Saturday, May 24, 2014

Saturday Morning Male Beauty

Insanity Reigns at Family Research Council's Watchmen on the Walls Coven

The Christofascist seem to be working in overdrive to depict themselves - and indirectly the Republican Party - as utterly batshit crazy.  Leading the effort is hate group Family Research Council which has brought together a coven of religious extremists and the utterly insane at its "Watchmen on the Walls" conference.  Based on the batshitery that has reigned at the event, the only watchmen needed are those to keep the attendees locked up in an asylum.  Both Franklin Graham - who seems to be striving to destroy his father's legacy - and KKK loving Tony Perkins were among the delusional, hate mongering speakers.  Right Wing Watch captured the spittle flecked craziness.  Here are highlights, starting with Franklin Graham:
Franklin Graham spoke at the Family Research Council's Watchmen on the Walls conference yesterday where he told the assembled pastors that they needed to be willing to have their heads chopped off for speaking the truth that gays are bound for hell.

"Are we going to be cowards because we're afraid?," Graham asked the crowd. "Could we get our heads chopped off? We could, maybe one day.  So what? Chop it off!"

Graham went on to assert that he loves gays "enough to care to warn them that if they want to continue living like this, it's the flames of hell for you" and he will continue to do so because he will one day have to answer to God and does not want to be found to have been a coward who refused to preach God's laws.
Not to be out done, Perkins via radio ranted that gay marriage will be the end of America:

Tony Perkins, who has previously claimed that marriage equality will lead to a “revolution” and “break this nation apart,” told Janet Mefferd yesterday that he believes advances in gay rights are bringing about the “dissolution of the republic.”   . . . . the marriage debate is “is literally about the entire culture: it’s about the rule of law, it’s about the country, it’s about our future, it’s about redefining the curriculum in our schools, it’s about driving a wedge between parent and child, it’s about the loss of religious freedom, it’s about the inability to be who we are as a people.

Perkins said gay rights advocates are “sowing the seeds of the disillusion of our republic.”

“Once we lose the rule of law, we’ve lost what holds us together and I think there’s coming a point that they’re going to push Christians to a point where they’re not going to be pushed anymore and I think we’re very quickly coming to that point,” he said.
Is Perkins arguing for armed revolt?  If so, let's have him arrested for sedition.  Given his KKK past, I bet "Big Bubba" would give Perkins an "education" in the cell block.

What is truly frightening is that Perkins was allowed to draft a portion of the 2012 GOP Platform.  It's a testament to how insane today's GOP has become.

Elaine Donnelly: The Face of Anti-LGBT Hate

If Bob Marshall wants to be the king of GOP crazy land, Elaine Donnelly (pictured above) wants to be its queen.  Like Marshall, Donnelly is utterly obsessed with gays and has made a cottage industry career out of seeking to keep gays out of the military.   Her vehicle for this effort has been the so-called Center for Military Readiness (CMR) which, like Bill Donohue's Catholic League, is basically a two person operation.  And other than a Reagan era window dressing appointment, Donnelly has zero experience in or with the U. S. military.  But a lack of any legitimate credentials never seems to deter the faux experts of the far right, especially those claiming to support "Christian values."  Think Progress has a profile of Donnelly who, like Bob Marshall, best belongs in a mental institution.  Here are some excerpts:
In 1993, as Congress considered whether to let President Bill Clinton keep his campaign promise to lift the military’s ban on gay, lesbian, and bisexual service members, Elaine Donnelly took to CNN to warn that doing so would cost the nation millions and destroy the U.S. Armed Forces. “We don’t feel that the soldiers who defend our country should be subjected to this kind of social experimentation. It’s not fair to them. It’s not good for our national defense. And I don’t think that the Congress is going to stand for it. The American people will not stand for it.”

Donnelly’s concern wasn’t just that non-heterosexual soldiers and sailors would distract their straight colleagues — but that they might bankrupt the national treasury. If gay, lesbian, and bisexual Americans were allowed to join, she explained, they would rush to join to receive the “quite generous” medical benefits offered: “If we apply that to those who are at high risk of AIDS — we already know there are 10,000 non-deployable soldiers and their cost of care is about $200,000 each. It’s a very high amount. We’re giving an incentive to apply what is available to heterosexuals to the homosexual population, and that really is an explosive idea.”

Though her dire predictions have proven consistently wrong and her fundraising has declined significantly, more than two decades later, Donnelly and her Center for Military Readiness (CMR) are still leading the fight for discrimination in the military — now working to preserve the military’s current ban on transgender service members.

Elaine Donnelly got her start as a deputy in the fight against equal legal treatment for women, as a culture warrior under anti-feminist legend Phyllis Schlafly. In the 1970s and 80s, she served as national media chair for Schlafly’s Stop E.R.A. campaign, fighting against ratification of the proposed Equal Rights Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. 

In 1984, Donnelly was appointed to the Reagan administration’s Defense Advisory Committee on Women in the Services and took part in the committee’s study on whether women should be allowed in some combat roles. Donnelly opposed the committee’s recommended expansion.

In 1993, with Schlafly’s support, Donnelly formed the Coalition for Military Readiness, soon after renamed the Center for Military Readiness. The stated mission of the tax-exempt “educational organization”: promoting “high standards and sound priorities in the making of military personnel policies,” and “defending elements of military culture that are essential for morale and readiness in the All-Volunteer Force.” Its advisory board included a who’s who of conservatives including anti-Islam activists Frank Gaffney and David Horowitz, affirmative action opponent Ward Connerly, Focus on the Family founder James Dobson, and National Review Institute president Kate Walsh O’Beirne

For most of this time, Donnelly was the sole employee, receiving an average salary of about $50,000 annually. In some years, a small amount of money was also paid to her husband, Terry Donnelly, for admin work; the group’s executive director Tommy Sears seemingly works without pay. In 2011, Terry Donnelly told the Huffington Post, “We just try to put together enough money for Elaine to do her research,” and that CMR is their sole source of income.

