Saturday, August 02, 2014

Saturday Morning Male Beauty

Millennials - And Others - Are Over Israel

Seemingly, I am not the only one who is over America's blind backing of Israel no matter what atrocities the IDF may commit (I got a letter from Senator Mark Warner in reply to my inquires that was just as mealy mouthed and unacceptable as Senator Tim Kaine's earlier in the week). A new Pew Research Center poll shows a huge generational shift in support of Israel so even though Congress has slavishly backed actions by Israel that seem aimed at genocide - several posts have appeared in the Times of Israel calling for out right genocide against Palestinians - , younger voters are not willing to close their eyes to the atrocities.  A piece in Salon looks at Israel's apparent effort to destroy long term American support for that nation.  Here are excepts:
It might seem counterintuitive to make the argument that Israel should no longer count on U.S. support for its policies as assuredly it has in the past.  After all, hasn’t the Senate just passed not one but now two resolutions by unanimous consent declaring its backing of Israel’s deadly attacks on and invasion of Gaza?

Yet even with these unambiguous resolutions emanating from the Senate, we find more and more evidence that support for Israel from the American public is slipping.  A recent report in the Washington Post noted that “A new Pew Research Center poll is the second in the past week to show a huge generational split on the current conflict in Gaza. While all age groups north of 30 years old clearly blame Hamas more than Israel for the current violence, young adults buck the trend in a big way. Among 18 to 29-year olds, 29 percent blame Israel more for the current wave of violence, while 21 percent blame Hamas.”

Clearly there are a number of possible explanations for this; here are three that come to mind.

First, . . . . As much as the world should strongly and unambiguously condemn such acts of anti-Semitism, to focus on a “second Holocaust” is to ignore the actual reason why anti-Semitism has today reared its ugly head again. It is not because of some essential, primordial racism against Jews. It is because of the actions of the state of Israel in staging a brutal, prolonged attack on the Palestinian people that is replete with violations of human rights and international law. That Hamas has also committed attacks on civilians does not erase the fact that Israel’s violence violates basic international humanitarian laws regarding proportionality.

International support for Israel is ebbing because the Holocaust narrative can no longer offer an omnipotent shield against a critique of the second narrative regarding the founding of the state of Israel.  Israel is in fact risking losing the narrative war altogether, as more and more of the global public is asking questions that probe into that history, prompted by the evidence of Israeli’s current efforts to continue and expand Israeli power and land, efforts that are now increasingly regarded not as survival tactics but as violent colonial ones.

More and more younger Americans, growing up well past the postwar era, find the Holocaust narrative to be less than absolutely and unquestionably a good reason to support the horrible killings in Gaza.  And as they learn more, their support will wane further.

Second, the massive attack on Gaza and its obscene civilian death toll is now delivered to a global audience via a variety of media forms that far exceed the mainstream media.  

Younger people are open to these modes of narrative, curious to know more, and morally puzzled and deeply concerned, and they in turn become conveyers of opinion and witnessing, as seen in the Tumblr site, TheWorldStandsWithPalestine which documents the demonstrations taking place around the world by means of uploaded photos from the participants themselves.

The Senate’s criticism of the U.N.’s findings on Gaza thus is immediately made questionable by stories like these and many others that create a cognitive dissonance in our minds between the claim of “equal violations” and the actual, not fabricated, figures that give quantitative weight to the visual images of disproportionate Palestinian death and destruction.

Finally, support for Israel is going to wane because unlike before, those who wish to criticize Israel today have already well-established and well-recognized modes of protest available to them. Most important of course is the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, which was established in 2005. 

The fact that more and more younger Americans are increasingly skeptical of supporting Israel’s military efforts is encouraging in the long run.  But we should not lose sight of the tremendous humanitarian crisis we are witnessing today. Change might be coming, but for now action is needed.
Israel may continue to plead and play the role of the victim, but the endless barrage of  photos and video clips that show what is really taking place will increasingly erode support for Israel.  Actions have consequences and the fact that Israel - and the U.S. military for that matter - may have gotten away with committing atrocities in the past no longer guarantees that such will be the case in the future.  Murdering hundreds of children is not what a victim does.  It's that simple. Netanyahu and his fellow henchmen hopefully will figure this out sooner as opposed to later.  Meanwhile, I personally support a 100% cessation of US military aid to Israel.  

Ann Coulter: Deal With Border the Way Israel Deals with Hamas

If one wants a good glimpse at the ugly racism that is now a pillar of Republican Party policy look no farther than the remarks of drag queen look-a-like Ann Coulter who would have America deal with the supposed "border crisis" by treating the undocumented children the way that "Netanyahu deals with Hamas."  With hundreds of Palestinian children being murdered by Israeli forces, the demand is horrifying.  But then again, to Coulter and much of the GOP base, if one isn't a white, heterosexual conservative Christian, one isn't really human and, therefore, murder or misery are one's due.  Perhaps the only good news is that people like Coulter are driving the younger generations not only from the GOP but from Christianity as well.  The Raw Story looks at Coulter's heinous statements:
Ann Coulter told host Sean Hannity that she wished Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was “our president,” so he could deal with our border problems the way he deals with border issues in his own country.

Comparing tunnels found at the U.S./Mexican border with tunnels used by Hamas, Coulter asserted the U.S. is being invaded.

“We need a Netanyahu here. Can you imagine all these — yes, sometimes Palestinian kids get killed, ” she said as she began to laugh. “That’s because they are, they’re associated with a terrorist organization that is harming Israel, and Netanyahu doesn’t care what the religious leaders say, weeping about Palestinian children. He doesn’t care what the UN says. He doesn’t care what the media says.”

She concludes, “We are a country, we have borders, and Netanyahu enforces them. Why can’t we do that in America?”
 Laughing about the death of children - yep, that's today's GOP.  It is down right evil.  Just like the "godly Christians" in the GOP base.

The Congressional GOP: The Face of Unreason and Hypocrisy

As a former Republican I continue to be dismayed by how low the GOP has sunk and how a party that once valued reason and logic has become a sectarian insane asylum.  Even once rational people within the party act as if they had undergone either a lobotomy or a "Stepford Wife" transformation - yes, Karen,I do mean you - that has them parroting the most idiotic catch phrases of the Tea Party.  Moreover, the party acts as if it suffers from a massive case of bi-polar disorder.  How else to explain the House GOP which wants to sue Barack Obama for use of executive orders yet now wants to throw the "border crisis" into Obama's lap to deal with via executive order.  A column in the Washington Post looks at this batshitery and hypocrisy.  Here are excerpts:

After conservatives on Thursday brought down House Speaker John Boehner’s bill to address the border crisis, the new House Republican leadership team issued a joint statement declaring that President Obama should fix the problem himself.

“There are numerous steps the president can and should be taking right now, without the need for congressional action,” the leadership quartet proclaimed, “to secure our borders and ensure these children are returned swiftly and safely to their countries.”

Just the day before, House Republicans had voted to sue Obama for using his executive authority. They called him lawless, a usurper, a monarch, a tyrant — all for postponing deadlines in the implementation of Obamacare. Now they were begging him to take executive action to compensate for their own inability to act — even though, in this case, accelerating the deportation of thousands of unaccompanied children coming from Central America would likely require Obama to ignore a 2008 law. 

