Saturday, July 27, 2013

Saturday Morning Male Beauty


Justice Ginsburg Reacts To Epidemic Of Voter Suppression Laws: Told You So





In the wake of the U. S. Supreme Court ruling striking down a portion of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, Republicans in Texas and other states where they control the state legislatures are stampeding to enact voter ID laws aimed at disenfranchising minorities and to a lesser extent college students whom they see as more likely to be Democratic voters.  None of this should be a surprise and, indeed, it is precisely what Scalia, Alito and other conservatives on the Court - including Clarence "Uncle Tom" Thomas - wanted.  Justice Ginsburg forcefully dissented from the ruling and is now saying "I told you so."  Here are highlights from Think Progress:



“I didn’t want to be right,” Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg says about her prediction that striking a key prong of the Voting Rights Act will lead to a wave of minority voter suppression, “but sadly I am.” In an interview with the Associated Press’ Mark Sherman, Ginsburg reiterated one of the core points of her dissent from the five Republican justices’ voting rights decision — “The notion that because the Voting Rights Act had been so tremendously effective we had to stop it didn’t make any sense to me,” Ginsburg said. “And one really could have predicted what was going to happen” once the law was struck down.

What has happened is a rush of voter suppression laws in states once subject to federal supervision under the provision gutted by Ginsburg’s Republican colleagues. Just two hours after the decision was announced, Texas’ attorney general announced that a common voter suppression law would take effect in Texas — and several other states are right behind Texas. In Arizona, Republicans want to redraw district lines to make them less “competitive,” now that federal supervision of the state’s redistricting has lifted. North Carolina Republicans are on the verge of enacting the worst voter suppression law in the country.

In her dissent, Ginsburg warned that “the evolution of voting discrimination into more subtle second-generation barriers is powerful evidence that a remedy as effective as preclearance remains vital to protect minority voting rights and prevent backsliding.” One month later, it’s already clear that Ginsburg was right.

The GOP only wants angry elderly, racist whites to be able to vote since increasingly that is all that remains in the GOP base.


Bryan Fischer Backs Ken Cuccinelli's Sexual Crusade


Ken "Kookinelli" Cuccinelli can try to hide his extreme religious fanaticism - and, in my view, deep mental health/psychological problems - from Virginia voters, but it's simply not working.  Between his insane effort to reinstate Virginia's unconstitutional sodomy law and the loud pronouncements by Christofascists of support their for Cuccinelli, he just cannot hide the extremism.  Now, hate group American Family Association has jumped into the fray and resident extremist Bryan Fischer is trumpeting support for Kookinelli's sexual crusade.  Both Cuccinelli and Fischer want opposite sex vaginal intercourse the only acceptable form of sex in Virginia. The McAuliffe campaign must be salivating with delight.  Towleroad looks at Fischer's bombastic support for Cuccinelli's crusdae to police bedrooms across Virginia.  Here are highlights:

Looks like Virginia Attorney General (and Republican gubernatorial candidate) Ken Cuccinelli has a not-so-surprising ally in his quest to rid the commonwealth of oral and anal sex.  Writing in the Huffington Post, radio host Michelangelo Signorile reports that in a recent interview on his show, American Family Association spokesman Bryan Fischer not only backed Cuccinelli's plan, but also went further, essentially describing it as a necessary public health effort:
In what appeared to be a reference to HPV-related cancers, Fischer said in a conversation with me on SiriusXM Progress that a rise in head, neck and throat cancers "among millennials" is a direct result of the influence of "Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinsky." Throughout the interview, Fischer refused to clearly state what the punishment should be for those who engage in the sexual activity he believes should be banned, alternating between the idea of issuing summonses like "parking tickets" and "speeding tickets"and putting those who engage in oral sex or homosexual sex -- which he compared to drug trafficking, pedophilia and bestiality -- into something similar to drug rehab, at one point even suggesting an "intervention."
Fischer has brought plenty of crazy to the table before, and he's in fine form in his interview with Signorile.  Asked what he thought about oral and anal sex engaged in by heterosexual individuals, Fischer said, "That kind of sexual activity is destructive to the human body and I don’t care who does it.  Let’s talk about Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinsky. We now have an epidemic of cancers of the throat and head and neck among millennials"--apparently, if Fischer is to be believed, because they grew up during Clinton's presidency.

