Saturday, May 16, 2009

More Saturday Male Beauty

More Disingenuous Lies About "Protecting Marriage"

I have never met Chuck Colson, but I have observed that (1) he's an opportunistic ex-felon who seems to be using his experience "finding Jesus" to make a nice living for himself and (2) he's often in the midst of the ardent gay-hating set. I also know that he somehow worked a "Stepford wife" like transformation on Mark Earley, a former law partner of mine and former Attorney General of Virginia, who is now the president of Colson's Prison Fellowship Ministry. Truly, I do not know if losing the race for Governor to Mark Warner caused Mark to "flip out" or not, but I do know that since he affiliated himself with Colson, he has become much more of a religious extremist even if not as vocal of one as Colson who frequently indulges in shameless gay bashing - no doubt to help pursue donations for his business operation. In this regard, Colson has an new article on Break Point where he adds his voice to the disingenuous whiners seeking to "protect marriage" all the while as he and his Christianist allies (a) line their own pockets, and (b) divert millions of dollars for their anti-gay jihad that could be better spent actually supporting married couples and families in need. Here's a sampling of Colson's untruths and slander of LGBT Americans just weeks after gay bullying caused two eleven year old boys to kill themselves:
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As I said yesterday on BreakPoint, we’ve seen this scenario over and over again. Christians or Orthodox Jews open up a business, ministry, or school, and sooner or later, a same-sex couple shows up demanding services that conflict with the sincerely held religious convictions of those they confront. When the same-sex couple is turned down, they promptly sue—even if others offer to accommodate them for the same services. And too often, they are winning their cases.
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It’s as if the First Amendment no longer exists. I can’t help but suspect that radical gays deliberately target outfits run by religious believers in order to force them to accommodate their political agenda—or go out of business. So what can we do about this? How can we protect our First Amendment rights—and marriage itself?
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First, if you are victimized by a gay activist group or same-sex couple demanding that you throw out your religious beliefs, contact the Alliance Defense Fund. They have spent many years defending the First Amendment right of religious believers—rights now under brutal attack.
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Second, we’ve all got to work together to protect the integrity of marriage. Learn how by contacting the Institute for Marriage and Public Policy. You’ll also learn why we need to pass a federal marriage amendment. I know you’re getting fatigued, but it’s time to stiffen our spines.
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The issue is critical. We all must learn how to answer the charge of “bigotry,” and winsomely explain why marriage cannot exist between same-sex couples; and how same-sex “marriage” will not broaden marriage, but radically and dangerously change its nature. . . . . If we don’t make the case for natural marriage—or fight attempts to shut us up or shut us down—sooner or later, we will all find our most sacred liberties sacrificed on the altar of the gay agenda.
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Indeed, it sounds as if Colson comes close to seeking to incite violence against LGBT citizens. At the very least, he certainly is working to foster an atmosphere where zealots will feel justified in harming LGBT Americans. The Mark Earley I once knew was an honorable man who respected the equality of others under the law. I don't know what has happened to that Mark Earley, but he most assuredly has affiliated himself with a truly dishonorable man in the form of Chuck Colson.

Wicked - and Melancholy

The boyfriend bought tickets to the musical Wicked (which is on tour in Norfolk) for the two of us and his parents and we saw the show today. It was wonderful!! He's seen the show twice before on Broadway and said that the sets and performance were as good as in New York (the actress playing Elphaba today is in fact from the Broadway cast). Before the show, he took all of us to lunch at a restaurant called Freemason Abbey located in a former church built in 1873. His parents seemed to have a great time. They are truly sweet and have been so accepting of me. In many ways it was a wonderful day, yet I continue to have a constant sense of melancholy - almost a sense of dread and impending doom.
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I suspect the sense of dread stems from knowing that I have yet another court hearing in a month where the former wife and her attorney will again try to demean me, vilify me and basically try to destroy me. I truly do not believe I can withstand another round of this nightmare. I am fully prepared to do something extreme rather than subject myself to another round of gay bashing and abject humiliation by a prejudiced judicial system and vicious opposing counsel. Candidly, my will and all my estate planning papers are in order and the boyfriend has a medical power of attorney in the event it is needed. If the former wife thinks I am merely grandstanding, she and will end up with nothing will be sorely disappointed.
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I have not yet given up fully, and in an effort to revive my spirits we are meeting a straight friend later at The Wave to dance. Often dancing is a catharsis for me and I am hoping it will help me to rally my spirits. I awoke this morning in the wee hours after dreaming of writing my own obituary. I definitely need to find the strength to get past this horrible experience. I never wanted my divorce to be this way, but the former wife has gone to great lengths to make it a thoroughly vicious nightmare. I can take the verbal gay bashing part because it cannot touch me. I am PROUD to be gay and indeed believe it is a special gift. The mistreatment by bigoted judges is another matter and I will die before I allow them to take away my dignity.

