Saturday, April 20, 2013

More Saturday Male Beauty

GOP Ties Immigration Reform Bill to Boston Terrorists

The ugliness and bigotry of today's Republican Party seems to truly know no limits as GOP elected officials leap at opportunities to pander to the racism and downright nastiness of the GOP base in the wake of the tragedies in Boston this week.  Not only do prominent Republicans want to suspend legal protections afforded to every American citizen, but they also want to use the Boston nightmare as a rationale for turning back efforts at desperately needed immigration reform.  And behind it all is the fury of angry conservative Christian white males in particular who simply cannot deal with the loss of the special privileges and deference that they have enjoyed for so many years.  One of the assholes leading the anti-immigrant charge is Republican U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley, a true douche bag if there ever was one in my opinion.  The Des Moines Register ahs details on Grassley's anti-immigrant rant.  Here are excerpts:

The Boston Marathon bombings cast a shadow Friday over the start of debate on sweeping legislation to remake the U.S. immigration system, as some Republicans argued that the role of two immigrant suspects raised questions about gaps in the system.

Once officials learn the immigration history of the suspected marathon terrorists, that information will help figure out how to reform the system, Republican U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley said Friday.

“While we don’t yet know the immigration status of people who have terrorized the communities in Massachusetts, when we find out, it will help shed light on the weaknesses of our system,” Grassley said during the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee hearing Friday morning on the so-called Gang of Eight’s immigration reform bill.

How can individuals evade authority and plan such attacks on our soil?” said Grassley, the top Republican on the committee. “How can we beef up security checks on those who wish to enter the United States? How do we ensure that people who wish to do us harm are not eligible for benefits under the immigration laws, including this new bill before us?”

Others went further.

“It’s too bad Suspect No. 1 won’t be able to be legalized by Marco Rubio, now,” conservative commentator Ann Coulter wrote on her Twitter account, referring to the suspect killed in the shootout. Rubio, a Florida Republican, is one of the main Senate authors of the legislation.

On Tuesday, U.S. Rep. Steve King, R-Ia., said Congress should be cautious about reforming immigration policies right now. King said the focus should be national security, not a path to legalization for immigrants who came to the country illegally.

 There's more, but the main point to take away is that if one isn't a racist, an jingoistic nationalist, a far right Christianist religious extremist or a homophobe, you really do not have a place in today's GOP.  And as for fiscal conservatism, the GOP lost all credibility on the issue when Chimoerator Bush and Emperor Palpatine Cheney took America to war in unfunded operation (in Afghanistan and Iraq) based on lies and untruths after first enacting massive tax cuts to the wealthy.  Half of the current national debt tracks directly to failed GOP policies.

Virginia: Ground Zero for Same-Sex Unions?

Terry McAuliffe
Absent a U. S. Supreme Court Ruling that extends gay marriage nationwide - something I'd like to see but do not necessarily expect - gay marriage will likely become an issue in the gubernatorial race in Virginia between the GOP's rabid gay hater Ken "Kookinelli" Cuccinelli, and Democrat Terry McAuliffe who has come out for same sex marriage.  Inasmuch as Kookinelli is the darling of the Christofascists, funds from anti-gay groups will like pour in from around the country in the hope of electing a Kool-Aid drinker of the first order in the Governor's mansion.  On the Democrat side, with the Democrat Party largely in support off gay marriage, funds from the other side of the issue will flow to Virginia as well.  An article in Politico looks at this coming contest.  Here are highlights:

Events are converging to make Virginia ground zero in the battle over same-sex marriage this year.  For the first time in southern political history, Democrats will nominate a gubernatorial candidate - Terry McAuliffe - who says there is a federal constitutional right to same-sex marriage. Every southern state has a constitutional amendment prohibiting same-sex marriage. McAuliffe’s position would mean all such laws are illegal under the Constitution.

McAauliffe held the opposite view in 2009 during a losing race for governor. But this reversal by the former chairman of the Democratic National Committee is a de facto proxy for his party’s rapid shift on this controversial issue. President Barack Obama, former President Bill Clinton, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Virginia Sens. Mark Warner and Tim Kaine have all had a similar reversal in recent months.

Virginia passed its same-sex marriage ban by a significant majority in 2006. The 2013 Republican gubernatorial candidate - Ken Cuccinelli – helped lead the winning side. As the state’s Attorney General, he has been a steadfast backer of the law, which also denies recognition to same-sex marriages legally performed in other states.

Since Virginia seems certain to be the lone competitive contest for governor this year, exploiting the contrast will prove irresistible to the media - especially the national press.

McAuliffe and the Democratic candidate for Attorney General will pledge to use the power of their offices to achieve what they regard as equality for same-sex couples. Cuccinelli and the Republican candidate for Attorney General will counter-pledge to use the power of their offices to protect traditional marriage. Democratic activists will accuse the GOP ticket of being “unreconstructed conservative bigots.” Republican activists will counter by charging Democrats with the “liberal homosexual agenda.”

Hot button social issues did admittedly dominate Virginia gubernatorial elections during the segregationist era. But a new competitive two-party system emerged in 1977. Since then, “bread and butter” issues – budget, crime, economic growth, education, jobs, spending and taxes, transportation – have risen to the fore. The last time a social issue decided a gubernatorial election was in 1989.

Now in 2013, the Supreme Court is again poised to issue a potentially explosive mid-campaign ruling, this time on same-sex marriage. We expect the decision to excite and enrage at the same time, similar to the swirling dynamics that reshuffled the campaign deck in 1989.

Virginia politics was previously roiled the last time the Supreme Court decided a major marriage equality case. For years, conservative governors and attorneys general had strongly defended the state’s ban on interracial marriages. But after a long court battle, a 1967 Supreme Court decision, Loving v. Virginia, overruled the Commonwealth’s prohibition.
But current polls suggest Virginians may now favor same-sex marriages. Republicans charge Democrats with being political opportunists without any real constitutional principles. Democrats reject this label, declaring their change sincere, consistent with the 14th Amendment to the Constitution.

Same-sex marriage backers know they would greatly advance their cause with their first win ever in a Southern state. Their opponents likewise understand the potential domino effect of losing in a conservative state that only 7 years ago strongly rejected same-same marriage.

Aiding Kookinelli will be extremist organizations and hate groups like The Family Foundation which lead a deliberately false and dishonest campaign in 2006 that helped dupe Virginians into voting for the heinous Marshall-Newman amendment.  We can expect many more lies to flow from the "godly Christian" folk between now and November.  No one lies as consistently and as deliberately as the Christianists.  Oh, and did I mention that the ancestors of the folks at The Family Foundation opposed interracial marriage too?

