Saturday, May 25, 2013

Gay Pro Soccer Player Robbie Rogers To Join Los Angeles Galaxy

Perhaps we are indeed beginning to see a glacially slow change in pro sports.  First an openly gay member of the NBA.  Now a openly gay pro soccer player.  When will a member of the NFL come out?  This blog looked at soccer player Robbie Rogers back in February when he came out.  Unfortunately, he simultaneously announced his retirement.  But now, he is rejoining the pro sports world and is reported to have been signed by the Los Angeles Galaxy team.  USA Today has the story.  Here are excerpts:

Coming out and coming back — each was a difficult decision for Robbie Rogers, and one complicated the other. 

He told the world in February that he is gay and at the same moment said he was leaving soccer. Now, Rogers is reversing field and has agreed to terms with the Los Angeles Galaxy, according to two people familiar with the negotiations. Both spoke to USA TODAY Sports on the condition of anonymity because the Galaxy has not announced the deal.

Rogers will be the first active openly gay player in Major League Soccer. 

He also hopes to play for the U.S. national team in the 2014 World Cup — and to be the role model for gay teens that he wished he'd had.

Rogers' epiphany to return to the game came when he spoke to a group of about 500 kids at the Nike Be True LGBT Youth Forum in Portland last month.

"I seriously felt like a coward," he tells USA TODAY Sports in an exclusive interview about his return. "These kids are standing up for themselves and changing the world, and I'm 25, I have a platform and a voice to be a role model. How much of a coward was I to not step up to the plate?"

"I want to come back and be that voice, be that role model," Rogers says. "I want to compete on the field. I want to make it back to the national team. I want to be a role model. I have a lot of motivating factors working for me right now."  "There's a lot to be excited about. It's awesome to be part of a movement that is changing our society."

Needless to say, we will probably hear more hyperventilating and nastiness from the Christofascists who only feel good about themselves when denigrating and stigmatizing others.

Virginia Republican Party Treasurer: ‘I’m Not A Big Fan Of Contraception

I continue to get chided by Republicans unfamiliar with the inner workings of the GOP or who don't pay close attention until the immediate run up to election day who don't want to accept the reality that the Republican Party, especially in Virginia, has been taken over by religious extremists and down right crazies.  One would think that the Virginia GOP's (i) decision to opt for a convention to nominate candidates rather than hold a primary and (ii) the extremism of the trio of theocrats nominated would be a wake up call.  Yet some continue to cling to the myth that the GOP is still the same party that it once was.  It simply isn't the same party now that the Christofascists and their Tea Party cousins have taken over the grass roots and, in the case of Virginia, the nominating process.  These folks want to end all abortions without exception, restore the sodomy laws and criminalize homosexuality, abolish freedom of religion for all but themselves, and severely restrict the voting rights of those them deed as "other."   And, they want to abolish access to contraception. Don't believe me?  Then listen to the views of Bob FitzSimmonds, the Treasurer of the Republican Party of Virginia (pictured above with GOP gubernatorial candidate whack job, Ken Cuccinelli:

Republican Party of Virginia Treasurer Bob FitzSimmonds, a former aide to and “very close friend” of gubernatorial nominee Ken Cuccinelli II (R), told Virginia blogger Ben Tribbett that he is “not a big fan of contraception, frankly.” 

At last weekend’s state party convention, Tribbett asked FitzSimmon whether he supported the distribution of emergency contraception on college campuses. “I’m not a big fan of contraception, frankly,” the Republican Party official explained. “I think there are some issues, we’re giving morning-after pills to 12-year-olds, and pretty soon I guess we’ll hand them out to babies, I don’t know.”

FitzSimmonds also told Tribbett that sex education has caused the spread of sexually transmitted diseases: “I believe that we don’t recognize the causal effect between the type of sex education that we’ve been giving and the spread of STDs. We focus on things like abortion, cause it’s a big pressure thing. I go into schools 15-20 times a year, I run a non-profit that goes into schools and talks to kids about sex. They’re all abortion and HIV. HIV’s kind of hard to catch. Abortion happens if you get pregnant. But we’re on the track for 50 percent of the American people to have Herpes by the time these kids are my age. And that is a profound — not only health but sociological crisis facing this country.”

FitzSimmonds posted on his Facebook page shortly after last November’s election, “When Obama is 90 years old and he dies and goes to Hell, he is going to say ‘This is all Bush’s fault.’”
These folks oppose any right to personal privacy and  and want to police what goes on in every bedroom in Virginia.  People need to wake up to this reality.  After abortion and gays, and disenfranchising minorities, ending contraception is their next target.  Ronald Reagan, William F. Buckley, Jr., and perhaps even Barry Goldwater could not win nominations and/or respect from today's GOP base for the simple reason that they are not insane and were never hard core religious extremists.

Saturday Morning Male Beauty

Growing Divide In GOP Over Whether to Crash the Economy

The insurgent Christofascist and Tea Party elements seem Hell bent on creating another budget/debt ceiling crisis and reject any approaches that would call for meaningful negotiations.  Some in the so-called old guard of the GOP seem to be belatedly recognizing the danger this poses for the slowly recovering economy and that never ending obstructionism and sabotage has political risks, especially with polls showing only 37% of voters seeing the GOP as focused on issues important to average Americans.  One thing that cannot be forgotten is that 85% of the Tea Party consists of Christofascists. A piece in the New York Times looks at the growing intra-party tension.  Here are highlights:

In full view of C-Span cameras trained on the floor this week, Senators John McCain of Arizona and Susan Collins of Maine jousted with a new generation of conservatives — Marco Rubio of Florida, Ted Cruz of Texas, Mike Lee of Utah and Rand Paul of Kentucky — over the party’s refusal to allow the Senate to open budget talks with the House despite Senate Republicans’ long call for Democrats to produce a budget. 

It was the Old Guard versus the Tea Party, but with real ramifications, as Congress careens toward another debt limit and spending crisis this fall with seemingly no one at the steering wheel. The newer members say negotiations should go forward only with a binding precondition that a budget deal cannot raise the government’s statutory borrowing limit. 

“I have tremendous respect for this institution,” Mr. Rubio said in an interview on Friday. “But I’m not all that interested in the way things have always been done around here.” 

Republicans made the failure of Senate Democrats to pass a budget a central talking point in the 2012 campaign, going so far this year as to pass legislation withholding Congressional pay if budgets were not approved this spring. Now, some Republicans say the fact that members of their own party are standing in the way of a House-Senate conference committee undermines their fiscal message.

Mr. McCain called the demands of his Republican colleagues “absolutely out of line and unprecedented.” The Senate passed the budget before dawn on March 23 after a grueling all-night session, he noted, saying it was time to try to reach a final deal with the House in a negotiating conference. 

“Will this deliberative body, whether it is the greatest in the world or the worst in the world, go ahead and decide on this issue, so we can at least tell the American people we are going to do what we haven’t done for four years and what every family in America sooner or later has to do — and that is to have a budget?” he asked. Although few of Mr. McCain’s colleagues took to the floor to join him, many have expressed similar views.

