Saturday, December 01, 2007

Australian Election; McKew claims Bennelong and Defeats Howard

If this story ( proves true, I am sure that my blogger friend Magic BellyButton will be dancing a jig and tossing back a few drinks. Yes, it was great to see John Howard lose as prime Minister of Australia, but the loss of his own seat in Parliament has to be a total abrogation of his misrule. I wish Maxine McKew lots of luck going forward. Would that the Chimperator could be required to endure a similar rejection. Here are a s few highlights:

LABOR'S new superstar Maxine McKew declared herself the victor in the seat of Bennelong yesterday, but vanquished Prime Minister John Howard kept his silence. Mr Howard emerged at 7am from Kirribilli House in drizzling rain, saying he had "no political comment at all" before heading off on his customary walk. Two hours later the rain stopped and Ms McKew arrived at Gladesville Public School Christmas Fair, cheered by dozens of children. As the new MP joined the Christmas parade - in which she was driven atop a sports car - she was hugged by Mrs Santa Claus - alias Maria Venuti.

In claiming victory in Bennelong, Ms McKew said: "One week after the polls opened, I can now say that in Bennelong we are 2100 votes ahead and 51.2 per cent of the two-party vote, so I can formally say that Bennelong is now a Labor seat for the first time." She said Mr Howard had not contacted her to concede defeat. Ms McKew said the swing had been across the electorate and that voters had taken a cynical view of his sudden high level of visibility in the months before the election.

More Saturday Male Beauty

Leave it to the Christianists: How Sanctuary Became A Dirty Word

I came across a blog debate on the Washington Post blog site ( and it poses a very interesting issue: how those who claim to be the most Christian among political presidential candidates seek to be the most heartless and ruthless in their treatment of illegal aliens. Do not misunderstand me. I am not supporting or advocating for illegal immigration - I merely oppose alleged Christians acting harshly and cruelly towards often hapless illegal immigrants who end up being depicted as something less than fully human. In my view, this is but one example of how Christianity is being perverted into something horrible by the wingnut Christianists. Here are some telling quotes:

Does anyone find it ironic many ostensibly religious candidates are vying with one another to prove how meanly they can treat illegal immigrants?

The concept of offering sanctuary to criminals, or to people accused of a crime, is an ancient one and exists in nearly every culture. In biblical Israel, it was forbidden to kill a “manslayer”—or accused manslayer—within certain cities of refuge. Throughout the Middle Ages, seeking sanctuary in a church was a tactic more commonly used by people whose crimes consisted of being caught in the wrong place at the wrong time—for example, behind the constantly shifting battle lines of endless wars between city-states and political factions. The “crime” of being an illegal immigrant seems to me to resemble the crime of being caught behind battle lines more than it does conventional criminality. Most of these people are guilty of nothing more than being poor and desperate for work. Why is it now socially and politically acceptable to talk about people who come here to work—illegally, to be sure—as if they were murderers, rapists and thieves?

The Grim Truth: Republicans face a calamitous political situation

This is an interesting article in National Review ( that looks at the less than bright outlook for the GOP. It is telling that a conservative publication like National Review has such a pessimistic article. On the other hand, it has never been a wingnut Christianist publication either. I hope that the GOP continues to do what it has been doing and gets slammed in November, 2008. I think it is the only thing that will cause the party to refocus away form its current trends. I just hope the Democrats don't screw up and snatch defeat from what should be a strong victory. Here are some highlights:
But for all the understandable natural resistance to pessimism, it has its uses. Fear can be nature’s way to get us to realize that we’re in danger and to take appropriate action. Consider Iraq. If more supporters of the war had been willing to admit that the war was going badly in 2005–6, we might have undertaken the surge and switched our strategy earlier.
The plain truth is that the party faces a cataclysm, a rout that would give Democrats control of the White House and enhanced majorities in the House and the Senate. That defeat would, in turn, guarantee the confirmation of a couple of young, liberal Supreme Court nominees, putting the goal of moving the Court in a more constitutionalist direction out of reach for another generation. It would probably also mean a national health-insurance program that would irrevocably expand government involvement in the economy and American life, and itself make voters less likely to turn toward conservatism in the future.
This outcome is avoidable only if Republicans understand the sources of their unpopularity. Conservatives tend to blame their travails on Republican politicians’ missteps and especially on their inability to communicate. But the public’s unhappiness with Republicans goes much deeper than any such explanation. A mishandled war, coupled with intellectual exhaustion on the domestic front, has soured the public on them. It is not just the politicians but conservative voters themselves who are out of touch with the public, stuck in the glory days of the 1980s and not thinking nearly enough about how to make their principles relevant to the concerns of today. Unforeseen events could yet change the political environment radically. As it stands, Republicans are sleepwalking into catastrophe.
The political calendar and map are also conspiring against Republicans. In the Senate, Republicans have to defend 21 seats and Democrats only 12. They face tough races to retain seats in Minnesota, Maine, Oregon, New Hampshire, Virginia, Colorado, and New Mexico, while vulnerable Democratic seats are hard to find.
Democrats will be able to fight on this favorable terrain with more resources than Republicans. The RNC has done well against the DNC, outraising it $63 million to $40.5 million, with a cash-on-hand advantage of $16.5 million to $3.3 million. Otherwise, Democrats are winning the money race going away. Democratic presidential candidates have raised a stunning $200 million, 70 percent more than the Republican candidates. The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee leads the National Republican Senatorial Committee 2 to 1. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee had $22.1 million on hand as of August, the National Republican Congressional Committee only $1.6 million (it started the year $16 million in debt).

