Saturday, August 10, 2013

Focus on the Family Again Seeks to Censor Gay Inclusive School Books

Offering yet more proof that the Christofascists at Focus on the Family - which seems to be working hard to earn a hate group designation - want gays to literally disappear, a new push has been mounted to stir up "godly" wingnut parents to challenge any curriculum content that might acknowledge the existence of LGBT people.   How this approach prepares children in a diverse culture is, of course, never addressed.  Nor does it face the reality that many of these same parents unknowingly are raising gay children of their own.  All it really shows is the mental healt issues of people like FOTF spokeswoman Candi Cushman (pictured above).   Think Progress looks at this latest batshitery.  Here are highlights:

With the school year set to resume, Focus on the Family is once again encouraging parents to censor any curriculum content that might acknowledge the existence of LGBT people. Focus’s “Empowering Parents” guide teaches families how to navigate all the hurdles they might have to jump in order to remove LGBT-inclusive materials from the classroom. In a conversation with Stuart Shepard set up by the question, “What do you when what your public school is teaching about relationships is out of sync with God’s design for relationships?”, Candi Cushman explained that it’s “Orwellian” to talk to young people about LGBT families:

CUSHMAN: In math class for instance, there is a lesson plan material out there called, “Ready, Set, Respect.” This is created by one of the largest homosexual advocacy groups, called GLSEN, the Gay Lesbian, and Straight Education Network. Let me just give you an example of what they recommend for educators: “Write math problems with contexts that include a variety of family structures and gender expressions.” And so the example they then give is, “Give a math problem about Rosa and her dads going to the grocery store.”

Cushman believes such curriculum is “Orwellian” because her definition of family does not include same-sex couples and their children. The reality is that for many children — an estimated 2 million — their families do include either same-sex parents or at least one gay parent and possibly a same-sex step parent. Cushman would prefer they not see their families represented in class.

What’s truly Orwellian is erasing those families and attempting to use public schools as a form of propaganda to hide the existence of LGBT people. There may well be LGBT students in the classroom, who deserve to see diverse representations that include their own identities. Focus on the Family calls these efforts “true tolerance,” but the first step to tolerance is acknowledging that a group of people exist and beginning to appreciate their life experiences.

Saturday Morning Male Beauty

Chief Justice Rejects Cuccinelli Request to Stay 4th Circuit Sodomy Ruling

It appears that Ken Cuccinelli - a/k/a "Crazy Cuccinelli" or "Kookinelli" - may be headed towards another defeat at the U.S. Supreme Court (he's lost every case he's brought so far).  This time, Kookinelli's delusional quest and waste of Virginia tax dollars involves his bizarre effort to save Virginia's unconstitutional "crimes against nature" or "sodomy statute."  After a loss at the U.S. District Court and a double loss at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit, Cuccinelli appealed his case to the U.S. Supreme Court and asked that the 4th Circuit ruling be stayed (i.e., suspended from effectiveness pending final action by the Supreme Court).  Yesterday, Chief Justice John Roberts added to Cuccinelli's losing average by saying "No" to the requested stay.  Here are details from the Washington Post on the latest bitch lap delivered to Cuccinelli:

Virginia’s attorney general has lost his bid to delay a lower court ruling that struck down the state’s anti-sodomy law while the U.S. Supreme Court considers whether to hear his appeal.

Chief Justice John Roberts on Friday denied the request for a stay from Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli.

In March, a divided three-judge panel of the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond declared Virginia’s law against oral and anal sex unconstitutional.

Cuccinelli appealed the ruling in June, and later asked the justices to issue the stay.
His request was opposed by attorneys for a man who was convicted under Virginia’s so-called crimes against nature law.

In his appeal, Cuccinelli argues that the Texas ruling did not apply to sex acts between adults and minors. MacDonald’s lawyers dispute that analysis.

The federal appeals court said that while the Supreme Court did not expressly carve out an exception for minors, it left open the possibility of state legislatures doing so.

As noted in previous posts, it was Cuccinelli himself who led the charge to block changes to Virginia's statute that might have addressed the supposed problem that Cuccinelli now complains of.   Denial of the stay is a possible sign that the Supreme Court will refuse to hear the appeal when it takes formal action.

Hampton Roads Pride Fest Is Today

While the boyfriend and I are unfortunately out of town for a family event, I hope that local readers will make a point to go out to Hampton Roads' pride fest event in Norfolk's Town Point Park on the waterfront.  While we are out of town, the boyfriend and I were once again among the many financial sponsors of the event, with the big donors being Decorum Furniture and Svedka vodka at the Diamond Sponsor level.   The event begins at 12:00 Noon and runs through 6:00 PM.  There will be many vendors and entertainment to satisfy varied tastes.  A schedule of events and more information can be found here.  One event that is unique to our pride event is the boat parade - the only one in America.  This year the boat parade will be led by the American Rover pictured below.

Here's a view of the park eary this morning:

Other sponsors are as follows (please support their businesses0:

Gold Sponsors
Todd Rosenlieb and Ricardo Melendez
Jim Deming and Mark Board,
Lin Miller, Russell Allen
John Wills and Fred Bayersdorfer
Wendy Maness, Phil Copley. James Hermansen-Parker
The City of Norfolk.
Moira Wright
Silver Sponsors Mike Collins, Sandra Deane
Robert Woolfitt,
Darrell Hitchcock, 
Barry Menser & Michael Hamar
Mayor Paul D. Fraim
Bow Meow
Bronze Sponsors      
Randy DeMille, Sharon McDonald,
Dee Agonostini with Dragas Homes, Bill Calvert,
Charles Ford, Chris Hilliard,
The Space Above Yoga Studio,
James and Jamie Ferrell,
Danny Epperson, BeeDee McMillian,
Stacy Shaw and Emily Parker
Terry C Pearce & Susan E West

Rainbow Sponsors
Ralph and Pam Northam
Michele Finck,Alan Psimas,
Lisa Sands, Bee Dee McMillian,
Fred Hughes, Andrea McClellan
Julie Clark
Note that two local Mayors and the Democrat candidate for Lt. Governor personally helped sponsor the event.