Republicans who have made the deficit their central ideological focus are, in some sense, the dog that caught the bus. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office estimated this month that the deficit for this fiscal year, which ends Sept. 30, will fall to about $642 billion, or 4 percent of the nation’s annual economic output, less than half the 2011 deficit and about $200 billion lower than the agency had estimated three months ago. 

House Republicans had envisioned a plan to reach a comprehensive deficit reduction deal predicated on a showdown in July over the debt ceiling. That showdown was supposed to drive both sides back to the bargaining table, but a rapidly falling deficit, rising tax payments and huge infusions of cash from the newly profitable, federally controlled home financing agencies Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have scrambled those plans. Now, the debt ceiling may not have to be raised until October or November, in the next fiscal year. 

“They could create crisis by having a government shutdown or holding everything back until November and threatening a debt default. That would be to their political detriment,” [Senator] Ms. [Patty] Murray said. “I think the American people have had it with that kind of hostage-taking.” 

But Mr. Rubio said that he was not about to give in, and that a single senator might have the power to hold back negotiations indefinitely. “I’m not sure this is an issue I can ever change my opinion on,” he said. 
 The GOP's big problem is that it now has too many insane extremists in the party who simply cannot be made to see reason or that their willingness to trash the economy and the lives of everyday Americans is not in the party's long therm best interests.

More Hysteria from the Christofascists Over the Boy Scout Vote

One would truly think that the world was ending or that some deadly new version of the Bubonic Plague was sweeping America to hear the shrieks and hysteria coming from the Christofascists - especially those who rely on anti-gay propaganda and animus to fill their financial coffers.  Personally, I wonder whether some are more worried about what the growing societal acceptance of gays will mean for their bank accounts than any deeply held religious beliefs.  Not they they'd ever admit that money, not to quote a blogger friend "an invisible friend in the sky" is their real God.   Here are some of the most insane statements coming from the usual hate groups who make a living disseminating hatred:

AFA's Bryan Fischer:  The Boy Scouts Are Now the 'Boy Sodomizers of America':  On his radio program today, Bryan Fischer weighed in on the decision by the Boy Scouts of America to drop its ban on gay scouts last night.   Admitting that he was shocked by the vote since he was positive that it was going to be retained, Fischer declared that the BSA should change its name to the "Boy Sodomizers of America." Fischer eventually read a passage from the Book of Luke in which Jesus says it is better to have a stone tied around ones neck and be tossed into the sea than to lead a child to sin as a warning to BSA leaders that they will face the judgment of God for endorsing this change in policy.

NOM's Brian Brown:  "It's the beginning of the end for what once was one of America's noblest organizations."   "Today is a sad day for the Boy Scouts of America. They have succumbed to political pressure and abandoned their historic roots in what will prove to be a failed attempt to appease gay activists and corporate donors. Unfortunately, what they have done is said to the world that their oath no longer means much. Their decision to admit openly gay scouts will end up sexualizing the organization.  .   .  .  All of this is happening not because of a true grassroots demand of gay youth to be part of the organization but by an orchestrated political effort by gay activists who want to punish any group or organization that does not embrace homosexuality. It's the beginning of the end for what once was one of America's noblest organizations."

Linda Harvey:  Boy Scouts "advancing the sexual anarchist agenda and drawing countless numbers of children into sin."  The Boy Scout leadership has just done what homosexual pressure groups have tried to do for twenty years. They've made respectable the monstrous notion of the "gay" child or teen.   Congratulations on advancing the sexual anarchist agenda and drawing countless numbers of children into sin. What will these leaders say to Jesus when they meet Him?  .  .  .  .  Who are the monsters on this board who would callously foster and feed the deception that any valid orientation exists except God-designed heterosexuality, and that all else is deviance?

TVC's Andrea Lafferty: The Boy Scouts of America can be placed on the same funeral pyre of institutions that have caved into the times rather than remained steadfast." 
"While the Boy Scouts may see a compromise, the lesbian-gay-bisexual-transgender-questioning (LGBTQ) left is already doubling down and insisting they will get the rest and push for gay scoutmasters.  "The lesson is simple.  If you stand for nothing you fall for anything.  The Boy Scout Oath insists on a morally straight life.  That oath, which has been upheld for over 100 years, has been emptied out into a meaningless and vapid nod.  .  .  .  .  "This is the lesson of compromising your moral values.  When we replace virtue with vice, we lose a little bit of America every time.  The Boy Scouts of America can be placed on the same funeral pyre of institutions that have caved into the times rather than remained steadfast."

Concerned Bitches Women for America:   Boy Scouts Put Children at Risk, Open Themselves to Lawsuits.   The Boy Scouts have now opened themselves up to promised lawsuits in the years to come, as this new policy is simply unsustainable. A child that has been openly homosexual throughout his scouting life will supposedly not be able to continue to volunteer for any activities once he turns 18. It is simply legally unsustainable. .  .  .  .  Today, they gave all that away. And it seems it is all for money - not only from sponsors, but from what they save from the use of public facilities, which they are afraid they will continue to lose, as they have in states like California.  .  .  .  . Christian parents have no other choice but to reassess their involvement in the Boy Scouts, who have officially strayed from their original purpose. It is a sad day for children and families."

FRC's Tony Perkins:  'God Will Soon Be Ushered Out of Scouting'  "It is clear that the current BSA leadership will bend with the winds of popular culture, and the whims of liberal special interest groups. There is little doubt that God will soon be ushered out of scouting. Now is the time for new leadership. In the meantime, we will stand with those BSA Councils who will now act to protect boys from a new policy that only creates moral confusion and disrespects the views of the vast majority of Scouting parents," concluded Perkins.

Not a shred of Christian love to be found anywhere from these folks.  It is ALL about hate and bigotry - a terror of those who are different.  Hatred is something that is learned.  And hatred is the hallmark of these organizations and others like the.  Yes, it's sick, but that's the true face of conservative Christianity.

"Ex-Gay" Batshitery from the Catholic Church

As more further evidence of the Roman Catholic Church hierarchy's anti-gay jihad goes on unabated despite disingenuous statements about "loving gays" and needing to treat gays better, this weekend its "Courage" program - an "ex-gay" ministry in all but name -  will be holding a "camp weekend" program that "helps men with same sex attraction."  Rather than worry about normal gays and inflicting psychological abuse, the Church should be focusing such efforts on the many sexual predator priests still within the ranks of the priesthood.   Overall, the program is symptomatic of the Church hierarchy's growing retreat from modernity and rejection of modern day knowledge.  The mindset that condemned Galileo is still alive and well.  Having been raised Catholic I know first hand the harm that the Church's anti-gay teaching inflict on gays.  A piece in Huffington Post looks at this harmful program and its efforts to make gays view themselves as sick and sinful.  Here are excerpts:

Exercise the gay urges away?  A Pennsylvania sports camp claims to help men control same-sex attractions through Christian fellowship, camaraderie and sweaty team sports.

