Saturday, June 30, 2012

Obama’s Swing-Voter Victory

The dust is still settling from Thursday's ruling on what the Republicans and Mitt "Liar-n-Chief" Romney derogatorily call Obamacare.   While the ruling will keep the delusional tin foil hat wearing Tea Party crowd energized, the big question is whether with the ACA's constitutionality now decided, swing voters will become sufficiently educated on the act to realize that many of them should like the various provisions of the act.  And with health care premiums continuing to soar, if costs are not contained, they will be paying much more for less without ACA.  Obama needs to hammer on this point and the fact that the GOP has no proposal of how they'd replace "Obamacare."  Repeal does nothing to  address the problem.  I hope that Obama and the Democrats hit home on this every time the GOP dredges up Obamacare ovver the four months.  A column in The Daily Beast looks at how continuing to harp on Obamacare may actually help Obama.  Here are highlights:

What’s the next important thing to look for? The verdict of independent voters in the coming batch of polls about the Supreme Court decision, which I expect we’ll start seeing next week. Whether centrist voters are buying the rhetorical jalopy Mitt Romney is trying to sell them will be key here. I think most of them won’t. The reason is not only that Romney’s claims are so utterly bogus and hypocritical. It also has to do with what we know about how centrist and unaffiliated voters think and what matters to them. They’ll get sick and tired of “Repeal Obamacare,” and they’ll get sick and tired of it well before Election Day.

So the polls are going to ask if people approve of the decision. My guess: independents will lean in favor.  .  .  .  .  Why do I think independents will tilt slightly in favor of the court ruling and, in turn, the act now? Here we get to what matters to these voters. What matters to them is having one party check the other. Independents always, for example, want divided government. And they like it when one party checks the other.  .   .  .  .  The check was performed, right against left, judicial against executive, and Obama was vindicated. The fight is over. Let’s move on. That’s where I think most true swing voters will land. To perform one more mathematical slice—roughly 60 percent of the 7 percent.

This next round of the Obamacare battle will be a crucial and fascinating test of the degree to which the “America died Thursday” dead-ender base controls Romney. So far he’s done nothing but play to it, with his lies about the alleged Medicare cuts and tax increases and all the rest. But there are limits on what he can say, and he and the Republicans in Congress won’t be able to attack the health law in the same way. The congressional Republicans can get away with talking only about repeal, but a presidential candidate has to talk about the replace part, and on that, Romney has nothing to say.

But the more the Republicans pound away at the law, the more they holler about tyranny and freedom, the more Romney vows repeal on day one of his administration—the more they and he will seem completely out of it to a country that, believe it or not, doesn’t want to fight about this thing forever, and doesn’t want another summer of rage like we had in 2009.
I hope the columnist's analysis is on point.  Oh, and for the record, I support a single payer/national health care plan.  It could not be any more inefficient that what we have without reform and it could finally address the horrific lack of preventive care in this county.

Reflections on "Magic Mike"

The boyfriend and I had dinner with some friends and then went and saw the new release"Magic Mike".  What was lacking in the plot was more than made up by the eye candy.  Believe me, not much is left to the imagination with some of the stripper costumes.  And it goes without saying that I'm sure that both the Catholic Church and Southern Baptist Convention will put the movie on the "morally objectionable" list.  Which means the church ladies will be dying to see the movie - just like the prim women of near by Gloucester County who are overwhelming the county library with their requests for "Fifty Shades of Grey." 

This evening the theater was packed and the audience was probably 90%+ women (and us gay gays, of course).   Let's just say that the ladies in the audience really got into the mood of the strip club scenes and their reaction alone was enough to make the outing entertaining.  If you are  looking for a serious plot and drama, "Magic Mike" is not for you.  If you want some laughs and some very pretty eye candy, then it's worth the cost of the ticket.  The only real down side is that many of us will leave feeling that we REALLY need to start doing sit ups and hitting the gym.

Huffington Post has a contest where you can guess which actor belongs to which chest photo here (see the sample below). 

The Bizarre Morality of Maggie Gallagher and the Christian Right

With same sex marriage laws being place on the ballot in Washington State, Maine, Maryland and Minnesota, the Roman Catholic Church hierarchy - which I now view as part of the theocratic Christian Right (the Christofascists if you will) - the National Organization for Marriage and many other "family values organizations will be spending many millions of dollars aimed at the sole purpose of keeping same sex love and relationships inferior under the civil laws of these states.  Millions of dollars that ought to be spent fulling the Gospel message, not persecuting other human beings.  The image above from Andrew Sullivan's blog hit home with me and made me ask myself WTF is wrong with these self-congratulatory "godly Christians?"  Here are details that go with the image above:

A Sudanese mother holds her baby waiting for food at a malnutrition and feeding center at the Yida refugee camp along the border with North Sudan June 29, 2012 in Yida, South Sudan. Yida refugee camp has swollen to nearly 60,000 as the refugees flee from South Kordofan in North Sudan. The rainy season has increased the numbers of sick children suffering from diarrhea and severe malnutrition as the international aid community struggles to provide basic assistance to the growing population, with most arriving with only the clothes they are wearing. Many of the new arrivals walked up to 2 weeks or more to reach the camp. By Paula Bronstein/Getty Images.
I find it stunning that increasingly, conservative Christians seem to be the antithesis of what the Gospel message is about.  The same goes for their political prostitutes in the GOP as summarized in the image below.Am I wrong?

Saturday Morning Male Beauty

France to Legalise Gay Marriage in 2013

France is poised to join modern and progressive nations that recognize full same sex CIVIL law marriage.  Meanwhile, the GOP and the Christian Taliban in America strive to take the nation backwards in time - preferably to a time when slavery was fine (assuming naturally the slaves were black), women knew their place and gays, of course were invisible.  But back to France.  With the election of its new government and the continued collapse of the Roman Catholic Church's influence, France will be belatedly instituting same sex marriage in 2013 and joining six other EU nations that already afford full marriage rights.  Not surprisingly, the "conservative" Catholics - who seem to have gotten their talking points from American anti-gay hate groups - are not pleased that France will be taking religious based discrimination out of its civil laws.   France 24 has details and a time line as to when the legislation will take effect.  Here are highlights:

France’s new Socialist government is to legalise same-sex marriage next year, a junior minister said on Friday, reflecting a shift in public attitudes in the majority Catholic nation.  President Francois Hollande, who took office last month, had pledged to legalise gay marriage and adoption during his election campaign but had given no timeframe.

Since Hollande’s Socialists won an absolute majority in parliamentary elections two weeks ago, the conservative UMP party, which had opposed the measure under former president Nicolas Sarkozy, can do little to stop it.  "Within a year, people of the same sex will be able to marry and adopt children together," Dominique Bertinotti, junior minister for families, told the daily Le Parisien. "They will have the same rights and duties as any married couple."

A law granting full marriage status to gay couples would bring France, which currently provides only for same-sex civil unions, into line with fellow EU members Denmark, Portugal, Spain, Belgium, the Netherlands and Sweden.

It would also mark a profound change in French society, where more than two-thirds of people still describe themselves as Roman Catholic, according to a 2010 survey by pollster Ifop.  However, fewer and fewer of them adhere to strict Roman Catholic teachings on sexual issues or back the Vatican’s condemnation of homosexuality. Church attendance has collapsed.

