Saturday, November 24, 2007

Gay Foes Protest Queen At Commonwealth Summit In Uganda

I find it ironic that countries in Africa that have hellish living conditions, inadequate education, high disease rates and a host of other extremely serious problems are among the countries most obsessed with anti-gay legislation. Just like the Christianists in this country, they waste much needed time, money, effort and resources oppressing the LGBT community instead of addressing far more dire problems. I just do not get the mentality. Part of me - the mean spirited part perhaps - wants to respond by urging western countries to leave these backward homophobic countries to their own fates. Note that the delusional Chimperator has been helping to fund anti-gay groups. He is truly an embarassment to this country. Here are some highlights from's coverage (

(Kampala) Dozens of anti-gay activists from churches and mosques throughout Uganda staged a noisy demonstration as the Queen opened the summit of the Commonwealth heads of government in Kampala. The protestors accused Western countries of spreading homosexuality throughout Africa.

Earlier an international pro-gay group called Commonwealth People’s Forum on LGBT Rights, released a list of recommendations to the Commonwealth leaders. The recommendations included abolition of sodomy laws in countries such as Uganda and India, ending state sanctioned brutality against sexual minorities, and the recognition of same-sex relationships. The manifesto was denounced by Ugandan cabinet minister Nsaba Buturo. “Homosexuality has no room in this country,” he said.

Uganda outlaws male homosexuality, under laws originally imposed by the British colonizers in the nineteenth century. Offenders can face a maximum sentence of life imprisonment. Last month Uganda's leading Muslim cleric proposed to President Yoweri Museveni that gays be rounded up and marooned on an island in Lake Victoria until they die. Sheikh Ramathan Shaban Mubajje told reporters of his plan following the much publicized meeting with Museveni. "I asked President Museveni to get us an island on Lake Victoria and we take these homosexuals and they die out there," Mubajje told reporters.

The International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission said last month that it had uncovered evidence that the Bush administration has funded groups in Uganda that actively promote violence and discrimination against lesbians and gay men. (story) Among those receiving money, according to US government records, is Uganda Muslim Tabliqh, and the Makerere University Community Church.

More Saturday Male Beauty

New Wave of Mortgage Failures Could Create a Nightmare Economic Scenario

The news on the U. S. housing market front just seems to get worse by the day. This story ( takes a look at precisely how bad things may yet become in some real estate markets that are already reeling from a drop in sales combined with ballooning foreclosure rates. From what I see in the local market and what is happening to both homeowners and real estate investors, I believe that things in fact will get very bad. Significant drops in resale prices could leave many homeowners with little option but to walk away from their homes saddled with mortgage balances in excess of their decreased market value. Here are some highlights:
Soaring mortgage default rates this year already have shaken major financial institutions and the fallout from more of them, some experts say, could spread from those already battered banks into the general economy. The worst-case scenario is anyone's guess, but some believe it could become very bad.

"We haven't faced a downturn like this since the Depression," said Bill Gross, chief investment officer of PIMCO, the world's biggest bond fund. He's not suggesting anything like those terrible times -- but, as an expert on the global credit crisis, he speaks with authority. "Its effect on consumption, its effect on future lending attitudes, could bring us close to the zero line in terms of economic growth," he said. "It does keep me up at night."

Some 2 million homeowners hold $600 billion of subprime adjustable-rate mortgage loans, known as ARMs, that are due to reset at higher amounts during the next eight months. Subprime loans are those made to people with poor credit. Not all these mortgages are in trouble, but homeowners who default or fall behind on payments could cause an economic shock of a type never seen before. Some of the nation's leading economic minds lay out a scenario that is frightening. Not only would the next wave of the mortgage crisis force people out of their homes, it might also spiral throughout the economy.
The already severe housing slump would be exacerbated by even more empty homes on the market, causing prices to plunge by up to 40 percent in once-hot real estate spots such as California, Nevada and Florida. Builders like Chicago's Neumann Homes, which filed for bankruptcy protection this month, could go under. The top 10 global banks, which repackage loans into exotic securities such as collateralized debt obligations, or CDOs, could suffer far greater write-offs than the $75 billion already taken this year.

Massive job losses would curtail consumer spending that makes up two-thirds of the economy. The Labor Department estimates almost 100,000 financial services jobs related to credit and lending in the U.S. have already been lost, from local bank loan officers to traders dealing in mortgage-backed securities. Thousands of Americans who work in the housing industry could find themselves on the dole. And there's no telling how that would affect car dealers, retailers and others dependent on consumer paychecks.
Meanwhile, the number of U.S. homes in foreclosure is expected to keep soaring after more than doubling during the third quarter from a year earlier, to 446,726 homes nationwide, according to Irvine, Calif.-based RealtyTrac Inc. That's one foreclosure filing for every 196 households in the nation, a 34 percent jump from just three months earlier. Such data suggests more Americans could lose their homes than ever before, and those in peril are people who never thought they'd welsh on a mortgage payment. They come from a broad swath -- teachers, pharmacists, and civil servants who were lured by enticing mortgage terms.

A Somber View of George W. Bush's America

This sad story ( from the New York Times looks at the sad reality of many elderly in this country. As the income gap between rich and poor expands, many are left to scape by as best they can. Even more sad is the fact that rather than directing money and efforts to help such people, "Christian" organization spend immense sums fighting gay marriage, abortion and other "threats." It has always struck me as ironic that those who are loudest in opposing abortion seem to be missing in action when it comes to assisting poor children (e.g., they support the Chimperator 's veto of SCIP health insurance coverage program) or the elderly. They insist that people be born into the world, but then leave them desperate and suffering. I do not get it. Here are some story highlights:

MILBRIDGE, Me. — They have worked since their teens in backbreaking seasonal jobs, extracting resources from the sea and the forest. Their yards are filled with peeling boats and broken lobster traps. In sagging wood homes and aged trailers scattered across Washington County, many of Maine’s poorest and oldest shiver too much in the winter, eat far more biscuits and beans than meat and cannot afford the weekly bingo game at the V.F.W. hall. [T]housands of elderly residents live on crushingly meager incomes. This winter promises to be especially chilling, with fuel oil prices rising and fuel assistance expected to decline.

