Saturday, September 17, 2011

The Help - The Mindset of Bigots

The boyfriend and I went an saw the movie "The Help" this evening and for those who have not yet seen the film, I recommend it highly. I have lived the last 41 years of my life in the South and although I arrived in the region not too many years after the time period depicted in the movie, believe me, the mindset of some of the most horrible whites in the movie remains alive and well in some circles and in some areas of the South more than others - i.e., Mississippi still deserves the picture of it portrayed in the movie as do parts of Alabama, Georgia, Florida, Louisiana. etc., and, yes, most assuredly in parts of Virginia. Indeed, the mindset is, in my opinion, alive and well in some of Virginia's state wide office holders. And this mindset isn't just racist toward black citizens. It extends to anyone deemed "other," so it includes as it targets LGBT citizens, Hispanics, non-Christians in general and of course, Muslims.

It is a sad commentary, but some individuals seem to have a sick psychological need to feel superior to others or to take action so that those they deem as inferior to themselves do not have the same full rights of citizenship that they themselves enjoy. It's as if without someone to look down upon - or in the case of the Christianists (who seem all too often to be synonymous with the racists), someone they can point to as "sinners" - their fragile egos and sense of self-worth collapse. It is they, not the targets of their bigotry, who are the menace to society.

One thing that is striking in the movie is the manner in which to some of the white characters in the film, the black maids and other black citizens were not even seen as fully human. What is frightening is that the same dehumanization continues to this day. Perhaps to a lesser extent towards blacks than in the early 1960's, but its there in toxic pockets of the region - in Virginia, it's not surprisingly the worse in Southwest Virginia. Hence the irony/tragedy that far too many black pastors, whether knowingly or not, continue to be the water carriers for the very types of people as the racist whites in the movie. These racists and hypocrites - e.g. Tony Perkins at Family Research Council - use religion and the Bible to incite these black pastors to condemn the white racists' latest chosen targets who are all to often (but not exclusively) LGBT citizens.

That's right, we LGBT citizens in many states, especially in the South, remain second or third class citizens except that some of us can hide if we are willing to live a lie and hide in the closet. But, to me, that's not living one's life. And I'd rather face the slings and arrows of the hate merchants than let them win and control my life or dictate who I can love.

Saturday Morning Male Beauty

Navy Clears Gay WWII Vet's Record

I guess the saying better late than never still has meaning. However, it is disturbing that it took the Navy 70 years to correct a wrong that should never have been allowed to occur in a nation that claims to offer equality and freedom of religion to its citizens. The case in point involves now 89 year old Melvin Dwork (at left) who was expelled from the Navy for being gay during World War II. The Navy belatedly is changing his discharge from "undesirable" to "honorable." The kicker is that Dwork has discovered that it was his former boyfriend who outed him back in the 1940's. For years Dwork was denied military benefits because of the "undesirable" discharge. Sadly, there are many, many others who have suffered the same wrongful denial of benefits because of illegal religious based discrimination. Time magazine looks at the story and here are excerpts:

(SAN DIEGO) — Nearly 70 years after expelling Melvin Dwork for being gay, the Navy is changing his discharge from "undesirable" to "honorable" — marking what is believed to be the first time the Pentagon has taken such a step on behalf of a World War II veteran since the repeal of "don't ask, don't tell."

The Navy notified the 89-year-old former corpsman last month that he will now be eligible for the benefits he had long been denied, including medical care and a military burial.

Dwork spent decades fighting to remove the blot on his record. "I resented that word 'undesirable,'" said Dwork, who was expelled in 1944, at the height of the war, and is now a successful interior designer in New York. "That word really stuck in my craw. To me it was a terrible insult. It had to be righted. It's really worse than 'dishonorable.' I think it was the worst word they could have used."

For Dwork, victory came with a heartbreaking truth: Last year, when the Navy finally released his records, he learned that his name had been given up by his own boyfriend at the time.

The decision to amend his discharge papers was made by the Board for Corrections of Naval Records in Washington In its Aug. 17 proceedings, obtained by The Associated Press, the board noted that the Navy has undergone a "radical departure" from the outright ban on gays that was in place in 1944. The board pointed out Dwork's "exemplary period of active duty" and said that changing the terms of his discharge was done "in the interest of justice."

So many lives damaged because of the special rights wrongfully given to Christianity in denigration of the Constitutional guarantee of freedom of religion for all. Thankfully, Dwork went on to be a successful designer in New York City despite his mistreatment by his own country and government.

Jon Huntsman's Charitable Works

Brad Pitt is not the only one who actually engages in charitable works. While the GOP presidential candidate slate panders to disgusting lengths to those whose greed causes them to want to eliminate federal programs that assist the sick, the poor, the unemployed and the elderly, one GOP candidate quietly practices the Gospel message of helping others. And he does so without looking for political gain or self promotion. Yes, it's a novel concept for someone in today's Republican Party. Some even question whether Huntsman's good works - which have even extended to gay recipients of his willingness to help others might nor be a liability given the GOP base's desire to kick the unfortunate under the bus. Here are some highlights from Huffington Post:

WASHINGTON -- Maybe Jon Huntsman is just too nice of a guy to compete with someone who would strap his dog to the roof of his car or someone who would make firefighters buy their own gear. At least, that's the feeling you get if you talk to people who have seen the charity of the former Utah governor and his wife, Mary Kaye.

"They are wonderful humanitarians," said Pamela Atkinson, a near-legendary champion of the poor in Utah who advised Huntsman on charity while he was governor and has known him for two decades. "They're people I know I can always turn to."

Huntsman does not talk much about his charity, there are few news stories about it and his campaign declined to make his tax returns available for this series. But a review of available public data and interviews suggest he is generous.

While his campaign did not disclose dollar figures, it said much of Huntsman's giving went to his wife's charity, Power in You, which aids at-risk youth. He also gave to the House of Hope shelter and substance abuse treatment facility; the Salt Lake City Homeless Shelter; the Bag of Hope, a juvenile diabetes research foundation; the Mormon Church; the Washington National Cathedral in D.C. and the orphanages from which he adopted daughters Gracie Mei and Asha. Atkinson said the Huntsmans are not comfortable talking about their giving, and often prefer to help people directly.

Reed Cowan, a former Salt Lake City television anchor, has a close-up perspective on the Huntsmans' charitable side. Cowan worked closely with Mary Kaye Huntsman on Power in You. Before the charity's big gala several years ago, he decided that he had to come out and let the Huntsmans know he was gay. He didn't want to embarrass them, though, so he quit the group -- only to have them demand that he stay and then publicly embrace him at the gala.