As recently as 2006, surveys indicated that most French were opposed to changing the definition of marriage, but now more than 60 percent support the idea, the pollster BVA said. A majority also favour allowing gay couples to adopt children.

Still, there is certain to be opposition from conservatives and practising Catholics.  "We are convinced that young people’s development requires the presence of a mother and a father," said Thierry Vidor, head of the Familles de France umbrella group, which represents some 70,000 families, and campaigns for traditional family rights.  "We will take action to try to show that this measure is ultimately dangerous for society."

Would that these sheep would take action to demand accountability from the child rapist enablers and protectors in the Vatican and throughout the Church hierarchy.  But then again, such action would be truly consistent with  real concern about children as opposed to an excuse for anti-gay bigotry.  Thus, such action will not happen.

GOP/Boehner Appeals DOMA Cases to Supreme Court

The Republican Party quest to keep LGBT Americans inferior under the civil laws seems to never end.  With so many pressing problems facing the United States what do John Boehner and his fellow homophobes/Christianist political whores worry about?  DOMA and keeping our relationships inferior under the law and depriving LGBT couples of the thousand some rights attached to the word "marriage."  And people wonder why I can't be a Republican - not, of course, that there aren't countless other reasons besides the anti-gay agenda of the GOP.   Why would I ever support a party that literally wants to harm me?  The Washington Blade looks at Boehner latest effort to stigmatize and keep gays 4th class citizens as he files an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court in the Court of Appeals rulings that have seen DOMA down in flames as unconstitutional.  Here are highlights:

House Speaker John Boehner’s (R-Ohio) attorneys on Friday formally appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court an appeals court decision determining the Defense of Marriage Act was unconstitutional.

Drew Hammill, spokesperson for House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), told the Washington Blade on Friday afternoon Republicans had notified Democratic leadership that House counsel filed an appeal to the Supreme Court.

The court ruling that was appealed was the First Circuit Court of Appeals decision in the cases of Gill v. Office of Personnel Management, which was filed by Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders, and Commonwealth of Massachusetts v. Department of Health & Human Services. On May 31, the appellate court issued a decision that Section 3 of DOMA, which prohibits federal recognition of same-sex marriage, was unconstitutional as a result of both cases.

In a statement, Pelosi slammed Boehner for continuing to assert the constitutionality of DOMA, saying the appeal is a decision that will “waste more taxpayer funds to advance a position rejected by four different courts and to defend discrimination and inequality before the highest court in the land.”

“Democrats have rejected the Republican assault on equal rights, in the courts and in Congress,” Pelosi said. “We believe there is no federal interest in denying LGBT couples the same rights and responsibilities afforded to all couples married under state law. And we are confident that the Supreme Court, if it considers the case, will declare DOMA unconstitutional and relegate it to the dustbin of history once and for all.”

In the filing, Boehner’s attorneys present two questions to the Supreme Court: (1) Whether Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act violates the equal protection component of the Due Process Clause of the Fifth Amendment; and (2) Whether the court below erred by inventing and applying to Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act a previously unknown standard of equal protection review.
Now that Boehner’s attorneys have filed an appeal, there will be 30 days for plaintiffs to file an opposition to the motion. It would then be left to the court to decide whether to grant cert, or hear the case. There isn’t a timeline for that, but it won’t happen while the court is in summer recess.

Let's be honest.  This appeal represents yet another case of the GOP prostituting itself to the Christofascists and their unrelenting hated of LGBT people who fail to conform to the Christofascists fear and hate based religious beliefs.  The Christofascists simple cannot tolerate any court rulings that diminish their special privileges to persecute gays through the civil laws.  DOMA is in the last analysis religious based discrimination that demands that LGBT couples be afforded unequal treatment under the law. 

Friday, June 29, 2012

Friday Morning Male Beauty

The Idiocy of the GOP Base

Click image to enlarge
One last comment on yesterday's Supreme Court ruling.  Some of the untethered crazies of the far right who have been acting like the world is ending because of the health care ruling have said they emigrate to Canada.  As the image above underscores, these fools obviously know nothing about Canada - other than it has a majority Caucasian population - and must be Fox News viewers.  The further irony is that many of the same loons claim America's hard times are because of it's Godlessness.  If that's the case, then Canada ought to be suffering something akin to nuclear winter.  Of course, it's not and it's banks and economy are stronger than here in the USA. 

The Health Care Ruling - The Real Winners

I am repeatedly dumbfounded by the way in which the GOP manages to use its anti-tax mantra or its claimed devotion to conservative Christianity - white conservative Christianity, of course - to dupe the biased and downright stupid into supporting policies and laws that are decidedly against their own best interests.  The Founding Fathers recognized the importance of an informed electorate and sadly, with most of the right getting their news from outlets like Fox News and the Drudge Report, the have no clue as to what is really going on most of the time (remember the study that found regular Fox News viewers less informed on issues than those who did not watch any news programs regularly?).  In a column in the New York Times Paul Krugman lays out the winners under yesterdays health care ruling and compares the costs with the GOP tax cuts for the wealthy.  Guess which one costs the government more.  Here are highlights:

There will, no doubt, be many headlines declaring this a big victory for President Obama, which it is. But the real winners are ordinary Americans — people like you. 
How many people are we talking about? You might say 30 million, the number of additional people the Congressional Budget Office says will have health insurance thanks to Obamacare. But that vastly understates the true number of winners because millions of other Americans — including many who oppose the act — would have been at risk of being one of those 30 million. 

So add in every American who currently works for a company that offers good health insurance but is at risk of losing that job (and who isn’t in this world of outsourcing and private equity buyouts?); every American who would have found health insurance unaffordable but will now receive crucial financial help; every American with a pre-existing condition who would have been flatly denied coverage in many states. 

In short, unless you belong to that tiny class of wealthy Americans who are insulated and isolated from the realities of most people’s lives, the winners from that Supreme Court decision are your friends, your relatives, the people you work with — and, very likely, you.  

But what about the cost? Put it this way: the budget office’s estimate of the cost over the next decade of Obamacare’s “coverage provisions” — basically, the subsidies needed to make insurance affordable for all — is about only a third of the cost of the tax cuts, overwhelmingly favoring the wealthy, that Mitt Romney is proposing over the same period. 

So the law that the Supreme Court upheld is an act of human decency that is also fiscally responsible. It’s not perfect, by a long shot — it is, after all, originally a Republican plan,  .  .  .  .  

Which brings us to the nature of the people who tried to kill health reform — and who will, of course, continue their efforts despite this unexpected defeat.   At one level, the most striking thing about the campaign against reform was its dishonesty. Remember “death panels”?  .   .   .   .   the unscrupulous nature of the campaign against reform was exceptional. And, rest assured, all the old lies and probably a bunch of new ones will be rolled out again in the wake of the Supreme Court’s decision. 

But what was and is really striking about the anti-reformers is their cruelty. It would be one thing if, at any point, they had offered any hint of an alternative proposal to help Americans with pre-existing conditions, Americans who simply can’t afford expensive individual insurance, Americans who lose coverage along with their jobs. But it has long been obvious that the opposition’s goal is simply to kill reform, never mind the human consequences. 

The point is that this isn’t over — not on health care, not on the broader shape of American society. The cruelty and ruthlessness that made this court decision such a nail-biter aren’t going away.

