Saturday, December 28, 2013

The LGBT Community's Fair Weather Friends in Hollywood

Cracker Barrel - which, candidly I have never liked - and now A&E have knuckled under to the rants and boycott threats of the white Christofasists who have been "outraged" by A&E's short-lived suspension of gay hater Phil Robertson and falsely claimed that their "religious liberty" and "free speech rights" were under attack.  Meanwhile, of course, it is they who are the victimizers of others.  But that doesn't stop Hollywood from cave in into these purveyors of hate and bigotry.  Not when the targets of such hate are gays or even blacks.  Can one imaging how the Hollywood crowd would have reacted if Robertson's rant had been against Jews and called them Christ killers or some other outrageous bullshit?  Michelangelo Signorile has a justified condemnation of the LGBT community's spineless fair weather friends in Hollywood.  Here are excerpts:

Too many people are dismissing the action of A&E at reinstating Phil Robertson so soon after suspending him from Duck Dynasty. It's just a TV show, they say, and we have all of these wins on marriage equality -- and look at Utah!

But this is not about, "Oh, we're 'winning,' so who cares about Duck Dynasty? As long as our so-called "friends" in Hollywood promote and tolerate this kind of hate for money, we've not won much.

Tomorrow they'll throw an AIDS benefit to assuage their guilt, or come out and say some wonderful things about LGBT people, while making millions of dollars by promoting hate against us, shrouded in religious beliefs, and raising America's kids on hate. And the racism they're promoting with Phil Robertson, who posited that blacks were happier under Jim Crow, while they claim to be so inclusive and anti-racist, is appalling, and shows the height of Hollywood hypocrisy.

Challenging homophobia and racism is not just about "rights" and "winning" in courtrooms and legislatures. It's about what culture promotes and what's acceptable to make money on -- what bigotry is clearly able to be marketed and sold to the masses who've been fed this crap for decades.

Hollywood and it's supposed pro-gay, anti-racist liberals allowed Sarah Palin and the right to give them "free speech" cover -- when we all know this has nothing to do with free speech -- to make millions of dollars off of hate. As blogger Pam Spaulding wrote, the "problem with brushing this DD flap aside as just meaningless, is the fact that corporations, with this quick slap in the face of LGBTs (and black folks) is that it's a recognition of bigots as a demographic that must be catered to. That is no small deal, people."
Search the hate group and white supremacist websites - they are all jumping for joy that they have "won" and that open bigotry is perfectly acceptable.  It's not.  At least not among decent and truly moral people.  And that rules out both the Christofascist/white supremacists and the spineless crowd in Hollywood (which is showing about as much fortitude as the "good Germans" during the 1930's).

Same-Sex Couples Shatter Marriage Records in Utah

Opponents of gay marriage often claim that gays will destroy marriage and even will claim that most gays don't really want marriage.  Locally, many of our friends are traveling to gay friendly states to get married even though Virginia continues to treat gays as less than full citizens, if not less than fully human.  Indeed, it seems that every day or so I hear of more gays and lesbians in Hampton Roads getting married in DC, Maryland or New York.  Meanwhile, in Utah, the recent federal court ruling striking down Utah's gay marriage bans has let loose a veritable torrent of same sex marriages.  The Salt Lake Tribune reports:

In the week since a federal judge overturned Utah’s ban on same-sex marriage, the number of weddings in the state has skyrocketed, shattering records and accruing thousands of dollars for Utah’s 29 counties.

As of close of business Thursday, more than 1,225 marriage licenses had been issued in Utah since last Friday, according to numbers obtained by The Salt Lake Tribune. Of those, at least 74 percent were issued to gay and lesbian couples.

That’s more than 905 same-sex couples who received marriage licenses in a week punctuated by holidays and limited — in some counties — by when their clerk began to adhere to U.S. District Judge Robert J. Shelby’s order.

Salt Lake County had the most marriages in the state this week, which is typical. But the numbers themselves were anything but. 

Shattering a previously held record of 85 marriages in a given day, Salt Lake County handed out 353 on Monday — their first full day of issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples.
Since last Friday, Salt Lake County gave out about 705 certificates, of which more than 90 percent were same-sex couples, said Salt Lake County Clerk Sherrie Swensen . . .

Hopefully, the 10th Circuit will ultimately affirm the District Court ruling and the number of marriages will continue at full speed in the interim. 

Saturday Morning Male Beauty

RenewAmerica: A Sectarian War is Coming

Among the many lunatic far right Christian groups that holds undue influence in the Republican Party is RenewAmerica, which seeks to take America back to "its founding principles" which all too predictably include "biblical principles."  To say that the organization is extreme is an understatement.  Likewise, it should come as no surprise that a common theme on the organization's website is the supposed persecution of godly Christians who, even as they persecute others, always want to play the role of the victim.   Now, a piece on the website is predicting that Christians will have to resort to armed conflict to stop the homosexual agenda, "Barack Obama's morally corrupt federal government" and other things that stand in the way of a Christofascist ruled theocracy.  To say that these folks are nuts is likewise an understatement.  These people pose a clear and present danger to constitutional government and, as blogger friend Bob Felton notes, comes close to sedition.  Here is a sampling of what passes for reasoned argument at RenewAmerica (Note: the pervasive anti-gay thread):
As the Left foams at the mouth over Phil Robertson, the Christian man who described Almighty God's take on homosexuality and other gross sins, their fear is becoming more and more apparent. They seem gradually to be realizing that they are a pernicious minority that only thrives because they are bolstered by Obama's morally corrupt federal government; intellectually lightweight media, devoid of principles; and interestingly, a general decency of American people influenced by the nation's Judeo-Christian roots. 

[S]ome leftists actually think that they can dictate to those of us who oppose their worldview how we should say things that offend them. 