In practice, CMR has been most visible in its two losing battles — the effort to keep women out of combat and to keep LGBT people out of the military.  . . . . Donnelly and CMR not only opposed the “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” compromise from the beginning, they actively argued for a return to the days of outright prohibition.

In 2008, Donnelly traveled from her Livonia, Michigan home to Washington, DC, to address the U.S. House Armed Services Committee’s military personnel subcommittee. . . . . Raising the specter of having to allow “transgenders in the military,” “HIV positivity,” and of a “sexualized atmosphere in our Armed Forces,” she told the committee it should keep the current rule in place, but should also consider once again asking applicants their sexual orientation to avoid having to train people who are not eligible to be in the military.

The Washington Post’s Dana Milbank wrote that, “Inadvertently, Donnelly achieved the opposite of her intended effect,” and her comments “had the effect of increasing bipartisan sympathy for the cause.”

Predictably, with its signature issue [DADT] now gone, funding for CMR dropped in 2011 and 2012. Contributions and grants dropped to $128,877 and then $111,036 — and Donnelly’s salary fell first to $31,639 and then to $24,950. 

In need of a new message, the Center first moved to try to ensure the military not recognize same-sex relationships. . . . .  But this message too became largely moot last June when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled the Defense of Marriage Act unconstitutional — meaning that same-sex marriages must be equally recognized by the military.
But it appears Donnelly and her Center have recently found one more battle to fight. While the 2010 Don’t Ask Don’t Tell repeal ended the ban on allowing gay, lesbian, and bisexual Americans to serve openly, it did not end the military’s ban on transgender service members.

Seizing on a similar issue to its old favorite, the Center for Military Readiness quickly moved to claim its traditional role of chief defender of exclusion. Donnelly has already hauled out the arguments she has used so often against gay, lesbian, and bisexual service members and women in combat — now arguing that transgender inclusion would cost too much and would make people uncomfortable.
One take away from the article is the question of why the GOP gives any recognition or credence to crackpot organization like Donnelly's and far too many other "ministries" and rackets that are ultimately merely vehicles for a few nutcases to make a living peddling hatred and discrimination.  Anyone other that tawdry political whores ought to run screaming the moment they hear Donnelly's name. 

Gay Hater Bob Marshall Continues Quest to Impeach Mark Herring

I have noted that I increasingly believe that Christofascists suffer from a form of mental illness.  Need an example?  Look no farther than GOP Del. Bob Marshall (pictured above) who remains absolutely obsessed with inflicting legal harm on LGBT Virginians.  One has to wonder what bizarre aspect of Marshall's psyche drives him to such extreme lengths to harm those he doesn't even know. Marshall's newest target of this obsession is Virginia Attorney General who refused to defend Virginia's ban on gay marriage, which, like similar bans across the country was ruled to be unconstitutional.  Like too many Virginia Republicans, Marshall refuses to grasp the basic principal that the U.S. Constitution ALWAYS overrides state constitutions.  A piece in Think Progress looks at Marshall's spittle flecked diatribe sent out via e-mail arguing in support of his effort to impeach Mark Herring - and any judge who rules in favor of gay marriage.  The man is truly a mental case (as are the voters in his district who vote for this lunatic).  Here are article excerpts:
Virginia Del. Bob Marshall (R) is a longtime opponent of LGBT equality, and he’s now calling for the impeachment of Attorney General Mark Herring (D), primarily for his refusal to defend the state’s ban on same-sex marriage. Marshall filed the resolutions seeking an inquiry for Herring’s impeachment last week, but in a new email to supporters, he outlined his reasons for doing so. “Removing all standards against same sex or sodomy ‘marriage,’” he explained, is “to the detriment of children and the well-being of society.”

According to Marshall, “Mark Herring’s actions constitute a radical structural alteration in our representative form of government.” . . . Marshall also claims he “usurped legislative authority” by inviting undocumented immigrants (DREAMers) to pay in-state tuition rates at Virginia state school.

Marshall’s attacks include something that Herring did not actually even do. According to the email alert, Herring publicly announced that he is allowing same-sex couples to file joint tax returns, but Herring has made no such announcement.

In the email, Marshall also extended a threat to impeach judges who might overturn bans on same-sex marriage. Rulings based on the 14th Amendment’s equal protection “make no sense,” he argued, because when that Amendment was ratified, “sodomy was a felony in nearly every state.”

A long reputation of anti-gay comments precedes Marshall’s impeachment attempts. In 2012, he opposed the appointment of openly gay Judge Tracy Thorne-Begland because “sodomy is not a civil right.” In a 2011 letter attacking Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley (D) for supporting marriage equality, Marshall compared homosexuality to pedophilia, prostitution, polygamy, necrophilia, and bestiality. He believes that homosexuality is a “disordered behavior” and after the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” he tried to ban “active homosexuals” from joining the Virginia National Guard.
As of this morning, Marshall’s public petition to seeking to garner support for Herring’s impeachment has totaled 270 signatures, a large number of which are taking shots at Marshall, not Mark Herring.  Here are few of the "names" signed on the petition:

“FuckYou Bob.” 
"Fuck me in the ass bob Please"
"BobMarshalls ButtBoy"
"DisBar BobMarshall"
"Bob Yousukdik"
"Eat A Dick You Clown"
"Asshole of the Year"

You get the drift! :-) 

Shifting Views on Gay Marriage Now Favor Democrats

In 2004 the foul Karl Rove and Chimperator George W. Bush used anti-gay animus to turn out conservative voters to reelected Bush's worthless ass and plunge the nation into another four years of misrule.  Now, a mere ten years later, outside of the swamp fever ridden Christofacist/Tea Party base of the GOP, anti-gay propaganda plays less well.  In fact, the issue of gay marriage now favors Democrats and Republicans increasingly find their anti-gay message of hate finding less and less favor.  The challenge for the Republicans over the long will be finding a way to silence the Christofascists who refuse to see the reality that they are on the wrong side of history and that a majority of American now view them as toxic.  A piece at NBC News 29 looks at this about turn.  Here are highlights:
It wasn't all that long ago that Republicans used gay marriage as a tool to drive Election Day turnout. But as public opinion on the issue has turned and courts strike down same-sex marriage bans, gay rights is evolving into a wedge issue for Democrats to wield.