Ken Cuccinelli's sodomy law would make different-sex vaginal intercourse the only acceptable form of sex in Virginia.  That means anal sex and oral sex--whether homosexual or heterosexual, and even amongst married couples--would be illegal.

Even more shockingly, after Cuccinelli lost his attempt to revive Virginia's anti-sodomy laws at the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals in March--which relied explicitly on the Supreme Court's 2003 decision in Lawrence v. Texas invalidating sodomy laws nationwide--the attorney general petitioned the high court to review the decision, in essence asking it to repeal Lawrence.

There's something truly remarkable about the fact that, on this issue at least, there is so little daylight between one of America's most anti-gay voices and the highest law enforcement officer of the nation's 12th most populous state.

As I have stated before, I believe Cuccinelli is a tortured self-loathing closet case.  He reminds me so much of Ed Schrock and other outed GOP politicians.   There is little else to explain his bizarre obsession with gay sex.   And as for the rumors I continue to hear that Cooch has secretly played on our team in the past,  I wish someone would come forward with credible evidence and be willing to sign a sworn statement.  "Outing" Kookinelli would be ever so sweet.



Michele Bachmann Ethics Probe Deepens





I find Michele Bachmann to be a foul individual who worships bigotry and ignorance.  And like so many of the far right who wear feigned religiosity on their sleeves and make a public display of professed faith, the woman is a phony who thinks herself above the rules that govern others (she reminds me of Ken Cuccinelli).  Thus, it is delicious to see that the Congressional ethics probe into her failed presidential campaign is going to be extended even as the FBI conducts its own investigation of Bachmann.  The suspicion grows that her announced retirement may have been an effort to "get out of Dodge" before the other shoe dropped.  Here are excerpts from Politicususa:  


Rep. Michele Bachmann might not make it to ‘retirement,’ in 2014 as the House Ethics Committee has launched an investigation into possible ethics violations surrounding her 2012 presidential run.

[W]hat it means is that the Office of Congressional Ethics found something that is worthy of investigation by the full House Ethics Committee. It is not surprising that they found something. The FBI is already investigating Bachmann and her presidential campaign for secret payments made to Iowa state Sen. Kent Sorenson in exchange for his help in support in the 2012 Iowa caucuses. 

The suspicion has long been that Bachmann’s “retirement” was done in order to head off the federal investigation, the Iowa state investigation, and the House Ethics Committee investigation. Bachmann thought that if she “retired” maybe these legal issues would go away, and allow her to make a political comeback in a couple of years. This is the reason why Bachmann refuses to close the door on potentially running for office again someday.

Bachmann could be looking at expulsion. However, expulsion requires a 2/3 vote in the House, and it is unlikely that enough Republicans would vote to kick her out. The other penalties like censure, reprimand, or a fine are relatively minor, and only require a majority vote.

It looks like Michele Bachmann’s plan to make this all go away by quitting, oops, I mean “retiring” is not working out the way that she wanted it too. If it is revealed and proven that Bachmann was directly connected to the crimes committed, losing her House seat could be the least of her problems. 

I hope the woman goes down big time.  She needs to be driven into the political wilderness permanently.

Desmond Tutu: Going to Hell Better than Worship Homophobic God

Desmond Tutu has time and time again shown himself to be a bold voice for LGBT rights and equality and he has now stated that he would rather go to Hell than worship a homophobic god.  His point, of course, is that God isn't homophobic, it's some of his foulest self-proclaimed followers who are.  Indeed, if one is homophobic - or racist, etc. - one is not truly Christian regardless of whatever lip service one may give to false piety and religiosity.   Tutu made his remarks in conjunction with a new United Nations initiative to oppose homophobia and the deprivation of rights to LGBT individuals.  Tutu is the antithesis of bigots and and hate mongers such as Patriarch Kiril in Russia.The Christofascists have utterly perverted Christianity and are killing Christianity in the eyes of many, especially the younger generations who are leaving religion in droves.  ABC News looks at Tutu's latest declarations against homophobes:

CAPE TOWN - South African peace icon Desmond Tutu on Friday said he would rather go to hell than worship a homophobic God, likening the fight against gay prejudice to the anti-apartheid struggle.

"I would refuse to go to a homophobic heaven. No, I would say sorry, I mean I would much rather go to the other place," the retired archbishop said at the launch of a United Nations gay equality campaign in Cape Town.

"I would not worship a God who is homophobic and that is how deeply I feel about this," he said, condemning the use of religious justification for anti-gay prejudice.

