Saturday, June 21, 2014

McAuliffe Annouces That He Will Move Ahead on Medicaid Expansion

Signaling that he will move ahead with Medicaid expansion in Virginia - a move that will provide health care to some 400,000 that the Virginia GOP and its Christofascist puppeteers would kick to the gutter - Governor Terry McAuliffe has vetoed a provision of the budget passed by the GOP controlled General Assembly that would have barred Medicaid expansion.  He also vetoed several spending provisions which he said were unwise when Virginia cannot even provide for its neediest citizens.  Legal challenges will no doubt ensue as the Virginia GOP seeks to continue its war on the poor and working class families.  Here are highlights from the Richmond Times Dispatch:

Gov. Terry McAuliffe said today that he will sign the state's two-year budget, but veto an amendment that seeks to tie his hands on Medicaid expansion.

The governor also said he will use his line-item veto to defund the legislature's Medicaid Innovation and Reform Commission, calling it a sham that has blocked implementation.

The governor said he is "moving forward" on health care expansion and has ordered Secretary of Health and Human Resources Bill Hazel to put a plan for expansion on his desk by Sept. 1.

McAuliffe called the expansion of health care to the uninsured "a moral imperative," and promised to "move forward in the face of the demagoguery, the lies, fears, and cowardice that have gripped this debate for far too long."

State legislators approved a two year budget the night of June 12, breaking an impasse, but they included an amendment that seeks to bar Medicaid expansion or a private option without approval of both houses of the legislature.

During a news conference at the Patrick Henry Building in Richmond, McAuliffe said Republicans in the General Assembly had refused to compromise, turned their backs on Virginians who need health care and forfeited millions of federal dollars.

McAuliffe announced a series of additional vetoes.

He said he will block funding to rehabilitate the General Assembly Building and Old City Hall, saying the state cannot rationalize the expense when it cannot afford to aid the homeless.

Sen. Jeff McWaters, R-Virginia Beach, said he has written to Attorney General Mark R. Herring, asking for an opinion as to whether it is constitutional for the governor "to remove language from the budget that is not tied to a specific appropriation" and whether he believes the governor can expand Medicaid unilaterally."

Earlier today, Herring, a Democrat, issued a statement in which he expressed support for the governor's push to expand health coverage, but did not address the underlying legal questions.

Republican leaders in the House of Delegates said in a statement this afternoon that they believe the governor is exceeding his constitutional authority and they threatened legal action.

Saturday Morning Male Beauty

John Paulk: To Straight and Back - The Ex-Gay Myth

Despite all of the medical and mental health knowledge to the contrary and despite the growing acceptance of gays by Americans, the Christofascists continue to strive to maintain the myth that gays can "change" and/or that homosexuality is a "choice."  Illustrating just how much control the Christofascists now have over the Republican Party, the Texas GOP recently added support for "ex-gay" conversion "therapy" to that state's GOP party platform.  The manner in which today's GOP rejects knowledge and fact is indeed stunning.  Few people have played a more prominent role in the "ex-gay" myth that John Paulk, the former poster boy for ex-gays for pay who even appeared on the cover of Newsweek with his still closeted wife.  In a front page piece in Politico, Paulk comes clean on the lies he helped perpetuate and unloads on Rick Perry and the Texas GOP among others.  Seemingly, Paulk feels shame and remorse for what he did  even though in some ways he was a victim of the Christofascists who happily played upon his psychological needs and desire to be "what was expected."  Having spent 37 years of my own life in denial and filled with self-loathing, I can identify with what Paulk has to say.  Here are article excerpts:

There was a time in my life when I used to sound a lot like Rick Perry. In fact, for more than ten years I was one of the nation’s leading spokesmen for the “ex-gay” movement. I traveled the country telling audiences that being gay was a preventable condition, and it could be treated if only you followed a simple plan, obeyed God and sought repentance for your sins. “Ladies and gentlemen, homosexuality is not a genetic, inborn condition,” I would say. “It is the result of traceable causes that, once unraveled, can bring about understanding and transformation in the life of one who is motivated and submitted to God.”

Oh, I was a believer: Homosexuality was just WRONG. And I was Exhibit A, a self-declared convert who had managed to overcome my own shameful gay past. I even appeared on the cover of Newsweek magazine in 1998, posing alongside my wife as a poster boy for “going straight.” And I was happy to do it: Those stories gave me a national platform to advocate for what is called “gay reparative therapy”—basically, convincing gay people that they were sexually “broken” and could be provided with a way to change.

But I was in denial. It wasn’t in fact true, any of it. Worse than being wrong, it was harmful to many people—and caused me years of pain in my own life. Which is why I have this to say to the Rick Perrys of the world: You don’t understand this issue. At all.