Saturday Male Beauty

Celibacy Should be Rethought

UPDATED: An anonymous commenter -the negative comments are always by "Anonymous" wimps afraid to put their names behind their comments - challenged me as to why I have any standing to question the Roman Catholic Church's internal affairs if I am no longer Catholic. My reply is that the Church still owes a debt to me for the spiritual poison it inflicted on me. for many years. Secondly, it is the Church's bizarre obsession with all things sexual - with celibacy being but one manifestaion of it - that helps fuel the Church's constant anti-gay agenda and its efforts to deprive me and other LGBT Americans of equality under the CIVIL laws. When the Church stops trying to restrict my rights under the civil laws, then I will stop pointing out the dishonesty and dirty laundry of the Church.
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As a former Catholic for roughly 49 years of my life I am well acquainted with the idiocy of many aspects of Catholicism, priestly celibacy being but one of them. In my view, because of the rule of mandatory celibacy, the priesthood became a haven for the sexually/emotionally dysfunctional - and by this I do NOT mean gays - and led to a priesthood utterly devoid of common sense knowledge of real world life: pressures of marriage, child rearing, managing a family budget - the list goes on and on. Since joining the ELCA, I have seen first hand the difference it makes having married clergy who have practical experience on which to base their counseling. Thus, I believe even more firmly that Catholics are done a disservice when forced to deal with celibate priests for family guidance. But then, celibacy became the rule a millennium ago for monetary reasons, not spiritual reasons. Rev. Donald Cozzens, writer in residence and adjunct professor of theology at John Carroll University in Cleveland, Ohio, has an opinion piece on CNN that looks at why celibacy needs to be rethought and also the fact that for nearly 1,000 years priests and even Popes married and had families. Here are some highlights:
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It's an issue that simply won't go away. In spite of signals from the Vatican discouraging even discussions of obligatory celibacy for Catholic priests, the almost 1,000-year-old rule is under the microscope. And it will be for decades to come.
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Public opinion surveys indicate that most Catholics, priests included, believe the discipline of celibacy needs a serious review. Recently the retired archbishop of New York, Cardinal Edward Egan, observed that obligatory celibacy is open for discussion. It is not, Egan noted, a matter of dogma. For decades now, bishops from Asia, Europe and the Americas have asked Vatican officials to consider optional celibacy for priests. The church's official response is consistent and succinct: As a precious gift from God, the discipline of celibacy for priests will remain in place.
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More and more Catholics today are coming to understand that celibacy as a universal law for priests had its origins in the 12th century and that during the church's first millennium, priests and bishops -- and at least thirty-nine popes -- were married. Still, most well-read cradle Catholics are surprised to learn that St. Anastasius, pope from 399 to 401, was succeeded by his son, Pope St. Innocent I, and that a century later Pope St. Hormisdas' son, St. Silverius, also was elected to the papacy.
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For some years now I've been teaching in the
religious studies department at John Carroll University in Cleveland. I've asked dozens of serious, healthy young students if they have given any thought to being a priest. They seem flattered by the question. With only one exception, each has answered, "Yes, I've thought about being a priest, but I want a family." There are, of course, other factors, urgent and pressing, that will keep the celibacy issue alive.
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Parish staffing challenges alone will press for a review of the celibacy rule. Catholic bishops simply do not have enough priests to meet the pastoral and sacramental needs of the Catholic faithful. Closing and merging parishes may offer some temporary relief for overworked priests, but the shortfall of priests will continue to challenge the vitality of Catholic parishes and the health of Catholic clergy for decades to come.
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don't know Father Alberto Cutie. He appears to have touched the lives of many and preached the gospel with power and conviction. I suspect he feels called by God to be a priest, but not a celibate priest. Surely he knows that Easter Rite Catholic priests are allowed to marry and that the church welcomes into the priesthood married convert ministers from other Christian denominations. Surely he knows that in many parts of the Catholic world, clerical celibacy is openly flouted, and church authorities choose not to notice.
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Certainly, a married priesthood will have burdens of its own and, sadly, scandals of its own -- infidelity and abuse among others. But it should be left to the individual priest and seminarian to determine whether or not he is blessed with the gift of celibacy. A mandated "gift," after all, is really no gift at all.
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Mandatory celibacy in my view is yet another example of the rampant hypocrisy within the Church hierarchy. It is a non-theologically imposed requirement which is shown to be artificial by the fact that Eastern Rite Catholic clergy have been allowed through out the last 1,000 years. As is all to typical, the Vatican isn't even honest as to why one rule applies to the western rite Church and an entirely different rule applies to the eastern rite Church. To be merely intellectually honest, it has to be one rule or the other, not both. But then, intellectual honest - or even basic honesty for that matter - are not the Vatican's strong suit.

Why President Obama Hurts His Own Cause By Not Addressing Homophobia in the Black Community

