Saturday, September 03, 2011

More Saturday Male Beauty

Vatican Lies and Rebukes Ireland Over Sexual Abuse Cover Ups

With the release of each government report in Ireland on the sexual abuse of children and youths by Catholic clergy and in Catholic institutions the same familiar patterns are revealed: utter indifference for the well being of children, deliberate cover ups by members of the Irish Church hierarchy, and directives from Rome to Church disregard legal requirements to report abuse to government authorities. It's the same patterns over and over again. Yet despite its obvious culpability, the Vatican has chosen to try to rebuke the Irish government for calling out the Church's true cesspool like nature. Given the Vatican's unrepentant behavior, one can only hope that the Irish state adopts even more stringent reporting requirements and, better yet, throws some of the lying, corpulent bishops and cardinal behind prison bars. As I have asked before, how can any moral person continue to financially support the Roman Catholic Church and/or continue to be a member of such a foul institution? Here are highlights from the New York Times on the Vatican's outrageous behavior:

VATICAN CITY — In a strong rebuke to the Irish government, the Vatican said Saturday that it had never discouraged Irish bishops from reporting the sexual abuse of minors to the police and dismissed claims that it had undermined efforts to investigate abuse as “unfounded.”

The Vatican also dismissed as “unfounded” a statement by the Irish Parliament that the Vatican’s intervention “contributed to the undermining of the child protection framework and guidelines of the Irish state and Irish bishops.”

The July report, the fourth in a series of scathing Irish government reports into sexual abuse by priests and evidence of a widespread cover-up, found that clergy members in the rural diocese of Cloyne had not acted on complaints against 19 priests from 1996 to as recently as 2009. The guidelines adopted by Irish bishops in 1996 required that abuse cases be reported to the police. The report pointed a finger at Rome for encouraging bishops to ignore the reporting guidelines.

The report cited a confidential letter to the bishops of Ireland from the Vatican ambassador in 1997, in which he said that he had “serious reservations” about the child-protection guidelines, and that they violated canon law.

The Cloyne Report said that letter “effectively gave individual Irish bishops the freedom to ignore the procedures” and “gave comfort and support” to priests who “dissented from the stated Irish church policy.”

The Vatican said Saturday that the letter had been misinterpreted. . . . The Vatican also dismissed as “unsubstantiated” Mr. Kenny’s assertions that the Vatican had tried to “frustrate an inquiry” into the sexual abuse scandal.

Deputy Prime Minister Eamon Gilmore, who also is foreign minister, described the Vatican response as “legalistic and technical,” and said he held firm to the view that the Vatican had interfered in the affairs of a sovereign, democratic state. The 1997 letter, he said in a statement, “provided a pretext for some to avoid full cooperation with the Irish civil authorities.”

Terrance McKiernan, the president of Bishop Accountability, which monitors sexual abuse cases in the Catholic Church, said that the Vatican’s response “shows that the Vatican is still in denial.”

Irish government investigations have found that thousands of children were abused in state-run Catholic boarding schools from the 1930s to the 1990s. dioceses often moved predatory priests to new posts where they continued to abuse children, the government found, rather than turn them over to the police.

The Irish Parliament is now debating a controversial law that would make failure to report allegations of abuse to civil authorities punishable with jail time.

Like other modern day Pharisees, if Benedict XVI's lips are moving, the best bet is that he's lying. The continued repeating of lies may have worked in his days as a Hitler Youth, but I suspect that in Ireland the populace has belatedly awakened to the true hypocrisy and nastiness that are the main attributes of the Church hierarchy.

Anti-Gay History Referendum Effort Faces Long Ballot Odds

As noted previously, the hate merchants of the Christian Right have launched an effort to gather enough signatures to repeal California's FAIR Education Act that mandates that the achievements and positive contributions of LGBT individuals - e.g., individuals like Michelangelo - be recognized and included in the state's public school history curriculum. Nothing undermines the false picture of LGBT individuals promoted by "family values" organizations and professional Christians quicker than having students know true and accurate history. Hence the hysteria against the FAIR Education Act. A San Francisco Chronicle article looks at the likelihood that the effort to repeal the legislation - the good news is that it looks like the opponents will be fighting an uphill battle. Here are some excerpts:

At churches, shopping centers, schools, and local tea party meetings in California, fired-up volunteers have started gathering signatures for a ballot referendum that would repeal the nation's first law requiring public schools to include prominent gay people and gay rights' milestones in school lessons.

Organizers of the Stop SB48 campaign_ Senate Bill 48 was the law approved by the California Legislature and signed by Gov. Jerry Brown in July — are telling would-be voters the new mandate would inappropriately expose young children to sex, infringe on parental rights and silence religion-based criticisms of homosexuality. Those are talking points successfully used by proponents of Proposition 8, the 2008 ballot measure that banned same-sex marriage in California.

But so far, Mormon and Catholic church leaders and conservative groups who spearheaded the Proposition 8 campaign have not joined the effort to qualify the gay history referendum for the June 2012 ballot, leaving less-experienced Christian conservatives to lead the charge without the organizational prowess and funding to hire paid signature gatherers. Political operatives say they can't recall any citizens' initiative that made the state ballot without professional petition circulators in almost three decades.

Supporters have until Oct. 12 to collect 504,760 signatures from registered voters to qualify the measure for the ballot. Conventional wisdom among political consultants is that it will be difficult to meet the requirement with such a short window and only volunteers.

Still, no one is ready to write off the repeal attempt, especially if a donor steps up in the next few weeks to fund professional petitioners. If ever there was a measure that could galvanize the electorate, it's one dealing with gay rights and school children.

The new law takes effect Jan.1 but state education officials say it is unlikely to be fully implemented until at least the 2015-16 school year. It adds lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender people, as well as European Americans and people with disabilities to the lengthy list of social and ethnic groups whose "roles and contributions" California public schools must include in California and U.S. history lessons and teaching materials such as textbooks.

The law also prohibits any instructional materials that "reflect adversely" on gays or particular religions. Because of the state's budget straits, the California Department of Education's timeline for adopting new textbooks has been pushed back until 2015. The work of revising the history and social studies curriculum framework that determines what students learn and at what grades has been suspended until further notice.

The group organizing the petition drive is the Capitol Resource Institute, a nonprofit organization that has fought gay rights bills, including measures that recognized slain gay rights leader Harvey Milk's birthday. Three years ago, the institute unsuccessfully attempted to qualify a referendum that would have overturned a law prohibiting discrimination in schools based on sexual orientation.

Like so many of the "family values" organizations, in addition to spewing religious based hatred, Capitol Resource Institute's main purpose is to provide a steady income to its paid staff. In the furtherance of that goal, no lie is to big and no anti-gay myth is too disgusting. It's all about money and promoting special rights for Christianists.

