Saturday, November 12, 2011

New Southern Baptist Curriculum Bashes Gays

Sometimes it's hard to know which Christian denomination treats gays more horridly. Having been raised - and brainwashed - as a Catholic, I'm fully aware of that denominations hominid attacks against gays, especially under the current morally bankrupt Pope and his henchmen bishops. The Southern Baptist Convention ("SBC") is little better and I've known quite a few gays struggling to recover from what can only be described as psychological abuse during their religious upbringing. But apparently, the SBC feels that the "princes" of the Catholic Church are out dong it in terms of striving to demonize gays and making our lives a living Hell. Not ironically, the SBC seems to have sex abuse by clergy issues only topped by those of the Catholic Church, a far larger denomination. Hence, apparently, a new SBC curriculum that is particularly heinous in its treatment of gays. Religion Dispatches looks this hate filled and lie filled curriculum. Here are highlights:

Today, teenagers in many Southern Baptist churches are hearing about homosexuality through a curriculum called “Known.” . . . . One module, however, stands out for its sheer nastiness. The module on homosexuality (contained in the Insights, Options, Bonus section of Known 13) reads like something that could have been produced by the Family Research Council or Americans for Truth About Homosexuality. That is to say, it’s completely hateful.

I am horrified because teenagers coming to terms with their sexuality will be told that homosexuality is “vile and shameful” and “against God’s design for godly, holy living.” They will also be told that gay and lesbian people “consistently choose what is morally wrong.”

[T]he creators of Known are not interested in letting the facts get in the way of scaring the hell out of young people who may be struggling with their sexuality. They simply want to drive home the message that homosexuality is “vile” and all gay people are morally suspect not just in their sexuality but apparently in every aspect of their lives.

the homosexuality unit degrades and debases gays and lesbians—and loving them is only mentioned in the last paragraph. "We must also choose to love people in spite of their sin. If we love people, we will seek ways to share the gospel with them. What steps will you take to share the gospel with people you know who are enslaved to sexual sin?" Got that? Love them—by sharing the condemnation that you have just learned.

Some will certainly take the SBC bait, hook, line, and sinker, becoming the anti-gay zealots of the next generation. But for others, this may be the unit that pushes them away from the church—especially those closeted teens—and that is sad. Still others—those struggling teens, perhaps—could even be driven to suicide by this hateful and bullying lesson.

Has I have noted many times, today's conservative Christians - be they Catholic or Baptist - are best defined by their hatred of others. They have betrayed the Gospel message and are the strongest argument to be found for why one would not want to be known as a Christian.

The Most Ignorant GOP Presidential Hopefuls

Talk about a wonderful title to a news article! The caption of this post is from a new Daily Beast article that looks at the ignorance and untruthfulness of the GOP slate of would be presidential candidates. The piece looks at each of the candidates and lays out the worse of their lies and/or batshitery, with some of the biggest loons underscoring their unfitness for office. Read the full piece for a run down on each. Here are highlights from my favorites:

Rick Perry - The candidate with most falsehoods hails from the state where more is always better. Rick Perry’s biggest whopper has been repeated at several debates, including in Tampa in September and in Hanover in October: namely, that Texas created 1 million jobs while the country was losing 2.5 million jobs. The good governor goes back to January 2009 to get the national number, and during that span Texas created only about 100,000 jobs. Must be that Lone Star optimism.

Michele Bachmann - During the Hanover debate in October, Bachmann said that the Democrats’ ostensible victory following the debt-ceiling debacle of the summer past gave the president “a $2.4 trillion blank check.” That money, however, was used to make sure the country could meet its obligations.

Herman Cain - During the October 18 debate in Las Vegas, Cain claimed that his flat-tax plan would not raise taxes for 84 percent of Americans. As Factcheck points out, a Tax Policy Center report says the opposite—that, in fact, a large majority of Americans, 83.8 percent to be exact, would face higher taxes under Cain’s plan.

Rick Santorum - At the CNN debate in Manchester, New Hampshire, Santorum revived a tired GOP talking point when he said that health care for the elderly would be rationed under the federal health-care bill. As Factcheck points out, the law specifically says the health-care program “shall not include any recommendation to ration health care.”

David Frum - Questions The GOP Candidates Need to Be Asked

With much of the discussion transpiring during the so-called debates between the would be GOP presidential nominees amounting to often little more than a regurgitation of stale GOP talking points and pandering to the Christianist/Tea Party base of the party, other than learning that some of the nominees are ignoramuses (something not exactly unknown to rational people before hand), we've learned little in terms of what would be proposed by the candidates to deal with real issues facing America. S-called "family Values" and demonizing LGBT citizens does nothing to address these very real problems that involve issues from energy independence to the drug flow from south of our borders. David Frum, one of the increasingly rare rational conservatives has a list of questions he believes should be asked. I'm not holding my breath that substantive questions will be asked, much less that substantive answers will be forthcoming. None the less, here's the list:

CBS and National Journal asked me among others to suggest some questions to ask the candidates at tomorrow’s foreign policy debate. My suggested list follows. Note that it was written in advance of the Keystone XL pipeline decision, which adds urgency to the energy security questions.

1. Mexico is being torn apart by a civil war to control the drug routes to the United States. Many Mexican leaders urge drug legalization in the US in order to move the drug trade away from violent criminals to legitimate business. If a Mexican president asked you to consider such a step, what would you answer and why?

2. Canada is our largest trading partner and most important energy supplier. What do you see as the major issues between the US and Canada and what would you do to strengthen this supremely important relationship?

3. If asked, would you support a US contribution to the fund to stabilize the Euro currency? Why or why not?

4. Taiwan is China’s largest foreign investor. Taiwan and China have an intensifying economic relationship. Taiwan has refused to make the military investments that our military considers necessary to Taiwan’s security. Is the US security guarantee to Taiwan obsolete?

5. If you had been president in 2010, would Hosni Mubarak still be in power today?

6. Do you believe there is a peaceful way to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons?

7. It’s often said that our present energy policy leaves us dependent on oil suppliers who do not like us. Our top 10 suppliers are:

Canada, Mexico, Saudi Arabia, Nigeria, Venezuela, Russia, Algeria, Iraq, Angola and Colombia. The anti-US feeling of the Chavez regime is notorious. Which of the other 9 would you describe as a supplier who “does not like us”?