GOP Ready to Overthrow Constitution and Bill of Rights After Boston

Numerous studies have shown that the United States ranks up with Russia and China when it comes to the level of surveillance and lack of privacy for citizens.  Now, in the wake of the Boston Marathon bombings and the capture of Dzhokar Tsarnaev, leading members of the GOP want to toss out legal protections guaranteed to U.S. citizens.  For a political party that whines incessantly about the "slippery slope" that could be triggered by gay rights and same sex marriage and an abusive federal government, they are oblivious to the much more frightening slippery slope that will be set in motion if Tsarnaev is treated as an "enemy combatant."  Once exceptions to the rule of law, right to trial by jury, etc., are made and worse yet, become acceptable, all of us are ultimately at risk to an unrestrained government.  One need only look at how the Nazis slowly undermined the rule of law in Germany in the 1930's for a case study of where this slippery slope can lead.  Emotion - and pandering to a misogynistic party base - do not justify jettisoning constitutional protections for citizens.  A piece in Politico looks at the GOP rush to subvert the processes that all of us should support.  Here are highlights:

Sens. Lindsey Graham and John McCain are calling for the surviving suspect in the Boston Marathon bombings to be tried as an enemy combatant, rather than as an ordinary criminal.

“Under the Law of War we can hold this suspect as a potential enemy combatant not entitled to Miranda warnings or the appointment of counsel,” the Republicans said in a statement released Friday night. “Our goal at this critical juncture should be to gather intelligence and protect our nation from further attacks. We remain under threat from radical Islam and we hope the Obama Administration will seriously consider the enemy combatant option.”

“Now that the suspect is in custody, the last thing we should want is for him to remain silent,” they said. “It is absolutely vital the suspect be questioned for intelligence gathering purposes. We need to know about any possible future attacks which could take additional American lives. The least of our worries is a criminal trial which will likely be held years from now.”

President Barack Obama offered a possible nod to that issue in his televised address Friday night, saying that “it’s important that we do this right.”  “That’s why we have investigations. That’s why we relentlessly gather the facts. That’s why we have courts,” Obama said.

I am not opposed to questioning Tsarnaev and doing things right, but let's not forget that under Bush/Cheney, America violated the Geneva Conventions and engaged in illegal torture.  Indeed, Bush and Cheney deserve to be tried for war crimes.  Now the same mind set wants to undermine protections at home for U.S. citizens.  I find it scary to say the least.  In some ways since 9-11 we are slowly drifting towards a police state and many people don't even realize that it is happening.  One would think that John McCain of all people would be worried about abuses and possible torture.

Saturday Morning Male Beauty

Study: Belief in an Angry God Associated with Mental Illnesses

An article about a new study that has correlated belief in an angry God with a variety of forms of mental illness was too good pass up for a post.  It could well go a long way towards explaining the behavior of the Christofascists and seemingly, Islamic extremists as well.   The study is reported in the April edition of Journal of Religion & Health and makes for interesting reading.  Here is an abstract from the study:


This study examines the association between beliefs about God and psychiatric symptoms in the context of Evolutionary Threat Assessment System Theory, using data from the 2010 Baylor Religion Survey of US Adults (N = 1,426). Three beliefs about God were tested separately in ordinary least squares regression models to predict five classes of psychiatric symptoms: general anxiety, social anxiety, paranoia, obsession, and compulsion. Belief in a punitive God was positively associated with four psychiatric symptoms, while belief in a benevolent God was negatively associated with four psychiatric symptoms, controlling for demographic characteristics, religiousness, and strength of belief in God. Belief in a deistic God and one’s overall belief in God were not significantly related to any psychiatric symptoms.

Raw Story discusses the study findings (access to the full journal article requires a subscription).  Here are some highlights:

People who believe in an angry, punishing God are much more likely to suffer from a variety of mental illnesses, a scientific study published in the April edition of Journal of Religion & Health finds.

The study, conducted by Marymount Manhattan College Assistant Psychology Professor Nava Silton, used data from the 2010 Baylor Religion Survey of US Adults to examine the links between beliefs and anxiety disorders like social dysfunction, paranoia, obsession and compulsion. 

To do this, Silton viewed the data through the lens of what’s called Evolutionary Threat Assessment System Theory, which posits that parts of the brain specifically evolved to detect threats, and suggests that many anxiety disorders may be a result of dysfunction in the brain’s perception of those threats.

In keeping with prior studies on this very subject, she queried the data on three types of believers: those who see God as angry, those who see God as neutral and those who see God as loving. Controlling specifically to weed out the non-believers, Silton found that a belief in a forgiving, loving God is associated with positive psychological traits, “almost protecting against psychopathology,” she told Raw Story. 

But for those who think God is angry and preparing punishments for sinners, “that belief seems to be very much related to these negative symptoms,” Silton said. 

“If you look at the previous research, they’ve connected it to depression and all sorts of other psychiatric disorders,” she said. “We were looking at social phobia, obsession, compulsion, paranoia and a lot of features of anxiety disorders.”

“We are looking at correlational findings. That means we’re not saying belief caused psychiatric symptoms, but we see relationships between beliefs and these psychiatric symptoms.”

Readers can decide for themselves whether religious extremists were crazy first or whether their beliefs made them crazy.   Needless to say, if one looks at folks like Maggie Gallagher, Tony Perkins, Pat Robertson, the late Jerry Falwell,  the leadership of the Roman Catholic Church and the Southern Baptist Convention, the study does seem to have nailed it.

Roman Catholic Church: Vigilant Against Gay Teachers, But Coddles Child Rapists

Events at an Ohio Catholic school put in sharp focus the warped priorities and morality of the Roman Catholic Church hierarchy.  If you are a priest who molests and rapes children and youths, you can rely on a Vatican orchestrated conspiracy to protect you and maintain you on the payroll.  And if you are a member of the high clergy and things get too hot with local police authorities, you can count on a plum position at the Vatican to keep you out of the clutches of the authorities (e.g., Cardinal Law who was whisked out of Boston to Rome).  But if you are a gay teacher in a Catholic school  and your secret is inadvertently leaked, you will be unemployed before you know what hits you.   A piece in the New York Daily News looks at what happened to Carla Hale (pictured below), who was outed as a lesbian after her mother’s obituary listed her girlfriend as a survivor.  Here are highlights:

An Ohio woman was fired from her job of 19 years at a Catholic high school after being outed as gay.  But the Columbus, Ohio, community has rallied around Carla Hale, circulating a petition urging her reinstatement to Bishop Watterson High School.

“It’s amazing that they’ve come together and rallied around this situation,” Hale told the Columbus Dispatch. “I’m in awe of them.”

The physical education teacher took time off from school in February in the wake of her mother’s death. Her mother’s obituary mentioned Hale and her female partner as survivors, which attracted the attention of an “appalled” parent.

“If not for an obituary that appeared in the paper, none of this would be happening,” she said.  That parent wrote an anonymous letter to the Roman Catholic Diocese of Columbus, and administrators responded by firing Hale later in March for violating a morality clause.

Hale has filed a grievance and may also have on her side a Columbus city ordinance that prohibits employers from discriminating based on sexual orientation. She’s hired a lawyer, Thomas Tootle, who said fear of repercussions from the Catholic Church “forces people in the closet.”

Hale says her sexuality was never an issue during her 19 years at Bishop Watterson.  “I’m a very private person. I think the kids realize I’m there if they need me, but I would never talk about anything like that,” she said. “If they had to describe me, they would say I’m a fanatic about soccer, I have a dog named Boomer and I have three kids I talk about a lot. But beyond that, they wouldn’t know anything else about me.”