Saturday Male Beauty

Virginia GOP Cancels Plan to Require Loyalty Oaths

The Republican Party of Virginia continues to veer off to the far right and sees a plot and conspiracy behind every bush. For now the Party has rescinded it's call for a loyalty oath to be signed by anyone voting in the GOP presidential primary. Not that any such oath would be enforceable anyway. Frankly, fears that Democrats will vote in the GOP primary are probably without merit: the GOP is much more capable of nominating an extremist candidate with little likelihood of winning in the general election than any would be cross over voters in my opinion.
In point of fact, I was at Mixers last night and was speaking with an appointee of Governor Kaine and the consensus was PLEASE let the GOP party convention confirm Jim Gilmore as the candidate for retiring U.S. Senator John Warner's seat. The GOP wingnuts love Gilmore but do not seem to grasp that most of the public does not and that Gilmore was VERY unpopular when he left office. With Gilmore as the GOP candidate, Mark Warner is all but guaranteed to be the next U.S. Senator from Virginia. I attribute my former law partner, Mark Earley's loss in his run for Governor largely to the fact that (1) he did not sufficiently repudiate Gilmore's policies - as I and others urged him to do - and (2) people were voting to punish the GOP for the mess Gilmore had made. Here are some highlights from the Virginian Pilot's coverage (
Virginia Republicans on Friday voted to rescind their demand that voters in the February presidential primary sign a written oath of loyalty to the party's presidential nominee. A committee at the party's annual winter retreat voted overwhelmingly to rescind the request to the State Board of Elections regarding the Feb. 12 primary. The party had been criticized for imposing the oath. State GOP Executive Director Charlie Judd said because Democrats are holding their primary in Virginia the same day, that reduces the possibility that Democrats or independents could meddle in the GOP selection process.
Voters in Virginia do not register by party. Since the mid-'90s, the state's Republicans have fretted that Democrats might meddle in their primaries, which are open to all registered voters. Virginia Democrats require no oath for their presidential primary.

Ireland To Move On Gay Partnership Bill

The movement for gay equality continues around parts of the world, but unfortunately not in the USA, the self-styled home of liberty and freedom- NOT. As is reporting (, Ireland will be moving forward in the spring with gay civil union legislation. What is interesting is the percentage of voters that support gay rights: 84 percent are in favor of some recognition of same-sex couples while 53 percent would allow gay couples to marry. Perhaps some of this arises from the Roman Catholic Church's continued exposure for hypocrisy in terms of sex abuse scandals, workhouse scandals and such. The change in Irish public opinion and the Church's growing inability to affect it whatsoever has been remarkable. Here are some story highlights:
(Dublin) The Irish government will bring in civil partnership legislation in March a cabinet minister told an LGBT group on Friday. Equality Minister Seam Power said he expects the bill to become law later in 2008. Power, speaking at a symposium on same-sex couple rights, that the government is keen to have the law passed as quickly as possible and he does not foresee any resistance from the opposition. The cabinet earlier this month approved granting same-sex couples the same rights as married couples, but without the name marriage.

Recent public opinion polls show that 84 percent are in favor of some recognition of same-sex couples while 53 percent would allow gay couples to marry.

Friday, November 30, 2007

More Friday Male Beauty

Little Value Put On Life Of Gay Murdered by Brute

I posted about the death of Sean Kennedy back in the spring. Sadly, as the Greenville, South Carolina News is reporting (, his murderer is getting off lightly and the police did not have the balls to call the attack a hate crime. If the Greenville cops are like many of those in this area, they would not recognize a hate crime if it beat them over the head. So much for justice in the South. Somehow, I suspect that Moller will have little remorse other than that he did not get off totally free. It will be interesting to see if he even gets convicted of the less manslaughter charge. I am not going to hold my breath. here are some story highlights:

Judge Roger Couch this morning set bond at $25,000 and ordered home detention for Stephen Andrew Moller, 19, of Taylors, who was indicted by a Greenville grand jury on a charge of involuntary manslaughter in the death of Sean Kennedy. Kennedy died after he was punched in the face outside a Pelham Road nightclub May 16, according to a Greenville County Sheriff's incident report. Sheriff's Office investigator Paul Silvaggio testified today in Greenville County Circuit Court that after an "extensive investigation," he determined that Kennedy's homosexuality did not motivate the attack. He also testified that his investigation found that Kennedy was punched once in the face and fell and struck his head on asphalt.

Kennedy's mother Elke Kennedy addressed the court, saying "At least he gets to live. My son won't be home for Christmas." She characterized Moller as a "violent man," and has previously objected to the reduction in charge from murder to involuntary manslaughter, which carries a maximum sentence of five years. She has said that her son was openly gay and she has advocated for the passage of hate-crime laws that would apply to sexual orientation. Thirteenth Circuit Solicitor Bob Ariail has said the charge of involuntary manslaughter is not sufficient, but "correct under the law."

Just as upsetting is the fact that many of the reader comments posted on the news are blatantly homophobic and hate-filled. One reader correctly summed up the state of affairs for both Greenville and much of the South:

This is murder, pure and simple and if the victim had not been gay, Moller would have been charged with murder. Good old Christian ethics at work in the deep south. If you're gay, black, asian or anything but white, you're not going to get justice from these psalm singing hypocrites.

House prices slip in half of U.S. cities

MSN MoneyCentral has more housing news ( Much of it is not good, but much depends upon where one is in the country. Some states are relatively stable, while others are seeing really negative market forces developing. The data underline a drumbeat of dismal housing headlines this week:

* RealtyTrac, which collects data on foreclosures, today reported a 94% year-over-year increase in foreclosure filings for October. There is now a default notice, auction sale notice or bank repossession for one in every 555 U.S. households -- though that's actually down from the peak in August.

* A respected gauge of home prices, the 20-city S&P/Case-Shiller Index, reported Tuesday that home prices fell 4.5% in the third quarter compared with the previous year, the fastest drop in the index's 20-year history.

* S ales of existing homes, the largest share of the real-estate market, fell for the eighth straight month -- by 1.2% since September and 20.7% since this time last year, the National Association of Realtors reported Wednesday. It said prices had declined 5.1% over the same period.

* Global Insight, a Boston-area economic analysis firm, predicts the foreclosure crisis will have "profound economic effects in 2008," including a $1.2 trillion loss in home values and at least 1.4 million new foreclosures.