What worries me more is the ignorance betrayed by Perry’s comments—an ignorance that I believe is still widespread among conservatives in the straight world—about what being gay means. The kind of ignorance revealed by those in Perry’s Texas Republican Party who recently inserted a plank in their party platform declaring homosexuality to be a “chosen behavior” and recognizing the “legitimacy and efficacy” of gay reparative therapy.

As long as this widespread misunderstanding in the straight world about homosexuality persists, that it is a choice or a “lifestyle,” as Perry put it, not only will we never be fully accepted by society, some of us will remain unable to accept ourselves. It’s internalized homophobia: you hate what you are. It is a form of self-inflicted torture that has haunted me my entire life, and I do not want young gay women and men today to go through what I went through. I want to tell them—and Rick Perry: We are not broken, damaged, inferior or throwaways. We are created in the image of God—just like everyone else.

I came out as a senior in high school in Ohio and embraced my homosexuality. I found wide acceptance within my family, and I lived openly as a homosexual until the age of 24. But around that point in my life I found myself becoming very despondent, even suicidal. I attributed my unhappiness to my homosexuality. In reality, I was tremendously insecure, lonely and searching for an identity. I could no longer accept myself.

[T]he campus pastor introduced me to Christianity. I told him, “God can’t love me because I’m gay.” The pastor replied, in essence, that this wasn’t true, that God could love me, but he added that if I continued being gay, God would not be pleased with my life. I came to believe that homosexuality was something that God was against, and if I continued to embrace it, I would not be pleasing to Him. And I very much wanted please Him.

I signed up for a year-long residential program called “Steps Out of Homosexuality.” There were 12 of us in a house, and we ate, worked and did bible study together. We went to church together too. On Tuesday and Thursday nights, we had long discussions about various aspects of homosexuality—including the Exodus view of how it developed from a breakdown in family relationships such as that between a boy and his father. There were plenty of lapses, but we persevered.

Reparative therapy is, by definition, based on the notion that something is “broken” in one’s identity, needing repair. You are meant to feel like damaged goods, and the therapy is designed to fix that.

I so wanted to be and to feel “normal.” I would look at men at the checkout counter wearing wedding rings, and I’d want to be one of them. I thought, if I’m straight I’ll feel normal. In those early days after my conversion, the temptations to be among my gay friends and once again be part of the gay community were so strong that I would kneel down in my bathroom and beg God to help me not be gay.  And so even as I pursued this career as a professional ex-gay man, and raised a family and loved my wife, I was in utter torment.

I struggled off and on with addiction and wanting to take my life. I knew I was living on the inside as two people. I wanted to believe it was true so badly that not only did I lie to other people, I primarily lied to myself. I wanted my homosexuality to change, but the truth is: For all my public rhetoric, I was never one bit less gay.

More and more, when I’d have to get up and speak to crowds about my gay conversion, I felt like a wind-up toy. I’d go back to my hotel room, fall on the bed and start weeping. I thought, “If I have to go out and do that one more time, I will literally throw up.” I was in agony.

Everything began to change in 2000, when I was photographed in a gay bar in Washington, DC. I had not gone into a gay bar since the late ‘80s, and I wasn’t looking for sex. I just wanted to be among my own kind, to feel at home, for a brief period. I was board chairman of Exodus at the time, and after the news broke I had to resign. It was an enormous public scandal.

[I]t was more and more apparent to me that I was what I always had been: gay.   The older I got, the lonelier I was becoming. Three years ago, I was driving down a suburban street and I saw two men holding hands. I burst into tears. I realized that … I wanted to be one of those men. I knew my decision would hurt my wife and family, but I began to move toward authenticity.

In my view, the ones who are "broken" are the Christofascists who do not care how much harm they cause just so that they can try to cling to the house of cards religious beliefs.   Their ultimate fear is that if the few Bible passages they cling to about same sex relationships are wrong, then perhaps the entire Bible is wrong.  Their damaged psyche's cannot bear realizing that they, not gays, are the ones who have been living their lives based on a lie.  Kudos to Paulk for finally accepting the truth.

Anti-Gay Myths Derailed by Economist's Data Research

click image to enlarge
Homophobia - especially state sponsored homophobia such as exits here in Virginia thanks to the efforts of Christofascists at The Family Foundation and their trained monkeys in the Virginia GOP - is bad for business and bad for Virginia's economy.  That finding has been underscored by an economist at the University of Massachusetts who has studied the economic cost of homophobia from Virginia to as far away as India.  Business Week looks at the findings that confirm that religious based bigotry needs to be eliminated from the public square and the marketplace.  Here are some highlights:
Economist Lee Badgett says equal treatment for gays and lesbians can benefit economies from Virginia to India. For the past two decades, she’s mined data in her quest to prove it. 