A few days later, Cowan's young son, Wesley, died in a freak accident on the monkey bars at his ex-wife's home. Cowan said that the Huntsmans not only where there for him, but pushed him to make something good come out of it. That good was an effort to build Wesley Cowan schools for children in Kenya. The Huntsmans' help, Cowan said, ensured that it succeeded and continues now.

If none of that was enough, Cowan turned to the Huntsmans recently when his sister was diagnosed with cancer. "In the terror of the diagnosis, I emailed [Mary Kaye Huntsman] and Jon and said 'I know you are in China ... and I hope the sun is up where you are ... I need my sister to get the best cancer care in the world ... I hope you get this,'" Cowan said by email. "Within minutes MKH and Jon and Jon Sr.'s family were in action and my sister was in the Huntsman Cancer Institute getting the best care."

Huntsman's charitable impulses don't seem to be much of an asset to his White House bid, however, as he polls in the range of 1 to 2 percent nationally. In fact, Huntsman has gotten crosswise to parts of the conservative Republican base after his interaction with people like Cowan -- whom some credit with inspiring Huntsman's embracing of same-sex civil unions. Still, Huntsman is sticking with that position, and people like Atkinson and Cowan are sure his charity will stand, as well.

Quote of the Day - Brad Pitt

Brad Pitt - who I've had a crush on forever - has caught a great deal of flack about some recent comments about his former marriage to Jennifer Aniston. But the actor has much more to say about religion and same sex marriage in a new Parade interview. I'm sure Pitt's views will cause hyperventilation and flying spittle among the Christianist and professional Christian set, but what he says is 100% true. Hopefully, more will come to agree with Pitt's reasoning. Here are some highlights, the first dealing with same sex marriage:

"Can you believe that we’re still fighting for equality in America? To be against marriage for everyone is utter discrimination. I feel strongly about that because if equality of marriage doesn’t happen now, the next generation will have to deal with it.

“It is an amazing thing that New York has finally gotten same-sex marriage. But the real problem is that the federal government hides behind states on this issue. It is blatant, ugly bigotry, and the federal government shouldn’t be doing that. You’re denying some Americans the right that all Americans have, to live their lives as they choose.

"What are you so afraid of? That’s my question. Gay people getting married? What is so scary about that? It’s complicated. You grow up in a religion like that and you try to pray the gay away. I feel sadness for people like that. This is where people start short-circuiting—instead of being brave and questioning their beliefs, they are afraid and feel that they have to defend them. I don’t mind a world with religion in it. There are some beautiful tenets within all religions. What I get hot about is when they start dictating how other people must live. People suffer because of it. They are spreading misery."

He also has some spot on views on religion in general and seems to have made a spiritual journey that it took me longer to embark upon. Here are snippets of those statements:

There’s a point where you’re un-tethered from the beliefs of your childhood. That point came for me when it was finally clear my religion didn’t work for me. I had questions about Christianity that I could not get answered to my satisfaction, questions that I’d been asking since I was in kindergarten. I realized it didn’t feel right to me, that one question just led to another. It was like going down a rabbit hole, each answer provoking another question. There were things I didn’t agree with.

“My religion was telling me what not to do—what not to even think about doing. Those are the things I would try, because that was my nature. I had to experience things to know what would work for me . . . . You say that something is wrong for me to do? Well, I know it’s not wrong because I just did it. Then you say something else is also wrong? Yeah, I did that too, and you’re right, it is wrong for me. But it wasn’t wrong just because you told me it was.”

Brad is definitely much more than just a pretty face. And, unlike so many Christianists, he puts his money where his mouth is in terms of true charitable works.

Friday, September 16, 2011

More Friday Male Beauty

What If the Tea Party Wins?

The Center for American Progress has a new white paper (you can read it here) that looks at the consequences of the Tea Party prevailing in its effort to rewrite the United States Constitution and/or read it so narrowly that many much needed federal programs would be labeled "unconstitutional" and cease to exist. While the extremist in the Tea Party largely identify themselves as conservative Christian, their underlying agenda is driven by greed and a desire to throw everyone but themselves under the bus. That they view themselves as Christian is beyond farcical. Some will say the white paper is alarmist and falsely crying wolf, but see what the Christianist/Tea Party crowd is doing in Virginia, I would argue that it is not. Here are highlights from an Center for American Progress overview of the white paper:

In the Tea Party’s America, families must mortgage their home to pay for their mother’s end-of-life care. Higher education is a luxury reserved almost exclusively to the very rich. Rotten meat ships to supermarkets nationwide without a national agency to inspect it. Fathers compete with their adolescent children for sub-minimum wage jobs. And our national leaders are utterly powerless to do a thing.

At least, that’s what would happen if the Tea Party succeeds in its effort to reimagine the Constitution as an antigovernment manifesto.

It is difficult to count how many essential laws would simply cease to exist if the Tea Party won its battle to reshape our founding document, but a short list includes:
■Social Security and Medicare
■Medicaid, children's health insurance, and other health care programs
■All federal education programs
■All federal antipoverty programs
■Federal disaster relief
■Federal food safety inspections and other food safety programs
■Child labor laws, the minimum wage, overtime, and other labor protections
■Federal civil rights laws

The Tea Party imagines a constitution focused entirely upon the Tenth Amendment, which provides that “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people”—which is why their narrow vision of the nation’s power is often referred to as “tentherism.”

The Constitution gives Congress the power “to lay and collect taxes, duties, imposts and excises, to pay the debts and provide for the common defense and general welfare of the United States,” thus empowering the federal government to levy taxes and leverage these revenues for programs such as Social Security and Medicare. A disturbingly large number of elected officials, however, insist that these words don’t actually mean what they say.

In a speech to the conservative American Legislative Exchange Council, Texas Gov. Rick Perry listed a broad swath of programs that “contradict the principles of limited, constitutional government that our founders established to protect us.” Gov. Perry’s list includes Medicare and “a bankrupt social security system" . . .

[T]enther proposals to simply let the states take over Social Security and Medicare are nothing more than a backdoor way to eliminate these programs altogether. If the Tea Party gets its way, and our nation’s social safety net for seniors is declared unconstitutional, millions of seniors will lose their only income and their only means to pay for health care.

Education is also on the Tea Party’s chopping block. . . . The truth, however, is that the federal government has never told states how to educate their children—and it could not do so if it tried. . . . . So, the state of Texas is perfectly free to turn down federal grants if they do not like the conditions attached to them.