* The
Calculated Risk blog quotes Goldman Sachs analysts predicting a "substantial" drop in home values nationally -- about 15%, with possible losses in Florida of 30%. If a recession happens, prices could fall by 30% across the country, the report says.
And yet, housing experts urge homeowners to keep things in perspective: Although home prices have dropped from last year's peak, they still retain most of the value gained in the price run-up from 2001 to 2006, says economics professor John Quigley at the University of California, Berkeley. (Compare the five-year and one-year appreciation rates for the OFHEO-tracked cities here; only one metro area -- Detroit -- is in negative territory.)

A New Push to Roll Back ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’

As the New York Times is reporting (, this morning, a group of 28 retired Generals and Admirals released a letter calling on Congress to repeal "Don't Ask, Don't Tell." The retired officers offer data showing that 65,000 gay men and lesbians now serve in the American armed forces and that there are more than one million gay veterans. Naturally, the GOP presidential candidates oppose the repeal as they stick their noses firmly up the asses of the Christianist who now control the GOP. The following is the text of the letter and the names of those signing it:

We respectfully urge Congress to repeal the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy. Those of us signing this letter have dedicated our lives to defending the rights of our citizens to believe whatever they wish. As General Colin Powell, former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs said when the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy was enacted, it is not the place of the military or those in senior leadership to make moral judgments.

Scholarly data show that there are approximately one million gay and lesbian veterans in the United States today, as well as 65,000 gays and lesbians currently serving in our armed forces. They have served our nation honorably.

We support the recent comments of another former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, General John Shalikashvili, who has concluded that repealing the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy would not harm, and would indeed help, our armed forces. As is the case in Britain, Israel, and other nations which allow gays and lesbians to serve openly, our service members are professionals who are able to work together effectively despite differences in race, gender, religion, and sexuality. Such collaboration reflects the strength and the best traditions of our democracy.

Lieutenant General Jerry Hilmes; Branch: Army

Vice Admiral Harold Koenig; Branch: Navy; Field: Medical

Vice Admiral James Zimble, Midlothian, VA; Branch: Navy; Field: Medical

Major General Leslie Burger, Vancouver, WA; Branch: Army; Field: Medical

Major General Alexander Burgin, Salem, OR; Branch: Army NG; Field: Artillery

Major General Michael Conrad, McLean, VA; Field: Infantry

Major General James Delk, Fair Oaks, CA; Branch: Army; Field: Medical

Major General Jack Farris, New Jersey; Branch: Air Force; Field: Aviation (pilot)

Major General Fred Forster, Tennessee; Field: Aviation

Major General David Hale, Hampton Bays, NY; Field: Combat

Major General Randy Jayne, McClean, VA; Branch: Air NG; Field: Aviation (pilot)

Major General Dennis Laich, Dublin, OH; Branch: Army; Field: Military Police

Major General Dennis Malcor, Vine Grove, KY; Branch: Army; Field: Combat

Major General Michael Scotti*, Arlington, VA; Branch: Army; Field: Medical

Major General Harry Sieben, Minnesota; Branch: Army and Air NG

Rear Admiral William Retz; Branch: Navy

Brigadier General Clara Adams-Ender, Woodbridge, VA; Branch: Army; Field: Medical

Brigadier General Dale Barber, Waverly, NY; Branch: Army; Field: Infantry Engineer

Brigadier General Harold Bowman, Pleasant Hill, IA; Branch: Army NG; Field; Medical

Brigadier General Douglas Bradley, Diablo, CA; Branch: Army; Field: Medical

Brigadier General William Colvin; Branch: Army NG

Brigadier General Bob Hardy; Branch: Army

Brigadier General JD Johnson, Salt Lake City, UT; Branch: Army

Friday Male Beauty

Senator Barack Obama pledges to end Don't Ask Don't Tell - and to help reinstate gays and lesbians kicked out of the military due to this policy

In conjunction with the 14th anniversary of the signing of the military policy banning gays and lesbians from serving openly in the military, the Human Rights Campaign has asked the leading Democratic candidates for President to respond to the question, “If you are elected President, what concrete steps would you take to overturn ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell?’ As I have indicated before, this flawed and discriminatory policy needs to be repealed as soon as practicable. Here is Barack Obama's response:

Fourteen years ago, the Democratic Party faced a test of leadership, and our party failed that test. We had an opportunity to be leaders on the World stage in eliminating discrimination against gay and lesbian service members, to recognize the patriotism and heroism of the hundreds of thousands of gay and lesbian citizens who have served our country. Instead, we bowed to fear and prejudice. We were told that American soldiers weren’t ready to serve next to gay and lesbian comrades. We were told that our airmen, sailors and Marines would lose their “unit cohesion” if we implemented a policy of equality. And so, rather than embracing leadership and principle, we embraced Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell — a policy that is antithetical to the values of honor and integrity that our military holds most dear. Patriotic gay and lesbian Americans are now told that they may serve their country only if they hide their true identities. They are forced to live a lie as the price of risking their lives for their country.

Fourteen years later, the United States of America lags far behind. We lag behind our military allies, who are repudiating discrimination against lesbian and gay soldiers in ever increasing numbers — in Great Britain, Canada, Israel, nearly every NATO member in Europe — all with no impact upon military readiness and performance. And our politicians lag behind the American people, who now call for the repeal of Don’t Ask,Don’t Tell in super-majority numbers. It is time for a change.

As president, I will work with Congress and place the weight of my administration behind enactment of the Military Readiness Enhancement Act, which will make nondiscrimination the official policy of the U.S. military. I will task the Defense Department and the senior command structure in every branch of the armed forces with developing an action plan for the implementation of a full repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. And I will direct my Secretaries of Defense and Homeland Security to develop procedures for taking re-accession requests from those qualified service members who were separated from the armed forces under Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell and still want to serve their country. The eradication of this policy will require more than just eliminating one statute. It will require the implementation of anti-harassment policies and protocols for dealing with abusive or discriminatory behavior as we transition our armed forces away from a policy of discrimination. The military must be our active partners in developing those policies and protocols. That work should have started long ago. It will start when I take office.