“My long-run goal has always been the same: It’s using research to help create a more just world,” said Badgett, 54, director of the University of Massachusetts at Amherst’s Center for Public Policy and Administration. “When policy makers can pick out their favorite myth about gay people to hang their policy on, it’s pretty hard to argue against.” 

The World Bank is collaborating with Badgett to analyze homophobia as a hurdle to development in emerging markets. She’s been called as an expert witness before Congressional subcommittees and in a court case that found California’s same-sex marriage ban unconstitutional. Colleagues credit her with publishing the first research tackling gay and lesbian issues as economic rather than sociological. 

This week, Badgett’s work for the institute was widely cited by national and international news outlets after the White House said President Barack Obama plans to issue an executive order that would bar federal contractors from discriminating against gay and transgendered employees. The change would cover 14 million more workers than state laws do, she found. 

Preliminary findings showed that discrimination related to homophobia leads to less education, lower earnings, poorer health and shorter lives. The lost workplace productivity and health problems connected with homophobia cost the country between $2 billion and $31 billion in 2012. The range is wide because data on sexual minorities is scarce, she said. 

Her work there has shown that gay couples without the option to marry miss out on tax and insurance benefits, and states that don’t allow same-sex marriages lose incremental revenue. Virginia could realize as much as $60 million in the first three years from spending on weddings and tourism, April research showed. While the impact is relatively small -- Virginia’s gross domestic product totaled $426 billion in 2013 - - it does contribute to the economy. 
The only thing that in the last analysis that supports anti-gay discrimination is religion - something that has across the centuries brought more wars, death, and destruction than almost anything else.  One need only look at the sectarian strife in Iraq or the terror attacks of religious extremists to see that the evils of religion go on unabated even today.   The civil laws need to cease empowering religious based hate and bigotry.

Scott Walker Joins List of GOP Governors Under Criminal Investigation

There was a time not too long ago when Bob McDonnell of Virginia, Chris Christie of New Jersey and Scott Walker of Wisconsin were all touted as the up and coming, potential presidential candidates for the Republican Party.  Now, McDonnell is under federal indictment and an upcoming trial, Chris Christie is under investigation for "Bridge Gate" and Walker is now perhaps facing a criminal investigation as well.  One thing that all three of these men have in common is insufferable arrogance and an apparent view that they are above the law and how they hold average Americans in contempt.  The New York Times looks at Walker's situation in a main page editorial.  Here are excerpts:
Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy promised in 2010 that there was nothing to fear from independent spending groups that raised unlimited dollars. Because they could not coordinate with political candidates, he wrote in the Citizens United decision, they “do not give rise to corruption or the appearance of corruption.”

In the years since that disastrous opinion, politicians around the country have set out to prove Justice Kennedy wrong by stealthily working with the “independent” groups that raise money on their behalf. The latest to get caught doing so is Gov. Scott Walker, Republican of Wisconsin. According to state prosecutors, he was at the helm of a broad and illegal fund-raising effort that involved coordinating with outside spending groups and even controlling them.

Email messages and other documents released on Thursday as part of a Wisconsin lawsuit show that Mr. Walker and his top aides raised money for the local chapter of Club for Growth, one of the outside groups helping Mr. Walker fend off a 2012 recall attempt at the polls. They then directed that millions of dollars raised by the Club for Growth be transferred to other groups that ran ads in support of Mr. Walker and of Republicans who were the subject of State Senate recall elections in 2011. The groups also ran absentee-ballot drives in some of the recalls.

On the national level, campaigns figure they can get away with it because the Federal Election Commission is largely toothless. That’s why it is important that prosecutors like the ones in Wisconsin aggressively pursue violations of similar state laws against coordination with outside groups. In the Walker case, a federal judge and a state judge have, disappointingly, already agreed with the governor’s argument that the “issue ads” were not political, but the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit is reviewing the case and may let the prosecutors proceed with their investigation.

If the rules against coordination are lifted, wealthy donors will achieve their dream of donating unlimited millions directly to candidates. The Walker case shows how important it is for government at all levels — Congress, federal agencies and state officials — to put severe curbs on the ability of outside groups to meddle in politics with unlimited dollars.

Is It Time for NOM to Shut Down?

NOM's pathetic turnout
I have long suspected that the National Organization for Marriage (is in reality a front group for either a few wealthy anti-gay bigots or the Mormon Church and/or Roman Catholic Church.  This reality would explain NOM's hysteria over refusing to report the names of its donor as required by many state campaign finance laws, including those in Maine where NOM has been found to have violated the law.  Brian Brown and others at NOM who have been making a very nice livelihood peddling anti-gay animus consistently allege that the organization has "broad based" and "numerous financial supporters."  If that is the case, few of these supposed legions of supports showed up for NOM's much ballyhooed "March for Marriage" in Washington, DC.  By all reports, attendance was pathetic despite NOM's promotion of the event, including offering free buses to would be participants.  As The New Civil Rights Movement reports, every news out let that has written about the event has lowered their estimates of the number of attendees in direct opposition to NOM's claim that 10,000 were at the failed event.  Here are some highlights:
[A]lmost all news reports including those from reporters on the ground estimated the number of people at NOM’s anti-gay hate march at 2000. The march, organized by the National Organization For Marriage, was thoroughly panned across most of the media.

