Saturday, July 14, 2012

Saturday Morning Male Beauty

Louisiana GOP Legislator Seeks to Kill LGBT Studies Program

GOP members of state legislatures seem to look for ways to demonstrate their bigotry and the hate and intolerance that are synonymous with the Republican Party .  Besides the Texas voter ID law addressed in the prior post, here in Virginia we have Del. Bob Marshall always seeking a way to make LGBT Virginians 4th class citizens (in fact, he's admitted that he'd like to drive all gays from Virginia).  Now Louisiana offers up another example of the batshitery and extremism that predominate the GOP.  It seems that the University of Lafayette's decision to offer a minor in lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender studies is just too much for Congressman Jeff Landry (pictured at left) - who based on folks like Ed Schrock and Larry Craig we can probably safely assume is a self-loathing closet case secretly lusting for some hot gay sex himself.  KLFY-TV 10 looks at Landry's conniption fit over the university's new offering.  Here are highlights:

A recently added minor at the University of Lafayette is causing quite a controversy. Last semester UL became the first university in Louisiana to offer a minor in lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender studies. Today, Congressman Jeff Landry came out in opposition towards the program. 

In a letter addressed to UL's President, Dr. Joseph Savoie, Landry request that the university eliminate the new program. As a proud alumnus, Landry says he been so grateful of the education he received at UL, but he is concerned if future graduates will be able say the same. 

In the letter Landry ask the program be dropped because quote "it fails to provide an economic benefit to the participants or financial sense for the taxpayer" end quote. 

The University of Lafayette offers around 100 different minors such as African-American studies, Cajun and Creole studies, Latin American studies, and religious studies. According to President Savoie, the LGBT minor did not require budgetary allocations or divert resources from other areas. 

We can only hope that Landry gets caught demonstrating his "wide stance" or using a Mega Phone like service so that his political career can be flushed down the toilet.  

Voter IDs - and the GOP - on Trial

Even though all the data shows that voter fraud is rare, around the country Republican controlled state legislatures have passed voter ID laws which in the last analysis have but one goal: minimize the minority vote since it is assumed that minorities will vote for Democrats.  The demagogues in the GOP continue to nonetheless make outrageous and bombastic claims about voter fraud since for the right, truth and honest mean nothing - even as they demagogues wrap themselves in religiosity.  A lawsuit in Texas is focusing on that state's thinly veiled law aimed at keeping Hispanic voters from the polls.  An editorial in the New York Times looks at the case and the lows the GOP will stoop to in an effort to win.  Here are excerpts:

Representative Trey Martinez Fischer, the chairman of the Mexican-American Legislative Caucus in the Texas House of Representatives, flew to Washington this week to persuade a panel of federal judges to invalidate a requirement that voters must have an ID card. His trip was less arduous than the one some residents would have to endure to get a government-issued photo ID. 

“In West Texas, some people would have a 200-mile round-trip drive” to the nearest state office to get a card, he testified, according to The Dallas Morning News. More than a quarter of the state’s counties don’t even have an office to get a driver’s license or voter card. Lines at the San Antonio motor vehicles offices are often more than two hours long, he said. 

Texas is one of 10 Republican-controlled states that have imposed a government ID requirement to vote, purportedly to reduce fraud but actually to dissuade poor and minority voters who tend to vote Democratic.
Texas is  . . . . .  is covered by the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which allows the Justice Department to disapprove of any change in voting procedures in areas with a history of discrimination.  That’s exactly what the department did in March, saying the law imposes a huge disadvantage on Hispanic voters, who lack a government ID, like a driver’s license or gun permit, at a far higher rate than the general population. Texas sued, and a trial began Monday. 

Those defending Texas’ law told the judges that “only” 168,000 eligible voters in Texas lack a government-issued ID, but federal officials said the number is actually closer to 1.4 million, mostly Hispanic and black voters. Texas, of course, was unable to demonstrate any level of voter fraud that would justify the law, pointing only to five prosecutions for voter impersonation.

The same effect is being seen in other states. In Pennsylvania, 758,000 registered voters lack ID cards and could be turned away at the polls in November. 

Attorney General Eric Holder Jr. said Tuesday that 25 percent of black citizens lack an ID card, compared with 8 percent of white citizens. These requirements, he said, are the modern equivalent of a poll tax. Of course, states aren’t allowed to charge for a card, but he is correct that using this tactic to erect barriers to participation harks back to Jim Crow efforts. And the stakes are no less high because Texas is expected to ask the Supreme Court to strike down Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act — the provision that allows the federal government to preapprove changes in voting procedure — if the three-judge panel rules against its voter-ID requirement.  People died to achieve that federal law, but 47 years later, the discrimination has not disappeared.

This is yet another example of why in good conscience, I can't be a Republican.  And what's striking is that as the Christofascists have come to control the GOP there is a direct correlation with the Party's dishonesty, racism and  contempt for average American, not to mention minorities.  I'm sure if they could figure out a way to do it, the Virginia GOP would seek to keep LGBT citizens from voting since we disproportionately vote Democrat.  As a discussed with a black woman yesterday at the Obama event, for a gay to vote for today's GOP would be like her voting for a candidate who was active in the KKK. 

The Bain of Romney's Exitence - Continued

Watching the news and listening to Mitt Romney dodge and weave from all the facts, including video tapes of himself saying things utterly inconsistent with his current claims of departure from Bain Capital in 1999,  the man looks incredibly sleazy and dishonest even for a politician.  Indeed, if Romney says it's raining outside, one might be wise to look out the window to double check.  Even then, if his statement was untrue, Romney would likely quibble that it was raining somewhere in the world so that he wasn't really lying.  Andrew Sullivan sums things up well here:

It was hidden in plain sight as a Bain press release in July 1999. Here's how it described Romney's position at Bain when he says he had no responsibility whatever, despite remaining CEO, Chairman and Sole Owner as far as forms filed with SEC testify:
Bain Capital CEO W. Mitt Romney, currently on a part-time leave of absence to head the Salt Lake City Olympic Committee for the 2002 Games said ...
So Bain now contradicts Romney.
So this much is now obvious.

1. Romney didn't quit Bain in 1999 for good, as he claims. He remained the CEO throughout, as SEC files show, and as the Boston Globe reported back in 2002.

2. He stayed active in Bain, but at a much reduced level, the entire time.

3. In any case, everything that occurred at Bain up to 2002 is completely fair game for criticism, since he was the formal CEO at the time and therefore responsible for the whole company. The SEC filings are dispositive. He has been lying about this in order to deflect some very dangerous stories about Bain in that period which shows it is knee deep in outsourcing and off-shoring, and because his signature is on a filing with respect to a company that Bain owned that disposed of aborted babies.

Romney basically said what was the most convenient for his self-interest at every juncture - and finally all the contradictions and changing stories caught up with him. When you have it both ways on policy matters - we'll increase defense spending, lower taxes even further, and cut the debt! - you only look shifty. When you have it both ways on the simple facts about your life, you look like an opportunistic liar.

