Saturday, June 29, 2013

My First Sailing Regatta

Although I have sailed for many years - since childhood, actually starting at the family Adirondack camp and later on my famly's 25 foot Cape Dory - today I will be crewing in my first regatta.  There is a national regatta for Albacore class sailboats (see image below) based out of the Hampton Yacht Club, and additional classes will have races as well.  I will be aboard one of the Club's six Sonar class boats (see image above).  The weather could be prettier, but it ought to be a lot of fun.  As the club's first membership wide announced openly gay couple, our experiences at the club to date have been great and have shown that not all of Virginia is inhabited by knuckle dragging Neanderthals.  I'll let you know how the day goes.

Saturday Morning Male Beauty

Wingnuts: DOMA Ruling Was As Bad As Pearl Harbor

The hysteria from the far right over the DOMA decision earlier this week continues and provides yet further proof that the Christofascists truly do either (i) live in some warped alternate reality or (ii) need serious mental health interventions.   How else to explain the intense need they display to cling to very selective passages of a book written thousands of years ago by ignorant nomads and which biblical scholars agree contains many forgeries and irregularities that make it more then obvious to sentient individuals that it's anything but the inerrant "word of God."  Illustrative of this batshitery is the ranting and whining of Lisa Van Houten of the American Decency Association (yet another "family values" organization aimed at keeping charlatans employed and living the good life while trampling on the freedoms of others).  Right Wing Watch looks at Van Houten's deranged lament:

The American Decency Association’s Lisa Van Houten is warning that the Supreme Court’s DOMA decision “will live in infamy” just like Pearl Harbor. Van Houten claims that pastors will “be prosecuted for preaching” against homosexuality and refusing to perform same-sex weddings, people will be “charged with discrimination” if they don’t “embrace homosexuality,” anti-gay groups will lose their non-profit status, and, worst of all, America will face divine punishment.

As we look back on history there are dates which we now see were crossroads, turning points for nations and cultures. July 4, 1776; June 6, 1944. December 7, 1941; January 22, 1973. Battles fought, decisions made – some establishing goodness and justice, others are dates that “will live in infamy.” 
I believe today, June 26, 2013, is the latter. A date when the United in favor of same sex marriage, and undermined true marriage – one man and one woman – which States Supreme Court ruled was instituted, not by any government, but by God. 
The homosexual agenda cannot and will not abide peaceably alongside the true, biblical institutions of marriage and family as ordained by God. As the homosexual agenda is legitimized – even by the United States Supreme Court - marriage, family, and our religious liberty will be undermined.

Consider the following short list of what may be in our future :

1. Hate crime laws will be increasingly instituted and enforced. Will pastors be prosecuted for preaching what God’s Word says regarding homosexuality and refusing to perform same sex “marriage” ceremonies?

2. Homosexuality will be a protected class by the government. Christian school teachers and administrators, pastors, business owners, etc. could be charged with discrimination if they speak out against or refuse to embrace homosexuality.

3. Organizations such as our own American Decency could easily lose their (c)3 tax-exempt, non-profit status as we continue to call homosexuality what it is - SIN.

4. God will not bless a nation that puts a stamp of approval upon that which he calls an abomination. The evidences of God’s displeasure are evident and becoming more so with each passing day.

Item No. 3 is probably her biggest worry.  That said, one can only assume that Van Houten hasn't read her Bible lately - especially the Old Testament - or else she'd know that POLYGAMY, not one man, one woman is the biblical norm for marriage.  She also needs to read the Commandment against lying and bearing false witness while she's at it.  One has to wonder what these people would do if they had to get real jobs instead of making a living disseminating lies and shaking down the gullible and ignorant.  Van Houten is little more than a con-artist trying to hide behind a veil of respectability.  She and those like her deserve no respect and certainly no deference of any kind.