World Magazine reported, however, that NOM claimed the number of people at the march was 10,000, as The New Civil Rights Movement pointed out earlier today. And the Deseret News (initially) put the number at 5,000.

Friday evening after a lengthy email conversation with The New Civil Rights Movement and several posts from critics and activists on social media, Kellner and the Deseret News changed their reporting to read “several thousand people present.”

Meanwhile, the Associated Press reports the “crowd appeared to number between 1,000 and 2,000; there was no official estimate.”

The Washington Times also reported on how many people attended the march.  “Hundreds.”  “Hundreds march in defense of traditional marriage,” the Washington Times’ headline reads.
[C]learly if the nation’s top-funded and number one organization attacking the rights of the LGBT community and same-sex couples cannot even muster up 5,000 or 10,000 people to come to a rally in Washington, D.C. — even after providing free busses — then clearly America has grown tired of them. NOM’s rhetoric and tactics are so far removed from the mainstream that only 2,000 want to show up to support their cause? The rally will go down in history as evidence they lost the battle for marriage.
Like virtually everything else that NOM puts out, it is clear that the 10,000 attendees claim is a lie.  NOM needs to either shut down or start being honest and admit that it is nothing more than a front group that exists to hide the identity of a few large donors.  The Catholic Church and groups like the Knights of Columbus remain high on my suspect list of the handful of individuals/groups that fund NOM. 

Friday, June 20, 2014

Friday Morning Male Beauty

NOM and Holly Rollers Descend on Washington in a Anti-Marriage Fail

UPDATED: Even the far right Washington Times has noted the pitiful attendance at NOM's supposedly huge event:
At the March for Marriage rally, hundreds of people cheered and waved signs reading “every child deserves a mom and dad,” and some picnicked while dozens of speakers delivered passionate speeches declaring natural marriage to be the best for the American people before marching down Constitution Avenue, ending their rally in front of the Supreme Court.

With Americans' acceptance of same sex marriage growing at a steady rate, the National Organization for Marriage is struggling to stay relevant and, more importantly trying to maintain visibility so that the ignorant, gullible and out right bigoted can continue to be fleeced for money.  Yesterday, NOM held its much advertised "March for Marriage" in Washington DC.  Despite the publicity, most Americans seem to have yawned and gone about their business while by some estimates only 2,000 or some folks showed up at NOM's event which ended up as a small platform for the usual suspects: theorcrat Mike Huckabee, self-loathing closet case Rick Santorum and similar Christofascists, not to mention a sprinkling of French Neo-Nazis.  Not surprisingly, anti-gay lies were aired with abandon.  The Daily Beast looks at the near non-event.  Here are highlights:

Steps from our nation’s Capitol, I was approached by Morton, a youthful-looking 68-year-old Virginia native with artificially blond hair and a fistful of flyers that read, “Gay Greed” and “Gay Sex Leads to Adult Diapers.”

They’re not born with it, you know,” Morton offered, unprompted. “If anybody opens the back door unnaturally from outside, you end up having open-door syndrome. You can’t close the door. Anal sex harms [gays]. It reduces their life by, on average, 25 years—anal or oral sex.” Asked if such sex could harm women the same way it harms gay men, Morton thought for a moment. “Uh, it also has an impact—a strong impact. I’m not certain the exact statistics there.”

Welcome to the second annual March for Marriage, a friendly gathering of a few thousand concerned Americans, that is, according to its website, “poised to become an essential and indispensable vehicle for voicing the values of pro-marriage Americans in a way that cuts through the biased media narrative and demands hearing in the halls of power.” 

Rick Santorum, former U.S. senator from Pennsylvania and former presidential candidate, took the stage and told the enchanted crowd (although, it might have just been heat exhaustion) that it was their responsibility, together, to “reclaim” the institution of marriage. “That’s on us,” he said.

In between speakers, some attendees walked around wielding sings and some prayed—with their arms stretched toward the sky. Others clutched rosary beads. Actual priests (and a few rabbis) circled, holding religious texts and offering wisdom to passersby.

Former Arkansas Governor and perpetual presidential prospect Mike Huckabee kicked off his remarks with a dig at President Obama, who infamously “evolved” on gay marriage.

[M]any who oppose same-sex marriage have—as public opinion increasingly sides against them—begun to express their concern that they are being victimized by its proponents—Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council went as far as to liken it to McCarthyism. And that sentiment was palpable at the March for Marriage.
 All in all, it was a pretty pathetic event - just like its organizers and participants.

