Saturday, April 19, 2014
As most readers will recall, last December a federal district court struck down Utah's ban on same sex marriages. The posture of the case was that the plaintiffs sued the Governor, Attorney General and the Salt Lake County Clerk - who was responsible for issuing marriage licenses as the defendants. On appeal, the County Clerk did not appeal the district court ruling. Now, based on questions raised during oral argument before the 10th Circuit, anti-gay forces in Utah are worried that the 10th Circuit may dismiss the appeal for lack of standing - i.e., the absence of the County Clerk as an appellant. Obviously, the irony would be ever so sweet if the appeal was dismissed and the lower court ruling was left standing. Here are highlights from the Salt Lake Tribune:
There’s a small concern lurking beneath the surface in Utah’s same-sex marriage case, a quiet question that some experts say could derail the state’s push to permanently ban gay and lesbian unions.Although few believe it poses a serious threat to the case’s trajectory — likely headed to the U.S. Supreme Court by summer — the question persists: Could Kitchen v. Herbert be thrown out on a technicality?On Tuesday, Utah’s lead counsel Gene C. Schaerr drew attention to a question posed to both sides by a three-judge panel at the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals last week regarding whether the lawsuit targeted the appropriate state and county officials.In the Utah lawsuit, the three couple plaintiffs represented by Peggy A. Tomsic and James E. Magleby named the governor, the attorney general and the Salt Lake County clerk in the case.They allege these three officials are responsible for same-sex couples being denied marriage licenses and for out-of-state marriages remaining unrecognized in Utah.Why would Utah’s lead attorney be volunteering to the court that the governor and attorney general are, in fact, the proper people to sue? If the court finds that they’re not, the appellate judges may decline to rule in the case, leaving Judge Robert J. Shelby’s ruling to stand as law in Utah.During Utah’s arguments last week, Judge Jerome A. Holmes — widely considered to be the "vote to get" in the case — asked Tomsic to explain why the defendants her plaintiffs had singled out were appropriate.Further, he asked whether the state continued to have the right to appeal the case, given that Salt Lake County Clerk Sherrie Swensen declined to appeal Judge Shelby’s Dec. 20 decision to overturn Utah’s same-sex marriage ban."You sued the clerk of court," Holmes said, referring to Swensen. "But the clerk of court is not on the appeal, and, it would seem to me that creates a fundamental basis for concern about where jurisdiction lies in this case. "It is not known when this decision may be issued, though experts estimate it could take anywhere from one to three months.Should the court rule on the merits of the case and side with — or oppose —the lower court’s decision, its ruling would effectually extend to all states in the 10th Circuit, including Colorado, Kansas, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Utah and Wyoming.
When I was relatively new to blogging I was lucky enough to be invited to the LGBT Blogger Summit orchestrated by Mike Rogers and underwritten in part by Progressive Insurance and Microsoft. Among the bloggers I got to meet was Irene Moore, an ordained minister and someone who resisted the anti-gay message so often associated with American Christianity. As a woman, she also found the patriarchal structure of Christian churches less than appealing, not to mention inconsistent with the true history of early Christianity before that history was rewritten to fit the agenda of those seeking power over and control of the Church's message. Irene has an interesting piece in the San Diego Gay & Lesbian News that uses the recent stories on the apparent antiquity of the so-called "Gospel of Jesus' Wife" to review the Church's historic problem Jesus' sexuality. Here are some highlights:
While many biblical scholars have ignored non-canonical texts like the gnostic and apocryphal gospels that suggested Jesus had a wife, they are now not ignoring the 2012 discovery of a faded fragment of papyrus that suggest he did.I am in agreement with Irene. Like so much else in the Bible, the true story - if Jesus really existed - was revised and modified to meet the needs of fallible men who were motivated by a desire for power and most importantly control over others.
According to this month's New York Times article, "Papyrus Referring to Jesus' Wife Is More Likely Ancient Than Fake, Scientists Say" the papyrus is now known as the "Gospel of Jesus's wife."
This discovery, however, disrupts the Christian church’s depiction of Jesus for many reasons. The Church doesn't want to say that Jesus had a wife because his evangelizing with 12 disciples clearly points to the fact that he wasn't a family man.
Also, the Church doesn't want to accept that Jesus might have been married to Mary Magdalene -- the second most important woman in the New Testament Scriptures after Mary, the mother of Jesus -- because the misogyny written in the patriarchal narratives of Jesus's ministry cast her as a whore.
New evidence suggests that Mary Magdalene may have been one of Jesus's disciples, may have bankrolled his ministry, may possibly have been his wife, and that Mary Magdalene was clearly Jesus's go-to-girl for a lot of things.
This discovery, also, reopens the “down-low” secret about Jesus’ sexuality that not only attacks the pillars of Christianity, but also profoundly plays into the oppression that women as well as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) people face today in both church and society.
And that open secret about Jesus’ sexuality — suggesting that he was gay or married, not that the two are mutually exclusive if Jesus was on the “down low” — points to the cultural war issues we are wrestling with today, namely the institution of marriage, women in the church, and gay clergy.
However, the debate about Jesus’ sexuality takes him from his mother’s womb to his tomb. The Christian depiction of Jesus as that of a life-long virgin who had no sexual desire and who never engaged in sexual intercourse raises anyone’s suspicion, because by today’s sexual standards, Jesus’ homosocial environment of 12 men suggests, according to the law of averages, that at least one out of the bunch was gay.
Given the nature of compulsory heterosexuality playing in Jewish marital laws during Jesus’ time, Jesus might have been forced to be on the “down low” -- if gay.
Encrypted in Leonardo Da Vinci’s 1498 painting “The Last Supper” is a spiritual and sensual narrative about both the sacred feminine and homoeroticism found in religious life.
And while many Christian fundamentalists and evangelicals find Da Vinci’s sensuous painting blasphemous, Da Vinci’s gay male homoerotic subtext pries open the door to the alluring quality about the Roman Catholic Church that gay men find both rabidly homophobic and ravenously homoerotic.
It is unlikely, given Jewish marital customs, that Jesus was not married, and he probably was assigned a wife long before he became an itinerant preacher and met up with male and female disciples on the road.
I refuse to believe that an itinerant rabbi with a gang of 12 horny men, they were virgins, celibate and not married.
- See more at: http://sdgln.com/commentary/2014/04/18/down-low-sex-life-jesus-comes-light#sthash.FOvFWaGS.dpuf
I refuse to believe that an itinerant rabbi with a gang of 12 horny men, they were virgins, celibate and not married.