"Call to Disobedience" - An Effort to Change Catholicism

I often make the case that the only way to bring change to the Roman Catholic Church is to have large numbers of Catholics walk away and, most importantly, cease funding the Church hierarchy (a portion of every dollar given at the parish level goes to the local bishop and another portion goes to Rome under the Church's feudal power structure).  Throughout the Church's history, the loss of membership and money has been the only guaranteed means to fore change.  Nonetheless, there are some valiant individuals who are seeking to change the Church from within.  One such individual is Fr. Helmut Schüller who has just finished an American tour titled "Catholic Tipping Point."  One has to how soon before the Vatican tries to silence him.  Here are highlights from the National Catholic Reporter:

Fr. Helmut Schüller's "Catholic Tipping Point" tour of the United States ended where it began: in New York. He gave an address Wednesday evening in Manhasset and on Thursday, he visited St. Patrick's Cathedral in Manhattan, where he delivered thousands of red ribbons and signatures he collected in 15 cities across the nation.
In the last three weeks, Schüller traveled from the East Coast to the West, spreading a message of "disobedience" and church reform. In each city, Schüller preached the values of the "Call to Disobedience," a 2011 document published by the Austrian Priests' Initiative. His message includes opening the priesthood to women and married people. He also advocates for a stronger relationship between the church and Catholic gay couples.

Even before Schüller stepped foot in the United States, U.S. bishops tried to block him, he said, confirming that Boston Cardinal Sean O'Malley and Dolan contacted Cardinal Christoph Schönborn, his bishop in Vienna, to prevent the tour.

The reaction by U.S. bishops is nothing new for the Austrian priest. "I was not surprised. It's familiar. I had heard it in Germany from the bishops there," Schüller said.

Schüller was formally banned from speaking on Catholic property in Boston, Detroit and Chicago, and the archbishop of Philadelphia, Charles Chaput, said Schüller could not speak on archdiocesan property in the city. But the Sisters of St. Joseph welcomed Schüller to the Catholic venue of Chestnut Hill College, a move Chaput later said was "regrettable."

In his final speaking event Wednesday in Manhasset, Schüller used his experience in the United States to make his case for reform. In the United States, he said, "priests are totally reliant on the bishops for their livelihood. These are the methods of a dictatorship." Making his point, he said in Detroit, priests were forbidden to meet with him in their own homes.

This "top-to-bottom obedience" is evident even in the sacraments, Schüller said. Because "official sinners" are turned away from Communion, he said, "the Eucharist has become a symbol of exclusion." To erase this "symbol," divorced and remarried Catholics should be allowed to receive the Eucharist, he said.

Furthermore, the church's stance on gay relationships presents another challenge for parishes across the world, Schüller said, saying the church should be welcoming on this issue rather than exclusionary. The church should "concentrate on the quality of this partnership: fidelity, respect," he said, rather than focus on whether it is a homosexual or heterosexual relationship.
 Would that there were more voices like Schüller in the Church.

Friday, August 09, 2013

More Friday Male Beauty

Dedicated to Douglas Wagner - one of the "Somerset brotherhood."

Russian Government Intimidating Journalists And Activists Before The Olympics

The parallels between the 1936 Summer Olympic Games and the 2014 Sochi Winter Games continue to grow.  One of the measures employed by Hitler and the Nazis was to shut down domestic media outlets that criticize the brutal Nazi policies and to intimidate foreign press officials into silence or  into publishing puff pieces that ignored the growing list of Nazi horrors.  Now, as Towleroad reports, evidence of similar efforts by Vladimir Putin's dictatorial regime are increasing.  Here are some excerpts:

News sites everywhere have been documenting the issues in Russia surrounding the 2014 Olympics in Sochi, including abuse of migrant workers, the health and environmental impacts of construction, and the rather severe problem Russia has with homosexuality. Russia's response to this dissent has been to try to intimidate and abuse journalists and activists, particularly in the lead up to the Olympic Games.

Human Rights Watch has extensive coverage of these abuses and includes accounts of the Sochi Branch of the Russian Geographic Society having its funding threatened, rejection of the Sochi Pride House, distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks on websites critical of the government and the Olympics, and several individual journalists and activists being threatened by government officials.
Rule 48 of the IOC bye-laws explicitly states: 
The IOC takes all necessary steps in order to ensure the fullest coverage by the different media and the widest possible audience in the world for the Olympic Games.
Russia's treatment of journalists may wind up causing even more complications for the IOC as these abuses run directly counter to the bye-laws the IOC are obligated to uphold.

Here's more highlights from Human Rights Watch:

“Trying to bully activists and journalists into silence is wrong and only further tarnishes the image of the Olympics,” said Jane Buchanan, associate Europe and Central Asia director at Human Rights Watch. “One of the non-negotiable requirements of hosting the Olympics is to allow press freedom, and the authorities’ attempts to silence critics are in clear violation of that principle.”

Press freedom is guaranteed under the Olympic Charter, which has an entire section on “Media Coverage of the Olympic Games.” The IOC is obligated to take “all necessary steps in order to ensure the fullest coverage by the different media.” Other by-laws require that “media coverage of the Olympic Games shall not be impaired in any way….”

Starting in 2008, Human Rights Watch has documented the harassment and intimidation of activists, journalists, and others, regarding their actions and comments related to the Sochi Games.

“Preparations for the Sochi Games have been plagued with serious human rights abuses and other problems, many of which have only been brought to light through the efforts of activists and journalists,” Buchanan said. “If the IOC is committed to these issues, it should ask the Russian authorities to immediately stop harassing activists, organizations, and journalists, and investigate allegations of abuse.”

Some journalists told Human Rights Watch that local authorities sought to control negative or critical information about Sochi by pressuring editors to present Olympic preparations exclusively in a “positive” light. In addition, several independent online news sources and blogs that post critical materials about Olympics preparations faced highly coordinated, disabling denial of service attacks, where hackers rendered the sites inaccessible.

“Press freedom is a central tenet of the Olympic Charter and no successful Games can take place in an atmosphere in which journalists are afraid to report on stories of legitimate public interest,” Buchanan said. “The IOC should insist that the Russian authorities guarantee full media freedom for each and every journalist reporting in or traveling to Sochi.”

Harassment and intimidation of civil society in Sochi should be seen against the backdrop of the crackdown on human rights in Russia that has been underway for 15 months since the May 2012 inauguration of President Vladimir Putin.

During that time new laws were adopted restricting public assemblies, re-criminalizing libel, criminalizing religious insult, introducing additional restrictions on internet content, expanding the definition of treason, and banning “propaganda” for “nontraditional sexual relations.” A nationwide, government campaign to force nongovernment groups that accept foreign funding and engage in vaguely-defined “political activity” to register as foreign agents aims to curtail a broad range of work by independent organizations.
 All of these actions are reprehensible.  But they should not be a surprise.  After all, Putin is a former KGB thug.  Now we are seeing that he's changed very little from his KGB days.