It is also interesting that those who oppose biblical Christianity (and a few who claim that they do not oppose it) have trotted out their list of affirmed homosexuals who proclaim Phil Robertson's right to "his opinion." To any but the scripturally ignorant, Robertson's statements are not "his opinion." He did not inspire the writing of the scriptures that condemn homosexuality; God did. In paraphrasing Scripture, Robertson did not compare homosexuality to bestiality; God did. Robertson's "opinion" is only that he chooses to accept God's directives. What homosexuals and the rest of the Left fail to comprehend is that their ultimate fight is with God, not believing Christians. We just happen to be visible objects to which wrath can be directed.

[T]he biblical truth that the inclination to homosexuality itself is condemned by God. . . . Pope Benedict XVI, who preceded the current Pontiff, described homosexuality as a "disordered orientation," allowing for the fact that the behavior can be "ordered" if the homosexual chooses to seek help, obviously from God and, if necessary, from medical professionals.

Frank Camp, a commentator posting at the Last Resistance blog site (12/23/2013), states that the latest strike by the Left against Christians (in the person of Phil Robertson) is a defining moment in time. He predicts, and I agree, that this moment is only one of many coming in the near future as the agenda of the Left becomes more and more hostile toward "average American values."

Before this nation's founding, a group of pilgrims were able to escape the repression of the Church of England by seeking safe haven in a new territory. There are no more new worlds. There is nowhere else to run, and there will be no coming together in peaceful coexistence. The reason is that Christians are being required to do what we will not and cannot do – defy God for the sake of a corrupt, rotting culture. And not all Christians will passively bow to force.

This space called America cannot be concurrently occupied by the existing opposing worldviews. How this tragedy that is the destruction of America will play out remains to be seen, but I predict that it will not end peacefully.
That's right.  The writer seems to be arguing for armed sedition.  Thus, the actual "pernicious minority" that endangers America is, of course, those crazy enough to subscribe to and support RenewAmerica and insanity such as set out above.  These people are NOT nice and decent people and average Americans need to recognize the danger that they pose.  These are not you church ladies running a bake sale or a clothing drive.

The Virginia GOP Opts to Exclude Moderates

One of the biggest problem facing those in the Republican Party who would like to see the party return to sanity and some semblance of moderation is how to purge the Christofacists and other extremists who have captured the grassroots and central committees of the party like a metastasizing cancer.  Until these people - most of whom deny science and embrace religious extremism and intolerance for those they deem "other" - the insanity of the last few years will continue.  And recent events surrounding the need to select a candidate to succeed retiring GOP Congressman Frank Wolf demonstrate that the swamp fever is still raging.  The Washington Post condemns the Republican plan to once again utilize a convention instead of a primary, thus insuring that the asylum patients will select Wolf's proposed successor.  Here are editorial excerpts:

THE 17 people who control the Republican Party in Northern Virginia’s 10th Congressional District are a cabal of insiders; they make the rules by which the party nominates congressional candidates. In that role, their guiding light appears to be Boss Tweed, Tammany Hall’s major-domo, who said, “As long as I count the votes, what are you going to do about it?”

At the moment, according to GOP sources, the strong likelihood is that the Gang of 17, dominated by conservatives, will opt for a convention next spring, not a primary, to choose a candidate to succeed Rep. Frank R. Wolf, the Republican incumbent who is retiring. A convention would be insular, exclusive and sparsely attended; at a stretch, it might draw 5,000 party activists, mostly hard-core conservatives, who don’t mind sitting through six hours of speeches on a Saturday before casting their votes. A primary, open to all, could attract a more mainstream pool of 25,000 or 30,000 voters.

Despite their limited attendance and poor record of picking winning candidates, conventions have been the nominating method of choice in recent years for Virginia’s GOP. (Democrats have stuck with primaries.) To the conservative clique that has captured the party’s ruling councils, the fact that conventions tend to produce losers — just look at the Republican slate for governor, lieutenant governor and attorney general that was swept in November — seems beside the point. Only ideological purity matters; moderates need not apply.

Evenly divided among Republicans, Democrats and independents, the 10th District seems a particularly bad place to engineer the selection of a hard-line conservative candidate. Yet that’s exactly what the local party bosses have in mind, sources tell us.  

Conventions, which systematically exclude thousands of otherwise willing voters, are un-democratic. . . . . . In Virginia’s modern Republican Party, the deck is stacked against moderates.
The obvious winners in this likely nomination process will be Virginia Democrats who will be much more likely to win the 10th District if a far right nutcase is nominated by the Virginia GOP.    Living in a fantasy world detached from objective reality does have consequences.

Jeff Frederick Proves The Virginia GOP's Ongoing Racism

Despite the blather by some in the Republican Party that the GOP wants to attract non-whites and minorities, the truth is that the GOP, especially in Virginia, remains a white man's club - women are allowed too so long as they "know their place" and are subservient to men, especially in gynecological matters  - and those few blacks that are used for photo ops are the equivalent of the obsequious house servants of the antebellum South.  Lest we forget this reality, former Republican Party of Virginia chairman, Jeff Frederick, sought to remind us with a bust of spittle flecked batshitery in response to an innocuous tweet by the RNC aimed at blacks.  Blue Virginia looks at the brouhaha.  Here are highlights: 

[Jeff] Frederick [former Chairman of the Republican Party of Virginia] is baaack, this time livid that the Republican National Committee (RNC) had the audacity to wish people "Happy Kwanzaa." Admittedly, I find it surprising the RNC would do that, since they're usually all about "War on Christmas" faux outrage, including their principled stance of NOT recognizing others who celebrate non-Christmas holidays this time of year. So it's hilarious to see former RPV chair (and former RNC member) Jeff Frederick going off on the RNC for celebrating a "made up holiday" (after first mocking the RNC, then being accused of racism by a Democrat, who Frederick claims is being a "tool of the hysterical left" - lol). Of course, the fact is that ALL holidays are "made up" by humans, pretty much by definition (e.g., we're humans, we're the ones who come up with culture, religion, custom, whatever). 

