Saturday, November 19, 2011

More Saturday Male Beauty

Conservative Groups Pressure Administration To Restrict Access To Contraception

I have long maintained that the far right Christianists have a much larger agenda than merely keeping LGBT Americans second class citizens. As the thankfully failed "personhood" effort in Mississippi indicated, outlawing all abortions is another major agenda item. Beyond that, even contraception is something these religious extremists want to eliminate. Their goal is to make sure that all citizens are compelled to live under their warped and unloving religious views. As Think Progress reports, some of the Christianists are assailing the Department of Health and Human Services for requiring health insurers to cover contraception and other women’s preventive services without additional cost sharing. Their beef? They claim that contraception leads to promiscuity - and I guess, in theory, unwanted pregnancies. The ridiculousness of their claims is that European nations with widespread availability of contraception have a far fewer teen pregnancies. Even more to the point, it's the areas where the Christianists most hold sway that have the highest teen pregnancy rates. Here are some highlights from the Think Progress article:

Organizations like the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops and Catholic Health Association insist that contraception encourages promiscuous behavior and that mandating coverage violates religious freedoms. As Sen. Pat Toomey (R-PA) wrote in a letter to HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, “this regulation requires that a Catholic institution either violate its fundamental beliefs by providing coverage that includes contraception and sterilization or, per the new requirements of PPACA, potentially pay a heavy financial penalty for failing to provide what PPACA deems adequate health coverage to their employees.”

But broadening the exemption would place religious beliefs ahead of women’s health and significantly restrict access to the birth control that most women rely on. More than 99 percent of all women ages 15 to 44 who have ever had sexual intercourse have used at least one contraceptive method and most people support expanding access to them. A national poll conducted in May, for instance, found that 88 percent of voters, including four in five Republicans, support women’s access to contraception. Most Americans even think that improving women’s access to contraception is a more effective way of reducing the number of abortions than enacting restrictive abortion laws.

In fact, it’s not even clear that broadening the exemption is constitutional. Catholic Charities, for instance, has previously attempted to challenge state contraceptive equity laws in both New York and California, but lost “on the basis of a 1990 Supreme Court decision, Employment Division v. Smith.” The ruling found that the First Amendment’s exercise of religion clause did not trump a “neutral law of general applicability.” To permit religious entities and persons to pick and choose which laws they could follow “would be to make the professed doctrines of religious belief superior to the law of the land, and in effect to permit every citizen to become a law unto himself,” the court found.

The Affordable Care Act does not require religious organizations to specifically approve birth control any more than they would have to sign off on any other medication or treatment used by their employees — it simply states that insurance companies must offer a package of women’s health care benefits without additional charge.

Permitting religious entities and persons to pick and choose which laws they will follow is exactly what the Christianists want if they cannot succeed in riding rough shod over the religious liberties of others by forcing their beliefs on all of us. It's yet further proof that they want special rights.

Scholarship Funds to Honor "Hero" Author and Narnia Executive Producer Perry Moore


Back in February I wrote about the untimely death of Perry Moore (pictured above), executive producer of the "The Chronicles of Narnia" trilogy and author of the young adult novel "Hero." Moore grew up in Virginia Beach and, as I noted at the time, reading the Virginian Pilot coverage, one would never know that Moore was gay and had a life partner. Not without irony, Moore had noted as follows about growing up in Hampton Roads: “I thought I’d have to kill myself,” he said. “Because I grew up going to church in the south and the pervasive message was that I had this terrible secret that I liked men and consequently I would go to hell for it and ruin my family’s life.”

Now, Hunter Hill, Perry Moore’s partner of seventeen years, and family and friends are in the process of establishing four scholarship funds that will benefit young writers and local Hampton Roads students. The Perry Moore Hero Fund will will award college scholarships to young writers who best express stories of understanding, tolerance and strength within the LGBT community. Next Spring, simultaneous donor gala launches will be held in New York City, where Moore made his home, and in Virginia Beach, where he grew up (details will be forth coming as available). The following is a summary of the scholarship programs being established provided to me by a close family friend, as well as links for information and making donations:

I. The Perry Moore Hero Fund

Hunter Hill, Perry’s partner of seventeen years, established the Perry Moore Hero Fund in partnership with the Hetrick-Martin Institute in New York. In line with Perry’s fundamental belief that there lies a Hero in all of us, the Perry Moore Hero Fund will award college scholarships to young writers who best express stories of understanding, tolerance and strength within the LGBT community. The Perry Moore Hero Fund is an artistic scholarship that celebrates literature’s ability to inspire and have a positive impact in the lives of young people. By publishing the winning stories on an official platform via the Perry Moore Hero Fund website, the content will have an immediate, powerful and global voice. The web page to make donations to the Perry Moore Hero Fund is: www.hmi.org/perrymooreherofund


II. Camp Chanco Scholarships in honor of Perry Moore.

Tally Sale Banazek established a special account at Camp Chanco to award camper scholarships in Perry’s name on an annual basis at Camp Chanco in Surry, Virginia. The web page to make donations to Camp Chanco in Perry’s memory is http://www.chanco.org/ Please visit the Chanco website and click on “Donate Now.” At the final payment page please indicate the “Perry Moore Scholarship Fund” when you are prompted to add any special instructions to the seller. Alternatively, checks may be sent to Chanco on the James (with the “Perry Moore Scholarship Fund” in the memo line) at P.O. Box 378, Surry, Virginia 23883.

III. The William Perry Moore IV Memorial Award at Norfolk Academy

Teacher Pat Hume, along with classmates Bretta Zimmer Lewis, Liza Berkley, and Trisha Shotten instituted the William Perry Moore IV Memorial Award at Norfolk Academy that will be given annually to a tenth grade student. The first award was presented in May of 2011. The recipient was honored with a handsome plaque, Perry's book on the making of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, plus DVDs for the three Chronicle of Narnia movies. Pat Hume wrote the inscription on the plaque that hangs in the upper school: “Given annually to a tenth grade girl or boy in honor of Perry Moore '90 whose love of film, language, and literature led him on an incomparable journey of the imagination throughout his life.” The web page to make donations to Norfolk Academy is: https://www.norfolkacademy.org/podium/default.aspx?t=1706&pk=707

IV. The William Perry Moore IV Second Chance Scholarship at Bryant & Stratton College’s Hampton, VA Campus


Christopher Sawyer, Th.D, and Campus Director as well as the Faculty and Staff of Bryant & Stratton College’s Hampton, Virginia Campus announced the creation of the William Perry Moore IV Scholarship. This scholarship will be awarded each semester, in the amount of $1,000 ($3,000/year), to a student who has overcome extraordinary odds in life and succeeded in the classroom. This scholarship is to be fully funded by the Campus and will be awarded for the Winter, Summer and Fall Semesters.