- See more at: http://sdgln.com/commentary/2014/04/18/down-low-sex-life-jesus-comes-light#sthash.FOvFWaGS.dpuf
The November elections are still more than six months away - an eternity in politics - and the playing field may be shifting more than some seem to realize when it comes to the Affordable Health Care Act, derisively known as Obamacare amongst those in the GOP who want to restore the Gilded Age and throw a majority of average Americans on the trash heap. Ironically, many in the base of the GOP are too stupid to understand that folks like the Koch brothers have then targeted for the trash heap as well. Despite the AHCA, America's healthcare system remains in crisis and, in my view, the only real solution is a national health care system that would put voracious health insurance companies out of business and force real reform in how medical care is delivered. An editorial in the New York Times argues that instead of fleeing from the AHCA, Democrats need to campaign on it and healthcare reform. Here are column excepts:
The Republican attack machine, fueled by millions of dollars from the Koch brothers, has Democrats so rattled about the health reform law that many don’t want to talk about it. They’re happy to run on equal pay for women, or a higher minimum wage, or immigration reform — all of which provide important contrasts with a do-nothing Republican Party — but they haven’t said much about the biggest social accomplishment of the Obama administration.On Thursday, President Obama had a suggestion for them: How about standing up for the Affordable Care Act? Democrats, he said at a news conference, “should forcefully defend and be proud of the fact that millions of people” have been helped by the law — people who now have health insurance for the first time, or were not kicked off a policy when they got sick, or who can now leave a job without fear of being uninsured. “I don’t think we should apologize for it, and I don’t think we should be defensive about it,” he said. “I think there is a strong, good, right story to tell.”Not only are the overall numbers strong, but a substantial portion of the sign-ups — 28 percent, so far — are between the ages of 18 and 34, a sign that healthy people are joining the system, which will help keep premiums affordable. That number should ideally be a little higher, but it is an unmistakable refutation of the predictions of failure from health care reform’s opponents.That’s exactly the right tone to take, and the White House itself has been slow to take it, uncertain until a few weeks ago whether the law’s most basic goals would be met. Now that the law is proving to be even more successful than expected, it’s time for Democratic congressional candidates to remind voters what government can accomplish.They can point out, as Mr. Obama did, that House Republicans have taken many votes to repeal the health law — and yet they have not voted on a single measure that would put people back to work rebuilding roads and water plants.It’s important to move on to jobs and the economy, as Mr. Obama urged Congress to do. But first voters need to be reminded that government programs can improve life for all Americans. When one of those programs begins to do its job, its authors shouldn’t be afraid to say so.
Yesterday I had lunch with Wayne Coleman who had been the GOP candidate for the Virginia Senate seat vacated by Ralph Northam when he became Lt. Governor. Coleman lost the election by less than a dozen votes and will admit that as a first time candidate he had made some missteps and had been portrayed negatively. Having run for political office myself 20 years ago, I know all too well that they are few things more brutal and that the media and one's opponent will do all they can to destroy you. At the time I ran for office, I was depicted as being "Christian Right" - I joked with Coleman that I guess I'd had the last laugh on that one. Our lunch meeting was in follow up to our conversation at the HRBOR Third Thursday in March and the purpose was to (i) allow Coleman to let me get to know him and prove to me that he is no bigot, and (ii) for me to enlighten him on LGBT issues and prove to him that I am not a wild eyed bomb thrower. I think we both accomplished our goals and I could easily see Coleman at a dinner party at our home in the future. We both agree that the Christofascists are killing the GOP.
How does this relate to the title of this post? Because it underscores that some in the GOP are coming to realize that not only is same sex marriage on a nationwide basis is inevitable, but that it is something that they need to support. A piece in The Daily Beast looks at the changing attitudes within the GOP outside of the Christofascist/Tea Party elements of the GOP. Here are some excerpts:Obviously, once gay marriage goes mainstream even within the GOP hate groups like Family Research Council and The Family Foundation here in Virginia will be facing major fundraising catastrophes and folks like Tony Perkins, Brian Brown and Victoria Cobb may be faced with the terrifying prospects of (i) having to get real jobs instead of peddling hate, and (ii) no longer being able to force their hate/fear based religion on others.
Conventioneers at the Nevada Republican Party just did a remarkable thing. They decided Republicans should be consistent with their philosophy of more freedom and less government—so they eliminated opposition to gay marriage from their party platform.
And now there is a move to change anti-gay language in the national GOP platform. A group called Young Conservatives for the Freedom to Marry, which includes Margaret Hoover (who is married to Daily Beast editor in chief John Avlon), Abby Huntsman, Meghan McCain, and Tyler Deaton, announced Wednesday that they are launching a $1 million campaign to eliminate harsh language and replace it with unifying framing, while still respecting differing views on marriage within the party.
The goal of the campaign is to reform the national platform. To do so, Young Conservatives are traveling to the four early primary states—New Hampshire, Iowa, Nevada, and South Carolina—this spring and summer to talk to elected and rank-and-file Republicans.
The reform-the-platform campaign is a response to the Republican National Committee Growth and Opportunity Project report (PDF) and the College Republicans report (PDF), both of which say the party has a major problem with younger voters.
Gay marriage is the last frontier of civil rights in this country. But the train is at last leaving the station. And it’s picking up steam fast. Recent polling reveals that 61 percent of Republicans under 30 now support gay marriage. Ten federal court judges in a row have now ruled favorably on the issue, two of them appointed by Republican presidents.
Towering Republican figures such as Ted Olson, who successfully argued the recount before the Supreme Court in Bush v. Gore, and former Wyoming senator Alan Simpson, who recently starred in an ad extolling the values of marriage for everyone, are helping to lead the fight, sending a strong signal that it’s time the GOP shifted gears.
Friday, April 18, 2014
Posting will be reduced this weekend. Tomorrow morning Barry and I are headed to Washington, D.C., for our wedding. It's an event that not too many years ago neither of us would ever have dreamed would be possible. For me, after a coming out process that at times verged on a living Hell, its the culmination of the image in my mind of what I sought at the end of the journey: a legally recognized, committed relationship to a wonderful man. All the plans are in place and family members who cannot attend will be staying at the house and other family members will be dog sitting the "furry children" as Barry calls the two Chihuahuas.
A wedding commissioner for the District of Columbia will be officiating the ceremony,but Barry's dad - a retired Southern Baptist pastor - will be participating in the ceremony. The actual ceremony will be conducted on the southeast corner of the top terrace of the John F. Kennedy Center for the performing Arts (pictured above). With a forecast of good weather, the image below shows the view that will be the back drop for the ceremony (in the background is Virginia where our marriage still will not be recognized).
Following the ceremony, we will dine in the Terrace Restaurant on the top level of the complex which is pictured below.
