Saturday, April 28, 2012

More Saturday Male Beauty

How Robert Spitzer’s Apology Can Impact The Proposition 8 Case and DOMA Litigation

As a long time opponent of the disingenuous "ex-gay" myth (after having tried to "pray away the gay" for 37 years with no success other than making myself and other miserable), I am thrilled that Robert Spitzer has recanted his 2001 finding that perhaps a small number (1 to 2%) of gays who participated in reparative therapy might be able to "change."  I am thrilled with the recantation not only because it undermines the last shred of legitimacy that "ex-gay" proponents had to hang their snake oil on.  More importantly, if there is absolutely no legitimate expert evidence that sexual orientation is changeable, the legal implications for anti-discrimination laws are huge.  Likewise, if gays cannot be straight, other than religious based bigotry, there really is no reason to ban same sex marriage.  Think Progress looks at this possible legal impact in the context of Proposition 8.  Here are highlights:

In 2001, Robert Spitzer — a prominent psychiatrist who led the charge to declassify homosexuality as a mental condition — released a controversial study showing that some gay people could change their sexual orientations and become straight. Spitzer’s findings bolstered the ex-gay movement and helped advocates find acceptance in the heart of conservative anti-gay politics. But earlier this month, the 80-year-old scientist dealt a devastating blow to his loudest proponents. In an interview with The American Prospect, Spitzer retracted his own ex-gay study, noting that “The findings can be considered evidence for what those who have undergone ex-gay therapy say about it, but nothing more.”

Rachel Maddow examined the consequences of Spitzer’s denunciation of his own reparative therapy study on the Proposition 8 case, which relied on its conclusions to argue that gay people are not entitled to marry someone of the same gender because sexual orientation is a mutable characteristic. NYU constitutional professor Kenji Yoshino explained the significance:
YOSHINO: I think it`s a big deal. So, first of all, the reason immutability is important is because under the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment, there’s a standard called heightened scrutiny. And there are certain classifications like race, national origin, sex, nonmarital parentage, lineage (ph) that get that scrutiny. The $64,000 question of this case is whether or not sexual orientation is going to be added to that list. And one of the criteria that`s been looked at to determine whether or not a group gets heightened scrutiny is immutability, as you mentioned. So, the fact that Spitzer retracting this and the fact that the testimony in the Prop 8 trial was overwhelming for the fact that sexual orientation is very hard to change could figure into that analysis.
Yoshino also suggested that Spitzer’s apology could impact Defense of Marriage (DOMA) litigation, which relies on a similar gays-can-change claim.

The Republicans Are The Problem.

I'm sure some regular readers will be near foaming at the mouth over the title of this post and some of what I'm about to say, but just because the truth hurts doesn't make it any less the truth.  And the truth is that the GOP has turned into something foul, extreme and a danger to the country.  And fueling this decline of the GOP are the ignorance embracing hate filled Christianist and their allies in the Tea Party (in fact, the two factions typically overlap each other).  Coming from a family that once was almost all Republican going back for at least 60 years, what has happened to the GOP is not only disturbing, but also an indictment of the party leaders who first made a pact with the devil - i.e., the Christian Right - and in the process jettisoned all logic, reason and, I would argue, integrity and decency.  Nowadays, the more someone talks about their religion and feigned piety, generally, the more morally reprehensible they are in my view.  They hate the poor, they hate minorities, they hate immigrants, and, of course, they hate gays.  The better question is couched in terms of who don't they hate.  Yet the party leadership continues to prostitute themselves to these nasty, ignorance worshiping people.  A lengthy piece in the Washington Post aptly looks at why the GOP is now responsible for the gridlock in Washington and much else that is wrong in America.  Here are excerpts:

Rep. Allen West, a Florida Republican, was recently captured on video asserting that there are “78 to 81” Democrats in Congress who are members of the Communist Party. Of course, it’s not unusual for some renegade lawmaker from either side of the aisle to say something outrageous. What made West’s comment — right out of the McCarthyite playbook of the 1950s — so striking was the almost complete lack of condemnation from Republican congressional leaders or other major party figures, including the remaining presidential candidates.
We have been studying Washington politics and Congress for more than 40 years, and never have we seen them this dysfunctional. In our past writings, we have criticized both parties when we believed it was warranted. Today, however, we have no choice but to acknowledge that the core of the problem lies with the Republican Party.

The GOP has become an insurgent outlier in American politics. It is ideologically extreme; scornful of compromise; unmoved by conventional understanding of facts, evidence and science; and dismissive of the legitimacy of its political opposition.   When one party moves this far from the mainstream, it makes it nearly impossible for the political system to deal constructively with the country’s challenges.

 It is clear that the center of gravity in the Republican Party has shifted sharply to the right. Its once-legendary moderate and center-right legislators in the House and the Senate — think Bob Michel, Mickey Edwards, John Danforth, Chuck Hagel — are virtually extinct.

What happened? Of course, there were larger forces at work beyond the realignment of the South. They included the mobilization of social conservatives after the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision, the anti-tax movement launched in 1978 by California’s Proposition 13, the rise of conservative talk radio after a congressional pay raise in 1989, and the emergence of Fox News and right-wing blogs. But the real move to the bedrock right starts with two names: Newt Gingrich and Grover Norquist.

[T]he forces Gingrich unleashed destroyed whatever comity existed across party lines, activated an extreme and virulently anti-Washington base — most recently represented by tea party activists — and helped drive moderate Republicans out of Congress.

Norquist, meanwhile, founded Americans for Tax Reform in 1985 and rolled out his Taxpayer Protection Pledge the following year. The pledge, which binds its signers to never support a tax increase (that includes closing tax loopholes), had been signed as of last year by 238 of the 242 House Republicans and 41 of the 47 GOP senators,  .  .  . 

Today, thanks to the GOP, compromise has gone out the window in Washington.  .   .  .  The filibuster, once relegated to a handful of major national issues in a given Congress, became a routine weapon of obstruction, applied even to widely supported bills or presidential nominations. And Republicans in the Senate have abused the confirmation process to block any and every nominee to posts such as the head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, solely to keep laws that were legitimately enacted from being implemented.

 In the face of the deepest economic downturn since the Great Depression, the party’s leaders and their outside acolytes insisted on obeisance to a supply-side view of economic growth — thus fulfilling Norquist’s pledge — while ignoring contrary considerations.   The results can border on the absurd: In early 2009, several of the eight Republican co-sponsors of a bipartisan health-care reform plan dropped their support; by early 2010, the others had turned on their own proposal

Democrats are hardly blameless, and they have their own extreme wing and their own predilection for hardball politics. But these tendencies do not routinely veer outside the normal bounds of robust politics. If anything, under the presidencies of Clinton and Obama, the Democrats have become more of a status-quo party. They are centrist protectors of government,  .  .  . 