I had book marked Pam Spaulding's post at Pam's House Blend (one of my must read blogs) on this topic for a follow up post only to find that it has now appeared on Huffington Post. Pam as always makes many good and balanced points even though there are many in the black community that don't want to hear the message - perhaps because it hits too close to home. Let me be clear, there are many gay affirming blacks and gay-affirming black churches. However, there seem to be far more that are not. As I have shared with Pam - who I met at the Blogger Summit last December - here in Norfolk, the problem of black homophobia spills over into the courts where the treatment gays receive from the courts depends in significant part on whether or not one has the misfortune of having their case assigned to one of the black judges. Should one have their case heard by one of the black circuit court judges (as has been my unfortunate fate), in my opinion, one can plan on being utterly crucified whereas the white judges seem to see one's sexual orientation as irrelevant to the issues before the court - which is how it should be and what is required under the Canons of Judicial Conduct which seem to never be enforced. From talking with other gays in cases before these judges, my treatment is not unique. Here are some highlights from Pam's article which I urge you to read in full since she is on the mark on Obama's failings (in reading Pam's post, remember that she is a black women herself):
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Over the last few days we have seen the White House struggle to answer questions about the failed discriminatory policy known as Don't Ask, Don't Tell, as well as respond intelligently to the recent positive domino effect of marriage equality occurring in states -- moves that affirm those governments realize separate is not equal.
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Candidate Obama decided to regress his political position from supporting full marriage equality to a "God is in the mix" conflation of religious and civil marriage when he ran for president. What was seen as a political necessity/reality at the time has wreaked havoc on the PR front of late, but it has also allowed the anti-gay establishment to cite his opposition to marriage equality over and over again. The old unintended consequences -- at our expense. . . . . Yeah, that's his political escape hatch -- that he will have some "moment of clarity" sometime in the future, a political revelation (guided by polls, of course), that separate is not equal.
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In other words, Obama . . . and [Marion] Barry don't want to challenge religious voters (or rather anti-gay religious voters, since there are those of faith who support equality, but they are always rendered invisible in these discussions) on their ignorance about the difference between religious and civil marriage.
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But I want to return to the subject of black homophobia, and the impact of President Obama's decision to purposefully confuse the issue, despite being a Constitutional scholar. . . . . he has now left LGBTs, particularly black LGBTs, twisting in the wind to battle the ignorance he affirms. (It should be noted that LGBT POC are also frequently left twisting in the wind by the larger -- read: white-dominated -- LGBT community and leadership, that is loathe to address the racial discord that inhibits progress.)
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For me, civil rights is civil rights is civil rights. Equal protection under the law is equal protection under the law. In employment. In housing. In public accommodations. In adoption. In civil marriage. Either we all have it or we don't.
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This seems so simple to understand, so rational, right? You should see some of the comments that erupted in the thread at JJP. It shows you how difficult it is to penetrate 1) homophobia based on religious convictions and very selective readings of the Bible tossed casually out there as moral certainty while ignoring passages that condemn their own behavior; and 2) the odd zero-sum game that civil rights for LGBTs somehow diminishes rights granted to blacks as a result of the struggle of that civil rights movement. The fact that the two movements aren't wholly equivalent yet both have merit and seems to escape some commentators.
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There's no leadership coming from the White House to counter the issue of black homophobia that he called out so clearly in the past. From his speech delivered at the house of worship where Dr. Martin Luther King preached, Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta in January 2008: And yet, if we are honest with ourselves, we must admit that none of our hands are entirely clean. If we're honest with ourselves, we'll acknowledge that our own community has not always been true to King's vision of a beloved community. We have scorned our gay brothers and sisters instead of embracing them.
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The sad reality is that if black equality of the 1960's was decided by the opinions of everyday God fearing, church going Americans, we'd still be eating at segregated lunch counters and riding on the back of the bus. Please stop using religion to cover your bigotry as I can assure you that since the advent of the slave trade, people have used those same arguments to defend the systematic racism, rape, and genocide of black people.
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Where does that leave us -- the black community, the LGBT community, the black LGBT community -- in dealing with a President reticent to do much of anything about LGBT issues or homophobia in the black community unless there's overwhelming support to give him cover? Obviously I don't have the answers, but I do know we have to to discuss these outside of the respective echo chambers in order to succeed.
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We need to have our acts together and working in concert for equality in order to make this administration hear us -- and hold Obama to his promises to embark on meaningful change, as well as challenge those who uphold bigotry in the name of religion who should know better.
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When I heard Obama's remarks at Ebenezer Baptist Church it brought tears to my eyes. Apparently, Obama meant none of it and it was political grand standing to garner LGBT money and campaign effort support. I look forward to the day when religion isn't allowed to be a smoke screen for hate and bigotry and when we have a president who believes in full civil equality for everyone. We are obviously not there yet. One should not find themself considering suicide because they cannot find justice in the courts due to the color of the judge's skin.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Bob McDonnell is Wrong for Virginia

The ad set out below is an excellent example of why Virginia cannot afford to have Bob "Taliban Bob" McDonnell elected Governor in the November 2009 elections. Bob and his Christianist puppet masters would rather see families lose their homes instead of departing from their selfish no tax mantra. It's amazing to me that it is always the self-congratulatory Christian set that opposes government spending that would aid children and families. Yet another example of their perverted "family values." Common Sense Virginia is doing a good job of education Virginians about the real Bob McDonnell.


Friday Male Beauty

James Dobson Deliberately Lying About Hate Crimes Bill

While James Dobson likes to pose as a grandfather like figure, he is in reality a theocrat who seeks to impose his nasty form of Christianity on all citizens with an unrelenting drive for domination. In this quest, he is a complete liar most of the time, citing either bogus studies on homosexuality or twisting legitimate research beyond recognition to support his anti-gay jihad. When and how he received his self-claimed dispensation from the Commandment that bars lying and bearing false witness is unclear. His latest round of untruths concerns the Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes bill now before the United States Senate. I have done several posts quoting the bill's language which on its face shows that it is NOT a "thought crimes" bill. However, always the lair - apparently believing Hitler's approach that if one states the lie often enough, the ignorant and uninformed will come to believe it to be true - Dobson continues to lie about the bill. Here's some of the vile swill from a recent Focus on the Family broadcast:
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The dangerous bill, awaiting Senate consideration, would create a new class of crimes based on the victim's "actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity. Those who speak out against homosexuality, including pastors, could face prosecution for "inciting" violence against gay individuals.
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Even more concerning, the legislation could create special protection for pedophiles. Democrats voted down an amendment to the bill that would have excluded pedophilia from the definition of "sexual orientation."
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..."Legislation that should shock the nation - if people were paying attention - is being rushed into law." "Things are being done that will undermine the rule of law and seriously damage morality and decency in the culture."
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Dobson cares NOTHING about the rule of law or the U.S. Constitution that bars the establishment of religion. As my immediately prior post indicates, it is people like Dobson who are responsible for the Bible and Christianity's horrible history of war, needless deaths, persecutions, and many horrors done in the name of God. He's a vile demagogue and a menace. Would that the main stream media had the balls to expose him for a liar.