Democrat Trammell Has a Shot in Cantor's Former 7th District

Jack Trammell

One of the aspects of Eric Cantor's defeat last week in the GOP primary for the Virginia 7th Congressional District is that suddenly the Democrat challenger, Jack Trammell, may have a shot at winning the general election in November.  If that happens, it would provide another instance where Tea Party insurgents have handed victory to an otherwise long shot candidate.  Sometimes ideological purity demanded by the Kool-Aid drinking Tea Party and Christofascist activists of the GOP base comes with a high price.  A piece in the Richmond Times Dispatch looks at the new landscape of the race for the 7th District.   Here are some excerpts:

Jack Trammell entered the race for the 7th District’s congressional seat fully expecting to mount the traditional quixotic challenge to House Majority Leader Eric Cantor.

But fellow Randolph-Macon College professor Dave Brat’s stunning, tea party-fueled upset of Cantor last week has changed the dynamics of the race, arguably giving Trammell and eager fellow Democrats a better chance to compete for a seat that has been in Republican hands since 1971.
“I was expecting to face Cantor, and I knew what the realistic prospects of what kind of campaign it was going to be and what it was going to take to make it a competitive race, if it could be that,” Trammell recalled in an interview at a Starbucks on the edge of the district.  Then Brat won.

“At that point my iPhone, literally within 30 minutes, melted in a pile of plastic and rubber,” Trammell said. “I think I had 644 emails in the first hour or two.”

[T]he 50-year-old author, associate professor and farmer from Louisa County is running as a Democrat in a district with a voting history that is more “red” than a vampire novel. That, by the way, is what Trammell was writing before the political fates plucked him from obscurity and thrust him front and center into a nationally watched race. 

[N]ow, attention is turning to Trammell, whose decision to seek the seat sprang from the encouragement of friends, after existing most of his life as a notion of public service he might pursue someday.

A week after the race was set, Trammell is in the midst of crafting policy positions on major issues sure to be debated over the next four months. He shared a few of them during his first sit-down interview.

On education: Trammell, an associate professor of sociology who also directs Randolph-Macon’s disability support services, wants reforms to student loan debt.

On health care: He favors expanded health care and expanded Medicaid, but with a caveat. “I realize that any program that’s that large is going to have the danger of waste, fraud and mismanagement and red tape,” he said.

On immigration: Trammell said his ancestor Thomas Trammell came to Virginia from England through the Port of Alexandria in 1671 after indenturing himself to pay for the voyage.  The issue, he said, should be evaluated as a cost-benefit analysis balancing the advantages of what he describes as immigrants’ “human capital, diversity, innovation and energy,” versus the strain that unregulated immigration can place on basic human services, local communities and homeland security.

On the minimum wage: “I do generally support the minimum wage, and I think increasing it is fairly logical based on inflation rates and cost-of-living increases.” He’s open to letting localities make their own decisions on the wage, saying it could be used as an economic development tool.

Only time will tell whether such common sense positions can carry the day in a GOP leaning district.

Obama Administration to Extend Array of Marriage Benefits to Gay Couples

While many federal agencies and departments are now recognizing same sex marriages performed in states where such marriages are legal, new regulations backed by the Obama administration will further expand equal treatment for all married couples under the law.  It's a safe bet that this move will further prompt Christofascists to depict Obama as the Anti-Christ or as waging a war on Christians.  In reality, of course, it has always been the Christofascists who have waged a relentless war against gays and others who reject the hate and fear based religious beliefs of the self-anointed "godly folks."  Given Hampton Roads' large number of military personnel, the changes by the Department of Defense will be significant for the region.  A piece in the New York Times looks at the additional recognition to be afforded to married same sex couples.  Here are highlights:

The federal government on Friday will extend a wide range of marriage benefits to same-sex couples, making good on a promise by President Obama after the Supreme Court struck down the Defense of Marriage Act last year.

After decades of blocking gay married couples from receiving the same benefits as their heterosexual counterparts, most federal agencies will now treat married couples alike, regardless of gender. The changes in regulations across the federal government will be announced Friday.

The action is important, officials said, because of differences in how states treat same-sex marriage. Without the regulatory changes, gay couples could be blocked from receiving federal benefits in states that do not recognize their marriages. Same-sex marriage is legal in 19 states and the District of Columbia.

“In almost all instances, federal benefits and obligations for same-sex married couples will be provided, regardless of where the couple lives,” a White House official said late Thursday before the agencies’ formal announcements.

Under the changes, same-sex spouses of Defense Department employees will receive all the benefits of heterosexual husbands and wives. Federal immigration law will apply equally to gay and straight married couples. The Internal Revenue Service will recognize the marriages of all gay couples. The spouses of gay federal employees will get health insurance, life insurance and flexible spending accounts.