This was not a momentary lapse but a wholesale upending of reason.

Apparently, if Obama is using his executive authority to advance a policy House Republicans support, it’s a meritorious exercise of presidential authority; if he uses that same authority to aid a policy they oppose, it’s time to write up articles of impeachment.

In another action this week, Republicans acknowledged, at least tacitly, that Obama has the executive authority to postpone deportations. The House majority drafted, and scheduled a vote on, legislation that would forbid the executive branch from anything that would “expand the number of aliens eligible for deferred action.”

But in proposing such legislation (which was pulled from the floor along with the border bill), Republicans implicitly acknowledged that Obama has such power now. Therefore, until both chambers of Congress can pass such a law by veto-proof margins, Obama retains the power. This is probably why House Republicans, just two weeks earlier, scoffed at the suggestion that they pass this sort of legislation when the idea came up before the Rules Committee.

If the GOP position sounds contradictory, that’s because it’s less about the Constitution than cleavages within the party.   . . . . . The planned lawsuit was a bone thrown to conservatives to quiet their impeachment talk. The legislation restricting Obama’s executive authority on immigration was a similar effort to buy off conservatives who had been encouraged to rebel by Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.).

But the efforts to placate conservatives aren’t working. 

Until the Christofascists and Tea Party are driven from the GOP we can only expect more insanity and lots of hypocrisy.

Religion - The Driving Force Behind Anti-Gay Animus

As noted in several past posts, the jihad against homophobia did not arise until the Middle Ages and it began in Europe as a handful of ascetic - and I would argue mentally unstable - earlier Catholic Church fathers became obsessed with stamping out all things sexual.  As noted, even a husband and wife were to have sex ONLY to create a child and they were NOT supposed to enjoy it lest they be "fornicators" and damned to an eternity in Hell.  The Origins and Role of Same-Sex Relations in Human Society traces this neurosis and how it spread through the Church as the Vatican sought to enforce priestly celibacy - in no small part to keep control of Church wealth - and imposed rigid conformity with control by an ever more imperial papacy.  Once established within the Church, early missionaries took this neurosis with them around the globe and in time obliterated widespread social acceptance of homosexuality.  It wasn't just small pox and measles that these "servants of God" took to native peoples.  A piece by blogger friend Jeremy Hooper (we first met at the 2008 LGBT blogger summit in Washington, DC) looks at how this religious based neurosis about sex continues to motivate the anti-gay forces.  Here are some excerpts:
If there's any name that modern Americans associate with the wrong side of the marriage equality debate, it's Maggie Gallagher. She will likely go down in history as the most prominent face of that cause. Maggie got there early and she was really loud about it. The National Organization For Marriage co-founder essentially shaped the talking points that the "protect marriage" movement uses to this day.

And as I knew then, Maggie's advocacy and overall view on marriage was largely guided by the fact that she, like most everyone involved at NOM, is a deeply devout Roman Catholic. In her latest column for National Review, which she titles "Why Catholic Marriage Matters" and in which she argues that divorce and remarriage is a sin, Maggie makes this very canonical root very apparent. . .

It's pretty clear that if Maggie had never come back to the Catholic church (her mom left it when she was a kid), then she never would have taken on this pet cause. It's possible that she would have gotten involved, but it's not probable. Maggie makes it clear that her views on marriage—from who can enter it, how two people conduct themselves within it, and how they dissolve it (if they even can)—are much more informed by the confessional than they are by the constitution. 

So much of what those of us who have had the focused conversation about civil marriage equality have had to take on and refute has been a wholly (and hole-y) faith-driven viewpoint that movement masterminds like Maggie—and Robert George and Brian Brown and Salvatore Cordileone and Ryan T. Anderson and...—then back up and reshape into something they think they can sell to the public. They sell special exceptions for tax-subsidized Catholic adoption agencies as "religious freedom;" sell resistance to fair employment protections as "coercion;" they sell the denial of thousands of state and federal rights to certain couples, many with children, as "protecting marriage and family." But no matter the packaging, it's always a religious view. It's a moral stance. It's a personally-held conviction that they, the ones who choose to subscribe to a certain orthodoxy, then pit against the shared public policy of a nation with supposedly distinct lines between church and state. And increasingly, with Bishops acting like lobbyists and the NOM that Maggie co-founded pretty much operating as a wing of the Vatican, it's a very Catholic view.

In essence, marriage inequality doyenne Maggie and her merry band of devotees have demanded—stealthily and strategically—that we all give currency to specific convictions that may or may not have any weight within our life. And worse yet? They love to accuse us of only thinking of ourselves. 
Jeremy is right.  The selfish ones are the Christofascists who demand that others live by their rules in large part so that they can avoid facing the growing scientific and historic proof that they are living their lives based on myths concocted my ignorant herders from over two millennia ago.  The ultimate irony - and perhaps hypocrisy - is that super Catholic Maggie Gallagher, a former unwed mother, is married to a Hindu (I have nothing against Hindus and have many Hindu clients who from my experience are far, far more moral in their conduct than most "godly Christians" I encounter).  Maggie Gallagher's unwed pregnancy seems to have unhinged her and she bizarrely sought solace in Catholicism.  Then, because of her own personal demons, she sought to force all others to live by her neurotic moral code.  Sadly, she continues this agenda and works hand in hand by Catholic clergy who close their eyes to the rape and abuse of children and youths while seeking to punish those who have thrown off the shackles of the Church's truly Middle Age view of sex.

Friday, August 01, 2014

More Friday Male Beauty

Uganda Court Annuls anti-Homosexuality Law

In addition to losing nearly two dozen law suits in America seeking to uphold anti-gay marriage bans, the Christofascists have now also suffered a defeat in Uganda where that nation's constitutional court has invalidated the "kill the gays" law that was inspired by and advocated for by American Christofascists exporting homophobia (and its attendant lies and propaganda) to the ignorant and uneducated Ugandan populace.   I suspect that hate merchants like Scott Lively, Tony Perkins, and fat tub of lard Rick Warren are weeping and ranting at this 100% correct ruling.  Here are highlights from the BBC on this most welcome development.
Uganda's Constitutional Court has annulled tough anti-gay legislation signed into law in February.

It ruled that the bill was passed by MPs in December without the requisite quorum and was therefore illegal.

Homosexual acts were already illegal, but the new law allowed for life imprisonment for "aggravated homosexuality" and banned the "promotion of homosexuality".

Several donors have cut aid to Uganda since the law was adopted.

Ugandan government spokesperson Ofwono Opondo said the government was still waiting the attorney general's advice about whether to challenge the ruling in the Supreme Court.  He added that the ruling showed to Western donors that Uganda's democracy was functioning very well and that they should reinstate any aid they had cut.

The Ugandan authorities have defended the law in the past, saying President Yoweri Museveni wanted "to demonstrate Uganda's independence in the face of Western pressure and provocation".

The challenge to the law was brought by 10 petitioners, including academics, journalists, both ruling and opposition MPs, human rights activists and rights groups.