Yes, note the cruelty of opponents.  In their minds those who can't afford coverage or who cannot obtain coverage are merely disposable.  Human trash, if you will.  And what's chilling is that most of these opponents are the ones who claim to support  "family values" and wear their religiosity on their sleeves.  The biggest threat to compassion and decency in this country comes from Christian conservatives many of whom make the Pharisees of the Gospel look like very upright and virtuous people.

American Far Right Funding Anti-Gay Hate in Europe

There have been numerous articles that trace ant-gay hate and bigotry to far right "Christian" organizations and in Uganda, it is very evident that American hate groups have done their best to fuel anti-gay rhetoric and animus.  Now reports out of Europe suggest that similar efforts are being made on that continent and that just like the National Organization for Marriage these "family values" organizations are hiding the sources of their funding. Personally, I'm not surprised since we've seen the Christianists seeking to export "reparative" therapy and the "ex-gay" fraud to European nations, particularly the United Kingdom.  EU Observer has a piece that looks at some of these nefarious organizations.  Here are excerpts:

BRUSSELS - Lobbyists in the EU capital opposing gay rights are in close contact with US neo-conservative organisations, raising questions about where their money comes from. The lobbyists themselves deny any funding comes from overseas.  One such lobby group is European Dignity Watch, founded in 2010, advocating "life, the family and fundamental freedoms."

It rallies against abortion, euthanasia, but most ardently against gay rights. It accuses the European Parliament of pressuring member states into legalising same-sex marriage, and the European Commission of bias for hosting a pro-gay photo exhibition.  .  .  .  .   Its president, Jorge Soley, is a well-known figure within the European Christian-conservative movement.

For his part, Michael Cashman, British centre-left MEP and co-president of the parliament's LGBT intergroup, says he finds it "deeply worrying" that the organisation does not disclose the origin of its funding.  "[Its] proximity to neo-conservative funds and think-tanks leaves no doubt as to their raison d'ĂȘtre: they want to export the culture wars to Europe, along with an ultra-conservative agenda," he told EUobserver in an e-mail.

One lobbyist who leaves little doubt about the origin of his pay-check is Vienna-based Roger Kiska, EU representative of the Alliance Defense Fund, a US network of lawyers "defending the right to hear and speak the Truth."   .   .   .   .   One of his 'victories' is a proposed EU anti-discrimination law which continues to be blocked by a number of member states. "A lot of people did well," he says, not wanting to take the credit.

Apparently the haters are not satisfied with making Christianity synonymous with hate and bigotry in America but now seek to do the same thing across the Atlantic.  Conservative Christianity - like fundamentalist Islam - is a cancer that needs to be stopped.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

More Thursday Male Beauty

California Bill to Ban Reparative Therapy Advances in General Assembly

Today was another bad day for the charlatans and Christofascists who market the snake oil known as "reparative therapy."  Why?  Because today the California General Assembly’s Committee on Business, Professions And Consumer Protection voted 5-2 to endorse S.B. 1172, a bill to protect LGBT persons from harmful, fraudulent therapy.   Would that every state would follow California's lead and end these bogus "ministries" that prey on the ignorant and desperate and enrich themselves and their "professional ex-gays" who frankly make tawdry whores look virtuous in comparison.  Some of the testimony before the Committee was from those who had been forced into reparative therapy against their will by their parents.  Here are highlights from the New Civil Rights Movement:

California General Assembly’s Committee on Business, Professions And Consumer Protection voted 5-2 to endorse S.B. 1172, a bill to protect LGBT persons from the harmful “treatment.” The measure now heads to the full Assembly.

Senate Bill 1172 would prohibit a psychotherapist from engaging in sexual orientation change efforts with a minor patient, regardless of a parent’s willingness or desire to authorize such “treatments.” The bill passed the Senate in May and now is being considered in the Assembly.

Ryan Kendall [pictured above], a fact witness in Perry v. Schwarzenegger  .   .   .   .   testified before the California State Assembly today in support of Senate Bill 1172, a measure that would ban “sexual orientation conversion “treatment”.

 Kendall was forced into “reparative” therapy at 14 years of age by his parents when they  discovered he was gay after reading his diary. He spent about a year and half in this conversion therapy with Dr. Joseph Nicolosi, then-executive director of NARTH (National Association for Reparative Therapy of Homosexuality) and a so-called therapist, via weekly phone sessions, before he eventually ran away from home and arranged to have himself legally declared “independent” of his parents. Nicolosi asserts that persons can be successfully “cured of being gay” and can resume happy heterosexual lives.

Kendall’s testimony follows:

As a young teen, the anti-gay practice of so-called conversion therapy destroyed my life and tore apart my family. In order to stop the therapy that misled my parents into believing that I could somehow be made straight, I was forced to run away from home, surrender myself to the local department of human services, and legally separate myself from my family.

I am here today because as a young teenager I dreamed that one day adults would pass legislation to protect people like me. I am here because youth subjected to these discredited therapies deserve a voice in the room. They are the ones living the trauma and horror that conversion therapy inflicts on people for no reason, with no evidence, merely because of who they are. If any of these youth are listening, they should know that there is nothing wrong with them; they are perfect, beautiful, and deserving of love.

Today, this committee is faced with a simple choice – to side with the forces of anti-gay intolerance and junk science, or to stand up for LGBT youth who deserve our protection. These kids are worth it.

Reparative therapy needs to be banned world wide and, in my view, those who promote it need to be sued for damages by their victims.

Washington Post on Health Care Ruling: A Ruling That’s Good for the Country

The main Washington Post editorial on today's ruling by the Supreme Court summarizes why the ruling is good for the country.  And that's not even factoring in how the provision of health care coverage for the poor and those with pre-existing conditions is in full accord with the Gospel message. I truly had feared that the extremism - dare I say insanity? - of Antonin Scalia might prevail and tens of millions of Americans would have been relegated to the status of disposable trash.  Ironically, I saw an SPCA ad while blogging and the way in which the GOP and its "godly Christian" supporters relegate so many Americans to a status akin to animals scheduled for euthanizing  truck me as telling.  Conservatism - or at least today's version under the GOP and the Christofascists - is truly evil.  It's all about greed and hording one's possessions and money and an utter disregard for the common humanity of other citizens.  Here are highligts for the Post editorial:

THE SUPREME COURT’S 5 to 4 decision upholding the core of the Affordable Care Act is good news for the court and the country. Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. was statesmanlike in choosing to side with four more liberal justices in finding that the law’s most controversial provision, the mandate that individuals obtain health insurance, was a constitutional exercise of Congress’s power “to lay and collect taxes.”

[R]ather than use that finding to invalidate the law, as his four colleagues would have done, Justice Roberts cited precedent that instructs the court to resort to “every reasonable construction” that may “save a statute from unconstitutionality.” 

In so doing, he also protected the court itself. It avoided playing the uncomfortable role of overturning a legislative solution four decades in the making, full of choices and tradeoffs among competing approaches and goals.

In the only defeat for the administration, the court curtailed the government’s power to compel states to expand coverage under the joint federal-state Medicaid program for the poor. 

Even if President Obama is reelected, many practical questions remain. Is the penalty — now tax — imposed on those who fail to obtain insurance big enough to induce the uninsured to buy coverage? Are insurers permitted to charge different enough premiums based on age? These, and many more, are important practical questions whose answers will become known only now that the court, wisely, has allowed the law to go forward.