P.S. Among the things Van Houten's group rants and raves is the depravity of Glee.  And not surprisingly, it has some ties to anti-gay hate group, AFA. 
Lisa Van Houten
Lisa Van Houten

Justice Alito: 'The Idea That Romantic Love Is a Prerequisite to Marriage' is the Problem

If there's any doubt about the backward thinking of supposed "thinkers" and "intellectuals on the far right, one need look no further than Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito's (Alito is pictured at left) recent dissent in United States v. Windsor in which this Neanderthal bemoans that the idea of romantic love should be a part of marriage began all the problems surrounding marriage and gay marriage in particular.  Alito seemingly longs for the days when women were bartered by their male relatives for livestock and other financial or political benefits with out a care as to whether the woman involved could even tolerate her often much older husband.  Alito's creepy views are certainly in keeping with the Christofascist agenda of subservient wives and sex being only for procreation (and male pleasure).  Huffington Post looks at Alito's batshitery.  Here are excerpts:
There's been lots of discussion about Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia's off-the-rails DOMA dissent, but if you really want a peek into the mind of someone living a couple of centuries in the past -- and using pseudo-academic rationales rather than pure emotion, like Scalia -- you've got to read Justice Samuel Alito's concurring dissent on DOMA.  In it we learn that the problem with the decline of marriage really began with "the ascendence of the idea that romantic love is a prerequisite to marriage."

This makes me think that a) Justice Alito purchased his wife at an auction, or from her parents in exchange for a plot of land and a couple of mules, or b) she kicked him out of the house the moment he walked in the door after she read his dissent.

Is this what conservatives really think, that the real problem is that we're marrying for love?
The family is an ancient and universal human institution. Family structure reflects the characteristics of a civilization, and changes in family structure and in the popular understanding of marriage and the family can have profound effects. Past changes in the understanding of marriage -- for example, the gradual ascendance of the idea that romantic love is a prerequisite to marriage -- have had far-reaching consequences.... We can expect something similar to take place if same-sex marriage becomes widely accepted. The long-term consequences of this change are not now known and are unlikely to be ascertainable for some time to come.
I can't imagine that Alito really believes we should go back to arranged marriages. But the man who stated during oral arguments on DOMA that gay unions are "newer than cellphones and the Internet" does appear to believe that the shift to "romantic love" was a dramatic change that caused such a jolt to the institution of marriage

"At present, no one -- including social scientists, philosophers, and historians -- can predict with any certainty what the long-term ramifications of widespread acceptance of same-sex marriage will be," Alito warns. And for that reason Alito believes the court should have upheld DOMA. The logical conclusion of this reasoning is that if the government could have enforced arranged marriage with a federal law, it should have, since no one could predict the outcome of these newfangled romantic-love marriages, which altered the institution of marriage forever.

The descent of the far right into utter insanity continues and it is frightening that someone as out of touch with normal reality is on the Supreme Court.

Reflections as Gay Marriages Resume in California

Yesterday, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals lifted its stay in the Proposition 8 case and gay marriages resumed in the nation's most populous state as couples turned out in droves to tie the knot.  I'm thrilled for these couples who will now be living in a state where they receive equal rights as citizens.  It's a bitter sweet feeling knowing that in Virginia it may be many years before LGBT Virginians ceasing being the new blacks under Virginia's discriminatory laws.  One thing the flood of California marriages will do is set the stage for more pressure on Virginia businesses to demand that the Virginia GOP stop pandering to spittle flecked Bible beaters as the competition for top employees becomes increasingly tilted against Virginia businesses.  In the past, big businesses have been the major players in reversing anti-gay laws - e.g., Capital One led the charge to end the ban on employer paid insurance benefits for same sex partners.  Think Progress looks at developments in California:

On Friday afternoon, the ninth circuit court lifted its stay on same-sex marriages in the state of California, acknowledging the Supreme Court’s opinion in Hollingsworth v Perry that supporters of anti-gay Proposition 8 did not have standing to appeal a lower court judge’s ruling that the ban on same-sex marriage was unconstitutional. The move, which came earlier than expected, allows gay and lesbian couples to begin getting married immediately.