"The retrogressive anti-homosexuality act of Uganda has been struck down by the constitutional court - it's now dead as a door nail," the AFP news agency quotes prominent journalist Andrew Mwenda, one of the petitioners, as saying.
Sadly, Uganda was better ruled as a British colony than it is under the corrupt, incompetent and down right ignorant  regime currently in charge.  Not surprisingly, given the lack of an educated populace and the general ignorance of much of the population, evangelical Christianity and Roman Catholicism are currently flourishing in Uganda.  Perhaps Michelle McQuigg should consider emigrating to Uganda - she'd likely fit right in.

Whack Job Clerk Michele McQuigg to Appeal 4th Circuit Marriage Ruling

Michelle McQuigg - the face of anti-gay hate
My impression of Prince William County Circuit Court Clerk Michelle McQuigg (pictured above) to date is that she's a Maggie Gallagher or Victoria Cobb want to be.  The fact that she is being represented by the grossly inappropriately named Christofascists group The Alliance Defending Freedom speaks volumes about her extremism and Christofascist agenda.  In this regard, it is noteworthy that unlike McQuigg, Norfolk Circuit Court Clerk, George Schaefer has been represented by a legitimate law firm and sane legal counsel even if such counsel has argued in defense of mob majority rule and an amendment that at its heart was motivated solely by anti-gay animus.  Now, BuzzFeed reports that McQuigg and her hate merchant/batshit crazy counsel plan on appealing the ruling of the U. S. Circuit Court of Appeals which held that Virginia's same sex marriage bans are unconstitutional under the U.S. Constitution.  They have also filed a motion asking the 4th Circuit to stay its ruling. Apparently, McQuigg wants to go in the annals of history side by side with the proponents of segregation and opponents of interracial marriage.  Here are highlights from BuzzFeed:
A Virginia county court clerk plans to ask the Supreme Court to hear the case challenging Virginia’s ban on same-sex couples’ marriages, her lawyers informed a federal appeals court Friday.

On July 28, the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a trial court ruling that Virginia’s ban violated the Constitution.

Prince William County Clerk of Circuit Court Michèle McQuigg — represented by a conservative legal organization, the Alliance Defending Freedom — informed the 4th Circuit Court appeals that she “intends to file a petition for a writ of certiorari with the Supreme Court within the ninety days permitted.”

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, meanwhile, said that she believes the court won’t “duck[]” the issue if it comes back to the justices, telling the Associated Press, “If a case is properly before the court, they will take it.”

As such, she asked the 4th Circuit to issue a stay of the mandate in the case — which would put the ruling in effect — pending the filing of the petition and, then, until the “Supreme Court’s final disposition” of the case.

Utah officials previously have said that they will be filing a certiorari petition with the Supreme Court seeking to defend their state’s ban.
Once a certiorari petition is filed by one party, it is possible that other parties could filed a petition for certiorari before judgment in order to give the justices more options to find the “perfect” case — but also so that the various lawsuits’ lawyers and supporting organizations can claim the title of defending the case at the Supreme Court.

McQuigg, for her part, has been a party to the Virginia case, and her lawyer was one of the two attorneys defending the ban before the 4th Circuit Court of Appeal when it heard arguments over the ban in May.

As such, she asked the 4th Circuit to issue a stay of the mandate in the case — which would put the ruling in effect — pending the filing of the petition and, then, until the “Supreme Court’s final disposition” of the case.
Like Victoria Cobb, McQuigg must be a truly miserable, bitter and foul individual if she can only feel justified in her life by striving to deny civil rights to others.  Like Cobb, I suspect she congratulates herself on her piety and "godliness" even as she seethes hatred and hypocrisy.   Once again, I also wonder what the Hell is in the water in Prince William County that a repressed, neurotic individual like McQuigg was elected as Clerk of the Circuit Court in the first place.

Friday Morning Male Beauty

GOP Senators Want to Give Religious Adoption Agencies A "License to Discriminate"

The Republican Party's quest to grant special rights to Christofascists seems to never end.  And the irony is that what these pandering, self-prostituting GOP politicians is 180 degrees opposite of what was once the party's mantra, at least when it came to funding the National Endowment for the Arts.  Back then, arguments that artists' freedom of speech was limited by a move to de-fund those not complying with GOP moral standards was that these artists could do whatever they wanted, all they had to do was not take government funding.  Fast forward to today when religious affiliated adoption agencies line up like pigs at a trough for state and federal taxpayer funded money.  They want not only to gorge on taxpayer funds, but they also want to discriminate at will against various citizens they don't like, especially gays.  Otherwise, they claim their freedom of religion is being attacked.  There is, of course, an easy solution: stop taking taxpayer funds.  That, of course would not allow self-prostitution by GOP politicians.  As The Advocate reports to Republican U.S. Senators are pushing a bill that would allow religious affiliated adoption agencies to discriminate against gays.  Here are highlights:
A new piece of legislation introduced by two Republican U.S. Senators would effectively guarantee that any religiously based child-welfare services can refuse to place children with same-sex couples, without fear of losing federal funding. 

The "Child Welfare Provider Inclusion Act" was introduced Wednesday by Wyoming Sen. Mike Enzi and Pennsylvania Sen. Mike Kelly, both of whom are Republicans. Zack Ford at ThinkProgress keenly notes that while the bill is positioned as an effort to protect faith-based institutions that provide child welfare services from placing children with families that don't meet the organization's religious standards, what it actually does is force the federal government to continue contracting with faith-based groups that flout federal nondiscrimination policies. 

"The bill would force the government to continue to contracting with any organization that provides services to children, regardless of how their religious tenets affect the way they provide those services," explains Ford.

Regardless of a given state's nondiscrimination law, under the draft legislation, any state that denies funding to a religiously based adoption group that won't serve same-sex couples would lose 15 percent of its federal funding to support child welfare programs.

Framing the bill as intended to "ensure that organizations with religious or moral convictions are allowed to continue to provide services for children," the legislation piggybacks on a false choice frequently trotted out by religious charities that oppose marriage equality but provide welfare services, including adoption and foster home placements. Those groups — most notoriously Catholic Charities — claim that if marriage equality or civil unions are enacted in a given state, the organization will be forced to discontinue its work seeking adoptive and foster homes for children because the law would require the group to place children in homes with eligible same-sex couples, which the groups say violates their sincerely held religious beliefs. 

As LGBT legal group Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders notes, in every state where Catholic Charities has claimed to have been "forced out" of the adoption business by LGBT legal relationship recognition, the charity has voluntarily chosen to stop services rather than comply with state law. In each instance, the charity did have the option to continue providing services to children and refusing to serve same-sex couples hoping to adopt children, but the organization would lose its state funding as a result.

While Enzi and Kelly's statements in introducing the bill don't directly connect the legislation with the recent executive orders regarding employment nondiscrimination against LGBT people signed by President Obama earlier this month, the timing of this bill's introduction is curious, given that the federal government just stepped up its refusal to contract with organizations that discriminate against LGBT people in their employment practices.

The Human Rights Campaign denounced the legislation in an email sent to supporters Thursday, saying if passed, the bill's consequences would be "immediate, random, broad, and disastrous." 

"It’s increasingly clear that, post-Hobby Lobby, some in positions of power believe that religious freedom should only belong to a few,"

Call your senators and tell them to vote AGAINST this bill!