Consider Pennsylvania, where Democrats have lambasted Republican Gov. Tom Corbett for comparing gay marriage to incest. Facing a tough re-election campaign, Corbett decided this week not to appeal a federal court ruling striking down the state's ban of gay marriage.

Or Colorado, where Democratic Sen. Mark Udall is hitting his Republican challenger for casting votes that denied gay people protection from discrimination. In Arizona, Democrats plan to hammer Republican legislators who passed a law allowing businesses to refuse to serve gays for religious reasons.

"We're just beginning to see this, and we will see a lot more in the midterms," said Richard Socarides, an activist who was President Bill Clinton's adviser on gay rights. "It will be an incredible shift by the time we get to the (presidential) election in 2016."

Republican activists put anti-gay marriage initiatives on the ballot in 11 states in 2004, helping President George W. Bush win re-election with the support of conservative religious voters motivated to turn out to support the bans.

Connie Mackey, head of the conservative Family Research Council's Political Action Committee, said that's still a solid strategy. Voters still oppose gay marriage, she argued, and Republicans should not let themselves get faked out by overconfident Democrats.

"The people in the states think one way and the establishment and the courts are showing a different face," Mackey said.

But gay marriage, supported by less than one-third of Americans in 2004, is now supported by a solid majority in recent polls, with approval highest among younger voters. Some Republicans believe that mounting public support represents a danger to their party, and they are scrambling to prevent Democrats from using the issue of gay rights in the same way some in their own party did for years.

"They want to bait Republicans into talking about the issue in a way that ties them to a negative, national Republican brand," said Kevin Madden, a Republican strategist who hasn't taken a position on gay marriage. "They need to stir up their base and create outrage."

"This is something that really drives a wedge through their party and motivates turnout in ours, and it's the right thing to do," said D.J. Quinlan, executive director of the Arizona Democratic Party.  

"A lot of these moderate, independent voters want people who are not haters," said Steve Elmendorf, a Democratic lobbyist and chair of the Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund.

Seeking re-election this year against GOP Rep. Cory Gardner, Udall has highlighted his opponent's support as a state lawmaker for laws barring adoption by gay parents and opposition to adding protections for gay people to nondiscrimination clauses. "This is a key difference between Rep. Gardner and me," Udall said in an interview.

I have always viewed the Christofascists to be a threat to the GOP even as far back as 20 years ago.  They are untethered from reality and have a mindset akin to their fellow religious extremists in the Taliban.  Thankfully, more and more Americans are rejecting their message of hate and fear and seeing them for the selfish, unkind, hypocritical people that they are.  I for one hope the trend accelerates and forces the GOP to jettison them entirely.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Friday Morning Male Beauty

American Missionaries Largest Export to Uganda: Homophobia

I have looked at the vile export of hatred to Uganda by American Christofascists before, but it is a story line that needs repeating because many of the same players are now targeting additional countries ranging from Russia to parts of South America.  Wherever these Christofascists go, their main export is hatred, homophobia and the embrace of ignorance.  Worse yet, they prey on populations who seemingly cannot see the evil of the Christofascists' intentions.  A piece that looks at the documentary film, “God Loves Uganda” traces the foul road map favored by the exporters of hatred.  Here are highlights:
In his documentary “God Loves Uganda”, he [Roger Ross Williams] traces the fervent homophobia to American missionaries.  The documentary focuses on the involvement of International House of Prayer, young missionaries and evangelicals Rick Warren, Scott Lively and Lou Engle in Uganda.

With Uganda’s turbulent past, Idi Amin’s murderous reign and the civil war, leaving a wake of destruction throughout the country, compiled with the country’s battle with HIV/AIDS it was a ripe destination for American missionaries and aid workers. In a Vox interview William explains, “Uganda was the perfect place for people from America to move in and help rebuild. [The Americans] did a lot of great work, but they also came in with a specific ideology of faith: that the Bible reigns supreme.

The rhetoric brought by evangelicals and missionaries has had an explosive impact. In a conference attended by thousands of Ugandans, American evangelicals, self-proclaimed “experts” on homosexuality, warned Ugandans of the evils of homosexuality.  Scott Lively, author of The Pink Swastika, animated to the crowd the supposed desire of gays to take over the world, recruit young people and how their existence destroys society by increasing divorce, child abuse, and HIV/AIDS.  He goes further stating, the legalization essentially means condoning “molestation of children or having sex with animals.” 

There are several layers to the American involvement starting with the doe-eyed missionaries to well-endowed calculated neoconservative think tanks like Institute on Religion and Democracy.  Conservatives, the American evangelical community and fundamentalists feel they have lost significant ground in the US “culture war”, therefore they moved to where they can win and they are.

Ugandan politicians have encouraged this fervor of homophobia, partially because it is a distraction. It is easier to pin the ails of a country on a minority group than on the true issue – failure of government. It doesn’t hurt that many of these hate-inducing organizations are pouring millions of dollars directly into politicians and religious figures with little to no accountability, unlike foreign aid. 

Atrocities keep occurring in the name of religion, usually carried out by a well-intentioned devotee, slavery, colonization, the holocaust and now murder inciting homophobia. This isn’t about whether homosexulity is moral or immoral but about people bumbling into different cultures and societies carelessly spewing rhetoric without considering or an understanding of the impact.
Religion needs to be driven from the public square and driven from the formulation of public policy.  A true review of religions fruits shows that the legacy of death, destruction - genocide in some instances - and unreasoning hatred far outweighs any periphery charitable endeavors.   Yes, nowadays there are decent denominations and good Christians, but sadly, they are in the small minority across the spectrum of the centuries.