Held on the grounds of St. Charles Borromeo Seminary in Wynnewood, Penn., Sports Camp XIV will be held this year from May 23 to May 26. The camp advertises an "exhilarating, experiential weekend for men" led by the Rev. Paul Check and the Courage Apostolate organization.

Courage Apostolate, a Catholic organization, has long worked to "help" those with same-sex attraction urges change their ways or achieve peace through a life of celibacy, according to its website. The group claims to have the endorsement of the Vatican and "operates through the partial financial support of the Archdiocese of New York."

While the Sports Camp website itself never uses the word "gay," the site's testimonials are revealing.

In an emailed statement to The Huffington Post, Sport Camp XIV officials said the event "does not target young gay men with the hope of 'curing' them of their homosexuality." In addition, they said they do not allow minors, nor engage in any "advocacy" outside of "[providing] men an opportunity to practice having chaste friendships by allowing men to have fun at playing sports."

While Courage tries to portray itself as "an accepting community for Catholic gay men. This could not be further from the truth," Coffin said in an email. "The purpose of this campaign against Courage is to expose what these people are doing. It's not just about the camp, but the camp certainly is part of it. Just the idea that gay men have to 'heal' some sort of 'sports wound' shows how out of touch with reality these people are."

Coffin's sentiments were echoed by others who said that the implication that gay people are bad at sports is insulting and ridiculous, according to a Philadelphia Inquirer article on the camp from May 2012.

“The idea that sports has anything to do with one’s sexuality is confusing science with stereotypes," Wayne Besen, executive director of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) advocacy group Truth Wins Out, said at the time.

Billy Bean, a gay former professional baseball star, agrees. The former outfielder, who went public with his sexual orientation in 1999, told The Inquirer that Sport Camp's stated ideology was "inexcusable" and "heartbreaking."

More tortured lives and needless emotional and psychological pain.  All because the bitter old men in dresses cannot let go of their bizarre and very sick obsession with all things sexual.  As for this "camp" program, why not just hire a witch doctor to do an exorcism?  It would have the same likelihood of changing something that is unchangeable.

Friday, May 24, 2013

More Friday Male Beauty

Puerto Rico Legislature Passes Sweeping LGBT Nondiscrimination Bill

Virginia, which at the time of the founding of the United States was the home of some of the most enlightened thinkers in the country, now finds itself falling further and further behind the modern world and now upstaged by Puerto Rico in terms of protecting the rights of all its citizens.  Of course, if the GOP triumvirate of insanity gets elected in November, things will be even more reactionary and opposed to religious freedom.   Once again, who would have believed 20 or 30 years ago that Latin America and now Puerto Rico would have more respect for freedom that one of the cradles of the American Revolution.    Huffington Post looks at events in Puerto Rico.  Here are highlights:

International lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) rights advocates are praising Puerto Rico's decision to advance "sweeping" nondiscrimination measures.

The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force's blog reports that the Puerto Rican House of Representatives approved the bills May 24, which protect LGBT people in employment, housing, governmental services and public accommodations, as well as add sexual orientation and gender identity and expression to the island’s domestic violence laws, respectively. 

Anti-discrimination bill SB 238 and HB 488, the domestic violence measure, now move to Gov. Alejandro GarcĂ­a Padilla, who has vowed to sign them into law, according to the Washington Blade.

Among those to support the bill beforehand was Ricky Martin.   "The same rights for each and every citizen of Puerto Rico, that's what we are asking and that's what we hope to achieve, the country's justice and peace that we want to achieve," the singer said in a statement cited by E! Online. "Puerto Rico has to join all the countries in the world that are at the forefront of the issue of human rights and equality."
In Virginia in contrast, LGBT citizens have ZERO - that's right, ZERO - nondiscrimination protections.  It's a travesty, not to mention an embarrassment.  Yet, The Family Foundation and it's knuckle dragging, moronic followers pat themselves on the back for their piety and religiosity.  These people are horrible!!

Hate Is A Learned Phenomenon; Will Southern Baptists Again Choose Bigotry?

Allison Mackey of Hanover, Pennsylvania, with her five sons - one an Eagle Scout, three now active in scouting and an 8-year-old who had planned to join. All the sons said they were willing to abandon the Boy Scouts if openly gay members were allowed.

An earlier post today noted the hysteric and spittle eruptions coming from the  Christofascists in the wake of the Boy Scouts of America's half measure to allow openly gay scouts although still institutionalizing bigotry against gays over the age of 18.  But a revisit was needed given the continue displays of hate and hypocrisy coming from the "godly Christian" crowd which is neither godly or, I would argue, even remotely Christian.  What I find most disgusting is the adults who are eager to teach children and youth hate.  Pictured above is one such foul individual who is indoctrinating her sons with her own sick, hate filled bigotry.  I suspect her descendants will be less than proud of her legacy of hate.  I can't help but also wonder whether Ms. Mackey refers to blacks by way of the "N word."  

Its also note worthy that many members of the Southern Baptist Convention ("SBC") - a denomination that came into being because of a desire to continue slavery and the treatment of other humans as chattel property - are now threatening to launch an alternate organization to the Boy Scouts.  One a racist and a bigotry, apparently always a racist and a bigot. Here are highlights on reactions from bigots from the New York Times:

Leaders of the conservative faction predicted that lawsuits would soon force the Boy Scouts to allow openly gay leaders, and they accused the top leaders of ignoring the beliefs of their members. 

“The fallout from this is going to be tremendous,” said Robert Schwarzwalder, a senior vice president of the Family Research Council, a conservative Christian group, and a father of two scouts in Northern Virginia. “I think there will be a loss of hundreds of thousands of boys and parents.”
“This great institution is going to be vitiated by the intrusion of a political agenda,” he said. 

After the decision was announced Thursday, John Stemberger, an evangelical leader from Florida who organized a campaign to block the change, said that like-minded groups and parents would meet next month in Louisville, Ky., to discuss creating what he called a new “character development organization for boys,” an alternative to scouting.
Bob Felton at Civil Commotion elaborates on the SBC's foul history:
Founded in 1845 because northern Baptists refused to appoint missionaries from slaveholding states, the Southern Baptists are now leading the charge to break from the Boy Scouts over gay membership and create an alternative organization.
 Leader hopes to bring coalition together to discuss creating a new youth organization centered on biblical values
Why Louisville? Because it is the home of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, headed by Albert Mohler.

“Politics,” Otto Von Bismarck once said, “is the art of the possible.” For a private, widely-watched, quintessentially American organization to reverse a longstanding policy on such a contentious issue by a greater than 60% margin, leaving gays’ chief antagonists in disarray, and in a way that makes leadership roles for gays a not-far-off inevitability, is a huge win.

The SBC, by the way, finally apologized for its racist origins in 1995 — but it doesn’t appear that they actually learned much from the experience.
Christianity is in decline in the developed world largely because of the hate and bigotry that best define the godly folk.  Thankfully, a large majority of the younger generations are walking away from organized religion and Al Mohler, Tony Perkins, the Catholic Church hierarchy and many others are hastening Christianity's much deserved decline.