That term seems to describe Romney in sum: an opportunistic liar.  The irony, of course, is like most in the GOP and far right, Romney claims to be religious and pious.  His actions and dishonest show how little he actually cares about his religion's condemnation of lying.  Like so much that this blog seeks to expose and skewer, it's all about the hypocrisy.  Ultimately the question becomes whether there's anything Romney will not lie about? 

Friday, July 13, 2012

More Friday Male Beauty

President Obama Speaks in Virginia - Personal Reflections

Underscoring Virginia's status as a battleground state in the coming presidential election in November, President Barack Obama made a campaign stop in Virginia Beach this morning, a stop in Hampton this afternoon and will visit Roanoke tomorrow.  In 2008, Obama carried Virginia by winning the so-called "urban crescent" that runs southward from Northern Virginia down through the greater Richmond area and then southeasterly to Hampton Roads.  It's an area that holds enough votes to outweigh the Republican strongholds in rural Virginia if one motivates the turnout.  Obviously, Obama wants to repeat what worked in 2008 and so far polls show him continuing to lead Mitt "Pinocchio" Romney.  Thanks to VIP tickets from Hampton Mayor Molly Ward, the boyfriend and I decided that we would attend the Hampton event which as things turned out was not without its logistical problems. 

Thanks to me getting back to Hampton from the office later than planned, we arrived late and ended up in the "overflow" crowd (I was late because the Hampton Roads Bridge Tunnel - which the GOP controlled Virginia General Assembly refuses to upgrade since the gasoline tax would have to be raised for the first time in 25 years to pay for upgrades - was in total clusterf*ck mode.)   Yours truly was NOT a happy camper to put it mildly.  This curse, however, turned out to have a silver lining and our group of perhaps 100 or so had our own short private address by President Obama before he addressed the jam packed main auditorium.  The boyfriend snapped the images above with his phone (yes, we were very close to him when he went around greeting people).  Much of Obama's address focused on the economy with an emphasis on the differences between his priorities and those of Mitt Romney and the 1% crowd.  The reaction of the crowd was very positive from what we saw and experienced.

President Obama also stressed to the crowd the importance of his winning Virginia (a broadcast this evening stated that if he holds the states he is winning so far in the polls and carries Virginia, he crosses the magic number of electoral votes needed to win).  That, of course, means another four months of incessant political ads.

Two things struck me. One is the charisma that Obama has in person.  The other thing is how Obama electrified the black members of the crowd and those in their yards along the route of his motorcade (we had to hike in to the event since we arrived so late).  The sad truth is that in 2012, being black in Virginia is in many ways as bad or worse than being gay.   True, black Virginians don't have the laws aimed deliberately at them to keep them less than equal or the legalized discrimination that LGBT Virginians face, but racism and bigotry are still the norm in many areas of society that they encounter. Particularly, among the "godly Christian" set and the hate merchants at The Family Foundation.  Just by his presence Obama sends a message of hope to these Virginians.  And with his new support of same sex marriage, he gives me hope.

The Bizarre Christianist World of "Purity Balls"

For the record, I am the father of two girls - correction, two amazing young women, one 23 and one 30 - so I have some experience with raising daughters.  Which brings me to something that I deem really bizarre, if not almost sick and perverted in a sexual sort of way: daughters pledging their virginity to their dads.  True, one wants daughters who are responsible and who don't get themselves into trouble.  But pledging their virginity to me in years past.   I'm sorry, but this whole concept strikes me as creepy and at a minimum borderline incestuous.  But then again, since these "purity balls" are popular with the sexually repressed and sexually obsessed Christianist crowd, perhaps I shouldn't be surprised.  Part of me cannot believe that these girls attending "purity balls" dreamed this ritual up on their own.  Mom and/or dad had to do some brainwashing and/or arm twisting.   A piece in Religion Dispatches looks at this bizarre practice.  Here are are excerpts:

As I watched Virgin Tales, a Swiss documentary about purity balls—dances where young girls pledge their virginities to their dads—I thought of my father often. Because the most compelling focus of the film wasn’t the events themselves, but the way in which one family’s dynamic can reveal so much about American culture and politics.

Filmmaker Mirjam von Arx follows the Colorado Springs-based Wilson family whose patriarch, Randy, invented purity balls. Von Arx focuses on one daughter in particular, Jordyn.

While other dads may have been teaching their daughters soccer, Randy was making sure that his little girls were focused on traditional feminine pursuits. Jordyn runs “the School of Grace” out of their home, where she gives advice to other young women on how to be properly ladylike. (She uses a book on etiquette from the 1920s to demonstrate how to modestly bend over at a water fountain, or how to greet people with a smile when they come into your home.)

His wife, Lisa, homeschooled their children and the “curriculum” speaks volumes. Daughter Kaalyn reads from an illustrated book: “Because you are my chosen princess you should dress modestly every day.”
“Sadly, there are a lot of girls that don’t think about me when they get dressed in the morning. They wear clothes that do not cover their bodies or that show their bodies in an immodest way. Keep your body covered and be my model.”
Later we see Randy building a hope chest for his daughter Kameryn that will be revealed at a ceremony held in the family living room. There, Kameryn is given her great-great-grandmother’s wedding ring as a purity ring and is taught about “fruitfulness.”

Even to the women who marry into the Wilson family, their roles are clear. Colton Wilson’s wife Anna tells us, “Because I love God I love my husband, regardless of whether or not I have feelings of affection for him in a given moment.”  “The command to love him is just that—it’s a command.”

As a feminist, I found the purity balls themselves the most difficult to watch. Young women and girls are dressed in ballgowns, their hair professionally done. They pose with their fathers under white arches decorated with flowers, like prom dates. And the midst of all this revelry, they promise to remain virgins and their fathers, in turn, pledge to be the protector of that “purity.”

Even now, after having written a book on purity culture and politics and having had met Randy in a truly bizarre interaction on a daytime talk show (don’t ask), they still affect me on a visceral level. The Wilsons claim to be offering an antidote to the hypersexualized pop culture that targets young women—but by defining girls so concretely by their virginity, they’re ensuring that young women will continue to be judged by what they do or don’t do sexually. The women who take virginity pledges and go to purity balls are promising that their bodies aren’t their own, but instead belong to their fathers and future husbands.

But despite the radical evangelicalism and sexism the Wilsons promote, as I watched the film I found it difficult not to root for Jordyn. Here’s a young woman—a bit awkward, and a lot unworldly—who just wants to be loved. She wants a happy life, a family, and to please her parents. And she wants it desperately. The boundaries of her goals may be more narrow than most women’s, but that kind of youthful desire and uncertainty are universal experiences.

The problem, of course, is that it’s not really about love. Sitting outside of a purity ball, in black-tie attire, Lisa tears up as she explains the events aren’t just about the party.

“It’s a beautiful moment with their father to say, ‘I care enough about you to invest in an expensive hotel and expensive meal and a lovely dress for you.’ To say that you’re valued.”

