Saturday, January 16, 2016

More Saturday Male Beauty

Episcopalians Defiant and Will Not Reverse Support of Gay Marriage

moral monsters masquerading as "men of god"
Sadly, the Anglican Communion has prostituted itself to anti-gay African archbishops - some of whose predecessors have been implicated in the murder of Muslim women and children - and has suspended the Episcopal Church USA from the Anglican Communion for its support for same sex marriage.  The move will likely accelerate the exodus from the Anglican Church in areas out side of the ignorant and bigotry embracing archdiocese outside of Africa.  Better yet, one can only hope that the Episcopal Church will divert its funds and foreign aid to regions of the world that do not embrace ignorance, bigotry and anti-gay violence.   In the short term the Episcopal Church is showing defiance and seems unconcerned that it is being punished for being on the right side of history and a welcoming form of Christianity.  I find the developments interesting since (i) I was briefly an Episcopalian before moving to the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, and (ii) the husband and I hosted a rehearsal dinner for dear friends last night and among the attendees was an Episcopal priest who gave the blessing at the marriage service today.  Patheos looks at the justified defiance of the Episcopal Church.  Here are highlights:
Presiding Bishop Michael Curry of the Episcopal Church has stated that they have no intention of reversing their decision to endorse same sex marriage. The AP reports,
In a phone interview from England, where he attended the gathering of top Anglican archbishops, Curry said he told his fellow leaders they should expect no change. The top Episcopal legislative body, called General Convention, last year voted overwhelmingly to authorize same-sex marriage ceremonies in church.
Furthermore, Curry said he thought it was the Episcopalians mission to convert everybody to same sex agenda acceptance.

Curry said the church was resolved to work toward building acceptance of same-sex relationships throughout the Anglican fellowship, which the Episcopal Church represents in the United States. A majority of Anglican leaders at the meeting affirmed the teaching that marriage is only the union of a man and a woman.

Meanwhile,the Archbishop of  one of those [Episcopal] breakaway groups, The Anglican Church in North America, was at the Canterbury meeting this week and was fully involved in the discussions although he did not vote. Episcopal News Service Reports,

ACNA is the largest of the recent [anti-gay] Episcopal breakaway groups and they have been instrumental in making alliances with the African bishops.  It would seem that they have a possibility of stepping into the vacancy that will be left when the Episcopal Church is finally rejected from the Anglican Communion three years from now.

If this were to happen, then the strong (and wealthy) Anglican Church of North America would be increasingly aligned with the African bishops providing a strong alternative to the old school Canterbury-New York alliance. If the Anglican shift to Africa therefore becomes and American-African shift, then the future of the Anglican communion looks even more interesting.

Like the Roman Catholic Church, the Anglican Communion is faced with the choice of either (i) becoming an African based, black church that embraces ignorance and relies on an ignorant population to survive, or (ii) embracing modernity and adapting in order to remain relevant in America and in the western world.  As noted, if it chooses the former, one can only hope that defections from the Communion accelerate and that the flow of western money to support African churchs lead by truly foul and horrible individuals stops entirely.  The embrace on ignorance and bigotry needs to carry a huge financial price.

Federal Birther Lawsuit Filed Against Ted Cruz

The political campaign warfare between neo-Fascist Donald Trump and extremist Ted Cruz has intensified as a birther law suit is filed against Ted Cruz.  While Trump is not outwardly connected to the federal lawsuit, many suspect that Trump supporters are behind the filing which seems aimed at kneecapping Cruz in advance of the Iowa and New Hampshire primaries.  Bloomberg Business looks at the lawsuit and some of the likely political machinations behind it. The lawsuit can be viewed here.  Here are some article highlights.

Republican presidential contender Ted Cruz should be disqualified from the race because he isn’t a “natural-born citizen,” a fellow Texan claims in a “birther” challenge filed against the senator in a U.S. court.

The suit seeks a court definition of the term to clarify whether Cruz -- who was born in Canada to an American mother -- can or can’t serve if elected.

“This 229-year question has never been pled, presented to or finally decided by or resolved by the U.S. Supreme Court,” Houston attorney Newton B. Schwartz Sr. said in his 28-page complaint. “Only the U.S. Supreme Court can finally decide, determine judicially and settle this issue now.”

Claiming that “time is of the essence” because of the rapidly approaching Iowa caucuses and March 1 Super Tuesday primaries, Schwartz asked that the case be expedited for resolution by the nation’s highest court as soon as possible.

Republican front-runner Donald Trump pressed the issue during a televised candidate debate Thursday evening in South Carolina, saying he’s bringing up Cruz’s Canadian birthplace “because now he’s doing a little bit better” in the polls. Trump insisted that Cruz receive a judgment from the courts because it would be bad for Republicans to have the issue hanging over their presidential or vice-presidential nominee.