In addition, federal employees will be able to take leave to care for a same-sex spouse, something that has long been limited to heterosexual married couples.

The actions are the latest examples of Mr. Obama’s embrace of equality for same-sex couples following what he called his evolution on the issue.

“This is a country where no matter who you are, or what you look like, or how you came up, or what your last name is, or who you love — if you work hard and you take responsibility, you should be able to make it,” Mr. Obama said. “That’s the story of America. That’s the story of this movement.”

While he was at the event, Mr. Obama announced that he had directed his staff to develop an executive order that would ban federal contractors from discriminating in hiring decisions on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. And he vowed to keep pressuring Congress to pass a law that would extend those protections to all workers.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Thursday Morning Male Beauty

Douche Bag GOP Congressman Doubts LGBT Workplace Discrimination Exists

The batshitery - or is just plan unbridled bigotry - of some in the Republican Party sometimes defies belief.  A case in point is Rep. Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.) (pictured above) who has stated that he doesn't believe that LGBT individuals face work place discrimination even as the Christofascists in the GOP base repeatedly state that they want to retain the right to fire LGBT employees at will.  It's difficult to tell whether Cramer is simply a complete idiot (a distinct possibility in today's GOP) or simply a craven political whore to the hate merchants of the GOP base.  Either way, Cramer's head is so far up his ass it's a wonder he hasn't suffocated!  Here are highlights from the Huffington Post:

A Republican congressman said he's not sure that workplace discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people exists -- because he's never gotten a phone call about it.

"I'm not even sure that this is a problem. I have to be honest, I don't get many, if any. I don't know that I've ever received a phone call in my office from somebody that says they've been discriminated against based on their sexual orientation," Rep. Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.) told Bismarck station KFYR on Tuesday.

Cramer is a first-term member of Congress who is facing a challenge from Democrat George Sinner. On Monday, the White House announced officials would draft an executive order that would bar federal contractors from discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.

Cramer added that he believes the White House's move was meant for political gain, and companies should be left to set their own policies. 

Studies have found that workplace discrimination is a persistent problem for many LGBT individuals. Roughly one in five LGBT adults surveyed by the Pew Research Center in 2013 said that they had been unfairly treated by an employer.

Ninety percent of transgender people say that they have faced harassment in the workplace because of their gender identity, according to one study. In the same poll, 26 percent of transgender Americans surveyed said that they had lost a job because of their gender identity.

According to the Human Rights Campaign, 21 states and the District of Columbia have passed laws prohibiting employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, and 18 states and D.C. also bar discrimination based on gender identity.

Like many in the GOP, to Cramer, facts do not matter.  As one who lost my job for being gay, I know first hand that Cramer is full of s*it.

Justice Department Investigating Senator Puckett's Resignation

Sen. Puckett - For Sale to the highest bidder
The Virginia GOP regained control of the Virginia State Senate by bribing Senator Phillip P. Puckett, D-Russell, with a proposed job on the state tobacco commission and a judicial appointment of his daughter.  The result of the bribe was Puckett's resignation and the tipping of the Senate back into GOP hands at least until a replacement can be elected in a special election.  Particularly shocking is the Virginia GOP's offering of a judgeship as part of the deal.  Apparently, the U.S. Justice Department and the FBI smell something foul.  As the Richmond Times Dispatch reports, the feds are investigating the circumstances of what has to be one of the most blatant bribery situations in recent memory.  Here are story excerpts:
The U.S. Department of Justice is investigating the circumstances surrounding the recent resignation of state Sen. Phillip P. Puckett, D-Russell, including his alleged consideration for a job on the state tobacco commission and the pending judicial appointment of his daughter in Southwest Virginia.

Sources familiar with the probe, speaking on condition of anonymity, said representatives of the FBI and United States Attorney's Office for the Western District of Virginia have been conducting interviews, including with elected officials who may have knowledge of the chain of events.
One source said a grand jury will convene in Abingdon next week to hear testimony on the matter.

Puckett chose to leave office before his term expired and in the midst of a protracted partisan stalemate in the General Assembly over the budget and Medicaid expansion.

Puckett's resignation, effective Monday, June 9, came at a pivotal time, effectively tilting the balance of power in the Virginia Senate to Republicans. The GOP’s new 20-19 edge paved the way for the Senate to join GOP-controlled House to pass a budget last week with an amendment that could scuttle Democrats' hopes of expanding Medicaid.

FBI spokeswoman Dee Rybiski said Wednesday the bureau will neither confirm nor deny the existence of an investigation.
In the 40 member Senate, approving a judge would require 21 votes. Before Puckett's resignation, Democrats held 20 votes and Republicans held 20 votes, meaning that at least one Republican would have to join all Democrats to approve her appointment.

