Saturday, October 01, 2011

Death of Gay Mormon Hopefullt Will Spur Activism

Back in September I wrote about the sad and tragic suicide death of Bryan Egnew (pictured at right with his family) who came out to his wife at age 40 after years of marriage only to quickly find himself excommunicated from the Mormon Church and separated from his five children. Perhaps understandably, Egnew felt that suicide was his best option. While Egnew was Mormon - admittedly a particularly anti-gay denomination - similar horrors are inflicted on those from other denominations such as the Roman Catholic Church, the Southern Baptist Convention and many others. Worse yet, all to often divorce court judges are little better and cannot put their personal religious based bigotry aside in order to see the common humanity of gay litigants. From my own experience I could name two Norfolk Circuit Court judges who fail into this category and who, under even Virginia's Canons of Judicial Conduct ought to be removed from the bench because of their judicial misconduct. If there is any good news arising from Bryan Egnew's sad story (which resonates with me because of some of the parallels) it is the fact that it may give rise to much needed activism to counter suck anti-gay bigotry. A column in Religion Dispatches looks at events in the aftermath of Egnew's suicide. Here are some highlights:

Bryan Egnew grew up in an observant LDS family in Arizona, the fourth of ten children. After graduating high school, he attended Brigham Young University, served a proselytizing mission in France, and then married in an LDS temple. He became the father of five children. He served in his local LDS congregation. He did everything that was asked of him.

And over the course of more than twenty years, Bryan slowly came to terms with the fact that he was attracted to men.
Six years ago, Bryan confided his attraction with a friend he’d known since BYU days. Jahn Curran was a fellow Mormon, a father, and someone who’d also come to terms with his own homosexuality a few years earlier.

Jahn offered Bryan a listening ear, and some practical advice. When Bryan called a few months ago, saying he could keep his situation from his wife no longer, Jahn told him, "Be prepared to fight a legal battle. Get a lawyer.

Within two weeks, Bryan was excommunicated from the LDS Church. From the perspective of Mormon doctrine, his excommunication severed Bryan’s relationship to his children not only in this life, but also in the hereafter.

Alone in his home in North Carolina, Bryan was devastated. His parents flew out to be with him, then brought him back to Arizona for intensive treatment for depression.

After a few weeks of therapy, Bryan convinced his parents and his therapist that he was stable enough to return home to North Carolina, so he could look after the family home. Back in North Carolina, on Saturday, September 10, Bryan bought a gun at Wal-Mart. He fed the family’s animals, cleaned the house, handed the keys to a neighbor, sent a message to a family member that they needed to come to the house, and then went on the front lawn and shot himself.

[T]he story became public. And now, advocacy groups are mobilizing around Bryan’s story to demand that LDS Church leaders do more for gay Church members. Within gay Mormon communities, there is debate over whether focusing on gay suicides actually works to change Mormon hearts and minds.

But in the wake of Bryan’s death, many Mormons—LGBT and otherwise—are reflecting on the kind of support our communities are capable of offering gay Mormons who feel they can no longer hide their sexuality.

We’ve been taught that it is an abomination—the choice of selfish individuals. We’ve believed that same-gender attraction is comparable to a disease like alcoholism, or to pornography addiction—an unhealthy compulsion to be battled and overcome. We’ve bought into the idea—and many Mormons still do—that it is possible to change one’s sexual orientation through various therapies, or marriage, or prayer and fasting. We’ve been led to believe that equal rights and protections for same-sex couples constitute a threat to our religious freedom.

[D]o any of these serve the thousands upon thousands of young Mormons who are coming to terms with their attraction to people of the same sex? Do any of these prepare non-gay Mormons to respond to gay sons and daughters, husbands and wives, mothers and fathers, or fellow Latter-day Saints?

May this weekend’s Conference bring some kind of strength to all those who love and care about Bryan--including his family, LGBT Mormons, and the families of LGBT Mormons around the world.

I'm sorry, but I have no sympathy whatsoever for Egnew's wife. She acted as a mean selfish bitch. She obviously cared nothing for her husband and likewise deep down cared nothing for her children who she helped to deprived of a father (increasing their likelihood of suicide in the process). As for the Mormon Church leadership, I am confident that if there is is Hell, they have special reserved seats for the abuse, hate, and intolerance they have inflicted on others even as the pat themselves on the back for their false piety and self-congratulation. Common whores have more integrity and moral upstanding. Both the Mormon Church leadership and Egnew's wife literally have blood on their hands and I sincerely hope they are haunted for the rest of their miserable lives. The world would be a better place if far right Christianity - be it under the nomenclature of Catholicism, Southern Baptist, or Evangelical Christian - and far right Mormon beliefs disappeared from the planet. Am I being too harsh in this assessment? I think not. If anything, I am not harsh enough. Religion in this form is an immense evil that needs to be irradiated because it is solely about hate and fear.

Saturday Morning Male Beauty

Pentagon OK's Chaplains Performing Gay Weddings

One can almost hear the hyperventilating and sound of flying spittle that must be emanating from Elaine Donnelly, Maggie Gallagher, Tony Perkins and similar professional gay-haters. Why? Because now military chaplains on bases in states where same sex marriage is legal can perform weddings for sames sex couples. It's yet another blow against the special privileges too long afforded to far right Christian religious beliefs that have been allowed to trample on the religious freedom of other citizens. Be assured that there will be shrieks that such weddings are a threat to religious freedom, but in truth the Christianist (and Catholic Church) version of religious freedom is the freedom to inflict one's beliefs on all of society. The Washington Post reports on the new policy. Here are some highlights:

The Pentagon will permit military chaplains to perform same-sex marriage as long as such ceremonies are not prohibited in the states where they reside, it said Friday.

Defense Department guidance issued to military chaplains said they may participate in ceremonies on or off military bases in states that recognize gay unions. Chaplains are not required to officiate at same-sex weddings if doing so is counter to their religious or personal beliefs, the guidance said.

And regardless of the Pentagon guidance, military chaplains will still need to take cues from their religious order, said Gary Pollitt, spokesman for the Military Chaplains Association.

The decision validates a move made by the Navy in May that earned the ire of conservative critics and Pentagon observers, because Navy officials acted on their own instead of in tandem with other military services. The guidance also irked Republican lawmakers who were still attempting to block plans to end the ban on gays serving openly in the military, known as “don’t ask, don’t tell.”