“There is a big overhang. A big question mark on your head,” Trump told Cruz. “You can’t do that to the party.”

Schwartz, 85, said in a phone interview he isn’t connected to any particular campaign, though he personally “probably” supports Bernie Sanders, the Vermont senator seeking the Democratic nomination.

The case is Schwartz v. Cruz, 4:16-cv-00106, U.S. District Court, Southern District of Texas (Houston).

Recommendations Wanted- London Gay Pride 2016

The husband and I are looking to book a trip to London the week of London Gay Pride.  We'd love recommendations on what parts of the city to stay in and nay recommended hotels that are reasonably priced.  I am leaning towards the Kennsington and Chelsea area, but am open to suggestions.  Please drop me your thoughts and comments.  Thank you!!

Saturday Morning Male Beauty

Is GOP Race Now Between Cruz and Trump?

The prospect of the GOP narrowing down to a race between Donald Trump and Ted Cruz illustrates how far the GOP has fallen.  Lowell at Blue Virginia aptly describes the contest as a "fascistic, bigoted thug vs. theocratic extremist wacko."  If this indeed becomes the defining contest of the nomination, the so-called GOP establishment will truly be reaping what it sowed when the Christofascists and other extremists were voted onto local city and county committees as I observed in my last days on the City Committee of the Republican Party of Virginia Beach.  The lesson is that you NEVER allow extremists and those who reject objective reality onto official party bodies. Never, ever. A piece in the Washington Post looks at the scary prospect of one of these two extremists securing the nomination.  Here are highlights: 

As the presidential primary race moves into a more urgent and combative phase, there is growing acceptance among Republicans, including the Washington and financial elite, that Donald Trump and Ted Cruz are the two candidates most likely to become the party’s nominee.

Long expected to become a race between an outsider and an establishment candidate, it is coming down instead as one between two outsiders, with dwindling time for their rivals to change the trajectory before the Iowa caucuses on Feb. 1.

There is hope that one of the four establishment candidates may emerge as a consensus choice and consolidate support. The two who seem best positioned to do so, Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie . . . .

“Trump and Cruz sucked all the oxygen out of the room, which is bad news for the establishment folks,” said Barry Bennett, a veteran GOP strategist who recently resigned as campaign manager to Ben Carson. “It doesn’t look like much is going to stop them. They’re in a tier off to themselves, and I think our nominee is going to be Cruz or Trump.”

Republican donors,  . . . . are suddenly adjusting their thinking and strategies.
Spencer Zwick, the national finance chairman for Mitt Romney’s 2012 campaign, said power brokers and financiers are now trying to cozy up to Trump in various ways, such as reaching out through mutual friends in New York’s business community.

“A lot of donors are trying to figure their way into Trump’s orbit. There is a growing feeling among many that he may be the guy, so people are certainly seeing if they can find a home over there,” he said.

Trump says he is rejecting large campaign donations, though he has relied heavily on small-dollar donations as well as his own money to fund his campaign.   Cruz, who has a more traditional finance operation, is aggressively courting establishment financiers. 

Their debate-night argument over whether the Canadian-born Cruz meets the constitutional requirements to serve as president spilled onto the campaign trail Friday in Iowa, where Trump revived his so-called “birther” attack in a CNN interview. He also hit Cruz over his recent admission that he had failed to properly disclose a loan during his 2012 Senate campaign.

Meanwhile, Cruz is starting to make an assertive case that Trump is an untrustworthy and unprincipled conservative. At the debate, the senator raised Trump’s past claim that he had “New York values,” charging that his once-liberal views on social issues were out of step with red America.

Some outside strategists are less bullish on Cruz, however. Eric Fehrnstrom, a former Romney adviser, said Trump remains in “total command of the field.” He said Cruz has yet to put the issue of his constitutional eligibility to rest and suggested he “produce his own expert,” such as retired Supreme Court justice Sandra Day O’Connor, to issue a statement confirming Cruz’s qualifications.

Will Saudi Arabia Cause More Destabilization in thr Middle East?

Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
One hears constant blather from Republicans about the danger that Iran and/or radical Islamic extremists pose to America, yet they continue to ignore perhaps the largest source of extremism and unrest in the Middle East: Saudi Arabia.  All but one of the 9-11 hijackers were Saudis and no nation spends more supporting the export of extremist Islamic belief than Saudi Arabia.  Why the blindness?  Sadly, because America and to a mach larger extent is European allies still are dependent on Saudi oil.  If the Middle East is a threat to American and western interests, the fastest way to end the issue overall is to find alternative energy sources that would make the Saudis and their oil irrelevant. Then, rather than backing the international export of extremism, the Saudi royals would have to contend with a popular uprising as revenues plunged.  A piece in the Washington Post looks at a Saudi royal whose visions - or more likely delusions - of grandeur could spell more trouble for the world.  Here are highlights:
Late last year, Germany’s intelligence service issued a stern warning about Saudi Arabia: King Salman and his 30-year-old son, Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, want to become “the dominant rulers of the Arab world,” it claimed.

The entire region could be destabilized by their quest and the internal power struggles under way in the kingdom, the memo said.

When King Salman’s reign began a year ago, Mohammed quickly began accumulating “more power than any prince has ever held, upending a longstanding system of distributing positions around the royal family to help preserve its unity,” the New York Times reported.

The prince was appointed defense minister in January and was named deputy crown prince in April, “putting him second in line to the throne and ensuring that the kingdom’s future rulers will come from Salman’s own branch of the extensive royal family,” The Washington Post reported at the time.

Despite the fact that Saudi Arabia does have some elections  — last month, women were allowed to vote and run for office for the first time in municipal elections — the country remains an absolute monarchy.

As defense minister, Mohammed is overseeing a troubled Saudi-led coalition in neighboring Yemen that has been battling Iranian-aligned rebels since March. “The war is draining the Saudis militarily, politically, strategically,” Farea al-Muslimi, a Yemen analyst at the Beirut-based Carnegie Middle East Center, told The Post’s Hugh Naylor.

The Saudi-led coalition “has repeatedly struck houses, schools, and hospitals where no military target was in sight,” wrote Joe Stork, deputy Middle East director for Human Rights Watch.

As oil prices plunge, the Economist noted that the prince’s “most dramatic moves may be at home. He seems determined to use the collapse in the price of oil … to enact radical economic reforms.”

The lifestyle of the young prince — and that of many of the kingdom’s young royals — has apparently annoyed some Saudis. Reports of his “lavish parties in the Maldives and the crown prince’s house-hunting for a Sardinian villa worth half a billion euros are fodder for social media, of which Saudis are keen users,” the Economist also wrote.

Ford M. Fraker, the president of the Middle East Policy Council and a former United States ambassador to Saudi Arabia, told the New York Times that the “The king has put his son on an incredibly steep learning curve, clearly.”
The main rivalry between Saudi Arabia and Iran stems from a longstanding curse of mankind: religion.  It's a case of Sunni versus Shia - a rivalry and hatred that goes back over 1000 years.  Iran has a long history of empire going back over 2300 years - perhaps not coincidentally, the greatest periods were prior to Islam - while the Saudis were impoverished nomads until oil changed the calculation.  Population wise, Iran has some 81 million people versus the Saudis' 31 million.  Which nation is the better to court as a friend and ally?

Friday, January 15, 2016

Friday Morning Male Beauty

Scott Rigell Will Not Seek Re-election

Hate group leader endorsed GOP Virginia 2nd District Congressman Scott Rigell has announced that he will not seek re-election in 2016.  Perhaps the prospect of a possibly less gerrymandered district helped push his decision.  Whatever the real cause, having an open race in a presidential election year could bee a boon to Democrats.  The Virginian Pilot looks at Rigell's decision and the furry of activity it will prompt.  Here are excerpts:

U.S. Rep. Scott Rigell, a three-term congressman from Virginia Beach, surprised supporters and colleagues Thursday by announcing he will not seek re-election this year.

His decision sets the stage for a competitive contest to replace him during an election cycle in which Hampton Roads and the rest of Virginia will be a main focus of presidential candidates who likely have to win the state to win the White House.

Once elected, Rigell supported House Republicans’ repeated attempts to abolish the Affordable Care Act. He also supported efforts to limit nondefense discretionary spending while consistently championing Pentagon programs and veterans’ issues. He called them vital to the country but also key linchpins of the Hampton Roads economy and his district’s dense military population.

Rigell broke ranks with Republicans on some issues. He joined Sen. Tim Kaine, a Virginia Democrat, in recent months to demand that Congress take a vote to authorize the use of military force against Islamic State terrorists – a vote that GOP leaders refused to allow.
With his departure, the district’s voters, who narrowly favored Obama in both his elections, may be open to considering a Republican or a moderate Democrat. Rigell’s stepping down also may be unsettling for Republicans nationally who viewed a strong incumbent’s re-election in the 2nd as helping them carry Virginia in the presidential election.

“I don’t see a path to the White House without Hampton Roads,” said Curtis Colgate, GOP chairman of the 2nd District.