Women know the ways in which they’re valued. Whether we go to purity balls or rock concerts as young women, the limits of our worth in American culture are as subtle as a kick to the head. My hope is that not all of us will believe it, that we will want more for ourselves than subjugation dressed up in ballgowns (or bikinis). Until then, I hope we can find happiness and our own love stories.

Sick and bizarre.  I don't know what else to call these rituals.

Thomson Reuters Opposes Minnesota's Anti-Gay Marriage Amendment

The list of companies that the Bible thumping hate merchants at American Family Association and its Christiofascist allies need to boycott just keeps on growing.  While no where near as powerful or with as strong a grip on global business, Thomson Reuters has joined the list of progressive companies that are opposing the effort of the hate family values organizations that seek to drag America back into a Middle Ages mindset and force same sex couples into a 4th class citizenship status.  Minnesota United for All Families has issued a press release on this latest slap in the face to the knuckle dragging forces of the far right.  Here are highlights:

Thomson Reuters, a company with thousands of employees in Minnesota, announced today that it firmly and clearly opposes the proposed constitutional amendment that would limit the freedom to marry for committed, same-sex couples in our state. With its historic announcement today, Thomson Reuters joins Fortune 500 companies General Mills and St. Jude Medical in opposing this freedom-limiting marriage amendment.

This news comes on the heels of a statement from leaders of seven major Minnesota law firms in opposition to this amendment, saying in the Star Tribune today that, “the marriage amendment endangers our business climate, signaling that ours is a community that does not welcome members of the LGBT community. This directly impacts Minnesota businesses, including law firms, which are dependent on attracting and retaining the best and brightest talent, regardless of sexual orientation.”

Thomson Reuters said, “As we’ve heard from employees, recruiters and customers, one thing has been very clear: we’re a better place when we have a rich variety of perspectives, talents, backgrounds, lifestyles and experiences in our workplace, and within the broader community from which we recruit. We believe that building a culture that thrives on diversity and inclusion and provides equal opportunities to everyone is a critical factor in our ability to serve our customers and be successful. …We believe the Minnesota Marriage Amendment, if passed, would limit our ability to recruit and retain top talent. For this reason, we do not believe that the Amendment would be good for Thomson Reuters or the business community in the state.”

The law firms noted in the Star Tribune piece include among others Oppenheimer Wolff & Donnelly LLP, a large international firm for which I have served as local counsel in the past.  Here's portion of what these legal powerhouses had to say on the vicious anti-gay amendment on the ballot in November:

As leaders of law firms, we write in our individual capacities to express our personal opposition to the Minnesota marriage amendment that will be on the ballot this fall.

The marriage amendment would embed in the Minnesota Constitution a definition of marriage as being solely between one man and one woman. In so doing, it strives to prevent future judicial or legislative action that could allow our gay and lesbian citizens to marry and enjoy a right that is available to all others.
As lawyers, we also believe that this issue is more important than just its impact to the business climate. The amendment uses the ballot to restrict the rights of our fellow citizens, and to embed those restrictions in our state Constitution. Simply put, it is a bad precedent to use the Constitution to deny the civil liberties of a few.

We will be voting "no" on the marriage amendment and encourage our fellow members of the bar to join us.

Friday Morning Male Beauty

New Gallup Survey: U.S. Confidence in Organized Religion at Lowest Point Ever

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A new Gallup Survey indicates that Americans' confidence in organized religion is at the lowest point ever recorded by Gallup.  Frankly, given the toxicity and hypocrisy that flow virtually non-stop from most forms of organized religion in this country (if not the world), this is actually probably a good thing.   Yes, there are some denominations that do a better job at implementing the so-called Golden Rule, but sadly, most seem to have division and passage of judgment on others and often outright hate as their principal characteristics.They claim to preach a message of "love" but their actions speak otherwise.  What's interesting is that while confidence in organized religion has fallen sharply, spirituality has not.  It is also telling that Catholics have far less confidence in organized religion than do Protestants.  Here are some highlights of Gallup's findings:

Forty-four percent of Americans have a great deal or quite a lot of confidence in "the church or organized religion" today, just below the low points Gallup has found in recent years, including 45% in 2002 and 46% in 2007. This follows a long-term decline in Americans' confidence in religion since the 1970s.

In 1973, "the church or organized religion" was the most highly rated institution in Gallup's confidence in institutions measure, and it continued to rank first in most years through 1985, outranking the military and the U.S. Supreme Court, among others. That began to change in the mid- to late 1980s as confidence in organized religion first fell below 60%, possibly resulting from scandals during that time involving famed televangelist preachers Jim Bakker and Jimmy Swaggart. Confidence in religion returned to 60% in 2001, only to be rocked the following year by charges of child molestation by Catholic priests and cover-up by some in the church.

Currently, 56% of Protestants express a great deal or quite a lot of confidence in the church/organized religion, compared with 46% of Catholics. This is in line with an average 12-percentage-point difference in the two groups' confidence, according Gallup polling from 2002 through 2012, with Protestants consistently expressing higher confidence.

Two major findings apparent in Gallup's confidence in the church and organized religion trend are, first, the long-term decline in Americans' confidence in this societal institution since 1973, and second, the suppressed confidence among Catholics relative to Protestants starting in 1981, and becoming more pronounced by 2002.

New Study Confirms 4 In 10 Homeless Youth Are Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender

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This blog has looked at the plight of homeless LGBT youth and a new study confirms that 40% of homeless youth are LGBT.  The main cause of homelessness? Rejection by their families due to their sexual orientation.  Yes, yet again we see the evil consequences of ignorant, religious based bigotry.  As a parent myself, I can only feel that these parents who reject their own children deserve a special place in Hell.  They most assuredly demonstrate their hypocrisy when they place allegiance to myths and Bronze Age writings over their own flesh and blood.  The New Civil Rights Movement reports on this new study.  Here are article highlights:

A new study confirms that approximately four in ten homeless youth and teens are gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender, and more than 40% of those ran away from home or were kicked out of their family’s home because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. While these numbers don’t sound new, the massive study, taken from the results of surveys of 354 youth agencies, confirms tragic previous findings.

“Overall, respondents indicated that nearly seven in ten (68%) of their LGBT homeless clients have experienced family rejection and more than half of clients (54%) had experienced abuse in their family,” the study, conducted from October 2011 through March 2012, notes, adding that “family rejection on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity was the most frequently cited factor contributing to LGBT homelessness.”

The study also found many barriers to proper assistance for these homeless youth who have been so often treated as disposable trash by their families.  The chart below sets out these barriers.  The article also notes another barrier to assistance:

It would be negligent to omit, given today’s political climate, what a Mitt Romney presidency would do to these already-challenged front-lines of defense.

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It goes without saying that here in Virginia, the anti-gay bigotry of the Republican Party of Virginia and its puppet masters at The Family Foundation bodes ill for any state funding.   With these nasty folks, hate, bigotry and prejudice - and, of course rank hypocrisy - are "family values".