Conservatives Against Christie

The so-called Republican establishment continues to reap what it sowed in allowing the Christofascists and equally reality denying Tea Party crowd to hijack the party base.  Among the likely 2016 GOP candidates, one contender would not immediately be radio active to independents and more conservative Democrats:  Chris Christie.  The problem is, however, is that Christie is anathema to the Christofascists and Tea Party crowd who seem unable to forgive Christie for (i) seeking federal funds in the wake of Hurricane Sandy's devastation to New Jersey, and (ii) embracing Barack Obama's support for New Jersey.  Allahpundit questions whether Christie could overcome the far right's hatred of him to win the nomination.  Here are excerpts:
A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that Christie earns 21% support when Republican voters are asked whom they would vote for if the party’s primary in their state were held today. Florida Senator Marco Rubio runs a close second with 18% of the GOP vote, followed by former Florida Governor Jeb Bush at 16% and Kentucky Senator Rand Paul with 15% of the vote.

Congressman Paul Ryan, the unsuccessful Republican vice presidential candidate in 2012, picks up 13% of the Republican vote, with Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker dead last at six percent (6%). Just three percent (3%) prefer another candidate, and eight percent (8%) are undecided.
Good news for Christie-haters: He’s also leading the field — by double digits — when Republicans are asked who they’d least like to see win the nomination. (His new nemesis, Rand Paul, is a distant second.) This is why I keep thinking that, for all the slobber over his “electability,” he might be so widely and deeply disliked by a small but significant minority of righties that they end up staying home if he’s nominee and costing him the election. To be “electable” with a few percentage points’ worth of conservatives sitting out, he’d have to offset them by grabbing more centrist Democrats than expected from the Democratic nominee. How likely is that if Hillary’s the pick and Bill Clinton’s out there every day for her on the trail? Every candidate tacks toward the center after he’s nominated, but Christie would tack further than most — not just because he’s inclined to, but because he might have to in order to make up those lost conservative votes.

It’s time (already!) to stop thinking about national polls for 2016, though, and to start thinking in terms of Iowa and New Hampshire.

A new Granite State Poll  . . . . The poll’s new leader is New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, at 21 percent. He is followed by Paul at 16 percent, former Florida governor Jeb Bush at 10 percent, Rep. Paul Ryan (Wis.) at 8 percent and Rubio at 6 percent.

Rubio’s a special case in that he’s a Florida native and could, in theory, win there even if he loses the first three major primaries, but imagine how many “Rubio disappoints again” stories will be written before then. New Hampshire is going to be even tougher than usual next time too thanks to Christie’s and Paul’s likely candidacies: Each of them, in very different ways, seems better suited to NH’s maverick-y sensibility than Rubio does.

One other fun fact from the Rasmussen poll: Among Democrats, Christie is the guy they’d most like to see win the GOP nomination — and Jeb Bush, by far, is who they’d least like to see win. Shouldn’t it be the opposite? If you’re a Dem, you’d love to run against a guy named Bush, especially if you’re carrying the dynastic liability of nominating someone named Clinton. Or do Democrats really think Jeb would be that formidable in the general?

Friday Morning Male Beauty

Bayard Rustin to Receive Presidential Medal of Freedom

Speaking of learning from history, President Obama is taking a step that one can only hope will open the eyes of some of the cretin like black pastors who continue to be the willing water carriers - dare we say trained circus dogs? - for white supremacist leaning anti-gay organizations.  He has announced that Bayard Rustin - Martin Luther King's gay right hand man who organized the 1963 march on Washington - will receive a posthumous Presidential Medal of Freedom.   Sadly, Rustin has been largely hidden from the history of the Civil Rights movement because of his sexual orientation.  A piece in Bilerico Project looks at the news.  Here are excerpts:

The White House announced today that the venerable Bayard Rustin -- a pioneer in the African-American and LGBT civil rights movements, confidante and advisor of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and the chief organizer of the 1963 March on Washington -- will be posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, our nation's highest civilian honor.

A press release from the White House notes that the award, which will be presented in a ceremony later this year, is given to individuals who have "made especially meritorious contributions to the security or national interests of the United States, to world peace, or to cultural or other significant public or private endeavors."

The press release gives the following biography for Rustin:
Bayard Rustin was an unyielding activist for civil rights, dignity, and equality for all. An advisor to the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., he promoted nonviolent resistance, participated in one of the first Freedom Rides, organized the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, and fought tirelessly for marginalized communities at home and abroad. As an openly gay African American, Mr. Rustin stood at the intersection of several of the fights for equal rights.
LGBT organizations reacted with praise. HRC:

"Bayard Rustin's contributions to the American civil rights movement remain paramount to its successes to this day," said HRC President Chad Griffin. "His role in the fight for civil rights of African-Americans is all the more admirable because he made it as a gay man, experiencing prejudice not just because of his race, but because of his sexual orientation as well."

Rustin was active in the struggle for civil rights for sixty years, from organizing early freedom rides in the 1940s, to serving as key advisor to Dr. King, to helping found the A. Philip Randolph Institute. But his advocacy was far from limited to the rights of African Americans. He worked to end apartheid in South Africa, fought for the freedom of Soviet Jews, worked to protect the property of Japanese Americans interned during World War II, and helped highlight the plight of Vietnamese "boat people." And in the 1980s, he also spoke up for the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people, testifying in support of anti-discrimination legislation in New York. "Bayard Rustin dedicated his life to advocating for fairness and equality and overcame prejudice to help move our nation forward," added Griffin.
It is sad that Rustin did not receive the recognition he deserved while he was living.

Russia: The Rest of the Story Behind the Anti-Gay Laws

In the early 1930's, Germany's economy was a disaster with soaring inflation and economic instability.  Circumstances that helped set the stage for Hitler's rise to power and the scapegoating of the Jews to distract public attention from the failings of the government.  In today's Russia we see a similar picture: government corruption (Putin and his cronies are thought to be looting the country), a flagging economy, decreases in life expectancy and birthrate.  Someone needs to be blamed and something is needed to distract the attention of the public that ultimately it is Putin and his government who are to blame.  Hence, just as Germany enacted the Nuremberg Laws,  we have seen Russia enacting anti-gay laws to target a minority for the foes of Russian society.  A piece in the New York Times looks at the perils of being a business owner in Putin's Russia (where opposition to Putin's regime can lead to charges of "economic crimes") and some of Putin's efforts to save his own ass and retain power.  Here are excerpts:

A business owner in Russia has a better chance of ending up in the penal colony system once known as the gulag than a common burglar does.  

More than 110,000 people are serving time for what Russia calls “economic crimes,” out of a population of about three million self-employed people and owners of small and medium-size businesses. An additional 2,500 are in jails awaiting trial for this class of crimes that includes fraud, but can also include embezzlement, counterfeiting and tax evasion.

