Saturday, December 14, 2013

Saturday Morning Male Beauty

The Budget Deal's Biggest Losers: American Workers

In today's America, wealth inequality is rising and more and more families are struggling to maintain their standard of living. And for the working poor, the picture is even more bleak.  Especially in the wake of the budget deal in Congress which throws the most needy under the bus - or perhaps onto the trash heap.  Of course, leading the charge to trash the poor are the Republicans and their party base that pretends to support Christian values while acting worse than the Biblical Pharisees.  A piece in the New York Times looks at how American workers are the budget deal's biggest losers.  Here are excerpts:

The pundit consensus seems to be that Republicans lost in the just-concluded budget deal. Overall spending will be a bit higher than the level mandated by the sequester, the straitjacket imposed back in 2011. Meanwhile, Democrats avoided making any concessions on Social Security or Medicare. 

But if Republicans arguably lost this round, the unemployed lost even more: Extended benefits weren’t renewed, so 1.3 million workers will be cut off at the end of this month, and many more will see their benefits run out in the months that follow. And if you take a longer perspective — if you look at what has happened since Republicans took control of the House of Representatives in 2010 — what you see is a triumph of anti-government ideology that has had enormously destructive effects on American workers.

One of the truly remarkable things about American political discourse at the end of 2013 is the fixed conviction among many conservatives that the Obama era has been one of enormous growth in government. . . . . Once Obamacare is fully implemented, the Congressional Budget Office estimates that it will add only about 3 percent to overall federal spending. And, if you ask people ranting about runaway government what other programs they’re talking about, you draw a blank. 

Meanwhile, the actual numbers show that over the past three years we’ve been living through an era of unprecedented government downsizing. Government employment is down sharply; so is total government spending (including state and local governments) adjusted for inflation, which has fallen almost 3 percent since 2010 and around 5 percent per capita. 

And when I say unprecedented, I mean just that. We haven’t seen anything like the recent government cutbacks since the 1950s, and probably since the demobilization that followed World War II. 

[T]the most obvious cuts have been in education, infrastructure, research, and conservation. While the Recovery Act (the Obama stimulus) was in effect, the federal government provided significant aid to state and local education. Then the aid went away, and local governments began letting go of hundreds of thousands of teachers. Meanwhile, public investment fell sharply — so sharply that many observers refer to it as a “collapse” — as state and local governments canceled transportation projects and deferred maintenance.

There are three things you need to know about these harsh cuts. 

First, they were unnecessary. The Washington establishment may have hyperventilated about debt and deficits, but markets have never shown any concern at all about U.S. creditworthiness. In fact, borrowing costs have stayed at near-record lows throughout. 

Second, the cuts did huge short-term economic damage. Small-government advocates like to claim that reducing government spending encourages private spending — and when the economy is booming, they have a point. The recent cuts, however, took place at the worst possible moment, the aftermath of a financial crisis. . . . government cutbacks simply swelled the ranks of the unemployed — and as family incomes fell, so did consumer spending, compounding the damage. The result was to deepen and prolong America’s jobs crisis.

Finally, if you look at my list of major areas that were cut, you’ll notice that they mainly involve investing in the future. So we aren’t just looking at short-term harm, we’re also looking at a long-term degradation of our prospects, reinforced by the corrosive effects of sustained high unemployment. 

So, about that budget deal: yes, it was a small victory for Democrats. It was also, possibly, a small step toward political sanity . . . . the larger picture is one of years of deeply destructive policy, imposing gratuitous suffering on working Americans. And this deal didn’t do much to change that picture.

Tea Party: Boehner "Declared War"

I have a hard time feeling much sympathy for the Republican Party as it continues to suffer from the Frankenstein Monster it created when it allowed the Christofascists and the Tea Party (which is largely Christofascists repackaged under a different name) to take over much of the party's grass roots and city and county committees and caucuses across the country.  The result has been a rise of a white supremacist mind set, the open embrace of ignorance, religious extremism that threatens the concept of separation of church and state, and countless forms of bigotry.  Along with this, of course, has been a refusal to compromise and a willingness to destroy the country in a quest for ideological purity even though the ideology is insane.  In an effort to get a budget deal struck, the usually spineless John Boehner blasted the far right of the GOP.  Now the ranks of the lunatic far right are saying that Boehner has "declared war" on them.  The Hill looks at the spittle flecked rants of the Christofascists/Tea Party.  Here are highlights:

Tea Party Patriots said Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) has “declared war on the Tea Party” with his “smug and pretentious rant” against certain right-wing organizations.

The group made the charge in a fundraising email to supporters, seeking to win donations over the public feuding.

In the past two days, Boehner has repeatedly attacked the conservative groups that championed the October effort to defund ObamaCare and are now opposed to the recent budget deal negotiated by Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) and Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.).

He has criticized the groups for being more interested in raising money than actually solving problems.

The letter quotes Boehner's statement that “outside groups” were “using our members and ... the American people for their own goals.”  “The last time we checked, we are the American people,” the letter said.

The letter goes on to refer to Boehner as a “ruling class politician” who only pretends to be conservative while remaining a “tax-and-spend liberal” at heart.

It castigated him for passing a “back-room budget deal which increases discretionary spending, does nothing to reform entitlements, and fully funds Obamacare.” The deal, it said, “is an out and out betrayal of the American people.”

Tea Party Patriots, founded in 2009, describes itself as “dedicated to holding tax-and-spend politicians accountable for creating America's fiscal crisis.”  The group was an early backer of the push to defund ObamaCare that led to the government shutdown in early October.