State Del. Scott Taylor, one of five Republicans who unsuccessfully competed against Rigell in the GOP’s 2010 2nd District primary, said Thursday that he’s considering running.

University of Virginia political science professor Larry Sabato said people shouldn’t read too much into Rigell’s decision. He noted that Rep. Robert Hurt, a Virginia Republican who also was first elected in 2010, also decided not to run again.

Rigell's departure is no loss to fair minded Virginians.  Interestingly, the young and good looking Scott Taylor has made overtures to support the Hampton Roads LGBT community and attended last year's HR Pride launch.

The Dark, Ugly World of the Republican Party

As my post last evening indicated, the GOP debate last night gave a view of the dark, ugly world of the Republican Party where all is darkness and the nation is on the verge of collapse.  Driving this view are several factors, not the least of which is Republican candidates to say and do anything to prostitute themselves to the increasingly repellent party base.  Driving the base are at least to trends that terrify those who find thinking for themselves abhorrent.  The first is the reaction of angry, generally low education whites who see their white privilege drifting away as the multicultural nature of the population increases.  Going hand in hand is the reaction of evangelical Christians - another low education population - to their decreasing ability to inflict their horrible version of Christianity on all of society. A column in the Washington Post sums up this dark and ugly world into which a fuhrer like figure like Donald Trump can thrive.  Here are highlights:
President Obama suggested Tuesday that the United States may not, in fact, be on the verge of total collapse. The Republican presidential candidates responded in Thursday’s GOP debate by painting an even more dismal and dangerous picture than they had in the past. The president is a traitor. The military is a shell of a fighting force. The economy is a shambles. Average families are in grave danger. If Democrats win, the country is lost. 

With only a few weeks left before the first primary contests, the GOP race has devolved into a competition for who can squeeze the most political advantage out of voter fear, no matter how over-the-top they sound and no matter how much damage they do by darkening the national mood. Sen. Ted Cruz (Tex.) “won” the latest round of this increasingly disgusting show, with Donald Trump and Sen. Marco Rubio (Fla.) coming in second.

Donald Trump added: “Our military is a disaster. Our healthcare is a horror show…. We have no borders. Our vets are being treated horribly. Illegal immigration is beyond belief. Our country is being run by incompetent people.” Migrants, he also said, “could be the great Trojan Horse. It could be people that are going to do great, great destruction.”

If “a progressive gets in there and they get two or three Supreme Court picks, this nation is over as we know it,” Carson warned.

Here is a dose of reality: It is possible to disagree with the GOP base and be a patriot. The nation faces many challenges, but it is stronger economically and more secure from various foreign threats than nearly everywhere else in the world. In many ways, Americans are better off now than they ever have been.

[T]here were a couple of somewhat encouraging moments Thursday night. One of them: Bush insisted that Trump is “unhinged” for insisting that no Muslim should be allowed into the United States, arguing that the country needs to build relationships with peaceful Muslims. 
But that moment of moral competence was only impressive by comparison with practically everything else the candidates — including Bush himself — said Thursday night.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

More Thursday Male Beauty

Will America Succumb To Trump's Fascism?

I was a history major in college and continue to read a great deal of works of history.  A period that I find both frightening and at the same time fascinating is Germany in the late 1920's and early 1930's when Hitler was working to bring the Nazi Party to power in Germany.  The parallel's with Donald Trump - and, Vladimir Putin, especially on foreign policy - are stunning.  Like Hitler did in Germany, Trump is blaming the alleged woes of America on outsiders (i.e., Muslims and Hispanic immigrants) and Americans who have betrayed American as embodied in particular by Barack Obama. Also, like Hitler, Trump offers no detailed solutions.  Rather it is all about sound bites and pandering to the prejudices of his most ardent fans - poorly educated whites eager to blame anyone but themselves or the party Trump seeks to lead for the root of their problems.   As for ego, Trump certainly rivals Hitler in terms of his own self-perceived brilliance Meanwhile, the world watches the American spectacle with shock and likely a good amount of fear.  A piece in Huffington Post looks at this issue.  Here are excerpts:

In his State of the Union address to Congress on Tuesday night, President Barack Obama never mentioned Donald Trump.

But the president’s speech, stressing optimism, tolerance and good will, was from beginning to end a dismissal and rebuttal to everything the billionaire real estate bigot is and says.

Trump, no one should ever forget, has called millions of immigrants from Mexico drug dealers and rapists, and has proposed an immediate and indefinite ban on immigration to this country of all Muslims seeking to enter from other countries.