For those who want to inflict their religious views on everyone, I'd suggest they convert to Islam and move to Iran. The mindset and level of intolerance of the Christian Taliban is really no different than their Islamic counterparts. A copy of the Pentagon memo is set out below (click the image for a larger view)

Anoka-Hennepin TeachersTest Requires Affirmation of District's Anti-Gay Policy

Faced with a Federal lawsuit and an Office of Civil Rights investigation one would think that the Anoka-Hennepin School District make some small effort not to add ammunition to those who allege that the district - located in loon Michele Bachmann's congressional district - has a serious anti-gay atmosphere which is aided and abetted by the district's anything but unbiased "neutrality policy" that prohibits any positive discussion of mention pro-LGBT topics or information. Christianists (which seem to control the school district), on the other hand are free to spew anti-gay bigotry. Now it turns out that in order to pass a required teachers' test, teacher must endorse the fiction that the school districts anti-gay policy isn't - anti-gay. For those who are honest enough to admit that the emperor, if you will, has no clothes, a failing grade is the result. The supposed correct answer is that the district’s policy limiting discussions of LGBT issues in the district’s schools is intended to make “students feel safe.” Here are some highlights from the Minnesota Independent:

Some teachers at Anoka-Hennepin School District have failed a teachers test because they refused to affirm that the district’s policy limiting discussions of LGBT issues in the district’s schools is intended to make “students feel safe.”

The district’s policy is at the heart of a culture war in the district and is the subject of a lawsuit by six students and their parents who say the district has not taken appropriate steps to prevent bullying against students who are, or are perceived to be, LGBT.

City Pages reported on Wednesday that a training test required by all teachers contains the question: “One of the goals of the Sexual Orientation Curriculum Policy is to ensure all of our students feel safe and respected in our classrooms and/or while participating in school activities: true or false?”

City Pages notes that several teachers in the district are refusing to answer “true,” which causes them to fail the training test.

The policy states that “Anoka-Hennepin staff, in the course of their professional duties, shall remain neutral on matters regarding sexual orientation including but not limited to student led discussions.” Yet, the policy only targets LGBT issues.

[T]he Southern Poverty Law Center and the National Center for Lesbian Rights have filed suit against the district on behalf of six students and their families.

The federal Department of Education and the Department of Justice have also launched investigations into the district after the suicide deaths of nine students in the past two years, several of whom were known to identify as LGBT.

The policy is a farce and like so much coming out of the mouths of "cultural conservatives" is a outright lie. It's all about allowing LGBT students to be victimized while giving special privileges to toxic "Christian" beliefs. Kudos to the teachers who refuse to support the lie.

No Settlement Should Be Made with Mortgage Lenders

As the economy continues in recession (if one is honest in their assessment we ARE still in recession) and the residential housing markets remains in the toilet, everyone is suffering except for those who created the mess: reckless mortgage lenders and Wall Street racketeers who knowingly packaged questionable loans in what's called "securitizing" and sold them to investors. The end result is that investors got burned big time and that no one was accountable for handling foreclosures - and it seems at times even servicing the loans.

Years into the mess, and lenders still are not being held to account and the utter mismanagement and incompetence of servicers and those allegedly in charge of loan modifications make the Three Stooges look like highly competent rocket scientists. I have clients who deserve loan modifications based on changed circumstances, etc., yet all they get is the run around and find themselves dealing with morons who lose paperwork over and over and over again. These irresponsible lenders were seeking a global settlement with the state attorney generals - which would have let them get off in an obscene way. Now, that effort seems to be unraveling as California has pulled out of the deal. Rather than letting the real villains off while prosecuting small bit players, the states need to go after the real culprits and send them to jail. The Los Angeles Times looks at California's decision not to let the lenders and Wall Street off easy. Here are some highlights:

A slew of state attorneys general banded together 11 months ago to try to extract a multibillion-dollar settlement from banks for the way they mishandled foreclosures. The prospects of a deal have been clouded, however, by dissension in the AGs' ranks. On Friday, California Atty. Gen. Kamala Harris became the latest to drop out, announcing that she would pursue her own investigation. Top prosecutors in half a dozen other states, including New York, Nevada and Massachusetts, have already pulled out of the multi-state talks, saying they were concerned that the group wasn't demanding enough from banks in exchange for settling the states' claims.

We're all for holding lenders and loan servicers accountable for the illegal shortcuts they've taken and misrepresentations they've made, and Harris' frustration with the slow pace of negotiations is understandable.

In addition to fairly compensating those who were directly harmed, the AGs' goal should be to make sure struggling borrowers are treated reasonably, rationally and efficiently — something that overwhelmed lenders have failed to do.

Even a borrower who has no chance of avoiding foreclosure has rights, and banks ignored them in their sloppy and corner-cutting responses to the skyrocketing number of defaults. There's also a good argument to be made that banks violated consumer protection laws by making promises they didn't keep about loan modifications for troubled borrowers.

That includes enabling more borrowers in hardship to write off some of their debt, making it easier for troubled borrowers to sell homes that are worth less than their mortgages, and ending the indefensible practice of lenders foreclosing on homes while the owners are negotiating with them for more affordable loans.

The truth is that the lenders don't give a damn about fair treatment of borrowers. And they don't give a damn about the ultimate cost to taxpayers who will end up paying the price as lenders are bailed out by HUD, FHA, VA and Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. The lenders have been winning while everyone else gets screwed over. It's time for this to end.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Friday Morning Male Beauty

The GOP's Phony Fear Factor

The GOP always has to have someone or something to blame for the state of society or the state of economy. In respect to the state of society, it's gays, blacks, immigrants (both legal and illegal), non-Christians, etc. who always bear responsibility in the GOP/Christianist warped world view. In economic matters, it's almost always taxes and/or government regulation. The fact that none of these supposed culprits and causes is not true never matters in the GOP/Christianist fantasy land. Many business owners would increase hiring if the business demand was present - I would do so personally if anyone in Washington would make the effort to stabilize the housing market and get real estate sales flourishing once again. Unfortunately, in that realm, there's too little regulation to require banks and mortgage lenders to restructure loans and stop pushing loans to foreclosure where they know they will be bailed out by FHA, HUD, mortgage insurers, etc. - leaving taxpayers to bear the expense and generating legions of evicted families and further depressed housing prices as the end product. In the New York Times Paul Krugman looks at the GOP phony mantra that government regulation is blocking economic recovery

The good news: After spending a year and a half talking about deficits, deficits, deficits when we should have been talking about jobs, job, jobs we’re finally back to discussing the right issue.