The Catholic Church's Fading Influence in Poland

With the fall out of the sex abuse scandal that continues to explode all around the world (Australia for example is lately seeing case after case of the now familiar pattern of enabling of and cover up for known predators), the Church's reactionary rejection of modern knowledge and science, and the Church's anti-gay jihad, the Roman Catholic Church is largely in a much deserved free fall in the Western world.  In Ireland, once a bastion of Catholicism, the Church's reputation and influence has suffered irreparable damage.  Now Poland, another former bastion seems to be headed the way of Ireland.  Indeed, the only growth areas for the Church are in backward and uneducated areas such as Africa where ignorance and naivete have so far protected the Church's reputation.  Der Spiegel has an article on the Church's decline in Poland.  Here are some excerpts: 

Twenty years ago, the Catholic Church played a major role in the fall of communism in Poland. Today, with the country changing rapidly, the church's influence is quickly waning. Once considered the most Catholic country in Europe, the faithful are vanishing. 

Just past the Polish border, passengers traveling by train from Berlin to Warsaw can see Jesus. He is 36-meters (118 feet) tall, made of concrete, and towers over the surrounding fields near the town of Swiebodzin, a gilded crown perched nobly on his head. His gaze is directed over the Recaro plant, which makes car seats and is the region's biggest employer, and toward the setting sun. His outstretched arms seem to suggest that he wishes to take the Western heathens into his heart.

The plaque at the base of the giant religious statue says that Jesus Christ is the true king of Poland and will rule for eternity. It is not for nothing that the country is, in the eyes of the church at least, Europe's most Catholic nation.

Some 95 percent of all Poles still say that they are Catholic. Yet loyalty to the church is waning. Even the conservative Catholic publicist Tomasz Terlikowski estimates the true number of devout Catholics at little more than 20 percent. "We Poles like to proclaim our Catholicism," he says, but the reality looks quite different.

Only slightly more than 44 percent of young people say they go to church on Sundays, compared with 62 percent in 1992. Forty-two percent admit that they do not observe all religious commandments. Hardly anyone pays attention to rules about things like sexual abstinence before marriage anymore. The number of illegal abortions runs into the hundreds of thousands every year. In addition, four-fifths of Poles are bothered by the fact that the church regularly intervenes in politics.

[T]he church has failed to keep up with the modern age, says Barto. Many of his fellow Poles agree.
After joining the European Union, Poland turned to the West and embraced the Western lifestyle more than almost any other country. Nowadays, Polish women dream of careers, self-fulfillment and children. Hundreds of thousands of young Poles live together without being married. In booming cities like Warsaw and Poznan, gays and lesbians live their lives as openly as in Berlin or Madrid.  "More and more taboos are falling by the wayside. But the church reacts by hardening its positions even further," says Barto.

The church is short on answers to the challenges it faces in booming Poland. The priests routinely react to job market volatility and long working hours, emigration and return, stress and careers by invoking earlier, more pious times.

"In reality," says former monk Barto, "most clergymen are preoccupied with internal power struggles. If there is anyone who is especially ill-suited to teaching people ethical behavior, it's a scheming church leader."

I would certainly second the last sentence quoted.  Moral bankruptcy is the principal hallmark of the Church hierarchy and I would argue that most atheists are likely far more ethical than the Church's bishops, cardinals, and yes, the Pope.  Greed, secrecy and the quest for power and control are their main characteristics and objectives.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

More Thursday Male Beauty

In 1998 Romney Invested Millions in Chinese Firm Profiting on US Outsourcing

As the prior post indicates, Mitt Romney seemingly has himself in a pickle on the question of when he really left Bain Capital.  As also noted, the reason for Romney's strenuous efforts relate to his desire to dodge claims that he was involved in outsourcing of jobs overseas and the closure of American firms that left employees jobless and often with lost pensions.  I'm sorry, but Romney seems like one callous bastard who'd consider selling his mother if a buck could be made.  Now, Mother Jones has broken a story that makes the 1999 date Romney has been clinging to possibly irrelevant because it shows that he was selling out American workers at least a year earlier.   The man is worth at least $250 million.  When does one have enough money? Especially when the money is not being made by creating jobs and opportunity but instead betting against.  Here are highlights from the Mother Jones story:

Last month, Mitt Romney's campaign got into a dustup with the Washington Post after the newspaper reported that Bain Capital, the private equity firm the GOP presidential candidate founded, invested in several US companies that outsourced jobs to China and India. The campaign indignantly demanded a retraction, claiming that these businesses did not send jobs overseas while Romney was running Bain, and the Post stood by its investigation. Yet there is another aspect to the Romney-as-outsourcer controversy.

According to government documents reviewed by Mother Jones, Romney, when he was in charge of Bain, invested heavily in a Chinese manufacturing company that depended on US outsourcing for its profits—and that explicitly stated that such outsourcing was crucial to its success.

This previously unreported deal runs counter to Romney's tough talk on the campaign trail regarding China. "We will not let China continue to steal jobs from the United States of America," Romney declared in February. But with this investment, Romney sought to make money off a foreign company that banked on American firms outsourcing manufacturing overseas.

On April 17, 1998, Brookside Capital Partners Fund, a Bain Capital affiliate, filed a report with the Securities and Exchange Commission noting that it had acquired 6.13 percent of Hong Kong-based Global-Tech Appliances, which manufactured household appliances in a production facility in the industrial city of Dongguan, China. That August, according to another SEC filing, Brookside upped its interest in Global-Tech to 10.3 percent. Both SEC filings identified Romney as the person in control of this investment: "Mr. W. Mitt Romney is the sole shareholder, sole director, President and Chief Executive Officer of Brookside Inc. and thus is the controlling person of Brookside Inc." Each of these documents was signed by Domenic Ferrante, a managing director of Brookside and Bain.

The Romney campaign and Bain Capital have insisted that Romney departed Bain in February 1999 to head the troubled 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City and had no involvement in the private equity firm's deals after that point—a contention that has been challenged by the Obama campaign. But the Global-Tech Appliances transactions occurred long before Romney jetted off to Utah.

Romney's Global-Tech deal adds a new dimension to the debate over Romney and outsourcing. Whether or not he was at the helm when Bain invested in US firms that did or did not ship jobs overseas, Romney was in command when a company he owned and controlled bought a large stake in a Chinese venture that counted on American companies sending manufacturing—and that means jobs—to China.

[W]hen there was money to be made by acquiring a chunk of a Chinese company that aimed to displace American manufacturers (and American workers), Romney's patriotism did not interfere with the potential for profit.

The Bain of Romney's Campaign

At first blush, it would seem that either Mitt Romney lied in filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission ("SEC") or he's lying to the public as to when he left Bain Capital.  What has ignited the issue is the Boston Globe story today that carries a sub-headline of  "Firm’s 2002 filings identify him as CEO, though he said he left in 1999."  In addition to the SEC filings, Massachusetts disclosure filings reflect that Romney remained CEO through 2002.  Romney has gone to great lengths to stress that he was no longer with Bain when it bankrupted a number of companies and threw workers to the wolves.  Yes, you read that right, the filings with the SEC seem to indicate that rather than leaving Bain in 1999 as claimed, Romney may have stuck around for several more years.  Here are highlights from the Globe story:

Government documents filed by Mitt Romney and Bain Capital say Romney remained chief executive and chairman of the firm three years beyond the date he said he ceded control, even creating five new investment partnerships during that time. 

