Saturday, March 17, 2012

Rick Santorum's Anti-Gay Agenda is Alienating Catholics

Rick Santorum likes to see himself as an Uber-Catholic. The problem is that outside of the Catholic Church hierarchy and an pockets of extremists like William Donohue and his fellow zealots at the Catholic League most rank and file Catholics have long ago ceased to listen to tha majority of pronouncements from Pope Benedict XVI and his sycophants in the ranks of the bishops and cardinals. The result is that Santorum's semi-hysterical anti-gay rhetoric and his vitriolic opposition to birth control is a turn off to the vast majority of Catholics despite the near orgasmic support he finds among the members of the child rapist protectors in the hierarchy and extremists like the followers of the Catholic League. JFK's candidacy for president brought pride and a feeling of acceptance to many Catholics. Santorum in contrast brings a strong sense of embarrassment and fear that Catholics at large will suffer from being equated with Santorum's lunacy. Death and Taxes looks Santorum's rejection by many Catholics. Here are some highlights:

Rick Santorum puts his Catholic faith front and center of his presidential campaign, regaling crowds with tales of his personal worship and unabashedly injecting religion into his conservative brand of politics, evidenced most clearly by his opposition to abortion and gay rights. But he’s also been careful to avoid mentioning or visiting the Illinois Catholic high school from which he graduated in 1976.

Joan Walsh at Salon points out that Santorum, traveling around Illinois ahead of Tuesday’s primary, visited the Christian Liberty Academy in Cook County, but failed to pop in on his alma mater Carmel Catholic High School or a local catholic center named after his friend and supporter, Al Salvi. Walsh speculates, based on an article by another Carmel Catholic High School graduate, Brian Herman, that Santorum doesn’t want to be associated with a comparatively liberal school that celebrates academia

In his Arlington Heights Tribune op-ed, Herman notes, “Listening to Rick Santorum, one would think he’s the product of some shady institution created by a televangelist during the age of disco to provide an academic pretense for challenging scientific consensus and reversing decades of social progress.”

A number of other Carmel-based Catholics agree, and have formed a “Carmel Catholic Alumni Against Rick SantorumFacebook page that has over 400 likes and organized a protest outside of a Santorum event in Arlington Heights Friday. Many of them specifically called out Santorum’s anti-gay politics.

“Rick Santorum has really built a career on discriminating against the LGBT community,” one alum told the local Daily Herald. “That’s the thing that’s really rallying alumni against him. We’ve been shocked and embarrassed by it.” The same may be said about Catholics at large.

Despite the Vatican and other church leaders’ admonishment of same-sex love, two-thirds of Catholics support legal recognition of gay relationships, with 44% supporting actual marriage, according to a New York Times/CBS News poll released last month. A Public Religion Research Institute survey found similar results last year: “nearly three-quarters of Catholics favor either allowing gay and lesbian people to marry (43%) or allowing them to form civil unions (31%). Only 22% of Catholics say there should be no legal recognition of a gay couple’s relationship.”

This puts Santorum in direct conflict with Catholic voters from coast-to-coast. They’ve been more inclined to vote for Mitt Romney, who has won the Catholic vote in every state but Tennessee. But, you know, Santorum reaps what he sows.

Saturday Morning Male Beauty

The GOP’s Bizarre Quarrel with Reality

The hornet's nest that the GOP has stirred up through its anti-woman agenda continues to swarm and swirl around delusional Republicans who refuse to accept the reality that it is no longer the 1950's and that women - and gays for that matter - are not going to go willingly back to that era dominated by white males with all others playing subservient or even invisible roles. This inability to cope with objective reality likely arises in part from the fact that Christianists, who by definition, reject objective reality, and ignorance embracing elements of society now form the base of the GOP. One has to wonder when these self-centered white males will wake up. Take for instance Virginia's Governor Ultrasound, Bob "Taliban Bob" McDonnell whose Facebook page makes for hysterical reading as he is incessantly lambasted by outraged women:

Governor, I'm having really bad cramps, been in bed 3 days puking bile, and my period is so heavy, that I've bled through onto my sheets. I would go to my doctor, but was told you're the "go to" guy for medical help on vaginal issues.

You are very famous all over Europe as well and they believe we are dealing with a man from the 14th Century...which was the time they use to burn Women ....for NOTHING. GET OUT OF OUR LIVES YOU are not going to Lord over us. Get another JOB.

You have ignored Virginia women. You represent the Taliban of Virginia. women do not forget. So sorry you feel you must control the lives of others. You will forever be known as the Vaginal Probe guy . . . probably not the V.P. you were hoping for.

Obviously, Taliban Bob should have remained focused on protecting closeted Republicans like his buddy former Congressman Ed Schrock.

But McDonnell is only one of many in the GOP who have declared a war on reality and modernity. A column in the Kansas City Star provides another example of the GOP's self-inflicted wounds. Here are highlights:

Women get a lot of lip service about being equal and fully valued members of society, although sometimes we have to wonder.

As we have advanced in the workplace, so have the fortunes of the men in our lives. “Mad Men” may be a popular TV drama, with its alluring evocation of the days when men were men and women were sexually available office underlings (or were at home wearing an apron). However, I doubt many married men would trade their wife’s income for a chance to relive that era. They couldn’t afford it.

Yet the Republican Party seems to live in a different reality. Here we are, smack in the middle of a presidential race, and the right is busy trying to undo everything the women’s movement has accomplished in the last 50 years — most notably reproductive rights, which were crucial in letting us pursue careers in the first place.

Mitt Romney, desperate to prove his conservative bona fides, has declared war on Planned Parenthood, vowing to strip the nation’s largest family planning service of federal funding. Opposition to abortion is the subtext of Romney’s attack, but the organization plays an even greater role in American society by helping to prevent unwanted pregnancies — and that bugs many conservatives, too.

In this climate, even the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act is stirring GOP pots. The bill passed out of the Senate Judiciary Committee without a single Republican vote. It seems Republicans have a problem with new provisions having to do with Native American jurisdiction, and with the fact that the bill extends protection to immigrant women and same sex couples. Heaven forbid that the law protect too many victims of domestic violence!

