Thoughts on Life, Love, Politics, Hypocrisy and Coming Out in Mid-Life
Friday, October 21, 2011
Marco Rubio's Fictional Family History
During his rise to political prominence, Sen. Marco Rubio frequently repeated a compelling version of his family’s history that had special resonance in South Florida. He was the “son of exiles,” he told audiences, Cuban Americans forced off their beloved island after “a thug,” Fidel Castro, took power.
But a review of documents — including naturalization papers and other official records — reveals that the Florida Republican’s account embellishes the facts. The documents show that Rubio’s parents came to the United States and were admitted for permanent residence more than two-and-a-halfyears before Castro’s forces overthrew the Cuban government and took power on New Year’s Day 1959.
The supposed flight of Rubio’s parents has been at the core of the young senator’s political identity, both before and after his stunning tea-party-propelled victory in last year’s Senate election.
And the 40-year-old senator with the boyish smile and prom-king good looks has drawn on the power of that claim to entrance audiences captivated by the rhetorical skills of one of the more dynamic stump speakers in modern American politics.
The real story of his parents’ migration appears to be a more conventional immigrant narrative, a couple who came to the United States seeking a better life. In the year they arrived in Florida, the future Marxist dictator was in Mexico plotting a quixotic return to Cuba.
The senator’s office tried to clarify the facts in its statement Thursday. . . . legal scholars on both sides of the McCain debate told The Post that Rubio’s citizenship does not appear to be an issue.
Goa Prefers Religious Based Bigotry to Gay Tourist Dollars
The Goa state government has consented to hold back the promotion of Lesbian Gay Bisexual and Transsexual (LGBT) tourism in a major international travel event that is currently underway.
After protests from the Church and other religious groups, the state government on Thursday said discussions on LGBT tourism won’t be part of the Goa International Travel Mart organised by the Department of Tourism from Oct. 21 - 23. State Tourism Minister Nilkanth Halarnkar told reporters that the session on LGBT was dropped keeping in mind the sentiments of the people.
Fr Francisco Caldeira, spokesman of the Goa Catholic Church, said that the state government "should not orient itself towards this kind of tourism". Caldeira opined that people cannot be stopped from coming to Goa for holidaying. "But the campaigns should not be inclined towards inviting them specially," Caldeira said.
Gay Tourism is said to be a multi-million dollar industry worldwide with $ 2 trillion turnover expected by 2012. The Catholic Church earlier expressed that the manner in which tourism was being promoted in Goa, it had virtually swamped and overshadowed the ethos of Goa.
Frankly, I hope a sex abuse scandal in Goa breaks in the near term. By licking the boots of the Catholic Church, the Goa government is making a statement that lies, cover ups and the sexual abuse of minors are reflective of the ethos of Goa.
Virginia - A Microcasm of Obama's Re-election Problems
President Obama arrive[d] in Virginia on his bus tour [earlier in the week], just as some Democratic candidates for the state legislature are running away from him. Ward Armstrong, the top Democrat in the House of Delegates, is one of several incumbents up for re-election in the state’s off-year elections three weeks from now. And he’s one of several who have been tied to Mr. Obama by Republican rivals.
To win re-election next year, Mr. Obama’s team is eager to keep Virginia and its 13 electoral votes in their column. But with polls showing Mr. Obama’s approval ratings slipping here, Republicans, including Virginia’s governor, say a repeat of his 2008 victory is increasingly unlikely.
A poll by The Richmond Times-Dispatch released Monday showed that Mr. Obama would face a tight race with either Mitt Romney, the Republican front-runner, or Rick Perry, the governor of Texas (Mr. Romney narrowly led the president 45 percent to 42 percent; and in a matchup with Mr. Perry, he and Mr. Obama were tied at 43 percent).