Saturday Male Beauty

Jon Huntsman - He's No Moderate, But He's Not Crazy

Watching the current line up of GOP presidential contenders is dismaying for anyone who places value on intellect and reasoned thought. Romney is try to "out Gore" Al Gore's disastrous campaign in 2000 where Gore seemed to be someone different at every event as he tried to please everyone all of the time and ended up looking like he believed in nothing. Meanwhile, Perry, Bachmann and Santorum are clinically insane in my view. That leaves Jon Huntsman as the lone non-crazy person who may actually have some central beliefs. His sanity inaccurately makes him look moderate compared to the fire breathing Bible beaters - something that makes him unacceptable to the untethered elements that now dominate the GOP party base. A piece in American Conservative has an interesting profile of Huntsman that underscores his strong conservatism, but also underscores his rational approach to issues. In particular, he seems to understand the changing global economy and the fact that the USA must change its game plan to remain a leading word power. Retreating into a quasi-Medieval mindset which rejects science as espoused by Perry and Bachmann is not the solution. Here are some article highlights (I recommend reading the whole lengthy article):

HANOVER, NH—Jon Huntsman walked out of the rear door of a Dartmouth auditorium. His head swiveled as he looked for the black SUV that will take him to his next stop. He had just given a speech emphasizing his claim that the future of America will not be decided on a battlefield in remotest Afghanistan but along the trade routes of the Pacific. The applause had barely died down in the hall as Huntsman exited into the quiet streets of Hanover. He took one second to sigh. He had just launched “Phase Two” of his campaign, and it was a success.

The reboot couldn’t come fast enough. Huntsman had made no dent in the polls since his launch in June. Instead, the avalanche of prestige media mash-notes to his campaign had the effect of raising expectations ridiculously high and smothering him with the labels “soft” and “moderate” in an era when Tea-caffeinated primary voters are looking for “hard” and “right.”

Huntsman may be uncomfortable in the ideological sweathouse that is the conservative movement. He may be diplomatic when the right is dyspeptic. But his candidacy offers conservatives two very tantalizing possibilities: a break with the Bush legacy on foreign policy and the chance to move their policy prescriptions off the Tea Party’s placards and into the center of our political debate. Huntsman’s record shows that conservative politics can triumph not just through conflict but also by concord.

But for now he has to win by making contrasts. At Dartmouth he had two objectives: define his mission and define his opponents, all while maintaining his genial image. “I’m driven to run for president… because I can’t stand the thought that we’re about ready to hand down the greatest nation that ever was to your generation less good, less competitive, saddled with debt, less hopeful than the country I got,” he said to the crowd. Mission one accomplished.

Huntsman can’t check the whole list, it’s true. He has Barack Obama’s 2008 position on gay rights: he is for same-sex civil unions but not marriage. He has John McCain’s latest position on immigration: he supports comprehensive reform and a path to citizenship for illegal aliens—conservatives call this amnesty—but he demands that the border be secured first. Yet the means to do that don’t excite him. He told a town-hall audience recently, “I mean, for me, as an American, the thought of a fence to some extent repulses me, because it is not consistent with … the image that we projected from the very beginning to the rest of the world.”
Huntsman also riled conservatives on some environmental issues. He has praised Nixon’s creation of the EPA.

Huntsman has reason to think his record compares favorably with those of his rivals. Unlike Romney, Huntsman’s state healthcare reform achieved more insurance coverage for residents without resorting to an individual mandate. Huntsman has never argued that he was more pro-choice than Ted Kennedy, as Romney did in his 1994 Senate race. And while Rick Perry’s Texas has 38 percent of all new American jobs created during the anemic recovery, the unemployment rate in Lone Star State has actually gone up. Because so many of the new jobs are low-wage, Texas’s debt has actually doubled under Perry. Huntsman’s Utah attracted larger companies and higher-paying jobs that helped the state recover from the recession more quickly than almost any other. The suspected RINO Huntsman passed Utah’s largest ever tax cut. Perry, who is casting himself as the beau ideal of the right, voted for Texas’s largest ever tax hike in the 1980s when he was an elected Democrat.

But where Huntsman really contrasts with his opponents is on foreign policy. . . . Huntsman isn’t about withdrawing from the world stage but reorienting our policy: “Why do we have so many military bases in Japan, we’re half a century after World War II? Why so many in Germany? Does it make sense for America to remain in these places?” Huntsman believes that other candidates are kidding themselves if they think defense budgets should be off the table when discussing the nation’s overspending.

Huntsman is most anxious about changing the mission in Afghanistan, America’s longest war. In a recent speech he leveled with the crowd: “It’s time to recognize the reality of what we’re up against in Afghanistan. It isn’t a nation-building exercise, it’s counter-terror [that we need],” he said, “You don’t need 100,000 boots on the ground and the expenses that it carries. You need intelligence-gathering capability, a special-forces presence, and help training the Afghan-national troops.”

When Huntsman brings back the subject of China, he finds his ground quickly. Does the Chinese government—which unlike the Soviet Union has been able to combine central planning with explosive growth—represent an ideological rival to the United States? “No,” he says, “If you disaggregate their current system you’d be hard pressed to say there is a driving ideology besides growth and success.” China believes it has a model that works for China and may work for other emerging countries, he says, but not for us.

He also contends that social and economic trends in China are coming to an extremely delicate moment. 500 million Internet users are online there, inflation rises, and at the next Party Congress nearly 65 percent of its 200 leaders are turning over. “It’s potentially incendiary,” Huntsman says. His campaign people constantly stress the importance of getting American policy in China right. “In last century you wanted a president who really understood Europe and Soviet Union,” says Ayres, “Now we need someone who understands China, India, Asia.”

But the challenge for Huntsman is whether the electorate can abide self-reflection and self-criticism. There is something deeper that undergirds Huntsman’s campaign rhetoric. It’s hinted at when he says that empires fall due to a “diminution in values at home,” or when he says he is running for president in part because his generation is about to hand over a country that is “less good” than the one they inherited. These are the words of a man who believes his country has grown decadent and soft. Without the rest of the stump speech to cushion them, they are startling to hear from a presidential candidate.

For Huntsman, the factionalism of our politics isn’t the sign of zealous conviction, but of insecurity. Promiscuous intervention abroad isn’t a sign of strength, but of national aimlessness and weakness. Perhaps the hard truth is that America’s deformed policies are a reflection of a deformed character.

Of course, the unspoken converse is that good leadership and good policy would have an invigorating effect on the national soul, and that is where Huntsman hopes to make his appeal. He couldn’t help but touch on these themes in his address to the College Republicans in Washington. “I don’t want you to become disillusioned,” he said, “I want you to believe in the system. Your generation is going to be part of the fix.”

Huntsman’s goals are less lofty. He sets policy not from above the human pile but from across the same table. He promises not transcendence but consensus. This is a modest vision of politics that makes the words conservative and moderate seem fresh again—and compatible. Now it’s up to the professionals to sell that on a bumper sticker.

I worry about Huntsman on social issues, but on many issues, I suspect he's right. In many ways he makes more sense that anyone else, including the current occupant of the White House.