All of this is quite a shock for women of my generation, who were playing hopscotch during the struggles of the 1960s and ’70s. The feminists of those heady years didn’t quite succeed in quashing male chauvinism. . . . . Now it’s up to new generations of women to defend our ground.

The rebuke of Rush Limbaugh is a start. His vile sexual taunting of a Georgetown law school student who dared to speak up to Congress was so excessive that advertisers abandoned his show in droves. It was remarkable, considering that vileness is his brand.

What truly enraged women about the episode were the craven excuses for Limbaugh’s comments offered by leading Republicans, including three of the four remaining presidential candidates. They couldn’t muster the moral courage to stand up to Limbaugh — because they desperately need his approval.

It would be convenient to write off these affronts to women as the last gasps of male privilege. The forces of patriarchy have lost, and all they have left is their resentment. But we should remember that resentment is powerful fuel for political movements, and the fires of backlash are still burning on the American right. The challenge for women (and their male allies) is to hold up a mirror to the real America — where the vast majority of women want and, at key points in their lives, use birth control — and to expose the phoney arguments and bogus values of the party that would deny them that right.

The Christianists have pushed the GOP into this anti-woman territory and I hope it drags the GOP down. I just hope that those who may be thrown from office or see their ambitions dashed remember who set them on this backward facing journey.

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Santorum Promise War on Pornography If Elected

My, my. Rick "Frothy Mix" Santorum has apparently missed the studies that show the biggest users of Internet porn are those among his Christianist base - especially in the Bible Belt. Otherwise, why would he be promising a "war on pornography" if elected to the White House. Doesn't he realize that the "godly Christian" set loves to meddle in the sex lives of others but truly loves to watch Internet porn. Maybe it's how they bring excitement to their outwardly prudish, Puritan like unhappy lives. But I digress. This declaration will only serve to underscore Santorum's religious extremist image and ought to signal to voters outside the Kool-Aid drinking crowd that Santorum's own subliminal obsession with sex - especially gay sex - will push him to try to control their sex lives as well. Huffington Post looks at this latest batshitery from the (in my view) mentally disturbed Santorum:

Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum has promised to initiate a war on porn if elected. “America is suffering a pandemic of harm from pornography. It contributes to misogyny and violence against women. It is a contributing factor to prostitution and sex trafficking,” the former Pennsylvania senator wrote in a statement posted on his campaign website.

Santorum has chosen the porn industry as his latest target in his effort to be viewed as the most conservative candidate in the GOP primary, ahead of opponent Mitt Romney. He believes that current obscenity laws should be more stringently enforced.

The statement also took the opportunity to slam the Obama administration and its handling of the issue so far, stating that the president has “refused to enforce obscenity laws” and that the Department of Justice "seems to favor pornographers over children and families."

Not everyone agrees with Santorum's analysis of how the industry affects Americans. Steve Chapman, a writer for the Chicago Tribune took issue with Santorum's claims, which he describes as "just wrong."

"Santorum doesn't seem to notice that as porn has become ever-more available via the Internet, the prevalence of rape has plunged. Since 1991, the national rate has fallen by 86 percent -- compared to a decline in overall violent crime of 65 percent," Chapman wrote.

The porn industry is a billion-dollar-a-year business nationwide, and with the rise of the internet and technology it has become one of highest-grossing industries in the world.

The cited Chicago Tribune piece goes on to look at just how off base some of Frothy Mix's claims are in fact. Not that Santorum lives in a reality based world where hard facts and data matter. For Ricky, it's all about his Catholic upbringing induced bizarre views of sex (I know of what I speak - it took me years of therapy to undo the damage done by the priests and nuns). Here are some column highlights:

I can understand if Rick Santorum wants to prosecute pornographers on the grounds that explicit fare encourages non-marital sex, promotes the use of birth control or saps vital fluids. I would think he's off-base, but he'd at least have a plausible case.

When he claims that pornography "contributes to misogyny and violence against women," though, he's just wrong. All of the evidence argues the opposite.

Santorum doesn't seem to notice that as porn has become ever-more available via the Internet, the prevalence of rape has plunged. Since 1991, the national rate has fallen by 86 percent -- compared to a decline in overall violent crime of 65 percent.

A state-by-state study by economist Todd Kendall of Clemson University found that "the arrival of the Internet was associated with a reduction in rape incidence. However, growth in Internet usage had no apparent effect on other crimes." He concluded, that "in contrast to previous theories to the contrary, liberalization of pornography access may lead to declines in sexual victimization of women."

Santorum, however, is one of those people who just knows pornography has bad effects, because he finds it morally offensive. But when reality contradicts your ideology and religious assumptions, it's wise to reconsider them.
Of course, another explanation could be that Santorum wants to eliminate temptation for himself. If there's no gay porn, then he can't be day dreaming about watching it.

Rutgers Case Jury Convicts on All Charges

I hope Dharum Ravi had some good laughs over what he did to Tyler Clementi because Ravi could be going to prison for a number of years. As the New York Times reports, the jury in the much watched case found Ravi guilty on all charges, including tampering with evidence. One can only hope that a powerful message will be sent to other would be cyber-bullies as a result. The jury's decision to convict was bolstered by the abundance of Internet and social media evidence that isn't as easily erased as some bullies might believe. I hope word of the conviction - and whatever sentence is given to Ravi - gets around, especially among the Christianist and bubba sets who often seem to believe tormenting gays and those deemed "other" is great sport. Here are highlights from the Times story:

[F]or members of the jury, some of the most convincing evidence of Mr. Ravi’s guilt came from Mr. Clementi’s own complaints and online behavior after he learned of Mr. Ravi’s spying. And Mr. Clementi’s words echoed even more powerfully because he was not available to repeat them.

“It was pretty hard to think about Tyler, because he wasn’t present to give his thoughts,” said Kashad Leverett, 20, of South Amboy, N.J., after he and 11 other jurors delivered a guilty verdict on all charges, including invasion of privacy and bias intimidation, on Friday. “But in the evidence that was provided, it showed that he believed he was being intimidated because of his sexual orientation.”