Sen. [Mike] Lee [(R-UT)] would go even further in cutting off assistance for low-income Americans. In an interview with a Utah radio host, Lee claimed that the framers intended all antipoverty programs to be dealt with exclusively at the state level. This would not only eliminate programs like income assistance and food stamps, it could threaten unemployment insurance, federal job training, and other programs intended to provide a bridge out of poverty.

You get the drift. Greed, false piety, a total lack of compassion, and a hatred of those deemed "other" are the hallmarks of the Tea Party.

Debbie Reynolds to Transphobes: Go Away

Chaz Bono has faced a boat load of hate and condemnation from falsely named "family values" organizations in connection with his upcoming role on Dancing With the Stars. Much of the condemnation has been ugly and it's obvious that these advocates of intolerance would prefer that LGBT individuals - especially transgender individuals - disappear or at least remain invisible. As if children won't eventually learn that we DO exist. One of Hollywood's former leading ladies has come to Chaz's defense and has a message for those attacking Chaz: if you don't like Chaz being on the show, CHANGE THE CHANNEL! The image and statement by Reynolds comes via Boy Culture. Kudos to Reynolds.

Be Afraid, Virginia. Be Very afraid: Virginia Passes Strictest Abortion Regulations in the Nation

The other day I wrote asking where the "good Christians" were in North Carolina as the Christianists and their hate group organization, working with the political whores in the North Carolina Republican Party passed a measure that will put the recognition of same sex relations on the ballot on the day of the 2012 North Carolina GOP primary election. The answer, of course is that most were sitting on their asses since they did not believe the anti-gay measure impacted them. That belief is a fallacy as today's events in Virginia demonstrate. First the Christianists go after the gays as they did here in Virginia in 2006, next it's abortion, and next it will be contraception, religious freedom for non-Christianists and God knows what else. By sitting back until their rights are directly impacted, the "good Christians" and others are allowing the creeping extension of the Christianist version of Sharia law. They need to wake up to the true agenda of Christianists and Christian dominionists and not be fooled by their intentionally deceptive propaganda. The anti-abortion offense here in Virginia - and for the record, I am not a fan of abortion - was couched in terms of "safety" and "protecting women." The real goal, however, was to impose a de facto ban on abortion and stupidly far too many in the general public were played for fools by those who wrap themselves in the Bible even as they lie incessantly. The Virginian Pilot sadly does it usual lazy/sloppy reporting and largely parrots the propaganda of the Christian dominionists at The Family Foundation. Huffington Post has more accurate coverage. Here are highlights:

The Virginia Board of Health passed the most severe abortion clinic regulations in the nation on Thursday, which health advocates say could effectively close down all 22 abortion providers in the state.

The regulations, commissioned by the state legislature and written by the Virginia Department of Health, are largely unrelated to patient health and safety. They would treat abortion clinics as if they are hospitals if the clinics provide five or more first-trimester abortions a month and would enforce architectural design standards that will be almost impossible for most clinics to meet.

For instance, a clinic must have 5-foot-wide hallways, 8-foot-wide areas outside of procedure rooms, specific numbers of toilets and types of sinks and all of the latest requirements for air circulation flow and electrical wiring. Each clinic must also have a parking spot for every bed, despite the fact that first-trimester abortions don't require an overnight stay. Further, Department of Health employees will be allowed to enter an abortion facility at any time without notice or identification.

Virginia Board of Health member Jim Edmundson tried to introduce a number of amendments on Thursday that would lessen the severity of the clinic restrictions and give some facilities a chance to comply. However, all but one of the amendments were rejected without a vote.

The board is not even seconding proposed amendments being offered," said Patrick Hurd, the CEO of Planned Parenthood of Southeast Virginia, who observed the comment and voting process in Richmond on Thursday. "They're so intimidated by the presence of the attorney general, they're not even allowing these things to come up for a vote."

Health advocates say they are worried that women in Virginia could lose all access to abortions as a result of the new rules, which are scheduled go into effect by Jan. 1.

Kansas passed slightly more lenient regulations earlier this year that would have shut down two out of three of the state's clinics, but they were challenged in court and promptly blocked by a judge.

One major unintended consequence of these regulations is that if Planned Parenthood clinics and other health clinics that provide abortions are forced to shut down, they will be taking all of their other services with them, such as affordable pap smears, breast exams and birth control for low-income men and women.

I understand the need for people to stand and fight the Christianists, but it becomes exhausting and increasingly, I'd like to simply leave this nasty backwater state.

Friday Morning Male Beauty

The New Tea Party Message - Please Go Die

A number of surveys have shown that the so-called Tea Party movement in the GOP is pretty much made up of conservative Christians. You know, those folks who claim to honor Christ and live their lives according to Christ's Gospel message. The funny thing, however, is that they in fact do the exact opposite. By their actions they reject the Gospel message and instead embrace the worse aspects of the Old Testament where the abuse and murder of men, women and children is glorified as God smites his supposed enemies. Nowhere is this perversion of Christianity in the political realm becoming more obvious than in regard to the issue of health care for the uninsured, poor and sick. The Tea Party messages is basically "do us a favor and just go die." Of course this religion of hate and division is not limited to the issue of health insurance coverage. We LGBT Americans, non-Christians, non-whites, and a host of other groups are incessant targets of contempt and hatred. Returning to the issue of health care, Paul Krugman has a piece in the New York Times that underscores the fallacy that those who lack insurance are simply irresponsible or in search of a free ride. Here are some highlights:

Today, “free to choose” has become “free to die.” I’m referring, as you might guess, to what happened during Monday’s G.O.P. presidential debate. CNN’s Wolf Blitzer asked Representative Ron Paul what we should do if a 30-year-old man who chose not to purchase health insurance suddenly found himself in need of six months of intensive care. Mr. Paul replied, “That’s what freedom is all about — taking your own risks.” Mr. Blitzer pressed him again, asking whether “society should just let him die.” And the crowd erupted with cheers and shouts of “Yeah!”

Now, there are two things you should know about the Blitzer-Paul exchange. The first is that after the crowd weighed in, Mr. Paul basically tried to evade the question, asserting that warm-hearted doctors and charitable individuals would always make sure that people received the care they needed — or at least they would if they hadn’t been corrupted by the welfare state. Sorry, but that’s a fantasy. People who can’t afford essential medical care often fail to get it, and always have — and sometimes they die as a result.