The bad news: Republicans, aided and abetted by many conservative policy intellectuals, are fixated on a view about what’s blocking job creation that fits their prejudices and serves the interests of their wealthy backers, but bears no relationship to reality. . . . . The answer, repeated again and again, is that businesses are afraid to expand and create jobs because they fear costly regulations and higher taxes.

The first thing you need to know, then, is that there’s no evidence supporting this claim and a lot of evidence showing that it’s false.

[I]sn’t there something odd about the fact that [big] businesses are making large profits and sitting on a lot of cash but aren’t spending that cash to expand capacity and employment? No.

After all, why should businesses expand when they’re not using the capacity they already have? The bursting of the housing bubble and the overhang of household debt have left consumer spending depressed and many businesses with more capacity than they need and no reason to add more.

Republican assertions about what ails the economy are pure fantasy, at odds with all the evidence. Should we be surprised? At one level, of course not. Politicians who always cater to wealthy business interests say that economic recovery requires catering to wealthy business interests. Who could have imagined it?

Yet it seems to me that there is something different about the current state of economic discussion. Political parties have often coalesced around dubious economic ideas . . . . but I can’t think of a time when a party’s economic doctrine has been so completely divorced from reality. And I’m also struck by the extent to which Republican-leaning economists — who have to know better — have been willing to lend their credibility to the party’s official delusions.

[T]his reflects the party’s broader slide into its own insular intellectual universe. Large segments of the G.O.P. reject climate science and even the theory of evolution, so why expect evidence to matter for the party’s economic views?

The truth is that we’re in this mess because we had too little regulation, not too much. And now one of our two major parties is determined to double down on the mistakes that caused the disaster.

Census DATA Reveals Decreasing White Population in 15 States

New census data will no doubt further energize the Christian Right and its white supremacist allies - that's assuming, of course that the two groups are not one and the same - and cause even more hysteria that "white civilization" is under attack. For a group that likes to put minority rights up to a public vote, the irony is that some day they may find themselves in the minority and have helped set the stage for their own downfall. What's interesting is that the declining white percentages of the population are not confined to boarder states with growing Hispanic populations, but include parts of the Northeast, Mid-West and the South. The KKK loving Tony Perkins and his cohorts at Family Research Council must be hyperventilating indeed! Here are some excerpts from a Washington Post story:

Non-Hispanic whites are a dwindling share of the U.S. population, with their numbers dropping in the Northeast and Midwest and growing only modestly in the South and West, the Census Bureau said Thursday. Whites declined in 15 states, almost all in the industrial and farming states from Massachusetts to Pennsylvania, and from Kansas to Ohio. They also declined in California and three Southern states, including Maryland.

A Census Bureau analysis of the 2010 count showed that the number of non-Hispanic whites rose over the decade from 194.5 million to 197 million, but the 1.2 percent growth rate fell far short of the national increase of 9.7 percent. Non-Hispanic whites are now 64 percent of the population, down from 69 percent a decade ago. The census also reported that the black population grew by 12 percent.

The number of Hispanics and Asians is soaring, the number of blacks is growing slowly and whites are almost at a standstill.

Hispanics are an ethnic group of people who can be of any race. Most Hispanics identified themselves as white. The number of whites who indicated for the census that they are Hispanic increased by 56 percent.

Whites who are not Hispanic are getting older on average, and have low birthrates that, when coupled with the high birthrates of Hispanics and Asians, make whites a smaller share of the population with every census count.

Some states experienced outsize growth in the white population. The number rose by 10 percent or more in Arizona, Hawaii, Idaho, Nevada, North Carolina, South Carolina, Utah and Wyoming. The District, which the census treats as a state for statistical purposes, had a 32 percent leap in whites.

Every state saw its multiple-race population jump by at least 8 percent, and some of the largest increases were in the South. The number of multiracial people more than doubled in the Carolinas and came close to doubling in Georgia and Delaware. Nine of the 10 states with the biggest increases were Southern states.

Yep, not good news for the Christianists and white supremacy crowd. For those of us who don't judge others based upon the color of their skin or ethnic background, it's no big deal.

Ninth Circuit Dismisses Log Cabin Republican v. United States

In a disappointing development a three judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit dismissed the case of Log Cabin Republicans v. United States as moot and vacated all of the rulings in the case, including Judge Phillips' find that DADT was unconstitutional. In truth, the case is anything but moot as 14,000+ servicemembers were wrongfully discharged and many receive reduced retirements and/or were charged for their training costs - all because of an unconstitutional religious based law. The case needs to proceed with a binding finding of unconstitutionality. It is most unfortunate that the three judge panel clearly put politics ahead of justice. Hopefully, the LCR's will seek an en banc review of the three judge panel's ruling and have the case put back on the active docket. Obviously, the U.S. military doesn't want to have to pay for past unconstitutional discharges. Here are highlights from MetroWeekly:

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit today dismissed the Log Cabin Republicans v. United States appeal as moot, following the end of the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" law on Sept. 20. Further, the appeals court vacated the historic trial court decision striking down DADT as unconstitutional, holding, "Those now-void legal rulings and factual findings have no precedential, preclusive, or binding effect."

LCR's lead attorney, White & Case partner Dan Woods, said the group would not be giving up its fight, saying in a statement issued by LCR, "This is an important issue for all Americans and we anticipate seeking re-hearing before the full Ninth Circuit."

The Ninth Circuit panel -- made up of circuit judges Arthur L. Alarcon, Diarmuid F. O’Scannlain, and Barry G. Silverman -- issued the decision per curiam, meaning the decision was issued for the court and not in the name of any particular judge.

Once the court decided to dismiss the case because of the repeal of 10 U.S.C. 654 -- the DADT statute -- the decision did not address the underlying issue at trial of the constitutionality of DADT.

In the LCR statement, R. Clarke Cooper, the group's executive director, said, "The ruling in Log Cabin Republicans v. United States is the reason why Congress finally acted to end this failed and unconstitutional policy. This decision by the Ninth Circuit denies more than 14,000 discharged gay and lesbian servicemembers an important means of obtaining justice for the wrong perpetuated against them under the ban, and leaves open the possibility of future violations of servicemembers' rights.