It was a case with a pixelated paper trail seemingly like no other: Twitter feeds, Facebook posts, text messages, e-mails and other online chatter that together added up to a mountain of proof of Mr. Ravi’s guilt, some jurors said.

Other charges were hotly debated but led fairly quickly to votes to convict on other charges, including evidence tampering and witness tampering, Ms. Audet said. “There were text messages missing from his phone but not missing from other persons’ phones,” she said.

The bias intimidation charges were the most difficult to agree upon, jurors said. And what tipped the scales there, they said, was that Mr. Ravi had discussed spying on Mr. Clementi not just once, but repeatedly, even inviting his online friends to watch Mr. Clementi and the other man in a second encounter. That, said Ms. Audet, is what elevated the case from one of teenagers behaving cruelly and insensitively to a crime. “To attempt a second time, is what changed my mind,” she said. “A reasonable person would have closed it and ended it there, not tweeted about it.”

An important component of the bias intimidation charges was whether Mr. Clementi felt bullied. Jurors said he left ample evidence that he did: he complained to his resident assistant, he went online to request a room change, he saved screen shots of Mr. Ravi’s more offensive online posts, and he viewed his roommate’s Twitter feed 38 times in the two days before he killed himself by jumping off the George Washington Bridge. “We’ll never know exactly what he was feeling,” Ms. Audet said. “I can only assume.”

[S]he hoped her own children would draw heartfelt lessons from the tri al.I hope they use their heads and think before they do this,” she said. “Text messages, tweets, e-mails, iChats are never gone. Be careful. I’ve already told my kids, be careful. If you’re going to put something in writing, be able to back it up. Unfortunately, Dharun, he’s learning the lesson a very hard way.”

It's sad that Ravi has ruined his own life. What's even sadder is that he drove Tyler to end his life. But worse of all is that "godly Christians" are striving daily to denigrate and disseminate lies about LGBT people and maintain an atmosphere where conduct such as Ravi's is deemed utterly acceptable and where the tormenting of gays is morally acceptable.

Co-founder of Invisible Children Arrested for Public Masturbation - Group Has Hate Group Ties

I truly do not revel in the misfortune of others, but sometimes the hypocrisy of the far right is too much to let go without comment. A case in point is Jason Russell (at right), co-founder of the Invisible Children organization which seems to have troubling ties to anti-gay Christian fundamentalist groups. Invisible Children leaped to notoriety when its KONY 2012 video went viral. It's unfortunate that too often such organizations which sometimes do good works (even Pat Robertson's "Operation Blessing" does good things even if Robertson uses it as a propaganda front to counteract the hate and intolerance he markets) on close inspection have an ugly underbelly. In this case, Russell was detained today for masturbating, removing his underwear, and "acting very strange" in public, NBC San Diego reports the following:

A co-founder for Invisible Children was detained in Pacific Beach on Thursday for being drunk in public and masturbating, according to the San Diego Police Department.Jason Russell, 33, was allegedly found masturbating in public, vandalizing cars and possibly under the influence of something, according to the SDPD. He was detained at the intersection of Ingraham Street and Riviera Road.

Police described Russell as "in his underwear." He allegedly took off his underwear at one point, but it was back on by the time officers arrived, said police. Several people attempted to calm him down and when officers arrived police said he was cooperative.

Russell is one of the the founders responsible for the "Kony 2012" video that recently went viral. He is described on the organization's website as a co-founder and "our grand storyteller and dreamer." Russell is also described as a Christian and father to two children who wants to have nine more children with his wife he calls his "best friend for over 23 years."

The video "Kony 2012" calls for the capture of the Ugandan LRA leader whose fighting tactic involves kidnapping and torturing the country's innocent children.

The goal of the Kony 2012 video is a good one. It's unfortunate that it appears funding came from toxic sources. AlterNet looks at some of these funding sources which include registered hate groups (read the entire piece):

990 IRS tax forms and yearly reports from Invisible Children, and 990s from its major donors, tell a story that’s jarringly at odds with the secular, airbrushed, feelgood image the nonprofit has cultivated.

Among the tens of millions of people who have watched Invisible Children’s KONY 2012 viral video, including Oprah Winfrey – a dedicated supporter of LGBT rights who also has given $2 million dollars to Invisible Children, how many were aware of IC’s extensive financial ties to far-right fundamentalism, including major funders of the mounting global war on gay rights ? IC doesn’t go out of its way to advertise these things. . . . These links weren’t anomalies. They were part of a pattern.

Why does it matter, if Invisible Children was funded by controversial donors? Two reasons - one, we can assume those donors thought IC aligned with their agenda - which is antagonistic to LGBT rights.

Two, it fits an emerging pattern in which Invisible Children appears selectively concerned about crimes committed by Joseph Kony but indifferent to crimes, perhaps on a bigger scale, committed by their provisional partner, the government of Uganda - whose president shot his way into power using child soldiers, before Joseph Kony began using child soldiers. Like Kony, the government of Uganda was also indicted by the International Criminal Court in 2005, for human rights abuses and looting in the DRC Congo (PDF file of ICC ruling against Uganda). Like Kony, the Ugandan army preys upon civilians and is currently accused, by Western human rights groups, with raping and looting in the DRC Congo, where it is hunting for Kony. In the late 1990s, Uganda helped spark a conflict in DRC Congo that, by the middle of the next decade it is estimated, had killed up to 5.4 million civilians, more than any conflict since World War Two.