As for Kwanzaa, it was created in 1966 "as the first specifically African-American holiday, with the name deriving "from the Swahili phrase matunda ya kwanza, meaning 'first fruits of the harvest.'" What on earth is wrong with that is beyond me, but apparently it set off the former chair of the Virginia Republican Party. From the responses on Twitter, it looks like it set off a bunch of other right-wingnuts as well (e.g., one wrote, "@GOP Kwanza. R U kidding? It was started by a communist convicted felon who beat and tortured women.")

Blue Virginia gets it right: ALL holidays - including Christmas and Easter - are made up by humans.  Moreover, the principal Christian holidays are remade versions of older pagan festivals and holidays that were hijacked by the Roman Catholic Church centuries ago.  Nonetheless, in today's white supremacist leaning Virginia GOP, only white Christian originated holidays count.

Friday, December 27, 2013

Friday Morning Male Beauty

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The Supreme Court's Mistaken Attempt to Dodge Gay Marriage

When the U. S. Supreme Court handed down its rulings in Hollingsworth v. Perry (the Prop 8 case) and United States v. Windsor (the DOMA case), it was trying to dodge the bullet of having to decide the issue of whether or not the equal protection clauses of the 5th and 14th Amendments to the U.S. Constitution require gay marriage nationwide.  Had the Court had a spine, it would have ruled that gay marriage is a fundamental right not to be abridged by the states or the federal government.  In the wake of the striking down of DOMA, we now see the federal government recognizing gay marriages regardless of where the same sex couple resides and the momentum to strike down state bans is growing.  A good overview of the reasoning of the recent Utah ruling which may be hard for the Supreme Court to ignore is here.  A piece in the New York Times looks at the prospects facing the Supreme Court.  Here are excerpts:

In June, when the Supreme Court stopped short of deciding whether the Constitution guaranteed a right to same-sex marriage, many thought the court had bought itself several years before it had to confront the question again. 

But the issue will soon return to the court, with officials in Utah saying that within the next few days they will ask the justices to block a trial judge’s decision last week that allows same-sex couples to marry there. 

“If the court thought it was going to get a few years,” said Michael C. Dorf, a law professor at Cornell, “I think they were naïve.”

[T]he pace of change has been very rapid. When the justices heard arguments in the cases in March, same-sex marriage was permitted in nine states and the District of Columbia. If the Utah decision stands, the number of states allowing such marriages will have doubled, to 18. 

Michael J. Klarman, a historian at Harvard Law School and the author of “From the Closet to the Altar: Courts, Backlash and the Struggle for Same-Sex Marriage,” said he had expected rapid change — but not this rapid.   “The Utah decision is unique,” he added, “because it’s in a state with so much opposition to same-sex marriage. In Utah, you’re going to have a real experiment in backlash.” 

The question for the Supreme Court in the short term will be whether to block Judge Shelby’s ruling while appeals proceed. The state’s request will initially be directed to Justice Sonia Sotomayor, the member of the court responsible for overseeing the Tenth Circuit, but she will almost certainly refer the matter to the full court. It is likely to act within several days. 

The Supreme Court will face difficult calculations, ones it did not have to confront in reviewing decisions from federal courts in California striking down Proposition 8, . . . Professor Dorf said there are probably not five votes on the Supreme Court to block Judge Shelby’s ruling. “On the strictly legal argument,” he said, “it’s hard to justify granting a stay.”

Whatever the Supreme Court does regarding a stay, it is hard to see how it could hear the larger issue in the case in the current term. But a decision in the court’s next term, culminating in a decision in June 2015, is entirely possible. 

In the meantime, Judge Shelby’s decision will certainly get the justices’ attention. He acknowledged, for starters, that the Supreme Court’s 5-to-4 decision striking down part of the Defense of Marriage Act, United States v. Windsor, could be read to support either side in his case.

In Windsor, the two interests — states’ rights and gay rights — pointed in the same direction. They were, Judge Shelby wrote, “allied against the ability of the federal government to disregard a state law that protected individual rights.” “Here,” he continued, “these interests directly oppose each other.” 

To resolve the tension, Judge Shelby looked to Justice Antonin Scalia’s dissenting opinion in Windsor.

“Somewhere between the next two and six years, the court will be ready to do it,” Professor Klarman said, referring to establishing a constitutional right to same-sex marriage, “assuming the composition of the court does not change.” 

As for the pace of change, Professor Dorf said, “it’s faster than the majority in Windsor had expected but not faster than Justice Scalia anticipated.” 

Ultimately, the Court will have to decide if it will uphold gay marriage nationwide or be viewed by future generations akin to the Court in its infamous rulings of the past that upheld slavery and then later the Jim Crow laws.  

Indiana - The Next Gay Marriage Battleground

With all the excitement over recent court rulings in Ohio, New Mexico and Utah it is easy to overlook the coming battle in Indian where the Christofascists and their political prostitutes in the Indiana GOP are finding themselves pitted against the business community (not to mention non-religious extremists) in the battle over passage of an anti-gay state constitutional amendment.  The business community recognizes that making Indiana more anti-gay is not a winning formula for economic prosperity, especially with more and more states providing marriage equality.  An article in the New York Times looks at the battle between the business community and the spittle flecked, knuckle dragging Neanderthals of the GOP base in Indiana.  Here are highlights:

INDIANAPOLIS — Dominated by Republicans and steeped in traditional values, Indiana seemed among the least likely places to become a battleground in the nation’s debate over same-sex marriage when the legislature overwhelmingly chose in 2011 to push forward a state constitutional amendment barring gay couples from marrying.

But in the two years since, the landscape has shifted as voters, lawmakers and courts began recognizing same-sex marriage in places like Maryland, Minnesota, New Jersey and New Mexico and as the United States Supreme Court declared parts of the federal Defense of Marriage Act unconstitutional. In just the past few days, a federal judge struck down a ban on same-sex marriage in Utah, home of the Mormon Church, and a federal appeals court rejected a request to halt the marriages on Tuesday. A federal judge in Ohio found that same-sex marriages should be recognized on death certificates. 