There Are No Innocents in the McDonnell Corruption Trial

After taking positions that have made Virginia a laughing stock and earned him nicknames such as "Taliban Bob" and "Governor Ultrasound" former GOP governor Bob McDonnell continue to put Virginia in the tabloid headlines as the federal criminal corruption trial of McDonnell and wife Maureen continues like more episodes reruns of Dallas or Dynasty from the 1980's.  Sadly, as a column in the Washington Post notes, there are few, if any, innocent players in the sordid saga of greed and political bribes.  The bottom line is that Bob and Maureen McDonnell knew better, but tossed integrity aside.  Here are column excerpts that looks at the tawdry storyline:
There are no innocents among the star characters in Courtroom 7000, where the former governor of Virginia and his wife are standing trial in a federal public-corruption case.

The prime players are all manipulators — the helmet-haired politician who once aspired to 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.; his striving, ex-cheerleader wife; and the fast-talking nutritional supplement entrepreneur.

On Wednesday, the rapt gaze of former Virginia first lady Maureen McDonnell followed Jonnie Ray Williams, a former car salesman turned nutraceutical entrepreneur, as he strode across the courtroom and took the witness stand for the first time. I was waiting for her to clasp her hands together and moon, “Oh, Jonnie,” or maybe blow him a kiss.

Her puppy crush is a sad act scripted to avoid jail time for allegedly selling the prestige of the governor’s office in exchange for the Rolex on her husband’s wrist, the Ferrari joy ride, the private jet trips, the $70,000 life raft to save a real estate investment, the vacation at the lake house, the help with a daughter’s wedding, the fancy golf gear and the rounds of golf Bob McDonnell and his sons played at $300 a pop.

No wonder one of the jurors got sick in the middle of the trial this week. 

It’s no secret that the picture-perfect political families we see on campaign posters are usually the Dysfunctional Family Robinson behind closed doors. Governors can be especially messy when it comes to family affairs.

The McDonnells are no different. They were an upper-middle-class family with five kids when they landed in a high-profile world of money and prestige. And they were in over their heads.

Williams saw them as an easy target — self-made folks who never saw a silver spoon until they earned one themselves.

This wasn’t about a disintegrating marriage and an emotional, needy wife. This was a couple who presented themselves as a shining example of all that is moral and righteous. And once Virginians, believing that they were good people, had put McDonnell in office, they allegedly sold off what the people of Virginia had given them — the public trust. That’s why they were charged in a 14-count federal indictment.

Most of us play by the rules, refusing to give in to greed on a daily basis. . . . . Integrity and honesty abound in this country. 

The McDonnells, by contrast, seemed all too eager to cash in. Ferraris? Plane rides? Golf clubs? A wedding catered? They knew better.


Are We Turning our backs on Syrian Atrocities?

The answer to the question posed in the title of this post is a resounding "yes" - at least in some circles.  In others, the horrors being done in Syria are used to justify a stance of "see, what Israel is doing isn't so bad." Neither approach is right and moral.  Just because one group is committing atrocities doesn't make it OK for a different group to engage in evil.  Michael Gerson, a sometimes Israel apologist, brings needed focus on the murderous Assad regime in Syria through a column in the Washington Post.  While religion plays a role in the nightmare in Syria as in the Israel/Gaza atrocities, in Syria the difference is that Assad is a brutal dictator who seemingly wants to become the Hitler/Stalin of the Middle East.  Here are column highlights:
For every dissident and defector I’ve encountered, there is a moment when observation begins to feel like complicity, when remaining a bystander involves culpability. 

A photographer in the criminal and forensics department of the Syrian military police recently told a group at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, “My job on a daily basis was just regular accidents, burnings, drownings, routine things.” In late 2011, as the Syrian uprising intensified, his routine changed. The photographer was sent to the morgue at a military hospital to document the bodies of prisoners arriving from 24 regime intelligence branches and military units. Soon 50 to 60 mutilated, emaciated corpses were coming each day — so many they were kept in storage rooms and parking lots. “Some victims were brought alive to the morgue and killed,” he recalled. 

He was involved in archiving the pictures of corpses taken by all the military photographers. “Pictures of children,” he said, “pictures of the elderly, pictures of women. I saw pictures of my own neighbors, from my own village.” They were images not of terrorists but of a broad, populist movement. 

The photographer decided he “could no longer take part.” But when he approached the opposition to defect, he was urged to stay, continue his work and smuggle out the archive on thumb drives. The result is 55,000 high-resolution photographs taken of more than 11,000 victims between September 2011 and August 2013. The corpses, variously, bear marks from being chained; their eyes have been gouged; there are dark spots left by electric shocks; most are gaunt from starvation.

Why would the Syrian regime keep such meticulous records? The photographer, who goes for security reasons by the name Caesar, describes it as part of a bureaucratic routine in which “the higher-ups got proof their orders were carried out.” It is also the type of practice — witness Nazi Germany or the Soviet Union — employed by a government completely unconcerned with eventual accountability, because it believes it will win. As the Syrian regime assaults Aleppo, the last major city contested by the rebels, this belief is not unreasonable. 

The Syrian conflict will be remembered as a strategic watershed for American foreign policy. When the rebellion was a broad, non-radical uprising — the dead in Caesar’s photos — President Obama did almost nothing to help. When radical groups gained momentum, it became an excuse for further inaction, because America didn’t want to create jihadists. We got the jihadists anyway, who are now causing regional havoc.

Obama embraced the narrowest possible definition of U.S. interests in Syria — the elimination of chemical weapons — which has nothing to do with civilian atrocities by other means. If Obama’s Syria policy is the model or norm for future presidents on atrocity prevention, no atrocity will ever be prevented. And the anti-genocide movement is relatively quiet about it all.

This is the problem with impunity for mass atrocities. It encourages future horrors, which create cycles of terror and revenge, which destabilize whole regions and generate new threats. Which is why atrocity prevention is a core national security interest.
Both Assad and Netanyahu need to be removed from power.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Israel Has Lost All Moral Authority

The image above (which a blogger friend shared via Facebook) is horrible and perhaps I am susceptible to easy emotion because I have young grandchildren in the same general age bracket as the young victim of Israeli war crimes (at least that's how I see the situation).  Ironically, once upon a time I was sympathetic to Israel and thought its military action against Palestinians justified if not overly palatable.   But no more.  Under Netanyahu and his government, Israel acts more like 1940's Nazi murderers that helped prompt Israel's creation.  Hamas supposedly represents a threat to Israel, yet the dead are over 10 to 1 Palestinian versus Israeli.  And the number of children being killed is horrific.  

I for one am tired of being forced to unwillingly subsidize Israel's murder of children through American military aid to Israel.  I've told my U.S. Senators as much.  Tim Kaine sent me a mealy mouthed response that basically said nothing and which I take as an insult to my intelligence.  Mark Warner hasn't even bothered to reply - his campaign just got a pretty nasty e-mail from  me that I will share with readers if I do not get a response tomorrow.

Part of what bothers me in addition to the deaths of innocents is the mindset evidenced by Israel which mirrors the Christofascists/Tea Party elements of the GOP base: if one isn't of the same skin color and/or religious belief construct, then you are not human and are worthy of death and mayhem.  Religion is a poison and it is what needs to be eradicated from the face of the planet.