But with the Russian economy languishing, President Vladimir V. Putin has devised a plan for turning things around: offer amnesty to some of the imprisoned business people. 

The amnesty is needed, he said, because the government had “overreacted” to the threat of organized crime and the inequities of privatization and over-prosecuted entrepreneurs during Mr. Putin’s first 12 years in power as president and prime minister. 

Russia’s economy does need help. In the first quarter, growth fell to a rate of 1.6 percent because oil prices are level. And in that economic climate, few Russians seem willing to risk opening a new business that might create jobs and tax revenue for the government. 

In 2010, the police investigated a total of 276,435 “economic crimes,” according to the Russian prosecutor general’s office, whose statistics show burglary and robbery are prosecuted less than economic crimes. 

So many Russian business owners are doing time that support groups have sprung up in Moscow for their families known as “The 159 Society.” It takes its name from the article on fraud in the criminal code. Rus Sidyashchaya, or Russia Behind Bars, organizes weekly dinners for the wives of imprisoned businessmen. 

Russia’s infamous penal colonies, rural camps swirled in barbed wire, appear today much as they did when Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn wrote “The Gulag Archipelago” in the 1960s. But at least one of every 10 prisoners today is a white-collar convict.

One of those Mr. Titov championed was Ruslan V. Tyelkov, whose short arc from businessman to inmate illustrates both the entrepreneurial spirit that still simmers in Russia and the risks.  . . . In 2010, Mr. Tyelkov spent the equivalent of $31,000 for 25,000 yards of Chinese-made leopard-print fabric suitable for chairs and sofas. “It’s very popular here, not only for furniture but cloths, wallpaper, sheets, shoes, bags, everything.” 

With no warning, the police arrived at his warehouses and removed every roll on six flatbed trucks, handing it over to a competitor, ostensibly for storage, though it was later sold. Then they arrested Mr. Tyelkov, who spent a year in pretrial detention. 

The crime? The police said they suspected copyright infringement of the leopard design. “It was funny at first,” recalled Mr. Tyelkov of his initial meeting with the police. “I asked, ‘Who owns the copyright, a leopard?’ ”  Mr. Titov’s later investigation confirmed the police had colluded with a competitor to seize the merchandise under the pretext of a criminal case, so it could be sold for a profit. 

In Russia, the police benefit from arrests. They profit by soliciting a bribe from a rival to remove competition, by taking money from the family for release, or by selling seized goods. Promotion depends on an informal quota of arrests. Police officers who seize businesses became common enough to have earned the nickname “werewolves in epaulets.”  

Yes, it sounds like what Hitler and his SA did in the 1930's.  Businesses could be destroyed and fortunes lost based on the whims of Nazi officials and cronies.   Putin and his regime govern in a similar mode and if Putin was serious about improving Russia, he'd be dealing with the widespread corruption.  Instead he's persecuting gays.  It speaks volumes about the man and none of it is good.  As for the rest of the world, we don't seem to ever learn from history.

Government Shut Down - The GOP Obsession with Obamacare

So far many of the dire warnings of the GOP demagogues about Obamacare have failed to come to fruition and in a number of states it appears that premiums will be less expensive that the doomsday Cassandras predicted.  It seems that other than the Tea Party/Christofascist crowd, the only folks screaming are greedy business owners who view employees as modern day serfs and similarly greedy doctors who claim poverty while living far better than most of the populace (I have yet to meet a poor doctor in my legal practice - I tend to avoid them as clients because most are obnoxious and don't want to pay for services rendered).  So why is the GOP willing to shut down the federal government that will harm vast numbers of individuals and businesses?  A column in the Washington Post looks at the GOP obsession with destroying Obamacare and throwing millions of Americans back into an uninsured status. Here are highlights:

With the right wing in full-throttle defund-Obamacare mode, everyone seems to be wondering whether the August recess will bring a rerun of the now-mythical Summer of ’09, when the Tea Party came into its own and changed the national conversation on health care. One question seems to be whether the continuing Obamacare obsession will eclipse immigration reform.

But the Asheville Citizen Times of North Carolina offers an account of something else entirely: A GOP Congressman, Patrick McHenry, getting confronted by a constituent — one Skip Edwards — who is upset with his votes to repeal Obamacare, because of his own medical and financial situation. What’s particularly interesting is Rep. McHenry’s claim that he supports parts of the Affordable Care Act, chiefly the bit prohibiting discrimination against people with preexisting conditions:

Edwards and his wife, both 63, had health insurance until he lost his job during the recessio
n and the East Asheville couple found themselves in financial trouble despite staying relatively healthy.

Edwards and others wondered why McHenry would vote against a plan they feel is better than nothing at all. He said he would not vote for something he feels is bad policy.

McHenry floated a few familiar GOP solutions — allowing the buying of insurance across state lines and increasing competition — but Edwards said he wasn’t satisfied.

It’s easy to rail about Obamacare’s evils inside the safe confines of the conservative media echo chamber. But it may not be so easly for GOP lawmakers to explain to their constituents that they support repealing specific provisions in Obamacare, i.e., the ban on discrimination against preexisting conditions. 

[A]s unpopular as Obamacare admittedly remains, the battle over health care in 2014 may also be partly decided by the prosaic question of which side is perceived as genuinely wanting to fix our health care system. It remains to be seen whether suggestions such as those McHenry offered will be enough.

On top of this, conservative are putting heavy pressure on GOP lawmakers not just to keep trying to repeal Obamacare, but to shut down the government to force an Apocalyptic stand against the law. If it’s hard to explain repealing certain parts of the law, how will GOP lawmakers explain shutting down the government to defund it?

It also remains to be seen whether such episodes will get anywhere near the play that will likely be lavished on tales of Obamacare implementation going awry. Sure, constituents who don’t want the law’s provisions taken away may not be wearing funny three cornered hats or holding up signs proclaiming that tyranny has arrived on American shores, so they may not get much media attention. But surely they are an important part of the story, too.

Truth be told, the GOP simply doesn't care about a vast portion of the American population.  We're disposable garbage,  especially if we are black, Hispanic, or gay.

Thursday, August 08, 2013

More Thursday Male Beauty

Russia’s War on Gays - Haunting Lessons of Nazi Olympics

The condemnation of Russia and its new anti-gay laws continues to mount.  Not that newspaper editorials and petitions and boycotts will miraculously provide a spine to the International Olympic Committee ("IOC") which seems destined to reprise its embrace of dictators and regimes that audaciously engage in human rights abuses as was the case in 1936 when the IOC jumped into bed with Adolph Hitler.  An op-ed in the New York Times, an editorial in the Washington Post and an opinion piece at CNN all rip Russia and by extension condemn the IOC if it continues to follow it appeasement approach with Russia and/or retaliates against athletes who engage in pro-gay activities.  Here are telling excerpts from the CNN piece:

Usually when we talk about the 1936 Olympics in Berlin we focus on two men -- Adolf Hitler and Jesse Owens -- and rightfully so. They are the two with an undeniable impact on history, albeit in vastly different ways.