Democrats in the state disagree that a victory in Virginia is out of reach for the president — though they concede that the race will be a tough one. Mike Henry, a veteran Democratic strategist who is managing Tim Kaine’s United States Senate race next year, said the growth of minorities and suburban votes in the state, as well as the Republican efforts to cut government spending, will help Democrats, including Mr. Obama.
The pledges to slash the size of the federal government — Ron Paul on Monday proposed cutting spending by 10 percent across the board in a single year — would hit Virginia’s many government contractors particularly hard. That could fire up anger at Republican candidates and Republicans in Congress.
And Democrats are counting on shifts in the state’s population that helped Mr. Kaine win the governorship in 2005. Those include increases in Hispanics, especially in the exurban communities around Northern Virginia, and the movement of traditionally Democratic voters like African-Americans into the suburban rings around the big, Democratic-leaning cities.
Parts of the state remain extremely difficult for a Democratic presidential candidate. The rural communities in the state’s southwest remain bastions of Republicanism. And Democrats have long struggled to win in places where textile factories and tobacco farms have largely disappeared. Obama campaign officials are counting on the demographic changes to help Mr. Obama’s chances in the state. The population centers are shifting inexorably away from the rural communities to the suburban ones.
Marine Commandant Embraces DADT Repeal
As some will recall, I was not what would be described as a fan of Marine Commandant General James Amos who prior to passage of DADT repeal legislation made a number of homophobic anti-gay comments. Now, with the DADT repeal accomplished, Amos seems to be setting an example of moving on and supporting the new legal reality of open service by gay and lesbian service members. Now Amos has even indicated that he'd be welcoming to a gay couple showing up at the Marine Ball as noted in the above video. It's quite a remarkable change of course. Think Progress has details on Amos' new perspective. Here are highlights:
Marine Commandant Gen. James Amos — who strongly opposed the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell last year — told NPR’s Morning Edition yesterday that he is “very proud” of how the Marines have handled the repeal of the policy last month. “I’m very pleased now,” Amos said and explained that his previous statements in support of the ban were expressing the hesitancy for change within the Marine Corps.
Amos also came out in support of gay Marines bringing their same-sex partners to the Marine Corps Ball:
NPR: How comfortable are you with the idea of a gay couple showing up?
AMOS: I’m fine with it. I’m fine with it. I expect it to happen, I expect it to happen across the Marine Corps. And I mean, that’s part of the repeal of Don’t Ask, Dont’ Tell. I mean, that’s part of it. You can’t go half way. You can’t say we’re going to repeal it and you now can become public, but I’m going to restrict your behavior. We’re not going to do business that way.
Hopefully other senior military officers will wake up and accept that it is a new day for the U.S. military and that religious based bigotry and discrimination have no place in the ranks. Indeed, those who seek to maintain bigotry and discrimination be they chaplains or otherwise need to be discharged.
European Adventure – Day 7 – At Sea
Thursday, October 20, 2011
OWS vs. the Tea Party
Catholic Church Child Abuse: More Deja Vu
As noted in a prior post, a U.S. bishop has finally been indicted because of his malfeasance in failing to report a predator priest who went on to prey on additional victims. A column in The Huffington Post looks ate the sad manner in which the sex abuse scandal continues to unfold with most of the guilty (especially the enablers and protectors of child rapists) going unpunished. Here are some highlights:
Catholic Bishop Robert W. Finn of Kansas City has just been indicted for failure to report suspected child abuse. The offender, one of his priests, apparently was a photographer of some considerable energy. According to the indictment, as reported by the New York Times, the bishop for some six months failed to report evidence found on the priest's laptop, and thus he is charged with ignoring "previous knowledge regarding Father Rattigan and children; the discovery of hundreds of photographs of children on Father Rattigan's laptop, including a child's naked vagina, upskirt images and images focused on the crotch; and violations of restrictions placed on Father Rattigan." Apparently during the six months, the priest went to children's parties, hosted an Easter egg hunt and presided -- with the bishop's permission -- at the first communion of a young girl.