The second is that very few of those who die from lack of medical care look like Mr. Blitzer’s hypothetical individual who could and should have bought insurance. In reality, most uninsured Americans either have low incomes and cannot afford insurance, or are rejected by insurers because they have chronic conditions.

So would people on the right be willing to let those who are uninsured through no fault of their own die from lack of care? The answer, based on recent history, is a resounding “Yeah!”
Think, in particular, of the children.

So the freedom to die extends, in practice, to children and the unlucky as well as the improvident. And the right’s embrace of that notion signals an important shift in the nature of American politics. In the past, conservatives accepted the need for a government-provided safety net on humanitarian grounds.

Now, however, compassion is out of fashion — indeed, lack of compassion has become a matter of principle, at least among the G.O.P.’s base.

And what this means is that modern conservatism is actually a deeply radical movement, one that is hostile to the kind of society we’ve had for the past three generations — that is, a society that, acting through the government, tries to mitigate some of the “common hazards of life” through such programs as Social Security, unemployment insurance, Medicare and Medicaid.

Are voters ready to embrace such a radical rejection of the kind of America we’ve all grown up in? I guess we’ll find out next year.

As noted before, modern day "Christians" and Tea Party adherents make the Pharisees of the Gospel look like pretty nice folks in comparison. Conservative Christianity is proving itself to be nothing short than a moral evil in the world.

Tammy Aaberg to Deliver 's Anti-Gay Bullying Petition to Michelle Bachmann

Michele Bachmann and her husband, "Marcia" Bachmann, do much to keep alive the myth that sexual orientation is a "choice" and therefore that it's perfectly fine to bully and beat the hell of out LGBT school students. Indeed, under their foul and warped version of Christianity, it's the "Christian" thing to do. It's open season on LGBT students and citizens. Despite her deep involvement in teaching and engendering homophobia, Michele Bachmann has refused to comment on the wave of bullying related suicides in the Anoka-Hennepin school district located in her home Congressional district. Bachmann likes to create a toxic atmosphere for LGBT students but doesn't have the guts - or decency - to address the fruits of her handiwork. Tammy Aaberg, whose son Justin (pictured above left) committed suicide after enduring incessant anti-gay bullying hopes to end Bachmann's efforts to dodge the issue when she delivers 130,000 petitions to Bachmann's office demanding that address the issue of anti-gay bullying in the schools.Bachmann must be challenged on the hate she helps engender and for the blood on her hands and the hands of her Christofascist allies. Here are highlights from Daily Kos on Aaberg's upcoming visit:

For months, Presidential candidate and Minnesota House Representative Michele Bachmann has been the subject of a Credo Action sponsored petition asking her to address the issue of anti-gay bullying in the schools. To date, the petition has gathered over 130,000 signatures.

Bachmann was selected because the district she represents is, not surprisingly, the ground zero of the LGBT teen bullying and suicide story. Bachmann's Minnesota Congressional District is home to the now infamous Anoka-Hennepin school district. A rash of teen suicides has swept the district, nine over two years. The Anoka-Hennepin school district has attracted international attention, including an extensive investigation by London's Daily Mail.

Anoka-Hennepin has also become the target of a Department of Justice investigation into their school policies regarding LGBT students and handling of incidents of school bullying.Justin Aaberg was once a student there, and now his mother, Tammy has agreed to deliver the petition signatures to Bachmann's office today. From Credo Action:

When Tammy Aaberg's son Justin was a 13-year-old student attending public school in Michele Bachmann's congressional district, he came out to his friends and family. What Tammy didn't know was the extent to which her son was being bullied at school. Not once was she notified by school officials of the harassment he faced.Just a few weeks after finishing his freshman year in high school, Justin hanged himself in his bedroom, and was later found by his mother and two brothers.

Now Tammy wants to take Justin's story directly to Rep. Michele Bachmann, who has been silent on the issue of anti-gay bullying in schools despite a string of nine recent teen suicides in her district. Tammy will present CREDO members' signatures at a meeting with Michele Bachmann's Minnesota office on Thursday.

And it's not just the U. S. Justice Department zeroing in on the abomination at the Anoka-Hennepin school district. The New York Times recently did an update story on a now pending lawsuit against the school district. Here are some highlights:

This sprawling suburban school system, much of it within Michele Bachmann’s Congressional district, is caught in the eye of one of the country’s hottest culture wars — how homosexuality should be discussed in the schools.

After years of harsh conflict between advocates for gay students and Christian conservatives, the issue was already highly charged here. Then in July, six students brought a lawsuit contending that school officials have failed to stop relentless antigay bullying and that a district policy requiring teachers to remain “neutral” on issues of sexual orientation has fostered oppressive silence and a corrosive stigma.

Also this summer, parents and students here learned that the federal Department of Justice was deep into a civil rights investigation into complaints about unchecked harassment of gay students in the district. The inquiry is still under way.

Through it all, conservative Christian groups have demanded that the schools avoid any descriptions of homosexuality or same-sex marriage as normal, warning against any surrender to what they say is the “homosexual agenda” of recruiting youngsters to an “unhealthy and abnormal lifestyle.”

In many larger cities, lessons in tolerance of sexual diversity are now routine parts of health education and antibully training. But in the suburbs the battle rages on, perhaps nowhere more bitterly than here in the Anoka-Hennepin School District, just north of Minneapolis. With 38,000 students, it is Minnesota’s largest school system, and most of it lies within the Congressional district of Ms. Bachmann, a Republican contender for president.

Ms. Bachmann has not spoken out on the suicides or the fierce debate over school policy and did not respond to requests to comment for this article. She has in the past expressed skepticism about antibullying programs, and she is an ally of the Minnesota Family Council, a Christian group that has vehemently opposed any positive portrayal of homosexuality in the schools.

Yes, as seems to increasingly be the case when hatred and the abuse and bullying of others is involved, its the "godly Christians" leading the charge to abuse and denigrate others. I again find myself believing that the world might be a far better place if Christianity became a dead religion.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Did Bachmann (Thankfully) Seriously Wounded Herself with HPV Vaccine Claim?