But in light of President Barack Obama's recent remarks on "The Tonight Show" denouncing Russia's new anti-gay laws, laws that have led to bloodshed in the streets, it is important that we remember Marty Glickman and Sam Stoller. 

They too were at those games. They too left a mark.  You see, the day before they were scheduled to run in the 400-meter relay, their coach, Dean Cromwell, replaced them.

They were not injured.  They did not break any team rules nor were they disqualified for any violations.  They were, however, Jewish, and this was Nazi Germany, which had adopted the Nuremberg laws limiting Jewish citizens' rights a year earlier. Apparently, Cromwell, along with leaders from the U.S. Olympic Committee, decided it would be best if Glickman and Stoller did not compete.
Today we know better.  Today we look at that decision and lower our heads in shame, understanding that it made us complicit with something that evolved into a far worse crime than unjustly replacing a pair of sprinters. In the moment when we should have spoken up, we remained silent. 

And so here we are again: an Olympics on the horizon, another host country with recently legislated laws persecuting a group of people, and for a while, we were silent. And then Tuesday happened.

Last month Buzzfeed provided the world photos of LGBT people being violently beaten by anti-gay protesters and police in Russia.

There are reports of LGBT teens being kidnapped, bullied, tortured and killed.

Russian officials have said they don't condone the attacks, but police have stood by while they happened and then arrested the battered victims for being gay.

I just want to remind you that the Holocaust did not happen overnight. It was subtle. Surgical.  In silence.

These new anti-gay laws are disturbingly similar to the anti-Semitic Nuremberg laws Hitler passed before the 1936 Olympics. And with the Pew Institute finding 84% of Russians believe society should reject gay people, perhaps some saying they object to gays for fear of arrest, the world should question how far Russia intends to go.

We should question how far Russia, our lukewarm ally, intends to go and what our participation in the 2014 Olympic Games will look like generations from now.

In one of his final interviews before passing away in 2001, Glickman told the San Diego Jewish Press-Heritage that there had been some talk of boycotting the 1936 Olympics because of Hitler, but no one foresaw what would happen to the Jews a short time later.
  Well said.  And here are highlights from the Washington Post's editorial:

While Russia and the Soviet Union before it have generally been hostile to gay people, the recent intensity of Mr. Putin’s war is part and parcel of his lapse into xenophobia, religious chauvinism and general intolerance as the urban middle class increasingly questions the legitimacy of his authoritarian rule. But if Mr. Putin believed that persecution of gay people would be a domestic issue of little interest to the world, he miscalculated. As Mr. Obama rightly highlighted, the dignity with which gays are treated has been recognized as a fundamental human rights concern in much of the world. No country, especially not one on the cusp of hosting the Olympic Games, should expect such bigotry to go unnoticed. 

Mr. Obama, speaking on the eve of his cancellation of a summit meeting in Moscow, said he felt Mr. Putin would surely understand “that for most of the countries that participate in the Olympics, we wouldn’t tolerate gays and lesbians being treated differently.” The International Olympic Committee (IOC) should understand that as well. On Wednesday the committee received a petition with more than 300,000 signatures urging it to boycott Sochi as the host city. 

That may be unlikely, but the IOC will have to take some definitive stand in the weeks ahead, especially after Vitaly L. Mutko, Russia’s minister of sports, pronounced that Olympic athletes of all nationalities would be subject to the “propaganda” law. Those words stand in contrast to the IOC’s commitment that “the Games themselves should be open to all, free of discrimination, and that applies to spectators, officials, media and of course athletes.” The Olympic spirit is not compatible with a gag order on expressions of human freedom.
All these years after the 1936 Berlin Games, the IOC still hasn't grasp the concept that bad things happen when good people do nothing.  The IOC needs to either move the games - which would be a PR disaster for Putin - or allow athletes to act as suggested in the New York Times op-ed.  This would likewise be a very public and stinging rebuke to Putin and the Neanderthals in the Russian Orthodox Church whom he is courting.  As noted in prior posts, the Russian Orthodox Church has a very ugly history of siding with tyrants and betraying both the Gospel message and the general citizenry.

Iowa ethics board will investigate National Organization for Marriage

The anti-gay bigots and self-enriching hate merchants at the National Organization for Marriage ("NOM") like to congratulate themselves on their piety and godliness even as they lie through their teeth, seek to breed discord between blacks and gays, and violate campaign finance laws wherever they operate.  The latest state to launch an investigation of NOM is Iowa where NOM bundled money and participated in a campaign to oust Iowa Supreme Court justices who had joined in the Iowa Supreme Court opinion striking down Iowa's ban on gay marriage.  Here are highlights from the Des Moines Register:

A national organization that opposes same-sex marriage may have violated state law by not disclosing its donors in its fight to oust Iowa Supreme Court justices, ethics officials said today.

The Iowa Ethics & Campaign Disclosure Board voted unanimously to investigate the National Organization for Marriage, saying that if the allegations against it are proven true, the marriage group’s actions would violate state law.

The decision to investigate is a triumph for Republican former presidential candidate Fred Karger, who filed the complaint against the National Organization for Marriage on June 13.

Karger said the D.C.-based group spent $635,000 in 2010 and about $100,000 in 2012 to try to oust four of the justices who were part of a unanimous 2009 decision that allowed same-sex marriage in Iowa.

Megan Tooker, the ethics board’s lawyer and executive director, noted that the National Organization for Marriage was “absolutely wrong” in several of its interpretations of state law.

Tooker said if the marriage organization solicited and received donations for the purpose of defeating the Iowa justices, by state law, the names of those donors should have been disclosed.

One piece of evidence in the complaint is an email the National Organization for Marriage sent out on Sept. 21, 2012 that asks for cash donations specifically for the fight against the Iowa justices, Tooker said.

In its written response, the marriage organization argued that the release of donors isn’t required if funds are raised through phone calls and emails.  “That’s absolutely false,” Tooker said.

The folks at NOM make tawdry whores look virtuous in comparison.  I continue to believe that NOM's goal is to hide the fact that a handful of big donors - e.g., the Roman Catholic Church and/or other religious denominations - are its principal contributors.