The GOP’s evolution has become too much for some longtime Republicans. Former senator Chuck Hagel of Nebraska called his party “irresponsible” in an interview with the Financial Times in August, at the height of the debt-ceiling battle.

And Mike Lofgren, a veteran Republican congressional staffer, wrote an anguished diatribe last year about why he was ending his career on the Hill after nearly three decades. “The Republican Party is becoming less and less like a traditional political party in a representative democracy and becoming more like an apocalyptic cult, or one of the intensely ideological authoritarian parties of 20th century Europe,” he wrote on the Truthout Web site.

Republicans are now more conservative than they have been in more than a century. Their data show a dramatic uptick in polarization, mostly caused by the sharp rightward move of the GOP.  If our democracy is to regain its health and vitality, the culture and ideological center of the Republican Party must change.

We understand the values of mainstream journalists, including the effort to report both sides of a story. But a balanced treatment of an unbalanced phenomenon distorts reality.  .  .  .  Our advice to the press: Don’t seek professional safety through the even-handed, unfiltered presentation of opposing views. Which politician is telling the truth? Who is taking hostages, at what risks and to what ends?   Also, stop lending legitimacy to Senate filibusters by treating a 60-vote hurdle as routine. The framers certainly didn’t intend it to be.

If they can punish ideological extremism at the polls and look skeptically upon candidates who profess to reject all dialogue and bargaining with opponents, then an insurgent outlier party will have some impetus to return to the center. Otherwise, our politics will get worse before it gets better. 

Utah: Another Gay Teen’s Suicide

As the Roman Catholic bishops, senior members of the Mormon Church and the leaders of the Southern Baptist Convention continue their anti-gay jihad (in the UK the Vatican emissary from Rome has even gone so far as to seeking to have Muslims and Jews join in a coordinated anti-gay agenda) the death toll continues to mount. The latest victim of record - although I suspect that there are many more - is 17 year old Jack Reese of Mountain Green, Utah.   These needless deaths literally sicken me.  Especially because they are so needless and because they would cease if religious based hate and bigotry ceased.  ALL legitimate medical and mental health associations find that being gay is NOT a choice any more than breathing.  And with Robert Spitzer's recent recanting of his 2001 opinion that perhaps 1% or 2 % of gays might be able to change their sexual orientation, it's far past time that science and knowledge override what my blogger friend Bob Felton often describes as the non-fact based myths of myths of ignorant nomadic goat herders from 2000+ years ago.  The Bible - particularly the Old Testament - is no more inerrant that I'm the man in the moon.  Yet the senseless and needless deaths continue because small minded people who need to feel good about themselves by denigrating others cling to the ignorance embracing blather of pastors and priests.  LGBT Nation looks at this sad situation of Jack Reese.  Here are highlights:

On Monday, April 23, 18-year-old Alex Smith spoke on a community panel at a screening of a film on bullying, telling the packed room about the bullying his boyfriend, Jack, experienced at school. What no one in the room yet knew, including Alex, was that Jack had already taken his own life.

The death of Jack Reese, 17, of Mountain Green, on Sunday is the latest known suicide of a gay teen in Northern Utah.  According to one official, off the record: “It happens here about once a week,” but then quickly adds, “but officially, you know, it doesn’t happen here.”

Now, OUTreach, an Ogden-based LGBT resource center, is hosting a community panel and discussion, “A Community Stands up – Northern Utah Addresses LGBT Bullying and Suicide” on May 1 at the Ogden Amphitheater in Ogden.  The purpose of the event, according to Marian Edmonds, OUTreach Executive Director, “is for the community to stand in solidarity with queer youth, to speak out and express grief and outrage at yet another loss of life in Northern Utah, and to witness for the need for immediate change in schools, churches and society.”

“The youth I work with all know either a victim of bullying, the loss of a friend to suicide, and most often, both. These youth are bright, creative and loving, yet too often face daily abuse from rejecting families, bullies at school and the loss of their church family.” said Edmonds.   “It is time for local schools to incorporate proven techniques for eliminating bullying and homophobia, for churches to preach love and acceptance, and for parents and families to love and accept their children. Each loss of life is a loss for all of us, and it must stop now,” she said.

Funeral services for Jack were held Friday morning in Ogden.

Yes, I am very angry and candidly, I find it very difficult not to feel hatred towards supposed Christians - both those who actively condemn LGBT individuals and those who may be gay accepting yet refuse to opennly and loudly confront and condemn the mater merchants who in my view have mad the term Christian into something abominable.

Saturday Morning Male Beauty

Homophobic? Maybe You’re Gay

I've noted several times the new study that concluded that many of the most vocal homophobes are actually struggling against their own conscious or unconscious attraction to members of the same sex.  Much of the struggle derives from religious brainwashing and rigid, anti-gay family upbringings which make the idea of one being gay simply too horrible to contemplate.  To me, the study findings underscore the psychologically damaged and emotionally disturbed nature of most homophobes.  Now, one of the authors of the study, Richard M. Ryan, a professor of psychology, psychiatry and education at the University of Rochester, has an op-ed in the New York Times that further elaborates on the findings of the study which seems to describe individuals like Tony Perkins, Peter LaBarbera, Greg Quinlain, Robert Knight and a host of other professional Christians/"ex-gay" proponents to the last detail.  Here are some highlights:

WHY are political and religious figures who campaign against gay rights so often implicated in sexual encounters with same-sex partners?

One theory is that homosexual urges, when repressed out of shame or fear, can be expressed as homophobia. Freud famously called this process a “reaction formation” — the angry battle against the outward symbol of feelings that are inwardly being stifled. Even Mr. Haggard seemed to endorse this idea when, apologizing after his scandal for his anti-gay rhetoric, he said, “I think I was partially so vehement because of my own war.” 

It’s a compelling theory — and now there is scientific reason to believe it. In this month’s issue of the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, we and our fellow researchers provide empirical evidence that homophobia can result, at least in part, from the suppression of same-sex desire.

Our paper describes six studies conducted in the United States and Germany involving 784 university students. Participants rated their sexual orientation on a 10-point scale, ranging from gay to straight. Then they took a computer-administered test designed to measure their implicit sexual orientation.
Using this methodology we identified a subgroup of participants who, despite self-identifying as highly straight, indicated some level of same-sex attraction (that is, they associated “me” with gay-related words and pictures faster than they associated “me” with straight-related words and pictures). Over 20 percent of self-described highly straight individuals showed this discrepancy. 

Notably, these “discrepant” individuals were also significantly more likely than other participants to favor anti-gay policies; to be willing to assign significantly harsher punishments to perpetrators of petty crimes if they were presumed to be homosexual; and to express greater implicit hostility toward gay subjects (also measured with the help of subliminal priming). Thus our research suggests that some who oppose homosexuality do tacitly harbor same-sex attraction. 