Also, a Massachusetts financial disclosure form Romney filed in 2003 states that he still owned 100 percent of Bain Capital in 2002. And Romney’s state financial disclosure forms indicate he earned at least $100,000 as a Bain “executive” in 2001 and 2002, separate from investment earnings.

The timing of Romney’s departure from Bain is a key point of contention because he has said his resignation in February 1999 meant he was not responsible for Bain Capital companies that went bankrupt or laid off workers after that date.

A former SEC commissioner told the Globe that the SEC documents listing Romney as Bain’s chief executive between 1999 and 2002 cannot be dismissed so easily.  “You can’t say statements filed with the SEC are meaningless. This is a fact in an SEC filing,” said Roberta S. Karmel, now a professor at Brooklyn Law School.

The Globe found nine SEC filings submitted by four different business entities after February 1999 that describe Romney as Bain Capital’s boss; some show him with managerial control over five Bain Capital entities that were formed in January 2002, according to records in Delaware, where they were incorporated.

With all due respect and with due recognition of the consequences of filing untrue documents with the SEC (i.e., it's a felony), it would appear that Romney and his campaign are lying.  Andrew Sullivan neatly summarizes the issue this way:

The relevant question is why Romney was listed as CEO and sole owner and chairman for three years after he says he stopped having anything to do with Bain. I don't believe he was SuperMan, running the Olympics and a political campaign while involved in Bain's day-to-day operations. But either you own the company or you don't. And saying one thing to the SEC and another thing to us needs to be reconciled. Even if the shift was abrupt with Romney's departure for the Olympics, it's stunning to see it took Bain three years to correct the record. Legally, Romney is responsible for everything that happened while he was sole owner of the company. Which is what he told the SEC.
A piece in Politico looks at the political turmoil that the Bain issue may be starting to ignite.  Here are some excerpts:

The problem for the Romney campaign, when it comes to the Bain issue, is that things are reaching the point where the facts don’t really matter. The bigger problem is that the Bain cloud now hanging over the former Massachusetts governor is growing daily, and the Romney campaign still hasn’t found a compelling way to respond to what’s becoming the driving narrative, fairly or unfairly, of the 2012 campaign.

After the Globe reported that Romney formally led Bain longer than he’d previously acknowledged — an allegation that Team Romney adamantly contests — Republicans worried that their soon-to-be nominee hasn’t sufficiently answered numerous questions swirling around his Bain tenure.

But Republicans warned that none of that would make Bain go away as a political issue.  “Mitt Romney had an opportunity to answer these questions during the primary,” said Rick Tyler, who ran the pro-Gingrich super PAC that spent millions attacking Romney on the Bain issue. “ He did not answer these questions and now they’re coming up again.”  Tyler warned that the newest Bain twist has the potential to inflict real harm if Romney doesn’t start providing answers.

 Ana Navarro, a Republican strategist who worked for Jon Huntsman during the primary, said the controversy could be solved if Romney were to release his tax returns, acknowledging that no one wants to put their financials out there but that it has become necessary.  .   .   .   “He should just release the stupid taxes and eliminate the Obama campaign tactic of insinuating he’s got something to hide. The Obama people are going to keep the issue alive and it has the potential of mushrooming into a bigger issue,” she said. “It’s time to just pull off the band-aid.”

“It could be a real problem,” said GOP strategist Mark McKinnon. “The accumulation of stories about taxes and Bain and offshore and Swiss accounts and secrecy begin to put glue into the narrative Team Obama is pushing that could make it really start to stick.”

Not answering has the potential to eat away at Romney’s support in swing states.  “We’re starting to see evidence in some of the battleground states that this is working in the favor of the president,” O’Connell said. “There are only so many more of these chinks in the armor Romney can take.”

As I have noted before, the more I see about Romney, the less I like the man whatsoever and I trust him less and less by the day.

University of Texas Investigating Regnerus Study

Readers will remember how the anti-gay hate groups and the National Organization for Marriage trumpeted the supposed findings of the study on the children of gay parents done by Mark Regnerus (pictured at right).  As this blog and many others have noted, there were many serious flaws in the study and now the University of Texas is investigating Regnerus' study for possible scientific misconduct.  No doubt the Christianists will somehow try claim that Regnerus is being persecuted for his religious beliefs rather than the fact that his study seemed to echo the type of "research" done by the long discredited Paul Cameron.  Here are highlights from the American-Statesman

Allegations of scientific misconduct have prompted the University of Texas to investigate a professor's study that found adults with gay parents reported significantly different life experiences than the children of married, heterosexual biological parents.

The study, authored by associate professor of sociology Mark Regnerus, made a splash when it was published last month in the journal Social Science Research. It has since drawn criticism from scholars at UT and elsewhere.

Bucking the consensus of the past decade of scholarship that the sexual orientation of parents does not negatively affect children in consequential ways Regnerus found that adults with gay parents tended to report lower levels of success in economic and romantic pursuits and struggled more with mental health issues.

The university began the inquiry after New York City freelance writer Scott Rosensweig,  .  .  .  .  sent a letter of complaint to UT President Bill Powers on June 21.
In his letter, Rosensweig alleged that Regnerus had committed scientific misconduct because he had created "a study designed so as to be guaranteed to make gay people look bad, through means plainly fraudulent and defamatory." Rosensweig also pointed out that the study was funded by the conservative Witherspoon Institute and the Bradley Foundation, writing that Regnerus had taken "money from an anti-gay political organization for his study."

The University of Texas defines scientific misconduct as "fabrication, falsification, or plagiarism" and "practices that seriously deviate from ethical standards."
A panel of UT professors is conducting the inquiry, and the process will be completed within 60 days of the complaint, said Gary Susswein, a UT spokesman. Ultimately, if a university investigation finds that Regnerus' work constitutes scientific misconduct, Provost Steven Leslie would decide how the administration will proceed, Susswein said.

Among the study's critics is UT sociology professor Debra Umberson.  "Regnerus' study is bad science. Among other errors, he made egregious yet strategic decisions in selecting particular groups for comparison," Umberson and three colleagues wrote in a June 26 editorial on The Huffington Post.

Five UT faculty members also signed a letter, along with 200 scholars at multiple universities, to the editor of Social Science Research, James Wright, pointing out what they said were flaws in Regnerus' methodology and saying the journal's review process took five weeks, when most take between two and three months.

NOM Hires "Glamourous, Non-Cognative" Kirk Cameron

Image via GLAAD
As readers may recall and as was noted on this blog, when documents were released in the Maine court case investigating NOM's blatant effort to ignore that state's campaign finance disclosure laws, one of the NOM agenda items exposed was: recruit glamorous but unintelligent celebrities. (p.19/20):
"Hollywood with its cultural biases is far bigger than we can hope to be. We recognize this. But we also recognize the opportunity - the disproportionate potential impact of proactively seeking to gather and connect a community of artists, athletes, writers, beauty queens and other glamorous non-cognitive elites across national boundaries. (This is applying the Witherspoon and IAV model to non-intellectual elites.)" (emphasis added)
Another agenda item was to drive a wedge between the gay and black communities.