Friday, March 16, 2012

More Friday Male Beauty

Focus on the Family Wants a Special Rights for Christians Amendment in Colorado

Apparently, Daddy Dobson's always foul and hate filled Focus on the Family ("FOTF") has a short memory that omit the U. S. Supreme Court decision in Romer v. Evans which struck down a Colorado constitutional amendment which stripped the LGBT citizens of Colorado of non-discrimination protections> Why so? Because FOTF is now pushing a constitutional amendment in Colorado that would give religious groups free reign to discriminate against LGBT people. The proposed amendment is disingenuously called the "Religious Freedom Amendment”even though the amendment's real affect would be to allow Christianists to trample on the religious freedoms of others. It sounds precisely like something that would cause the bitter old men in dresses in the Catholic Church hierarchy to have near orgasms since it would quasi-legitimize the hierarchy's anti-gay jihad. Think Progress looks at this nasty amendment and the bigotry - and bigots - that is the moving force behind it. Here are highlights:

Focus on the Family and the Alliance Defense Fund are apparently organizing to again pursue a constitutional amendment in Colorado that would give religious groups free reign to discriminate . . .

The so-called “Religious Freedom Amendment” asserts that a “sincerely held religious belief” cannot be “burdened” by the government:

(1) The right to act or refuse to act in a manner motivated by a sincerely held religious belief may not be burdened unless the government proves it has a compelling governmental interest in infringing the specific act or refusal to act and has used the least restrictive means to further that interest.

(2) A burden includes indirect burdens such a [sic] as withholding of one or more benefits, assessing one or more penalties, exclusion from one of [sic] more government programs, and/or exclusion from one or more government facility [sic].

[T]he amendment not-so-subtly demands that religious groups have more power over citizens than the government by essentially giving them veto power over all policy decisions. This language could easily be construed such that the government would be permanently tethered to subsidizing religious groups, no matter how exclusive the policies of that group would be.

For example, after civil unions legislation passed in Illinois last year, the state decided to stop subsidizing Catholic Charities’ adoption services with taxpayer funding because the agencies refused to serve same-sex couples. Were this amendment to pass in Colorado, the state could never back out of such funding if organizations claimed their discrimination was based on a “sincerely held religious belief.”

Conservatives failed to place a similar amendment on the ballot in 2010. Ideally, this proposal will meet the same fate

Obama Belatedly Issues Statement Opposing North Carolina Amendment 1

Surprisingly, Barack Obama has finally issued a statement opposing the anti-gay Amendment 1 on the North Carolina ballot in early May. Like Virginia's heinous Marshall-Newman Amendment, Amendment 1 would not only bar same sex marriage but also bar any and all state law recognition of same sex relationships. Same sex couples no matter how many years together would be viewed under North Carolina law as complete and total strangers. As for same sex households with children, such children would be deprived of any legal basis to be recognized as children of their non-biological parent. Amendment 1 is not about "protecting marriage' but rather about denigrating and slandering same sex couples and their families. It's about anti-gay animus, first and last. It's about hate. And leading the charge in support of Amendment 1 are the ever hate filled Christianists and their lackeys within the Republican Party who make tawdry prostitutes look virtuous. Here are brief highlights from the News & Observer:

President Barack Obama today came out against the proposed constitutional amendment on North Carolina's May 8th ballot banning same sex marriages and civil unions, weighing into a fight in a key battleground state.

His campaign issued a statement saying the amendment was discriminatory:

“While the president does not weigh in on every single ballot measure in every state, the record is clear that the President has long opposed divisive and discriminatory efforts to deny rights and benefits to same sex couples,” said Cameron French, his North Carolina campaign spokesman.

“That’s what the North Carolina ballot initiative would do – it would single out and discriminate against committed gay and lesbian couples – and that’s why the President does not support it."

Needles to say the Bible beaters and Kool-Aid drinkers will be none too pleased with Obama. Not that they'd vote for him in November in any case.”

The Republican Party's Fatal Attraction To Rural [and Reality Denying] America

I many times express my confusion as to why the Republican party continues to focus on diminishing demographic groups in the larger voting public. Here in Virginia, the GOP base is increasingly the rural socially, culturally and educationally backwards areas of the state. The only excepts are cities like Virginia Beach with high numbers of military personnel and/or wealthy voters who care nothing about the nation so long as they get to hoard their wealth and pay low taxes. But Virginia is not unique in the GOP grand scheme of things. Forbes has an article that looks at the GOP's focus on the rural shrinking populations as opposed to the growing urban populations which increasingly reject the GOP message of intolerance and division. Here are some highlights:

Rick Santorum’s big wins in Alabama and Mississippi places the Republican Party in ever greater danger of becoming hostage to what has become its predominate geographic base: rural and small town America.

If America was an exclusively urban or metropolitan country, Mitt Romney would be already ensconced as the GOP nominee and perhaps on his way towards a real shot at the White House. In virtually every major urban region — which means predominately suburbs — Romney has generally won easily.

Outside the Mormon belt from Arizona to Wyoming, however, sophisticated Mitt has been a consistent loser in the countryside. This divergence between rural and suburban/metro America, poses a fundamental challenge to the modern Republican Party. Rural America constitutes barely 16 percent of the country, down from 72 percent a century ago, but still constitutes the party’s most reliable geographic base. It resembles the small-town America of the 19th century, particularly in the South and West, that propelled Democratic Party of Nebraska’s William Jennings Bryan to three presidential nominations.

Yet like Bryan, who also lost all three times, what makes Santorum so appealing in the hinterlands may prove disastrous in the metropolitan regions which now dominate the country. Much of this is not so much particular positions beyond abortion, gay rights, women’s issues, now de rigueur in the GOP, but a kind of generalized sanctimoniousness that does not play well with the national electorate.

We can see this in the extraordinary difference in the religiosity between more rural states, particularly in the South, and the rest of country. Roughly half of all Protestants in Mississippi, Alabama and Oklahoma, according to the Pew Center on Religion and Public Life, are evangelicals . . . . In contrast, evangelicals make up a quarter or less of Protestants nationally and less still in key upcoming primary states such as Pennsylvania, New York, California and Connecticut, where the percentages average closer to 10 percent.

All the nation’s strongest tech clusters — Silicon Valley, Route 128, Austin, north Dallas, Redmond/Bellevue in Washington, Raleigh-Durham — are primarily suburban in form. High tech tends to nurture a consciousness among conservatives more libertarian than socially conservative and populist.