In an editorial Thursday, we said that many Americans would be watching the court to see whether, at a time of extreme partisanship, it could craft a decision that impressed as an act of law, not politics. In our view, the court passed that test of legitimacy. Now the arguments over Obamacare can continue where they are best fought out, in the political arena.

Republicans: Et tu, John Roberts?

Today was a crazy day at the office with a large commercial closing and chaos with the installation with a new computer system server.  Hence, until now, I haven't had a chance to comment on today's stunning surprise of this morning's U.S. Supreme Court ruling upholding "Obamacare" as the wingnuts like to call it.  It's been fun watching the far right and the Tea Party go utterly berserk over the ruling and seeing Chief Justice Roberts be viewed as a Judas by the Kool-Aid drinkers.  As I noted last night - especially if one claims to give any deference to the Gospel message - it is a national disgrace that so many Americans are viewed as human trash by the Republican Party ans its Christofascist base.  Worse yet, Americans who do have health care coverage pay literally twice or more the costs paid for more expansive health care in every other industrialized nation.  A piece in Politico looks at the shock and spewing spittle among Republicans over what they view as Justice Roberts' betrayal.  Here are highlights:

Republicans on Capitol Hill were in a state of shock Thursday that Chief Justice John Roberts, their longtime ally on the court, sided with liberals in upholding the health care law.

I thought he was the champion of limited government,” Rep. Joe Wilson (R-S.C.) told POLITICO. Wilson famously yelled “You lie!” to the president during his 2009 health care speech before a joint session of Congress.
 Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) said he was “surprised” by Roberts and “uneasy” about the court’s interpretation that the individual mandate was constitutional as a tax, but not under the Constitution’s Commerce Clause. Sessions was struggling to understand how Roberts reached that key conclusion.
“I am stunned and shocked, somewhat confused, by the decision, by the nature of the decision, by the nature of the majority and by the nature of the reasoning,” said Sen. David Vitter (R-La.) on the floor. Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah), a tea party favorite, also described himself as “shocked” by the turn of events.

And, grasping for an explanation, Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) remarked: “As a lawyer, I can see where Roberts is concerned about the institution and maybe that explains it?
Roberts — the architect of the 2010 Citizens United ruling that opened the door to unlimited spending by outside groups in elections and a frequent boogeyman of the left — joined the court’s four liberal justices in saying that Congress had the authority to force most Americans to buy health insurance through its constitutional powers of taxation. The court’s three conservative justices, along with swing vote Anthony Kennedy, voted to strike down the law in its entirety.
Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), a frequent critic of Roberts’s decisions in the court, said he sees this week’s decisions as “efforts by the chief justice to move the court back to the center line when it came to political neutraility.”

“The earlier decision in Bush v. Gore and Citizens United raise serious questions about the drift by the court,” Durbin said. “Some of the comments being made by Justice [Antonin] Scalia from the bench, where it sounded he was just quoting Fox News verbatim, really didn’t enhance the image of the court in the mind of the American public.”

We may never know what ultimately motivated Roberts.  It may be something as simple as the fact that he realized that the health care system before ACA in this country was broken and morally wrong.  Some suggest that Scalia's obnoxiousness and extremism may have tilted Roberts' decision.  Whatever the cause, I am glad that Justice Roberts put the nation and lies of millions of citizens ahead of partisan politics and greed. 

Thursday Morning Male Beauty

Exodus International is Still Dangerous and Wrong

Exodus International and its "ex-gays" for pay claim that they are moving away from making claims that so-called reparative therapy but that the organization will continue to "simply focus on helping clients reconcile their anti-gay beliefs" and helping them live lives of celibacy or sham marriages to straight spouses.  The approach is in my opinion totally ass backwards.  Exodus ought to be focusing on helping clients understand the wrongness of their anti-gay brainwashing and helping them find gay accepting denominations.  Of course, if Exodus did this, the money pipeline from the anti-gay hate groups that masquerade as "family values" or "Christian" organizations would stop in a heart beat.  And then - Heaven forbid - folks like Alan Chambers (pictured above) would have to find real jobs. Not to mention get over their own psychological damage.  Think Progress looks at this hypocritical shift by Exodus and its "professional ex-gays".  Here are excerpts:

Media outlets across the country have published an Associated Press story today claiming, “Christian group backs away from ex-gay therapy.” Exodus International, an umbrella organization for various ex-gay ministries, is rebranding itself by no longer trying to “cure” people of homosexuality. According to its president, Alan Chambers, the group will now simply focus on helping clients reconcile their anti-gay beliefs (internalized homophobia) by embracing celibacy or marrying an opposite-sex partner despite their same-sex orientation, like Chambers himself did.

By so generously granting Chambers’ premise, the AP completely ignores the actual intention of ex-gay therapy. In 1973, the American Psychiatric Association decided that homosexuality was no longer a mental illness. This meant therapists were to no longer treat homosexuality as a problem itself, but to instead help people reconcile the reality of their innate sexual orientation. It was only after — and because of — this decision that the first ex-gay ministry, Love in Action, began. From its integration into Exodus International in 1976 to the first introduction of the term “ex-gay” in 1980, these ministries have always been founded in the dangerous idea that being gay is a problem to be addressed, repressed, or circumvented.

In this regard, nothing has changed at Exodus. At its core, the organization clearly still believes that homosexuality is the cause of a person’s struggles, not the anti-gay society in which they live. Regardless of how these therapists attempt to treat homosexuality, they are still causing harm by trying to treat it at all — in complete violation of all social science research and ethics.

This disingenuous rebranding of ex-gay therapy away from a “cure” is not unique to Exodus. The Mormon contingent of the ex-gay movement has similarly been suggesting that just because a person has same-sex attractions doesn’t mean they have to identify as gay. Focus on the Family is still encouraging gay people to “resist same-sex attraction.”  .   .  .  . It’s not an exaggeration to say they are all simply advocating that people lie to themselves to conform to heteronormativity.

To many, ex-gay therapy may be a fringe practice, or a difference of opinion that isn’t particularly risky to those who might choose it. The truth is that the false belief that sexual orientation is not innate is at the root of all anti-gay beliefs, and nothing can rebrand the harm caused by that ignorance.

These ministries are poisonous and do a disservice to both the tortured "ex-gays" and the straight spouses duped into marrying them.  But then, the Christofascists care nothing about the damage they do to people.

Why "Sin" Needs to be Taken Out of Homosexuality

As anyone reading this blog for any time period knows, I have absolutely no use for those who hang onto a few passages from the Bible to support their ignorant and bigoted view that homosexuality is a "sin."  Especially since EVERY legitimate medical and mental health association in the country says it's something natural and not a "choice."  Thus one can selectively cling to the myths authored by ignorant, uneducated Bronze age herders (who authored all kinds of other batshitery that the pious ones now conveniently ignore) or one can accept objective fact and scientific knowledge.  Unfortunately, we know which option the Christofascists, the Catholic Church leadership and the professional Christians have chosen.  And this deliberate decision to make sinful what is not has deadly consequences.  I've known young gay men who ended their own lives because they could not deal with this "sin" which they never sought out.  In an interview, Tyler Clementi's parents seem to belatedly discovered the deadly consequences of putting religious based ignorance and prejudice ahead of knowledge and decency towards others.   Here are highlights from Rock Center with Brian Williams: 

Tyler Clementi’s parents, Jane and Joe Clementi, and his older brother James told Rock Center exclusively that Tyler was struggling with many issues before his death. But they believe Ravi’s decision to spy on Tyler during a sexual encounter with another man in his dorm room played a role in the suicide. They also say they have changed their views on homosexuality in the wake of their son’s death.