“The school claims its mission is to teach its students about love, acceptance, and tolerance, and yet it did none of this in the way it treated Ms. Hale,” the petition, started by Jackson Garrity, reads. “That is why we all have to stand up together and let it be known that this decision is unacceptable. If we do not fight this issue now, it will happen again, and that is not something we can allow.”

Captured But Still No Explanation as to Why

Calm is at last returning to the Boston area after last night's capture of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, 19, the second of the Boston Marathon bombers.  Yet so far, there seems to be no clear explanation of what triggered the carnage and brutal attack on innocent strangers.   There are indications, however, that the older of the bombers, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, 26,may have drifted into religious extremism and may have been radicalized while visiting Russia last year.    Some family members, in fact, blame the older Tsarnaev for leading his younger brother on a path to darkness.   A column in the New York Times ponders about what lead to such violence and apparent derailing of lies that had seemed in some ways to be tracking the proverbial American dream.  Here are highlights:

“A picture has begun to emerge of 26-year-old Tamerlan Tsarnaev as an aggressive, possibly radicalized immigrant who may have ensnared his younger brother Dzhokhar — described almost universally as a smart and sweet kid — into an act of terror,” The Boston Globe reported Friday. 

The Globe quoted a person named Zaur Tsarnaev, who the newspaper said identified himself as a 26-year-old cousin of the suspects, as saying, “I used to warn Dzhokhar that Tamerlan was up to no good.” Tamerlan “was always getting into trouble,” he added. “He was never happy, never cheering, never smiling. He used to strike his girlfriend. He hurt her a few times. He was not a nice man. I don’t like to speak about him. He caused problems for my family.”

But what about that image of Dzhokhar as sweet?  On Friday, BuzzFeed and CNN claimed to verify Dzhokhar’s Twitter account. The tweets posted on that account give a window into a bifurcated mind — on one level, a middle-of-the-road 19-year-old boy, but on another, a person with a mind leaning toward darkness. 

Like many young people, the person tweeting from that account liked rap music, saying of himself, “#imamacbookrapper when I’m bored,” and quoting rap lyrics in his tweets. 

He tweeted quite a bit about women, dating and relationships; many of his musings were misogynistic and profane. Still, he seemed to want to have it both ways, to be rude and respectful at once, tweeting on Dec. 24, 2012: “My last tweets felt too wrong. I don’t like to objectify women or judge anyone for their actions.” 

He was a proud Muslim who tweeted about going to mosque and enjoying talking — and even arguing — about religion with others. But he seemed to believe that different faiths were in competition with one another. On Nov. 29, he tweeted: “I kind of like religious debates, just hearing what other people believe is interesting and then crushing their beliefs with facts is fun.” 

His politics seemed jumbled. He was apparently a 9/11 Truther, posting a tweet on Sept. 1 that read in part, “Idk why it’s hard for many of you to accept that 9/11 was an inside job.” On Election Day he retweeted a tweet from Barack Obama that read: “This happened because of you. Thank you.” But on March 20 he tweeted, “Evil triumphs when good men do nothing.” This sounds like a take on a quote from Edmund Burke, who is viewed by many as the founder of modern Conservatism: “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” 

Hopefully, we will find out what motivated the horrible acts that injured so many and took innocent lives.  The younger Tsarnaev strikes me as accurate on one point: religions are in competition.  Both fundamentalist Christianity and fundamentalist Islam claim that only they are right and that all need to conform to their toxic belief systems.  And both ultimately cause their followers to view those who are different or who hold different beliefs to as less than fully human and, as a result, set the stage for evil.    Don't believe me?  Just listen to what the Christofascists are saying about Muslims and immigrants in the wake of the Boston bombings.  I continue to believe that a religion free world would be a far better place.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Friday Morning Male Beauty

Right Wing Attacks GOP's Rubio on Immigration

Few things spark as much fury among the angry white men and the Christofascists who make of the core of today's Republican Party base than immigrants and gays - two groups that tin contrast are  finding growing support among the majority of Americans.  For Republicans who seek to be viable in a national election, moderation on the issue of rights for both groups is needed even though they are anathema to the GOP base.  Hence the tight rope that Senator Marco Rubio finds himself on.  As Talking Points Memo notes, Rubio is under attack from the wingnut crowd for his efforts to support an immigration bill that will make need reforms.  Here are some article highlights:

With the release of the “Gang of 8“‘s bipartisan immigration bill today, conservative opponents of reform now have a juicy 844-page target to attack instead of just a set of talking points. Mindful of the risk, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) is responding rapidly to rumors and innuendo on the right in the hopes he can shut them down before they spread.

First on the list: the “Marco Phone.” Conservative bloggers immediately seized on portions of the bill funding expanded cell phone access along the border as evidence Rubio was supplying free phones to undocumented immigrants. Some commentators connected it to the “Obama phone,” a popular meme on the right last year about a program that provides discounts on phone service to the poor. 

Rubio himself was confronted with the claim on Wednesday in an interview with conservative talk show host Laura Ingraham, who quoted from a blog post that read “Move over Obama phone, this is the amnesty phone.”

“That’s false,” Rubio said. “That’s not for the illegal immigrants. That’s for U.S. citizens and residents who live in the border region so that they can have access to calls. One of their complaints - that’s actually part of the Kyl border bill that we adopted. And what it does is it provides communication equipment to people who are living in the border region so they can report illegal crossings because many of them either don’t have phone service or don’t have cell phone service and they have no way of calling.”

Soon after the interview, Rubio’s press office sent out a release debunking the “Marco phone” attack, one of several statements that day branded as “myths vs. facts” updates on the bill. Rubio press secretary Alex Conant also noted that the senator’s multiple conservative radio appearances on Wednesday were explicitly designed to “knock out misinformation.”

Even before the bill’s release, Rubio pushed back against efforts by Rep. Steve King (R-IA), a leading reform opponent, to tie immigration legislation to the Boston marathon attack based on early (and inaccurate) reports that the bombing suspect was a Saudi male on a student visa. On Wednesday, the conservative Hispanic Leadership Network confronted another terrorism-related claim by Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX), who suggested Islamic terrorists are training to “act like Hispanic” in order to infiltrate the country.

There’s some irony to Rubio’s predicament. Conservative commentators derived a multitude of conspiracy theories from misreadings of health care reform bills in 2009 and 2010. The most prominent and ugly claim was that it would create “death panels” that could fatally withdraw care from the elderly and disabled, an outrageously false charge that many national Republicans encouraged, either tacitly or explicitly. Rubio, who became a national star in tea party circles around the same time, is surely well aware just how powerful a rumor can be once it spreads among the conservative base. 

No one is more detached from reality nowadays than the GOP base - thanks largely to the large number of Christofascists in the GOP grassroots.