The political pace in rural America today still is being set by an aging, overwhelmingly white and modestly educated demographic.

Until the Republican nomination fight is settled, the party’s pandering to the sensibilities of such conservatives in rural areas could prove fatal to its long-term prospects. A Santorum nomination almost guarantees a replay of the Bryan phenomena; no matter how many times he runs, he will prove unlikely to win, even against a vulnerable opponent. Even in losing, his preachy, divisive tone — on contraception, prayer, the separation of church and state — has opened a gap among suburban voters that Obama will no doubt exploit.

The battle will then shift to the suburbs, including those urban areas, common in the vast cities of the South and West, that are predominately suburban in form.

Personally, I hope the GOP continues its misguided focus on the rural, backwards and in relative terms, ignorant areas of the country and that the result is an electoral defeat. A defeat that will hopefully also expose the long term suicide that pandering to the Christianists represents. The Christianists need to be exiled to the political wilderness.

Self-Flattering Rick Santorun in Puerto Rico

WARNING: The image below is rather graphic and disgusting.

One thing that often strikes me as bizarre is the fact that some of the most outspoken anti-gay homophobes act as if gays are hot to come on to them. The real world reality is, of course, far different: few, if any, self-respecting gays with even a tiny modicum of aesthetic taste would find these hate merchants physically attractive.

Based on a photo that Joe Jervis credits to gay tourists in Puerto Rico, we can add Rick Santorum to the list of gay bashers who suffer from delusion and flatter themselves if they believe any gay male would find them attractive. What I find even more ironic is that while campaigning, rather than losing weight, Santorum seems to be ballooning. Have you barf bag handy:

Santorum's wife has my sympathy. Based on this photo, it's a wonder she hasn't been crushed to death while conceiving all of those children.

P.S. Santorum has admitted the photo is real.

Friday Morning Male Beauty

Click image to enlarge.

More Hate Merchant Shrieking Over Being Held Accountable

I noted yesterday how GLAAD has launched an initiative to educate the mainstream media about the lies, faux experts and anti-gay animus of Christianist "pundits" who are all too often allowed to spill anti-gay bigotry across the airwaves without being challenged. The reaction across Christianist universe over the prospect of being held accountable and exposed as dishonest, deliberate liars has been sharp with gallons of flying spittle and verbal diarrhea that only serves to confirm why these individuals - and the hate group organizations many represent - are bigots and unworthy of being given any kind of media platform. Another example of this anti-gay animus comes from American Family Association talk show host Kevin McCullough. Right Wing Watch has details which are highlighted below:

After calling GLAAD a tool of the Devil, talk show host Kevin McCullough defended previous statements, listed by GLAAD’s Commentator Accountability Project, that gay couples “despise” marriage and are “seeking to destroy” it. McCullough said that they are indeed trying to “destroy” marriage, but took issue with GLAAD’s use of the term “gay,” because according to McCullough, “I don’t believe that you can be gay.” He said that being gay is a choice and warned that “homosexual behaviors can end up killing you” because “homosexual behaviors when acted upon in the teenage years greatly increases the likelihood if you’re male that you will try to commit suicide.” McCullough is correct in arguing that gay youth do have a higher risk of suicide, but seems to ignore the fact that anti-gay prejudice and bias in society plays a large role in why there is the higher suicide rate.

MCCULLOUGH: . . . They don’t like the fact that men and women complete one another. They don’t like the fact that that union is so perfect that it sometimes brings children out of it, they don’t like the fact that that is the ability of what a natural marriage relationship brings. So I said they “despise,” they do, “they don’t like normal marriage and they’re seeking to destroy it,” yeah, “by redefining it,” that’s what they are seeking to do, they are seeking to undo what it’s always been. Yeah, I said that, I still believe it. It’s still true.

I don’t believe that you can be gay. I believe that people engage in homosexual behavior, and I believe that homosexual behaviors can end up killing you, and I think that homosexual behaviors when acted upon in the teenage years greatly increases the likelihood if you’re male that you will try to commit suicide. But that’s what the data says, that’s not what the Kevin McCullough says, that’s what the studies show, that’s what the secular humanist studies indicate about homosexual behavior. . . . I don’t believe that people are gay, I think they behave in homosexual ways but I don’t buy that ‘gay’ is a state of being, I think it’s a series of choices.

As noted many times before, it is crucial to the Christianist agenda that sexual orientation be a "choice" because otherwise there opposition to legal rights hits a brick wall and is exposed as nothing but religious based hate and extremism. Hence why "ex-gay" ministries continue to be a top propaganda priority.

Catholics: Contraception Mandate Not A Threat To Religious Freedom

The Catholic Church hierarchy's continued disingenuous whining about contraception coverage in health car plans underscores the growing disconnect between the hierarchy and the lay members of the Church. The bishops oppose all sex of any kind - other than that between priests and non-consenting minors - especially if there is any enjoyment involved whatsoever. Apparently, since the hierarchy is in theory obligated to remain celibate, they want everyone else to be equally miserable. But this disconnect between what everyday Catholics and the Church leadership hasn't stopped religious extremist in the Republican Party such as Rick "Frothy Mix" Santorum and thrice married, serial adulterer Newt Gingrich from continuing to rail against the Obama administration using the false claim that "religious liberty" is under attack. A piece in the Huffington Post looks at this disconnect that may well help to be the GOP's undoing. Here are highlights:

A vocal contingent of Republican presidential candidates and church leaders are railing against the Obama administration's "war on religion," but most Americans can't seem to find the fight.

A majority (56 percent) of Americans say religious liberty is not threatened in the U.S., according to a new poll released Thursday (March 15) by the Public Religion Research Institute, which conducted the survey in partnership with Religion News Service.

Even though Catholic bishops are leading the charge that the new White House mandate requiring insurance plans to cover birth control for employees is a threat to religious liberty, Catholics reject -- by a 57 to 38 percent margin -- the idea that religious liberty is under siege.