Let's be clear.  The Tea Party is nothing but a bunch of angry white racists/extremists who resent the loss of white privilege that they have long enjoyed.  Its members are irrational, callous towards others and self-centered.  Its members are not nice and decent people.  

Daily Press: Repeal the Marshall Newman Amendment

Despite the Internal Revenue Service's decision to recognize legal same sex marriages regardless of a couple's state of residency, married gay and lesbian couples in Virginia will be able to file joint federal tax returns next April.  Virginia - which has long boot strapped its tax returns on federal return forms and calculations - however will not recognize such marriages or allow joint returns.  That ruling is based on the opinion of closet case homophobe extraordinaire, Ken Cuccinelli.  Not surprisingly, Christofascists at The Family Foundation and other hate groups are lauding Cuccinelli's ruling.  The Daily Press (which has shifted from far right positions more recently) has condemned this discriminatory stance.  Here are editorial excerpts:

Our commonwealth continues to exhibit a discouraging propensity for ignoring individual rights through legislative fiat. The latest caveat illustrating that tendency is the state Department of Taxation's notice to gay and lesbian married couples.

According to the department's advisory, gay and lesbian married couples are not eligible for newly granted federal tax benefits.

That means, for now, while same-sex couples married in other states can file federal income taxes jointly, they must file as separate individuals for tax purposes in the state of Virginia.

The office of outgoing Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli — who hung his hat, if not his career, on social issue crusades — maintains this is in keeping with the state's prohibition of same-sex unions. A 1975 law banning same-sex unions was reinforced in 2006 when Virginia voters approved a constitutional amendment defining marriage as a specifically heterosexual enterprise.

Ironically Virginia hasn't chosen to follow its own star regarding federal taxation policies for quite some time.. According to the taxation department's website:  "Since 1972, Virginia has conformed to federal income tax law. Whenever federal income tax law changed, the changes automatically affected Virginia income taxes, unless otherwise exempt. …."

Our founding documents — not the least of which is the 14th Amendment — go into specific detail about the rights of individual afforded by our Constitution. Then there's Article IV, Section 1 of the U.S. Constitution. The "full faith and credit clause" means, among other things, that your valid Virginia driver's license is valid in Georgia, too. States honor and recognize the official acts of other states.  Government should not meddle in the private lives of its citizens. This concept is even more germane in the face of a changing society.

On these pages, prior to the Supreme Court ruling which affected DOMA interpretations, this Editorial Board advocated voiding discriminatory laws. That stance still holds true.  Virginians need to reconsider the constitutional marriage bans. All of our citizens deserve to expect fair treatment under the law.

GOP Senator Introduces Bill to Legalize Anti-Gay Discrimination

The lengths that Republican elected officials will go to in order to pander to the Christofascists who demand special rights over other citizens is at times shocking.  How else to describe Republican Senator Mike Lee's introduction of a bill offering a religious “license to discriminate” against gay people and same-sex marriage.  The bill is disingenuously called “Marriage and Religious Freedom Act” and instead of guarantying religious freedom for all, it provides special rights for far right Christians who want to exempt themselves from public accommodation laws and other non-discrimination laws.  As I have said before, NO ONE is as selfish and self-centered as the "godly folk," many of whom would have made dutiful Nazis had they lived in 1930's and 1040's Germany given their utter disregard for the humanity of others.   As for Lee, one has to wonder why he simply doesn't have "I'm a whore" or "I'm a liar" tattooed across his forehead.  It is also telling that a veritable who's who of anti-gay hate groups has endorsed the bill.   The New Civil Rights Movement looks at this very troubling bill.  Here are excerpts: 

Republican Senator Mike Lee of Utah has just introduced legislation offering a religious “license to discriminate” against gay people and same-sex marriage. The so-called “Marriage and Religious Freedom Act” is a direct response to the Supreme Court striking down Section 3 of DOMA, a direct challenge to recent news the IRS may tighten rules governing non-profits, and a direct response to Lee’s suggestion that the President will issue an executive order that would force churches, religious institutions, and non-profits to recognize or even consecrate same-sex marriages.

The legislation would make it legal for any individual, business, and any religious institution to discriminate against a person who is LGBT, who is in a same-sex marriage, or even any person who engages in pre-marital sex.

“This bill protects the rights of individuals and organizations from religious discrimination by the federal government,” Lee said in a statement. “Those who believe in the traditional definition of marriage deserve respect and tolerance.  It is critical that we clarify the law to ensure that their fundamental civil liberties are not at risk.”

Ironically, Lee has signed on as an original co-sponsor Louisiana Senator David Vitter, whose involvement with a D.C. prostitution ring is legendary.

Also on board are Senators Tom Coburn (R-OK), Orrin Hatch (R-UT), Jim Inhofe (R-OK), Pat Roberts (R-KS), and, of course, Marco Rubio (R-FL).

Think Progress notes “the implications for this legislation are numerous, but could allow businesses to discriminate against employees with a same-sex spouse, government officials to discriminate against same-sex couples filing their taxes jointly, or religiously affiliated hospitals discriminating against patients with same-sex spouses.”

Senator Lee’s website notes his “’Marriage and Religious Freedom Act’ has been endorsed by the United States Conference Of Catholic Bishops, Family Research Council, National Organization For Marriage, Heritage Action, Concerned Women For America, The Ethics And Religious Liberty Commission Of The Southern Baptist Convention, and Liberty Counsel Action.”