Launched by the UN Human Rights Office, the public education campaign "Free and Equal" aims to raise awareness of anti-gay violence and discrimination.

Tutu, a Nobel Peace Prize laureate, compared the project to the fight South Africans waged to end the former white racist minority rule, a struggle in which he played a pivotal role.

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay said same-sex relationships are illegal in more than a third of countries around the world and punishable by death in five.

Even in countries where gay rights are upheld challenges remain, she said, noting that South Africa has "some of the worst cases of homophobic violence" despite having some of the world's best legal protections.

"People are literally paying for their love with their lives," said Pillay.   The campaign, which aims to push for legal reforms and public education against homophobia, will have a strong focus on working with governments.  "I constantly hear governments tell me 'but this is our culture, our tradition and we can't change it'... So we have lots of work to do," said Pillay.
 Kudos to Tutu.  It is good Christians like him that have kept me even nominally hanging on to the Christian moniker.   More like him need to stand up and publicly call out the merchants of hate in the Catholic Church, Russian Orthodox Church, and of course the Southern Baptist Convention.


Friday, July 26, 2013

Friday Morning Male Beauty


Lindsey Graham’s Tea Party Opponents Are Emerging

Try as he might to stamp out a primary challenge, it looks like GOP Senator Lindsey Graham, a/k/a the Palmetto Princess, may have to deal with a Tea Party challenge.  To be candid, I despise Graham, but compared to his possible Tea Party opponents he looks rational.  Rational, of course, in the context of today's GOP is a very relative term.  The Daily Beast looks at Graham's possible challengers.  Here are excerpts:

According to sources in South Carolina and within the Tea Party, at least two serious challenges to Graham are expected to emerge in the next few weeks. Dustin Stockton, a leading conservative activist and head of Western PAC, told The Daily Beast that he is headed to South Carolina next month to help build a ground game for the 2014 primary.

Knocking off Graham, said Stockton, who helped defeat establishment candidates in Alaska and Nevada in 2010, was this year’s top Tea Party priority.

“The Lindsey Graham wing of the party,” he said, stands for “saying one thing and doing another, creating backroom deals, getting elected, and not doing anything.”
Richard Cash, a businessman and former South Carolina congressional candidate, announced his candidacy in April.

But Tea Party types are looking to coalesce around either Lee Bright, a Spartanburg state senator, or Nancy Mace, a public-relations executive.

Bright told The Daily Beast that he is looking to make an announcement in the coming weeks.
“My voting record in the state Senate is very similar to what Jim DeMint did in the U.S. Senate,” he said, referring to the hard-right former senator who resigned this year to lead the Heritage Foundation. “It is more of a match with conservative values in South Carolina. I just don’t think Graham is in touch with the people of South Carolina. He is more enamored of the national media than he is doing what South Carolinians would like to see him do.”

“Every election, at the state level, the county level, the precinct level, you find a bunch of people who talk about ousting Lindsey Graham,” said Hogan Gidley, a strategist and a former executive director of the state’s Republican Party. “But then they start watching TV ads, and more about his record comes out, and they say, ‘Wait a minute. This guy is more conservative than I thought.’

For his part, Bright has been pushing his conservative bona fides. He’s introduced a number of bills in the state Senate that will be red meat to GOP primary voters. One abortion bill would regulate abortion clinics in the same way that similar bills in Mississippi, Wisconsin, and Texas have done. Another, dubbed Constitutional Carry, would eliminate any special permitting for gun owners.

“If you own a weapon, you should be able to carry your weapon,” he said.
Graham, he said, “is a community organizer for the Muslim Brotherhood in the Middle East and is not very concerned about our Fourth Amendment rights.

The craziness will be entertaining to watch and every dollar spent on primary infighting will be a dollar less for the general election.

Mark Obenshain Tries to Pretend He's a Moderate

One thing that always strikes me about self-anointed "godly Christians" and their puppets - is prostitutes a better term? - within the Republican Party s the abandon with which they lie and believe the public is too stupid to check out their current claims with past actions and voting records.  This phenomenon is glaringly apparent in this year's GOP statewide slate which takes dishonesty and insanity to new levels for Virginia.  Mark Obenshain (pictured at left in the photo above), the GOP Attorney General candidate, is actively trying to market himself as a moderate who supports "inclusive policies" even though his political career has been diametrically opposed to the positions he now pretends to hold.  The Richmond Times Dispatch looks at Obenshain's snake oil campaign.  Here are highlights:

Sen. Mark D. Obenshain, the Republican nominee for attorney general, said Thursday that he wants to run an inclusive campaign and work across the aisle in order to appeal to a wider base of voters.