8. Afghanistan: At the end of your first term do you think we’ll have more or less than 20,000 troops in that country?

9. Iraq: Knowing everything you know now, if you had been in Congress in 2002, would you have voted to authorize force against Saddam Hussein, yes or no?

The Catholic Hierachy's Approach to the Penn State Scandal

The cartoon above from the Chicago Tribune sadly is likely an accurate view of the reaction of many in the Catholic Church hierarchy to the Penn State scandal. Would that the child rapist protecting bishops spent as much time cleaning their own foul house as they do seeking to interfere with the civil rights of LGBT individuals.

Saturday Male Beauty

AS the Penn State Scandal Deepens, AFA Blames the Gays

As a number of outlets are reporting, the cesspool of a scandal at Penn State may be about to take a further turn for the worse if rumors that Jerry Sandusky and Second Mile were pimping out young boys to rich donors prove true. Pam Spaulding looks at the horrid scandal - which seems to also connect with the suspicious unsolved disappearance of Centre County District Attorney Ray Gricar who was ready to charge Sandusky back in 2005 - and correctly speculates:

[M]any, many people high in the food chain at Penn State knew more about Sandusky’s “problem,” and at this point, it’s only a matter of time before the full underbelly of sordid behavior by powerful people is going to see daylight.

Obviously, many involved in the cover up to protect the university's image and reputation were heterosexuals, but according to hate group AFA's hate merchant in chief, Bryan Fischer, it's all the fault of the gays. Here's a video of Fischer's anti-gay rant

Queerty has a good come back to Fischer's bullshit and hate. Here's a sampling:

“It’s a simple stubborn fact that homosexuals molest children at much higher rates than the heterosexual population,” Fischer explains. Except that it’s a simple stubborn fact that accused molester Jerry Sandusky identified as heterosexual and was married with children. And also it’s a simple stubborn fact that that most molesters are men who prey on girls.

Fischer trots out the old canard that gay men are “ten times” more likely to be child molesters, but he doesn’t really back up his claim. He just throws out the names of a new British journals whose research methods have been called into serious question. (They only surveyed convicted pedophiles, for example.)

So yes, some homosexuals molest children but not because they’re gay.

That’s all besides the point, though—Sandusky (who is a straight married man with two sons by the way) is a monster no matter what his orientation. His crimes are not what make this whole situation so outrageous. In fact, men like Sandusky barely make the newspaper anymore. It was the organized cover-up by people in charge—people who should’ve known better—that is so reprehensible. (Gosh, that sounds awfully familiar.)

So where is the outrage from Fischer, Maggie Gallagher, etc. at the Penn State staffers, the rioting students and the knee-jerk sportswriters putting a damn football game ahead of the welfare of innocents?

Cocktails With John Waters and Weekend Reflections

My frequency in posting has been down this week largely because I've had something going on every evening: Hampton Roads Pride board meeting on Monday; dinner with a client of the boyfriend on Tuesday; HRBOR board meeting on Wednesday; ODU Gay Cultural Studies private reception after John Waters' presentation at Old Dominion University on Thursday. Last night was finally a free night and the boyfriend and I simply chilled, watched the this week's Glee episode and afterwards fell asleep on the sofa. Tonight we are attending a black tie fundraiser for the An Achievable Dream Foundation, a charity founded by one the boyfriend's clients that describes it's vision as follows:

AAD is a nonprofit, year-round, extended day public school borne out of its founder’s belief that all children can learn and succeed regardless of their socioeconomic backgrounds; and that education can break the cycle of poverty. We strive to close the achievement gap that currently exists in American education and to ensure our students become productive citizens contributing positively to society.

An Achievable Dream offers healthcare for our students' families through the Achievable Dream/Riverside Health Improvement Center located at the school. In addition, An Achievable Dream offers adult education classes and seminars for parents and families to help them achieve their dreams, as well.

It's a vision that I whole heatedly support because education is the great equalizer. At AAD's school, locate in one of the worse parts of neighboring Newport News, miracles do happen. Donations to the effort can be made here. In an Inside Business article earlier in the year, AAD's founder described his motivation for starting teh foundation as follows:

That desire, he said, comes from his Jewish faith and his father. "The Jewish faith teaches us that if I save one life, then I have saved the world," he said. The teaching has convinced Segaloff that everyone has an opportunity to make such a difference.

The courage to create such a bold program came from his late father, Charles, who felt strongly about judging people on their character rather than their color or religious beliefs.

"My father was building a new store in downtown Newport News. Back then it was the law that there had to be segregated sets of restrooms - one for blacks and one for whites. Even though it was jeopardizing his business, he refused. This held up his building permit. The building commissioner said it was the law. So finally they reached a compromise. My father put a set of restrooms on the first floor and on the second floor. However, he never labeled them black or white.

"It all comes down to, if you know something is right, would you have the courage to do it?" he said.

Just imagine if all of the money utilized by NOM and other "pro-family" organizations used to demonize gays, immigrants and those they deem "other" was used for programs such as AAD. Frankly, it's no small irony that Segaloff is Jewish. Nowadays, it seems that conservative Christians ignore the Gospel message while others are the ones to put the principles into action.

Back to John Waters. His lecture entitled "Filthy" was hysterically funny and he did not hold back on his gay rights positions. Most in the packed audience seemed to love his wit and wild sense of humor. At the small private reception afterwards in a fellow ODU Gay Cultural Studies board member, it was a unique experience talking to Waters about everything from politics to travel, and a number of other topics. Better yet, the reception raised several thousand dollars for the endowment that we are building.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Quote of the Day - Lisa Paschal Snyder on Catholic Bishops' Attack on Religious Freedom

A Baltimore Sun reader addresses the deliberately disingenuous meme being perpetuated by the U. S. Catholic Bishops.

So Maryland's Roman Catholic bishops are claiming that same-sex marriage threatens "religious liberty" are they? ("Bishops assail same-sex marriage," Nov. 10.) From where I sit the attack on religious freedom comes from the Catholic Church with its never ending war on everyone else's values and its constant battle to impose Catholic doctrine on every citizen regardless of his or her own religious beliefs.

I completely agree with Ms. Snyder's assessment. It's those claiming persecution who are in fact the persecutors. Of course, it's not just the Catholic bishops who are promoting this lie. The Christianists and hate merchants of the professional Christian set - e.g., Maggie Gallagher, Tony Perkins (the list is lengthy - are repeating it over and over as well in the hope that simpletons and brown nosing and ass kissing political whores in GOP will repeat the mantra.