Nancy Boy: Lindsey Graham Gay-Baited in South Carolina GOP Primary

I certainly have no love for GOP Senator Lindsey Graham who I frequently refer to as the "Palmetto Queen" because he strikes me as a closet case.  Apparently, I am not the only one to get the gay vibes from Graham who is facing a primary challenge from the wingnut far right.  As David Mixner notes, the primary is getting nasty and Graham has been gay-baited and called a "Nancy boy," an old derogatory term applied to gays/effeminate men.  While I do not like Graham, a far right Christofascist/Tea Party backed candidate would be even worse if elected.  Here are some post excerpts:

Republican Senator Lindsey Graham who faces a tough primary from a number of challengers who believe he is too 'liberal' has been 'gay-baited' by one of his opponents. Rumors have been flying for years about the fifty-eight year old Senator has been a 'confirmed bachelor' all his life.

Nancy Mace called the Republican Senator a 'Nancy boy' in a tweet which she then attempted to quickly delete not knowing that once a tweet is sent out it is out there for the public. She should have consulted with Anthony Weiner!

The rumors of Graham's sexuality had become so strong that in 2010 he had to publicly deny that he was gay.

The Carolina Conservatives United says that Graham is too progressive for the folks of the South. Graham has over six million dollars in the bank and at this moment has a comfortable lead in the polls.

A conservative political action committee outs Graham in this video at a speech in Greenville, South Carolina:

Thursday Morning Male Beauty

Gay Marriage Issue Entangles Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett

With the State Attorney General of Pennsylvania stating that she will not defend Pennsylvania's ban on gay marriage and some county clerks issuing marriage licenses to same sex couples and one mayor conducting marriages, the hot potato issue of gay marriage has landed firmly in the lap of Pennsylvania's GOP governor, Tom Corbett (pictured above).  It's an issue that is probably a lose-lose situation for Corbett, whose popularity has plummeted, but the Christofascists in the GOP base will be screaming for his head on a pike if he does not defend the law.  Politico looks at Corbett's unwanted position.  Here are highlights:

Defending a divisive gay marriage ban is probably not the fight Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett would have chosen 15 months ahead of an election he’s widely expected to lose. A majority of Pennsylvanians now support same-sex marriage, a dramatic shift from just a few years ago.  But the issue has been thrust in the first-term Republican’s lap — and the politics may not be all bad for him.
Corbett’s decision to stand by the state’s 1996 ban will help shore up his shaky support among Republicans and all but eliminates the possibility of a primary challenge from the right, strategists said.

But the conflict between Corbett and Kathleen Kane, Pennsylvania’s attorney general, also prolongs a conversation about an increasingly unpopular law when the governor is struggling to pick up every vote he can. A June poll out of Quinnipiac University said that Corbett, who is in his first term, has a dismal 30 percent favorability rating among Pennsylvania voters.
Although the defense of such challenges ordinarily falls under the purview of the state attorney general, Kane made the rare decision to not to back the law, saying she believes it to be “wholly unconstitutional.”

That put Corbett, one of the least popular governors in the country, in a tough spot: defend a law that a growing number of voters disagree with; or side with Kane and anger the GOP base.  On July 30, he chose the former.

Corbett’s decision adds gay marriage to the list of issues he must juggle ahead of what’s expected to be a vicious reelection fight. His tanking popularity and struggles to push his agenda through a legislature controlled by his own party — privatizing liquor stores, public pension reform and transportation funding — have prompted several Democrats to jump into next year’s race.

Although the decision angered Democrats and could alienate moderate Republicans from the must-win Philadelphia suburbs, analysts said that in defending the law, Corbett all but guaranteed himself a straight shot at the Republican nomination, which had looked to be in jeopardy.

Nevertheless, strategists said the debate over gay marriage will remain at the forefront of Pennsylvania politics in the coming months. The fact that the state’s attorney general and governor are at odds on the legality of a law passed by the state legislature will provide ample fodder for the media.ot

For Corbett, the extended coverage is less than welcome news. In 2006, a decade after the marriage law in question was passed, just 33 percent of Pennsylvanian vers approved of gay marriage. That number shot up by about 20 percentage points in the past seven years.  A February Franklin and Marshall poll found that 52 percent of Pennsylvania voters approve of gay marriage, the first time a public poll registered majority support. This number increased to 54 percent by May.

The ACLU lawsuit isn’t all that’s fueling the gay marriage controversy. The Corbett administration recently sued Montgomery County register of wills D. Bruce Hanes after he began issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples after the Supreme Court struck down DOMA. And the mayor of Braddock, a Pittsburgh suburb, officiated a gay marriage on Monday in defiance of the law.
Slowly but surely catering to the Christofascists will be the death of the GOP.

Slate: Ken Cuccinelli’s Sodomy Obsession

Ken Cuccinelli's obsession with sodomy continues to make Virginia a laughing stock around the country and also shows the way Kookinelli would govern if Virginians are stupid enough to allow him to be elected to the Governor's mansion by the right wing extremists that nominated him for governor in the first place.  Time and time again, Cuccinelli has demonstrated that laws and mean what he wants them to say, not what their plain language states, and that he thinks he is above the rulings of the highest courts in the land.   In his frivolous appeal the the United States Supreme Court, Cuccinelli asks the Court to utterly ignore the plain, unequivocal wording of Virginia's "crimes against nature" law which as written applies to EVERYONE, gay or straight, adult or minor, married or unmarried.  Who is guilty and who can be prosecuted is left purely to the whims of prosecutors. Policing every bedroom across Virginia is not what I'd call an example of smaller government.  But then again, a smaller government less intrusive government is not what Cuccinelli wants.  He wants a theocracy.  An article in Slate looks at Cuccinelli's insane and very dangerous arguments for making all sex outside of the so-called "missionary position" illegal.   Here are excerpts:

Ken Cuccinelli, Virginia’s attorney general, has garnered more than his share of national attention over the years, with high-profile legal crusades against global warming researchers, Obamacare, and abortion clinics. But it’s his recent war on consensual sodomy in the commonwealth that has raised the most eyebrows as the gubernatorial candidate has made the issue a centerpiece of the final months of his campaign.

His critics, including the ladies of The View and Jay Leno, have responded to Cuccinelli’s quest to reinstate Virginia’s anti-sodomy or, “Crimes Against Nature” law, with snickers and winks. The law is plainly unconstitutional—according to both a 2003 U.S. Supreme Court decision and a federal appeals court—and giggling about the attorney general’s creepy preoccupation with Virginians’ consensual oral sex makes for an easy comic target. But that focus obscures the real—even original—sin undergirding Cucinelli’s latest legal push: It’s a call for judges to read statutes to mean what they don’t say; a call for outright judicial activism, for freewheeling judicial interpretation—qualities legal thinkers on the right usually deplore.