Viola Brooks, 81, [pictured above] worked in fish and blueberry factories while her husband worked in textile and logging jobs. Now widowed, she gets $588 a month from Social Security, supplemented by $112 in food stamps and one-time fuel aid of more than $500 for the winter. But this year, that fuel aid will not fill a single tank. The average house cost $1,800 to heat last year, and minimal comfort this winter may require closer to $3,000; trailers will require somewhat less. Electricity and rent already take up most of Ms. Brooks’s income.

Just think what could have been done for American citizens and/or the nation's infrastructure with the $1 Trillion that has been wasted in Iraq. There are times I am ashamed and embarrassed to be an American.

Saturday Male Beauty

Illegal Immigrant Rescues Boy in Desert

The anti-immigrant lobby (read most of the Christian Right organizations) and wingnut members of the GOP continually depict illegal immigrants - especially those with brown skin - as a scourge of the country. Therefore, it is nice to see a story where one of these "enemies" acts as the good Samaritan and shows up the hate-filled Christianists. I am constantly amazed how those who claim to be Christian seem to hate and despise everyone the least bit different from themselves. Here are some highlights from Yahoo News (;_ylt=AlrS0wlk8mv83eL7LP2Ayq9vzwcF):
PHOENIX - A 9-year-old boy looking for help after his mother crashed their van in the southern Arizona desert was rescued by a man entering the U.S. illegally, who stayed with him until help arrived the next day, an official said.
The 45-year-old woman, who eventually died while awaiting help, had been driving on a U.S. Forest Service road in a remote area just north of the Mexican border when she lost control of her van on a curve on Thanksgiving, Santa Cruz County Sheriff Tony Estrada said. The van vaulted into a canyon and landed 300 feet from the road, he said. The woman, from Rimrock, north of Phoenix, survived the impact but was pinned inside, Estrada said.

Her son, unhurt but disoriented, crawled out to get help and was found about two hours later by Jesus Manuel Cordova, 26, of Magdalena de Kino in the northern Mexican state of Sonora. Unable to pull the mother out, he comforted the boy while they waited for help. "For a 9-year-old it has to be completely traumatic, being out there alone with his mother dead," Estrada said. "Fortunately for the kid, (Cordova) was there. That was his angel." Cordova was taken into custody by Border Patrol agents, who were the first to respond to the call for help. He had been trying to walk into the U.S. when he came across the boy.

John Howard Concedes Defeat - Update

I suspect my friend Magic Bellybutton has been out celebrating with the news of former Prime Minister Howard's concession (see her e-mail to me set out below). I cannot say that I blame her. Howard has consistently struck me as a Chimperator, Jr., and he most certainly has Christianist tendencies and is not gay friendly either. Here are a few highlights from the Sydney Morning Herald's coverage (
Prime Minister John Howard has rung Labor leader Kevin Rudd to concede defeat after voters deserted his 11-year government in tonight's federal election. Mr Howard then appeared at Sydney's Wentworth Hotel to address Liberal Party faithful. "My fellow Australians, a few moments ago I telephoned Mr Kevin Rudd and I congratulated him and the Australian Labor Party on an emphatic victory,'' Mr Howard told the crowd. Mr Howard said he harboured no ill will to Mr Rudd. "I wish him well in the task that he will undertake,'' Mr Howard said.
The prime minister also faces a possible loss of his Bennelong seat in Sydney with Labor's celebrity candidate Maxine McKew achieving a 6 per cent swing against him with more than a third of the vote counted. Ms McKew arrived to a rapturous welcome to her election function in Bennelong, with supporters screaming and cheering as she fought her way through the crowd to the stage. But despite a strong swing to Labor, she declined to claim victory over Mr Howard, who has held the seat since 1974.

From The Age (, I especially like these remarks by Rudd (would that the Chimperator had ever attempted to be a president for all Americans instead of ruling only for the Christianists who seek to trample the Constitution and divide the country):

"I say to all of those who have voted for us today, to each and every one of them that I will be a Prime Minister for all Australians. "A Prime Minister for indigenous Australians. "Australians who have been born here and Australians who have come here from afar and have contributed to the great diversity in Australia. "A Prime Minister for our cities and our towns, a Prime Minister for rural Australia, which right now is experiencing the worst drought our country has had. "For our men and women serving in uniform in difficult environments around the world. "For all our states and territories in this great Commonwealth of ours, I will be a Prime Minister for all Australians."
Here's the comments of one happy Labor voter: Howard is no more!!!!!!! Watch his concession speech at the restaurant!!!!! WOO HOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Hope this bodes well for you guys next year!

