Saturday, December 15, 2012

More Saturday Male Beauty

The Dallas Morning News Endorses Gay Marriage

Maggie Gallagher and porcine members of the Catholic hierarchy like Cardinal Timothy Dolan will be having the vapors and convulsing as now even in Texas one of the flagship newspapers has come out in favor of same sex marriage.  While in many ways Texas rivals Virginia in its animus towards gays in its legal framework, all of Texas' major cities are far more progressive than Virginia's cities and hence such an endorsement isn't so surprising once it is given a little reflection.  That's not to say that the Christofascists won't quickly launch into gay bashing over drive.  And I feel confident that the editorial board will quickly be branded as communists or anarchist by the knuckle draggers in "godly Christian circles.  Here are excerpts from the endorsement in the Dallas Morning News:

This newspaper applauds the Supreme Court’s recent decision to hear arguments in two same-sex marriage cases — one on California’s Proposition 8, which bans such marriages, and one regarding the Defense of Marriage Act, which denies federal benefits to legally married same-sex couples.

Same-sex marriage has been percolating at the state level for several years, leading to a patchwork of laws that create more confusion than clarity. The court can undo that confusion by determining the constitutional parameters of this issue.

We urge the Supreme Court to affirm the right of gay couples to marry based upon the fundamental American ideal of equality before the law. It is critical that the court also make clear that such a ruling won’t require churches whose doctrines oppose same-sex marriage to perform such ceremonies.

Polls show that American attitudes have shifted dramatically on the subject. Surveys by organizations such as Gallup reveal that half or more of Americans support the concept of gay marriage. Equality in marriage laws is particularly embraced by younger Americans, including some younger evangelicals.

Even leading conservatives favor gay marriage. Former Vice President Dick Cheney is among the most notable. So, too, is former Bush solicitor general Ted Olson, who will lead the team arguing in favor of the constitutionality of same-sex marriage.

Olson contends that the federal government lacks the right to deny gay couples the opportunity to marry. He also will argue that the ban denies gay couples the right to due process. As the Republican wrote in Newsweek, “This bedrock principle of equality is central to the political and legal convictions of Republicans, Democrats, liberals and conservatives alike.”

In 2004, this newspaper opposed a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage. We have backed efforts to outlaw discrimination against employees based on sexual orientation. Now, we believe that the Supreme Court should conclude that equality under the law includes the right of gay couples to wed.

What’s at stake before the Supreme Court is how a secular society should respond to the growing demand for same-sex marriage. That is where Olson’s arguments seem so persuasive. How can a secular government grant marriage rights to some but not others?

Illinois Begins Move on Marriage Equality

While Republicans in Virginia continue to march backward in time in every way imaginable, Democrats in Illinois are poised to bring that state in line with modernity and the growing support for same sex civil marriage.   Based on reports, legislation for marriage equality in Illinois could be introduced as soon as January 2013 and help fill in the void of Midwestern states other than Iowa.  I'm sure that we will quickly hear shrieks and witness sleets of flying spittle emanating from the Christofascists who are only content when forcing the hate and fear based beliefs on all citizens.  Here are highlights from Gay Star News:

Illinois looks set to become the next US state to legalize same-sex marriage, with two Democratic lawmakers announcing they will put forward a bill to create marriage equality in the state in 2013.

The move by Senator Heather Steans and Representative Greg Harris follows comments by Illinois state Governor Pat Quinn that he would like to see marriage equality legislation passed in the state as soon as January next year.

Senator Steans told USA Today that the pair were confident of securing enough votes in both houses to pass the bill.  ‘We're in striking distance of being able to get it done,’ Steans said.

If Quinn signs the bill into law, same-sex couples in Illinois could begin to marry from July 1.  Quinn told the Chicago Tribune on Monday, ‘I hope that bill goes forward.’

Illinois would become the tenth US state to legalize same-sex marriage, while same-sex marriages are also performed in the District of Columbia that houses the US capitol and on Suquamish and Coquille Native American reservations.

Quinn's comments come on the heels of same-sex couples beginning to wed in Washington state and Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton saying he would be willing to sign a marriage equality bill into law.

The Political Cowardice and Fear Must End

Adress Latif/Reuters
My earlier post looked at the whining by the usual suspects about the "politicization" of the gun massacre in Connecticut.  I made the case that the issue MUST be politicized because it is the only way that meaningful change can occur in order to make these horrible incidents much more rare.  A column in the Washington Post follows up on this theme. Here are some excerpts:

Twenty children and seven adults are dead in Newtown, Connecticut. This time, the cowardice, the fear, the evasion and the political convenience must end.

We have had enough. American politics is plagued by timidity and paralyzed by opportunism whenever we even consider talking action to curb gun violence. No other developed country in the world has these massacres on such a regular basis. In no comparable nation do citizens have such easy access to guns. On no public question other than gun violence are those who demand solutions after an ungodly episode accused of “politicizing tragedy.”

It is time to insist that such craven propaganda will no longer be taken seriously. If our political system does not act this time, we can deem it as totally bought and paid for by the representatives of gun manufacturers, gun dealers, and their very well-compensated lobbyists and mouthpieces.

"Regardless of politics.” That is what it will take. A president who no longer has to run for election is in a good position to say this, but he and the rest of us must change the politics of guns for those who will face the voters again. We cannot just be sad. We must be angry. We cannot just shake our heads. We must shake our fists, and wield our votes. We cannot just say that curbing gun violence is one issue among many. It is a paramount concern for our country.

And we will have to avoid the paralysis created by those who insists that every mass shooting is the work of one deranged individual and never, ever the result of flawed policies.

[W]e already know that it is far too easy to obtain guns in America. We already know that it is far too difficult to keep guns out of the hands of those who should not have them. And we already know that weapons are available that should not even be sold. We must act now to curb gun violence, or we never will.
A second op-ed underscores the ridiculousness and cowardice of politicians' refusal to stand up to the gun lobby so as to protect children and innocent citizens.  Here are the money quotes|:

We live in a society that makes it very, very easy to kill kids, although we want to pretend that isn’t true.  The 20 young children gunned down inside Sandy Hook Elementary School on Friday were swaddled in federally regulated, fire-retardant blankets, rode in elaborate car seats plastered with safety stickers, and learned to ride bikes with elbow pads, knee guards and safety helmets. Some of them may never have had a Twinkie pass their lips.

We worry about the hormones in their milk, the violence in “Spongebob Squarepants,” and yet this country tolerates the existence of a military-style assault weapon built for no purpose other than killing lots of people on a battlefield — fast.

People will continue to say that the right to bear arms is written into our Constitution. It’s a sticker on a truck, a political statement swathed in red, white and blue, a stand on tradition, individualism and a huge gun lobby soaked in cash and merciless about winning, winning, winning.
But nothing will change when it comes to guns in America.  That is something rotten and infected in our culture. And it breaks my heart, at least 27 different ways.