I take my hat off to Hunter Hill and Perry Moore's friends and family for these charitable endeavors. Having provided the initial endowment for the Hamar/HRBOR Scholarship in honor of my late parents and Hampton Roads Business OutReach ("HRBOR") to benefit local graduating LGBT high school students, I know that these memorial scholarships in honor of Perry Moore will make a lasting impact on many lives over the years.

Saturday Morning Male Beauty

The Palinization of the GOP

The caption of this post is the title of a new column in the Washington Post by Kathleen Parker - one of the increasingly rare breed of rational, thinking conservatives. Parker will not be winning any friends among the knuckle draggers who predominate in the Christianist/Tea Party base of the GOP, but what she has to say about the cult of ignorance in today's GOP is 100% true. This fusing of religion with politics and a complete abandonment of reason and logic are the reasons why I and so many people that I know have fled the GOP. Other than serious election defeats, I truly do not know what is going to turn around the intellectual decline of a party that once liked to view itself as educated and rational. Here are some highlights from Parker's on target column:

The headline on Democratic strategist Paul Begala’s recent Newsweek essay dodged subtlety: “The Stupid Party.” “Republicans used to admire intelligence. But now they’re dumbing themselves down,” was the subhead. Democrats couldn’t agree more. And quietly, many Republicans share the sentiment. They just can’t seem to stop themselves.

Republicans aren’t really stupid, of course, and Begala acknowledges this. But, as he also pointed out, the conservative brain trust once led by William F. Buckley has been supplanted by talk radio hosts who love to quote Buckley (and boast of his friendship) but who do not share the man’s pedigree or his nimble mind. Moreover, where Buckley tried to rid the GOP of fringe elements, notably the John Birch Society, today’s conservatives have let them back in.

Meanwhile, the big tent fashioned by Ronald Reagan has become bilious with the hot air of religious fervor. No one was more devout than the very-Catholic Buckley, but you didn’t see him convening revivals in the public square. Nor is it likely he would have embraced fundamentalist views that increasingly have forced the party into a corner where science and religion can’t coexist.

Scientific skepticism, the engine that propels intellectual inquiry, has morphed into skepticism of science fueled by religious certitude. In this strange world, it is heresy to express concern about, for example, climate change . . .

[T]he Republican base requires that candidates tack away from science toward the theistic position — only God controls climate. More to the point, Rush Limbaugh says that climate change is a hoax and so it must be. Huntsman may as well be a Democrat.

It takes courage to swim against the tide of know-nothingness that has become de rigueur among the anti-elite, anti-intellectual Republican base. Call it the Palinization of the GOP, in which the least informed earns the loudest applause.

Even so, there are signs that the GOP is recognizing its weaknesses and is ready to play smarter. To wit: The sudden surge of Gingrich, who, whatever his flaws and despite the weight of his considerable baggage, is no intellectual slouch.

Will Virginia See a Renewed GOP Extremism?

As noted in the previous blog, Russia appears to be heading into an anti-gay jihad with its bans on the "propaganda of homosexuality." Will Virginia see something similar now that the Democrats have lost control of the Virginia senate? Things are already hostile enough for LGBT Virginians, but with Ken "Kookinelli" Cuccinelli and Lt. Governor Bill Bolling headed towards a contest of who can be more batshit crazy and reactionary (which will no doubt include anti-gay rhetoric), things may get even worse. Paul Goldman, a former chairman of the Democratic Party of Virginia, has a piece in Blue Virginia that looks at the extremism that may well sweep over Virginia as Kookinelli and Bolling launch their personal agendas to appeal to the foulest and most unhinged elements of the Republican Party of Virginia. I hope that Goldman is correct that these agendas will result in a backlash come 2013, if not before. Here are some highlights:

For most of the state's history, the AG's office was part-time, basically issuing legal opinions requested by local officials and taking care that no one in state government, much less the judiciary, might render some form of deed or action which questioned the legality, indeed the morality, of the state's infamous "Black Codes", the statutory basis of segregation.

Except when an AG got crosswise with either the sitting Governor or saw a good political opportunity to boost their future chances of being Governor, they mostly stayed out of the line of political fire, content to do their jobs and concentrate on how to move up the ladder.

Then came Ken [Cuccinelli]. From the moment he took office, KC and his not-so-Sunshine Band decided to go places AG's just had not gone before, even when pushed. Where other AG's had invariably waited to be asked for an opinion, Mr. Cuccinelli decided to skip the middle man and put pen to paper, starting with his letter saying however noble the intention, our colleges and universities didn't have the power to offer gay or other students any more legal protections than authorized by the General Assembly.

Soon his office was in hot pursuit of all things deemed to be Un-Cuccinelli. . . . . In a bold political move never tried, much less contemplated by a Virginia AG, the "Cooch" stiff-armed all the other state's attorneys general by filing his own suit against what he called "Obamacare," or I suppose "Obamaromneycare" in his eyes. KC found a friendly local U.S. District Court Judge, and before long, Mr. Cuccinelli had drawn first blood as Judge Henry Hudson gave Virginia's AG a big legal win, at least headline wise.

For the first time in Virginia's history, the Office of Attorney General had become a mini-governor in the legal realm, seeking out never-ending dragons of liberalism, even worse moderation, to slay. He became a conservative talk show guest icon, seemingly spending more time on the Fox channel and other such broadcasters of the true faith than with his family (or his job).

Given this reality - and Mr. Cuccinelli's attendant popularity in the GOP base - it perhaps was only a matter of time before rival Bill Bolling decided he needed to up the level of his game. . . . Bolling's advisors, Boyd Marcus and Ray Allen, don't scare from a fight. So they have convinced the LG to do something never before tried in state history: turn the LG into the second most powerful person in Virginia politics.

In a flip-flop that would make Mitt Romney blush, Mr. Bolling has gone from crying "foul" to "fair" when it comes to the constitutional power of the LG to....well... be amazingly powerful. Suddenly, contrary to what the GOP said only a few years ago, they now find the constitutional power to treat the LG as effectively a member of the Senate, sort of Super Senator despite direct language of the Constitution and several previous AG opinions.

In terms of practical, raw, political power, this means the 20 GOP Senators, as a block, will vote to give themselves all the power they legally can take and want, knowing such a move will at worst produce a 20-20 tie vote, leaving the matter to the tender mercies of the LG's decision. Presto! Suddenly, Bill Bolling, a man only moments ago with a small gavel like every previous LG, will suddenly wield the Hammer of Thor. As long as the 20 Republican Senators stick together, Bill Bolling gets to decide on the fate of legislation Democrats believe will turn Virginia from mainstream to extreme.

Bill and Kenny - their rivalry has led them to redefine their offices in some measure due to a desire to show the GOP faithful who is the true conservative change maker, willing to break the old rules to establish the new Kingdom. Governor McD has used the old traditions to try to become a new national conservative who can be trusted with the VEEP's job. But his two running buddies have chosen, as Robert Frost might have said, the Road Not Taken.

But you say: "Paul, the GOP will go crazy." If they do, then get ready for the 2013 backlash. Truth is, the first casualty of which could be Governor McDonnell, whose national rep is based on a different approach.