What leads to this repression? We found that participants who reported having supportive and accepting parents were more in touch with their implicit sexual orientation and less susceptible to homophobia. Individuals whose sexual identity was at odds with their implicit sexual attraction were much more frequently raised by parents perceived to be controlling, less accepting and more prejudiced against homosexuals. 

Not all those who campaign against gay men and lesbians secretly feel same-sex attractions. But at least some who oppose homosexuality are likely to be individuals struggling against parts of themselves, having themselves been victims of oppression and lack of acceptance. The costs are great, not only for the targets of anti-gay efforts but also often for the perpetrators. 

A Faith-Based Lesson for Paul Ryan

As even a half conscious reader would quickly determine, I typically have nothing but contempt for most of the Roman Catholic Church hierarchy that seemingly is increasingly becoming an arm of the Republican Party.  Hence, my delight in seeing the Catholic bishops turn on Paul Ryan and his anti-poor, pro-wealthy budget proposal.  I suspect that Ryan never expected his disingenuous statement that his budget approach is guided by his Catholic faith would bite him in the ass quite so forcefully.  And thankfully, its not just the bishops who seem to be taking to task.  Rank and file Catholics and some of the Catholic intelligentsia, if you will, are increasingly revolting against both the the bishops and the anti-Gospel message GOP budget.  A column in the Washington Post looks at the lesson Ryan is receiving.  Here are excerpts:

There is something un-Christian about the Gospel According to Paul Ryan. So, at least, says Ryan’s Catholic Church.  In an interview with the Christian Broadcasting Network’s David Brody this month, Ryan, the author of the House Republican budget endorsed by Mitt Romney, said his program was crafted “using my Catholic faith” as inspiration. But the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops was not about to bless that claim.

A week after Ryan’s boast, the bishops sent letters to Congress saying that the Ryan budget, passed by the House, “fails to meet” the moral criteria of the Church, namely its view that any budget should help “the least of these” as the Christian Bible requires: the poor, the hungry, the homeless, the jobless. “A just spending bill cannot rely on disproportionate cuts in essential services to poor and vulnerable persons,” the bishops wrote.   In fact, Ryan would cut spending on the least of these by about $5 trillion over 10 years — from Medicaid, food stamps, welfare and the like  .  .  .  . 

“Your budget,” a group of Jesuit scholars and other Georgetown University faculty members wrote to Ryan last week, “appears to reflect the values of your favorite philosopher, Ayn Rand, rather than the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Her call to selfishness and her antagonism toward religion are antithetical to the Gospel values of compassion and love.”

Ryan didn’t turn the other cheek. He showed up at Georgetown on Thursday to deliver a previously scheduled lecture, and lecture he did. He said the faculty members would benefit from a “fact-based conversation” on the issue.

From the balcony, a group of young demonstrators answered Ryan by holding up a banner with the message “Stop the War on the Poor: No Social Justice in Ryan’s Budget.” On the plaza outside, more protesters held a banner asking: “Were you there when they crucified the poor?” A man wearing a bedsheet, sash and sandals, with a name tag identifying him as “GOP Je$us,” read a new version of the Beatitudes: “Blessed are the rich: The reign of the world is ours. . . . ”

The rebuke of Ryan is a credit to the Catholic leaders, because they are displaying their doctrinal consistency even as politicians embrace church teachings selectively. Republicans hailed the Catholic bishops when they were opposing the Obama administration’s policy to expand contraceptive coverage; likewise, they cite the church’s opposition to abortion. But these same lawmakers have little interest in the church’s position against the death penalty or its opposition to the Arizona immigration law.

Even Jesus said to render unto Caesar that which is Caesar’s. Ryan would rather give the rich a tax cut. 

Today's GOP loves to wrap itself in religion and pretend to be the party of true Christian values.  In truth, however, these same individuals act little better than the Pharisees that Christ so consistently condemned.  The disingenuousness and hypocrisy of those like Paul Ryan is truly breath taking.

Has Romney Made a Deal With the Devil?

Some readers with whom I agree on more things than they'd probably like to admit feel that I am unduly harsh on Mitt Romney.  As explained in a response to one post comment, in some ways I feel Romney might be an alright president if left to his own devises and inclinations.  Unfortunately, given to day's GOP and the pressure Romney would be under to posture himself for re-election in four more years, I do not believe he'd govern as a moderate.   He's only too willing to seek to please the worse elements in the GOP.  Thus, the cartoon set out above describes what is the likely reality.  And yes, the devil in question is the Christianist/Tea Party base of the GOP.  To win them over, Romney will likely sell his soul.  And that would not bode well for the nation, our foreign policy, gays, women or other minorities.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Gay Marine Says "I Do" At Homecoming

I recently posted about the great pro-marriage equality ad from the United Kingdom that shows a gay soldier returning from deployment who has his boyfriend propose to him.  Now, life has imitated art and a real life Marine was greeted by a proposal from his boyfriend when returning to Camp Pendleton in California.  No doubt the Bible beaters are going to go into absolute convulsions once they see this image of love.  Here are highlights from the San Diego LGBT Weekly:

Balloons, signs, tears, and joy may not be unusual sights on military bases when family and friends await their returning veteran’s safe return home from a long deployment, but a wedding proposal by a boyfriend to his Marine boyfriend is. That’s what happened Tuesday at Camp Pendleton, when San Diego resident, Cory Huston, himself a Navy veteran once assigned to the Marines as a hospital corpsman asked Marine Avarice Guerrero to marry him. It is believed to be the first proposal of marriage and engagement between two gay men – not to mention two war vets – on a US military base.

April 24, under a bright Southern California sky at Camp Pendleton’s Camp Del Mar near Oceanside, Calif., a full two hours before his boyfriend’s return from the badlands of Afghanistan, Cory Huston waited nervously. Huston, who was discharged under the former Don’t Ask Don’t Tell policy, chain smoked as he rehearsed the simple proposal he would deliver when Guerrero would arrive.

He told LGBT Weekly that by popping the question, and assuming Guerrero would say yes, he would not only be changing his and his beau’s lives forever, but also the landscape of marriage among gay servicemembers.

Finally, luggage in tow, Guerrero emerged with a smile on his face. Upon seeing Huston, Guerrero dropped his bags; aimed a kiss toward Huston’s lips; and opened his arms to his boyfriends waiting embrace. The time and distance of 10 months’ separation evaporated in a public show of affection that less than a year ago would have been cause for court martial. After a few minutes of emotional holding and kissing, Huston went anxiously down on one knee; looked up at Guerrero, who was dressed from head to toe in military fatigues; and produced an engagement ring and the time-honored phrase, “Will you marry me?”  Huston’s mild tremble, a result of hours and days of anticipation about this day, was quickly quieted by the one word every hopeful fiancĂ© wants to hear: “Yes.”
Maggie Gallagher will likely wet herself as she is wracked with rage (ditto for Elaine Donnelly) while the spittle flying around Tony Perkins and Bryan Fischer will require full foul weather gear.Kudos to these guys.  I hope they have a long and happy marriage.