‘Whatever underlying depressions or pains that were going on with [Tyler], that was straw that broke the camel’s back and that was the thing that pushed him to the breaking point,” James Clementi told NBC’s Lester Holt in an interview scheduled to air Thursday, June 28 at 10pm/9c.

“I think it was – it was the humiliation that his roommates and his dorm mates were watching him in a very intimate act and that they were laughing behind his back,” said Jane Clementi. “The last thing that Tyler looked at before he left the dorm room for the bridge was the Twitter page, where Ravi was announcing Tyler's activities.”

Last week, Ravi walked out of a county jail after having served just 20 days. To the Clementis, the punishment was far too lenient.  “I think the judge sent a clear message to other prosecutors,” said Jane Clementi. “This isn't worthwhile. There are no consequences for these actions.”
But the Clementis also say they realize their son was wrestling with demons unrelated to the spying incident. Just weeks before he left home to attend Rutgers he told his mother he was gay. She says the news “shocked” her, in part because of her strong Christian faith. Since then she says she’s gone from “point A” in her beliefs “to point B.”

“Was that point A, the point of "homosexuality is a sin?" asked Holt.

“Well, yes,” Mrs. Clementi answered. “And of trying to just accept it.”

She said she also realizes that Tyler may have misread her reaction during their conversation. He later texted a friend that his mother had rejected him after he came out to her.  “It just was like a dagger,” Mrs. Clementi said. “And that took me a long time to process. Because I did not think I had rejected him.”

Now, Jane Clementi says she and her family are trying to help gay teens win greater acceptance through the foundation they’ve started in Tyler’s honor. Clementi’s parents say they hope The Tyler Clementi Foundation will discourage cyber bullying and the notion that they themselves once held that homosexuality is a sin.

“Sin needs to be taken out of homosexuality,” said Joe Clementi. “Our children need to understand – and adults need to understand – that they're not broken.”

What's truly broken are religions that seem obsessed with condemning others and Christians who make the term "Christian" a filthy word best associated with hate and bigotry.  As for parents, if your religion condemns your child, you need to immediately find a new religion.

Romney’s Failure on Immigration

As one Congressman illustrated in a display in the House floor where he showed photos of Hispanic looking celebrities and notables who were U.S. citizens in contrast to others who were "white" looking immigrants and/or not citizens, picking who is the immigrant and possibly illegally in the country is often little more than racial profiling.  And candidly, Arizona's immigration statute was all about racism at its base.  Thus, a bold response condemning racist immigration policy was needed.  Yet Mitt Romney failed the test.  Most likely because his party's base is increasingly made up of racists and bigots.  In the Washington Post, Michael Gerson - a conservative - slams Romney's failed leadership and boldness on the immigration issue that simply is not going to go away and which as the nation's demographics change will increasingly hurt the GOP's electoral chances.  Here are highlights: 

[T]he [Supreme] court’s immigration decision — and Mitt Romney’s positioning on the issue — that throws the brightest light on the presidential race. And the glare is not kind to the challenger.

Romney is being careful and reasonable on immigration in the midst of a five-alarm political fire. Latino support for Republicans has been dropping since conservatives blocked President George W. Bush’s attempt at comprehensive immigration reform. Romney accelerated the descent by pledging to veto the Dream Act as president. His polling among Hispanics now bumps along at about 25 percent — a level that seems inconsistent with winning Colorado, Nevada or perhaps even Florida. 

On immigration, President Obama’s boldness of late has been Napoleonic. The French emperor is hardly a model for a democratic statesman, given the coup of 18 Brumaire and all that. But he knew how to throw his strength at an opponent’s weak point at a decisive moment — which Obama did with his mini-Dream Act. It was a questionable use of executive power. But after weeks of political stumbles, Obama proved capable of an audacious stroke. And it is not likely to be his last. A campaign proud of its micro-targeting has plenty of demographic groups left to motivate.

The contrast is instructive. The Obama campaign is often tactically weak — an exercise in endless speeches, overmatched spokesmen, blame-shifting and expectations-lowering. But the president is capable of ambitious repositioning.

[I]t should concern Republicans that the Romney campaign has shown little appetite for strategic boldness — the ability to shift an argument, exploit a weakness or appeal to an unexpected audience. Immigration is the most urgent example, but there are others. What innovative policy has Romney announced to reassure suburban women? Or to drive home his appeal to Catholic voters, whom Obama seems intent on alienating? Or to persuade working-class voters that he is committed not just to economic freedom but also to upward mobility?

This absence of strategic ambition may reflect a strategy — that the election should be only a referendum on the Obama economy. If so, it is a serious mistake. Very few coast to the presidency based on the failures of others.

Admittedly, Romney's problem is the extremism of today's GOP.  In order to win other voters, Romney will have to take positions that are anathema to the prejudice and bigotry filled GOP base.  So far, Romney has pandered to that base rather than expand his appeal.  Hopefully, it will be a fatal mistake.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

More Wednesday Male Beauty

Second Guessing the Supreme Court on the Health Care Ruling

I've mad it pretty clear that I favor a continuation of what the GOP likes to deride as "Obamacare."  In fact, I'd go even further and state that we need a single payer nationalized system along the lines of France and some other European countries that pay far less over all for health care, have quality health care delivery and provide preventive care.  Nothing less will force the medical professions, hospital systems that play monopoly like games with hospitals and referring physicians to stop raping those with health insurance to make up for the millions of Americans who have no health care coverage.  Andrew Sullivan looks at what some of the predictions on tomorrow's Supreme Court ruling will look like. 

SCOTUSBlog's Tom Goldstein bets the mandate will survive:
I believe the mandate will not be invalidated tomorrow. Far less important, I expect the principal opinion will be written by the Chief Justice; a majority of the Court will find it has jurisdiction; and the challenge to the Medicaid expansion will be rejected.
Tomasky differs:
This is easy. I take the darkest and most cynical possible view of the conservative majority; I believe, as I've written, that they are politicians in robes (with the partial exception of Kennedy); as such, I believe that they will behave here like politicians, and they will render the decision that will inflict the maximum possible political damage on Obama and the Democrats. That means overturning the mandate 5-4.
Walter Dellinger bets they'll split the baby:
[A] compulsory mandate would be unconstitutional but a financial incentive that leaves the choice to the individual would be OK. The practical effect would be to uphold all the operative provisions of the Affordable Care Act, while firmly planting a liberty flag that would limit future Congresses.
Andrew's own prediction:   It will strike down the mandate alone.

I don't presume to know, especially given the partisanship behavior of Roberts, Scalia, Alito and Thomas.   Personally, I simply know that what we had before the AHA was totally inefficient cost wise and broken and not working for many millions of Americans. If AHA is struck down, something needs to be done to deal with the broken health care system.  It's unfortunate that many voters cannot grasp that we are already paying for the uninsured through hospital bills that are sky high compared to the rest of the world and a system that ignores preventive care and puts off treatment until hugely expensive catastrophic illness has developed. For the same over all expenditure we could have a system that doesn't treat far too many citizens as disposable garbage and could rein in costs for those with health care coverage.