New poll: majority of North Carolinians Oppose Anti-Gay Marriage Amendment

To date the state of North Carolina has resisted the efforts of the Christofascists to enact an anti-gay marriage amendment. Nonetheless, now the North Carolina Republicans - in full self prostitution to the hate merchant allies among the Christianists (many of whom use anti-gay hysteria as a money making cash cow) - are putting on a push to write bigotry and discrimination into the North Carolina constitution. The good news is that new polls show that a majority of North Carolina's residents oppose the measure. Unfortunately, those who support equality and a separation of church and state are less driven that those motivated by religious extremism and hatred of others. Thus, voter turn out will be critical if the measure makes it to the ballot box. Here are some highlights from Pam's House Blend on the new poll results:

I hope the elected proponents of bigotry are taking note as the short session nears in North Carolina’s General Assembly. Via Equality NC:

Fifty-six percent (56%) of North Carolina voters oppose or strongly oppose an amendment to the state constitution that would ban same-sex marriage, a five-point jump in the last two years, according to a February 2011 Elon University Poll, a non-partisan polling service.

The poll also showed a strong majority (57%) of North Carolinians support marriage or civil unions for same-sex couples, revealing a dramatic 9% increase in public support for marriage equality in only two years. This result mirrors two separate polls conducted by Public Policy Polling in March and July that also reveal majority support of legal recognitions for same-sex couples.

And what about opponents of equality? You may not be surprised that they cling to one poll that is carefully crafted to avoid language that THEY KNOW is a loser for them. The lying liars brigade…

The unbiased Elon polling data aligns with two additional North Carolina polls from Public Policy Polling and six national polls released in 2011, while also countering recent assertions from anti-gay amendment supporters like the N.C. Values Coalition’s Tami Fitzgerald, who have pointed to a single poll from the conservative Civitas Institute in Raleigh, which says “a large majority” of North Carolina voters support holding a vote to rewrite the state constitution to define marriage as only between a man and a woman. However, the right-wing think tank’s poll uses misleading language to falsely inflate support for Senate Bill 106, the most extreme version of two proposed bills being considered.

By its wording, Civitas carefully avoids telling voters that this type of revision to the state’s founding document would also ban civil union and domestic partnerships, legal recognitions which most North Carolina voters surveyed by Elon University and Public Policy Polling do support.

In fact, the Civitas query purposefully leaves out many of the amendment’s most apparent harms, including:

** not only banning marriage to same-sex couples, as state statute already does, but also prohibiting any other form of relationship recognition, such as civil unions or domestic partnerships.
** stripping public benefits for same-sex partners of city and county employees and potentially jeopardizing private benefits such as health insurance for same-sex couples, unmarried opposite-sex couples, and their children; and
** removing even the most basic protections currently available to same-sex couples, as well as challenging private contracts between these couples.

Newspapers across the state, large and small, have published editorials opposing the amendment. It’s no surprise either. With unemployment high, and a state budget in crisis, it’s offensive to anyone in the reality-based community that the Republicans who claimed they had some sort of mandate in 2010 to get people back to work, are wasting so much precious time and effort to foment institutionalized bigotry.

The incessant dishonesty of those who wear religion on their sleeves yet have hatred of others as their principal stock in trade is amazing. Once again the term modern day Pharisees springs to mind.

Friday, September 02, 2011

Friday Male Beauty

Mistrial Declared in Larry King Murder Case

Brandon McInerney shot Larry King in the back of the head in front of numerous witnesses yet jurors in California deadlocked 7 to 5 in favor of voluntary manslaughter, so a mistrial was declared. It's a sad commentary on how little the lives of LGBT citizens matter in the United States. If the jury could not convict McInerney for murder, manslaughter ought to have been a no brainer. At least unless one holds the Christianist mind set that the only good faggot is a dead faggot. Tony Perkins, Bryan Fischer, Maggie Gallagher and similar anti-gay hate merchants must be smiling on this outcome.It's frightening to know how little one's life means in this country if your are LGBT. It literally sickens me. The Los Angeles Times has coverage on this travesty and here are highlights:

The trial of a middle school student who shot and killed a gay classmate during a morning computer lab ended in a mistrial Thursday when jurors said that after 17 hours of deliberations they could not agree whether to convict Brandon McInerney.

The parents of victim Larry King, Greg and Dawn King, stormed from the courtroom with other relatives, even as the judge was still addressing the jurors.

McInerney was 14 when he walked into a morning computer lab at E.O. Green Junior High, pulled a .22-caliber handgun from his backpack, put the gun to Larry King's head and pulled the trigger twice. King was 15.

But jurors universally rejected the prosecution's contention that the shooting was a hate crime carried out by a youth filled with white supremacist beliefs and a hatred for homosexuals, Wippertsaid.

During the trial, McInerney's attorneys presented what prosecutors called a "gay panic" defense, arguing that the teenager was driven to violence by King's repeated sexual taunts. They also called to the stand teachers who testified that campus administrators turned a blind eye to the tensions King was creating on campus with his flamboyant dress and behavior.

After the mistrial was declared and jurors left the room, McInerney turned and smiled at his family. When he spotted his former girlfriend, Samantha Cline, sitting in a back row, he threw her a kiss. And then he was taken away by sheriff's deputies.

Excuse me while I go vomit!

Can the USA Learn From Argentina?

Admittedly, since the beginning of the 20th century when it was one of the wealthiest nations on earth Argentina has not exactly been exemplar of sound fiscal and government policies. But over the last decade, Argentina - which is light years ahead of the USA on delivering full legal equality to its LGBT citizens and pushing religion out of the civil laws - seemingly has learned from its past disasters and is moving toward prosperity by employing exactly the opposite policies now championed by the GOP demagogues and the Tea Party/Christianist mental cases. Could the USA learn from a country long considered a basket case? It would seem so - not that America ever seems to want to admit that other nations might have ideas and policies that it might be wise to emulate. An op-ed in the New York Times looks at the last decade in Argentina (Argentine President Kirchner is pictured above) and how the USA seems headed 180 degrees in the opposite direction. Here are some excerpts:

ARGENTINA may seem like one of the last countries on earth to offer lessons for dealing with economic malaise. Once the eighth-largest economy in the world, it steadily slid through the 20th century, thanks to decades of repressive dictatorships and inconsistent market experiments.

That, at least, is the Argentina people know. Since then, it has performed an economic U-turn — an achievement largely unnoticed outside Latin America, but one that President Obama and Congress should look to for inspiration.

Argentina is not without problems, but its recent economic record speaks for itself: the economy has grown by over 6 percent a year for seven of the last eight years, unemployment has been cut to under 8 percent today from over 20 percent in 2002, and the poverty level has fallen by almost half over the last decade.

Argentina has regained its prosperity partly out of dumb luck: a commodity price boom has vastly benefitted this soy, corn and wheat producer. But it has also prospered thanks to smart economic measures. The government intervened to keep the value of its currency low, which boosts local industry by making Argentina’s exports cheaper abroad while keeping foreign imports expensive. It then taxed those imports and exports, using the money to pay for a New Deal-like public works binge, increasing government spending to 25 percent of G.D.P. today from 14 percent in 2003.

It has also strengthened its social safety net: the Universal Child Allowance, started in 2009 with support from both the ruling party and the opposition, gives 1.9 million low-income families a monthly stipend of about $42 per child, which helps increase consumption.