The Sinister Side of the Bible

The other day I again did a post about the ridiculous resolution being co sponsored by local Chesapeake Congressman Randy Forbes which seeks to declare 2010 as "the National Year of the Bible." Putting aside the fact that Congress ought to be focusing on the pressing issues facing the country rather than supporting grand standing by those who shameless pander to the wingnut base of the Republican Part, the text of the resolution which is quoted in my prior post utterly ignores the dark and evil influence the Bible has been through much of history rather than a force of good. What's disturbing about the resolution is that it is those who would seek its passage who have the same mind set of those who have used the Bible for evil in the past as they denigrate others and in some cases slaughter those who do not share their fanatical views. Via Civil Commotion, I found a great post of a portion of a lecture by Robert Ingersoll on the blog of by the now atheist son of Fred Phelps - who has seen the evil of extreme Christianism first hand. This lecture looks at the historical truths ignored by Mr. Forbes and his fellow Christianists in Congress. I am NOT against the Bible - just those who use it to persecute others like Daddy Dobson's minions at The Family Foundation who will be gathering here in Norfolk in a few weeks to peddle intolerance. Here are some highlights:
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Ministers wonder how I can be wicked enough to attack the Bible.
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I will tell them: This book, the Bible, has persecuted, even unto death, the wisest and the best. This book stayed and stopped the onward movement of the human race. This book poisoned the fountains of learning and misdirected the energies of man.
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This book is the enemy of freedom, the support of slavery. This book sowed the seeds of hatred in families and nations, fed the flames of war, and impoverished the world. This book is the breastwork of kings and tyrants — the enslaver of women and children. This book has corrupted parliaments and courts. This book has made colleges and universities the teachers of error and the haters of science. This book has filled Christendom with hateful, cruel, ignorant and warring sects. This book taught men to kill their fellows for religion’s sake. This book funded the Inquisition, invented the instruments of torture, built the dungeons in which the good and loving languished, forged the chains that rusted in their flesh, erected the scaffolds whereon they died. This book piled fagots about the feet of the just. This book drove reason from the minds of millions and filled the asylums with the insane.
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This book has caused fathers and mothers to shed the blood of their babes. This book was the auction block on which the slave- mother stood when she was sold from her child. This book filled the sails of the slave-trader and made merchandise of human flesh. This book lighted the fires that burned “witches” and “wizards.” This book filled the darkness with ghouls and ghosts, and the bodies of men and women with devils. This book polluted the souls of men with the infamous dogma of eternal pain. This book made credulity the greatest of virtues, and investigation the greatest of crimes. This book filled nations with hermits, monks and nuns — with the pious and the useless. This book placed the ignorant and unclean saint above the philosopher and philanthropist. This book taught man to despise the joys of this life, that he might be happy in another — to waste this world for the sake of the next.
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I attack this book because it is the enemy of human liberty — the greatest obstruction across the highway of human progress. Let me ask the ministers one question: How can you be wicked enough to defend this book
?
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Randy, if you are going to talk about the Bible's role in history in your resolution, lets tell the whole story which is very, very ugly because of people like your Christianist political base that use the Bible as an instrument of hate and utterly ignore the Gospel message of Christ.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

More Thursday Male Beaty

Dedicated to Victoria Cobb and the haters at The Family Foundation

OneNewsNow Distorts APA Position on Homosexuality

In response to my post about the Christianists hate fest being sponsored by The Family Foundation here in Norfolk in early June, a comment was posted - naturally by someone gutless who posted anonymously - that consisted of a cut and paste of a OneNewsNow (a total rag affiliated with American Family Association) article that tries to twist the statements of the APA for the purpose of trying to claim that sexual orientation is a choice and/or changeable. As is my usual policy, the anonymous comment was not published. I will note, however, that the article quotes perennial liars and homophobes Peter LaBarbera and Matt Staver - both of whom have a vested financial and political interest in maintaining the choice myth. From my experience, LaBarbera is particularly disingenuous since he always acts as if he knew nothing about discredited "research" such as that of Paul Cameron even when it has been documented to be false as in e-mails I have from him from a few years back. The Peter apparently suffers from constant amnesia when not attending gay leather events for "research."
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Jeremy at Good-As-You has a good reply that takes to task those who would cherry pick the materials of legitimate organizations in an attempt to justify their witch doctor like therapy programs that make them significant amounts of money and help maintain the choice myth for cynical political purposes. Jeremy also provides access to the complete APA document instead of picking and choosing passages from it - much as Christianists selectively quote isolated passages from the Bible. Not surprisingly, the full document paints a picture far different than the propaganda piece in OneNewsNow and similar extreme right wing news sites. Here's how Jeremy aptly describes the situation:
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So essentially WND is enabling NARTH and other "ex-gays," suggesting that a non-new, non-change from an organization that still very much stands against their work is somehow a "sudden" shift in policy. Once again, their side is using complexity to their advantage, simplistically and duplicitously presenting the scientific community's inability thus far to find one certain gene as "proof" that their own scientifically-shunned work has merit. But then again, theirs is a flower that best grows in bullsh*t.