No one is guilty until judged by their peers, but one gathers that the facts of the matter are not really in dispute. The question is whether the bishop is legally liable.
In a way, this sort of thing has become so common that one is almost inclined to read with a sigh and turn away to other things. Which of course is precisely the action we must not have. Wickedness never ends and we must be ever vigilant. Edmund Burke was right: "All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing." Thank goodness the legal authorities in Kansas City are doing their duty and making sure that whatever has happened it is brought into the light and the guilty punished. And even if the guilty are not necessarily found legally culpable, then they are still shown to be morally guilty and deserving of condemnation.
But what do the rest of us say at a point like this? Someone like Richard Dawkins takes not pleasure but an almost salubrious satisfaction in the turn of events. It is what he forecast -- religion leads to virtually nothing but ill -- and the sooner it is eliminated the better.
Dawkins does have a point though. Too often, established religion does make possible evil things and clearly the Kansas City situation is one such case. The authority and attitude of the bishop makes what happened all too possible and common. . . . . the hierarchical system of the Church makes possible abuse and it has happened and goes on happening. Dawkins wants to blow up the whole thing and he may well be right.
The tragedy is that it does not seem that things will change in our lifetime. Thanks particularly to the present pope and his predecessor, the hierarchy is manned -- and I use the word "manned" deliberately -- by conservatives, who frown upon women having full authority over themselves or in society, who are anti-gay (especially when it comes to things like marriage), who simply don't recognize that we are now in the 21st century. And when the present pope dies, given that the cardinals in place are all of this ilk, there is little reason to think that his successor will be much different.
I remain convinced that only the wholesale exodus of those who believe in moral accountability and who refuse to embrace ignorance from the Catholic Church will bring change to a very rotten institution. Sadly, too many Catholics remain too lazy and refuse to open their eyes to the fact that they are accessories to the horrors visited on children and youth by individual priests and the Church hierarchy as a whole.
P.S. The boyfriend and I did not go into St. Peter's yesterday because of the massive lines. If we had, I wanted to stand before the high altar and make out with the boyfriend - it would have been my own not so subtle message to the Nazi Pope that he can go do something rude and crude to himself in my estimation.
European Adventure – Day 6 – Naples and Pompeii
Wednesday, October 19, 2011
Is the GOP Self Destructing?
After a seemingly endless series of eight prior candidate encounters, one of the GOP presidential contenders finally came up with an ingenious debate strategy that counts as fearless, distinctive and utterly original: attacking Ronald Reagan over the arms-for-hostages deals during Iran-Contra.
Near the conclusion of a deeply damaging slugfest that weakened every candidate on stage, Congressman Ron (“Dr. Demento”) Paul outrageously trashed the Gipper’s memory in response to pre-debate Herman Cain comments about trading Guantanamo terrorists for a hypothetically kidnapped American soldier.
When a big CNN debate that’s supposed to focus on America’s future concludes with an utterly irrelevant dispute about a 25-year-old scandal that tarnished the reputation of a conservative saint, then you know it was a terrible night for the party. One of the savviest political observers I know (who’s been working for Republicans since the Nixon era) sent a terse text message offering an appropriate reaction to the Destruction Derby: “GOP, RIP.”
On Tuesday night, viewers got their first glimpse of a rattled Romney who seemed unmistakably frustrated by crude and nasty attacks from the two rantin’ Ricks—Santorum and Perry—who slimed the governor over Romney-care and immigration (respectively). The irritation made sense given the fact that his interlocutors wouldn’t shut up and gave Mitt no chance to respond to their angry charges. But whenever a candidate pleads for the right to finish a statement without interruption, and even appeals to a moderator to enforce order, he looks weak and unworthy as a prospective commander-in-chief.