Assholes like Victoria Cobb, Maggie Gallagher, and Tony Perkins, et al, spend millions against gay marriage and the dissemination of hatred when there are far larger evils to be defeated, starting with religious based bigotry and hatred.  If they are what Christianity is all about, please consider me an atheist.  Their God is nothing less than horrifically evil.  Ditto for Netanyahu's God.

"Speaker Cruz" Kills Boehner's Border Security Bill

The Frankenstein monster created by the so-called GOP establishment when it cynically - and short shortsightedly - welcomed Christofascists and Tea Party lunatics into the GOP grass roots continues to control the Republican Party as evidenced by today's batshitery in Congress where Ted Cruz and company torpedoed John Boehner's Border Security Bill.  The unadulterated racism and bigotry of the GOP base is chilling.  They claim to honor Jesus and the Gospel message, yet they are the antithesis to Him/it.  Mother Jones looks at the insanity.  Here are highlights:
The House GOP fell into chaos and bickering Thursday afternoon, when House Speaker John Boehner yanked a pair of bills from the floor at the last minute. The House was supposed to have an easy final day of work before members jetted home for their five-week summer recess. But Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), starring in a cameo role as Speaker of the Tea Party, sabotaged Boehner's best-laid plans.

The GOP leadership had originally intended to pass a limited spending measure to bolster border security and immediately scoot off, leaving the final tricky decision-making to the Senate. But the tea party wing of the House—inspired and encouraged by Cruz—revolted against Boehner and refused to go along with the spending bill. The House border-security measure would have appropriated $659 million in emergency spending, far less than the $3.7 billion that President Obama had requested. But it was still too much for many GOPers and it lacked the hardline, anti-immigration reform provisions many Republicans craved.
Earlier this month, Cruz introduced a bill in the Senate to defund Obama's policy of deferring deportation for young undocumented immigrants, legislation that was a non-starter in the Democrat-controlled upper chamber. But, according to Politico, Cruz gathered a group of conservative House Republicans in his Senate office Wednesday night and convinced them to insist on a vote to strike down the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program in exchange for supporting Boehner's border bill. By Thursday morning House leadership had yielded to that Cruz-driven demand, and a bill to revoke DACA was on the docket for the afternoon. 

It seemed like a decent plan. But...not for the tea partiers.  Throwing the far-right wing the DACA-vote bone wasn't enough. On Thursday afternoon, Boehner, after meeting with his caucus, abandoned ship. He canceled the vote on the border security measure, no doubt because he didn't have enough Republican votes to pass it. The Rs then announced they were postponing the Thursday-night departures and held open the possibility of a Friday morning meeting—where just maybe Boehner and his team could figure out a way to save face and round up the votes they need. For the time being, Cruz had won.
 The ultimate irony is that Cruz himself wasn't born in the United States (he was born in Calgary, Canada).

More Thursday Male Beauty

The GOP's Ridiculous War "for" Women

Unless one is a Kool-Aid drinking Christofascist or utterly motivated by greed and a quest for lower taxes, it is becoming harder and harder for saner and rational women to vote Republican.  The GOP at both the state and federal level is obsessed with controlling women's' bodies and seemingly wants women bare foot and subservient to either their husbands or other white males.   Despite this reality, the GOP is trying to "win back women voters" through approaches that would require one to have had a lobotomy or have the IQ of a trainable mentally retarded individual - Karen, are you listening?  Not surprisingly, most women are not buying the disingenuous propaganda.  Here are highlights from Salon n this GOP idiocy:
In an exciting new development for American politics, the Republican Party ran some spreadsheets and crunched some numbers and — lo and behold — have discovered that women vote. However belated this revelation might be, the GOP is running at this knowledge with everything they have.

Yesterday, high-ranking Republican woman Cathy McMorris Rogers unveiled a bold new campaign to reach out to the half of the population the GOP has been trying to keep broke, barefoot and pregnant. And to prove that they are the party of business and branding, Republicans even came up with a scorching new slogan that’s destined to set the meme-world on fire:  “The War for Women.”

That’s right, they’ve cleverly declared that they are not, as is widely assumed, waging a war on the fairer sex — it’s actually all for them. So now the GOP is fighting against those who are saying it’s a war on women.
[W]omen are working and they are making money and they are buying things. Which means that something has changed since 1953 when Cathy McMorris Rogers was put into the cryogenic chamber from which she apparently emerged just this week. 

Because reliable contraception combined with changing social attitudes and laws making labor markets more hospitable, large numbers of women left traditional forms of female employment and sought careers. They are the reason that today’s commentators can have meaningful discussions about “women at the top.”

That’s certainly not something Cathy McMorris Rogers wants anyone to think about too deeply. After all, she’s adamantly opposed to the birth control mandate in the Affordable Care Act . . . .

Instead of helping women maintain control of their reproduction, the “War for Women” is a hodgepodge of stale policy proposals for weak tax credits, a bill to prevent employers from firing women who ask about equal rights in the workplace (shocking that this is even necessary) and the pièce de résistance: a bill to allow “flex time” in lieu of overtime, an employer’s dream legislation that will lower their bottom line while giving the ladies the illusion that they are “free” to work less. (Flex time should be an addition, not a tradeoff for overtime.)

Meanwhile, as the Huffington Post’s Laura Basset points out, the record shows that in this Congress the GOP blocked the Paycheck Fairness Act — a common-sense initiative that would halt the practice of firing employees who talk about their salaries with their co-workers — and refused to bring bills to the floor that would have provided real childcare tax credits, mandatory paid sick leave and family leave and would have required that employers allow pregnant women certain accommodations in the workplace.

The patented GOP reverence for “life” is remarkably absent everywhere in society except on the sidewalks outside of abortion clinics. If these people are fighting “for” working women, they’ve got a funny way of showing it.

[T]these ongoing assaults on women’s freedom from the courts, as well as the insulting rhetoric coming from conservative pundits and politicians, are only helping women’s groups and the Democratic Party raise more money than ever. It appears that women don’t actually like being exhorted to just “close their legs” and seem to understand quite clearly that the Republican Party agenda is hostile to working families and they and their male allies are putting their money where their mouths are.  

Nine Former Ex-Gay Leaders Unite in Opposition to "Ex'Gay" Conversion

The hate merchants at the National Association for Marriage, Family Research Council, Focus on the Family, and here in Virginia, The Family Foundation, must be feeling disheartened.  Anti-gay marriage bans are falling around the country like a string of dominoes, polls show that a majority of Americans now support same sex-marriage, gays are serving openly in the U.S. military, and now nine former leaders of Christofascist backed "ex-gay" ministries are denouncing "ex-gay" conversion ministries, a favorite propaganda arm of the far right in its war against gays.  The National Center for Lesbian Rights highlights this latest defeat of the hate-filled Christofascist agenda in the form of an "open letter signed by nine former "ex-gay" leaders..  Here are highlights:
“Conversion Therapy, also known as “reparative therapy”, “ex-gay therapy,” or “sexual orientation change efforts” (SOCE), professes to help lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people to change or overcome their sexual orientation or gender identity. The majority of those who practice this “therapy” often do so with little or no formal psychological training, operating instead from a strict religious perspective, believing homosexuality to be a “sin.”

At one time, we were not only deeply involved in these “ex-gay” programs, we were the founders, the leaders, and the promoters.