In interviews, Del. Terry G. Kilgore, R-Scott, chairman of the tobacco commission, acknowledged that he had spoken to Puckett before his resignation about taking a job with the commission.

The commission is entrusted with awarding millions in tobacco settlement money to smoking cessation and economic development projects in former tobacco growing communities. The job would have fattened Puckett's state pension, calculating his retirement benefit based on a full-time job that pays much more than the $18,000 a year paid to part-time state senators.

In his statement at the time, Puckett described as “incorrect” reports that he had resigned to take a job with the commission. “I have never been officially offered a job by the Tobacco Commission,” he stated.
But Kilgore had scheduled a meeting of the commission's executive committee for the Wednesday following Puckett's resignation, to consider hiring him for the job of deputy director.

The Idiocy of the GOP/Architects of the Iraq War Continues

The saying goes that those who do not know history are deemed to repeat it.  Typically, the time line involved in the statement spans back for many years.   In the case of far too many in today's Republican Party and in particular among the minions of Bush/Cheney who lied to drag America into war in Iraq, their memories do not extend back even a decade ago.  It is frightening that we are hearing the same justifications for renewed military action in Iraq that led to the fiasco in the first place.  One can only think that these individuals are insane, or in the case of Dick Cheney, they want Halliburton to reap more billions in U.S. tax dollars.  A column in the New York Times puts the idiocy of the position of these people and the costs to date of their past fool's errand in perspective.  One can only wonder why anyone in the legitimate news media - which, of course does not  include Fox News - gives these people a moment of air time or news print.  Here are column highlights:

I’m flinching at a painful sense of déjà vu as we hear calls for military intervention in Iraq, as President Obama himself — taunted by critics who contend he’s weak — is said to be considering drone strikes there.

Our 2003 invasion of Iraq should be a warning that military force sometimes transforms a genuine problem into something worse. The war claimed 4,500 American lives and, according to a mortality study published in a peer-reviewed American journal, 500,000 Iraqi lives. Linda Bilmes, a Harvard expert in public finance, tells me that her latest estimate is that the total cost to the United States of the Iraq war will be $4 trillion.

That’s a $35,000 tax on the average American household. The total would be enough to ensure that all children could attend preschool in the United States, that most people with AIDS worldwide could receive treatment, and that every child worldwide could attend school — for the next 83 years. Instead, we financed a futile war that was like a Mobius strip, bringing us right back to an echo of where we started.

We might have learned some humility. Yes, the military toolbox is handy and often useful. But one of the most basic lessons of international relations is a frustrating one: There are more problems than solutions. Governments, like doctors, should weigh the principle, “First, do no harm.”
Yet Paul Bremer, the former American envoy in Iraq, argues for airstrikes and even a few boots on the ground. The Wall Street Journal’s editorial page, likewise, favors military intervention.

Perhaps more surprisingly, so does Senator Dianne Feinstein of California . . . .

The least surprising hawk is Dick Cheney, who in a Wall Street Journal op-ed article with his daughter Liz preserves an almost perfect record of being wrong. From the vice president who himself obtained every possible deferment to avoid Vietnam, who asserted “with absolute certainty” in 2002 that Saddam was making nuclear weapons, and insisted in 2005 that the Iraqi insurgency was in its “last throes,” we now have a blast at President Obama for failing to extinguish the continuing throes.

Many Sunnis in Iraq dislike ISIS, but they have learned to loathe and distrust Maliki even more. The way out of the mess in Iraq is for the government to share power with Sunnis and Kurds, accept decentralization and empower moderate Sunni tribes.

If all that happens, it may be reasonable for the United States to back a united Iraqi government by authorizing airstrikes against ISIS fighters. Without that, we simply become an accomplice to Maliki’s intransigence, assisting one party in a civil war.

Unfortunately, it looks as if Maliki is doubling down, revving up his Shiite base rather building a common front. The Iraqi government should be releasing Sunni prisoners as a good-will gesture. Instead, prisoners have been executed by police.

[T]he $4 trillion lesson from the Iraq war is that while our military capabilities are dazzling and sometimes intoxicating, they cannot be the solution to every problem.

Amen!!  As for Feinstein, I can only surmise that the woman has gone senile or is suffering from temporary insanity!

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

More Wednesday Male Beauty

The Cheneys' Call for Permanent War

Evil incarnate
In my book few politicians are more despicable than the megalomaniac Dick Cheney who seemingly wants America to be engaged in a permanent war - apparently so that Cheney can make vasts amounts of money through his holdings in Halliburton.  Yes, the same Halliburton that made out like a bandit on the disastrous Iraq War.  A war that Dick Cheney - and his douche bag daughter - thinks the USA needs to restart.  Why the mainstream media gives these foul individuals a platform defies belief. The man needs to be treated as an outcast.  The Daily Beast looks at this nasty and despicable duo and the venom they are spewing.  Here are excerpts:
Today comes the announcement that the ex-insurgent Senate candidate—you know, the one who thought her sister shouldn’t be allowed to get married—and her dad have founded a new nonprofit, the Alliance for a Strong America, “because we know that America’s security depends upon reversing President Obama’s policies.”