NOM has obviously worked to implement the first approach - think Carrie Prejean - and now more currently in the form of Kirk Cameron.   Cameron, who really cannot be called a true celebrity any longer, seems only too willing to cooperate with NOM and was recently video taped regurgitating NOM's false anti-gay rhetoric.   All of which leaves me to wonder what's really motivating Cameron.  Particularly in light of the University of Rochester study that demonstrated that often the loudest anti-gay voices are those of the self-loathing closet cases.  Mr. Cameron doth protest too loudly.

Thursday Morning Male Beauty

A Supreme Court Showdown On DOMA

With six federal courts ruling that the Defense of Marriage Act  ("DOMA") is unconstitutional and major medical and mental health associations filing an amicus brief urging that DOMA be struck down and countering Christofascist claims that gay marriage and gay parenting harms children, the U. S. Supreme Court can no longer easily avoid the call to strike down DOMA.  I would argue that if the Supreme Court fails to strike down DOMA, its credibility will be severely damaged.  Only anti-gay animus fueled by religious extremism supports the legislation.  If there's any doubt, one need only look at the religious based statements made by many members of Congress during the debates leading to DOMA's enactment.  The New York Times weighed in yesterday with a call that DOMA be tossed on the trash heap of history.  Here are excerpts:

Six federal courts have ruled on the Defense of Marriage Act and reached the same conclusion: the 1996 law violates the Constitution by denying same-sex couples, who are legally married under state law, federal benefits afforded to heterosexual couples for no good reason. The issue has now officially landed at the Supreme Court.

Last week, the Obama administration asked the justices to review two court decisions — one by the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit and one by a Federal District Court in San Francisco — striking down the law’s denial of benefits on equal protection grounds. 

The administration agrees with those rulings but has asked the Supreme Court to decide the constitutional question authoritatively. House Republicans retained private counsel to defend the 16-year-old law because the Obama administration has declined to defend it in court. They have asked the justices to overturn the First Circuit ruling and uphold the law. 

It is a strong bet that the justices will take the appeal when they return from their summer break. The Justice Department is right that firmly resolving the issue is of great importance to the country and to tens of thousands of gay people denied benefits like the right to file joint tax returns and to receive spousal Social Security payments. We hope the justices will review the cases and issue a strong ruling striking down this noxious law.

The Defense of Marriage Act also heaps particular inequities on married gay service members and their families. Under the law, same-sex spouses are denied benefits granted to other military spouses, including medical and dental insurance, treatment in military medical facilities, discounted housing and surviving spouse benefits. This policy is completely at odds with the military’s goal of building a culture of openness and equality following the demise of “don’t ask, don’t tell.” 

Congress has no authority to enact unconstitutional laws that violate equal protection, disrespect valid marriages and mistreat gay people and their families. As the nation moves toward greater acceptance of same-sex marriage, there should be at least five justices willing to say that. 

Catholic Bishops Begin to Demand Loyalty Oaths. Is the Nazi Salute Next?

So much for freedom of conscience in a growing number of Roman Catholic dioceses, including the nearby Arlington Diocese that encompasses northern and parts of eastern Virginia.  Even volunteers are being demanded to sign onto a loyalty oath where they submit “of will and intellect” to all of the teachings of church leaders. The Catholic Church has always operated like a feudal dictatorship, but now the bishops and the Vatican want a conformity to their orders and perverted teachings that looks like something out of the Spanish Inquisition.  Given that Benedict XVI ran the modern day Inquisition - that was conveniently renamed to avoid the less than positive connotations of the organization's prior name - for roughly two decades, this development should not come as any surprise.  Of course, the bishops' mandate is that Catholics follow all Church teachings, including the condemnation of gays and contraception.  The move comes to late it would seem since a majority of Catholics approve of same sex marriage and over 90% of Catholic women use contraception.  Hopefully, this move will drive even more Catholics from the Church.  The Washington Post looks at this Inquisition mind set.  Here are highlights:

Last month, Riley joined at least four other Sunday school teachers and resigned from her post at St. Ann’s parish after a letter arrived at her home requiring her — and all teachers in the Arlington Catholic Diocese — to submit “of will and intellect” to all of the teachings of church leaders.

The Arlington Diocese, which includes nearly a half-million Catholics across northern and eastern Virginia, is one of a small but growing number that are starting to demand fidelity oaths. The oaths reflect a churchwide push in recent years to revive orthodoxy that has sharply divided Catholics.

Such oaths are not new for priests or nuns but extend now in some places to people like volunteer Sunday school teachers as well as workers at Catholic hospitals and parish offices.

One in Baker, Ore., reiterates the sinfulness of abortion and says, “I do not recognize the legitimacy of anyone’s claim to a moral right to form their own conscience in this matter.” One in Oakland, Calif., requires leaders of a group doing outreach to gay and lesbian Catholics to say they “affirm and believe” official church teaching on marriage, hell and chastity.

The Arlington “profession of faith” asks teachers to commit to “believe everything” the bishops characterize as divinely revealed, and Arlington’s top doctrine official said it would include things like the bishops’ recent campaign against a White House mandate that most employers offer contraception coverage. Critics consider the mandate a violation of religious freedom.

[F]or some, particularly more liberal Catholics, the oaths are an alarming effort to stamp out debate in the church at a time when it is bleeding members and clergy in the West. They note that church leaders’ views have changed over the centuries on various subjects, including contraception.

“I’m just shocked, I can’t believe they’re asking me to sign this,” said Riley, who said she may keep her own children out of the parish education program in the fall. “The bishops are human, and sometimes their judgment is not God’s judgment.

Zagarri said the oath was a “slap in the face” to Catholics who have remained active and close to the church despite controversies.   .   .   .   . in my view only a person who is willing to abandon her own reason and judgment, or who is willing to go against the dictates of her own conscience, can agree to sign such a document,” she wrote to Arlington Bishop Paul Loverde.

The Rev. Ronald Nuzzi, who heads the leadership program for Catholic educators at the University of Notre Dame, said many bishops “are in a pickle.” They want Catholic institutions to be staffed by people who not only teach what the church teaches but whose “whole life will bear witness.”

Nuzzi said he keeps a photo on his desk from the 1940s that shows all the German bishops in their garb, doing the Nazi salute.  “I keep it there to remind people who say to do everything the Church says, that their wisdom has limitations, too.”

One has to wonder what's next in this totalitarian batshitery: a revival of the auto de fe?  Oh, and does the loyalty oath mean one has to support the enabling of and cover ups for child rapist priests?