What's more, nearly two-thirds of Catholics support the contraception requirements for publicly held corporations (65 percent), compared to 62 percent of all Americans. A strong 60 percent of Catholics say religiously affiliated colleges should have to comply, compared to 54 percent of Americans in general.

When those who perceive a threat were asked how religious liberty was being threatened, only 6 percent mentioned the new contraception mandate specifically -- a number Cox found startlingly low given how often the issue has headlined the news in recent weeks.

Who is worried about religious liberty in America? White evangelical Protestants, the only major religious group in which a majority (61 percent) believes religious liberty is in trouble, according to the study.

The poll also confirmed upward trends in attitudes toward gay Americans. . . .

Last year, surveys detected for the first time that a majority of Americans support legalizing same-sex marriage. This latest poll again pins that number above 50 percent, as well as support for gay couples adopting children.

Among the findings:

  • Of the 52 percent who favor gay marriage, 22 percent strongly favor and 30 percent favor it.

  • Of the 44 percent who oppose gay marriage, 19 percent oppose it and 25 percent strongly oppose it.

  • Most Americans (54 percent) believe gay and lesbian couples should be allowed to adopt children, while 40 percent are opposed.

The poll also found that a slight majority of Americans (52 percent) believe birth control should be generally available to teenagers 16 or older without parental approval; 46 percent disagree.

The findings make it pretty clear that the only ones who see "religious freedom" under attack are those who are having increased difficulty forcing their religious beliefs on other members of society. The Christianists and Catholic bishops always want the special right to trample of the religious freedoms of other Americans. They, in fact, accuse others of what they themselves are seeking to do.

The GOP Continues Its War Against Women

One would think that protecting women against violence would be something any rational individual or politician could support. Thus the re-authorization of the federal Violence Against Women Act ought to be a no-brainer. But that conclusion assumes that politicians and the base of political parties are at least somewhat rational. That assumption no longer applies to the Republican Party which seems to want to return all women to a barefoot, pregnant and chattel status as is the goal of far right Christianists who have a view of women not much more modern that that of Islamic extremists. Events in the U. S. Senate underscore the GOP's animosity towards women - and I would argue all minorities as well - who are viewed as subservient to white males. Here are some highlights from the Washington Post:

Senate Democrats fired the latest political shot in what they’re calling the Republican “war against women” Thursday, pushing to renew and expand a law that fights violence against women and pays to help victims. They dared GOP senators to vote against it.

“Protecting women against violence shouldn’t be a partisan issue,” Sen. Patty Murray, chairwoman of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, said from the Senate floor, where a group of female senators spoke in favor of the legislation.

While grappling for a way to rebut the “war on women” narrative, Republicans said the legislation at issue would add objectionable measures to violence against women law.

Two weeks ago, Republicans narrowly lost a Senate vote on trying to reverse President Barack Obama’s directive that health insurers pay for the cost of birth control pills or devices even if they object on moral or religious grounds.

The act, which would add government funding and legal muscle to the fight against domestic violence, has been reauthorized several times and this year has 58 co-sponsors — two senators short of the 60 needed to overcome a filibuster. The co-sponsors include five Republicans: Sens. Scott Brown of Massachusetts, Susan Collins of Maine, Mike Crapo of Idaho, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Olympia Snowe of Maine. Also signed onto the bill is Republican Sen. Mark Kirk of Illinois, who is on leave recovering from a stroke.

This year’s update has run into opposition from Republicans who object to new provisions, such as one that includes gay and transgender victims in the protections. Republicans also object to a provision regarding visas for immigrant victims.

Note how anything that might protect LGBT individuals is anathema to today's Republican Party. I have no sympathy for the GOP which has transformed into something ugly under the control of the Christianist/Tea Party rabble. Let folks like McConnell twist on the rope that they helped to put in place.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

More Thursday Male Beauty

GLAAD Targets Lying Christianist "Pundits" Used By Media

I have vented a number of times about my frustration with main stream media outlets that regularly provide a platform for anti-gay bigots without ever challenging the untruthfulness of the statements these people make or addressing their backgrounds - e.g., Tony Perkins of the hate group Family Research Council who has ties to white supremacist groups. Time and time again these hate merchants come on even progressive news outlets and are allowed to spew lies and untruths. Now, thankfully, GLAAD has launched a "Commentator Accountability Project" which aims to inform media outlets as to the dishonesty, anti-gay animus, and general toxicity of these "commentators" and "pundits." Here's how GLAAD describes the project:

The GLAAD Commentator Accountability Project (CAP) aims to put critical information about frequent anti-gay interviewees into the hands of newsrooms, editors, hosts and reporters. Journalists or producers who are on deadline often don't have the time to dig into the histories of a commentator. Audiences need to be aware that when they’re not talking to the mainstream media, these voices are comparing LGBT people to Nazi Germany, predicting that equal treatment of LGBT people will lead to the total collapse of society, and even making accusations of satanic influence.

The Commentator Accountability Project is bringing all of these statements to light, while calling attention to the sentiments behind them. We will show that the commentators who are most often asked to opine on issues like marriage equality or non-discrimination protections do not accurately represent the "other side" of those issues. They represent nothing but extreme animus towards the entire LGBT community.

GLAAD also is asking people to contact them when they see an anti-gay bigot given an unchallenged platform to spew anti-gay hate and lies. These anti-gay "pundits" can be recorded here. Here's a rogue's gallery of the hate merchants GLAAD is targeting:

Not surprisingly, some of the Professional Christians/hate merchants are none too happy that their lies and thinly veiled hate - which is often aimed at shaking down the ignorant and gullible for money - are going to be exposed. An example of the whining and conniptions racking the professional Christian/homophobe set comes from Focus on the Family, a/k/a Focus on the Anus as per Pam Spaulding:

The Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) announced today its new “Commentator Accountability Project,” which seeks to “educate” journalists about spokespeople from organizations that hold a biblical view of sexuality.