P.S., The SBC doesn't have a monopoly on anti-gay bigotry.  As the Washington Post reports, Bishop Paul Loverde, the leader of the Catholic Diocese of Arlington, issued a statement saying the vote would likely force the diocese to reconsider sponsoring troops in about 50 of its parishes.

Two Alabama Cities Top List of Porn-Loving "Religious Places"

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Friday Morning Male Beauty

The Insanity of the Virginia GOP Slate Speaks Volumes

For years now I have been arguing that the Republican Party - especially here in Virginia - has been taken over by far right religious extremists.  Why?  Because I saw it when it first began in earnest years ago and the insanity and refusal to separate religion from the civil laws caused me to resign from the GOP.  I could not remain in a political party that sought and continues to seek to destroy the separation of church and state and impose a fear and hate based religious dogma on all citizens.   With last weeks nomination of Ken Cuccinelli, E. W. Jackson and Mark Obenshain, the Christofascist take over of the Republican Party of Virginia is complete.  The Family Foundation ("TFF") finally fully controls the levers of power in the Virginia GOP.  Sane and rational Virginians ought to be terrified.  These are NOT nice people.  They have an agenda that is anti-democracy and anti-constitutional rights for all citizens.  E.W. Jackson in particular is the perfect candidate from the perspective of the "world view" of the folks at TFF.  An article in the Washington Post looks at the GOP's extremism and what it may mean in the coming election.  Here are highlights:

As midnight approached on the eve of the Republican convention in Virginia, party loyalists were tipping beers and listening to country music at a rollicking fete hosted by Pete Snyder, a front-runner for the nomination for lieutenant governor.

Down the hall at the Marriott in Richmond, a minister also running for Virginia’s second-highest office, E.W. Jackson, was lingering at his own party, where a Bible and a cross were displayed at the entrance. The ballroom was largely empty. If the excitement at Snyder’s gathering suggested momentum, the quiet at Jackson’s spelled a looming return to obscurity. 

Twenty-four hours later, after delivering a thunderous speech that seized the convention, Jackson was the Republican nominee and the party’s first black candidate for statewide office since 1988. 

Jackson’s words — sometimes eloquent, sometimes raw, often impassioned — are causing anxiety for many Republicans as the resurfacing of his past statements about homosexuality and abortion have threatened to disrupt the campaign. 

Instead of promoting their new ticket, Republicans have answered for Jackson’s once calling gays “perverted” and “sick” and saying Planned Parenthood has been “far more lethal” to blacks “than the KKK.” 

“The Republicans I’m talking to are saying, ‘What the hell are they doing in Virginia?’ ” said Michael Steele, former chairman of the Republican National Committee. “Is this, ‘101 ways to lose an election’? You’re coming out of the gate with comments everyone has to explain. You’re wasting a lot of time and energy batting that back when you should be doing other things to get the guy known.”

Although unknown to many Republicans, Jackson in recent years has built a following among the most activist of Virginia’s conservatives, many of whom were delegates at the convention. But Republicans are now concerned, Steele said, that Jackson will turn off the party’s own voters. “You can’t have a situation where Republicans say, ‘You know what? I can’t have this’ and they stay home or vote for the other guy,” he said. 

Jackson seems uninterested in moderating himself. He paused between whirlwind campaign stops this week to tell reporters that he doesn’t have “anything to rephrase or apologize for.”  .   .   .   .  Jackson became a Republican in the early 1980s, explaining that Democrats’ embrace of the gay rights movement violated his religious beliefs. In 1989, he joined the opposition to a proposal to ban discrimination against gays and lesbians in Massachusetts.

Helena Dobson, president of Chesapeake’s local NAACP chapter, said she has no relationship with Jackson.

While much of the focus is on Jackson, Ken "Kookinelli" Cuccinelli holds identical views - he's simply a bit more discrete in saying things in public.  A gay activist friend once went under cover to an event at Liberty University and heard Cuccinelli speaking to a closed audience and described Cuccinelli and his views as "very frightening."  One can only hope that someone will secretly film Cuccinelli as happened with Mitt Romney.  Romney would like a flaming liberal in comparison.  The extremism of this ticket needs to be fully exposed.

America's Crumbling Infrastructure: I-5 Bridge Collapse Should Be a Wake Up Call

Thankfully, it appears that no one died but the collapse of the Skagit River bridge on Interstate 5 in Washington State (I-5 links Seattle with Canada), but the event ought to be a wake up call nation wide that the GOP and Tea Party opposition to taxes is putting our lives at risk on a daily basis.  Highways, bridges and other critical infrastructure doesn't magically maintain or pay for itself.  Here are details from the Seattle Post:

The collapse of a freeway bridge into the Skagit River derailed a key part of the Northwest's transportation system, but amazingly failed to claim any lives..

Three people suffered non-life-threatening injuries in the dramatic collapse of the Interstate 5 bridge, which occurred around 7 p.m. Thursday. Traffic was snarled on the freeway and nearby roads, and will likely remain so; investigators and one of the survivors say an oversized truck may have been to blame.

A car, a truck and a travel trailer fell into the water in the collapse. All three people who went into the Skagit were rescued safely. 
The Washington Post adds more to the story:

[M]iraculously, authorities said it appeared nobody was killed in the bridge failure that raised the question about the safety of aging spans and cut off the main route between Seattle and Canada.

Traffic along the heavily travelled route could be affected for some time.  “The I-5 corridor is totally disrupted,” said Gov. Jay Inslee, who went to the scene Thursday night.  He said work has already started to design detours, but state Transportation Secretary Lynn Peterson asked people to avoid I-5 in the area for the next several days.

The National Transportation Safety Board was sending an investigative team.

“The bridge just went down, it crashed through the water,” he said. “It was really surreal.”  The bridge was about 50 feet above the water. Deyerin said it appeared that two vehicles - a car and the pickup with the travel trailer attached - fell into the river. He said the water depth was about 15 feet, and the vehicles half-visible in the water likely were resting on portions of the collapsed bridge.

The bridge was not classified as structurally deficient, but a Federal Highway Administration database listed it as being “functionally obsolete” — a category meaning that the design is outdated, such as having narrow shoulders and low clearance underneath.

The bridge was built in 1955 and has a sufficiency rating of 57.4 out of 100, according to federal records. That is well below the statewide average rating of 80, according to an Associated Press analysis of federal data, but 759 bridges in the state have a lower sufficiency score.

According to a 2012 Skagit County Public Works Department report, 42 of the county’s 108 bridges are 50 years or older. The document says eight of the bridges are more than 70 years old and two are over 80.

Washington state was given a C in the American Society of Civil Engineers’ 2013 infrastructure report card and a C- when it came to the state’s bridges. The group said more than a quarter of Washington’s 7,840 bridges are considered structurally deficient or functionally obsolete.

On our drive to Alexandria, Virginia, today on I-64 and I-95 we will cross bridges that are equally old and I shudder to think what their state of repair might be.  The surface of the I-64 bridge entering Richmond is in horrible repair and I surely hope that the under structure is in better repair.  Naturally, GOP gubernatorial nominee/nutcase Ken Cuccinelli wants to cut Virginia taxes further - I guess he thinks God will miraculously repair Virginia's crumbling highways.

