Saturday, June 01, 2013

Neuroscientist: Religious Fundamentalism Could Be Treated As A Mental Illness

I have personally come to believe that there just isn't something mentally right about Christian fundamentalists who have a bizarre need to believe that the Bible is 100% inerrant and often react in a way that borders hysteria when confronted with anyone or anything which challenges their close minded belief system.  It is a mindset, of course which is loved by the Albert Mohlers and Tony Perkins of the world because (i) it makes their sheep like followers easier to control and (ii) it makes it far easier to fleece them for money so that Mohler and Perkins can live well.  Now, a British neuroscientist suggest that religious fundamentalism may well be a treatable form of mental illness.  The beliefs may vary - e.g., Christian extremism versus Islamic extremism - but the mental state that needs/allows the indoctrination and creates a willingness to blindly follow seems to be similar.  Here are highlights from Huffington Post:

An Oxford University researcher and author specializing in neuroscience has suggested that one day religious fundamentalism may be treated as a curable mental illness.

Kathleen Taylor, who describes herself as a "science writer affiliated to the Department of Physiology, Anatomy and Genetics," made the suggestion during a presentation on brain research at the Hay Literary Festival in Wales on Wednesday.

In response to a question about the future of neuroscience, Taylor said that "One of the surprises may be to see people with certain beliefs as people who can be treated," The Times of London notes.
“Someone who has for example become radicalised to a cult ideology -- we might stop seeing that as a personal choice that they have chosen as a result of pure free will and may start treating it as some kind of mental disturbance," Taylor said. “In many ways it could be a very positive thing because there are no doubt beliefs in our society that do a heck of a lot of damage."

This is not the first time Taylor has explored the mind processes of a radical. In 2006, she wrote a book about mind control called Brainwashing: The Science of Thought Control, which explored the science behind the persuasive tactics of such groups as cults and al Qaeda.

"We all change our beliefs of course," Taylor said in a YouTube video about the book. "We all persuade each other to do things; we all watch advertising; we all get educated and experience [religions.] Brainwashing, if you like, is the extreme end of that; it's the coercive, forceful, psychological torture type."

Personally, I view raising children in Christian fundamentalist homes to be a form of child abuse since the damage done can affect individuals' lives for their entire lives. Raising children to be full of fear, hate and close mindedness is not a positive thing for society.

Saturday Morning Male Beauty

Republicans: Blind to the Past — and Future on Race

The insanity that engulfed Cheerios' new ad is symptomatic of the larger problem with today's Republican Party: its core constituency out side of Christofascists (although there is significant overlap of the groups) is out and out racists, KKK members and open white supremacists.  The GOP continues to cling to the racial hatred of the past and refuses to open its eyes to the reality that no matter what it and its racist base does, the nation's demographics are changing and will continue to change towards a more diverse population where whites in some areas will be a minority.  A column in the New York Times looks at the problem in the context of the efforts at comprehensive immigration reform.  Here are excerpts:

As a new effort at comprehensive immigration reform inches its way forward in the Senate, dissent from many conservatives is revealing their true contempt for, and fear of, the possibility that demographic groups who look different from their base will accrue power. 

The questions are: Is providing a pathway to citizenship (or at least permanent residency) for the 11 million people in this country illegally an act of humanity and practicality? Or is it an electoral imperative to which opposition ultimately guarantees political suicide?  The answer probably is “yes” to both, although many Republicans seem to think the opposite. 

The most outlandish example of conservative rhetoric in its truly offensive glory on this subject came in an interview last week with Phyllis Schlafly, a prominent conservative activist, on the news site PolicyMic. In it she said: 

“I don’t see any evidence that Hispanics resonate with Republican values. They have no experience or knowledge of the whole idea of limited government and keeping government out of our private lives. They come from a country where the government has to decide everything. I don’t know where you get the idea that the Mexicans coming in resonate with Republican values. They’re running an illegitimacy rate that is extremely high. I think it’s the highest of any ethnic group. .  .  .  Well, that’s unacceptable. We don’t want people like that.”
There are so many stereotypes and fallacies in that statement that it’s not even worth unpacking, but it is a great illustration of some deep-rooted conservative views. 

Republicans, seemingly ignorant of the lessons of history and impervious to the wisdom of experience, are hellbent on revisiting 2005 [when Democrats receive a great increase in Hispanic votes]. While the Democratic advantage among Hispanics in presidential races is large and growing, the Democratic advantage in House elections has slowly begun to shrink again. And Hispanics, seemingly excited by the movement on immigration reform and optimistic about its prospects, have developed sharply more favorable opinions of Congress. A full 56 percent of Hispanics hold Congress in high esteem, up from 35 percent in November 2011, according to an ABC News/Washington Post Poll

So what do some Republican lawmakers want to do to the only segment of the population in which a majority now has a favorable opinion of Congress? Spurn them and dash their hopes. Brilliant, if you want to cement Democratic preference among Hispanics in perpetuity.

And not to harp on the issue, but most of these racist members of the GOP base claim to be "godly Christians."  The hypocrisy is nearly complete.

The Immorality of "Biblical Christians"

Much like the Roman Catholic Church hierarchy, the Southern Baptist Convention is obsessed with persecuting and maintaining anti-gay bigotry.  And also like the Catholic Church hierarchy, the SBC leadership continually turns a blind eye to pastors who sexually abuse children and youth.  Indeed, they almost act as if it was the child or youth who somehow solicited their own abuse.  (The Assemblies of God crowd is little better)  Illustrative of the SBC's anti-gay obsession, ABPNews is reporting that the SBC will likely adopt a resolution urging its 47,000 member churches to severe their ties with the Boy Scouts of America now that openly gay scouts can be members:

Frank Page, the Executive Committee’s president and CEO, told ABC News the SBC will likely recommend that its 47,000 U.S. churches pull away from the Boy Scouts of America at the upcoming annual convention meeting in Houston.

“One of the big issues here is whether or not to allow a private organization such as Scouts to remain resolute and strong in that which they believe,” Page said. “We are in a society now that truly seems to attack anybody who points out a difference that might make some people feel that what they are doing might be morally incorrect.”

J. Smith, president of the Association of Baptists for Scouting, said in a statement prior to the vote that dropping the ban could “precipitate a major crisis in how Baptists relate to the Boy Scouts of America.”

“This really isn't about having a place for homosexuals or atheists to benefit from Scouting,” Smith said. “There are Scouting alternatives to serve people who hold those practices and beliefs. This is about a concerted effort to bring down a cultural icon.”

The justification for all this hate and discrimination?   A handful of passages from the Bible that are selectively clung to even as a vast number of passages are utterly ignored.   The hypocrisy is best demonstrated by the manner in which almost all of Leviticus is ignored other than the supposedly anti-gay passages.  Making matters worse, of course, is modern scientific knowledge that shows that (a) homosexuality is a normal variant of sexuality and (b) gays are far less likely to be molesters than straight males.  And for the ultimate kicker, we know now that Adam and Eve never existed as historical people.  Poof!  The whole storyline collapses.  Yet, Biblical Christians per Albert Mohler of the SBC must cling to blind ignorance:

[N]o issue defines our current cultural crisis as clearly as homosexuality. Some churches and denominations have capitulated to the demands of the homosexual rights movement, and now accept homosexuality as a fully valid lifestyle.

Other denominations are tottering on the brink, and without a massive conservative resistance, they are almost certain to abandon biblical truth and bless what the Bible condemns.