As soon as the news came down from the ninth circuit on Friday, California’s Attorney General Kamala Harris began marrying couples — starting with Proposition 8 plaintiffs Kristin Perry and Sandra Stier.

UCLA estimates that 37,000 same-sex couples in California will get married in the next three years. 

Earlier on Friday, the Office of Personnel Management issued new guidance for “heads of executive departments and agencies” on how they should treat the gay and lesbian couples whose marriages are newly acknowledged as valid, thanks to the Supreme Court’s ruling that the Defense of Marriage Act is unconstitutional. Both situations underscore the immediate, life-changing impact that same-sex couples are experiencing in the wake of Wednesday’s decisions.

The contrast between California Attorney General Kamala Harris and Ken "Kookinelli" Cuccinelli could not be more stark: Harris supports modernity and equality while Kookinelli supports hate, ignorance and bigotry (all while likely tortured by self-loathing and secretly longing for some hot gay sex).

Friday, June 28, 2013

More Friday Male Beauty

Congressional Climate Deniers - Virginia Ranks in La La Land

As the last post noted, the Republican Party has become a religious organization that rejects modernity and anything that suggests that the beliefs of the Christofascists party base might be wrong.  The dignity and normalcy of gays - particularly gay marriage - threatens the ability of the simpleminded (and their pastors in the pulpit) to blindly cling to a few selective Bible passages.  Evolution, naturally causes conniptions since it clearly debunks a literal approach to the Bible.  So too does climate change because it goes against the same closed minded, ignorant by choice mindset that prefers to hang onto the writings of uneducated, wandering goat herders from 2,500 years ago rather than engage in meaningful though and moral deliberations.  With the Virginia GOP firmly in the grips of the Christofascists, as Think Progress reports, Virginia's congressional delegation ranks among the most insane in the country when it comes to climate change denial.  Yep, right up there with Oklahoma. Here are excerpts:

Climate change is happening, humans are the cause, and a shocking number — more than 65 percent — of congressional Republicans refuse to accept it.

155 elected representatives from the 113th Congress have taken over $51 million from the fossil fuel industry that is the driving force behind the carbon emissions that cause climate change. They deny what over 97 percent of climate scientists say is happening — current human activity creates the greenhouse gas emissions that trap heat within the atmosphere and cause climate change. And their constituents are paying the price, with Americans across the nation suffering 368 climate-related national disaster declarations since 2011.

Almost 70 percent — 125 members — of the current Republican caucus in the House of Representatives deny the basic tenets of climate science. 65 percent (30 members) of the Senate Republican caucus also deny climate change. What this means is that they have made public statements indicating that they question or reject that climate change is real, is happening, and is caused by human consumption of fossil fuels.

This refusal to accept overwhelming scientific evidence is not just a symptom of the rank-and-file backbenchers. Members of GOP leadership and the committees that make critical decisions on national energy policy and air pollution have even higher concentrations:

  • 90 percent of the Republican leadership in both House and Senate deny climate change
  • 17 out of 22 Republican members of the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology, or 77 percent, are climate deniers
  • 22 out of 30 Republican members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, or 73 percent deny the reality of climate change
  • 100 percent of Senate Environment and Public Works Committee Republicans have said climate change is not happening or that humans do not cause it
Some states are sorely suffering the effects of climate change in the form of climate-fueled natural disasters even as their elected representatives take in millions from fossil fuel contributions and reject the reality of climate science:
  • 18 members of the Texas congressional delegation deny the reality of climate change. Over their careers, these members have raked in over $10.8 million from oil, gas, and coal interests. Texas has suffered 58 climate-fueled disaster declarations since 2011.
  • More than half of the Oklahoma delegation denies climate change, and together they have received nearly $2.5 million in fossil fuel money. Since 2011, Oklahomans have borne dozens of disasters worsened by climate change.
  • 7 members of the Virginia congressional delegation — more than half — deny climate change and together they pulled in more than $1.25 million from fossil fuels like oil, gas, and coal interests. And Virginians have 8 disaster declarations to show for it.
Being clinically insane or having undergone a lobotomy are increasingly prerequisites to membership in today's GOP.   Meanwhile, here on the Virginia coast, sea levels continue to rise and flooding problems increase. 