Westboro Church to Descend on Key West

Earlier in the year the boyfriend took me to Key West - I had never been before - and I found it to be not only physically beautiful but also a place that in many ways lives up to it's motto of "One Human Family" through its tolerance of others and welcome mat for all. I was pleasantly surprised how gay and straight residents and visitors intermingled and all respectfully got along at places like the Bourbon Street Pub and La Te Da. However, Fred Phelps and his hate-filled followers might justify rolling up the welcome mat at least on this occasion. It seems the cryptkeeper as Pam Spauding calls him plans to demonstrate un-Christian hate at several locations around Key West, including at Key West High School and B'nai Zion Synagogue . If Phelps and his followers are examples what it is to be Christian, then paganism and non-Christian faiths have much to recommend them on that basis alone. Here are highlights of what KeysNet is reporting:
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Members of the Westboro Baptist Church in Kansas are bringing their unique blend of apocalyptic, homosexual-hating religion to the Southernmost City on May 22 for several planned demonstrations. But in a community whose motto is One Human Family, they're hardly being welcomed.
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Fred Phelps founded the church, which isn't recognized by mainstream Baptist organizations and is monitored as a hate group by the Anti-Defamation League, in 1955; since then, the congregation has grown to around 70, the overwhelming majority of whom are related to Phelps.
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At Key West High School, Roper-Phelps and her supporters are targeting the student Gay/Straight Alliance. "The curse of god has unfolded right in front of our eyes and that's making these young people absolutely good for nothing," she says. "They have no thoughts of God. Their destruction is on top of them and they don't see it coming. Worthless. Absolutely worthless, that's what the young people are."
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Asked about the slogan "One Human Family," which is intended to imply universal respect for folks with different lifestyles, Roper-Phelps unloaded. "I think that that is a doctrine of Satan. One group at Key West High School is planning a "Phelps-a-Thon," asking people to pledge money for every minute that Phelps is at the school. The money would be donated to the school's Gay/Straight Alliance.
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From a brief Google search, I located this link to the Key West "Phelps-a-Thon" if readers are interested in making a pledge.

"Christian" Hate Merchants Coming to Norfolk

Of all the cities in Southeastern Virginia, Norfolk is among the most progressive and has the most evolved LGBT community. Thus, you can imaging my shock and disappointment to receive via a forward from a friend an e-mail from The Family Foundation, Daddy Dobson's Virginia hate group, which is partnering with American Family Association and announcing that The Family Foundation and other Christianists will be bringing their foul stench to Norfolk. The event captioned as "Pastor's Policy Briefing" will usher into town some of the nastiest and most gay-hating, anti-liberty individuals in the nation. It is no surprise that the event is being promoted by The Family Foundation (which refers to me as "homosexual activist blogger Michael-In-Norfolk" and whines about me telling the truth about them - BTW, the folks at TFF still haven't told me if they asked Bob McDonnell about why he covered up for Ed Schrock and his gay trysts for nearly 8 months).
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I suspect the timing is no accident since the event is the weekend preceding the June 9, 2009, Democrat primary and the plan might well be to recruit wingnuts to vote in the primary so as to nominate the candidate least able to defeat Bob "Taliban Bob" McDonnell for Governor. The other obvious purpose is to begin rallying the wingnuts to work for the election of Bob McDonnell which would be a disaster for the Commonwealth of Virginia. Here's the information from the e-mail and TFF's website:
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The Virginia Renewal Project has invited pastors throughout the state to attend its upcoming Pastors' Policy Briefing, meant to encourage pastors and their congregations to take a stand for morality in their daily lives. The hotel and all meals are complimentary to pastors.
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Please make sure that your pastor is not left out of this important event by printing the following invitation and giving it to your pastor:
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Virginia Renewal Project
Cordially invites you to participate in its
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Pastors' Policy Briefing
Rediscovering God in America
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With Special Guests
Former Speaker Newt Gingrich
Rediscovering God in America
and
Historian David Barton
WallBuilders
and
Former Governor Mike Huckabee
and
The Honorable Bob McEwen
and
Lt. Col. Oliver North
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Who will be accompanied by
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Lou Engle
Dr. Jerry Falwell, Jr.
Dr. Mat Staver
Dr. Laurence White
and other guest speakers
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T o be held at the Sheraton Norfolk Waterside
777 Waterside Drive , Norfolk, VA 23510
on Thursday, June 4th and Friday, June 5th.
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Meals and lodging are complimentary and will be provided by the Virginia Renewal Project.
To reserve your space, please RSVP No later than May 21, 2009
by calling (800) 992-5596 or https://the.maxcelreg.net/VAbriefing.
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Hotel information will be distributed the week of May 25 2009.
RESERVATIONS are limited and will be accepted on a first call basis.
Today, more than ever, we need men and women that are willing to take a stand for the biblical principles handed down to us by our forefathers. Please don't let this opportunity pass your pastor by. Be sure your pastor be sure your pastor gets this invitation!

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The irony is that this cluster f*ck of hate and intolerance will be at the Sheraton Waterside which has been a huge supporter of HRBOR and other LGBT organizations. I wonder if the folks at Virginia Renewal Project know this. I also wonder if any of the anti-gay wingnuts will be staying in the Presidential Suite where HRBOR recently held a wonderful wine tasting event. I hate the though of the Sheraton filled with Christian fascists (who will I assume leave their jackboots at home).