The GOP, Still Drinking The Tea

As the prior post underscores, ignorance of history has set the stage for the rise of the Tea Party and the re-writing of history so favored by the Christofascists.  If one knows accurate history, one doesn't fall for the Tea Party lies which are akin to the Christofascists' picking and choosing of Bible passages to support their pet hatreds and prejudices while ignoring the larger Gospel message in its entirety.  The result today is that the Republican Party as a whole has swung far to the right - so far, in fact that much of the once rational "GOP establishment" is nearly as unhinged and ignorant as the party base where ignorance is embraced as a badge of honor.  My father-in-law somehow got on the mailing list of right wing/GOP organizations and believe me, these folks are targeting the ignorant and uninformed with lies that shock the conscience (we throw it all in the trash where it belongs).  A  column in the Washington Post looks at this troubling reality:
What’s happening in the Republican primaries is less a defeat for the tea party than a surrender by the GOP establishment, which is winning key races by accepting the tea party’s radical anti-government philosophy.

Anyone who hopes the party has finally come to its senses will be disappointed. Republicans have pragmatically decided not to concede Senate elections by nominating eccentrics and crackpots. But in persuading the party’s activist base to come along, establishment leaders have pledged fealty to eccentric, crackpot ideas.

House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio . . . .  said Tuesday that there isn’t “that big a difference between what you all call the tea party and your average conservative Republican. We’re against Obamacare, we think taxes are too high, we think the government’s too big.”

But is it reasonable for Republicans to keep voting to repeal all or part of the Affordable Care Act — more than 50 times, so far — knowing full well that they have zero chance of success? Does it make sense, if taxes are excessive, to refuse President Obama’s invitation to begin serious talks about tax reform?

If Boehner wanted to be honest, he’d have said that his party is in favor of posturing and is opposed to reality.

As for the “government’s too big” part, this traditional GOP mantra has become — thanks to the tea party — a weapon of spite, not a statement of policy.

The victories by establishment-backed Republicans in Senate primaries hold no promise that the party is ready to stop throwing tantrums and begin governing. They do ensure, however, that Democrats will have few, if any, “gimme” races this fall. None of the GOP contenders nominated thus far is likely to self-immolate in the manner of, say, Christine O’Donnell, . . . 

Nothing I’ve seen in the primary results so far suggests that the Republican Party is tempering its views or weakening its implacable opposition to anything the Obama administration proposes. To the contrary, the GOP slate promises to display a remarkable degree of far-right ideological purity. Republican candidates simply cannot risk being called “moderate.”

Democrats must not let voters be fooled. Yes, tea party candidates are going down. But the tea party’s extremism and obstructionism live on.
Insanity and lunacy are now the GOP norm.  Sane Americans need to open their eyes to this reality  and make sure they support Democrats and get out to the polls come November.

Far Right Demagoguery: The Dangers of Not Knowing History

One of the incessant agenda items of the far right is to dumb down Americans' knowledge of history because those who do not know history are much more easily duped.  A prime example, of course, is the Christofascist created myth that America was founded as a "Christian nation" even though the writings of the Founding Fathers underscore the lie to the claim.  They get away with it because increasingly, fewer and fewer Americans are being taught the nation's true history.  The reasons are many and include the current emphasis on math and science to the detriment of government and history courses.  Also relevant is the dire situation in our training of teachers that puts little emphasis on content knowledge.  Here in Virginia, a History PhD could not teach high school history given the many bull shit education courses that are required for licensing.  A column in the New York Times looks at the frightening ignorance of far too many Americans when it comes to history and the dangers this poses for demagogues.  Here are excerpts:
Ask a high school senior what the Great War was all about and you’re likely to get a shrug or a stab based on a recent episode of “Game of Thrones.” Hint: its 100th anniversary is this year. Hint: globe-straddling old empires collapsed and new horrors, from genocide to slaughter by poisonous gas, were ushered in. Hint: its repercussions are with us still, from Syria to Russia to the American role as international cop.

If you said “First World War,” you’re at the top of the class. The perception that we’re raising a nation of doofi about the past was generated, in part, by a 2010 report that only 12 percent of students in their last year of high school had a firm grasp of our nation’s history. Add to that a 2011 Pew study showing that nearly half of Americans think the main cause of the Civil War was a dispute over federal authority — not slavery — and you’ve got a serious national memory hole.

But before blaming the victims, look at the top. Opinion leaders, corporate titans, politicians, media personalities and educators — dunce caps for all. Even the History Channel now does very little history, with a menu heavy on swamp people, big rigs and pawn stars.

Of late, you had the venture capitalist Tom Perkins compare the call for higher taxes in the United States to Kristallnacht, the state-sanctioned, anti-Jewish riots in Nazi Germany of 1938. Anyone who is literate about history would never liken a rampage that burned or destroyed 267 synagogues, vandalized 7,500 businesses and killed at least 91 Jewish people to progressive taxation.

This was followed by a claim from Ken Langone, the Home Depot co-founder and big-time Republican Party donor, comparing the plight of our country’s very rich to the objects of Hitler’s wrath.

Nazis and slavery are the two big topics that consistently draw out the woefully ignorant, and prompt the most facile analogies. But more recent events can also produce conclusions based on a limited understanding of the past.

On the media-celebrity side, we can only hope nobody is getting their history from Sarah Palin, who famously had to be schooled on the origin of the Korean War, among other things, after being picked as the Republican vice presidential candidate in 2008. She recently declared that torture is as American as Sunday school. “If I were in charge, they would know that waterboarding is how we baptize terrorists,” she said, to great applause at a convention of gun fanatics.