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

More Wednesday Male Beauty

National Medical And Psychological Groups File Amicus Brief Against DOMA

In yet another move to counter the the claims of anti-gay hate groups, professional Christians, fraudulent "family values" organizations and the political prostitutes of all of the foregoing in the Republican Party, a who's who of legitimate medical and mental health associations, including the American Psychological Association, the American Medical Association and the American Academy of Pediatrics, have filed an amici curiae brief supporting Karen Golinski's discrimination case against the government, Golinski v. Office of Personnel, which seeks to have DOMA struck down as unconstitutional.  The lower court has already found DOMA to be unconstitutional and motivated by nothing other than anti-gay animus. It goes without saying that the anti-gay hate groups will be claiming that somehow LGBT individuals have somehow co=opted these associations.  Towleroard observes as follows on the amicus filing:

[T]he good doctors offer scores of scientific data showing that same-sex parents do no hurt children, but that the government's prohibitions on marriage equality do.

From their introduction:
The claim that legal recognition of marriage for same–sex couples undermines the institution of marriage and harms their children is inconsistent with the scientific evidence. That evidence supports the conclusion that homosexuality is a normal expression of human sexuality that is not chosen; that gay and lesbian people form stable, committed relationships that are equivalent to heterosexual relationships in essential respects; and that same-sex couples are no less fit than heterosexual parents to raise children and their children are no less psychologically healthy and well-adjusted than children of opposite sex parents.
And this comes from a section called "Homosexuality Is A Normal Expression Of Human Sexuality, Is Generally Not Chosen, And Is Highly Resistant To Change:"
Current scientific and professional understanding is that the core feelings that form the basis for adult sexual orientation typically emerge between middle childhood and early adolescence, without any necessary prior sexual experience. Most gay men and lesbian women do not experience their sexual orientation as the result of a voluntary choice.
And then there's this bit from their final argument:

The foregoing shows that the attitudes towards and beliefs about lesbians and gay men relied on by Congress in enacting DOMA – about their capacity for committed, long lasting relationships, and their ability to raise healthy well-adjusted children – are contradicted by the scientific evidence and instead reflect an unreasoned antipathy towards an identifiable minority. Amici accordingly support the judgment of Judge White that § 3 of DOMA appears to be based on an explicit animus against gay men and lesbians. In institutionalizing greater access by heterosexuals than gay men and lesbians to the many federal resources and benefits accorded married couples and their children, the Act conveys the federal government’s judgment that committed intimate relationships between people of the same sex – even when recognized as legal marriages by the couple’s state – are inferior to heterosexual relationships.
I can already hear the shrieks and screams of Maggie Gallagher, Tony Perkins, Bryan Fischer and those of their ilk who enrich themselves by disseminating hatred and falsehoods against others.  As note many times before on this blog, there is absolutely NOTHING to justify anti-gay laws and constitutional amendments other that religious based bigotry and the writings of ignorant ans uneducated Bronze Age herders and nomads.  Writings that modern science is continuing to expose as false and inaccurate.  DOMA needs to be struck down as do anti-ga constitutional amendments such as Virginia's nasty Marshall-Newman Amendment

Yvonne Miller - The Loss of a Courageous Ally

Virginia state Senator Yvonne Miller died last week  Not only did Virginia lose a political pioneer - Miller was the first African American woman to serve in the Virginia General Assembly, first serving in the House of Delegates and then later the Senate - but LGBT Virginians lost a courageous ally.  In fact, Equality Virginia recognized Yvonne Miller as one of its "Legends" for the furtherance of civil rights for all at its Legends Gala in November, 2007.   The Legends award recognized among other things Miller's refusal to support the heinous anti-gay Marshall-Newman Amendment despite the intense pressure she was receiving from black pastors who had been duped into supporting the Amendment by the thinly veiled white supremacists, bigots and theocrats at The Family Foundation.   I recall that at the 2007 award gala, Senator Miller at first said she only wanted to say a word or two, but then got fired up and spoke at length about the importance of equality for all citizens.  She made a point of attending all Legends Gala events in subsequent years.  Here are highlights from the Virginian Pilot on her passing:

Hundreds of mourners, including dozens of state legislators, packed a Norfolk church Tuesday to pay tribute to state Sen. Yvonne Miller, the trailblazing lawmaker who died last week.

The first African American woman in both the House of Delegates and the state Senate, and the longest-serving woman ever in the Senate, Miller was eulogized as a passionate and tenacious defender of the dispossessed.

"She imitated Christ because she gave voice to the voiceless," especially children, whom she called "her precious ones," said state Sen. Donald McEachin, D-Richmond.

Miller was known for "standing up for public education, standing up for those who need help in the mental health area, standing up for those who are oppressed and those who live on the margins," McEachin said.

Miller, a Democrat who died after a battle with cancer July 3 - one day shy of her 78th birthday - had a unique blend of toughness and tenderness, former Gov. Tim Kaine said. "She was tough to the powerful, and she was tender to everybody else."

Tributes from President Barack Obama and Gov. Bob McDonnell were read to the crowd.

Born in Edenton, N.C., Miller was the oldest of 13 children and the first in her family to graduate from high school. She went on to earn a doctorate, taught 12 years in Norfolk's then-segregated school system and later spent 31 years as a Norfolk State University education professor.

Miller's life demonstrates that "one person can make a difference," said the Rev. William Tyree III of First Baptist Church, Berkley.

"Every accomplishment that Sen. Miller made, she reached back to pull somebody else along the way," Tyree said. "Every door of opportunity that was opened for her, she escorted somebody else who did not have opportunity or access."

I am proud that Equality Virginia honored this diminutive but tough fighter for equality and that I was on the Legends Committee when we chose to honor Yvonne Miller..

Wednesday Morning Male Beauty

Hate Group Weighs Boycott of Google Over "Legalize Love" Campaign

The lunatic and registered haters at the American Hate Family Association are besides themselves with Google.  Why?  Because Google has launched a world wide Legalize Love campaign to “to decriminalize homosexuality and eliminate homophobia around the world.”   Google describes the mindset as follows:

Though our business and employees are located in offices around the world, our policies on non-discrimination are universal throughout Google. We are proud to be recognised as a leader in LGBT inclusion efforts—but there’s still a long way to go.

At Google, we encourage people to bring their whole selves to work. In our more than 70 offices around the world, we’re committed to cultivating a work environment where Googlers can be themselves and thrive. Legalise Love is our drive to ensure that all of our employees have the same inclusive experience outside of the office as they do at work.

We’re always looking for ways to educate the broader community about LGBT rights and inclusion, through seminars, trainings and conferences hosted at Google. As part of the World Pride celebration in London this year, we brought 100 guests from LGBT advocacy groups, employee networks and diversity organizations to our office in London for the first ever Google Legalise Love Conference. Our goal was to start a debate about creating an inclusive workplace for LGBT employees around the world.