Thursday Male Beauty

Hispanic Population Boom Fuels Increased Diversity

In what has to be more bad news for the increasingly white Christianists only Republican Party, new census bureau figures show that the U.S. population is increasingly diverse and that the fastest growing segment consists of Hispanics - the group that the GOP base wants to deport back across the border to Mexico or wherever else these individuals and families came from. As I noted before, with the GOP base displaying little inclination to drop its definition of the party by who it hates (e.g., gays, blacks, Hispanics, non-Christians - the list is endless), these figures do not bode well for the GOP's future. In contrast, the Hispanic market is one that my firm is targeting for increased marketing and my office manager/head paralegal (pictured above at a recent installation event) is becoming involved in the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce since she is bilingual and we are finding a growing need for bilingual legal services. What is interesting is that - contrary to the claims of the GOP base - the Hispanic population is a positive force for the U.S. economy. Here are some highlights from CNN:
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The nation is becoming even more diverse: More than one third of its population belongs to a minority group, and Hispanics are the fastest-growing segment. The U.S. Census Bureau reported Thursday that the minority population reached an estimated 104.6 million -- or 34 percent of the nation's total population -- on July 1, 2008, compared to 31 percent when the Census was taken in 2000. Nearly one in six residents, or 46.9 million people, are Hispanic, the agency reported.
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The quickly expanding Latino population is having a healthy impact on the economy, according to Ken Gronbach, author of "The Age Curve: How to Profit from the Growing Demographic Trend." "Latinos have saved our country," he said. "They represent 14 percent of the population but 25 percent of the live births. The United States is the only western industrialized nation with a fertility rate above the 2.2 percent replacement rate."
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They will also help to prop up the real-estate market once the economy begins to recover, according to Rakesh Kochhar, associate director of the Pew Hispanic Center. During the housing boom, minorities closed much of the homeownership gap, although the bust has worked to widen that again.
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Latinos and other minority workers contribute to keeping the Social Security system solvent, according to Monique Morrissey, an economist for the Economic Policy Institute. The undocumented workers among them often pay more into the Social Security pool than they will take out in benefits. Morrissey said estimates of deficits in the pool's finances were reduced last year when a Social Security advisory board's technical panel revised some unrealistically low assumptions it had made about Latino immigration.
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Once again, reality versus the claims of the increasingly intolerant GOP base are two different things.

Commercial Real Estate Teetering on the Edge?

So far there has been a great deal of news coverage of the residential real estate meltdown that began the current severe recession. However, little focus to date has been on the commercial real estate sector which is likewise teetering on the edge of a meltdown due to the huge drop in business expansion plus businesses suffering major reductions in cash flow and overall business revenues. Around the Hampton Roads area for instance, much office and retail space remains empty after months and months on the market just as quantities of new space are about to become available as construction of projects begun before the economic collapse near completion. It could become a very nasty situation if the economy continues to languish or get worse with banks being only some of the parties about to suffer major problems. Here are some highlights from MSNBC:
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Even as banks grapple with rising foreclosures, many lenders have something else to worry about: A rising tide of potential losses from commercial real estate loans that could reach into the billions. Delinquency rates and defaults on office and retail buildings and hotels have more than doubled in just six months. For apartments and industrial buildings, the rates have increased more than 80 percent, according to Reis Inc.
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While homeowners are defaulting at almost four times the rate of commercial landlords, the sudden spike in late payments has many industry insiders worried about the collateral threat to the economy and financial system. Nearly $73 billion worth of commercial real estate loans are in some level of financial distress, according to Real Capital Analytics.
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"Because of the severity of the economic downturn, now the pressure ... for commercial real estate, is much higher," said Hessam Nadji, managing director at Marcus & Millichap Real Estate Investment Services. The economy has forced many businesses to downsize and others like Linens 'N Things and Circuit City to go out of business. That's left behind empty storefronts, office buildings and warehouse space.
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Landlords are finding it hard to attract new tenants. Increasingly, they are slashing rents or offering incentives like money for tenant renovation. Tenants, likewise, have also become more aggressive about demanding concessions from landlords. Starbucks, for example, recently pressed its landlords to renegotiate the rents for leases at company operated stores.
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Overall, some $270.5 billion commercial property loans are expected to come due this year alone, said McLaughlin, a financial analyst for Reis. And it's likely many borrowers won't be able to refinance.
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[S]ales of foreclosures and other distressed properties can create a downward spiral for similar properties in the neighborhood. Vacant commercial buildings, like vacant homes, also invite vandals and vagrants.
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And through all of this, my former wife - and judges who have never been in private practice - can't understand why my income is down significantly.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Final Wednesday Male Beauty

What Matters to Christianists in Congress

With the nation faced with a nearly unprecedented financial crisis, a deep economic recession, two ongoing wars in the Middle East, and tens of millions of Americans without health insurance coverage, one would think that all members of Congress would be focused on these and other life and death issues. But not so for the Christianists in Congress such as Congressman Randy Forbes from nearby Chesapeake, Virginia. No, for these individuals what matters most is seeking passage of a resolution "Encouraging the President to designate 2010 as "The National Year of the Bible." I swear I do not understand such people. Are they merely pandering in a shameless way for the Christianist vote or are they just plain living in some twilight zone unhinged from reality? The text of the resolution sponsored by Mr. Forbes can be found here. Here are some highlights of the resolution's efforts to rewrite history not to mention insult all non-Christian Americans:
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Whereas shared Biblical beliefs unified the colonists and gave our early leaders the wisdom to write the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United States, both of which recognized the inherent worth, dignity, and inalienable rights of each individual, thus unifying a diverse people with the right to vote, and the freedoms of speech and vast religious freedoms, which inspired courageous men like Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. to lead the Civil Rights Movement;
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Whereas the Bible has been the world’s best selling book since it was first published in English in 1526, and has influenced more people than any other book;
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Whereas the Bible has been a cornerstone in the development of Western civilization, influencing the nations in the areas of history, law, politics, culture, music, literature, art, drama, and especially moral philosophy;
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Whereas the Bible, used as a moral guide, has inspired compassion, love for our neighbor, and the preciousness of life and marriage, and has stimulated many benevolent, faith-based community initiatives and neighborhood partnerships that have healed and blessed our families, communities, and our entire Nation, especially in times of war, tragedy, and economic and social crisis;
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Resolved by the House of Representatives (the Senate concurring), That the President is encouraged--
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(1) to designate an appropriate year as ‘The National Year of the Bible’; and
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(2) to issue a proclamation calling upon citizens of all faiths to rediscover and apply the priceless, timeless message of the Holy Scripture which has profoundly influenced and shaped the United States and its great democratic form of Government, as well as its rich spiritual heritage, and which has unified, healed, and strengthened its people for over 200 years.
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I may get personally attacked for saying it, but I would ask Mr. Forbes and his fellow Kool-Aid drinkers why they have failed to mention the countless wars and millions of deaths, the rape and pillaging, and the other horrors sparked by or done in the name of the Bible? The trail of death and destruction is immense. Or is that inconvenient truth inconsistent with their goal of attempting yet again of fostering the "Christian nation" myth?