Once again - at least so far - the court system has thwarted justice. Unfortunately, it is something that happens every day under our legal system.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Thursday Morning Male Beauty

Illinois Catholic Charities Loses Lawsuit Seeking to Maintain Right to Discriminate

When faced with the choice of receiving state funds or ending discriminatory treatment of would be LGBT adoptive or foster parents, Illinois Catholic Charities demanded that it receive state money and be allowed to discriminate against LGBT citizens and taxpayers. In the minds of the bigots at Catholic Charities, the victims of religious based discrimination should help finance an organization that treats them as not only unequal but as vermin. An Illinois judge did not buy the argument and upheld the right of the Illinois Department of Children and Family Service's decision to terminate its adoptive and foster care contracts with catholic Charities. Religious freedom is a two way street - you can believe and practice whatever beliefs, but you don't get to make the general public, including the victims of your intolerant religious beliefs, finance your bigotry. Here are some highlights from WLS-TV in Chicago:

A Sangamon County judge has ruled the Illinois Department of Children and Family Service can begin canceling its adoption and foster care contracts with Catholic Charities. Judge John Schmidt on Monday denied Catholic Charities' request to stay his earlier ruling that the group has no right to state contracts to provide adoption and foster care services.

Illinois ended $30 million in contracts with Catholic Charities in four dioceses in July because the organizations' practice of referring unmarried couples to other agencies was discriminatory, a violation of the state's civil union law.

Catholic Charities has argued it developed a "property interest" in the work after 40 years of annually renewed contracts with the state. Attorneys for Catholic Charities say they will ask the 4th District Appellate Court to stay Schmidt's ruling.

Let's hope that the 4th District Court upholds Judge Schmidt's common sense ruling.

Why "Conservatives" Hate Warren Buffett

With a wealth disparity now surpassing that of Latin America in former years, the USA continues to coddle the super rich and allows them through loop holes and other machinations under the tax code to pay far less than the middle class - or even the lower classes. Then there is the Bush tax cut give away plan that have been so far extended. Few of the ultra-rich - the greedy Koch brothers each worth tens of billions symbolize the worse of that class - don't want to pay a penny more in taxes even though they have more money than they know what to do with. The greed is truly obscene - especially as the numbers living in poverty and lacking medical insurance continue to soar. So much for the Gospel message the conservatives claim to honor. Warren Buffett has been one of the few truly wealthy to admit the mathematical reality that the rich need to pay more if the nation's financial basis is to be set right. For that, he's earned the enmity of so-called conservatives (I'd call them what they are: greedy and selfish). A column in the Washington Post looks at the backlash against Buffett. Here are some highlights:

Maybe only a really, really rich guy can credibly make the case for why the wealthy should be asked to pay more in taxes. You can’t accuse a big capitalist of “class warfare.” That’s why the right wing despises Warren Buffett and is trying so hard to shut him up.

Militant conservatives are effective because they are absolutely shameless. Many of the same people who think the rich should be free to spend unlimited sums influencing our politics without having to disclose anything are now asking Buffett to make his tax returns public. I guess if you’re indifferent to consistency, you have a lot of freedom of action.

Buffett has outraged conservatives by saying that he pays taxes at a lower rate than his secretary. He’s said this for years, but he’s a target now because President Obama is using his comment to make the case for higher taxes on millionaires.

Thus did the Wall Street Journal editorial page call on Buffett to “let everyone else in on his secrets of tax avoidance by releasing his tax returns.” Somehow, the Journal did not think to ask its friends who battle vigorously for low taxes on capital gains to release their tax returns, too. But aren’t they just as engaged in this argument as Buffett? Shouldn’t accountability go both ways? Nor did the Journal suggest that the Koch brothers could serve the public interest by releasing a full accounting of all their political spending.

Buffett’s sin is that he spoke a truth that conservatives want to keep covered up: Taxing capital gains at 15 percent means that people who make their money from investments pay taxes at a much lower marginal rate than those who earn more than $34,500 a year from their labor.

[I]f an investor such as Buffett pockets, say, $100 million of his income in capital gains, he pays only a 15 percent tax on all that money. For everyday working people, the 15 percent rate applies only to earnings between $8,500 and $34,500. After that, they’re paying a higher marginal rate than the multimillionaire pays on gains from investments.

No wonder partisans of low taxes on wealthy investors hate Warren Buffett. He has forced a national conversation on (1) the bias of the tax system against labor; (2) the fact that, in comparison with middle- or upper-middle-class people, the really wealthy pay a remarkably low percentage of their income in taxes; and (3) the deeply regressive nature of the payroll tax.

It’s worth noticing that while conservatives who talk about religion get a lot of coverage — and I will always defend their freedom to speak of faith in the public square — what really get the juices flowing on the right these days are tax rates. I’m not sure that a politician who renounced the Almighty would get nearly the attention Buffett has received for his renunciation of low capital gains taxes.

Wealthy people, by definition, have done better within this system than other people have. They ought to be willing to join Buffett and Edwards in arguing that for this reason alone, it is common sense, not class jealousy, to ask the most fortunate to pay taxes at higher tax rates than other people do. It is for this heresy that Buffett is being harassed.

Defense Spending Cuts Could Savage Virginia's Economy

Sometimes you need to be careful what you ask for. Virginians - foolishly, in my view - too often vote for Republicans both at the state and national level when it's not ultimately in their best interest. Too often the Kool-Aid drinker set in Virginia deceptively whips the general voting public into a frenzy over social issues and rallies support for Christianist and Tea Party GOP candidates - local Congressmen Scott Rigell pictured at left and Randy Forbes are perfects example - with no thought to where some of the anti-government extremism might lead. As the Virginian Pilot is reporting, if the Congressional super committee does not reach a budget cutting agreement, the GOP demanded automatic cuts will go into effect and Virginia will get bitten in the ass big time financially. Not surprisingly, Hampton Roads would feel great pain as would Northern Virginia. Did the AFA endorsed Rigell or Forbes not to mention Pat Robertson's BFF Bob "Taliban Bob" McDonnell think these consequences through, or are they merely stupid demagogues? Here are some story highlights:

If Congress were to cut $1 trillion from the defense budget over the next 10 years, the consequences for Virginia, particularly Hampton Roads, could be bleak, according to a report by Republican staffers on the House Armed Services Committee.