Friday, December 13, 2013

Friday Morning Male Beauty

Pat Robertson: Lesbian Friend Might Turn Your Kids Gay

Governor elect Terry McAuliffe has said that he has high hopes for turning the Hampton Roads area of Virginia into a progressive, high tech dynamo.  Most area residents would welcome the economic benefits that would accrue from such a development.  There's one major obstacle, of course: the Christofascist lead by The Family Foundation who want to drag Virginia back to the Dark Ages.  And leading this charge in Hampton Roads with monthly batshitery eruptions is Pat Robertson that make it clear to would be progressive businesses that Hampton Roads remains in inhabited by far too many spittle spewing Kool-Aid drinkers.  Right Wing Watch looks at Robertson's latest insanity in which he advises that having a lesbian friend may turn your children gay:

Pat Robertson told a 700 Club viewer today that she is right to be wary of inviting a lesbian friend over to her home, because that might cause her children to “grow up as lesbians.” Robertson, who has previously claimed that gay people are “trying to recruit more of the straight population,” said that while the viewer should love rather than shun her friend, she should tell her that she doesn’t approve of her “lifestyle.”

“You keep love, you loved her, you were close and your influence may have something significant to her, the idea is you don’t gain anything by shunning,” Robertson said. “But at the same you don’t want your children to grow up as lesbians, that’s what you’re talking about, you don’t want to show them that that’s an acceptable lifestyle for your family.”

He added: “It doesn’t hurt to tell somebody: I love you, we are going to do what we can to be friends if we can. I have my lifestyle, it’s Christian and you have yours, it’s not; I’m sorry we can’t indulge in certain things together.”

In past episodes of the 700 Club, Robertson has alleged that gay people wear dangerous AIDS rings and quipped that gay couples make him want to vomit.

It is Robertson who ought to make decent people want to vomit. 

Pat Robertson told a 700 Club viewer today that she is right to be wary of inviting a lesbian friend over to her home, because that might cause her children to “grow up as lesbians.” Robertson, who has previously claimed that gay people are “trying to recruit more of the straight population,” said that while the viewer should love rather than shun her friend, she should tell her that she doesn’t approve of her “lifestyle.”
“You keep love, you loved her, you were close and your influence may have something significant to her, the idea is you don’t gain anything by shunning,” Robertson said. “But at the same you don’t want your children to grow up as lesbians, that’s what you’re talking about, you don’t want to show them that that’s an acceptable lifestyle for your family.”
He added: “It doesn’t hurt to tell somebody: I love you, we are going to do what we can to be friends if we can. I have my lifestyle, it’s Christian and you have yours, it’s not; I’m sorry we can’t indulge in certain things together.”
In past episodes of the 700 Club, Robertson has alleged that gay people wear dangerous AIDS rings and quipped that gay couples make him want to vomit.
- See more at:

Virginian Pilot: Expand Medicaid to Save Virginia Money

One aspect of the GOP's obsession to kill Obamacare - even though it has been upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court - is to resist the Medicaid expansion element of the larger plan.  Here in Virginia, Medicaid expansion would bring coverage to 400,000 Virginians, fuel new jobs in the health care industry and save Virginia money.  Yet in the up is down, black is white world of the GOP, these realities are beyond the comprehension of the cretins/Neanderthals of the GOP base and their trained circus dogs who comprise GOP elected officials.  Today's main page editorial in the Virginian Pilot recognizes the idiocy of the GOP position and urges Virginia to expand Medicaid.  Here are editorial highlights:

Census figures peg the number of uninsured Virginians at roughly 1 million, or about 12 percent of the commonwealth's population.

As many as 400,000 would be eligible to enroll in Medicaid's managed-care program if the state expands it in accordance with the federal Affordable Care Act.

Such a move would connect uninsured Virginians with a family doctor and help them seek preventive care and control chronic conditions without going to a hospital emergency room, where taxpayers and private insurance subsidize their care.

About 70 percent of Virginia's uninsured are part of a family where at least one adult works. . . .
But the counties and cities stretching from Surry to Grayson County in southwestern Virginia have high proportions of uninsured Virginians.

And many of them are simply stuck: They don't make enough to afford private insurance yet make too much to qualify for Medicaid under Virginia's miserly system.  The commonwealth's current Medicaid eligibility criteria are among the most exclusive in the nation, with coverage restricted to poor pregnant women, children and the disabled.

Republicans, led by Gov. Bob McDonnell, have opposed expansion of Medicaid by arguing that the federal government won't keep its word to cover costs as specified in federal law. The law requires the feds to pay 100 percent of expansion costs through 2016, gradually decreasing to 90 percent through 2021.

But that skepticism is self-defeating. Virginia can expand Medicaid so it reverts if the federal government's coverage drops below 90 percent.

Virginia can make a conditional expansion of Medicaid that allows the state to keep the $10 billion in new taxes Virginians must pay over the next five years. Otherwise, that money is heading to states that have already agreed to expand Medicaid.

That money will support 30,000 jobs needed to coordinate expansion of services.

More efficient, and effective, managed health care will be provided to the uninsured and working poor, which in turn will reduce overall health care costs for everyone. Virginia can save some of the hundreds of millions of dollars already spent every budget biennium in subsidies to hospitals, free clinics and community health care centers for treatment of the uninsured.

Of course, expanding medical access to the poor and needy is not consistent with the Christofascist/Tea Party desire to see such people simply die and disappear - especially if they are not white.  It is sick and perverse. 