In an interview with Politico blogger Dylan Byers, GLAAD Communications Director Rich Ferraro said the 36 people networks need to be “educated” about — including Focus on the Family President Jim Daly, family formation studies director Glenn Stanton and education analyst Candi Cushman — “aren’t experts” but people who “represent nothing but extreme animus towards the entire LGBT community.”

Schneeberger added that GLAAD’s campaign was “rather chilling.” This is an attempt to stifle freedom of speech and freedom of religion by trying to intimidate the media into forfeiting their constitutional right to freedom of the press,” he explained. They’re seeking to saw three of the five legs of freedom off the stool that holds up the First Amendment.”

The list of flagged spokespeople also includes Exodus International President Alan Chambers, Catholic League President Bill Donohue, THE FAMiLY LEADER President Bob Vander Plaats, the National Organization for Marriage’s Brian Brown and Maggie Gallagher, Prison Fellowship Ministries Founder Chuck Colson, Wallbuilders Founder David Barton, former presidential candidate Gary Bauer, Bishop Harry Jackson, marriage expert Jennifer Roback Morse, pastors Jim Garlow and Lou Engle, radio personality Kevin McCullough, and Princeton University Prof. Robert George.

Having followed many on the list of faux experts for many years, the safest assumption to use with them is that if their lips are moving, then they are probably lying. Freedom of speech and freedom of religion are one thing. Deliberately disseminating know lies and falsehoods to harm others is something very different. These individuals, in my opinion, are horrible people and their dishonesty needs to be exposed and media outlets who give them a platform need to be held accountable.

P.S. Kudos to my blogger friend Jeremy Hooper of Good As You who assisted on the GLAAD project.

Support the Hampton Roads LGBT Center Against Arbitrary Harassment by City of Norfolk

NOTE: the views expressed in this post are mine alone and should not be attributed to any other organization or individuals. As to why I believe churches should be checked for compliance, (i) the ordinance quoted below provides them with no exemption and (ii) I have a strong suspicion that it was some of the "godly folk" who want gays and the LGBT Center to disappear who complained to the City of Norfolk.

The City of Norfolk, Virginia is requiring that the Hampton Roads LGBT secure a "Special Exception" permit under Chapter 25 of the Norfolk Zoning Ordinance because the so-called "Bar Task Force" and city bureaucrats have determined that the center is an "Entertainment Establishment." For those who have not seen the "Bar Task Force" at work, they swoop down on establishments like Nazi storm troopers and presume anyone and everyone to be guilty until proven otherwise. Here's how Section 2-3 of the Norfolk Zoning Ordinance defines an "entertainment" and "entertainment establishment":

Entertainment. "Entertainment" means live performances and includes, but is not limited to, music performances involving amplified music or more than one instrument, a disc jockey, any form of dancing, comedians, and stage performances.

Entertainment establishment. An establishment where entertainment is provided or having a dance floor. Alcoholic beverages may be provided to patrons of the establishment unless specifically prohibited by the terms of a special exception or other applicable provision of law. For the purposes of zoning, "entertainment establishment" shall not include commercial recreation restaurants or commercial indoor recreation centers.

As readers who saw my post yesterday will recall, the LGBT Center provides individual and family counseling, community meeting space, resource center, adult and youth services, social and educational events, and free HIV testing. In addition, it provides meeting space for community groups who - gasp, the horror - might have music from a boom box or allow teens and LGBT youth to have some dancing. And some groups with adult members like HRBOR might have alcohol at the functions. These events are few and far between in terms of the LGBT Center's day to day operations yet the LGBT Center - unlike countless religious facilities, including one that recent hosted a large fundraiser that included dancing and a live band - is being forced to secure a special exception which will feature public hearings that provide a forum for anti-LGBT hate merchants.

I'm sorry, but in my opinion, this is nothing less than harassment aimed at the LGBT community. The LGBT Center is no more an "entertainment establishment" than churches, synagogues and other religious facilities that hold wedding and other receptions, church dinners with music and/or dancing and other events that involve any dancing and/or amplified music.

I hope local readers will join me and come out to the support the LGBT Center on March 22, 2012 at Norfolk City Hall in downtown Norfolk at 2:30 PM. Your presence is important. For those who cannot attend, please send your messages of support to the Norfolk City Counsel at:

The second thing that I ask local readers to do is this: send me the names of every Norfolk church, synagogues and religious facilities that occasionally hold receptions, church dinners and other events that involve any dancing and/or amplified music. Catholic Churches in particular likely fall in this category. Under the City of Norfolk interpretation these organizations also need to secure special exception permits. The City does not get to selectively apply this zoning ordinance requirement to the LGBT Center while giving other a free pass to other facilities doing the same types of social functions. Please e-mail the names of these churches, synagogues and like organizations so that proper complaints can be filed against them.

What's good for the LGBT Center is good for these organizations as well. We need to create a firestorm for Norfolk City Council - especially since elections are on May 1, 2012.

Thursday Morning Male Beauty

Catholic Bishops Seek to Keep Contraception Debate Alive to Likely Detriment of GOP

In what ultimately cannot be good news for Republicans like Bob "Taliban Bob" McDonnell and Rick "Frothy Mix" Santorum, the Catholic bishops are determined to keep the political debate alive over contraception under a bogus argument about "religious liberty" even though the real story line is about forcing the Church hierarchy's views on everyone. The bishops apparently are too busy protecting child rapists and have missed the news that a huge majority of voters - including the vast majority of Catholics - don't buy the bishops disingenuous posturing. I welcome the bishops' intransigence because it will continue to roil voters, especially women and drive them away from the GOP. Here in Virginia Governor Ultrasound and members of the Virginia GOP are taking a beating as noted by Blue Virginia:

For the past 24 hours or so, Virginia Republicans -- e.g., self-annointed women's health experts (particularly when it comes to "trans-vaginal" types of concerns) Sen. Ryan McDougle and Sen. Jeff McWaters -- have been deleting comments off their Facebook walls like mad (hundreds in the case of McDougle). Unfortunately for them, sometimes they're not fast enough . . .