One doesn’t expect Palin to know that the Eighth Amendment prohibits “cruel and unusual punishment,” or that torture is banned by international treaties signed by the United States. But is it too much to ask for her to realize that Imperial Japan, our enemy in World War II, was prosecuted for waterboarding?

Educators, not just those in thrall to teaching to “the test,” share plenty of the blame for “raising young people who are, by and large, historically illiterate,” as David McCullough called the problem. For educational malfeasance this year, look to the assignment given eighth graders in the Rialto, Calif., school district. Students were asked to consider whether the Holocaust was created for political gain or didn’t happen at all — a bit of homework the Simon Wiesenthal Center called “grotesque.”

[M]any schools no longer stress “civics,” or some variation of it. Why? Students complain that it’s boring, or the standards are too demanding. Civics, said [Ken] Burns, is “the operating system” for citizenry; if you know how government is constructed, it’s no longer a complicated muddle, but a beautiful design.

[H]istory may hurt, but without proper understanding of it, you can’t understand contemporary American life and politics.

He also mentioned how immigrants may know more about history than fifth-generation natives. To pass a citizenship test, they are required to learn things about the glory and infamy, the power and abuses — the operating system — of this democracy. It’s not too onerous to ask the same thing of 18-year-olds across the land. You can’t fix stupid, as the comic line goes; but you don’t have to teach it.

As I said, if one doesn't know history, one cannot make informed decisions on issue of government or foreign policy, the Iraq and Afghanistan fiascoes being recent examples of what ignorance of history can set into motion and how a ignorant public can be easily duped with deliberate lies.

PolitiFact Virginia: GOP Claims on Medicaid Fraud Mostly False

Despite the many common sense reasons to expand Medicaid in Virginia under the Affordable Health Care Act, Virginia Republicans remain adamant that they will do nothing but thwart the health care law in their outrage that a black man occupies the White House.  Remember, "Obamacare" is based on a Heritage Foundation (hardly a liberal organization) model and was first implemented in Massachusetts under Mitt Romney, a Republican.  But with today's GOP, especially here in Virginia, facts simply no longer matter.  Take the Virginia GOP's other supposed reason for opposing Medicaid expansion: alleged fraud and pictures of "welfare queens" making out like bandits as a result.  The reality?  Something very different as the Richmond Times Dispatch notes in an editorial.  Here are excerpts:
The welfare queens have returned. During the 1970s and 1980s, certain conservatives cited alleged examples of people owning Cadillacs and living the high life despite relying on welfare. Ronald Reagan and others used the stories to undermine support for welfare generally. Waste, fraud and abuse were cheating the taxpayers. The charges had ugly racial connotations as well.

Virginia Republicans raise the specter of fraud when arguing against the expansion of Medicaid. The racial component does not taint their stance; their problem, however, is that the numbers do not correspond to their complaints. 

PolitiFact Virginia rates as mostly false GOP claims that last year the Medicaid Fraud Control Unit in Virginia alone recovered more than $200 million.

PolitiFact also reports that a massive settlement regarding Medicaid fraud involved a pharmaceutical company that pleaded guilty to misbranding a drug used in treatments for mental illness. And therein lies another story.

Medicaid fraud does not resemble the abuse associated with welfare queens. Those who benefit financially from fraud and abuse in government health care programs often are corporations and practitioners. Medicaid patients do not pocket the cash. Health professionals do.

The incidence of fraud among those who make lucrative livings treating the infirm is not a valid reason to oppose expanded coverage for the least among us.

Other than ignoring the insidious racial element to the Virginia GOP's opposition - which isn't surprising given the Times Dispatch's general right wing orientation - the piece is 100% on target.  The Virginia GOP is simply lying and deliberately so in the hope that its race baiting will keep the increasingly white supremacist party base fired up and angry.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

More Thursday Male Beauty

Virginia Judge Reverses Himself, Grants Transwoman Name Change

Currently, the ONLY protections LGBT Virginians have under Virginia law appear in the Virginia Canons of Judicial Conduct which among other things in Canon 3 require judges who cannot remain unbiased and objective based on a litigants sexual orientation to recuse themselves.  In plain English, this means that they must not hear the case and defer the case to a different judge.  Sadly, far too many Virginia judges ignore the Canons and the enforcement of the Canons is to say the least almost nonexistent.  In my divorce, the judge was a far right Catholic who viewed being gay as a "choice" and sought to punish me accordingly.  Now, a Lynchburg, Virginia judge (who was formerly legal counsel at the late Jerry Falwell's lunatic Liberty University and a legislative aid to one of the authors of Virginia's anti-gay marriage ban) has reversed himself and decided to grant a name change to a transwoman (pictured above) after previously denying the petition.  Whether the judge's change of course was due to negative media coverage or a realization that he might face consequences we will never know.  Gay RVA has details.  Here are highlights:
In a reversal of his original decision, Lynchburg judge F. Patrick Yeatts has granted transwoman Julianna Fialkowski a name change.

Lawyer Kate Fletcher received the information late this afternoon via fax. She suggested it was the brief she filed, combined with the press around the issue, which led the judge to rule based on the statute which is what they had asked for all along.

“Julianna has complied with the statute and wasn’t requesting the name change for fraudulent purpose, nor to infringe on anyones rights,” said Fletcher. “There for he is granting the request.”

She has a message for other who fear they might have to go through a similar experience when they seek a name change. “I don’t think holding back on account of being afraid for yourself is necessary;” Fialkowski said. “If enough support is sought after, it will be found.”

She told GayRVA earlier this week  Judge Yeatts said her the case was under “extra scrutiny” and it would be put under advisement after asking her medically specific questions pertaining to her transition, something not relevant to a name change request.

This line of questioning lead Fialkowski to believe she was being unfairly discriminated against.  Even in traditionally conservative Lynchburg, Fialkowski said she hadn’t ”faced any discrimination up until this point.”