The group in Washington will be small and intimate and later in the year when my oldest daughter and my grandson have returned from Washington State we will have the first of several receptions for family and friends. Tonight we had dinner at the Hampton Yacht Club where we received congratulations and hugs from other members and the staff. Living one's life openly and honestly does change hearts and minds. We will take plenty of photos and there will be some updates as the weekend progresses.
|Main floor atrium - Kennedy Center|
For those who would like to do something in honor of our wedding, we will be setting up a page at the Hampton Roads Community Foundation where tax deductible donations can be made to the Hamar/HRBOR Scholarship that the Foundation manages for HRBOR. Details will follow.
|School of Law - University of Virginia|
In yet another blow to the religious
bigots extremists who spearheaded the passage of Virginia's anti-gay animus inspire Marshall-Newman Amendment, A.E. Dick Howard - a law professor at the University of Virginia who I recall from my law school days - who was executive director of the commission that drafted Virginia's current constitution has filed an amicus brief with the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals in Bostic v. Rainey that urges the Court to uphold the ruling that the Marshall-Newman Amendment is unconstitutional. The brief drives home two principal points: (i) the United States Constitution trumps the Virginia Constitution and (ii) the majority does not get to take away the rights of a minority that it doesn't like. The Virginian Pilot has details. Here are highlights:
Three constitutional scholars, including the principal architect of Virginia’s current constitution, have filed court papers supporting Attorney General Mark Herring’s decision not to defend the state’s prohibition on same-sex marriage.
Virginia’s gay-marriage ban is the target of what could become a landmark legal case working its way through the federal courts. A Norfolk district judge struck the ban down in February, but delayed implementation of her decision pending an appeal to the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
In a “friend of the court” brief filed with the appeals court Thursday, the three scholars say Herring had not only the authority but the obligation to abandon the defense of Virginia’s same-sex marriage ban once he determined that it violates the U.S. Constitution.
The three scholars say Herring acted properly because two centuries of legal precedent make it clear that the state constitution is subservient to the federal Constitution.
One of the three is A.E. Dick Howard, a law professor at the University of Virginia who was executive director of the commission that fashioned the current Virginia constitution, adopted in 1970. Howard was the principal draftsman of the document.
Also signing onto the brief were two other law professors, Daniel Ortiz of U.Va. and Carl Tobias of the University of Richmond.
Herring took an oath to defend both the state and federal constitutions, and it has been clear since the federal Constitution was ratified in 1788 that it must prevail when there is a conflict, the scholars argue: “Public officials who swear to defend both constitutions owe their first loyalty to the Constitution of the United States.”
Previous attorneys general of both parties have declined to defend state laws that they determined were invalid, just as Herring did, the scholars point out.
“An Attorney General is not an automaton who must blindly support Virginia law, especially when he concludes that it conflicts with the Constitution as the Supreme Law,” they argue. “Virginia’s citizens elect an Attorney General on the expectation that he will exercise his legal judgment in their interest. Attorney General Herring has the authority and the duty to do so here.”
Del. Bob Marshall and other Christofascist extremists, including failed gubernatorial candidate Ken Cuccinelli refuse to recognize what every first year law student knows: The U. S. Constitution ALWAYS overrides the state constitution.
One of the most shocking examples of the hypocrisy of today's Republican Party is the manner in which the party claims to embrace - dare we say worship? - Christian values even as it pursues policies that are the absolute antithesis of the Gospel message of love, care for the poor and less fortunate. Paul Ryan's budget proposals which savage the social safety net and which would leave millions of citizens in extreme dire straights is but one example. Another is the way in which in the eyes of the GOP, if one is not a white, heterosexual conservative Christian, one is not viewed as even fully human. Running in a head on collision with this GOP mantra of stealing from the poor to give to the rich (a reverse Robin Hood approach, if you will) is Pope Francis' statements on social justice. A piece in The Daily Beast looks at how the GOP may be called out on its ugly policies from this unexpected quarter. Here are excerpts:
When Jeb Bush stepped up this month to declare illegal immigration “an act of love,” he provoked precisely the conservative pile-on you’d expect. The right’s favorite crabby uncle, Charles Krauthammer, dourly pronounced the comments “bizarre.”. Rep. Raul Labrador accused Jebbie of pandering. Noted intellectual Donald Trump declared Bush’s thinking “ridiculous” and “dangerous.” And God help anyone who ventured onto sites likeDespite these positives by Pope Francis, until he does a thorough house cleaning of the hierarchy of those who aided, abetted and covered up sexual abuse and until he truly changes Church dogma on sexual issues, the "change" he is bringing to the Church will be largely just smoke and mirrors. Better PR skills do not equal real change. . Most perfectly, fake-winger Stephen Colbert eulogized, “He will be missed.”
In the midst of all the huffing and grumping, it was easy to miss the smaller, quieter sounds of satisfaction emanating from some of Bush’s fellow Catholics, particularly those on the social-justice-minded end of the spectrum. For these faithful, the governor’s assertion—with its decidedly biblical ring—was yet another sign of the change in conversation being driven, even within the fetid swamps of U.S. politics, by the wildly popular Pope Francis.
[D]ebate continues to rage throughout the church over the question of just how radical this pope really is, and the degree to which he might shift the Catholic spotlight from issues of sexual morality onto those such as poverty, immigration, torture, and even the environment.
“A fair number of bishops have always been deeply committed to the social doctrine of the church, but that isn’t what made headlines,” says Michael Sean Winters, who writes for the National Catholic Register. “Now it makes headlines.”
And where the headlines go, the politicians soon will follow. Case in point: In his first pastoral visit last July, the pope journeyed to Lampedusa, a tiny island off the coast of Sicily through which more than 200,000 migrants and refugees have entered Europe since 1999. Lamenting “global indifference” to the plight of migrants and refugees, Francis threw a wreath into the Mediterranean in remembrance of those who had lost their lives there.
[T[he pope makes it awkward for political leaders of faith to ignore the human costs of poverty or the need for immigration reform, asserts Winters. “It’s really hard to justify, say, your opposition to immigration as coherent with your religious principles when you have the pope and the bishops out front saying otherwise.”
Sure enough, in the wake of Bush’s “act of love,” the proudly Catholic Bill O’Reilly rushed forward to claim that Jeb had stolen the line from him. Meanwhile, Marco Rubio, a champion of comprehensive immigration reform until it tanked his popularity with the GOP base, felt compelled to wade back into the issue—even if his on-the-one-hand-on-the-other-hand, good-immigrants-versus-bad-immigrants hair-splitting made him look more impotent and befuddled than ever.
Carr acknowledges that while “the tone and the content of the discussion” have changed, “what is not clear is whether that leads to a change in policies or priorities.”
Indeed, Rep. Paul Ryan may talk a good game about the poor, but his policies still give social-justice advocates an ulcer. Similarly, John Boehner may have invited the pope to address a joint session of Congress, but that doesn’t mean the speaker is looking to become his party’s point man on immigration reform.
Still, the wheels of government—like those of the church—move slowly. And just getting Washington talking about these issues in even a slightly new way is seen by many social-justice advocates as a solid first step.