Obenshain, from Harrisonburg, is known for his conservative voting record that he has accumulated since he was first elected to the state Senate in 2003.

He drew flak for drafting legislation in 2009 that would have required women who had miscarriages without medical attendance to report it to authorities within 24 hours.

Obenshain has also consistently voted against Democratic measures that would assure protections for homosexual state employees under Virginia’s anti-discrimination law.

Obenshain recently has also portrayed himself as an advocate for protecting state employees and faculties from discrimination based on their sexual orientation — a position which earned him criticism from Democrats and gay-rights groups doubting his sincerity because of his voting record.

“Mark Obenshain can try all he wants to run away from his extreme ticket, but actions speak louder than words,” said Ashley Bauman, spokeswoman for the Democratic Party of Virginia.

 Obenshain said he doesn’t expect miracles, “but I am going to be there, because I want people to be there and understand that my message is an inclusive message.”

My response? Liar, liar pants on fire.  Obeshain is no different than Cuccinelli and Jackson.  He's a liar seeking to dupe Virginia voters.  He needs to be defeated in November.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

More Thursday Male Beauty


Groundswell - The True Face of the GOP Base




The metastasizing of the cancer that is the Republican Party base appears to be intensifying.  Not only are minorities, gays and immigrants viewed as the enemy to be defeated at any cost, but so are members of the so-called GOP establishment and any Republicans who are not ranting, Kool-Aid drinking crazies.  The GOP fringe now is the party base.  As I have noted before, I honestly do not see how the GOP can be saved long term because the cancer has taken control of the party as a whole.  A piece in Mother Jones looks at the disturbing insanity, bigotry and hate that defines today's GOP.  Also, note the disturbing activities of the wife of Justice Clarence Thomas who thinks she is not bound by the usual constraints of judicial conduct and avoidance of any appearance of bias.  Here are excerpts:




Believing they are losing the messaging war with progressives, a group of prominent conservatives in Washington—including the wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas and journalists from Breitbart News and the Washington Examiner—has been meeting privately since early this year to concoct talking points, coordinate messaging, and hatch plans for "a 30 front war seeking to fundamentally transform the nation," according to documents obtained by Mother Jones. 

Dubbed Groundswell, this coalition convenes weekly in the offices of Judicial Watch, the conservative legal watchdog group. During these hush-hush sessions and through a Google group, the members of Groundswell—including aides to congressional Republicans—cook up battle plans for their ongoing fights against the Obama administration, congressional Democrats, progressive outfits, and the Republican establishment and "clueless" GOP congressional leaders. They devise strategies for killing immigration reform, hyping the Benghazi controversy, and countering the impression that the GOP exploits racism. And the Groundswell gang is mounting a behind-the-scenes organized effort to eradicate the outsize influence of GOP ├╝ber-strategist/pundit Karl Rove within Republican and conservative ranks. (For more on Groundswell's "two front war" against Rove—a major clash on the right—click here.) 

One of the influential conservatives guiding the group is Virginia "Ginni" Thomas, a columnist for the Daily Caller and a tea party consultant and lobbyist. Other Groundswell members include John Bolton, the former UN ambassador; Frank Gaffney, the president of the Center for Security Policy; Ken Blackwell and Jerry Boykin of the Family Research Council; Tom Fitton, the president of Judicial Watch; Gayle Trotter, a fellow at the Independent Women's Forum; Catherine Engelbrecht and Anita MonCrief of True the Vote; Allen West, the former GOP House member; Sue Myrick, also a former House GOPer; Diana Banister of the influential Shirley and Banister PR firm; and Max Pappas, a top aide to Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas). 

A third agenda item that Wednesday morning was beating back the effort to end the Boy Scouts of America's ban on gay Scouts.

A high-priority cause for Groundswellers is voter identification efforts—what progressives would call voter suppression—and when Groundswellers developed a thread on their Google group page exploring the best way to pitch the right's voter identification endeavors . . . .

In one post, Ginni Thomas encouraged Groundswell members to watch Agenda: Grinding America Down, a documentary that claims that progressives (including Obama) seek "a brave new world" based on the "failed policies and ideologies of communism" and that an evil left is purposefully "destroying the greatest country in all of world history."