Friday Morning Male Beauty

Irish Priests Vow Not to Break Seal of Confession to Report Sex Abuse

Even as the horrors of sexual abuse continue to unfold in Philadelphia, priests in Ireland are vowing to defy a new law that requires the reporting of knowledge of sex abuse.  They say they will not break the secrecy of the confessional box and that sexual abuse disclosed in confession will not be reported.  Frankly, it sounds like a convenient set up for the priests: they confess to one another and no one gets reported.  Indeed, things can continue as they have for many decades or longer in Ireland with children and youths deemed as sexual play things for the foul clergy.  And the Vatican wonders why the Catholic Church in Ireland is in free fall?  The Irish Independent looks at the confrontation between the civil government and the would be protectors of predators.  Here are highlights:

CATHOLIC priests will defy a new law that requires them to report sexual abuse disclosed to them in the confession box -- despite the threat of 10-year jail sentences.  It came after Justice Minister Alan Shatter confirmed the mandatory reporting requirement would apply to priests hearing confession.

Fr Sean McDonagh of the Association of Catholic Priests, which represents 800 clergymen, warned last night: "I certainly wouldn't be willing to break the seal of confession for anyone -- Alan Shatter particularly."  And Auxiliary Bishop of Dublin Raymond Field said: "The seal of the confessional is inviolable as far as I am concerned, and that's the end of the matter."  It puts the clergy on a direct collision course with Mr Shatter because new laws oblige every person to report suspected sexual abuse of children and vulnerable adults to gardai.

Mr Shatter said last night: "I would expect that if there was someone going to confession who was a serial sex abuser, I don't know how anyone could live with their conscience if they didn't refer that to the gardai."
It is the latest flashpoint between the Government and the Catholic Church, following the highly publicised row over Taoiseach Enda Kenny's criticism of the Vatican for failing to co-operate with clerical sexual abuse inquiries last year.  He declared that canon law would not be allowed to supersede state law. The Irish Embassy to the Vatican was subsequently closed "for budgetary reasons".

Philadelphia Sex Abuse Trial Continues to Spotlight Catholic Church Moral Bankruptcy

The sex abuse trial against Msgr. William Lynn, the former secretary for clergy at the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, and accused predator priests that is ongoing in Philadelphia continues to give the gift of making it painfully obvious to all but the most delusional that the Church hierarchy is morally bankrupt and that the leadership did not give a damn about the welfare of children and youths.  It was all about protecting those in the clergy.  The number of young lives damaged or destroyed never, ever mattered to these horrible bitter men.  That two cardinals played active roles in allowing the sex abuse to continue for years speaks volumes.  I truly do not know how a moral person can remain a Roman Catholic under the current hierarchy, many of whom, in my opinion, ought to be serving long prison terms.  Here are highlights from the New York Times on the latest horrors to be revealed:

Two men testified Wednesday of abuse they suffered as youths at the hands of a now defrocked Philadelphia priest. The two victims of Edward Avery, a former priest who has pleaded guilty to sexual assault charges, appeared during the landmark trial of Msgr. William Lynn, the former secretary for clergy at the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, who is charged with child endangerment. Monsignor Lynn is suspected of allowing priests accused of abuse to remain in positions where they could continue to abuse children. 

One victim, now 23, told the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas how Mr. Avery abused him in the sacristy of St. Jerome’s Catholic Church in Northeast Philadelphia in 1998, when he was 10 years old.   The man said that he had already been abused by the Rev. Charles Engelhardt, another priest who is charged with abuse, and that Mr. Avery said he intended to do the same thing with him. “He said he heard about my sessions with Father Engelhardt and that ours were going to begin soon,” said the man, who was an altar boy. 
The witness said the priest turned on music and forced the boy to do a striptease until he was naked. He then sat the boy on his lap, and forced him to perform oral sex and masturbation, and told him that he was doing God’s will. “ ‘This is what God wants,’ ” the witness said Mr. Avery told him. 

The other victim, now 49, struggled to keep his composure at times as he recalled being abused at Mr. Avery’s residence when he was 15 and again on a ski trip to Vermont when he was 18.   Last month, Mr. Avery pleaded guilty to rape and conspiracy and was sentenced to two and a half to five years in prison. 

Pope Benedict XVI and the Vatican can crack down on American nuns for not being sufficiently anti-gay and for focusing on social ministry, yet those who protected and enabled sexual predators remain untouched.  It is beyond sickening.

Tammy Baldwin Opponent: Promised to Eradicate Homosexuality if He Were God

The GOP continues to field utter religious right nutcases in its never ending quest to prostitute itself to the haters and reality free elements of the GOP base.  A case in point is former Wisconsin Rep. Mark Neumann (R) who has announced that he will run for that state's open U.S. Senate seat and likely face off against Congresswoman Tammy Baldwin.  Neumann sounds at least as crazy as Michele Bachmann and apparently would like to see gays eradicated from the face of the earth and promised that he'd achieve this goal if he were God.  Yep, batshit crazy and bigoted.  A perfect match for today's Republican Party that seems to be continuing to hemorrhage what few moderates and sane people are in the ever shrinking GOP tent.  One does have to wonder, however, in light of the new studies that link homophobia with closeted self-loathing gays, just how bad Neumann is lusting for gay sex.  Maybe he and Rick Santorum need to get together and satisfy their secret desires so they can leave the rest of us alone.   Think Progress looks at Neumann's anti-gay agenda:

In declaring his candidacy during a radio appearance this morning, Neumann predicted that he will face openly-gay Rep. Tammy Baldwin (D) in a general election — who is also expected to announce her candidacy in the coming weeks — and promised to bring her record “to the forefront.” 

But as Denis Dison notes, Neumann will first have to answer for several homophobic remarks he made in the 1990s, when as a freshman congressman, he told the New York Times that “If I was elected God for a day, homosexuality wouldn’t be permitted, but nobody’s electing me God.” A year later, speaking before the Christian Coalition, he remarked, “If somebody walks in to me and says, ‘I’m a gay person, I want a job in your office,’ I would say that’s inappropriate, and they wouldn’t be hired because that would mean they are promoting their agenda. The gay and lesbian lifestyle (is) unacceptable, lest there be any question about that.” 

Neumann served two terms Congress and waged and unsuccessful challenge to then-Sen. Russ Feingold (D) in 2008. In 2010, he ran for Governor and lost the Republican nomination to Scott Walker. Notably, Tommy Thompson will likely have to deal with his own LGBT clunkers. Thompson isn’t known as a firebrand on conservative social issues, but during his failed bid for the 2008 GOP presidential nomination, Thompson said that businesses should be allowed to discriminate against gay people. He immediately walked back his position, citing a broken hearing aide and a need to use the restroom. 