We once believed that sexual orientation or gender identity were somehow chosen or could be changed. We know better now. We once thought it was impossible to embrace our sexual orientation or sexual identity as an intrinsic, healthy part of who we are and who we were created to be. We know better now. Looking back, we were just believing (and sometimes teaching) what we had been taught—that our identity needed mending. We grew up being told that being LGBT was disordered, sick, mentally ill, sinful, and displeasing to God. We grew up being told that loving, same-sex relationships were shallow, lust-driven, deceived, disordered, and impossible.

“Toxic” probably sums it up best. That message is poison to the soul. Especially a child’s soul. It can take a lifetime to get rid of that old programming and replace it with healthy, non-toxic views of yourself. Recovery from conversion therapy is difficult at best. Some remain forever scarred, emotionally and spiritually.Conversion therapy reinforces internalized homophobia, anxiety, guilt and depression. It leads to self-loathing and emotional and psychological harm when change doesn’t happen. Regrettably, too many will choose suicide as a result of their sense of failure. 

In light of this, we now stand united in our conviction that conversion therapy is not “therapy,” but is instead both ineffective and harmful. We align ourselves with every major mainstream professional medical and mental health organization in denouncing attempts to change sexual orientation or gender identity. We admonish parents to love and accept your LGBT children as they are. We beseech the church to accept, embrace, and affirm LGBT persons with full equality and inclusion.

As former “ex-gay” leaders, having witnessed the incredible harm done to those who attempted to change their sexual orientation or gender identity, we join together in calling for a ban on conversion therapy. It is our firm belief that it is much more productive to support, counsel, and mentor LGBT individuals to embrace who they are in order to live happy, well-adjusted lives. We fully support the aim of #BornPerfect to bring an end to conversion therapy.”
Who are the signatories of this bombshell letter?  Here they are:

Brad Allen
Lay Leader Volunteer (2005-2007)
Church Network Coordinator (2007)
Exodus International Headquarters

Darlene Bogle
Founder, Director, Counselor (1985 to 1992)
Paraklete Ministries

Michael Bussee
EXIT (1974-1979)
Co-founder (1976-1979)
Exodus International

Catherine Chapman
Project Coordinator (2000-2003)
Women’s Ministry Director (2005-2007)
Portland Fellowship

Jeremy Marks
Founder (1988 – 2000)
Courage UK
Exodus Europe (1988 – 1989)

Bill Prickett
Founder, Executive Director (1986-1988)
Coming Back

Tim Rymel
Outreach Director (1991-1996)
Love in Action

Yvette Cantu Schneider
Executive Director (2001-2005) Living in Victory Ministry  Director of Women’s Ministry (2008-2011)
Exodus International

John J. Smid
Executive Director (1987-2008)
Love In Action
Exodus International Board of Directors (1990-1995; 2002-2008)

The McDonnell Soap Opera Trial Continues - GOP Family Values on Display

While Victoria Cobb and similar neurotic Christofascists continue to lament the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals decision striking down Virginia's same sex marriage bans, Bob and Maureen McDonnell are providing a glimpse at what a godly Christian marriage really looks like: rapacious greed, a willingness to ignore the law, alleged alienation, and putting on a show to satisfy what others expect.  Seemingly, all that is fine from a Christofascist perspective since (i) marriage is only for procreation - and according to past fathers of the Catholic Church even that is sinful if the couple enjoys physical sex - and (ii) one's allegiance is supposed to be subservient to one's slavish obedience to God/the church fathers.   The Richmond Times Dispatch continues to provide coverage of the McDonnell corruption trial show what a GOP version of a godly marriage is all about.  Here are highlights:
Williams earlier testified that after a stock transfer to then-Gov. Bob McDonnell could not be arranged, he had a $50,000 check from the Starwood Trust, a trust for his children, made out to MoBo Realty.
"What did you expect to get in return from the governor," asked Michael Dry, an assistant U.S. attorney.
"To help me move this product forward in Virginia," said Williams. He said he hoped the governor could assist with testing of Anatabloc by the state medical schools, by publicly supporting it and in other ways.

"If you need cash, let me know," he wrote to the governor, adding that his business "was about to break out strong."
Williams told the court that later that summer, he expensed to Star Scientific a trip to Cape Cod, which included McDonnell and his wife, McDonnell's friend and political action committee director Phil Cox and his spouse and a doctor with whom Williams worked on Anatabloc.
Star picked up the tab for golf, sailing, lodging and private airfare on Williams' jet and a clambake on the beach of the luxury resort, capping the evening with a $5,000 bottle of Louis XIII cognac.

Dressed in a dark suit and muted tie, the short and soft-spoken dietary supplement impresario testified that he was with Maureen McDonnell at the Executive Mansion on Aug. 1, 2011, when she asked him what kind of watch he was wearing. He said he told her it was a Rolex and she remarked she would really like the governor to have one.
"You want me to get you a Rolex for the governor?'" he said he asked. "'Yes,'" she said.
He said he bought the Rolex for $6,000 to $7,000 at a store in Malibu, California. Williams said his wife suggested getting it engraved. He called Maureen McDonnell from the store to ask what she would like the engraving to say. She said "71st governor of Virginia."

The transactional nature of the relationship between the governor and his wife and Williams is central to the case being brought by the federal government, which has charged the former first couple with using the governor's office to illegally assist Williams and his company in exchange for the personal gifts received.
Dry asked Williams whether he thought he would have had the launch for his product at the Executive Mansion if he hadn't spent the money he did on the McDonnells.  "No, I did not," he said.

Williams explained the circumstances surrounding the May 31, 2011, trip to Sarasota Florida during which he flew then-first lady Maureen McDonnell on his private plane to participate in a research conference and fundraiser for Anatabloc.

Under questioning from prosecutor Dry, Williams told the eight men and four women of the jury that he put up the first lady and her aide, Mary-Shea Sutherland, at the Ritz Carlton hotel, and that she did not hesitate at the opportunity to address the crowd of doctors, researcher and investors assembled at the Roskamp Institute. 
There's much more.  The take away?  The Christofascists/Virginia GOP support corrupt marriages like that of the McDonnells but oppose loving same sex relationships where no member of the couple is out to rip off Virginia taxpayers and put government favors up for sale. 

Thursday Morning Male Beauty

Calls Grow for Virginia GOP Treasurer to Resign After Anti-Muslim Comments

If one wants more evidence that the Virginia GOP has become a foul sectarian political party that supports civil rights and religious freedom only for far right, white Christofascists, look no farther than Bob Fitz-Simmonds, Treasurer of the Republican Party of Virginia (pictured above).  FitzSimmonds took to Facebook to denigrate Muslims and Barrack Obama after Obama made a statement about Eid al-Fitr, the celebration that concludes the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.  In FitzSimmonds' very small mind, only white Christians are real Americans and only they have made contributions to America.  The Washington Post looks at FitzSimmonds' misogamy.  Here are highlights:

Several Virginia Republican leaders called Wednesday for the resignation of a state GOP official who questioned in a Facebook post whether Muslim Americans have contributed to U.S. society. 