Groundswell has set itself up as the theme lab for the true-red activists of the conservative movement. Fearing that some hydra of the left has long been running wild, vanquishing the right, and bringing the nation closer to utter ruin, the members of Groundswell have birthed a hydra of their own. 

Juror B29: George Zimmerman Got Away With Murder


After 36 years in the legal profession, my opinion of the American judicial system and its criminal justice system frankly sinks lower with almost every passing day.  Be it incompetent and/or shockingly biased police officers and judges, juries that seem comprised of the dumbest of the dumb,  selective prosecution that disproportionately targets minorities, and/or laws that aid the murderer, things are rotten and not trending for the better.  Now, after allowing George Zimmerman to get away with murder, another member of the jury apparently has a guilty conscience.  The Virginian Pilot looks at this case of too little remorse too late.  Here are excerpts:

The second juror to speak publicly told ABC News in an interview made available Thursday that she feels George Zimmerman got away with murder for fatally shooting Trayvon Martin, but that there wasn't enough evidence at trial to convict him under Florida law.

Juror B29 told Robin Roberts that she favored convicting Zimmerman of second-degree murder when deliberations began by the six-member, all-women jury.  "I was the juror that was going to give them a hung jury," she said. "I fought to the end."

"George Zimmerman got away with murder, but you can't get away from God," she said. "And at the end of the day, he's going to have a lot of questions and answers he has to deal with."

Juror B29 is the second panelist to go public with what went on during deliberations earlier this month. She allowed her face to be shown and used her first name, Maddy, unlike Juror B37, who was interviewed on CNN last week with her face obscured.

As noted in previous posts, "stand your ground" laws literally allow murderers to get away with killing people because of the way in which the burden of proof is shifted against the victim and the prosecution.



Target Donates $50,000 to PAC Backing Cuccinelli




One has to wonder at times get corporate CEO's get and keep their jobs given what has to be their dishonesty and/or stupidity.  (For the record, I was in-house counsel for a Fortune 50 corporation and saw such idiocy at close hand).  A case in point is Target CEO Gregg Steinhafel who in the past had to apologize for Target's contribution to a virulently anti-gay Minnesota GOP candidate.  Now, as Right Wing Watch and other media outlets report, Target has contributed $50,000 to a PAC that is backing anti-gay zealot Ken Cuccinelli who not only wants to keep LGBT Virginians in a permanent inferior citizenship status, but would even criminalize oral sex between consenting spouses.  Thus, the question is whether or not Steinhafel and company are liars or idiots, or do they merely see LGBT consumers as morons.   Here are highlights from Right Wing Watch:




Back in 2010, Target Corporation was forced to apologize when it came out that it had funded campaign ads on behalf of virulently anti-gay Minnesota gubernatorial candidate Tom Emmer. The controversy hit the Minnesota-based company hard, in part because it vocally supports gay rights and has a reputation as a supportive workplace for LGBT people.

But Target didn’t stop giving to anti-gay candidates. As Abe Sauer reported at the end of 2010, Target gave a total of $31,200 to anti-gay candidates in that election cycle. And now, the company is indirectly funding one of the most extreme anti-gay culture warriors in the country, Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli.

Target reports that in the first half of this year, it contributed $50,000 to the Republican Governors Association, which so far this year has spent nearly $3 million on behalf of Cuccinelli’s gubernatorial campaign.

In apologizing to his employees for the company’s contributions to Emmer’s campaign, Target CEO Gregg Steinhafel promised to launch “a strategic review and analysis of our decision-making process for financial contributions in the public policy arena” and to start “a dialogue focused on diversity and inclusion in the workplace, including GLBT issues.”

How did that “dialogue” lead to support for an organization that is dedicating itself to supporting Ken Cuccinelli? After all, Cuccinelli not only opposes advances in gay rights, he actively wants to remove protections for gays and lesbians that have already been won. Cuccinelli wants to reinstate Virginia’s “Crimes Against Nature Law,” which would outlaw oral sex between consenting adults – of any gender. In one of his first acts as attorney general, he ordered  the state’s colleges and universities to rescind non-discrimination policies that covered sexual orientation. He has said that being gay “brings nothing but self-destruction, not only physically but of their souls,” and said that “homosexual acts” are “intrinsically wrong” and don’t comport with natural law.” He even disparaged gay rights activists for trying to overturn sodomy bans and push for HIV/AIDS educations in schools.