So suddenly Indiana, where lawmakers in the coming weeks are expected to call for the second vote needed to put a ban before voters in the fall elections, is now in a far more tense, unpredictable and closely watched spot than anyone here had imagined — a test case in whether a state will impose new limits on same-sex marriage in this fast-moving political and legal environment.

“What happens in Indiana is critical,” said Brian Brown, president of the National Organization for Marriage,  . . . . Supporters of same-sex marriage, however, are pouring money and effort into defeating the measure in Indiana, a possibility that seemed unthinkable not long ago but one that advocates now insist is conceivable.

As lawmakers prepare to return for a new legislative session in January, it is an especially awkward spot for Republicans, who dominate both chambers of the General Assembly. With an election year ahead and the risk of primaries in May, the issue is pitting socially conservative groups, who are urging a constitutional ban, against sometime allies in the state’s business community, who say a ban could cause Indiana economic harm. 

Few Republicans now seem eager to talk about the issue, and some legislative aides said it was not entirely certain who would formally file the legislation in January.

To hear some Democrats tell it, many Republicans here would just as soon see the issue fade away, as they ponder navigating between socially conservative primary voters and a broader array of voters in a general election. 

“The tables have turned on this issue, and the Republican members are at a loss about what to do about it,” said Representative Scott Pelath, the House minority leader. “They’re quaking in their boots about what will happen if they don’t pass this thing. But they’re fearful about what will happen down the road if they do.”

Complicating matters is the language of the proposed amendment itself, which opponents say goes beyond banning marriage to threatening all legal arrangements allowing rights to same-sex couples. In addition to defining marriage as between a man and a woman, Indiana’s amendment says, “A legal status identical or substantially similar to that of marriage for unmarried individuals shall not be valid or recognized.” 

On the ground here, the fight is already fierce. More than 30 paid field workers from Freedom Indiana, an anti-ban campaign supported in part by business interests like Eli Lilly and Company and Cummins Inc., are pressing voters to contact their lawmakers, even as conservative groups have issued leaflets aimed at churchgoers.

[N]o one on either side can be certain what Indiana voters would do. While constitutional bans easily passed in many states years ago, public opinion has shifted.

Here, polling on the issue is mixed. At least one recent poll, a WISH-TV/Ball State Hoosier Survey, suggested that 58 percent of state residents polled were opposed to the idea of amending the Indiana Constitution but that people were nearly equally split on whether to legalize same-sex marriage. 
 Ultimately,if the Indiana GOP passes the measure this year, the voters in Indiana will have to decide between (i) modernity and equality under the U.S. Constitution or (ii) religious based bigotry and the embrace of hate and bigotry.  Should they choose the latter, it will not enhance the states image in the business community and in the eyes of large progressive corporations.

A GOP in Disarray?

As much as I hold today's GOP in contempt, the party has come back somewhat in generic polling after the debacle of the government shut own.  And the rocky roll out of the implementation of the Affordable Health Care Act has certainly given the GOP some legitimate basis for criticism of Barack Obama. Criticism that resonates with those unwilling or too stupid to understand that they are already paying for the uninsured through sky high medical costs that are grossly inflated to recapture all the write offs for treatment of the uninsured that hospitals and other providers must endure.    Despite this toe hold, the GOP lacks a unified message and intra-party warfare remains the norm.  A column in the Washington Post looks at this continued disarray.  Here are excerpts:

If only the GOP had a message.  There is one proposition on which the party’s warring factions agree: “We don’t like Obama’s Affordable Care Act.” But there is a lack of consensus, to put it mildly, on how this visceral dislike of a president and his signature policy initiative should translate into concrete political action.

For Republicans — to invert a classic George W. Bush bon mot — Obamacare has somehow become a divider, not a uniter. In a year when the GOP may have a legitimate chance of capturing the Senate, several primary contests appear likely to devolve into bloody battles over Obama’s health-care reforms — not whether to oppose them, but how.

In Georgia, for example, one of the leading candidates to replace retiring Sen. Saxby Chambliss is Rep. Jack Kingston. He has voted repeatedly — and fruitlessly — with his House Republican colleagues to defund the Affordable Care Act. But when he suggested recently that to “just step back and let this thing fall to pieces on its own” was not “the responsible thing to do,” opponents quickly attacked Kingston as some kind of quisling who was waving a flag of surrender.

Republicans are going to have to decide whether to collaborate in making the Affordable Care Act work better — or risk being seen as working against the nation’s best interests.

On a range of issues, this is the party’s essential dilemma. Ideologues want to continue the practice of massive, uncompromising resistance to anything Obama tries to accomplish. Pragmatists want the GOP to demonstrate that it can be reasonable and trustworthy, on the theory that voters want their government to function well and won’t put a bunch of anti-government extremists in charge of running it.

The question of how the GOP should proceed really should be a no-brainer. But after cynically taking advantage of the huge jolt of energy provided by tea party activists, the Republican establishment is finding that these true believers don’t necessarily listen when they’re told to go sit in a corner and shut up.

The no-compromises GOP base is fertile fundraising territory for potential presidential candidates, such as Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, and for pressure groups such as Heritage Action and the Club for Growth. So these provocateurs can be counted on to keep far-right anger and resentment at a rolling boil — and resist the establishment’s attempt to lower the temperature.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is expected to spend up to $50 million to ensure that the Republican Party chooses no extremist “loser candidates” for Senate races. As Scott Reed, the chamber’s chief political strategist, told the Wall Street Journal: “That will be our mantra: No fools on our ticket.”  Wanna bet?

The reality, the Frankenstein monster in the form of the Christofascists/Tea Party base remains impossible to control.  Sadly, the GOP establishment did not think trough the long term consequences of surrendering the party grassroots to those who extol ignorance and are most motivated by racism and religious extremism.  The monster will prove difficult to kill. 