Yeatts served as counsel to Jerry Falwell’s conservative Liberty University in the 90′s, and he was a legislative aide for state Sen. Stephen Newman when the Senator wrote VA’s constitutional ban on same-sex marriage, the Marshall-Newman amendment. He was elected to the Lynchburg Judgeship in 2011 by the state’s General Assembly.

Virginia’s name change laws are some of the easiest in the nation. The process consists of a few forms and a small fee. When GayRVA reached out for legal advice for those denied a name change, lawyers were surprised to hear it even happens.

“There is nothing in the statute that requires the applicant provide medical information. The application merely requires some demographic information (e.g. name, address, parent’s names, prior name changes etc.) and whether or not you are a felon or are incarcerated. The statute indicates that the name change will be granted unless the name change is being done for a fraudulent purpose or infringes upon someone else’s rights,” said Fletcher earlier this week.

But Fletcher wasn’t sure this would be the last time such a case of discrimination would pop up again in rural Virginia.  “I think it might happen again, but I think if it goes to a hearing we would be successful,” said Fletcher.
Unfortunately, under Virginia's judicial appointment system, partisanship and adherence to party platform mean more than one's likely competence  on the bench.  Given the GOP strangle hold on the House of Delegates, religious extremism definitely counts more than legal competence.  Yeatts is far from the only bigoted judge pushed through by Virginia Republicans.

The Hillary Clinton Haters Can’t Quit the Crazy

As noted in a recent blog post, some in the GOP base - and, of course some in the conservative pundit class - simply cannot let go of their hatred for the Clintons, and in some instances Hillary in particular (to far right extremists, nothing is worse than an uppity woman unless its the brain dead Sarah Palin or a black man in the White House).  It is part and parcel with the GOP's run away train swing to crazy land.  A piece in The Daily Beast looks at the Hillary hater's inability to let go of their lunacy.  Here are highlights:
They were called “The Clinton Crazies.” It was the 1990s and while the rest of the nation seemed to bask in an era of nearly unprecedented peace and prosperity, they saw all manner of dark deeds emanating from the White House. To them, Bill Clinton, enabled by his wife, was a serial rapist, a drug-runner, a closet racist, a cocaine addict, someone who ordered the murder of close friends and aides.

When Hillary Clinton referred to the Vast Right Wing Conspiracy, she meant them. They wore the epithet like a badge of pride.

It has now been two decades since American politics seemed overrun with a cadre of conservative journalists, opposition researchers, and Republican lawmakers committed to bringing down the president, despite what they saw as the mainstream media’s efforts to protect him. In those intervening years, Clinton’s approval ratings have sky-rocketed as he matures into the role of globe-trotting elder statesman. His wife frequently tops the list of most admired women in the world.

Over the last several weeks, The Daily Beast tracked down more than a dozen Clinton accusers, conspiracy mongers and dirty tricksters. Almost to a person, they look back on the Clinton years as one of the most exciting times of their lives, a time when Washington was crawling with all manner of rumor and allegation (most of which originated in Arkansas, a state largely mysterious to most Beltway types) and the presidency seemed likely to topple at any moment.

Farah [Joseph Farah, the editor of, a/k/a Wing Nut Daily on this blog] remains largely unrepentant, convinced as ever that “with Bill and Hillary there are some fundamental character problems, and I haven’t seen any improvement. They have always been very power hungry, wealth hungry, and motivated only by what is good for them.”As for the notion of a vast right-wing conspiracy, Farah and other reputed members say that it never existed.

Farah is not alone among Clinton conspirators with his lack of self-doubt about his work back in the ’90’s.  But there are some soldiers of the Clinton Wars, comrades in arms with Farah and his ilk, who look back on those days and cringe. Richard Mellon Scaife, who helped fund the so-called “The Arkansas Project”—which sent opposition researchers to Clinton’s home state to find out where the bodies (or bimbos) were buried—was once described in the New York Times as a “charter member of the vast right wing conspiracy,” but now counts himself a Clinton admirer. David Brock, a conservative journalist whose investigations helped spur the “Troopergate” investigations, today runs a liberal media watchdog site.

“Scaife and Ruddy have run from what they did,” said Farah. “Without any real explanation that makes any sense. You won’t see them talking about Vince Foster any more. They think Clinton has grown up since leaving the presidency, that he is somehow a changed man. Well, maybe they are the ones that changed.”

The fervor in right-wing circles over the Clinton presidency made media heroes out a few figures still around, like Rush Limbaugh, Ann Coulter, and Matt Drudge.

[O]thers remain in them, still battling, but with little to show for a cause they have committed so much of their life to. Kathleen Willey was a White House volunteer who said she was groped by Bill Clinton in the Oval Office in 1993. Her claims were largely discredited, and now widowed and divorced, she has dedicated her life to proving that Clinton is “a serial predator.”

She wrote a book: Target: Caught in The Crosshairs of Bill and Hillary Clinton, but aside from the occasional Fox News appearance, has found few venues willing to give her an airing and fewer employment prospects.

In 1994, Patrick Matrisciana produced a film called The Clinton Chronicles that was, according to its subtitle, “An Investigation Into The Alleged Criminal Activities Of Bill Clinton.” Over 500,000 copies found their way into circulation, but the distribution company that Matrisciana founded, Jeremiah Films, was since shut down (his son operates a rebooted version of it), and he has no plans to do another film on the Clintons.

If, as expected, Hillary Clinton runs for president, it remains to be seen how much the vast right-wing conspiracy will reconstitute itself.  Those who regret their role in the Clinton Wars think that it is a mistake to rehash Benghazi, never mind Vince Foster or Katherine Willey.

But those who think that Clinton was one of history’s great scoundrels are gearing up for a sequel. Even if they failed to much derail the first President Clinton, who is to say a further airing of the allegations won’t slow the potential second?