America is ready to get rid of the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy. All that is required is leadership.

More From the Wingnut Universe: Regent University Will Explore Ties with Oral Roberts University

One could say that Pat Robertson's Regent University and Oral Roberts University deserve each other. Both were founded by Christianists who made a very good living off their "ministry" and and both teach students who seek Christianist dominion over the rest of the citizenry. Would that Pat would take over ORU and move to Tulsa. It would be a nice development for this area. Based on Pat's track record, if the deal moves forward, I am sure he will benefit financially somehow. Here are highlights from the Virginian Pilot's coverage of this development (

VIRGINIA BEACH - A team from Regent University will travel to financially troubled Oral Roberts University in Tulsa, Okla., on Monday to explore “options” for ties between the institutions. “We are pleased to report that Dr. Pat Robertson, president and chancellor of Regent University and long-time friend of Oral Roberts University, has contacted members of the board of regents and has expressed interest in exploring options for the future of ORU with Regent University,” George Pearsons, chairman of the ORU Board of Regents, said in a statement posted on the university’s Web site.
"Dr. Robertson is sending a team on Monday to Tulsa to meet with ORU Regents and administrative representatives,” he said. A spokeswoman for Regent University could not be reached for comment Thursday night. The discussions are “very preliminary,” Pearsons told The Oklahoman newspaper in Oklahoma City on Thursday. The assistance could range from simply giving advice to possible partnerships, he said. “Pat’s just interested in helping in any way he can,” he said. Pearsons told the newspaper that Robertson had made a “great” financial donation to ORU within the past month, but declined to release the amount.
A day earlier, the founder of a Christian office and education supply store chain pledged $70 million to help the university, provided it passed a 90-day review of the school’s finances.
Oral Roberts began building the university on Tulsa’s southern outskirts 44 years ago. It has about 5,700 students. Regent University, founded by Robertson in 1978, is the smaller of the two. The accredited, private, interdenominational Christian university was known as CBN University until 1990. The 2007 student body numbered more than 4,200 – including almost 2,000 full-time students. The university has a faculty of more than 600.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Pat Robertson: God is Using I-35 to Rid USA of Gay Sin

I swear, the wingnut Christianists are getting more crazy by the day. As Towleroad is reporting (, according to Pat Robertson, God is using superhighway I-35 that runs from Canada to Mexico through the Midwest to purify America from sin. Giuliani can have Pat in my view. He just seems to come out with more and more crazy statements that are down right embarrassing to those of us who live in the Hampton Roads area. I swear, we are not all looney tunes. Here are some story highlights:
He [Robertson] says "I-35 is the highway spoken of in Isaiah 35:8 - "And a highway will be there; it will be called the way of holiness." So, evangelical Christians have set aside 35 days to use the cities around I-35 to rid America of sin, meaning "abortion clinics, gay bars, strip joints, and porn shops." God is using "purity sieges" to set America free.

That, apparently, is the theory of the youth-oriented church activists profiled on yesterday’s “700 Club,” who are running “purity sieges” at clinics and porn shops, where they claim to be “moving angels and demons” by, for example, “setting free” an inebriated young man from “the desires to be with men” through the laying of hands at a gay bar. (

More Thursday Male Beauty

Uruguay First Latin American Country To Legalize Civil Unions

The USA continues to fall behind in terms of progressive developments that bestow full citizenship rights on LBGT citizens. Now Uruguay has moved ahead of the USA and will be affording civil union rights to gay citizens as reported by ( So much for the USA being the land of the free and a beacon of liberty and freedom. I really wonder at times why I just do not leave this country for somewhere that treats gays better except for the fact that by nature I prefer to stand and fight for what is right. Here are some story highlights:
(Montevideo) The lower house in Uruguay's Congress passed legislation Thursday allowing same and opposite-sex couples to form civil unions. A similar bill has already passed the Senate. The two measures need to be harmonized into a single bill and receive a final vote - something considered only a formality. The measure is expected to become law next month.

Under the legislation couples would have be together for at least five years and sign a registry. They would then receive pension, inheritance and parenting rights. In neighboring Brazil, Rio Grande do Sul state which lies along the border, passed civil union legislation in 2004, two years after Buenos Aires passed a similar law. Civil unions also are legal in Mexico City and Coahuila state. But this would make Uruguay the first country in Latin America to have a national civil union law.

American Family Association still Selling Video Promoting HIV+ "ex-gay" Michael Johnston Who Since was Accused of Having Gay Unsafe-Sex Orgies

America Blog ( is reporting on this sick situation where the American Family Association, one of the largest, and most extreme, (and in my view, dishonest) religious right groups is selling a video promoting the notion that you can "cure" gays. The guy on the cover of the video? Michael Johnston, an HIV+ man who claimed he was "cured" of being gay, but then was accused by numerous witnesses of having unsafe sex with other men at gay orgies. I was recently interviewed by Wayne Besen on this very topic for a documentary piece he is doing concerning the Religious Right's dishonesty. The following is the comment I posted on America Blog concerning the story:
I am the attorney who brought the Michael Johnston matter to Wayne Besen's attention and I was quoted in the August, 2003, Southern Voice article by Laura Douglas that broke the story about Johnston. I believe my client was fully credible about his accusations against Johnston and I also spoke with another of Johnston's victims. How the American Family Association can be peddling Johnston's false materials is unbelievable. It confirms that AFA has no integrity whatsoever. FYI, I still have a video that includes Mr. Johnston (and he doesn't act very "cured" in it) that I am safe-keeping for my client. AFA really needs to cease and desist selling these materials immediately.