Most of us tethered to objective reality have long know that Michelle Bachmann is a nutcase extremist who will readily make any untrue and unfounded claim that comports with her bizarre world view and that she thinks will play well with her Kool-Aid drinking followers. A case in point? Her claim in the most recent GOP presidential candidate debate that she had met with a mother who told her “that her little daughter took that vaccine, that injection, and she suffered from mental retardation thereafter.” Yes, the statement may have caused issues for the equally deranged Rick Perry, but frankly, if anyone has problems with mental retardation, it's Bachmann and her closeted husband, "Marcia" Bachmann. Now her stupid statement is biting Bachmann in the ass big time and rewards totally $11,000 have been offered to anyone how can produce the mother Bachmann claims to have spoken with about the "mental retardation" resulting from the HPV vaccine. Think Progress looks at Bachmann's idiocy and here are some highlights:

On her quest for relevance, GOP former presidential front runner Rep. Michele Bachmann (MN) is sprinting forward with her attack on fellow candidate Gov. Rick Perry (TX) for mandating girls in Texas receive the HPV vaccine to prevent cervical cancer. Finding success in the ferocity of her first attack, Bachmann took it one step further by championing the idea that the vaccine can cause “mental retardation.”

With that, Bachmann, once again, oversteps the line. The medical community quickly shot down the idea that the HPV vaccine is dangerous. In fact, University of Pennsylvania bioethicist Art Caplan is offering $10,000 to Bachmann’s charity of choice if she can provide one case that proves her claim.

It is important to note that the woman who Bachmann reported made this claim has yet to be found or come forward. Meanwhile, the American Academy of Pediatrics released a statement specifically to “correct” Bachmann’s “false statements”: “The American Academy of Pediatrics would like to correct false statements made in the Republican presidential campaign that HPV vaccine is dangerous and can cause mental retardation,” the American Academy of Pediatrics said in a statement released Tuesday afternoon. “There is absolutely no scientific validity to this statement. Since the vaccine has been introduced, more than 35 million doses have been administered, and it has an excellent safety record.”

New York University infectious disease expert Dr. Marc Siegel viewed Bachmann’s attack as simply “a political backlash against the whole idea of vaccines.” Indeed, other doctors suggested that parents and politicians are just “uncomfortable with the though of vaccinating children against HPV than other diseases because of the virus’ status as a sexually transmitted disease.”

Crumbling under the weight of scientific evidence, Bachmann offered a curious defense: “I am not a doctor, I’m not a scientist, I’m not a physician.”

Even those closest to Bachmann panned her HPV error. Her former campaign manager Ed Rollins called it a misstep. “‘You check that out. You don’t make a broad statement like that when science supports the opposite conclusion,” he said. Her former chief of staff Ron Carey said the error reflects her “impulsive” nature: “Sometimes I’m afraid that she reads maybe 80 or 90 percent and leaves out or forgets the ten or 20 percent that can change the outcome.”

God help us if someone as stupid and reckless as Bachmann is elected to the White House. She's an idiot who refuses to recognize her own huge limitations and because of that is terribly dangerous if in a position of power.

Thursday Morning Male Beauty

The GOP Establishment's Rick Perry Problem

I have noted before how the GOP Establishment in the pursuit of short term gain helped empower the Christian Right's and Tea Party's control over the party. It was all about short term expediency combined with perhaps a dose of hubris on the part of the establishment folks that they could control the crazies they had helped to unleash. Now, some seem to be realizing that the inmates are taking over the asylum and that the longer term future of the GOP may not be what they'd envisioned. There's a certain level of satisfaction to be found in the angst now gripping the GOP establishment. However, the insane and dangerous forces they helped let loose are a frightening prospect for those who truly care about America. E.J. Dionne looks at the phenomenon in the Washington Post. Here are excerpts:

The Republican establishment is said to have grave qualms about Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s presidential campaign. Here’s the problem: There is no Republican establishment. It squandered its authority by building up the Tea Party’s brigades and then fearing them too much to do anything to check their power.

Worse for those who think Perry would be a general-election disaster is the growing confidence among conservatives that President Obama will be easy to beat. This feeling will be bolstered by Tuesday’s special election that sent a Republican to Congress from New York’s 9th District for the first time since 1923. If Obama is going to lose anyway, many conservatives reason, why not go with their hearts?

[I]f Perry is to be defeated, he will have to do the job himself. . . . His vulnerabilities were certainly on display at this week’s CNN/Tea Party Express debate. Perry still hasn’t disentangled himself from his past suggestions that Social Security is unconstitutional. He will also be hurt by his humane position on immigration. He should be praised for it, but it will only bring him scorn among GOP primary voters.

His biggest problem, however, is his executive order requiring preteen girls in Texas to be immunized against a disease that causes cervical cancer, a decision that the religious right didn’t like and that Perry now says was a mistake. The dangerous charge here is influence-peddling.

It turns out Perry has received almost $30,000 in contributions from Merck over the years (not just the $5,000 he mentioned in the debate), and his ties to Merck have been documented to run deeper than that.

This helps Mitt Romney. It also cheers most Republicans who pass for the establishment these days and who worry that the Tea Party crowd will get Perry nominated. Yet these Republicans have only themselves to blame for abdicating to the far right.

Moderate politicians have been drummed out of the party or silenced as its leaders have played ball with the extremists throughout Obama’s term, rarely calling out their most outlandish and mendacious attacks.
The theory was that anything that weakened Obama was good for the GOP. When Tea Party commentators proffered conspiracy theories straight out of the old John Birch Society playbook, Republican officials either stayed mum or nodded sagely as if their new allies were referencing Edmund Burke or Milton Friedman.

The Republican triumph in a New York City district that uses a lovely stretch of water to connect white ethnic neighborhoods in Queens and Brooklyn will aggravate the party’s overconfidence and prevent a showdown with the Tea Party.

[I]f conservatives see New York’s 9th as further evidence that Obama is a pushover, Rick Perry — if he doesn’t self-destruct — will be able to tell them he is the guy who can destroy the Great Society, the New Deal and the Progressive Era with one decisive blow. And no establishment will be there to stop him.

Unfortunately, if Perry should be elected in 2012, all of us will ultimately pay a high price. Emigration anyone?

Lisa Miller Kidnapping Accomplice Seeks to Move Trial to Virginia

Timothy David Miller, who is charged with assisting "ex-gay" Lisa Miller in kidnapping Lisa Miller's daughter in defiance of a Vermont court order is now seeking to have his trial moved from Vermont to Virginia where he no doubt - perhaps accurately - believes he will find friendlier judges and/or jurors, especially if the trial is in the Western District of Virginia, the most backward and reactionary part of the state. While Timothy Miller was arrested in Virginia, the court order he defied was issued by a Vermont court which would seem to make the Vermont venue appropriate. Others who have not been charged in the case although who appear to have suspiciously involved are folks at good old Bible thumping Liberty University and Liberty University Law School. Here are more details on the legal tussle from the Boston Globe:

A missionary charged with helping a woman involved in a custody dispute with her former lesbian partner flee the United States with the child wants his trial moved from Vermont to Virginia. In a motion filed Thursday in federal court in Rutland, Vt., a lawyer for Timothy David Miller said he also wants statements made to investigators in April excluded from the evidence, arguing that his client was not read his Miranda rights.