As I said, this has caused the spittle to fly at AFA.  Not surprisingly, the fools at AFA haven't thought through the reality that a boycott of Google - and Microsoft which has endorsed same sex marriage - would largely wipe the organization and its hate filled followers off of the Internet - something which candidly would be a good thing.   Right Wing Watch looks at this latest batshitery from AFA:

Google announced a new international campaign called Legalize Love “to decriminalize homosexuality and eliminate homophobia around the world,” and of course, the American Family Association is now weighing a boycott of Google products since the organization is already “boycotting efforts similar to this with other businesses,” like Home Depot and Oreo cookies. Buster Wilson, the general manager of the AFA’s radio network, said on AFA Today that a Google boycott “is going to be a hard one for a lot of us” but will “test the meat of our convictions.”

Here's a video clip of the lunacy:

Episcopal Church Approves Same-Sex Service

That the laws and state constitutional amendments that bar same sex marriage and civil unions are illegal restraints on the religious freedom of same sex couples is coming into even harsher focus.  These laws and amendments have enshrined one set of religious beliefs - i.e., those held by hate filled and bigoted conservative Christians - in the CIVIL laws.  In follow up to a development previously mentioned on this blog, the Episcopal Church has now formally approved same sex blessing services for same sex couples who seek civil unions and domestic partnerships (both of which are illegal and not legally recognized in Virginia).  The move brings the Episcopal Church in line with some other denominations that have come to allow such unions and in some cases full religious marriage.   It is long past time that these laws and amendments be struck down for what they are: illegal religious based discrimination and a denial of equal protection under the CIVIL laws.  Here are highlights from CNN on the move by the Episcopal Church:

Episcopal priests will be allowed to conduct services blessing same-sex relationships under a policy approved Tuesday at the church's national convention in Indianapolis.

The convention's House of Bishops approved the provisional policy 111-41 with three abstentions Monday, clearing it for consideration by the House of Deputies, which approved it Tuesday evening.  The policy was approved in the House of Deputies, following more than an hour of debate, by 78% of the voting lay members and by 76% of clergy.

With the vote, the Episcopal Church becomes the largest U.S. denomination to officially sanction same-sex relationships. The Episcopal Church has about 1.95 million members in the United States . . . . 

"We have authorized a blessing, and a blessing is different than a marriage," she said. "A blessing is a theological response to a monogamous, committed relationship."  Marriage requires the additional involvement of civil authorities, and many states do not allow gays to marry.

The only major U.S. denomination to endorse same-sex marriage across the board is the United Church of Christ, which did so in 2005.  In 2009, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America allowed member churches to recognize same-sex relationships, but stopped short of creating a churchwide policy or crafting a specific blessing service.

Randall Balmer, a Dartmouth University religion professor and an Episcopal priest who supports the change, said he expects little fallout from the policy within the American church. Most of the most conservative Episcopalians who oppose blessing same-sex relationships have probably already left the church, he said.
"In many ways, the church is tracking public sentiment," which is increasingly supportive of same-sex relationships, Balmer said ahead of Tuesday's vote. "The Episcopal Church is merely part of that trend."

One can just imagine the spittle that must be flying among the self-congratulatory professional Christian set and conservative Anglican leaders, at least some of whom are suspected of having ordered the massacre of Muslims, including women and children.   I believe that God is on the side of the Episcopal Church as opposed to the merchants of hate and bigotry.

GOP to the Uninsured: Drop Dead, Don't Use Contraception

To listen to Mitt Romney's campaign ads, one would think that the Republican Party was actually concerned about the nation's economy.  But the actions of Republicans in the House of Representatives reveal the GOP's real agenda: keeping millions of Americans without health care coverage and controlling a woman's vagina and uterus.  And as for the economy, the only real focus is to destroy it in the hopes of destroying Barack Obama.  The collateral damage done to countless lives and families doesn't matter.  It's not even on the GOP's radar screen.  First a column in the Washington Post looks at the continued quest to kill health care reform and the promise of health care coverage to some 30 million Americans, many of whom are children.  Here are excerpts:

The House is voting (again) to repeal the Affordable Care Act on Wednesday.  Meanwhile, six Republican governors (so far) say they won’t go along with the law’s planned Medicaid expansion for 4 million uninsured people in their states, even though the feds would pick up nearly all the tab.

Republican message to uninsured Americans in the wake of the Supreme Court’s recent ruling couldn’t be clearer: You’re on your own. 

The party may not have officially adopted the “let ’em die” policy of right-wing hecklers at that CNN primary debate, when Ron Paul was asked what should be done when uninsured folks show up at the hospital. But as a practical matter, Republicans are in pretty unsavory territory. What other conclusion can we draw when Rick Perry, who presides over a state where fully one in four people lack health coverage, makes swaggering indifference to these Texans’ plight a point of sovereign pride? 

In America — alone among wealthy nations — everyone is a pink slip or job change or new illness away from finding they’ve lost coverage or are uninsurable.  This is the shameful reality behind the GOP’s rhetoric on health care. Republicans don’t want to spend a penny to insure the uninsured.

As the ranks of the uninsured have soared, the size of Republican compassion has shriveled. Why?
Daniel Patrick Moynihan gave me the most convincing explanation not long before he died in 2003. “Those folks never vote for us,” he told me, summing up the Republican mind on the issue, “and we have our priorities for the money.”  Like trillions more in tax cuts for the best-off Americans over the next decade. 

Here’s what you should do, Mr. President. In the debates this fall, pull out a small laminated card you’ve had made as a prop for this purpose. Then remind Mitt Romney that the ranks of the uninsured today are equal to the combined populations of Oklahoma, Connecticut, Iowa, Mississippi, Kansas, Kentucky, Arkansas, Utah, Oregon, Nevada, New Mexico, West Virginia, Nebraska, Idaho, Maine, New Hampshire, Hawaii, Rhode Island, Montana, Delaware, North Dakota, South Dakota, Alaska, Vermont and Wyoming. Read that list slowly, Mr. President. Then ask your opponent: Would America turn its back on the citizens of these 25 states if everyone there lacked basic health coverage? That’s what we’ve been doing for decades.

What strikes me is the callousness and utter lack of compassion for other living, breathing human beings demonstrated by the GOP.  The hypocrisy is even more stomach wrenching as Republican elected officials and candidates profess their Christian beliefs and stick their noses so far up the ass of the Christian Right that it's a wonder they don't suffocate.  And then there's the GOP obsession with controlling sexual practices of women.  As The Hill reports, another effort is underway to kill the contraception mandate under the health care reform package of the Obama administration:

A new Republican bill would remove the teeth from a contentious Obama administration health mandate by barring the federal government from penalizing employers that do not comply.

The measure was written in response to the Affordable Care Act, which requires that most employers cover birth control without a co-pay for employees. Under the GOP bill, employers that object to birth control for religious reasons can refuse to cover it without facing financial penalties from the government. 

Sensenbrenner's bill would erase the taxes faced by employers who choose not to cover certain healthcare benefits "by reason of adherence to a religious belief or moral conviction." 

The GOP "moral conviction" is to increase unwanted pregnancies and once those babies are born to kick them to the curb and leave them uninsured.   Once a baby exits its mothers womb, in the world of the GOP it's on its own. The Party's moral bankruptcy is nearly complete.