The results have also paid off politically: President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner recently won about 50 percent of the vote in an open primary against nine other presidential candidates.

Why have Argentines embraced bigger government? In part because the preceding era showed how poorly austerity measures — the sort now being pushed by conservatives in the United States — promote growth.

Of course, Argentina is far from perfect: . . . . But Argentina still offers valuable lessons. For one thing, extreme cost-cutting during a stagnant economic period will only inhibit growth. And government spending to promote local industry, pro-job infrastructure programs and unemployment benefits does not turn a country into a kind of Soviet parody. It puts money in the pockets of average citizens, who then spend it and spur the economy.

Argentina is hardly a perfect parallel for the United States. But the stark difference between its austere policies and low growth of the late 1990s and the pro-government, high-growth 2000s offers a test case for how to get an economy moving again. Washington would do well to pay attention.

Will the USA learn anything from Argentina? I doubt it. Just like the USA's military thought it could "win" in Afghanistan even though no power has done so in 2,000 years, I suspect the USA will continue failed policies that will only make the economy worse.

Signs of Obama’s Grim Re-Election Prospects

The thought of any of the leading Republican presidential candidates occupying the White House come January 2013 is down right terrifying. Indeed, emigrating from the USA might even look like a great pretty great idea if faced with Rick Perry as president and a GOP controlled Congress. Were that to happen, American might be well on the road to a Christianist version of Iran under Islamic extremists. Yet the re-election prospects of Barack Obama are not all that glowing if the economy continues to languish and there is a general sense among voters that things, while still bad, are not improving. I would argue that some of Obama's problems are self-inflicted due to his refusal to act as a leader. Not to mention his continually allowing himself to be rolled by extremists in the GOP. A new piece in Time looks at Obama's re-election prospects and it's not pretty. Here are some highlights:

[T]he Obama team is taking [solace] from the historical examples of Franklin Roosevelt and Ronald Reagan, each of whom won re-election at a time of high unemployment. The idea keeping chins up in the West Wing is that an incumbent president who can credibly argue that things are getting better (and that the other party will make them worse) stands a reasonable chance of surviving a bad economy.

The theory makes sense. And the public is still wary of Republican economic policies. But it’s going to be awfully tough for Obama to make the case for steady improvement under his watch. That became clearer than ever on Thursday, with the latest gloomy economic projections by the White House’s Office of Management and Budget. The OMB now expects unemployment to average 9% next year, higher than it had previously envisioned, and to stay above seven percent until 2015.

I suppose there’s still time for the economy to start turning the corner in a way that benefits Obama. But there’s still plenty of reason to think things might get worse before they get better, including the seeming Gordian knot of the Euro Zone’s financial crisis, which drags on the global economy and keeps the risk of a 2008-style economic catastrophe hovering in the minds of investors.

If the OMB projection is right, then, and bear in mind that official economic projections have consistently been too rosy since the great crash of 2008, the economy is likely to feel about as stagnant a year from now as it does today. That means the argument that the economy is improving will ring hollow

Which leaves Obama with the negative case, the argument that Republican policies got us into this mess and will only make things worse. . . . . Obama and the Democrats tried that message in the fall of 2010, and it wasn’t nearly enough to save them. The haunting question for Obama is why 2012 will be any different.

Thursday, September 01, 2011

More Thursday Male Beauty

New Jersey's Christie Slams Eric Cantor on Holding Disaster Relief Funds Hostage

Slime ball - or perhaps douche bag is a better term - Virginia GOP Congressman Eric Cantor continues to be an embarrassment to Virginia - if not the human race in general - and has made statements that no disaster relief funds to aid the victims of Hurricane Irene should be released unless and until budget cuts are made to pay for them. Cantor's photo ought to literally be in the dictionary next to the word hypocrite. Under the misrule of Chimperator Bush, Cantor so much as emitted a whisper in opposition to Bush/Cheney regimes gross deficit spending on the fool's errand in Iraq and the botched mission in Afghanistan. Yet now, Cantor wants to leave U.S. citizens who homes and businesses were ravaged by Hurricane Irene to fend for themselves. Apparently, the critical fact is that the recipients of such aid would be ordinary citizens and small business owners as opposed to government contractors like Halliburton which are raping and over charging the U.S. government and military. None of this is sitting well with GOP New Jersey Governor Chris Christie who is beyond pissed off at Cantor. Here are highlights from the New Jersey Examiner:

As New Jersey and several states along the East Coast continue to access the damage done in the wake of Hurricane Irene, Governor Chris Christie is taking exception with the latest move by Republicans in Washington, DC. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA7) stated on Wednesday that hurricane relief will be offset by other federal spending cuts. Essentially allowing politics to overtake common decency at a time when dollars and prices should not be over examined as millions suffer.

As Christie stated, after learning of the move by the Republicans leaders in Congress, “We don’t have time to wait for folks in Congress to figure out how they want to offset this stuff with other budget cuts. Our people are suffering now. They need support now. They can all get down there and get back to work and figure out the budget cuts later. But we need the support now in New Jersey. That’s not either a Republican or a Democratic issue.”

Christie was backed by U.S. Senator Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ), who also uttered, "If Republicans want to block disaster relief, they will feel the wrath of everyday people."

The rhetoric that has taken place in both Washington and Trenton should be put aside in times of need when people are no longer Democrats and Republicans, but Americans. One would hope that Republicans put aside their opposition to nothing but cuts to allow a little spending to save lives and repair several states. Chris Christie proved at least today that he is willing to put his state before his party. Others in the GOP might want to follow the man some in the party want to see run in 2012.

Cantor clearly cares about nothing other than his own self-promotion and kissing up to the nastiest elements of the Tea party. Folks in his district need to send Cantor his walking papers come November, 2012.

Florida Republicans Fight to Keep Cohabitation Illegal

I've argued over and over again that the Christianist agenda targets much more than LGBT citizens. Indeed, the Christianist/Republican agenda targets all form so sexual morality not in keeping with supposed Biblical dictates - other than the dictate against divorce which is utterly ignored, particularly in Southern states and includes such things as contraception, sex involving anything other than the so-called missionary position, and cohabitation a/k/a fornication in Virginia. Many in the general public do not want to admit just how much their civil liberties are at risk should the Christianist/GOP candidates gain control of the executive and legislative branches of government. Yet Florida offers a glimpse of the religious extremist world that these opponents of religious freedom would usher in if allowed to do so. Here are highlights from Think Progress on the raging batshitery in Florida:

Thousands of unmarried couples who are living together in Florida may be surprised to learn that they are actually breaking the law. Under outdated and rarely enforced state laws that have been on the books since the late 1800s, “cohabitation” is actually a second-degree misdemeanor, punishable by $500 or up to 60 days in jail.

[O]ne Florida Republican is commendably trying to repeal these irrelevant laws — only to be met with mass opposition from his fellow Republicans including Gov. Rick Scott (R). These social conservatives won’t support his effort to finally legalize a common practice and would prefer that official condemnation of couples “living in sin” stay enshrined in state law.

Cohabitation, especially among young couples, has become an increasing trend in recent years. The number of unmarried couples living together increased tenfold from 1960 to 2000, the U.S. Census says. It’s a practice that’s often derided by social conservatives, who fear that it is replacing traditional marriage.