Our churches must teach the basics of biblical morality to Christians who will otherwise never know that the Bible prescribes a model for sexual relationships. 

Note how homosexuality trumps homelessness, starving children, brutal wars and a host of horrors as the top cultural crisis.  It's a sick mentality and to me displays the utter immorality of Biblical Christians who cling to ignorance and hang of the every word of pastors who ask them to act less intelligently than the dumbest farm animals.  Bob Felton sums it up well at Civil Commotion:

Mohler refers repeatedly in this piece to “Biblical morality” — but what on earth does “morality” mean if it is mere obedience to an anonymously-fostered rule and indifferent to the consequences of the rule’s application?

In this case, following “Biblical morality” benefits nobody and harms homosexuals. That’s not morality — that’s a refusal to think and engage moral questions.

We call actions moral or immoral because they have good or bad effects, or consequences; it is the consequence which shapes our valuation of the act. An act without consequence upon the life of the individual or the community — throwing a pebble into a pond, say — is of no moral significance and nobody sane would call it good or bad.

She is out of fashion this week, but Ayn Rand got a few things exactly right: To think or not to think is a moral choice, and the evil of religion is that it condemns thought.
I will admit that I have growing contempt for "Biblical Christians" who prefer to cling to the writings of ignorant herders rather than accept modern knowledge and who will go to any and all lengths to avid having to think for themselves.  They cause so much damage to others and are the root cause of so much hate and intolerance simply in order to feel good about themselves by condemning others.  It is truly sick and it is the antithesis of the Gospel message they claim to worship yet ignore in reality.  The Pharisees of the Bible were far better people than today's "Biblical Christians.". 

Racist Backlash Greets Cheerios Ad with Interracial Family

The true ugliness of the far right, including the "godly Christian" crowd, continues to show it face in the most amazing ways.  Who would have thought that a Cheerios ad would provoke a mini-race riot amongst the knuckle dragging Neanderthals of the far right.   Yet that's what happened and Cheerios had to disable the comment function on the You Tube version of the ad.  Apparently, the angry white crowd simply cannot tolerate ANYTHING that reminds them that the nation is changing and that their years of special white privilege may be on the decline.  A piece in the Washington Post looks at the batshitery (thankfully, Cheerios is not pulling the ad shown above):

Who would have thought that breakfast cereal would trigger the latest racial battle line? In this case, a Cheerios ad much like every other homespun Cheerios ad — with a heart healthy message and loving family – ran into trouble from some commenters because of the kind of family it featured. Mom is white, dad is black and their cute little daughter is a mix of the both of them.
That’s it.

Cheerios had to disable comments on YouTube – I’m not going to repeat them but you can imagine the general witless racism with stereotypes about minorities and warnings of race-mixing as the end of civilization. Late Friday night, after a day of widespread news coverage, the ad had more than 8,400 thumbs-up votes on YouTube, versus about 900 thumbs-down.

I didn’t take any of it personally, though my family’s morning breakfast ritual – black mom, white dad, son who is a mix of both of us – looks a lot like the ad if you subtract the general cheeriness before we get that first cup of coffee down.

The point is, it’s no big deal. Richard and Mildred Loving didn’t intend to start a legal case that made to the Supreme Court, which in 1967 struck down the bans against interracial marriage that still stood in 16 states. The white man and black woman from Virginia just wanted to get married and raise their family in their Virginia home.   The parents of Barack Obama married in one of the states where it was legal – that’s Hawaii, not Kenya – and his extended family portrait reflects the world.

The 2010 U.S. Census showed interracial or inter-ethnic opposite-sex married couple households grew by 28 percent over the decade  .  .  .  The holdouts have to realize that the numbers are hardly going to start moving in the other direction in our increasingly diverse society.

For its part, Cheerios has said the ad stands. Camille Gibson, vice president of marketing for Cheerios, told Gawker, “Consumers have responded positively to our new Cheerios ad. At Cheerios, we know there are many kinds of families and we celebrate them all.”

In making this ad, Cheerios is just reflecting the new reality, and might be gaining themselves many more customers than those inclined to punish them – if those folks even ate the cereal to begin with. Just as young people today think living in an America with a black first family in the White House is simply the way it is, children who see a family like their own on TV will hardly give the ad a second glance.

I simply cannot understand why some (A) can never see the common humanity of others who differ in skin color or sexual orientation and (B) seemingly only can feel good about themselves while hating and looking down on others.  What makes it worse is that it's usually the falsely pious crowd that engages in the bigotry.  I doubt the negative comments on the Cheerios ad were left by liberals and/or atheists.  

Debunking The Lie Of Obama’s “Deficit Explosion”

One of the most deliberate and pernicious lies of the Republican Party is that Barack Obama is a big spender who is rapidly increasing the federal deficit.  Even some former GOP colleagues who certainly ought to know better have bleated this lie on Facebook - apparently as a result of drinking too much GOP Kool-Aid and watching too much Fox News.   And, of course, in direct contrast these very same Republicans were cheer leaders for the explosion of the national debt under George W. Bush who took the country from a surplus to $10 trillion in debt.   Debt that Obama has steadily been reducing over the last 4 years as shown by the chart above.    For Republicans, the truth simply no longer matters.  And ironically, the growing GOP disregard for the truth tracks directly with the rise of the Christofascists and Tea Party in the GOP.   Andrew Sullivan describes the situation this way:

It’s more than a lie. It’s actually the reverse of the truth. Since 1980, it’s the Republicans who have consistently destroyed our fiscal health and Democrats who have had to restore it. Fiscal conservatives take note.

The propaganda line of the GOP from the very first months – as the deficit inevitably soared in the wake of an inherited super-recession – was that the Democrats are once again the party of deficits and debt. But when you look at the trajectory over Obama’s full term, you find something a little different:
Now look at George W. Bush’s record on deficits over his eight years:

The political implications for 2014, when the GOP will be unable to use the deficit or unemployment as issues as they have done for so long … are potentially far more potent than any current scandals.

Again, I trace the rise in GOP dishonesty and the party's general descent into insanity directly to the rise of the Christofascists and their cousins in the Tea Party (some 85% of the Tea Party members describe themselves as conservative Christian) .  The result is that the party that wraps itself in religiosity has indicated that in their warped alternate universe, vicious, deliberate lying is apparently a Judea-Christian value. 

Friday, May 31, 2013

Friday Morning Male Beauty

Is Racism Behind States Electing to Not Particiapte Medicaid Eaxpansion?

Click image to enlarge
The map above is pretty telling - the majority of states that are likely to opt out of the Medicaid expansion component of the Affordable Health Care Act, a/k/a Obamacare, largely coincide with the states that comprised the former Confederate States of America.  Also telling is that those most injured and deprived of health care coverage will be disproportionately black.   After blacks, Hispanics will be the next most adversely affected.  Many of my former GOP colleagues don't like to admit it, but in addition to far right religious extremism, racism is a key component of today's GOP.   That and hypocrisy since the GOP base wraps itself in religion, yet then seeks to destroy the social safety net that in many ways implements the Gospel message of caring for the poor and less fortunate.  A piece in The Atlantic looks at this troubling phenomenon.  Here are highlights:

The New York Times has a story up outlining the effects of the Supreme Court ruling on the Affordable Care Act in general, and the Medicaid expansion in particular:
Starting next month, the administration and its allies will conduct a nationwide campaign encouraging Americans to take advantage of new high-quality affordable insurance options. But those options will be unavailable to some of the neediest people in states like Texas, Florida, Kansas, Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi and Georgia, which are refusing to expand Medicaid. 