Saturday Morning Male Beauty

The Case for Impeaching Justice Antonin Scalia

This blog has noted the open animus of Supreme Court justice Antonin Scalia towards LGBT Americans.  Indeed, he has equated our relationships to murder and bestiality.  Yet his duties as a justice require that he be objective and base his rulings on the facts of the case before him and the legal arguments.  It's beyond obvious that there is no chance of that happening if Scalia is sitting on the Court when the Proposition 8 appeal and DOMA appeal cases come before the Court.  Scalia's conduct and statements go a long way to delegitimizing the Court and make it plain for all to see that impartial justice and equal rights under the law are impossible at least when Scalia is involved. Scalia has become a train wreck and needs to be removed from the Court.  A piece in The Daily Beast looks at why Scalia needs to be impeached.  Here are highlights:

By now it is well-known that Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia thinks homosexuality is immoral. In responding to a student during a talk at Princeton earlier this week, he said homosexuality is immoral in the same way that murder is immoral.

Scalia may agree that killing someone of the same (or opposite) sex is worse than loving someone of the same sex; but of course, murder is also worse than robbery and rape. What they all have in common, in the worldview of Antonin Scalia, is they are immoral.

[I]t is high time for Congress to do the right thing, protect the legacy and the future of the Supreme Court, and immediately impeach Justice Scalia.   

First, let’s stipulate that people are entitled to be crackpots. They are entitled to hold absurd viewpoints; and in the United States, thanks to the First Amendment, they are even entitled to express them.
But an associate justice on the United States Supreme Court has to play by different rules. We elect presidents and members of Congress precisely because of their political views; but we appoint judges only if we believe they will make every effort to transcend them. If they cannot or will not, it’s Congress’s job to take them out of the game. In Justice Scalia’s case, the time for that drastic action has long since arrived.
Removing a judge from the bench for expressing deeply held views will make some people on the left nervous and, as we saw when I floated a similar suggestion back in April, it will surely make many on the right apoplectic. Admittedly, it’s not something Congress has done before—but that’s only because the high court has never before harbored a member quite so imperious and intolerant as Antonin Scalia.

First, judges are supposed to be impartial. What does that mean? It doesn’t mean they are not supposed to have personal opinions; it means they are supposed to work very hard to avoid letting those opinions influence their legal judgments. For example, in the many years I have worked as a death-penalty lawyer, several Supreme Court justices, including most notably Justice Harry Blackmun, have said they personally oppose the death penalty, but that did not stop them from ruling against my clients and paving the way for their executions, because that is what they understood the law to dictate in those cases.  .  .  . In other words, most justices work their hardest to put their personal viewpoints aside. Justice Scalia doesn’t even pretend to try.

Remember, if any lower federal court judge said what Justice Scalia said this week, that judge would be barred by judicial ethics rules from participating in any case involving gay marriage.

There are nine judges in the United States who are not bound by those rules, but that does not mean it is ethical or acceptable when they violate them. It only means that when they do violate them, and then refuse to remove themselves from proceedings in which ordinary judges would be subject to mandatory removal, we must remove them some other way.

This brings us to the second thing I suspect most people agree on: there are lines, and if judges cross them, they should be removed from office. Reasonable people will disagree about precisely where those lines are located, but there is no doubt but that they exist. 

As Paul Campos wrote here earlier this week, Scalia’s problem is not that he has views: the problem is that his views are so reactionary and so far outside the mainstream of modern moral sentiment.  .  .  .  . But it is not simply that Justice Scalia clings like the Taliban to anachronistic ideals; it’s that he seems unwilling or unable to understand that he should decline to participate in cases where those very views undermine his neutrality.

Being confirmed by the Senate to sit on the Supreme Court may be a lifetime appointment, but that does not mean it isn’t subject to oversight. The Constitution permits judges to be removed when they no longer exhibit “good behavior.” The simple truth is that there is no definition of “good” that encompasses Justice Scalia’s behavior, particularly with regard to gay rights. His conduct is boorish and intemperate; his views are anachronistic and absurd; his moral authority is zilch. In short, he lacks every quality a good judge requires. 

From slavery to the mistreatment of women to the criminalization of consensual homosexual conduct to the stealth appointment of a President, our constitutional history is already sordid enough. It’s time to get rid of Antonin Scalia before it becomes dirtier still.

Republicans and NRA Refuse to Admit Their Complicity in Connecticut Massacre

The usual suspects on the right are once again denying that their love for unrestricted gun ownership played any role in the deadly massacre in Connecticut that left 28 dead, including 20 children.  One former Republican compatriot of mine sums up the rush to deny responsibility in this comment on my Facebook page:

Michael, it is nearly impossible - as soon as a weapon is outlawed, it gets manufactured with an altered design, which no longer makes it the outlawed gun. Don't politicize this most horrific tragedy - it is not a "Republican" moment for you.

This from a person who I once thought was rational.  I'm sorry, but this tragedy DOES need to be politicized because only by politicizing the nightmare and pointing fingers at those who have created a legal framework where guns that allow shooters to kill dozens in mere minutes are perfectly legal will we as a nation see the much needed changes to the nation's gun laws.  And here in Virginia, the Republican controlled General Assembly repealed the limit on the number of guns one can purchase per month, turning Virginia once again into the gun capital of the east coast.  It is political because one political party continues to make it possible for guns such as those used in this slaughter readily available.  As I said yesterday, in my view there is absolutely no reason why any civilian needs to have an automatic or semi-automatic assault rifle.    My former compatriot seemingly has conveniently forgotten the GOP's stance on guns:

TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — Republicans have strengthened the pro-gun-rights portion of their party platform, including a new call for unlimited bullet capacities in guns, in a defiant response to criticism that followed recent mass shootings at a Colorado cinema and an Arizona congresswoman's gathering.

The 2012 platform, approved this week by GOP convention-goers who nominated Mitt Romney for president, also endorses "stand your ground" rights for gun owners. That legal concept, which says gun bearers don't have to retreat if they feel threatened in a public place, drew national attention after February's fatal shooting of an unarmed Florida teenager by a neighborhood watch volunteer.

"We invite Americans to consider this platform, a call for dramatic change in government," Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell said in his convention speech Tuesday.

Yes, Taliban Bob, we do need to educate ourselves and hold the GOP responsible for the recklessness of its position on guns and its opposition to any meaningful gun control.   

One voice of sanity on this issue is New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg who has to deal with guns flowing into his city from states like Virginia that undermine law enforcement efforts in that city.   Here is what Bloomberg said in a statement released yesterday:

"With all the carnage from gun violence in our country, it's still almost impossible to believe that a mass shooting in a kindergarten class could happen. It has come to that. Not even kindergarteners learning their A,B,Cs are safe. We heard after Columbine that it was too soon to talk about gun laws. We heard it after Virginia Tech. After Tucson and Aurora and Oak Creek. And now we are hearing it again. For every day we wait, 34 more people are murdered with guns. Today, many of them were five-year olds. President Obama rightly sent his heartfelt condolences to the families in Newtown. But the country needs him to send a bill to Congress to fix this problem. Calling for 'meaningful action' is not enough. We need immediate action. We have heard all the rhetoric before. What we have not seen is leadership - not from the White House and not from Congress. That must end today. This is a national tragedy and it demands a national response. My deepest sympathies are with the families of all those affected, and my determination to stop this madness is stronger than ever."