Friday, November 23, 2007

More Friday Male Beauty

Faith in America's Town Hall Meeting

A recent town hall meeting in Greenville, South Carolina, was the site of a debate between Methodist minister and Faith In America founder Jimmy Creech, and Evangelical minister Rev. Kevin Boling of Mountain Bridge Bible Fellowship. Faith In America's "Call to Courage" campaign was implemented on the heels of the May, 2007, death of Sean Kennedy who died from injuries sustained after being assaulted for being gay. According to Creech, religion-based bigotry has historically been, and continues to be, used to justify social inequity and individual attacks such as the one that felled Kennedy. Naturally, the knuckle draggers like Kevin Boling use the tired old excuse of "religious beliefs" in order to discriminate against those who are different, just as in the past the same refrain was used to suppress blacks and women, ban inter-racial marriage and other forms of bias. Here are some highlight's of Faith in America's positions:

The world’s great religious traditions practiced within the United States of America emphasize the love of neighbor as well as the love of God. Compassion, justice, freedom, and respect for the dignity of all people are their most authentic and noble expressions. Religion-based bigotry is hostile and discriminatory attitudes, opinions and behavior toward a group or class of people motivated by fear and ignorance, based on and justified by religious teachings.

Religious teachings that justify bigotry must not be sanctioned by our religious communities. Rather, they must be publicly exposed and denounced. This expression of religion-based bigotry against lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people has historical precedents, including violence, intolerance, and inequity toward women, people of color, and people with religious traditions different from those of the majority, such as Jews, Roman Catholics, Mormons and others. These precedents are recognized today by the mainstream of America to have been misguided, wrong and evil. To end the persecution of gay people engendered by religion-based bigotry, its common link with these historical precedents must be acknowledged.

Sydney Drag Queens Are all Dressed up with Nowhere to Go.

I came across this article ( while checking the Sydney Morning Herald to see the latest on the Australian elections. My blogger friend, Magic Bellybutton, is likely holding a vigil awaiting the results. I was struck by the fact that the chances of seeing such an article running in my local paper would be remote at best. There are certainly local drag queens in the Hampton Roads area, but one never sees the Virginian Pilot doing stories on them. No doubt Pat Robertson would blow a gasket. Here's some highlights on the situation in Sydney:

THE drag queens of Sydney are all dressed up with nowhere to go. "There are enough performers out there. There just aren't enough venues," said Mitzi Macintosh, a 13-year veteran of the drag scene. "And without a flower bed, nothing can bloom." The closure of two of Sydney's most famous drag venues has many performers facing the prospect of a trip to Centrelink.

Erskineville's Imperial Hotel is shut until next year for renovations and King Street's Newtown Hotel closed dramatically early this month after relations between the building owners and the licensee broke down over a lease agreement. Other stalwarts of the scene, such as Oxford Street's Midnight Shift and Stonewall and Arq in Flinders Street, are paring back their drag show offerings and relying increasingly on unpaid novices performing at open-mic nights.

Friday Male Beauty

The Carnage on Wall Street is All About the Great Housing Slump.

Paul Krugman has a good column in the New York Times ( that looks at how the country arrived where it is in terms of the housing market/mortgage industry melt down. He likewise focuses on the fact that many of those responsible are getting a free pass in terms of NOT being held accountable. Here are some highlights:

“What were they smoking?” asks the cover of the current issue of Fortune magazine. Underneath the headline are photos of recently deposed Wall Street titans, captioned with the staggering sums they managed to lose. The answer, of course, is that they were high on the usual drug — greed. And they were encouraged to make socially destructive decisions by a system of executive compensation that should have been reformed after the Enron and WorldCom scandals, but wasn’t.

In a direct sense, the carnage on Wall Street is all about the great housing slump. This slump was both predictable and predicted. “These days,” I wrote in August 2005, “Americans make a living selling each other houses, paid for with money borrowed from the Chinese. Somehow, that doesn’t seem like a sustainable lifestyle.” It wasn’t. But even as the danger signs multiplied, Wall Street piled into bonds backed by dubious home mortgages. Most of the bad investments now shaking the financial world seem to have been made in the final frenzy of the housing bubble, or even after the bubble began to deflate.

Now the bill is coming due, and almost everyone — that is, almost everyone except the people responsible — is having to pay. The losses suffered by shareholders in Merrill, Citigroup, Bear Stearns and so on are the least of it. Far more important in human terms are the hundreds of thousands if not millions of American families lured into mortgage deals they didn’t understand, who now face sharp increases in their payments — and, in many cases, the loss of their houses — as their interest rates reset. And then there’s the collateral damage to the economy.

[B]ad housing investments are crippling financial institutions that play a crucial role in providing credit, by wiping out much of their capital. In a recent report, Goldman Sachs suggested that housing-related losses could force banks and other players to cut lending by as much as $2 trillion — enough to trigger a nasty recession, if it happens quickly. How did things go so wrong?

Part of the answer is that people who should have been alert to the dangers, and taken precautionary measures, instead blithely assured Americans that everything was fine, and even encouraged them to take out risky mortgages. Yes, Alan Greenspan, that means you. But another part of the answer lies in what hasn’t happened to the men on that Fortune cover — namely, they haven’t been forced to give back any of the huge paychecks they received before the folly of their decisions became apparent.

The point is that the subprime crisis and the credit crunch are, in an important sense, the result of our failure to effectively reform corporate governance after the last set of scandals.

The American Dream is Fading for Many

On Tuesday, November 13, 2007 the Economic Mobility Project released a set of three new reports on the economic mobility of families (The reports can be found here: "Doing better" than one's parents has long been a key element of the American Dream. The results of the project have some very disquieting aspects. Fully 2/3's of the families are treading water financially or are not maintaining the same buying power enjoyed by their parents. Welcome to George W. Bush's America. Here are some highlights:
Contrary to American beliefs about equality of opportunity, a child’s economic position is heavily influenced by that of his or her parents.

* Forty-two percent of children born to parents in the bottom fifth of the income distribution remain in the bottom, while 39 percent born to parents in the top fifth remain at the top.

* Children of middle-income parents have a near-equal likelihood of ending up in any other quintile, presenting equal promise and peril for those born to middle-class parents.