Friday Morning Male Beauty

During Bush Years Remains of War Dead Dumped in Landfill

Chimperator Bush surely loved to use members of the nation's military as backdrops for political events - all the time claiming that he revered "our troops" as do many demagogues in the Republican establishment today. As the sayings go, talk is cheap and actions speak louder than words. A breaking scandal at Dover Air Force Base in Delaware is underscoring just how cheap such pro-military words were under the dark years of the Bush/Cheney regime. It seems that throwing remains of war dead returning from the fool's errand war in Iraq and Afghanistan sold to the American people based on lies into a landfill was just fine. No wonder the Chimperator and Emperor Palpatine Cheney never wanted to allow the press to take pictures of the returning coffins, etc. The Washington Post has details on this disturbing story. Here are highlights:

The Dover Air Force Base mortuary for years disposed of portions of troops’ remains by cremating them and dumping the ashes in a Virginia landfill, a practice that officials have since abandoned in favor of burial at sea.

The mortuary in Delaware, the main point of entry for the nation’s war dead and the target of federal investigations of alleged mishandling of remains, engaged in the practice from 2003 to 2008, according to Air Force officials. The manner of disposal was not disclosed to relatives of fallen service members.

Gari-Lynn Smith, portions of whose husband’s remains were disposed of in the landfill after his 2006 death in Iraq, said she was “appalled and disgusted” by the way the Air Force had acted. She learned of the landfill disposal earlier this spring in a letter from a senior official at the Dover mortuary.

“My only peace of mind in losing my husband was that he was taken to Dover and that he was handled with dignity, love, respect and honor,” Smith said. “That was completely shattered for me when I was told that he was thrown in the trash.”

The disclosure of the landfill disposals comes in the aftermath of multiple federal investigations that documented “gross mismanagement” at Dover Air Force Base, which receives the remains of all service members killed in action in Afghanistan, Iraq or elsewhere overseas.

On Tuesday, the Air Force acknowledged that the mortuary had lost a dead soldier’s ankle and an unidentified body part recovered from an air crash; had sawed off a Marine’s arm so his body would fit in his casket; and had improperly stored and tracked other remains.

“What happened at Dover AFB exceeds on many levels the nationwide anger that resulted from reports of mistreated wounded at the former Walter Reed Army Medical Center in 2007 and reports of lost or misplaced graves at Arlington National Cemetery,” said Richard L. DeNoyer, the national commander of the Veterans of Foreign Wars. “You only get one chance to return our fallen warriors to their families with all the dignity and respect they deserve from a grateful nation — and that mortuary affairs unit failed.”

Smith,spent more than four years trying to find out what happened to her husband’s remaining body parts before she learned of the landfill disposal. Sgt. 1st Class Scott R. Smith served more than 16 years in the Army and volunteered for dangerous duty defusing and destroying bombs in Iraq. He was killed when stepped on a pressure plate that triggered a buried bomb.

Gari-Lynn Smith said she believed that Dover officials would treat the remains with respect. The deceased soldier’s parents declined to comment. In April, Trevor Dean, a senior official at the Dover mortuary, informed her in a letter that some of her husband’s body parts were cremated and dumped in a landfill in King George County. In the letter, Dean listed her husband’s first name incorrectly, an oversight that Smith saw as yet another sign of disregard for her spouse.

“This has been nothing but a nightmare,” she said.

I would posit that all 8 years of Bush/Cheney was more or less a nightmare. Yet simpletons continue to listen to the disingenuous bullshit coming from the faux patriots in the Republican Party. I know I will offend some readers, but in my estimation, to be a Republican nowadays requires one to either be mentally ill or to have suffered a lobotomy. The lies and disingenuousness are simple mind numbing.

Archbishop Dolan Declares War on Gay Friendly Catholics

I'll admit it - I have nothing but contempt for the porcine Archbishop of New York (and the rest of the Catholic Church hierarchy, many of whom ought to be in prison over their malfeasance in over ups of sex abuse crimes). Rather than deal with the many huge problems in the Catholic Church - like ridding the Church of child rapist enablers and protectors - Porky Pig Dolan - who looks to have never missed a meal - has declared war on any Catholic who might believe that same sex couples deserve even a shred of legal recognition of their relationships. The irony, of course, is that Dolan's already too late in seeking to brow beat the laity, a significant portion of which has already shifted to support same sex marriage. Nonetheless, Dolan seems to think the laity is willing to accept Inquisition like fiats without question. Let's hope his heavy handedness serves to merely drive more Catholics away from the morally bankrupt Church. A piece in the California Catholic sets out the details of Dolan's anti-gay declaration. Here are some highlights:

[I]t is the policy of the Archdiocese of New York that:

(1) No member of the clergy (priest or deacon) incardinated in the Archdiocese of New York, or any person while acting as an employee of the Church, may participate in the civil solemnization or celebration of a same-sex marriage, which includes but is not limited to providing services, accommodations, advantages, facilities, good or privileges for such events. Ecclesiastical solemnization or celebration of same-sex marriages is expressly forbidden by Canon law.

(2) No Catholic facility or property, including but not limited to parishes, missions, chapels, meeting halls, Catholic educational, health, or charitable institutions or benevolent orders, or any place dedicated, consecrated, or used for Catholic worship may be used for the solemnization or consecration of same-sex marriages.

(3) No items dedicated, consecrated, or used for the celebration of Catholic liturgy or sacred worship, including but not limited to sacred vessels, vestments, liturgical books or other items may be used for the civil solemnization of a same-sex marriage.

(4) Failure to adhere to this policy may result in the imposition of canonical sanctions.

In the preamble to the decree, Dolan makes it clear that he's not just targeting the clergy with his treat of "canonical sanctions." He states as follows:

I hereby decree the following diocesan policy regarding same-sex civil marriages. This policy is to be followed by all persons whose activities are subject to my moral authority as Archbishop of New York. It is intended to provide instruction for the activities of these persons and for the use of the property and facilities of the Church and Catholic-affiliated entities within the canonical boundaries of this Archdiocese.

Frankly, I'd argue that Dolan and most of the Church hierarchy, including Benedict XVI have no moral authority. They threw that away years ago when the official Church policy was to hid abuse and put the interest of sexual predators ahead of the interest of children and youths.

