The Congressional Budget Office just lowered its estimate of the law’s costs, and overall health-care inflation is at historic lows. It’s been a tough few weeks for the Obamacare-bashers.

In fact, the law’s success reverses the political calculus: Those who advocate repeal can be rightly accused of taking away health coverage from some 15 million Americans. Although some of these are low-income people, less likely to vote, many others are middle-income people who are surprised and relieved at having access to good, affordable health coverage – including, by the way, a lot of Republicans.

Recent polling shows that support for repeal is shrinking to the most conservative voters, key to Republican primaries but not enough to win most statewide general elections. When given a choice of whether to repeal the ACA or keep it intact or with small modifications, a recent Bloomberg poll found, only a third of Americans (34 percent) chose repeal. That’s about the same proportion who have favorable views of the Tea Party.

Which may be why the new anti-ACA ads being run by a Koch brothers-funded group against Democratic Senate candidates in several states do not call for repeal.

For Democrats to take advantage of the ACA’s success on the ground, they must both make it a motivating issue for their base and reach out to independents, who remain skeptical about the law.

In 2010, Democrats made the unforgivable mistake of not answering GOP attacks on Obamacare, mostly aimed at seniors . . . . This year, most Democrats understand that they cannot ignore the issue. We can see a new political strategy emerging in a campaign ad that targets the most important group of voters for Democrats to turn out: women.

Another Democratic pollster, Celinda Lake, recommends that candidates make the failure of some Republican governors and state legislatures to expand Medicaid a central issue. Lake told me that Medicaid is popular with two out of three voters, who are sympathetic to a state-run program and angry that, for partisan reasons, Republicans are allowing their tax dollars go to other states.
There's more in the article.  One can only hope that Democrats will play their cards properly and use Obamacare as a sword against Republicans who are conducting a war on the poor and average Americans.

Judge: Indiana Has ‘No Valid Reason’ To Single Out Same-Sex Marriages

Two Indiana plaintiffs
Things continue to go less than well for Christofascists and Republican officials who oppose marriage equality largely because other than religious based animus, they can show no rational reason for barring only same sex couples from marrying.  In case after case their argument that marriage is procreation has fallen apart and rigged studies slamming gay parenting have been eviscerated in opposing briefs, on the witness stand in cross examination (think Michigan), and in amicus briefs filed by legitimate expert associations.  Thus, it is no surprise that a federal judge in Indian stated that the State of Indiana had proved no "valid reason" for the state's same sex marriage ban.     Here are excerpts from The New Civil Rights Movement:
Earlier this month, Federal Judge Richard Young issued a ruling barring the state of Indiana from enforcing its gay marriage ban against Niki Quasney and Amy Sandler (above) who were married in Massachusetts in 2013.

Although Nikki and Amy are part of a larger group of plaintiffs suing to have their marriages recognized by Indiana, they argued they had an “urgent need” for legal recognition because Nikki has fourth stage ovarian cancer. Judge Richard Young agreed, and granted them a temporary restraining order April 11.

Friday, the judge published his written order, explaining his rationale for his decision and it does not bode well for Indiana’s marriage ban. The ruling criticizes the state’s argument that it is in the state’s interest to protect marriages where the couples can procreate, saying it is the same argument being ruled against in marriage equality cases all over the country. All five of the cases challenging the state’s marriage ban have been assigned to Judge Young, so what he thinks counts.

Judge Young’s order states:
Lawyers for the state had not presented any “valid reason” why the state should not recognize Amy and Nikki’s marriage.

Nikki, Amy and their two children would likely suffer ‘irreparable harm” if the order was not granted.

Nikki and Amy and their fellow-plaintiffs are likely to prevail at trial.
It is that last pronouncement that must be causing Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller a sour stomach. His office released a statement hanging their hat on the fact that it was a narrow ruling and saying they would continue to zealously defend the ban.

What I find most baffling - although very helpful to the cause of marriage equality - is way in which the idiot anti-gay marriage protesters assemble outside courthouses holding religious signs that make it crystal clear that their opposition arises from one thing: religious based animus which is not sufficient to uphold discriminatory laws.

Legalizing Gay Marriage Could Boost Virginia's Economy

Our DC Marriage Certificate - Virginia is across the Potomac in the background
Not only does Virginia's anti-gay animus motivated Marshall-Newman Amendment cause talented gays and liberal Millennials to leave Virginia, but it also is a drain on Virginia's economy.  Or at least that is the conclusion of a think tank that has evaluated the economic cost of Virginia's anti-gay bigotry. Having married in Washington, D.C., myself I can attest to the fact that the DC economy benefited from Virginia's bigotry in the form of expenditures made in Washington rather than here in Virginia.  Given the number of friends getting married outside of Virginia, the dollar amount truly adds up.  Here are highlights from the Richmond Times Dispatch:
A report by a think tank at UCLA says legalizing gay marriages in Virginia could generate up to $60 million in spending in three years.

The Williams Institute at the UCLA School of Law estimates that about 7,000 same-sex couples may choose to get married in Virginia within three years of a change in law.