* The “rags to riches” story is much more common in Hollywood than on Main Street. Only 6 percent of children born to parents with family income at the very bottom move to the very top.

Americans have higher incomes than a prior generation, but that does not necessarily mean they are moving up the economic ladder compared to their parents or to other families. Only one third are what the report calls “upwardly mobile.” Another one third is “downwardly mobile.”

The report classifies Americans into the following four categories, based on their change in income levels and their movement across five equal sized income groups (or quintiles) that range from bottom to top of the income distribution:

“Upwardly mobile”—One third (34 percent) of Americans are “upwardly mobile,” surpassing their parents’ income and their parents’ economic ranking (by one or more quintiles). This means that of the 67 percent of families who make more money than their parents, only half move ahead enough to place them in a new position on the income ladder.

“Riding the tide”—About one quarter (27 percent) are “riding the tide”, making more than their parents’, but remaining in the same economic position as their parents.

“Falling despite the tide”—A small group of individuals (5 percent) surpass their parents’ income, yet fall behind their parents in economic standing, and are “falling despite the tide.”

Downwardly mobile”—Another third of Americans (33 percent) are “downwardly mobile,” faking less than their parents and failing to rise above their parents’ economic position.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

More Thursday Male Beauty

Will Bad Mortgages Hurt the GOP?

If, as I suspect it will, 2008 turns out to be a very bad year for housing and the number of widespread foreclosures continues to increase, I suspect that the GOP will be hurt. As Time magazine reports here (,8599,1685301,00.html many in the GOP has been very resistant to passing regulations that might have avoided some of the worse subprime loans. Since the housing market hits directly at voters' sense of security, the Democrats need to focus on this issue as one of the big stories of the campaign cycle. Here are some story highlights:

As the subprime mortgage crisis has worsened and Democrats have moved to pass legislation to the address the problem, they are accusing their G.O.P. counterparts of doing too little to prevent the predicament. The issue could become a potent campaign issue in '08, as the Democrats have targeted several vulnerable G.O.P. members, including Walberg, who voted against last week's bill.

The Republicans "were asleep at the wheel while this problem was heading straight at us," said Congressman Chris Van Hollen, head of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, which works to elect Democratic candidates. "This is affecting people across the country in Michigan, in Florida, in Ohio — all important swing states. This will be part of the debate about the economy overall. And people who ignore it do so at their own peril."

Democrats accuse the Administration and Republican-led Congress of ignoring the problem until it was too late. "This was the result of the Republican philosophy that you never have regulation, so yes, they could've done something," said House financial Services Committee Chairman Barney Frank. Frank blames Republican leaders for killing a bipartisan measure to tighten regulations on subprime lending in 2005.

Democrats have already ramped up the pressure on Walberg and his colleagues. "Even as Americans go deeper and deeper into debt with mortgages from shady lenders, Representative Tim Walberg is protecting predatory lenders at the expense of America's middle-class families," said Jennifer Crider, communications director for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. "Representative Walberg clearly values his special interest pals more than middle-class Americans struggling to keep their homes."

After Walberg's narrow victory in 2006 (a race in which he outspent his opponent by $1.2 million to $46,000), the Democrats this time have recruited a top-tier opponent: State Senator Mark Shauer, who has championed the predatory lending issue in the state legislature, co-sponsoring legislation that would tighten oversight on loan officers and support programs to help homeowners refinance their mortgages. Schauer plans on campaigning on the issue and accuses Walberg of turning his back on people in need. "The people in Michigan are struggling, and we're doing what we can to help at the state level," Schauer said. "But Washington and my opponent need to step up."

Thursday Male Beauty

Psychiatrists Warn Church of England to Reject Reparative Therapy

Ex-Gay Watch is reporting ( that the Royal College of Psychiatrists has warned Anglicans in the United Kingdom that therapy to change sexual orientation is based on unproven methods and can cause severe damage. Having spent a great deal of time studying the so-called "cure" programs and reports on their effectiveness (or more precisely, the lack of any such effectiveness), one would think that this would be a no-brainer. Sadly, Christianists never care about what is medically true. It's all about pushing their agenda to force everyone to live by their religious views. Here are highlights from Ex-Gay Watch:
The report, which also addresses the nature of gay and lesbian relationships, the origins of homosexuality, and the mental health of gay men and women, concludes by urging Anglicans to accept gays and lesbians fully into the life of the Church:

[There] is no scientific or rational reason for treating LGB people any differently to their heterosexual counterparts. People are happiest and are likely to reach their potential when they are able to integrate the various aspects of the self as fully as possible. Socially inclusive, nonjudgemental attitudes to LGB people who attend places of worship or who are religious leaders themselves will have positive consequences for LGB people as well as for the wider society in which they live.
The full report to the Church of England can be viewed here:

Thanksgiving Day Thoughts

The last year has been pretty momentous for me - the horrors of the protracted divorce war, the decline of a committed relationship, work stresses and the occasional tribulations of living in a place far from the bright center of the gay universe. Yet, today I am finding myself pretty thankful for what I have. The divorce is complete, my son came through his recent bicycle accident largely unscathed compared to what might have been, things have begun to thaw with my older two children, and despite a horrid economy and real estate market, the law firm has stayed afloat to date (as the only openly gay attorney in the area, I REALLY want to have the firm be successful to spite some of the homophobes in the larger firms).
Today I will be spending Thanksgiving dinner with my younger sister's family, some of her in-laws and at least my youngest daughter. My contribution: wine, champagne and pecan and apple pies I baked from scratch. On my way over, I will be picking up my late father's 92 year old sister who is feisty as ever and quite a character - think Hyacinth on "Keeping Up Appearances" feisty. My nephew from Florida is in town too - his mother was my sister that I lost in 2001. It should be a nice day. Meanwhile, the rest of my siblings will be having dinner at my other sister's home in Charlottesville.
I hope all of my readers and cyberspace family members in the USA have a wonderful holiday and happiness today. Thanks for being there for me with your comments, support and friendships.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Final Wednesday Male Beauty