Boy Scouts Vote to Allow Gay Scouts, But Continue Anti-Gay Bigotry Against Gay Leaders

While it's better than nothing, the Boy Scouts of America adopted a half measure yesterday and will now allow openly gay boys and youth to be members of the Boy Scouts.  Unfortunately, once they reach the age of majority they apparently turn into predators and/or bad role models and can no longer remain or move on to leadership positions.  Naturally, a few selective passages of the Bible are cited as justification for this continued discrimination.  A friend on Facebook noted the hypocrisy of the BSA leadership: 
Leviticus 19:19: "Do not wear clothing woven of two kinds of material."    Looked at my old scouting uniform. The composition? 65% polyester, 35% cotton.
The Virginian Pilot reports on the policy change which was hysterically opposed by the usual anti-gay hate groups that uses anti-gay propaganda as one of their largest fundraising tools now that abortion isn't the cash cow for them that it used to be.  Here are some story highlights:
After lengthy and wrenching debate, local leaders of the Boy Scouts of America have voted to open their ranks to openly gay boys for the first time, but heated reactions from the left and right made clear that the BSA's controversies are far from over.

The Scouts' longstanding ban on gay adults remains in force, and many liberal Scout leaders - as well as gay-rights groups - plan to continue pressing for an end to that exclusion even though the BSA's top officials aren't ready for that step.

Meanwhile, many conservatives within the Scouts are distraught at the outcome of the vote and some are threatening to defect. A meeting is planned for next month to discuss formation of a new organization for boys.

The vote was conducted by secret ballot Thursday during the National Council's annual meeting at conference center not far from Boy Scout headquarters in suburban Dallas. Of the roughly 1,400 voting members of the council who cast ballots, 61 percent supported the proposal drafted by the governing Executive Committee. The policy change takes effect Jan. 1.

"We are deeply saddened," said Frank Page, president of the Southern Baptist Convention's executive committee. "Homosexual behavior is incompatible with the principles enshrined in the Scout oath and Scout law."

The Assemblies of God said the policy change "will lead to a mass exodus from the Boy Scout program." It also warned that the change would make the BSA vulnerable to lawsuits seeking to end the ban on gay adults.

Pascal Tessier, an openly gay 16-year-old Boy Scout from Maryland, had mixed emotions after the vote.  "I was thinking that today could be my last day as a Boy Scout," he said. "Obviously, for gay Scouts like me, this vote is life-changing."

Tessier is on track to receive his Eagle Scout award - he only needs to complete his final project - but said he is troubled that on his 18th birthday he could transform from someone holding Scouting's highest rank to someone unfit to be a part of the organization.  "That one couple hours (between 17 and 18) will make me not a good person," he said.

While the Southern Baptists were clearly upset by the vote to accept openly gay youth, the Utah-based Mormon church - which has more Scouting troops than any other religious denomination - reacted positively.  "We trust that BSA will implement and administer the approved policy in an appropriate and effective manner," an LDS statement said.  Utah's largest Boy Scout councils supported the change.
Hypocrisy - and of course hatred of others which is apparently based on some sick need to feel superior over others - remains the main attribute of today's modern day "godly Christians" who remain in anti-gay denominations.  My activist friend Wayne Besen summed it up well:
Today’s Boy Scout’s decision was insulting and pandered to ignorance and bigotry at the expense of  gay people and their families. Allowing gay scouts but not adult scout leaders was a compromise – only in the sense that BSA compromised its integrity and decency. Let’s be clear — this was not a step forward, but a step backward, because it reinforced the most vile stereotypes and misconceptions deliberately peddled by anti-gay activists.
Today’s decision was degrading, dehumanizing, and disgraceful. It stigmatized LGBT people and their families and sends the dangerous message that they are inferior and a threat to society.
The new policy continues to tarnish the organization’s image . . . . Homosexuality is not a moral issue, but a natural expression of who some people are. However, bigotry is a moral issue – one which places the BSA on the wrong side of history.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

More Thursday Male Beauty

Headed to Washington, D.C., for a Family Wedding

One of my nephews is getting married this weekend in the Washington, D.C. area.   The bride and groom to be are pictured above.  Both the wedding and where the boyfriend and I will be staying are in Alexandria, but I am sure we will venture into the District to enjoy some of the gay night spots and attractions.  Fortunately, one of the boyfriend's long time clients and one of our personal friends (she and her husband are the friends who hosted us back in February at their beautiful home in Lighthouse Point, Florida) will be loaning us her town house in Old Town Alexandria for the weekend.   The wedding itself will be at River Farm, formerly a portion of the Mt. Vernon estate, which is owned by the American Horticultural Society and overlooks the Potomac River.  It is a popular wedding venue in the Washington, D.C., area.  Photos of River farm are set out below.  It will be nice to see family members, including my nephew who is in the Peace Corps in Panama but back for the wedding.

While we are gone, the boyfriend's dad will baby sit the dogs the Terry McAuliffe staffer who we are housing for the coming months will look after the house.  In terms of blogging, I will put up as much material as time allows.

For history buffs, here is information via Wikipedia:

The River Farm property was established in 1653-54 by Giles Brent and his wife, a princess of the Piscataway tribe, who received a grant of 1,800 acres (7.3 km2) named Piscataway Neck. In 1739 the land was passed from George Brent to brother-in-law, William Clifton who renamed the property Clifton's Neck. In 1757 Clifton completed the brick house that now serves as AHS headquarters. Following financial difficulties, Clifton sold the land to neighbor George Washington, who obtained the property for £1,210 through a bankruptcy sale in 1760. Washington changed the name of Clifton's Neck to River Farm and leased the property to tenant farmers. River Farm was passed down through two immediate generations of Washingtons and later sold with 652 arces of Washington's original land to the Snowden brothers of New Jersey. The property was home to numerous owners including Malcolm Matheson, who bought the property in 1919. Matheson placed the property on the market in 1971 and received an offer from the Soviet Embassy who planned to use the land as a retreat or dacha for its staff. The public opposed this purchase which resulted in the AHS acquisition of the property.

And for those who read the first post of the day, yes, I am doing better.


Why Was London Murderer On the Loose?