Ohio Vote Shows Obama Winning Back the Rust Belt

Tuesday's vote in Ohio to repeal the GOP's union busting legislation was a huge rebuke to anti-family, anti-worker Republicans who talk a good game - until one looks at the details, of course - about caring about average Americans but in truth are aimed at building a wealth disparity in the United States that might rival that seen in Tsarist Russia. Some speculate that the defeat of several GOP initiatives demonstrates that average votes and citizens are waking up to the fact that Republicans are not their friends. Indeed, with friends like Ohio Republicans, who truly needs an enemy. It continues to amaze me how simpletons continue to fall for the GOP "no tax" mantra when those being protected from tax increases are the wealthy and not regular folks. It's part of the refusal to accept objective reality that now seems to be a prerequisite to belonging to the GOP base. A piece in The Daily Beast looks at the possible awakening of voters to the reality that the GOP is the party of class warfare and that it's average Americans (and non-religious extremists) who are the targets of this war. Here are some highlights:

Barack Obama is winning the Rust Belt back. The overwhelming repeal in Ohio of Governor John Kasich’s anti-labor bill from last year shows that the GOP has gone way, way too far—too far for Democrats, obviously, but also for independents. It shows the potential for something else, too: the populist message can stick. “Class warfare” can work. It can take hold even with the people who allegedly despise our Kenyan leader the most: the white working class. And if this turns out to be right, then the Washington conventional wisdom will be proven as wrong as it’s been since 1998, when the Cokie Roberts caucus convinced itself that the American people wanted to throw Bill Clinton out of the White House over Monica.

Ohio’s Question 2 lost 61 to 39 percent. I was on a press conference call yesterday with AFL-CIO President Rich Trumka and others, and pollster Guy Molyneaux ran through some numbers from polling that the union did. Fully 57 percent of independents backed the repeal. In 2010, 59 percent of independents voted for Kasich. So that’s a huge switch. The white working class, which Kasich won by 14 points in 2010, backed repeal by the very 61 percent that it took overall.

But the larger context in which this vote took place is important, too. And that context is Operation Wall Street, income inequality, Republicans in Congress killing the jobs bill piece by piece, Obama finally getting some blood flowing through those veins again instead of water. People have started to care about class issues, and it’s pretty clear what they think: The Republican Party isn’t representing them (unless they happen to live in a household with an income of at least $368,000 a year). In the new NBC/Wall Street Journal poll, 76 percent agreed that “the current economic structure of the country is out of balance and favors a small proportion of the rich over the rest of the country.”

What this means for next year is twofold. First, it suggests that Davids Plouffe and Axelrod should work the Rust Belt. Plouffe in particular has been signaling a strategy that would put more emphasis on Virginia and Colorado and North Carolina (where the convention is being held) at the expense of states like Ohio, Wisconsin, and Michigan. But the way Democrats and majorities of independents are acting in those Rust Belt states now, they’re looking more like states Obama can hold.

Which leads to the second possible consequence for next year. The conventional wisdom laid down by the geniuses who lay down the conventional wisdom is that Obama—any Democratic president, or any Democrat, really—can either play to the base or the middle but can’t possibly reach both. . . . . If the White House plays its cards right, 2012 could be about inequality. The Democrat can’t possibly lose an election about inequality.

A lot of this will depend on events, starting with the unemployment rate. But what the Ohio result shows is a way to unite liberals and moderates, Democrats and independents, behind one message that both want to hear. That hasn’t happened much in recent American history. The White House had best be alert to it.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Thursday Morning Male Beauty

Will Tuesday's Election Results Moderate the GOP?

Personally, I doubt that the Republicans will learn much from Tuesday's election results even though a number of the more extreme agenda measures of the Party took major hits such as the stunning repeal of the GOP's union busting tactics in Ohio. Instead, the loons in the GOP base will likely revert to the familiar mantra that had candidates been even more extreme, then they would have been victorious. Two races locally suggest otherwise because the challengers of Senators Ralph Northam and Mamie Locke could not have been much more extreme, especially Locke's opponent who used signs featuring dead fetuses. But then we're not talking about rational people when we speak of today's base of the GOP. The New York Times had an article that looked at some of the numerous GOP defeats across the USA. Here are some highlights:

Voters turned a skeptical eye toward conservative-backed measures across the country Tuesday, rejecting an anti-labor law in Ohio, an anti-abortion measure in Mississippi and a tightening of voting rights in Maine.

Even in Arizona, voters turned out of office the chief architect of that state’s controversial anti-immigration law. State Senator Russell Pearce, a Republican power broker and a former sheriff’s deputy known for his uncompromising style, was a hero to the Tea Party movement, and apart from his anti-immigration efforts, he had introduced numerous bills to nullify federal laws. Taken together, Tuesday’s results could breathe new life into President Obama’s hopes for his re-election a year from now. But the day was not a wholesale victory for Democrats.

[W]hile voters in Mississippi, one of the most conservative states, turned away a measure that would have outlawed all abortions and many forms of contraception, they tightened their voting laws to require some form of government-approved identification.

In Iowa, Republicans failed in their attempt to win control of the State Senate. Had they won a special election there, they would probably have been able to pass numerous measures, including a ban on same-sex marriage, that has been blocked by Democrats.

But in something of a surprise, an expensive effort by Republicans in Virginia to take over the State Senate — and thereby take complete control of the state government — appeared stalled by one unresolved race. The Republican candidate held an edge of just 86 votes, which will almost certainly lead to a recount, which could take weeks. If that Republican wins, the Senate will be split in a 20-20 tie with Democrats.

One of the biggest surprises of the night was Mississippi’s rejection of a far-reaching and stringent anti-abortion initiative known as the “personhoodamendment, which had inspired a ferocious national debate. . . . . Supporters, including evangelical Christians, said it would have stopped the murder of innocent life and sent a clarion moral call to the world. They said they expected that passage in Mississippi would have built support for similar laws in other states.

Here in Virginia I expect to see the GOP act as if it has a landslide mandate for its efforts to drag Virginia back into the 19th century. One can only hope that the over reaching will cause a backlash as early as a year from now.