Stocks Fall Amid Economic Jitters

On the eve of the onset of the biggest consumer shopping period of the year, the economic front does not look cheery. Not surprisingly, with all the bad economic news and high oil prices, retailers are worried and rightfully so. In my view, things are going to get much worse before they get better. Note how the housing market free fall and high energy costs combine to play through out the news. Here are some highlights form a mew Washington Post story ( that some some of the unpleasant economic news:

NEW YORK -- Wall Street resumed its slide Wednesday as unease about the wilting mortgage market and the broader economy triggered selling ahead of the unofficial start of the holiday shopping season. The Standard & Poor's 500 index and the Dow Jones industrial average each fell by more than 1.5 percent, with the Dow giving up more than 210 points. The decline in the S&P 500 left the index in negative territory for the year. Many investments such as mutual funds either track or are measured against the S&P.
Economic readings did little to instill confidence among investors. The Mortgage Bankers Association said mortgage application volume fell 3.6 percent last week. Meanwhile, the slump in housing suggested banks will continue to face souring mortgage debt. Government-sponsored lender Freddie Mac, which reported a $2 billion quarterly loss Tuesday and saw shares plummet nearly 29 percent, declined again Wednesday after an analyst downgrade. Countrywide Financial Corp., the nation's largest mortgage lender, also lost further ground.
In other economic news, the Conference Board suggested an economic slowdown could accelerate in the coming months amid rising costs and further weakness in the housing market. Also, the Reuters/University of Michigan consumer sentiment survey showed its lowest reading in two years _ an unwelcome development for retailers entering what is for many the most important period of the year.
And with oil prices briefly reaching a high of $99.29 a barrel in overnight electronic trading, the question among investors is no longer if oil will reach $100 a barrel, but when _ and how long it will stay there. Crude futures fell 74 cents to settle at $97.29 per barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange after an Energy Department report showed supplies at a closely watched oil terminal in the Midwest rose for the first time in weeks.

"The high price of oil has hurt retail, entertainment, restaurants and clothing," said Don Hodges, chairman of Hodges Capital Management in Dallas. He attributes the market's recent retrenchment to concerns about energy, the consumer, housing and banking among other factors and notes that previous sharp drops in the market have occurred when investors have faced a similar confluence of worries.

New Poll: 77 Percent of Public Believe USA Has Meandered off in the Wrong Direction

If the Democrats do not take advantage of this mood displayed by this new poll (;_ylt=ApSaMCCsHA70jt9EhumOnmWs0NUE) and gain real backbone to push for change BEFORE 2008, they are idiots and do not deserve to win in 2008. The mantra that change is needed must start now and be a steady drumbeat. No doubt the Chimperator and his psychophants in the GOP will do all that they can to block meaningful change; but this should only help to highlight why the GOP and the Christianists need to be sent packing next November. Here are some highlights from the story:
[M]ost in the U.S. say they are personally happy and feel in control of their lives and finances, according to an extensive Associated Press-Yahoo! News survey on the mood of voters. Beneath the surface, though, personal and political discontent is bubbling.
There is a widespread unease—shared by 77 percent—that the country has meandered off in the wrong direction. Nearly all Democrats and more than six in 10 Republicans think the country has taken the wrong course. And although almost half express interest and hope in the upcoming elections, a third voice frustration—particularly Republicans.
People are paying attention to the 2008 presidential campaign. Solid majorities think their vote matters and say this wide-open presidential contest is more important than usual. Stirred in are warning signs for Republican candidates: Democrats seething after nearly seven years under President Bush are happier and more psyched up about this election than Republicans.

More Democrats than Republicans say they are hopeful about the voting, 54 percent to 39 percent, and more of them are interested in it. Republicans are more likely to say the election leaves them frustrated and bored. Happy and unhappy people alike say they are likelier to vote for the Democratic nominee, with the unhappy—who are likelier to be lower-income and less educated—giving Democrats a bigger, 2-to-1 margin.
With the limp housing and credit markets dominating recent headlines, financial problems are at the heart of many people's worries. Though three-quarters say they control their financial situation, most say they are having trouble getting ahead, including a third who say that has become very difficult. "Something's gotten out of synch between what we make and what things cost," said Sandra Dempsey, 47, a child-care provider in Jonesboro, Ga. "Slowly but surely the middle class is becoming the lower class."

More Wednesday Male Beauty

Obama: Hospital Visitation for Gay Spouses is Not a 'Special Right'

I am glad to see that Barack Obama stood up to the "special rights" bull shit refrain routinely thrown out by the wingnut Christianists. These hypocritical modern day Pharisees routinely contend that anything that would allow LGBT citizens full legal rights akin to anyone else is a "special right." They make my blood boil. Thankfully, more and more younger Americans are coming to view Christianity - or at least the hate-filled Christianist version - negatively. I personally hope the trend continues because in my opinion, these folks are anything but true followers of Christ. Followers of Satan, perhaps, but not Christ. Here are some highlights of Obama while on the 700 Club (

During an interview with the Christian Broadcasting Network's David Brody, Senator Barack Obama (D-IL), seeking the presidency in 2008, responds to a question on "special rights" for LGBT citizens. Obama disagrees with the notion that things like hospital visitations for same-sex spouses are "special rights."