Former ‘Ex-Gay’ Superstar John Paulk Finally Renounces His ‘Ex-Gay’ Past

1998 cover story lie

If one studies the parade of "ex-gays" trotted out time and again by the Christofascists to support their politically motivated claims that gays can "change," what one finds is a sad parade of still gay men, many of whom later admit that they never changed their sexual orientation.  Yes, there are some how will continue the charade and help the charlatans like Michele Bachmann's (in my view) closeted husband, the "family values" organizations and the fraudulent "ex-gay ministries,"  but most in my opinion are losers who continue the lies because they have no other viable options to make a buck and/or still suffer from religious brainwashing and refuse to let go of the lies they were indoctrinated with.  These fakes are no more straight than the man in the moon.  Now, one of the most high profile "ex-gays" of them all, John Paulk has renounced his "ex-gay" past and asked forgiveness for the harm he did masquerading as an "ex-gay."  Truth Wins Out  has details.  Here are highlights:

In a piece in PQ Monthly, Paulk, who has perhaps done more to hurt LGBT families than any other single person in the “ex-gay” industry, states for the record that he no longer endorses efforts to change people’s sexuality:
“Until recently, I have struggled all my life in feeling unloved and unaccepted,” Paulk said. “I have been on a journey during the last few years in trying to understand God, myself, and how I can best relate to others. During this journey I have made many mistakes and I have hurt many people including people who are close to me. I have also found a large number of people who accept me for who I am regardless of my past, any labels, or what I do.”

Paulk continued, “I no longer support the ex-gay movement or efforts to attempt to change individuals — especially teens who already feel insecure and alienated. I feel great sorrow over the pain that has been caused when my words were misconstrued. I have worked at giving generously to the gay community in Portland where I work and live. I am working hard to be authentic and genuine in all of my relationships.”

John Paulk was at one time the most well known and influential person in the “ex-gay” industry, appearing on the cover of Newsweek with his wife Anne in 1998 under the headline, “Gay For Life?” He was instrumental in forming the Love Won Out “ex-gay” roadshow, which subjected countless LGBT youth and their families to misinformation, indoctrination and lies, and which destroyed many families in the process. In 2000, Wayne Besen, founder of Truth Wins Out, photographed John Paulk coming out of a Washington, DC, gay bar, and the lies began to unravel. Though John resigned from the board of Exodus International following this incident, the Religious Right continued to use the Paulks’ story as evidence that the “ex-gay” life was a fairy tale rather than a nightmare, and many LGBT people and their families have been damaged or destroyed over the years as a result.

John and his wife moved to Portland, Oregon, shortly thereafter and lived relatively quiet lives as John built a catering company called Mezzaluna, staffed by curiously attractive gay men. John and Anne didn’t really disappear from the “ex-gay” scene, though. John spoke in 2010 at the Evergreen “ex-gay” conference, and in 2012, Anne was a co-founder of the Restored Hope Network, a group of “ex-gay” ministries that defected from Exodus International when Alan Chambers began to tell the truth, that reparative therapy and “ex-gay” ministries do not change anyone’s sexuality. Indeed, Anne seemed to double down on the lie at the group’s inaugural meeting, telling the crowd:
“I never thought I would be married and the mother of three sons,” she told the eager crowd mixed with anti-gay extremists and the hurting parents of gay children.
Anne Paulk continues to propagate a false narrative of her own “ex-gay” life in order to stay in the spotlight and make money off of suffering LGBT people and their families.

In light of  John Paulk’s announcement, Truth Wins Out also calls upon Anne Paulk and the rest of the Religious Right to immediately cease using the Paulks’ story to sell harmful “ex-gay” therapy to vulnerable people. “Anne Paulk and her Religious Right cohort must immediately cease lying to people about the false ‘ex-gay Paulk fairy-tale,’” said Truth Wins Out Associate Director Evan Hurst. “Indeed, both Paulks should become poster children for the very real nightmare that has been the ‘ex-gay’ experience for so many LGBT people.”

The "ex-gays for pay" are truly ugly parasites who prey on troubled gays and their families to make a buck and to aid the anti-gay propaganda spewed from far too many pulpits and disseminated by fronts for the Roman Catholic and Mormon churches.  It's all a lie.  But then, no one lies as often or as maliciously than the "godly Christian" crowd.

One Boston Bombing Suspect Believed to Be Dead

Chaos reigned last night and the early hours of this morning as police chased two men identified by the FBI as the possible bombers in the horrific Boston Marathon bombing earlier in the week.  By the time the chase ended, an MIT campus police officer was dead, a transit officer was seriously wounded, one suspect was dead and the other remained at large, triggering a virtual shut down of all mass transit in the Boston area.  One report indicates the the dead suspect had a suicide explosive pack strapped to himself and during the pursuit explosives were thrown from the vehicle stolen by the suspects.  One can only wonder what motivates individuals to seek to kill and maim those they do not even know.  Obviously, if the perpetrators of the horror turn out to have foreign connections, Teabagistan will go berserk.  Here are highlights from the Boston Globe coverage:

A night of chaos gripped a region already rattled by bombings Monday at the Boston Marathon. An MIT police officer was shot and killed about 10:30 p.m. Thursday, and, not long after, a Transit Police officer was seriously wounded in a firefight.

The other Boston Marathon bombing suspect, the man seen wearing a black hat in photos released Thursday evening, is dead after firing bullets and launching explosives at police.

“We believe these are the same individuals that were responsible for the bombing Monday at the Marathon,’’ State Police Colonel Timothy Alben said today. “We believe that they are responsible for the death of an MIT police officer and the shooting of an MBTA police officer. This is a very serious situation that we are dealing with.’’

Boston Police Commissioner Edward F. Davis this morning said the man now known as Marathon bombing Suspect #2 -- seen in photos released Thursday wearing a white baseball cap -- is the person being sought by a massive collection of federal, state, and municipal police. He is believed to be the suspect who actually dropped the bombs at the race finish line.  “We believe this to be a terrorist,’’ Davis told reporters about 4:30 a.m. today. “We believe this to be a man here to kill people.”

Police are warning residents in East Watertown to stay in their homes, and not to answer the door unless they see a uniformed police officer outside. They said drivers should not stop in the area roughly bounded by Dexter, Laurel, and Arsenal streets.

According to Alben, the night’s outbreak of violence began when police received reports of a robbery of a convenience store in Kendall Square near MIT. A few minutes later, an MIT police officer, who has not been identified, was shot multiple times while in his cruiser at Main and Vassar streets, near Building 32, better known as the renowned the Stata Center on the MIT campus. The officer was pronounced dead at Massachusetts General Hospital.

During the gunfight, the man known as Marathon suspect #1 was wounded and was taken into custody. This morning, Dr. Richard Wolfe said the man was brought to the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center emergency room around 1:10 a.m. with multiple traumatic injuries.  “It was more than gunshot wounds,’’ Wolfe told reporters around 5:30 a.m. today. “It was a combination of injuries. We believe a combination of of blasts, multiple gunshot wounds.’”  Wolfe said it looked like the man had been hurt by an “explosive device’’ and that the man was struck by “shrapnel.’’ The man was pronounced dead at 1:35 a.m. The hospital said they did not know his name.