Romney's Fantasy Budget Proposal

One would think that the Republicans would have learned at least a tint bit from the disasters of the Chimperator Bush/Emperor Palpatine Cheney regime budget debacle that put the nation in its current debt strapped and economic malaise condition.  Yet the budget scheme - and scheme seems the best description - aimed at duping voters suggest that no lesson was learned whatsoever.  Some have described Romney vision as George W. Bush on steroids and the description seems apt.  Hopefully, voters will see through the smoke and mirrors and understand just how unrealistic Romney's vision is in fact.  A column in the Washington Post looks at the incredibly dishonest and unworkable budget proposal.  Here are excerpts:

Start with the taxes. The Romney campaign has been very clear about what the former governor is promising: $5 trillion in tax cuts on top of extending the Bush tax cuts, with those benefits heavily weighted toward the country’s wealthiest taxpayers. Romney himself has acknowledged the lack of details, stating in reference to his tax plan that “frankly, it can’t be scored.” I have been party for many years to searches for “high-income tax shelters” that can feasibly be closed. I know of no reputable expert in either political party who would find that there is anything even approaching $5 trillion in potential revenue to be generated from this source.

Romney has also proposed a massive defense buildup, even while he says he will cut spending deeply enough to balance the budget. I think it’s clear why he won’t tell voters which cuts he would make: In the past, disclosing his planned budget cuts was politically damaging.

We have seen this movie before. When President Bill Clinton left office, our country was paying down its debt on a substantial scale. I was privileged as secretary of the Treasury to be buying back federal debt. George W. Bush campaigned on a program of tax cuts supported by economic advisers who were not subject to the rigors of official budget scorekeeping. The results — trillions of dollars of budget deficits — speak for themselves. 

This is a consequential presidential election. As the country continues to recover from the largest economic crisis in generations, we need to strengthen the job market, address big fiscal challenges and build an economy that is based on sustainable, shared economic growth. Voters should have a chance to choose between clear alternatives. Obama — consistent with his obligations as president — has laid out a multiyear budget embodying his vision for the future, and it has been evaluated by independent experts. It is time for Romney to do the same.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

An Early Prsidential Projection Map

There will be countless versions of maps that claim to project the outcome of the 2012 presidential election.  The map above from Huffington Post cannot make too many Republicans feel warm and fuzzy.  The back up analysis based on recent polls can be viewed here.  Not surprisingly, Virginia is viewed as a toss up state.  While I am by no means in love with Obama, the GOP and the ever flip flopping Mitt Romney make it difficult not to be rooting for an Obama victory in November.

Can Romney Win Over Christianist Voters?

As Marcus Rubio's almost frantic release of a copy of his First Communion Certificate indicates, the Christianist extremists who make up a large segment of the GOP party base are none too thrilled with Mormons candidates.  As a result, the question faced by Mitt Romney is whether or not these voters will put aside their views that Mormons are members on a non-Christian cult and vote for Romney because their hatred for Obama is even greater than their dislike of Mormons.   If the answer is "no", then these theocrats may stay home and not vote in November.  Unfortunately for Romney, in most states there will not be inflammatory social issues on the ballot to galvanize the Mormon haters to go to the polls nonetheless.  A piece in Politico looks at how the lack of divisive ballot initiatives may hurt Romney.  Here are some highlights:   

Mitt Romney isn’t the first Republican to worry about evangelical turnout — and unlike George W. Bush he can’t rely on a red-meat ballot initiative to get them to the polls.

Romney is about to head into the general election still grappling with how to connect with conservative Christians who could be crucial in states like Ohio, where Bush won with about 118,000 votes thanks in part to an anti-gay marriage ballot initiative that revved up the base.

But this year in Ohio, Florida and Missouri, there are no anti-gay marriage proposals on the ballot and only a few others that could come close — like some targeting President Barack Obama’s health care law and another on religious freedom.

That means that Romney, a Mormon, is going to have to step up his sales pitch and make the case to evangelicals that they should make it to the polls for him — since there’s no backup reason.
Family Research Council’s Ken Blackwell, who helped deliver Bush’s victory in Ohio, said Romney will need to do more than make the case against Obama to win over religious conservatives.

[S]o far only a few opportunities for the Romney campaign to rely on ballot initiatives to help boost turnout in states like Florida and Missouri.

So far, Romney is no Bush-devotee when it comes to religion on the campaign trail.   The Massachusetts Republican has avoided discussing his Mormon faith on the campaign trail, keeping religious conservatives at arm’s length as he moved to secure the GOP nomination.  Until recently, he’s struggled to find support among evangelical leaders who were more comfortable with GOP presidential candidates like former Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Pa.). And he won’t have the benefit of pro-traditional marriage amendments in several states as Bush did to help him turn out the vote.

Despite the growing movement of high-profile conservative Christians backing Romney, he still needs to win over the parishioners in the pews.  .   .   .  The growing number of high-profile endorsements hasn’t yet translated to a surge in individual church-goer backing, according to the American Family Association’s Bryan Fischer.   “The reality is that Governor Romney is going to experience a severe enthusiasm gap with evangelicals,” Fischer said. “Barring something exceptional, a Republican candidate cannot win without the enthusiastic support of evangelicals.”

Romney’s camp may be assisted by the dire economy. A recent Pew Research Center survey found that social issues ranked as the lowest priority of 2,400 registered voters. Stuart Roy, who helped run the pro-Santorum super PAC Red, White and Blue, said that focus groups they held with religious conservatives found that while they felt strongly about their positions, they were much more adamant about beating Obama in November.

The real test for Romney and evangelicals may be whether he can find a way to connect with them and bring some of them over on the margins, particularly among black evangelicals who may have voted for Obama in 2008 but have become disaffected with his presidency.

Religious affiliation should not factor into one's fitness for public office - at least not among rational individuals.  The Christianist element of the GOP base, however, almost by definition is NOT rational.  Hence, Mitt "Etch A Sketch" Romney's difficulty is connecting with the GOP base.

Thursday Morning Male Beauty

Marriage: Separate is Not Equal

The above video clip which beautifully displays same sex love is part of a petition drive in the United Kingdom to bring full marriage equality to that country. It goes without saying that if a similar ad were to hit the airwaves in America, the Christianists would go berserk.  It is far past time that we removed religion - and the special rights too long granted to conservative versions of Christianity - from America's civil laws.  As the petition drive notes, the rights under the UK's partnership laws do not grant equality - and that separate is not equal.