The comment came in response to a statement by President Obama marking Eid al-Fitr, the celebration that concludes the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. 
“In the United States, Eid also reminds us of the many achievements and contributions of Muslim Americans to building the very fabric of our nation and strengthening the core of our democracy,” Obama said. “That is why we stand with people of all faiths, here at home and around the world, to protect and advance their rights to prosper, and we welcome their commitment to giving back to their communities.”
Bob FitzSimmonds, the state Republican Party treasurer, called the presidential statement “pure nonsense” in a public post on his Facebook page.

“Exactly what part of our nation’s fabric was woven by Muslims?” he wrote. “What about Sikhs, Animists, and Jainists? Should we be thanking them too?”

FitzSimmonds, a resident of Nokesville who is the chief deputy clerk of the court in Prince William County, did not return calls and messages seeking comment about the post, which was first reported by the BlueVirginia blog.

He weathered calls for his resignation from state party leaders earlier this year after he posted a crude statement on Facebook about state Del. Barbara J. Comstock (R-Fairfax), and also in 2012 for a Facebook post predicting that Obama would blame George W. Bush when Obama “dies and goes to Hell.”
The sad truth is that today's Virginia GOP holds nothing but contempt for the rights of non-whites, non-Christians, and non-heterosexuals.  Hate and bigotry are its hallmarks just as among its Christofascist party base.

Quotes of the Day: False Excuses for Anti-Gay Marriage Laws

The prissy, self-congratulatory "godly folk" here in Virginia and elsewhere strut around making idiotic justifications for their anti-gay animus and opposition to same sex marriage.  They blather about marriage being for procreation - even though they are fine with the infertile and elderly marrying - and that children "need a mom and dad."  These and other alleged justifications for anti-gay bigotry purposely ignore the real motivation: these people suffer from sexual repression and suffer from neurosis and need a target to release their pent up internal conflict and associated aggression.  This is perhaps particularly true among the Roman Catholic clergy.  In the book "The Origins and Roles of Same-Sex Relations in Human Societies," Jame Neill describes the phenomenon this way:
"Seeing others with the loathed desire and acting on them . . . "places the repression from one's own consciousness in jeopardy, and thus evokes the punitive reaction . .  fueled by the energy of the repressed impulse. . . .  fear and loathing of homosexuality developed in the Middle Ages as a psychological defense mechanism against inner conflict created by the imposition of clerical celibacy and the rigid repression of all sexual expression.  The irrational and at times hysterical tone in which homosexuality was discussed in the Middle Ages can thus be understood as a manifestation of reaction formation and projection originating in organizationally induced psychological conflict. . . "
Stated another way, the homophobes are screwed up mentally/emotionally - indeed, mentally ill in some ways - and seek a target for their own sexual repression. Rather than admit their own problems, the anti-gay crusaders concoct increasingly strained rational for their irrational behavior and loathing of others (it's no coincidence that homophobia remains strongest among the Southern Baptisit and Catholic clergy who remain obsessed with stamping out sexuality in all forms). In a piece in Slate, the growing ridiculousness of these arguments is addressed by Mark Joseph Stern.  Here are excerpts: 
As Yale Law Professor William N. Eskridge brilliantly argued two years ago, there’s really only one internally logical argument against gay rights: the idea that gay people deserve the state’s moral opprobrium. Yet this reasoning was functionally voided by the Supreme Court’s ruling in Romer v. Evans way back in 1996, when Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote that no law motivated primarily by animus against gays could pass constitutional muster. The animus test has its flaws, but it has largely succeeded in keeping baldly moralistic arguments—gay people are gross, or sinful, or sick—out of the courtroom.
Marriage-equality opponents, however, never quite got over the shock of seeing their most treasured argument foreclosed upon. If the state couldn’t justify anti-gay policies by insisting that it’s rational to dislike gays, what other argument could possibly suffice? The question became even more pressing after 2003’s Lawrence v. Texas, which struck down anti-gay sodomy laws on the theory that the 14th Amendment’s promise of “liberty” guaranteed gays a significant degree of personal autonomy. Once again, gay rights opponents were vexed: The court had just nullified their most populist argument—the notion that same-sex sex is a transgression against the laws of nature. What coherent justifications for anti-gay policies could possibly exist in a post-Lawrence landscape? 

The answer, it turns out, is that there are none—none, at least, that aren’t driven by animus. A review of the failed attempts here is instructive. At various points, conservatives argued that every child deserves a mom and a dad; that gay people simply make inferior parents; that marriage isn’t marriage without penile-vaginal penetration; that legalizing gay marriage would lower birth rates and, best of all, that somehow, allowing gay people to get married would cause more straight people to have children out of wedlock. Are you snickering? So were the judges who had the pleasure of hearing these arguments spelled out in court. 

In developing them [anti-gay marriage arguments], anti-gay activists began with a conclusion—gay people don’t deserve the rights that we straight people have—then worked backward, camouflaging each prejudiced premise with a supposedly neutral talking point. Under any kind of scrutiny, these theories instantly fall apart, revealing their bigoted, constitutionally impermissible core.

And yet the inanity continues full-throttle, because gay marriage opponents have backed themselves into the corner they’ve always dreaded. They can’t give up their quest now—but they’re barred from citing the explanations that they truly believe, deep down, to be correct. The result is the current tailspin of idiocy, a shifting argument with rootless standards roaming from rationale to rationale in a desperate attempt to find shelter from the storm of progress swirling around it. It’s a pathetic display, but not an unpleasant one to witness. Stripped of all logic and reason, the argument against gay marriage has been reduced to gibberish.

Virginian Pilot: Gay Marriage Bans are Indefensible

Yesterday's main editorial in the Virginian Pilot lauded North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper who seeks to stop that state's defense of its anti-gay animus inspired Amendment 1.  The Pilot also went on to state emphatically that gay marriage bans are "indefensible" and have only one real goal: to harm and stigmatize same sex couples.  Every other supposed justification is merely a smoke screen for the real motivation.  Here are excerpts from the editorial:
With this week's federal appeals court ruling affirming that Virginia's ban on same-sex marriage is unconstitutional, North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper offered some badly needed plain talk to folks pressing him to defend a similar ban in his own state.

"Our attorneys have vigorously defended North Carolina marriage law, which is their job," Cooper said, shortly after receiving word of the three-judge panel's decision in the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals.

"But today we know our law almost surely will be overturned as well. Simply put, it is time to stop making arguments we will lose and instead move forward, knowing that the ultimate resolution will likely come from the U.S. Supreme Court."

For his pragmatism and common sense, Cooper was excoriated, much like his Virginia counterpart, Mark Herring, has been since announcing six months ago that he wouldn't defend Virginia's ban.

But the legal basis for their position is sound, as more than 20 consecutive rulings have demonstrated since 2013, when the Supreme Court invalidated discriminatory restrictions in the Defense of Marriage Act. It is nonsensical - and a waste of resources - for states to continue litigating similar cases in lower courts with an expectation of a different result, particularly when that state is in the same federal circuit. Like Virginia, North Carolina is also part of the Fourth Circuit.

The American Psychological Association, American Academy of Pediatrics, American Psychiatric Association, National Association of Social Workers, and the Virginia Psychological Association argued in legal briefs that there was no evidence to support claims that recognition of same-sex unions imperiled children or society.

However, the groups noted, "by preventing same-sex couples from marrying, the Virginia Marriage Laws actually harm the children of same-sex couples by stigmatizing their families and robbing them of the stability, economic security, and togetherness that marriage fosters."