Accountability Penn State Style Versus the Vatican

I haven't said much about the exploding sex abuse scandal at Penn State. The failure to act and insist that wrong doers be held accountable is disgusting and one has to shake their head that supposedly decent people basically just looked the other way after supposedly covering their asses by reporting to superiors. Superiors who did nothing. The parallels with the behavior within the ranks of the the Catholic clergy (although on a fraction of the scale compared to the tens of thousands molested by priests) in some ways are remarkable. The ultimate consequences, however, are shockingly different. At Penn State people are being fired and the president of the university has resigned. With the Catholic Church, no one in the hierarchy has been punished and cretins are even pushing for sainthood for John Paul II who had an active role in cover ups. It shows that the secular world has a far higher standard for morality and accountability than the supposed princes of the Catholic Church. Here are highlights from a New York Times piece that looks at the far different consequences and standard of accountability at Penn State:

Joe Paterno, who has the most victories of any coach in major college football history, was fired by Penn State on Wednesday night in the wake of a sexual abuse scandal involving a prominent former assistant coach and the university’s failure to act to halt further harm.

Graham B. Spanier, one of the longest-serving and highest-paid university presidents in the nation, who has helped raise the academic profile of Penn State during his tenure, was also removed by the Board of Trustees. When the announcement was made at a news conference that the 84-year-old Paterno would not coach another game, a gasp went up from the crowd of several hundred reporters, students and camera people who were present.

“We thought that because of the difficulties that engulfed our university, and they are grave, that it is necessary to make a change in the leadership to set a course for a new direction,” said John Surma Jr., the vice chairman of the board.

The university’s most senior officials were clearly seeking to halt the humiliating damage caused by the arrest last Saturday of the former assistant coach, Jerry Sandusky. . . . . Sandusky has been charged with sexually abusing eight boys over a 15-year span, and two top university officials — Tim Curley, the athletic director, and Gary Schultz, the senior vice president for finance and business — have been charged with perjury and failing to report to authorities what they knew of the allegations. Neither Paterno nor Spanier was charged in the case, though questions have been raised about if they did as much as they could to stop Sandusky.

A grand jury said that Spanier, the university’s president since 1995, was made aware of a report of an incident involving Sandusky. Upon learning about a suspected 2002 assault by Sandusky of a young boy in the football building’s showers, Paterno redirected the graduate assistant who witnessed the incident to the athletic director, rather than notifying the police. Paterno said the graduate assistant who reported the assault, Mike McQueary, said only that something disturbing had happened that was perhaps sexual in nature. McQueary testified that he saw Sandusky having anal sex with the boy.

Contrast this with what was done with Cardinal Law of Boston. Rather than face punishment, Law was transferred to Rome - in part to get him out of the reach of civil authorities - and given a plum position where he lives literally in a palace. The moral bankruptcy of the Church hierarchy is truly complete. And yet as we saw when in Rome recently, the sheeple still flock to grovel to Benedict XVI who likewise was up to his ears in the cover up of the molestation of children and youths. It's a sad commentary on rank and file Catholics.

Rick Perry Continues to Prove He's an Idiot

Admittedly, when one is running for the highest office in the land, there are myriad issues that need to be considered and studied. But when you're proposing to axe major departments in government, one would think that you'd have their names at you finger tips and readily in mind. Not so if you're the latest bozo from Texas trying to dumb down political discourse and lead the way in a national embracing of ignorance. Rick Perry would be better served to stop wearing his religion on his sleeve and do some serious studying of issues. He truly is beginning to make Chimperator George W. Bush look relatively intelligent - something that's not an easy feat. Of course, with the GOP base, the dumber and more untruthful one is - e.g., Sarah Palin, Herman Cain - the more the loonies will rally to you. The Washington Post looks at Perry's latest stumble. Here are some highlights:

Texas Gov. Rick Perry made the worst stumble of the presidential campaign on Wednesday, struggling awkwardly to remember the name of a third federal agency he would eliminate if he became president.

At a time when Perry’s team was hoping desperately for a breakout, or at least mistake-free, performance to revive his ailing campaign, the governor’s gaffe could well do lasting damage. Perry’s performance raises more questions about his ability to compete at a time when GOP voters are looking for someone to go toe-to-toe against President Obama in 2012.

“It is three agencies of government when I get there that are gone,” he said, beginning to lay out one of the staples of his stump speech. “Commerce, Education, and the — what’s the third one there? Let’s see,” Perry said. “Commerce and, let’s see,” he continued. “I can’t. The third one, I can’t. Sorry. Oops.”

[I]n a rare appearance in the media filing center after the debate, Perry acknowledged the gravity of the mistake. “Yeah, I stepped in it, man,” he said. “Yeah, it was embarrassing. Of course it was. But here’s what’s more important: People understand that our principles, our conservative principles, are what matter, not a litany of agencies that I think we need to get rid of.”

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Wednesday Morning Male Beauty

Democrats Hold Iowa Senate and Stymie Gay Marriage Repeal Effort

While Virginia showed itself yet again to be a state racing for the past - a past filed with bigotry and discrimination, one might add - in Iowa the Democrats retained control of the Iowa Senate and thereby stymied efforts by NOM and other anti-gay hate groups to shift control to the GOP which would have allowed efforts to amend the Iowa constitution to ban same sex marriage. NOM invested huge effort and money in the special election that pitted Democrat Liz Mathis (who received 56% of the vote) against GOP candidate Cindy Golding (who received only 44% of the vote). In the run up to the election an attack ad against Mathis similar to the one floated against Ralph Northam here in Virginia was disseminated. Naturally, with a wink and a nod NOM and the lunatics at The Family Leader disclaimed any knowledge of who was behind the ad. Here are highlights from the Des Moines Register:

Democratic candidate Liz Mathis won the $1 million special Iowa Senate race Tuesday, allowing her party to retain control of the chamber.

Democrats will maintain a 26-24 edge through the 2012 legislative session. Republicans had hoped for a 25-25 tie and the potential to move forward on now-gridlocked priorities, such as a move to begin the process to ban same-sex marriage in Iowa.

Nearly $1 million was raised for the race as of last Friday. Mathis raised $690,036 in cash and in-kind contributions, while Golding raised a total of $250,325, reports released Tuesday showed. And those numbers do not include third-party spending from groups that were not affiliated with a campaign but in some way advocated for a candidate.

The money is an indication of what was at stake, said Bob Vander Plaats, a former Iowa Republican candidate for governor and statewide crusader against same-sex marriage.