More than half of all people without health insurance live in states that are not planning to expand Medicaid. People in those states who have incomes from the poverty level up to four times that amount ($11,490 to $45,960 a year for an individual) can get federal tax credits to subsidize the purchase of private health insurance. But many people below the poverty line will be unable to get tax credits, Medicaid or other help with health insurance.
[I]f you look at a map of which states are refusing the Medicaid expansion, and then look at this report from the Urban Institute, a troubling (if predictable) trend emerges. Approximately a fifth (about 18 percent) of all people who will remain untouched by the Medicaid expansion are black. When you start drilling down to the states where those black people tend to live, it gets worse. In Virginia and North Carolina, 30 percent of those who are going to miss out are black. In South Carolina and Georgia, the number is around 40 percent. In Louisiana and Mississippi, you are talking about 50 percent of those who would be eligible for the expansion but who will go uncovered.

You look at Latinos and get a similar (and to some extent worse) picture. Nationally, Latinos make up 18 percent of those who stand to get health coverage. But in Arizona -- where the legislature is fighting Jan Brewer's effort to expand Medicaid -- Latinos make up 34 percent of those who stand to gain coverage. In Florida, they make up 27 percent, and in Texas they make up 47 percent. Texas has the highest rate of uninsured in the country. The majority of people there who are going to miss out on care -- over 60 percent -- are black and Latino.

When you have a country grappling with the deep vestiges of bigoted policy, you do not need "colored only" signs to get "colored mostly" effects.

I continue to find it disgraceful that the USA alone of developed western nations continues to view many of its citizens as disposable garbage.  The fact that a disproportionate number of these people are racial minorities speaks volumes.

GOP Budget Obstructionism - More Conservative Hypocrisy

Remember how the Republicans derided the Senate Democrats for not passing a budget?  So finally, a Senate budget has been passed - one not to the GOP's liking, of course - and the next step would be the forming of a House-Senate conference committee to reconcile the two different budget bills and come up with a final budget.  All of which should make Republicans happy, right?  Nope.  Now, after complaining about Democrats, far right Senate Republicans are blocking the appointment of the conference committee.  Why?  Because the federal deficit is declining and passage of a joint budget might make the deficit decline even more quickly and deprive the GOP demagogues of what is essentially their sole talking point.  God forbid that they might have to move on to other pressing matters.  A column in the Washington Post looks at the GOP obstruction and hypocrisy.  Here are some excerpts:

With budgetary tantrums in the Senate and investigative play-acting in the House, the Republican Party is proving once again that it simply cannot be taken seriously.

[W]we don’t need is the steady diet of obstruction, diversion and gamesmanship that Republicans are trying to ram down the nation’s throat. It’s not as if President Obama and the Democrats are doing everything right. It’s just that the GOP shrinks from doing anything meaningful at all.

Two months ago, Reid and the Democrats finally passed a budget. Since the House has already passed its version — the controversial plan authored by Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) — the next step should be for both chambers to appoint members of a conference committee that would iron out the differences. But Republicans won’t let this happen. 

Specifically, far-right conservatives including Ted Cruz of Texas, Marco Rubio of Florida, Mike Lee of Utah and Rand Paul of Kentucky are refusing to allow the Senate to appoint its representatives to the conference. Yes, having demanded this budget for four years, Republicans are now refusing to let it go forward.

Cruz and the others are worried that a conference committee might not only work out a budget but also make it possible to raise the federal debt ceiling without the now-customary showdown threatening default and catastrophe. They believe that brinkmanship is the only way to stop runaway government spending, which produces massive trillion-dollar deficits, which add to the ballooning national debt, which . . .
Hold on, senator. According to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, the deficit is shrinking rapidly and will fall to $642 billion this fiscal year. That’s still substantial, but it’s less than half the deficit our government ran in 2011. More important, if annual deficits continue to decline as the CBO predicts, the long-term debt problem begins to look more manageable. That’s good news, right?

[O]on the question of how and why the IRS gave added scrutiny to conservative “social welfare” groups seeking nonprofit status, House inquisitors seem barely interested in what actually happened. “What did the president know and when did he know it?” was an appropriate question. But the follow-up — “Harrumph, well then, why didn’t he know sooner?” — isn’t much in the way of scandal material.

None of this is boosting the GOP’s poll numbers. I’ve got an idea: Why don’t they try doing the people’s business for a change?  

California Moves to Revoke Boy Scouts' Tax-Exempt Status

The recent decision by the Boy Scouts of America to allow gay scouts but to throw them out once they reach age 18  continues to elicit sharp responses, especially from hate driven conservative religious denominations which are threatening withdraw support for local packs and dens.  To be a godly Christian is, after all, all about hating others.  The California Assembly is taking a very different approach: a bill is progressing that would wipe out the Boy Scouts' (and other discriminatory groups) tax exempt status under California law.  The concept is simple: if a group discriminate against citizens , then it will not receive indirect support by all taxpayers via tax exempt status.  Frontiers LA reports on the legislative reaction.  Here are excerpts:

Sour reactions continue in response to last week’s split decision by the Boy Scouts of America to end their ban on gay youth participating in the organization but ejecting youth once they turn 18 and denying participation by gay adults and parents. This may be the first time, however, that a state legislative body has reacted so strongly – with the California Senate passing The Youth Equality Act (SB 323) by a whopping vote of 27-9. It’s the first time in California history that an LGBT rights bill has passed with a two-thirds majority.

SB 323, authored by openly gay Sen. Ricardo Lara (D-Long Beach)   and sponsored by Equality Californiawould require that youth groups that enjoy state tax exemptions, such as the BSA , also follow state non-discrimination laws. If youth groups - even nonprofit private organizations - elect to continue to discriminate, SB 323 would disallow tax exemption for sales and use taxes, as well as corporate taxes, to bring them in line with California law.

“While the Boy Scouts of America took a step in the right direction to include LGBT youth, the standing ban on LGBT adults is premised on absurd assumptions and stereotypes that perpetuate homophobia and ignorance,” Lara said in a press release.

Karen England, Executive Director of the antigay Capitol Resource Institute, was not happy.  

Lara opened his roughly six and a half minute speech on the Senate floor with the Boy Scout pledge and then noted that neither the Girl Scouts, nor the 4-H clubs, nor the Boys & Girls of America nor the YMCA discriminate against gay kids, making them eligible for tax-exemption. The BSA, however, “is an organization with the central flaw so profound that until it is fully fixed, it means that they are out of line with the values of California and should be ineligible for a tax benefit paid for again by all Californians…”

EQCA notes that SB 323 is an ideal bill for exporting to other states and municipalities, pointing out that last week a New York senator introduced similar legislation that would deny tax exempt status to all youth groups that discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, or other defining characteristics.

The approach needs to go nationwide.  Its a very positive step in ending the special rights and privileges long afforded Christofascist organizations.  These groups should not be above the law.  Moreover, taxpayers should not be forced to underwrite the activities of groups that have hate and discrimination as one of their core characteristics.