So fear not. Bolling and Cuccinelli might be eating their horses' oats now, feeling like Secretariat. But by 2013, they might be looking like a different part of the equine anatomy.

Yes, it is ironic that "Taliban Bob" McDonnell may end up as a casualty of the Kookinelli-Bolling contest as to who can be the most far right extremist. If extreme batshitery comes out of the 2012 session of the General Assembly, McDonnell may have to think twice about not vetoing some of the crazy stuff that the objective reality detached Republicans will likely push through. If McDonnell doesn't use his veto power, some of the batshitery will clearly attach to him and he may look to extreme for the VP stop he so strongly covets. Perhaps there is a God after all.

Russia's War Against Gays

In college I was a history major with heavy emphasis on British and Russian history. I've always wanted to travel to Russia, but always found it out of the question: I didn't want to travel to the Soviet system, then there was the issue of raising children and a lack of travel and now, there's rising homophobia that makes Russia look far less than welcoming for LGBT tourists. The current war on gays is bizarre given that the Russian Orthodox Church doesn't hold the same power in politics that far right denominations do in the USA. Yet, the legislation against all things gay - "propaganda of homosexuality" is the term - is frightening. For whatever reason, Russian politicians seem to want to drag the country backwards in time. One would thing the effort was being orchestrated by The Family Foundation, a toxic, hate motivated Christianist organization in Richmond, given the parallels between the talk in Russia and Republican circles in Richmond. Whatever the motivation, I won't be looking to visit St. Petersburg any time soon if the anti-gay jihad continues. Here are highlights from the New York Times:

“Propaganda of homosexuality”: the wording sounds almost quaint in English, like a panicky phrase out of the 1970s backlash to the early gay liberation movement in the United States. But in Russia, the phrase is current: This week lawmakers have been talking of banning “propaganda of homosexuality” — whatever the phrase may mean.

The campaign began a couple of months ago, when two provincial Russian cities, Ryazan, in central Russia, and Arkhangelsk, in the north of the country, passed such laws. On Wednesday, St. Petersburg, Russia’s largest city, approved its own ban. The next day, lawmakers in Moscow promised to pass a similar measure in the capital, and the speaker of the upper house of Parliament declared it was time to take the ban national.

The St. Petersburg bill defines the violation as “public actions aimed at propagandizing sodomy, lesbianism, bisexuality, transgenderism among minors.” At least one prominent Russian singer has already expressed concern that the law may affect his and other artists’ ability to perform in front of audiences and to market their records.

In saying this he put his finger on what is perhaps the central conflict of this story: Russia’s urban culture of music and film, clubs and caf├ęs, art and fashion, is virtually indistinguishable from that of any contemporary Western European city. . . . . So where do the “propaganda of homosexuality” bans come from, in a secular country with an apparently liberal social culture? A dozen years ago, when Vladimir Putin became Russia’s leader, he set in motion the process of destroying public space. He has succeeded by pressuring the media, heavily restricting political and charitable organizations, and, in effect, banning most demonstrations. The process now seems unstoppable: The restrictive machine cannot help but infringe on the private — as well as venture into the absurd.

[M]y 13-year-old son, who attends a private school with a liberal reputation in Moscow, came home and told me he had removed his new earring after a teacher told him that wearing earrings means you’re gay and is therefore inappropriate.

A few hours later a friend who is active in an L.G.B.T. sporting organization instant-messaged me to say that the group would probably soon be banned from organizing any events. What’s worse, she wrote, when the bills become law, they may be interpreted to apply to gay and lesbian couples who are raising children.

I no longer think the phrase “propaganda of homosexuality” sounds quaint. My partner and I are raising a boy and a girl together, and in February she is due to give birth to another boy.

As I noted before, I've now crossed Russia off my list of travel destinations. I have no intention of traveling to and spending money in a country where I am not wanted. I hope others will do likewise and let the Russian tourism agencies know why Russia is now a destination to be avoided. You can e-mail the Russian National Tourism office here.

Friday, November 18, 2011

More Friday Male Beauty

Hate All the Presidential Candidates?

The caption of this post is a question that I have to frankly have to answer with a resounding "Yes!" This blog looks at the growing insanity of the Republican party and it's current crop of would be presidential nominees. But, this blog is not exactly kind to Barack Obama who has displayed a continued spinelessness and willingness to break campaign promises while blaming others for his weasel like behavior (don't even get me going on his Christianist BFF's like Rick Warren). Enter a group called Americans Elect that would like to find a viable third party candidate and gain a nomination for the 2012 presidential contest. I like the concept, but given the sad truth is that money - rather than leadership skills, integrity, intelligence, etc. - ultimately decides nominations (and too often elections). A piece in the Daily Beast looks at the effort which seems pure at heart but likely ill-fated. Here are some highlights:

Tis the season for post-partisanship—again. Last week, New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg, the patron saint of anti-Washington babble, flew to the nation’s capital to accuse “both parties” of “promis[ing] their constituents the world” and giving them “debt and a sluggish economy and anemic job growth” instead. Sen. John McCain, meanwhile, predicted that “unless both parties change, then I think [a third party] is an inevitability.” (“We aren’t doing anything for the people,” the Arizona Republican confessed.) Even Rick Perry got in on the act. “This is not the Democrats’ country or the Republicans’ country,” he told a crowd of Iowans. “This is our country.”

If such plague-on-both-your-houses rhetoric sends a thrill up your leg—and if you’d like to see some independent candidate trumpeting similar sentiments during next year’s presidential contest—then Americans Elect is the 501(c)(4) organization for you.

AE isn’t a third party so much as a “second way” to nominate a president. “Given the level of frustration with the parties, running outside of the two-party system will be a huge asset in 2012, not a liability,” insists Elliot Ackerman, the group’s COO.

Here’s how it’s supposed to work. Americans Elect gathers the signatures required to get on the ballot in all 50 states. (So far, they’ve collected nearly 2 million—two thirds of their goal.) Meanwhile, the group’s 200,000-plus “delegates” gather at AmericansElect.org, answering questions about their views, assembling heterodox policy platforms, and pledging to support their favorite politicians, military leaders, CEOs, college presidents, and ordinary citizens. As long as you’re a registered voter, you’re welcome to participate. In April 2012, successive rounds of online voting will winnow the sprawling field to six finalists. The six, assuming they all want in, will then have to select a running mate from outside their own party. Finally, in June, an Internet convention will choose a nominee to appear, nationwide, on Americans Elect’s ballot line—and at the fall debates, provided he or she clears 15 percent in the polls. The founders claim they have enough cash to go all the way; they’ve raised $21 million so far . . . .

The plan is clever, and the timing is good. President Obama is saddled with near-fatal polling numbers. The Republican Party is so desperate for an alternative to Mitt Romney that they’ve spent a month entertaining the possibility of President Herman Cain. Even Congress hates Congress, and nine out of 10 Americans are “frustrated” with the state of politics. Nearly two thirds of the country wants an independent candidate to run for president. There’s only one problem: who, exactly, will lead the charge?