Vander Plaats’ group, the Family Leader, helped campaign for Golding. But the group viewed the larger goal as neutralizing the power of Senate Democratic Majority Leader Michael Gronstal. As majority leader, Gronstal has single-handedly blocked GOP priorities, such as the push for an amendment to the Iowa Constitution to ban same-sex marriage.

But the rhetoric turned ugly in the final days of the campaign when a group known as “Citizens for Honesty and Sound Marriage in Iowa” used robocalls to instruct voters to ask Mathis which gay sex acts she endorses.

Vander Plaats disavowed the ad, as did the Washington, D.C.-based National Organization for Marriage, a group that opposes same-sex marriage.

Contrary to what NOM would have the simple minded believe, same sex marriage only dominates the minds of religious extremists and professional Christians like Maggie Gallagher who is making a plush six figure income marketing anti-LGBT hatred.

Republicans Claim Victory in Virgina Senate

Republicans now hold a 20-20 split in the Virginia Senate which will make GOP Lieutenant Governor Bill Bolling the tie breaking vote. Sadly, this development means that Virginia will likely see insane, reactionary measures like the "personhood" initiative in Mississippi (which was thankfully defeated ) come before the Virginia Senate and secure passage. It's mind numbing that in too many districts, voters rewarded the party's whose policies have brought on the ongoing economic disaster. Much of the blame for this likely lies with "Christian" conservatives who were mobilized by the hate merchants at The Family Foundation and pastors who serve as water carriers for hate high priestess Victoria Cobb. Blame also falls on moderates who were too lazy to get out and vote. In many parts of the state - e.g., Martinsville with its 20% unemployment) - the GOP's far right policies will make GOP supporting localities even less attractive to companies that might otherwise relocate to them. Here are highlights from the Virginian Pilot.

Virginia Republicans early Wednesday claimed victory in their quest to take the state Senate - if not with an outright majority, with a 20-20 split that gives the Republican lieutenant governor, Bill Bolling, the tie-breaking vote.

Republican control could give McDonnell freer rein in the second half of his term and could also signal a more conservative turn on issues such as abortion, gun rights and illegal immigration.

The Senate battle came down to two races with razor-thin margins. One of the critical contests was the race between veteran Democratic Sen. Edward Houck and Republican challenger Bryce Reeves in a Fredericksburg-area district. Unofficial State Board of Elections tallies showed Reeves with an 86 vote lead over Houck out of nearly 45,000 ballots casts, a margin statistically slim enough to allow for a recount under state law.

Another close race is a matchup of two sitting senators – Democrat Roscoe Reynolds and Republican Bill Stanley – in Southside Virginia that ranks as one of the most expensive races this cycle. Unofficial results with all precincts counted showed Stanley the victor by 643 votes out of more than 47,000 cast.

Homophobes like Bob Marshall and Ken Cuccinelli must be salivating over some of the hate and batshitery they will now be able to advance.

"Personhood" Batshitery Fails in Mississippi

One of the pieces of good news from yesterday's elections is the resounding defeat of the Christianist backed "personhood" constitutional amendment initiative that would have made every fertilized egg a "person" under Mississippi law. Thankfully, the measure lost by a wide margin and with the measure crashing and burning in backward Mississippi, one can only hope advocates of a similar effort here in Virginia will be deterred from pushing for legislation in the next session of the Virginia General Assembly. The size of the loss was in some ways the biggest surprise. As for those in the GOP who slavishly supported the measure in order to kiss the asses of the Christofascists behind the measure, let's hope they've learned a lesson that injecting pure religion based measures into the civil laws is not as popular as Christianists claim. Here are highlights from the Washington Post:

A constitutional amendment that would have defined a fertilized egg as a person failed on the ballot in Mississippi on Tuesday, dealing the so-called “personhood” movement another blow. . . . . The amendment trailed 59 percent to 41 percent with more than half of precincts reporting. The Associated Press has said it will fail.

Opponents say that measure could have criminalized birth control, affected in vitro fertilization practices and even forced doctors to decline to provide pregnant cancer patients with chemotherapy for fear of legal repercussions.

Personhood” supporters had tried to pass a similar measure in Colorado in 2008 and 2010, but voters in that state rejected it more than two-to-one both times.

The Jackson Clarion-Ledger also has coverage on the defeat of this religious extremism here.

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Democrat Ralph Northam Trounces Anti-Gay Bigot Ben Loyola

I've written recently about the hideous anti-gay flyer distributed against Virgina 6th District incumbent Senator Ralph Northam. Northam's challenger, Ben Loyola's campaign denied any knowledge of the flyer with a wink and a nod even though (1) the wording in the flyer seemed to tract directly from Traditional Values Coalition ("TVC") so-called "reports" and (2) Loyola's campaign managers had ties to TVC when it ran Scott Rigell's congressional campaign - Rigell was endorsed by TVC founder, Lou Sheldon. Well, today, the dirty tricks failed to pay off as Loyola lost by a 13% spread. These highlights from the Virginian Pilot:

Democrat Ralph Northam outpaced his Republican challenger in a district that straddles cities and counties on both sides of the Chesapeake Bay.

Ben Loyola had strong support from leading Republicans and spent almost $173,000 with top contributions from both the Republican Party and tea party backers, but lost in his second bid for public office.

Northam, 52, an East Beach resident and a pediatric neurologist at the Children’s Hospital of The King’s Daughter’s Hospital, has strong ties to both Norfolk and the Eastern Shore, where he grew up.

Loyola’s platform for the state office had echoed his previous campaign for Congress, pitching lower taxes and less government as the remedy for the economy, unemployment and other ills.

With two defeats now, one can only hope that Loyola returns to the political wilderness.

California "Family Values" Leader - Gays Are "Less than Animals"

If one wanted any proof of the level of hatred and intolerance that passes now as normal discourse among Christianists and those in the Republican Party who give them the equivalent of political fellatio, one need look no farther that recent statements made by professional leech - I mean Christian - Randy Thomasson about LGBT studies at the collegiate level. While Thomasson was stupid/crazy enough to flat out describe gays as "less than animals," his mindset is in may ways the norm among Christianists and their evangelical allies in the Tea Party. Thomasson's latest gig living off the dissemination of anti-gay hate is Save California the mission of which is to protect and retain Proposition 8. Blogger Jeremy Hooper at Good As You looks at Thomasson's vile statements which were repeated in a piece on World Net Daily, a/k/a Wing Nut Daily. What triggered Thomasson's anti-gay screed is the fact that colleges and universities are increasingly offer classes and minors/majors in Queer Studies. Here are highlights from Wing Nut Daily quoting Thomasson:

California State University Fullerton became the latest CSU school to offer a Queer Studies minor this fall, and President Randy Thomasson, a prominent pro-family voice in the Golden State's Proposition 8 battle to protect marriage as the union between one man and one woman, argues there's an agenda behind the increasingly common courses.