Thursday Male Beauty

On Capitol Hill, Congressman Forbes is the Point Man for Prayer

As if I needed any more proof as to the GOP's misplaced priorities, this article showed up in today's Virginian Pilot ( Congressman Randy Forbes is an old law school classmate of mine and I certainly knew him during my years in the GOP. He is not a bad guy in general. However, that he and others in Congress are spending time on a Congressional Prayer Caucus while the nation faces many real problems, the economy is roaring towards a recession and millions of American families are faced with losing their homes to foreclosure, is both mind numbing and disheartening. I fully agree with Barry Lynn's (I met him at the 2003 NGLTF Creating Change Conference and was very impressed) view that the motivation behind the Caucus is to give the appearance of a problem existing when there is none. Here are some story highlights:

There are plenty of special interests at work within Congress, and U.S. Rep. J. Randy Forbes is point man for one of them: the Congressional Prayer Caucus. The caucus, a formal congressional group Forbes founded in 2005 , helps the Chesapeake congressman fight what he calls the “constant, dripping erosion” of the nation’s heritage of prayer and faith. Just last month , the caucus swung into action when an official deleted “God” from a certificate accompanying a flag flown over the U.S. Capitol.

The prayer caucus Forbes founded is probably the first of its kind in congressional history, said Laura Olson , a Clemson University political scientist. The caucus is bipartisan, but most of its 25 members are evangelical Christians representing districts “with sizable populations” of evangelicals, she said. The group includes at least one Jew and one Catholic. The prayer caucus reflects Forbes’ convictions as a Christian who has taught adult Sunday School for 20 years at Great Bridge Baptist Church. “Randy believes that prayer is what changes things and our country needs to be on our knees in prayer,” said the Rev. Allan Campbell , the church’s music minister.

The caucus is separate from the Congressional Prayer Caucus Foundation, a nonprofit that Forbes recently launched to promote prayer by private individuals. Forbes said he spoke for the foundation, not the caucus, when he led a Capitol news conference last March that urged Americans to pray five minutes a week for the nation. The caucus, which has no paid staff, acts as a religious Paul Revere – on watch for challenges to prayer, warning members and arming them with information they can use to fight back.

At Americans United for Separation of Church and State – a group Jones blamed for lawsuits questioning public prayer – the Rev. Barry W. Lynn disputed any need for the caucus. “It was created to give the appearance that if they didn’t protect the right to pray, that right would somehow disappear,” Lynn said. “There’s no war against religion in general or Christianity in this country.”

Credit Bubble Just starting to unwind, Credit-Derivative Insider says. While U.S. borrowers are being blamed for the mess, they were really just pawns

This MSN Money Central story ( describes the melt down going on in the mortgage/housing/credit industry/stock market. Unlike many articles, however, it names those responsible for the current debacle and how the mess came to be. One can only hope that remedial measures are taken as soon as possible to minimize the economic fallout. Given the magnitude of the problem, one would think the GOP and Christianists would be better served worrying about the economy as opposed to having vapors over gay marriage and gays in the military. But then, the GOP's failure to focus on what really counts as opposed to pandering to religious zealots is part of the reason the current mess is about to come crashing down on us all. Here are some story highlights:
I started by asking [Satyajit Das, author of a 4,200-page reference work on the subject] the Calcutta-born Australian whether the credit crisis was in what Americans would call the "third inning." This was pretty amusing, it seemed, judging from the laughter. So I tried again. "Second inning?" More laughter. "First?" Still too optimistic. Das, who knows as much about global money flows as anyone in the world, stopped chuckling long enough to suggest that we're actually still in the middle of the national anthem before a game destined to go into extra innings. And it won't end well for the global economy. He thinks we're on the verge of a bear market of epic proportions. The cause: Massive levels of debt underlying the world economy system are about to unwind in a profound and persistent way.
[H]e foresees hard times as an optimistic era of too much liquidity, too much leverage and too much financial engineering slowly and inevitably deflates. Like an ex-mobster turning state's witness, Das has turned his back on his old pals in the derivatives biz to warn anyone who will listen -- mostly banks and hedge funds that pay him consulting fees -- that the jig is up.
[H]e points a finger at three parties: regulators who stood by as U.S. banks developed ingenious but dangerous ways of shifting trillions of dollars of credit risk off their balance sheets and into the hands of unsophisticated foreign investors; hedge and pension fund managers who gorged on high-yield debt instruments they didn't understand; and financial engineers who built towers of "securitized" debt with math models that were fundamentally flawed. "Defaulting middle-class U.S. homeowners are blamed, but they are merely a pawn in the game," he says. "Those loans were invented so that hedge funds would have high-yield debt to buy."
Here's how it worked: In olden days, like 10 years ago, banks wrote and funded their own loans. In the new game, Das points out, banks "originate" loans, "warehouse" them on their balance sheet for a brief time, then "distribute" them to investors by packaging them into derivatives called collateralized debt obligations, or CDOs, and similar instruments. In this scheme, banks don't need to tie up as much capital, so they can put more money out on loan. The more loans that were sold, the more they could use as collateral for more loans, so credit standards were lowered to get more paper out the door -- a task that was accelerated in recent years via fly-by-night brokers now accused of predatory lending practices. Buyers of these credit risks in CDO form were insurance companies, pension funds and hedge-fund managers from Bonn to Beijing. Because money was readily available at low interest rates in Japan and the United States, these managers leveraged up their bets by buying the CDOs with borrowed funds.
Now it may seem hard to believe, but much of the past few years' advance in the stock market was underwritten by CDO-type instruments which go under the heading of "structured finance." I'm talking about private-equity takeovers, leveraged buyouts and corporate stock buybacks -- the works. So to the extent that the structured finance market is coming undone, not only will those pillars of strength for equities be knocked away, but many recent deals that were predicated on the easy availability of money will likely also go bust, Das says. That is why he considers the current market volatility much more profound than a simple "correction" in prices. He sees it as a gigantic liquidity bubble unwinding -- a process that can take a long, long time.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Final Wednesday Male Beauty

Another Witness Confirms Romney's No-Muslims Comment

How do we say HYPOCRITE? Romney doesn't want anyone to hold his Morman religion against him, yet he does not do the same for Muslims. He's as bad as the typical Christianist who wants carte blanche freedom of religion for them self, but then expects everyone else to have to live by the Christianist's religious views. Here are some quotes from TPMElection Central (

I just got off the phone with another Nevada Republican who confirmed that Mansoor Ijaz's account of Mitt Romney saying he'd nix Muslims in his cabinet is accurate. This is the first person I've spoken to who directly confirmed Ijaz's account of that particular event. The other two Nevada Republicans I spoke with yesterday confirmed that Romney had made very similar remarks at a different, earlier event. "I can tell you that what was reported by Mansoor is accurate," this person said to me. The man, a real estate broker and volunteer in local Republican politics, declined to allow his name to be used. Romney's representation of what happened is at odds with mounting evidence that Ijaz's account is the accurate one.