To my former GOP compatriot I again say that this IS political and it needs to be politicized so that the political party that continues to enable such madness is held responsible.  I'd also suggest that my former compatriot stop drinking the Kool-Aid being dispensed by the NRA and other right wing groups.  It is bad enough that the GOP has become largely a party of religious fanatics and white supremacists.  The GOP doesn't have to continue to enable madmen to slaughter innocents as well simply to kiss the ass of people like Wayne LaPierre, president of the NRA who sounds eriely like my former GOP friend:

Eleven days ago—since when two mass shootings have taken place, this one in Newtown and another earlier this week at a shopping mall in Oregon—the National Rifle Association’s (NRA) president, referring to yet another shooting, bemoaned the media “[seizing] on the back of this national tragedy to try to piggyback their anti-Second Amendment national agenda right on top of the back of the national tragedy and try to force it on Americans all over the country.” Mr LaPierre, like the NRA’s Twitter page, has been silent today.
The article quoted above had another telling passage:
As it happens, halfway around the world, on the same day, a deranged man attacked primary-school students at a school in China’s Henan province. He had a knife. Twenty-two students were wounded. None died. Adam Lanza had a pair of handguns, and a .223 semi-automatic Bushmaster rifle, which looks like this:

Friday, December 14, 2012

Still More Friday Male Beauty

Quotes of the Day: Ezra Klein and David Frum on Today's Mass Murder

I will admit that diplomacy and tack are not always my strongest suit.  Especially on days like to day when the backward, knuckle dragging mindset of far right conservatives is once again responsible for enabling the murder of innocents as we witnessed today in Connecticut.   As noted in an earlier post, there is absolutely no legitimate reason for ordinary citizens to possess semi-automatic and automatic weaponry that by any common sense standard ought to be limited to appropriate police and military personnel.  Yet, time and time again we see politicians, especially Republicans, prostrating and prostituting themselves to the NRA and other organizations best known for a a racist and bigoted agenda.  In the aftermath of today's slaughter of 20 elementary school students that was enabled by gutless politicians who would rather kiss the ass of the NRA and other extremist groups rather than look out for the best interest of rank and file Americans, two pundits called it like it is and demanded that meaningful gun control and related legislative  be commenced.  The first is Ezra Klein of the Washington Post:

When we first collected much of this data, it was after the Aurora, Colo. shootings, and the air was thick with calls to avoid “politicizing” the tragedy. That is code, essentially, for “don’t talk about reforming our gun control laws.”

Let’s be clear: That is a form of politicization. When political actors construct a political argument that threatens political consequences if other political actors pursue a certain political outcome, that is, almost by definition, a politicization of the issue. It’s just a form of politicization favoring those who prefer the status quo to stricter gun control laws.

Since then, there have been more horrible, high-profile shootings. Jovan Belcher, a linebacker for the Kansas City Chiefs, took his girlfriend’s life and then his own. In Oregon, Jacob Tyler Roberts entered a mall holding a semi-automatic rifle and yelling “I am the shooter.” And, in Connecticut, at least 27 are dead — including 18 children — after a man opened fire at Sandy Hook Elementary School.

If roads were collapsing all across the United States, killing dozens of drivers, we would surely see that as a moment to talk about what we could do to keep roads from collapsing. If terrorists were detonating bombs in port after port, you can be sure Congress would be working to upgrade the nation’s security measures. If a plague was ripping through communities, public-health officials would be working feverishly to contain it.

Only with gun violence do we respond to repeated tragedies by saying that mourning is acceptable but discussing how to prevent more tragedies is not. “Too soon,” howl supporters of loose gun laws. But as others have observed, talking about how to stop mass shootings in the aftermath of a string of mass shootings isn’t “too soon.” It’s much too late.

On the other end of the political spectrum we find David Frum stating as follows:
Almost uniquely in the world, the United States suffers massacre after massacre after massacre: in schools, in workplaces, in movie theaters, on city streets. And after each such massacre, there follows a great hushing: don't you dare mention the most obvious reason for this unique American horror.
I experienced a small portion of this reaction personally today.

Earlier this week, the Seventh Circuit opened the way to a concealed-carry law in Illinois, the one remaining state not to allow citizens to carry weapons on their persons. The event moved me to revisit some writing I did this summer about the folly of imagining that law-abiding citizens make themselves more safe by owning weapons.  The pieces can be read here, here and here.

Reposting them elicited angry reaction, as writing about guns so often does. There is a small but vocal community that fancies it can protect itself against the millions of illicit guns on American streets by carrying weapons itself. The evidence for this point of view is highly dubious, but it's not a view that rests on evidence.

When the news of the school shooting first surfaced, my first reaction was anger. Again? Again?! I ventilated that anger in a bitter Tweet. . . . .

A permissive gun regime is not the only reason that the United States suffers so many atrocities like the one in Connecticut. An inadequate mental health system is surely at least as important a part of the answer, as are half a dozen other factors arising from some of the deepest wellsprings of American culture. 

Gun killings do occur even in countries that restrict guns with maximum severity.  But we can say that if the United States worked harder to keep guns out of the hands of dangerous people, there would be many, many fewer atrocities like the one in Connecticut.

And I'll say: I'll accept no lectures about "sensitivity" on days of tragedy like today from people who work the other 364 days of the year against any attempt to prevent such tragedies.

It's bad enough to have a gun lobby. It's the last straw when that lobby also sets up itself as the civility police. It may not be politically possible to do anything about the prevalence of weapons of mass murder. But it damn well ought to be possible to complain about them - and about the people who condone them.

Oh, and while it is ostensibly an unrelated issue, uncrowned GOP candidate for Governor here in Virginia, Ken Cuccinelli, supports almost unrestricted gun purchases.   Under the GOP controlled Virginia General Assembly, Virginia is once again the gun sales capital of the East Coast.  Please remember that reality when you cast your vote in November, 2013.  Children dies today because individuals like Cuccinelli prostitute themselves to the NRA and the gun lobby.  In my opinion, they have blood on their hands.

Elementary School Slaughter - Will We Again Hear the NRA and GOP Say "Guns Don't Kill"

Like many I am stunned by the still incomplete news coming out of Newtown, Connecticut where it appears 18 young students and 8 or 9 adults were murdered by a gunman with automatic weapons.  Reports indicate that at least 100 rounds were fired by the killer during the attack on the elementary school. As a parent and now a grand parent, I cannot imagine losing a child - especially to a shooting involving a weapon that should never have been allowed to be in the murderer's possession.  

Very troubling, among the reports is the following: AP: Suspect used .223 caliber rifle. The image above is a picture of a .223 rifle. This type of weapon is legal thanks to the efforts of the NRA and the Republican Party.  My question is, why in God's name does any law abiding citizen need to possess one of these killing machines?  When are parents and other sane Americans going to demand that these types of weapons be removed from the market and made illegal? 