Thursday, December 26, 2013

More Thursday Male Beauty

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Strange Bedfellows: American Christofascists and Vladimir Putin

It is amazing how hatred of others - gays in particular - can make those one would never at first blush expect to get along (much less lavish praise).  Who would have expected American Christofascists to be having a love affair with Vladimir Putin, a former KGB officer and a near dictator.  But that is precisely what seems to be occurring as Pat Buchanan - a man who is both a racist and a homophobe - praising Putin because Putin is demonizing gays and giving a tacit nod to violence against gays.  A column in the Washington Post looks at the phenomenon.  Here are column excerpts:

Just in time for Christmas, Pat Buchanan has come along to alert us to the shifting alliances in the conflict between tradition and modernity. While Buchanan’s pugnacity in the culture wars has long since ceased to be news, his latest entry is jaw-dropping nonetheless. Writing last week on a right-wing Web site , he announced he’d found a new star in the paleoconservative firmament: Vladimir Putin. 

In the article “Is Putin One of Us?,” Buchanan noted that while a “de-Christianized” United States has been embracing “homosexual marriage, pornography, promiscuity, and the whole panoply of Hollywood values,” Putin has stood up for the old-time virtues. Indeed, Putin sounds increasingly like Buchanan himself. Tolerance for gay sex, Putin has said, is an “acknowledgement of the equality of good and evil.” This “so-called tolerance,” he continues, “is genderless and infertile.”

Buchanan wasn’t content just to acclaim Putin for his “moral clarity.” In embracing Putin, he suggested that a new global conservative bloc may be, and certainly should be, forming. Though many Americans are “still caught up in a Cold War paradigm,” he wrote, “the 21st century struggle may be horizontal, with conservatives and traditionalists in every country arrayed against the militant secularism of a multicultural and transnational elite.”

Buchanan has come full circle. Raised in a household marked by fervent support for fascist Francisco Franco in his war against the secular democratic government of Spain, he has turned in his 75th year to the anti-Western authoritarian leader of Russia. The moral arc of Buchanan’s universe may be long, but it keeps plopping him down in the company of thugs.

It’s not Buchanan’s trajectory that’s of interest here, however. It’s his argument that the American Cultural Right should make common cause with enemies of the Enlightenment wherever they may be. 

Buchanan’s epiphany that his brand of nationalism and religious orthodoxy has believers the world over is surely right — but can he convince his permanently enraged American acolytes that some of the people they most fear and despise are actually the people they should be hailing as their comrades?

If it comes down to a fight between democracy and religious orthodoxy, as was true in Franco’s day, so is it true in Putin’s: Orthodoxy must prevail.  The Intolerant International. Bigots of the world, unite.
The swamp fever of the far right obviously is continuing to fester.

Poll: Strong Public Support For Extending Unemployment Benefits

Whike the Republican Party continues its war on the poorest Americans, a new poll finds that contrary to the GOP sound bites, a new National Employment Law Project (NELP) poll finds that 55 percent of Americans believe the emergency unemployment Compensation program should be extended.  In fact, only 34% of Americans - a percentage that roughly corresponds with the percentage of Americans who identify as "born again" Christians - oppose extending the program.  Think Progress looks at the findings and the fact that, unlike today's GOP, most Americans are not ready to throw their fellow citizens on the trash heap.  Here are article highlights:

A majority of Americans believe Congress should restore the federal unemployment insurance program that it allowed to expire in the recent budget deal, according to a new poll. The details of the survey further suggest that voters stand ready to punish lawmakers who block an extension — something several Republicans have indicated they are prepared to do.

Overall, 55 percent of Americans believe the Emergency Unemployment Compensation (EUC) program should be extended compared to 34 percent who say it should end, the Hart Research Associates poll found. Among women, 61 percent approve of the program and just 28 percent believe it should cease.
The findings reinforce a Public Policy Polling release from earlier this week which looked at specific House districts held by Republican members. That poll found over 60 percent support for extending EUC in five Republican districts including Speaker John Boehner’s southwestern Ohio seat.

EUC expires on Saturday. For 1.3 million current recipients who have been looking for work for longer than the 26 weeks for which most states will provide unemployment benefits, that will mean their lifeline evaporates immediately. Another 800,000 job-seekers are projected to exhaust their state benefits and turn to the federal EUC program over the next three months. Thanks to multiplier effects, the cancelled benefits will also lead indirectly to almost a quarter-million layoffs for people who are currently working. That’s nearly 2.4 million people harmed in the coming months by the expiration of EUC.

Thursday Morning Male Beauty

Washington Post: More Hard Work and Advances in Gay Marriage Needed

With numerous lawsuits pending in multiple states seeking to strike down gay marriage bans - two such suits are pending in Virginia - the Washington Post editorial board weighs in arguing that more advances are needed.  The editorial notes that further progress cannot be taken for granted - a very true statement given the hate and animus that motivates the Christofascist base of the Republican Party that continues to demand GOP support for every law and constitutional amendment that demeans gays and reduces us to a lesser level of citizenship.  Here are editorial highlights:

ONLY A DECADE ago, the events of recent days would have been unimaginable. President Obama announced that, instead of attending the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, he would send an official delegation that will conspicuously include openly gay U.S. athletes — a clear protest of Russian discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people. New Mexico’s Supreme Court declared the state’s prohibition of same-sex unions unconstitutional. Then a federal judge threw out Utah’s same-sex marriage ban.

We are coming to the end of a second banner year for gay and lesbian equality. Indeed, after the heady victories of 2012 and 2013, continuing progress might seem as inevitable as it did impossible a few years ago. But further progress can’t be taken for granted. LGBT people, and their friends and loved ones, are reaping the rewards of decades of hard work in the face of persistent discrimination. The need for such hard work isn’t over.