Last year, Target launched a line of t-shirts to benefit a gay rights group, declaring itself “100 percent committed to the goal of families being respected in all communities including parents who happen to be LGBT."  Yet, in Cuccinelli, Target is backing a candidate who is promising to roll back the rights of LGBT people and their families in Virginia.
It looks like I will not be buying anything at Target anytime soon.



Back in 2010, Target Corporation was forced to apologize when it came out that it had funded campaign ads on behalf of virulently anti-gay Minnesota gubernatorial candidate Tom Emmer. The controversy hit the Minnesota-based company hard, in part because it vocally supports gay rights and has a reputation as a supportive workplace for LGBT people.

But Target didn’t stop giving to anti-gay candidates. As Abe Sauer reported at the end of 2010, Target gave a total of $31,200 to anti-gay candidates in that election cycle. And now, the company is indirectly funding one of the most extreme anti-gay culture warriors in the country, Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli.

Target reports that in the first half of this year, it contributed $50,000 to the Republican Governors Association, which so far this year has spent nearly $3 million on behalf of Cuccinelli’s gubernatorial campaign. - See more at: http://www.rightwingwatch.org/content/target-gives-50k-group-supporting-anti-gay-va-candidate-ken-cuccinelli#sthash.ldhF9NR0.dpuf

Thursday Morning Male Beauty


Virginia Businesses Aren’t Buying Cuccinelli


During the gubernatorial debate last weekend between GOP candidate Ken "Kookinelli" Cuccinelli and Democrat Terry McAuliffe, the always sexually obsessed Kookinelli who wants to police Virginia bedrooms laughed at McAuliffe's stated concern that social extremism such at that espoused by Cuccinelli would be bad for Virginia economically.   Apparently, many Virginia business leaders, while not thrilled by McAuliffe, see him as a lesser of two evils and are withholding support from Cuccinelli.  A piece in Time looks at the issue.  Here are excerpts:

Bloomberg, citing the Virginia Public Access Project, reports that of [Governor Bob] McDonnell’s top 25 individual donors, only 10 so far have contributed to Cuccinelli.

“I have yet to meet a business leader that says they will support Cuccinelli, which is surprising because Republicans are usually supported by business leaders,” says Gary Shapiro of the Arlington-based Consumer Electronics Association, who supported Mitt Romney and Sen. John McCain “loudly and financially” in their respective runs for the presidency. “In my 35 years of Virginia, Attorney General Cuccinelli, if he became governor, would definitely be the most conservative. He makes [Governor Bob] McDonnell look left-wing,” Shapiro continued. “McAuliffe is definitely the lesser of two evils.”

“Most of the Virginia business leaders who I know are moderate Republicans,” says Bill Crutchfield, the founder of his eponymous consumer electronics retailing company based out of Charlottesville. “We believe that Ken Cuccinelli is far to the right of our philosophical comfort zone…Our state’s economic development could be adversely impacted if socially extreme candidates take over our government.” Crutchfield supported the Romney-Ryan ticket and spoke at one of their rallies last year.

Cuccinelli’s social views have made national news, with Jay Leno and Whoopi Goldberg ripping him this week for his stance on anti-sodomy laws. Cuccinelli has also been trying to overturn a federal court ruling that found the law, which outlawed oral and anal sex, unconstitutional.

“There is some concern that Terry McAuliffe is too close to organized labor. He needs to dispel that perception,” said Crutchfield. “Since Terry McAuliffe has never held political office, it is hard to know if he is a moderate or liberal Democrat. However, if Terry McAuliffe can demonstrate that he is a moderate, I suspect that a large number of Virginia’s business leaders will support him.”  Shapiro agreed with Crutchfield.

Both candidates have some baggage, but at least McAuliffe is not batshit crazy and making Virginia a laughing stock on a regular basis.   Moreover, America and the world are changing, yet Kookinelli and the Virginia GOP want to take Virginia back to some early 1950's vision of a time when blacks were segregated, gays were deep in the closet, and women were not expected to be much more than stay at home mothers.   That is not a winning approach in today's world.