[Lisa] Miller, who once lived in Forest, Va., has repeatedly failed to obey court orders, and in November 2009 a Vermont judge ordered her to surrender custody to Jenkins. Miller failed to show up with the child on Jan. 1, 2010, and a federal warrant was issued for her arrest.

A lawyer for Timothy Miller said the Christian pastor, who was living in Managua, was stopped April 18 by US marshals and an FBI agent when he arrived at Reagan National Airport with his wife and four children. The were traveling to a wedding in Virginia.

Miller was interviewed at the airport police department office, where he told investigators he had been contacted by another man to purchase airplane tickets for Lisa Miller, and used his mother-in-law’s credit card to do so, according to the motion filed by Pennsylvania attorney Jeffrey A. Conrad.

[Timothy] Miller, described by the FBI as an Amish-Mennonite pastor from Tennessee, was charged with international parental kidnapping.

Conrad argues that the incriminating statements should be thrown out because Miller was the subject of an interrogation and was detained without having his rights read. He also says that the most appropriate place for the trial is the Western District of Virginia.

The alleged actions that constitute international parental kidnapping took place there, and the defendant was in Nicaragua when the alleged crime occurred and has never traveled to Vermont or had contact with anyone in the state, Conrad said in the motion.

One can only hope that in the course of the trial some of the folks at Liberty University are further implicated and charged as well.

Fort Monroe and the Future of Hampton

Since 1828 Fort Monroe has stood in Hampton at the mouth of Hampton Roads harbor and remained an active military base. Today, that will all change after almost 200 years after the Army departs Fort Monroe. The 565-acre fort will no longer serve as an active military base and its future uses and development are still not fully resolved. It seems destined to remain home to hundreds of residents and, potentially, to businesses and nonprofit and academic institutions such as the Casemate Museum.

The Fort Monroe Authority, a state agency, will oversee leasing 300 residential units and 1.5 million square feet of commercial space. Officials also are working to designate much of the land a national park. To date Barack Obama has not acted to designate the Fort as a National Monument and Congress has yet to act as well. If handled properly, Fort Monroe could be a huge tourist draw and a wonderful asset to the region. Much of the control over the fort's future rests with the Commonwealth of Virginia - I truly hope this jewel doesn't get squandered and/or misused. More on Fort Monroe can be found here.

Interestingly enough, the City of Hampton has asked HRBOR to hold its December, 2011, business networking event at Fort Monroe. Information on the effort to secure national park status is here.

Pat Robertson Says Divorce is OK if Spouse Has Alzheimer's

Hampton Roads' local whack job and most visible - and disgusting - professional Christian once again demonstrates the utter hypocrisy of the most outspoken Christianists. They claim that the Bible is inerrant yet conveniently ignore it when it leads to an unpleasant result in their own lives. Then it's perfectly fine to jettison inconvenient passages such as the directive against divorce. In his latest case of batshitery, Robertson says that its perfectly fine to divorce and abandon your spouse if they come down with Alzheimer's. Can't you just feel the Christian love? Here are highlights from the Virginian Pilot:

Religious broadcaster Pat Robertson told his "700 Club" viewers that divorcing a spouse with Alzheimer's disease is justifiable because the disease is "a kind of death."

During the portion of the show where the one-time Republican presidential candidate takes questions from viewers, Robertson was asked what advice a man should give to a friend who began seeing another woman after his wife started suffering from the incurable neurological disorder. The question was posed with 10 minutes left in the broadcast.

"I know it sounds cruel, but if he's going to do something, he should divorce her and start all over again . . . . The chairman of the Christian Broadcasting Network, which airs the "700 Club," said he wouldn't "put a guilt trip" on anyone who divorces a spouse who suffers from the illness, but added, "Get some ethicist besides me to give you the answer."

Most Christian denominations at least discourage divorce, citing Jesus' words in the Gospel of Mark that equate divorce and remarriage with adultery. Terry Meeuwsen, Robertson's co-host, asked him about couples' marriage vows to take care of each other "for better or for worse" and "in sickness and in health."

"If you respect that vow, you say 'til death do us part,'" Robertson said during the Tuesday broadcast. "This is a kind of death." A network spokesman said Wednesday that Robertson had no further statement.

The world would be a far better place without Robertson's and the Christianists' version of Christianity.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

More Wednesday Male Beauty

Where Were the "Good Christians" in North Carolina?

In a blog post today blogger friend Pam Spaulding voiced her disillusionment and hurt over the passage of anti-gay legislation that will put a proposed constitutional amendment banning all legal recognition of same sex couples on the ballot to coincide with the GOP primary next May. I have experienced Pam's pain and hurt since I experienced the same feelings back in November, 2006, when Virginia's heinous Marshall-Newman amendment was passed and banned any and all recognition of same sex relationships (in Virginia pets and their owners now have a stronger legal relationship that do same sex couples). Sadly, the proposed North Carolina constitutional amendment - which was drafted with the help of anti-gay hate groups and Christianist extremists - copied the worse aspects of Virginia's foul amendment. The objective, of course, is to denigrate and stigmatize same sex couples and in effect dehumanize us and our relationships. Here's a sampling of Pam's reaction:

For the first time in a long time – I just bawled driving home; I’m not one to cry easily, either. The North Carolina General Assembly has declared that I’m subhuman – but they’ll gladly take my lesbian tax dollars, thank you very much.

I just need some time to grieve for the state that I love, that I grew up in, and decided after many years in New York City to return to because at heart, I’m a southern girl. . . . We need to start on GOTV work if we want to defeat a marriage amendment.

Whether or not Christians want to admit it, this foul piece of legislation in North Carolina is the work of those wrapping themselves in the flag of Christianity. Much of the effort was the result of the work of anti-gay hate groups, Christianist and religious leaders and their followers who inundated the legislature with anti-gay messages and who, if given a free rein, would abolish religious freedom for anyone not subscribing to their intolerant and hate based belief system. I'm sorry, but I cannot help but ask "where were the good Christians" in this fight? As Pam previously noted:

Equality North Carolina today released the names of 242 clergy and faith leaders from across North Carolina who have, in the past two weeks, signed on to a statement publicly denouncing a proposed anti-gay constitutional amendment and calling on state lawmakers to join them in opposing the legislation. The clergy join 526 additional people of faith every corner of the state who have also signed a public declaration against the amendment.