Millennials Prepare to Destroy GOP

There is no doubt in my mind that the Republican Party in its current incarnation that is dominated by religious extremism, racism, greed and bigotry needs to be destroyed.  The GOP has simply become something incredibly ugly and it all traces, in my view, to the rise of the Christofascists within the Party.  This element despite it feigned piety is comprised of people who simply are not nice and decent.  Sadly, they see others as things rather than living, breathing human beings and display a callousness towards others that is reminiscent of the way the Nazis dehumanized the Jews of Europe.  Thankfully, a new study by the Pew Research group suggests that the Milennial generation may be poised to destroy today's GOP.   Here are highlights from the Daily Kos:

Millennials (those born roughly since 1980 or so, depending on your definition) are the most progressive generation since FDR.

That's the headline from this fascinating infographic from Pew, which examines the voting preferences of various generational cohorts over the last two decades.  We've heard this before of course.  Pew grouped voters into categories not based solely on birth year, but also on the year in which a voter turned 18 -- noting under what President this occurred (fascinating concept).  They then looked across the last 10 elections to see where deviations from the national average occurred.
Takeways --
1) The obvious lede -- every election Millennials have voted in, they've skewed Democratic. Almost as important?  Ditto for young Gen Xers (who turned 18 under Clinton) -- in every election except 2004 (when they skewed GOP) and 2000 (when they tracked with national averages), they skew Democratic as well.  

2) Millennials and young Gen Xers deviated from the norm in 11 of 12 opportunities.

3) . . . . the Clinton group (today age 30-37) skewed Democratic in 5 of 7 elections and skewed Republican in only one.  Powerful argument that this is the fault line: voters age 37 and younger, vs. those 38 and older.  Not Gen X vs. Millennial.  Everyone born after Star Wars came out is basically a Democrat.

4) The idea that young, idealistic, naive voters tend to side with progressives until they age into mature, worldly realists and start voting for conservatives seems to be (at least partially) debunked by this chart.  Only the Reagan/Bush Gen Xers exhibit anything like this behavior.  Other groups were either a) more consistent over time, or b) inconsistent but in unpredictable ways, not just "older = more conservative."

In short, this chart seems to confirm much of what we've been talking about for years -- Millennials seem to consistently prefer progressive ideals, and predictably vote for Democratic candidates that (theoretically) espouse those ideals.  This is not changing, and it's a bit of an historical aberration.

If you were a Republican strategist, this is just more heartburn.
Yet despite this demographic reality, the GOP continues to pander increasingly to an aging voter pool that is literally dying off.  And in the process, the GOP is alienating the younger generations that are repulsed by the GOP's racism, homophobia and rejection of modernity.  Long term, it is political suicide.  But then, of course, the Christofascists are utterly detached from reality, so perhaps this phenomenon should be no surprise.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

More Thursday Male Beauty

Conservative Blog Slams Wayne Coleman for Desegregation Remarks

While most of the GOP base in Virginia has become comprised of a mix of white supremacists, raging homophobes, religious fanatics and angry whites resentful over the loss of the white privilege that they long enjoyed, there are still pockets of sanity within the Virginia GOP.  Admittedly, these pockets of sanity are growing increasingly scare.  Some of these still sane Republicans can be found at the blog Bearing Drift.  They may not win any points with the Tea Party, but they do still have a grip on reality -something sadly missed from the GOP overall.  Here are highlights from Bearing Drift that trash GOP candidate Wayne Coleman (at right) who sought to blame all of Virginia's education challenges on scholl desegregation:

On a recent local morning radio program in Hampton Roads, Republican state Senate candidate Wayne Coleman decided that it would be a good time to comment about how busing in the 1970s was the downfall of education – despite not being asked that question specifically.

We live in an era where the black community votes as a bloc nearly 9:1 for the Democrats. And, in the urban environment of Norfolk, where the black population is 43%, and predominantly makes up the 6th Senate District, saying something that can only come across as offensive is not only wrong, but a losing proposition.

This was nothing but an unforced error.

The reality is that Coleman is, in the vernacular, an OWG (Old White Guy). Having an OWG say something on the radio that seems to come across as “things were better before desegregation” is not only likely to offend black voters, but to inspire them to vote Democrat. 

Coleman was already facing an uphill battle in the 6th District, which has only been held by a Republican for a handful of years over the past several decades. He needed to run a gaffe-free, perfect campaign in order to win.

He hasn’t. And all the explanations, retractions, and clarifications won’t help him now.

Additionally, it is well past time for blacks and whites to have a reasonable discussion on race. That won’t happen until everyone starts looking forward, with a vision of equality and community. Looking to the past and laying blame is not acknowledging the present and looking for solutions.
I hate to break the news to the author at Bearing Drift, but most of the GOP base is made up of OWG's.  And that's who Coleman was speaking to in the hope that their racism, homophobia and bigotry would make Coleman their darling.

Australia: Catholic Church Paid $43 Million to Keep Abuse Secret

Pope Francis may be Time Magazine's 2013 Person of the Year, but that accolade is not keeping the new explosions of the world wide sex abuse scandals under wraps.  Just as the Roman Catholic Church went into a free fall in Ireland after government investigations into sexual abuse blew the lid off of the perversion and abuse that had been deliberately hidden by high Church clerics, now the Royal Commission in Australia is turning up more and more lurid details of sins committed by bishops and cardinals who sought to silence victims of clerical sex abuse.  It now appears that at least $43 million in hush money was paid since 1996 to keep abuse victims silent and away form the police or the media.  The question thus becomes once again one of what Francis will do to hold bishops and cardinal accountable and to punish those involved in this criminal conspiracy.  The Daily Telegraph has details.  Here are highlights:

THE Catholic Church has admitted paying at least $43 million in hush money to victims of its paedophile priests, as the church's barrister outraged victims yesterday by quoting from the Bible. 
In some cases, victims were not even allowed to tell their husbands, wives or children about the secret settlements negotiated through the church's controversial Towards Healing process.