"Christian" Bakery Owners - You Will Know Them By Their Hate and Hypocrisy

Bigot/hypocrite Aaron Klein is one of the owners of Sweet Cakes By Melissa in Gresham, Ore., which refused to serve a lesbian couple who were planning their wedding.
In my view, one of the principal attributes of today's "godly Christian" crowd is the rank hypocrisy almost always on display.   While engaged in self-congratulatory pronouncements of their piety, these "Christians" use their claimed "deeply held religious beliefs" as an excuse for all types of hate and bigotry.   This was recently on display in the Pacific Northwest where bakeries owned by self-styled "devout Christians" refused to bake wedding cakes for same sex couples.  Not only are they facing prosecution now under the state public access/non-discrimination laws, but these bakery owners have been revealed to be hypocrites of the highest order since they seemingly will provide services for literally anyone else other than gays .   Willamette Week looks at some under cover work that showed the very selective religiosity of these bakery owners.  Here are highlights:

Sugar, flour, eggs and water are now munitions in America’s culture war. Or so you’d think from two Oregon bakeries that recently got national attention for declining to make cakes for same-sex weddings.

The first incident, in February, involved Gresham’s Sweet Cakes by Melissa, whose owner told a lesbian couple that “we don’t do same-sex marriages.” Earlier this month, Pam Regentin, who operates Fleur Cakes out of her home in the Hood River area, also refused to make a cake for a lesbian couple’s wedding.

Both bakeries cited their religious beliefs as the reason they would not make the cakes. Both describe themselves as Christian.

Jesus, of course, never commented on gay people, but did tell his followers to “love your neighbor as yourself.” Instead, the widely cited Bible verse condemning homosexuality comes from Leviticus, a book that also prohibits getting tattooed or eating rabbit.

We wondered what other requests these cakemakers would decline to honor. So last week five WW reporters called these two bakeries anonymously to get price quotes for other occasions frowned upon by some Christians. Surprisingly, the people who answered the phone at each bakery were quite willing to provide baked goods for celebrations of divorces, unmarried parents, stem-cell research, non-kosher barbecues and pagan solstice parties.

We later contacted both bakeries to ask about these inconsistencies. Regentin declined to comment beyond asking whether she had been taped (she had not).

Sweet Cakes owners Melissa and Aaron Klein were upset that we “would even try to entrap a business” and contacted conservative talk-show host Lars Larson.

Baby Out of Wedlock
WW Asks - I’m shopping around for a nice baby shower cake for my friend. It’s her second baby with her boyfriend so I’m not looking for anything too big or fancy—probably enough to serve 15 to 20 people.
Sweet Cake says - “We have a sheet cake that will feed 30, or a 10-inch cake that would feed 30 people. The 10-inch cake is $50 and the sheet cake is $52. Or we have an 8-inch cake that would feed 15 for $40.”
Fleur says - Prices vary based on decoration and frosting, but a basic cake is $3 per serving.

Divorce Party
WW Asks - My friend is getting divorced and we’d like to throw her a little party to mark the start of her new life. Do you ever write messages on those—we’d want it to say “congratulations!”—and how much would it be for a cake that could serve about eight people?
Sweet Cake says - “A 10-inch is $29.99. That should probably do it....We can definitely do something like that.”
Fleur says - “The price for a 10-inch cheesecake is $36 and up. So it’ll be between $36 and $45, but you’re going to have to call in advance because my schedule for June and July is very busy.”

Stem-Cell Success
WW Asks - I was wondering if you could do two little cakes. My friend is a researcher at OHSU and she just got a grant for cloning human stem cells, so I thought I’d get her two identical cakes—basically, two little clone cakes. How much would they cost?
Sweet Cake says - “Ha. All right. When are you looking to do it? It’ll be $25.99 each, so about $50 to start.”
Fleur says - Did not pick up phone or return messages. Acknowledged receiving requests by email but refused to comment.

Non-Kosher Barbecue
WW Asks - I’m looking to get a special cake for a barbecue we’re having next week. Our cow just died of old age and we’re planning to grill some steaks along with lobster and pulled-pork sandwiches—what size would we need for 10 people and how much would it be?
Sweet Cake says - “A 6-inch cake serves about eight to 10 people at $25.99. The apple goes really good with pork, and the caramel will complement the lobster. For a barbecue, it’s all really good.”
Fleur says - Did not pick up phone or return messages. Acknowledged receiving requests by email but refused to comment.

Pagan Solstice Party
WW Asks - I was calling to get a quote on a cake for a midsummer solstice party. My coven is celebrating on Friday, June 21. The decoration would be very simple: just a green pentagram. We’d like to pick it up sometime that afternoon, before the bonfire. It’ll be for about 30 people.
Sweet Cake says - “For 30 poeople we have a couple options... We have two kind of cakes you could have. About the diagram you want on the cake, I’m not sure how much extra that would be.”
Fleur says - Did not pick up phone or return messages. Acknowledged receiving requests by email but refused to comment.

Never fall for the  pretense that these godly folk are nice people.  They are not and the sooner the majority of the American public comes to understand that hate and bigotry are the true hallmarks of today's conservative Christians, the better off the nation and society will be.  These folks are liars, bigots and hate mongers plain and simple.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

More Thursday Male Beauty

Social Issues Dominate 2013 Virginia GOP Convention

While Ken "Kookinelli" Cuccinelli is busy running disingenuous campaign ads that would keep Virginia voters clueless  as to his religious extremism - not to mention is losing record on suing the federal government or trying to reinstate Virginia's sodomy laws, more and more coverage is coming out about the spittle flecked religious extremists and knuckle dragging Tea Party Neanderthals at the Virginia GOP State Convention who nominated not only Kookinelli, but also the (in my view) thoroughly insane E.W. Jackson as Lt. Governor and Mark "Report Your Miscarriage to the police or else" Obenshain as the Virginia GOP's statewide ticket.  It's not pretty, but it is the reality of what today's GOP really stands for.  The video above is from Not Larry Sabato and is worth viewing.  Meanwhile, Blue Virginia has highlighted some of the most frightening batshitery:

I've summarized with a few illustrative quotes - from the Virginia Republican Party Convention a few weeks ago. Just remember, these are the (extreme, sex-and-abortion-obsessed people) who nominated Ken Cuccinelli, EW Jackson and Mark Obenshain. After watching this video, I think you'll understand why they did! 
*"I'm not a big fan of contraception, frankly...pretty soon I guess we'll hand [morning-after pills] out to babies."
*"Millions and millions of babies that are being murdered, slaughtered."
*"These are people who chose to take human life for a living..."
*"It's the abortion issue, it's the mass slaughter of innocent children that I believe that EW and Cuccinelli as well are against."
*"One thing...would be to ensure that there's never any funding for Planned Parenthood or for any type of family planning clinics in Virginia...I think that's something, if we do elect a Republican Lt. Governor, we would be able to perhaps get that through."
*"...our state is very supportive of the foundation of marriage being between one man and one woman."
*"EW truly Obama's worst nightmare."
*EW Jackson is "not offended by color issues."
*"Northern Virginia ought to be cut off from the state."

NOTE: These folks are always about jettisoning those who do not subscribe to their extremist views and  how they care little or nothing about the economy and issues to most Virginians.  Instead, it is all about forcing their Christofascist views on all Virginians.