At present, the surviving suspect remains at large.  We can only hope that he is captured without more people losing their lives.  Likewise, we can hope that we find out who else, if anyone, may have been involved.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Thursday Morning Male Beauty

Trans-Man Denied Name Change By Virginia Judge

Jacob Haley
One of the niche areas of my law practice is assisting transgender clients in securing amendments to their birth certificates once they have completed the sex reassignment process.  Virginia has no set form of petition for the process although statutory authority for such amendments and the Virginia  Code section is cited in the petitions and court orders I prepare.  I almost never get involved in securing court orders for name changes since typically the process is so easy that clients usually handle that process themselves, especially since a standard application form is available on the Virginia Judiciary web page in a fill in the blank PDF format.  Unless, apparently one is in Louisia County before judge, Timothy Sanner, who seemingly makes up his own rules that differ from the requirements of the Virginia Code.  Sadly, many judges in Virginia appear to feel that they can do whatever they want when it comes to LGBT clients and from my experience, the Judicial Review Commission never disciplines judges who abuse LGBT clients.  I was interviewed by GayRVA which has an article on the situation.  Here are highlights from that article:

A trans-man from Louisa County, Virginia, has been denied a name change by a Circuit Judge who, contrary to current Virginia law, said medical documentation was required for legal name changes.

Jacob Haley went to the Louisa County Courthouse in February of this year. When he handed the clerk the forms to change his legal name from his female birth name to his male name, the clerk, according to Haley, said ”more than likely (you’re) going to need a hearing, the judge is going to want to know the reasoning.”

Haley realized this might happen and asked if he would need to bring anything with him when he returned to court. He was told to bring “anything that would help explain the name change.”

Haley currently works two jobs and receives health care form one of his employers. But his health care does not cover transgender-related services, including hormone treatment or therapy. Unable to afford treatment, Haley has been working with local groups and has been raising funds independently. But it has not been easy. “It’s a struggle,” said Haley. “I’ve been trying to get money together since 2011 when I came out.”

The judge, Hon. Timothy Sanner, told Haley that in previous name-changing cases involving transgender individuals, a note from a doctor or some medical record was brought to help prove the need for a name change. According to Haley, Judge Sanner said “The prior case had been seen by a therapist for years, had been through hormone therapy, and had a letter and things to back their story up.”

Sanner then told Haley he would need to see paperwork from a medical professional before approving the name change.  ”[The judge said] the courts would like to see something of that nature,” Haley said. ”He didn’t say anything about the law.”

Medical documentation is required for changing genders on a birth certificate, and similarly for Virginia state ID’s like driver’s licenses. Hamar said the judge could have confused the two, but denying a simple name change because there is no doctor’s note is not in line with the law. “The forms are standardized, you print them out and pay your money, and you may or may not have to appear. You usually don’t even have to show,” according to Hamar.

Other transgender people in Virginia told GayRVA that they received their legal name changes in similarly simple circumstances. In an email, Ryan O’Donnell changed his name in 2010. “I did it through the mail, so I didn’t have to go before a judge, I just had to get the form notarized and send it to the county clerk’s office. I got the form back in a couple of weeks with no hassle… I have plenty of trans friends in Virginia who changed their names with little to no hassle.”

Haley has 60 days to go back before the judge with a medical letter. He’s not sure why the judge singled him out for this case, especially after hearing about the ease so many other trans individuals had with the name change process. ”It blows my mind that people can have their name changed to whatever they want,” said Haley, “but when it comes to someone needing their name changed for their mental health, they get roadblocked.”

When one reads the instructions to the application form for seeking a name change, when it comes to supporting documentation, the instructions state "None."  The only issues covered in the application are assurance that the name change is not being done for fraudulent purposes or to hide from creditors or probation officers.  Apparently none of this means anything to Judge Sanner who makes up his own rules - especially for LGBT petitioners.   Welcome to Virginia which has a well deserved anti-gay reputation.

Cuccinelli Financial Report Turns up Questions about Donor

Click on image to enlarge
It seems that soon to be crowned GOP gubernatorial candidate Ken "Kookinelli" Cuccinelli just can't having ethical questions surround him, especially when money is involved - e.g., his long failure to disclose financial holdings in Star Scientific..  His latest financial report reflects an apparently nonexistent radio station as one of his donors.  NBC Decision 12 has details on the question of who actually gave the money to Kookinelli.  Here are highlights:. 

The financial forms are in from the first quarter of 2013 and we are starting to get a sense of who is funding the campaigns of both Ken Cuccinelli and Terry McAuliffe

There are some interesting take aways. McAuliffe has a significant Union presence on his financial disclosure report. This is not a surprise for a Democratic candidate. It is worth noting though because of Virginia's right to work status.

Cuccinelli's donor base was, as expected much different than McAuliffe's. His biggest haul came from the Republican Governor's Association which ponied up $1 million, almost half of his entire report. Cuccinelli also took a $25,000 check from Foster Friess, a major conservative donor during the 2012 presidential campaign. Friess, who was a big supporter of Cuccinelli ally Rick Santorum, drew some heat when we went on cable news and said that in his day pregnancy was prevented when "gals put it (an aspirin) between their knees and it wasn't that costly."

Also in Cuccinelli's report is a $2,500 contribution from a company that calls itself "KHSE LLC". KHSE lists their address as 6915 Wolf Run Shoals Road Fairfax Station, VA. They claim to be a radio station. The trouble is there is no such thing as a radio station called KHSE anywhere in Virginia or Fairfax Station. 

A Google search of KHSE doesn't turn up much either, especially in Virginia. In fact the only KHSE listed as a radio station anywhere on the internet is a Wikipedia entry for a station that doesn't appear to be broadcasting.

According to the Cuccinelli campaign officials, much like the McAuliffe situation, it is a case of an honest mistake. In this situation, the donor provided the correct information and the campaign incorrectly assumed it was a radio station. They submitted their filing information as such.   A spokesperson for the campaign said that KHSE is actually an investment firm not a radio station. They plan to fix the filing.

However, the campaign could not provide any information as to who runs the company. It is also difficult to find any other information about KHSE the investment firm either.  .  .  .  .   Much like our search of State Coroporation Commission Records of KHSE the radio station, nothing turned up in a search for KHSE the investment firm.

Mississippi Man Arrested for Ricin Tainted Letters to Obama and Seator Wicker

1999 Photo of Paul Kevin Curtis as Elvis
The FBI reports that a Tupelo, Mississippi area man has been arrested for mailing letters containing deadly ricin to President Obama and Mississippi U. S. Senator Wicker.  If the name Tupelo sounds familiar, that's because it is home base for the virulently anti-gay hate group, American Family Association, which on its webpage this morning had headlines columns such as "Liberal Media, Obama's Front Line" and a piece claiming that Army officials have labeled Christian groups as "domestic terror groups.    While nothing links AFA to the suspect, it does give a sense of the local mindset in that part of Mississippi.  The Tupelo Daily Journal has a detailed article on the suspect, Paul Kevin Curtis, 45, who seems to be some kind of conspiracy nut cases based on the article.  Here are some excerpts:

Paul Kevin Curtis, 45, was arrested by the FBI and Lee County authorities today at his home after an investigation by multiple local, state and federal officials. With Curtis in police custody, different versions of the his life continue to unfold, some wacky and entertaining and others conspiratorial, threatening and violent.

[T]he divorced man was also known in many online communities and others locally for criticizing the North Mississippi Medical and state Rep. Steve Holland for alleged crimes.

As a janitor working in a cleaning service, he claimed to have insider information. Combing through his online postings including Facebook and message boards and interviews with people who have had altercations with him, Curtis sounds more and more conspiratorial.