Ackerman expects to see a few “draft movements” in which “a bunch of Americans get excited about a particular candidate” and convince him or her to run. Names will begin to surface in December.

The top target, however, may be Huntsman, who, with his business background, respectful demeanor, and relatively moderate record, best fits the mold of a “centrist” third-party candidate as imagined by “socially liberal, fiscally conservative” Beltway moderates who comprise the bulk of Americans Elect’s leaders and donors. Huntsman spokesman Tim Miller insists that his boss “is a lifelong Republican and he’s going to run for president as a Republican.” But AE’s brass seems to hope he’ll change his mind.

Fantasy baseball aside, it’s unlikely that any Americans Elect ticket will defy the laws of political gravity and win the White House next November. . . . . The best outcome for Americans Elect, then, may simply be to make a lot of Democrats and Republicans angry — a distinct possibility, given that no one has won the presidency by more than 10 percentage points since 1984. By playing the spoiler, Americans Elect could force the parties to take its direct-democracy methods seriously—and perhaps tinker with their polarizing primary systems in the process.

Pope Arrives in Benin - To Shake Down the Ingnorant and Uneducated

With the fortunes of the Roman Catholic Church plummeting in the educated developed world, God's Rottweiler, Benedict XVI has traveled to the African nation of Benin to sell some of the Church's snake oil to those not educated enough to realize that they are being courted by a morally bankrupt monster who has been personally implicated in cover up of the sexual abuse of children and minors. The Johannesburg Times notes the Pope's visit here and recognizes that Africa is the Catholic Church's main area of growth:

Africa is the Roman Catholic Church's fastest-growing region despite revelations of sex abuse and corruption scandals that have shaken followers in Europe.

But the sex abuse scandal isn't limited to the developed western world. Another Johannesburg Times article looks at the all too familiar pattern of sexual abuse and cover up that is widespread in Africa as well. Here are highlights:

The continent has the world's fastest growing number of Catholics --rising by eight million between 2007 and 2008 alone -- and often sends its dynamic priests to work in increasingly deserted churches across the secularised West.

But the African Church is also riddled with scandals, from child abuse to extramarital relations, collusion with those in power, and ill-gotten fortunes.

African priests have also been known on occasion to be involved with practices that do not sit happily with the Catholic Church -- from exorcism or animal sacrifices to Freemasonry.

In Benin alone, two bishops -- including the Archbishop of Cotonou Marcel Honorat Agboton -- have been dismissed for sex and corruption scandals.

Benedict's first visit to Africa in 2009 was overshadowed by a controversial comment when he said the distribution of condoms "aggravates" the AIDS crisis and spoke of sexual abstinence as the only solution.

One can only hope that as the targeted population becomes more educated it will realize that they've been sold a corrupt and fraudulent bill of goods. In the meantime, I'm sure Benedict XVI and his henchmen want to rake in as much money and add as many names as possible to the Church's membership roster so that an overall decline in the Church can be disguised and hidden - at least for now.

9th Circuit Dishes Protect Marriage Washington

The Christofascist who backed the Referendum 71 effort in Washington State - an initiative that would have repealed recognition of same sex relationships in the State of Washington - continue to whine and engage in desperate attempts to keep the names of the bigots who signed the petitions to put Referendum 71 on the ballot secret. Frankly, I have ZERO respect for those who want to take away civil legal rights of others yet lack the balls and courage to stand up and acknowledge their hatred of others and religious based bigotry. Thankfully, the Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit basically kicked the whiners to the curb and refused to allow the petitions to be kept secret. Pam's House Blend has details on the latest bitch slap delivered to the Referendum 71 proponents (their spokesman, Larry Stickney, is pictured at left). Here are some highlights:

Moot is the word that the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals used to describe Protect Marriage Washington‘s too-late effort to prevent the Washington Secretary of State from releasing more copies of the Referendum 71 petitions to the public.

In October, Federal District Court Judge Benjamin Settle, a George W. Bush appointee, ruled in their case Doe v. Reed that PMW was not entitled to an exemption from the Public Records Act and that therefore the Referendum 71 petitions they submitted to the state must be made available to the public by the Secretary of State. He also revealed the identities of the Doe plaintiffs and witnesses Linkwhich until then had been secret.

PMW found itself in a pickle because they had failed to pre-file a request for a stay before Judge Settle ruled. As a group concerned with keeping the names of R-71 signatories and Doe plaintiffs secret, pre-filing a motion for a stay would have been a logical precaution for PMW to take in the event Judge Settle ruled against them.

But they didn’t. Instead they filed emergency motions for injunction after the fact. Between the time of Judge Settle’s ruling and PMW’s after-the-fact emergency motions, numerous copies of the R-71 petitions and Judge Settle’s ruling itself had entered the public domain. In addition, some Doe witnesses have outed themselves.

PMW is affiliated with the anti-gay hate group National Organization for Marriage. Doe v. Reed is just one in a string of NOM-linked cases seeking — unsuccessfully — to use ballot measures and legislative campaigns about domestic partnerships or marriage equality as vehicles for attacking campaign finance disclosure laws or other open government laws. Recent articles describing related NOM-linked cases can be found here and here.

In November, 2009 over 53% of the electorate voted to approve Referendum 71, making Washington the first state in the nation to vote affirmatively in support of comprehensive relationship recognition for LGBT families. PMW was the organization trying to use the R-71 vote to overturn the law.

Transgender Day of Remembrance

In cities across the country on Sunday events will be held to remember the violence - all too often deadly violence - done against those who make up the "T" in LGBT. Would that everyone could look beyond our differences and grasp the fact that we are all human and that we are merely trying to live our lives as we feel our creator intend us to be. Sadly, charlatans and those who market hate while wrapping themselves in feigned religious piety fail to grasp this simple message.

Friday Morning Male Beauty

California Supreme Court Says Prop 8 Proponents Have Standing to Appeal

In a decision that I frankly see as more politically motivated by justices who are afraid to stand up to Christianist hate merchants, the California Supreme Court has ruled that the proponents of Proposition 8 have standing to bring a post-election appeal as part of the state's initiative process. The ruling allows the backers of discrimination to usurp the power of state elected officials to decide what laws are unconstitutional and should not be supported via litigation. I suspect that over time, many in California will rue the day that this opinion was handed down since it will allow vicious, vitriolic forces to take over defending discriminatory laws that ought to be struck down. In the shorter term, the decision will mean that the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals will likely consider the merits of the District Court ruling that declared Proposition 8 unconstitutional. Metro Weekly looks at where this is all likely headed. Here are some highlights:

The Ninth Circuit will now take the appeal, Perry v. Brown, back under advisement and decide how it wishes to proceed on the question of whether the proponents have standing under federal law, although the scope of today's opinion makes it almost certain that the federal court will find standing.