In a totally hypocritical move CNN says that House Speaker John Boehner is having the flags at the U. S. Capitol lowered in "a tribute to families and victims."  Can someone get me a vomit bag?  If Boehner and his right wing cronies in the GOP gave a rat's ass about the families and victims, they would be introducing legislation TODAY to take these types of weapons off the street.  That, of course, will never happen because the GOP lacks the courage and decency to stand up to the NRA and the whacked out maniacs who now control the party base.  The hypocrisy of Boehner and his cohorts is sickening.

Morally Bankrupt Pope Benedict XVI Slams Gay Marriage Again

The incredible hypocrisy and arrogance of the leadership of the Roman Catholic Church is nothing short of breath taking at times.  Take the case of Pope Benedict XVI who has been documented to have protected predatory priest and exposed children and youths to rape and sexual molestation.  Despite his own foul misdeeds - which by all appearances are continuing as his bishops and cardinals continue to try to avoid accountability for the sex abuse scandal - Benedict has the nerve to describe same sex marriage as "an offense against the truth of the human person" that does serious harm to justice.  Excuse me, but what is an offense to truth and justice is the criminal conspiracy that Benedict XVI has overseen and orchestrated for decades.  ANSA.IT looks at Benedict's disingenuous lies.  Here are highlights:

Pope Benedict XVI has suggested that attempts to give gay unions the same status as marriages between men and women pose a threat to justice and peace.

"There is also a need to acknowledge and promote the natural structure of marriage as the union of a man and a woman in the face of attempts to make it juridically equivalent to radically different types of union," the pope said in his message for World Day of Peace 2013, which was presented by the Holy See on Friday.

"Such attempts actually harm and help to destabilize marriage, obscuring its specific nature and its indispensable role in society.

"These principles are not truths of faith, nor are they simply a corollary of the right to religious freedom.   .  .  .  this constitutes an offence against the truth of the human person, with serious harm to justice and peace".

The man truly has no shame and belongs behind bars - as do many others in the Church hierarchy.  As I have asked many times, why does anyone even listen to this man anymore knowing the crimes against children and youths that he has aided and abetted?

More Friday Male Beauty

Republicans Float Fiscal Cliff Fallback Plan

Having still not gotten the message that a majority of Americans do not want what they are peddling, Congressional Republicans continue to show that they are horses' asses and are plotting how to save face with the Christofascists/Tea Party base as the fiscal cliff deadline approaches.  If forced to accept even modest tax increases for the wealthy, indications are that the GOP will continue to seek draconian spending cuts on domestic programs that help far more Americans than their favored top 2% of taxpayers.  In short, these Republicans want to give the appearance of compromise, while wanting to still place the bulk of the burden on working class and middle class families.  Their reverse Robin Hodd mentality remains alive and well.  A piece in Huffington Post looks at the GOP's duplicitous strategy.  Here are highlights:

With negotiations on how to address the fiscal cliff apparently stalled, congressional Republicans are reportedly floating a fallback plan in both chambers of Congress to avert financial crisis if a deal is not reached. That plan would include ceding to President Obama on letting tax cuts expire for the top two percent of earners, but would also take a more hostile approach to other Democratic proposals. 

On Wednesday, Boehner warned House Republicans to not make plans for the upcoming holiday, signaling that there may not be a deal by the end of the year.   According to the New York Times and the Washington Post, Republican leaders are gearing up for that possibility and proposing an alternate strategy to pursue if a deal does not go through. The Times reports:
If no deal is reached, Republicans are increasingly talking about a more hostile outcome in which the House passes legislation that extends tax cuts for the middle class, sets relatively low tax rates on dividends, capital gains and inherited estates, and cancels the across-the-board defense cuts, but leaves in place across-the-board domestic cuts. Then House Republicans would engage in what Mr. Boehner, in a private meeting last week, called “trench warfare,” a running battle with the president on spending, first as the government approaches its statutory borrowing limit early next year, then in late March, when a stopgap government spending bill runs out. But such legislation might not be able to pass the Senate, leaving the country no closer to a resolution.
This strategy would result in significantly less new tax revenue than even Boehner's initial offer of $800 billion. Republicans could then declare victory on taxes while also appearing to compromise on extending middle class tax cuts, thus putting them in a position to pressure Democrats on spending cuts.


The Plight of LGBT Teens in Rural Areas

Some years back I traveled to Martinsville, Virginia (in Southwest Virginia) for the work I was doing in Moore v. Virginia Museum of Natural History and quickly came to think that being gay and living in that area would make the idea of razor blades to one's wrists looks rather attractive.  Martinsville is not only backwards in just about every way imaginable but it is also more than an hour's drive from anyplace that would be considered remotely gay friendly.  Sadly, Martinsville is too representative of much of rural America where ignorance and bigotry are proudly embraced, especially from the overly abundant Baptist church pulpits.  A new study by the Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network (GLSEN) looks at the plight of LGBT youth living in such areas.  The report can be accessed here.  Here are some of the findings:

Nearly all LGBT students in rural areas have heard homophobic, racist, sexist, and negative gender expression-based remarks. Furthermore, students in rural areas more frequently experienced derogatory comments than students in suburban and urban schools. For example:

 • 97% of rural LGBT students heard “gay” used in a negative way (e.g., “that’s so gay”) sometimes, often, or frequently in school. 94% heard other homophobic language (“dyke” or “faggot”) sometimes, often, or frequently.

 • 86% heard comments from students about someone not acting “masculine” enough sometimes, often, or frequently, and 69% heard such comments about students not acting “feminine” enough sometimes, often, or frequently.

 • A quarter or more of students also had heard school staff make homophobic remarks (25%), sexist remarks (30%), or negative remarks about someone’s gender expression (35%) sometimes, often, or frequently.

 • Rural students were more likely than suburban or urban students to hear most types of biased language, including homophobic remarks and negative comments about gender expression. Rural LGBT students reported that school staff members and students rarely intervened when biased comments were heard.

 • Only 13% of rural LGBT students said staff members intervened most or all of the time when homophobic comments were made, and only 11% said that staff members intervened most or all of the time when negative comments were made about gender expression.

 • Only 6% of students said that other students intervened most of the time or always when they heard homophobic remarks, and 5% said that about comments regarding gender expression.

 • Students in rural schools reported lower student and school staff intervention in homophobic remarks than suburban students.

A majority of rural LGBT students had been verbally harassed because of their sexual orientation or gender expression, and substantial numbers had experienced more severe physical harassment and physical assault because of these characteristics. Furthermore, although LGBT students across the country experienced harassment and abuse, students in rural areas were more frequently victimized than students in suburban and urban areas.

There is much, much more in the report and little of it is positive.  It underscores the reality that many in large progressive cities have no idea how horrible life can be for those of us in so-called red states, especially in rural backwaters like Martinsville and similar towns and cities across America.  Fueling all of the abuse and hate, of course are the "godly Christians" who believe they have the special right to torment and stigmatize anyone who doesn't conform to their backward, flat earth thinking.   The irony is that then these areas wonder why no new businesses and industries want to relocate to their regions.  Not surprisingly, Martinsville has one of the highest unemployment rates in Virginia.