“I’m on the hidden front lines of a secret of a secret war,” Curtis posted on his Facebook profile at 2 a.m. today. “A war that is making Billions of dollars for corrupt mafia related organizations and people. (bone, tissue, organ, body parts harvesting black market)”

Curtis’ phone number listed on his Facebook profile was disconnected.

In online postings, Curtis ends letters with a phrase similar to those found in letters to President Obama and Sen. Wicker.

“This is Kevin Curtis and I approve this report,” he posted in an online rant against the NNMC on September 2007.
The Washington Post has more information and coverage of other scares at Congress.  Here are highlights:

By Wednesday night, authorities had arrested Paul Kevin Curtis of Corinth, Miss., as a suspect in the ricin mailings, the FBI said in a statement. Curtis also sent a third letter to a Mississippi justice official, the FBI said. He is well known to law enforcement as a frequent letter-writer to lawmakers, two officials said.

Suspicious envelopes were hand-delivered to the Capitol Hill offices of senators from Alabama and West Virginia, prompting evacuations of their staffs, and lockdowns of many more. Two other senators — from Arizona and Michigan — reported that authorities were investigating suspicious letters delivered to district offices in their home states.

In all, five senators, including some in the thick of contentious negotiations over gun-control and immigration bills, were sent into emergency mode. Another wave of anxiety swept through the Capitol just before lunchtime when a bag left in the entranceway of a Senate building brought a bomb squad racing toward Capitol Hill. Police ordered thousands of staffers and aides not to leave their offices.

After two tense hours, the package was cleared, as were two letters delivered earlier to the offices of Sens. Joe Manchin III (D-W.Va.) and Richard C. Shelby (R-Ala.).
 It will be interesting to see if Curtis had ties with the Teabagistan crowd or not.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

More Wednesday Male Beauty

The Rise of the Post-Christians - More Dark Clouds Ahead for the GOP

This blog has looked at the rise of the so-called "nones" - those who claim no allegiance to any institutional religious denomination or church.  The nones are increasing in numbers and are especially prevalent among the under 30 generations.  Indeed, they make up 20% of the American population.  But there is another phenomenon that ought to be terrifying both the Christofascists and their political whores in the Republican Party - the rise of the so-called" post Christians."  The two groups combined spell good news for American and those of us who are sick and tired of the civil laws incorporating Christofascist ignorance and bigotry.    A piece in the Center for Inquiry looks at the findings of a new Barna study that looks at the rise of the "post Christians."  Here are highlights:

It is still said that America is a Christian nation. Really?

The rise of the Nones – people who don’t regard themselves as belonging to any religion – has risen to around 20% of America. What has not gotten as much attention is the rise of the “post-Christian” population, which includes most of the Nones and probably includes an even larger number of Americans. 

Post-Christians are people who either never were Christians, or people who no longer accept core views about Christianity. Like the Nones, these post-Christians may still be religious in some sense, and may believe in a god as well. But they don’t think or behave like Christians, and they are quite aware of ways that they have moved beyond traditional Christianity. Many people fall into both categories, moving beyond both Christianity and all organized religiosity as well.  

The Barna Group has been polling about religiosity for a while. Their numbers describing the most and least Bible-minded cities was released here:
How many Americans might we be talking about? Surely the percentage of post-Christians is much higher than the Nones at 20%.

61 out of 96 major metropolitan areas in America registered post-Christian levels higher than 30%, including most major cities -- from Boston (53%), New York City (51%), Philadelphia (42%), Baltimore (39%), Washington DC (40%), and Miami (45%) and across the country in Buffalo (52%), Cleveland (37%), Pittsburgh (40%), Detroit (35%), Cincinnati (33%), Chicago (42%), Minneapolis (42%), St. Louis (36%), Kansas City (33%), and Houston (33%), all the way west to Denver (49%), Phoenix (46%), Seattle (49%), San Francisco (53%), Los Angeles (44%), and San Diego (51%). Many cities in more conservative regions rise to levels close to 30%, such as Atlanta (29%), Indianapolis (28%), New Orleans (26%), Dallas (25%) -- and even Nashville (21%) has a higher percentage rate than the national figure for the Nones.
Christianity is evidently evolving quickly, and it will have to continue to change dramatically if it wants to catch up to where post-Christians are heading.
Needless to say, the GOP - captive as it is to the Christofascists who want to go backwards in time - will find itself less and less attractive to both nones and post-Christians.   Likewise, the GOP's competitiveness in larger metropolitan areas will continue to plummet. In my view, the demise of conservative Christianity and today's GOP cannot occur soon enough.

A U.S. Senate in the Grip of the Gun Lobby

Today in a shameful act that I find disgusting, the U. S. Senate defeated a bi-partisan authored effort to bring some minimal sanity to America's gun control laws.  The winner today was the NRA and the gun manufacturers for which it constitutes a front organization.  The losers were the nearly 90% of Americans who support background checks and minimal efforts to keep guns out of the hands of criminals and the mentally ill.  It goes without saying that GOP senators led the charge to kill the legislation.  Not surprisingly the families of children massacred at Sandy Hook elementary are outraged.  Similarly outraged is a victim of gun violence herself, former Congresswomen Gabrielle Giffords who has let loose with an op-ed in the New York Times.  The piece deserves a full reading.  Here are highlights:

SENATORS say they fear the N.R.A. and the gun lobby. But I think that fear must be nothing compared to the fear the first graders in Sandy Hook Elementary School felt as their lives ended in a hail of bullets. The fear that those children who survived the massacre must feel every time they remember their teachers stacking them into closets and bathrooms, whispering that they loved them, so that love would be the last thing the students heard if the gunman found them..

On Wednesday, a minority of senators gave into fear and blocked common-sense legislation that would have made it harder for criminals and people with dangerous mental illnesses to get hold of deadly firearms — a bill that could prevent future tragedies like those in Newtown, Conn., Aurora, Colo., Blacksburg, Va., and too many communities to count. 

Some of the senators who voted against the background-check amendments have met with grieving parents whose children were murdered at Sandy Hook, in Newtown. Some of the senators who voted no have also looked into my eyes as I talked about my experience being shot in the head at point-blank range in suburban Tucson two years ago, and expressed sympathy for the 18 other people shot besides me, 6 of whom died. These senators have heard from their constituents — who polls show overwhelmingly favored expanding background checks. And still these senators decided to do nothing. Shame on them. 

We know what we’re going to hear: vague platitudes like “tough vote” and “complicated issue.” I was elected six times to represent southern Arizona, in the State Legislature and then in Congress. I know what a complicated issue is; I know what it feels like to take a tough vote. This was neither. These senators made their decision based on political fear and on cold calculations about the money of special interests like the National Rifle Association, which in the last election cycle spent around $25 million on contributions, lobbying and outside spending. 

Speaking is physically difficult for me. But my feelings are clear: I’m furious. I will not rest until we have righted the wrong these senators have done, and until we have changed our laws so we can look parents in the face and say: We are trying to keep your children safe. We cannot allow the status quo — desperately protected by the gun lobby so that they can make more money by spreading fear and misinformation — to go on.