“There is a palpable sense among those of us on the Catholic left that the wind is at our back in a way that it has not been in at least 40 years.”
Activists and news junkies like myself will remember that Charles Cooper argued before the United States Supreme Court that Proposition 8 was constitutional and Cooper opposed same sex marriage. Then an amazing thing happened: Cooper's stepdaughter came out as lesbian. Now she is getting married to her partner and Cooper is helping with the wedding planning. This about face shows the power of LGBT individuals living their lives "out" and proud. It does changes hearts and minds. True, some us will not have the positive experience of Cooper's stepdaughter, but in the larger scheme of things being out will create change. A piece in Slate looks at Charles Cooper's stunning "evolution" on same sex marriage. Here are highlights:
The lawyer who argued before the Supreme Court last year in defense of California’s Proposition 8 that banned gay marriage in the state, says his views on same-sex marriage are evolving. It’s a stunning change of heart from attorney Charles Cooper who argued before the court that same-sex unions weaken marriages between a man and a woman.
The reason behind Cooper’s rethink on the issue is an understandable one—during the high profile case, he learned his stepdaughter was gay. "My views evolve on issues of this kind the same way as other people's do, and how I view this down the road may not be the way I view it now, or how I viewed it ten years ago," Cooper is quoted as saying in an upcoming book, the Associated Press reports. In journalist Jo Becker’s book "Forcing the Spring: Inside the Fight for Marriage Equality," Becker recounts how, as the case rose through the court system, “Cooper's family began to consider the plaintiffs in the case, Kris Perry and Sandy Stier, as an inspiration for their daughter,” according to the AP.
With the case resolved, and Prop 8 dismissed by the Supreme Court, signaling a victory for gay rights advocates, Cooper opened up about his evolving personal opinion on gay marriage. Cooper’s stepdaughter plans to marry her partner in Massachusetts this summer. In a statement to the AP: Cooper said his family "is typical of families all across America." "My daughter Ashley's path in life has led her to happiness with a lovely young woman named Casey, and our family and Casey's family are looking forward to celebrating their marriage in just a few weeks," he said.
Hate group leader Tony Perkins and NOM's Brian Brown must be acting as if someone just peed big time in their Cheerios. I can just imagine the flying spittle.
The lunacy of the far right seems to fester more with every passing day. Indeed, there are times when I watch the news I ponder how the hell some of the far right "heroes" and "freedom fighters" got so batshit crazy. It's as if they have suffered some blunt force head trauma or extreme mental illness. A case in point? Cliven Bundy and those rallying to his defense and claiming that Bundy is standing up for freedom. Lawlessness might be a better description of Bundy's arrogant refusal to pay for grazing rights on federal lands. Like most on the far right - especially the Christofascists - Bundy believes that he is above the law. It would be easy to dismiss Bundy as a lone nutcase, but amazingly, he has had armed supporters rally to his defense and threaten violence. A column in the New York Times looks at the batshitery that is now all too common on the far right. Here are excerpts:
Imagine a vendor on the National Mall, selling burgers and dogs, who hasn’t paid his rent in 20 years. He refuses to recognize his landlord, the National Park Service, as a legitimate authority. Every court has ruled against him, and fines have piled up. What’s more, the effluents from his food cart are having a detrimental effect on the spring grass in the capital.Would an armed posse come to his defense, aiming their guns at the park police? Would the lawbreaker get prime airtime on Fox News, breathless updates in the Drudge Report, a sympathetic ear from Tea Party Republicans? No, of course not.So what’s the difference between the fictional loser and Cliven Bundy, the rancher in Nevada who owes the government about $1 million and has been grazing his cattle on public land for more than 20 years? Near as I can tell, one wears a cowboy hat. Easterners, especially clueless ones in politics and the press, have always had a soft spot for a defiant white dude in a Stetson.This phony event has brought out the worst of the gun-waving far right, and the national politicians who are barely one degree of separation from them. Hundreds of heavily armed, camouflaged supporters of the scofflaw turned out Saturday in Nevada, training their rifles on public employees who were trying to do their job. The outsiders looked like snipers ready to shoot the police. If you changed that picture to Black Panthers surrounding a lawful eviction in the inner city, do you think right-wing media would be there cheering the outlaws?
With their assault rifles and threats, the thugs in the desert forced federal officials with the Bureau of Land Management to back down from a court-ordered confiscation of Bundy’s cattle. One of the rancher’s supporters, Richard Mack, a Tea Party leader who is in the National Rifle Association’s Hall of Fame, said he planned to use women as human shields in a violent showdown with law enforcement.“We were actually strategizing to put all the women up front,” Mack said in a radio interview. “If they were going to start shooting, it’s going to be women that are going to be televised all across the world getting shot.”That’s who Fox and friends are playing with these days — militia extremists who would sacrifice their wives to make some larger point about a runaway federal government. And what’s more, the Fox host Sean Hannity has all but encouraged a violent confrontation.
You would think that kind of anarchist would draw a raised eyebrow from the Tea Party establishment that provides Bundy his media oxygen. . . . But instead, people like Senator Rand Paul have only fanned the flames, warning of a Waco-style assault. Paul, who wants to be president, further showed himself to be stunningly ignorant of the public lands legacy created by forward-thinking Republicans a century ago.
Senator, the renegade rancher has no more right to 96,000 acres of Nevada public range than a hot dog vendor has to perpetual space on the Mall. Both places belong to the American people. Bundy runs his cattle on our land — that is, turf owned by every citizen.
You can understand why the Nevada Cattlemen’s Association wants no part of Bundy. These kinds of showdowns are rare because most ranchers play by the rules, and quietly go about their business. They are heroes, in one sense, preserving a way of life that has an honorable place in American history. The good ones would never wave a gun in the face of a public servant, and likely never draw a camera from Fox.
Sadly, Bundy and his supporters are now a key element of the GOP base where the rule of law and intellect and logic are now scorned and outright insanity and lawlessness are deemed to be virtues. My Republican ancestors must be rolling over in their graves.
Thursday, April 17, 2014
The Virginia GOP continues to grow more extreme by the day and about the only thing the House of Delegates hasn't done is pass a law authorizing secession from the United States. Things are truly that batshit crazy amongst today's Virginia GOP. Hence the Virginia GOP's threat to shut down Virginia's state government if Gov. McAuliffe continues to push for Medicaid expansion. In a main editorial, the Richmond Times Dispatch - perhaps the most conservative newspaper in Virginia - slams the Virginia GOP and House Speaker William Howell. It also slams the gerrymandered districts engineered by the Virginia GOP which allows the GOP members of the House of Delegates to largely escape accountability. Here are highlights from the editorial:
Bill Howell serves not only as speaker of the House of Delegates but also as the highest-ranking state official among Virginia Republicans. . . . . And he expressed fears that a government shutdown could result in the lowering of Virginia’s AAA bond rating.