John Gress Photography

I mentioned the other day that I had cross linked this blog with Chicago based photographer John Gress' blog and commercial website. John (pictured at left) takes some amazing photos and I have posted a number of them, including the most recent "male beauty" post. I neither take quality photos myself nor do I look all that great in photos taken of me (I like to think I'm just not photogenic), so I'm always intrigued by those who are skilled photographers as well as gorgeous/interesting models. John has answered a few questions that I sent to him that I want to share with readers so as to provide some of the thinking behind the beautiful photographs. Here are my questions and John's responses:
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1. Were you ever a model before moving into photography? If so, how did you first get into modeling?
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I never modeled because I lacked self confidence. Looking back, I wish I had. Maybe I'll get into it when I'm closer to 40. I'm 31 now.
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2. What prompted you to go into photography?
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I first started taking pictures at age 13 when I went to summer camp with my mother's camera.
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3. How do you select models for your photo shoots?
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When I first look at a prospective model, I am interested in three thing face structure, body and height. If they are just boyfriend cute maybe they will work in a fitness context. If the have symetry, a sharp jaw line and nice cheek bones they will be good for fashion.
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4. Do you have models that you find particularly good to work with?
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Any model who shows up and is on time is automatically particularly good to work with. I don't pay most of my models because I feel they are getting something of great value for their portfolio. Lately we've had a lot of flakes and at times I feel like I'd be better off looking for blind dates on the Internet than waiting on an unprofessional model. The ones who don't show up are always the ones who want to reschedule. As one of the main characters in the movie 'Taken' proclaims in the trailer, 'good luck.'
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5. How do you come up with the poses and lighting combinations for shoots?
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Most of the poses I use in my photos come from the back of my memory and sometimes more directly from other images I have seen. I look at a lot of photographs on a daily basis and I draw, in an academic way, from what's already been done to come up with a new vision. When it comes to lighting I have built upon trial and error to come up with a lot of different set-ups. I also like to watch inspiring films like 'The Reader' which was a cinematic masterpiece.
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6. What are your favorite types of photo shoots?
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Out of all the topics I have done, I love shooting group sports lifestyle shoots. It's a great opportunity for me to play with lighting and use the expertise I developed over a career of shooting professional sports. In 2007 I was named one of the top three American sports photographers by the National Press Photographers Association.

More Wednesday Male Beauty

Uruguay To End Gays in the Military Ban

It is a pretty sad state of affairs when Uruguay grants more equality to all its citizens than the self-righteous "land of the free and home of the brave." But, that's precisely what is happening now that Uruguay is ending its ban on gays serving in the military - something Barack Obama is afraid to push for lest the Christianists not like him (hasn't he figured out that they will hate him no matter what he does?) Oh, and Uruguay granted civil union rights to same sex couples back in 2007. In short, Uruguay is part of a growing trend where countries that many Americans look down upon in fact grant more civil liberties than those available in the USA. Increasingly, the USA does not live up to its image of a country with abundant freedoms for its citizens. As other nations move forward and become more progressive, the USA stagnate and becomes a false beacon of something less than its claimed ideals. Here are some highlights from 365gay.com on the new developments in Uruguay:
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(Montevido) Uruguay is moving to lift a ban on homosexuals joining the armed forces. The defense ministry confirms that Minister Jose Bayardi has signed a decree lifting the ban imposed by the 1973-85 military dictatorship. The army said Wednesday it has received the decree, which has yet to be signed by President Tabare Vazquez. The law had barred people with what it called “open sexual deviations” from entering the military academies.
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The new decree states that sexual orientation will no longer be considered a reason to prevent people entering the military.

Why Just Her - The Judicial Lynching of the D.C. Madam

Within the next week or so I will be featuring a guest post by Montgomery Sibley, the author of a new book entitled "Why Just Her, the Judicial Lynching of the D.C. Madam" that looks at the legal/judicial system as it was brought to bear on Deborah Jeane Palfrey. I have not yet finished the complimentary copy of the book that Montgomery Sibley sent to me, but suffice it to say it definitely looks like it will turn over some rocks and expose failings - and perhaps even manipulations - of the judicial system. The goal of all this? To make Deborah Jeane Palfrey's life hell and suppress the embarrassing information she possessed on Washington, D.C., power brokers - even perhaps on Emperor Palpatine Cheney and others in the Bush administration. From my own "lynching" by the Virginia judicial system in my divorce, I have zero confidence in the courts as the protectors of justice. Sibley's book looks like it will give a detailed view of how Jeane, as he refers to her throughout the book, may well have been the victim of a huge miscarriage of justice. Particularly when one considers that her clients - like David "I Love Prostitutes" Vitter, a U.S. Senator from Louisiana - got off scott free. Here are some highlights from the book website:
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Jeane became an internationally known, heroic figure for living her life without excuses and standing up to the Bush Administration’s misogynist, right-wing pandering, political agenda. The book identifies the external and internal demons that drove Jeane from an initially defiant woman willing to fight the government to a woman so despairing as to take her own life prior to sentencing upon her conviction for Prostitution Racketeering and Money Laundering.
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Starting with the execution of search on her home and seizure warrants for her bank accounts in October 2006 through her death on May 1, 2008, the 598 page book traces Jeane's final 20 months as the judicial system time and again failed to live up to its promise to insure justice. Instead, unwittingly sitting atop a list of the most powerful men in the world, that system made sure that Jeane's story would never be fully told
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Bumping into the Husband

video

This is a cute ad from Hyundai - it's not one from the USA - which has a surprising gay twist to it. The boyfriend and I found it quite funny.