I'm sorry, but as much as I was not always a Clinton fan, these people are simply crazy and have never heard of the concept of letting go and moving on with life.  Sadly, it is a trait all too common among the spittle flecked base of today's Republican Party.

Which Federal Judge Will be First to Rule Against Same Sex Marriage?

The speed with which state same sex marriage bans - gay marriage bans if you prefer - have fallen has been near breath taking.  But one has to wonder when and where the first federal judge will ignore the reasoning of the Supreme Court ruling in United States v. Windsor and vote to uphold state sponsored discrimination notwithstanding the similarly clear language of the 14th Amendment to the United States Constitution.  Not surprisingly given Virginia's horrific history of discrimination - Virginia was among the first of the Southern states to enact Jim Crow laws, bears the shame of "Massive Resistance", and of course, there's Loving v. Virginia that ended two rulings of the Virginia Supreme Court upholding bans on interracial marriage - one of these judges sits on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit based in Richmond, Virginia, former capital of the Confederate States of America.  A post at Constitutional Accountability Center names the likely anti-gay bigots on the federal bench.  Here are excerpts:
Since December, when U.S. District Judge Robert Shelby declared that Utah’s refusal to allow same-sex couples to marry is unconstitutional, similar rulings by judges in other states across the country have been coming fast and furious This week alone, judges in Oregon and Pennsylvania struck down those states’ discriminatory marriage laws.  And in between, rulings overturning marriage bans have been handed down in states including Oklahoma, Virginia, Idaho, Texas, Michigan, Arkansas, and Illinois.

All of these decisions follow inexorably from the text and history of the Fourteenth Amendment and the Supreme Court’s precedents protecting the fundamental right of marriage and upholding the Constitution’s guarantee of equal protection for all, including its ruling last June in United States v. Windsor striking down the provision of the “Defense of Marriage Act” denying federal recognition to same-sex marriages recognized under state law.

The judges who have issued these post-Windsor rulings are a diverse group.  Some were appointed to the federal bench by Republican presidents, some by Democrats.  One is an elected state court judge in Arkansas.  The judges are young, old, male, female, black, white, gay and straight. 

Demographically speaking, perhaps my personal favorite is Bernard A. Friedman of Michigan, a 70-year-old judge on senior status (a sort of semi-retirement for federal judges), put on the District Court by Ronald Reagan in 1988.   That all of these judges have come to the same conclusion about marriage equality underscores that a correct application of the Fourteenth Amendment is not a matter of ideology, but of faithful adherence to constitutional text, history and precedent.

That still doesn’t mean there isn’t some judge out there who will disagree. . . . . There are enough judges scattered around the courts with erroneously cramped views of the Fourteenth Amendment that, sooner or later, there may well be an outlier opinion, despite the ever-growing body of case law to the contrary.

In fact, given some of the questions asked during the recent oral arguments before the United States Courts of Appeals in the Utah, Oklahoma, and Virginia marriage equality cases, it’s possible that a pair of Pauls might be the first judges to leave the constitutional fold: the Tenth Circuit’s Paul Kelly, Jr. and the Fourth Circuit’s Paul Niemeyer.

If it’s not Judge Kelly or Judge Niemeyer, it’s possible it will be someone else.  And that judge, whoever he or she is, would be on the wrong side of history.  More important, that judge would be on the wrong side of the Constitution.  And that’s a legacy no judge should want.   

So, again the question remains, what judge wants to be viewed by history as the equivalent of the justices who handed down the Dred Scott ruling?  Do they not realize that they might just as well seek to hold the position of Imperial Wizard of the KKK?

Thursday Morning Male Beauty

Chris Christie Reappoints Chief Justice Who Delivered Gay Marriage Ruling

There had been speculation that New Jersey Governor Chris Christie might not reappoint New Jersey Supreme Court justice Stuart Rabner. Rabner who authored the Court's opinion striking down New Jersey's ban on same-sex marriage.  Some had believed that non-reappointment of Rabner would be Chrisite's way of satisfying Christofascists as he continues to jockey for position in the 2016 GOP presidential primary line up.  Yesterday, Christie put such fears to rest and announced that he is reappointing Rabner, no doubt to the dismay of GOP religious extremists across the country.  Here are highlights from a press release from Christie's office:
As all of you know, we have had a really vigorous and at times heated discussion about nominations to the Supreme Court over the course of the last four and a half years. And during that period of time we have traded opinions and traded disagreements and during that entire period of time though, one of the things that we don’t talk a lot about publicly but has been going on, on and off all during those four and a half years was an effort by myself and the Senate President to find common ground in places where we could and to reach compromise in places where we could. 

[T]oday we find that common ground with Chief Justice Rabner and with Judge Solomon. In the end, I have expressed very clearly my disagreements with this court and I have expressed very clearly at times disagreements that I’ve had with individual opinions of the court and I’ll continue to do so. Because I believe I have a first amendment right to do it and I think I have an obligation to do it as Governor of New Jersey when I believe that my opinions need to be expressed to explain what public policy is all about and the impact the court has on public policy. That being said though, there was I don’t think a louder or stronger voice seven years ago for Stuart Rabner to become the Chief Justice of the New Jersey Supreme Court. And over the last seven years that I’ve watched him be the Chief Justice, my respect for him has never been diminished. I’ve disagreed with him and I’ve expressed that publicly. But never have I thought that he hasn’t run the courts in a fair, effective and efficient manner
[S]o while there’s been much speculation about all of this from people who don’t know anything about what I’m really thinking, I’m really pleased to be here today and to be placing his name and nomination for tenure as Chief Justice of the court. We have known each other for 13 years and I have come to respect him over that period of time and to also consider him a friend. And so I am happy that we’re able to move forward with his nomination and I urge the Senate to give him swift consideration and confirmation.
 Can you hear Christofascist heads exploding??