The state court was asked by the Ninth Circuit whether the proponents have "particularized interests" in seeing the initiative upheld and whether California law itself allows the proponents to stand in the place of elected officials charged with defending the state constitution when those officials decline to do so.

Attorney Ted Olson, who is representing the plaintiffs who successfully challenged the constitutionality of Proposition 8 at trial, said of today's decision in a conference call this afternoon with reporters, "This frees up the Ninth Circuit to decide the constitutional issues ... on the merits."

The Ninth Circuit could now seek additional briefing and/or arguments or it could rule on both the standing question and the constitutionality of Proposition 8 with no additional steps. Once a ruling is issued from the Ninth Circuit, the losing party is almost certain to ask the U.S. Supreme Court to hear the case. As Olson indicated today, at that point both the standing and merits questions would be before the nation's highest court for final resolution.

Will LGBT Virginians Be Open Game for Christianists?

Even under the best of circumstances, Virginia is not what one would describe as a gay friendly state. LGBT citizens have no employment nondiscrimination protections and can be fired at will. On the adoption front, pending regulations will likely bar same sex couples from adopting and agencies can openly discriminate against same sex couples. Worse yet, our relationships have less legal standing than those between pet owners and their pets. Despite this bleak picture, things are likely to get even worse now that the anti-gay Republican Party has taken a slim majority in the Virginia Senate which had heretofore been a last bulwark against the most extreme anti-gay batshitery that the GOP dominated House of Delegates and the ever homophobic Attorney General, Ken "Kookinelli" Cuccinelli might dream up. The Washington Blade looks ate the depressing picture ahead over the next few years. Here is a sampling:

Republicans increased their existing majority in the state’s House of Delegates in the Nov. 8 election. With Republican Robert McDonnell as governor, if Republicans win the dispute over who fully controls the Senate, the conservative-leaning GOP would be in control of all branches of the Virginia government for the first time since the Civil War.

“Virginia is never a place to look for gay-friendly legislation,” said Stephen Farnsworth, professor of political communications at George Mason University and a specialist in Virginia politics. “But what you’re looking at now is a Christian conservative element of the Republican Party that is very much in the driver’s seat going forward.”

Gay Democratic leaders and LGBT activists acknowledge that even if Democrats prevail on the issue of power sharing regarding Senate committees, the Republican majority for votes on legislation means that that the Senate is now far less likely to block anti-gay bills as it did when it was under Democratic control.

“We can certainly expect that there’s going to be a cascade of really unsavory bills flooding over to the Senate from the House as there have been in recent years pertaining to issues of immigration, women’s rights and obviously gay rights, too,” said Nick Benton, editor and publisher of the Falls Church News-Press and board member of LGBT Democrats of Virginia.

“And how many of those bills can be made to die in the Senate at this point becomes a much dicier situation,” Benton said. “There’s no guarantee at all that any of that stuff is going to be beaten back.”

[S]ome Democrats this week said they dispute Republicans’ contention that the lieutenant governor has the power to vote on non-legislative issues. Fundamentally, the question is whether under the Virginia Constitution he [Lt. Governor Bill Bolling] has the authority to vote on Senate organizational issues as contrasted to legislative matters, substantive matters,”

Since committees and their chairs decide which bills reach the Senate floor for a vote, a determination of which party controls the committees will play a key role in deciding which bills are passed, including a bill introduced in past years calling for banning adoptions by gay and lesbian parents.

Disturbing days are likely ahead and if the Christianists in the Republican Party of Virginia have their way, Virginia will be racing backwards in time and will become increasingly unattractive for modern progressive businesses which will find their employees unwilling to relocate to a quasi-theocracy. Sadly, ignorance, bigotry and backwardness are now the chief hallmarks of the Republican party of Virginia. As I have noted before, if circumstances were different, I'd be gone from Virginia in a heartbeat.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Thursday Morning Male Beauty

Has the GOP Overreached Heading Into 2012 Elections?

With reports that Republicans on the so-called Super Committee leaning towards some tax increases as part of the deficit reduction package, some wonder if the sane members of the GOP - admittedly a semi-extinct species - are beginning to realize that the party's ultra-extremism is playing to Barack Obama's advantage. Has the GOP gone too far in aiding the wealthy while leaving the middle class to wither? Has the embrace of the Christianist/Tea Party base begun to repel needed moderate voters? From my perspective as a former Republican from a family of former Republicans, I would argue a definite yes to these questions. Time and time again, the GOP wins a majority and then thinks it has a mandate that in fact doesn't exist. A piece in The Daily Beast looks at the issue as well and here are some highlights:

Will 2012 look more like the Republican avalanche of 2010 or the Democratic sweeps of 2006 and 2008? From last week’s elections to Newt Gingrich’s rise in the polls, the tea leaves suggest that the Tea Party is not what it used to be and that making big fast changes is risky, especially if you didn’t campaign on them.

Overreach is an overused word, but the messages voters sent last week, particularly in Ohio, were not lost on conservatives and Republicans. “The 2010 elections made it abundantly clear that people are gravely concerned about excessive spending and debt, and want to rein in size and scope of government,” . . .
When people feel like the pendulum has swung too far, they’re going to respond negatively.”

GOP strategist Rich Galen says Ohio Gov. John Kasich “way overreached” with his law gutting collective-bargaining rights for public employees, as did the anti-abortion activists who put a “personhood” amendment on the ballot in Mississippi
. Ohio voters rejected the Kasich law last week, while Mississippi voters rejected the ballot measure to define a fetus as a person.

Looking ahead, three dates that will give us clues to the general election landscape:
NOV. 23. This is the deadline for the congressional “supercommittee” to agree on a debt-reduction plan.

[T]here have been developments that reflect the gravity of the debt problem and the impatience of voters who want to see results. Sen. Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania, a supercommittee member who once was president of the vehemently antitax Club for Growth, proposed a plan that included $300 billion in new tax revenues. . . .

Toomey and GOP Sen. Tom Coburn both said over the weekend that getting a debt agreement without compromising on taxes is impossible. “If I were king, this is not the plan I’d put on the table. But if we both went into our respective corners and had no flexibility, then we wouldn’t get anything done,”

Both parties have good reasons to worry about the election. Republicans on the supercommittee in particular are being squeezed by their party’s militant antitax wing and more moderate voters looking for action on jobs and the debt. Several recent polls show most voters think the GOP is trying to hurt President Obama by blocking his attempts to create jobs. Democrats are tied with or ahead of Republicans in several recent polls when voters are asked which party they want to control Congress, and Obama has moved back into a tie with a generic Republican presidential candidate.

JAN. 3. This is the date of the Iowa caucuses, when Republicans will vote for their favorite presidential prospect. The candidate perceived as most moderate and electable, Mitt Romney, is at or near the top of the polls in Iowa. . . . . Anything could happen during the nomination season, of course, but the GOP is seeming less and less like the party of Sarah Palin, Sharron Angle, and Christine O’Donnell.