The royal commission into child sex abuse was yesterday also told how a Brisbane Catholic priest, Father Frank Derriman, ran a cult-like group sexually abusing young girls and giving them all the surname Brown, borrowed from the Peanuts comic strip's Charlie Brown.

As the church apologised for its behaviour through the commission, survivors who were abused as children in orphanages and homes, walked out of the Sydney hearing in tears when the church's counsel, Peter Gray SC quoted from the Gospel of Mark.

It is the first time the church has been forced to reveal the extent of compensation paid to victims, although it does not include out-of-court settlements or other payments made outside the Towards Healing process.

Counsel assisting the commission, Gail Furness SC, said that between January 1996 and September 2013, $43 million had been paid by all church authorities with the Christian Brothers the most notorious.

The second largest number of complaints were made against the Marist Brothers and then the De La Salle Brothers.

In that time, 2215 victims had approached the Towards Healing process and 1700 people went ahead with it, although not all were pursued or substantiated.

The most complaints, 43 per cent, were made against religious brothers, 21 per cent against diocesan priests and 14 per cent against religious priests. Most of the abuse happened between 1950 to 1980 in orphanages and schools.

There are many more lurid details, so read the whole piece.  It is shocking - or at least to anyone who hasn't followed the sex abuse scandal closely - and underscores the cesspool nature of the Church hierarchy.   If Francis wants to live up to the tile given to him by Time, he needs to begin cleaning house big time.  And forcing bishops and cardinals into retirements where they continue to live like princes is not enough.  They need to be thrown out and left on the street with no retirements, no plush living quarters, and no titles and deference.

Thursday Morning Male Beauty

India's Ruling Congress Party Slams Supreme Court for Banning Gay Sex

The fallout continues in India over the Supreme Court of India's bowing to religious extremists and reinstating section 377 of the Indian Penal Code that hearkens back to the 1860's and British colonial rule.  Now, the ruling Congress Party has condemned the Court's action and is urging Parliament to fix the problem that was reactivated by the Court's ruling.  The choice before the Indian Parliament is one of whether India is to be a modern nation or a backward dominated by religious based ignorance and bigotry.  The New York Times has details.  Here are excerpts:

NEW DELHI — India's ruling party on Thursday slammed the Supreme Court for reinstating a ban on gay sex, taking an unexpectedly bold stance ahead of elections in the religiously conservative nation. 

The court on Wednesday overturned a 2009 ruling by Delhi's High Court, which had lifted a ban on gay sex between consenting adults that dated back to the nineteenth century. The top court said only parliament could change the penal code. 

The court's shock move triggered protests in cities across India on Wednesday as fear spread that the gay community was effectively being outlawed. The ruling was condemned internationally. 

"The High Court had wisely removed an archaic, repressive and unjust law that infringed on the basic human rights enshrined in our Constitution," said Sonia Gandhi, the head of the Nehru-Gandhi dynasty that leads the ruling Congress party, in a rare public statement. 

Finance Minister P. Chidambaram and Law Minister Kapil Sibal also voiced dismay.  "To say in this day and age that LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender)rights should not be recognized is extremely regressive and extremely disappointing," Chidambaram told reporters. 

Gay rights activists had not expected the Congress-led coalition government to wade in on the issue . . . 

The opposition Bharatiya Janata Party ducked mounting pressure to make its stance known.
"This is not a political issue. It is a social issue," said BJP spokesperson Meenakshi Lekhi. 

India's parliament could now vote to change or remove section 377 of the penal code, which prohibits "carnal intercourse against the order of nature", a phrase widely interpreted to refer to homosexual sex. Violation of the law can be punished with up to 10 years in jail. 

Gandhi urged parliament to take up the matter in her statement. Chidambaram suggested that, given the notoriously slow pace of India's lawmakers, the government should instead file a "curative petition", a kind of appeal under which the case is reviewed by a five-judge panel. 

Gay rights activists have long argued that the current law reflects British colonial standards of morality and not Indian traditions. 

The choice is embracing modernity or ignorance and religious based hatred.

Lynchburg News Advance: Obenshain Needs to Abide by Recount

There is growing opposition to the possible effort by failed GOP candidate Mark Obenshain to throw the decision in the Virginia Attorney General race into the Virginia General Assembly where Obenshain apparently believes that the GOP controlled legislature would give him the election regardless of the vote turn out.  Hence Obenshain's frantic efforts to fabricate "Problems" with ballots, especially in pro-Democrat Fairfax County.  The News Advance, the hometown paper of Lynchburg based Liberty University, has come out against Obenshain scheme.  Here are editorial highlights:

Despite the reticence of most of Virginia’s Republican legislators to talk about it and the best efforts of outgoing Gov. Bob McDonnell to shoot it down, the possibility of the GOP-dominated General Assembly stepping in to decide the winner of the closely contested attorney general race is not a dead issue.