It has long been the mantra of Republican politicians that judges—especially elitist federal judges—should never, ever legislate from the bench. Now consider Attorney General Cuccinelli’s approach to Virginia’s sodomy law. The anti-sodomy statute, 18.2-361, applies to “any person” that “carnally knows any male or female person by the anus or by or with the mouth.” Yes. It bans all oral and anal sex. And for those who partake, the legal consequence is a felony conviction, possible imprisonment, and lifelong status as a sex offender.

In March, the federal court of appeals struck down the Virginia sodomy law and threw out MacDonald’s conviction for reasons clear to anyone who’s ever watched Ally McBeal. Lawrence v. Texas, the 2003 Supreme Court decision about Texas’ anti-sodomy statute, held that states can’t regulate private consensual sexual activity amongst adults. The court of appeals’ position, that state anti-sodomy laws simply do not survive post-Lawrence, is the same position taken by attorneys general in other states, including the prior Virginia attorney general. That should end it, right?
But even with the tide of legal authority against him, Cuccinelli decided to appeal the case to the Supreme Court, arguing that Virginia’s anti-sodomy statute has no constitutional problem, if—as he concedes, and only if—the high court would just interpret the terrifyingly broad sodomy law to apply only to sex involving 16- and 17-year-olds.
The legal position Cuccinelli pushes creates truly bizarre results, which is normally a sign for reviewing courts that something smells funky. Asking a federal court to turn a state anti-sodomy law into an anti-statutory rape law means that if MacDonald had engaged in ordinary intercourse with a 17-year-old girl every day for a month, he would not face a felony conviction or be a sex offender. He’d just be that guy. But his decision to solicit oral sex, even his decision to just phone her and ask for it, under the imaginarily rewritten law, requires both.

Cuccinelli’s proposed revision to Virginia’s sodomy law would also mean that those older than 15 can legally consent to sex, yet, have no right of sexual privacy in actually having sex. Or, to put it differently, Virginia could charge any 16- and 17-year-old with felony sodomy simply because they happened to choose oral or anal sex over vaginal sex. That’s a scary prospect for all parents in Virginia, but especially for those parents raising gay teens. Leaving a statute of that sort on the books doesn’t protect children over the age of consent. It criminalizes their choice of conduct and leaves the state to decide when it’s benign.
For what possible reason should we give Cuccinelli, or the federal courts, open-ended discretion to go after some acts of consensual sodomy, but not others—when he’s made plain that he thinks one particular class of sodomy is “intrinsically wrong?” And in light of that fact that exactly such back-from-the-dead “crimes against nature” statutes are being used right now in states like Louisiana by overzealous and vindictive police officers to openly harass gay couples, what possible reason could there be to reinstate them?

It’s hard to tell whether Cuccinelli is now begging federal courts to legislate from the bench because he needs a campaign boost, or because he really does want them to police—on an ongoing, “trust me”—basis, the private sex lives of all Virginians and the sexual conduct of all its teenagers. The first scenario is an example of the sad state of Virginia politics. The second is just plain scary. Either way, begging out-of-touch, elitist, liberal federal courts to make ad hoc decisions about which private sex acts are “unnatural” could not be a less conservative goal.

When all is said and done, Kookinelli's ultimate target is gay Virginians.   He is a zealot who cannot be trusted and, in my view, is down right insane.  We do not need someone like him in the governor's mansion.  We don't need him in any elected office whatsoever.  The Constitutional Daily, after asking whether or not Kookinelli has ever committed sodomy with his wife gets to the real issue plaguing Kookinelli:
But we will speculate about Ken Cuccinelli. There's a good chance he's had a little bit of sodomy at some time. And maybe it was a bad experience for him. In fact, it's quite likely it was a bad experience for him, because anyone who's ever followed the story of an ardent anti-gay advocate knows how the story always ends. Ken Cuccinelli is probably gay.

His anti-gay campaigning is probably a manifestation of his own internal struggle. Most people don't feel that strongly about gays, even your typical redneck who will agree with the most homophobic stuff you can think of at the end of the day really doesn't care. The people who do care are the ones fighting their nature because for them homosexuality is an issue that dominates their own lives, and so they think the rest of the world is as concerned as they are.

Wednesday, August 07, 2013

More Wednesday Male Beauty

Failed GOP Policies: Mothballing Aircraft Carriers A Distinct Possiblity

Aircraft carries at the Norfolk Naval Base
No one blathers more about supporting - dare we say worshiping - America than the Republican party, including the blithering idiots in the Tea Party.  Yet because of GOP intransigence and the  budgetary sequester that has occurred because the Congressional GOP refused to conclude a deal with the Democrats and the Obama White House, very real threats to national security and military readiness are looming.   Virgina could be hit very hard, especially because under the dominance of the GOP controlled House of Delegates and Messrs. McDonnell and Cuccinelli, Virginia has made itself anathema to many progressive and innovative businesses.  A vote for the GOP is a vote for economic suicide in Virginia and Tidewater in particular.  A piece in the Virginian Pilot looks at the growing possibility that air craft carrier battle groups could be mothballed.  Here are excerpts:

Really? Mothballing aircraft carriers?   The idea floated last week by Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel seemed particularly shocking in this Navy town – home to half the nation’s fleet of nuclear flattops, where carrier deployments and homecomings routinely lead evening newscasts.

But defense analysts say people shouldn’t roll their eyes at Hagel’s warning or other drastic changes described last week in the Pentagon’s first formal attempt to detail the long-term effects of sequestration.

If Congress does nothing to mitigate $500 billion in across-the-board defense cuts planned over the next decade, several analysts say, reducing the number of carrier strike groups from 11 is more than just a possibility – it’s almost assured.

“Given the size of the cuts, it’s hard to imagine a scenario that wouldn’t involve cutting carriers,” said Todd Harrison, a defense budget expert at the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments.

[A]nalysts from three other Washington-based think tanks developed plans for how they would deal with sequestration. Every group said it would eliminate at least two carrier strike groups; one analyst said he would cut four. Even if Congress reduced the budget cuts by half, each team of analysts still recommended cutting at least two carrier strike groups.

Aircraft carriers are widely considered America’s best weapon for projecting force across the globe. They’re also the most expensive piece of military equipment ever – one that typically deploys with seven squadrons of multimillion-dollar aircraft, a cruiser, two or three destroyers or frigates and about 5,500 sailors.

“It’s not that carriers aren’t important, it’s that perhaps other systems in the force, even in the Navy, are of a higher priority and deliver more bang for the buck,” said Harrison, noting that he would rather invest in stealthy Virginia-class submarines and unmanned aircraft. “You can try to maintain 11 carriers, but if you don’t have money to deploy them, they won’t be very useful.”