"How would Jesus feel about somebody not being able to visit somebody they love when they're sick?" the Senator asks. "Certainly, as a public official," he continues, "it's important for me to make sure that those basic rights--that basic equality--is available."

Even reactionary Virginia has now passed legislation (it became effective July 1, 2007) that allows couples - gay or straight - to designate and grant anyone they want with hospital visitation rights.

Scott McClellan Accuses Bush of Deceit in CIA Leak

Hey, even I could have told Scott McClellan at the time that he was being hung out to dry when he continually put out denials for the White House in connecting with the outing of Valerie Plame. The Chimperator and Emperor Cheney used him as a sap and had no regard for destroying his credibility. Frankly, I am happy to see him calling them out on this. Perhaps it will help those still in denial to realize just how dishonest this regime has been. If their lips are moving, odds are that they are lying. Here are some highlights form MSNBC (
WASHINGTON - Former White House press secretary Scott McClellan blames President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney for efforts to mislead the public about the role of White House aides in leaking the identity of a CIA operative. In an excerpt from his forthcoming book, McClellan recount the 2003 news conference in which he told reporters that aides Karl Rove and I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby were "not involved" in the leak involving operative Valerie Plame.

"There was one problem. It was not true," McClellan writes, according to a brief excerpt released Monday. "I had unknowingly passed along false information. And five of the highest-ranking officials in the administration were involved in my doing so: Rove, Libby, the vice president, the president's chief of staff and the president himself."

McClellan's book, "What Happened," isn't due out until April, and the excerpt released Monday was merely a teaser. It doesn't get into detail about how Bush and Cheney were involved or reveal what happened behind the scenes.

Wednesday Male Beauty

More Home Loan Defaults in 2008 - US Mortgage Losses Could Be $300 Billion

It looks like the Fed is finally waking up to what some of us in businesses related to the housing industry have seen coming for a quite time now: a very rough 2008 with even higher mortgage default and foreclosure levels. This in turn will cause negative pressure on home prices and more negative economic spin off. Remember, already, the number of foreclosures had doubled nationally from a year ago and in some markets the rate is up 500%. Here are highlights from a CNBC story (
U.S. Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson said the number of potential U.S. home-loan defaults "will be significantly bigger" in 2008 than in 2007, the Wall Street Journal's online edition reported. "The nature of the problem will be significantly bigger next year because 2006 (mortgages) had lower underwriting standards, no amortization, and no down payments," Paulson said in an interview with the Wall Street Journal on Tuesday, according to an excerpt on the newspaper's Web site.

"We'll watch carefully mortgages that will be reset," Paulson was quoted as saying. The newspaper said Paulson was pressing the mortgage-service industry to help a broad range of borrowers become eligible for better loans instead of dealing with mortgage problems on a case-by-case basis.
Also from CNBC are these additional highlights (
Overall losses from the U.S. mortgage market crisis could be up to $300 billion but financial firms and policymakers need to buy time to ensure an orderly work-out, the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development said on Wednesday.
But the Paris-based forum said the worst of the U.S. housing market downturn had not yet been seen and would continue to depress mortgage-related debt products and derivatives held by banks, hedge funds and insurance companies. "We still have not hit the worst point in resets, delinquencies and ultimate losses on mortgages," the OECD said, adding some $890 billion of sub-prime, or poor credit quality, mortgages will have rates reset in 2008 -- with the peak expected about March.
I hope I am wrong, but personally I think a recession is close at hand if not already upon us.

Think LGBT Rights When Shopping

As reported by (, HRC is correctly urging LGBT consumers to shop responsibly as we head into the Holidays - i.e., shop at businesses that are supportive of LGBT rights as opposed to giving one's funds to those who continue to leave us marginalized. In business, money talks and with a buying power of over $700 Billion in the USA alone, LGBT consumers need to flex their financial muscle. Here are some story highlights:

(Washington) Friday millions of Americans will flock to malls in what traditionally is the biggest shopping day of the year, and the nation's largest LGBT organization is advising people to think about their civil rights when deciding where to spend their money this holiday season. The Human Rights Campaign says stores with a low rating on its Corporate Equality Index should be avoided while those with a high rating should enjoy the benefit of your heard earned money.

Topping the no-go list is Wal-Mart, the world's biggest retailer. It received only a grade of 40 out of 100 possible points on the list. It's competitor, Target Stores, on the other hand scored an 80. Other retails who scored at the bottom of the index were Toys R Us, RadioShack and AutoZone. High scorers included Best Buy, Sears, Kmart, Lands’ End, J.C. Penney, Macy’s and Mastercard. LGBT buying power is estimated to be $723-billion in 2008.

"By purchasing products from companies supporting GLBT equality, shoppers are sending a clear message that will directly impact a company’s bottom line." The HRC guide is available online at

Possible Thanksgiving Menu Item

A former employee sent this (and several other photos) concerning various menu items. I liked this one the best. Oh, and I do like peach cobbler as well.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Final Tuesday Male Beauty - Dedicated to Stanton L. Jones and Mark A. Yarhouse

A Critique of Jones and Yarhouse's "Ex-gay" Study

Having studied the "ex-gay" programs in dept in the past, I have previously posted about the new Stanton L. Jones and Mark A. Yarhouse book, Ex-gays?: A Longitudinal Study of Religiously Mediated Change in Sexual Orientation, which is based on a study of participants in the Exodus International ex-gay ministries, in which the authors intended to answer two questions: 1) can a homosexual orientation be “healed,” specifically can a person change their orientation using religious-based therapy, and 2) are attempts at change harmful. To be candid, from their past work and their - in my view religiously biased desire to find "change" possible - I was always sceptical of any pro-change conclusions they might claim.