JAN. 13. This is the deadline for Wisconsin organizers trying to recall Gov. Scott Walker to gather some 540,200 signatures. . . . Kasich’s defeat in Ohio came over essentially the same collective-bargaining issue that triggered the Madison protests. Both Kasich and Walker pushed through laws that virtually ended collective bargaining, though neither had campaigned on the issue. “They thought they could do anything and no one would care,” AFL-CIO president Richard Trumka said on a recent conference call.

The Ohio victory is a psychological boost for Walker recall organizers and no doubt will become a financial one as well. Galen says labor can now go to its funders and tell them, based on the outcome in Ohio, that “if we have enough money, we can do this.” The Walker recall-petition drive kicked off Nov. 15, and organizers say they are aiming for 750,000 signatures. If they get twice that many and Feingold changes his mind, we’ll have a solid sign that it’s not 2010 anymore.

Personally, I hope the recall effort garners the needed signatures. It would send a huge message. The GOP needs to understand that it cannot do anything it wants to placate extremists - or the Koch brothers.

Santorum and Romney Again Denigrate Gays

I swear it seems like a contest at times amongst the would be presidential candidates to see who can most trash LGBT citizens - all the time forgetting that we ARE citizens who are supposed to have 100% equal rights as other citizens under the laws and the state and federal constitutions. Think Progress looks at two of the latest attacks on LGBT citizens here and here. One first insult is by Rick Santorum who continues to claim that being gay is a "choice" - apparently just as being an ignorant ass like Santorum is a choice. Then Mitt "I want to be all things to everyone" Romney panders to the Christofascists with statements reviving his past view that homosexuality is "perverse" and "reprehensible." If I were so inclined, I could say that the same holds true for being a Mormon. Here's a run down of the "frothy mix's" run in with a lesbian film maker in New Hampshire:


Documentary film maker Kristina Lapinski attended Thursday night’s Granite State Patriots Liberty PAC candidates forum in New Hampshire and asked Rick Santorum how he would react if she — a lesbian — were his daughter. The former Pennsylvania senator said he would love her, before claiming, “like anything in life, it is your choice“


When challenged by Lapinski, Santorum continued to insist that sexual orientation is a choice. I guess he thinks he knows more than all of the legitimate mental health and medical associations that have concluded to the contrary of his opinion. I will concede that I view Santorum as a mentally ill religious fanatic. Mitt Romney, on the other hand knows better than to lie just to kiss up to extremists. Here are highlights of Romney's anti-gay gyrations:




Throughout his campaign, Mitt Romney has struggled to deflect criticism that he is an unprincipled flip-flopper. . . . But of all the issues on which Romney has taken a stance, few have been subject to more contortions than homosexuality and marriage equality. It’s often noted that Romney’s vigorous opposition to gay marriage — so extreme that he has aligned himself with the right-wing National Organization for Marriage — is not a staunch, long-held belief. During Romney’s 1994 senatorial run, for example, he pledged to “make equality for gays and lesbians a mainstream concern.”


What has been largely overlooked is that prior to Romney’s unsuccessful senatorial run, his beliefs about gays were, to put it kindly, not so magnanimous. According to several articles in the Boston Globe in the mid ’90s, just before launching his senate run, Romney told an audience of Mormon Church members that homosexuality was “perverse” and “reprehensible.” From the Boston Globe, July 15, 1994: Speaking last fall to a Mormon Church gathering, Mitt Romney, then on the verge of launching a bid for a US Senate seat, expressed dismay at reports of homosexual behavior in the group and denounced homosexuality as “perverse,” according to several people present at the meeting.

Romney denied the veracity of the comments but, as the Globe noted, the account was confirmed by three other attendees. . . . The Romney campaign was deeply displeased by the Globe’s disclosure of the candidates comments.


I am so, so over the constant attacks on tax paying citizens - who often contribute far more to their communities than do the heterosexual counterparts - just so the Christianists can feel superior about themselves. It's crap like this that helps guarantee I'll hold my nose and vote for Obama in 2012.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

More Wednesday Male Beauty



New Survey Shows Irish Catholic Church Collapsing

Illinois is not the only place where the fortunes of the Catholic Church are not flourishing. A new survey in Ireland shows the Catholic Church to be rapidly headed towards collapse. Thus, given the continued sex abuse lawsuits (and continued large awards to victims of sexual abuse by priests), the shortage of priests, and the growing disconnect between the laity and the hierarchy, the U.S. bishops would have bigger issues to worry about rather than a continued anti-gay jihad. But such is not the case. One can only hope that the refusal to address the REAL problems surrounding the Church, the U.S. bishops are hastening the day when survey results in the U.S. will mirror what's being seen in Ireland. This blog post lays out what's happening in Ireland. Here are some highlights:

It wasn’t too long ago before the Catholic Church had an iron grip on Ireland, having to approve nearly every bit of “sensitive” legislation that was passed. Abortion was illegal, condoms weren’t available, and non-Catholics were apostates in the Republic of Ireland. That’s changing rapidly now. . . .

It is important not to underestimate the value of Ireland to the Roman Catholic Church. Ireland was, and still is, the only English speaking majority Catholic country. It houses several seminaries and religious academies that historically produced highly educated priests, nuns and Christian brothers who were exported around the world . . .

[A] recent series of Irish government reports dealing with child abuse have brought the church and its role into question. While the Catholic Church has been heavily criticized in both the media and by the Irish leader, it has been unclear to what extent, if any, support amongst the general population of Ireland has been damaged.

To examine this question, the Dublin based Iona Institute, a conservative religious lobby group that promotes Vatican approved catholic values, recently commissioned a survey of public opinion on Catholicism in Ireland.

The findings include"

Catholicism continues its steady decline in Ireland – 69% of those surveyed said they were Catholic, down from 87% in 2006.
30% went to mass in the previous week, down from 48% in 2006 – and from over 90% in the 1970s!
Only 20% agreed that the Irish government was “excessively hostile” towards the Catholic Church. 40% disagreed that the government was hostile with a further 34% saying that the government was essentially neutral towards the church.

[O]lder individuals (over 55s) were the only ones to have a favorable opinion of the Catholic Church (55% favorable, 44% unfavorable). None of the other age groups surveyed exceeded a 19% favorable rating for the church.

The reality is that the Irish population has a relatively accurate view of the extent of church abuse and its response to the abuse – and the picture they see is sufficient to condemn the church.

This behavior surely shows the desperation of apologists to whitewash the results of a survey that reveals no good news for the Catholic Church in Ireland, which continues its precipitous decline. Far from being a perennial and unquestionable force, Church, according to the results of this survey, is heading the way of the Irish Elk.

For those not in the know, the Irish Elk became extinct about 11,000 years ago. When will U.S. Catholics wake up the the reality that the Church hierarchy is a veritable cesspool and that by continuing to fund their local parishes they are indirectly financing evil?