Perry began the debate with more energy, focus and confidence than he brought to the table in previous engagements but, as always, he looked increasingly exhausted and confused as the evening wore on. His oafish effort to smear Romney for once contracting with a lawn service that employed illegals (a cheap-shot charge exhaustively explored in Mitt’s previous campaign four years ago) marked a new low point for the Perry campaign and leads me to the conclusion that unslick Rick will feel forced to terminate his collapsing candidacy at some point before the Iowa caucuses.
All in all, only Democrats (and Jon Huntsman, who boycotted the proceedings over primary scheduling disputes) could have enjoyed this evening of mean-spirited sniping over mostly irrelevant issues. For GOP contenders and their managers, they can at least try to reassure themselves by solemnly repeating Sin City’s tourism mantra (cleverly invoked by Rep. Bachmann in her opening statement): What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas. They should be so lucky.
Clearly, when a political party makes the conscious decision to cater to religious fanatics and morons, the resulting sour aftermath is deserved. I am no fan of Obama and many in the Democrat Party, but at least they have not embraced ignorance and unvarnished bigotry.
European Adventure – Day 5 – Rome
Given my love of history and classical Greece and Rome, we focused much of the day on the ruins of Imperial Rome including the Coliseum - which was known in its heyday as the Flavian Amphitheater – the Palatine and forum. The Coliseum is far larger than it often appears in photos and brought home the building genius of the ancient Romans. After that we had lunch at a restaurant called “The Glass” at the Hotel Cosmopolita where the food was great and the wait staff was almost without exception “male beauty” quality. Then we proceeded to the Trevi fountain and the Pantheon which is amazing given it’s almost 2,000 years of age.
Tomorrow we pull into Naples and we are going to Pompeii – again to satisfy the history buff in me. Friday will be a welcome day at sea where we can just be and relax followed by a day and a night in Barcelona before flying back to the USA.
There have been a number of ongoing minor irritations with the ship – Internet access being the worse - but overall we are having a wonderful time. Tonight we went to the ice show – the ship has an on board rink – which was very good even though the rink is far smaller than standard. The cast which was from around the world were talented and the male skaters very cute – a definite added bonus.
Tuesday, October 18, 2011
The Evangelical Rejection of Reason
THE Republican presidential field has become a showcase of evangelical anti-intellectualism. Herman Cain, Rick Perry and Michele Bachmann deny that climate change is real and caused by humans. Mr. Perry and Mrs. Bachmann dismiss evolution as an unproven theory. The two candidates who espouse the greatest support for science, Mitt Romney and Jon M. Huntsman Jr., happen to be Mormons, a faith regarded with mistrust by many Christians.
The rejection of science seems to be part of a politically monolithic red-state fundamentalism, textbook evidence of an unyielding ignorance on the part of the religious. As one fundamentalist slogan puts it, “The Bible says it, I believe it, that settles it.”
Evangelicalism at its best seeks a biblically grounded expression of Christianity that is intellectually engaged, humble and forward-looking. In contrast, fundamentalism is literalistic, overconfident and reactionary.
Fundamentalism appeals to evangelicals who have become convinced that their country has been overrun by a vast secular conspiracy; denial is the simplest and most attractive response to change. They have been scarred by the elimination of prayer in schools; the removal of nativity scenes from public places; the increasing legitimacy of abortion and homosexuality; the persistence of pornography and drug abuse; and acceptance of other religions and of atheism.
In response, many evangelicals created what amounts to a “parallel culture,” nurtured by church, Sunday school, summer camps and colleges, as well as publishing houses, broadcasting networks, music festivals and counseling groups. Among evangelical leaders, Ken Ham, David Barton and James C. Dobson have been particularly effective orchestrators — and beneficiaries — of this subculture.
[I]n fact their rejection of knowledge amounts to what the evangelical historian Mark A. Noll, in his 1994 book, “The Scandal of the Evangelical Mind,” described as an “intellectual disaster.” He called on evangelicals to repent for their neglect of the mind, decrying the abandonment of the intellectual heritage of the Protestant Reformation. “The scandal of the evangelical mind,” he wrote, “is that there is not much of an evangelical mind.”