The Navy could see major cutbacks in shipbuilding, thousands fewer sailors, two dozen fewer ships and the loss of two carrier strike groups, the report predicts. Virginia and two other defense-heavy states, California and Texas, could lose 1 of every 4 civilian defense jobs, thousands of defense contracts could dry up and there could be another round of the Base Realignment and Closure Commission, or BRAC.

Nonpartisan defense experts stress the report is a worst-case scenario that may not come to pass. But it does demonstrate the possible effects of deep cuts, they said, particularly because the GOP staff members specifically avoided making cuts to a large part of the budget - military pay, benefits and retirement programs.

A special House-Senate "supercommittee" has until Nov. 23 to trim the budget deficit either by spending cuts, revenue increases or some combination, under the terms of a budget law passed this summer. If the 12-member panel fails, the law triggers automatic spending cuts of $1.2 trillion.

Adm. Mike Mullen, the retiring chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, has said if the automatic cuts - called sequestration - are made, the Pentagon could lose about $1.1 trillion over 10 years, according to Congressional Quarterly.

U.S. Rep. Randy Forbes, who heads the House defense panel's Readiness Subcommittee, said Wednesday the GOP staff analysis is a first pass at identifying cuts that could be in play. More detailed reports will follow, he said.

There has not been enough focus on how cutting billions in defense might affect national security and the United States' military presence worldwide, the Chesapeake Republican said. "The only question that is being asked is, 'How much do we cut?' " he said. "That is an incredibly dangerous way to do national defense."

Should Hampton Roads and Virginia as a whole take a financial body blow, I hope the Democrats will find the spine to remind the voters who brought the calamity upon them. I'm not against trimming defense spending, but someone needs to use some serious thought on how to do it - and about the need to end the tax breaks for the very wealthy.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

More Wednesday Male Beauty

Vatican Slams "Licentious Conduct" of Italian Elite

Hypocrisy has a name: The Vatican. After being implicated in a world wide plan of enabling and covering up the sexual molestation of tens of thousands of children and youths, the Vatican has slammed the behavior of Italy's political elite - including Benedict XVI's BFF Silvio Berlusconi- for their sexual improprieties. I'm no fan of Berlusconi who I consider to be a disgusting, nasty satyr (and homophobic bigot), but for the Vatican and/or the Catholic Church hierarchy to be casting stones in respect to sexual behavior is beyond ludicrous. Especially given the previous rumors about Benedict XVI and his personal secretary (pictured at right) who has followed Benedict everywhere throughout his rise in power. The New York Times looks at this Italian sh*t storm. Here are some highlights:

ROME — Over the last several years, the Roman Catholic Church in Italy has largely looked the other way as reports emerged of sex and corruption scandals among the country’s political elite, many of them centered on Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi. But a recent published account of a party at Mr. Berlusconi’s home, where one female guest was said to have performed a striptease dressed as a nun, might have been more than the church could stand.

This week the church lashed out, issuing its strongest reprimands yet of Italy’s ruling class, deploring “behavior that not only goes counter to public decorum but is intrinsically sad and hollow.” Italians “look on their public leaders with consternation, and the image of the country abroad has been dangerously weakened,” Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco, the head of the Italian Bishops’ Conference

Though Cardinal Bagnasco did not single out Mr. Berlusconi — who is in court fighting several corruption charges and accusations of having sex with a minor, and has lately become embroiled in a scandal involving prostitutes paid to attend parties at his villas — the cardinal spoke of “licentious conduct and improper relationships that damage society.” And he blasted a governing class preoccupied with itself while Italian citizens struggled to make ends meet.

Critics like Mario Staderini, a member of the Radical Party who has been fighting to eliminate fiscal privileges for the church, say that the church has treaded lightly in past years to avoid alienating a center-right government that has continued to offer tax breaks for church-owned properties and commercial activities, while supporting Catholic schools and Vatican positions on questions like common-law marriage, living wills and some forms of assisted fertility. All of those practices are illegal in Italy.

Officially, the government has not responded to the church’s criticisms. But on Wednesday, Umberto Bossi, the leader of the Northern League and a crucial Berlusconi ally, said that instead of faulting the government, “bishops should say more Masses.”

I do not like either the center right government and Berlusconi or the Vatican. Hence, it's fun to watch the two factions go at each other. Neither faction, in my opinion, could give a damn about average Italians. The Vatican is pissed that the Berlusconi government hasn't delivered on promises and/or has set up conservatives and Vatican boot lickers for condemnation.

Fewer Couples Choose Clergy to Conduct Their Weddings

While Maggie Gallagher, Pope Benedict XVI, and others in the professional Christian class maintain their anti-gay jihad under the guise of "protecting marriage" another interesting trend is developing: More and more couples are choosing to nix having clergy officiate at their weddings. This means, of course that they are choosing non-religious marriage. The Washington Post looks at this growing trend towards purely civil marriages. Perhaps rather than persecuting same sex couples who want to be married - some even in church ceremonies - Ms. Maggie and her fellow gay haters ought to be more worried about the growing exodus of those who reject church weddings. Combined with the surging numbers of self-identified atheists and agnostics, same sex couples marrying would to be very low on the threat factor ratio for professional Christians. Here are some highlights from the Post story:

As Julie Butcher Pezzino and Andrew Butcher sat in an oceanside garden in tiny Southwest Harbor, Maine, the Sunday before Labor Day, watching two friends get married, the scene was beautiful, moving and very familiar. Practically everyone from their tight little American University crew was there. And as in their own ceremony, the officiant wasn’t some distant member of the clergy; it was another member of the crew. The college friends have made the rounds, presiding at each others’ weddings, four times so far, with another wedding scheduled for December. . . . “We don’t want to be confined to what some religion says you have to do.”

Although the majority of brides and grooms still use members of the clergy and other professionals, including judges (61 percent last year, according to the study), the shift toward nontraditional officiants seems to be further evidence of another, broader trend: the movement of Americans away from organized religion.

Recent studies show that most Americans aren’t a regular part of an institutional faith community, and many people say they don’t know a member of the clergy well enough to want to be hitched by them. “I can’t remember the last time I was at a wedding that wasn’t officiated by a friend,” said Jim Kurdek, the groom from the Southwest Harbor wedding.

While people who choose secular officiants might not want a cleric in their faces when they exchange vows, many often still want a traditional experience: exchanges of rings, a request for community support and even explicitly religious rituals slightly reformatted.