Virginian Pilot: It Is Time for Marriage Equality in Virginia





While anti-gay bigotry and animus remain synonymous with the Republican Party of Virginia and its puppet masters at The Family Foundation, things are shifting rapidly in Virginia - a new poll showed that a majority of Virginians now favor gay marriage - especially in the urban areas of the Commonwealth which when voter turn out is high readily determine which candidates are elected to statewide offices.  With a federal lawsuit now pending in Virginia seeking to have Virginia's gay marriage ban struck down and a recent ruling in Ohio, the Virginian Pilot calls out for marriage equality now and rightly identifies what motivated the passage of Virginia's foul Marshall-Newman Amendment which wrote discrimination into the Bill of Rights of the Virginia Constitution: malice and animus.  Not surprisingly, some of the local knuckle draggers are none too happy with the truth being stated based on their delusional comments (which underscore the malice and animus cited).  Here are highlights from the main editorial:


The ballot measure [the Marshall-Newman Amendment] was a political tactic to drive voter turnout. It was crafted by Republican strategists, designed to leverage social conservatism in the name of partisan advantage. It worked to a degree in both states, although former Sen. George Allen might disagree.

The human cost was and remains immense. Gay couples were marginalized, unwelcome in their own states. Even minor legal arrangements within a family were subject to challenge.

No matter the rationalizations mouthed by organizations like the Family Foundation, the basic truth is that each vote excluded homosexual Virginians from fundamental rights because of how they were born.

As has become increasingly clear, history will look unkindly upon the day the amendment was passed and will hold its most vicious and opportunistic supporters accountable.

Earlier this year, the U.S. Supreme Court began the process of unwinding such discriminatory measures.

It is only a matter of time before that process effects change in Virginia, where the constitutional amendment that carries the names of Sen. Steve Newman and Del. Bob Marshall will be undone. This week, it arrived in Ohio, courtesy of a federal judge.

"This is not a complicated case," wrote U.S. District Judge Timothy Black. "The issue is whether the State of Ohio can discriminate against same sex marriages lawfully solemnized out of state, when Ohio law has historically and unambiguously provided that the validity of a marriage is determined by whether it complies with the law of the jurisdiction where it was celebrated."

Even though Black's opinion came in an Ohio case, the same reasoning applies in Virginia, which has also historically respected marriages from other states. Even though there's no such institution as a common-law marriage in Virginia, for example, the commonwealth recognizes such unions from other states.

As Black wrote, the only reason to refuse to recognize gay unions performed in states that permit them - as the Supreme Court found in the United States vs. Windsor - is to "impose inequality." Furthermore, the judge made clear that Ohio didn't come close to meeting the standard required for withholding such basic rights:

"Even if there were proffered some attendant governmental purpose to discriminate against gay couples, other than to effect pure animus, it is difficult to imagine how it could outweigh the severe burden imposed by the ban imposed on same-sex couples legally married in other states. Families deserve the highest level of protection under the First Amendment right of association."

Anti-gay amendments - as in Ohio and Virginia and 29 other states - undo that protection. They impose inequality out of malice and animus, elevating the will of the majority over the rights of individuals. Thankfully, the days of such measures are numbered.

Unfortunately, The Family Foundation and its triumvirate of hate merchants on the GOP statewide ticket -  Ken Cuccinelli, E.W. Jackson, and Mark Obenshain - care nothing about equality or the U. S. Constitution,  Instead, their sole goal is to impose Christofascist religious views on all Virginians.


The IRS's Gay-Marriage Tax Problem




One of the questions that I keep getting asked by many LGBT couples as an estate planning attorney and an attorney with many LGBT clients is what is the status of their marriage vis-a-vis federal rights post Windsor.  On many issues, the answer continues to be, 9I0 that things are still up in the air and that federal agencies are working through the issue and that hopefully answers will be forthcoming soon, and/or (ii) it depends on where you live and whether or not your home state recognizes gay marriage.  One such area is with respect to taxes and whether or not couples can or should file joint returns with the IRS.  A piece in Business Week gives a good current overview of this uncertain issue.  Here are highlights:


During the runup to the Supreme Court’s June 26 ruling on the Defense of Marriage Act, one number kept recurring: The government’s refusal to recognize same-sex marriages meant gay couples were denied more than 1,000 federal benefits that straight couples enjoy. Now that the justices have struck down DOMA, gays can look forward to equality under U.S. tax laws. That is, just as soon as the Internal Revenue Service can figure out how to make equality happen. The tax agency has promised to “move swiftly” to recognize gay unions, but for many couples it won’t be as simple as checking the “married” box on their 1040. 