Another Tragic Gay Teen Suicide
Said Hubley in the statement:
There are some reports in the media and on social media that James was bullied. This is true. We were aware of several occasions when he felt he was being bullied. In Grade 7 he was treated very cruelly simple because he liked figure skating over hockey.
Recently, when Jamie tried to start a Rainbow Club at his high school to promote acceptance of others, the posters were torn down and he was called vicious names in the hallways and online. We had meetings with officials at the school and were working with them to bring an end to it but Jamie felt it would never stop.
We will not say that the bullying was the only reason for James’s decision to take his own life but it was definitely a factor. As his family and friends or even if you never met him but want to help, we must do whatever we can to wipe out bullying for any reason in our society and especially in our schools. Young people are very vulnerable and have enough pressures in life to have to deal with aside from the stress of being bullied. My family’s wish is that no more families have to suffer the unbearable pain of losing a child. No child should have to deal with depression or feel hated because of their beliefs – that is not the Canadian way of treating others.
Bullying doesn’t always take the form of physical violence. Especially today with cyber bullying on the Internet, children often feel there is no safe place to go; even when they are at home they can still be victims. Earlier I mentioned his posters being taken down. Many friends have offered to stand by the posters to ensure children that may want to meet and talk about issues that don’t harm others will be given the chance to do so. The school has made a promise to me that they will ensure the posters are protected. We hope from our tragedy others will become more active in stopping this cruelty towards children.
To this end, after my family and I have had some time to come to terms with the loss of our beautiful son James, I will be working hard to use my energy and public position to help bring awareness and resources to those groups working to stop the bullying and find a treatment for depression. Wendy and I have asked that all the people wishing to make a donation in Jamie’s memory.
It's sad that even with Jamie's school administration cooperating - something not seen in far too many school divisions - Jamie still ended up taking his own life. It leaves me feeling physically sick to think about such tragic losses of young lives. Also that the falsely pious and self-congratulatory Christianists and their political whore allies can feel superior and/or receive votes from hate filled monsters.
Kansas City Catholic Bishop Indicted for Abuse Cover Up
A bishop in the Roman Catholic Church has been indicted for failure to report suspected child abuse, the first time in the 25-year history of the church’s sex abuse scandals that the leader of an American diocese has been held criminally liable for the behavior of a priest he supervised.The indictment of the bishop, Robert W. Finn, and the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph by a county grand jury was announced on Friday. Each was charged with one misdemeanor count involving a priest accused of taking pornographic photographs of girls as recently as this year. They pleaded not guilty.The case caused an uproar among Catholics in Kansas City this year when Bishop Finn acknowledged that he knew of the photographs last December but did not turn them over to the police until May. During that time, the priest, the Rev. Shawn Ratigan, is said to have continued to attend church events with children, and took lewd photographs of another young girl.Though the charge is only a misdemeanor, victims’ advocates immediately hailed the indictment as a breakthrough, saying that until now American bishops have avoided prosecution despite documents showing that in some cases they were aware of abuse.“This is huge for us,” said Michael Hunter, director of the Kansas City chapter of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, and a victim of sexual abuse by a priest. “It’s something that I personally have been waiting for years to see, some real accountability. We’re very pleased with the prosecuting attorney here to have the guts to do it.”If convicted Bishop Finn would face a possible fine of up to $1,000 and a jail sentence of up to a year. The diocese faces a possible fine of up to $5,000. Ms. Baker said that secrecy rules for grand jury proceedings prohibited her from discussing whether other charges were considered, such as child endangerment, a felony. But she said the fact that the bishop faces a single misdemeanor count should not diminish the seriousness. “To my knowledge a charge like this has not been leveled before,” she said.
One can only hope that this will be the beginning of a longer overdue trend.