Australian Catholic Church Reveals Names of 29 Melboune Priests Guilty of Sex Abuse

The filth and dirty linen of the Roman Catholic Church in Australia continues to be dragged into public view as the government inquiry into sexual abuse of children continues.  One can only hope that Australian Catholics will react like their counterparts in Ireland who have largely walked away from the morally bankrupt institutional Church.   As a parent of three children, there is absolutely nothing that enrages me more than the callousness of the Church hierarchy which literally did not give a damn about victims of abuse.  Worse yet, in many instances victims and their families were visited by henchmen for the hierarchy - e.g., Former Knights of Columbus Supreme Chaplain, Bishop Daily and former New York Archbishop Egan acted as such thugs for Cardinal Law - and intimidated into silence.  ABC News (Australia) looks at the latest revelations.  Here are highlights:

Last week the Archbishop of Melbourne, Denis Hart, told Victoria's child abuse inquiry the church had paid compensation to the victims of 59 priests who had worked in the archdiocese.  The church revealed the names of 29 of those priests on Thursday, including repeat offenders Desmond Gannon and Michael Glennon.

However, it says it will not name the remaining 30 priests because several were dead when allegations were made and they did not have a chance to respond.

The church is also withholding the names of priests who were not charged after police investigations.
Meanwhile, Victorian detectives have applied to question convicted paedophile priest Gerald Ridsdale about more allegations of child sexual abuse.

The 79-year-old, who is one of Australia's worst paedophile priests, is serving a prison sentence for abusing children between the 1960s and 1980s.

Ridsdale has a hearing before the Victoria's adult parole board within the next month, but detectives have successfully applied to the Melbourne Magistrates' Court to interview him over abuse committed in the 60s and 70s.  In 1994, Ridsdale pleaded guilty to sexual abuse against 21 children. Seven years ago he was sentenced again over another 35 charges.

Here's the list of the names released:

Anthony Bongiorno, John Byrne, Peter Chalk, David Daniel, Bernard Day, Anthony Eames, Nazareno Fasciale, Desmond Gannon, Michael Glennon, Jack Gubbels, Barry Gwillim, Penn Jones, Bernie Mackin, Terry Merivale, Syd Morey, John O'Callaghan, Kevin O'Donnell, Tom O'Keefe, Paul Pavlou, Dominic Phillips, Ronald Pickering, Terrence Pidoto, Victor Rubeo, Peter Searson, Ray Whitehouse
 The Church hierarchy is a putrid cesspool.  Decent, moral Catholics need to vote with their feet and walk away.

Gay Marriage Map Shifts Ahead Of Supreme Court Ruling

Click image to enlarge
One has to wonder what id going through the minds of some of the possible swing votes on the U. S. Supreme Court in Hollingsworth v. Perry and United States v. Windsor as things continue to change rapidly on the gay marriage issue.  Huffington Post has an update:

As the U.S. Supreme Court prepares to rule on the Defense of Marriage Act and Proposition 8, all eyes are on Justice Anthony Kennedy, the likely swing vote in the gay marriage cases.

Kennedy described the issue of gay marriage as "uncharted waters" when the court first heard arguments in March. He expressed support for gay rights as he has in the past but questioned the timing of a decision because "we have five years of information to weigh against 2,000 years of history or more." He also acknowledged that Proposition 8 causes the children of gay parents "immediate legal injury."

Three states and three countries have legalized gay marriage since March with more legislation pending, and the shift towards equality could influence the Justice who has previously cited world opinion and national consensus as reason to abolish the death penalty for juveniles.
 Does Kennedy - and John Roberts for that matter - really want to be on the wrong side of history and rank in the annals of history with justices who supported slavery and segregation?


Thursday Morning Male Beauty

Who Will Replace Michele Bachmann as the GOP's Queen of Crazy?

With Michele Bachmann mercifully not running for re-election in 2014 and poised to ride off into the political sunset with her lisping husband "Marcia" Bachmann, the question becomes who in the GOP will replace Bachmann as the "Queen of Crazy" in Congress?   Obviously, it will need to be someone seriously delusional, with religious extremist beliefs and generally utterly detached from objective reality.  Given the serious insanity of many of the Congressional Republicans, there are plenty of would be candidates.  However, a piece in Esquire referenced at Civil Commotion suggests that the heir apparent to the title is Vicky Hartzler (pictured above) , who represents the Missouri Fourth Congressional District.    Here are some article highlights (pay special attention to the part about the Chinese spying through toasters - I'm serious!):

With the announced departure of Michele Bachmann from the World’s Greatest Legislative Body today, we inaugurate a new semi-regular weekly feature in which we study the possible successor to la Bachmann as Queen Regent of the Crazy People. (Louie Gohmert is, of course, emperor for life). A Top Commenter from Missouri has suggested Vicky Hartzler, who represents the Fourth Congressional District of that state and, boy howdy, the Top Commenter is not kidding. Among other things, Ms. Hartzler apparently believes that the heathen Chinee are spying on us through our toasters.

"And I am concerned. They are shipping all the, I’m concerned about the microchips. That they are in many, many of the things that we own. And some of those are embedded, I believe, with, with detection and, uh, capabilities or tracking capabilities."

She'd also rather the government not tolerate those "fringe religions" because the First Amendment says that Congress Shall Make No Law Unless Vicky Hartzler Thinks Your God Is Freaky.
No, it's not their role at all. Their role is to facilitate basic policy for our country and to not to try to lift up one religion over the other, they should be defending the basic rights that we have, that freedom of religion here, and certainly not facilitating or accommodating fringe religions, it's crazy.
However, Vicky Hartzler's God is cool because He does great oppo research.
"The accounts of Absalom and David reveal important truths about campaigning and serving," Hartzler wrote. "Absalom was the first politician. He sought higher office and actively campaigned for it. Absalom won over the hearts of the people of Israel using time-tested campaign strategies. We, too, can campaign successfully following these same guidelines. In addition, if elected, we can serve honorably, heeding the insights gained from the circumstances behind his victory. Absalom was able to win not only because he implemented a winning strategy, but also because God allowed it as punishment for David's sin with Bathsheba."
In 2012, she won re-election with 60 percent of the vote. So, yes, Vicky Hartzler, congratulations. You've made the field.

This would all be laughable but for the fact this half baked lunatic is a member of Congress.  That she won reelection with 60% of the vote - no doubt in a gerrymandered district) is nothing less than an indictment of today's GOP.  Hartzler is more fit to be in an insane aslym than to me walking the halls of Congress.

Can the GOP Appeal to Women?

Apparently, far right columnist Jennifer Rubin is trying to get herself exiled from the Republican Party.  How else to explain her spate of columns taking the GOP to task for its embrace of ignorance and bigotry - translation: the Christianist and Tea Party - and it's refusal to accept that the world and nation are changing and that the GOP must change as well.  In her latest column in the Washington Post she looks at the GOP agenda that is increasingly forcing women who haven't had a lobotomy into the arms of the Democrats.   Rubin's position is a far cry from egomaniac Phyllis Schlafly who wants the GOP to focus only on white voters per Right Wing Watch:

Eagle Forum’s Phyllis Schlafly is riled up about comprehensive immigration reform, and she has hardly been hiding the reason why. Last month, Schlafly predicted that comprehensive reform would be “suicide for the Republican Party” because immigrants “come from a country” where they expect “a handout” from the government. 

Then, she claimed that Mitt Romney lost the presidential election not because of eroding support for the GOP among people of color, but because “his drop-off from white voters was tremendous” – which is just blatantly false.