Giuliani Billed Obscure City Agencies for Trips to Visit Mistress

While I will concede that Giuliani did much to clean up New York as mayor - I remember the bums and homeless flocking around St. Patrick's Cathedral and the Hemsley Palace during the final Dinkins years during the holidays - I do not quite feel that he is trust worthy. We do not need another self-envisioned "cowboy" like the Chimperator as president. It will be interesting to see what comes of these revelations. Visits to one's mistress while still married ought to get some of the Christianists in a dither. here are highlights from Politico (
As New York mayor, Rudy Giuliani billed obscure city agencies for tens of thousands of dollars in security expenses amassed during the time when he was beginning an extramarital relationship with future wife Judith Nathan in the Hamptons, according to previously undisclosed government records. The documents, obtained by Politico under New York’s Freedom of Information Law, show that the mayoral costs had nothing to do with the functions of the little-known city offices that defrayed his tabs, including agencies responsible for regulating loft apartments, aiding the disabled and providing lawyers for indigent defendants.
The expenses first surfaced as Giuliani's two terms as mayor of New York drew to a close in 2001, when a city auditor stumbled across something unusual: $34,000 worth of travel expenses buried in the accounts of the New York City Loft Board. When the city's fiscal monitor asked for an explanation, Giuliani's aides refused, citing "security," said Jeff Simmons, a spokesman for the city comptroller. But American Express bills and travel documents obtained by Politico suggest another reason City Hall may have considered the documents sensitive: They detail three summers of visits to Southampton, the Long Island town where Nathan had an apartment.
Nathan would go on to become Giuliani’s third wife, but his second marriage was officially intact until the spring of 2000, and City Hall officials at the time responded to questions about his absences by saying he was spending time with his son and playing golf. Eight of those trips, however, were not noted on Giuliani's official schedule, which is now available in the city's municipal archive and contains many details of Giuliani's official and unofficial life.
The New York Post reported the following year that Giuliani "had long weekend visits with gal pal Judi Nathan at her Southampton, L.I., condo last summer, according to neighbors who said the mayor did little to conceal their relationship.” The neighbors called their relationship and their time in Nathan's two-bedroom condo overlooking Noyack Bay "an open secret.”

Blackwater Grand Jury Hears Witnesses; Private Lawsuit Filed

Christianist owned mercenary firm Blackwater USA continues to have its legal problems as reported by the Virginian Pilot ( Hopefully, the investigations will continue and those responsible for lawless and brutal conduct toward Iraqi civilians will be held to account. Sadly, I suspect Erik Prince will get off scott free, but one can hope not. On a related note, I do not find it at all comforting to know that some of these steroid pumped security characters are probably loose in this area. Here are some story highlights:
WASHINGTON - A federal grand jury investigating Blackwater Worldwide heard witnesses Tuesday as a private lawsuit accused the government contractor's bodyguards of ignoring orders and abandoning their posts shortly before taking part in a Baghdad shooting that left 17 Iraqi civilians dead. Filed this week in U.S. District Court in Washington, the civil complaint also accuses North Carolina-based Blackwater of failing to give drug tests to its guards in Baghdad — even though an estimated one in four of them was using steroids or other "judgment altering substances."
The lawsuit was filed Monday on behalf of five Iraqis who were killed and two who were injured during the Sept. 16 shooting in Baghdad's Nisoor Square. The shootings enraged the Iraqi government, and the Justice Department is investigating whether it can bring criminal charges in the case, even though the State Department promised limited immunity to the Blackwater guards.
Additionally, the lawsuit notes: "One of Blackwater's own shooters tried to stop his colleagues from indiscriminately firing upon the crowd of innocent civilians but he was unsuccessful in his efforts." The civil complaint offers new details of the incident that has strained relations between the United States and Iraq, which is demanding the right to launch its own prosecution of the Blackwater bodyguards.

The Justice Department says it likely will be months before it decides whether it can prosecute the guards, and it is trying now to pinpoint how many shooters in the Blackwater convoy could face charges. A senior U.S. law enforcement official confirmed Tuesday that government investigators are looking at whether the Blackwater guards were authorized to be in the square at the time of the shooting. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because of the ongoing investigation.
The civil lawsuit does not specify how much money the victims and their families are seeking from Blackwater, its 11 subsidiaries and founder, Erik Prince, all of whom are named as defendants. "We're looking for compensatory (damages) because the people who were killed were the breadwinners in their families," Burke said. "And we're looking for punitive in a manner that suffices to change the corporation's conduct. We have a real interest in holding them accountable for what were completely avoidable deaths."

More Wednesday Male Beauty

Some Evangelicals Changing Attitude Toward AIDS

I am not going to be holding my breath for the time that Evangelical Christians start treating members of the LGBT community as fully human and worthy of their love and understanding. In the meantime, it is encouraging to see that some Evangelicals such as Kay Warren are changing their views on AIDS - perhaps through more exposure to all those infected, including gays, they will start to see our equal humanity. It is always harder to spread hate about those you have interacted with after all. Here are highlights from an MSNBC story (

LOS ANGELES - Kay Warren says five years ago she was a "white suburban mom with a minivan" helping her husband run one of the most influential evangelical churches in the United States and barely aware of the global AIDS crisis. Today, Warren will host the third conference on her church's role in fighting the HIV/AIDS pandemic after a spiritual awakening that rocked her own faith and challenged how the evangelical community responds to what many still regard as a "gay cancer."