Liberals Need to To Recover 'Hijacked' Christianity

Dan Savage is saying something that I have long advocated: progressive, non-hate filled Christians need to stop yielding the field to the Christofascist who have turned Christianity into something abhorrent that seems focused on the dissemination of hate and fear rather than the Gospel message of Christ.  These "good Christians" need to forcefully speak out and boldly confront the lies and despicable propaganda campaigns of the Christofascists.  From time to time it happens - e.g., some of the ELCA and Episcopal bishops who spoke out against anti-gay initiatives in Minnesota and Washington State - but sadly such is the rare exception and not the norm.  Why does this happen?  Because, in my view, too many pastors and bishops are more afraid of offending hate filled bigots than doing what is morally right.  Because of this cowardice, the Christian brand , if you will, is being destroyed and younger generations are simply walking away from religion.  Candidly, nowadays when I heard someone loudly pronounce that they are a Christian, my initial reaction is negative - I assume that they are a horrible bigot and hypocrite until it is proven otherwise. I suspect that I am not alone in this reaction.  Here are highlights from The Advocate on this issue:

Dan Savage wants liberal Christians to speak up in their churches and speak out about supporting their LGBT friends, family members, and fellow parishioners, the columnist and LGBT activist said in a video released today.

In the latest episode of Savage's new web series, American Savage, the founder of the It Gets Better Project says he's used to fielding complaints as a columnist from Christians who take offense at his across-the-board condemnation of Christians as antigay. 

"We're not all like that," Savage says he hears on a regular basis from people of faith responding to his syndicated sex advice column, Savage Love. He's heard the refrain so often that he's conjured a clever acronym to refer to liberal Christians who support LGBT equality: NALT Christians, or "Not All Like That."

"But the reason so many of us have the idea that you are, indeed, all like that, and the reason that Christian has become synonymous with antigay is because of these loud voices on the Christian right," says Savage in a featured clip of the gay activist speaking at Arizona State University. "And they've hijacked Christianity, with your complicit silence enabling their hijacking of it."

Friday Morning Male Beauty

Gay Suicide and Pastoral Malpractice

I do not hold back on expressing my view that over the course of history I believe that religion and religious belief have likely caused more harm than good and are directly responsible for countless deaths.  While some Christian denominations seem to be trying to move away from their toxic and often deadly pasts, others like the Roman Catholic Church and the Southern Baptist Convention appear to be moving in the opposite direction and increasing their vitriol against non-believers and those they claim their  myth based dogmas condemn.   It goes without saying that LGBT individuals of all ages continue to be a preferred target for hatred and stigmatization by the self-congratulatory, self-anointed  godly folks.  A piece in Religion Dispatches looks at the phenomenon in the wake of the suicide death of 17 year old Josh Pacheco, who killed himself because of constant anti-gay bullying.  Bullying that is encouraged and made respectable by the incessant mantra coming from far too many pulpits.   And bullying that  isn't restricted to physical violence.  Truth be told, most LGBT individuals experience persistent psychological violence - again almost exclusively because of the anti-gay jihad of fear and hate based religious denominations such as the Catholic Church and the Southern Baptists and, of course, the Mormon Church.  Here are some excerpts:

I don’t know Josh or his family. And I’ve never even been to Michigan.  But every queer person knows Josh Pacheco. Josh was a junior in high school and had just told his mother that he was gay. Like so many mothers, she wasn’t too surprised and was very supportive of her son. What did surprise her—what she didn’t know until very recently—was that Josh was the victim of persistent physical bullying and verbal harassment at school. Her son was a victim of violence.

“Queer” is not synonymous with “suicide,” as it has begun to seem. Not every queer person is on the brink of despair and self-destruction. Not every queer person is bullied by their peers or rejected by their parents. Not every queer person is vulnerable to depression or has a suicide plan at the ready.
But queer suicide should alarm us. It should keep us up at night. 

Violence against queer people runs much deeper than physical bullying, verbal harassment, or even hate crime murder. It is a violence that takes place at the level of the psyche, the soul—at the very level at which our sense of “self” is constructed within our relation to society.

It is a type of violence that cannot be assessed by examining bruises. Violence against queer people in any form is an ideologically aggravated, theologically intensified violence— legitimated by a discourse about queer people that is already embedded in the lives of both attacker and victim.
Insults like “fag,” often combined with physical assault, name the queer self as sick, sinful, or an object of disgust and derision—images that swirl in social consciousness long before blows are brought to bear upon a queer body.
Every queer person knows Josh Pacheco. Not every queer person grew up being pushed into lockers and teased at school like Josh. Not every queer person contemplates suicide. But the effects of insult and hatred that write themselves onto our bodies mark the life of every queer person. Every one of us is familiar with the kind of violence that psychiatrist Marie-France Hirigoyen so aptly calls “stalking the soul.”  Josh’s last note read, “I’m sorry I wasn’t able to be strong enough.”

As I said in a Religion Dispatches article after the spate of highly publicized bullying-related gay teen suicides back in 2010, anti-gay bullying is a theological issue. But, to be clear, queer suicide is more than a theological “issue.” It is an indicator of rampant ministerial malpractice.

By ministerial malpractice, I mean the negligent attitudes of clergy and congregations concerning the violence being enacted upon queer lives—not just the violence of bullying, but the persistent injury to the bodies, psyches, and souls of queer people.

By ministerial malpractice, I mean the youth minister who invites representatives of “ex-gay” ministries to speak to teenagers because these “practices of love” are theologically responsible, despite evidence of their destructive power.

By ministerial malpractice, I mean the pastor who knows the realities of violence enacted upon queer lives and is deeply concerned, but who, nevertheless, avoids any mention of sexuality in the pulpit so as not to upset parishioners.

By ministerial malpractice, I mean the theological scholar who prevaricates in public when asked about concerns of justice for queer lives—not even out of a sense of personal conviction on the matter, but in order to protect a public career: speaking invitations, book deals.

By ministerial malpractice, I mean the congregation that skirts around open discussions of queer affirmation, inclusion, and justice because they don’t want to become a “gay church” or (more liberally) they don’t want to be “defined by that one issue.”

The difficulty is that I know these people and these churches, and so does every reader of this article. More difficult is the realization that those of us who live and work in a religious context are the only ones capable of providing accountability for ministerial malpractice. 

I for one will not hold my breath waiting for anti-gay churches and congregations and the insidious professional Christian class to cease their violence both physical and psychological against LGBT people.  Instead I will try to educate people about the truth about those of us in the LGBT community and, with luck, more and more of these people will do what seems to be the trend with the "nones" and younger voters: see religion for the evil that it too often is and simply walk away. 