He has said that the “the American dream is dead”; that Obama’s actions -- or lack of action -- created ISIS; that the entire decision-making process of Washington is corrupt and useless; that the American economy (the strongest in the world) is a hopeless shambles; and that only he -- by virtue of his alleged brilliance and leadership skills -- can, singlehandedly, bring America back to life.

The depth of accumulated unreality and even insanity represented by these stands have propelled Trump into the lead in the race for the Republican presidential nomination.

Two other GOP candidates are rising to challenge him, primarily by parroting Trump and Trumpism to the extent that they can. Indeed, Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas and Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida appear to be, at least at this moment, the only two challengers capable of stopping Trump -- and they are, in many ways, as hair-raising as he is.

From time to time, America has given in to the darker implications of its historic, unique and vital role as a “nation of immigrants.” . . . In wartime, especially, that dark side of the “nation of immigrants” tradition has led to nightmarish consequences: violence at times against German-Americans in World War I; the internment of Japanese-Americans in World War II.

Religious prejudice has played a major role as well. A large portion of American politics in the 19th century was based on a fear of Catholics and the idea that the pope would have more temporal power here than the president.

But never before has a prominent candidate for president -- indeed several prominent candidates, all of the same party -- made xenophobia, racial and religious antagonism, and fear the organizing principles of their entire effort.

[W]hat signal will other countries with more tribal histories -– a Germany, a France, a Turkey, a Sweden -- take from America’s failure to live up to its ideals?

That is the big question framing the 2016 election, not only for the U.S. but for the world.  We know that the world is watching: Social media statistics for 2015 show that the U.S. election was the most followed news story on the planet -- and it wasn’t even officially the election year yet.

He [Obama] added that this was “not a matter of political correctness,” but based on an understanding that the U.S. as a society and an economy thrives and is durable because of “diversity and openness.”
To reject those principles, he said, “betrays who we are as a country.”

That is the central issue in the 2016 campaign, and the world is waiting to see what we do.
No one in 1930 - including the millions of Jews and others who ended up losing their lives - could have believed that Germany, a civilized nation, would descend into the barbarism and genocide that followed Hitler's rise to power.  Are we seeing America poised at a similar crossroads?  If so, I sincerely hope that Americans do not repeat the mistakes made by Germans 80+ years ago.

The GOP Debate Circus - South Carolina Installment

The main stage GOP debate began in South Carolina at 9PM EST via Business Network and so far the tone of circus - debate gives it too much dignity - is aimed completely at pandering to Teabaghistan and the most extreme elements of the ignorance and bigotry embracing GOP base.   To listen to Marco Rubio, one would think that Barack Obama has led a communist coup against America.  Indeed, to listen to Rubio et al, I feel as if I have been living in some alternate universe from the imaginary world in which the GOP contenders and Teabagistan have been inhabiting.  The irony is that the economic malaise of the middle class has nothing to do with Barack Obama and everything to do with the failed policies of the GOP under the misrule of Obama's brain dead predecessor.

As for Donald Trump, he slickly finessed the GOP establishment vetted comments of  Nikki Haley about the siren song of the angriest voices and turned his anger, hate and bigotry into an applause point for the knuckle dragging audience.  Trump may be a Hitler like demagogue, but he definitely learned how to pander to those with little education and low IQ's during his years on reality TV.

Up to now in the debate, only John Kasich sounds as if he is half sane and not totally willing to prostitute himself to the foulest elements of the GOP base and America.   My further thoughts will be share in a post in the morning.

Part of me still finds it hard to realize just how ugly and how extreme the Republican Party has become. It bears no resemblance to the party in which I was an activist for the better part of a decade. I do not know how anyone morally decent, sane and/or educated can be a Republican nowadays.  My main hope is that if the GOP nominates a far right extremist, as happened in Virginia in 2013, the GOP slate will lose across the board and perhaps the much needed death of the GOP in its present form will accelerate to finality.

Thursday Morning Male Beauty

Ted Cruz Failed to Disclose $1 Million in Campaign Loans

The ever slimy (and in my view, highly dishonest) Ted Cruz has had another welcomed wrinkle thrown into his campaign: a $1 million Wall Street loan that was not disclosed as required by election laws.  Cruz is ludicrously claiming that the failure to disclose the loan was "inadvertent."   As if a $1 million dollars is so easily over looked.  Making the disclosure failure all the more suspect is the way in which Cruz has railed against Wall Street and big banks even as his wife holds a position as managing member of Goldman Sachs.  In short, the Cruz excuses lack any credibility and the goal seems to have been to hide Cruz's Wall Street ties.  Here are highlights from the New York Times:

As Ted Cruz tells it, the story of how he financed his upstart campaign for the United States Senate four years ago is an endearing example of loyalty and shared sacrifice between a married couple.
“Sweetheart, I’d like us to liquidate our entire net worth, liquid net worth, and put it into the campaign,” he says he told his wife, Heidi, who readily agreed.