The GOP's Very Real War on Women

Republicans protest that they are not conducting a war on women.  Yet actions speak louder than words and a review of what is happening in GOP controlled states such as Virginia underscores that if women per se are not the targets, their rights and control of their own bodies are very much in the cross hairs of the GOP.  Much of this anti-women's rights agenda is driven by the Christianist base of the GOP which seems most happy when women are barefoot and pregnant, and preferably in the kitchen and in the home.  Never mind that modern day economics make it impossible for most women to remain at home even if that were their preferred choice.  Andrew Sullivan looks at what is happening in GOP controlled states and it's hard not to describe what's happening as anything less than an assault of women's rights:  Here are excerpts:

I hate the term "war on women". It's so hackish and echoes with the kind of liberal screechiness that backfires with everyone else. But the fact that there is a wave of laws in GOP controlled states, making abortion harder and harder and more humiliating to obtain, and what can reasonably be described as a full-bore assault on Planned Parenthood, is simply undeniable. And women surely take this personally - hence the extraordinary gender gap this time around. But the Christianist GOP is undeterred. While Oklahoma House Republicans temporarily shelve a personhood bill (similar to the initiative defeated by Mississippi voters in November), the Tennessee House and Senate have moved to authorize prosecution for harming an embryo:
The Senate approved and sent to Gov. Bill Haslam on Monday legislation that allows criminal prosecution for causing the death of "a human embryo or fetus at any stage of gestation in utero." The bill (HB3517) marks the second change in two years to a law that since 1989 had it a crime to cause the death of a "viable fetus." That was changed last year to eliminate the word "viable."
Many in the state are worried about the implications for miscarriage:
[T]his bill goes further than covering, say, a violent attacker harming an expectant mother who then, unfortunately, miscarries.
Memphis, Tennessee makes Jezebel's "Ten Scariest Places to Have Ladyparts in America" (but Mississippi wins). Meanwhile, Planned Parenthood Wisconsin is suspending non-surgical abortion services because of a new state law which "requires women visit a doctor at least three times before having a drug-induced abortion, forces physicians to determine whether women are being coerced into having an abortion and prohibits women and doctors from using web cams during the procedure":

Arizona also recently implemented a law making it much more difficult to access medication abortions.

Here in Virginia the backlash has been so strong that Gov. Bob "Governor Ultrasound" McDonnell has begun running disingenuous ads in an apparent effort to try to rehabilitate his image so that he is more attractive as a VP nominee to Mitt Romney.

Marco Rubio Releases First Communion Certificate to QuellGOP Base Attacks

In yet another sign that the Republican Party is becoming a Christianist sectarian party not the least bit tethered to objective reality, Florida Senator Marco Rubio apparently felt compelled to release a copy of his Roman Catholic First Communion Certificate to counter claims in an unauthorized biography that he was actually a Mormon and, therefore, not really a Christian and by default, not worthy of support by the Bible beater crowd.  It's lunacy, but welcome to today's GOP.  Here are excerpts from BuzzFeed

Senator Marco Rubio's staff is disputing a section of a new biography that suggests that Rubio, as a boy, was a Mormon until the family returned to Miami.

A Rubio spokesman sends over a document to back up the Senator's recollection, is that he returned to the Catholic Church while his family still lived in Las Vegas. The document shows Rubio was baptized into the Catholic Church as a baby in 1971, and given first communion at age 13 in December of 1984.

“The author incorrectly claims that Senator Rubio returned to the Catholic Church after the family moved to Miami and suggests the ‘exact date of their return is in dispute’," spokesman Alex Conant said in an email of the new book, Manuel Roig Franza's "The Rise of Marco Rubio." "In fact, Marco entered preparation courses for communion in 1983 and it is a documentable fact that he received his first communion in Las Vegas on Christmas Day 1984 before the family returned to Miami the next year.”

Robert Spitzer Apologizes Infamous "Ex-Gay" Study

In his much berated 2001 study which used as a study group "ex-gays" from reparative therapy programs concluded that a very small percentage - i.e., 1 or 2 percent - of these "ex-gays" might have been able to actually change their sexual orientation.  The problems with the study were many, especially since it merely relied on the unsubstantiated claims of participants.  The study became a constant marketing piece for fraudulent "ex-gay" programs such as Exodus International and PFOX.  Now, in what can only be viewed as a major blow to the "change myth" proponents, Spitzer has formally renounced the study and has issued an apology to the LGBT  community.  I'm sure that the snake oil merchants in the "ex-gay" community will be livid now that they can no longer cite Spitzer's work as support for their lies.   Similarly, anti-gay politicians have now been deprived of any legitimacy in their claims that being gay is a "choice."  Here are highlights from Spitzer's letter of apology via Truth Wins Out:

Several months ago I told you that because of my revised view of my 2001 study of reparative therapy changing sexual orientation, I was considering writing something that would acknowledge that I now judged the major critiques of the study as largely correct. After discussing my revised view of the study with Gabriel Arana, a reporter for American Prospect, and with Malcolm Ritter, an Associated Press science writer, I decided that I had to make public my current thinking about the study. Here it is.

Basic Research Question. From the beginning it was: “can some version of reparative therapy enable individuals to change their sexual orientation from homosexual to heterosexual?” Realizing that the study design made it impossible to answer this question, I suggested that the study could be viewed as answering the question, “how do individuals undergoing reparative therapy describe changes in sexual orientation?” – a not very interesting question.

The Fatal Flaw in the Study – There was no way to judge the credibility of subject reports of change in sexual orientation. I offered several (unconvincing) reasons why it was reasonable to assume that the subject’s reports of change were credible and not self-deception or outright lying. But the simple fact is that there was no way to determine if the subject’s accounts of change were valid.

I believe I owe the gay community an apology for my study making unproven claims of the efficacy of reparative therapy. I also apologize to any gay person who wasted time and energy undergoing some form of reparative therapy because they believed that I had proven that reparative therapy works with some “highly motivated” individuals.

Robert Spitzer. M.D.
Emeritus Professor of Psychiatry,
Columbia University

I am sure that there will be "ex-gays for pay" who will continue to claim that they have changed their sexual orientation.  The reality, however, will be that they are engaging in self-delusion as I tried to do for 37 years of my life, making myself and others miserable in the process.  The "ex-gay" myth needs to die once and for all.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Wednesday Male Beauty

Romney Faces Backlash Over Gay Advisor's Tweets and Sexual Orientation

I commented after Mitt Romney hired openly gay Richard A. Grenell to be his campaign's national security adviser and wondered how soon the far right would go into apoplexy over Romney's decision.  AFA's premier gay hater, Bryan Fischer did not disappoint and has been virtually foaming at the mouth.  But it turns out that not only are the knuckle draggers unhappy with Romney's selection, as it has become obvious that Grenell is not necessarily any real friend to LGBT equality (as seems to be the norm for gay Republicans) and has had a bad habit of tweeting nasty comments about women and others.  The end result is that Romney s catching flack from all sides.  The Washington Post looks at the lingering controversy.  Here are highlights:

In one of the first moves depicting a shift to a general election footing, Mitt Romney’s campaign announced last week the hiring of Richard A. Grenell as a national security and foreign policy adviser. This week, the campaign and Grenell were dealing with backlash from the left and right.