A spokesman for the nonprofit Universal Life Church Monastery, the largest of multiple groups that produce insta-certification for officiants, said the organization uses the lingo of organized religion, even though its mission statement stresses total freedom of religious belief or lack of it. The group says it “ordains” 700 “ministers” each day.

“The kind of authority that’s emanated in these weddings is confidence, love and knowledge of the couple.”

Obviously, in far too many religious denominations, love is largely absent from the radar screen. Instead, it's all about fear and hate. Bob Felton at Civil Commotion speculates in part as follows on the trend away from clergy officiated weddings:

This is bound to cause some discomfiting bureaucratic moments but, really, I like the spirit of it. A successful marriage is a state of mind as much as anything else and, since pious idiots like Albert Mohler warn constantly that it’s a troublesome and sinful state of mind that must terminate in Hell if you take it too seriously (meaning, if you don’t take Holy Men like himself seriously enough) … well, you can see where I’m going with this.

The sine qua non of marriage is mutual loyalty and shared ambitions, and such as Land and Mohler condemn both on the grounds that they are a form of idolatry, and therefore sinful. Really, it makes me wonder whether clergy have any business conducting weddings.

Wednesday Morning Male Beauty

Jamey Rodemeyer's Sister Talks About the "We're Glad You're Dead" Chants

The moral sickness and moral bankruptcy of the anti-gay bigots seems to know few limits. Of course, people like Maggie Gallagher, Tony Perkins and Pope Benedict XVI, etc., strive daily to make homophobia and such foul behavior socially acceptable at least in some unthinking and sheep like segments of of society. What am I talking about? Gay teen suicide victim Jamey Rodemeyer's sister was taunted recently at a homecoming dance by the same bullies who went after Jamey. Following a Lady Gaga tribute to Jamey, the bullies yelled "We're glad you're dead", and "You're better off dead." Yes, that's the true face of today's Christianity and it's enough to make one want to vomit. Rodemeyer's sister spoke with Anderson Cooper about this despicable behavior:

And where are the "good Christians" working to stop such horrible conduct? Missing in action, of course. Too many are afraid to "rock the boat" or call out others falsely wearing the Christian moniker. Such vile behavior should be condemned from every pulpit, but we know that it likely won't even be mentioned. The result will hopefully, the death of Christianity in general if the haters are not reined in.

Will Virginia GOP Risk Uranuim Contamination of Major Drinking Water Supply?

I've noted before how some in the Republican Party are trying to turn safety regulations back to a level last seen in the 19th century when the robber barons flourished during the so-called "Gilded Age." An ongoing story relevant to this issue here in Virginia involves the efforts of a Canadian company and some members of the Republican party of Virginia to rescind a thirty year old ban on uranium mining in Virginia. The center of the controversy involves uranium deposits in Pittsylvania County that are upstream to the water supply sources for much of southeastern Virginia, including all of the cities on the south side of Hampton Roads: Norfolk, Chesapeake, Portsmouth, Suffolk, and Virginia Beach. Studies indicate that the area of the deposits is subject to flooding and could lead to radioactive mining wastes washing into the water supply system which, of course, would endanger hundreds of thousands of citizens (actually, well over a million) all so that a foreign owned company - and probably some bribed members of the Virginia General Assembly - could make some bucks. Not surprisingly, Attorney General Ken "Kookinelli" Cuccinelli is missing from action in terms of protecting far over a million Virginians. Kookinelli would rather spend his time oppressing gays and denying global warming. Here are some highlights from a new study prepared by the BLUE RIDGE ENVIRONMENTAL DEFENSE LEAGUE:

Roanoke, VA – Today the Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League released a report documenting the presence of frequent and pervasive flooding at Coles Hill, the proposed uranium mine and mill site in Pittsylvania County, Virginia. The report, titled, Historic and potential flooding at proposed uranium mine and mill site: Coles Hill, Pittsylvania County, Virginia, demonstrates not only that pervasive flooding regularly occurs throughout the Coles Hill site but also that flooding and other hydrological features would increase the risk of radioactive contamination, should the site eventually be used to store uranium mill tailings.

The principal finding of the BREDL’s report is: Above- and below-ground features at Coles Hill suggest that any uranium mill tailings storage operation there would create high risk of chronic and/or catastrophic release of radioactive contamination into the aquatic environment.

Virginia Uranium, Inc., the company proposing to mine and mill uranium at Coles Hill, has been providing Virginia legislators expense-paid visits to decommissioned uranium mine and mill sites in France and Canada. Ann Rogers, the author of the League’s report, criticized this practice, saying, “These company-paid junkets must not be substituted for hard science as the basis on which the Virginia General Assembly decides whether to keep the ban on uranium mining in Virginia.” A vote on the ban may occur as early as January, 2012.

The League’s report links evidence of flooding at Coles Hill with warnings from the International Atomic Energy Agency. IAEA contradicts many industry assurances that uranium mill tailing disposal sites are essentially maintenance free, stating, “There is no such thing as 'fail-safe' facilities for tailings management. Neither regulations, design specifications, nor management systems can be relied upon in isolation to provide assurance against containment failure: all three must be applied, in a framework of quality assurance and post-closure care and maintenance, to deliver a high probability of tailings containment security.”

BREDL calls for a systematic study of the hydrology at Coles Hill to determine whether mill tailings can be stored there with any assurance of safety throughout the 10,000 to 100,000-year period during which the tailings remain radioactive. This type of study has never been performed for Coles Hill.

Will common sense and proper scientific evidence hold sway with the Virginia GOP's members in the General Assembly? Sadly, I'm not holding my breath. Meanwhile the cities in southside Hampton Roads need to be raising hell over this danger.

One in Five Same-Sex Couples Consider Themselves Married

Even though many of us live in states that bar legal recognition of same sex relationships - Neanderthal like and backwater Virginia being one such state - more and more same sex couples are willing to identify themselves as "married" even though legal recognition is denied to them. Personally, I increasingly check the "married" box when filling out surveys, doctor office information sheets, etc. Apparently I'm not alone in doing so. As the Washington Post reports now 20% of same sex couples identify themselves as married regardless of the efforts of the Christofascists and self-enriching whores like Maggie Gallagher who make a plush living peddling anti-gay hatred. As more of us so identify, the minds and hearts of others are opened and slowly change is occurring as more and more employers provide partner benefits and recognition of relationships. Here are some highlights from the Post story:

One in five of the nation’s 646,000 same-sex couples consider themselves married, according to census figures released Tuesday showing a sharp rise in the number of gay people willing to identify themselves as couples.