But where were the masses of supposedly "good Christians"? Did they write and contact their legislators in droves as the Christianists and Bible beaters did? By Pam's numbers, seven hundred and sixty-eight Christians and religious leaders went on record in their opposition to the legislation. But how many others did so? Sadly, I suspect very few. It's yet another example of the Christian equivalent of the "good German" phenomenon where people sit by silently and allow evil things to happen. Some will say that I am too strong in my calling out of the "good Christians" for their weakness and tacit hand in allowing evil. If anything, I am probably to easy on them. It makes me sick and it makes me wonder when these people will wake up? When their own freedom of religion is lost?

Another North Carolina blogger who I consider a "straight ally" whether he considers himself as such or not summed up the situation in North Carolina well. Here's highlights from Civil Commotion:

The North Carolina Senate voted 30-16 Tuesday to place on the May ballot a constitutional amendment which defines marriage as the union of one man and one woman. If enacted, the amendment will proscribe same sex marriage, same sex civil unions, and may be construed to proscribe the same sex partner benefits increasingly common amongst Fortune 500 companies.

The backers of this amendment have struggled for years to get it on the ballot, and poll after poll has shown that, though most Tarheels are opposed to same sex marriage, there is little support for actually amending the constitution. For several good reasons, which deserve to prevail, the amendment ought to be defeated.

First, it is morally objectionable.
Absent a showing of harm to anybody, neither I, nor you, nor anybody else, has a right to put his hands on his neighbor’s Life, Liberty, and Pursuit of Happiness.

Second, the amendment is being advanced in a fundamentally dishonest way. . . . If the legislature really wanted the let the people “make that decision,” (and remember, polls have repeatedly shown that few of us are interested in such an amendment) they would have put it on the November, or general election, ballot. In the event, they’ve put it on the May, or primary, ballot. Obama is not expected to face a primary challenger, and so few Democrats will have much of an incentive to go to the polls. Which loony should carry the Republican banner is undecided, though, so there will be a lot more Republicans at the polls on primary day. In short, they’ve stacked the deck to enable a minority of activists to amend the constitution — in the name of letting the people “make that decision.”

The overt malice of the amendment, and the dishonesty and effrontery of its champions, is downright staggering — and deserve to be decisively smacked down.

One can only hope that the measure is either defeated or that the federal courts will strike down such bans on civil marriage as unconstitutional.

Cheers Greet Rick Perry at Anti-Knowledge Liberty University

Here in the Commonwealth of Virginia one doesn't find a stronger anti-intelligence and objective reality denying crowd than among the religious zealots at Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia, although the loons at Pat Robertson's Regent University and Mike Farris' Patrick Henry College are not far behind in the race for complete idiocy. As noted before on this blog and elsewhere, Liberty University teaches its students to ignore the law, support kidnapping and to hold a blind allegiance to the belief that the Bible is inerrant no matter what science and rational intellect prove to the contrary. Hence, it was a perfect marriage of the dumb and dumber for Rick Perry to visit Liberty University and address the Kool-Aid drinkers. One can only hope that Perry's statements at Liberty gain wide play in the main stream media and help voters realize that the guy is an extremist. Here are highlights from Washington Post coverage:

LYNCHBURG, Va. — Texas Gov. Rick Perry is a man of faith, and one of the big questions about him has been whether he would seek the presidency more as an evangelist or as a job-creator.

On the debate stage, Perry decidedly has done the latter. But he demonstrated Wednesday that he would not shy away from cloaking his candidacy in his Christianity, delivering an address here at the late Jerry Falwell’s Liberty University that presented his life in deeply spiritual terms and cast his political aspirations as destiny.

In perhaps his most reflective and personal remarks as a Republican presidential candidate, Perry never once said the word he utters just about everywhere else: “jobs.” His 20-minute speech was shorn of policy prescriptions and denouncements of President Obama. Instead, the evangelical Christian governor spoke the language of the movement with ease.

“Rick Perry’s a more overt, less subtle guy than George W. Bush, and he is going to be more overt in his policy statements and his statements about his faith,” said Richard Land, a longtime leader of the Southern Baptist Convention

Perry said before an estimated 13,000 students and faculty members who filled the basketball arena here for their thrice-weekly convocation.

[Liberty Chancellor] Falwell said he would not endorse in the race, but gave Perry a particularly enthusiastic introduction Wednesday, calling him “one of the most pro-life governors in American history” and likening him to Reagan.

Absent from the list of those who’ve made a pilgrimage here is Perry’s top rival for the nomination, former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney, who has rarely, if ever, publicly discussed his Mormon faith during his current campaign.

With his speech here, Perry drew one of his sharpest contrasts with Romney, as well as former Utah governor Jon Huntsman Jr. The contrast was not only over religion — Huntsman, too, is Mormon — but over their backgrounds. Romney and Huntsman are sons of privileged families, but Perry spoke at length about his more humble origins.

Wednesday Morning Male Beauty

Will Evangelical Pastors Heed the GOP Dog Whistle in 2012?

While the Democrat base remains demoralized and apathetic, the extremists and religious fanatics of the GOP/Christianist camp are busy working to whip their mindless, objective reality denying followers into a frenzy. One of the main networks for achieving this goal is through Kool-Aid drinking pastors who are recruited to energize their easily swayed flocks. Here in Virginia, evangelical pastors react to the anti-democratic and discriminatory directives of The Family Foundation like dogs reacting to a dog whistle. As noted yesterday in the context of the vote of the North Carolina legislature, this includes black pastors even though their white masters in the Christianist organizations would happily role the clock back to the first half of the 19th century. The Sacramento Bee has a story looking at the efforts of the Christianists - including registered anti-gay hate groups - which ought to scare the Hell out of LGBT citizens. Here are highlights:

AMES, Iowa -- For most of his two decades as a preacher, Iowa pastor Mike Demastus eschewed partisanship, telling colleagues and congregants that "religion and politics don't mix." But there he was last month in Ames, making his way across the festive grounds of the Republican presidential straw poll, mingling with political operatives and candidates as he spoke openly about his preference for Rep. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota.

He wasn't alone. The straw poll drew a slew of previously apolitical Iowa pastors - a constituency increasingly heeding a call to speak out on politics. There is a concerted assault on everything that we consider sacred - and we pastors need to move to the forefront of the battle," said Demastus, donned in T-shirt and shorts for the Saturday event.