Now, Ex-gay Watch has a critique of their supposed study by Patrick M. Chapman, PhD, an academic with a PhD in biological anthropology, and someone who tried for over a decade to change his own sexual orientation. His conclusions are found here ( and confirm all my doubts as to this study being anything more than yet another attempt to give Exodus and other ex-gay programs undeserved legitimacy. No doubt the book will sell well with the Christianists - and make money for its authors - and be improperly cited for supporting "cure" programs that are little better than having treatment from a witch doctor. Here are highlights of the critique:

In the opening chapter Jones and Yarhouse honestly and correctly state this study cannot establish if long-term, permanent and enduring change occurs because that would require a long-term study (p. 17). Contrarily, they later suggest the results demonstrate sexual orientation is changeable (pp. 42, 325), evidenced by 11 “Success: Conversion” cases out of the original 98. The conclusion is unwarranted because: 1) they acknowledge multiple anecdotal cases from previous “ex-gay” success stories who later recanted their “conversion” to heterosexuality (pp. 63-64, 72); 2) they freely acknowledge that people in ex-gay programs declare they are heterosexual even if they experience exclusive and powerful homosexual attractions (p. 220); 3) they admit that one of their 11 “Success: Conversion” cases recanted his claim of change, confessing his homosexual attraction was unchanged after the book manuscript neared completion (p. 285; Jones and Yarhouse did not remove his “success” from their data); and 4) the only way to determine if change actually occurred is through a long-term study, which this is not.

This study is littered with biased and sloppy scholarship. The authors suggest the results presented in Tables 7.4 through 7.6 (pp. 239-240) present a “modest portrait of positive progress” in the change process (p. 246). Yet, there is no change based on the data presented in Table 7.4: at both the start and end of the study nine participants declare themselves heterosexual while 51 declare themselves homosexual. Jones and Yarhouse state there is “no indication of significant change” based on the data presented in Table 7.5 (p. 248) and no statistically significant change in Table 7.6 (p. 249). Nonetheless Jones and Yarhouse declare the results represented in these three tables to be “positive progress.” Simply put, their conclusion is not based on the evidence: progress requires positive change.

Meanwhile, the authors report 23 percent of the participants achieved success in changing their sexual orientation by embracing chastity. However, once again the actual desires and longings of the individuals remain homosexual. One “Success: Chastity” female relinquished her goal of getting rid of homosexual feelings and longings (p. 302), a “Success: Chastity” male admits to continued same-sex attractions (p. 303), while another male still fantasizes to the point of orgasm about being with a man and admits continued homosexual feelings and longings (p. 304). While Jones and Yarhouse acknowledge these individuals did not experience a “strong movement toward heterosexual attraction” (p. 291), they nonetheless consider them “successes.”

Despite explicitly stating that this study cannot demonstrate whether long-lasting change is possible, despite admitting that individuals in ex-gay ministries misreport their condition, despite knowing that previous testimonies of change were untrue, despite knowing that one of their own “Success: Conversion” participants later recanted his proclaimed “conversion” to heterosexuality, and despite the fact that “Success: Conversion” and “Success: Chastity” participants retain a homosexual orientation (using Jones and Yarhouse’s own definition), the authors claim that homosexual orientation is changeable! Clearly their conclusion is not consistent with the evidence: a continued homosexual orientation is not evidence of “healing” from homosexuality.

Huge Oil Discovery Rocks Brazil

I missed this last week, but this story is welcomed in that it has the potential to reduce world dependence on Middle East oil and, therefore, pressure the Arab world to conform with international law and standards. I am all for higher oil prices which will force the suburban soccer moms in their tank-like SUV's and other irresponsible consumers to conserve resources. Therefore, as Brazil brings these reserves online, I hope that it will be done in a manner that will not flood the market and reduce the price of oil. Here are story highlights from CNN (

RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil (AP) -- A huge offshore oil discovery could raise Brazil's petroleum reserves by a whopping 40 percent and boost this country into the ranks of the world's major exporters, officials said. The government-run oil company Petroleo Brasileiro SA, or Petrobras, said the new "ultra-deep" Tupi field could hold as much as 8 billion barrels of recoverable light crude, sending Petrobras shares soaring and prompting predictions that Brazil could join the world's "top 10" oil producers.

Petrobras President Sergio Gabrielli said Thursday the oil from ultradeep areas, including the Tupi field, would give Brazil the world's eighth-largest oil and gas reserves. "Brazil's reserves will lie somewhere between those of Nigeria and those of Venezuela," Gabrielli said at a news conference. Petrobras says the Tupi field, off Brazil's southeastern Atlantic coast, has between 5 billion and 8 billion barrels -- equivalent to 40 percent of all the oil ever discovered in Brazil. Brazil's total oil reserves currently rank 17th in the world, with 14.4 billion barrels of oil equivalent, Gabrielli said.
"If the best-case scenario happens, this discovery would make Petrobras' reserves overcome those of Shell and Chevron and put Petrobras behind only Exxon and British Petroleum," Cunha said. Petrobras has a 65 percent operating stake in the field, Britain's BG Group PLC holds 25 percent, and Petroleos de Portugal holds the remaining 10 percent.

More Tuesday Male Beauty

Florida's $400,000 Blowjob

This short piece form Dan Savage ( shows how much the Florida taxpayers will be shelling out for a special election now that park restroom sex offender Bob Allen has resigned from office:

Bob Allen—the GOP state rep in Florida that was arrested after offering an undercover cop $20 and a blowjob in a public toilet—was convicted of solicitation last week, sentenced to six month’s probation and fined $250. Allen has now resigned from the Florida state house, much to the delight of his GOP colleagues, and a special election has to be held to pick his replacement. And guess what? It’s going to cost the state $400,000 to hold that special election. “That’s one expensive blowjob,” says Towleroad.