In June, the Supreme Court struck down the most odious parts of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which barred federal benefits to same-sex couples, and the justices ruled against Proposition 8, which had banned same-sex unions in California. The court did not proclaim same-sex marriage to be a constitutional right. But its decisions have informed many other legal proceedings that will likely bring the question before the court again in a couple of years. The Utah case is one of those. Encouraged by the Supreme Court rulings, meanwhile, more and more state and local officials are arguing that same-sex marriage restrictions in their jurisdictions violate the federal Constitution.

Yet, save the late addition of Utah, where the fate of the judicial decree remains uncertain, every state in which same-sex marriage or civil unions are legal voted for President Obama in the past two elections. That’s also true of most of the states on gay rights campaigners’ target lists for the next few years.

In other words, it’s still unclear whether the wave of equality that has swept from state to state over the past two years is national or regional, bound to crash ineffectually on more conservative parts of the country. The Supreme Court stopped short of declaring same-sex marriage a constitutional right — which is the logical and moral outcome — in large part because a more ambitious ruling might provoke a nasty and counterproductive backlash.

Meanwhile, Congress has yet to guarantee workplace equality. And countries from Russia to Uganda to India to Australia went backward in their stances on gay rights this year. 

We should celebrate that millions of Americans, including President Obama, are “evolving” on this issue. But further progress can’t be assumed. In 2014, as in every prior year, the fight for equality will take hard organizing and patient persuasion.

Utah Gay Marriage Battle Faces Long-Shot Chance Of Reaching Supreme Court

The state of Utah has been rebuffed four times in seeking to secure a stay of the U.S. District Court ruling that set off a marathon of gay marriages in that state.  Both the District Court and the 10th Circuit have flatly said no to motions by the Governor of Utah and the state Attorney General.  Some legal scholars believe it is unlikely that the U. S. Supreme Court will get involved and grant a stay as the case moves up to a full appeal at the 10th Circuit.  A piece in Huffington Post looks at the ongoing story.  Here are highlights:

A federal appeals court has refused yet again to stop gay marriage in Utah, making it more likely that same-sex weddings in the home of the Mormon church are here to stay for the immediate future.

The 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals' rejection of Utah's request for an emergency order to put gay marriage on hold marked yet another legal setback for the state. Utah lawyers have repeatedly struck out in their bid to block gay marriage, getting rejected on four occasions in recent days.

Utah's last chance to temporarily stop the marriages would be a long-shot request before U.S. Supreme Court. That's what the Utah attorney general's office is prepared to do, spokesman Ryan Bruckman said. Gov. Gary Herbert's office declined to comment on the decision.

Carl Tobias, a constitutional law professor at Virginia's University of Richmond who has tracked legal battles for gay marriage, said he expects the U.S. Supreme Court to make a decision by Friday. He thinks Utah faces long odds to get their stay granted, considering two courts have already rejected it and marriages have been going on for days now.  "The longer this goes on, the less likely it becomes that any court is going to entertain a stay," Tobias said.

About 700 gay couples have obtained licenses since Friday, with most of the activity in Salt Lake City.

The frenzy has put Utah at the center of the national debate on gay marriage given the state's long-standing opposition to same-sex weddings and its position as headquarters for the Mormon church. It made Utah the 18th state where gay couples can wed or will soon be able to marry.

The appeals court said in its short ruling Tuesday that a decision to put gay marriage on hold was not warranted, but said it put the case on the fast track for a full appeal of the ruling.

The Utah attorney general's office warned counties they could be held in contempt of federal court if they refuse to issue the licenses.  In the meantime, state agencies have begun trying to sort out how the gay marriages may affect state services.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

More Christmas Male Beauty

Liberty University Law Dean: Marriage Equality Will Turn Everyone Gay

I swear, I truly wonder at times what kind of mental illness afflicts the far right Christian crowd.  At times, their insanity defies belief.  A case in point" Matt Staver, a homophobe extraordinaire who is the dean of Liberty University's law school which is both a blight on Virginia and the legal profession.  Staver as some readers may recall may have been involved - although he claims ignorance - in the international kidnapping scheme that centered on Lisa Miller who claimed she had become "ex-gay." Before her flight to Central America, Miller had found aid and comfort in Lynchburg, Virginia from folks at Liberty University and the late Jerry Falwell's Thomas Street Baptist Church.  Staver's latest batshitery involves his claims that marriage equality may turn everyone gay.  He also resorts to the lie of depicting gays as disease ridden and would be pedophiles.  Meanwhile, of course, it is heterosexual males like Staver who are the most likely pedophiles.   Right Wing Watch looks at Staver's insanity.  Here are highlights:

Liberty Counsel head Mat Staver is warning that with full marriage equality, everyone may decide to marry someone of the same sex and society could “cease to exist” altogether. While speaking to Vic Eliason of VCY America last week, Staver said that if gay marriage becomes legal nationwide then the country could become a childless, disease-ridden dystopia.
If you ultimately promoted same-sex marriage and everyone started to go towards same-sex marriage, what would happen to society? It would just simply cease to exist. Moreover, you’d have rampant increase in diseases. Already, you have rampant increase in diseases among same-sex activities, specifically men having sex with men. Same-sex marriage, same-sex relationships is destructive to individuals and it’s destructive to our very social fabric.

He later claimed that the expansion of gay rights is encouraging pedophilia and that the media “promotes” bestiality by making sex with animals seem like “a funny thing.” “That’s how this whole homosexuality began to happen on TV,” Staver said.

Staver went on to praise India’s Supreme Court for recriminalizing homosexuality and Russian president Vladimir Putin for “defending traditional marriage and criticizing President Obama.”

Of course, Staver is being dishonest: Obama actually canceled a September summit with Putin over the Edward Snowden asylum controversy. Further, Putin isn’t facing criticism because he “believes in marriage as one man and one woman,” but because his government is leading a crackdown on Russia’s gay community and rolling back the free speech rights. 
Staver clearly ranks among those for whom the safest assumption should always be that if his lips are moving, he's lying.   It's frightening that Staver isn't in an asylum much less that he's the dean of a supposed law school.  One has to wonder when Liberty University will open a "medical school" granting degrees in witch doctor cures and remedies.