I am asking every reasonable American to help me tell the truth about the cowardice these senators demonstrated. I am asking for mothers to stop these lawmakers at the grocery store and tell them: You’ve lost my vote. I am asking activists to unsubscribe from these senators’ e-mail lists and to stop giving them money. I’m asking citizens to go to their offices and say: You’ve disappointed me, and there will be consequences. 

Mark my words: if we cannot make our communities safer with the Congress we have now, we will use every means available to make sure we have a different Congress, one that puts communities’ interests ahead of the gun lobby’s. To do nothing while others are in danger is not the American way.

Very well said.

Will Columbia Out Pace the USA on Gay Marriage?

France, Uruguay and now New Zealand have all but finalized gay marriage within the last week.  Meanwhile, the USA sits on its proverbial thumbs and the U.S. Supreme Court likely dithers trying to find a way to dodged addressing the fact that equality under the law remains a sham in this country so long as LGBT citizens are denied equal rights.  Making the situation even more embarrassing for American hubris is the fact that now Columbia may surge ahead of it in granting full equality under the law.   Why, because Columbia's highest court ruled 2 years ago that the Colombian legislature had until June 20, 2013 to fix the unequal treatment afforded to LGBT citizens.  That's right, 2 years ago.  The Columbia Law and Business Post has details on a vote to be held by the Columbia Senate today.  Here are details:

Why Is This Debate Happening Now?  The Colombian Constitutional Court issued a ruling in 2011 (Sentencia C577/11) that requires the Congress to act by June 20, 2013, or else same-sex couples can present themselves to legal notaries to contract for their legal rights. The Court ruled that same-sex couples have equal legal rights to found a family, but there is a “deficit of legal protection” for such couples under current law, and ordered the Congress to eliminate that deficit by June 20, 2013. The Court previously ruled that the right given to heterosexual couples to a legally recognized non-marital union must be accorded to same-sex couples.

Art. 13 of the Constitution guarantees equality before the law. (This is also a human right guaranteed by the American Convention on Human Rights, which is binding on Colombia. See more about this below.) To allow marriage equality is to reconcile the marriage and equality clauses; to prohibit same-sex marriage is to ignore the equality clause altogether and to invent an intention for the family clause that never existed.

Marriage Equality is Good For Business. In the United States Supreme Court, a large group of well-known employers filed a brief arguing in favor of marriage equality. They include, among others:
Abercrombie and Fitch, Adobe Systems Incorporated, Advanced Micro Devices Inc., Aetna, Alaskan Airlines, Alcoa, American International Group, Apple, Cisco Systems, Clorox, eBay, Facebook, Goldman Sachs, Google, Hewlett-Packard, Intel, Levi Strauss & Co., Marsh and McLennan Companies, Morgan Stanley, NCR Corporation, Nike, Office Depot, Oracle, Qualcomm, McGraw-Hill Companies, Tiffany and Co., Xerox
These firms all have experience as employers being forced to implement separate systems of employment and benefits for same-sex employees and their partners, which offend their corporate policies of equality and advancement and competition based on merit alone. Those policies exist for a reason: to attract and promote the best workforce and clientele. Simply put, bigotry is bad for business.

Same-Sex Couples Are No Worse and No Better Parents   There is a “scientific consensus” by sociologists, pediatricians, doctors, pyschiatrists, psychologists, and social workers that the sexual orientation of parents has no effect on the sexual orientation of children or on children’s aptitude, happiness, or any other measure of performance. The leading, most respected organizations in these fields presented their research findings and official positions to the Supreme Court of the United States in favor of marriage equality,

Marriage Equality Is Important to Colombia’s Remarkable Progress  Colombia has made a remarkable comeback from a nearly failed narco-state, and in so many respects is a leader in Latin America.  The Americas, in turn, are in the vanguard when it comes to marriage equality. Canada, Argentina, and now Uruguay permit same-sex couples to marry, as do many states in the US, Mexico, and Brazil. In Mexico and Brazil, same-sex marriages are recognized nationally. Altogether (see the table at the end of this article), approximately 35% of the population of the Americas lives in a nation or political subdivision that permits same-sex couples to marry, and another 30% lives where same-sex marriages from elsewhere are officially recognized. That’s almost 70% of the Americas where same-sex marriage is okay.

Will Colombia be a forward-looking and fair country, or retrograde, unfair, and even violent?   .   .   .   .  If it fails to align with the “first world” countries and major multinational corporations supporting marriage equality, Colombia will marginalize itself as a backward-facing country whose progress has halted. 

The BBC reports on today's vote to delay the Senate decision until April 23rd:
The Colombian Senate decided to postpone the second debate on a draft law that would allow marriage between people of the same sex until next Tuesday, April 23.
The decision was taken by 35 votes in favor and 28 against, once the television broadcast of the debate was interrupted by "prior commitments" and while in the outskirts of Congress demonstrated groups both for and against the project.

By order of the Constitutional Court of Colombia, the Colombian Parliament has until June 20 to legislate on the subject.

Otherwise, always according to the Court ruling, same-sex couples could go to the notaries and courts competent to "legalize and solemnize" ties, although it is unclear whether such unions would have a range of marriage.
The questions posed in the Columbia Law and Business Journal apply to the USA and sadly, I have more faith in Columbia getting it right than America which continues to subvert its own Constitution by allowing religious based hate and bigotry trump the Constitution itself.   

Gay Iowa Teen Takes Own Life After Bullying

The hate merchants at the "family values" organizations, the Vatican and Catholic bishoprics and the Southern Baptist Convention have another scalp if you will to hang on their belts as a trophy to their "godliness" - Kenneth Weishuhn (pictured above), a high school freshman in Paullina, Iowa, who committed suicide after being subjected to anti-gay bullying.  What drove him to take his own life?  An atmosphere of hate and anti-gay bigotry and animus nurtured and justified by the "godly Christian"who continue to depict gays as perverts, diseased, and any number of horrible things.  The result of this incessant drumbeat is that the ignorant and gullible feel free to make the lives of others a living hell.  As I have said before, these people - Maggie Gallagher, Tony Perkins, Bryan Fischer, Brian Brown, etc., and those in the GOP who prostitute themselves to the Christofascists - literally have blood on their hands regardless of their disclaimers of any responsibility.   If indeed there is a Hell, these people have and deserve special reserved seats in my opinion.  Here are highlights from KTIV-4 TV:

PRIMGHAR/ PAULLINA, Iowa (KTIV) -  Kenneth Weishuhn was only a freshman at South O'Brien High School.   That's located in Paullina, Iowa.
Family and friends say the 14-year-old was happy.  But, beneath that smile, there was a lot of pain.  "He says, 'Mom, you don't know how it feels to be hated," said Jeannie Chambers.  Kenneth Weishuhn didn't know either, until he told his friends last month that he was gay.

"People that were originally his friends, they kind of turned on him," said his sister Kayla Weishuhn.

Teasing started in school, according Kayla, a sophomore.  She says it was the boys in her class, that bullied her brother over his sexuality.

"A lot of people, they either joined in or they were too scared to say anything," she said.  She says they took their teases online, to websites like Facebook, creating a hate group against gays and adding Kenneth's friends as members.  However, it was only the beginning, family say he started receiving death threats from South O'Brien students on his phone.