Just as the American authorities had to answer why one of the Boston Marathon bombers had slipped through their scrutiny, now MI5 and other British authorities are having to answer why one of the terrorists who literally butchered a British soldier (the victim is shown above on his wedding day) was not in custody.  Apparently, just as is the case with the City of Norfolk with the thugs terrorizing the neighborhood where my residence in Norfolk is located, UK security forces were more solicitous of the rights of the trouble maker/terrorist than they were of the rights and safety of law abiding citizens.  I'm not in favor of throwing away constitutional rights, but at some point there needs to be a balance that protects the law abiding from those who act little better than vicious, rabid animals.  Something is seriously wrong both here in America and in the UK.  The Telegraph looks at the questions swirling in the UK.  Here are excerpts:

Michael Adebolajo, 28, was the man videoed by witnesses with his hands red with blood following the killing of the soldier, who was named as Drummer Lee Rigby, 25, the father of a two-year-old son.
David Cameron said there would be a full investigation by the Security and Intelligence Committee after it emerged that both of the attackers were known to the police and MI5, but neither was assessed as a major security risk. 
The Telegraph has learnt that six years ago Adebolajo was arrested after being involved in violent protests by extremists outside the Old Bailey. He was a regular member of a small group of hardcore fanatics who regularly protested alongside some of Britain’s most notorious hate clerics. He was seen preaching anti-Western rhetoric in Woolwich as recently as last week. At one stage he is believed to have tried to travel to Somalia to join the terrorist network Al-Shabaab, but was forced to return to Britain.

The disclosure of his close association with some of Britain’s most notorious Islamic extremists is likely to raise further questions about why he was not deemed a serious threat by the security services. 

The second attacker has not been identified but investigators are examining whether he had a criminal past.

Drummer Rigby, of 2nd Bn The Royal Regiment of Fusiliers, was run over and attacked with knives and cleavers as he walked back to barracks in Woolwich, south-east London on Wednesday afternoon. Known as “Riggers”, he was praised by his colleagues as a “true warrior” who had served in Afghanistan, Cyprus and Germany, and by his family as a loving father to his son, Jack.  
Of course, the bigger question is when the Hell is religion - be it Christianity or Islam - going to stop being afforded special deference, privileges and exceptions to hate speech?   Religion simply deserves no respect or deference.  Religion through the centuries has been a pernicious evil.  When will the larger public say "enough" and start treating extremists be they ones like the killers in London or GOP nominees Ken Cuccinelli and E. W. Jackson like the potentially dangerous purveyors of hate that they are?

Catholic Order to Pay $16.5 Million to Sex Abuse Victims

As the Roman Catholic Church hierarchy continues its relentless anti-gay jihad against normal, well adjusted gays, it continues to hemorrhage money in court settlements arising from pedophiles and psycho-sexually stunted priests who abused children and youths.   One would think that at some point the bitter old men in dresses would figure out that their twin obsessions - priestly celibacy and condemnation of all things sexual - is going to end up bankrupting the Church.  The latest blow to the Church's image - no pun intended - arises from the Cristian Brothers order which filed bankruptcy in order to try to stop the financial hemorrhaging.  Here are highlights from the Chicago Tribune:

An order of the Roman Catholic Church has agreed to pay $16.5 million to more than 400 adults who said they were sexually abused as children by religious leaders, the parties announced on Thursday in separate statements.

The victims claimed abuse at schools and child-care facilities belonging to the Christian Brothers and the Christian Brothers of Ireland, Inc, in 17 U.S. states and Canada from the late 1940s or early 1950s until the 1980s, said James Stang, a lawyer representing the plaintiffs.

The settlement agreement reached in U.S. bankruptcy court also enables the victims to pursue more assets from the Christian Brothers such as real estate or insurance claims, Stang said.

In 2011, the Christian Brothers filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in response to the sexual abuse claims.

Both sides noted the agreement establishes safeguards to protect children from future abuse.
Note that it is the terms of the settlement, not a plan advanced by Rome which will help insure that children and youths are protected from abuse in the future.  I ask again, how can anyone truly moral remain a Catholic?  Little or nothing has changed.

Thursday Morning Male Beauty

Boy Scouts to Vote on Gay Scouts Today

The Boy Scouts of America's leadership will vote today on whether or not to allow openly gay youth to be members.  Even if this proposal passes, it seems likely that once one reaches the age of majority, one will be kicked to the curb as if somehow one magically turns into a pedophile upon turning 18.  It goes without saying that Christofascist organizations and the ever familiar anti-gay hate groups are pulling out the stops on their lobbying the Boy Scouts' leadership to maintain anti-gay discrimination across the spectrum.  I ceased giving any financial support to scouting some years ago and when I do see scouts fundraising, I make a point of telling the adult supervisors that I'd like to make a donation but cannot do so because of the organization's bigoted policy.  A piece in the Virginian Pilot looks at the coming vote today.  Here are highlights:

The Boy Scouts of America's national leadership will vote Thursday whether to allow openly gay Scouts in its ranks, a critical and emotionally charged moment for one of the nation's oldest youth organizations and its millions of members.

About 1,400 voting members of BSA's national council are to cast ballots Thursday on a resolution that would end a policy that allows youth Scouts to be excluded based only on sexual orientation. The ban on gay adult leaders would remain in place.

While the meeting was closed to the public, it was closely watched by supporters and opponents of a change. Both sides on Wednesday made a final effort to explain their positions. Gay-rights supporters and others who want the policy changed held a summit at a nearby resort, while opponents held signs on the street next to the entrance and a rally nearby.
The results are expected to be announced shortly after 5 p.m. CDT Thursday.

BSA has faced mounting pressure over its exclusion policy as public opinion toward gays and gay marriage continues to evolve. Obama called on the Scouts to reverse the ban before a national executive board meeting in February, and two high-profile board members - the CEOs of AT&T and Ernst & Young - said they would work from within to change the policy.

The national executive board decided instead to leave the final decision to a vote of the national council, and BSA launched a listening tour of surveys and focus groups. BSA President Wayne Perry called on voters to approve the resolution overturning the ban, in an opinion piece for USA Today published online Wednesday.

Of the more than 100,000 Scouting units in the U.S., 70 percent are chartered by religious institutions. While these sponsors include liberal churches opposed to any ban on gays, some of the largest sponsors are relatively conservative denominations that have previously supported the broad ban - notably the Roman Catholic Church, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and Southern Baptist churches.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints announced in April that it supports the new proposal. Leaders of some smaller, conservative denominations have opposed it.

"Ultimately we can't anticipate how people will vote but we do know that the result will not match everyone's personal preference," said Deron Smith, BSA's national spokesman.

As long as any kind of gay ban remains, the Boy Scouts will not see a penny from me.

Virginia: The New Gay-Rights Battleground

The Republican Party of Virginia's nomination of a slate of extremists for its state wide ticket last weekend is drawing a great deal of media attention to Virginia, most of it negative.  One can't help but wonder what progressive business would want to consider relocating to Virginia as the utter batshitery of Ken Cuccinelli, E.W. Jackson and Mark Obenshain gets increasingly disseminated across the country and world.   The one irony is that all the attention is ruining Ken "Kookinelli" Cuccinelli's effort to avoid social issues in his campaign to dupe voters into believing that his not a religious extremist.   An article in Politico looks at how the campaign season may shape up and how Virginia is suddenly a gay rights battle ground.   Here are article excerpts:

Welcome to the gay rights battleground of Virginia.  Yes, you read that right. In the 2013 off-year elections, a state that once leaned solidly to the center-right has become the newest focal point in the national debate over same-sex relationships. A gubernatorial race already defined partly along culture-war lines has grown even more contentious since last weekend, when Virginia Republicans nominated as their lieutenant governor candidate a firebrand minister who has called gays “very sick people psychologically” and suggested a connection between homosexuality and pedophilia.