New Campaign Ad Highlights Obama's LGBT Rights Efforts

While it will surely cause lots of flying spittle and near convulsions among the Christofascists and their political whores within the GOP -  including Mitt "I Had Five Great Grandmothers" Romney - a new Obama campaign ad is highlighting the advances in LGBT rights that have taken place in Obama's first term - even if often in reaction to fears that the LGBT ATM might be closed down.   The associated video (set out below) is entitled "Keeping His Word: Equality for LGBT Americans"  and includes references toObama's signing the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act and repealing Don't Ask, Don't Tell.

Obama's positions needless to say are in sharp contrast to those of Mitt Romney which I summarized in a post earlier in the week:

Romney, of course, opposes marriage equality. Romney supports DOMA. Romney has pledged to write anti-gay bigotry into the U.S. Constitution. Romney opposed the repeal of DADT. Romney opposes the federal Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA). Romney opposes adoptions by same-sex couples
One can only assume that Obama is seeking to play to the majority of Americans who now support marriage equality.  A group that includes Hispanic voters, the youth vote, a majority of Roman Catholics and a majority of moderates.     In contrast, Romney's positions pander to religious fanatics and aging white bigots.  Given the GOP's increasing religious extremism and racism one has to wonder when being a card carrying member of the KKK or membership in Opus Dei or the Southern Baptist Convention will become a prerequisite for GOP membership (of course, a lobotomy might soon also be a prerequisite)..


Anti-Gay Bigot Jennifer Keeton Gets Another Judicial Smack Down

It's been a while since I wrote about Jennifer Keeton (pictured at right) - the former student at Augusta State University in Georgia who was kicked out of that university's Counselor Education Program because she refused to participate in counseling sessions with gay patients. Gays, you see, purportedly are offensive to Keeton's Christian faith.   Not surprisingly, Keeton advocates that gays subject themselves to reparative therapy - a form of therapy condemned by every legitimate medical and mental health association in America.  

Following her dismissal, Ms. Keeton quickly became the darling of Christofascists and filed a federal lawsuit alleging that she was suffering from discrimination because of her religious beliefs.  This week a federal court handed down its ruling that dismissed all of Keeton's claims.  That's right, every one of them.  The full 65 page opinion can be viewed here.  Keeton's case is but one of many examples of far right Christians demanding special rights that would allow them to trample of the civil rights of those they dislike be they gay, non-Christian, etc.  Fortunately, the Court saw her claims to be unadulterated bullshit and bigotry.  Here are some highlight's from the Court's ruling:

The central issue before the Court, though by no means simple, is straightforward - that is, whether, according to Keeton's allegations, the actions of ASU faculty and officials and the policies they relied upon trespassed boundaries set by the First and Fourteenth Amendments. Applying the prevailing law to the facts alleged, the Court concludes that they did not.

Keeton contends that the challenged policies are overbroad and operate to chill protected speech by discouraging her and other students from exercising First Amendment expressive rights for fear of penalty. The Court disagrees.

On their face the challenged policies target only professional conduct, not expressive activity as such. To illustrate, each of the challenged provisions under the ACA and ASCA Codes targets professional personnel, either "counselors" or "the professional school counselor."  .  .  .  .  Because neither the text of the challenged policies nor the factual allegations put forth by Keeton give rise to a realistic and substantial threat to protected speech, her First Amendment overbreadth claim is DISMISSED.

The imposition of a counselor's personal values in the context of the counseling profession, particularly within the bounds of the counselor-client relationship, is antithetical to the primary responsibilities of the counselor as set out in both the ACA and ASCA Codes (and incorporated into the Counselor Program Handbook),
and this conduct is expressly and plainly forbidden.  .   .  .  the Court merely holds that the language of the challenged policies is not unconstitutionally vague as applied to Keeton's conduct, and therefore her facial due process challenge to those policies fails as a matter of law and must be DISMISSED.

Keeton first claims that she was discriminated against because her speech was issued from a Christian viewpoint. In support of this position, she maintains that the remediation plan "limited the viewpoints she could express, denigrated her religiously-based views, and punished her for comments she made" to faculty members. .  .  .  .  When read as a whole, Keeton's allegations show only that "the remediation plan was imposed because she expressed an intent to impose her personal religious views on her clients, in violation of the ACA Code of Ethics, and that the objective of the remediation plan was to teach her how to effectively counsel GLTBQ clients in accordance with the ACA Code of Ethics."

Keeton's conflation of personal and professional values, or at least her difficulty in discerning the difference, appears to have been rooted in her opinion that the immorality of homosexual relations is a matter of objective and absolute moral truth. The policies which govern the ethical conduct of counselors, however, with their focus on client welfare and self-determination, make clear that the counselor's professional environs are not intended to be a crucible for counselors to test metaphysical or moral propositions.  .   .  .  .  the Court concludes that the remediation plan is viewpoint neutral and reasonably related to ASU's legitimate pedagogical interests. The claim of viewpoint discrimination is therefore DISMISSED.

Keeton's allegations do not show that imposition of the remediation plan was substantially motivated by her personal religious views. The plan was instead imposed "because she was unwilling to comply with the ACA Code of Ethics." Keeton, 664 F.3d at 878. As a result, the retaliation claim is DISMISSED.

"Every profession has its own ethical codes and dictates," and "[wihen someone voluntarily chooses to enter a profession, he or she must comply with its rules and ethical requirements."  .   .  .  For the above reasons, Keeton's compelled speech claim is DISMISSED.

In this case, Keeton's allegations fail to show that her faith motivated the faculty's imposition of the remediation plan.  .  .  .  .  the only inferences available are that the ACA and ASCA Codes were promulgated by field experts to ensure professional counselors respect the dignity and promote the self-determination and welfare of clients; that the Codes were incorporated into the Counselor Program in large part to secure and maintain the Program's accreditation; and that the remediation plan was imposed on Keeton because her conduct violated, or threatened to violate, a core principle of the Codes, namely separation of personal and professional values. .  .  .  .  Keeton has failed to present allegations reasonably suggesting that the remediation plan was selectively imposed upon her because of her religious beliefs; therefore, her free exercise claim is DISMISSED.

Finally, Keeton claims that faculty violated her equal protection rights by intentionally discriminating against her based on her religious speech and beliefs. .  .  .  .  In this case, Keeton has failed to state an equal protection violation.  .   .  .  .  Keeton's allegations do not show that the remediation plan was imposed on the basis of her religious views. Instead, the plan served as a pedagogical tool employed to facilitate her compliance with ethical codes governing the profession she sought to join.  .   .   .  .   Given its pedagogical duty to train future counseling professionals, ASU had a rational basis for imposing the plan to ensure compliance with professional standards of conduct

I hope I haven't bored readers, but as an attorney, I like to see a well reasoned opinion.  As for Keeton, perhaps she can take up basket weaving or some other mindless pursuit.  It would seem the best option given her apparent simple mindedness.