Liberty Counsel head Mat Staver is warning that with full marriage equality, everyone may decide to marry someone of the same sex and society could “cease to exist” altogether. While speaking to Vic Eliason of VCY America last week, Staver said that if gay marriage becomes legal nationwide then the country could become a childless, disease-ridden dystopia - See more at:

British War Hero Alan Turing Belated Pardoned for Being Gay

I guess it is better late than never, but the fact that Alan Turing, the inventor of the computer and breaker of the Nazi enigma code, was driven to suicide (or murdered as some have speculated)  in 1954 and has only now been pardoned for his criminal conviction for being gay, speaks to the sad status many gays wrongly prosecuted suffered.  Turing's life was but one of many ruined and destroyed by the improper privilege given to hate and fear based forms of Christianity.  A piece in the Washington Post looks at Turing's brilliance as well as his far too late posthumous pardon.  Here are story excerpts:

Alan Turing was one of the greatest minds of the 20th century. He laid the theoretical foundations for computer science, and his code-breaking efforts during World War II greatly aided the Allies's effort to defeat Adolf Hitler.

But Turing, a gay man, had the misfortune to live in an intolerant era. In 1952, he was prosecuted for "gross indecency" for having a sexual relationship with another man. He lost his security clearance and was forced to take hormone treatments. Two years later, he was found dead of cyanide poisoning. His death was ruled a suicide.

Now, the BBC reports, the computing pioneer has finally received a pardon from Queen Elizabeth. It only took the British government 61 years to recognize its mistake. Hopefully, it won't take the British government long to acknowledge that other gay men prosecuted under the same law also suffered an injustice.

There was no subject called computer science when Turing began his work in the 1930s, so he set to work laying its foundations. He first described what came to be called the Turing Machine in a famous 1936 paper. The Turing Machine consisted of a paper tape with characters written on it and a "head" that could read and alter the tape, one character at a time.

The Turing Machine was a thought experiment, not a practical computing device. But Turing used it to prove some of the fundamental theorems of computer science. He showed that given enough time and paper tape, the Turing Machine could perform every calculation that can be performed by any other sequential computing device, including those that would be invented far in the future.

Today these fundamental insights about the nature of computation are taught in computer science departments around the world.

When the war came, Turing threw his considerable genius into defeating the Nazis. Turing was a key figure at Bletchley Park, Britain's wartime code-breaking lab. The Nazis used a sophisticated mechanical cipher machine called the Enigma to send coded messages. Turing and his colleagues at Bletchley Park built some of the most sophisticated mechanical computing devices yet seen to help break the Enigma code. And they succeeded, giving the Allies priceless intelligence about Germany's war plans.

Some gay-rights advocates fault the British government for waiting so long to acknowledge the injustice it perpetrated against Turing 61 years ago. More importantly, they say, thousands of other British men were also prosecuted under the "gross indecency" statute, and some are still alive today. They hope that Turing's pardon will be the first step toward a pardon for all gay men who were prosecuted under Britain's homophobic laws.

Hate, bigotry, the rejection of science and knowledge and a trail of ruined lives - these are the main fruits of conservative Christianity.

Pope Francis’ Economic Ideas Rattle the GOP

As noted before, the far right - most of whom falsely claim to worship Christian values - and their minions in the Republican Party are REALLY unhappy with Pope Francis and his views of economic views pertaining to economic opportunity, wealthy inequities and vulture capitalism.  Rush Limbaugh, the veritable pope of the GOP has attacked Pope Francis as a communist and subversive.  The reality, of course, is that Francis is adhering to the true message of Christ in his remarks, so ultimately the far right and the GOP are attacking Christ and his message.  Their hypocrisy is complete and shameless.  Politico looks at the GOP's displeasure with Francis for calling out rapacious capitalism, the economic agenda favored by the GOP.  Here are highlights:

He draws crowds like a rock star, was named “Person of the Year” by Time as well as a gay rights magazine, and drew the ire of Rush Limbaugh for his criticism of “trickle-down” economics. Pope Francis has dramatically shifted the message and tone of the Vatican in the last nine months, and he’s forcing Republicans in Washington to reassess their relationship with the Catholic church.

For years, Catholic leaders’ staunch and very public opposition to abortion, gay marriage and the contraception-related provisions of Obamacare made them natural allies for the GOP. But Francis has scrambled the equation by de-emphasizing hot-button social issues, warning against unchecked capitalism and pushing a populist message at odds with the core of the anti-spending, anti-big government Republican Party.
Last month, Francis blasted “trickle-down” economics as an “opinion, which has never been confirmed by the facts, [that] expresses a crude and naïve trust in the goodness of those wielding economic power.” He also criticized the “idolatry of money” and unbridled capitalism as “a new tyranny.”

Conservative radio host Limbaugh slammed the comments as “pure Marxism” and other commentators on the right also vehemently disagreed with the pope’s message. One derided Francis as the “Catholic Church’s Obama.”

Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.), who grew up attending Catholic school and graduated from the University of Notre Dame’s law school, told POLITICO that he disagreed with the pope’s economic message. He considers the phrase “trickle-down” to be a “pejorative” term, “like some liberal speechwriter stuck it in.”
His inclusive outlook may have played a role in his decision to remove Cardinal Raymond Burke from the Congregation for Bishops, an influential Vatican organization. Burke, an outspoken conservative, in 2004 signaled he would deny communion to John Kerry, a Catholic running for president at the time, because of his support for abortion rights.
For Democrats, Francis has been a gift. Just as the liberal base and President Barack Obama have begun talking more about income inequality, along comes the pope to boost their cause.  “I love this pope,” said Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.). “Jesus focused so much on helping the poor and the downtrodden and the least among us. And I think his refocusing on that, to me, has been a breath of fresh air.”