But in an interview this week with conservative radio program Focus Today, Schlafly just came right out and said it. Calling the GOP’s need to reach out to Latinos a “great myth,” Schlafly said that “the people the Republicans should reach out to are the white votes, the white voters who didn’t vote in the last election.”  

Let's be candid.  Schlafly is a racists and she is a long time opponent of fully equality for women (other than herself, of course).  In contrast, here are highlights from Rubin's column:

The Post reports:
In a trend accelerated by the recent recession and an increase in births to single mothers, nearly four in 10 families with children under the age of 18 are now headed by women who are the sole or primary breadwinners for their families, according to a report released Wednesday by the Pew Research Center.
This has significant implications for all facets of American life, from child-rearing to culture to economics. And it should wake up Republicans to the need to recalibrate their message.

So how badly are Republicans doing with women?  .  .  .  . [Mitt Romney] lost women overall by a 44 to 55 percent margin.

The message that too many women heard from the GOP (and that Democrats exploited) was negative – finger-wagging at contraception and demeaning women in the military (as Rick Santorum did), commenting in outlandish ways about rape and decrying gay marriage. For those women not already in sync with Republicans, it came across as harsh, off-putting and mean spirited. They concluded that the GOP had nothing for them and, if they were single mothers, that Republicans didn’t really approve of them.

The message that focused on entrepreneurs, tax cuts and repealing Obamacare was not that attractive either. Most women don’t own or start businesses.

Put it this way: The image of the fiery, ferocious conservative warrior that the right-wing media applauds is precisely the type that turns off women voters who aren’t already die-hard Republicans.
I suspect that the GOP will ignore Rubin's message and embrace that of Schlafly.  The GOP base is increasingly insular and demands that the GOP focus only on the wishes and wants of the Christofascists - i.e., special rights - and the demented members of the Tea Party who make Neanderthals look like rocket scientists.


Chief Reviewer Trashes Regnerus Anti-Gay Parenting "Study"

Mark Regnerus - author of discredited anti-gay study

In both Hollingsworth v. Perry and United States v. Windsor the Christofascists tried to make much of the far right funded "study" Mark Regnerus which seemingly had a preordained conclusion before Regnerus ever started and which most certainly did not study what it claimed to cover.  In short, the study was a fraudulent piece that was funded by Christofascists for the very purpose of misleading the U.S. Supreme Court and other courts considering gay rights cases.   In short, the "study" is more akin to something Paul Cameron might produce rather than a serious scientific study.  Now a reviewer of the work has slammed Regnerus and his propaganda piece "study."   Here are highlights from The New Civil Rights Movement:

The Regnerus anti-gay parenting “study” by Mark Regnerus (image, above) is “deeply flawed” and as a result, the author himself is “disgraced,” says the study’s top appointed scholarly reviewer.

In a lengthy interview with the Southern Poverty Law Center, Darren Sherkat, a professor of sociology at Southern Illinois University, and a member of the editorial board of Social Science Research — the publisher of the Regnerus “study,” officially the “New Family Structures Study” (NFSS) – once again decimates the Regnerus paper.

“When we talk about Regnerus, I completely dismiss the study,” Sherkat tells the Southern Poverty Law Center:
It’s over. He has been disgraced. All of the prominent people in the field know what he did and why he did it. And most of them know that he knew better. Some of them think that he’s also stupid and an ideologue. I know better. I know that he’s a smart guy and that he did this on purpose, and that it was bad, and that it was substandard.
Darren Sherkat, who “was tapped” by Social Science Research editor James Wright “to conduct an audit of the process of publishing the Regnerus study,” the SPLC writes:
Let’s get down to the details. What’s wrong with the Regnerus paper?Regnerus and other right-wing activists have been fond of claiming that the study is “population-based” or a “national probability study.” As a scientist, I don’t even know what “population-based” means, and the data used in this study are by no means a probability sample. Regnerus’ data are from a large number of people recruited through convenience by a marketing firm — they are not a random, representative sample of the American population. Science requires random samples of the population, and that is not how this marketing firm collected their data.
Several scholars also have pointed to incongruities and outlandish values in the Regnerus study, such as people claiming hundreds of sex partners in the prior week. The online collection of data makes the veracity of responses even more problematic.
Isn’t a key criticism also that the study doesn’t actually address children growing up in households of self-identified LGBT parents?
The key measure of gay and lesbian parenting is simply a farce. The study includes a retrospective question asking if people knew if their mother or father had a “romantic” relationship with someone of the same sex when the respondent was under age 18. This measure is problematic on many levels.

Regnerus admits that just two of his respondents were actually raised by a same-sex couple, though I doubt that he can even know that, given his limited data. Since only two respondents were actually raised in gay or lesbian households, this study has absolutely nothing to say about gay parenting outcomes. Indeed, because it is a non-random sample, this study has nothing to say about anything.

It's troubling that to date Regnerus has not been disciplined by the university that employs him and has not lost any memberships in professional organizations.  Is this yet another example of unfounded deference to conservative religious beliefs?   No one lies as often and as viciously than the "godly folks."

P.S. My fellow blogger Jeremy Hooper at Good As You notes:
This weekend, Mark Regnerus will appear at the “It Takes A Family” conference, a project of the National Organization for Marriage’s Ruth Institute, where he will lecture alongside intensely anti-gay figures like Robert Gagnon. Just in case you needed more grist for the agenda-driven mill.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

More Wednaesday Male Beauty

Bachmann's Retirement May Improve GOP Chances.

I will admit that I cannot stand Michele Bachmann.  She typifies what's wrong with today's GOP and she also shows what's wrong with allowing Christofascist nutcases in taking over a major political party.    The irony is that while she viewed herself as a GOP/Christianist champion, some believe that her exodus may actually help the GOP.  The Party certainly doesn't need a high profile idiot advertising just how insane the GOP has become.  A piece in Politico looks at Bachmann's decision not to seek re-election and how it helps the GOP:

Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) — the tea-party firebrand facing investigations and a daunting reelection race — abruptly announced on Wednesday morning that she will not seek reelection to a fifth term.

Her move marked a spectacular fall for a congresswoman with a bull’s eye on her back every congressional cycle: Less than two years ago, she won the Iowa straw poll and was briefly regarded as a serious contender for the GOP presidential nomination.

With Bachmann’s departure, the tea party’s voice in Congress will dim. She is the movement’s third big-name figure in recent months to leave Congress — Jim DeMint of South Carolina resigned from the Senate in January to take over the Heritage Foundation. And in November, Florida Rep. Allen West, another conservative bomb thrower, lost reelection.

Ironically, the retirement may improve Republicans’ chances of holding Minnesota’s conservative 6th Congressional District, which broke for Mitt Romney by nearly 15 percentage points in 2012. Democrats had Bachmann at the top of their target list after she barely survived reelection last year. The Democrat who came close to defeating her, Jim Graves, was gearing up for a rematch.

In Graves, she was up against an opponent who came within 5,000 votes — or 1.2 percent points — of unseating her last November. Graves, a wealthy hotel company executive who poured $250,000 of his own funds into the 2012 contest, released a poll last week showing him with a narrow lead over the congresswoman.

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, which provided Graves with little help in 2012, had indicated that it planned to get behind the challenger aggressively in Round Two. Though Bachmann would have had an enormous war chest, the defeat of West — another tea party hero with a national following and big money — showed that such figures are not invincible.