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Pope Benedict XVI Blesses Backer of "Kill the Gays Bill" at the Vatican

As noted numerous times on this blog, few individuals personify the moral bankruptcy of the Roman Catholic Church hierarchy more than the current occupant of the throne of St. Peter, Pope Benedict XVI.  Not only was he a Hitler Youth and member of the Nazi Army years ago, but Benedict XVI was documented to have engaged in the same type of cover ups and reassignments of know predatory priests that landed Monsignor Lynn of the Philadelphia archdiocese.  Now, Benedict has taken his repulsive, morally bankrupt anti-gay agenda to new heights.  How, one might ask?  By solicitously blessing Ugandan Parliament Speaker Rebecca Kadaga while she was at the Vatican even as she is pushing for passage of a bill that would send some LGBT individuals to prison for life even if the death penalty is ultimately stripped from Uganda's horrific bill endorsed by hate groups and Christofascist demagogue like Scott Lively, the author of the untethered from reality volume called The Pink Swastika which seeks to lay blame for the Holocaust and the Nazi regime on gays.  The website for the Uganda Parliament brags about the papal blessing.  Here are highlights:

Pope Benedict XVI has given blessings to Uganda Parliament Speaker Rt.Hon. Rebecca Kadaga during a mass attended by thousands of pilgrims at the Vatican Wednesday.

Kadaga who led a delegation of Ugandan legislators to the Vatican expressed delight at meeting the Pope and visiting St Peter’s Basilicca.

MPs Paula Turyahikayo,ElijahOkupa,AbduKatuntu,BettiAmongi, and Chris Baryomunsi who accompanied the Speaker were also delighted by the golden moment noting that their faith had been renewed by the Pope’s blessings.

Joe Jervis at Joe My God sums the situation up very succinctly:

And there you have it. A blessing from the Pope upon the woman who wants you executed. It can't get any plainer than that, can it?
Would that Benedict XVI had cared a fraction as much about ridding the Catholic clergy of child rapists as he does about eradicating gays from the face of the earth and encouraging undisguised violence against LGBT individuals.  As noted before, I suspect that there is a special place in Hell reserved for Benedict XVI as well as  Ms. Kadaga.  I am dumbfounded as to how any LGBT individual can remain a Catholic in light of the Church's anti-gay jihad.  One might just as well be a masochist who likes a touch of sadomasochism thrown in for good measure.

More Evidence That Gays Won the Election for Obama

With the general populace becoming more accepting of LGBT citizens and a plurality supporting same sex marriage, the Republican Party is increasingly setting itself up for electoral defeat by licking the boots of the Christofascists and subscribing to their anti-gay jihad.   Analysis of the vote in four states, including Virginia, confirms that but for the GOP's near total alienation of LGBT voters (in Virginia, Obama received 76% of the LGBT vote), shows that the lopsided pro-Obama LGBT vote is what allowed Obama to win all four states.  Here are highlights:

There are states with large and visible LGBT populations where marriage equality may present a more formidable challenge. Had LGBT voters not cast their ballots in Ohio and Florida, Governor Romney would have won those states. 

If the LGBT vote in Virginia had been less lopsided in President Obama's favor and more evenly split between the two candidates, Governor Romney would have also won that state. All three states have sufficiently large LGBT populations to influence a close election, but none have sexual orientation or gender identity anti-discrimination laws nor any relationship recognition rights for same-sex couples.
With Ken Cuccinelli about to be crowned as the GOP candidate for governor in 2013, the Virginia GOP will likely even further alienate LGBT voters and shifted even a higher percentage of the LGBT vote to the Democrats.  The Virginia GOP's continued willingness to prostitute itself to hate merchants at The Family Foundation will hopefully help see Cuccinelli defeated in 2013.

Thursday Morning Male Beauty

Homosexuality at Wingnut Patrick Henry College?

Virginia sadly has more than its share of loony bin crazy educational institutions including Pat Robertson's Regent University and the late Jerry Falwell's Liberty University.  But perhaps the craziest of all is Patrick Henry College ("PHC") located in Purcellville, Virginia, which is an Evangelical institution with an enrollment of approximately 325.  Patrick Henry College was founded by home school champion Mike Farris, a failed right wing politician, who takes Kool-Aid drinking to nearly unknown levels.  Now, Farris is acting like Iran's Ahmadinejad (Farris is indeed just as crazy and extreme) and claiming that homosexuality cannot possible exist at his bizarre Christianist institution.  The firestorm started back in July when three anonymous writers with ties to the school launched a controversial blog titled Queer at Patrick Henry College. Frankly, I am not surprised that closet cases exist at PHC.  Friends who used to live in Lynchburg, the home of Liberty University, have related how the gay chat rooms and hook up sites were always filled with married Liberty faculty members and Liberty students.  The Loudoun Times looks at this entertaining controversy.  Here are highlights:

Gay students at Patrick Henry College in Purcellville don’t exist. They can’t exist.  So says Dr. Michael Farris, the college’s founder and chancellor.  It’s simple, really. Homosexuals can’t exist at Patrick Henry College because the students sign an honor code, Farris claimed. “[Homosexuals] could not sign our honor code,” Farris said, adding that he considers the actions of gay men and women “sinful.” “Part of the honor code is to be sexually pure,” he added.

So you can imagine the chancellor’s consternation when he learned of Queer at Patrick Henry College, a six-month-old, provocatively-titled blog operated by three pseudonymous writers – all of whom graduated from or have taken classes at the school.

Queer at Patrick Henry College’s intent is to be a “safe online space for closeted students and alumni to share thoughts about LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning) issues, without the risk of school punishment,” according to one of the blog’s founders, who goes by the nom de plume Kate Kane.

“Currently there are three contributors, though we are in contact with other students and graduates who are LGBTQ or identify as straight allies,” Kane said.  Kane and co-founder Alan Scott told the Times-Mirror the reasons for anonymity range from not yet “coming out” to friends and family to professional connections to the school.

The pseudonyms were not chosen by accident. Katherine Kane is the name of “Batwoman” in DC Comics. Kane’s character has received attention for being arguably the most prominent LGBT superhero. Alan Scott is the fictional name of DC Comics’ Golden Age “Green Lantern,” who was recently reintroduced in the series as a gay superhero. The third regular blogger at Queer at Patrick Henry, Captain Jack, takes the name of Jack Harkness, a character from the BBC’s “Doctor Who” and its spinoff “Torchwood.” Harkness is the first non-heterosexual character in televised “Doctor Who.” 

Dr. Farris is not a fan. On Dec. 1 the chancellor sent a message to Queer at Patrick Henry through Facebook.   “This page is in violation of our copyright of the name Patrick Henry College,” Farris wrote. “... you must remove this page at once. On Monday, we will began (sic) the legal steps to seek removal from Facebook and from the courts if necessary. In the process of this matter we can seek discovery from Facebook to learn your identity and seek damages from you as permitted by law. The best thing for all concerned is for you to simply remove this page.”  The next day, Farris withdrew his legal bluff. Again through Facebook, the chancellor and constitutional lawyer stated: “After further consultation, I withdraw my note from yesterday. While we believe in the inappropriate nature of the use of our trademarked name, we believe that litigation is not appropriate.”

But Farris’ correspondence had already put in motion a stirring week on campus, according to people familiar with the situation.  A  source close to the college, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, told the Times-Mirror the blog was “all anyone [was] talking about” on campus.