"When I'd question him about the phone calls, like he just blew it off, so I just thought everything was ok," said his mother.

According to Kenneth's mother Jeannie, those South O'Brien boys were given a warning, but she was never contacted by the school.  She's unsure whether she'll press charges against the students she says drove her son to his death.

"I really don't want to ruin somebody else's life, or take someone else's son or daughter from them.  But, I don't know what it's going to take to get it to stop," said Chambers.

What is it going to take.  I have a couple of ideas: (1) fire EVERY school administrator and teacher who refuses to take bullying seriously and expel students caught bullying others, and (2) all deference to Christofascists and "family values" organizations needs to cease immediately and decent people need to start treating them like the vile hate filled people they are in fact.  Call me terrible, but when I encounter one of these "godly Christian" folks, I want nothing to do with them and I immediately categorize them as foul and despicable individuals.  

Words fail to describe the rage I feel when I see beautiful lives like Kenneth Weishuhn's snuffed out so that horrible individuals can strut around feeling superior about themselves.  It makes me literally feel sick.  And each time I see and write about such suicides, I move further away from wanting to have anything to do with Christianity.  Conservative Christians are horrible modern day Pharisees and I feel certain that Christ would likewise find them a stain on His name.

Wednesday Morning Male Beauty

How Out of Touch is Today's GOP?

As a former Republican I shake my head in dismay almost daily when I see the den of insanity and bigotry that the GOP has become.  And the transformation of the GOP, in my view, traces directly back to the rise of the conservative Christians - those I call the Christofascists - who have brought their unique forms of hate and bigotry to the GOP.  Adding to the problem is the fact that these folks are not only hostile to the rights of other Americans, but also utterly detached from objective reality.  The result has been a Republican Party that increasingly lives in its own bubble/fantasy world and which is increasing out of touch with mainstream America.  A column in the Washington Post looks at the results of a new survey that finds the GOP increasingly in la la land vis-a-vis the majority of Americans.  Here are highlights:

I already touched on today’s new Post poll this morning, but there are a bunch of numbers in here that really deserve their own post..

To wit: It finds that only 23 percent of Americans — that would be fewer than one in four — believe the Republican Party is “in touch with the concerns of most people in the United States today,” while 70 percent believe that it is “out of touch.” Among independents, those numbers are 23-70. Among moderates they’re 20-75.

By contrast, Americans say by 51-46 that Obama is in touch. Among moderates that’s 56-42 (he fares worse among independents, 44-53, though far better than Republicans).

At the same time, the poll finds the public siding with Obama and Democrats on many major issues surveyed. Americans disapprove of the sequester cuts, 57-35 — cuts that Republicans are describing as a “victory” for them. Americans support a path to legality for illegal immigrants by 64-32. In fairness, the poll doesn’t test citizenship specifically, so this finding is somewhat inconclusive, but a new CNN poll finds that 84 percent back a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants who have a job and pay back taxes.

Meanwhile, on guns, the new Post poll finds that Americans support a law requiring background checks on gun sales at gun shows or online by 86-13. A majority, 55 percent, believes it’s possible to make new gun control laws without interfering with gun rights.

At what point does failure to support proposals designed to address the problems facing the country — ones backed by majorities — create a serious enough general problem for the GOP, by contributing to an overall sense that the party has simply ceased being capable of compromising on solutions to the major challenges we face? The GOP’s awful “in touch, out of touch” numbers would seem to get at this.

But is there any point at which the party’s overall image — and its unpopular stances on specific issues — actually do begin to matter in some concrete way? Is there any point at which it becomes clear that the current GOP strategy — make a deal with Democrats on immigration, but nothing else — is insufficient?

Obviously, what needs to happen is that many who have continued to vote for the GOP out of habit or support for one specific issue need to realize that they are beginning to actively harm the country by empowering an insane and dysfunctional party.  The GOP needs to be punished at the ballot box for its wrong headed policies.

Is Pat Buchanan Encouraging Violence and Anti-Gay Unrest?

As noted in the last post, the main opposition to gay marriage comes principally from the Christofascists who in America and elsewhere have been allowed special rights and deference at the expense of other citizens.  Indeed, often, religious freedom has only been available to Christofascists while the rest of us either have no rights or are forced to endure far right Christian prayers and ceremonies.  Thankfully, those days are closer to ending.  But the hate and hysteria coming from the Christofascists at the prospect of no longer being able to ride rough shod over the rights of others is increasing.  One example is the spittle flecked rant of the often racists and bigoted Pat Buchanan in a column at World Net Daily, a/k/a Wingnut Daily, a constant outlet of scary right wing batshitery.  In it, Buchanan encourages the Bible beaters to consider ignoring the law and continuing their quest for hate and discrimination.  Here are highlights of what some might consider a call for insurrection:

That “loving Jesus means hating gay people” is “proclaimed in Christian churches and on Christian television and radio broadcasts.”  So declares Dan Savage in his review of Jeff Chu’s “Does Jesus Really Love Me: A Gay Christian’s Pilgrimage in Search of God in America” – on Page 1 of the New York Times Book Review.

Who is foremost among those who have made “anti-gay bigotry seem synonymous with Christianity”? The Family Research Council and the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

[I]n handing this review to an apostate Catholic and atheist homosexual, the Times was nailing its anti-Catholic colors to the mast. Yet what Savage alleges and the Times published is a lie.

Undeniably, the Christian view, though mislabeled “homophobia,” alienates millions. Many of America’s young have come to accept that homosexuality is a natural preference of a significant minority and ought to be accommodated, and same-sex unions ought to be treated as traditional marriages. 

[T]traditional Christianity’s view that homosexual acts are immoral and same-sex marriage an absurdity cannot be reconciled with the view that homosexuality is natural and normal and gay marriage a human right.   The issue is pulling the Republican Party apart. It is pulling Christian communities apart. It is pulling the nation apart.

What happens if the gay rights movement, as it appears it may, succeeds politically on same-sex marriage, but many Christians refuse to recognize such unions and continue to declare that American society has become ungodly and immoral?

Imagine the situation in America today if priests and pastors were telling congregations they need not obey civil rights laws. They would be denounced as racists. Church tax exemptions would be in peril. 

Something akin to this could be in the cards if the homosexual rights movement is victorious – a public rejection of the new laws by millions and a refusal by many to respect or obey them.

The culture war in America today may be seen as squabbles in a day-care center compared to what is coming. A new era of civil disobedience may be at hand.

No one better embodies the angry white Christianist male that has become the bedrock of the GOP base than Buchanan.   He consistently thinks that his rights and beliefs trump those of other Americans and that he can pick and choose what laws to obey.  It is sadly all too typical of the Christofascists who are among the most self-centered individuals can encounter.   And behind it all is a fear of modernity and a refusal to recognize the common humanity of others.  It's not pretty, but it is largely the public face of Christianity one sees nowadays.  Oh yes, there are "good Christians" - many in the ELCA and Episcopal Church fit this description - but they are drowned out by the message of hate and bigotry that is pumped out daily by the self-congratulatory pious set who are, in fact, purveyors of evil.