Remarkably, in a New South battleground where Democrats have traditionally won by carving out independent, non-partisan reputations, it’s Democratic gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe who’s most eager to keep gay rights on the political front burner.

After Republicans nominated Rev. E.W. Jackson for lieutenant governor at their state convention last weekend, the Virginia Democratic Party held a conference call – led by openly gay state Sen. Adam Ebbin – to accuse the GOP ticket of representing “the biases of the past.” McAuliffe’s campaign issued a statement Wednesday charging that the gay-rights views of Jackson and GOP gubernatorial nominee Ken Cuccinelli were “divisive,” “dangerous” and bad for business.

Gone, in other words, is the conventional Southern Democratic playbook of running away from the national party on culture. Encouraged by last year’s joint victories by Sen. Tim Kaine and President Barack Obama, Democrats argue this is simply The Way We Live Now in Virginia.

Democratic strategist Mo Elleithee said the fundamentals of Virginia’s cultural politics have changed so sharply that it makes sense for the party to trumpet cultural views that appeal to the state’s increasingly urban and diverse population.

The McAuliffe campaign’s research backs up that assessment, according to multiple operatives involved in the race, who see Cuccinelli and Jackson’s culture-warrior history as a valuable tool for motivating low-turnout Democrats in the off-cycle campaign.

Democratic polls and focus groups have consistently found that voters react with horror to a 2008 statement by Cuccinelli that the “homosexual agenda” brings about “nothing but self-destruction, not only physically but of their soul,” as well as to Cuccinelli’s opposition to public universities including gay-rights protections in their anti-discrimination policies.

One private Democratic poll taken last month showed that 81 percent of targeted young voters – aged 18 to 29 – called that information a “very strong reason to vote against” Cuccinelli. A March focus group of middle-class, Democratic-leaning women in Virginia Beach found Cuccinelli’s quote about the “homosexual agenda” similarly powerful.

University of Virginia professor Larry Sabato said that “twenty years have made a world of difference” in Virginia politics, as far as which side of the cultural divide is safer for statewide candidates.

“The gay rights issue here is emblematic. In the Old Dominion, a party associated with gay rights would be headed for a tumble. Now, it’s exactly the opposite. A sizeable majority in Purple Virginia do not consider the anti-gay views of Cuccinelli and Jackson to be acceptable,” Sabato said. “It’s old versus new. If the Democrats had a nominee like Tim Kaine, this contest would be over.”

Republicans have responded to the emergence of Jackson with reactions that range from cautious to downright critical.

On the Democratic side, too, there’s a recognition that the social-issue message will only be effective if voters believe it’s tied directly to their daily lives. Some voters may turn out simply to send a message to a politician they view as bigoted. But more will turn out and vote if McAuliffe and the rest of the Democratic ticket successfully argue that right-wing cultural views – embodied most vividly by Jackson – will cost Virginia jobs.
I can only pray that the Democrat base wakes up and turns out in November.  If this GOP ticket wins, Virginia will not be a fit place to live for women and minorities, not just gays.

The True Ugly Face of Religion

Yesterday we saw Islamic barbarism in London.  Last weekend we saw what was likely the result of Christofascist barbarism when a gay man was shot to death in New York City's West Village.   Clerics of both religions preach hate and violence.  Muslim leaders in the United Kingdom are thankfully speaking out against yesterday's barbaric murder in London.  But here in America hate merchants like E.W. Jackson, Republican nominee for Lt. Governor refuses to apologize for his extremist rhetoric.  Sadly, few Christian leaders have denounced Jackson.  The bigger question for adherents of both religions is what will they do beside talk?  Will they confront jihadists and extremists like Jackson?  Will they go on an offensive against their foul co-coreligionists?  Or will they act like the "good Germans"  and after perhaps a few words yield the field to the hate merchants?  My money is unfortunately on the latter.  It's a cynical view, but realistic when one looks at the fruits of both Christianity and Islam over the centuries: wars of religin, endless bloodshed, hatred and persecution of others.  Yesterday's murder victim is just the latest death in the countless millions who have died because of hate based religious belief.    Andrew Sullivan summarizes yesterday's horror in London:
The monster who paraded around on the street after hacking a soldier to pieces is chilling in many ways. But everything points to a religious act of terror, motivated by the same Jihadist rage that captured the Tsarnaev brothers. For these men, “our land” is not Britain; it is the land of Islam in their minds.  .  .  .  .   this was a religious sacrificial murder, authorized by God in the eyes of the killers.

Sadly, Andrew fails to acknowledge that hatred is not unique to Islam.  Here in Virginia the GOP has just nominated a trio of hate merchants motivated by religious fervor.  The face of E. W. Jackson below is different from the London murderers only by degree.  In both instances, the poison of religion is what powers the hatred and language that fuels violence.  Huffington Post looks at Jackson's refusal to rescind and of his awful statements:
The Virginia Republican Party took a post-convention victory lap on Tuesday in a parking lot outside gubernatorial candidate Ken Cuccinelli's headquarters. While the gatherers had come to propel the top of the ticket to a November victory, it was Cuccinelli's newly minted sidekick who stole the show. 

Jackson made no attempt to soften the edges on Tuesday, despite whispers from Virginia Republicans that his selection may doom Cuccinelli's chances. Instead, Jackson charged forward with gusto.

"I don't have anything to rephrase or to apologize for," Jackson told reporters. 
For those new to the blog, here are a few of the statements that Jackson feels no need to apologize for:
E.W. Jackson: Gay People Are "Perverted" And "Very Sick." In October 2012, Right Wing Watch reported about E.W. Jackson's appearance on a radio show with Peter LaBarbera and John Kirkwood. Jackson said about gays and lesbians: "Their minds are perverted, they're frankly very sick people psychologically, mentally and emotionally and they see everything through the lens of homosexuality. When they talk about love they're not talking about love, they're talking about homosexual sex. So they can't see clearly." [Right Wing Watch, 10/25/12]

 E.W. Jackson: Homosexuality "Destroys Families, It Destroys Societies; It Brings The Judgment Of God." In October 2012, Right Wing Watch reported about E.W. Jackson's appearance on a radio show with Peter LaBarbera and John Kirkwood. Jackson said: "Homosexuality is a horrible sin, it poisons culture, it destroys families, it destroys societies; it brings the judgment of God unlike very few things that we can think of." [Right Wing Watch, 10/25/12] E.W. Jackson: Homosexuality Tries To "Poison" And "Sexualize" Children. In October 2012, Right Wing Watch reported about E.W. Jackson's appearance on a radio show with Peter LaBarbera and John Kirkwood. Jackson said of homosexuality: "Look, it also attempts to poison our children, divide them from their parents and the teaching of the church and basically turn them into pawns for that movement so that they can sexualize them at the earliest possible age. It really is insidious and I agree with you, it is a super sin." [Right Wing Watch, 10/25/12]

E.W. Jackson: Gays And Lesbians "Want To Destroy" Culture; Said They Were Forcing Christians To Change Their Beliefs. In October 2012, Right Wing Watch reported about E.W. Jackson's appearance on a radio show with Peter LaBarbera and John Kirkwood. Jackson said of homosexuality: "They've got to transform the culture in order to make their lifestyles fully acceptable to everyone. I used two words to describe what they're trying to do: authoritarian and totalitarian, and I believe that. I believe that they are of a mindset that says we want to destroy in any way we need to anyone who dares oppose this agenda, that's a very, very dangerous approach.
Will there be some that take this rhetoric to heart and act?  Words can and do have consequences.