Those living in Washington, D.C., or the 13 states that allow same-sex marriages can file a federal tax return next April just like other married couples. Not so for the thousands of gay couples who took their vows in one of those states but who live in one of the 37 others where same-sex marriage isn’t recognized. It’s not yet clear whose definition of marriage the IRS is supposed to follow in evaluating their taxes—the state where the couple got married, or the one in which they reside. And will the federal government recognize gay couples in civil unions who file a joint return?

To avoid confusion, a single nationwide rule makes the most sense, says Patricia Cain, a tax law professor at Santa Clara University in California. “The IRS has the power to construe the Internal Revenue Code,” she says. “So for them it’s, ‘What does the word spouse mean?’ ” President Obama has weighed in, saying it’s his “personal belief” that same-sex couples should get the same federal benefits as married couples regardless of where they live. He’s asked federal agencies to research legal issues that might stand in the way. Such a ruling, though, could cause headaches for the IRS, which until now has typically followed states’ definitions of marriage, says David Herzig, a tax law professor at Valparaiso University. “You may solve this problem,” he says, “but you may open up another.”

Many gay couples might not like what marriage equality looks like on a tax form. Until now, they’ve been able to take advantage of their separate status to maximize tax savings—claiming multiple capital-loss deductions unavailable to opposite-sex married couples or multiple tax credits for adopting children. Straight married spouses with roughly equal incomes typically pay a marriage penalty under the tax code, because more of their income is subject to higher marginal tax rates. Gay couples would get hit with the same penalty. And unless the IRS exempts them from paying back taxes, some same-sex married couples could owe penalties for underwithholding during the time they’ve been married, even though the federal government didn’t recognize their unions until now. 

On the other hand, gay couples with unequal incomes would get the same marriage bonus as straight couples and could seek a refund for the extra taxes they paid in recent years. Typically the IRS allows taxpayers three years to redo their tax returns. “One of the biggest issues is what to do retroactively,” says Elda Di Re, a partner at Ernst & Young in New York. “One would think that the IRS will allow there to be filing refunds—but not mandate filing to pay additional tax.”

Another potential mess: what to do about payroll taxes workers paid on employer-provided health insurance for their same-sex spouses, which isn’t taxable for married couples. The IRS could allow refunds, and then businesses would have to figure out how to distribute them to employees and ex-employees. Some companies pay married gay employees extra to cover their health-care tax burdens; they would have to decide whether to seek reimbursements from workers who get income tax refunds. And the IRS has to figure out whether or how to tax alimony payments from gay marriages that end in divorce, and money inherited from the retirement account of a same-sex spouse.

All these decisions will be made with a skeptical—and sometimes hostile—Congress ready to call foul. The IRS is already under scrutiny for its clumsy probes of political groups, and its efforts to formalize gay marriage in the tax code are likely to provoke congressional hearings and lawsuits. “No matter what they do,” says Herzig, “it’s such a volatile issue they’ll end up getting a challenge.”

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Wednesday Morning Male Beauty


Boehner Forced to Repudiate GOP Rep. Steve King’s Racist Remarks


If one wants to see the true face of today's Republican Party, one need look no farther than Rep. Steve King's (R-IA) who is pictured above.  The man is a homophobe, racist and would have women be obedient chattel of their husbands.  However, while many GOP elected officials dance around and try to cloak the party's agenda, King shouts it from the roof tops.  Recently, King engaged in an extremely racist anti-immigrant rant that went so far over the top that even spineless House Speaker John Boehner  felt compelled to do some damage control.  Talking Points Memo looks at both Kings rant and Boehner's attempt to hide the real GOP agenda.  Here are highlights:

Rep. Steve King's (R-IA) comments last week disparaging young undocumented immigrants went a step too far, drawing a Tuesday night condemnation from Republican House Speaker John Boehner.

Arguing against legalizing undocumented immigrants in an interview with Newsmax, the tea party stalwart said that for every valedictorian DREAMer -- an immigrant brought to the U.S. as a child -- there are existed 100 more who carried drugs across the border.

"For everyone who's a valedictorian, there's another 100 out there that weigh 130 pounds and they’ve got calves the size of cantaloupes because they're hauling 75 pounds of marijuana across the desert,” he said. “Those people would be legalized with the same act."

Boehner called the remark "wrong."

"There can be honest disagreements about policy without using hateful language," he said in a statement. "Everyone needs to remember that."

Democrats and the White House also condemned the comment earlier in the day.

Don't be fooled by Boehner.  King is the true face of today's GOP, especially it's Christofascists/Tea Party controlled base.