If Herring’s win holds up, we hope Obenshain will respect the will of the voters. He could well pull off a “win” in the GOP-dominated Assembly, but he would be viewed by the public as a usurper who “stole the election” by partisan chicanery. That is the last thing we Virginians need.

But lawyers for Obenshain and some Republican apparatchiks have been making noises — very disturbing noises — calling into question the propriety of the vote count.

Indeed, when the state Board of Elections voted Nov. 25 to certify the results, Chairman Charles Judd, a Republican and former top-ranking official with the now-defunct Moral Majority, said he was voting to certify “with question” because he had concerns about “the integrity of data.”

Thus, in a few words, the GOP laid the foundation for Obenshain, should the recount uphold Herring’s razor-thin victory, to mount a contest of the results before a joint session of the General Assembly.

In the Herring/Obenshain race, there have been no credible charges. None whatsoever. Obenshain’s lawyers and party officials have focussed their attention on Fairfax County, where the outcome of the election was decided after days of counting absentee and provisional ballots. Some GOP stalwarts have tried to make the charge that the Fairfax vote counting process is tainted and that local officials disobeyed state directives about determining the eligibility of provisional ballots.

That, in a nutshell, seems to be the basis for this dangerous chatter of a legislative contest. It’s made all the more ironic and hypocritical by the fact that the Fairfax Electoral Board, like all electoral boards in Virginia, has a Republican majority and is led by Republican Brian W. Schoeneman.

[T]he voters and the candidates deserve the assurance that every possible eligible ballot is counted to guarantee the voters’ voices have been heard. And respected.

Today's GOP has open contempt for democracy - at least any form of democracy that doesn't disenfranchise minorities and give power to angry white male far right Christians.  It is frightening.  

GOP Candidate for Northam Senate Seat Blames Desegregation for Public Education Decline

While he is now seriously back peddling and - as seems to be the GOP norm, claiming that he meant something different - Wayne Coleman (pictured at left), the GOP candidate for the Virginia Senate seat formerly held by Lt. Governor elect Ralph Northam, blamed desegregation and school bus for the decline of public education.  Sadly, Coleman's attitude permeates much of the GOP base here in Virginia where increasingly city and county committee meetings ought to begin by all members donning KKK robes. And never mind that the Christofascist elements that support candidates like Coleman seek to have creationism taught as science and school curricula purged of anything that challenges their reactionary and ignorance embracing religious beliefs.  Here are excerpts from the Virginian Pilot on Coleman's batshitery:

The Republican nominee for an upcoming state Senate special election is retreating from remarks he made this week in a radio interview claiming compulsory busing to desegregate area schools "really was the beginning of the decline in some of the school districts."

Commercial freight executive Wayne Coleman offered that opinion during a Monday appearance on "The John Fredericks Morning Show" in response to a question from the host about fixing failing schools in Norfolk.

Coleman's reply:  "I'm old enough to have lived during the desegregation of the schools here locally. And busing children, in my opinion, around the different districts, getting them out of their local neighborhoods, really was the beginning of the decline in some of the school districts."

Coleman sought to clarify his comments Wednesday, saying a lack of precision in his phrasing has presented "an opportunity to misconstrue and mischaracterize their meaning."

School segregation remains a bitter chapter in Virginia's history, where resistance to integration remained intense in Norfolk after the Supreme Court in 1954 declared separate-but-equal schools unconstitutional.

Local efforts to stop desegregation, including closing schools, drew national attention. Even after a federal judge ordered Norfolk schools to desegregate in 1958, officials continued to fight to keep black children separate; 17 black students in Norfolk began at white schools the next February.

By the late 1960s, most Norfolk schools remained nearly all white or all black. Mandatory busing, a new approach to desegregation, began in Norfolk in 1970.

Eastern Shore Del. Lynwood Lewis, the Democratic nominee in the 6th Senate District, said Coleman's other "comments are unfortunate and they speak for themselves," in a brief telephone interview Wednesday.

Rodney Jordan, a Norfolk School Board member whose family was involved in the local civil rights movement, said that no matter what Coleman meant, his comments seemed to romanticize a time in history marked by discrimination and hatred.

Today's Virginia GOP is very ugly and it has only become uglier since the Christofascists became the puppet masters for the Republican Party of Virginia.   Not surprisingly, Coleman is no friend to gay Virginians and has promised to take strong stands for gun rights and against abortion and gay marriage. One can only hope that Coleman goes down to defeat.

Proper GOP uniforms

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

More Wednesday Male Beauty

White Heterosexual Men Have the Fewest Friends

Studies indicate that white heterosexual men have the fewest close friends.  A piece in Salon looks at the issue:

Of all people in America, adult, white, heterosexual men have the fewest friends. Moreover, the friendships they have, if they’re with other men, provide less emotional support and involve lower levels of self-disclosure and trust than other types of friendships. When men get together, they’re more likely to do stuff than have a conversation. Friendship scholar Geoffrey Greif calls these “shoulder-to-shoulder” friendships, contrasting them to the “face-to-face” friendships that many women enjoy. If a man does have a confidant, three-quarters of the time it’s a woman, and there’s a good chance she’s his wife or girlfriend.
[R]esearch shows that boys are just as likely as girls to disclose personal feelings to their same-sex friends and they are just as talented at being able to sense their friends’ emotional states.