Mitt Romney's Continuing Lies

Mitt Romney's willingness to lie and pander to religious extremists knows no limits.  The image above does a great job at underscoring this reality.  In signing NOM's marriage pledge, Romney conveniently ignored not only his own family background, but also all the polygamists in the Old Testament, not to mention the regions of the world where polygamy still occurs.  I think the man would claim that black was really white if it would get him the vote of some moron.  We do not need him in the White House - or any elected office for that matter.

Wednesday Morning Male Beauty

From Image Amplified

Republican: Voter ID Laws Are ‘Gonna Allow Governor Romney To Win’

Even though there is virtually no data to support the GOP claim that voter fraud is a problem, GOP controlled legislatures - including the Virginia General Assembly - have been aggressively passing voter ID laws to fight the non-existent problem.  Now, one GOP Congressman has been honest enough to state what the real goal of these laws has always been: diminish minority voting so that the GOP candidates - particularly Mitt Romney - have a better chance of winning.  If you're black, Hispanic or some other non-white race, they simply do not want you voting.  Think Progress looks at this candid confession by Pennsylvania Republican House Leader Mike Turzai (pictured at left).  Here are highlights:

This weekend, Pennsylvania Republican House Leader Mike Turzai (R-PA) finally admitted what so many have speculated: Voter identification efforts are meant to suppress Democratic votes in this year’s election. 

At the Republican State Committee meeting, Turzai took the stage and let slip the truth about why Republicans are so insistent on voter identification efforts — it will win Romney the election, he said:
“We are focused on making sure that we meet our obligations that we’ve talked about for years,” said Turzai in a speech to committee members Saturday. He mentioned the law among a laundry list of accomplishments made by the GOP-run legislature.

“Pro-Second Amendment? The Castle Doctrine, it’s done. First pro-life legislation – abortion facility regulations – in 22 years, done. Voter ID, which is gonna allow Governor Romney to win the state of Pennsylvania, done.”
Voter identification efforts disproportionately affect low-income voters of color, a typically Democratic demographic. Despite insistence by Republicans that the efforts are needed to prevent misconduct on election day, voter fraud is less likely than being hit by lighting

Texas GOP Makes Anti-Gay Hate Part of It's Party Platform

Apparently, the Republican Party of Texas is trying to make the Republican Party of Virginia look moderate.  Why else would it have adopted a party platform that does everything but state that LGBT citizens should either be stoned in the nearest church parking lot or expelled from the United States - or at least Texas?  The newly adopted Texas GOP platform ends any pretense that there is any recognition of the concept of the separation of church and state in the Lone Star state in GOP circles.  Indeed, the entire platform which can be found here looks like a Christianist version of Sharia law.  Some of the platform not surprisingly also shows contempt for the voting rights of minorities.  Here's a sampling of the platform's position on gays and gay civil rights (i.e., we have none):

HomosexualityWe affirm that the practice of homosexuality tears at the fabric of society and contributes to the breakdown of the family unit. Homosexual behavior is contrary to the fundamental, unchanging truths that have been ordained by God, recognized by our country’s founders, and shared by the majority of Texans. Homosexuality must not be presented as an acceptable “alternative” lifestyle, in public policy, nor should “family” be redefined to include homosexual “couples.” We believe there should be no granting of special legal entitlements or creation of special status for homosexual behavior, regardless of state of origin. Additionally, we oppose any criminal or civil penalties against those who oppose homosexuality out of faith, conviction or belief in traditional values.

Family and Defense of MarriageWe support the definition of marriage as a God-ordained, legal and moral commitment only between a natural man and a natural woman, which is the foundational unit of a healthy society, and we oppose the assault on marriage by judicial activists. We call on the President and Congress to take immediate action to defend the sanctity of marriage. We are resolute that Congress exercise authority under the United States Constitution, and pass legislation withholding jurisdiction from the Federal Courts in cases involving family law, especially any changes in the definition of marriage. We further call on Congress to pass and the state legislatures to ratify a marriage amendment declaring that marriage in the United States shall consist of and be recognized only as the union of a natural man and a natural woman.

Neither the United States nor any state shall recognize or grant to any unmarried person the legal rights or status of a spouse. We oppose the recognition of and granting of benefits to people who represent themselves as domestic partners without being legally married.

Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA):  We oppose this act through which the federal government would coerce religious business owners and employees to violate their own beliefs and principles by affirming what they consider to be sinful and sexually immoral behavior. 

Judicial Activism in MarriageWe support marriage and oppose the assault on marriage by judicial activists.

Enforcement of the Defense of Marriage ActWe support the enforcement of the State and Federal Defense of Marriage Act by state and federal officials respectively, and oppose creation, recognition and benefits for partnerships outside of marriage that are being provided by some political subdivisions.

Marriage and DivorceWe believe in the sanctity of marriage and that the integrity of this institution should be protected at all levels of government. We urge the Legislature to rescind no-fault divorce laws. We support Covenant Marriage.

Family ValuesWe support the affirmation of traditional Judeo-Christian family values and oppose the continued assault on those values.

Voter Rights Act: We urge that the Voter Rights Act of 1965 codified and updated in 1973 be repealed and not reauthorized. 

Religious Symbols:  We oppose any governmental action to restrict, prohibit, or remove public display of the Decalogue or other religious symbols.

Right To LifeAll innocent human life must be respected and safeguarded from fertilization to natural death; therefore, the unborn child has a fundamental individual right to life which cannot be infringed. We affirm our support for a Human Life Amendment to the Constitution and to make clear that the Fourteenth Amendment’s protection applies to unborn children.

Controversial TheoriesWe support objective teaching and equal treatment of all sides of scientific theories. We believe theories such as life origins and environmental change should be taught as challengeable scientific theories subject to change as new data is produced. Teachers and students should be able to discuss the strengths and weaknesses of these theories openly and without fear of retribution or discrimination of any kind.

Texas Republican in short want a Christian version of Iran.  Note how "life origins and environmental change" are "controversial theories."  And yet some readers wonder why I cannot in good conscience support the GOP in any form shape or manner.

Antonin Scalia, the Lawless Supreme Court Justice

Following his statements and opinions, I increasingly see Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia as a menace to the nation.  The man is out of control and increasingly unhinged - in fact to the point where he thinks he is above any and all rules.  You might even say that he's become the Dick Cheney of the Supreme Court ranks except for the fact that even Cheney seems less crazy.  Scalia increasingly shows himself to be a political extremist and somehow thinks his personal beliefs trump the Constitution not to mention the long held views on judicial propriety.  A piece in The Daily Beast looks at this increasingly lawless justice.  Here are highlights:

It has been widely assumed—including by yours truly—that calling Supreme Court justices “politicians in robes,” as I did just last week counts as an insult. But as of Monday—almost surely before, but without any question as of Monday—Nino Scalia wants precisely to be thought of as a politician in a robe. No other reasonable conclusion can be drawn from his churlish and self-aggrandizing and probably unethical tirade against President Obama’s recently announced immigration policy. And while the court majority’s ruling (from which Scalia of course dissented) represents a pretty solid victory for the Justice Department, the narrow win for the state of Arizona on the controversial “where are your papers” part of the law makes it quite possible that these very issues will come to the court again, after Scalia has taken his political position. Just as Zola famously said “J’Accuse!,” I hope the liberal legal groups are already practicing saying “Recuse!”