“I sure wouldn’t want to be governor when we lost our AAA bond rating for the first time in state history,” the speaker said. He sure shouldn’t want to be speaker if Virginia lost its AAA rating, either.
Gerrymandering diminishes accountability in the legislature, particularly in the House of Delegates. Howell and his minions have almost no reason to fear retaliation in general elections. Their biggest threat comes in nomination contests where purists could challenge delegates who prefer effective governing to pointless posturing. The Byrd Organization kept its grip by limiting the electorate. Republicans in the House keep their grip by ensuring that votes do not matter. The disgrace invites the unpleasantness Virginia is enduring.
The Times-Dispatch supports Marketplace Virginia. If Obamacare did not exist and Marketplace were seen as a way to increase access to private health insurance, we suspect it would pass. A case could be made that Marketplace does not belong in the budget, but Virginia has moved beyond that argument. A yes to a budget that includes Marketplace Virginia marks the proper step.
The boyfriend and I are getting married this weekend but we are not getting a pre-nuptial agreement for digital privacy. But then again, we are not celebrities or as high drama and high maintenance as someone like Johnny Weir whose marital roller coaster is a tabloid dream come true. But for many celebrities, such agreements is a growing trend so that upon a divorce their soon to be former spouse cannot use personal information in divorce court or to unleash a tabloid "War of the Roses." I do not, thank god, do divorce work, but I have drafted pre-nuptial agreements for clients, especially LGBT clients. The Daily Beast looks at the new trend:
The breakup, makeup, and alleged breakup again of figure skater Johnny Weir and his husband, Victor Voronov, has captivated media and skating fans alike. The flamboyance Weir has long brought to his performances on the ice colored this story as well, from accusations of high-fashion theft to a brewing custody battle for the couple’s dog Tema. Then there are the more serious mutual allegations of domestic violence. But the contents of a post-nuptial agreement reported to be a last-ditch effort to save the union proved to be even more eyebrow raising than many of the allegations Weir and Voronov hurled back and forth at each other in the media and in court.What do readers think about this issue?
According to reports, the post-nup contained provisions requiring Weir’s mother to stop meddling so much (a request many unhappy spouses dream of!) and another, more unique demand: specific restrictions on whom the couple may text and what kind of texting is appropriate, with specific language to address “sexting.” (Voronov previously alleged texting proof that Weir had been unfaithful.)
Weir and Voronov are certainly not the first couple to be undone by text messages. According to reports, Tiger Woods’s affairs were uncovered as a result of intercepted text messages by his wife.
But here’s a question: Should spouses be permitted to access to each other’s texts or email at all and use them in litigation during breakups? Increasingly, high-powered couples are determining the answer is no, and are going to great lengths to insure that a spouse cannot do so without repercussions. Specifically, more couples are beginning to request digital privacy clauses in prenuptial and post-nuptial agreements.
According to Steven J. Eisman, a matrimonial lawyer with Abrams Fensterman, “In a prenuptial or post-nuptial agreement a digital privacy clause is put in place so a spouse can’t reveal the other spouse’s personal information in court if a divorce were to occur. This includes all digital devices for example, smartphone, computer and tablets.” Eisman explained that digital privacy clauses are distinguished from traditional non-disclosure agreements in that most NDAs have exceptions for courts of law. But digital privacy clauses can specifically preclude a spouse from using anything gathered on a laptop or cell phone in divorce proceedings. This is particularly important for public figures, where confidential information revealed in divorce proceedings can prove particularly damaging.
At first glance, digital privacy clauses may simply sound like yet another way for a wealthy person to gain the upper hand over a less moneyed, less powerful partner in divorce proceedings. After all, a poorer person usually has less leverage in prenuptial agreement negotiations. So if the wealthier partner says, “I don’t want you going through my emails ever or you will face a financial penalty,” one might presume he or she has something to hide—like multiple girlfriends or boyfriends. But what’s at stake for public figures is not necessarily just a secret sexual indiscretion.
For these individuals, insuring that an angry ex can’t use certain emails, texts or social media during disputes is not simply a matter of being discreet, but being a smart businessperson.
But public figures are not the only ones who need to weigh the costs and benefits of digital privacy clauses. Catherine Zang, of Cincinnati, Ohio, discovered her husband had been using surveillance equipment to record her in their home, and software to copy her emails and record who she was corresponding with online.
Eisman said these clauses are likely more common than we think and will continue to gain in popularity, particularly among those in positions of prominence and power. “There is a lot of talk about certain politicians who have gone through divorces where allegedly their spouses have gotten information off their computers and put it in safe deposit boxes,” he said. “There are rumors. You never know. There are people at high levels whether corporate or government who discuss all sorts of things in email.”
I haven't said much of late about the disaster in the Ukraine or Vladimir Putin's continued use of a game plan once by Adolph Hitler to justify his invasion of neighboring countries while stirring up xenophobia - and more importantly - popular support on the home front. Substitute the names Hitler and Poland for Putin and Ukraine and the same pattern becomes unmistakable. And like Hitler, Putin appears to be stirring up trouble in eastern Ukraine so that he can then claim he has to act to protect "ethnic Russians." Sadly, many Russians, suffering from a susceptibility to the Russian exceptionalism myth that has lingered for 1000 years are falling for Putin's propaganda campaign. A piece in the New York Times looks at Putin's reprise of Hitler's 1938 model. Here are excerpts:
President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia emphasized on Thursday that the upper chamber of the Russian Parliament had authorized him to use military force if necessary in eastern Ukraine, and also stressed Russia’s historical claim to the territory, repeatedly referring to it as “new Russia” and saying that only “God knows” why it became part of Ukraine.As I said, Putin is following Hitler's script closely.
Speaking in a televised question-and-answer show, Mr. Putin also admitted for the first time that Russian armed forces had been deployed in Crimea, the disputed peninsula that Russia annexed last month immediately after a large majority of the population voted in a referendum to secede from Ukraine.Mr. Putin’s remarks on eastern Ukraine came as officials from Russia, the United States, Europe and the new government in Kiev were meeting in Geneva for four-way negotiations aimed at resolving the political crisis.Russia has mobilized troops along the border with Ukraine and in recent days pro-Russian demonstrators have caused widespread unrest throughout the eastern part of the country, seizing police stations and other government buildings and forming roadblocks. There have been several outbursts of violence, including a firefight at a Ukrainian military base overnight in which at least three pro-Russian militiamen were killed.Mr. Putin said that Russia felt an obligation to protect ethnic Russians in the region, who are a sizable minority. “We must do everything to help these people to protect their rights and independently determine their own destiny,” he said.It’s new Russia. Kharkiv, Lugansk, Donetsk, Odessa were not part of Ukraine in Czarist times, they were transferred in 1920. Why? God knows. Then for various reasons these areas were gone, and the people stayed there — we need to encourage them to find a solution.”