Thomasson contends that the Queer Studies program is not education at all but a lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender, or LGBT, indoctrination program that hides the facts about homosexual behavior and only serves the purpose of promoting unhealthy lifestyles.

"Teaching young adults who have already been taught lies about sexuality as children this non-academic 'academic' minor will train them to be homosexual-bisexual-transsexual activists that attack everything good and sacred in our culture,"

"This is not a true study [that sets out] to discover the unnatural, unhealthy behavior of homosexuality, bisexuality and transsexuality," Thomasson added. "Indeed, this is training up an immoral army of soldiers to attack real marriage, the natural family, and to rope more children into sexual darkness."

"This philosophy essentially turns man into an animal, but less than an animal, because beasts follow God's natural order of sexuality."

"There is no 'gay gene,' but there are thousands and thousands of former homosexuals who have left that lifestyle for good. Homosexuality is a behavior, bisexuality is obviously a choice, and transsexuality is obviously unnatural ('sex changes' require a scalpel)."

He explains that there is a common denominator found in individuals who practice homosexual behavior. "Many have been molested in their youth, or have had an estranged emotional relationship with their father or mother," said Thomasson, who used Chaz Bono as one example.

Tuesday Morning Male Beauty

Herman Cain Latest Accuser's Story Rings True

It will be interesting to see how long the objective fact deniers in the GOP's Christianist/Tea Party base refuse to accept the fact that in addition to being utterly ignorant on crucial issues, Herman Cain is also a pervert and sexual predator. Now, we're up to four (4) different accusers and the latest - Sharon Bialek - appears to sound believable. Let's face it, where there is this much smoke (not to mention paid confidential settlements) it's hard to believe that there isn't some actual fire. One has to wonder why those in the GOP seems to always grab onto unsavory blacks (think Clarence Thomas, ethically challenged dullard in chief on the Supreme Court) as they attempt to claim that the party is not racist. Could it be that decent, respectable blacks aren't self-loathing enough to play water carrier for the descendants of white segregationists? Michelle Goldberg looks at Cain's latest accuser in The Daily Beast. Here are some column highlights:

By the end of Sharon Bialek’s press conference at Manhattan’s Friars Club on Monday, you could already see the case against her taking shape. In many ways, Bialek is exactly the kind of accuser who could damage Herman Cain the most—an attractive blonde Republican, a mom who attends Tea Party events. But as the questions put forward Monday suggest, she also has vulnerabilities. She was fired from her job in 1997. For the past two years she’s been a “full-time single mom,” and her lawyer, Gloria Allred, refused to say how Bialek supports herself.

After the conference, I saw the right-wing talk radio host Mark Simone in the lobby. “You didn’t actually believe any of that, did you?” he asked, smirking. I said it sounded plausible to me. He gave a condescending laugh . . .

I have no way of knowing, obviously, whether Bialek was telling the truth. None of us do. But there’s nothing unusual about a woman seeking professional help from a powerful older man and getting sexual advances instead. More than that, it’s often hard to tell, at least initially, whether a man is offering mentorship or lechery. This is one of the difficult things about being a woman in a male-dominated workplace. Career progress often depends on relationships, and on people higher up taking a friendly interest in you. When you have a chance to have drinks or dinner with someone you look up to, it’s not always easy to figure out whether it’s an opportunity or a trap.

As Bialek tells it, she had reason to believe that Cain’s interest in her was avuncular; after all, when she worked as a manager at the Educational Foundation, part of the National Restaurant Association, she’d socialized with him along with her boyfriend. Indeed, it was the boyfriend who suggested that she seek Cain out after losing her job, as he had always been so friendly to her.

This story is wearingly familiar. Most women I know have experienced something similar, though rarely so crude. For me, it was the professor who I thought admired my writing until he propositioned me. Friends have told me about a foreign policy pro who is infamous for coming on to young women who need jobs. Despite the myths on the right about hordes of humorous and litigious harpies eager to turn every dirty joke into a payday, women tend to shrug these things off, especially when there’s no violence or retaliation. No one wants to spend her life in court, . . .

[W]hile I don’t know whether Bialek’s story is true, I do know that it rings true. It makes sense that she didn’t report Cain or come forward until now. According to two affidavits that Allred read at the press conference, she did what most women do: confide in people close to her, in her case her boyfriend and a friend, and move on. She had nothing to gain and much to lose from doing otherwise, and men who do what Cain is accused of doing count on that.

Adam and Eve - Where's Christianity Without The Fall?

While the professional Christian crowd continues to endeavor to whip up anti-LGBT hate and other types of hatred - of course, lining their pockets with money in the process - they seem to be ignoring the biggest threat of all to their house of cards belief system: the fact that the literal story of Adam and Eve in the Bible is false. As noted before, science now tells us that they never existed and that, therefore, there was no "Fall" and exile from the Garden of Eden. And if this is the case, there was no need for a messiah to die and secure forgiveness for Adam and Eve's descendants. Bob Felton at Civil Commotion describes the quandary for the inerrant Bible crowd as follows:

The problem is straightforward:

1. No Adam and Eve, then

2. No Fall, then …

3. No Original Sin, so …

4. Jesus doesn’t ‘save’ and Christianity has nothing on offer but a not-very-special ethical system.

So far, most of the Bible beaters seem to want to merely ignore the clear import of this problem. One such is Albert Mohler at the Southern Baptist Convention. But the Catholic Church isn't immune from the huge problem that the central salvation story of the Bible and Christianity has a foundation less secure than a house built upon sand. A piece in Commonweal looks at the dilemma before the Catholic Church. Ignoring this threat to the bedrock of Catholic dogma doesn't make the problem go away. Here are some article highlights:

For the past few months, many evangelicals and Baptists and other conservative Christians in the Protestant stream have been debating — and generally pushing back against — the science showing that the human race could not literally have descended from two progenitors, Adam and Eve.