The congresswoman’s decision comes as a shock to Republican officials, many of whom thought she was taking serious steps to running for reelection. Early this month, Bachmann began airing TV ads highlighting her role in sponsoring legislation to repeal President Barack Obama’s health care law – an especially early point in the election season for a House member to begin running commercials.

 Bachmann’s outsized success with the conservative grassroots was not matched with equal prowess inside the Beltway. In the Capitol, the Minnesota Republican never proved herself a savvy legislative operator, or even a real factor in the rough and tumble of Congressional brawling. She drew her strength from her ability to grab headlines opposing President Barack Obama’s legislative agenda.

I say good riddance.  Bachmann embraced bigotry, ignorance and with her husband has peddled "ex-gay" lies in order to enrich herself and her Nellie husband..  

Openly Gay Scout Leaders Less A Threat than Closeted Scout Leaders and Catholic Priests

As long time readers of this blog know, time and time again the sexual predators who prey on children and youths are not well adjusted openly gay individuals.  No, it's the closeted Catholic priests who have been warped psychologically by the Church hierarchy's obsession with all things sexual, especially gay sex, and closeted Republicans, and conservative religious denomination pastors (e.g., Southern Baptists) who are the true threats to children and youth.  Normal, well adjusted gays simply do not need to prey on children to fulfill their sexual fantasies and to find sexual partners.   Yet, but barring openly gay scoutmasters, the Boy Scouts of America have unwittingly agreed to continue to provide unfettered opportunity to closet cases who pose the most significant risk of sexual molestation to children and youths.  Andrew Sullivan looks at this reality:

YouGov finds that a majority of the public agrees with the Boy Scouts’ new policy of accepting gay troops but banning gay troop leaders.  

I suspect the issue has been clouded by the impact of the sexual abuse crisis in the Catholic church and understandably greater nervousness about allowing boys to be supervised by grown men away from their parents. But although that’s understandable, it’s irrational. Openly gay scoutmasters are far less likely to abuse boys than closet case “bachelors” – because they are more emotionally and sexually adjusted. And closet-case “bachelors” will remain in the Scouts, while the less damaged ones are purged.

This is not to say that all closet-case bachelors are would-be molesters (many have, for decades, channeled their repressed sexuality into completely ethical and moral leadership for boys, including the Boy Scouts founder, Robert Baden Powell, who is now widely regarded as bisexual, if not gay).

The Christofascists and anti-gay hate groups may like to depict gays as sexual predators, but legitimate research shows that it is not the gays who do the bulk of the sexual molesting.  It's the ostensible straight males - many of who are married to women - who are the real threat to children and youths.   The Boy Scouts of America may have pandered to public opinion, but their action did nothing to make young scouts safer from molestation.

Major Gay Donor Cuts off Democrats Over Immigration Bill Betrayal

In 2009 it seemed that Barack Obama and the Congressional Democrats went out of their way to piss off members of the Democrat base and to give the impression that nothing was being accomplished legislatively.  The consequence here in Virginia was that the Democrat base stayed home on election day in November, 2009 and Bob "Taliban Bob" McDonnell and Ken "Kookinelli" Cuccinelli were swept into office.  Fast forward to 2013 and we are again witnessing Obama and national level Democrats doing a reprise of what they did in 2009.  Except here in Virginia the GOP statewide slate is even more insane than the one in 2009.  Will Obama and the Congressional Democrats give the Virginia governorship to a far right Republican yet again?

Some in the LGBT community are over this batshitery and indifference from Obama and his Democrat cohorts in Congress.  And they are showing their displeasure where it most elicits national Democrats' attention: they are cutting off donations.  After the Democrat betrayal of the LGBT community in the U. S. Senate, I have already stated on this blog that Congressional Democrats will not get a penny from me in donations and I have begun asking that my name be removed from donor lists.   That's not to say I won't be supporting state level candidates, but Congressional Democrats can kiss my ass.  I'm not the only one pissed off and, in fact, I am in good company.  Today, gay Democratic Party donor Jonathan Lewis (pictured above) - he's the son of the founder of Progressive Insurance - announced that he is cutting off the money spigot to the Democrats.  Hopefully, other big donors will join suit and a clear message will be sent and hopefully understood.  Namely, Democrats take us for granted at their own risk.  Terry McAuliffe needs to call Obama and some of his U. S. Senate friends and ask them "WTF are you doing?"  The Washington Blade looks at Lewis' action and the rumblings coming from other donors.  Here are highlights:

Prominent gay Democratic Party donor Jonathan Lewis is pledging to cut off funds to the party over his disappointment that bi-national same-sex couples were excluded from the immigration reform bill.

In a statement provided to the Washington Blade on Tuesday, the Miami-based philanthropist said he’s turning off the tap for Democrats and urging others to do the same over the immigration issue and President Obama’s reluctance to issue an executive order barring LGBT workplace discrimination.

“During the immigration reform debate Senate Democrats had the opportunity to reverse some of the harm caused by DOMA and they buckled under pressure, essentially taking LGBT families for granted,” Lewis said. “With the president failing to deliver on his promised federal contractor executive order and with Senate Democrats caving to Republican threats, now is the time to stop investing in Democratic cowardice and stand proud by withholding donations until we see our friends’ actions and deeds align with their rhetoric — I will be withholding my donation and asking all of my friends and family members to do the same until such time

Lewis, who provided money to fund LGBT groups such as Freedom to Work and GetEQUAL, provided the maximum amount of $30,800 to the Democratic National Committee and the maximum amount of $2,500 to President Obama’s re-election campaign in the last election cycle. His fortune comes from his family, founders of Progressive Insurance.

Neither the White House nor the DNC responded to a request for comment on Lewis’ statement.

[O]ne LGBT advocacy group that worked to include UAFA is saying Lewis’ sentiment is shared by others who’ve supported the Democratic Party.

Steve Ralls, a spokesperson for Immigration Equality, said he’s heard from Democratic donors that they’re “rethinking the political contributions and priorities” following the exclusion of the amendment for gay couples from immigration reform, although he wasn’t immediately able to provide names.

“I can assure you that in private conversations, significant Democratic donors have had with our executive director and with other people working on this said they were very disappointed in what happened last week, and they’re looking at where they invest their donations moving forward,” Ralls said.

“There is palpable anger among the LGBT community in social media, in conversations that we’ve had with supporters,” Ralls said. “I do think there will be a political price for senators to pay.”

As an aside, Lewis provided a significant part of the funding for the December 2008 LGBT Blogger Summit I attended in Washington, D.C., and for that I want to say "Thank you!"

Wednesday Morning Male Beauty E.W. Jackson All Wrong for Virginia GOP

Virginia GOP's triumvirate of bigotry and insanity

I have to say that there is some definite entertainment value in seeing even far right crazies jump on the band wagon of decrying the nomination of E.W. Jackson as the Virginia GOP's candidate for Lt. Governor.   What's telling of course, is that GOP gubernatorial candidate Ken Cuccinelli is just as nuts as Jackson, albeit more discrete as to when and where he lets loose his verbal batshirtery.  Now - not exactly a rational site in most instances, although not as utterly insane as World Net Daily, a/k/a Wing Nut Daily - has joined in the Jackson bashing and lamentation that Jackson may drag down Cuccinelli and the likewise insane Mark Obenshain.  Here are excerpts from the anti-Jackson piece:

Any conservative, who thinks E.W. Jackson winning Virginia's 2013 Republican Lieutenant Governor nomination is a good thing, needs to have his or her head examined. A former marine, lawyer and minister, Jackson has made incendiary remarks in the past about gays, blacks and Democrats and yet refuses to retract anything he has said.