Pope Francis Makes Biblical Case For Addressing Climate Change

While he has done virtually nothing to change Catholic Church dogma, including its vicious homophobia and jihad against gay rights, Pope Francis has lobbed another bomb at the feet of the Republican Party.  First there was his attack on unrestricted capitalism and the growing wealth disparity across the world which diametrically opposes Paul Ryan's economic plan.  Now, Francis has made a case for addressing climate change - something that the GOP cannot even bring itself to admit exists.  One has to wonder whether Francis had the Koch brothers in mind when he mentioned self-idolatry.  Think Progress looks at Francis' statements:
Pope Francis made the religious case for tackling climate change on Wednesday, calling on his fellow Christians to become “Custodians of Creation” and issuing a dire warning about the potentially catastrophic effects of global climate change.

Speaking to a massive crowd in Rome, the first Argentinian pope delivered a short address in which he argued that respect for the “beauty of nature and the grandeur of the cosmos” is a Christian value, noting that failure to care for the planet risks apocalyptic consequences. 

“Safeguard Creation,” he said. “Because if we destroy Creation, Creation will destroy us! Never forget this!”

The pope centered his environmentalist theology around the biblical creation story in the book of Genesis, where God is said to have created the world, declared it “good,” and charged humanity with its care. Francis also made reference to his namesake, Saint Francis of Assisi, who was a famous lover of animals, and appeared to tie the ongoing environmental crisis to economic concerns — namely, instances where a wealthy minority exploits the planet at the expense of the poor.

“Creation is not a property, which we can rule over at will; or, even less, is the property of only a few: Creation is a gift, it is a wonderful gift that God has given us, so that we care for it and we use it for the benefit of all, always with great respect and gratitude,” Francis said.

Francis also said that humanity’s destruction of the planet is a sinful act, likening it to self-idolatry. 

The pope’s comments come on the heels of a five-day summit on sustainability convened at the Vatican earlier this month. The summit, entitled “Sustainable Humanity, Sustainable Nature, Our Responsibility,” drew together microbiologists, legal scholars, economists, philosophers, astronomers, and other experts to discuss ways for the Catholic church to address a range issues caused by climate change. In a joint statement published after the close of the conference, participants echoed Francis’ belief that environmental justice and economic justice are inextricably linked.

“Human action which is not respectful of nature becomes a boomerang for human beings that creates inequality and extends what Pope Francis has termed ‘the globalization of indifference’ and the ‘economy of exclusion’ (Evangelii Gaudium), which themselves endanger solidarity with present and future generations,” the statement read.
 The GOP professes to honor Christian values, but its overall agenda is the antithesis of true Christian values.

Conservatives Draft Manifesto to Help GOP Attract Middle-Class Voters

Given the reality that the GOP base - a base cynically cultivated and to which GOP elected officials continue to prostitute themselves to - is focused largely on Gog, guns, gay bashing, and restoring white supremacy as the law of the land, the small number of rational Republicans may find it difficult to sell a new manifesto that is aimed at attracting middle class voters.  For every vote they attract, they may lose votes amongst the knuckle dragging spittle flecked crowd that dominates the GOP grass roots.  They may even find themselves labeled as RINO's - Republicans in Name Only.  Undeterred, a group that calls itself the YG Network is releasing a book - a manifesto, if you will - of ideas aimed at changing the course of the GOP.  It would be nice if it worked, but I suspect these folks fail to grasp the reality that most of the GOP is now an insane asylum.  The New York Times looks at the effort.  Here are excerpts:
Hoping to push their agenda ahead of the presidential election, a group of prominent conservatives has devised a 121-page policy manifesto aimed at giving the Republican Party a message that will attract some of the middle-class voters the party lost in recent White House races.

The document, to be unveiled Thursday, features eight essays with proposals on issues including health care, taxes and education. The authors hope the book will help Republicans address the economic anxieties of Americans and nudge the party from its most polarizing positions and constant confrontations with President Obama.

“We have to do more than ‘Stand athwart history, yelling stop,’ ” said Pete Wehner, a conservative scholar, referring to William F. Buckley Jr.’s vision for National Review, the conservative magazine he founded.

A group of right-leaning writers and policy analysts, calling themselves “reform conservatives,” have been all but pleading with Republican leaders since the 2012 presidential election to move from the Reagan-era’s small government bromides and a mere opposition to liberalism to address voters’ everyday challenges.

But there has been little appetite for embracing such an expansive agenda among Republicans, many of whom see more benefits in their confrontations with Mr. Obama over issues like the attack on the United States Mission in Benghazi, Libya.

The Republican worries outlined in the manifesto are echoed in a new Democratic research project showing their House candidates faring better when Republicans are portrayed as not caring about working-class Americans in favor of the wealthy and corporations.

The new Republican ideas are being promoted by a conservative group, the YG Network

The set of proposals in the manifesto, titled “Room to Grow: Conservative Reforms for a Limited Government and a Thriving Middle Class,” address domestic matters exclusively; there is no mention of foreign policy or any discussion of immigration, a divisive issue within the Republican Party.

Instead, the authors lay out a set of ideas that they hope elected officials and candidates can make their own: replacing the new health law with tax credits for those who do not receive employer-based coverage; a tax overhaul that benefits middle-class parents; and changes to the student loan system.

These writers and scholars thought Mitt Romney was overly focused on entrepreneurship. Kate O’Beirne, who is an adviser to the YG Network, said the 2012 Republican convention “seemed like an N.F.I.B. convention,” a reference to the National Federation of Independent Business.

“News flash: Most people don’t own their own businesses,” she said.

The “reform conservatives” also hope to avoid a repeat of some of the 2012 debates.  “There was more talk in the Republican primary debates about electrified fences than higher education,” said Mr. Wehner, referring to discussions about border security. “We’re not going to win another presidential election if that is our approach.”

It would be nice to see the GOP return to sanity.  However, it may be a mission impossible situation given the extremism of the Christofascists/Tea Party.  The Frankenstein monster is going to prove to be very difficult to kill.