|4th Circuit Court of Appeals|
One of the constant mantras one hears from the extreme Christofascists at The Family Foundation - an affiliate of the hate group Family Research Council("TFF") - is that "ever child deserves a mother and father" and the claim that children raised by same sex parents do not thrive and succeed as fell as those with heterosexual parents. These claims are backed by nothing other than TFF's virulent anti-gay animus and its desire to force all Virginians to live in accordance with TFF's extreme religious beliefs. TFF is in short the Christian version of the Taliban. The legitimate research shows that children do just as well in same sex parent headed homes. This is the point that the American Sociological Association ("ASA") drives home in its amicus brief filed in Bostic v. Rainey now pending before the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit. LGBT Weekly has details on the ASA brief:
The American Sociological Association (ASA) filed an amicus brief with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit today supporting the fight to overturn Virginia’s gay marriage ban and continuing its now 14-month effort to highlight the overwhelming body of social science research that confirms “children fare just as well” when raised by same-sex or heterosexual parents. The Fourth Circuit is scheduled to consider the lawsuit challenging the ban in the near future.“The amicus brief reflects the ASA’s ongoing commitment to ensuring that U.S. courts considering lawsuits to legalize gay marriage know that social science research shows parents’ sexual orientation has no bearing on their children’s well-being,” said ASA Executive Officer Sally T. Hillsman. “The claim that same-sex parents produce less positive child outcomes than heterosexual parents is contrary to the scientific data, and the ASA will continue to publicize the facts”This is the fourth time in the past 14 months that the ASA has backed challenges to same-sex marriage bans through amicus briefs. In March 2014, the ASA filed an amicus brief with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit that addressed gay marriage bans in Utah and Oklahoma. In October 2013, the ASA submitted a brief to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit regarding same-sex marriage bans in Nevada and Hawaii. Similarly, in February 2013, the ASA weighed in with the U.S. Supreme Court on Proposition 8, which banned same-sex marriage in California, and the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which banned among other things federal recognition of valid same-sex marriages.“For as long as is necessary, we will continue to provide the courts with the clear social science research consensus that children raised by same-sex parents fare just as well as children raised by heterosexual parents,” Hillsman said. “We will also continue to correct the record when gay marriage opponents misinterpret or misrepresent social science research to support their position, which unfortunately happens all too frequently.”“The Regnerus papers, among other sources gay marriage opponents continue to invoke, provide no basis for their arguments because that research does not directly examine the well-being of children raised by same-sex parents,” Hillsman said. “These analyses, therefore, do not undermine the social science research consensus and do not establish a scientific basis for gay marriage bans.”Rather, social science research suggests same-sex marriage may be beneficial for children. “I have said this before, but it bears repeating: The research supports the conclusion that the extension of marriage rights to same-sex couples has the potential to improve child well-being insofar as the institution of marriage may provide social and legal support to families and enhance family stability — all of which are key drivers of positive child outcomes,” Hillsman said.
Note how the ASA again slams the dishonest and fraudulent Regnerus study that was funded by right wing organizations and which increasing appears to have had a predetermined outcome. No one is more dishonest than the "godly folk."
Wednesday, April 16, 2014
This month's HRBOR Third Thursday event should be another impressive affair. April's host is New York Life and the networking event will be at the beautiful Pagoda on the Norfolk waterfront which sits in a gorgeous Japanese garden. Rumor has it that a surprise announcement will be made and also details will be available about HRBOR's all new website. Here are event details:
Date: April 17, 2014
Time: 6:00 PM - 8:00 PM
Location: Pagoda Garden Tea House, 265 W Tazewell St, Norfolk VA 23510
Free to Members, $15 Guest Fee for Guests and Prospective Members
Hampton Roads Business OutReach ("HRBOR") is Virginia’s only LGBT Chamber of Commerce - Our goal is empowering and supporting member businesses and professionals to provide our community an inclusive and welcoming environment to live, work and grow.
I urge local readers to attend and make friends, market your business and support diversity. This event will be especially poignant for me since it will be my last Third Thursday as a member of the HRBOR board of directors, a position I have held for six years. HRBOR is very dear to my heart.
Don't Ask Don't Tell is on the trash heap of history now, but while it lasted it harmed and/or destroyed many lives. Some of those lives were of local military members and the boyfriend and I count as friends a good number of individuals who lived under Don't Ask, Don't Tell. Some were thrown out of the military for who they were and who they loved. A new movie, "Burning Blue," looks at such lives and is based on the play written by DMW Greer that draws from his own experiences as a naval aviator. One synopsis describes the basic plot as follows:
Since enlisting in the Navy, movie-star handsome elite aircraft pilots Daniel and William have been the best of friends. A friendship tested following two fatal accidents aboard their aircraft carrier. A government agent is placed aboard the ship to determine what may have been at the root of the mishaps. But his investigation abruptly changes direction when a sailor reports seeing Daniel cavorting with another fighter pilot, the headstrong, muscle-bound Matthew, in a gay club changing their lives forever. Think a gay Top Gun with heart and soul.
Newnownext describes the movie this way:
Burning Blue, the new drama from writer-director DMW Greer, recounts an illicit affair tween two male Navy pilots in the era of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell. If that sounds a little Top Gun meets Brokeback Mountain, you should know the film is based on Greer’s 1992 off-Broadway play of the same name.
Lionsgate is distributing the film, which boasts a pretty impressive cast, including Trent Ford (Gosford Park), Morgan Spector (Boardwalk Empire), Rob Mayes (The Client List) and Tammy Blanchard (Life with Judy Garland). Burning Blue lands in theaters and on VOD on June 6.
I rail against the GOP effort to restore the Gilded Age and a new study would seem to confirm that the effort is having a great deal of success. More frightening, with the recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling that there should be no limit to political bribes so long as they are paid while elected officials are candidates rather than while in office, the trend will likely intensify. The study that I refer to is one done by researchers from Princeton University and Northwestern University suggests that the United States' political system serves the wealthy and special interest organizations, not ordinary voters. The Telegraph has a piece that looks at the researchers' findings. Here are highlights:
The US government does not represent the interests of the majority of the country's citizens, but is instead ruled by those of the rich and powerful, a new study from Princeton and Northwestern Universities has concluded.
The report, entitled Testing Theories of American Politics: Elites, Interest Groups, and Average Citizens, used extensive policy data collected from between the years of 1981 and 2002 to empirically determine the state of the US political system.
After sifting through nearly 1,800 US policies enacted in that period and comparing them to the expressed preferences of average Americans (50th percentile of income), affluent Americans (90th percentile) and large special interests groups, researchers concluded that the United States is dominated by its economic elite.
The peer-reviewed study, which will be taught at these universities in September, says: "The central point that emerges from our research is that economic elites and organised groups representing business interests have substantial independent impacts on US government policy, while mass-based interest groups and average citizens have little or no independent influence."