However, maintaining the legal option of throwing these couples in jail seems a tad over-the-top, not to mention tragically out of touch with the reality of millions of Americans.

Exchange the Bible for the Koran and the Christian Taliban is just as extreme and dangerous to the civil rights of citizens as the Islamic Taliban about whom the Christianists love to rant on an incessant basis. Both mindsets are in opposition to modernity and individual liberty.

Thursday Male Beauty

Is Bob McDonnell Allowing the Family Foundation to Direct Virginia's Abortion Policies?

Think Progress has a troubling piece that links new anti-abortion regulations directly to The Family Foundation, an insidious Christianist organization that is the principal puppeteer of the Republican Party of Virginia. It turns out that the deputy secretary of health and human resources for Virginia who will lead the office that will interpret the regulations is none other than Matt Cobb, husband of religious extremist and theocrat Victoria Cobb who heads up the Family Foundation. While Bob "Taliban Bob" McDonnell may be trying to posture himself as a possible vice presidential pick for the GOP, Cobb's involvement in the department of health and human services suggest that Christianist extremism rather than competence is McDonnell's guiding principle in political appointments. Here are highlights from Think Progress:

Last week Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) released harsh new anti-abortion regulations that could shut down the state’s exisiting abortion clinics. Now the Huffington Post is reporting there may have been a conflict of interest in McDonnell’s administration over the regulations. Matt Cobb, deputy secretary of health and human resources, helps lead the office that will interpret the regulations. He is also married to Victoria Cobb, a prominent anti-abortion lobbyist in the state who has spent years lobbying for clinic regulations like the ones just released.

Tarina Keene, executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Virginia, told the Huffington Post that Matt Cobb sat in on meetings discussing the regulations with her and her colleagues: “People who have been dealing with these issues find it odd that he’s in those meetings about the regulations,” Keene told HuffPost. “I find it really intriguing to think that the premiere anti-abortion advocate is basically married to the person who’s now in charge of implementing the clinic regulations, and he’s involved every step of the way.” [...]

this is not about safety, it’s about politics,” said Jill Abbey, who oversees four clinics in Virginia, which she says would not be able to operate under the new regulations.

The regulations come after McDonnell signed SB 924 into law, which requires all clinics in Virginia performing first-trimester abortions to be regulated like hospitals.

I'm not a fan of abortion, but I am very troubled that Victoria Cobb - perhaps one of the leading hate merchants in Virginia - has this inside track to health and human services. Taliban Bob, WTF are you doing?

Dana Milbank Trashes Rick Perry's Extremism

It seems with each passing day - perhaps each passing hour - more coverage of GOP presidential candidate Rick Perry's batshit craziness and extremism is flooding the media. For example, Ruth Marcus has a column in the Washington Post that's more than a bit frightening in terms of what is discloses about Perry. But so far perhaps the most pointed view of Perry has come from Dana Milbank who is usually fairly reserved. Not so in a column also in the Washington Post that rightly savages Perry and puts his far out of the mainstream extremism on full view. Equally disturbing, of course, is the fact that Perry now largely embodies what it is to be a Republican in this day and age. I'm not a Democrat, but I certainly cannot be a Republican in this day where the open embrace of ignorance, religious bigotry, and hatred of others are the principal GOP hallmarks regardless of what efforts are made to hide that reality. Here are highlights from Milbank's column:

A s my Post colleague Perry Bacon reported in detail this week, Rick Perry has jettisoned the “compassion” that sometimes leavened the conservatism of his predecessor in the Texas governor’s mansion.

If Perry’s style resembles anybody’s in George W. Bush’s White House, in fact, it is that of former vice president Dick Cheney, whose just-published memoir, “In My Time,” might as well have been titled “Right Every Time (Even Though I Was Surrounded by Idiots).” Think of Perry as Bush without the charm.

Perry is passionately anti-government, or at least anti-this-government. But the man who suddenly tops the Republican presidential polls is no libertarian. Rick Perry is a theocrat.

By his own account, he is a cultural warrior, seeking to save marriage, Christmas and the Boy Scouts from liberals, gay people and moral relativism.
His latest treatise, the Tea-Party-inspired “Fed Up!,” touches only briefly on matters such as abortion and gay marriage. For an eyeful of the full Perry, crack his 2008 book, “On My Honor.” While the rest of the political world was reading Cheney’s attacks on Colin Powell, I read about Perry’s attacks on gay scoutmasters. In the book’s most talked-about passage, he likens homosexuality to alcoholism.

Perry’s politics are religious in a way not seen before in modern-day mainstream presidential candidates. . . . . Perry has no use for those who “want to recognize Jesus as a good teacher, but nothing more.”

The governor forecasts divine punishment for those who hold different political views. “Shall they stand before God and brag that they fought to scrub His glorious name from the nation’s pledge?” he asks. “Shall they seek His approval for attacking private organizations merely because these organizations proclaim His existence?”

In a series of hoary bromides, the supposedly libertarian Perry condemns the “litigious advocates of licentious behavior” (that’s the ACLU) and informs us that “Sometimes the rules must protect society at large at the expense of individual expression when that expression is deemed harmful to others and society at large.”

Among the things Perry “deems” harmful: universities (students “have been taught that corporations are evil, religion is the opiate of the masses, and morality is relative”); human rights commissions (“often nothing more than a front for attacking institutions that teach traditional values”); and evolution (he says “the weight of evidence” supports intelligent design). Perry polishes the old “war on Christmas” chestnut and finds a way to cast Mitt Romney (now his rival for the nomination) as a defender of gay scoutmasters.

Though he speaks now as a small-government conservative, Perry argues in his book: “We are close to a tipping point in American society. If you believe there is right and wrong, that there are acceptable standards of behavior . . . then you have a stake in this war. If the attackers win many more victories . . . the culture war may be lost before we know it.

Exchange the Bible for the Koran and Perry doesn't sound too different from the Taliban and those Muslims alleged to be pushing for Sharia law.

New Jersey Anti-Bullying Law Kicks In Today

Just about all of us have been bullied at some point in school. I know I certainly experienced being called a fag and other anti-gay epithets even as I tried to desperately through my teens and long thereafter to convince myself that"it wasn't really true." And I certainly contemplated suicide many, many times although I did not actively pursue that "solution" until many years later. No one should have to withstand daily abuse and bullying in the nation's public schools. Here in Virginia, anti-bullying statutes are a joke and school administrators and staff feel totally free to turn their backs on victims of bullying and do nothing because there are no real consequences. New Jersey has decided on a far different approach under a new law that becomes effective today. There's a great deal of whining going on as reported in the New York Times and all too typically, school administrators are balking at the new requirements and complaining that they don't have funding for anti-bullying training. I'm sorry, but I have little sympathy for such complaints and had school personnel been doing their jobs to protect all students in the first place, the law would have been unnecessary. The message to administrators, teachers, coaches and students is simple: bullying will not be tolerated and that there will be severe consequences for those who fail to back the policy. Perhaps New Jersey has gone too far, but it's a far better approach than Virginia's do nothing approach. Here are highlights from the Times story:

Under a new state law in New Jersey, lunch-line bullies in the East Hanover schools can be reported to the police by their classmates this fall through anonymous tips to the Crimestoppers hot line. . . . And at North Hunterdon High School, students will be told that there is no such thing as an innocent bystander when it comes to bullying: if they see it, they have a responsibility to try to stop it.