This “firebrand” won’t help the Republican ticket of Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli for Governor and Mark Obenshain for Attorney General in a state that has become more purple than red and in which the race for governor remains rancorous and tight. Jackson referred to gays and lesbians as “sick” and “perverted” people and compared homosexuality to pedophilia. Defending traditional marriage is one thing; encouraging hate is another.

Jackson assailed Democrats for being “anti-God” and said Planned Parenthood “has been far, far more lethal to black lives than the KKK ever was.”

Jackson’s excuse for his offensive comments was he made them as pastor of Exodus Faith Ministries, the church he founded but now as a candidate he vowed only to about jobs and the economy. But Jackson is still the same person. As a native Virginian, born and raised in Richmond, I know something’s wrong when the Richmond Times-Dispatch, one of the most conservative paper’s in the country, is daily deriding Jackson as a right-wing nut. 

For conservatives who need their memories jogged, after decades of Virginia voting Republican in presidential elections, President Obama won Virginia in 2008 and again in 2012. Mitt Romney lost because he lost the minority vote to Obama. Looking at these results, not to mention Tim Kaine’s victory over George Allen in Virginia’ 2012 Senate race, one would think Republicans in the state would learn their lesson and nominate candidates that would attract -- and not repel -- more voters.

As political analyst Larry Sabato said: “Cuccinelli brought this problem on himself.” Cuccinelli successfully got the Virginia GOP to change the nomination rules from a primary to convention format to ensure his victory over Lt. Governor Bill Bolling for the gubernatorial nomination before Bolling decided not to run.

Aside from the Jackson fiasco, I have read precious little about Cuccinelli taking his message beyond Virginia’s white electorate. With polls showing an exceedingly close race between Cuccinelli and Democrat Terry McAuliffe, every color vote will count in Virginia. Have Virginia Republicans learned any new tricks? If Jackson is the best they’ve got, then the GOP is more doomed than I thought.

The column author - a black woman - is 100% correct.  There is bound to be much more fun between now and November.

Prosecutor: Parents' Religious Belief Led to Child's Death

We hear the disingenuous mantra from the National Organization for Marriage and anti-gay hate groups that "every child deserves a mother and father."   It's a line of bullshit and in the case of  Brandon Schaible, the young boy might still be alive if he had a gay couple as parents as opposed to Christianist whack jobs, Catherine and Herbert Schaible who withheld medical treatment, preferring to "pray."   Thankfully, the boys parents are being criminally prosecuted and will hopefully be convicted and spend time in prison.  Brandon Schaible again underscores the dangers of unfettered religious belief be it crazy Christian fundamentalism or Islamic jihadist.  Both are a foul and poisonous evil in the world.  Both need to be eradicated.   CNN Religion Blog looks at Brandon's murder by his "godly" parents (the murderers are pictured above).  Here are excerpts (NOTE: they had already killed another child):

When Brandon Schaible got a rash, his parents prayed.  When the 7-month-old became irritable with diarrhea and lost his appetite, his parents, Catherine and Herbert Schaible, prayed again.
When Brandon had trouble breathing and gasped for air, his parents called a pastor - this, in spite of the fact that a judge had ordered them to call a doctor.

Brandon Schaible died on April 18 from bacterial pneumonia, dehydration and strep, according to the district attorney’s office – all treatable with antibiotics.

On Wednesday his parents were charged with third-degree murder.  The Schaibles are lifelong members of the First Century Gospel Church in Philadelphia, one of several religious groups in the U.S. that relies on faith, and eschews most medical care.

Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams says the Schaibles’ failure to seek medical attention resulted in the death of their son.  “Instead of caring and nurturing him,” Williams said, “they ultimately caused his death by praying over his body instead of taking him to the doctor.”

The Schaibles are also charged with involuntary manslaughter, conspiracy and endangering the welfare of a child. In April, the couple admitted to police that their son had exhibited symptoms for several days before he died.

On Friday, Court of Common Pleas Judge Benjamin Lerner ordered the Schaibles held without bail out of fear they were a flight risk.

The Schaibles are already on probation for the 2009 death of another son, Kent, who died from bacterial pneumonia. A jury convicted the couple of involuntary manslaughter and sentenced them to 10 years probation.

“How many kids have to die before it becomes an extreme indifference to the value of human life?” McCann asked. “They killed one child already.”

If convicted of third-degree murder in Brandon’s death, the Schaibles could face a maximum sentence of 50 years in prison, Lerner said. They also face an additional 7 to 14 years if a judge decides to revoke their probation in Kent’s death.

I hope they get the maximum.  Let's be clear.  Raising children in Christofascists homes is nothing short of a form of child abuse.  Groundless deference to religious belief needs to stop - especially when it endangers the lives and mental well being of children.

Gerrymandered GOP Congressional Districts Became Whiter, More Conservative

Many in the GOP - especial demagogues in the GOP Congressional delegation in the House of Representatives - claim that the 2012 election gave them a mandate since the GOP retained control of the House.  The truth, of course, is something quite different.  Retention of control of the House had little to do with support for GOP policies and everything to do with carefully gerrymandered districts that sought to insure the election of GOP candidates.  A case in point is Virginia's 2nd Congressional district which was redrawn in a ridiculous manner to make sure that hate group founder endorsed Scott Rigell would be re-elected.  But for the outrageous changes to his district, Rigell likely would have lost in 2012.  A story in USA Today looks at how districts were redrawn to package whites and conservatives together to block GOP losses.  Here are story highlights:

Momentum to overhaul the nation's immigration laws is fueled by the growing political influence of Hispanics in America, but in the U.S. House there is diminishing incentive for Republicans to support the effort because their constituents have become whiter, more conservative and less diverse than the nation as a whole.

In 2012, the congressional district lines that make up the 435-seat chamber were redrawn as part of the once-a-decade process to balance out population shifts.

GOP-led redistricting efforts moved areas with high concentrations of predominantly Democratic minority voters out of GOP dominant districts and into Democratic-heavy districts, thereby making both districts less competitive in a general election.

According to the non-partisan Cook Political Report, House Republicans today represent 6.6 million fewer minorities than in 2002 — the last time the lines were redrawn. The average GOP district is now 75% white, up 2 percentage points after the 2012 reconfiguration, while the average Democratic district is 51% white, down one percentage point since 2002.

"What's amazing is Republicans were able to actually make their districts ... whiter in the 2012 round of redistricting even though minorities were responsible for most of the growth of the U.S. population in the past 10 years," said David Wasserman, an election analyst for the Cook Report.

The 2010 redistricting resulted in a stronger GOP grip on the House, but also a political climate where incumbents are more vulnerable to primary challenges than general election battles, election analysts say, boosting the political pressure on incumbents to appeal to base voters. And voters in the Republican base are skeptical of proposals to make immigration easier.
Conservative Super PACs are already forming to target Republicans on immigration.
"It must be defeated in its entirety, period," said Lorie Medina, a Tea Party activist who chairs the Real Conservatives National Committee. The group has vowed to find and fund primary challengers to any Republican who supports a legislative overhaul similar to the Senate proposal, which the group considers an "amnesty" bill.

In short, the open racism and toxic nature of the GOP continues to intensify.