This organization is necessary, we’re told by Liz and father Dick in their eye-popping Wall Street Journal op-ed, because Barack Obama has “diminished and weakened” America. The top threat we need to wake up to? Al Qaeda—in Iraq, in Afghanistan, in Syria. And, of course, the killing of four Americans almost three years ago in Benghazi, about which the president has “repeatedly misled us.”

Discredited voices get just as much love from the First Amendment as creditable ones, so the Cheneys can say whatever they want. But it’s worth stopping to reflect on the audacity it takes someone who left office with an approval rating below 20 percent to interject himself so aggressively into public discourse—on policies whose public support is almost as low.

If all this sounds familiar to you, you are right—and you also pay far too much attention to the employment needs of ex-Bush administration officials. Seems like just yesterday—2009, in fact—that Liz Cheney, along with Bill Kristol and Debra Burlingame (whose brother died on 9/11), founded Keep America Safe, which aimed to “make the case for an unapologetic approach to fighting terrorism around the world, for victory in the wars this country fights, for democracy and human rights, and for a strong American military that is needed in the dangerous world in which we live.”
It may say everything we need to know about Keep America Safe’s success rate that I hadn’t realized until this morning that it was defunct.

Cheney and Chimperator Bush sent thousands of young Americans to needless deaths.  In addition, they caused the deaths of thousands and thousands of Iraqi civilians, authorized torture and violations of the Geneva Conventions  and bankrupted America in the process. Dick Cheney needs to be put on trial for war crimes and if convicted,might merit a death sentence.  Frankly, I can't think of anything that would make senior America political figures to shape up more than seeing someone like Cheney executed for war crimes.

Poll: No Gay Marriage "Revolt" Coming

As the National Organization for Marriage ("NOM") gears up for its gathering of haters tomorrow in its "March for Marriage," a new poll suggests that NOM is continuing its journey into irrelevance and waiting for a "revolt" of "godly folk" against marriage equality. Thus once can only wonder whether the real motivation of Brian Brown and other march participants is to shake down the ignorant and gullible at least last one time for as much money as possible.  A piece in Politco looks at the seemingly hopeless efforts of thr gay haters. Here are highlights:

The Human Rights Campaign is welcoming the National Organization for Marriage to Washington Thursday with a poll conducted by Mitt Romney’s former data director showing just how far the majority of Americans are now from their anti-gay marriage views.The poll was conducted to coincide with NOM’s rally near the Capitol and march to the Supreme Court, followed by a gala at the Willard Intercontinental Hotel.

Conducted by Alex Lundry through his firm TargetPoint Consulting and obtained by POLITICO, it singled out the views of one person, Family Research Council president Tony Perkins, who predicted in 2012 — before Proposition 8 and the Defense of Marriage Act were struck down — that the Supreme Court legalizing gay marriage would cause “a revolution. You will see Americans saying, ‘You know what? Enough of this.’ It could explode and just break this nation apart."

Conducting his poll at the beginning of June, Lundry didn’t find much support for that kind of revolt when the quote was read to respondents, with 59 percent overall disagreeing with Perkins. Of people who said they were opposed to gay marriage, 58 percent said they wouldn’t do anything, despite disagreeing and being disappointed in the decision.

“Only one directly mentions the word ‘revolution,’ five voters threaten to leave the country, and a scant fifteen people (3% of opponents) mention any form of protest,” reads a prepared polling memo. “Clearly, there is no real threat of widespread calamity should we extend the freedom to marry to gays and lesbians.”

Support for gay marriage is at 56 percent, with 37 percent opposed, squaring with public polls. Asked to rate the degree of their support, 44 percent said they “strongly” support legalization, with only 28 percent opposed.

Those feelings are reflected in some of the other answers to the survey: 74 percent of people said their lives wouldn’t change with legalized gay marriage, and among those who did foresee a change, many rated it as one that would be for the better.

The NOM rally and the release of the HRC poll Thursday come as LGBT advocates head to the White House for a meeting about President Barack Obama’s decision to sign a new executive order banning LGBT workplace discrimination and a Justice Department report about the administration’s efforts to broadly interpret last year’s Windsor decision striking down the Defense of Marriage Act is scheduled for release.
As noted many times before, I believe that the Christofascists will ultimately be the death of Christianity.   Hate, division and bigotry are the only things that their version of Christianity has to offer.