[W]ould aircraft carriers be decommissioned and destroyed, or would the plan involve defueling the nuclear reactors and placing the ships in long-term storage? Huntington Ingalls Industries CEO Mike Petters addressed the hypothetical question Wednesday during a quarterly conference call with Wall Street analysts. The most efficient way to cut the fleet, Petters said, would be to inactivate the next few carriers slated to come into Newport News Shipbuilding for their midlife nuclear refueling.

That would place the aircraft carriers George Washington, John C. Stennis and Norfolk-based Harry S. Truman in the crosshairs.

However you slice it, said retired Vice Adm. Peter Daly, the chief executive officer of the U.S. Naval Institute, fewer aircraft carriers is bad news for Hampton Roads and for national defense.

“Given the level of cuts, I’m not surprised they’re looking at this,” said Daly, the former deputy commander of U.S. Fleet Forces Command in Norfolk. “That doesn’t mean I think it’s a good idea.”

The irony is that the GOP leaning voters in Virginia Beach and Chesapeake would see the local economy pummeled and their property values drop significantly.  But for the fact that others would be harmed in the process, I'd almost like to see it happen.  Then these cretins and bigots would be reaping what they had sown.

Instead of Punishing Russia, International Olympic Committee May Punish Pro-Gay Olympians

My opinion of the International Olympic Committee ("IOC") is dropping by the second.  And my parallels of the current anti-gay pogrom in Russia to events in 1930's Germany when the IOC prostituted itself to Adolph Hitler for the 1936 Summer Games seem increasingly on target.  Now, there are rumors that rather than move the 2014 Winter Games or demand that Russia safeguard gay athletes and tourists attending the Games, the IOC may be planning to take action against athletes who display any type of pro-gay support claiming that such actions would constitute engaging in "political activities".    I'm sorry, but a tawdry whore has more scruples and integrity than the IOC.  A piece in Huffington Post looks at these disturbing developments.  Here are excerpts:

Controversy is swirling around the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia -- scheduled to start six months from today -- due to a shocking and barbaric crackdown against the basic rights and freedoms of that country's LGBT community.

In June, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a draconian law that labels any public acknowledgement of the LGBT community as "gay propaganda." It is now a crime in Russia to advocate for LGBT equality, publicly say that gay relationships are equal to non-gay ones, organize an LGBT pride parade, or even simply hold a rainbow flag. Violators face jail time or fines of up to 1 million rubles.  . . . . And Putin's regressive policies are fueling and legitimizing an alarming surge in hate-motivated beatings, torture, and murders of LGBT people across Russia.

There are calls for the Games themselves to be boycotted, most notably from Harvey Fierstein, and actor George Takei argued yesterday that they should be moved to another host city entirely. Conversely, gay Olympians Johnny Weir, Blake Skjellerup, and Greg Louganis have come out against a boycott, saying that athletes should instead show up at the Games and express support for LGBT people.

But according to a shocking New York Times report by Jeré Longman, showing up and expressing support may not be a feasible option at all. That's because instead of punishing Russia for its brutal and indefensible assault on LGBT human rights, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) may punish athletes who wear pro-equality pins, patches, or T-shirts.

Longman reports that the Olympic Charter "prohibits athletes from making political gestures during the Winter and Summer Games," and that this prohibition could be used to "banish" Olympians who choose to protest, even silently, against Russian homophobia.

Since when is human rights advocacy a "political statement"? If the persecuted group in question were women, Jews, or a racial or ethnic minority group, would protesting their mistreatment still qualify as "political"? Or do things only become political when it's LGBT people -- a minority group it's still OK to hate in many parts of the world -- who are being terrorized?

Equally outrageous is the utterly impotent position that the IOC has taken on Russia's anti-gay laws from the beginning. According to The New York Times, "All the indignation the I.O.C. could muster about Russia's new antigay law was a statement saying the Olympic Committee would 'oppose in the strongest terms any move that would jeopardize this principle.'"

And the United States Olympic Committee isn't any better:
The United States Olympic Committee could have joined with Olympic committees from other nations and said they would not tolerate such a discriminatory law.

But that did not happen. And American officials decided not to speak out unilaterally. Scott Blackmun, the U.S.O.C.'s chief executive, sent a note to American Olympic officials saying, 'While we strongly support equal rights for all, our mission is sustained competitive excellence' and not political advocacy.
What contemptible cowardice. Have they learned nothing from the Berlin Olympics of 1936?

By silencing pro-LGBT athletes, the IOC will be actively complicit in Russia's egregious human rights violations.  They will have blood on their hands.

If the Games are held in Sochi, I for one will not watch ANY of the media coverage despite my love of figure skating (one of my daughters was a competitive skater).  I hope others will join me in boycotting all things Olympic if the Games are not moved from Russia.


Wednesday Morning Male Beauty

Obama to Leno: "I Have No Patience' for the Persecution of Gay People in Russia"

On the Jay Leno show, Barack Obama said nice words about his opposition to what is happening to gays in Russia.  However, as is always the case with Obama, the question is whether those nice words will translate into concrete actions.  I for one, will not be holding my breath.  After all, we still have no ENDA like executive order protecting federal employees and those working for government contractors.  Towleroad looks at the Leno-Obama exchange:

President Obama appeared on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno last night and offered a broad interview on a number of current topics, one of which was the current situation with Russia. After a discussion of the Edward Snowden NSA case, Leno expressed his dismay at Russia's anti-gay laws, and wondered why it isn't a bigger story?

"This seems like Germany - let's round up the Jews, let's round up the gays, let's round up starts with that. You round up people you don't like. Why isn't more of the world outraged at this?"

"I've been very clear that when it comes to universal rights, when it comes to people's basic freedoms, that whether you are discriminating on the basis of race, religion, gender, or sexual orientation, you are violating the basic morality that should transcend every country, and I have no patience for countries that try to treat gays or lesbians or transgender persons in ways that intimidate them or are harmful to them.”

Obama then brought up the situations he encountered on his recent trip to Africa:

"What's happening in Russia is not unique. When I traveled to Africa there were some countries that are doing a lot of good things for their people, who we're working with and helping on development issues but in some cases have persecuted gays and lesbians and it makes for some uncomfortable press conferences sometimes but one of the things that I think is very important for me to speak out on is making sure that people are treated fairly and justly because that's what we stand for and I believe that's not a preset that's not just unique to America but should apply everywhere."

Again, the question is whether these correct words lead to action or remain merely words.  Mr. Obama, are you listening?