Same-sex couples make up just 1 percent of the 64 million couples in the country, including married couples and unmarried partners, and barely half a percentage point of all households. But the number of same-sex couples increased 80 percent over those counted in the 2000 Census.

The figures represent couples who identified themselves to the census as spouses or unmarried partners living together. A post-census study by the Williams Institute at the UCLA School of Law found that 10 percent of same-sex couples did not reveal their relationship, even though the census is confidential. “The bulk of the increase is people being more willing to identify themselves,” said Gary Gates, a Williams Institute demographer who analyzes trends in the gay community. “There might be some increased partnering as the stigma declines, but that can’t explain it all.”

The census statistics show same-sex couples in every state, including married couples living in states where their unions are not legally recognized. . . . . About 12,500 same-sex couples live in Maryland, where a same-sex marriage bill was voted down this year. More than 14,000 live in Virginia, which does not recognize the legality of gay marriages performed out of state. Each state has about 2,500 married same-sex couples.

The numbers are only an estimate, however. The census initially said it counted 902,000 same-sex couples. But further analysis led the Census Bureau to revise the numbers markedly downward, not only for last year’s census but for 2000. Martin O’Connell, chief of the fertility and family statistics branch of the census, blamed a faulty design in the questionnaire used when census enumerators came to the doors of people who did not mail their forms back.

Click image of state by state figures below to enlarge:

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

The Hypocrisy of "Family Values"

I have written about Frank Schaeffer before. He left the Christian Right in the mid 1980s after he "realized just how very anti-American they are." His father, Francis Sshaeffer was one of the founders, if you will, of the modern day Christian Right. As a result, Frank Schaeffer has seen the Christian Right up close and personally. He has a new book out entitled "Sex, Mom, and God: How the Bible's Strange Take on Sex Led to Crazy Politics--and How I Learned to Love Women (and Jesus) Anyway." Not surprisingly, the book is let us say less than kind to both the Protestant Christianists in America and the Roman Catholic Church. In a post on Huffington Post, Schaeffer looks at the Christianist dominated GOP and the Catholic Church hierarchy and concludes that they are the last people to be lecturing others on sexual morality - or morality in general. Here are some highlights:

Lurking in the heart of the religious communities who have taken over the Republican Party is a strange take on sex that keeps exploding into public view. The title of my new book Sex, Mom and God could have been Sex With Mom and God" because the sexual dysfunction that now IS the world of conservative religion is stunning. And these are the people who want to tell everyone else how to live.

Boccaccio's wonderfully ribald satire at the expense of the Roman Catholic Church's gross sexual hypocrisy is as apt today as ever.

And the Rick-Perry-Bring-America-Back-To-God-Evangelicals find themselves in the same mess, from the sexual-scandal-mired Evangelical leadership to the nefarious enablers like the so-called Family and its C Street enclave of congressional adulterers.

As I prove in my new book Sex, Mom and God, if there is one thing all Christians should have learned by now, it's that they -- of all people -- should never, ever cast aspersions on anyone else's sex life. For instance the gay community should be honored that the Evangelicals lie about and bash them. With enemies like the Religious Right you need no friends.

When it comes to pointing the finger, sexual "sin," the worldwide Christian community -- from the halls of the Vatican to some Evangelical "mega church" established in somebody's basement two minutes ago and now in a 50 thousand sq ft building -- is in the morally compromised position of a violent habitual rapist criticizing a shoplifter for stealing a candy bar.

We're talking not about "a few bad apples" but about them whole edifice of religion top to bottom.

An impartial inquiry into child abuse at Roman Catholic institutions in Ireland found that the top Church leaders knew that sexual abuse was endemic in boys and girls institutions. . . . . Physical and emotional abuse was a built-in deliberate feature of these "homes" for young men and women. The inquiry proved that child rape defines Irish Catholicism as surely as the sign of the cross once did.

And this is the church that "conservative" bishops and priests in the Anglican and Episcopal communions in the United States and the United Kingdom have since been joining in droves because the Roman Catholic Church has preserved "pure" doctrine that condemns homosexuality as a sin!

And the Evangelicals who have now taken over the Republican Party are cut from the same cloth. "Family Values" is a code for hate of gays and women and blacks, at least for the black in the White House. And the list of scandals I document in my new book is so long it is utterly damning.

Nevertheless the moralizing will ramp up as the people prodding their flocks to vote family values will still be standing there next to family values candidates telling us why God wants us to vote for Wall Street.

The book looks like it should make for great reading. It's always the self-congratulatory "Godly Christians" who seem to have the market cornered on hypocrisy.

Tuesday Morning Male Beauty

Southern Baptist Leader - Gays Seek “Sexual Paganization of Society”

As if bound and determined to underscore the fact that so-called Christians are the principal enemies of LGBT equality, extremist Richard Land, president of the Southern Baptist Convention's ("SBC") misnamed Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, was on an anti-LGBT rant the other day in which he accused LGBT citizens of seeking the "sexual paganization of society" and claimed that gays recruited children down to the grade school level. Obviously, the SBC's idea of ethics encompasses spreading deliberate lies about others. As for religious liberty, it's a totally one way street where all are supposed to be subjected to SBC dogma. Here's a video clip of the batshitery:

Here are more details from the Right Wing Watch site:

During the program, Land warned that gay rights activists seek to "reduce [Christians] to the level of the Ku Klux Klan" so that they will be ostracized by society and went on to assert that gays are "recruiting" children, which is a form a child abuse, while claiming that homosexuality is "incomprehensible." In the end, Land claimed, gays really just want to destroy the institution of marriage in order to bring about the "full-blown paganization" of America.

They're recruiting down in the grade school levels. They're recruiting people for homosexual clubs and it's really child abuse is what it is.

You need to find out what's going on in your school. You need to ask your children what's going on, you need to see what books their reading, you need to know what the teacher is talking about because, I'm telling you, they are trying to brainwash our children in the public schools.

Even if you take out AIDS, male homosexuals die much earlier than heterosexual males do because of the inherently dangerous - health dangerous stuff that they engage in. But I don't think that's the big issue - I think that's a side issue. I think the real issue is they want to destroy marriage.