But, at about age 15 to 16 — right at the same age that the suicide rate of boys increases to four times the rate of girls — boys start reporting that they don’t have friends and don’t need them. Because Way interviewed young men across each year of high school, she was able to document this shift. One boy, Justin, said this in his first year, when he was 15:
[My best friend and I] love each other… that’s it… you have this thing that is deep, so deep, it’s within you, you can’t explain it.
By his senior year, however, this is what he had to say about friendship:
[My friend and I] we mostly joke around. It’s not like really anything serious or whatever… I don’t talk to nobody about serious stuff…
Why?  Some posit that it's because of the (in my view) sick macho mentality in which men are raised and taught to hide their feelings and never show weakness or any traits that might suggest femininity.  And then there is the so-called gay panic syndrome: men cannot show affection towards without facing possible accusations of being gay.  Andrew Sullivan looks at these toxic causes.  Here are highlights:
Lisa Wade blames the conditioning boys undergo in their teens:
[M]en are pressed — from the time they’re very young — to disassociate from everything feminine. This imperative is incredibly limiting for them. Paradoxically, it makes men feel good because of a social agreement that masculine things are better than feminine things, but it’s not the same thing as freedom. It’s restrictive and dehumanizing. It’s oppression all dressed up as awesomeness. And it is part of why men have a hard time being friends.
To be close friends, men need to be willing to confess their insecurities, be kind to others, have empathy and sometimes sacrifice their own self-interest. “Real men,” though, are not supposed to do these things. They are supposed to be self-interested, competitive, non-emotional, strong (with no insecurities at all), and able to deal with their emotional problems without help. Being a good friend, then, as well as needing a good friend, is the equivalent of being girly.
Katy Waldman thinks it’s also about gay panic: 
Wade doesn’t mention the rainbow elephant in the room, but I wonder whether men are less afraid of girliness here than homosexuality. In many ways, it’s a distinction without a difference, since homophobes tend to imagine gay men as effete.
Daisy Buchanan believes one solution is to battle the stigma against boys making friends with girls:
I don’t believe men are naturally wired to be any less intimate and caring than women are. But if young boys grow up in a world where they’re mocked for pursuing friendships with girls, and don’t see enough examples of friendships between older men, it’s going to cause huge problems for men and women later in life. Without a network of friends, boys are going to grow up to feel confused, lonely and alienated.
Personally, I think the American image of manliness is very fu*ked up.  Perhaps not surprisingly, I never fit the societal model and always found that, with a few exceptions, I usually had girls as my closest friends.  Being gay even though in the closet for decades possibly a part of the reason I did not fit the supposed idealized male stereotype.  I will say that since coming out, I have developed many more friendships with other males than in all the years prior to coming out.  

Virginian Pilot: Randy Forbes = An Ass

Previous posts have noted Congressman Randy Forbes' efforts to block the National Republican Congressional Committee from providing funding to the campaigns of gay Republicans.  The Virginian Pilot carried the cartoon above to underscore what an ass Forbes is and how he is harming the GOP.

Times of India Column Slams Anti-Gay Ruling of Supreme Court of India

Many in India want that nation to be recognized as a modern, increasingly progressive and dynamic nation.  Apparently, the Supreme Court feels otherwise and has issued a ruling that seeks to take India back to the mindset of the 1860's and British colonial rule.  That's about the only conclusion that one can reach based on the Court's ruling that struck down a lower court decision and reinstated Section 377 (unnatural offenses) of the Indian Penal Code, the 1860's statute passed by the British, that criminalized gay sex.  Now, India will be much like areas of Southwest Virginia that want to attract progressive new businesses, yet are so backwards that no one wants to locate there. Cheap wages are not always all that factors into corporate relocation and expansion decisions. While backward religious extremists may be applauding the Court's decision, many are not and a piece in the Times of India takes the Court and those who appealed the lower court ruling to task.  Here are some excerpts:

Here’s a pop quiz. Which century are we living in? 21st you say! But it seems the Supreme Court of India doesn’t agree with this logical fact. What else can explain the dogmatic and regressive verdict of the SC today in which they have upheld section 377 of the Indian Penal code that says that sexual relationship against the order of the nature is an offence. They also ruled that the courts should not intervene and that it was up to parliament to legislate on the issue. 

The 2009 verdict was hailed as a landmark judgment which saw ostracized gay and transgender communities erupt in celebration. But, as is the case with our country, a lot of people had a problem with this as it disrupted their way of looking at things. In a rare alliance, anti-gay right activists ,representatives of different religious groups , including the All India Muslim Law Board, Utkal Christian Council and Apostolic Churches Alliance , other Christian and church groups, and Hindu spiritual leaders, had come together to challenge the high court's order. They were offended and therefore challenged the judgment. Not to be left behind, one of the many custodians of Indian culture Senior BJP leader BP Singhal challenged the high court verdict in the Supreme Court. All of them appealed the ruling to the Supreme Court, which concluded hearings in March last year on the subject.

They had a problem because..
Lots of reasons. The BJP leader BP Singhal felt such acts (gay sex) are illegal, immoral and against the ethos of Indian culture. Dominic Emmanuel, spokesman of the Delhi Catholic Archdiocese said, "The church has a very clear stand on people with different sexual orientations. They are different from ... normal people. Other Leaders of India's Muslim and Christian communities argued that all homosexual acts were "unnatural".The general secretary of the All India Muslim Personal Law Board, Abdul Raheem Quraishi said, "We know that homosexuality is against nature.It goes against all its laws and it is what led to the spread of HIV/AIDS."   