Wednesday Male Beauty

Obama's 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' Hypocrisy

I love it that the MSM has finally awaken to Barack Obama's mealy mouth hypocrisy on DADT such as during yesterday's press conference at the White House. Indeed, it's nice to see those besides LGBT bloggers and activists beginning to hold some fire to Obama's feet. Whether or not it will prompt him to grow some balls on the issue will need to be seen. The fact that the military has lower standards for recruits to accept non-high school graduates, felons and others not qualified for the ranks but continues to discharge qualified gays is disgusting. I hope the attention now focused on Obama's hypocrisy continues to grow until it becomes untenable for him to get by with disingenuous inaction. Matt Yglesias has a good column in the Daily Beast that takes Obama to task. Here are some highlights:
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Back in January, Second Lieutenant Sandy Tsao, a U.S. Army officer based out of St. Louis, came out to her superiors as gay resulting, under current policy, in a dishonorable discharge. At the same time, she wrote a letter to Barack Obama congratulating him on his election and explaining her decision and asking Obama to "help us to win the war against prejudice so that future generations will continue to work together and fight for our freedoms regardless of race, color, gender, religion, national origin, or sexual orientation."
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On the campaign trail, Obama was clearly committed to ending discrimination in the military. "We’re spending large sums of money to kick highly qualified gays or lesbians out of our military," he observed, "some of whom possess specialties like Arab-language capabilities that we desperately need." Ever since the New Year, however, Obama and his team have been slow-walking the implementation of their promise.
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[W]hile the political logic behind the administration's thinking is understandable enough, the moral logic is contemptible. The dismissal of gay and lesbian soldiers was unjust when undertaken by administrations that believed in the policy. But disagreement about policy is inevitable in a democracy and sometimes injustice reigns. What we have today, however, is an absurdity—an administration that clearly does not believe in the policy, that is on record as opposing the policy, that campaigned explicitly on changing the policy, and that nevertheless declines to change the policy.
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Tsao and Choi are being dismissed, in other words, not because the president of the United States feels they should be discriminated against, which would be bad enough. Instead, they're being dismissed because the president doesn't feel like doing anything about it. Indeed, at this point sure laziness and indifference seems to be the best the defenders of "don't ask don't tell" can even come up with on their merits.
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No day is ever going to be a convenient day for the brass to stop doing what they're doing, and start dealing with the difficulties involved in getting soldiers accustomed to serving alongside openly gay and lesbian crew members. And no day is ever going to be a convenient day for the White House political team to pick a fight with the military. But that's a reason to avoid delay, not to embrace it. The current policy is as wrong as it was during the campaign, and firing skilled and patriotic linguists is as insane today as it was during the campaign.
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Instead of writing more letters to patriotic men and women in uniform who are tired of living a lie, it's time for Obama to start writing letters to members of Congress urging them to change the rules.
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The reality is that the military - which I see up close daily living in this area - is among the most change adverse institutions in the nation. The top military leaders NEVER embrace change or more modern thinking voluntarily. That takes leadership - something Obama will not take up on the issue of DADT. Indeed, there was a time the top Navy brass refused to believe that airplanes could sink capital ships - that is until Billy Mitchell demonstrated a bombing of the German battleship Ostfriesland off the North Carolina coast not too far from here in July, 1921, and proved the top brass foolishly wrong. The same will happen with ending DADT if someone will but have the guts to push it through.

Hampton Roads' Rising Foreclosures Not Letting Up

Despite some uptick in refinances, the local real estate market remains devastated and the number of foreclosures continues to rise. Indeed, the only growth areas in the legal realm is in foreclosures and bankruptcies. While the President continues to roll out purported plans to save homeowners from losing their homes, the plans are not well explained - many lenders do not seem to even know the details - and the downward pressure on home prices continues unabated. For new first time home buyers the $8,000 tax credit does not seem to be doing much of anything to stimulate purchases. Unless and until lenders - many of whom have received billions in bailout funds - begin lending again in earnest, I do not see any looming recovery. It continues to be a bleak landscape for firms that work heavily in the real estate industry. Worse yet, commercial transactions appear to be slowing as well. Back in the summer of 2007 I said that the housing market was going to trigger disaster and it has. Sadly, nothing seems to be happening to stop the blood bath yet and so the downward spiral continues. Here are highlights from the Virginian Pilot.
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Foreclosure filings in Hampton Roads rose again last month, to the highest point on record, as many lenders continued to repossess and auction off homes in the area despite national efforts to stem foreclosures, a report to be released today found.
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Foreclosure prevention specialists in the area said the majority of the clients they see facing foreclosure have been put into that position because of a job loss. "Very few of the ones we're seeing now are people who were put into loans they couldn't afford," said John Allen, a vice president of The Up Center, a Norfolk organization that provides foreclosure prevention counseling. "It's almost always job loss, or reduction in hours, or something revolving around that."
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Dotty Acampora, a foreclosure prevention counselor for the nonprofit Virginia Beach Community Development Corp., has seen a similar trend in recent months. More than half of her current clients have recently lost jobs or had their hours cut back. "The problem is the lenders are just not going to work with someone who is unemployed," said Acampora, who spent nearly two decades as a mortgage banker and is a former president of the Tidewater Mortgage Bankers Association. "They're not going to do a typical forbearance, because unemployment is too widespread."
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For the second consecutive month, foreclosure activity nationally was at the highest point RealtyTrac has recorded.