But the couple’s decision to pump more than $1 million into Mr. Cruz’s successful Tea Party-darling Senate bid in Texas was made easier by a large loan from Goldman Sachs, where Mrs. Cruz works. That loan was not disclosed in campaign finance reports.
Those reports show that in the critical weeks before the May 2012 Republican primary, Mr. Cruz — currently a leading contender for his party’s presidential nomination — put “personal funds” totaling $960,000 into his Senate campaign. Two months later, shortly before a scheduled runoff election, he added more, bringing the total to $1.2 million — “which is all we had saved,” as Mr. Cruz described it in an interview with The New York Times several years ago.

A review of personal financial disclosures that Mr. Cruz filed later with the Senate does not find a liquidation of assets that would have accounted for all the money he spent on his campaign. 

What it does show, however, is that in the first half of 2012, Ted and Heidi Cruz obtained the low-interest loan from Goldman Sachs, as well as another one from Citibank. The loans totaled as much as $750,000 and eventually increased to a maximum of $1 million before being paid down later that year. There is no explanation of their purpose.

Neither loan appears in reports the Ted Cruz for Senate Committee filed with the Federal Election Commission, in which candidates are required to disclose the source of money they borrow to finance their campaigns.

Kenneth A. Gross, a former election commission lawyer who specializes in campaign finance law, said that listing a bank loan in an annual Senate ethics report — which deals only with personal finances — would not satisfy the requirement that it be promptly disclosed to election officials during a campaign.

“They’re two different reporting regimes,” he said. “The law says if you get a loan for the purpose of funding a campaign, you have to show the original source of the loan, the terms of the loan and you even have to provide a copy of the loan document to the Federal Election Commission.”

All told, the value of their cash and securities in 2012 saw a net increase of as much as $400,000 — even as the Cruzes were supposedly liquidating everything to finance Mr. Cruz’s Senate campaign.

The biggest change in the Cruzes’ finances in 2012 was the addition of the two bank loans, each valued at $250,000 to $500,000, during the first half of the year.

The federal guide to campaign finance reporting for congressional candidates makes it clear that if the original source of money for a candidate’s personal loan was a margin loan or a line of credit, it must be disclosed.

“Bank loans to candidates and loans derived from advances on a candidate’s brokerage accounts, credit cards, home equity line of credit, or other lines of credit obtained for use in connection with his or her campaign must be reported by the committee,” according to the guide.

I suspect that Donald Trump will rightly have a field day with this new disclosure of Cruz's seemingly deliberate dishonesty and failure to disclose his Wall Street loans.  

Nine Anti-Gay GOP Bills Filed in Virginia General Assembly

It seems that the Virginia Republican Party can never move beyond "god, guns and gays" in terms of its legislative agenda.  Virginia's real problems and needs go unaddressed by a party that is increasingly sectarian and under the thumb of the most extreme and hate-filled of the self anointed "godly folk."  Lurking behind this extremism I'm sure are the gay obsessed haters at The Family Foundation - an organization that the Southern Poverty Law Center needs to certify as a hate group so as to end the pretense that TFF is a "family values" organization.  A lengthy piece in Metro Weekly looks at the anti-gay animus on display in the GOP filed bills that seek to denigrate LGBT Virginians and grant special rights to Christofascists.  Here are article highlights:

Marriage equality may be the law of the land following last year’s Supreme Court decision, but anti-gay lawmakers in the Virginia General Assembly are hitting back with a vengeance against both same-sex marriage and other LGBT rights.

With Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) in the governor’s mansion, LGBT advocates have a bulwark against any hostile measures that manage to pass the General Assembly. And, following the defeat of anti-gay Del. Johnny Joannou (D-Portsmouth, Norfolk) in last year’s Democratic primary, the House of Delegates has enough Democrats and fair-minded Republicans to sustain a gubernatorial veto.

However, Equality Virginia and its allies in the commonwealth are watching closely to see whether nine anti-gay and anti-transgender bills gain enough steam to pass, or whether Republican leadership of either chamber will scuttle them before they gain traction.

The one that is expected to get the most support from House leadership is a bill introduced by Del. Todd Gilbert (R-Woodstock, Front Royal, Luray), which would create the “Government Nondiscrimination Act.” That act would prevent the government from taking “discriminatory” or retaliatory action against a person or business who has a “sincerely held religious belief” that opposes homosexuality, same-sex marriage, or denies the existence of transgender individuals.