But while many parents and educators welcome the efforts to curb bullying both on campus and online, some superintendents and school board members across New Jersey say the new law, which takes effect Sept. 1, reaches much too far, and complain that they have been given no additional resources to meet its mandates. The law, known as the Anti-Bullying Bill of Rights, is considered the toughest legislation against bullying in the nation.

it demands that all public schools adopt comprehensive antibullying policies (there are 18 pages of “required components”), increase staff training and adhere to tight deadlines for reporting episodes.

Each school must designate an antibullying specialist to investigate complaints; each district must, in turn, have an antibullying coordinator; and the State Education Department will evaluate every effort, posting grades on its Web site. Superintendents said that educators who failed to comply could lose their licenses.

The law also requires districts to appoint a safety team at each school, made up of teachers, staff members and parents, to review complaints. It orders principals to begin an investigation within one school day of a bullying episode, and superintendents to provide reports to Trenton twice a year detailing all episodes. Statewide, there were 2,846 such reports in 2008-9, the most recent year for which a total was available.

Even districts that have long made antibullying programs a priority are preparing to step up their efforts, in response to the greater reporting demands. “This gives a definite timeline,” the Westfield superintendent, Margaret Dolan, said, noting the new one-day requirement. “Before, our rule was you need to do it as quickly as possible.”

But Dr. Dolan cautioned that an unintended consequence of the new law could be that students, or their parents, will find it easier to label minor squabbles bullying than to find ways to work out their differences.

No system will be perfect, but it's far past time that abusive students - and their often equally bigoted parents - cease having a license to make the lives of others a living Hell.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

More Wednesday Male Beauty

New Survey: Anti-Gay Bigotry of Churches Is Alienating The Millennial Generation

I've noted before that the stridency and anti-gay hysteria of the anti-gay Christian Right is likely to increase as the generational shifts make it more and more evident that the Christianists are losing the larger culture war against LGBT Americans. The other trend is that the Public Religion Research Institute found via a new study is that as the Christian Right becomes more strident in its anti-gay jihad, Millennials by a 7 out of 10 majority agree that religious groups are alienating young people from religion and Christianity. In short, those who wear their religion on their sleeves incessantly and make a mockery of the true Gospel message are turning those between 18 and 29 to reject religion - or at least organized religion - because of its obvious hate and mockery of true the supposed true Christian message as enunciated by Christ according to the Gospels. One can only hope that those who hold themselves out as the protectors of Christianity will lead to its death -or at least the virulent form promoted by the Christianists. Here are some of the survey findings:

The Millennial generation (age 18 to 29) is transforming the landscape on gay and lesbian issues in American religion, politics and society, the Millennials, Religion & Gay and Lesbian Issues Survey finds. There is at least a 20-point generation gap between Millennials and seniors (age 65 and older) on every public policy measure in the survey concerning rights for gay and lesbian people - a trend that persist even among conservative political and religious groups such as Republicans and white evangelical Protestants.

The generation gap in support for same-sex marriage is striking and persists even among conservative political and religious groups.

Nearly half (49%) of Republican Millennials favor allowing gay and lesbian people to marry, compared to only 19% of Republican seniors and less than one-third (31%) of all Republicans. Forty-four percent of white evangelical Millennials favor allowing gay and lesbian people to marry, compared to only 12% of evangelical seniors and 19% of evangelicals overall.

There is broad acceptance of same-sex relationships in society and Americans are comfortable with gay and lesbian people in a variety of public professions.

Nearly two-thirds (64%) of Americans agree that gay and lesbian relationships should be accepted by society, including majorities of all major religious groups except white evangelicals.

Americans are comfortable with gay and lesbian people serving in a variety of public roles in society, including as a law enforcement officer (75%), a doctor (71%), a judge (70%), a high school teacher (63%), an elementary school teacher (61%), and a clergy person (56%).

Most Americans believe it is difficult to live openly as a gay or lesbian person, but twice as many Americans believe more gay and lesbian people “coming out” is a good thing rather than a bad thing for American society.

More than 6-in-10 Americans believe that negative messages from America’s places of worship contribute either a lot (23%) or a little (40%) to higher rates of suicide among gay and lesbian youth.

Among religious groups, 73% of non-Christian affiliated, 64% of Catholics, 60% of black Protestants, 59% of white mainline Protestants, and 51% of white evangelical Protestants say places of worship contribute either a lot or a little to higher rates of suicide among gay and lesbian youth.

The full report can be found here. Over all, the results are very bad news for professional Christians and purveyors of hate like Maggie Gallagher, Tony Perkins and Benedict XVI.

Equality California Rips Tony Perkins and the Family Research Council For Its KKK Ties

I have long maintained that most of the largest "family values" organization are not only anti-gay, but also anti-minority groups of all types and complexions. Indeed, if one tracts their websites and their constant anti-immigrant and anti minority rants, it quickly becomes obvious that they are thinly veiled versions of the KKK. In some cases, such as Family Research Council, the white supremacist ties are shockingly obvious. These groups are neither Christian or "educational" organizations. Rather, as the Southern Poverty Law Center has recognized earlier this year, they are hate groups with intolerance and hatred as their principal stock in trade. Thankfully, Equality California has decided to take on such groups head on as they seek to repeal the FAIR Education Act. Here are highlights from Equality California's press release and a video via LGBT Pov that the group has released looking at the true face of Tony Perkins and Family Research Council:

Last week the Family Research Council, a virulent anti-LGBT organization with ties to the Ku Klux Klan and recognized as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center, joined the effort to overturn the FAIR Education Act in California and released a video message to fundamentalist churches on behalf of the campaign. In it, the group’s executive director, Tony Perkins, blatantly lied about and grossly misrepresented the FAIR Education Act, which requires California schools to include factual, age-appropriate information about the contributions, social movements and current events of, people with disabilities, Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT), and Pacific Islander people in already existing social studies lessons.

“California voters have a right to know the truth about those most backing the effort to overturn the FAIR Education Act and that racist and homophobic organizations have no intent to protect families and children but instead hurt them with their bigotry.

Let’s be clear: it’s the anti-gay, racist rhetoric, dogma and attacks of these organizations that harm children, families and our society, not movements for equality, truth, inclusivity and dignity for all people.

Many fair-minded Californians—especially parents—may not yet know how they feel about the FAIR Education Act. But I don’t believe any fair-minded parent would find friends of the KKK a trustworthy protector of their children. It’s critical that these groups are exposed for what they really are: fear-mongers who prey on good parents’ deep, instinctive desire to protect their children in order to advance a hateful, anti-equality agenda.”

Repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" Celebration

On September 20, 2011, at Waterside on the Norfolk waterfront, a celebration will be held beginning at 6:00 PM in recognition of the repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell which becomes effective on that date. Given that Norfolk is home to the largest U.S. Navy base in the world and the fact that Hampton Roads also has numerous other military installation, a local celebration is most appropriate. An honorary host committee is being formed. The current honorary hosts are as follows (over half of my personal friends):

Honorary Host Committee:

Jamie Barnett, Rear Admiral, USNR (Retired)
Sen Ralph Northam, Veteran, US Army
Del David Englin, Veteran, USAF
Gregory Smith, Veteran USN (1977-'87)
Don King, Veteran, USN
Tracy Thorne-Begland, Veteran, USNR
Joan Darrah, CAPT, USN (Retired)
William Harmon, Veteran, USMC
Thomas Field, COL, USAR (Retried)
Christy Berghoff, Veteran, USAF (1999-’03)
Robert Roman, Veteran, USN
James Hermansen-Parker, Veteran, USN
Beth Whyle, Veteran, USN
Roxie Hoven, Veteran, USN
Thomas Formisano, Veteran USN (1985-'93)
Deborah Maurio, Veteran, USN
Dana Miller, Veteran, USN (1999-'10)
Sherrise Powers, CSM, US Army (Retired)
Nicole Carry, Veteran, USN (1991-'97)
Adrian Bond, Veteran, US Army (1986-'99)

The event is free and open to the public and as more details become available, I will write further about the event which I obviously plan to attend. Over time, I believe that the demise of DADT will have a major impact on LGBT life in Hampton Roads.

Wednesday Male Beauty

The Difficulties Faced in Luring Top LGBT Employees to Virginia

The Cavalier Daily, the student newspaper at the University of Virginia is doing a two part story on the difficulties of LGBT employees in Virginia and the issues universities and other employers face when seeking to recruit desired faculty and staff. As noted before, I get calls regularly from individuals who have received job offers in Virginia who want to know the status of the law for LGBT citizens. Typically, after learning that they would have no employment non-discrimination protections whatsoever under Virginia law and that their committed life relationships receive zero recognition, many opt to decline the job offers. Virginia is increasingly at a competitive disadvantage because of the Republican Party of Virginia's puppet role to the toxic puppeteers at The Family Foundation who seek to inflict their "biblical world view" on all Virginians. Here are some highlights from part 1 of the story:

When Ellen Bass, an associate professor in the department of Systems and Information Engineering, came to the Charlottesville in 2002 with her partner and son, she had to overcome a huge financial hurdle. “It cost me thousands of dollars to be a gay person,” Bass said, recounting, “I didn’t get moving benefits for my partner, I didn’t get help to find my partner a job, I couldn’t insure her or her son with my health benefits” — options that a heterosexual employee of the University would enjoy.

The University’s current equal opportunity and affirmative action statement, which was updated as recently as January 6, 2011, includes sexual orientation on a long list of traits that the University disregards while administrating its programs, procedures and practices. However, same-sex couples have yet to receive the equal benefits described by Bass.

Article 1, section 15-A of the Virginia Constitution, which was amended after a statewide vote in 2006, not only bans same-sex marriages and unions, but also prohibits the commonwealth and its political subdivisions from recognizing “another union, partnership, or other legal status to which is assigned the rights, benefits, obligations, qualities, or effects of marriage.” This code prohibits the University and other state-affiliated organizations from offering its same-sex employees partnership benefits, said Susan Carkeek, the University’s chief Human Resources officer.

The University’s inability to extend benefits to the partners of same-sex employees not only raises questions about equality, but also creates additional institutional problems.

The lack of such benefits makes the University less competitive when attracting new faculty and staff who may identify as gay or lesbian.
Carkeek admitted that the University’s current policies make it less attractive to certain potential employees. “Not being able to offer benefits to domestic partners makes the U.Va. benefits package less competitive than that of other universities we compete with for the best faculty and staff,” she said.

“A lot of people don’t come here in the first place,” Bass, the University professor, said in regard to potential gay faculty and staff. “People leave, we don’t have a large number. If you identify a great LGBT person, it’s very difficult to bring that person’s partner in because it won’t help them get a job.”

There are outlets of support for the University’s LGBT employees. Both Bass and Strickler are co-conveners for U.Va. Pride, an organization that serves the needs of the University’s LGBT faculty, staff and graduate students. Founded in 1992, the organization has been key to bringing LGBT issues to the forefront of University politics, as well as creating a supportive and social environment for the University’s LGBT community.

But the lack of health benefits for same-sex partners still remains a pertinent issue. Apart from creating a tremendous financial hurdle for the University’s LGBT employees, the absence of such benefits “adds to the environment of stigma and bias,” Strickler said, adding that the University’s current policy says to its LGBT employees, “Your health doesn’t matter like other people’s matters.”

Multiply this situation across all of Virginia's public colleges and universities and municipalities and the numbers of people discriminated against mushrooms. All because unconstitutional religious based discrimination has been written into the state's laws to stroke the theocrats who ultimately control the Republican Party of Virginia. As noted before, once the boyfriend's parents pass on, I have no desire whatsoever to remain in Virginia.

Navy Ships Begin Returning to Hampton Roads

Driving home last night along the harbor front in Hampton I saw the impressive sight of the U.S. Navy ships that had fled Hampton Roads returning to port. One of the carriers had already pulled up to the Norfolk Naval Base piers and a column of ships could be seen passing over the Hampton Roads Bridge Tunnel. It has been strange looking across at the base and not seeing any of the ships that become part of the standard scenery. I'm sure that the activity at the local gay bars will be picking back up with the fleet returning back in port. :) Here are a few remarks from the Virginian Pilot:

The dozens of Navy ships that left Hampton Roads to avoid Hurricane Irene began returning to their piers Tuesday. In all, 55 ships and submarines were moved because of the storm.

The first returning ships were set to arrive Tuesday, the Navy said in a news release. The rest will come back on a staggered, coordinated schedule throughout the rest of the week.

Adm. John C. Harvey Jr., the head of Fleet Forces Command, said in a written statement that all of the ships got under way in roughly 2-1/2 hours. He called their quick action a testament to their readiness, professionalism and dedication.

Has Rick Perry Awakened Liberals and Progressives?panic fires up the left

As noted in many previous posts, Barack Obama has been a huge disappointment to me and many others who voted for him in 2008. Indeed, his re-election stratagem seems to boil down to a campaign based on the mantra "I'm not as bad as my opponent." Enter Rick Perry into the GOP presidential candidate field and the Obama approach seems to have been given much credence. Obama - despite his many failings - suddenly looks pretty good compared to Perry's scary insanity and frightening approach to government. And not unexpectedly, liberals and many in the Democratic Party base have been driven to panic at the thought of a Perry presidency. Politico looks at how Perry is energizing the left in general. Here are some highlights:

In his two weeks as a presidential candidate, Rick Perry has done something that neither Barack Obama nor Mitt Romney could do: wake up the left.

Perry panic has spread from the conference rooms of Washington, D.C., to the coffee shops of Brooklyn, with the realization that the conservative Texan could conceivably become the 45th president of the United States, a wave of alarm centering around Perry’s drawling, small-town affect and stands on core cultural issues such as women’s rights, gun control, the death penalty, and the separation of church and state.