Well, technically no one got blown—so I’d describe it as one expensive bloverture. But knowing how much it would cost to replace Allen, the GOP might have helped to reestablish its fiscal-conservative bona fides by encouraging Allen to serve out the rest of his term, a la Larry Craig.

Feds Want Nearly $1 Million from Michael Vick for Dogs' Care

As most readers will have gathered from my prior posts about football star Michael Vick and his prosecution for illegal dog fighting, I have little sympathy for Vick. In my view his is all too typical of the spoiled and pampered athlete who has been permitted to get away with all kinds of improper conduct for many years. Hopefully, Mr. Vick's fall will be a message to other sports stars that they are not above the law or the requirements of civil conduct. Here are some highlights from the Virginian Pilot's breaking story (

Federal prosecutors want nearly $1 million in restitution from Michael Vick for the long-term care of his former pit bulls, and they are concerned about his ability to pay the amount amid his mounting financial troubles, according to court papers filed today. The prosecutors filed a motion asking U.S. District Judge Henry Hudson to order Vick to keep at least enough money to repay the government for the care and placement of about 50 pit bulls that were seized from NFL star’s dogfighting operation, according to the document.

The prosecutors estimated restitution will total about $928,000, a figure that could rise or fall by the time Vick is sentenced on Dec. 10, according to the motion. The prosecutors mentioned four creditors that are seeking to recover money from Vick, who once signed the richest contract in NFL history but now faces an uncertain future in football. The NFL suspended him indefinitely without pay pending the outcome of his criminal case. An arbitrator ruled that his team, the Atlanta Falcons, can recover almost $20 million in bonus money from the Newport News native, and three banks are seeking a total of about $5 million on allegations of defaulted loans, the document says.

Vick pleaded guilty this summer to conspiring to run an interstate dogfighting venture with three other men, beginning in 2001. His three co-defendants have also pleaded guilty and are awaiting sentencing. Vick turned himself in Monday to begin serving whatever sentence he receives in three weeks.

Tuesday Male Beauty

Freddie Posts Loss, May Cut Dividend; Citigroup Takes Huge Hit; Expectations of Recession Increase

The housing market and subprime melt down continues and has hit Freddie Mac, one of the two largest makers of the secondary market for home mortgage loans, as reported by ( Meanwhile Citigroup may take a hit of up to $15 billion overall from problem loans. Here are highlights from the Bloomberg story:

Nov. 20 (Bloomberg) -- Freddie Mac, the mortgage buyer that has helped almost 50 million Americans purchase a home, posted its largest-ever loss and said ``significant deterioration'' in the housing market may force it to cut its dividend and raise capital. The shares tumbled 35 percent, the biggest decline since the stock began trading in 1988. Freddie Mac reported a net loss of $2.02 billion, or $3.29 a share, at least triple what some analysts' estimated, after providing $1.2 billion for credit expenses and reducing the value of assets by $3.6 billion.

``It's as bad as it possibly could be,'' said Howard Shapiro, an analyst at Fox-Pitt Kelton in New York. Shapiro today downgraded Freddie Mac shares to ``sell'' from ``overweight.'' The biggest slump in the housing market in 16 years broadened its reach to Mclean, Virginia-based Freddie Mac and the larger Fannie Mae, two institutions set up by Congress to help foster American home ownership. The companies, which own or guarantee 40 percent of the $11.5 trillion U.S. home loan market, are recording more losses as mortgage defaults and foreclosure filings rise to record levels.

Wells Fargo & Co. Chief Executive Officer John Stumpf last week said the housing market was the worst since the Great Depression. Banks and securities firms worldwide have already reported about $50 billion in losses from subprime mortgages, loans given to borrowers with weak credit that have been defaulting at a record pace. The total damage may reach $400 billion, Deutsche Bank analysts said last week. Foreclosure filings doubled to 223,538 in September from a year earlier as subprime borrowers struggled to make payments on adjustable-rate mortgages, RealtyTrac Inc. said last month.

Of course, the Chimperator and Emperor Cheney continue to pretend that the U. S. economy is strong. Meanwhile, here's highlights on the Citigroup disaster (

Nov. 20 (Bloomberg) -- The risk that banks and brokerages from Citigroup Inc. to Bear Stearns Cos. will default on their debt is accelerating as analysts increase their estimates of losses from subprime mortgages, credit-default swaps show.

The increases are the biggest in two weeks as more analysts predict that writedowns by banks and securities firms, already $50 billion worldwide, will continue to grow. Goldman Sachs Group Inc. estimates Citigroup's losses will expand to $15 billion in the next two quarters and CreditSights Inc. analysts said UBS AG, Europe's largest bank by assets, may have lost as much as $9 billion on collateralized debt obligations. ``There's still a lot more uncertainty to come,'' said Tim Backshall, chief strategist at Credit Derivatives Research LLC in Walnut Creek, California. ``We understand the risks now, but we don't know how to measure them yet.''

The losses at banks and securities firms are fueling concern that rising delinquencies on home loans to people with poor credit will drag down the economy. The slump in global credit markets may force banks, brokerages and hedge funds to cut lending by $2 trillion, Goldman Sachs economists said last week.

The number of economists forecasting a U.S. recession almost doubled in the past two months, according to a survey by the National Association for Business Economics. Nine of 50 economists pegged the odds of a contraction over the next 12 months at 50 percent or higher, according to a poll taken from Oct. 22 to Nov. 6. Five of 46 held a similar view in September.