Longtime anti-LGBT opponent Del. Bob Marshall (R-Manassas, Manassas Park, Sudley, Bull Run) is back again this session with two bills. The first would essentially nullify any pro-LGBT federal policy, rule or regulation that was passed after Jan. 1, 2012, at least for determining what constitutes discrimination under the Virginia Human Rights Act.

The second Marshall bill would explicitly prohibit any school board or political subdivision within the commonwealth from adopting any pro-LGBT nondiscrimination ordinance or policy. Under Dillon’s Rule, such actions are only implicitly banned, though Attorney General Mark Herring has said in an opinion that Dillon’s Rule does not apply to local school boards.

Delegates Dave LaRock (R-Hamilton, Lovettsville, Berryville) and Mark Cole (R-Fredericksburg, Hartwood, Remington) have each introduced two bills targeting Virginia’s transgender community. LaRock’s first bill would prohibit the commonwealth and any of its subdivisions from adopting any policy that treats gender identity discrimination as equivalent to sex discrimination, regardless of any federal ruling on the issue. The other would prohibit anyone from amending their birth certificate without a court order, and then only if the initial sex designation was wrong due to a typographical error.

Cole introduced another bill on the same topic adopting a more stringent approach. Under that legislation, every restroom in the commonwealth — including in schools — would be designated for use by people according to their “biological sex” only, and eliminates the list of alternative provisions that could have been provided to transgender students from his first version of the bill.

Lastly, Sen. Bill Carrico (R-Galax, Abingdon, Bristol, Gate City) has introduced two bills attacking same-sex marriage in the commonwealth. Even though licenses for same-sex marriages have been issued, without any problem, for more than a year, one of Carrico’s bills would allow county clerks to pull a “Kim Davis” and refuse to issue any licenses that violate their religious beliefs. 

Carrico’s other anti-gay bill has two parts: providing an already existing First Amendment protection to churches and religious ministers to allow them to refuse to marry same-sex couples; and also a “conscience clause” exemption allowing individuals, businesses or places of public accommodations to cite religious objections when denying services to LGBT people, without the fear of a lawsuit.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

More Wednesday Male Beauty

The Double Standards/Hypocrisy of the Christian Right

I have not received any death threats in a while from members of the "godly Christian" crowd - perhaps because I have made in more difficult to leave anonymous comments on blog posts - but outside of Islamic extremists, there are few people who adherent more to double standards and exhibit hypocrisy more than those I refer to as Christofascists.  Despite all of their disingenuous claims of piety and self-centered than the godly folk.  feigned support for "Christian values," there are few who are more selfish.   Nowhere do we see this more than in the context of  alleged concerns over freedom of religion or "religious freedom" as they like to term it.  A piece in Huffington Post looks at this hypocrisy.  Here are highlights:

When a gay person is fired for being gay, we hear from conservatives that "it's freedom of association." However, when a fundamentalist Christian is fired with cause, for misusing their workplace as a pulpit for anti-gay hate, the same conservatives drop the "freedom of association" argument and pick-up the sledgehammer of "freedom of religion." 

Apparently "freedom of religion" is so widely interpreted as to justify absolutely anything a fundamentalist Christian does. 

There is a double-standard the Religious Right indulges frequently. It's a right when they do it, it's persecution when you do. 

Of course, the Religious Right long have been masters of hypocrisy and double standards.

The newest such hypocrisy is the case of Dr. Paul Church who worked at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. The urologist thought it wise to use the hospital's internet system to post anti-gay rants to all staff. 

Church tried to pretend his concerns were "medical" in nature because the gay "lifestyle" is deadly. Oddly, he accompanied this with quotes from the Bible -- hardly a source of medical wisdom. 

He was told sending such material to other staff violated hospital harassment policies and to stop.

Of course, he refused and posted several more anti-gay tirades referencing the Bible. His lawyers, from the anti-gay group Liberty Counsel, claimed that Church "made known his objections in a medical capacity" and was thus free to do what he did. The medical textbook he used... oh, wait, it wasn't a medical textbook, it was the Bible.

After repeatedly violating hospital policy, Church's right to practice at the hospital was revoked.
Of course, Religious Right sites were apoplectic about the decision.

The Religious Right has never advocated freedom of association, or liberty. Such rights, in their minds, are exclusive reserves guaranteed to fundamentalists alone while denied to others, particularly "godless sodomites."

One of the more blatant examples of this "rights-for-me-not-for-thee" view was the attempt by Republican legislators in Washington state. They filed a bill to provide exemptions to discrimination laws for those with "sincerely held religious beliefs."