Illinois Catholic Charities Ends Its Anti-Gay Adoption Lawsuit

Justice, the Illinois Constitution and the U. S. Constitution have prevailed in Illinois and the message has been sent that that an organization cannot accept government funds and then turn around and discriminate against taxpayers based on religious based bigotry. As blogger compatriot Waymon Hudson writes at The Bilerico Project, Illinois Catholic Charities has withdrawn the lawsuit challenging the State of Illinois' refusal to renew adoption and foster care contracts with Catholic Charities because of the organizations refusal to provide services to same sex couples recognized under that state's civil union law. Needless to say the child rapist enablers/protectors within the ranks of the U. S. Conference of Catholic Bishops must be less than happy - even as they launch a new anti-gay website to "defend marriage." And as news breaks of new multimillion dollar sex abuse awards and convictions of Catholic priests here and here. And there's this story on Bishop Robert Finn avoiding indictment via a plea arrangement. But I digress. Here are highlights from Waymon's post:

The legal battle between Catholic Charities and the state of Illinois over the organization's state-funded adoption and foster care contracts, and their refusal to grant those services to same-sex couples in civil unions, is finally over. The dioceses of Joliet, Springfield, and Belleville released a statement saying they were withdrawing their lawsuit with "reluctance."

Illinois ended the over $30 million dollars in annual contracts with Catholic Charities after the organization said they would refuse to offer its tax-payer funded services to same-sex couples in civil unions.

The legal battle had not been going well for Catholic Charities. Circuit Judge John Schmidt had ruled earlier that the state does not have to renew its foster and adoption contracts with Catholic Charities, denied the group's emergency request for a stay of his decision, and refused to reconsider his ruling. The state has already been transitioning the group's 2,000 foster care and adoption cases to other agencies that comply with the newly enacted Illinois Religious Freedom and Civil Union Act.

The Catholic Church in Illinois isn't getting out of the civil union and marriage equality fight completely, however. The Catholic Conference of Illinois recently announced the formation of a "Defense of Marriage" department whose purpose is to fight any future attempts to legalize same-sex marriage in the state. The stated purpose of the department is to protect the "stature of the nuclear family - which provides love, stability and confidence to children, as well as organization to society."

So while the end of Catholic Charities' adoption contract lawsuit is a victory for the equal application of the law and state services, the fight between civil rights and equality for LGBT Americans and powerful religious organizations like the Catholic Church is far from over.

Once Again, It's All Ultimately About Religious Based Hate

I wrote - and vented - when Tennessee passed legislation earlier in the year with the help of the chamber of commerce crowd that barred Tennessee municipalities from enacting ant-discrimination policies that protected employees based upon their sexual orientation. The state wide act also wiped out the efforts in Nashville to require non-discrimination policies be in place for companies contracting with the city. Now, with the horrific law under court challenge, the rest of the story is coming out and the real motivation was from Christianists who sought to dupe businesses into supporting their anti-gay jihad. At the forefront of the deception was David Fowler, president of the Family Action Council of Tennessee, and a former state senator (pictured at right). Fowler's e-mails have been most enlightening and help to underscore that anti-gay animus was the ultimate motivation for the statute. No matter what smoke screen the Christianst try to utilize, it always comes down to anti-gay hate and a demand for special rights for Christianists and would be theocrats. The Tennessean has coverage on the unfolding revelations. Here are highlights:

The chief lobbyist for a state law that invalidated Metro protections for gay and transgendered individuals feared his moral thoughts on the measure would become public and distract from the economic argument he used to sell the bill, documents reveal.

Emails written by David Fowler, president of the Family Action Council of Tennessee and a former state senator, are included in thousands of pages of correspondence lawmakers submitted as part of a court battle over the constitutionality of the state law. The pending lawsuit alleges the law was motivated by prejudice rather than the economic concerns that were publicly argued.

Fowler said the Family Action Council fought for the legislation — even though promoting business is not one of the organization’s stated purposes — because a strong economy is good for traditional Christian families. His emails, however, reveal other concerns.

“Metro Council here in Nashville is considering requiring private businesses that do business with the city and those who lease property from the city have an employment policy to protect homosexual conduct and cross-dressing, etc.,” Fowler wrote in a Jan. 26 email to individuals including state Sen. Jack Johnson, R-Franklin. . . . . “Please do NOT pass this on to anyone who you think might in the slightest pass it to anyone else,” Fowler continued later in the email. “We’ve learned that some folks we thought were friends cannot be trusted and we don’t need the Chamber backing off because it starts to appear to be too much of a Christian, right wing, homosexual issue rather than a business/economic issue.”

Again, Fowler concluded the email by asking recipients not to share it. “We sure don’t need any loose lips getting word to the Chamber about what I think and for sure not (the Tennessee Equality Project)!” he wrote.

While he cited concerns that Nashville’s ordinance would force Christian businesspeople to compromise their religious beliefs to do business with Metro, he coached lawmakers to stick with the economic argument and provided them with statements denying assertions that the law was “about preventing homosexual and transgender rights.”

“The few emails we have obtained show a purposeful plan for a ‘party line,’ so to speak, so that legislators only say certain things publicly to support the alleged purpose that the Family Action Council wanted them to state,” said Nashville attorney Abby Rubenfeld, who is representing the plaintiffs. “It is clear that this statute was adopted to stop local governments from adopting non-discrimination protections that include sexual orientation.”

“Our position is that there is no constitutional right to lobby in secret.” The council is fighting the effort and has filed motions to quash subpoenas of its leaders in the case. “If they win, the political process is dead because citizens won’t risk being dragged into court simply for expressing their views,” Fowler said.


Note how Fowler, who damaged the lives of LGBT citizens across Tennessee tries to paint himself and similar theocratic bigots as would be victims. As I've noted before, if one is afraid to publicly stand behind their beliefs and bigotry, that spinelessness and unwillingness to be identified ought to tell them something.

Are Republicans Beginning To Grasp That Most GOP Presidential Candidates are Unelectable?

For some time I have lamented the embrace of abject ignorance and bigotry by the Christianist/Tea Party base of today's Republican Party. One of the consequences of the glorification of ignorance and refusal to accept objective reality is that to be viable in GOP primaries, a candidate must court the worse elements of the Party. The other consequence is that individuals who once upon a time could never - even on the Party's craziest day - have been allowed to pretend to be viable contenders for the presidential nomination are now in fact running and getting treated with seriousness. A piece in the New York Times looks at the growing realization by some in the GOP leadership that the short term convenience of allowing the Christianists/Tea Party to high-jack the Party may have been a huge mistake. Here are some article highlights:



The Republican presidential candidates have served comedians a full platter of laughs this year — a steady diet of gaffes, misstatements, puzzled looks and long, awkward pauses.

But the embarrassing moments are piling up, and some veteran Republicans are beginning to wonder whether the cumulative effect weakens the party brand, especially in foreign policy and national security, where Republicans have typically dominated Democrats.