Researchers concluded that US government policies rarely align with the the preferences of the majority of Americans, but do favour special interests and lobbying oragnisations: "When a majority of citizens disagrees with economic elites and/or with organised interests, they generally lose. Moreover, because of the strong status quo bias built into the US political system, even when fairly large majorities of Americans favour policy change, they generally do not get it."
The study comes in the wake of McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission, a controversial piece of legislation passed in The Supreme Court that abolished campaign contribution limits, and record low approval ratings for the US congress.
Yes, individual voters can change election results but ultimately, polcy will likely be set by the rich and powerful. Sometimes the interests of the rich and the average person overlap, but more often they do not.
Here in Virginia the Republican Party of Virginia is little more than an arm of the extreme Christofascists at The Family Foundation which disingenuously pretends to be a "family values organization" rather than an organization which seeks to subvert the U.S. Constitution. Based on a vote in the Louisiana House of Representatives, things are not much different in Louisiana where the Louisiana Family Forum (which like The Family Foundation is an affiliate of Focus on the Family and the hate group, Family Research Council) carries more weight than the United States Constitution and the rulings of the U. S. Supreme Court. The proof? The Louisiana House of Representatives voted 67 to 27 to retain Louisiana's unconstitutional sodomy statute. A statute that was ruled unconstitutional under Lawrence v. Texas and which is similar to Virginia's now former sodomy statute which was struck down a second time by the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals. Think Progress looks at the batshitery reigning in Louisiana:
As the piece correctly notes, every legislator who voted to retain this law breached their oath of office by which they swore to uphold the United States Constitution, not some set of hate and fear based religious beliefs held by religious extremist. Technically, every one of them should be removed from office.The Louisiana House of Representatives voted overwhelmingly — 27–67 — to retain a law banning “crimes against nature,” including oral sex and all forms of same-sex sexual contact. The law has been unenforceable for over ten years, since the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Lawrence v. Texas that laws criminalizing consensual private sexual behavior are unconstitutional. The 67 lawmakers who opposed the repeal thus violated their oath of office, in which they swore to support the Constitution of the United States.Repeal of the unconstitutional law was opposed by the Louisiana Family Forum, a state affiliate of Focus on the Family and the Family Research Council. In a letter to lawmakers, the group argued that “Louisiana’s anti-sodomy statute is consistent with the values of Louisiana residents who consider this behavior to be dangerous, unhealthy, and immoral.” The Louisiana Family Forum also alleged that the law was essential to protect children from sodomy, even though several other laws account for such protections.The group also claimed that the law was necessary for punishing crimes against nature in public places. The law, however, was still being used as of last year to entrap gay men who consented in public places to have sex in private places.
I condemn conservative Christians who are best defined by their hatred of others frequently on this blog. But Christian fundamentalists are not the only foul force in the world. Right along side them are the Islamic fundamentalists who likewise cling to ignorance, spew hatred towards others and fight a rear guard battle against modernity itself. The latest example is what is happening in Brunei where an extreme sharia law penal code has been enacted which imposes the death penalty for an array of offenses including same sex relations. If anyone deserves the death penalty, it is those who passed the new penal code and those who advocated for it. Huffington Post looks at this development which violates international law:
The United Nations has responded to the nation of Brunei, a sovereign state in southeast Asia, where officials are reportedly set to roll out a new penal code including death by stoning as punishment for same-sex acts.
Other offenses referenced in the revision of capital punishment regulations reportedly include "rape, adultery, sodomy, extramarital sexual relations for Muslims, insulting any verses of the Quran and Hadith, blasphemy, declaring oneself a prophet or non-Muslim, and murder."
The revised penal code is slated to go into effect April 22, according to Gay Asia News and other media outlets.
“Application of the death penalty for such a broad range of offenses contravenes international law,” Rupert Colville, spokesperson for the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, said in a statement. “We urge the Government to delay the entry into force of the revised penal code and to conduct a comprehensive review ensuring its compliance with international human rights standards,” he told a news conference in Geneva.
Brunei is the latest in a series of countries to pass anti-gay laws that could result in extreme punishments for those engaging in same-sex acts. In February, Uganda's president signed a bill that calls for first-time offenders of same-sex acts to be sentenced to 14 years in jail, and "repeat offenders" could receive life in prison. Additionally, Nigeria has a similar anti-gay law that makes same-sex relationships illegal and sets penalties of same-sex acts at up to 14 years in prison.
Conservative/fundamentalist religion is always an evil. The public needs to open its eyes to this reality and not be distracted by charitable activities that in no way outweigh the evils done and by claims of "religious freedom" on the part of those who seek to oppress others.
In right wing circles and throughout much of the GOP base, the thought that Hispanics - except those perhaps from Spain - are whites is tantamount to heresy. One need only listen to the spittle flecked rants against immigrants to get a feel for the animus held toward those less than 100% Caucasian. But with America's rapidly changing demographics, the issue of who is white may again come to the fore. A piece in Slate looks at the issue and some of the ramifications that may be seen in the short and the long term. Here are highlights:
Who is white? This debate is useful to keep in mind as we sift through the information in the Pew Research Center’s new—and massive—look at America’s shifting demographics.
According to Pew—and echoing the results in the last census—the United States is just a few decades away from its demographic inflection point. Come 2050, only 47 percent of Americans will call themselves white, while the majority will belong to a minority group. Blacks will remain steady at 13 percent of the population, while Asians will grow to 8 percent. Hispanics, on the other hand, will explode to 28 percent of all U.S. population, up from 19 percent in 2010. Immigration is driving this “demographic makeover,” specifically the “40 million immigrants who have arrived since 1965, about half of them Hispanics and nearly three-in-ten Asians.”
But the thing to remember about the Hispanic category, for instance, is that it contains a wide range of colors and ethnicities. In the United States, Hispanics (or more broadly Latinos) include Afro-Brazilians, dark-skinned Puerto Ricans, indigenous Mexicans, Venezuelan mestizos, and European Argentinians, among others.
To say that America will become a majority-minority country is to erase these distinctions and assume that, for now and forever, Latinos will remain a third race, situated next to “non-Hispanic blacks” and “non-Hispanic whites.” . . . . it’s not that simple.
American racial categories are far from fixed, and who counts as white is extremely fluid. “A hundred years ago,” writes Ian Haney López in Dog Whistle Politics, “firm racial lines elevated Anglo-Saxons over the supposedly degenerate races from southern and eastern Europe.” For a large chunk of the 19th century—and a good deal of the 20th—America’s intellectual energy was devoted to policing the boundaries of “whiteness.”
Over time, however, as new immigrants entered the country and old ones gained access to levers of power and influence, the boundaries grew to include them.