Upon launching Queer at Patrick Henry (, Kane and Scott were inspired by blogs at other Christian colleges, namely BJUnity at Bob Jones University in upstate South Carolina. Kane and Scott recalled wishing there was a similar support network and outlet for Patrick Henry College students that felt they had no one to talk with about sexuality and the range of emotions that go with realizing one is gay.  “Since we didn’t see any other PHC students or alumni stepping forward to create such a network, we decided to start QPHC,” Kane said.

Known as a favorite institution for Evangelical parents and their children, Patrick Henry College has an estimated enrollment of 325, many of which were homeschooled in their pre-college years. In addition to the college, Farris is the founder of the Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA), which maintains a close connection with the school – the Purcellville campus serves as the HSLDA headquarters.
Scott said he knows numerous students who have experienced feelings of isolation and loneliness because of their sexuality. The college can feel “very oppressive at times,” he said, which is why the blog is so essential.  “Queer at Patrick Henry wants to make sure [students] know theyaren’t alone and that it is possible to both accept one’s queerness and continue strongly in one’s faith,” Scott said.

In his comments to the Times-Mirror, Farris made clear Patrick Henry College is not a friendly environment for homosexuals.

One question naturally comes to mind when considering Patrick Henry College and gay rights and tolerance: “Why would an openly gay, bisexual or transgender person, or someone who’s questioning their sexuality, choose to attend a hard-line Christian institution?”  "It’ s a good question,” Kane said. “And there are a few answers ... I know for me, if my parents were going to sign off on a loan for school, it had to be fundamentalist college.” (Farris said he does not consider the school to be “fundamentalist.”) 

Scott and other sources maintain a surge of conversations about gay issues have come about since word of Farris’ threat spread.  “I remain hopeful for the possibility of more positive interactions with [administration] in the future,” Scott said. “I look forward to when it is possible to have mature, open, honest and loving conversation about LGBTQ issues at PHC without students or alumni experiencing fear of reprisal, rejection, or shaming.” 

In my opinion, few people are more unhinged from reality than Mike Farris.  I love it that Queer at Patrick Henry is forcing Farris to have at least some slight experience with reality and the fact that God made some of us gay notwithstanding the writings of ignorant Neolithic herders that Farris embraces as the literal truth.

The GOP's Continued War on Workers

In the wake of their 2012 election losses many Republicans through their actions are making it clear that their real goal is to return America to the Gilded Age - a time when unions did not exist, working conditions were dangerous and employee benefits like health insurance were unknown.  Indeed, it seems that they would embrace working conditions that resulted in the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory inferno a hundred years ago.  Why else would the GOP be pushing for so-called "right to work" laws that guarantee that corporations can pay workers less, strip away benefits, and send more workers on a road to serfdom?  While some in the GOP are figuring out that the GOP war on workers, women, gays, immigrants and minorities isn't going to lead to improved electoral results in the future, most seem only too happy continuing to trying to drag America back to the often brutal 19th Century.  An op-ed in the Washington Post looks at the phenomenon.  Here are excerpts:

There is, unfortunately, another school of thought on the right that rejects adjusting to a new electorate and to circumstances very different from the ones that Ronald Reagan inherited in 1980. Strategies for future victories are based on a naked use of government power to alter the political playing field in a way that diminishes the political influence of groups likely to be hostile to the conservative agenda.

The tea party movement cast itself as an authentic grass-roots expression of democracy, and in some ways it was. But the conservative legislatures it swept into office in so many states in 2010 took decidedly anti-democratic actions aimed at reducing the size of the electorate through a variety of voter-suppression measures — hard-to-obtain voter IDs, shorter early-voting periods, new barriers to voter registration drives and long ballots that slowed the lines on Election Day.

Now comes Michigan’s new right-to-work law, passed Tuesday in a travesty of normal democratic deliberation. This effort to weaken unions would be problematic in any event. The moral case for unions is that they give bargaining strength to workers who would have far less capacity to improve their wages and benefits negotiating as individuals. Further gutting unions is the last thing we need to do at a time when the income gap is growing.

But beyond that, the way Gov. Rick Snyder (R) and the Republican Michigan Legislature rushed right-to-work through a lame-duck session was insidious. The anti-union crowd waited until after the election to pass it.

The political motivation here is obvious. Union families are the premier cross-racial Democratic constituency. Nationwide, President Obama carried union households by 18 points but non-union households by only one point — a “union gap” of 17 points. In Michigan, the union gap was an astonishing 32 points: Obama won union households 66 percent to 33 percent, the rest of the electorate by 50 percent to 49 percent.

But the most disturbing aspect of the Michigan power grab is what it says about where the conservative argument may go. Those willing to expand the appeal of conservatism by refreshing it will face opposition from those who would try to make new thinking unnecessary. They’d simply rig the rules to chip away at the political capacity of groups that don’t buy into conservative orthodoxy. 
Increasingly, I do not see how a truly moral person can be a part of today's GOP.  I guess I shouldn't be surprised, however, since no one is more lacking in true morality than the Christofascists in the GOP base who talk about moral values but are best defined by their contempt for and hatred of others.  

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

More Wednesday Male Beauty

Palmetto Queen, Lindsey Graham Bashes Gays

The hypocrisy of likely closeted GOP queens seems to have no limits.  A case in point, South Carolina's 57 year old,  totally not-gay, never been married U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham.   Isn't it funny how the loudest homophobes - think former Congressman Ed Schrock, former Senator Larry Craig, and of course Ted Haggard - always seem to be the ones caught soliciting or engaging in gay sex on the down-low or in public rest rooms.  A piece at The New Civil Rights Movement looks at the anti-gay bullshit spouted by the Palmetto Queen yesterday.  Here are highlights:

Republican U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham last night used polygamy and murder to define the boundaries of the “debate” on same-sex marriage, just as Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia used murder and bestiality to define the area of debate in which same-sex marriage should exist.

Invoking issues like murder, bestiality, and polygamy is offensive and wholly facetious, and ”facile,” as Piers Morgan responded. Senator Graham also blamed the media for the public’s embrace of marriage equality, and — when all was said and done — stated he believes the states should have the right to decide who marries and who does not, especially because in his home state of South Carolina, religion is the reason “we’re not going to change the definition of traditional marriage.”

Graham, who says the media paints LGBT people as funny, charming, and kind” — as if that’s problematic — says he doesn’t “hate,” he just feels “traditional marriage” is “best for society,” and challenged CNN host Piers Morgan to pass a constitutional amendment if he wants same-sex couples to be able to marry. Morgan attacked Senators Graham, McCain, and Lieberman as “unAmerican” for their views on marriage equality.

It’s time for more people to have the good sense to take the tone and approach of Princeton freshman Duncan Hosie, who this week won accolades for personally speaking  up — in the same room — to Scalia for his usage of murder, bestiality, and other inappropriate references when discussing the right of same-sex couple to civil marriage.
One can only hope that like Schrock, Craig and Haggard,  Graham will ultimately be "outed" and his rank hypocrisy exposed for all to see.