Grenell, who spent seven years at the United Nations heading the communications department for the U.S. mission, has had to scrub snarky tweets aimed at women — particularly Democrats and liberals — and the media, while the Romney campaign has had to fend off criticism from social conservatives who object to Grenell’s appointment because he is gay.

 In one entry removed from his Twitter account, Grenell wrote of Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton: “Hillary is starting to look liek Madeline Albright.”  Of MSNBC’s liberal-leaning Rachel Maddow, he wrote that she should “take a breath and put on a necklace.”

The snark was not limited to the political opposition. Grenell, a former spokesman for Newt Gingrich, said of Gingrich’s third wife, Callista, that he wondered whether her “hair snaps on” and that she “stands there like she is wife #1” at political events.

Tony Perkins, president of the [hate group] Family Research Council, took issue with Grenell over his criticism of the Bush administration’s failure to sign a December 2008 U.N. resolution that called for decriminalizing homosexuality across the globe.

Bryan Fischer of the American Family Association shared his disappointment with the Grenell pick on Twitter: “Romney picks out & loud gay as a spokesman. If personnel is policy, his message to the pro-family community: drop dead.”

Grenell had an uneasy relationship with some reporters, who found him difficult to deal with, his supporters said, but it is that very aggressiveness with the press and knowledge of policy that makes him qualified to be Romney’s top flack on foreign policy. “If he saw a reporter inaccurately characterize U.S. positions, he would take them to task, but in terms of half answers, half truths, that wasn’t the case,” said Mark Groombridge, who was a top aide for John R. Bolton, then the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations.
Groombridge said Grenell’s sexual orientation is a “nonissue.”  In a statement from the Romney campaign, Bolton called his former aide “a thoroughly professional press spokesperson.”

His sexual orientation may be a non-issue for rational people, but the Christiansts ranks and much of the GOP base are not made up of rational people.

The Rank Hypocrisy of Christians and Republicans Who Accept Divorce

I've addressed the hypocrisy of the Christianists and their political whores in the GOP who continually condemn gays as sinners and have a near aneurysm at the mention of same sex marriage yet close their eyes to divorce.  Under scoring this incredible hypocrisy is the release of a video in support of North Carolina's foul Amendment One by thrice married serial adulterer Newt Gingrich.  And if that's not proof enough, it is evangelical Christians in the Bible Belt who have the highest divorce rate, not supposed "liberals" in Massachusetts.   Joe Jervis aptly comments on Gingrich's disingenuous bullshit this way:

Newt Gingrich would like to remind everybody that marriage is between one man and one woman whom you abandon riddled with cancer on her hospital bed while you fuck the shit out of your mistress whom you later marry and cheat on with a third decades-younger woman while screaming with Godly moral outrage about the infidelities of the president.

Andrew Sullivan looks at the disconnect and  hypocrisy a bit more calmly, but it all comes down to the same thing: Hypocrisy and a double standard of selectively deciding which Bible passages to ignore while using others to bludgeon a minority of the population.  I suspect this hypocrisy and the general meanness displayed by "conservative Christians" is what id fueling the exodus of millenials from Christianity.  Here are excerpts from Andrew's comments directed at a Catholic defender of bans on same sex marriage:

[H]ow do you tell 2 percent of the population that in this culture they have to be chaste and invisible? In this culture? And if you cannot, what is your actual social policy toward these people? Or do you simply not have one - except to wish we did not exist?

Let me use an obvious analogy which really gets to the heart of the unfairness at the center of this. Modern America is full of divorced couples. Unlike homosexuality, Jesus spoke unequivocally about divorce. Does Ross insist that our civil laws return to banning divorce on all grounds? No. Does he back a constitutional amendment to ban civil divorce? No. His reason would be to say that it simply cannot be done democratically. But that precisely reveals the church's discriminatory position on gay people. Unlike divorcees, the gays' position is not a choice. But unlike divorcees, they alone are the target of a massive campaign by Christianists to deny them any right to marry at all - not just twice but ever! This is where the current hierarchy is.

Notice too how they are not threatening to shut down services for the poor and homeless because one of their civil employees might be re-married or divorced (and thereby violating church doctrine). And yet they apply that standard to gay people - who have not chosen any lifestyle, but are guilty purely of being as God made them. They do it because we are few in number and they can deploy the power of religion to demonize us.

This deliberate tolerance of heterosexuals and deliberate intolerance of homosexuals on the same issue is on its face discriminatory. And don't get me started on annulments. Newt Gingrich gets to marry his third wife in church, but the Vatican wants a constitutional amendment to prevent my having one civil marriage with no church involvement. What else can this be rooted in but animus? And total panic.

Minnesota GOP Warns College Republicans Not to Hold Bradlee Dean Event

It appears that some in the GOP - at least in Minnesota - may be waking up to the fact that having the GOP brand associated with nasty religious extremists is NOT a good idea.  Or at least that seems to be the message to be learned from the Minnesota GOP's warning to a group of college Republicans to not allow gay-hating extremist Bradlee Dean, a Michele Bachmann BFF, to speak or perform at an event scheduled for last night.  Here are some excerpts from the Star Tribune:

Top state Republicans sent St. Cloud State College Republicans a message: Allow firebrand preacher Bradlee Dean to speak and you may not get Republican jobs in the future.

"Sometimes young people need to have better judgment in who they invite to things under the Republican banner," said Minnesota Republican Party chair Pat Shortridge. "If you are going to do dumb things, and not take the advice of the state college Republicans and the state chairman of the Republican party, it might have some consequences."

Despite hearing the message from the party's executive director and being told they would no longer be a state chapter if they allowed Dean to speak,  St. Cloud State College Republicans College plan to go ahead with the event. The event , an evening concert and "open-mic", is planned for Tuesday night at a St. Cloud State University auditorium.

Dean is a self-style hard rock pastor who has been ardent in his opposition of homosexuality, saying things that opponents say suggest he approves jailing of gay people.

But Abbey Gooch, the chair of the St. Cloud state college Republicans, said Dean's message is one that "needs to be talked about on the St. Cloud campus." She said Dean's "You can run but you can't hide" ministries have been "so nice to us."  Gooch, who has only been chair since last week, said the threats from Republican officials have been scary, made her feel like throwing up and doubt her future plans to stick with politics.