The report says the increased spending on wedding arrangements and by tourists would likely generate up to $3.2 million in state and local tax revenue.

The Republic provides additional details:

The report also estimates that Virginia has already likely lost tens of millions of dollars in spending and more than $1 million in tax revenue as same-sex couples decided to marry in Washington, D.C. and other states where it's been legalized.

"This report clearly shows that allowing lesbian and gay couples to marry in Virginia is not only the right thing to do, but would also have a positive impact on our economy," James Parrish, executive director of Equality Virginia, said in a statement Tuesday.

"The ban is not only hurting loving lesbian and gay couples in Virginia - it is also hurting our economy. This report shows that all Virginians would benefit from marriage equality."

The report estimates that same-sex couples in Virginia would spend about $7,000 per wedding, which is significantly less than the $28,000 spent on the typical wedding in Virginia. The report says the estimated price tag is lower, in part, because same-sex couples receive less support from their parents. Based on Massachusetts' experience, the report estimates that each same-sex wedding would include 16 out-of-state guests.

The report says the increased spending on wedding arrangements and tourism would create between 459 and 595 jobs within three years.

Virginia is missing out on economic benefit and losing contributing members of society all so that hate filled bigots like Del. Bob Marshall and Victoria Cobb - and black pastors who act like white Christofascists trained circus dogs - can feel superior and avoid facing the fact that their ignorance embracing form of Christianity is dying - largely because of them.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

More Tuesday Male Beauty

Thanks to Failed GOP Policies, American Middle Class No Longer Richest in the World

In its quest to destroy Barack Obama by tanking the U.S. economy and obstructing levels of stimulus spending high enough to actually turn the economy around Congressional Republicans and, to a lesser extent, their state level counterparts, have claimed an additional victim: the American middle class, once the most prosperous in the world.  Now, the middle class in Canada - which has a national health care system and much more restrictive regulations on big banks - claim the title of the most prosperous in the world.  Moreover, America's poor are now poorer than the poor in a number of other countries. Yet despite this shocking data, cretins in the Tea Party continue to support the party that is working against their best economic interests.  The New York Times looks at the sad situation.  Here are highlights:

The American middle class, long the most affluent in the world, has lost that distinction.

While the wealthiest Americans are outpacing many of their global peers, a New York Times analysis shows that across the lower- and middle-income tiers, citizens of other advanced countries have received considerably larger raises over the last three decades.

After-tax middle-class incomes in Canada — substantially behind in 2000 — now appear to be higher than in the United States. The poor in much of Europe earn more than poor Americans.

The numbers, based on surveys conducted over the past 35 years, offer some of the most detailed publicly available comparisons for different income groups in different countries over time. They suggest that most American families are paying a steep price for high and rising income inequality.

Median income in Canada pulled into a tie with median United States income in 2010 and has most likely surpassed it since then. Median incomes in Western European countries still trail those in the United States, but the gap in several — including Britain, the Netherlands and Sweden — is much smaller than it was a decade ago.

The struggles of the poor in the United States are even starker than those of the middle class. A family at the 20th percentile of the income distribution in this country makes significantly less money than a similar family in Canada, Sweden, Norway, Finland or the Netherlands. Thirty-five years ago, the reverse was true.

With a big share of recent income gains in this country flowing to a relatively small slice of high-earning households, most Americans are not keeping pace with their counterparts around the world.

“The idea that the median American has so much more income than the middle class in all other parts of the world is not true these days,” said Lawrence Katz, a Harvard economist who is not associated with LIS. “In 1960, we were massively richer than anyone else. In 1980, we were richer. In the 1990s, we were still richer.”  That is no longer the case, Professor Katz added.

Three broad factors appear to be driving much of the weak income performance in the United States. First, educational attainment in the United States has risen far more slowly than in much of the industrialized world over the last three decades, making it harder for the American economy to maintain its share of highly skilled, well-paying jobs.

A second factor is that companies in the United States economy distribute a smaller share of their bounty to the middle class and poor than similar companies elsewhere. Top executives make substantially more money in the United States than in other wealthy countries. The minimum wage is lower. Labor unions are weaker.

Finally, governments in Canada and Western Europe take more aggressive steps to raise the take-home pay of low- and middle-income households by redistributing income.

[T]he stagnation of income has left many Americans dissatisfied with the state of the country. Only about 30 percent of people believe the country is headed in the right direction, polls show.

Even with a large welfare state in Sweden, per capita G.D.P. there has grown more quickly than in the United States over almost any extended recent period — a decade, 20 years, 30 years. Sharp increases in the number of college graduates in Sweden, allowing for the growth of high-skill jobs, has played an important role.

Even in Germany, though, the poor have fared better than in the United States, where per capita income has declined between 2000 and 2010 at the 40th percentile, as well as at the 30th, 20th, 10th and 5th.
The task for Democrats is to take the message to voters that the policies of the GOP andGOP  preferences for the wealthy and contempt for the middle and lower classes are fueling the data set out above.    GOP ploys to religious belief and feign patriotism are used as smoke screens to blind the ignorant to the fact that the GOP is rapidly becoming their worst enemies.