Quote of the Day: The GOP Is a Religious Organization, Not a Political One.

As regular readers know, I come from a family of former Republicans and served myself some years ago on the City Committee for the Republican Party of Virginia Beach.  I remember when what began as an  infiltration of the GOP by Christofascists commenced and, as the GOP moved away from honoring the concept of the separation of church and state I resigned from the GOP.  Things have only gotten far, far worse over the years since I walked away in from the GOP in a combination of disgust and fear.  At this point, all of my immediate family members have walked away from the GOP as well - as did my late parents before their passing.  The fusion of religion and politics was the number one reason we all walked away.  Andrew Sullivan has a spot on description of what today's GOP has become.  Here's the pertinent language:

The GOP, at its core, is a religious organization, not a political one. It is digging in deeper on immigration reform, and marriage equality, and abortion. It is not acting as a rational actor in political competition but as a fundamentalist movement, gerrymandering its way to total resistance to modernity’s increasing diversity of views and beliefs. It is emphatically not a socially conservative force: it is a radical, fundamentalist movement, incapable of accepting any political settlement that does not comport with unchanging, eternal dicta.

It is the great tragedy of the era that Republicans targeted one of the few grass-roots, genuinely conservative movements [gay marriage proponents] as their implacable enemy in the last quarter century. They went after the one group truly trying to shore up and support marriage – and they even wanted to amend the Constitution to do so. They did so, I believe, for one reason alone: fundamentalism. And that is not conservatism. In so many ways, it is conservatism’s eternal nemesis: the refusal to adjust to the times in favor of an ideology that never changes.

Candidly, I do not see how the Christofascist take over can be easily reversed.  Particularly here in Virginia where the Virginia GOP is an arm of The Family Foundation, a virulently anti-gay and anti-minority organization of extremists.

Friday Morning Male Beauty

Obama Follows on Gay Rights -- Again

I've noted before that I keep having a feeling of deja vu this year as once again Barack Obama seems to be in dithering mode rather than a leadership mode on issues important to the Democrat Party base and on gay issues in particular.  It's the same thing that we saw in 2009 and it helped insure a GOP sweep of statewide office here in Virginia.  Hopefully, this year will see a different result in November given the abject insanity of the GOP ticket, but Obama is not helping matters.  A piece in Politico looks at Obama's lack of leadership on LGBT issues, particularly ENDA.  In 29 states gays can be fired at will, yet Obama won't even sign an executive order that would protect federal workers in gay hating states like Virginia.  Here are some article highlights:

Activists for same-sex marriage could use a master grass-roots campaigner as they take their fight from the Supreme Court out into the states – but they’re not going to hold their breath for Barack Obama to lead the charge.
Even Obama’s greatest contribution to the gay-rights cause was a passive one: He chose not to have his Justice Department defend the constitutionality of DOMA in court. And his first public statement after the law was struck down was out of the smartphone of a DOMA challenger – not the pomp of a Rose Garden ceremony.

For now, Obama is focused on the ruling. As he traveled aboard Air Force One to Africa, Obama applauded the court’s decision and said he was directing his Cabinet to “review all relevant federal statutes to ensure this decision, including its implications for federal benefits and obligations, is implemented swiftly and smoothly.”

Yes, I am being hard on Obama.  But the reality is that for gays in 37 states, our relationships still receive no legal recognition and in 29 states we can be fired at will by the "godly Christian" folks.   Being treated as a second class citizen gets old and has a corrosive effect.