As a rule, Supreme Court justices don’t comment much on current events (and if they do, they usually do so elliptically). As a rule, Supreme Court justices never comment on matters that they have reason to think might come before them.
But the rules aren’t for Scalia. He refused to recuse himself back in 2004 in the case involving the secrecy of Dick Cheney’s energy task force. He had, you’ll recall, gone hunting with Cheney (emerging, as far as we know, unscarred). I’m not naive enough to think for a second that Scalia’s personal loyalty to Cheney was purchased with a few rounds of duck ammo. After all, the case was the one in which Cheney asserted that he was in essence beyond the law’s reach, which is fine with Scalia if you’re a conservative, ducks or no ducks. And of course he and Clarence Thomas are somehow allowed to attend highly political gatherings put together by the Koch brothers too, without any consequences.

And what if, someday, the Obama immigration directive comes before the court? Even conservative blogger Ed Morrissey flagged this as problematic. 

The Court’s liberals are nicely old-fashioned that way. They believe in the small-r republican virtues (even, at times, when it’s naive to do so). But for the conservatives, and for Scalia most of all, legal propriety is absurdly quaint. He doesn’t answer to a nation. He answers to a cadre, a vanguard, of which he is a cherished member, which is about as likely to say no to him as the College of Cardinals is to the Pope, and to which all outside criticism is the chirping of crickets. The crickets will be chirping awfully loudly in the coming days, and I hope at least that this self-satisfied martinet gets an ear-splitting headache.
It is far past time that ethical constraints be placed on the justices, starting with Scalia, Thomas and Alito.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

More Tuesday Male Beauty

More Evidence that NOM is a Catholic Church Front Organization

I have long had the gut feeling that the National Organization for Marriage ("NOM") is actually a front organization doing much of the dirty work for the Roman Catholic Church hierarchy's jihad against LGBT individuals.  This relationship would certainly explain NOM's strenuous - almost hysterical - efforts to keep the sources of its funding secret.  Just imagine if it were documented that the Catholic bishops were pouring millions of dollars into efforts to influence legislation and oppose candidates for political office.  It could mean the Church - or at least many diocese - could be looking at a loss of their tax-exempt status for clear violations of the restrictions of Sec. 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code.  Now that General Mills has come out in opposition to the Minnesota constitutional amendment to make LGBT Minnesotans inferior citizens, NOM has launched a boycott against the food giant.  But, as my blogger friend Jeremy Hooper happened to discover NOM may have screwed up and helped confirm the NOM/Catholic Church connection.  Here's Jeremy's comments on his discovery revealed in the image below:

[I]f one looks at the HTML code [of NOM's laughably ill-advised Dump General Mills petition], he or she will see this hidden text: 
Click image to enlarge
What, is Cardinal Wuerl a Kellogg's fan? Or is it that this uber Catholic organization is finally starting to own the real, really faith-based thinking that has always guided its resistance to civil marriage equality?
One can only hope that this relationship will be investigated by the IRS and appropriate steps taken to revoke tax-exempt status for the diocese of Washington, D.C., and any other diocese and Church affiliated tax-exempt organizations implicated in violations of the Internal Revenue Code.

Life Magazine’s “Homosexuality In America”: 1964.

Over the weekend I was talking to a straight friend of the boyfriend's who asked me if I ever knew that I was gay when I was growing up. I answered "yes and no." Yes, part of my knew the truth, but it was something I simply could not consider acceptable. It was something just too horrible to be true. The consequences were just to terrible. You see, I was 12 years old in 1964 and just at the point of realizing that while many of my male friends were becoming attracted to girls I was feeling attraction to some of my male friends. Being raised in conservative Central New York in a fairly traditional Catholic family, I already pretty much knew that same sex attraction was NOT something that one wanted to be experiencing. And then comes along Life Magazine's lengthy feature story on "Homosexuality in America." Yes, my family subscribed to Life Magazine and I recall seeing the story to my absolute horror. If I had inclinations to stay in the closet and deny who and what I was, this article certainly underscored the need to do so. The message to me and I suspect many other young gays of that era was that we could never, ever, admit to our feelings and that I/we needed to do everything possible to not be one of these people so maligned in the article. Box Turtle Bulletin looks at the piece as does where the full article can be found. Here are some excerpts from the Life piece which along with Catholic Church brainwashing helped drive me deep into the closet for 37 years:

“Homosexuality shears across the spectrum of American life — the professions, the arts, business and labor. It always has. But today, especially in big cities, homosexuals are discarding their furtive ways and openly admitting, even flaunting, their deviation. Homosexuals have their won drinking places, their special assignation streets, even their own organizations. And for every obvious homosexual, there are probably nine nearly impossible to detect. This social disorder, which society tries to suppress, has forced itself into the public eye because it does present a problem — and parents especially are concerned. The myth and misconception with which homosexuality has so long been clothed must be cleared away, not to condone it but to cope with it.”
Over the next fourteen pages, Life magazine explored what they called the “sordid world” of the gay community. 

 Homosexuals everywhere fear arrest -- and the public exposure that may go with it. In Los Angeles, where homosexuals are particularly apparent on city streets, police drives are regular and relentless. The running battle between police and homosexuals has produced bitter feeling on both sides. Leaders of homophile societies in Los Angeles and San Francisco have accused the police of "harassment, entrapment and brutality" toward homosexuals.

Civil Service regulations – which govern 93 per cent of federal employees – state that a person is unsuitable for government employ if he is guilty of “criminal, infamous, dishonest, immoral or notoriously disgraceful conduct.” The Civil Service Commission maintains that homosexuals can be a disruptive influence in a government agency, that a homosexual in a position of influence is likely to bring other homosexuals into government service, and that where security is necessary they are a greater risk than heterosexual co-workers. When the commission has evidence than an employe or prospective employe is a homosexual, he is denied a job – or fired – for “immoral conduct.”

A Catholic viewpoint, which does not condone homosexuality but does regard it as a psychological problem, has been provided in a book, Counselling the Catholic, written for U.S. parish priests by Father George Hagmaier, C.S.P. and Father Robert Gleason, S.I. The book makes the point that in order to “bring one’s activity into accord with objective morality, one needs knowledge and one needs freedom. A defect in either will ordinarily imply some lessening of responsibility.” The authors conclude that, because they are subjected to this psychological disturbance, homosexuals do not have this freedom.

[I]in Florida early this year the Legislative Investigation Committee’s consideration of homosexuality produced an inflammatory report, calling for tougher laws to support the conclusion that “the problem today is one of control, and that established procedures and stern penalties will serve both as encouragement to law enforcement officials and as a deterrent to the homosexual [who is] hungry for youth.” Its recommendations would make psychiatric examination of offenders mandatory and create a control file on homosexuals which would be available to public employment agencies throughout the state. The report, which included an opening-page picture of two men kissing and photographs of nude men and boys, was so irresponsible that it brought attacks from the Dade County state’s attorney and the Miami Herald, which described it as an “official obscenity.”

You get the drift: why would any youth want to be gay when this is what a national magazine that came into your home every week had to say about gays?  It goes without saying that the years in the closet were damaging for me emotionally and psychologically.   They were no less unkind to those I loved and kept behind a glass wall so that they would never learn my horrible truth.  Finally, it got to the point where I had to either try to face reality or end my own life )something I came close to doing twice).