It’s hard to say history is repeating itself—the circumstances of the early 21st century are vastly different from those of the late 19th—but the current period does seem to rhyme with the past. Over the last 50 years of large-scale Latino and Asian immigration, we’ve seen waves of anti-immigrant hysteria (Proposition 187 in California and the minutemen along the Mexican border), attempts to keep high-achieving immigrants and their children out of elite institutions, and intermarriage leading to assimilation—one of the most famous comedians in the world, Louis C.K., is half-Mexican, but to most Americans, he’s just a white guy.
Going forward, will white Hispanics see themselves as part of a different race—light-skinned but distinct from whites—or will they see themselves as another kind of white? Will the government treat them as white in its forms and surveys, and will so-called traditional white Americans understand them as such? What about the children of mixed marriages? As Pew points out, we live in an age of intermarriage. More than 15 percent of new marriages are between partners of different races, and the large majority of them are Hispanic and Asian “out marriage” to whites. Will these children retain a racial identity, or will they join the vast tapestry of American whiteness?
These are critical questions, since—in a country where white Hispanics are just white, and Asians intermarry at high rates—the white population of the United States could stay steady or actually grow.
The future could make a collection of minorities the majority in America, or it could broaden our definition of white, leaving us with a remix of the black-and-white binary. A country where some white people are Asian, some are Hispanic, and the dark-skinned citizens of America—and blacks especially—is still a world apart.
For now at least, "white" to the GOP means white of European descent, conservative Protestant (preferably evangelical), and heterosexual. As the demographics continue to change that GOP base and definition of white will shrink in numbers and yet again causes me to ask why the GOP is busy committing long term political suicide? When will the GOP come to the point of just seeing people as people regardless of skin tone? Meanwhile, Tony Perkins, Victoria Cobb and others of their ilk will continue to preach hate while wrapping themselves in false piety and religiosity.
Most military veterans return to civilian life and fit in with normal society and move on with their lives in a normal fashion. The shooter in Kansas over the past weekend was not such a veteran, however. More frighteningly, he is not alone in his attraction to extreme white supremacy groups. The questions become (i) why does a veteran turn to the dark side if you will and (ii) why, given Miller's history, something wasn't done to stop him long before now. The latter question seems to stem from the reluctance of government and law enforcement officials to admit that extreme white supremacy groups and neo-Nazi groups are a serious problem. As noted before, the outcry from Republicans killed a 2009 report on the danger that groups like those with which Miller was involved pose to the country. A column in the New York Times looks at these questions. Here are excerpts:
WHEN Frazier Glenn Miller shot and killed three people in Overland Park, Kan., on Sunday, he did so as a soldier of the white power movement: a groundswell that united Klansmen, neo-Nazis and other fringe elements after the Vietnam War, crested with the bombing of the Oklahoma City federal building in 1995, and remains a diminished but potent threat today.Mr. Miller, the 73-year-old man charged in the killings, had been outspoken about his hatred of Jews, blacks, Communists and immigrants, but it would be a mistake to dismiss him as a crazed outlier. The shootings were consistent with his three decades of participation in organized hate groups. His violence was framed by a clear worldview.You can’t predict whether any one person will commit violence, but it would be hard to think of someone more befitting of law enforcement scrutiny than Mr. Miller (who also goes by the name Frazier Glenn Cross). I’ve been studying the white radical right since 2006. In my review of tens of thousands of pages of once classified federal records, as well as newly available archives of Klan and neo-Nazi publications, Mr. Miller appears as a central figure of the white power movement.The number of Vietnam veterans in that movement was small — a tiny proportion of those who served — but Vietnam veterans forged the first links between Klansmen and Nazis since World War II. They were central in leading Klan and neo-Nazi groups past the anti-civil rights backlash of the 1960s and toward paramilitary violence. The white power movement they forged had strongholds not only in the South, but also in the Pacific Northwest, Colorado, California and Pennsylvania. Its members carried weapons like those they had used in Vietnam, and used boot-camp rhetoric to frame their pursuit of domestic enemies. They condoned violence against innocent people and, eventually, the state itself.Before his 1979 discharge for distributing racist literature, Mr. Miller served for 20 years in the Army, including two tours in Vietnam and service as a Green Beret. Later that year he took part (but was not charged) in a deadly shooting of Communist protesters in Greensboro, N.C.In 1980, Mr. Miller formed a Klan-affiliated organization in North Carolina that eventually was known as the White Patriot Party.The archives also show that Mr. Miller received large sums of money from The Order, a white power group in the Pacific Northwest, to buy land and weapons to put his followers through paramilitary training. Mr. Miller’s group paid $50,000 for weapons and matériel stolen from the armory at Fort Bragg, N.C., including anti-tank rockets, mines and plastic explosives. He targeted active-duty troops for recruitment and hired them to conduct training exercises.Mr. Miller’s downfall came after the Southern Poverty Law Center filed a lawsuit on behalf of black North Carolinians; as part of a settlement in 1985, he agreed to stop operating a paramilitary organization. In 1987, a federal judge found that Mr. Miller had violated the agreement, and barred him from contacting others in the white power movement. Outraged, and anticipating criminal charges regarding the stolen military weapons, Mr. Miller briefly went underground.In 2009, the Department of Homeland Security issued a nine-page report detailing the threat of domestic terrorism by the white power movement. . . . The report singled out one factor that has fueled every surge in Ku Klux Klan membership in American history, from the 1860s to the present: war. The return of veterans from combat appears to correlate more closely with Klan membership than any other historical factor. “Military veterans facing significant challenges reintegrating into their communities could lead to the potential emergence of terrorist groups or lone wolf extremists carrying out violent attacks,” the report warned. The agency was “concerned that right-wing extremists will attempt to recruit and radicalize returning veterans in order to boost their violent capabilities.”The report raised intense blowback from the American Legion, Fox News and conservative members of Congress. . . . The department shelved the report, removing it from its website. The threat, however, proved real.Mr. Miller obviously represents an extreme, both in his politics and in his violence. A vast majority of veterans are neither violent nor mentally ill. When they turn violent, they often harm themselves, by committing suicide. But it would be irresponsible to overlook the high rates of combat trauma among the 2.4 million Americans who have served in our wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the full impact of which has not yet materialized.When we interpret shootings like the one on Sunday as acts of mad, lone-wolf gunmen, we fail to see white power as an organized — and deadly — social movement.That Mr. Miller was able to carry out an act of domestic terror at two locations despite his history of violent behavior should alarm anyone concerned about public safety. Would he have received greater scrutiny had he been a Muslim, a foreigner, not white, not a veteran? The answer is clear, and alarming.
I would go on and argue that the separation of the white supremacy groups and far right Christian organizations - Family Research Council is a perfect example given Tony Perkins' past white supremacist ties - is far less than people want to believe. Both types of groups preach hate - the only difference is the degree to which they have so far been willing to use violence.