So the Supreme Court gave in to THIS? Sadly, yes. Justice G.S. Singhvi and Justice S.J. Mukhopadhayay have clearly disappointed many with their tame and, judging by Twitter reactions, highly unpopular decision. They said that there was no constitutional room for change in Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code. The bench, however, put the ball in Parliament's court to take a decision on the controversial issue, saying it is for the legislature to debate and decide on the matter. 

Our Opinion

The verdict has been shocking on many levels.

Firstly, landing a major blow to India's claim of being a country with a modern outlook, the fact a law made by Britishers in the 1860's has been upheld in 2013 makes for a strange sentence.

Secondly, with many countries now equating gay equality with the rights for same-sex marriage, the Supreme Court ruling puts India back in the company of most nations in the Islamic world and many African countries which criminalise homosexuality. The only country in South Asia where gay sex is now legal is Nepal.

"It is highly embarrassing for the country because now we will be among the dirty dozens of the world," said Narayan, the lawyer from the Alternative Law Forum.

Thirdly, it is a blow to people's right to equality. Just because gays have made a different lifestyle choice, they do not deserve to be put in jail. They are also entitled to their privacy and dignity. They do face widespread discrimination and ignorance from a largely homophobic Indian society. And with this verdict, the law has also deserted them.

Fourthly, by putting the ball in the Parliament's court, the Supreme Court has now granted power to decide how India's citizens should lead their private lives, in the hands of those MPs who are yet to become sensitive even to the gender equality issue.

I have many clients of Indian descent and I have looked forward to visiting India some day.  Not now, however.  India is now on the list of nations that I will boycott until such time as anti-gay laws are repealed. 


Virginia State Senator Claims Gay Marriage Will Lead to Legalization of Polygamy

The lunacy and open bigotry of the Republican Party of Virginia continues to be on display even before the Virginia General Assembly session starts next month.  One can only imagine the batshitery that will ensue when the Virginia GOP knuckle draggers convene.  In addition to the always insane and anti-gay and anti-gay Del. Bob Marshall, Senator Dick Black (pictured at right) has escaped the asylum and blathering to the press about the way in which gay marriage equates to incest and will lead to the legalization of polygamy.  The later, of course, ought to please the Christofascists if they were honest - which they are not - since polygamy is the truest form of "Biblical marriage" and was practiced by many of the pillars of the Old Testament.  Blue Virginia highlights some of Black's crazier remarks: 
While Black said he's worked with [Senator Adam] Ebbin on other issues, he likened same-sex marriage to polygamy and incest.
"I don't think it can really be redefined," said Black about marriage. "I think you can enact legislation that there's marriage that's not based on a normal physical union of two people but you can have people who very much desire to marry a first cousin and government says you can't do that."

Speaking about exclusively supporting marriage between one man and one woman, he later added that "I don't have to justify my position because my position is justified by the entire scope of human history since the beginning of time."

Although Black opposes both same-sex marriage and polygamy, he cast polygamy in a more favorable light than homosexuality.
"When you talk about polygamy, at least it functions biologically. I think you can make a stronger argument for that and certainly there have already been initiatives for there to say that polygamist marriages should be authorized also."

Continuing on polygamy, Black said, "It's just more natural" than homosexuality.
"You actually have cultures over history that have permitted it," said Black. "You really don't have cultures that have permitted same-sex marriage. So this is an extension and I think it would be very difficult over the long run to deny polygamist marriages if you're saying love is the foundation" of same-sex marriages.
Blue Virginia also notes that Black likes talking about spousal rape and "nighties" when he's not telling bizarre, presumably fictional stories about homosexual rape in the military. As have said before, to be a Republican nowadays requires that one be (i) crazy, (ii) a racist, (iii) a homophobe, (iv) anti-woman, or all of the foregoing.


Wednesday Morning Male Beauty

Denver Post Slams Anti-Gay Bakery Owner

This blog has previously noted the ruling against anti-gay bakery owner Jack Phillips whose Masterpiece Cakeshop refused to sell a wedding cake to a gay couple.  The ruling was based on Colorado's public accommodations law that requires commercial enterprises to provide services to all members of the public.  Phillips is whining that his "religious liberty" is being trampled upon.  The Denver Post has piled on and slammed Phillips and by extension other Christofascists who believe that they are above the law.  Here are excerpts from the editorial:

If you're going to sell wedding cakes in Colorado, you have to sell them to everyone who comes into your shop. You can't pick and choose among customers based upon your belief that some weddings are immoral. 

That's the principle that administrative law judge Robert N. Spencer reinforced with his recent ruling that the owner of Masterpiece Cakeshop in Lakewood must sell wedding cakes to gay couples. It's the right call — and not even a close one in our view.

Cake-maker Jack Phillips refused to sell a wedding cake to two gay men in July 2012, and has been arguing since that his religious objection to same-sex marriage provides him with a constitutional exemption to the state's public accommodation law.
But as Judge Spencer explains, our society settled this matter some time ago. If such arguments were correct, Spencer notes, "it would allow a business that served all races to nonetheless refuse to serve an interracial couple because of the business owner's bias against interracial marriage."

Masterpiece Cakeshop is a commercial enterprise, not a religious institution, even if Phillips believes he honors God through his artistic efforts in cake decoration.
It is not unusual for merchants to deal with people whose values or behavior they disapprove of. If you're in business, though, you have a duty to sell your wares to all comers.
Like most selfish, self-centered Christofascist who only feel good about themselves when denigrating others, Phillips is a bigot who wants special rights.  The irony is that the Christofascists claim that gays want special rights yet is they, not gays, who are demanding special rights.