The epidemic of lefty angst isn’t just a matter of specific Perry policies though; it goes to the heart of the liberal worldview. His smashing debut on the presidential stage suggests that the victory of an urban liberal Democrat, Barack Obama, wasn’t a step toward a more progressive nation, but just a leftward swing of an increasingly wild pendulum, now poised to rocket to the right.

[E]ven as the primary is fought on conservative turf, liberal leaders say they and their constituents see Perry as far worse than your average, hated Republican, and indeed as bad — if not worse — than his hated predecessor in Austin, George W. Bush. And progressives who might have had a hard time getting worked up about Mitt Romney find themselves struggling for superlatives with which to express their fear of a President Perry.

Barry Lynn, whose Americans United for Separation of Church and State is on the front lines of keeping religion out of public life, also labeled Perry an extreme figure. “He doesn’t just go to religious right gatherings — he creates religious right gatherings, and that’s a big difference,” he said, citing The Response, a 30,000-person event Perry led in Houston in early August.

Lynn said last week’s polls showing Perry in the lead among Republicans had startled his group’s supporters. “Any time there’s a very viable candidate who has taken on the mantle of a crusader for Christ and ignorer of the Constitution, that makes very many people who care about the real Constitution very nervous,” he said.

But Perry isn’t necessarily far outside the Republican mainstream in, for instance, his implacable opposition to taxes and abortion, or his support for religion in public life. His stated support for states rights might, in theory, make him less likely to intervene on social issues than some of his GOP rivals. . . . . Perry’s combination of policy, Southern style and an easy, unstudied adherence to contemporary religious and political conservative doctrine has put him beyond the reach even of some Democrats who sometimes cross the aisle.

“Whether he’s the nominee or not, he absolutely helps fire up our base,” said Jennifer Palmieri, president of the liberal Center for American Project Action Fund. “To the degree to which progressives are disaffected and unenthusiastic — this is their ‘holy sh**’ moment.”

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

More Tuesday Male Beauty

Post Hurricane Irene Reflections

At last we have power back at our home. That's the good news. The bad news is that the main A/C compressor isn't working. Hopefully, its a blown capacitor or something minor. In the meantime, it's more nights with no A/C until we can get a service call from a heating and cooling contractor. Otherwise, the house is pretty much back to normal and all of the furniture, artwork and the boyfriend's glass and china collection is back on its usual display. The photo below shows the extent of the water intrusion on the first floor over the marble flooring and composite trim work. Thankfully, because of the work we had done in 2009, nothing impacted by the water was water absorbent, so nothing need to be repaired. It was simply a case of mopping the place out with a Lysol/water mix and getting up the silt on the floors. That's not to say t was my idea of fun, but compared to what others up and down the east coast have experienced, we got off easy.

If I have one principal complaint against the local municipalities - including the City of Hampton - it is that they failed to impose a strict curfew that got idiot joy riders and would be burglars off the streets. At the height of the storm, we had morons in jacked up pickup trucks blasting down our block sending waves of water to slam against already water surrounded homes. Worse yet, it is my belief that some of the joyriders were casing homes that were unoccupied looking for places to burglarize. Our next door neighbors - who had survived Hurricane Katrina and moved to this area after that traumatic experience - returned home on Sunday only to find that their home had been broken into, quality items stolen and the place ransacked. As best we can estimate, the break in occurred sometime in the wee hours of Sunday morning as the backside of the storm still raged.

I sincerely hope that come the next serious storm Hampton and other cities will impose a total curfew except for those working for police and emergency services (and those able to document they are on their way to work) with serious fines for those violating the curfew. The photo above shows one such jacked up pickup blasting through bumper high water before the worst of Irene even hit (For the record, in my view, driving a jacked up pickup speaks volumes about either one's reduced IQ or one's decidedly redneck qualities).

P.S. A bunch friends helped us upright the 15+ foot cherry tree int he photo below and stake it back in an upright position. The roots appeared unbroken and hopefully it will survive.

The AFA and FRC Contine to Call for a Re-Criminalization of Gays while Claiming Thy're Not Hate Groups

As often noted on this blog, when every the lips of Christianists are moving, it's pretty much a 99.999999% likelihood that they are lying. The American Family Association ("AFA") is continue to whine and whimper over its designation by the Southern Poverty Law Center as an anti-gay hate group in more or less the same league as the KKK and toxic white supremacist groups when it comes to marketing hatred. The hypocrisy is palpable. On the one hand we see the ever disingenuous Peter Sprigg (who for over a decade has been spinning anti-gay propaganda at various Christianist organizations) disclaiming that Family Research Council and its allies have engaged in any hateful activity towards LGBT Americans even as Sprigg and AFA's Bryan Fischer are on record calling for the re-criminalization of homosexuality. First these highlights from Sprigg's dishonest denials as reported by Right Wing Watch:

Family Research Council senior fellow Peter Sprigg appeared today on The Matt Friedeman Show on the American Family Association’s American Family Radio to discuss the budding controversy over the right-wing “charity” service CGBG. The progressive groups and have persuaded over 200 retailers to leave the CGBG . . . .

People are afraid of the homosexual activists and they’re particularly afraid of this character assassination that comes in the form of the word ‘hate.’ Nobody wants to be accused of participating in ‘hate’ and so throwing that word ‘hate’ around becomes a trump card even when nothing that we have done can reasonably be called ‘hate.’ On the contrary, everything we do is motivated by love for the people who are hurt by this lifestyle.

Such a claim is hard to believe coming from Peter Sprigg, who:

Said that he would “much prefer to export homosexuals from the United States than to import them into the United States because we believe homosexuality is destructive to society.”

Supported the criminalization of homosexuality.

Lobbied to make it harder for students to join Gay-Straight Alliances because “homosexuality is harmful to society.”

Argued that gays and lesbians shouldn’t be judges because a gay judge can’t “be held up as a role model.”

Linked homosexuality to pedophilia even when scientists rejected their correlation.

Opposed allowing same-sex partners or their adopted children from collecting their deceased partner or parent’s Social Security benefits.

Cheered on Lisa Miller after she kidnapped her daughter and fled to Central America in order to evade court order granting custody to her former partner.

But the LGBT community, Sprigg says, should see all these as acts of love.
As noted, Bryan Fischer is no less driven by contempt and anti-gay hatred than Sprigg. Right Wing Watch likewise looks at the latest anti-gay vitriol from Fischer. Here are highlights as well as a video of Fischer's batshitery:

On his radio show Focal Point yesterday, American Family Association spokesman Bryan Fischer called on all fifty states to criminalize homosexuality.

Fischer: Both of the cases that went to the United States Supreme Court that dealt with the issue of whether states should criminalize sodomy, and of course they still ought to be able to do it, every state in the union criminalized sodomy until 1962 and then forty nine states until 1972, then they began to fall like dominoes. But by the time of the founding until the late 20th Century, homosexual activity was a felony offense in the United States of America, there is no reason why it cannot be a criminal offense once again, absolutely none.