“It is an ‘Animal House.’ It’s a food fight,” said Kenneth Duberstein, a chief of staff to President Ronald Reagan. “Honestly, the Republican debates have become a reality show. People have to be perceived as being capable of governing this country, of being the leader of the free world.”

Even before his “oops” moment in one of the debates last week, Gov. Rick Perry of Texas stumbled his way through an answer about Pakistan and nuclear weapons. Representative Michele Bachmann of Minnesota has offered a series of historical goofs. And after mistakenly saying China does not have nuclear weapons, Herman Cain on Monday painfully gave an answer to a question about Libya in which he all but acknowledged having little grasp of the military actions that took place there.

Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina, said he was confident that the eventual nominee would enhance, rather than diminish, the party’s reputation for seriousness. But he acknowledged that not every candidate had demonstrated that quality.

What looks to a Tea Party voter like an unvarnished, authentic exchange makes longtime members of the Republican establishment cringe. “It’s common sense,” said C. Boyden Gray, a White House counsel to the elder President George Bush. “People are taking all this stuff in stride, but at some point it accumulates and it hurts individual candidates.”

[S]ome veterans of past Republican administrations said the candidates’ national security stumbles could have a more lasting impact on how voters perceive the party in the future. “This is the core of the Republican brand. You mess with it at your peril,” said Peter Feaver, a national security official under President George W. Bush. He compared the foreign policy flubs to reports about safety problems in Toyota vehicles.

Mr. Wehner said many of the Republican candidates had demonstrated a “pride in ignorance and a lack of knowledge.” But he predicted that voters would not reward those kinds of appeals during the primaries and caucuses. . . . . “at the end of the day, intellectual heft and command of policy and fluidity on the issues will carry the day.”

The Republican establishment allowed the creation of the Frankenstein monster of the GOP base that now haunts the Party. Short term expediency were put ahead of true leadership and statesmanship. I have litte sympathy for those who whored themselves out to the Christianists/Tea Party and who now don't like the results of their handiwork.

Wednesday Morning Male Beauty

What Failed GOP Policies Have Wrought for Generation Y

All three of my children fall within what is often referred to as "Generation ," namely young adults between the ages of 18 and 28. What this younger generation is experiencing as a result of the failings of my baby boomer generation and in particular the failed policies of the Bush/Cheney years is disheartening. Despite the harsh reality of what has been done to the nation's economy, the majority of the would be GOP presidential candidates want to implement even more of the same policies that have wrought the economic current debacle. A story in American Prospect looks at what this reality is meaning for Generation Y. Here are some highlights:

Young adults entering the workforce today think they'll be worse off than their parents—they're not wrong.

The recession officially ended nearly two and a half years ago, in June 2009, but for the generation of young adults who’ve been trying to take their first steps into adulthood, its effects could shape the future for decades to come.

Why is this recession different from other sharp downturns? The standard economic indicators fail to tell the whole story. Yes, unemployment rates for young people remain at the record-high levels they hit at the Great Recession’s peak in 2007, but this is typical for young workers, who tend to be the last group that recovers after a recession—and tend to feel its effects far after the economy has rebounded.

For youth entering the workforce today, not has the sour economy delayed their careers; they are entering a workforce that offers historically low wages and, unlike their parents, they're coming in with massive amounts of student-loan debt.

A poll we commissioned of young people ages 18 to 34 shows that 32 percent of employed college graduates—and a shocking 53 percent of young workers with only a high school diploma—are working jobs that do not advance their careers. Given that the Federal Reserve, in its most recent projection, predicts unemployment will remain at about 8 percent until the end of 2013, and 7 percent until the end of 2014, that means many young workers will not get their first career-track job for another two or three years.

Millennials’ soaring debt burden is largely due to crushing college tuition rates that have risen far faster than inflation. In 1968, when the first boomers entered college, a student could have paid for tuition and fees at a public university by working just 6.2 hours a week at minimum wage; today, they’d have to work full-time just to cover tuition costs.

ising debt, un- and underemployment, and dim job prospects have forced many Millennials to postpone the key decisions that historically marked entry into adulthood. Nearly half of the 25- to 34-year-olds surveyed said they’ve put off purchasing a home; 29 percent say they’ve delayed starting a family; and 26 percent still live with their parents. These decisions have long-lasting effects.

The lower wages, skimpy benefits, debt burdens, and persistent unemployment that young workers face today are not simply the result of random economic fluctuations or forces beyond our control: They're the direct consequence of decades of bad government policy and inaction. The assault on collective-bargaining rights, the loosening of corporate oversight, the deregulation of the financial sector, and the repeated reductions in taxes—particularly for corporations—have all combined to create a bleak economic landscape.

But there are many ways policymakers could help Millennials start their lives with a greater chance of economic security and prosperity. Increasing the minimum wage, for instance, would raise the wage floor and help combat a decades-long slump. . . . . policymakers need to take action right now to prevent a lost generation of youth whose parents simply did not pay forward the social benefits they inherited.

Do John Boehner, Eric Cantor or the Koch brothers give a damn about this dismal picture? Of course not. They are focused solely on aiding the wealthy and pushing the rest of us towards quasi-serfdom. Would that the idiots in the Tea Party would wake up to the fact that they are backing the very people and policies that have screwed them over.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

More Tuesday Male Beauty

French Protest American Ex-Gay Program

I've noted many times in the past the efforts of the American Christian Taliban to export the ex-gay myth overseas, particularly to largely uneducated populations in Africa. But the effort is not limited to third world nations. Even countries like France are seeing the effort to import lies and false "experts" in order to denigrate gays and promote the myth that sexual orientation is changeable. Fortunately, the Christianist efforts are meeting with considerable opposition and outcry as recently demonstrated in Toulouse, France. Jim Burroway at Box Turtle Bulletin has details. Here are highlights:

Organizers of Rainbow Toulouse had hoped that maybe a hundred people at the most might to show up in front of a small Evangelical church to protest a planned ex-gay seminar. Instead, they were pleasantly surprised to see between 200 and 300 protesters turning out.

The scheduled seminar, scheduled for last weekend, is affiliated with Andrew Comiskey’s Living Waters program in the U.S. Comiskey, a former president of Exodus International, has been aggressively expanding his Desert Stream Ministries and its Living Waters program in Canada and Europe. Former ex-gay leader Vonnie Pits issued an apology for her role in a Living Waters-based program she set up in New South Wales, Australia.

In 2005, DSM moved to Kansas City where Comiskey announced he was partnering with Dominionist theologian Mike Bickle (organizer of Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s crusade in Houston) and the International House of Prayer. DSM reportedly uses “extreme methods that involve forms of exorcism (deliverance/healing prayer) and rely on teachings that believe that people become gay through demonic influences and the sins of ancestors.”

You can see a video testimony of an ex-gay survivor of Living Waters here.

These "ex-gay" ministries and the quacks who make a comfortable living peddling lies need to be shut down. State regulators need to start revoking licenses and/or instituting prosecution against the quacks who are knowingly defrauding the desperate and vulnerable.