So, what was the purpose of the bill? It would legalize anti-gay discrimination for Christians, but would prevent discrimination against Christians. It would not apply to race, religion or disability, but gays are not a protected class in federal law. They were the target of the bill. It was legislation meant to grant Christians the right to discriminate against gays, but God forbid, gays were never to have a reciprocal right regarding Christians.

Fundamentalist Christians demanded the right to discriminate as they wish, while simultaneously retaining the privilege of being protected from discrimination. Yet, they accuse the LGBT community of demanding "special privileges." . . . another self-serving attempt by fundamentalist to twist the law to grant special privileges to themselves, and only to themselves -- all others be damned, literally.

As I frequently note, far right Christians are NOT nice or decent people.  Their main stock in trade is hate, division, and hypocrisy.  The sooner the rest of society recognizes this reality and says a loud "no" to their quest to secure special rights to themselves - or better yet, makes them social outcasts -  the better off the nation will be.

Wednesday Morning Male Beauty

GOP Establishment Pressures Bush to "Not Elect Donald Trump"

Remember when the so-called GOP establishment viewed Jeb Bush as the party savior who would sweep in and save the GOP by securing the presidential nomination?  Perhaps it was always a delusional fantasy, but now, as Politico reports, some on the GOP establishment are calling on Jeb Bush to refrain from attacking Marco Rubio and thereby handing the GOP nomination to demagogue extraordinaire, Donald Trump.  Personally, I could never see Jebbie as an attractive candidate, especially given the reality that many of the nation's current problems stem back to the rule of his brother, the Chimperator.  Here are excerpts from Politico on the new infighting: 

[I]ncreasingly, establishment Republicans worry that Bush’s campaign is little more than an ego trip. With the former Florida governor now sitting stagnant in the middle of the pack and his super PAC ratcheting up its attacks on Marco Rubio, a growing number of Republican centrists are coming to view Bush’s campaign as a distraction — one that could hurt their ability to keep the nomination away from Donald Trump and Ted Cruz.

On Monday, the Right to Rise PAC hit the early state airwaves with an ad skewering Bush’s former protégé for flipping on immigration—an issue on which he and Bush actually agree. And on Tuesday, the group unleashed a second ad that portrayed Rubio as a flip-flopper and mocked his heeled boots.
[T]o those who no longer believe Bush can win the Republican nomination, his [Bush's] super PAC, with tens of millions of dollars left to spend, looks more like a wrecking ball meant to lay waste to the one contender many Bush donors see as the last remaining mainstream alternative to Trump or Cruz.

“This is something Jeb Bush has to decide. Does he want his legacy to be that he elected Donald Trump or Ted Cruz?” said Stuart Stevens, the GOP strategist who ran Mitt Romney’s 2012 campaign. “He can’t control that super PAC but he ought to call on the super PAC to stop and stop attacking people with whom he mostly agrees.”

“This thing has been mismanaged and screwed up since the beginning,” said a Jeb Bush backer in the Washington area who worked in both previous Bush administrations. “It’s gotten to the point where the old-timers are saying ‘it’s really sad.’ How as presumptive leader with $100 million in the bank did you get yourself in a box where you have to attack Rubio and Christie to win your lane?”

“The chances of those ads hurting Rubio are a lot stronger than the odds of them helping Jeb,” said Curt Anderson, a Republican strategist who ran Bobby Jindal’s campaign last year. “The Right to Rise folks don’t want to end the campaign with $30 million in the bank and they probably realize the positive spots haven’t helped Jeb at all.

“To stay in a race and spend millions and millions of dollars attacking other candidates you basically agree with, that starts to look like spite,” said Stevens. “It’s one thing to lose a race and have run a good race. It’s another thing to lose and have as your legacy that you attempted to destroy everybody else who was most like you. That’s a very negative legacy and it’s a long lasting one, and that’s the question that should be paramount in the Bush organization.”

“People around him have just reached a point of pure anger,” said one Florida politico who is supporting Rubio. “This is purely just hatred amongst his staff to go after Marco out of jealousy, spite, you name it—because everyone knows the one person who can win is Marco and yet they’re doing everything they can to hurt him. They still can’t get over him having the audacity to run.”

[S]ome are coming to the conclusion that Jeb can’t win and they’re worried his super PAC is going to ensure that no other establishment candidate does either. Everyone is looking at [Right to Rise director Mike] Murphy and saying, what are you going to do with our money? Something useful that helps the party or are you going to blow it all up?”

Meanwhile, of course, the establishment members continue to concede that they are the ones who empowered the lunatics of the GOP by shortsightedly  embracing Christofascists, white supremacists, and other ugly elements that morphed into the so-called Tea Party.