Demastus represents a growing movement of evangelical pastors who are jumping into the electoral fray as never before, preaching political engagement from the pulpit as they mobilize for the 2012 election.

This new activism has substantial muscle behind it: a cadre of experienced Christian organizers and some of the conservative movement's most generous donors, who are setting up technologically sophisticated operations to reach pastors and their congregations in battleground states.

"The Christian activist right is the largest, best organized and, I believe, the most powerful force in American politics today," said Rob Stein, a Democratic strategist who recently provided briefings on the constituency to wealthy donors on the left. "No other political group comes even close."

The pastor movement is being guided and ministered to by a growing web of well-financed organizations that offer seminars, online tools and a battery of lawyers.

Tim Wildmon, who runs the American Family Association [a registered hate group], one of the most generous underwriters of Christian conservative activism, predicted that evangelicals in 2012 will match the fervency of the Ronald Reagan era - in large part because so many pastors are prodding their flocks to the polls. "They're going to be telling their parishioners to get registered and to make sure to go vote," he said. "I think it's huge."

Boosting the movement are veteran figures such as Ralph Reed, the former head of the Christian Coalition. His new organization, Faith & Freedom Coalition, is developing a targeted list of Christian voters in key states, a tool it used to reach thousands of voters in Wisconsin's recent recall elections.

New players are even more ambitious. United in Purpose, financed by an anonymous group of Silicon Valley venture capitalists, aims to register 5 million conservative Christians to vote. The organization boasts a sophisticated database that identifies millions of unregistered evangelical and born-again Christian voters around the country.

As pastors speak out on political matters, they've drawn admonitions from groups such as Americans United for Separation of Church and State, which warns that such activism could jeopardize their churches' nonprofit status. But the religious leaders are bolstered by well-funded Christian legal organizations supporting their cause.

My thoughts on this? Be afraid if you value religious freedom and equality under the law for all citizens. These pastors and their folks are providing the foot soldiers for those who cheer allowing the uninsured to die and the free and wide use of the death penalty. In some ways, they represent a new form of Neo-Nazi movement disguised under the cloak of religion. They are a clear and present danger to democracy.

Do Twin Defeats Point to Democrat Debacle in 2012?

Democrats lost two congressional special elections yesterday, one in suburban New York City and the other in Nevada. Prognosticators are trying to read the election results as tea leaves for the 2012 elections next year. Obviously, each race has its own unique issues and characteristics including the strengths and weaknesses of the specific candidates. Beyond that, however, larger trends also play a part such as voter turn out and whether or not the respective parties' base is energized or not. Sadly, since 2009 it seems the Democrat base is disillusioned and uninspired. That phenomenon and a terrible Democrat candidate for governor ushered in the sweep by the GOP in Virginia in 2009 which continues to drag Virginia backwards even today. Personally, I continue to believe much of the fault goes to the White House and its failed "lead from behind" strategy. Video clips of Obama's remarks in Ohio pushing his jobs bill is the type of behavior we should have been seeing for the last two and a half years. Whether there is time to turn around the malaise is the number one question. Relying on fear of the GOP is not a winning strategy. Here are highlights from Politico:

The Democratic Party’s rare loss of a congressional seat in its urban heartland Tuesday, accompanied by a blowout defeat in a Nevada special election, marked the latest in a string of demoralizing setbacks that threatened to deepen the party’s crisis of confidence and raise concerns about President Barack Obama’s political fortunes.

In New York, Republican Bob Turner soundly defeated Democrat David Weprin in a House contest that – in the view of party leaders, at least — featured an anemic urban machine, distracted labor unions, and disloyal voters. In Nevada, a consequential state for the president’s re-election strategy, Democrats suffered a runaway loss rooted in a weak showing in Reno’s Washoe County, a key bellwether.

Even before the polls closed, the recriminations – something short of panic, and considerably more than mere grumbling – had begun. On a high-level campaign conference call Tuesday afternoon, Democratic donors and strategists commiserated over their disappointment in Obama. A source on the call described the mood as “awful.” “People feel betrayed, disappointed, furious, disgusted, hopeless,” said the source.

A senior Hill Democratic aide was more direct in attempting to explain the New York loss: “The approval ratings for the guy at the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue cratered.” A Turner consultant, Steve Goldberg, validated that assessment: “It was all Obama — not even a thought of anything else.”

“Let’s face it - it has been a tough summer for Democrats,” said Jack Quinn, a top lobbyist and former White House Counsel to President Clinton. “But I really do think that people are feeling better.”

Quinn said, however, that Obama must confront the GOP. “They didn’t get the House and say, ‘We want half a loaf.’ They’ve said, ‘we want the whole goddamn oven,’” he argued. “It’s time for the president to really draw some hard lines here.”

[T]he party’s structural weaknesses were on full display in the stunning New York defeat—the party’s first loss of a Brooklyn or Queens congressional seat in a generation. The Queens Democratic Party’s decision to nominate Weprin, an Orthodox Jewish member of the state Assembly who lives in another district, was driven by “the most blatant ethnic politics,” said Mitchell Moss, a professor of urban planning at New York University. It was an old-school play that failed: Turner fought hard for Jewish votes over the issues of Israel and same-sex marriage, and Orthodox leaders were well-represented at his victory party at an Italian restaurant in Howard Beach.

Much of New York’s still-powerful labor movement, meanwhile, sat the race out — distracted, demoralized, and with other fish to fry. The labor-backed Working Families Party, a juggernaut in other city races, chose to put its resources Tuesday into a bitter internecine battle with the Brooklyn Democratic organization – leaving Weprin to rely on the rusting party machine.

It was a nightmare scenario for Democrats that threatens to repeat itself on the national level, as major unions turn away from their traditional level of engagement. AFL-CIO leaders have talked about focusing their spending on state-level races. The giant SEIU has discussed replacing what had been an all-out campaign for Obama in 2008 with a campaign more focused on the issue of jobs.

And labor union leaders in Washington watched with frustration as a heavily Democratic, pro-union, blue-collar district slipped away. “Obama needs to reconnect with labor, get in the trenches with us again,” said a veteran labor official. “There is, among my members, a sense of disconnect with him. He needs to signal to us that he is a labor champion, not just supported by labor.”

And so as they eye Obama’s re-election a year away, many Democratic leaders are taking an unexpectedly passive line. They’re pinning their hopes on the chance that the Republican Party nominates a figure who will, essentially, defeat him or herself.

It's frightening to think of the possibility of a President Perry, but Obama seems to be doing all he can do to alienate the Democrat base. It drives me crazy!!