More than 50 international speakers -- including the first ladies of Rwanda and Zambia and Democratic presidential contender Hillary Clinton -- will gather at Saddleback Valley Community Church in Southern California on Wednesday for three days to mobilize local churches around the world to help prevent HIV/AIDS and care for its victims.

"This is the passion, the call of my life," said Warren, a quintessential California blue-eyed blonde. She admits that U.S. evangelicals have been "late to the party" on the AIDS issue and castigates the "sinful absence and puny efforts" of her community's past track record. "I see more and more individual churches, pastors and believers who are recognizing that this is what the Bible teaches and that there is nothing strange about it," Warren told Reuters of her campaign.

The Saddleback AIDS initiative is the most controversial in a recent raft of social issues embraced by U.S. evangelicals, who have traditionally favored social conservatism. The Saddleback approach to AIDS sidesteps the thorny issues of sexuality and condom use by focusing on the care and support of victims. The Warrens say the question should be not "How did you get sick?" but "What can I do? How can I help you?" The plan encourages churches around the world to use their grass roots networks to set up testing centers, unleash volunteers, reduce the stigma of being HIV positive and promote "God's standards of behavior."

Some Saddleback members felt uneasy at being urged to care for AIDS sufferers. "They felt that our job was to speak to people's spiritual needs, that the church was about saving souls. I completely disagreed. This is historically at the heart of our Christian faith," she said. Five years on, Warren says she is no longer the comfortable wife, mother and grandmother she once was. "I froth at the mouth a lot. I'm not very much fun at dinner parties because I really want to talk about life and death issues. It is a radically different life," she said.

Wells Fargo to take $1.4 billion charge for bad loans

The hemorrhaging just keeps on flowing. This Yahoo New story ( looks at the both Well Fargo's situation and the larger picture in the housing industry. I hope at some point some serious question begin to be asked about how such risky lending practices were allowed in the first place. Here are some story highlights:

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Wells Fargo & Co (WFC.N), the second-largest U.S. mortgage lender, said on Tuesday it would take a $1.4 billion fourth-quarter charge largely related to losses on home equity loans as the nation's housing market deteriorates. The company, which is also the fifth-largest U.S. bank, said it also was significantly scaling back making home equity loans through brokers, citing a need to tighten lending standards and reduced demand from investors to buy the loans. Wells Fargo said in July it would stop making subprime home loans, which go to people with weaker credit, through brokers.

Wells Fargo said it would put its riskiest $11.9 billion of home equity loans into a "special liquidating portfolio." It expects losses in this portfolio will total $1 billion over 2008 and 2009, and decline over time as loans are repaid. The $11.9 billion represents about 14 percent of the $83.4 billion of home equity loans in Wells Fargo's portfolio, and about 3 percent of total loans outstanding as of September 30. Wells Fargo said it expects the $1.4 billion charge to "adequately cover all losses inherent in its portfolios."

Wells Fargo announced the write-down after Chief Executive John Stumpf projected in a November 15 presentation "elevated" home equity loan losses into 2008. Lamenting that "we have not seen a nationwide decline in housing like this since the Great Depression," he said: "I don't think we're in the ninth inning of unwinding this. If we are, it's an extra-inning game." Citigroup Inc (C.N), Bank of America Corp (BAC.N) and Wachovia Corp (WB.N) are among the many other banks to announce mortgage-related write-downs of $1 billion or more this month. Olson, from Wholesale Access, said: "Real estate values will likely plummet in 2008 and 2009. You don't want any high LTV loans in your portfolio because you'll be under water."

Sadly, many homeowners who bought at the peak of the housing bubble and who put little or no money down on their homes are going to find themselves seriously under water and will not be able to sell their homes for enough to cover their loan payoffs. As another Yahoo News story indicates (;_ylt=Al4YEF.AuC5rBoyIuRL9_Z2s0NUE), home prices are dropping significantly in some markets. I believe the Hampton Roads area will be somewhat insulated due to the continual rotation of military personnel through the market. Other areas will not be so lucky:

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Prices of existing U.S. single-family homes in the third quarter slumped 4.5 percent from a year earlier, matching a record decline from the previous period as the housing downturn deepened, according to a national home price index on Tuesday. The S&P/Case-Shiller National Home Price Index fell 1.7 percent from June, marking the largest quarterly decline in the index's 21-year history, S&P said in a statement.
The quarterly S&P/Case-Shiller index has been falling since the second quarter of 2006 as lenders clamp down on lending to risky borrowers who had depended on home price gains to keep their homes. Rising foreclosures are adding to soaring inventories of unsold homes, depressing prices further. Florida is the hardest hit state, with prices in the Tampa and Miami areas down 11.1 percent and 10 percent respectively over the past year, the indexes show. Home prices around San Diego, California, and economically depressed Detroit, Michigan declined by 9.6 percent over the 12-month period.

Lehman Brothers said the decline in home prices is the start of an extended decline in the market. "We look for home prices to fall well into 2009 as excess inventory is slowly cleared and foreclosed homes return to the market at a discounted price," the company said in commentary published Tuesday. This will translate to a 15 percent decline in national home prices from peak to trough, Lehman Brothers said.

A 15% decline on a $300,000 home equates to a $45,000 price drop. For folks with 100% loans or even 95% loans, the math shows how painful the situation will become for many homeowners .