Outside of the GOP Bubble, Americans Believe Obama Has a Mandate

The delusions that continue to exist in the fantasy world inside the GOP bubble are amazing. Take for instance the House Republican's belief that they have a popular mandate to oppose the Obama/Democrat tax and budget proposals.  In the real world, a new Bloomberg survey finds that a majority of Americans, in fact, believe the exact opposite of the alternate reality within the GOP its Tea Party affiliate.  Indeed, Obama's overall approval numbers have increased and some 65% of Americans believe that Obama has a clear mandate.  Here are some highlights from Bloomberg:

President Barack Obama won the public argument over taxes so decisively that almost half of Republicans now say he has an election mandate to raise rates on the rich. 

Majorities of about 2-to-1 also read the election results as an endorsement of Obama’s pledge to protect Social Security and Medicare benefits, according to a Bloomberg National Poll of 1,000 adults conducted Dec. 7-10. 

The president’s job approval strengthened to 53 percent from 49 percent in September. The last time he enjoyed that level of public backing was December 2009, when his job approval was 54 percent. 

The combined findings give Obama “an opportunity to negotiate from a position of strength,” said Ann Selzer, the founder of Selzer & Co., a Des Moines, Iowa-based firm that conducted the poll. “This is what the public is saying he was elected to do.” 

The election “was basically a referendum that wealthy people could and would pay more,” said poll respondent Jim Johnson, 66, of Littleton, Colorado, a retired telecommunications executive and a Republican who voted for Mitt Romney. “It was perfectly clear. That was Obama’s stance throughout the election.” 

Poll respondent Gerald Watts, 75, of Lake Quivira, Kansas, a retired engineer and another Republican who voted for Romney, read the election results the same way.  “Every time we listened to him on TV, he’d start talking about raising taxes on the rich -- every news conference, every time he went up in front of a group,” said Watts. “He didn’t want to talk about anything else.” 

Even so, the differences among congressional Republicans on taxes, with Senator Bob Corker of Tennessee the latest to break from his leaders to call for raising rates on high earners, reflect a division among the party ranks. Fifty-three percent of Republicans say the election didn’t give Obama a mandate on taxes.

Public sentiment also strengthens the president’s position on entitlements. A 64 percent majority says Obama can claim a mandate to protect Social Security from “substantial budget cuts” and 62 percent see a voter directive to prevent “fundamental change” in Medicare.  

A 57 percent majority of Americans say voters gave a go- ahead on an overhaul of immigration law to provide a path to legal status for illegal immigrants, one of the administration’s priorities in its second term. Fifty-eight percent of political independents see an immigration mandate. 

Republican respondents’ differ, with 63 percent rejecting the idea that Obama’s victory implies public support for legislation enabling legal status for undocumented immigrants.

Andrew Sullivan has telling remarks on the GOP's refusal to accept reality:

The longer the Congressional Republicans remain in denial about this, the more isolated they will become.  .   .   .   .   These two men[the one's quoted in Bloomberg, above]  are smack in the middle of the GOP's current demographics. And, unlike the foam-flecked mouth-pieces on Fox, they are admirably civic in their understanding of politics. Listen to them, Mr Speaker. And lead.


Additional Lawyer Selected to Argue in Supreme Court DOMA Case

In a somewhat unusual move, the United States Supreme Court has selected an additional attorney to argue two procedural issues raised in the Edie Windsor DOMA case, namely that (1) that the Supreme Court does not have standing to review the U. S. Court Appeals for the Second Circuit ruling because Executive Branch has already conceded that DOMA is unconstitutional, and (2) the House of Representatives’ Republican leaders do not have a right to appear in the case under Article III of the Constitution which states the jurisdiction of the federal courts, including the Supreme Court, and the types of cases these courts can consider.  SCOTUS Blog looks at this development which suggest that in both the Prop 8 appeal and the DOMA appeal, the Supreme Court could using a decision of lack of standing to avoid rendering a substantive ruling.  The result would be that (a) the ruling striking down DOMA would stand and (b) the ruling striking down Prop 8 would stand and the impacts would be limited to the Second and arguably the First Circuits and, in the case of Prop 8, California, respectively.  Here are some article highlights:

The Supreme Court on Tuesday chose a Harvard professor of constitutional law, Vicki C. Jackson, to argue that the Court does not have the authority to rule on the constitutionality of the federal Defense of Marriage Act. She will file a brief and appear to argue the two procedural issues that the Court itself had raised in agreeing last Friday to consider DOMA’s validity.

Jackson, who joined the Harvard faculty last year after several years at the Georgetown University Law Center, will contend that the executive branch’s agreement with a lower court that DOMA is invalid takes away the Justices’ authority to rule on DOMA, and that the House of Representatives’ Republican leaders do not have a right to appear in the case under Article III of the Constitution. The professor will appear in the case as an amicus to make only those points, not to join in the debate over the constitutionality of DOMA, which the Court also will be considering.

When the Court accepted for review two cases on the same-sex marriage issue, it added questions to each on issues about its authority to rule. The second granted case involves the constitutionality of California’s “Proposition 8,” withdrawing the right of gays and lesbians to marry in that state. In that case, the Court also will be considering whether the proponents of “Proposition 8″ as a ballot measure have a right under Article III to appeal a lower court decision striking down that measure.

With the addition of Professor Jackson to the DOMA case, it appears likely that the Court will expand the argument time for that case beyond the usual one hour. It is unclear when the Court will announce an argument schedule for the new marriage cases.

The Court presumably reached beyond the two parties in the DOMA case for a lawyer to argue the procedural points, since the parties themselves disagree. The federal government has been willing to allow the House GOP leaders to be in court to defend DOMA’s constitutionality, since the government is no longer doing so, but has raised questions about whether the Republican leaders’ petition is the one the Court should consider on DOMA. In turn, the Republican leaders have contended that, since the government got its way in the Second Circuit Court, it is not a proper party to be appealing this case on DOMA. Professor Jackson, a neutral, will argue against both as the proper parties.

HRBOR December Second Thursday - 12-13-12

Sorry about the late reminder, but I hope local readers will make an effort to come celebrate the holidays with HRBOR at PNC Bank on Main Street in Downtown Norfolk for a night of business networking and good cheer. Please note that in December only, Third Thursday is moved to the Second Thursday so you can travel or spend more time with your family over the holidays. Again, I hope you are able to join HRBOR tomorrow on Thursday, December 13th, 2012!

What: HRBOR Third Thursday Business Networking Event
Event Host and Food & Beverage Sponsor:

PNC Bank/Kathleen Nicholas

Where: PNC Bank, 555 East Main St 1st Floor, Norfolk VA 23510 (757) 892-2400

When: Business Networking: Dec 13th, 6 - 8 pm

Parking: Free Parking in Garage but can not enter parking garage after 7:00 PM, must arrive and park before 7 PM or find alternate parking.

Featured Non-Profit: PFLAG (Parents, Family and Friends of Lesbians and Gays

Third Thursday Cost: Free to Members, $15 Guest Fee for Guests and Prospective Members