Gooch said and Shortridge, and materials obtained by the Star Tribune, confirmed that Republican Party executive director Ben Zierke told the leaders of the college group last week that they would have trouble getting Republican Party or Capitol jobs in the future if they did not cancel the event. Shortridge said Zierke, who did not return a call from the Star Tribune, was acting with his direction.

"If people refuse to listen, refuse to follow advice, continue to do things that reflect badly on the party ...we got to take a long hard look at what does this chapter look like and it seems like it is out of control and we have people who clearly should not be acting and speaking in the name of the Republican Party, at any level," Shortridge said.

Gooch also said Chairman of  the Minnesota College Republicans Ryan Lyk told the St. Cloud group that their chapter would no longer be associated with the state's college Republican organization, which is associated with the state party, if they allowed him to speak. Gooch said if that happens they would likely just continue under a different banner.

Asked why the party objected so strongly to Dean's appearance, Shortridge said: "I think that speaks for word: Google."

One can only hope in time that other extremists and individuals associated with anti-gay hate groups will likewise become radioactive and unwelcome at GOP events.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

More Tuesday Male Beauty

Click image to enlarge.

Quote of the Day: Andrew Sullivan on the Pope v. Obama

Andrew Sullivan - who unlike myself still somehow manages to view himself as a Catholic - looks at the Catholic hierarchy's decision to challenge Barack Obama over contraception and the hideously disingenuous rallying cry of "religious liberty" even as the hierarchy endeavors to trample on the religious liberty of everyone else.   Personally, I view the hierarchy's pretended concern about religious liberty as being about as sincere as its feigned apologies for the sex abuse scandal.  Stated another way, if you believe ANYTHING that the Church hierarchy has to say, then I have ocean front property in Arizona I want to sell to you.  Here is Andrew's comment:

They barely protested when the last president authorized torture, but the Catholic hierarchy is now determined to use what's left of its authority to organize protests this summer against their right to deny insured contraception to Catholic and non-Catholic employees in schools and hospitals.  This will be their cause - not saving universal healthcare from repeal, not bringing illegal immigrants out of the shadows, not protecting the poor, but affirming that religious liberty is at stake if they cannot keep the pill from their female employees' insurance, 98 percent of whom use it at some point in their lives anyway.

It's a risky strategy. I know few Catholics in the pews who share these absurd priorities, and for the hierarchy to become so closely identified with the Christianists among the evangelical right could split the church more profoundly. And that, I suspect, is partly the intent. If your goal is to purify the Church, to deter all the faithful that do not share the reactionary priorities now increasingly preached from the pulpit, then this will help. A smaller, purer Catholic church, reduced to the Santora and the Donohues, is what these dim-witted Vatican apparatchiks have been told to encourage. I cannot believe it will help the faith.

Protecting child rapists, beating up on nuns who practice the Gospel message because they are not sufficiently homophobic, and withdrawing funding from groups that help the poor and homeless because they don't oppose gay marriage are now the primary hallmarks of the Church hierarchy.  It's disgusting and one can only hope that the Catholic Church dies a quick death outside of ignorant and backward pockets in Africa and parts of the Third World.  What is most amazing is that the Church is being killed from within the ranks of the hierarchy.

Philadelphia Archdiocese Ignored Warnings About Pedophiles

Just as the sex abuse scandal in Ireland seemed to be a constant font of evidence of the moral bankruptcy of the Church hierarchy and the callous indifference the "princes of the Church" displayed toward the safety of and well being of children and youths, so to is the ongoing criminal trial in Philadelphia against Monsignor Lynn and priests accused of sexual abuse.  It is painfully obvious that the only thing that mattered to these clerics was to  protect (i) the image of the Church and (ii) the predator priests.  The children and youth?  They were not even on the radar screen. A story on KFVS-TV yesterday revealed evidence of confessed predators being returned to parishes and gang rape attempts in seminaries.  Here are highlights:

A Catholic priest admitting a sexual relationship with a teen said he had been the victim of an attempted gang rape by fellow seminarians, according to testimony in a clergy-abuse trial.

Testimony on Monday also mentioned Pope Benedict XVI, who weighed in on the priest's 2005 censure when he was a Vatican official known as Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger.

Documents show the priest had admitted to the Philadelphia archdiocese in 1992 that he had sex with the high school student for several years. An archdiocesan treatment center concluded the priest was not a pedophile, but was affected by his "traumatic sexual development." He remained in ministry for another decade.

 The priest told a therapist he had been tied down by several seminarians who tried to rape him and that a friend came to his rescue. But the same friend later twice abused him, the priest told the therapist, according to documents read in court.

The priest discussed Monday stayed in active ministry until the national priest-abuse scandal broke in 2002. His ministry was supposed to be strictly supervised so he was not alone around adolescent boys, but he lived alone in a parish rectory in Lower Merion one year, and had little if any supervision after leaving the hospital in 1993, prosecutors allege. He remains a priest today, but lives a private life of "prayer and penance."

On cross-examination, defense lawyer Jeffrey Lindy noted that Lynn got the priest to admit to the sexual relationship with the teen the same day the complaint came in to Lynn in 1992, and soon had him being evaluated. However, a detective on the stand noted that police, had they gotten such an admission, would have pursued criminal charges.   Neither the priest's admission - nor the scores of other abuse complaints brought to the archdiocese from 1948 through the 2005 grand jury report - were ever referred to police or prosecutors.

Today's Philadelphia Inquirer has additional tawdry details.  Here are highlights:

An Archdiocese of Philadelphia priest active in schools and scouting was allowed to work in suburban parishes for five years after doctors diagnosed him as a pedophile, called him “a very sick man,” and told church officials he was a “powder keg” waiting to explode.

The priest, the Rev. Peter F. Dunne, paid off one accuser himself and repeatedly resisted or ignored recommendations for therapy, according to internal church records shown Tuesday to a Common Pleas Court jury. 

When the pastor overseeing Dunne at a Bucks County parish in 1990 petitioned archdiocesan officials in a “very urgent plea” to get the priest some help, they responded by transferring Dunne to a parish 25 miles away in Montgomery County, the records show. 

Prosecutors say the files on Dunne and other priests suggest Lynn and other church leaders had long recognized the signs and depth of clergy sex abuse but chose not to act.

“Dr. Tyrrell stated quite bluntly that we are sitting on a powder keg,” an assistant archdiocesan chancellor, the Rev. John Graf, wrote in a February 1989 memo.  Tyrell warned that Dunne had an overnight camping trip with boys and other behavior typical of pedophile “grooming.” He advised church officials to remove Dunne from active ministry and bar his contact with children. Dunne remained in his post and abandoned treatment.

Remind me again - why does ANYONE continue to listen to a single thing that the Catholic bishops and hierarchy have to say given the depths of the depravity that they knowingly countenanced and tried to cover up?   These foul men are nothing less than criminal conspirators who belong behind bars.