It appears, in other words, that Virginia Republicans have knocked over a hornet's nest with their state-mandated ultrasound garbage, and are now being chased around (in social media, also on the steps of the Virginia Capitol in Richmond) by (justifiably) outraged "hive members." I'd almost feel sorry for them, if a) it weren't such a serious assault on women's rights; and b) if they hadn't brought it on themselves 100%.

Thus, contraception is not an issue that's going to be helpful to the GOP. But the Catholic bishops are not going to relent in their quest to take women back to the Middle Ages. Here are highlights from the Washington Post on the bitter old men in dresses' agenda:

Top U.S. Catholic bishops on Wednesday formally made their fight against a White House mandate for reproductive services the church’s top priority, saying “this struggle for religious freedom” demands their immediate attention.

The statement, issued by the leadership of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, came at the end of a closed, two-day meeting and as some close to the bishops say the men are concerned that their campaign is faltering in the public square.

The statement represents an expanded public relations effort to oppose the mandate that most religious employers provide health-care coverage for employees, including contraception and sterilization, services forbidden by Catholic teaching.

A spokeswoman for the bishops said they had been trying to frame the religious freedom campaign broadly since last fall, but were forced by news events to focus on the health-care mandate and contraception.

[T]he bishops will launch their public religious freedom campaigns in the media, in efforts with lawmakers and in parishes with priests sermonizing. “It’s a full-court press,” she said.

It goes without saying that in the bizarre world of the bishops equal civil rights for LGBT Americans is also a threat to "religious liberty." Like the Christianists, the bishops want a free hand to force their Medieval views on all Americans.

The GOP Nomination Nightmare Senario

I left the Republican Party years ago - as did many others - because the party abandoned its long held principles concerning the separation of church and state. When I exited the GOP the party, especially in Virginia, was becoming a de facto party of Christianist extremists. Yes, some "small government" folks remained in the party with their heads stuck deeply in the sand. And then, of course there remained the greed driven types who want nothing more than tax breaks for the rich and who are willing to climb in bed with the Christofascists if that accomplishes their self-enriching goal. But increasingly, the insanity of the religious extremists is sweeping control from the hands of the so-called GOP establishment. Exhibit A to this reality is the rise of Rick Santorum - a man who lost his U.S. Senate seat in a landslide because of his extremism. A column in the Washington Post looks at the possible nomination nightmare scenario for the GOP establishment which can only warm the hearts of Democrats and sane, thinking Americans who recognize the threat embodied in the Christianist agenda. Here are highlights:

Mitt Romney is still in control of the nomination, and you can still ignore talk of the still-implausible contested convention. But yesterday’s victories by Rick Santorum have made another, different GOP nightmare scenario that isn’t getting any attention far more likely. Call it the Winning Ugliest outcome.

What could happen is this: Romney could end up winning the delegate count, securing the nomination. But at the same time, Santorum could rack up enough wins — and end up leading in national polls — leaving a huge chunk of Republicans thinking he’s the rightful winner. This could possibly create a GOP nomination split that’s hard to heal heading into the general election.

Santorum may also soon open up a national polling lead, particularly with big headlines now calling Santorum a winner.

Of course, it’s possible that Romney will wind up winning the headlines in the next several weeks, just as he won Ohio and Michigan. The most likely outcome is still an eventual stampede for Romney in April or May. But this other, Winning Ugliest, scenario still exists; right now, it’s more likely than ever; and if it happens, it would make the Obama campaign very happy.
The party leadership sold out its soul and principle for short term political gain and it is now paying a price. Personally, I hope the price turns out to be an extremely high one.

Roman Catholic Bishops Extend Anti-Gay Jihad to North Carolina

Increasingly, the number one opponent to LGBT equality - indeed, to treatment of LGBT individuals as even fully human - is the Catholic Church hierarchy. Yep, those same men who are best known for aiding and abetting child rapists and seeking to regulate women's bodies. Now these men (many of whom, in my honest opinion, ought to rightly be behind bars as accessories to crimes against children) are taking their anti-gay rights campaign to North Carolina. My blogger friend Pam Spaulding looks at this development and rightly calls out the moral bankruptcy of these bitter, nasty, hubris filled men who I increasingly see as nothing less than a force for evil in the world. When will the Catholic laity wake up and stop funding these bastards? Likewise, when are legislators going to cease kissing the asses of these foul men? Here are highlights from Pam's post:

Bishops Peter Jugis of the Diocese of Charlotte and Michael Burbidge of the Diocese of Raleigh have continued to sell out principle, trying to confuse people that this is a vote about marriage equality — and thus the apparent end of civilization — but they really do love the gays. This is pure homophobia that continues to conflate church and state matters.

What”divinely revealed” moral standing does the Church have these days given its pedophile priest protection problem? The church should make better use of its resources on that front. But that doesn’t stop Bishops Peter Jugis and Michael Burbidge.

And the fact is that this amendment has nothing to do with procreation or religious marriage, but these are the only pitiful tricks in their bag of bigotry that they are selling. Pope Benedict sees marriage equality as a threat to the “future of humanity itself,” yet North Carolina isn’t even considering marriage equality, this is about stopping an amendment that prevents any legal recognition (civil unions or domestic partnerships) at all for same-sex couples at any point in the future.

Did I mention that Marriage Unique for a Reason is a project of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishop’s (USCCB)? Guess who heads that up — homophobe extraordinaire Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York.

I see this intervention by the Catholic Church as a sign that the professional anti-LGBT crowd is worried we might defeat this ballot initiative.

As Pam has noted in a prior post, the North Carolina Libertarian Party has come out in opposition to Amendment 1. Pam also notes the real motivation of the bishops and professional Christian set:

[T]he primary reason for this ballot initiative on May 8 – it is specifically designed to demonize and hurt taxpaying, voting LGBT North Carolinians.

As for the bishops, what needs to be done is what has occurred in several dioceses in Europe: police officials need to start swooping into bishoprics with warrants and seizing diocese files on sexual predators and then issue indictments against bishops and cardinals who have obstructed justice and allowed crimes against children. These evil men need to be thoroughly discredited and revealed for what they really are.