I don't think gays need to do anything to make conservative Christians look like dedicated members of the KKK. Folks like Land are doing the job for us without any of us lifting a finger.

Can Any Candidate Satisfy the Deranged GOP Purity Test?

The caption of this post is basically a question Howard Kurtz asks in a column in The Daily Beast and candidly, the answer is likely a resounding "No." Even the every bizarre Michele Bachmann and cowboy Rick Perry fail to satisfy all of the neanderthal and/or highly bigoted requirements of the Tea Party Kool-Aid drinkers. By relentlessly pandering to the worse elements of the GOP base the Party leadership has indeed created a Frankenstein monster. Like many of Obama's current political problems, the GOP quagmire is self created. There was a time when the extremists in the GOP would have been tucked away in the attic like a crazy relative. Not so in today's GOP where the Christianists and Tea Party seem to hold full sway and no one has the courage to declare that these people are toxic - not to mention likely insane. Here are highlights from Kurtz's column:

If you assembled a Republican primary candidate in a laboratory, it would be hard to build a more breathtakingly conservative specimen than Rick Perry. Social Security is unconstitutional? Check. Evolution is suspect? Check. Being gay is a choice, like being an alcoholic? Check.

But wait—bzzt! There’s one malfunction here. Perry opposes illegal immigration, to be sure, but believes the children of such immigrants—often brought here at a young age—ought to get in-state tuition breaks so they can go to college and not be a burden on society. And with that, he has flunked the Purity Test.

It is a test being imposed on everyone who wants the GOP nomination, and it has never been more stringent or located farther to the right
—a sign of the stranglehold the Tea Party has on the process. . . . . George W. Bush and John McCain would be laughed off the stage these days for the positions they took on immigration.

No one in the GOP wants to hear about “compassionate conservatism,” not when debate audiences are booing a gay soldier and cheering the death of a hypothetical emergency-room patient without insurance. Obamacare is so thoroughly loathed that nobody bothers to ask these candidates what they would do about the 50 million uninsured Americans if it were repealed—including young people under 26 who are now covered by their parents’ policies.

Romney has the longest list of offenses, of course, having once been in favor of abortion rights, gay rights, and an activist approach to health care, as evidenced by the Massachusetts plan he now labors to distinguish from Obamacare. That was then, this is now.

The Purity Test is so unyielding that we have the amazing sight of all the candidates raising their hands to affirm that they wouldn’t accept a dollar in tax increases even in exchange for 10 dollars of spending cuts—no matter how good a deal that might seem to a fiscally conservative lawmaker not running for president. Michele Bachmann went a step further in last week’s Fox News debate, saying taxpayers should be able to keep every dollar they earn.

At the moment the conservative media establishment has soured on Perry, with Weekly Standard editor Bill Kristol calling Perry’s Fox debate performance “almost disqualifying.” Kristol, like many other Republicans, yearns for Chris Christie . . .
But if Christie actually jumped into the race—that is, if he could explain why he spent so many months insisting he’s not “ready” to be president—he, too, would fail the Purity Test. He believes, for instance, that “climate change is real” and “human activity plays a role in these changes.” And when critics savaged him for nominating as a judge a Muslim who defended suspects after the 9/11 attacks—they were later cleared—Christie said he was “tired of dealing with the crazies” and that “this Sharia law business is crap.”

For a Republican to take a stance that breaks with party orthodoxy—whether toward illegal immigrants, uninsured patients, or Muslims—could attract swing voters in a general election. But first the candidate has to win the nomination, and in that arena, being impure remains a cardinal offense.

Can a sane candidate emerge from the morass? Only time will tell. Meanwhile I suspect Obama hopes the insanity in the GOP continues unabated. It may be the only thing that gets he possibly re-elected.

Monday, September 26, 2011

More Monday Male Beauty

Lady Gaga Attends Obama Fundraising and Raises Issue of Bullying

Whether or not one agrees with all of her views and/or her tactics, Lady Gaga has been and continues to be a huge advocate of LGBT equality and she isn't afraid to use her fame or fortune to proverbially put her money where her mouth is. I was very impressed with her statements at the National Equality March in October 2009 when I first got to see her from a close perspective thanks to my Bilerico Project press credentials. Since then, she's spoken out on DADT repeal and other issues including anti-gay bullying. With the influence she welds with younger individuals, I applaud her continued efforts to advance our cause. Her most recent foray was an Obama fundraiser where she apparently spent $38,500 for a ticket where she'd be in close proximity to the president. ABC News has some details (Note: Some of the comments on the story by freepers are disturbing and demonstrate that many in the deranged far right want it to remain open season on LGBT students and citizens):

Lady Gaga was among the guests at a $35,800 per couple Obama fundraiser tonight at the home of Facebook’s Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg and David Goldberg in Atherton, Calif.

At the event, which took place under a tent in Sandberg’s yard, Gaga reportedly wore a black dress scalloped high plunge back and high heels. Her blond hair was upswept, with black flowers and black veil sweeping down back of hair.

According to a source present in the tent fundraiser, Gaga asked a question during the Q&A. She first thanked the president for what he’s accomplished, then read from what she said was a letter from a fan about the suicide of another fan who had been subjected to bullying.

Before the dinner, Gaga came through the photo line with her manager. She and Obama reportedly spoke for two minutes, with many others in the room.

Gaga’s attendance at the fundraising event comes after the singer tweeted that she would be meeting the president and intended to discuss youth bullying with him in relation to the suicide of Jamey Rodemeyer, the 14-year-old student who took his own life last week after years of bullying.

The Advocate has other details on Lady Gaga's pro-LGBT activism, including these excerpts:

This isn't the singer's first brush with Washington. For example, she spoke at the National Mall ahead of repeal of "don't ask, don't tell," called for repeal of the policy repeatedly, and exchanged tweets with Senate majority leader Harry Reid on the issue.

Gaga had said recently via Twitter that she intended to meet with the president and pledged to talk about the death of Jamey Rodemeyer, a 14-year-old boy who committed suicide after repeated bullying at his school. Rodemeyer, a big fan of Gaga's and self-professed "little monster," was buried this weekend in a "Born This Way" T-shirt.

Gaga dedicated a moving performance of "Hair" to him on Saturday at the I Heart Radio concert in Las Vegas.