Early Morning Doldrums - Does It Ever Really Get Better?

It's 5:00 AM and I can't sleep thanks to anxiety issues over work, what I am going to do with my house in Norfolk now that my daughter and her family have moved out to escape the lawlessness seemingly escalating around the ODU campus while the City of Norfolk remains indifferent, and a host of other things.  I know that I have depression issues and maybe this is just a low point. Or maybe it's just a realization that my life has been one succession of disasters after another which makes me wonder what's the point of going on.  Any happiness seems to be negated ten fold by the bad.  I've been in this place before.  

Once I addressed this kind of low point with a bottle of Xanax.  Another time with lots of alcohol in a running car in a closed garage.  Would it have been better if those attempted solutions had succeeded?  I honestly don't know.  The "It Gets Better" campaign argues that things are improving for gays.  It's an outlook that is hard to hang on to living in a state like Virginia where progress isn't happening.  And where the Virginia GOP just nominated the most frightening anti-gay ticket in the history of the state.  Congressional Democrats throwing gays under the bus on immigration reform doesn't instill confidence for the future either.  It is exhausting waiting for things to get better - especially when deep down you know they won't.  Not for you, not in Virginia.

We are supposed to be heading to Washington, D.C., for a wedding this weekend.  I don't even want to go any more.  I had thought it would be a great get away.  Now, with the house and other things hanging over me, the prospect of fun and happiness are gone.  A cloud hangs over everything.  I feel like a swimmer swimming against the current and wonder if I shouldn't just end putting on a brave facade and let the current sweep me away. 

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

More Wednesday Male Beauty

The Inside Story Of Richwine's Dissertation That Became Too Racist For Heritage Foundation

Jason Richwine - An Equivalent to Paul Cameron?

There are some that will argue that IQ differences can be documented to exist between racial groups.  One recently in the news is now former Heritage Foundation Senior Policy Analyst Jason Richwine (pictured above) who co-authored a Heritage Foundation hatchet job on immigration reform.    It now seems that as time goes by, even more questions have arisen concerning his racist dissertation at Harvard and how Richwine was allowed to produce such seemingly flawed work.  In the interest of full disclosure, my late mother fits Richwine's definition of "Hispanic" - she was born in Honduras, raised Catholic and yet ostensibly considered herself as "white" - via Think Progress:

This is the chapter’s full definition of the term Hispanic and defense of its use:
Over 56% of immigrants living in the U.S. in 2006 were Hispanic — that is, born in either Mexico (32% of total immigrants), Central American [sic] and the Caribbean (17%), or South America (7%)…Hispanics are not a monolithic group either ethnically or culturally, but the category still has real meaning. Hispanics can be of any race, but they are most often “Mestizo” — a mixture of European and Amerindian background. Mexico, for example, is 60% Mestizo (LV 2006, 241). Hispanics also share ethno-cultural tendencies that are different from the majority Anglo-Protestant culture of the United States (Huntington 2004, 253-255). Most come from Spanish-speaking nations with cultures heavily influence by Catholicism. And many Hispanics choose to identify themselves as such, as the existence of groups like the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, the National Council of La Raza (“the race” or “the people”), and the Congressional Hispanic Caucus readily demonstrates.
  From this definition onward the criticisms of Richwine expolde.  Here are excerpts:

Von Vacano sees this as fatally inadequate. “Any serious work at the doctoral level on these issues (even if mainly quantitative or policy-oriented),” he told me, “requires a substantive component of analysis from the qualitative, historical, cultural, normative, and theoretical perspectives (at least one or two dissertation chapters).”

These are not merely scholarly niceties: what Richwine means by “Hispanic” is critical to the success of both of his two core arguments. First, to prove that “from the perspective of Americans alive today, the low average IQ of Hispanics is effectively permanent,” he needs to show that one can speak meaningfully about“Hispanic” IQ. Richwine needs this claim to be true for the entire third section of his dissertation, the one that spells out the dangers of low IQ Hispanic immigration, to succeed. Establishing the negative consequences of Hispanic immigration means first establishing there’s such a thing as “Hispanic immigration” in a scientifically useful sense.

Because Hispanic identity is so hotly contested among scholars of race and ethnicity, that means both providing a clear account of why people from an arbitrary set of geographic locations are homogenous enough for generalizations about them are meaningful, controlled social science. Richwine fails to do so.

First, Richwine asserts Hispanics are mostly some “Mestizo” mix of Native American and European, making them genetically similar. But in the unnerving world of race and IQ research, what mix they are matters. Richwine believes that “socioeconomic hierarchies correlate consistently with race all across the world” because some races are biologically smarter; “there are no countries,” he writes, “in which ethnic Chinese are less successful than Amerindians.” It stands to reason, on his theory, that “mixed” Hispanics with more European or  Asian DNA will be concomitantly smarter, on average, than more heavily Amerindian or African ones. But Richwine doesn’t attempt to show that the mix of racial DNA inside any one “Hispanic” subgroup is consistent enough for generalization, let alone the category as a whole.

Even a cursory examination of research on Latin American genetics uncovers an impossibly complex genetic admixture, one that varies widely from country to country or even region to region.    . . . .  As von Vacano puts it, “there is no literature that can meaningfully support the idea that ‘Hispanic’ is a genetic category,” let alone one that can be equated with the colonially-superimposed “Mestizo” identifier...

Second, Richwine asserts that Hispanics share a similar culture that’s distinct from so-called “Anglo” culture. Richwine’s only support for this claim is a citation of Samuel Huntington’s Who Are We?, a book that warns of a wave of Hispanic immigration irrevocably altering American culture for the worse. Huntington’s claims about Hispanic inability to assimilate have been subjected to serious quantitative challenge, but more to the point, citing a polemic tract about immigration does not constitute explaining what the purportedly unified Hispanic culture is and why the fact that it involves a lot of Spanish-speaking and Catholicism might be seen as allowing one to make generalized claims about the group.

There's much more that deserves a full read.  The point is that, like Paul Cameron and his bogus "studies" on gays, Richwine seemingly has set his definitions so as to support his preordained conclusion.   It's sloppy scholarship at best and a deliberate effort to malign an entire social group at worst.    Richwine's "research" is all too familiar to those of us who have followed faux Chritofacist "research" for many years.  The goal was to malign Hispanics and the definitions and facts were manipulated to achieve the predetermined conclusion.