The Catholic Church indeed of all the Christian churches faces a particular quandary. The Council of Trent is quite explicit on the topic. Catholics are required to believe not only that Adam is the single father of the human race, but that Original Sin is passed on by physical generation from him to the entire human race. It’s not something symbolic or allegorical (although it is regarded as ultimately mysterious). The First Vatican Council reiterated the doctrine, as did Pope Pius XII in his 1950 encyclical Humani Generis

Catholic apologists who point to Pope John Paul II’s 1996 address to the Pontifical Academy of Sciences as evidence of the Church’s acceptance of evolution often fail to notice that the late Pope completely passed over the question of monogenism, and indeed never did discuss the problem that genetics poses to the doctrine.

Indeed, evidence against a literal Adam and Eve is pretty conclusive. . . . while the Vatican maintains its silence on the challenge of genomics, Catholics in general are either encouraged to fall back on the denialism of Evangelical leaders like Albert Mohler, or to keep their mouths shut. Catholics tend not to keep their mouths shut, and shouldn’t, nor should they have to adopt views like Al Mohler’s.

With roughly one third of those raised as Catholics having left the Church in the USA alone, the hierarchy's refusal to address this huge problem will likely only hasten the exodus (that is, if the sex abuse scandal alone isn't reason enough).

Be Sure to Vote - Low Turn Out Expected and Every Vote Counts

All predictions are that today's critical vote in Virginia - a vote where the forces of religious extremism and hate and bigotry could capture the Virginia Senate - will be another low turn out situation. Thus, EVERY vote counts and those who want policies based on facts and objective reality and that will not seek to drag Virginia back to the 1950's need to take the time to go to the polls and vote. While the message in the image is all too true, the Kool-Aid drinkers seem only too willing to allow religious lunacy to trick them into voting against their own long term best interest. It drives me crazy!! NBC News looks at the likely low turnout with these highlights:

Turnout is expected to be low, but it’s a high-stakes affair.

Democratic U.S. Sen. Mark Warner and Republican Gov. Bob McDonnell, the most popular figures in their parties in the commonwealth, spent the past three days crisscrossing Virginia to get out the vote. Their focus is the State Senate. Democrats have a four-seat majority that Republicans have set their sights on claiming. Democrats say it’s critical to keep a balance in Richmond

At a Prince William County rally over the weekend, McDonnell criticized Democrats for trying to stir fears to win votes.

McDonnell is the last one to talk about using fear to get votes. Across the state, the GOP message incites fear of gays, fear of immigrants, and fear of no-Christians - oh, and let's not forget greed. The Tea Party base of the GOP is all about holding on to one's money and allowing the state infrastructure and social safety net programs fall apart.

Monday, November 07, 2011

More Monday Male Beauty

GOP Anti-Gay Screed Attacking Ralph Northam - AN UPDATE

Last Thursday I wrote about a vile anti-gay flyer (set out above) that had been distributed across Senator Ralph Northam's district. Among other things, the flyer accused Northam of "advancing the Homosexual/Gay lifestyle." Over the weekend, I connected some of the dots connecting the flyer to past bigotry displayed by Ben Loyola's campaign management group and anti-gay Congressman Scott Rigell - an individual who proudly highlighted his endorsement by hate group leader Lou Sheldon.

Now, coverage of the anti-gay bigotry that is rife within the Republican Party of Virginia has hit the national LGBT blogosphere at both Towleroad and Joe My God. The rest of the world needs to know the cesspool like nature of the Republican Party in Virginia. The anti-gay bigotry demonstrated in Northam's district is not unique. Here in Hampton, incumbent senator Mamie Locke is being challenged by an equally foaming at the mouth homophobe.

I truly hope that EVERY Virginia reader will get out tomorrow and vote Democrat so that these foul merchants of hate and bigotry do not win control of the Virginia Senate. If we think things are bad now, they will get markedly worse if the GOP takes the Virginia Senate.

Do Gays Really Boost Property Values?

Friends and I frequently joke that if you want to raise property values and spur gentrification, then get the gays and lesbians to move into the neighborhood. We also have been documented as being a good measure of the attractiveness a city to the so-called "creative class." These stereotypes hold true in many areas even in the Hampton Roads area of Virginia, particularly in Norfolk's Ghent area which has transformed itself form borderline slum a number of years ago to one of the most sought after areas replete with shops, restaurants and arts venues. The stereotype even extends to our neighborhood in Hampton which for the most part - sadly, we do have a few reactionary, bigoted residents - is gay friendly and has seen LGBT homeowners make major upgrades to properties. The same phenomenon has even been seen in Cape Charles on Virginia's Eastern Shore. Now a study has conformed the positive influence that gays have on property values. At least in liberal, open minded neighborhoods. In areas favored by conservative bigots, we don't work the same magic. Here are highlights from the Vancouver Sun on some of the new study findings:

A controversial new study suggests that in neighbourhoods where extreme conservatism prevails, the presence of one more same-sex couple for every 1,000 households is linked to a one per cent drop in housing prices. In liberal neighbourhoods, by contrast, researchers find the associated effect of gays and lesbians on housing prices to be positive.

The study, which appears in the Journal of Urban Economics, draws data from more than 20,000 home sales, and controls for such mitigating factors as access to amenities, racial homogeneity, education, income, housing characteristics and quality of nearby schools.

"Gays and lesbians feel that they're not welcome in certain areas," says Susane Leguizamon, a professor of economics at Tulane University. "This study suggests it's not just a feeling; people are responding to the presence of gays and lesbians in the ways we'd expect."

Leguizamon suggests cohabitating same-sex couples are actually quite visible to their neighbours, and thus can have an effect on what people will pay to come or go — much the same way ethnicity has been shown to do in other studies.

She and co-author David Christafore used voting outcomes of the U.S. Defense of Marriage Act to classify neighbourhood values (the Act stated that marriage could only be entered into by a man and a woman), and called on census data to determine the number of same-sex couples in the area.

Affirming previous research, their analysis showed that sexual diversity was positively correlated with housing prices in most neighbourhoods — and most significantly in very liberal areas, dubbed "gaybourhoods."

In communities with high levels of conservatism, however, greater concentrations of same-sex couples was linked with lower housing prices.

Importantly, however, research led by Richard Florida at the University of Toronto's Rotman School of Management has consistently shown that higher concentrations of gay people are linked with economic prosperity, innovation and creativity within a region.