Wednesday Male Beauty

Nude Warrior Adventure

Via my friend Wayne Besen's weekly column ( I came across this story of yet another bizarre program used by some of the "ex-gay" reparative programs. The story about the program to which gays, among others are referred is detailed in the Houston Press ( and demonstrates both how strange this program (and others) can be and how dangerous it is for untrained, unlicensed individuals to try to undertake change therapy when they have no legitimate training or licensure to do so. Here are highlights from Wayne's column:

A central tenet to "ex-gay" theory is that a male turns gay because of a poor relationship with his father. Under this baseless hypothesis, a sensitive boy perceives paternal disapproval, and as a defensive measure, the child rejects his dad and all things masculine that remind him of the broken relationship. The mother supposedly reinforces the downward spiral by becoming the child's fierce protector.
The circle is complete when the spurned boy rebuffs sports and male peers in school and instead chooses female friends and leisure activities such as playing house.Of course, this quackery ignores that many gay men had terrific relationships with their fathers and have close heterosexual male friends. There are also countless men who had horrendous relationships with their dads and they turned out straight. If a guy wants to become heterosexual, according to ex-gay literature, he must reclaim his masculinity by playing sports and hanging out with heterosexual friends, while they partake in "manly" activities.

Realizing their forte was white-knuckling prayer, not bare-knuckled machismo - several ex-gay organizations began outsourcing to a paramilitary, pseudo-psychological outfit, The ManKind Project. Ex-gay programs, particularly Jews Offering New Alternatives to Homosexuality (JONAH), have aggressively promoted The ManKind Project's New Warrior Training Adventure. This cult-like national program is a $650 weekend boot camp where participants - mostly straight - are greeted by large, intimidating men dressed in dark clothing and faces painted black. During their stay, the men are forced to take cold showers, survive on about four hours sleep, and subsist on very little food. In follow-up meetings, the activities include shaving another man's face, kidnapping a member of another camp group and changing clothes with other men. The idea is to help them get in-touch with their feelings and uncover and heal deep wounds that are barriers to successful lives.

The alternative publication, The Houston Press, uncovered a letter Michael Scinto wrote to the Madison County Texas sheriff's office, just prior to committing suicide allegedly as a result of the boot camp. The Scinto family has filed a lawsuit against The ManKind Project, while the deceased man's letter to the sheriff claims the New Warrior program practiced bizarre rituals that include:

*Blindfolded walking tours in the nude.
*People blowing sage smoke in his face while 50 or so naked men danced around candles.
*Men sitting in a circle discussing their sexual histories while passing a wooden dildo called "The Cock."
*Naked men beating cooked chickens with a hammer.
In the Houston Press article, the wife of one of the men who attended discussed why her husband eventually rejected the group."So, everyone was sitting Indian-style in a big circle in the lodge when the man leading the group said, 'if you wish, you may reach over and grab your brother's dick. If your brother doesn't want your hand there, he can remove it.' Well, my husband told me he just froze. And, from that point on, he just wanted out." The ManKind Project called the allegations false and "vindictive."
The bigger issue, however, is that these are unlicensed men practicing what appears to be a form of therapy. There is the potential to do great damage, particularly to repressed and vulnerable gay men who feel their homosexuality is a shameful sickness that can be cured through male bonding and risky outdoor activities.

As the Houston Press story indicates, in the case of Michael Scinto, he was apparently so damaged by his experience that he ultimately committed suicide, which is the basis for his family's lawsuit against The ManKind Project. Hopefully, Mr. Scinto's family will prevail. I believe only if and when these quack programs are hit with huge monetary judgments will they be forced out of business. Likewise, high profile lawsuits may push legislatures to enact stricter educational and licensing requirements so that programs such as The ManKind Project and assorted wacky "ex-gay" programs are shut down.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

More Tuesday Male Beauty

Last Two Transgender Members On HRC's Business Council Resign

In what I view as a short-sighted hissy fit, the last two transgendered members of HRC's Business Council have resigned. Highlights of their resignation letter are set out below. More information is available on the issue at Pam's House Blend ( For the record, Pam and I do NOT agree on the issue of an all or nothing approach to ENDA and have exchanged arguments with each other. As I have stated numerous times, I am all for transgendered protections (I have transgendered clients), but that does not mean one throws away the chance for LGB protections if a fully inclusive version of ENDA is simply not politically possible at this point in time. Based on 13 years of political activism, I believe that sometimes an incremental approach is the only realistic approach. The fact that Tammy Baldwin pulled her amendment before a potentially devastating vote on the re-addition of transgendered protections could occur speaks volumes to me.
Also, like it or not, HRC has to answer to ALL of its members. The Advocate poll showed that some 67% of those responding supported an incremental approach if that is what was possible as a political reality. By leaving HRC, and starting a new organization, these individuals are very likely setting their cause back further. HRC is a well know commodity in Washington. A new organization will have a whole new learning curve to surmount with legislators. In any event, the following are highlights of the resignation letter:
Recent HRC policy decisions - to actively support a version of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) that excludes our transgender brothers and sisters as well as gender-variant lesbian, gay, and bisexual people - have placed us in an untenable position. On November 8, the day after the ENDA vote in the House of Representatives, we requested an opportunity to meet personally with HRC President Joe Solmonese to share our concerns and to discuss HRC's strategy for addressing recent legislative shortcomings before making a decision to stay or go. As the only transgender representatives on the Business Council our community expects us to have some influence, or at least to receive the courtesy of a consultation. Almost 3 weeks have passed since that request and we have heard nothing in response. This lack of response speaks volumes, so we feel compelled to take this stand today.

We are announcing our resignations from the HRC Business Council, effective immediately. Considering recent broken promises, the lack of credibility that HRC has with the transgender community at large, and HRC's apparent lack of commitment to healing the breach it has caused, we find it impossible to maintain an effective working relationship with the organization.
Since we cannot in good conscience continue these critical efforts in the name of HRC through its Business Council, we will be forming an organization whose sole purpose is to provide ongoing education on transgender issues for businesses, governmental agencies, NGOs, and educational institutions.
I sincerely wish them luck in their new endeavor, even though I believe that they are cutting off their noses to spit their face. The legislative process is often messy, uneven, and requires the taking of what is possible over what is the ultimate goal. Had HRC adopted an all or nothing approach on ENDA, it would no doubt be faced with even larger defections. I for one would have been furious with the HRC leadership had it insisted on an all or none version of ENDA.