As Herring and Cooper have noted, and as courts have ruled, such laws are indefensible.
Victoria Cobb and her neurotic/psychotic followers at The Family Foundation and similar groups and in Catholic bishoprics will have to find another way to feel good about themselves.  The days of making gays inferior under the civil laws are on the wane. 

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

More Wednesday Male Beauty

Lobbyists Quietly Advise GOP to Shif on Gay Marriage

Just as Republican politicians continue to take positions that are contrary to majority public opinion on issues such as immigration reform, infrastructure spending in their quest to utterly prostitute themselves to the angry whites who make up the Christofascist/Tea Party base of the GOP, so too are they defying the changing majority view on gay marriage.   The ultimate outcome as Hispanics, gays, non-religious extremists and their supporters flee the GOP is that the party is likely destined for permanent minority status at the national level and, at best will become a regional party concentrated in the backward regions of the South. The Hill looks at the efforts of lobbyist to counsel the GOP to dump its opposition to gay marriage and, more or less, kick the Christofasists to the curb.  Here are excerpts:
Republicans on K Street are helping members of their party shift their stance on gay rights issues.

Kathryn Lehman, a top GOP lobbyist and partner at Holland & Knight, carries a list of 40 to 50 Republican offices in the House and Senate she visits on behalf of Freedom to Marry, a group that backs same-sex marriage.

“The issue is losing its toxicity, from a Republican perspective,” she said, mentioning that the list was a fraction of that size when she first took on Freedom to Marry as a client in 2011.

Lehman, who helped to write the Defense of Marriage Act while working on Capitol Hill, is among a small group of lobbyists and organizations that are leveraging their conservative credentials to try to sway Republican lawmakers on gay marriage, transgender rights and the creation of a federal nondiscrimination policy.
Organizations like Log Cabin Republicans and Project Right Side are also pushing Republicans by providing data about changes in public opinion and, like lobbyists, offering lawmakers and their offices a “safe space” to talk about the challenges facing LGBT individuals.

In addition, Project Right Side, founded by former Republican National Committee Chairman Ken Mehlman, makes the case for how gay rights align with conservative principles.

“We’re also trying to protect a party that we care a lot about. There has been societal change. Any political party that ignores societal change does so at its own peril,” said Mehlman, now the global head of public affairs at investment banking firm KKR, told The Hill.

“As conservatives, we don’t have to ignore it. There is a strong conservative argument for safe schools, for civil marriage, merit-based decisions at work.”
Despite the opposition of religious conservatives, advocates are convinced the tide is turning in their favor.

“I have had meetings with some of the most rock-ribbed social conservatives in Washington,” said Gregory Angelo, the executive director of the Log Cabin Republicans. “A lot of them see the writing on the wall, they see the direction the country is headed.”

A Pew Research Center poll released earlier this year showed that more than 60 percent of Republicans under the age of 30 support gay marriage; 43 percent of those aged 30–49 were in favor.
“I believe that this is the civil rights movement of our generation,” said Thorsen, whose sister recently married her longtime partner, “and I’m proud that I’m on the right side of this, and I’m proud that I can tell my grandchildren that I was there when it mattered.”

Is thr Main Stream Media Waking Up to the Idiocy of Hosting Hate Group Leaders?

In the past I have lamented that all too often main stream media news outlets - CNN and MSNBC have been particularly guilty - have provided platforms for hate group leaders to spew anti-gay venom without ever (i) challenging the anti-gay rants and/or (ii) revealing to viewers the other ugly baggage that such individuals carry with them.  A perfect case in point in the past has been Tony Perkins, a man who is virulently anti-gay, has white supremacist ties and who constantly cites thoroughly discredited "research" to support his anti-gay lies.   New analysis by Media Matters suggests that news outlets that want to be considered legitimate have of late been giving Perkins the cold shoulder.   Here are highlights:
Family Research Council (FRC) president Tony Perkins has all but ceased to appear as a guest on CNN and MSNBC. It's a dramatic change for the anti-gay hate group leader, whose constant appearances on cable news during the 2012 GOP primary cycle drew criticism from progressive faith groups.

Since becoming president of the Family Research Council in 2003, Perkins has used his position as a leader among social conservatives to command significant media attention. FRC hosts the annual Values Voters Summit, making Perkins an easy choice for networks looking for a prominent voice to comment on social conservatism and GOP politics.

In 2010, the Southern Poverty Law Center labeled FRC an anti-gay "hate group," citing the organization's propagation of known falsehoods about LGBT people.

That label, unfortunately, didn't stop cable news networks from continuing to invite Perkins on national television on behalf of social conservatives. During the 2012 Republican presidential primary season, Perkins appeared on CNN, MSNBC, and Fox News a total of 56 times. MSNBC was particularly friendly to Perkins, with Hardball host Chris Matthews praising Perkins as an "honest conservative" who always tried "to find the truth" during a November 2011 interview:

Perkins' platform on cable news didn't sit well with audiences familiar with his long and sordid history of bigoted anti-LGBT rhetoric.  Faithful America, a progressive Christian group dedicated to "reclaiming Christianity from the religious right," launched a petition in February 2012 asking the network to stop inviting Perkins on air. The petition garnered 20,000 signatures, which were delivered to MSNBC's headquarters.

Perkins' platform at MSNBC created an awkward situation for Hardball host Chris Matthews. At a March 2012 book event, Matthews was asked about his willingness to invite Perkins on his show and admitted that his critics "may be right." At a book signing a few weeks later, Matthews told Faithful America members that the group had "a good argument" for no longer hosting Perkins." Perkins did appear on Hardball once more, in a joint appearance with gay Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA. But rather than offer the warm welcome Perkins had come to expect, Matthews grilled Perkins on his anti-LGBT extremism.

In the summer of 2013, Faithful America launched a similar petition targeting CNN after the network hosted Perkins to discuss the Supreme Court's ruling on Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). The petition urged CNN not to let Perkins "speak on behalf of America's Christians" and quickly gathered more than 32,000 signatures.

A new Equality Matters analysis finds that both MSNBC and CNN have largely ended their practice of hosting Perkins in the months since the end of the 2012 GOP primary.  . . . . Perkins' appearances on CNN have steadily declined in the last year, and he hasn't been on the network since February: At Fox News, on the other hand, Perkins' appearances have held steady and actually increased in the past year. 

While Perkins has virtually disappeared from MSNBC and CNN,  FRC's anti-LGBT bigotry and misinformation hasn't entirely faded from the airwaves. In February, CNN's Crossfire hosted FRC senior fellow Peter Sprigg to champion an Arizona bill that would have allowed businesses to refuse services to LGBT people. In May, the network turned to the FRC's Ken Blackwell for his thoughts on gay NFL player Michael Sam.

CNN's willingness to host lesser-known FRC figures shows much work remains to keep anti-gay extremists off of cable news. But if CNN and MSNBC have indeed decided to stop hosting Perkins, that's undoubtedly a major step in the right direction.

It should come as no surprise that Fox News, a/k/a Faux News, continues to air Perkins' message of hate and discrimination.  Other, legitimate networks continue to be pressured to put Perkins and his fellow hate merchants in a pariah category that drives them from the airwaves.