Former Rep. Patrick Murphy of Pennsylvania said Francis is a “game-changer” for “social justice Democrats.” He sees opportunities for the pope’s message to play out during budget battles and fights over unemployment benefits and other social programs.

Gillis said he doesn’t expect Francis to encourage bishops to weigh in as vocally as they have in the past on sensitive social issues, though he noted they will still likely speak out.  For some lawmakers, the pope’s influence has gone beyond policy and politics and into the personal. McCaskill, for instance, said some of her children are now considering going back to the church.
Until there is substantive change in Catholic Church doctrine, I for one will not be rushing back to Catholicism.  That said, I do think it wonderful that Francis' statements on the poor and unrestrained capitalism are highlighting the dishonesty and hypocrisy of the Christofascists and their political whores in the GOP.  

Today's GOP: Slouching Toward Theocracy

A post yesterday looked at how the Republican Party has become "the White Man's Party" starting with the conscious designs of Barry Goldwater and Richard Nixon.  Since that time, the racism of the GOP base has become ever more blatant.  But going hand in glove with this rise of racism in the GOP has been the rise of the Christofascists within the GOP exemplified by the roles played nowadays by hate group leader Tony Perkins who helped author the GOP 2012 platform and gay haters like Richard Land of the Southern Baptist Convention.  During my years as a GOP activist, I saw these twin cancers of racism and theocracy growing steadily until I could no longer in good conscience remain a Republican.  Most of my extended family ultimately left the GOP for the same moral reasons.  A piece from last year in Salon written by a Republican looks at the GOP's sickening slide toward theocracy.  Note how the Tea Party and the Christofascists overlap.  Here are article excerpts:

I have come to the conclusion that the rise of politicized religious fundamentalism may have been the key ingredient in the transformation of the Republican Party. Politicized religion provides a substrate of beliefs that rationalizes—at least in the minds of its followers—all three of the GOP’s main tenets: wealth worship, war worship, and the permanent culture war.

Religious cranks ceased to be a minor public nuisance in this country beginning in the 1970s and grew into a major element of the Republican rank and file. Pat Robertson’s strong showing in the 1988 Iowa presidential caucus signaled the gradual merger of politics and religion in the party. Unfortunately, at the time I mostly underestimated the implications of what I was seeing.  . . . .
I did not yet see that ideological impulses far different from mine were poised to capture the party of Lincoln.

The results of this takeover are all around us: If the American people poll more like Iranians or Nigerians than Europeans or Canadians on questions of evolution, scriptural inerrancy, the presence of angels and demons, and so forth, it is due to the rise of the religious right, its insertion into the public sphere by the Republican Party, and the consequent normalizing of formerly reactionary beliefs. All around us now is a prevailing anti-intellectualism and hostility to science. Politicized religion is the sheet anchor of the dreary forty-year-old culture wars.

The Constitution notwithstanding, there is now a de facto religious test for the presidency: Major candidates are encouraged (or coerced) to share their feelings about their faith in a revelatory speech, or a televangelist like Rick Warren will dragoon the candidates (as he did with Obama and McCain in 2008) to debate the finer points of Christology, offering himself as the final arbiter. Half a century after John F. Kennedy put to rest the question of whether a candidate of a minority denomination could be president, the Republican Party has reignited the kinds of seventeenth-century religious controversies that advanced democracies are supposed to have outgrown.

The religious right’s professed insistence upon “family values” might appear at first blush to be at odds with the anything but saintly personal behavior of many of its leading proponents. . . . . the inclination of some religious adherents to believe that once they had been “saved,” not only would all past sins be wiped away, but future ones, too—so one could pretty much behave as before. Cheap grace is a divine get- out-of-jail-free card. Hence the tendency of the religious base of the Republican Party to cut some slack for the peccadilloes of candidates who claim to have been washed in the blood of the Lamb and reborn to a new and more Christian life. The religious right is willing to overlook a politician’s individual foibles, no matter how poor an example he or she may make, if they publicly identify with fundamentalist values.

Some liberal writers have opined that the socioeconomic gulf separating the business wing of the GOP and the religious right make it an unstable coalition that could crack. I am not so sure. There is no basic disagreement on which direction the two factions want to take the country, merely how far it should go. The plutocrats would drag us back to the Gilded Age; the theocrats to the Salem witch trials. If anything, the two groups are increasingly beginning to resemble each other. Many televangelists have espoused what has come to be known as the prosperity gospel—the health-and- wealth/name-it-and-claim-it gospel of economic entitlement. If you are wealthy, it is a sign of God’s favor. If not, too bad!

The Tea Party, which initially described itself as wholly concerned with debt, deficit, and federal overreach, gradually unmasked itself as being almost as theocratic as the activists from the religious right. . . .  According to an academic study of the Tea Party, “[T]hey seek ‘deeply religious’ elected officials, approve of religious leaders’ engaging in politics and want religion brought into political debates.” The Tea Party faithful are not so much libertarian as authoritarian, the furthest thing from a “live free or die” constitutionalist.

According to a 2010 Gallup poll, eight in ten Tea Party members identify themselves as Republicans. Another study found that over half identified as members of the religious right and 55 percent of Tea Partiers agree that “America has always been and is currently a Christian nation”—6 points more than even the percentage of self-described Christian conservatives who would agree to that.

Bachmann, Rick Perry, and numerous other serving representatives and senators have all had ties to Christian Dominionism, a doctrine proclaiming that Christians are destined to dominate American politics and establish a new imperium resembling theocratic government. According to one profile of Perry, adherents of Dominionism “believe Christians—certain Christians—are destined to not just take ‘dominion’ over government, but stealthily climb to the commanding heights of what they term the ‘Seven Mountains’ of society, including the media and the arts and entertainment world.” Note the qualifier: “stealthily.”
You get the drift - and it's frightening.